Lewis Craig's Conversion
By John Taylor
John Taylor's A History of Ten Baptist Churches, page 278, gives other details about Mr. Craig's conversion, etc.:"Mr. Craig became awakened, perhaps as early as 1765, by the preaching of Col. Samuel Harris. * * * His ministry began before himself had hope of conversion, and after relief came to him, he went on preaching a considerable time before he was baptized, no administrator being near, many being converted under his labours; when he was baptized, a church was constituted at once, in Spotsylvania, Virginia, and Mr. Craig soon ordained as their pastor. His great zeal, in preaching far and near, soon drew the attention of magistrates, who were bound to keep good order. Mr. Craig was presented to the grand jury, for keeping unlawful conventicles and worshipping God contrary to the law of the land. A true bill was found against him, but perhaps with the indulgence of another hearing. (The jury having withdrawn to a tavern for refreshment.) Mr. Craig attended, called for a large bowl of rich toddy, and politely invited them to partake of his treat when a number of them pleasantly accepted (for Mr. Craig was truly a respectable man), when he accosted them thus, gentlemen I thank you, for your attention to me, when I was about this court yard, in all kind of vanity, folly and vice, you took no notice of me; but when I have forsaken all these vices, and warn men to forsake and repent of their sins, you bring me to the bar as a transgressor, or how is all this! The great solemnity of this address filled the hearers with dismay, and Mr. John Waller, one of the jurors, a very wicked man, became so struck, that he never got rest, till he found it in the Lord, and became one of the most successful preachers that was ever in Virginia, and was often times honoured with a prison for his preaching."
Thus far there is no other evidence to prove our contention that Lewis Craig was arraigned before the grand jury perhaps as early as 1766, except this account about John Waller, but this it seems is sufficiently explicit to prove it.
This "mug of grog," or "large bowl of rich toddy," may be looked upon as a dead fly in the "ointment of the apothecary," and spoil an otherwise beautiful story. And it was evidently for fear some good soul might be offended by this act of seeming indiscretion on the part of a minister of the gospel that Dr. Semple [A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia] has added an explanatory note at the bottom of page 404, of his history, which is as follows: "Mr. Craig was remarkably pious and zealous; availing himself of every opportunity to inculcate the gospel of Christ. He knew the grog was the most certain way to command the attention of the grandjury, to whom he desired to offer a lecture. 'Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves'."
[From Lewis P. Little, Imprisoned Preachers and Religious Liberty in Virginia, 1938, pp. 55-56. Robert Semple's title added. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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