1. These three centuries, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth, are among the most eventful in all the world's history, and especially is this true in Christian history. There was almost a continual revolution inside the Catholic Church--both Roman and Greek--seeking a Reformation. This awakening of long dormant Conscience and the desire for a genuine reformation really began in the thirteenth century or possibly even a little earlier than that. History certainly seems to indicate it.
2. Let's go back just a little. The Catholic Church by its many departures from New Testament teachings, its many strange and cruel laws, and its desperately low state of morals, and its hands and clothes reeking with the blood of millions of martyrs, has become obnoxious and plainly repulsive to many of its adherents, who are far better than their own system and laws and doctrines and practices. Several of its bravest and best and most spiritual priests and other leaders, one by one, sought most earnestly to reform many of its most objectionable laws and doctrines and get back, at least nearer, to the plain teachings of the New Testament. We give some striking examples. Note, not only how far apart and where the reformatory fires began, but note also the leaders in the reformation. The leaders were, or had been, all Catholic priests or officials of some kind. There was, even yet, a little of good in the much evil. However, at this time there was probably not one solitary unmarred doctrine of the New Testament retained in its original purity -- but now note some of the reformers and where they labored.
3. It is well to note, however, that for many centuries prior to this great reformation period, there were a number of noted characters, who rebelled against the awful extremes of the Catholic -- and earnestly sought to remain loyal to the Bible -- but their bloody trail was about all that was left of them. We come now to study for awhile this most noted period -- the "Reformation."
4. From 1320 to 1384 there lived a man in England who attracted world-wide attention. His name was John Wycliff. He was the first of the brave fellows who had the courage to attempt a real reformation inside the Catholic Church. He is many times referred to in history as "The Morning Star of the Reformation." He lived an earnest and effective life. It would really require several volumes to contain anything like an adequate history of John Wycliff. He was hated, fearfully hated, by the leaders of the Catholic hierarchy. His life was persistently sought. He finally died of paralysis. But years later, so great was Catholic hatred, his bones were dug and burned, and his ashes scattered upon the waters.
5. Following tolerably close on the heels of Wycliff came John Huss, 1373-1415, a distinguished son from far away Bohemia. His soul had felt and responded to the brilliant light of England's "Morning Star." His was a brave and eventful life, but painfully and sadly short. Instead of awakening a responsive chord among his Catholic people in favor of a real reformation, he aroused a fear and hatred and opposition which resulted in his being burned at the stake -- a martyr among his own people. And yet he was seeking their own good. He loved his Lord and he loved his people. However, he was only one of many millions who had thus to die.
6. Next to John Huss of Bohemia, came a wonderful son of Italy, the marvelously eloquent Savonarola, 1452-1498. Huss was burned in 1415, Savonarola was born 37 years later. He, like Huss, though a devout Catholic, found the leaders of his people -- the people of Italy -- like those of Bohemia, against all reformation. But he, by his mighty eloquence, succeeded in awakening some conscience and securing a considerable following. But a real reformation in the Hierarchy meant absolute ruin to the higher-ups in that organization. So Savonarola, as well as Huss, must die. HE TOO WAS BURNED AT THE STAKE. Of all the eloquent men of that great period, Savonarola possibly stood head and shoulders above all others. But he was contending against a mighty organization and their existence demanded that they fight the reformation, so Savonarola must die.
7. Of course, in giving the names of the reformers of this period, many names are necessarily to be left out. Only those most frequently referred to in history are mentioned here. Following Italy's golden tongued orator came a man from Switzerland. Zwingle was born before Savonarola died. He lived from 1484 to 1531. The spirit of reformation was beginning now to fill the whole land. Its fires are now breaking out faster and spreading more rapidly and becoming most difficult to control. This one kindled by Zwingle was not yet more than partially smothered before another, more serious than all the rest, had broken out in Germany. Zwingle died in battle.
8. Martin Luther, probably the most noted of all the fifteenth and sixteenth century reformers, lived 1483 to 1546, and as can be seen by the dates, was very nearly an exact contemporary of Zwingle. He was born one year earlier and lived fifteen years later. Far more, probably, than history definitely states, his great predecessors have in great measure made easier his hard way before him. Furthermore, he learned from their hard experience, and then later, and most thoroughly from his own, that a genuine reformation inside the Catholic Church would be an utter impossibility. Too many reform measures would be needed. One would demand another and others demand yet others, and so on and on.
9. So Martin Luther, after many hard fought battles with the leaders of Catholicism, and aided by Melancthon and other prominent Germans, became the founder in 1530, or, about then, of an entirely new Christian organization, now known as the Lutheran Church, which very soon became the Church of Germany. This was the first of the new organizations to come directly out of Rome and renounce all allegiance to the Catholic Mother Church (as she is called) and to continue to live thereafter.
10. Skipping now for a little while, the Church of England, which comes next to the Lutheran in its beginnings, we will follow for a little while the Reformation on the Continent. From 1509 to 1564, there lived another of the greatest of the reformers. This was John Calvin, a Frenchman, but seeming at the time to be living in Switzerland. He was really a mighty man. He was a contemporary of Martin Luther for 30 years, and was 22 years old when Zwingle died. Calvin is the accredited founder of the Presbyterian church. Some of the historians, however, give that credit to Zwingle, but the strongest evidence seems to favor Calvin. Unquestionably the work of Zwingle, as well as that of Luther, made much easier the work of Calvin. So in 1541, just eleven years (that seems to be the year), after the founding by Luther of the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church came into existence. It too, as in the case of the Lutherans, was led by a reformed Catholic priest or at least official. These six -- Wycliff, Huss, Savonarola, Zwingle, Luther and Calvin, great leaders in their great battles for reformation, struck Catholicism a staggering blow.
11. In 1560, nineteen years after Calvin's first organization in Geneva, Switzerland, John Knox, a disciple of Calvin, established the first Presbyterian Church in Scotland, and just thirty-two years later, 1592, the Presbyterian became the State Church of Scotland.
12. During all these hard struggles for Reformation, continuous and valuable aid was given to the reformers, by many Ana-Baptists, or whatever other name they bore. Hoping for some relief from their own bitter lot, they came out of their hiding places and fought bravely with the reformers, but they were doomed to fearful disappointment. They were from now on to have two additional persecuting enemies. Both the Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches brought out of their Catholic Mother many of her evils, among them her idea of a State Church. They both soon became Established Churches. Both were soon in the persecuting business, falling little, if any, short of their Catholic Mother.
"THE TRAIL OF BLOOD"
Sad and awful was the fate of these long-suffering Ana-Baptists. The world now offered no sure place for hiding. Four hard persecutors were now hot on their trail. Surely theirs was a "Trail of Blood."
13. During the same period, really earlier by several years than the Presbyterians, arose yet another new denomination, not on the continent, but in England. However, this came about not so much by way of reformation (though that evidently made it easier) as by way of a real split or division in the Catholic ranks. More like the division in 869, when Eastern Catholics separated from the Western, and became from that time on, known in history as the Greek and Roman Catholic Churches. This new division came about somewhat in this wise:
England's king, Henry VIII, had married Catherine of Spain, but unfortunately, after some time his somewhat troublesome heart had fallen in love with Anne Boleyn. So he wanted to divorce Catherine and marry Annie. Getting a divorce back then was no easy matter. Only the Pope could grant it, and he in this case, for special reasons, declined to grant it. Henry was in great distress. Being king, he felt he ought to be entitled to follow his own will in the matter. His Prime Minister (at that time Thomas Cromwell) rather made sport of the King. Why do you submit to papal authority on such matters? Henry followed his suggestion, threw off papal authority and made himself head of the Church of England. Thus began the new Church of England. This was consummated in 1534 or 1535. At that time there was no change in doctrine, simply a renunciation of the authority of the Pope. Henry at heart really never became a Protestant. He died in the Catholic faith.
14. But this split did ultimately result in some very considerable change, or reformation, While a reformation within the Catholic Church and under papal authority, as in the case of Luther and others, was impossible, it became possible after the division. Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley and others led in some marked changes. However, they and many others paid a bloody price for the changes when a few years later, Mary, "Bloody Mary," a daughter of the divorced Catherine, came to the English throne, and carried the new Church back under the papal power. This fearful and terrific reaction ended with the strenuous and bloody five-year reign of Mary. While the heads were going under the bloody axe of Mary, hers went with them. The people had gotten, however, a partial taste of freedom so when Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn (for whom Catherine was divorced), became Queen, the Church of England again overthrew papal power and was again re-established.
15. Thus, before the close of the Sixteenth Century, there were five established Churches -- churches backed up by civil governments -- the Roman and Greek Catholics counted as two; then the Church of England; then the Lutheran, or Church of Germany; then the Church of Scotland, now known as the Presbyterian. All of them were bitter in their hatred and persecution of the people called Ana-Baptists, Waldenses and all other non-established churches, churches which never in any way had been connected with the Catholics. Their great help in the struggle for reformation had been forgotten, or was now wholly ignored. Many more thousands, including both women and children were constantly perishing every day in the yet unending persecutions. The great hope awakened and inspired by the reformation had proven to be a bloody delusion. Remnants now find an uncertain refuge in the friendly Alps and other hiding places over the world.
16. These three new organizations, separating from, or coming out of the Catholics, retained many of their most hurtful errors, some of which are as follows:
- Preacher-church government (differing in form).
- Church Establishment (Church and State combination).
- Infant BAPTISM
- Sprinkling or Pouring for Baptism.
- Baptismal Regeneration (some at least, and others, if many of their historians are to be accredited).
- Persecuting others (at least for centuries).
17. In the beginning all these established Churches persecuted one another as well as every one else, but at a council held at Augsburg in 1555, a treaty of peace, known as the "Peace of Augsburg" was signed between the "Catholics" on the one hand, and the "Lutherans" on the other, agreeing not to persecute each other. You let us alone, and we will let you alone. For Catholics to fight Lutherans meant war with Germany, and for Lutherans to fight or persecute Catholics meant war with all the countries where Catholicism predominated.
"THE TRAIL OF BLOOD"
18. But persecutions did not then cease. The hated Ana-Baptists (called Baptists today), in spite of all prior persecutions, and in spite of the awful fact that fifty million had already died martyr deaths, still existed in great numbers. It was during this period that along one single European highway, thirty miles distance, stakes were set up every few feet along this highway, the tops of the stakes sharpened, and on the top of each stake was placed a gory head of a martyred Ana-Baptist. Human imagination can hardly picture a scene so awful! And yet a thing perpetrated, according to reliable history, by a people calling themselves devout followers of the meek and lowly Jesus Christ.
19. Let it be remembered that the Catholics do not regard the Bible as the sole rule and guide of faith and life. The claim that it is indeed unerring, but that there are two other things just as much so, the "Writings of the Fathers" and the decrees of the Church (Catholic Church) or the declarations of the Infallible Pope.
Hence, there could never be a satisfactory debate between Catholic and Protestant or between Catholic and Baptist, as there could never possibly be a basis of final agreement. The Bible alone can never settle anything so far as the Catholics are concerned.
20. Take as an example the question of "Baptism" and the final authority for the act and for the mode. They claim that the Bible unquestionably teaches Baptism and that it teaches immersion as the only mode. But they claim at the same time that their unerring Church had the perfect right to change the mode from immersion to sprinkling but that no others have the right or authority, none but the infallible papal authority.
21. You will note of course, and possibly be surprised at it, that I am doing in these lectures very little quoting. I am earnestly trying to do a very hard thing, give to the people the main substance of two thousand years of religious history in six hours of time.
22. It is well just here to call attention to facts concerning the Bible during these awful centuries. Remember the Bible was not then in print and there was no paper upon which to have printed even if printing had been invented. Neither was there any paper upon which to write it. Parchment, dressed goat of sheep skins, or papyrus (some kind of wood pulp), this was the stuff used upon which to write. So a book as big as the Bible, all written by hand and with a stylus of some sort, not a pen like we use today, was an enormous thing, probably larger than one man could carry. There were never more than about thirty complete Bibles in all the world. Many parts or books of the Bible like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, or Acts, or some one of the Epistles, or Revelation or some one book of the Old Testament. One of the most outstanding miracles in the whole world's history -- according to my way of thinking -- is the nearness with which God's people have thought and believed together on the main and vital points of Christianity. Of course God is the only solution. It is now a most glorious fact that we can all and each, now have a full copy of the whole Bible and each in our own native tongue.
23. It is well also for us all to do some serious and special thinking on another vital fact concerning the Bible. It has already been briefly mentioned in the lecture preceding this, but is so very vital that it will probably be wise to refer to it again. It was the action taken by the Catholics at the Council of Toulouse, held in 1229 A. D., when they decided to withhold the Bible, the Word of God from the vast majority of all their own people, the "Laymen." I am simply stating here just what they stated in their great Council. But lately in private a Catholic said to me, "Our purpose in that is to prevent their private interpretation of it." Isn't it marvelous that God should write a book for the people and then should be unwilling for the people to read it. And yet according to that book the people are to stand or fall in the day of judgment on the teachings of that book. No wonder the declaration in the book -- "Search the Scriptures (the book) for in them ye think ye have eternal life. And they are they which testify of me." Fearful the responsibility assumed by the Catholics!
FOURTH LECTURE--17th, 18th, 19th Centuries
1. This lecture begins with the beginning of the Seventeenth Century (A.D. 1601). We have passed very hurriedly over much important Christian history, but necessity his compelled this.
2. This three-century period begins with the rise of an entirely new denomination. It is right to state that some historians give the date of the beginning of the Congregational Church (at first called "Independents") as 1602. However, Schaff-Herzogg, in their Encyclopedia, place its beginning far back in the sixteenth century, making it coeval with the Lutheran and Presbyterian. In the great reformation wave many who went out of the Catholic Church were not satisfied with the extent of the reformation led by Luther and Calvin. They decided to repudiate also the preacher rule and government idea of the churches and return to the New Testament democratic idea as had been held through the fifteen preceding centuries by those who had refused to enter Constantine's hierarchy.
3. The determined contention of this new organization for this particular reform brought down upon its head bitter persecution from Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Church of England adherents -- all the established churches. However, it retained many other of the Catholic made errors, such for instance as infant baptism, pouring or sprinkling for baptism, and later adopted and practiced to an extreme degree the church and state idea. and, after refugeeing to America, themselves, became very bitter persecutors.
4. The name "Independents" or as now called "Congregationalists," is derived from their mode of church government. Some of the distinguishing principles of the English Congregationalists as given in Schaff-Herzogg Encyclopedia are as follows:
- That Jesus Christ is the only head of the church and that the Word of God is its only statue book.
- That visible churches are distinct assemblies of Godly men gathered out of the world for purely religious purposes, and not to be confounded with the world.
- That these separate churches have full power to choose their own officers and to maintain discipline.
- That in respect to their internal management they are each independent of all other churches and equally independent of state control.
5. How markedly different these principles are from Catholicism, or even Lutheranism, or Presbyterianism or the Episcopacy of the Church of England. How markedly similar to the Baptists of today, and of all past ages, and to the original teachings of Christ and His apostles.
6. In 1611, the King James English Version of the Bible appeared. Never was the Bible extensively given to the people before. From the beginning of the general dissemination of the Word of God began the rapid decline of the Papal power, and the first beginnings for at least many centuries, of the idea of "religious liberty."
7. In 1648 came the "Peace of Westphalia." Among other things which resulted from that peace pact was the triple agreement between the great denominations -- Catholic, Lutheran and Presbyterian, no longer to persecute one another. Persecutions among these denominations meant war with governments backing them. However, all other Christians, especially the Ana-Baptists, were to continue to receive from them the same former harsh treatment, persistent persecution.
8. During all the seventeenth century, persecutions for Waldenses, Ana-Baptists, and Baptists (in some places the "Ana" was now being left off) continued to be desperately severe; in England by the Church of England, as John Bunyan and many others could testify; in Germany by the Lutherans; in Scotland by the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian); in Italy, in France, and in every other place where the papacy was in power, by the Catholics. There is now no peace anywhere for those who are not in agreement with the state churches, or some one of them.
9. It is a significant fact well established in credible history that even as far back as the fourth century those refusing to go into the Hierarchy, and refusing to accept the baptism or those baptized in infancy, and refusing to accept the doctrine of "Baptismal Regeneration" and demanding rebaptism for all those who came to them from the Hierarchy, were called "Ana-Baptists." No matter what other names they then bore, they were always referred to as "Ana-Baptists." Near the beginning of the sixteenth century, the "Ana" was dropped, and the name shortened to simply "Baptist," and gradually all other names were dropped. Evidently, if Bunyan had lived in an earlier period his followers would have been called "Bunyanites" or "Ana-Baptists." Probably they would have been called by both names as were others preceding him.
10. The name "Baptist" is a "nickname," and was given to them by their enemies (unless the name can be rightfully attributed to them as having been given to them by the Savior Himself, when He referred to John as "The Baptist"). To this day, the name has never been officially adopted by any group of Baptists. The name, however, has become fixed and is willingly accepted and proudly borne. It snugly fits. It was the distinguishing name of the forerunner of Christ, the first to teach the doctrine to which the Baptists now hold.
11. I quote a very significant statement from the Schaff- Herzogg Encyclopedia, under "History of Baptists in Europe," Vol. 1, page 210,
- "The Baptists appeared first in Switzerland about 1523, where they were persecuted by Zwingle and the Romanists. They are found in the following years, 1525-1530, with large churches fully organized, in Southern Germany, Tyrol and in middle Germany. In all these places persecutions made their lives bitter."
(Note -- that all this is prior to the founding of the Protestant churches--Lutheran, Episcopal, or Presbyterian.)
We continue the quotation:-
- "Moravia promised a home of greater freedom, and thither many Baptists migrated, only to find their hopes deceived. After 1534 they were numerous in Northern Germany, Holland, Belgium, and the Walloon provinces. They increased even during Alva's rule, in the low countries, and developed a wonderful missionary zeal." (Note--"Missionary Zeal." And yet some folks say that the "Hardshells" are primitive Baptists.)
Where did these Baptists come from? They did not come out of the Catholics during the Reformation. They had large churches prior to the Reformation.
12. As a matter of considerable interest, note the religious changes in England as the centuries have gone by:
The Gospel was carried to England by the Apostles and it remained Apostolic in its religion until after the organization of the Hierarchy in the beginning of the fourth century, and really for more than another century after that. It then came under the power of the Hierarchy which was rapidly developing into the Catholic Church. It then remained Catholic -- that was the state religion, until the split in 1534-1535, during the reign of Henry VIII. It was then called the Church of England. Eighteen years later, 1553-1558, during the reign of Queen Mary ("Bloody Mary") England was carried back to the Catholics, and a bloody five-years period was this. Then Elizabeth, a half-sister of Mary, the daughter of Anna Boleyn, came to the throne, 1558. The Catholics were again overthrown, and again the Church of England came into power. And thus things remained for almost another century, when the Presbyterian Church came for a short while into the ascendancy, and seemed for a while as if it might become the State Church of England as well as that of Scotland. However, following the time of Oliver Cromwell, the Church of England came back to her own and has remained the established church of England ever since.
13. Note the gradual softening down of religious matters in England from the hard and bitter persecutions of the established church for more than a century.
- The first toleration act came in 1688, one hundred and fifty-four years after the beginning of this church. This act permitted the worship of all denominations in England except two--the Catholics and the Unitarians.
- The second toleration act came in 1778, eighty-nine years still later. This act included in the toleration the Catholics, but still excluded the Unitarians.
- The third toleration act came in 1813, thirty-five years later. This included the Unitarians.
- In 1828-1829 came what is known as the "Test Act" which gave the "dissenters" (the religionists not in accord with the "Church of England") access to public office and even to Parliament.
- In 1836-37 and 1844 came the "Registration" and "Marriage" acts. These two acts made legal baptisms and marriages performed by "dissenters."
- The "Reform Bill" came in 1854. This bill opened the doors of Oxford and Cambridge Universities to dissenting students. Up to this time no child of a "dissenter" could enter one of these great institutions.
14. Thus has been the march of progress in England toward "Religious Liberty." But it is probably correct to state that real religious liberty can never come into any country where there is and is to remain an established church. At best, it can only be toleration, which is certainly a long way from real religious liberty. As long as one denomination among several in any country is supported by the government to the exclusion of all others this favoritism and support of one, precludes the possibility of absolute religious liberty and equality.
15. Very near the beginning of the eighteenth century there were born in England three boys who were destined to leave upon the world a deep and unfading impression. These boys were John and Charles Wesley, and George Whitfield.
John and Charles Wesley were born at Epworth (and here comes a suggestion for the name Epworth League), the former June 28, 1703, and the latter March 29, 1708. George Whitfield was born in Gloucester, December 27, 1714. The story of the lives of these boys cannot be told here, but they are well worth being told, and then retold. These three boys became the fathers and founders of Methodism. They were all three members of the Church of England, and all studying for the ministry; and yet at that time, not one of them converted (which at that time was not unusual among the English clergy. Remember, however, that in those days, the parent frequently, if not usually, decided on the profession or line of the life to be followed by the boy). But these boys were afterwards converted, and genuinely and wonderfully converted.
16. These men seemed to have no desire to be the founders of a new denomination. But they did seem to greatly desire and earnestly strive for a revival of pure religion and a genuine spiritual reformation in the Church of England. This they tried in both England and America. The doors of their own churches were soon closed against them. Their services were frequently held out in the open, or in some private house, or, as especially in the case of Whitfield, in the meeting houses of other denominations. Whitfield's great eloquence attracted markedly great attention everywhere he went.
17. The definite date of the founding of the Methodist Church is hard to be determined. Unquestionably Methodism is older than the Methodist Church. The three young men were called Methodists before they left college. Their first organizations were called "Societies." Their first annual conference in England was held in 1744. The Methodist Episcopal Church was officially and definitely organized in America, in Baltimore in 1784. Their growth has really been marvelous. But, when they came out of the Church of England, or the Episcopal Church, they brought with them a number of the errors of the mother and grandmother churches. For instance, as the Episcopacy, or preacher-church government. On this point they have had many internal wars and divisions, and seem destined to have yet others. Infant Baptism and sprinkling for baptism, etc., but there is one great thing which they have, which they did not bring out with them, a genuine case of spiritual religion.
18. September 12, 1788, there was born in Antrium, Ireland, a child, who was destined in the years to come, to create quite a religious stir in some parts of the world, and to become the founder of a new religious denomination. That child was Alexander Campbell. His father was a Presbyterian minister. The father, Thomas Campbell, came to America in 1807. Alexander, his son, who was then in college, came later. Because of changed views, they left the Presbyterians and organized an independent body, which they called "The Christian Association," known as "The Brush Run Church." In 1811, they adopted immersion as baptism and succeeded in persuading a Baptist preacher to baptize them, but with the distinct understanding that they were not to unite with the Baptist Church. The father, mother, and Alexander were all baptized. In 1813 their independent church united with the Red Stone Baptist Association. Ten years later, because of controversy, they left that association and joined another. Controversies continued to arise, and they left that association. It is fair to say that they had never been Baptists, nor had they so far as any records I have seen, to show, ever claimed to be.
19. It could hardly be fair to Christian history, and especially to Baptist history, to say nothing in these lectures about John Bunyan. In some respects, one of the most celebrated men in English history and even in world history -- John Bunyan, a Baptist preacher -- John Bunyan, twelve years in Bedford jail -- John Bunyan the author while confined in jail, of the most celebrated and most widely circulated book, next to the Bible, in the whole world. "Pilgrim's Progress" -- John Bunyan, one of the most notable of all examples of the bitterness of Christian persecution.
And the story of Mary Bunyan, John Bunyan's blind daughter, ought to be in every Sunday School library. For many years it was out of print. I think it is now in print again. I almost defy any man or woman, boy or girl, to read it and keep dry eyes.
20. Another thing about which at least a few words should be said in these lectures in concerning Wales and the Welch Baptists. One of the most thrilling stories in Christian history is the story of the Welch Baptists. The Baptists of the United States owe far most to the Welch Baptists than the most of us are conscious. Some whole Baptist churches, fully organized, have migrated in a body from Wales to the United States. (Orchard, p. 21-23; Ford, chapt. 2.)
21. The story of the beginning of Christian work in Wales is strikingly fascinating and from history it seems to be true. That history begins in the New Testament (Acts 28:30-31; II Tim. 4:21). The story of Claudia and Pudens -- their visit to Rome -- their conversion under Paul's preaching, and carrying the gospel back to Wales, their homeland, is thrillingly interesting. Paul did this preaching in Rome as early as A.D. 63. Soon after that Claudia, Pudens, and others, among them two preachers, carried the same gospel into England and especially into Wales. How mightily the Welch Baptists have helped the Baptists in America can hardly be estimated.
LECTURE FIVE--RELIGION IN THE UNITED STATES
1. Through the Spanish and others of the Latin races, the Catholics as religionists, came to be the first representatives of the Christian religion in South and Central America. But in North America, except Mexico, they have never strongly predominated. In the territory of what is now the United States except in those sections which were once parts of Mexico they have never been strong enough, even during the Colonial period to have their religious views established by law.
2. Beginning with the Colonial period, in the early part of the seventeenth century, the first settlements were established in Virginia, and a little later in that territory now known as the New England States. Religious, or more properly speaking -- irreligious persecutions, in England, and on the continent, were, at least, among the prime causes which led to the first settlement of the first United States Colonies. In some of the groups of immigrants which first came, not including the Jamestown group (1607) and those known as the "Pilgrims" (1620), were two groups, one, at least, called "Puritans" -- these were "Congregationalists." Governor Endicott was in control of their colony. The other group were Presbyterians. Among these two groups, however, were a number of Christians with other views than theirs, also seeking relief from persecution.
"THE TRAIL OF BLOOD IN AMERICA"
3. These refugeeing Congregationalists and Presbyterians established different Colonies and immediately within their respective territories established by law their own peculiar religious views. In other words, "Congregationalism" and "Presbyterianism" were made the legal religious views of their colonies. This to the absolute exclusion of all other religious views. Themselves fleeing the mother country, with the bloody marks of persecution still upon them and seeking a home of freedom and liberty for themselves, immediately upon being established in their own colonies, in the new land and having the authority, they deny religious liberty to others, and practice upon them the same cruel methods of persecution. Especially did they, so treat the Baptists.
4. The Southern colonies in Virginia, North and South Carolina were settled mainly by the adherents of the Church of England. The peculiar views of the Church were made the established religion of these colonies. Thus in the new land of America, where many other Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Episcopalians have come seeking the privilege of worshipping God according to the dictates of their own consciences, there were soon set up three established churches. No religious liberty for any except for those who held governmental authority. The Children of Rome are following in the bloody footsteps of their mother. Their own reformation is yet far from complete.
5. With the immigrants to America came many scattering Baptists (by some still called "Ana-Baptists"). There were probably some in every American-bound vessel. They came, however, in comparatively small groups, never in large colonies. They would not have been permitted to come in that way. But they kept coming. Before the colonies are thoroughly established the Baptists are numerous and almost everywhere. But they soon began to feel the heavy hands of the three State churches. For the terrible offenses of "preaching the Gospel" and "refusing to have their children baptized," "opposing infant baptism," and other like conscientious acts on their part, they were arrested, imprisoned, fined, whipped, banished, and their property confiscated, etc. All that here in America. From many sources, I give but a few illustrations.
6. Before the Massachusetts Bay Colony is twenty years old, with the Congregational as the State Church, they passed laws against the Baptists and others. The following is a sample of the laws:
"It is ordered and agreed, that if any person or persons, within this jurisdiction, shall either openly condemn or oppose the baptizing of infants, or go about secretly to seduce others from the approbation or use thereof, or shall purposely depart the congregation at the ministration of the ordinance . . . after due time and means of conviction -- every such person or persons shall be sentenced to banishment." This law was enacted especially against the Baptists.
7. By the Authorities in this colony, Roger Williams and others were banished. Banishment in America in those days was something desperately serious. It meant to go and live among the Indians. In this case Williams was received kindly and for quite a while lived among the Indians, and in after days proved a great blessing to the colony which had banished him. He saved the colony from destruction by this same tribe of Indians, by his earnest entreaties in their behalf. In this way he returned good for evil.
8. Roger Williams, later, together with others, some of whom, at least, had also been banished from that and other of the colonies among whom was John Clarke, a Baptist preacher, decided to organize a colony of their own. As yet they had no legal authority from England to do such a thing, but they thought this step wiser under existing conditions than to attempt to live in existing colonies with the awful religious restrictions then upon them. So finding a small section of land as yet unclaimed by any existing colony they proceeded to establish themselves on that section of land now known as Rhode Island. That was in the year 1638, ten years later than the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but it was about 25 years later (1663) before they were able to secure a legal charter.
9. In the year 1651 (?) Roger Williams and John Clarke were sent by. the colony to England to secure, if possible legal permission to establish their colony. When they reached England, Oliver Cromwell was in charge of the government, but for some reason he failed to grant their request. Roger Williams returned home to America. John Clarke remained in England to continue to press his plea. Year after year went by. Clarke continued to remain. Finally Cromwell lost his position and Charles II sat upon the throne of England. While Charles is regarded in history as one of the bitterest of persecutors of Christians, he finally, in 1663, granted that charter. So Clarke, after 12 long years of waiting returned home with that charter. So in 1663, the Rhode Island colony became a real legal institution, and the Baptists could write their own constitution.
10. That Constitution was written. It attracted the attention of the whole wide world. In that Constitution was the world's first declaration of "Religious Liberty."
The battle for absolute religious liberty even in America alone is a great history within itself. For a long time the Baptists seem to have fought that battle entirely alone, but they did not fight it for themselves alone, but for all peoples of every religious faith. Rhode Island, the first Baptist colony, established by a small group of Baptists after 12 years of earnest pleading for permission was the first spot on earth where religious liberty was made the law of the land. The settlement was made in 1638; the colony legally established in 1663.
11. In this colony two Baptist churches were organized even prior to the legal establishment of the colony. As to the exact date of the organization of at least one of these two churches, even the Baptists, according to history, are at disagreement. All seem tn be agreed as to the date of the organization of the one at Providence, by Roger Williams, in 1639. As to the date of the one organized at Newport by John Clarke, all the later testimony seems to give the date at 1638. All the earlier seems to give it later, some years later. The one organized by Roger Williams at Providence seems to have lived but a few months. The other by John Clarke at Newport, is still living. My own opinion as to the date of organization of Newport church, based on all available data, is that 1638 is the correct date. Personally, I am sure this date is correct.
12. As to the persecutions in some of the American colonies, we give a few samples. It is recorded that on one occasion one of John Clarke's members was sick. The family lived just across the Massachusetts Bay Colony line and just inside that colony. John Clarke, himself, and a visiting preacher by the name of Crandall and a layman by the name of Obediah Holmes -- all three went to visit that sick family. While they were holding some kind of a prayer service with that sick family, some officer or officers of the colony came upon them and arrested them and later carried them before the court for trial. It is also stated, that in order to get a more definite charge against them, they were carried into a religious meeting of their church (Congregationalist), their hands being tied (so the record states). The charge against them was "for not taking off their hats in a religious service." They were all tried and convicted. Gov. Endicott was present. In a rage he said to Clarke, while the trial was going on, "You have denied infants baptism" (this was not the charge against them). "You deserve death. I will not have such trash brought into my jurisdiction." The penalty for all was a fine, or be well-whipped. Crandall's fine (a visitor) was five pounds ($25.00), Clarke's fine (the pastor) was twenty pounds ($100.00). Holmes' fine (the records say he had been a Congregationalist and had joined the Baptists) so his fine was thirty pounds ($150.00). Clark's and Crandall's fines were paid by friends. Holmes refused to allow his fine paid, saying he had done no wrong, so was well whipped. The record states that he was "stripped to the waist" and then whipped (with some kind of a special whip) until the blood ran down his body and then his legs until his shoes overflowed. The record goes on to state that his body was so badly gashed and cut that for two weeks he could not lie down, so his body could touch the bed. His sleeping had to be done on his hands or elbows and knees. Of this whipping and other things connected with it I read all records, even Holmes' statement. A thing could hardly have been more brutal. And here in America!
13. Painter, another man, "refused to have his child baptized," and gave as his opinion "that infant baptism was an anti-Christian ordinance." For these offenses he was tied up and whipped. Governor Winthrop tells us that Painter was whipped "for reproaching the Lord's ordinance."
14. In the colony where Presbyterianism was the established religion, dissenters (Baptist and others) seemed to fare no better than in the Massachusetts Bay Colony where Congregationalism was the established religion.
In this colony was a settlement of Baptists. In the whole settlement were only five other families. The Baptists recognized the laws they were under and were, according to the records, obedient to them. This incident occurred:
It was decided by authorities of the colony to build a Presbyterian meeting house in that Baptist settlement. The only way to do it seemed by taxation. The Baptists recognized the authority of the Presbyterians to levy this new and extra tax, but they made this plea against the tax at this time -- "We have just started our settlement. Our little cabins have just been built, and little gardens and patches just been opened. Our fields not cleared. We have just been taxed to the limit to build a fort for protection against the Indians. We cannot possibly pay another tax now." This is only the substance of their plea. The tax was levied. It could not possibly be paid at that time. An auction was called. Sales were made. Their cabins and gardens and patches, and even their graveyards, were sold -- not their unopened fields. Property valued at 363 pounds and 5 shillings sold for 35 pounds and 10 shillings. Some of it, at least, was said to have been bought by the preacher who was to preach there. The settlement was said to have been left ruined.
A large book could be filled with oppressive laws. Terrifically burdensome acts of taxation, hard dealing of many sorts, directed mainly against the Baptists. But these lectures cannot enter into these details.
15. In the southern colonies, throughout the Carolinas and especially Virginia, where the Church of England held sway, persecution of Baptists was serious and continuous. Many times their preachers were fined and imprisoned. From the beginning of the colonial period to the opening of the Revolutionary War, more than 100 years, these persecutions of Baptists were persisted in.
16. We give some examples of the hardships of the Baptists in Virginia, and yet strange as it may now seem Virginia was the next place on earth after Rhode Island to adopt religious liberty. But that was more than a century away. But the hardships -- as many as 30 preachers at different times, were put in jail with the only charge against them -- "for preaching the Gospel of the Son of God." James Ireland is a case in point. He was imprisoned. After imprisonment, his enemies tried to blow him up with gunpowder. That having failed, they next tried to smother him to death by burning sulphur under his windows at the jail. Failing also in this, they tried to arrange with a doctor to poison him. All this failed. He continued to preach to his people from the windows. A wall was then built around his jail so the people could not see in nor he see out, but even that difficulty was overcome. The people gathered, a handkerchief was tied to a long stick, and that stuck up above the walls so Ireland could see when they were ready. The preaching continued.
17. Three Baptist preachers (Lewis and Joseph Craig and Aaron Bledsoe) were later arrested on the same charge. One of them, at least, was a blood relative of R. E. B. Baylor, and possibly of one or more other Texas Baptist preachers. These preachers were arraigned for trial. Patrick Henry, hearing of it and though living many miles away and though a Church of England man himself, rode those miles horseback to the trial and volunteered his services in their defense. Great was his defense. I cannot enter into a description of it here. It swept the court. The preachers were freed.
18. Elsewhere than Rhode Island, religious liberty came slowly and by degrees. For example: In Virginia a law was passed permitting one, but only one, Baptist preacher to a county. He was permitted to preach but once in two months. Later this law was modified, permitting him to preach once in each month. But even then, in only one definite place in the county, and only one sermon on that day, and never to preach at night. Laws were passed not only in Virginia but in colonies elsewhere positively forbidding any Mission work. This was why Judson was the first foreign missijnary -- law forbade. It took a long time and many hard battles, in the Virginia House of Burgesses, to greatly modify these laws.
19. Evidently, one of the greatest obstructions to religious liberty in America, and probably all over the world as to that, was the conviction which had grown into the people throughout the preceding centuries that religion could not possibly live without governmental support. That no denomination could prosper solely on voluntary offerings by its adherents. And this was the hard argument to meet when the battle was raging for the disestablishment of the Church of England in Virginia, and also later in Congress when the question of religious liberty was being discussed there. For a long time the Baptists fought the battle almost alone,
20. Rhode Island began her colony in 1638, but it was not legally chartered until 1663. There was the first spot where Religious Liberty was granted. The second place was Virginia in 1786. Congress declared the first amendment to the Constitution to be in force December 15, 1791, which granted religious liberty to all citizens, Baptists are credited with being the leaders in bringing this blessing to the nation.
21. We venture to give one early Congressional incident. The question of whether the United States should have an established church or several established churches, or religious liberty, was being discussed. Several different bills had been offered, one recommending the Church of England as the established church; and another the Congregationalist Church, and yet another the Presbyterian. The Baptists, many of them, though probably none of them members of Congress, were earnestly contending for absolute religious liberty. James Madison (afterwards President) seemingly was their main supporter. Patrick Henry arose and offered a substitute bill for them all, "That four churches (or denominations) instead of one be established" -- the Church of England, or Episcopal, Congregationalist, Presbyterian, and the Baptist. Finally when each of the others saw that IT could not be made the sole established church, they each agreed to accept Henry's compromise. (This compromise bill stated that each person taxed would have the right to say to which denomination of these four his money should go.) The Baptists continued to fight against it all; that any combination of Church and State was against their fundamental principles, that they could not accept it even if voted. Henry pleaded with them, said he was trying to help them, that they could not live without it, but they still protested. The vote was taken -- it carried nearly unanimously. But the measure had to be voted on three times. The Baptists, led by Madison and possibly others continued to fight. The second vote came. It also carried almost unanimously, swept by Henry's masterful eloquence. But the third vote had yet to be taken. Now God seemingly intervened. Henry was made Governor of Virginia and left Congress. When the third vote came, deprived of Henry's irresistible eloquence, the vote was lost.
Thus the Baptists came near being an established denomination over their own most solemn protest. This is not the only opportunity the Baptists ever had of becoming established by law, but is probably the nearest they ever came to it.
22. Not long after this, the Church of England was entirely disestablished in America. No religious denomination was supported by the Central Government (a few separated State governments still had establishment), Church and state, so far as the United States was concerned, were entirely separated. These two, Church and State, elsewhere at least, had for 1,500 years (since 313) been living in unholy wedlock. Religious Liberty was, at least here in the United States, resurrected to die no more, and now gradually but in many places slowly, it is spreading throughout the world.
23. But even in the United States, the Church and State idea died hard. It lingered on in several of the separate States, long after Religious Liberty had been put into the Constitution of the United States. Massachusetts, where the Church and State idea first found a lodging place in America, has, as already stated, finally given it up. It had lived there over two and one-half centuries. Utah is the last lingering spot left to disfigure the face of the first and greatest nation on earth to adopt and cherish "Religious Liberty." Remember there can be no real and absolute Religious liberty in any nation where the Government gives its support to one special religious denomination.
24. Some serious questions have many times been asked concerning the Baptists: Would they, as a denomination, have accepted from any nation or state an offer of "establishment" if such nation or state had freely made them such an offer? And, would they, in case they had accepted such an offer, have become persecutors of others like Catholics or Episcopals, or Lutherans or Presbyterians, or Congregationalists? Probably a little consideration of such questions now would not be amiss. Have the Baptists, as a fact, ever had such an opportunity?
Is it not recorded in history, that on one occasion, the King of the Netherlands (the Netherlands at that time embracing Norway and Sweden, Belgium, Holland, and Denmark) had under serious consideration the question of having an established religion? Their kingdom at that period was surrounded on almost all sides by nations or governments with established religions -- religions supported by the Civil Government.
It is stated that the King of Holland appointed a committee to examine into the claims of all existing churches or denominations to see which had the best claim to be the New Testament Church. The committee reported back that the Baptists were the best representatives of New Testament teachings. Then the King offered to make the Baptist "the established" church or denomination of his kingdom. The Baptists kindly thanked him but declined, stating that it was contrary to their fundamental convictions and principles.
But this was not the only opportunity they ever had of having their denomination the established religion of a people. They certainly had that opportunity when Rhode Island Colony was founded. And to have persecuted others -- that would have been an impossibility if they were to continue being Baptists. They were the original advocates of "Religious Liberty." That really is one of the fundamental articles of their religious faith. They believed in the absolute separation of church and state.
25. So strong has been the Baptist conviction on the question of Church and State combination, that they have invariably declined all offers of help from the State. We give here two instances. One in Texas and the other in Mexico. Long years ago in the days of Baylor University's babyhood, Texas offered to help her. She declined the help though she was in distressing need. The Texas Methodists had a baby school in Texas at the same time. They accepted the State help; that school finally fell into the hands of the State.
The case in Mexico occurred in this wise: W. D. Powell was our missionary to Mexico. By his missionary work he had made a great impression for the Baptists upon Governor Madero of the State of Coahuila. Madero offered a great gift to the Baptists from the State, if the Baptists would establish a good school in the State of Coahuila, Mexico. The matter was submitted by Powell to the Foreign Board. The gift was declined because it was to be from the State. Afterwards Madero gave a good large sum personally. That was accepted and Madero Institute was built and established.
SOME AFTER WORDS
1. During every period of the "Dark Ages" there were in existence many Christians and many separate and independent Churches, some of them dating back to the times of the Apostles, which were never in any way connected with the Catholic Church. They always wholly rejected and repudiated the Catholics and their doctrines. This is a fact clearly demonstrated by credible history.
2. These Christians were the perpetual objects of bitter and relentless persecution. History shows that during the period of the "Dark Ages," about twelve centuries, beginning with A.D. 426, there were about fifty millions of these Christians who died martyr deaths. Very many thousands of others, both preceding and succeeding the "Dark Ages," died under the same hard hand of persecution.
3. These Christians, during these dark days of many centuries, were called by many different names, all given to them by their enemies. These names were sometimes given because of some specially prominent and heroic leader and sometimes from other causes; and sometimes, yea, many times, the same people, holding the same views, were called by different names in different localities. But amid all the many changes of names, there was one special name or rather designation, which clung to at least some of these Christians, throughout all the "Dark Ages," that designation being "Ana-Baptist." This compound word applied as a designation of some certain Christians was first found in history during the third century; and a suggestive fact soon after the origin of Infant Baptism, and a more suggestive fact even prior to the use of the name Catholic. Thus the name "Ana-Baptists" is the oldest denominational name in history.
4. A striking peculiarity of these Christians was and continued to be in succeeding centuries: They rejected the man-made doctrine of "Infant Baptism" and demanded rebaptism, even though done by immersion for all those who came to them, having been baptized in infancy. For this peculiarity they were called "Ana-Baptists."
5. This, special designation was applied to many of these Christians who bore other nicknames; especially is this true of the Donatists, Paulicians, Albigenses and Ancient Waldenses and others. In later centuries this designation came to be a regular name, applied to a distinct group. These were simply called "Ana- Baptists" and gradually all other names were dropped. Very early in the sixteenth century, even prior to the origin of the Lutheran Church, the first of all the Protestant Churches, the word "ana" was beginning to be left off, and they were simply called "Baptists."
6. Into the "dark ages" went a group of many churches which were never in any way identified with the Catholics. Out of the "dark ages" came a group of many churches, which had never been in any way identified with the Catholics.
The following are some of the fundamental doctrines to which they held when they went in: And the same are, the fundamental doctrines to which they held when they came out: And the same are the fundamental doctrines to which they now hold.
1. A spiritual Church, Christ its founder, its only head and law giver.
2. Its ordinances, only two, Baptism and the Lord's Supper. They are typical and memorial, not saving.
3. Its officers, only two, bishops or pastors and deacons; they are servants of the church.
4. Its Government, a pure Democracy, and that executive only, never legislative.
5. Its laws and doctrines: The New Testament and that only.
6. Its members. Believers only, they saved by grace, not works, through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.
7. Its requirements. Believers on entering the church to be baptized, that by immersion, then obedience and loyalty to all New Testament laws.
8. The various churches -- separate and independent in their execution of laws and discipline and in their responsibilities to God--but cooperative in work.
9. Complete separation of Church and State.
10. Absolute Religious liberty for all.
Partial list of books used in preparing lectures on "the Trail of Blood"
History of Baptists in Virginia, Semple
Baptist Succession, Ray
Baptists in Alabama, Holcomb
History of the Huguenots, Martin
Fifty Years Among the Baptists, Benedict
Fox's Book of Martyrs
My Church, Moody
The World's Debt to Baptists, Porter
Church Manual, Pendleton
Evils of Infant Baptism, Howell
Reminiscences, Sketches and Addresses, Hutchinson
Short History of the Baptists, Vedder
The Struggle Religious Liberty in Virginia, James
The Genesis of American Anti-Missionism, Carroll
The True Baptist, A. Newton
A Guide to the Study of Church History, McGlothlin
Baptist Principles Reset, Jeter
Virginia Presbyterianism and Religious Liberty in Colonial and Revolutionary Times, Johnson
Presbyterianism 300 Years Ago, Breed
History of the Presbyterian Church of the World, Reed
Catholic Belief, Bruno
Campbellism Examined, Jeter
History of the Baptists in New England, Burrage
History of Redemption, Edwards
Principles and Practices of Baptist Churches, Wayland
History of the Liberty Baptist Association of North Carolina, Sheets
On Baptism, Carson
History and Literature of the Early Churches, Orr
History of Kentucky Baptists, Spencer
Baptist History, Orchard
Baptist Church Perpetuity, Jarrell
Progress of Baptist Principles, Curtis
Story of the Baptists, Cook
Romanism in Its Home, Eager
Americanism Against Catholicism, Grant
The Faith of Our Fathers, Cardinal Gibbons
The Faith of Our Fathers Examined, Stearns
The Story of Baptist Missions, Hervey
Christian "Baptism," Judson
Separation of Church and State in Virginia, Eckenrode
The Progress of Religious Liberty, Schaff
Doctrines and Principles of the M. E. Church
The Churches of the Piedmont, Allix
The History of the Waldenses, Muston
The History of Baptists, Backus
The Ancient Waldenses and Albigenses, Faber
The History of the Waldenses of Italy, Combs
History of the Baptists, Benedict
Baptist Biography, Graham
Early English Baptists, Evans
History of the Welsh Baptists, Davis
Baptist History, Cramp
History of the Baptists, Christian
Short History of the Baptists, Vedder
The Plea for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Jones
Religions of the World, Many writers
History of the Reformation in Germany, Ranke
Church History, Kurtz
Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in the USA
Doctrines and Discipline, African M. E. Church, Emory
Church History, Jones
History of the Christian Religion and Church, Neader
Ecclesiastical History, Mosheim
History of the Christian Church, Gregory
History of the Church, Waddington
Handbook of Church History, Green
Manual of Church History, Newman
History of Anti-Pedobaptists, Newman
Catholic Encyclopedia (16 vols.)
The Baptist Encyclopedia, Cathcart
Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Brown
Origin of Disciples, Whittsitt
Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Schaff-Herzogg
Book of Martyrs, Foxe
Baptist History, Schackleford
Copyright 1931, Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucky.
This booklet is available in printed booklet from:
Ashland Avenue Baptist Church
163 N. Ashland Avenue
Lexington, KY 40502
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