THE BAPTIST CHURCH PERPETUITY LINE, OR LINES FROM
THE APOSTOLIC AGE TO THE PAULICIANS, AND
In the previous chapters of this book we have seen that there were Baptist churches in all the ages from the apostolic age to the seventeenth century. This we have seen demonstrated by the doctrine and the practice of the churches which we have examined. The doctrine and the practices of Baptists, from the seventeenth century to the present, being too well known to call for examination — save as to “who are the old Baptists” — as to the Perpetuity of Baptist churches, I now proceed to show the historical connection of the Baptist churches which the previous chapters have examined, †
Though the Perpetuity of Baptist churches is shown in the continuity of their doctrine and practice, and, thus, the purpose of this book accomplished, yet, to give the reader some conception of the abundance of proof sustaining the position, that Baptist churches have an existence from the time of Christ to the present, I will,…
† Every Baptist church is a complete church. No Baptist church is united to any other Baptist church by church organization. From the point of church organization no Baptist church is connected with any other Baptist church. Just as each man is as completely a man as if there were no other man in existence, so each Baptist church is as completely a church as if no other church existed. The only connection, therefore, that Baptist churches have to each other is that of likeness, spirit and mutual relation and obligation to their Lord and to His cause. Much confusion in examining Baptist Church Perpetuity grows out of the mind being prepossessed by the Romish doctrine of the church being made of all the congregation? and their hierarchy, all in one organization, and thus connected by outward organization. I mean only by historical connection of Baptist churches that they are connected by the bond of spiritual brotherhood and service to their Lord, by identity of doctrine and practice and by one being the production of another, as one college produces another, or as offspring is the production of parent.
…also, demonstrate Baptist Church Perpetuity from the connection which history shows that these churches sustained, to the first churches and to each other.
First. The historical relation of Montanists, Novatians and Donatists.
That Montanists, Novatians and Donatists, were in doctrine and practice, essentially identical, appears in the previous chapters.
Neander, says of Novatian: “His principles admit of so natural an explanation from the sternness of his Christian character, and he was acting in this case so entirely in the spirit of a whole party of the church in his time.”1
Robinson says: “They tax Novatian with being the parent of an innumerable multitude of congregations of Puritans all over the empire; and yet he had no other influence over any than what his good example gave him. People saw everywhere the same cause of complaint and groaned for relief, and when one man made a stand for virtue the crisis had arrived, people saw the propriety of the cure and applied the same means to their own relief. They blame this man and all these churches for the severity of their discipline; yet, this severe moral discipline, was the only coercion of the primitive churches, and it was the exercise of this, that rendered civil coercion unnecessary.”2
Moller: “Condemned in Rome, Montanism found a new home in North Africa and its most prominent representative Tertullian.”3 Naturally the Baptists, who were persecuted under the stigma of Montanists, found refuge in North Africa with their brethren who were…
1 Neander's Hist. Chr. Ch, vol. 1. p. 239.
2 Robinson's Eccl. Resh., p. 127.
3 Schaff Herzog Ency., vol. 2, p. 1582.
…stigmatized Donatists. The Montanists were so strong that Tertullian tells us the corrupt party felt inclined to recognize their claims in order for peace.”1
Says Adolph Harnack: “According to Philostorgius, Novatian was a native of Phrygia. Probably, however, this notion arose from the circumstance that he found many adherents in Phrygia; or, perhaps it was purposely manufactured in order to insinuate a connection between him and the Montanists.”2 Admit Novatian was a native of Phrygia, and we see in the admission his early Montanist education manifest after his conversion. Deny he was Phrygian, and we have in the denial the explanation of the cause of the extraordinary prosperity of Novatian on Phrygian soil, in that Montanism had educated the people there into Novatian belief and practice. Deny both, and we have the story as proving that Baptist enemies recognized Montanists and Novatians as really or essentially the same people. Harnack farther says of the Novatians:
“The schism gradually assumed very dangerous proportions, in the East, the views of Novatian finding many adherents in Egypt, Armenia, Pontus, Bithynia, Cappadocia, Syria, and Mesopotamia.”3
Hase says: Montanism was “an excitement which originated in Phrygia, and extended over all the churches of Asia Minor.''4
Of the locality where the Donatists controversy originated, in giving account of its rise, Guericke says: “In Northern Africa the fanatical spirit of Montanism had propagated itself here and there.”5
1 Schaff-Herzog Ency., vol. 2, p. 1562.
2 Idem, vol. 2, p. 1670.
3 Idem, vol. 2, p. 1671.
4 Hase's Hist. Chr. Ch., p. 66.
5 Guericke's Ch. Hist., vol. l, p. 278.
Prof. Geo. P. Fisher, says: “The controversy concerning church discipline, which had been maintained in the former period by the Novatians, was revived again by the Donatists.”1
Hase says of the Novatians: “They withdrew all fellowship from the Catholic church and rebaptized all who came from it to them. …In other countries also a similar uncertainty with respect to the true idea of a church and strict discipline produced similar divisions.”2
Of the Novatians, W. W. Everts, Jr., Says: “They extended throughout the Roman Empire, from Armenia to Numedia, in Spain. They were especially strong in Phrygia, where the Montanists fused with them, and in the great cities, Constantinople, Alexandria, Carthage, and Rome.”3
Gieseler, says of the Novatians: “This party was widely extended and continued for a long time. In Phrygia they united with the remnant of the Montanists.”4
Schaff, says of the Novatians: “In Phrygia it combined with the remnants of the Montanists.”5
Harnack, says: “After the Decian persecution, the church of the Cathari.” i. e. Novatians — and probably Donatists— “became consolidated. Many Montanist congregations joined it, especially in Phrygia.”6
From the statements of the historians, we see that Montanists and Novatians were “united” together in church fellowship, that they excluded the so-called Catholics instead of first being excluded themselves; and that instead of Novatian being the founder of the Novatians,…
1 Fisher's Hist. Chr. Ch., p. 109.
2 Base's Hist. Chr. Ch. p. 67
3 Baptist Layman's Book. p. 17.
4 Gleseler's Ch. Hist., vol. 1, p. 255; see also Socrates' Eccl. Hist., Book 4, Ch. 28.
5 Schaff's Hist. Chr. Ch. vol. 1, p. 451.
6 Schaff-Herzog Ency., vol. 2, p. 1672.
…he was only the leader of multitudes of churches which withdrew fellowship from the disorderly ones. The Donatists holding the same doctrine and practice that the Montanists and the Novatians held, and withdrawing fellowship from the corrupt part of the churches, on the same complaint on which the Montanists and Novations withdrew from it, and to a great extent, contemporaneous and occupying the same territory with them, could but have been in church fellowship with them. While, like American and foreign Baptists, they may have possibly differed in minor matters, they were evidently the same people.
Second. The Montanists, the Novatians and the Donatists perpetuated in the Paulicians.
Says Schaff: “A remnant of the Donatists, as we learn from the letters of Gregory II, perpetuated itself into the seventh century.”1
Hase says: They “struggled and suffered on till some time in the seventh century, and had shown the prodigious power which even a mistaken faith may exert over sincere, vigorous and gloomy dispositions.”2
Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia: “They had not become extinct when in the seventh century the Saracens occupied the territory and destroyed the African church.”3
Guericke: “Relics of this great party continued to exist until about the year 600, evincing even in their
fragments the power of a mistaken belief, and the wrongs of ecclesiastical, civil persecution.”4
Of Africa, A. D. 427, Wadington says: “When it was discovered by Belisarius, more than a hundred…
1 Schaff's Hist. Chr. Ch., vol. 2, p. 365.
2 Hase's Hist. Chr. Ch., p. 158.
3 Vol. 1, p. 660.
4 Guericke's Ch. Hist., vol. l, p. 283.
…years afterwards, after 427, the sect of the Donatists was still found to exist there as a separate communion. …We are told that it dwindled into insignificance about the end of the sixth century, bid it is not improbable that the Saracen invaders of Numidia found them some few years later, the remnant of a sect not ill disposed to favor any invader, nor unmindful of the sufferings of their ancestors.”1
The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia says: “In the fifth century the Novatians had …many churches …the party lived on until the sixth or seventh century.”2
Kurtz says: “Owing to the moral earnestness of their principles, even those bishops who took a different view from theirs were disposed to regard them more favorably; and almost throughout the Roman Empire Novation communities sprang up, of which remnants existed as late as the sixth century.”3 Socrates, in his Ecclesiastical History tells us of many Novatian churches existing in Rome
in the fifth century. Books V, section XIV; VII, sections IX and XIV. “Many of whose churches;” “their assemblies within the city” are some of the phrases which Socrates uses of the Donatists.
Wadington: “They subsisted until the fifth century throughout Christendom.”4
Schaff says: “In spite of strong opposition the Novatian sect, by virtue of its moral earnestness, propagated itself in various provinces of the West and East to the fifth century.”5
1 Wadington's Ch. Hist., p. 153.
2 Vol. 2, p. 1672.
8 Kurtz's Ch. Hist., vol. 1, pp. 134, 135.
4 Wadington's Ch. Hist., p. 79.
5 Schaff's Hist. Chr. Ch., vol. 1, p. 451.
Of the Montanists Kurtz says: “Still the sect of the Tertullianists continued in Africa for a long time.”1
Guericke: “The Montanists maintained themselves as a distinct sect down to the sixth century, bearing beside their usual names the names of Cataphrygians, Pepuzians and many other names of local or contemptuous signification.”2
Gieseler says: “The Montanists in Asia continued down to the tenth century.3
Thus we see that the Montanists, the Novatians and the Donatists were not only identical in doctrine, practice and the complaint on which they excluded the so-called Catholics from their church fellowship, but that they were seen. in. church fellowship with each other, taking and being known by the same name or names.
To believe that a people of such “moral earnestness,” of such unconquerable, unflagging and propagating zeal, of such vast numbers and occupying almost universal territory, and with God on their side against a false church, ceased to exist as the distinguishing names by which they were known in their early history drop from history — saying nothing of God's promises to his church — is certainly far more difficult than to believe that they were perpetuated under other names. In the case of the Anabaptists losing their name in the names Mennonite and Baptist and the various Baptist bodies, in the history of the Baptists of the United States, merging into but one body and afterwards known by but one name, we have illustrated the historical tendency which we should expect to often see operating in the Baptists of the remotely past ages. We have just seen, by the testimony of…
1 Kurtz's Chr. Hist., vol. l, p. 133.
2 Guericke's Ch. Hist., p. 192.
3 Gleseler's Ch. Hist., vol. l, pp. 143-144.
Guericke, that the Montanists, before the name Paulician appears, were given the names “Cataphrygians, Pepuzians and many other names of a local or contemptuous signification,” Throughout the history of the various Baptist bodies which church historians in deference to the Romish church, call “sects” and “heretics” and which Revelation calls the “Mother of Harlots,” we see them all given names, from their localities, their leaders and other things connected with their history. Thus, though as old as the Christian age, from Montanus, their first great leader, after the first century, called “Montanists,” from Tertullian, their next great leader, “Tertullianists,” from Novatian, another great leader, “Novations,” from Donatus, another great leader, “Donatists;” from Waldo, another great leader, and the valleys, “Waldenses,” from Peter de Bruis, another great leader, “Petrobrussians;” from Henry, another great leader, “Henricians;” from Arnold, another great leader, “Arnoldists;” from Meno, another great leader, “Mennonites.” In the seventh century, when the names Montanists, Novatians and Donatists are retiring from historical view appears the name Paulician. This name appears in its application to churches which in doctrine and practice — see previous chapters — were essentially identical with the Montanists, the Novatians and the Donatists, which names are here dropped out of history. It appears in application to churches which occupied the same territory which these occupied. The name Paulician appears when Montanists, Novatians and Donatists, instead of being extinct, must have numbered many hundred thousands of members. This, therefore, forms so strong a presumption that Paulicians were only Montanists, Novatians and Donatists, under another name, that, in the absence of any clear historical evidence to the contrary, we must conclude that Paulician is but a new label for the good old wine. The name is as strong contrary evidence as can be produced. But we have just seen that names originate from so many things which do not effect the identity of these churches that they are of no evidence as to their origin or identity.
(The reader here turn to and read the first part of Chapter XI of this book.)
The following, from Neander, illustrates the great and significant uncertainty and confusion in which all who claim the Paulicians were of post-apostolic origin are involved: “It is an hypothesis of both the authors to whom we are indebted for the most important information which we possess respecting this sect, though neglected by all succeeding writers, that this sect was an offshoot of Manichaeism; and that it took its origin from a woman, Callinice by name, who lived in the district of Samosata, somewhere about the fourth century, and whose two sons, Paul and John, were considered as the founders of the sect. From the former of these, it is said, moreover, that the sect took its name; and it was the opinion of one party that the name Paulicians was derived from a combination of the names of both founders, in the form πаνλοιωáννаι. But we have strong reason for doubting the whole account.”1 This Neander rejects, and Gieseler calls it a “ later Catholic fiction …given to them on account of the high value they attached to Paul.” Rejecting this early Romish explanation of the origin of the Paulicians, Neander, Gieseler, Kurtz and others fall back on Constantine, of the neighborhood of Samosata, about A. D. 660, as the Paulician founder. But in view of what we have seen, as to the disappearance of the…
1 Neander's Hist. Chr. Ch., vol. 8, p. 244.
2 Gleseler's Ch. Hist., vol. 2, p. 21.
…names Montanists, Novations and Donatists from view and the great power of the Paulicians immediately after this assumed origin, this explanation of the origin of the Paulicians must be rejected as being as utterly groundless as the Romish explanation, for which it is the substitute.
Others, seeing the groundlessness of either of the two just now mentioned explanations of the origin of the Paulicians, resort to the equally groundless hypothesis that they were originated by an “Armenian named Paul, who lived under Justinian II” — near a century before Constantine of Samosata.1
But Wadington, having little or no confidence in any of these explanations of the origin of the Paulicians, and attempting to make none of his own, says: “The origin of these heretics have been the subject of much controversy ; for while some suppose their errors to have been indigenous in Europe, there are some who derive them in a direct line from the heart of Asia.”2
Rejecting as groundless and as destructive to each other all the explanations of the origin of the Paulicians which would make them of human and of post-apostolic origin, the laws of evidence demand that we see the Paulicians but the perpetuity of Montanists, Novatians and Donatists. Only this interpretation of the facts of the disappearance from history of the names Montanists, Novatians and Donatists, when in great numbers and in the same territory † where the name Paulicians came into use as designating, at first, a powerful body of Christians,…
† Harnack says of the Novatians: “In the East, however, the party lived until the sixth or seventh century.”— Schaff-Herzog Ency., vol. 2, p. 1672 And Wadington speaks of “Armenia the province of “ the Paulician “birth” -Wadington's Ch. Hist., p. 478; Fisher's Hist. Chr. Ch., p. 162. We have seen that the Montanists, the Novatians and the Donatists numbered their converts “ throughout the Roman Empire.”
1 Universal Knowledge, vol: 11, p. 39.
2 Wadington's Ch. Hist., p. 289.
…of like faith and practice to that of the Montanists, the Novatians and the Donatists, can be made to conform to the facts of history. With this explanation of the Paulician origin we readily account for the disappearance of the Montanists, the Novatians and the Donatists “and the appearance of the Paulicians. Thus we have the true explanation of Guericke's statement, that this “remarkable sect” arose “out of old elements of a preceding time.”1 Instead of making Constantine the founder of the Paulicians, Guericke recognizes him as the great leader: “It is historically certain that some time after the middle of the seventh century the Paulicians had for an able leader a man named Constantine.”2
The statement of Robinson — a historian of extensive and original research — covers the disappearance of the names Montanists, Novatians, Donatists, Paulicians and other names by which the same churches were known from the second century to the Reformation. Speaking of the Novatians, he says: “When penal laws obliged them to lurk in corners and worship God in private, they were distinguished by a variety of names, and a succession of them continued until the Reformation.”3*
* The Campbellite, plea that names indicate Scriptural or un-scriptural character, and that perpetuity must be traced by names, has no basis in reason, history or Scripture.
1 Guericke's Ch. Hist., vol. 2, p. 76.
2 Idem, p. 78.
3 Robinson's Eccl. Resh., pp. 126, 127.