“Take heed to yourself”: Abraham Booth (1734-1806)

October 19, 2007

As part of a “heads up” to all you Baptist Historians out there, I wanted to cite a passage from an ordination sermon preached by Booth at the ordination of Thomas Hopkins in 1784. It is found in Michael A. G. Haykin with Alison E. Haykin, eds.The Works of Abraham Booth (Springfield, MO: Particular Baptist Press, 2006), p. 69.

First the quote:

“Take heed to yourself, respecting the motives by which you are influenced in all your endeavours to obtain useful knowledge. For if you read and study, chiefly that you may cut a respectable figure in the pulpit; or to obtain and increase popular applause; the motive is carnal, base, and unworthy a man of God. Yet, detestable in the sight of Him who searches the heart as that motive is, there will be the greatest necessity for you to guard against it as a besetting evil. It is, perhaps, as hard for a minister habitually to read and study with becoming diligence, without being under this corrupt influence; as it is for a tradesman prudently to manage a lucrative business, without seeking the gratification of a covetous disposition: yet both the minister and the tradesman must either guard against these pernicious evils, or be in danger of sinking in final ruin.”

They don’t preach ordination sermons like that anymore! A strong reminder to those of us engaged in the work of the ministry!

Now the announcement:

Be on the lookout for a new volume on Booth to come out from Particular Baptist Press in the near future. Over at SBC Witness they had noted there was only one full-length treatment of Booth. Now, a multi-author work, with an introduction from John Briggs and papers by Sharon James, Kenneth Dix, Michael Haykin, Robert Oliver, and Aaron Menikoff, will be released shortly honouring the recent bicentennial of Booth’s death in 2006. These were papers presented at a recent conference last year dedicated to Booth.

So, be on the lookout for this major new work treating the life and thought of a key Baptist figure:

“The First Counsellor of our Denomination”: The Life & Ministry of Abraham Booth (1734-1806) edited by Michael A. G. Haykin with Allen R. Mickle from Particular Baptist Press.

John Collett Ryland… Hyper-Calvinist?

October 11, 2007

Over at the blog of my boss, Michael Haykin, he has an interesting post about John Collett Ryland, father of John Ryland, Jr., famed Evangelical Calvinist and friend of Andrew Fuller, William Carey, Robert Hall, Jr., John Sutcliff, and Samuel Pearce. In it, he argues that Ryland, Sr. was not a hyper-Calvinist despite his notoriously difficult to historically reconstruct argument with William Carey (see my previous post on the issue here). I have always agree with Dr. Haykin that Ryland, Sr. was not a hyper-Calvinist for the reasons he lists. Yet, Dr. Malcom Yarnell, a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, argues differently, and makes some good points. I am curious as to what others think? Was Ryland, Sr. a hyper-Calvinist or wasn’t he? You can see the post and interaction here.

A Question in Baptist Historiography

April 1, 2007

This has come up on another blog so I figured I would address the issue here. A question of historiography arises in Baptist History particularly in the life of William Carey. Many take it to be a cut and dry issue but it is hardly. Let’s start with some context around the question.

William Carey (1761-1834), affectionately known as the “Father of Modern Missions,” in 1785 met with other men from churches in what was called the Northamptonshire Association. These regular meetings were a time for exchanging of ideas, fellowship, and spiritual encouragement. At this meeting it was asked for someone to propose a topic for discussion. Carey proposed a theme on which he had given much thought.

“Whether the command given to the apostles to teach all nations was not binding on all succeeding ministers, to the end of the world, seeing that the accompanying promise was of equal extent.”

This is where the question arises. The issue is not with Carey’s question but with the answer that was given to the question. There are a number of options.

John Webster Morris, who was pastor of Clipston Baptist Church in Northamptonshire, who was present at the meeting wrote that John Ryland, Sr.  responded with,

“You are a miserable enthusiast for asking such a question. Certainly nothing can be done before another Pentecost, when an effusion of miraculous gifts, including the gift of tongues, will give effect to the commission  of Christ as at first. What, Sir! Can you preach in Arabic, in Persic, in Hindustani, in Bengali, that you think it your duty to send the gospel to the heathens?”

John C. Marshman, the son of Carey’s co-worker in India, Joshua Marshman, reported that Ryland, Sr. said,

“Young man, sit down. When God pleases to convert the heathen, he will do it without your aid or mine!”

In contrast to these two versions is the response of John Ryland, Jr. about the situation. He denies it even happened.

“I well remember the discussion of this question, which fully occupied the evening. Another had been discussed, after dinner, respecting village-preaching–What was a sufficient call, to attempt introducing it into places where it had not been usual before?–which, therefore, seems to leave no room for that ill-natured anecdote, respecting my father and young Carey, to have taken place this year, which is said to have been before the end of 1786; whereas my father had left Northampton before the Minister’ Meeting in 1786. And I must consider it as very unlikely to have occurred in 1785, for several strong reasons. I never hard of it, till I saw it in print, and cannot credit it. No man prayed and preached about the latter-day glory, morethan my father; nor did I ever hear such sentiments proceed from his lips, as tre there ascribed to him.”

Whatever the facts, it is true that among many Calvinistic Baptists in this period there would have been some who would have uttered these sentiments. The question though is did John Ryland, Sr. utter these kind of sentiments? Ryland was hardly a hyper-Calvinist but it would not have been unusual for even evangelical Calvinists to say similar things. Even Fuller was a little taken aback by Carey’s  proposal. He had himself said, “If the Lord should make windows in heaven, might such a thing be!”

What is the true scenario that happened? Who is to know for sure. But it is one of those interesting questions in Baptist History. Let us not just quote John Marshman’s statement about what happened without stating that there is a debate about this event in the life of William Carey.

My Favourite Baptist History Blogs

April 1, 2007

The benefit of a blog is to be able to share your thoughts with people who do not always get to see you in person. In turn, you get the opportunity to learn from others. Since one of the main focuses of my blog is on Baptist history I wanted to share with you some of my favourite Baptist history blogs. I rank them in no particular order.

Historia Ecclesiastica

Dr. Michael A. G. Haykin, Principal and Professor of Church History and Reformed Spirituality at Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College has in my opinion one of the best Church History blogs around. In fact I think he is one of the best Church Historians in the world (and that’s not just because he’s my boss!). His particular areas of expertise are in the Ancient Church, Baptist History, and Spirituality. His blog is carefully thought out, and tremendously applicational!

Nathan A. Finn

Nathan Finn, Ph.D. student in Church History at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is one of the bright up-and-comers in Church History. His insight in particular into the Southern Baptist Convention. He also has a keen interest in 18th century British Baptists which in my opinion is one of the most fascinating areas of Baptist History (and that’s not just because I’m doing my dissertation in that area!). Keep your eye on this blog.

Pastor Steve Weaver’s Blog

Steve Weaver, a Th.M. student at Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College and Pastor of West Broadway Baptist Church in Lenoir City, Tennessee. His love for Baptist History is evident in his blog postings especially on Hercules Collins. His being a pastor is also most helpful as he seeks to show how studying Baptist History can actually be life changing!

Praisegod Barebones

Bart Barber’s blog is extremely helpful in understanding Southern Baptist History. He also has a keen interest in areas of British Particular Baptist life which is always great. Plus, I agree with Nathan that he has the best Baptist blog name anywhere! He is gracious and helpful in clarifying complex issues in Baptist History.

Check out all of these blogs. They will help you in your understanding of Baptist History immensely!

Blog on Neglected Baptist Pastor and Hymn Writer – Benjamin Beddome

March 2, 2007

If you have an interest in Baptist History you need to check out this blog by Gary Brady on the much neglected Baptist Pastor and Hymn Writer Benjamin Beddome (1717-1795). It has one of the best biographical descriptions of Beddome and does an excellent job treating his writings, hymns, and other various parts of his life and theology.

Tremendous New Resource for the Study of Baptist History

February 2, 2007

A new resource exists out there on the WWW for the study of Baptist History. It is called Baptist Studies Online. It includes an annual peer-reviewed journal (The Journal for Baptist Studies), primary documents, relevant links for Baptist Studies, and announcements from the academic world of Baptist Studies. I am including below the information from the website regarding “About Baptist Studies Online.”



Baptist Studies Online (BSO) is a website dedicated to the study of Baptist history and thought, with special emphasis on Baptists in North America. The purpose of BSO is to facilitate the scholarly study of Baptists by making available to researchers and students an online journal, a primary source library, a comprehensive collection of Baptist history-related links, and a regularly updated list of announcements related to the field. BSO is a collaborative effort by Baptist scholars from a variety of traditions, with technical support provided by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

The Journal of Baptist Studies

At the heart of BSO is The Journal of Baptist Studies (JBS). JBS is an electronic, peer- reviewed journal dedicated to the study of Baptist history and thought. The journal is produced under the editorial oversight of a Board of Editors representing numerous Baptist denominations and both religious and secular institutions. JBS does not advocate a particular theological or denominational agenda, but rather reflects the scholarship of individuals who identify with a number of positions and affiliations. The editor of JBS is Keith Harper, professor of Church History at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Unlike many print journals, JBS is not a biannual or quarterly publication. Rather, JBS publishes articles as they clear the peer-review process. Every year of publication represents a single volume of JBS, similar to an annually published print periodical. JBS welcomes article submissions related to any field of Baptist history. For more information about the article submission process, please see our Submission Policies or email JBS editor Keith Harper.

One of the unique features of JBS is the book reviews. Whereas most journals focus on recent publications in their chosen field of study, JBS reviews significant books in Baptist studies that are both current and “classic,” as well as works that are broader than Baptist studies but have direct bearing on the craft of Baptist history. If you are interested in reviewing a book for JBS, please see the appropriate section under our Submission Policies or email JBS associate editor Nathan Finn.

Primary Source Library

Baptist Studies Online is more than just an online journal. One of the most helpful features of the website is an ever-expanding library of primary source material related to Baptist history and identity. The site will eventually include confessions, circular letters, sermons, biographies, and a variety of other materials helpful to researchers. The ultimate goal is to provide a library that is representative of every branch of Baptists, particularly in North America. If you would like to suggest a primary source to be added to BSO, please email JBS editor Keith Harper.

Baptist Studies Links

The ongoing growth of the internet has greatly enhanced the ability of researchers to connect with various historical societies, study centers, and archives/repositories related to Baptist history. BSO is building a comprehensive list of helpful links as a guide to the wealth of Baptist studies-related material available on the internet. If you would like to suggest a link to be added to BSO, please email JBS associate editor Nathan Finn.


Like many print journals or study center websites, BSO is committed to keeping scholars and students of Baptist history informed about happenings in the field of Baptist studies. To that end, BSO will regularly alert readers to upcoming conferences, funding opportunities, and other information of interest. If you would like to add a forthcoming event or other announcement to BSO, please email JBS associate editor Nathan Finn.

Join Our Email List

We want to keep you informed about what we are doing at BSO. If you would like to receive email updates from BSO whenever new JBS articles, book reviews, and primary sources are added to the website, please send an email to JBS editor Keith Harper. Your confidentiality is guaranteed; BSO will never share your email address or any other personal information with any third party for any reason.


This will prove to be an invaluable resource for the study of Baptist History. Keith Harper and Nathan Finn should be commended for providing this to the online community. I hope to submit my own paper to the JBS in the near future!

Hercules Collins at Steve Weaver’s Blog

December 28, 2006

All of you Baptist Historians out there. Make sure you check out Steve Weaver’s blog. He is doing his Th.M. under Michael Haykin at Toronto Baptist Seminary and is studying Collins. Collins, a 17th century Baptist, is much neglected in Baptist studies. Read his introductory post to Collins and keep on the look out on more about Collins to come!

Baptist History Celebration

December 9, 2006

Attention all those interested in Baptist History. August 1-3 you should be in Charleston, South Carolina for the Baptist History Celebration! In celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Philadelphia Baptist Association (the oldest Baptist association in America) a number of leading Baptist historians from around the world will be descending upon Charleston to celebrate this milestone. Drs. Michael Haykin, Tom Nettles, and Jim Renihan are just a few of the heavy-weights that will be there.

Lord willing I will be attending myself (although that makes two Baptist History conferences in August what with the Andrew Fuller conference at SBTS) and hope to see some folks I know there!