They were arrested for encouraging a brother
“I will have no such trash brought to our jurisdiction.” These were the remarks made by Gov. Endicott of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to the plight of the Baptists that were being refused the privileges of Englishmen to have counsel, to be tried by jury, and to know what law they had transgressed. John Spur and John Hazel were taken by warrants dated July 5, 1751 for giving an expression of concern and sympathy to Obadiah Holmes after his beating by the authorities for participating in an unauthorized worship service. John Cotton, the Puritan preacher and prosecutor at John Clarke and Holmes sentencing had preached prior to their sentencing that denying infants’ baptism would overthrow all; and that it was a capital offense and they were soul murderers and deserved the death sentence. The men who whipped Holmes were so brutal that he required a physician to attend to his wounds. Spur only shook Holmes hand and Hazel only said, ‘blessed be God for thee, brother’ and yet they were taken by warrants. Even the attending doctor was the object of inquiry and interrogation. The true nature of a church state and/or a state church is often revealed as one studies church history. Some of the most unrelenting and cruel punishments have been legislated by such unscriptural tribunals. In many cases, they have been carried out with the ferocity far greater than that of pagan religio-political systems. And to think that those Congregationalists viewed themselves as Christian believers.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 275-76.
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Beale Memorial Baptist
The issue was the Lordship of Christ
1774 – The Piscataway Baptist Church, located seven miles southwest of Tappahannock, Virginia, was founded, and on the same day a warrant was issued to arrest all the Baptist preachers at the meeting. John Waller, John Shackleford, Robert Ware, and Ivison Lewis were taken before a magistrate. Lewis was released because it could not be proved that he actually preached. The others were sent to prison. During their time there they preached twice per week, gave godly advice, read the scriptures, and prayed almost without ceasing. John Waller in his journal wrote that they passed through various fiery trials, their minds being harassed by the enemy of souls. The actual record has been preserved in the court record of the Essex County, VA, records book for the twenty-first of March, in the year of our Lord 1774. The charge was, “for preaching and expounding the Scriptures contrary to law, and confessing the fact…” Ware and Shackleford gave security (bond) and were released. Waller was always doubtful about giving bond and was determined to go back to jail which he did and spent fourteen days with a bunch of drunken and profane rowdies. He felt deserted by his brethren and scoffed and persecuted by his enemies. He finally gave consent and bonded out. The old brick courthouse building where those men were arraigned as lawbreakers is still standing on U.S. Route 17 in Tappahannock, and is now a Baptist church. The members of the Centennial Baptist Church bought the old courthouse and used it as a house of worship. The church changed its name in 1908 to Beale Memorial Baptist Church after Pastor Frank B. Beal who served as pastor for twenty-eight years. This 234 year old church may be the oldest Baptist church in America.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 103.
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He preached with great power
1722 – WARRANTS WERE ISSUED AGAINST A BAPTIST PREACHER IN LOUDON COUNTY, VIRGINIA IN 1766 – Richard Major was born on February 6, 1722 near Pennsbury, Pennsylvania into a Presbyterian home. Early on under conviction of sin he would resort to bad company to ward it off but finally grace prevailed and he became an ardent believer. He became a Baptist in 1764 and moved to Loudon County, VA, in 1766. Though he had not much schooling he was self-taught in the school of Christ, and became ordained, and was called to pastor the Little River Church, of which came six or eight other churches. Major encountered much opposition from the authorities. Warrants were issued for his arrest, but the officers never took him. At Bull Run a mob armed with clubs rose to assist in the execution of a warrant, but the Davis brothers, giants of men, after hearing him preach became enamored with him and threatened to whip anyone who disturbed his preaching. A particular man, whose wife Major had baptized, went to a meeting to kill him but the Lord intervened, and the man became so convicted that he couldn’t stand and was afterwards baptized by Major. On another occasion, a man attacked him with a club, Major said, “Satan I command thee to come out of the man.” The club immediately fell to the ground, and the lion became like a lamb. He had many other similar incidents happen in his ministry. Major was highly esteemed in his latter years which caused him great alarm because of the scripture, “beware when all men speak well of you.” His mind was eased when he overheard someone charging him with an abominable crime. The house where he lived, a stately red brick home still stands near Chantilly, VA, and a few hundred feet behind the house is his grave marked by a weathered landmark of our early Baptist history in America.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 50.
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A church within prison walls
1662 – Francis Bampfield conducted worship in his house for his family and a few neighbors, his text was I Th. 5:6-7. Soldiers broke up the service producing a warrant and arrested Bampfield, Humphrey Philips his assistant, and twenty-five others who were taken to the home of the provost, Marshall, and detained for five days. All received rough treatment and were later released. Bampfield returned to preaching and was arrested again. After a series of arrests, trials, imprisonments, and persecutions he was finally imprisoned at Dorchester, England where his incarceration lasted for nine years. During this time he preached nearly every Sunday, and was able to establish a church within the prison walls. It was during this time that he embraced the observance of the Sabbath Day. Upon his release he started a church in Piner’s Hall in London, on March 5, 1675. He ministered there, whenever his “prison schedule” allowed until his death in 1684. It was also during this time that he came to accept believer’s immersion only as the scriptural means of baptism, and was immersed while an inmate. He led his congregation to that biblical position. On March 17, 1682, he was arrested for the last time. Following his trial, in which the jury, at the order of the judge, gave a verdict of guilty, he was imprisoned for what would prove the remainder of his life. He was imprisoned in the dread prison at Newgate and was buried in a new graveyard purchased by the Baptists near Aldersgate Street on Feb. 19 1684. [Richard L. Greaves, Saints and Rebels (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University. Press, 1985), p. 183.This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 513-15]
Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon