A Hostile Investigation Produced an Ordination
John Gano professed conversion to Christ at a young age and was strongly inclined to unite with the Presbyterian Church; but doubting the scriptural authority for infant baptism, he entered into an elaborate investigation of the subject. He became convinced of Baptist principles. He soon received permission from his father to be baptized and unite with the Baptist church at Hopewell, New Jersey.
Soon Gano became much exercised in mind about preaching Christ to dying sinners. One morning while plowing, the words, “Warn the people, or their blood will I require at your hands,” came to him with such force that he became insensible to his work. Soon, after applying himself to study for the call, and before he was licensed to preach, he accompanied David Thomas and Benjamin Miller on a missionary tour of Virginia. Their principal mission was to set in order a small church on Opecon Creek which was in a deplorable condition. The church had only three members able to give an account of their conversion. On this occasion Gano exhorted the people. Upon returning home, his church called him to account for preaching without license but before proceeding to condemn him, they requested that he preach to them. His preaching so favorably impressed the congregation that they called for his ordination which took place on May 29, 1754.
Sometime later he was sent south as a missionary and came to Charleston, South Carolina, where he preached for Mr. Oliver Hart. In his journal Gano wrote of the service: “When I arose to speak, the sight of so brilliant an audience, among whom were twelve ministers and one of whom was Mr. George Whitefield, for a moment brought the fear of man upon me; but, blessed be the Lord! I was soon relieved of this embarrassment. The thought passed my mind, I had none to fear and obey but the Lord.”
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 219 -220.
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“Never give up on a lost soul”
1814 – William Carey received an invitation to send a missionary to Amboyna, where 20, 000 national believers had no missionary to minister to them. Carey’s son Jabez immediately offered himself, and though he was not yet twenty, he crowded his marriage, ordination and farewell into a short time and then left for his mission. After the conversion of two of his sons, Dr. Carey became very anxious about the soul of Jabez, who had just begun practicing law. Carey wrote to his support team, which included John Ryland as the chief. On the Baptist Missionary Societies 20th anniversary, Dr. Ryland addressed two-thousand “of the mission’s friends in London, in the Dutch Church (Austin Friars), and weeping, asked them to pray for Jabez. God wonderfully answered prayer. In the very next mail Dr. Carey received a letter stating that Jabez had been gloriously saved. Some of the Baptist Pastors in the Northhamptonshire Association called on the churches to appoint a day each month for prayer. Paul assured the Corinthians that they were “helping together by prayer.” May we pray our own children, to the harvest fields of the world!”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 09-10.
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“Blest be the tie that binds…”
1740 – John Fawcett was born, who later became the pastor of the Baptist Church at Wainsgate, England. He had been converted under the preaching of George Whitefield. At age 19 he had been baptized into the fellowship of the Baptist Church at Bradford. His ordination took place in 1765, when he became the pastor at Wainesgate. Six years later Dr. John Gill died, leaving the famed Baptist church at Southwark, London, without a pastor. Fawcett was offered the position, but upon news of their leaving Wainesgate, the congregation was filled with grief. In those days it was rare for a pastor to move, and he would live and die among the people that he served in the gospel. When the fateful day came, a van was sent from London to remove their belongings. Tearful men and women stood around and watched them carry the pastor’s things to the van. Mrs. Fawcett went back into the home weeping, and said to her husband, “I know not how to go.” He replied, “Neither do I.” At that they ordered the things to be taken off the van and placed back in the house. After the moving men and the good people had left them alone, John Fawcett sat down and wrote the beloved hymn: “Blest be the tie that binds, Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds; Is like to that above.” In later years he became a Dr. of Divinity and was invited to be the Principal of Bristol College, but he died as he had lived, among his own people. King George III having read some of his writings contacted to ask him if he could do anything for him, which he declined. Later his influence with the King was used to save a man from being executed, and several others from heavy legal penalties.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 08-09.
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Elder Elijah Craig
“Polecat” Baptists – a stench to some, a blessing to others
Bartholomew Choning, James Goolrich, and Edward Herndon were all Baptist laymen in the state of Virginia in the latter part of the 18th Century, and all had the gift of exhortation. They were fearless men and were accused of “jamming a Scripture verse down the throat of every man they met upon the road.” They were evidently apprehended and imprisoned to await trial July 15, 1771. After the trial, the court record “ordered that they be remanded back to the gaol.” John Burrus, a licensed minister, was hauled into court along with the three laymen. These men were all from Caroline County, Virginia. Then there was Elijah Craig who spent time in jail at Bowling Green, Virginia. Those from Caroline County were members of Polecat Baptist Church because of its proximity to “Polecat” Creek. All of them had been preaching without state church ordination or proper license. The church was later named Burrus Meeting House after the venerable preacher, and when the church was moved from near Polecat Creek to the White Oak Seats the name became Carmel. Carmel Church is still located on U.S. Highway 1, just north of Richmond, Virginia, one mile West off of Interstate 95. In the churchyard there is a memorial to these men and all who suffered incarceration for the sake of the gospel. Inside the church is a famous painting by Sidney King of Patrick Henry defending the five Baptist preachers in Fredericksburg, Va., at an earlier date. The church experienced a revival under the leadership of Andrew Broadus. The church still stands today as a testimony against those who would bring our churches back under state control.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 289-91.
Ordination of “Colored” Billy Harriss
The history of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia, records the fact that “colored deacons were elected, whose duty it was to watch over slave and free Negro members. According to custom, the church licensed certain colored men who, by consecration and aptitude, seemed best fitted to ‘exercise their spiritual gifts in public.’ “ At least fifteen years prior to William Carey’s sailing for India, George Lisle, the “first ordained Baptist Negro in America,” went to Jamaica as a missionary. Lott Carey, member of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, purchased his and his children’s freedom for eight hundred and fifty dollars in 1813. Carey, along with Collin Teague, sailed in 1821 for Liberia and established the First Baptist Church in Monrovia. Prior to the Civil War, Abraham Marshall, pastor at Kiokee, ordained Andrew Bryan in Savannah. It was prior to the Civil War that John Jasper was saved and sent by his “master” to preach the gospel. However, the church minutes prior to the Civil war always alluded to blacks as “belonging to . . . “ and the name of the “master” followed. After the Civil War, the minutes named the black and then stated, “formerly the property of . . . .” Following the Civil War, as before, blacks were still ordained into the gospel ministry. On April 21, 1867, we read from the Kiokee minutes: “The Baptist Church of Christ at Kiokee met and proceeded to the ordination of Brother Billy Hariss, colored, to preach the Gospel.
Dr. Dale R. Hart Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, p. 162
He was known as the “Patriot Pastor”
Samuel Stillman, known as the “Patriot Pastor” was born in Philadelphia on Feb, 27, 1737. At age eleven his family moved to Charleston, S.C. where he came under the ministry of Rev. Oliver Hart. He had been saved as a youth, but it was here that he was immersed, and felt the call to preach and entered into training under his pastor. Soon after his ordination he took charge of a church on James’ Island. He received an A.M. degree from both the College of Philadelphia and Harvard. He pastored the Baptist church at Bordentown, N.J. and then became the Asst. Pastor of the 2nd Baptist Church of Boston. From there the First Baptist Church of Boston called him to be their pastor on Jan. 9, 1765, where he spent the remainder of his life. Boston became the hot-bed of revolutionary activities and Pastor Stillman was right in the middle of it all. The historian, Dr. Magoon, called him “that distinguished patriot…the universally admired pastor of the First Baptist Church. He was small of stature, but great of soul…In the presence of armed foes, he preached with a power that commanded respect.” Men like John Adams, Gov. John Hancock, and Gen. Henry Knox attended his services regularly. The British desecrated his church sanctuary when they occupied Boston and mocked him in charcoal drawings…” His last words were, “God’s government is infinitely perfect.” He then entered into the Lord’s presence on March 12, 1807.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 116 – 118.
“Teach me to study Thy glory in all I do. Amen!”
December 31, 1795 – Was the occasion of Oliver Hart’s death. Dr. Richard Furman said, “From a part of his diary in my possession, it appears that he took more than ordinary pains to walk humbly and faithfully with God; to live under the impressions of the love of Christ…” Hart wrote in his diary on Aug. 5, 1754: “Oh, that, for time to come, I may become more active for God! I would this morning resolve, before thee, O God, and in Thy name and strength, to devote myself more unreservedly to Thy service than I have hitherto done…I would begin and end each day with thee: Teach me to study Thy glory in all I do. Amen!” Oliver Hart was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on July 5, 1723. Early in life he was exposed to the preaching of Whitefield, the Episcopalian, the Presbyterian Tennants, and Edward and Abel Morgan, the Baptists. In those early years he made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. After his ordination he was challenged by a call for ministers to go to Charleston, S.C. He arrived there just as the only ordained Baptist preacher, Jesse Chamber, was buried. His unexpected arrival was considered to be the will of God and the people asked him to assume the pastoral care of the church, which he did on Feb. 16, 1750 and continued for many years. When the British fleet invaded Charleston, wishing to preserve his political liberty, which was being threatened, he removed to Hopewell, N.J., where he assumed the pastorate of the Baptist church there and remained for thirteen years. Hart was another example of one who did not have a formal education but continued to improve his mind in private study. The college of Rhode Island conferred upon him an honorary degree. He helped lay the groundwork for Furman and others.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 549-50.