The Pastor\’s Pen

An Independent Baptist Preacher\’s Musings and Observations

Posts Tagged ‘History’

A Baptist Preacher’s Influence on the First Amendment

Posted by Pastor Szekely on August 18, 2008

On the “Constitution Route” [Hwy 20 in Virginia] about seven miles east of Orange, VA, there is this interesting monument. On it is the embossed head of John Leland, the influential Baptist preacher and champion of our country’s religious liberty. It is believed that the monument marks the location where James Madison and John Leland met to discuss Madison’s candidacy for Virginia delegate to the Convention to ratify the Federal Constitution.


At that meeting, Leland pressed Madison concerning his stand on religious freedom and individual rights. Madison promised Leland if he was elected, he would do all in his power to see that religious freedom and individual freedom would be incorporated into the Constitution by amendment. Elder John Leland and the Baptists of Orange threw their support behind James Madison who was elected. As expected, he voted in favor of ratification of the Constitution. Then, true to his word, he drafted and introduced twelve amendments to the Constitution.


Article III of Madison’s proposed Bill of Rights reads, “Congress shall make no laws establishing articles of Faith, or mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition to the government for redress of grievances.”


The members of the Convention condensed Madison’s proposed third article. In fact, they changed it to the First Amendment which reads; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

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Old Landmarkism

Posted by Pastor Szekely on August 12, 2008

[The following was taken from The Baptist Encyclopedia, William Cathcart, Editor, 1881]

The following sketch was written at the editor’s [Cathcart] request by one of the ablest Baptist ministers in this country. His account of the opinions of all landmarkers is entirely reliable:


The origin of the term old-landmarkism was as follows: About the year 1850, Rev. J. R. Graves, editor of The Tennessee Baptist, published at Nashville, TN, began to advocate the position that Baptists cannot consistently recognize Pedobaptist preachers as gospel ministers. For several years he found but few to sympathize with this view.


Among the few was Rev. J. M. Pendleton, then of Bowling Green, KY, who in 1854 was requested by Mr. Graves to write an essay on this question, “Ought Baptists to recognize Pedobaptist preachers as gospel ministers?”


The essay was published in four consecutive numbers of the aforesaid paper, and afterwards in the form of a tract. The title given to it by Mr. Graves was “An Old Landmark Reset“. The title was considered appropriate because there had been a time when ministerial recognition and exchange of pulpits between Baptists and Pedobaptists were unknown. This was an old landmark, but in the course of years it had fallen. When it was raised again it was called “an old landmark reset“. Hence the term “old-landmarkism,” and of late years, by way of abridgment, “landmarkism“.


That the doctrine of landmarkism is not a novelty, as some suppose, is evident, because William Kiffin, of London, one of the noblest of English Baptists, advocated it in 1640, and with those who agreed with him formed a church, of which he was pastor till his death, in 1701 [a very long pastorate]. These facts are taken from [J.M.] Cramp’s “Baptist History,” and he refers to [Joseph] Ivimey’s “Life of Kiffin“:


[David] Benedict, in his “Fifty Years among the Baptists,” in referring to the early part of this century, says, “At that time the exchange of pulpits between the advocates and the opponents of infant baptism was a thing of very rare occurrence, except in a few of the more distinguished churches in the Northern States. Indeed, the doctrine of non-intercourse, so far as ministerial services were concerned, almost universally prevailed between Baptists and Pedobaptists.” pp. 94-95.


Truly the old landmark once stood, and having fallen, it was deemed proper to reset it.


The doctrine of landmarkism is that baptism and church membership precede the preaching of the gospel, even as they precede communion at the Lord’s table. The argument is that Scriptural authority to preach emanates, under God, from a gospel church; that as “a visible church is a congregation of baptized believers,” etc., it follows that no Pedobaptist organization is a church in the Scriptural sense of the term, and that therefore Scriptural authority to preach cannot proceed from such an organization. Hence the non-recognition of Pedobaptist ministers, who are not interfered with, but simply let alone.


At the time the “Old Landmark Reset” was written, the topic of non-ministerial intercourse was the chief subject of discussion. Inseparable, however, from the landmark view of this matter, is a denial that Pedobaptist societies are Scriptural churches, that Pedobaptist ordinations are valid, and that immersions administered by Pedobaptist ministers can be consistently accepted by any Baptist church. All these things are denied, and the intelligent reader will see why.

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Obadiah Holmes – Unmercifully Whipped

Posted by Pastor Szekely on May 14, 2008

Pastor Obadiah Holmes sufferingPastor Obadiah Holmes was the second pastor of the Newport Church in Rhode Island, the first Baptist Church in America.  In the following [copied from History of the Baptists, Armitage, BSB Publishers, 1887. pg 687-688] he and two of the brethren suffer much for the cause of Christ, but it was the blood of Brother Holmes that was the first to be shed in America for the sake of our Saviour.

On Monday they were removed to Boston an cast into prison, the charges against them being for ‘disturbing the congregation in the afternoon, for drawing aside others after their erroneous judgments and practices, and for suspicion of rebaptizing one or more amongst us’.

Clarke [this is John Clarke, first pastor of the Newport Church] was fined 20 pounds sterling, Holmes 30, and [James] Crandall 5 pounds sterling; and on refusal to pay they were ‘to be well whipped’, although [Governor] Winslow had told the English Government that they had no law ‘to whip in that kind’.

Edwards [historian] says that while ‘Mr. Clarke stood stripped at the whipping post, some humane person was so affected with the sight of a scholar, a gentleman, and reverend divine, in such a situation, that he, with a sum of money, redeemed him from his bloody tormentors’. Before this he had asked the Court, ‘What law of God or man had he broken, that his back must be given to the tormentors for it, or he be despoiled of his goods to the amount of 20 pounds sterling?’ To the which Endicott replied, ‘You have denied infant baptism and deserve death, going up and down, and secretly insinuating into them that be weak, but cannot maintain it before our ministers’.

Clarke tells us that ‘indulgent and tenderhearted friends, without my consent and contrary to my judgment, paid the fine’. Thus somenone paid the fine of Clarke and Crandall, and proposed to pay that of Holmes. The first two were released, whether they assented or not, but Holmes who was a man of learning, and who afterward succeeded Dr. Clarke as pastor of the Newport Church, would not consent to the paying of his fine, and because he refused, he was whipped thirty stripes, September 6, 1651. He said that he ‘durst not accept of deliverance in such a way’.

He was found guilty of ‘hearing a sermon in a private manner…and for suspicion of their having their hands in rebaptizing of one or more’. Bancroft [historian] says that he was whipped ‘unmercifully’, and ‘that for many days, if no some weeks, he could take no rest but upon his knees and elbows, not being able to sufferany part of his body to touch the bed whereon he lay’.

While enduring his torture, he joined his Lord on the cross and Stephen in praying that this sin might not be laid to the charge of his persecutors; and when his lacerated flesh quivered and blood streamed from his body, so powerfully did the Grace of the Crucified sustain him that he cheerfully said to his tormentors:


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The Testimony of Others – Continued

Posted by Pastor Szekely on November 17, 2007

In my post, “The Testimony of Others“, I stated that our Baptist History begins with the first church that the Lord Jesus Christ started, and our heritage continues down through the centuries. I am thoroughly convinced that this is a true statement because of the doctrine of true, N.T. Baptist churches AND because of the unaltered testimonies of friends and foes alike throughout these last 2000 years of record.

It is very important that this be told…someone once said, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing“. Well, I don’t want that to be said of us, dear reader, so I am compelled to build upon my first post that I liked to above.

The Names of Baptized Believers since the Time of our Lord Jesus Christ

1. DisciplesMark 2:15, “And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.”

2. “This way”Acts 9:2, “And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”

3. SaintsActs 9:13, “Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem”

4. ChristiansActs 11:26, “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”

5. Anabaptists– 2nd to the 16th Century. This word means “to re-baptize”, and this name was given, by their persecutors and foes, to the baptized believers who Scripturally baptized people who were sprinkled or christened as an infant. This can be plainly seen in the quotes of antiquity:

The institution of Anabaptism is no novelty, but for 1300 years has caused great disturbance in the church…” Ulrich Zwingli, Swiss Reformer (1484-1531)

“… as early as the 3rd century AD the apostate Church opposed the anabaptists.” Henry Bullinger (1504- 1575), Protestant Swiss reformer

We shall afterward show that the rise of the Anabaptists took place prior to the Reformation of the Church of England, and there are also reasons for believing that on the continent of Europe, small hidden Christian societies, who have held many of the opinions of the Anabaptists, have existed from the times of the apostles. In the sense of the direct transmission of divine truth, and the true nature of spiritual religion, it seems probable that these churches have a lineage or succession more ancient than that of the Roman Church.” Robert Barclay (1648-1690), Quaker historian

6. Baptists – 17th Century to the Catching Away of the Saints, The Rapture.

I have no question in my own mind that there has been a historical succession of Baptists from the days of Christ to the present.” John T. Christian, college professor, historian, author

Of the Baptists it may be said that they are not reformers. These people, comprising bodies of Christian believers known under various names in different countries, are entirely distinct and independent of the Roman and Greek churches, have had an unbroken continuity of existence from Apostolic days down through the centuries.” William C. King, Crossing the Centuries, 1912

Clouds of witnesses attest the fact that before the…papery, and  from the Apostolic age to the present time, the sentiments of Baptists, and the practice of baptism has had a continued chain of advocates, and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced.” Alexander Campbell, Church of Christ

Baptists maintain that they existed before the Catholic apostasy took place; that they existed alongside Catholicism after her formation; and that they existed apart from Catholicism.” Sir Isaac Newton, English scientist, historian

We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians.  We did not commence our existence at the Reformation, we were reformers before Luther or Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the very days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel underground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents.  Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor; I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man.  We have ever been ready to suffer; as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with Government, and we will never make the Church, the despot over the consciences of men.” Charles Spurgeon

[For more quotes, please see my previous post linked above]

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The Testimony of Others

Posted by Pastor Szekely on September 25, 2007

Our Baptist History begins with the first church that the Lord Jesus Christ started, and our heritage continues down through the centuries. Bold statement??? Bold, yes…but not an empty one.

Historians of various denominations admit Baptists have existed down through the ages since Christ. The following men bear witness to the antiquity of our non-Protestant, non-Catholic belief:

1. Sir Isaac Newton said it was “his conviction that the Baptists were the only group that had not symbolized with Rome” (Memoirs, 201).

2. Mosheim, the learned Lutheran historian, places people with Baptist sentiments before the Reformation. He wrote: “Before the rise of Luther and Calvin there lay concealed in almost all the countries of Europe persons who adhered tenaciously to the principles of the Dutch Baptists” (Mosheim, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, III, 200).

3. Alexander Campbell in his debate with Macalla, a Presbyterian, declared: “From the apostolic age, to the present time, the sentiments of Baptists, and the practice of baptism have had a continued chain of advocates, and public monuments of their existence in every century can be produced” (Macalla and Campbell Debate on Baptism, 378, 379, Buffalo, 1824).

4. Father Gretcher, Catholic, after recounting the teachings of the Waldenses, said: “This is a true picture of the heretics of our age, particularly of the Anabaptists” (D’Anrvers, Baptism, 253).

5. Caesar Baronius, Catholic, known as the “Father of Ecclesiastical History,” said: “The Waldenses were Ana-baptists” (D’Anvers, Baptism, 253).

6. John Clark Ridpath was a professor of history in DePaul University and a Methodist. He declared, “I should not readily admit that there was a Baptist church as far back as A. D. 100, though without doubt there were Baptists then, as all Christians were then Baptists” (Jarrel. Baptist Church Perpetuity, 59).

7. Cardinal Hosius, a member of the Council of Trent, A. D. 1560, testified that the Anabaptists had suffered persecution for 1200 years. In a statement familiar to church historians he says: “If the truth of religion were judged by the readiness and boldness of which a man of any sect shows in suffering, then the opinion and persuasion of no sect can be truer and surer than that of the Anabaptists since there have been none for these twelve hundred years past, that have been more generally punished or that have more cheerfully and steadfastly undergone, and even offered themselves to the most cruel punishment than these people” (Hosius, Letters Apud Opera, 112-113. Baptist Magazine CVIII, 278. May, 1826).

8. In the year 1819 Dr. Ypeii, Professor of Theology in Gronigen, and the Rev. J. J. Dermout, Chaplain to the King of the Netherlands, both scholarly members of the Reformed Church, investigated the claims of Dutch Baptists to apostolic origin. Their unsolicited testimony is clear and convincing: “We have seen that the Baptists who were formerly called Anabaptists, and in later times Mennonites. were the original Waldenses, and who have lone in the history of the church received the honor of that origin. On this account the Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the days of the apostles, and as a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrines of the Gospel through the ages” (Ypeij en Dermout, Geschiedenis der Nederlandsrhe Hervormde Kerk. Breda, 1819).


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