Happy Memorial day everybody! Today is a day which is set apart for the purpose of remembering all those who died in the service of our country. Countless multitudes of soldiers have given the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy today. As a Blood-bought Baptist believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I think of those Baptists who paid the maximum price for us. One example that comes to mind is that of Benjamin Merrill. Mr. Merrill was a prominent Baptist in the North Carolina area under the royal governorship of William Tryon. Governor Tryon hated Baptists. Tryon was an Episcopal (the North Carolina state church in 1771). History tells us of the Battle of the Regulators, or the Battle of Alamance, but it is not widely reported that the battle was much more about stifling the revival taking place through Sandy Creek Baptist Church and Pastor Shubal Stearns. The proponents of the church - state relationship were very upset with the rise of this new group of Baptists preaching a separation of church and state and religious freedom. Benjamin Merrill was one of the Baptists who defended religious freedom and fought taxation without representation. Let's read the historical account of the noble death of Mr. Merrill. Praise the Lord for Benjamin Merrill and all other patriots who gave their life for us.
At the Battle of Alamance on 16 May 1771, the militia under the command
of Royal Governor William Tryon defeated approximately 2,000 Regulators.
It may never be possible to identify all of the Regulators. Many have
been lost to history. Of the six who were hanged at Hillsborough after
the battle, the names of two are no longer known.
Capt. Benjamin Merrell, one of the North Carolina "Regulators"(colonial
patriots opposing British tyranny) was hanged by colonial North Carolina
Governor Tyron, June 19, 1771, helping plant seeds for the Revolutionary
War of 1776. He was thus ahead of Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and
others in striking a blow for freedom. He went to the gallows with a
song of liberty on his lips. He said he had been converted 15 years
earlier, but had backslidden, yet now felt he had been truly forgiven
and would not change places with anyone on the grounds. He then faced
Governor Tyron's sentence:
"You are to be hanged by the Neck; that you be cut down while yet alive,
that your Bowels be taken out and burnt before your Face, that your head
be cut off, your Body divided into Four Quarters, and this be at his
Majesty's Disposal; and the Lord have Mercy on your Soul." His wife and
eight children were forced to watch, including his youngest, Jonathan,
6, our continuing direct ancestor.
"In a few minutes," he said on the gallows, "I shall leave a widow and
eight children. I entreat that no reflection be past on them on my
account and, if possible, I shall deem it a bounty, should you gentlemen
petition the Governor and Council that some part of my estate be spared
to the widow and fatherless."
One of Governor Tyron's militiamen, deeply moved by his speech, was
heard to say, "If all men went to the gallows with a character such as
Captain Merrell's, hanging would be an honorable death."
Today at Alamance National Battlefield Park near Alamance, NC, off
Interstate 85, a granite monument marks his contribution to freedom,
near the spot he yielded up his life for it.