Tag Archives: Congregational

First Session of Continental Congress was opened with prayer


Continental Congress painting 01American Minute with Bill Federer

SEPTEMBER 7, 1774, the First Session of the Continental Congress was opened with prayer in Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia.

Threatened by the most powerful monarch in the world, Britain’s King George III, America’s founding fathers heard Rev. Jacob Duche’ begin by reading Psalm 35, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer’s “Psalter” for that day:

“Plead my cause, Oh, Lord, with them that strive with me, fight against them that fight against me. Take hold of buckler and shield, and rise up for my help.

Draw also the spear and the battle-axe to meet those who pursue me; Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’ Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life; Let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me.”

Then Rev. Jacob Duche’ prayed:

“Be Thou present, O God of Wisdom, and direct the counsel of this Honorable Assembly; enable them to settle all things on the best and surest foundations; that the scene of blood may be speedily closed;

that Order, Harmony and Peace may be effectually restored, and that Truth and Justice, Religion and Piety, prevail and flourish among the people…

Preserve the health of their bodies, and the vigor of their minds, shower down on them, and the millions they here represent, such temporal Blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world, and crown them with everlasting Glory in the world to come.

All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Saviour, Amen.”

That same day, John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, describing the prayer:

“When the Congress met, Mr. Cushing made a motion that it should be opened with Prayer.

It was opposed by Mr. Jay of New York, and Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina because we were so divided in religious sentiments, some Episcopalians, some Quakers, some Anabaptists, some Presbyterians, and some Congregationalists, that we could not join in the same act of worship.

Samuel Adams

Mr. Samuel Adams arose and said that he was no bigot, and could hear a Prayer from any gentleman of Piety and virtue, who was at the same time a friend to his Country.

He was a stranger in Philadelphia, but had heard that Mr. Duche’ deserved that character and therefore he moved that Mr. Duche’, an Episcopal clergyman might be desired to read Prayers to Congress tomorrow morning.

The motion was seconded, and passed in the affirmative. Mr. Randolph, our president, vailed on Mr. Duche’, and received for answer, that if his health would permit, he certainly would…”

Adams continued:

“Accordingly, next morning Reverend Mr. Duche’ appeared with his clerk and in his pontificals, and read several prayers in the established form, and read the collect for the seventh day of September, which was the thirty-fifth Psalm.

You must remember, this was the next morning after we heard the horrible rumor of the cannonade of Boston.

I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that morning.

After this, Mr. Duche’, unexpectedly to every body, struck out into an extemporary prayer, which filled the bosom of every man present. I must confess, I never heard a better prayer, or one so well pronounced.

Episcopalian as he is, Dr. Cooper himself never prayed with such fervor, such ardor, such earnestness and pathos, and in language so elegant and sublime, for America, for the Congress, for the province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially the town of Boston. It has had an excellent effect upon everybody here. I must beg you to read that Psalm.”

The Library of Congress printed on an historical placard of Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia:

“Washington was kneeling there with Henry, Randolph, Rutledge, Lee, and Jay, and by their side there stood, bowed in reverence the Puritan Patriots of New England…

‘It was enough’ says Mr. Adams, ‘to melt a heart of stone. I saw the tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave, Pacific Quakers of Philadelphia.’”

The Journals of Congress then recorded their appreciation to Rev. Mr. Duche’:

Wednesday, SEPTEMBER 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m. Agreeable to the resolve of yesterday, the meeting was opened with prayers by the Rev. Mr. Duche’.

Voted, That the thanks of Congress be given to Mr. Duche’…for performing divine Service, and for the excellent prayer, which he composed and delivered on the occasion.”

Rev. Jacob Duche’ exhorted Philadelphia’s soldiers, July 7, 1775:

“Considering myself under the twofold character of a minister of Jesus Christ, and a fellow-citizen…involved in the same public calamity with yourselves…

addressing myself to you as freemen…’Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty, wherewith Christ hath made us free’ (Galatians, ch. 5).”


Bill FedererThe Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.

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248 – Sept. 05 – This Day in Baptist History Past

Posted: 04 Sep 2014 06:24 PM PDT

 

Jailed for encouraging a brother

John Spur and John Hazel, both elderly men, were hauled into court in Salem, Mass. on Sept. 05, 1651,  for the horrible “crime” of offering sympathy to Obadiah Holmes, at the time of his brutal beating by the authorities, for preaching without a license from the Congregational Church. Neither men were convinced Baptists as yet, but Spur had been excommunicated from the Salem Congregational Church for declaring his opposition to infant baptism. Spur was given his choice of a forty shilling fine, or a whipping. Someone paid his fine, which he declined, but the court took it and released him anyway. Hazel, though very Ill, defended himself by saying, “…what law have I broken in taking my friend by the hand when he was free and had satisfied the law?” The sentence was still given: Hazel was to pay a fine or be whipped. Five days went by and when he refused to pay, the jailer released him, but he refused to leave without a discharge. The jailer gave it to him and he left totally free of all charges. Three days later, on Sept. 13, 1651 John Hazel was with the Lord Jesus, set free forever more. [Edwin S. Gaustad, Baptist Piety (Grand Rapids, Mich.: WmB. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1978), p. 30.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 486-487.

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245 – Sept. 02 – This Day in Baptist History Past


 

 

Isaac Backus

She didn’t pay the tax because she was a Baptist

 The Ecclesiastical tax, which was approved by some colonies in early America which forced Baptists to pay assessments for the upkeep of churches of various denominations, usually Congregational or Anglican, was most obnoxious to early Baptists. For many years Baptists, both men and women, suffered because of these regulations. On September 2, 1774, Mrs. Martha Kimball sent a letter to the Rev. Isaac Backus relating her experience in this matter. She related the following: She said that the year was 1768 and the event took place on a cold winters’ night, about 9 or 10 o’clock. She was taken prisoner by the tax collector from her family, consisting of three small children. She was detained in a tavern on the way to jail to pay the sum of 4-8 LM (Legal Money) for the ministerial rate. She said that the reason she refused paying it before is because she was a Baptist and belonged to the Baptist society in Haverhill, and had carried in a certificate to the assessors. Thus they dealt with a poor widow woman in Bradford, Mass. She went on to say that after she paid what they demanded, upon threats of jail, that they released her from the tavern and she walked the two miles in the bitter weather back to her children. So in early colonial America, the Baptists were forced to support the “Standing Order” churches while financially caring for their own also. This was the climate that the First Amendment grew out of. It was the Baptists and other non-conformist churches that were responsible for the religious liberty amendment in the Bill of Rights, not the Protestants as we so often hear.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp.  362- 63.

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198 – July 16 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

Backus, IsaacBaptists 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: From This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 291-92.

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196 – July 14 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


196 – July 14 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST

Posted: 13 Jul 2014 07:57 PM PDT

John_Taylor_Jones

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 languages. 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: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 288-89.

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The “Haystack Prayer Meeting”


1783 – Luther Rice was born into a pedobaptist (Congregational) home on this memorable day.  He along with Adoniram and Ann Judson became Baptists when they were baptized in India, after studying the subject of baptism on the voyage, although on different ships.  Because of this they were compelled to sever relationship with their denomination which left them penniless and identify with the Baptists in America.  In our opinion, this was the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy found at Mat 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.   Prior to this there had been only scant missionary activity among the churches of North America and that was to the Indians and the settlers who had migrated westward.  But from this effort of Rice and the Judson’s a great flood of missionaries began to go forth to many parts of the world.  It all started with a group called the “Brethren” who had formed a missionary fellowship interested in world evangelism at Williams College (Congregational) in Massachusetts.  One day during a rain storm some of the “Brethren” took refuge under a haystack, and while there prayed for those in the world who lived in spiritual darkness.  It would forever be called the “Haystack Prayer Meeting.”  Even though Rice wasn’t at the haystack, he was a part of the “Brethren” and was the first with the Judsons to go forth.  Rice eventually returned to America to stir up the Baptists for world evangelism.  He became the rope holder while Judson was tied to the rope.  World missions needed them both.  In the North there were mission societies, in the South the Baptist method was conventions.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 121..

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46 – February 15 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

 

first Baptist_BostonmeetinghouseFirst Baptist Meeting House Boston

46 – February 15 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST

Unregistered churches illegal

1679 – BAPTISTS MOVE INTO THEIR BUILDING IN BOSTON QUIETLY BECAUSE IT WAS ILLEGAL 17TH CENTURY – RELIGIOUS MISSION SOCIETIES   INCORPORATED IN 1646 – LAW TO BANISH BAPTISTS REPRINTED IN 1672 – On February 15, 1679, the Baptists moved into their building in Boston that they began a year earlier. This activity was carried out very quietly and cautiously because they didn’t want to alert the authorities because this activity was deemed illegal by the state church which was Congregational. Great numbers were coming out of it and going over to the Baptists because of the compromise of the Half-way Covenant doctrine and other things. In the mid-17th century the Massachusetts Bay Colony was facing the problem of children born to Congregational parents, who had been baptized (christened) as infants but had not confirmed their faith since becoming adults.  The compromise was that the church accepted their baptism but not the right to the Lord’s Supper or voting privileges. By 1677 many ministers were advocating the extension of full church privileges to the Half-Way members. This filled the church with unconverted people, deadened preaching, and lost church members.  Baptist activity increased. John Eliot, a godly man from Roxbury, had begun evangelizing Indians around 1646 and incorporated a society to promote the work. He formed 12 praying societies among the Indians. These were scattered during the King Philip’s War with the Indians. In spite of this the Baptists fought valiantly against the Indians to protect their settlements. One company, mostly of Baptists was led by William Turner and distinguished itself in combat. But the increase in Baptists alarmed the ministers of the state church. They had their law to banish Baptists reprinted in 1672 and often fined and imprisoned Baptist violators. One of the Baptist ministers, William Hubbard, in a sermon said, “It is made, by learned and judicious writers that one of the undoubted rights of sovereignty is to determine what religion shall be publicly professed and exercised within their dominions.” He also said it was morally impossible to rivet the Christian religion into the body of a nation without infant baptism. By proportion, he proclaimed, it will necessarily follow that the neglect or disuse thereof will directly tend to root it out.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 63.

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314 – Nov. 10 – This Day in Baptist History Past


 

Why America became a Republic

 

1745 – Isaac Backus and others were excommunicated from the Congregational church at Norwich, Connecticut. The name of Isaac Backus is one of the brightest lights in Baptist history. He was born on Jan. 9, 1724 in Norwich. He grew up during the time of the Great Awakening under George Whitefield and other lesser-known men. In Nov. of 1741 a revival broke out in his home town, and Backus received full assurance of salvation. Many in the Congregational state churches did not look with favor on evangelism and these converts were called “New Lights.” However, wanting to receive communion, after 11 months, Backus finally united with the church. Starving spiritually, these “New Lights” in the congregation began meeting together for fellowship and Bible study. This division is what led to the impasse that caused the church to excommunicate them. The converts of the Great Awakening started Separate churches. Backus, called to preach and ordained, was quite at home in this movement and carried on an itinerant ministry for fourteen months until he took a church at Titicut, Mass. It was there that he became convinced of believer’s immersion, and on Aug. 22, 1751, he and six fellow church members were immersed on profession of their faith. At that point Backus formed a Baptist church and served for almost sixty years as evangelist, pastor, author and fighter for religious liberty in early America. It is estimated that he traveled over 67,000 miles and preached nearly 10,000 sermons. Backus was one of the main reasons that America adopted a constitutional Republic over Calvin’s “Geneva Theocracy” model. [B.L. Shelly, Dictionary of Baptists in America (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1994), p. 36. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 614-15.]   Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon

 

 

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197 – July 16 – This Day in Baptist History Past


 

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.

 

 

 

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143 — May 23 – This Day in Baptist History


 

To Lay or Not to Lay on Hands

 

 

John Comer was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 1, 1704, as the oldest boy of John and Mary Comer. When he was less than two years old, his father sailed to England to visit relatives and died, leaving him in the care of his widowed mother and grandfather Comer.

 

He entered Cambridge, where he became a Christian and a member of a Congregational church. A friend of his, Ephraim Crafts, joined the Baptist Church, and John Comer took every opportunity to correct this perceived wrong.  After long debate, John Comer was convinced to read Stennett’s work on baptism,  which presented ideas that John Comer had never considered from Scripture.  On May 19, 1726, he was ordained. He reintroduced singing  into the worship services, began regular church records, and collected material  on the history of the church. Although a salary was voted for him when he came,  there were efforts made to use the more Scriptural means of raising money  through the giving of offerings each week, as God had prospered the membership.  A vote was taken and approved on September 8, 1726 for weekly offerings to begin. The former church split returned and the Church prospered.

 

He came to believe that it was important to have a “laying on of hands” service for newly baptized believers. This was generally believed  by a majority of Baptists. In November, 1728, he preached a sermon on the  subject, but it offended two leading men in the congregation, and his ability  to minister became handicapped.  John Comer along with several other notable Baptist pastors successfully  worked with the Baptists in Connecticut to help them get the same freedoms of  worship granted to the Quakers. His signature was added to the memorial of the  occasion in September, 1729.

 

He caught tuberculosis due to overexertion and zeal in the work  of the ministry. He died “joyfully” on May 23, 1734, not yet 30 years old. He  had been one of the most eminent preachers of his day, with an unspotted  character and respectable talents and popularity.

 

 

 

One of the things that his work has proven is that the first Baptist church in America was not started by Roger Williams in Providence, Rhode Island, but instead by Thomas Olney, in what became Newport, Rhode  Island.

 

 

 

His death came at a time of severe persecution of Baptists by the Puritans, and the loss of this great pastor and his talents was keenly  felt by many in New England.

 

Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. Thompson/Cummins) pp. 210 -211

 

 

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