January 26

Britain’s “Act of Toleration,” enacted in 1689, ended a period of severe persecution against the Baptists in that country, but it did not provide all that Christ’s churches taught or deserved. While it was no longer compulsory to attend the services of the Church of England, the ministers of dissenting churches still had to sign the 39 articles of the Church of England with some exceptions such as the 27th on infant baptism. And all meeting Baptist houses had to be registered with the local government and pay a fee of sixpence. Prior to the Act some of England’s best-known Baptists had suffered persecution and loss. Thomas Collier in Western England, and Hanserd Knollys the great writer, were persecuted. William Kiffin was personal friend of the King, but his grandsons, Benjamin and William Hewling, were martyred. Benjamin Keach was imprisoned, pilloried and fined. John Bunyan, spent twelve years in the Bedford jail. Baptist preachers and church members were beaten, fined and incarcerated. Their church and personal property was often confiscated or destroyed. Their meeting houses were damaged or leveled with no compensation. John Eccles was pastor of the congregation at Bromisgrove, Worcester. He preached the gospel there and in Coventry for 50 years. But he was arrested and placed in the dungeon at Worcester. Only when a member of Parliament paid a £1,000 bond was he released. It is the anniversary of Eccles death that marks this day in Baptist history. It is interesting that many of God’s greatest British servants suffered persecution. History records that when that persecution was relaxed, God’s people also relaxed – spiritually. The opposition...

January 19

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...

January 12

Samuel Harriss was born on this day in 1724. He was born again 36 years later. Before his conversion Harriss served his community as sheriff, justice of the peace, colonel in the militia, and Captain of Fort Mayo. In the family’s Episcopal religion he was for a time a church warden. His family had political power and social prominence, but that all changed for Samuel. One day, while on assignment and dressed in his military uniform, he stopped at the home of two brothers named Murphy. Somewhat hiding and sitting behind a loom, he heard one of the brothers preach the gospel. Later he testified that “the arrow of the Almighty stuck fast,” and he was born again. He became so excited and joyful he left the house shouting “Glory, glory, glory,” even forgetting to take with him his sword. Daniel Marshall baptized Samuel Harriss, and soon after he began preaching Christ anywhere between the James and Rappahannock rivers, and periodically as far away as the Shenandoah Valley. He was ordained in 1769 when he was 45, but he had already started to experience the wrath of the wicked one. Four years earlier he was driven out of Culpepper County, Virginia, by a ferocious mob, but still he wanted to serve his Saviour. In Orange County he was pulled from the pulpit by his hair. On another occasion he was knocked down under a rain of punches. In the town of Hillsborough he was given permission to preach in the local jail, but once he was inside, the sheriff locked the doors and kept him there for some time....

January 5

On this day (January 5) in 1527 two well-known Anabaptists paid the price for their faith in Christ and their love for the Word of God. George Balurock was stripped to the waist and beaten nearly to death, and Felix Manz was drowned in Lake Zurich. Many historians look at a few notable Anabaptists and conclude they were all a bunch of lunatics and heretics. Almost no one but Baptist scholars and a few related to the Mennonites, ever spend time researching the true history of these people. But Franklin Littell, a Protestant historian, fifty years ago, wrote, “Information on the [Anabaptists] groups as been notoriously scarce and has rested in the main upon hostile polemics (vicious attacks).” Based on the promise of God that the church could not have been destroyed, he believed that the Anabaptists were that true church. Roland Bainton connects Anabaptist with the ancient Donatists, acknowledging that “the parallels between the Anabaptists and Donatists were… more than superficial.” And then he added, “To call these people Anabaptist, that is re-baptizers, was to malign them, because they denied that baptism was repeated, inasmuch as infant baptism is no baptism at all. They called themselves simply Baptists, not re-Baptists. The offensive name was fastened upon them in order to bring them under the penalty of the Justinian Code against the Donatists” – so that they might be punished and put to death. William Estep wrote in 1963, “Scholars of preceding generations have leaned heavily upon the highly partisan and quite unreliable accounts of sixteenth-century … writings of … Zwingly … Menius … Bullinger and … Fisher, to...

December 29

Phillipp Bliss died on this day in 1876, at the young age of 38. His name was originally spelled with 3 p’s and 2 l‘s – “Phillipp, ” but he didn’t like the spelling so he chopped it down and chopped it apart to Philip P. Bliss. Eventually he was known simply as P.P. Bliss. He was born in Rome (Pennsylvania) in 1838. When he was 12 he was born again, and after his immersion he joined the Baptist church at Tioga, Pennsylvania. Following his marriage to a talented poet/musician, he fought in the Civil War, before moving to Chicago to become a music writer, publisher and singer. He often assisted D.L. Moody and others in their evangelistic campaigns. In December 1876, after having spent some time with his mother and sister, Bliss and his wife were headed back to Chicago on the Pacific Express when a bridge collapsed near Ashtabula, Ohio and the train plunged 60 feet into a ravine, where the steam locomotive exploded. Philip escaped through a window, but when he couldn’t find his wife, he crawled back into the burning rail car where he found her trapped, and there they died together. P.P. Bliss wrote hundreds of hymns, many of which are still being sung regularly. Different people might select different Bliss hymns as their favorite, but at this point in my life, I think my favorite Bliss hymn would be “It is Well with My...

December 22

Andrew Tribble was one of the first Baptists in Virginia. He often declared that he was the fifty-third Baptist on the north side of the James River. Some of the people with whom he fellowshipped were Lewis and Elijah Craig, John Waller and James Childs. Bro. Tribble was most likely baptized by James Reed who rode down from North Carolina for that purpose. Bro. Tribble began the itinerant preaching the gospel of Christ and was one of the forty-four Baptists imprisoned in Virginia for serving his Saviour without a license. He was incarcerated in the Fredericksburg gaol for forty-eight days. His first pastorate was at the Baptist church in Albemarle County. It was near the home of Thomas Jefferson. Years later, Tribble, testified that after Jefferson had visited the Albemarle church for several months, the preacher asked him what he thought about the government and management of the church. Jefferson replied that it struck him with great force and had interested him much. He considered it to be the only pure form of democracy that then existed in the world and had concluded that it would be the best plan of government for the American colonies. Nothing was said about Jefferson’s conversion to Christ. In 1783 the Tribbles followed the example of the Craigs and others by moving to Kentucky. There he organized the Tates Creek Baptist Church, serving that congregation until his death on this day in...

December 15

Constantine was the Roman leader who united secular government to the “Christian” religion – a false and corrupted form of Christianity. From that day until the late 18th century, true Bible-believers have been oppressed and persecuted by both Catholics and their children, the Protestants, as they struggled for soul liberty and the freedom to worship God according to His Word. During the Dark Ages, the Anabaptists, descendants of earlier believers and the forefathers of the Baptists, stood and died preaching the Truth of the gospel when the laws of the unified state/religion throughout Europe denied them that liberty. In Britain, speaking for fallen Christianity, a spokesman for the Westminster Assembly stated, with approval: “Liberty of conscience and toleration of any and all religions is so prodigious an impiety that this religious parliament cannot but abhor the very meaning of it.” When the Puritans came to North America, telling the world they wanted religious liberty, they were lying. They only wanted liberty for themselves, and they continued to deny Godly people the opportunity to preach and practice the precepts of the Bible. It took the suffering of Baptists and a few others to bring about religious freedom in this country. On this day (December 15) 1792, well after the establishment of the United States of America, the first amendment to the constitution was adopted. It reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of...

December 8

Andrew Marshall was born a slave in South Carolina. His first “master” was John Houston, the colonial governor of Georgia. Even though he was promised freedom upon the death of Houston, the promise was not kept and he was sold, becoming the property of Judge Clay, who became a United States Senator. Traveling with Clay, Andrew met George Washington on several occasions, and when the President visited Savannah, Andrew was honored to be his temporary personal servant. Later, Andrew Marshall not only purchased his physical freedom, but he was purchased from the penalty of his sins through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1785 he joined Savanna’s Second Baptist Church, becoming its pastor ten years later. Under his ministry the congregation grew to more than 3,000. When the church thought it best to divide the congregation, Marshall became pastor of the First African Baptist Church, where he remained until his death on this day (December 8) in 1856 at over ninety years of age. Elder Andrew Marshal, despite a limited education read good material and studied hard to become the most effective pastor possible. He had a deep, sonorous voice to go along with a natural ability to communicate. During his long ministry in Savanna he baptized more than 4,000 converts. He also preached in many of the foremost Baptist churches of his day, ministering as far away as the First Baptist church of New York. His piety and wisdom was so well-known that he was invited to speak to the Georgia State Legislature. The man was so well-admired and loved, it is said that at his...

December 1

Today’s history note once again deals with Missouri, but this time only in the eastern part of the state and somewhat earlier. John Mason Peck was born – and born again – in Connecticut, but the Lord laid the spiritual needs of the West, upon his heart. On this day (December 1) in 1817, he and his family arrived in St. Louis, after more than four months of travel by foot, wagon, and boat. On the day of his arrival, he was so sick with a fever that he had to be carried to his bed on a stretcher. But soon he recovered and began an illustrious ministry. First, he established a school and began to evangelize the local black population, then he started riding out into the country-side, preaching Christ in homes and farming communities. Looking ahead, he established a station where the thousands of settlers traveling through St. Louis could be refreshed in body and soul, providing them with the scriptures and the gospel to carry to their new homes. He planted some of the earliest Baptist churches west of the Mississippi, and despite his own limited education founded the first college in the West. He was called “God’s Ambassador to the Mississippi Valley” and because he seemed so busy he also earned the nickname “the man with twenty hands.” Illustrating his expanding his ministry, a 1823 note in his journal stated: “I have been absent from home 53 days; have traveled through 18 counties in Illinois and 9 in Indiana; rode 926 miles, pleached regular sermons 31 times, besides delivering several speeches, address and lectures.” For...

November 24

In the 1830’s Polk County, Missouri, was a part of the “Wild West” with small log cabins rarely less than five miles from each other. The people living in those cabins needed the Saviour as much as those living in the large cities. D.R. Murphy was born on this day in 1802. As a young married man, while living outside of Knoxville, Tennessee in complete disregard for God, he came under such conviction of sin that he despaired of life. But God broke his heart with divine love and gave to the young man a peace and confidence of salvation in Christ Jesus. He was immersed and joined the Mill Spring Baptist Church on September 3, 1832. With a love in his heart for the Lord, he began preaching the gospel. He was ordained in 1834 and after ministering in the vicinity of his home, he felt a burden for the spiritual needs out west. Brother Murphy moved his family to western Missouri in 1839 and secured a home for them, before beginning an itinerant preaching ministry. The Lord blessed his work abundantly. In April 1840 a Baptist church was established in Enon, then in August the Mount Zion Baptist church was formed, followed by the Coon Creek church the following July. During his thirty-five year ministry, the Lord established thirty churches in several Missouri counties. After the death of his first wife, pastor Murphy married the widow Cedar, who labored beside him another 23 years. It was she who reported the death of her 73-year-old spouse with the words, “My husband’s death was a most triumphant one. He...

November 17

Juliette Pattison was born in 1808.  After the Lord saved her, she was baptized by her brother, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Providence, RI.  While teaching in Charlestown he met her future husband, J. G. Binney.  They married in 1833, and on this day ten years later they set sail for Burma as missionaries.  Neither the husband or the wife expected to live long in the hot and dangerous climate of Asia, but they were willing to spend their lives for their Saviour. In 1850, as Sister Binney’s health began to fail she wrote to her brother.  “As you see by the date of this letter I have entered on my fortieth year; and yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of my marriage; can you think of your ‘little sister’ as being so very old?  Joseph, I can see, is a little anxious about my health.  I am not.  I did not expect to live many years when I came to this country… My husband said yesterday that if on leaving his church in Savannah, he would have known that he would only live long enough to accomplish what the Lord has permitted us to do here, he would not have hesitated a moment.  Do not be alarmed, lest I grow worse, I should go home.  We have not the most distant idea of ever seeing your dear face again, though I would give anything short of sacrificing conscientious convictions to do so.” Mrs. Binney then returned home to the States, and she did see her brother’s face again.  While there she recovered and then returned to...

November 10

William Cate was born in 1807 in Jefferson County, Tennessee.   At the time, the religious condition of East Tennessee was said to be deplorable – overrun with lifeless paedobaptists.  Nevertheless, here and there souls were saved by the grace of God, and among them was William Cate. On this day (November 10) in 1837 he and his wife were immersed in water and joined the local Baptist Church.  Two and half years later Bro. Cates was ordained to the gospel ministry.  Instead of becoming a pastor, his first year was spent in itinerant preaching.  After twelve months he reported that he had preached about 200 sermons in 23 protracted meetings, and approximately 500 people had been saved.  Then he started working as a missionary. By 1842 he organized churches in Jonesboro, Elizabethton and Blountsville.  Later there were also new churches s in Rogersville, New Salem and Bristol.  For 18 years he pastored in Jonesboro, and at the close of his life, the membership stood at 170.  It is said that Bro. Cate was not a remarkable preacher – he lacked a solid education, but the Lord trained his mind and guided his heart. In 1851 he was scheduled to preach at the Baptist church at Dumplin, east of Knoxville.  Just prior to the meetings there was a notice posted on a tree close to the church-house which read, “Mr. William Cate.  It is generally believed you had better not come to this camp-meeting at Dumplin, lest you cause sinners to be lost; for they have no confidence in you.  They believe you are not seeking souls, but money.  Now...

November 3

Richard Miller did nothing to become famous among God’s servants on this earth.  But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been rewarded in Glory for his sacrifice and service to the Lord. Richard M. Miller was born in Seveir County, Tennessee on this day in 1815.  While a teenager he was born again.  When his family moved to Missouri, he joined the only Baptist church in the area.  Although with little formal education, the Lord called him into His service, first as a witness of God’s saving grace and then as a preacher.  Feeling self-conscious of his limitations, he confined his ministry to the backwoods. The Union Baptist Church in Osage County called for his ordination on July 8, 1843, and he became their pastor, but he soon extended his work into Johnson, Cass, Miller, Maries and Pulaski counties as well. At the time there was not a single major community in any of this region, nevertheless, Bro. Miller was able to gather a good number of converts in Pisgah, Pulaski county, and it was there he and his family eventually  settled. Miller preached the gospel on Sundays, visited the lost in the evenings and worked on his farm during the day.  One day while working in his field, he suffered a stroke.  His wife found him on the ground helpless and nearly speechless. Three days later he passed into the presence of the Lord. Today’s vignette could have been about Roger Williams who was banished from Massachusetts on this day in 1635.  Or we might have examined I.J. Stottard who set sail to become a missionary in Assam on...

October 27

Vavsor Powell was born into one of the leading families in North Wales.  He was given an excellent education, graduating from Jesus College, Oxford.  As an unsaved man he was ordained an Anglican minister.  Then one day a Puritan found him breaking the Sabbath by playing in some sort of sport and he soundly condemned him.  This lead to two years of mental agony over his sins.  By reading Puritan books and listening to their sermons the Lord gave Powell a new heart.  He left the Church of England, becoming an Independent and preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1642 Brother Powell joined the parliamentary army as a chaplain.  Following the war he returned to Wales with papers accrediting him as a Presbyterian minister.  For fourteen years there was scarcely a church, chapel, market place or field where he did not preach Christ. But then in 1656 he came to understand that the Bible taught Baptist doctrine, and he was immersed.  This brought about almost instant persecution.  On one occasion he along with fifty or sixty of his hearers were locked inside a church building at Brecknockshire, confined there for the night.  At midnight he preached from the text “Fear not them who kill the body.”  Not only were his friends stirred by the message, but so were their captors.  The next morning he was taken to the house of justice where a crowd gathered to condemn him.  But the judge was delayed.  While waiting for his arrival, Powell preached again.  The justice was indignant to find his house turned into a church, and even more...

October 20

Adam Burwell Brown was born on this day (October 20) in 1821. He was raised in Virginia and first educated by the Episcopalians. It was expected that he would become a priest of that denomination, but upon studying the Word of God, he became a Baptist. He attended Washington College and the University of Virginia. John A. Broadus, a fellow student of his later wrote, “Before the middle of the session it was apparent to me that he (Brown) was the foremost man of the class.” After completing school Brother Brown became engaged in mission work in Western Virginia and West Virginia. But then the War broke out. He joined the Southern forces and became a missionary chaplain. He loved evangelism and worked to start and strengthen churches wherever he could even during the conflict. When the war ended, he found that the churches and missions he had previously served had been decimated of their members and finances. To supplement his income and to feed his wife and family he farmed and taught school. At one point his wife had sacrificially saved a few dollars for her Pastor/husband to buy a vest. She surprised him with some cash just before he left for a fellowship meeting, instructing him to buy the needed vest before returning home. But during the meeting A. M. Poindexter made an impassioned plea for missionary support for foreign missions. Bro. Brown rose and said before a number of more wealthy men, “Here is money my wife gave me to buy a vest, but the vest may go, and I will do without, and foreign missions...