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      The following is from the historian Thomas Armitage.

Thomas Gould – Early American Baptist
By Thomas Armitage

      The first record on the books of the First Baptist Church in Boston reads thus: 'The 28th of the third month, 1665, in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the Church of Christ, commonly, though falsely, called Anabaptists, were gathered together, and entered into fellowship and communion with each other; engaged to walk together in all the appointments of our Lord and Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, as far as he should be pleased to make known his mind and will unto them, by his word and Spirit, and then were baptized, Thomas Gould, Thomas Osborne, Edward Drinker, John George, and joined with Richard Goodall, William Turner, Robert Lambert, Mary Goodall and Mary Newell, who had walked in that order in Old England, and to whom God hath since joined Isaac Hull, John Farnham, Jacob Barney, John Russell, Jr., John Johnson, George Farley, Benjamin Sweetzer, Mrs. Sweetzer, and Ellis Callender, all before 1669.'

      Next after the influence of Dunster on the mind of Thomas Gould, of Charleston, a member of the Congregational Church there, the Boston Church may trace its origin to the birth of a child in Gould's family in 1655. When this little John the Baptist of Charlestown raised his first cry in that home, like Zacharias of old, its godly father called his neighbors together to unite with him in thanks to God for the precious gift. But he withheld it from baptism, and was summoned to appear before the Church to answer therefor, when still refusing to have it baptized, he was suspended from communion, December 30th, 1656. The Middlesex Court record says that he was then brought before that body for denying infant baptism to his child, and thus putting himself and his descendants in peril of the Lord's displeasure, as in the case of Moses.' He was brought before the same Court with Dunster, April 7th, 1657; and, worse and worse, before the Charlestown Church, February 28th, 1664, for having a meeting of Anabaptists in his house on the preceding 8th of November. October 11th, 1665, he was before the Court of Assistants, charged with 'schismatical rending from the communion of the Churches here, and setting up a public meeting in opposition to the ordinance of Christ.' Several other persons were tried with him for the same offense, and as they all professed their resolution yet further to proceed in such their irregular practices, thereby as well contemning the authority and laws here established for the maintenance of godliness and honesty, as continuing in the profanation of God's holy ordinances: 'Gould, Osborne, Drinker, Turner and George were disfranchised,' and threatened with imprisonment if they continued in this high presumption against the Lord and his holy appointments. 'Zechariah Rhodes, a Rhode Island Baptist, being in Court at the time and hearing this decision, said publicly, that they had not to do in matters of religion,' and was committed, but afterward admonished and dismissed. On April 17th, 1666, Gould, Osborne and George were presented to the grand jury at Cambridge, for absence from the Congregational Church 'for one whole year.' They pleaded that they were members of a Gospel Church, and attended scriptural worship regularly. They were convicted of high presumption against the Lord and his holy appointments, ' were fined £4 each, and put under bonds of £20 each; but as they would not pay their fines, they were thrown into prison. On the 18th of August, 1666, according to the General Court papers of Massachusetts, the Assistant's Court decided that Gould and Osborne night be released from prison if they would pay the fine and costs, but if not they should be banished; they also continued the injunction against the assembling of Baptists for worship.

      March 3d, 1668, Gould was brought before the Court of Assistants in Boston, on an appeal from the County Court of Middlesex, when the previous judgment was confirmed and he was recommitted to prison. Then, on the 7th of the same month, concluding that fines and imprisonments did nothing to win him, and having a wholesome dread of repeating the Holmes's whipping experiment, the governor and council deciding to reduce him and his brethren from the error of their way, and their return to the Lord, . . . do judge meet to grant unto Thomas Gould, John Farnham, Thomas Osborne and company yet further an opportunity of a full and free debate of the grounds for their practice.' They also appointed Rev. Messrs. Allen, Cobbett, Higginson, Danforth, Mitchel and Shepard to meet with them on the 14th of April in the meeting-house at Boston at nine in the morning.' The Baptist and Pedobaptist brethren were then and there to publicly debate the following question: Whether it be justifiable by the word of God for these persons and their company to depart from the communion of these Churches, and to set up an assembly here in the way of Anabaptism, and whether such a practice is to be allowed by the government of this jurisdiction? 'Now, who was flouting the red flag of the Anabaptistical fanaticism full in the face of the Bay bull?' was required to inform his Baptist brethren to appear, and the Baptist Church at Newport sent a delegation of three to help their brethren in the debate. A great concourse of people assembled and Mitchel took the laboring oar in behalf of the Pedobaptists, aided stoutly by others, but after two days' denunciation of the Baptists, they were not allowed to reply. The authorities, however, claimed the victory and berated them soundly as 'schismatics;' but as this did not convert them, they returned at once to the old argument of fine and imprisonment, notwithstanding many remonstrances were sent from England by such men as Drs. Goodwin and Owen, and Messrs. Mascall, Nye and Caryl. Mitchel gave this sentence against them, and that ended the matter: 'The man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die, and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.' That sentence had been pronounced in Rome a hundred times, without half the noise about it which these new-fledged inquisitors made.

      It may be well to add a few words in regard to Gould's companions in this holy war. Thomas Osborne appears to have been to Gould what Silas was to Paul.


[From Thomas Armitage, A History of the Baptists, 1890, pp. 699-701, reprint. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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