Alien Baptism and The Baptist
By William Manilus Nevins
The Story of Alien Baptism goes back to about 200 A.D. It is a thrilling story that has to do with the history of the Baptist from that day down to the present. Some years ago, the author was asked by the State Mission Board of Kentucky to prepare a tract on Why I Am A Baptist And Not a Roman Catholic. In the preparation of that tract he discovered that there was no book in existence that fully covered the story of Alien Baptism from its beginning and decided to prepare such a book. This book was a result of his study and investigation.
In 1854, the Presbyterian General Assembly met in Buffalo, and this question was presented to the them for their decision:
There was a heated discussion over this question. The majority report of the committee was that all ordinations at the hands of the Romish priests were invalid, because the Roman Cafholic Church is no church of Christ, but anti-christ, and therefore the baptisms and ordinations of such an apostate body are null and void.
The minority report, on the other hand, contended that if they denied the church of Rome to be a true church of Christ they unchurched themselves, since they came out of Rome, and received their baptisms and ordinations there from. Finding they could not extricate themselves from the dilemma they moved an indefinite postponement of the question.
Baptists are and have ever been faced with the same question- Are the baptisms and ordinations of Rome and the Pedo-baptists valid? But since Baptists did not come out of Rome, neither out of the Protestant bodies, the contention of the minority report is not pertinent to us, and we can answer squarely, "No." This has been the Baptist answer for 18 centuries of marvelous history. If you are interested in this story, you will read these pages, and the author hopes you will receive as much pleasure in reading them as he in preparing them.
The author acknowledges his debt to the following books and their authors for much of the information contained in these pages:
Baptist History- G. H.Orchard
A History of the Baptists- John T. Christian
History of Alien Immersion- J.H. Grime
Pedobaptist and Campbellite Immersion-A.C. Dayton.
Regular Baptism - S.M.Brown
Brown-Porter Debate-J.J. Poner
Baptists In History-V. P.Harvey
Kentucky Baptist History-D. Nowlin
The Church That Jesus Built-Roy Mason
Pillars Of Orthodoxy-Ben M. Bogard
In addition might be mentioned those standard histories that maybe found in the libraries, The Ante-Nicean Fathers, Gibbons Rome, Mosheim's History, and many others too numerous to mention.
IntroductionWilliam Dudley Nowlin
Here is a book of real merit, written by the Rev. W. M. Nevins, who needs no introduction to Baptist people, he having been pastor of important churches in Louisville, Lexington, Kentucky; Texas, and Washington, D. C. He is a well known Baptist minister.
It gives me genuine pleasure to write the Introduction to this very timely volume. First, because of its need. It is a book very much needed at the present time, as many of our people are not familiar with the struggle, the suffering, and the deprivations of our fathers to give us the heritage of freedom of conscience which we enjoy today.
It gives me pleasure in the second place because of the thorough and adequate treatment of the subject by the author. This is the only book on the subject of alien immersion which has come under my observation, and I have several, that goes into the subject thoroughly; giving its Origin, its History, and its Fruits, but in this book these are all well developed and thoroughly established by indisputable historic evidence.
Dr. Nevins, the author, has done a masterful piece of work in producing this volume. He has searched church history back to the very beginning of Christianity, and the establishing of the New Testament church, He has then followed the subject in chronological order through many centuries, in many countries, down to the present time.
The Argument of The Book
Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle. "See," saith He, "that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount" Deb. 8:5.
There are forty chapters in the book of Exodus, and sixteen and one half of them have to do only with the building of the tabernacle. God called Moses into the mountain to give him instructions as to how to build it, and he was there forty days and nights. During this time, God gave Moses explicit directions, down to the smallest details. Nothing was overlooked or omitted. These details seem so trivial to the reader that he is tempted to skip a part of it, as of no value, and go on to something of more interest. But they were not trivial in the mind of God. For forty days and nights He kept Moses in the mountain going over these details, giving him definite instructions, making out a pattern, and when He had finished, He gave Moses a solemn charge which we have placed at the head of this chapter.
"See," saith He, "that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount."
Moses certainly did not regard the details as trivial. When the solemn task was done, Moses speaks of it in these words:
"Thus was finished all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting; and the children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses: so did they. And they brought the tabernacle unto Moses, the tent, and all its furniture, its clasps, its boards, its bars, and its pillars, and its sockets; and the covering of rams' skins, dyed red, and the covering of seal skins, and the veil of the screen; the ark of the testimony, and the staves, thereof, and the mercy seat: the table, all the vessels thereof, and the shew bread, the pure candlestick, the lamps thereof, even the lamps to be set in order, and all the vessels thereof, and the oil for the light; and the golden altar, and the anointing oil, and the sweet incense, and the screen for the door of the tent, the brazen altar and its grating of brass, its staves, and all its vessels, the laver and its base, the hanging of the court, its pillars, and its sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court, the cords thereof, and the pins thereof, and all the instruments of the service of the tabernacle, for the tent of the meeting; the finely wrought garments for ministering in the holy place, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of the sons to minister as the priest's office. According to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did all the work. And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them."
Many questions arise, as we meditate on this scene of the building of the tabernacle. Why did God keep Moses in the mount forty days and nights? Why a divine pattern down to explicit details? Why a solemn charge to make all things according to the pattern? Why the extreme care of Moses to check up when the work was finished, and see that all things were according to the divine pattern? Again, we might stop to ask, what if Moses had failed to carry out the divine instructions, what then? There would have been two tragic consequences: he would have been guilty of an act of disobedience, and the divine pattern embodied in the tabernacle would have been destroyed. I have called these tragic consequences. How tragic, let us stop to consider. Look at the first:
He would have been guilty of an act of disobedience.
The human race has had to learn in the hard school of experience the tragic consequences of disobedience to God's commands. Milton in his immortal Paradise Lost makes this the theme of his tragic epic, when, in the opening lines, he says:
Moses was later to learn of the tragic consequences of disobedience in his own life. God told him to speak to the rock in the wilderness that the children of Israel might have water to drink. Instead, in his anger, he smote the rock. God did not discredit him before the people by refusing to give water. The water gushed forth, but God refused Moses the privilege of entering the promised land, which had been the dream of his life. One of the saddest pictures in all the Bible is that of Moses standing on the crest of Mount Nebo, surveying the land:
"And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah unto the hinder sea, and the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees unto Zoar. And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which 1 aware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thy eyes, but thou shah not go over thither. So Moses, the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in the valley of the land of Moab, over against Beth liver, but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day" Deut. 34:1 6.
How many thousands since then have been deprived of the realization of their fondest desires because of disobedience to the will of God, only eternity can tell. If we realized the awful consequences of disobedience, we would search the scriptures day and night to learn more fully what the will of God is.
Another example of the consequence of disobedience is the case of Achan. After the burial of Moses, under the leadership of Joshua, Israel crossed the Jordan, captured the stronghold of Jericho, and marched triumphantly on to the capture of Ai. Flushed with victory, they expected an easy conquest. But they were ignominiously defeated, and driven back with great slaughter. Why? The answer is in one word disobedience. God had forbidden them to take of the booty, but Achan, seeing a beautiful Babylonish garment and a wedge of gold, coveted them, and took them, and hid them in the ground under his tent. And not until Achan and his entire family lay stark dead under the cairn of stones that they heaped on his body, was God's anger turned away, and God's army able to march on to victory. Achan's sin not only brought death and disaster to himself, but to his family also, and to the whole army of Israel. How careful ought we be to carry out what may seem to be the most trivial command of God. The resolve of Cotton Mather ought to be the resolve of every one of us:
"Let a precept be never so difficult, and never so distasteful to flesh and blood, yet if it is God's command, my soul says, `It is good, let me obey it till I die.'"
Again: if Moses had failed, the divine truth embodied in the construction of the tabernacle would have been destroyed. All that God had in mind to embody in that pattern, no finite mind can fully comprehend. But we can rest in the assurance that there was a divine purpose in everything that was in the pattern. The measurements, the materials, the arrangement of the courts, every piece of furniture, every bar, pin and bolt had its divine significance and meaning. Permit a suggestion of at least one or two things that were in the picture:
First, the holiness of God as contrasted with the sinfulness of man, and the consequent difficult approach of sinful man unto the holy God. Briefly, the arrangement of the tabernacle was this: an open court, a holy place, and the holy of holies. Into the court the people came with their sin and trespass offerings. Into the holy place only the priests might enter. Into the holy of holies only the high priest might go, and then only once a year, and not without blood, which he offered for himself and the sins of the people. And that picture, through all the ages, was to show forth the holiness of God, and the exceeding sinfulness of man, and the extreme difficulty of sinful man's approach unto a righteous and holy God.
Ah me, how that lesson is needed in the world today! God is no longer high end exalted and holy, as Isaiah saw him when King Uzziah died, and man is no longer conscious of his exceeding sinfulness in the sight of God. It was well for Israel then, it is well for us today, that we have this divine picture, that Moses was faithful to the command of God to carry out to the least details the building of the tabernacle.
Second, that there is no approach to God save by the blood of Christ. The blood shed upon the altar was typical of the blood of Jesus. The holy God cannot be approached by sinful man except his sin be purged. "Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin." From the beginning, the devil bas been trying to do away with the blood of Jesus. He induced Cain to bring a bloodless sacrifice, and God was not pleased. He did his best to get Moses to change the plan of the tabernacle, that the blood might be left out. All through the ages he has been proclaiming salvation by character, salvation by works, salvation by baptism, salvation by church membership. If Moses had left the blood out, he would have destroyed the pattern, and he would have been playing into the hands of the devil.
What is true of the tabernacle, is also eminently true of baptism. We have the divine pattern, and we must be true to that pattern in the smallest details, else we shall be guilty of disobedience, and we shall destroy the truth that baptism stands for and pictures. In the following chapters, we shall study the pattern of baptism, and see how through the years the followers of Christ have carried out the instructions given for the observance of baptism. Have we been faithful, or unfaithful in keeping this ordinance as God delivered it unto us?
As there was a divine pattern for the tabernacle, so there is in the Bible a pattern for baptism. In this pattern there are four elements:
Or it is better stated:
As an example of a baptism where we find these four elements, let us look at the baptism of Jesus. It is one of the most beautiful incidents in all the Bible:
"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan unto John to be baptized of him. But John would have hindered Him, saying `I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?' But Jesus answering said unto him, `Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he suffered Him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water, and lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying:
"This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." It is some sixty miles from Nazareth to the Jordan where John was baptizing. Nazareth lies in the foothills of the mountains. There are many beautiful streams and crystal pools about Nazareth where one could be baptized. But when the time came for Jesus to be baptized, He turned from these beautiful streams and pools, and walked sixty long miles, that His baptism might fulfill all righteousness.
The Jordan is not as beautiful as some rivers. It is rapid, oftentimes turbid, and in some places deep and treacherous. Naaman complained about dipping in it seven times at the command of the prophet Elisha Yet on the banks of this ancient river took place a scene the like of which had never before been witnessed, nor shall ever be again in all the world. Here, waist deep in the waters, stood the Baptist in his coat of camel's hair: by his side, the Son of God: on the bank the multitudes who had come out to hear John preach. Above, in the heavens, looking down, God the Father, speaking in a voice that was heard by all, and, descending from heaven, the Spirit of God, like a dove, lighting upon the Son, who had just been baptized in the river. And poured over all, a blue, blue sky, with soft, white clouds floating over, and a brilliant sun, pouring his glory down on the river, the distant mountains of Moab, the ancient city of Jericho across the plains, and the Dead Sea, where the restless river fell at last to rest from its mad plunging down from the Lebanon Mountains.
It was in the heat of a noonday after a plunge in the Dead Sea, that a party of us stood at this reputed spot, some years ago, and dreamed of that hour when the Son of God, and the Father, and the Holy Spirit, all by their presence, testified to the importance of this transcendent act, ordained of God, obeyed by the Son, approved by the Holy Spirit, and commanded by our Lord in the great commission to be obeyed till the end of the age.
In the light of all this, who shall ever say again that baptism is not important, and can be observed, or changed, or omitted at the caprice of the individual, or by the authority of a body that calls itself the church of Christ? It is of tremendous importance, and we must ever bear in mind that if any one of the four elements is wanting we have defective baptism, and not scriptural baptism. Just as God said to Moses about the tabernacle, "Be sure that thou make all things according to the pattern shown to thee in the mount," so He says to us, "Keep the ordinances as I delivered them unto you." If you alter them, you disobey God, you destroy the truth, you bring about confusion and division in the Christian world where there ought to be unity and peace.
It has ever been the cry of those who have departed from the truth that those who are contending for the truth are guilty of musing division. Who, think you, are guilty, those who contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, or those who have departed from the faith? We shall never have unity by compromising with those who have departed. We shall have unity only when those who have departed return to obedience in conforming to the pattern given us in the baptism of Jesus.
Let us look to see how clearly these four fundamental elements of baptism are found in the baptism of Jesus.
Jesus was a proper candidate. He had no sin, therefore He did not need to repent. He had absolute faith in the Father, and in God's plan for the redemption of the world. He had absolute faith in himself. John might waver, and from his dark prison send word to Jesus, asking "if He be the Christ, or must they look for another," but never a cloud darkened the mind of Jesus. "I am the bread of fife." "I am the water of life," "if any man thirst let him come unto me and drink." "He that shall drink of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst but shall have in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life." "I am the door of the sheep. By me if any man enter in he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture." "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." "Peter, put up thy sword. Know ye not that I could pray the Father, and he, would straightway send me ten legions of angels?" And so we might go on, take all the words of Jesus, see Him in the darkest hours of His life, when all forsook Him, and all minds about Him were clouded with doubt and despair, yet His faith in the Father, and in the divine enterprise was unclouded by a single doubt, and unmarred by a single fear. And so He came to John in accord with the divine purpose of God through the ages to "fulfill all righteousness," and to set an example for all who would become His disciples. This is a case of believer's baptism. There is no comfort here for those who practice infant baptism. Christ was nearly thirty years old when He was baptized. There is no comfort for those who contend for baptismal salvation, saying that we come to baptism a lost sinner, and in baptism our sins are taken away. In Christian Baptism by Alexander Campbell, page 521, we read: "Remission of sins cannot be enjoyed by any person before immersion. Belief of this testimony is what impelled us into the water, knowing that the efficacy of His blood is to be communicated to our consciences in the way God has pleased to appoint: we stagger not at the promise but flee to the sacred ordinance which brought the blood of Jesus in contact with our consciences. Without knowing and believing this, immersion is as a blasted nut, the shell is there, but the kernel is wanting."
At the Council of Trent the Roman Catholic Church made this pronouncement:
John Wesley in his works, volume 6, section 4, speaks for the Methodists:
Dr. J. R. Graves, in commenting on this position of other Christian bodies, says:
All others teach through the water to the blood. Baptists teach through the blood to the water. Which, think you, is nearer the scriptural position as outlined here in the baptism of Jesus?
Let us now consider the second fundamental element in baptism:
It is not our purpose to dwell long on this element, not because it is not important, but because so much has already been said on the subject that we feel it is unnecessary. It has been said that there are two sides to every question. Here is one question of which that cannot truthfully be said. There is only one side to this question. In the light of the Scriptures, in the light of the Greek scholars, in the concession of those who do not practice immersion, but say that it was the only baptism known to the early church in the light of all this surely any one who would contend that sprinkling is a scriptural doctrine is either an ignoramus or speaking what he knows is an untruth.
No one would contend, after reading this simple story of the baptism of Jesus with an unbiased mind, that His baptism was performed in any other manner than by immersion. "John was baptizing at Armor near to Salim, because there was much water there." The artists of the middle ages, subservient to their master, the church of Rome, have filled the galleries of Europe with pictures representing Christ and John standing knee deep in the river, and John pouring from a shell on the head of Jesus water which he has dipped from the river. Everyone who can read this Bible account of the baptism of Jesus, knows that, however beautiful the picture may be, it is not true to the scriptures. To accept such an interpretation does away with the Bible account, and does away with the very word baptize itself. This is, of course, a Greek word, and never means anything else but to immerse or dip.
When King James would translate the Bible, he called together the scholars of his day to make the translation. They did a magnificent piece of work. But when they came to the Greek word, baptize, knowing that it meant immerse, they dared not so translate it without conferring with the king, for well they knew that the Church of England baptized by sprinkling. The outcome was, by the King's request, not to translate the word at all, but to Anglicize it. And so we have the Greek word, baptize, or baptize in our English Bibles, when, if it had been translated, it would have been immerse.
Dr. John T. Christian wrote the leading Greek scholars of America and England, asking them the following question:
'There is no standard Greek English lexicon that gives sprinkle or pour as one of the meanings of the Greek word baptize."
Prof. H. W. Humphreys, Vanderbilt Univ.
"I do not know of any good lexicon which gives sprinkling as a rendering of baptizo."
Prof. W. S. Tyler, Amherst College.
"There is no standard Greek English lexicon that gives either sprinkle or pour as one of the meanings of the Greek word baptizo." Prof. Dodge, University of Michigan.
"I know no lexicons which give the meanings you speak of for baptize."
Prof. Flagg, Cornell University
"The word baptizo means to dip, or sink into water, not sprinkle. I know of no lexicon which gives sprinkle for baptize."
Prof. H. Kynaston, D. D., University Durham.
"Certainly, the classical meaning of baptizo is to dip, not to sprinkle or pour."
Prof. G. C. Warr, M. A. King's College.
"I never, to my knowledge, met with the word in the literal sense of sprinkle, and I doubt if it has any such meaning."
Prof. John Stracham, M. A., Owen's College.
"I do not know of any Greek English lexicon which gives the meaning to sprinkle, or pour. If any should do so, I should say it makes a mistake."
Prof. G. E. Mamdin, University London.
"I do not know whether there is any authoritative Greek English lexicon which makes the word mean sprinkle or pour. I can only say that such a meaning never belongs to the word in classical Greek."
Prof. R. C. Jebb, University Cambridge.
But why multiply proofs? No wonder King James and his translators were nonplussed, and did not know what to do. Not only the act of Jesus, but the very meaning of the word makes immersion imperative as the second element of scriptural baptism.
Why was Christ baptized? To show forth in all its fullness the righteousness of God. So with every baptism. There is a design, and that design is to show forth a certain body of truth which is not only the property of the believer, but the property also of the body into which the believer is baptized. I do not know a better way to bring this out than to quote the definition of baptism given by J. R. Graves:
Now what are the specific truths that baptism sets forth? The answer to this question takes us back to the post apostolic period about two hundred A. D. In that period, and on through the centuries, the catechumens those under instruction for baptism were required to repeat the creed of the church, and then the question was invariably asked, "Wilt thou be baptized into this faith?" And so the baptism was not so much to show forth the faith of the believer as to show forth the doctrines, beliefs, and practices of the body performing the baptism. Even today, the Episcopalians retain this custom. Of every infant sprinkled by them the question is asked:
The subject of baptism, therefore, does not profess so much his private faith, but the faith of the denomination baptizing him. Now as to the question, "What are the specific truths that baptism sets forth?" the answer depends on the body doing the baptizing.
When the Roman Catholics baptize, according to the Council of Trent, it is to wash away original sin, and all committed sin, to communicate spiritual regeneration and grace of Jesus Christ, and to unite the baptized to the living head. When the followers of Alexander Campbell baptize, it is in order to the remission of sins, since, as Campbell contends, they (the baptized) can only reach the blood of Christ through the waters of baptism.
In the case of the Methodists, according to Wesley, it is in order to regeneration, and in the case of infants, to take away their original sin, else they are lost.
What is the design with the Episcopalians? Let us drop in at their confirmation service. Question: "Who gave you this name?" Answer: "My sponsors in baptism wherein I was made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor in the kingdom of heaven." That is the design of their baptism.
What is the design with the Presbyterians? Let us read the Shorter Catechism. Question: "What is baptism?" Answer: "Baptism is a sacrament of the New Testament wherein Christ hath ordained the washing in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, to be a sign and seal of the engrafting into Himself, of remission of sins by His blood, and regeneration by His Spirit, of adoption and resurrection unto eternal life."
We shall not attempt to interpret this language, but will let Dr. Hodge of Princeton, and Dr. Nevin of Mercersburg Seminary interpret it. Dr. Hodge says: "We are baptized in order that we may be united to Christ, and be made partakers of His benefits. This baptism unto repentance is a baptism that the remission of sins may be obtained." Dr. Nevin says: 'The church makes us Christians by the sacrament of holy baptism, which she always held to be of supernatural force for that very purpose."
What is the design of baptism in the Baptist Churches?
It is not in order to the remission of sins. It is not a means of grace. It is not in order to regeneration. It has nothing to do with our salvation. It is a picture showing forth the gospel; the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, and signifies that the one baptized is dead to the old life of sin and risen to a new life in Christ Jesus.
How different is the Baptist position from the position of those that make baptism a saving ordinance, and say there is no way to the blood of Christ save through the waters of baptism!
Now all those who have been baptized into the faith of these other Christian bodies must either stand for that faith or repudiate it. If they repudiate the faith, they must also repudiate the baptism that made them a partaker of that faith. There is no other way out. If they no longer believe in their doctrines, they should no longer hold to the baptism that made them a partaker of those doctrines. This is certainly the only consistent course, and the only way to
honor the body in whom they have come to believe. If you are a Baptist in belief, you ought to be satisfied with none but Baptist baptism.
Let us see how this is brought out in the baptism of Jesus. The time had come for Jesus to be baptized. Sixty miles away was a man sent of God to baptize. Around Nazareth were many beautiful streams and pools. Jesus could have chosen some one in Nazareth, and had that one baptize Him in one of the beautiful pools. That would have been alien baptism. But this He did not do. Instead, He started out, and walked sixty miles to get to some one who had the God given authority to baptize Him. And yet, in spite of this there are those who say the administrator is not of any importance!
Since the subject of Alien Immersion has to do with the administration of baptism, it is proper that we devote the rest of the book to the history of that question. It is a question of authority. Who has the right to baptize? Just anybody? When God established the ordinance, and defined the subject, the act, the design, did He also define the administrator, or leave that open to anyone who wished to perform the ordinance? It would have been as strange procedure, if he had made no provision for the one who was to perform the baptism.
On this fourth element of baptism, the scriptures are just as plain and explicit as they are on the other three elements of baptism.
We have seen how it was emphasized by Christ when He walked sixty miles to get to John who was sent of God to baptize. Again, Christ emphasized it when He asked the chief priests and elders the question, "The baptism of John whence was it, from heaven, or from men?" Again, in the great commission, which was given, not to aliens, but to disciples who were members of the church that He had already built, is the command to baptize. Nowhere in the scriptures do we find a single place where anyone was baptized by anyone who did not have his authority from Christ Himself, or the church which He built. It was so on the day of Pentecost, it was so of Philip when he baptized the eunuch, it was so of Peter when he baptized Cornelius and his household, it was so of Paul when he was baptized of Ananias. If alien baptism is right and proper, where do we find in the Bible any authority therefore? It is not to be found. God is just as careful in setting the bounds to baptism as he was in defining the specifications of the tabernacle, when He charged Moses, "Be sure to make it according to the pattern."
Scriptural baptism must not only be administered by one who has divine authority, but unless that authority has been specially given, as in the case of John the Baptist, that authority must reside in a scriptural church. God could select men today as He did John, and give them specific authority to baptize. God can do anything, unless that thing is contrary to His righteous nature. God cannot do wrong. But God could select a man, and give him a special revelation. God could select a man, and tell him to go out and baptize. But we do not believe that God does that today, and we think it would be a presumption on the part of any man to claim such a thing. Joe Smith, founder of the Mormon Church claimed it, but no one but a Mormon believes it.
Christ built His church, committed to it the ordinances, and since drat day the authority to baptize and to administer the Lord's Supper resides in the church that Jesus built, not is any priest or preacher on the face of the earth, but in the church. Unless one's baptism has that authority, it is not scriptural baptism.
Three questions, therefore, here arise:
First, then: Did Jesus build a church? In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says: "Thou art Peter (Greek petros), and upon this rock (Greek petra) I will build my church (Greek ecclesea), and the gates of hell (Greek hades) shall not prevail against it (Greek her)."
In all the Bible there is no verse that has compacted into it more divine and fundamental truths than this verse. Here Christ Himself gives:
Before taking up these four fundamental truths, let us look at the word church itself. The word that Christ uses that is translated church in our English Bibles, is the Greek word ecclesia, which means an assembly or congregation, (root meaning the called out). This word occurs one hundred and fourteen times in the New Testament, and always means a local congregation, except when used in a metaphorical sense, referring to all the redeemed of the Lord in heaven. It is never used in the general or universal sense except when used metaphorically.
Proof of this is found all through the New Testament. In Matthew 18:17, Jesus says: "If thy brother offend thee .... tell it to the church." How could one tell it to a universal, invisible body, as some claim the church is?
In all Paul's letters, his writings are to individual churches, the church at Corinth, the church at Ephesus, the church at Philippi, etc. He never addresses all believers everywhere and refers to them as the "church."
In Revelation, Christ's message is to the churches. Never does He refer to the whole body of believers and call them the church. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches." There are three damnable heresies abroad in the land, being proclaimed by writers, pulpiteers, and college and university professors: the universal, invisible church, the universal fatherhood of God, and the universal brotherhood of man. There is no foundation for any of these in the scriptures. Christ said to the Pharisees, "Ye are of your father the devil." How could God be their father and the devil also?
Let us now consider the four fundamental truths in Christ's statement to Peter when He said: "Thou art Petros a rock, and on this petra a rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against her."
1. THE CHURCH'S FOUNDATION.
It is significant to note that when Christ speaks of the rock on which He built His church, He uses the word petra and not the word petros, which is the name Christ gave to Peter. Petra is a different gender from petros. This conclusively eliminates the claim of the Roman Catholic Church that Christ built His church on Peter.
But if Peter were not the rock, what was the rock on which Christ built His church?
Peter had just said, when asked the question, "Whom do ye say that I am," . . . "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Since, then, Christ did not build the church on Peter, He must have referred to this fundamental basic fact on which Christianity rests, That He was the Christ the Son of The Living God.
2. THE CHURCH'S BUILDER.
This verse of scripture which Christ uttered gives also the church's builder. Christ said, "I will build My church." Christ Himself built it. It is no human, but a divine institution. Others, both men and women, have built so called churches. Their names are recorded in history: Luther, Calvin, Henry VIII, Wesley, Joe Smith, Campbell, Mrs. Eddy, Rutherford, and many others. All of them founded man made institutions. But there is one church and only one that Jesus built.
3. THE CHURCH'S OWNER.
Jesus calls it my church (Greek church of mine. How intimate the relationship! Looking down through the ages, He' saw the confusion in the multiplicity of so called churches, false churches, spurious churches, man made churches, so he emphasizes the intimate relationship by calling it the church of mine. It was rough material that John the Baptist gathered for Him out of which He built His church: Matthew the publican, swearing Peter, John and James, the sons of thunder, Judas the traitor, Thomas the doubter. But out of it He built His church, and all of us that belong to the church that Jesus built are of this fellowship. They are men of like passions to us, and we are honored to belong to that company.
4. THE CHURCH'S TRIUMPH.
"The gates of hell shall not prevail against it," says Jesus. The church that Jesus built was not an inert, weak, temporary, human made affair that was to cease to exist during the dark ages, as some of our weak kneed, so called historians seem so pleased to affirm, but a militant, victorious church that was to overcome all opposition, and come forth triumphant at the end of time. Suffice it at this point to say, that never during the twenty centuries that have elapsed has this church failed to exist, and never to the end of time will it cease to exist, according to the word of our Lord who founded it and spoke of it as this church of mine.
Having disposed of the first question, Did Jesus Build A Church?, we come now to the second question,
II. When Did He Build His Church?
There are those who affirm that He built it on the day of Pentecost. He built it a long time before that. Those who were converted at Pentecost were added to the church. How could they be added to something that did not already exist?
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, "I will build my church." In Matthew 18:17, Jesus says, "If thy brother offend thee . . . tell it to the church." So when we come to the eighteenth chapter, the church He said He would build in the sixteenth chapter is already in existence, for one could not tell something to the church if the church did not exist. The conclusion is inescapable, therefore, that some time between the events of the sixteenth and eighteenth chapters of Matthew Jesus built His church.
The third question, we come now to consider,
III. WHAT and WHICH Is The Church That Jesus Built?
This is the big question. There are those who contend that when Christ said, "I will build my church," He was not speaking of the local, visible church, but the universal, invisible church, composed of all believers. Such an interpretation is impossible, If there is such a thing taught in the scriptures as the universal, invisible church, composed of all believers, it had been built centuries before this, else what about the Old Testament characters, Enoch, Abraham, Jacob, David, the prophets? Were they not in it? How could they be in it if it was not built? Again, how could one tell his grievances to a universal, invisible assembly that had never assembled? No, clearly, Christ was speaking of the local, visible assembly or congregation. If there is such a body as the universal, invisible church, it has never assembled, and never will till the redeemed get home to heaven. Again, we repeat, the word church is never used in this sense except metaphorically.
To get rightly positioned on the question of Alien Baptism, it a necessary that me get right on the church question. Confusion on the question of authority to baptize comes from hazy and erroneous thinking on the church. We shall, therefore, lay down, at this point, some propositions, that will, we think, make clear the church question:
When Christ was upon earth, He set up a visible church, organized, officered, with authority to receive and exclude members.
Many make the mistake of confusing the church and the kingdom. The Saints, as they call themselves, or Church of God, have no church roll and no organization. The followers of Alexander Campbell insist that when a person is saved, he is in the church without a vote of the church. The views of the Saints end the followers of Campbell both show confusion of mind upon this subject. A person can be saved and not in the visible church, and a person can be in the visible church and not be saved. We must distinguish between the kingdom and the visible church. Again we repeat the proposition, that when Christ was upon earth He set up
a visible church with officers, organization and the power to receive and exclude members.
Christ gave to His visible church the ordinances to administer and to keep till He comes again.
Notice, there are two things the church is to do, to administer and to keep the ordinances. These two ordinances are baptism and the Lord's Supper. The church is to keep them, not change them: "Keep the ordinances as I delivered them unto you" I Cor. 11:2. The church is to administer them, not some one else. The church has the authority. None else has. For some one else to administer them is to act without authority. To change them is to destroy them. This visible church that Christ set up is to administer them and preserve them.
This visible church that Christ established has come on down through the ages, is in the world today, and will continue till Jesus comes. Look again at Matthew 16:18, "On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." Christ says He will build it, that it is His church, and that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it, that is, it shall exist through all the ages. It is not necessary to trace the continuity of the church. The words of Christ are sufficient to prove this point. He says the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it, and Heaven and earth shall pass away but His Word shall not pass away.
Now, then, we have the three propositions before us:
The question is, therefore:
Which of the many so called churches in the world today is the church that Christ set up when He was upon the earth?
There are many churches so called. There are more today than yesterday, and there will be more tomorrow than today.
All are not the church that Christ set up. Which one is? By two methods of proof we are able to arrive at the correct answer to this question.
The first method of proof is the method of historical elimination. Any church whose origin was in mediaeval or modern times is not the church that Christ set up, for the simple reason that it was not in existence when Christ set up His church, and did not come into existence for a long time after. Here are the names of some of them, showing their human origin and the date of their birth:
These are the principal ones, and thus we could do with the others if we took time and space.
Now, by this method of historical elimination, we have removed all claimants of being the church that Christ set up save two, and these two are the Baptists and Roman Catholics. These two go far back in history and are obscured during the dark ages.
In 200 A. D., one hundred and thirty years after the death of Paul, when many who were almost contemporaneous with Paul were still alive, we find, according to the historians, that the Anabaptists and heretical sects that later went to form the Roman Catholic Church were quarreling about baptism. It was not the mode of baptism that was the point of controversy.
The Anabaptists immersed as did the Catholics. The controversy arose because the Anabaptists would not accept as valid the immersion administered by these heretical sects, saying they had no authority to baptize, and insisted on immersing the second time all that came to them from these heretical sects. Whereupon, these heretical sects were made angry, dubbed them Anabaptists (rebaptizers) and held some church councils about the matter.
Permit me to cite some historical statements in elaboration of this. I cite first a statement from Ignatius, one of the apostolic fathers, and probably a contemporary with John and Paul:
"It is not lawful without the bishop (pastor) either to baptize or celebrate a love feast, but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be pleasing and valid" Ante Nicaean Fathers, Volume 1, page 90.
Now hear Tertullian, 200 A. D.:
"There is to us one and but one baptism. One God, one baptism, one church in the heavens. But it must be admitted that the question, what rules are to be observed in regard to heretics, is worthy of being treated. Heretics have no fellowship in our discipline. Their baptism is not one with ours, either, because it is not the same; a baptism which, since they have it not duly, doubtless they have not at all. Nor is that capable of being counted which is not had" Ante Nicaean Fathers, Volume 3, page 676.
Neander, another historian, in speaking about how the churches planted by Paul stood as a unit against alien immersion, says:
"It was a Roman Bishop, Stephanus, who, instigated by the spirit of ecclesiastical arrogance, issued a sentence of excommunication against the pastors of Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Galatia, and Cilicia, stigmatizing them as Anabaptists, a name, however, which they could justly affirm they did not deserve by their principles: for it was not their wish to administer a second baptism, but they contended that the previous baptism given by heretics (other sects) could not be recognized as a true one" Neander, Volume 1, pages 318 and 319.
The above is given to show that as early as 200 A. D. there was a controversy between the Baptists and heretical sects as to who has a right to administer baptism. As to which was right, we do not undertake at this point to say. That would be begging the question. But we have at least proved our point that both of these Christian bodies go back, and are lost in the dark period of early history.
Here, then, is our dilemma at this point. Historically we have eliminated all but two that claim to be the church that Christ set up: but we have two contenders left, the Baptists and Catholics. Both claim to be the church that Christ set up, both go back into the dark ages of history. How shall we decide between these two?
There is only one way to decide, and that is by the process of identity.
The second method of proof, therefore, is the process of identity. We must compare these two religious bodies, the Baptists and the Catholics, with the church that Christ set up. The one that is identical with that church in organization and doctrine, that is the church that He set up, and that is the church that has a right to administer the ordinances.
Let us take the church at Jerusalem, therefore, as an example of the church that Christ set up, note its characteristics, and compare them with the characteristics of the Baptists and Catholics.
Characteristics of the Jerusalem Church:
I. A Holy Spirit Church.
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost . . . Then they that gladly received the word were baptized. And the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls" Acts 2.
We see, therefore, that the Jerusalem Church was a church that depended on the Holy Spirit to fit people for membership in it. It is even so in a Baptist Church. In a Baptist Church there must be an experience of religion in the heart through the work of the Holy Spirit within. In the Catholic Church, members are taken in in infancy, and confirmed when they have reached the age of accountability.
II. A Church Where Believers Only are Baptized.
The second mark of the Jerusalem Church is that believers only were baptized.
"Then they that gladly received the word were baptized" Acts 2:41.
There is no record here, nor anywhere else in the Bible for that matter, where baptism was ever administered to any one but a believer. Philip said to the eunuch, "If thou beheveth with all thy heart thou mayest" (be baptized. It is even so with a Baptist Church. The Catholic Church, however, is made up almost altogether of those who were baptized in infancy, for which practice there is not a scriptural foundation.
III. Baptism Was Administered by Immersion Only.
A third mark of the Jerusalem Church is that baptism was administered by immersion only. This needs no argument. All scholars admit it.
The Catholics admit that they changed the ordinance of baptism in the fourth century because sprinkling is more convenient. I quote from "The Faith of Our Fathers," pages 316 and 317, which is Catholic authority:
"For several centuries after the establishment of Christianity baptism was usually conferred by immersion. But since the twelfth century baptism by infusion has prevailed in the Catholic Church. Baptism is the essential means established for washing away the stain of original sin, and the door by which we find admittance into the church. Hence baptism is an essential for the infant as for the full grown man. Unbaptized infants are excluded from the kingdom of Heaven. Baptism makes us heirs of Heaven and co heirs with Jesus Christ." John Wesley in his commentary on Romans 6:4, where Paul says, "We are buried with Him by baptism," says: "This refers to the ancient mode of baptism which was by immersion." So say all the scholars. This mark, therefore, is like a Baptist Church and unlike the Catholic Church.
IV. Only Baptized Believers Came to the Lord's Table.
The fourth mark of the Jerusalem Church is that only baptized believers came to the Lord's table.
"Then they that gladly received the word were baptized, and they (those that had believed and been baptized) continued in the ...breaking of bread from house to house." This mark of the Jerusalem Church is identical with the teaching of a Baptist Church. A chief tenet of the Baptist faith has ever been that only the scripturally baptized could come to the Lord's table. For Christ's sake they have stood by this scriptural truth, although to do so meant to be misunderstood, and be called selfish and narrow by other denominations.
V. The Jerusalem Church Was a Pure Democracy.
The fifth mark of the Jerusalem Church is that it was a pure democracy. There was no ecclesiastical authority over them, no pope, no bishop. The word bishop in the Bible is used interchangeably with the words elder and pastor, 1 Peter 2:25, Titus 1:7, 1 Tim. 3:1.2, Phil. 1:1. The Jerusalem Church elected its own officers, called its own pastors, elders or bishops, as they are variously called, and one member had as much authority in the church as another. So it has ever been in a Baptist Church, and so it is not in the Catholic Church.
Therefore, as between these two claimants, we conclude:
I. That the visible church that Christ set up was a Baptist Church.
II. That it has come down through the ages, and is in the world today.
III. That to it was given the ordinances to keep, and to it alone.
IV. That others that presume to start churches and administer the ordinances do so 555555 without divine authority.
It is our firm conviction, irrespective of how much truth and error inhere in the organizations, that Joe Smith has as much right to start a church as Alexander Campbell, John Wesley, Henry VIII, Mrs. Eddy or Martin Luther. Our contention is that none of them had the right. Campbell's statement that up till he started the reformation the line of succession was with the Baptists was true, and is still true. With them has ever rested, as the historians quoted assert, and still rests, the authority to baptize and set the Lord's table. We affirm that this question of authority must be settled before we can have a clear definition of baptism and the Lord's Supper. The immersion of n believer in water, therefore, will not do as a definition of baptism, any more than to take bread and wine in the home constitutes the celebration of the Lord's Supper. It must be administered, both baptism and the Lord's Supper, by the proper authority before it is baptism, and before it is the Lord's Supper. The Anabaptists were right, and the modern milk and water Baptist who is continually publishing definitions that leave out the question of authority is wrong. All the facts of Scripture show, and these facts are attested by the facts of history, that Christ set up a visible church, committed to it the ordinances; that this church has come down through the ages; that it was a Baptist Church; that imperfect as it was in the beginning, and imperfect as it is today, yet as the earthen vessel that we carry to the spring serves to carry the life giving water, imperfect though it is so this imperfect organization has kept and preserved the ordinances and the doctrines, and handed them down to posterity, in spite of the apostasy of Rome, in spite of persecutions, in spite of all the forces of the evil one, and will continue to do this till Jesus comes.
Now, if you, my reader, from a careful study of this question, with these facts before you, laying aside all prejudice, believe likewise, you ought to join a Baptist Church, and receive Baptist baptism, provided you have believed to the saving of your soul. If you do not believe it, then it is your duty to find the church that Christ did establish, and unite with that church. Be satisfied with nothing less than that.
"My Lord, I find that nothing else will do,
We have seen how Christ put emphasis on the administrator by walking sixty miles to John, the Baptist, to be baptized; how He further emphasized it by committing the ordinance to His disciples. John 3:22 reads: "After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them and baptized." John 4:2 reads, "Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples." These two passages are not contradictory. They ate given to emphasize how Jesus committed the ordinance of baptism to His disciples, giving them authority to baptize. The very fact that He gave this authority to His disciples, infers that those who were not His disciples did not have the authority, and if they did not have the authority from Christ, how could they baptize? Again, when Christ gave the great commission to His disciples, we find in it the command to baptize. That command implies that those who were not disciples did not have the authority to baptize, and hence their baptism is not valid baptism. The whole question of Alien Immersion is a question of authority. An officer of the law, by virtue of his office, has the right to do certain things. The sheriff has the right to arrest a man, or any deputy he may authorize. This comes by virtue of his office. Now the church that Jesus built bas had committed to it two ordinances by Christ, baptism and the Lord's Supper. If He gave these ordinances to His church, He did not give it to any organization outside of His church, and when they presume to baptize, or administer the Lord's Supper, they are acting without authority, and therefore their act is invalid. In all the apostolic days, we do not have one singly case of alien immersion. The reason for this is simple. The believers all belonged to one body, the Church of Christ. It was not for two hundred years after the birth of Christ that the question of alien immersion arose. That was when heresies arose that caused division in the church, as we shall see in our next chapter.
But one asks, "What about Philip? Where did he get his authority to baptize the eunuch?" Philip was a member of the Jerusalem church, and was acting directly under the command of the Holy Spirit. Therefore his baptism was regular.
Again, some one asks, "What about the baptism of the centurion?" 'Ibis is another case of regular baptism. Peter, too, was acting under the direct command of the Holy Spirit, and he also took brethren with him from ,Joppa, and when the centurion was converted, Peter put the question to the vote on his baptism, saying, "Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?" What about the baptism of Paul? Another case of regular baptism. Ananias was acting directly on the command of Jesus.
Hear the scriptures:
"And there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias: and to him said the Lord in vision, 'Ananias.' And he said, 'Behold 1 am here, Lord.' And the Lord said unto him, 'Arise, and go into the street called Straight, arid enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth ......"
"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 the, in thy way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy (:host' And immediately, there fell from his eyes as it had been scales; and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."
You will! note that he was a disciple of Jesus, and he was sent by Jesus to baptize Paul. So it ever is in the word of God. No one baptizes without divine authority, given by Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or by the church that Jesus built. Can any one say that Philip, or Peter, or Ananias did not have the authority to baptize, when that authority was directly given them of God through the Holy Spirit, or through Christ himself? On the other hand, can any one claim that because they were given authority, that any one coming along claiming authority is vested with that authority, and can administer valid baptism? Joe Smith of the Mormon sect claims it. Shall we recognize his claim? Others who have started so called churches claim it. Shall we recognize their claim? Apostate Rome claimed it, and because of that claim, and in pursuance of it, put to death more than a million Anabaptists who denied the claim they made.
We believe that Joe Smith had as much right to start a church and administer the ordinances as the Catholics, or any of the various Protestant bodies that have had their origin with the Catholics, and get their baptism from the Catholics. The Odd Fellows, Masons, and Knights of Pythias have as much right to baptize as any body that is not the Church of Christ.
Again, when we admit that they are a church of Christ, they not only have the right to baptize, but they also have the right to administer the Lord's Supper, and do anything else that the Church of Christ has the authority to do.
Reader, do you believe the Mormon church with all its heresy is a church of Christ, and that Christ gave to Joe Smith the authority to baptize, thus putting his approval on the Mormon faith, and its polygamy? But if you deny Joe Smith the right with his heresy what will you do with all the others and their heresies, such as infant baptism, baptismal salvation, and claiming that the church is greater than the Word of God, and that they had a right to change the Word of God at their convenience or pleasure, who also through the ages have denied freedom of conscience, and the right to worship God as conscience dictated, and because of this faith, put to the sword and burned at the stake all that claimed the right to worship God according to their own conscience?
"I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."
"And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. ..."
"And here is the mind that hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings ..."
"These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for He is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings: and they that are with Him are called, and chosen, and faithful."
Has Christ given to this woman, arrayed in scarlet with the golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication, who makes war with the Lamb has Christ given to her, do you think, the authority to administer His baptism, to set His table, and to carry on His work?
Dr. A. G. Dayton has well stated the argument after this fashion:
"It will be conceded that whatever the Word of God said to the first churches, was intended for our instruction. What would have been wrong for them to do in view of the teachings of Christ and the apostles is now wrong for us to do, as the churches of Christ. Let us, then, suppose this case to have come up in the life time of the apostles, and see if we cannot find some general rules laid down, by which it must at once and easily have decided.
"These first churches, we believe, were Baptist churches, both in regard to their organization, their doctrines, and their ordinances. Now let us suppose that some preacher among them had begun all at once to sprinkle babies, and insist that this was the baptism that Christ commanded, and that the neglect to have it done was a sin against God. What instructions would the church find in the word concerning such a man?
"Would they not turn to Second Thessalonians 3:6: `Now, we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.' And to Romans 16:17: 'Now, I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them.' What duty does this impose upon the church? Must she not disown him, and his official acts? Yes! If he is a brother, a member of the Baptist church, and does not teach thus, she must depose him from her ministry, and exclude him from her communion. No Baptist doubts this. But, now, suppose he gathers a company of these people, sprinkled for baptism when they were little babies, and organizes them into a society, and calls it a church of Christ, and claims by its authority, as its minister, to confer the ordinance of baptism on believers, in the name of Christ, and then insists that the churches which could not commune with him or fellowship his doctrines, the churches which had deposed and excommunicated him, shall recognize as lawful and scriptural his official administration of Christ's ordinance. Would not the same law which repudiated and condemned. him as a brother, truly condemn him as the leader of another and rival organization? Surely, what the church could not countenance in a brother, she could not endorse and receive in him as a stranger! No man of common sense, who reasons about religious matters as he does about other things, would ever dream of doing it. If the scriptures had required it, we would have thought the Bible a strange and contradictory book."
In the chapter to follow this, we shall show how the post apostolic church regarded this matter, and how the church of Christ continued to regard it for thirteen hundred years down to the Protestant reformation, and even on down to the present time. Were our fathers wrong in this matter, to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, even though it meant the awful persecutions they suffered through the centuries?
"They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy): they wandered in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise, God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
It was about two hundred years after the birth of Christ, and about one hundred and seventy years after Christ built His church that the question of alien immersion brought about a division in the churches. In Paul's time, before one hundred A. D., moral and doctrinal questions had already risen to vex the church. In Corinth there were those that came to the Lord's table to feast and to get drunk. There was also the Jewish question of circumcision. Later came the gnostic heresies creeping in, that vexed John, and the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes and Balsam, about which Christ warns the church in Pergamos.
And now, as we approach two hundred A. D., we see churches that regard other churches as so heretical that they will not receive their baptism, but insist on baptizing all who come to them from heretical bodies. This heresy was not sprinkling or infant baptism. These heresies did not arise for more than a hundred years later. Orchard, the historian, says of this period: "The historians of this period do none of them mention anything concerning infant baptism. Not one natural infant of any description appears to have been baptized in the church of Rome during the first three centuries, and immersion was the only method of administering the ordinance. During the first three centuries, Christian congregations all over the East, subsisted in separate, independent bodies, unsupported by government, and consequently, without any secular power over one another. All this time they were Baptist churches. And though all the Fathers of the first four ages down to Jerome were of Greece, Syria, and Africa, and though they gave great numbers of histories of the baptism of adults, yet there is not one record of the baptism of a child till the year 370."
In the light of this history, may we stop to ask the question of those who contend that the Roman Catholic Church is the oldest church, where was the Roman Catholic Church during this period? It was simply non existent; but there were signs of its formation in the apostasy of Christianity with its baptismal salvation, its ecclesiastical assumptions resulting in ruling bishops, and the loss of church independence, and later the rise of infant baptism, growing out of the doctrine of baptismal salvation, and sprinkling and pouring growing out of infant baptism, until Rome emerged, and for over a thousand years persecuted the true churches of Christ that held to the apostolic faith.
At this time, the third century A. D., a mad controversy arose which lasted for hundreds of years, even to the days of the reformation. Those who insisted on rebaptism of all who came to them were dubbed Anabaptists, the rebaptizers, a name they bore along with other names through hundreds of years. Church councils were held and the Anabaptists were anathematized, and later excommunicated when Rome came into power. Neander says:
`It was a Roman bishop Stephanus, who, instigated by the spirit of ecclesiastical arrogance, issued a sentence of excommunication against the pastors of Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Galatia, and Cilicia, stigmatizing them as Anabaptists, a name, however which they could justly affirm they did not deserve by their principles; for it was not their wish to administer a second baptism, but they contended that the previous baptism given by heretics (other sects) could not be recognized as a true one" (Volume 1, pages 318 and 319).
We are not to infer that those who took this position were few in numbers. They were numbered by the thousands, and later, bemuse of persecution and inquisition were scattered in almost all corners of Europe, Asia, and Africa. While they bore different names, they had one common characteristic among others, they were Anabaptists, the rebaptizers.
Mosheim, a Lutheran historian, and a bitter enemy of the Baptists, has this to say of the Anabaptists: "The hue origin of that sect which acquired the name of Anabaptists by the administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion is hid in the remote depths of antiquity, and is consequently extremely difficult to be ascertained" Volume 4, page 427.
Cardinal Hosius, president of the Council of Trent, says: "If the truth of religion were to he judged by the readiness and cheerfulness which a man in any sect shows in suffering, then the opinion and persuasion of no sect can be truer and surer than that of the Anabaptists, since there have been none for those twelve hundred years past that have been more generally punished, or that have more cheerfully and steadily undergone and even offered themselves to the most cruel sorts of punishment than these people" 1560 A. D.
In 1819 the King of Holland appointed Dr. Ypeig, professor of theology in the University of Gronnigan, and Rev. J. J. Dermont, chaplain to the king, both learned men and members of the Dutch Reform Church, to prepare a history of their church They did so. In the authentic volume which they prepared and published at Breda in 1823, they devote one chapter to the Baptists. In it they make this statement:
"We have now seen that the Baptists who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses, and who long in the history of the church received the honor of that origin. On this account the Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the apostles, and as a Christian society has preserved pure the doctrine of the gospel through all the ages."
These writers quoted were not Baptists, but they proclaimed, after investigation, that which some of our weak kneed Baptists deny, the perpetuity of the church and the preservation of the gospel truth through all the ages, though at tremendous cost.
As the result of then investigation, the government of Holland offered to the Baptist churches of the kingdom the support of the State, but true to Baptist principles they declined it. McClintock and Strong say: `The term Anabaptists, or Rebaptizers, is connected with the controversies of the third century. In Asia Minor and in Africa, where the spirit of controversy had raged long and bitterly, baptism was considered only valid when administered in the orthodox church. So high were the disputes on the question, that two synods (councils) were convened to investigate it, one at Iconium, and the other at Synnada in Phrygia, which confirmed the opinion of the invalidity of heretical baptism. From Asia the question passed to Northern Africa. Tertullian accorded with the decision of the Asiatic councils in opposition to the practice of the Roman church. Agrippinus convened a council at Carthage, which came to a similar decision with those of Asia. Thus the matter rested till Stephen, bishop of Rome, prompted by ambition, proceeded to excommunicate the bishops (pastors) of Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Galatia and Gilicia, and applied to them the epithets of Rebaptizers and Anabaptists" A. D. 253, Volume 1, page 210.
"They acquired the name of Anabaptists by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion. They rebaptized all those who left other Christian churches to embrace their communion." Mosheim Church History, Volume 2, pages 127 and 296.
These authorities we have quoted are not Baptists, but they are historians, and as historians they affirm that since the day of the apostles there have been those who stood for the truth and preserved it, and refused to receive from other sects those who had been immersed, because they did not regard the sect baptizing them as having authority to do so. We are not to infer that these who took this position were few in numbers. They were numbered by the thousands, and later, because of persecution and inquisition, became scattered in almost all countries of Europe, Asia and Africa. While they bore different names, they had one common characteristic among others, they were the Anabaptists, the Rebaptizers. In the chapters that follow, we shall study these many sects that spring up in many countries giving the names they bore, their teachings, their characteristics, and above all, how everywhere they were known and denominated Anabaptists, because they refused to accept as valid that baptism performed by heretics, as they regarded the Roman church, or those whose heresy later resulted in the Roman Church. With shame we think of some today who refuse to stand for "the faith once for all delivered to the saints," and would urge a new consecration to the sentiment expressed in that hymn, "Faith of Our Fathers."
Before taking up the various sects scattered abroad in different countries, bearing different names, but all adhering to that one principle, opposition to alien baptism, it might be well to give a chapter to the heretical doctrines of the third century that led to the controversy over alien immersion.
We feel sure that the reader would like to know what these heresies were, and we shall do our best to enlighten him, although there is much obscurity concerning this matter in history, and the testimony concerning it is more or less fragmentary.
We shall say, however, in the beginning, what we have already said, and what cannot be said too often, that it was not infant baptism and it was not sprinkling. In other words, it did not concern itself with the qualification of the candidate, nor the mode of baptism, about which some of our Baptist leaders have so much to say today, but it did concern itself with the question of authority, or the fitness of the administrator. These post apostolic churches refused to receive from other so called churches those who had been immersed by them, if they regarded them (the churches) as having departed from the faith. What were the heresies to which they objected?
One of them, strange to say, was the heresy of nearly all sects today, baptismal salvation. Early in the third century this damnable doctrine began to invade the post apostolic churches.
It became a matter of dispute among the Anti Nicene fathers.
Tertullian, who lived from 145 A. D. to 220 A. D., teaches salvation before baptism. In speaking of the church dealing with children, he says: "They whose office it is know that baptism is not rashly to be administered. Let them (the children) become Christians when they have become able to know Christ" Volume III, pages 677 and 678.
On the contrary, Cyprian, who lived a little later, but contemporaneous with Tertullian during the close of his life, affirmed that the second birth is in baptism, Volume IV, page 388.
Dr., J. T. Christian, in his history of this period, says:
"The point of departure probably had its largest expression in baptismal salvation, and the tendency of some churches toward episcopacy, and away from democratic simplicity" History of Baptists, page 27.
Again, Dr. Christian says:
"One of the earliest and most hurtful errors was the dogma of baptismal regeneration. This error in one form or another has marred the life and colored the history of all the Christian ages. It began early, and the virus may be traced to this day, not only among the ritualists, but likewise in the standards of evangelical Christians. Tertullian was aroused by it to oppose infant baptism, and under other conditions, it became the origin of that heresy" History of Baptists, page 28.
Dr. Christian refers in this period to the tendency of some churches to episcopacy, and away from democratic simplicity. Concerning this, Orchard in his History of the Baptists says:
"The officer, formerly known by the name of elder, bishop, or presbyter, (terms exactly synonymous in the New Testament) became now distinguished by the elevation of the bishop above his brethren, and each of the above terms was carried out into a distinction of places in the Christian church. The minister, whose congregation increased from the suburbs of his town and the vicinage around, considered the parts from which his charge emanated, as territories marking the boundaries of his authority; and all those presbyters sent by him into surrounding stations to conduct evening or other services, acknowledged the pastor of the mother interest, as bishop of the district: this view of the pastor, connected with his charge of the baptistery, gave importance to his station and office which entailed an evil.
Associations of ministers and churches, which at first were formed in Greece, became common throughout the empire. These mutual unions for the management of spiritual affairs, led to the choice of a president, which aided distinction amongst ministers of religion. In these degenerating times, aspiring men saw each other in varied elevations: consequently, jealousy, ambition, and strife ensured, and every evil work followed. The minister having the largest interest under his superintendence; another whose usefulness in the Christian interest had been evident; and a third whose popular declaiming talent had raised him into general approbation, led to distinctions and superior stations, which at last became vested in the metropolitan minister. Places of distinction to which ministers were eligible, prompted the ambitious to use every device to gain the ascendant position; and every part of the Word of God, with every scriptural example to support such distinctions and proceedings was quoted, enforced and practiced"
The historian Mosheim says:
"The bishops (pastors) now aspired to higher degrees of power and authority than they formerly possessed. They not only violated the rights of the people, but also made gradual encroachment on the privileges of the presbyters. That they might cover their usurpations with an air of justice, and appearance of reason, they published new doctrines concerning the nature of the church, and episcopal dignity. One of the principal authors of this change in the government of the church was Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, who pleaded for the power of the bishops with more zeal and vehemence than had ever been hitherto employed in that cause. The change in the form of government was soon followed by a train of vices which dishonor the character and authority of those to whom the administration of the church was committed. For though several yet continued to exhibit to the world illustrious examples of primitive piety and Christian virtue, yet many were sunk in luxury and voluptuousness, puffed up with vanity, arrogance and ambition, possessed with a spirit of contention and discord, and addicted to other vices that cast an undeserved reproach upon the holy religion, of which they were the unworthy professors and ministers.
"The bishops assumed in many places princely authority; particularly, those who had the greatest number of churches under their inspection, and who presided over the most opulent assemblies. They appropriated to their evangelical functions the splendid ensigns of imperial majesty. A throne surrounded with ministers exalted above his equals was the servant of the meek and humble Jesus; and sumptuous garments dazzled the eye and the mind of the multitude into an arrogant veneration for their arrogant authority.
The examples of the bishops were ambitiously imitated by the presbyters, who, neglecting the sacredness of their station, abandoned themselves to the indolence and delicacy of an effeminate and luxurious life. The deacons, beholding the presbyters deserting their functions, boldly usurped their rights and privileges, and the effects of a corrupt ambition were spread through every rank of the sacred order. The duties of the sanctuary, consequently, devolved on new officers, and menials were appointed to do the work of idle bishops and presbyters. Ceremonies were added by bishops to please the multitude, of the immediate possessors of power, and a disposition prevailed to accommodate the religion of Jesus to the taste of heathens" Volume ll, page 286.
Contrast with this picture of a corrupted church that picture of a pure church, given us in the Epistle to Diognetus, written in the second century:
The Christians are not distinguished from other men by country, by language, nor by civil institutions. For they neither dwell in cities by themselves, nor use a peculiar tongue, nor lead a singular mode of life. They dwell in the Grecian or barbarian cities as the case may be. They follow the usages of the country in dress, food, and the other affairs of life. Yet they present a wonderful and confessedly paradoxical conduct. They dwell in their own native land, but as strangers. They take part in all things as citizens. And they suffer all things, but as foreigners. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every native land is foreign.
They marry like all others, they have children, but they do not cast away their offspring. They have the table in common, but not wives (in common. They are in the flesh, but do not live after the flesh. They live upon the earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the existing laws, and excel the laws by their lives. They love all, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and yet they are condemned. They are killed and made alive. They are poor and make many rich. They lack all things, and in all things abound. They are reproached, and glory in their reproaches. They are culumniated, and are justified. They are cursed, and they bless. They receive scorn, and they give honor. They do good, and are punished as evildoers. When punished they rejoice, as being made alive.
"By the Jews they are attacked as aliens, and by the Greeks persecuted: and the cause of the enmity their enemies cannot tell. In short what the soul is to the body, the Christians are in the world. The soul is diffused through all the members in the body, and the Christians are spread through the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but is not of the body; so the Christians dwell in the world, but are not of the world. The soul, invisible, keeps watch in the visible body; so also the Christians are seen to live in the world, for their piety is invisible. The flesh hates and wars against the soul; suffering no wrong from it, but because it resists fleshly pleasures; and the world hates the Christian with no reason, but they resist its pleasures.
"The soul loves the flesh and members, by which it is hated; so the Christians love their haters. The soul is enclosed in the body, but holds the body together; so the Christians are detained in the world as in a prison; but they contain the world. Immortal, the soul dwells in the mortal body; so the Christians dwell in the corruptible, but look for incorruption in heaven. The soul is the better for the restriction in food and drink; and the Christians increase though daily punished. This lot God has assigned to the Christians in the world; and it cannot be taken from them."
The Shepherd of Hermas wrote as follows concerning the corruptions growing up in the post apostolic churches:
"Customs have become worldly, discipline is relaxed, the church is a sickly, old woman, incapable of standing on her feet; rulers and ruled are all languishing, and many among them are corrupt, covetous, greedy, hypocritical, contentious, slanderers, blasphemers, libertines, spies, renegades, schismatics. Worthy teachers are not wanting, but there are also many false prophets, vain, eager after the first fees, for whom the greatest thing in life is not the practice of piety and justice, but the strife for the post of command. Now the day of wrath is at hand; the punishment will be dreadful; the Lord will give unto every one according to his works."
Surely when we read this contrast, and when we consider that already in the churches was growing the doctrine of baptismal regeneration which is today the curse of the Roman Catholic body, and nearly all, if not all, the paedo Baptist bodies, is it any wonder that the early churches, fired with the faith and zeal of Christ, refused to receive from these apostate bodies communicants without baptizing them, holding as they did that baptism is not only the expression of faith of the candidate, but more particularly, an expression of the faith of the body that administers the baptism?
We come now to study the sects that arose following the period of the Anti Nicene fathers that bore different names, but all of whom had one common characteristic, their opposition to receiving baptism performed by heretics, and hence denominated by the historians, the rebaptizers.
There are two popular misconceptions about these sects: one is, that they were few in number, and the other is that their history is obscure, and we know little about them. Neither of these conceptions is true. Of one sect, alone, it is estimated by the historians, one million were put to death by the Roman Catholic church, and eight hundred thousand were driven out into other countries to seek a refuge from persecution. Again, while there is much obscurity, and much we would like to know, yet there are volumes of history of these fourteen hundred years from the fathers to the reformation that recount the deeds of these God fearing persecuted people in almost every country in the whole world. Of the mass of this accumulated evidence, we can only give a small part here, but enough to show that all through the ages, these Baptists or Anabaptists, as they were called, by their enemies, were true to the faith, and refused, even at the price of martyrdom, to receive alien immersion into their churches.
First let us look at the Montanists. They received their name from Montanus who was a Phrygian, and lived about 156 A. D. They insisted that those who had lapsed from the true faith should be baptized anew. "It was not a new Christianity," says Schaff Herzog, "it was a recovery of the old." On this account they were termed Anabaptists. Schaff Herzog, Volume II, page 427. The movement spread rapidly through Asia Minor, into North Africa, and into Rome, also. Councils of the church were held against them, and they were condemned, but they continued for centuries, and were known by other names, Eusebius, page 229, note 1.
They were still in existence in 722 A. D. Theophines, page 722.
The Novatians arose about 250 A. D. On account of the purity of their lives, they were called the Cathari, the pure. They rebaptized all that came to them from the Catholics. Mosheim, Volume 1, page 203. They were at later periods called Anabaptists. Robinson Researchers, page 127.
"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. So early as 254, these dissenters are complained of as having infected France with their doctrines, which will aid us in the study of the Albigensian churches" Affix's Piedmont C 17, page 176.
Orchard further says:
"These churches, existed for sixty years under a pagan government, during which time the old corrupt interests at Rome, Carthage, and other places, possessed no means, but those of persuasion and reproach, to stop the progress of dissent. During this period, the Novatian churches were very prosperous, and were planted all over the Roman empire. It is impossible to calculate the benefit of their service to mankind. Although rigid in discipline, and schismatic in character, yet they were found extensive and in a flourishing condition when Constantine came to the throne in 306 A.D.
At the conclusion of the fourth century, the Novatians had three if not four churches in Constantinople: they also had churches at Nice, Nicomedia, and Cotivems, in Phyrgia, all of them large and extensive bodies, besides which they were churches in Alexandria in the fifth century. Here Cyril, ordained Bishop of the Catholics, shut up the churches of the Novatians. They awakened the anger of the Catholics because they rebaptized all who came to them from the Catholics. An edict was issued in 413 by the 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 baptizing. As a result of the persecution at this time, many abandoned the cities and sought retreats in the country and the valleys of the Piedmont, where later they were called Waldenses.
The Donatists arose in Numida in 311 A. D., and spread over Africa The Donatists and Novatians were very nearly identical in doctrine and discipline. Crispin, the French historian, says of them that they stood together: "First, for purity of church members, by asserting that none ought to be admitted into the church but such as are true believers and real saints. Secondly, for purity of church discipline. Thirdly, for independence of each church. Fourthly, they baptized again those whose first baptism they had reason to doubt." They were consequently termed Rebaptizers, and Anabaptists.
Osiander says our modern Anabaptists were the same with the Donatists of old. Fuller, the English church historian, asserts that the Baptists in England in his day were the Donatists new dipped. Robinson declares they were Trinitarian Anabaptists. They became so powerful that the Catholic body invoked the interest of the Emperor Constantine against them, whereupon the Donatists inquired, "What has the emperor to do with the church? What have Christians to do with kings? What have bishops to do at court?"
On the death of Constantine in 337, Julian ascended the throne, and permitted the exiled Donatists to return. They increased rapidly, until according to Orchard, they became almost as numerous as the Catholics. Jones says, in his Ecclesiastical Lecture, Volume I, page 474, "There was scarcely a city or town in Africa in which there was not a Donatist church."
Optatus, Bishop of Mela, a city of Numidia, wrote a book against the Donatists. In this book, he charges them with rebaptizing Catholics as if they were heathens, and asserts, in opposition to the Donatists views, that "all men that come into the world, though they be born of Christian parents, are filled with an unclean spirit, which must be driven away by baptism."
Orchard says concerning the persecution of the Donatists by Honorius and Theodosius, emperors of the East and West: "They issued an edict, decreeing that the persons rebaptized and the persons rebaptizing should be punished with death. In consequence of this cruel measure, martyrdom ensued. Gibbon remarks that three hundred bishops (pastors), with many thousands of the inferior clergy were torn from their churches, stripped of their ecclesiastical possessions, banished to the islands, proscribed by law if they presumed to conceal themselves in the provinces of Africa.
Augustin says to the Donatists: "You Donatists say those coming to you are baptized in an impure church by heretics: but the validity of the baptism depends upon God's authority, not on the goodness or sanctity of the person who officiates."
The Donatists in the fifth century came into conflict with the Catholic Church, not only on the question of alien immersion, but also on infant baptism, which rose about that time, growing naturally out of the false doctrine of baptismal salvation. Of this, Long, the historian, says:
"They did not only rebaptize adults, that came over to them, but refused to baptize children, contrary to the practice of the Catholic Church." History of Donatists, page 103.
In 415 A. D., Augustine assembled ninety two ministers in council, and issued the following manifesto:
"That it is our will that all that affirm that young children receive everlasting life, although they be not by the sacrament of baptism renewed, and that will not that young children, which are newly born from their mother's womb, shall he baptized to the taking away of original sin, be anathematized."
Another assembly the same year in Carthage decreed: "We will that whoever denies that little children by baptism are freed from perdition and eternally saved, be accursed."
Following these edicts, came persecutions, and the Donatists were decimated and scattered. It is presumed many of them emigrated to Spain and Italy, and mingled with the pagans in the interior of Africa, taking with them wherever they went the seeds of the truth, and the faith of the apostolic church.
These churches were of apostolic origin, and were planted in Armenia in the first century, and spread into Mesopotamia, and Persia. Theirs was the primitive form of Christianity. A book of the Paulicans, The Key of Truth, says: "Let us then submit humbly to the holy church universal. As we learned from the Lord of the universal and apostolic church, so do we proceed: and we establish in perfect faith those who have not holy baptism. Therefore, according to the word of the Lord, we must first bring them into the faith, induce them to repent, and give baptism unto them."
In commenting on this, Adeney, the historian, says:
"Therefore it is quite arguable that they should be regarded as representing the survival of a most primitive type of Christianity. Ancient, Oriental Baptists, these people were in many respects, Protestants before Protestantism." They did not regard persons of other communions as belonging to the church. Baptist views prevailed among them. They held that men must repent and believe, and, at a mature age be baptized, which alone admitted them to the church. They rejected infant baptism. They baptized by immersion, and rebaptized all that came from other communions. As to their numbers and influence, they increased and spread into many countries. In 690, A. D., Constantine, their teacher, was stoned to death by the command of the emperor. Later, the empress, Theodora, instituted a persecution in which one hundred thousand in Grecian Armenia lost their lives. In the ninth century they rebelled, drove out Michael III, and established in Armenia the free state of Teprice. Here everyone was free to act as conscience dictated, and from here they sent out missionaries into Bulgaria, Bosnia, and Setvia. This state of Tepricc lasted one hundred and fifty years, when it was overrun by the Saracens. From Bulgaria they spread throughout Europe, and southward into Italy and France. In Italy they mingled with the inhabitants of Lombard, and in France they became identified with the Albigenses, another sect of Anabaptists."
Dr. Christian says of them: "Many historians, besides Gibbon, such a, Murabxi and blosheim, regard the Paulicians as the forerunners of the Albigenses, and in Fact, as the same people."
Dr. Conybeare, one of the highest authorities in the world on Paulician history, says:
"The church (Roman) has always adhered to the idea of scriptural regeneration in baptism, although by baptizing infants it has long ago stultified itself and abandoned the essence of baptism. Indeed, the significance of the baptism of Jesus, as it presented itself to Paul and the evangelists, was soon lost sight of by the orthodox churches.
"The various sects of the middle ages, which, knowing themselves simply as Christians, retained baptism in its primitive form and significance steadily refused to recognize as valid the infant baptism of the great orthodox or persecuting churches. And they were certainly in the right, so far as doctrine and tradition count for anything. Needless to say, the churches that have long ago lost genuine baptism, can have no further sacraments, no priesthood, and, strictly speaking, no Christianity. If they would re Inter the pale of Christianity, they must repair, not to Rome or Constantinople, but to some of the obscure circles of Christians, mostly in the East, who have never lost the time continuity of the baptismal sacrament. These are the Paulicians of Armenia, the Bogomil sect around Moscow, the adult Baptists among the Syrians of the upper Tigris, and perhaps the Mennonites and the great Baptist communities of Europe."
Just what is Dr. Conybeare saying? Simply this, that the Roman Catholic Church had lost baptism, as the Anabaptists contend; and those Paedo baptist bodies, coming out of Rome and bringing their Roman baptism with them, do not have true baptism.
A better Baptist argument could not be made, nor one that could better rebuke the weak kneed alien immersonists of the present day, who is ready to take immersion from any source, administered by anybody or nobody; and call it baptism. Little do they care that our fathers for fourteen hundred years before the reformation, through tears, and blood, and sacrifice, fought for this principle, that baptism must be administered by one who has the right, acting under the direction and authority of the church that Jesus built.
Starting in the first century, we saw the rise of the Paulicians, and down through the centuries we have the statement of the historians of their spread to almost all the countries of Europe. In the darkness of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, their influence was felt, not only on the continent of Europe, but in England as well.
Of this period, Orchard says:
"It is undoubtedly certain, from the most authentic records that a considerable number of the Paulicians were, about the middle of the eleventh century, settled in Lombardy, Insubria, but principally in Milan, and that many of them led a wandering life in France, Germany, and other countries, where they captivated the esteem and admiration of the multitude by their sanctity. In Italy, they were called Paterini, and Cathari. In France, they were denominated Bulgarians, from the kingdom of their emigration, also Publicans, instead of Paulicians, and bout homines good men: but were chiefly known by the term Albigenses, from the town of Alby, in the upper Languedoc."
Dr. Christian has this to say of their presence in England:
"After the year 1000 the Paulicians began to make their appearance in England. In 1154 a body of Germans migrated into England, driven into exile by persecution. A portion of them settled in Oxford. William Newberry tells of the terrible punishment meted out to the pastor Gerhard and the people.
Six years later, another company of Paulicians entered Oxford. lie... y If ordered them to be branded on the foreheads with hot irons, publicly whipped through the streets of the city, to have their garment, cut short at the girdles, and be turned mto the open Country. The villages were not to afford them any shelter or food, and they perished a lingering death from cold and hunger."
In conclusion, Orchard says:
"An evident mark of apostolic spirit possessed by this people must be admitted by all; without any funds or public societies to countenance or support the arduous undertaking, otherwise than their respective churches, the Paulicians fearlessly penetrated the most barbarous parts of Europe, and went single handed and single eyed to the conflict with every grade of character. In several instances they suffered death or martyrdom, not counting their lives dear, so that they ,,old promote the cruse of their Redeemer." Mosheim, Gibbon, Robinson, Jones, and other historians, testify to their faith and zeal through the ages, witnessing in every country to the faith of tire fathers, and scaling their testimony with their blood. And yet one hundreth part of it has not been told, and shall nut, till Jesus comes and the books are opened that record the just deeds of the true witnesses of Jesus.
In the preceding Chapters we have traced the origin and shown the belief of a number of sects all down through the ages, who opposed the corruptions of the Roman Catholic Church, and who insisted on baptizing all who came to them, because they did not think that any other than the apostolic church had the right to baptize.
There are many other sects that we did not mention who had the same characteristics but they were not so numerous. Among, these were the Petrobrusians, the Cathari, the Lollards, the Mennonites, and others. All of them held similar views in opposition to the corrupt views and practice of the Catholic Church.
We think it well, however, to sum it up by giving one chapter exclusively to the Anabaptists, that we may put additional emphasis on this one outstanding characteristic of the dissenters through all the ages, viz., their opposition to alien baptism. We have some interesting facts to submit to those who think the Baptists are of recent origin, and that the church that Jesus built ceased to exist during the so called dark ages.
We are reminded, in this connection, of that story in the Old Testament of Elijah, fleeing from the threat of Jezebel unto Mount Horeb, and saying to the angel of the Lord:
“I have been very zealous for the Lord of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thy altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword: and 1, even I, only am left, and they seek my life to take it away." But God had him stand upon the mount before the Lord, while a great wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord: but the Lord was not in the wind. Then came the earthquake, and the foundations of the mountains were shaken, and the earth yawned as if to swallow up all living things, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then a fire, crackling, shriveling, and burning the forests, the flames darting through the underbrush and leaping with red tongue skyward, but the Lord was not in the fire. Then came a still, small voice, and God said to Elijah that He had seven thousand that Elijah did not know about that had not bowed the knee to Baal.
What a lesson for modern Baptists) God has His hosts in all ages, we need not fear. What we need to do is to gird ourselves anew, and with the faith of our fathers, go forth to possess our possessions, and take this world for Christ, under the banners of the church that Jesus built, and with His promise that He will be with us unto the end of the world.
That there have been Baptists, or Anabaptists, as they were called after the first century, A. D., in every century of the Christian era, contrary to the belief of some that the true church was lost, or ceased to exist during the dark ages, we shall now proceed to show:
Here, we have the apostolic church, which was Baptist, as we have shown, because their belief and practice was identical with that of the Baptist churches:
Each of these five marks of the Jerusalem church we have previously elaborated. In this century, the Christians were active in all lands. It is thought that after Philip baptized the eunuch, that Matthias labored in Ethiopia, and that Mark with Simon and Jude preached in Egypt and other parts of Africa. Mark is said to have been martyred by the people of Alexandria. Jude is said to have preached in Idumaea, Syria, and Mesopotamia, and Peter in Pontus and Galatia: John in the region of the seven churches of Asia, Matthew in Parthia, Philip and Andrew in Scythia, Bartholomew in northern and western Asia, Simon and Jude in Persia, Thomas in Media and Carrnania, Paul in Gaul (France), Spain, and Illyricum, Titus in Dalmatia, Pudens and Claudia in the British Isles, and especially in Wales.
'Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word . . ."
"And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord . . ."
"Thus mightly grew the word of the Lord and Prevailed. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost."
The Christian churches of this century were united only by the ties of faith and charity. Independence and equality formed the basis of their internal constitution, and they in every way corresponded to churches of the Baptist faith in the admission of members, or excluding offenders. There was no baptismal salvation taught, though it began to show its head at the close of the century: no infant baptism, no sprinkling for baptism, no orders in the ministry, no ecclesiastical hierarchy. In testimony thereof, we refer the reader to Orchard, Gibbon, Mosheim, Wall, and Bingham, who have written histories that cover this period.
In this century begins the drift toward Rome, hence the beginning of the controversy over alien baptism, and corruption of the church. Tertudian, one of the post apostolic fathers, in the beginning of this century opposes alien baptism. Because of the importance of his statement that we have already quoted in a previous chapter, we take the liberty to quote again by the way of emphasis:
"Heretics have no fellowship in our discipline, and therefore their baptism is not one with ours either, because it is not the same; a baptism which they have it not duly, they have not at all."
The church planted by Paul stood as a unit against alien immersion up to 259 A. D. Eusibius, book 7, chapter 5.
Neander, in speaking of the split in the church at this time, says:
`But here again, it was a Roman bishop, Stephanus, who instigated by the spirit of ecclesiastical arrogance, domination, and zeal, without knowledge, attached to this point of dispute a paramount importance. Hence, toward the dose of the year 253, he issued a sentence of excommunication against the bishops (pastors) of Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Galatia, and Ciliaa, stigmatizing them as Anabaptists, a name, however, they could affirm they did not deserve by their principles; for it was not their wish to administer a second baptism to those who had been already baptized, but they contended that the previous baptism given by heretics could not be recognized as a true one. These induced Cyprian, the bishop (pastor), to propose the point for discussion at two synods held in Carthage in the year 255 A. D., the one composed of eighteen, and the other of seventy one bishops (pastors); and both assemblies declared in favor of Cyprian's views, viz., that the baptism of heretics ought not to be regarded as valid." Neander, Volume 1, page 318.
Again in the Apostolic Constitution given in the Ante Nicean Fathers we have this statement:
"Be ye likewise contented with one baptism alone, that which is into the death of the Lord; not that which is conferred by wicked heretics" Volume 7, page 456.
Constantine came to the throne in 306 A. D. He sought to win the Novatians back to the Catholic Church but failed. Here, also, was a conflict with the Donatists. Both Novatians and Donatists baptized all who came to them from the Roman Church and were called Anabaptists. Near the close of this century we have the first case of infant baptism on record. In 370 A. D. Galetes, the dying son of Emperor Valens, was sprinkled by order of a monarch who swore he would not be contradicted.
The council of Mela in Numidia, Africa, in 416 A. D., enjoins Christians to baptize their infants for forgiveness of sin and curse all who deny the doctrine. Cyril in 412 A. D. was ordained bishop 11r Alexandria. One of his first acts was to close all Novatian churches. Persecution was resorted to of all who rebaptized Catholics. The Lateran Council made a decree to banish all Anabaptists as heretics and an edict was issued by Emperor Theodosius and Honorius declaring that all persons rebaptized and the rebaptizers should be punished with death. Albamus, a zealous minister, with others, was put to death for baptizing. Anabaptists fled to the mountains in Piedmont where they were called Waldenses. In Spain and France there were tens of thousands of Albigenses and Waldenses. The Goths overran Italy in 476. Their liberality toward the Novationists caused them to greatly increase.
Albigenses and Waldenses, at this time, were very active in Spain and France. In 524 A. D. a Catholic council was held at Lerida in which it was declared that such as had fallen into the prevarication of Anabaptism, as the Novatianists and others, if they should return to the Catholic Church, would be received.
Rise of the Paulicians in Armenia, spreading into Mesopotamia and Persia, and in the Taurus mountains, marked the beginning of this century. In Thrace they were called Bogomils. They baptized and rebaptized adults only. They rejected infant baptism, and alien baptism from any source. They were downright Anabaptists. They were numbered by the thousands. Brockett, in his history of the Bogomils of Bulgaria, says of them:
"These sects were Baptists, not only in their views on the subject of baptism and the Lord's Supper, but in their opposition to Paedo baptism, to a church hierarchy, and to the worship of the virgin Mary and the saints, and in their adherence to church independence and freedom of conscience in religious worship. In short, the conclusion has forced itself upon me that in these Christians of Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Armenia, we have an apostolic succession of Christian churches, New Testament churches, and that as early as the twelfth century, these churches numbered a converted, believing membership as large as that of the Baptist churches throughout the world today."
Many thousands of the Spanish Vaudois, another name for the Paulicians, Albigenses, and Waldenses, which had settled there on account of persecution in the east, emigrated over the Pyrenees from the Spanish to the French foot of the mountains, and even into Piedmont. These were all Anabaptists.
Bonizo, bishop of Sutrium, states, that at this period, the Paterines arose in Italy. Their public religion consisted of nothing but prayer, reading and expounding the gospels. They said a Christian church ought to consist of only good people. Faith alone saves. Immersion only for baptism. No infant baptism.
Towards the end of the eighth century, things grew brighter for the Paulicians and others who had been so severely persecuted during the seventh and eighth centuries. Under the emperor, Nicephorus, they had restored to them, to some extent, their civil and religious privileges. During these auspicious years, the Paulicians widely disseminated their opinions, and became formidable in the East, according to Chamber's Encyclopedia in the article on the Paulicians.
"Towards the end of this century, about 845 A. D., to be more exact, the Empress Theodora issued very severe decrees against the Paulicians, and the cruelty of her officers, in enforcing these decrees, was horrible beyond expression. Her sanguinary inquisitors explored cities and mountains in lesser Asia. After confiscating the goods and property of one hundred thousand of these people, the owners to that number were put to death in the most barbarous manner, and made to expire slowly, under a variety of the most exquisite tortures. Many were scattered abroad, particularly in Bulgaria. A portion of this people emigrated from Thrace, and their doctrines soon struck deep root in European soil. Such as escaped from the inquisitors, fled to the Saracens, who received them with compassion, and in conjunction with whom, under experienced officers, maintained a war with the Cream nation for one hundred and fifty years" Orchard's History, page 137.
The Paulicians, during the reign of John Zimicus, in the tenth century, gained much strength, and went everywhere into other provinces, preaching the Gospel. They went into Italy. They became a thorn in the flesh of the Roman pontiffs. The Bogomils were a branch of the Paulicians who lived in France. They got their name from one of their leaders who lived in the tenth century. The persecution of the Bogomils was continuous and severe. Although every effort was made to destroy them, they survived. Conybeare, the historian, says of them:
`They were not stamped out, but only driven under ground. It (their heresies) still lurked all over Europe, but especially in the Balkans, and along the Rhine. In these hiding places it seemed to have gathered its forces together in secret, in order to emerge once more into daylight, when an opportunity presented itself. The opportunity was the European Reformation in which, especially under the form of Anabaptism and Unitarian opinion, this leaven of the early Apostolic Church is found freely mingling with and modifying other forms of faith." The Key to Truth, page 196.
In this quotation from Conybeare, you will note that he calls them Anabaptists, and says they continued till the reformation, in the sixteenth century, and that they preserved and perpetuated the leaven of the Apostolic Church.
Turning to the West, in this century, we see also the Paulicians strongly entrenched in France. Gibbon the historian, says:
"It was in the country of the Albigeois, in the southern province of France where the Paulicians mostly took root. These people were known by different names in various provinces." Roman History, chapter 54.
These French Paulicians were of the same faith as the Bulgarians. They had no bishops. Baptism followed justification. They baptized all who came to them from the Catholics. They rejected infant baptism. Hence they were also Anabaptists.
If nine hundred thousand of these people were put to death in the provinces of Greece by the Empress Theodora, and, in the face of this, Gibbon says that it was in the provinces of southern France where the Paulicians mostly took root, we shall leave it to the reader to imagine how many thousands there were in France, Italy, and Spain that stood for the faith once delivered to the saints, a mighty army of the faithful, which like the waves of the sea, broke century after century against the Roman power until the Reformation in the sixteenth century, when the great tidal wave came that almost engulfed the Roman Catholics, and did succeed in breaking away from her grasp the millions of those who came out of her with the Protestant Reformation.
In the preceding chapter, we traced briefly the Anabaptists through the first ten centuries of the Christian era. We say briefly, for if we had given all the information left to us by the historians, it would have filled volumes. The record we have given is but fragmentary. For instance, in a given century, we were content, as a rule, to give the movements of one sect in one country, when we might have given the movements of the many sects in all the countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Then, when we consider that the historians have given us but glimpses of the history of this period, that most of the history of these Anabaptists is unwritten, and shall never be written, we marvel at the faith and fidelity of these people, numbered by the millions, driven, persecuted, exiled, wandering to and fro in the earth, put to death, as many as 900,000 in a single century in a single province, and yet through it all, surviving and persevering to carry the torch of truth in their dying hands, and hand it on to the generations that shall come. Marvelous faith! Incomparable courage! Unsurpassed fidelity to the sacred trust that God had put into their hands!
We cannot refrain from quoting in this connection the inspired words in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews:
“Who through faith subdued kingdoms,wrought righteousness,obtained promises,stopped the mouths of lions,quenched the violence of fire, the edge of the sword out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the akens: women received their dead raised to life again; others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection; others had trials of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented: of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth."
And the sad part of it all is, that they suffered most of these things from those that claimed to be Christians themselves, the Roman and Greek Catholics. It is significant that the Goths who conquered the Romans, and the Saracens who came nearly conquering the Roman and Greek hierarchies, were far more lenient to these Anabaptists than were the Roman and Greek Catholics themselves.
We come now to trace the history of the Anabaptists from the tenth to the sixteenth century, when we have the Protestant reformation.
"From Italy," says Mosheim, "the Paulicians sent colonies into almost all the other provinces of Europe, and formed gradually a considerable number of religious assemblies who adhered to their doctrine, and who realized every opposition and indignity from the popes. They captivated the esteem and the admiration of the multitude by their sanctity. In Italy they were called Paterini, and Cathari."
Orchard says of the Paterines whom Mosheim mentions above: "The Paterines were in 1040 become very numerous and conspicuous at Milan, which was their principal residence. Here they flourished at least two hundred years. Their churches were divided into sixteen compartments such as the English Baptists would call associations. Each of them was subdivided into parts which would here be called churches, or congregations. One of the principal churches was that of Concoreggo, and the members of churches in this association were more than fifteen hundred. During the kingdoms of the Goths and Lombards, the Anabaptists, as the Catholics called them, had their share of churches and baptisteries."
Bruno and Berenger were reformers in France in 1035 A. D. Berenger drew after him vast numbers of disciples. Mezerey, the French historian, says his doctrines pervaded France, Italy, Germany, and other kingdoms. His followers were called gospellers for one hundred years, and many of them suffered death for their opinions. Bellarmine says: 'The Berengarians admitted only adults to baptism, which error the Anabaptists embraced," and Mezerey declares Berenger to have been head of the Sacramentarians, or Anabaptists, and Morel] estimates that by the year 1160 A. D., over 800,000 preferred the Berengarian faith.
Coming into the twelfth century, we have not only to consider the 800,000 Berengarians, but a galaxy of new names that arose, and had a tremendous following, threatening, wherever they lived, the very existence of the Roman Catholic Church itself. These names are Peter de Bruys in southern France, Henry of Toulouse, Arnold of Brescia in Italy, and Peter of Lyons.
Peter de Brays appeared about 1110 in the provinces of Languedoc and Provence in southern France. He opposed the corruptions of the Catholic Church, and baptized those that came from that communion. They were, therefore, called Anabaptists. The Bishop of Meaux twits Calvin as follows: "You adopt Henry and Peter de Bruys among your predecessors, and both of them, everybody knows, were Anabaptists."
Peter de Bruys continued his labors for twenty years, when he was committed to the flames at Saint Giles by an enraged populace, led on by the clergy of the Catholic Church.
Clergy for its superstition and false teaching. His influence was so tremendous that Bernard wrote to the Count of Saint Giles, "The churches are without people, the people without priests, priests without reverence, and lastly, Christians without Christ. The life of Christ is denied to infants by refusing them the grace of baptism." Arnold of Brescia in Italy arose about 1137. He traveled in France in early life, and was a pupil of the renowned Peter Abelard. A man of powerful eloquence, he struck at the wealth and luxury of the Roman Clergy. The people rose in rebellion against the bishops. The Roman Church became alarmed, and in council in 1139, he was condemned to perpetual silence. He left Italy and went to Zurich in Switzerland. Driven from here by the influence of Bernard, he went to Rome, and bearded the lion in his den at the very capitol itself. For ten years he maintained his ascendancy over the popes, who trembled in the Vatican, or wandered as exiles in other cities, but, finally, the popes gained the ascendancy, and in 1155 he was seized, crucified, and burned. Mosheim says of him:
"This reformer, in whose character and manners there were several things worthy of esteem, drew after him a great number of disciples, who derived from him the denomination of Arnoldists; and, in succeeding ages, discovered the spirit and intrepidity of their leader, as often as any favorable opportunities of reforming the church were offered to their zeal."
Peter of Lyons was an opulent merchant, and came to prominence as a reformer about 1160. In translating the first gospels from Latin into French, he was astounded to find that the religion of the Roman Church differed almost totally from that which was taught by Christ and the Apostles. He abandoned his business, distributed his riches among the poor, adopted the beliefs of the Waldenses of Piedmont, and went out to teach the Apostolic faith. His views were in accord with the Albigenses, the Arnoldists, the Petrobrussians, and other dissenters who were called Anabaptists. They increased rapidly. He was anathematized by the pontiff. Being forced by persecution to leave Lyons, he passed through the different provinces, preaching the word with great acceptance. He went to Germany with many of his follower, who were called Picards, and then into Bohemia. On account of persecution by Philip II of France, many of his followers fled to the valleys of the Piedmont, taking with them the new translation of the Bible, while others went to Germany, and some to the Netherlands, scattering the fires of the dissent to the Catholic doctrines and corruption. Orchard says:
"His doctrines were carried into Flanders, Poland, Spain, Calabria, and even into the dominions of the grand Sultan." Thus they increased throughout Europe, and in Narbonne and the adjacent countries they became so powerful as to threaten the papal power with an overthrow."
Dieckoff, a German historian of the Waldenses says of them:
"There was a connection between the Waldenses and the followers of Peter of Brays, Henry of Lausanne, and Arnold of Bresica, and they finally united in one body about 1180, as they held common views" pages 167, 168.
This century is characterized by most horrible persecution of those who opposed the evil practices and false doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. It seems, at this time, that the dissenters had become so numerous, and so scattered abroad in all the countries of Europe, that the Roman Church became exceedingly angry, and determined to suppress them or exterminate them. We notice first, the treatment of the Paterines in Italy. In 1220 A. D., Honorius III induced Frederick II to issue an edict against them. Mosheim says there was no alternative of escaping the human monsters of the inquisition save in flight, and that many passed out of Italy, and spread like an inundation throughout the European provinces. Other edicts were issued, one of which stated: inumerable multitude.
A more horrible picture is presented in the treatment of the Waldenses and Albigenses in Spain and France. Pope Innocent issued decrees against them, and offered indulgence to all who would join a crusade to destroy them. A formidable army of fanatics were gathered by this means from all over Europe numbering from three to five hundred thousand. At their head marched Simon de Montford, Earl of Liecester. In a few months, two hundred thousand were put to death, others driven from their burning homes were wandering in the woods and mountains, dying of want and starvation. In the fall of the same year, another crusade was led by Alice, Simon de Montfor's wife. All found were hung on gibbets. A hundred inhabitants of Brom had their eyes plucked out and their noses cut off. This continued with more or less intensity for a period of forty years, during which time, Orchard says, one million lives were extinguished. Yet, in spite of this, Clark, the historian, estimates the Berengarians, another name for these dissenters, as numbering eight hundred thousand in 1260. Many of those who escaped fled to Bohemia, Livonia, and Poland, where they were called Picaxds, or Waldenses. An inquisitor of the Church of Rome says of these Bohemian refugees:
"They say the church of Rome is not the Church of Jesus Christ, but an assembly of ungodly men, and that it ceased to be the true church at the time Pope Sylvester presided in 330 A. D. The Bohemian writers say they baptized and rebaptized such persons as joined their churches, and had always done so. In other words they were Anabaptists, and had always been Anabaptists."
We have said that the Waldenses or Picards, who fled into Bohemia on account of persecutions in the thirteenth century, Germany. Peter Payne, principal of Edmund Hall in the University of Oxford, England, being persecuted because of opposition outstanding Anabaptists, John Wyclif of England, John Huss, and Jerome of Bohemia, and Walter Lollard from the Rhine in Germany. Peter Payne, principal of Edmund Hall in the University of Oxford, England, being persecuted because of opposition to papal violence, fled to Bohemia, carrying Wyclif's tracts, and these were introduced into the University of Prague, where Huss was a Professor. About the same time, or a little carrier, Walter Lollard, a man of learning and eloquence, and famous for his writings, visited England, and because they were of the same faith, being Anabaptists, consorted with the Wyclifites. Meanwhile, in Bohemia, John Huss and Jerome were constantly fanning the fires of dissension against the Catholic faith. Huss was excommunicated by the pope for contumacy, and afterwards tried for heresy, and burnt at the stake. As to the views of his followers, Erasmus says:
The Hussites renounced all rights and ceremonies of the Catholic Church; they ridiculed our doctrine and practice in both the sacraments, and they admit none until they are dipped in mater.
Jerome of Prague was the intimate friend of Huss. He traveled in many countries of Europe including England, where he had access to Wyclif's writings, which he copied and took back with him to Prague. Huss and Jerome were tried by the same council and burnt at the stake by the same order. Huss died, praying for his persecutors, Jerome singing: "Hanc animam, in flammis, offero, Christi tibi." (This soul of mine in flames of fire, O Christ, I offer Thee). Huss and Jerome both taught those heresies charged against the Anabaptists. Walter Lollard was a laborious and eloquent preacher among the Baptists along the Rhine. He, too, was burnt at the stake in 1320 A. D.
As we approach the great Protestant Reformation, we find the dissenters everywhere cowed before the growing power and inquisitions of the Roman Catholic Church. Many outrages were visited on them. Orchard describes one against the inhabitants of the valley of Pragela in Piedmont: In the mountains were covered with snow. The inhabitants fled to one of the highest mountains in the Alps with their wives and children, the unhappy mothers carrying the cradle in one hand, and in the other, leading such of the offspring as were able to walk. The inhuman invaders pursued them until darkness absented the objects of their fury. Many were slain before they reached the mountains. Overtaken by the shades of night, the afflicted outcasts, wandered up and down the mountains, covered with snow. Benumbed with cold, some fell asleep, never to awaken. When the night had passed, there were found in their cradles or lying on the snow, four score infants frozen to death. Many of their mothers were dead by their side, and others were on the point of expiring."
A little later, an army was raised by Albert, the pope's legate, and marched into the valley of Loyse. The inhabitants fled to their caves in the mountains. Albert and his army followed, and built fires at the entrance to the caves. Four hundred children were suffocated in their cradles or in the arms of their dead mothers. Multitudes, to avoid death by suffocation, or being burnt at the stake, threw themselves headlong down the precipices of the mountains, where they were dashed to pieces on the rocks below. If any escaped death by the fall, they were brutally slaughtered by the soldiers. More than three thousand from the valley of the Loyse perished on this occasion. In order to have money for the expenses of this expedition, the pope granted indulgence to sin, and pardon for past crimes.
Mosheim says of this period:
"Before the rise of Luther or Calvin, there lay concealed in almost all the countries of Europe, particularly in Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland, and Germany, many persons who adhered tenaciously to the doctrines of the Dutch Baptists, which the Waldenses, Wyclifites and Hussites had maintained, some in a more disguised, and others in a more open and public manner, viz., that the kingdom of Christ, or the visible church he had established on earth was an assembly of true and real saints, and ought, therefore, to be inaccessible to the wicked and unrighteous, and also exempt from those institutions which human prudence suggested, to oppose the progress of iniquity, or to correct and reform transgressors. This maxim is the true source of all the peculiarities that are to be found in the religious doctrine and discipline of the Baptists. It is evident that these views were approved by many before the dawn of the reformation."
Mosheim further says of this period:
"The threatening aspect of affairs in Germany suggested to the Picards the necessity of emigrating, and shoals of German Baptists emigrated into Holland, and the Netherlands, and in the course of time, amalgamated with the Dutch Baptists."
And now, with the beginning of the sixteenth century dawns the reformation under Luther and Calvin, but again we must quote Mosheim:
"There were certain sects and doctors against whom the zeal, vigilance, and severity of Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists were united. The objects of their common aversion were the Anabaptists."
And now comes the reformation, and we close this story of the Anabaptists up to this time, having traced them, in the words of Mosheim, the great Lutheran historian, "From the remote depths of antiquity." In the light of these proofs, who shall say that the Church that Jesus built ever ceased to exist, or that the torch of truth as preserved and handed down by Apostles was in any age ever extinguished?
About the middle of the fifteenth century, persons of widely different views, but united in their opposition to the teachings and corruption of the Catholic Church, handed themselves together in Bohemia into one body, and called themselves Unites Fratrum, the United Brethren. In spite of persecution, they increased rapidly, and by the beginning of the sixteenth century, they numbered two hundred congregations. Many counts, barons, and noblemen joined their churches, who built meeting houses in cities and villages. Among them were many Anabaptists. They had the Bible translated into the Bohemian tongue, and printed at Venice and Nuremburg. They later established three printing offices where they published Bibles, one at Prague, another at Beinzlaw, and a third at Kralitz in Moravia. In 1507 the King of Bohemia yielded to pressure, and began the persecution of these brethren.
Some of them emigrated, others retired into forests and caves, others were brought before priests, where, refusing to renounce their faith, they were convicted and burned. Later, when Luther appeared, weary of persecution, they made overtures to him, agreed to leave off rebaptizing, and came into the Lutheran community. However, the Baptists among them, refusing, were still a scattered community, and were now called Anabaptists, or Picard Calvinists. The emperor expressed astonishment at their numbers. They lived in forty five divisions called colleges, exactly as their ancestors had done in France four hundred years before. The emperor then issued an edict of banishment against them on pain of death. Again they were scattered. The Moravians contend that they are the descendants of these churches.
In Germany, where Luther started the reformation, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, the period is marked by two important events, the work of Thomas Munzer and the Munster rebellion. Thomas Munzer was of Mulhausen in Thuringia. He had been a priest, but became a disciple of Luther. Luther called him his Absalom, and the people called him Luther's curate. Later, Orchard says, he became an Anabaptist, but Christian says he was never a Baptist. Be that as it may, he was a great preacher among the common people. While lades, was hunting, writing, anti consorting with princes, Munzer was preaching in the country, and observing the condition of the tenants. He saw their miserable bondage. Luther's plan was to free the priests from obedience to the pope, but to allow the officers of the state to tyrannize over the people. Munzer saw this, and remonstrated against it. As Voltaire says:
"Luther had been successful in stirring up the princes, nobles, and magistrates against the pope and bishops: But Munzer stirred up the peasants against them. He and his companions went about addressing themselves to the inhabitants of the country villages in Saubia, Misnia, Thuringia, and Franconia. They laid open that dangerous truth which is implanted in every breast, that all men are born, equal: saying, that if the popes had treated the princes like their subjects, the princes had treated the common people like beasts."
When Luther learned of Munzer’s success, his jealousy knew no bounds. Though at first he seemed favorable to the Anabaptists, he could not brook anyone heading the reformation but himself. Carlostadt, a rebaptizcr, he followed from place to place, and had him expelled. On hearing of Munzer's success, he wrote the magistrates of Mulhausen, asking them to require Munzer to prove his call from God by working a miracle. The people resented the insult, and expelled Luther's emissaries, and the magistrates elected new senators of whom Munzer was one. The Baptists became the common objects of persecution by Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists in both Germany and Switzerland. Many Baptists were drowned and burned at the stake. Munzer drew up a memorial expressive of their grievances, which was sent all over Germany. It consisted of twelve articles on civil and religious liberty, of which Voltaire exclaims, "A Lycrugus would have signed it." At the close of this memorial, the peasants appealed to Luther. He replied that it was foolish to put all mankind upon a level, that Abraham had slaves, and published a decree issued to the princes and nobles to unite all their forces to suppress sedition, and to destroy all who resisted government. The oppressed peasants were accordingly met by the sword and defeated, and Munzer, their friend and leader, was put to death.
Ten years later the city of Munster in Westphalia became the scene of an uprising and rebellion. Again, as before, this uprising was started by a Paedo baptist minister of the Lutheran persuasion, assisted by other ministers of the Protestant Reformation. This came about over the Protestant religion, and was begun between the Catholics and Protestants. Later, many Anabaptists were drawn into it. The frenzied people, many of them ignorant peasants, seeking civil liberty because of oppression, began to erect a new republic, calling it the New Jerusalem. This seditious conduct of these people including a handful of Anabaptists, drew upon the whole body of Anabaptists, whether innocent or guilty, the wrath of the princes and nobles. Cassander, a papist, says that many Anabaptists opposed the acts of those of Munster, and taught the contrary doctrine. Nevertheless, as they were to a man for civil and religious liberty, and at the same time opposed to infant baptism, the severest laws were enacted against them. Mosheim says an unspeakable number of Baptists suffered death, not because they were rebellious subjects, but because they were judged to be incurable heretics.
At this time, Menno Simon became a great leader among the Anabaptists. He was born at Witmarsum in Friesland in 1496. He was educated for the Catholic priesthood, and in 1524 became a minister of that faith. He knew nothing of the Bible, would not touch it lest he should be seduced by its teachings. His first trouble of mind was over the doctrine of trans substantiation, but he attributed the impression to the devil. He continued to spend his time in worldly amusement, but was uneasy in his mind. He decided at this time to study the New Testament, and when he did, he saw the error of popery, and began to preach the true gospel.
About this time, among many thousands of others that were put to death, was one Sicke Snyden, an Anabaptist, who was beheaded at Lewarden. The faith of this man, who preferred death to renouncing his belief, led Menno to look into the matter of baptism, and he became convinced that there was no infant baptism taught in the Bible, and that the Anabaptists, or Baptists, were being persecuted for truth's sake. He studied the Bible anew, was convicted of his sins, converted, baptized by immersion and became a Baptist. He stated at this time: "We shall find no other baptism besides dipping in water, which is acceptable to God and maintained in his word." He spent a you in studying and writing, when he was called as pastor of a Baptist church. AB around, he saw the Baptists suffering persecution and death after most awful torture, but he accepted the charge. He had great trials and privations, was compelled many times to move from one province to another with his wife and family, but wherever he went, he was marvelously blessed in his work.
He drew up his plan of doctrine and practice entirely from the scriptures in the form of catechisms, all of which were in accord with the practice of the Anabaptists down through the ages. These doctrines included the rejection of infant baptism, the imminent approach of the millennium, the abolition of war, the prohibition of oaths, the vanity of human science, the practical piety of the members as the mark of the true church.
The success of Menno aroused the ire of the state, and in 1543 they offered a reward for his arrest, but he found refuge for awhile under the patronage of the lord of Fresenburg and Lubeck Churches were formed, pastors called, and here Menno by the printing press carried on his teaching of truth.
In 1560 a decree was issued against the Anabaptists that forbade anyone to unite with them. In Hamburg it was further decreed that no rebaptized person should be taken into employment or pursue any profession. Still the Baptists increased, though driven from province to province, as was Menno. Menno continued his work until 1561, when he died and was buried in his own garden. As a result of persecution, many Baptists at this time emigrated to the Netherlands and Holland, where they had religious liberty, and where also came many Baptists from England fleeing from the persecutions under Queen Elizabeth. It was from Holland, also, that many emigrants at this period sought asylum in America, that they might enjoy the religious freedom of this new land of promise. We would not close this chapter without two quotations concerning the Anabaptists, one from Cardinal Hosius, who certainly cannot be prejudiced in favor of the Baptists. Cardinal Hosius says: "If the truth of religion were to be judged 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 Anabaptists; since there have been none for these twelve hundred years past that have been more grievously punished."
The other quotation is from the Lutheran historian, Mosheim, who also surely cannot be prejudiced in favor of the Baptists. Mosheim says:
"Before Luther and Calvin, there lay concealed in almost all the countries of Europe many persons who adhered tenaciously to the doctrines of the Dutch Baptists."
And thus we have proof from history given by the enemies of this despised sect that they existed for at least twelve hundred years before the Protestant reformation, and that their greatest offense was that they were the true church of Christ and the only true church, to whom had been given the ordinances, and taught that no one had a right to administer baptism and set the Lord's table but themselves.
For about one hundred years following the reformation, the church of England baptized by immersion. And yet, in spite of this, the Baptists of England objected to their baptism on the grounds that they came out of Rome, were an apostate church, and therefore were not qualified to administer baptism.
When the Brownists left the English Church, they objected to its hierarchy, liturgy, constitution and government, but accepted their baptism. There was one John Smyth , who broke with them on this issue, contending with them that if the church was apostate, as a daughter of Rome, therefore, it was not qualified to administer baptism and the Lord's Supper. Bishop Hall jumped into the controversy between Smith and the Brownists, and while excoriating Smith, taunted the Brownists with these words:
"You that cannot abide a false church, why do you content yourself with a false sacrament, especially, since (as you contend) the English Church is no church, and therefore her baptism a nullity? He (Smyth) tells you true, your station is unsafe: Either you must go forward to him or back to us. You must go forward to Anabaptism, or come back to us. All your rabbins cannot answer that charge of your rebaptized brother."
There is a story that Smyth, discrediting all baptism in England, went to Holland to find it, and finally baptized himself.
This story is discredited by both Orchard and Christian. Whether it be true or not, it shows that the question of the administrator was a live question in both England and Holland at this time. To know definitely how the Englist Baptists stood at this time on the question of Alien Immersion, we have but to look at their doctrinal statement written in 1689:
"Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only lawgiver, to be continued in His church to the end of the world. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ."
One of the names appended to this doctrinal statement is that of William Kiffin, who was pastor of a Baptist church in Devonshire for sixty one years until his death in 1701.
In England acts of general pardon were published in 1538, 1540, and 1550. Thieves and vagabonds received the royal favor, but Baptists were excluded. Under bloody Mary, blood flowed from Baptist veins, and Queen Elizabeth followed the example of her wicked father, and, like him, banished Baptists, giving them twenty days to leave the realm. For two hundred years, according to court records, Baptists were persecuted in England.
The historian, Fronde, speaking of some Baptists who were burned at the stake, says:
"The details are gone, their names are gone. Poor Hollanders they were and that is all. Scarcely the fact seemed worth mention, so shortly is it told in a passing paragraph. For them no Europe was agitated, no courts were ordered into mourning, no royal hearts trembled with indignation. At their death the world looked on complacent, indifferent, or exultant. Yet here, too, out of twenty five poor men and women, were found fourteen who by no terror of stake or torture could be tempted to say they believed what they did not believe. History for them has no word of praise: yet they, too, were not giving their blood in vain. Their lives might have been as useless as the lives of most of us. In their death they assisted in paying the purchase money for England's freedom."
And so the battle against Anabaptists went on from century to century. Catholics might persecute Episcopalians, and Episcopalians, in power, persecute the Catholics, but both joined in their animosity and persecution of the Baptists. Neither in Germany nor England did they find resting place for their feet, while Spain, France, and Italy was a holocaust of persecution. We think of the cruelty of Herod who slew the male children of Judah, and shudder at the horrible thought, but that was only one little province. Down through the ages, all over the continent of Europe, and in England, as well, hundreds of thousands of children died of hunger and cold, while their mothers wandered on to perish in the forests and mountains, and over the whole continent might be heard the cry of Rachels, weeping for their children. And why? Because these Anabaptists affirmed that theirs was the only scriptural church, and their baptism was the only scriptural baptism.
Did they die in vain? Were they martyrs to fanaticism, or to a principle as old as Christianity itself? You, who call yourselves Baptists today, will you throw away this priceless heritage that they preserved for you at the price of persecution, martyrdom, and death? When you do this, you not only brand them as fanatics, but you surrender the principle that differentiates us, and Baptists become just one branch of the Universal Church, with no more authority to administer the ordinances than apostate Rome or her daughter, the Church of England, that was born in the evil mind of Henry the Eighth.
More than one hundred years previous to this period, America had been discovered, but it was a long time before colonization assumed any proportions and became permanent. But about this time, when persecution was so rife on the continent and in England, multitudes, seeking to get away from the persecutions of Rome, Calvin, Luther, and the English Church, and find religious liberty and freedom from persecution in the new world, embarked on ships from various ports, and sailed across the seas. Here came the Pilgrims, the Plymouth brethren, the Hugenots, and here came, as they had opportunity, the poor, oppressed Anabaptists, who had found no place in Europe where they could worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences.
But it is the irony of history that in the new world the persecuted became persecutors all indeed save the Baptists. The world is familiar with the story of Roger Williams, wandering in the snows of a New England winter, but there are some other facts of American history concerning the Baptists with which we are not so familiar. Governor Winthrop tells of a lady Moody, who purchased a plantation at Lynn, ten miles northeast of Boston. He says she was a wise, amiable, religious woman, but was taken with the error of denying baptism to infants. She was dealt with by the authorities, and went to Long Island and settled among the Dutch. Then he adds: "Many others, infected with Anabaptism, removed thither also."
In 1644, a man by the name of Painter turned Anabaptist, and refused to allow his new born child to be baptized. Being enjoined by the court to have the child baptized, he still refused, telling them that infant baptism was an anti Christian ordinance. For this he was tied and whipped.
By this time Governor Winthrop reports the Anabaptists as having increased and spread throughout Massachusetts. In 1644 the General Court passed a law for the suppression of the Anabaptists. The law in part follows:
"Forasmuch as experience hath plentifully and often proved, that since the first rising of the Anabaptists, they have been the incendiaries of the commonwealths, and the infectors of persons in main matters of religion, and the troublers of churches in all places where they have been, and that they have held the baptizing of infants unlawful, and have usually held other errors of heresies therewith: (therefore) it is ordered and agreed, that if any person or persons in this jurisdiction shall either openly condemn or oppose the baptizing of infants, or go about secretly to seduce others from the approbation or use thereof, or shall purposely depart the congregation at the ministration of the ordinance, every such person shall be sentenced to banishment."
Below, we append a letter which the General Court wrote to the Plymouth brethren:
"Honored end beloved Brethren: we have heard heretofore of divers Anabaptists arisen up in your jurisdiction, and connived at: but being but few, we well hoped that it might have pleased God by the endeavors of yourselves and the faithful elders with you, to have reduced such erring men again to the right way. But now, to our grief, we are credibly informed that your patient bearing with such men hath produced another effect, namely, the multiplying and increasing of such errors, and we fear may be of other errors also, if timely care be not taken to suppress the same."
Obadiah Holmes, charged with being an Anabaptist, was imprisoned, and then publicly whipped, of which he writes:
"The man stuck with all his strength (yea spitting on his hands three times, as many affirmed) with a three corded whip, giving me therewith thirty strokes. When he had loosed me from the post, having joyfulness in my heart, and cheerfulness in my countenance, as the spectators observed, I told the magistrate you have struck me with roses."
The whipping was so severe that Governor Jenckes said:
"Mr. Holmes was whipped thirty stripes, and in such an unmerciful manner that in many days, if not some weeks, he could take no rest, but lay on his knees and elbows, not being able to suffer any part of his body to touch the bed whereon he lay."
The trial and whipping of Holmes led Henry Dunster, the president of Harvard, to become a Baptist. He preached a sermon on Infant Baptism which led to the organization of a Baptist church in Boston. The magistrates required the members of this church to attend the Established Church. The General Court disfranchised them, and committed them to prison, and pursued them with fines and imprisonment for three years. The General Court in 1668 sentenced Thomas Gould, William Turner, and John Fannum to be banished, and because they would not go, they were imprisoned nearly a year. The separation of church and state was not written into the constitution of Massachusetts until 1888, more than a hundred years after the Declaration of Independence.
Virginia was founded by supporters of the Church of England in 1606, and for one hundred and eighty years, until 1786, the Baptists suffered persecution and did not enjoy religious freedom. The charter provided:
"The presidents, councils, and ministers should provide that the true word and service of God should be preached and used according to the rites and doctrines of the Church of England."
The bloody code of 1611 the colony to go to the parish minister, and give an account of their faith and religion, and if not satisfactory, they were required to come often to him for instruction. If they refused to go, the governor would have them whipped for the first offense. For the second refusal, they were to be whipped twice, and acknowledge their fault on the Sabbath day to the congregation. For the third offense, they were to be whipped every day till they complied.
In 1662 the following law was passed:
"Whereas many schismatical persons out of their averseness to the orthodox established religion, or out of new tangled conceits of their own heretical inventions, refuse to have their children baptized. Be it therefore enacted, that all persons that in contempt of the divine sacrament of baptism shall refuse when they may carry their child to a lawful minister in that country to have them baptized, shall be amersed two thousand pounds of tobacco, half to the publique."
The fierce antagonism to the Baptists in Virginia aroused the indignation of both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Madison wrote:
"That diabolical, hell conceived principle of persecution rages among some: and to their eternal infancy the clergy can furnish their quote of imps for such purposes. There are at this time in the adjacent country not less than five or six well meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which, in the main, ere very orthodox."
In 1785 the Baptists presented to Mr. Madison their declaration of principles and prayed him that he would embody them in a memorial to the legislature. His influence, together with that of Jefferson, prevailed, and in 1786, Mr. Jefferson prepared and secured the passage by the General Assembly of Virginia the Act For Religious Freedom, a part of which is as follows:
"Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry, whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or beliefs; nor by his arguments to maintain his opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or effect his civil capacities."
While Mr. Jefferson was not a Baptist, and, indeed, not a believer in the miraculous events recorded in the life of Jesus, he was deeply impressed and influenced by the spirit of democracy and religious freedom that prevailed among the Baptists.
The following was communicated to the Christian Watchman nearly one hundred years ago by the Rev. Dr. Fishback of Lexington, Kentucky.
"Mr. Editor, the following circumstances which occurred in the state of Virginia, relative to Mr. Jefferson, was detailed to me by Elder Andrew Tribble, about six years ago, who since died when ninety two or three years old. The facts may interest some of your readers. Andrew was the pastor of a small Baptist Church which held monthly meetings a short distance from Mr. Jefferson's house, eight or ten years before the American Revolution. Mr. Jefferson attended the meetings of the church several months in succession, and after one of them he asked Elder Tribble to go home and dine with him, with which he complied.
"Mr. Tribble asked Mr. Jefferson if he was pleased with their church government. Mr. Jefferson replied that it had struck him with great force and had interested him much, that he considered it the only form of pure democracy that then existed in the world, and had concluded that it would be the best plan of government for the American Colonies. This was several years before the Declaration of Independence."
Judge Story, in his day the most eminent of American jurists, says:
To Roger Williams belongs the renown of establishing in this country in 1636 a code of laws in which we read for the first time, since Christianity ascended the throne of the Caesars, the declaration that conscience should be free, and man should not be punished for worshiping God in any way they were persuaded He required."
Bancroft, the historian, says:
"Roger Williams was then but little more than thirty years of age, but his mind had already matured a doctrine which secures him immortally of fame, as its application has given religious peace to the American world."
Gervinus, the most astute historian of Germany in his day, adds this testimony:
"In accordance with these principles, Roger Williams insisted, in Massachusetts, upon allowing entire freedom of conscience, and upon entire separation of church and state. But he was obliged to flee, and in 1636 he formed in Rhode Island a small and new society in which perfect freedom in matters of faith was allowed, and in which the majority ruled in civil affairs. Here in a little state, the fundamental principles of political and ecclesiastical liberty practically prevailed before they were taught in any of the schools of philosophy of Europe. At that time people predicted only a short existence for these democratic principles universal suffrage, universal eligibility to office, the annual change of rulers, perfect religious freedom, and the Miltonian doctrine of schisms. But not only have these ideas and these forms of government maintained themselves here, but precisely from this little state have they extended themselves throughout the United States. They have conquered the aristocratic tendencies in Carolina and New York, the High Church in Virginia, the Theocracy in Massachusetts, and the Monarchy in all America. They have given laws to a continent, and formidable through their moral influence, they lie at the bottom of all the democratic movements which are now shaking the nations of Europe."
Looking back on this dark history of America, we are constrained to ask, did these atrocious things take place in America, the land of the free, and the home of the brave? We are also constrained to make this observation, that despotism in government and despotism in religion go hand in hand, and whenever we surrender our democracy in government, we surrender our liberty in religion. Witness Stalin in Russia, Hitler in Germany, and Mussolini in Italy, and take warning. Hold with the Anabaptists, the rebaptizers of the ages, who have always contended for democracy in government, and freedom in religion.
"They climbed the steep ascent to heaven
Through peril, toil and pain.
O God to us may grace be given
To follow in their train!"
"Watchman, What of the Night?
"Watchman, What of the Night?
"The watchman said: The Morning "Cometh,
and also the night, "If ye will enquire,
enquire ye. "Return, come!"
With nineteen hundred years of glorious history written in blood, one would think that there were some things among Baptists that were settled, and settled forever, and that one of these things would be the question of receiving alien baptism, which was the first question that arose to cause a division in the ranks of the followers of Jesus, and remained a divisive question through the centuries. But eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. One generation, it seems, cannot learn from another. Each must learn in the hard school of experience. In these latter days there are certain men who have crept into our churches that would, for expediency, or some other reason, compromise this principle that has through the ages been the bulwark of our Baptist faith, and for which our fathers died.
What has been, and what is the situation in the Northeastern states of America? Dr. J. H. Grime has given the answer to this question in this concise statement:
"Up until less than one hundred years ago, the Baptists of America, as a denomination, stood solidly against the reception of Alien Immersion. Within the first half of the nineteenth century, the contrary sentiment began to assert itself, until today, numbers within the denomination will apologize for it, while some openly espouse the cause of alien immersion.
Let us look at the evidence to see if this statement is in accord with the facts. The Philadelphia Association embraced nearly all the churches in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland with some of Virginia, and some New England churches. The association was constituted in 1707. In 1742 they adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. This was the old London Confession of Faith with but few changes. The Twenty eighth Article reads as follows:
"Baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of positive and sovereign institution, appointed by the Lord Jesus, the only Lawgiver, to be continued in Hr's Church to the end of the world. These holy appointments are to be administered by those only who are qualified and thereunto called, according to the commission of Christ"
Note the expression used, "in His Church to the end of the world." If they considered other denominations in His Church, they granted them the right to baptize, to set the Lord's table, and to do anything else that His Church has a right to do. If they did not consider them "in His Church," then they denied to them the right to baptize. How did they interpret this language? In 1787, forty five years after they adopted this instrument, the First Baptist Church of New York sent to them this question:
"Should one, previously immersed on a profession of faith in Christ, applying for membership in one of our churches be received on their baptism, administered by one who was not baptized by himself by immersion?"
The matter was laid over for a year, and at the next meeting, they gave this answer:
"We deem such baptism null and void."
This is but one case. There are many others that might be given. Time and again this old Association refused to consider alien immersion. Not only that, they refused to consider alien ordination. One Henry Leach, a Presbyterian preacher, united with the Memorial Baptist Church of Philadelphia, and was baptized by the pastor, Dr. Henson. A council was called to consider his ordination. Dr. J. Wheaton Smith offered a resolution recognizing and endorsing the validity of the Presbyterian ordination. This led to an earnest discussion, and the vote on the question was two in favor of it, and fifty against it.
Dr. Spencer H. Cone in 1845 was pastor of the First Baptist Church of New York City. The following quotations are from a letter he wrote to another church about this same question:
There are some things in this letter to which I would especially call your attention. One is that here was a church the pastor of which states in 1845 that for one hundred years it had stood solidly against alien immersion. That was the First Church of New York City. The second thing, that this pastor had previously lived in the Maryland, Virginia, Baltimore, Columbia, and Ketocton Associations, knew all the ministers of these associations, and they all held the same view on alien immersion. The third thing that in 1845, some who held the opposite view were creeping into the denomination. The fourth thing, that our fathers opposed alien immersion and the scriptures had not changed, and therefore, though some so called Baptists had apostatized, he was not convinced that our fathers were wrong, and that the scriptures should be violated just to please men and conciliate the other denominations.
Alas! alas! what have we come to in these latter days, when the Riverside Church in New York City ignores the question of baptism entirely, advocating open membership, and all through the North and South, East and West there are hundreds of so called Baptist churches that lay no emphasis on the administrator, but concede that other denominations are as much churches of Christ as Baptist churches, and have as much right to administer baptism and the Lord's Supper as the Baptists have. No wonder that in the North the Baptist cause languishes, and Baptist numbers are not commensurate with those of other denominations who teach error along with a modicum of truth.
"And unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.
"Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou an fallen, and repent, and do the first works: or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree that is in the paradise of God."
We have spoken of the Baptists of the Philadelphia and New York Association, and their attitude toward alien immersion up until 1850. We now come to speak of other sections of the country. The Dover Association of Virginia meeting in 1844, has this record:
"Whereas, many individuals who have been immersed by a Pedobaptist ministry wish to unite with the African Baptist Church in Williamsburg, and whereas, the church desires advice as to the propriety of their reception: Therefore, resolved, that in view of the advice sought by the African Baptist Church in Williamsburg, we recommend, according to the decision of this association at its meeting at Clark's Neck, and subsequently at Emmaus, that the individuals referred to be not received." This is the association to which Broadus, Jeter, and Ryland belonged.
The Sandy Creek Association in North Carolina was constituted in 1758, and is the third oldest in the United States. In 1839, this query came to them from the Pleasant Grove Church:
"Is it consistent with the spirit of the gospel and according to the Scriptures for any regular Baptist Church to receive into her fellowship any member or members of another denomination who have been baptized by immersion, without baptizing them again?"
"We think it is not. The vote on this query is unanimous. The Baptist is the only denomination that is not guilty of schism, of making a division when it came into existence. They existed prior to any Pedobaptist denomination now in existence. Baptists have never seceded from any other denomination. All other denominations have either seceded from Rome or one another: they made a division when they came into existence: instead of receiving their baptism as valid, they are to be marked and avoided for causing divisions, Romans 16:17.
We cannot admit the validity of their baptism without admitting that they are tare and scriptural, gospel churches: if we do this, we unchurch ourselves, for God never set up or authorized but one Christian denomination. He is not the author of confusion; or of antagonistic denominations. The Baptist is the only denomination that can claim descent from the apostolic churches, through the true persecuted and witnessing church that fled into the wilderness for 1260 years, Revelation 12:6 and 14.
That the Baptists have descended from this true church is susceptible of the clearest proof. This is not true of any other denomination. We all know the day when, and the man or men who set them up, and not one had existed before A. D. 1500. Ordinances cannot be validly administered by both Baptists and Pedobaptists. God is not the author of but one of them, consequently we cannot receive baptism administered by them without repudiating the ordinances administered by ourselves."
No comment is necessary. We would, however, add one query; if that is the faith of our fathers, and the North Carolina Association says it is, is that your faith? As early as 1773, a colony of Baptists, was established in what was then known as the wilds of Georgia of which Reverend Lewis of Margate, England said: "These are the descendants of the Moravian Anabaptists in the new plantation of Georgia." The first church established in Georgia was known as the Kioka Anabaptist Church. The oldest association in the state, the Georgia Association, has ever stood against alien immersion. The Yellow River, one of the oldest associations in the state, has in their confession of faith this statement:
"Water baptism and the Lord's Supper are ordinances of the gospel to be continued until the Lord's coming, and to be administered only by orderly Baptist ministers regularly ordained."
In 1789 Jessie Mercer was ordained to the Baptist ministry. Dr. J. H. Grime says of him: "For a long period of time he was moderator of the old Georgia Association. It was he who established the Christian Index. It was he who established Mercer University. It was he who laid his thousands on the altar for education and missions, thus starting the influence which has made Georgia the great missionary state that it is. In 1811 he wrote the circular letter of Georgia Association on The Church and Its Functions.
The outline of his arguments are as follows:
I. The apostolic church, continued through all ages to the end of the world, is the 55555only true gospel church.
II. Of this church Christ is the only Head and true source of all ecclesiastical 555555authority.
III. Gospel ministers are servants in the church, are all equal, and have no power to 555555 lord it over the heritage of the Lord.
Having established these propositions, he infers the following:
I. That all churches and ministers who originated since the apostles, and not 555555successively to them, are not in gospel order; and therefore, cannot be 555555acknowledged as such.
II. That all who have been ordained to the work of the ministry without the 5555555knowledge and call of the church, by popes, councils, etc., are the creatures of 5555555those who constituted them, and are not the servants of Christ or His church, 5555555and therefore have no right to administer for them.
III. That those who set aside the discipline of the Gospel, and have given law to and 555555exercised dominion over the church, are usurpers over the place and office of 55555 Christ, are against Him: and therefore may not be accepted in their offices.
IV. That they who administer contrary to their own, or the faith of the gospel, cannot administer for God; since without the gospel faith, they have nothing to administer, and without their own, He accepts no service; therefore the administrations of such are unwarrantable impositions in any way.
Our reasons, therefore, for rejecting baptism by immersion, when administered by Pedo baptist ministers, are:
I. That they are connected with churches clearly out of the apostolic succession and, 55555 therefore, clearly out of the apostolic commission.
II. That they have derived their authority by ordination from the bishops of Rome, or 55555 from individuals who have taken it upon themselves to give it.
III. That they hold a higher rank in the churches than the apostles did, are not 555555accountable to, and, of consequence, not triable by the church, but are amenable 555555only to, or among themselves.
IV. That they all, as we think, administer contrary to the pattern of the gospel: and 555555some, where occasion requires, will act contrary to their professed faith."
To the above clear, doctrinal, historical, and unanswerable statement of Dr. Jessie Mercer, he adds polemically, anticipating the objections that some might raise to his Gibraltar argument for the faith of our fathers:
"But if it should be said that the apostolic succession cannot be ascertained, and then it is proper to act without it, we say that the loss of the succession can never prove it futile, nor justify any one out of it. The Pedobaptists by their own histories admit they are not of it: but we do not, and shall think ourselves entitled to the claim until the reverse be clearly shown. And should any think authority derived from the Mother of Harlots sufficient to qualify to administer a gospel ordinance, they will be so charitable as not to condemn us for professing what is derived from Christ. And should any still more absurdly plead that ordination received from an individual is sufficient, we leave them to show what is the use of ordination, and why it exists. If any think that an administration will suffice that has no gospel pattern, they will suffer us to act according to the divine order with impunity.
And if it should be said that faith in the subject is all that is necessary, we beg to require it where the scriptures do, that is, everywhere. Meaning, of course, in the administrator, as well as the subject, and in the church that authorizes it, as well as in the administrator.
We close this record concerning the Anabaptists and alien immersion in the state of Georgia with this pronouncement of the Georgia Baptist Convention which met in Macon in 1872:
"Baptism is the immersion of a believer in Jesus Christ, by an authorized administrator, in the name of the Trinity. Such baptism is prerequisite to church membership, and admission to the Lord's Supper. Unbaptized persons, not being church members, cannot be clothed with authority to administer ordinances, and therefore, immersions performed by such persons are null and void. The sincerity of the subject cannot supply the want of authority in the administrator."
We turn now from the Baptists of Georgia to the Baptists of Louisiana. The Concord Association of Louisiana was constituted in 1832, and in that same year, wrote the following into their constitution:
"We believe that believers are the only proper subjects; end immersion the only scriptural action of baptism; and the only legal administrators of the ordinance, are the regularly ordained ministers of the gospel in full fellowship with the United Baptists."
The Red River Association of Louisiana was constituted in 1848, and embodied in their articles of faith the following:
"Resolved - That the authority of an orderly Baptist church is an essential qualification to authorize one to administer baptism.
"Resolved That immersions performed by administrators not authorized by such a church should not be received by Baptists."
Turning to Mississippi: the Mississippi Association was constituted in 1806. In 1839 they wrote in their minutes:
"Resolved That in the opinion of this Association, there are three things necessary to constitute gospel baptism, viz.: a regular, authorized administrator, a believer in Christ, and immersion in the name of the holy Trinity: and that those ministers who have been excluded from our communion for immorality or heresy are not proper administrators, and consequently, immersions administered by Campbellite ministers, or reforming teachers, as they call themselves, is not valid baptism."
Kentucky, the battleground of the Whites with the Indians, the battleground of the war between the states, has also been the battleground of the Baptists. Here filters in from the North those modem heresies that are so prevalent in the North, alien immersion, open communion, and open membership. These tidal waves have been beaten back from time to time, and Kentucky has stood as a veritable Verdun for the South, to turn back these tides of invasion. The South ought to be grateful to Kentucky for resisting and turning back these recurrent waves of modern heresy.
Before taking up the history of Kentucky Baptists on the question of alien immersion, we wish to call attention to the fact that as late as 1784 the Baptists of Kentucky were called Anabaptists by the historians. Dr. W. D. Nowlin in his Kentucky Baptist History makes this interesting statement:
"John Filson in his History of Kentucky, the date of which is 1784, says on page 301 in speaking of the manners and customs of the people of Kentucky 'They have a diversity of manners, customs, and religions which may in time, perhaps, be modified to one uniform.' He then adds 'The Anabaptists were the first that promoted public worship in Kentucky.' It is worth noticing that the Baptists as late as 1784 were called Anabaptists by this historian. This shows that the people now called Baptists were once called Anabaptists."
Elkhorn, the oldest Association in the state, was constituted in 1785. In 1802, there came to this association this question from South Elkhorn Baptist Church:
"What constitutes valid baptism?"
Answer by the Association:
"The administrator ought to have been himself baptized by immersion, legally called to preach the gospel, and ordained as the scriptures dictate: the candidate for baptism should make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and be baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by dipping the whole body in water."
Long Run Association was constituted in 1803. In 1804 there came a question from Union Springs Church:
"Is it consistent with gospel order for any church which is a member of this Association to invite and permit a preacher to administer the ordinances who is not in union with us, and denies the doctrine on which we are constituted?"
The Association answered unequivocally, "No."
Russell Creek Association, constituted in 1804, passed in 1871 the following:
"Resolved That the Association does not consider any person baptized unless he has been immersed in water in the name of the Trinity by the authority of a regularly organized Baptist Church."
West Union Association, constituted in 1834, had brought before it in 1846 the subject of alien immersion. The churches were advised to receive no applicants for membership unless they had been legally baptized by a Baptist minister.
Little Bethel Association, constituted in 1836, had the question brought before them in 1854 by Liberty Church, and answered:
"We advise the churches in our Association not to receive any into their communion who shall not have been baptized by a regularly ordained Baptist minister."
Liberty Association, constituted in 1840, says in 1867:
"Whereas some Baptist Churches have recognized the validity of Pedobaptist and Campbellite baptism by receiving members from those congregations without re immersing them: therefore, resolved that we advise and counsel our brethren of Liberty Association that they abstain from this error and that they fail not to enter their protest against the error of such immersions."
Greenup Association, constituted in 1841, passed the following in 1880:
"Resolved that we will not correspond with other Associations who will receive alien immersions."
North Concord Association, organized in 1843, in 1879 resolved that proper Baptism is in "the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, by dipping the whole body in water."
Long Run Association was constituted in 1803. In 1804 there came a question from Union Springs Church:
"Is it consistent with gospel order for any church which is a member of this Association to invite and permit a preacher to administer the ordinances who is not in union with us, and denies the doctrine on which we are constituted?"
The Association answered unequivocally, "No."
Russell Creek Association, constituted in 1804, passed in 1871 the following:
"Resolved That the Association does not consider any person baptized unless he has been immersed in water in the name of the Trinity by the authority of a regularly organized Baptist Church."
West Union Association, constituted in 1834, had brought before it in 1846 the subject of alien immersion. The churches were advised to receive no applicants for membership unless they had been legally baptized by a Baptist minister.
Little Bethel Association, constituted in 1836, had the question brought before them in 1854 by Liberty Church, and answered:
"We advise the churches in our Association not to receive any into their communion who shall not have been baptized by a regularly ordained Baptist minister."
Liberty Association, constituted in 1840, says in 1867:
"Whereas some Baptist Churches have recognized the validity of Pedobaptist and Campbellite baptism by receiving members from those congregations without re immersing them: therefore, resolved that we advise and counsel our brethren of Liberty Association that they abstain from this error and that they fail not to enter their protest against the error of such immersions."
Greenup Association, constituted in 1841, passed the following in 1880:
"Resolved that we will not correspond with other Associations who will receive alien immersions."
North Concord Association, organized in 1843, in 1879 adopted the following:
"Resolved that we will not receive nor fellowship churches that do receive members from other denominations without rebaptizing them."
Dr. J. J. Porter in his Sumpter debate quotes the following letter from Dr. T. T. Eaton, dated June 19, 1903, as to the position of Drs. Boyce and Broadus on the question of Alien Immersion.
"Dr. Boyce was very emphatic and pronounced against receiving alien immersion. He baptized Dr. Weaver, though the latter was pastor of the Chestnut Street Church, because he had been received on a Methodist immersion. A man who claimed to have been converted before receiving immersion from a Disciple preacher, applied to be received on that immersion into the Broadway Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky, of which Dr. J. L. Burrows was then pastor, and of which Dr. Boyce was a member. Dr. Burrows was willing to receive the man. Dr. Boyce opposed it, and succeeded in defeating it. Over and over again have I heard Dr. Boyce say that alien immersion ought not to be received.
I was the pastor of Dr. John A. Breaths; from May 1, 1881, until he died in 1895, nearly fourteen years. We were as intimate as that relationship suggests. 1 hart not been in Louisville long, until I asked him squarely whether he would favor our church receiving a case of alien immersion, and he answered squarely, `No.' Again and again we talked over that and other kindred subjects, and over and over again he told me that alien immersion ought not to be received.
We have just about covered the South in this survey, but before closing we will give one instance from Florida. Florida is so cosmopolitan, that one will find in it Baptists with all shades of belief, but the churches in the main are orthodox, and true to the faith of our fathers, and the teachings of the scriptures on this question of alien immersion.
In the minutes of the Pinellas County Association of Florida for the year 1933, which met with the First Baptist Church of Saint Petersburg, we find this statement:
"It is a cause for great grief that certain of our Baptist Churches in these latter days have shown a disposition to disregard the doctrines of the New Testament, and the practice of our regular Baptist churches throughout our epochal history with reference especially to the ordinances of a New Testament church.
The Baptists are peculiar in that they have been the only people who have through the ages maintained the unwavering position that baptism and the Lord's Supper are the only ordinances given to the church by Christ, the founder and head of the church. We have always contended and maintained that valid baptism, or scriptural baptism, consists of:
History is replete with the most painful proof that whenever and wherever Baptists weaken and compromise by receiving alien immersion for the sake of getting members from other denominations, they open the flood gates of erroneous teaching and evil practices among our churches, all which logically lead to open membership, and to the final abolition of New Testament churches, if that were possible.
The constitution of the Pinellas County Baptist Association provides for membership of regular Baptist churches. Therefore, we reaffirm our conviction in the time honored practices, that the ordinance of baptism is a New Testament ordinance, and is valid when administered by one duly authorized by a New Testament church. It is fundamentally wrong to assume that any individual or institution can usurp the authority given a New Testament church in administering her ordinances. We have no more right to disregard the scriptures with reference to the administrator, than we would have to change the mode of baptism."
In these quotations from Baptist Associations, we have covered the North, East, and South. We have given but a small fragment of the material at hand. If we should include it all, this book would have to be enlarged far beyond the limits we have set for it. However, enough has been given to prove conclusively three things:
First that the early American Baptist fathers rejected alien baptism, and for what they believed were scriptural grounds.
Second they believed the Baptists, or Anabaptists, through the ages had rejected it also.
Third they regarded those few who did accept it as bringing in an unacriptural inovation that was divisive, hurtful, and would eventually result in the disintegration of Baptists.
The Baptists of Tennessee deserve especial mention, because here lived and labored during the last half of the nineteenth century that towering, outstanding character, the like of which has not been seen in American Baptist history, and we very much doubt, shall ever be seen again. We refer to Elder J. R. Graves, teacher, editor, author, preacher.
J. R. Graves was born in Chester, Vermont, April 10, 1820, and because of the early death of his father, his mother was left a widow with small resources, and his early years were spent in rigid discipline in the struggle against poverty. He was converted at the age of fifteen, and joined the North Springfield Baptist Church.
He taught two years in Kingsville Academy, Ohio, and then went to Kentucky, where he took charge of the Clear Creek Academy near Nicholasville. For four years he gave six hours a day to the school room, and eight to study, going through a college course without a teacher. He made the Bible his principal study, but besides, mastered a modern language every year.
In 1845 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he opened a school known as The Vane Street Classical and Mathematical Academy. The same year he became pastor of the Second Baptist Church of that city. While pastor of this church, he became editor of the Tennessee Baptist, and continued to edit this paper for about forty five years. As an editor, he was outstanding, and wielded a tremendous influence. "Thrice armed is he that hath his quarrel just." J. R. Graves had a ,just cause to defend, and he defended it with a logic that was irresistible. Men like Dr. Bright of the New York Baptist Examiner gave up old fallacies, and accepted the truth as Graves defended it. The Tennessee Baptist at one time had the largest circulation of any religious paper in the world.
He was also outstanding as an author. In the midst of his herculean labors in other directions, he wrote a number of books embracing the greatest polemical discussions of the century, and there were, in that line, "giants in those days." Here is a list of some of his books:
Besides, he compiled numerous pamphlets and tracts, two song books, reprinted and published Robinson's History Of Baptism, Walls History Of Infant Baptism, Orchard's History Of Baptists, Stewart's Baptism, and to top it all, he wrote and published Seven Dispensations, a masterpiece of Systematic Theology. Truly it may be said of him what Shakespeare said of Caesar:
His Great Iron Wheel wielded a powerful influence, and led, no doubt to the Methodist Church changing their church government so that laymen could be admitted to the General Conference. Thousands of Pedobaptists, as a result of his trenchant pen and powerful preaching, came over to the Baptists.
To anyone who has doubts on the question of alien immersion and open communion, we suggest the reading of his books. We venture to assert that when that one has finished, if he is open minded, there will not remain a vestige of his former doubts as to the scripturalness of the Baptist position on these questions.
We have spoken of Graves as an editor and author, but his greatest power was as a preacher. There was but one man in his day that approached him in pulpit power, and that man was Richard Fuller. He was preeminently doctrinal, believing that men's lives should be controlled by great principles as a basis for all actions. "Salvation By Grace" was the theme of his preaching, and "Blood Before Water" and "Christ Before the Church" was his battle cry in his war against Romanism, Campbellism, and the infant baptism of the Pedobaptists.
While he preached the great doctrines, he was also an emotional preacher. He had tremendous power over an audience. One moment they would burst into laughter, the next they would be bathed in tears. There are two instances that illustrate his great power in preaching that we shall give.
At Waco, Texas, the Southern Baptist Convention was in session, and the house where the convention was being held was so uncomfortably filled that the suggestion was made that preaching be announced at one of the neighboring meeting houses. It was accordingly announced that a prominent preacher would in twenty minutes preach at the Methodist Church. Only a few went, not enough for a congregation. A second preacher was tried with the same result. At last, Dr. B. H. Carroll, at that time pastor of the First Church at Waco, arose and announced that Dr. J. R. Graves would in ten minutes preach at the Methodist Church. Immediately there was a rush, and in five minutes the large auditorium was packed to the doors, and the convention building almost empty.
The Southern Baptist Convention met in the East Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky., in 1857. At this meeting, Dr. Graves preached from the text, "The veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom." Dr. S. H. Ford, who heard it, describes this sermon in the Repository of February, 1900:
"After describing the Holiest of all, the mercy seat, the high priest's yearly duty, the veil, etc., he directed the thought to the ascent of Calvary as seen from the temple, and watched by the priests, the darkened sky, the rending rocks, the earthquake, causing the veil and temple to tremble and then the sudden rending of the spacious veil. It was brief, graphic, and touching. He went on to show that the riven veil was a visible, ocular declaration that all priestly forms and all ceremonial impediments or interventions, sacrifices and purifications were swept away by the death of Christ. The mercy seat was laid bare. Not a church, not a saint or angel, person or preacher, priest or ordinance absolutely no one and nothing intervened between the contrite soul and the throne of grace the blood sprinkled mercy seat.
"No notes were taken by the writer, but its effects were lasting. The only time in his recollection that his hair seemed to actually rise on his head was when hearing that discourse. It was positively powerful. He closed with a burst of eloquence. Pausing, seemingly overpowered with his emotions, or wanting words to express them, with uplifted hands and eyes, he exclaimed:
"O thou blessed mercy seat! hidden through ages by the cloud of sin, the veil of wrath, the way to the holy place is opened, the glory that crowns thee may be approached, and thy blessing obtained. I hear the voice of the Eternal issuing from the mysterious recesses, saying 'Come unto Me not to the angel or saint, or priest, or preacher, or church, or ordinance come unto Me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth, and O, Lamb of God, I come, I come!"
"The sermon was heard by the greatest men in the convention, such as Boyce, Jeter, Burrows, Howell, Manly, and others, and they pronounced it the best sermon ever preached in their hearing."
On the twenty sixth of June, 1893, Dr. Graves fell asleep. His position on baptism and slier stated in many of his sermons publications.
In his sermon on baptism he says:
"Now, that Christian baptism has been and still is regarded as the act on the part of the subject of professing the faith of the church baptizing, whether true or false, is proven by the fact that from the third century onwards, the catechumens those under instruction for baptism were required to repeat the creed of the church, and then the question was inevitably asked 'Wilt thou be baptized into this faith?' that is, 'Do you desire to profess that you hold to, receive, and rest your salvation upon it?' Only on the candidate answering, 'I will,' was baptism administered. The subject of baptism does not then profess any private faith he may entertain, but always the faith of the denomination. baptizing him."
Let us now inquire into what the Disciples or Christian Church baptizes. Mr. Alexander Campbell says:
"In and by the act of immersion, as soon as our bodies are put under the water, at that very instant all our former or old sins are washed away," Christian Baptism, page 100.
"Belief of this testimony is what impelled us into the water, knowing that the efficacy of His blood is to be communicated to our consciences in the way which God has pleased to appoint. We stagger not at the promise, but flee to the sacred ordinance which brought the blood of Jesus in contact with our consciences. Without knowing and believing this, immersion is a blasted nut: the shell is there, but the kernel is wanting," Christian Baptism, page 521.
"The Disciples or Christian Church, therefore, unite with the teachers of an apostate Christianity in placing the water before the blood, thus bringing an unpardoned unregenerate sinner to water baptism as the sacrament of salvation. Surely no church of Christ can endorse this pernicious doctrine by receiving those immersed by Catholics or Disciples as scripturally baptized without herself rejecting the faith of the gospel."
Such is the deliverance and ultimatum of J. R. Graves on the subject of alien immersion. Were the Baptists of Tennessee in accord with this view of Dr. Graves on the subject of baptism? Let us examine the records.
Salem Association in 1844 adopted the following:
"Whereas, the Freedom Association of Kentucky has proposed a correspondence with us; resolved, therefore, that we send a friendly letter and delegates to inform them that we are willing to correspond with them, provided they will correct the error of one of their churches of receiving members into their fellowship who were immersed by unauthorized administrators."
Again in 1850 Salem Association adopted the following:
"Resolved that the churches be advised to receive none but those who have been baptized on a profession of their faith in Christ by a legal administrator: and that we esteem legal only such as act under the authority of the regular Baptist church as organized after the model of the gospel."
The reader will note that the first action of this Association was taken a year before the coming of Dr. Graves to Tennessee, so the Tennessee Baptists were sound even before his coming, so he cannot be charged with influencing them contrary to their previous belief.
The Western District Association was constituted in 1823. In article XII of their constitution is found the following:
"None but such as have been baptized by a regularly ordained Baptist minister have a right to church membership or communion."
Elder ,Tames Whitsitt was the grandfather of the late Dr. William Whitsitt of the Louisville Seminary. He was regarded as the historian of the early Baptists of Tennessee. He died at an advanced age, and just before he died, about 1848, he wrote an able paper on Alien Immersion for the Southern Baptist Review. Among other things he said:
"We object to receive the baptism of Pedobaptists, because we think it a dangerous innovation. We have no recollection that the history of the Baptists furnishes an example of the kind, and we are well assured that the common sense and piety of the Baptists were as strong one hundred years ago as they are now. This question that we have before us must be a newcomer. We hope it will not be very obtrusive. We say again, we think this is a dangerous innovation.”
Thus this great, godly Baptist historian of Tennessee says there was no example of it in Baptist history, and that it was a dangerous innovation. He wrote and was ready to die when J. R. Graves came to Tennessee, so Dr. Graves cannot be charged with his convictions, but rather took up the mantle of defender of the faith that fell from his shoulders when he passed on to glory. Illustrious and honored Tennessee, to have had two such men as Dr. J. R. Graves and Elder James Whitsitt to dwell within her borders, and pass on the sword of truth from hand to hand!
This dangerous innovation! is what Elder James Whitsitt called alien immersion in speaking of it nearly a century ago. In this concluding chapter we shall review briefly the ground we have covered in the preceding pages, and finally have something to say about this dangerous innovation. We would give, therefore, as an outline for these closing pages the following:
I. Alien Immersion Is Unscriptural.
II. Alien Immersion Is Contrary To The Faith Of Our Fathers.
III. It Is A Dangerous Innovation.
Aliens Immersion Is Unscriptural. The ancient Julian code made use of this expression - "Specificatio unius exclusio altering." The specification of one thing at the exclusion of every other thing. The very meaning of the word alien condemns it. The word means foreign. Foreign to what? We answer, foreign to the church that Jesus built. If foreign, then without authority. If without the authority of Christ, then not baptism at all It would he strange, indeed, if Christ had commanded people in all the world to be baptized, and at the same time fail to make provision for those who were to do the baptizing. But He did make provision, as well as proceed to show, and the specification of some means the exclusion of all others. They are aliens, and as aliens are without authority.
Let us study the examples of baptism in the New Testament, and see if they were administered in accord with this position. All these examples will show that the administrator in every case was acting by the authority of Christ directly, or the church that He built.
The first example is that of John the Baptist. He did not take it on himself, but says that he was sent of God for that purpose: "And I knew Him not: but He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost" John 1:33. Jesus in order that He might be baptized by one that had authority, walked some sixty miles to John who was baptizing in the Jordan. Jesus evidently thought that a proper administrator was important.
The next example is that of the disciples of Jesus. Their act of baptizing is spoken of as the acts of Jesus Himself, and His acts as their acts, John 4:1 2. They must, therefore, have baptized by His authority.
The third example is on the day of Pentecost Here the church was in action. The preacher was speaking with power, the Holy Spirit was convicting of sin, thousands were being saved, and all that were saved were baptized. It is unthinkable, and there is not a bit of evidence that they were baptized by some one to whom Christ had not given the authority.
The fourth example is that of the Samaritans who were baptized after the preaching of Philip. Philip baptized the eunuch later, and he must have baptized the Samaritans also, either under the direct authority of the Spirit that had sent him to preach to the eunuch, or, more probably, under the authority of the Jerusalem Church of which he was a member and a deacon.
The next example is that of Saul of Tarsus. Ananias was sent to preach to him by the Lord Jesus Himself. When he said, "Arise, and be baptized," it is unthinkable that Paul went to someone else to be baptized.
Then we have the baptism of Cornelius. Certain brethren, probably from the Jerusalem Church, went from Joppa to Caesarea with Peter. When Peter preached, and Cornelius and his household were converted, Peter put the question of baptizing them to a vote of these brethren who no doubt were clothed with the authority to decide the matter by the Jerusalem church of which they were members, and after the vote was taken, Peter either baptized them, or they were baptized by some one of the party authorized to do so. It is unthinkable that they were baptized by some alien who was not of t1le party of Peter, and who knew nothing about the meaning and significance of baptism.
Now come we to the conversion and baptism of Lydia Paul and Silas were both present. One of them must have baptized her by the authority of the church that had sent them out. The same is true of the jailer and his family.
The last example is that of the twelve in Ephesus, who had been converted under the preaching of Apollos of Alexandria, had not been baptized unto the right faith. Here, too, baptism was performed by one with divine authority.
Study these passages carefully, and it will confirm the conviction that God did not command the saved to be baptized, and then fail to provide baptizers with authority to whom they might go, just as Jesus went to John. So much for the examples found in the scriptures.
Now, what about the faith of our fathers? We have shown clearly from history that they were dubbed Anabaptists, and suffered for sixteen hundred years because they dared to tell Rome and the Protestants that the ordinance of baptism was given to the church that Jesus built, and that others who were not His church had no right to administer His ordinance, and not having the right, their baptism was invalid. This history was not written by the Anabaptists themselves, but by their enemies. Zuinguhus, the Swiss reformer, who was contemporary with Luther, says:
"The institution of Anabaptism is no novelty, but for thirteen hundred years has caused great disturbance in the church, and has acquired such strength that the attempt in this age to contend with it appeared futile for a time."
This was written in 1525, and carries Baptist history according to this historian back to 225 A. D.
Cardinal Hosius, president of the Council of Trent, the most learned and powerful Catholic of his day, wrote in 1560: "If the truth of religion were to be judged by the readiness and cheerfulness with which a man of any sect shows in suffering, then the opinion or persuasion of no sect can be truer and surer than that of the Anabaptists, since there have been none for these twelve hundred years that have been more generally punished, or that have more cheerfully and steadfastly undergone, and even offered themselves to the most cruel sorts of punishment than these people."
This statement of this Catholic enemy carries Baptist history back to 360 A. D.
The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge has this to say:
'The Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses, and have long in the history of the church received the honor of that origin. On this account, the Baptists may be considered the only Christian community which has stood since the apostles, and which has preserved pure the doctrines of the gospel through all ages."
What a testimony to the Baptists, not only as to their apostolic succession, but as to their preserving and handing down the great Bible doctrines through all the ages!
The great Lutheran historian, Mosheim writes:
'The true origin of that sect which acquired the name of Anabaptists, by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion, is hid in the remote depths of antiquity, and is, consequently, extremely difficult to be ascertained."
With this testimony of our enemies before us, surely no Baptist would ever again deny Baptist succession, or treat with indifference or oppose the great doctrines of our fathers that led them to give their lives that these doctrines might be perpetuated and maintained.
A study of history shows that, chronologically, the attack on the divine pattern of baptism was made as follows: first, on the administrator, second, on the subject or candidate and the design, and lastly on the mode. The first is an attack on authority, the second on salvation by faith, bringing in baptism salvation and infant baptism, and the third an attack on the gospel as proclaimed in the act, destroying both the pattern and the truth which it proclaims to the world.
All of these are important. Whenever we find a "Thus saith the Lord," it is not for us to say that one command is more important than another. And yet there are Baptist writers that have devoted volumes to the defense of the mode, but have had nothing to say about the administrator. There are others who claim to be neutral on the subject of the administrator. Neutral on a subject where the Bible speaks with such authority! Neutral on the subject for which our fathers by the thousands gave their life blood, and were burned at the stake! O merciful Father, when we behold them driven out to die of hunger and cold in the mountains, their starving, freezing infants clinging to their mothers' breasts, or impaled and dying by the swords of impious emissaries sent out from Rome, or, perchance, tossed from a precipice to he dashed to pieces on the rocks below, and become the food of hungry vultures when we behold all this, are we to conclude with these modern innouationists that they were ignorant fanatics, dying for a faith for which there is no foundation in the scriptures? That through nearly eighteen hundred years of Christian history they were mistaken, and read their Bibles wrong, and died in vain when they were driven out and frozen in the cold mountains, and drowned in the mad rivers, and roasted alive in the flames?
Yes, sad to say, there are those in these modern days that would teach us this, or if not this, they would say that because Dr. Smelfungus or Prof. Afraid of his shadow believes thus and so, we had better keep silent and not stir up division.
"Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying: Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchmen: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blows the trumpet, and warns and warns the people; then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.
"But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not wanted; if the sword come and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman to the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at thy mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thy hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou halt delivered thy soul."
Is it not better to deliver one's soul, even though one die for it, if need be, than to compromise God's eternal truth, and have the blood of others on our hands?
"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they that come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
No wonder that Elder James Whitsitt of Tennessee and the brethren of his day called this trifling with the Word of God and the faith of our fathers a dangerous innovation
Anything that is unscriptural is dangerous. The scriptures are a complete guide to one's religious life, one's business life, one's social life, one's physical life, and one's intellectual life. If one thing is enjoined, extraneous things are forbidden. If in the scriptures God has given a plan for financing the kingdom, other plans are unscriptural, God dishonoring, and dangerous.
We have groups today that are seeking to finance the kingdom of God by prostituting to commercial ends the church that Jesus built. God will take away from such churches the golden candlestick, and withdraw His spirit from them, unless they repent, and those churches will become organizations without spiritual power, having lost the passion for souls. Did not our Lord address such a church at Ephesus, when He had John write to the angel of the church at Ephesus?
"I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Repent, and do the first works, or else I will come unto thee, and remove the golden candlestick, unless thou repent." The first work of any church, or of any saved soul, for that matter, is seeking the lost. It is a sad day for any church when they have lost the passion for souls, when their organizations will spend hours in following unscriptural, commercial schemes to raise money, and will not give one hour to prayer and seeking the lost.
We have churches like that and groups like that, and one day they will awake and rise from this commercial lap of Delilah, shorn of their strength and shorn of their power, and like Samson will wist not that the Spirit of the Lord has departed from them.
What is true in this case of financing the kingdom is true of every extraneous thing that we do in the kingdom of God that is not in accord with the pattern given in the word. God said to Moses when he was about to make the tabernacle, "Be sure that thou make it according to the pattern shown to thee in the mount."
So with baptism. God has given us a plan to follow. The one baptized must be a believer. The act must be immersion. The design must be to show the faith of the candidate, but more especially, the faith of the church administering it. The administrator must be one authorized by Christ Himself. This is the pattern. Any departure from this pattern is dishonoring to Christ, and will work havoc, as with Uzziah when he put forth his hand to steady the ark.
We talk of church union, yet all the divisions in Christendom have come about because of departures from the scriptural plan of baptism. First, came the division between the post apostolic church who were called Anabaptists and those who afterward went to form the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic churches, when the post apostolic body denied the right of a corrupt body to administer valid baptism, and insisted on baptizing all who came to them from this corrupt body. This division grew wider when about one hundred years later this same Roman Catholic body began to baptize infants, breaking with the scriptural pattern that the one baptized must he a believer. A hundred years later, it was further widened, when this same body changed the mode of baptism from immersion to sprinkling because sprinkling was more convenient, and established the dangerous doctrine that the church has more authority than the scriptures, and can change the scriptures if it wills to do so. And so the apostasy went on, and because the Anabaptists protested against these things, the rivers of Europe ran red with their blood, for they died rather than compromise the word of God.
Thirteen hundred years went by, and then came the Protestant reformation. Out of corrupt Rome came the Lutherans, the Calvinists, and a little later, the followers of Henry the Eighth, or Episcopalians, purged of much that was corrupt, but bringing with them the corrupted form of baptism of the church of Rome, which had been corrupted in all four essentials, the administrator, the mode, the design, the subject.
The tragedy of the reformation was that these protesting bodies, when they came out of Rome, did not come all the way to the Anabaptists, accept baptism at their hands, and repudiate their infant baptism and sprinkling that they had received at the hands of Rome. We would then have had but two religious bodies, the Anabaptists and the Catholics. Who is responsible for the division of Christendom; the Baptists, who have stood from the days of the apostles for a scriptural baptism, or the followers of these Protestant bodies that have only come a part of the way back to the scriptural position?
There are those who are proclaiming church union, and say that our position against alien immersion is dividing Christendom. Even so, what shall we give up in order to come to them? Shall we give up the Bible principle for which our fathers died, that Christ built His church, and gave to it the ordinances to keep and administer? that others have no official authority to baptize, and that without authority their baptism is invalid? Or shall we give up the mode of baptism, or the scriptural teaching that the candidate must be a believer, and accept infant baptism? Or shall we unite with Alexander Campbell and apostate Rome in changing the design, and accept the doctrine that baptism is essential to salvation, that water comes before the blood, that one enter the water a lost soul, and comes forth born of the water and of the Spirit? Which of these Bible doctrines shall we give up? and when we do give them up for the sake of union, have we not joined with apostate Christianity in denying the faith, corrupting the truth, and destroying the pattern that God gave us?
Why did God want Moses to be sure to make the tabernacle according to the pattern? Because Moses would pass away, and all that then lived would pass away, but the tabernacle would go on from generation to generation witnessing to the truth that God wanted to teach in the peculiar construction of the tabernacle.
"Why does it matter so much about baptism, anyway," says one, "since baptism does not have anything to do with salvation? Why not dismiss it altogether, if it is baptism that divides Christendom?" Because baptism presents divine truth that God wants presented in that way through the ages: a personal faith, a death to sin and resurrection to a new life in Christ, an organization that He Himself built, and will carry on till Jesus comes, stronger than all the forces of hell arrayed against it. If Baptists give up this faith, God will not have a church on earth that stands for the truth, and Jesus made a false statement when He said the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The voice of the silver tongued Chrysostom ceased centuries ago. Paul no longer thunders his message from Mar's Hill. Spurgeon is gone, and Graves is gone, and the child Eke Broadus, so simple, yet so great is gone. Soon the voices of the great preachers of this generation also, will be silenced by death: But the voice of baptism in the truths it proclaims will, if we hold fast to the pattern, go on and on as a silent witness for Christ until Jesus comes again.
On the other hand, suppose we change the ordinance of baptism, we destroy the truth that it presents. It is no longer what God wants it to be, a silent voice proclaiming the truths of the gospel through all ages. Suppose we change the pattern as to the one to be baptized as the Roman Church has done: we take away and destroy the doctrine of salvation by faith and regeneration by the Holy Spirit, and fill our churches with unsaved people. Suppose we change the mode? We destroy the truth that a believer is dead to the old life of sin, and risen to a new life in Christ Jesus. Suppose we change the design, as Alexander Campbell did? Then we preach a ritualistic, God dishonoring salvation. Suppose we open the doors to alien immersion from any and every source? We break with the example of Jesus, go contrary to the plain teaching of God's word, and admit that those who are aliens and enemies of the true church of Christ, disobedient to His will and commands, have the same authority as His own church, can officiate for Him just the same as if they were obedient disciples.
Dr. A. C. Dayton has given this illustration which aptly presents the fallacy of such a position:
"No foreigner is qualified to vote till he has become a citizen. The government designates the manner of becoming a citizen, and commissions certain persons to administer the oath. What is the force of this commission? Does it authorize the foreigner, who thinks he knows enough, and is sure he loves the country, to go to any one he pleases, and by him have the oath administered, and by that unauthorized act, performed by an uncommissioned man, and without any authority from the government, whatever, to claim that he is a citizen of our country? The commission was not to him to be sworn in as he thought best and by whom he pleased. It did not touch him at all except through another. It was that other, the government officer, who was commissioned, and the only force upon the candidate is that it requires him to go to that officer and to no one else to be invested with the rights of citizenship.
"And so in regard to this commission of Christ, it was addressed. to somebody. It supposes that there will be somebody to be baptized, and it authorizes somebody to baptize them. If by commanding some to baptize, it commands others by implication to be baptized, it by the same implication commands them to be baptized by those, and only by those whom it commands to baptize them."
If one says "Dr. Dayton is here reasoning in a circle," our answer is, that is just what the great commission is, a closed circle for the baptizers and the baptized, and all outside this dosed circle are alien, that is foreign, without Christ's authority.
A Dangerous Innovation! how dangerous, the last hundred years have in part revealed: the scriptures violated, the faith of our fathers challenged, the blood of the martyrs treated as unnecessary, the church invaded by foreign administrators, open communion and open membership in quarters where alien immersion prevails, the Baptist cause dwindling wherever it prevails, churches divided because of it, associations disturbed and passing resolutions, all kinds of false notions and theories on the church question, the invasion of our churches and schools by those who are not Baptists, and who defy the saints who seek to have them conform to Baptist principles and practice!
We should beware of this Trojan horse within our gates. An enemy within is far worse than an enemy without. There is much of this among Northern Baptists and English Baptists. Its infiltration has begun in the South, and as watchmen on the walls of Zion it is our business to ay the warning, and roll back these waves of looseness and foreign invasion that will engulf us if we are not alert.
There are two questions that I would propound to all thinking Baptists everywhere. The first question is, why should any one come to the Baptists for membership unless such a one repudiates the faith that he holds, and accepts the faith that the Baptists hold? And if he does repudiate the former faith, why is he not willing also to repudiate the baptism which was the expression of the former faith, and receive the baptism that is an expression of his Baptist faith?
The second question is this: If other organizations are churches of Christ just the same as Baptist churches, with the same authority to administer the ordinances, and do everything else that Baptist churches are authorized to do, is there any reason for the existence of Baptist churches, especially in those communities where these other organizations exist? Why not join them in preaching the gospel and carrying on the work of the kingdom, and cease to maintain a separate organization; and divide the body of Christ?
It is our contention that this we cannot do, because they are not the church that Jesus built, and have not this authority from Him. And so we will go on as our fathers did, contending for the faith once delivered to the saints, until Jesus comes, and we hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, well done, well done."