A Review by The Baptist Magazine, 1823
A History of the English Baptists: comprising the principle Events of the History of Protestant Dissenters, from the Revolution in 1688 till 1760; and of the London Baptist Churches during that Period.
By Joseph Ivimey. Vol. III. 14s.
History is well defined, when it is said to be ‘philosophy teaching by example.” And the present generation, wise as it is, would be much wiser, if the lights and beacons or former generations were duly regarded. It should be remembered, too, that many things are committed to us in trust, to be transmitted unimpaired to future generations.
The religious public, therefore, are much indebted to Mr. Ivimey for the labour he has bestowed on that portion of our Church-history, which comprises the lives and labours of the English Baptists, and the prosperous or declining state of our churches from the Reformation to the present time.
This third Volume is divided into two books. The first contains a review of events occurring in the reigns of King William, Queen Anne, George the First, and George the Second; the other, the history of Baptist churches in London. Those which occupy a place here, are Broad-street – Old Gravel-lane — Wapping — Devonshire-square — Petty France — Lorimers'-hall — Turners'-hall—United Churches of Devonshire-square and Turners-hall—Curriers'-hall, Cripplegate— Pinners'-hall – Ditto Sabbatarian Church–Goat-street, Horsley-down – Unicorn-yard – Carter-lane –
Maze-pond–White-street—Snow's-fields—Collier's-rents—Joiners'-hall — Tallow-chandlers'-hall — Great Eastcheap — Goodman's-yard — Limehouse—Ayle's-street and Angel-alley—Shadwell—Prescot-street —Little Alie-street–Little Wild-street—and Eagle-street.
In the first book the reader will find the substance of the Toleration-act of 1689, and several other acts of Parliament; a variety of addresses to the throne on important occasions; an account of the attempt to establish an Annual General Assembly; extracts from Association letters; and other documents of great value—particularly a Memorial from the Protestant Dissenters to Queen Anne against the Schism bill, which is “a literal copy of a pamphlet too valuable to be lost.”
Mr. Ivimey has taken great pains to investigate the origin of many of our most important societies, funds, schools, and controversies. He notices the Society of Ministers, commonly, in earlier times, called the Board—the Monthly Meeting of our Ministers and Churches—the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge—the Particular Baptist Fund —the Widows' Fund—the Parliamentary Grant, formerly called Regiun Donun — the Horsley-down School—the Salters'-hall Controversy — The Modern Question — the Baptisteries in Paul's-alley, Barbi can, and in Fair-street, Horsleydown, – and many other things which must be interesting. more or less to every reader.
In the second book the reader will find a variety of curious particulars connected with the rise and progress of the London churches, some of which we should be glad to transcribe, but our limits will not permit. –
The author has proposed to publish two other volumes: the fourth to contain materials relating to the history of our London churches and those in the country, and also the history of the Western Association, and of the Bristol Education Society—the fifth to contain an account of leading events, both in London and the country, from 1760 till 1820, with the history of the first twenty-eight years of our Missionary Society, and of the Academies at Bristol, Stepney, and Bradford—of the Baptist Irish Society, and the Baptist Home Missionary Society. We cordially wish the diligent writer may have health and strength and spirits to accomplish the task which he has undertaken; and that it may prove a permanent blessing to the churches of Christ in the old world, and in the new.
In such a mass of multifarious materials, there will be, no doubt, some mistakes, as well as some omissions, and the closing volume should contain a few pages devoted to the addenda et corrigenda, which may be supplied by the author's own revisal, and the communications of his friends.
This interesting volume loudly proclaims the importance of evangelical doctrines, and the necessity of evangelical discipline. It shows, in several instances, that a church declining, and decaying for want of these things, may soon be dissolved, scattered, and, as to its public character and usefulness, annihilated, while no promise of God is broken at all. The pastors, the deacons, and the private members of our churches, will find, in the biographical sketches of this volume, many strong incitements and encouragements to “cleave to the Lord with purpose of heart.”
We cannot forbear transcribing a few lines from the author's preface."“It is a fact which cannot be disproved, and which ought to be universally known, that the Baptists first understood the principles of unrestricted religious liberty—that they were the first to propagate them—and that they have never violated them, by abridging others of the liberty which they claim for themselves.”* It is singular,
* For proof of this the writer refers to Vol. I. p. 124 of this history. The works of Mr. Roger Williams, in reply to the Rev. Mr. Cotton of Boston, and, above all, the charter he obtained for the state of Rhode Island, present irrefragable evidence, that as he had learned the sentiment from the English Baptists, so he was the first who effectually and practically taught it to the world.
155too, that this should be admitted by a Roman Catholic writer, whilst it is always kept out of sight by Dissenting Paedobaptists! Mr. Charles Butler, in his Historical Memoirs of the English Catholics, says, “It is observable, that this denomination of Christians [the Baptists] now; truly respectable, but in their origin as little intellectual as any, first propagated the principles of religious liberty.” Vol. I. p. 325.
[From The Baptist Magazine, 1823, Volume XV, pp. 153-155; via Google Books On-line edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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