When he was 15 years old, David Marks began preaching in New England. In 1820, he was the first Free Will Baptist minister to be dubbed “the boy preacher.” Though he had no formal training, he usually preached seven to ten meetings a week. He memorized the Gospels, Acts, and Romans and had the habit of stepping into the pulpit and asking the congregation to give a text from which he then preached.
Something happened on March 28,1830, while he traveled in New York, that reflects on his perception and understanding. He visited in the house of Mr. Whitmer, one of “eight witnesses” of a newly-published book titled, Book of Mormon or Golden Bible.
Marks was asked to purchase a copy, but he responded, “I could not in good conscience, lest I support a deception.” Someone loaned him a copy, and after reading 250 pages, Marks concluded that “it had probably been written originally by an infidel to see how much he could impose on the credulity of men, and to get money.”
Marks was 25 years old when he first saw the Book of Mormon. He said,
On reviewing this pretended revelation, I was forcibly struck with the contrast between the introduction of the gospel of Christ and that of the Book of Mormon. The former came down from heaven; the latter is said to have been dug out of the earth. The gospel was first preached openly with power in the sight of all men and written afterwards; the Book of Mormon was first written secretly and out of the sight of all men…
At his death on December 1, 1845, David Marks’ last words were, “I die a Free Will Baptist.”
About the Writer: Jack Williams is a member of the Free Will Baptist Historical Commission