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§ 105. The Regular or Calvinistic Baptists.
Confessions of Faith and other Public Documents illustrative of the History of the Baptist Churches of England in the Seventeenth Century. Edited for the Hanserd Knollys Society by Edward Bean Underhill. London (Haddon Brothers & Co.), 1854. Contains reprints of seven Baptist Confessions from 1611 to 1688, the Baptist Catechism of Collins, and several letters and other documents from the early history of Baptists in England.
Thos. Crosby: The History of the English Baptists, from the Reformation to the Beginning of the Reign of King George I. London, 1740. 4 vols. Contains important documents, but also many inaccuracies.
Joseph Ivimey: History of the English Baptists, including an Investigation of the History of Baptism in England. London, 1811–23. In 3 vols. 8vo.
Isaac Backus (d. 1806): History of New England, with especial Reference to the Baptists. In 3 vols. A new edition, by David Weston, was published by the Backus Historical Society, Newton Centre, Mass. 1871.
David Benedict (Pastor of the Baptist Church in Pawtucket, R. I.): A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America and other Parts of the World. Boston, 1813, in 2 vols.; new edition, New York, 1848, in 1 vol. (970 pp.). A chaos of facts.
Francis Wayland: Notes on the Principles and Practices of the Baptist Churches. New York (Sheldon, Blakeman, & Co.), 1857.
Sewall S. Cutting: Historical Vindications; . . . with Appendices containing Historical Notes and Confessions of Faith. Boston (Gould & Lincoln), 1859.
J. M. Cramp: Baptist History, from the Foundation of the Christian Church to the Close of the Eighteenth Century. Philadelphia (American Baptist Publication Society), 1868. For popular use.
J. Jackson Goadby: Bye-Paths in Baptist History: A Collection of Interesting, Instructive, and Curious Information, not generally known, concerning the Baptist Denomination. London, 1874 (pp. 375). Chap. VI. treats of Baptist Confessions of Faith.
The Baptists and the National Centennial: A Record of Christian Work, 1776–1876. Edited by Lemuel Moss, D.D. Philadelphia (Baptist Publication Society), 1876. Contains a chapter on 'Doctrinal History and Position,' by Dr. Pepper, pp. 51 sqq.
William R. Williams: Lectures on Baptist History. Philadelphia, 1877.
The English and American Baptists have inherited some of the principles without the eccentricities and excesses of the Continental Anabaptists and Mennonites.16201620 Their older scholars claim an origin earlier than the Continental or the English Reformation, going back to the Waldenses and Albigenses, and to the Lollard movement following, in Britain, the labors of Wycliff. The tradition of the Holland Mennonites gave them a Waldensian ancestry. But these points are disputed, and no historical connection can be traced. They are radical but not revolutionary in politics and religion, and as sober, orderly, peaceful, zealous, and devoted as any other class of Christians. They rose simultaneously in England and America during the Puritan conflict, and have become, next to the Methodists, the strongest denomination in the United States.
The great body of Baptists are called Regular or Particular or Calvinistic Baptists, in distinction from the smaller body of General or Arminian or Free-Will Baptists. They are Calvinists in doctrine and Independents in Church polity, but differ from both in their views on the subjects and mode of baptism. They teach that believers only ought to be baptized, that is, dipped or immersed, on a voluntary confession of their faith. They reject infant baptism as an unscriptural innovation and profanation of the sacrament, since an infant can not hear the gospel, nor repent and make a profession of faith. They believe, however, in the salvation of all children dying before the age of responsibility. Baptism in their system has no regenerative and saving efficacy: it is simply an outward sign of grace already bestowed, a public profession of faith in Christ to the world, and an entrance into the privileges and duties of church membership.16211621 The Campbellites, or Disciples, differ from the other Baptists by identifying baptismal immersion with regeneration, or teaching a concurrence of both acts. They also opposed from the start national church establishments, and the union of Church and State, which one of their greatest writers (Robert Hall) calls 'little more than a compact between the priest and the magistrate to betray the liberties of mankind, both civil and religious.' They advocate voluntaryism, and make the doctrine of religions freedom, as an inherent and universal right of man, a part of their creed.
THE BAPTISTS IN ENGLAND.
In England the Baptists were for a long time treated with extreme severity on account of their supposed connection with the fanatical fraction of the German and Dutch Anabaptists. A number of them who had fled from Holland were condemned to death or exiled (1535 and 1539). Latimer speaks, in a sermon before Edward VI., of Anabaptists who were burned to death under Henry VIII., in divers towns, and met their fate 'cheerfully and without any fear.'
Under Edward VI. they became numerous in the south of England, especially in Kent and Essex. Two were burned—a Dutchman, named George van Pare, and an English woman, Joan Boucher, usually called Joan of Kent. These were the only executions for heresy during his reign. The young king reluctantly and with tears yielded to Cranmer, who urged on him from the Mosaic law the duty of punishing blasphemy and fundamental heresy. Joan of Kent, besides rejecting infant baptism, was charged with holding the doctrine of some German and Dutch Anabaptists, that Christ's sinless humanity was not taken 'from the substance of the Virgin Mary,' who was a sinner, but was immediately created by God. She resisted every effort of Cranmer to change her views, and preferred martyrdom (May 2, 1550). Several of the Forty-two Edwardine Articles were directed against the Anabaptists.
Under Elizabeth a congregation of Dutch Anabaptists was discovered in London; twenty-seven members were imprisoned, some recanted, some were banished from the kingdom. The two most obstinate, John Wielmaker and Henry Terwoort, were committed to the flames in Smithfield, July 22, 1575, notwithstanding the petition of John Foxe, the martyrologist, who begged the queen to spare them, not indeed from prison or exile (which he deemed a just punishment for heresy), but from being 'roasted alive in fire and flame,' which was 'a hard thing, and more agreeable to the practice of Romanists than to the custom of Evangelicals.'16221622 See Foxe's letter to Queen Elizabeth, in Latin, in Append. III. to Neal's History (Vol. II. p. 439). These Dutch Anabaptists were charged with 'most damnable and detestable heresies,' such as that Christ took not flesh from the substance of Mary; that infants ought not to be baptized; that it is not lawful for a Christian man to be a magistrate or bear the sword or take an oath. These are evidently doctrines of the Mennonites, afterwards adopted by the Quakers, and now generally tolerated without any injury to society.
During the reigns of James and Charles the Baptists made common cause with the Puritans, especially the Independents, against the prelatical Church, but withdrew more completely from the national worship, and secretly assembled in woods, stables, and barns for religious worship. They began to organize separate congregations (1633), but were punished whenever discovered. Many fled to Holland, and some to America. Their earliest publications were pleas for liberty of conscience.16231623 See the Tracts on Liberty of Conscience, republished for the Hanserd Knollys Society by E. B. Underhill (London, 1846), which contains seven Baptist works on this subject from 1614 to 1661. On Roger Williams, see below.
With the Long Parliament they acquired a little freedom, though their views were opposed by Presbyterians and Independents, as well as by Episcopalians. They increased rapidly during the civil wars. In 1644 they numbered seven congregations in London, and forty-seven in the country. Cromwell left them unmolested. He had many of them in his army, and some even held positions in his experimental Broad Church.16241624 Samuel Richardson, a Baptist, who knew him personally, speaks very highly of Cromwell, as a man who 'aimeth at the general good of the nation and just liberty of every man, who is faithful to the saints, who hath owned the poor despised people of God, and advanced many to a better way and means of living.' See Tracts on Liberty of Conscience, p. 240. Milton is claimed by them, on the ground of a passage unfavorable to infant baptism, but with no more justice than Arians, Unitarians, and Quakers may claim him.16251625 'Milton, it seems, withdrew at last from all Church organizations, regarding them with equal respect and indifference, except the Romanists, whom he excludes from toleration as idolaters and enemies of toleration. With his illustrious friend, the younger Sir Henry Vane, whom, as understanding the true relations of Church and State, he praises in one of his most beautiful sonnets, he joined the 'Seekers,' a body looking for a more perfect Church yet to come. Roger Williams, the friend of both poet and statesman, joined them in his last years in occupying the same ground. In 1673, the year before his death, Milton published a treatise on 'True Religion, Heresy, Schism, Toleration, and the Best Means against the Growth of Popery,' in which he defines heresy to be 'a religion taken up and believed from the traditions of men and additions to the Word of God.' In this sense Popery is the only or the greatest heresy; its very name, Roman Catholic, a contradiction; one of the Pope's bulls as universal particular, or catholic schismatic; while Protestants are free from heresy, which is in the will and choice professedly against the Scriptures. He represents four classes of Protestants—Lutherans, Calvinists, Anabaptists, and Socinians—as agreed in the articles essential to salvation, and says: 'The Lutheran holds consubstantiation; an error, indeed, but not mortal. The Calvinist is taxed with predestination, and to make God the author of sin, not with any dishonorable thought of God, but it may be overzealously asserting his absolute power, not without plea of Scripture. The Anabaptist is accused of denying infants their right to baptism; again, they say they deny nothing but what Scripture denies them. The Arian and Socinian are charged to dispute against the Trinity; they affirm to believe the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost according to Scripture and the Apostolic Creed. As for terms of trinity, trini-unity, co-essentiality, tri-personality, and the like, they reject them as scholastic notions, not to be found in Scripture, which, by a general Protestant maxim, is plain and perspicuous abundantly to explain its own meaning in the properest words belonging to so high a matter and so necessary to be known; a mystery indeed in their sophistic subtleties, but in Scripture a plain doctrine. Their other opinions are of less moment. They dispute the satisfaction of Christ, or rather the word satisfaction, as not Scriptural, but they acknowledge him both God and their Saviour. The Arminian, lastly, is condemned for setting up free-will against free-grace; but that imputation he disclaims in all his writings, and grounds himself largely upon Scripture only.'
After the Restoration they were again persecuted by fines, imprisonment, and torture. They suffered more severely than any other Non-conformists, except the Quakers. Among their most distinguished confessors, who spent much time in prison, were Vavasor Powell (d. 1670), Hanserd Knollys (d. 1690),16261626 Knollys fled to Massachusetts (1638), and preached for some time in the extreme northern part of the colony, but, being exposed to danger as a Baptist and Separatist, he returned to England in 1641. The society for the republication of scarce old Baptist tracts is called after him. Benjamin Keach, and John Bunyan (d. 1688).
The Act of Toleration (1689) brought relief to the Baptists, and enabled them to build chapels and spread throughout the country. Since then they have become one of the leading branches of Dissenters in England. They have produced some of the most eminent preachers and authors in the English language, such as John Bunyan, Andrew Fuller, Robert Hall, John Foster, Joseph Angus, C. H. Spurgeon.
See Lives of Roger Williams by Knowles (1834), Gammell (1845, 1846, 1854), and Elton (1852); also Arnold's History of Rhode Island (1860), Vol. I.; Palfrey's History of New England, Vols. I. and II.; Bancroft's History of the U. S., Vol. I.; Masson, Life of Milton, Vol. II. pp. 560 sqq., 573 sq.; Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, Vol. III. p. 2747; Dexter, As to Roger Williams and his 'Banishment' from the Massachusetts Plantation (Boston, 1876); J. L. Diman, Monument to R. W. in Providence (Providence, 1877).
The works of Williams were republished by the Narragansett Club (First Series, Vol. I., Providence, 1866), and by Underhill for the Hanserd Knollys Society (London, 1848).
In America the Baptists trace their origin chiefly but not exclusively to Roger Williams (b. probably in Wales, 1599,16271627 The accounts of the year of his birth vary from 1598 to 1606. He was a protégé of the celebrated judge, Sir Edward Coke. Historians differ as to whether he was Rodericus Williams, from Wales, who entered Jesus College, Oxford, in 1624, or Rogerus Williams, whose name appears in the subscription-book of Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1626. Elton and Masson take the former, Arnold and Dexter the latter view, which better agrees with his Christian name. d. in Providence, R. I., 1683), the founder of Rhode Island. Originally a clergyman in the Church of England, he became a rigid separatist, a radical come-outer of all Church establishments, an 'arch-individualist,' and an advocate of 'soul-liberty' in the widest acceptation of the term. He was a pious, zealous, unselfish, kind-hearted, but eccentric, 'conscientiously contentions,' and impracticable genius, a real troubler in Israel, who could not get along with any body but himself; and this accounts for his troubles, which, however, were overruled for good. Cotton Mather compared him to a windmill, which, by its rapid motion in consequence of a violent storm, became so intensely heated that it took fire and endangered the whole town.
Pursued out of his land by Bishop Laud, as he says, he emigrated with a heavy heart, in company with his wife Mary, to the colony of Massachusetts, and arrived after a tedious and tempestuous voyage in February, 1631.
He first exercised his ministerial gifts as an assistant to the pastor of Plymouth Colony, and acquired a knowledge of the Indian language. In 1633 he removed to Salem as assistant of Mr. Skelton, and in 1635 he was ordained pastor of Salem Church. But he was even then in open opposition to the prevailing views and customs of the colony, and refused to take the oath of fidelity. Besides this, he was charged with advocating certain opinions supposed to be dangerous, viz., that the magistrate ought not to punish offenses against the first table; that an oath ought not to be tendered to an unregenerate man; that a regenerate man ought not to pray with the unregenerate, though it be his wife or child; that a man ought not to give thanks after the sacrament nor after meat. He was unwilling to retract, and advised his church to withdraw from communion with the other churches of the colony, 'as full of anti-Christian pollution.' For these reasons the court banished Williams (Oct., 1635). The question of toleration was implied in the first charge; he denied the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate over matters of conscience and religion, and defended this principle afterwards in a book, 'The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience,' against John Cotton (1644).16281628 This book was anonymously published in London, when Williams was there occupied in obtaining a charter for Rhode Island, and is exceedingly rare, only six copies being known to exist; but it has been reprinted from the copy in the Bodleian Library by Edward Bean Underhill, together with the Answer to Cotton's Letter and a Memoir of Williams (London, 1848, pp. 439 and xxxvi.). It is written in a kindly and moderate spirit, free from the controversial bitterness of the age, in the form of a conference between Truth and Peace. Williams begins with this sentence: 'The blood of so many hundred thousand souls of Protestants and Papists, spilt in the wars of present and former ages, for their respective consciences, is not required nor accepted by Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.' He maintains that civil government has nothing whatever to do with spiritual matters, over which God alone rules, and that religious liberty should be extended not only to all Christian denominations and sects, but even to 'the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or anti-Christian consciences and worships' (p. 2). John Cotton, his chief opponent, wrote in reply 'The Bloudy Tenent washed, and made white in the Bloud of the Lambe: being discussed and discharged of blood-guiltiness by just Defense' (London, 1647). Williams defended his position in 'The Bloody Tenent yet more Bloody by Mr. Cotton's endeavour to wash it white in the Blood of the Lambe' (London, 1652, 4to, pp. 373). John Cotton (1585–1652), who emigrated to America two years after Williams (1633), was one of the patriarchs of New England, and, together with Hooker and Stone, constituted the 'glorious triumvirate' that supplied the Puritans in the wilderness with their three great necessities—'Cotton for their clothing, Hooker for their fishing, and Stone for their building.'—Cotton Mather's Magnalia, Vol. III. p. 20. His views on baptism were developed afterwards; but they would only have aggravated his case, and in fact his rebaptism brought upon him the sentence of excommunication from the church of Salem, of which he was still nominally a member.16291629 Dr. Dexter's monograph is a learned and elaborate partisan defense of the action of the young Colony, which, he says, 'was reluctantly compelled to choose between the expulsion of Williams and the immediate risk of social, civil, and religious disorganization' (p. 88). He takes the ground that Williams was banished, not on religious, but on political grounds. But religion and politics were inseparably interwoven in the New England theocracy.
The banishment was the best thing that could have happened to Williams: it led to the development of his heroic qualities, and gave him a prominent position in American history. He left Salem with a few friends, and made his way in dreary winter through 'a howling wilderness' to the wigwams of his Indian friends, and was sorely tossed in frost and snow among barbarians for fourteen weeks, 'not knowing what bread or bed did mean.' In June, 1636, he founded with five families who adhered to him the town of Providence. He scrupulously bought the land from the Indians, and acted as pastor of this democratic settlement. In 1638 he became a Baptist; he was immersed by Ezekiel Hollyman, and in turn immersed Hollyman and ten others. This was the first Baptist church on the American Continent. But a few months afterwards he renounced his rebaptism on the ground that Hollyman was unbaptized, and therefore unauthorized to administer the rite to him. He remained for the rest of his life a 'Seeker,' cut loose from all existing Church organizations and usages, longing for a true Church of God, but unable to find one on the face of the whole earth. He conceived 'that the apostasy of Antichrist hath so far corrupted all that there can be no recovery out of that apostasy till Christ send forth, new apostles to plant churches anew.'
In 1643 he went to England, and obtained through the Commissioners of Plantation a charter which allowed the planters to rule themselves according to the laws of England, 'so far as the nature of the case would admit.' In 1663 he accepted for the colony another and more successful charter, a patent from the English crown similar to that of Massachusetts, to which he had formerly objected. He kept up friendly relations with the Indians, and twice saved the Massachusetts colony from danger, thus returning good for evil. His fame rests on his advocacy of the sacredness of conscience. Bancroft goes too far when in his eloquent eulogy he calls him 'the first person in modern Christendom who asserted in its plenitude the doctrine of the liberty of conscience, the equality of opinions before the law.' The Anabaptists and Mennonites had done the same a hundred years before. But Williams planted the first civil government on the principle of universal 'soul-liberty,' and was followed by William Penn in his Quaker colony in Pennsylvania. Roger Williams has been called 'that noble confessor of religious liberty, that extraordinary man and most enlightened legislator, who, after suffering persecution from his brethren, persevered, amidst incredible hardships and difficulties, in seeking a place of refuge for the sacred ark of conscience.'16301630 Mrs. P. S. Elton, in The Piedmontese Envoy; or, The Men, Manners, and Religion of the Commonwealth: A Tale (London, 1852), puts this eulogy into the mouth of John Milton; hence it is sometimes falsely quoted as Milton's (Allibone, Vol. III. p. 2747).
In the other colonies the Baptists were more or less persecuted till the time of the Revolution, but after that they spread with great rapidity.
The American Baptists differ from their English brethren by a stricter discipline and closer communion practice. They are very zealous in missions, education, and other departments of Christian activity. In theology they cultivate especially biblical studies with great success.
The Baptists, like the Congregationalists, lower the authority of general creeds to mere declarations of faith prevailing at the time in the denomination, to which no one is bound to give assent beyond the pleasure of his conviction; and they multiply the number and elevate the authority of local or congregational creeds and covenants, by which the members of particular congregations voluntarily bind themselves to a certain scheme of doctrine and duty. Notwithstanding the entire absence of centralization in their government, and the unrestrained freedom of private judgment, the Calvinistic Baptists have maintained as great a degree of essential harmony of faith as they themselves deem desirable.
'The Baptist creeds,' says Dr. Joseph Angus, in behalf of English Baptists,16311631 In a letter to the author. 'were prepared in the first instance for apologetic and defensive purposes. They merely describe the doctrines held by the bodies from which they emanated. They were never imposed on ministers and members of the churches of either section of the Baptists. Even when adopted, as they sometimes were, by any church, as an expression of its sentiments, all sister churches were left free, and in the particular church a considerable latitude of judgment was allowed in interpreting them. They have never been accepted as tests, and merely represent in a general way the sentiment of the body. In trust deeds or in the rules of associations they never appear. Property in trust is held for the use of evangelical Christians maintaining the doctrines commonly held by Particular (or General) Baptists; sometimes these doctrines are enumerated in the briefest possible way—the trinity, the atonement, etc.—and sometimes they are not enumerated at all. Of course, in the event of an appeal to law, the creeds and confessions would be evidence of the faith of the body. Substantially the two sections of the Baptist body believe as of old. But their confessions are not authoritative except as evidence and in matters of property; while in the interpretation of them it is a principle to allow as much freedom as is consistent with a substantial agreement in the same general truth.'
'Confessions of faith,' says Dr. Osgood, with special reference to the Baptists in the United States,16321632 Letter to the author. 'have never been held as tests of orthodoxy, as of any authoritative or binding force; they merely reflect the existing harmony of views and the scriptural interpretations of the churches assenting to them. "We believe," says Wayland, "in the fullest sense, in the independence of every individual church of Christ. We hold that each several church is a Christian society, on which is conferred by Christ the entire power of self-government. No church has any power over any other church. No minister has any authority in any church except that which has called him to be its pastor. Every church, therefore, when it expresses its own belief, expresses the belief of no other than its own members. If several churches understand the Scriptures in the same way, and all unite in the same confession, then this expresses the opinions and belief of those who profess it. It, however, expresses their belief because all of them, from the study of the Scriptures, understand them in the same manner, and not because any tribunal has imposed such interpretations upon them. We can not acknowledge the authority of any such tribunal. We have no right to delegate such an authority to any man or to any body of men. It is our essential belief that the Scriptures are a revelation from God, given . . . to every individual man. They were given to every individual that he might understand them for himself, and the word that is given him will judge him at the great day. It is hence evident that we can have no standards which claim to be of any authority over us."'16331633 F. Wayland, Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches, pp. 13, 14.
I. The Confession of the Seven Churches in London. Dr. Daniel Featley, a prominent Episcopalian of the Puritan party and member of the Westminster Assembly (from which, however, he was expelled for informing the king of its proceedings), had a public disputation with the Baptists in 1644, and published it, with a dedication to the Parliament, under the title, 'The Dippers dipt; or, the Anabaptists Duck'd and Plung'd over Head and Ears at a Disputation in Southwark.'16341634 London, 3d ed. 1645; 7th ed. 1660. The spirit of this book may be judged from the title and the following passage of the Epistle Dedicatory: 'Of all heretics and schismatics, the Anabaptists ought to be most carefully looked into, and severely punished, if not utterly exterminated and banished out of the Church and Kingdom. . . . They preach and print and practice their heretical impieties openly; they hold their conventicles weekly in our chief cities and suburbs thereof, and there prophesy by turns; . . . they flock in great multitudes to their Jordans, and both sexes enter into the river, and are dipt after their manner with a kind of spell, containing the heads of their erroneous tenets. . . , And as they defile our rivers with their impure washings, and our pulpits with their false prophecies and fanatical enthusiasms, so the presses sweat and groan under the load of their blasphemies.'
This gave rise to a Confession of Faith, on the part of seven London churches, with an Epistle Dedicatory to the two houses of Parliament. It appeared in 1644 (three years before the Westminster Confession), and again with some additions and changes in 1646, under the title, 'A Confession of Faith of Seven Congregations or Churches of Christ in London, which are commonly (but unjustly) called Anabaptists.'16351635 Printed in Underhill's Collection, pp. 11–48. The title-pages, which are all given by Underhill, slightly differ in the three editions of 1644, '46, and '51. I have before me a copy of the fourth ed., London, 1652, which has been for more than two hundred years in the family of the Rev. Dr. Holme, a Baptist clergyman of New York. It has the same title as the third ed., but, only fifty-one Articles; Art. XXXVIII., on the support of the ministry by the congregation, being omitted. This document consists of fifty-two (51) Articles, and shows that in all important doctrines and principles, except on the sacraments and Church government, the Baptists agreed with the orthodox Reformed Churches. The concluding paragraph admits the fallibility of human confessions, and the readiness of Baptists to receive further light, but also their determination 'to die a thousand deaths rather than do any thing against the least tittle of the truth of God, or against the light of our own consciences.'
III. The Confession of 1688. This is by far the most important and authoritative. It has superseded the two earlier confessions, and is to this day held in the highest esteem. It appeared first in 1677, at London, under the title, 'A Confession of Faith put forth by the Elders and Brethren of many congregations of Christians baptized upon profession of their faith.' It was reprinted in 1688, 1689, and approved and recommended by the ministers and messengers of above a hundred congregations met in London, July 3–11, 1689.16371637 The following certificate was prefixed: 'We, the ministers and messengers of, and concerned for, upwards of one hundred congregations in England and Wales, denying Arminianism, being met together in London, from the third day of the seventh month to the eleventh of the same, 1689, . . . have thought meet for the satisfaction of all other Christians that differ from us in the point of baptism, to recommend to their perusal the confession of our faith, . . . which confession we own, as containing the doctrine of our faith and practice; and do desire that the members of our churches respectively do furnish themselves therewith.' Signed by thirty-seven persons in the name of the whole assembly. It has been often reprinted.16381638 Editions of 1699, 1719, 1720, etc. An American ed. was issued by Benj. Franklin, and one at Pittsburgh (S. Williams), 1831. It is also reprinted by Crosby, Vol. III. Append. II. pp. 56–111; Underhill, pp. 169–246. 'It is still generally received by all those congregations that hold the doctrine of personal election and the certainty of the saints' final perseverance.'16391639 Dr. Angus. In America it was adopted by the Baptist Association which met in Philadelphia, Sept. 25, 1742, and hence is known also by the name of the Philadelphia Confession.
This Confession consists of thirty-two chapters, beginning with the holy Scriptures and ending with the last judgment. It is simply the Baptist recension of the Westminster Confession, as the Savoy Declaration is the Congregational recension of the same Westminster Confession. It follows the Westminster Confession in sentiment and language, with very few verbal alterations, except in the doctrine of the Church and the Sacraments. The Preface sets forth that the Confession of Westminster is retained in substance for the purpose of showing the agreement of the Baptists with the Presbyterians and Congregationalists 'in all the fundamental Articles of the Christian religion,' and also to convince all that they have 'no itch to clog religion with new words, but do readily acquiesce in that form of sound words which has been, in consent with the holy Scriptures, used by others before us; hereby declaring before God, angels, and men our hearty agreement with them in that wholesome Protestant doctrine which with so clear evidence of Scripture they have asserted.' The Appendix is a defense of the Baptist theory against Pædobaptists.
The Confession differs from that of the Westminster in the chapters on the Church and on the sacraments. It omits the chapter 'Of Church Censuses' (XXX.) and 'Of Synods and Councils.' The chapter 'Of the Church' (XXV.) is adapted to the independent polity; and the chapter 'Of Baptism' is altered to suit the Baptist theory, limiting the right of baptism to those 'who do actually profess repentance towards God, faith in and obedience to our Lord Jesus,' and declaring 'immersion or dipping of the person in water' to be 'necessary to the due administration of this ordinance' (XXIX.). A chapter, 'Of the Gospel and the Extent of Grace thereof,' is inserted from the Savoy Declaration as Ch. XX. (which causes the change of the numbering of the chapters which follow).16401640 See Vol. III. pp. 738 sqq.
IV. In 1693 a Catechism based on this Confession was drawn up by William Collins, at the request of the General Assembly which met at London in June of that year. It is taken chiefly from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and follows closely its order and method. It is also called 'Keach's Catechism.' Benjamin Keach was with Collins among the signers of the Confession of 1688, and seems to have had much to do with the work. It is the only Catechism which has found general acceptance among Baptists in England and America.16411641 Underhill says, p. xv.: 'It is the only Catechism of value among Baptists.' He gives it from the 16th Engl. ed., pp. 247–270, but says nothing of Keach's co-authorship, and ascribes to him another Catechism ('The Child's Instructor: a New and Easy Primer,' 24mo, 1664), for which he was imprisoned under Charles II. The American Baptist Publication Society publishes it under the title, 'The Baptist Catechism commonly called Keach's Catechism; or, A Brief Instruction in the Principles of the Christian Religion, agreeably to the Confession of Faith put forth by upwards of a hundred congregations in Great Britain, July 3, 1689, and adopted by the Philadelphia Baptist Association, Sept. 22, 1742.' Here the name of Collins is omitted. But the Catechism is literally the same as the one in Underhill's Collection.
During the seventeenth century there were also some private confessions written by John Bunyan, Vavasor Powell, Benjamin Keach, and Elias Keach.
V. The New Hampshire Confession was prepared about 1833 or 1834, by the Rev. J. Newton Brown, of New Hampshire (d. 1868), the editor of a 'Universal Cyclopædia of Religious Knowledge.' It is shorter and simpler than the Confession of 1688, and presents the Calvinistic system in a milder form. It has been accepted by the Baptists of New Hampshire and other Northern and Western States, and is now the most popular creed among American Baptists.16421642 It is printed in Vol. III. pp. 742 sqq.
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