Rev. Abraham Booth was born in Blackwell, Derbyshire, England, May 20, 1734. At ten years of age he was first made to feel a deep concern for his salvation. At twenty-one he was baptized among the General or Arminian Baptists. They encouraged him to preach among them. While engaged in ministering to a church at Kirbywood House he at first was a bitter enemy of "personal election and particular redemption," and he printed a poem "in reproach" of these doctrines. When it pleased God to open his eyes to see the whole truth he began to plan a work that would commend the doctrines of grace, and when he was about thirty-three years old he published his "Reign of Grace." Speaking of his Arminian poem, he says, "As a poem, if considered in a critical light, it is despicable; if in a theological view, detestable; as it is an impotent attack on the honor of divine grace, in respect to its glorious freeness, and bold opposition to the sovereignty of God, and as such I renounce it."
His "Reign of Grace" was published through the persuasions of Mr. Venn, a distinguished Episcopal clergyman, who took copies sufficient to enable the author to pay the printer: The publication of this work was the cause of Mr. Booth's removal to London. He was ordained pastor of the Prescott Street church in that city Feb. 16, 1769. In this field of labor Mr. Booth was eminently useful, and obtained a celebrity which will never perish.
He was a man of vast reading in his own language and in Latin, and he was justly reputed one of the most learned men of his day. His friend Dr. Newman says, "As a divine he was a star of the first magnitude, and one of the brightest ornaments of the Baptist denomination to which he belonged. Firm in his attachment to his religious principles, he despised the popular cant about charity, and cultivated genuine candor, which is alike remote from the laxity of latitudinarians and the censoriousness of bigots." His "Reign of Grace," and indeed all his works, will continue to instruct and delight the Christian world till the end of time.
He was instrumental in founding Stepney College, which has been such a blessing to the British Baptist churches.
Mr. Booth was a man of strict integrity, of great devoutness, and of a large knowledge of the divine Word. Few men have served the cause of God by their writings, sermons, counsels, and example more effectively than Abraham Booth. He died January 27, 1806, in his seventy-third year, after a pastorate of thirty-seven years in London. He was the author of eight works, besides a number of printed sermons; some of these works have passed through many editions.
[William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881, reprint, 1988, p. 114. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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