SECTION XII : GERMAN AND DUTCH BAPTISTS.
"As concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against." —Acts xxviii. 22.
1. THAT vast tract of land, called by the Romans Germany, extended one way from the North Sea to the banks of the Danube, and the other from Gaul to the Maeotick lake. This immense tract of forests and mountains, rivers, marshes, and plains, the limits of which cannot be exactly defined, was inhabited by a great number of different tribes, having a general likeness, but divided into several nations, in different degrees of civilization, and distinguished by different names. They were a people of large stature, fair complexion, blue eyes and red hair. At early ages they had a simple sort of patriarchal worship; but this degenerated into idolatry, and a savage character ensued. They sent out immense multitudes on all sides to obtain settlements and support for their rising posterity, so that Germany appears, at that period, as a kind of storehouse of nations. It would be impossible to enumerate the German tribes, they are THE FATHERS of all Europe; for from this immense territory, as from a hive, they swarmed and colonized, and overspread half the 30 world. In the life-time of our Redeemer, the Goths were enthusiasts for liberty in their own forests. This love of freedom was cherished in the migratory tribes, and was found to characterize those Goths who took up their abode in Spain; the descendants of which people inhabited the foot of the Pyrenees and were afterwards called Vaudois.*
2. It is highly probable, that the gospel was preached 60 to these people by the apostles, since it is absolutely certain that the Goths professed Christianity several centuries before their kings became Catholics. They retained their natural love of freedom, and consequently divided, at after periods, into various religious sentiments, having no national standard of faith, nor any legal civil coercion for conscience. The catholics all 200 through this early period, called them Anabaptists, heretics, and not Christians.† In the third 250 century, the gospel was preached and churches existed at cologne, Treves, Metz, and in other places, o We have no means of knowing whether the Novatianists in their itinerancy visited these kingdoms or not. Those who represent the German tribes as barbarous 320 at this period offer a cruel insult to the memory of a brave and generous people, and contradict…
* Gib. Hist., vol. i. p. 317. Robins. Res., pp. 153, 154, 199, 315, 393.
† Robinson's Res., pp. 199, 315.
o Mosh. Hist., vol. i. p. 192.
…those historians who lived among them. In their religious discipline, they considered soundness of faith essential to 409 the ordinances, yet they tolerated all others in their religious exercises. The Arian views at an early period had extensive encouragement among the Gothic tribes.
Though the German nation was divided by various denominations, yet they all agreed in one point. They baptized none without previous instruction, but such they baptized at any time. They also re-baptized all who had been baptized among Catholics, before they could be received into their churches; and for this reason were called Anabaptists. These views on the ordinance embraced by the Germans, regulated their conduct in their religious societies wherever they formed a colony among other people; as may be traced in Spain, Lombardy, Africa, Italy, and France.* Mezeray, the French historian, says, the Burgundians, a people of Germany who had received the 430 Christian faith, visited France so early as 430, and obtained a settlement at Vienne and Lyons.
3. The freedom of religious ordinances in Germany being destroyed by Charles the Great, makes it necessary that we should digress. Cyprian, Austin, and Innocent used every means to comprehend all infants in the Christian Church by baptism, on account of original sin; but these proved successful only where the mental and moral character was degenerated from apostolic simplicity. In 517, a canon was made by seven bishops at Girona, in Spain, enjoining baptism for babes if they would not suck their mother's breasts; and in which…
* Id., pp. 99, 167, 199, 393.
…cases of danger, Gregory, the pope, allowed one immersion 789 to be valid baptism. In 789, Charles the Great resolved to subdue the Saxons or destroy them, unless they accepted of life on the condition of professing the Christian religion agreeably to the Roman ritual. On pain of death the Saxons, with their infant offspring, were to receive baptism. Germany in time was subdued, and religious liberty destroyed. The king took an oath of fidelity of them and received pledges for the fulfillment of his stipulations.* In this way the religious privileges of these and other nations were infringed on, and by these and similar means Christianity under state patronage, made rapid progress for ages, as detailed in the works of hierarchists. To make the conversion of these people accord with the gospel record, apostles were sent to them, but the Germans were exceedingly jealous of such binaries commissioned ministers of religion. These apostles of Rome preached up trine immersion, but said nothing of infants. Success attended the imperial commands; other kingdoms were visited in virtue of the same authority, and converted from fear of the carnal weapon. The evidence of their complete conversion was made apparent by their baptism. Wooden tubs and other utensils were placed in the open air, and the new converts with their children were immersed naked into the profession of Christianity. This indelicacy in the mode originated with the advocates of minor baptism as already shown: it has never been practised in Baptist communities. This mandate of Charles is the first legal authority for infant baptism, † and we ask if the mental character must not have…
* Mezeray's Fr. Hist., p. 103.
†Robins. Hist. Bap., pp. 268, 282, &c.
…been exceedingly low, to enforce such terms of denudation on the female portion of candidates? We repudiate the charge, and leave the blot on those who were guilty of the practice.*
4. The wilds and forests of Germany would prove asylums to dissenters through the rise and assumption of the man of sin. That Germany was inhabited by persons of this description is evident, and that such persons must have been very active in disseminating the truth becomes plain, since it is recorded that the Baptist itinerant preachers, could in their travels pass, during the ninth century, 850 through the whole German empire, and lodge every night at the house of one of their friends, † It is very probable these traveling ministers were Paulicians or Faterines from Bulgaria or Italy. They were termed by Catholics anabaptist preachers, o Their sentiments of religion are learned, and their views of the ordinances proved, from their confession of faith, which asserts, "In the beginning of Christianity there was no baptizing of children; and their forefathers practised no such thing:" and "We do from our hearts acknowledge that baptism is a washing, which is performed with water, and doth hold 1024 out the washing of the soul from sin." S In 1024, a company of men out of Italy visited and traveled through whole provinces preaching the gospel, and were exceedingly successful in enlightening many and drawing them from the catholic cause. These disciples…
* Wall's Hist., vol. ii., p. 379, and Bap. Mag., vol. i, p., 435, from Vossius.
† Mosh. Hist, vol. ii. p. 224. Twisk's Chro., lib. 13, p. 546. dark's Martyr, p. 76, &c. Gillie's Historical Collection, vol. i. p. 32. Bap. Mag., vol. i. p. 454.
o Robins. Res., pp. 467, 513.
S Meming in Meringus' His. of Bap., pt. 2, p. 738. Junius, p. 77.
….of Gundulphus have been referred to, where we proved they disallowed of infant baptism.* It is allowed by Mosheim, that many dissenters of the Paulician character, in this century, led a wandering life in Germany, where they were called Gazari, i. e.. Puritans. These good men grounded their plea for religious freedom on Scripture, and were called brethren and sisters of the free Spirit, while their animated devotion gained them the name of Beghards.† When this term first sprung up in Germany, it was used to designate a person devout in prayer: at after periods it was used to point out all those communities which were distinct from Rome, and thus in time it was given to persons who only had the garb of religion.o Twisk, upon the 1100 year 110, asserts that the Waldenses did practice believers' baptism, S We have, under 1140 date 1140, a written by Evervimus, of Stainfield, in the diocese of Cologne, in Germany, to Bernard, Abbot of Clairval, wherein he speaks to the following effect: There have been some heretics lately discovered here which after conference, and not being able to recover them, they were committed to the flames, which they bore with astonishing patience, and even joy. Their heresy is this: they say the church is among them, because they only follow the steps of Christ, and continue in the true imitation of the true apostolic life, not seeking the things of the world, possessing neither house, lands, nor any property, nor did he give his disciples leave to possess anything. * * * We the poor of Christ, who have no certain abode, fleeing from one city to…
* Jortins' Ecc. Rem., vol. v. p. 27.
†Ecc. Hist., vol. ii. p. 224, &c.
o Ecc. Hist. Cent. 13, c. 5, S 40.
S Chro. lib. 11, p. 423.
…another, like sheep in the midst of wolves, do endure persecution with the apostles and martyrs. They say much on the baptism of the Holy Ghost which they support from scripture. They call themselves elect, and say, every elect have power to baptize others whom they find worthy, but they contemn our baptism * * * and give their ordinance to those only who are come to age, as they do not believe in infant baptism.* "I must," says the writer, "inform you also, that those of them who have returned to our church, tell us that they had great numbers of their persuasion scattered almost everywhere; and as for those who were burnt, they, in the defence they made of themselves, told us that this heresy had been concealed from the time of the martyrs; and that it had existed in Greece (among the Paulicians) and other countries." Bernard was exceedingly offended with these Baptists for deriding the Catholics because they baptized infants, prayed for the dead, and maintained a state of purgatory, &c.†
1170 5. The severity of the Pontiff's measures adopted against Peter Waldo, constrained him to leave Lyons, with a valuable portion of its inhabitants, for other kingdoms. For some time he continued to publish the gospel with great success, through Dauphiny, Picardy, and various parts of the German states, concluding 1180 labor of twenty years in a province of Bohemia, o At Salt and Lun, as before observed, mention is made by Crantz of a colony of Waldenses settling. S The followers of Waldo visited many kingdoms with the New Testament translation, while some of…
* Allix's Ch. Pied., c. 16, pp. 140—143.
† Jones's Led, vol. ii. p. 247.
oLon. Ency., Art. Reform.
S Robins. Res., pp. 479, 527.
…this persuasion settled in the Netherlands.* These emigrants, coming from Picardy into Bohemia and Germany, were commonly called PICARDS by catholics and historians. † Of their views on Justification we have already enlarged in the Bohemian section. Wherever these people went, they sowed the seeds of reformation. The countenance and blessing of heaven attended their labors, not only in the places where Waldo had labored, but in more distant regions. In Alsace, and along the Rhine, these doctrines spread extensively. Persecution ensued; thirty-five citizens of Mentz were consumed to ashes in one fire, in the city of Bingen, and eighteen in Mentz itself. The bishops of Mentz and Strasburg breathed nothing but vengeance and slaughter against them, and at the latter city, where Waldo himself is said to have narrowly escaped apprehension, eighty persons were committed to the flames. Multitudes died praising God, and in the confident hope of a blessed resurrection. But the blood of the martyrs became the seed of the church: and in Bulgaria, Croatia, Dalmatia, and Hungary, churches were planted principally from the labors of one Bartholomew, of Carcassonne, which societies flourished throughout the thirteenth century. o
6. Whatever injury the society sustained by persecution, must have been in some measure repaired by a corresponding class coming into Germany out of Italy in the early 1210 part of the thirteenth century. These baptists, with others who had previously settled, became known by the appellation of brethren of the free Spirit, or Beghards. It was no uncommon thing, in those…
* Bap. Mag., vol. xiv., p. 51.
†Clark's Martyr, p. 76.
o Jones's Lect., vol. ii., p. 238.
…dark times, to reproach persons for their devotional conduct, as Massalians, Euchites, Bogomites, and Beghards, meaning "persons of prayer," which, in our view, confers on such persons the need of praise. These accessions from Italy, with numbers of the Albigenses who escaped the sword and flames in Languedoc, taking refuge in Germany, will account for the prominency of the Beghards in the histories of those times, and the establishment of their reputation at this period.* They first appeared as a religious body so early as the eleventh century, probably from the labors of those men already mentioned, 1025, out of Italy; but came more particularly into reputation during this century. "Their primitive establishment," says Mosheim, "was undoubtedly the effect of virtuous dispositions and upright intentions. A certain number of pious women, both virgins and widows, in order to maintain their integrity, and preserve their principles from the contagion of a vicious and corrupt age, formed themselves into societies, each of which had a fixed place of residence, and was under the inspection and government of a female head. Here they divided their time between exercises of devotion, and works of honest industry; reserving to themselves the liberty of entering into a state of matrimony, or quitting the establishment, whenever they thought proper. All those who made extraordinary professions of piety and devotion were called Beguines. The first society of this kind, of which any account exists, was formed in the 1226 beginning of this country, and was followed by so many institutions of a like nature in France, Germany, Flanders and Holland, that, towards the middle…
*Mosh. Hist., vol. ii., p. 299, and Robins. Res., p. 516.
…of this century, there was scarcely a city of any note which had not its beguinage or vineyard. Cant. viii. 12. Ps. lxxx. 15. This example of the women was followed by corresponding institutions for men, and these pious persons were, in the style of the age, called Beghards and Beguines, and, by a corruption of that term usual among the Flemish and Dutch, Bogards; but from others, at an after period, they were denominated Lollards. The hours not appropriated to devotion among the Beguines, were employed in weaving, embroidering, and other manual labors of various kinds. The poor, the sick, and disabled among them, were supported by the pious liberality of such opulent persons as were friendly to the order. The same religious views and purposes were adopted by the different establishments of men and women.*
7. We shall now exhibit our claim to these pious Waldenses, so far as it respects the ordinance. We own their religious views are not fully known. They thought Christianity wanted no comment but a pious walk; and they professed their belief of that by being baptized, and their love to Christ and one another by receiving the Lord's Supper. † Jacob Merning says that he had, in the German tongue, a confession of faith of the Baptists, called Waldenses; which declared the absence of infant baptism in the early churches of these people, that their forefathers practised no such thing, and that people of this faith and practice made a prodigious spread through Poland (yea, Poland was filled with themo), Lombardy, Germany, and…
* Mosh. Hist., vol. ii, p. 400, note, and De Beghardis et Beguinabus Corn. Rob. Res., pp. 532. &c.
† Rob. Res., p. 527.
oId. p. 557.
…Holland.* These people re-baptized such as joined their churches, as the Waldenses had done in early ages;† and though a law was made against the Picards for re-baptizing, yet they suffered burning in the hand, and banishment, rather than forego what they considered their duty.o Dr. Wall, who is a candid opponent, says, the Beghards were also called Picards or Pighards. They spread themselves over the great territory of Upper Germany; they abominated popery; they chose their pastors from among married men; they mutually called one another brother and sister; they owned no other authority than the Scriptures; they slighted all the doctors, both ancient and modem; their ministers wore no garments to celebrate communion, nor do they use any collection of prayers but the Lord's prayer; they believed or owned little or nothing of the sacraments of the catholic church; such as came over to their church must every one be baptized anew in mere water; they believe that the bread and wine do only, by some occult signs, represent the death of Christ—that the sacrament was instituted by Christ to no other purpose but to renew the memory of his passion, &c. &c. S In this statement may be discovered a family likeness of those churches in the south of France. Their renouncing worldly possessions; their mode of living in large communities; their distinction into perfect and imperfect classes; with their allowed piety, support their claim of descent from the early Vaudois. We may be permitted to admire the motive and design of the institutors of such establishments, and particularly the spirit which animated, guided, and bound up…
*Meringus' Hist. of Bap., pt. 2, p. 738, and upon Cent. 13, p. 737, and Montantus, p. 86.
† Rob. Res., p. 506.
o Id. p. 518.
S Hist. of Inf. Bap., pt. 2, c. 7, S 4, pp. 270-1.
…these societies in unity for centuries. The object of its members must have been the restoring of Christianity to its native simplicity, original purity, and benign aspect. The seven concluding verses in the second of Acts appear the rule of guidance in these communities. Their extensive interests through the German empire accord with the moving shoals of the Anabaptists in a future period.
8. These dissenting communities had their respective schools, at which many of the nobility were educated. Uladislaus II. was prevailed upon in 1140 to sign an edict against the Vaudois or Picards; but the influence of the nobles rose above the sovereign, and rendered the law void.* In 1210 the dissenters had become so numerous and so odious to the Catholic clergy, that Otho IV., at their entreaty, granted an edict against them. A severer measure was adopted by Frederick II., which extended over all the imperial cities, in 1220; and, in the hands of the inquisitors, entailed misery on the people. † The cruel measures awakened in the lower orders of the people retaliating feelings; these received the officers of the pope with clubs, stones, daggers, and poison. The first martyr 1228 was friar Conrad, who was killed in Germany while he was preaching against liberty in religion. No means had been left untried to rid France of the Albigenses, which had been so far successful as to destroy one million lives, o While the pontiff was devising means to free Gascony of a section of those heretics, he and his conclave were suddenly alarmed by the news, that the work of reform, which, according to his hope, had been so often…
* Rob. Res., p. 532.
† Rob. Res., p. 412, and see above, sect. 6, S 13—15.
o P. Personius in Claude's Def. preface, p. 61. -Monthly Review, Feb. 1815, p. 222. Simondi's Hist. of the Crusades: passim.
…extinguished, had now made its appearance in the very heart of Germany; and that the city of STETTIN was infected by the same heretics who, as he fondly hoped, had been extinguished in Languedoc. Gregory IX. lost no time in addressing bulls to the bishops of Minden, of Lubeck, and of Rachhasbourg in Styria, to induce them to preach up a crusade against the heretics. In order to excite greater horror against these sectaries, the pontiff represented to the people, that "a hideoustode was presented at once to the adoration and caresses of the initiated. The same being, who was no other than the Devil, afterwards took successively different forms, all equally revolting, and all offered to the salutations of his worshippers.* Such were the accusations the popes often exhibited against the Waldenses; and coming from the lips of holiness and infallibility itself, they could not fail of success. The fanatics took up arms in crowds, under the conduct of the German bishops. Those among the sectaries who were not in a condition to carry arms, or who had not taken refuge in the strong places, 1233 were first brought to judgment; and in the year 1233, "an innumerable multitude of heretics was burned alive through Germany; a still greater number was converted." The crusading army and the inquisitors, to all appearance, extinguished the heretical light. But such was the nature of this pestilence, as the court called it, that, like water which was dammed up in one place by inadequate mounds, it is sure to break out in another.* Though Frederick II. had, in the early part of his reign, gone into the cruel measures of the pope, by not complying with his mandate, he now incurred his holiness's…
* Jones's Led, v. ii. p. 398.
…displeasure. The pope excommunicated Frederick, incensed his own son to rebel against him, nominated another emperor, and thus rent the empire in twain. During the interdict, the churches were closed, the bells silent, the dead unburied: the penalty fell upon those who had no share in the offence.* Frederick wrote letters to all the princes of Europe, exposing the ambition of the pontiffs, and calling on all to take from the clergy the treasures they had amassed. The sufferings to which thousands were reduced in Germany, from this strife, were dreadful; yet the pope was insensible to the reigning misery. This state of affairs continued till the death of Frederick, 1250. This affray between the emperor and the pope relieved the sectaries from the cruel and oppressive designs of their enemies, and afforded these people some relief and opportunity to propagate their views. Their increase becomes apparent, 1300 since it is recorded, that in the beginning of the fourteenth century, they existed in thousands; and, as observed, in Bohemia they were considered as amounting to 80,000. Some of these Picards, while traveling and propagating the truth, were seized, and suffered; while persecution scattered others into various provinces and kingdoms, whose efforts and labors were apparent in the multitudes which arose at the dawn of the reformation, in this empire. †
1315 9. A bold intrepid teacher was raised up among the Beghards, or Picards, in 1315, in the person of WALTER LOLLARD, who became an eminent barb or pastor among them, and from whom the Waldenses were called Lollards, o dark says, Lollard stirred up the…
* Hallam's Middle Ages, vol. ii. pp. 240-3.
† Bishop Newton's Diss. On he Prophec., vol. ii. p. 225.
oWall's Hist., vol. ii. p. 272.
…Albigenses by his powerful preaching, converting many to the truth, and defending the faith of these people.* Moreland asserts he was in great reputation with the Waldenses, for having conveyed their doctrines into England,† where they prevailed all over the kingdom, o Mosheim remarks, that that Walter was a Dutchman, and was a chief among the Beghards, or brethren of the free Spirit.
He was a man of learning and of remarkable eloquence, and famous for his writings. S Walter was in unity of views in doctrine and practice with the Waldenses. || He was a laborious and successful preacher among the Baptists who resided on the Rhine; but his converts are said to have covered all England. ([ The Lollards rejected infant 1320 baptism as a needless ceremony.** In 1320, Walter Lollard was apprehended and burnt. In him the Beghards on the Rhine lost their chief, leader, and champion. His death was highly detrimental to their affairs, but did not, however, ruin their cause; for it appears they were supported by men of rank and great learning, and continued their societies in many provinces of Germany.††
1330 10. About 1330, these people were grievously harassed and oppressed in several parts of Ger many, by an inquisitor, named Eachard, a Jacobin monk. After inflicting cruelties for a length of time, with great severity, upon the Picards, he was induced to investigate the causes and reasons of their separation from the church of Rome. The force of truth ultimately prevailed over…
* Martyr., p. 76.
†Hist., p. 30.
oAllix's Ch. Pied., c. 22, p. 202.
S Hist., vol. ii. p. 509.
|| Gilly's Nar., p. 78.
([ Allix ubi sup.
**Lon.Ency., Art. Loll. Collier's Eccl. Hist., vol. i. b. 7, p. 619.
†† Moth. Hist. ut sup.
…all his prejudices. His own conscience attested that many of the errors and corruptions which they charged on that apostate church really existed; and finding himself unable to disprove the articles of their faith by the Word of God, he confessed that truth had overcome him, gave glory to God, and entered into the communion of the Waldensian churches, which he had been engaged in persecuting even to death. The news of his conversion aroused the ire of the inquisitors. Emissaries were dispatched in pursuit of him; he was at length apprehended and conveyed to Heidelberg, where he was committed to the flames.*
11. The Baptists who inhabited those cities that lay On the Rhine, especially at Cologne, had considerable accessions 1407 from the labors of John Huss, who, in 1407, became a bold champion in the cause of truth. He taught the same doctrines as Lollard and Wickliff; he was popular, and his discourses were full of those truths charged on the Anabaptists. John Huss, with Jerome, traveled and labored for the interests of the Redeemer; consequently dissenters were multiplied in the empire, by conversions and by accessions from other kingdoms. These persons, reasoning on the principles laid down by Huss and Jerome, on the sufficiency of the Scriptures to guide them in the affairs of the soul, entertained the same ideas of religion as the old Vaudois did; and with their successors, the Beghards, they became incorporated. They were indiscriminately called Waldenses, or Picards; and they all, says Robinson, re-baptized; but they entertained views 1416 widely different on other subjects.† The deaths of Huss and Jerome, accompanied with efforts…
* Jones's Lect., vol. ii. p. 428.
† Resear., pp. 481, S13.
…on the part of the clergy to excite the people to destroy heretics, awakened in these people a conviction of their danger. They therefore formed the plan of leaving Upper Germany for the lower parts of the empire; but the vigorous opposition of their enemies, who learned their design, prevented them realizing their concerted object.* They were aroused now to defend their privileges. The emperor Sigismund, a dissolute man, was devoted to the clergy, and promised them uniformity in religion. The nonconformists of all classes, throughout the empire, saw all their religious and civil liberties at stake. John de Trocznow, commonly called Ziska, from his having only one eye, determined, as the last defence, to take arms, as already stated. Having raised his standard, Ziska found himself, in a few weeks, at the head of fifty thousand troops. See Bohemia.
1457 12. In 1457, a great number of Waldenses were discovered by inquisitors in the diocese of Eiston in Germany, who were put to death. These sufferers confessed that they had among them, in that district, twelve barbs or pastors, who labored in the work of the ministry. It appears, from what Trithemius relates, who lived at this time, that Germany was full of Waldenses prior to the Reformation by Luther; for he mentions it as a well-known fact, that so numerous were they, that in traveling from Cologne to Milan, the whole extent of Germany, they could lodge every night with persons of their own profession; and that it was a custom among them, to affix certain private marks to their signs and…
* Wall's Hist., pt. 2, p. 272. Mosh. Hist., vol. ii. p. 509.
…gates, whereby they might be known to each other.* This is allowed by the best of our historians, and conceded by Mosheim.† who asserts, "before the rise of Luther or Calvin, there lay concealed, in almost all the countries of Europe, particularly in Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland, and Germany, many persons who adhered tenaciously to the doctrine of the Dutch Baptists, which the Waldenses, Wickliffites, and Hussites had maintained, some in a more disguised, and others in a more open and public manner; viz. that the kingdom of Christ, or the visible church he had established upon earth, was an assembly of true and real saints, and ought therefore to be inaccessible to the wicked and unrighteous, and also exempt from those institutions which human prudence suggested, to oppose the progress of iniquity, or to correct and reform transgressors. This maxim is the true source of all the peculiarities that are to be found in the religious doctrine and discipline of the Baptists. It is evident that these views were approved of by many before the dawn of the reformation."
The emperor's opinion of the Picards, and his physician's concurrence of their views and practice, being nearer to apostolic precedent than any other religious sect, has been already recorded. Their bitterest enemies, who were eye-witnesses of their actions, say. They resembled the ancient Donatists; their lives were blameless, but their doctrine was heretical: their simplicity, innocence, fidelity, and industry, are admirable; but their doctrines are damnable.o They made no figure in the world, says Voltaire; but they laid open the dangerous truth which is implanted in every breast, that mankind are all born equal. S
* Danvers' Hist., p. 25.
† Ecc. Hist., vol. iii. p. 320.
o Rob. Res., p. 566.
S Rob. Bap., p. 484.
1490 13. At the conclusion of the fifteenth century, Germany was divided into sixteen circles, and governed by sovereign princes, whose tyrannical oppression would exceed belief, were they not well attested; consequently the peasants or boors were slaves every where! This state of oppression and beggary should be taken into consideration by the censurers of those times and people. The peasants had several times attempted in Germany, as 1491 in Switzerland, to obtain their freedom. In 1491, they aimed to recover their birth-right, but failed. In 1502, another attempt proved alike abortive.* The princes and ecclesiastics continued to be supreme tyrants, rioting in luxury wrung from their respective peasants. The ignorance of the priests was extreme. Numbers of them could not read, and few had ever seen a Bible. Many, on oath, declared they knew not that there was a New Testament. These officers of religion held no intercourse with the laity, and their manner of giving them instruction was accompanied with a haughty superiority: "Ye that be lay people, ye shall know,—that there be ten commandments," &c., &c.† Yet, this ignorant and lordly class was supported at an enormous expense. The taxes of the state, the luxury of princes, and the ponderous burden of tithes for the support of the church were all produced by the labor of the peasants; consequently, the situation, to a people, who, from early times, had been distinguished by the love of liberty, became insufferable.o Besides, their present thraldom was increasingly felt, from their witnessing and hearing the successful efforts of the…
* Rob. Res., p. 537, &c.
† Rob. Bap., p. 296.
o Mosh. Hist., vol. iii. p. 50, note.
…peasants in Switzerland. Such was the vassalage of Christendom at this period, to the church of Rome, that the pontiff appeared to feel no apprehensions of the general tranquility being disturbed.* The church was made up of monsters, living in the most complicated crimes, and the greater portion of the community had become profoundly stupid.† Here is the climax of a state church!!!
14. The severity of the inquisitors, and the watchful conduct of the state clergy, had occasioned the detection and removal of every public champion of reforming principles, almost as soon as he avowed his sentiments, which is apparent in every part of history; and, were the records collected, the account of those of the Baptist persuasion, who have suffered martyrdom solely on the account of religion, would make a large book.o Under these successive losses, the Waldenses continued to disseminate the truths of the gospel by means of all the members of their community. The Baptists appear, through successive ages, opposed to worldly greatness, and always at variance with the secular maxims of securing success by human learning and tithes of distinction; they moved silently on, scattering in their walks the seeds of life. The least mental attainment in the Christian brother among them, was encouraged, and placed in requisition to the cause of truth, which awakened anger and contempt among the state clergy, for desecrating the holy order. Their societies were consequently of a missionary cast, which proved an extensive blessing to successive centuries. This view only will account for their numbers in this and other empires and kingdoms, through the…
* Jones's Lect, vol. ii. p. 503.
† Rob. Res., p. 301.
o Bayle's Diet. Anab. F.
…reign of the man of sin. Such was their procedure down to the sixteenth century, when they perceived several learned men, and also through their means, several among the unlettered of the people, were beginning to expose the darkness arising from error, superstition, and a lack of religious knowledge. They lived less retired than they had formerly done, and engaged to come forward with others, to diffuse the light of a purer religious knowledge, and to demolish the Romish superstition as much as it was in their power.* They did not scruple to draw many over from the Romish church in a very open way, incorporating them with themselves by re-baptization. "This re-baptizing," said Bishop Bossuet, "is an open declaration, that in the opinion of the brethren, the Catholic church has lost baptism.†" To further the work of reform, many of the brethren itinerated through various districts, and were reproached with the name of "the wandering Anabaptists."o Among these Anabaptists, were Hetzer and Denck, who published translations of parts of Scripture. S Multitudes of minds were by these means instructed in the truths of the gospel, and many learned, enlightened, and eloquent men only waited for some opening in Providence, to advocate more fully and publicly, the gospel of Christ. || But, amidst all the sectaries of religion, and the teachers of the gospel in Germany at this time, the Baptists best understood the doctrine of religious liberty, to them, therefore, the peasants turned then eyes for counsel ;([ and to their immortal honor "be it recorded, that the Baptists were always on the side of liberty. Under whatever government they could realize…
* Mezeray's Fr. Hist., p. 618.
† Rob. Hist. of Pap. p. 463.
oRob. Res. p. 513.
S M'Crie's Italy, p. 178.
|| Lon. Ency. vol. xviii. p. 669, Reform. Jones's Lect., vol. ii. 511.
([Rob. Res., p. 545.
…this boon, whether Pagan, Saracen, or Christian; domestic or foreign; that dynasty which would guard their freedom, was their government. In this respect, like the apostles, they paid no regard to its religion, civil government was their object.* This might be traced in all their migratory movements, from the Italian dissenters to the Rhode Island settlement. †
1500 15. We have now detailed the history of the Puritans through several nations, and under various names, and shall by these records, have proved at the Reformation, That the Baptists' has been the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the apostles; and as a Christian society, which has preserved pure the doctrines of the gospel through all ages.o These societies we shall find perpetuated in a few years, under Menno Simon's fostering care; whose creed will speak their affinity to the Vaudois, and though many, in claiming relation to these people, have disputed some things in their practice, none ever denied that they baptized only adults on a profession of faith, before they received them into their communion. S
16. The sectaries or Picards, in itinerating, had been successful in bringing persons of all classes over to their views and community, from the Catholic church. Their conduct in re-baptizing, awakened the anger of the Catholic priesthood, and measures were proposed to stay the growing 1510 evil. Consequently, in 1510, the clergy and bishops prevailed on the sovereign to use means equal to the danger; whereupon, an edict was made, that…
* Id. p. 641.
† Id. p. 311. Cox and Hoby's Am. Bap., p. 444.
o Bap. Mag., vol. xiii. p. 344, A. D., 1821.
S Rob. Res., p. 508.
…all the Picards, without distinction of sex, age, or quality, should be slain.* The influence of some noblemen prevailed for its suspension for eighteen months, but the edict received the sanction of government at the end of that term, yet interpositions of Providence prevented its full execution. The threatening aspect of affairs in Germany, suggested to the Picards the necessity of emigrating, and Mosheim asserts, "that the German Baptists PASSED in SHOALS into Holland and the Netherlands, and in the course of time, amalgamated with the Dutch Baptists."†
17. "The drooping spirits of this people," says the same writer, "who had been dispersed through many countries, and persecuted everywhere with the greatest severity, were 1518 revived when they heard that Luther, seconded by several persons of eminent piety, had successfully attempted the reformation of the church, o Consequently, several persons with the views of the Baptists, made their appearance at the same time, in different countries; this appears from a variety of circumstances, especially from this striking one, that all the Baptist ministers of any eminence, were, before the Reformation, almost all, heads and leaders of particular and separate sects, (or congregations. S The Baptists occasioned little publicity, and made little noise before the Reformation, though the most prudent and rational part of them considered it possible, by human wisdom, industry and vigilance, to purify the Romish church from the contagion of the wicked, provided the manners and spirit of the primitive Christians could but recover their lost dignity and luster; and seeing the…
*dark's Martyr., p. 127.
†EC. Hist., c. 16, S 11, p. 336. These shoals accord with Morell's 800,000 Waldenses.
o Id. vol. iii. p. 321.
S Id. p. 323.
…attempts of Luther, seconded by several persons of eminent piety, proved so successful, they hoped the happy period was arrived, in which the restoration of Rome to purity was to be accomplished, under the divine protection, by the labors and counsels of pious and eminent men.*
18. Many religionists, at this period, as Venner, in the days of Cromwell, were projectors of a new state of things, others were in anticipation of an unspotted and perfect church; while some, as we shall see, carried their speculations into frenzied enthusiasm. † These views had some encouragement from Luther and the reformers; for every impartial and attentive observer of the rise and progress of the Reformation, will ingenuously acknowledge, that wisdom and prudence did not always attend the transactions of those that were concerned in this glorious cause; that many things were done with violence, temerity, and precipitation.o Luther had boldly stepped forward, and 1519 set tyranny defiance. This was known, and was differently viewed by the religionists throughout Europe, but more particularly animated those who were addressed by Luther and his associates. To further the great work, he published the New Testament in German, wrote letters to the sovereigns of Europe, broke with the pope, and propelled forward the work of reformation. To these efforts, he added a work on 1520 Christian liberty, in the German language, which was read with the most astonishing avidity, and the contents were communicated to those who could not read. In this work, Luther speaks of what he calls…
*Ency. Brit. Anabap.
† Mosh. Hist., vol. iii. p. 232.
o Id. p. 102.
…spiritual liberty, that is, the freedom of the spirit or mind, in matters of religion; and he assigns the causes of bondage, to sins, laws, and mandates, which naturally mean our sinful passions, the laws of magistrates, and the canons of the church.* The pope denounced Luther, and he nobly, on Dec. 10, 1520, had a pile of wood erected without the walls of Wittemburgh, and there in the presence of a prodigious multitude of all ranks and orders of people, committed to the flames both the bull that had been published against him, and the decretals and canons relating to the pope's supreme jurisdiction. By this act, Luther publicly declared to the world that he was no longer a subject to the Roman pontiff; and the man who publicly commits to the flames the code that contains the laws of his sovereign, shows thereby, that he has no longer any respect for his government, nor any design to submit to his authority, † These zealous and decisive acts of the reformer, however dignified, impressed the minds of men very differently, and in the mind of the oppressed peasant, it awakened a spirit of restless insubordination, which only waited a suitable season to disclose the inward ferment.o
1521 The boldness of these measures occasioned Luther's being called to Worms, by Charles V., where he boldly and nobly pleaded his cause, but was condemned, and to prevent his sustaining any injury, Frederick caused him to be arrested, and conveyed privately to the Castle of Wartenberg, where he divided his time between writing and hunting. S
19. One benefit the scattered brethren realized was, the…
* Rob. Res. p. 540.
†Mosh. Hist. vol. iii. p. 40.
oRob. Res., p. 540.
S Mosh, Hist., ut sup.
…translation at this period of the whole of the New Testament by Luther, agreeably to their views, and his and their sentiments concurred by his translating Matt. iii. 1, "In those days came John the dipper."* Other parts of his writings were in perfect accordance with this sentiment, † So that Luther is charged with being the author or father of the German dippers, since some of the Catholics expressly declare they received their first ideas of it from him.o Also Moshovius says, that anabaptism was set on foot at Wittemburgh in 1521, among the Reformers, by Nicholas Pelargus, or Stork, who had companions with him of very great learning, as Carolostadius, Melancthon, and others; this, he says, was done while Luther was lurking in exile. S In pursuing this course, and practising only believers' baptism, these reformers were consistent, as they professedly took the Scriptures for their guidance. Luther's views and writings supported such a procedure, since he declared, "It cannot be proved by the Scriptures that infant baptism was instituted by Christ, or began by the first Christians after the apostles." Nearly all the reformers expressed themselves in similar language about baptism; besides, all the Puritans, whose support to the cause of reform was desirable, held these views on the ordinance. The reformers gave very considerable support to the Baptists in these measures. || Luther had no great objection to the Baptists in his early efforts. He encouraged the Muncer of notoriety, who was a Baptist minister, and so highly esteemed by Luther, as to be named his Absalom. Their united efforts greatly increased persons of…
* Rob. Hist. Bap. p. 442.
† Rob. Res., 542, and Booth's Paedo. Exam.
oRob. Res. p. 542.
S Good and Greg. Cyclo. Anab., Ivimey's Hist., vol. i. p. 18.
|| Bumett's Reform., vol. ii. p. 110.
…the Baptist persuasion. When the news reached Luther, of Carlstadt re-baptizing, that Muncer had won the hearts of the people, and that the reformation was going 1522 on in his absence, he on the 6th of March, 1522, flew like lightning from his confinement, at the hazard of his life, and without the advice of his patron, to put a stop to Carolostadt's proceedings.* On his return to Wittemburgh, he banished Carolostadt, Pelargus, More Didymus, and others, and only received Melancthon again. †
20. When some of Luther's assistants went into Bohemia and Moravia, they complained, that between Baptists and papists they were very much straightened, though they grew among them like lilies among thorns!o The success and number of the Baptists "exasperated him to the last degree;" and he became their enemy, notwithstanding all he had said in favor of dipping (while he contended with Catholics on the sufficiency of God's word); but now he persecuted them under the name of re-dippers, re-baptizers, or Anabaptists. S One thing troubled Luther, and he took no pains to conceal it; that was a jealousy lest any competitor should step forward, and put in execution that plan of reformation which he had laid out: this was his foible; he fell out with Carolostadt, he disliked Calvin, he found fault with Zuinglius, who were all supported by great patrons, and he was angry beyond measure with the Baptists. || His half measures, his national system, his using the Roman liturgy, his consubstantiation, his infant baptism, without Scripture or example, were disliked by the Baptists—yea, the Picards or Vaudois hated his system;([ and…
* Maclean in Mosheim, vol. iii. p. 45, ch. 16, S 18.
†Ivimey ut sup. o Rob. Res., p. 519.
S Id. p. 542.
|| Id. p. 540.
([ Id. p. 541.
…he hated all other sects.* The violence of Luther sunk his cause into that of a party. † The reformers differed as widely among themselves about the ordinances, as they did from others:o and their spirit of contention subsided into acts of persecution and reproach. S But Mosheim remarks, "there were certain sects and doctors against whom the zeal, vigilance, and severity of Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists were united. The objects of their common aversion were the Anabaptists." To avoid the unhappy consequences of such a formidable opposition, great numbers retired into Poland, hoping to find a refuge—where they formed congregations. ||
1522 21. It is at this period the term Anabaptism was used among Christian brethren.([ The word, in its strict sense, is expressive of the practice of those who re-baptize such persons who came from one of their sects to another; or, as often as any one is excluded from their communion, and again baptized on being re-admitted into their fellowship—as Cyprian and the church of Carthage practised. If the party baptizing disallow the first ceremony as unscriptural, the repetition of the act guided by apostolic authority is not re-baptization, but Christian Baptism. The word,' in a loose sense, has been in use from the ascendancy of the church in 413, to distinguish those who disavowed infant baptism, and consequently, not only baptize persons on a confession of their faith, but baptize, as it were, again those persons that were in infancy subject to what they considered a pseudobaptism. The term was now familiarized from Luther's dislike to the…
* Neal's Hist. vol. i. p. 93.
† M'Crie's Italy, p. 176.
oCamp. Lect., p. 445.
S Rob. Bap., pp. 548, 554.
|| Mosh. Hist., pp. 3. 363, 293.
([ Good and Greg. Cyclo. Anabap.
…Picards or re-baptizers.* We have often used the word, not that we approve it as expressive of our practice, but as conveying the views of those who, by the word, intended fully to describe, designate, and reproach the Baptists. A full history of the people thus designated, is exceedingly difficult to write;† since, as Mosheim admits, "the true origin of the Baptist denomination, who espoused the Mennonite views, and who acquired the stigma of Anabaptists, by administering anew the rite of baptism to those who come over to their community, is hid in the remote depths of antiquity ."o But baptism may be administered to persons who have received a rite in some community without incurring Anabaptism; as,
First. When the subject has been dipped before, he has been rightly instructed into the essential truths of the gospel, as was the case with the twelve disciples at Ephesus. S When Paul reached this city, he found disciples baptized, who were ignorant of an important truth, revealed by John for all candidates to believe: viz., "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost," but these disciples had heard…
* Ency. Brit. Anabap. Rob. Res., p. 517.
† Rob. Bap., p. 465.
o Ecc. Hist., vol. iii., p. 320. Their antiquity may be traced back, viz.:— 1450, Picards or Waldenses, Wall's Hist., 2, 270.—1420, Hussites, Crosby, vol. 1, pref. xxxiii. Ivimey, 1, 70.—1176, Waldo and his followers, Jones's Lect., 2, 486.—1150, Waldenses and Albigenses, Collier's G. Diet. Anab.— 1140, Amoldists, Facts Op. to Fict, p. 46.—1135, Henricians, Wall's Hist., 2, 250.—1110, Petrobrussians, Wall, ib.—1049, Berengarians, Facts, &c., p. 42. Mezeray, p. 229.—1025, Gundulphians, Jortin's Rem., 5, p. 27.—945, Paterines, Jones's Lect., 2, p. 254.—714, Vaudois in France and Spain, Rob. Res., 242.—653, Paulicians, Gibbon's Hist., c. 54, and Alhx's Pied., c. 15, 138.—311, Donatists, Mosh. Hist., 1, 302.—250, Novatianists, Ency. Brit. Anab.—56, Ephesians, Acts xix. 2, &c. Miln. Ch. Hist., C. 1, ch. 14.
S That Paul baptized these twelve disciples, is most expressly declared.— ED.
…nothing of the Holy Ghost, consequently here was a departure from John's views, and apparent ignorance of the Author of every sanctifying process. Scriptural views of baptism, and a knowledge of the Author of our salvation being essential to a right receiving baptism, led Paul to instruct these disciples, and then again baptize them.*
Secondly. When repentance and faith, the indispensable prerequisites, have not been exercised by the subject, Matt. iii. 8—when the conscience has not chosen the duty, 1 Pet. hi. 21—and where a personal profession of faith has not existed, the service is unacceptable to God. Heb. xi. 6. Rom. xiv. 23.
Thirdly. When the ordinance, in its administration, does not bear the same analogy to its primitive design and resemblance of Christ's death and resurrection, as those did administered by the apostles, Rom. vi. 4, 1 Cor. xv. 29, it is then another baptism, and not a New Testament ordinance, since its analogy to Scripture language is lost.
Fourthly. When, from a multiplicity of ceremonies, the original design is obscured, and it ceases to make manifest the disciples of Christ, John i. 31, and the cleansing properties of his work, Acts xxii. 16, it ceases to be Christ's appointment. The earliest dissenters were guided by this view, and yet were not Anabaptists.
In this practice, two motives are apparent in the conduct of re-baptizers: first, right instruction; and, secondly, purity of communion. The first view led different bodies of early professors to re-baptize those who came over to their communion, from parties whose creed was not in accordance with their own: and the second, from a desire to maintain…
* Miln. Ch. Hist, C. 1, ch. 14.
…purity of communion, regulated many early churches. We know unauthorized rites and ceremonies were early adopted by many churches. To free the mind of the candidate from those human rites, and to maintain the ordinance in its native and simple aspect, occasioned early dissenters to require those who came to join them from other churches, to submit to the ordinance in the way they administered it.*
22. Of all the teachers of religion in Germany at this period, the Baptists best understood the doctrine of civil and religious liberty: to them, therefore, the oppressed Boors, as has been observed, looked for counsel. The tyranny of the Catholics and Lutherans was equal in every thing, except extent. Luther never pretended to dissent from the church, he only proposed to disown the pope: but in this partial conduct and mope-eyed device, all could not see with him. Among the Baptists, one of the most eminent was Thomas Muncer, of Mulhausen, in Thuringia. He had been a priest, but became a disciple of Luther, and a favorite with the reformed. This dear son Luther named his Absalom; and the people so highly approved of him, as to call him Luther's Curate. He appears to have itinerated and labored principally in Saxony. While Luther was hunting, writing, and regaling himself with princes, Muncer was preaching in the country, and surveying the condition of their tenants. He saw their miserable bondage; and that, from Luther's plan of reform, there was no probability of freedom flowing to the people. He (Luther) only intended to free the priests -from obedience to the pope, and to enable the officers of the state to tyrannize over the…
* Robins. Res., p. 212. Jones's Ecc. Led, vol. i., p. 410.
…people in the name of civil magistrates. Muncer saw this fallacy, and remonstrated against it. Luther broke loose from his recluse, and dealt severely with those who dared in his absence to advance the cause differently to his plan. With Carolostadt he was severe, but Muncer was banished for his crime of remonstrance. Muncer now traveled into various parts, preaching doctrines highly acceptable to the lower orders. He settled at Mulhausen, and was there when the peasants rose. It is very probable he now embraced fully the sentiments of the Baptists, seeing his instruction to this people was much on the nature of religious liberty, and illustrative of the errors of Catholicism and Lutheranism, which he represents as carrying things to the extreme, without embracing the liberty purchased by the death of Christ. His instructions conveyed, that a Christian church ought to consist of virtuous persons, and not, as Luther taught, to include whole parishes. On these *principles he formed a church, A. D. 1523, and advised the members of it to make use of retirement, meditation, and prayer; to consider the several points of religion for themselves. The peasants relished his doctrine, and repaired to Mulhausen in vast numbers, to be instructed and comforted by Muncer.*
Here was Muncer's crime; and, as Voltaire remarks, "Luther had been successful in stirring up the princes, nobles, and magistrates of Germany against the pope and bishops: Muncer stirred up the peasants against them. He and his companions went about addressing themselves to the inhabitants of the country villages in Suabia, Misnia, Thuringia, and Franconia. They laid open that…
* Robins. Res., pp. 546-8; and Marsh's Michaelis, vol. iv., p. 542, &c.
…dangerous truth, which is implanted in every breast, that all men are born equal; saying, that if the popes had treated the princes like their subjects, the princes had treated the common people like beasts."*
23. What Luther had said and censured about the pope's usurpation, he now practiced himself towards these good men. Carolostadt he followed from place to place, and got him expelled wherever he settled. Thomas Muncer was driven in like manner, with others, against whom Luther set himself, in writing to princes, and publishing, by which he disturbed society, and stigmatized them as image-breakers and sacramentarians, or Anabaptists.† On hearing of Muncer's success, he wrote to the magistrates of Mulhausen, to advise them to require Muncer to give an account of his call; and if he could not prove that he acted under human authority, then to insist on his proving his call from Cod by working a miracle!!! Lord, what is man! The magistrates and monks complied with this Lutheran bull, but the people considered this a refinement on cruelty, especially as coming from a man whom both the Roman court and the diet of the empire had loaded with curses, for no other crime than that of which he accused his brother.
The people now resented the insult; they expelled from the city Luther's monkish allies; and the magistrates elected new senators, of whom Muncer was one! To him, as their only friend, the peasants looked for relief under oppression.o
24. The tones of authority assumed by Luther, and his magisterial conduct towards those who differed from him,…
* Robins. Res., p. 551.
† Id. p. 543, &c.
o Id. p. 548.
…made it evident that he would be head of the reformers.* He and his colleagues had now to dispute their way with hosts of Baptists all over Germany, Saxony, Thuringia, Switzerland, and other kingdoms, for several years, † Conferences on baptism were held in different kingdoms, which continued from 1516 to 1527.o The support which the Baptists had from Luther's writings made the reformers' efforts of little effect. At Zurich, the senate warned the people to desist from the practice of re-baptizing, but all their warnings were vain. These efforts to check the increase of Baptists being ineffectual, carnal measures were 1522 treated. The first edict against Anabaptism was published at Zurich, 1522, in which there was a penalty of a silver mark set upon all such as should suffer themselves to be re-baptized, or should withhold baptism from their children. And it was further declared, that those who openly opposed this order should be yet more severely treated. S This being insufficient to check immersion, the senate decreed, like Honorius, 413, that all persons who professed Anabaptism, or harbored the professors of the doctrine, should be punished with death by drowning. || It had been death to refuse baptism, and now it was death to be baptized; such is the weathercock certainty of state religion.([ In defiance of this law, the Baptists persevered in their regular discipline: and some ministers of learned celebrity realized the severity of the sentence. Many Baptists were drowned…
* Robins. Res., p. 542
† Wall's Hist., pt. 2, p 269 Ref., vol, and Danvers Hist, p. 307.
S Ger. Brandt’s Hist. Ref vol. ,. B. 2 p. 57.
|| Miln. Ch. Hist., C. 16, ch. 16. Neal-s Hist, vol. v., p. 127.
([ Rob. Bap., 426.
…and burnt.* These severe measures, which continued for years, had the consent of the reformers, which injured greatly the Lutheran cause. † It was the cruel policy of papacy inflicted by brethren. Wherever the Baptists settled, Luther played the part of a universal bishop, and wrote to princes and senates to engage them to expel such dangerous men; but it was their refusing to own his authority, and admit his exposition of the Scriptures, which led him to preach and publish books against them, taxing them with disturbing the peace, o We have recorded that the Baptists were the common objects of aversion to Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists, whose united zeal was directed to their destruction. So deeply were the prejudices interwoven with the state party, that the knights on oath were to declare their abhorrence of Anabaptism. S The sentiments of these people, and which were so disliked by statesmen, clergy, and reformers, may be stated under five views, viz.: "A love of civil liberty in opposition to magisterial dominion; an affirmation of the sufficiency and simplicity of revelation, in opposition to scholastic theology; a zeal for self-government, in opposition to clerical authority; a requisition of the reasonable service of a personal profession of Christianity rising out of man's own convictions, in opposition to the practice of force on infants—the whole of which they deem superstition or enthusiasm; and the indispensable necessity of virtue in every individual member of a Christian church, in distinction from all speculative creeds, all rites and ceremonies, and parochial divisions." || These views—to…
* Milner, Brandt ut sup. Ivimey's Hist., vol. i. p. 17.
†Rob. Res., p. 543.
S Mosh. 3, 362.
|| Robins. Bap., p. 482.
…the statesman, were adverse to his line of policy with his peasants; to the clergy, they were offensive, since it placed every man on a level with the priesthood, and sanctioned one to instruct another; to the reformers they were objectionable, since they broke the national tie, and allowed all persons equal liberty to think, choose and act in the affaires of the soul: thus these sentiments were the aversion of all. An edict issued by Frederick, at a later period, shows how unpalatable these views were. His majesty expressed his astonishment at the number of Anabaptists, and his horror at the principal error which they embraced, which was, that according to the express declaration of the
holy Scriptures (1 Cor. vii. 23), they were to submit to no human authority. He adds that his conscience compelled him to proscribe them, and accordingly he banished them from his dominions on pain of death.*
"This maxim is a true source of the peculiarities of the Baptists," says Mosheim, "that the visible church was exempted from all those institutions which human prudence suggested:" but this view of religion, the state and the reformed could not receive. †
25. During the contentions and disputations of the 1524 reformers and others, the peasants of Suabia groaned in 1524, under their hard servitude, and resolved to seize the first opportunity to get free. In the November following, they revolted. The news flew all over Germany, and awakened restless feeling in the plebeians throughout the empire. The lords of the soil and the gentry entered into a confederacy, and agreed to suppress them; and Furstenberg, in the name of the confederates…
* Rob. Res., p. 525.
†Ecc. Hist., vol. iii. pp. 320, 327.
…rates, went to inquire into their grievances. They informed him they were Catholics, that they had not risen on any religious account, and that they required nothing but a release from their intolerable secular oppressions, under which they had long groaned, and which they neither could nor would any longer bear. Others required relief from 1525 the oppression of abbots. The ensuing spring offered to others, who had more reason to complain than the preceding boors, an opportunity to leave their work, and such assembled in different provinces to the amount of three hundred thousand men. The doctrine of liberty had been advocated by all the reformers, while pointing out the usurped claims of the pope; but none understood or carried out this liberty into practice but the Baptists, consequently all eyes were, in this crisis, directed to Muncer, who now drew up a memorial expressive of their grievances, and which was presented to their lords, and dispersed all over Germany. It consists of twelve articles, on civil and religious liberty. It is allowed to be a master-piece of the kind, and Voltaire says, "A LYCURGUS WOULD HAVE SIGNED IT."
These tenets, which all persons now professedly love, arc still held forth in the views and writings of Pasdobaptists of these times, as the damnable anabaptistical errors; but where dwelt the advocate of real liberty, and where could this boon of paradise have been found, if there had been no Anabaptists? This was the head and front of their offending, and on this ground alone they were everywhere spoken against. In this instrument there is no heretic but a tyrant, nothing proposed to be hated but the feudal system, and liberty is the only orthodoxy. This memorial, when compared with the creed of Ausburg, will create…
…feelings of reverence in the Collator for the mild justice of Muncer and his memorialists! It is the doom of the poor to be aspersed, Prov. xiv. 20. At the close of the memorial, the peasants appealed to Luther. He told them the princes deserved dethroning, yet their tumults were seditious, and that they had been seduced by false teachers: that it was foolish to put all mankind upon a level, and that Abraham had slaves. He wrote to the princes, and taxed them with having caused all the present ills by their excess of tyranny, and accuses them for saying that his doctrine had been the cause of all this disturbance, threatening them with all the vengeance of heaven if they persisted in their tyranny and cruelty. The third publication was addressed to both princes and peasants, advising both parties to settle their disputes, and be at peace, for the public good of Germany. These advices being disregarded, he drew up a fourth, addressed to the princes, in which he conjures them to unite all their force to suppress sedition, and to destroy all who resisted government, i. e., oppression and slavery. These oppressed men were consequently met by their lords with a sword, instead of redress; being defeated, they were slaughtered and reproached, the invariable result and concomitants of defeat; Muncer, their friend and chief, was put to death.*
26. All men condemned Luther for these murdering proposals, but in order to relieve himself, he made the devoted people the scape goat; he and his colleagues imputed the crimes of the empire to the Anabaptists, and so escaped!!! From the breaking out of the rustic war, the empire continued to be in an unsettled state. "The first…
* Mosh. Hist, iii. p. 51, S 22.
…rising," says Sleiden, "was among persons of the papist communion, the tumults did not originate on the subject of religion, but from secular exactions.* Religious liberty had been limited by many from Luther's work, which caused many to seek both civil and religious freedom, † The twelve articles, expressive of their grievances, which Magna Charta they had not power to enforce, "comprehended," says Osiander, "persons of all persuasions."o Had Muncer succeeded in procuring liberty for the German peasants, ten thousand tongues would have celebrated his praise in
different ages, devotions would have been rendered to him as to Titus. Flaminius and many historians would have vied to crown his memory with unfading honors. The site of such an achievement would have been equalled only by Runnymede, and its honors more permanent and glorious than those of Nasby Held. All this occurred ten years before the affair of Munster. It was not therefore an affair about baptism, but the feudal system: it was not water, it was government that was the question, and the Baptists had the glory of first setting the reformed an example of getting rid of tyranny. S The routed and scattered remains of this vast body of men sowed, in the different provinces, the seeds of discontent, which, after keeping the empire in a feverish state for some years, ultimately led to some redress. Many new projectors were among this people, as to the nature and extent of Christ's kingdom, which ideal projects were carried out so far in succeeding years by some, as to bespeak delirium in its advocates.
* Danvers' Hist., p. 322 from Guodolius.
† Ib. from Spanheim.
S Rob. Res., p. 544, &c.
1526 27. Disputations on the subject of baptism continued through this and the ensuing year: and the system of drowning those the reformers could not convert was still in prevalent use. The reformers' influence and reflection on the Baptists, with the Catholic hatred, made the situation of our brethren very critical, independent of the iron bondage many endured under their lords. From the views of the Baptists held on civil and religious liberty, and the memorial of the peasants' grievances being drawn up by one of that body, and approved by all; which memorial struck at the root of the lords' tyranny, occasioned great jealousy in the minds of princes, 1527 and occasioned their attention and displeasure to be constantly directed towards them. Some emigrated to England, where their circumstances were not 1529 improved. Erasmus said of this people (1529), "The Anabaptists (in Switzerland), although they are very numerous, have no church in their possession. These persons are worthy of greater commendation than others, on account of the harmlessness of their lives. 1532 But they are oppressed by all other sects." When Frederick, in 1532, conferred privileges on 1533 the German protestants, he excepted the Baptists. In 1533, a reward of twelve guilders was promised to any person who should apprehend any anabaptistical teacher, and all harboring them was forbidden.* "They were," says Dr. Robertson, "this year, 1534, watched so closely by the magistrates as to find it necessary to emigrate into other quarters."† Their religious…
* Mezeray's Fr. Hist., p. 597. Brandt's Hist. of the Reform., vol. i. p. 60.
† Hist. of Charles V., b. 5, p. 73.
…liberties being destroyed, their views under the greatest reproach, their lives and property liable to injury, before Munster affray, will show their critical situation, and account for their succumbing conduct to the reformers at this period. It only wanted some local commotion to involve such suspected subjects in ruin. The brethren in different parts had sent to the reformers, desiring their countenance and support. Erasmus genteelly declined. Luther did not like them; he reproached them with anabaptism. They made the best apology they could, admitting they had always re-baptized such as joined their churches, but they said, so had Cyprian in early ages. Learned men were to confer with them on this point. This year seems 1533 to have been taken up in forming a more unreserved intercourse between the brethren and the reformers. By intercourse and compromise, and a negociation of some years, and after a vast deal of trouble, a conjunction was effected. Some of these societies had altered and amended their creed eight times in a quarter of a century, and now with the last edition presented to Luther, they confessed they had studied the subject of church government and discipline more diligently, in which also they had been assisted by some eminent divines, they had concluded with the reformers, that there was no need to re-baptize, and they had now left off the practice, and moreover had unanimously agreed never to re-baptize in future, nor ever, with Luther and his friends, to call re-baptization baptism, but ANA-BAPTISM.* Thus what the Moravian and other brethren long sought for, they at length obtained,—a comprehension in the establishment. To…
*Robins. Res., p. 506.
…their creed which had been so frequently improved, the last of which met the reformers' approbation, Luther wrote a reface; observing, that he had formerly been prejudiced against the brethren called Picards though he had always admired their aptness in the Scriptures. He admitted they had not the advantage of learned languages, and had expressed themselves obscurely, the confession, however, (of his colleagues' amending), was such a learned performance, that it had no need of his recommendation! It is evident Luther brought many of the old Baptists to his terms, while every circumstance in the empire combined to force these people under Luther's wing, or out of his 1535 jurisdiction. The imperial edict was published, the bells were rung, and the reproach of Picardism or Anabaptism was professedly rolled away from these conformists, and our only surprise is to find such multitudes in succeeding years not comprehended. "Their quiet became carnal security, their liberty glided into licentiousness, and," says Comenius, "the pious wept."* The year previous to this conjunction, Calvin appeared as a public teacher, and his views of truth, on being known, were preferred, and found to be more in accordance with the Baptists' views than Luther's; consequently "many of the Waldenses, or Sacramentarians," says Merezay, "united with the reformed church."† It is easy to perceive the vestibule to these national churches was Paedobaptism.
28. The city of Munster, in Westphalia, became the site of great tumult and disorder. One Bernard Rotman, a Paedobaptist minister of the Luthem persuasion, assisted by other ministers of the reformation, began the…
*Id. p. 507.
† Fr. Hist. p. 597.
…disturbances at Munster in opposing the Papists (1532).* Spanheim and Osiander say, that the first stir in this city of Munster was about the protestant religion, when the synod and ministers opposed the papists with arms, before any Anabaptist came.† While things were in a confused state in this city, many persons of a fanatical character came into Munster. "They gave out that they were messengers from heaven invested with a divine commission to lay the foundations of a new government, a holy and spiritual empire, and to destroy and overturn all temporal rule and authority, all human and political institutions." Confusion and uproar immediately prevailed in Munster. These frenzied people began to erect a new republic, calling it the New Jerusalem. Now what must have been the state of this city, previous to these madmen's arrival? Would a few fanatics have destroyed the order of a well-governed civic body? The subversion of Munster by so few frenzied individuals, proves its previous perversion by some tumultuous proceedings. Venner's rebellion is in close affinity with this affair, yet London was easily rescued from similar disorders.o The Bishop of Munster, assisted 1535 by German princes, besieged the city in 1535, when the enthusiastics were all subdued, taken, and put to death in the most terrible and ignominious manner. This disorderly and outrageous conduct of a handful of Anabaptists with others, drew upon the whole body, who was previously under ban, heavy marks of displeasure from the greatest part of the European princes. S Cassander, a papist, declares that many Anabaptists in…
* Mosh. Hist. C. 16, p. 2, S 7, note q, by Machine. Ivimey's Hist., vol. i., p. 16, from Budneus.
† Danvers' Hist., p. 324.
oIvimey's History, vol. i., p. 306—313.
S Mosh. Hist., vol. iii., p. 78.
…Germany did resist and oppose the opinions and practices of those at Munster, and taught the contrary doctrine.* Nevertheless, as they were, to a man, for civil and religious freedom, and at the same time opposed to Luther's articles, the severest laws were enacted against them the second time, in consequence of which, the innocent and guilty were alike involved in the same terrible fate, and prodigious numbers were devoted to death in the most dreadful 1536 form.† In almost all the countries of Europe, an unspeakable number of Baptists preferred death in its worst forms, says Mosheim, to a retraction of their sentiments. Neither the view of the flames that were kindled to consume them, nor the ignominy of the gibbet, nor the terrors of the sword, could shake their invincible constancy, or make them abandon tenets that appeared dearer to them than life and all its enjoyments.o "It is true, indeed," says the same writer, "that many Baptists suffered death, not on account of their being considered rebellious subjects, but merely because they were judged to be incurable heretics; for in this century, the error of limiting the administration of baptism to adult persons only, and the practice of re-baptizing such as had received that sacrament in a state of infancy, were looked upon as most flagitious and intolerable heresies. Those who had no other marks of peculiarity than their…
* Ivimey's Hist., vol. i., p. 309.
† Mosh. Hist., vol. iii., p. 79.
oId. p. 326. "And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast shall kill them—and the same hour a tenth part of the city fell," Rev. xi. 7—13. It is rather remarkable that, while these witnesses were suffering in every province from Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists, in the same hour or period Henry VIII., by an act, 1536, separated England, the tenth part of the pope's dominion, from his authority.
…administering baptism to the adult, and their excluding the unrighteous from the external communion of the church, ought to have met with milder treatment."* Many of those who followed, he wiser class of Baptists, nay, some who adhered to the most extravagant factions, were men of upright intentions and sincere piety, who were seduced into fanaticism by their ignorance and simplicity on the one hand, and by a laudable desire of reforming the corrupt state of religion on the other. †
29. While the terrors of death, in the most awful forms, were presented to the view of this people, and numbers of them were executed every day, without any distinction being made between the innocent and the guilty, those who…
* Mosh. Hist., vol. iii., pp. 326-7.
† Id. 325. A combination of circumstances led to this unhappy affair. An anxious and laudable desire for the extension of Christ's kingdom was evident before the name of Luther was known. The wiser sort of Baptists tried to effect this by human prudence (Ency. Brit.). The groaning condition of the rustics led them to cherish every sound of liberty; and some, in their frenzied enthusiasm, carried out their views to a new Jerusalem state of things, and Munster fanatics involved our denomination in disrepute. Pasdobaptists dwell on the plenitude of the sin, to divert the mind from the originators of the affray, and by blackening the Baptists, they leave a happy comparison for the excesses of their favorites. Had no Baptists been mixed up in this affair, no such people would have been allowed to exist at the time; but the incredible numbers of our persuasion rendered it impossible for any commotion to take place about religion in these provinces, without involving the continental Baptists. This affair at Munster is often repeated and recorded; but one reason is evident, it is the only slur which stands against the denomination! If repartees were allowable, we could pay our accusers with compound interest, by inquiring, Who martyred our early brethren, the Donatists, the Paulicians, Albigenses? Who cut off the ears and virilia of the French clergy? Who planned Venner's rebellion? &c. &c. &c. Ans. Paidobaptists!!! Do they repudiate these things? So do Baptists the single affair of Munster. See preface to Crosby's History of the Baptists.
…escaped the severity of the sword were found in the most discouraging situations that can well be imagined. On the one hand, they saw with sorrow all their hopes of liberty blasted by the ravages of Munster; and, on the other, they were filled with the most anxious apprehensions of the perils that threatened them on all sides. In this critical situation, they derived much comfort and assistance from the counsels and zeal of MENNO SIMON.*
30. It is now evident, that many persons of the Baptist persuasion and views existed on the Continent long before the affair of Munster blackened their escutcheon; and the characters of these people have awakened admiration in men of distinguished parts, and who have left testimonies of their piety, which may be brought into comparison with any denomination of the present age. Among their admirers may be found the names of Commenius, Scultetus, Beza, Cloppenberg, Cassandar, † Erasmus, Heyden, Hoornbeck, Cocceius, and Cardinal Hossius. The latter says, "If the truth of religion were to be judged of by the readiness and cheerfulness which a man of any sect slows in suffering, then the opinions and persuasions of no sect can be truer or surer than those of the ANABAPTISTS; since there have been none for these twelve hundred years past have been more grievously punished." S Father Gretzer and Professor Limborch we have quoted in the Waldensian section.
* Mosh. Hist., C. 16, s. iii., p. 2, S 7.
† Danvers' Hist., pp. 508—12.
o Cardinal Hossius was chairman at the council of Trent. His acquaintance with history is indisputable. This statement of the Baptists' sufferings 1200 years, from 1570, carries our denomination back to 370, the very year in which we have the first record of a child's baptism. So that our witnessing and suffering are coeval.
S Bap. Mag., vol. x., p. 401, and vol. xviii., p. 278, from Brant's History.
31. The venerable MENNO SIMON was born at Witmarsum in Friesland, A. D. 1496. His education was such as was generally adopted in that age with persons designed to be priests. He entered the church in the character of a minister in 1524. He had no acquaintance with the sacred volume at this time; nor would he touch it, lest he should be seduced by its doctrines. At the end of three years, on celebrating mass, he entertained some scruples about transubstantiation: but attributed the impression to the devil. No moral change was yet effected: he spent his time in dissipating amusements; yet he was not easy in his mind. He resolved, from the perturbed state of his thoughts, to peruse the New Testament. In reading this volume, his mind became enlightened; and, with the aid of Luther's writings, he saw the errors of popery. Menno was generally respected; and all at once became a gospel preacher, without the charge of heresy or fanaticism. This is accounted for, by his being courted by the world, and still continuing in alliance with it. Among the thousands that suffered death for anabaptism, was one Sicke Snyden, who was beheaded at Lewarden. The constancy of this man to his views of believers' baptism, preferring even an ignominious death to renouncing his sentiments, led Menno to inquire into the subject of baptism. Menno could not find infant baptism in the Bible; and, on consulting a minister of that persuasion, a concession was made, that it had no foundation in the Bible. Not willing to yield, he consulted other celebrated reformers; but all these he found to be at variance, as to the grounds of the practice;*…
* Austin and his coadjutors, in the infant rite, washed the child, to remove the stain of original sin. (Wall's Hist., pt. 1, c. 15.) Austin had never heard of any Christian who did not give it on this ground. (Id. p. 503.) And Wall asserts Calvin only disturbed this foundation (pt. 2, p. 165, &c.); but faith was required in the candidate. So the ancients asserted children had the faith of the sacraments;—the Papists said that they had the faith of the church (Danv. Hist., p. 183); the Lutherans affirm, that children had a proper and peculiar faith, to entitle them to baptism (Id. 147); that baptism is necessary to salvation; that God's grace is conferred thereby (Confess. Id. 146);—Calvinists affirm, they have no faith, but ought to be baptized by virtue of the faith of the parent in covenant (Id. 147);—the English church baptizes on a promised faith, supported by a vow of the sponsors; Mr. Richard Baxter, a Presbyterian, says they have a justifying faith (Danv. Hist., p. 184); while others practise it from the promise made to a believing parent, though John denied baptism to the children of that promise. (Matt. iii. 9.) Some confer the right from the holiness of the seed; and thus deny the universal corruption or man. (Ep. ii. 3.) Others bestow it from the covenant of circumcision; yet these give the right to females, but withhold it from servants, and make every parent of such practice a federal head to a covenant; so as to be equal with Abraham and equal with Christ. Such are a few of the Proteus forms of this national bond.
…consequently he became confirmed, that the Baptists were suffering for truth's sake. In studying the word, convictions of sinfulness and of his lost condition became deepened; and he found God required sincerity and decision. He now sought new spiritual friends, and found some, with whom he at first privately associated, but afterwards became one of their community. Menno was baptized by immersion; as he confessed that "we shall find no other baptism besides dipping in water, which is acceptable to God, and maintained in his word."*
* This view is supported by Luther and Calvin. Luther says that in times past it was thus, that the sacrament of baptism was administered to none, except it were to those that acknowledged and confessed their faith, and knew how to rehearse the same; and that it was necessary to be done, because the sacrament was constituted externally to be used, that the faith be confessed and made known to the church. (De Sacrament, torn. iii. p. 168.) Calvin observes, "Because Christ requires teaching before baptizing, and will have believers only admitted to baptism, baptism does not seem to be rightly administered, except faith precede." In Harm. Evang. Com. Matt. xxviii. 19.
1536 After passing a year in studying and writing with this small but faithful band of Christians, he received an unexpected call from a church of similar faith and practice. He felt the difficulty of deciding: he was conscious of inability and ignorance; and the times were exceedingly difficult, since deaths were presented, in the most awful forms all around, to all persons of the Baptist persuasion; yet the excellency of the people who had invited him had some consideration. After prayer and meditation, he saw it was his duty, in the face of every danger, to accept their invitation. He labored hard, endured great trials and privations, the times compelling him often to remove from one province to another with his wife and family. But wherever he went, his ministry was very remarkably blessed.*
32. Menno drew up his plan of doctrine and practice entirely from the Scriptures, and threw it into the form of catechisms. His system was of a milder nature than had been adopted by the perfect class of ancient Baptists. He retained, indeed, all those doctrines commonly received among them, in relation to the baptism of infants, the millennium, the exclusion of the magistrate from the Christian assemblies, the abolition of war, the prohibition of oaths, and the vanity as well as the pernicious effects of human science. † Their churches are founded on this principle, that practical piety is the essence of religion, and that the surest and most infallible mark of a true church is the sancity of its members. It is at least…
* Bap. Mag., vol. x. p. 381. 1818.
†Mosh. Hist., vol. iii. p. 320, S 9.
…certain, says Mosheim, that this principle was always and universally adopted by the Baptists.* They admit none to the sacrament of baptism but persons that are come to the full age of reason. They re-baptize such persons as had that rite in a state of infancy; since the best and wisest of the Mennonites maintain, with their ancestors, that the baptism of infants is destitute of validity: they therefore refuse the term of Anabaptists, as inapplicable to their views.† It was in 1536, under Menno, that the scattered community of Baptists were formed into a regular body and church order, separate from all Dutch and German Protestants, who at that time had not been formed into one body by any bonds of unity. Some of the perfectionists he reclaimed to order, and others he excluded. He now purified also the religious doctrines of these people.o As in the early, so among these modern Baptists, two classes are found, at a later period distinguished by the terms of rigid and moderate. The former class observe, with the most religious accuracy, veneration and precision, the ancient doctrine, discipline, and precepts of the purer Baptists. The latter are more conformed to
Protestant churches. S
33. The Mennonite Baptists consider themselves as the real successors to the Waldenses, and to be the genuine churches of Christ. It is apparent the gospel was introduced into the Netherlands, Flanders, &c., during the eleventh century, by some disciples of Gundulphus, who were arrested while on their visit of mercy. In 1181 the persecuted Waldenses sought refuge in the Netherlands,…
* Hist. ib. S 13.
†Id. vol. iii. 318, note.
oBap. Mag., vol. xiii. p. 344.
S Mosh. Hist., vol. iii'. p. 335.
…bringing with them Waldo's translation of the New Testament. In the ensuing year, some of these people suffered death for rejecting infant baptism.* The churches formed at this early period were branches from the great body of Albigensian and Waldensian Antipaedobaptists,† which were preserved through successive ages, retaining much of their original character and creed. They are said to have lived as peaceable inhabitants, particularly in Flanders, Holland, and Zealand; interfering neither with church nor state affairs. Their manner of life was simple and exemplary. They, like their ancestors in the valleys, sought to regulate their conduct by Christ's sermon on the mount, o When the Mennonites assert that they are descended from the Waldenses, Petrobrussians, and other ancient sects, who are usually considered as witnesses of the truth, in the times of universal darkness and superstition, they are not entirely mistaken, says Mosheim; for before Luther and Calvin, there lay concealed, in almost all the countries of Europe, many persons (a multitude of minds prepared to receive reforming doctrines, and many learned, enlightened, and eloquent men, to advocate its claims S), who adhered tenaciously to the doctrines of the Dutch Baptists. ||
1536 34. So soon as Menno had formed his society, and rose, as a parent, to reform and patronize the Baptists, those who abstained religiously, as…
* Bap. Mag., vol. xiv. p. 55, note. Jones's Lect., vol. ii. p. 428.
† See the works of Herman Schyn, Mehrning, D. T. Twiscke, T. V. Braght,&c. Reiner con haeeret, civ. Hossius'works,. 212. Hist. Mennon, by Schyn, in Bap. Mag., vol. xiv. p. 51. Mr. Gan in Bap. Mag., vol. xiii. p. 429.
o Bap. Mag., vol. xiv. p. 50, &c.
S Lon. Ency., vol.xviii. p. 669. Jones's Lect., vol. ii. p. 511.
|| Mosh. Hist., vol. iii. p. 320, S2. Bap. Mag., vol. xiv. pp. 50-54.
…many of this ancient people did, from all acts of violence and sedition, following the pious examples of the ancient Waldenses, Henricians, Petrobrussians, Hussites, and Wickliffites, adopted the doctrine and discipline of this apostolic man: all which will be allowed, says Mosheim, without hesitation.* Shoals of Baptists, who had 1540 hither to resided in Germany, now left their native country, and passed into Holland and the Netherlands, to enjoy, their religious privileges. † The success of Menno awakened the displeasure of the state parties; and in 1543 the emperor offered a reward for his apprehension; but a watchful and interposing Providence always opened a way of escape. In these harassing times, Menno found a refuge and patron in the lord of Fresenberg and Lubeck, to whose territories great numbers of the Baptists repaired. Churches were formed, and pastors were settled over them, and here Menno carried some of his plans into execution, by erecting a printing press, and defending the denomination against the reproaches of their enemies.o To preserve a spirit of union and concord in a body composed by such a motley multitude of dissonant members, required more than human powers; and Menno neither had, nor pretended to have, supernatural succors. S The sanctity of character aimed at by the old Baptist interests among "the perfect class," from the earliest days, and the imitation of them by the Mennonites in discipline, 1552 occasioned some divisions among this people. A warm contest, concerning excommunication, was excited by several Baptists. These brethren carried…
* Hist. vol. iii. p. 333, note.
† Id. vol. iii. p. 336, S 11.
oBap. Mag., vol. x. p. 361. 1818.
S Mosh. EC. Hist., vol. iii. pp. 333-4.
…the discipline of excommunication to an undue rigor. Their austerity went into the social ties (1 Cor. vii. 5), which was opposed by many of the community; and now two visible sections formed the body of the Dutch Baptists. Menno employed his most vigorous efforts to heal these divisions, and to restore peace and concord in the community; but when he perceived his attempts were vain, he conducted himself in such a manner as he thought the most proper to maintain his credit and influence among both parties. Perhaps Menno acted in the wisest way for the interest at large, though the propriety of his conduct in this affair has been questioned. The parties were now distinguished by the terms of rigid and moderate. The rigid live in Flanders, and are called Flandrians, or Flemingians; the moderate reside in Holland, and are termed Waterlandians.*
1555 35. No sooner had the enthusiasm among these brethren subsided, than all the members of the different sects agreed to draw the whole system of their religious doctrine from the holy Scriptures; consequently, they drew up confessions, in which their views of religion were expressed, in phrases of holy writ. "These confessions," observes Mosheim, "prove as great a uniformity among the Mennonites, in relation to the great and fundamental doctrine of religion, as can be pretended to by any other Christian community." † About this period, a severe decree was issued against the Baptists. In this instrument it was forbidden to unite with them. 1560 in 1560, this prohibition was put in force in Hamburgh, with this further injunction, "that…
*Id. p. 336.
† Mosh. EC. Hist., vol. iii. p. 336.
…no re-baptized persons should be taken into employment, or exercise any profession." Notwithstanding these severe measures, they increased, though some were driven into different provinces, as was Menno. It is said of these persecuted people this year, "that most of them do show signs of a pious disposition;" "and it seems to be rather by mistake," says Dr. Wall, "than by any willful wickedness, that they have departed from the true sense of the Scripture, and the uniform agreement of the (catholic) church. They seem worthy rather of pity and due information, than of persecution or being undone."* Their steadfast piety and consistent conversation, created respect among those clergy who were strict Lutherans; these made a public declaration of "their most heartfelt regard (or the Baptists, and of their affection for them as their much-beloved brethren." These Christian spirits increased considerably in the middle of the sixteenth century. And at this period some were numbered among them, who were learned and pious.† Their increase is illustrative of "the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew." Menno continued to labor with indefatigable 1561 industry until the ensuing Jan. 15, 1561, when he died at Wustenfelde, and was buried in his own garden. o "Menno had," says Dr. Mosheim, "the inestimable advantage of a natural and persuasive eloquence. He appears to have been a man of probity, pliable and obsequious in his commerce with persons of all ranks and characters, and extremely zealous in promoting practical religion and virtue, which he recommended by his…
*Hist. of Inf. Bap. pt. 2. p. 275.
† Bap. Mag., vol. xiv. p. 58.
o Ib. vol. x. p. 361.
…example as well as his precepts. During the space of twenty-five years, he traveled from one country to another, with his wife and children, exercising his ministry under pressures and calamities of various kinds, that succeeded each other without intermission, and constantly exposed to the dangers of falling a victim to the severity of the laws. East and West Friesland, together with the province of Groningen, were first visited by this zealous apostle of the Baptists; from thence, he directed his course into Holland, Gelderland, Brabant, and Westphalia, continuing it through the German provinces that lie on the coast of the Baltic sea, and penetrated so far as Livonia. In all these places, his ministrations were attended with remarkable success, and added to his denomination a prodigious number of 'proselytes.*
36. The severity of the enemy's measures compelled Menno, with others, to migrate the year before his death. 1568 It is very Enable some of his afflicted brethren visited England about the same time.† Those who continued in the Netherlands became very numerous, and realized at length liberty for religious worship.o This…
* Hist. vol. iii. p. 330, S 8.
† Fuller's Ch. Hist., C. 16, p. 164.
o Wall's Hist., pt. 2, p, 286. Bap. Mag., vol. xv. p. 389. Mosh. Hist., iii. 346. At this period, 1577, Socinus visited Poland. (Rob. Res., p. 603.) He found all the Baptist churches strict on the terms of their communion. He disapproved of the narrowness of their policy, and showed them the innocency of mental error, and the necessity of a wider charity. He succeeded to commune without immersion, and infant baptism, with every other pernicious error, ensued to all the churches in this kingdom. This is the first record of mixed fellowship in Baptist churches. The general Baptist churches in England, pursuing the same open system, realized corresponding results. Where are our large city interests, which formerly assembled in Pinner's Hall, Collier's Rents, Petticoat Lane, Currier's Hall, Bridewell Lane? Where are the many interests, once Baptists; leaving the Pseudo-Presbyterians, as Trowbridge and others? Let us come to within fifteen miles of my domicile; who has Newport Pagnell, Old Bedford, Wollaston, Maiden, Cotton End, &c., who from being allowed to mix at the table, are now striving to subvert Keysoe and Thurleigh interests? We say, these interests are now under the control of independent ministers with their endowments and pecuniary resources; and other interests are, from the same constitution, in a regular way for transmigration! See Reasons for Strict Communion, by the Author. Verbum sapienti sat est.
…liberty granted to the Baptists in Holland would point out to the suffering brethren under Elizabeth's iron hand a suitable and providential asylum from English ignorance and tyranny; consequently, we find several Englishmen of note, and a congregation of our countrymen enjoying the advantages, at the conclusion of this century. Among those who realized this boon was a Mr. Smith. He had 1592 been a disciple of Robert Brown, and was associated with him in 1592. Being harassed by the English High Commission Court, he removed to 1606 Holland with others, and settled at Amsterdam, in 1606. Here a division took place, Mr. S. differing with his brethren on infant baptism. He settled at LEY with some brethren, where it is said he baptized himself.* His Arminian views might have prevented his uniting with the Mennonites. While in Holland he published a work on infant baptism.† (See English Baptists.) The liberty realized by our brethren in Holland allowed. in time a difference of opinion to arise on the mode of baptism, o Some of the Mennonites introduced pouring, and pleaded that it virtually contained baptism; S while the…
* NOTE.—This has been satisfactorily proven to have been a mistake. It was only a supposition at best.—ED.
† Crosby's Hist., vol. i. pp. 3 and 265.
o Bap. Mag., vol. xv. p. 398. I
S Rob. Bap., p. 549.
…greater part retained dipping, and were called immergenten.*
37. The visits of the English established a slight correspondence between the brethren of our denomination, and the severity of Elizabeth's measures having exiled all Dissenting ministers, they found it necessary to send "to Holland for a regular administration of believers' baptism, as other denominations had for ordinations." † Hearing that regular descendant Waldensian ministers were to be found in the Netherlands, they deputed Mr. Blount, who understood the Dutch language, to visit Amsterdam. He was kindly received by the church in that city, and their 1633 Pastor, Mr. John Batte. On his return, he baptized Mr. Samuel Blacklock, a minister, and these baptized the rest of the company, fifty-three in number.o The Socinians, with their pernicious charity, infected and 1658 divided these remaining Mennonite churches, S and on their ejection from Poland, they flowed into this region of liberty, and impregnated the waters of the sanctuary with the wormwood of their doctrines;|| consequently, the Mennonites, to a great extent, have departed in various respects from the principles and maxims of their ancestors, and their primitive austerity and purity is greatly diminished, especially among the Waterlandians and Germans. Their opulence relaxed their 1750 severities, and they now, with others, enjoy the sweets of this life, and are as censurable as any Christian community.([ From the ascendency of a rational religion and love of the world, divisions arose in the…
*Bap. Mag., vol. 15, p. 390.
† Neal's Hist., vol. i. p. 308
o Ivimey's Hist., vol. i. p. 143.
S Lon. Ency., Art. Collegiates.
|| Wall's Hist., vol. ii. p. 278.
([ Mosh. Hist., vol. iii. p. 341.
…seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which present the interests at this period in a humbling aspect. The gold is become dim! Those who retain the name, and we hope, 1820 the piety of their ancestors, are calculated, says Mr. Ward, at 30,000.*
38. We have thus endeavored, though feebly, to trace, in all ages of the Christian church, the footsteps of the flock. Emotions of a mixed nature have arisen within our bosoms, during our progress in this beaten path. Yet the unquestionable piety of the people, whose lives we have essayed to delineate; their consistent purity and integrity; their ardent and evident attachment to the laws of Zion; their firm and steadfast conduct in upholding truth; their open, bold, and consistent manner of witnessing, through successive ages, for the Redeemer, in the midst of surrounding darkness, wretchedness, vice, danger, and death; have so far raised our admiration and gratitude, that our pleasures, in our mental travels, have far exceeded our grief’s. Their perpetual preservation through so many ages, in the face of every opposition which could be raised by men or devils, is a pleasing feature of the veracity of THAT BEING, on the truth of whose word our hope is supported. Let us devoutly adore Him for the display of such care and tenderness towards these people, while our gratitude should be additionally enlivened, if He has permitted us to have a name—a place among the successors of such followers of the Lamb!
* Bap. Mag., vol. xii. 99, and vol. xiii. p. 392.