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Liberty on the Rise

The old court records of New England reveal the names of many Baptists who were constrained to pay taxes for the support of the Congregationalists.  One of those was Nathanael Green who was ordained as the pastor of the Baptist Church in Charlton, Mass. on Oct. 12, 1763.   That Congregation experienced many trials through the years, and at times spiritual depression was known as well as great spiritual revival.  In that Elder Green served until his death on March 21, 1791, it is apparent that the church endured the period of the Revolutionary War.  The pastor is spoken of as “being exemplary, “until he fell asleep in Jesus…”  But the public court record shows that Elder Green was arrested, taken to Worchester, imprisoned, and fined for refusing to pay the “ministers rate,” which we have mentioned before was for the care of the state preacher and his family.  The preacher was advised by Col. Chandler to pay the fine and after six hours he was released.  The pastor received a receipt for, “…sixteen shillings, nine pence, one farthing, being in full for his town and county rates for the year 1767: Benjamin Bond, Constable for the year 1767.”  The pastor sued on the basis that the law is to protect citizens against unscrupulous actions.  He won at the lower court, the assessors appealed and he won in the Superior Court.  The Man of God received all of his money and court costs back.  We should note that the sun of liberty in America was rising in those days.  Today it is just the opposite, when we go to court for the cause of liberty, the court rules for the state and against those that try to uphold freedom, and we have a Constitution, and they didn’t have its benefits yet. But we do have a “sin” problem.  “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”  [Pr 14:34]

Dr. Greg J. Dixon, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp, 166 – 167.


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They voted to change the course of the sun…
 December 09, 1774 – Isaac Backus was instrumental in getting a petition from the Baptists of Massachusetts read before the Provincial Congress which was presided over by John Hancock. Backus as the agent for the Baptists had made the presentation because the Baptists had approached the General Court and local authorities again and again with petitions asking for redress of their grievances relating to taxes for the support of religious teachers. There is no record that any of these petitions were given any attention by the courts. The Baptists of that state had been persecuted and imprisoned for conscience’ sake under these laws and the persistent Backus would not let the issue die. At one point in a four-hour heated discussion on the subject in the presence of Patrick Henry, at the Continental Congress in 1774, John Adams closed the matter by saying “Gentlemen, if you mean to try to effect change in Massachusetts laws respecting religion, you may as well attempt to change the course of the sun in the heavens.” John Hancock, presiding over the Continental Congress, ordered the petition read and considered.  With this encouragement, when the General Court of Massachusetts met at Watertown in July 1775, the members heard and pondered this matter and based on the scripture: “ with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” They voted to change the course of the sun in the state of Massachusetts in regards to taxation without representation.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 513-15.

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