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.
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Congregational singing began
1640 — In that we have no leap year in 2014 we are going to use the entry of Feb. 29 on this date because of its importance to our Baptist churches. This was the day that Benjamin Keach was born into the home of John Keach of Buckinghamsire, England. By the age of 15 Benjamin became convinced of believers baptism and submitted himself to the ordinance upon his profession of faith in Christ. By the age of 18, the society of believers that he fellowshipped with saw fit to set him apart for the gospel ministry. At age twenty-eight he became pastor of the Baptist church in Horsleydown, London. In the beginning they met in homes because of the persecution but finally built a meeting house which was enlarged several times up to nearly a thousand. He wrote many treatises and apologies on the issues of his day which found him in court on many occasions. He not only differed with the state church officials but with some of his Baptist brethren relating to doctrine and practice. Baptists have always differed on non- cardinal issues. One such controversy involved congregational singing. Because of persecution, it had been necessary to avoid singing in worship until around 1680. The whole issue turned on one point, whether there was precept or example of the converted and unconverted, to join in the singing as a part of divine worship. Also they believed that those whom God gifted could sing as the heart dictated the melody but not by rhyme or written note. First they only sang at the Lord’s Supper and then later after the sermon and prayer. Some of the dissenters would leave the building and stand in the yard. Later they withdrew and started their own non-singing church, but then started singing around 1793. Thanks to Benjamin Keach and others we have congregational singing in our churches today.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 83.
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The importance of church succession
On this date we have the record of the church-planting procedures of the “Particular Baptists” during the colonial era. The Baptist church in Boston granted a letter of approval to William Screven on Nov. 11, 1681, “to exercise his gift in ye place where he lives or elsewhere as the providence of God may cast him.” Some months later they sent the following letter of approval for the establishing of a Baptist church in Maine; following is a summary of that correspondence: “Upon serious and solemn consideration of the church about a motion…made by several members that lived at Kittery, [that] they might become a church…provided they were such as should be Approved for such A Foundacon work, the Church…did send severall messengers to make y strict inquiry and Examination as they ought in such A case who at their returne brought Coppys here inserted 26th of 7 mo 1682. The Church of Christ at Boston y(et) is baptized upon profession of faith having taken into serious consideration ye Request of our Brethren at Kittery Relating to their being A Church by themselves y(et) soe they might Injoy the precious ordinances of Christ which by reson of distance…they butt seldome could enjoy have therefore thought meet to make Choice of us whose names are und’written as Messengers to Assist them in ye same faith with us…of doctrine and practice and soe finding them one with us by their Conschiencous Acknowleldgm(ent) of ye Confession of faith putt forth by ye Elders an Brethren of ye churches in London and ye contry in England dated in ye year 1682…And they having given themselves up to ye lord & to one Another in A Solemn Covenant to walk as said Covenant may Express & also having Chosen theire officers whome they with us have Appointed and ordained, we doe therefore in ye name of ye lord Jesus & by the Appointment of his Church deliver them to be a Church of Christ in ye faith and order of ye gospel. Signed by us in ye name of ye Church the 25 of 7 mo 1682. Isaak Hull, Thomas Skinner, Phillipp Squire.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 306-07.
They named him “Christmas”
Perhaps the greatest Baptist preacher that Great Britain ever produced was the Welsh preacher Christmas Evans. Born on Christmas Day 1766 into an impoverished home, he lost his father when only nine years old, and spent the next few years with a disreputable uncle. When he was 15 he still couldn’t read but when he was 18 he was converted and joined the Presbyterians. He was six feet tall and His very presence spoke of leadership and they urged him to preach. The development of his untrained mind is an amazing story. He learned to read his Welsh Bible in one month. He read every book in the scant local libraries. “He became skilled in Hebrew, Greek and English.” With a desire to expose the Anabaptists, he studied the New Testament carefully and came to the conclusion that there were no verses that taught infant sprinkling and at least forty for baptism on profession of faith. In 1788 Christmas was immersed in the River Duar by the Rev. Timothy Thomas. He began a pastoral ministry until he was called to the Isle of Anglesea in 1791. There were two chapels and 8 preaching stations. Spiritual deadness prevailed when he began his 35 year ministry. In a short time the Isle was revived, and by 1826 the preaching stations multiplied to scores, and 28 preachers flooded the Isle with the message of grace. He traveled to Velin Voel for an associational meeting in 1794. After two ministers had addressed the assembly in the heat of the open air, Christmas Evans was asked to speak. He spoke for 3 hours on the Demoniac of Gadara. This became his landmark sermon. He lost an eye early in life but the one eye it was said was like a brilliant star, it shined like Venus. On his death bed, he waved his hand as if with Elijah in the chariot of fire, and cried the words of an old Welsh hymn: “Wheel about, coachman, drive on!”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 295-97.
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: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 284-85.
Great outpouring of God’s Spirit
Rev. John E. Clough was born July 16, 1836, in New York. Soon afterwards they moved to Illinois and finally to Iowa. While training as a lawyer in Burlington in 1857 he was brought under conviction and was gloriously saved. Believing that he was called to proclaim the gospel to those who had never heard, he trained at Upper Iowa University and graduated in 1862. His appointment as a Baptist missionary to India took place in August of 1864, and he arrived in that country in March of 1865. Others had pioneered the work before him beginning in 1836. Lyman Jewett joined the mission in 1849. In 1852 he and his wife visited Ongole. They climbed a slope that overlooked the city and prayed that God would send a missionary to Ongole. Clough responded to that prayer and relocated to that city, and a modern miracle began. On Jan. 1, 1867 they organized a church with 8 members, and by the end of 1879, that church had grown to 13,106 members with 46 national preachers and thirty assistants. His methods were biblical, tent meetings of evangelism, nationals were trained, and a circuit of more than eighty villages forty miles around Ongole. As the work grew other missionaries came to join in the work. During a 3 year famine and pestilence they didn’t baptize but when it was over they baptized on July 3, 1878, 2,222 in one day. From June 16 to July 31, 1878, 8,691 had been immersed upon their profession of faith. This was one of the greatest outpourings of God’s spirit since Pentecost.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 272-73.
Ritualism to Reality in Christ
Dover Mills, Goochland County, VA – 1865
From the time of his youth, William Baskett purposed to know God. William was born in 1741 in Goochland County Virginia. As a youth, William envisioned the blessings of sincere Christianity, and he regularly attended public worship services, and because of his sincerity, he was allowed to participate in the communion service of the established state church (Anglican). In time William saw himself as a guilty, undone sinner. Great conviction gripped his heart and he continually examined God’s word. Finally one night God brought the Scripture to mind: “He that trusts in the Lord shall never be confounded.” (Douay-Rheims bible) At that moment he trusted Jesus Christ as his Saviour and threw himself on the Lord’s grace. He found immediate peace with God. In the mean time Elijah Craig and David Thompson, faithful Baptist preachers, had entered the area, and the Basketts were immersed upon their profession of faith. Soon a small congregation was gathered, and the work of God grew, when in 1788 a revival in the area brought significant growth to the local church. William Baskett was called to assume the pastorate of the Lyle’s Baptist Church. After twenty -one years of an exemplary ministry, the amazing event of the home going of the Basketts took place. On April 21, 1815, his life partner fell asleep in Jesus. One week later on April 29, 1815, he preached his last sermon from the words: “We have no continuing city, but seek one to come.” On the following day, William’s tranquil spirit took flight to Glory.
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins) p.p. 248 – 249
Prayer and a Biblical Educator
James Petigru Boyce was a fine scholar and very popular in his ways. He received his college education when it was not unusual for students and faculty to meet for prayer every evening. The spiritual welfare of Boyce became of great concern to some of his fellow students, and he became the object of special prayer that his gifts and graces might all be consecrated to Christ.
Shortly after one of these times of special prayer and fasting, Boyce took a ship from New York to Charleston, South Carolina. During this long journey, it was observed that he spent a great deal of time in his stateroom. A friend discovered that he was reading his Bible, and after much discourse together, Boyce came under deep conviction. Upon reaching the city, he found that his sister was also concerned with her spiritual welfare and that a close friend had just made his profession of faith. Dr. Richard Fuller was preaching in the city with great effect, and a spiritual awakening was under way. Boyce’s conviction of sin increased, and he felt himself a ruined sinner and looked to the merits of Jesus Christ alone for his salvation. On April 22, 1846, he was baptized on that profession of faith. Boyce graduated from Brown University in 1847 and studied theology at Princeton from 1848 to 1851.
Dr. Dale R. Hart from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, p. 1623
Shine as the Stars
How unlikely that a pastor who lived his entire life from birth to death in a rural area would ever have such godly influence as to baptize almost 5,000 people. In the country churchyard of Bethel Baptist Church in Charlotte County, Virginia, a modest grave marker designates the resting place of the body of the beloved pastor Elijah White Roach. How fitting that the words of Daniel 12:3 have been incised on the marker: “They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever.”
In coming to maturity, Elijah made a profession of faith and became a member of the local Baptist church. As he matured spiritually and developed leadership, he was invited occasionally to preach. At that time, a seasoned pastor, Abram Poindexeter, took Elijah under his wing and began to train him for Christian service. Elijah’s ability in the pulpit grew, and the following year a church building was constructed in Midway and thirteen members constituted the new church, and Elijah was ordained and became the pastor of that congregation. The church grew immediately. He preached two hundred times a year and kept up with pastoral visitation. Other congregations were formed, and in time Elijah was pastoring four such churches. Elijah W. Roach preached into his eighty-seventh year. In fact on the Lord’s Day before his home-going, he preached at the Midway Baptist Church, then arriving home on Monday, he fell asleep in Jesus. Great crowds gathered for his funeral, and the text used was the goal of his life. “They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever.”
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: This Day in Baptist History III (David L. Cummins), pp. 112-114.
“Teach me to study Thy glory in all I do. Amen!”
December 31, 1795 – Was the occasion of Oliver Hart’s death. Dr. Richard Furman said, “From a part of his diary in my possession, it appears that he took more than ordinary pains to walk humbly and faithfully with God; to live under the impressions of the love of Christ…” Hart wrote in his diary on Aug. 5, 1754: “Oh, that, for time to come, I may become more active for God! I would this morning resolve, before thee, O God, and in Thy name and strength, to devote myself more unreservedly to Thy service than I have hitherto done…I would begin and end each day with thee: Teach me to study Thy glory in all I do. Amen!” Oliver Hart was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on July 5, 1723. Early in life he was exposed to the preaching of Whitefield, the Episcopalian, the Presbyterian Tennants, and Edward and Abel Morgan, the Baptists. In those early years he made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. After his ordination he was challenged by a call for ministers to go to Charleston, S.C. He arrived there just as the only ordained Baptist preacher, Jesse Chamber, was buried. His unexpected arrival was considered to be the will of God and the people asked him to assume the pastoral care of the church, which he did on Feb. 16, 1750 and continued for many years. When the British fleet invaded Charleston, wishing to preserve his political liberty, which was being threatened, he removed to Hopewell, N.J., where he assumed the pastorate of the Baptist church there and remained for thirteen years. Hart was another example of one who did not have a formal education but continued to improve his mind in private study. The college of Rhode Island conferred upon him an honorary degree. He helped lay the groundwork for Furman and others.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 549-50.