WE have now arrived to a country, where we shall not be obliged to rely altogether on the accusations of enemies, and the records of courts of inquisition for information respecting our brethren. The English Baptists have paid considerable attention to their own history, and have furnished materials from which we can gain clear and explicit accounts of their character, progress, sufferings, and circumstances, for between two and three hundred years; they have also collected from the writings of their adversaries many valuable hints respecting their brethren at a much earlier period.
About seventy years ago, Mr. Thomas Crosby, a deacon of the old church in London, formerly under the care of Dr. Gill, but now of Dr. Rippon, published, in four volumes, A History of the English Baptists. This history is something like that of our late venerable Backus; it contains a vast fund of valuable information, but is deficient in style and arrangement. About the beginning of the present century a periodical work was commenced by Dr. Rippon of London, entitled The Baptist Annual Register. This work was continued to forty one numbers, and contains many interesting accounts of the Baptists both in England and elsewhere. A History of the English Baptists has been lately undertaken by Mr. Ivimey, a Baptist minister in London. This history, I conclude, is intended to be both an abridgment and continuation of Crosby. The first volume which closes with the seventeenth century, I have obtained of Dr. Baldwin of Boston; it is the only copy I have heard of in this country.
In the English Baptist Magazine, a few scattering numbers of which have been loaned me by my friend Dr. Baldwin, I find a few detached portions of what are entitled Memoirs of the English Baptists, written by the late Josiah Taylor of Cable, Wiltshire, England. I very much regret that I cannot get the whole of these ingenious and somewhat singular Memoirs, as they would, I have reason to believe, furnish to my hands the substance of the sketch which I am preparing to give. But they are not probably to be obtained this side the Atlantic, and it is now too late to seek them from the other.
The affairs of our English brethren furnish materials for a lengthy article, but it belongs to them to write their own history. It is now taken in hand, and perhaps finished by a gentleman, who appears well qualified for the undertaking. How large the work will be I am not informed, but I hope and am inclined to believe, it will soon be reprinted in this country.
The plan of this work admits only of summary statements and abridged accounts, and but very brief sketches can be given of the Baptists in England. I should have endeavored to reserve a larger place for them, were it not that those, who may wish to peruse their history at large, will probably soon have the opportunity of doing it, either by the importation or republication of Ivimey’s work.
The Baptists in England are divided into General and Particular, and have been since soon after the reformation. Their principal difference is in points of doctrine. It will be difficult, and indeed unnecessary, to pay a strict regard to these distinctions throughout the following sketch. Both parties have had their share of sufferings, and among them both we find a number of very worthy and distinguished characters.
About sixty years after the ascension of our Lord, christianity was planted in Britain, and a number of royal blood, and many of inferior birth, were called to be saints. Here the gospel flourished much in early times, and here also its followers endured many afflictions and calamities from pagan persecutors. The British christians experienced various changes of prosperity and adversity until about the year 600. A little previous to this period, Austin the monk, that famous Pedo-baptist and persecutor, with about forty others, were sent here by pope Gregory the great, to convert the pagans to popery, and to subject all the British christians to the dominion of Rome. The enterprise succeeded, and conversion (or rather perversion) work was performed on a large scale. King Ethelbert and his court, and a considerable part of his kingdom, were won over by the successful monk, who consecrated the river Swale, near York, in which he caused to be baptized ten thousand of his converts in a day.
Having met with so much success in England, he resolved to try what he could do in Wales. There were many British christians who had fled hither in former times to avoid the brutal ravages of the outrageous Saxons. The monk held a synod in their neighborhood, and sent to their pastors to request them to receive the pope’s commandment; but they utterly refused to listen to either the monk or pope, or to adopt any of their maxims. Austin, meeting with this prompt refusal, endeavored to compromise matters with these strenuous Welshmen, and requested that they would consent to him in three things, one of which was that they should give christendom, that is, baptism to their children; but with none of his propositions would they comply. “Sins therefore,” said this zealous apostle of popery and pedobaptism, “ye wol not receive peace of your brethren, ye of other shall have warre and wretche,” and accordingly he brought the Saxons upon them to shed their innocent blood, and many of them lost their lives for the name of Jesus.
The Baptist historians in England contend that the first British christians were Baptists, and that they maintained Baptist principles until the coming of Austin. “We have no mention,” says the author of the Memoirs, “of the christening or baptizing children in. England, before the coming of Austin in 597; and to us it is evident he brought it not from heaven but from Rome. But though the subject of baptism began now to be altered, the mode of it continued in the national church a thousand years longer, and baptism was administered by dipping, etc.” From the coming of Austin the church in this island was divided into two parts, the old and the new. The old or Baptist church maintained their original principles. But the new church adopted infant baptism, and the rest of the multiplying superstitions of Rome.
Austin’s requesting the British christians, who opposed his popish mission, to baptize their children, is a circumstance which the English and Welsh Baptists consider of much importance. They infer from it, that before Austin’s time, infant baptism was not practiced in England, and that though he converted multitudes to his pedobaptist plan, yet many, especially in Wales and Cornwall, opposed it; and the Welsh Baptists contend that Baptist principles were maintained in the recesses of their mountainous Principality all along through the dark reign of popery.
Popery was the established religion of England almost a thousand years; and although the people paid Peter’s pence, and were involved in darkness, ignorance, and the shadow of death, yet some of these islanders were refractory subjects of the papal see, and some of the kings occasioned much trouble to his holiness. They had much rather be pope themselves, than submit to a foreign ecclesiastical jurisdiction.
William the Conqueror ascended the British throne in 1066. During his reign, the Waldenses and their disciples from France, Germany, and Holland, began to emigrate to and abound in England. About the year 1080, they are said to have propagated their sentiments throughout England; so that not only the meaner sort in country villages, but the nobility and gentry in the chiefest towns and cities, embraced their doctrines and of course adopted the opinions of the Baptists, for we have no information that any of the Waldenses at this period, had fallen off to infant baptism. For more than a hundred years, that is, from 1100 to 1216, during the successive reigns of Henry I Stephen, Henry II Richard I and John, the Waldenses increased and were unmolested. The two last of these kings were much engaged in foreign affairs. Richard was long absent in the holy war, and John had great contests with the pope, who laid his kingdom under an interdict, and forbid all public worship for the space of six years, only admitting of private baptism to infants.
In the reign of Henry III about 1218, the order of the friar Mennonites were sent over from the continent to suppress the Waldensian heresy, and many, doubtless, suffered by their means.
We must now pass on to the reign of Edward II in 1315, when Walter Lollard, a German preacher of great renown among the Waldenses, and a friend to believer’s baptism, came into England and preached with great effect. His followers and the Waldenses generally in England for many generations after him were called Lollards, 1 and Crosby has quoted authorities to show that they rejected infant baptism as a needless ceremony. In the reign of Edward III about the year 1311, John Wickliff began to be famous in England, and multitudes embraced his doctrine, and entered heartily into his views of reformation. Wickliff was famous both for writing and preaching. His writings were carried into Bohemia, and his sentiments were there propagated extensively by Huss, Jerome, and others, and among the followers of this great man in Bohemia and England we find many Baptists. There can be no dispute that Wicklift taught Anabaptistical errors, that many who built in his principles rejected infant baptism; and indeed the evidence is very strong that he himself became a Baptist. Dr. Hurd in his History of all Religions says, “It is pretty clear from the writings of many learned men, that Dr. John Wickliff, the first English reformer, either considered infant baptism unlawful or at best unnecessary.” The author of a History of Religion, published in London in 1764, in four volumes octavo, says, “it is clear from many authors that Wickliff rejected infant baptism, and that on this doctrine his followers agreed with the modern Baptists.” Thomas Walden and Joseph Vicecomes, who had access to his writings, have charged, him with denying pedobaptism, and they brought their charge at a time when it might have been easily contradicted, if it had not been true. “Walden before mentioned calls Wickliff one of the seven heads that came out of the bottomless pit, for denying infant baptism, that heresy of the Lollards, of whom he was a great ring-leader. There were now in England Lollards and Wickliffites, and a number of testimonies go to prove they rejected infant baptism. They were numerous throughout the kingdom, and for some time continued in the established church. But Rapin says that in 1389, the Lollards and Wickliffites began to separate from the church of Rome, and to appoint priests from among themselves, to perform divine service after their way.
In the year 1400, Henry IV enacted the cruel statute for the burning of heretics. And the first that suffered by this infernal law was William Sawtre, a Lollard, and supposed to be a Baptist. The signal was now given for bloody men to execute their cruel purposes in a legal way. The sufferings of the Baptists and all evangelical dissenters, from this period till the reformation, were very great. “The Lollards’ tower,” says Ivimey, “still stands a monument of their miseries, and of the cruelty of their implacable enemies. This tower is at Lambeth palace, and was fitted up for this purpose by Chicheley, Archbishop of Canterbury, who came to his see in 1414. It is said that he expended two hundred and eighty pounds to make this prison for the Lollards. The vast staples and rings to which they were fastened, before they were brought out to the stake, are still to be seen in a large lumber-room at the top of the palace, and ought to make protestants look back with gratitude upon the hour which terminated so bloody a period.” From the death of William Sawtre to the time when Henry VIII. renounced the dominion of the pope, and became head of the English church, was upwards of a hundred and thirty years. During this period many Baptists were found in this kingdom, many were obliged to flee from it, and many more were martyred in it. In about three years from 1428 to 1431, one hundred and twenty persons were committed to prison for Lollardy; some of them recanted, others did penance, and several of them were burnt alive.
In 1535, twenty-two Baptists were apprehended and put to death, and in 1539, thirty-one more of the same people, sixteen men and fifteen women, were banished the country, who, going to Delf in Holland, were there put to death, the men beheaded and the women drowned. In the same year two others of their brethren were burned beyond Southwark, in the way to Newington; and a little before five Dutch Anabaptists were burned at Smithfield. By a speech which Henry VIII delivered to his parliament in 1545, it appears that many of his subjects went under the name of Anabaptists. And Bishop Latimer, in a sermon preached before the young and amiable Edward VI, son and successor of the popish protestant Henry, mentions that he had lately been informed by a credible person, that there was at that time, one town in England, which contained more than five hundred heretics, who held the erroneous opinions of the Anabaptists.
The change, which took place under Henry VIII was in the end favorable to the cause of religion in England; the fetters of popery were broken; the scriptures in the English language were sanctioned by parliament, and by their means evangelical principles were diffused throughout the land. In a short time the Puritans arose, and pushed on the reformation beyond the bounds which the courtly reformers had set. They professed to take the Bible for their only rule, and many building on their principles, rejected the remains of popish rubbish, and embraced the principles of the Baptists.
But persecuting laws were still in force, and the ruling party both in church and state had a disposition to put them in execution. Popery was indeed abolished and protestantism established, but the Baptists soon found that the protestant power was as much determined on their ruin as the popish had ever been. In 1549, a kind of Protestant inquisition was established which consisted of the Archbishop of Canterbury, a number of bishops, noblemen, and others, any three of whom being a quorum, were instructed to examine and search after all Archbaptists, heretics, etc. Many Baptists were apprehended, how many were executed we are not informed; but we are sure that two of considerable eminence, viz. Joan Boucher, commonly called Joan of Kent, and George Van Pare, a Dutchman, were committed to the flames. Great exertions were made to save from the stake the unfortunate Joan, who appears to have been a woman of distinction, but who had been compelled by her Bible and conscience to become a Baptist. A person, supposed to be Fox, the author of the Book of Martyrs, earnestly entreated the famous John Rogers, who was afterwards burnt at Smithfield, to use his interest with the Archbishop to save the poor woman from the cruel death to which she had been doomed. But Rogers answered, that burning alive was no cruel death, but easy enough. Fox, astonished at such an answer, replied, “Well perhaps it may so happen that you yourselves shall have your hands full of this mild burning.” And so it came to pass, for Rogers was the first man who was burned in queen Mary’s reign.
Not long after this, we are informed that “the Aria. baptists began wonderfully to increase in the land; “ whether they founded many churches we cannot learn; but if they did, such was the vigilance of their enemies, they were probably soon broken up. In former times it appears many Baptists had fled from the continent, and for a time found shelter in this kingdom; but now they were hunted out by watchful inquisitors, and either destroyed or driven from the realm. A congregation of Dutch Anabaptists was discovered on Easter-day, probably about 1570, without Aldgate in London, seven and twenty of whom were taken and imprisoned, four of them recanted, and the rest were probably either banished or destroyed. One month after this, eleven other Baptists, one Dutchman, and ten women, were apprehended and condemned. One was persuaded to renounce his error, eight were banished the land, and two of the company, John Wielmaker and Henry Tot Woort were burnt at Smithfield.
Very scanty accounts have been obtained of the Baptists in England in the times of which we are speaking, and but a few of the sketches which our English brethren have preserved can be inserted here. But it is sufficient to observe that for almost a century after the church of England was established by law, our Baptist brethren throughout the kingdom, were everywhere persecuted and distressed, and many were exposed to tortures and death.
The last man who was put to death in England for religion was a Baptist.
His name was Edward Wightman, and is supposed to be the progenitor of a large family of that name in America, many of whom have been members of different Baptist churches in Rhode Island, and the neighboring States of Connecticut and Massachusetts, and not a few of them worthy ministers in our churches. Mr. Wightman was of the town of Burton upon Trent, he was convicted of divers heresies before the bishop of Litchfield and Coventry, and being delivered over to the secular power, was burnt at Litchfield, April 11th, 1612. This poor man was accused by his persecutors with Arianism, Anabaptism, and almost every other heretical ism, that ever infected the christian world. He was condemned for holding the wicked heresies of the Ebionites, Cerinthians, Valentinians, Arians, Macedonians, of Simon Magus, Manes, Manicheus, Photinus, and of the Anabaptists, and of other heretical, execrable, and unheard of opinions. “If,” says Crosby, “Wightman really held all the opinions laid to his charge, he must have been either an idiot or a madman, and ought to have had the prayers of his persecutors rather than been put to a cruel death.”
From the death of William Sawtre, who was burnt in London, to the time that Edward Wightman perished in the flames at Litchfield, was a period of two hundred and twelve years. We have very good grounds for believing, that Sawtre was a Baptist, we are sure that Wightman was, and thus it appears that the Baptists have had the honor of leading the van, and bringing up the rear, of that part of the noble army of English martyrs, who have laid down their lives at the stake.
It is now about two hundred years since Wightman, with his enormous load of heresies, was committed to the purifying flames. Almost half of this time, the Baptists in England were, for the most part, in an uncertain state; what earthly enjoyments they possessed were held by a precarious tenure, and persecution and distress were their common lot. They had indeed some short intervals of repose, but these were succeeded by tempestuous seasons, and the cup of affliction was dealt out to them by their enemies in plenteous measure.
We have observed that Edward Wightman was the last man who suffered death for religion in England. Bat this statement needs some qualification.
He was indeed the last who suffered death for conscience’ sake by a direct course of law; but multitudes since him, both Baptists and others, have died in prisons, and came by their ends by the various methods of legal persecutions, and lawless outrage, with which implacable adversaries pursued them. Thousands have suffered by fines, scourging, and imprisonment, been driven to exile, starvation, and wretchedness, by a protestant power, which professed to have separated from the mother of harlots, and to have renounced the works of darkness. Of many of these sufferers we have obtained some information, but the history of many others must remain unknown, until that tremendous day, when the righteous Judge of the universe shall makeINQUISITION FOR BLOOD.
We shall now pass on to the founding of Baptist churches in this kingdom, and then take notice of their increase from time to time. I find that Crosby and Ivimey are not entirely agreed respecting the time when the first Baptist churches were founded in England. Crosby’s account is as follows: “In the year 1633, the Baptists, who had hitherto been intermixed with other protestant dissenters, without distinction, and who consequently shared with the Puritans in the persecutions of those times, began to separate themselves, and form distinct societies of their own. Concerning the first of these, I find the following account collected from a manuscript of Mr. William Kiffin. “There was a congregation of protestant dissenters of the Independent persuasion in London, gathered in the year 1616, of which Mr. Henry Jacob was the first pastor, and after him succeeded Mr. John Lathtop, who was their minister in 1633. In this society several persons, finding that the congregation kept not to its first principles of separation, and being also convinced that baptism was not to be administered to infants, but to suet, as professed faith in Christ, desired that they might be dismissed from the communion, and allowed to form a distinct congregation in such order as was most agreeable to their own sentiments. “The church, considering that they were now grown very numerous, and so more than could in those times of persecution conveniently meet together, and believing also that those persons acted from a principle of conscience, and not from obstinacy, agreed to allow them the liberty they desired, and that they should be constituted a distinct church, which was performed, Sept. 12, 1633. And as they believed that baptism was not rightly administered to infants, so they looked upon the baptism they had received at that age as invalid, whereupon most or all of them received a new baptism. Their minister was a Mr. John Spilsbury.
What number they were is uncertain, because in the mentioning of about twenty men and women, it is added, with divers others. “In the year 1638, Mr. William Kiffin, Mr. Thomas Wilson, and others, being of the same judgment, were upon their request dismissed to the said Mr. Spilsbury’s congregation. In the year 1639, another congregation of Baptists was formed, whose place of meeting was in Crutchedfriars, the chief promoters of which were Mr. Green, Mr. Paul Hobson, and Captain Spencer.”
There can be no dispute but that these churches were founded at the time, and in the manner above related. But Mr. Ivimey contends that they were not the first which were established in England. He has produced a passage from the writings of Dr. Some, which states that as early as 1589, “there were several Anabaptist conventicles in London and other places.” “Some persons,” adds the doctor, “of these sentiments have been bred at our universities.”
It is highly probable that the churches or conventicles mentioned by Dr.
Some, were General Baptists, as they doubtless founded many churches in England before the Particular Baptists had any. But the reader must keep in mind, that the following statements respect the Particular Baptists only.
The General Baptists will be taken notice of under a separate head.
As our brethren in this insulated kingdom were constantly loaded by their enemies with opprobrious epithets, both from the pulpit and the press, and were accused of holding many dangerous opinions, they at length put forth a confession of their faith for the purpose of clearing themselves from such unjust aspersions. An instrument of this kind was published by the Particular Baptists about tell years after their first churches were founded. 5 It was signed in the name of seven congregations, or churches of Christ in London; as also by a French congregation of the same judgment.
The ministers’ names are Thomas Gunne, John Mabbitt, Benjamin Cockes, Thomas Kilicop, John Spilsbury, Samuel Richardson, Thomas Munden, George Tipping, Paul Hobson, Thomas Goare, William Kiffin, Thomas Patient, Hansard Knollys, Thomas Holmes, Christopher Duret, Denis LeBarbier. Several editions of this confession were published in 1643, 1644, and 1646. It was put into the hands of many of the members of parliament, and produced such an effect, that some of their greatest adversaries, (and even the bitter and inveterate doctor Featly) were obliged to acknowledge, that excepting the articles against infant baptism, it was an orthodox confession.
Although but seven churches put forth this confession, yet it appears that there were many more then in being, and before the year 1646, they had increased to forty-six, which Ivimey supposes were situated in and about London. The Anabaptists, said Robert Baille, in 1646, in a work entitled, Anabaptism the true fountain of error, have lifted up their heads and increased their number above all the sects in the land.
I do not find any particular account of the number of churches from this period until 1689. About this time, William, Prince of Orange, ascended the throne of England. One of the first measures of government was, to pass the Act of Toleration the Magna Charta of the protestant dissenters; and but a few months after the coronation of that illustrious prince, we find the delegates from upwards of a hundred churches in England and Wales, met in London for the purpose of inquiring into the state of their churches, and adopting measures for their future prosperity. This was in 1689, and by this assembly was published the confession of faith, which has often been distinguished by the name of the Century Confession. This great Association of churches continued its annual sessions for a few years, when finding it inconvenient for delegates to travel so far, it was divided, and associations appear to have been kept up by the English Baptists from then to the present time. “It must not be supposed, says Ivimey, that this general assembly, consisting of a hundred and seven churches, contained all the Baptist churches in England. There were, at the same time, a great number of General Baptists, who had no concern with this assembly. There were also a number of churches of the Particular Baptists, or who, at least, held to their doctrinal sentiments, who, for particular reasons, did not unite in this great association. Some of them held to open communion, and among these were a number in Bedfordshire, which had been founded by the famous John Bunyan, who was a great advocate for that practice. Others probably had some scruples respecting the propriety and utility of Associations.
Among the manuscript writings of Morgan Edwards, I find a list of the Baptist churches in England, which appears to have been made out about the year 1768. At that time the number of Particular Baptist churches was two hundred and seventeen. Dr. Rippon in his Annual Register published a list for 1790, by which it appears that their number had increased to three hundred and twelve. Eight years after, we learn from the same Register that their number amounted to three hundred and sixty-one.
We shall now collect from the wide range of materials before us, brief accounts of the principal scenes of sufferings, which our brethren passed through from the time their first churches were founded, up to the close of their persecutions for conscience’ sake. We shall also, as we go along, take notice of some of those distinguished events which transpired in the land during the times of their afflictions, by which their reputation and tranquillity were affected, or in which they were implicated or concerned.
While the bigoted and cruel Archbishop Laud had the government of the church of England, dissenters of every class, and particularly the Baptists, experienced a continual scene of vexation and trouble. About the year 1638, many ministers were apprehended and shut up in prison. And among them was a Mr. Brewer, a Baptist minister, who lay in prison fourteen years.
In these times, the High Commission Court and the Star Chamber were two of the chief engines of wrong both in church and state; but they were terminated by an act of parliament in 1641. But other means of oppression and cruelty remained, and the Baptists were made continually to feel their force. Baptist meetings were frequently disturbed and broken up, and many eminent ministers were punished with fines and imprisonment.
Some slanderous pieces were published against them, and among the rest was one by the famous Richard Baxter. This eminent man, whose name on many accounts ought always to be mentioned with respect, and who was himself afterwards persecuted with much severity, vented the most virulent invectives against the watery Anabaptists. In a piece entitled Plain Scripture Proof, etc. we find the following astonishing accusations against the dangerous and indecorous dippers. “My sixth argument,” said he, “shall be against the usual manner of their baptizing, as it is by dipping over head in a river, or other cold water. That which is a plain breach of the sixth commandment, Thou shalt not kill, is no ordinance of God, but a most heinous sin. But the ordinary practice of baptizing over head, and in cold water, as necessary, is a plain breach of the sixth commandment, therefore it is no ordinance of God, but a heinous sin. And as Mr. Cradock shows in his book of gospel liberty, the magistrate ought to restrain it, to save the lives of his subjects — That this is flat murder, and no better, being ordinarily and generally used, is undeniable to any understanding man — And I know not what trick a covetous landlord can find out to get his tenants to die apace, that he may have new fines and heriots, likelier than to encourage such preachers, that he may get them all to turn Anabaptists. I wish that this device be not it which countenanceth these men; and covetous physicians, methinks, should not be much against them. Catarrhs and obstructions, which are the two great fountains of most mortal diseases in man’s body, could scarce have a more notable means to produce them where they are not, or to increase them where they are. Apoplexies, lethargies, palsies, and all other comatous diseases would be promoted by it. So would cephalalgies, hemicranies, phthises, debility of the stomach, crudities, and almost all fevers, dysenteries, diarrhaeas, cholics, iliac passions, convulsions, spasms, tremors, and so on. All hepatic, splenetic, and pulmonic persons, and hypochondriacs would soon have enough of it. In a word, it is good for nothing but to dispatch men out of the world, that are burdensome, and to ranken church yards — I conclude, if murder be a sin, then dipping ordinarily over head in England is a sin; and if those who would make it men’s religion to murder themselves, and urge it upon their consciences as their duty, are not to be suffered in a commonwealth, and more than highway murderers; then judge how these Anabaptists, that teach the necessity of such dipping, are to be suffered. My seventh argument is also against another wickedness in their manner of baptizing, which is, their dipping persons naked, which is very usual with many of them, or next to naked, as is usual with the modestest that I have heard of. If the minister must go into the water with the party, it will certainly tend to his death, though they may scape that go in but once. Would not vain young men come to a baptizing to see the nakedness of maids, and make a mere jest and sport of it?” “Poor man!” says Mr. Booth, “he seems to be afflicted with a violent hydrophobia! For he cannot think of any person being immersed in cold water, but he starts, he is convulsed, he is ready to die with fear. Immersion, you must know, is like Pandora’s box, and pregnant with a great part of those diseases, which Milton’s angel presented to the view of our first father. A compassionate regard therefore to the lives of his fellow creatures compels Mr. Baxter to solicit the aid of magistrates against this destructive plunging, and to cry out in the spirit of an exclamation once heard in the Jewish temple, Ye men of Israel, help! or Baptist ministers will depopulate your country! Know you not that these plunging teachers are shrewdly suspected of being pensioned by avaricious landlords to destroy the lives of your liege subjects? Exert your power! Apprehend the delinquents! Appoint an Auto da Fe! Let the venal dippers be baptized in blood, and thus put a salutary stop to this pestiferous practice! — What a pity it is that the celebrated History of Cold Bathing, by Sir John Floyer, was not published half a century sooner! It might, perhaps, have preserved this good man from a multitude of painful paroxysms occasioned by the thought of immersion in cold water. Were I seriously (adds Mr. Booth) to put a query to these assertions of Mr. Baxter, it should be with a little variation in the words of David, “What shall be given unto thee, or what shall be done unto thee, thou FALSE pen? Were the temper, which dictated the preceding caricature to receive a just reproof, it might be in the language of Michael, The Lord rebuke thee!” When a circumstance is related, which took place in the year 1646, it will not be thought that Mr. Booth has treated the misrepresentations of Mr. Baxter with too great severity. In this year Samuel Oates, a very popular preacher among the Baptists, by whom many hundreds were baptized, was indicted for the murder of Anne Martin, who died a few weeks after she was baptized by him. He was tried at Chelmsford, and great endeavors were used to bring him in guilty. But many credible witnesses were produced, and among others the mother of the young woman, who all testified, that the said Anne Martin was in much better health for several days after her baptism, than she had been for several years before. And in the end the jury pronounced not guilty. But so great was the enmity against Mr. Oates, that he was, not long after, dragged out of a house where he was visiting, and thrown into a river, his persecutors boasting that they had thoroughly dipped him.
During the reign of Cromwell, the Baptists experienced a respite from their troubles, many of them found favor with the Protector, were elevated to posts of honor and profit, and their number greatly increased throughout the land.
Charles II was restored to the throne of his ancestors, May 29, 1660. In his Majesty’s declaration from Breda, before his return, it was said, “We do also declare a liberty to tender consciences, and that no man shall be disquieted or called in question for differences of opinion in matters of religion, which do not disturb the peace of the kingdom.” How far his conduct accorded with these professions, the events of his reign will abundantly show.
The first who suffered for religion in the reign of this profligate prince, was the famous John Bunyan, author of the Pilgrim’s Progress and many other excellent works. He had been a preacher of the gospel about five years, and was exceedingly popular, though he still followed his business as a travelling tinker. While preaching at a village in Bedfordshire in 1660, he was apprehended and committed to Bedford jail, where he remained twelve years. Seven years of the time he was kept so close, that he could not look out of the door of his prison.
The year 1661, says Rapin, was ushered in by an extraordinary event which gave the court a pretence for breaking through the declaration of indulgence, which had been published. The event here alluded to was, in short, as follows: About fifty of those who were called fifth monarchy men, under the conduct of one Thomas Venner, assembled in the evening in St. Paul’s church yard, and killed a man, who, upon demand, had answered for God and the King. This gave at; alarm, the company was pursued by military force to some distance from the city, where some were taken prisoners. They afterwards returned and fought furiously in several positions until they were all either killed or taken prisoners. The prisoners were shortly after condemned and executed. This was an unfortunate event for dissenters, for the crime of a few furious fanatics was laid to the charge of all. The king took occasion from this insurrection to publish a proclamation forbidding all meetings and conventicles under pretense of religion, and commanding the oath of allegiance and supremacy to be tendered to all persons disaffected to the government; and in case of refusal, they were to be prosecuted. The consequence was, that numbers of Baptists and other dissenters were imprisoned, and their meetings every where disturbed.
This insurrection, like the Munster tragedy, was improved against the turbulent dippers. But “Mr. Jessey preaching soon after, declared to his congregation that Venner should say, he believed there was not one Baptist among them; and that if they succeeded, the Baptists should know that infant baptism was an ordinance of Jesus Christ. Mr. Gravener was present at Venner’s meeting house in Coleman street, and heard him say this; from whose mouth (says the writer) I had this account.”
Troubles now gathered thick upon our English bretheren. In 1662, the Act of Uniformity was passed, in consequence of which, upwards of two thousand eminently godly, learned, and useful ministers were obliged to leave their livings, and were exposed to many hardships and difficulties.
Amongst these were a number of the Baptist denomination, but how many cannot be determined with certainty. We are sure, however, that among the Baptist ministers were Henry Jessey, A.M. William Dell, M. A. Francis Bampfield, M. A. Thomas Gennings, Paul Frewen, Joshua Head, John Tombes, B. D. Daniel Dyke, A.M. Richard Adams, Jeremiah Marsden, Thomas Hardcastle, Robert Browne, Gabriel Camelford, John Skinner, ___________ Baker, John Gosnold, Thomas Quarrel, Thomas Ewins, Lawrence Wise, John Donne, Paul Hobson, John Gibbs, John Smith, Thomas Ellis, Thomas Paxford, Ichabod Chauncey, M.D.
Crosby has mentioned the names of a number of these ejected ministers, of whom it was doubtful whether they were Baptists, and Ivimey has omitted the names of some of whom it has been determined that they had become Baptists before this event. And among them was John Miles, who founded the Baptist church at Swansy in Massachusetts. “It is rather wonderful,” says Ivimey, “that any Baptists were found in the churches at this time, when it is considered that the first act, which was passed, after the restoration of the king, contained an exception of all, who had declared against infant baptism from being restored to their livings. It is probable also that amongst those, who had been expelled to make room for the old incumbents, some were of this denomination. The Act of Uniformity completed the business, and after this we do not find that any person who rejected the baptism of infants continued in the establishment.”
Some may be surprised that so many Baptist ministers should accept of livings in the parish churches. But it appears to have been a very common custom before these times. It is not unfrequent in this country for Baptist ministers to preach to, and receive salaries from Pedo-baptist congregations; they do not administer ordinances amongst them, unless that now and then they find some disposed to go into the water, and they commonly preach more or less to Baptist churches at the same time. And in much the same way these ministers conducted of whom we have been speaking. Whatever fault a Baptist may be disposed to find with such a procedure, it is sure that the Pedobaptists have generally the most reason to complain in the end.
The reign of Charles II exhibited a series of profligacy, cruelty, and oppression. But as the divine judgments do not always slumber, the nation was visited with very sore calamities. In 1665, a plague broke out, which was then the most dreadful within the memory of man. The number of those who died in London only, amounted to about one hundred thousand.
Eight or ten thousand died in the city and suburbs in a week. This calamity was preceded by an unusual drought, and it was succeeded in 1666, by a most destructive fire, which, in three or four days, consumed thirteen thousand and two hundred dwelling houses, eighty nine churches, and many other public buildings. Thus this guilty nation, which had committed to the flames so many of the saints of the Lord, which had starved and tormented so many others in various ways, was, in quick succession, visited with three of the terrible messengers of divine vengeance, famine, plague, and fire.
In 1673, among other vile attempts to render the Baptists odious and contemptible, a pamphlet was published entitled, Mr. Baxter baptized in blood. This scandalous piece professed to give an account of the murder of Mr. Josiah Baxter, at Boston in New England, by four Anabaptists, etc.
This Baxter was said to be a godly minister, whom the bloody Anabaptists had murdered, in the most barbarous and horrid manner, merely because he had worsted them in argument. The writer of this detestable libel took much pains to conceal his fraud, and to make the story credible among the enemies of the Baptists. But providence favored our brethren to defeat the design of this base fictitious performance. The lord mayor published an interdict to prevent the sale of the pamphlet; and many of the publishers were committed to prison. Through the influence of Mr. Kiffin, at court, the matter underwent a rigid examination at the council board, when upon finding it a falsehood, the following order was published in the gazette: “By order of council.” “Whereas there is a pamphlet lately published, entitled, Mr. Baxter baptized in blood, containing a horrible murder committed by four Anabaptists upon the person of Mr. Josiah Baxter, near Boston in New England: the whole matter having been inquired into, and examined at the council board, is found altogether false and fictitious. EDWARD WALKER.” That the reader may have a view of the circumstances in which the Baptists, in these times were placed, and how their enemies conducted towards them, I will transcribe the following summary statements from the Memoirs of the English Baptists.” “Lord’s day, May 29, 1670, a congregation of Baptists, to the amount of five hundred, met for divine worship near Lewes in Sussex. Two of their enemies observed them go to their meeting house, and informed against them, upon which Sir Thomas Nutt, a violent persecutor, and three other justices, convicted the minister and above forty of the hearers. The minister was fined 20 l . and his fine laid upon five of his hearers, and the rest of the company was fined five shillings each. Warrants were issued under the hands of the justices, for the recovery of the fines by distress and sale of goods, and directed to the constables of the hundred, and the church wardens and overseers of the parish. In the month of June the distresses were made. From Richard White, fined 3l . 15s. they took value 10l . 13s . From John Tabret, fined-2l . 14s . they took a cow. From Walter Brett, a grocer, fined 6l . 5s . they took two casks of sugar, which cost him 15l. From Thomas and Richard Barnard, fined 11l . 10s . they took six cows, upon which the dairy maid told them she believed they would have a store of syllabubs, having taken so much sugar from Mr. Brett! From Thomas Tourle, fined five shillings, they took a horse, and another from Richard Mantle for a like fine. From others for similar fines they took bacon, cheese, kitchen furniture, wearing apparel, and other goods, to about treble the amount of their fines. The cattle and other property taken from the said several sufferers, were publicly sold for about half their value. “On the aforesaid 29th of May, a meeting of Baptists was held in Brighthelmstone, at the house of Mr. William Beard, who was fined 20l . for which fine the constable of the place and two assistants took sixty-five bushels of malt, and sold it for twelve shillings per quarter! “At Chillington, three miles from Lewes, Mr. Nicholas Martin was convicted of having a meeting at his house, and fined 20l . for which fine the officer of injustice took from him six cows, two young bullocks, and a horse, being all the stock he had, all of which he recovered again, but not till he had taken a great deal of trouble, and been at more than 23l . expense. “The magistrates at Dover began early to show their unrighteous zeal against the Baptists. Many of them were violently taken from their meeting house, committed to prison, and detained in confinement, to the ruin of their circumstances, and great distress of their families. These hardships urged them to petition the King and Duke of York for redress, but no relief was given. At Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, the justices endeavored to revive the old practice of punishing heretics with death. By virtue of a dormant statute made in the reign of queen Elizabeth, Mr. Stephen Dagnal, pastor of a Baptist congregation that met at Aylesbury, and eleven of his people, being taken at a meeting, were sentenced to be hanged, and as soon as sentence was passed against them, officers were sent to their several houses to seize their goods, and whatever effects of theirs could be found; which order was executed immediately, and great havoc was made of what possessions they had; but powerful intercession being made for them at court, by Mr. Kiffin, the king granted them a pardon, and sometime afterward they were all set at liberty again. “Great were the sufferings of the Baptists in Gloucestershire, particularly in the neighborhood of Fairford, Bourton on the water, Stow, and some other places. The most eminent cavaliers, embittered persecutors, rode about armed with swords and pistols, ransacked their houses and abused their families in a most violent manner. “In the county of Wilts, and diocese of Salisbury, our brethren were persecuted with great severity. Bishop Ward often disturbed their meetings in person, and encouraged his clergy to follow his example. Informers were every where at work,. and having crept into religious assemblies in disguise, levied great sums of money upon ministers and people. Soldiers broke into honest farmers’ houses, under pretense of scorching for conventicles, and where ready money was wanting, plundered their goods, drove away their cattle, and sold them a great deal under their value. Many of these sordid creatures spent their profits in ill houses upon lewd women, and then went about again to hunt for more prey. “The Baptist church at Calne suffered much; having been often disturbed when they assembled in their meeting house; in order to avoid fresh troubles they sometimes met at a mill, called Moses’ Mill, a little distance from the town, and at other times under a large white-thorn bush upon the brow of a hill, in a field called Shiepfield, about two miles from the town. The bush has ever since been called Gospel Bush; but only some very small branches of it remain. “The Baptists in Lincolnshire were persecuted with savage rage.
Not less than one hundred of them were imprisoned, some for hearing, and others for preaching the word of God. They endured not less than three hundred levies for fines. Some for two pence a week, others for 10, 20, 40, and 60l . whereby many were reduced to great poverty, and others driven from home. Presentments and excommunications, they had several hundreds, and indictments at the assizes and sessions upon the statute for two pence per week, and twenty pounds a month, not less than a thousand. “Mr. Robert Shalder, of Croft, in the said county, was long confined in prison and dying soon after his release from it, was interred in the common burying ground amongst his ancestors. The same day he was buried, certain of the inhabitants of Croft, opened his grave, took up his corpse, and dragged it upon a sledge to his own gates, and there left it unburied! “In short, there was not a protestant dissenting congregation in the kingdom but were grievously harassed, not a zealous Baptist but had a double mess of persecution, From the restoration of Charles II to the revolution under William III a space of twenty-nine years, more than sixty thousand people suffered for religion, were plundered of two millions of money,9 and eight or ten thousand of them died in gaol. Very many of the sufferers were Baptists; but they cheer filly endured the cross, despising the shame, stood fast in the Lord, and served God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”
These legal robberies and outrageous proceedings appear to have been carried on under the sanction of a Conventicle Act, which received the royal assent in 1670. By this act it was decreed that the preachers or teachers in any conventicle should forfeit twenty pounds for the first and forty for the second offense. And those who suffered any conventicles in their houses, barns, yards, etc. were to forfeit twenty. Smaller fines were levied upon all over sixteen years of age, who were found at conventicles.
One third of the money collected of the conventicleers, was to go to the informer or his assistants. This held out a powerful motive to avaricious bigots to pillage their innocent neighbors, and some acquired considerable fortunes from the spoils of the poor afflicted people of God. One Thomas Battison, an old church warden, engaged with much assiduity in this unrighteous mode of procuring wealth. But the indignation of the populace was excited against him, and while he was attempting to distrain the goods of one John Burdolf, in which, however, he did not succeed, they tied a calf’s tail to his back, and then derided him with shouts and halloos, as he was going off to another place. Soon after he took a brass kettle from one Edward Covington; but when he had brought it to the street door, none of the officers would carry it away; neither could he hire any to do it in two hours time, though he offered money to such needy persons among the company as wanted bread. At last he got a youth for sixpence to carry the kettle less way than a stone’s throw, to an inn-yard, where he had before hired a room to lodge such goods under pretence to lodge grain; but when the youth had carried the kettle to the inn-gate, being hooted at all the way by the common spectators, the inn-keeper would not suffer the kettle to be brought into his yard; and so his man set it out in the middle of the street, none regarding it, till towards night a poor woman that received alms was caused by an overseer to carry it away.
These proceedings were in the town of Bedford, and although the people were against the distrainers, yet they had law on their side, and made terrible havoc with the property of all, who had been guilty of the atrocious crime of meeting in houses and barns to worship the God of heaven.
Our limits forbid us to pursue any further the narrative of the sufferings of our English brethren in these times of cruelty and oppression.
We shall now take notice of some of the most distinguished characters among the English Baptists, from the beginning to the present. “It was not long after the Particular Baptists had founded distinct churches, when Mr. Hansard Knollis, who had been graduated at Cambridge, formed a Baptist church in London, in the year 1641, and presided over it till his death in 1692. About the same period Mr. Francis Cornwell, M. A. of Emanuel College, Cambridge, embraced the Baptist sentiments, and became pastor of a church at Marden in Kent. “Before this, Mr. Benjamin Coxe, a bishop’s son, and a graduate of one of the universities, had joined the Baptists, by which he lost all the preferments he might have obtained in the church. “There were also at this time Mr. Henry Denne, Mr. Christopher Blackwood, Mr. Daniel Dyke, Mr. Francis Bampfield, and others; who were much distinguished for their learning and usefulness, in the reign of Charles I. “Another eminent person was Mr. John Tombes, B. D. of whom even his enemies speak in terms of high commendation. Dr. Wall, in his history of infant baptism, says, “of: he professed Antipedobaptists, Mr. Tombes was a man of the best parts in our nation, and perhaps in any other. “All these, and many besides, had good livings in the established Church, but left it either before or at the passing the Act of Uniformity in 1662. “Another learned man was Mr. Henry Jesse, who had been for several years the pastor of the first Independent Church, but being convinced of the error of infant baptism, was baptized in 1645, and was a very useful minis-tee in London for many years. He had undertaken and almost completed a new translation of the Bible, being dissatisfied with the present received version, on account of the ecclesiastical words introduced or retained by the ecclesiastical divines, at the command of James I. This work he made the master study of his life, and would often exclaim, “O, that I might finish it before I die.” This, however, was denied him. “Another person of great reputation was Charles Maria Duveil, D.
D. by birth a Jew, but embracing christianity. After passing through the church of Rome, and the church of England, he settled as pastor of a Baptist church in Gracechurch street, London. He was much supported by many of the dignified clergy, notwithstanding the change of his sentiments; among whom were Dr. Stillingfleet, bishop of Worcester, Dr. Sharp, dean of Norwich, Dr. Tillotson, dean of St. Paul’s, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Simon Patrick, bishop of Ely, and William Lloyd, bishop of St. Asaph. He published a literal exposition of the gospels of Mark and Luke; also of the Acts of the Apostles and the minor prophets. “There was Mr. John Gosnold, pastor of a church in Barbican, London; who was eminently learned, and a very popular preacher, much esteemed and valued by men of note and dignity in the established church. He was intimately acquainted with Dr.
Tillotson, who was frequently his hearer. Dr. Calamy says, he was bred in the Charter-house school, and in Pembroke-hall, Cambridge; and was afterwards chaplain to Lord Grey. “Another learned man of this denomination, was the famous Thomas Delaune, who was a minister and schoolmaster in London; and who, it is well known, fell a victim to the cause of nonconformity in the reign of Charles II.”
William Kiffin was one of the earliest promoters of the Particular Baptists, and a distinguished minister among them. He was one of the few Baptist ministers, on whom the Disposer of all events saw fit to bestow much of the possessions and honors of the world. He was personally known to both Charles II, and James his successor. Crosby informs us that it was currently reported, that when Charles wanted money, he sent to Mr. Kiffin to borrow of him forty thousand pounds; that Mr. Kiffin pleaded in excuse he had not so much, but told the messenger, if it would be of any service to his majesty, he would present him with ten thousand; that is, upwards of forty thousand dollars; the which was accepted, and Mr. Kiffin afterwards said he had saved thereby thirty thousand pounds. Mr. Kiffin had great influence at court, and was enabled to render essential service to his brethren. By his means the wicked and scurrilous pamphlet, entitled, Baxter baptized in blood, was examined and condemned; and by his intercession also, twelve Baptists, who had been condemned to death at Aylesbury, received the king’s pardon. But with all his wealth and influence he was a meek and modest man.
Two of his grandsons, viz. Benjamin and William Hewling, young gentlemen of great fortunes, of accomplished education, and of eminent piety, were concerned in the ill-timed and ill-fated expedition of the Duke of Monmouth, which terminated in the destruction of almost all who had any hand in it. The grandfather and father of the late Dr. Gifford of London, were also deeply engaged in this unhappy affair. And at this time perished in the flames a distinguished Baptist woman by the name of Elizabeth Gaunt. Her crime was that of harboring one of the rebels, who, with the basest ingratitude, turned evidence against her. She was condemned for treason, and theret0re died rather a patriot than a martyr.
But it is said by bishop Burner, that there was no evidence that she knew that her traitorous guest was a rebel except his own.
But many of the church of England, of Presbyterians, lndependents, and Baptists, were zealously engaged for the Duke of Monmouth, and many fell by the means of the cruel Jeffries and others.
But to return to Mr. Kiffin: He was nominated by James II for one of the aldermen of the city of London in his new charter. But this was an honor which the old Baptist Elder by no means desired. Waiting on the king by his request he addressed him as follows: “Sire, I am a very old man, and have withdrawn myself from all kinds of business for some years past, and am incapable of doing any service in such an affair to your majesty in the city. Besides, Sire” — the old man went on, fixing his eyes steadfastly on the king, while the tears ran down his cheeks “the death of my grandsons gave a wound to my heart which is still bleeding, and never will close but in the grave.”
The king was deeply struck by the manner, the freedom, and the spirit of this unexpected rebuke. A total silence ensued, while the galled countenance of James seemed to shrink from the horrid remembrance. In a minute or two, however, he recovered himself enough to say, “Mr. Kiffin, I shall find a balsam for that sore,” and he immediately turned about to a lord in waiting.
Mr. Kiffin was now in great trials; to accept the office of alderman was much against his inclination, and to refuse, he had learnt, would be dangerous. “I went,” says he, “to the ablest council for advice, and stating my case to him, he told me my danger was every way great, for if I accepted to be an alderman, I ran the hazard of five hundred pounds, and if I did not accept, as the judges then were, I might be fined by them ten, or twenty, or thirty thousand pounds, even what they pleased. So that [thought it better for me to run the lesser hazard of five hundred pounds, which was certain, than be exposed to such fines as might be the ruin of myself and family.” Accordingly after waiting some time in suspense, he accepted the office; but things were soon changed by the coming of the Prince of Orange, and this aged minister was relieved from his burdens and snares. Crosby mentions that there were four other Baptists made aldermen at the same time, but I have not learnt their names.
Among the judges and regicides of Charles I were two eminent men, who afterwards became Baptists. These were Major General Harrison and Col.
Harrison arose from obscurity to an elevated rank among the heroes of the Commonwealth. He was very desirous to bring the king to trial, and was the officer who conducted the English monarch before the tribunal which sentenced him to lose his head on the scaffold. It was not till some time after this tragic event that he became a Baptist. The same may be said of Colonel Hutchinson. Both of these great men were executed on the restoration of Charles II.
About this time lived the famous Benjamin Keach, author of the Scripture Metaphors, and many other valuable works. In 1664, he was prosecuted and sentenced to the pillory, for publishing a work entitled The Child’s Instructer, or a New and Easy Primer. While in the pillory, he among other things said to the spectators, “Good people, I am not ashamed to stand here this day, with this paper on my head. My Lord Jesus was not ashamed to suffer on the cross for me, and it is for his cause that I am made a gazing-stock. Take notice, it is not for any wickedness that I stand here; but for writing and publishing his truths, which the Spirit of the Lord hath revealed in the Holy Scriptures.” A clergyman, who stood by, could not forbear interrupting him, and said, “It is for writing and publishing errors; and you may now see what your errors have brought you to.” Mr. Keach replied, “Sir, can you prove them errors?” But before the clergyman could return an answer, he was attacked by some of the people, who told him of his being “pulled drunk out of a ditch.” Another upbraided him with having been found “drunk under a hay-cock.” Upon this the people, turning their attention from the sufferer in the pillory, laughed at the drunken priest, insomuch that he hastened away with the utmost disgrace and shame.
Mr. Keach was the author of eighteen practical works, some of them large, sixteen polemical, and nine poetical, making in all forty-three; besides a number of prefaces and recommendations for the works of others.
Dr. Gill, who was afterwards pastor of the same church, was the author of upwards of sixty different works, and among them was an Exposition of the Old and New Testment in nine volumes folio. Dr. Rippon, his biographer, assures us, that had the writings of this eminent man been uniformly printed in the size of his Old and New Testament, they would have made the astonishing sum total of TEN THOUSAND folio pages of divinity. Well might Mr. Shrubsole give him the title of Dr. Voluminous.
I much regret that I cannot give a more general account of the eminent characters, who have appeared at different times among the English Baptists. They, I find, mention among the skillful defenders of their doctrinal sentiments, Piggot, the Stennetts, the Wallins, the Wilsons, Evans, Brine, Gill, Day, Beddome, Francis, Ryland, and Gifford. But few of our American Baptists know that John Canne, author of the marginal references in the Bible, Dr. Ash, author of a Dictionary and other classical works, which bear his name, Thomas Wilcox, author of an excellent little piece entitled a Drop of Honey from the Rock Christ, and Winterbottom, author of the View of America, were of their sentiments.
Miss Steele, the author of those excellent hymns, which appear in our collections, was, I find by a hint in Morgan Edwards’ list, the daughter of a Baptist minister in the county of Hampshire.
At different periods in the seventeenth century, there were many long public disputes held by appointment between the Baptists and Pedobaptists on the subject of baptism; the last dispute of this kind of any considerable consequence, appears to have been held at Portsmouth, in 1699. Mr. John Tombes, Dr. Russel, Mr. Jeremiah Ives, and others, were famous disputants for the Baptists, and Dr. Featley, Mr. Baxter, and Mr. Chandler and others, for the Pedo-baptists.
There is a pleasant anecdote related of Jeremiah Ives, in one of his public disputations, of which in the History of Baptism, we promised to give some more particular account. Mr. Ives by his many disputations became so noted that Charles II sent for him to dispute with a Romish priest. He accepted the invitation and maintained a dispute before the king, and many others, in the habit of a clergyman. “Ives pressed the priest closely, showing, that whatever antiquity they pretended to, their doctrine and practices could by no means be proved apostolical, since they are not to be found in any writings, which remain of the apostolic age. The priest, after much wrangling, in the end replied, “That this argument of Mr. Ives’ was of as much force against infant baptism, as against the doctrines and ceremonies of the church of Rome.” To which Mr. Ives replied, “that he readily granted what he said to be true.” The priest upon this broke up the dispute, saying, “he had been cheated, and that he would proceed no farther, for he came to dispute with a clergyman of the established church, and it was now evident that this was an Anabaptist preacher.” This behavior of the priest afforded his majesty and all present not a little diversion. Mr. Ives was pastor of a baptized congregation in the Old Jewry, between thirty and forty years; was well beloved, and bore a fair character to his dying day. We read of another dispute held between a Baptist minister whose name is not mentioned, and a clergyman of the established church. The clergyman insisted that the dispute should be in Latin; but the Baptist minister pleaded for its being in English, that it might be to the edification of the audience. But the clergyman still persisted in his demand, and laid down his arguments in Latin. Fortunately the illiterate Baptist was an Irishman, and answered. in Irish. The clergyman, surprised at the learning of his antagonist, ingenuously confessed that he did not understand Greek, and therefore desired him to reply in Latin. “Well,” says the Baptist, “seeing you cannot dispute in Greek, I will not dispute in Latin; let us therefore dispute in English, and leave the company to judge.” But the pedantic priest still plead for an unknown tongue, and thus the dispute was frustrated.
A little while after the year 1670 it appears a controversy arose among the Baptists in England about the practice laying on of hands, which occasioned no little trouble among them. The famous Danvers wrote against the practice. But Keach wrote in defense of it, as did Thomas Grantham, a General Baptist. Others doubtless wrote on both sides of the subject, but these men seem to have taken the lead in the controversy.
How many churches now practice the laying on of hands, I am not informed, but I conclude not many.
Sometime after this there was a controversy among our English brethren, respecting the propriety of singing in public worship, and many pieces were written for and against it. But by pursuing prudent measures, this controversy was quieted, and the practice of singing was adopted by many churches, which had formerly neglected it, and I conclude now generally prevails. Some of the Baptists, who emigrated to America, brought over with them from their mother country, a prejudice against singing in public worship, and in some places, especially in Rhode-Island, there have been found, until within a few years past, a few ministers, who would not adopt the practice. 12 They did not, like the Quakers, oppose singing altogether; they held christians should sing to themselves, etc. but not with conjoined voices in public assemblies.
I know not what arguments those Baptists brought against singing in public, who omitted the practice. I am inclined to think, however, that the custom originated in times of persecution, when they were obliged to hold their meetings with the greatest secrecy. Singing was then from necessity dispensed with, and it is probable, that those who came after thought it inexpedient and improper.
Open communion is now generally opposed by the Particular Baptists, and although the General Baptists are more lax than they in their doctrinal sentiments, yet I believe they are equally strenuous in their terms of communion. But before the Baptists began to form churches, and indeed for some time after, it was a very common thing for them to travel in communion with Pedo-baptist churches. Different reasons may be assigned for their so doing. At first there were no Baptist churches for them to join. And after churches began to be established, many were brought to embrace believer’s baptism in situations remote from them.
And others doubtless continued in their old churches after they had been baptized, without much consideration on the subject. We do not find that many churches founded by the Baptists held to open communion, and had they, no harm nor benefit would have resulted from it, for they were generally so despised and persecuted, that few Pedo-baptists would be seen in their churches. In the times of which we are speaking, the Baptists were not stunned with a continual din of entreaties to unite in the Pedo-baptist communion, but they were admitted to it as a mere matter of favor and indulgence, which but few would grant. But we are informed that the good Doctors Watts and Doddridge, admitted Baptists to their communion, and treated them with kindness and respect. That wealthy and benevolent Baptist, Thomas Hollis, the liberal benefactor of Cambridge College, near Boston, was a member of a Pedobaptist church.
In the early times of the Baptists in England, some few, who had been created Doctors in Divinity, and a number who had received inferior titles, left the establishment, and united with these despised people. In later times a considerable number have been honored with the diploma of D. D. and a few with L. L. D. from Scotland and America. By the English Universities no honor of this kind can be bestowed upon any dissenters whatever.
We have thus endeavored to bring to view a few of the ancient worthies among the English Baptists. A great many others, eminent for learning, piety, suffering, and usefulness, we are obliged from the scantiness of our limits to omit. I am inclined to think there are at present three or four hundred ministers in the churches of the Particular Baptists. Many of them, probably, like their brethren in America, have had but moderate advantages for education, and receive but a scanty support for their services. But there are some, whose talents, learning, popularity, and usefulness, are not excelled by any ministers in the kingdom.
Many of the Baptists in England have for a long time made laudable exertions to promote the cause of learning among their denomination, and, besides smaller institutions, have established three seminaries, to which they have given the name of Academies. The oldest is at Bristol, the second at Bradford, and the third at Stephey-Green, near London.
BRISTOL ACADEMY In 1795, Dr. Rippon read before The Bristol Education Society, a brief essay towards the history of the Baptist Academy at Bristol, which is inserted in his Register. From this essay I shall select a few sketches of the history of this institution. Its foundation appears to have been laid by the General Assembly of Baptists in 1689. At this Convention they resolved to raise a fund or stock for different purposes, one of which was to assist in the education of young men of promising gifts, etc. The first student, who was educated at Bristol, was Richard Sampson, a member of the church at Plymouth. After he had finished his studies he became pastor of the church at Exeter where he died in 1716. Mr. Sampson was much esteemed by Sir Isaac Newton; and so strong was his memory, that one day when the conversation turned on the depriving good men again of their Bibles, Sir Isaac said, “they cannot possibly deprive Mr. Sampson of his, for he has it all treasured up within him.” The first students of the Academy of which we are speaking were assisted by yearly collections from the churches, and they studied not always at Bristol, but sometimes at London, at Taunton, Tewkesbury and elsewhere, for as yet no permanent society had been formed to direct the infant institution, nor was it confined to any particular place. Mr. Edward Terrill is considered the father and founder of the Academy, which his benevolence was the means of fixing in the city of Bristol. “He left something considerable to the pastor of the church in Broadmead, for the time being, provided that he were qualified for the business, and devoted a part of his time to the instruction of young students, etc.” We soon after learn that Caleb Jope was chosen to educate young men; but with the names of the students who were under his care, says Dr. Rippon, I am totally in the dark.
Bernard Foskett was the next tutor of this rising seminary, and acted in that capacity between twenty and thirty years. The number of students under him was sixty four, just half of them were Welshmen, and the other English Among these students were Benjamin Beddome, A.M. Benjamin Francis, A.M. Morgan Jones, L. L. D. Thomas Llewelyn, L. L. D. John Ash, L. L. D. Robert Day, A.M. John Ryland, A.M. slid Hugh Evans, A.M. who succeeded Mr. Foskett in the presidency of the Academy. Next to him was his son Caleb Evans, D. D. and his successor was John Ryland, D. D. who is still at the head of this important establishment.
Respecting the usual number of students in the Bristol Academy, its funds, its library, and other usual appendages of literary institutions, I have not been able to gain any satisfactory information. Neither am I acquainted with its internal economy and regulations. I conclude, however, that none are admitted to this Academy, but such as have tither began to preach or are promising for the ministry, and that those, who are needy, are supported either wholly or in part, as their circumstances require.
Connected with this Academy is the Bristol Education Society, which was formed in 1770, and has contributed greatly towards augmenting its pecuniary resources. From this Academy have proceeded mall), useful ministers and eminent characters. Many of them have gone to rest, many are now laboring among the churches in England, and a few of them are in America.
NORTHERN EDUCATION SOCIETY THIS society appears to have commenced about 1804 or 1805. In the last mentioned year it had raised by subscription and contribution a little more than eighteen hundred pounds sterling, not far from eight thousand dollars.
The resources of this society were then considered sufficient to support eight or nine students besides discharging all other expenses. Rev. William Steadman, formerly of Plymouth Dock, was chosen President of the Academy, which was fixed “for the present at Bradford,” a town in Yorkshire, 36 miles S. W. of York, and 193 N. N. W’. of London.
I have obtained the proceedings of the annual meeting of this society for 1805, to which is annexed a list of the names of donors and subscribers; the highest upon this list is James Bury of Pendle-hill, who gave the liberal sum of five hundred pounds sterling.
STEPNEY-GREEN — NEAR LONDON A Baptist Academy was founded at this place, probably about 1810. We learn from the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Magazine, that a house and premises at Stepney Green, near the metropolis, well fitted for an Academy, had been given by a liberal individual, and that exertions were making to establish a third literary institution for the benefit of the Baptist denomination. But what success has attended these exertions I have yet to learn; but it is probable there is, before this time, a well-endowed and flourishing Academy at Stephey-Green.
The exertions of the Baptists in England to promote the missionary cause will be noticed in the account of the India Mission. And besides sending missionaries abroad they have made exertions to promote itinerant preaching in destitute places at home. Itinerant societies have been formed, and by them many ‘have been assisted to travel and labor with success in different parts of the kingdom.
We shall now close this account with some general observations respecting the number of churches, Associations, ministers, and members of the Particular Baptists in England.
We have already shown that the number of churches in 1798, was 361; and in 1790, it was 312; and in 1768, it was 217. If they have increased in the same proportion for fifteen years past, they must now amount to about four hundred and fifty, which, I conclude is not far from their number. I know of no method by which we can determine, with any degree of certainty, the number of members in these churches. Dr. Rippon, in the notes which are subjoined to his list for 1798, has given the number of upwards of seventy of the smaller churches, which run from eleven to a hundred and forty, but average about fifty-five. But he informs us that the ancient churches in London, Bristol, and elsewhere, contained then from a hundred and fifty, to three and four hundred, and some more. If we compute the number of churches at four hundred and fifty, and these upon an average to contain eighty members, it will make the sum total of thirty six thousand; which is probably not far from the number of Particular Baptists in England.
The number of Associations in 1790, was seven, viz. York and Lancashire, Northampton, Midland, Kent and Sussex, Western, Norfolk and Suffolk, and Northern. Since then, have been formed two others called Oxfordshire and Shropshire. In 1790, when there were but three hundred and twelve churches, one hundred and ninety of them were not associated. How many stand unassociated at present, I have not learned.
Many of the churches have no pastors, but in other churches there are a number of ministers besides the pastor, so that on the whole it is probable there are as many ministers as churches.
GENERAL BAPTISTS THIS term has, from the beginning of the reformation, bee, applied to that class of Baptists in England, who have held universal redemption. The Particular Baptism are strictly Calvinistic in their creed. But those who are called General, lean to the Armenian system. The former hold that Christ died for the elect only, while the latter plead that the Savior by his death and sufferings, has made salvation possible for all. Dr. Fuller, the author of The Gospel worthy of all Acceptation, is a Particular Baptist; some of his brethren have adopted his notion of the atonement, others have opposed it, and the time has been, when he would probably have been turned over to the General side.
Respecting the General Baptists in England, I have been able to gain but a very little information. They do not appear to have taken much pains to record their own history, and as no others have paid much regard to them, but very brief sketches can be given of them.
Mr. Ivimey is of opinion that the General Baptists began to found churches in England in the sixteenth century. The church at Canterbury of this persuasion, he observes, is thought to have existed for two hundred and fifty years, and that Joan Boucher, who was burnt in the reign of Edward VI, was a member of it. This is in the county of Kent, and the church at Eyethorn, in the same county, is, according to this author, supposed to have been founded more than two hundred and thirty years.
How the General Baptists progressed for about a hundred years from the founding of their first churches, I find no particular information, only that they, with their brethren of the Particular belief, were loaded with reproaches and every where exposed to havoc and death.
In 1661, soon after the restoration of Charles II the General Baptists among other dissenters, presented an address to his majesty, and petitioned for some alleviation of their miseries. This address was presented by Thomas Grantham; it was signed by forty-one elders, deacons, and brethren, on behalf of themselves and many others in several counties of the same faith with them, and was said to be owned and approved by more than twenty thousand, whether of their communicants or of their friends and adherents does not appear. But it is evident that the General Baptists were at this time a large and respectable community, and among their ministers were some of great distinction and usefulness.
By Morgan Edwards’ list beforementioned, it appears that in 1768, when there were two hundred and seventeen of the Particular, there were but sixty-nine of the General Baptists, and thirty-three of them were in Kent and Lincolnshire, the rest were scattered in different parts of the kingdom.
I have not seen any later list of the General Baptists, and have no data by which I can form a very accurate estimate of the number of their churches, ministers, or members. But I conclude that they are much below the Particular Baptists in numbers, energy, and influence.
In 1790, they had three Associations, the Kentish, the Lincolnshire or Old-Connexion, and the Leicestershire or New-Association. And besides these I find mention made of a General Assembly; but whether this Assembly is composed of delegates from the three Associations, or is a distinct connection, I am at a loss to determine. There are, moreover, a number of churches of the General Baptists which are not in any associate connection.
The New or Leicestershire Association in 1790, contained thirty-two churches, twenty-two pastors, twenty, one unordained ministers, and two thousand eight hundred and forty-three members. The church at Loughborough in Leicestershire was the largest, and contained three hundred and eight. Its ministers were Benjamin Polland and William Parkinson. The church of London, of which Dan Taylor was pastor, consisted of two hundred and twenty-five. Allowing the other Associations to be as large as this, and that there are a considerable number of churches unassociated, the sum total of the General Baptists may amount to ten or twelve thousand. “The General Baptist churches are not all properly united in one close body any more than the Particulars.” Some believe more and some less of the leading maxims of the General creed. And this may be said of all sects and parties whatever.
The General Baptists appear to have had more learned men, and distinguished characters amongst them in former times than they have at present. Dr. William Russell, Thomas Grantham, Dr. John Gale, and other eminent men, were of this connection.
Russell and Grantham were cotemporaries and fellow-sufferers with Bunyan, Keach, Kiffin, and other distinguished ministers of the Particular Baptists. The following Memorial of MR.GRANTHAM, in Golden Capitals, is hung up in the Meeting-house belonging to the General Baptists in the Priory of the White Friars in the Parish of St. James, in the city of Norwich.
A MEMORIAL, Dedicated to the singular merits of A faithful Confessor, and laborious Servant of Christ:
Who with christian fortitude, endured persecution Through many perils, the loss of friends and substance And ten persecutions for conscience’ sake, A Man endowed with every christian grace and virtue, The Rev. Mr. THOMAS GRANTHAM, A learned Minister of the baptized Churches, And pious Founder of this Church of Believers baptized:
Who delivered to King Charles II our Declaration of Faith; And afterwards presented to him a Remonstrance against Persecution.
Both were kindly received, and redress of grievances promised.
He died 17 Jan. 1692, aged 57 years, And, to prevent the indecencies threatened to his corps, Was inferred before the west doors, In the middle Aisle of St. Stephen’s Church, in this City; Through the interest, and much to the credit of The Rev. Mr. JOHN CONNOULD, By whom, with many sighs and tears The burial service was solemnly read to a crowded audience.
When, at closing the book, he added, This day is a very great man fallen in our Israel; For after their Epistolary Dispute, in sixty letters, ended, That very learned Vicar retained The highest esteem and friendship for him whilst living, And was, at his own request, buried by him, May 1708.
That Mr. GRANTHAM was a very great man, appears In those Letters, and in numerous printed works.
Also, when engaged in public disputations, Successfully displaying the well accomplished Logician; For to such exercises of skill and literature He was often called in that disputing age.
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, yea, saith the Spirit, They rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.
WALES WE have briefly related under the preceding head the account of the ancient British Christians retiring into Wales, to avoid the persecutions of the pagan Saxons, and of their being visited by the bloody emissary of Rome, St. Austin, who requested them to receive the commandment of the pope, and baptize their children. These christian refugees are upon very good ground supposed to have been Baptists. After they, were driven into Wales they enjoyed tranquillity for a length of time, and religion flourished by their means. They formed two large societies of a somewhat peculiar nature, one at Bangor in the north, and the other at Cear-leon in the south.
According to Danvers the society or college at Bangor contained two thousand one hundred christians, who dedicated themselves to the Lord, to serve him in the ministry, as they became capable, to whom was attributed the name of the monks of Bangor. But this writer assures us they were no ways like the popish monks, for they married, followed their different callings, those who were qualified for the ministry engaged in the holy employment, while the others labored with their hands to support them, and to provide for the great spiritual family. We have seen that the Moravian Baptists lived in confraternities much like the one we are now describing, and the Baptist Missionaries at Serampore, as we shall soon show, have founded an institution of a similar nature, where from one fund, the wants of all, however differently engaged, are supplied. The Mission house at Serampore would doubtless be called a monastery, and the missionaries monks by a popish writer. But the two great societies at Bangor and Cear-leon, were broken up, and all the Baptists in Wales, who rejected St. Austin’s commission, were terribly harassed, and most of them destroyed about the year 600, by the army of Saxons, which the sanguinary saint procured to carry war and wretchedness among them.
For many centuries after this the history of Wales is covered with great obscurity. Our English and Welsh brethren seem inclined to think that Baptist principles lived in this country through all the dark ages of popery, although they do not pretend that those who maintained them remained in a congregated state. The supposition is not altogether improbable, but until some clearer historical evidence can be adduced, it must rest as a matter of opinion. We know that Wales, for a long time, has been a nursery of Baptists. Multitudes have emigrated to this country from that principality, and many of the American churches were founded either wholly or in part by these emigrants. Wales has also supplied the American churches with many useful ministers, many of whom are gone to receive their reward, but some of them are yet actively engaged in this western department of the Lord’s vineyard. Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, Morgan Edwards, Dr. Samuel Jones of Lower-Dublin, (Penn.) Mr. David Philips, of Washington county in the same State, Mr. Lewis Richards of Baltimore, and Mr. John Williams of New York, were all born in Wales. The names of many other ministers of Welsh extraction will occur ill the course of this work.
The first Baptist church in Wales, of which we can give any clear account, was founded at Swansea in that country in 1649. The principal man among them was John Miles, who afterwards came to America and founded the church at Swansea, in Massachusetts. The Swansea church in Wales had increased to about three hundred members by the year 1662. Other churches arose in this country soon after the one was founded at Swansea, and in the time of the Commonwealth, they maintained an Association, and published a Confession of Faith, which was publicly opposed by George Fox, the Quaker. But on the restoration of Charles II their Association was broken up, and they with all other non-conformists were made to feel the rod of a persecuting church. When the General Assembly of Baptists met in London, in 1689, it appears there were delegates from only seven churches in Wales. It is probable, however, that there were more churches in the principality at that time, which could not conveniently send delegates so far, or who might not have been convinced of the expediency of the measure.
In Morgan Edwards’ list for 1768, the number of Baptist churches in Wales was twenty-three, only one of which was of the General persuasion. In all these churches were about twenty ministers, and two thousand one hundred and ten communicants.
In Rippon’s list for 1790, the number of churches had increased to fortyeight, and the number of ministers was much greater. In 1798, the number of churches amounted to eighty-four, in which were ninety-one ministers, who had a pastoral charge, forty-seven who were not ordained, and not less than nine thousand members.
If the Baptists in Wales have increased as fast since the last mentioned date, as they did for a number of years preceding it, there must now be considerably more than a hundred churches, twelve or fourteen thousand members, and not far from two hundred ministers, including such as are not ordained.
There are three Associations in Wales, which are called the East, West, and North.
In Rippon’s latest list of the Welsh churches, he has specified the year in which each one was constituted. The one at Olchon is dated in 1633, sixteen years before the one at Swansea.
IRELAND THIS catholic kingdom has never contained many Baptists, but yet there appears to have been a few respectable churches in it for more than a hundred and sixty years. At what period Baptist churches began to be founded in Ireland, I cannot learn, but it was probably not far from the year 1650. Ivimey has given an account of a correspondence, which was maintained between the Baptists in Ireland, and England, a little after this period. By a letter from Ireland, in 1653, it appears there were ten Baptist churches in the following places, viz. Dublin, Waterford, Clonmell, Kilkenny, Cork, Limerick, Galloway, Wexford, Kerry, and near Carrick Fergus. Three years after, another letter was sent, signed by Patient, Blackwood, Roberts, Lawern, Seward, Jones, Cudmore, Hopkins, and Thomas, all of whom, I conclude, were ministers. The Baptists appear to have flourished in Ireland during the existence of the Commonwealth; but on the restoration of the persecuting and inglorious Charles II, they doubtless met with trouble, and it is supposed that those ministers, who had gone over from England to that kingdom, were then obliged to return home.
Among the papers left by Mr. John Comer, and preserved by Mr. Backus, I find a letter written from Dublin in 1731, by a Baptist minister, whose name was Abdiel Edwards. By this letter it appears there were then eight or ten churches in Ireland, of the Particular Baptists, besides one of Armenian principles, and another which held to open communion. Mr. Edwards informs his correspondent that the church in Swift’s Alley, Dublin, of which he was pastor, consisted of about two hundred members, that it was, for ought he could learn, the oldest in the kingdom, and was formed, as he supposed, about eighty years before, that is, about 1650. He also mentions that the whole number of Baptist communicants then in Ireland, did not exceed four hundred. The number of both churches and members has been less since that time, but of late years they begin to increase.
Ireland has produced some famous statesmen and literary characters, and it also gave birth to that famous Baptist, that champion of non-conformity, Thomas Delaune, whose immortal plea for the non-conformists was republished a few years since, by Elias Lee, pastor of the Baptist church at the Ballston Springs, in the state of New York.
SCOTLAND “IT was supposed till very lately, that there never had existed in Scotland a religions society of the Baptist denomination, before the year 1765; but it now appears that this was a mistake, and that such a society did really exist there as far back as about the middle of the seventeenth century, and which used to meet at Leith and Edinburgh. What led to this discovery was a book which lately fell into the hands of a certain person at Edinburgh, entitled, “A confession of the several congregations or churches of Christ in London, which are commonly (though unjustly) called Anabaptists; published for the vindication of the truth, etc. Unto which is added, Heart-bleedings for professors’ abominations, or a faithful general epistle, (from the same churches) presented to all who have known the way of truth, etc. The fourth impression corrected. Printed at Leith, 1653.” To this edition a preface is prefixed by some Baptists at Leith and Edinburgh, which, however, contains nothing of the history of the church, only that they were of the same faith and order with the churches in London. It is dated, “Leith, the tenth of the first month, vulgarly called March, 1652-3,” and “signed in the name, and by the appointment of the church of Christ, usually meeting at Leith and Edinburgh, by Thomas Spencer, Abraham Holmes, Thomas Powell, John Brady.” “It is more than probable that this church was composed of English Baptists, who had gone into that country, during the civil wars. In that case it may be supposed that they were chiefly soldiers, as we know of no other description of men so likely to have emigrated from England to Scotland; and it is well known that there were many Baptists in the army which Cromwell led into that country, a good part of which was left behind for the purpose of garrisoning Edinburgh, Leith and other places. “This church, it is supposed, continued in existence down to the era of the restoration, when, in all probability, it was dissolved and dispersed, owing either to the garrisons of Leith and Edinburgh, being then withdrawn and replaced by other troops, or else to the violence of the persecution, which so notoriously distinguished the execrable reign of the second Charles. Be that as it may, there do not appear, as far as is now known, the slightest traces of so much as one single Baptist church in North-Britain, for more than a hundred years from that period. It was not till the year 1765, that the Baptist profession began again to make a public appearance in that country; its first rise, however, may be traced a little further back.” 16 In 1763, Robert Carmichael and Archibald M’Lean, conversing together upon the subject of infant baptism, were at a loss to find any proper ground for it in the word of God; but being unwilling to relinquish it hastily, it was agreed that each of them should carefully consult the scriptures upon that subject, and communicate their thoughts upon it to each other. Carmichael had been for several years pastor of an Antiburgher congregation, the strictest class of seceders, but had now joined the Glassites. M’Lean was a printer at Glasgow. The result of these examinations was, that both of these men were led to renounce infant baptism. Carmichael was now at Edinburgh. He had been pastor of an Independent society in that city; but for certain reasons, he and seven others had separated from that society, before he became a Baptist. Soon after this separation he became fully convinced of the scripture doctrine of baptism, and preached it publicly. Five of the seven who adhered to him declared themselves of the same mind, among whom was Mr. Robert Walker, surgeon. To obtain baptism in a regular way, it was judged proper that Mr. Carmichael should first go to London and be baptized himself. He accordingly went and was baptized by Doctor Gill, at Barbican, October 9, 1765, and, returning to Edinburgh, administered that ordinance to the five above mentioned, and other two, in November following. Archibald M’Lean, then residing at Glasgow, was not baptized for some weeks after; and while at Edinburgh upon that occasion he was much solicited to write an answer to Mr. Glass’s Dissertation on Infant Baptism, which he did in the spring following, but it was not published till the end of that year. A publication of this nature being a novelty in Scotland, awakened the attention of many in different places to the subject. In December, 1767, Archibald M’Lean removed to Edinburgh, the church then consisting of about nine members; and in June, 1768, he was chosen colleague to Mr. Carmichael. Soon after this the church increased considerably.
This was the beginning of the present Baptist churches in Scotland. In 1769, Mr. Carmichael removed from Edinburgh, and settled at Dundee, where a church was organized immediately, and he and Thomas Boswel became its elders. About the same time Dr. Walker was chosen joint-elder with Archibald M’Lean of the church at Edinburgh. The same year (1769) several persons came from Glasgow, and were baptized. Afterwards, when their number increased, they were set in order, and Neil Stuart was appointed their elder. In 1770, a small society arose at Montrose, and John Greig, David Mill, and Thomas Wren, officiated as its elders. From this period Baptist sentiments spread around in many different places, and a number of small societies were formed. Some acquired a permanent standing, while others were broken up in a short time by disputes among themselves about the order of the house, etc. I am inclined to think there were not more than ten or twelve Baptist churches in Scotland, in 1800.
But since that time they have in. creased greatly. Many Pedobaptist ministers have espoused the Baptist cause, and the doctrine of believer’s baptism has had an extensive prevalence within a few years past in the Scottish realm. The converts seem to have come more from the Independent connection, than the fast-bound Kirk. Among the distinguished characters, in Scotland, who have embraced the principles of the Baptists, we may reckon Robert Haldane, Esq. and Rev. James A.
Haldane his brother. The former of these is a gentleman of fortune, and has, for many years, devoted his revenues to the promotion of the cause of truth. By his means many pious young men have been educated and sent forth into the ministry in different directions; and a considerable number of them, have with their patron been buried in baptism, and espoused the principles of the despised Baptists.
I very much regret that I am not able to give a more particular account of the late progress of the Baptist sentiments, and of the present number of the denomination in Scotland.
Mr. Maclay of New York informs me, that before he left Scotland, he foresaw what has since come to pass, and gave his Independent brethren to understand that he expected many of them would become Baptists.
And so it has happened that many of their ministers, multitudes of their members, and in not a few instances almost whole churches have embraced the Baptist principles. The Independents and Baptists are very nearly related. Their notions of church government are alike, in doctrine they generally agree, and it is only for an Independent to go into the water, and he is a Baptist at once. The Independent churches have always been Baptist nurseries. The Independents are upon the brink of gospel order, and when they are immersed in Jordan they are completely in it.
The present number of Baptists in Scotland I am not able to state; but from all accounts it must amount to many thousands. Should any further accounts come to hand in season, they shall be inserted in the Appendix.
INDIA MISSION THIS mission originated in England, and is supported and directed by a society, which was formed about twenty years ago, by the Baptists in that kingdom.
An interesting account of this important establishment was not long since published in a small volume by Dr. Staughton of Philadelphia, under the title of THE BAPTIST MISSION IN INDIA, containing a narrative of its rise, progress, and present condition. Very interesting communications from the Missionaries in India, are also frequently inserted in the Baptist Magazine, edited by Dr. Baldwin of Boston. But for the benefit of those of our brethren, who have not had access to these sources of information, I shall here give a brief account of this noble institution.
As early as 1784, it was resolved by an Association held at Nottingham, in England, to set apart an hour the first Monday evening in every month, for extraordinary prayer for the revival of religion, and for the extending of Christ’s kingdom in the world. This was three years before Mr. Carey was ordained. This distinguished man from his first entering on the work of the ministry, directed all his thoughts, plans, and studies towards enterprises of a missionary kind. In 1790, he visited Birmingham and became acquainted with the late Samuel Pearce, whose kindred soul entered with ardor into all his views. Others at the same time were animated with a missionary zeal, and in 1792 the society was formed at Kettering, which has since, by its wonderful acts, astonished the christian world, and made the word of God accessible to millions in India’s benighted realm. Its funds at first were only 13l . 2s . 6d .
About this time, Mr. John Thomas returned from India to England. He went out as a surgeon of an East-Indiaman in 1783. Before he left England he had embraced the gospel under Dr. Stennet; while he was in Bengal, he felt a desire to communicate it to the natives, and being encouraged to do so by a religious friend, he obtained his discharge from the ship, and after learning the language, continued from the year 1787 to 1791 preaching Christ in different parts of the country. But it does not appear that the Baptists in England were at the time acquainted with Mr. Thomas’ proceedings. But now they were happy to find that while they had been praying at home for the spread of the gospel among the heathen, one of their brethren had been making the attempt among the wretched Hindoos, and that some success had attended his exertions.
From information received from Mr. Thomas, the committee of this infant society, which at first consisted of John Ryland, Reynold Hogg, William Carey, John Sutcliff, and Andrew Fuller, were fully of opinion that a door was now open for a mission in the East-Indies. They accordingly resolved to invite Mr. Thomas to go out as one of their missionaries. Mr. Carey, whom God, in his wise providence, had fitted for the important part he has since acted, and had brought him into his vineyard at this eventful juncture, was asked if he were willing to accompany Mr. Thomas; to which he readily answered in the affirmative. Thus two missionaries stood ready to depart for the dark and distant coast. “The next step was to calculate the expense of sending them out, and to obtain the means of defraying it. The expense was estimated at 500l . which sum required to be raised in about three or four months. To accomplish this the committee frankly stated to the religious public their plan requesting that so far as it appeared to be deserving of encouragement, they would encourage it.
Letters were also addressed to the most active ministers of the denomination throughout the kingdom, requesting their concurrence and assistance. The result was, that more than twice the sum which had been asked for was collected; yet, when the work was finished, the actual expense had so far exceeded the estimate, that there were only a few pounds to spare. One principal cause of this was the circumstance of Mr. Carey’s whole family, with Mr. Carey’s sister, being induced to accompany him.”
In June, 1793, on board the princess Maria, a Danish Indiaman. these missionaries set sail for India, and after the usual passage safely arrived at the place of their destination. During the first years of their residence in this heathen land, they experienced a mixture of trials and encouragements, but on the whole they found sufficient motives for perseverance in the arduous Work which they had undertaken.
In the spring of 1796, Mr. John Fountain offering himself as a missionary was accepted and sent out to join the brethren in India.
As repeated requests had been made for more missionaries, and particularly for one, who should understand the printing business, the committee paid every possible attention to this object. In the spring of 1799, they were enabled to send out four men and four women; namely, Mr. and Mrs. Marshman, Mr. and Mrs. Grant, Mr. and Mrs. Brunsdon, Mr. William Ward and Miss Tidd. Mr. Ward understood the printing business, and Mr. and Mrs. Marshman had kept a school.
In 1802 Mr. Chamberlain and wife departed for India under the patronage of the society.
In 1804 four more young men with their wives, who had previously been set apart for the work of the ministry, viz. John Biss, Richard Mardon, William Moore, and Joshua Rowe, set sail for India by way of America.
After a tedious and perilous voyage, during which they received much kindness from friends, both in America and at Madrass, they all arrived safe at the place of their destination.
The next missionaries were Messrs. Chater and Robinson. These men met with difficulty from government; they were commanded to return to Europe, and Capt. Wickes was refused, at the same time, a clearance, unless he took them back, but after considerable parley, the Captain was furnished with his passports, and a way was devised by the other missionaries to retain Messrs. Chater and Robinson in the country.
In 1812, Messrs. Johns and Lawson with their wives, who had been some time in America, set sail for India. They were accompanied by four Pedobaptist missionaries, viz. Messrs. May, Nott, Hall and Rice. Messes.
Judson and Newell of the same denomination had sailed before them. They all landed safely in India, but some of them met with troubles on account of the vexatious policy of the East-India Company. Of these Pedobaptists Mr. Judson and wife, and Mr. Rice embraced the Baptist sentiments, and were baptized not long after they landed in India. These worthy young men have turned their attention to their Baptist brethren in America for assistance, and they are making exertions to afford it.
I am not sure but other missionaries besides those we have named, have been sent to India by the society in England. But these are all of which I have gained any information. Some of them have died. Those who remain are now actively engaged in the great business for which they submitted to a voluntary exile to a heathen and unhealthy land.
A considerable number of those who have been brought to the knowledge of the truth by means of these missionaries, have become preachers of the gospel. Some of these also have died. In 1811, Dr. Carey wrote to Dr.
Rogers of Philadelphia as follows: “The Lord has been very gracious in raising up laborers in this work. There are about ten persons, formerly idolaters or mussulmans, who now preach the gospel of our Redeemer, and seven others, native Portuguese or Armenians, who are either called to the work of the ministry, or are now on trial for it. Two of our native brethren, Hindoos, are employed in Calcutta and its precincts, where they preach at twelve or fourteen different places every week, and have been the instruments of the conversion of many. Indeed, I think they are the most useful persons now employed in the work of God at Calcutta, or in India.”
We shall now give a brief account of the great things our brethren in India have been enabled to perform.
The missionaries on their first arrival in this country resided at different places, but in 1800, they settled at Scrampore, and this place became henceforward the head quarters of all who were concerned in the mission.
The first object of attention was to settle a plan of family government. All the missionaries were to preach and pray in turn; one to superintend the affairs of the family a month, and then another; Mr. Carey was appointed treasurer, and keeper of the medicine chest; Mr. Fountain, librarian; Saturday evening was devoted to adjusting any differences which might arise during the week, and pledging themselves to love one another; finally, it was resolved, that no one should engage in any private trade; but whatever was done by any member of the family, should be done for the benefit of the mission.
The rent of lodgings which they at present occupied was very high. They therefore purchased a house, by the river side, with a pretty large piece of ground. It had various accommodations, but the price alarmed them; yet the rent in four years would have amounted to the purchase.
In 1801 the missionaries purchased the house and premises adjoining their own. The garden and out-buildings contained more than four acres of land.
By this addition they had room not only for the schools, and for the printing and binding business, but also for any new missionaries that might arrive. They made themselves trustees for the society, as they had done in the first purchase.
The missionaries have also purchased a large real estate at Calcutta.
Whatever property they obtain, belongs to the mission family, and is held in trust by them for the society in England. These are some of the temporal advantages of the missionaries, but those of a spiritual kind are far greater. They found it a laborious task to learn the languages of the country. They first, it appears, made themselves masters of the Bengalee.
About the time the mission-house was established at Serampore, Dr.
Carey had nearly finished the translation of the Old and New Testament into that language, and preparations for printing having previously been made, in May, 1800, the first sheet of the Bengalee New Testament was struck off. From that period the missionaries have gone on with great assiduity and success, in learning other languages and presenting the precious word of life to the idolatrous natives of the East in their own tongues.
From a statement furnished by Mr. Johns while in America, it appears that translations were making in 1811, in twelve languages, viz. 1st. The Bengalee. 2d. The Orissa. 3d. The Telinga. 4th. The Guzerattee. 5th. The Kurnata. 6th. The Mahratta. 7th. The Hindoosthanee. 8th. The Seek. 9th. The Sungskrit. 10th. The Burman. 11th. The Chinese. 12th. The Thibet or Bootan.
Besides the printing of the Malayala and the Tamul. “The present state of the translations,” says Mr. Johns, “is highly encouraging, and marks the zeal and perseverance of the persons engaged in the work. The Bengalee Bible, in 5 vols. 8vo. has been completed for some time, and has reached even to a third edition.
This work was the result of” sixteen years labor.” The New Testament and Pentateuch are printed in Sungskrit; the New Testament and the Old Testament, from Job to Malachi in the Orissa. The New Testament in the Mahratta and in the Hindoosthanee, is printed. In the Chinese, the Gospels’ by Matthew and Mark are printed off, and the New Testament will shortly be published: — In 1809, the translation had proceeded to the end of Ephesians. The printing in the Burman, and also in the Seek, is begun. The Telinga and Kurnata, may be commenced this present year, (1811;) the Kurnata and Guzerattee have been hitherto delayed by circumstances, chiefly of a pecuniary nature.
The translations of all are much further advanced than the printing; and the missionaries express a hope, that ere long, All the nations of the East will hear in their own tongues the wonderful works of God. Besides the above, the Serampore missionaries are printing the Malayala, translated from the celebrated Syriac version, under the direction of Mar Dionysius, bishop of the Syrian Christians; and also the Tamul, translated by a valuable deceased missionary from the London Society.”
The Sungskrit, or Sangskrit, as it is sometimes written, is read all over India; it is the learned language of the country. The Bengalee is spoken by a population equal to that of the United States of America; the Hindoosthanee, to France and Italy; the Chinese by three hundred millions; the Burman by seventeen millions; and the other languages by many millions each. The missionaries are yearly studying new languages and making preparations to make the Oracles of Truth legible to the remaining idolatrous millions of the East.
The missionaries have hitherto devoted most of their attention to the translating of the Scriptures into the numerous languages of India, but they have at the same time labored much among the natives, and a considerable number of them have been hopefully born into the kingdom of God. A number professed a serious regard for the gospel from the first preaching of the missionaries in India, but it was not until the year 1800, that any one of the natives came out and made a public profession of it. In December of that year Kristno was baptized, the first native, who had ever in Bengal publicly renounced cast, and owned Jesus Christ. This was an important event. The chain of the East was now broken, and the missionaries saw what they had been waiting and hoping for many years, and concerning which they had met with so many disappointments. From this period a few were from time to time brought to make a public profession of christianity, and by the close of the year 1808, about a hundred and fifty had been baptized in different parts of India. About thirty of these were Europeans, who had settled in the country, the rest were natives. Of the natives about ten were Bramins, a few were mussulmans, and the remainder were Hindoos of different descriptions. It is now about five years since this statement was made, which is found in Staughton’s India Mission, and it is probable that a much greater number has been converted in this time, than had been before.
From a letter from Dr. Carey we learn that last year there were, in different parts of India, twelve missionary stations, viz. at Agra, Digga, Patna, Goamalti, Dinagepore and Sadamahl, Cutwa, Changach’ha in Jessore, Serampore, Calcutta, Balasore in Oorissa, Rangoon, and at Columba in Ceylon. And at that time Mr. Robinson was waiting for a conveyance to Java and Mr. Carapeit Aratoon to Bombay, where they hope to found stations. Besides preaching at the stations, the missionaries and many of the native christians spend much time in travelling in different parts of the country, to preach the gospel, to distribute the Scriptures and religious tracts, and to converse upon the great things of the kingdom with all who will hear him. These itinerant excursions are often the most profitable parts of their labors.
The plan of the Serampore mission is thus stated by Mr. Judson in a letter to Dr. Baldwin, 1812. “All the pecuniary avails of the brethren, as well as monies received from the society in England, belong to the common treasury, Dr. Carey’s salary, in the college, of 12,000 rupees per annum; Dr. Marshman’s income from the school, and Mr. Ward’s avails of the printing-press, are as much devoted to the common cause, as receipts from England. Out of the public treasury, each man, woman, and child, belonging to the mission, receives a monthly allowance for clothes, etc. which varies according to age and circumstances from 20 to 40 rupees. The whole family, as well as the boarders, eat at a common table. The table expenses, as well as all the expenses of the mission, arising from building, repairs, servants, pundits, native preachers, etc. are defrayed by appropriations from the public fund. The fired for translating and printing is preserved distinct, in order to secure the subscriptions of some who might be unwilling to contribute to the common object. A missionary in an out-station receives an allowance proportioned to the expense of his situation. Should he be able to lessen this by a school, or by any other means, he is obliged to do so; and should his avails exceed his expenditure, the surplus reverts to the public treasury. Still farther, all the lands and buildings, belonging to the mission at Serampore and elsewhere, are deeded to the society in England. Thus, Sir, you see, that the whole system in all its parts is disinterested. No missionary has any private property. All opportunities, and therefore all temptations to lay up money are effectually precluded. The society at home have the utmost security for the honest application of the money which they remit; and should any wish to satisfy themselves on this point, the cash accounts of the mission are always open to examination.”
Mr. Judson states in the same letter that the expenses of supporting a missionary in India, are much greater than people here would generally expect. Mr. Robinson and wife, who were then bound to Java, were allowed an hundred and forty rupees, that is, seventy dollars a month, or eight hundred and forty dollars a year. Mr. Chater and wife and two children in the island of Ceylon were allowed eighty dollars a month, or nine hundred and sixty-dollars a year.
Great charges have attended the prosecution of this mission, the sum total of which I am not able to state. The fund for translating and printing the Scriptures we see is preserved distinct. The giving of the word of life to the heathen in their own languages, is a cause in which party feelings can have no influence; all denominations may, therefore, heartily engage in it, and many benevolent christians have cordially lent their aid. Many wealthy individuals resident in India have contributed towards carrying forward this noble undertaking. A late Mr. Grant in that country a few months previous to his decease bequeathed five thousand dollars for the translations.
The friends of the Holy Scriptures in Scotland, of all denominations, have repeatedly and liberally contributed towards this object.
The British and Foreign Bible Society, that grand and peculiar institution of modern times, had, previous to 1811, voted annually for three preceding years, nearly five thousand dollars. The New York Bible Society have also aided this design. In the years 1806 and 1807, the religious friends in America of different persuasions furnished our brethren in India with about six thousand dollars. From 1801 to 1809, the money received from various sources for the translations expressly, amounted to thirty-nine thousand, five hundred and eighty four dollars and seventeen cents. Great sums have been forwarded since, the amount of which I have not been able too learn. But Mr. Johns, previous to his leaving America, collected nearly five thousand dollars, mostly in Boston and Salem. Among the donors in Boston, the Honorable William Phillips gave the liberal sum of one thousand dollars.
The manner in which the Scriptures have been received by the natives will afford satisfaction to the contributors, as it has served to encourage the hearts of the unwearied laborers. Often is the poor Hindoo seated under the shade of the trees, reading “this wonderful book.” They come to Serampore from a great distance to inquire about the new Shaster. This Shaster, say they, will be received by all India, and the Hindoos will become one cast. What heart can remain unaffected at the news of these wonderful eyelets.
The expenses of supporting the missionaries exclusive of the translations, have been great; but they have been able to do much for themselves, and what has been wanting has been communicated by the society under whose patronage they labor. The brethren in England know how to solicit, and what is still better, the religious public know how to give.
In the beginning of 1812, the missionaries experienced a very heavy affliction by the loss of their printing office, and most of its valuable contents. This building, which was two hundred feet in length, was totally consumed by fire, together with large quantities of books, manuscripts, types, and other printing apparatus. The loss was estimated at thirty thousand dollars to the mission, and five thousand to the Bible Society. “This,” says Dr. Carey, “was a heavy blow, not only on account of the pecuniary loss, but as it totally stopped our printing the scriptures in the Oriental languages. The manuscripts consumed will not be all replaced in a long time to come, however hard we labor at them. We however immediately began to recast the types, and to labor to begin printing again as soon as possible. May the Lord stand by us, and enable us to hold on in this great work till it be accomplished, etc.”
From these accounts we see that the Baptist missionaries in India have met with great encouragement and success; but they have all along met with many troubles and embarrassments, both from the natives, and many of the unbelieving Europeans who are settled in the country. From the superstitious Indians they had reason to expect opposition, but from their own countrymen they rather hoped for friendship and encouragement. But contrary to this, many have ridiculed their attempts, defamed their characters, and labored hard to defeat their benevolent designs. But their most serious troubles have arisen from the embarrassing policy of the English East-India Company. This company has advanced from a society of merchants to the sovereignty of the country, and its revenues are superior to that of many crowned heads. 19 It is a notorious and lamentable fact, however differently it may be explained, that this Company has opposed the introduction of christianity in India. Of this the missionaries have often complained.
In 1806, Mr. Ward thus wrote to a friend in Philadelphia: “You know the English Company don’t like the Hindoos to be converted; and it is a part of their charter, that they will not do any thing to change their religion. They also allow none, (except by sufferance) but their own servants to settle in the country. We have been also lately prohibited by the governor from interfering with the prejudices of the natives, either by preaching, distributing tracts, sending out native itinerants, etc. In short, the governor said, as he did not attempt to disturb the prejudices of the natives, he hoped we should not. Thus if we were to obey this request, in its literal meaning, we must give up our work altogether, and instead of wanting fresh missionaries, we might reship those we already have. But it is impossible to do this. We avoid provoking the government, but we dare not give up our work at the command of man. We have written home on the subject, and sought relief from these painful restrictions; but what will be the result we know not.”
By the authority of this company missionaries have been ordered back; but we believe that God has ordered them there, and will open ways for their stay and success. Serampore, where the mission house is established, is under the Danish government, which has always protected the missionaries, and shown a friendly disposition towards their design. It was with a view to these advantages that our brethren fixed on this place for the residence of the mission family.
This company has found means to collect a revenue from the detestable superstitions of the Hindoos, and like Demetrius of Ephesus, they fear their craft will be in danger by the reforming influence of gospel light. The benighted Indians are obliged to pay a tax for the privilege of worshipping the obscene and bloody Juggernaut, the Moloch of the East. Dr. Buchanan, after witnessing the horrid scenes exhibited at the worship of this cruel deity, observes, “How much I wished that the proprietors of India Stock could have attended the wheels of Juggernaut, and seen this peculiar source of their revenue.” In reviewing the progress of the Baptist mission in India, may we not exclaim with gratitude, What hath God wrought! Here we see that a small company of men, aided only by the voluntary contributions of religious friends, beset with hosts of adversaries, thwarted often by the unfriendly policy of government, opposed by idolatrous superstitions of immemorial antiquity, have planted the gospel in many parts of India’s benighted realm, have presented multitudes, and are ready soon to present multitudes more with the everlasting word of God. May this effulgent lamp of truth dispel the mists of Bramin darkness. May this sharp two- edged sword demolish the Moloch of the East, and lead to the worship of the true God the millions of that land of ignorance and error.