First experiment in liberty
1638 – Roger Williams, as the forerunner of religious liberty in America, procured a deed for Aquidnet Island, as the agent for Dr. John Clarke and his company from the Narraganset sachems. On the same day Williams also was able to secure a deed for Providence for himself. Dr. Clarke and a company of nineteen had become disenchanted with both the Puritans and Pilgrims in the winter of 1637 and went first to New Hampshire and then turned south toward Long Island and Delaware. Stopping at Providence, they stayed with Williams who persuaded them to go to Aquidnet where Dr. Clarke founded what many believe to be the First Baptist church in America. Prior to this, Williams among a few others of the Puritans had a sincere desire to take the gospel to the Indians. He went out among the Massoits, made friends, learned their language, and taught them the gospel of Christ. The Indians were most happy that a white man met on their level. Williams even drafted a treaty of friendship between them which paved the way for future colonies. Later, when the Boston authorities planned to seize Williams and put him on a ship to send him back to London because of the issue of infant baptism, he, only in his coat and what food he could carry, in a blinding snow storm, left his wife and baby, and walked to the Narragansett Indians. Greeting him as a friend, they insisted that he remain with them in hiding. While there he was able to mediate a conflict that developed between two chieftains. War was averted, and as a reward Chief Massasoit gave him a tract of land. Also during exile Williams decided to establish his own independent colony which would be open to all who desired to enjoy religious freedom. This eventually became the State of Rhode Island.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 119.
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Memorial – Brooklyn
A Noble lady persecuted
1644 – LADY MOODY FLEES RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN ENGLAND TO BE PERSECUTED BY PURITANS IN AMERICA – 1644. On February 22, 1644 John Endicott wrote a letter to John Winthrop, Governor of Plymouth Colony from Salem, Mass. that Lady Deborah Moody had been “excommunicated” from the Congregational Church at Salem and that a Mr. Norrice had informed him that she intended to return to Plymouth which he advises against, “unless shee will acknowledge her ewill (evil) in opposing the Churches & leave her opinions behinde her, for she is a dangerous woeman. My brother Ludlow writt to mee that, by means of a book she sent to Mrs. Eaton, shee questions her owne baptisme, it is verie doubtefull whether shee will be reclaimed, shee is so far ingaged.” Gov. Winthrop stated that she left “against the advice of all her friends. Many others affected with Anabaptism removed thither also. On her way from Mass. Lady Moody stopped for a time in New Haven and made converts to believer’s baptism and encountered once again religious opposition. Mrs. Eaton, wife of the first Governor of New Haven Colony, was one of the converts, and she too suffered persecution from the Congregational Church at New Haven. She firmly denied that baptism was to be administered to infants. Lady Moody was the widow of Sir Henry of Garsden in Wiltshire, England and came to America because of religious persecution and then received persecution from the hand of the Puritans, who themselves had fled persecution, after she got here. She settled in Lynn, Mass., where she purchased the estate of Mr. Humphrey, one of the magistrates. She had intended on being a permanent resident, but soon became a Baptist. In Dec. 1642 Lady Moody, Mrs. King of Swampscott, and the wife of John Tillton were all tried at the Quarterly Court “for houldinge that the baptizing of infants is noe ordinance of God.” Perhaps because of her position in society she was not banished from Mass. However she determined to seek shelter among strangers and in 1643 moved to New Amsterdam (New York), a settlement that was formed on Long Island, and she took a patent, which, among other things guaranteed, ‘the free liberte of conscience according to the costume of Holland, without molestation or disturbance from any madgistrate or madgistrates,
or any other ecclesiastical minister that may pretend jurisdiction over them.” It is believed that Lady Moody died on Long Island about 1659.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 73.
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