I have mentioned pastor and evangelist John Waller many times, but you probably won’t remember him until I remind you that his nickname was “Swearing Jack,” due to his very worldly former life.

After his conversion, Waller became an highly successful Baptist preacher in Virginia in the late 18th century. But the Lord’s blessings on his ministry brought severe persecution from the Episcopal state church.

On one occasion while he was preaching, a huge man stormed up to the pulpit and pulled him down, trying to drag him out of the building by his hair. But then an equally stout friend ran to Waller’s rescue. One took hold of one hand and the other of the other hand so that between them the poor preacher was about to lose both arms. He said that the hurt remained with him for many weeks.

On another occasion, while in a private home, Waller was leading a few Baptist brethren in singing some gospel hymns, when the local Episcopal parson came in and started running the end of his horse whip into the preacher’s mouth or laying it across the hymn book. Finishing the singing Bro. Waller proceeded to prayer. At that point he was violently jerked off the stage and out the door; a couple men caught him by the back part of his neck, beating his head against the ground, and then they carried him through a gate into the street, where someone gave him about twenty lashes with his horse whip. Then after they carried him out to where the parson gave him an abominable tongue lashing. When Brother Waller was released, he went back into the house singing praise to God, before preaching with a great deal of liberty.

Such was the condition of religious liberty in the early days of this country.

John Waller served the Lord for over 35 years in Virginia and South Carolina. He baptized more than 2,000, assisted in ordaining 27 ministers and in starting eighteen churches.

He died on the 4th of July in 1802 when he was 62 years old.