William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
The first half of the 19th century is dubbed as the second great awakening in America. In the 1840s the Millerite movement arose, so called after a prominent leader, William Miller. He had it figured out that Jesus would return on October 22, 1844. No small crowd of folks divested themselves of worldly goods and waited with great expectation. Of course, it did not happen. The event became known as the Great Disappointment. But, not to give up, the date was supposedly found with error and a new date set. That did not happen either. Did the followers dissipate? Some did, but enough stayed the error to evolve into the Seventh Day Adventist Denomination.
A few decades ago, a small sect of folks believed a leader that set the date for Christ’s return to earth. This was here in western Arkansas. They, too, divested themselves of material things. Many of them sat on a housetop with great expectation of seeing the monumental event. They, too, suffered a great disappointment due to ignorance of the Word of God.
The charade of religious charlatans goes on. Dates are set, discolored moons due to atmospheric conditions are observed, etc. So, fool me once, and fool me twice, and fool me once again!
What is sorely needed is for God’s people to immerse themselves in the pages of Holy Writ to be personally informed thereby having the ability to share knowledge of spiritual things. Ironically, church houses are often filled with folks who have really good intentions of doing just that. But some philosopher once noted that good intentions are like good eggs: if they are not hatched in a timely manner, they will soon rot.
So what are you waiting on? What is your purpose for taking up space on the planet? Some followers of Jesus wanted to wait until their father died and was buried, but Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead. Follow me!” Let everyone forget about noble dreams of tomorrow. God gives us all today! Yesterday is gone forever, and tomorrow does not exist. What you have is today. You may have been fooled once, or twice. Must you be fooled again?
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
The “Great Awakening” was an amazing movement of God’s Holy Spirit of which it has been written, “There are few instances in history of transformations of religious life so profound and so widespread during so short a period.” Though the movement was experienced primarily in New England, in the course of time, through the ministry of the Separate Baptists, the so-called “Bible Belt” in the southern states of America was the primary benefactor. However, there is no doubt that the “Great Awakening” left its impact in Baptist Churches, and all other religious groups, throughout America. Revivals had significant role in spiritual and physical growth as revealed in the history of the First Baptist Church of Cape May. It had never been a large church, as Morgan Edwards reported that there were about 90 families in the congregation on April 19, 1790, “whereof 63 persons are baptized and in the communion which is here administered every other month.” There were periods of growth in that work that came during “revival meetings.” The first such services were called “protracted meetings,” and they were usually held during the winter months when farmhands and fishermen experienced an idle season. One of the secrets of success in these meetings was the fact that they usually began with an appointed day for fasting and prayer. At times cottage prayer meetings were held prior to the meetings as well. In 1839, sixty-eight were baptized and united with the church. In 1849 another 29 converts were saved, baptized, and added to the church. With the infiltration of German rationalism, revivalism as such began to wane, and today it is tragic to report that many churches are pleased to merely maintain their membership.
**(And if one of the maintained would leave due to the preaching of God’s word straight and true, how The membership rants and raves at the pastor, yet there is little or no concern about reaching the lost and bringing them into the flock. ** True revival will cause an “Awakening” of the believers gratitude for his salvation, and an urgency for the salvation of the lost.)
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins) p.p. 227 – 228
The issue was a regenerated church membership
One of the main results of the Great Awakening was the fact that it produced approximately 100 separate Congregational churches that left the Congregational Denomination, known as “New Lights” over a period of twenty years. The issue was a regenerated church membership, in that the Congregationalists had fallen into the apostasy of infant baptism. Estimates were that as many as fifty thousand were saved, either directly under Whitefield’s preaching or revivals spawned by others that were influenced by him. Out of this group of churches fourteen went further, were publicly immersed and became Separate Baptist Pastors. Two of these were Isaac Backus at Bridgewater, MA on April 13, 1748, who became the great Baptist historian and Shubal Stearns at, Tolland, MA, on March 20, 1751, who became the pastor of the famed Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Sandy Creek, N.C., that launched the Baptist churches of the south. There were two primary reasons why these Separates became Baptists. First, Separates had become Biblicists. The Bible had become their only rule of faith and practice. Therefore infant baptism could not be defended scripturally. The second was for economic reasons, Baptists could claim the Toleration Act, and be excused from supporting the State Congregational Church. However Quakers were excused too but few became Quakers. It was the Baptists that became the stimulus for the ongoing of the Great Awakening as it moved southward.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 110 – 112.