“A goodly heritage”
Andrew Gifford entered into heaven on June 19, 1784 and was buried in front of 200 ministers and a multitude of others in Bunhill Fields in the early morning of July 2, 1784. Dr. John Ryland, President of Bristol Baptist College, stood on a tombstone and delivered the funeral oration. Gifford had just completed over 60 years in the Baptist ministry in Bristol during a time of religious tolerance under the “Declaration of Indulgence” granted by King Charles II on Sept. 5, 1672. Prior to that, Andrews grandfather, his namesake, was imprisoned at least four times for preaching without state authority. His father, Rev. Emmanuel Gifford, served as a sentry as his father preached the gospel in the Bristol area. Once he was discovered and violently pursued by their persecutors. He took refuge under a staircase as his tormentors ran on by, swearing to do him physical harm if they caught him, but God gave deliverance to the young man and the Baptists in their worship. With such a heritage, young Andrew was raised in Bristol and was baptized when he was fifteen years old. He was trained at the local academy and was preaching the gospel by the time he was twenty-four. Dr. Ryland, said the following words at his grave side that morning, “Farewell, thou dear old man! We leave thee in the possession of Death until the Resurrection Day, but we will bear witness against thee, O King of terrors, at the mouth of this dungeon-thou shalt not always have possession of this dead body it shall be demanded of thee by the great Conqueror, and at that moment thou shalt resign thy prisoner. O ye ministers of Christ, ye people of God, ye surrounding spectators, prepare to meet this old servant of Christ at that day, that hour when this whole place shall be nothing but life, and death shall be swallowed up in victory.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 270-272.
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America’s victory over England secured England’s liberty too
1748 – Dr. John Rippon of England,in a letter addressed to Dr. James Manning, president of Brown University, said: “I believe all of our Baptist ministers in town, except two, and most of our brethren in the country were on the side of the Americans in the late dispute….We wept when the thirsty plains drank the blood of our departed heroes, and the shout of a king was among us when your well bought battles were crowned with victory; and to this hour we believe that the independence of America will, for a while, secure the liberty of this country, but if that continent had been reduced, Britain would not have long been free.” Dr. Rippon was one of the most influential Baptist ministers in England during the 19th century. At the age of 17, Rippon attended Bristol Baptist College in Bristol, England. After the death of John Gill, he assumed Gill’s pastorate, the Baptist meeting-house in Carter Lane, Tooley Street, which moved in 1833 to the New Park Street Chapel in London, from 1773 at the age of 20 until his death, a period of 63 years. Rippon’s church was later pastored byCharles Haddon Spurgeon before moving to the Metropolitan Tabernacle at Elephant and Castle inSouthwark.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: John T. Christian, A History of The Baptists (1922; reprinted., Nashville: Broadman Press, 1926), 2:228
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He endured to the end
1737 – BAPTIST PASTOR TESTIFIES OF THE PEACE OF CHRIST AT THE TIME OF DEATH IN LATE 18TH CENTURY ENGLAND – Pastor Andrew Gifford and his congregation dedicated a new facility in Eagle Street, Red Lion Square London on February 20, 1737. He had served as an assistant pastor in both Nottingham and Bristol before becoming pastor of the Little Wild Street Church in London on Feb. 5, 1729. Because of difficulty a majority of the members left in 1736 which led to the new church edifice mentioned above. Andrew was born into a godly home in Bristol, England, August 17, 1700. His father, Emmanuel Gifford, had suffered much difficulty because of his dissenting principles, and his grandfather had been imprisoned four times because of his biblical faith. Andrew received Christ and was immersed at 15. Pastor Gifford served the flock on Red Lion Square for nearly 50 years and the building had to be enlarged twice to accommodate the crowds. Gifford was recognized for his knowledge of ancient manuscripts and coins. His own collection of rare coins was the most valuable in Great Britain and King George II purchased it for his own. In 1754 he received the Doctor of Divinity Degree from Marischal College, Aberdeen, and in 1757 he was appointed assistant librarian of the British Museum. He was a warm friend of George Whitefield and preached for him many times. Three days before he died, he said, “I am in great pain, but, bless God, this is not hell! O, blessed be God for Jesus Christ!” When the end was near, he whispered, “O, what should I do now, if it were not for Jesus Christ!” What should I do now, if it were not for an interest in Jesus?” He died on a Saturday morning, June 19, 1784, and was buried in Bunhill, July 2, at 6 am. John Ryland brought the message. There were 200 ministers and a vast crowd present. He bequeathed his library and manuscripts to the Bristol Baptist College.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 70.
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Pastor Andrew Gifford and the majority of members that had left Little Wild Street Church in London where Gifford had become pastor in 1729 dedicated their new facility in Eagle Street, Red Lion Square. For almost half a century Pastor Gifford served that flock of God seeing the building enlarged twice in order to accommodate the ever increasing congregation. Gifford was born into a godly home in Bristol on August 17, 1700. His father, Emmanuel, had endured much suffering because of his dissenting principles, and his grandfather had been imprisoned four times because of his scriptural beliefs. Early in life Andrew trusted Christ as his savior and was baptized at fifteen. Following his training he served as an assistant pastor at both Nottingham and Bristol before becoming pastor at Little Wild Street. Gifford was early recognized for his knowledge of ancient manuscripts and coins. His own collection of rare coins was the most valuable in Great Britain, and in time, King George II purchased it for his own display. In 1754 he received the Doctor of Divinity degree from the Marischal College, Aberdeen, and in 1757 he was appointed assistant historian of the British Museum. He was also a warm friend of George Whitefield and preached for Whitefield on several occasions. Three days before his death he said, “I am in great pain, but, bless God, this is not hell! O, blessed be God for Jesus Christ!” O, what should I do now, if it were not for Jesus Christ?…” His death took place on Saturday morning June 19, 1784, and he was buried in Bunhill on Friday, July 2, at 6 A.M. because of his faith in the resurrection. The message was delivered by John Ryland in the presence of 200 ministers and a vast crowd who had come to pay tribute.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 70-71.
“A bold patient Sufferer for ye Lord Jesus”
November 29, 1685 – George Fownes died in the Gloucester, England jail. The faithful clerk of the Broadmead Church in Bristol inserted the event into the records of the church in the following words, “…having been kept there for Two years and about 9 months a Prisoner, unjustly and maliciously, for ye Testimony of Jesus and preaching ye Gospel, Fownes dyed. He was a man of great learning, of a sound Judgment, an able Preacher, having great knowledge in Divinity, Law, Physic, & c.; a bold patient Sufferer for ye Lord Jesus, and ye Gospel he preacht.” From the Broadmead records we discover that Pastors Thomas Ewins, Tomas Hardcastle, and George Fownes were all imprisoned unjustly for the cause of Christ. But many other Baptist ministers endured imprisonments, and some died in jail merely because of their convictions. Francis Bamfield suffered for eight years in Dorchester jail. Thomas Delaune suffered in Newgate prison. John Miller was a prisoner for ten years in Newgate. Henry Forty was incarcerated for twelve years at Exeter. Joseph Wright, a man of great piety and learning, pastored at Maidstone but was imprisoned in the common jail there for twenty years. Thomas Helwys fled to Amsterdam but in time became convinced that he and the others had been wrong to flee persecution. Believing it was his duty to return to England and witness of the truth, he went to London in 1611 with 12 of his followers and settled at Spitalfields. He appealed to the King to grant liberty of conscience and for his convictions “Newgate Prison” became his home. He died in Newgate, barely forty years of age. The Broadmead church was founded by John Canne. He was the first to prepare and publish the English Bible with marginal references.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/, pp. 497-98.