When you look for the devil,
to look in the pulpit
When you look for the devil,
to look in the pulpit
September 8, 2015 Dose of Reality by Joseph Harris Number 322
Comments on Current Events in Government, Religion, Culture, and the Family, from a Conservative Biblical Perspective
All material in Dose of Reality (including writings and quotes from Brother Ritechus N. Dignation) is original, unless otherwise indicated. Original material may be republished and quoted without prior permission, but only verbatim and with Joseph Harris andwww.josephharrismagic.com/rnd included for credit.
Small-Town Preacher with a Worldwide Vision
Gloomy and fatalistic high Calvinism held sway in the pulpits of England when Andrew Fuller was born in Wicken, Cambridgeshire, England, Feb. 6, l754. When about fourteen years of age he first became interested in religious exercises. This question arose in his mind, what is faith? He could not answer it, but he satisfied himself that it did not require an immediate response, and that he would learn in the future what it was. Nevertheless he was not as indifferent about his soul as in former times, and occasionally he was very unhappy. Once, with some boys in a blacksmith’s shop, while they were singing foolish songs, the words addressed to Elijah seemed to pierce his soul, — What doest thou here, Elijah? And he arose and left his companions. It was then in 1769, Andrew Fuller became a genuine believer in Christ. He was baptized and joined the church in Soham where his family attended. Fuller never received formal theological training, but his extraordinary gifting was apparent as he began preaching in the church at age 17. He soon became pastor of a little Baptist church at Soham where he served until 1782. He then became the pastor of a vigorous church in Kettering, Northhamptonshire and remained there until his death.
Andrew Fuller’s deep concern for evangelism and world missions led to the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society on October 2, 1792. Fuller and a small assembly of pastors, including William Carey and John Thomas who later went to India joined together to form the society.
To recognize his contributions in theology, Princeton University awarded him a D.D. in 1798 and Yale did the same in 1805. He declined both. Andrew Fuller contracted tuberculosis and passed away at age 61 on May 7, 1815.
Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 186 – 187
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Neh_8:4-5 provides us with one other aspect of preaching, namely, that a pulpit was built for that purpose. The Hebrew migdāl (H4026), which has forms in other Semitic languages, actually means “a tower.” It’s used for the Tower of Babel (Gen_11:4), a tower built into a city wall (2Ch_14:7), and the watchtower in a vineyard (Isa_5:2).
Many old churches had high pulpits accessed only by a spiral staircase, which is the idea in the Hebrew. Scotsman Alistair Begg recounts a vivid memory from his childhood when he sat in St. George’s Tron Church in Glasgow waiting for morning worship to begin. He writes: “At about three minutes to eleven the beadle [parish official] would climb the pulpit stairs and place a large Bible on the lectern. Having opened it to the appropriate passage, he would descend, and the minister would in turn ascend the stairs and sit in the cone-shaped pulpit. The beadle would complete his duties by climbing the stairs the second time to close the pulpit door and leave the pastor to his task. There was no doubt in my young mind that each part of that procedure was marked with significance. There was clearly no reason for the pastor to be in the pulpit apart from the Bible upon which he looked down as he read. I understood that, in contrast to his physical posture, the pastor was standing under Scripture, not over it. Similarly, we were listening not so much for his message but for its message.”
So central was preaching to John Calvin, that he ordered all altars (which for centuries had been the focal point of the pagan mass) removed from the churches and a pulpit with a Bible on it placed in the center of the building. Everything pointed to that as the center of worship. Similarly, Martin Lloyd-Jones ordered the pulpit to be bolted to the floor at Westminster Chapel in London.
How different it is in many churches today! If the speaker must have a lectern, it is on the same level with the congregation so as not to imply that he is “above them.” Is the preacher better than the people? Should he be elevated above them? Of course not. We do, however, elevate the Word of God and its proclamation as absolute truth.
Dear Christian Friend, I pray that you will seek a church where the Word of God is elevated and its exposition is primary.
Scriptures for Study: 2Ti_4:1-4 are among the last words Paul wrote. What do they say about preaching?
He preached politics from the pulpit
1807 – Samuel Stillman, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Boston during the Revolutionary War died on this day at seventy years of age. He was converted to Christ and baptized under the ministry of Oliver Hart when his parents moved to S.C. He later founded a Baptist Education Society in Charleston. Always weak in health he moved back to N.J. to improve his physical condition. He was called as the assistant pastor of the Second Baptist Church of Boston. After one year, he became the pastor of the historic First Baptist Church of that city on Jan. 9, 1765 where he stayed until his death. The Baptists, with only two or three exceptions stood solidly behind the Revolution. Stillman was one of the strongest proponents. His heart blazed for liberty. He despised the Stamp Act and preached against it from his pulpit. He was outraged over the inflicted Baptists of Ashfield, Mass., and authored a petition to the general court against it. The issue had to do with a general assessment for the support of the state church (Congregational). He was a powerful preacher who drew crowds from great distances including dignitaries such as, Washington, Adams, John Hancock, and Gen. Knox. He lifted high the cross, preached sin black, and hell hot and saw great revivals. His flock was scattered during the war but he returned, gathered them together again, and First Baptist was the only church in Boston that stayed open for the duration. The forty-two years he spent in Boston covered the great debates of the Revolution, the war itself, the birth of the nation, the Federal Constitution, and the presidencies of Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. Samuel Stillman was a remarkable man for remarkable times. But history shows that God always has His man for the times.
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The Transforming cup of sorrow
1898 – A BAPTIST PREACHERS LIFE IS TRANSFORMED AND A CHURCH HAS GREAT GROWTH BECAUSE OF THE CRUCIBLE OF SORROW IN 1898 – February 9, 1898 was the lowest day in the life of George W. Truett the pastor of the renowned First BC of Dallas, Texas. It was the day that Rev. George W. Baines, Pastor of the First BC of Cleburne, TX preached the funeral of Captain J.C. Arnold, Chief of the Dallas Police Department from the pulpit of the Dallas church. On the 4th of February, Arnold, his 30 year old pastor, Truett and Baines, had gone quail hunting East of Cleburne. As they prepared to return to Baines home, Dr. Truett shifted his hammerless shotgun to the other arm and it accidentally discharged into the Captains right leg. Though he was rushed to Dallas for treatment he died the next evening Feb. 5. When they found that it was a blood clot to his heart that caused his death, Truett could not be consoled and continued to pace the floor filled with agony and self-condemnation telling his wife that he would never preach again. Her attempts to console him were futile. He continued to say as he paced, “My times are in thy hands.” That night his ministry was transformed and he reluctantly allowed the details to be told. He had a vivid three-fold dream. He saw our Lord Jesus Christ standing by his bedside and said, “Be not afraid. You are my man from now on.” He entered the pulpit the next Sunday with drawn face and sad eyes. Things were different, the results cannot be disputed. During his 47 years as pastor he saw more than 20,000 members added to the church. By the time of his death in 1944 perhaps no other preacher was better known.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 54..
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A time for survival for Baptists
1661 – BAPTISTS SUFFERED GREAT PERSECUTION IN ENGLAND IN THE MID 17TH CENTURY – On January 25, 1661 a petition entitled “The humble petition and presentation of the 1sufferings of several peaceable subjects, called by the name of Anabaptists, inhabitants in the county of Kent, and now prisoners in the jail at Maidstone, for the testimony of a good conscience” was presented. 1660 to 1688 was a time for survival for Baptists rather than expansion. John Bunyan began his 12 year term in Bedford jail. On Oct. 19, 1661, John James, a Sabbatarian Baptist, was dragged from his pulpit in Bulsrake Alley, Whitechaple in London, and committed to the Newgate jail. On Nov. 26, he was taken to Tyburn to be hanged. King Charles II was unmoved. The Baptists had no recourse but to write publications. One was by John Sturgion, a member of the baptized people,” entitle, A Plea for Toleration of Opinions and persuasions in Matters of Religion, differing from the Church of England. Another was, Sion’s Groans for Her Distressed: or, Sober Endeavors to Prevent Innocent Blood. Seven Baptist ministers affixed their names to the document. Joseph Wright, Thomas Monck, George Hammon, William Jeffrey, Francis Stanley, William Reynolds, and Francis Smith. Joseph Wright spent no less than 20 years in prison for the sake of truth. They said that they were willing to be loyal subjects to the king in civil matters but that they must obey God in religion.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson/ pg. 33.
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Baptists preceded the Reformation
1847 – Thomas Rees Davies, the Welsh Baptist pastor, known as “Old Black Cap”, because he wore a velvet cap in the pulpit, provided a great verbal description of himself in a letter he wrote to a deacon in London, who was to meet him at the train. He wrote, “At Euston Station…about nine in the evening, expect the arrival of a gray-haired old man; very tall, like the ancient Britons, and without an outward blemish, but a Jewish high-priest. Like Elijah, he will wear a mantle, not shaggy, but superfine, and like Jacob, he will have a staff in his hand, but will not be lame, it is hoped. But most especially, he will have a white string in his hat, fastened to his coat button. There will be many there with black strings, but his will be white. Let the friend ask, ‘Are you Davies?’ and his answer will be, ‘Yes.’” Baptists in Wales preceded the Reformation. The Venerable Bede (673-735) wrote, in his work, that Welshmen followed the Bible only and opposed the superstitions of Rome. It is clear that there were those who held Baptist convictions in Wales at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The first Baptist church in Wales after the Reformation was formed at Ilston, near Swansea, in Glamorganshire, in 1649. Wales has also had a great influence in America by sending entire congregations to our shores. Christmas Evans was one of the greatest of their preachers, so named, because he was born on Christmas day. When Davies started his last preaching tour and sensed that his days were few he said that he wanted to be buried in the same grave with Evans. He preached on July 22, 1859, died on Sunday the 24th, and was buried in Evans tomb.
[This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 661-62. Thomas Armitage, A History of the Baptists (New York: Bryan, Taylor, and Co., 1887), pp. 599-600.]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
Author of Soul Liberty in CT
1772 – Stephen Smith Nelson was born to Thomas and Ann Nelson of Middleboro, Mass. His conversion to Christ was at age fourteen and he was baptized by William Nelson, a near relative, and became a member of the Baptist church in his home town, whose pastor was the celebrated Isaac Backus, the great advocate of religious liberty. Stephen graduated from Brown U. in 1794, and continued his studies under Dr. Samuel Stillman, the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Boston. At 24 he was licensed to preach, and after filling the pulpit at Hartford Conn., he was ordained in 1798. The church met in several places including the old courthouse, and though it was crude in appearance, and they had rough furniture, they experience the remarkable presence of God, and more than one hundred converts were baptized into the church. Nelson took an active part in preparing “The Baptist Petition,” a remonstrance addressed to the Conn. Legislature, supporting absolute soul liberty, which was accomplished in 1818, with the disestablishing of the state church. He was also one of those appointed by the Danbury Baptist Association to write a congratulatory letter to Thomas Jefferson which was answered with the famous “Wall of Separation” quote which we still here about today. Nelson ended his life in Amherst, Mass., preaching to feeble and destitute churches. He always enjoyed a fruitful ministry wherever he preached. He died at 82 years of age in 1853. [Wm. B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit (New York: Robert Carter and Bros., 1865), 6:366. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 545-46.] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon
The Ground is level at the Cross
1930 – Charles Evans Hughes, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court presented himself for membership in a Baptist church in Washington, D.C. It was the custom of the church to invite the new members to come forward and introduce them to the congregation. On this same morning a Chinese laundryman had come for membership, having moved to the Capitol from San Francisco. A dozen others came forward and stood on the opposite side of the pulpit from the Chinese man named Ah Sing who stood alone. Chief Justice Hughes was called who took his place beside Ah Sing. After welcoming the new members into the church the pastor said, “I do not want this congregation to miss the remarkable illustration of the fact that at the cross of Jesus Christ the ground is level!” Charles Evans Hughes had been born into the family of a Baptist pastor. Early in life he responded to the gospel and was saved. During his entire political career he was a faithful witness to the gospel of Christ. He served two terms as Gov. of New York. He was defeated for President in 1921 by Woodrow Wilson. He served twice on the Supreme Court, the last time he was appointed by Pres. Herbert Hoover. He had a reputation of “fearless integrity”. [“Hughes, Charles Evans,” Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia. 1993-96 Midrosoft Corp. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 531-32.]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon