History of the Sabbath

Published in 1636, Peter Heylyn’s The history of the Sabbath: in two bookes details how man’s religion re-skinned the Jewish Sabbath and called it a Christian ordinance. I have edited it to modernize the English and eliminate most of the Latin in an attempt to make this work available and accessible to 21st century readers.

From the dawning of the New Covenant, Christians have struggled over how the Old Covenant Scriptures are to be applied to the lives of the saints. Acts 15 is one of several records showing how some Christians thought the Mosaic Covenant applied to Christians, claiming saints must be circumcised and follow the law of Moses (Acts 15:1 & 5). Peter rebuked these brothers, observing that the Mosaic Law (which was the centerpiece of the Old Covenant) was a yoke too heavy for man to bear and requiring this was putting God to the test (verse 10).  Jesus said His yoke was easy, that He would carry the burden of His sheep (Matt 11:30) and John tells us, This is how we know that we love God’s children when we love God and obey His commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden (1 John 5:2-3).

Despite this clear teaching, over time, many Christians began to teach that Christians must be “baptized” as infants and obey the law of Moses – specifically the 4th Word of the Decalogue.

Heylyn’s book shows the historical development of this Christian Sabbatarian practice and how those who taught this practiced it. We see the common tale of those who say, “Do what I say, not what I do.” Paul taught against this (Romans 2:21); it ought not be so within the body of Christ!

I pray this old booke helps open the eyes of those who are trying to carry a heavy yoke or burden other saints with such teaching. In paper and Kindle formats.

Southern Baptists Beginnings and Path Forward

A wonderful table discussion between Tom Ascol and Tom Nettles (I care not to use honorific titles for brothers in Christ) about how the SBC was formed, where it ran off the rails, what the obstacles are, and how we negotiate the way forward. I do not see conventions and denominations in the Scripture, but these men give me some hope for life within the SBC.

Fifty Years in the Chuch of Rome

Most magisterial reformers took only a half-step from Rome. Much of what protestant churches hold to was learnt from Rome. Certain doctrines and practices clung to men like the sin that so easily entangles us. The following is from Charles Chiniquy’s book, Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, chapter 30; published in 1886.
Half-step from Rome
Later in the book, after describing the horrors women experienced in having their most secret sins pried from them by expertly crafted questions, the author reveals one of the vipers mentioned above.
586

The Visitor is available to download for free today.

imageWhat happens when someone travels into the past to deliver an urgent message about the future, but ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Would those unintended recipients of the future warning be able to stop any of the atrocities of the 20th Century (including the assassination of President Kennedy)? Or, in spite of man’s ability to travel through time, would God’s sovereignty demand that the horrible events of history’s past can never be changed?

The Visitor, by J.L. Pattison, is a short story best described as part science fiction, part history, part time travel, and part mystery. With a tablespoon of politics, a pinch of dystopia, and a dash of conspiracy, this tale will take you on an entertaining ride with a climactic ending that will leave you in contemplation long after you’ve put it down.

Here’s what others are saying about The Visitor:

– “I appreciated the conflict between the sovereignty of God and time travel. I have often wondered what would happen if time travel were possible. This story reminded [me] of the rich man and Lazarus from the Gospel of Luke, especially Father Abraham’s words ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.’ Or in this case, traveled back through time.”  Javier L. Taylor (5 Stars)

– “A new talent to watch. . . . If the Twilight Zone still existed, this short story would be an episode, it is that good. . . . Rod Serling himself would be proud.” PapaPhilly (5 Stars)

– “Possibly the best short story I have [ever] read!” Anne (5 Stars)

– “I guarantee you will be old before you forget this book.” Mark Escalera (5 Stars)

– “Very thought provoking.” Laura McGowen (4 Stars)

– “The author has crafted an excellent short story that captures your imagination and draws you in with its characters. . . . Well done.” Chris Hohnholz (5 Stars)

– “Reads like a suspenseful Twilight Zone episode . . . . If you are a fan of the Twilight Zone this book is for you.” John Cavallone (5 Stars)

– “There is an allusion to the tension between the sovereignty of God and the outworking of history in relation to time travel. I find that to be an interesting thought experiment. Finally, there’s a big nod given to Neil Postman and his vision of the American future given in Amusing Ourselves to Death . . . . The weaving of an interesting fictional narrative with theology, history, political commentary, media ecology, science fiction . . . in such a short space is impressive.” Heath Cross (5 Stars)

– “I love that it moved quickly and touched on so many interesting points and . . . had such an unpredictable ending.” Bernard Ruiz (5 Stars)

– “It was amazing and scary at the same time. The Vistor left me breathless.” Michelle Bledsoe (5 Stars)

– ” I found this to be a new concept for this genre and actually left me pondering what I would change if I could go back and warn others. Overall, a very thoughtful and entertaining read. The writing and pace was perfect . . . . I found this very enjoyable and thought provoking . . . .” Jenaca (5 Stars)

– “The plot is compelling – I imagine Rod Sterling could adapt it quite nicely for an episode of the Twilight Zone.” Jay Eldred (4 Stars)

– “The Visitor . . . [is] . . . a truism that big things come in small packages.” Chad (5 Stars)

– “Very well written in a manner that kept me riveted to the end.” Paul Bayne (5 Stars)

“This story left me with so many questions, and theories. Not about the plot or the characters, but about humans and their choice of not seeing what’s right in front of their eyes.” Laura (5 Stars)

“I really enjoyed this book! . . . I didn’t want the story to be over. It had great depth and character development for such a short story. There were several thought provoking themes woven into the story line that hung in my head for several days after reading [it]. . . . I look forward to reading more from this author.” Kayci (4 Stars)

___________________

If you’re ready to read a unique tale that is also family friendly, then download The Visitor today at Amazon.com.

Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can still read The Visitor by downloading the free Kindle reading app to your tablet, phone or PC here

Did the Lord’s Churches Baptize by Immersion Before the 17th Century?

Did the Lord’s Churches Baptize by Immersion Before the 17th Century?

By Thomas WilliamsonBaptism

http://thomaswilliamson.net/

All correspondence concerning this article should be directed to
Thomas Williamson, 3131 S. Archer Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60608.

The owner of the copyright on this article hereby waives all copyright protections for all English and Spanish articles posted on this site, and gives permission for them to be reprinted or reproduced in any form, in whole or in part, including print media and Internet, as long as the wording is not changed and credit is given for authorship.

 

In most Protestant and denominational Baptist colleges and seminaries today, it is commonly taught in the Church History departments that there were no churches on earth that baptized by immersion prior to the 17th Century.

This is just another way of saying that there were no Baptist churches and no true New Testament churches prior to the 17th Century. Supposedly, at some point in the Middle Ages, all true churches vanished from the face of the earth. and the institution of the local church had to be restored later.

As BMA Baptists, we have never accepted such teaching. Point 17 of the 1950 BMA Doctrinal Statement affirmed belief in the “Perpetuity of Missionary Baptist Churches from Christ’s day on earth until His second coming.” This means that there have always been true churches on earth, baptizing by immersion, for the last 20 centuries.

Section 10. C. of the 1988 BMA Doctrinal Statement reads: “The Perpetuity of the Church Instituted by Jesus during His personal ministry on earth (Matt. 16:18, Mark 3:13-19; John 1:35-51), true churches have continued to the present and will continue until Jesus returns (Matt. 16:18, 28:20).”

However, in the last century, some church history scholars have come to the conclusion that the Anabaptists and other evangelical groups prior to the 17th Century baptized exclusively by pouring rather than by immersion, which would mean that those “churches” were not true churches. (Section 10. D. of our Doctrinal Statement requires baptism by immersion).

Some scholars have even pointed to the year 1641 as the date when Baptists recovered the apostolic practice of immersion, stating that Baptists and all other evangelical groups baptized only by pouring prior to that date.

If these scholars are correct, then our BMA Doctrinal Statement is mistaken, and our traditional belief in the perpetuity of the church is also mistaken.

So which is it?

To prove that no one, through the Middle Ages up to 1641, baptized by immersion, would be extremely difficult, requiring a degree of omniscience possessed only by God Himself. But if we can show that there were at least some evangelical groups that were immersing prior to 1641, then we will have successfully defended our conviction that there have always been true churches on earth, and that the gates of hell have not prevailed against the institution of the Lord’s Church.

The notion that there was no baptism by immersion before 1641 can be quickly disposed of. In 1614 (27 years earlier), Leonard Busher, a Baptist of London. in a petition to King James I, stated that Christ “commanded” those who “willingly and gladly” received “the word of salvation to be baptized in the water, that is, dipped for dead in the water.” (Armitage, History of the Baptists, p. 440).

In 1644. Dr. Featley, an opponent of the Baptists, complained that “They flock in great multitudes to their Jordans, and both sexes enter the river, and are dipt after their manner…. This venomous serpent … is the Anabaptist, who, in these latter times, first showed his shining head, and speckled skin, and thrust out his sting near the place of my residence, for more than 20 years.” (Armitage. p. 441), In other words. Baptists were immersing near Dr. Featley’s home prior to 1624. There is no hint that this was a totally new practice among Baptists, only that they started using a stream near Featley’s home around 1624.

In 1656, Henry Denne, a Baptist, defended the practice of immersion by reminding Anglicans that immersion was the ancient practice of their church: “Dipping of infants was not only commanded by the Church of England. but also generally practiced in the Church of England till the year 1606; yea, in some places it was practiced until the year 1641, until the fashion altered…” (Armitage, p. 443).

In the Roman Catholic Church, most baptisms were by immersion until the 14th Century: “Thomas Aquinas, the chief of the schoolmen, who flourished about the year 1250, says, in his theology, that while immersion is not essential to the validity of baptism, still, as the old and common usage, it is more commendable and safer than pouring.” (Everts, The Church in the Wilderness, p. 37).

The 19th Century German Catholic scholar Doellinger stated that “Baptism by immersion continued to be the prevailing practice of the Church as late as the 14th Century.” (Graves, John’s Baptism, p. 207). Baptism by pouring, while occasionally practiced, was not sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church until the Council of Ravenna in 1311. “Synods, as late as the synod of Tarragona, 1391, spoke of the submersion of children in baptism.” (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, v. 5, p. 712).

“It is equally clear that the form of baptism was immersion. This was at the time, the practice of the whole Christian world. The great Roman Catholic writers affirm that immersion was the proper form of baptism. Peter the Lombard, who died A.D. 1164, declared without qualification for it as the proper act of baptism.” (Christian, History of the Baptists, vol. 1, p. 81).

The Catholic Encyclopedia, in its article on “Baptism,” says, “The most ancient form usually employed was unquestionably immersion. This is. . . evident from the writings of the Fathers and the early rituals of both the Latin and Oriental churches…. In the Latin Church, immersion seems to have prevailed until the 12th Century. After that time it is found in some places even as late as the 16th Century.”

St. Jerome, early 5th Century, taught that “we are thrice dipped in the water” and Pope Leo the Great. in the 5th Century. wrote: “The trine immersion is an imitation of the 3 days’ burial” while Pope Gregory the Great in the following century stated that “The reason why we use 3 immersions at Rome is to signify the mystery of Christ’s 3 days’ burial.” (Cramp, Baptist History, p. 35).

Tertullian, in the 3rd Century. described the rite of baptism in detail, showing that it was done by immersion at that time. Martin Luther, 13 centuries later, taught that “baptism, in which the minister dips the child in the water, is a symbol of death and resurrection, and Luther therefore preferred total immersion.” (Latourette, History of Christianity, p. 713).

While Catholics, Episcopalians and other Protestants have, for the most part, abandoned the practice of immersion, the Eastern Orthodox Church has always baptized by immersion throughout its history, and still does so today.

St. John Chrysostom, Orthodox Bishop of Constantinople, baptized 3,000 new members by immersion on Easter Sunday, 404 AD. Chrysostom taught that “Baptism is an immersion, and then an emersion. When our heads enter the water as a tomb, the old man is buried, and plunging down is wholly concealed all at once.” (Graves. pp. 201. 203).

The 18th Century church historian Robert Robinson wrote about Baptists in the 5th Century. “At the beginning of the 5th Century, when infant baptism first came up, there were in Africa at least 400 hundred congregations of Anabaptists, called from Donatus, the name of 2 of their most eminent teachers, Donatists. . . . The Romans baptized by dipping on a profession of faith. The Donatists baptized by dipping on a proof of virtue accompanied with a general profession of Christianity; and as they thought the Romans had ceased to be Christian churches on account of their immorality, they did not hold their baptism valid, and they rebaptized every one that quitted the Roman communion to join theirs.” (Robinson, Ecclesiastical Researches, pp. 7-8). Note that according to Robinson, both the Donatists and the Roman Catholics were immersing at that time.

Through the Middle Ages, the Catholics and Orthodox were baptizing by immersion, yet we are expected to believe that there were no Baptists or evangelicals who baptized by immersion during this period! Where is the proof of this?

In 1590 the Italian Roman Catholic Cardinal and nephew of the Pope, Robert Bellarminc, wrote: “Ordinarily, baptism is performed by immersion, and that to represent the burial of Christ.” (Graves. p. 207). During the 16th Century, many Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican baptisms, and all Orthodox baptisms, were performed by immersion. It is very hard to believe that no Baptists or evangelicals were baptizing by immersion at that same time.

The Waldenses. who spread from their mountain strongholds of France and Italy into most regions of Europe, were Baptists who practiced immersion. “‘The Waldenses were Baptists in that they practiced only immersion. . . .,’ Mezeray says, ‘In the 12th Century they [Waldenses] plunged the candidate in the sacred font..'” (Jarrel, Baptist Perpetuity, pp. 162-163).

“The contemporary writers, Eberhard and Ermengard, in their work, ‘contra Waldenses’ written toward the close of the 12th Century, repeatedly refer to immersion as the form of baptism among the Waldenses.” (Christian, pp 81-82).

Concerning the 15th Century Bohemian Waldenses, Broadbent says. “One of the first things they (the Czech Brethren) did was to baptize those present, for the baptism of believers by immersion was common to the Waldenses and to most of the brethren in different parts, though it had been interrupted by pressure of persecution.” (Broadbent, The Pilgrim Church, p. 130).

“No historian has ever charged the ancient Waldenses with the practice of sprinkling and pouring for baptism. We may consider it a point generally admitted that the ancient Waldenses possessed the Baptist peculiarity of holding the burial in baptism of those who are dead to sin.” (Ray, The Baptist Succession, p.331).

Prior to the 17th Century, the Baptist practice of immersion was not brought up against them by their persecutors, because the Catholics and other denominations were also immersing at that time, so the mode of baptism was not a point of controversy.

An unbiased look at the historical evidence shows that our BMA confession of faith is correct in teaching Baptist perpetuity. The practice of baptism by immersion is certainly an essential element of Baptist perpetuity.

The purpose of citing the practices of other denominations is not to hint that they were the mother churches of the Baptists – they were not. Rather, it is to show how absurd it is to believe that there were no immersionist Baptists prior to the 17th Century, at a time when most other religious societies were baptizing by immersion.

 

 

A Defense of Credo-Baptism

I testify that baptism or dipping in water is one of the commandment of this Lord

Jesus Christ.

By John Clark, Physician of Rhode Island in America, 1652

That this commandment of Jesus is by way of dipping, and, as it were by drowning, overwhelming or burying in water and not by sprinkling with water, appears many ways.

1. In that although there be frequent mention made of that appointment of Christ in His last will and testament, yet is it never expresses by the word that may be rendered rantism, or sprinkling, but by the word that is rendered baptism, or dipping.

2. In that the word by which it is so frequently expressed doth in proper English signify to dip, to plunge under water, and as it were, to drown, but yet so as with safety so that the party (as to the manner) may be drowned again and again, see the instance of Naaman. He dipped himself seven times in Jordan (2 King5:14) and to this sense of the word (at least in that place) both the Greek, Latin and English Churches agree.

3. In that the phrase (in which there is mention made of such an appointment of Christ) doth necessarily import such a thing, and, therefore, when mention is made of baptizing, there generally followeth that word the preposition (iv) which is commonly translated in or into which suits the dipping, and not the preposition (sun) which signifies with and so suit with sprinkling. It may as well be rendered I baptize you in water and he shall baptize in the Holy Spirit (Mar 1:8) as it is rendered John did baptize in the wilderness and in the river of Jordan (vs 4, 5) or that John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day (Rev 1:10) and they were baptized in the cloud and in the Sea (1 Cor 10:2). Yea, it might as well be rendered I baptize, or dip you, into water as it is rendered they were casting a net into the Sea (Mar 1:16) for the words are the same and it would be an improper speech to say John did baptize with the wilderness and they were casting a net with the Sea.

4. That this appointment of Christ is by way of dipping, and not sprinkling, appears in that for the resemblance and likeness hereunto. The Israelites passing under the cloud and through the Sea where the Egyptians that were their lords and commanders, their pursuers and enemies, that sought their destruction were drowned, left behind and seen no more, is by the Holy Spirit called a baptism (1 Cor 10:1,2) They were baptized in the cloud etc. Observe, it is not here rendered with the cloud and with the Sea, as in the other place (Mar 1:8) with water, because it suits with sprinkling although the word be the same, but in the cloud and in the Sea which suits with dipping or overwhelming. So, with the appointment of Christ, they passing through the midst of the red or bloody Sea on dry land which stood on both sides as a wall, and being under the Cloud, were as men, in a carnal eye, overwhelmed and drowned and yet truly saved and safe from their enemies.

5. That this appointment of Christ was not by sprinkling, but by dipping, or putting the person into or under the water appears by Phillip’s baptizing the Eunuch. It is said They went down into the water, both Philip the baptizer and the Eunuch that was the person to be baptized, and being there in the water, Philip baptized, or dipped him in that water as John did Jesus in the river of Jordan. Then it is said as they descended, or went down into the water, so they ascended or went straight way up out of the water. See Acts 8:38, 39; Matt 3:16. Mark the expression: “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water..”, therefore had he been down in the water.

6. That this appointment of Christ was not by sprinkling, but by dipping, or , as it were a drowning, appears in that John the Baptizer, his work being to baptize, remains in the wilderness by the river of Jordan and afterward in Aenon. The reason that this is rendered by the Spirit of God why there he abode, was, because there was much water there, which need not have been if that appointment could have been performed by sprinkling and not by dipping. See Luke 3:2,3 John 3:23.

7. That this appointment of Christ was not to be performed by sprinkling, but by dipping etc. Appears from the nature of the Ordinance itself. It is such an Ordinance as whereby the person that submitteth thereto doth visibly put on Christ Jesus the Lord and is hereby visibly planted into His death, holding forth therein a lively similitude and likeness unto His death. Whereby only through faith he now professeth he hath escaped death and is in hope to obtain life and peace everlasting and so to have fellowship with Him in His death as to be dead with Him and thereupon to reckon himself to be dead indeed unto sin, Satan, the law and the curse. See Gal 3:27; Rom 8:2,3; 5:7,8,11; 1 Cor 15:29. But the planting of a person into the likeness of death is no ways resembled by sprinkling. But by dipping it is lively set forth and demonstrated.

8. This appointment of Christ, Baptism, is an ordinance whereby the person that submitteth thereto, doth visibly and clearly resemble the burial of Christ, and his being buried with Him. So, as in respect of the old man, the former lusts and conversation, like the Egyptians, to be taken out of the way and seen no more. See Romans 6:4,6; Col 2:12. But sprinkling doth no way lively resemble the burial of Christ, or the persons being buried with Him as dipping doth.

 9. This appointment of Christ, Baptism, is an ordinance whereby the person that submitteth thereto doth visibly and lively hold forth herein the resurrection of Christ, declares Him Whose life was taken from the Earth to be alive again, Who although he died and was buried, yet was He not left in the grave to see corruption, but was raised again and behold He liveth for evermore. As hereby he holds forth the resurrection of Christ, so doth he also his own being planted in the likeness thereof so as to reckon himself to be in his soul and spirit quickened and risen with Christ from henceforth to live unto God the fountain of life and to Christ Jesus the Lord Who died for him, and rose again and so to walk in newness of life in this present evil world, being also begotten unto a lively hope that in the world to come, he shall be raised and quickened both in should and body to a life everlasting. See (Rom 6:4,5,8,11; Acts 8:33,35,36; Col 2:12; Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 15:29; 1 Pet 1:3. Sprinkling doth no way lively resemble the resurrection of Christ, or the souls or bodies rising, or being raised by Him, as the way of dipping doth. Therefore, this appointment of Christ was, and still is, to be performed by way of dipping or putting the person into or under the water and not by sprinkling.

 That this dipping in or into water in the name of Jesus is one of the commandments of this Lord Jesus Christ doth evidently appear Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15, 16 compared with Acts 2:38, 41; 8:36, 38 and 10:47, 48. And that it is also to be observed by all that trust in Christ, as other of is commands, as He is Lord, until He come again, is likewise expressly manifested to be His will: Matt 28:20; Gal 1:7, 8; Jude 3; 2 Tim 2:2; Col 2:5, 6; Rev 2:25; 3:11 Hold fast till I come. Rev 22:14, 19; Heb 12:25

A visible believer or disciple of Christ Jesus (that is, one that manifesteth repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ) is the only person that is to be baptized with that visible baptism or dipping of Jesus Christ in water

 That a visible disciple or scholar of Christ, one that manifesteth himself to have heard Him, to have been taught by Him and to have yielded himself to Him as his teacher, is the only person, etc. Will be made manifest:

 1. By the commission itself and the argument stands thus-they and they only have right t this ordinance and appointment of Jesus Christ, whom the Ordainer Himself, Christ Jesus the Lord, hath appointed it to disciples and to believers and to such only. The first proposition cannot be denied and the second will easily be roved. See the commission by which the apostles were warranted to administer this ordinance. So must all baptize or they will appear but usurpers (Mat 28:18, 19). All power is given to me in heaven and in earth, saith the Lord, Go ye therefore and disciplize or make disciples not among the Jews only, but among the Gentiles and Nations and baptize them. If the question should have been made, Lord whom shall we baptize of the Nations among the Jews and Gentiles? His answer was given in the words before. He would have given no other. You shall baptize amongst the Nations Jews and Gentiles, such as first been taught, and by teaching have been made my disciples. Mar 16:16 go ye into all the World, saith the Lord, and preach the gospel to every creature-to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved etc. If the question should be here propounded again who among the religious and strict Jews and the loose and profane Gentiles should be baptized, the answer is plain-those to whom the Gospel first hath been preached and they through that Gospel have also believed.

 2. By the practice of the commissioners of Christ who were faithful unto their Lord and to the charge which He gave them. The argument stands thus: Such as faithful Apostles, and first commissioners of Christ Jesus the Lord administered this ordinance of baptism unto such and only such ought to be made partakers thereof. But the Apostles and first commissioners of Christ administered not this ordinance unto carnal babes, infants of days(these are by the scriptures declared to be conceived in sin to be brought forth in iniquity, and in being born of the flesh to be but flesh, and so by nature the Children of wrath, one as well as another, being also untaught), but to such as first were taught and were ordained by the immortal seed of the world to be born again and as new born babes in Christ, having tasted of the sincere milk of the word, desire still more of the same that they might grow up thereby and such as appeared to be converted and to become as little ones, such little ones as believed in Jesus.

 The first proposition I suppose none that own Christ and his Apostles will dare to deny. And the second which is more questionable will also be proved. See Acts 2:38, etc. Although Peter with the 11 calls upon the convicted Jews to repent and to be baptized every one in the name of the Lord Jesus for the remission of sins, and tells them that then they shall be made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and that they should not need to distrust it, he shows them the largeness of the promise that was made concerning the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit, it being promised to be poured forth upon all flesh as they had expressed in the beginning of their discourse out of Joel 5:16, 17 and therefore saith ‘tis to you and to your children and to all that are a far off even as many(of you, your children and such as are a far off) as the Lord our God shall call. Yet, he baptized none, but such as were called by the holding forth the word of salvation by Jesus Christ as appears in the words. For they that gladly received his word were baptized and they only, for they that were baptized were added and continued together in the disciples’ doctrine and in fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayer and continued daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. This place, therefore, if rightly considered, will be so far from affording a ground for the baptizing of the children of believing parents, because here it is said the promise is to you and your children, that it will sufficiently evince the contrary. Such an apprehension is accompanied with 2 or 3 evident mistakes. There is a mistake in the promise, in the parties to whom the promise belongs and the manner how it is to them and their children.

 1. There is a mistake if the promise in that it is looked at as the covenant of Grace which doth ingratiate the soul into and gives it an interest in all the privileges of the Gospel of Christ. So in order doth go before baptism or any other visible ordinance and appointment of His whereas is very truth by promise there, is meant that Holy Spirit of promise which they which believed in Christ, and obeyed Him, should, according to promise, receive after He was ascended unto the right hand of the Father as appears John 7:39; 14:16; 16:7. That which He had here shed abroad in a powerful manner upon the Apostles, and that which these Jews also believing and obeying the Gospel of Christ should also receive and therefore saith Peter, Repent and be baptized and ye shall receive etc. And was no other than that which was of old prophesied of by Joel as is declared in v.16 and so is a promise that follows faith and obedience and not such as goes before to give right to this appointment of Christ.

 2. There is a mistake in the parties to whom the promise belongs. For whereas it is said to you and to your children, and thereupon it is conceived to be meant believers, and their infants of days which upon that account are to be baptized, it is plain and evident when the apostle spoke these words to them, they could not be looked upon as believers, forasmuch as they being pricked at the heart and only convinced of their evil in murdering the Lord of life, propounded what they should do to be saved which is far from believing. To which the apostle replies, Repent and be baptized in the name of the Jesus for the remission of sins. To conceive that by their children were meant infants of days, it may be as well as understood by your sons and daughters which should so receive of the promise of the Spirit as to prophecy mentioned in the seventeenth verse of this chapter to which these words are related: and to make it appear that the promise was not so either to them or their children (as yet manifested) to give them right unto baptism. After many more words used by the apostle to persuade them to save themselves from this adulterous generation, it is said, but as many as gladly received his word, were baptized and but only such and not their infants of days. They that were baptized continued together in such appointments of Christ as infants are in no measure capable of.

3. There is a mistake in the manner how this promise is to them and their children, not spoken to them now as believers and their children as having right and interest peculiar by them, but, indeed, to them and their children no otherwise than to all that are a far off. If taken in the general, cannot be understood but with respect to the general promise which is to pour forth His Spirit upon all flesh. But, if with the restriction, which is, even as many as the Lord our God shall call, then parents and children, Jews and Gentiles, such as are near, and such as are a far off, must be called by the word of His grace before they can have a peculiar right and interest in this Spirit of promise. So a child that is called to believe and obey the Gospel may have this promise made good unto him before his father, and a Gentile that is a far off before a Jew that is near.

This will appear also by other instances as of Philip baptizing in Samaria. They were men and women that he baptized there, such as believed and received the word with great joy (Acts 8:8, 12). When the Eunuch seeing the water, asked what should let him to be baptized. Philip intimates that although he had been taught, yet want of a manifestation of faith would be a let (v. 36, 37) and whereas there is mention made of whole houses that were baptized, that the commissioner might appear faithful unto their Lord, and keep close to the very words of their commission, you shall find they were first taught, and by teaching, were made His disciples, and gladly received His word. See it in Cornilius’ household (Acts 10:44, 47) compared with the jailers’ household (Acts 16: 32, 34). They spake unto him the word of God and unto all that were in his house, and he set meat before them, and rejoicing, believing in God with all his house. See it also in Crispus’ household (Acts 18: 8-11), Stephanus’ household (1 Cor 1:16, 17 compared with 16:15). And as for Lydia’s household (Acts 16), the Spirit of God being more silent therein, they that cannot interpret it by the other four, nor yet by the commission itself, nor by the commissioners’ faithful observance thereof in all other instances, let them prove, if they can, these three particulars: a. That Lydia ever had a husband. B. In case she had, that ever she had any children by him, and if so, then in the c. That they were not dead or so grown up that they might hear and receive the word gladly as well as their mother.

 A third argument to prove that a visible believer is the person that according to the mind of Christ is to be baptized in water may be taken from the order which the Spirit of Christ lays down: faith and baptism, in the scriptures of truth, putting faith still in the first place witness Mark 16: 15, 16, Matt 28: 19; Heb 6; Eph 4.

 A fourth argument may be taken from the nature of the ordinance and a fifth from John’s baptism. Yea, much more might be said to this point, but this may suffice.

 The only person that is to walk in the visible order of his house and so to wait for his coming the second time in the form of a Lord and King with his glorious Kingdom according to promise.

 That he is the only person that is to enter into and walk in the visible order of His house will evidently appear, if the order in which our Lord left His house when he went to His father to receive His Kingdom, be duly considered. In His last will and testament, we shall find it thus recorded. When our Lord was about to be gone, he gave order unto His apostles whom He made stewards in His house of the mysteries of God to make Him disciples of all Nations and that such as were to be made should then be baptized and so visibly be planted into Christ and put on Christ, and having so received Him, should walk in Him, observing all things whatsoever He had commanded. The first thing whereof as touching order was to be added or joined one to another in the fellowship of the Gospel by a mutual professed subjection to the Scepter of Christ and being a company thus called out of the world, from worldly vanities, and worldly worships after Christ Jesus the Lord (which is the proper English of these words-the Church of Christ, and is in other terms called the Household of faith) should steadfastly continue together in the Apostles’ doctrine, the consolation, reproof, and instruction thereof, in fellowship, the mutual support both inward and outward, in breaking of bread, thereby remembering the death of our Lord whose soul was made an offering for sin. As His flesh is meat indeed, and His blood drink indeed by the help of the Spirit to nourish our souls and spirits up unto eternal life and in prayer, one with and for another. This is the absolute order which the Lord hath appointed in His last will and testament. This appeareth both by His own precept and command, and by the practice of such as first trusted in Him. And, if so, then neither infants of days, nor yet such as profess themselves to be believers in Jesus, but refuse as a manifestation thereof, according to the practice of such as first trusted in Christ, to yield themselves to be planted into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and so visibly to put Christ on, as did the Christians of old, I say, such have no right to enter into, or walk in the order of the Gospel of Christ. To conclude the point the argument stands thus: they, and they only , have visible right to enter and walk in the visible order of Christ’s house, and so to wait for His coming, whom Christ Jesus Himself being the Lord of the house, hath appointed, and His Apostles being His stewards, have approved of, but such as first have been taught and made disciples or scholars of Jesus and believers in Christ, and afterwards have been baptized or dipped and thereby visible and lively planted in to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, are they, and they only, whom Christ hath appointed and the apostles approved of. See His commission. Peruse their practice, ergo, they and they only have visible right to enter into and walk in the order of Christ’s house and so to wait for His coming the second time in the for of a King with His glorious Kingdom according to promise. See for a further confirmation of the last clause in the first epistle to the Corinthians !: 7; 1 The 1: 10; 2 The 3: 5.

How to stagnate the church: A dictator’s manual.

Dear atheistic, communistic dictator: Having trouble with that dastardly underground church spreading like wild fire?

No matter how much you seize, imprison, torture, and execute those Christians, the church still keeps flourishing?

Christians getting in the way of your nation’s “progressive” progress?

Looking for a way to stamp out the spread of Christianity in your Orwellian utopia?

Well look no further than this blog post. That’s right. In this post I will show you in just two easy steps how to limit the spread of the church in your country in one generation so you can continue to build your effervescent dystopian society unhindered.

But, dear dictator, it is essential that you first understand two things before we proceed: 

Firstly, up to this point you’ve been doing it all wrong.  The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church and history has proven that persecution only grows the church. 

Secondly, God’s ultimate sovereign will and His predetermined plans will never be thwarted by any man, including you . . . with all due respect of course, dearest comrade.

If you can resign yourself to the fact that your current approach has been ineffective, and that you will never completely stamp out Christianity, then you’re ready to follow the two easy steps outlined below to begin stagnating the spread of the church in your country.

Let’s begin.

STEP ONE:

You must legalize freedom of religion. I know, I know, this sounds counter intuitive, but trust me on this.

Combined with step two, legalizing freedom of religion will ensure that the tares will greatly increase among the wheat since there’s no longer a sacrifice associated with “becoming a Christian.” Once the tares begin to outnumber the wheat, you will know that success (achieved without a single shot fired) is just around the corner.

STEP TWO:

In conjunction with step one, open up Christian bookstores in every city and flood the market with two waves of books. In the first wave push books by the likes of Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, and Beth Moore to skew their concept of what Christianity is. Simultaneously make available to them such television channels as TBN to tell them that God’s greatest desire for them is to be healthy and wealthy and that anything less means they are lacking in faith.

After the masses have consumed and adapted to a positive, self-help version of the gospel, then hit them with the second wave of book by the likes of Rob Bell, Dallas Willard, Doug Pagitt, Jay Bakker, and similar Emergents to encourage them to doubt everything the Bible says (or at least doubt what the Bible says about the sins they like to continue engaging in).

Allow Christian radio stations to function uninhibited. Encourage stations to fill the airwaves with their sugary, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend, contemporary, Christian pop music along with all the “positive and encouraging” Bible verses to boot (avoiding verses like Psalm 5:5, Psalm 11:5, Matthew 7:21-23, and Hebrews 10:31), offering contests to win theme park tickets, movie theater tickets, concert tickets, backstage passes, autographed CDs, day spa visits, and cruises, cruises, cruises.

All of this will drive these Christians to seek after increased comfort and greater self-preservation over and above everything else. This “laying down of one’s cross” to seek after comfort, security, and prosperity, of course, is the very opposite of what the Christian should be doing and is the antithesis of a “revolutionary.” A revolutionary, need I remind you, is one who would be willing to sacrifice everything to overthrow an oppressive government such as yours. The less revolutionaries there are, the greater your chance of retaining your power becomes.

Remember, your goal is not to make these people irreligious, because that simply doesn’t work (which is, after all, why you’re reading this). No, your goal is to inoculate them to the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the only religious faith that truly poses an ideological threat to your fragile utopia.

If you properly followed the above steps, then your subjects will not only have moved from the true gospel to a false one, but they’ll even reject the true gospel and not even be able to recognize it when it’s presented to them. This biblical ignorance will certainly spread like a cancer and be passed on to the next generation, ensuring your safety and security from an uprising or revolution for many years to come. 

Left to human nature, men will inevitably take the path of least resistance. No dying to self and carrying a cross for them, only happiness, security, prosperity, and ease. And once on the hook, they will then follow whoever promises to continue to provide those comforts, even if they follow that leader to the gallows he has prepared for them.

Do you still doubt that my two-step plan will work? Do you still desire proof of its effectiveness? Then I need only to direct you to where this two-step process has been implemented already as proof that this works every time it’s tried: Look no further than the churches in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.