John Sutcliff and the Concert of Prayer -- By: Michael A. G. Haykin

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 01:3 (Summer 1992)
Article: John Sutcliff and the Concert of Prayer
Author: Michael A. G. Haykin

John Sutcliff and the Concert of Prayer

Michael A. G. Haykin

This year marks the bicentenary of the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society. Inevitably, as the story of this epoch-making venture is recounted, the name of William Carey (1761–1834) will be prominent. Given the key role played by Carey in the founding of this Society and the central place that he has since occupied in the evangelical mind, this prominence is completely understandable.

Yet, it would be quite disturbing to Carey himself, who, on his deathbed, rebuked the fledgling missionary Alexander Duff (1806–1878) for focusing attention on him and his achievements. “Mr. Duff,” the dying Carey said with a gracious solemnity, “you have been speaking about Dr. Carey, Dr. Carey; when I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey—speak about Dr. Carey’s Saviour.” 1

It is also quite misleading to suppose that it was Carey’s single-handed effort that brought about the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society and enabled him to accomplish all that he did in India from 1793 until his death over 40 years later. Carey was part of a close-knit circle of like-minded friends, without whom little of what he longed for would have been realized. Christopher Anderson (1782–1852), who was well acquainted with a number of Carey’s close friends, maintained during Carey’s lifetime that it was the “strong personal attachment” of close friends to one another that lay behind the “usefulness” of the Baptist Missionary Society: “Carey and [Joshua] Marshman and [William] Ward abroad; [John] Sutcliff, [Andrew] Fuller, and [John] Ryland and [Samuel] Pearce at home.” 2

It would require a book-length study to carefully delineate the way in which God used the friendship of these men to advance His kingdom, not only through this missionary endeavor, but also through their participation in the renewal of the Calvinistic Baptist cause after a period of lengthy decline during the mid-1700s. This article has a much more modest goal. It seeks to examine God’s employment of one

of these friends, John Sutcliff (1752–1814), as a catalyst in the founding of the Baptist Missionary Society and more generally in the renewal of the Calvinistic Baptists at the end of the eighteenth century.

John Sutcliff: His Early Years

Sutcliff’s early nurture in the Christian faith came through his parents, Daniel and Hannah Sutcliff, both of whom attended Rodhill End Baptist Church, not far from Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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