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70 – March – 11 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


He Accepted the Reproach of Christ
1818 – The legislature of New Brunswick, Canada passed an act stating that no avowed preacher of the gospel should have a seat in the legislature.  A Baptist evangelist, Joseph Crandall, who was well known throughout the Maritime Provinces, was a member of the New Brunswick legislature.  It was made clear to him that if he was in the pulpit the next Sunday that he would be dismissed from his legislative seat early in the week.  The next Sunday found him behind the sacred desk, as he had chosen to forsake the legislative desk.  His ministry and influence for Christ increased.  He had chosen the reproach of Christ of greater value than the riches and fame of this world.  Crandall’s mother died when he was only thirteen, and not long after his father followed her in death.  Before departing his mother said, “Joseph, the Lord has a great work for you to do when I am gone.”  These words so impressed him that they never left him.  In New Brunswick he came under the influence of two great preachers, Harris Harding and Joseph Dimock, and Joseph saw himself condemned to endless mercy and saw the mercy of God as the only sure remedy through the Lord Jesus Christ.  They saw in Joseph great potential and helped him get an education which eventually saw him ministering to multitudes and saw great numbers baptized.  He stood against the doctrine of “vested rights” and in the right of the “selected few” to govern the many.  To dissent from the church/state notions of the day was, in the judgment of some, treason against the laws of the land.  Crandall stood as the bold and uncompromising advocate of equal rights.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 100.
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52 – February – 21 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


Silas Mercer (L)

Baptists win liberty in Georgia and Virginia

 

1785  – BAPTISTS SECURED RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN GEORGIA AND VIRGINIA AFTER THE NATION WAS ESTABLISHED  – On February 21, 1785, an act by the Georgia legislature was passed for the support of religion, prorated by the number in each denomination, and providing that any “thirty heads of families” in any community might choose a minister “to explain and inculcate the duties of religion, and “and four pence on every hundred pounds valuation of property” should be taken out of the public tax for any such minister, the Baptists rose up in sending a remonstrance to the legislature by the hands of Silas Mercer and Peter Smith the following May. They insisted that the obnoxious law be repealed on the grounds that the state had nothing to do with the support of religion by public tax, and it was repealed.  State governments in America that were accustomed to supporting their established religion by taxing their citizens continued to do so even after the disestablishment of those state churches after the Union was officially established and their state constitutions were in place.  The Baptists considered this to be an antichrist system and had stood united against such taxation for the support of religion even if for the benefit of their own.  This same issue had to be fought by the Baptists in Virginia during the 1780’s against the Anglican establishment.  During this time a general assessment for Religious Teachers was proposed.  The Virginia Baptists strongly opposed the bill and obtained 10,000 signatures against its passage.  The Baptist General Committee meeting at Powahatan, VA, Aug. 13, 1785, resolved: “…that it is believed repugnant to the spirit of the Gospel for the Legislature thus to proceed in the matters of religion; that no human laws ought to be established for this purpose…the Holy Author of our religion needs no such compulsive measure for the promotion of His cause; that the Gospel wants not the feeble arm of man for its support,…and that, should the Legislature assume the right of taxing the people for the support of the Gospel, it will be destructive to religious liberty.”
Baptists in Georgia and Virginia stood firm on their convictions and that’s why we have religious liberty clauses in all fifty states in the Union today.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 71.

 

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19 – January 19 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

Baptists the Authors of Liberty

 

1776 – The Virginia Statue of Religious Liberty was passed. The struggle was so intense that it took ten years of lobbying and petitioning the legislature (the Baptists had three representing them at one time). Thomas Jefferson stated that it was the most fiercely contested piece of legislation of his entire political career. There was also great contention relating to taxation for the support of state church clergy. At one point, Baptist preachers, Jeremiah Moore, Jeremiah Walker, and John Young, delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures to the Virginia legislature in Richmond opposing the general assessment plan for the support of religious teachers. It was the defeat of this legislation that finally paved the way for Jefferson’s statute. William Warren Sweet, in his Story of Religion in America, is justified in saying, “Religious freedom had triumphed in Virginia and was soon to spread throughout the nation and a few years later, in the form of the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution, was to become a part of the fundamental law of the land. Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom was so proud of those accomplishments that he asked that it be recorded on his gravestone. But justice compels the admission that Jefferson’s part in the First Amendment was not as great as James Madison, because of the fact that he was in France during that period. Neither were the contributions of either or both as important as was that of the humble people called Baptists.  The Baptists preached, petitioned, and suffered persecution. God used these humble people to have religious liberty as a fundamental principle of our society in the two great documents mentioned above.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 25-26.

 

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