This Sunday in Baptist History
Our subject this morning was a man with a very unique and interesting name; it is theological and prophetical. His family name was Noel, which you probably know means “Birth of God.” This man was born in England in 1799 and was raised in the Church of England. The Noels were a part of the aristocracy of the day, so this young man had the best education available and his mind was worthy of the challenge. He graduated with distinction from Trinity College, Cambridge, after which he became an Anglican prelate. At the age of 27, he was one of the most popular preachers in London and served as one of the chaplains to Queen Victoria.
As an honest and intelligent man, his study of the Bible lead him in a direction away from the Church of England. He wrote a booklet entitled “The Union of Church and State” which was negative to the subject. And then he was truly baptized on August 9, 1849 in the John Street (Baptist) Chapel.
I said that he had an interesting name. For some unknown reason his parents gave him the prophetic name of “Baptist.” Our subject is Baptist W. Noel. And incidentally, the man who immersed him had an equally appropriate name. The pastor, or under-shepherd, of the John Street Chapel was named “Shepherd.” Baptist Noel, the former non-baptist, was baptized by Pastor Shepherd or Shepherd Shepherd.
After his immersion, Bro. Noel was asked to speak. In his message he assured his audience, which included many who were not Baptists, that he had thoroughly studied the subject in the Bible and in reading every document he could find both for and against immersion. Toward his conclusion he said, “It appears to me to be distinctly proved, first, that baptism, as ordained by Christ, is an immersion in water, a being buried in the water; and secondly, that immersion is meant to be a profession of faith in Christ. If those two conclusions are correct then it follows that a person, who like myself has only been sprinkled in infancy, is unbaptized.”
Soon after his baptism and membership in the John Street Chapel, Baptist Noel began preaching again. He was just as popular as an non-conformist as he had been as a churchman.
Baptist W. Noel passed away on this day (January 19) in 1873.