Baptist Succession in 1674

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by West Kentucky Baptist, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. West Kentucky Baptist

    West Kentucky Baptist
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    Did the Early English Baptists Believe in Baptist Perpetuity?

    “By all which ye see by plentiful Evidence, that Christ hath not been without His Witnesses in every age, not only to defend and assert the true, but to impugn, and to reject (yet, even to death itself) the false Baptism. In so much that we are not left without good testimony of a series of succession, that by God’s providence hath even kept afoot, of this great ordinance of believer’s baptism ever since the first times.” Henry D’Anvers, 1674

    (Henry D’Anvers {?-1686} was an English Baptist preacher and author. The above quote is from pages 321-322 in his work “A Treatise of Baptism” first published in London in 1674. Notice that D’Anvers believed that from the days of the New Testament until the present, Christ hath had a “succession” of His people who rejected false infant baptism by sprinkling and held to believer’s baptism by immersion. Like other Baptists of the 1600’s, 1700’s, and 1800’s, D’Anvers held to the Trail of Blood view of Baptist history and origins.)

    For more good quotes from our Baptist Heritage check out my website at: https://westkentuckybaptist.wordpress.com/
     
  2. rsr

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    Well, that's presents a pretty broad picture.

    From the quote, D'Anvers is defending only believer's baptism, not Baptist perpetuity, that is, the bundle of beliefs that we would recognize as being "Baptist."

    Whether D'Anvers "held to the Trail of Blood" view of Baptist origins is open to question, since he could not have had any idea of how that theory would be developed by Carroll.

    And successionism is itself open to many interpretations, from chainlink successionism (the Baptist version of apostolic succession) to spiritual kinship. The first is impossible to prove, while the second is easier to posit, though with great difficulties if you try to pinpoint the exact relationships.

    Second, I think it is safe to say that there is not one view that predominated among "early English Baptists." Certainly Helwys rejected overt successionsim, as did Kiffin. Successionism, it seems to me, was a later development among the English Baptists, probably to defend their claims of restoration of primitive doctrine against the even more radicals like the Quakers.
     
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  3. West Kentucky Baptist

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    Read the quote again and notice carefully what D'Anvers is saying:

    1. That Christ has had His witnesses in "every age."

    2. These witnesses have asserted the "true" baptism and rejected the "false baptism." (He's not talking about the reformers who were pedobaptists.)

    3. These witnesses were often put "to death" for rejecting false baptism.

    4. These witnesses form a "series of succession" of people holding to "believer's baptism" every "since the first times."

    That is Baptist perpetuity. That is exactly what John T. Christian, J.M. Carroll, W.A. Jarrell, S.H. Ford, D.B. Ray, J.M. Cramp, William Williams, etc., etc., etc., believed.

    What's amazing about this quote is it is from a first general English Particular Baptist. Why did he not assert that Baptists came out from the pedobaptist English Separatists??? And why is he ignored by many Baptist historians today. I wonder....

    William Kiffin did not reject successionism.

    As to Helwys, none of the older Baptist historians looked to him or Smyth for their origins. He is a General Baptist whose fellowship of churches had little impact on later Baptist life. So his views on succession are irrelevant. The other English Baptists rejected him and his baptism.

    As to your views on successionism, there are essentially two views, each with two sub-points. But that is a discussion for another thread.
     
  4. rsr

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    No, I read it carefully. You are asserting that some sort of successionism in credobaptism equals "Baptist perpetuity." Never mind the other doctrinal points that make up what we would recognize as Baptist distinctives.

    It is obvious that D'Anvers believed in successionism. That does not mean he was correct or that his cribbing of the Martyrs Mirror was justified.

    So, yes, some early English Baptists did believe it. Others did not.

    And on this point it seems that Helwys' testimony is as good as any other's, though he was a General and not a Particular. He was a martyr for the faith and author of the first great Baptist treatise on religious liberty. And he was earlier than D'Anvers. Not to mention that the main stream of Baptists rejected successionism in immersion and argued that they had the God-given right themselves to restore ordinances that had been corrupted.
     
  5. West Kentucky Baptist

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    What I was asserting was D'Anvers believed in Baptist perpetuity. You seem to agree with that when you state: "It is obvious that D'Anvers believed in successionism." D'Anvers' quote is from his work on baptism so he puts his focus on baptism. However later Baptist historians such as Christian or Armitage also focus on baptism as it is the key baptist distinctive. It's not that these men believed that other doctrines and distinctives are not important. They just recognized that baptism is main thing that makes a Christian a Baptist.

    I don't know any English Baptists besides a few General Baptists such as Helwys who rejected perpetuity. Even Spilsbury, whose views on this are complex. If the Baptists formed out of the pedobaptist English Separatists, then why didn't someone come forward to correct D'Anvers? In 1674, there were plenty of Baptists around who had been alive in the 1640s. D'Anvers is a game changer, (just one of many) but he is ignored by historians today who think they know better than a primary source.

    Helwys' testimony is not as important as D'Anvers for they are talking about two different things. The General Baptists and Particular Baptists had two separate origins. And Helwys had little to no influence on latter Baptists. The Baptists in America were not influenced by the General Baptists, but by the Particular Baptists.
     
  6. rsr

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    While the early English Baptists certainly knew their contemporary history, it seems unlikely they knew much of what happened before, so they accepted sources that they knew about (like D'Anvers).

    Is it not interesting that most (if not all) of the early Baptist leaders that we know of came from Separatist congregations that only gradually rejected paedobaptism?
     
  7. West Kentucky Baptist

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    There were a number of English Baptists such as William Kiffin and Hansard Knolleys who were "first generation" Particular Baptists, yet their ministries stretched into the later half of the 17th century. They were closely associated with other "first generation" Baptists such as John Spilsbury as well as later Baptists such as D'Anvers. I think they would have known if someone "reinvented" immersion in 1641. If D'Anvers was wrong, why didn't Kiffin or Knolleys correct him?

    To look at it another way, when John Smyth baptized himself, word spread throughout Europe. When Roger Williams baptized Ezekiel Holliman, who in turn baptized Williams, word spread throughout America. Both were highly irregular. Yet we are told the English Baptists started immersing in 1641, but no one knows any details about exactly when and where. Hmmmmmmm. I don't buy it. There is too much evidence on the other side.

    While several of the Early English Baptists had indeed been pedobaptists, this is not true of all of them.
    There are many of them whose early days are lost to history.
     
  8. Squire Robertsson

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    Which is why I try not to be too doctrinaire on the topic. It's a documentary black hole. Our Continental cousins have better (though not the world's greatest) documentation.
     
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  9. rsr

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    I would be interested in knowing of an early Baptist (of whom we have a record) who was not a paedobaptist at some point.

    I think the reintroduction of immersion is fairly well established by the documentary evidence. Do you think the Kiffin Manuscript is either bogus or inconclusive?
     
  10. West Kentucky Baptist

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    If you make a list of the top fifty influential Baptist leaders from 1640-1660, many of them we don't know who baptized them and influenced them for the truth. Where were they at in the 1620's and 1630's? We for sure don't know that they were all pedobaptist Separatists. In some ways Squire Robertson is right about this period. It was a time of great persecution by Archbishop Laud and is a documentary black hole. Having said that I continue to find interesting historical tidbits of information along the way that no one is addressing today. (Such as D'Anvers and I've got a lot more)

    Whitsitt's entire theory of Baptist origins was based almost entirely on the Kiffin Manuscript. At times the KM has been in the hands of pedobaptists and at other times it has been in the hands of some of the most notoriously liberal Baptists of their day - i.e. George Gould. Like John T. Christian, I do not trust it. He wrote about it in "Baptist History Vindicated" and "Did They Dip." I need to go back and read the first volume again. I'm going from memory here.
     
  11. rsr

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    I think Christian either misunderstood or misrepresented Crosby on the authenticity of the Kiffin Manuscript. I trust A.H. Newman more than Christian on that subject. Surely if Newman had found proof of perpetuity (especially with the Anabaptists) he would have been glad to produce the evidence.
     
  12. West Kentucky Baptist

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    I have most, if not all of Newman's works. I'm not as big on him as a historian as some are.

    I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.
     
  13. rsr

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    It seems that way. Thanks for the discussion.
     
  14. The Biblicist

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    I trust Kiffin on the actual issue being debated about in his manuscript than I do A.H. Newman. The issue being debated is whether or not the church Kiffin was a member originated from paedobaptists who originated immersion among themselves. Here is what Kiffin says about the origin of that church:

    It is well known to many and especially to ourselves, that our congregations as they are now, were erected and framed according to the rule of Christ before we heard of any reformation even at the time when the episcopacy was at the height of its vanishing glory. – William Kiffin: A Brief Remonstrance of the Reasons of those People Called Anabaptists for their Separation. [London: 1645] p. 6


    Albert H. Newman supposed that Kiffin had referred to the Presbyterian reformation begun in 1640. However, Dr. John T. Christian researched this quotation and found that it had been written to Mr. Joseph Richart who understood Kiffin to refer to the Episcopal Reformation in the time of Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547). Christian's conclusion is further supported by primary source material coming from Hensard Knollys.

    Hensard Knollys asserted that these churches had been gathered by properly ordained ministers who had been driven into the city due to persecution:

    I say that I know by mine own experience (having walked with them) that they were thus gathered; Viz., Some godly and learned men of approved gifts and abilities for the ministry, being driven out of the countries where they lived by the persecution of the Prelates [Episcopalians – R.E.P.] came to soujourn in this great city, and preached from house to house….– Hensard Knollys, A Moderate Answer Unto Dr. Bastwicks’s Book Called Independency not God’s Ordinance, London, 1645.

    Both quotes deny these churches were organized and framed by paedobaptists or paedobaptist ministers or that they self-orignated immersion in 1641. So these primary sources supports Christian's conclusions on the Kiffin manuscript more than A. H. Newmans. This Kiffin manuscript is over 150 years after the fact.

    The more probable theory is that such ordained ministers coming in from the country sides preached to pedobaptists separatists or even came among their secret assemblies and challenged their paedbaptism and formed the converts into the first Baptist churches.
     
    #14 The Biblicist, May 29, 2016
    Last edited: May 29, 2016
  15. The Biblicist

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    I think the documentary evidence if read in the light of the historical context supports the continuation of immersion long before 1641. For example, both Daniel King's and John Spilisbury's writings argue for the perpetuity of immersion since the apostles time to their present time.No unbiased reader could possibly miss this point. Their logical deductions were based upon the promises of perpetuity of the church in scriptures.

    The detractors argue that their "John the Baptist" illustration was proof that they did in fact reintroduce immersion anew. This argument was given to the Pedobaptists who denied they had any historical evidence to support their Biblical based interpretation of church succession. Moreover, I believe that deduction is a complete and utter failure to carefully read and follow their arguments. If in fact they believed it had ceased and they had reintroduced it, they would not have simply provided an "if" scenario based on John the Baptist but would have owned it as their Biblical basis for having actually done so. Nowhere, do they own it, and Crosby completely denies that immersion among them was self-originated or came from paedobaptists, as does knolley's and Kiffin. However, Daniel King explicitly points to this "john the Baptist" argument and explicitly says it was merely a theoretical argument. They did not have any written history of the Baptists at this point. Significantly, when John Spittlehouse and John Moore produced their work "A Vindication of the CONTINUED SUCCESSION OF THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST (NOW SCANDALOUSLY TERMED ANABAPTISTS) FROM THE APOSTLES UNTO THIS PRESENT TIME" in 1652 the "John the Baptist" argument was completely dropped and never used again among these Baptists, because now they had some historical evidence for perpetuity in addition to their Bible based evidence. These later works were a "VINDICATION" of their early Bible based arguments.
     
  16. rsr

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    Yet Kiffin is responding directly to Robert Poole's question:



    That Kiffin is referring to the Presbyterian reformation "now in hand" is borne out later in the pamphlet:

     
  17. The Biblicist

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    I don't think John T. Christian questioned that it was Poole that kiffin was addressing, as he obviously read the treatise, but Christian was tracing the wording of the phrase being used by Kiffin to answer Pooles objection to another source - Mr. Joseph Richart. Thus Kiffin was hitting two birds with one stone.

    A. H. Newman places the date "1640" as the start of the Presbyterian Reformation in England. This letter is written in 1645. Kiffin says,

    "As to the second part of your querie, That we disturb the great Work of Reformation now in hand; [1645] I know not what you mean by this charge, unless it be to discover your prejudice against us, in Reforming our selves before you,[1640]"

    Hence, his repetitive assertion of having been "separated" from their churches cannot refer to the Presbyterian Reformation of 1640 but from the Episcopalian church prior to 1640 "before" the Presbyterians themselves separated from the Church of England. "even at the time when the episcopacy was at the height of its....glory" that was only now "vanishing" (1645). The "height" of the glory of the Church of England cannot be dated anywhere during the 17th century but must be dated in about the middle of the 16th century.

    Futhermore, there is no issue about the mode of baptism but only the subjects of baptism (infants). Again, this supports Christian's argument that immersion was far older than the Presbyterian reformation during the 1500's when there are several records of Anabaptists refusing the baptism of children without any hint of the mode being the problem. Yet, immersion was the well known mode of baptists at the time of this written debate. Hence, this is another proof that Whitsitts 1641 date is completely errorneous concerning immersion in England by Baptist.

    Since Kiffin outrightly claimed the constitution of their churches in London occurred "before" the separation of the Presbyterians from the church of England, while the Church of England was at the "height of its....glory" than Knolly's statement is fully supported when he claimed they had been framed and constittuted not by paedobaptists ministers or paedobaptist members in London, but by ministers already approved by churches existing outside of London long "before" 1640 even at the "height" of the Church of England's "glory" during the middle 1500's.

    Moreover, Knolly's comment that these ministers outside of London had previously been approved before entering London indicates clearly of older Baptist churches outside of London before these seven churches were constituted. This supports the archaelogical evidences drawn from the church graveyards of the Hillcliffe and "church of the Hop Garden" which date their churches back to the late 1400's.

    Furthermore, all of these Baptists (including Kiffin in this response) argued for the perpetuity of Baptists based upon the New Testament Scriptures perpetuated to their present day. If the origin of Baptists was no different than the origin of the Presbyterians - the Church of England as paedobaptists who merely restored immersion among themselves and self-originated the first Baptist church in London, then Knolly's response to the constitution of these churches would be an outright lie. Whitsit was obviously in error or Kiffin was lying as Kiffin said that they were constituted not merely "before" the Presbyterian Reformation (1640) but during the time that the church of England "was at the height of its vanishing glory."

    Lofton dates the Presbyterian Reformation to the years 1643-1649 but that does not help his argument in the least, because Kiffin says Baptist church were formed "before" that, when the church of England was at the "height of its.....glory" and the "height" of the church of England was certainly a very long time before 1643.

    Also, the fact that Kiffin was arguing about being "separated" from Presbyterians "BEFORE" they had separated from the church of England proves he was addressing the Presbyterians at the time when they were essentially one with the Church of England when the church of England was in the "height of its....glory."

    John T. Christian correctly interpreted Kiffin. When Kiffin and Knolly's statements are taken together the picture is clear. Ministers from other Baptist churches had arrived in London "before" the 1640 [or 1643) Presyberian reformation when the Church of England "was at its height of vanishing glory" [1550] and constituted them out of former paedobaptist materials. The "height of its.. glory" that was now vanishing (1645) would be in the days of Henry VIII. There are numerous accounts of laws enacted against Anabaptists during the period of Henry VIII, in keeping with John T. Christian's interpretation of the language being used by Kiffen being traced to Joseph Richart who understood Kiffin to mean exactly that.

    Anyway you look at this, Whitsitt, Lofton and Newman are proven wrong and Christian is vindicated.
     
    #17 The Biblicist, May 30, 2016
    Last edited: May 30, 2016
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  18. rsr

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    Doesn't Christian make too great a leap, based upon that text, to assume that Kiffin was referring to the "reforms" of Henry VIII, especially since, from a Baptist point of view, they were hardly reforms at all?

    You repeatedly assert that Kiffin must have been referring to the 16th century, but it is more likely he was referring to the 17th century rule of Archbishop Laud, who persecuted Puritans more severely than they had been in decades. Puritanism ("a wolf held by the ears") was more dangerous than Catholicism. Laud spruced up the neglected churches and added "popish" enchancements, introduced new liturgies and practices (thought by his opponents to be too "popish") and attempted to enforce episcopacy and use of the Book of Common Prayer in the Church of Scotland, something that even James had not dared to attempt.

    Laud and Charles I even went to war in Scotland to force the religious issue. It was one of the sparks that led to the Civil Wars — and the practical abandonment of the episcopacy until the Restoration.
     
  19. The Biblicist

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    I am just sticking to the language used by Kiffin. He says this in 1645. He says the Baptists were "before" the Presbyterian Reformation, and if Newman's date for that reformation is 1640 than Baptists preceded 1640.

    He additionally says that the time that Baptists preceded the Presbyterian Reformation was "at the time" when the "espiscopacy was in the height of its....glory." There many records throughout the 16th century of laws enacted against Anabaptists and Kiffin and these churches were being called "Anabaptists" by the Presbyterians.

    The phrases "before you" and "at the time when the episcopacy" cannot refer to the same time or same Presbyterian reformation.

    My own research of the records provide plentiful primary source materials of Anabaptists between 1550-1640 in England. In 1641 for the very first time in England Baptists were allowed to publish their views.

    Objective analysis simply does not support Whitsitt's view. I believe there is an ecclesiology bias at work. ALL who embrace whitsittism are advocates of the universal invisible church theory - ALL. However, that theory cannot be found within Reformation Anabaptist Confessions or in any Baptist Confession not only up to 1641 but at least up to 1689. I would argue that it is not found in the 1689 Confession but is being repudiated if that confession is interpreted in light of the Westminster Confession. Section one only allows for the glory church of all the elect in all ages but sections 2-15 carefully repudiates the Reformed doctrine of a universal invisible church.
     
  20. rsr

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    Well, we're going round and round. Kiffin said the Baptists originated before the "Reformation," which I interpret as the Presbyterian Reformation, based upon the context of the document. The Anglican Church was at the height of its glory not in under Henry (who was, in effect, its pope and throttled the bishops) but under Laud, whose high church sympathies were not curtailed until Parliament removed him and a dozen other bishops in 1640, thus initiating the Presbyterian Rerformation.

    That the Baptists' reformation antedates the Presbyterians' is not in dispute.

    The Generals had churches dating back to the teens and twenties. Spilsbury's church dates back to 1633; Kiffin joined in 1635. All were previous to the Presbyterian ascendancy and thus the Presybyterian Reformation.
     
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