We’ve often mentioned the persecution which the early Baptists faced in the Commonwealth of Virginia. By most accounts there were 43 Baptist ministers jailed there for preaching the gospel before religious freedom became common. Most of these jailed preachers were “Separates” like Samuel Harris and Shubal Sterns. The other major type of Baptist in the day were the Regulars most of whom associated with the Philadelphia Baptist Association. As reported by David Benedict, a major historian of the day, there was very little doctrinal difference between the two varieties of Baptists; it was only that “The Regulars were considered less enthsiastick than the Separates.”
One of the Virginia Regular Baptists who was arrested and often persecuted was David Thomas. He was born on this day (Aug. 16) in 1732. He was blessed with a better education than most of his Separate neighbors, having studied at the first Baptist preachers’ school at Hopewell, NJ. Later he was honored with a Master’s degree from Rhode Island College.
In 1762 Thomas became pastor of the Broadrun Baptist Church of Fauquier County, but he preached Christ throughout the countryside, reaching as far away as Fredericksburg. This brought him severe persecution. Once he was pulled from the pulpit and dragged out the door. On another occasion a man pointed a gun at him, but it was wrenched from his hand before he could fire. The Broadrun church started 5 or 6 other churches and those churches were similarly persecuted. The Chappawomsick church had a live snake thrown into the auditorium during one service and on another occasion a hornet’s nest was tossed in.
Nothing deterred Bro. Thomas. He continued to boldly preach Christ in Virginia until he, like many others, felt led of the Lord to move to Kentucky where he continued to serve his Saviour, until his death in 1796.