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BAPTISTS


279


BAPTISTS


character of Christ's redemption, and " Calvinistic " or "Particular" Baptists, who maintained that Christ's redemption was intended for the elect alone. The origin of the General Baptists is connected with the name of John Smyth (d. 1612), pastor of a church at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, which had separated from the Church of England. About 1606, pastor and flock, to escape persecution, emigrated to Amster- dam, where they formed the second English congre- gation. In 1609, Smyth, owing possibly in some measure to Mennonife influence, rejected infant baptism, although he retained affusion. In this he was supported by his church. Some members of the congregation returned to England (1611 or 1612) under tlie leadership of Helwys (c. 1550-1616) and formed in London the nucleus of the first Baptist community. Persecution had abated, and they do not seem to have been molested. By 1626 there were in different parts of England five General Baptist churches; by 1644, they had increased, it is said, to forty-seven; and by 1660 the membership of the body had reached about 20,000. It was be- tween 1640 and 1660 that the General Baptists began to claim that immersion was the only valid mode of baptism. Thev were persecuted by Charles II (1660-S.5); but the Act of Toleration (1689) brought relief and recognized the Baptists as the tliird dissenting denomination (Presbyterians, Inde- pendents, and Baptists). In the eighteenth centurj', Anti-Trinitarian ideas spread among the General Baptists, and by 1750, many, perhaps the majority of them, had become Unitarians. As a result of the great Wesleyan revival of the second half of the eight- eenth century, new religious activity manifested itself among the General Baptists.

Dan Taylor (1738-1816) organized the orthodox portion of them into the New Connexion of the General Baptists. The latter appellative soon disappeared, as the "Old Connexion", or unorthodox party, gradually merged into the Unitarian denomi- nation. In 1816, the General Baptists established a missionary society. Tlieir doctrinal differences with the Particular Baptists gradually disappeared in the course of the nineteenth century, and the two bodies united in 1891.

The Particular Baptists originated shortly after the General Baptists. Their first congregation was organized in 1633 by former members of a London "Separatist Church", who seceded and were re- baptized. Mr. John Spillsbury became their minis- ter. In 1638 a second secession from the original church occurred, and in 1640 another Particular Baptist Congregation was formed. The opinion now began to be held that immersion alone was real baptism. Richard Blunt was sent to the Nether- lands to be duly immersed. On his return he bap- tized the others, and thus the first Baptist church in the full meaning of the term was constituted in 1641. In 1644 there were seven Particular Baptist churches in London. They drew up a confe.ssion of faith (1644), which was republished in 1646. The Particular Baptists now rapidly increased in numbers and influence. Some of them held prominent posi- tions under Cromwell. With the latter's army Baptists came to Ireland, where the denomination never flourished, and to Scotland, where it took firm root only after 1750 and adopted some peculiar practices. Wales proved a more fruitful soil. A church was founded at or near Swansea in 1049. In the time of the Commonwealth (1649-60), churches multiplied owing to the successful preaching of Vavasour Powell (1617-70); and the number of Baptists, all Calvinistic, is to-day comparatively large in Wales and Monmouthshire. One of the prom- inent men who suffered persecution for the Baptist cause under Charles II was John Bunyan (1628-88), the author of "The Pilgrim's Progress". In the


first part of the eighteenth century the Particular Baptists injured their own cause by their excessive emphasis of the Calvinistic element in their teaching, which made them condemn missionary activity and bordered on fatalism. The Wesleyan revival brought about a reaction against the deadening influence of ultra-Calvinism. Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) and Robert Hall (1764-1831) propounded milder theo- logical views. The Baptist Home Mission Society was formed in 1779. In 1792 the foundation of the Baptist Missionarj- Society at Kettering, Ncrthamp)- tonshire, inaugurated the work of missions to the heathen. In this undertaking William Carey (1761- 1834) was the prime mover. Perhaps the most eminent Baptist preacher of the nineteenth century in England was C. H. Spurgeon (1834-92), whose sermons were published weekly and had a large circulation. In recent years, the Baptists created a "Twentieth Century Fund," to be expended in fur- thering the interests of the denomination.

(2) The Baptists in the Umted States.— The first Baptist Church in the United States did not spring historically from the English Baptist churches, but had an independent origin. It was established by Roger Williams (c. 1600-83). Williams was a minis- ter of the Church of England, who, owing to his separatist ^-iews, fled to America in search of rehgious freedom. He landed at Boston (February, 1631), and shortly after his arrival was called to be minister at Salem. Certain opinions, e. g. his denial of the right of the secular power to punish purely religious offences and his denunciation of the charter of the Massachusetts Colony as worthless, brought him into conflict with the civil authorities. He was sum- moned before the General Court in Boston and, refusing to retract, was banished (October, 1635). He left the colony and purchased from the Narrangan- sett Indians a tract of land. Other colonists soon joined him, and the settlement, which was one of the first in the L'nited States to be established on the principle of complete religious liberty, became the city of Pro\'idence. In 1639 Williams repudiated the value of the baptism he had received in infancy, and was baptized by Ezekiel HoUiman, a former member of the Salem church. Williams then bap- tized HoUiman ^\•ith ten others, thus constituting the first Baptist chm-ch in the New World. A second church was founded shortlv after (c. 1644) at New- port, Rhode Island, of which John Clarke (1609-76) became the pastor. In the Ma.ssachusetts Colony, from 1642 onward, Baptists, because of their religious views, came into conflict with the local authorities. A law was passed against them in 1644. In spite of this, we find at Rehoboth, in 1649, Baptists who began to hold regular meetings. In 1663 John Myles, who had emigrated witli his Baptist church from Swansea, Wales, settled in the same place and most ■miters date the establishment of the first Baptist church in Massachusetts from the time of his arrival. The community removed in 1667 to a new site near the Rhode Island frontier, which they called Swansea. The first Baptist church in Boston was established in 1665, and the organization of the first one in Maine, then part of Massachusetts, was com- pleted in 1682. The members of the latter, on ac- count of tlie persecution to which they were still subjected, removed in 1684 to Charleston, South Carolina, and founded the first Baptist church in the South. The church of Groton (1705) was the first in Connecticut, where there were four in existence at the beginning of the religious revival known as the Great Awakening (1740).

During the period of these foundations in New England, Baptists appeared also in New York State, at least as early as 1656. The exact date of the establishment of the first church there is not ascer- tainable, but it was very probably at the beginning