committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

CATECHISM

OF

ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY

 

     Question. What is ecclesiastical history?
     Answer. It is the history of the church.
     Q. Why is it so called?
     A. Because the Greek word used by Christ and the apostles to designate the church is ecclesia.
     Q. What does this word mean?
     A. It means the called out, or separated, a congregation.
     Q. What is a church, then?
     A. It is a congregation of people called out by the gospel, and separated from the world to do business for Christ.
     Q. Does it include all the saved?
     A. No. There are many saved people who do not belong to the church.
     Q. To what, then, do they belong?
     A. The family of God.
     Q. What is a kingdom?
     A. It is a government.
     Q. Of what does it consist?
     A. Of a king, subjects and laws.
     Q. Of what does Christ’s kingdom consist?
     A. Christ as King, his law-abiding children as subjects, and his written word as the law.
     Q. What are the executive powers in the kingdom?
     A. The local churches of Jesus Christ, of which the kingdom is composed.
     Q. Are the church and kingdom visible or invisible?
     A. They are both visible. The kingdom is made up of local, visible churches, and these local churches are made up of men and women of mature years.
     Q. Is the kingdom ever mentioned except in this sense?
     A. Yes. Sometimes we have the term kingdom, when its glory is referred to, and it is also used with reference to Christ’s reign in the coming age.
     Q. Does the church ever mean anythin but a congregation?
     A. No. It always means a local assembly whether on earth or in heaven.
     Q. Does the Bible teach that there is a universal, invisible church?
     A. No. It nowhere so teaches.
     Q. Who have a right to become members of the church?
     A. Those who have repented of their sins, exercised faith in Christ, and have been baptized upon a profession of this faith, by one properly authorized to administer this rite.
     Q. Does the Bible give infants the right to become members of the churches?
     A. No. It nowhere, either by precept or example, gives us the right to receive infants into the church.
     Q. Who has a right to administer baptism?
     A. The commission to baptize was given to the true church of Jesus Christ, and only those who are authorized by this church have a scriptural right to baptize.
     Q. Are baptisms administered by others valid?
     A. No. And no such baptisms should ever be received by a Baptist church.
     Q. When did the church begin on earth?
     A. During the personal ministry of Christ.
     Q. Who was its founder?
     A. Jesus Christ.
     Q. Who were its first members?
     A. The twelve apostles.
     Q. Had they been baptized?
     A. They had.
     Q. By whom had they been baptized?
     A. By a Baptist preacher.
     Q. Did this make them Baptists?
     A. It did.
     Q. Would a church composed of these be a Baptist church?
     A. Yes. I can not see how a church composed of individual Baptists, could be any- thing but a Baptist church.
     Q. Does this church exist today?
     A. Yes. To say that it does not is to dispute the Bible and history.
     Q. Is it a Baptist church?
     A. Yes. If it was a Baptist church at the beginning, and that same church exists today, it, of course, is a Baptist church now.
     Q. How may we know that the church constituted by Christ, has been perpetuated through the centuries to the present time?
     A. Because, the Bible said it would be, and history tells us it has been.
     Q. Where do we find the representatives the true church now?
     A. In all true Baptist churches.
     Q. Why?
     A. Because all true Baptist churches are legimate successors of the first church constituted by Christ Himself; just as every man now living is the legitimate successor of Adam, the first man.
     Q. What do we find in the Bible about this church being perpetuated?
     A. Christ said: “The gates of hell shall not of prevail against it.” Matt. 16:18.
     Q. Is this all?
     A. No. Christ said again, in giving the commission to his church, “that he would be with them alway, even unto the end of the world.” See Matt. 28:20.
     Q. Is there anything more said about the church continuing through the ages?
     A. Yes. Paul says, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Eph. 3:21.
     Q. Do the prophets say anything about it?
     A. Yes. Daniel, in speaking of the kingdom to be composed of the local churches, says: “It shall never be destroyed, and shall not be left to other people, and shall stand forever.” Dan. 2:44.
     Q. Is this all?
     A. No. There are many other places, in both the Old and the New Scriptures, which either directly or indirectly imply the perpetuity of Baptist churches.
     Q. Were these churches always called Baptist churches?
     A. No. At first they were just called churches. Sometimes they were spoken of as
churches of Christ, church of God, etc., simply indicating the possessive case.
     Q. How came them to be called Baptist churches?
     A. It is by churches as it is by families. There was a time when families were so few that there were no family names to distinguish them. But when they multiplied they took the name of their occupation, complexion, etc., to distinguish them. Just so when there were none but the churches now known as Baptist churches, there was no need for distinguishing names. But when men began to start institutions and call them churches, they also began to give to them distinguishing names. The Baptists still contented themselves with the simple title of churches. Their enemies, however, began to give to them names; most usually calling them after some of their prominent ministers, like some of our brethren now are sometimes dubbed as Gravesites from the lamented J. R. Graves. In this way their enemies called them from time to time by such names as Novatians, Donatists, Vaudois, Waldenses, Mennonites, Paulicians, Petrobrusians, etc., after some distinguished ministers in their ranks, or in the country in which they lived. The whole were dubbed as Ana-baptists, which means new baptizers. The Baptists, however, protested, and said they were not Ana-baptists, but simply Baptists. That they did not re-baptize people, but simply baptized all who came to them from other societies whose former baptism was not legal, and consequently no baptism. This is what Baptists do today. In one sense they re-baptize those coming to them from other denominations; but in the strict sense, their former effort at baptism was not baptism, therefore, strictly speaking, it is not re-baptism, but baptizing those whose baptism is not valid.
     Q. Were all the people called by these various names really Baptists?
     A. No. It was then like it is now. There are now a great many people called Baptists who are not really Baptists and do not belong to the regular Baptists. We mention as exampies the Dunkards, Seventh Day Baptists, Free Will Baptists, etc.
     Q. How came the Baptists to adopt the name Baptist?
     A. When the lReformation came about, numerous Pedo-baptist denominations were being born, which sprinkled and poured for baptism. To distinguish their churches from these sprinkling churches, the Baptists called their churches “Baptized Churches.” They put forth a confession of faith of “Baptized Churches” known today as the London or Philadelphia Confession of Faith. The expression “Baptized Churches” was contracted into Baptist churches, thus the present name.
     Q. Are these the same people that came down from Christ and the apostles by these other names?
     A. Yes. There is not a time since the days of the apostles that the people known now as Baptists did not exist. At all times during this period people have lived who, if living today, would be called Baptists.
     Q. Is it not strange, if they were the same people, that they would have so many different names?
     A. I will let Alexander Campbell, an enemy of the Baptists, answer this question. He says: “The disciples of Christ are the same race, call them Christians, Nazarenes, Galileans, Novatians, Donatists, Paulicians, Waldenses, Albigenses, Protestants, or what you please. A variety of designation affects not the fact which we allege; we can find an unbroken series of Protestants—a regular succession of those who protested against the corruptions of the Roman church, and endeavored to hold fast the faith once delivered to the saints, from the first schism in the year 250 A. D. to the present day; and you may apply to them what description or designation you please.” (Campbell-Purcell Debate, p. 77).
     Q. Who were these people to whom Mr. Campbell refers, who protested against the corruptions of Rome through the ages?
     A. We will let Mr. Campbell himself answer it: “There is nothing more congenial to civil liberty than to enjoy an uniestrained, unembargoed liberty of exercising the conscience freely upon all subjects respecting religion. Hence it is that the Baptist denomination, in all ages and in all centuries, has been, as a body. the constant asserters of the rights of man and of liberty of conscience.” (Campbell on Baptism, p. 409.)
     Q. Are there any other historians who have borne testimony to the apostolic origin of the Baptists?
     A. Yes. Mosheim. the great ecclesiastical historian, Chancellor of the University of Gottingen, and a Lutheran minister, says: “The true origin of that sect which acquired the denomination of Ana-baptists by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion, and derived that of Mennonites from that famous man to whom they owe the greatest part of their present felicity, is hidden in the depths of antiquity and is, of consequence, extremely difficult to be ascertained.” (Church History Vol. 2, page 127).
     Zwingli, the great Swiss reformer, who wrote about 1530 A. D., says: “The institution of Ana-baptism is no novelty, but for 1300 years has caused great disturbance in the church, and has acquired such a strength that the attempt in this age to contend with it appeared futile for a time.” This, as you see, would carry their history back to 230 A. D., about the time when the apostacy, which afterward developed into the Roman papacy, had reached the point where the true church was forced to withdraw from them and protest against their corruptions and re-baptize those baptized by this Romish party. Hence this Romish party began about this time to brand the true church, which is now called Baptists, as Ana-baptists. Cardinal Hosius, a Roman Catholic, and President of the Council of Trent, in 1650, said:
     “The Ana-Baptists (Baptists, * * * for the past twelve hundred years, had * * undergone the most cruel sorts of punishment.”
     In 1819 the King of Holland appointed Dr. Ypeij, professor of theology in the University of Gronigen, and Rev. J. J. Dermont, chaplain to the king, neither of whom were Baptists, but were members of the Dutch Reformed Church, to write up a history of their church. In preparing said work they found so much about the Baptists that they finally put forth this striking statement:
     “We have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Ana-baptists, and in later times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses and who long in the history of the church received the honor of that origin.
     “On this account the Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the apostles, and as a Christian society has preserved pure the doctrine of the gospel through all ages.”
     Q. Were any of the above authors Baptists?
     A. No. But truth and candor forced them to bear this testimony to the perpetuity of Baptists.
     Q. Were the real Ana-baptists, which were the ancestors of the Baptists of today, identical with the “mad men (Ana-baptists) of Munster?”
     A. No. There is no connection whatever between the real Ana-baptists which extend back through the ages, and the “mad men of Munster,” and any effort to connect the two is a slander on an upright and honorable people.
     Q. Why is this often done?
     A. There are two reasons. First, some are honestly misled. The “mad men of Munster” re-baptized, and on this account were called Ana-baptists. Receiving the same appellation with the real Ana-baptists, some have honestly thought them to be the same people. And, secondly, the enemies of the Baptists have wilfully and maliciously so represented them, hoping to cast odium upon the Baptists.
     Q. Why did not the Baptists write their own history through the centuries prior to the Reformation?
     A. Because of persecution. They were hunted down as criminals by Catholics, on account of their faith. It was conceded that they were the most pious and honorable citizens to be found anywhere. Yet, for no other cause except that they believed and taught Baptist doctrine, and refused to have their children sprinkled, and submit to the authority of the Catholic church, they were thrown into prison, their property confiscated and thousands of them killed. The enemies of Baptists taxed their ingenuity to devise the most cruel tortures for the punishment and death of Baptists. They were drowned, burned at the stake, tore their flesh with red hot pinchers, pulled out their tongues, gouged out their eyes, put them in stretchers and pulled off their arms and legs, ripped open women, taking unborn children from their bowels, took babes from their mother’s arms and murdered them before their eyes, and every other conceivable mode of cruelty and death did the poor Baptists suffer simply because they dared to be Baptists. To avoid these cruelties the Baptists wrote but little, and what they did write, when found out by their enemies, was destroyed. So this answers the question, why they did not write their own history.
     Q. How, then, do we get their history through these times?
     A. It is gathered from what their enemies wrote against them, and the court records, and the records of the abominable inquisition. These give accounts of how they were carried through mock trials, similar to that through which Christ passed, and of how they were sentenced by Catholic officials to those cruel deaths, and then of their soul-harrowing executions.
     Q. How did they act in these severe trials?
     A. Men, women and maidens often marched to the stake, and other places of execution, singing the sweet songs of Zion. And sometimes at the stake they would shout the praises of God amid the flames, until the flames would still their voices in death, and their spirits would fly away to be with God.
     Q. Did Protestants ever persecute Baptists?
     A. They did.
     Q. Can you give some instances of Baptists being persecuted by Protestants?
     A. Yes. When the Reformation was inaugurated by Martin Luther, the persecuted Baptists came from their hiding places, where they had been driven by papal persecution, thinking to find friends of the Protestants. But to their surprise, the same cruelty which Rome had inflicted upon them, began to be repeated by the Protestants. The Protestant inquisition was but little better than that of Rome, and Baptist blood was made to flow freely. It was in proud Old England in 1546. that sweet Anne Askew, a beautiful young Baptist woman of twenty-four summers, was tried (?) and condemned, with three others, to be burned at the stake. They first put her on the rack and tortured her to make her give up the Baptist faith. She was stretched on the rack until her limbs were almost torn from her body. Her God sustained her, notwithstanding her tortures were so severe she was not able to walk to the place of execution, but had to be carried on a chair. When they stood before the flames, which had already been kindled to intimidate her, they again presented a written pardon to her from the king, if she would only recant and give up her Baptist faith. But she “turned away from it and fell into the flame, a martyr to the Baptist faith, while her spirit bounded away to be with Christ, her Elder Brother, who nearly two thousand years ago walked upon this earth and established the Baptist faith for which she died.”
     Four years later Joan Boucher of Kent, doubtless a member of the Baptist church at Eythorne, was arrested and kept in prison a year and a half and then burned at the stake May 2,1550. And to add insult to injury, one of these hell-born demons, calling himself a Protestant minister, would preach to them while they were dying in the flames.
     Hendrick Terwoort was burned in Smithfield by Protestants, June 22, 1575. Scores of others too numerous to mention by name, suffered the same fate at the hands of English Protestants.
     John Bunyan, the “immortal dreamer,” lay in Bedford jail, twelve long years at the hands of Protestants. And while I pen these lines, in this boasted twentieth century, our Baptist brethren in England are being imprisoned because they will not pay that iniquitous church educational tax.
     Q. Have Baptists ever been persecuted by Protestants in America?
     A. They have.
     Q. Of what did this persecution consist?
     A. Baptist ministers and others were arrested, put in prison, fined and their property taken from them, and in some instances they were most brutally whipped on the bare back.
     Q. Can you name some parties who suffered thus at the hands of Protestants here in America?
     A. Yes. Elders John Clarke and Obadiah Holmes, with James Crandall, all members, and John Clarke, pastor, of the Baptist church at Newport, Rhode Island. To this church also belonged Win. Witter, a plain old farmer, who was blind. He lived at Lynn, Massachusetts, seventy-five miles from his church. He not being able to attend his church this distance, on account of his infirmities, the three above-named brethren set out on horseback to comfort this old blind saint and to hold services in his house. They started so as to spend Sunday with him. On Sunday, a few of the neighbors gathered in and John Clarke, the pastor, was preaching to them, using as a text, Revelation 3:10. While he was preaching the Word, in power and demonstration of the Spirit, they were arrested as though the preaching of the Word to this aged saint and his family was a grave and heinous crime. They were carried to the State Church where the officers tried to force them to worship. Being unable to do this, they were carried to Boston on Monday and thrust into prison, as though they were felons. They were tried and fined sums amounting in our coin as follows: Clarkc one hundred dollars, Holmes one hundred and fifty dollars, Crandall twenty-five dollars. In consequence of failure to pay said amounts they were to be publicly whipped, on their bare
bodies. While Clarke stood stripped, at the whipping post, some unknown person was moved to pay his fine, and also that of Crandall. But Holmes received thirty lashes on the bare back and it is said that the blood from his lashed back ran down to the ground. This occurred in Boston, Massachusetts, on September 6th, 1651 A. D. Can you imagine a Baptist preacher, for no other crime than holding meeting with a poor old blind brother, being stripped of his clothing, tied to a stake arid the lash upon his bare back! See the skin as it is laid open, the flesh quiver, and the blood flow, all for no other crime than that he dared to preach Baptist doctrine! And all this, here in what is now free America, and at the hands of Protestants. Yet amid it all, Holmes rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake. But it was left for Dr. Dexter, in 1876 A. D., to sneer at this bleeding child of God. This same Dexter is the one to whom Whitsitt went for most of his “new discovery” and the one upon whom he is so lavish in his praise. And this sneer at Holmes is found in the same work from which Whitsitt so largely quotes.
     This is only one case in many, and it would require more space than could be allotted to this work to record the sufferings of these New England and Virginia Baptists. The scenes of Culpepper and Fredericksburg jails are enough to make the blood boil in the veins of every true Baptist. It was here the Baptists were imprisoned, and were forced to preach through prison bars, or not preach at all. They chose the former, and through prison bars could be heard the glad notes of salvation from these persecuted and imprisoned Baptists. This was very much like Paul and Silas in the jail at Philippi.
     Q. Did Baptists ever persecute any one else for conscience sake?
     A. No. But I will let Alexander Campbell speak for the Baptists. He says: “They (Baptists) have often been persecuted by Pedo-baptists; but they never politically persecuted, though they have had it in their power.” (Campbell on Baptism, p. 409.)
     Baptists have always stood for religious liberty that would guarantee to one and all the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. It was through the influence of the Baptists that provision granting this right was inserted in the Constitution of the United States. Baneroft could well say: “Religious liberty is from the very first a trophy of the Baptists.” And it is no exaggeration to say, that the broad sweep of religious liberty enjoyed at the present age of the world, is due to the influence of the Baptists.
     Q. What about the claim that Roger Wilhams is the founder of the Baptists in America?
     A. This is like many other schemes which have been invented to rob the Baptists of the heritage they have won through the blood of their martyrs.
     Roger Williams was a great and good man, and I had rather place two laurels on his brow, as to take one away to which he is justly entitled. That he was among the early men of distinction to advocate Baptist principles in America can not be called in question, and has never been denied. But to claim that he was the founder of American Baptists is another thing, and a distinction that no doubt he would spurn, were he here to answer for himself.
     The facts, as history presents them, seem to be as follows: Roger Williams, though a Baptist in principle, and justly spoken of as a Baptist, was never regularly connected with a Baptist church, nor fully in accord with them on all points of doctrine. Four months after his irregular baptism, he abandoned the congregation and was never connected with it again. The church established by him, after some four years, disbanded, and the present first church of Providence, Rhode Island, is not the one constituted by Roger Williams and his comrades. While the history of this period is not clear on all points, for want of records, yet it is clear that no Baptist church in America has descended from Roger Williams, or his irregular church, and to assert such as a fact is a slander on the Baptists. The first Baptist of distinction to reach the shores of America, so far as history shows, was Hansard Knollys, who arrived in Massachusetts early in the spring of 1638. Being persecuted in Massachusetts, he fled to Piscataqua, afterward called Dover, where he formed a church and became its pastor and was no doubt preaching
to it when Roger Williams was baptized. (See Winthrop and also Cramp.)
     In the same year, 1 638, one year before Roger Williams was baptized, the preponderance of testimony goes to show that the Newport Baptist church, at Newport, Rhode Island, was formed by John Clarke and others. Clarke, who was an eminent minister from England, became pastor. Hence it is seen that at the time of the Roger Williams performance, there were two regularly organized Baptist churches in America with pastors of eminence. In fact, Hansard Knollys’ name stands at the head of the list of signers of the London Confession of Faith.
     Q. Are there any other sources for American Baptists?
     A. Yes. There are a number of churches, some coming as a body across the water.
     Q. Can you name some of them?
     A. Yes. The First church of Boston was formed of Baptists who had emigrated from
England. (See Armitage, P. 319.)
     Again, John Miles, in 1649, formed a church at Ilston, near Swanzea, Wales. In 1662 he, with most of his church, set sail for America, bringing their church records with them, which are still preserved. They settled at Wannamoiset, afterwards called Swansea, Massachusetts.
     Again. In June, 1701, in the counties of Pembroke and Carmarthcn, Wales, sixteen Baptists were constituted into a regular Baptist church, with Thomas Griffith as pastor. They at once set sail from Milford in church capacity and landed at Philadelphia in the September following, where the “church emigrant” went ashore on American soil. In 1703 they purchased 30,000 acres of land from William Penn, in New Castle County. Delaware, and gave this new purchase the title of “Welsh Tract,” and soon they were settled, giving their church a permanent home, from which it took the name of “Welsh Tract Church.”
     From the three last-mentioned churches have sprung almost all American Baptists.
     Q. What about the English Baptists? Did not W. H. Whitsitt, President of the Theological Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky, say the Baptists had their origin in 1641?
     A. I hardly think he said just that, but he said a great many foolish and unjustifiable things on account of which it became necessary for him to resign his position and his actions are deplored today by all true Baptists.
     Q. Does history cite any Baptists in England prior to the date mentioned by Whitsitt?
     A. It does. There are a number of Baptist churches in England today which are older by far than the date mentioned by Whitsitt. I mention some, with the approximate date of their organization:
     1. Hill Cliff, probably 1357, and without doubt more than one hundred years prior to 1641. 2. Eythorne was in existence October 28, 1552. Just how long before this time it was constituted is not stated. 3. Braintree is said to date back to the days of Edward the Sixth. This ruler died in 1553, which puts the date of this church prior to that time. Other churches antedating 1641 might be mentioned.
     Q. With all these facts, why did Whitsitt make such rash statements?
     A. This is hard to answer. J. T. Christian has thoroughly exposed him. He has shown him in some instances to have manifested ignorance of the facts, at other times of being misled by unreliable historians, and in still other instances of gross perversion, misquotations, and the very worst species of garbling. The challenge stands unaccepted, to show by authentic history, where the Baptists originated this side of Christ and the apostles. And I now renew the callenge to any one who may feel inclined to take it up, to show where the Baptists originated this side of Christ and the apostles. Give the time, the place and the men who put it on foot. There is no trouble to locate the origin of other denominations in history. The time, place, men and circumstances are all matters of open history. If the Baptists have a like origin, history will certainly reveal it. And I now challenge any one to the task of pointing it out, and until it is done, all fair-minded people will believe the claims in this little book are well founded.

 
 
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