James Madison implores for liberty
1774 – JAMES MADISON WRITES ON BEHALF OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN VIRGINIA – On January 24, 1774, as a citizen of Orange County Va., James Madison wrote: “Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising confidence and ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitates the execution of mischievous projects…I want to again breathe your free air…Poverty and luxury prevail among all sorts; pride, ignorance and knavery among the priesthood, and vice and wickedness among the laity…but it is not the worst…That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some, and, to their eternal infamy the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such purposes. This vexes me the worst of anything…There are at this time in the adjacent county not less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which, in the main, are very orthodox…I have squabbled and scolded, abused and ridiculed so long about it, to little purpose, that I am without common patience. So I must beg you to pity me, and pray for liberty of conscience to all.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson/ Pg. 32
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Daniel Marshall Baptized Samuel Harris.
“the arrow of the Almighty stuck fast.”
Samuel Harris led the charge for the Separate Baptists in Virginia. He was born, Jan. 12, 1724 but not born again until 1758. He was a nobleman, in that he held several positions of honor. He served as sheriff, colonel of the militia, and captain of Fort Mayo. But under the preaching of the Murphy boys he said that, “the arrow of the Almighty stuck fast.” Daniel Marshall baptized him, and he was ordained in 1769. He first preached in Culpepper County but was driven out of town by a mob. In Orange County he was pulled from the platform by a roughneck and abused until rescued by friends. On another occasion he was knocked down while preaching. However, even then he didn’t suffer as other Baptist preachers did. Take the case of “Swearing Jack Waller.” He was on the jury at the trial of Lewis Craig. Craig told the jury, “I take joyfully the spoiling of my goods for Christ’s sake. While I lived in sin the jury took no notice of me.” John Waller’s heart was melted and he was saved and in time became an honored Separate Baptist preacher. One time while he was preaching he was assaulted by an Anglican parson and a sheriff. The parson stuffed his whip handle down his throat but he returned and continued to preach. John Taylor, John Koontz, William Webber, David Barrow, Lewis Lunsford, John Pickett, James Ireland, and Elijah Baker all suffered at the hands of mobs as they attempted to preach the gospel. Sometimes snakes were thrown into their midst. Many attacks were made at their baptism’s. At times preachers were plunged into the mud with the threat of drowning. It could surely be said of them that they were sent forth as, “sheep among wolves.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins /, pp. 24-26.