July 12

Algerius was born in Naples, Italy, into a Catholic family of wealth and privilege, so the young man was given a good education. Those were the days of the Protestant Reformation, so while in seminary, preparing for the priesthood, he and other students often talked about doctrine and political events. During this training, Algerius met a student who spoke boldly of his personal faith in Christ as Lord and Saviour. The two boys began studying the Bible together and over time Algerius, too, was born again. His life was transformed, and he grew quickly in the things of God. It wasn’t too long before he was requesting believer’s baptism. After that he began forcefully teaching and preaching God’s Word. These things drew the attention of the Inquisition. Algerius was arrested. To encourage him to recant, he was forced to witness the torture of criminals and Anabaptists. He was constantly interrogated. There was a great desire to have him restored to Rome, so at one point even Pope Paul IV came to visit him. Various sects and orders including had Capuchin monks (not monkeys) were sent to convince him of the error of his ways. Finally, his own torture was begun. Boiling oil was poured over his body. In the process of time he was tortured to death. Not long before his home-going, on this day in 1557, he wrote a letter. “Written in the most delightful pleasure garden of the prison called Leonia… Here on earth I have ‘no continuing city’ or place of rest. My home and country are in heaven. I seek the new city of Jerusalem,...

July 5

The account of the whipping of Obadiah Holmes is well-known to most Baptists. John Spur was a witness to the event. He testified that John Cotton was the Puritan preacher and prosecuting attorney in the case. Prior to the sentencing Cotton declared that “denying infant’s baptism would overthrow all; and this was a capital offense; and therefore (Holmes and John Clarke from Rhode Island) were soul murderers.” He requested the death sentence for both men. For Holmes, the beating was so bad that Cotton almost got his wish. After the whipping, Spur and another man named John Hazel went to Holmes and expressed sympathy and concern. Spur shook Holmes’ hand and said “Blessed be God for thee, brother.” For this, Spur and Hazel had warrants issued for their arrest “dated 5th of the 7th month, 1651. As they stood before their persecutors, they declared that they were denied the privileges of Englishmen to have legal counsel, to be tried by a jury, and to know what law they had transgressed. To this last point Governor Endicott replied, “You have denied infant baptism and deserve to die; I will have no such trash brought to our jurisdiction.” Christians ought to be forgiving people, and I’m sure that Holmes, Spur and Hazel probably did forgive their persecutors, but if Cotton and Endicott were Christians at all, their deeds will be brought up by the Lord Himself at His bema – the judgment...

June 28

Milo Jewett was born in 1808 into the family of a successful physician, and as a result, Milo received an excellent education. He graduated from Dartmouth after which he began a career as a lawyer, but it didn’t suit him so attended Andover Seminary, at which time he trusted Christ as his Saviour. After graduation he became a teacher. In 1834 he accepted a professorship in Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio. Then a few years later he was asked to become the pastor of a Presbyterian church. On this day in 1838 he wrote a letter which described a life-changing event in his life. One of the leaders of his church became a Baptist, and several other members attended the baptism. They then turned to Jewett to defend their denomination’s practice of paedo-baptism – the sprinkling of babies. Jewett confessed that he had never studied the subject and never read anything for or against. He wrote “I entered upon an investigation of the original Scriptures relative to the language used respecting the ordinance…. I was compelled to admit, as a philologist and interpreter of the Bible, that immersion, and that only, is the baptism which Christ enjoins. Afterwards I took up infant baptism, and here I found myself in clouds and darkness… I was obliged, in the fear or God, to conclude that none but believers in Jesus have a right to the ordinance of Jesus.” In January 1839 Milo Jewett was baptized and united with the Baptist church in Marietta. Resigning the college he moved to Alabama where he started a girls school before become the first president of...

June 21

George Pleasant Bostick was the first of three sibblings to go to China as missionaries. Together they gave 110 years to the Lord, preaching the gospel. Their mother was, at first, apprehensive about their work, but later testified that she wished all fifteen of her children had gone to the mission field. G.P., as he was known, was converted to Christ at an early age and afterward joined the Floyd’s Creek Baptist Church in North Carolina. When, at the age of 18, he expressed God’s call to the ministry, and the church recognized the Lord’s hand upon him, he was licensed to preach. He pastored several small country churches, before being called to the First Baptist of Durham, NC. It was there that the Lord called him to work in China. For his next 37 years he served as a pioneer missionary, enduring privation, disease and violence in an effort to present Christ to the people of Shantung Province. While on a missionary trip inland, his first wife died. After marrying another young missionary, she too died while he was away, but he carried on. He spent 52 of his 68 years serving His Saviour, mostly on the mission field. It was on this day in 1926 that G.P. Bostick joined his loved ones at the feet of their...

June 14

Daniel Fristoe was converted to Christ in 1755 and he was ordained sixteen years later.  This was in northern Virginia.   On the day of his ordination, June 14, 1771, John Young had been haled into the nearby  Caroline County courthouse for preaching the free grace of Christ without a licence.  According to Fristoe’s diary, the next following day, he was in a meeting examining candidates for baptism, when a man came into the assembly cursing, swearing and beginning to flop around like a fish out of water.  Satan was very interested in disrupting the work of Christ.  Nevertheless, sixteen people were adjudged proper subjects for baptism.  They joined thirteen others who were ready to make their public stand for Christ.     That Sunday, about 2,000 people came together to witness the Baptist’s ordinance of immersion.  The trees overhanging the river were so filled with people that several branches broke and heckling spectators were cast into the water.  No one was hurt.  After the candidates had dried off the congregation moved to a nearby field, where Fristoe preached and the service concluded with the hymn, “Come We that Love the Lord.”  The preacher declared that he had never seen such a battle between God with His blessing and the raging of the Devil.     Bro. Fristoe’s ministry was blessed but short.  While visiting the Philadelphia Association meeting, he was seized with smallpox, and he quickly succumbed.  In his 35th year, his body was buried at the Baptist Church of Philadelphia, far from his loving wife, seven children and the churches he was...

June 7

Joseph Samuel Murrow was born on this day (June7) 1835 in the home of a Methodist preacher. At the age of 19 he was converted and united with Green Fork Baptist Church. Soon he was licensed to preach, and in 1855 he entered Mercer University. Two years later he was ordained and sent out as a missionary to the Creek Indians who were living near what is now Eufaula, Oklahoma (northwest of Talahina about 50 miles). The Civil War disrupted his work among the Creeks, so he settled among the Seminoles, caring for more that 4,000 refugee Indians along the Red River which divides Oklahoma from Texas. During that time he baptized over 200 converts. Following the war he returned to Indian Territory and settle Atoka (west of Talahina about 100 miles). In 1869 he organized the Rehoboth Baptist Church which may be Oklahoma’s oldest Baptist church. He didn’t confine his ministry to any one tribe, also working with the Choctaw and Muskogees evangelizing the people and organizing churches. I don’t know if he had been married before, but at the age of 58 he married Kathrina Ellett, who had been working among the Indians herself for 18 years, and together their ministries more than simply doubled. One of Bro. Murrow’s accomplishments was his part in the establishment the Indian University, the Baptist college of the Territory. In 1902, at an age when many think about retiring, Bro and Mrs. Murrow started an orphanage. They took in 40 children that first year. Over the next 25 years many hundreds of kids were loved, supported and evangelized by this godly...

May 31

John Bryce was born of Scotish parents in Goochland County, Virginia on this day (May 31) in 1784. He was raised in the Episcopal Church, but at the age of 21 he came under conviction through the preaching of Andrew Broadus and upon his profession of faith united with the small Baptist church in his community. Bryce was bi-vocational throughout his life. Not only was he a preacher and pastor, but also a very worthy lawyer. For a while he served in Richmond and Lynchburg and was a friend of Chief Justice John Marshall. During the war of 1812 Bryce was a chaplain in the army, after which he pastored and worked in Fredericksburg and Alexandria in Virginia. He felt very strongly in an educated ministry, so he assisted in the establishment of Columbian College in Washington before moving to Kentucky and helping to establish Georgetown College, the first institution of higher learning west of the Appalachians. In 1844 Bryce was appointed surveyor of Shreveport, Louisiana. He was there when Texas was annexed to the United States, and it is said that he was President Tyler’s confidential agent. But his most important work was not political or patriotic but eternal. He was a preacher of the gospel and a Baptist pastor with a missionary heart. When he arrived in Shreveport he supposed there was not a Baptist church or another Baptist preacher within 200 miles. When he left in 1851 there were about 20...

May 24

King James II of England was a Roman Catholic, but his daughter Mary was not. Mary married a Dutch Protestant named William, and with the providential hand of God upon them, William and Mary became the rulers of England. It was called “the glorious revolution.” The year was 1688. It was the most earth-shaking religious event since Henry VIII broke with Rome 150 years before. A year later, on this day in 1689, William and Mary saw to it that “The Toleration Act” was passed in Parliament without much difficulty. Even though the previous king was Catholic, this law was primarily directed toward the Church of England. It eliminated compulsory attendance of any church. The State Church, the Protestant Church of England, still had privileges, but she had no power to persecute. Under that legal toleration, not only could the Catholics operate, but so could dissenting churches like the Baptists. It was a boon to the people of God. Across the Atlantic the immediate effects were felt differently in various colonies. Obviously, this was nearly a hundred years before the Revolutionary War, and in places like New England and Virginia true freedom was still a long way from a reality. We owe our religious liberty to hundreds of Baptist brethren who taught, argued, testified and even suffered for this right. But those early Baptists owed a debt of gratitude to the English monarchs William and Mary and their “Toleration Act” of May 24,...

May 17

Charles Luther was born on this day in the year 1847. Even though he was raised in a godly home, he was not born again until his senior year at Brown University. Charles grew up with a love for journalism and for a time he worked on a newspaper in Springfield, Massachusetts. But the man had the gift of a fine voice. He became a preacher of the gospel and in the course of his services he often sang. He sang the standard hymns, but also over time he began writing his own lyrics. While Luther was pastor of the Baptist church in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Evangelist A. G. Upham came for a series of meetings. In one of his sermons, entitled “Stars for Your Crown,” Upham referred to a young Christian man whom he met, dying in a nearby hospital. The young man said, “I am not afraid. Jesus saves me now. But, I have not been able to lead even one such as I was, to Christ… No, I am not afraid to die; but oh! If I go – must I go empty handed?” As he sat listening, the evangelist’s illustration struck Luther’s heart. Later that evening he jotted down the words – “Must I go, and empty-handed? Thus my dear Redeemer meet? Not one day of service give Him, Lay no trophy at His feet?” Charles Luther wrote about 25 sacred songs. “Must I go and empty-handed” was set to music by George Stebbins, and in 1887 they were all printed in a volume entitled “Beautiful Beckoning Hands. “ “Must I go and empty-handed” is Luther’s...

May 10

Alfred Bennett was born into a Christian home in Mansfield, Connecticut on September 26, 1780. Twenty years later he was born again and joined the Baptist church of that community. In 1802, after marrying the daughter of the church deacon, the couple moved to the wilderness of central New York. In an unbroken forest, the Bennetts built a log cabin and began a farm and family in the place called Homer. Soon a Baptist church was started, but for years there was no settled pastor, so Alfred was urged to preach. The blessings of God fell – over and over again. Protesting his unworthiness, Bro. Bennett was ordained in 1817. For the next 25 years Elder Bennett pastored that congregation in the wilderness, and when the church’s history was finally written, it was found that he had baptized 770 people. That number, of course, is outstanding under any circumstances, but in the light of the sparse population of the area in that day it is amazing. The congregation willingly split on two occasions mothering new churches in the neighborhood. As one might expect, Bro. Alfred Bennett was a strong proponent of missions, both locally and abroad. One of the greatest tributes to the work of this man came from the American Baptist Missionary Union a year after his death. In that year’s minutes, Bennett’s name was joined to that of Adoniram Judson. One point out of four stated – “The high honour conferred upon us in giving us such men at the beginning of our great enterprise, and continuing them in uninterrupted labor so long, calls for the most...

May 3

John Mason Peck was the indefatigable missionary who first brought the gospel to much of the Mississippi valley. For more than 40 years prior to his death in 1858, he worked among the Indians and whites from Ohio to St. Louis. In 1822, while leading the First Baptist Church of St. Louis, Peck helped to organize the First African Baptist Church. Five years later the congregation had built a beautiful brick meeting house and called John Berry Meachum, “a free man of color,” to become their pastor. Thirty-eight years earlier, on this day in 1789, John Meachum was born a Virginian slave. While in the service of others, he was born again and became a servant of God and a Baptist preacher. After he was moved to Kentucky, he was able to earn and save enough money to buy his freedom. His wife however was still enslaved, and her owner moved to Missouri in 1815. John chose to follow her, arriving in St. Louis with $3 in his pocket. Working as a carpenter and cooper, he once again saved enough money to buy his wife’s freedom and eventually that of their children. The Lord continued to bless the Meachums – spiritually and financially. John, the former slave, began buying slaves himself, whom he taught to work and gave employment. To encourage their personal industry and to give them hope, he promised that after ten years he would give them their liberty. This proved to be a successful plan and through this means he brought about the freedom of approximately twenty souls. By 1835, while pastoring the African Church and...

April 26

We are greatly indebted to Edward Terrill, the clerk of the “Baptized Congregation” of Broadmead, Bristol, England who faithfully recorded the history of the church of which he was a member. The Broadmead church was founded in 1640. In 1651 Thomas Ewins was called to be its pastor. The work grew under his leadership, drawing the attention of the enemy. On July 27, 1661, Ewins was arrested while preaching. After two months in jail, he was released and began preaching once again. Two years later, he began a full year in jail. During that time he would preach through the bars of his fourth-floor cell to the church members below. The Broadmead assembly took attendance seriously, meeting out-of-doors and from house to house. One meeting place was in a small second floor room. Those ladies who couldn’t squeeze into the hall, sat on the stairs listening, and when the sheriff came, they would begin singing, signaling to the others to disband. Terrill records that the determination of the congregation to meet, despite the laws against conventicles, was so strong that those who absented themselves without good cause were disciplined as disorderly. Pastor Ewin, suffering the physical effects of his incarcerations, died on this day in 1670, at an early age. Bro Terrill put into the church records: “Anno 1670. Our Pastor, Br. Ewins, having layen a greate while weake, he Departed this life … in ye worke of ye Ministry; Preaching ye Gospel! 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...

April 19

A. J. Gordon was born on his day (April 19) in 1836. His father was a deacon in the Baptist church in New Hampton, New Hampshire. Dad was named after the nineteenth century reformer John Calvin, but the son was given a name honoring the Baptist missionary Adoniram Judson. A.J. Gordon was born again when he was fifteen-years-of-age. He attended Brown University, a school for which he eventually became a trustee. He completed his education at Newton Theological Institute. For more than a quarter century he was one of the leading Baptist pastors in the country. Heretics and cultists feared his tongue and pen. Not only did he pastor one of the foremost churches in New England, the Clarendon Street Baptist Church, Boston, but he edited an influential weekly paper and published book after book, many of which are still widely read today. He attacked agnosticism, Unitarianism, evolution, baptismal regeneration, Arminianism; Hyper-calvinism; post-millennialism and post-tribulationalism, Christian Science, transcendentalism and the growing attacks upon God’s Word by the higher critics and mis-translators of his day. Gordon was a fundamentalist before the rise of fundamentalism. He once wrote, “The world’s motto is, ‘In union there is strength,’ the church’s motto is, ‘in separation there is strength.’” A.J. Gordon died in...

April 12

William Screven emigrated to Boston from England about the year 1668. There he became a successful merchant. He also became a Baptist, but at what point we do not know. When he tried to organize a Baptist church in Boston he was informed that it would be in violation of the laws of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, so he moved to Kittery in the Province of Maine in order to scripturally worship and serve the Lord. After Massachusetts acquired the area of Maine, the government renewed its persecution of this good man. He was arrested and charged with making blasphemous speeches against the “holy order of pedobaptism” (apparently their words). On this day (April 12) in 1682 he was brought before the court at York and his sentence was read. He was charged with “blasphemy” and “delinquency” for condemning infant baptism and for not attending the state-sanctioned church. He was ordered to pay £10 and to cease any private exercise of religion at his own house or elsewhere. Of course, when released, Screven continued to worship the Lord as he understood the Bible to teach. When he organized a church in Kittery out of a Baptist church in Massachusetts, the government’s persecution intensified. Eventually growing weary of the official hatred, Elder Screven and the assembly which he shepherded took ship and sailed for the Carolinas. They settled on the Cooper River not far from Charleston. In 1693 after meeting a few recent Baptist arrivals from the west of England, a new church was established out of the seeds of the Kittery church. This was the first Baptist church in...

April 5

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...