This Sunday in Baptist History
The Broadmead Church in Bristol, England was founded in 1640. In the church minutes it was described as a “Baptized Congregation” meaning that it employed immersion. For about fifteen years one of the early members, of the church, Brother Edward Terrill, faithfully kept notes and minutes. He wrote of their pastor, Thomas Ewins, who had been an Anglican minister, but who was converted to Christ and to Baptist doctrine. When the church began to flourish, the authorities became alarmed and Pastor Ewins, and several others were arrested. For about a year he languished in prison, but faithfully on the Lord’s Day his people would gather outside the prison, and from his fourth floor window, Pastor Ewins would preach.
Church clerk Terrill detailed some of the ways that the church struggled to continue, meeting in secret, in cellars and out-of-doors, on fourth and fifth floors of buildings with people on the second floor, who would begin to sing hymns if the sheriff came along, warning those who were upstairs. They constantly moved their meetings from house to house trying to stay ahead of the authorities. Many of their members were fined and imprisoned, and yet they kept on.
Finally, in 1670, Pastor Ewins died, weakened by his imprisonments. On this day (April 26) 1670, Brother Terrill wrote: Our Pastor, Br. Ewins, having layen a greate while weaked, he Departed this life. In ye worke of ye ministry; Preaching ye Gospell clearly of Free Grace by faith in Christ Jesus, Wherein he laboured aboundantly, in ye Publick, and in his particular charge ye congregation… He was man full of self-denyall, and subding his Natural Temper; soe that he walked very Lovely and Holy in his conversation, shewing patience where it was required, and meekness toward all men… He was interred in James’s Yeard… accompanied with many hundreds to ye grave, ye like funerall not seen long before in Bristoll. He left so good a savour behind for faithfulness to God, and humility towards men, that his very chief persecutor, (Sr. Jo Knight), said, he did believe he was gone to heaven.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the same sort of things might be said of us and of pastors today?