As Burning Fire Blog

Monday, November 23, 2009

Obadiah Holmes, "Ye have beaten me as with roses"

Born 1606 in Reddish, Lancashire County, England. Obadiah was the son of Robert and Catherine Johnson Homes. In 1638, Holmes came to New England. Settling first in Salem, and later in Rehobeth, Massachusetts.

While in Rehobeth, Holmes attained the status of Freeman. Which gave him voice and vote as a citizen. It was also in Rehobeth that Holmes attained freedom in his soul. After his conversion, Holmes united with the Baptists and moved to Rhode Island in search of religious liberty.

In 1651, Holmes accompanied John Clarke and John Crandall to Lynn, Massachusetts to worship in the home of William Witter. This trip would yield one of the greatest contributions to religious liberty in American history!

On July 20, 1651, while Clarke preached, the three were arrested and charged with "seducing and drawing aside others after their erroneous judgment and practices." They were fined and if the fines were not paid they were to be well whipped. Holmes viewed the payment of the fine as a admission of guilt and chose instead to suffer for conscience sake.

On September 5, 1651, Holmes was led to the post in Boston and there, with his blood, he sealed what he believed. He was given thirty lashes with a three-corded whip, the executioner using all his strength. Holmes said, "As the man began to lay the strokes upon my back, I said to the people, though my flesh should fail, yet God will not fail. So it pleased the Lord to come in, and fill my heart and tongue as a vessel full. And with audible voice I break forth, praying the Lord not to lay this sin to their charge. And telling the people I found he did not fail me, and therefore now I should trust him forever who failed me not. For in truth, as the strokes fell upon me, I had such a spiritual manifestation of God's presence as I never had before, and the outward pain was so removed from me, that I could well bear it. Yea, and in a manner felt it not, although it was grievous."

When he was released from the post, he said to the Magistrates, "Ye have beaten me as with roses."

Holmes was the second pastor of the Baptist Church in Newport. He and his wife, Catherine Hyde, were blessed with ten children. Their posterity includes Abraham Lincoln and the "Browns of Providence Plantations."

He died October 15, 1682.

For this is thankworthy. If a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 1 Peter 2:19

Marker placed by the Baptist History preservation Society - May 6, 2003
Location: Calvary Baptist Church, 4 Ludlow Terrace, Middletown, RI

Holmes was beaten behind the Boston Statehouse, pictured above.

We had quite an adventure finding Obadiah Holmes' grave site since it had no definite "address." We finally found it on Summerfield Lane just behind 178 Vaucluse Lane in Middletown, RI. For those interested here are the coordinates +41° 30' 40.98", -71° 14' 33.72"



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