Clarke’s church became distinctly Baptist
John Clarke was born in Suffolk County, England on October 03, 1609, and received pedo-baptism five days later. Because the University of Leyden shows a “Johannes Clarke” among its students in 1635, some conclude that he attended that famous Dutch school and while there became acquainted with Dutch Baptists. Clarke was a reputable physician, occasionally a lawyer, an able statesman and diplomat, and a successful Baptist pastor. He was certainly an important instrument in the establishment of religious liberty in Rhode Island and the American colonies. He along with many other early Baptists in America, step by step embraced Baptist principles. Often they left the English state church (Anglican) and joined the ranks of the Dissenters because they were moved by the horrible persecutions of the sects, and then they were ultimately persuaded of believers baptism and freedom of conscience as biblical truth. The corruption among the state-church clergy, spiritual deadness were also other catalysts. The belief that Baptist principles were rooted in the Word of God caused John Clarke to separate from the Puritans in New England. We do know that he was one that was relieved of his weapons by Boston authorities in 1637 on suspicion of being “tinged with anabaptism.” There was a church in Portsmouth by 1638 that had two factions. One group held for the authority of the “inner light,” and the other held for the authority of the written Scripture. The controversy led to a division, and the church scattered. Clarke led a group and set up a church at Newport, Rhode Island, where, under his leadership, it became distinctly Baptist. Satan tried to destroy this church through schisms of various kinds, but it remained for the rest of the century, as one of the leading Baptist churches in America.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 410-11.
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“And then went on and declar’d the Marriage Covenant”
November 24, 1800 – Susanna Backus quietly departed this life, five days before her 51st wedding anniversary. Through a painful, debilitating illness, Susanna said, “I am not so much concerned with living or dying, as to have my will swallowed up in the will of God.” Susanna Mason was born in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, in or around 1724. Her great-grandfather had been a soldier in Oliver Cromwell’s Roundhead Army. The families were Baptists in background, and she was converted in 1745 and joined the Separate church and maintained her Baptist convictions when she married Isaac Backus. Backus, not fully persuaded of Baptist principles relating to pedobaptism at that time, became “fully persuaded” and became one of the leaders among the Baptists and exercised great influence in relation to freedom of conscience in the formation of our nation. At their wedding on Nov. 29, 1749, Isaac refused to permit any of the frivolous merrymaking which normally took place at New England marriages, because he considered it a solemn ordinance of God. The wedding took place in her father’s house and was performed by a justice of the peace as was the custom. But Isaac got permission to transform it into a religious ceremony. “Br. Shepherd read a Psalm and we Sung; then we went to prayer and the Lord did hear and Come near to us. And then I took my dear Sister Susanna by the hand and spoke Something of the Sense I had of our Standing in the presence of God, and also how that He had clearly pointed out to me this Person to be my Companion and an helper meet for me. And then went on and declar’d the Marriage Covenant: and She did the same to me…Then I read, and we sung the 101 Psalm after that I preached a Short Sermon from Acts 13:36.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/ , pp. 489-91.