Lott Carey Sails for Africa, 1821

2020-01-17T16:24:24+00:00January 20, 2020|HH 2020|

“Listen, my beloved brethren, did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love Him?” —James 2:5

Lott Carey Sails for Africa, January 23, 1821

Lott Carey was born into a Christian family on the plantation of John Bowry, around 1780, five years into the War for American Independence. His grandmother helped raise Lott, and she was a devout Christian woman who taught him history and biblical truth. Lott, however, went his own careless way. His master, a planter and Methodist minister, hired him out on a contract to a Richmond tobacco merchant. While working along the river in the Shokoe area of the capital, Lott Carey came to Christ and was baptized, after hearing a powerful Gospel message about Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night. As a new member of First Baptist of Richmond, and determined to read the Bible for himself, Lott Carey taught himself to read, and attended a night school taught by a member of the church.

Lott Carey (c. 1780-1828)

Lott saved every extra penny he made as he received promotions and preferment at the warehouse, and the right to sell waste tobacco for profit. He was able to purchase his own and his two children’s freedom, in 1807, when he was about the age of thirty-three. He remarried (his first wife had died) and began preaching to a small black congregation, along with his work in the tobacco warehouse. God blessed Lott’s mastery of the Scriptures and his powerful oratory, and his church rose to eight hundred members. Through studies with his white teacher, William Crane, Lott developed an interest in African missions, an interest originally introduced to him by his grandmother! Believing God’s calling, Lott determined to go to the mission field in Africa.

First Baptist Church of Richmond, constructed in 1841

Henry Clay (1777-1852)

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

The American Colonization Society, a diverse group of mostly white Americans from every section of the country, was formed in 1817, to promote the emigration of free Americans of African ancestry to Africa. The originators of the movement, mostly evangelicals and Quakers, were joined by such distinguished supporters as Abraham Lincoln, two other Presidents and Senator Henry Clay. African-American leaders as a rule, many abolitionists and most free black preachers opposed the organization vehemently as a tool to perpetuate slavery, separate African-Americans from their homes and ship them off to areas their ancestors were not originally from. Nonetheless, in the earliest days of the Society, support for a mission effort by a gifted and popular preacher like Lott Carey had great appeal, and with the support of his church, reached fruition.

An 1883 publication of the American Colonization Society

In his final sermon to his beloved congregation Carey said:

“I am about to leave you and I expect to see your faces no more. I long to preach to the poor Africans the way of life and salvation. I don’t know what may befall me, whether I may find a grave in the ocean, or among the savage men, or more savage wild beasts on the coast of Africa, nor am I anxious what may become of me. I feel it my duty to go.”

On January 23, 1821 Carey sailed with his family and some co-workers to Liberia. He was the first black missionary from the United States to Africa.

In Liberia—whose national language is English, their flag red, white, and blue, and their capital city named after President James Monroe—Lott Carey established Providence Baptist Church, schools for both settlers and native children, and the Monrovia Baptist Missionary Society. He even served as provisional governor when the white governor returned home because of illness. He organized a defense force to protect the colony when attacked by hostile tribes. Lott Carey and seven co-workers died in a gun powder explosion during a rescue mission to save negotiators with one of those aggressive enemies. He was forty-nine.

Flag of Liberia

Location of Liberia in Western Africa

Born into slavery during America’s War for Independence, with little to no hope for any other fate, Lott Carey was predestined to be a man of great faith, vision, character, resolve, and perseverance, as well as a preacher of great power. From the field to the tobacco warehouse to the pulpit to a new nation forged on the coast of Africa, Lott Carey did not allow his early difficult social condition determine who he would be in God’s Kingdom.

Francis I Bans the Publishing of Books, 1535

2020-01-17T16:23:05+00:00January 13, 2020|HH 2020|

The University of Paris, commonly known as the Collège de Sorbonne, led the way intellectually in France during the period of history known as the Renaissance. In the 16th Century, the learned doctors of the Sorbonne became the established defenders of Roman Catholic orthodoxy, defining the theological boundaries of reform. The Protestant Reformation, that began in Germany when Martin Luther stood up to the prelates and princes affirming a return to Apostolic doctrine and practice, spread to France, especially among the clergy and universities. The Sorbonne alerted King Francis I that the “Lutheran heresy” was spreading in the universities. On January 13, 1535, he declared an edict prohibiting the publishing of books, hoping that measure would prevent the Protestant views from spreading any further.

View of the Collège de Sorbonne in 1550

King Francis I of France (1494-1547)

Until that proclamation, Francis had shown some sympathy with the reformers. His tutors during his impressionable younger years had been intellectual products of the Italian Renaissance and taught him to appreciate knowledge on a wide scope. His own sister, Marguerite de Navarre, supported the Protestants, and Francis himself was known to be open to the intellectual challenges of the Renaissance—“an enlightened prince” who was known as “The Father of Letters” and a patron of the arts. He even likely rescued a few men who were being tracked down and targeted for heresy. The charges of heresy, however, continued unabated. On top of that, some of the reformers presented their case in obnoxious and contentious ways, further alienating the Crown. The posting of broadsides across Paris, attacking the Catholic Mass, brought deadly royal reprisals. The “Lutheran doctrines” continued to proliferate, however, especially through books, pamphlets and broadsides. The Reformed French Churchmen became known as Huguenots.

Marguerite dr Navarre (1492-1549) older sister of Francis I of France

Francis I and his sister Marguerite de Navarre

Although the reign of Francis I would be characterized by foreign policy disputes and wars with the Italians, Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire, Spain and England, his preoccupation with wars gave room for the spread of the Gospel in France. His banning of the printing of books had almost no effect on the spread of the Protestant Reformation, for Reformed literature flowed into France from Germany and Switzerland. John Calvin, a former student in Paris, now in exile to Geneva, trained young men to return to France to preach. Bibles travelled across the country with merchants who distributed Protestant literature everywhere.

John Calvin (1509-1564) trained men in Geneva to return to France to preach

The Massacre of Mérindol took place in 1545, when Francis I of France ordered that the Waldensians of the village of Mérindol be punished for dissident religious activities

The Protestant doctrinal assault on the Mass, especially rankled Francis, and the crackdown on Protestants brought burnings and other types of murder in many places. Francis I may have wanted an enlightened kingdom, united against foreign enemies, but his resistance to ecclesiastical reform brought only continued internal disruption and religious intolerance. In some provinces, the majority of people became Protestants, known hereafter as Huguenots. Most historians estimate that eventually about 10% of France became firmly Protestant, primarily of the Genevan/Calvinist camp, more than a million strong. Nonetheless, Francis began a precedent of persecution of Huguenots, and resistance to biblical Protestantism that was followed by his royal descendants for the next two centuries.

The Death of Timothy Dwight, 1817

2020-01-17T16:22:14+00:00January 7, 2020|HH 2020|

“And suddenly there came from Heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” —Acts 2:2

The Death of Timothy Dwight, January 11, 1817

Timothy Dwight IV was the oldest of thirteen children whose maternal grandfather, Jonathan Edwards, was destined to be regarded as one of the most brilliant men produced in American history, and a leader in the “Great Awakening.” His paternal grandfather, Colonel Timothy Dwight and his father Major Timothy Dwight fought in colonial wars, the Major in the War for Independence, along with his son, who served as a chaplain. He was destined to become the president of Yale College, with which his family before and after him were closely associated. Several historians believe he was the most influential leader of the “Second Great Awakening.”

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Timothy Dwight IV (1752-1817)

Timothy showed signs of genius at an early age, memorizing the alphabet in a single lesson and reading the Bible through at the age of four. He taught himself Latin at six. Graduating from Yale at the age of 17, he taught school for two years, then served at Yale as a tutor for six years. During that time he made a profession of his faith in Christ and began preparation for Gospel ministry. He was licensed by the Congregationalists of Connecticut to preach, in 1777. As a teacher at Yale, Dwight supported the War for Independence in no uncertain terms. Many of his students entered the army until the college decided to close. Dwight offered himself as a chaplain during one of the darkest times of the American cause, and was swiftly brought into the army. George Washington had called for chaplains to serve the soldiers of America, and devout, eloquent preachers responded. His powerful preaching and patriotic faithfulness was noted by a number of fellow soldiers, especially General Putnam. Upon the death of his father, Dwight resigned and returned home to take care of his mother and siblings; besides running the farm, he filled vacant pulpits in various churches around Northampton, started a school for boys and girls, and served two terms in the state legislature.

George Washington issued a call for chaplains and Timothy Dwight served as chaplain in General Samuel Holden Parsons’s Connecticut Continental Brigade

A view of the buildings of Yale College in 1807

For twelve years after the war, Timothy Dwight pastored a church in Fairfield, Connecticut. Always active and full of ideas, he started an academy which drew young scholars from far and wide. He believed that the Bible spoke to every area of life and practice, and thus he remained active in politics as a supporter of the Federalists. He wrote on theological topics, especially apologetics, defending the Christian faith against the revolutionary atheism and infidelity spawned by the French Philosophes, that appealed to many students at Yale and Harvard.

Timothy Dwight pastored Greenfield Hill Congregational Church in Fairfield, Connecticut, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Upon the death of President Ezra Stiles of Yale, the Reverend Timothy Dwight was elected eighth president of Yale College in 1795. God had prepared him for twenty years of preaching, teaching, counseling, study, and leadership to take the helm of his beloved alma mater, currently under the heavy influence of European enlightenment rationalism. The libertine student body, whose lives were filled with “intemperance, profanity, gambling, and licentiousness,” issued a challenge to the new president, expecting the usual evasion of confrontation. They challenged the wrong man. Choosing the subject, “Is the Bible the Word of God?” Dwight invited the agnostic students to present their best case in the negative before the student body, without any threat of personal penalties. He listened carefully, then delivered a series of lectures on the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, addressing point for point every argument the students had offered against the Word of God. One student later recorded that after that, “infidelity skulked and hid its head.” One historian states that from 1795 to 1802, Dwight’s presence placed a moral restraint on the wayward students.

Ezra Stiles (1727-1795) was the seventh president of Yale College and among the founders of Brown University

While some of the immorality of the campus receded, few of the young scholars yet claimed to be Christians. One observed that most of the students had merely academic interests and that he himself was the only member of the freshman class that actually professed Christ. The real change at Yale came in the spring of 1802:

“…with such power as had never been witnessed within those walls before . . . it was like a mighty rushing wind. The whole college was shaken. It seemed for a time that the whole mass of students would press into the Kingdom of God.” —Dr. Heman Humphrey

Heman Humphrey (1779-1861), Yale graduate, author, clergyman and second president of Amherst College

About seventy-five of Yale’s two hundred fifty students were converted and united to churches. The number of men coming forward for Gospel ministry multiplied. The supply of godly ministers had been dwindling and infidelity had been carried into the pulpits by graduates. With Timothy Dwight at the helm, Yale had been at least partially restored to its previous allegiance to Christ, through the Holy Spirit using his preaching to truly advance the kingdom, including the calling of new shepherds for the Church.

Mary Woolsey Dwight (1754-1854), wife of Timothy Dwight

A Methodist camp meeting in 1819 during the Second Great Awakening

The Second Great Awakening is often portrayed as only a revival of biblical faith among the uneducated frontiersmen and the lower classes of the urban northeast. Three separate years in the first two decades of the 19th Century at Yale, the intellectual attractions of infidelity and agnosticism were overwhelmed by the power of the Gospel. Timothy Dwight died in office there in 1817. Two of his eight sons entered the ministry. It has been true throughout history that God prepares his people, sometimes for many years, for their greatest usefulness in the waning years of life.

  • Revival and Revivalism: The Making and Marring of American Evangelicalism 1750-1858, by Iain Murray
  • God Sent Revival: The Story of Asahel Nettleton and the Second Great Awakening, by J. F. Thornbury

Image Credits:Jonathan Edwards (Wikipedia.org)Timothy Dwight IV (Wikipedia.org)General George Washington (Wikipedia.org)Yale College, 1807 (Wikipedia.org)Greenfield Hill Congregational Church (Wikipedia.org)Ezra Stiles (Wikipedia.org)Heman Humphrey (Wikipedia.org)Mary Woolsey Dwight (Wikipedia.org)Second Great Awakening Methodist Camp Meeting (LOC.gov)