Dunster Grave Site
He counted the cost
1657 – Henry Dunster, on this day was forced to resign as President of Cambridge College (now Harvard), for refusing to have his son christened (sprinkled). He was then arraigned before the Middlesex court and not allowed to speak on his own behalf but the court stated his position with these words, “The subjects of baptism were visible penitent believers and they only.”
Dunster had publically declared that christening “was not according to the institution of Christ” or the mind of Christ. He also said that the covenant of Abraham was not the ground for baptism. It was the bloody back of Obadiah Holmes and the persecution of others that had caused Dunster to take the strong stand that he did though he was one of the most influential men in New England and Massachusetts Colony at that time. But it was these seeds of trials that were sown and nourished before the first Baptist church could be planted in Massachusetts Bay proper.
What a debt we owe these stalwart soldiers of the cross. And yet in this age of instant everything we are prone to quit if God doesn’t do something immediately when we begin to serve Him in the endeavor that He has called us.
We forget the words of our Lord, For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. Rather, we expect the harvest as soon as we put in the seed and then when we don’t see a crop immediately we get upset and leave our field of service.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 141.
Posted: 26 Feb 2014 07:20 PM PST
He wouldn’t bend or bow 1659 – Henry Dunster died on this date February 27, 1659. He was born in England around 1612 and came to know Christ as his savior. He graduated from Cambridge in 1630 and then received his master’s degree in 1634. He was ordained as a minister in the Church of England but was grieved with its corruption and sailed for America where he was soon installed as the President of Harvard College in 1640. In those days some in the Anglican Church practiced immersion, as did Dunster. In 1641 Dunster married a widow of a minister and took her five children as his own. Two years later she died, he remarried and she had five more. During this time he came to the conclusion that visible baptism of believers alone was correct Biblically. When he refused to have an infant son sprinkled he was indicted and put on trial and convicted for disturbing the ordinance of infant baptism. Because of these firm convictions Dunster left Cambridge. Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 80.
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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.
A House For A Church
From nearly the beginning of the Massachusetts Colony until 1769, the Baptists had been persecuted in various ways in the city of Boston and, indeed, throughout the entire colony. An infant church was first organized in Charlestown near Cambridge. Thomas Gould became its pastor. He and his members paid dearly. They lost the right to vote, were fined and imprisoned, and were threatened with banishment. Gould was brought before both the secular courts and the church courts and charged with Anabaptism. This Baptist church came into existence under the influence of Henry Dunster, the first president of Harvard College, who had adopted baptistic principles. The church moved from Charlestown to Noddle’s Island and then dared to enter Boston sometime after Gould’s death in 1675. John Russell became the new pastor. Philip Squire and Ellis Callender built a small meetinghouse. This building was so plain that it did not attract the attention of the Boston authorities until it was completed and the church began to use it for worship on February 15, 1679. On March 8, 1680, the marshal was ordered to nail the doors, which he did, posting the following notice on the door: “All persons are to take notice that, by order of the Court, the doors of this house are shut up, and that they are inhibited to hold any meetings therein, or to open the doors thereof, without license from authority, till the Court take further order, as they will answer the contrary to their peril.” In May, they came to the property to find the doors open! They went in boldly and held their services in their own building. For nearly 70 years this was the only Baptist church in Boston.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins) pp. 93-94