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292 – Oct. 19 – This Day in Baptist History Past


His head was set on a pole, in front of his church

October 19, 1661 – John James, a Sabbatarian Baptist was arrested. His congregation met in Bulstrake Alley, Whitechapel, London. It was in the afternoon when a justice of the peace entered to disperse the assembly and ordered Mr. James to cease preaching, which the little man promptly declined. He was then taken from the pulpit and transported to Newgate prison where he was charged with having used seditious language in his sermon which James denied in no uncertain terms.

In Nov. he appeared in the dock and pleaded, “not guilty,” and afterward a verdict was given against him upon the evidence of profligate persons. James petitioned King Charles to intercede, but the King treated him with contempt and decreed that the sentence must be fulfilled and that he was to be hanged. To the sentence Rev. James responded by quoting several scriptures including, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints,” and “He that toucheth the Lord’s people toucheth the apple of His eye.” He also told them that they were going to bring innocent blood down upon their heads. He closed by saying, “I have no more to say for myself, but one word for my Lord…The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the King of England.”

On the 26th of Nov. James was dragged…from Newgate to Tyburn, the place of execution…James said, “I do own the title of a baptized believer…The executioner said, ‘The Lord receive your soul, sir,’ to which he replied, I thank thee,’ and added, ‘Father into thy hands I commit my spirit.’ His head was set on a pole, in front of his church, where his people had met in peace.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 433-35

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“A bold patient Sufferer for ye Lord Jesus”
November 29, 1685 – George Fownes died in the Gloucester, England jail. The faithful clerk of the Broadmead Church in Bristol inserted the event into the records of the church in the following words, “…having been kept there for Two years and about 9 months a Prisoner, unjustly and maliciously, for ye Testimony of Jesus and preaching ye Gospel, Fownes dyed. He was a man of great learning, of  a sound Judgment, an able Preacher, having great knowledge in Divinity, Law, Physic, & c.; a bold patient Sufferer for ye Lord Jesus, and ye Gospel he preacht.” From the Broadmead records we discover that Pastors Thomas Ewins, Tomas Hardcastle, and George Fownes were all imprisoned unjustly for the cause of Christ. But many other Baptist ministers endured imprisonments, and some died in jail merely because of their convictions. Francis Bamfield suffered for eight years in Dorchester jail. Thomas Delaune suffered in Newgate prison. John Miller was a prisoner for ten years in Newgate. Henry Forty was incarcerated for twelve years at Exeter. Joseph Wright, a man of great piety and learning, pastored at Maidstone but was imprisoned in the common jail there for twenty years. Thomas Helwys fled to Amsterdam but in time became convinced that he and the others had been wrong to flee persecution. Believing it was his duty to return to England and witness of the truth, he went to London in 1611 with 12 of his followers and settled at Spitalfields. He appealed to the King to grant liberty of conscience and for his convictions “Newgate Prison” became his home. He died in Newgate, barely forty years of age. The Broadmead church was founded by John Canne. He was the first to prepare and publish the English Bible with marginal references.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/, pp. 497-98.

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