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327 – Nov. 23 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY PAST


He became a great scholar

November 23, 1697 – Dr. John Gill was born, who was to become an influential leader among the Particular Baptists of England during the 18th Century. He became a great scholar in Latin, Greek, logic, Rabbinical Hebrew, and the book of Zohar, with their ancient commentaries. He produced many works, including a commentary on the whole Bible. He still is acknowledged among Baptists as one of the most profound scholars. Armitage says of him, “And yet, with all his ability, he was so high a supralapsarian, that it is hard to distinguish him from an antinomian. For example, he could not invite sinners to the Savior, while he declared their guilt and condemnation, their need of the new birth; and held that God would convert such as He had elected to be saved, and so man must not interfere with His purposes by inviting men to Christ. Under this teaching His church steadily declined, and after half a century’s work he left but a mere handful.” During the same period of time, many General Baptists embraced the extreme liberalism of Arian and Socinian views fostered by the apostasy of the state churches. Between 1715 and 1750 their churches fell from 146 to 65. But the exaggerated emphasis on election and predestination dried up the springs of evangelism in the Particular Baptists and their churches were reduced from 220 to 146. This decline changed in 1750 when the spiritual awakening began to sweep England and America and men like Andrew Fuller began to emphasize the “Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation.” It was Fuller who held the ropes in England, while Carey descended into the pit in India. May we learn that any truth taken to an extreme by rationalistic processes will become heresy that can lead to apostasy, and that always leads to the death of evangelism.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson /, pp. 488-89.

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