Tag Archives: Dr. John Clarke

213 – July 31 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


 

Obadiah Holmes

Failing to baptize infants was worthy of death

Dr. John Clarke, Obadiah Holmes, and a Baptist laymen, John Crandall, had walked eighty miles to a blind friend’s home in Lynn, Massachusetts for worship services. Little did they know that they were being closely watched by the authorities. In the midst of their worship in the Witter home, a marshal and his deputies burst in and arrested them, took them to dinner, and then took them to a Puritan meeting that was obviously designed to show them the error of their ways. The three men entered, bowed to the assembly, sat sown, and refused to remove their hats as a demonstration against the treatment that they were receiving. They attempted to defend themselves but were silenced, and then were confined to the Boston jail, being charged with being, “certain erroneous persons, being strangers,” though their offense was understood to be holding a religious service without a license. They were also indicted for holding a private meeting, serving communion to an excommunicated person, rebaptizing converts, etc. They were tried on July 31, 1651. John Cotton, the Puritan preacher acted as the prosecutor and stated the case against the three heretics. He shouted that they denied the power of infant baptism, and thus they were soul murderers. With great fervor he said that they deserved capital punishment just as any other type of murder. The men declared that they conducted a private service not a public service, and claimed under the ancient English maxim that a man’s house, however humble, is his castle. Judge Endicott agreed with John Cotton that these three men should be put to death. Clarke wrote a defense and was fined and released after someone paid his fine, Crandall was released. Holmes was fined and refused to pay the fine and was whipped until he nearly died, but recovered to become a great pastor.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 313-14.

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111 — April 21 – This Day in Baptist History Past


The Separation was amiable

1867 – Brother Billy Hariss, colored, was ordained into the gospel ministry according to the minutes of The Baptist Church of Christ at Kiokee, Georgia.  This is but a small example of the relationship between the races during the early development of our nation, both before and after the Civil War.  Dr. John Clarke organized the Baptist church in Newport, R.I. in 1639, and “Jack”, America’s first black Baptist was baptized in 1652 and added to the membership of the church, being a “free man.”  However, many among the slave population in the South came to know Christ and outnumbered whites in the membership of Baptist churches 6-to-one in ratio.  The First Baptist Church of Richmond, VA elected Black deacons to watch over free and slave Negro members.  They also licensed certain colored men to “exercise their spiritual gifts in public.”  At least fifteen years prior to Carey ‘s sailing for India, George Lisle, the first Black ordained Black Baptist in America, went to Jamaica as a missionary.  Lott Carey, a member of First Baptist of Richmond purchased his freedom for $850 in 1813 and with Colin Teague, sailed in 1821 for Liberia and established the first Baptist church in Monrovia.  Prior to the Civil War, Abraham Marshall, pastor at Kiokee, ordained Andrew Bryan in Savannah.  It was also prior to the Civil War that John Jasper was saved and sent by his “master” to preach the gospel.  After the war the blacks desired their own places of worship and the white churches either gave them the old church and built new ones or helped the blacks build new ones.  The separation was amiable.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, p. 161.
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110 — April 20 – This Day in Baptist History Past


The unknown Apostle of Liberty
1676 – On this day one of the greatest of our Baptist leaders and American founders, Dr. John Clarke, died.  He was born in London in 1609 and became skilled as a physician when apprenticed to a doctor.  His fame lies in the founding of Rhode Island with Roger Williams and one of the first Baptist churches in America.  He also, along with Williams, laid the principles of religious and civil liberty which led to the First Amendment to our Constitution.  His journey toward the Baptists after leaving Anglicanism saw him going first to the dissenters and then he moved to Leyden, Holland, to flee persecution.  It was there that he came in contact with some Baptists but he was yet to travel to America, join the Puritans, become disgusted with their intolerance toward the Baptists and other dissenters and finally become a Baptist pastor himself.  But no doubt his greatest achievement was securing a permanent charter for Rhode Island.  He spent twelve years in England to do it, first trying through Cromwell and then finally through King Charles II after he was restored to the throne.  This Baptist charter on religious liberty was the first charter on total religious liberty in the history of the human race.  It read in part, “Our royal will is, that no person within said Colony, at any time…, shall be…molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for differences of opinion in matters of religion, that do not actually disturb the civil peace of said Colony…not using this liberty to licentiousness and profaneness, not to civil injury or outward disturbance of others…”  What a great debt we owe John Clarke.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, p. 160.
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83 – March – 24 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


Roger Williams
First experiment in liberty
1638 – Roger Williams, as the forerunner of religious liberty in America, procured a deed for Aquidnet Island, as the agent for Dr. John Clarke and his company from the Narraganset sachems.  On the same day Williams also was able to secure a deed for Providence for himself.  Dr. Clarke and a company of nineteen had become disenchanted with both the Puritans and Pilgrims in the winter of 1637 and went first to New Hampshire and then turned south toward Long Island and Delaware.  Stopping at Providence, they stayed with Williams who persuaded them to go to Aquidnet where Dr. Clarke founded what many believe to be the First Baptist church in America.  Prior to this, Williams among a few others of the Puritans had a sincere desire to take the gospel to the Indians.  He went out among the Massoits, made friends, learned their language, and taught them the gospel of Christ.  The Indians were most happy that a white man met on their level.  Williams even drafted a treaty of friendship between them which paved the way for future colonies.  Later, when the Boston authorities planned to seize Williams and put him on a ship to send him back to London because of the issue of infant baptism, he, only in his coat and what food he could carry, in a blinding snow storm, left his wife and baby, and walked to the Narragansett Indians.  Greeting him as a friend, they insisted that he remain with them in hiding.  While there he was able to mediate a conflict that developed between two chieftains.  War was averted, and as a reward Chief Massasoit gave him a tract of land.  Also during exile Williams decided to establish his own independent colony which would be open to all who desired to enjoy religious freedom.  This eventually became the State of Rhode Island.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 119.

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