Most of the following biographies are taken from the Baptist Encyclopedia, written by William Cathcart and published in 1881
Edited by Pastor James Beller
ANDREW BROADDUSAndrew Broaddus was born in Caroline Co., Va., Nov. 4, 1770. His love of letters and his studiousness were such that he became one of the most thorough Biblical scholars of his times. About the age of eighteen he experienced a change of heart, and although strenuously opposed by his father, who was a rigid adherent of the Episcopal Church, he was baptized May 28, 1789, and became a member of the Baptist church of Upper King and Queen, then under the care of the Rev. Theodoric Noel. The duty of preparing himself to preach the gospel at once pressed itself upon his attention, and having been convinced that it was his duty to do so, he preached his first sermon at the house of Mrs. Lowrie, where, upon this, the first occasion, Rev. R. R. Semple also preached. From the very beginning Mr. Broaddus was popular as a preacher. He was ordained Oct. 16, 1791, in the church in which he was baptized. Among the first churches he served were Burrus and Bethel, in the county of Caroline, and also the church in Fredericksburg. While supplying these churches he also taught a school, and applied himself closely to study.
Subsequently he became pastor of Upper Zion, Beulah, Mangohie, Salem, and Upper King and Queen, with the last two of which he continued to labor until the close of his life. Although Mr. Broaddus was known but to few personally beyond the limits of his own State, yet, when in the prime of life, he received invitations to become the pastor of numerous churches in distant cities: from the First church in Boston, in 1811; from the First church in Philadelphia, in 1811; from the First church in Baltimore, in 1819; from the New Market Street church, Philadelphia, in 1819; from the Sansom Street, Philadelphia, in 1824; and from the First church, New York, in 1832. An ineradicable constitutional timidity, which sometimes made him almost powerless in speech when in the presence of strangers, and a deeply-rooted attachment to old friends and old scenes, prevented his acceptance of all such tempting offers. He made the trial once in removing to Richmond to take charge of the First Baptist church in that city, but his stay there was short, and he soon returned to labor again with his country congregations.
As a preacher, Mr. Broaddus was the foremost man of his generation. "In clearness of conception, beauty of imagery, aptness of illustration, and tenderness of soul he was pre-eminent. With a well-proportioned form, graceful manner, natural gesticulation, benignant countenance, and musical voice, he held as by a pleasing spell, his enraptured hearers. All hung upon his lips, unwilling to lose a word, while with softly insinuating power he found access to the innermost depths of the soul, causing all its fountains of emotions to gush forth." His chief excellence consisted in the exposition of the Scriptures, and especially those passages suited to edify and comfort the people of God. Contrary to what many suppose to have been the case, his most effective sermons were not preached on great occasions. His love of quiet, and inveterate dislike of large and promiscuous assemblies, generally kept him away from Associations and conventions; and when present and persuaded to preach, there was no certainty that he would be able to fulfill his appointment. It is recorded of him that having been appointed to preach at a meeting of the Dover Association in Matthews Co., Va., he went through the preliminary services in his usual felicitous manner, and when the large audience had settled themselves to enjoy a spiritual feast, he came to a sudden pause and said, "The circumstances of the case-I mean my case-make it necessary to excuse myself from proceeding with the discussion."
His biographer adds, "The thought had probably seized him that the expectations of the people could not be met; or he had recognized in the congregation some one whose criticism he dreaded; or the wind and roar of the ocean had disturbed his nervous system; whatever it was, a serious surprise and regret were felt by all." This painful dread of a crowd was, however, in a measure overcome towards the latter part of his life. Mr. Broaddus's literary labors were also of a high order. He wrote a small volume, of some 70 pages, entitled "The Age of Reason and Revelations," which was a reply to Paine's celebrated attack on Christianity. This little work was published in 1795, while he was still quite young, and gives evidence of a well-stored mind and vigorous logical powers. In 1816 he published "A Bible History, with Occasional Notes, to Explain and Illustrate Difficult Passages." These "notes" are, indeed, valuable for the clear and satisfactory views they open up of many of the dark passages of the Word of God. The Dover Association requested him, at one of their sessions, to prepare a commentary upon the Scriptures, which, however, he did not undertake. He prepared an admirable little "Catechism for Children," which was issued by the American Baptist Publication Society. He also prepared a manual of church polity and discipline. He did much for the hymnology of the churches. As early as 1790 he prepared and published a collection of "Sacred Ballads," most of which were in popular use at that time. About 1828 he prepared the "Dover Selection," and afterwards the "Virginia Selection," several of whose hymns were of his own composition, and all of which were of his own composition, and all of which were very extensively used by the churches. Only a few of Mr. Broaddus's sermons have been published, for, although he prepared his sermons with the greatest care, making more or less extended notes, he rarely wrote out his discourses. Mr. Broaddus was also a frequent contributor to the Religious Herald, for which he wrote a valuable series of essays on Campbellism and its errors. The Columbian College conferred the degree of D.D. upon Mr. Broaddus, but he respectfully declined to accept the honor.
"The Baptists of Virginia will long cherish the fond memory of the excellence of his character, the superior mental and oratorical powers with which he was endowed, and the genial, useful influence he exercised on the churches and the world."
CHAD BROWNRev. Chad Brown, the ancestors of the distinguished Brown family of Rhode Island, was born in England about 1610. He is said to have been "one of that little company who fled with Roger Williams from the persecution of the then colon of Massachusetts." The lot which was assigned to him in the division of lands which was made in Providence included within it what is now the college grounds of Brown University. He seems to have a man of importance in those early time, having been chosen, with four other citizens, to draw up a plan of agreement for the peace and government of the colony, which for several years constituted the only acknowledged government of the town.
Mr. Brown may be regarded as the first "elder", or regular minister of the First Baptist church in Providence, the church founded by Roger Williams. While Mr. Brown was the minister of the First church in Providence there arose a great controversy, which agitated not only the town, but the whole colony. It was with references to the "laying on of hands," alluded to in Heb. vi. 1, 2, and Mr. Brown was earnest in maintaining the obligatoriness of the rite, as being one of divine authority. He died about the year 1665.
"His death," says Dr. Guild, "was regarded by the colonists as a public calamity, for he had been the successful arbitrator of many differences, and had won the not unenviable reputation of being a peace-maker." Roger Williams spoke of him, after his death, "as that wise and godly soul, now with God." He was the worthy head of honored descendants.
*SOURCES CITED ARE CATHCART'S BAPTIST ENCYCLOPEDIA AND BENEDICT'S HISTORY OF THE BAPTISTS.
JOHN BUNYANJohn Bunyan was born at Elstow, England, about a mile from Bedford in 1628. His father was a man of more intelligence than those who generally followed his calling, and he had John taught to read and write. When the little boy was ten years of age he first became conscious that he was very sinful. He speedily shook off these fears.
He was "drawn out" in 1643, with others, at the siege of Leicester to perform sentinel's duty before the city, when another member of his company expressed a desire to take his place; the request was granted, and that night Bunyan's substitute was shot in the head and died. This deliverance produced a powerful impression upon Bunyan.
Soon after he left the army he married, and his wife and he were so poor that they had neither a "dish nor a spoon."
His first permanent conviction of sin was produced by a sermon denouncing the violation of the Lord's day by labor, sports, or otherwise. This came home to Bunyan with peculiar force, for his greatest enjoyment came from sports on the Lord's day.
A long while after this, Bunyan, in passing through the streets of Bedford, heard "three or four poor women," sitting at a door, "talking about the new birth, the work of God in their hearts, and the way by which they were convinced of their miserable state by nature. They told how God had visited their souls with his love in Christ Jesus, and with what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted, and supported against the temptations of the devil; moreover, they reasoned of the suggestions and temptations of Satan in particular." From these women Bunyan learned to loathe sin and to hunger for the Saviour. He sought their company again and again, and he was strengthened to go to Jesus. One day, as he was passing into the field, he says, "This sentence fell upon my soul 'Thy righteousness is in heaven.' I also saw that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever." Then, as he says, "his chains fell off," and he went home rejoicing. In 1655, Mr. Bunyan was immersed by the Rev. John Gifford, of Bedford. The same year he was called to preach the gospel.
Bunyan was arrested Nov. 12, 1660., and he was in jail more than twelve years. His imprisonment was peculiarly trying. "the parting with my wife and poor children," says Bunyan, "hath often been to me, in this place (the prison), like pulling the flesh from my bones." And of his blind daughter he adds, "Poor child, what sorrow thou art like to have for thy portion in this world! Thou must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand calamities, though I cannot now endure the wind should blow upon thee." "The Pilgrim's Progress" was written in Bedford jail.
During Bunyan's lifetime there were 100,000 copies of that book circulated in the British islands, besides which there were several editions in North America. And in the ten years which Bunyan lived, after his wonderful book was first issued, it was translated into French, Flemish, Dutch, Welsh, Gaelic, and Irish. Since Bunyan's death it has been translated into Hebrew for Christian Jews in Jerusalem, and into Spanish, Portuguese Italian, Danish, German, Armenian, Burmese, Singhalese, Orissa, Hindostanee, Bengalee, Tamil, Maratthi, Canarese, Gujaratti, Malay, Arabic, Samoan, Tahitian, Pihuana, Bechuana, Malagasy, New Zealand, and Latin. This list of translations ends with 1847. Since that time it has been rendered into several additional tongues of our race. Nor will "The Pilgrim's Progress" stop in its travels until it visits very land occupied by human beings, and tells its blessed story in the language of all nations.
There is a French Roman Catholic version of "The Pilgrim's Progress," greatly abridged, with the head of the Virgin on the title-page. It leaves our giant Pope and the statement that Peter was afraid of a sorry girl. An English ritualistic clergyman has tried to adapt it to the sacramental jugglery of his system. Of Bunyan's "Holy War" Lord McCaulay says, "If 'The Pilgrim's Progress' did not exist it would be the best allegory that ever was written;" and he proclaims "John Bunyan the most popular religious writer in the English language."
The pardon which secured Bunyan's release from prison was ordered by the Privy Council, presided over by the king, May 17, 1672. After his liberation he became the most popular preacher in England; 3000 persons gathered to hear him in London before breakfast. Men of all ranks and of all grades of intelligence listened to his burning words, and heralded the fame of his eloquence to the kind. The learned Dr. John Owen told Charles II that he would relinquish all his learning for the tinker's preaching abilities.
While Bunyan was journeying upon an errand of mercy he was exposed to a heavy rain, which brought on a violent fever, from the effect of which he died in ten days, in London, Aug. 12, 1688. His last hours were full of peace. He was buried in Bunhill Fields Cemetery, where his monument is still seen.
Bunyan's church, now of the Congregational denomination, is still in Bedford. His chair is in the meeting-house, and some other relics of the immortal dreamer. A few years since the Duke of Bedford erected a handsome monument to Bunyan in Bedford, on which a statue of the great dreamer stands.
source: Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia
Jabez Burns for many years an eminent minister of the English General Baptists, was born in Oldham, Lancashire, Dec 18, 1805. In his youth he connected himself with the Methodists, but some years later he was baptized, and became associated with the General Baptists. He was engaged for some years in lecturing and preaching in Scotland, mainly in connection with the temperance movement, of which throughout life he was an able and conspicuous leader. In June 1835, he was called to the pastorate of the church in London. Here for upwards of forty years he labored with distinguished success. He also wrote and published largely, his best-known works being "Helps to Students and Lay Preachers" and "Manuals for Devotionals Use and Family Worship." He visited this country in 1847 as a delegate from the General Baptist Association to the Free-Will Baptist Triennial Conference, and also in 1872. His "Retrospect of a Forty Years' Ministry," published in 1875, gives an interesting description of the modern progress of religion, temperance and philanthropic enterprises. In recognition of his merits as a religious writer, and particularly of the character of his "Pulpit Cyclopaedia," the Wesleyan University of Connecticut conferred upon him the degree of D.D. in 1846, and in 1872 Bates College, Me., added the degree of LL.D. He was very efficient to the end of his life, and as a preacher and public speaker he was highly esteemed. He died Jan. 31, 1876, aged seventy.
William Carey was born in Purey, Northampton, England, August 17, 1761. In his boyhood he was an extreme Episcopalian, regarding dissenters with sovereign contempt. His father and grandfather officiated as clerks in the Episcopal Church, and young Carey from childhood loved the house in which they held this humble position.
Mr. Carey was baptized by Dr. Ryland, Oct. 5, 1783, in the river Nen, just above Dr. Doddridge's church, Northhampton. For three years and a half he preached to a little community in Boston, walking six miles each way to render the service.
He was ordained pastor of the church of Moulton Aug. 1, 1787; the sermon on the occasion was preached by the Rev. Andrew Fuller. His salary at Moulton was just $75.00 a year, and when he entered upon his labors in that field he had a wife and two children to support.
Mr. Carey had probably the greatest facility for acquiring foreign languages ever possess by any human being. At any rate, no one ever possess a larger measure of this extraordinary talent. In seven years he learned Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, and Dutch, and in acquiring these languages he had scarcely and assistance.
In reading the voyages of the celebrated Captain Cook he first had his attention directed to the heath world, and especially to its doomed condition; the topic soon filled his mind and engrossed his heart. And though the subject was beset by innumerable and apparently insurmountable difficulties, and though the work was novel to him and to everyone of his friends, yet he felt impelled by an unseen power to go and preach the gospel to the heathen. His first selected field of labor was Tahiti.
He issued a pamphlet entitled "An Inquiry into the Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathen." This publication made a deep impression upon Mr. Carey's friends, and it had an extensive influence in turning their minds and hearts to the idolaters of distant lands. Mr. Carey became pastor of the church in Leicester in 1789, and there he labored with untiring faithfulness among his flock, and formed plans with unquenchable zeal for the salvation of the heathen. From this church he went for to India to give God's Word to its vast population.
At the meeting of his Association, which was held at Nottingham, May 30, 1792, he preached on Isaiah liv. 2,3, announcing the two memorable divisions of his disclosure: "Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God." The sermon stirred up the hearts of his hearers as they had never been before; every one felt the guilt of keeping the gospel from perishing myriads, and the need of making an effort to win his ignorant enemies to their Master. At Kettering, the church of Andrew Fuller, the Baptist Missionary Society was organized Oct. 2, 1792. The society was formally instituted in the house of the widow of Deacon Beeby Wallis. The little parlor which witnessed the birth of this society was the most honored room in the British Islands, or in any part of Christendom; in it was formed the first society of modern times for spreading the gospel among the heathen, the parent of all great Protestant missionary societies in existence.
The British East India Company had the government of India at this period. No white men could settle in that country without their permission, nor remain in it longer than they pleased. No ship could trade with it except one of their vessels. The Company was intensely hostile to missionaries, and to please the people of India they were ready to show the greatest respect for their gods. In 1801 a deputation from the government went in procession to the Kalee ghaut, the most opulent and popular shrine of the metropolis, and presented 5000 rupees to the idol in the name of the Company for the success which had attended the British arms.
A Baptist surgeon in India, named Thomas, had preached Christ occasionally to the natives, and in 1793 he was in England to secure some fellow-workers to go back with him to that dark land. Carey and he were appointed missionaries by the new society. They engaged passage on the "Earl of Oxford" to sail for the East, and they went on board to leave their native land; but Mr. Carey had no license to go to India from the Company, and both the missionaries were put ashore; Carey was greatly distressed by this unexpected blow, and felt as if hopes were permanently crushed, but soon the Danish East Indiaman, the "Kron Princessa Maria," was found, and in her they sailed June 13, 1793. The voyage was a prosperous one, and the missionaries landed in health. For a few years Mr. Carey had charge of an indigo-factory, from which he received L240 per annum; and at the same time he labored unobtrusively as a missionary. He could not stay in British India as an avowed missionary, and when, on their landing in Calcutta, Marshaman and Ward were ordered back to England, because the captain of their vessel returned them to the authorities as missionaries, Carey determined to make his abode at Serampore for the future, and to take Marshaman and Ward with him, where they could stay in defiance of the British East India Company. Serampore was a Danish settlement on the river Hoogly, 15 miles from Calcutta. The kinds of Denmark had sent out missionaries to convert the natives, and their government was in hearty sympathy with missions. Col. Bie, the representative of the Danish sovereign at Serampore, received Cary and his brethren with generous hospitality, and he protected them for years against the powerful governors of British India. The providence of God evidently kept this little spot under the rule of Denmark as a refuge for the missionaries until the pious people of Great Britian should abolish the heathenish law which excluded missionaries from India. Even the king of Denmark himself, as he learned from the governor of Serampore the character and worth of the missionaries, became their firm friend. In 1821, Frederick VI., king of Denmark, sent the missionaries a gold medal, as an expression of his appreciation of their labors, and endowed the college which they had founded with the rent of a house worth about $5000. And when in 1845 the successor of Frederick ceded the Serampore settlement to the British government, he had an article inserted in the treaty confirming the Danish charter of the Serampore Baptist College.
At Seramore the missionaries set up printing-presses and a large boarding-school, and in process of the time founded a college. They preached incessantly, and Carey particularly studied the languages of the country with a measure of success never equaled before or since by any other settle in India. He soon became the most learned man in the country. When Lord Wellesley founded the College of Fort Williams, In Calcutta, in 1801, to teach the language of Bengal to young Englishmen in the civil service of the Company in India, Dr. Carey was the only man in the East or in Great Britain qualified to teach the language correctly, and he received and accepted the appointment of professor in Fort Williams. In December 1829, an act, for which he had long labored, was passed by the Council in India, abolishing the practice of burning widows with the bodies of their dead husbands. It was determined to publish the English and Bengali copied of the act simultaneously, and Dr. Carey was selected to make the version for the people of Bengal. Every day cost the lives of two widows, and instead of going into the pulpit on the morning of the Lord's day, when he received the order from Henry Shakespeare, the secretary of the government, he commenced his translation, and completed it before night, and that glorious act of Lord William Bentinek, so dear to William Carey's heart, went forth to the nations of India in the polished Bengali of the great Baptist missionary.
Carey was the author of a Mahratta grammar, and of a Sanscrit grammar, extending over more than a thousand quarto pages, a Punjabi grammar, a Telinga grammar, and of a Mahratta dictionary, a Bengali dictionary, a Bhotanta dictionary, and a Sanscrit dictionary, the manuscript of which was burned before it was printed. He was also the author of several other secular works.
"The versions of the Sacred Scriptures, in the preparations of which he took an active and laborious part, include the Sanscrit, Hindu, Brijbbhassa, Mahratta, Bengali, Oriya, Telinga, Karnata, Maldivian, Guarjattee, Bulooshe, Pushtoo, Punjabi, Kashmeer, Assam, Burman, Pali, or Magudha, Tamul, Cingalese, Armenian, Malay, Hindostani, and Persian. In six of these tongues the whole Scriptures have been translated and circulated; the New Testament has appeared in 23 languages, besides various dialects in which smaller portions of the sacred text have been printed. In thirty years Carey and his brethren rendered the Word of God accessible to one-third of the world." And even this is not all: before Carey's death 212,000 copies of the Scriptures were issued from Serampore in 40 different languages, the tongue of 330,000,000 of the human family. Dr. Carey was the greatest tool-maker for missionaries that ever labored for God. His versions are used to-day by all denominations of Christians throughout India.
Most of his income was given away in Bible distribution. The missionaries at Serampore placed their gains in a common fund, from which they drew a scanty support; Marshman's successful school and Carey's professorship furnished a large surplus for the printing and circulation of the Scriptures. Carey, Marshman, and Ward gave during their stay in India nearly $400,000 to the spread of revealed light in that country cursed by miserable gods.
The first Hindoo convert baptized by Dr. Carey in India was the celebrated Krishna Pal. Dr. Carey founded churches and mission stations in many parts of India, and planted seed from which he gathered precious harvests, and from which his successors have reaped abundantly.
A visitor in 1821 describes Dr. Cary as short in stature, with white hair, and a countenance equally bland and benevolent in feature and expression.
He had three wives, one of who reluctantly accompanied him from his native land, and the second and third he married in India.
The last sickness of Dr. Carey found him with perfect peace of mind; he was ready and anxious to go to his blessed Saviour. Lady Bentinck, the wife of the governor, frequently visited him, and Bishop Wilson, of Calcutta, came and besought his blessing. He died June 9, 1834, in his seventy-third year.
Dr. Carey had great decision of character. After he had thoroughly weighed a subject his resolution about it was taken, and nothing could make him change the purpose he had formed. His perseverance to accomplish a proper end knew no bounds; he would labor through discouragements for twenty years or more to carry out a Christian purpose. When he had a clear conviction of duty he could not disobey his conscience; to keep it without offense was one of the great aims of his life. He never doubted the help of God in his own time to aid him in carrying out the plan of love when he had formed. He carefully husbanded every moment, and in that way he was able to perform more labor than any man in Europe or Asia in his day. He had as unselfish a heart as ever beat with love to Jesus.
In denouncing contemptuous sneers poured on Carey, Marshman, Ward, the celebrated Dr. Southey says, "These low-born, low-bred mechanics have done more to spread the knowledge of the Scriptures among the heathen than has been accomplished, or even attempted, by all the world beside." In the British House of Commons the celebrated William Wilberforce said of Dr. Carey, "He had the genius as well as the benevolence to devise the plan of a society for communication the blessings of Christian light to the natives of India. To qualify himself for this truly noble enterprise he had resolutely applied himself to the study of the learned languages; and after making considerable proficiency in them, applied himself to several of the Oriental tongues, and more especially to the Sanscript, in which his proficiency is acknowledged to be greater than that of Sir Williams Jones, or any other European." At his death resolutions expressive of admiration for the great benevolence and vast learning of Dr. Carey were passed by many societies in Europe and Asia. Nor is there any doubt that had Carey been a Catholic he would have been canonized immediately after death, and help up as worthy of more exalted veneration than St. Francis Xavier himself. The Protestant world, however, unites in honoring him as the father or modern missions.
source: Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia
Samuel Colgate, a son of William Colgate of precious memory, was born in the city of New York, March 22, 1822. He was baptized and became a member of the Tabernacle Baptist church in 1839. From that early age he has been an earnest worker in the cause of Christ. He succeeded to his father’s business and to his father’s benevolence and interest in the great enterprises of the Baptists. He is a member of the board of Madison University, and a liberal patron of that institution. It is well known that Samuel and James B Colgate erected the Colgate Academy edifice at Hamilton, an important adjunct to the university, at an expense only a little short of $60,000. Mr. Colgate has been for several years a member of the board of the American Tract Society. He is president of the board of the New York Education Society; he is also president of that famous association of New York, “The Society for the Suppression of vice.”
Colgate, William, was born in the parish of Hollingbourn, County of Kent, England, on the 25th of January 1783. He was the son of Robert and Mary (Bowles) Colgate.
Robert Colgate was a farmer by occupation, and a man of superior intelligence. He warmly sympathized with the American colonies in their struggle with the mother-country before and during the war of the Revolution. Hating despotism in every form, he hailed the triumph of the French revolutionists in their struggles to throw off the regal yoke. Political considerations constrained him to leave England for this country in March, 1798. The family settled on a farm in Hartford Co., Md.
William Colgate came to New York City in 1804. He there obtained employment as an apprentice to a soap-boiler, and learned the business. Young as he was, he showed even then that quickness of observation, which distinguished him in after-life. He closely watched the methods practiced by his employer, noting what seemed to him to be mismanagement, and learned useful lessons for his own guidance. At the close of his apprenticeship he was enabled, by correspondence with dealers in other cities, to establish himself in the business with some assurance of success. He followed it through life, and became one of the most prosperous men in the city of New York. This circumstance, together with his great wisdom in counsel, and his readiness to aid in all useful and practicable enterprises, gave him a wide influence in the community, and especially in the denomination of which he was from early life an active and honored member.
Of the occurrence which led to his connection with that denomination he gave the following account to the writer of this sketch. For some time after coming to New York, he attended worship with the congregation of the Rev. Dr. Mason, then one of the most eminent preachers of the Presbyterian Church. Writing to his father, an Arian Baptist, of his purpose to make a public profession of his Christian faith in connection with the Presbyterian Church, he stated the chief points of his religious belief, quoting a “thus saith the Lord” for each. He received a kind reply cordially approving of that course, and asking for a “thus saith the Lord” in proof of sprinkling as Christian baptism, and of the baptism of infants as an ordinance of Christ. Happening to read the letter in an evening company of Christian friends, members of the church he attended, he remarked on leaving them that he must go home and answer his father’s questions. ‘Poor young man,” exclaimed an intelligent Christian lady when he was gone, “he little knows what he is undertaking!” He found it so. And he found it equally hard to be convinced, by Dr. Mason’s reasoning, that something else than a “thus saith the Lord” would do just as well.
The Rev. William Parkinson, pastor of the First Baptist church in New York, baptized him in February, 1808. In 1811 he transferred his membership to the church in Oliver Street. In 1838 he became a member of the church worshiping in the Tabernacle, to the erection of which he had himself largely contributed.
He annually subscribed money to assist in defraying the current expenses of Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, afterward Madison University and Theological Seminary ; and he was among the most strenuous opposes of their removal to the city of Rochester. He was a regular contributor to the funds of the Baptist Missionary Union, and took upon himself the entire support of a foreign missionary. His other benefactions were numerous, but not such as admit of specification.
Our acquaintance with Deacon Colgate commenced in 1837, when he was about to resign his place on the Board of Managers of the American Bible Society. That board, following the example of the British and Foreign Bible Society, had refused to aid in printing translations of the Holy Scriptures by Baptist missionaries. He desired the writer to put in proper form his reasons for withdrawing from the board. In compliance with his request we prepared a full statement of the case, from the printed documents on both sides. The ground was taken that grievous injustice was done to Baptists by the refusal to aid in printing the translations of their missionaries; Baptists having freely contributed to the funds of the society, and given it their moral support as managers and life-directors, without any dictation to missionaries employed in translating by other organizations represented in the society.
The charge of denominational favoritism was fully proved against the society; and the Baptist members of the Board of Managers withdrew from it.
Baptists, finding that they could not expect fair treatment from this professedly undenominational body, retired from it, and formed the American and Foreign Bible Society, for the circulation of the Bible in our own and n foreign lands. Deacon Colgate served it as its treasurer. He was one of thirteen ministers and laymen who organized the American Bible Union in 1850, and was treasurer of that society till his death.
In 1811 he married Miss Mary Gilbert, daughter of Edward Gilbert; a happy union with a partner of congenial spirit.
In all domestic relations he was without fault. He made generous provision for his aged parents, for whom he purchased a pleasant home on a farm in a neighboring county, and ministered to their wants while they lived. His own home was made happy by his personal influence. Of a cheerful habit of mind, tempered by serious earnestness, he shared the playful just and the good-humored retort, and innocent gayety felt no restraint in his presence. He aimed to make home pleasant and the family circle the chief attraction for its members.
If he made any life-long mistake, it was in the endeavor to keep an even balance between the two elements of powers, knowledge and wealth. He resisted the permanent endowment of the Literary and Theological Institution at Hamilton, while willingly aiding in its support by annual contributions, and thus insuring mutual dependence. It was the error of his time; and his sons have since nobly retrieved it.
B. H. CARROLL
B. H. Carroll, pastor of the First Baptist church, Waco, Texas, and associate editor of the Texas Baptist, was born December, 1843, in Carroll Co., Miss.: has been in Texas about twenty years; served four years in the Confederate States army; was wounded in the battle of Mansfield, La., 1864; was converted in summer of 1865, and ordained in 1866. He was educated at Baylor University. Besides many published sermons and addresses, he is the author of two pamphlets, "Communion form a Bible Standpoint," and "The Modern Social Dance," which have attained a wide circulation both in and out of Texas. He has been for years vice-president of the Baptist General Association of Texas, and is the vice-president from Texas on the Domestic Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
He is one of the first preachers of his age in the Baptist ministry of the Southern States.
source: Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia
John Clarke, one of the most eminent men of his time, and a leading spirit among the founders of Rhode Island, was, according to the best authorities, born in Suffolk, England, Oct. 8, 1609. His father's name was Thomas, to whom belonged a family Bible which is still in existence and contains a family record. His mother, Rose Herrige, was of an ancient Suffolk family. The tradition that he was a native of Bedfordshire may have had its rise from the fact that there he married his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John Harges, Esq. To receive a legacy given her by her father out of the the manor of Wreslingworth, Bedfordshire, he signed a power of attorney, March 12, 1656, styling himself John Clarke, physician, of London. During his youth he received a careful training, and shared in the intellectual quickening of the period, though at what university he was graduated is not know. His religious and political convictions closely identified him with that large and growing body of men who bravely sought to limit kingly prerogative, and to throw around the personal liberty of subjects the protection of constitutional safeguards. He was indeed a Puritan of the Puritans. All efforts to reform abuses in either church or state proving abortive, he directed his footsteps toward the New World, arriving at Boston in the month of November, 1637.
A bitter disappointment, however, awaited him. The Antinomian controversy had just culminated, and one of the parties was being proscribed. Differences of opinion he expected to find on these Western shores, but he was surprised to find, as he tells us, that men "were not able to bear each with other in their different understandings and consciences as in these utmost parts of the world to live peaceably together." Since the government at Boston was as repressive and intolerant as that from which he had just fled, he proposed to a number of the citizens, for the sake of peace, to withdraw and establish themselves elsewhere, and consented to seek out a place. He had boldly resolved to plant a new colony, and upon a new basis; to incorporate into its foundation principles hitherto deemed impracticable, and even subversive of government, and indeed of all order.
The choice company he had gathered signed, March 7, 1638, the following compact: "We, whose names are underwritten, do here solemnly, in the presence of Jehovah, incorporate ourselves into a Body Politic, and as he shall help, will submit our persons, lives, and estates unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and to all those perfect and most absolute laws of his given us in his Holy Word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby." They found in the Word of God warrant for their civil government, and claimed for it divine authority. It was, nevertheless, "a democracy or popular government," and no one was "to be accounted a delinquent for doctrine." Liberty of conscience was most sacredly guarded. The magistrate was to punish only "breaches of the law of God that tend to civil disturbance." The largest personal freedom consistent with stability of government was provided for. There are good reasons for believing that to the hand of Mr. Clarke this initial form of government must be traced.
The place selected for the colony was an island in the Narragansett Bay, known by the Indians as Aquidneck, but subsequently named Rhode Island, which, Neal says, "is deservedly called the paradise of New England." The lands were obtained by purchase of the aborigines, the deed bearing date 24th March, 1638, the settlers "having bought them off to their full satisfaction." At first established at the north end of the island, the government was, the following April, transferred to the south end, which received the name of Newport. When in 1647 the island was united, under the charter of 1643, in a confederacy with the other towns included in what afterwards became the State of Rhode Island, the government of the united towns was framed by some one on the island. It is generally supposed, and for good reasons, that Mr. Clarke was the author of the government framed, both of the code of laws and of the means of enforcing it. "From the islanders," says Gov. Arnold in his history, "had emanated the code of law, and to them it was entrusted to perfect the means of enforcing the code." The code, which has received from most competent judges the highest praise, concludes with these words:
"And otherwise than thus what is herein forbidden, all men may walk as their consciences persuade them, every one in the name of his God. And let the saints of the Most High walk in this colony without molestation, in the name of Jehovah, their God, for ever and ever."
While constantly busy with the affairs of state, Mr. Clarke did not neglect the higher claims of religion. He is spoken of by early writers as the religious teacher of the people, and as such from the beginning. A church was gathered in 1638, probably early in the year, of which Mr. Clarke became pastor of teaching elder. He is mentioned (1638) as "preacher to those of the island," as "their minister," as "elder of the church there." Mr. Lechford writes in 1640, after having made a tour through New England, that "at the island ...there is a church where one Master Clarke is pastor." On his return to England, he adds, when revising his manuscript for the press, that he heard that this church is dissolved. A report had doubtless reached him on the controversy which had arisen on the island respecting the authority of the Bible and the existence upon earth of a visible church, when some became Seekers and afterwards Quakers.
Missionary tours were made in various directions, an numbers were added to the church from sections quite remote, as from Rehoboth, Hingham, Weymouth. Some of them continued to live at a distance. One of these was William Witter, whose home was in Lynn. Becoming infirm he was visited by his pastor, Mr. Clarke, in 1651, who reached his house the 19th of July, accompanied by Obadiah Holmes and John Crandall, elders in the church. The three visitors were summarily arrested, and without there being produced "either accuser, witness, jury, law of God, or man," were sentenced. They were each to pay a fine, "or else to be well whipped." Some one unknown to him paid, it is said, Mr. Clarke's fine of twenty pounds. At any rate he was, after a detention reaching into the middle of August, set free as summarily as he had been apprehended. He had hoped for the sake of the truth that there might be a public disputation, his last communication on the subject to the governor and his advisers being dated from prison, 14th August. Though disappointed in this hope, the results of the visit were far-reaching and most gratifying. Many eyes were opened to the truth, and "divers were put upon a way of inquiry."
Meanwhile the colony was in peril, its government in jeopardy, and its very life threatened. On his return from Lynn he was importuned to go to England and represent the infant colony at the English court, and, complying with the request, set said in November, 1651. The following year, 1652, his famous word in defense of liberty of conscience, entitle "Ill News from New England," etc., was published in London. The immediate object of his visit--the revocation of Gov. Coddington's commission--having been attained, he continued to reside abroad to watch over the imperiled interests of the unique State, and succeeded not only in parrying the attacks of enemies, but in gaining for it a substantial advantage over its older and more powerful rivals. The boundaries of the State were even enlarged.
The charter obtained in 1663 guaranteed to the people privileges unparalleled in the history of the world. It is an evidence of his skill in diplomacy that he could obtain from King Charles, against the earnest prayers of the older colonies, a charter that declared "that no person within the said colony, at any time hereafter, shall be anywise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question for any differences of opinion or matters of religion." In the second of two addresses presented to the king he said respecting his colony, that it desires "to be permitted to hold forth in a lively experiment that a flourishing civil state may stand, yea, and best be maintained, and that among English spirits, with a full liberty of religious concernments." To these labors in England his colony was deeply indebted, owed indeed is existence. Yet they have never been duly appreciated, nor have the difficulties environing his way been sufficiently considered. The consummate fruit of his toils--the securing of the great charter-- has even been ascribed to another, as indeed have also the results of other of his labors. The charter was received by the colony with public demonstrations of great joy.
His return home in July, 1664, after an absence of more than twelve years, was hailed with delight. He was immediately elected to the General Assembly, and re-elected year by year until 1669, when he became deputy-governor, and again in 1671. During these years he performed much important public service; was in 1664 the chief commissioner for determining the western boundary of the State, and the same year chairman of a committee to codify the laws; two years later he was appointed along "to compose all the laws into a good method and order, leaving out what may be superfluous, and adding what may appear unto him necessary." Although he retired from public life in 1672, his counsels were still sought in emergencies. Only six days before his death he was summoned to attend a meeting of the General Assembly, which desired "to have the advice and concurrence of the most judicious inhabitants in the troublous times and straits into which the colony has been brought." He died suddenly, April 20, 1676, leaving most of his property in the hands of trustees for religious and educational purposes. His last act was in harmony with one of the first on the colony's records, which was to establish a free school, said to have been the first in America, if not in the world.
He was a man of commanding ability, and from first to last planned wisely and well for his colony. His endowments of both mind and heart were of a very high order. He was "an advanced student of Hebrew and Greek." Arnold says, "He was a ripe scholar, learned in the practice of two professions, besides having had large experience in diplomatic and political life...With all his public pursuits, he continued the practice of his original profession as a physician, and also retained the pastoral charge of his church."
He left a confession of his faith, from which it appears that he was strongly Calvinistic in doctrine. His views of Christian doctrine have been pronounced "so clear and Scriptural that they might stand as the confession of faith of Baptists to-day, after more than two centuries of experience and investigation." He has, and perhaps not inaptly, been called the "Father of American Baptists." And his, it has been claimed, "is the glory of first showing in an actual government that the best safeguards of personal rights is Christian law." Allen (Bio. Dict.) says,
"He possessed the singular honor of contributing much towards establishing the first government upon the earth which gave equal liberty, civil and religious, to all men living under it." Backus: "He was a principal procurer of Rhode Island for sufferers and exiles." Bancroft: "Never did a young commonwealth possess a more faithful friend." Palfrey, although ungenerous unjust in his judgments upon Rhode Island affairs and Rhode Island men, and especially toward Mr. Clarke, is constrained to admit that he "had some claim to be called the father of Rhode Island;" and that "for many years before his death he had been the most important citizen of his colony." Arnold says he was "one of the ablest men of the seventeenth century." "His character and talents appear more exalted the more closely they are examined."
See, for fuller details, besides general histories, especially Backus's "History of the Baptists," second edition, a sketch of his life and character by Rev. C. E. Barrows, in the Baptist Quarterly for 1872 (Vol. vi. pp. 481-502); for a vigorous discussion of his place in history, articles in the same periodical for 1876 (Vol. x. pp. 181-204, 257-281), by Prof. J. C. C. Clarke, under the title of "The Pioneer Baptist Statesman"; for a thorough review of the visit to Lynn and the adverse criticisms thereon, a pamphlet of 39 pages, by H. M. King, D. D., published in 1880. A full memoir of Mr. Clarke's life and times is still a desideratum.
source: Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia
Rev. Elijah Craig, an eminent pioneer preacher of Virginia and Kentucky, and brother of the famous Lewis Craig, was born in Orange Co., Va., about the year 1743. He was awakened to a knowledge of his lost estate under the preaching of the renowned David Thomas in 1764. Next year he was encouraged by Samuel Harris to hold meetings among his neighbors. This he did, using his tobacco-barn for a meeting-house. Many were converted.
n 1766, Mr. Craig went to North Carolina, to get James Read to come and baptize him and others. He was ordained in May, 1771, at which time he became pastor of Blue Run church. Some time after this he was imprisoned for preaching the gospel. In jail he lived on rye bread and water, and preached to the people through the prison bars. he remained in Culpepper jail one month. After this "he was honored with a term in Orange jail." He became one of the most useful and popular preachers in Virginia. He was several times sent as a delegate from the General Association to the Virginia Legislature, to aid in securing religious liberty. In 1786 he removed to Scott Co., Ky.
After this he labored but little in the ministry. Being a good business man, he soon amassed a fortune, and was of great value to the new country. He established the first school in which the classics were taught, built the first rope-walk, the first fulling-mill, and the first paper-mill that existed in Kentucky. He died in 1808.
source: Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia
Distinguished Baptist preacher of Virginia and Kentucky, was born in Orange Co., Va., about the year 1737. He was first awakened by the preaching of Samuel Harris, about the year 1765. A great pressure of guilt induced him to follow the preacher from one meeting to another, and after the sermon he would rise in tears and assert that he was a justly condemned sinner, and unless he was born again he could not be saved. His ministry thus began before he had hope of conversion, and after conversion he continued preaching a considerable time before being baptized; many were led to Christ under his labors. Soon after his conversion and before his baptism (there being no ordained ministers near to baptize him) he was indicted for "preaching the gospel contrary to law". The celebrated John Waller was one of the jurors in the case. the pious and prudent deportment of Mr. Craig during the trial was blessed to the conviction and conversion of Mr. Waller.
The exact period of Mr. Craig's baptism is not known. He continued preaching with great zeal until the 4th of June, 1768, when being engaged in public worship, he and John Waller and James Childs were seized by the sheriff and brought before three magistrates in the meeting-house yard, who held them to bail in the sum of 1000 pounds to appear before court the next day. They were required by the court to give security not to preach in the county withini twelve months. This thewy refused to do, and were committed to jail. As they passed through the streets of Fredericksburg, from the court house to the jail, they sang the hymn beginning, "Broad is the road that leads to death..."
During his confinement Mr. Craig preached to the prison bars to large crowds. He remained in jail a month and was then released. He immediately hastened to Williamsburg, and soon secured the liberation of his companions. Their imprisonment seemed only to inflame their zeal, and they went everywhere preaching the Word. Mr. Craig was ordained and became pastor of Upper Spottsylvania church in November, 1770. But this did not prevent his preaching in the surrounding counties. In 1771 he was again arrested and imprisoned for three months in Caroline County. He continued preaching with great zeal and success until 1781, when he and a majority of his church moved to Kentucky. He located on Gilbert Creek, in what is now Garrard County, early in December. The next year he gathered Forks of Dix River in the same county. In 1783 he and most of Gilbert's creek church moved to the north side of Kentucky River and organized South Elkhorn church, in Fayette county. Here he remained about nine years, laboring zealously in all the surrounding country.
A number of churches were founded, and Elkhorn Association was formed Oct.1 1785. About 1792 he moved to Bracken Co., Ky. Here he formed several churches, and "became in a manner the father of Bracken Association." About the year 1828, "he died suddenly, of which he was forewarned, saying, 'I am going to such a house to die,' and with solemn joy went on to the place, and with little pain left the world."
Henry Dunster was born in England probably in 1612. When about twelve years of age his attention was first cdalled to the religion of Jesus. He was educated at the University of Cambridge, and he had among his fellow-students Ralph Cudworth, Jeremy Taylor, and John Milton. He was no doubt an Episcopal minister at first, and then a pious Puritan. He arrived in Boston in 1640.
Four years previous to the coming of Dunster the General Court had appropriated four hundred pounds to establish a college a Cambridge. Mr. Dunster became president of this institution on the 27th of August 1640.
He was distinguished for his scholarly attainments in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. In his day he was one of the greatest masters of the Oriental languages throughout the colonies, and Quincy, in his “History of Harvard University,” says, “Among the early friends of the college none deserves more distinct notice than Henry Dunster. He united in himself the character of both patron and president; for, poor as he was, he contributed at a time of the utmost need one hundred acres of land towards its support, besides rendering it for a succession of years a series of official services well directed, unwearied, and altogether inestimable.
The charter of 1642 was probably, and that of 1650 was avowedly, obtained on his petition. By solicitations among his friends and by personal sacrifices he built the president’s house. He was instant in season and out of season with the
General Court for the relief of the college in its extreme want.” But Dunster was powerfully affected by the imprisonment of Messrs. Clarke, Holmes, and Crandal at Boston for worshiping God as Baptists, and like a Christian man, despising financial losses and stripes and imprisonment, he boldly preached against infant sprinkling in the church at Cambridge, to the great indignation of its friends there and elsewhere. This sealed his career as president of Harvard. His years of service, marked by a success that created astonishment and gratitude, were quickly forgotten when, as Cotton Mather said, “he fell into the briers of anti-pedobaptism.”
Quincy says, “Indicted by the grand jury for disturbing the ordinance of infant baptism in the Cambridge church, sentenced to a public admonition, and laid under bonds for good behavior, Dunster’s martyrdom was consummated by being compelled to resign his office of president.” “He found the seminary a school, it rose under his auspices to the dignity of a college. No man ever questioned his talents, learning, exemplary fidelity, and usefulness.” Dunster deserves all this from the historian of Harvard. He was noble a servant as ever followed Christ in times when truth demanded painful sacrifices. It is singular that such a man should become a Baptist. Brought up under other influences, having everything earthly to lose and nothing to gain, a profound scholar capable of weighing the merits of the controversy, nothing but the force of truth can account for his adoption of our sentiments. Like Alexander Carson, Adoniram Judson, Baptist W. Noel, and many others of culture and intellect, a tender conscience and the power of truth alone can account for the change. He died Feb. 27, 1659, and entered into that world where both the wicked and the godly cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.
Richard Furman was born in New York in 1755.
He father removed to South Carolina while
his son was an infant. Before he could hold
the family Bible he would lay it on a stool
and ask to be taught to read it, and as soon
as he acquired the art, reading it was his
chief delight. His education was almost
entirely at home. When about seven years old
he memorized, merely by reading, most of the
First Book of teh "Iliad," which he retained
perfectly in middle life. In a short period
at school having learned the rudiments of
Latin grammar, he became quite a proficient
in that language, and acquired a respectable
knowledge of Greek and Hebrew.
He was baptized in his sixteenth year, and at once he began the work of instructing his father's servants. He also took an active part in what would now be called a Bible-class, and presently began to speak more publicly of the way of life. Crowds flocked to hear the boy preacher, and his precocious intellect and profound piety produced a deep impression on those who heard him. In his nineteenth year he was ordained as pastor of the High Hills church. The sheriff once refused to allow him to preach in the court-house at Camden because he was not a minister of the Established (Episcopal) Church. Having preached in the open air, the court-house was ever after freely offered him. About the beginning of the Revolution a meeting of ministers and laymen of different denominations met at High Hills to concert measures to remove the odious discrimination restricting all offices to members of the Establishment. Here as everywhere the Baptists have led in the contest for religious freedom. So conspicuous was Dr. Furman from the commencement of the war, that Lord Cornwallis offered a large reward for his apprehension. He spent a part of the time of the war in Virginia, where Patrick Henry and family were regular attendants on his ministry. Mr. Henry presented him with a work on rhetoric and Ward's "Oratory," which are heir-looms and family. After the war he returned to his church at High Hills. He was one of the most active and influential patriots throughout the Revolutionary war.
In 1787 he became pastor of the First church in Charleston. He found it enfeebled by the war. He left it, after thirty-seven years, strong and united. Never was minister more loved and venerated, not merely by his church, but by the whole city.
He was unanimously elected the first president of the Triennial Convention in 1814. At this meeting he earnestly advocated the formations of an institution at Washington to educate young men for the ministry. At this time he gave a powerful impulse to the convictions from which have sprung Furman University, in South Carolina, Mercer, in Georgia, Hamilton, in New York, and finally the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He was a member of the convention that formed the first constitution of South Carolina, and he strongly opposed the provision excluding ministers from certain offices. He was also president of the Baptist State Convention for several years.
He closed his long and eminently useful life in August, 1825. Probably no minister of any denomination has ever exerted a wider, more varied, or more beneficent influences.
Col. Samuel Harriss was among the most effective preachers that ever proclaimed the glad tidings in this country. He was born Jan. 12, 1724, in Hanover Co., Va. He was at one time church-warden, sheriff, justice of the peace, colonel of the militia, and captain of the Mayo Fort. His position was respectable, and his genial disposition made him exceedingly popular. His education had been liberal. He first became anxious about his soul in his thirty-fourth year. On one of his journeys to visit the fort officially he called at a small house, where he learned there was to be Baptist preaching; the ministers were Joseph and WIlliam Murphy. He seated himself behind a loom to hide his uniform. The ey of God, however, was upon him, and his heart was very deeply affected; but some time afterwards the Lord revealed his love to him in such fullness that, in an ecstasy of joy, he exclaimed, "Glory! glory! glory!" He was baptized by Rev. Danile Marhsall in 1758, it is believed. He forthwith, like converted Paul, began to preach Jesus. At first his labors were restricted to some neighboring counties of Viriginia and North Carolina; but in process of time he preached throughout all Virginia and many parts of North Carolina. He was not ordained for years after he had been preaching. This event occurred in 1769; then he administered the ordinances. The first candidate he baptized was James Ireland, a much persecuted and very useful Baptist minister in Virginia. Mr. Harriss was the best-known man in his native colony, and it is doubtful if Patrick Henry could control a vast assemblage by a power superior to that of Samuel Harriss. His ministry was attended by conversions in very large numbers; churches sprang up on the line of his missionary travels; he was truly the apostle of Virginia. Not a few of his spiritual children became preachers after the order of Mr. Harriss, and the aristocratic Episcopalian colony was agitated from one end to the other by these Baptist innovators.
Mr. Harriss feared nothing; legal prosecutions and private persecutions had no effect upon him. He was the owner of a respectable estate, and when he was converted he devoted the greater part of it to religious objects. He had been erecting a new and capacious residence before the Savioiur called him, and when it was "covered in" he made it a meeting-house, and lived in his former confined abode. During the Revolutionary war, when salt was scarce, he kept two wagons running to Petersburg to bring it up for his neighbors.
When the Baptists in Virginia mistakenly supposed, in 1774, that the apostolic office still existed, Mr. Harriss was elected an apostle, but he held this honor for only a few months. At all meetings of delegates of the churches he was the presiding officer. Virginia Baptists loved to honor him, and under God, he was chiefly instrumental in opening the prison-doors of the Old Dominion for the persecuted, and in sweeping away the foul ties uniting church and state.
He made a great mistake in the earlier part of his Christian life in denouncing the acceptance by ministers of any compensation for preaching the Word. This unscriptural and unjust doctrine nearly ruined some of God's faithful shepherds and their families; but Col. Harriss was led to see his error and renounce it. Take him "all together," he was a glorious man of God, a Virginia Whitefield, for which we gratefully bless our divine Redeemer. He died in the year 1795.
source: Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia
Obadiah Holmes was born at Preston, Lancashire, England, about 1606, and came to this country about 1639. He resided for a while in Salem, Massachusetts but removed to Rehobeth, Massachusetts where he became a Baptist, and united with the church in Newport, Rhode Island.
In the month of July, 1651, in company with Dr. John Clarke and Mr. Crandall, he made a visit to William Witter, A Baptist, who resided at Lynn, Massachusetts. The day after their arrival being the Sabbath, they arranged to have a religious service at Witter's home. While Dr. Clarke preached, two constables presented to him the following warrant:
"By virtue hereof, you are required to go to the house of William Witter, and to search from house to house for certain erroneous person, being strangers and them to apprehend, and in safe custody to keep, and to-morrow morning at eight o'clock to bring before me. Robert Bridges."
The three "erroneous persons, being strangers," were at once arrested and carried, first to "the ale-house or ordinary," and then forced to attend the meeting of the day. The next morning they were taken before Mr. Bridges, who sent them to prison at Boston. Having remained a fortnight there, they were brought before the Court Of Assistants for trial, which sentenced Dr. Clarke to pay a fine of twenty pounds, Mr. Holmes thirty pounds, and Mr. Crandall five pounds, and in default of payment they were to be publicly whipped.
Unknown to Mr. Clarke some one paid his fine, and Mr. Crandall was released on promise that he would appear at the next court. Mr. Holmes was kept in prison until September, when, his fine not having been paid, he was brought out and publicly whipped. Such was the charity of the New England Congregationalists of that day.
Mr. Holmes soon after removed to Newport. In 1652 he was ordained to preach the gospel, and took Dr. Clarke's place as pastor of the Baptist church in Newport. He died in 1682, his sufferings having made a lasting effect upon the lives on many.
**INFORMATION GLEANED FROM CATHCART'S BAPTIST ENCYCLOPEDIA.
Balthasar Hubmaier, 1481-1528
Born in Fiedburg, Bavaria. Earned his master's degree from the University of Friedburg in 1511. Around 1520 he went to pastor a church in Waldshut, just over into Austria from Switzerland. In 1523, Hubmaier went to Zurich and began a close relationship to Zwingli:
"[Zwingli] was in the beginning of his career as a reformer, and inclined to go to the full lengths demanded by his principle of making the Scriptures the sole rule of faith and practice. Hubmaier clearly perceived that this necessitated the abandonment of infant baptism, AND ZWINGLI ASSENTED. In his writings and sermons of this period Zwingli did not hesitate to make the same avowal. It was not, however--for two years thereafter Hubmaier acted on that conclusion, and by that time Zwingli had begun to draw back from it altogether." --Henry Vedder, A Brief History of the Baptists, Judson Press, P.151.
Hubmaier was expelled from Waldshut in December of 1524 after he submitted his eighteen articles of faith and began preaching and reading the Bible in native German to his congregation. He had been baptized by William Rueblin and the Austrian authorities demanded Hubmaier for trial. He fled to Zurich Switzerland for protection, but got none from Zwingli. It seems that Hubmaier's book, Concerning the Christian Baptism of Believers, was not well received by Zwingli or Zurich. Hubmaier, Grebel, Manz, and Blaurock were all imprisoned. Under extreme torture, he recanted re-baptism. But upon his release he publicly repudiated his weak confession.
He went to Moravia to preach the Gospel. Under his leadership, the number of ana-Baptists (they called themselves Brethren or Disciples) grew to 12,000.
In September of 1527, Hubmaier and his wife were deported to Vienna, Austria to be tried for heresy. On March 10, 1528 Hubmaier was publicly strangled, his body burned and the ashes thrown into the waters of the Danube. Three days later, his devoted wife was executed by drowning under those same waters.
Lane, Rev. Dutton, was born Nov. 12, 1732, near Baltimore, Md. He was baptized by Shubal Stearns in 1758, and ordained to the ministry in October, 1764. He had a vigorous constitution, a powerful voice, and a heart on fire with the love of Jesus, and he was greatly blessed by his master. In the Dare River Church, Va., of which he was pastor, and for many miles around, the fruits of his ministry were visible to the whole community. His father, impelled by hatred to his religious fervor, tried to kill him, but “he himself was slain by the sword of the Spirit, from which he soon after revived with the hope of eternal life,” and was baptized by his son.
Mr. Lane continued in the ministry till death, but the latter part of his life was marred by certain strange opinions which he adopted.
Rev. James Ireland was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1748. He was brought up in the Presbyterian Church of his fathers. His education and talents were respectable. He came to American after reaching manhood, with pleasing manners, and without Christ in his heart. He was something of a poet, and in revising one of his religious pieces he was deeply convicted of guilt, from which faith in a suffering Saviour delivered him. He became eminent as a preacher soon after his baptism; his learning and the tenderness of his manner produced a powerful impression upon his hearers, and the Spirit's blessing upon the truth he proclaimed made him a great enemy of Satan's empire. He formed several Baptist churches during his ministry, which extended over forty years, and his influence in favor of truth was very great.
This led the Episcopal clergy of Virginia to stir up social and legal persecutions against him. He was thrust into jail in Culpeper for preaching without the authority of law; abuse was heaped upon him on his way to prison; within its walls an attempt was made to blow him up with gunpowder, and on its failure an effort was put forth to suffocate him by burning brimstone at the door and window of his jail. It was also planned to poison him. [ed. note: one of his children died as a result of the poisoning].
His persecutions permanently injured his health; two accidents completed the work began by State church tyranny, and Mr. Ireland entered his rest May 5, 1806.
source: Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia
Rev. John Leland was born in Grafton, Mass., May 14, 1754. at the age of eighteen he passed through an experience not unlike that of John Bunyan, coming out gradually into the liberty of the gospel. Within a month after his conversion, in June, 1774, he made his first attempt at public speaking. Having connected himself with the church in Mount Poney, Culpeper Co., V., he was ordained by the choice of the church. He preached from place to place, everywhere proclaiming "the unsearchable riches of Christ." Wonderful revivals everywhere followed the labors of Mr. Leland in Virgina. Hundreds came under the power of converting grace, and professed their faith in Christ. The summary of his blaors during the fifteen years of his ministry in Virginia is thus recorded,-- 3009 sermons preached, 700 persons baptized, and two large churches formed, one of 300 members, and another of 200.
Having finished the work which he thought his Master had given him to do in Virginia, Mr. Leland returned to his native State, and made his home for the most of the remainder of his life in Chesire, Mass. Here, and in the region about, the same power and the same success followed his ministry. He reports the whole number of persons whome he had baptized down to 1821 as 1352. "Some of them," he says, "have been men of wealth and rank, and ladies of quality, but the chief part have been in the middle and lower grades of life. Ten or twelve of them have engaged to preach." Missionary tours were made in almost every direction, and multitudes crowded to hear him. The story of the "mammoth cheese" sent by the people of Cheshire to President Jefferson belongs to this period. He was the bearer of the gift to Washington. "Mr. Jefferson," remarks Rev. J. T. Smith, "Treated taking him with much deference, among other things taking him into the Senate chamber." Year after year he went on doing that special work to which he believed the Lord had called him. "From seventy to beyond eighty years of age he probably averaged more sermons a week than most settled pastors." And it is interesting to have the following recorded of him by one who could speak intelligently about him, "The large attendance on his preaching was as creditable to the hearers as to the preacher. A sensational preacher he was not, nor a mere bundle of eccentricities. The discriminating and thoughtful listened to him with the most interest and attention." He was evidently "a born preacher." The life of a settled pastor would have been irksome to him. He wanted freedom from all restraint, and to do his own work at his own time and in his own way. In politices he was a Democrat of the Jeffersonian school, a hater of all oppression, whether civil or ecclesiastical. His warmest sympathies went out to his Baptist brethren in their efforts to secure a complete divorce of the Church from the State. Everywhere he pleaded with all the energy of his soul for civil and religious liberty, and he had the satisfaction of seeing it at last come out of the conflict victorious over all foes. Among the class of ministers whom God raised up during the last century to do the special work with it was given the Baptist denomination to perform, John Leland occupies a conspicuous place. We doubt if his equal will ever be see again. Mr. Leland Died Jan. 14, 1841.
source: Cathcart's Baptist Encyclopedia
Manning, James, D. D,-So identified was the life of James Manning with Brown University that the history of the earlier years of that institution is also the history of his life. He was its first president, we might almost say, its founder, and he ceased not from laboring for it till the hand of death interposed. The twenty-six years of his connection with the college were years calling forth the highest administrative and financial ability, the utmost prudence and indomitable perseverance; years always crucial to a young and financially feeble institution, but doubly so by the poverty consequent on the war of the revolution. How ably he accomplished the arduous task that befell him the high position that Brown University occupies among the colleges of our country sufficiently attests.
James Manning was the son of Isaac and Catherine Manning, and was born in Elizabethtown, N. J., Oct. 22, 1738. About the age of eighteen he went to Hopewell, N. J., to prepare for college, under the instruction of the Rev. Isaac Eaton. In 1758 he entered the college of New Jersey, where he graduated four years later with the highest honors of his class. It was at the beginning of his college course that he made a public profession of his faith, and shortly after his graduation he entered the ministry. His marriage to Margaret Stites occurred in 1763, and a year was spent by him in traveling extensively through the country.
There was a strong feeling among the Baptists of their need of an educated ministry, and the Philadelphia Association, which met in 1762, resolved to attempt the establishment of a denominational college in Rhode Island, and to Mr. Manning was entrusted the carrying out of this object. A charter was obtained from the General Assembly in 1764, authorizing the establishment of the College of Rode Island.
Mr. Manning then removed to the town of Warren, about ten miles from Providence, where he established a grammar-school, which soon became a flourishing institution. It was removed to Providence in 1770, and is now in existence as the University Grammar-School. A church was organized in Warren the same year,-1764,-and Mr. Manning was called to the pastorate. In 1765 he was formally appointed “President of the College of Rhode Island, and Professor of Languages, and other branches of learning, with full power to act in these capacities at Warren in 1766 with one student. Three others, however, joined within a few days, and at the first commencement-1769-a class of seven was graduated.
In 1767 was formed the Warren Association, comprising at first but four churches, but it soon extended over New England. Mr. Manning was a prominent and useful member of this body, several times being chosen moderator. The Association was of much benefit to the college, giving it material aid and strength.
It was decided in 1770 that the time had come for the erection of a college building, and Providence was selected for the site, the town and county subscribing 4200 lbs. As an inducement thereto. The officers and under-graduates accordingly removed from Warren to Providence, and during the course of the year University Hall was erected. Mr. Manning having resigned the pastorate of the Warren church, and the pastor of the First Baptist church of Providence being desirous of retiring from the duties of his office, that church invited President Manning to preach for them, and in 1771 called him to be their pastor. His power in the pulpit was great, and during his pastorate the church was much blessed. Many additions were made to its membership, and several revivals were experienced, that of 1774 resulting in 104 conversions. The increased prosperity and membership of the church under Mr. Manning’s charge made necessary the erection of a new house of worship. With the view also of holding there the commencement exercises of the college, the church was designed and made to be the largest and finest church edifice of the denomination in the colonies.
President Manning continued his arduous and multifarious duties as president, professor, and pastor till the breaking out of the war of the Revolution. The college had been growing in reputation and usefulness, and was fast attaining that high position and influence it now occupies. But the capture of the town by the British forces necessitated the closing of the college, the building being occupied by them as barracks. After their departure it was used as a hospital by the American and French forces, and not till 1782 was the course of instruction permanently resumed. Meanwhile, President Manning occupied himself with his pastoral labors, and efforts for the amelioration of the distress so prevalent during that period.
In 1786, President Manning was chosen by the General Assembly to represent Rhode Island in the Confederation of the States. He was induced to accept the position in the hope of gaining from Congress an appropriation for the use made of the college by the allied forces during the struggle for independence. He was granted leave of absence by the college and church from March until September, when he returned and resumed his duties.
The articles of the Confederation of the States proving inadequate for the purpose designed, a union upon a new basis was proposed. Our national Constitution, framed at Philadelphia in 1787, was adopted by a few of the States with serious opposition, but in some of them, and especially in New England, there was great danger of its final rejection. Dr. Manning, though holding no political office, was deeply interested in the result, believing that upon the adoption of the Constitution the future prosperity of the country depended. He attended the debates on the measure in Boston, and the favorable action of Rhode Island was in a large degree due to his counsels and influence.
Dr. Manning had long felt that his collegiate duties were too great to allow him to give the care his church required, and in 1791 he requested the appointment of a successor. In April of this year he preached his farewell sermon. He had the year previous expressed a desire to be relieved from his collegiate duties, but before the request had been complied with he was stricken with apoplexy, and his useful life was ended July 29, 1791, in the fifty-third year of his age.
Mercer was the most distinguished and influential Baptist minister ever reared in the State of Georgia; and it is doubtful if any one, under the providence of God, ever exerted a more beneficial influence among the Baptists of Georgia, or as an instrument in the divine hands ever accomplished more beneficial results for the denomination in the State. "How is Mr. Mercer?" asked Dr. Staughton of a gentleman from Georgia. "He is well," was the answer. "He exerts a great influence in your State," continued Dr. Staughton. "His word is law," the other replied. “Iam sure,” said the doctor in return, “it is gospel.”
Jesse, the son of Silas Mercer, was born in Halifax Co., North Carolina, Dec. 16, 1769. His father removed to Georgia about 1775, and settled in Wilkes County, but fled to North Carolina at the outbreak of the revolution, and did not return until after the war, when Jesse was about fourteen years old. From that time, until his death, on the 6th of September 1841, Jesse Mercer resided in Georgia. His youthful character was free from stain; not even a profane word was ever used by him, nor was he ever guilty of any deviation from strict truthfullness. He was a sober, staid, discreet youth; even-tempered in his conduct, never dejected or morose. He had great command of his passions, and was never known through life to have a personal quarrel with any one. He as a pattern of filial obedience, submitting cheerfuly to every command of his parents. He was converted at fifteen, was baptized in his eighteenth year, and soon after began to preach. On the 21st of January 1788, in his nineteenth year, he was married to Miss Sabrina Chivers; and before he was twenty years of age he was ordained, on the 7th of November, 1789, by Silas Mercer and Sanders Walker. In succession he then took charge of the churches at Hutton’s Fork, Indian Creek, in Oglethorpe County, Sardis, Phillip’s Mill, Powelton, Whatley’s Mill (now Bethesda), Eatonton, and Washington, his pastoral services extending over a period of fifty years. He by no means confined himself to the churches of his charge, however, but, traveling far and near, he preached the gospel everywhere, with a power never surpassed in the State, and with a pathos and unction productive of the best results.
As a preacher-Long will he be held in honorable estimation as a truly able, pious, instructive and powerful minister of the gospel. Said Dr. Basil Manly, Sr., of him, “In happy moments of preaching he would arouse and enchain the attention of reflecting men beyond any minister I have ever heard. At such times his views were vast, profound, original, striking, and absorbing in the highest degree; while his language, though simple, was so terse and pithy, so pruned, consolidated, and suited to become the vehicle of the dense mass of his thoughts, that it required no ordinary effort of a well-trained mind to take in all that he said.” His voice was neither very strong nor distinguished for its compass or melody; his gesticulations were rather clumsy, and the fastidious could find fault with his manner; but, not withstanding all, his appearance in the pulpit was far from being uninteresting.
The fair and comely baldness of his head, his venerable mien, his portly frame, his countenance clothed with meekness, benevolence, intelligence, and devotion, rendered him an object of peculiar interest and respect wherever he stood forth.
“To negotiate between God and man,
As God’s ambassador, the grand concerns,
Of judgment and of mercy.”
Whilst he seemed untrammeled by the laws of criticism, he violated not the principles of true taste. His sermons were for the most part doctrinal, yet always tending to practical results. His language had a noble bearing, which made it a suitable vehicle for his noble thoughts. The accurate principles of sound logic ran through his adresses, though its forms were not at all times visible. Ungodly men of cultivated minds listened to his sermons as to an intellectual treat. Religious men enjoyed them as affording spiritual feast. To the graces of oratory Mr. Mercer made no pretensions, but there was an unction from the Holy One, that breathed from his spirit and beamed from his sweet and heavenly eye, which enchained and animated the hearer, and thus more than supplied the absence of oratorical grace. His words did not often flow down upon the people in a rushing torrent, but rather fell like a refreshing shower. No useless verbiage encumbered his topics. Some preachers are occasionally great because, like a small stream, with a shallow and narrow channel, swollen by a sudden shower, they sometimes dash and roar; but Mr. Mercer’s preaching was like a stream whose channel is wide and deep: it embraced a large scope of religious instruction, exhibited a great variety and richness, and flowed onwards with a mighty and increasing volume.
The cross of Christ was the fixed, luminous center of his preaching. He delighted in contemplating the gospel as a scheme which honored God and abased the creature. Upon the majesty of the law; the exceeding sinfulness of sin; the amazing obligations of the sinner, and his total inability to rescue himself from his ruined and guilty state; and upon the infinite virtue of the atonement, and the uncontrolled sovereignty of God, and the glorious efficiency of divine grace, he was truly great. Never was a minister more immovably rooted in the respect, confidence, and affection of his people than was Mr. Mercer, while to all classes of the community he was an object of admiration, reverence and love.
About 1818 he removed from Greene County to Powelton, where he resided until the end of 1826 or beginning of 1827, when he removed to Washington, which remained his home until death. Of the church at the former place he was pastor for twenty-eight years, and of the church at the latter he was pastor for about seventeen years; but after removing to Washington he resigned the charge of most of the other churches.
Connection with the index.-In the year 1833, the Christian Index, published by Dr. Wm. T. Brantly, Sr.,
At Philadelphia was purchased by Mr. Mercer and removed to Washington ,Ga. For several years he was the editor of the Index, assisted by Rev. Wm. II. Stokes, and was the means thus of greatly benefiting the denomination in the state by his wise counsel and skillful expositions of discipline and doctrine. But editorial duties were not congenial to him, and the paper became a pecuniary disadvantage. In 1840 he tendered the index, and all its appendages, to the Georgia Baptist Convention. The gift was accepted, and it was published by the convention, through a committee, until 1862, when it was sold to Rev. S. Boykin, who for several years had been employed as editor. To Mr. Mercer the denomination in the State is indebted for much of its harmony and prosperity, through the influence exerted for many years by that paper.
Efforts in behalf of education.—The cause of education has had no more indefatigable, successful, and liberal advocate in the State of Georgia than Jesse Mercer. He took an active part in the establishment of Mount Enon Academy, in Richmond County, in 1807. He was one of the most munificent supporters of Mercer University from its very inception, and the institution was accordingly named after him. His donations, including legacies to the university, did not amount to less than $40,000.
His efforts in the missionary cause.—No object was dearer to Jesse Mercer than the cause of missions. Through his influence the Powelton Baptist Society for Foreign Missions was established, May 5, 1815; and in the year following he procured the appointment of the Mission Board of the Georgia Association to be a component member of the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist denomination, which board existed for many years, and prosecuted its business with much success. He was uniformly appointed member of the borad, was generally its president and always one of its most liberal and efficient supporters. In 1820 and in 1826 he represented this board in the general Convention. Not until merged in to the operations of the State Convention was this dispensed with.
For some years Mr. Mercer was an active member, and for a while corresponding secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Co-operating Baptist Association for Instructing and Evangelizing the Creek Indians, organized under the direction of managers appointed by the Ocmulgee, Georgia, and Ebeneezer Associations. By his pen, in the pulpit, and with his purse, Mr. Mercer strenuously advocated the mission cause throughout his whole career, and as one of those who organized, and for the ten years of its existence was the master spirit of, the General Committee of the Georgia Baptists, which resulted in the establishment of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and the grand missionary body of the Georgia Baptists. For eighteen years in succession he was elected president of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and for more than twenty years he was successively elected presiding officer of the Georgia Association.
In the discussion of all weighty and difficult subjects in the religious bodied which he attended he usually took a prominent part, and his views generally decided the question under discussion. On one occasion some important subject was discussed for a considerable time, when a worthy brother rose and said, “Well, I now move that Brother Mercer give us his views, and that the question then be put, without any further debate, “ intimating, that it would be improper for the question to be taken until the Gamaliel of the meeting had expressed his opinion, and that after he should speak little more of importance could well be said.
His Liberality.—He gave hundreds of thousands and tens of thousands. To home and foreign missions, to the Bible, tract, Sunday-school, and publication societies, to Columbian College, and to Mercer University he dedicated many thousands of dollars. His bequests to Mercer University amounted to more than $40,000, and to various other benevolent objects not less than $20,000 or $25,000.
His character.—With all his greatness and reputation he was lowly and humble. His modesty was conspicuous; yet, though eminently meek and gentle in spirit, he was a man of uncommon firmness and of great moral courage. In matters of principle sand conscience he was immovable as a rock. His heart was remarkably tender and sympathetic, and he was kind, courteous, hospitable. He treated his servants with the greatest humanity and with the most judicious consideration. The mental elevation, the distinguished piety, and the ministerial excellence which were combined in Mr. Mercer partially account for the extensive and wonderful influence he exerted over the minds of men, for no other man has wielded the same power over the Baptists of Georgia, nor is any other Baptist who has ever lived in the State to be compared to him in the beneficial results accomplished by his long ministry. In the denomination in Georgia he stands as a bright and shining light, while it exists in that State his exalted merit and faithful services will cause him to be held in affectionate and sacred remembrance.
Michael Sattler, 1495-1527
Formerly the prior of a monastery in the Black Forest, and a well-educated man, Sattler knew the Scriptures in the original languages. He was attracted to Zurich by the teachings of the Brethren in the year 1525, and being found among them was arrested and exiled from Zurich. He must have been baptized as a member of the group, for shortly thereafter we find him on an itinerant ministry throughout southwestern Germany, including the cities of Strasburg and Horb.
A pastoral letter to the congregation at Horb reveals him to be a man of deep piety and warm love for the church. It is believed that he called together a conference of leaders of the church in February, 1527, at a place called Schleitheim, not far from Schaffhausen on the Rhine on the Swiss border. That conference is known to have prepared and published a confession of faith called "The Seven Articles of Schleitheim," which is the earliest known Mennonite confession of faith. It is believed that Sattler is its author.
Three short months after this conference Sattler was arrested, condemned, and burned at the stake in Rottenburg after grievous torture.
Menno Simons, 1496-1561
Menno Simons was born in the little town of Witmarsum, a few miles from the North Sea in Friesland, Holland. He came from a peasant family, but, being set apart for the Catholic priesthood, received the usual training for that office and by 1524 entered upon his career in the church. For twelve years he served as parish priest, 1524-36, first for seven years in the town of Pingjum and then for five years in his hometown of Witmarsum. About April, 1535, he surrendered to God, and pledged his life henceforth to the Gospel.
Shortly thereafter he found his way to the Obbenite group in Leeuwarden, where he was baptized in January, 1536. As related earlier, he accepted the call to serve as an elder or bishop, receiving ordination to this office at the hands of Obbe Philips in 1536. He at once gave himself unreservedly to the shepherding of the brethren, to the defense of the Gospel, and to the preaching of the faith to all men. He used his gifts of writing effectively and became widely known "through his books."
d. August 1612, Amsterdam
Smyth also spelled SMITH, English religious libertarian and Nonconformist minister, called "the Se-baptist" (self-baptizer), who is generally considered the founder of the organized Baptists of England. He also influenced the Pilgrim Fathers who immigrated to North America in 1620.
Some of Smyth's early years are obscure, but it is known that he studied at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he was a fellow during 1594-98. He was a city preacher at Lincoln from 1600 to 1602, but he renounced Anglicanism in 1606 and became minister at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, to a group of Separatists who had similarly abandoned the Church of England.
For two years with John Robinson, the minister to the Pilgrims in England and later in Holland, Smyth helped organize Separatists in Nottinghamshire. In 1608 both Smyth and Robinson went with their followers to Amsterdam. Adopting Baptist principles there, Smyth baptized first himself and then others, including Thomas Helwys, later an influential London Baptist. Smyth was busy searching the scriptures, did not believe the reformers were thorough enough, and came to the conclusion that baptism was immersing believers only. His confession of 1611 was the first Baptist confession among English speaking believers.
He admitted that "wee are constant in erroer" and frequently revised his convictions according to conscience, a characteristic that naturally caused divisions among his congregation. When he was excommunicated by it, he sought in vain a favourable reception from Dutch Mennonites. He eventually rejected the doctrine of original sin and asserted the right of every Christian to hold his own religious views. Among Smyth's works is "The Differences of the Churches of the Separation" (probably 1608 or 1609) and numerous other writings which were the basis of early "General" Baptist theology.
Stearns, Shubal, was born in Boston, Mass., Jan. 28, 1706. He was the son of Shubal Stearns and Rebecca Larriford. About 1745, Mr. Stearns joined the new Lights, as the converted Congregational communities that originated from the ministry of George Whitefield in New England were designated. Called of God to proclaim the unsearchable of Christ, he speedily became a minister among the pious new Lights, and exercised his gifts among them until 1751. At this time, like many of his brethren, he was constrained by reading the scriptures to accept believer’s immersion as the Baptism of the New Testament; and after this conviction, as the Saviour alone was his master, he came out boldly as a baptist. He was immersed on a profession of his faith, in Tolland, Conn., by Rev. Wait Palmer, in 1751, and on May 20th of that year he was ordained to the Baptist ministry by Mr. Palmer and Rev. Joshua Morse.
Mr. Stearns received an impression, as he thought from God, that there was a great work for him to do outside of New England, and he obeyed what was undoubtedly a divine call, and started in 1754 for his expected field of labor. He had no definite section to which to which he directed his steps, but expecting divine guidance, he was constantly looking out for providential openings. He stopped for a time at Opeckon Creek, Va., where there was a church under the pastoral care of Rev. S. Heton. Mr. Stearns rested for a short time at Cacapon, near Winchester, but anticipating greater success in his ministry than he enjoyed in that place, he removed, with his relatives, to Sandy Creek, N.C. There, as soon as he arrived, he constituted a Baptist church of sixteen persons, “Shubal Stearns and wife, Peter Stearns and wife, Ebenezer Stearns and wife, Shubal Stearns , Jr. and wife, Daniel Marshall and wife, Joseph Breed and wife, Enos Stimpson and wife, and Jonathan Polk and wife” being its constituent members. Shubal Stearns was elected pastor of the infant church. These devoted servants of God immediately built a meeting-house for public worship. Daniel Marshall and Joseph Breed were appointed to assist the pastor in his ministerial duties.
In the region around Sandy Creek the people knew nothing of the Christian religion except what they had learned from Episcopal clergymen, who in that section, at that time, were unconverted men, and their irreligious darkness was dense. The new heart to them was an unknown mystery and paltry and commonly unpracticed duties, instead of the Savior’s sufferings, were the only known means of salvation. The instructions of Mr. Stearns and the godly lives of the church members were an astonishing revelation to their neighbors. Soon some of them were called by the spirit into the liberty of the Gospel, and their experience filled their acquaintances with even greater wonder. A mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit fell upon the truth proclaimed by the pastor and the licensed preachers of the Sandy Creek church, and as a result, throngs of converts surrounded the gospel banner, and mission communities were organized far and near. The parent body in a few years had 606 members, and in seventeen years from its origin it had branches southward as far as Georgia, eastward to the sea and the Chesapeake Bay, and northward to the waters of the Potomac. It had become the mother, grand-mother and great-grandmother of forty-two churches, from which 125 ministers were sent out licentiates or ordained clergymen.
And in after-tears the power that God gave Shubal Stearns and his Sandy Creek church in its early years swept over Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina with resistless force, and brought immense throngs to Christ, and established multitudes of Baptist churches. There are today probably thousands of churches that arose from the efforts of Shubal Stearns and the church of Sandy Creek.
Mr. Stearns traveled extensively in his own region, preaching Jesus, organizing churches, and giving counsel to the new communities which were formed. And his labors in every department were blessed. Through him, in 1758, three years after the Sandy Creek church was formed, the Sandy Creek Association was organized. For twelve years, all the separate Baptist churches in Virginia and the Carolinas were members of this body. All who were able, traveled from its remote extremities to attend its annual meetings, which were conducted with great harmony, and afforded such edification as induced them to undertake with cheerfulness long and laborious journeys. By means of these meetings the gospel was carried into many new places where the fame of the Baptists had previously spread. As great multitudes attended from different places, chiefly through curiosity, many of them were charmed with the piety and zeal of this extraordinary people, and petitioned the Association to send preachers into their neighbor hoods. In these Associational meetings Shubal Stearns exerted and enormous influence. Other men among the separate Baptists were conspicuous for their ability and usefulness, but in the entire body in the several States Mr. Stearns wielded a founder’s authority. Elder James Read, in speaking of the first meeting says, “The great power of God was among us, the preaching everyday seemed to be attended with God’s blessing. We carried on our association with sweet decorum and fellowship to the end. Then we took leave of one another with many solemn charges from our reverend old father, Shubal Stearns, to stand fast until the end.” This association conducted its annual meetings without a moderator for several years after it was formed, which shows the extraordinary modesty of Mr. Stearns; its harmony, when we remember that its members and ministers were nearly all new converts without experience, proclaims the great power possessed by Mr. Stearns in its deliberations.
The founder of Sandy Creek church was of small stature, had a very expressive and penetrating eye, and a voice , singularly harmonious,; his enemies, it is said, were sometimes captivated by his musical voice. Many things are related of the enchanting sound of his voice, and the glance of his eyes, which had a meaning in every movement.
“He managed his voice in such a way as to make soft impressions upon the heart and bring tears from the eyes, and anon to shake the very nerves and throw the physical system into tumults and perturbations. All the separate Baptists copied after him in tones of voice and actions of body.” “ When the fame of the preaching of Mr. Stearns reached the Yadkin, where I lived, “ says Mr. Tidance Lane, “I had a curiosity to go and hear him. Upon my arrival I saw a venerable old man sitting under a peach-tree with a book in his hand and the people gathering around him. He fixed his eyes upon me immediately, which made me feel in such a manner as I never had felt before. I turned to quit the place, but could not proceed far; I walked about, sometimes catching his eyes as I walked. My uneasiness increased and became intolerable. I went up to him thinking that a salutation and shaking hands would relieve me, but it happened otherwise. I began to think that he had an evil eye, and ought to be shunned, but shunning him I could no more effect than a bird can shun the rattlesnake when it fixes its eyes upon it. When he began to preach my perturbations increased, so that nature could no longer support them, and I sank to the ground.” Mr. Lane afterwards became a very useful Baptist minister.
It is related on the best authority that "Elnathan Davis had heard that one John Steward was to be baptized by Mr. Stearns on a particular day, and, as Steward was a large man, and Stearns of small stature, he concluded that there would be some diversion, if not drowning. Therefore he gathered about eight or ten of his companions in wickedness, and went to the spot. When Mr. Stearns began to preach Elnathan drew near to hear him, while his companions kept at a distance. He as no sooner among the crowd than he perceived that some of the people began to tremble as if in a fit of the ague. He felt and examined, to see if it was not pretense. Meanwhile one man leaned on his shoulder, weeping bitterly. Elnathan, perceiving that he had wet his new white coat, pushed him off, and ran to his companions, who were sitting on a log away from the congregation, to one of whom, in answer to his inquiry, he said, “There is a trembling and crying spirit among them, but whether it be the spirit of God or the devil, I don’t know. If it be the devil, the devil go with them, for I will never more venture myself among them!” He stood awhile in that resolution, but the enchantment of Mr. Stearns voice drew him to the crowd once more. He had not been long there before the trembling seized him also. He attempted to withdraw, but his strength failing, and his understanding being confounded, he, with many others, sank to the ground. When he came to himself he found nothing in him but dread and anxiety, bordering on horror. He continued in this situation some days, and then found relief by faith in Christ.” Mr. Davis afterwards became a successful minister of Jesus. We mention these two well-known cases as illustrations of the extraordinary power attending the preaching of Shubal Stearns.
That he had a remarkable voice and eye is unquestionable; but he was eloquent, wise, humble, pathetic, full of faith, and wholly consecrated to God, and few men ever enjoyed more of the Spirit’s presence in the closet and in preaching the gospel. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest ministers that ever presented Jesus to perishing multitudes, and one of the most successful soulwinners that ever unfurled the banner of Calvary. Had he been a Romish priest, with as flattering a record of service to the church of the popes, long since would he have been canonized, and declared the “patron saint” of North Carolina, and fervent supplications would have ascended to the most blessed of American intercessors from devout Catholics, and stately churches would have been dedicated to the holy and blessed St. Shubal Stearns, the apostle of North Carolina and the adjacent states.
Mr. Stearns died Nov. 20 1771, and his remains were interred near the Sandy Creek church.
Valentine Wightman was born in North Kingston, R.I., in 1681. He was a descendant of Edward Wightman, the Baptist martyr of Lichfield, England, who was burned because he denounced "infant baptism." His father was one of five brothers who came to this country, all of whom were Baptists, - two preachers, two deacons, and one a private member. Valentine was ordained in Rhode Island and, in 1705, removed to Groton, Connecticut, where he established the First Baptist Church in the Sate of Connecticut.
He went to New York in 1712, and the result of his preaching was the formation of the First Baptist Church in that State. He was a missionary throughout Eastern Connecticut and aided in the planting of several churches - Stonington, Waterford, and Lyme.
Wightman's writings show that he was a student of the Scriptures, with a well balanced mind, of calm but decided spirit, of sound judgment, clear convictions, warm heart, plain and transparent speech, a wise man in laying foundations.
He was married to Susanna Holmes February 10, 1703, and left descendants, who have been honored in the ministry. After the scenes and labors of the Great Awakening, in which he labored and rejoiced, he died June 9, 1747, at the age of sixty-six, and after a ministry of forty-two years. His son, Timothy Wightman, and his grandson, John Gano Wightman, followed him as Pastors of the First Baptist Church. Their ministries covered a total of one hundred twenty-five years, and were marked with numerous revivals and success.
** THE GRAVES OF THE WIGHTMANS ARE IN THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH CEMETERY-OLD MYSTIC, CONNECTICUT. THERE IS A PLAQUE AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE CEMETERY WHICH MARKS THE ORIGINAL SITE OF THE CHURCH.
** SOURCES CITED INCLUDE CATHCART'S BAPTIST ENCYCLOPEDIA, AND BENEDICT'S HISTORY OF THE BAPTIST'S.