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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Seven preachers in jail
1771 – William Webber and Joseph Anthony of Virginia as Paul the Apostle were familiar with the inside of crude prisons. Few men in Virginia suffered more persecution than Webber. He was seized in Chesterfield County, Dec. 7, 1770, and imprisoned in the county jail until March 7, 1771. When the two men crossed the James River into Chesterfield County, there was not a Baptist in the entire county. The magistrates, finding that many were turning to righteousness (to madness, as they would state it)…issued warrants and had them apprehended and cast into prison. The order book of Chesterfield County, No. 4, page 489, Jan. 4, 1771, records that they were brought into court on a warrant for misbehavior for itinerant preaching…being of the sect commonly called Anabaptists. They were fined 150 pounds each and told not to return to the county for the space of one year. At one time there were seven Baptist preachers confined in the Chesterfield County jail. Webber and Anthony preached twice per week. Large congregations gathered to hear them as they preached through the grates of the prison. There were times of great revival and scores of conversions of souls turning to Christ under those windows. Baptist principles were largely advertised in Chesterfield County at the expense of the state.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 05-06.
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Scourged – Not Ordained by State Church
1771 – James Greenwood preached the gospel in the Middlesex County Jail to a number of friends who had come to encourage the prisoners. In a letter, written by John Waller from the jail he said, “Bro. Thomas Wafford was severely scourged, however because he was not ordained, he was released and did not have to serve time in prison. The early Baptist preachers in the Common Wealth of Virginia were despised by the political and religious leaders that were under the control of the Anglican Church/State system of government. These men, as the early Apostles as recorded in Acts Chapter four and five, had not been trained in the recognized seminaries of the day, and also refused to take a license to preach the gospel, but rather preached under the authority of Christ alone. This principle is made clear at Act 4:13 – Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. Because of this, until American Independence was won, they were fined, whipped, and jailed but they would not bend, bow or burn. [Robert C. Newman, Baptists and the American Tradition (Des Plaines, Ill.: Regular Baptist Press, 1976), p. 32. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 460-462.] Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon
They filled the jails, but their churches just kept growing.
December 10, 1769 – Dutton Lane founded the Nottoway Baptist Church in Virginia. This church ultimately founded many others. Lane was born Nov. 7 near Baltimore, MD, the same year that George Washington was born – 1732. It is not known when Dutton’s father moved the family to Virginia near the N.C. line. Soon after Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall established the Sandy Creek church in N.C. they entered Virginia where they preached the gospel and baptized believers among whom was Dutton Lane. A revival followed, and elder Marshall baptized forty-two persons at one time. It was nothing until Lane was preaching, and Samuel Harriss, a man of distinction in that area, was converted. People far and wide began requesting someone to come preach to them, even as far as Culpeper and Spotsylvania Counties. In August of 1760 the first Separate Baptist church in Virginia was organized at Dan River. Lane became its pastor, and by 1772 he had established five different preaching stations with five assistants. The success of the Baptists brought the wrath of Satan down upon them. The hand of the Lord was revealed as James Roberts was going for a warrant in 1769 against Richard Elkins (one of Lanes Assistants). They said that a bright light shone about them so much that their horses squatted on the ground succeeded by such thick darkness that they could not see. Roberts concluded that it was a warning to him to stop being “an opposer.” Dutton’s own father threatened to murder him until his wife persuaded him to listen to him preach which he did, got saved, and his own son baptized his father that was going to kill him. Nothing would nor could stop these preaching men in Virginia. They filled the jails, but their churches just kept growing.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 515-17.
Some were whipped by individuals, several fined.
December 07, 1770 – William Webber and Joseph Anthony were arrested in Chesterfield, County, Virginia and they were held in prison until on Jan. 04, 1771, they were brought before the magistrates on charges of “misbehavior by itinerant preaching in this County being of that sect of dissenters from the Church of England commonly called anabaptists, and on hearing they acknowledged that they had preached in the upper end of this county at a meeting of sundry people there.” The court refused their offer to take the oath as prescribed by the so called Toleration Act, and thus for conscience sake they remained in jail until March 7, 1771. Jail increased their opportunities to preach through the grates. Their preaching was so powerful that the jailer was inclined to leave the door of their cell ajar so they could escape. Their reply was the same as Paul the Apostle, “They have taken us openly, uncondemned, and have cast us into prison; and now, do they cast us out privily? Nay, verily, but let them come themselves and fetch us out.” Chesterfield, County was notorious for its persecution of Baptist preachers. In fact there is a monument to religious liberty on the courthouse square in Chesterfield, Virginia, in memory of those who courageously suffered in its behalf. Semple, in his history (1810), mentions, that the Baptist cause has most flourished where it has met the most opposition in its offset. In the history of Chesterfield jail, seven preachers were confined for preaching without a license. They were William Webber, Joseph Anthony, Augustine Easton, John Weatherford, John Tanner, Jeremiah Walker and David Tinsley. Some were whipped by individuals, several fined. They kept up their persecution even after other counties had laid it aside.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 510-11.
“A bold patient Sufferer for ye Lord Jesus”
November 29, 1685 – George Fownes died in the Gloucester, England jail. The faithful clerk of the Broadmead Church in Bristol inserted the event into the records of the church in the following words, “…having been kept there for Two years and about 9 months a Prisoner, unjustly and maliciously, for ye Testimony of Jesus and preaching ye Gospel, Fownes dyed. He was a man of great learning, of a sound Judgment, an able Preacher, having great knowledge in Divinity, Law, Physic, & c.; a bold patient Sufferer for ye Lord Jesus, and ye Gospel he preacht.” From the Broadmead records we discover that Pastors Thomas Ewins, Tomas Hardcastle, and George Fownes were all imprisoned unjustly for the cause of Christ. But many other Baptist ministers endured imprisonments, and some died in jail merely because of their convictions. Francis Bamfield suffered for eight years in Dorchester jail. Thomas Delaune suffered in Newgate prison. John Miller was a prisoner for ten years in Newgate. Henry Forty was incarcerated for twelve years at Exeter. Joseph Wright, a man of great piety and learning, pastored at Maidstone but was imprisoned in the common jail there for twenty years. Thomas Helwys fled to Amsterdam but in time became convinced that he and the others had been wrong to flee persecution. Believing it was his duty to return to England and witness of the truth, he went to London in 1611 with 12 of his followers and settled at Spitalfields. He appealed to the King to grant liberty of conscience and for his convictions “Newgate Prison” became his home. He died in Newgate, barely forty years of age. The Broadmead church was founded by John Canne. He was the first to prepare and publish the English Bible with marginal references.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/, pp. 497-98.
309 – Nov. 05 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST
Posted: 04 Nov 2012 05:41 PM PST
His fight for religious liberty brought him into conflict
John Corbley Memorial near Pittsburgh.
November 05, 1775 – John Corbley, at the age of 42, organized a Baptist church at Forks-of Cheat, now Stewartstown, West Virginia, with twelve members, and served as its first pastor. Corbley was a man of deep convictions and, being born in Ireland, was a prime example of the “Fighting Irish.” His biographer said that “…he was a militant crusader for any cause or controversy he saw worthy of his efforts.” His fight for religious liberty brought him into conflict with the state church in Virginia. In addition to Corbley’s preaching through the grates of the notorious jail at Culpeper County, Virginia, the Order Book of Orange County for the years 1763-69, Pg. 514, records the following; “This day (July 28, 1768) Allen Wiley, John Corbley, Elijah Craig and Thomas Chambers in Discharge of their Recognizane Entered into before Rowland Thomas Gent on being charged as Vagrant and Itinerant Persons and for assembling themselves unlawfully at Sundry Times and Places under the Denomination of Anabaptists and for Teaching and Preaching Schismatick Doctrines Whereupon the Court having Examined the Witnesses and heard the counsel on both Sides are of the Opinion that the sd. Allen Wiley, John Corbley, Elijah Craig, Thomas Craig and Thomas Chambers are guilty of a Breach of Good Behavior and Ordered that they enter into Bond.” Later Corbley moved to Pennsylvania with the Redstone Settlement, where he spent the rest of his life. It was here that members of his family, including his wife, were massacred by Indians. Corbley was one of those heroes among the Baptists on the early frontier of our great nation. They were a peculiar stock of people with extraordinary conviction, and strength of character that prepared them for that day.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 459-461.