“The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”—Ephesians 6:17
The peaceful little Leicestershire town of Lutterworth, situated in the midst of beautiful pasture lands, has no more prominent object than its noble Church, the tower of which is visible for miles round. To it many travelers wend their way that they may look upon a place which will ever be association with John Wycliff, who in the fourteenth century was so eminent a patriot and above all so great a spiritual benefactor to his country by his translation of the Bible into the English tongue, multiplying the copies with the aid of transcribers, and by his “poor priests” in their russet gowns recommending it to the perusal of their hearers. His spare, emaciated form, weakened by study, hardly promised a Reformer who could stand before the rising storm, but within this frail body was an immense energy and an immovable conviction, and the personal charm which ever accompanies real greatness drew many around him. He was wondrously strengthened for the work given him to do, and in his well-nigh 300 treatises…
On Friday, 21st March 2014, Dr. Matthew Hyde delivered the annual lecture for the Strict Baptist Historical Society at Bethesda Chapel. After the lecture, he and I shared a brief exchange on the subject of high-calvinism and nineteenth-century Strict Baptist pastors. Since one of these pastors, John Hazelton, had been connected with the church that I pastor, his name naturally came up. Subsequent to our chat, Dr. Hyde graciously gave me one of his copies of William Styles’, “John Hazelton: A Memoir”.
I believe Baptists should be familiar with the life and ministry of John Hazelton for three reasons:
First, the life and ministry of John Hazelton is worth knowing because he was one of the leading Baptist ministers in the city of London during the nineteenth-century.
Second, the life and ministry of John Hazelton is worth knowing because he is among a gallant group of Baptist ministers who tenaciously subscribed to a high view of Sovereign Grace.
Third, the life and ministry of John Hazelton is worth knowing because he has much to teach this generation of professing Christians who like to call themselves Reformed Baptists.
Clifford Pond served in the pastoral ministry among Grace Baptist churches for more than 50 years. Having seen the need for congregations to better understand the complexities of adopting a plurality of elders, he wrote a book entitled “Only Servants.” The back cover of the book offers a reason why the author is a respected authority on the subject: “Clifford Pond writes out of a lifetime of pastoral ministry, having served churches in Suffolk and Surrey as well as exercising a wider ministry at various times by responsible leadership in young people’s fellowships, associations of churches and the council of Grace Baptist Mission.”
In the fifth chapter, under the heading “Plurality of Elders and Deacons”, Mr. Pond writes:
“Since the Second World War every part of life generally has been questioned, and churches too have been put under the scrutiny of Scripture…For example, in the earlier part of this century the most common structure in local churches was a pastor with a group of deacons. In the absence of a pastor…
Jewell E. Smith was born on 1 April 1928 and was promoted to glory on 6 June 2004. He served as a pastor for the first thirty years of ministry. After completing a three year pastorate of Burton Baptist Church, Flint, Michigan (1954-1957), he moved to Orlando Florida where he founded Temple Baptist Church and served as pastor for 27 years (1957-1984). He served as an itinerate preacher for the last twenty years of ministry, traveling with a collection of ancient Bibles. His purpose was to inform churches of their Christian heritage and challenge Christians to read and cherish their Authorised Versions.
Dr. Smith delivered his popular series of lectures to