Thread: John Smyth
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Old 07-28-2003, 01:21 AM
Mark Osgatharp Mark Osgatharp is offline
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Wynne, Arkansas
Posts: 1,719

I have the book written by Henry Dexter, a Congregationalist of the 1800s, which is supposed to prove that the manner of baptizing practiced by Smyth, as well as all Anabaptists up until 1641 was pouring. The title of the book is "The True Story of John Smyth, the Se-Baptist."

The title page of the book has a drawing which portrays John Smyth in nothing but a pair of drawers standing knee deep in water and bent over forwards with his hands on his head and water dripping from his head. On page 31 of the book the same drawing appears and Mr. Dexter claims it to be a "tracing" from "an ancient engraving."

Mr. Dexter asserts that the drawing represents Smyth pouring water on his head in his self baptism. Actually, it portrays a man dipping himself in water.

This "ancient engraving" originally appeared on the title page of Daniel Featley's book "The Dippers Dipt" which was published in 1645. The page has an elaborate picture of a demon hovering over sketches of "the severall sorts of ANABPATISTS with there manner of Rebaptizing."

In the middle of several smaller pictures is a larger picture of two naked men engaged in baptizing; one baptizing a group of three naked men and the other a group of three partially naked women. Each of these men has the words "The Dipper" written above him.

The people in this picture are standing in water striking about mid-thigh. One of the men is bent over forwards with the hands of "The Dipper" imposed on his head preparing to plunge him.

One of the smaller pictures is that which Henry Dexter purports to have reproduced in his book about John Smyth. It is labeled "Hemerobaptist" which apparently means a self-baptizer.

But Dexter's version of the "Hemerobaptist" is hardly a "tracing" for the original lacks one essential element of Dexter's reprodution - the drawers! Dexter portrays the man in drawers. Featley portrays him stark naked.

The point of all this is that the picture of Featley's "Hemerobaptist" which Dexter claims is a portrayal of John Smyth dousing himself with water is, in fact, a picture of a man dipping himself in water. The posture of the Hemerobaptist" is the same as the man being plunged by "The Dipper."

Both are standing in water. Bother are bent over forwards. Both have hands imposed on their heads. The only difference between the man being dipped by "The Dipper" and the "Hemerobaptist" is that the latter has water dripping from his head indicating that he was rising from the water.

Assuming that the "Hemerobaptist" portrayed by Featley was intended to represent John Smyth, there can be no doubt that he knew nothing of John Smyth having baptized himself by pouring but, rather, believed him to have been dipped in the same manner as "The Dippers" who, in 1644, had been dipping near his residence for over twenty years (see John T. Christian's History of the Baptists, vol. 1, page 299-300).

Mark Osgatharp
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