Samuel Willard: A Study Of Toleration -- By: George W. Dollar
CenQ 5:1 (Spring 1962) p. 23
Samuel Willard: A Study Of Toleration
of Dallas Theological Seminary
A chapel lecture at Central Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary;
If in the development of Baptist separatism in days to come I should be elected a pope or a cardinal, there will be immediately two requirements for all young men before they are ordained into the Baptist ministry—in addition to the ones we already have. First of all, I shall require that they memorize First and Second Timothy, Paul’s marvelous admonitions to the young servant when going out to preach. The second thing I shall require is that each and every one shall be under strict obligation to take a hard course in the history of American Fundamentalism.1 I am getting a little bit chilled by the fact that most Fundamentalists do not know Fundamentalists. They do not know whether they came over on the Mayflower or sprang up in Greenland or if they arose suddenly at the end of World War II. We need to know our marvelous Fundamentalist heritage.
This morning as we turn to the fourth man in the list of colonial preachers I have you at a serious disadvantage. My dissertation has not been published and there is little hope that it ever will be, so you cannot check on what I say because you cannot go find anything, unless you travel to a University and get the microfilm.
Samuel Willard is an amazing study in colonial preachers, a study of a man who was himself strictly orthodox. This was clear after reading a hundred and twenty or thirty of his sermons and after going through a thousand pages of “The Body of Divinity” which was an exposition of the shorter catechism. The latter was a series of lectures which he gave over-nineteen years in his church every Thursday of every month. After going through all that I am convinced that he was a strictly orthodox Calvinistic believer. And yet he is a strange study because of the fellowship he kept. The company in which he moved, the tolerance which he exhibited, makes him one of the Puritan paradoxes, of which there were several.
Samuel Willard was born in 1640 and died in 1707. He was born in Concord, Massachusetts; went to Harvard because it was
CenQ 5:1 (Spring 1962) p. 24
the only one then existing. He graduated from it, taking his graduate studies in theology leading to the M.A. Then he became pastor in a very small place, Groton, Massachusetts, and in 1677 or 1678 (we are not quite sure the date; it probably was 1677) became pastor of the Third Church in Boston, the one which is known today as the Old South Church. There he stayed unt...
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