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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At every opportunity he preached the gospel
November 16, 1786 – Abraham Marshall returned to his beloved home state of Georgia from a round trip on horseback to Connecticut to care for matters of his deceased father’s estate. The trip had begun on May 10. The bachelor pastor made a similar trip of 2,200 miles in 1792 in search of a life partner. Abraham’s greatest delight was in his preaching. At every opportunity he preached the gospel and defended the faith. As he traveled northward he met a man named Winchester who knew some of his relatives of whom one was Rev. Eliakim Marshall, Separatist, Congregationalist minister, respected citizen, and long-time pedobaptist in New England. When Abraham arrived at Windsor, CT, he was the house guest of his cousin Eliakim, and it wasn’t long until the subject of Baptism came up. After long discussions from the Word, Eliakim was convinced of immersion. But his wife opposed it on the basis that he had been raised a Congregationalist. But after his conversion he had left the church and was fined in 1746 for non-attendance. He had been ordained as a pastor of a New Light Separatist church in Wetherfield, CT. He was also active politically and served the state assembly and also ran for governor in 1780, thus his wife thought it demeaning for him to admit doctrinal error. But he did so in a powerful sermon in the presence of his congregation. Abraham Marshall recorded in his diary, “…then we advanced…to a river…and baptized Eliakim Marshall in the presence of hundreds who had never seen the ordinance administered according to the pattern and example of the great Head…before.” The following day Abraham had the privilege of delivering the ordination sermon of Eliakim as a Baptist preacher, and until his death Eliakim served as a Baptist pastor.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/, pp. 476-78.
Massachusetts, passed a law against the Anabaptists
November 13, 1644 – The General Court in Massachusetts, passed a law against the Anabaptists that backfired against them with the general citizenry. In the body of the law, the Anabaptists were called among other things, “…incendiaries of commonwealths, and the infectors of persons in main matters of religion, and the troublers of churches…and they have held the baptizing of infants unlawful…some have denied the ordinance of magistracy, and the lawfulness of making war, every such person or persons shall be sentenced to banishment.” However, pressures mounted on the General Court so that, though they would not repeal the law, they publicly confessed that the Baptists were ‘peaceable’ citizens amongst them.” There is a difference in the Baptist position of religious liberty based on freedom of conscience and the religious toleration allowed by some “state churches.” Baptists believe that a free church in a free state is a New Testament principle…The right of every soul to direct access to God is an inalienable right, with which the state must not interfere.” State churches have arrived at the position of allowing other churches to exist, but favorable laws and/or fiscal levies are often to be granted the favored church. This is thought by some to be “toleration,” but Baptists believe that the end of governmental administration is equal justice under law. Baptists, therefore repudiate every form of compulsion in religion or restraint of religious freedom. In 1644, a poor man, Thomas Painter, was tied up and whipped because he refused to have his child baptized. This is what led Thomas Painter to become an Anabaptist.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/ Thompson/ , pp. 472-73.