Oliver Hart, a particular favorite of mine, was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1723. Early in life he was exposed to the preaching of George Whitefield, the Anglican, the Tennents, a father and son who were Presbyterians, and Edward and Able Morgan, two Baptists. After the Lord saved his soul, he was baptized by Jenkins Jones, becoming a member of the Baptist church in Southampton, Pennsylvania.
After his ordination in 1749, Oliver felt called of God to visit Charleston, South Carolina. The day he arrived, the only ordained Baptist preacher in the city died. His church felt that God providentially sent a replacement for their beloved pastor. For thirty years Brother Hart lead the First Baptist Church, one of the most important churches in the south.
When the British took Charleston during America’s War for Independence, Hart was forced to flee. Shortly thereafter he was called to pastor the church in Hopewell, New Jersey, the home of John Gano and James Manning. He served that church for fifteen years. Although not privileged to receive a college education, Hopewell was the home of the first Baptist secondary school in the country, which ultimately developed into the first Baptist seminary and university. Hart was eventually given an honorary Master of Arts degree by Brown College, which was then under the leadership of James Manning.
After a long and prosperous ministry, primarily in two churches, Oliver Hart passed away on the last day of 1795 at the age of seventy-two.