Friday, September 21, 2007
If You Should Go Looking for Adoniram Judson
Adoniram Judson died at sea in 1850. His body was buried at sea, but a memorial to Judson lies on Burial Hill, Plymouth, MA. Unfortunately, finding a particular grave on Burial Hill is not the simplest thing to do. If you should ever decide to do so, I want you to have an easier time of it than I had. Burial Hill lies immediately behind the Plymouth Unitarian-Universalist meeting house (I'll not employ the 'c' word here). Just to the right of the building is a steep staircase with iron rails on either side by which you may ascend Burial Hill. At some point nearly atop the hill, the railings cease and the path diverges. At that point, Judson's memorial lies just in front of you just a few feet away, enclosed by a white wooden fence. Here's how it looks from that vantage point: Judson, of course, is the great missionary to Burma who serves as such a wonderful example to us all. Judson began his missionary service as a Congregationalist (that is, as a pedobaptist). While sailing around the world to his post, Judson's independent study of the New Testament convinced him that Christ instituted believer's baptism, not infant sprinkling. Upon arrival in India, Judson sought believer's baptism. Judson's change of theology put him in a peculiar position. Here he was, planning to live on Congregationalist support, yet newly possessed of Baptist convictions. The Congregationalists did not wish to fund Judson as a Baptist missionary. Judson neither threw a fit claiming that his rights had been violated nor sued anyone for support. He trusted in God to meet his needs, and God raised up support among American Baptists, vindicating Judson's integrity. The legacy of Adoniram Judson still lives among the Karen people and in the existence of such entities as the Southern Baptist Convention, since Judson's efforts became the nucleus around which Baptists in America first organized for missions. Hats off to Adoniram Judson. Thank you, dear brother, for your faithfulness to the Lord. See you soon.