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Elder Wilson Thompson

Elder Wilson Thompson, (1788-1866), a native of Hillsborough, Ky., is regarded as the ablest Primitive Baptist minister that ever lived in the United States. He was of an old Bap­tist family, of English, Welsh, Scotch, Irish and German descent. He had re­ligious impressions from his earliest recollections; and, during the first twelve years of his life, without any instruction from any person or book, be became a thorough graduate in Arminian, Pharisaical or natural relig­ion—"getting religion” himself by his own resolutions and exertions, idol­izing “the Sabbath,” attaining perfec­tion in the flesh, assured that he was bound for heaven, despising the peo­ple of God, as far below himself in religious knowledge and attainments; then “falling from grace,” “taking his fill of sin,” then afterwards terrified anew by natural convictions, going to work again with more zeal than ever to ingratiate himself into the favor of God, repenting and praying more, and doing more good works until he felt he was sinless and resolved he never would commit another sin. He rested in the persuasion of his own right­eousness, with which he believed God was well pleased. While in his thirtieth year he went to see Elder James Lee baptize some candidates, among others, a small slender girl, named Mary Grigg, who afterward became Elder Thompson’s wife; and, while this girl was being led into the water, suddenly all nature seemed to him to be overspread with a dark, heavy, angry, threatening gloom, and he felt like one forsaken of God and man, the most loathsome and guilty wretch that ever lived on earth, utter­ly corrupt without and within, and justly exposed to the everlasting wrath of an infinitely holy God. He left the company and the water in despair, and sought a deep ravine in the wood, expecting there to die alone. For three days and nights he continued in such gloom that he did not seem to have one hopeful thought of his salvation, and, while his heart was all the time pleading for mercy, if mercy were possible,, he did not dare to make a formal prayer, because feel­ing it impossible for a holy God to pardon such a sinner as himself. Still he would seek the woods, fall on his knees, close his eyes, and make con­fession of his sinfulness and of God’s justice in his condemnation. While thus engaged, on the fourth day, he was startled three times by the sud­den appearance of a glittering bright­ness, visible only when his eyes were closed, and each time increasing in brilliancy, so that at last in amaze­ment he sprang to his feet, opened his eyes, and saw all nature glittering with the glory of God. He was com­pletely captivated with the scene, the gloom and the burden of sin were gone; but he soon began to be trou­bled because his trouble had left him, and never once thought of this being conversion. After many seasons of re­joicings, doubts and fears, he united with the church in 1801 and was baptized by Elder Jns. Lee. When raised from the water he felt a strong desire to speak of the glorious plan of salva­tion, but remaining silent in lan­guage, he burst into tears and came out of the water weeping like a child. For many years he resisted the im­pressions to preach, feeling he would rather die than expose his ignorance in this public way. He was so troubled in mind and lost so much sleep and appetite that his parents feared he would commit suicide and had him to sleep in the room with them. One night after all had retired, and the fire had burned down. a shadowy form seemed to approach him, and say, “I know your trouble, and your great desire to know what you should do ; and I have come to tell you. Read the sixth and tenth chapters of Matthew, and to every sentence, answer, "I am the man," and you will soon come to know your duty.” This was done and said three times. He believed that the appear­ance was not literal, but a vision (Acts 2:17-18), He was soon licensed to preach. His first text, February, 1810, was John x:2, 3; and was or­dained January, 1812, by Elders Stephen Stilley and John Tanner. He was about this time led to the then Territory of Missouri where be bap­tized some four or five hundred per­sons. From Missouri he moved to Leb­anon, Ohio, and In 1834 moved to Fay­ette County, Ind., and became pastor of churches in the White Water Asso­ciation. During the year of 1843 there were two hundred and forty-seven per­sons that joined the churches of this association. While residing in Indi­ana he made extensive tours of preaching in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Ken­tucky, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia; and his ministerial gifts and Christian virtues shone with starry brilliancy. Elder Thompson was the author of several books and pam­phlets, among them “Simple Truth!,” “Triumphs of Truth,” “An Address to the Baptists of the United States,” in 1850, and his “Autobiography.” He was a strong writer, able debater and powerful pulpit orator.  

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Item Title
The Life of Wilson Thompson
Autobiography: Early Religious Impressions
Autobiography: From Law to Grace — and Baptism
Autobiography: Impressions to Preach and First Public Exercising
Autobiography: First Months of Preaching
Autobiography: Journey to Missouri
Autobiography: First Eight Months in Missouri
Autobiography: A Trip Back to Kentucky
Autobiography: Back in Missouri; the Clouds Break
Autobiography: The Revival in Missouri
Autobiography: The Revival Continued in Missouri
Autobiography: Conflict and Deliverance
Autobiography: Churches Added in Missouri
Autobiography: Trial in Sickness
Autobiography: The Decision to Leave Missouri and Labor in Ohio
Autobiography: Labor in the Ohio Churches; A Revival
Autobiography: First Contact with Missionary Concept
Autobiography: More Labor in the Ohio Churches-Lebanon Church
Autobiography: The Controversy at Sugar Creek Church Concerning Conditional Salvation
Autobiography: Full-time Labor in the Ohio Churches
Autobiography: Experience at an Association
Autobiography: Sermon on Jesus’ Eternal Natures Elder Thompson Vindicated
Autobiography: Impressions to Leave Ohio and Reasons for the Move
Autobiography: Second Revival at Lebanon
Autobiography: Concern for the Church; the “Revival” in Cincinnati
Autobiography: The Move to Indiana
Autobiography: Last Ministerial Labors and Death
A Funeral Discourse Delivered by Elder Thompson in 1859
Simple Truth: Preface
Simple Truth: Chapter 1
Simple Truth: Chapter 2
Simple Truth: Chapter 3
Simple Truth: Chapter 4
Simple Truth: Chapter 5
Simple Truth: Chapter 6
Simple Truth: Chapter 7
Simple Truth: The Two Covenants
Triumphs Of Truth: Introduction
Triumphs Of Truth: Preface
Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 1
Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 2
Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 3
Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 4
Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 5
Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 6
Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 7
Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 8
Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 9
Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 10
Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 11
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.