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till the three kingdoms were united in one faith and worship. At the same time they directed letters to the parliament, beseeching them also in the bowels of Jesus Christ to give to him the glory due to his name, by an immediate establishment of all his ordinances in their full integrity and power, according to the covenant. Nor did they forget to encourage the assembly at Westminster to proceed in their zeal against sectaries, and to stand boldly for the sceptre of Jesus Christ against the encroachments of earthly powers.
The arguments which this grave assembly used, to withhold from others the blessing of Christian liberty, came with a bad grace from men who had as earnestly pleaded for the privilege, while they were smarting under the lash of the prelates.
- Tó comply with this request (of granting toleration], would open a gap for all sects to challenge such a liberty as their due: this liberty is denied by the churches in New-England, and we have as great right to deny it as they. This desired forbearance will make a perpetual division in the church, and be a perpetual drawing away from the churches under the rule. Upon the same pretence, those who scruple infant baptism may withdraw from their churches, and so separate into another congregation; and so in that some practice may be scrupled, and they separate again. Are these divisions and subdivisions as lawful as they are infinite ? Or must we give that respect to the errors of men's consciences so as to satisfy their scruples by allowance of this liberty to them? Scruple of conscience is no cause of separation, nor doth it take off causeless separation from being schism, which
arise from errors of conscience as well as carnal and corrupt reason : therefore we conceive the causes of separation must be shewn to be sucli, ex natura rei, as will bear it out; and therefore we say that granting the liberty desired will give a countenance to schism.”
Many instances of this spirit might be adduced; but we shall only notice the following. A work was published by the assembly in 1650, entitled, “ A Vindication of the Presbyterial government and ministry; with an exliortation to all ministers, elders, and people, within the province of London, &c. Published by the ministers and elders met together in a provincial assembly. George Walker, moderator; Arthur Jackson and Edmund Calamy, assessors; Roger Drake and Elidad Blackwell, scribes.
This work contains the following expressions :-“ Whatsoever doctrine is contrary to godliness, and opens a door to libertinism and profaneness, you must reject it as soul poison : such is the doctrine of a universal toleration in religion.” The ministers in the different parts of the country seem to have been of the same mind. Those in Lancashire published a paper in 1648, called “ The harmonious consent of the Lancashire ministers with their brethren in London;" in which they say, “A toleration would be putting a sword into a madman's hand; a cup of poison into the hand of a child; a letting loose of madmen with firebrands in their hands, and appointing a city of refuge in men's consciences for the devil to fly to; a laying a stumbling-block before the blind; a proclaiming liberty to the wolves to come into Christ's fold to prey upon the lambs : neither would it be to provide for tender consciences, but to take away all conscience*.'
We turn away with disgust from these intolerant sentiments, and rejoice that the attempt has been made, and that none of the predicted effects have ensued.
It was very common at this time for the enemies of the Baptists to represent the practice of immersion as indecent and dangerous, and to argue that it could not be according to divine authority, because a breach of the sixth commandment, “ Thou shalt not kill:” and the divine declaration, “ I will have mercy, and not sacrifice." Who would have thought that Mr. Richard Baxter could have expressed himself in language like the following ? “ My sixth argument shall be against the usual manner of their baptizing, as it is by dipping over head in a river, or other cold water. That which is a plain breach of the sixth commandment, • Thou shalt not kill,' is no ordinance of God, but a most heinous sin. But the ordinary practice of baptizing over lead and in cold water, as necessary, is a plain breach of the sixth commandment, therefore it is no ordinance of God, but a heinous sin. And as Mr. Cradock shews in his book of gospel liberty, the magistrate ought to restrain it, to save the lives of his subjectsThat this is flat murder, and no better, being ordinarily and generally used, is undeniable to any understanding man—And I know not what trick a covetous landlord can find out to get his tenants to die apace, that he may have new fines and heriots, likelier than to encourage such preachers, that he may get them all to turn Anabaptists. I wish that this device be not it which countenanceth these men: and covetous physicians, methinks should not be much against them. Catarrhs and obstructions, which are the too great fountains of most mortal diseases in man's body, could scarce have a more notable means to produce them where they are not, or to increase them where they are. Apoplexies, lethargies, palsies, and all other comatous diseases, would be promoted by it. So would cephalalgies, hemicranies, phthises, debility of the stomach, crudities, and almost all fevers, dysenteries, diarrhoras, colics, iliac passions, convulsions, spasms, tremors, and so on.
All hepatic, splenetic, and pulmonic persons, and hypochondriacs, would soon have enough of it. In a word, it is good for nothing but to dispatch men out of the world that are burthensome, and to ranken churchyards--1 conclude, if murder be a sin, then dipping ordinarily over head in England is a sin; and if those who would make it men’s religion to murder themselves, and urge it upon their consciences as their duty, are not to be suffered in a commonwealth, any more than high-way murderers; then judge how these Anabaptists, that teach the necessity of such dipping, are to be suffered. - My seventh argument is also against another wiekedness in their manner of baptizing, which is their dipping persons naked, which is very usual with many of them, or next to naked, as is usual with the modestest that I have heard of — If the minister must go into the water with the party-it will certainly tend to his death, though they may escape
* Crosby, vol. 1. p. 190.
go in but once. Would not vain young men come to a baptizing to see the nakedness of maids, and make a mere jest and sport of it*.”
It is with pleasure we give a place to the reflections of the late venerable Abraham Booth on these remarks, which certainly merited severe animadversion, especially as they were published at a time when, as the sequel will show, they were caleulated to produce some serious consequences towards those who were in the practice of baptizing by immersion.
“ Were this representation just (says Mr. Booth), we should have no reason to wonder if his following words expressed a fact• I am still more confirmed that a visible judgment of God doth still follow anabaptizing wherever it comes. It was not without reason, I presume, that Mr. Baxter made the following acknow. ledgment: I confess my style is naturally keen. I am a little suspicious also that Dr. Owen had some cause to speak of his writings as follows :-- I verily believe that if a man who had nothing else to do, should gather into a heap all the expressions which in his late books, confessions, and apologies, have a lovely aspect towards himself, as to ability, diligence, sincerity, on the one hand; with all those which are full of reproach and contempt towards others, on the other; the view of them could not but a little startle a man of so great modesty, and of such eminency in the mortification of pride, as Mr. Baxter is. Hence we learn that the Baptists are not the only persons who have felt the weight of Mr. Baxter's hand; so that if a recollection of others having suffered under his keen resentment can afford relief, the poor Baptists may take some comfort, and it is an old saying,
Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris. “ Before I dismiss this extraordinary language of Mr. Baxter (adds Mr. Booth), it is proper to be observed, that the charge of shocking indecency, which he lays with so much confidence against the Baptists of those times, was not suffered by them to pass without animadversion. No, he was challenged to make it good : it was denied, it was confuted by them. With a view to which Dr. Wall says, “The English Antipædobaptists need not have made so great an outcry against Mr. Baxter for his saying that they baptized naked; for if they had, it had been no more than the primitive Christians did.'But surely they had reason to complain of misrepresentation ; such misrepresentation as tended to bring the greatest odium upon their sentiments and practice. Besides, however ancient the practice charged upon them was, its antiquity could not have justified their conduct, except it had been derived from divine command, or apostolic example; neither of which appears."
* Baxter's Plain Scripture Proof, p. 134—137.
It is a little extraordinary that in the next year, 1647, considerable favour was manifested towards the Baptists. Perhaps it arose from the policy of Cromwell, wishing to check the overgrown power of the Presbyterians, or from some of his officers and other persons of considerable influence embracing their sentiments, and using their interest in their behalf.
In a declaration of the lords and commons, published March 4, 1647, it is said, “ The name of Anabaptism hath indeed contracted much odium by reason of the extravagant opinions of some of that name in Germany, tending to the disturbance of the government, and the peace of all states, which opinions and practices we abhor and detest. But their opinion against the baptism of infants, it is only a difference about a circumstance of time in the administration of an ordinance, wherein in former ages, as well as in this, learned men have differed both in opinion and practice.—And though we could wish that all men would satisfy themselves, and join with us in our judgment and practice in this point; yet herein we hold it fit that men should be convinced by the word of God, with great gentleness and reason, and not beaten out of it by force and violencet."
This declaration discovered much of a truly Christian spirit; and happy would it have been if all governments had always acted on such principles. But it is lamentable to observe, that the very next year, a more severe law was passed than any
that had been made in England since the Reformation. It bore date May 2, 1648, and was entitled, “ An Ordinance of the Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, for the punishment of blasphemies and heresies.” One article
66 Whosoever shall say that the baptism of infants is unlawful, or that such baptism is void, and that such persons ought to be baptized again, and in pursuance thereof shall baptize any person formerly baptized; or shall say the church-government by presbytery is antichristian or unlawful, shall upon conviction by the oath of two witnesses, or by his own confession, be ordered to renounce his said error in the public congregation of the parish where the offence was committed, and in case of refusal, he shall be committed to prison till he find sureties that he shall not publish or maintain the said error any more f."
It is likely that the death of the king in this year,and the confusion which resulted from it, might prevent this cruel and shameful ordinance from being carried into effect, as we do not hear that any were prosecuted upon it.
The government was now altered, and instead of being in the • Pædobap. Exam. vol. 1. p. 263—265. + Crosby, vol. 1. 196.
Crosby, vol. 1. p. 203.
parliament, was vested in a single person. This was the general, Oliver Cromwell, whose title was to be His Highness, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of the dominions thereunto belonging.
The Baptists in the army seem to have been apprehensive that he entertained designs against them, as appears from the following letter, which we insert, not because we approve of its spirit, but because it may cast some light upon the history of the times. It was probably written by some of his officers, who were envious at his exaltation, and offended that he had deserted his republican sentiments. It is entitled, “ A short discovery of his Highness the Lord Protector's intentions touching the Anabaptists in the army, and all such as are against his reforming things in the church; which was first communicated by a Scotch lord who is called Twidle; but is now come to the ear of the Anabaptists: upon which there are propounded thirty-five queries for his highness to answer to his conscience. By a well-wisher to the Anabaptists' prosperity, and all the rest of the separatists in England *.”
* “ To His Highness the Lord Protector. “ My Lord, “ There is some intelligence abroad, which I desire to communicate in a private way, lest I become a prey to the malice or envy of the roaring lion. But to the matter intended, and that is this :-It seems your highness being discoursing with a Scotch lord, who is called the lord Twidle, you were pleased to say that there was something amiss in the church and state, which you would reform as soon as may be. Of those that were amiss in the state, some were done and the rest were doing ; and as for those things that were amiss in the church, you hoped to rectify them by degrees, as convenient opportunity presented itself; but before you could do this work, the Anabaptists must be taken out of the army; and this you could not do with sharp corrosive medicines, but it must be done by degrees. From which there are two things observable, 1. The work. 2. The way you intend to do this work.
“ First, to the work; and that is church-work. It seems you intend to follow the steps of them that are gone before, which could not be content to meddle with state affairs, and to make laws and statutes, and impose them upon the people as rules of divine worship. And this is the work you intend to be at, under pretence of correcting error, and so to destroy truth.
“ But who could have thought, when you made your last speech to Parliament, when your tongue was so sweetly tipt for the liberty of conscience, reproving the parliament for having a finger on their brother's conscience ; who could have imagined that then heard you, that you would have been so soon at the same trade, unless he had supposed a fountain could have sent forth sweet water and bitter
“ Secondly, the way you intend to take to bring about this design, is two-fold. 1. To purge the army of the Anabaptists. 2. To do it by degrees. But, Oliver, is this thy design? And is this the way to be rid of the Anabaptists? And is this the reason, because they hinder the things amiss in the church ? I confess they have been enemies to the Presbyterian church-government; and so were you at Dunbar in Scotland; or at least you seemed to be so by your words and actions ; for you spake as pure Independency as any of us all then ; and made this an argument why we should tight stoutly : because we had the prayers of the Independents and baptized churches. So highly did you seem to love the Anabaptists then, that you did not only invite them into the army, but entertain them in your family; but it seems the case is altered. But, I pray, do not deceive yourself, nor let the priests deceive you ; for the Anabaptists are men that will not be shuffled out of their birth-rights, as free-born people of England. And have they not filled your towns, your cities, your provinces, your islands, your castles, your navies, your tents, your armies (except that which went to the West Indies, which prospers so well), your