History of the Baptist Churches in the North of England,From 1648 to 1845
By David Douglas
State of Dissent, &c. The Baptists - Their recent and ancient character- At the Reformation - Muncer and the German peasants - The sack of Munster - The Baptists execrated - Menno Simon Models the Baptists - Continental and English Baptists - Baptists descended from The Hussites Wickliffites and Lollards - The Albigenses - Beghards - Cathari - Petro-brussians - Henricians - Leonists - Waldenses - Paulicians - Novationists - Donatists - Montanists - Apostolic Succession - Puseyism - Political state of England before our history begins - The Tudors - Stuarts - Charles I. - Religious state - Phases of Reformation - Henry, Edward, Elizabeth - Puritans Presbyterians - Independents - Baptists - History - Sentiments.
DISSENT and Methodism in the British empire, in our own time, have assumed an appearance so distinct and imposing, that their operations, sentiments, and history, have become themes of the deepest interest to the philosopher, the historian, the politician, and the political economist. The section of dissent, to which our narrative has reference, though small in comparison with some others, yet, in consequence of the pre-eminent talents of some of its ministers, the success which has attended its missionaries, both in the East and West Indies, especially in the translation of the Scriptures, their labours for Negro emancipation, and the numbers of their converts, has been rendered of no small importance among other sections of the Christian church, in Britain, in modern times.
As a denomination, perhaps, in one sense, it may be said not to be an old one; and in another, it may be regarded as one of the most ancient bearing the Christian name. It was in 1689, the year after the Revolution, that the first General Assembly of the Baptist body was held. Previously, that body existed as churches only; but owing to the severe Parliamentary penal statutes, relative to Nonconformity, they were prevented from enjoying the general union they desired. But though their churches existed, the historical existence of these churches does not carry us much beyond the beginning of the seventeenth century: as the commencement of the church of Eyethorn, Kent, the oldest known, is
limited to 1604. Foreign communities of this party, are indeed, represented as existing in London, sometime previous to this; but these communities would have little stability, as regards either the places where they met, or the individuals of whom they were composed.
On the Continent, soon after the Reformation, the Baptists became a very respectable body, under the guidance of Menno Simon. Previously, however, they were in bad odour, both on the Continent and in England. Two circumstances conduced to this: First, The heading of the German Boors, or peasants, by Muneer, a Baptist. These peasants engaged in a civil war with their princes, for a redress of grievances. This was not a Baptist war; all parties were connected with it, Catholics and Protestants alike; but a Baptist was the leader, and this has identified it with the Baptists. Muncer was, however, a good, an able, and respectable man, and a reformer, beloved by his master Luther, who usually called him his Absalom, and beloved equally by the mass of the German population, owing to his carrying out the rights of conscience and civil liberty to a much greater extent than the reformers in general. In an evil hour, however, for himself as a religious man, and his party in general as a religious body, he undertook to conduct the popular movement. That movement failed. He himself perished, and Anabaptism bore the blame of having excited a civil war.*
The affair of taking and sacking the city of Munster, in Westphalia, was another circumstance which tended at this time greatly to injure the Baptists. Contention had begun in this city in 1532, between the Catholics and the Protestants. In this state of confusion, a number of wild and infatuated individuals seized on it. These professed to be Baptists, and held the sentiments of those who were termed Fifth Monarchists. Under the influence of
* On this movement we have the following remarks: - "These unhappy peasants were in a state of villeinage. The grievances from which they prayed for deliverance were many and great. Amongst the most conspicuous of their demands were emancipation from personal bondage, the right of electing their religious teachers that of killing untamed animals without the restraint of game laws, and a participation with the clergy in tithes limited to corn. These demands were in themselves not unreasonable, though urged by armed revolters. Their lords subdued the rebellion but disregarded the grievances, while they drowned the revolt in a deluge of blood. It sometimes happens that the very grievousness of the evils unfits the sufferers for the perilous remedies which are alone efficacious." - SIR J. MACINTOSH'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND, Vol. ii. pp. 147 & 148.
these ideas, it is said by Mosheim, that on their seizure of the city, "They gave out that they were messengers from heaven, with a Divine commission, to lay the foundations of a new government, a holy and spiritual empire and to destroy and overturn all temporal rule and authority, all human and political institutions." Then they erected a new kingdom, which they called the New Jerusalem, and one John Blockhold, or John of Leyden, was declared king and legislator. It is also said "That he ran through the streets in a state of nudity, and married eleven wives." This state of things remained for three years. How they conducted themselves during these years, we are not told particularly; but in 1536, the bishop and sovereign of the city, Count Waldeck, assisted by the other princes of Germany, attacked them, retook the city, and put the leaders to an ignominious death.
Immediately on the issue of these events, execrations, everywhere, by every party, were poured on the devoted heads of the Anabaptists. The violence of Luther and other reformers against their views of believers' baptism, against their condemnation of infant sprinkling, their opposition to the interference of the magistracy in religious matters, their more correct views of the spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, together with their more liberal ideas on civil and religious liberty led these good men unfairly to seize on an event perpetrated by a few extreme enthusiasts, and through them to accuse the whole Baptist body. This body, as Mosheim declares, was composed of a number of separate sects or parties, " For," says he, "it must be carefully observed, that though all these projectors of a new and perfect church, were comprehended under the general denomination of Anabaptists, on account of their opposing the baptism of infants, and their rebaptizing all such as had received the sacrament in a state of childhood in other churches, yet they were from their origin subdivided into various sects, which differed from each other in points of no small moment." He then affirms that, "the most pernicious of these sects, was that in which the founders pretended to be under the direction of a Divine impulse, and were armed against all opposition by, as they affirmed, the power of working miracles." It is a circumstance also well known, that among the sober Presbyterians and Episcopalians of our own day, enthusiasts of this kind have arisen, pretending to the possession of great powers.* Can it be surprising then, that at such a period as the Reformation, when men were merely emerging as it were
* The Rev. Edward Irving, and Thorn of Canterbury, are cases in point.
from an old to a new world, an extreme party, of a generally respectable denomination, should be guilty of some extravagances? The sentiment among the Baptists, however, at this time, which gave most umbrage, especially to the civil governments of the different countries where they were located, was the Millenarian. They almost all held the personal reign of Christ upon earth at the Millenial period, and this was called the Fifth Monarchy, arising from the view of the kingdom of Christ, presented in the following portions of Scripture, Daniel iv. and vii.; Revelation xx. There was, indeed, on this head, a difference among them. One party held that all this subjugation of the world, was spiritual in its character, and would he accomplished by the Prince of Peace, in a peaceable manner: the other entertained the notion that it would be accomplished by physical force; and these latter, guided by wild and fanatical leaders, as we have seen, were led at different times, most foolishly, indeed, and wickedly, to give battle to the civil powers. But this was not confined to Baptists. Some that contended strenuously for infant baptism, held the same views, and acted in a similar manner.
The Baptists, evidently, at this time, needed a wise and powerful mind to guide them, and God raised them up one in the person of Menno Simon. Originally bred a Roman Catholic priest, and of gay licentious habits, he seems to have been brought under the influence of true piety previously to 1536, and had held private communications with the Baptists of Friesland, in Holland, of which place he was a native. With them he openly united himself during the above year, and he is thus described by Mosheim: "He had the invaluable advantage of a natural and persuasive eloquence, and his learning was sufficient to make him pass for an oracle in the eyes of the multitude. He appears also to have been a man of probity, of a meek and tractable spirit, gentle in his manners, pliable and obsequious in his commerce with persons, and extremely zealous in promoting practical religion and virtue, which he recommended by his example as well as by his precepts." As to the views taught by Menno, Mosheim states, that "he expressed his displeasure of the licentious tenets which several of the Anabaptists had maintained with respect to the usefulness of polygamy and divorce, and considered, as unworthy of toleration, those fanatics that were of opinion that the Holy Ghost continued to descend into the minds of many chosen believers, in as extraordinary a manner as at the first establishment of the
Christian church, by miracles, predictions, dreams, and visions of various kinds. He still, indeed, retained the doctrines commonly received among the Anabaptists, in relation to the baptism of infants, the Millenium, or thousand years' reign of Christ on earth, the exclusion of magistrates from the Christian church, [that is, it is supposed, their interference, as magistrates, with the affairs of the church,] the abolition of war, and the prohibition of oaths enjoined by our Saviour, and the vanity as well as pernicious effects of human science. But while Menno retained these doctrines in a general way, he explained and modified them in such manner, as made them resemble the religious tenets that were universally received in the Protestant churches."*
Such then was the state of the Baptists, on the Continent, at the period of the Reformation; and, as they at this time were either Dutch or Germans, and as one of the first Baptist churches in England was originally formed in Holland, so it is a natural supposition that the tenets held by the early English Baptists, would considerably resemble those of the Mennonites on the Continent. Many, however, of the English ministers were learned and able men. Being also independent thinkers, the whole system of theology was reviewed by them, as well as the discipline and ordinances of the churches of the New Testament; and, therefore, by the views they formed from the Scriptures they would be guided, much more than by the model of Menno Simon.
As to the existence of those who held tenets corresponding to the modern Baptists, previously to the Reformation, we introduce again another statement from Mosheim: "The Mennonites are not entirely mistaken," he affirms, "when they boast of their descent from the Waldenses, Petrobrusians, and other ancient sects, who are usually considered as witnesses of the truth, in the times of universal darkness and superstition. Before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay concealed in almost all the countries of Europe, particularly in Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland, and Germany, many persons who adhered tenaciously to the following doctrine, viz.: "That the kingdom of Christ, or the visible church He had established on earth, was an assembly of real saints, and
* Menno Simon was born in 1505. He was converted about his thirtieth year, and lived till he was about fifty-seven. He died at a nobleman's seat, in Holstein, whither he had retired for protection, from his enemies, in 1561. He was eminently successful among the Baptists, but had much trouble from the differences between the rigid and the mild parties, the one in North Holland and the other in Flanders.
ought, therefore, to be inaccessible to the wicked and unrighteous, and also exempt from all those institutions which human prudence suggests to oppose the progress of iniquity, or to correct and reform transgressors, "[or in other words, absence of state controul]" "This maxim," Mosheim says, "was tenaciously adhered to by the Waldenses, Wickcliffites, and Hussites, the precursors of the Reformation." Let us then glance at the views of each of these.
With regard to the Hussites, they are said, by Erasmus, "to have renounced all the rites and ceremonies of the Catholic church. They ridicule our doctrine and practice (as "Reformers,) in both the sacraments. They admit none till they are dipped in water, and they reckon one another, without distinction of rank, to be called brothers and sisters." The Hussites prevailed in Hungary, Silesia, and Poland, though most numerous in those cities of Germany which lay on the Rhine, and especially at Cologne. They were, however, divided in sentiment. One party acknowledged the pope as head of the church. A second party differed only from popery in receiving both the bread and wine in the Eucharist, and reading some things in the vulgar tongues. The third were called Picards or Begards these called the pope Antichrist took all their views from the Bible chose their own instructors denied, marriage to none, opposed offices for the dead, and had few holy days or ceremonies.+ Huss was martyred in 1415, one hundred and two years before Luther began the Reformation, in Germany. He had had his views greatly guided by the writings of Wickliffe, brought to Bohemia by the Queen of Richard the Second of England. Thus by his teaching and example, was a large part of Germany prepared for the Reformation, and disposed to carry it further than even Luther himself s to the Morning Star of the Reformation the instructor of Huss the great John Wickliffe, he was a native of the North of England, being born in 1324, at a hamlet that bears his name, about five or six miles east of Barnard-castle, on the south side of the Tees, which separates Yorkshire from Durham. He opposed, by his teaching and writing, the various errors of popery, and also presented views, for that time, wonderfully congenial with the primitive model of Christianity. Dr. Hurd affirms, that many
* This and the preceding quotations from Mosheim, are taken from his History of the Anabaptists. CHURCH HISTORY 16th CENT., 3rd sect, part 2.
+ See Sleiden, History of Reform, Lon. Encyclo. article "Huss and Reform", &c., by Orchard, in his "History of the Foreign Baptists".
learned men agree in stating, "that Wickliffe denied Infant Baptism."* This then harmonizes with what is said by Erasmus, of the Hussites, who were influenced by Wickliffe's writings. "Wickliffe is said to have been instructed by Drs. Islip and Bradwardine, both Archbishops of Canterbury, and they are affirmed to have received their religious views, partly, from the Ancient British Christians! in Wales, and, partly, from the wandering Waldenses or Lollards, from the south-west of France, then under the dominion of the king of England. Walter Lollard, one of the Waldensian ministers, is also stated to have visited England, about this time, and his followers were called afterwards Lollards. The term Wickliffites attached equally to the same party.
The Dissenters from popery in the south of France the teachers of Wickliffe, have different names assigned them. From Albi, a city in Languedoc, they are called Albigenses. From some of their more eminent teachers, Peter de Bruys and Henry of Toulouse, they are called Petrobrnssians and Henricians; Leonists, and poor men of Lyons, from Lyons being the residence of another distinguished teacher, Peter Waldo. They were also called, from the purity and consistency of their conduct, Cathari, or Gazari, viz., purists or puritans. It is highly probable that among these there would be diversity of sentiment on several subjects; but that some of them were Baptists, and probably the majority of them, is evident from many testimonies. We select the charges preferred against them, by one of the best of the papal ministers of that period, viz., Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux. "How great" he states, "are the evils we have heard and known to be done by Henry [of Toulouse] the heretic, and what he is every day doing in the churches of God! He wanders up and down in sheeps' clothing, being a ravenous wolf! But, according to the hint given by our Lord, we know him by his fruits. The churches are without people, the people without priests, priests without reverence, and lastly, Christians without Christ. The life of Christ is denied to infants, by refusing them the grace of baptism, nor are they suffered to draw near unto salvation, though our Saviour cried out, on their behalf, "Suffer little children to come unto me," &c.+
Their can be little doubt that these Albigenses, &c., sprang from the Vaudois or Vallenses, the inhabitants of the vallies of Piedmont, in the Alpine mountains. About the beginning of the
* History of all Religions.
+ Allix, Albiginians c. 14, p. 127, &c., quoted by Orchard.
twelfth century, however, they received a strong reinforcement of a people from the west of Asia, holding similar principles. These were called Paulicians, from their attachment to the writings of the Apostle Paul. They had their rise in the seventh century, through the medium of one Constantine, of Manalis, in Armenia, who, by the hand of a stranger, had received the four gospels and the epistles of Paul. Regarding his tenets, and those of his followers, Mosheim says, "It is evident they rejected the baptism of infants;" and Dr. Allix says, "They, with the Manichaeans, were Anabaptists, or rejecters of infant baptism."
With regard to the inhabitants of the vallies, the Vaudois, or Valdenses, we are told, by Dr. Waddington, that there is no direct mention of them in history, before the twelfth century. But the tradition of their early history is preserved by their enemies, as well as friends. Reiner Saccho, an apostate from them, affirms, "that they are the most ancient sect, some say as old as Sylvester, others, of the apostles themselves." Claudius Styssel, archbishop of Turin, traces the origin of the Waldenses to a person of the name of Leo, in the fourth century. Paul Perrin, their historian, asserts, "That the Waldenses were time out of mind in Italy and Dalmatia, and were the offspring of the Novatianists, who were persecuted arid driven from Rome, about A. D, 400 ; and who for purity of communion were called Puritans."* Here, then, by the tradition of both friends and foes, their origin is traced to the first Dissenters from the church at Rome, the Novatianists. Novatian was a presbyter of Rome, who contended strenuously for purity of communion, and affirmed, that all who apostatised from the faith for fear of death, should not be received into the church again till they were re-baptized. Hence he was called an Anabaptist or rebaptizer. The church at Rome would not agree to this view, and Novatian withdrew, along 'with' those who were like-minded, and thus became the first Dissenters for Christian purity of communion, we have on record, A. D. 250. He had a large church at Rome, and his followers were scattered through Italy, and all other parts of the Roman Empire. Donatus and Montanus, in Africa, had adopted nearly similar views.'
It is probable that infant baptism was introduced into the Catholic church about this time, arising from the interpretation of
* Danvers on Baptism, p, 273, also quoted by Orchard.
our Lord's words, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Baptism in water - then, not as an act of obedience, and a symbol of the purifying of the Holy Spirit, but as an essential ingredient of salvation, in itself considered, laid hold of the mind. Hence, when any infant or minor was about to expire, in order to his salvation, he was instantly sprinkled with water.* The healthy were not baptized, but became catechumens, and were baptized at different ages. Constantino was not baptized till near death. The practice came on gradually. It was sanctioned by Cyprian in 256, and by Augustine in 416. The first canon in Europe for it was in 517, and the first law in 789. It then spread rapidly.+
If Novatian had baptized infants, from the views he entertained of Christian purity of communion, he must, we suppose, have been under the necessity of baptizing all, or nearly all those babes he had immersed in infancy, over again. Of this, however, we have no account, and, therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that he never baptized infants; and hence, the general prevalence of Anti-paedobaptist sentiments among the Waldenses and other ancient Nonconformists.
Thus have we taken a hasty survey of the exhibition of Baptist principles, under a variety of names, from nearly the apostolic era to the present time, and have, we trust, shewn successfully, that there have been those in all ages who have sighed for purity of communion, and have made baptism the line of demarcation between the church and the world. We conclude, that the Baptists are a very ancient party, desirous ever to maintain purity of Christian character, and of apostolic institutions. In the present day, we hear a great deal more than enough respecting apostolic succession, and the virtue of the sacraments, as administered by the hands of an apostolic successor. If the matter were worth dispute, we might try to show, for argument's sake, that the Baptists were pretty near akin to these successors; for supposing the church of England to have attained this apostolic succession, through the church of Rome, then, if the Baptists are the legitimate descendants of the Novatianists, they must have it too. Nay, Novatian possessed it in a much purer state than Cranmer did. Again, if it is actually in the church of England, why may it not be carried out of her, as well as she carried it out of the church of Rome? If so,
* This was called clinical or sick-bed baptism.
+ Robinson's History of Baptism.
then must the ordination imparted by Hanserd Knollys and Henry Jessey, Baptist ministers, originally ordained in the church be as purely apostolic as the ordination, of Latimer and Ridley?*
But why dispute about a matter rendered nugatory by the contending parties themselves? Is it not the fact that the Evangelical party in the Church, with all their apostolic ordination, are now denounced by the self-called apostolicals, in their Tracts for the Last Times, as the Antichrist of the New Testament, the man of sin, the mystery of iniquity, the beast with seven heads and ten horns, the scarlet-coloured strumpet of the Book of Revelation? If preaching the doctrines of grace then, by Baptist Noel, destroys his apostolic succession, surely acting in direct opposition to all the morality of the New Testament, and selling the forgiveness of sin for money, cannot preserve the apostolic succession, if they ever had it, of an Alexander Borgia and a Leo the Tenth. But enough, the hoax surely will not take in England. Men of sense and principle, will expose its hollowness and craft to the light of day, and even the comparatively uneducated masses of the people, whose logical powers, are, generally speaking, tolerably clear, and lead to a plain common sense conclusion, will perceive, and conclude at once, that the logic and theology of Oxford never would have been so perverted, nor the spawn of "young England" so numerous, had there not been loaves and fishes connected with the question. But, we must now take a brief view of the character of the times in England, at the commencement of our narrative.
On the destruction of the Plantagenet dynasty, in the person of Richard the Third, at the battle of Bosworth, in 1485, the crown of England was placed on the head of the first of the Tudors, Henry the Seventh. By the circumstances in which this dynasty were placed, their own sagacity and determination, of character, they, notwithstanding the external symbols of freedom, depressed the kingdom nearly to a despotism. This despotism, however, in time begat a reaction in the minds of the people, including some of the higher classes, who chiefly felt its weight. This re-action commenced in the latter part of the reign of the last of the dynasty, Queen Elizabeth. "When the sceptre dropped into the hands of the feebler Stuarts, the re-action rose, in time, to its
* The grand test of apostolic descent or succession, is not history, but character not ordination, however pure, but the actual possession of apostolic faith, practice, spirit, and zeal. This has been the great aim of the Baptists. Let them aim at it more and more, then when the question is decided at the bar of the Eternal, we shall see who has the best claim.
[height. – in the text by error?] In the days of James the First, from 1603 to 1625, much progress was made. When his son Charles the First, at the age of twenty-five, ascended the throne, the Commons of England would not vote the supplies he sought, without a redress of grievances. This was the case in the three successive Parliaments of the first four years of his reign. It is true, he granted, with great reluctance, the Petition of Right; but, for eleven years afterwards, he governed by his own will, without Parliaments, and raised supplies in opposition to the will of the people and the Petition of Right, that he himself had agreed to. In the meantime, two great events occurred, the trial of Hampden, and the war with the Scotch, on account of their refusal to have Episcopacy imposed on them. Money was now wanted; a Parliament was called; grievances, instead of supplies, were presented. The Parliament was again dissolved. Charles, however, was in the greatest straits, and he was forced to call another.
This was the famous long Parliament. It met November 3rd, 1640. Its doings were awfully retributive. The Earl of Strafford and Archbishop Land, the kings prime ministers and agents, were condemned to die. Episcopacy was abolished; and the Commons demanded, for a time, the command of the army. Charles refused; a civil war commenced in 1642, and ended in 1645, by the decisive battle of Naseby, gained by the Parliament over the king. Charles then surrendered himself to the Scotch army. That army delivered him to the Parliament, chiefly composed of loyal Presbyterians. During four years he carried on, during his imprisonments, in different places, negociations with all parties. These failed. He fell, at length, into the hands of the army and the republicans - attempted escape - was tried by a High Court of Justiciary in Westminster Hall, was condemned, and beheaded January 30, 1649. A second civil war had been attempted, on his behalf, in the west of England and Scotland. By the genius, however, of the great Oliver Cromwell, whose star was now in the ascendant, it was speedily suppressed. Ireland also, was subdued by him and the attempt of young Charles to regain the throne of his father, by the assistance of the Scotch, terminated in his complete defeat, at Worcester, September 3rd, 1651. Cromwell now was raised to the highest honours and influence, both in the army and in the council of state - was, in fact, the supreme Governor of the Three Kingdoms.
With regard to the state of religion in the nation, the first
phase of the Reformation took place under Henry the Eighth, in 1533; the second under his son, Edward the Sixth, in 1547; the third under Elizabeth, in 1558. During her reign, two parties grew up in the church, the High Church party and the Puritans. This latter party was much depressed by Elizabeth, but it still grew; and in the end of her reign, and in the reigns of her successors, James and Charles, it linked itself to the cause of Patriotism; and when Episcopacy was abolished, Presbyterianism, to which the Puritans had leaned, gained the ascendancy in the national churches. Some of the ministers, who had turned Independents, were allowed to remain, and so also a few that were Baptists.
Previously to this, the Baptists who had appeared in England, were, in general, severely persecuted. They were so, under the name of Wickliffites or Lollards, in the reign of Henry the Fourth and Fifth; and also under Henry the Eighth. In the reign of Edward the Sixth, Joan Boucher, or Joan of Kent, a person of some property in that county, on account of distributing Bibles, was brought by Cranmer to the stake, in opposition to the remonstrances of the young king. In the reign of Elizabeth and James, they also suffered much. Two of them were burnt at the stake in 1611, the year our present translation of the Bible was published by Royal authority.
In the midst of all opposition, Dissent grew and multiplied. The first attempt at forming a Presbyterian church, was at Wandsworth, Surrey, in 1572. The Independents began in 1580, under the guidance of the eccentric Robert Brown, who formed a church in Holland. Mr. John Smythe, originally a minister of the Establishment, joined this church; but he afterwards became a Baptist, formed a Baptist church in Holland, and died there, some time about 1612. His successors, Messrs. Tho. Helwesse and John Morton, together with their people, came over to London, and settled there about 1615. This was the first General Baptist church in England. In 1616, the first Independent church was formed, by Mr. Henry Jacob, and out of this church, in 1633, sprang the first Particular Baptist church in London. It met at Wapping. Mr. John Spilsbury was its pastor. Another secession took place in 1639; and another church was formed at Crutched Friars, by Messrs. Green, and P. Hobson, and Captain Spencer. Between 1639 and 1646, other five churches were formed in London, as in that year a confession was put forth, by
what are termed "the seven churches of London commonly, but, unjustly, called Anabaptists." It was addressed to the members of Parliament. A French church, of the same faith and order, is said also to have signed it.
The Baptists were divided into two bodies, the General and Particular, the first holding General Redemption, with tenets nearly akin to the modern Wesleyans; the other holding to Particular Redemption, or the Calvinistic doctrines as expressed in the articles of the church of England, and the Assembly's catechism. Both parties held the independence of particular churches, and the baptism of professed believers by immersion. They rejected the baptism of infants, though some, like the Saviour, took them up in their arms and blessed them. They rejected singing in public worship, but some of them had lovefeasts and washed the saints' feet. Some held the six principles referred to in Hebrew vi. 1-6. The fourth of these, laying on of hands on admission into the church after being baptized, was much insisted on by some. Some were open and others were strict communionists. Almost all held the doctrine of the personal reign of Christ. There were, however, among them but few physical force men. Venner, who was not a Baptist, seems to have been the leader of the party. Such was the general state of things, among the Baptists, when our narrative begins.
[From David Douglas, History of the Baptist Churches in the North of England, From 1648 to 1845, London, 1846, Introduction, pp. xvi-xxvii. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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