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English Baptist General Confessions

THE STANDARD CONFESSION, 1660

Amidst the general excitement, shortly preceeding the Restoration, Baptists were remarkably quiet.  However, there was much talk in the nation of complicated political intrigues, and Baptists were commonly regarded as most dangerous plotters and sectaries.  Many spoke of what the "Anabaptists" in the Army were about to do.  The old stories of Münster were revived, and new editions of scurrilous writings against the Baptists were published.   Among such accusations included:

1. Opposition to magistracy
2. Desiring to destroy the public ministry of the nation.
3. Countenancing the Quakers in their irregular practices.
4. Endeavoring "a toleration of all miscarriages in things ecclesiastical and civil, under pretense of Liberty of Conscience."
5. Desiring to "murder and destroy" those who differ from Baptists in matters of religion.

It was against this background that a General Assembly of General Baptists met in London in March, 1660.  The Confession which they framed shows that the fearful slanders of their opponents were uppermost in their minds1 (see page 234).  The forty men who signed the Confession of 1660 were a fairly representative group in that they represented the chief General Baptist districts, however, the Confession did not represent "all" of the General Baptists of England and Wales in 1660.  Among the signatories, there were a few outstanding individuals:

Joseph Wright: A messenger who had received university training
William Jeffery: Though a young man, was already the author of the remarkable doctrinal work

Although Thomas Grantham was said to have composed the Confession, it should be noted that he did not even sign the Confession in 1660 and did not become prominent until some years later.  Thomas Monck of Hertforshire and Matthew Caffyn of Sussex and Kent may have made some contribution to the Confession. 

The Standard Confession is more of a confession of faith and less of a statement of practice than The Faith and Practice of Thirty Congregations.  The poor arrangement of subjects might indicate the Confession was drawn up hurriedly.  Theologically, the Confession is mildly Arminian.   There is a more elaborate eschatology than in any other Baptist confession of the period, but the language of the three articles on the subject is strictly scriptural.  

Though the Confession was presented to King Charles II on July 26, 1660, along with an address2, it did little to halt the persecution of Baptists, but they were spared temporarily by the official preoccupation with the more numberous and important Presbyterian dissenters. 

At the General Assembly in 1663, The Standard Confession was slightly rebised and reaffirmed by a larger circle of General Baptists.  In 1678 Thomas Grantham edited the Confession, with "a few explanatory supplements, and the testimony of many ancient writers of Christianity," and the changes made by him were approved by the Assembly of 1691.  From 1663 and on, it was considered the "Standard" Confession of General Baptists.

[This is the original version found in McGlothlin's Baptist Confessions of Faith.]

THE ASSEMBLY or SECOND LONDON CONFESSION, 1677 AND 1688, approved

A circular letter was sent to particular Baptist churches in England and Wales asking each assembly to send representatives to a meeting in London in 1677. A confession consciously modeled after the Westminster Confession of Faith was approved and published. It has ever since born the name of the Second London Confession. The First London Confession had been issued by seven Baptist congregations of London in 1644. That first document had been drawn up to distinguish newly organized Calvinistic Baptists from the Arminian Baptists and the Anabaptists. Because this second London Confession was drawn up in dark hours of oppression, it was issued anonymously.

"This little volume, is not issued as an authoritative rule, or code of faith, whereby you are to be fettered, but as an assistance to you in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness. Here the younger members of our church will have a body of divinity in small compass, and by means of Scriptural proofs, will be ready to give an account for the hope that is in them. Be not ashamed of your faith; remember it is the ancient gospel of martyrs, confessors, reformers and saints. Above all, it is "the truth of God", against which the gates of Hell cannot prevail. Let your lives adorn your faith, let your example adorn your creed. Above all live in Christ Jesus, and walk in Him, giving credence to no teaching but that which is manifestly approved of Him, and owned by the Holy Spirit. Cleave fast to the Word of God which is here mapped out for you."

Charles H. Spurgeon

1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith Utilites

Downloads for freeware applications regarding the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, BCFhelp and BCFAssistant.   Download this software to your computer and use many helpful resources for studying the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1677, approved 1689 [English]
The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith,

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [Pilipino, Tagalog]
Pagpapahayag ng Pananampalatayang Baptist ng 1689

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [Spanish]
La Confession De Fe De Londres De 1689

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [German]
Glaubensbekenntnis von 1689, translation used by permission, translated by Robert Kunstmann

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [Italian]
La Confessione Di Fede Battista Del 1689
The text for LA CONFESSIONE DI FEDE BATTISTA DEL 1689 was provided by Andrea Ferrari. HTML by TFE Webservant, mrbill@iserv.net.

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [Maltese]
L-ISTQARRIJA TA' FIDI BATTISTA 1689
The text for L-ISTQARRIJA TA' FIDI BATTISTA 1689 was provided by Paul Mizzi, copyright, Paul Mizzi, Trinity Evangelical Church, www.tecmalta.org

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [Croatian]
Baptisticka Ispovijed 1689
Copyright za Hrvatsku © 2007

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [Ukrainian]
Баптистське віровизнання 1689
Український переклад - Дмитро Бінцаровський (db@clib.ru)

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1689 [Russian]
Баптистское вероисповедание 1689 года
Download a zipped (Word) copy.

You must have the Cryllic font in order to view Russian
Set to ER Kurier KOI-8 or another appropriate font for viewing Russian.

The Second London Baptist Confession, 1677, approved 1689 [French]
1689 Londres Confession baptiste

 

For further study:

"Baptist Roots in America: The Historical Background of Reformed Baptists in America", Samuel E. Waldron, Simpson Publishing Co. (1991)

"A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith", Samuel E. Waldron, Evangelical Press, 1989

The Second London Baptist Confession, translated in Tamil by R. Bala.  1689-Chapter1.pdf

Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world. It is mainly spoken in Tamilnadu (a state in Southern India), Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia and has official language status in these nations.

When William Carey traveled to India, he found that the New Testament was already available in Tamil. It was the first eastern language in which the Bible was translated.

A Tabular Comparison of the 1646 WCF and the 1689 LBCF, ©James Anderson
Differences between these two Reformed confessions are colour-coded for ease of comparison.

THE ORTHODOX CREED, 1678 (currently not available)

The example of the Particular Baptists in publishing a new confession was closely followed by the General Baptists when, in 1678, they drew up their so-called "Orthodox Creed' to "unite and confirm all true Protestants in the fundamental articles of the Christian religion...."   Additional inspiration for the Creed lay in the desire to refute the Hoffmanite Christology which Matthew Caffyn, a General Baptist messenger, was preaching Kent and Sussex, and in the fear of a return of popery to England. 

The Creed was not published in the name of the General Assembly but of a group of the more earnestly orthodox General Baptist churches of the Midlands, in the counties of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, and Oxford.   On Jan. 30, 1678, fifty-four Messengers, Elders, and Brethren met "in the name of many baptized Christians or congregations in the several counties."  The Creed is supposed to have been particularly the work of Thomas Monck, a farmer and a Messenger in Buckinghamshire, who in 1673 had published A cure for the cankering error of the new Eutychains.

Theologically, in keeping with its unionistic purpose, the Confession approaches Calvinism more closely than any other General Baptist confession.  This disposition is particularly evident in the articles on "Predestination and Election" (IX), "Perseverance" (XXXVI), and "The Invisible Church" (XXXIX). Perhaps, indeed, the Creed is principally noteworthy as an early attempt at compromise between the two great systems of theology, thus anticipating the work of Andrew Fuller and others of the latter eighteenth century.  

A SHORT CONFESSION OR A BRIEF NARRATIVE OF FAITH, 1691

In the West Country during the last quarter of the seventeenth century there was a remarkable current away from Calvinism among some Particular Baptist churches founded by Thomas Collier, the “Apostle to the West.” Explanation for this drift may be found in Collier’s change of views and his desire to comprehend General as well as Particular Baptists in his circle. London Particular churches sent deputations to the West to persuade Collier of his error and to halt the tide of his influence. A few churches were reclaimed, some joined the Particular Baptist General Assembly in 1689. Others followed Collier in remaining aloof from it. These seem to have prepared the Somerset Confession of 1691 in response to the Assembly Confession of two years earlier, against which Collier dissented at a number of points.

The Somerset Confession could not have been prepared by a General Baptist group, as McGlothlin says, in spite of the General Baptist tone of some of its articles. General Baptists were few in the Somerset area in 1691, and they do not seem to have had an associational life until after 1693.  What is more important, the Confession clearly shows its author’s Calvinistic patterns of thought, and in its longest chapter (XXIII) it speaks with deliberate criticism of a learned ministry. The Particular Baptist General Assembly had recently given much attention to the problem of raising up a trained ministry, and this article apparently gives the answer of the extra-Assembly Particular churches of the West to this emphasis. Two reasons were stated for publishing the Confession: to provide a basis of agreement for churches in the area and to clear the authors of suspicion in the eyes of Baptists that they were “a people degenerated from almost all other baptized congregations.”

The Confession is notable for its clarity and force of expression. It is concerned primarily with doctrine, though there is an elaborate and informative article on the Church.  The order and form of the articles are entirely independent; neither the Westminster nor the 1656 Somerset Confession is followed. The Confession probably did not find use beyond the West of England. Its significance lies in the departure shown in it by one Particular Baptist group from the heightening Calvinism of the late seventeenth century, and in its attempt to speak for both Particular and General Baptists.

"Baptist Confessions of Faith", Lumpkin
(confession text is from, "The History of the English Bapitsts", Vol. II, Crosby)

THE COALHEAVER'S CONFESSION, 1745

Written by William Huntington (1745-1813) and though there is no claim of being associated with Baptist General Confessions in particular or generally accepted by any number of congregations in England at the time, the confession is still noteworthy to study.  The confession was written and published solely by William Huntington and displays the theological teaching within his own church which undoubtedly influenced much of his congregation and others. 

ARTICLES OF RELIGION OF THE NEW CONNEXION, 1770

Revival came to the General Baptists from beyond their own ranks in the second half of the eighteenth century as a consequence of the Evangelical Awakening.  Daniel Taylor, a young miner of Yorkshire, was converted under Wesleyan preaching.  Disagreeing with Wesley's views on discipline, he became a minister in 1762 of a little group of Methodist seceders at Wadsworth, near Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire.  His study of the scriptures soon led him to reject infant baptism, and in 1763 he was baptized at the hands of a General Baptist pastor at Gamston, Nottinghamshire.

Taylor carried some of his people with him in his change of views, and he represented them at the Assembly of the Lincolnshire General Baptists that year.  However, Taylor became distressed at the doctrinal laxity and backwardness of outlook found as he attended the General Assembly in London. 

The primary purpose for the Articles of Religion of the New Connexion was "to revive experimental religion or primitive Christianity in faith and practice."  These articles did not pretend to be a thorough summary of the Christian faith, but rather to indicate the distinguishing tenets of the New Connexion.  Daniel Taylor gave further circulation to the Articles when he incorporated their views in a catechism for children and young people and when, in more elaborate form, he prepared a confession of faith based upon the Articles for his London church (1785)

Footnotes:

1 Whitley, Minutes. I, 20-21[return]
2 Crosby, op. cit., II, 19 f; Taylor, op. cit., I 186 f.[return]

 

THE GOATYARD DECLARATION OF FAITH, 1792
A Declaration of the Faith and Practice of the Church of Christ at Horsely-down, under the Pastoral Care of Mr. John Gill, &c.
 

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