This Sunday in Baptist History
Benjamin Randall was set apart for the gospel ministry on this day in 1780, ten years after his conversion and after he joined the Baptist church in Portsmith, New Hampshire.
Benjamin was born in 1749; the son of a sea captain; a member of a Congregational church. After sailing with his father several times, he settled down and opened his own shop as a sail-maker.
During 1770, George Whitefield, the Anglican/Methodist evangelist, announced his intention to visit Portsmith to preach. By this time most Congregational ministers had grown tired of Whitefield’s evangelistic approach and ordered their people not to attend or listen to the man. Benjamin Randall, however felt drawn to attend, despite his predetermined prejudice against him. The preaching of Christ stirred his heart, but he fought against the Lord’s conviction. He went back again and again. Friday night marked his last visit to the hall where Whitefield preached. The following Sunday, a stranger rode through the streets announcing in a subdued tone: “Mr. Whitefield is dead. He died in Newbury at 6 o’clock this morning.”
The words hit Randall like a lightning bolt. “Whitefield is in heaven, and I am on the road to hell. He was a man of God, and I reviled him. O that I could hear his voice once again.” For days he was in great distress. The gospel messages he had heard echoed in his heart, until one text rose to the top of his mind: “But now, once in the end of the world, hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” – Heb. 9:26. On October 15, 1770 God’s grace conquered Benjamin’s heart and he put his complete trust in the work of Christ on the cross.