A Condensed History of the Church
(Apparently Written Around 1896)
By J.V. Kirkland & C.B. Hassell
The New Testament Church
"Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," began the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the wilderness of Judea, in the days of Tiberius Caesar; and since the world has stood there has never been an announcement of an event connected with more importance than this one. It fell with the most profound effect upon the longing souls of those who had long united for the promise of him who said: "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed." As its echoes reverberated among the hills of Judea it brought multitudes of anxious, loving souls to the Jordan in search of "him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write."
This prophet of the wilderness, sent of God to announce the approach of Zion's eternal King and to make preparation for him by making ready his prepared people, baptized in the river Jordan all of the multitudes who confessed their sins and professed faith in that divine King whom he had so boldly announced.
On account of this new and strange practice of baptizing the people in water, this holy messenger of God was styled "the Baptist," and from then until now those who have perpetuated the practice have in some way had the same appellation applied to them.
Finally, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, made his appearance at the river Jordan "and was baptized of John in Jordan." When Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened, the angel of God descended upon him, and a voice spoke out of the chasmed heavens, acknowledging the divinity of the righteous Nazarene. From His baptism, Jesus began to preach his own everlasting gospel and to call upon the heedless masses of Jacob's prodigal descendants, saying: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." From among his disciples he chose the twelve apostles, which became the nucleus of the church of God. He gave them law after law and precept after precept, and taught them and disciplined them for three years; he gave them the commission to preach the gospel, but limited them to Judea, as they were under the law until he fulfilled it and broke down "the middle wall of partition" by his death. It seems that on the evening before his death he finished the constitution of the church. The crowning work of the church organism was the giving of the ordinance of the Supper. He then gave the apostles the beautiful example of humility in washing their feet. He then gave himself to die for his people, and rose again on the third day. After his resurrection, he appeared to the disciples and extended the commission to "all the world" and to "every creature," but told them to tarry at Jerusalem until they were "endued with power from on high." This promised power was given on the day of Pentecost, when they were enabled to speak under the influence of the Holy Ghost.
The forming of the church was finished on the evening before the death of Jesus. The church was then completely set up, but without power. From the time Christ instituted the Supper until the day of Pentecost the church was like a locomotive after it is finished in the shop and before the steam is raised within it. The engine, while it is in process of making, is moved by an external power; but when it is completed, the steam is raised within it, and it moves from an internal power. So the church, during the ministry of Christ, seemed to be influenced only by the direct teaching of Christ; but on the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost was poured out upon them, and they were moved from the internal power of the Spirit.
This is the church of God in its infancy. It is composed of baptized believers. Its inspired name is "the church of God;" it is the Baptist Church only because it is composed exclusively of Baptists. The church obtained the name "Baptist," as did the God-sent harbinger of our Lord, by Baptizing in water. Philip went "down into the water" to baptize the Eunuch; "John . . . was baptizing in AEnon near to Salem, because there was much water there." Paul said: "We are buried with him by baptism," etc. In all ages it has been understood that when a church is called a "Baptist Church" it practices baptism by immersion. When a man is referred to as a "Baptist," it is always understood that he is an immersionist, that he practices immersion.
After the church had received the power of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, it began at once to greatly multiply and to extend itself to the different cities and towns of Judea. At the close of the apostolic period the church had spread beyond the limits of Judea to Macedonia, Crete, Asia, Pisidia, Greece, Italy, Cilicia, Pontus, Cappadocia, Bithynia, and perhaps to Spain, Gaul, and Britain. The successors of the apostles, who are commonly called the "apostolic fathers," were Polycarp, Barnabas, Hermas, Clement, Ignatius, and Papaeus. Polycarp was pastor of the church at Smyrna, and is said by Bishop Usher to be addressed by John in Revelation as "the angel of the church in Smyrna." It appears that Polycarp served this church for more than eighty years. He died a martyr under Antonius in A.D. 166. Iraneus began his ministry at Smyrna under the instruction of Polycarp, and later became pastor of the church at Lyons. He was a man of a liberal education, and some of his writings are said to be still extant. Clement was pastor at Rome. Ignatius was pastor at Antioch. In the writing ascribed to Barnabas on the subject of baptism there is frequent mention of descending into the water and ascending out of the water. Justin Martyr suffered martyrdom at Rome in A.D. 166. In his apology to the Emperor of Rome he described their practice of baptism. After saying that they are taken to a place where there is water, he says: "For they are then washed in the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe, and of the Savior Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit - that is, as many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach is true, and undertake to conform their lives to our doctrine," etc. (See Cramp, page 22).
"Tertullian was born of pagan parents at Carthage. He was brought up to the law. His learning was considerable, and his style of writing acquired him the title 'the first of the Latin fathers.' He wrote an able and bold defense of the Christian religion. He was evidently a man of extraordinary genius; his piety was warm and vigorous, with some features of austerity . . . Tertullian's writings proved that he, as a Baptist, stood between contending parties," etc. (Orchard, pages 32, 33).
Tertullian died in the year A.D. 220. Some twenty years before his death he wrote a book, the title of which was "De Baptismo." In this book, in describing the practice of baptism, he says that they are plunged under water after making a profession in the presence of the congregation. In earnestly arguing for baptism, he says that "men's minds were hardened against baptism because the person (to be baptized) was brought down into the water without pomp, without any new ornament or sumptuous preparation, and dipped at the pronouncing of a few words," (Orchard, page 34).
Tertullian was asked by Quintilla, a rich lady, who lived at Pepuza, in Phrygia, whether infants might be baptized on condition that they asked to be and produced sponsors. Tertullian replied: "That baptism ought not to be administered rashly, the administrators of it know. Give to him that asketh? Everyone hath a right as if it were a matter of alms? Yea, rather say: 'Give not that which is holy to dogs,' 'cast not your pearls before swine,' 'lay hands suddenly on no man,' 'be not partakers of other men's sins,'" (Orchard, pages 69, 70).
"In the first three centuries no natural infant appears in any writings, either authentic or spurious," (Orchard, page 36).
"Not one natural infant of any description appears to have been baptized in the church at Rome during the first three centuries, and immersion was the only method of administering the ordinances," (Orchard, page 36. See Robinson's "Researches," pages 131, 362; Jones, page 277).
Orchard (page 37) observes that "there is no record of the baptism of a child till the year 370, when Galates, the dying son of Emperor Valens, was baptized by order of a monarch, who swore he would not be contradicted."
"The sacrament of baptism," says Mosheim (page 46) "was administered in this century (the first) without the public assemblies, in places appointed and prepared for that purpose, and was performed by an immersion of the whole body in the baptismal font."
In speaking of baptism - that is, the practice of baptism - in the second century, Mosheim says: "The sacrament of baptism was administered publicly twice every year - at the festivals, Easter and Pentecost, or Whitsuntide - either by the bishop, or, in consequence of his authorization and appointment, by the presbyters (elders). The persons that were to be baptized, after they had repeated the creed, confessed and renounced their sins, and particularly the devil and his pompous allurements, were immersed under water and received into Christ's kingdom by solemn invocation of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, according to the express command of our blessed Lord," (Volume I, page 69).
It is obvious to all who have any degree of acquaintance with the writings of the historian, Mosheim, that he had no relish for the principles of the Baptists, as it is well known that he never let an opportunity escape to say something to their reproach; yet he records these very important facts - not in order to benefit the Baptist cause, but because they are undisputable facts.
Speaking of the practice of the communion in the third century, Mosheim says: "Those who were in a penitent state and those also who had not received the sacrament of baptism were not admitted to the Holy Supper," etc. (Volume I, page 91).
On the government of the churches in the first century, Mosheim observes, "The people were undoubtedly the first in authority; for the apostles showed by their own example that nothing of moment was to be carried on or determined without the consent of the assembly, and such a method of proceeding was both prudent and necessary in those critical times. It was, therefore, the assembly of the people which chose rulers and teachers or received them by a free and authoritative consent when recommended by others. The same people rejected or confirmed by their suffrages the laws that were proposed by their rulers to the assembly; excommunicated profligate and unworthy members of the church; restored the penitent to their forfeited privileges; passed judgment upon the different subjects of controversy and dissension that arose in their community; examined and decided the disputes which happened between the elders and deacons; and, in a word, exercised all that authority which belongs to such as are invested with sovereign power," (Volume I, page 37).
In giving an account of the controversy started by Pelagius and Coelestius who taught that the law qualified men for the kingdom of heaven, Mosheim says: "These monks looked upon the doctrines which were commonly received concerning the original corruption of human nature and the necessity of divine grace to enlighten the understanding and purify the heart as prejudicial to the progress of holiness and virtue and tending to lull mankind into a presumptuous and fatal security," (Volume I, page 155).
Mosheim shows that the doctrine of original sin and the necessity of divine grace to purify the heart was the prevailing doctrine until the days of Pelagius. He further shows that the doctrine of Pelagianism was finally condemned.
Thus the learned Dr. Mosheim, the celebrated historian of the Lutheran Church, shows beyond contradiction that the churches in the first two centuries were in all essential features Baptist Churches, pure and simple.
"During the first three centuries," observes Orchard, "Christian congregations all over the East subsisted in separate, independent bodies, unsupported by government, and consequently without any secular power over one another. ALL THIS TIME THEY WERE BAPTIST CHURCHES," etc. (Page 36).
Before the dawn of the third century, many corruptions and superstitions began to creep into many of the churches. The love of popularity seemed to get a deep hold in the hearts of many elders; and, in order to gain the world, they endeavored to modify the simplicity of the faith, and some of them strove for mastery and power. It is very evident that "the man of sin" was preparing to reveal himself and to take his seat in the temple; but it is a fact, beyond doubt, that a host of churches always maintained the purity and simplicity of the apostolic faith and kept themselves separate from these corruptions.
"That such a corruption," observes Orchard, "must have been pursued by numbers all through the early part of the century is most evident, since by the middle of this age (A.D. 250) many of the old churches were reduced to a pitiable state; while Italy was full of dissenters who never were in communion with Rome, which is beyond all contradiction," (Page 32).
It is clearly evident that many of the Grecian churches continued in the original simplicity.
"Here," says Orchard, "we trace the rising class, who adhered to the truth through ages of ignorance, superstition, and vice," (Page 107).
Mosheim, speaking of the rise of corruption in some of the city churches and the change of the government in order to the usurpation of power, says: "The face of things began now (the third century) to change in the Christian Church. The ancient method of ecclesiastical government in general continued to subsist; while at the same time, by imperceptible steps, it varied from the primitive rule and degenerated toward the form of a religious monarchy; for the bishops aspired to higher degrees of power and authority than they had formerly possessed, and not only violated the rights of the people, but also made gradual encroachments upon the privileges of the presbyters; and that they might cover these usurpations with an air of justice and an appearance of reason, they published new doctrines concerning the nature of the church and of the episcopal dignity - which, however, were in general so obscure that they themselves seemed to have understood them as little as those to whom they were delivered. One of the principal authors of the change in the government of the church was Cyprian, who pleaded for the power of the bishops with more zeal and vehemence than had ever been hitherto employed," etc. (Volume I, page 84).
Orchard observes: "The corruption of the church with which Tertullian stood connected at Carthage was more than a match for his reforming zeal. He, consequently, quitted it and united himself to the Montanists," etc. (Page 73).
Again, Orchard says: "Tertullian withdrew from one society on account of its corruption and united with another on the ground of purity of communion," (Page 32).
From the very rise of these corruptions there were numbers of pious pastors and elders who at once opposed them and raised their warning voices against them; and numerous churches in Italy, Greece, Asia, and Northern Africa heeded their warning and held themselves aloof from all these innovations of men in the affairs of religion, and thus preserved the purity of their communion.
The churches of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, and Carthage now (A.D. 240) began to be great centers of religious power, and had, to a surprising extent, changed the form of government. Instead of the old government of democracy, they had become to be monarchies; and the purity and simplicity of the primitive churches were given up for worldly pride and superstition. Even in those churches where so much corruption had crept in, there were many pious men, who groaned under these innovations and impositions which were so sadly corrupting their beloved Zion.
From the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus, in A.D. 210, till the reign of Decius, in A.D. 249, Christians were allowed a great deal of religious liberty. There were nine emperors that ruled over the Roman Empire during this time. Some of them were more, some were less, tolerant. This forty-year toleration greatly increased the number of professors, especially in these worldly churches; and multitudes flocked into the church from base motives.
"When Decius came to the throne, in A.D. 249, he required, by edict, all persons in the empire to conform to pagan worship."
This edict rent asunder the churches. Hundreds apostatized, and many were martyred. When this trial abated after two years, many apostates applied to the church for restoration, and the lovers of popularity were ready at once to accept them.
There was an elder in the church at Rome at this time named "Novatian," a man of marked piety and learning. Mr. Robinson, in his "Ecclesiastical Researches," says of him: "He was . . . a man of extensive learning." His address was eloquent and insinuating, and his morals were irreproachable. Novation strongly opposed the admission of such as had accepted the pagan worship and blasphemed the name of Jesus to escape suffering during the times of persecution.
Bishop Fabian, who was the pastor of the church at Rome, was martyred during the persecution under Decius; and Cornelius, a man who was eager to take in all who had denied the faith during the times of persecution, was elected, which resulted in a permanent division in the church of Rome. This division resulted in two denominations. One continued upon the original principles and form of government, while the other developed into the Roman Catholic Church.
Mr. Robinson gives the following account of the division in the church at Rome: "Christians, within the space of a very few years, were caressed by one emperor and persecuted by another. In seasons of prosperity many persons rushed into the church for base purposes; in times of adversities they denied the faith and reverted again to idolatry. When the squall was over, away they came again to the church, with all their vices, to deprave others by their examples. The bishops, fond of proselytes, encouraged all this, and transferred the attention of Christians from the old confederacy for virtue to vain show at Easter and other Jewish ceremonies - adulterated too, with paganism. On the death of Bishop Fabian, Cornelius, a brother elder and a violent partisan for taking in the multitude, was put in nomination. Novation opposed him; but as Cornelius carried his election and Novatian saw no prospect of reformation, but, on the contrary, a tide of immorality pouring into the church, he withdrew, and a great many withdrew with him. Cornelius, irritated by Cyprian, who was just in the same condition through the remonstrance of virtuous men at Carthage, and who was exasperated beyond measure with one of his own elders, named 'Novatus,' who had quitted Carthage and gone to Rome to espouse the cause of Novatian, called a council and got a sentence of excommunication passed against Novatian. In the end Novatian formed (constituted) a church, and was elected bishop. Great numbers followed his example; all over the empire Puritan churches were constituted and flourished through the succeeding two hundred years. Afterwards, when penal laws obliged them to lurk in corners and worship God in private, they were distinguished by a variety of names, and a succession of them continued till the Reformation."
Mr. Robinson again remarks: "They say Novatian was the first antipope; yet there was at that time no pope in the modern sense of the word 'pope.' They call Novatian the 'author of the heresy of Puritanism;' yet they know that Tertullian had quitted the church nearly fifty years before for the same reason; and Privatus, who was an old man in the time of Novatian, had, with several more, repeatedly remonstrated against the alterations taking place; and as they could get no redress, they had dissented and formed separate congregations. They tax Novatian with being the parent of an innumerable multitude of congregations of Puritans all over the empire, yet he had no other influence over any than what his good example gave him. People everywhere saw the same cause of complaint, and groaned for relief; and when one man made a stand for virtue, the crises had arrived. People saw the propriety of the cure and applied the same means to their own relief." (See Robinson's "Ecclesiastical Researches," page 126; Jones, page 181).
It is plain to be seen from what Mr. Robinson and others have recorded that Novatian took the stand he did to preserve the purity of the church, and it is very evident that he had the side of the pure and virtuous. It may be truly said that an unbearable corruption forced this division; and as to Novatian's being the first antipope, it is clearly evident from all the records of those times that at that time there had never been a pope of the modern type, nor was there one for about one hundred and fifty years afterwards.
"Novatian," observes Orchard, "with every considerate person, was disgusted with the hasty admission of such apostates to communion and with the conduct of pastors who were concerned about numbers rather than purity of communion," (Page 53).
Novatian's example was indorsed by all those churches in Greece, Italy and Africa that had abandoned all church relation with the church at Rome from the introduction of its corruptions.
"The churches during this early period," says Orchard, "were strictly Baptist in their practice and constitution. These early interests stood perfectly free of Rome, and at after periods refused its communion," (Page 51).
All those churches that had separated themselves from the church at Rome and those who withdrew from the Cornelius party were at this time and for hundreds of years afterwards called "Novatianists."
This division occurred in A.D. 251, and marks a distinct period in the history of the church of God. Some of the prominent ministers from the apostles' day to this period were Polycarp, Barnabas, Hermas, Clement, Ignatius, Papaeus, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Prevatus, Tertullian, and Fabian.
The churches now which stood aloof from the corruptions of the popular element and indorsed the move of Novatian were nicknamed "Novatianists." They were also called the "Cathari" - the pure.
"They considered," says Mosheim, "the Christian church as a society where virtue and innocence reigned universally and none of whose members, from their entrance into it, had defiled themselves with any enormous crimes; and, in consequence, they looked upon every society which readmitted heinous offenders to its communion as unworthy of the title of a true Christian church. For that reason, also, they assumed the title 'Cathari' - i.e., the pure; and, what showed a still more extravagant degree of vanity and arrogance, they obliged such as came over to them from the general body of Christians to submit to be baptized a second time as a necessary preparation for entering into their society," (Volume I, page 96).
This statement comes from one of the greatest opponent of the Baptists; but it is all the better for that, as he speaks in opposition to them, yet shows their purity of order and identifies them with their humble, faithful brethren in all ages.
Mosheim says that there was no difference between the two parties on doctrine (theory) at this time.
"They were," says Robinson, "Trinitarian Baptists."
"They were numerous," says Lardner, "in Phrygia, and a number of eminent men were raised up in the work of the ministry. It is impossible to calculate the benefits of their services to mankind. Their influence must have considerably checked the spirit of innovation and secularity in the old churches."
Dr. Lardner further remarks: "The vast extent of this sect is manifest from the names of the authors who have mentioned or written against them and from several parts of the Roman Empire in which they were found. It is evident, too, that these churches had among them some individuals of note and eminence."
"To remove all human appendages," says Orchard, "the Novatianists said to candidates: 'If you be a virtuous believer and will accede to our confederacy against sin, you may be admitted among us by baptism, or, if any Catholic has baptized you before, by rebaptism.' They were at later periods called 'Anabaptists.' The churches thus formed upon a plane of strict communion and rigid discipline obtained the reproach of Puritans. They were the oldest body of Christian churches of which we have any account; and a succession of them, we shall prove, has continued to the present day," (Page 55).
Orchard further observes: "In the fourth Lateran Council, canons were made to banish them as heretics; and these canons were supported by an edict, in A.D. 413, issued by the emporers, Theodosius and Honorius, declaring that all persons rebaptized and the rebaptizers should be both punished with death. Accordingly, Albanus, a zealous minister, with others, was punished with death for rebaptizing," (Page 60).
It is conclusive from all of the writings of this period, both by friends and foes, that the Novatianists baptized anew all that came over to them from the Catholic party; and this practice is characteristic of this people in all the succeeding ages to the present time.
It seems evident that the churches of the first three centuries were uniform in the practice of baptism by immersion upon a profession of faith, and that of adults only.
"Not one natural infant of any description," says Orchard, "appears to have been baptized in the Church of Rome during the first three centuries, and immersion was the only method of administering the ordinance," (Page 36).
The Novatianists, like the New Testament churches, were simple republics; in form of government, congregational.
"During the first three centuries," says Orchard, "Christian congregations all over the East subsisted in separate, independent bodies, unsupported by government, and consequently without any secular power over one another. All this time they were Baptist Churches," etc. (Page 36).
Constantine came to the throne of the empire in A.D. 306, and during his conflict with Maximus in A.D. 312 he professed the Christian religion. He first tried to unite the Novatianists with the Cornelius party, but the Novatianists refused this union on account of the corruption of the Cornelius party. Constantine finally joined the Christian church (the Cornelius party) on May 22, A.D. 337. He now established the Christian religion by law. They called their party the "Catholic Church." The term "catholic" denotes anything universal, or entire. The "church catholic" means all the members of Christ's body; hence the extravagance of the claim. This party, being now established by law, began to incorporate almost all the heathen festivals that were celebrated while the empire was under pagan religion. The Christians were so proud to think that they had an emperor to protect them that they submitted almost all control into his hands. The whole body of the church now took the side of power and worldly show. It began to hold councils, instead of consulting the Scriptures, to decide all the affairs of doctrine and practice. The chairman of these councils finally began to be called "universal bishop," and was regarded as having general ecclesiastical authority. The first to assume this title was John, the Faster, in A.D. 588. (Jones, page 214.) Boniface III seemed to be the first to establish the succession of popes. (Jones, page 217).
The term "pagan Rome" applies to the empire of Rome while under the pagan religion: "papal Rome" applies to the empire after the Christian religion was established by law by Constantine in A.D. 313. After this (A.D. 337), Constantine changed his treatment toward them, and they were involved in distress and suffering. Their books were sought for; they were forbidden to assemble together; and many of them lost their places of worship.
Orchard observes: "Constantine's oppressive measures prompted many to leave the scene of sufferings and retire to more sequestered spots."
Again, Orchard says: "At the conclusion of this fourth century the Novatianists had three, if not four, churches in Constantinople; they also had churches at Nice, Nicomedia, and Cotiveus, in Phrygia - all of them large and extensive bodies; besides which, they were very numerous in the Western Empire."
There were several churches of this people in the city of Alexandria in the beginning of the fifth century.
This was about the time of the fourth Lateran Council, already referred to, which canons were made to punish with death all rebaptizers, as well as those rebaptized. These canons were supported by the edict of Emperor Theodosius in A.D. 413.
"These continued modes of oppression," says Orchard, "led the faithful to abandon the cities and seek retreats in the country, which they did, particularly in the valleys of Piedmont, the inhabitants of which began to be called 'Waldenses,'" (Page 61).
It is evident from an abundance of undoubted evidence that the Novatianists resorted to the valleys of Piedmont about the beginning of the fifth century and were called "Waldenses." Some of the prominent ministers and writers of the church, while they were called "Novatianists," were Novatian, Novatus, Sampronianus, Cyril, Albanus, Agelius, Acesius, Sisinnius, Marcian, Mark, and Leo. These exercised their ministry from A.D. 240 to A.D. 439.
"A council," says Orchard, "was convened at Arles and at Lyons in A.D. 455, in which the views of the Novatianists on predestination were controverted and by which name they were stigmatized," (Page 62).
The characteristic marks of these churches were (1) an independent form of church government, each church complete within itself; (2) they baptized anew all that came to them from any church that was not in fellowship with them; (3) they baptized by immersion upon a profession of faith in Christ; (4) they baptized no infants; (5) they were predestinarians; (6) they taught freedom of conscience and opposed the union of church and state; (7) they acknowledged no rule of faith and practice but the Scriptures.
The Novatianists, after resorting to the valleys of Piedmont, began to be called "Waldenses."
There are various opinions as to the origin of the name "Waldenses." The most popular opinion is that they derived their name from the valleys. Dr. McLean, the learned translator of Mosheim's "History," in a note on Mosheim's account of the Waldenses, who supposes that they derived their name from Peter Waldo, says: "We may venture to affirm the contrary, with the learned Beza and other writers of note; for it seems evident from the best records that Valdus derived his name from the true Valdenses of Piedmont, whose doctrine he adopted and who were known by the names 'Vaudois' and 'Valdenses' before he or his immediate followers existed. If the Valdenses had derived their name from any eminent teacher, it would probably have been from Valdo, who was remarkable for the purity of his doctrine in the ninth century and who was the contemporary and chief counselor of Berengarius; but the truth is that they derived their name from their valleys in Piedmont, which, in their language, are called 'Vaux' hence 'Vaudois,' their true name. Hence Peter - or as others call him, 'John' - of Lyons was called, in Latin, 'Valdus,' because he had adopted their doctrine; hence the terms 'Valdenses' and 'Waldenses' used by those who write in English or Latin in the place of 'Vaudois.' The bloody inquisitor, Reinerius Saccho, who exerted such a furious zeal for the destruction of the Waldenses, lived but about eighty years after Valdus, of Lyons, and must, therefore, be supposed to have known whether he was the real founder of the Valdenses, or Leonists; yet it is remarkable that he speaks of the Leonists (mentioned by Mosheim in this section as synonymous with the 'Waldenses') as a sect that had flourished above five hundred years, and even mentions authors of note who make their antiquity remount the apostolic age," (Mosheim, pages 331, 332).
In J. Newton Brown's "Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge" we are given the following account of the origin of the name "Waldenses:" "The valleys are called 'Vaux,' whence 'Vaudois:' and Peter is said to have borne the name "Waldo" because he was a follower of that sect. That the name was used before his time appears from this; that it is found in a confession brought to light by Pictetus. It happened, indeed, that when the Waldenses were persecuted and banished by the Archbishop of Lyons and Waldo and his companions fled to other regions - from that time they were scattered through Gaul, Italy, Germany, England, and Spain," (Page 1150).
Dr. McLean's account of the Waldenses coincides with Claudius Seyssel, the popish archbishop, who "traces the rise of the Waldensian heresy to a Novatianist pastor named 'Leo,' who left Rome at this period (A.D. 331) for the valleys," (Orchard, pages 58, 256).
As Claudius Seyssel has traced the Waldenses back to Leo, a Novatianist minister, who left Rome for the valleys of Piedmont about A.D. 331, and as they were afterwards called "Leonists" for many centuries, it is reasonable to suppose that they derived the name "Leonists" from Leo.
Mr. Robinson proves in a most satisfactory way that the class of people called "Waldenses" derived this name from inhabiting valleys. (see "Ecclesiastical Researches," page 302).
It appears that "in Spain these people were termed 'Navarri;' in France, 'Vaudois;' in Lombardy ecclesiastical writers named them 'Valdenses' simply from their living in valleys." (See "Ecclesiastical Researches").
In the "Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge," by Brown, we have the following statement as to the origin of the Waldenses: "It seems to be a serious mistake into which some popular writers have fallen, who represent the Waldenses as originating in France about the year A.D. 1170 and deriving their name from the celebrated Peter Waldo. The evidence is now ample that, so far from being a new sect at that period, they had existed under various names as a distinct class of dissenters from the established churches of Greece and Rome in the earliest age. It is an egregious error to suppose that when Christianity was taken into alliance with the State by Emperor Constantine, in the beginning of the fourth century, all the orthodox churches were so ignorant of the genius of their religion as to consent to the corruption of a worldly establishment," (Page 1147).
In the same article it is further stated: "Those Puritans, exposed to severe and sanguinary persecutions for dissent, from age to age were compelled to shelter themselves from the desolating storm in retirement; and when at intervals they reappear on the pages of contemporary history and their principles are propagated with new boldness and success, they are styled a 'new sect' and receive a new name, though in reality they are the same people."
Reinerius also observes: "They declare themselves to be the apostles' successors, to have apostolic authority and the keys of binding and loosing. They say that a man is then first baptized when he is received into their community."
These holy people, who were the ancient Novationists, only called by another name, held the same views and followed the same practice of baptizing anew all that come over to them from any other sect not in fellowship with them. D. Balthazar states that some of these churches existed here in the second century and practiced believer's baptism by immersion. (see Orchard, page 255).
Robinson says of the early Puritans that "Greece was the parent; Spain and Navarre, the nurses; France, the stepmother; and Savoy, the jailer, of a class of Christians known afterwards by the name 'Waldenses.'"
"But amid all the diversity of speculative opinions," observes Orchard, "they all agreed in administering baptism by immersion," (Page 107).
Orchard again observes: "In the seventh century we have 'A Liturgy' of Bobbio, near Genoa. But this directory contains no office for the baptism of children or the least hint of pouring or sprinkling; on the contrary, there is a directory for making a Christian of a page before baptism and for washing the feet after it," etc. (Page 297).
The Waldenses, notwithstanding the oppressive measures against them, were very industrious in spreading the gospel. They traveled over different States and planted their churches.
"Of all the sects," observes Reinerius, "which have been or now exist, none is more injurious to the Church of Rome, for three reasons: (1) because it is more ancient. Some aver their existence from the time of Sylvester; others, from the very time of the apostles. (2) Because it is so universal; there is scarcely any country into which this sect has not crept. (3) Because all other heretics excite horror by the greatness of their blasphemies against God; but these have a great appearance of piety, as they live justly before men," etc. (Brown's "Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge," page 1148).
It has been said that they could travel all over the country and stay every night with some of their brethren. In times of persecution they would often carry baskets of goods with them as peddlers; and after showing their goods, they would say: "We have something of more value than these goods that we will tell you if you will promise not to tell the clergy." After obtaining a promise of protection, they would tell the beautiful story of their doctrine. Often the people would profess their faith, and, under the cover of night, would be carried to a suitable place and baptized.
Peter Waldo, a rich merchant of Lyons, who, it is said derived his name from the Waldenses, after he professed faith in Christ and joined these people (A.D. 1170), sold his merchandise and appropriated the proceeds to the furtherance of the gospel. He translated the Bible into the vernacular language of Gaul. He was hunted down, like a beast of prey, by the clergy of the established religion, but traveled over Belgium, Germany, Vandals, and Bohemia. The Baptists owe much to the labors of this great man.
"In the preface to the first French Bible the translators say that they (the Waldenses) have always had the full enjoyment of the heavenly truth contained in the holy scriptures, ever since they were enriched with the same by the apostles, having in fair manuscripts preserved the entire Bible in their native tongue from generation to generation. The old, or primitive, Waldenses were distinguished by the doctrine and practice of Christian liberty . . . They believed in the doctrine of the Trinity and baptized believers. They refused baptism to infants when it came into use in other churches, and were, consequently, reproached with the term 'rebaptizers,' or 'Anabaptists,'" (Orchard, pages 257, 258).
Paul Perrin asserts that the Waldenses were time out of mind in Italy and Dalmatia, and were the offspring of the Novatianists, who were persecuted and driven from Rome in A.D. 400. (See Orchard, Page 259).
"Reinerium Saccho, an inquisitor and one of their most implacable enemies, who lived only eighty years after Waldo, admits that the Waldenses flourished five hundred years before Waldo," (Jones, page 301).
"The Waldenses taught that the Roman Church departed from its former sanctity and purity in the time of Constantine the Great. They, therefore, refused to submit to the usurped power of its pontiff," (Jones, page 346).
"AEneas Sylvius (afterward Pope Pius II.) declares the doctrine taught by Calvin to be the same as that of the Waldenses."
"Lindanus, a Catholic bishop of the see of Ghent, who wrote in defense of the tenets of the Church of Rome about A.D. 1560, termed Calvin 'the inheritor of the doctrine of the Waldenses,'" (Jones, page 347).
The doctrine of Calvin is embraced in the five points: (1) Predestination; (2) particular redemption; (3) total depravity; (4) effectual calling, or regeneration; and (5) the certain perseverance of the saints. (See "Religious Ceremonies," page 437).
It must be remembered that all the people who were called by the common name "Waldenses" were not Baptists. As shown by Orchard, Cramp, and others, there were three distinct classes of people who were called by the name "Waldenses:" (1) The decendants of the Novatians, who were Baptists; (2) those who rejected the ordinances of baptism; (3) those who held to pedobaptism. (See Cramp, page 146) Upon this subject Mr. Cramp observes: "If the question relates to the Waldenses in the strict and modern sense of the term - that is, to the inhabitants of the valleys of Piedmont - there is reason to believe that originally the majority of them were Baptists," etc.
In Germany - and later, in England - many of the Waldenses were called "Lollards," as some suppose, after the celebrated Walter Lollard, of Germany, who exercised his ministry in the early part of the fourteenth century. Others think the name "Lollard" was derived from "lolium" (a tare), as if the Lollards were tares in the kingdom of Christ. Another theory is that the name is from the German "loben" ("to praise") and "herr" ("lord"), because the Lollards went from place to place singing psalms and hymns. Still others think the name is from "lullen," "lollen," or "lallen," with the termination hard, with which "many of the high Dutch words end. 'Lollen' signifies to 'sing with a low voice,'" etc. Mosheim thinks they got this name from their attending the funerals of the poor and offcast with their solemn funeral dirge.
"Fuller, however, informs us that in the reign of Edward III., about A.D. 1315, Walter Lollard, a German preacher - or, as Perrin, in his 'History of the Waldenses,' calls him, one of the 'barbs' (pastors) - of great renown among them, came into England, and was so eminent in England that, as in France, they were called 'Berengarians,' from Berengarius, and 'Petrobrusians,' from Peter Bruis; and in Italy and Flanders, 'Arnoldists,' from the famous Arnold, of Brescia. So did the Waldensian Christians for many generations afterwards bear the name of this worthy man, being called 'Lollards.'"
"Thomas Walden, who had access to the writings of Wickliffe, calls him 'one of the seven heads that came out of the bottomless pit for denying infant baptism, that heresy of the Lollards, of whom he was so great a ringleader.'" (Brown's "Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge," page 752).
Walden again says "that doctrine of Peter Waldo was conveyed from France into England, and that, among others, Wickliffe received it," (Jones, page 347).
Whatever may have been the origin of the name, it is quite evident that Walter, since the days of his ministry, has been known by the name "Walter Lollard," and there is but little doubt but that the Lollards in Germany and England were so called from him.
Bishop Newton said of the Lollards: "There was a man more worthy to have given name to the sect - the deservedly famous John Wickliffe, the honor of his own time and the admiration of succeeding times."
Brown states that the first English Lollards came from Germany.
Brown, in his "Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge," says: "The writings of Wickliffe were numerous and learned; his doctrines, generally those of the Reformed Church, though in regard to baptism he is said to have agreed with the Baptists," (Page 1167).
Some of the prominent ministers and authors of this faith from the fourth century to the fifteenth century were such as Leo, Josephists, George Morell, Peter Waldo, Peter de Bruis, Henry Claude, Huss, Wickcliffe, Monsieur De Vignaux, Jerome, Arnold, Walter Lollard, and John Paul Perrin.
The Waldenses, in these characteristics, were identical with the Novationists: (1) Independent form of church government; (2) baptism by immersion upon a profession of faith; (3) they baptized anew all that came to them from any church not in fellowship with them; (4) they refused baptism to infants; (5) they were predestinarians; (6) they taught freedom of conscience; (7) they acknowledged no rule of faith and practice but the Scriptures.
Long before the Reformation the Waldenses had planted their churches and disseminated their doctrine in almost all the provinces of Europe, particularly in France, Germany, Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland, Holland, and England. "Their principles, however, continued unsubdued; and at the Reformation their descendants, in number of eight hundred thousand, were reckoned among the Protestants, with whom they were in doctrine so congenial. Some united with the Lutherans; others, with the Calvinists; and others still, with the Anabaptists of the better sort, afterwards called 'Mennonists,'" (See Brown's "Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge," page 1150).
The term "anabaptist" has been applied to these people at times ever since the division between the Baptists and the Catholics, in A.D. 251. The word compounded of "ana" ("new") and "baptists" ("a baptist"). They obtained the name by the practice of baptizing anew all that came over to them from other sects with whom they were not in fellowship. It must be remembered, however, that many were called "anabaptists" by the Catholics and Lutherans who had no connection with the Baptists at all and whose principles were of no kin to those of the Baptists. In order to render the Baptists, who had been so long the subject of derision, as obnoxious as possible, they called all by the name "anabaptists" who had rendered themselves odious by foul measures or by preaching unwholesome doctrine, when very frequently they had no connection with the true Anabaptists at all, as is true in the case of Munzer, the leader in the unhappy affair of the German peasants. Munzer himself was a pedobaptist.
Nothing could be more unjust and slanderous than to charge the Munzer insurrection to the Anabaptists of Germany. Jarrel says: "It is true, indeed, that many Anabaptists suffered death - not on account of their being considered rebellious subjects, but merely because they were judged to be incurable heretics; for in this century the error of limiting the administration of baptism to adult persons only and the practice of rebaptizing such as had received that sacrament in a state of infancy were looked upon as most flagitious and intolerable heresies."
"Those who had no other marks of peculiarity then their administering baptism to adult persons only and their excluding the unrighteous from the external communion of the church ought undoubtedly to have met with milder treatment than what was given to those seditious incendiaries who were for unhinging all government and destroying all civil authority," (page 220).
"Gressler says: 'No traces of Anabaptist fanaticism were seen' in the peasants' war."
Simons Menno united with the Baptists in 1535; and for many years afterwards a great portion of the Baptists were called "Mennonists," after him.
Menno was at first a Roman priest. "He was induced to examine the New Testament . . . in consequence of doubts concerning transubstantiation. He now became, through grace, gradually enlightened . . . At length an account of the martyrdom of Sieke Snyder, at Leeuwarden, for anabaptism, roused him to a similar inquiry concerning the other sacrament, which resulted in his embracing the views of the persecuted Baptists, though he for several years struggled to suppress his secret convictions on account of the odium and suffering which the avowal must incur."
On "baptism" Menno said: "After we have searched ever so diligently, we shall find no other baptism but dipping in water is acceptable to God and approved in his word."
Mosheim shows that "they admit none to the sacrament of baptism but persons who are come to the full use of their reason, because," says he, "infants are incapable of binding themselves by a solemn vow to holy life; and it is altogether uncertain whether, in mature years, they will be saints or sinners," (Page 136).
Like the Novationists and the Waldenses, the Mennonists were complained at for their strict discipline and for holding that their denomination only comprised the kingdom of Christ, or church of God upon earth.
Mosheim remarks: "The rules of moral discipline formerly observed by the Mennonists were rigorous and austere in the highest degree, and thus every way conformable to the fundamental principle which has been already mentioned as the source of all their peculiar tenets," (Page 136).
Mosheim further observes: "The rigid Anabaptists enjoin it as an obligation upon their disciples and the members of their community to wash the feet of their guests as a token of brotherly love and affection and in obedience to the example of Christ, which they suppose in this case to have the force of a positive command; and hence they are sometimes called 'Podoniptae,'" (Page 137).
Mosheim, notwithstanding his great aversion to the Mennonists and his pains to make the Baptists responsible for every enormity of the frequent insurrections of these times, finally pays them this very rare compliment: "It may be observed, in the first place, that the Mennonists are not entirely in error when they boast of their descent from the Waldenses, Petrobrusians, and other ancient sects, who are usually considered as witnesses of the truth in the times of general darkness and superstition. Before the rise of Luther and Calvin there lay concealed in almost all the countries of Europe, particularly in Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland, and Germany, many persons who adhered tenaciously to the following doctrine, which the Waldenses, Wickliffites, and Hussites, had maintained - some, in a more disguised manner; others, in a more open and public manner - vis.: 'That the kingdom of Christ, or the visible church which he established upon earth, is an assembly of the true and real saints, and ought, therefore, to be inaccessible to the wicked and unrighteous, and also exempt from all those institutions which human prudence suggests to oppose the progress of iniquity or to correct and reform transgressors.' This maxim is the true source of all the peculiarities that are to be found in the religious doctrine and discipline of the Mennonists; and it is most certain that the greatest part of these peculiarities were approved by many of those who, before the dawn of the Reformation, entertained the notion already mentioned relating to the visible church of Christ," (Volume II, Page 128).
This concedes just what the Baptists claim for themselves, although it comes from one of their greatest opponents; and it corroborates the views of the Waldenses as herein before referred to.
"The true origin," says Mosheim," of this sect which acquired the denomination 'Anabaptists' by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion and derived the name 'Mennonists' from the 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," (Volume II, page 127).
It must be remembered that this important statement comes from a very high authority of the Lutheran Church and a most ardent opponent of the Baptists. No doubt the greatest difficulty with the learned Mosheim is that his information convinced him that their origin is with the apostles and he felt a delicacy in saying so much.
In A.D. 1819 the king of Holland appointed Dr. A. Ypoij, a professor of theology in the University of Groningen, and Rev. I. J. Dermont, secretary of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church and chaplain to His Majesty, to prepare a history of the Dutch Reformed Church, of which they were both members. In this official history, which they published at Breda in A.D. 1819, they devote one chapter to the Baptists, in which they make the following statement: "We have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called 'Anabaptists' and in the later times 'Mennonists,' were the original Waldenses, and who have 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, which has preserved pure the doctrines of the gospel through all ages. The perfectly correct external and internal economy of the Baptist denomination tends to confirm the truth, disputed by the Romish Church, that the Reformation brought about in the sixteenth century was in the highest degree necessary, and, at the same time, goes to refute the erroneous notion of the Catholics that their communion is the most ancient," (Volume I, page 148).
Wickliffe defines a church to consist only of persons predestinated, (See Jarrel, page 320).
It is clearly evident that the characteristics of the Baptists, while known under the name "Mennonists," were the same as those of the Novatianists and Waldenses: (1) Independent form of church government; (2) baptism by immersion upon a profession of faith; (3) they baptized anew all that came to them from any other sect; (4) they refused baptism to infants; (5) they were predestinarians; (6) they taught freedom of conscience; (7) they opposed the union of church and State; (8) they acknowledged no rule of faith and practice but the Scriptures.
It is not quite certain just when the churches of this primitive order were first planted in England. It is strongly believed by some that churches were gathered in Britain in the days of the apostles. There is some good ground for suspicion that Paul himself visited Britain on his last evangelistic tour, and many well-informed historians firmly believe that he did. It is very evident that Paul contemplated a trip to Spain when he wrote his Epistle, as he said to them: "Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thither ward by you," etc., (Rom. 15:24). He again said in this letter: "When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain," (Verse 28).
It is thought by some students of ancient history that Paul made this contemplated tour into Spain between the times of his first and second imprisonment at Rome, and that he extended the tour into Gaul (now France) and across the English Channel into Britain.
Rev. Francis Thackeray, A.M., of Benbrooke College, Cambridge, England, says: "We have reasons to believe that Christianity was preached in both countries, Gaul and Britain, before the close of the first century. The results of my investigations on my own mind has been the conviction that about A.D. 60, in the time of St. Paul, a church existed in Britain," (Jarrel, page 317).
Bede, the British historian, who wrote his celebrated "Ecclesiastical History" in A.D. 731, says: "The Britons preserved the faith which they had received uncorrupted and entire in peace and tranquillity until the time of Emperor Diocletian." It appears that Diocletian died in A.D. 313. (See Bede's "Ecclesiastical History," Book II, Chapter 14).
Bede, speaking of this persecution, says: "When the storm of persecution ceased, the faithful Christians, who during the time of danger had hidden themselves in woods and deserts and secret caves, appearing in public, rebuilt the churches which had been leveled to the ground," etc.
Benedict gives a narrative from the Baptist Jubilee Memorial, at Kettering, of the fiftieth anniversary of the first Baptist missionary society, which contains the following statement: "England undoubtedly received the gospel in the days of the apostles; and its ecclesiastical history plainly proves that thousands were baptized according to the primitive mode. About the same time, or soon after, Wales was visited by Christian teachers; and when Austin visited this country, about the year A.D. 600, he found a society of Christians at Banger, consisting of twenty-one hundred persons, who were afterwards destroyed, because they refused to baptize infants, at the command of the pope. Austin was sent to England by Pope Gregory the Great for the purpose of promoting the subjection of the British to the papal see. He advanced the leading doctrines of the Romish Church, among which he ranked infant baptism, and exhorted the people implicitly to receive his dogmas. Some yielded to the influence which he exercised; but a goodly number resisted, among whom the Christians at Banger are numbered. Austin, therefore, has the credit of introducing infant baptism into England; for before that time it was unknown," (Page 302).
Bishop Usher complains of the Waldensian heresy's corrupting all France, Italy, and England in A.D. 1080. He speaks of its affecting England in the year A.D. 1100.
In about A.D. 1158 about thirty persons of the Waldensian sect came over into England to disseminate their doctrine. We have a mention of them in England in A.D. 1182. Bishop Usher mentions the order of the Friar Minorities coming into England in A.D. 1235 to suppress the Waldensian heresy.
"In the time of King Edward II," says Jarrel, "about the year A.D. 1315, Walter Lollard, a German preacher, a man of great renown among the Waldenses, came into England. He spread their doctrine very much in these parts; so that afterwards they went by the name 'Lollards,'" (Page 319).
Benedict and others give about the same account of Walter Lollard's visiting England. The Baptists in England were frequently called "Lollards" by their enemies for more than a century after the visit of Walter Lollard. They were generally among the common people, as their principles were held in mortal abhorrence by the clergy of the established religion. Those who believed or advocated them had to do so privately, or suffer; yet they were of the purest character and had many learned men to espouse their cause and boldly advocate their doctrine. When Walter Lollard visited England, his extensive learning and superior ability no doubt were the means of bringing many of the more distinguished people of England in contact with these holy principles; and to know them is to love them. As a result, many who were occupying distinguished positions in the established church broke away from the tyranny of the established priest and breathed the pure spirit of the Lollards - such as John Wickliffe (or Wycliffe), who was professor in the University of Oxford, and who gave the first English translation of the Scriptures. When he began to teach this pure doctrine of freedom of conscience and to instruct the people to read the Scriptures and make them their rule of faith and practice, he incurred the everlasting displeasure of the corrupt clergy, who saw that such measures would strike at the root of ignorance and superstition; and, as observed by Brown, "like the Ephesians of old, they trembled for their craft." At length they obtained letters patent from the king, directing that Wickliffe should be expelled from the University of Oxford, and that all of his publications should be everywhere seized and destroyed. When Wickliffe could no longer resist this flood of cruel intolerance, he gave up his professorship at Oxford and retired to Lutterworth.
No man in England has done more for the cause of Christ and the freedom of the people from the cruelties of ignorance and superstition than Wickliffe. So great was his influence among the Lollards that they have been frequently called "Wickliffites;" but, as is so often the case, it took another generation to appreciate the inestimable value of the works of this great man and to do justice to his name. "After his death, his bones were dug up and burned by his enraged enemies."
Nothing was sweeter to this truth-loving people than the Holy Scriptures brought to them in their own language, for which they were indebted to the ever-faithful labors of Wickliffe. They gave enormous prices for small portions of the sacred writings. One man is mentioned by Mrs. Conant, in her "History of the English Translations of the Bible," as having given a load of hay for a few chapters of one of Paul's Epistles. They frequently met under the cover of night to read the scriptures, for it was punishable by death to be found in possession of the Scriptures or to read them. Mrs. Conan says: "So sweet was the refreshing to their spirits that sometimes the morning light surprised them with its call to a new day of labor ere they had thought of sleep."
The monks of these times, cursed with ignorance and superstition, made themselves conspicuous by the zeal of their opposition to the use of the Bible, declaring from their pulpits that "there was now a new language invented, called 'Greek,' of which the people should beware as the source of all heresies; that in this language had come forth a book, called the 'New Testament,' which was now in everybody's hands and was full of thorns and briers; that there was also another language started up, which they called 'Hebrew,' and that they who learn it were turned Jews," ("History of the English Translations of the Bible," page 121).
The same author says: "One Christopher Shoomaker, burned at Newberry, was accused of having gone to the house of John Say and read to him out of a book the words which Christ spoke to his disciples," (Page 117).
William Sawtree was another example of a minister in high standing embracing this pure religion of Christ and for which he gave his life.
William Tyndale was another ripe scholar who embraced the faith of this poor, harassed, and much-persecuted people. He may be said to stand next to Wickliffe in the noble work of giving the English-speaking people the Bible and emancipating England from the slavery of papacy. Tyndale translated the entire Bible into the English language. This translation, no doubt, was the main guide for the translation under King James.
Tyndale is said to have sown the seed that won the noble young Frith to the faith. Frith was a polished scholar. He assisted Tyndale in translating the Scriptures. They both fled to Holland for safety, and there they dwelt together and labored in the noble cause of translating the Scriptures. After spending quite a while in exile and poverty with Tyndale, Frith came secretly into England, it is supposed, to counsel and encourage these churches of the pious which were called "Lollards." Frith had already brought down the vengeance of the clergy of the established church by his reply to Sir Thomas Moore, in which he defeated Moore's opinion on purgatory. While among the churches, comforting and consoling their spirits, he was arrested; and after a long confinement in loathsome prisons, he was examined by the bishops, condemned, and taken to Smithfield and burned at the stake on July 4, 1533. While in the flames, Frith smiled and prayed for those who railed on him.
"Thus died - not yet thirty years old - one of the most brilliant, accomplished, and virtuous of English youths," (See "History of the English Translations of the Bible").
Three years later the wise and good Tyndale suffered a like death. His last words were : "Lord, open the eyes of the king of England."
"Thus perished, a victim to priestcraft, the purest of England's patriots and the crown of its martyrs, the best and the greatest man of his times," (Conant).
Benedict mentions special laws being made for the punishment of the Lollards by death in A.D. 1400, during the reign of Henry IV. The same author recites a narrative, from Robinson's "Dissertation," of a church of this kind at Chestertown, in A.D. 1457, that privately assembled for divine worship and had preachers of its own. Six of them were accused of heresy, and were made to do penance half naked in the public market place. (See Benedict, page 309.)
"In A.D. 1536 the national clergy met in convocation and declared the sentiments of the Baptists to be detestable heresies, utterly to be condemned."
"In A.D. 1538 a commission was given to Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and others, to proceed against the Baptists and burn their books. On November 16, in the same year, a royal proclamation was issued against them. Instructions were sent to the justices throughout England, directing them to see that the law against the Baptists were duly executed. Several were burned to death in Smithfield," etc., (Benedict, page 303).
"Such was the furious bigotry with which they were pursued that when King Edward passed an Act to pardon papists and others, the baptists were excepted. In the following year (A.D. 1547) a fresh commission was issued to the archbishop to search after all Baptists; and under that commission the celebrated Joan of Kent, who was a Baptist, was burned on May 2, A.D. 1549. Several others shared the same fate," (Benedict, page 303).
A very distressing scene of persecution (in A.D. 1575) of some German Baptists who had fled to London from Flanders is mentioned by Benedict, Fuller, and Crosby.
In A.D. 1643 the English Baptists drew up a "Confession of Faith," which was afterwards revised and published in A.D. 1689, which contains all the doctrinal and practical features of all the former "Confessions of Faith" put forth by the Baptists; and it has ever stood as an accepted expression of faith of all true Baptists everywhere from then till the present time. This "Confession of Faith" was first written seven years after the first church of English Baptists was established in America.
It is very evident from the English authors, of both sacred and profane history, that there have been Baptist Churches in England from the very days of the apostles.
Jarrel says: "There is no record of Baptists' having ever become nonexistent in England," (Page 318).
Benedict gives the following statement from Robinson: "I have seen enough to convince me that the present English dissenters, contending for the sufficiency of Scripture and for primitive Christian liberty to judge of its meaning, may be traced back in authentic manuscripts to the nonconformists; to the Puritans; to the Lollards; to the Valdenses; to the Albigenses; and, I suppose, through Paulicians and others, to the apostles," (Page 309).
Those holy, inoffensive people, whose history is unparalleled by any other upon earth, can be traced, as it were, by their own blood through all the various countries where they have lived or traveled from the very days of the apostles till after the Reformation. In all these ages their churches were scenes of bloodshed, and they were the objects of suffering and cruelty; and it was all because they would not forsake the pure and holy principles handed down to them by the apostles and which were necessary to preserve pure the order and identity of the apostolic church and for holding the simple doctrine that there is no authority to administrator the ordinances outside of the church of God; that God has but one church, and it exclusively has church authority. "It shall not be left to other people" has cost them indescribable suffering and torture for a period of more than twelve hundred years. This pure, scriptural doctrine has caused them to immerse anew all that came over to them from any other sect ever since there has been a plurality of denominations, which has been since A.D. 251. This single practice of immersing all that joined them, even if they had been baptized by some other sect, has made them the derision of the popular religionists of all the succeeding ages; and, to drive them from that practice, they have suffered all the cruelties and bitter criticism that the ingenuity of proud religious bigots could invent for hundreds of years. But, in spite of the gibbet, the rack, the guillotine, the scald vat, the flame that blazed all along back on their pathway, and every other painful and shocking cruelty that the powers of darkness could originate, the Baptists have continued the practice to the present day, and have preserved pure the ordinance of baptism and church identity through all the ages of darkness to the present time.
The general hatred and cruelty toward the Baptists upon the part of those of the established religion was shown by excepting the Baptists from the general Acts of pardon published in A.D. 1538, A.D. 1540, and A.D. 1550. Those who hold that infants ought not to be baptized were excluded from the benefit. It appears that "thieves and vagabonds shared the king's favor, but Baptists were not to be tolerated," (see Jarrel's "Baptist History," page 325; see also Cramp).
During the reign of Mary "a man named 'David George,' a Dutchman, was disinterred in St. Lawrence's Church, three years after his death, and his body was burned, because it was discovered that he had been a Baptist," (Benedict, page 303).
"William Sawtree was the first (A.D. 1401) who in this country (England) suffered at the stake for his religious opinions and who was supposed to deny infant baptism; and Edward Wightman, a Baptist, of Burton-on-Trent, was the last that suffered this cruel kind of death in England. So this denomination has the honor of both leading the way and bringing up the rear of all the martyrs who were burned alive in England," (Brown's "Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge").
In some parts of the world the Baptists in every age, from the apostles' day till about the close of the fifteenth century, have meekly walked up to the stake and paid the price of the liberty of conscience. It has been the lot of the Baptists to suffer. Their doctrine is not of this world, and these of a worldly religion have always hated it and all who taught it. The devil has always hated with a perfect hatred those whom he had no prospect of winning. The Baptists have suffered martyrdom at the hands of both the Catholics and the Protestants. To maintain the purity and simplicity of their God-loving, self-denying, and world-sacrificing religion, the Baptists have suffered in the flames at the hands of pagan Rome, papal Rome, and I might say, Protestant Rome.
The Baptists of England maintained all the characteristics of this ancient order which have distinguished them from all other sects in all ages: (1) Independent form of church government; (2) baptism by immersion upon a profession of faith; (3) they baptized anew all that came to them from any other sect; (4) they refused baptism to infants; (5) they were predestinarians; (6) they taught freedom of conscience; (7) they opposed the union of church and State; (8) they acknowledge no rule of faith and practice but the Scriptures.
The names of some of the prominent ministers and authors who were the exponents of the Baptist principles in England from the time that Walter Lollard visited England (A.D. 1315) until the first church of English Baptists was planted in America were John Wickliffe, Thomas Bodby, John Claydon, William Sawtree, David George, Thomas Mann, Christopher Shoomaker, William Tyndale, and John Frith.
There were two branches of Baptists in England. Besides the "Particular Baptists," as they are sometimes called, there were the General Baptists, who originated from John Smyth. Smyth was a minister of the Church of England, at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. When he became dissatisfied with some things in the discipline and ceremonies of the church, he quit his living at Gainsborough and joined the Brownists, or Separatists. He soon raised a dispute with them as to the validity of their baptism, and they excluded him. This was after he and his friends had fled to Holland, in A.D. 1606. He soon converted a great many of the Separatists to his views, and formed them into a church in about A.D. 1607. He was rather puzzled, it seems, as to how to obtain authentic baptism. He was acquainted with the Mennonists (Dutch Baptists), but he differed so materially from them on some points that he would not receive baptism at their hands. He rejected the doctrine of personal and unconditional election, and taught a very lax system of Arminianism. There is some dispute as to how Smyth was baptized. Some claim that he baptized himself; but this is disputed by Mr. Taylor, the General Baptist historian, who conjectures that the church appointed two persons to do the baptizing, and that after they had baptized each other they baptized the rest of the church.
The Primitive Baptists have always held views of doctrine which would now be called "Calvinism," while the General Baptists have always been Arminians.
The first church of English Baptists in America was constituted at Newport, R.I., in A.D. 1638, by Elder John Clark, M.D. At first it consisted of himself and eleven others. Like those of England, the members of this church were strong predestinarians. (See Hassell's "History," page 526.)
The second church of Baptists was constituted at Newport in A.D. 1656; one at Swansea, Mass., in A.D. 1663; one at Boston, Mass., in A.D. 1665; one at Philadelphia, Pa., in A.D. 1698; one at Hopewell, N.J., in A.D. 1715.
The Welsh Tract Church was constituted in South Wales in A.D. 1701, and came to America as an organized body in September of the same year. The church is located two miles from Newark, Del. It was organized with sixteen members, with Thomas Griffith as pastor.
The church at Southampton, Bucks County, Pa., was constituted in A.D. 1746. Its organic members were from the church at Pennepek. The Pennepek church was constituted in A.D. 1687. It was gathered by the faithful labors of Elder Elias Keach, who was also its first pastor. He was the son of the noted Benjamin Keach, of London, who was a member of the convention that drew up and published the London "Confession of Faith" in A.D. 1689.
The Philadelphia Association, in Pennsylvania, was the first Baptist association formed in America, constituted in A.D. 1707; the second was the Charleston Association, of South Carolina, organized in A.D. 1751; the third was the Sandy Creek Association, of North Carolina, organized in A.D. 1758; the fourth was the Kehukee Association, of North Carolina, organized in A.D. 1765; the fifth was the Ketockton Association, of Virginia, organized in A.D. 1766; the sixth was the Warren Association, of Rhode Island, organized in A.D. 1767; the seventh was the Stonington Association, of Connecticut, organized in A.D. 1772; the eighth was the Strawberry Association, of Virginia, organized in A.D. 1776; the ninth was the Shaftsbury Association, of Vermont, organized in A.D. 1780; the tenth was the Salisbury Association, of Maryland, organized in A.D. 1782; the eleventh was the Woodstock Association, of Vermont, organized in A.D. 1783; the twelfth was the Dover Association, of Virginia, organized in A.D. 1783; the thirteenth was the Georgia Association, of Georgia, organized in A.D. 1784; the fourteenth was the Vermont Association, of Vermont, organized in A.D. 1785, the fifteenth was the Salem Association, of Kentucky, organized in A.D. 1785; the sixteenth was the Elk Horn Association, of Kentucky, organized in A.D. 1785; the seventeenth was the Holston Association, of Tennessee, organized in A.D. 1786.
The first association organized in each of the following States was as follows: New Hampshire, the Meredith Association in A.D. 1789; New York, the Warwick Association, in A.D. 1791; Ohio, the Miami Association, in A.D. 1797; Mississippi, the Mississippi Association, in A.D. 1807; Indiana, the White Water Association, in A.D. 1809; Illinois, The Illinois Association, in A.D. 1809; New Jersey, the New Jersey Association, in A.D. 1811; Massachusetts, the Boston Association, in A.D. 1811; Alabama, the Bethlehem Association, in A.D. 1816; Missouri, the Missouri Association, in A.D. 1817; Louisiana, the Louisiana Association, in A.D. 1820; Michigan, the Michigan Association, in A.D. 1827.
There were about thirty-five large associations of Baptist Churches formed in the United States before the close of the eighteenth century. The Baptists in the United States prospered and rapidly gained in number from the beginning of the eighteenth century until the early part of the nineteenth century. In A.D. 1827 there was a small division in some parts, and a faction sprang off, which was provoked by the teachings and efforts of Dr. Alexander Campbell, who was a man of extensive learning and great power of thought. He was originally an Associate Reformed Presbyterian. He first joined the Red Stone Baptist Association, in Western Pennsylvania; and later, he joined the Mahoning Association. He began to preach baptism in order to the remission of all past sins and to make the eternal salvation of sinners depend upon conditions to be performed by them, which were flatly opposed to the finest principles of the Baptist doctrine. He tried to reform the Baptist Church to these principles; but when the churches understood his intentions, they declared nonfellowship with him and all those who advocated his reformatory move. This division gave rise to the denomination now called the "Christian Church," or "Disciples."
Dr. Campbell recognized the fact that the Baptists came down by unbroken succession from the apostles, for in his debate with McCalls he said: "From the apostolic age to the present time the sentiments of the Baptists and their practice of baptism have had a continued chain of advocates, and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced." He held that the Baptists had the kingdom of God until they rejected his reformation. He said: "As it was with the Jews in the time of the Messiah and his apostles, so it is now with the Baptists. The nation, as such, continued to be the kingdom of God until they rejected the offered salvation," (Millennial Harbinger, Volume VII, pages 57, 58).
About the same time there was another division started, which became general, and divided the Baptists of America and some other countries into two denominations. This great division resulted from the organizing of a missionary society at Kettering, England, by Dr. William Carey and others in A.D. 1792. From the time of the organization of this society for many years it was the fruitful source of great strife and fiery discussion. In A.D. 1827 the Kehukee Association, of North Carolina, declared nonfellowship for this new institution and all of a kindred nature, from the fact that it was unknown to the Scriptures and to our denomination prior to A.D. 1792. The example of the Kehukee Association was followed by the Baltimore Association, of Maryland, and the County Line Association, of North Carolina, in A.D. 1832; and from them it swept through the entire country. Some associations took one side, some took the other side, and some split. The division continued until A.D. 1845. Those that held with the old order of things were styled "Old-school Baptists," or "Primitive Baptists;" while those who contended for the new institution were called "New-school Baptists," or "Missionary Baptists." Many have thought that the division was simply on practice, but really it was provoked by the change in doctrine which the claim for the missionary society wrought.1 The "Confession of Faith," Chapter III, Articles 5, 6, reads: "Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose and the secret counsel and good pleasures of his will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory out of his mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as condition or cause moving him thereunto. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so he hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Therefore they are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ - are effectually called into faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any others redeemed by Christ nor effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only."
The Primitive Baptists thought that many of the claims for the work of the missionary society flatly contradicted the sentiments set forth in the "Confession of Faith," such as occurs in Dr. Judson's letter to the ladies of America - viz.: "Some - yes, many - precious souls might have been redeemed from the quenchless fires of hell, where now they must lie and suffer through all eternity, had you not been afraid of being thought unfashionable," etc. Those who argued for the missionary assistance began at once to use such expressions in their sermons and writings as that just mentioned and as the following from a chart published by the Baptist Missionary Union - viz.: "The heathens are dying at the rate of one hundred thousand a day. They are sinking down to hell every day because of the neglect of the church in its duty." "These forty children of God have cost us in cash just four dollars apiece. Who, in the face of all this, is not willing to give four dollars to save a soul from eternal damnation? Certainly no one. O, Brethren, just think - only four dollars for a ticket from earth to heaven!" (A. A. C., in Texas Baptist and Herald).
Such expressions as these seemed to those who held to the old order of things to flatly contradict the entire sentiment of the "Confession of Faith" and the word of God, which says: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out," (John 6:37). Then they thought that the missionary society, as it was organized and operated, tended to dispute the sovereignty of the church by taking the work that belonged to the church and putting it in the hands of a human institution. They thought that if some check was not put upon this rank change of things the denomination would soon be plunged into the depths of Arminianism and the purity and identity of their doctrine would be lost, so that there would be no distinction in doctrine between them and the General Baptists and all other Arminians.
I am glad to say that many able and pious men among those of the missionary element have discovered the corrupting errors of the missionary society, organized in A.D. 1792, which split asunder our precious Baptist family forty years later. One hundred years' experience has clearly demonstrated the baneful influence of an unscriptural institution organized independent of the churches, exercising control over both the churches and the ministry, and enslaving them to its corrupting influence. They see how it is destroying the sovereignty of the churches, trammeling the conscience of their ministry, and flooding their churches with an unregenerated membership; and many are using all the means in their power to correct those errors.
I will now give some quotations from Elder T.P. Crawford, D.D., who spent fifty years in China, laboring as a missionary, and whose experience there convinced him of the error of the mission-board system. He refused the salary which the board was paying him and labored for years as a preacher on the apostolic plan. He says: "In the spring of A.D. 1852 a small party of Southern Baptist missionaries - Dr. G.W. Burton, myself, and my wife - bound for Shanghai, arrived at Hongkong, where our good ship, Horatio, ended its voyage. Here we remained about ten days, waiting for a vessel to take us up the coast of Shanghai. We were the fortunate guests of Drs. Dean and Johnson, of the Northern Baptist Board. During our stay with them we heard of a good deal of talk about mission work, native converts, paid assistants, chapels, mission schools, hospitals, and the like. We also heard frequent remarks concerning the characteristics of the Chinese people, the blunders of new missionaries, etc. Protestant missions had then been carried on in and around Canton City for some twenty years or more. Hence certain very unfavorable symptoms were beginning to manifest themselves in that region. The famous Dr. Gutzlaff, of Germany, one of the oldest and most influential missionaries in the field, had recently died. As his large 'native church' and his army of paid assistants had all come to grief, his ideas and methods of work were up for discussion in mission circles. It was said in my hearing that Dr. Gutzlaff publicly maintained that 'we should not expect Chinamen to be regenerated, or born again, in the present generation.' Acting on this assumption, he gathered a large number of Chinese into his church and put scores of them into the ministry without even a profession on their part of any change of heart. I also heard the story of their bad character generally; of how they had managed to hoodwink him for years in succession; of how, by cooperation and false pretenses, they had continued to draw large sums of money from his mission treasury, in addition to their regular salaries; and of how, finally, one of Dr. Gutzlaff's associates, having managed to detect their scheme, had at last broken up the rotten concern. The whole rotten thing, 'from collar to garret,' was built on mission money. Years after this I was told by a member of his mission that only one of Dr. Gutzlaff's numerous converts remained faithful to the Christian profession . . . I also learned, while at Hongkong, that all, or nearly all, of the native converts of every denomination, Baptist included, were in the employment of the missions or in some way supported by their funds. Those things, be assured, made a deep impression on my unsophisticated Baptist mind. This money method of making disciples and preachers seemed to me the very opposite of the course employed by Christ and his apostles. I saw clearly then, as I see now, that it must lead to utter corruption; and I said to myself: 'A true, living Baptist Church can never be built on mission money.' From that moment my conscience rose to action; and I resolved never to use, or to sanction the use of, mission funds in paying native converts to preach or to do any other kind of religious work. To me a hireling ministry implied a corrupt membership; and at once I took up the true Baptist position - that a regenerated church, led by God-called, self-denying pastors, was the only kind of Christianity for which I could work, suffer, and pray. Let others do as they might, here I resolved to stand; and, by the help of God, here I have stood to this day," (Evolution in My Mission Views, pages 25-27).
"Many of these 'native preachers,' I soon found, know very little of the Scriptures. They know nothing at all of the new birth or of the self-denying spirit of true Christianity. They regarded themselves simply as 'foreign employees,' on so many dollars per month, to garner in converts for the gratification of their masters." (Page 28)
"It seemed to me then, as it seems to me now, that Baptist Churches would never be erected on foreign money or on what is known as the 'employment system' of modern missions . . . Accordingly, I took up the then strange position that it would be ruinous to our Baptist type of Christianity to support native preachers with foreign funds; that it was not the business either of single missionaries or of 'mission bodies' to put men into the ministry; that this was the prerogative of the Holy Spirit and of the church to which a person belongs. This position threw me into opposition to the course pursued both in China and in all other mission fields." (Page 29)
"My judgment being fully convinced, my conscience rose to the occasion, prepared for action, regardless of difficulties or personal losses. So now by the grace of God I was enabled to throw down my salary and gird myself ready to strike for a thorough revolution single-handed and alone." (Page 94)
After Dr. Crawford had made two trips back to America and laid the case before the board and the Southern Baptist Convention and failed to get the cooperation of the board and the convention in correcting those errors, or even the respect of the board, he said: "I felt miserable in view of the tendency of things among us. I seemed to stand on the bank of a rushing stream, to see the 'Ship of Zion' drifting rapidly out to sea among the breakers. I felt utterly helpless, unable to drift with it and unable either to check or deflect its onward course. All I could do, it seemed to me, was to stand helplessly on the bank and see it drift out into the breakers."
These are remarkable utterances, coming from the source they do; and surely they signify much. Many strong men among the missionaries have taken up the echo of this good man, and it has reverberated from one side of the denomination to the other.
Dr. J.N. Hall, of Fulton, Ky., one of the ablest men of the denomination, has championed the cause of what is called the "gospel-mission plan" - i.e., submit all the affairs of preaching the gospel unto the authority of the churches; and it seems that his arguments are unanswerable by the board advocates, and it appears that he is making converts by the hundreds.
Elder J.A. Scarboro, a very able minister, has also espoused the cause of the "gospel-mission plan," with several other strong men.
May we not indulge the hope that at no great distance in the future a great wing of this denomination may return to primitive faith and practice - to the pure, scriptural doctrine and order - and swell Zion's borders with hundreds of Zion's wandering children?2
The Primitive Baptists are not antimissionaries, as some have understood them. They believe in preaching the gospel in all the world upon Bible precedence, but they do not believe in a scheme that puts the eternal salvation of men on a money basis and takes the preaching of the gospel out of the hands of the church and puts it in the hands of a man-made institution which disputes the plain teaching of the Bible and their "Confession of Faith." This is why they raised a bar to fellowship against these new societies. It was not because they were opposed to the spread of the gospel or the support of those who preach it, but it was to preserve the purity of the primitive doctrine and order of the church. The Primitive Baptists are in favor of any plan of spreading the gospel that does not conflict with the teaching of the Bible.
The Primitive Baptists are not "Hardshells," as some have erroneously styled them. This term is applicable only to the Antinomians and the Fatalists. No well-informed person will apply this epithet to the Primitive Baptists.
When the division was to an end, in A.D. 1845, the Primitive Baptists had about 50,000 members. They did not increase rapidly for some years after the division; but for the last quarter of a century they have been much revived, and the denomination has steadily grown in number and in favor with all good people.
The census report devoted to church statistics prepared under the direction of Henry K. Carroll, LL. D., for A.D. 1896, gives the statistics of the Primitive Baptists in the United States as follows:
|State||Organizations||Church Officers||Value of Church Property||Communicants|
|District of Col.||2||*||*||34|
Their churches have a seating capacity, in all the states, of 899,273. In the United States they have twelve church papers, three of which are weeklies.
This report is somewhat imperfect. It falls short of their real number, as they heretofore have had no general meetings into which all the statistics of all the associations may come and be tabulated. It is, therefore, quite difficult to obtain the statistics of their associations.
Our denomination is well represented in England, where we are called "Particular Baptists." Our church organ is the Gospel Standard. "The Particular Baptists of England have 2,023 churches and 209,773 members." (Hitchcock) In Germany they are known as "Grace Baptists."
The denomination at present has the best prospect for general and lasting prosperity that it has had for one hundred years; it is blessed with so many able and zealous gifts in the ministry, and its meetings are attended with such marked success. Almost all the churches report considerable increase at the associations; some report as high as seventy-five accessions during the year.
It fills my longing soul with sweet gratitude to see the signs multiply upon us of our denomination's awaking from its long slumber to a sense of its profound obligations to God for first giving us the kingdom, then perpetuating it through all the mighty changes of nineteen hundred years, and to that great army of noble martyrs and sufferers for the truth through whose patience and labor this heavenly kingdom has been so marvelously preserved. I do thank God that it has been my sacred privilege and portion to have a humble name in this ancient order that has for its Head and Leader the holy Son of God and for its followers the noblest train of true soldiers that have ever followed a victorious leader through all the sorrows and sadnesses of a bitter warfare to final glory. What lover of the cause of Christ could read anything of the unparalleled history of the poor, suffering Baptists, who have borne so much for Jesus and his precious truth, and then not rejoice to be of that sect that is everywhere "spoken against?"
It does seem to me that these few facts, selected from the many that tell the story of our peculiar people, are sufficient to call forth all true Primitive Baptists in the land to arise with all the powers with which God has possessed them and press to the very front in the discharge of their every duty to this noble cause of truth which God has preserved through all the ages of darkness and torture and perpetuated its identity to the present time.
It has been with the sweetest pleasure that I have traced this unpretentious and self-denying people from the very shores of Jordan, where the first Baptist began the gospel of Jesus Christ and immersed the anxious multitudes that flocked to him from Jerusalem, Judea, and all the regions around about Jordan in search of the promised Messiah, through all the vicissitudes of nineteen centuries to the present time. I have traced them through all the matchless ministry of Jesus of Nazareth and his holy apostles; from them to their successors, known as the "apostolic fathers" - Polycarp, Barnabas, Hermas, Clement, Ignatius, and Papaeus; from them to Irenaeus, Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Privatus, and Fabian - down to the days of Novatian and the rise of antichrist, the stupendous corruption that split the church in A.D. 251. I have traced them through this remarkable division, and have seen how the purity and the simplicity of the doctrine and order of the church were preserved through the faithful labors of Novatian, Novatus, and those truth-loving and self-denying saints who held with them. I have shown how they were called "Novatianists," after this great man, for some two hundred years, and how they were persecuted by their enemies until they fled from their own country and were led by the noble Leo over the Alps in the beautiful valleys of Piedmont, where they were called "Waldenses" from their dwelling in valleys. We have seen, with pleasure, that they have never acknowledged any authority to administer the ordinances outside of the true church of God. From the very rise of another sect they have baptized anew all that came over to them from any other sect. On this account they were called "Anabaptists," and this practice has caused them untold suffering and persecution; but it has kept pure their communion. We have seen how these valleys furnished them a safe asylum for hundreds of years, where they could worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience and practice their own pure religion without fear; but they were finally discovered by the corrupting element and again tortured and driven from their homes and scattered abroad throughout France, Germany, Bohemia, Holland, and England, where they planted their churches and taught the pure faith of the apostolic church. We have seen that they were martyred for their faith in all these countries by those of the established religion; but, in spite of the floods of persecution, they prospered. Numbers of learned and able men came to them, espoused their noble cause, and defended their holy principles. The principles for which the Baptists have so sorely suffered in all the countries in which they lived or traveled during the Dark ages are: Freedom of conscience to worship God as they think right, freedom of speech, and freedom of the pen; independent church government; the sufficiency of God's sovereign, effectual grace in the salvation of lost sinners; immersion of adults only upon profession of faith; the sufficiency of the Scriptures to teach us all that we need to do or believe religiously; administration of the ordinances by the authority of the church of God only. I have traced them through all the ages of darkness, with all of its sin and suffering, down to the Reformation, when the established religionists were so divided against themselves that they could no longer have power to compel people by law to support their measures. Truly "the earth helped the woman." Before the Reformation had given universal liberty to the religious world we see the Baptists resorting to America, while yet a backwoods, in search of a home where they could preach their gospel of liberty and enjoy their religion without being molested. In America they were not entirely free from oppression until after the war of the Revolution. Some of them were whipped, some were ducked, and some were arraigned before the courts for preaching the gospel. We have seen, at length, that this poor, afflicted, oppressed, and much-persecuted people won the liberty for which they so long and so earnestly contended. They held sacred those principles all the ages. Through all the heresies and divisions they have held on to the same principles. They preserved them through the rise and opposition of the General Baptists of England and the departure under the leadership of Alexander Campbell, and have clung to them and suffered almost the loss of all things for them during the deranging influences set in operation by the invention of the mission-board institution and through some minor divisions. They have held them pure and simple; and today, with hearts bursting with emotion, they proclaim them to a dying world. This community has been the sufferer and has had to bear the loss in the origin of every branch of the Baptist family; in fact, the Primitive Baptists have been present and witnessed the birth of every other Christian denomination on earth.
I do feel thankful to God for this blessed cause, and I do sincerely desire to do everything in my power for its prosperity and general good while God permits me to live. O, brethren, children of the Heavenly King and recipients of the joy and blessings of this ancient community, let us not neglect this noble cause which has cost our holy brethren so much!
It is a remarkable fact that our poor old Baptists believe the same doctrines and hold the same simplicity of order that have characterized our people in all the ages of the past and bear the same marks of reproach for advocating them as did those holy people in the days of martyrdom, when they so faithfully suffered for them.
1) This statement could possibly convey misimpressions if not considered along with remarks that follow. As the authors explain in subsequent paragraphs, the dispute over modern mission plans definitely involved differences on practice as well as doctrine. The Primitive Baptists of both past and present almost universally agree that the scriptures command the ministry to evangelize; however, they believe the scriptures also give certain specifications for the conduct of this work, and that modern mission plans violate these specifications on several essential points. The authors also tend to obscure another issue in the dispute; namely, that of the respective roles of the ministry and the church in evangelical work. The position generally held by Primitive Baptists has been that it is not the role of the church to delegate men to preach in assigned regions, but that the initiative and prerogative in such responsibilities has been committed to the ministry, as lead by the Holy Spirit, and that the local church has been committed with the responsibility of supporting the ministry with prayer and material necessities.
2) The hundred years transpiring since this statement show the authors were overly optimistic. While it is true that a great number of individuals, especially ministers, have been converted from the doctrinal and practical errors of modern Baptists, no great wing of that body has been restored to the primitive faith. Instead, the general tendency of that body has been to drift even further into the errors which provoked the division from the Old School or Primitive Baptists.
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