Considered part of the “pulpit of the American Revolution,” and a leading advocate of the separation of church and state in Revolutionary-era America, Baptist pastor Isaac Backus was a pillar of early American evangelical thought. His works such as Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty and Government and Liberty Described and Ecclesiastical Tyranny Exposed open a valuable window into early America and the development of the ideals of religious liberty. Also an important historian, Backus wrote on the rise of Baptists in New England religious traditions. This collection samples a variety of his writings with treatises, histories, and theological works, along with a memoir of his life by Alvah Hovey.
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Isaac Backus (1724–1806) was an American Baptist preacher during the Revolutionary era and a leading advocate of Separatist churches. Backus was born in Yantic, now part of Norwich, Connecticut, to a farming family. Influenced by the First Great Awakening and revivalist James Davenport’s visit in 1741, the family became part of a Separatist Congregationalist church at Bean Hill. Ordained in 1748, Backus was much influenced by the writings of John Gill and became a Baptist, baptized in 1751. He pastored what became Middleborough First Baptist Church in Massachusetts for the rest of his life. He served as a delegate to the Massachusetts ratifying convention, voting in favor of ratifying the United States Constitution. He was a major leader of the transition from New Light to Baptist, and an outspoken advocate of religious liberty and the separation of church and state. His works on the subject, as well as his historical work, made important contributions to American evangelical thought.