November 26

Baptist associations and organized fellowships always (almost always???) take upon themselves more authority than the Bible allows. One case in point involves John Newton.

This John Newton was born in Kent County, Pennsylvania, in the year 1732. After his salvation and baptism, he moved to North Carolina where he became associated with the Sandy Creek Baptist Church and the Separate Baptists. When Daniel Marshall and Philip Mulkey (who had been converted under Newton’s witness) gathered a group of believers together in South Carolina, the Congaree Baptist Church was organized and John Newton became their regular preacher. But it was three years later that he was ordained. In February 1768 Oliver Hart and Evan Pugh, both Regular Baptists, ordained Newton and another man, Joseph Reese. When the men of the Sandy Creek Association heard of the ordination, they censored both men, demanding that their church discipline them. Newton felt that he had done nothing wrong and insisted that Sandy Creek had no authority over his church. Which, of course, was true. (Incidentally, the “Separate” Sandy Creek Association held very little doctrinal difference with the “Regular” Philadelphia Association, and the two groups eventually merged. The differences basically lay in how the groups originally began and how they conducted their public services.)

John Newton eventually moved to Georgia where he faithfully served his Saviour. He was a friend of Richard Furman and sometimes preached in the historic First Baptist Church of Charleston.

On this day (Nov. 26) in 1790, in his fifty-eighth year, and while a member of the Providence Baptist Church in Wilkes County, Georgia Newton departed this life. He was buried on the banks of the Ogeechee River and a few days later a memorial service was conducted by Tomas Mercer.