This Day in Presbyterian History:
Personal Revival of Daniel Baker
The key note to this wonderful man’s life was given on his death bed. When dying he said: “William, my son, if I should die I want this epitaph carved on my tomb. ‘Here lies Daniel Baker–preacher of the Gospel–a sinner saved by grace.’ Remember,” he added, “a sinner saved by grace.”
He was a man of one book—the Bible; one idea—the salvation of souls, and one occupation—the proclamation of the Gospel.
Dr. Baker was a child of Christian parents, born August 17, 1791, in Midway, Georgia, the fourth son and seventh child, and left early an orphan.He distinctly remembered the pious instruction of his parents. He felt that he was a sinner, and would certainly be lost. “I did wish,” he said, “that I was a bird, or insect, or anything that had not to meet God in the judgment day.”
But Daniel grew to become a pastor and a tireless evangelist. To catch a glimpse of the spiritual power that undergirded his ministry, we have only to turn to his diary, preserved for us by his son as part of The Life and Labours of the Rev. Daniel Baker. On page 141, we read:
“Amid lights and shadows, joys and sorrows, hope and fear, I laboured on, without much apparent success, until the 10th of August, 1830, when, not satisfied either with myself or the state of things in the church, I took Payson’s Memoirs in my hand, and going out early that morning, I spent nearly the whole day in a distant graveyard, engaged in reading, and fasting, and prayer. That day marks a memorable era in the history of my life. Returning to my dwelling that evening, about the setting of the sun, I resolved, by the grace of God, to turn over a new leaf, and in preaching and pastoral visitations to be more faithful and diligent than I had ever been.”
Baker’s journal continued:
“Savannah, Tuesday, August 10th, 1830.
Have been reading the memoirs of Dr. Payson, late of Portland, Maine; found the account given of his piety and zeal, through grace, quickening to my soul. O, what a dead state have I been in for a length of time, and how unblessed my labours! I known not that a single individual has been awakened under my preaching for six months past. It will not do to live on at this poor dying rate. Lord, revive me, all my help must come from thee! As we are to have a communicant’s meeting this evening, I determined to set apart this day as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer—a day of special devotion. Had my heart somewhat drawn out in my morning devotions; afterwards took with me the Life of Payson, and thought that I would retire into the woods that I might enjoy more perfect retirement; thought the burial ground for the coloured people would be a good place; went in and found a brick tomb under a shade; every thing very favourable for religious reading and meditation. After prayer, commenced reading; whilst I read and mused the fire burned; my heart was greatly enlarged; the placed proved a Bethel, indeed; I know not when I ever had my feelings more wrought upon; compared myself with Payson, and was deeply humbled in the comparison; longed to follow him even as he followed Christ. Finding in his life an account of a prayer-meeting for the special purpose of praying for those for whom prayer might be specially desired, was much pleased with the idea, and immediately concluded to have one of the same kind. In the evening the communicants’ meeting was well attended, and very solemn; many tears were shed; proposed that we should have a day of fasting some time before our next communion.”
Words to live by: Labor to see that your whole life is surrendered to Christ. In all that you think, in all that you say, in all that you do, He is your Lord and Savior. He is King and Sovereign reigning over your life. Humble yourself before Him, always be quick to confess your sin, seek His presence daily, and then watch to see how He will work in your life, how He will use you in His kingdom work.
Through the Scriptures: Jeremiah 17-22
Through the Standards: Proof texts for the ninth commandment:
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (NIV)
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (NIV)
Image source : Frontispiece portrait of the Rev. Daniel Baker, in The Life and Labours of the Rev. Daniel Baker. Philadelphia: William S. & Alfred Martien, 1858. Engraving by A. H. Ritchie. Scan prepared by the staff of the PCA Historical Center.