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The Montanists and Novatians of the third century.

[NOTE: In this chapter Elder Newman discusses the Montanists and Novatians of the third century, also the Donatists of the fourth century. According to Roman Catholic records, the Novatians were condemned by the General Council of Nice. The Donatists were condemned by the Catholics at Rome in 313. and at Arles in 314.--Catholic Religion Defined, page 534.]

Jesus the Son of God said. "Ye shall know them by their fruits." --Matt. vii. 16. Remember that the charges that were pronounced against these Baptists were made by the dominant party. The two main charges made against the different groups of Baptists were that they were two-seeders or Manichaeans and they "rebaptized the members that came over to them." These things were told on all the different sections of those whom we claim as our religious ancestors. which is sufficient to prove that these different groups of Baptists all believed fundamentally the same things. As they all had the same origin and all believed, the same doctrine and adhered to the same practice, it follows to a demonstration that they were the same people, though frequently known and called by different names. Montanus did not originate the people called by his name. He protested against the corruption that had in various ways, at different times and places and by different designing men found its way into some of the local churches of Jesus Christ. Montanism first appeared at Phrygia, which at that time comprised the greater part of Asia Minor, about the middle of the second century. At this time there was no fundamental and no noticeable departure from New Testament doctrine. Some of the city churches had allowed new things in practice to enter in among them. which was a source of annoyance to such men as Montanus and Tertullian. "Let it be remembered that the 'theological' chairs of the German universities have been the greatest strongholds of infidelity in the nineteenth century. The chief opposition to the Alexandrian school and to Gnosticism and to the substitution of philosophy for Christianity was, in the second century, made by those called the Montanists, of whom Tertullian became, in the third century, the ablest writer. *** They sought to emphasize the great importance of the spirituality and purity of the church, and especially the absolute indispensability of the Holy Ghost and the dispensableness of human philosophy. 'Tertullian calls the Greek philosophers the patriarchs of all heresies, and scornfully asks, What has the academy to do with the church?' "--Hassell, p. 367.

It is a fact well known by all historians that Montanus, Tertullian and Donatus were all members of the same church at Carthage in north Africa. The corruption that had from time to time found it way into this church seemed to be more than a match for Montanus: and Tertullian, and they withdrew from the majority represented by Cyprian, who had introduced a modified form of Catholicism into this church. Cyprian was teaching this church the heresy known as church salvation and baptismal regeneration, while Montanus and Tertullian "denied that baptism was the channel of grace."--Armitage p. 177. Schaff says, "Montanism was not originally a departure from the faith, but a morbid overestimating of the practice of morality at the early church."--Vol. 1, p. 302. Montanus, Donatus and Tertullian were together at Carthage. Donatus went to Rome and joined Novatian and it is a fact that Novatian did not require Donatus to be baptized again. Novatian recognized the work of Montanus, Tertullian and Donatus, but rejected the work of Cyprian at Carthage and those allied with them, as well as the work of Cornelius of Rome and those who stood with him. Hassell, p. 67, says,, "Novatian was a prudent advocate of the faith generally embraced in the church." He believed in predestination as held to by the Primitive Baptists of our day. He held to a regenerate church membership and reimmersed all who came to them from the dominant or Catholic party. They were called Anabaptists by those denominated the Catholic party.

The Donatists, like the Novatians, insisted on the purity of the church and declared that the church at Carthage (meaning the dominant party had fallen from the dignity of a true church and deprived herself of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Their enemies said, "Hence they pronounced the sacred rites and institutions void of all virtue and efficacy among those Christians who were not precisely of their sentiments, and not only rebaptized those who came over to their party from other churches, but even with respect to those who had been ordained ministers of the gospel, they observed the severe custom, either of depriving them of their office, or obliging them to be ordained a second time."--Mosheim, part 2, Chap. 5, Sec. 8. The above expresses the objection the Catholics had to the Donatists and exactly what is still held against their descendants, and in this we see an exact likeness of the Primitive Baptists of our day. "The Donatists maintained that the church should cast out from its body those who were known by open and manifest sins to be unworthy members."--Neander, Vol. 2, p. 203. "They refused infant baptism."--Long.

The Paulicians are another sect everywhere spoken against through which we trace the church, and when we begin to study their history about the first objection to them is they were Manichaeans and "rebaptized" all that came to them from the Catholics. These same charges were made against Tertullian, Montanus, Novatian and Donatus, which proves that these different groups of the same people known by different names were Calvinistic in their theology.

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