8-29 A Well-Rounded, Faithful Man of God

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    This Day in Baptist History, E. Wayne Thompson and David L. Cummins

    8-29 A Well-Rounded, Faithful Man of God
    Scripture: II Timothy 4:6

    Thomas Baldwin was born on December 23, 1753, in Bozrah, Connecticut. Early in life he cultivated a taste for books and decided to prepare himself for the legal profession. When he was seventeen years of age, young Baldwin fell under conviction and called upon the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. Soon he felt he must declare himself in favor of Baptist doctrine. He severed his ties with the denomination in which he had been raised, and subsequently many of his friends parted company with him.

    Upon moving to Canaan, New Hampshire, Baldwin, though a young man, was chosen to represent his village as legislator in the General Court of the State. However, the Master had other plans for him. In due time, Baldwin decided to spend his life in the work of the ministry. On June 11, 1783, Thomas Baldwin was ordained and for seven years performed the duties of pastor in the Baptist church in Canaan.

    When the thirty-six-year-old pastor of the Second Baptist church of Boston, Massachusetts, passed away, “the committee of the church…had their attention providentially directed to Rev. Thomas Baldwin, as a ‘good minister of Jesus Christ.’”(1) He was invited to fill the pulpit for three months. “Soon a unanimous call was given him, and on the 11th of November, 1790, he was installed over the people, with whom he continued the rest of his useful life.”(2) Baldwin pastored there for thirty-five years and became a dominant force among early Baptists in America.

    Baldwin was an excellent pastor, and the church experienced continual growth. “In the year of 1791 not far from seventy were added to the church, and in 1803 commenced another revival, the fruit of which was an addition to the church of 212 persons.”(3) “He also served as a member of the Constitutional Convention of Massachusetts, in 1821, and took an active part in its discussions.”(4) The Baptist leader also served as a trustee of Brown University, Waterville College, and the Columbian College.

    However, our chief interest in Dr. Thomas Baldwin centers in his missionary concern. On April 29, 1802, he co-authored the call for the establishment of the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society. In 1803 he became editor of the “Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine” and served until his death. Dr. Baldwin received a letter from Adoniram Judson in February, 1813. Judson wrote, “Should there be formed a Baptist Society for the support of missions in these parts, I shall be ready to consider myself their missionary!”(5) Baldwin immediately invited several leading pastors from Massachusetts to meet and confer on the matter. The result was the organization of a temporary society to assist the Judsons until such time as the Baptists nationally could rally forces for the undertaking. Ultimately, with the formation of “The General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States for Foreign Missions,” Dr. Baldwin served as the secretary.

    “The ministry of Dr. Baldwin continued till August 29, 1825, when after a long life, creditable to himself and eminently useful to the church of God, he was suddenly called to receive the ‘crown of righteousness that fadeth nor away.’”(6) We honor the memory of a pastor with a “missionary heart” and pray that the Lord will give us a host of such men in our day. DLC

    (1) David Benedict, A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America (New York: Lewis Colby and Co., 1848), p. 395.

    (2) Ibid., p. 396.

    (3) William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, ed. Louis H. Everts (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), 1:63.

    (4) Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists (1890; reprint ed., Watertown WI: Maranatha Baptist Press, 1976), 2:853

    (5) Jesse L. Boyd, A History of Baptists in America Prior to 1845 (New York: American Press, 1957), p. 86.

    (6) Benedict, p. 396.

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    [ August 29, 2002, 07:23 PM: Message edited by: Justified ]

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