James Robinson Graves
James Robinson Graves was an American Baptist preacher, evangelist, debater and editor. He is most noted as the original founder of. Graves was born in Chester, the son of Z. C. Graves, died in Memphis, Tennessee, his remains are interred in Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis. In 1855, Graves established Southwestern Publishing House in Tennessee; the company's name was chosen because, at that time, Nashville was in the southwestern part of the United States. Southwestern published The Tennessee Baptist, a Southern Baptist newspaper, religious booklets which were sold by mail for 20¢ and 30¢ each. Prior to the Civil War, most Bibles were printed in the North, rather than the Confederacy. Graves acquired stereotype plates from the North and began printing Bibles for sale in August 1861, he produced and sold educational books. After the 1864 Battle of Nashville resulted in a Union victory, Graves relocated to Memphis, as he felt vulnerable because of articles he had published against the North; the company resumed publishing in 1867.
In 1868, Graves discontinued the company’s mail order business, began training young men as independent dealers to sell Bibles and educational books door-to-door as a way to earn money for college. Graves retired in 1871. Though raised in a Congregationalist family, Graves joined a Baptist church at age 15. Contemporary fellow ministers in the Southern Baptist Convention praised his preaching abilities. Thomas Treadwell Eaton wrote, "We have seen him hold a congregation packed uncomfortably, for three hours and a half without any sign of weariness on their part; this was not done once or twice, but scores of times." Denominational leader James Bruton Gambrell described one of Graves' sermons at a small church in Mississippi as "The Greatest Sermon I Ever Heard." Scholars have recognized Graves as an chief promulgator of the Landmark movement. The subject's Nashville publishing house, Marks, & Co, which became South-Western Publishing, published all of fellow'Landmarker' Amos Cooper Dayton's books.
Both were expelled as'schismatics' between 1858 and 1859 from the Nashville First Baptist Church due to their theological perspectives on their apostolic connection. The Desire of All Nations The Watchman's Reply The Trilemma The First Baptist Church in America The Great Iron Wheel The Little Iron Wheel The Bible Doctrine of the Middle Life Exposition of Modern Spiritism The Little Seraph Old Landmarkism, What Is It? The Work of Christ in Seven Dispensations Intercommunion Inconsistent and Productive of Evil What Is It To Eat and Drink Unworthily? John's Baptism: Was It From Moses or Christ? Burnett, J. J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers George, Baptist theologians Hailey, O. L. J. R. Graves, life and teachings Patterson, James A. 2012. James Robinson Graves: Staking the Boundaries of Baptist Identity. B & H Academic. Works by or about James Robinson Graves at Internet Archive
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was an English Particular Baptist preacher. Spurgeon remains influential among Christians of various denominations, among whom he is known as the "Prince of Preachers", he was a strong figure in the Reformed Baptist tradition, defending the Church in agreement with the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith understanding, opposing the liberal and pragmatic theological tendencies in the Church of his day. Spurgeon was the pastor of the congregation of the New Park Street Chapel in London for 38 years, he was part of several controversies with the Baptist Union of Great Britain and he left the denomination over doctrinal convictions. In 1867, he started a charity organisation, now called Spurgeon's and works globally, he founded Spurgeon's College, named after him posthumously. Spurgeon was a great author of many types of works including sermons, one autobiography, books on prayer, magazines, poetry and more. Many sermons were transcribed as he spoke and were translated into many languages during his lifetime.
Spurgeon produced powerful sermons of penetrating precise exposition. His oratory skills held his listeners spellbound in the Metropolitan Tabernacle and many Christians hold his writings in exceptionally high regard among devotional literature. Born in Kelvedon, Essex, he moved to Colchester at 10 months old. Spurgeon's conversion from nominal Anglicanism came on 6 January 1850, at age 15. On his way to a scheduled appointment, a snow storm forced him to cut short his intended journey and to turn into a Primitive Methodist chapel in Artillery Street, Colchester where, he claimed, God opened his heart to the salvation message; the text that moved him was Isaiah 45:22 – "Look unto me, be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, there is none else." That year on 4 April 1850, he was admitted to the church at Newmarket. His baptism followed at Isleham; that same year he moved to Cambridge, where he became a Sunday school teacher. He preached his first sermon in the winter of 1850–51 in a cottage at Teversham while filling in for a friend.
From the beginning of his ministry his style and ability were considered to be far above average. In the same year, he was installed as pastor of the small Baptist church at Waterbeach, where he published his first literary work, a Gospel tract written in 1853. In April 1854, after preaching three months on probation and just four years after his conversion, Spurgeon only 19, was called to the pastorate of London's famed New Park Street Chapel, Southwark; this was the largest Baptist congregation in London at the time, although it had dwindled in numbers for several years. Spurgeon found friends in London among his fellow pastors, such as William Garrett Lewis of Westbourne Grove Church, an older man who along with Spurgeon went on to found the London Baptist Association. Within a few months of Spurgeon's arrival at Park Street, his ability as a preacher made him famous; the following year the first of his sermons in the "New Park Street Pulpit" was published. Spurgeon's sermons had a high circulation.
By the time of his death in 1892, he had preached nearly 3,600 sermons and published 49 volumes of commentaries, anecdotes and devotions. Following his fame was criticism; the first attack in the press appeared in the Earthen Vessel in January 1855. His preaching, although not revolutionary in substance, was a plain-spoken and direct appeal to the people, using the Bible to provoke them to consider the teachings of Jesus Christ. Critical attacks from the media persisted throughout his life; the congregation outgrew their building, moved to Exeter Hall to Surrey Music Hall. In these venues Spurgeon preached to audiences numbering more than 10,000. At 22, Spurgeon was the most popular preacher of the day. On 8 January 1856, Spurgeon married Susannah, daughter of Robert Thompson of Falcon Square, London, by whom he had twin sons and Thomas born on 20 September 1856. At the end of that year, tragedy struck on 19 October 1856, as Spurgeon was preaching at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall for the first time.
Someone in the crowd yelled, "Fire!" The ensuing panic and stampede left several dead. Spurgeon was devastated by the event and it had a sobering influence on his life. For many years he spoke of being moved to tears for no reason known to himself. Walter Thornbury wrote in "Old and New London" describing a subsequent meeting at Surrey: a congregation consisting of 10,000 souls, streaming into the hall, mounting the galleries, humming and swarming – a mighty hive of bees – eager to secure at first the best places, and, at last, any place at all. After waiting more than half an hour – for if you wish to have a seat you must be there at least that space of time in advance... Mr. Spurgeon ascended his tribune. To the hum, rush, trampling of men, succeeded a low, concentrated thrill and murmur of devotion, which seemed to run at once, like an electric current, through the breast of everyone present, by this magnetic chain the preacher held us fast bound for about two hours, it is not my purpose to give a summary of his discourse.
It is enough to say of his voice, that its power and volume are sufficient to reach every one in that vast assembly.
Andrew Fuller was an English Particular Baptist minister and theologian. Known as a promoter of missionary work, he took part in theological controversy. Fuller was born in Wicken and settled at Kettering, Northamptonshire. During his life, Fuller pastored two congregations — Soham and Kettering, now the Fuller Baptist Church, He died on 7 May 1815 at Kettering. Fuller is best known in connection with the foundation of the Baptist Missionary Society, to which he for the most part devoted his energies, his work in promoting the missionary enterprises of the Baptist church began about 1784. A sermon published by him The Nature and Importance of Walking by Faith, with an appendix A Few Persuasives to a General Union in Prayer for the Revival of Religion, indirectly stimulated the movement; the Baptist Missionary Society was formed at Kettering in 1792. William Carey, impressed by Fuller's work The Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation, became the first missionary. Fuller took on the work at home. Fuller, a Particular Baptist, was a controversialist in defence of the governmental theory of the atonement against hyper-Calvinism on the one hand and Socinianism and Sandemanianism on the other.
Abraham Booth accused him of giving up true Calvinism. Fuller debated theology with the General Baptist Dan Taylor. According to Christianity Today, "'Tall and muscular, a famous wrestler in his youth,' this self-taught farmer’s son became a champion for Christ,'the most creatively useful theologian' of the Particular Baptists, his book The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, 1785, restated Calvinist theology for Baptists influenced by the Evangelical Revival. His Doctorate of Divinity was bestowed by Brown University, Rhode Island." Fuller wrote: The Gospel worthy of all acceptation, or the Obligations of Men to credit and cordially to approve whatever God makes known. The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems examined and compared as to their Moral Tendency, 1794, 1796, 1802; the Gospel its own Witness, or the Holy Nature and Divine Harmony of the Christian Religion contrasted with the Immorality and Absurdity of Deism, 1799–1800. An Apology for the late Christian Missions to India. Memoirs of the Rev. Samuel Pearce, A.
M. of Birmingham, 1800. Expository Discourses on Genesis, 2 vols. 1806. Expository Discourses on the Apocalypse, 1815. Sermons on Various Subjects, 1814; the Backslider, 1801, 1840, 1847. Fuller wrote pamphlets and essays, he contributed to Charles Edward de Coetlogon's Theological Miscellany, the Evangelical Magazine, the Missionary Magazine, the Quarterly Magazine, the Protestant Dissenters' Magazine, the Biblical Magazine. John Ryland, in his Life of Fuller, enumerated 167 articles. Editions of his Complete Works appeared in 1838, 1840, 1845, 1852, 1853. Joseph Belcher edited an edition in three volumes for the Baptist Publication Society of Philadelphia, his major publications were issued with a memoir by his son in Bohn's Standard Library, 1852. Fuller kept shorthand notes of his earlier sermons and these remained undeciphered until 2019. Deathless Sermon Strict Baptist Reformed Baptist Brackney, William H. A Genetic History of Baptist Thought: With Special Reference to Baptists in Britain and North America.
Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2004. Oliver, History of the English Calvinistic Baptists 1771 - 1892, Banner of Truth, ISBN 0-85151-920-2 Piper, John. 2016. Andrew Fuller: Holy faith, worthy Gospel, world mission. Wheaton, IL: Crossway; the Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: with a memoir of his life, in three volumes, Sprinkle Publications, ISBN 1-59442-102-1Attribution: This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Fuller, Andrew". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Wood, James, ed.. "Fuller, Andrew". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne. Andrew Fuller Project — is preparing a modern critical edition of The Works of Andrew Fuller; this project is led by Michael A. G. Haykin, the Principal of Toronto Baptist Seminary and professor of church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; the project description page has a substantial section headed, "Andrew Fuller: Life & Legacy".
Memoir and Circular Letters edited by James Duvall, Baptist History Homepage. The Pastors Missionary Vision links to a presentation by John Armstrong at the 1988 Desiring God Pastor's Conference, in which Armstrong draws on Fuller's life and works. Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Vision mp3 Andrew Fuller’s Broadsides Against Sandemanianism, Hyper-Calvinism, Global Unbelief by John Piper at Desiring God 2007 Conference for Pastors
Luther Rice, was a Baptist minister who, after a thwarted mission to India, returned to America where he spent the remainder of his career raising funds for missions and advocating for the formation of a unified Baptist missionary-sending body, which culminated in establishment of the Southern Baptist Convention. He raised funds to establish The Columbian College in Washington, DC. Luther Rice was born March 25, 1783 in Northborough, Massachusetts to Amos Rice and Sarah Rice; as a young man at Williams College he became part of a group of young ministers and aspiring missionaries who called themselves "the Brethren.". He sailed to Calcutta, India on 19 February 1812 with Adoniram Judson as a Congregationalist missionary and met with English Baptist missionary William Carey. However, after both Rice and Judson became [. Rice worked to unite Baptists in America to support foreign missionaries which resulted in the organization of "The General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in United States of America, for Foreign Missions," in 1814.
In 1814, Rice was awarded an honorary doctorate by Baptist-dominated Brown University in partial recognition for his contributions to missionary work undertaken through his Baptist denomination. He spent the rest of his life garnering support for missionaries and Baptist work, traveling across America by horseback to raise funds and awareness for Baptist missions. Rice founded Columbian College in 1821, the original unit of The George Washington University in Washington, D. C, he served as the treasurer of Columbian College from 1826 until his death. The main administration building at GW, Luther Rice Hall, is named in his honor, he died September 25, 1836 in Saluda, South Carolina while traveling through the Southern United States raising funds for the missions and seminaries that he founded. He was interred at Saluda County, South Carolina. Although his life was not without controversy, Rice's contribution to the support of missionary work was invaluable in the early years of the Triennial Convention.
During Rice's lifetime, the Triennial Convention's membership grew from 8,000 to 600,000, the convention supported 25 missions and 112 missionaries. By the time of his death, 15 Baptist universities and colleges had been formed. Luther Rice College & Seminary founded in 1962 and located in Lithonia, Georgia, USA, was named after Luther Rice in recognition of his work in the Baptist missions and seminary education. Luther Rice was a direct descendant of Edmund Rice, an English immigrant to Massachusetts Bay Colony, as follows: Luther Rice, son ofAmos Rice, son of Jacob Rice, son ofJacob Rice, son of Edward Rice, son ofEdmund Rice Furman University's Special Collection on Baptists Baptist Identity and Christian Higher Education, monograph by Donald D. Schmeltekopf and Dianna M. Vitanza Guide to the Luther Rice Papers, 1812-1832, Special Collections Research Center and Melvin Gelman Library, The George Washington University
Thomas Helwys, an Englishman, was one of the joint founders, with John Smyth, of the General Baptist denomination. In the early seventeenth century, Helwys was principal formulator of that distinctively Baptist request: that the church and the state be kept separate in matters of law, so that individuals might have a freedom of religious conscience. Thomas Helwys was an advocate of religious liberty at a time when to hold to such views could be dangerous, he died in prison as a consequence of the religious persecution of Protestant dissenters under King James I. Thomas Helwys was born in Gainsborough, from Edmund and Margaret Helwys who were descendants of an old Norman family. Edmund had sold his land in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire and had taken a lease on Broxtowe Hall in Bilborough parish. In 1590 when his father died, Thomas Helwys assumed control of the estate, but in 1593, left the care of the estate in the hands of his father's friends and began studies in law at Gray's Inn, one of the four Inns of Court in London.
Helwys' family was on the rise in London. Geoffrey Helwys, his uncle, was an alderman and the sheriff of London, his cousin, was knighted by King James before becoming lieutenant of the Tower of London. After completing his studies at Gray's Inn in 1593, Thomas himself spent some time in the capital. Thomas married Joan Ashmore at St, Martin's Church, Bilborough, in 1595, they lived at Broxtowe Hall. During this time, the Helwys' home became a haven for early Puritans, one of the many groups of English dissenters within the Church of England and it is that Thomas contributed financially to their mission. At some point, Thomas Helwys developed a close bond with dissenter John Smyth and he and his wife became committed members of Smyth's separatist congregation in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire; the sixty or seventy Separatists in Gainsborough were allowed to meet in secret in Gainsborough Old Hall by the Hall's sympathetic owner Sir William Hickman. The Church authorities were unable to tolerate any significant degree of puritan independence.
In 1607, the High Court of Ecclesiastical Commission resolved to clamp down on the Gainsborough and Scrooby dissenters. Sometime in the winter of 1607/08, John Smyth, around 40 others from the Gainsborough and Scrooby congregations fled to the safety of Amsterdam in the more tolerant Dutch Republic, he is one of the leaders of the foundation of the first Baptist Church in 1609. On 11 April 1611 Anabaptist Edward Wightman became the last religious martyr to be burnt. Assuming their safety, Helwys allowed his family to remain in England, his wife was soon arrested and, after refusing to take the oath in court, she was imprisoned. It is that she was banished after three months in prison, it was in the Dutch Republic that a distinctive Baptist faith first emerged amongst the English émigrés. Open debate amongst the émigrés, close contact and interaction with earlier English exiles and continental Protestants, led the congregation to question the meaning and practice of baptism, among other things.
John Smyth became convinced that baptism should be for Christian believers not for infants. The other English émigrés agreed. However, at the same time as Smyth started to embrace Mennonite doctrines. Helwys and other believers separate from Smyth because of some different ones on christology. Helwys and a dozen or so others began to formulate the earliest Baptist confessions of faith; this "confession" became the twenty-seven articles in A Declaration of Faith of English People Remaining at Amsterdam in Holland. In the next twelve months or so, Helwys wrote three more important works: an argument for Arminianism, a polemic explaining his differences with the Mennonites, most A Short Declaration on the Mystery of Iniquity, a critique and apocalyptic interpretation of the Papacy as well as criticisms of Brownism and Puritanism, the first English book defending the principle of religious liberty. For Helwys, religious liberty was a right for everyone for those he disagreed with. Despite the obvious risks involved and twelve Baptist émigrés returned to England to speak out against religious persecution.
They founded the first Baptist congregation on English soil in east end of London. Early in 1612, Helwys was able to publish A Short Declaration of the Mistery of Iniquity, he wrote an appeal to King James I arguing for liberty of conscience and sent him a copy of his book. "The King," Helwys said, "is a mortal man, not God, therefore he hath no power over the mortal soul of his subjects to make laws and ordinances for them and to set spiritual Lords over them." The king had Helwys thrown into Newgate Prison. Helwys' presentation copy of A Short Declaration of the Mistery of Iniquity is still preserved in the Bodleian Library. Thomas Helwys is honoured with the Helwys Hall at Oxford. Thomas Helwys Baptist Church, in Lenton, Nottingham is named after him. Broxtowe Hall, the Helwys' family home, is now only a remnant but in nearby Bilborough Baptist Church there is a simple plaque to his memory. "If the Kings people be obedient and true subjects, obeying all humane lawes made by the King, our Lord the King can require no more: for men's religion to God is betwixt God and themselves.
— A Short Declara
Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, they emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than by good works, the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church. Protestantism is popularly considered to have begun in Germany in 1517 when Martin Luther published his Ninety-five Theses as a reaction against abuses in the sale of indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church, which purported to offer remission of sin to their purchasers.
However, the term derives from the letter of protestation from German Lutheran princes in 1529 against an edict of the Diet of Speyer condemning the teachings of Martin Luther as heretical. Although there were earlier breaks and attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church—notably by Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, Jan Hus—only Luther succeeded in sparking a wider and modern movement. In the 16th century, Lutheranism spread from Germany into Denmark, Sweden, Latvia and Iceland. Reformed denominations spread in Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland and France by reformers such as John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, John Knox; the political separation of the Church of England from the pope under King Henry VIII began Anglicanism, bringing England and Wales into this broad Reformation movement. Protestants have developed their own culture, with major contributions in education, the humanities and sciences, the political and social order, the economy and the arts, many other fields. Protestantism is diverse, being more divided theologically and ecclesiastically than either the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, or Oriental Orthodoxy.
Without structural unity or central human authority, Protestants developed the concept of an invisible church, in contrast to the Roman Catholic view of the Catholic Church as the visible one true Church founded by Jesus Christ. Some denominations do have a worldwide scope and distribution of membership, while others are confined to a single country. A majority of Protestants are members of a handful of Protestant denominational families: Adventists, Anglicans, Reformed, Lutherans and Pentecostals. Nondenominational, charismatic and other churches are on the rise, constitute a significant part of Protestant Christianity. Proponents of the branch theory consider Protestantism one of the three major divisions of Christendom, together with the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodoxy. Six princes of the Holy Roman Empire and rulers of fourteen Imperial Free Cities, who issued a protest against the edict of the Diet of Speyer, were the first individuals to be called Protestants; the edict reversed concessions made to the Lutherans with the approval of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V three years earlier.
The term protestant, though purely political in nature acquired a broader sense, referring to a member of any Western church which subscribed to the main Protestant principles. However, it is misused to mean any church outside the Roman and Eastern Orthodox communions. Protestantism as a general term is now used in contradistinction to the other major Christian traditions, i.e. Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. During the Reformation, the term protestant was hardly used outside of German politics. People who were involved in the religious movement used the word evangelical. For further details, see the section below. Protestant became a general term, meaning any adherent of the Reformation in the German-speaking area, it was somewhat taken up by Lutherans though Martin Luther himself insisted on Christian or evangelical as the only acceptable names for individuals who professed Christ. French and Swiss Protestants instead preferred the word reformed, which became a popular and alternative name for Calvinists.
The word evangelical, which refers to the gospel, was used for those involved in the religious movement in the German-speaking area beginning in 1517. Nowadays, evangelical is still preferred among some of the historical Protestant denominations in the Lutheran and United Protestant traditions in Europe, those with strong ties to them. Above all the term is used by Protestant bodies in the German-speaking area, such as the Evangelical Church in Germany. In continental Europe, an Evangelical is either a Calvinist, or a United Protestant; the German word evangelisch means Protestant, is different from the German evangelikal, which refers to churches shaped by Evangelicalism. The English word evangelical refers to evangelical Protestant churches, therefore to a certain part of Protestantism rather than to Protestantism as a whole; the English word traces its roots back to the Puritans in England, where Evangelicalism originated, was brought to the United States. Martin Luther always disliked the term Lutheran, preferring the term evangelical, derived from euangelion, a Greek word meaning "good news", i.e. "gospel".
The followers of
John Clarke (Baptist minister)
John Clarke was a physician, Baptist minister, co-founder of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, author of its influential charter, a leading advocate of religious freedom in America. Clarke was born in Westhorpe, England, he received an extensive education, including a master's degree in England followed by medical training in Leiden, Holland. He arrived at the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1637 during the Antinomian Controversy and decided to go to Aquidneck Island with many exiles from the conflict, he became a co-founder of Portsmouth and Newport, Rhode Island, he established America's second Baptist church in Newport. Baptists were considered heretics and were banned from Massachusetts, but Clarke wanted to make inroads there and spent time in the Boston jail after making a mission trip to the town of Lynn, Massachusetts. Following his poor treatment in prison, he went to England where he published a book on the persecutions of the Baptists in Massachusetts and on his theological beliefs.
The fledgling Rhode Island colony needed an agent in England, so he remained there for more than a decade handling the colony's interests. The other New England colonies were hostile to Rhode Island, both Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut Colony had made incursions into Rhode Island territory. After the restoration of the monarchy in England in 1660, it was imperative that Rhode Island receive a royal charter to protect its territorial integrity, it was Clarke's role to obtain such a document, he saw this as an opportunity to include religious freedoms never seen before in any constitutional charter. He wrote ten petitions and letters to King Charles II and negotiated for months with Connecticut over territorial boundaries, he drafted the Rhode Island Royal Charter and presented it to the king, it was approved with the king's seal on 8 July 1663. This charter granted unprecedented freedom and religious liberty to Rhode Islanders and remained in effect for 180 years, making it the longest-lasting constitutional charter in history.
Clarke returned to Rhode Island following his success at procuring the charter. He left an extensive will, he was an avid proponent of the notion of soul-liberty, included in the Rhode Island charter—and in the United States Constitution. John Clarke was born at Westhorpe in the county of Suffolk and was baptized there on 8 October 1609, he was one of seven children of Thomas Clarke and Rose Kerrich, six of whom left England and settled in New England. No definitive record has been found concerning his life in England other than the parish records of his baptism and those of his siblings. Clarke was highly educated, judging from the fact that he arrived in New England at the age of 28 qualified as both a physician and a Baptist minister, his many years of study become evident through a book that he wrote and published in 1652, through his masterful authorship of the Rhode Island Royal Charter of 1663. The difficulty with tracing Clarke's life in England stems from his common name. Rhode Island historian George Andrews Moriarty, Jr wrote that this was the same John Clarke who attended St Catharine's College, but he may have received a bachelor's degree from Brasenose College, Oxford in 1628 and a masters degree there in 1632.
Another clue to his education comes from a catalog of students from Leiden University in Holland, one of Europe's primary medical schools at the time. The school's ledger of graduates includes, in Latin, "Johannes Clarcq, Anglus, 17 July 1635-273", it is apparent that Clarke earned a master's degree from the concordance that he wrote, where the authorship is given as "John Clarke, Master of Arts". Clarke arrived in Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in November 1637 when the colony was in the midst of the major theological and political crisis known as the Antinomian Controversy. A major division had occurred within the Boston church between proponents of so-called "covenant of grace" theology, led by John Cotton, proponents of so-called "covenant of works", led by John Wilson and others; the controversy resulted in many people leaving Massachusetts Bay Colony, either voluntarily or by banishment. Some went north in November 1637 to found the town of Exeter, New Hampshire, while a larger group were uncertain where to go.
They contacted Roger Williams, who suggested that they purchase land from the Narragansett people along the Narragansett Bay, near his settlement of Providence Plantations. John Clarke went with both groups, based on what he wrote in his book: "By reason of the suffocating heat of the summer before, I went to the North to be somewhat cooler, but the winter following proved so cold, that we were forced in the spring to make towards the South." Clarke joined a group of men at the Boston home of William Coddington on 7 March 1638, they drafted the Portsmouth Compact. Some historians suggest. 23 men signed the document, intended to form a "Bodie Politick" based on Christian principles, Coddington was chosen as the leader of the group. Roger Williams suggested two places where the exiles could settle on the Narraganset Bay: Sowams and Aquidneck Island. Williams was uncertain about English claims to these lands, so Clar