Baptist Preacher & Revolutionary Chaplain
John was born at Hopewell, N.J. on July 22. His grandfather had fled from France because of the threat of death for his faith. His father was a godly Presbyterian and had such an impact on his life that he strongly wanted to follow in his footsteps. His mother and his grandmother were both strong Baptists. Because of the Christian family influence, as he neared the age of 20, he came under deep conviction and was converted to Christ.
His family had implanted one truth in his character. Follow truth wherever it leads. He then began to search the Scriptures and to converse with a famous Presbyterian pastor, Mr. Tennant. They would talk often and for long periods of time about the subject of baptism. Finally Mr. Tennant stated, Dear young man, if the devil cannot destroy your soul, he will endeavor to destroy your comfort and usefulness; and therefore do not be always doubting in this matter. If you cannot think as I do, think for yourself. After considering this counsel he then went to his father and expressed his conviction for Baptist baptism. Although his father did not agree, he refused to stand in his son’s way of obeying truth as he saw it.
Shortly after John had joined the Baptist Church at Hopewell, God began to work on his heart towards the end of preaching the gospel. He was so absorbed in the thought of preaching that he was unable to concentrate on other endeavors until he had the matter settled. One morning while plowing his mind was consumed with the words, Warn the people, or their blood will I require at your hands. The thought so gripped him that he plowed until 11 o’clock and found himself wet with rain and his horses fatigued. He surrendered!
John preached at every opportunity. He was ordained in May 1754 and made several trips into Virginia preaching to people in various places. His heart was forever set on evangelism. He preached as an itinerant until 1762. At this time he was busy filling the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia and the pulpit of the newly planted church in New York City. John was asked by the members in New York City to become their pastor, which he accepted. He was destined to pastor them for 26 years. From this historic church he influenced multitudes during the founding of our country. They grew from 26 to 200 members before John became a chaplain in the Revolutionary War. When he returned from the war his congregation had been scattered and he regathered them and rebuilt the church. He then served until 1788 when he moved to Kentucky to spend his last days preaching in the pioneer land. No sacrifice was too great!
Written by Doug Hammett