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A History of the Baptists
By Thomas Armitage
Review by Heman Lincoln, 1887
.... It would be easy to criticize the work, for it is impossible for any genius, however gifted, to gather in six years the important facts of eighteen centuries and transmute them into concrete life in our time. We have read several sharp and disparaging criticisms from editorial pens. It would be easy to point out deficiencies in citations from original authorities; faults in applying the law of proportion, as in the great space given to the apostolic period, and in the bare allusion to important societies and great leaders in our own country; and careless blindness in proof-reading. But it is pleasanter to dwell on the great merits of the work, and on some of the important features which give it special value.
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.... It is a uniform law in religious history that Baptists will appear in any period when the Bible is diligently studied, and a singleness of purpose rules men to know the mind and obey the will of God. This spirit is manifest in the outbreaks of religious fervor through what may be called the Waldensian period, over a wide range of country embracing especially Southern France and Northern Italy. The people were inspired with a genuine enthusiasm for the study of the Bible, and read it with great eagerness both in private and public. It was translated into the native tongues, and earnest appeals were made to Innocent III., one of the greatest and best of the popes, to sanction the translations and the Bible study. His religious nature and his broad wisdom inclined him to grant the request. But when he learned that the families acquainted with the Bible lost respect for an ignorant and vicious priesthood, he withheld his approval, and attempted by a vigorous persecution to arrest the movement and destroy the Bibles. Recent investigations have thrown great light on the spirit and method of these humble Christians in their search for truth, and Dr. Armitage has availed himself of the latest researches. It forms one of the most interesting chapters in the history of the Church, and Baptist principles are directly involved in the long struggle....
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.... recent investigators ... especially [Christoph] Keller, have found that the Baptist element was one of the dominant forces in the great movement disturbing central and western Europe from the time of Peter of Lyons to the time of Luther and Calvin and Zwingli. They confess that the history of the Reformation can never be fully understood or recorded till the work performed by the principles and labors of these humble workers is fully recognized. Keller quotes from a writer of that time: "The Anabaptist movement was so rapid that the presence of Baptist views was presently discoverable in all parts of the land."
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[From The Baptist Quarterly Review, 1887. This is a portion of an 8-page review. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]



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