December 17, 2017

A Slice of Baptist History

David Cummins

The history of the “Separate Baptists” has been an ignored subject of our Baptist history, and yet we cannot account for the rapid growth of Baptists in the South and the proliferation of the Southern Baptist Convention without considering the influence of this group. Though our primary purpose is not to deal with the Separates, we will talk much about their work.

The Separates were led primarily by Shubal Stearns (North Carolina), Daniel Marshall (Georgia), and Samuel Hariss (Virginia). Everywhere these men went, churches were established and a mighty moving of the Holy Spirit was experienced. Daniel Marshall, after having ministered in South Carolina, began incursions into Georgia. Though there was a trace of Baptists in Georgia prior to his efforts, Marshall planted at Kiokee the first Baptist church in the province. The story of that ministry is amazing!

On January 1, 1771, Marshall moved to Georgia, and by the spring of 1772, he had led a small congregation in the formation of the First Baptist Church of Kiokee and served as pastor until his death in 1784. The inspiring account of that ministry will be shared later in this series, but just now we are interested in the narrative of the beginning of the Kiokee church.

A Georgia law of 1757 prohibited any worship not “according to the rights and ceremonies of the Church of England,” but Marshall led a “brush arbor” service. As he bowed in prayer, he was interrupted by a heavy hand on his shoulder and the declaration, “You are my prisoner!” The sixty-five- year-old preacher stood to his feet only to hear the young constable inform him that he had “preached in the parish of St. Paul.” Before Marshall could assure the constable that he would appear in court the next day, Mrs. Marshall addressed the officer of the law and quoted Scripture, which the Lord ultimately used to bring about the official’s conviction and conversion.

When he appeared in court the next day, Marshall was ordered to leave Georgia. His son, Abraham, quoted the elder Marshall as responding, “Whether it be right to obey God or man, judge ye,” and he went on his way preaching with great power. This incident was not without its spiritual fruit, however, because the twenty-one- year-old constable, Samuel Cartledge, was gloriously saved and was baptized. After serving as a deacon, in 1789 Cartledge was ordained to preach, and he ministered in Georgia and South Carolina until his death at age ninety-three. One of Cartledge’s descendants who has continued the gospel ministry has referred to his forebear as the “Colonial ‘Saul of Tarsus,’ and we rejoice in this spectacular introduction of Baptist labors in the province of Georgia.


This is an excerpt from the book This Day in Baptist History, Bob Jones University Press, Greenville, South Carolina. Used by permission in the January / February 1994 FrontLine magazine. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.


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