Monday, 27 May 2013

One Heart and One Soul

I am currently doing the hard labor of researching the late eighteenth-century English Particular Baptists of the Northamptonshire Association, and their relationship with the Scottish minister John Erskine. Some of this work I already did for my book on John Erskine, but I am trying to unpack this connection in greater detail.

Although I have owned Michael Haykin's One Heart and One Soul: John Sutcliff of Olney, His Friends and His Times for quite some time, I haven't read the whole of it until now. As I mentioned to Dr. Haykin in a recent email, I was blown away at the scholarship in this book as well as his lucid narratives of the English Baptists John Sutcliff and his friends Andrew Fuller, John Ryland Jr., and William Carey (among others). Haykin's book should be one of the first sources to consult for scholars interested in the context and theological development among late eighteenth-century Calvinistic Baptists. Of particular interest to me is the influence that Jonathan Edwards had on Sutcliff, Fuller, Ryland (Sr. and Jr.), and Carey, which Haykin explicitly states throughout his book. I hope that Haykin is able to find a publisher to reprint this very important monograph.

From my previous research, I discovered several letters by Erskine in which he included books by Edwards in his packets to John Collett Ryland and John Ryland Jr. I had the privilege of transcribing, for instance, the letter by Erskine on March 15, 1784 to the younger Ryland in which he sent Edwards's Humble Attempt, the book that became the catalyst for the prayer revival among the Northamptonshire Association, which ultimately led to the formation of the Baptist Missionary Society. The burden of my thesis is to show Erskine as crucial in the influential process that Edwards's writings had on key leaders among the English Particular Baptists of the Northamptonshire Association.

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