Church Planter, Pastor
As Hezekiah left town several young people came begging him to stay. They informed him that they expected him to be their pastor after he baptized them. He said “If I return, your prayers will bring me back.” As he rode his horse away he proceeded some 18 or 20 miles and the words of Scripture weighed on his mind, “Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Save to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.” Realizing the leadership of the Lord he turned his horse back to Haverhill. The Baptist Church was then organized on May 9, 1765. Hezekiah continued as the pastor for 40 years.
He was born April 21, 1737 on Long Island, graduated from Princeton in 1762 and in 1764 moved to New England. In Haverhill he began preaching at the Congregational Church but his Baptist convictions would not allow him to stay.
The Baptist Church he started had a great heart for missions. He would set out accompanied by a few of the members of his church and preach in outlying areas of New Hampshire and Maine. On his return he would gather the Church and tell them of the blessings of God. Those Baptists who lived in outlying areas were brought into membership with the Church until sufficient numbers could be gathered to organize a church in their area. Thirteen churches were established by the labors of Pastor Smith and his congregation in Haverhill.
He served during the Revolutionary War as a chaplain and had close ties with General Washington. His heart was at home though and he returned to his congregation as soon as he was released.
After preaching from John 12:24 he had a stroke, and one week later, on January 22, 1805, he passed away. Baptists in the New England area owe much to this man’s ministry.
Written by Doug Hammett