The Confessions published by the Baptists in the Seventeenth Century were neither creeds written to secure uniformity of belief, nor articles to which subscription was demanded. They were rather expositions of their opinions, issued in this particular form, as being most convenient. They were defenses, or Apologies (in the original sense of that term), wrung from them by the shameless calumnies and bitter misrepresentations of their enemies.


The rapid growth of Baptists in the early part of the Seventeenth Century aroused against them a host of adversaries. Every weapon--slander, perversion, abuse, no matter what--all was considered fair in their warfare. No heresy was too gross, no practice too abominable, for the Baptists; at least so affirmed a hundred voices. "I expect some of them will say, with John of Leyden," says one of their adversaries, "that if the Word of God were lost, they might soon supply another. . . . That the regenerated man cannot sin is the very doctrine of the Anabaptists, to take the communion where there is a profane person, is to take it with his profaneness, that the Lord's Prayer was never taught to be said, &c.; that a liberty of prophesying must be allowed, that distinctions of parishes is anti-Christian, that ministers of God's Word should rule both the spiritual and the temporal; that all human laws must be abolished, and all policies of states must be taken out of God's word only:--all these are scions of that stock of Anabaptism that was transplanted out of Holland in the year 1535, when two ships laden with Anabaptists fled into England, after they had missed the enterprise at Amsterdam.


"To these doctrines you must add their practices. The seditious pamphlets; the tumultuous rising of rude multitudes, threatening blood and destruction; the preaching of the cobblers, felt-makers, grooms, and women; the choosing of any place for God's service but the church; the night meetings of naked men and women; the licentiousness of spiritual marriages without any legal form; these things, if they be not looked into, will bring us in time to community of wives, community of goods, and destruction of all."


Another writer declares that "in one Anabaptist you have many heretics; and in this one sect, as it were one stock, many erroneous and schismatical positions and practices engrafted and, as it were, inoculated. . . . They preach, and print, and practice their heretical impieties openly. They hold their conventicles weekly in our chief cities, and suburbs thereof, and there prophesy by turns. . . . They flock in great multitudes to their Jordans, and both sexes enter the river, and are dipt after their manner with a kind of spell, concerning their tenets. . . . They print not only Anabaptism, from whence they take their name, but many other most damnable doctrines, tending to carnal liberty, familism, and a medly and hodge-podge of all religions. . . If this sect prevail, we shall have no monarchy in the State, nor hierarchy in the Church, but anarchy in both. . . . Solinas writeth, that in Sardinia whence there is a venomous serpent called Solifuga (whose biting is present death), there is also at hand a fountain, in which, who washes themselves after they are bit, are presently cured. This venomous serpent, flying from and shunning the light of God's Word, is the Anabaptist, who in these later times first showed his shining head and speckled skin, and thrust out his sting near the place of my residence for more than twenty years." They are "adders, and efts, breed in old broken walls." They are "illiterate," "sottish," "lying," "blasphemous," "impure," "carnal," "cruel," "bloody," "profane," "sacrilegious." So wrote Dr. Featley, of Southwark. But if Featley is virulent, and Edwards savage and unscrupulous, Baillie is little better than either. "The spirit of the Anabaptists is clearly devilish," says Baillie; "every Anabaptist is a rigid Separatist; will put all Church power in the hands of the people; will permit any gifted man to preach, but not in a steeple house; tithes are unlawful, their preachers work with their own hands, and do not go in black clothes; they celebrate the Lord's Supper in inns; they deny all power to the magistrates in anything that concerns religion;" and, most grievous sin of all, in the estimation of a North Briton--"they are injurious to the Scots."


When such were the gross calumnies and silly nonsense mixed up and offered to men as "Baptist opinions and Baptist practices," it was surely needful that Baptists themselves should make their own declaration.



Smyth's Confession


is, perhaps, the first Baptist creed, or Apology, of modern times. Dr. Evans has given the whole of the articles, one hundred and two in number, in the Appendix to his first volume on Early English Baptists. It is a translation from a Dutch copy, preserved in the archives of the church at Amsterdam, and was evidently written to confute the opinions ascribed to Smyth and his party by Robinson and Browinists of Amsterdam. It was first published in 1611.


In this Confession, after stating that there is a God, "one in number," "incomprehensible and inexpressible," whose "essence" is not explained in the Scriptures, but only "His working and attributes," the terms Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, declaring to us what we can know of Him, Smyth says, (Article 7): "To understand and conceive God in the mind, or in the understanding, is not the saving knowledge of God; but to be like God in His effects and properties; to be made conformable to His divine and heavenly attributes." God, also, "foresaw and determined the issue and event of His works. . . ;" and it is therefore "an abomination" to speak of "all things happening by luck and fortune." Yet "God is not the author and worker of sin and wickedness; that He only has foreseen and determined what evil the free-will of angels and men would do; yet He gave no influence, instinct, motion, or inclination to the least sin." "God created man with a free will, having the faculty to choose what is good, and to avoid what is evil; or to choose evil, and avoid what is good; and that this will was a natural power and property, created by God in the soul of man." The fall of Adam did not destroy "any natural power or faculty;" "and therefore, being fallen, he still retained freedom of will." Smyth objects to the use of the term "original sin" as unscriptural;" nor "is there such a thing as men intended by the word (Jer. xviii. 8); because as God threatened death only to Adam, not to his posterity for their sins, and because God over-rates the soul." Even "if original sin" might have passed from Adam to his posterity, "yet is the issue thereof stayed by the death of Christ, which was effectual, before Cain and Abel's birth, as Christ is the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world (Rom. xiii. 8)." "Infants," says the twentieth article, "are conceived and born in innocency, without sin, and that they dying, therefore, are all undoubtedly saved; which is to be understood of all infants who live in the world; for the sin is not imputed; because where there is no law, there is no transgression. Now the law was not given to infants, but to them that could understand."


The distinctive sentiments of the early General Baptists are affirmed in articles twenty-two to twenty-six:--"Adam, being fallen, God did not hate him, but loved him still, and sought his welfare with all his heart; neither doth He hate any that falleth with Adam; but He loves mankind, and from His love, sent His only-begotten Son to save that which was lost, and to find that which was gone astray." "That God never forsaketh a man till there be no remedy; neither doth He cast away His innocent creature from all eternity, but casteth away irrecoverably in sin [literally, who will not be aided'];" " but as there is in all creatures an inclination to their young, to do them good, so is in the Lord an inclination towards men to promote their welfare; for each spark of godliness that is in the creatures, is also infinitely in God;" "that God has determined, before the foundation of the world, that the way of life, and salvation should be by Christ; and that He has foreseen who would follow it, and also who would follow the way of infidelity and impenitency;" "that no more than a father begets his child to the gallows, and a potter forms a pot to be broken, so God predestinates and creates nobody to damnation (Ezek. xxxiii. 11; Gen. i. 17; 1 Cor. xv. 49; Gen. v. 3);" "that the sacrifice," says the thirty-third article, "of Christ's body and blood, offered unto God His Father, upon the cross, though a sacrifice of a sweet smell, and though God be well pleased with Him, doth not reconcile God to us, who did never hate us, nor was our enemy; but reconcileth us to God, and slayeth the enmity and hatred which is in us against God."


It will be seen, from the sixty-third and sixty-fourth articles, how easily men might run away with the notion, who only heard half Smyth's and the other Anabaptist's statements, "That if the Word were lost, they could soon supply men with another." Smyth says, "That the new creature which is born of God, needs not the outward Scripture, creature, or ordinances of the external churches, so that it might bear itself on it for support; because it hath three witnesses in itself, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, which are better than all Scripture, creatures, ordinances, whatever they may be;" "that even as He who was above the law, nevertheless is made under the law for our sakes, so the regenerated can and will not do other thing, from love toward their"--["Master," we suppose, although there is here an obscure and un-rendered part of the MS.]--"than to employ the external things that therewith they may come to aid and support of men; that, therefore, the visible Church and ordinances are at all times necessary for all men, whatever they be." But surely this is a very different statement from John of Leyden's; and nothing but a determination to caricature the words of an opponent can ever make them teach his doctrine.


The broad catholicity of Smyth startled the narrow souls of many good men, who yet believed the Scriptures. "All repenting and believing Christians are," says the seventy-second article, "brethren in the communion of the outward visible Church, where they may live, or by what name they may be named, be they Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Zwinglians, Calvinists, Brownists, Anabaptists, or any other pious Christians, who in truth, and by godly zeal, strive for repentance and faith, although they are implicated in great ignorance and weakness. Nevertheless, we greet them altogether with a holy kiss, deploring with our whole heart that we who strive for one faith, one Spirit, one Lord, one God, one body, one baptism, should be so divided and severed into so many sects and splittings, and that for so less considerable reason.”


In answer to the charge that Anabaptists deny all magistrates, Smyth writes (Article 85): "that the office of the magistrate is a permissive ordinance of God (Rom. xiii. 1), or an ordinance of man (1 Pet. ii. 13; 1 Sam. viii. 5, 22), which God has permitted, that one might not devour the other, as the wild beasts; so that honesty, decency, sobriety amongst men might be maintained, and that the magistrate thereby may please God in his vocation, doing what is right and just in the sight of the Lord, in order that they may obtain a temporal blessing from God for themselves, their families, and their subjects." The next article is the one previously quoted, wherein magistrates are taught "not to meddle with religion and matters of conscience." Smyth still regarded the differences between members of the visible Church as matters to be settled between themselves, since "Christ's disciples," on such differences, "may not go to law before magistrates; and all their differences must be decided by yea and nay, peacefully, without using an oath."


The maintenance of the poor is taught in the ninety-second article: "That in the necessity of the Church and the poor brethren, all things ought to be common; nay, one church ought to assist another in its wants."


It is needless to quote Smyth's declaration concerning marriage, since it is expressed in the words of Scripture (Heb. xiii. 4; 1 Cor. vii. 2); "but," says Smyth, in another article towards the end of his long confession, "Christ's disciples, the members of the visible Church, ought not to marry wicked and impious people of the world; but every one must marry in the Lord (1 Cor. vii. 39, 40); that is, every man only one wife, and every woman only one man (1 Cor. vii. 2; Acts xiii.)."


Professor Muller, who kindly translated this confession for Dr. Evans, says: "I have made the translations as faithful as possible, and as literal, as far as it could be done. The incorrectness of the style and the writing have caused much obscurity in many parts. I have occasionally altered a word, and in some instances transposed one, to make the meaning plainer. In no case is the sense altered. I have carefully avoided that. I wish I could have removed all obscurity from some of the articles; but that I found all but impossible." Enough, however, of clearness is to be found in all those articles which give this Confession its distinctive value; and both Professor Muller and Dr. Evans deserve well of the Baptists for having snatched this precious fragment from oblivion.



The London Confession.


The next "Confession of Faith" was published in 1644, and was reprinted in 1646. It is that which Luke Howard describes as well known under the title of The Faith of the Seven Churches. As these churches were all situated in the metropolis, the best title for it is The London Confession.


Like Smyth's, the publication of this was mainly due to the misrepresentations of their enemies. From the pulpit, and from the press, nothing but opprobrious terms were hurled against the Baptists. In order, therefore, to clear themselves from the unjust aspersions of their foes, they determined upon the publication of this Confession. It consists of fifty-two articles, and is strictly Calvinistic. The churches subscribing to this Confession were Devonshire Square, Broad Street, Wapping; Great St. Helen's; Crutched Friars; Bishopsgate Street; Coleman Street; and Glazier's Hall. The original title was as follows: "A Confession of Faith of seven congregations, or Churches of Christ in London, which are commonly, but unjustly called, Anabaptists, published for the vindication of the truth, and information of the ignorant, likewise for the taking off those aspersions, which are frequently, both in pulpit and in print, unjustly cast upon them. Printed at London, anno 1646.” The Confession is signed, among others, by John Spilsbury, Samuel Richardson William Kiffln ,Thomas Patient, and Hanserd Knollys.


After acknowledging that there is one God, whose subsistence is in Himself, whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself, "and that in this divine and infinite being there is the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, each having the whole Divine essence, yet the essence undivided," the third article runs as follows:


"God hath decreed in Himself, before the world was, concerning all things, whether necessary, accidental, or voluntary, with the circumstances of them, to work, dispose, and bring about all things according to the counsel of His own will, to His glory (yet without being the author of sin, or having fellowship with any therein), in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, unchangeableness, power, and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree: and God hath before the foundation of the world, foreordained some men to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of His grace, leaving the rest in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His justice." The sixth article further states, that "the elect, being loved of God with an everlasting love, are redeemed, quickened, and saved, not by themselves, nor their own works, lest any man should boast, but only and wholly by God, of His free grace and mercy, through Jesus Christ, who is made unto us by God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and all in all, that he that rejoiceth may rejoice in the Lord." Again, in the twenty-first article, we read, "Jesus Christ, by His death, did purchase salvation for the elect that God gave unto Him; these only have interest in Him, and fellowship with Him, for whom He makes intercession with His Father in their behalf; and to them alone doth God by His Spirit apply this redemption; as also the free gift of eternal life is given unto them, and none else."


Notwithstanding this, "the preaching of the Gospel," says article twenty-five, "to the conversion of sinners, is absolutely free, no way requiring as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, or terrors of the law, or preceding ministry of the law, but only and alone the naked soul, a sinner and the ungodly, to receive Christ crucified, dead, and buried, and raised again; who is made a prince and a Saviour for such sinners as through the Gospel shall be brought to believe in Him."


The thirty-sixth and two following articles point out that each church has power given it by Christ to choose among themselves "meet persons," for elders and deacons; that such ought to continue in their calling and place, according to God's ordinance, to feed the flock; and while they are not to do this for filthy lucre, is yet the duty of every church, "to supply freely" to them, "whatsoever they shall need, according to Christ's ordinance, that they that preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel."


After describing the mode of baptism as being by "dipping or plunging the body under water," the person designed by Christ “to dispense baptism," we are told, "the Scripture holds forth to be a disciple; it being nowhere tied to a particular Church officer, or person extraordinarily sent."


The germ of Baptist Associations is found in the forty-seventh article: "Although the particular congregations be distinct, and several bodies, every one as a compact and knit city within itself; yet they are all to walk by one rule of truth; so also are they, (by all means convenient), to have the counsel and help one of another, if necessity require it, as members of one body, in the common faith, under Christ their head."


Four articles touch on magistrates, and are as follows:


"Article 48.--A civil magistracy is an ordinance of God, set up by Him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well; and that in all lawful things commanded by them, subjection ought to be given by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but for conscience' sake; and that we are to make supplications and prayers for kings, and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in godliness and all honesty."


To this article there is appended the following note:--


"The supreme magistracy of this kingdom we acknowledge to be the King and Parliament (now established) freely chosen by this kingdom; and that we are to maintain and defend all civil laws and civil officers made by them, which are for the good of the Commonwealth. And we acknowledge with thankfulness that God hath made this present King and Parliament honourable, in throwing down the prelatical hierarchy, because of their tyranny and oppression over us, under which this kingdom long groaned, for which we are ever engaged to bless God and honour them for the same. And concerning the worship of God, there is but one Lawgiver which is able to save and destroy (James iv. 12) which is Jesus Christ, who hath given laws and rules sufficient in His Word for His worship; and for any to make more, were to charge Christ with want of wisdom, or faithfulness, or both, in not making laws enough, or not good enough for his house. Surely it is our wisdom, duty, and privilege, to observe Christ's laws only (Ps. ii. 6, 9, 10, 12). So it is the magistrate's duty to tender the liberty of men's consciences (Ecc. viii. 8), (which is the tenderest thing unto all conscientious men, and most dear unto them, and without which all other liberties will not be worth the naming, much less enjoying), and to protect all under them from all wrong, injury, oppression, and molestation; so it is our duty not to be wanting in nothing which is for their honour and comfort, and whatsoever is for the well-being of the commonwealth under which we live; it is our duty to do, and we believe it to be our express duty, especially in matters of religion, to be fully persuaded in our minds of the lawfulness of what we do, as knowing whatsoever is not of faith is sin. And as we cannot do anything contrary to our understandings and consciences, so neither can we forbear the doing of that which our understandings and consciences bind us to do. And if the magistrate should require us to do otherwise, we are to yield our persons in a passive way to their power, as the saints of old have done (James v. 4). And thrice happy shall he be, that shall lose his life for witnessing (though but for the least tittle) of the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Pet. v.; Gal. v.)"


"Article 49.--But in case we find not the magistrate to favour us herein; yet we dare not suspend our practice, because we believe we ought to go in obedience to Christ, in professing the faith once delivered to the saints, which faith is declared in the Holy Scriptures, and this our confession of faith a part of them; and that we are to witness to the truth of the Old and New Testament to the death, if necessity require, in the midst of all trials and afflictions, as the saints of old have done; not accounting our goods, lands, wives, children, fathers, mothers, brethren, sisters, yea, and our own lives dear unto us, so we may finish our course with joy; remembering always, that we ought to obey God rather than men, Who will, when we have finished our course, and kept the faith, give us the crown of righteousness; to Whom we must give an account of all our actions, and no man being able to discharge us of the same."


"Article 50.--It is lawful for a Christian to be a magistrate or civil officer; and also it is lawful to take an oath, so it be in truth, and in judgment, and in righteousness, for confirmation of truth, and ending of all strife; and that by rash and vain oaths the Lord is provoked, and this land mourns."


"Article 51.--We are to give unto all men whatsoever is their due, as their place, age, estate, requires ; and that we defraud no man of anything, but to do unto all men as we would they should do unto us."


After this clear statement of their opinions on the subject of obedience to magistrates, oaths, &c., the London Confession closes with the following note:--


"Thus we desire to give unto Christ that which is His, and unto all lawful authority that which is their due, and to owe nothing to any man but love; to live quietly and peaceably, as it becometh saints, endeavouring in all things to keep a good conscience, and to do unto every man (of what judgment soever) as we would they should do unto us; that as our practice is, so it may prove us to be a conscionable, quiet, and harmless people (noways dangerous and troublesome to human society), and to labour and work with our hands, that we may not be chargeable to any, but to give to him that needeth, both friends and enemies, accounting it more excellent to give than to receive. Also we confess that we know but in part, and that we are ignorant of many things which we desire and seek to know; and if any shall do us that friendly part to show us, from the Word of God, that we see not, we shall have cause to be thankful to God and them. But if any man shall impose upon us anything that we see not commanded by our Lord Jesus Christ, we should, in His strength, rather embrace all reproaches and tortures of men, to be stripped of all outward comforts, and if it were possible, to die a thousand deaths, rather than to do anything against the least tittle of the Word of God, or against the light of our own consciences. And if any shall call what we have said heresy, then do we, with the Apostle, acknowledge, that after the way they call heresy worship we the God of our fathers, disclaiming all heresies (rightly so-called, because they are against Christ); and to be steadfastly immovable, always abounding in obedience to Christ, as knowing that our own labour shall not be in vain in the Lord."


It was hardly to be expected that the men who had so virulently abused the Baptists would permit this Confession, closing with these noble words, to pass unchallenged. Featley, who had been their most bitter defamer, felt a little abashed before its clear and unanswerable statements, and in his Censure, printed shortly after, is constrained to acknowledge, with manifest reluctance, that--"If we give credit to this Confession and the Preface thereof, those who among us are branded with that title (Anabaptists) are neither heretics, nor schismatics, but tender-hearted Christians, upon whom, through false suggestions, the hand of authority fell heavily, whilst the hierarchy stood; for they neither teach free-will, nor falling away from grace, with the Arminians; nor deny original sin, with the Pelagians; nor disclaim magistracy, with the Jesuits; nor maintain plurality of wives, with the Polygamists; nor community of goods, with the Apostolic; nor going naked, with the Adamites; much less aver the mortality of the soul, with Epicurus and Pschopannichists." But the scurrility of Featley is ingrained. Again and again, in the course of this reply of some seven or eight pages, he indulges in the old abuse. "They cover a little rat's-bane in a great quantity of sugar;" "the devil holds them up by the heel only, as Thetis did Achilles when she dipt him in the sea;" they are "like the fish and serpents in the mud of Nilus, not fully shaped; like a statue in a stonecutter's shop, not finished;" "they are no prophets, but enthusiasts; no inspired men, but distracted; no seers, but dreamers; no expositors, but impostors; no commentators, but commenters--nay rather commentiters; no workmen, but butchers; no carbuncles, but glow-worms; no fixed stars, but wandering lights; no lights, but ignes fatuos, exhalations incensed in the night, which lead fools out of their way, sometimes into thickets, sometimes into ditches and quagmires, and many of them into rivers, and over head and ears!" A valiant champion this, in good sooth, and one at which the Baptists must then have often smiled in pity.


That the London Confession was accepted generally, and set many minds to rest, is proved by the esteem in which we presently find the Baptists were held, both in London and elsewhere. They were to be found in the army of the Parliament, in the navy, and in civil offices of trust. Much prejudice against the Baptists was evidently broken down, even though Featley called them bad names, and declared some of their Confession "soured with the new leaven of Anabaptism." Two editions of this Apology were afterwards published, one in 1651 and another a year later. In 1653 a third was printed at Leith, by a small company of Baptists who were attached to the army. The alterations in the second edition chiefly modify the very marked Calvinism of the original Confession.


A second Calvinistic Baptist Confession was issued by the Somerset churches in 1656, but this does not call for any special notice. There was also a third Calvinistic Confession of twelve articles published in the same year as the basis of the Midland Association.



Grantham's Confession.


In 1660, Thomas Grantham and Joseph Wright presented an address to Charles the Second, to which was appended a brief confession of faith. In their address they refer to the persecutions they had endured for their opinions, their difficulties in getting redress from the magistrates, and their desire for the King's protection. Of course the King said it was not his wish that any of his subjects should be persecuted on account of their religious opinions, promised that he would have special care over them, that none in future should molest and annoy them, and at once ordered some one to go to the Chancellor and Secretary to see that due measures were taken for their protection. What sort of "protection" they obtained is best seen in the story of their sufferings during the next quarter of a century. The Confession was signed by a long array of ministers, and was declared to "owned and approved more than twenty thousand," a clear evidence of the then flourishing character of the General Baptist Denomination. Grantham's Confession is purposely brief, but it is very doubtful, brief though it is, whether the King, into whose hands it was put, ever took the trouble to read it. Although equally outspoken with Smyth's, it is no mere copy of that earliest Confession. It also bears this resemblance to the London Confession, that it was afterwards published "to inform all men, in those days of reproach and scandal, of our innocent belief and practice," in the maintenance of which they declare themselves "resolved to suffer persecution not only to the loss of our goods, but to life itself." They also "utterly, and from their very hearts, in the Lord's fear, declare against all those wicked and devilish reports, and reproaches, falsely cast upon us, as though some of us (in and about the City of London) had lately gotten knives, hooked knives, and the like, and great store of arms besides, which were given forth by order of Parliament, intending to cut the throats of such as were contrary minded to us in matters of religion; and that such knives and arms, for the carrying on some secret design, hath been found in some of our houses by search."


Two or three articles will show the positions then held by the General Baptists. In the fourth we read:--"That God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. iii. 9) and the knowledge of the truth, that they may be saved (1 Tim. ii.4). For which end Christ hath commanded that the Gospel (to wit, the glad tidings of remission of sins) should be preached to every creature (Mark xvi. 15). So that no man shall suffer in hell (that is, the second death) for want of a Christ that died for them; but, as the Scripture saith, for denying the Lord that bought them (2 Pet. ii. 1), or because they believe not on the name of the only-begotten Son of God (John iii. 18). Unbelief, therefore, being the cause why the just and righteous God will condemn the children of men, it follows, against all contradiction, that all men, at one time or other, are put in such capacity as that (through the grace of God) they may be eternally saved (John i. 7; Acts xvii. 30; Mark vi. 6; Heb.. iii.10, 18, 19; 1 John v. 10; John iii. 17).


"Article 8.--That God hath, even before the foundation of the world, chosen (or elected) to eternal life such as believe, and so are in Christ (John iii.16; Eph. i. 4; 2 Thess. ii. 13); yet confident we are, that the purpose of God, according to election, was not in the least arising from foreseen faith in, or works of righteousness done by the creature, but only from the mercy, goodness, and compassion dwelling in God; and so it is of Him that calleth (Rom. ix. 11), whose purity and unwordable holiness cannot admit of any unclean person (or thing) to be in His presence; therefore, His decree of mercy reaches only to the godly man, whom (saith David) God hath set apart for Himself (Psa. iv. 3).


"Article 9.--That men, not considered simply as men, but ungodly men, were of old ordained unto condemnation, considered as such, who turn the grace of God into wantonness, and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude iv.). God indeed sends a strong delusion to men, that they might be damned; but we observe that they are such (as saith the Apostle) that receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved (2 Thess. ii. 10-12); and so the indignation and wrath of God is upon every soul of man that doth evil, living and dying therein, for there is no respect of persons with God (Rom. ii. 9 11).


"Article 10.--That all children dying in infancy having not actually transgressed against the law of God in their own persons, are only subject to the first death, which comes upon them by the sin of the first Adam, from whence they shall be all raised by the Second Adam, and not that any one of them dying in that state shall suffer for Adam's sin eternal punishment in hell (which is the second death), for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. xv. 22: Matt. xix. 14); not daring o conclude with that uncharitable opinion of others, who, though they plead much for bringing of children into the visible Church here on earth by baptism, yet nevertheless, by their doctrine, that Christ died but for some, shut a greater part of them out of the kingdom of heaven for ever."


Grantham's closing remarks are not without strong warrant. A high Calvinist of his day wrote a book entitled Moral Reflections on the Number of the Elect; in which the writer declared that he had sufficiently proved, from Scripture evidence, "that not one in a hundred thousand; nay, probably, not one in a million, from Adam downwards, shall be saved."


In regard to magistrates, the twenty-fifth article says:--"We believe that there ought to be civil magistrates in all nations for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well (1 Pet. ii. 14) ; and that all wicked lewdness and fleshly filthiness, contrary to just and wholesome (civil) laws, ought to be punished according to the nature of the offences; and this without respect of any persons, religion, or profession whatsoever; and that we, and all men, are obliged by Gospel rules, to be faithful to the higher powers, to obey magistrates (Acts iii. 1), and to submit to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake, as saith Pet. ii. 13. But in case the civil power do, or shall at any time impose things about matters of religion, which we, through conscience to God cannot actually obey, then we, with Peter also, do say that we ought, in such case, to obey God, rather than men (Acts v. 29; and accordingly do hereby declare our whole holy intent and purpose that through the grace of God we will not yield, nor in such cases in the least actually obey them; yet humbly purposing, in the Lord's strength, patiently to suffer whatsoever shall be inflicted upon us for our conscionable forbearance."


Brave words again, and such as the Baptists in those days knew well how to utter--words, moreover, which they shortly verified by their equally heroic deeds. Grantham reprinted this Confession in his Christianismus Primitivus, adding thereto "Explanatory Statements, and the Testimony of many of the Ancient Writers of Christianity, to show that though the Composition of these Articles be New, yet the Doctrine contained therein is truly Ancient, being Witnessed both by the Holy Scriptures and later Writers of Christianity."


The Confession next published was called



The Orthodox Creed.


It was issued in 1678, by the General Baptists of the counties of Bucks, Hereford, Bedford, and Oxford; was written by a Thomas Monk, of Bucks, the author of a book entitled A Cure for the Cankering Error of the New Eutychians, and was signed by fifty-four messengers, elders, and brethren. According to Adam Taylor, the historian of the General Baptists, the design of the compiler was to approximate as closely as possible to the Calvinistic system, without giving up the tenets held by General Baptists. It differs materially in some doctrinal points from the Confession of 1660; attempts to explain and account for those things which the other only asserts; is highly metaphysical; is "an explication of the inexplicables, and probably introduced or encouraged that spirit of philosophizing on sacred subjects which, soon after its publication, distracted the Denomination." There is no proof that it was ever generally accepted by the General Baptists, and a contemporary writer, Joseph Hooke, himself a messenger of their churches, thus describes this Creed, in his Necessary Apology:--"’Tis true some small exceptions may be made against some few passages in it, but nothing that respects the fundamentals of religion. There is nothing that directly opposeth the Word of God. But they were men who composed it; and men may err. They expounded as well as they could, and imposed upon nobody, but left others to judge for themselves, and to receive their well-meant interpretations, if they could understand them, if not, to let them alone." In other words, they were, like the other Confessions, expositions of sentiments, not articles of belief, and expositions that were accepted or refused as men might individually determine.


The second, third, and fourth articles, on "the Divine attributes of God and the Holy Trinity," will at once betray its metaphysical character.


"Article 2.--Every particle of being in heaven and earth leads us to the infinite Being of beings, namely, God; who is simplicity, that is, one mere and perfect act, without all composition, and an immense sea of perfections; who is the only eternal Being, everlasting without time, whose immense Presence is always everywhere present, having immutability without any alteration in being or will. In a word, God is infinite, of universal, unlimited, and incomprehensible perfection, most holy, wise, just, and good; whose wisdom is His justice, whose justice is His holiness, and whose wisdom, justice, holiness is--Himself. Most merciful, gracious, faithful, and true, a full fountain of love, and who is that perfect, sovereign, Divine will, the Alpha of supreme being.


"Article 3.--In this Divine and Infinite Being, or unity of the Godhead, there are three persons, or subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, or the Holy Spirit, of one subsistence, power, eternity, and will; each having the whole Divine essence, yet the essence undivided. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; and the Holy Ghost is of the Father and the Son proceeding. All infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is invisible, and not to be divided in nature, or being, but distinguishable by several properties and personal relations, and we worship and adore a Trinity in Unity, and a Unity in Trinity, three persons, and but one God; which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on Him.


"Article 4.--We confess and believe that the Son of God, or the eternal Word, is very and true God, having His personal subsistence of the Father alone, and yet for Himself as God; and of the Father as the Son, the eternal Son of an eternal Father; not later in the beginning. There never was any time when He was not; not less in dignity, not other in substance, begotten without diminution of His Father that begat, of one nature and substance with the Father; begotten of the Father, while the Father communicating wholly to the Son, which He retained wholly in Himself, because both were infinite, without inequality of nature, without division of essence, neither made, nor created, nor adopted, but begotten before all time; not a metaphorical or subordinate God; not a God by office, but a God by nature, is equal, co-essential, and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Ghost."


In the same fashion the Confession discourses on "The Second Person of the Trinity taking our flesh," on "The Union of the Two Natures in Christ," on "The Communication of Properties," and " The Holy Spirit;" and we are not, therefore, surprised when we come to the thirty-eighth article to find "that the Nicene Creed, Athanasius' Creed, and the Apostles' Creed, as they are commonly called, ought thoroughly to be received and believed."


The ninth article, "Of Predestination and Election," may be compared with the eighteenth, "Of Christ dying for all mankind." The first declares:--"The decrees of God are founded on infinite wisdom and situate in eternity, and crowned with infallibility as to the event. Now predestination unto life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundation of the world was laid, He hath constantly decreed in His counsel, secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation, those whom He hath chosen in Christ, and bring them to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour, through Jesus Christ,--whom He elected before the foundation of the world, and is called God's elect, in whom His soul delighteth, being the Lamb foreordained, and so predestinated unto the superlative glory of the hypostatical union. And this is not for any foreseen holiness of his human nature, with all that did flow out of the hypostatical union, being elected of mere grace, as are all members of His mystical body. And God the Father gave this, His elected and beloved Son, for a covenant to the people, and said, ‘that His covenant shall stand fast with Him, and His seed shall endure for ever.' And, albeit, God the Father be the sufficient cause of all good things He intended to us, yet Christ is the meriting cause of all those good things God intended to us in election, namely, repentance, faith, and sincere obedience to all God's commandments. And so God the Father, that He might bring about the eternal salvation of His elect, chose the man Christ, with respect to His human nature, out of the fallen lump of mankind, which, in the fulness of time He made of a woman,--made under the law, to redeem those that were under it, that we might receive the adoption of sons.


"And though Christ came from Adam, as Eve did, yet not by Adam, as Cain did--viz., by natural propagation, [He was] therefore without any stain of sin. And this second Adam, being, by God's eternal decree, excepted out of the first covenant, as being neither God the Father, who we justly offended, nor yet sinful Adam, who had offended Him in breaking of it: therefore Christ, the second Adam, was a fit mediator between God and man, to reconcile both in Himself, by the shedding and sprinkling of His blood, according to God's eternal purpose in electing of Christ, of all that do, or shall believe in Him; which eternal election, or covenant transaction between the Father and the Son, is very consistent with His revealed will in the Gospel; for we ought not to oppose the grace of God in electing of us, nor yet the grace of the Son in dying for all men, and so for us, nor yet the grace of the Holy Ghost in propounding the Gospel, and persuading us to believe it. For until we do believe, the effects of God's displeasure are not taken from us; for the wrath of God abideth on all them that do not believe in Christ. For the actual declaration in the Court of Conscience is by faith an instrument, not for faith as a meriting cause; for Christ is the meriting cause of eternal life to all that believe, but not of God's will to give eternal life to them, nor yet of God's decree to save us, albeit we are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Now faith is necessary as the way of our salvation, as an instrumental cause; but the active and passive obedience of Christ is necessary as a meriting cause of our salvation; therefore God's eternal decree doth not oppose His eternal will revealed in the Gospel, it being but one, not two diverse and contrary wills. For His decree, as King, decreeth the event, or what shall be done infallibly; but His command as a lawgiver showeth not what shall be done, but what is the duty of man to do, and leave undone. Therefore God hath, we believe, decreed that faith, as the means of salvation, as the end shall be joined together; that where the one is, the other must be also, for it is written: ‘He that believeth shall be saved;' also, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.' Now, here is a great mystery indeed, for God so ministereth His absolute decree that He leaves as much place for an efficacious conditional dispensation as if the decree itself were conditional."


The article closes with a long catalogue of Scripture references--upwards of sixty-- in confirmation of the opinions expressed. It is not surprising, however, that some passages in the article were quoted by an advocate for High Calvinism, who, some quarter of a century after the publication of this Confession, had, found his way into a General Baptist pulpit in Leicestershire; and quoted as "from the writings of Thomas Monk, and about fifty brethren besides, of the ‘General' faith, all stars of the first magnitude." The General Association in London in 1700, hearing of this assertion, as emphatically denied it; sent a copy of Orthodox Creed to the Midland brethren, with a few comments of their own; and advised that the minister should be dealt with, "as a preacher of false doctrine, and as one who slandered his brethren." This incident illustrates the "uncertain sound" given by the Confession, and perhaps accounts for its want of general favour.


The twentieth article touches on "The Free Will in Man:"--"God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature, determined to do good or evil; but man, in a state of innocency, had such power and liberty of will to choose and perform that which was acceptable and well-pleasing to God, according to the requirement of the first covenant; but he, falling from his state of innocency, wholly lost all ability, or liberty of will, to any spiritual good for his eternal salvation, his will being now in bondage under, sin and Satan, and therefore not able of his own strength to convert himself, nor prepare himself thereunto, without God's grace taketh away the enmity out of his will, and by His special grace freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, enabling him to will freely and sincerely that which is spiritually good, according to the tenure of the new covenant of grace in Christ; though not perfectly, according to the tenure of the first covenant, which perfection of will is only attainable in the state of glory, after the redemption or resurrection of our fleshly bodies."


In speaking "Of Vocation and Effectual Calling," the next article says:--"That general calling is, when God by means of His Word and Spirit, freely of His own grace and goodness, doth ministerially acquaint mankind with His gracious good purpose of salvation by Jesus Christ, inviting and wooing them to come to Him, and to accept of Christ, revealing unto them the Gospel covenant, and that those that with cordial hearts do improve this common grace, He in time worketh unfeigned faith and sincere repentance in them; and by His grace they come to accept Christ as their only Lord and Saviour, with their whole heart, and God becomes their Father in Christ, and they being then effectually called, are by faith united to Jesus Christ by grace unto salvation."


Like Smyth's Confession, and Grantham's, the Orthodox Creed also strongly insists on the salvation of children dying in infancy: Smyth declaring, "that being born in innocency, without sin, that they dying are undoubtedly saved;" Grantham, that "all children dying in infancy, have not actually transgressed against the love of God in their own persons, and only subject to the first death, from whence they shall be all raised by the second Adam;" and the Orthodox Creed, "that all little children dying in their infancy, viz., before they are capable to choose either good or evil, whether born of believing parents, or unbelieving parents, shall be saved by the grace of God and the merit of Christ their Redeemer, and the work of the Holy Ghost, and so being made members of the invisible Church, shall enjoy life everlasting."


Smyth objects to the use of oaths (Article 88); but Grantham, in his Christianismus Primitivus, says, "that many Christians are doubtful in this case, but without sufficient grounds;" and the Orthodox Creed also declares "that an oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation, in a solemn and reverent using of God's holy name; and such an oath we believe all Christians, when lawfully called thereunto by the magistrate, may take; but the foolish and monastical vows of Papists, and all idle and vain swearing is abominable and wicked profaning of the holy name of God."


The articles on "The Civil Magistrate"and "Liberty of Conscience" may also be cited to illustrate, still further, the uniform testimony of the misrepresented and falsely called Anabaptists. In the first, it is declared, "The supreme Lord and King of all the earth hath ordained civil magistrates to be under Him over the people, for His own glory and the public good. And the office of a magistrate may be accepted of and executed by Christians, when lawfully called thereunto; and God hath given the power of the sword into the hands of all lawful magistrates for the defence and encouragement of them that do well, and for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the maintenance of justice and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each kingdom and commonwealth; and they may wage war upon just and necessary occasions. And subjection in the Lord ought to be yielded to the magistrates in all lawful things commanded by them, for conscience' sake, with prayers for them for a blessing upon them, paying all lawful and reasonable custom and tribute to them, for the assisting of them against foreign, domestical, and potent enemies."


Equally distinct and emphatic is the teaching of the second:--"The Lord Jesus Christ, who is King of Kings, and Lord of all by purchase, and is Judge of quick and dead, is the only Lord of conscience, having a peculiar right to be so; He having died for that end, to take away the guilt, and to destroy the filth of sin, that keeps the consciences of all men in thraldom and bondage, till they are set free by His special grace. And, therefore, He would not have the consciences of men in bondage to or imposed upon by any usurpation, tyranny, or command whatsoever, contrary to His revealed Word, which is the only rule He hath left for the consciences of all men to be ruled, and regulated, and guided by, through the assistance of His Spirit. And, therefore, the obedience to any command or decree that is not revealed in, or consonant to His Word, in the holy oracles of Scripture, is a betraying of the true liberty of conscience. And the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute blind obedience, destroys liberty of conscience and reason also, it being repugnant to both; and that no pretended good end whatsoever, by any man, can make that action, obedience, or practice, lawful and good, that is not grounded in or upon the authority of Holy Scripture, or right reason agreeable thereunto.' The closing part of this article, and the expressions used in others, arise from the Creed seeking, as the title-page declares, ‘to unite and confirm all true Protestants in the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, against the errors and heresies of Rome.'"


The next most remarkable public Confession is now known as



The Confession of the Assembly.


It first appeared a year earlier than the Orthodox Creed, and has ever since been regarded as a just exposition of the sentiments of the Particular, or Calvinistic, Baptists. It was issued anonymously, "by the elders and brethren of many congregations of Christians (baptized upon profession of faith) in London and the country." A second edition appeared in 1688; and the following year it formally received the sanction of the General Assembly. The notice, "appended to many copies of the edition of 1688, and to all subsequent editions," was as follows:--"We, the ministers and messengers of, and concerned for, upwards of one hundred baptized congregations in England and Wales (denying Arminianism), being met together in London, from the third of the seventh month, to the eleventh of the same, 1689, to consider of some things that might be for the glory of God, and the good of these congregations, have thought meet, (for the satisfaction of all other Christians that differ from us in the point of baptism), to recommend to their perusal the Confession of our Faith, printed for and sold by Mr. John Harris, at the Harrow, in the Poultry, which Confession we own, as containing the doctrine of our faith and practice; and do desire that the members of our churches respectively do furnish themselves therewith." Among other signatures appended to this "Notice" are those of Knollys, Kiffin, the two Collins'--Hercules and William, Keach, Tomkins, &c. They subscribed to it, as they assure us, "in the name and behalf of the Assembly."


The Westminster Confession, made in the days of Charles the First, is followed nearly word for word, with such omissions or additions as their own opinions required. A few of the articles, or chapters, may be quoted, omitting the numerous Scripture references with which each of them is crowded.


The third chapter thus deals with the subject "Of God's Decrees":--


"1. God hath decreed In Himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things whatsoever come to pass; yet so as thereby God is not the author of sin, nor hath fellowship with any therein, nor is violence offered to the will of His creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears His wisdom in disposing all things, and power, and faithfulness in accomplishing His decree. 2. Although God knoweth whatsoever may, or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath He not decreed anything, because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. 3. By the decree of God for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated and foreordained to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the praise of His glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of His glorious justice. 4. These angels and men thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be increased or diminished. 5. Those of mankind that are predestinated to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love; without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto. 6. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so He hath, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto, wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified and saved, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. 7. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care; that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word and yielding obedience thereto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election; so shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God, and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel."


The article on "free will" is very similar to that which appears in the Orthodox Creed; but the one on "effectual calling" is very different." Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds, spiritually and savingly, to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by His Almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace. 2. This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, co-working with His special grace, the creature being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead. 3. Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how He pleaseth; so, also, are all other elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word. 4. Others not elected, though they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men that receive not the Christian religion be saved, be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature, and the law of that religion they do profess."


We give another of these articles, that on "the perseverance of the saints," since this article, and the one on "personal election" are specially pointed out as distinguishing them from the other Baptists then existing: "Those whom God hath accepted in the Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein unto the end, and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance (whence He still begets and nourisheth in them faith, repentance, love, joy, and hope, and all the graces of the Spirit unto immortality); and though many storms and floods arise and beat against them, yet they shall never be able to take them off that foundation and rock which by faith they are fastened upon; notwithstanding, through unbelief and the temptations of Satan, the sensible sight and love of God may for a time be clouded and obscured from them, yet He is still the same, and they shall be sure to be kept by the power of God unto salvation, whence they shall enjoy their purchased possession, they being engraven upon the palms of His hands, and their name having been written in the book of life from all eternity. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy and merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, and union with Him, the oath of God, the abiding of His Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof. 3. And though they may, through the temptation of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sin, and for a time continue therein, whereby they incur God's displeasure, and grieve His Holy Spirit, come to have their graces and comforts impaired, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded, hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves, yet they shall renew their repentance, and be preserved, through faith in Christ Jesus, to the end."


There is an appendix to the Assembly's Confession, entirely devoted to a more careful examination of the arguments commonly advanced in favour of infant baptism. The Confession itself has been frequently reprinted since its endorsement by the Assembly in 1689, and four years after that date it was "ordered to be translated into Latin with all convenient speed;" but it is not known whether this was actually done.



The Somerset Confession.


A brief Confession was published in 1691 by some churches in Somerset, and the neighbouring counties. It consists of twenty-seven articles, and agrees, in all material points, with Granthain's Confession. The original title is, "A Short Confession, or a Brief Narrative of Faith." In the introduction they say, "It is not for any ambition of our attainments above others, neither for want of understanding that there has been sufficient said to these things already, by such pens as we prefer and honour, as being far more able to set forth the great truths of the Gospel than ourselves. Neither do we hereby pretend to be bringing forth new things, but to bear our testimony to the faith once delivered to the saints, in which we trust, through grace, we are established; but our reasons why we thus publish are,--(1) We are, on these articles of faith, united together as one people to worship and serve God, with one mind and consent (until we see just cause to relinquish), holily and resolvedly, in the strength of the Lord, to persevere thereunto to the end. (2) Because we are looked upon as a people degenerated from almost all other baptized congregations, at least in other parts of our nation; so that they are not only un-free, but are even afraid to have any affinity with us in the work, worship, and service of the Lord; which did incline us to appear in public after this manner; to give a short account of our faith in the great things of the Gospel; so that, if possible, we may have more acquaintance, acceptance, and fellowship with those churches of Jesus Christ that we believe are one with us in the most material things of the Gospel, both relating to matters of faith and practice, who, it may be, do carry themselves strange for want of right understanding of our faith. But if, when all is done, it do not answer the end for which it is intended, but we must notwithstanding be looked upon as a bye-people, to be rejected, or laid aside; we trust we shall keep close to the Lord in the things that we at present understand, until we are by some divine authority convinced of some religious mistakes therein, &c.; and now we shall proceed to explain ourselves by those brief articles of faith following.”


In the fourth article on "the extent of the death of Christ," the Confession declares, "Concerning the extent of the death of our dear Redeemer we believe, that suitably to the great end of God the Father in sending Him into the world, He gave Himself a ransom for all mankind, for the world, the whole world, and that thereby there is a way of reconciliation, acceptation, and salvation opened to all men; from whence we conclude, that if any man came short of obtaining reconciliation, acceptation, and salvation, it is not for want of grace in the Father, nor a sacrifice in the Son."


In the article on "God's decrees," the Confession says, "that the Word of God is God's decreed will, and that there is no secret or decreed will in God, contrary to His revealed Word and will;" "that whatever God absolutely decrees will come to pass; but that many things that do come to pass are not decreed of God. . . . It might suit the nature of the devil, or wicked men, to decree wickedness; but far be it from the righteous God so to do. Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" And in the article on "election," after repeating the words of the Assembly's Confession, and declaring that they do not hold this doctrine, but "that the infinitely wise and holy God, suitable to His name and nature, did elect and choose unto Himself from all eternity, and (merely of His own good pleasure), out of the whole body and bulk of mankind, an entire species or sort of men, namely, those that in time do believe and sincerely obey Him, patiently continuing in the way of well doing to the end;" that, moreover, "this election is in Christ Jesus, of God's eternal purpose and grace, before the foundation of the world," and "extends to the whole number of the godly in all nations, throughout all ages, under the various dispensations under which they live."


It does not appear what was the result of this desire for closer union with other Baptists, or whether the authors of this Confession were still thought to be a "bye-people;" but Adam Taylor says that the Confession itself was not much known in other parts of the kingdom.


Besides the various public expositions of Baptist opinion in the Seventeenth Century already mentioned, there were others published by private individuals, or for the use of particular congregations. John Bunyan's and Yavasour Powell's are illustrations of the first; the Confessions of the Keachs, father and son, are illustrations of the second. When Benjamin Keach published his short Confession in 1697, for the special use of the congregation at Horsley Down. Among other reasons assigned for its issue is this--that the larger Confession was out of print. He adds to his abridged version a brief treatise on "the true glory of a church and its discipline." The Confession published by his son, Elias Keach, for the use of the congregation meeting at Tallow Chandlers' Hall, on Dowgate Hill, is similar to the father's, except in the preface and dedications.


It only remains for us now to notice the brief



Articles of Religion


agreed upon by the first "Assembly of Free-grace General Baptists," in June, 1770. They are rather a declaration of their views on those points which had been the chief subjects of difference between themselves and the older branch of the General Baptists, than a full Confession of Faith. We give the articles entire:--


1. On the fall of man.--We believe that man was made upright in the image of God, free from all disorder, natural and moral; capable of obeying perfectly the will and command of God his Maker; yet capable also of sinning: which he unhappily did, and thereby laid himself under the Divine curse; which, we think, could include nothing less than the mortality of the body and the eternal punishment of the soul. His nature also became depraved, his mind defiled, and the powers of his soul weakened that both he was, and his posterity are, captives of Satan till set at liberty by Christ.


"2. On the nature and perpetual obligation of the moral law.--We believe that the moral law not only extends to the outward actions of life, but to all the powers and faculties of the mind, to every desire, temper, and thought; that it demands an entire devotion of all the powers and faculties of both body and soul to God; or, in our Lord's words, ‘To love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength;' that this law is of perpetual duration and obligation, to all men, at all times, and in all places or parts of the world. And we suppose that this law was obligatory to Adam in his perfect state--was more clearly revealed in the Ten Commandments, and more fully explained in many other parts of the Bible.


“3. On the person and work of Christ.--We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is God and man united in one Person; or possessed of Divine perfection united to human nature, in a way which we pretend not to explain, but think ourselves bound by the Word of God firmly to believe; that He suffered to make a full atonement for all the sins of all men, and thereby He has wrought out for us a complete salvation, which is received by, and as a free gift communicated to, all that believe in Him, without the consideration of any works done by us in order to entitle us to this salvation: though we firmly believe that no faith is the means of justification but that which produces good works.


"4. On salvation by faith.--We believe that as this salvation is held forth to all to whom the Gospel revelation comes, without exception, we ought, in the course of our ministry, to propose or offer this salvation to all those who attend our ministry; and having opened to them their ruined, wretched state by nature and practice, to invite all, without exception, to look to Christ by faith without regard to anything in, or done by, themselves; that they may, in this way alone, that is, by faith, be possessed of this salvation.


"5. On regeneration by the Holy Spirit.--We believe that, as the Scriptures assure us, we are justified, made the children of God, purified and sanctified by faith; that when a person comes to believe in Jesus (and not before), he is regenerated, or renewed in his soul by the Spirit of God, through the instrumentality of the Word, now believed and embraced; which renewal of his soul naturally produces holiness in heart and life; that this holiness is the means of preparing us for the enjoyments and employments of the heavenly world, and of preserving in our souls a comfortable sense of our interest in the Lord, and of our title to glory, as well as to set a good example before men, and to recommend our blessed Redeemer's cause to the world.


"6. On baptism.--We believe that it is the indispensable duty of all who repent and believe the Gospel, to be baptized by immersion in water, in order to be initiated into a church state; and that no person ought to be received into the Church without submission to this ordinance."