Isaac was born Jan. 9, 1724 in Norwich, Connecticut. He grew up in the Congregational church although he did not become a member until ten months after his conversion at the age of seventeen. He came under the influence of the The Great Awakening in New England and was converted in 1741. He delayed joining the Congregational Church because of its lack of church discipline and low spiritual life. He, along with a few others. soon separated and began another church that was committed to spiritual life. His preaching ability was noticed by others and in 1748 he was called to his first pastorate of a separate church at Middleborough. He was ordained in 1748. While he was pastor during there was a two year struggle in the church over the subject of baptism. Isaac studied this subject thoroughly and came to the Baptist position of believer’s baptism. He submitted to the same at the hands of Pastor Pierce from Rhode Island. The church then voted him out of membership.
In Massachusetts at that time, Baptists were subject to great persecution by the civil powers. Their houses and lands were taken when they refused to pay taxes to support the state churches. Many were imprisoned for refusing to support false religion. In 1774 Isaac was asked by the Baptists to represent them in this matter, both in Massachusetts, and the new Congress. In 1774 he went to the Continental Congress and told the oppressions of Baptists in the colonies.
What he said was often twisted and vicious lies were told. Some accused him of presenting false charges of oppression in order to keep the colonies from uniting in defending liberty. He returned to the Congress to clarify the issue.
He spent the next five years writing articles to explain the need of religious liberty. Finally a new constitution was adopted which allowed Baptists, if they gave in certificates to the ruling sect that they belonged to a Baptist society, and desired their money to go to the minister thereof, he, the minister, could sue the money out of the hands of those who took it. In 1785
Isaac went to the congressional committee of grievances to object to this compromise. The committee refused to listen. It was nearly 50 years before full religious liberty was finally granted. He was able to some fruit for his labor but it was not until 1833 that the full fruit was realized, some seven years after his death. Although he saw some relief, the entire fruit of his work was not enjoyed until 1833 following his death.
We have religious liberty because of the efforts of Isaac Backus and other grate Baptists of his day.
Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved