18th-Century British Particular Baptists’ Rejection of Passivity

I love the 18th-century British Particular Baptists. Men like Andrew Fuller, John Ryland, Jr., John Sutcliff, William Carey, Benjamin Beddome, and Caleb Evans combined so many qualities that I want my own ministry to emulate: passionate Evangelical piety, zeal for missions, commitment to working for societal justice, strong local church focus, and Christ-centeredness. Perhaps my favorite aspect of their ministry was their rejection of theologically-motivated passivity. They were working among churches that had been stifled by High Calvinism in which the sovereignty of God was emphasized in such a way as to lead to a de-emphasis on human means as secondary causes.

Caleb Evans’ sermon on the Kingdom of God, preached in 1775, is a great example of this emphasis:

When we pray for the advancement of this kingdom, if we are not willing to do all we can to advance it, our prayers cannot be genuine, they are hypocritical. When we pray that God would give us day by day our daily bread, we cannot be supposed to expect that he should give it us while we neglect the proper means of attaining it. And so when we pray that the kingdom of God may come, we are supposed to express a willingness to whatever God may enable us to do, as workers together with him, that it may come with greater and greater power and glory till it is brought to a state of perfection.[1]

[1] Caleb Evans, The Kingdom of God. A Sermon, Preached in Broad-mead, Bristol, before the Bristol-Education-Society. August 16, 1775 (Bristol: W. Pine, T. Cadell, M. Ward, &c., 1775), 20–21.

1 thought on “18th-Century British Particular Baptists’ Rejection of Passivity”

  1. Excellent and convicting. I had never heard of Caleb Evans before reading this. My interest is peaked. I was excited to see you mention Beddome. His exposition of the baptist catechism is one I frequently reference.

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