ST. PATRICK A BAPTIST
The following summarizes the facts as to St. Patrick, and proves he was a Baptist: †
The year of St. Patrick's birth is variously assigned to the years 377 and 387, the latter being the more probable date. His original name is said to have been Succat Patricus, being the Roman appelative by which he was known. The exact place of his birth is uncertain. It was somewhere in Britain. In the sixteenth year of his age, while on his father's farm, with a number of others, he was seized and carried by a band of pirates into Ireland, and there sold to a petty chief. In his service he remained six years. At the expiration of this time he succeeded in escaping. He was “brought up in a Christian family in Britain, and the truth which saved him when a youthful slave in pagan Ireland was taught him in the godly home of Deacon Calpurnius, his father, and in the church of which he was a member and officer.” On his escape from Ireland he was twenty-one years of age. Being a stronger Christian the Lord soon called him back to Ireland as the missionary for that blinded country. About this time, or before it, a missionary named Coleman, established a church in Ireland. Some think that “in the south of Ireland, from some very…
† The recent volume, “The Ancient British and Irish churches, including the Life and Labors of St. Patrick,” by William Catchcart, D. D., so ably and fully treats this subject that I give it but a brief notice. Any one wanting more on it send to the American Baptist Publication Society, $1.50 for Dr. Catchcart's work.
…remote period,” “Christian congregations had existed.” Usher puts Patrick's death at A. D. 493 — making his life a long and useful life, and his age, at the time of his death, over one hundred years. The Bellandists make his death earlier — A. D. 460. Dr. Todd inclines to Usher's date. According to accounts of his Irish biographers, he, with his own hands, baptized 12,000 persons and founded 365 churches.
Within the last few years antiquarian scholars have succeeded in stripping his history of much of the Romish fables. The more this has been done, the more he stands out as a Baptist.
Among others I mention the following points of history:
1. At the time of St. Patrick the Romish church was only en embryo.
2. In St. Patrick's time the authority of the bishop of Rome was not generally recognized.
3. There is no history to sustain the Romish claim that Patrick was sent to Ireland by “Pope Celistine.” (1.) Bede never mentions it. (2.) Patrick never mentions it. (3.) Facts are against the claim. (4.) Throughout his life Patrick acted wholly independent of Rome. †
4. Patrick was a Baptist.
† Neander says: “If Patrick came to Ireland as a deputy from Rome, it might naturally be expected that in the Irish church a certain sense of dependence would always have been preserved towards the mother church. But we find, on the contrary, in the Irish church a spirit of church freedom, similar to that in Britain, which struggled against the yoke of Roman ordinances. We find subsequently among the Irish a much greater agreement with the ancient British than with Roman ecclesiastical usages. This goes to prove that the origin of the church was Independent of Rome, and must be traced solely to the people of Britain. …Again, no indication of his connection with the Romish church Is to be found In his confession; rather everything seems to favor the supposition that he was ordained bishop in Britain Itself.” — Neander's History Christian Church, vol. 2, p. 123. An anonymous Irish scholar says: “Leo II. was bishop of Rome from 440 to 461, A. D. and upwards of one hundred and forty of his letters to correspondents in all parts of Christendom still remain, and yet he never mentions Patrick or his work or in any way intimates that he knew of the great work being done there. The Council or Chalons-sur-Saone, held A. D. 813, resolved not to admit the presbyters and deacons admitted by the Irish church to the ministry. The Council of Celeyth, held in England in 816, A. D., adopted a still more sweeping resolution. The Anglician fathers decreed that none should receive even baptism or the eucharist from Irish clergymen, because, said they, we cannot tell by whom they have been ordained, or whether they have been ordained at all. We know that it is enjoined in the canons, that no bishop or presbyter should attempt to enter another parish without the consent of its own bishop. So much the more is it to be condemned to accept the ministrations of religion from those of other nations who have no order of metropolitans and who have no regard for such functionaries. When the pope sent Palladius to Ireland lo establish there a hierarchy. Patrick refused to recognize him, and in the Laebhar Braec (published in Dublin, 1874-5,) the best and oldest Irish manuscript relating to the ecclesiastical history of the Island, it is recorded that Palladius was sent by Pope Celestine with a gospel for Patrick to preach to the Irish. “It suggests that the representative of the pope was seeking to enter into another man's labors, and to reap the fruits of a field which a more skillful workman had already cultivated. Christianity had ere this taken root in the island, and Celestine sent Palladius to found a hierarchy devoted to the papal interests. The stranger sought to conciliate the Irish missionary. …But the attempt proved a signal failure and Palladius, after a short residence, was obliged to take his departure. Overwhelmed with disappointment, he embarked to North Britain, where not long afterwards, he died with a fever.'” See also “Ancient British and Irish. Churches,” pp. 176-177.
(1.) He baptized only professed believers. (2.) He baptized by only immersion. In a former chapter has been proved that the ancient Britons were Baptists. Dr. Catchcart says: “There is absolutely no evidence that any baptism but that of immersion of adult believers existed among the ancient Britons, in the first half of the fifth century, nor for a long time afterwards.”1 In St. Patrick's “letter to Crocius” lie describes some of the persons whom he immersed as “baptized captives,” baptized handmaidens of Christ, “baptized women distributed as rewards” and then as “baptized believers.”2 “Patrick baptized Enda, and he offered his son, Cormac, [to Patrick] who was born the night before, together with the ninth ridge of the land.”3 If Patrick had been a Pedobaptist he surely would have baptized this infant. As well claim the “ridge” was here offered for baptism as to claim the child was offered for it. (3.) In church government St. Patrick was a Baptist. Though this appears in the note to this (the previous) page, I will add proof to it.
1 Ancient British and Irish churches, p. 60.
2 Idem, p. 152.
3 Idem, p. 153.
“ Patrick founded 365 churches and consecrated the same number of bishops, and ordained 3,000 presbyters.”1 “Stillingfleet refers to an account of a great council of Brevy, Wales, taken from the manuscript of Urecht which represents one hundred and eighteen bishops at its deliberations.”2 Considering that this great number of bishops of this little island greatly exceeds the number of bishops of any Episcopal organization outside of the Romish or the Greek church, has throughout the world if St. Patrick's church was not Baptist, but Romish his church must have come near going to seed — in bishops. No wonder that Bishop Stillingfleet attempts to throw doubt at. the number of bishops at the Council of Brevy, “though he admits that Colgan defends the large representation of bishops.”3 Dr. Catchcart, says: “If we take the testimony of Nennius, St. Patrick placed a bishop in every church which he founded; and several presbyters after the example of the New Testament churches. Nor was the great number of bishops peculiar to St. Patrick's time; in the twelfth century St. Bernard tells us that in Ireland 'bishops are multiplied and changed almost every church had a bishop.' …Prof. George T. Stokes declares that prior to the synod of Rathbresail, in A. D. 1112, 'Episcopacy had been the rule of the Irish church; but dioceses and diocesan episcopacy had no existence at all.' 'Scotland,' as Collier relates, 'in the ninth century was not divided into dioceses, but all the Scottish bishops had their jurisdiction as it were at large and exercised their function wherever they came. And this continued to the reign of Malcom III,' who was…
1 Ancient British and Irish churches, p. 282; Universal Knowledge, vol. 2,p. 28.
2 Ancient British and Irish churches, p. 281.
3 Ancient British and Irish Churches, p. 282; Smith's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, vol. 2, p. 1270.
…crowned in A. D. 1057. When Collier speaks of jurisdiction, we must remember they had no jurisdiction in the proper sense; the early Scottish bishops were like their brethren in Ireland, without dioceses and without jurisdiction. Eminent writers like Dr. Todd, of Trinity College, Dublin, freely assert this.”1
Dr. Carew, of Maynooth, in his ecclesiastical history of Ireland — perhaps unwittingly — admits that a bishop was simply the pastor of one congregation: “In effect the system which the Irish church adopted with regard to Episcopal Sees, was entirely similar to that which was followed in these churches which were founded immediately after the times of the Apostles. According to this system every town where the converts were numbered, was honored by the appointment of a bishop, who resided permanently here and devoted his pastoral solicitude exclusively to the care of the inhabitants. This ancient usage the fathers of the Council of Sardicia thought it necessary to modify. To maintain the respectability of the Episcopal elder, the Council ordered that, for the time to come, bishops should take up their residence in the most important towns.”2 (4.) In independence of creeds, councils, popes and bishops Patrick was a Baptist. “Patrick recognized no authority in creeds, however venerable, nor in councils, though composed of several hundred of the highest ecclesiastics, and many of the most saintly men alive. He never quotes any canons and he never took part in making any, notwithstanding the pretended canons of forgers.”3 (5.) In doctrine Patrick was a Baptist. He says Christ who “gave his life for thee is He who speaks…
1 Ancient British and Irish Churches; 282; Smith's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, vol. 2, p. 1270.
2 Quoted by “ An American Irish Baptist.”
3 Ancient British and Irish Churches, p. 159.
…to thee.” He has poured out upon us abundantly the Holy Spirit, the gift and assurance of immortality, who CAUSES men to believe and become obedient that they might be the sons of God and joint heirs with Christ.”1
Comgall, of Bangor, Ireland, in the sixth century writes: “Religion does not consist in bodily * efforts, but in humility of heart.” It is stated by Muirchu that when Patrick appeared before his distinguished assembly Dubthac, the chief poet, alone among the Gentiles arose in his honor; and “first on that day † believed in God and it was imputed to him for righteousness.”2 (6.) The Supper was taken, as among all Protestants, in both kinds. “Loeghaire, king of Ireland in Patrick's time, had two daughters converted under his instructions. When they asked Patrick 'to see Christ's face,' (as they had previously seen their idols) he said to them: 'Ye cannot see Christ unless you first taste of death, or unless you receive Christ's body and his blood'” — both elements.3 (7.) Instead of Patrick believing in transubstantiation, Dr. Catchcart says: “In all the descriptions of the Eucharist quoted there is no evidence that it is the God of glory in every particle of its consecrated bread and wine.”4 (8.) In the later or Romish meaning of the term, there is no indication of Monastacism in Patrick's writing or in the history of the first Irish church. “Monastacism, in the proper sense of the word, cannot be traced beyond the fourth century.”5 Catchcart: “It is difficult to fix the date when the first monastery was…
* This excludes all kinds of penances.
† This excludes baptism, and all others works as saving.
1 Ancient British and Irish Churches, pp. 315-316.
2 Idem, p. 318.
3 Idem, p. 322.
4 The Ancient British and Irish Churches, p. 322.
5 Smith's Dictionary Christian Antiquities, vol. 2, p. 1219.
…established in Ireland. It is certain that Patrick was long in his grave before it took place. …Bangor, in Ireland, was founded by Comgall. Bingham states that it was about A. D. 520, and this date is apparently the true one. He informs us that it was the most ancient monastery in Ireland, as the famous monastery of Bangor was the oldest in Britain.1 “The monks are frequently termed 'the philosophers' and the monastery their 'school of thought.'”2 “The monastery was often a nursery or training college for the clergy. …The illiterate clergy looks naturally to the nearest monastery for help in the composition of sermons.”3 Neander says: “The Irish monasteries were still the seats of science and art, whence, for a longtime afterwards …teachers in the sciences and useful arts scattered themselves in all directions, …In the Irish monasteries not only the Latin but also the free spirited Greek fathers, the writings of an Origin were studied; so it naturally came about that from that school issued a more original and free development of theology than was elsewhere to be found, and was thence propagated to other lands.”4
Catchcart says: “Marriage probably existed, not in, but in connection with, most of the British and Irish monasteries. We see no reason to doubt the statement of Michelet, that 'the Culdees of Ireland and Scotland permitted themselves marriage, and were independent, even when living under the rule of their order.' But the mania that celibacy possessed soon spread over the world, and many of St. Patrick's religious, Bible-loving descendants were caught in its delusive snare.”5
1 The Ancient British and Irish Churches, p. 292.
2 Smith's Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, vol. 1219.
3 Idem, p. 1225.
4 Neander's History Christian Church, vol. 3, pp. 460-461.
5 The Ancient British and Irish Churches, p. 311.
Guericke: “From the Irish cloisters missionaries went out into various regions and particularly to the Picts in Scotland.”1
Thus, first, Irish monasteries were originated after Patrick's death; second, even then exclusive celibacy in them was not their first rule; third, in their earliest history these monasteries differed but little from our educational institutions.
Thus, in only believer's baptism; in only immersion; in church government; in salvation by only the blood; in justification by faith only; in rejecting penance; in knowing nothing of transubstantiation; in giving both the bread and the wine to the laity; in being independent of Rome, St. Patrick was a Baptist and the first Irish churches were Baptist churches. To this may be added: St. Patrick and the first Irish churches knew nothing of priestly confession and priestly forgiveness; of extreme unction; of worship of images; of worship of Mary; of the intercession of Mary or of any departed saint; of purgatory; of persecution of opposers of the church — nothing of any of the Romish distinguishing peculiarities.
Were Patrick not turned to dust, and were the body able to hear and turn, he would turn over in his coffin at the disgrace on his memory from the Romish church claiming him as a Roman Catholic.
1 Guericke's Church History, p. 262; Kurtz's Church History, vol. 1, p. 298; Lecky's History European Morals, vol. 2, p. 261; Smith's Dictionary Christian Antiquities, vol. 2, p. 1270.