and Perpetuity of the Baptists
The Baptist Examiner
The Perpetuity Of The Church
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word "perpetuity" to mean "perpetual existence." When we speak of the perpetuity of Christ’s church we mean it has had perpetual existence since the day the Lord Jesus first began assembling it. The first members of the first "ekklesia" of Christ are dead; the bodies of the members of the church at Antioch have been in the grave for almost two thousand years; the folk who composed the churches of Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, Philippi, and other cities and areas mentioned in the Bible are not with us today; but the church of Jesus Christ is with us today and has been on this earth since Christ inaugurated it. Adam and Eve were members of the first family, but they are dead: nevertheless, the family has existed throughout the ages of the human race. So with the church: it has existed in every century, every year, every month, every day since it had its beginning.
The words "succession," "continuity," and "perpetuity" are words often used in reference to this subject. J. B. Moody says, "Not one of these words expresses the whole idea, but each one is nearly right, and sufficient for honest inquiry" ("My Church," page 132). Brother Moody is right; those who do not want to make an "honest inquiry" would pervert the meaning Baptists attach to such terms and make a straw-man regardless of any kind of lengthy explanation we might give; so we forbear any explanation of the terms other than what has been briefly stated as to "perpetuity.’"
CHRIST PROMISED CHURCH PERPETUITY
It is rarely denied that Christ promised His church perpetuity; very few men attempt to disprove the clear teaching of the Word of God on this point. But those who do not truly believe in perpetuity pervert the truth on the matter by saying it was to a universal, invisible church that Christ promised perpetuity and not to the church "visible" (to use their phraseology). It is quite clear, however, that there is no such invisible church mentioned in the Bible and this alone is enough to crush this idea of perpetuity. But we dare say that the primary reason for rejecting the truth of church perpetuity lies in unbelief. Men can read the promise of Christ, but because they can’t put their finger on the "visible" church in every day and age since the New Testament record was closed, they do not believe the Master’s plain promise!
Notice what the Master said: "Upon this rock I will build my church; and the grates of hell shall not prevail against it."
This verse (Matthew 16:18) is plainly a promise of perpetuity. The "gates of hell"—whatever that means and includes, whether Satan and his forces, or death, or all combined—shall not prevail against the church built by Jesus Christ, but that church shall prevail always. If it has not prevailed, then our Master’s promise is proved to be empty. If at any time the church of Jesus Christ has been overcome by "the gates of hell," then we can forget about trusting the Person who made the promise that the opposite would be true. But we cannot for a moment entertain this thought.
Never has there been a time when Ephesians 3:21 was not fulfilled:
"Unto him be glory in the church by Christ, Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
The Corinthian church was told that the Lord’s Supper would be observed "till he came" (1 Corinthians 11:26) . That indicates the perpetuity of the church.
So the promise is there. We should believe it, not try to get around it because of our inability to see the perpetuity. Take God at His word and believe.
THE PROMISE HAS BEEN FULFILLED
Through fire, blood, and persecution unto death, the church has lived. Millions upon millions of its loyal members have given up their lives in martyrdom, yet the church has gone on. Heathen and Religionist alike have tried to extinguish the fire of the church by the fires around the stake, but to no avail. When the flames were the hottest for Christ’s church, its members were the most tenacious in their stand for the faith. Eyes were burned out, tongues were pulled out from the roots, ears were filled with hot lead, bodies were mangled and mutilated and thrown to the wild beasts—but the church of Jesus Christ came on victoriously over "the gates of hell."
We know the promise has been fulfilled because no promise of the Master has ever or will ever fail. Every saint of God ought to FIRST believe on the basis that GOD SAID IT. Oh, how many must see before they believe! When God says a thing, we ought to immediately believe it is so, regardless of our inability to see. But after we have once accepted the plain statement of God, it is not difficult for us to SEE the promise literally fulfilled.
Let us look at it this way: A man stands on one side of a river with a cable in his hand. He says, "I am going to cross this river and stretch this cable under the water. The cable is attached to a pole on the bank and the man goes down into his boat and pulls the long cable into the water. Eventually he reaches the other side and there attaches the other end of the cable to another pole.
Now a young lad comes up and sees the cable extending from the pole into the water. He looks across the river and there is the other end of the cable. He cannot see the greater portion of the cable because it is submerged in the river, but he knows that the cable he sees on one side is the same cable he sees on the other.
When we see the church that Jesus built go into what is called the "Dark Ages;" and when we stand on this side of the Dark Ages and see a church come forth that is the same in all its characteristics as the Master’s church, what are we to conclude? On the basis of the Master’s promise and the doctrinal identification of the two churches, we can say that this present-day church coming out of the Dark Ages is one and the same as the church of New Testament times. We don’t have to be able to see the perpetuity in order for it to actually be there. On the basis of God’s promise we know it is there, and on the basis of the doctrinal oneness of the two churches, we know they are one and the same.
Who was it that suffered death at the hands of the Roman emperors, if not the church’s members? Who was it that was persecuted by apostate Romanism, if not the church? When Romanism covered the European nations as thick darkness, who was it that yet held up the light of the Gospel of Christ, if not Christ’s church? Who was it that left their marks on the caves and underground hiding places of these nations? Whose blood was it that bathed the soil of the earth during the Dark Ages? When the Protestant Reformation arose within the Romish stronghold, who was it that was persecuted by both Romanists and Protestants? Who stood true to the Bible on baptism when Romanism and Protestantism were propagating sprinkling and pouring with a zeal that brought wrath down upon immersionists?
We find our answer in the church that Jesus built.
People talk of Romanism as being the "Mother church;" people talk of Protestant groups as being "branches of the church;" Rome is a mother, yes—the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth (Rev. 17:5) . Protestants are the rebellious daughters of Rome, and the many Protestant "branches" are truly branches of Rome. But the church of Jesus Christ has no part nor lot with Rome and Protestantism. God says to all His people in either and both of these movements, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." God’s church was here before the old whore of Rome; it was here a good 1500 years before Luther and Calvin. What truth Luther and Calvin taught had been taught all through the ages before; what heresy they taught will eventually lead their movements back to "Mother" Rome from whence they came.
THE PROMISE FULFILLED IN BAPTIST CHURCHES
We want to make one thing clear with regard to the name "Baptist." We make no claim whatsoever to perpetuity on the basis of the title "Baptist." We are convinced that Christ built a Baptist Church, but the name "Baptist," as the name "Christian," was not given to the church by Christ or any writer of the New Testament. We accept the name Baptist as the early saints eventually accepted the name Christian. There is nothing about the name Baptist for which to be ashamed. It is drenched with blood—the blood shed because of faithfulness to God’s Word. Its history carries us back to those called "Ana-baptists" (or re-baptizers). Real Baptists have a precious heritage in their name. We love the name and what it signifies. But we build no doctrine or conviction upon it and if the time ever comes that Baptists must bear some other reproachful title by which they are identified by their enemies, then Baptists will no doubt accept it and unashamedly stand for the faith.
With this matter as to the name Baptist clarified, we wish to now demonstrate that Christ built only a Baptist church. Our method will be one of simplicity, one that any child can understand. The testing of the various denominations in the light of history will lead us to the inevitable conclusion that the churches known today as Baptist are the only ones that could possibly claim to be or actually be descendants of the church that Jesus built.
All of the recent Protestant organizations and other sects and schisms are clearly eliminated from any claim as being the church Christ built, for history marks their beginning far this side of the time of Christ.
Lutherans. of course, were the followers of the great Protestant reformer, Martin Luther. In the early sixteenth century, Luther began his efforts toward cleaning up the Roman Church, which he considered to be the church of the Lord. Particularly between 1520 and 1530, Lutheranism developed so as to eventually become a separate movement from Romanism.
Presbyterians are so-called because of their form of government and owe their origin and practices to John Calvin. Calvin, like Luther, was a Romanist, and he, too, tried to clean up the Roman Church. His movement, as a separate movement from Romanism, is usually dated at 1536, the year when Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion appeared.
The Episcopal Church had its beginning in 1534 when Henry the Eighth broke with Rome. The reason back of Henry’s action was his desire to be divorced from his wife in order to marry another person. Rome refused his request for divorce, so Henry broke with the Pope and became the head of the Church of England, known as the Episcopal Church because of its form of government.
The Congregational Church had its beginning with a man named Robert Brown. It was in 1580 that this Episcopalian schoolteacher led in the organization of this church. However, historians tell us that Brown later went back to the Church of England—but his movement is still with us today.
Methodism also sprang off from the Church of England. As a result of the work of John Wesley, his brother Charles, and associates, the movement branded as "Methodism" by Church of England leaders who opposed it, eventually became a separate denomination in 1739. Wesley did not intend this to be done, but it was only inevitable after all that took place during his ministry.
Campbellism manifested today in groups known as Disciples of Christ, Church of Christ, and The Christian Church, owes it origin to a zealous and very intelligent man named Alexander Campbell. ‘Campbell was a brilliant man, but knew nothing about salvation; he taught that sins are literally washed away in baptism. The actual date when this movement began is disputed. But the Campbellites themselves usually assign 1827 as the year.
Holy Rollerism, is the offspring of Methodism and there are so many different sects and schisms among them that we forbear listing them. It has been since 1900 that Holy Rollerism has developed so rapidly and widely. All Holy Roller groups—Pentecostal, Nazarene, Assemblies of God, Holiness, Four Square, etc. —are basically Wesleyan in theology, emphasizing in particular the Wesleyan heresy of sinless perfection.
As for the groups usually called "sects," Seventh-Day Adventists were put on foot by William Miller and developed under Ellen G. White, dating back to the 1840’s. Mormonism began with Joseph Smith and was organized in 1830. Mary Baker Eddy concocted Christian Science and the organization of the first society was in Boston, in 1879. C. T. Russell instigated the Jehovah Witness movement in the 1870’s.
Since all of these groups mentioned had their beginning at a later date than the first century A. D., they certainly cannot qualify as being the church built by the Saviour. They are therefore eliminated. It does not matter what they believe; if they had a beginning this side of Christ, they are not the church Christ built.
We have not as yet mentioned Roman Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Church claims to be the church built by Christ. But history reveals that Romanism gradually developed from apostate groups who were not sound in the faith. Over a period of years, certain groups fell for the notion of the primacy of the bishop of Rome until the papacy was the result. Constantine played an important role in Romanism’s rise and by the sixth century, the papal seat was well established. Thus, Romanism could not be the church built by Christ.
WHAT ABOUT BAPTISTS
We have shown that Protestants and others mentioned (some not mentioned) cannot qualify historically as Christ’s church. Can Baptists qualify? We believe they can.
There is one church (and I here use the term "church" in the generic sense) which cannot be traced back to any man this side of Jesus Christ. That is the Baptist Church. The author has tried to study Baptist history from both friend and foe and he has found that the opinions of non-Baptist historians as to the history and origin of Baptists to be as follows:
(1) Unprejudiced historians who care only for what is, or at least appears to them to be historical truth, trace Baptists through the Anabaptists, Waldenses, and other nick-named groups—which held to the same general principles as Baptists—all the way back to the apostolic age.
(2) Other historians whose integrity seems to have been of the highest type are uncertain about Baptists and do not know when Baptists had their beginning. With J. L. Mosheim, the great Lutheran historian born in the late sixteenth century, they agree that the history of Baptists is involved in "much obscurity," or is perhaps "hidden in the depths of antiquity, and is of consequence difficult to be ascertained." (History of the Anabaptists, pages 490, 491) .
(3) Enemies of Baptists, anxious to bring Baptists down on the same level with other groups put on foot by men, have tried their uttermost to attribute the origin of Baptists to some person. The author has in his library anti-Baptist literature which names several different persons, each supposedly being the founder of Baptists. The enemies are thus divided amongst themselves, and have failed to satisfy anyone who is really searching for the truth.
Personally, the author believes that the history of the church from the time of the apostles is so foggy that it has not and never will be written. We have some great histories that have been composed by very studious and earnest men, but these are nothing but muddy water, if not mud, compared with what we believe to be the church’s true history. Modern historians, actually know very little about the ages gone by. There are so few records of the history prior to the printing press that our knowledge is greatly limited.
Not only is our historical knowledge limited for lack of records, but also by lack of knowledge on the part of the authors of records which we have. Imagine how limited a writer of the Dark Ages must have been! He had no means of communication such as we have today and very little contact with other nations, not to mention what was actually taking place in those nations. Whatever a person of that age would write would be reliable only as it concerned local affairs.
Another thing to consider is that writers have not always recorded information about every religious movement. The history of the church is greatly clouded because of this in particular. We have an illustration of this very thing in even the twentieth century. Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Convention) recently published a large two volume encyclopedia. In this encyclopedia there is information of some sort on practically all present-day Baptists. But there is no information whatsoever on Baptist Churches such as the one to which the author belongs, except references to particular doctrines which we hold in common with some other groups named. The church to which the author belongs is located in Ashland, Kentucky, and within the radius of fifty miles of Ashland, there are at last fifteen independent Baptist churches of like faith and order. Furthermore, through our weekly paper, The Baptist Examiner, we have contact with a great number of other churches of like faith and order. The new encyclopedia of the Southern Baptist Convention publishing house will no doubt come to be regarded as a historical document in years to come of the Lord tarries His coming). When the historians of the future look into this document for records as to the Baptists of this day, they will find no record of churches of the kind just mentioned. Yet this encyclopedia should be the one most likely to give such information because the faith and order of Convention churches is in precept essentially the same as that of these independent churches.
When a twentieth century publication completely overlooks churches and gives no information about them, then it is certainly not difficult for us to understand how historians and writers of the past ages could have very easily or deliberately done the same. And this is not even taking into consideration the bigotry and hatred for Baptists that has characterized non-Baptist writers.
Yes, Baptist history is cloudy so far as the written record is concerned, but were God to uncover the clouds of the past ages we have not the slightest doubt that we would see a glorious path that leads through some nineteen hundred years of God-honoring witnessing for Christ and truth.
Proving that Baptists are linked with the Anabaptists, Waldenses, Donatists, Novatians, etc., is not too important. Of course, it is important that Baptists be linked with the church which has descended from Christ, but whether all (or any of) these groups named were the expressions of Christ’s church in their day and age, we do not definitely know. No doubt some of the churches in these groups were not sound in the faith, just as many churches among Baptists today are not sound. But there is great possibility and strong indication from what history is recorded of them, that these Anabaptists and Waldenses and other groups held to the same truths for which the churches of the New Testament stood. That in some of these groups there were things which are not in harmony with what we believe to be New Testament teaching is not denied. But let us remember that what is recorded in history as being the position of a certain group does not mean that the entire group or even the majority of the group held to such. Furthermore, let it be remembered that right along side these groups who had some error mixed with truth we do not know that there weren’t other churches that were entirely free from the error and held solely to the truth Today a person could go into a church called Baptist and hear many things which sound Baptists do not believe. If that person were to judge all Baptists by this one church he would have a wrong impression. Now this is exactly what happened in many instances in ages past, no doubt. When someone points to some inconsistency on the part of a certain group, we say, "Prove that all the churches held to that. Prove that there were not other churches standing against this error."
Also, it should be remembered that most history has been written by the enemies of Baptists. Baptists, as a result of persecution, were unable to do much by way of writing. They were too busy seeking a place to worship without persecution to give time to write; and furthermore, they were poor people and unable to buy equipment to print or pay for the printing. One more fortunate Baptist brother wrote a little tract in which he said: "We that have most truth are persecuted, and therefore most poor; whereby we are unable to write and print, or we would, against the adversaries of truth. It is hard for us to get our daily bread with our weak bodies and feeble hands. How, then, should we have means to defray other charges, and to write and print?" (The Origin of Baptists by S. F. Ford, page 20) .
We should expect, then, that Baptists of the past would be greatly slandered and misrepresented, even as they now are in this day when we have again and again made our views clear. Papists and Pedobaptists have never been satisfied with Baptists and their doctrines and never will be. They shall try to annihilate them one way or another as long as Baptists stand for the truth.
WHAT HISTORIANS SAY ABOUT BAPTISTS
With these things taken into consideration, we now wish to call attention to some of the things that historians have stated with regard to the history of Baptists. These quotations reveal that if any one can lay claim to being the church that has descended from Jesus Christ, it must be the Baptists.
J. Newton Brown, editor of the Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge and a scholar of renown, maintained that "the ancient Waldenses, Cathari, Peterines and Donatists were our historical ancestors, and that a succession of whom continued up to the Reformation." (Quoted by Graves in Old Landmarkism, page 127) .
David Benedict, though often misinterpreted by many enemies of Baptist perpetuity, says: "The more I study the subject, the stronger are my convictions that, if all the facts in the case could be disclosed, a very good succession could be made out" (History of Baptists, page 51 ).
Mosheim says of the Anabaptists:
"The true origin of that sect which acquired the name of Anabaptists, by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion, and derived that of Mennonites from that famous man (Simon Menno) to whom they owe the greatest part of their present felicity, is hid in the remote depths of antiquity, and is, consequently, extremely difficult to be ascertained." (Maclaine’s 1811 edition of Mosheim’s work, Vol. IV, pages 427, 428).
In a work entitled The History of the Reformed Church of the Netherlands, two Pedobaptist historians, J. J. Dermount, chaplain to the king of Holland, and Professor A. Ypeig, professor of theology in the University of Groningen, wrote:
"The Mennonites are descended from the tolerably pure evangelical Waldenses, who were driven by persecution into various countries; and who during the latter part of the twelfth century fled into Flanders; and into the provinces of Holland and Zeeland, where they lived simple and exemplary lives, in the villages as farmers (in towns by trades) free from the charge of any gross immoralities, and professing the most pure and simple principles, which they exemplified in a holy conversation. They were, therefore, in existence long before the Reformed Church of the Netherlands.
"We have now seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites, were the original Waldenses, and who have long in history received the honor of that origin. On this account the Baptists may be considered as 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. The perfectly correct external and internal economy of the Baptist denomination tends to confirm the truth, disputed by the Romish Church, that the Reformation brought about in the sixteenth century was in the highest degree necessary, and at the some time goes to refute the erroneous notion of the Catholics that their denomination is the most ancient." (Vol. 1, page 148).
The men who wrote this statement, remember, were not Baptists, but Pedobaptist scholars of the Dutch Reformed Church.
Theodore Beza, the friend, pupil, co-pastor, and successor of Calvin, is quoted by Jones in his History of the Christian Church as saying:
"As for the Waldenses, I may be permitted to call them the very seed of the primitive and purer Christian church, since they are those that have been upheld, as is abundantly manifested, by the wonderful providence of God; so that neither those endless storms and tempests, by which the whole Christian world has been shaken for so many succeeding ages, and the western parts, of length so miserably oppressed by the bishops of Rome, falsely so called, nor those horrible persecutions, which have been expressly raised against them, were ever able so far to prevail as to make them bend or yield a voluntary subjection to the Roman tyranny and idolatry." (Page 353) .
Cardinal Hosius, president of the Council of Trent (A. D. 1550).
"If the truth of religion were to be judged of by the readiness and cheerfulness which a man of any sect shows in suffering, then the opinion and persuasion of no sect can be truer and surer than that of Anabaptists, since there have been none, for these twelve hundred years past, that have been more generally punished, or that have more cheerfully and steadfastly undergone, and even offered themselves to, the most cruel sorts of punishment, than these people." (Letters, Apud Opera, pages 112, 113).
Notice this quotation does not date the origin of Anabaptists 1200 years prior to the time Hosius lived, but is in reference to the persecution suffered by them. The use of the name "Anabaptist" did begin during these early years but that was only because the churches would not receive alien immersion or anything else as baptism. They were thus called "Anabaptists" rebaptizers). The churches repudiated this name since they did not consider their practice as being a re-baptism but the first Scriptural baptism that those baptized had actually received.
Again Hosius says:
"The Anabaptists are a pernicious sect. Of which kind the Waldensian brethren seem to have been, although some of them lately, as they testify in their apology, declare that they will no longer re-baptize, as was their former custom; nevertheless, it is certain that many of them retain their custom, and have united with the Anabaptists." (Works of the Heresaeics of Our Time, Book 1, page 431).
Philuppus van Limborch, the historian of the Inquisition, says:
"To speak my mind freely, if their opinions and customs were to be examined without prejudice, it would appear that-among all of the modern sects of Christians, they (Anabaptists) had the greatest resemblance to that of the Mennonites or Dutch Baptists." (History of the Inquisition, 1 , page 51) .
Ulrich Zwingli, the Swiss reformer.
"The institution of Anabaptism is no novelty, but for one thousand and three hundred years has caused great disturbance in the church, and has acquired such a strength that the attempt in this age to contend with it appeared futile for a time." (From the introduction to Orchard’s Concise History of Baptists).
John T. Christian quotes this statement with regard to the Waldenses made by an Austrain inquisitor in the Diocese of Passau about 1260:
"Among all the sects, there is no one more pernicious to the church (Roman Catholic) than that of the Leonists (Waldenses), and for three reasons: In the first place, because it is the most ancient; for some say that it dates back to the time of Sylvester (A:D. 325); others to the time of the apostles: In the second place, because it is the most widespread. There is hardly a country where it does not exist. In the third piece, because if other sects strike with horror those who listen to them, the Leonists, on the contrary, possess a great outward piety. As a matter of fact they lead irreproachable lives before men and as regards their faith and the articles of their creed, they are orthodox. Their one fault is, that they blaspheme against the Church (of Rome) and the clergy, points to which laymen in general are known to be too easily lead away." (Gretscher, Contra Valdenses, IV. As given in A History of Baptists by Christian, page 72).
In his debate with the Roman Bishop J. B. Purcell, Alexander Campbell also quotes the foregoing statement (page 174) . Toplady likewise refers to it (Works, page 90) .
Augustus Toplady, perhaps no scholar in ecclesiastical history, but one who certainly was an outstanding student of it, says:
"According to Pilichdorffius, the Waldenses themselves carried up the date of their commencement as a body, as high as three hundred years after Constantine, i.e. to about the year 637. For my own part, I believe their antiquity to have been higher still. 1 agree with some of our oldest and best Protestant divines, in considering the Albigenses, or Waldenses (for they were, in fact, one and the same), to have been a branch of that visible Church, against which the gates of hell could never totally prevail; and that the uninterrupted succession of Apostolical doctrine continued with them, from the primitive times, quite down to the Reformation: soon after which period they seem to have been melted into the inner mass of Protestants." (Works, page 89).
Concerning the last remark, let it be understood that Toplady, being a Protestant, no doubt includes Baptists in his reference, although Baptists are not Protestants. As Sir Isaac Newton has said, "Baptists are the only Christians who have not symbolized with Rome." (See Memoirs of Whiston, page 201) .
John Wesley, in his Explanation Notes upon the New Testament, comments on Revelation 13:7 as follows:
"‘And it was giver, him’—That is God permitted him, ‘To make war with his saints’—With the Waldenses and Albigenses. It is a vulgar mistake, that the Waldenses were so called from Peter Waldo of Lyons. They were much more ancient than he; and their true name was Vallenses or Vaudois, from their inhabiting the valleys of Lucerne and Agrogne . . . Against these many of the Popes made open war. Till now the blood of Christians had been shed only by the heathen or Arians, from this time by scarce any but the Papacy."
Robert Barclay, a Quaker, states:
"We shall afterwards show the rise of the Anabaptists took place prior to the Reformation of the Church of England, and there are also reasons for believing that or, the Continent of Europe small hidden Christian societies, who have held many of the opinions of the Anabaptists, have existed from the time, of the apostles. In the sense of the direct transmission of Divine Truth, and the true nature of spiritual religion, it seems probable that these churches have a lineage or succession more ancient than that of the Roman Catholic Church." (The Inner Life of the Societies of the Commonwealth, pages 11, 12).
Augustus Neander, a famous name in ecclesiastical history, says
"But it is not without some foundation of truth that the Waldenses of this period asserted the high antiquity of their sect, and maintained that from the time of the secularization of the church—that is, as they believed, from the time of Constantine’s gift to the Roman bishop Sylvester—such an opposition finally broke forth in them, had been existing all along." (History of the Christian Church, Vol. V11, page 352).
Jonathan Edwards, the famous president of Princeton University, in History of Redemption, says of the Waldenses:
"Some of the Popish writers themselves own that the people never submitted to the church of Rome. One of the Popish writers, speaking of the Waldenses, says the heresy of the Waldenses is the oldest heresy in the world. It is supposed, that this people first betook themselves from the severity of the heathen persecutions, which were before Constantine the Great."
Alexander Campbell, founder of the movement which has split into groups called Disciples of Christ, Church of Christ, and The Christian Church, bears witness to the perpetuity of Baptists. In an appendix to the published debate with Walker, Campbell says
"While the Protestant church must date its origin from the nineteenth of April 1529—that memorable day on which fourteen cities of Germany protested against a decree of the Diet of Spires, which met in the March preceding; while the Presbyterian Church must date its origin from the autumn of 1537, the year in which John Calvin published his Confession of Faith, had a Public Debate with Peter Caroli, and constituted a church in Geneva: whilst the Scotch Presbyterians must date their origin from the arrival of John Knox in Scotland from Geneva, who arriving there Anno Domini 1558, and becoming a champion in the cause of Presbyterianism, was denominated the ‘Scotch Apostle John Knox’; while the English Presbyterians must date their origin from November 20, 1572, ‘when a small Presbyterian Church was erected at Wandsworth, a village near London’: whilst the Seceders must date their origin from August, 1733, when Messrs. E. Erskine, W. Wilson, A. Moncrief, and J. Fisher, were deposed and excluded from the communion of the Presbyterian church, and become the founders of a new sect: while the Unionists or Scotch Burghers; must date their origin from the year 1747: the Methodists from John Wesley, 1729: the Quakers from George Fox, 1655: —I say, while all these sects are of recent origin, not one of them yet 300 years old—not one of them able to furnish a Model of their peculiarities, or antiquity, greater than I have mentioned, the Baptists can trace their origin to apostolic times, and produce unequivocal testimonies of their existence in every century down to the present time; and the MODEL of their peculiarities the Scriptures themselves afford, as far as the name BAPTIST is concerned." (Pages 261, 262).
In his debate with Maccalla, Campbell stated that "Clouds of witnesses attest the fact that before the Reformation from popery, and from the apostolic age to the present time, the sentiments of Baptists, and the practice of baptism, have had a continued chain of advocates, and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced." (Reproduced edition of 1948, page 339)
Debating with Rice, Campbell stated:
"In reference to the subject of succession as respects the question before us, let me be permitted to say, that since the days of the bishop Sylvester till now, there have been immersed multitudes of persons not members of the church of Rome. They have been called by many names, such as Danites, Paulicians, Henricians, Novatians, Petrobusians, Waldenses, Albigenes, etc., a mighty host of men, never under the direct influence of popery, who, in all ages bore their firm and unwavering testimony against all its assumptions and pollutions." (Page 587)
In his book on Christian Baptism, page 409, he says:
"There is nothing more congenial to civil liberty than to enjoy an unrestrained, unembargoed liberty of exercising the conscience freely upon ail subjects respecting religion. Hence it is that the Baptist denomination, in all ages and in all countries, has been, as a body, the constant asserters of the rights of man and of liberty of conscience. They have often been persecuted by Pedobaptists; but they never politically persecuted, though they have had it in their power."
The Edinburg Cyclopedia (Presbyterian)
"It must have already occurred to our readers that the Baptists are the same sect of Christians that were formerly described under the appellation of Anabaptists. Indeed, this seems to have been their leading principle from the time of Tertullian to the present time." (The New Testament Church by Martin, page 22) .
Crossing the Centuries, edited by William C. King, having as associate counselors, editors, collaborators and contributors such as Cardinal Gibbons (Roman Catholic), Bishop John H. Vincent (Methodist), President Theodore Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson, W. H. P. Founce (President of Brown University), Albert Bushnell Hart, head of the History Department of Harvard University, George B. Adams of Yale, and many more such famous men, says:
"Of the Baptists it may be said that they are not reformers. These people, comprising bodies of Christian believers known under various names in different countries, are entirely distinct and independent of the Roman and Greek churches, and have an unbroken continuity of existence from apostolic days down through the centuries. Throughout this long period, they were bitterly persecuted for heresy, driven from country to country, disfranchised, deprived of their property, imprisoned, —tortured and slain by the thousands; yet they swerved not from their New Testament faith; doctrine and adherence." (Quoted in The New Testament Church by Martin, page 26).
In view of what we have said and quoted thus far, we say with J. R. Graves, "One thing is certain, if churches, now known as Baptists, holding essentially the same doctrines, administering the same ordinances for the same purpose, and to the same subjects, are not the true church of Christ; then Christ has never had a church on this earth." (Great Carrollton Debate, page 841).