header image
Home arrow Writers arrow J.S. Newman arrow Baptists In All Ages: Chapter XIV
Baptists In All Ages: Chapter XIV PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.S. Newman   

The English Baptists.

"The first regularly organized Baptist Church of which we possess any account, is dated from 1607, and was formed in London by a Mr. Smyth, who had been a clergyman in the Church of England. It was formed on the principles of the General Baptists."--Benedict, p. 304.

I will prove that John Smyth, at the time he organized his so-called church, knew that there were Baptists then in existence and that he was on "good terms" with them, though he did not agree with them, they being Calvinistic in their belief and he Arminian. Before John Smyth organized his so-called church in 1607, he was a member of the ancient English Separatists church. At that time his people were in a warm controversy on the nature of a visible church. Mr. Smyth published a work on "The Fallen Church," and also one on "The Character of the Beast." 'This led Smyth, Heluys, Morton and thirty-six others to form a new church which should practice believers' baptism and reject infant baptism. Finding themselves unbaptized, they were in a strait. They were on good terms with the Dutch Baptists, but would not receive their baptism, lest they should recognize them as a true church; for they (Smith and his followers) believed that the true churches of Christ had perished. Besides, Smyth did not believe with them in the lawfulness of a Christian to serve as a magistrate, nor on the freedom of the will and the distinctive points of Calvinism, he being an Arminian, which points he considered vital."--History by Armitage, p. 435. How could Smyth have been on good "terms with the Dutch Baptists" if there were no Baptists at that time? Remember that John Smyth and his followers were General, or Arminian Baptists, and the "Dutch Baptists" believed in election, predestination, redemption and grace as do the Primitive Baptists of our day. I will trace those kind of Baptists by Armitage from 1607 back to the apostolic age.

"On the accession of James I, 1603, the four sects of England were: The Roman Catholic, The Church of England, divided into the Puritans, who conformed in some things, and others who conformed in all. The Brownists, afterward known as the Separatists and Independents, and a few Baptists, who were disowned of all." Armitage, p. 452.

In 1589 Dr. Some "wrote a treatise, attacking them and their faith. His charges against the Baptists were: That they insisted on maintaining all ministers of the gospel by the voluntary contributions of the people; that the civil power has no right to make and impose ecclesiastical laws; that the people have a right to choose their own pastors; that those who are qualified to preach ought not to be hindered by the civil power; that the baptism of the Church of Rome is invalid; that a gospel constitution and discipline are essential to a true church."--Ibed, p. 452i "About 1579, Archbishop Sandys declared both of the Brownists and Baptists *** for it is said that in 1571 there were nearly four thousand Dutch and other foreigners in Norwich alone, many of them Dutch Baptists."--Ibed, p. 432. "Four years afterward, under Edward VI, we have the fearful martyrdom of Joan Boucher of Kent, probably of Eythorne, near Canterbury, where there was a Baptist assembly."--Ibed, p. 449. "Eythorne Baptist Church," says Mr. Davis in the letter already referred to, "was founded not later than 1550. Joan Boucher, or Joan o f Kent, was a member of this church. She was a lady of means, a zealous Christian; and on May 2, 1550, she was led to the stake. The church still exists."--Shackelford's History, P. 277. "A congregation of Baptists was found in London in 1575, twenty-seven of whom were imprisoned, and two burned in Smithfield; and the sect can be traced by their blood all through the century, aided by the light of Burnett, Fuller and Fox."--Armitage, p. 448. "The Lollards had prepared the way for the rapid spread of the principles of these Dutch Christians; and since 1535, Baptist witnesses for the truth have stood firmly on British soil, either as individuals or as organized churches."--Ibed, p. 446.

"It appears, therefore, that the origin of English Baptists, as a distinct sect, is to be found amongst the Baptist refugees who were driven from the Netherlands.--Armitage, pp. 445, 446. From this quotation we learn that the English Baptists existed long before John Smyth's day, and that the origin of the English Baptists is to be found amongst the Baptist refugees, who were driven from the Netherlands. The King of Holland appointed a committee to prepare a history of the Reformed church. The committee appointed Dr. Ypeij, professor of theology at Gronigen, and Rev. I. J. Dermont, chaplain to the King of the Netherlands. These men were both learned Pedobaptists. These men published their history in 1819 at Beda. and devoted one chapter to the Baptists of the Netherlands, where the English Baptists came from: "We have now seen that the Baptists who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in latter times, Mennonites, were the original Waldenses; and who have long in the history of the Church, received the honor of that origin. On this account, the Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the apostles, and as a Christian society, which have preserved pure the doctrines of the gospel through all ages. The perfectly correct, external and internal economy of the Baptists denomination, tends to confirm the truth, disputed by the Romish church, that the Reformation brought about in the sixteenth century, was in the highest degree necessary; and at the same time, goes to refute the erroneous notion of the Catholics, that their communion is the most ancient."--Shackelford's History, pp. 257, 258. Thus we see that the English Baptists came from the Netherlands and that the Baptists in Holland extend back to the apostles. "Despite these persecutions, they perpetually multiplied. Keller says that in 1530 there was scarcely a village or city in the Netherlands where Baptists were not found. *** In 1550 the leading reformed element, according to Ten Kate, was Baptist, and in Friesland, in 1586, one inhabitant in every four was a Baptist."--Armitage, p. 415.

"Then, as none of them gave him (Menno) scriptural authority in the case (infant baptism), he went to the Bible as his only guide; and finding it silent on the subject, he cast the doctrine aside as a human figment, united with a Baptist Church and began to preach the gospel."--Ibed, p. 410. Mr. Vedder, in his History of the Baptists, p. 104, says of Menno: "He resigned his priest's office, and, in 1536, he was rebaptized on confession of faith and became numbered among the Anabaptists." Thus we see that Simon Menno did not originate the people that were afterward called Mennonites, for the reason that he joined a Baptist Church in 1536. "Augsburg was the headquarters of South Germany. It was a rich city with a large laboring class, whose chief comfort sprang from the gospel. Dr. Osgood writes, that in 1527 the Baptist Church there numbered eight hundred members."--Ibed, p. 388. "In 1530, there were about fifty Baptist churches, ranging from four to six hundred attendants each, and stretching from the Eiffel to Moravia."--Ibed, p. 383. On page 347 the same historian says: "The only result of this and other measures was that Ecolampadrius advised the council to treat the obstinate with greater severity; and on April 1, 1529, it issued an edict to imprison all Baptists, and keep them there on bread and water till they publicly retract; then, if they apostatized, they should be put to death by the sword." Mr. Armitage, on page 280, says: "Amongst the Catbari, however, we find a Baptist body at Cologne and Bonn; whence they came, we are not informed; but they appeared in 1146; and Evervine gives a full account of them in writing to Bernard, of whom he seeks aid in their suppression." In speaking of the fourth century, Mr. Armitage says: "How are the mighty fallen! Their lawful Sovereign and good friend was hailed as their head, and they waited for his image and superscription to attest their orthodoxy; for the first time the Old Baptist Churches of the world are found crouching at a Monarch's feet."--p. 204.

In speaking of the third century, the same writer said, p. 173: "This iron-nerved Old Baptist said, most cheerfully, that the Church had valuable treasures, asking the court to send horses and wagons for them, and give him three days to produce them. His request was granted; and when the day arrived, he brought loads of widows and the poor, saying: 'These are the treasures of the Church.' For this they roasted him alive on a gridiron." Mr. Armitage, speaking of Polycarp of the second century, said: "The answer of this simple-hearted Old Baptist was: 'Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any wrong; how, then, can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?' "p. 158.

Of the same century, and on page 157, we have this statement: "The Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God which sojourns at Corinth. Even thus early the Corinthian Baptist Church had learned how to abuse its own chosen pastors." On the same page we have this language: "It would be most interesting to trace the biography of this group of Old Baptists, but space will not allow." On page 156 the writer said: "These early Baptists decided all questions of doctrine by an appeal to their sacred books, being very zealous of forged books, which abounded very early."

< Previous   Next >


The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.