November 22

On this day (Nov. 22) in 1755 sixteen Baptists, originally from New England, formed the Sandy Creek Baptist church in what is now northern North Carolina. The church immediately called Brother Shubal Sterns to become their under shepherd and leader. With the blessing of God, the congregation quickly grew to more than six hundred. Elder Sterns, not a particularly great orator, but he passionately preached salvation through the free grace of the sovereign God, and hundreds of souls were born again. One of the founding members of Sandy Creek was Daniel Marshall who took the missionary spirit into Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. Soon other believers, like Dutton Lane and Samuel Harriss, began to take up the mantle of the ministry, and the blessings of God spread like wild fire. Morgan Edwards, an historian associated with the Philadelphia Baptist Association, wrote “Sandy Creek is the mother of all the Separate Baptists. From this Zion went forth the word, and great was the company of them who published it. This church, in seventeen years, has spread her branches west as far as the great river Mississippi; southward as far as Georgia; eastward to the sea and Chesapeake Bay, and northward to the waters of the Potomac; it, in seventeen years, is become mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, to forty-two churches, from which sprang 125...

More than eight thousand people attended the funeral service of William Knibb who died of yellow fever on this day (Nov. 15) in 1845. Bro. Knibb served as one of the first Baptist missionaries in Jamaica. When he first reached his field, he was shocked at what he found. In a letter home, he wrote, “The cursed blast of slavery has, like a pestilence, withered almost every moral bloom. I know not how any person can feel a union with such a monster, such a child of hell. For myself, I feel a burning hatred against it, and look upon it as one of the most odious monsters that ever disgraced the earth.” Driven by compassion, he immediately began his work of evangelism among the slaves. But in doing so he incurred the hatred of white planters, civil authorities, British soldiers and the Roman and English clergy. Despite the opposition against him, the Lord began to bless his labors. In addition to his Sunday services, he held Wednesday morning prayer meetings at which there were often more than a thousand slaves in attendance. With such influence, he was thrown in jail, unjustly charged with inciting the slaves to rebellion. After several years, Bro. Knibb returned to England with the hopes of having slavery outlawed. He stirred many Baptist Churches to join him and earned the friendship of such men as William Wilberforce. Eventually success was achieved. Having returned to Jamaica, on July 31, 1838, twenty-five years before President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, a mahogany coffin, packed with whips, branding irons and other symbols of slavery was lowered into a grave...

November 8

The Cloughfold Baptist Church in England had its beginning in 1692 when two cousins, David Crossley and William Mitchel wanted to establish a “Protestant Dissenters” congregation. David Crossley was raised by a godly aunt and trusted Christ for his salvation before he was twelve. His cousin William Mitchel was brought to repentance and faith when he was nineteen – after the tragic death of his brother. William quickly began to grow in grace, and soon he was pastoring at Cloughfold, publically preaching Christ – for which he was arrested. While he was in prison, David became pastor of the congregation. At about that time David met John Bunyan and other Baptists, and he began studying what his Bible said about the ordinances of the church. On August 16, 1692, he was baptized. Shortly after William’s release from prison, he too was immersed. Over the next few years, the cousins lead their congregation to join them in the scriptural observance of baptism, and the Cloughfold Baptist Church was established. More than a century later, on this day (November 8) 1828 the church borrowed £45 to build a schoolhouse for their burgeoning Sunday School. Five years later the loan was repaid with interest. In 1876 a history of the Cloughfold Church was written.. In one chapter the author noted – “An important item in connection with the Sunday School is its library of nearly 800 volumes. It was founded in 1834. This institution had done excellent service during the forty-one years of its existence by supplying the scholars with instructive reading. We cannot, however, help recording our regret at the great...

November 1

In 1755 a church was established in North Carolina made up of refugees from New Jersey. It was called “Jersey Settlement,” and their first pastor was John Gano. When the local Indians made life miserable for the settlers, Gano returned north and many members fled from the area, greatly reducing the size and strength of the church. Then on this day in 1874 they called J. B. Richardson to become their undershepard. When even more people moved from the area and spiritual apathy settled on the Swearing Creek area, Bro. Richardson made arrangements for the visit of Elder F. M. Jordan. In the evangelist’s report, he said “I don’t know that I ever felt or witnessed more of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit both in the heart of saint and sinner. I preached a short sermon and many came forward for prayer. The meeting continued nine days. We had a prayer meeting every morning at 10:00 and by 9 o’clock the hill was lined with people, and inquiring souls were finding the Saviour precious to their souls. The whole community was moved by the power of the Holy Ghost. It was difficult to preach, indeed it did not seem to require much preaching; just pray and sing and rejoice. Sunday, the the last day of the meeting, was a memorable day in the history of old Jersey Church. A large number had been received, and were to be baptized. There was a nice stream running near the church, through a body of large timber, a beautiful place for baptism. The brethren prepared two large tents near...

October 25

Allen Wyley, a resident of Culpeper, Virginia, was born again as a young man and was baptized by David Thomas in 1765. He earnestly prayed that a Baptist preacher would come to his community to establish a church. One day when he heard that the Separate Baptist, Samuel Harris was nearby, he set out to find him. When they finally met, Harris sensed that Wyley had a message from God, and he determined to return with him to Culpeper to preach Christ. That was the beginning of a lengthy period of persecution in the area, but it didn’t deter either Wyley or Harris. Some months later, in Orange county, Mr. Wyley was arrested while preparing a meeting place for the visit of another Baptist evangelist. The court order reads, “This day Allan Wiley, John Corbley, Elijah Craig and Thomas Chambers [are] charged as Vagrant and Itinerant Persons… for Assembling themselves unlawfully at Sundry Times and Places Under the Denomination of Anabaptists and for Teaching and preaching Schismatick Doctrines. Whereupon the Court [is] of the opinion that the said Allen Wiley, John Corbley, Elijah Craig and Thomas Chamber are Guilty… and [are] Ordered [to] enter into Bond each in the sum of 50 pounds… until the 25th of October next and in case they fail to Enter into Such Bond as aforesaid that Each of Them so failing Shall be committed to Gaol Until the Same Shall be performed.” Although Wyley was never ordained, as a godly layman he began openly witnessing of his Saviour, and this ministry eventually moved him to Stafford County. He became a founding member of...

October 18

Massachusetts and Plymouth were two separate colonies, both established by Protestant dissenters. Over time the Plymouth colony became more amenable towards other faiths, but it was not so in Massachusetts. On this day (October 18) in 1649 the Court of Massachusetts sent the following letter to Plymouth expressing their hatred of the Baptists in the region. Honored and beloved Brethren: We have heretofore heard diverse Anabaptists, arisen up in your jurisdiction, and connived at; but being few, wee well hoped that it might have pleased God, by the endeavors of yourselves and faithful elders with you, to have reduced such erring men againe into the right way. But now, to our great grief, wee are credibly informed that your patient bearing with such men has produced another effect, namely, the multiplying and increasing of the same errors, and wee fear of other errors also, if timely care be not taken to supressed the same. Particularly wee understand that within a few weeks there have been in Sea Cuncke thirteen or fourteen persons rebaptized (a swift progress in one towne; yett wee heare not of any effectuall restriction is intended thereabouts). Lett it not, wee pray you, seem presumption in us to remind you hereof, nor that wee earnestly intreate you to take care as well of the suppressing of error, as the maintenance of the truth, God equally requiring the performance of both at the hands of Christian magistrates, but rather that you will consider our interest is concerned therein. The infection of such diseases [like the immersion of adult believers], being so near us, one likely to spread...

October 11

John Clark (not John Clarke) was born in 1758 near Inverness, Scotland. His father was a wealthy farmer, which meant that John was given a good education, including Latin and Greek. To the consternation of his mother, John left school and eventually became a sailor. After several voyages, he signed on to be the second mate on a pirate ship bound for the West Indies. When his ship was captured during the American Revolution, he spent several months as a prisoner of war. Following a prisoner exchange he was placed on a British man-of-war patrolling the coast off Charleston, SC, but he and a friend decided to jump ship. When the war ended Clark remained in America, teaching school for a while. When two Methodist circuit riders took rooms in the same boarding house with Clark, he heard their message, was convicted of his need of Christ, was born again, and became a Methodist Bible teacher, eventually becoming a circuit riding preacher. Later as he compared Methodism with his Bible, he learned about the believer’s eternal security in Christ which ran contrary to most Methodists, and then he began to disagree with their Episcopal form of church government. Finally, on a long circuit into Kentucky and down to Louisiana, he recognized that infant baptism was unscriptural. After some time, he was immersed and joined a Baptist church. John Clark was a tireless servant of God, often traveling 1,200 miles or more on single trips – of which there were many. He would preach Christ in every home opened to him. On one occasion, when he was 70 years of...

October 4

The first thing any scriptural missionary must do on the field is preach the Word. Once a soul is saved, that missionary should baptize him and then begin to teach him what it is to live for Christ. That third part of the Great Commission eventually necessitates copies of the written word. To assist the first missionaries in Burma, George Hough, a printer, left America for the mission field, arriving in 1815. When war broke out between the British and the Burmese, Hough returned home. At that point God then raised up Cephas Bennett to take his place. Bennett was born in 1804 in Homer, New York – the son of a missionary-minded Baptist pastor. On this day in 1829, Cephas and his bride arrived in Calcutta, India, where they spent several months observing the work of William Carey, then in January of the following year they sailed for Maulmain, Burma. There Bennett labored hard to print the Bibles, tracts and lesson materials that Adoniram Judson and the other missionaries needed. But his heart yearned to do more. When his health broke and he had to return to the States, he prepared himself for ordination. In 1842 he returned to Burma as a gospel preacher who could also run a printing press. He stayed so busy in both responsibilities that it is said that every literate Burman in Rangoon was given a gospel tract or a Bible, and many of those who could not read heard of Jesus through the preaching of the Word. The result was that hundreds sought the missionaries every week to learn more about salvation...

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...