The Kind of Christian I Am!
“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.” Psalm 2:2-4
Twenty-first century America is a land of self-exaltation. To many folks, laws, rules, guidelines reek with negative denotations. They cramp the individual style, and the most important thing to them is doing or being whatever one wants. So, one by one rules and guidelines are discarded and laws are changed to eliminate guilt. Wrong doing is made justifiable and acceptable to the majority by making it legal. The Judeo-Christian ethic and morality that made this country a great nation is being summarily discarded in favor of personal desires long recognized as immoral.
Enter the debate on morality. What is moral? Is it not the high standard of living, and judgments given to us in the Holy Word? But morality has become a negative to a godless generation. The same generation does not want to be classified as immoral either. So, is there a middle ground? That mindset employs a different term heard in public educational institutions and in other places as well. It is “amoral.” Codes of life; identification of what is good and evil; separation of sexes, etc., are all addressed in what is perceived to be the neutral ground of amorality. But does that vacuum exist? May civilization exist without clear guidelines of right and wrong?
By word definition, the prefix “a” is a negative as is the prefix “im.” Thus, the definition of “amoral” is “not moral.” The definition of “immoral” is “not moral.” They mean the same thing. “Amoral” is just another way of saying “immoral.” There is no moral vacuum! There is no middle ground!
Still, the world persists in the madness of depraved human nature. It is an indicator of the last days of the age. This is not happening in America alone, but is a worldwide ecumenical movement to exalt sinful humanity as indicated in the prophetic second Psalm. The few times it is mentioned in the Bible that God laughs, is in the same condemnatory context as Psalm 2:2-4. One day the “amorality” of the world will give way to screams for rocks and mountains to fall on them to hide them from the face of Him Who is coming. So, cut it clean! It is either moral or it is immoral! That is the kind of Christian I am!
The importance of a godly wife
Only eternity can reward the wives of the great preachers of the past such as the godly wife of Benjamin Keach, who at 28 years of age, was called to pastor the Baptist church at Horsleydown London in 1668. This holy lady, who had borne him five children in ten years, died in 1670, and Keach wrote a poem in her memory entitled “A Pillar Set Up.” In this poem he gave her a very great and noble character, commending her for her zeal for the truth, sincerity in religion, uncommon love to the saints, and her content in whatsoever condition of life God was pleased to bring her to. He particularly observes, how great an help, and comfort, she was to him in his suffering for the cause of Christ, visiting, and taking all possible care of him while in prison, instead of tempting him to use any means for delivery out of his troubles, encouraging him to go on, and counting it an honor done them both, in that they were called to suffer for the sake of Christ. He also said that some acknowledged that, that their conversion to God was thro’ the conversation they had with her.” Two years after her death, he married a widow of extraordinary piety with whom he lived thirty-two years. Susanna Partridge bore him five daughters, the youngest of whom married Thomas Crosby, a renowned Baptist historian. After the death of Keach, she lived with her daughter and son-in-law, and Crosby wrote of her, “She lived with me…the last twenty years of her life. I must say, that she walked before God in truth, and with a perfect heart, and did that which was good in His sight. She lived in peace, without spot and blameless.” Many godly wives saw their husbands pilloried, imprisoned, and treated roughly, and the encouragement of these women provided the strength that kept them strong. Keach died July 18, 1704. Joseph Stennett preached from, “I know whom I have believed.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 294-95.
The Gospel is “the power of God unto Salvation”
The following account is found in the records of the Kiokee Church (Georgia), about the blessed conversion of “Brother Billy”, ‘about one hundred years old’, formerly a slave but at that time, ‘a free man of color.’ This took place on July 17, 1841, and Billy united with the church. The evidence exists that slave members of some Baptist churches were allowed to vote. As with the white males, black male members were “assessed” for church expenses and required to attend business meetings. The female, black and white, did not vote in the business matters of the churches. The slave membership of many Baptist churches greatly outnumbered the whites, and thus the churches often appointed spiritually faithful slaves to serve as a discipline committee among their own. The churches chastened heir slave membership primarily for problems of morals and honesty, and they chastised their slaveholder members for these infractions as well as for cruelty and barbarity to their slaves. It is apparent that slaves were better off being owned by Christians than by unbelievers! Black slave preachers were licensed and ordained by the Baptist churches, and the impact of those slave preachers was unique! Much of the evangelism among the slaves resulted from the preaching on the plantations by these faithful men who were slaves twofold: first to the Lord Jesus Christ and then to an earthly master. Segregation in the services was always maintained. In some of the old church buildings in the areas where slavery was practiced, we can still observe “slave balconies.” In other church buildings a portion of the facility was designated for the slave members. However, Baptists in the South often assisted the former slaves by helping them establish their own churches.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 292-93.
Baptists chose Liberty over Tolerance
The members of the First Baptist Church of Middleborough, Massachusetts, no doubt were sore grieved when their pastor, the Rev. Isaac Backus posted the following notice on July 16, 1759 which read in part, “Whereas by a late Law of this Province it is enacted that a List of the Names of those who belong to each Baptist Society (Church) must be taken each year and given in to the Assessors before the 20th of July or else they will stand liable to be Rated to the ministers where they live:…” In other words Baptists could get an “exemption” from paying the Congregational ministers salary and the upkeep of their church buildings, if they could prove that they were faithful in their own services. Backus spent a great deal of time fighting to eradicate state support for the Standing Order churches. He said that it was not only “taxation without representation” but it robbed the Baptists of their property and livestock to pay the tax that Baptists would not pay out of conviction, and also stole money from them that they could use to build their own meeting houses and pay their preachers. Baptists rejoiced in Jan. 1786 when Virginia passed their act for Religious Freedom. It said, “…no man shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.” There is a vast difference between “Tolerance and Liberty.” Tax exemption is based on the recipient asking for the privilege from a higher authority and meeting certain demands. The other is recognizing that liberty comes from God and demanding from our public servants that they guarantee those inalienable rights as embodied in the First Amendment. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 291-92.
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.
“A Person can die and not be afraid”
John Taylor Jones was born at new Ipswich, New Hampshire. When he was about 15 years old, he received Christ as Savior and joined the Congregational Church in Ashby, Mass. During his biblical studies, he had a change of thinking concerning the mode and subjects of baptism and in 1828 he was baptized by Pastor Malcom and joined the Federal Street Baptist Church in Boston. On July 14, 1830 he married Eliza Grew, and within seven months, they were on their way to Burma as missionaries. After their arrival Jones threw himself into the work with great zeal and soon became proficient in the Burman and Taling languanges. He was especially drawn to the Talings, a tribal people, and he departed for Siam (Thailand), where there seemed to be a great opportunity to reach this group. The Lord had a great work of translation ready for him which he completed in Oct. of 1843. It has been extolled as one of the great Asiatic translations of the New Testament. During his last visit to New York, Jones is quoted as saying, “There is one thing that distinguishes Christianity from every false religion. It is the only religion that can take away the fear of death. I never knew a dying heathen in Siam, or anywhere else, that was not afraid, terribly afraid, of death.” He went on to say that there was nothing that struck the Siamese people with greater astonishment than when his dying wife said to her Siamese maid shortly before her death, “I am not afraid to die.” For weeks after her death the Siamese people came to him and asked, “Teacher, is it really true that a person had died and was not afraid to die? Can it be possible? And when he assured them that it was, they would say, “Wonderful, wonderful, that a person should die and not be afraid.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 288-89.
Why Baptists are “teetotalers”
William Rufus Powell was born into a godly home on Nov. 13, 1808, where daily devotions were conducted by his father. That home was the center of spiritual activity as visiting preachers would stay in the “prophet’s chamber.” Tragically his mother died when he was only eight and his father and older sisters did their best to carry on the family traditions. William studied under the Rev. Herndon Frazer and then at the age of 17 pursued the study of Law, moving to the home of Capt. Therit Towles. At the age of 21 William became a school master and married Towles daughter Mary who lived with an aunt in Culpepper, Virginia. In a short time he became a deputy sheriff to his father-in-law and settled down to a farmer’s life on a plantation. He began to read widely and would sleep no more than four hours per night to pursue his studies which habit lasted the rest of his life. A godly sister’s correspondence in spiritual matters gained no interest on his part but his wife was successful in getting him to attend Mine Run Baptist Church to hear Rev. Philip Pendleton. William’s heart was strangely moved and the Bible became vital to him. He found a little grove where he cried out to God in prayer for pardon. He and Mary were baptized into Mine Run Church, and soon he was licensed by the church to preach. After the pastor died, William was ordained and called as the pastor of the church. He became a zealous advocate of missions. He is best known for his position on strong drink. He contended that churches should not allow the use of beverage alcohol by its members, total abstinence. Turmoil over this issue developed in the association. The majority in Powell’s church did not agree with him, therefore he left and formed another one. He won in the end however, because in time his views on this issue became the position of the Baptists.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 286-88.
Catholics and Protestants both engaged in burning Baptists
Protestant reformers were sometimes as guilty of atrocities as the Romanists against the Baptists and Anabaptists. Catholics and Protestants taught that tradition, reason and Scripture made it the pious duty of saints to torture and burn men as heretics out of pure love for their holiness and salvation. Protestantism told them that it was a sacred duty to slaughter those as schismatics , sectaries, malignants, who corrupted the Church and would not live in peace with the Reformed. The sad instances of persecution practiced against the Baptists by the Protestants in King Edward VI’s reign are in the Latin version of Foxe’s Book of Martrs but were left out of his English edition in order to protect the reputation of some of the martyrs of Queen Mary’s day who had persecuted the Baptists during Edward’s reign. John Rogers, one of Foxe’s friends, called for the death of those who opposed the baptism of infants. It was reported that Rogers declared “That burning alive was no cruel death, but easy enough.” It is believed that Foxe responded that Rogers himself may be the first to experience this mild burning. And so it was, Rogers was the first to be burned when the Catholic Queen Mary came to the throne. During the last year of Edward’s reign Humphry Middleton was cast into prison by the Archbishop. After Bloody Mary arose to power, the bishops were cast into prison and Middleton was burned at Canterbury on July 12, 1555. The time of baptism as well as the mode was debated at this time because some of the Protestants immersed. So the issue was believer’s baptism v . infant baptism. During Mary’s reign the prisons were crowded because both of these positions were anathema to the Catholic Mary. None was recorded by Baptists.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 285-86.
Baptists planted the seeds for the First Amendment
The principles of “Religious Liberty” as embodied in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution began in the colony of Rhode Island. Roger Williams obtained the first charter in 1643 or 44’, and the first body of laws was drawn under it in 1647. Under this charter the following words were added: “And otherwise than this what is herein forbidden, all men may walk as their consciences persuade them, everyone in the name of his God. And let the lambs of the Most High walk in this colony without molestation in the name of Jehovah their God forever.” The second charter was gained by Dr. John Clarke on July 8, 1663. A few years earlier, in 1656, the Rhode Island founders’ conviction of religious freedom was severely tested by their neighbors in the Congregational Colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts and Connecticut. They pressed them hard to give up the principle of religious liberty and to join their confederacy to crush the Quakers and prevent any more of them from coming to New England. This Rhode Island refused to do and sent the following answer: “We shall strictly adhere to the foundation principle on which this colony was first settled, to wit, that every man who submits to the civil authority may peaceably worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience without molestation.” The answer made these neighbors hate them more and seek their ruin by violent actions and slanderous words that reached England. In fact Williams spent five years in England, “…to keep off the rage against us.” They also encouraged the Punham Indians to harass the R.I. people to the great loss of property, and the Indian leader Myantonomo was put to death for his attachment to Providence. Baptists laid the foundation for religious liberty in America.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 279-80.