Providence Assures Baptist Succession in Sweden
The Baptists of Sweden numbered nearly 500, though subject to bitter persecution when Adreas Wiberg returned from America in 1855. He had been appointed the Director of the American Baptist Publication Society for Sweden. On Jan. 1, 1856, Wiberg began a Christian publication called The Evangelist. As the work grew a 1200 seat Chapel was built in Stockholm, but the persecution continued from the State Church (Lutheran). A Mr. Hejdenberg, was imprisoned in six different places. Another of the preachers was fined for preaching the gospel without a license from the State. Wiberg was born in 1816 but was “born again” as a student at the University of Upsala while studying for the Lutheran ministry. He had almost drowned at 14 years of age, and the thought of death and eternity became real in his life. At nineteen he had enrolled in the University with a desire to show God his gratitude for being delivered from a premature death. In 1843 he was ordained a minister in the State Church but became dissatisfied with admitting the unconverted to the Lord’s Supper, and he left his work as a minister. At that point, joining other believers in Northern Sweden he was persecuted for his views. In the spring of 1851, he visited Hamburg, Germany, and met with Baptist leader, J.G. Oncken and at first resisted Baptist doctrine. He was given a copy of Pengilly on Baptism, and on full examination, adopted Baptist views. There was no one in Sweden to administer the ordinance of Baptism, but in the providence of God, in 1852 his ship was detained in Copenhagen and he met Rev. F.O. Nilsson who had previously introduced Baptist principles into Sweden but had been imprisoned and finally banished by the High Court. On July 23, 1852 at 11 pm, near the Island of Amager, near Copenhagen, Wiberg was immersed. Growth continued.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 302.
Tag Archives: persecution
The Baptists of England, besides the physical persecution, had undergone vicious verbal
attacks misrepresenting their profession of faith. Therefore they found it necessary to set forth
a confession of faith to publicly declare their belief’s before all.
The first was put forth in the name of seven congregations in 1643. By the year 1689 the seven churches represented had expanded to “upwards of one hundred baptized congregations in England and Wales (denying Arminianism) being met together in London, from the third of the seventh month to the eleventh of the same, 1689, to consider some things that might be for the glory of God, and the good of these congregations.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 284-85.
Beheaded for Christ
On June 13th 1560, Hans Mandemaker, Pastor: together with, Deacon: and Eustachius Kuter. were condemned to death. At the passing of the sentence, a great number of people were present as they addressed the judges of the court and the jury, proving to them that the sentence, in the presence of God, passed upon innocent men, would rise up in judgment against them to their condemnation for having condemned innocent blood. When they replied that they were obliged to judge according to the emperor’s command and proclamation, Hans Mandemaker said, “O ye blind judges! You are to judge according to your own heart and conscience, as you will have to answer for it in the presence of God. If then you judge and pass sentence, according to the emperor’s proclamation, how will you answer before God?”
They all spake with boldness and exhorted the people to repent, to forsake their sins, and to tread the path of truth; it was the truth for which this day they would suffer. Their crime: they did not believe that the holy body of Jesus Christ was in the sacrament but they observed the Lord’s Supper in the same manner that Christ kept it with His disciples, and that they did not approve of infant baptism.
Kuter was first beheaded, after which Juriaen Raek stepped cheerfully forward to the executioner and said, “Here I leave wife and child, house and goods, body and life, for the sake and truth of God.”
Dr. Dale R. Hart: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) p. 243.
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Prayer for Persecutors and Freedom
The Separate Baptists in Virginia had divided into two associations for the convenience of the messengers, and on May 14, 1774, the Southern District met in the Banister Baptist Church of Halifax County. There they transacted one of the most important aspects of an associational ministry, a phase that is all but dead among us in these days. For three or four years there had been severe persecutions against the Baptists in many parts of Virginia. Letters were received at their association from preachers confined in prison, particularly from David Tinsley, then in the Chesterfield jail. The hearts of their brethren were affected at their sufferings, in consequence of which they: “Agreed to set apart the second and third Saturdays in June as public fast days, in behalf of our poor blind persecutors, and for the releasement of our brethren.”
Those two days of prayer were Saturday, June 11, and Saturday, June 18, 1774, and the saints prayed for the enlightenment of the spiritually blind persecutors and the freedom of their ministers. We ought not to be surprised to observe that during that decade, the Separate Baptists “achieved their greatest growth . . . with 221 churches and unconstituted local bodies with 9,842 members.” Some of the persecutors were converted and became Baptist preachers, and freedom of religion was gained for the whole state of Virginia.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 240.
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Targets of Persecution
“On the 10th of June, 1535, a furious edict was published at Brussels. Death by fire was the punishment on all Baptists who should be detected and should refuse to abjure. If they recanted they were still to die, but not by fire; the men were to be put to death by the sword, ‘the women in a sunken pit.’ Those who resisted the operation of the edict by failing to deliver up Baptists [Anabaptists] to the authorities, were to suffer the same punishment as accomplices.”What a troublesome time in which to live! Religious freedom was unknown to Anabaptists, and they were forced to worship covertly, everywhere because informers were promised one-third of the confiscated estates of the dreaded Anabaptists!
Perhaps the actual wording of a portion of the edict might prove enlightening as to the pressures that our forefathers experienced.
“In order to provide against and remedy the errors and seductions which many sectaries and authors of mischief, with their followers, have dared to sow and spread in our possessions, in opposition to our holy Christian faith, the sacraments and commands of the holy church our mother; we have at various times decreed…many mandates containing statutes, edicts, ordinances, together with punishments that transgressors should suffer; in order that by such means the common and simple people might guard themselves against the aforesaid errors and abuses, and that their chief promoters might be punished and corrected as an example to all.
And it having come to our knowledge that…many and various sectaries, even some who are denominated Anabaptist or rebaptizers, have promoted…their said abuses and errors, in order to mislead the same…to the great scandal and contempt of the sacrament of holy baptism, and of our edicts, statutes, and ordinances:
Therefore, being desirous to provide against and remedy the same, we summon and command, that, from this time…you make proclamation in all the parts of limits of your jurisdiction, that all who are, or shall be found to be, infected by the cursed sect of Anabaptists, or rebaptizers, of what state or condition they may be, abettors, followers, and accomplices, shall suffer the forfeiture of life and estate, and shall without delay, be brought to the severest punishment.”
There are several other paragraphs of the edict, but this example is typical of the many edicts issued by the Roman Catholic and even Protestant leaders who harmonized only at the point of persecuting the re-baptizers. Catholics and some reformers believed that “re-baptism” was a repudiation of the baptism by the state church, which they considered salvation. Anabaptists did not accept “sacramental grace” and “infant sprinkling.” They denied that they were re-baptizers at all! Thank God for grace in Christ and the privilege of obeying His ordinance as a testimony! Praise the Lord for our glorious freedom of religion and liberty of conscience to serve Him without man’s dictates!
Dr. Dale R. Hart: From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/ Cummins) p. 239.
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“from my Palace in Culpeper.”
James Ireland was one of the great Baptist Church organizers in Virginia. “On one occasion in Culpeper County, while he was praying after a preaching service, he was seized by the collar by two men and given the ultimatum of promising not to preach there any longer or going to jail. He chose the latter alternative, and after a few days he was incarcerated in Culpeper. Through the jail bars he preached in spite of all the efforts to disturb him and his listeners. His detractors ran riding horses at a gallop through his hearers, urinated in his face as he preached, attempted to blow him up with gunpowder, and endeavored to suffocate him by burning brimstone and Indian pepper under the floor of his cell. A doctor and the jailer conspired to poison him. Ireland also was dunked in water and threatened with public whippings. When drunken rowdies were placed in his cell to harass him, he led several to personal faith in Jesus Christ. During this time, he wrote letters to individuals and churches which he headed “from my Palace in Culpeper.” This resulted in the salvation of many souls who heard his letters read as well as those who heard him preach. He said, “My prison then was a place in which I enjoyed much of the divine presence; a day seldom passed without some signal token and manifestation of the divine goodness toward me.”
Even while he preached out of prison, he continued to be threatened with beatings and dunkings. On one occasion two women conspired to poison his family, which nearly resulted in Ireland’s own death and did cause the death of one of his eight children. He bore the burden of ill health as a result of this maltreatment until his death May 5, 1806.”
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 183-184
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A godly woman examined, and put to the Flames
Joan Boucher, known also as Joan of Kent in England, was a lady of note, possessing much wealth. She was also well known at the palace in the days of King Henry VIII and King Edward VI. Joan belonged to the Anabaptist Assembly in Kent and with her friend Anne Askew was devoted to the study and circulation of Tyndale’s translation which had been printed at Cologne in 1534.
Joan was arrested in May of 1549 and was exposed to cruel interrogations. She was examined and cross-examined, entreated and threatened, but she would not move from her faith. The whole futile operation was a travesty of properly exercised authority. If she were an empty-headed woman, as they pretended, they brought no honour to themselves in spending eighteen months of their time, before and during her imprisonment, trying to prove her a heretic. Lord Richie kept her at his house for two weeks as Bishops Cranmer and Ridley of the Church of England attempted to dissuade her from her Baptist convictions. Her judges called her demeaning titles but not “lady,” which her parentage, position, and character demanded.
Joan Boucher suffered amongst the flames May 2, 1550, to the eternal disgrace of all concerned. Common decency might have spared her the mockery of having Bishop Scorey preach to her while at the stake and vilify her there under pretense of pious exhortation. Yet possibly her last act did him a service which he needed very much and which had never been done for him previously. Her sermon to him is immortal, while his to her has long since been forgotten. Listening to him just before her soul ascended to heaven in the flame, she said in reply, “You lie like a rogue. Go read the Scriptures.”
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 178-179
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Still exists today.
Upstairs above building
Baptists under fire
1670 – This was the day that Thomas Ewins, pastor of the Broadmead Church, the “Baptized Congregation”, according to Edward Terrill, clerk of the church, “having layen a greate while weake, Departed this life…” Terrill went on to say that he preached clearly “of Free grace by Faith in Christ Jesus. “ He was full of good works, showing patience and meekness toward all men, carefully searching into the state of their souls. He was buried in James’s Yard accompanied by many hundreds to his grave. Even his chief persecutor, Sr. Jo Knight, said, “he did believe he was gone to heaven.” The Broadmead church was founded in Bristol, England in 1640, and Thomas Ewins, formerly an Episcopalian became pastor in 1651. In 1661 the pastor was seized on July 27, while he was preaching and jailed for refusing a license by the Anglican State authorities. After two months in prison he was released only to be arrested again on Oct. 4, 1663 with several others, and this time languished in prison for a year. While there he would preach to the people from an open window from his fourth-floor cell. The church continued to be faithful and met some times out doors, and from house to house, or wherever they could escape their tormentors. The ladies would sit on the stairs at one meeting place and sing when the authorities came to warn the men to stop preaching. Sometimes they would hide in a cellar. Their firmness was shown by a resolution that those who absented themselves because of fear should be dealt with as disorderly members. We should be proud of our Baptist forbears who were so strong.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, p. 169.
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“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” Romans 8:37.
Early Christians suffered persecution to the highest degree, many of them paid with their lives. No doubt, Paul was writing to those who had witnessed some of this suffering and death to encourage them to remain brave and faithful to Jesus Christ. This encouragement rings through the ages.
Paul used a good word to describe who we are in Jesus Christ—conquerors. Even though Christ has already won the battle, we have a purpose and position. We are both defensive and offensive soldiers of the cross. We are conquistadors through Christ, yet, we are more than mere militia. Our job is to proclaim the message of good news to the world and defend the faith against false teaching until death (Phil. 1:7; Jude 3).
Like all faithful soldiers, our full payment will come at the end of our tour of duty. It will be a reward like no other on earth. Waiting for each and every soldier of the cross are a crown and white robe, a mansion and golden streets, banquets with singing, rejoicing and worshiping at the feet of the King of kings and Lord of lords! Sound the battle cry!
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor. 4:17).
Burning Pepper to Prevent Preaching
John Young was one of the courageous Baptist preachers in Virginia during the 18th century who suffered for the freedom to preach according to conscience. He died in a good old age on April 16, 1817.
In 1908, one of his granddaughters gave the following interesting information of John Young. “He was converted and began preaching. He, with others, was imprisoned for preaching what he believed to be the truth. His mother, who had care of his motherless children, visited him regularly once a week taking the children with her. Each preacher was in a room to himself. Each room had one small window, placed so high up in the wall that only a patch of sky could be seen, nothing on the earth. The congregations of the different ministers learned, each, which was his pastor’s window. Once a week John Young’s congregation (and I suppose the other’s too), would assemble under his window, and run up a flag, to let him know they were there and he would preach to them. In this way a great many people were converted. The authorities said, ‘ These heretics make more converts in jail than they do out ‘, so when the congregation assembled, that pastor was smoked out by burning pepper to prevent his preaching.”
Young had been arrested on June 13, 1771, ostensibly for preaching without a license.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, p. 155.
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