“THE TRAIL OF BLOOD…”
The following series of messages is a study of
The History of Baptist Churches From the Time of Christ, Their Founder,
to the Present Day
These studies are based on the book by J. M. Carroll entitled “The Trail of Blood”
We often talk and preach about revival, and how that we would love to see revival in our Baptist Churches. Beloved, I believe that true Baptists today need a revival of their love and knowledge of the precious history of the Lord’s Church. When we go back and study our Baptist forefathers and their unfailing devotion the to truth of the Word of God, and their faithfulness to the Lord Jesus and His Church, and their blood that was shed for the cause of Jesus, and of His Word and of His church, I believe that we will be revived!
May God help us through this study to remember from whence we came, and to remember our heritage as Baptists. May God help us to be the kind of Baptists that our forefathers were. May God help us to be a great church in our love and faithfulness to Jesus, and to the teachings and practices of His precious holy Word, as were our Baptist forefathers.
About the format of our study:
Much of the material presented during this study will be quoted verbatim from the Trail of Blood book. Some of the material, however, will be paraphrased or slightly modified for clarity, and some will be our own additional thoughts. We will not attempt to distinguish between these during our study, but we encourage you to read the Trail of Blood for yourselves as we go through this series of messages. We hope that our study will do justice to this very wonderful and important Baptist work.
For our study we are going to follow a different format than the one Brother Carroll used in the Trail of Blood book. We do plan, however, to cover most of the material contained in the book, over the course of these lessons. During our study we will trace our Baptist history in the same time periods that Brother Carroll used in his book. We have organized each time period by key subjects. These key subjects include: 1) A general history of the time period; 2) The spiritual errors of the time period; 3) The churches in the time period; and 4) The persecutions of the time period. We will then conclude each lesson with a brief summary of the events of the period.
This series of lessons will include the following lessons: 1) Introduction; 2) Part 1 - A.D. 30 through A.D. 500; 3) Part 2 - A.D. 600 through 1300; 4) Part 3 - A.D. 1300 through 1600; 5) Part 4 - 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries; 6) Part 5 - Religion in the United States.
Brother J. M. Carroll, the author of this book, was born in the state of Arkansas, January 8, 1858, and died in Texas, January 10, 1931. His father, a Baptist preacher, moved to Texas when Brother Carroll was six years old. There he was converted, baptized, and ordained to the Gospel ministry. Brother Carroll not only became a leader among Texas Baptists, but an outstanding figure of Southern Baptists, and of the world.
*We see that even southern Baptists believed in Baptist Church perpetuity and church succession, at least up until the early to mid 20th century. Most Baptists believed these truths prior to the 20th century. It should therefore be pointed out that the independent Baptists of today did not invent the doctrines of church perpetuity and succession, but rather we are standing for the same truths that the convention churches, and most all Baptists once stood for in ages past.
Brother Carroll died before the publication of his book was complete, but through the efforts of godly Baptist men and women over the past 70 plus years, many, many thousands, or perhaps even millions of these books have been distributed.
Brother Carroll wrote this book after he was 70 years old (after 1928). Even from his youth, however, he felt that through the study of the Scriptures and history, he could find the church which was the oldest and most like the churches described in the New Testament.
This research for the truth led him into many places and enabled him to gather one of the greatest libraries on church history. When you look at the partial list of references at the end of the book, you will be impressed at the depth of Dr. Carroll’s research. This present work, though small, was founded on an enormous library of church history.
Of the church history Brother Carroll found, most of it seemed to be about the Catholics and Protestants. The history of Baptists, he discovered, was written in blood. They were the hated people of the Dark Ages. Their preachers and people were put into prison and untold numbers were put to death. The world has never seen anything to compare with the suffering and the persecutions, heaped upon Baptists by the Catholic Hierarchy during the Dark Ages. The Pope was the world's dictator. This is why the Ana-Baptists, before the Reformation, called the Pope The Anti-Christ.
Baptist history is written in the legal documents and papers of those ages. It is through these records that the "TRAIL OF BLOOD" winds its way as you find such statements:
"At Zurich, after many disputations between Zuinglius and the Ana-Baptists, the Senate made an Act, that if any presume to re-baptize those who were baptized before (i.e. as infants) they should be drowned. At Vienna many Ana-Baptists were tied together in chains that one drew the other after him into the river, wherein they were all suffocated (drowned)." (Vida Supra, p. 61)
"In the year of our Lord 1539 two Ana-Baptists were burned beyond Southwark, and a little before them 5 Dutch Ana-Baptists were burned in Smithfield," (Fuller, Church History.)
"In 1160 a company of Paulicians (which were Baptists) entered Oxford. Henry II ordered them to be branded on the forehead with hot irons, publicly whipped them through the streets of the city, to have their garments cut short at the girdles, and be turned into the open country. The villages were not to afford them any shelter or food and they perished a lingering death from cold and hunger." (Moore, Earlier and Later Nonconformity in Oxford, p. 12.)
The old Chronicler Stowe, A.D. 1533, relates:
"The 25th of May--in St. Paul's Church, London--examined 19 men and 6 women. Fourteen of them were condemned; a man and a woman were burned at Smithfield, the other twelve of them were sent to towns there to be burned."
Froude, the English historian, says of these Ana-Baptist martyrs:
"The details are all gone, their names are gone. Scarcely the facts seem worth mentioning. For them no Europe was agitated, no court was ordered in mourning, no papal hearts trembled with indignation. At their death the world looked on complacent, indifferent or exulting. Yet here, out of 25 poor men and women were found 14, who by no terror of stake or torture could be tempted to say they believed what they did not believe. History has for them no word of praise, yet they, too, were not giving their blood in vain. Their lives might have been as useless as the lives of most of us. But in their death they assisted to pay the purchase of English freedom."
Likewise, in writings of their enemies as well as friends, Dr. Carroll found that the trail of Baptist history through the ages was indeed bloody:
Cardinal Hosius (Catholic, 1524), President of the Council of Trent:
"Were it not that the Baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off with the knife during the past twelve hundred years, they would swarm in greater number than all the Reformers." (Hosius, Letters, Apud Opera, pp. 112, 113.)
*The "twelve hundred years" were the years preceding the Reformation in which Rome persecuted Baptists with the most cruel persecutions thinkable.
Sir Isaac Newton:
"The Baptists are the only body of known Christians that have never symbolized with Rome."
"Before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay secreted in almost all the countries of Europe persons who adhered tenaciously to the principles of modern Dutch Baptists."
Edinburg Cyclopedia (Presbyterian):
"It must have already occurred to our readers that the Baptists are the same sect of Christians that were formerly described as Ana-Baptists. Indeed this seems to have been their leading principle from the time of Tertullian to the present time."
*Tertullian was born just fifty years after the death of the Apostle John.
Baptists do not believe in Apostolic Succession. The Apostolic office ceased with the death of the Apostles. It is to His churches that Jesus promised a continual existence from the time He organized the first one during His earthly ministry until He comes again. Jesus promised:
"I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18)
Then, when Jesus gave the great Commission, which tells what His churches are to do, He promised:
"I will be with you alway, even unto the end of the age." (Matt. 28:20)
This Great Commission was not given to the Apostles as individuals, but to them and the others present in church capacity. The Apostles and the others who heard Jesus give this Commission were soon dead, but His Church has lived on through the ages. Jesus perpetuated His Church through the Great Commission, that is, by making disciples (through preaching the gospel), baptizing them, and teaching them the truth including all of the doctrines that Jesus committed to His first Church at Jerusalem. These faithful churches have been blessed with His power and presence as they have traveled the TRAIL OF BLOOD.
This history shows how the Lord's promise to His churches has been fulfilled. Dr. Carroll shows that churches have been found in every age which have taught the doctrines He committed unto them. Dr. Carroll calls these doctrines the "marks" of New Testament Churches.
1. Its only Head and Founder is CHRIST (Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:18).
Jesus is the only law-giver; the Church is only executive.
*No true Baptist has ever claimed to be the head and founder of one of the Lord’s Churches. Their churches were often called by men’s names by their enemies, but they never claimed to be the founder of the Lord’s church.
*No man as an individual, or any church as a whole, has the right to change or add to the Word of God. This practice was introduced by popery, as we will see later in our study. The church is executive only of the holy Scriptures, but never legislative. Preachers and churches have no authority to make up new laws, or change or delete the old ones.
2. Its only rule of faith and practice is THE BIBLE (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
*All writings of men are fallible. They may be helpful in understanding the Word of God, but the Scriptures are the final authority.
3. Its only name was "CHURCH or CHURCHES" (Matt. 16:18; Rev. 22:16).
*The Lord Jesus didn’t name His Church Catholic or Roman Catholic, or even Ana-Baptist or Baptist, or any other name. We will see how churches received their names as we progress in our study, but for now we will just say that Baptists acquired their name from their enemies, and did not give themselves their name originally.
4. Its polity is CONGREGATIONAL, or all members equal (Matt. 20:24-28; Matt. 23:5-12).
*There is no hierarchy of members either within one of the Lord’s Churches, or between two or more churches. Thus, as members we don’t have authority over one another within the local church, and one church or pastor doesn’t have authority over another church or pastor. This is not to say that the pastor doesn’t have God given authority as the spiritual leader of his church, but he is not to “lord over” God’s heritage.
5. Its members are saved people only (Eph. 2:21; 1 Peter 2:5).
*Baptists believe in a saved church membership. We believe that salvation is a work of God’s sovereign grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Bible clearly teaches. This excludes infant baptism, or proxy faith, or covenant theology for salvation, or works of any kind for salvation.
6. Its ordinances are only two; BELIEVERS' BAPTISM, followed by THE LORD'S SUPPER (Matt. 28:19-20)
*The ordinances are always in this order. Never was the Lord’s Supper administered before baptism.
*The ordinance of baptism must be administered in a Scriptural manner. Candidates for baptism must be true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore saved by the grace of God. Baptism must be by immersion as exclusively taught in the Scriptures, and never by sprinkling or pouring. Baptism must also be performed by the authority of a true, New Testament Baptist Church, for the purpose of membership in that church. Baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins, and it pictures the believer’s death to sin, and resurrection to walk in newness of life. Baptism is a picture of salvation only, and does not have any saving merit.
*The Lord’s Supper is a picture of the broken body and shed blood of Christ for the sins of His people. The Supper must only be administered to members of the local church, when assembled together in church capacity. Non-members of a particular local church may not observe the Supper with that church. The Scriptural elements for the Supper are fermented wine and unleavened bread. The elements are only symbolic of the broken body and shed blood of Christ. They are not, nor do they ever become the actual body and blood of Christ, as taught by the Roman Catholics. The Supper is a memorial of the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary for the sins of His people, but it is not the literal and continual sacrifice of Christ, which is also taught by the Catholics. Like baptism, the Lord’s Supper provides no saving merit, or saving grace to those who partake of it.
7. Its offices are two, which are PASTOR (or bishop or elder) and DEACON (1 Tim. 3:1-16).
*There are no other New Testament church offices such as pope, vicar, reverend, priest (in the N.T.), cardinal, monk, friar, Jesuit, etc. These are all offices of man’s making, and answer to the Roman Catholic hierarchy, or the protestant denominations.
8. Its work is preaching the gospel, baptizing believers (with Scriptural baptism), teaching them ("to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:18-20).
*The work of the church is primarily a spiritual work. We were not commissioned to feed the world, or to solve its social or political ills. This is a great error among the denominations. The influence and the subsequent benefits of the presence of the Lord’s Churches in the world, certainly help the conditions of society, but his is not our primary purpose.
9. Its financial plan is TITHES and OFFERINGS (1 Cor. 9:14).
*The Lord’s churches are not supported by the secular government or the unregenerate world, but by the members of the church. Baptists have never received financial support from the state.
10. Its weapons of warfare are spiritual, not carnal (2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10-20).
*Baptists never persecuted others or forced them to accept our beliefs. Baptists have always believed in freedom of religion, and that men should have liberty to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. We believe in persuasion to convince men to believe in Jesus, but not compulsion to force men to believe.
11. Its independence, or separation of Church and State (Matt. 22:21).
*Baptists have always believed in absolute separation of church and state. This means that the government and polity, and all affairs of the Church, are to be independent from the secular government of the land, and vise versa. This doesn’t mean that the government should be free from religion, or from seeking and following God’s leadership. Nor does this mean that churches are not to support their secular governments with prayer and good Biblical counsel.
In conclusion, there are many kinds of churches, which all claim to be the true church. Today we can compare the teachings of the different churches with these marks of true New Testament Churches. The churches that have these marks are the true churches. This is what Brother Carroll did with the churches of all ages. He found many had departed from these marks, or doctrines. Other churches, however, he found had been true to these marks in every day and age since Jesus said,
"I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18); and "I will be with you alway, even unto the end of the age." (Matt. 28:21)
Before we look at the first period of church history, we want to restate the marks of a true New Testament Baptist Church that we discussed last week. It is important that we fix these “marks” in our minds, so that as we go through our study, we can better see the departures from the faith as they occur over time. All Baptists would do well to memorize these Baptist “marks” or distinctives.
1. Its only Head and Founder is Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:18).
2. Its only rule of faith and practice is the Bible (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
3. Its name--"CHURCH" or "CHURCHES" (Matt. 16:18; Rev. 22:16).
4. Its government is congregational with all members equal (Matt. 20:24-28; 23:5-12).
5. Its government is executive and administrative only, and never legislative (Proverbs. 30:6; Rev. 22:18-19)
6. Its members are only saved people (Eph. 2:21; 1 Peter 2:5).
7. Its ordinances are believers baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 28:19-20).
Again, it is important to understand Scriptural baptism (explain) and the proper observance of the Lord’s Supper (explain).
8. Its officers are pastor (or bishop or elder) and deacon (1 Tim. 3:1-16).
9. Its work is preaching the gospel, baptizing converts, and “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:18-20).
10. Its weapons of warfare are spiritual, not carnal (2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10-20).
11. Its independence; or separation of Church and State (Matt. 22:21).
1. The general history of the period:
1. Christianity began with Christ, A.D. 25-30, within the bounds of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire at the time reigned over most of the inhabited world. The Roman Empire was the most powerful kingdom the world had ever known up to this time. Tiberius Caesar was the Emperor of the Roman Empire at the time of Christ.
2. The religion of the Roman Empire was pagan (that is, polytheistic, or of many gods). The Romans inherited all the gods of Greece, and of all the prior kingdoms. To the Romans, the God of the Jews was just another god, or the unknown God. The religion of Paganism was established by law and supported by the Roman government. Thus Paganism had many devout believers and worshippers at this time.
3. The Jews did not have their own nation. They were scattered throughout the Roman Empire, yet they still had their temple in Jerusalem. They were extremely jealous of their religion, as we observe in the Book of Acts. The Jews’ religion by this time, however, had degenerated to legalism and dead formalism. According to God’s faithfulness to Israel, there was a remnant of Jewish believers who awaited their Messiah. Over-all, however, the Jews’ religion (Judaism) was a powerless religion at the time of Christ.
4. The New Testament period began with John the Baptist. John the Baptist baptized the Lord Jesus, and all the disciples that made up the first New Testament Church that Jesus Built. It was essential from the very beginning of the Lord’s Church, that all members of the church have John’s baptism. John the Baptist was the only person on earth at this time who had the authority of God to baptize. Later this authority was transferred from John to the church (see John 4:1-2).
5. Jesus Christ founded His new religion: Jesus founded His new religion by His coming to earth through His virgin birth; and by His miraculous public ministry; and by building His Church and promising it continual perpetuity; and by His death, burial, and resurrection to redeem His people from their sins; and finally by empowering His church with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to continue His work to the end of the age.
6. The Church that Jesus built, consisting at first of the Apostles, prospered and flourished. His Church went into all the Roman Empire, Europe, Asia, Africa, England, Wales, and about everywhere else where there was any civilization. The churches greatly multiplied and increased in a relatively short period of time.
7. In the year A.D. 313, emperor Constantine had come to the throne of the Roman Empire. History says that Constantine had a wonderful realistic vision. He saw in the skies a fiery red cross and on that cross written in fiery letters these words; "By this thou shalt conquer." He interpreted it to mean that he should become a Christian and renounce paganism. He concluded that the marriage of Christianity to the Roman Empire would enable him to conquer the entire known world. The Christian religion would then become a whole world religion, and the Roman Empire a whole world empire. At this time the church and state were married, and the Catholic Hierarchy was formed under the power of Constantine and the Roman Empire.
8. The seat of the Roman Empire was moved from Rome to Constantinople. Constantine's action of renouncing paganism and accepting Christianity caused the hot displeasure of the Roman Senate. Their opposition finally resulted in moving the seat of the empire from Rome to Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinople for Constantine. As a result, there came to be two capital cities of the Roman Empire; Rome and Constantinople. Several centuries later these two rival cities became the ruling centers of the divided Catholic church; the Roman Catholics and the Greek Catholics.
9. When the Hierarchy was created, Constantine was not a Christian. He had agreed to become one, however, because of the teaching of “Baptismal Regeneration” (which some of the erring churches were already practicing), a serious question arose in the mind of Constantine: "If I am saved from my sins by baptism, what is to become of my sins that I commit after I am baptized?" He raised a question which has puzzled the world in all succeeding generations. Can baptism wash away future sins, or must the sins committed after baptism be washed away by some other method? We see that one error leads to another, and then others. Because Constantine’s question was not answered to his satisfaction, he postponed his baptism until just preceding his death.
10. In A.D. 426 the awful period known as the "Dark Ages" had its beginning. This period lasted for over 1,000 years, and was an extremely bloody period in the history of the world. It was in this period that over 50 million Christians, mostly Baptists, were martyred for their faith by their Catholic persecutors. We will discuss this in more detail later.
11. It was early in the period of the "dark ages" when real Popery had its definite beginnings. This was by Leo II, A.D. 440 to 461. The name “Pope”, however, was first applied to the Bishop of Rome in A.D. 296-304. It was formally adopted by Siricius, Bishop of Rome A.D. 384-398. Then officially adopted by Leo II, A.D. 440-461.
12. We now want to notice the "Ecumenical" councils called by the Catholic Hierarchy. At this time we only want to notice the four councils that were held during this period, and these were all called by different Emperors, none of them by the Popes. All these were held among the Eastern or Greek churches. But they were attended, however, somewhat by representatives from the Western Branch or the Roman Catholic Church.
13. The first of these Councils was held at Nice or Nicea, in A.D. 325. It was called by Constantine the Great, and was attended by 318 bishops.
14. The second Council met at Constantinople, A.D. 381. There were present 150 bishops. (In the early centuries, bishops simply meant pastors of the individual churches.)
15. The third Council was called by Theodosius II, and by Valentian III. This had 250 bishops present. It met at Ephesus, A.D. 431.
16. The fourth Council met at Calcedon, A.D. 451, and was called by Emperor Marian. There were 500 or 600 bishops or Metropolitans present. During this Council the doctrine of Mariolatry was promulgated. This means the worship of Mary, the mother of Christ.
2. The spiritual errors of the period:
1. First, were the errors of Paganism of the Roman Empire, as already mentioned.
2. Secondly, were the errors of Judaism of the Jewish people. This consisted of legalism and formalism, and the greatest of all errors, the total rejection of Jesus Christ their Messiah.
3. Thirdly, were the errors that developed within the churches themselves. Churches grew very fast and to be very large during the first two centuries. It is believed that the Jerusalem Church had possibly twenty-five to fifty thousand members. It became very difficult to fight against error that began to creep into the churches. Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude all wrote about errors that were getting a foot hold in the churches during their times. Jesus, in Revelation Chapters 2 & 3, had to rebuke several of the churches in Asia minor for allowing error in these churches. It was even prophesied by Paul in Acts 20:29-31 that churches would be led into error.
Now we would like to identify some of the errors that developed in the churches during the period between A.D. 30 and 500.
1. The first major error to enter the churches was the beginnings of the hierarchy form of government. Pastors of large churches began to lord over God’s heritage (1 Peter 5:3; 3 John 9). They began lording over their own flocks and over other pastors within their own churches (as some of the larger churches had more than one pastor), and also they began lording over other smaller churches.
2. The second major error, which crept into some churches before the close of the second century, was the doctrine of "Baptismal Regeneration". This was a major error in the doctrine of salvation itself. This doctrine makes baptism a necessary part of salvation. Thus, during this period some churches began baptizing unregenerate persons. They supposed that baptizing unregenerate persons would procure and secure the unregenerate person’s salvation.
3. The third error that may have had its origin during the third century was infant baptism. If infant baptism was practiced during this time, it was only scarcely practiced in a few churches. Other historians believe that infant baptism wasn’t practiced until late in the fourth century. In any regard, the practice of infant baptism was the obvious result of the doctrine of “Baptismal Regeneration”. The sooner you wash away their sins the better, was their reasoning.
*We will just note here that persecution over the doctrines of "Baptismal regeneration" and "infant baptism" caused the shedding of more Christian blood over the centuries, than all other errors combined.
*These erroneous changes in the churches came about slowly over many years, and never within all the churches. Some of the churches vigorously rejected them. So much so that in A.D. 251, the loyal churches declared non-fellowship with those churches which accepted and practiced these errors. And thus came about the first real official separation among the churches.
4. The fourth major error was the marriage of church and state. In A. D. 313, a call was made for a coming together of the Christian churches or their representatives. Many but not all came. The alliance was consummated and a Hierarchy was formed. In the organization of the Hierarchy, Christ was dethroned as head of the erring churches and Emperor Constantine was enthroned. The Hierarchy was the definite beginning of a development which finally resulted into what is now known as the Catholic, or "universal" church.
5. The fifth major error was the new Catholic Church began to be legislative. The new Hierarchy organized under Emperor Constantine began amending, or annulling old laws, or enacting new laws utterly unknown to the New Testament. We will see many of these later in our study.
6. The sixth major error was compulsory infant baptism in A.D. 416. One of the first of its legislative enactments of the Catholic Church was the establishing of "infant baptism” by law." By this new law, "Infant Baptism" became compulsory.
By this new law, two vital New Testament laws were abrogated; they are believers baptism, and voluntary personal obedience in baptism. People were now forced by law to be baptized. Because of this new law the erring churches were filled with unconverted members. So the great spiritual affairs of God's great spiritual kingdom were in the hands of an unregenerate temporal power. What may now be expected?
7. The seventh major error was the doctrine of Mariolatry, which is the worship of Mary, the mother of Jesus. They apparently thought that there was a need for another mediator between God and man besides the Lord Jesus Christ. This doctrine was rejected at first, but eventually it was accepted by the erring churches.
3. The churches in the time period between A.D. 30 to 500:
Three significant facts, for a large majority of the many churches, are clearly shown by history during these first three centuries.
(1) The separateness and independence of the Churches.
(2) The subordinate character of bishops or pastors.
(3) The baptism of believers only.
Mosheim, the famous Lutheran historian wrote: "But whoever supposes that the bishops of this golden age of the church correspond with the bishops of the following centuries must blend and confound characters that are very different, for in this century and the next, a bishop had charge of a single church, which might ordinarily be contained in a private house; nor was he its Lord, but was in reality its minister or servant. All the churches in those primitive times were independent bodies, or none of them subject to the jurisdiction of any other. For though the churches which were founded by the Apostles themselves frequently had the honor shown them to be consulted in doubtful cases, yet they had no judicial authority, no control, no power of giving laws. On the contrary, it is as clear as the noonday that all Christian churches had equal rights, and were in all respects on a footing of equality."
Up to this period, notwithstanding much and serious persecutions, Christianity had a marvelous growth. It has covered and even gone beyond the great Roman Empire. Almost, if not all the inhabited world, has heard the gospel. And, according to some of the church historians, many of the original churches organized by the Apostles are yet intact, and yet loyal to Apostolic teachings. However, as already shown, a number of very marked and hurtful errors have crept in and gotten a permanent hold among many of the churches. Some have become very irregular.
Let it be definitely remembered that when Constantine made his call for the council, there were very many of the Christians (or Baptists) and of the churches, which declined to respond. They wanted no marriage with the state, and no centralized religious government, and no higher ecclesiastical government of any kind. These Christians (or Baptists) and their churches never at that time or later, entered the hierarchy of the Catholic denomination.
Loyal Christians and churches, of course, rejected this new law of Infant Baptism. "Believers baptism” was the only law for them. They not only refused to baptize their own children, but believing in the baptism of believers only, they refused to accept the baptizing done by the churches of this unscriptural organization.
If any of the members from the Catholic Church attempted to join any of the true and loyal churches, which refused to join with the Catholics, a Christian experience and rebaptism was required for membership.
The true and loyal churches soon began to suffer persecution by the new state church, most of whom, were not genuine Christians. The name "Christian," however, was from now on denied those true and loyal churches who refused to accept these new errors. They were robbed of that name, and were called by many other names. These were the names of their leaders including "Montanists," Tertullianists," "Novationists," "Paterines,” “Donatists" and so on. Some because of their practice of re-baptizing those who were baptized in infancy, were referred to as "Ana-Baptists."
4. The persecutions of the period:
1. Judaism and Paganism bitterly contested every forward movement of Christianity. John the Baptist was the first of the great leaders to give up his life. His head was taken off. Soon after him went the Savior Himself, the founder of this Christian religion. He died on the cross, the cruel death of the cross. (Note: Jesus was not a martyr). Following their Savior in rapid succession fell many other martyred heroes: Stephen was stoned, Matthew was slain in Ethiopia, Mark dragged through the streets until dead, Luke hanged, Peter and Simeon were crucified, Andrew tied to a cross, James beheaded, Philip crucified and stoned, Bartholomew flayed alive, Thomas pierced with lances, James, the less, thrown from the temple and beaten to death, Jude shot to death with arrows, Matthias stoned to death, and Paul beheaded. More than one hundred years had gone by before all this had happened. This hard persecution by Judaism and Paganism continued for two more centuries.
2. Persecutions became increasingly bitter. Near the beginning of the fourth century comes possibly the first definite government edict of persecution. The wonderful growth of Christianity has alarmed the pagan leaders of the Roman Empire. Hence Galerius, the emperor, sent out a direct edict of more savage persecution. This occurred Feb. 24, 303 A.D. Up to this time Paganism seems to have persecuted Christians without any definite laws to that effect. But this edict failed so utterly in its purpose of stopping the growth of Christianity, that this same emperor, Galerius, just eight years thereafter (A.D. 311), passed another edict recalling the first, and actually granting toleration, giving Christians permission to live the religion of Jesus Christ.
3. Up to the organization of the Hierarchy and the uniting of church and state, all the persecution of Christianity has been done either by Judaism or Paganism. Now comes a serious change. Christians (in name) begin to persecute Christians. Constantine, desiring to have all Christians join with him in his new idea of a state religion, and many conscientiously opposing this serious departure from New Testament teachings, he begins using the power of government to compel. Thus begin the days and years and centuries of a hard and bitter persecution against all those Christians and churches who were loyal to the original Christ and the Apostolic teachings.
4. In A.D. 426, just ten years after the legal establishment of infant baptism, the awful period known as the "Dark Ages" had its beginning. What a period! How awfully black and bloody! From now on, for more than a decade of centuries, the trail of loyal Christianity is largely washed away in its own blood.
We want to conclude this lesson by summarizing the most significant events of this first five-century period:
1. The gradual change from a democracy to a preacher-church government.
2. The change from salvation by grace to Baptismal Salvation.
3. The change from "believers” baptism" to "infant baptism."
4. The Hierarchy organized and the marriage of church and state.
5. Seat of empire changed to Constantinople.
6. Infant baptism established by law and made compulsory.
7. Christians begin to persecute Christians.
8. The "Dark Ages" begin A.D. 426.
9. The sword and torch rather than the gospel become the power of God (?) unto salvation.
10. All semblance of "Religious liberty" is dead and buried, and remained buried for centuries.
11. True and loyal New Testament churches, by whatever name they were called, were hunted and hounded to the uttermost limit of the new Catholic temporal power. Remnants of these true Christians and churches were scattered over the world, and found uncertain hiding places in the forests, and mountains, and valleys, and dens and caves of the earth.
1. First we want to summarize the history of this period:
Last time we had just entered the awful period known in the world's history as "The Dark Ages." Dark and bloody and awful in the extreme they were. The persecutions by the established Roman Catholic Church were hard, cruel, and perpetual. The war to exterminate “heretics” followed the fleeing Christians persistently and relentlessly into many lands. A "Trail of Blood" is very nearly all that is left anywhere. Especially throughout England, Wales, Africa, Armenia, and Bulgaria, and anywhere else Christians could be found who were trying earnestly to remain strictly loyal to New Testament teachings.
We also began discussing the Ecumenical Councils or Empire wide counsels. These were supposedly patterned after the Council held by the Apostles and other Christians at Jerusalem (see Acts 15:1). These Catholic Councils were nothing like the one held by that true church. These Counsels were called by different Emperors, and not by the Popes. Again, these were held among the Eastern or Greek Catholic churches, but were attended by representatives from the Western or Roman Catholic Churches.
In our last lesson we saw the first four of these councils, tonight we want to see the last four, which are as follows:
The fifth council was held at Constantinople in A.D. 553, and was attended by 165 bishops. This, seemingly, was called mainly to condemn certain writings (of the Baptists).
The Sixth Council was called in the year A.D. 680. This was also held at Constantinople, and one purpose of the Council was to condemn heresy.
The Seventh Council was called to meet at Nicea A.D. 787. The Empress Irene called this Council. Here in this meeting seems to have been the definite starting place, of both "Image Worship" and "Saints Worship."
The eighth and last of what were called the "Eastern Councils" was held in Constantinople in A.D. 869. The council was called mainly to settle a controversy between the heads of the Greek and Roman branches of Catholicism. The trouble was so great that they excommunicated each other. So for a short time Catholicism was entirely without a head. The breach between the two branches has never been healed. Since that time the Roman branch has been the dominant Catholic power. No longer the Emperors, but the Roman Pontiffs were now calling all Councils.
Catholics began to adopt extreme plans and measures to stop the spread of other views. First, all writings of any sort, other than those of the Catholics, were gathered and burned. For several centuries these plans and measures were strictly and persistently followed. That is the main reason why it is so difficult to secure accurate history of the Baptists. About all persistent writers and preachers died martyr deaths. This was a desperately bloody period.
At this time we want to show the differences between the Roman and Greek Catholics:
1. In the Nationalities: The Greeks mainly are Slavs, embracing Greece, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, etc., speaking Greek. The Romans are mainly Latins, embracing Italy, France, Spain, South and Central America, Mexico, etc.
2. The Greek Catholics reject sprinkling or pouring for baptism. The Romans use sprinkling entirely, claiming the right to change from the original Bible plan of immersion.
3. The Greek Catholics continue the practice of Infant Communion. The Romans have abandoned it though they once taught it as another means of Salvation.
4. The Greeks in administering the Lord's Supper give the wine as well as the bread to the laity. The Romans give the bread only to the laity; the priests drink the wine. (NOTE: In recent years it seems that the laity have again been allowed to take of the wine.)
5. The Greeks have their priests to marry. The Roman priests are forbidden to marry.
6. The Greeks reject the doctrine of Papal "Infallibility," the Romans accept and insist upon that doctrine.
The above are at least the main points on which they differ; otherwise the Greek and Roman Catholic churches, it seems, would stand together.
Thus far in our lessons we have just about gotten through with the ninth century. We will begin now with the tenth. As the centuries advance, other new laws and doctrines, and other desperately bitter persecutions will be seen.
All through the years there were many councils that were not Ecumenical, or "Empire Wide." These Councils were largely legislative bodies for the enactment or amendment of some civil or religious (?) laws, all of which, both the legislation and the laws, were directly contrary to the New Testament.
NOTE: Any laws added to the Bible are erroneous laws, and these laws soon demand more laws, and more laws without ever an end. That is why Christ gave His churches and preachers no legislative powers.
NOTE OF WARNING: Let Baptist Churches beware of disciplinary and other various rules and resolutions. The New Testament has all necessary laws and rules.
Now we want to notice seven Councils of the Western or Roman Catholics. These Councils were called by the Popes and not the Emperors.
1. The first of these Councils, those called by the popes, was called in A.D. 1123. There were present about 300 bishops. At this meeting it was decreed that Roman priests were never to marry. This was called the Celibacy of the priests.
2. The next Council was called in 1139 A.D. by Pope Innocent II to condemn two groups of very devout Christians, known as Petro-Brussians and Arnoldists.
3. Alexander III called another Council in A.D. 1179. In that Council was condemned what they called the "Errors and Impieties" of the Waldenses and Albigenses.
4. In A.D. 1215 another Council was called by Pope Innocent III. This seems to have been the most largely attended of any of these Councils. According to history "there were present 412 bishops, 800 Abbots and Friars, Ambassadors from the Byzantine court, and a great number of Princes and Nobles."
At that meeting the new doctrine of "Transubstantiation" was promulgated. According to this teaching the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper is changed into the actual body and blood of Christ, after a prayer by the priest. Transubstantiation is one of the key doctrines that stirred up the leaders of the Reformation a few centuries later. Another new doctrine that seemed to have its beginning at this meeting was the doctrine of Auricular confession; or confessing one's sins into the ear of a priest.
Also at this meeting, the “Inquisition” was instituted. This was probably the most cruel and bloody thing ever brought upon any people in all the world's history. The Inquisition was designed for trying what the Catholics called "heresy."
One more thing was done at this same meeting. It was expressly decreed to extirpate, or root out all "heresy." (Heresy was any teaching that contradicted the teaches of the Catholics). This was a black page in the history of true Christianity.
5. In A.D. 1229 still another meeting was held. (This seems not to have been ecumenical.) It was called the council at Toulouse. Probably one of the most vital matters in all Catholic history was declared at this meeting. At this meeting it was decreed that the Bible, God's book, should be denied to all laymen, or all members of Catholic churches other than priests or higher officials.
6. In A.D. 1245 yet another Council was called to meet at Lyons. This council was called by Pope Innocent IV. This meeting seems to have been mainly for the purpose of excommunicating and deposing Emperor Frederick I of Germany. The Catholic harlot has now become the head of the house, and is now dictating the politics of State government, and kings and queens are enthroned or dethroned at her pleasure.
7. In 1274 A.D. another Council was called to bring about the reuniting of the Roman and Greek branches of the great Catholic Church. This great assembly utterly failed to accomplish its purpose.
2. Secondly we want to notice the errors of this period:
1. The first error we want to notice during this period is that of "Infant Communion." Infants were not only baptized, but received into the church, and therefore supposed to be entitled to the Lord's Supper. The “supper” was administered to infants by soaking the bread in the wine. Thus it was practiced for years. The Roman Catholics, however, have abandoned this practice. (Do you suppose it lost its saving merit?)
2. Another new doctrine was added to this, which was communion being another means of Salvation.
3. In the 8th Century the doctrine of "Image Worship” was adopted by the Catholics, which is a direct violation of the second commandment.
4. Another doctrine adopted in the 8th Century was the "worship of saints."
The following are a few more of the errors that occurred during these centuries:
1. One these erroneous doctrines about this time was "There is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church”. You were either a Catholic or you were lost. (This is contrary to both the Bible and Baptist teachings).
2. Next was the doctrine of Indulgences and the Sale of Indulgences. Indulgences were good works of dead saints that were supposedly deposited in a very large credit account in Heaven. Living saints on earth could then purchase these "good works" as a means of Salvation. This alleged credit account was then entrusted to the Catholic church. Persons could buy Indulgences for themselves or their friends, or even dead friends. The prices for indulgences varied in proportion to the offense committed; or to be committed. This was sometimes carried to a desperate extreme, as admitted by Catholics themselves.
3. Yet another new doctrine was necessary to make effective the last two. That new doctrine was called Purgatory, which is supposed to be a place of intermediate state between heaven and hell, at which all must stop to be cleansed from all sins, less than damning sins. Even the "Saints" must go through purgatory and must remain there until cleansed by fire; unless they can get help through that credit account, which they can only get through prayers or purchase of Indulgences by the living. This became an outrageous money making scheme of the Roman Catholics.
Some other errors that were adopted during this period include the following, which were briefly mentioned earlier.
1. A.D. 1123 The Celibacy of the priests (priests not allowed to marry).
(Notice: 1 Tim. 4:3).
2. A.D. 1215 The Doctrine of "Transubstantiation (bread/wine changed to actual body/blood).
3. A.D. 1215 Auricular confession--confessing one's sins into the ear of a priest.
4. A.D. 1229 The Bible, God's book, was denied to all laymen.
During the period that we are now passing through the persecuted were called by many and varied names. Among them were Donatists, Paterines, Cathari, Paulicians, and Ana-Baptists; and a little later, Petro-Brussians, Arnoldists, Henricians, Albigenses, and Waldenses. Sometimes one group of these was the most prominent and sometimes another.
It should not be thought that all of these persecuted groups were always loyal in all respects to the New Testament teachings. In the main they were. And some of them, considering their surroundings, were marvelously so. Remember that many of them at that far away, time, had only parts of the New Testament or the Old Testament. The Bible was not printed. It was written on parchment or skins or something of that kind, and was necessarily large and bulky. Larger perhaps than one man could even carry. Few, if any, families or even simple churches had complete copies of the whole Bible. Of the one thousand known manuscripts only about 30 copies included all the books of the Bible.
Furthermore, during all the period of the "Dark Ages," strenuous efforts were made to destroy even what Scripture manuscripts the persecuted did possess. In many instances these people only had small parts of the Bible.
4. Fourthly we want to notice the persecutions of this period:
Let us call attention now to those upon whom the hard hand of persecution fell. If fifty million died of persecution during the 1,200 years of what are called the "Dark Ages," as history seems positively to teach; then they died faster than an average of four million every one hundred years. As mentioned before, this iron hand of persecution, dripping with martyr blood, fell upon Paulicians, Arnoldists, Henricians, Petro Brussians, Albigenses, Waldenses and Ana-Baptists; of course much harder upon some than others.
All of the groups of persistent heretics (so-called) by whatever name distinguished, and wherever they had lived, were cruelly persecuted. The Donatists and Paulicians, were prominent among the earlier groups. The Catholics, strange as it may seem, accused all who refused to follow after their unscriptural, heretical teachings, and condemned them of being heretics.
Now we want to briefly recap the Councils called during this time period that were designed to condemn “heresy” and “heretics” as the Catholics called them. These resulted in bitter and bloody persecutions of our Baptist forefathers.
1. First, there was the Council called in the year A.D. 680 to condemn heresy.
2. Secondly, there was the Council called in A.D. 1139 to condemn the Petro-Brussians and Arnoldists. These were our Baptist Brethren and their Baptist Churches.
3. Thirdly, there was the Council called in A.D. 1179 to condemn the "Errors and Impieties" of the Waldenses and Albigenses. These were also our Baptist Brethren, who believed and practiced the Bible just like we do today.
4. Fourthly, there was the Council called in A.D. 1215 when the “Inquisition” was instituted. This was perhaps the most cruel and bloody thing ever brought upon any people in all of history.
5. Fifthly, in the same Council of A.D. 1215 it was expressly decreed to extirpate, or root out all "heresy." This was a very black and bloody page in the history of true Christianity.
To conclude this lesson, we want to briefly recap the changes or errors introduced by the Roman Catholic Church during this period.
1. The doctrine of "Infant Communion."
2. The teaching that communion was another means of Salvation.
3. The doctrine of "Image Worship.”
4. The doctrine of "Saints worship."
5. The doctrine of "Salvation only in the Catholic Church.”
6. The doctrine of Indulgences and the Sale of Indulgences.
7. The doctrine of Purgatory.
8. The Celibacy of the priests.
9. The doctrine of "Transubstantiation.”
10. The doctrine of Auricular confession; or confessing one's sins into the ear of a priest.
11. The Bible denied to the laity.
Beloved, we should be very thankful for the Lord’s true churches, that He preserved down through these bloody ages unto the present day.
We ought to be all the more thankful when we consider what our forefathers went through for us today.
How much do we love the Lord’s Church? May God help us to love it more than life itself, and to be faithful to it, as were our forefathers who would rather die than to forsake it!
Are you saved tonight? If not repent and believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and you will be saved!
Are you a member of one of the Lord’s Churches? If not, why not?
Oh beloved, what a glorious privilege to be saved and a member of a New Testament Baptist Church!
1. Summary of the history of the period.
1. These centuries cover most of the time period known in history as the Protestant Reformation.
2. These three centuries, the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth, are some of the most eventful in Christian history. There was almost a continual revolution within the Catholic Church, both Roman and Greek branches, seeking a Reformation. The awakening to the need for reformation actually began in the thirteenth century, or possibly even earlier, as we will see in a moment.
3. By this time the Catholic church had become obnoxious and repulsive to many of its own leaders. Several of its priests and other leaders, one by one, began to seek reform of the many objectionable laws and doctrines of the Catholic church. The leaders of the Reformation, therefore, at one time were all Catholic priests or officials of some kind. At this time we want to briefly study a few of the more prominent reformers.
4. From 1320 to 1384 there lived a man in England by the name of John Wycliff, who attracted world-wide attention. He was the man first to attempt a real reformation inside the Catholic Church. He is many times referred to in history as "The Morning Star of the Reformation." Wycliff was fearfully hated by the leaders of the Catholic hierarchy. His life was persistently sought after by the Cathoics. He finally died of paralysis. But years later, so great was the Catholic hatred, his bones were dug up and burned, and his ashes scattered upon the waters.
5. Following closely after Wycliff was John Huss in 1373-1415, who was a man from Bohemia. He responded to the brilliant light of John Wycliff. His life, though eventful, was painfully short. Instead of awakening a favorable response of reformation among his Catholic people, he aroused fear, hatred, and opposition. As a result, John Huss was burned at the stake as a martyr among his own people.
6. After John Huss came Savonarola in 1452-1498, who was from Italy. Savonarola was born 37 years after John Huss was burnt at the stake. Like Huss, Savonarola was also a devout Catholic, who found the leaders of his people to be against all reformation. But by his eloquence he succeeded in awakening some conscience, and secured a considerable following. Although Savonarola was a great reformer of that period, he was contending against a powerful organization, which vehemently fought against the reformation, and so Savonarola must die. He also was burned at the stake.
7. Following Savonarola came a man from Switzerland by the name of Zwingle. Zwingle lived from 1484 to 1531 and was born before Savonarola died. By this time the spirit of reformation was beginning to fill the whole land. Its fires were now breaking out faster and spreading more rapidly, and as a consequence, they were becoming most difficult for the Catholics to control. The fire kindled by Zwingle was not half smothered, when the greatest of all reformation fires broke out in Germany.
8. Martin Luther, who was probably the most noted of all the fifteenth and sixteenth century reformers, lived 1483 to 1546, and was a near contemporary of Zwingle. Luther, along with his predecessors, learned that a genuine reformation inside the Catholic Church would be utterly impossible. Too many reforms would be needed. The Catholics had departed too far from the New Testament teachings to possibly be reformed.
9. After many hard fought battles with the leaders of Catholicism, Martin Luther became the founder of an entirely new Christian organization, now known as the Lutheran Church. The Lutheran Church was founded in about 1530, and soon became the Church of Germany. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say, with respect to the state church idea). So the Lutheran Church was the first new organization to come directly out of her Catholic Mother.
10. Soon after the establishment of the Lutheran Church came another new denomination, which was the Church of England. This new denomination was not a result of the reformation, but rather it was a split or division in the Catholic ranks. It was similar to the division in 869, when Greek Catholics split from the Roman Catholics. We want to briefly explain how this new division came about:
Henry VIII, who was the king of England, had married Catherine of Spain. After some time the king fell in love with Anne Boleyn, and therefore he wanted to divorce Catherine and marry Anne. Back in those days only the Pope could grant the divorce, and in the case of Henry VIII and Catherine, he refused to grant it. Henry was in great distress. Because he was king, he felt entitled to do what he wanted in the matter.
Thomas Cromwell, King Henry’s Prime Minister, made fun of the King because he submitted to papal authority in such matters. King Henry then decided to throw off papal yoke and made himself head of the Church of England. Thus began the new Church of England. This was consummated in about 1534. 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.
This split in the Catholic Church resulted in some reform within the new Church of England. Men including Crammer, Latimer, Ridley and others led in this reform. They paid a price, however, when a few years later Mary, or "Bloody Mary as she was called," became queen of England. During her reign, Mary reunited the Church of England with Rome once again. The reaction to this reunion was a bloody five-year period under Mary’s reign. While bloody Mary’s axe rolled martyr heads, hers also rolled with them. After this, when Elizabeth became Queen, the Church of England again overthrew papal power and was re-established.
Excerpt from the church of England website:
“Her Majesty the Queen is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and she also has a unique and special relationship with the Church of Scotland, which is a Free Church. In the Church of England she appoints archbishops, bishops and deans of cathedrals on the advice of the Prime Minister. The two archbishops and 24 senior bishops sit in the House of Lords, making a major contribution to Parliament's work.”
11. From 1509 to 1564, there lived another of the greatest of the reformers. This was John Calvin, a Frenchman who was living in Switzerland at the time. He was a contemporary of Martin Luther for about 30 years. John Calvin, as we know, is accredited with founding the Presbyterian Church. So then in 1541, just eleven years after the founding of the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church came into existence. Like the Lutherans, the Presbyterian Church was led by a reformed Catholic.
12. In 1560, nineteen years after Calvin organized his first church in Geneva, Switzerland, John Knox, who was a disciple of Calvin, established the first Presbyterian Church in Scotland. Thirty-two years later in 1592 the Presbyterian Church became the State Church of Scotland. Again, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
13. To conclude this section, we see that before the close of the Sixteenth Century, there were five established Churches that were empowered by the civil governments and married to them. Again these churches include: The Roman and Greek Catholics; the Church of England; the Lutheran, or Church of Germany; and the Presbyterian, which became the Church of Scotland.
2. The errors of the period:
First we want to notice the teaching of the infallibility of the “Writings of the fathers”, and the infallibility of the pope. The Catholic Church claims to believe in the infallibility of the Bible (or at least their version, the Vaticanus), but they also claim two other things to be unerring. These are the "Writings of the Fathers", and the decrees of the Catholic Church, or that is, the declarations of the Infallible Pope.
Keep in mind that the Catholic Church does not regard the Bible as the sole rule of faith and practice. In fact, they give more regard to the decrees of the Pope than to the Bible, because they believe that he is infallible, and therefore he has the right to add to, or take away from the Word of God as it pleases him.
Therefore, there could never be a satisfactory debate between a Catholic and a Baptist. There could be no basis for agreement. The Bible alone can never settle anything so far as the Catholics are concerned. Baptists agree with the Bible that men are saved by grace alone through faith alone, but the Catholics claim the right to add baptism, and sacraments (as they call them), and good works, and pennants, and indulgences, and a multitude of other means to merit and obtain salvation.
Take as an example the question of "Baptism". The Catholics claim that the Bible unquestionably teaches Baptism by immersion as the only mode. But they claim that their unerring Church had the right to change the mode from immersion to sprinkling, but that no other churches have this authority. According to them, only the infallible Pope has this authority.
Finally, there are the errors of the protestant organizations, that split from or came out of the Catholics, which retained many of their hurtful errors. Lets notice just seven of these:
(1) Hierarchy form of government.
(2) Church government legislative.
(3) Marriage of church and State.
(4) Infant BAPTISM.
(5) Sprinkling or Pouring for Baptism.
(6) Baptismal Regeneration.
(7) Persecuting others, especially the Baptists.
3. Churches of the Period:
Generally the non-compliant and non-established churches were called Ana-Baptists because they refused to join and conform with Roman Catholicism or the other established churches. The Ana-Baptists would not accept the false teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Harlot or her daughters. They would not partake of their Mass. They would not accept their Baptism. They despised everything about these false religious organizations. They were not interested in marriage with the state, as they were espoused to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Prominent groups of Ana-Baptists during this period were the Arnoldists, the Albigenses, and especially the Waldenses, which were the dominant group of Ana-Baptists in the twelfth through the sixteenth centuries, and into the seventeenth century. Beyond this time most true churches were simply called Baptists. We have considerable history on the Waldenses from these centuries, and even further back, which connects them with the ancient Ana-Baptists of the early church of Apostolic times.
The Waldenses are a very important historical key to Baptist Church succession. In the book entitled “The Churches of the Valley of Piemont”, which is said to be one of the best books every written on Baptist history, is a wonderful account of the Waldenses. It contains much about their beliefs and practices, their history, as well as their persecutions. Perhaps most importantly, it is one of the most convincing books ever written on the perpetuity of the Baptists. In this book, which was written in 1658 by a sympathizer of the Waldenses, is contained important History of the Waldenses and their connection with the ancient churches, even back to Apostolic times. With the study materials that I am preparing for this series of messages, I plan to provide you with several chapters from this book.
During the hard struggles for Reformation, many Ana-Baptists during this period gave continuous and valuable aid to the reformers. Keep in mind that, although Ana-Baptists had relatively little documented history because of severe persecutions, yet those poor people were always great in number. They hoped that by helping the reformers, they would gain some relief from their bitter persecutions. They came out of their hiding places in the mountains and valleys, and fought bravely along side the reformers, but they were doomed for disappointment. Now the Ana-Baptists would have additional enemies added to their list of persecutors. Now the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, the Church of England, and many others that would follow, would begin persecuting the Ana-Baptists with cruel and bitter persecutions, just like their Catholic mother. These false churches, being married to the state like their Catholic Mother, also had the civil power to persecute Ana-Baptists, who were only pilgrims and sojourners in the earth.
4. The Persecutions of the Period:
During the early part of the reformation period all the established Churches persecuted one another, and every one else for that matter. The reformers and their churches were in reality very similar to their Catholic mother in many, many ways, especially with regards to persecuting others. 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.
Persecutions of Ana-Baptists (or Baptists as they were beginning to be called) did not cease during the reformation. The hated Ana-Baptists, 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 for distance, stakes were set up every few feet along this highway, the tops of the stakes were sharpened, and on the top of each stake was placed a gory head of a martyred Ana-Baptist. This, beloved, was performed by a people who called themselves devout followers of the meek and lowly Jesus.
The same protestant reformers that affected their own liberty by the help of the Ana-Baptists, now turned on them like a pack of bloody wolves, and like a deceitful den of vipers out of the pit of hell. After they achieved their own safe position and prominence, with the power of the state they turned on the poor Ana-Baptists who had helped them, and tore them into pieces like a flock of helpless sheep!
All of these protestant Churches, along with where Catholic Mother, hated and persecuted the Ana-Baptists, and all others who would not take part with them. The help the Protestants received from the Ana-Baptists in the struggle for reformation, had been forgotten, or conveniently ignored. Many more thousands, including both women and children, were constantly perishing every day in the unending persecutions. The great hope 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.
We want to conclude our study with one more example from this period. In the year 1655, 100 years after that Catholics and the Lutherans agreed not to persecute one another, was one of the most horrendous massacres of Baptists in history. This, beloved, was after most of the violence of the reformation had ceased. This was after the cruel bloody centuries of the Dark Ages. This was the bloody massacre of the Waldenses in the Valleys of Piemont. We cannot describe the brutality and violence that those Catholic murderers inflicted upon our beloved Baptist Brothers and Sisters, and their children, and even their infants. Again, I will give you the material later from the book “The Churches of the Valley of Piemont”, which graphically describes the details of the massacre of those precious and godly saints called the Waldenses, who were our Baptist forefathers.
1. First we want to notice the history of the period, beginning in the 17th Century (A.D. 1601).
1. This three-century period begins with the rise of an entirely new denomination, which was the Congregational Church, or “Independents” as they first were called. Some historians state that the Congregational church began in 1602. However, some place its beginning far back in the sixteenth century, closer to the origin of the Lutheran and Presbyterian churches. In the great wave of reformation, many who went out of the Catholic Church were not satisfied with the extent of the reformation led by Luther and Calvin. They renounced the preacher rule form of church government, and return to the New Testament form of government, which was congregational and democratic. This was the same form of church government that was held throughout the previous fifteen preceding centuries by those who refused to join Constantine's hierarchy.
As a result of their particular reform, the Congregationalists were bitterly persecuted by the Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and the Church of England; all of which were established, or state churches. On the other hand, the Congregationalists retained many other of the Catholic errors, such as infant baptism, pouring or sprinkling for baptism, and later they adopted and practiced the church and state idea. After refugeeing to America, they themselves became very bitter persecutors, especially of Baptists, as we will see in another study.
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 are as follows:
(1) That Jesus Christ is the only head of the church and that the Word of God is its only statute book.
(2) 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.
(3) That these separate churches have full power to choose their own officers and to maintain discipline.
(4) That in respect to their internal management they are each independent of all other churches and equally independent of state control.
These principles are very different from Catholicism, or even Lutheranism, or Presbyterianism or the Episcopacy of the Church of England. They are very similar to the Baptists of today, and of all ages past, and to the original teachings of Christ and His apostles.
2. 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 distribution of the Word of God, began the rapid decline of the Papal power, and the beginnings for the idea of "religious liberty." It had been many, many, many long cruel and bloody centuries since the world know anything about religious liberty. Yes, where there is light, there is liberty.
3. In 1648 came the "Peace of Westphalia" which brought peace between the Catholics, Lutherans and Presbyterians, who agreed no longer to persecute one another. Persecutions among these denominations meant war with governments backing them. All other Christians, however, especially the Ana-Baptists, were to continue to receive the same former harsh treatment, and persistent persecution from the Catholics and the Protestant churches.
4. As a matter of interest, note the religious changes in England as the centuries have gone by:
(1) 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.
(2) It then came under the power of the Hierarchy which was rapidly developing into the Catholic Church. It then remained Catholic, which was the state religion, until the split in 1535, during the reign of Henry VIII as we saw last time. It was then called the Church of England.
(3) Eighteen years later, 1553-1558, during the reign of “Bloody Mary", England was returned to the Catholics, which was a bloody five-year period.
(4) Then Elizabeth came to the throne in 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.
5. Next we want to notice the gradual softening down of religious matters in England from the hard and bitter persecutions of the established church for more than a century.
(1) 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.
(2) The second toleration act came in 1778. This act included the toleration of the Catholics, but still excluded the Unitarians.
(3) The third toleration act came in 1813, which included the Unitarians.
(4) 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.
(5) In 1836-37 and 1844 came the "Registration" and "Marriage" acts. These two acts made legal baptisms and marriages performed by "dissenters."
(6) 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.
6. 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 remains an established, or state church. At best, there 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 rules out the possibility of absolute religious liberty and equality.
7. Very near the beginning of the eighteenth century there were born three boys in England whose names were John and Charles Wesley, and George Whitfield. 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 were converted (which at that time was not unusual among the English clergy.) These three boys, however, were afterwards converted to Christ.
These three young men had no desire to be the founders of a new denomination. Instead they greatly desired and strove for a revival of pure religion and a genuine spiritual reformation within 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.
The definite date that the Methodist Church was founded is obscure. Methodism, however, is older than the Methodist Church. The Wesleys and Whitfield 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 organized in America, in Baltimore, in 1784. The Methodists, when they came out of the Church of England, or the Episcopal Church, they brought with them a number of the errors of their mother and grandmother churches. These errors include the Episcopacy, or preacher-church government, infant baptism and sprinkling for baptism, baptismal regeneration, and many others.
8. September 12, 1788, Alexander Campbell was born in Antrium, Ireland, a child who would become the founder of a new religious denomination. His father was a Presbyterian minister. The father, Thomas Campbell, came to America in 1807, and Alexander came later. Because their religious views had changed, 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 persuaded a Baptist preacher to baptize them, but with the distinct understanding that they were not to unite with the Baptist Church (which was an error on the part of that Baptist Church). 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 the Campbellites never claimed to be Baptists.
9. It is important to Baptist history to mention John Bunyan, one of the most notorious characters in Christian history. In some respects, he was one of the most celebrated men in English history and even in world history. John Bunyan, a Baptist preacher who spent twelve years in the Bedford jail, who, while in jail, wrote the most celebrated and most widely circulated book, next to the Bible, in the history of the whole world, which of course was "Pilgrim's Progress". John Bunyan was one of the most notable of all examples of the bitterness of Christian persecution.
2. The errors of the period.
What is important to note here is that all of the reformers retained many of the original errors of the Roman Catholic Church. These errors include:
1. Preacher rule, or hierarchy form of church government.
2. Marriage of church and state.
3. Infant Baptism.
4. Pouring and sprinkling for baptism.
5. Baptismal regeneration.
6. Various works for salvation including membership in their churches.
7. Persecution of others.
8. And the many other errors that were brought out during this series of messages.
These errors, some more and some less, are birthmarks of every Protestant church. The most significant errors that have persisted from after Apostolic times unto today, are those concerning Baptism. Erring churches have persistently taught and practiced baptismal regeneration; which gave birth to infant baptism; which gave birth to pouring and sprinkling for baptism. You mark it down, that most, if not all protestant churches, assign saving merit to baptism, and most if not all of them say that baptism is required in salvation. Ironically, the only church that has never believed in baptism for salvation is the Baptist Church.
Additionally, all of the protestant churches believe and teach some form of works for salvation. This is the key difference between all religions in the world. Every religion, whether Christian or Pagan, can be categorized into two religious groups. These groups are salvation by grace, and salvation by works. We see these two religious groups all the way back with Cain and Abel shortly after the fall of man. Cain brought the works of his hands as an offering to God, but Abel offered a sacrificial lamb, which typified the grace of God in the Lamb of God, who is Jesus Christ. We see these two groups perpetuated throughout the history of Israel with the Jews and Pagan religions. The Jew’s religion representing salvation by grace, and the Pagan religions representing salvation by works of various kinds. We see these two religious groups throughout the dark ages personified in the Catholics, which taught salvation by works, and the Ana-Baptists who taught salvation by grace. And we see these two religious groups from the reformation period until today in the Catholic and Protestant churches, which still teach salvation by works, and the Baptists who teach salvation by grace alone.
If you examine all of the Protestant creeds, as I have studied many of these, you will find they all believe in some form of works for salvation. They all assign meritorial saving grace to various works that they perform through their churches. On the other hand, you will find the Baptists, who have no creed other than the inspired Word of God, have always believed in salvation by grace alone, through faith alone; plus nothing, minus nothing.
Perhaps the most significant addition during this period was that of Campbellism. The Campbellites did not create any new doctrine, but merely mimicked the old Catholic teaching of baptismal regeneration, and the teaching of salvation in the church. This new denomination has become very large with its many branches and offshoots. But sad to say, it is just the old harlot disguised in a different dress!
3. The churches of the period.
1. It is a well established fact in church history that those churches who refused to accept baptism from the Roman Catholic Hierarchy or its Protestant daughters, were called "Ana-Baptists." The Ana-Baptists refused to accept the doctrines of infant baptism, pouring and sprinkling for baptism, and "Baptismal Regeneration". Therefore the Ana-Baptist churches re-baptized all those who came to them from the Hierarchy or later from the Protestants. No matter what other names these churches were called by their enemies, 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. The name "Baptist" was a "nickname," that was given to them by their enemies.
2. We want to 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: All of this Baptist history quoted above is prior to the reformation, and prior to the founding of all the Protestant churches. It is also about a hundred years before the Reformed Baptists claim to have originated.)
We continue the quotation—
"Moravia promised a home of greater freedom (that is, to the Baptists), 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 the words "Missionary Zeal." And yet some folks say that the "Hardshells" are the primitive Baptists, but this simply is not true. The ancient Baptists were known for propagating the gospel and for their missionary zeal.)
Here again, as we studied from previous centuries, the Baptists are shown to be in existence long before the Protestant reformation.
3. Mention also should be made here 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 more to the Welch Baptists than most of us realize. Some whole Baptist churches, fully organized, have migrated as church bodies from Wales to the United States. (Orchard, p. 21-23; Ford, chapter 2.)
According to history, the beginning of Christian work in Wales began in New Testament times (Acts 28:30-31; 2 Tim. 4:21) with Claudia and Pudens, a husband and wife who visited Rome from Britain. During their visit to Rome they were converted under Paul's preaching, and then they, along with others who were with them, including two preachers, carried the gospel back to Wales, which was their homeland. To what extent the Welch Baptists have helped the Baptists in America can hardly be estimated. This would be an interesting study in itself!
4. The persecutions of the period.
1. During all the seventeenth century, persecutions of 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 (or Presbyterians); by the Catholics in Italy, and France, and in every other place where the Papacy was in power. During this time period there was no peace anywhere for all those who disagreed with the state church, in whatever part of the world they lived.
We are beginning to see how that Baptists got to where they are today. We can see how the pieces of the great historic puzzle fit together. Yes, there are a lot of pieces missing it seems, yet we can make out the picture. We can tell what the Master Artist has painted by His sovereign omnipotent Hand. We can see how the promise of perpetuity that Jesus made to His Church, has been true all along, and will be fulfilled unto the end of the age. Sadly, many if not most who bare the name Baptist today, know little or nothing of their history.
Are you a part a the Lord’s great institution, that He called “MY CHURCH”! If not why not. Come, surrender yourself to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith in the gospel. Follow the Lord in Scriptural Baptism and membership in this church as the Lord leads.
1. The history of the period.
1. Catholics were 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, which is now the United States they have never been strong enough to have their religious views established by law.
2. Religious persecution in Europe was one of the prime causes for the first colonial settlements in America. In addition to the Jamestown colony in 1607, and the "Pilgrims" in 1620, were two other groups of colonists. One of these groups was the "Puritans" or "Congregationalists", and the other group was the Presbyterians. Among these two groups were also a number of other Christians with even different religious views, who were also seeking relief from persecution.
3. The Congregationalists and Presbyterians, immediately after settling their new American Colonies, established their own religious views by law. In other words, the Congregationalists and Presbyterians became the legalized religions of their colonies. This was done to the absolute exclusion of all other religious views. These groups had just fled from their mother country to escape persecution, seeking religious liberty for themselves. Now immediately they began denying religious liberty to others, and persecuted all those with different religious convictions. Especially among the persecuted, were the Baptists.
4. The Southern colonies in Virginia, North and South Carolina were settled mainly by the Episcopalians (or the church of England). Thus the Episcopal views became the established religion of these colonies. Thus in the new land of America, there were soon to be three established or state churches. Already in the early American colonies there was no religious liberty for any one except those with governmental authority. So we see that the Children of Rome followed in the bloody footsteps of their mother.
5. The immigrants to America also included many Baptists. There were probably some in every American-bound vessel. They came in small groups, and never in large colonies. They would not have been permitted to come in that way. Nevertheless they kept coming. Before the colonies are thoroughly established the Baptists are numerous and almost everywhere.
6. Roger Williams, who had been banished, together with others, some of whom had also been banished, among whom was John Clarke, a Baptist preacher, decided to organize a colony of their own. They had no legal authority as of yet, but they felt this was their best option under the present conditions of persecution. So they found an unclaimed section of land, that would later be called Rhode Island. That was in the year 1638, ten years later than the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but it was about 25 years later in 1663 before they were able to secure a legal charter. So in 1663, the Rhode Island colony became a real legal institution, and the Baptists could write their own constitution.
7. That Constitution was written. It attracted the attention of the whole world. In that Constitution was the world's first declaration of "Religious Liberty." For a long time it seemed the Baptists fought that battle for religious liberty 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.
8. There were two Baptist churches organized even prior to the legal establishment of the Rhode Island colony. Roger Williams organized the church in providence in 1639. John Clarke organized the church in Newport 1638.
There has been some disagreement on the date of the Newport Church, but this is not important to our study. The church organized by Roger Williams at Providence seems to have lived but a few months. There has been much question about whether Mr. Williams was ever truly a Baptist, and subsequently it is doubtful that his church was ever truly a Baptist Church. The other church by John Clarke at Newport, was still living at the time of Mr. Carroll’s writing.
9. Elsewhere than Rhode Island, religious liberty came slowly and by degrees. For example: In Virginia a law was passed permitting one Baptist preacher to a county. He was permitted to preach 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 in Virginia and in other colonies elsewhere positively forbidding any Baptist Mission work. It took a long time, and many hard battles in the Virginia House of Burgesses, to greatly modify these laws.
10. One hundred and twenty-three years after Rhode Island was legally chartered in 1663, the second place to win its religious liberty was Virginia in 1786. Five years later, Congress declared the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which took effect December 15, 1791. The first amendment granted religious liberty to all citizens. Baptists were leaders in bringing this great blessing to our nation.
11. Once in Congress, the question of whether the United States should have an established church or several established churches, or religious liberty, was being discussed. While they could not agree on an established church, the Baptists earnestly contended for absolute religious liberty. James Madison (afterwards President) was the Baptist’s main supporter. Patrick Henry offered a substitute bill, which proposed "That four churches (or denominations) be established", which included the Episcopal, Congregational, Presbyterian, and the Baptist. This compromise bill stated that each person taxed would have the right to choose which of these four denominations would receive his tax money. The Baptists fought against it; saying that any combination of Church and State was against their religious beliefs, and could not accept it even if voted. The bill had to be voted on three times. Because of Patrick Henry’s power of persuasion, the first two votes passed almost unanimously. But it seemed that God had intervened. After the second vote, 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 against their own 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.
12. Not long after this, the Church of England was entirely disestablished in America. No religious denomination was supported by the Central Government, thus Church and state, so far as the United States was concerned, were entirely separated. The United States of America became the first Nation, at least since Constantine, to achieve religious liberty.
13. 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, finally gave 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 particular religious denomination.
14. Over the centuries Baptists had other opportunities to become “State” or “established” churches, in addition to the one already mentioned in the United States. One of these was Rhode Island, in which the Baptists held the legal charter of the colony. Another was in the Netherlands (at that time embracing Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, and Denmark). Their King offered to make the Baptists "the established" church of the Netherlands. The Baptists, however, declined, stating that it was contrary to their fundamental convictions and principles.
15. 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.
2. The errors of the period:
There are no new errors to point out, but as we’ve already mentioned, the old errors were brought into America. Some of these included:
1. Marriage of church and state.
2. Infant baptism
3. Baptismal regeneration.
3. Persecution of others.
Of course there are the other errors that accompanied the Pedo-Baptist churches, but, as we will see next, the four errors were enough to make life bitter and hard for Baptists during the early years of this new nation.
3. Persecutions of the Period:
1. Soon after migrating to America, the Baptists began to feel the heavy hand of persecution by the three established churches (the Congregationalist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal churches). They were persecuted for such offenses as "preaching the Gospel" and "refusing to have their children baptized," and "opposing infant baptism." They were arrested, imprisoned, fined, whipped, banished, and their property was confiscated, etc. All that here in America.
2. 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.
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, or die, among the Indians.
3. We want to give a few examples of persecution in the early colonies. 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, officers of the colony came and arrested them and later brought them to trial.
To get a more definite charge against them, they were carried into a religious meeting of the Congregationalist church, their hands being tied. The charge against them was "for not taking off their hats in a religious service." (Of course their hands were tied). All three were tried and convicted. Governor Endicott, governor of the colony, was present at the trial. In a rage he said to Clarke, while the trial was going on, "You have denied infant 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 he 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 on his bed. He had to sleep on his hands or elbows and his knees.
4. Another man by the name of Painter, "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."
5. In the colony where the Presbyterian church was the established religion, dissenters (Baptist and others) were persecuted.
In this colony was a settlement of Baptists. In the whole settlement were only five other families. The Baptists recognized the laws of the colonies and were obedient to them. We want to notice the following incident:
It was decided by authorities of the colony to build a Presbyterian meeting house in the Baptist settlement. The only way to do it seemed was by taxation of the Baptists. 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 saying: "We have just started our settlement. Our little cabins have just been built, and little gardens and patches have 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." In spite of their plea the tax was levied. Because it could not possibly be paid at that time, an auction was called, and their cabins and gardens and patches, and even their graveyards, were sold--only their unopened fields not sold. Property was sold for about a tenth of its value. Some of it, at least, was said to have been bought by the Presbyterian preacher who was to preach there. The settlement was said to have been left ruined.
6. A large book could be filled with oppressive laws, including terrifically burdensome acts of taxation and hard dealings of many sorts, directed mainly against the Baptists.
7. In the southern colonies, throughout the Carolinas and especially Virginia, where the Church of England dominated, 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 continued.
8. Baptists in Virginia suffered many hardships. As many as 30 preachers at different times, were put in jail and the only charge against them was preaching the Gospel of the Son of God. James Ireland is a case in point. He was imprisoned for preaching the gospel. After imprisonment, his enemies tried to blow him up with gunpowder. That having failed, they next tried to smother him to death by burning sulfur under his windows at the jail. Failing also in this, they tried to arrange for 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 the stick was raised up above the walls so that Ireland could see when they were ready. The preaching continued.
9. Three Baptist preachers (Lewis and Joseph Craig and Aaron Bledsoe) were later arrested on the same charge of preaching the gospel. These preachers were arraigned for trial. Patrick Henry, hearing of the case, and though living many miles away, and though he was a Church of England man himself, rode to the trial on horseback to volunteer his services to defend these Baptist preachers. So great was Henry’s defense that the preachers were all freed.
This brings to a close the study of the Trail of Blood from the time of Christ through the founding of The United States of America.
We’ve seen the perpetuity of the Lord’s Church down through the age, just as Jesus promised.
We’ve seen Satan’s counterfeit church that he has perpetuated, which has endeavored to destroy the Lord’s Church, and rob it of its rightful glory and honor.
We have seen the manifold errors of Satan’s counterfeit church, and its idolatry, and blasphemy against God and His Son.
And we have seen the suffering, and persecution, and martyrdom of millions of precious and faithful Baptist saints, who would rather suffer and die horrible deaths, than to deny their Savior and the precious truths and practices taught in His Word.
How is it with Baptists today? How about us?
How precious is the “faith once delivered to the saints” to the members of Calvary Baptist Church?
What are we willing to sacrifice for Jesus, and for the truth of His Word?
I’m afraid that we have lost much of our zeal and our convictions as Baptists today.
I’m afraid that our fire has died down to a smoldering ember, whose glow can hardly be seen.
God help us! Lord revive us again to love you and your Word. Give us a holy love and zeal for you once again! Lord help us to keep our lamps burning for this dark and dying world to see.
And Lord help Baptists today to love your church as you loved it, and to love it as our forefathers loved it, and may we stand for your church and be faithful to it, even unto death if need be.