The first Baptist missions society in America
Dr. Thomas Baldwin on August 29, 1802, co-authored the call for the establishment of the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society. In 1803 he became editor of the “Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine” and served until his death. Dr. Baldwin received a letter from Adoniram Judson in February, 1813 in which he wrote, “Should there be formed a Baptist Society for the support of missions in these parts, I shall be ready to consider myself their missionary!” Baldwin immediately invited several leading pastors from Mass. to meet and confer on the matter. The result was the organization of a temporary society to assist the Judson’s until such time the Baptists nationally could rally forces for the undertaking. Ultimately, with the formation of “The General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the U.S. for Foreign Missions,” Dr. Baldwin served as secretary. Thomas Baldwin was born on Dec. 23, 1753, in Bozrah, CT. When he was 17, he received the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and soon declared in favor of Baptist doctrine. He severed ties with his denomination in which he had been raised and therefore many of his friends severed ties with him. Upon moving to Canaan, NH, Baldwin, though young was chosen to represent his village as a legislator in the General Court of the State. However in due time he surrendered for the ministry and on June 11, 1783, Baldwin was ordained and for seven years pastored the Baptist church in Canaan, CT. In 1790 he was installed as pastor of the 2nd Baptist Church of Boston, Mass. A great revival broke out under his leadership with 212 added in 1803.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 356-57.
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A Call for the Ongoing of the Gospel
The mission’s magazine that was used to stir Judson
Pastors Samuel Stillman of Boston’s First Baptist Church and Thomas Baldwin of Boston’s Second Baptist Church were the prime movers behind the establishing of the mission, and the two churches issued a call to the other Baptist churches in the state to unite for the purpose of the ongoing of the gospel. The appeal was dated April 29, 1802, and the meeting was held in the First Baptist Church. “The object of this Society shall be to furnish occasional preaching, and to promote the knowledge of evangelistic truth in the new settlements within these United States; or further if circumstance should render it proper.” “At once they sent out their first missionaries: John Tripp, Isaac Case and Joseph Cornell. . . . The three were to find their own horses, but they were to have a weekly salary of five dollars plus expenses. They were to keep clear of politics, to keep an exact journal, and primarily to evangelize and encourage those people so sadly deprived, by distance and isolation, of church ministries.
In 1803 the society established The Massachusetts Missionary Magazine. It was the September of 1809 issue of this magazine that Adoniram Judson was stirred so as to offer himself for missionary service to India.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 174
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Comfort in affliction
1827 – Little Maria Judson, the infant daughter of Adoniram and Ann Judson, missionaries to Burma, died on this date, just a few months following the tragic death of her dear mother. In a letter to Ann’s mother Rebecca Hasseltine, dated April 26, 1827, Adoniram tried to comfort her, the best he knew how with the following words: “My sweet little Maria lies by the side of her fond mother…an affection of the bowels,) proved incurable. She had the best medical advice; and the kind care of Mrs. Wade could not have been, in any respect, exceeded by that of her own mother. But all our efforts, and prayers, and tears, could not propitiate the cruel disease. The work of death went forward; and after the usual process, excruciating to a parent’s feelings, she ceased to breathe… at three o’clock P.M. aged two years and three months.
We then closed her faded eyes, and bound up her discolored lips, where the dark touch of death first appeared, and folded her little hands-the exact pattern of her mothers on her cold breast. The next morning, we made her last bed, In the small closure which surrounds her mother’s grave. Together they rest in hope, under the hope tree, (Hopia) which stands at the head of the graves; and together, I trust, their spirits are rejoicing, after a short separation of precisely six months. Thus I am left alone in this wide world. My father’s family and all my relatives, have been, for many years, separated from me, by seas that I shall never pass. They are the same to me as if buried. My own dear family I have actually buried: one in Rangoon, and two in Amherst.”…What remains is for me to follow where my Savior reigns.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, p. 166.
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Baptists Publish the Word
1824 – THE FIRST BAPTIST PUBLISHING HOUSE IN AMERICA WAS FORMED IN THE EARLY 19TH CENTURY – On February 25, 1824, from a meeting in Washington, D.C., the “Baptist General Tract Society” was begun. Luther Rice was elected Treasurer. He was a partner of Adoniram and Ann Judson and had returned from the mission field to raise money to keep them on the mission field. Early on Christian people had united in the effort to evangelize through Christian literature. “The Evangelical Tract Society” was formed in Boston in 1811; the Philadelphia Sunday School and Adult School Union were organized in 1817, and the Baptists joined with other denominations in organizing the American Sunday School Union. However Baptist leaders were not satisfied until they had their own publishing house to formulate Baptist ideas and doctrine which culminated in the organization mentioned above. On April 30, 1840, in N.Y. City, representatives from 15 states voted to change the complexion and name to “The American Baptist Publication and Sunday School Society.” From that time Baptists have been able to obtain distinctive Baptist literature to train their members. The “Baptist Manual” was published consisting of a Doctrinal, Historical and Biographical series.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 77.
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The Missions enterprise begins
1814 – BECAUSE OF ADONIRAM AND ANN JUDSON, BAPTISTS IN AMERICA FORM THEIR FIRST MISSIONS ORGANIZATION – On February 19, 1814 Baptists in America organized for the first time to support the cause of world-wide missions. It all started in 1808 when Adoniram Judson, though unsaved entered Andover Theological Seminary. He was saved in Sept. and immediately surrendered to the ministry. During his first year he read a sermon entitled “Star in the East,” and Feb. 1809 he determined to be a missionary. In June he met Ann Hasseltine who would become his wife. In Sept. he was commissioned as a missionary; and on Feb. 5, 1812, he and Ann were married. On Feb. 6 he was ordained a Congregational minister; and on the 19th, they sailed on the brig Caravan for Calcutta, India. Their honeymoon was spent on the long voyage that ended on June 17 with their arrival after a very pleasant journey. Great changes took place for the Judson’s aboard ship. Judson, knowing that he would be located in the vicinity of William Carey and other English Baptist missionaries thought that he should be able to defend his position on the subject of baptism and began a complete investigation in the N.T. in the original languages. He was amazed to find, after a long struggle, that pedobaptism could not be found anywhere in the N.T. and came to adopt the Baptist position. It was on Sept. 6, 1812 that Adoniram and Ann Judson were immersed in the Baptist chapel in Calcutta. Later Ann wrote a friend saying, “thus, my dear Nancy, we are confirmed Baptists, not because we wished to be, but because truth compelled us to be…We feel that we are alone in the world, with no real friend but each other, no one on whom we can depend but God.” Judson wrote to the Third Congregational Church in Plymouth: “I knew that I had been sprinkled in infancy, and that this had been deemed baptism. But throughout the whole N.T. I could find nothing that looked like sprinkling, in connection with the ordinance of Baptism…” Out of this came the great missions’ effort of Baptists mentioned above that continues to this day.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 69.
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A Mightily used man of God
1791 – Dr. Adiel Sherwood, pastor and educator, was born in Washington County, New York, and after graduating from College was trained in theology at Andover Seminary. Andover was founded by the Conservative Congregationalists after liberalism had penetrated Harvard. There he studied under Dr. Moses Stuart, who had been used of God to eradicate the liberalism that Adoniram Judson had encountered in his college years. After that he pastored a Baptist church and taught in an academy at Waynesboro, Georgia. It was there that he was ordained in March of 1820, when James Mercer served on the Counsel. From there he was called to pastor the Bethlehem Baptist Church near Lexington, Georgia until 1821. In May of 1824 he was married to Miss Heriot of Charleston, S.C. For the next ten years until 1832, he labored in church planting and missions, and with Rev. Jesse Mercer established the Georgia Baptist Convention in 1822. In 1835 he participated in the national Triennial Convention. In 1841 he became the first president of the newly formed Shurtleff College in Illinois. For five years he was pastor in Cape Girardeau, Missouri until he returned to Griffin, GA to pastor a Baptist church and head up Marshall College there. The Sherwood’s home was devastated by the Federal army in their march through Georgia in 1864 and struggled with starvation. It is calculated that 14,000 converts were baptized from the ministry of this God blessed man. [R.S. Duncan, History of the Baptists in Missouri (St. Louis: Scammell and Company, Publishers, 1882), p. 805. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 541-42] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
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A Deist leads Judson from infidelity
1808 – Adoniram Judson secured his horse from the home of his uncle where he had left it, and then started back to his home to regroup after having left to try his luck in the theater in N.Y. City. On the way back he stopped at a village Inn and took a room and all night long a sick man disturbed his sleep. The next morning when he inquired he was quite disturbed to find out that the man had died and that he was Jacob Eames, an upper classman at Rhode Island College where Judson had gone, and who had been a fellow Deist and unbeliever. In fact he had been the very one that had led Judson into infidelity and away from his Christian roots. For hours the words “Dead! Lost! Lost!” kept ringing in his ears. There was only one place for him and that was home, home to his preacher father and godly mother. And so it was that on Dec. 2, 1808, the young man found peace through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. This was the man who became the first Baptist missionary to Burma. [Courtney Anderson, To the Golden Shore, (Boston: Little, brown and Company, 1956), p. 30. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 517—19.] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
She Proved a “Worthy Successor”
Sep. 01, 1845 – Sarah Hall Boardman Judson died on a ship in the port of St. Helena. She had embarked with her second husband Adoniram Judson and three children on the previous April 26th, at the request of physicians, with the hope of saving her life, after she contracted a chronic illness. She was the second wife of the renowned missionary to Burma, having married him after her husband George Dana Boardman died after serving faithfully in Burma for 6 years. Rather than leaving the field she stayed on to serve with Rev. and Mrs. Francis Mason. Judson [served eight lonely years on the field since the death of his beloved Ann before Rev. Mason joined them in Holy Matrimony on April 10, 1834. She proved a “worthy successor” and deservedly won his respect and love after 11 blessed years. Though his heart was broken, the veteran missionary sailed on to America for his first furlough in 33 years. Sarah Boardman Judson will ever stand alone as one of the great stalwarts of the 19th century missionary enterprise as she translated the New Testament into the Peguan language, and the ‘Pilgram’s Progress’ into Burmese. [Arabella W. Stuart, Lives of the Three Mrs. Judsons (New York: Lee and Shephard, 1855), pp. 194-95. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 478-479.] Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon
A Baptist by Conviction
1817 – Rev. Adoniram Judson, Sr. and his wife Abigail were immersed by Dr. Thomas Baldwin into the membership of the Second Baptist Church of Boston, Mass. They were the parents of Adoniram Judson, Jr. who was the renowned missionary to Burma. The elder Judson had graduated from Yale in 1776 and held strong to Puritan theology, especially repudiating Unitarianism and the Arian heresy that was rampant at that time. He became the pastor of a conservative Congregational church in Malden, Mass. During his brief ministry there, liberalism spread to the church family, and he was “dismissed” from the church. In time the Lord opened another place of service, but again he had to endure the trial of his son, and namesake, embracing agnosticism at Brown University. After Adoniram, Jr’s conversion to Christ, and later embracing Baptist convictions on his trip to the mission field, Adoniram, Sr. also came to the same conclusion concerning believer’s baptism, and rejected his pedobaptism, and resigned from the Congregational ministry. He continued to live faithfully as a Baptist until the Lord called him home in his seventy-fourth year. [Courtney Anderson, To The Golden Shore (Boxton: Little, Brown and Company, 1956), pp. 3-11. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp.476-477] Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon
A Man for an Hour of Great Travail
During the years 1860 to 1865, our nation was convulsed in a horrible civil conflict that ultimately claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, both Northerners and Southerners. The pain and suffering defies imagination.
In the midst of this turmoil, Adoniram Judson Gordon was ordained into the gospel ministry June 29, 1863, and became pastor at Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. His name, Adoniram Judson, was prophetic, because his new birth kindled an evangelical spirit that permeated every area of his life and ministry. This evangelical spirit permeated Gordon’s writing also. In his introduction of his book In Christ, Gordon gives us some insight into his heart and ministry.
Life is still of God, but it has this new dependency “in Christ.” “Of Him are ye inChrist Jesus.” The obligation to labor remains unchanged, but a new motive and a new sanctity are given to it by its relationship to Christ. “Forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” The marriage relationship is stamped with this new signet, “Only in theLord.” Filial obedience is exalted into direct connection with the Son of God. “Children obey your parents in the Lord.” Daily life becomes “a good conversation in Christ.” Joy and sorrow, triumph and suffering, are all in Christ. Even truth, as though needing a fresh baptism is viewed henceforth “as it is in Jesus.” Death remains, but it is robbed of its sting and crowned with a beatitude, because in Christ. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 266-267