April 22

Richard Fuller was born on this in 1804 in Beautfort, S.C. When he became of age, he entered Harvard College to study law and eventually became a lawyer. Back in Beaufort, Fuller heard the gospel preaching of Daniel Barker. A revival swept through the community and a great many of the more prominent residents were born again.. One of these was Richard Fuller. Later he said of his conversion, “My soul ran over with love and joy and praise. For days I could nether eat nor sleep” for joy. He had been raised an Episcopalian, but with his salvation he gave himself to the work of Christ among the Baptists. He was baptized and joined the Baptist Church in Beaufort. Soon after that he was ordained and became its pastor. When he first took the pulpit the church was weak, but after 15 years it had increased to about 200 white members and 2,400 blacks. In 1847 he left Beaufort to pastor the 87 members of the Seventh Baptist Church in Baltimore. Under his ministry it grew to about 1,200. At that point he departed with a few other members and started the Eutaw Place Baptist Church where he remained for five years before retiring to Heaven on October 20, 1876. The historian Thomas Armitage says of Richard Fuller, “The writer once heard him when he showed himself to be a perfect master of in the art of oratory, by denouncing the tricks of the orator in preaching. He wove one of the most fresh, vivid, and finished pieces of oratorical denunciation against dependence on pulpit oratorical effect that...

April 15

John Young was arrested in 1771 for preaching the gospel without a government license. He had license from his church, but as yet he had not been ordained. For six months, he and others were incarcerated in Virginia’s Caroline County jail. It was a great burden on the man because he was a widower and his elderly mother was left to tend his children. He and the other preachers we housed individually in their own rooms rather than in cells. There was only one tiny open window, high on the outside wall, giving the prisoner nothing but the sight of clouds, sky and stars. Each of the congregations of the incarcerated men discovered which window belonged to their pastor or preacher, and on the Lord’s day they would gather in turn before their respective windows, lifting a flag high enough to let the inmate know they were there, then they would hear him preach the Word of God. In this way many people were saved, prompting the authorities to declare, “These heretics make more converts in jail than they do when out.” On at least one occasion, with those authorities looking the other way, evil men set fire to oily rags, peppers and other materials trying to prevent the preaching of Christ. Two years after his imprisonment, Brother Young was ordained, becoming the pastor of the Reeds Church in lower Caroline County. While there, he was the first to sign a petition of 143 Christians, protesting the government’s tax for the support of “the teachers of the Christian religion.” About 1798 John Young moved to Amherst County where he...

April 8

On this day in 1801, Missionary Joshua Marshman recorded in this journal – “This morning Carey (Missionary William Carey) came to me in great haste, almost before I was awake. He had received a note from our good friend, Rev. David Brown concerning a matter of great moment, to which an immediate answer must be given. ‘He wishes to propose him as a Professor of Bengali in the new College. Would he give consent?’” William Carey never attended college, and he never considered himself to be particularly intelligent. He did not picture himself up to the task of teaching others anything but the simple gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, provided that the blessing of the Holy Spirit was with him. He was known by his co-workers as a thoroughly modest, meek and unassuming man. He wanted to decline the appointment, but wouldn’t do so without the direction of the Lord, and thus he appealed to his friends for their prayers. Despite his humility, Carey’s accomplishments were astounding. He spoke at least 17 languages, preaching in the vernacular, and speaking to an innumerable variety of lost souls about Christ. He helped to establish 20 churches. And in his spare time he produced grammars and lexicons in six different important languages. He superintended the translation of the Bible into 42 oriental tongues and made the Word of God available to more than a third of the world’s population. Toward the end of his life he confessed to a preacher friend that he never learned how to say one particular word. “I never could say ‘No.’ I began t preach in...

April 1

William Hickman was born in Virginia in 1747. While he was still a child both his parents died, and he went to live with his grandmother. The boy’s educational opportunities were limited, but his grandmother insisted that he learn to read his Bible – which he did. After several years of apprenticeship, learning a trade, he married the daughter of his master. When he heard that there were Separate Baptists in the area, he went to hear them, much against his wife’s wishes. Hickman came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but he went back to his business and successfully ignored his need of Christ and His salvation. Later Sarah Hickman, along with several neighbors, were converted to Christ. When she expressed a desire to be baptized, her husband refuse to allow it, vowing to prove from the Bible that her christening as a child was sufficient. But of course, the Bible offered him no proof at all, and after several months he consented to the baptism. Then in 1773, under the teaching of an itinerant preacher named David Tinsley, William Hickman was born again, and two months later he, too, was immersed. Since there was no pastor in the area, Hickman and four other young men, began preaching to their gathered families. Then on this day in 1776, Brother Hickman joined Brother Tinsley at the site of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and with a few others, they held the first Baptist church service in Kentucky. William Hickman displayed the ministerial gifts of the Holy Spirit and back in Virginia he was ordained. In 1788 the Hickman family took up...

March 25

William Batchelder was born on this day (March 25) in 1768. His parents were wealthy, devout Congregationalists from Boston. Through them he met another young Congregationalist named, Adoniram Judson. When he was thirteen both his parents died, and the young man was tossed between several relatives, eventually ending up with his grandfather. William had a heart for helping people – especially those who were disadvantaged. For example, on one occasion, a ship with Portuguese sailors was wrecked outside Boston harbor and William was there to help. His granddad owned a ironware factory and most of his employees were foreigners. When one of the workers was critically injured, William tried to speak to the man about the need of his soul. At that he was attacked by several of the other workers, and their animosity never subsided. William decided to preserve peace and to move on. In 1783 he took a position as a cabin boy on a ship bound for Puerto Rico. On its way down, the ship was attacked by a Bermuda privateer, and William won the appreciation of the sailors by his courage. Escaping the privateer, a few days later a hurricane drove them into the Gulf of Mexico and several sailors were lost. When they finally reached their destination, William and several men were sent up the coast in a small skiff to purchase salt, but their boat went down and the men became separated. Suffering from exhaustion and dehydration Batchelder approached a solitary hut in the wilderness – fearing the worst – but the occupant was a huge Portuguese man whom he had assisted during...

March 18

Edward Payson Scott was a pioneer missionary in a head-hunting region of Assam, in northeast India. On the day he first entered the remote area of Nagas, the first twelve men who saw him drew back their spears ready to kill him. But they hesitated just long enough for Scott to pulled out his violin and begin to play “Am I a solder of the Cross.” The music-loving tribesmen lowered their spears and the missionary was permitted to proceed into the one of the darkest places on earth, preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, Scott died about a year later of cholera. In the mean time – actually even before then – the Lord was preparing Scott’s replacement. Edward Clark had been born in New York in 1830. Christ saved him, and he graduated from Brown University in 1857. After his marriage, he and his wife moved to Logansport, Indiana, where Bro. Clark pastored and where he began to publish a successful Christian paper. In 1868 he was asked to take charge of the mission printing press in Sibsagor, the capital of Assam, India. After a long and difficult journey, the Clarks reached the mission field in 1869, the same year Edward Scott entered the Nagas territory, dying shortly thereafter. When the news of Bro. Scott’s death reached Sibsagor, the Clarks determined to take his place. For 17 years Bro. & Mrs. Clark labored among the Ao-Nagas. In addition to preaching Christ, Bro. Clark was able to reduce the Nagas language to writing, eventually publishing a dictionary and printing the Gospels and gospel tracts. In May,...

March 11

John Comer was born in 1704 and died just thirty years later. He had every intention of writing a Baptist history, but his early death rendered that impossible. He did however, keep a journal which was published by the Rhode Island Historical Society and called “The Diary of John Comer.” In it he describes the religious atmosphere of his day, including the Puritan’s persecution of people outside their religion. A part of that was the requirement by law that all residents of Massachusetts pay a yearly tax for the support of the State-sanctioned Protestant minister. Those who refused to pay were arrested and/or had their property sold at auction. Sometimes the non-conformists had their cattle, tools and properties purchased at rock bottom prices by the same ministers who the tax was designed to support – a double blessing, or curse, depending on your position in society. Isaac Backus used Comer’s diary and additional information, putting in his Baptist history that 28 Baptists, 2 Quakers and 2 Episcopalians were “seized and imprisoned at Bristol by Jonathan Bosworth and Jacob Ormsbee, constables of Rehoboth… Following Mr. Comer’s visit there, inasmuch as no other way appeared of deliverance from a nauseous place which had injured their health, but paying said taxes and costs, this was soon after done by their friends.” Comer’s diary dated March 3, 1729 notes, “A number of Baptists, Churchmen, and Quakers, in all 30 persons, belonging to ye township of Rehoboth, were committed to Bristol jail, by reason of their refusing to pay ye minister’s rate.” Then a week later, on this day, Comer added, “I went to...

March 4

During the early 17th century the Baptists in England were being persecuted for their faith and practices. For example, Samuel Oates was arrested and charged with murder because a woman he baptized unexpectedly died several weeks after he had baptized her. The government charged that the only explanation for her death was her cold-water baptism. The charges were eventually dismissed, but later a crowd of town’s people dragged Oates out of his house and threw him into the nearby river, boasting that they had thoroughly dipped (baptized) him. But then on this day (March 4) 1647 the English House of Lords and Commons published a declaration which, in essence, provided for some religious freedom. It read: “The name of Anabaptism hath indeed contracted much odium by reason of the extravagant opinions of some of that name in Germany, tending to the disturbance of the government, and the peace of all states, which opinions and practices we abhor and detest. But for their opinion against the baptism of infants, it is only a difference about a. circumstance of time in the administration of an ordinance, wherein in former ages, as well as in this, learned men have differed both in opinion and practice. And though we could wish that all men would satisfy themselves, and join with us in our judgment and practice in this point; yet herein we hold it fit that men should be convinced by the word of God, with great gentleness and reason, and not beaten out of it by force and violence.” That statement sounds good, but it must be remembered that the hearts of...

February 25

On this day in 1775 Thomas Scrivner was born. He grew up in North Carolina with little more education than the ability to read and write. When he was 19 he moved to Kentucky where he was saved and baptized, joining the Tates Creek Baptist Church. He returned to North Carolina to marry Miss Esther Hamilton. The couple moved around from Tennessee to Missouri before returning to Kentucky where they united with the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Glasgow. In 1827 at the age of 52, Brother Scrivner entered into the gospel ministry. The Lord blessed his labors. On July 4, 1829 he organized the Fountain Run Baptist Church, 20 miles from where he lived in Glasgow. He pastored that church for 30 years when he wore out from over work and had to retire. Thomas Scrivner lived in Glasgow, pastored at Fountain Run, but also regularly ministered in four other churches. Every Saturday he would mount his horse and ride 4 miles to Dover, or 10 miles to Peter’s Creek, or 22 miles to Gilead, or 20 miles to Indian Creek or to Fountain Run. It didn’t matter what the weather was doing, or how he was feeling, or what was going on with his wife and three sons. There were over 900 members in his 5 churches. He would spend two days with each church, preaching several times and counseling with those under the Lord’s conviction. He was not a great scholar or orator, but he was faithful to his flocks. He died on July 16, 1864 at nearly 90 years of...

February 18

On this day in 1880 Jeremiah Bell Jeter passed into the presence of his Saviour. Having mentioned his death, now we could talk about many important aspects of his life. For example, he was intensely mission-minded. When Adoniram Judson visited the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Jeter gave him such a welcome that it is still quoted today, especially in the biographies of the missionary. He was an extraordinary preacher. He delivered his first message as a nineteen-year-old just as he returned to the banks of the stream in which he was baptized. And he was an evangelist. During fourteen years of ministry in Richmond he baptized more than a thousand converts. He was a writer. At the close of the Civil War, Bro. Jeter became editor of The Religious Herald, which he hoped would be a tool for reconciliation between the Baptists of the North and the South. With February being Black History month, I’d like you to consider something else about J.B. Jeter. Like the First Baptist Church in Charleston, S.C. and many of the larger Baptist congregations in the South, at the close of the War, there were far more black members than whites. For example in Charleston there were 862 members in 1827 of which only 165 were white. The First Baptist in Richmond, when Jeter was called to pastor had 1,384 black members and many of them attended faithfully. Like most churches, the primary indication of any kind of segregation was in the seating arrangements – the blacks sat in one area, while the whites in another. It became immediately obvious to the new...

February 11

Over time Northern Europe threw off the yoke of Catholicism, becoming enslaved within Protestantism. The country of Estonia, for example, embraced Lutheranism. But in 1877 three Swedish missionaries began to preach a new doctrine among the Swedish immigrants within the country. The new doctrine included the need of personal repentance and faith in Christ. Crowds were drawn to the enthusiastic missionaries, and so many were converted that the government deported the preachers. But with that, many untrained national converts took up the work, preaching to Swedes and Estonians alike. These people were not Baptists, but their doctrine, especially their soteriology, was sufficiently Biblical that more and more new converts were being prepared for the Truth. There was at the time a German Baptist in St. Petersburg, Russia, named Adam Schiewe. When a few Estonian believers asked him to come over to help them, he agreed. After a period of preaching and teaching, on this day (February 11) in 1884 Schiewe baptized 9 people at Hapsal. Then the following day, when the temperature was reported to be 19 degrees, in full view of several thousand spectators, he baptized 15 more. A riot then ensued. Shots were fired and lumps of ice were thrown at the new converts. Perhaps showing God’s approval no one was seriously injured. Despite on-going persecution, Schiewe continued to visit and minister in Tallin, Estonia, while another German Baptist missionary started a church in neighboring Riga, Latvia. The believers endured a great deal of persecution and privation with such longsuffering and grace that eventually their neighbors began to appreciate their faith and way of life. Then things...

February 4

The biography of John Dillahunty is almost as strange as his name. His grandfather, David de la Hunte was a French Huguenot who fled to Ireland in his escape from the Catholics. John’s father and mother then immigrated to Maryland, where John was born in 1728. When John was of age he married a Quaker woman and was disowned by his parents so he moved to New Bern, North Carolina, where he became the sheriff. New Bern was one of the places where George Whitefield ministered, and as sheriff, John undoubtedly heard his preaching – but he was not yet converted. In 1755 Shubal Stearns and Daniel Marshall moved to North Carolina. Under the preaching of the Separate Baptists, John and Hannah Dillahunty were converted to Christ and were immersed under the authority of a Baptist Church. Soon John began preaching. When the Revolutionary War began, the local congregation of the Church of England lost its pastor – he fled to England. The church then asked John Dillahunty to fill their pulpit, which he did on a regular basis. Over time most of the congregation grew to accept his Baptist doctrine. After the war, the vestry, similar to a deacon board, voted to give the church property to Bro. Dillahunty, desiring to become a Baptist Church. Their wish was granted, although they kept their original name “Chinqauapin Chapel. Then in 1794 Dillahunty lead six families from the church to immigrate to the hill country of Middle Tennessee, where they established the Richland Creek Baptist Church just west of Nashville. In the mean time the Chinqauapin Chapel continued to flourish...

January 28

As far as the United States is concerned, the most important member of the Church of England in this country has been George Whitefield. He was unlike any Anglican to have ever come to this country; he had become a Methodist, and he was a preacher of the gospel. On several occasions he traveled from Georgia and the Carolinas up to Massachusetts. In New England many Congregationalists were converted under his preaching and became evangelical themselves, earning the nickname “New Lights.” Many of these men subsequently learned the truth about the ordinances and became Baptists. Three of the better known of these men were Isaac Backus – important in the fight for liberty; Daniel Marshal – the apostle to Georgia and Shubal Sterns – the father of the Separate Baptists. Shubal Stearns was born on this day (January 28) in 1706. At the age of 45 he became a Baptist and on May 20, 1751 he was ordained to the gospel ministry. After moving to Virginia with his brother-in-law, Daniel Marshal, where together they had a somewhat meager ministry, some friends contacted him from North Carolina, inviting him to minster among them. Sometime after his arrival, a church was constituted, not too far from where John Gano was then pastoring. The blessings of the Lord fell on Sterns’ ministry and the Sandy Creek church grew from 16 to over 600 members. But the blessing were not confined to just this one church. Sterns and his associates traveled a great deal, and churches were started all over the Carolinas, throughout Virginia and down into Georgia. Shubal Sterns died on November...

January 21

On this day (January 21) in 1672, John Bunyan was called to the pastorate of the Bedford Church, but Bunyan is not our subject today. In that same meeting, there were seven other men consecrated to the ministry, including Nehemiah Coxe. Coxe was later described as “a very excellent, learned and judicious divine,” although at the time he was earned his living as a shoemaker – which was then known then as a “cordwainer.” Not only was Bunyan arrested at Bedford, so was Coxe. At his trial, he introduced himself and presented his case in the Greek language, and then when the charges were laid against him he responded in Hebrew. When no one in the courtroom could reply, the judge dismissed the case, saying “Well, the cordwainer has wound us all up, Gentlemen.” Coxe eventually moved to London, where he learned and successfully practiced medicine. Ultimately, he accepted a call to become the co-pastor of the Petty-France Baptist Church which he then served for 20 years through a period of great...

January 14

At the close of the War Between the States, southern civilians fled before the advancing Union armies, leaving some communities with nothing but chaos and confusion.  During the war there had been scores of Baptist church buildings which had been stripped of their furnishings to be used as hospitals, stables and barracks.     In 1864 the American Baptist Home Mission Society noted: “In almost every city, town and village taken by our army, there has been found a deserted Baptist meeting-house.”  No doubt with honorable intentions, the Society asked the War Department for authority take over abandoned Baptist buildings throughout the South.  And on this day (January 14) in 1864 the War department notified its military personnel: “You are hereby directed to place at the disposal of the American Baptist Home Mission Society all houses of worship belonging to Baptist Churches South, in which a loyal minister does not now officiate.”  The definition of a “loyal minister” was not addressed, and sometimes more abuse followed.     Records indicate that about half of all the Baptist churches in the south had their memberships and buildings devastated.  But there was no need for governmental or even well-intentioned societies to step in and confiscate those properties.  Had the military simply protected those buildings from theft and destruction, eventually the original owners – the membership of those churches – would have returned, repaired and reused their buildings in the service of the...