Posted: 15 Feb 2015 04:03 PM PST
Dr. Richard Furman
When church membership meant something
On Feb 16, 1750, Oliver Hart began his ministry in Charleston, S.C. at the Baptist church that was established when William Screven led his congregation to flee when they were persecuted in Kittery, Maine. Richard Furman who later became pastor, began his term of service in 1787. Following are some of the terms of church membership for the Charleston church at that time. Possibly the pendulum had swung too far to the right by then, but who can deny that in these days of “anything goes religion”, the pendulum has swung too far to the left, and in many instances, church membership has almost become meaningless. They had three main rules for church membership. First they were to notify the pastor of their desire for membership in time before the next communion seasons so that he could appoint the deacons or any other of the brethren that he may think proper, to visit the candidate to obtain needful information concerning their faith, character and life. The second phase involved a period where appointed people would spend a time of fellowship with the prospective members to become better acquainted with them. The third step would be a face to face meeting with the congregation where they would have the opportunity to ask the candidate any questions concerning their faith and repentance, etc. If all was well, they would then be baptized and admitted to all of the privileges of the church. Or they would accept them on receiving a letter of recommendation from the church from where they had come – The date was 1828.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 95-97.
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“The Apostle of Education”
Richard Furman began to preach at the age of 16 and became popularly known as the “boy-evangelist.” Reese and Evan Pugh ordained him two years later, on May 10, 1774, as pastor of High Hills. After a fruitful ministry there of 13 years, he became pastor of the Charleston Baptist Church, which he served for the rest of his life. “In the community no minister ever enjoyed so large a share of general confidence and reverence.” For 38 years he made “annual excursions” into various parts of the state, preaching the gospel and promoting the interests of the denomination. This itinerant ministry resulted in numerous revivals and the formation of many churches. His eloquence and fame as a preacher once opened for him an opportunity to preach in the United States Congressional Hall.
During the time that education was suspect for ministers in the South, particularly among the Separate Baptists who feared that schools would dilute Baptist spirituality, divert mission money, and lead to a hireling ministry, Richard Furman become known as the “Apostle of Education.” He led the association to form a General Committee in 1790 to administer educational funds. This committee provided funds for scholarships to attend the Baptist College in Providence, Rhode Island, and for young men to study under pastors who would also lead them in the reading of theology.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 191 -192
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Why Tarriest Thou?
At the close of the Triennial convention in May of 1814, Richard Furman on his way home to Charleston, S.C., stopped in the Nation’s Capitol. He happened to meet an acquaintance, Mr. James Monroe. Mr. Monroe said, “and you were the young preacher who fled for protection to the American camp, on account of the reward which Lord Cornwallis had offered for your head?” It seems that young Furman was not only a warm-hearted Baptist preacher, but an ardent advocate of the Revolutionary War. Everywhere, on stumps, and in barns, as well as in pulpits, he preached resistance to Britain. Colonel Monroe insisted that reverend Furman preach in the Hall of Congress. All the elite, including the President and Cabinet Ministers, would be present, for Colonel Monroe had circulated the early efforts and eloquence of the young preacher. Furman chose for his text, Acts 22:16, “And now, why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized.” He enjoyed great freedom as he spoke, and his voice rang out as in days of old. His earnestness caught the imagination of his audience and everything built as with a grand crescendo. Catching the spirit of the hour, he rose to the grand climax of his presentation. His clear stentorian voice rang out, “And now, why tarriest thou? Arise! And be baptized.” At the word “ARISE,” several of his august audience seemed electrified and rose from their seats, as if alarmed at their past sinful hesitation. This Mr. Monroe, Colonel Monroe, soon after became President James Monroe of the United States. Reverend Furman later contributed greatly to the constitutional change, which ended the established church (i.e. state/church) in South Carolina.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III, (David L. Cummins) p.p. 270 – 272
On Jan. 16, 1802, Stephen Nixon became pastor of the Congaree Baptist Church in Richland County, S.C. Congaree church was quite famous in that it had been established by Daniel Marshall and Philip Mulkey, the great Separate Baptist preachers in 1765. He served the church well until his death on Feb. 4, 1816 at age 62. Stephen was born in Dec. of 1754, in Sumter District, S.C. Stephen was saved sometime after 1774 through the ministry of the renowned Richard Furman, pastor of High Hills of Santee Baptist Church. In quick order he was baptized, licensed, and ordained by the High Hills church. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War he felt compelled to serve the newly formed nation, and he enlisted in the military. He served under Gen. Thomas Sumter, and Gen. Nathanael Greene. He was appointed Sargent and fought in the Battle of Eutaw Springs. At 25 he married Martha A. Nettles. Their home was graced with ten children. Stephen was greatly used of the Lord in his 37 years of ministry. He was a messenger seven times to the Charleston Baptist Association when he was pastor of the High Hills church. He was a great church planter in planting many churches, including the First Baptist Church of Columbia, S.C. in 1809. The only physical violence that Baptists experienced in S.C. was at Cheraw Hill. Stephen must have looked forward to the Annual Association meeting that was to take place at the Cheraw Hill Baptist Church, but it wasn’t to be, because the Lord had another meeting planned for him, a meeting in glory. Following is from page 2, Sec. 18 from the minutes of the Association – 1816: “The humility and piety of Rev. Stephen Nixon, were of an extraordinary character.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins, pp. 33-34.
His brilliance was revealed early
William Staughton was born in Coventry, England, on Jan. 4, 1770. His brilliance was revealed early when at the age of twelve he published poems in Goldsmith’s Animated Nature. He was saved early in life, and baptized by Rev. Samuel Pearce of Birmingham. In 1792 he graduated from Bristol Baptist College, and while a student attended the organizational meeting of the first modern-day missionary agency in the world. Though still a youth, he sat in the company of men like William Carey and Andrew fuller. He pastored briefly in Northampton, and then sailed to America in 1793. Richard Furman requested that he serve as pastor of the Baptist church in Georgetown, S.C., where he remained briefly. Ordained on June 17, 1797, he served two churches in New Jersey. He assisted in founding a seminary and continued his studies. From 1805 to 1823, he served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia and later the Sanson St. Baptist Church of that city. During that period he also served as the principle of a Baptist Theological institution. He also served as corresponding secretary of the American Baptist Board of foreign Missions. In 1823 he was appointed the first President as first president of Columbian College in Washington in Washington, D.C. He sent his library ahead in anticipation of the move but he never made it. He became ill and passed into the presence of the Lord on Dec. 12, 1829.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins /, pp. 7-8.
“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.