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Rev. Dr. John Dowling of the Baptist Church
By Matthew H. Smith, 1868

First Baptist Church - Rev. Dr. Dowling - His Early Life - In New York - Personal

     As early as 1709, persons holding Baptist views met for worship in New York. At that time a Rev. Mr. Wickendon preached in a private house. He was arrested by the authorities, ostensibly for preaching without a license from the crown, but really for attacking infant baptism and the unholy connection of church and state. He was confined in prison three months. In 1745 a meeting of Baptists was held in a private house, and Rev. Mr. Miller baptized a few converts. The ordinance of baptism was administered in the night, through fear of a mob. Both the preaching and ordinances of the Baptists were attended with much peril. Considering it cowardly to immerse in the night, the little company appealed to the governor for protection. He not only granted it, but attended the ordinance, and stated his conviction that "immersion was the ancient mode." In June, 1762, the
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First Baptist Church was recognized. Rev. John Gano was chosen pastor. He held that position, with great acceptance, for twenty-six years. From so feeble a beginning the large number of Baptist churches in New York had their origin.

     For nearly a quarter of a century, Dr. Dowling has been pastor of the Berean Baptist Church. He is a man of commanding stature, of imposing personal appearance, and is head and shoulders taller than his brethren. He is one of the best pulpit orators in the denomination. He has a fine head, a voice strong and melodious, an impressive earnestness of manner that fixes attention, with a great flow of language. He draws large congregations wherever he preaches. His church, over which he has so long been a pastor, is situated in one of the most undesirable locations in New York; yet his house is always full, and his Sunday school is one of the best. He prepares his sermons with great care, but does not read them. Great revivals have attended his ministry wherever he has been settled. He is a laborious student. There are peculiar freshness and vigor about his performances. Few men have written as much or as ejaborately as Dr. Dowling. During the rage of Millerism, in 1843, he wrote one of the most popular and able books against that delusion. His defence of the Protestant Scriptures, which was very favorably reviewed, had a wide circulation. His great work on the History of Romanism is a monument of industry and learning - a mine of wealth, and perfectly exhaustive of the subject .

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     Dr. Dowling was born on the sea-coast of Sussex, England, in May, 1807. His home was near the spot where William the Conqueror landed, and where he, in his celebrated battle of Hastings, drove the last Saxon king from the English throne. His parents were devout members of the Established Church. He was converted at sixteen, and accounting his infant baptism of no avail, he sought baptism by immersion at the hands of Rev. Joseph Ivimey, and united with the Eagle Street Baptist Church, London. He commenced preaching Christ in and around the city, and frequently in Baptist pulpits.

     Dr. Dowling came to this country in 1832. He was ordained to the Baptist ministry on the Hudson River. Soon after, he removed to Newport, and preached to the Second Baptist Church with great success. In 1839, he became pastor of the Pine Street Baptist Church, Providence, where his ministry was attended by extensive and powerful revivals. In 1844 he was called to his present charge, where he has labored with great results, with the exception of a few years which he spent with the Sansom Street Church in Philadelphia. He was recalled to his old charge with great unanimity, and has continued a vigorous congregation from 1856 to the present time.

     Besides the works referred to, of a controversial character, Dr. Dowling has published a large number of devotional and literary works, with occasional sermons

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and addresses. His "Judson Offering," written mainly by himself, had a large circulation. His "Power of Illustration, as an Element of Success in Preaching and Teaching," is a text-book, and one of the most popular in the language; while his "Night and Morning, or Words of Comfort to those who are Sowing in Tears," has been blessed to thousands in seasons of revivals. Dr. Dowling is a man of catholic spirit, and a warm and genial friend. He exhibits in his own preaching the element of illustration as an element of success. His theme is the Cross, and he allows nothing to intervene between the Savior and the sinner. He is earnest in delivery, impressive, interesting, and diversified in his manner of presenting divine truth. The fruits are seen in his long and successful pastorate.

[From Matthew Hale Smith, Sunshine and Shadow in New York, 1868, pp. 589-592. The document is from Google Books On-line. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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