Many of the writings and records of the Lord's
congregations have been burned, and often the writers have been burned with them. Much of
their history has been written by their enemies, and some by those with no affiliation
with, or affection for, either. That is both good and bad. It is good in that the fact
that the enemies wrote of people whom we consider the Lord's congregations proves that
they existed (and we do have such writings from nearly every decade since Jesus built His
first congregation). It is good in that we have proof of their doctrine by the accusations
and persecutions against them. It is good in that those writings, being written by
enemies, have been preserved. It is bad that their doctrines, being recorded as
accusations or by the spiritually ignorant, have often been misinterpreted and
misrepresented. Much historical research is available concerning the Lord's congregations,
in the writings of apostates and protestants trying to "claim kin" or to justify
some false doctrine. While such writings can be very useful, it is important to beware of
the bias of the writer.
For example, the Ecclesiastical History written by Eusebius
records some important history, but as Berlin Hisel pointed out in his Baptist History
It is my opinion that Mosheim and others relate certain charges against
the Montanists because they follow the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. Eusebius was
born about 275 A.D. and died about 339 A.D. He was bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and is
revered, by most, as the father of church history. He was a close friend to Constantine,
the ruler of the Roman Empire who united false churches to the state power. It is believed
by many that Constantine commissioned him to write this history and financed his travel
and investigatons. Knowing what Constantine did to our Baptist ancestors should make us
leary of him. Knowing he was a friend of Eusebius should make us careful of Eusebius too.
In the study of the history of the Lord's congregations, they are found
to have been known by many different names at various times and places. Those names have
usually been assigned them by their enemies and in derision. It can be found that apostate
and false congregations sometimes bore the same names as did those of Christ's. Such is
clearly the case at the present time, and probably more prevalent than in any other
Some writers have picked out those apostate and false congregations of
the past, and cite their irregular faith and practice as representative of all who were
known by the same name. That seems usually to be done in effort to find credibility for
their own heresy, or to try to discredit those congregations that have remained true to
The same tactics are being used today by many to advance their agenda
of unionism, and sad to say, many true congregations, being ignorant of their own
heritage, are falling for it. It is no more sensible nor honest to make false allegations
or charges by sweeping generalization against the faithful congregations than it would be
to say that all American wives are unfaithful to their husbands, just because some have
been found so to be.
From the time of Cain and Abel, those who have taught and stood for the
truth of the true Christ have found themselves caught in a fierce, bitter, and often
bloody, ongoing battle that started when Lucifer said in his heart, "I will be like
the most High" (Isaiah 14:13).
With his offering to God, Abel was teaching, with typology, salvation
by grace through faith in Christ. Cain changed the message with the typology of his
offering (Genesis 4:1-8). Rather than repent and accept the truth, Cain killed the true
Read in Luke 11:49-52, what Jesus said to some religious leaders about
Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and
apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the
prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this
generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the
altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Woe
unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in
yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.
In Matthew 23:33-35, Jesus said:
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation
of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some
of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues,
and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed
upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of
Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
John the Baptist was beheaded for declaring the truth.
Following their Savior in rapid succession fell many other martyred
heroes: Stephen was stoned, Matthew was slain in Ethiopia, Mark dragged through the
streets until dead, Luke hanged, Peter and Simeon were crucified, Andrew tied to a cross,
James beheaded, Philip crucified and stoned, Bartholomew flayed alive, Thomas pierced with
lances, James, the less, thrown from the temple and beaten to death, Jude shot to death
with arrows, Matthias stoned to death and Paul beheaded. (The
Trail of Blood by J.M. Carroll)
The same bloody battle has continued in every period of time since, in
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual
wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
In the introduction of his book, Martyrs Mirror, Thieleman J.
van Braght wrote:
Those who suffered among the pagans were, for the most part, examined
concerning the first article of the Christian faith, wherein we confess: "I believe
in one God, the Father, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth," etc.; and if the
apprehended Christians confessed only this, viz., that they believed in one God, they were
condemned to death: for the pagans recognized many gods.
Those who suffered among the Jews or Mohammedans were examined
concerning the second article, wherein we confess: I believe "in Jesus Christ, the
only begotten Son of God, our Lord, who was conceived of the holy Ghost," etc. When
they had confessed this, they had also forfeited their lives; for the Jews and the
Mohammedans do not acknowledge Christ as the Son of God, much less as His only-begotten
(or own) Son, and that He was conceived of the Holy Ghost.
On account of this article many believers were killed among the Arians.
Those who suffered among the false Christians, especially among the
Romanists, were examined concerning nearly all the articles of faith, in regard to which
difference of opinion existed between us and them, viz., the incarnation of Christ, the
office of the secular authorities, the swearing of oaths, etc., but above all others, the
article of holy baptism, namely, whether they were denied infant baptism? or, whether they
were rebaptized? which latter principally caused their death; as sentence of death was
immediately passed upon them, and their life taken.
Martyrs Mirror, written in 1660, is a large 8x10 book of almost
1200 pages of small print, listing and documenting thousands of the names and dates of
martyrdom of, as the title page declares, "The Defenseless Christians Who Baptized
Only Upon Confession of Faith, and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus, Their
Saviour, From the Time of Christ to the Year A.D. 1660."
Of the persecutions of the first three hundred years after Christ's
death, Augustus Neander wrote:
The Christians were often victims of the popular rage. The populace saw
in them the enemies of their gods; and this was the same thing as to have no religion at
all. The deniers of the gods, the atheists, was the common name by which the Christians
were designated among the people; and of such men the vilest and most improbable stories
could easily gain belief: - that in their conclaves they were accustomed to abandon
themselves to unnatural lust; that they killed and devoured children; - accusations which
we find circulated, in the most diverse periods, against religious sects that have at once
become objects of the fanatic hatred of the populace. The reports of disaffected slaves,
or of those from whom torture had wrung the confession desired, were next employed to
support these absurd charges, and to justify the rage of the populace. If in hot climates
the long absence of rain brought on a drought; if in Egypt the Nile failed to irrigate the
fields; if in Rome the Tiber overflowed its banks; if a contagious disease was raging; if
an earthquake, a famine, or any other public calamity occured, the populace rage was
easily turned against the Christians. "We may ascribe this," was the cry,
"to the anger of the gods on account of the spread of Christianity." Thus it had
become a proverb in North Africa, according to Augustine, "If there is no rain, tax
it on the Christians."
(Volume 1, p.92 of 5 volume 9th edition History of the Christian
Religion and Church, published by Crocker & Brewster, Boston).
On page 79 of Martyrs Mirror, van Braght says:
The innocent Christians were accused not only of the burning of Rome,
but also of every wickedness imaginable; that they might be tortured and put to death in
the most awful manner. To this the Roman Tacitus (according to the translation of J.
Gysius, and not that of Fenacolius)* refers, saying: "Then, Nero, in order to avert
this report from himself, caused those called Christians by the common people, to be
accused and exceedingly tormented.
Later, on page 79, van Braght wrote:
Touching the manner in which the Christians were tortured and killed at
the time of Nero, A. Mellinus gives the following account from Tacitus and other Roman
writers: namely, that four extremely cruel and unnatural kinds of torture were employed
against the Christians:
Firstly, that they dressed them in the skins of tame and wild beasts,
that they might be torn to pieces by dogs or other wild animals.
Secondly, that they, according to the example of their Saviour, were
fastened alive on crosses, and that in many different ways.
Thirdly, that the innocent Christians were burned and smoked by the
Romans, with torches and lamps, under the shoulders and on other tender parts of their
naked bodies, after these had been cruelly lacerated with scourges or rods. This burning
was done also with shavings and fagots, they (the Christians) being tied to stakes worth
half a stiver. [about one cent] Therefore they called the Christians sarmenticii,
that is, fagot people, and semissii, that is, half stiver people; because they
stood fastened to half stiver stakes, and were thus burned with the slow fire of fagots.
Fourthly, that these miserable, accused Christian martyrs were used as
candles, torches, or lanterns, to see by them at night.
van Braght then describes how the candles were constructed of those
Christians, and set on fire, and used for light in the theatre for the circuses.
Those martyrs could easily have escaped their persecution by
compromising their religious beliefs, and participating in paganism. They chose, instead,
to follow "fully after the LORD."
Polycarp was given a choice, before he was set on fire and burned to
death during a pagan festival at Smyrna in A.D. 155. Encyclopedia Britannica (1957)
gives this account:
The proconsul Statius Quadratus was present on the occasion, and the
asiarch Philip of Tralles was presiding over the games. Eleven Christians had been
brought, mostly from Philadelphia, to be put to death. The appetite of the populace was
inflamed by the spectacle of their martyrdom. A cry was raised, "Away with the
atheists. Let search be made for Polycarp." Polycarp took refuge in a country farm.
His hiding-place, however, was betrayed and he was arrested and brought back into the
city. Attempts were made by the officials to induce him to recant, but without effect.
When he came into the theatre, the proconsul urged him to "revile Christ," and
promised, if he would consent to abjure his faith, that he would set him at liberty. To
this appeal Polycarp made the memorable answer, "Eighty and six years have I served
Him and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I speak evil of my King who saved me?"
Shame on those today who will compromise their faith and practice just
to be more popular, or in order to gain or retain some "influential" person or
family in their membership.
The persecution and martyrdom of Christians continued almost daily,
varying in intensity and location, and is documented by many historians. Encyclopedia
Britannica (1957) says:
Decius was the first Roman emperor to institute an organized
persecution of the Christians throughout the empire. Previous persecutions had been
sporadic and local in character.
Eusebius says, in his Ecclesiastical History:
Philip, after a reign of seven years, was succeeded by Decius, who, in
consequence of his hatred to Philip, raised a persecution against the church, in which
Fabianus suffered martyrdom, and was succeeded as bishop of Rome by Cornelius.
In A Manual of Church History (p.164) Alfred H. Newman wrote:
The fact that Christians had been especially favored by the predecessor
probably led Decius to suspect them of disloyalty to himself. It may be assumed from what
we know of this ruler that his exterminating measures against Christianity did not proceed
from sheer wantonness, but were from his point of view a political necessity.
Of this imperial edict which was issued in the year 250 to suppress
Christianity, Newman says:
In each official district all Christians were required within a
definite time to offer sacrifices to the gods. The flight of Christians before the
expiration of time allowed was not hindered, but the property of fugitives was confiscated
and death was the penalty of returning. Those who were not in a position to prove that
they had fulfilled the requirement were brought before a commission composed of officials
and citizens. First they were threatened with the direst punishments in case of obstinacy.
Threats were followed by torture. This failing, imprisonment and repeated tortures,
including hunger and thirst, were resorted to as means of breaking down the wills of the
victims. All the influence and machinery of the imperial government were employed to
prevent laxity on the part of the officials. The magistrates were enjoined to use special
severity toward bishops and other influencial leaders. Immunity from persecution had
brought into the churches multitudes of people who had no proper idea of the obligations
of the Christian life and many who cannot be regarded as possessing a saving knowledge of
the truth. Lamentable worldliness characterized many of the clergy, who were spending
their energies in secular pursuits rather than in the ministry of the word. The imperial
edict struck terror to the hearts of all whose faith was weak. "Before the
battle," writes Cyprian, "many were conquered, and without having met the enemy,
were cut down; they did not even seek to gain the reputation of having sacrificed against
their will. They indeed did not wait to be apprehended ere they ascended, or to be
interrogated ere they denied. Many were conquered before the battle, prostrated before the
attack. Nor did they even leave it to be said for them that they seemed to sacrifice to
idols unwillingly. They ran to the market place of their own accord." Many were so
impatient to deny their faith that they could hardly wait their turn. Cyprian himself
retired before the fury of the persecution and thereby greatly injured his reputation
among the stricter sort. Many who would neither flee nor sacrifice suffered the most
terrible tortures and died in prison or were at last cruelly executed. Some by bribing the
officials procured certificates of having sacrificed without committing the overt act.
Some allowed others to say that they had sacrificed or to procure certificates for them.
Holders of these fraudulent certificates were called libellatici and were regarded
as scarcely less culpable than the Lapsi or those who actually denied their faith.
Eusebius gives this account of a woman named Quinta, sometimes called
Cointha, who stood firm in her profession of faith:
Next they led a woman called Quinta, who was a believer, to the temple
of an idol, and attempted to force her to worship; but when she turned away in disgust,
they tied her by the feet, and dragged her through the whole city, over the rough stones
of the paved streets, dashing her against the millstones, and scourging her at the same
time, until they brought her to the same place, where they stoned her.
Another woman who was also martyred in Alexandria in the same year
(252) was Apollonia. Martyrs Mirror gives this account:
Apollonia was an aged virgin, whom the enemies of truth apprehended,
and with their fists and blows in the face, knocked every tooth out of her head. In the
mean time a large fire of wood was kindled, and they threatened to burn her alive, if she
would not worship the gods, and forsake Christ. But notwithstanding this miserable death,
she would rather go into the fire, and lose her temporal life, than save it by abandoning
Christ and losing her soul. Touching the manner of her death, and her great willingness to
die, A. Mellinus makes this statement: "This virgin was sentenced to be burned, or to
blaspheme the name of Christ; but as she abhorred the latter, she wished to show that she
was ready and willing to die for Christ."
Eusebius says, of Apollonia, that:
She appeared at first to shrink a little, but when suffered to go, she
suddenly sprang into the fire and was consumed.
Another period of intense persecution came during the rule of
Diocletian. On pages 172-173, of Martyrs Mirror, T.J. van Braght wrote the
following in 1660, ". . . ACCORDING TO THE ACCOUNT OF P.J. TWISCK, FROM VARIOUS
ANCIENT AND CELEBRATED AUTHORS":
These two Emperors (namely, Diocletian and Maximian) jointly governed
the empire, in harmony and constancy, and remained undivided. However, when they had
reigned about ten years, they took counsel together, and resolved to exterminate the
Christians, because the discord of religion caused great dissensions, both in the
households and in the Roman Empire.
Then, from his quotation of P.J. Twisck:
". . . in the nineteenth year of his reign, which coincides with
A.D. 302, issued a public decree (as was done in the days of Antiochus), that everyone, in
every place, should sacrifice to the gods of the Emperors; and that he who should refuse
to do so, should be punished with death; also, that the churches or meeting places, and
the books of the Christians should be utterly destroyed. Yea, there was scarcely a large
city in the empire, in which not daily a hundred Christians, or thereabouts, were slain.
It is also recorded that in one month seventeen thousand Christians were put to death in
different parts of the empire, so that the blood which was shed colored red many rivers.
Some were hanged, others beheaded, some burned, and some sunk by whole shiploads in the
depths of the sea."
As touching the fearful tortures inflicted, he then writes thus:
"These tyrants had some of them dragged through the streets, tied to the tails of
horses, and after they were mangled and bruised, they had them put back into prison, and
placed upon beds of potsherds, so that rest might be more excruciating for them than
actual torment. Sometimes they bent down with great force the branches of trees, and tied
one leg to one branch, and the other to another, and then let the branches spring back
into their natural position, so that their limbs were shockingly rent in pieces. They cut
off the ears, noses, lips, hands, and the toes of many, leaving them only the eyes, to
inflict still more pain upon them. They sharpened wooden pegs, which they inserted between
the flesh and the nails; and had lead or tin melted, and poured as hot as possible over
their bare backs."
Many who professed Christianity in that period did compromise with
paganism during the times of most severe persecution, and then when times were better,
sought to return to Christian worship in the fellowship of the Lord's congregations. When
they were accepted back, they often brought some of the pagan ways with them. Some refused
to admit those who had departed the faith back into the fellowship of the Lord's
congregation. That, in fact, is the main thing that led to what is known as the Novation
In Ecclesiastical Researches (1792) Robert Robinson says
The case in brief, was this: Novation was an elder in the church at
Rome. He was a man of extensive learning, and held the same doctrine as the church did,
and published several treatises in defense of what he believed. His address was eloquent
and insinuating, and his morals were irreproachable. He saw, with extreme pain, the
intolerable depravity of the church. Christians, within the space of a very few years,
were caressed by one emperor, and persecuted by another. In seasons of prosperity, many
rushed into the church for base purposes. In times of adversity they denied the faith and
ran back to idolatry again. When the sqall was over, away they came again to the church,
with all their vices, to deprave others by their example. The bishops, fond of proselytes,
encouraged all this, and transferred the attention of Christians from the old confederacy
for virtue, to vain shows at Easter, and a thousand other Jewish ceremonies, adulterated,
too, with paganism. On the death of Bishop Fabian, Cornelius, a brother elder, and a
vehement partisan for taking in the multitude, was put in nomination. Novation opposed
him; but as Cornelius carried his election, and he saw no prospect of reformation, but on
the contrary, a tide of immorality pouring into the church, he withdrew, and a great many
with him. Cornelius, irritated by Cyprian, who was just in the same condition, through the
remonstrances of virtuous men at Carthage, and who was exasperated beyond measure with one
of his elders named Novatus who had quitted Carthage and had gone to Rome to espouse the
cause of Novation, called a council, and got a sentence of excommunication passed against
Novation. In the end, Novation formed a church and was elected bishop. Great numbers
followed his example and all over the empire Puritan churches were constituted, and
flourished through the succeeding two hundred years. Afterward, 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.
Notice the statements that "Great numbers followed his example and
all over the empire Puritan churches were constituted, and flourished through the
succeeding two hundred years," and that a succession of them continued till the
On page 163 of volume 1 of his 5 volume A Compendium of
Ecclesiastical History, John Gieseler states:
Though the other bishops, and especially Cyprian at Carthage, and
Dionysius at Alexandria, were on the side of Cornelius, great numbers in all parts joined
the stricter party.
Under "Carthage," Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) says
that in A.D. 311 the Donatist "heresy," was supported by 270 African bishops.
These congregations that refused to apostatize and had withdrawn from
the disorderly, as well as those that remained intact and sided with them, became known as
Novations, Cathari, Puritans (not to be confused with those of more recent times), and
Paterins. At about the same time, in other places there were congregations that had taken
the same, or similar stands, and became known as Cataphrygians, Quintillianists,
Pepuzians, Montanists, and Donatists.
Do not assume that every congregation that was called by one of these
names was, or remained, true bodies of Christ. I believe that there has hardly been a time
since Jesus built His first congregation, that there has not been a counterfeit or
apostate congregation using the same names as the true ones. The Devil is a copy-cat.
About the year 200, baptismal regeneration began to be taught by some,
and in 370, or earlier, infant baptism began to be practiced. Along with these false
doctrines, the hierarchical ambitions of some, which we considered in a previous chapter,
had been developing. As should be expected, those false doctrines and practices had little
trouble finding acceptance among the apostate congregations. The political ambitions of a
hierarchical system necessitated a "universal church" concept, and thus the term
"catholic" (with a small "c") began to be used.
Writing of the Novations, on page 55 of A Concise History of
Baptists, G. H. Orchard says:
On account of the church's severity of discipline, the example was
followed by many, and churches of this order flourished in the greatest part of those
provinces which had received the gospel. Many advenient rites had been appointed, and
interwoven with baptism, with a threefold administration of the ordinance, in the old
interests, which obscured the original simplicity and design of the institutor. To remove
all human appendages, the Novationists 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 plan 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. Novation's example had a
powerful influence, and puritan churches rose in different parts, in quick succession. So
early as 254, these Dissenters are complained of, as having infected France with their
doctrines, which will aid us in the Albigensian churches, where the same severity
of discipline is traced, and reprobated.
Constantine came to the throne in 306, and in 312, after allegedly
seeing Christ in a dream and being victorious in a battle, inquired and was instructed by
some of the leaders of the apostate "Christianity." Constantine then embraced
and became affiliated with their so called "Christianity." In 313, the
"Edict of Milan" was issued by Constantine and Licinius, granting religious
liberty to all. That edict stated, in part:
. . . we have granted liberty and full freedom to the Christians, to
observe their own mode of worship; which as your fidelity understands absolutely granted
to them by us, the privilege is also granted to others to pursue that worship and religion
they wish. Which it is obvious is consistent with the peace and tranquility of our times;
that each may have the privilege to select and to worship whatsoever divinity he pleases.
But this has been done by us, that we might not appear in any manner to detract any thing
from any manner of religion, or any mode of worship. And this, we further decree, with
respect to the Christians, that the places in which they were formerly accustomed to
assemble, concerning which also we formerly wrote to your fidelity, in a different form,
that if any persons have purchased these, either from our treasury, or from any other one,
these shall restore them to the Christians, without money and without demanding any price,
without any superadded value, or augmentation, without delay or hesitancy. . . .
(Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, book X chapter V)
The change in situation brought temporary relief to the true Christian
congregations as well as the apostate ones. Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) says of
His claim to greatness rests mainly on the fact that he divined the
future which lay before Christianity, and determined to enlist it in the service of his
empire . . .
The leaders in the apostate congregations, having already been in
pursuit of hierarchical ambitions, were eager to "enlist" in the service of
World Book Encyclopedia (1985) says:
Constantine made many gifts to the Christian church, including huge
estates which he gave to the church in Rome. He built the first great Christian cathedral,
the Lateran Basilica in Rome. He built other famous churches in and near Rome; and in
Antioch, Syria (now Antioch, Turkey); Constantinople; and Jerusalem.
On page 31 of The History of Romanism, John Dowling wrote:
Soon after Constantine professed conversion to Christianity, he
undertook to remodel the government of the church, so as to make it conform as much as
possible to the government of the state. Hence the origin of the dignities of patriarchs,
exarchs, archbishops, canons, prebendaries, etc., intended by the Emperor to correspond
with the different secular offices and dignities, connected with the civil administration
of the empire. Taking these newly constituted dignitaries of the church into his own
special favor, he loaded them with the wealth and worldly honors, and richly endowed the
churches over which they presided, thus fostering in those who professed to be the
followers and ministers of Him who was "meek and lowly of heart" a spirit of
worldly ambition, pride,and avarice.
Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History lists a "Copy of an
Epistle in which the Emperor grants money to the churches," in book X, chapter VI,
which states, in part:
CONSTANTINE AUGUSTUS to Cecilianus bishop of
Carthage. As we have determined, that in all the provinces of Africa, Numidia, and
Mauritania, something should be granted to certain ministers of the legitimate and most
holy catholic (universal) religion, to defray their expenses, I have given letters to
Ursus, the most illustrious lieutenant- governor of Africa, and have communicated to him,
that he shall provide, to pay to your authority, three thousand folles.* [If the follis be
estimated at 208 denarii, according to the usual computation, this sum would amount to
about 10,000 dollars.]
The apostate congregations were now developed into a "universal
church" and married to the state. The true Christians, the Lord's congregations,
previously considered as "the atheists" under paganism, were now known as
"heretics." Constantine's main concern being the strength and greatness of his
empire, and his recognition of religion as being a valuable tool in accomplishing his
goals, religious unity became a high priority to him. The leaders of the apostate
congregations which had become the "state church," still angered at the true
congregations of Christ for their stand for truth, and no doubt desirous of bringing their
numbers under their own power and control, were easily employed in an effort to subdue
those true congregations which they called heretics. Those true congregations were
considered trouble-makers and disruptive to unity because they would not conform and
compromise. They were hated because they went "fully after the LORD." That has
always been the case, and will be until the end of the age. I have found that the
uncompromising, true worshipers of God, are almost always considered as divisive. In Acts
17:6, Paul and Silas were accused of turning the world upside down. In Matthew 10:35-39,
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the
daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a
man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than
me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of
me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that
findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
In Luke 14:25-27:
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto
them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,
and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And
whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
In Matthew 10: 16-18 and 22, Jesus said:
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye
therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will
deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye
shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that
endureth to the end shall be saved.
John, in I John 3:12-13, speaking of Cain killing Abel, said:
. . . And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and
his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
Here are two of Constantine's letters, recorded in Eusebius's Ecclesiastical
History, that show the early development of authority given to the "State
church" by Constantine. In book X, chapter V, is the following "Copy of the
Emperor's Epistle, in which he ordains a council of bishops to be held at Rome, for the
unity and peace of the church":
CONSTANTINE AUGUSTUS, to Miltiades bishop of Rome, and to Marcus. As
many communications of this kind have been sent to me from Anulinus, the most illustrious
proconsul of Africa, in which it is contained that Caecilianus, the bishop of Carthage,
was accused, in many respects, by his colleagues in Africa; and as this appears to be
grievous, that in those provinces which divine Providence has freely entrusted to my
fidelity, and in which there is a vast population, the multitude are found inclining to
deteriorate, and in a manner divided into two parties, and among others that the bishops
were at variance; I have resolved that the same Caecilianus, together with ten bishops,
who appear to accuse him, and ten others, whom he himself may consider necessary for his
cause, shall sail to Rome. That you, being present there, as also Reticius, Maternus, and
Marinus, your colleagues, whom I have commanded to hasten to Rome for this purpose, may be
heard, as you may understand most consistent with the most sacred law. And, indeed, that
you may have the most perfect knowledge of these matters, I have subjoined to my epistle
copies of the writings sent to me by Anulinus, and sent them to your aforesaid colleagues.
In which your gravity will read and consider in what way the aforesaid cause may be most
accurately investigated and justly decided. Since it neither escapes your diligence, that
I show such regard for the holy catholic church, that I wish you, upon the whole, to leave
no room for schism or division. May the power of the great God preserve you many years,
And then, a "Copy of the Epistle in which the Emperor commanded
another council to be held, for the purpose of removing all the dissension of the
CONSTANTINE AUGUSTUS to Chrestus bishop of Syracuse. As there were some
already before who perversely and wickedly began to waver in the holy religion and
celestial virtue, and to abandon the doctrine of the catholic (universal) church,
desirous, therefore, of preventing such disputes among them, I had thus written, that this
subject, which appeared to be agitated among them, might be rectified, by delegating
certain bishops from Gaul, and summoning others of the opposite parties from Africa, who
are pertinaciously and incessantly contending with one another, that by a careful
examination of the matter in their presence, it might thus be decided. But since, as it
happens, some, forgetful of their own salvation, and the reverence due to our most holy
religion, even now do not cease to protract their own enmity, being unwilling to conform
to the decision already promulgated, and asserting that they were very few that advanced
their sentiments and opinions, or else that all points which ought to have been first
fully discussed not being first examined, they proceeded with too much haste and
precipitancy to give publicity to the decision. Hence it has happened, that those very
persons who ought to exhibit a brotherly and peaceful unanimity, rather disgracefully and
detestably are at variance with one another, and thus give this occasion of derision to
those that are without, and whose minds are averse to our most holy religion. Hence it has
appeared necessary to me to provide that this matter, which ought to have ceased after the
decision was issued by their own voluntary agreement, now, at length, should be fully
terminated by the intervention of many.
Since, therefore, we have commanded many bishops to meet together from
different and remote places, in the city of Arles, towards the calends of August, I have
also thought proper to write to thee, that taking a public vehicle from the most
illustrious Latronianus, corrector of Sicily, and taking with thee two others of the
second rank, which thou mayest select, also three servants to afford you services on the
way; I would have you meet them within the same day at the aforesaid place. That by the
weight of your authority, and the prudence and unanimity of the rest that assemble, this
dispute, which has disgracefully continued until the present time, in consequence of
certain disgraceful contentions, may be discussed, by hearing all that shall be alleged by
those who are now at variance, whom we have also commanded to be present, and thus the
controversy be reduced, though slowly, to that faith, and observance of religion, and
fraternal concord, which ought to prevail. May Almighty God preserve thee in safety many
The oppression continued to escalate, and soon, those who refused to
compromise truth and refused to unite with the State church or recognize their baptisms
and authority, were again being severely persecuted, this time by the catholic church with
Constantine's oppressive measures prompted many to leave the scene of
sufferings, and retire into more sequestered spots. Claudius Seyssel, the popish
archbishop, TRACES the rise of the Waldensian heresy to a pastor named Leo, leaving Rome
at this period, for the Valleys. (A Concise History of the Baptists,
G.H. Orchard, p.58)
In History of the Donatists, David Benidict quotes from
Augustine's record of a local council held in Carthage in 404, in which it was stated:
It is now full time for the emperor to provide for the safety of the
Catholic church, and prevent those rash men from terrifying the weak people, whom they
In 413, an edict was issued by emperors, 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. . . . . . . . . . These combined modes of
oppression led the faithful to abandon the cities, and seek retreats in the valleys of
Piedmont, the inhabitants of which began to be called Waldenses.
(A Concise History of Baptists, G.H. Orchard, p.60-61)
Augustine wrote much against the Donatists, and pope Gregory the Great
wrote against them as late as 604. Orchard says of the Novationists, "That they
subsisted towards the end of the sixth century, is evident from the book of Eulogius,
Bishop of Alexander" (p.63).
We can be certain that there were true congregations of the Lord
dwelling in the valleys of Piedmont from the time of Constantine, having gone there to
flee persecution. I believe that there were true congregations already established there.
On page 28 of The Waldenses: Sketches of the Evangelical Christians
of the Valleys of Piedmont, A.W. Mitchell wrote:
Their own account of the matter uniformly has been, that their religion
has descended with them from father to son by uninterrupted succession from the time of
the apostles. There certainly is no improbability in the conjecture that the gospel was
preached by some of those early missionaries who carried Christianity into Gaul. The
common passage from Rome to Gaul at that time lay directly through the Cottian Alps, and
Gaul we know received the gospel early in the second century at the latest, probably
before the close of the first century. If the apostle Paul ever made that journey into
Spain (Rom. 15:28) which he speaks of in his epistle to the Romans, and in which he
proposed to go by way of Rome, his natural route would have been in the same direction,
and it is not impossible that his voice was actually heard among those retired valleys.
The most common opinion among Protestant writers is, that the conversion of the Waldenses
was begun by some of the very early Christian missionaries, perhaps by some of the
Apostles themselves, on their way to Gaul, and that it was completed and the churches more
fully organized by a large influx of Christians from Rome, after the first general
persecution under Nero. The Christians of Rome, scattered by this terrible event, would
naturally flee from the plain country to the mountains, carrying with them the gospel and
The mountains and valleys of the Alps and the Piedmont area were a
natural refuge for the persecuted Christians from surrrounding territories in every age.
In the words of Samuel Morland:
These Valleys, especially that of Angrogna, Pramol, and S. Martino, are
by nature strongly fortified, by reason of their many difficult Passages, and Bulwarks of
Rocks and Mountains, as if the All-wise Creator had from the beginning designed that place
as a Cabinet, wherein to put some inestimable Jewel, or (to speak more plainly) there to
reserve many thousands of souls, which should not bow the knee before Baal.
[The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont,
book 1, ch.1, p.3]
These persecuted Christians, given various nick-names in derision at
various places and times, fled to the Valleys of Piedmont, and in time became generally
known as Waldenses. Ever trying to rob Jesus' true congregations of their heritage and
discredit them, the Romish persecutors invented the allegation that the Waldensian
Christians originated with Peter Waldo, and got their name from him. The History of the
Ancient Christians by Jean Paul Perrin, written in 1618, and The History of the
Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of the Piemont by Samuel Morland, written in 1658,
contain various documents, writings, and confessions of faith, dating back to 1120, which
describes their faith and practice, as well as their well established existence, fifty
years before Peter Waldo (almost four hundred years before the time of Luther or Calvin).
Samuel Morland's book records "a certain Epistle of the Waldenses, inscribed":
An Epistle to the most serene King Lancelau, the Dukes, Barons, and
most ancient Nobility of the Realm. The little troop of Christians falsely called by
the name of poor people of Lions, or Waldenses. By which it is most evident, that they had
not their original from the said Waldo, but that this was a meer nick-name or reproachfull
term put upon them by their Adversaries, to make the world believe, that their Religion
was but a Novelty, or a thing of yesterday. . . . . . . . . [book 1, ch.3, p.12]
Of the etymology of the name, Waldenses, most historians agree with
Robert Robinson, who says, in his Ecclesiastical Researches, written in 1792:
Reinerius Sacco was one of the first employed in
the Inquisition by Rome, for the purpose of detecting and punishing the
"heretics." Reinerius testified often against the Waldenses and, in 1254, wrote
a book of accusation against them. Samuel Morland (p.28) quotes this from Reinerius:
From the Latin word vallis, came the English word valley,
the French and Spanish valle, the Italian valdesi, the Low Dutch valleye,
the Provencal vaux, vaudois, the ecclesiastical Valdenses, Ualdenses,
and Waldenses. The words simply signify vallies, inhabitants of vallies, and
no more. [p.302]
Amongst all the sects which are or ever were, there is none more
pernicious to the Church of God, than that of the poor people of Lyons, for three Reasons,
First because it is of a longer duration. Some say that it has remained from the time of
Silvester, others, from the time of the Apostles.
In History of the Ancient Christians, Jean Paul Perrin, in
"History of the Waldenses, book II, ch.I, quotes Reinnerius' second reason given:
Because that sect is universal, for there is scarce any country where
it hath not taken footing.
In chapter XVI of the same book, Perrin says:
In the year 1229, the Waldenses had already spread themselves in great
numbers throughout all Italy. They had ten schools in Valcamonica alone, and sent money
from all parts of their abode into Lombardy, for the maintenance and support of the said
schools. Rainerius saith, that about the year of our Lord 1250, the Waldenses had churches
in Albania, Lombardy, Milan, and in Romagna, likewise at Vincence, Florence, and Val
Spoletine. In the year 1280, there were a considerable number of Waldenses in Sicily, as
Haillan observes in his History.
In the next chapter, XVII, Perrin says:
The monk Rainerius, in his book of the form or method of proceeding
against the heretics, in that catalogue that he made of the Waldenses, or poor of Lyons,
observes, that in his time, in the year 1250, there were churches in Constantinople, in
Philadelphia, Sclavonia, Bulgaria, and Diagonicia.
From these statements, we can see that the inquisitor, Rainerius Sacco,
expressed no doubt about the continuance of these "heretics" from the time of
the apostles. It is also evident from this, the testimony of their bloody persecutor, that
there was, in his words, "scarce any country where it hath not taken footing."
That is definitely not a situation that would develop overnight, but had come about as
results of earlier scattering by persecutions and the fact that they had been obedient in
the mission to:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you.
The inquisitor, Rainerius Sacco, also wrote extensively of the
"heresies" that these faithful congregations were guilty of. I will quote a few
of those accusations here which tell us some important facts about their doctrines in the
words of the enemy. In volume II, pages 21-27 of The History of the Christian Church,
William Jones gives the English translation of those charges which can be seen in the
original Latin, in the Ecclesiastical History of Ancient Churches of Piedmont and the
Albigenses (original page numbers 188-191) by Peter Allix, written in 1690. Rainerius
Their first error is a contempt of ecclesiastical power, and from
thence they have been delivered up to Satan, and by him cast headlong into innumerable
errors, mixing the erroneous doctrines of the heretics of old with their own inventions.
And being cast out of the Catholic church, they affirm that they alone are the church of
Christ and his disciples. They declare themselves to be the apostles' successors, to have
apostolical authority, and the keys of binding and loosing. They hold the church of Rome
to be the whore of Babylon, (Rev. ch. xvii.) and that all that obey her are damned,
especially the clergy that have been subject to her since the time of pope Sylvester. They
deny that any true miracles are wrought in the church, because none of themselves ever
worked any. They hold that none of the ordinances of the church, which have been
introduced since Christ's ascension, ought to be observed, as being of no value. The
feasts, fasts, orders, blessings, offices of the church, and the like, they utterly
reject. They speak against consecrating churches, church-yards, and other things of the
like nature, declaring that it was the invention of covetous priests, to augment their own
gains, in spunging the people by those means of their money and oblations. They say, that
a man is first baptized when he is received into their community. Some of them hold that
baptism is of no advantage to infants, because they cannot actually believe. They reject
the sacrament of confirmation, but instead of that, their teachers lay their hands upon
their disciples. They say, the bishops, clergy, and other religious orders are no better
than the Scribes and Pharisees, and other persecutors of the apostles. They do not believe
the body and blood of Christ to be the true sacrament, but only blessed bread, which by a
figure only is called the body of Christ, even as it is said, "and the rock was
Christ," &c. Some of them hold that this sacrament can only be celebrated by
those that are good, others again by any that know the words of consecration. This
sacrament they celebrate in their assemblies, repeating the words of the gospel at their
table, and participating together, in imitation of Christ's supper. . . . . . . .
According to them there is no purgatory, and all that die, immediately pass either into
heaven or hell. That therefore the prayers of the church for the dead are of no use,
because those that are in heaven do not want them, nor can those that are in hell be
relieved by them. And from thence they infer, that all offerings made for the dead are
only of use to the clergymen that eat them, and not to the deceased, who are incapable of
being profited by them. They hold, that the saints in heaven do not hear the prayers of
the faithful, nor regard the honours which are done to them, because their bodies lie dead
here beneath, and their spirits are at so great a distance from us in heaven, that they
can neither hear our prayers nor see the honours which we pay them. They add, that the
saints do not pray for us, and that therefore, we are not to entreat their intercession,
because, being swallowed up with heavenly joy, they cannot attend to us, nor indeed to any
thing else. Hence they deride all the festivals which we celebrate in honour of the
saints, and all other instances of our veneration for them. Accordingly, wherever they can
do it, they secretly work upon holy days, arguing, that since working is good, it cannot
be evil to do that which is good on a holy day. . . . . . . . .
Looking in the Encyclopedia Britannica (1957), under
"COUNCIL," it is found that the subject of the third Lateran council, called in
1179, was "Albigensians; Waldensians." Under the article, "LATERAN
COUNCILS," the same encyclopedia says, of the fourth Lateran council, that:
The seventy decrees of the council begin with a confession of faith
directed against the Cathari and Waldenses, which is significant if only for the mention
of a transubstantion of the elements in Lord's Supper. A series of resolutions provided in
detail for the organized suppression of heresy and for the institution of the episcopal
inquisition (Canon 3). On every Christian, of either sex, arrived at years of discretion,
the duty was imposed of confessing at least once annually and of receiving the Eucharist
at least at Easter (Canon 21). . . . . . .
Under the heading, "ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH," Encyclopedia
Britannica has this:
At the fourth Lateran council (1215) Innocent III (1198-1216) published
a definition of the faith which, after affirming the doctrine of the Trinity, the
Incarnation and the Judgement, says:
"There is moreover one universal Church of the faithful, outside
which no man at all is saved, in which the same Jesus Christ is both the priest and the
sacrifice, whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under
the peices of bread and wine, the bread being transubstantiated into the body and the wine
into the blood by the divine power, in order that, to accomplish the mystery of unity, we
ourselves may receive of His that which He received of ours. And this thing, the sacrament
to wit, no one can make (conficere) but a priest, who has been duly ordained,
according to the keys of the Church, which Jesus Christ Himself granted to the apostles
and their successors.
But the sacrament of baptism, which is consecrated in water at the
invocation of God and the undivided Trinity, that is of the Father, and of the Son and
Holy Spirit, being duly conferred in the form of the Church by any person, whether upon
children or adults, is profitable to salvation. And if anyone, after receiving baptism,
has fallen into sin, he can always be restored (reparari) by true penitence.
Not only virgins and the continent, but also married persons, deserve,
by right faith and good works pleasing to God, to come to eternal blessedness" (cited
by Alexander Hamilton Thompson, Cambridge Medieval History, vol. vi, p.635).
The last article of the definition quoted above refers to the Catharist
or Albigensian heresy, which in the 12th and 13th centuries threatened large areas of
Hungary, Germany, Italy and France. It rejected infant baptism, purgatory, the communion
of saints, the use of images and the doctrine of the Trinity. Above all, the Cathars
attacked the institution of marriage, which was the basis of all social custom and law,
sacred and secular, in the west. Catharism was anarchy and heresy at once. It implied the
complete subversion of the social structure and the complete denial of the Christian
faith. . . . . . . .
Most of those charges of Catharist/ Albigensian/ Waldensian
"heresy," when using the Bible as the final authority for all faith and
practice, sound very complimentary to me. It is to be noted that the statement by Encyclopedia
Britannica, that they rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, does not agree with the
preponderance of evidence. Not only was there agreement in matters of faith and practice
between the Cathars, Albigenses, and Waldenses, but the Roman Catholic persecutors, as
well as the encyclopedia at issue, as we have seen, considered the heresy of each as
synonymous. In book I, chapter VI, of The History of the Evangelical Churches of the
Valleys of Piemont, Samuel Morland exhibits a discourse which he labels, "The
noble Lesson written in the Language of the ancient Inhabitants of the Valleys, in the
Year 1100. Extracted out of a most authentick Manuscript, the true Original whereof is to
be seen in the publick Library of the famous University of Cambridg." "The noble
Lesson" is there given in the original, and in the Old English (which the entire book
is written in). I will quote a few lines with modern spelling. "The noble
Lesson" says, "There are already a thousand and one hundred years fully
acomplished, Since it was written thus, For we are in the last time." That statement
dates "The noble Lesson" at about a hundred years previous to the fourth Lateran
council. On the next page, after mentioning "God the Father," "his glorious
Son," and "the Holy Ghost," it says, "These three (the holy Trinity)
as being but one God, ought to be called upon." The third reason given by Rainerius
as to why "there is none more pernicious" to the Roman Catholic Church was:
Because all others beget in people a dread and horror of them by their
blasphemies against God. But this on the contrary hath a great appearance of godliness,
because they live righteously before men, and believe rightly of God in all things, and
hold all the articles contained in the Creed, hating and reviling the church of Rome; and
in this they are easily believed of the people. (Perrin, book II, ch.I)
Had the "heretics" rejected the Trinity, Rainerius would not
have said that they, "believe rightly of God in all things." The Creed that
Rainerius claimed, in 1254, that they "hold all the articles contained in,"
1. I believe in one God, the Father, the almighty Creator of heaven and
2. And in Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son, our Lord.
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin Mary.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(Martyrs Mirror p.27)
Note, also, that the encyclopedia article, quoted earlier, stated that
"the Cathars attacked the institution of marriage." The true Christians were
often charged with that accusation. The truth is, they did not attack the institution of
marriage; in fact, they believed strongly in the institution of marriage. The Roman
Catholics insisted that only their own clergy had the authority to perform a valid wedding
ceremony. They held that the "heretic" pastors had no legal authority to marry
anyone, and as a result, those married by them were adulterers. The members of the Lord's
congregations, of course, refused to submit to the Catholics, and thus were charged with
attacking or rejecting the institution of marriage. Representative of their position at
that time, is the following statement, in book I, chapter V of The History of the
Evangelical Churches of the Piemont. In what is labeled, "The ancient Discipline
of the Evangelical Churches in the Valleys of PIEMONT. Extracted out of divers Authentick
Manuscripts, written in their own Language several hundreds of Years before either Calvin
or Luther," ARTICLE VIII states:
Many of those true congregations of Christ's
continued to earnestly contend for the faith through good times and bad. Besides the names
already mentioned, some were called Arnoldists, Henricians, Paulicians, and other names.
All came to be commonly called Ana-Baptists (rebaptizers). During times of most severe
persecution, they were forced to take refuge in the mountains, living in caves and among
rocks, and meeting in secret. In times of less severe persecution, missionaries were sent
throughout the world. Wherever they went, they were hated and persecuted.
Marriage ought to be performed according to the rules prescribed by
God, and not within those degrees which he hath forbidden. And there need no scruple of
conscience be made concerning what the Pope hath forbidden, although we give him no money
for a dispensation; for that which God hath not forbidden may very well be done without
The bond of holy marriage ought not to be made without the consent of
friends on both sides, for as much as children ought to be wholly at the disposal of their
William Jones' The History of the Christian Church (volume I,
p.486-488) tells this story:
Towards the middle of the twelfth century, a small society of these Puritans,
as they were called by some, or Waldenses, as they are termed by others, or Paulicians,
as they are denominated by our old monkish historian, William of Neuburg, made their
appearance in England. This latter writer speaking of them, says, "they came
originally from Gascoyne, where, being as numerous as the sand of the sea, they
sorely infested both France, Italy, Spain, and England." The following is the account
given by Dr. Henry, in his History of Great Britain, vol. viii.p.338. Oct. ed. of this
emigrating party, which, in substance, correspondence with what is said of them by Rapin,
Collier, Lyttleton, and other of our writers.
"A company, consisting of about thirty men and women, who spoke
the German language, appeared in England at this time (1159), and soon attracted the
attention of government by the singularity of their religious practices and opinions. It
is indeed very dificult to discover with certainty what their opinions were, because they
are recorded only by our monkish historians, who speak of them with much asperity. They
were apprehended and brought before a council of the clergy at Oxford. Being interrogated
about their religion, their teacher, named Gerard, a man of learning, answered in their
name, that they were Christians, and believed the doctrines of the apostles. Upon a more
particular inquiry, it was found that they denied several of the received doctrines of the
church, such as purgatory, prayers for the dead, and the invocation of saints; and
refusing to abandon these damnable heresies, as they were called, they were condemned as
incorrigible heretics, and delivered to the secular arm to be punished. The king, (Henry
II.) at the instigation of the clergy, commanded them to be branded with a red hot iron on
the forehead, to be whipped through the streets of Oxford, and, having their clothes cut
short by their girdles, to be turned into the open fields, all persons being forbidden to
afford them any shelter or relief under the severest penalties. This cruel sentence was
executed in its utmost rigour; and being the depth of winter, all these unhappy persons
perished with cold and hunger. These seem to have been the first who suffered death in
Britain, for the vague and variable crime of heresy, and it would have been much to the
honour of the country if they had been the last."
It appears that there remained many of the true congregations of the
Lord in the Piedmont valleys and surrounding mountains up to the sixteenth century. Let me
not be mistaken to imply that all congregations up till that time, or at any time, going
by the names previously mentioned, were the Lord's true congregations. Many were, but many
were not. Rainerius Sacco, the thirteenth century inquisitor, quoted earlier, wrote that
some of those "heretics":
. . . frequent our churches, are present at divine service, offer at
the altar, receive the sacrament, confess to the preists, observe the church fasts,
celebrate festivals, and receive the priest's blessing, bowing their heads, though in the
meantime they scoff at all these institutions of the church, looking upon them as profane
and hurtful. They say it is sufficient for their salvation if they confess to God, and not
(The History of the Christian Church by William Jones, vol.II,
Those were not true disciples. They disliked and disapproved of Papal
authority, but were willing to compromise their faith and practice for social acceptance.
Such practice led to the existence of many irregular congregations among the Waldenses of
the Piedmont valleys. Those irregular congregations had little problem unionizing with the
protestants of the Reformation, and were soon practicing infant baptism. In the year 1655
came a very intense and severely bloody perscution to the Piedmont valley area. Many
cases, giving specific names, dates, locations, witnesses, and gory details of martyrdom,
are catalogued in The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont,
by Samuel Morland. Probably most, if not all, the congregations remaining true to the Lord
in that area were exterminated or driven out at that time.
Not only was the truth preserved among many of Jesus' true
congregations in the Piedmont area and taken by them into surrounding countries, but it is
often found that the Lord already had true congregations established in those places. That
should not be surprising when we consider the territory covered by the apostles, as
recorded in the New Testament. Not only that, but most of the other members of those first
congregations were preaching the gospel everywhere they went. Throughout most of the
centuries, Jesus' congregations have usually been small, scattered, and through the
world's eyes, pretty insignificant. Much of the time they have had only very modest, or
no, meeting houses; and when they did, they have many times been dispossessed of their
buildings through persecution. Sometimes that dispossession has come by violent
persecution, and sometimes, as in more recent times, by simply being "rooted
out" by an apostate or unregenerate element of the membership. The world would have
us think, "You can't have a church without a building," but I have concluded
from history and from personal observation, that the Lord's congregations are often their
most effective when they do not have a building. I do not mean that they should not have a
building, or that it should not be a nice one, but it should definitely not be a top
priority, or be considered a requirement. The New Testament certainly lists no such
Let us now back up to the first century and study briefly the existence
of believers in another locality that has been used by Christ to plant His congregations
throughout the world. On page 6 of History of the Welsh Baptists, published in
1835, J. Davis wrote:
That the apostle Paul also preached the gospel to the ancient Britons,
is very probable from the testimony of Theodoret and Jerome; but that he was the first
that introduced the gospel to this island cannot be admitted; for he was a prisoner in
Rome at the time the good news of salvation through the blood of Christ reached this
region. That the apostle Paul had great encouragement to visit this country afterwards,
will not be denied.
Continuing, on pages six and seven, Davis says:
About fifty years before the birth of our Saviour, the Romans invaded
the British Isle, in the reign of the Welsh King, Cassibellan, but having failed in
consequence of other and more important wars, to conquer the Welsh nation, made peace with
them, and dwelt among them many years. During that period many of the Welsh soldiers
joined the Roman army, and many families from Wales visited Rome, among whom there was a
certain woman of the name of Claudia, who was married to a man named Pudence. At the same
time, Paul was sent a prisoner to Rome, and preached there in his own hired house, for the
space of two years, about the year of our Lord 63.
Acts 28:30-31 says:
And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all
that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which
concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.
Back to Davis, on page seven:
Pudence and Claudia, his wife, who belonged to Ceasar's household,
under the blessing of God on Paul's preaching, were brought to the knowledge of the truth
as it is in Jesus, and made a profession of the Christian religion. These together with
other Welshmen, among the Roman soldiers, who had tasted that the Lord was gracious,
exerted themselves on the behalf of their countrymen in Wales, who were at that time vile
Paul mentioned Claudia and Pudens in the closing of a letter, written
while he was imprisoned at Rome, to Timothy, in II Timothy 4:21, which says:
Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and
Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.
Of this verse, Matthew Henry says, in his Commentary:
One of the heathen writers at this time mentions one Pudens and his
wife Claudia, and says the Claudia was a Briton, whence some have gathered that it was
this Pudens, and that Claudia here was his wife, and that they were eminent Christians at
In his introduction to the "Memoirs" in Sermons and
Memoirs of Christmas Evans, Joseph Cross, gives the same account as Davis.
In the second preface to his The History of the English Baptists,
published in 1738, Thomas Crosby said:
Now amongst the converts of the natives of this island, in the first
age to Christianity, Claudia surnamed Ruffina, is refuted a principle; she was the wife to
Pudence, a Roman senator; and that this is the Claudia, a Briton born, mentioned by St.
Paul, then living at Rome.
In the account in the previously mentioned memoirs of Evans, Joseph
About a century after this, Faganus and Daminicanus went to Rome, were
converted there, and became "able ministers of the New Testament." In the year
of our Lord 180, they were sent back to Wales, to preach to their own countrymen. They
were zealous and successful laborers. They opposed the pagan superstitions of the Welsh
with wonderful energy. They pursued Druidism to its dark retirements, and poured upon it
the withering blaze of the gospel. Through their preaching, Lucius, king of Wales, was
brought to embrace Christianity.
Bede, a Catholic priest who wrote the Ecclesiastical History of the
English Nation, in 731, wrote:
After the days of Lucius, the Britons preserved the faith which they
had received, whole and inviolate, in a quiet and peaceable manner, until the reign of
Tertullian wrote that in 209, "those parts of Britain into which
the Roman arms never penetrated have yielded subjection to Christ."
Encyclopedia Britannica (1957), under "WALES," says:
As to the coming of Christianity, there is nothing to associate it with
Roman rule in Wales.
Back to Davis' History of the Welsh Baptists, on page nine, he
About the year 300 the Welsh Baptists suffered a terrible and bloody
persecution which was the tenth pagan persecution under the reign of Diocletian. All
history bearing on the subject testifies that the action of baptism in those times among
these martyrs, was "immersion only."
Diocletian's strict orders were to burn up every Christian, every
Meeting house, every scrap of written paper belonging to the Christians, or that gave any
account of their rise and progress, and, no doubt many valuable documents were burnt that
would have been very interesting to the present generation; and it is a wonder that any of
them were preserved from the flames.
The Welsh Christians stood firm, resisting the inventions and
innovations of the Roman Catholics under the rule of Constantine.
On page 190, volume I, of A General History of the Baptist
Denomination, printed in 1813, David Benedict wrote:
Joseph Cross, in the previously mentioned
introduction to the memoirs of Christmas Evans, wrote:
About sixty years after the ascension of our Lord, christianity was
planted in Britain, and a number of royal blood, and many of inferior birth, were called
to be saints. Here the gospel flourished much in early times, and here also its followers
endured many afflictions and calamities from pagan persecutors. The British christians
experienced various changes of prosperity and adversity until about the year 600. A little
previous to this period, Austin the monk, that famous Pedo-baptist and persecutor, with
about forty others, were sent here by pope Gregory the great, to convert the pagans to
popery, and to subject all the British christians to the dominion of Rome. The enterprise
succeeded, and conversion (or rather perversion) work was performed on a large scale. King
Ethelbert and his court, and a considerable part of his kingdom, were won over by the
successful monk, who consecrated the river Swale, near York, in which he caused to be
baptized ten thousand of his converts in a day.
Having met with so much success in England, he resolved to try what he
could do in Wales. There were many British christians who had fled hither in former times
to avoid the brutal ravages of the outrageous Saxons. The monk held a synod in their
neighbourhood, and sent to their pastors to request them to receive the pope's
commandment; but they utterly refused to listen to either the monk or pope, or to adopt
any of their maxims. Austin, meeting with this prompt refusal, endeavoured to compromise
matters with these strenuous Welshmen, and requested that they would consent to him in
three things, one of which was that they should give christendom, that is, baptism to
their children; but with none of his propositions would they comply. "Sins
therefore," said this zealous apostle of popery and pedobaptism, "ye wol not
receive peace of your brethren, ye of other shall have warre and wretche," and
accordingly he brought the Saxons upon them to shed their innocent blood, many of them
lost their lives for the name of Jesus.
Twelve hundred ministers and delegates were slaughtered, and afterward
many of their brethren. Their leaders being slain, the majority of the survivors
reluctantly purchased peace at the sacrifice of conscience, submitting to the creed and
usages of Rome. Yet there were some who repudiated the doctrine of the pope's supremacy,
and maintained for a season the simplicity of the gospel. But they lived among the
mountains, in seclusion from the world, like the inhabitants of the vale of Piedmont.
Let us now continue with the quotation of David Benedict, on page 191,
vol. I. The memoirs he refers to here, are the "Memoirs of the English
Baptists," written by Josiah Taylor of Calne, Wiltsshire, England, in the English
Baptist Magazine. Benedict says:
The Baptist historians in England contend that the first British
christians were Baptists, and that they maintained Baptist principles until the coming of
Austin. "We have no mention," says the author of the Memoirs, "of the
christening or baptizing children in England, before the coming of Austin in 597; and to
us it is evident he brought it not from heaven but from Rome. But though the
subject of baptism began now to be altered, the mode of it continued in the national
church a thousand years longer, and baptism was administered by dipping, &c."
From the coming of Austin the church in this island was divided into two parts, the old
and the new. The old or Baptist church maintained their original principles. But
the new church adopted infant baptism, and the rest of the multiplying superstitions of
Austin's requesting the British christians, who opposed his popish
mission, to baptize their children, is a circumstance which the English and Welsh Baptists
consider of much importance. They infer from it, that before Austin's time, infant baptism
was not practised in England, and that though he converted multitudes to his pedobaptist
plan, yet many, especially in Wales and Cornwall, opposed it; and the Welsh baptists
contend that Baptist principles were maintained in the recesses of their mountainous
Principality all along through the dark reign of popery.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William the Conqueror ascended the
British throne in 1066. During his reign, the Waldenses and their disciples from France,
Germany, and Holland, began to emigrate to and abound in England. About the year 1080,
they are said to have propagated their sentiments throughout England; so that not only the
meaner sort in country villages, but the nobility and gentry in the chiefest towns and
cities, embraced their doctrines, and of course adopted the opinions of the Baptists, for
we have no information that any of the Waldenses at this period, had fallen off to infant
baptism. For more than a hundred years, that is from 1100 to 1216, during the successive
reigns of Henry I. Stephen, Henry II. Richard I. and John, the Waldenses increased and
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . We must now pass on to the reign of
Edward II. in 1315, when Walter Lollard, a German preacher of great renown among the
Waldenses, and a friend to believers baptism, came into England and preached with great
effect. His followers and the Waldenses generally in England for many generations after
him were called Lollards . . . .
Just as with all the other names, not all that were called Lollards
were true congregations of Christ's, but many were.
Although it was no little matter to be an Ana-baptist, or even express
agreement with their beliefs, there is good evidence of their continuous existence during
this time throughout England and Wales. We are no doubt deprived of much of their history
from the 1300s to the 1600s, because of the persecution which forced them to live simple,
inconspicuous lives in "out of the way" places. Not only would records and
writings have likely been avoided, many probably were destroyed by the enemies. Much of
their meeting was done in hiding, and in secret. There were at least some regular
"meeting houses" maintained and used when possible. One is that known as Hill
Cliffe. In History of the Baptist Church at Hill Cliffe, James Kenworthy wrote:
We cannot go back to the foundation of the Hill Cliffe Church, but at
the time that the earliest reference is made to it, it is then in a flourishing condition,
and the very reference itself points to its earlier existence.
The selection of Hill Cliffe as a place of meeting for Christian
worshippers can only be accounted for on the ground that the great object in view was
concealment from their persecutors. It would be impossible to have chosen a better place
for the purpose. Surrounded as it was until recent times by woods, at a safe distance also
from the public highways, and very near the boundary of the counties of Lancaster and
Chester, it was as safe a place as could possibly have been found in those dark days of
persecution. Whenever the persecuting spirit was strong in Lancashire, then the people
would worship at Hill Cliffe, but when the persecuting spirit in Cheshire was the
stronger, the people worshipped in Warrington, there being at the earliest time of which
there remain any records of the existence of Hill Cliffe Chapel, a meeting-house in
connection therewith at Warrington.
On page 31, Kenworthy says:
HERE LYS YeBODY
The earliest evidence of the existence of Hill Cliffe is found on a
stone in the burial ground and bearing date 1357. Another stone has been found with the
date 1414. Another has the date 1523, another 1599, but the dates of the greater portion
of the old stones are lost.
The following are copied from stones in the burial ground:-
OF ELIZABETH PYCROFT WHO
DIED DECEMBER 6,
HERE LYETH THE BODY OF
WILLIAM BATHO OF CHESTER
WHO DIED NOVEMBER 13TH IN YEAR
EXIT FEBRY. J
Many others are then listed, up to about the time the book was written,
the last of which is:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
THE BELOVED PASTOR OF THIS CHURCH,
WHO FELL ASLEEP IN JESUS,
AUGUST 3RD, 1892.
AGED 46 YEARS.
On page 39, Kenworthy says:
During the rebuilding of the chapel in 1800 a stone baptistery, well
cemented, was found in the ground. As no one at the time knew of its existence and it was
evidently of great age, it is likely that as the more troublous times had passed, it fell
into disuse, and the baptism of believers in the brooks and streams in the neighborhood
took place. (From the ministry of the Rev. John Thompson up to recent times, the chief
places of baptisms were at Lower Walton, near the brook that ran through the centre of the
village, and in Cann Lane, Appleton.) This stone baptistery points to the great age for
the chapel and the practice of immersion there.
The first minister of Hill Cliffe of whom anything is known was Mr.
Weyerburton. . . He remained with the people to the end of his days, his death taking
place in 1594.
In Bye-Paths in Baptist History, published in London, in 1871,
J.J. Goadby, on pages 22-23, says:
Although Mr. Weyerburton is the first minister of Hill Cliffe of whom
anything is known, he is not necessarily to be regarded as the earliest minister of the
congregation. Mr. Dainteth succeeded Mr. Weyerburton. The graveyard contains the tomb of
his successor--Thomas Slater Leyland, "a minister of the Gospel," as the
inscription tells us. He was buried in the year preceeding the death of Queen Elizabeth.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Mr. Tillam was the minister of Hill Cliffe. Oliver
Cromwell worshipped at the chapel when his army lay at Warrington, and one of his officers
occupied the pulpit. . . . . . . . . . The earliest deeds of the property have been
irrecoverably lost, but the extant deeds, which go back considerably over two hundred
years [this was published in 1871], describe the property as being "for the use of
the people commonly called Anabaptists."
Also, on page 23, Goadby says:
The church at Eythorne, Kent, owes its origin to some Dutch Baptists,
who settled in this country in the time of Henry the Eighth. They were, doubtless, tempted
to make England their home by the brisk trade that sprang up between this country and
Holland, soon after the marriage of Henry with Anne of Cleves (1540).
On the next page, he says:
In the Calendar of State Papers (Domestic Series, 1547--1580), under
the date of October 28th, 1552, we have this entry: "Northumberland, to Sir William
Cecill. Wishes the King would appoint Mr. Knox to the Bishopric of Rochester. He would be
a whetstone to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a confounder of the Anabaptists lately
sprung up in Kent." It would be historically inaccurate to regard this as the first
intimation of the existence of Baptists, as a separate community in England. Apart from
the probabilities about the still earlier origin of Hill Cliffe Church, it should not be
forgotten that Henry the Eighth had long before 1550 proclaimed to the nation how,
"like a good Catholic priest, he abhorred and detested their (the Anabaptists')
wicked and abominable errors and opinions;" that in his second proclamation, he had
warned all Anabaptists and Zwinglians to depart out of the country, under pain of death;
and that in the third proclamation, when Cranmer was a Protestant archbishop, Cranmer and
eight others were authorized to make diligent search for Anabaptist men, Anabaptist
letters, and Anabaptist books, full power being put into Cranmer's hands to deal capitally
with each offender. The Baptists, in King Edward's days, might have lately sprung up in
Kent, but these proclamations show that they were not then known for the first time in
Goadby also speaks of a John Knott, who, "became the pastor of
Eythorne somewhere between 1590 and 1600."
In The Church in the Hop Garden, "A Chatty Account of the
Longworth-Coate Baptist Meeting: Berks and Oxfordshire (Ante 1481-1935) and its
Ministers," John Stanley tells of an Anabaptist meeting-place being at Longworth, in
England, about fourteen miles west of Oxford, in the year 1481, and then its history up to
1934. In chapter V, Stanley tells of the "first-known definite fact of the
history of the Meeting":
A member of the family, Benjamin Williams, F.S.A., a keen antiquarian,
a hundred years ago compiled the annals of his family, and some very full geneological
tables. He spent many years and much labour on his researches. He starts with an original
Parchment Lease, still in the archives of the family. This is the lease of the Homestead
and Farm in Aston (Coate is now a hamlet of Aston) granted to Richard Williams in the
twenty-first year of Edward IV. (1481), a hundred years after the death of Wycliffe. From
1547, when Thomas Cromwell made the keeping of Parochial Records compulsory, there is a
continuous flow of the family name in the Bampton registers, and the local Court of
So Richard Williams, the farmer, of the days of Edward IV., is regarded
as the founder of the family. The story of the settling is this. A religious persecution
in Wales drove out two brothers named Williams. They were sheep farmers, and brought their
flocks with them. They wandered on until they came into the neighborhood of Witney-- into
a high road between Witney and Bampton. Here is the field known for a thousand years as
Kingsway Field, the great field that Alfred the Great crossed to hold his Parliament at
Shifford. Tempted by the fresh, sweet grass, the sheep broke through the great boundary
hedge into the field. The break is still known as the Welshman's Gap. The Gap is mentioned
in a Bishop's Terrier (an Episcopal "Doomsday Book," now in the Bodleian
Library) as a well-known landmark, in 1577--ninety-six years after one of the emigrants
had obtained the lease at Aston. They crossed the field into Aston. Hungry, weary and
perplexed, they knelt down and besought the Divine Guidance. After the sign-seeking manner
of the times, they threw a straw into the air, determined to follow its direction. It flew
in the direction of Coate. At Coate they came across a friendly farmer, and settled there.
One of the Welshmen married the farmer's daughter and became the progenitor of John
Williams, the Martyr-Missionary. This would be Richard Williams, who leased the Homestead
at Aston. The other brother remained unmarried.
The friendly farmer was an Anabaptist, and worshipped with the
Anabaptist Meeting at Longworth, across the river.
The point to be noted is this: that an Anabaptist Meeting is found at
Longworth about a hundred years after Wycliffe's death, and fifty years before Henry VIII.
formed his new Church of England.
Another congregation that should be mentioned here was organized in
London, in 1633. The following is from pages 138-139 of D.B. Ray's Baptist Succession,
where he quotes from volume I of Thomas Crosby's four volume History of the English
Baptists, published in 1738. Ray says:
After examining Richard Blunt and the letters he
brought with him, the congregation in the Netherlands baptized him and sent him home to
London with the authority, approval, and express purpose of baptizing the fifty-three
others and organizing them into a true congregation. It may seem strange that they did not
know of a congregation in England or Wales from which they could obtain scriptural
baptism, but we must remember the situation of the time and place. The climate of
persecution from the Church of England of those who would not conform dictated that the
Lord's congregations not be very well known about. That they were the same kind, or of
like faith and order, is evident in their fellowship, shortly after, with the other
Sovereign Grace Ana-Baptist congregations of England and Wales, already in existence. The
American Baptist Heritage in Wales, transcribed from the manuscript of "History
of the Baptist Churches in Wales" by Joshua Thomas, a Baptist preacher in Wales who
lived from 1719-1797, on pages 28-29, speaking of the congregation at Olchon, in Wales,
Mr. Crosby introduces the testimony of William Kiffen as follows:
"This agrees with an account given of the matter in an ancient manuscript, said to be
written by Mr. William Kiffen, who lived in those times, and was a leader among
those of that persuasion.
This relates, that several sober and pious persons belonging to the
congregations of the dissenters about London, were convinced that believers
were the only proper subjects of baptism, and that it ought to be administered by immersion
or dipping the whole body into the water, in resemblance of a burial and resurrection,
according to Colos. ii:12, and Rom. vi:4. That they often met together to pray and confer
about this matter, and consult what methods they should take to enjoy this ordinance in
its primitive purity: That they could not be satisfied about any administrator in England
to begin this practice; because, though some in this nation rejected the baptism of
infants, yet they had not, as they knew of, revived the ancient custom of immersion.
But, hearing that some in the Netherlands practiced it, they agreed to send over
one Mr. Richard Blunt, who understood the Dutch language: That he went accordingly,
carrying letters of recommendation with him, and was kindly received both by the church
there, and Mr. John Batte, their teacher: That upon his return he baptized Mr. Samuel
Blacklock, a minister, and these two baptized the rest of their company, whose names
are in the manuscript to the number of fifty-three.
So that those who followed this scheme did not receive their baptism
from the aforesaid Mr. Smith, or his congregation at Amsterdam, it being an
ancient congregation of foreign Baptists in the low countries to whom they
sent." Crosby, vol.I,pp.101, 102; see also, Ivimey, vol.I,p.143; Neal's
Hist. Pur., vol.II, p.361; Orchard, vol.II, p.260.
Here we have the undisputed historic fact, that the Baptists of London
were so careful to obtain valid baptism that they delegated Richard Blunt, formerly a
Pedobaptist minister, to visit a regular Baptist church at Amsterdam, in Holland, which
belonged to the old Waldensean succession. And after the baptism of Richard Blunt by John
Batte, by the authority of said church, he returned to London and baptized Samuel
Blacklock, and they baptized the rest of the company, to the number of fifty-three
members; and thus was formed a Baptist church, which was afterward recognized as a
Particular Baptist church.
No doubt the aged people there well remembered the former troubles,
before 1640. From 1660 to 1688 they were much persecuted despised, yet a remnant continued
through the whole.
They met to worship in various places where they could; sometimes in a
friend's house and often out. One day or night they would meet in some retired place of
the Black Mountain, but when they understood that the informers had heard of the place;
then they would change it and fix upon another spot; thus they shifted from place to
place. A noted rock, they frequented for the purpose, is called, Y Darren ddn, on the west
side of Olchon, and well known still. A little below it, there was then a large wood,
there is part of it now; that wood was often their meeting place. That was the estate of
Mr. Hugh Lewis, a gentleman of property and influence but no persecutor. His son, Mr.
Nathan Lewis, was a strong advocate for the persecuted Baptists. Mr. Thomas Lewis, another
son, was a Baptist after and lived at Abergavenny. There was also a daughter, who was a
member. So on the whole they had favor and interest there.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Notwithstanding all favors and cautions,
the good people were often taken, beaten, abused, fined, and imprisoned. They were hunted
like David, through woods, through mountains, and the rocks of wild goats. Of whom the
world was not worthy, they wandered in desert, mountains, dens and caves. At times when
they met to worship at friends' houses, it was running great risk and hazards.
We have traced the history, continuation, and existence of some of the
true congregations of Christ up to the 17th and 18th centuries in Britain , now we will
see their migration into America. At this point, someone may ask, "Where does John
Smyth fit in?" The answer is that he does not. If the records of history are accurate
about his religious activities, there is no way that we can consider the congregation
gathered by him, or any of its offspring, as a congregation of Christ's, according to our
interpretation of the New Testament. But, because many are so fond of perpetuating the
myth that the Baptists in England originated with Smyth, I suppose the matter should be
As sources, I will use the encyclopedias, and various "Baptist
histories," as well as books of general history. Those things such as names, dates,
and places, commonly agreed upon, I will simply present as fact, rather than be overly
cumbersome with quotations.
In 1600, John Smyth became a lecturer or preacher of the city of
Lincoln, in the established Church of England. After dispute and debate about the
discipline and ceremonies of the Church of England, Smyth either left, or as some think,
was thrown out of, the Church of England. He then became the pastor of one of the Brownist
congregations in Lincolnshire. In 1606, or 1607, Smyth, Thomas Helwys, John Murton, along
with Robinson and Clifton, who were co-pastors of another Brownist congregation nearby,
and others, left England to escape religious persecution, and went to Amsterdam in
Holland. In Amsterdam, these exiles joined a congregation of Brownist where F. Johnson was
pastor, and H. Ainsworth was a teacher. After some time, controversey arose between Smyth
and the Brownists there. J.J. Goadby, on pages 30-31 of Bye-Pathes in Baptist History,
The New Testament churches, with their simple order and discipline,
seemed strangely unlike the half Jewish society at Amsterdam, with which he was united. He
felt, moreover, that he could no longer hold the doctrines of personal election and
reprobation. His faith was also shaken in some other points "assuredly believed
among" the Amsterdam Separatists. He had ceased to be a Calvinist, and had become an
Arminian. Much talk arose about these changes in his opinions. Meanwhile, Smyth adopted
new views on the subject of baptism.
The last question came up in reviewing his dissent from the
Establishment. He and his Brownist friends had rejected the ordination of the State
Church, but they still retained her baptism. Smyth now made the subject his special study,
and was speedily led to adopt believers' baptism as alone consistent with New Testament
teaching. With his usual frankness he openly and zealously advocated his new opinions.
This was more than the charity of his associates could bear.
Arminianism was bad enough; but believers' baptism was worse; at least so thought
Robinson, Clifton, and others. Smyth, and those who sympathised in his opinions, were cut
off from the church.
The exclusion of John Smyth, Thomas Helwys, and others who agreed with
him, resulted in their proceeding to form a congregation of their own. In The Early
English Baptists, B. Evans, whose account agrees with that of Goadby's, above, says,
in volume I, pages 203-204:
Upon the very threshold of their enterprise a formidable difficulty
presented itself. Who should baptize them? There were Baptists in Holland, those who
administered the ordinance by immersion, as well as those who adopted the mode at present
practised by our brethren in the Netherlands. From some cause or other, application was
not made to any of them, and the story goes that after much prayer Smith baptized himself,
then Helwys, and then the remainder of the company.
Now that the dust has settled, most who have studied the matter are in
agreement, rather than John Smyth "baptizing" himself, as he was accused of, it
is most probable that Smyth "baptized" Helwys, Helwys "baptized"
Smyth, and then the two "baptized" the rest. It does not matter which way they
did it, if the information we have is correct, because neither had any authority to
baptize. Since God had not given either of them authority to baptize, as He did John the
Baptist, and neither had Jesus or any of His congregations given them that authority, we
must conclude that what took place was not baptism.
Most think that the mode of "baptism" used by Smyth and
Helwys was pouring, and the weight of evidence agrees. That does not matter either, since
they were grossly in error anyway. The Bible does not teach of any such thing as
"plan A, plan B, and plan C," for baptism. It is either scriptural and valid, or
unscriptural and of no benefit. They were no more able to baptize (with a baptism
acceptable unto God) than Mother Goose, Humpty Dumpty, or Donald Duck.
There is no doubt in my mind why the Smyth/Helwys congregation didn't
go to the Baptists in Holland who "administered the ordinance by immersion,"
mentioned in the above quotation from Evans. Those Baptists believed in the Sovereignty of
God, and the total depravity of man. They would not have approved of the Arminian
profession of faith of Smyth and his followers. It was in 1609 or 1610 that the
Smyth/Helwys congregation was founded, and very shortly after, a difficulty arose and John
Smyth and others were excluded from it. They then joined a congregation of Mennonites, who
by then were practicing baptism by pouring and sprinkling, and had fallen into other
error. As Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) says, "The Arminianism of the
Mennonites and their rejection of infant baptism appealed to Smyth." Evans, on page
208, vol.I, of Early English Baptists, says:
It is admitted, on all hands, that from some cause or other, the church
over which Smith and Helwys presided was divided, but the cause of the division is not so
manifest. Smith, with some twenty-four persons, was excluded from the church, and these
sought communion with one of the Mennonite churches in the city. It is more than probable
that it was one of the Waterland, one of the most liberal of the Mennonite churches, and
their mode of baptism was by sprinkling, or affusion.
On page 209, Evans gives the confession and appeal for membership to
the Mennonites, and in the appendix on pages 244 and 245, the names of Smyth, his wife
Mary, and thirty others who signed it:
The names of the English who confess this their error, and repent of
it, viz., that they undertook to baptize themselves contrary to the order appointed by
Christ, and who now desire, on this account, to be brought back to the true church of
Christ as quickly as may be suffered.
We unanimously desire that this our wish should be signified to the
The Smyth party was accepted by the Mennonites, who concluded that:
The said English were questioned about their doctrine of salvation, and
the ground and the form (mode) of their baptism." "No difference was found
between them and us. (Evans, p.208)
Thomas Helwys continued as sole pastor of the remaining congregation
until 1614, when he and some of the rest returned to London. The few remaining then joined
the Mennonites in 1615. John Smyth died in Holland of consumption in August, 1612. Helwys
and those returning with him formed yet another congregation after they settled in London.
Some insist that that was the start of the General Baptists of England, who were of
Arminian persuasion. I find no evidence or indication that any of the Particular Baptists
of England received their baptism or origin from the Helwys congregation. The
preponderance of the evidence indicates that even the General Baptists did not receive
their baptism from the Helwys congregation, even though it may have been the first to have
claimed the name of "General Baptist church." I believe Thomas Crosby's four
volume History of the English Baptists, published in 1738, well supports that
opinion. It appears to me that the congregations that showed the most evidence of being
Jesus' kind of congregation have been the slower, and more reluctant to give themselves a
name. They would describe themselves as "the baptized congregation at _____," or
"the baptized church of Christ meeting at ____," or some similar description.
Representative of their terminology in the late 1600s is in this inscription on the
tombstone of Thomas Lowe, buried at Hill Cliffe:
HERE LYETH THE BODY OF THAT EMINENT AND FAITHFUL SERVANT OF CHRIST
THOMAS LOWE, PASTOR OF THE BAPTIZED CONGREGATION AT WARRINGTON, WHO DIED AT DRAKELOW THE
21 FEBY. 1695 AND IN THE 62 YEAR OF HIS AGE.
(History of the Baptist Church at Hill Cliffe. James Kenworthy,
On page 105 of Baptist Piety, "The Last Will and Testimony
of Obadiah Holmes," Edwin S. Gaustad explains:
Obadiah Holmes addresses his letter simply to "the Church of
Christ at Newport . . . who are baptized upon the professing of their faith. . . ."
Letters from the Newport Church to the Boston Baptists often said merely, "To the
Church of Christ gathered at Boston," while John Russell, the pastor of that church
in 1680, described it as "a Church of Christ in Gospel Order." But gradually the
word "baptized" became less a verb and more an adjective. In 1719 a letter from
the Boston fellowship, which began "The Church of Christ in Boston Baptized Upon
Profession of their Faith," was shortened that same year in a Newport letter to
"We, the baptized Church of Christ meeting at Newport." The distinguishing tag
"Baptist," or earlier "Anabaptist," was meant -- like most tags in the
history of Christianity -- to be a pejorative one thrust upon the despised sect by its
enemies. The sect itself -- like most new groups in the history of Christianity -- saw no
need for any label at all since it was only re-creating the true and pure church of Jesus
and the apostles. But history is more powerful than logic, and denominational names are
As to the General Baptists of England originating with the Smyth/Helwys
affair, I believe the most probable case is that a few may have recieved their baptism
from Helwys, but for the most part, the strongest connection is that existing
congregations were seduced and corrupted by the propaganda and teaching of the Helwys
organization, and thereby fell into their errors and accepted their name. Either way, if
they were corporately and consciously preaching a gospel that involves a God that is less
than completely sovereign, and man that is not totally depraved, they were administering a
defective "baptism." Remember that baptism is picturing or preaching in
Of the John Smyth organization, Thomas Crosby says, on page 99, volume
I of his History of the English Baptists, that:
If he were guilty of what they charge him with, 'tis no blemish on the English
Baptists; who neither approved of any such method, nor did they receive their baptism
Dr. John Clarke, who was a Baptist preacher in London, came to Boston,
Massachusetts, probably in 1636, with his wife Elizabeth. Due to religious persecution,
John and Elizabeth Clarke, and others left Boston. In the second edition of The First
Baptist Church in America, by J.R. Graves and S. Adlam, Conrad N. Glover writes, on
John Clarke was respected as a man of great learning. He bore high
repute for scholarship and ability in languages, including Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Law,
Medicine and Theology. He was by profession a physician and a Baptist minister. He
possessed the qualifications of a leader, and a leader he became.
The conditions in Massachusetts Bay Colony became so intolerable in
1637 that John Clarke and some three hundred with him entered into a compact to remove
themselves out of the colony.
They traveled to New Hampshire, but, being dissatisfied with the colder
climate, returned south to a place named, by the Native Americans, Pocasset. On page 220
of the above named book, C.N. Glover says:
The land settled by John Clarke and his followers was purchased from
the Indians. The date of the transaction was March 24, 1638.
Later in the same year, a congregation was organized with John Clarke
as the pastor. On page 235, Glover says:
There are historic statements which lead me to believe that John Clarke
began his ministry with the people of his colony immediately after they settled at the
north end of Aquidneck Island, first called by its Indian name, Pocasset, and in 1638
changed to Portsmouth, and a meeting house built. Then during the next year in April,
1639, Dr. Clarke and others moved to the present site of the city of Newport and founded
Newport where another meeting house was erected. It is believed by historians that the
church begun at Portsmouth in 1638 was moved along with the settlers to Newport, where it
has continued in active service ever since, with the exception of a period of interruption
during the Revolutionary War when the British occupied the town of Newport.
The lengthy inscription on John Clarke's tombstone gives this
informative and authoratative account:
To the Memory of
DOCTOR JOHN CLARKE,
One of the original purchasers and proprietors of this island and one
of the founders of the First Baptist Church of
Newport, its first pastor and munificent benefactor; He was a native of
Bedfordshire, England, and a practitioner of physic in London. He, with his associates,
came to this island from Mass., in March, 1638, O.S., and on the 24th of the same month
obtained a deed thereof from the Indians. He shortly after gathered the church aforesaid
and became its pastor. In 1651, he, with Roger Williams, was sent to England, by the
people of Rhode Island Colony, to negotiate the business of the Colony with the British
ministry. Mr. Clarke was instrumental in obtaining the Charter of 1663 from Charles II.,
which secured to the people of the State free and full enjoyment of judgement and
conscience in matters of religion. He remained in England to watch over the interests of
the Colony until 1664, and then returned to Newport and resumed the pastoral care of his
church. Mr. Clarke and Mr. Williams, two fathers of the Colony, strenuously and fearlessly
maintained that none but Jesus Christ had authority over the affairs of conscience. He
died April 20, 1676, in the 66th year of his age, and is here interred.
Of his visit to the site of John Clarke's grave, in 1854, J.R. Graves,
on pages 14 and 15 of The First Baptist Church in America, wrote:
The worn appearance of the stone testifies to its extreme age, and the
language and style of the epitaph witness that it has come down to us from "former
generations"--the centuries past.
I unhesitatingly accepted this mural witness as unimpeachable, and
studied it, examining and cross-examining it for the utmost syllable of its testimony.
On page 162 of The First Baptist Church in America, J.R. Graves
In the course of my reading I met with the following statements in
Crosby, and in the history of the Philadelphia Association, to which I called the
attention of Elder Adlam:
"When the First Church in Newport was one hundred years old, in
1738, Mr. John Callender, their minister, delivered and published a sermon on the
occasion." Note on page 455.
That statement, made in a note at the bottom of page 455 of Minutes
of the Philadelphia Association, published by the American Publication Society, is
further evidence as to the correctness of the 1638 date.
In 1663, a congregation was organized in Massachusetts, with John Miles
as pastor. John Miles was pastor of a Baptist congregation at Swansea, in Wales, who came
to America to escape persecution under Charles II. Page 61 of The American Baptist
Heritage in Wales says:
It does not appear when Mr. Miles sailed for America, when he landed in
that country, nor what family, friends, or neighbors accompanied him. The first account we
have of him west of the Atlantic is in Mr. Backus' History [A History of New England
With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians Called Baptists. Isaac
Backus] above referred to, Vol. 1, Page 353, naming Mr. Miles among the ejected ministers,
it is added, "upon which, he and some of his friends came over to our country, and
brought their church Records with them. And at Mr. Butterworth's in Rehobath, in 1663,
John Miles, elder, James Brown, Nicholas Tanner, Joseph Carpenter, John Butterworth, Eldad
Kingsley, and Benjamin Alby, joined in a solemn covenant together."
This was the first Baptist church in that part of America as noted
above. It seems the men members of it were only seven. What number of women members there
were we know not. It does not appear that any of the men members went with Miles to
America, but Mr. Nicholas Tanner, said in the records to have been baptized on the 11th of
the 11th month, 1651. This young church was then in Plymouth Colony; where they had quiet
about four years: but at a court holden at Plymouth, 2nd July 1667, the society was fined
in a considerable sum of money, and ordered to remove from that place. On the 30th of
October ensuing, that court made them an ample grant in another place, which Mr. Miles and
his friends called Swanzay. It seems they so spelled Swansea in Wales then. "There
they made a regular settlement which has continued to this day . . . . Their first meeting
house was built a little west of Kelly's Ferry, against Warren; but Mr. Miles settled the
west side of the great bridge which still bears his name," Page 354.
But what about Roger Williams? That is a situation similar to the John
Smyth story. All reliable sources are in agreement with the following account of what
happened in 1639 (one year after the organization of the congregation at Newport), from
page 475, volume I, of A General History of the Baptist Denomination by David
Being settled in this place, which, from the kindness of God to them,
they called PROVIDENCE, Mr. Williams and those with him, considered the importance of
Gospel Union, and were desirous of forming themselves into a church, but met with
considerable obstruction; they were convinced of the nature and design of believer's
baptism by immersion; but, from a variety of circumstances, had hitherto been prevented
from submission. To obtain a suitable administrator was a matter of consequence: at
length, the candidates for communion nominated and appointed Mr. Ezekiel Holliman, a man
of gifts and piety, to baptize Mr. Williams; and who, in return, baptized Mr. Holliman and
the other ten.
It has been much alleged that the Baptists in America began with Roger
Williams, and that Williams was the founder and first pastor of the First Baptist Church
in Providence, but the facts, and the older records show that not to be the case. The
whole mess, at least in great part, appears to have originated with the manufacture of
history at the hand of John Stanford, who was pastor of "The First Church in
Providence." Benedict says, on page 485, vol.I:
Thus far the history of this church has been transcribed from its
records, which were set in order in 1775, by Rev. John Stanford, now of New-York, who was
then preaching with them. This account, up to Dr. Manning's beginning in Providence, is
found almost in the same form as here stated in Morgan Edward's MS. History, &c.
prepared in 1771. It was published in Rippon's Register in 1802, and as it is well
written, I have chosen to copy it without scarce any alteration.
J.R. Graves visited Benedict at his home in Pawtucket, R.I., and on
page 21 of The First Baptist Church in America, wrote:
John Callender was called as the sixth pastor of
the First Baptist Church of Newport in 1731. In 1738, concerning the First Baptist Church
at Providence, Callendar wrote:
Touching the conflicting claims of the Newport and Providence churches
above referred to, and his verdict in favor of Providence, expressed in his History, he
remarked, that "it was his rule not to go behind the records of the churches. His
verdict was in accordance with the records of the Providence church. If he had erred he
had been misled by those records, and with no intention to disparage the claims of the
Newport church. He admitted the growing perplexities that had for years confused and
unsettled his mind as to the correctness of Mr. James [John] Stanford's history of the
Providence church, compiled without any church record, and a full century after its
origin. It would not be strange, but indeed probable, that errors, and not a few, would
The most ancient inhabitants now alive, some of them above eighty years
old, who personally knew Mr. Williams, and were well aquainted with many of the original
settlers, never heard that Mr. Williams formed the Baptist Church there, but always
understood that Brown, Wickenden, or Wigginton, Dexter, Olney, Tillinghast, etc., were the
first founders of that church.
[The First Baptist Church in America. J.R. Graves and S. Adlam,
On pages 22 and 23 of A History of the Baptists in New England,
Henry S. Burrage says:
Mr. Williams was baptized by Ezekiel Holliman, and he in turn baptized
Holliman and "some ten more." But Williams remained only a few months in
connection with the church. He had doubts in reference to the validity of his own baptism,
and the baptism of his associates on account of the absence of "authorized
administrators." For him there was no church and no ministry left. The apostolic
succession was interrupted and apostolic authority had ceased. It was the baptizer, and
not the baptism about which he doubted. He was a high church Anabaptist. He went out of
the church, left his little congregation behind, preached when and where he could, and
became a "seeker" the rest of his days. And during the rest of his days he never
came to a "satisfying discovery" of a true church or ministry.
In A History of New England With Particular Reference to the
Denomination of Christians Called Baptists, Isaac Backus wrote:
Mr. Williams had been accused before of embracing principles which
tended to Anabaptism; and in March, 1639, he was baptized by one of his brethren, and then
he baptized about ten more. But in July following, such scruples were raised in his mind
about it, that he restrained from such administrations among them.
On pages 162 and 163 of The First Baptist Church in America,
J.R. Graves introduced a quotation of Cotton Mather, from Thomas Crosby, with this:
This is Cotton Mather's testimony as to the perpetuity of Williams'
informal society. If it was in existence when Mather wrote, he well knew it. If it
dissolved when Williams left it, and repudiated it as a scriptural church, he knew it; and
he says it "came to nothing," there was nothing left for even Mather to
reproach, and Mather died in 1727-8:
The quotation of Mather, from Crosby (Vol.I, p.117) says:
One Roger Williams, a preacher, arrived in New England about the year
1630; was first an assistant in the church of Salem, and afterwards pastor. This man, a
difference happening between the government and him, caused a great deal of trouble and
vexation. At length the magistrates passed the sentence of banishment upon him, which when
he removed with a few of his own sect and settled at a place called Providence. There they
proceeded," says Mr. Mather, "not only unto the gathering of a thing like a
church, but unto the renouncing of their infant baptism." After this, he says,
"he turned Seeker and Familist, and the church came to nothing."
(Ecclesiastical History of New England, p.7, Cotton Mather).
It is conclusive that the Roger Williams organization "came to
nothing" within about four months. Although it is known that there were members of
the Newport congregation living at Providence, there are no known records, or hint of the
existence, of a Baptist congregation at Providence until about 1652. In 1653 or 1654,
there was a division in that congregation (the one organized at Providence in 1652), and a
new one was organized with Gregory Dexter as pastor. Wickenden and Browne were apparently
co-pastors, also. In The Baptist Succession, D.B. Ray says:
Gregory Dexter was a Baptist preacher in London, who came over to
Providence, Rhode Island, in 1644. He was associated with Wickenden and Browne, as one of
the founders of the present Providence first church.
The original congregation (organized in 1652) continued until about
1715 or 1718, when, "becoming destitute of an elder, the members were united with
other churches," (Callender) and became extinct. The congregation of whom Dexter,
Wickenden, and Browne were pastors, has continued to the present at Providence.
Now, let us go back to the congregation at Newport, where John Clarke
was pastor. History shows that many, many congregations throughout the country are
descendants of that congregation. Another evil myth (like those of the Baptists being
started with John Smyth or Roger Williams) is that effective mission work among Baptists
is of modern origin. Effective in man's eyes, or God's? How much more effective can you
get than doing something God's way? With even the very minimal amount of history I have
related here in this book, it is clearly seen that members of Jesus' congregations, in
every era, have gone into all the world, preaching the gospel, baptizing those whom God
saves, and organizing them into true bodies of Christ, by His authority.
In A Brief History of the First Baptist Church of Harrison, Ohio,
Larry L. Burton and Berlin Hisel traced the geneology of the First Baptist Church of
Harrison, step by step, back to the First Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island. After a
paragraph about the organization of the First Baptist Church of Newport, Burton and Hisel
In about the middle of the 17th century, a Baptist minister, Elder
Thomas Dungan from Ireland, left his native home to escape persecutions under King Charles
II, and coming to Rhode Island, joined himself to Dr. Clarke's church. In 1684, Elder
Dungan and a small group of members from the church in Newport came south to Bucks County,
Pennsylvania, and established as a church body there. This was the Cold Spring Baptist
Church, and it was about three miles north of Bristol, Penn., not too far from Trenton.
Elder Dungan was old when he came to America, and he died in 1688. But something he did
just prior to his death has had lasting results.
That "something he [Dungan] did" was to be used of God to
instruct and counsel Elias Keach, who was baptized and ordained at the Cold Spring Baptist
Church. The circumstance, as recorded by Morgan Edwards in his Materials Toward a
History of the Baptists of Pennsylvania, can be found on page 91, volume II, of A
History of the Baptists by John Christian, or on pages 581 and 582, volume I, of A
General History of the Baptist Denomination by David Benedict, and elsewhere. On pages
581 and 582, Benedict's History says, of Elias Keach:
He was son of the famous Benjamin Keach, of London; arrived in this
country a very wild youth, about the year 1686. On his landing, he dressed in black, and
wore a band, in order to pass for a minister. The project succeeded to his wishes, and
many people resorted to hear the young London Divine. He performed well enough, till he
had advanced pretty far in the sermon; then stopping short, he looked like a man
astonished. The audience concluded he had been seized with a sudden disorder; but on
asking what the matter was, received from him a confession of the imposture, with tears in
his eyes, and much trembling. Great was his distress, though it ended happily; for from
this time he dated his conversion. He heard of Mr. Dungan. To him he repaired to seek
counsel and comfort, and by him he was baptized and ordained. From Coldspring, Mr. Keach
came to Pennepek, and settled a church there as before related; and thence travelled
through Pennsylvania and the Jersies, preaching the Gospel in the wilderness with great
success, insomuch that he may be considered as the chief apostle of the Baptists in these
parts of America. He and his family embarked for England, early in the spring of the year
1692, and afterwards became a very famous and successful minister in London.
About the year 1702, the congregation at Cold Spring dissolved. In
1688, a congregation was organized at Pennepeck, in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania,
called the Lower Dublin Baptist Church. It is often referred to as "the Pennepeck
Church." Elias Keach, missionary out of the congregation at Cold Spring, was called
as their first pastor. Page 90 of volume II of A History of the Baptists by John T.
The records of the church state that "by the good Providence of
God, there came certain persons out of Radnorshire in Wales, over into this Province of
Pennsylvania, and settled in the Township of Dublin, in the County of Philadelphia, viz.:
John Eatton, George Eatton and Jane, his wife, Samuel Jones, and Sarah Eatton, who had all
been Baptized upon Confession of Faith and Received into Communion of the Church of Christ
meeting in the Parishes of Llandewi and Nantmel, in Radnorshire, Henry Gregory being Chief
Pastor. Also John Baker who had been Baptized and was a member of a congregation of
Baptized believers in Kilkenny, in Ireland, Christopher Blackwell, pastor, was in the
providence of God settled in the township aforesaid. In the year 1687 there came one
Samuel Vaus out of England, and settled near the aforesaid Township and went under the
denomination of a Baptist and was so taken to be."
The next year Elias Keach came from London and baptized some persons.
[There was two years interval between Keach's coming from London in 1686 and his settling
at Pennepeck, in 1688, in which he was a member of the congregation at Cold Spring, as
described previously. S.F.] Twelve entered into church relations and chose Mr. Keach as
pastor. Soon after, a few Baptists from this province and West Jersey joined them, also
some persons baptized at the Falls, Cold Spring, Burlington, Cohansey, Salem, Penn's Neck,
Chester, Philadelphia and elsewhere united with the church. These were all in one church,
and Pennepeck was the center of the union, where as many as could met to celebrate the
Lord's Supper. Quarterly meetings were held in other places to accommodate the members
there. From this church went out many others. . . . (Horatio Gates Jones, The Baptists
in Pennsylvania. Being a sketch of the Pennepeck or Lower Dublin Baptist Church. The Historical
Magazine, August, 1868. New Series, IV. 76).
Benedict adds, on page 581, that:
Thus, for some time, continued their Zion with lengthened cords, till
the brethren in remote parts set about forming themselves into distinct churches, which
began in 1699. By these detachments it was reduced to narrow bounds, but continued among
the churches, as a mother in the midst of many daughters.
In 1701, sixteen people were organized as a Baptist congregation in
South Wales, and came, as a complete body with Thomas Griffith as pastor, to America on
the ship named "James and Mary." In History of the Welsh Baptists, J.
Davis says, on page 72:
In the year 1701, he [Thomas Griffiths] and fifteen of the members of
the church went to America in the same vessel. They formed themselves into a church at
Milford, in the county of Pembroke, South Wales, and Thomas Griffiths became their pastor
in the month of June, 1701. They embarked on board the ship James and Mary, and on
the 8th day of September following, they landed at Philadelphia. The brethren there
treated them courteously, and advised them to settle about Pennepeck. Thither they went,
and there continued about a year and a half. During that time twenty-one persons joined
them, but finding it inconvenient to abide there, they purchased land in the county of
Newcastle, and gave it the name of Welsh Tract, where they built a meeting-house, and
Thomas Griffiths labored among them as their pastor till he died, on the 25th of July,
1725, aged eighty years.
On pages 106 and 107 of The American Baptist Heritage in Wales,
we have, preserved by Joshua Thomas, the following account of the "extracts"
translated into English by later members of that congregation from their records which
were kept in Welsh until 1732:
"In the year 1701, there was a number of the members of the
Baptist churches in the counties of Pembroke, Carmarthen, and Cardigan inclined to
emigrate to Pennsylvania. Having consulted among themselves, they laid the case before the
churches, who agreed to grant them leave to go. But the churches considered that as they
were sixteen members and one of them a minister, it would be better for them to be
constituted a church in their native land; they agreed and did so. Being thus formed into
a church, they gave them a letter of recommendation for their reception as brethren,
should they meet any Christians of the same faith and practice. They sailed from
Milford-Haven in June that year, and arrived in Philadelphia in September.
They met with kind reception from the church meeting at Pennepec and
Philadelphia. They spent about a year and a half in that vicinity, in a dispersed way.
These new comers kept their meetings weekly and monthly among themselves: but held
Christian conference with the other church, with which they wholly agreed but in the
article of Laying on of hands, to which the newcomers strictly adhered: but the majority
of the other church opposed it. In the year and a half that way they had two and twenty
added to them, which probably made 38. But at the end of this term, these with others from
Wales, purchased a large tract of land in Newcastle county on Delaware, which in their own
language, they called Rhandiry cymrn, but being turned into English, Welshtract. This was
in the year 1703, and in the same year they built their meeting house. In the extract the
names of the sixteen are given, there Thomas Griffiths is called pastor; and Elisha Thomas
is called Elijeus Thomas. There also they give the names of the two and twenty added, as
above. . . .
And on the next page:
"There were thirteen added to them the first after their abode at
the Tract, two by letters from Wales, and eleven by Baptism, and in a few years they
became numerous, many were added to them from different churches in Wales, and large
additions yearly by personal profession before the church; so that in a few years a
hundred and twelve were added to the first thirty-eight, and many of these were gifted
brethren, in all 150." But probably some had died.
Also on page 108, Thomas says:
Mr. Morgan Edwards, author of the Materials [Materials Toward
a History of the Baptists of Pennsylvania], in a letter to the writer of this dated
5th Nov. 1784, says "Mr. Joshua Edwards was born in Pembrokeshire Feb. 11th 1703,
landed (in America) about 1721, was ordained July 15th 1751, was alive in 1772, had eleven
children, but had not the particular care of any church." Then in the same letter he
informs, that about the year 1737, about thirty members from Welshtract removed to Peedee,
in South Carolina, and there formed a church in 1738, which church is now (said he then)
shot into five branches, that is Cashawa, Catfish, Capefear, Linches Creek, and Mar's
Bluff or Cliff. Mr. Joshua Edwards is one of the ministers who served those churches
Mr. (now Dr.) J. Jones, in a letter of June 1784, said that he assisted
at the constitution of a branch of Welshtract church, in Nov. 1780. That new church is
called London tract; the minister Mr. Thomas Fleeson. He mentions another church formed
out of it, but does not give the name.
For several years, many Baptists came to America from Wales and
England. Many Baptist preachers were sent from the congregations there, to work in
America. From pages 76 and 77 of The American Baptist Heritage in Wales is the
following letter of reccomendation, which is a sample of the order practiced among the
South Wales in Great Britain
The church of Jesus Christ meeting at Swansea, in Glamorganshire,
teaching believers baptism, laying on of hands, the doctrine of personal election, and
final perseverance. To any church of Christ Jesus in the province of Pennsylvania, in
America, of the same faith and order to whom this may concern. Send Christian Salutation:
Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied unto you from God the Father through our Lord Jesus
Dearly beloved, Brethren in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Where as our dearly beloved brethren and sisters by name, Hugh David,
an ordained minister, and his wife Margaret, Anthony Matthew, Simon Matthew, Morgan
Thomas, Samuel Hugh, Simon Butler, Arthur Melchoir, and Hannah his wife, design by God's
permission to come with Mr. Sereney to the fore said province of Pennsylvania: This is to
testify unto you, that all the above names are in full communion with us, and we commit
them, all of them to your Christian care, beseeching you therefore to receive them in the
Lord, watch over them, and perform all Christian duties toward them as becometh Christians
to their fellow members. So we commit you and them to the Lord, and to the word of his
grace, which is able to build you and them up in the most holy faith. May the God of peace
ever sanctify you wholly, and that your, and their spirits, souls, and bodies, may be
preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ shall be the earnest prayers
of your brethren in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel.
Dated the 30th of the 7th month 1710: signed at our meeting by a part
for the whole:
Morgan Jones, John David, William Matthew, Jacob Morgan, Owen Dowle,
Morgan Nichols, John Howell, Hugh Matthew, Robert Edwards, John Hughs, Philip Matthew,
Thomas Morgan, William Morgan, (and another name not legible).
According to the minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association
(1707-1807), Morgan Edwards, J. Davis, Joshua Thomas, and others, Hugh Davis (spelled
David in the above letter) and fifteen others organized a congregation at Great Valley,
Chester County, Pennsylvania, April 22, 1711, and chose Hugh Davis as pastor.
In 1710, Nathaniel Jenkins, who was born in Cardiganshire, Wales, in
1678, came to America, and became the first pastor of a congregation of Baptists
constituted in 1712 at Cape May, New Jersey. (A General History of the Baptist
Denomination by David Benedict, vol.I, p.570)
Abel Morgan, born in 1637 at Llanwenog, in Carmarthen County, Wales,
began preaching at nineteen years old. He was ordained at Blaenegwent, in Monmouthshire,
and arrived in America on February 14, 1711, and pastored the congregation at
Lower-Dublin, at Pennepek, Pennsylvania (mentioned earlier), until he died December 16,
1722. (Benedict, vol.I, p.583)
By migration, sometimes by choice and many times by persecution, and
the mission efforts of these and other congregations and their descendant congregations,
God used them to take the truth into New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, the Carolinas,
and other surrounding territories. People who were saved by God's grace and baptized under
the authority granted these congregations by Jesus, covenanted themselves together and
were organized into new congregations of Jesus' after the New Testament pattern.
Robert Nordin and Thomas White were ordained in
London, and sent by the General Baptists to Virginia in 1714. Benedict says:
But White died by the way, and Nordin arrived in Virginia, and gathered
a church at a place called Burley, in the county of the Isle of Wight. [vol.II, pages
Robert Nordin died in 1725. In 1727, Richard Jones and Casper Mintz
came from England to Burley, and Jones became their pastor.
On page 25, Benedict says:
In 1756, the church at Burley sent the following letter to the
"The church of Jesus Christ in Isle of Wight county, holding adult
baptism, &c. to the Reverend and General Assembly or Association at Philadelphia, send
greeting. We the above mentioned church, confess ourselves to be under clouds of darkness,
concerning the faith of Jesus Christ, not knowing whether we are on the right foundation,
and the church much unsettled; wherefore, we desire alliance with you, and that you will
be pleased to send us helps, to settle the church, and rectify what may be wrong; and
subsribe ourselves, your loving brethren in Christ, Casper Mintz, Richard Jones, Randal
Allen, Joseph Mattgum, Christopher Atkinson, Benjamin Atkinson, Thomas Cafer, Samuel
Jones, William Jordan, John Allen, John Powell, Joseph Atkinson.--Dec. 27, 1756."
Shortly afterwards, according to Morgan Edwards, the congregation at
Burley "was broken up, partly by sickness, and partly by the removal of families from
hence to North-Carolina, where they gained many proselytes, and in ten years became
sixteen churches." [Benedict, vol.II, p.24] Of them, Benedict says, on page 98 of
These people were all General Baptists, and those of them who
emigrated from England, came out from that community there. And although some of their
ministers were evangelical and pure, and the members regular and devout; yet, on the
whole, it appears to have been the most negligent and the least spiritual community of
Baptists, which has arisen on the American continent. For so careless and indefinite were
they in their requisitions, that many of their communicants were baptized and admitted
into their churches; and even some of their ministers were introduced into their sacred
functions, without an experimental acquaintance with the gospel, or without being required
to possess it. It does not appear that they extended the bounds of their communion to any
but those of their own order; but so loose and indefinite were their terms in other
respects, that all, who professed a general belief in the truths of the gospel, submitted
to baptism, and religiously demeaned themselves, were admitted to it.
In this situation, this cluster of churches continued, until more
orthodox principles were introduced, and a spirit of reformation began to prevail, which
finally leavened nearly the whole body, and transformed it into an Association of
Calvinistick, or as they were then called, Regular Baptists.
John Gano, Benjamin Miller, and Peter P. Vanhorn were instrumental in
that transformation. On page 99, Benedict says:
Mr. Gano was sent out by the Philadelphia Association, with general and
indefinite instructions, to travel in the southern States, &c. He, on his return,
represented the melancholly condition of this people to the Association, who appointed
Messrs. Miller and Vanhorn for the special purpose of instructing and reforming them. Mr.
Gano appears to have shaken the old foundation, and begun the preparation of the materials
which Messrs. Miller and Vanhorn organized into regular churches.
Probably, the first Baptist congregation in North Carolina was
organized more than twenty years earlier, about 1727. It was gathered by Paul Palmer at a
place called Perquimans, on Chowan-river. He was born in Maryland, and baptized at Welsh
In 1683, some Baptists moved to near Charleston, South Carolina, from
Piscataway, in Maine, to escape persecution by the Pedobaptists of New England. They
organized a congregation, with William Screven as pastor, and about the same time were
joined by some emigrating from England, who were Particular Baptists. [Benedict, vol.II,
p.120] On May 24, 1736, twenty-eight members of that Congregation at Charleston were
organized into a separate congregation at Ashley River. [Benedict, vol.II, p.125] The
following year, in 1737, thirty members moved from Welsh Tract church [mentioned earlier],
to South Carolina, and constituted the third congregation of Baptists in that state. David
Benedict gives the following account on page 130, vol.II, of A General History of the
This church was at first called Pedee, from the circumstance of its
being situated on the Great Pedee-river, 60 miles north of Georgetown; but when other
branches were settled on the same river, it became necessary to give this a more special
name, and accordingly the compound name of Welsh-Neck was selected, which is
descriptive of the people who founded the church, and of its local and peninsulated
situation. This church originated in the following manner: In the year 1737, the following
Baptist members of the Welsh-Tract church, which was then in the province of Pennsylvania,
but now in the State of Delaware, arrived here; viz. James James, Esq. and wife, and three
sons, Philip, who was their minister, Abel, Daniel, and their wives; Daniel Devonald and
wife, Thomas Evans and wife, one other of the same name and his wife; John Jones and his
wife, three of the Harrys, Thomas, David, and John and his wife; Samuel Wilds and wife,
Samuel Evans and wife, Griffith Jones and wife, and David and Thomas Jones and their
wives. These thirty members, with their children and households, settled at a place called
Catfish, on Pedee-river, but they soon removed about fifty miles higher up the same
river, where they made a permanent settlement, and where they all, except James James,
Esq. who died at Catfish, were embodied into a church, Jan. 1738.
Now, let us go back to Virginia, where a congregation was organized on
Opeckon Creek in 1751. Volume II, pages 26 and 27, of Benedict's History says:
In the year 1743, a number of the members of the General Baptist church
at Chesnut Ridge, in Maryland, removed to Virginia, and settled in this place; the most
noted of whom were Edward Hays and Thomas Yates. Soon after their removal, their minister,
Henry Loveall, followed them, and baptized about fifteen persons, whom he formed into a
church on the Arminian plan. Mr. Loveall, becoming licentious in his life, was turned out
of the church [Life of Gano, pp.40 and 50], and returned to Maryland; and the
church was broken up, or rather transformed into a church of Particular Baptists, in 1751,
by the advice and assistance of Messrs. James Miller, David Thomas, and John Gano, who
was, at that time, very young. Mr. Miller had visited this church in some of his former
journies, and had been instrumental of much good among them; and when they, in their
troubles occasioned by Loveall's misconduct, petitioned the Philadelphia Association for
some assistance, he and Mr. Thomas were appointed by the Association for the purpose. Mr.
Gano, though not appointed, chose to accompany them. The account of this transaction is
thus given by Mr. Gano: "We examined them, and found that they were not a regular
church. We then examined those who offered themselves for the purpose, and those who gave
us satisfaction, we received, and constituted a new church. Out of the whole who offered
themselves, there were only three received. Some openly declared, they knew they could not
give an account of experiencing a work of grace, and therefore need not offer. Others
stood ready to offer, if a church was formed. The three beforementioned were constituted,
and six more were baptized and joined with them.
The congregation at Opeckon united with the Philadelphia Association
soon afterwards, in the same year. Congregations in the Philadelphia Association continued
to send missionaries to Virginia, as well as many other places. Some of those emigrating
from England were Particular Baptists. As the population grew, and evangelistic efforts
continued, new congregations were organized. In 1760, the above mentioned David Thomas
moved, permanently, from Pennsylvania to Virginia, where he worked for thirty years, and
then moved to Kentucky. Imprisoned Preachers and Religious Liberty in Virginia, by
Lewis Peyton Little, says, on pages 76 and 77, that:
David Thomas was the first Baptist preacher to carry the gospel into
Orange County. This occurred in 1763. Then came Samuel Harriss in 1765. James Read became
an early co-laborer with Samuel Harriss, and by the labors of these three many converts
were made, among whom were Lewis Craig, Elijah Craig, Nathaniel Saunders and Lewis Conner.
"When Mr. Harris left them he exhorted them to be steadfast and
advised some in whom he discovered talents, to commence the exercise of their gifts, and
to hold meetings among themselves. * * * The young converts took his advice, and began to
hold meetings every Sabbath, and almost every night in the week, taking a tobacco house
for the meeting house." (Semple's History (1810),p.8)
On November 20, 1767, a congregation was organized with twenty-five
members, called Upper Spottsylvania. In November, 1770, Lewis Craig was ordained and
became pastor at Upper Spottsylvania. [A History of Kentucky Baptists by J.H.
Spencer, p.27, vol. I.] Baptist preachers were regularly whipped, jailed, fined, and
otherwise persecuted in Virginia at that time. On page 29 and 30, vol.I, of A History
of Kentucky Baptists, Spencer says:
As has been stated, Mr. Craig was ordained to the pastoral office, in
November, 1770. But this did not prevent his preaching abundantly in all the surrounding
country. In 1771, he was arrested in Caroline county, where he was committed to prison and
remained in jail three months. Before he left Virginia, he was instrumental in gathering
at least three churches in Dover Association-Tuckahoe, Upper King & Queen, and Essex.
During a revival in Upper Spotsylvania, in 1776, over one hundred were added to its
membership. This church prospered as long as Mr. Craig remained with it in its first
location. . . . . . . . . . .
Mr. Craig continued to serve Upper Spottsylvania church as pastor, till
1781, when he moved to Kentucky. So strongly was the church attached to him, that most of
its members came with him. At exactly what time in the fall they started has not been
ascertained. But Mr. Craig was on the Holsten river on the road leading from his former
home, by way of Cumberland Gap, to his destination in Kentucky, on the 28th of September,
1781; for on that day, he aided in constituting a church at that point, then in the
extreme western settlement in Virginia.
Dr. S.H. Ford, in the Christian Repository of March, 1856, says
of Craig and his traveling charge: "About the 1st of December, they passed the
Cumberland Gap, . . . and on the second Lord's day in December, 1781, they had arrived in
Lincoln (now Garrard Co.), and met as a Baptist church of Christ at Gilberts Creek. Old
William Marshall preached to them, with their pastor, the first Sunday after their
That congregation at Gilberts Creek was, as far as is known, the third
of its kind in Kentucky. The first, Severns Valley, (near Elizabethtown) had been
constituted earlier the same year, on June 18, 1781, with 18 members, and on the same day
ordained John Gerrard as pastor. On page 21, vol. I, of A History of Kentucky Baptists,
Spencer quotes Samuel Haycraft in the Christian Repository of April, 1857, in which
When this present wide-spread and favored country was but a wilderness;
when not a human habitation was to be found between Louisville (then called the Falls of
the Ohio,) and Green river, save a few families, who had ventured to Severn's Valley--a
dense forest, and unexplored--and commenced a rude settlement far from the haunts of
civilized man; there the lamented John Gerrard, a minister of God, came like John the
Baptist, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness," and finding a few
desciples of the Lord Jesus Christ like sheep without a shepherd, on the 18th day of June,
1781, they were collected together under a green sugar tree; and in the fear of God, in
church covenant gave themselves to the Lord and to one another, and were constituted a
Baptist Church, named after Severns Valley and the creek which flows through it.
Sixteen days later, another was organized. On page 23, vol. I, Spencer
Cedar Creek church was the second organized in Kentucky. It was
gathered by Joseph Barnett who was assisted in its constitution by John Gerrard, July 4,
1781. It is located in Nelson county, about five miles south-west from Bardstown.
Now, back to the congregation at Gilberts Creek, of which, on page 31,
vol.I, Spencer says that:
It continued to prosper under the care of Mr. Craig, till 1783, when he
and most of the members moved across Kentucky river, and formed South Elkhorn church. . .
Immediately after moving to Fayette county, in 1783, Mr. Craig gathered
South Elkhorn church, and was chosen its pastor. He occupied this position, about nine
years, laboring abundantly in all the surrounding country. During this period, Elkhorn
Association was formed, and many other preachers moved to that region of the country.
During the years that followed, many other congregations were
organized. One of the most sound congregations in existence today was organized just five
years later at Bryants Station, now written Bryan Station. On page 112, vol.I, of A
History of Kentucky Baptists, J.H.Spencer says:
The church at this point was probably gathered by Augustine Eastin, and
was constituted by Lewis Craig and other "helps," on the third Saturday in
April, 1786. The following eight persons were in the constitution. Augustine Eastin, Henry
Roach, Wm. Tomlinson, Wm. Ellis, sr., Joseph Rogers, Ann Rogers, Elizabeth Darnaby and
About a month later, Ambrose Dudley became the first pastor at Bryants
Station. Ambrose Dudley came from Spottsylvania County, Virginia. On page 113, vol.I,
Spencer says, of Dudley, that:
After preaching with much acceptance several years he moved with his
young family to Kentucky, arriving at his destination, six miles east of Lexington, May 3,
1786. Within a few weeks after his arrival he took charge of the church at Bryant's. Here
and at David's Fork church, and perhaps at other points, he ministered till the Master
took him to himself.
About two months later, a congregation was organized nearby, at Town
Fork. On page 115, vol.I, Spencer says:
It was constituted of about ten members, in July, 1786, by Lewis Craig,
John Taylor, Ambrose Dudley and Augustine Eastin.
John Gano, who has been earlier mentioned, became the first pastor at
Town Fork. These congregations, and others, continued to multiply, both near and far. Page
220 of A General History of the Baptist Denomination by David Benedict, vol.II,
The church at the Mouth of Sulphur Fork is the oldest now in existence
 in West-Tennessee. It was constituted in 1791, by the assistance of Elder Ambrose
Dudley and John Taylor, from the Elkhorn Association in Kentucky. These ministers by
request of the brethren in this place travelled not far from two hundred miles, mostly
through a wilderness, where they were continually exposed to be destroyed by the Indians.
This church was at first called Tennessee; it united with the Elkhorn Association, where
it continued until the Mero District Association was formed. This church remained alone in
the wilderness, having no other within more than a hundred miles of it, until 1794, when
that on White's Creek in Davidson county, about six miles to the north of Nashville, was
Lengthy as it has become, this is but a very brief sketch of history of
some of Jesus' congregations, hopefully arousing an increased awareness and appreciation
of how that He has propagated them, just as He promised, almost two-thousand years ago.
Although they have been despised, persecuted, and most of the time seen in the world's
eyes as insignificant, there has been a continued existence of Jesus' kind of congregation
ever since He built the first one as a pattern and declared, "the gates of hell shall
not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). It is very clear that it was Jesus'
intention that His kind of congregation continue until the day that all the saved are
called up to meet Him in the air. Matthew 16:18 sounds like Jesus was confident in His
ability to preserve His kind of congregation. He surely would not make such a bold
statement and undertake something that He would not be able to accomplish. To have done so
would have been to ignore His own advice in Luke 14:28-31, where He said:
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first,
and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath
laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make
war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with
ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
The counterfeiters of Christianity have assailed and taunted Jesus'
congregations with John Smyth and Roger Williams fables, "universal church"
theories, and other such absurdities, until the day has come when most, unaware of their
own heritage, and weak in the faith, have sold, or are about to sell, their birthright for
a mess of unionism and compromise.
If God is able to create man, and accomplish a continued existence of
the human race by procreation, through fire, flood, famine, and disease, for six thousand
years without any change of method, and is able to save lost sinners and keep them saved
throughout all eternity without any change of method, He is surely able to accomplish the
perpetuity and baptismal succession of His congregations without any change of method for
two thousand years! Is God sovereign or not? He is not just partly sovereign, He either
is, or is not. My God is sovereign! "He's got the whole wide world in his
Rather than be repetitious of matters already discussed in this and
previous chapters, allow me to simply re-state some conclusions drawn that are relative to
the subject at hand.
*Jesus built something that He called His ekklesia, which can
best be translated in English as assembly, or congregation.
*Jesus built His congregation as a pattern by which He would build all
*Jesus' kind of congregation is spoken of as a body, is compared to a
human body, is claimed to be a body of Christ, with Him and no other as its head.
*Jesus has given a commission exclusively to His bodies, with
the promise of perpetuity.
*A congregation ceases to be Jesus' congregation when He is no longer
its head or when it is no longer declaring the true gospel, in word or in picture,
regardless of its past virtue or the name over its door.
In following these conclusions, we are immediately led to the fact that
when one of Jesus' congregations compromises the truth of the gospel in its preaching,
either verbally, or in its practice or typology, regardless of man's opinion or
designation, that congregation forfeits its status as one of Jesus' congregations, as well
as its authority to administer a baptism that is acceptable to God. Now, this brings it
down to the point that we begin to feel uncomfortable, and many will say that that is
drawing the line too close, but what does God say? Has God passed some ammendments to His
Word, or is the Bible still to be our final authority for all faith and practice?
When a congregation receives a person as a member, whose baptism was
administered by another congregation, organization, or individual, that congregation is
declaring that that baptism in its entirety (administrator, mode, candidate, authority,
and design and purpose) is acceptable. When they declare that it is acceptable, and it is
not, they are declaring a lie. People often take offense at the "L" word, but it
is a Bible word. The receiving and approving congregation is declaring that the
"picture preaching" of the administrator is acceptable, and in doing so,
declaring that they are alike, that they are fellows, that one is as good as the other in
that respect. Any congregation knowingly, without repentence and rectification
of the matter, making such a false declaration, CANNOT be Jesus' kind of congregation,
though they may have been yesterday.
The same conclusion must be drawn concerning pulpit affiliation. When a
congregation knowingly and willfully places someone in their pulpit who, by their
affiliation with some denomination, professes belief in, or allowance for, a salvation
that is not wholly of grace (obtained by praying through, holding on, holding out,
baptism, membership, sacraments, easy believism, or any other works of man), that
congregation is showing approval of the same and is partaker of the evil deeds. To be
consistent, I believe we must say the same for those who "minister in song." The
same reasoning must be applied in the sending and supporting of missionaries.
Participation and dabbling in such practices must be considered as spiritual adultery,
just as the idolatry of the Israelites. Any carelessness, compromise, and indiscretion in
those regards should be considered as conduct unbecoming of any engaged to be the bride of
Whenever those practices surface within a body, where there still
exists a congregation of true disciples who are committed to going "fully after the
LORD," there will be a reaction. The true disciples will rebuke and try to
counsel and correct those in error. If the counsel is accepted, repentance and
rectification will take place. If the admonition is not accepted, those in error are to be
rejected (Titus 3:10, Romans 16:17, and II Timothy 3:5). If the true disciples find
themselves the minority, and their admonition rejected, they must "come out from
among them," and be separate (II Corinthians 6:17), and the Head, and the authority
will go with them. That is what happened to the Novations, Donatists, and others, in the
third century. Their refusal to accept the defective baptism of those in error resulted in
the label of Anabaptist, which has been given the Lord's congregations all the way into
the nineteenth century.
Study Revelation 2:1-7, with the interpretation given in Revelation
1:20. In those verses, Jesus dictated a letter addressed to the pastor of the
congregation at Ephesus. In that letter, Jesus made the accusation that, "thou hast
left thy first love." The first love of any person that has been saved by the grace
of God should be a love for God and all that He is. I John 4:19 says, "We love
him, because he first loved us." We can not really love the real Jesus, the Christ,
the Son of the living God, without a jealous and fervent love for truth. In John 14:6,
Jesus declared that He, Himself, is the truth. The love for truth, especially in
regard to salvation and the gospel, will be directly proportional to our love for God. The
plea and advice given to that pastor was, "Remember therefore from whence thou art
fallen, and repent, and do the first works" (preach and uphold all the truth).
The consequence of not doing so was that Jesus would remove His congregation from that
place, "quickly," and we can be sure that Jesus, and its authority, went with
Just the fact someone calls something "the gospel" does not
make it the true gospel. Just the fact that someone calls something "baptism"
does not make it acceptable to God. Just the fact that someone calls something "a
church" does not make it the Lord's.
So, what happens when a true congregation of Jesus' shows its approval
of the preaching or the baptism of something that claims to be the same, uses the same
name, and claims to be of like faith and order, but are known to be guilty of the
errors discussed above? I believe the answer is obvious. Irregular congregations are not
to be given approval or recognition by Jesus' congregations. We are to "mark"
them, and "avoid" them. The scriptural reaction is:
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and
offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own
belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
Before going this far with the subject, someone will usually say,
"Perhaps you have not considered all the implications of this." I have. I have
seriously considered the implications (and there are many) of this stand for the past
fifteen years, and have made an intense study of the subject for five years. We had better
be concerned with the implications of rejecting and disobeying an unchanging God's
instructions in such an important matter! What will be God's reaction to those who are
willing to advance a false gospel? "The pillar and ground of the truth" (I
Timothy 3:15) must uphold the truth. We must take side with God, even if it causes the sky
to fall on the front steps, and causes the creek to run backward.
Truth cannot be altered. Our fear of implications or disregard for
reality does not change the truth. It appears that these doctrines are often shunned or
rejected out of fear that one's own baptism will be proven irregular. If such information
were to ever be made manifest that would indicate that my baptism is improper, I pray that
God will grant me the soundness of mind to get it done right and to not worry about
Congregations finding their garments dirtied by their affairs with
false religion and false doctrine must "Remember therefore from whence thou art
fallen, and repent, and do the first works." For disciples finding themselves in
unrepentant company, it is high time to "come out from among them, and be ye
separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. . .
Many have assumed that Jesus has given His congregations all power in
heaven and in earth, but He has not. Jesus declared, "All power is given unto me in
heaven and in earth," but He has never transferred or assigned all power to
anyone or anything. He has given much power to His kind of congregation, but He is still
the head. Jesus certainly has not authorized His congregations, or anyone else, to
disobey, or to change the rules as we go. As already seen, Jesus not only gave His
congregations the exclusive authority to teach and to baptize, but has commissioned them
to. They are, of course, by design, authorized to do such things as purchase and own
buildings and property, use electricity, choose furniture, have a bank account, and other
things of expediency, but never to disobey, or to teach false doctrine. Jesus'
congregations have the authority to bind only in accordance with what has been bound in
heaven. They have the authority to loose only in accordance with what has been loosed in
heaven. Our binding and loosing must be confined to the limits predetermined by God in
heaven (Matthew 16:19, 18:18).
Many, many congregations and pastors have been seduced into apostasy by
peer pressure, association, pride, and ambition, resulting from participation in various
schemes that men have invented for the execution of mission work, training, pension plans,
and other programs by boards, or co-operative arrangements rather than adhering to Jesus'
method. Jesus authorized His congregations, exclusively, as the only kind of organization
authorized to do His work. They are His bodies. Jesus has not given His congregations the
authority, nor permission, to delegate, or re-assign that authority to anything other than
one of His congregations.
To be consistent with the belief in an unchanging God, with unchanging
ways, and an unchanging plan of salvation, we are forced to admit that the qualifications,
consequences, and implications of apostasy are the same today as they were when the New
Testament was written. God has not issued a "grandfather clause", nor does He
make any exceptions just because someone continues to use (abuse) a good name. Those who
refuse to have Christ as their head today are just as much in error as those from whom the
Novations and Donatists withdrew in the third century.
Since the succession of authority is lost in apostacy, and in
consideration of the facts of history, it is conclusive that the only true congregations
of Jesus in existence today are found among those known as Baptists, and sadly, we must
say, most congregations by that name have also fallen away.
If we use the New Testament as the "measuring stick," the
latest date that we could credit the Catholics, either Roman or Greek, with any
possibility of having any succession of authority is about the year 251, before they were
ever known as catholic, when the irregular and apostate congregations, being rebuked for
their errors, refused to repent and submit to Christ as their head and choosing, instead,
to do as they pleased. In 313, only sixty-two years later, they openly acknowledged
Constantine as their head rather than Christ.
None of the Protestant denominations existed until the sixteenth
century, with whatever authority they may claim coming from the Roman Catholics who had no
authority from God, and possessing a "baptism" that was no baptism.
The Lutheran Church was started in 1520 by Martin Luther, with Roman
Catholic "baptism." The Episcopal, or Church of England, was started in 1534 by
King Henry VIII, with Roman Catholic "baptism." The Presbyterian Church was
started two years later, in 1536, by John Calvin, also with Roman Catholic
"baptism." The Reformed Churches originated late in the sixteenth centuy, being,
as the name would suggest, a product of the Reformation, with a "baptism"
received from the Roman Catholics or Presbyterians. Congregationalism was started in 1580
or 1581, by Robert Browne, in Norwich, England, with Church of England
"baptism." The Methodist Church was started sometime around 1740, by John and
Charles Wesley, with Church of England "baptism."
It was noticed earlier, the presence of those who were called General
Baptists, in England, who were of Arminian persuasion, and the earlier appearance of some
in Virginia, but, as David Benedict wrote, in 1813, on pages 410 and 411, volume II, of A
General History of the Baptist Denomination:
. . . there has always been some churches and many individuals, who
have objected to some of the strong points of Calvinism, or adopted them with some
peculiar modifications; but no very considerable party of this character arose, until a
little more than thirty years ago, when one was founded by Elder Benjamin Randal, of New
Durham, New-Hampshire. This Elder Randal, as his biographer observes, was led, about 1780,
"to object against the whole doctrine of John Calvin, with respect to eternal,
particular, personal, unconditional election and reprobation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . A number soon fell in with his views, broke off from the Calvinistick churches in
New-Hampshire and the District of Maine, and from a small beginning they have arisen to a
large community, which is scattered in different parts of Maine, New-Hampshire, Vermont,
New-York, the Canadas, and in some other places.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . This party was as strenuous for
believers' baptism as before; they were, like all new sects, very sanguine in their new
discoveries, and from a distinguished article in their doctrinal system, they were
denominated Free-will Baptists.
They, in teaching that salvation is obtained or lost as much or more by
man's will and works, reject the salvation taught by Jesus and the apostles, and thereby
teach a "gospel" that is no gospel, and administer a "baptism" that is
The Christian Church, or Disciples of Christ, was started in the early
1800's by the work of Alexander Campbell. World Book Encyclopedia (1985) says, with
a note that the article was "Critically reviewed by the Disciples of Christ,"
Disciples of Christ is a Protestant denomination that developed in the
United States during the early 1800's. Its full name is the Christian Church (Disciples of
Christ). Its founders included three men of Presbyterian background--Thomas Campbell and
his son Alexander in Pennsylvania and Barton W. Stone in Kentucky. . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . .
Thomas and Alexander Campbell were Presbyterians who came from
Scotland, to Pennsylvania, and, adopting immersion as the only proper mode of baptism,
sought and recieved a supposed Baptist baptism. In 1823, Alexander Campbell began the
monthly publication of The Christian Baptist by which he sowed much discord and
false doctrine, especially throughout Pennsylvania and Kentucky. On pages 609 and 610 of A
History of Kentucky Baptists, volume I, J.H. Spencer says:
Up to August, 1829, Mr. Campbell was a member of a society, recognized
as a Baptist church. This church was a member of Mahoning Baptist Association. Mr.
Campbell's influence was so great, both in the church of which he was a member, and the
small association to which it belonged, that, notwithstanding his known and publicly
avowed heterodoxy, neither had he been disciplined by his church for heresy, nor his
church by its association for retaining him as a member. The Baptist denomination was
therefore, held responsible for his teaching. The Baptists, generally, were becoming very
restless under this exceedingly odious responsibility, while his disciples were daily
multiplying in the Baptist churches, and becoming more bold and confident in proclaiming
his heresies,under the pseudonym of the "ancient gospel."
In August, 1829, Beaver Association, a small Baptist fraternity in
Pennsylvania, met at Providence meeting-house, near Pittsburg, and, after discussing the
subject of Mr. Campbell's teaching, resolved to withdraw fellowship from Mahoning
Association, on account of its maintaining, or countenancing, the following sentiments, or
1. They maintain that there is no promise of salvation without baptism.
2. That baptism should be administered to all who say that Jesus Christ
is the son of God, without examination on any other point.
3. That there is no direct operation of the Holy Spirit, on the mind,
prior to baptism.
4. That baptism produces the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy
5. That the Scriptures are the only evidence of interest in Christ.
6. That obedience places it in God's power to elect to salvation.
7. That no creed is necessary for the church but the Scriptures as they
8. That all baptized persons have a right to administer the ordinance
This is believed to have been the first official declaration of
nonfellowship for Mr. Campbell and his followers. The other associations corresponding
with Mahoning, withdrew fellowship from it, during the same, and the following month.
The following pages of Spencer's History relate the like action taken
by congregations and associations throughout Virginia and Kentucky, where the Campbellite
heresy had infiltrated some of the Baptist congregations in their areas. Although Campbell
and his disciples practiced the proper mode (immersion only), and some of the
congregations might have once had authority, in teaching and practicing the
immersion for obtaining salvation, they rejected Jesus' salvation by grace through faith
alone, and in so doing, rejected His authority as well. In immersing a person thinking
himself to be a lost sinner until the act was completed, they were immersing an improper
candidate. They were and are, therefore, immersing an improper candidate for an improper
purpose with improper authority.
At about the same time, the "Hard-Shell Baptists" were
started in much the same way as the Campbellites by the work of Daniel Parker. Not only is
being "missionary" an integral and inseparable part of the commission given by
Jesus to His congregations in Matthew 28:19-20, mission activity is seen to have been
practiced in every age by His true congregations. Spencer, speaking of the Baptists in
Kentucky in regard to this subject and period of time, on page 581, volume I, says that in
1820, "The spirit of missions had been greatly revived and the churches were
contributing more liberally to Foreign Missions than those of any other portion of the
United states." In 1820, and again in 1824, Daniel Parker published a 38 page
Pamphlet titled, "A Public Address to the Baptist Society," in opposition to the
Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. Two years later, about 1826, Parker published a
pamphlet on his "Doctrine of the Two-Seeds," and in 1829, he began a monthly
publication called The Church Advocate, devoted to the opposition of missions.
[Spencer, pages 576-578, volume I.] The spread of Parker's propaganda resulted in the
splitting of some congregations and associations, about the year 1832, with the seceders
adopting the Anti-mission, Two-seedism, and Non-resurrectionism doctrines of Parker. In The
Baptist Succession, D.B. Ray says, on page 94, that:
In Tennessee the separation occurred later. Dr. John M. Watson, says:
"After our painful separation from the Missionaries in 1836, a number of churches, in
the bounds of the Old Concord Association, met together and formed the Stone River
Association. We had then, as was generally supposed, a strong and happy union; but,
alas! there was an element of heresy incorporated in that body as bad, if not worse, than
that from which we had just withdrawn." [Old Baptist Test.,p.36, By Dr. John
They, in departing from the "one faith,"departed from the
"one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5) as well.
The Mormon Church was founded by Joseph Smith in Fayette, New York, on
April 6, 1830. In 1834, after two name changes, they settled on the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints. [Mormonism by Kurt Van Gorden, page 11] They believe that God
continues to reveal and inspire new truths having equal authority with, and even
superseding or amending the Bible and previous revelations. They believe and teach that
the atonement of Jesus Christ alone is not sufficient for salvation, but must be obtained
by works of man. Page 670 of Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie says:
Full salvation is attained by virtue of knowledge, truth,
righteousness, and all true principles. Many conditions must exist in order to make such
salvation available to men. Without continuous revelation, the ministering of angels, the
working of miracles, the prevalence of gifts of the spirit, there would be no salvation.
There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
That must be a different "Jesus Christ" than the one who
I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father,
but by me. (John 14:6)
In 1863, the Seventh-day Adventists were organized by followers of
William Miller, a so-called "Baptist minister," who had predicted that the
second coming of Christ would occurr in the spring of the year 1844. [The World Book
Encyclopedia. "Critically reviewed by the Seventh-day Adventists"]
Regardless of the background of William Miller, or any of his followers, they, in
believing and teaching of man's works for the obtaining of salvation, rather than works as
a result of salvation, teach another "gospel" which is no gospel.
The Pentecostal and Holiness denominations have originated in the
present century, within the lifetime and memory of persons still living. As The World
Book Encyclopedia (1985) says:
Pentecostal churches trace their origins to revivals of tongue-speaking
that occurred at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kans., in 1901, and at the Azusa Street
Mission in Los Angeles in 1906. Similar revivals also took place in Great Britain and in
Europe, Asia, and Latin America during the early 1900's. Since the 1930's, the Pentecostal
denominations have grown rapidly. The Pentecostals are sometimes called Christianity's
"Third Force," alongside Roman Catholicism and traditional Protestantism.
Also, The World Book Encyclopedia, in an article titled
"Assemblies of God," which it says was "Critically reviewed by the
Assemblies of God," says:
Assemblies of God is the largest Pentecostal religious denomination in
the world. The church developed from a revival movement in the early 1900's and was
organized in Hot Springs, Ark., in 1914.
Of "Churches of God," The World Book Encyclopedia
Churches of God consist of about 15 religious groups in the United
States that use the same name--Church of God--but differ in faith and practice. Most of
these groups trace their origins to the Pentecostal, Holiness, or Adventist movements.
And, The World Book Encyclopedia says, of "The Church of
God in Christ," that it:
. . . is a Christian denomination that bases its faith on the doctrines
of the apostles as recieved on Pentecost (Acts 2:4). Bishop C.H. Mason and others founded
the church in 1895. They began preaching that there could be no salvation without
holiness. The Baptist Church expelled them because of this teaching. Members believe that
the church name was revealed to the bishop in 1897 from a reference in I Thessalonians
2:14. In 1907, a church meeting in Memphis, Tenn., formed the First General Assembly of
the Church of God in Christ.
Notice that although they profess and teach some sort of belief in
Jesus as the Son of God and Saviour, each of these denominations adds some kind of works
for the obtaining of salvation. That makes their faith a different faith. Things cannot be
different and still be the same. Ephesians 4:5 teaches that there is but "one
faith" that is acceptable to the "One God and Father of all" (v.6), and
only "one baptism" that can declare that faith in a manner that God will
approve. That "one faith" and "one baptism" are the only ones we
should approve of, also. I am not saying that there are none saved that are affiliated
with one of those denominations. The contention is that if they are saved, they are not
declaring it properly. They are not giving God all the glory, and by that improper
declaration, people are being misled about a matter of eternal life or death. Certainly,
those who believe what they claim, that their faith is not in Jesus alone, but in Jesus
plus their own works, or the works or merit of their "church," or any other
formula, do not possess a saving faith. I realize that the making of such a
statement will procure much hatred, but I would rather be hated for just a little while
for telling the truth, than to be hated for eternity for concealing the truth.
I wish that this narrative of departure from the faith could be
concluded here, but it cannot. Although the Lord's true congregations have for many years
been found among those called Baptists, the present situation is that most have departed
rather than to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the
saints" (Jude 3). Observation and investigation will show that many congregations who
still hang on to the name of Baptist are filled with teachers, deacons, and even pastors
who will concede that "we are all (denominations) pretty much alike, and have only
minor differences." Many insist that, "The Baptists started with John Smyth, in
the seventeenth century." Most have accepted a "universal church" theory,
and many insist that one immersion is as good as another. Many will agree that some other
congregation of the same name teaches false doctrine, or "don't know what they
believe," but are eager to recognize their baptism. Most will accept the baptism of
anything called a "Baptist church," even though it recognizes and accepts the
baptisms administered by other denominations. Many send all their mission money to
unscriptural and ungodly missionaries, schools, and programs which they have no control
of. Many praise and glorify their adulterous and scandelous members, instead of
disciplining them. Many show no reservation or hesitation about inviting someone from
another denomination to fill their pulpit. If the Bible means anything at all, if it is
worth the paper it is written on, that is not Jesus' kind of ekklesia. We can see
in the New Testament that Jesus' congregations can sometimes be terribly in error about
some things, and ignorant about some things, and still be His; but when God's simple plan
of salvation gets changed, it becomes the congregation of someone else.
The authority to baptize must come from God. God gave John the Baptist
the authority to baptize. God could have given direct authority, if He wanted to, to
Philip to baptize the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, (we can certainly see that He made all
the other arrangements for the occasion), but I believe that Philip had been granted the
authority by the congregation of which he was a servant and member, to conduct such a
matter in that manner. The same can be said about Ananias, who baptized Paul. Acts 9:17-18
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his
hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way
as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the
And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he
received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
But, I believe that in this case, also, the most probable is that
Ananias was pastor of Jesus' congregation at Damascus, and had been granted the authority
by that congregation to baptize those he thought to be proper candidates. As has already
been shown, Jesus gave His kind of congregation the authority to teach and baptize. If the
Bible is to be our final authority for all faith and practice, we must reject any and all
revelation or authority claimed to have been received contradictory to the Bible, or since
it was written. The fact that obedience in following our Lord in proper baptism is basic
and elementary to any further following or walk with Him insists that only properly
baptized persons can properly be a member of one of Jesus' congregations. If a
congregation must consist of saved and properly baptized persons joined together and
teaching the true gospel in order to qualify as one of Jesus' congregations, then any
congregation that is made out of persons who obtained their "baptism" from an
improper source cannot be one of Jesus' congregations, no matter how saved they may be,
nor how sound their teachings are otherwise. And, a true congregation can never evolve
from it. That is a conclusive fact, and no quantity of time or variety of circumstance and
opinion can change it.
It is important that the doctrine of baptismal succession be taught.
The consequence of neglect is disaster. A doctrine that is neglected by one generation
will be abandoned, ridiculed, and rejected by the next. The result will be a congregation
that is highly susceptible to the ever intensifying efforts of counterfeit Christianity to
seduce and defile them. Where Baptist succession is not taught and defended, alien
immersion is likely to soon be accepted. Someone may say, "As long as I'm there, it
will not." That brings up a good point. You may not be, and if you are, you may be so
much in a minority that it will be the occasion of your departure. Baptist succession must
be taught, not just on Wednesday night, not just to a fourth of the congregation, not just
to the older folks, and not just once in fifteen or twenty years.
Notice that each of the Protestant denominations (Jesus' congregations
are not Protestant) have held on to "something old" from the Roman
Catholics, some sort of works for salvation. All, except Jesus' congregations that have
earnestly contended for the faith once delivered to the saints, have invented
"something new" that is contradictory to God's Word. Most, even many that I
believe are still Jesus' congregations (if they will repent and turn from their error),
have "something borrowed" from the Roman Catholics, and that is the
"Christian" holidays that were adopted from paganism, and change the truth of
God into a lie. It seems that there are a blue million gimmicks, plans, programs, methods,
and devices that have come along to distract congregations from doing "the first
works" (Revelation 2:5). There is much talk these days about the bride of Christ. The
bride of Christ will not be dressed in "something old, something new, something
borrowed, something blue"!
All "guests" (Matthew 22:11-13) will be required to have on a
"wedding garment" which is the imputed righteousness of God (Romans 4:6). No one
will be present except those whom God has clothed with the work of Christ. All efforts of
our own to cloth ourselves will be worthless, as far as gaining admittance into heaven and
attending the wedding. But, notice in Revelation 19:7-8, that, the bride of Christ will
not only be clothed in the righteousness of God, but will have additional clothing, also.
It is seen in verse 7, that, the Lamb's wife will have "made herself ready." Not
only will the bride be clothed in the righteousness of God, but it is seen in verse 8 that
she will "be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white," which "is the
righteousness of saints." If we look at the "Textus Receptus" (the original
Greek), or in Strong's Concordance, it is seen that the word translated,
"righteousness" in Revelation 19:8 to describe "the righteousness of
saints" is different to the Greek word translated, "righteousness" to
describe "the righteousness which is by faith," as in Hebrews 11:7. The Greek
word in Revelation 19:8 is dikaioma (Strong's # 1345), which Thayer's Greek-English
Lexicon of the New Testament defines:
1. that which has been deemed right so as to have the force of law;
a. what has been established and ordained by law, an ordinance. . . .
The Greek word in Hebrews 11:7 is dikaiosune (Strong's # 1343),
which Thayer's Lexicon defines:
1. in the broad sense, the state of him who is such as he ought to
be, righteousness (Germ. Rechtbeschaffenheit); the condition
acceptable to God. . . .
Berry's Interlinear Greek-English New Testament translates the
word in Revelation 19:8 as "righteousnesses" (plural). The bride of Christ will
be made up of persons who not only have been saved by God's grace, but have also, by God's
grace, gone "fully after the LORD," no matter what the cost.
In 1554, Cardinal Hosius, a Catholic, and chairman of the Council of
If the truth of religion were to be judged of by the readiness and
cheerfulness which a man of any sect shows in suffering, then the opinions and persuasions
of no sect can be truer or surer than those of the Anabaptist, since there have been none
for these twelve hundred years past that have been more grievously punished.
(My Church by J.B. Moody, p.314)
Cardinal Hosius was admitting that the Anabaptists had existed since at
least 354 A.D.
John Clark Ridpath, a Methodist who was Professor of History at DePauw
University, and author of the three volume Cyclopaedia of Universal History, A
History of the United States, and Ridpath's History of the World wrote, in a
letter to W.A. Jarrell, author of Baptist Church Perpetuity or History, that:
I should not readily admit that there was a Baptist church as far back
as A.D. 100, though without doubt there were Baptists then, as all Christians were then
(Baptist Church Perpetuity or History by W.A. Jarrell, p.59)
In 1819, two men, both members of the Dutch Reformed Church, were
appointed by the King of Holland to write a history of the Dutch Reformed Church. They
were J.J. Dermout, the Kings chaplain, and A. Ypeij, a professor of theology in Groningen.
They wrote History of the Dutch Reformed Church, which, on page 148 of Volume I,
. . . 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.