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A Calvinistic Evangelist

Rev. Dr. Daniel Baker [17 August 1791 - 10 December 1857]Imagine your mother dying when you were an infant.  Then imagine your father dying when you were only eight years of age.  How difficult your upbringing would be.  In the case of little Daniel Baker, who was born at Midway, Liberty county, Georgia, on August 17, 1791, he could only look with sadness at his playmates who had loving parents to watch over them.  But Daniel  had a heavenly Father who watched over  him and was preparing him for great things in the kingdom of God.

Reared by a godly aunt, Daniel came to a knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Savior around 14 years of age.  Soon afterwards, he felt the call to be a preacher of the Word.  Receiving an offer of a scholarship to Hampden-Sydney College, he made a public profession of faith and joined the Presbyterian Church.  His spiritual attainments affected his fellow students there as well as at Princeton University to which he transferred.

Upon graduation, he was interested in enrolling at the Seminary, but instead placed his education under the Rev. William Hill of Winchester, Virginia.  While there was much lacking in this mentoring, his own study in the Westminster Shorter Catechism brought him to the place where the local Presbytery ordained him to the gospel ministry.

One of his greatest blessings was a godly wife, in the person of Elizabeth McRobert, who bore him several children, as well as helping him in his ministry.  While he labored as a pastor, it became almost common that revival would break out under his ministry.  Thousands came to the Lord, not only from the local church, but from those around the church. And so Rev. Baker decided to become a full time evangelist.

It must be remembered that Daniel Baker was a Calvinist evangelist.  He didn’t resort to producing the right emotional effect, but simply preached the whole counsel of God.  And the Lord added to the church such as should be saved.

The last part of his ministry took place in Texas from 1850 on. He became the president of Austin College and resided in Huntsville, Texas, what the school is located. There he preached the same gospel, with the same effects.  He died in 1857.

Words to live by:  Before Daniel Baker passed away, he called  his son to make sure that the epigraph on the tombstone read clearly, “Here lies Daniel Baker, Preacher of the gospel, A sinner saved by grace.”  The close of his life was one of triumph. He lifted his eyes to heaven, and exclaimed, in the calm exercise of a grounded faith, “Lord Jesus, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!” As these words passed his lips, he closed his eyes on earth, to open them forever on the face of that Saviour whom, not having seen, he so loved. Let us be known in life and death as Sinners saved by grace, God’s grace.

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A Calvinistic Evangelist

Rev. Dr. Daniel Baker [17 August 1791 - 10 December 1857]Imagine your mother dying when you were an infant.  Then imagine your father dying when you were only eight years of age.  How difficult your upbringing would be.  In the case of little Daniel Baker, who was born at Midway, Liberty county, Georgia, on August 17, 1791, he could only look with sadness at his playmates who had loving parents to watch over them.  But Daniel  had a heavenly Father who watched over  him and was preparing him for great things in the kingdom of God.

Reared by a godly aunt, Daniel came to a knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Savior around 14 years of age.  Soon afterwards, he felt the call to be a preacher of the Word.  Receiving an offer of a scholarship to Hampden-Sydney College, he made a public profession of faith and joined the Presbyterian Church.  His spiritual attainments affected his fellow students there as well as at Princeton University to which he transferred.

Upon graduation, he was interested in enrolling at the Seminary, but instead placed his education under the Rev. William Hill of Winchester, Virginia.  While there was much lacking in this mentoring, his own study in the Westminster Shorter Catechism brought him to the place where the local Presbytery ordained him to the gospel ministry.

One of his greatest blessings was a godly wife, in the person of Elizabeth McRobert, who bore him several children, as well as helping him in his ministry.  While he labored as a pastor, it became almost common that revival would break out under his ministry.  Thousands came to the Lord, not only from the local church, but from those around the church. And so Rev. Baker decided to become a full time evangelist.

It must be remembered that Daniel Baker was a Calvinist evangelist.  He didn’t resort to producing the right emotional effect, but simply preached the whole counsel of God.  And the Lord added to the church such as should be saved.

The last part of his ministry took place in Texas from 1850 on. He became the president of Austin College and resided in Huntsville, Texas, what the school is located. There he preached the same gospel, with the same effects.  He died in 1857.

Words to live by:  Before Daniel Baker passed away, he called  his son to make sure that the epigraph on the tombstone read clearly, “Here lies Daniel Baker, Preacher of the gospel, A sinner saved by grace.”  The close of his life was one of triumph. He lifted his eyes to heaven, and exclaimed, in the calm exercise of a grounded faith, “Lord Jesus, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!” As these words passed his lips, he closed his eyes on earth, to open them forever on the face of that Saviour whom, not having seen, he so loved. Let us be known in life and death as Sinners saved by grace, God’s grace.

Daniel Baker at Princeton [excerpted from The Life and Labors of the Rev. Daniel Bakerpp. 69-70:
Chapter III. – While a Student at Princeton.
Having reached Princeton, I offered myself, on the opening of the winter session of 1813, as a candidate for the Junior Class, and after examination was admitted. I was located in room 39, and had for my room-mate a most estimable and pious young man named Thomas Biggs. At this time religion was at a very low ebb in the College. There were about one hundred and forty-five students, and of these, only six, so far as I knew, made any profession of religion, and even two of these six seemed to care very little about the matter; for although four of us, Price, Allen, Biggs, and myself, agreed to meet every evening for what was called family prayer, they kept entirely aloof. Feeling it my duty to do what I could for my fellow-students in Princeton, as at Hampden Sydney College, I selected certain individuals to be made the subjects of special prayer and effort, one named M and the other V. The first, during the revival which subsequently took place in College, professed conversion, and in after years became a Presbyterian preacher.
. . . During the whole of this session religion was at a very low ebb indeed; it was deemed a matter of reproach to be a professor [i.e., of the Christian faith]; and by way of contempt, those, who did make a profession of religion, particularly those who composed the praying band, were termed “the Religiosi.” Grieved to see the abounding of iniquity in College, I proposed to my three associates, Price, Allen, and Biggs, that we should establish a weekly prayer-meeting for the especial purpose of praying for a revival of religion in College. This proposition was made sometime during the second session, and was immediately and cordially acceded to. Accordingly this prayer-meeting was held regularly until the close of the session, and none attended but the four already named, and one non-professor, Symmes C. Henry, who subsequently became, for many years, pastor of Cranbury church, New Jersey. At the commencement of the third session, as our prayers seemed not to have been heard, I was somewhat doubtful about continuing our weekly prayer-meeting, but, very happily, my associates were clear for continuing it, and it was well; for although we knew it not, the blessing was nigh, even at the doors.”

For Further Reading : Works by the Rev. Daniel Baker
1. A Series of Revival Sermons (1846).
2. Revival Sermons. Second Series. (1854).
3. A Plain and Scriptural View of Baptism (1853),
[we encourage you to download these ebooks, in the format of your choice & save them to your computer’s hard-drive for your future use and edification.]

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Pray for Repentance and for Reformation

Where feasible, it seems fitting to include some portion of a sermon on our Sunday entries. To get there today, we’ll start from volume 1 of Sprague’s ANNALS, where we find this account of the Rev. William Hill:

“William Hill, the son of Joseph and Joanna (Read) Hill, was born in Cumberland County, Virginia, on the 3d of March, 1769. His ancestors were from England. He lost his father when he was five years old; and, after the lapse of a few years, his mother gave him a stepfather in Mrs. Daniel Allen, father of the Rev. Carey Allen, and an elder in the Presbyterian Church in Cumberland County, at that time under the pastoral care of the Rev. Samuel Stanhope Smith. At the age of eleven, he lost his mother, who seems to have been a devout and exemplary Christian, and to have made impressions upon the mind of her son in favor of a religious life, that had a powerful influence in ultimately determining his character. One year previous to this, he was placed under the tuition of Mr. Drury Lacy, who, for three years, was employed by Mr. Allen as a teacher in his family. After his mother’s death, he was placed under the guardianship of one who cared little for religion, and under whose influence he soon lost his serious impressions, and became absorbed to a great extent, in the pleasures of fashionable life.

“This habit of carelessness, however, was not destined to be of long continuance. In 1785, he entered Hampden Sydney College, then under the Presidency of the Rev. John Blair Smith. So low was the state of religion in the College at that time, that there was not a student who evinced any regard for it, nor one who was known to possess a Bible. During the early part of his collegiate course, he endeavored to banish all thoughts of religion, and indulged freely in the views common to his ungodly associates; but even then he had his moments of reflection when he was haunted by the remembrance of his mother’s counsels and prayers. Nearly two years elapsed, after he entered College, before his character seemed to undergo a radical change. After his mind had, for some time, been turned inward upon itself in silent and anxious thought, he retired to a secluded spot, where he gave vent to the agony of his spirit in earnest cries to the Divine mercy, and was enabled, as he believed, to devote himself without reserve to the service of God.

Shortly after, two or three other young men connected with the College experienced a similar change of views and feelings, and associated themselves with him in a private devotional service, which, as it became known, excited the most bitter opposition from their fellow students, and even drew forth threats of vengeance, unless it were discontinued. This brought the matter to the ears of the President, who assured them not only that they should be protected in their rights, but that they should have the privilege of holding their meeting in his parlor, and that he would himself be present and assist in conducting it. A revival of religion now commenced, which soon included among its subjects half of the students in College…The revival extended into neighboring churches, and then into those which were more remote, and was more extensive and powerful than had been experienced in Virginia since the days of President [Samuel] Davies.”

It breaks our preconceptions to read that times then were not much different than today. Unbelief, atheism and the persecution of those who desire to live godly lives, these things were just as much a part of early American history as they are today. God brought reformation and revival then, and He can so bless again.

It was during the summer of 1787 that William Hill made a public profession of his faith in Christ as his Savior. In 1790 he was licensed to preach, and after serving a term as a missionary, took the pulpit of the Presbyterian Church in Winchester, Virginia in 1800. It was there in 1812 that he preached a sermon in reflection on what has been termed early America’s first great disaster. Late in 1811, a great fire had swept a theater in Richmond, VA, trapping many of the theater-goers and killing 72. The nation mourned, and Rev. Hill was one of many who delivered a sermon in retrospect of that tragedy. A portion of his sermon follows, with a link at the end for those who may want to read the full sermon.

SERMON, &c.

Luke XIII.–1st and r5th inclusive.

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.  Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

The Blessed Saviour in the close of the last chapter had just mentioned what would be the dreadful doom of obstinate and impenitent sinners, who, when in the hands of their adversary, and about to be hauled before their Judge, should still neglect to make their peace with him.–This induced some person present to mention the case of those Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices, as a case supposed to be in point. The Saviour, as was his custom, took an occasion, from the relation of that barbarous act, to deduce a pious improvement, and to impart useful instruction.

By referring to another passage of Scripture, and to the Jewish historian Josephus, we learn the occasion of this cruel deed. These persons, slain by Pilate, the procurator of Judea, were some of the faction of Judas of Galilee, mentioned by Gamaliel in the 5th Chap. of the Acts of the Apostles, and more at large by Josephus. This Judas had stirred up the Galileans to sedition against the Roman government, under a pretense of asserting their liberty, by freeing them from the Roman tribute; and some of them coming to Jerusalem, to sacrifice according to the custom of the Jews, at the Passover, Pilate caused them to be slain upon the spot, while they were engaged in offering up their sacrifices, shedding their blood, with that of their beasts, which they were slaying for the altar.

Our Saviour takes occasion from the relation of this event, to correct a very vicious humor, which has always raged in the world, that of censuring the faults of others, while we overlook our own.

The principle of self-love which was inherent in man, has, by our apostasy degenerated into self-flattery, so that it has now almost become natural in man, to supply the want of a good conscience, by a good opinion of themselves. And hence it comes to pass, that men are so ready to take all advantages to confirm themselves in that false peace, which they have created to themselves in their own imagination; and so they can but maintain a comfortable opinion of themselves, it matters not how uncharitable they are to others; and knowing no better way to foster this fond conceit of themselves than by fancying God to be their friend, it hence comes to pass, that they are so apt to interpret the providence of God towards others in favor of themselves, and to abuse the judgments which fall upon their neighbors, into an argument of their own comparative innocence.

Therefore, our Saviour, who knew what was in man, and what kind of conclusions men are apt to draw from such occurrences of Providence as are before us, endeavors in the first place to prevent the bad use which they were apt to make of them. “Suppose ye,” says he, “that those Galileans were sinners, above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, nay.”

To this instance of the Galileans, he adds another still stronger. Pilate might be represented as a tyrant, and the best of men are liable to suffer, by the cruel hand of oppression. But he now mentions an occurrence of a recent date, and well known to all at Jerusalem, which proceeded immediately from the hand of God, without the agency of man. “Those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all that dwelt at Jerusalem? I tell you nay.”

And having thus anticipated the censuring of others, our Saviour proceeds to awaken his hearers to a consideration and care of themselves. “I tell you nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

The general sense of which words, is, that impenitency in sin, will certainly be the ruin of men sooner or later. It will bring great mischiefs upon them in this world; but however that may be, it will infallibly plunge them into inconceivable misery in the next. But besides the certain denunciation of misery and ruin to all impenitent sinners, which is the largest sense of the words, and analogous to many other declarations of Scripture, it is probable that our Saviour, in the present instance, more immediately referred to those temporal calamities which were shortly to befall the Jews; and by way of prediction, foretold what would be the fate of that whole nation, if they continued impenitent. There is a peculiar force in the [Greek] word [in our text] which means something more than merely, likewise, or also, as it is rendered in our translation. It means literally, “except ye repent, ye shall all perish in like manner,” i.e., besides the vengeance of another world, a temporal judgment as sad as those just alluded to, and not much unlike them, shall come upon this whole nation; which awful prediction was soon after fulfilled at the siege and sack of Jerusalem, by the Roman army of Titus.

The pious and useful reflections, suggested by the subject under consideration, would also very naturally arise from the late awful visitation of Richmond which has shrouded that city in gloom—thrown our legislatures into mourning, and suspended the voice of melody and song. The dreadful scene forbids all attempts at painting it, for it would actually beggar all description. It is true our friends and fellow citizens have been arrested—suddenly arrested—in an hour of thoughtless gaiety and mirth.—Many—Ah! many have fallen victims to devouring flames; without previous reflection hurried to a judgment bar, and to a destiny henceforth unalterable. And are we to conclude, that they were the guilty, and we the innocent? Our Saviour cautions us from drawing such a conclusion, but assures us, “that except we repent, we shall all likewise perish!”

From the text and occasion thus explained, let us consider two things.

1st. The wrong use and censorious conclusions which men are apt to draw from signal judgments of God upon others.

2nd. The right use which we should make of these things; which is, to reflect upon our own sins, and repent of them; lest the like, or great judgments overtake us….

and Rev. Hill concludes his sermon:
…Be assured we have not been called to repentance and reformation too soon. God knows, the state of religion, of morals, & manners is gloomy enough among us; we have enough to repent of, enough that calls aloud for reformation. May we not hope we are already sensible of it! Let us then show our sincerity by our conduct—use all our influence from our standing in society and from the stations we may fill, to suppress vice and impiety in every shape; and to approve ourselves to our Maker. Other places have been sorely visited and have sorely suffered. Sin, no doubt, has been the procuring cause of all our sufferings.

To read the full sermon, click here.

Sprague, William, vol. 3, p. 563-564.

To read more about the Richmond fire and a recent book written about that tragedy, click here.

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This Day in Presbyterian History:   

A Calvinistic Evangelist

Imagine your mother dying when you were an infant.  Then imagine your father dying when you were only eight years of age.  How difficult your upbringing would be.  In the case of little Daniel Baker, who was born on August 17, 1791, he could only look with sadness at his playmates who had loving parents to watch over them.  But Daniel  had a heavenly Father who watched over  him and was preparing him for great things in the kingdom of God.

Reared by a godly aunt, Daniel came to a knowledge of Jesus as Lord and Savior around 14 years of age.  Soon afterwards, he felt the call to be a preacher of the Word.  Receiving an offer of a scholarship to Hampden-Sydney College, he made a public profession of faith and joined the Presbyterian Church.  His spiritual attainments affected his fellow students there as well as at Princeton University to which he transferred.

Upon graduation, he was interested in enrolling at the Seminary, but instead placed his education under the Rev. William Hill of Winchester, Virginia.  While there was much lacking in this overseership, his self-study in the Westminster Shorter Catechism brought him to the place where the local Presbytery ordained him to the gospel ministry.

One of his greatest blessing was a godly wife in Elizabeth McRobert, who bore him several children as well as helping him in his ministry.  He started his ministry as a pastor, but usually revival broke out under him.  Thousands came to the Lord, not only from the local church, but from those around the church.   He decided to become a full time evangelist.

It must be remembered that Daniel Baker was a Calvinist evangelist.  He didn’t resort to producing the right emotional effect, but simply preached the whole counsel of God.  And the Lord added to the church such as should be saved.

The last part of his ministry took place in Texas from 1850 on.  There he preached the same gospel, with the same effects.  He died in 1857.

Words to live by:  Before Daniel Baker passed away, he called  his son to make sure that the epigraph on the tombstone read clearly, “Here lies Daniel Baker, Preacher of the gospel, A sinner saved by grace.”  Let us be known in life and death as Sinners saved by grace, God’s grace.

Through the Scriptures: Jeremiah 40 – 42

Through the Standards:  Christian liberty does not exclude obedience to church and state

WCF 20:4
“And because the powers which God has ordained, and the liberty which Christ has purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God.  And, for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity (whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation), or to the power of godliness; or, such erroneous opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ has established in the Church, they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the church.”

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