September 27

Dr. J. H. Campbell said of Humphrey Posey, in his book“Georgia Baptists,” that he was “naturally one of the greatest of men, and for his limited opportunities, one of the greatest preachers he had ever known. His person, his countenance, his voice, the throes of his gigantic mind, the conceptions of his large Christian soul – all proclaimed him great.” Brother Posey dedicated himself to the evangelism of the Cherokee Indians – people who lived throughout the mountains from Northern Georgia, through Tennessee and into North Carolina. His plan was to move to Cherokee County, NC, establish an 80-acre farm and open his heart and home to the local natives. On this day in 1821, after hearing that a group of brethren from Philadelphia were coming to help him, he wrote to his supporters, “Our school is doing very well; 40 Cherokees are still improving fast… I humbly hope day is broke in this wilderness. I have been able to undergo the fatigues of my situation entirely cheerful since I understood the dear brethren and sisters were coming on this fall. O for a heart of thankfulness to the Great Giver of all good, for His loving-kindness to the children of men.” Soon after the letter was sent, twenty-six people, including a preacher, several teachers, a blacksmith, farmers and a doctor arrived. The sacrifice of Brother Posey and others proved to be fruitful. By the time of the Cherokees’ removal to Oklahoma in 1838 hundreds had been converted and formed into churches. Just six years later, all the churches had new meet-houses in their new location; there was a...

September 20

Unlike New England, the Colony of Virginia nodded towards the Church of England as the only legal religious denomination within its borders. But the priests and prelates in Virginia arrived with the same hypocrisy and licentious behavior which drove the Puritans from the Anglican church in England and to the shores of Plymouth and Massachusetts. As Baptists from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England began to enter the colony, preaching repentance and a regenerated church membership, the Anglican clergy became furious. And when their constituents began to surrender to the Lord, joining the burgeoning Baptist congregations, the full force of the law was leveled against both preachers and their converts. In early September 1773 warrants were issued for the arrest of Nathaniel Saunders and William McClannahan who were teaching and preaching “Contrary to the Laws and Usages of the Kingdom of Great Britain, raising Sedition & Stirring up Strife amongst his Majestie’s Liege People.” On this day  in 1773, Nathaniel Saunders appeared before the court and was charged according to the warrant. Speaking in his own defense, he was unable to turn the predetermined minds of his accusers. He was found guilty and charged £200 (about $1,000), which the government knew was impossible for any ordinary man to pay. Then in “leniency” the court merely prohibited him “to teach, preach or exhort for the space of one year,” but he would not consent. Bro. Saunders accepted the alternative of going to the Culpeper jail, where he spent an undetermined period of time. Culpeper is infamous for imprisoning more Baptist preachers than any other county in Virginia or the rest...

September 13

John Taylor Jones was born into a Massachusetts Congregational family. While he was attending Andover College in preparation of becoming a Protestant minister, the Lord taught him the truth, and he began to attend the Baptist’s Newton Seminary. He was baptized and joined the Federal Street Baptist Church in Boston. In February 1831, Bro. and Mrs. Jones traveled to Moulmein, Burma where John quickly learned the Burmese and Taling languages. Taling was spoken by one of the tribes living in Siam. When the brethren decided to expand their ministry into Siam, John Jones was the most qualified to lead the way. After his arrival in Bangkok, it was clear that to have the Bible in the Taling language was extremely important, so along with regularly preaching, Jones applied himself to the monumental task of translation. In addition to the New Testament and several gospel tracts, Jones left important notes for future missionaries to use in their on-going work among the Talings. While on his last furlough in America, Columbian College honored Bro. Jones with the degree of Doctor of Divinity. Afterward he returned to Siam, where following an attack of dysentery the Lord called him home. His passing was on this day in...

August 6

At the close of the Revolutionary war Robert Carter was one of the wealthiest men in Virginia, owning 70,000 acres. He was a friend of other rich and powerful people including Thomas Jefferson. On this day (September 6) in 1778, Carter faced an audience of about 400 and clearly explained his conversion experience. He had been saved by the grace of God through the ministry of Lewis Lundsford. Lunsford then led him into the waters of Totuskey Creek and baptized him. Carter’s friends and neighbors thought he had lost his mind by rejecting the church of his ancestors and aligning himself with the despised Baptists. His conversion had been remarkable and obvious. His world had been literally turned upside down – he had rejected the religion of Thomas Jefferson and embraced the religion of Jefferson’s slaves. A few months earlier, in July of 1778, Carter wrote to his friend Jefferson: “I had imbibed the very destructive notion touching the religion of revelation that it was of human institution only, and that the civil powers had closed in with it for temporal advantage; only it does not appear fit to mention here the probable motives that led to this deistical opinion. I do now disclaim it and do testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; and that through Him (only) mankind can be...

August 30

Historians are pretty-well agreed that an Anglican from Gloucester, England, named Robert Raikes, started the first Sunday school.  It is also well-known that it had nothing to do with the Bible.  At a period when there were no child labor laws, Sunday was the only day in which kids had time to be taught to read and write.  That, with his social gospel background, was Raikes’ primary purpose.     On the other hand, a Baptist layman, named William Fox, a member of the Baptist Church in Prescott Street, Goodmans Fields, pastored by Abraham Booth, was the man to start the first Bible-based Sunday School.  It was on this day in 1785 that Fox called a meeting for the purpose of organizing a systematic teaching of the Bible to children.  From England the idea of Sunday schools swept across the Atlantic to enter Baptist churches in this country.     It is claimed that when the Frenchman Alexis de Tocquerville visited the United States he famously said, “I sought in vain for the secret of America’s greatness until I went into her Sunday schools and churches.  Then I understood why France is a slave and America is free.”     Only the Lord can assess the good that has been accomplished over the years by the systematic teaching of children and young people in Sunday schools across this...

August 23

In 1886 J.H, Spencer wrote “A History of Kentucky Baptists from 1769 to 1885″ in which he said, “If a traveller had passed through the whole breadth of the settled portions of North America, in 1799, he would have heard the songs of the drunkard, the loud swearing and the obscenity of crowds around taverns, and the bold, blasphemous vaunting of infidels, in every village and hamlet. If he had returned in 1801, he would have heard, instead, the proclamation of the Gospel to awed multitudes, earnest prayers in the groves and forests, and songs of praise to God, along all the public thoroughfares.” Spencer was describing a revival of God’s truth at the turn of the 19th century. In a letter dated August 23 1802, David Lilly described the revival which he witnessed in South Carolina. “A great work of God is going on in the upper parts of this State. Multitudes are made to cry out, ‘What shall we do to be saved?’ A few days ago, I returned from our [Associational meeting]. We have had a truly refreshing season. A vast concourse of people assembled on Saturday, and considerable appearances of solemnity soon took place; but no uncommon effect till Sunday later in the evening. Then the Lord was pleased to manifest his power to many hearts. “On Monday the work increased. The hearts of many were made to melt; and several men, noted for their impiety, were stricken and lay among the prostrate. I must acknowledge it was a memorable time with my soul…. Such a degree of brotherly affection as appeared among the ministers...

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...

August 9

On this day in 1804 John Gano departed this life while at his home near Frankfort, Kentucky. He had spent his long life in the service of his Saviour, first as an itinerant preacher, then as the pastor of two of the most important churches in America at Philadelphia and New York. While in New York, the Revolutionary War began, and Gano became the chaplain to General Clinton’s New York Brigade, serving during several battles. He described the battle of Chatterlou’s Hill this way, “My station, in time of action, I knew to be among the surgeons, but in this battle, I somehow got in the front of the regiment; yet I durst not quit my place, for fear of dampening the spirits of the soldiers, or of bringing on me an imputation of cowardice. Rather than do either I chose to risk my fate. This circumstance gave opportunity to the young officers for talking; and I believe it had a good effect upon some of them.” He became known as “the fighting chaplain” when, in fact, he never fired a weapon at any time during the war. Although there is no documented evidence, it is widely believed that Gano baptized George Washington who is said to have told the preacher, “I have been investigating the Scripture, and I believe immersion to be the baptism taught in the Word of God, and I demand it at your hands. I do not wish any parade made or the army called out, but simply a quiet demonstration of the ordinance.” After the war and rebuilding the church in New York, Gano...

August 2

The father of William Button was a faithful deacon at the church in Horsleydown which was pastored by John Gill. William was saved by God through that church and was baptized the same day as John Ryland, Jr, who later became a well-known Baptist preacher. William Button began preaching the gospel at the age of 19 and soon he was pastoring the Baptist church at Hitchin. In October 1771, Gill died and since one of the deacons of the church was a Button, William was asked to candidate, joining several others. Then in the fleshly manner so common among Baptists since the days of the Apostles, the church became divided – many wanted Button to become their pastor, while many others wanted Dr. John Rippon. In 1773 Rippon became the new leader of the Baptist church in Horsleydown. But many were so dissatisfied with the choice of the majority that they left and formed another church, asking William Button to become their pastor. On July 7, 1775 the church was established and William was ordained. Both churches prospered, leading many souls to Christ. Rippon and Button eventually became friends and worked together on many different projects. But it is a sad commentary on the hearts of Christian people that the two groups at Horseleydown could not have submitted to each other and to the Lord and avoided the split. We praise God for His grace and patience, and we praise Him for bringing good out of a bad situation. There is a tombstone in the Bunhill Fields cemetery in London which reads: “Mr. W. Button, Pastor of the Baptist...

July 26

In late 1681 William Screven was given authority by the Baptist church in Boston to attempt to build a church in Maine. Screven took his responsibility seriously, and the following year he asked that the Boston church oversee the organization of an autonomous church in Kittery, Maine. The following letter of approval was sent from Boston to Kittery – “Upon serious and solemn consideration of the church about a motion or request made by severall members that lived att Kittery, y(et) they might become a Church & that they might p-ceed therein provided they were such as should be Approved for such A Foundacon work, the Church gave there grant, and att ye time Appointed did send severall messengers to make y strict Inquiry and Examination as they ought in such A case who at there Returne brought y(et) Coppys here Inserted 26th of 7 mo 1682 [this day in 1682]. The Church of Christ at Boston y(et) is baptized upon profession of faith haveing taken into serious consideration ye Request of our Brethren at Kittery Relating to there being A Church by themselves y(et) soe they might Injoy the precious ordinances of Christ which by reson of distance of habitason they butt seldome could enjoy have therefore thought meet to make Choice of us whose names are und’written as Messengers to Assist them in ye same and coming to them we have found them A Competent Number and ye same faith with us for upon carefull examination of them in matters of Doctrine and practice & soe finding one with us by there (we hope) Conshencious Acknowledgement of...

July 19

It was Christmas day in 1766, in a poor Welsh home, that a baby boy was born. His parents decided to name him Christmas. As a child, after the death of his father, Christmas Evans had no opportunity for an education. When he was fifteen he still could not read. But at the age of eighteen he was born again through the work of an evangelistic Presbyterian minister. At that point, excited about the things of God, by serious application, in a matter of weeks Christmas learned to read his Bible. In the following months he read every book available to him, and he began to learn Hebrew, Greek and English as well. Intending to become a Protestant preacher, he started preparing a message against the Anabaptists. In the process he studied what the Bible taught about baptism and learned the truth. At the age of twenty-two he was immersed in the River Duar by the Baptist pastor, Timothy Thomas. And soon after, he began to preach the gospel of free grace. Christmas Evans went on to become one of the most God-blessed Welsh preachers in history. He led hundreds of his country-men to Christ and helped to establish dozens of churches. The exact numbers have been lost to history. He was six feet tall, built like an athlete, and he had only one eye, the other apparently was sown shut. The picture of Christmas Evans in “The Baptist Encyclopedia” makes him look like he had a perpetual wink. After his death, on this day (July 19) in 1838, Robert Hall said of him, “He was the tallest, stoutest,...

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...