Congregational singing began
1640 — In that we have no leap year in 2014 we are going to use the entry of Feb. 29 on this date because of its importance to our Baptist churches. This was the day that Benjamin Keach was born into the home of John Keach of Buckinghamsire, England. By the age of 15 Benjamin became convinced of believers baptism and submitted himself to the ordinance upon his profession of faith in Christ. By the age of 18, the society of believers that he fellowshipped with saw fit to set him apart for the gospel ministry. At age twenty-eight he became pastor of the Baptist church in Horsleydown, London. In the beginning they met in homes because of the persecution but finally built a meeting house which was enlarged several times up to nearly a thousand. He wrote many treatises and apologies on the issues of his day which found him in court on many occasions. He not only differed with the state church officials but with some of his Baptist brethren relating to doctrine and practice. Baptists have always differed on non- cardinal issues. One such controversy involved congregational singing. Because of persecution, it had been necessary to avoid singing in worship until around 1680. The whole issue turned on one point, whether there was precept or example of the converted and unconverted, to join in the singing as a part of divine worship. Also they believed that those whom God gifted could sing as the heart dictated the melody but not by rhyme or written note. First they only sang at the Lord’s Supper and then later after the sermon and prayer. Some of the dissenters would leave the building and stand in the yard. Later they withdrew and started their own non-singing church, but then started singing around 1793. Thanks to Benjamin Keach and others we have congregational singing in our churches today.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 83.
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The mode of baptism did count
1525 – Conrad Grebel and his family felt the sting of the edict passed by the city council of Zurich ordering all parents to bring all unbaptized infants to present them for baptism within eight days or face expulsion from the city. Early in 1525 a child had been born to the Grebel’s. Conrad did not baptize his baby because he had become convinced that christening finds no support in the New Testament. Conrad Grebel was from a wealthy and prominent Swiss family, whose father served as a magistrate in Gruningen, just east of Zurich. Conrad also enjoyed many educational advantages. He was saved, and by 1522 was publicly defending the gospel and expressed a desire to become a minister. Falling in with the teachings of Ulrich Zwingli, Grebel also gave himself to the scriptures. Grebel and other young Anabaptists owed much to Zwingli, but they owed more to the Bible. These two loyalties soon came to a head, and it was Grebel who initiated believers baptism on that historic night in January 1525. As such, young Grebel became a champion of the Anabaptist movement. Grebel had only one year and eight months to proclaim the gospel, but in spite of numerous imprisonments and poor health his accomplishments were phenomenal. He preached, visited from door- to-door, baptized those who were saved, and was again arrested and imprisoned in Grunigen Castle. Being brought to trial, Grebel, Blaurock, and Manz were sentenced to an indefinite term of internment in Nov. 1525. They were given a diet of bread and water. Again Grebel was able to escape, but his freedom was short-lived, for he died in the summer of 1526, probably a victim of the plague, but a hero of the faith that lives on even today!
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 22-23
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A Patient Sowing and Enduring Bringeth Forth Fruit
“…not many noble, are called:” But thankfully He does call some.
On April 7 1657 – Henry Dunster, President of Cambridge College (now Harvard), was so stirred in his mind that he turned his attention to the subject of infant baptism and soon rejected it altogether. It was upon the persecution of Obadiah Holmes and others who had taken a strong stand for believers’ baptism that the faithfulness of Holmes, the publicity his enemies gave to his convictions, his willingness to suffer for convictions, and the beastliness of a church-state (Congregational), that denied its citizens religious freedom, all magnified the truth he propagated.
Dunster’s success in promoting Harvard by furthering its interests, collecting large sums of money in its behalf, and even giving one hundred acres to it, was marvelous and testified to his commitment to the institution. But he had a higher commitment to the truth of God and began to preach against infant baptism in the church at Cambridge in 1653, to the great alarm of the entire community. Armitage quotes Prince in pronouncing Dunster “‘one of the greatest masters of the Oriental languages that hath been known in these ends of the earth’, but he laid aside all his honors and positions in obedience to his convictions.”
Dunster was forced to resign his presidency of Harvard College, April 7, 1657, after which he was arraigned before the Middlesex court for refusing to have his child baptized.
Dr. Dale R. Hart from: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 141-142.
Krishna Pal preached the gospel among his people with great success.
December 28, 1800 – Krishna Pal, a Hindu from India, along with Felix, the son of William Carey, the pioneer missionary to that land was immersed and received believer’s baptism in the Ganges River before a great crowd, including the Governor of India. Krishna’s wife and daughter had also made a profession of faith in Christ but had faltered when they saw the large crowds. Dr. Carey had served for six years before he had seen his first convert and now it was Dr. John Thomas, his companion, who had faithfully served for 16 years to finally see some fruit from his labors. Krishna Pal, a carpenter, fell and broke his arm, and Dr. Thomas was called on to set it. After his work was done, he fervently preached the gospel to Krishna and his neighbors and set forth the folly of idolatry and set forth the great truths of Christianity. Krishna was moved to tears and sought further instruction and before long he openly renounced idolatry and the caste, professing faith in Jesus Christ. He in turn reached his wife and daughter and the three of them presented themselves for believer’s immersion. This news stirred up the natives and soon there was a mob of 2,000, who poured out vicious words upon him, and then dragged him to the magistrate, who immediately released him and commended him for the piety of his course, and commanded the mob to dispense. He even placed a guard at his house and offered armed protection during the baptism. For more than twenty years, Krishna Pal preached the gospel among his people with great success. He also composed a beautiful poem: “O Thou my soul, forget no more. The Friend who all thy misery bore; Let every idol be forgot, But, O my soul, forget Him not. Jesus for Thee a body takes; thy guilt assumes, thy fetters breaks, Discharging all thy dreadful debt: And canst thou e’er such love forget.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 544-45.
“They “were sprung from the seed which he (Whitefield) first planted”
December 21, 1764 – Rev. James Reed, a clergyman from the Church of England, living in Virginia, reveals how George Whitefield’s preaching helped the Baptists and what his views were about believer’s baptism. Rev. Reed said that Whitefield had affirmed that they “were sprung from the seed which he first planted in New England and the difference of soil may have perhaps have caused such an alteration in the fruit that he may be ashamed of it. He particularly condemned the re-baptizing of adults and the doctrine of the irresistible influence of the Spirit, for both which the late Methodists in these parts had strongly contended, and likewise recommended infant baptism, and declared himself a minister of the Church of England. Whitefield was clearly a pedobaptist and a state-church preacher, even though he insisted on the new-birth. The great revivals that sprang up from the preaching of Whitefield produced the Separate Congregationalists from which God raised up some of our most effective and powerful leaders. Among those were Shubal Stearns and his brother-in-law, Daniel Marshall. They migrated through Virginia and N.C. and along with many other Separates became persuaded of Baptist principles including believers baptism. This was the origin of the name “Separate Baptists” and their zeal and success in evangelizing and their uncompromising stand on believers baptism was to the consternation of the Episcopalians and Methodists. When men receive the “new Light” of the Holy Spirit they are far more likely to receive believers baptism and to gather with the ducks rather than the chickens.” For “birds of a feather flock together.”