. . . fully after the LORD                  I Kings 11:6                      by Steve Flinchum

Chapter 13


(Ephesians 3:21)

    In an earlier chapter, we have traced the history, continuation, and existence of some of the true congregations of Christ up to the 17th and 18th centuries in Britain. In this chapter, we will see their migration into America. At this point, someone may ask, "Where does John Smyth fit in?" The answer is that he does not. If the records of history are accurate about his religious activities, there is no way that we can consider the congregation gathered by him, or any of its offspring, as a congregation of Christ's, according to our interpretation of the New Testament. But, because many are so fond of perpetuating the myth that the Baptists in England originated with Smyth, I suppose the matter should be addressed here.

    As sources, I will use the encyclopedias, and various "Baptist histories," as well as books of general history. Those things such as names, dates, and places, commonly agreed upon, I will simply present as fact, rather than be overly cumbersome with quotations.

    In 1600, John Smyth became a lecturer or preacher of the city of Lincoln, in the established Church of England. After dispute and debate about the discipline and ceremonies of the Church of England, Smyth either left, or as some think, was thrown out of, the Church of England. He then became the pastor of one of the Brownist congregations in Lincolnshire. In 1606, or 1607, Smyth, Thomas Helwys, John Murton, along with Robinson and Clifton, who were co-pastors of another Brownist congregation nearby, and others, left England to escape religious persecution, and went to Amsterdam in Holland. In Amsterdam, these exiles joined a congregation of Brownist where F. Johnson was pastor, and H. Ainsworth was a teacher. After some time, controversey arose between Smyth and the Brownists there. J.J. Goadby, on pages 30-31 of Bye-Pathes in Baptist History, says:

The New Testament churches, with their simple order and discipline, seemed strangely unlike the half Jewish society at Amsterdam, with which he was united. He felt, moreover, that he could no longer hold the doctrines of personal election and reprobation. His faith was also shaken in some other points "assuredly believed among" the Amsterdam Separatists. He had ceased to be a Calvinist, and had become an Arminian. Much talk arose about these changes in his opinions. Meanwhile, Smyth adopted new views on the subject of baptism.

The last question came up in reviewing his dissent from the Establishment. He and his Brownist friends had rejected the ordination of the State Church, but they still retained her baptism. Smyth now made the subject his special study, and was speedily led to adopt believers' baptism as alone consistent with New Testament teaching. With his usual frankness he openly and zealously advocated his new opinions.

This was more than the charity of his associates could bear. Arminianism was bad enough; but believers' baptism was worse; at least so thought Robinson, Clifton, and others. Smyth, and those who sympathised in his opinions, were cut off from the church.

The exclusion of John Smyth, Thomas Helwys, and others who agreed with him, resulted in their proceeding to form a congregation of their own. In The Early English Baptists, B. Evans, whose account agrees with that of Goadby's, above, says, in volume I, pages 203-204:

Upon the very threshold of their enterprise a formidable difficulty presented itself. Who should baptize them? There were Baptists in Holland, those who administered the ordinance by immersion, as well as those who adopted the mode at present practised by our brethren in the Netherlands. From some cause or other, application was not made to any of them, and the story goes that after much prayer Smith baptized himself, then Helwys, and then the remainder of the company.

    Now that the dust has settled, most who have studied the matter are in agreement, rather than John Smyth "baptizing" himself, as he was accused of, it is most probable that Smyth "baptized" Helwys, Helwys "baptized" Smyth, and then the two "baptized" the rest. It does not matter which way they did it, if the information we have is correct, because neither had any authority to baptize. Since God had not given either of them authority to baptize, as He did John the Baptist, and neither had Jesus or any of His congregations given them that authority, we must conclude that what took place was not baptism.

    Most think that the mode of "baptism" used by Smyth and Helwys was pouring, and the weight of evidence agrees. That does not matter either, since they were grossly in error anyway. The Bible does not teach of any such thing as "plan A, plan B, and plan C," for baptism. It is either scriptural and valid, or unscriptural and of no benefit. They were no more able to baptize (with a baptism acceptable unto God) than Mother Goose, Humpty Dumpty, or Donald Duck.

    There is no doubt in my mind why the Smyth/Helwys congregation didn't go to the Baptists in Holland who "administered the ordinance by immersion," mentioned in the above quotation from Evans. Those Baptists believed in the Sovereignty of God, and the total depravity of man. They would not have approved of the Arminian profession of faith of Smyth and his followers. It was in 1609 or 1610 that the Smyth/Helwys congregation was founded, and very shortly after, a difficulty arose and John Smyth and others were excluded from it. They then joined a congregation of Mennonites, who by then were practicing baptism by pouring and sprinkling, and had fallen into other error. As Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) says, "The Arminianism of the Mennonites and their rejection of infant baptism appealed to Smyth." Evans, on page 208, vol.I, of Early English Baptists, says:

It is admitted, on all hands, that from some cause or other, the church over which Smith and Helwys presided was divided, but the cause of the division is not so manifest. Smith, with some twenty-four persons, was excluded from the church, and these sought communion with one of the Mennonite churches in the city. It is more than probable that it was one of the Waterland, one of the most liberal of the Mennonite churches, and their mode of baptism was by sprinkling, or affusion.

On page 209, Evans gives the confession and appeal for membership to the Mennonites, and in the appendix on pages 244 and 245, the names of Smyth, his wife Mary, and thirty others who signed it:

The names of the English who confess this their error, and repent of it, viz., that they undertook to baptize themselves contrary to the order appointed by Christ, and who now desire, on this account, to be brought back to the true church of Christ as quickly as may be suffered.

We unanimously desire that this our wish should be signified to the church.

The Smyth party was accepted by the Mennonites, who concluded that:

The said English were questioned about their doctrine of salvation, and the ground and the form (mode) of their baptism." "No difference was found between them and us. (Evans, p.208)

    Thomas Helwys continued as sole pastor of the remaining congregation until 1614, when he and some of the rest returned to London. The few remaining then joined the Mennonites in 1615. John Smyth died in Holland of consumption in August, 1612. Helwys and those returning with him formed yet another congregation after they settled in London. Some insist that that was the start of the General Baptists of England, who were of Arminian persuasion. I find no evidence or indication that any of the Particular Baptists of England received their baptism or origin from the Helwys congregation. The preponderance of the evidence indicates that even the General Baptists did not receive their baptism from the Helwys congregation, even though it may have been the first to have claimed the name of "General Baptist church." I believe Thomas Crosby's four volume History of the English Baptists, published in 1738, well supports that opinion. It appears to me that the congregations that showed the most evidence of being Jesus' kind of congregation have been the slower, and more reluctant to give themselves a name. They would describe themselves as "the baptized congregation at _____," or "the baptized church of Christ meeting at ____," or some similar description. Representative of their terminology in the late 1600s is in this inscription on the tombstone of Thomas Lowe, buried at Hill Cliffe:


On page 105 of Baptist Piety, "The Last Will and Testimony of Obadiah Holmes," Edwin S. Gaustad explains:

Obadiah Holmes addresses his letter simply to "the Church of Christ at Newport . . . who are baptized upon the professing of their faith. . . ." Letters from the Newport Church to the Boston Baptists often said merely, "To the Church of Christ gathered at Boston," while John Russell, the pastor of that church in 1680, described it as "a Church of Christ in Gospel Order." But gradually the word "baptized" became less a verb and more an adjective. In 1719 a letter from the Boston fellowship, which began "The Church of Christ in Boston Baptized Upon Profession of their Faith," was shortened that same year in a Newport letter to "We, the baptized Church of Christ meeting at Newport." The distinguishing tag "Baptist," or earlier "Anabaptist," was meant -- like most tags in the history of Christianity -- to be a pejorative one thrust upon the despised sect by its enemies. The sect itself -- like most new groups in the history of Christianity -- saw no need for any label at all since it was only re-creating the true and pure church of Jesus and the apostles. But history is more powerful than logic, and denominational names are the result.

    As to the General Baptists of England originating with the Smyth/Helwys affair, I believe the most probable case is that a few may have recieved their baptism from Helwys, but for the most part, the strongest connection is that existing congregations were seduced and corrupted by the propaganda and teaching of the Helwys organization, and thereby fell into their errors and accepted their name. Either way, if they were corporately and consciously preaching a gospel that involves a God that is less than completely sovereign, and man that is not totally depraved, they were administering a defective "baptism." Remember that baptism is picturing or preaching in typology.

    Of the John Smyth organization, Thomas Crosby says, on page 99, volume I of his History of the English Baptists, that:

If he were guilty of what they charge him with, 'tis no blemish on the English Baptists; who neither approved of any such method, nor did they receive their baptism from him.

    Dr. John Clarke, who was a Baptist preacher in London, came to Boston, Massachusetts, probably in 1636, with his wife Elizabeth. Due to religious persecution, John and Elizabeth Clarke, and others left Boston. In the second edition of The First Baptist Church in America, by J.R. Graves and S. Adlam, Conrad N. Glover writes, on page 219:

John Clarke was respected as a man of great learning. He bore high repute for scholarship and ability in languages, including Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Law, Medicine and Theology. He was by profession a physician and a Baptist minister. He possessed the qualifications of a leader, and a leader he became.

The conditions in Massachusetts Bay Colony became so intolerable in 1637 that John Clarke and some three hundred with him entered into a compact to remove themselves out of the colony.

They traveled to New Hampshire, but, being dissatisfied with the colder climate, returned south to a place named, by the Native Americans, Pocasset. On page 220 of the above named book, C.N. Glover says:

The land settled by John Clarke and his followers was purchased from the Indians. The date of the transaction was March 24, 1638.

Later in the same year, a congregation was organized with John Clarke as the pastor. On page 235, Glover says:

There are historic statements which lead me to believe that John Clarke began his ministry with the people of his colony immediately after they settled at the north end of Aquidneck Island, first called by its Indian name, Pocasset, and in 1638 changed to Portsmouth, and a meeting house built. Then during the next year in April, 1639, Dr. Clarke and others moved to the present site of the city of Newport and founded Newport where another meeting house was erected. It is believed by historians that the church begun at Portsmouth in 1638 was moved along with the settlers to Newport, where it has continued in active service ever since, with the exception of a period of interruption during the Revolutionary War when the British occupied the town of Newport.

The lengthy inscription on John Clarke's tombstone gives this informative and authoratative account:

To the Memory of


One of the original purchasers and proprietors of this island and one of the founders of the First Baptist Church of Newport, its first pastor and munificent benefactor; He was a native of Bedfordshire, England, and a practitioner of physic in London. He, with his associates, came to this island from Mass., in March, 1638, O.S., and on the 24th of the same month obtained a deed thereof from the Indians. He shortly after gathered the church aforesaid and became its pastor. In 1651, he, with Roger Williams, was sent to England, by the people of Rhode Island Colony, to negotiate the business of the Colony with the British ministry. Mr. Clarke was instrumental in obtaining the Charter of 1663 from Charles II., which secured to the people of the State free and full enjoyment of judgement and conscience in matters of religion. He remained in England to watch over the interests of the Colony until 1664, and then returned to Newport and resumed the pastoral care of his church. Mr. Clarke and Mr. Williams, two fathers of the Colony, strenuously and fearlessly maintained that none but Jesus Christ had authority over the affairs of conscience. He died April 20, 1676, in the 66th year of his age, and is here interred.

    Of his visit to the site of John Clarke's grave, in 1854, J.R. Graves, on pages 14 and 15 of The First Baptist Church in America, wrote:

The worn appearance of the stone testifies to its extreme age, and the language and style of the epitaph witness that it has come down to us from "former generations"--the centuries past.

I unhesitatingly accepted this mural witness as unimpeachable, and studied it, examining and cross-examining it for the utmost syllable of its testimony.

On page 162 of The First Baptist Church in America, J.R. Graves wrote:

In the course of my reading I met with the following statements in Crosby, and in the history of the Philadelphia Association, to which I called the attention of Elder Adlam:

"When the First Church in Newport was one hundred years old, in 1738, Mr. John Callender, their minister, delivered and published a sermon on the occasion." Note on page 455.

That statement, made in a note at the bottom of page 455 of Minutes of the Philadelphia Association, published by the American Publication Society, is further evidence as to the correctness of the 1638 date.

    In 1663, a congregation was organized in Massachusetts, with John Miles as pastor. John Miles was pastor of a Baptist congregation at Swansea, in Wales, who came to America to escape persecution under Charles II. Page 61 of The American Baptist Heritage in Wales says:

It does not appear when Mr. Miles sailed for America, when he landed in that country, nor what family, friends, or neighbors accompanied him. The first account we have of him west of the Atlantic is in Mr. Backus' History [A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians Called Baptists. Isaac Backus] above referred to, Vol. 1, Page 353, naming Mr. Miles among the ejected ministers, it is added, "upon which, he and some of his friends came over to our country, and brought their church Records with them. And at Mr. Butterworth's in Rehobath, in 1663, John Miles, elder, James Brown, Nicholas Tanner, Joseph Carpenter, John Butterworth, Eldad Kingsley, and Benjamin Alby, joined in a solemn covenant together."

This was the first Baptist church in that part of America as noted above. It seems the men members of it were only seven. What number of women members there were we know not. It does not appear that any of the men members went with Miles to America, but Mr. Nicholas Tanner, said in the records to have been baptized on the 11th of the 11th month, 1651. This young church was then in Plymouth Colony; where they had quiet about four years: but at a court holden at Plymouth, 2nd July 1667, the society was fined in a considerable sum of money, and ordered to remove from that place. On the 30th of October ensuing, that court made them an ample grant in another place, which Mr. Miles and his friends called Swanzay. It seems they so spelled Swansea in Wales then. "There they made a regular settlement which has continued to this day . . . . Their first meeting house was built a little west of Kelly's Ferry, against Warren; but Mr. Miles settled the west side of the great bridge which still bears his name," Page 354.

    But what about Roger Williams? That is a situation similar to the John Smyth story. All reliable sources are in agreement with the following account of what happened in 1639 (one year after the organization of the congregation at Newport), from page 475, volume I, of A General History of the Baptist Denomination by David Benedict:

Being settled in this place, which, from the kindness of God to them, they called PROVIDENCE, Mr. Williams and those with him, considered the importance of Gospel Union, and were desirous of forming themselves into a church, but met with considerable obstruction; they were convinced of the nature and design of believer's baptism by immersion; but, from a variety of circumstances, had hitherto been prevented from submission. To obtain a suitable administrator was a matter of consequence: at length, the candidates for communion nominated and appointed Mr. Ezekiel Holliman, a man of gifts and piety, to baptize Mr. Williams; and who, in return, baptized Mr. Holliman and the other ten.

    It has been much alleged that the Baptists in America began with Roger Williams, and that Williams was the founder and first pastor of the First Baptist Church in Providence, but the facts, and the older records show that not to be the case. The whole mess, at least in great part, appears to have originated with the manufacture of history at the hand of John Stanford, who was pastor of "The First Church in Providence." Benedict says, on page 485, vol.I:

Thus far the history of this church has been transcribed from its records, which were set in order in 1775, by Rev. John Stanford, now of New-York, who was then preaching with them. This account, up to Dr. Manning's beginning in Providence, is found almost in the same form as here stated in Morgan Edward's MS. History, &c. prepared in 1771. It was published in Rippon's Register in 1802, and as it is well written, I have chosen to copy it without scarce any alteration.

J.R. Graves visited Benedict at his home in Pawtucket, R.I., and on page 21 of The First Baptist Church in America, wrote:

Touching the conflicting claims of the Newport and Providence churches above referred to, and his verdict in favor of Providence, expressed in his History, he remarked, that "it was his rule not to go behind the records of the churches. His verdict was in accordance with the records of the Providence church. If he had erred he had been misled by those records, and with no intention to disparage the claims of the Newport church. He admitted the growing perplexities that had for years confused and unsettled his mind as to the correctness of Mr. James [John] Stanford's history of the Providence church, compiled without any church record, and a full century after its origin. It would not be strange, but indeed probable, that errors, and not a few, would occur."

    John Callender was called as the sixth pastor of the First Baptist Church of Newport in 1731. In 1738, concerning the First Baptist Church at Providence, Callendar wrote:

The most ancient inhabitants now alive, some of them above eighty years old, who personally knew Mr. Williams, and were well aquainted with many of the original settlers, never heard that Mr. Williams formed the Baptist Church there, but always understood that Brown, Wickenden, or Wigginton, Dexter, Olney, Tillinghast, etc., were the first founders of that church.   [The First Baptist Church in America. J.R. Graves and S. Adlam, pages 137-138]

On pages 22 and 23 of A History of the Baptists in New England, Henry S. Burrage says:

Mr. Williams was baptized by Ezekiel Holliman, and he in turn baptized Holliman and "some ten more." But Williams remained only a few months in connection with the church. He had doubts in reference to the validity of his own baptism, and the baptism of his associates on account of the absence of "authorized administrators." For him there was no church and no ministry left. The apostolic succession was interrupted and apostolic authority had ceased. It was the baptizer, and not the baptism about which he doubted. He was a high church Anabaptist. He went out of the church, left his little congregation behind, preached when and where he could, and became a "seeker" the rest of his days. And during the rest of his days he never came to a "satisfying discovery" of a true church or ministry.

    In A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians Called Baptists, Isaac Backus wrote:

Mr. Williams had been accused before of embracing principles which tended to Anabaptism; and in March, 1639, he was baptized by one of his brethren, and then he baptized about ten more. But in July following, such scruples were raised in his mind about it, that he restrained from such administrations among them.

On pages 162 and 163 of The First Baptist Church in America, J.R. Graves introduced a quotation of Cotton Mather, from Thomas Crosby, with this:

This is Cotton Mather's testimony as to the perpetuity of Williams' informal society. If it was in existence when Mather wrote, he well knew it. If it dissolved when Williams left it, and repudiated it as a scriptural church, he knew it; and he says it "came to nothing," there was nothing left for even Mather to reproach, and Mather died in 1727-8:

The quotation of Mather, from Crosby (Vol.I, p.117) says:

One Roger Williams, a preacher, arrived in New England about the year 1630; was first an assistant in the church of Salem, and afterwards pastor. This man, a difference happening between the government and him, caused a great deal of trouble and vexation. At length the magistrates passed the sentence of banishment upon him, which when he removed with a few of his own sect and settled at a place called Providence. There they proceeded," says Mr. Mather, "not only unto the gathering of a thing like a church, but unto the renouncing of their infant baptism." After this, he says, "he turned Seeker and Familist, and the church came to nothing."    (Ecclesiastical History of New England, p.7, Cotton Mather).

It is conclusive that the Roger Williams organization "came to nothing" within about four months. Although it is known that there were members of the Newport congregation living at Providence, there are no known records, or hint of the existence, of a Baptist congregation at Providence until about 1652. In 1653 or 1654, there was a division in that congregation (the one organized at Providence in 1652), and a new one was organized with Gregory Dexter as pastor. Wickenden and Browne were apparently co-pastors, also. In The Baptist Succession, D.B. Ray says:

Gregory Dexter was a Baptist preacher in London, who came over to Providence, Rhode Island, in 1644. He was associated with Wickenden and Browne, as one of the founders of the present Providence first church.

The original congregation (organized in 1652) continued until about 1715 or 1718, when, "becoming destitute of an elder, the members were united with other churches," (Callender) and became extinct. The congregation of whom Dexter, Wickenden, and Browne were pastors, has continued to the present at Providence.

    Now, let us go back to the congregation at Newport, where John Clarke was pastor. History shows that many, many congregations throughout the country are descendants of that congregation. Another evil myth (like those of the Baptists being started with John Smyth or Roger Williams) is that effective mission work among Baptists is of modern origin. Effective in man's eyes, or God's? How much more effective can you get than doing something God's way? With even the very minimal amount of history I have related here in this book, it is clearly seen that members of Jesus' congregations, in every era, have gone into all the world, preaching the gospel, baptizing those whom God saves, and organizing them into true bodies of Christ, by His authority.

    In A Brief History of the First Baptist Church of Harrison, Ohio, Larry L. Burton and Berlin Hisel traced the geneology of the First Baptist Church of Harrison, step by step, back to the First Baptist Church of Newport, Rhode Island. After a paragraph about the organization of the First Baptist Church of Newport, Burton and Hisel wrote:

In about the middle of the 17th century, a Baptist minister, Elder Thomas Dungan from Ireland, left his native home to escape persecutions under King Charles II, and coming to Rhode Island, joined himself to Dr. Clarke's church. In 1684, Elder Dungan and a small group of members from the church in Newport came south to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and established as a church body there. This was the Cold Spring Baptist Church, and it was about three miles north of Bristol, Penn., not too far from Trenton. Elder Dungan was old when he came to America, and he died in 1688. But something he did just prior to his death has had lasting results.

That "something he [Dungan] did" was to be used of God to instruct and counsel Elias Keach, who was baptized and ordained at the Cold Spring Baptist Church. The circumstance, as recorded by Morgan Edwards in his Materials Toward a History of the Baptists of Pennsylvania, can be found on page 91, volume II, of A History of the Baptists by John Christian, or on pages 581 and 582, volume I, of A General History of the Baptist Denomination by David Benedict, and elsewhere. On pages 581 and 582, Benedict's History says, of Elias Keach:

He was son of the famous Benjamin Keach, of London; arrived in this country a very wild youth, about the year 1686. On his landing, he dressed in black, and wore a band, in order to pass for a minister. The project succeeded to his wishes, and many people resorted to hear the young London Divine. He performed well enough, till he had advanced pretty far in the sermon; then stopping short, he looked like a man astonished. The audience concluded he had been seized with a sudden disorder; but on asking what the matter was, received from him a confession of the imposture, with tears in his eyes, and much trembling. Great was his distress, though it ended happily; for from this time he dated his conversion. He heard of Mr. Dungan. To him he repaired to seek counsel and comfort, and by him he was baptized and ordained. From Coldspring, Mr. Keach came to Pennepek, and settled a church there as before related; and thence travelled through Pennsylvania and the Jersies, preaching the Gospel in the wilderness with great success, insomuch that he may be considered as the chief apostle of the Baptists in these parts of America. He and his family embarked for England, early in the spring of the year 1692, and afterwards became a very famous and successful minister in London.

    About the year 1702, the congregation at Cold Spring dissolved. In 1688, a congregation was organized at Pennepeck, in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, called the Lower Dublin Baptist Church. It is often referred to as "the Pennepeck Church." Elias Keach, missionary out of the congregation at Cold Spring, was called as their first pastor. Page 90 of volume II of A History of the Baptists by John T. Christian says:

The records of the church state that "by the good Providence of God, there came certain persons out of Radnorshire in Wales, over into this Province of Pennsylvania, and settled in the Township of Dublin, in the County of Philadelphia, viz.: John Eatton, George Eatton and Jane, his wife, Samuel Jones, and Sarah Eatton, who had all been Baptized upon Confession of Faith and Received into Communion of the Church of Christ meeting in the Parishes of Llandewi and Nantmel, in Radnorshire, Henry Gregory being Chief Pastor. Also John Baker who had been Baptized and was a member of a congregation of Baptized believers in Kilkenny, in Ireland, Christopher Blackwell, pastor, was in the providence of God settled in the township aforesaid. In the year 1687 there came one Samuel Vaus out of England, and settled near the aforesaid Township and went under the denomination of a Baptist and was so taken to be."

The next year Elias Keach came from London and baptized some persons. [There was two years interval between Keach's coming from London in 1686 and his settling at Pennepeck, in 1688, in which he was a member of the congregation at Cold Spring, as described previously. S.F.] Twelve entered into church relations and chose Mr. Keach as pastor. Soon after, a few Baptists from this province and West Jersey joined them, also some persons baptized at the Falls, Cold Spring, Burlington, Cohansey, Salem, Penn's Neck, Chester, Philadelphia and elsewhere united with the church. These were all in one church, and Pennepeck was the center of the union, where as many as could met to celebrate the Lord's Supper. Quarterly meetings were held in other places to accommodate the members there. From this church went out many others. . . . (Horatio Gates Jones, The Baptists in Pennsylvania. Being a sketch of the Pennepeck or Lower Dublin Baptist Church. The Historical Magazine, August, 1868. New Series, IV. 76).

Benedict adds, on page 581, that:

Thus, for some time, continued their Zion with lengthened cords, till the brethren in remote parts set about forming themselves into distinct churches, which began in 1699. By these detachments it was reduced to narrow bounds, but continued among the churches, as a mother in the midst of many daughters.

    In 1701, sixteen people were organized as a Baptist congregation in South Wales, and came, as a complete body with Thomas Griffith as pastor, to America on the ship named "James and Mary." In History of the Welsh Baptists, J. Davis says, on page 72:

In the year 1701, he [Thomas Griffiths] and fifteen of the members of the church went to America in the same vessel. They formed themselves into a church at Milford, in the county of Pembroke, South Wales, and Thomas Griffiths became their pastor in the month of June, 1701. They embarked on board the ship James and Mary, and on the 8th day of September following, they landed at Philadelphia. The brethren there treated them courteously, and advised them to settle about Pennepeck. Thither they went, and there continued about a year and a half. During that time twenty-one persons joined them, but finding it inconvenient to abide there, they purchased land in the county of Newcastle, and gave it the name of Welsh Tract, where they built a meeting-house, and Thomas Griffiths labored among them as their pastor till he died, on the 25th of July, 1725, aged eighty years.

On pages 106 and 107 of The American Baptist Heritage in Wales, we have, preserved by Joshua Thomas, the following account of the "extracts" translated into English by later members of that congregation from their records which were kept in Welsh until 1732:

"In the year 1701, there was a number of the members of the Baptist churches in the counties of Pembroke, Carmarthen, and Cardigan inclined to emigrate to Pennsylvania. Having consulted among themselves, they laid the case before the churches, who agreed to grant them leave to go. But the churches considered that as they were sixteen members and one of them a minister, it would be better for them to be constituted a church in their native land; they agreed and did so. Being thus formed into a church, they gave them a letter of recommendation for their reception as brethren, should they meet any Christians of the same faith and practice. They sailed from Milford-Haven in June that year, and arrived in Philadelphia in September.

They met with kind reception from the church meeting at Pennepec and Philadelphia. They spent about a year and a half in that vicinity, in a dispersed way. These new comers kept their meetings weekly and monthly among themselves: but held Christian conference with the other church, with which they wholly agreed but in the article of Laying on of hands, to which the newcomers strictly adhered: but the majority of the other church opposed it. In the year and a half that way they had two and twenty added to them, which probably made 38. But at the end of this term, these with others from Wales, purchased a large tract of land in Newcastle county on Delaware, which in their own language, they called Rhandiry cymrn, but being turned into English, Welshtract. This was in the year 1703, and in the same year they built their meeting house. In the extract the names of the sixteen are given, there Thomas Griffiths is called pastor; and Elisha Thomas is called Elijeus Thomas. There also they give the names of the two and twenty added, as above. . . .

And on the next page:

"There were thirteen added to them the first after their abode at the Tract, two by letters from Wales, and eleven by Baptism, and in a few years they became numerous, many were added to them from different churches in Wales, and large additions yearly by personal profession before the church; so that in a few years a hundred and twelve were added to the first thirty-eight, and many of these were gifted brethren, in all 150." But probably some had died.

Also on page 108, Thomas says:

Mr. Morgan Edwards, author of the Materials [Materials Toward a History of the Baptists of Pennsylvania], in a letter to the writer of this dated 5th Nov. 1784, says "Mr. Joshua Edwards was born in Pembrokeshire Feb. 11th 1703, landed (in America) about 1721, was ordained July 15th 1751, was alive in 1772, had eleven children, but had not the particular care of any church." Then in the same letter he informs, that about the year 1737, about thirty members from Welshtract removed to Peedee, in South Carolina, and there formed a church in 1738, which church is now (said he then) shot into five branches, that is Cashawa, Catfish, Capefear, Linches Creek, and Mar's Bluff or Cliff. Mr. Joshua Edwards is one of the ministers who served those churches lately.

Mr. (now Dr.) J. Jones, in a letter of June 1784, said that he assisted at the constitution of a branch of Welshtract church, in Nov. 1780. That new church is called London tract; the minister Mr. Thomas Fleeson. He mentions another church formed out of it, but does not give the name.

    For several years, many Baptists came to America from Wales and England. Many Baptist preachers were sent from the congregations there, to work in America. From pages 76 and 77 of The American Baptist Heritage in Wales is the following letter of reccomendation, which is a sample of the order practiced among the Lord's congregations:

South Wales in Great Britain

The church of Jesus Christ meeting at Swansea, in Glamorganshire, teaching believers baptism, laying on of hands, the doctrine of personal election, and final perseverance. To any church of Christ Jesus in the province of Pennsylvania, in America, of the same faith and order to whom this may concern. Send Christian Salutation: Grace, mercy, and peace be multiplied unto you from God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dearly beloved, Brethren in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Where as our dearly beloved brethren and sisters by name, Hugh David, an ordained minister, and his wife Margaret, Anthony Matthew, Simon Matthew, Morgan Thomas, Samuel Hugh, Simon Butler, Arthur Melchoir, and Hannah his wife, design by God's permission to come with Mr. Sereney to the fore said province of Pennsylvania: This is to testify unto you, that all the above names are in full communion with us, and we commit them, all of them to your Christian care, beseeching you therefore to receive them in the Lord, watch over them, and perform all Christian duties toward them as becometh Christians to their fellow members. So we commit you and them to the Lord, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you and them up in the most holy faith. May the God of peace ever sanctify you wholly, and that your, and their spirits, souls, and bodies, may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ shall be the earnest prayers of your brethren in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel.

Dated the 30th of the 7th month 1710: signed at our meeting by a part for the whole:

Morgan Jones, John David, William Matthew, Jacob Morgan, Owen Dowle, Morgan Nichols, John Howell, Hugh Matthew, Robert Edwards, John Hughs, Philip Matthew, Thomas Morgan, William Morgan, (and another name not legible).

According to the minutes of the Philadelphia Baptist Association (1707-1807), Morgan Edwards, J. Davis, Joshua Thomas, and others, Hugh Davis (spelled David in the above letter) and fifteen others organized a congregation at Great Valley, Chester County, Pennsylvania, April 22, 1711, and chose Hugh Davis as pastor.

    In 1710, Nathaniel Jenkins, who was born in Cardiganshire, Wales, in 1678, came to America, and became the first pastor of a congregation of Baptists constituted in 1712 at Cape May, New Jersey. (A General History of the Baptist Denomination by David Benedict, vol.I, p.570)

    Abel Morgan, born in 1637 at Llanwenog, in Carmarthen County, Wales, began preaching at nineteen years old. He was ordained at Blaenegwent, in Monmouthshire, and arrived in America on February 14, 1711, and pastored the congregation at Lower-Dublin, at Pennepek, Pennsylvania (mentioned earlier), until he died December 16, 1722. (Benedict, vol.I, p.583)

    By migration, sometimes by choice and many times by persecution, and the mission efforts of these and other congregations and their descendant congregations, God used them to take the truth into New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, the Carolinas, and other surrounding territories. People who were saved by God's grace and baptized under the authority granted these congregations by Jesus, covenanted themselves together and were organized into new congregations of Jesus' after the New Testament pattern.

    Robert Nordin and Thomas White were ordained in London, and sent by the General Baptists to Virginia in 1714. Benedict says:

But White died by the way, and Nordin arrived in Virginia, and gathered a church at a place called Burley, in the county of the Isle of Wight. [vol.II, pages 23-24]

Robert Nordin died in 1725. In 1727, Richard Jones and Casper Mintz came from England to Burley, and Jones became their pastor.

On page 25, Benedict says:

In 1756, the church at Burley sent the following letter to the Philadelphia Association:

"The church of Jesus Christ in Isle of Wight county, holding adult baptism, &c. to the Reverend and General Assembly or Association at Philadelphia, send greeting. We the above mentioned church, confess ourselves to be under clouds of darkness, concerning the faith of Jesus Christ, not knowing whether we are on the right foundation, and the church much unsettled; wherefore, we desire alliance with you, and that you will be pleased to send us helps, to settle the church, and rectify what may be wrong; and subsribe ourselves, your loving brethren in Christ, Casper Mintz, Richard Jones, Randal Allen, Joseph Mattgum, Christopher Atkinson, Benjamin Atkinson, Thomas Cafer, Samuel Jones, William Jordan, John Allen, John Powell, Joseph Atkinson.--Dec. 27, 1756."

Shortly afterwards, according to Morgan Edwards, the congregation at Burley "was broken up, partly by sickness, and partly by the removal of families from hence to North-Carolina, where they gained many proselytes, and in ten years became sixteen churches." [Benedict, vol.II, p.24] Of them, Benedict says, on page 98 of vol.II, that:

These people were all General Baptists, and those of them who emigrated from England, came out from that community there. And although some of their ministers were evangelical and pure, and the members regular and devout; yet, on the whole, it appears to have been the most negligent and the least spiritual community of Baptists, which has arisen on the American continent. For so careless and indefinite were they in their requisitions, that many of their communicants were baptized and admitted into their churches; and even some of their ministers were introduced into their sacred functions, without an experimental acquaintance with the gospel, or without being required to possess it. It does not appear that they extended the bounds of their communion to any but those of their own order; but so loose and indefinite were their terms in other respects, that all, who professed a general belief in the truths of the gospel, submitted to baptism, and religiously demeaned themselves, were admitted to it.

In this situation, this cluster of churches continued, until more orthodox principles were introduced, and a spirit of reformation began to prevail, which finally leavened nearly the whole body, and transformed it into an Association of Calvinistick, or as they were then called, Regular Baptists.

John Gano, Benjamin Miller, and Peter P. Vanhorn were instrumental in that transformation. On page 99, Benedict says:

Mr. Gano was sent out by the Philadelphia Association, with general and indefinite instructions, to travel in the southern States, &c. He, on his return, represented the melancholly condition of this people to the Association, who appointed Messrs. Miller and Vanhorn for the special purpose of instructing and reforming them. Mr. Gano appears to have shaken the old foundation, and begun the preparation of the materials which Messrs. Miller and Vanhorn organized into regular churches.

Probably, the first Baptist congregation in North Carolina was organized more than twenty years earlier, about 1727. It was gathered by Paul Palmer at a place called Perquimans, on Chowan-river. He was born in Maryland, and baptized at Welsh tract.

    In 1683, some Baptists moved to near Charleston, South Carolina, from Piscataway, in Maine, to escape persecution by the Pedobaptists of New England. They organized a congregation, with William Screven as pastor, and about the same time were joined by some emigrating from England, who were Particular Baptists. [Benedict, vol.II, p.120] On May 24, 1736, twenty-eight members of that Congregation at Charleston were organized into a separate congregation at Ashley River. [Benedict, vol.II, p.125] The following year, in 1737, thirty members moved from Welsh Tract church [mentioned earlier], to South Carolina, and constituted the third congregation of Baptists in that state. David Benedict gives the following account on page 130, vol.II, of A General History of the Baptist Denomination:

This church was at first called Pedee, from the circumstance of its being situated on the Great Pedee-river, 60 miles north of Georgetown; but when other branches were settled on the same river, it became necessary to give this a more special name, and accordingly the compound name of Welsh-Neck was selected, which is descriptive of the people who founded the church, and of its local and peninsulated situation. This church originated in the following manner: In the year 1737, the following Baptist members of the Welsh-Tract church, which was then in the province of Pennsylvania, but now in the State of Delaware, arrived here; viz. James James, Esq. and wife, and three sons, Philip, who was their minister, Abel, Daniel, and their wives; Daniel Devonald and wife, Thomas Evans and wife, one other of the same name and his wife; John Jones and his wife, three of the Harrys, Thomas, David, and John and his wife; Samuel Wilds and wife, Samuel Evans and wife, Griffith Jones and wife, and David and Thomas Jones and their wives. These thirty members, with their children and households, settled at a place called Catfish, on Pedee-river, but they soon removed about fifty miles higher up the same river, where they made a permanent settlement, and where they all, except James James, Esq. who died at Catfish, were embodied into a church, Jan. 1738.

    Now, let us go back to Virginia, where a congregation was organized on Opeckon Creek in 1751. Volume II, pages 26 and 27, of Benedict's History says:

In the year 1743, a number of the members of the General Baptist church at Chesnut Ridge, in Maryland, removed to Virginia, and settled in this place; the most noted of whom were Edward Hays and Thomas Yates. Soon after their removal, their minister, Henry Loveall, followed them, and baptized about fifteen persons, whom he formed into a church on the Arminian plan. Mr. Loveall, becoming licentious in his life, was turned out of the church [Life of Gano, pp.40 and 50], and returned to Maryland; and the church was broken up, or rather transformed into a church of Particular Baptists, in 1751, by the advice and assistance of Messrs. James Miller, David Thomas, and John Gano, who was, at that time, very young. Mr. Miller had visited this church in some of his former journies, and had been instrumental of much good among them; and when they, in their troubles occasioned by Loveall's misconduct, petitioned the Philadelphia Association for some assistance, he and Mr. Thomas were appointed by the Association for the purpose. Mr. Gano, though not appointed, chose to accompany them. The account of this transaction is thus given by Mr. Gano: "We examined them, and found that they were not a regular church. We then examined those who offered themselves for the purpose, and those who gave us satisfaction, we received, and constituted a new church. Out of the whole who offered themselves, there were only three received. Some openly declared, they knew they could not give an account of experiencing a work of grace, and therefore need not offer. Others stood ready to offer, if a church was formed. The three beforementioned were constituted, and six more were baptized and joined with them.

    The congregation at Opeckon united with the Philadelphia Association soon afterwards, in the same year. Congregations in the Philadelphia Association continued to send missionaries to Virginia, as well as many other places. Some of those emigrating from England were Particular Baptists. As the population grew, and evangelistic efforts continued, new congregations were organized. In 1760, the above mentioned David Thomas moved, permanently, from Pennsylvania to Virginia, where he worked for thirty years, and then moved to Kentucky. Imprisoned Preachers and Religious Liberty in Virginia, by Lewis Peyton Little, says, on pages 76 and 77, that:

David Thomas was the first Baptist preacher to carry the gospel into Orange County. This occurred in 1763. Then came Samuel Harriss in 1765. James Read became an early co-laborer with Samuel Harriss, and by the labors of these three many converts were made, among whom were Lewis Craig, Elijah Craig, Nathaniel Saunders and Lewis Conner.

"When Mr. Harris left them he exhorted them to be steadfast and advised some in whom he discovered talents, to commence the exercise of their gifts, and to hold meetings among themselves. * * * The young converts took his advice, and began to hold meetings every Sabbath, and almost every night in the week, taking a tobacco house for the meeting house." (Semple's History (1810),p.8)

    On November 20, 1767, a congregation was organized with twenty-five members, called Upper Spottsylvania. In November, 1770, Lewis Craig was ordained and became pastor at Upper Spottsylvania. [A History of Kentucky Baptists by J.H. Spencer, p.27, vol. I.] Baptist preachers were regularly whipped, jailed, fined, and otherwise persecuted in Virginia at that time. On page 29 and 30, vol.I, of A History of Kentucky Baptists, Spencer says:

As has been stated, Mr. Craig was ordained to the pastoral office, in November, 1770. But this did not prevent his preaching abundantly in all the surrounding country. In 1771, he was arrested in Caroline county, where he was committed to prison and remained in jail three months. Before he left Virginia, he was instrumental in gathering at least three churches in Dover Association-Tuckahoe, Upper King & Queen, and Essex. During a revival in Upper Spotsylvania, in 1776, over one hundred were added to its membership. This church prospered as long as Mr. Craig remained with it in its first location. . . . . . . . . . .

Mr. Craig continued to serve Upper Spottsylvania church as pastor, till 1781, when he moved to Kentucky. So strongly was the church attached to him, that most of its members came with him. At exactly what time in the fall they started has not been ascertained. But Mr. Craig was on the Holsten river on the road leading from his former home, by way of Cumberland Gap, to his destination in Kentucky, on the 28th of September, 1781; for on that day, he aided in constituting a church at that point, then in the extreme western settlement in Virginia.

Dr. S.H. Ford, in the Christian Repository of March, 1856, says of Craig and his traveling charge: "About the 1st of December, they passed the Cumberland Gap, . . . and on the second Lord's day in December, 1781, they had arrived in Lincoln (now Garrard Co.), and met as a Baptist church of Christ at Gilberts Creek. Old William Marshall preached to them, with their pastor, the first Sunday after their arrival."

That congregation at Gilberts Creek was, as far as is known, the third of its kind in Kentucky. The first, Severns Valley, (near Elizabethtown) had been constituted earlier the same year, on June 18, 1781, with 18 members, and on the same day ordained John Gerrard as pastor. On page 21, vol. I, of A History of Kentucky Baptists, Spencer quotes Samuel Haycraft in the Christian Repository of April, 1857, in which he says:

When this present wide-spread and favored country was but a wilderness; when not a human habitation was to be found between Louisville (then called the Falls of the Ohio,) and Green river, save a few families, who had ventured to Severn's Valley--a dense forest, and unexplored--and commenced a rude settlement far from the haunts of civilized man; there the lamented John Gerrard, a minister of God, came like John the Baptist, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness," and finding a few desciples of the Lord Jesus Christ like sheep without a shepherd, on the 18th day of June, 1781, they were collected together under a green sugar tree; and in the fear of God, in church covenant gave themselves to the Lord and to one another, and were constituted a Baptist Church, named after Severns Valley and the creek which flows through it.

Sixteen days later, another was organized. On page 23, vol. I, Spencer says:

Cedar Creek church was the second organized in Kentucky. It was gathered by Joseph Barnett who was assisted in its constitution by John Gerrard, July 4, 1781. It is located in Nelson county, about five miles south-west from Bardstown.

    Now, back to the congregation at Gilberts Creek, of which, on page 31, vol.I, Spencer says that:

It continued to prosper under the care of Mr. Craig, till 1783, when he and most of the members moved across Kentucky river, and formed South Elkhorn church. . . .

Immediately after moving to Fayette county, in 1783, Mr. Craig gathered South Elkhorn church, and was chosen its pastor. He occupied this position, about nine years, laboring abundantly in all the surrounding country. During this period, Elkhorn Association was formed, and many other preachers moved to that region of the country.

    During the years that followed, many other congregations were organized. One of the most sound congregations in existence today was organized just five years later at Bryants Station, now written Bryan Station. On page 112, vol.I, of A History of Kentucky Baptists, J.H.Spencer says:

The church at this point was probably gathered by Augustine Eastin, and was constituted by Lewis Craig and other "helps," on the third Saturday in April, 1786. The following eight persons were in the constitution. Augustine Eastin, Henry Roach, Wm. Tomlinson, Wm. Ellis, sr., Joseph Rogers, Ann Rogers, Elizabeth Darnaby and Elizabeth Rice.

About a month later, Ambrose Dudley became the first pastor at Bryants Station. Ambrose Dudley came from Spottsylvania County, Virginia. On page 113, vol.I, Spencer says, of Dudley, that:

After preaching with much acceptance several years he moved with his young family to Kentucky, arriving at his destination, six miles east of Lexington, May 3, 1786. Within a few weeks after his arrival he took charge of the church at Bryant's. Here and at David's Fork church, and perhaps at other points, he ministered till the Master took him to himself.

About two months later, a congregation was organized nearby, at Town Fork. On page 115, vol.I, Spencer says:

It was constituted of about ten members, in July, 1786, by Lewis Craig, John Taylor, Ambrose Dudley and Augustine Eastin.

    John Gano, who has been earlier mentioned, became the first pastor at Town Fork. These congregations, and others, continued to multiply, both near and far. Page 220 of A General History of the Baptist Denomination by David Benedict, vol.II, says:

The church at the Mouth of Sulphur Fork is the oldest now in existence [1813] in West-Tennessee. It was constituted in 1791, by the assistance of Elder Ambrose Dudley and John Taylor, from the Elkhorn Association in Kentucky. These ministers by request of the brethren in this place travelled not far from two hundred miles, mostly through a wilderness, where they were continually exposed to be destroyed by the Indians. This church was at first called Tennessee; it united with the Elkhorn Association, where it continued until the Mero District Association was formed. This church remained alone in the wilderness, having no other within more than a hundred miles of it, until 1794, when that on White's Creek in Davidson county, about six miles to the north of Nashville, was gathered.

    Lengthy as it has become, this is but a very brief sketch of history of some of Jesus' congregations, hopefully arousing an increased awareness and appreciation of how that He has propagated them, just as He promised, almost two-thousand years ago. Although they have been despised, persecuted, and most of the time seen in the world's eyes as insignificant, there has been a continued existence of Jesus' kind of congregation ever since He built the first one as a pattern and declared, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). It is very clear that it was Jesus' intention that His kind of congregation continue until the day that all the saved are called up to meet Him in the air. Matthew 16:18 sounds like Jesus was confident in His ability to preserve His kind of congregation. He surely would not make such a bold statement and undertake something that He would not be able to accomplish. To have done so would have been to ignore His own advice in Luke 14:28-31, where He said:

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

    The counterfeiters of Christianity have assailed and taunted Jesus' congregations with John Smyth and Roger Williams fables, "universal church" theories, and other such absurdities, until the day has come when most, unaware of their own heritage, and weak in the faith, have sold, or are about to sell, their birthright for a mess of unionism and compromise.

    If God is able to create man, and accomplish a continued existence of the human race by procreation, through fire, flood, famine, and disease, for six thousand years without any change of method, and is able to save lost sinners and keep them saved throughout all eternity without any change of method, He is surely able to accomplish the perpetuity and baptismal succession of His congregations without any change of method for two thousand years! Is God sovereign or not? He is not just partly sovereign, He either is, or is not. My God is sovereign! "He's got the whole wide world in his hands."

    Rather than be repetitious of matters already discussed in this and previous chapters, allow me to simply re-state some conclusions drawn that are relative to the subject at hand.

*Jesus built something that He called His ekklesia, which can best be translated in English as assembly, or congregation.

*Jesus built His congregation as a pattern by which He would build all others.

*Jesus' kind of congregation is spoken of as a body, is compared to a human body, is claimed to be a body of Christ, with Him and no other as its head.

*Jesus has given a commission exclusively to His bodies, with the promise of perpetuity.

*A congregation ceases to be Jesus' congregation when He is no longer its head or when it is no longer declaring the true gospel, in word or in picture, regardless of its past virtue or the name over its door.

    In following these conclusions, we are immediately led to the fact that when one of Jesus' congregations compromises the truth of the gospel in its preaching, either verbally, or in its practice or typology, regardless of man's opinion or designation, that congregation forfeits its status as one of Jesus' congregations, as well as its authority to administer a baptism that is acceptable to God. Now, this brings it down to the point that we begin to feel uncomfortable, and many will say that that is drawing the line too close, but what does God say? Has God passed some ammendments to His Word, or is the Bible still to be our final authority for all faith and practice?

    When a congregation receives a person as a member, whose baptism was administered by another congregation, organization, or individual, that congregation is declaring that that baptism in its entirety (administrator, mode, candidate, authority, and design and purpose) is acceptable. When they declare that it is acceptable, and it is not, they are declaring a lie. People often take offense at the "L" word, but it is a Bible word. The receiving and approving congregation is declaring that the "picture preaching" of the administrator is acceptable, and in doing so, declaring that they are alike, that they are fellows, that one is as good as the other in that respect. Any congregation knowingly, without repentence and rectification of the matter, making such a false declaration, CANNOT be Jesus' kind of congregation, though they may have been yesterday.

    The same conclusion must be drawn concerning pulpit affiliation. When a congregation knowingly and willfully places someone in their pulpit who, by their affiliation with some denomination, professes belief in, or allowance for, a salvation that is not wholly of grace (obtained by praying through, holding on, holding out, baptism, membership, sacraments, easy believism, or any other works of man), that congregation is showing approval of the same and is partaker of the evil deeds. To be consistent, I believe we must say the same for those who "minister in song." The same reasoning must be applied in the sending and supporting of missionaries. Participation and dabbling in such practices must be considered as spiritual adultery, just as the idolatry of the Israelites. Any carelessness, compromise, and indiscretion in those regards should be considered as conduct unbecoming of any engaged to be the bride of Christ.

    Whenever those practices surface within a body, where there still exists a congregation of true disciples who are committed to going "fully after the LORD," there will be a reaction. The true disciples will rebuke and try to counsel and correct those in error. If the counsel is accepted, repentance and rectification will take place. If the admonition is not accepted, those in error are to be rejected (Titus 3:10, Romans 16:17, and II Timothy 3:5). If the true disciples find themselves the minority, and their admonition rejected, they must "come out from among them," and be separate (II Corinthians 6:17), and the Head, and the authority will go with them. That is what happened to the Novations, Donatists, and others, in the third century. Their refusal to accept the defective baptism of those in error resulted in the label of Anabaptist, which has been given the Lord's congregations all the way into the nineteenth century.

    Study Revelation 2:1-7, with the interpretation given in Revelation 1:20. In those verses, Jesus dictated a letter addressed to the pastor of the congregation at Ephesus. In that letter, Jesus made the accusation that, "thou hast left thy first love." The first love of any person that has been saved by the grace of God should be a love for God and all that He is. I John 4:19 says, "We love him, because he first loved us." We can not really love the real Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living God, without a jealous and fervent love for truth. In John 14:6, Jesus declared that He, Himself, is the truth. The love for truth, especially in regard to salvation and the gospel, will be directly proportional to our love for God. The plea and advice given to that pastor was, "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works" (preach and uphold all the truth). The consequence of not doing so was that Jesus would remove His congregation from that place, "quickly," and we can be sure that Jesus, and its authority, went with it.

    Just the fact someone calls something "the gospel" does not make it the true gospel. Just the fact that someone calls something "baptism" does not make it acceptable to God. Just the fact that someone calls something "a church" does not make it the Lord's.

    So, what happens when a true congregation of Jesus' shows its approval of the preaching or the baptism of something that claims to be the same, uses the same name, and claims to be of like faith and order, but are known to be guilty of the errors discussed above? I believe the answer is obvious. Irregular congregations are not to be given approval or recognition by Jesus' congregations. We are to "mark" them, and "avoid" them. The scriptural reaction is:

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.  For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.   (Romans 16:17-18)

Before going this far with the subject, someone will usually say, "Perhaps you have not considered all the implications of this." I have. I have seriously considered the implications (and there are many) of this stand for the past fifteen years, and have made an intense study of the subject for five years. We had better be concerned with the implications of rejecting and disobeying an unchanging God's instructions in such an important matter! What will be God's reaction to those who are willing to advance a false gospel? "The pillar and ground of the truth" (I Timothy 3:15) must uphold the truth. We must take side with God, even if it causes the sky to fall on the front steps, and causes the creek to run backward.

    Truth cannot be altered. Our fear of implications or disregard for reality does not change the truth. It appears that these doctrines are often shunned or rejected out of fear that one's own baptism will be proven irregular. If such information were to ever be made manifest that would indicate that my baptism is improper, I pray that God will grant me the soundness of mind to get it done right and to not worry about implications.

    Congregations finding their garments dirtied by their affairs with false religion and false doctrine must "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works." For disciples finding themselves in unrepentant company, it is high time to "come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. . . ."

    Many have assumed that Jesus has given His congregations all power in heaven and in earth, but He has not. Jesus declared, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth," but He has never transferred or assigned all power to anyone or anything. He has given much power to His kind of congregation, but He is still the head. Jesus certainly has not authorized His congregations, or anyone else, to disobey, or to change the rules as we go. As already seen, Jesus not only gave His congregations the exclusive authority to teach and to baptize, but has commissioned them to. They are, of course, by design, authorized to do such things as purchase and own buildings and property, use electricity, choose furniture, have a bank account, and other things of expediency, but never to disobey, or to teach false doctrine. Jesus' congregations have the authority to bind only in accordance with what has been bound in heaven. They have the authority to loose only in accordance with what has been loosed in heaven. Our binding and loosing must be confined to the limits predetermined by God in heaven (Matthew 16:19, 18:18).

    Many, many congregations and pastors have been seduced into apostasy by peer pressure, association, pride, and ambition, resulting from participation in various schemes that men have invented for the execution of mission work, training, pension plans, and other programs by boards, or co-operative arrangements rather than adhering to Jesus' method. Jesus authorized His congregations, exclusively, as the only kind of organization authorized to do His work. They are His bodies. Jesus has not given His congregations the authority, nor permission, to delegate, or re-assign that authority to anything other than one of His congregations.

    To be consistent with the belief in an unchanging God, with unchanging ways, and an unchanging plan of salvation, we are forced to admit that the qualifications, consequences, and implications of apostasy are the same today as they were when the New Testament was written. God has not issued a "grandfather clause", nor does He make any exceptions just because someone continues to use (abuse) a good name. Those who refuse to have Christ as their head today are just as much in error as those from whom the Novations and Donatists withdrew in the third century.

    Since the succession of authority is lost in apostacy, and in consideration of the facts of history, it is conclusive that the only true congregations of Jesus in existence today are found among those known as Baptists, and sadly, we must say, most congregations by that name have also fallen away.

    If we use the New Testament as the "measuring stick," the latest date that we could credit the Catholics, either Roman or Greek, with any possibility of having any succession of authority is about the year 251, before they were ever known as catholic, when the irregular and apostate congregations, being rebuked for their errors, refused to repent and submit to Christ as their head and choosing, instead, to do as they pleased. In 313, only sixty-two years later, they openly acknowledged Constantine as their head rather than Christ.

    None of the Protestant denominations existed until the sixteenth century, with whatever authority they may claim coming from the Roman Catholics who had no authority from God, and possessing a "baptism" that was no baptism.

    The Lutheran Church was started in 1520 by Martin Luther, with Roman Catholic "baptism." The Episcopal, or Church of England, was started in 1534 by King Henry VIII, with Roman Catholic "baptism." The Presbyterian Church was started two years later, in 1536, by John Calvin, also with Roman Catholic "baptism." The Reformed Churches originated late in the sixteenth centuy, being, as the name would suggest, a product of the Reformation, with a "baptism" received from the Roman Catholics or Presbyterians. Congregationalism was started in 1580 or 1581, by Robert Browne, in Norwich, England, with Church of England "baptism." The Methodist Church was started sometime around 1740, by John and Charles Wesley, with Church of England "baptism."

    It was noticed earlier, the presence of those who were called General Baptists, in England, who were of Arminian persuasion, and the earlier appearance of some in Virginia, but, as David Benedict wrote, in 1813, on pages 410 and 411, volume II, of A General History of the Baptist Denomination:

. . . there has always been some churches and many individuals, who have objected to some of the strong points of Calvinism, or adopted them with some peculiar modifications; but no very considerable party of this character arose, until a little more than thirty years ago, when one was founded by Elder Benjamin Randal, of New Durham, New-Hampshire. This Elder Randal, as his biographer observes, was led, about 1780, "to object against the whole doctrine of John Calvin, with respect to eternal, particular, personal, unconditional election and reprobation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A number soon fell in with his views, broke off from the Calvinistick churches in New-Hampshire and the District of Maine, and from a small beginning they have arisen to a large community, which is scattered in different parts of Maine, New-Hampshire, Vermont, New-York, the Canadas, and in some other places.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . This party was as strenuous for believers' baptism as before; they were, like all new sects, very sanguine in their new discoveries, and from a distinguished article in their doctrinal system, they were denominated Free-will Baptists.

They, in teaching that salvation is obtained or lost as much or more by man's will and works, reject the salvation taught by Jesus and the apostles, and thereby teach a "gospel" that is no gospel, and administer a "baptism" that is no baptism.

    The Christian Church, or Disciples of Christ, was started in the early 1800's by the work of Alexander Campbell. World Book Encyclopedia (1985) says, with a note that the article was "Critically reviewed by the Disciples of Christ," that:

Disciples of Christ is a Protestant denomination that developed in the United States during the early 1800's. Its full name is the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Its founders included three men of Presbyterian background--Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander in Pennsylvania and Barton W. Stone in Kentucky. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thomas and Alexander Campbell were Presbyterians who came from Scotland, to Pennsylvania, and, adopting immersion as the only proper mode of baptism, sought and recieved a supposed Baptist baptism. In 1823, Alexander Campbell began the monthly publication of The Christian Baptist by which he sowed much discord and false doctrine, especially throughout Pennsylvania and Kentucky. On pages 609 and 610 of A History of Kentucky Baptists, volume I, J.H. Spencer says:

Up to August, 1829, Mr. Campbell was a member of a society, recognized as a Baptist church. This church was a member of Mahoning Baptist Association. Mr. Campbell's influence was so great, both in the church of which he was a member, and the small association to which it belonged, that, notwithstanding his known and publicly avowed heterodoxy, neither had he been disciplined by his church for heresy, nor his church by its association for retaining him as a member. The Baptist denomination was therefore, held responsible for his teaching. The Baptists, generally, were becoming very restless under this exceedingly odious responsibility, while his disciples were daily multiplying in the Baptist churches, and becoming more bold and confident in proclaiming his heresies,under the pseudonym of the "ancient gospel."

In August, 1829, Beaver Association, a small Baptist fraternity in Pennsylvania, met at Providence meeting-house, near Pittsburg, and, after discussing the subject of Mr. Campbell's teaching, resolved to withdraw fellowship from Mahoning Association, on account of its maintaining, or countenancing, the following sentiments, or creed:

1. They maintain that there is no promise of salvation without baptism.

2. That baptism should be administered to all who say that Jesus Christ is the son of God, without examination on any other point.

3. That there is no direct operation of the Holy Spirit, on the mind, prior to baptism.

4. That baptism produces the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

5. That the Scriptures are the only evidence of interest in Christ.

6. That obedience places it in God's power to elect to salvation.

7. That no creed is necessary for the church but the Scriptures as they stand.

8. That all baptized persons have a right to administer the ordinance of baptism.

This is believed to have been the first official declaration of nonfellowship for Mr. Campbell and his followers. The other associations corresponding with Mahoning, withdrew fellowship from it, during the same, and the following month.

The following pages of Spencer's History relate the like action taken by congregations and associations throughout Virginia and Kentucky, where the Campbellite heresy had infiltrated some of the Baptist congregations in their areas. Although Campbell and his disciples practiced the proper mode (immersion only), and some of the congregations might have once had authority, in teaching and practicing the immersion for obtaining salvation, they rejected Jesus' salvation by grace through faith alone, and in so doing, rejected His authority as well. In immersing a person thinking himself to be a lost sinner until the act was completed, they were immersing an improper candidate. They were and are, therefore, immersing an improper candidate for an improper purpose with improper authority.

    At about the same time, the Primitive Baptists, or "Hard-Shell Baptists," were started in much the same way as the Campbellites by the work of Daniel Parker. Not only is being "missionary" an integral and inseparable part of the commission given by Jesus to His congregations in Matthew 28:19-20, mission activity is seen to have been practiced in every age by His true congregations. Spencer, speaking of the Baptists in Kentucky in regard to this subject and period of time, on page 581, volume I, says that in 1820, "The spirit of missions had been greatly revived and the churches were contributing more liberally to Foreign Missions than those of any other portion of the United states." In 1820, and again in 1824, Daniel Parker published a 38 page Pamphlet titled, "A Public Address to the Baptist Society," in opposition to the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. Two years later, about 1826, Parker published a pamphlet on his "Doctrine of the Two-Seeds," and in 1829, he began a monthly publication called The Church Advocate, devoted to the opposition of missions. [Spencer, pages 576-578, volume I.] The spread of Parker's propaganda resulted in the splitting of some congregations and associations, about the year 1832, with the seceders adopting the Anti-mission, Two-seedism, and Non-resurrectionism doctrines of Parker. In The Baptist Succession, D.B. Ray says, on pages 93-94, that:

This secession, upon the part of our Anti-mission brethren, occurred at different times in different parts of the country. In Virginia, the separation took place in the year, 1832. Elder S. Trott, an "Old School Baptist" of distinction, says of the separation:

" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . We took as a distinguishing appelation the name, 'Old School Baptists'." [Religious Denominations in the United States and Great Britain by Charles Desilver.,p.87.(The history of each denomination is furnished by a leading writer of its own communion.] Here is the candid confession of a leading Anti-Mission Baptist, that the brethren now claiming to be "Old School" or "Primitive" Baptists, separated themselves from the body of the denomination, and took a stand "as a distinct people;" and at that time, about 1832, took the appelation or name, "Old School Baptists." Therefore, according to Elder Trott, there was no body of Baptists in the world calling themselves "Old School," prior to the year 1832.

In Tennessee the separation occurred later. Dr. John M. Watson, says: "After our painful separation from the Missionaries in 1836, a number of churches, in the bounds of the Old Concord Association, met together and formed the Stone River Association. We had then, as was generally supposed, a strong and happy union; but, alas! there was an element of heresy incorporated in that body as bad, if not worse, than that from which we had just withdrawn." [Old Baptist Test.,p.36, By Dr. John M. Watson, a leading Anti-Mission Baptist of Tennessee.] In the above, Dr. Watson admits that the "Old Baptists" separated or withdrew from the "Missionaries." It is admitted that, in some cases, the Anti-Mission brethren had the majority in churches, and even in some associations; but as a body they were largely in the minority--only a fraction--when the separation occurred. Elder Jeter says of these Baptists: "The class of Baptists described in the above extract were called in some places, Old School and in others, from the name of the place at which they held their seceding convention--'Black Rock' Baptists. They separated themselves from the Regular Baptists about the time of the rise of Mr. Campbell's Reformation." [Campbellism Re-examined, p. 33.]

They, in departing from the "one faith," departed from the "one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5) as well.

    The Mormon Church was founded by Joseph Smith in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830. In 1834, after two name changes, they settled on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [Mormonism by Kurt Van Gorden, page 11] They believe that God continues to reveal and inspire new truths having equal authority with, and even superseding or amending the Bible and previous revelations. They believe and teach that the atonement of Jesus Christ alone is not sufficient for salvation, but must be obtained by works of man. Page 670 of Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie says:

Full salvation is attained by virtue of knowledge, truth, righteousness, and all true principles. Many conditions must exist in order to make such salvation available to men. Without continuous revelation, the ministering of angels, the working of miracles, the prevalence of gifts of the spirit, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

That must be a different "Jesus Christ" than the one who said:

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.  (John 14:6)

    In 1863, the Seventh-day Adventists were organized by followers of William Miller, a so-called "Baptist minister," who had predicted that the second coming of Christ would occurr in the spring of the year 1844. [The World Book Encyclopedia. "Critically reviewed by the Seventh-day Adventists"] Regardless of the background of William Miller, or any of his followers, they, in believing and teaching of man's works for the obtaining of salvation, rather than works as a result of salvation, teach another "gospel" which is no gospel.

    The Pentecostal and Holiness denominations have originated in the present century, within the lifetime and memory of persons still living. As The World Book Encyclopedia (1985) says:

Pentecostal churches trace their origins to revivals of tongue-speaking that occurred at Bethel Bible College in Topeka, Kans., in 1901, and at the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles in 1906. Similar revivals also took place in Great Britain and in Europe, Asia, and Latin America during the early 1900's. Since the 1930's, the Pentecostal denominations have grown rapidly. The Pentecostals are sometimes called Christianity's "Third Force," alongside Roman Catholicism and traditional Protestantism.

    Also, The World Book Encyclopedia, in an article titled "Assemblies of God," which it says was "Critically reviewed by the Assemblies of God," says:

Assemblies of God is the largest Pentecostal religious denomination in the world. The church developed from a revival movement in the early 1900's and was organized in Hot Springs, Ark., in 1914.

    Of "Churches of God," The World Book Encyclopedia says:

Churches of God consist of about 15 religious groups in the United States that use the same name--Church of God--but differ in faith and practice. Most of these groups trace their origins to the Pentecostal, Holiness, or Adventist movements.

    And, The World Book Encyclopedia says, of "The Church of God in Christ," that it:

. . . is a Christian denomination that bases its faith on the doctrines of the apostles as recieved on Pentecost (Acts 2:4). Bishop C.H. Mason and others founded the church in 1895. They began preaching that there could be no salvation without holiness. The Baptist Church expelled them because of this teaching. Members believe that the church name was revealed to the bishop in 1897 from a reference in I Thessalonians 2:14. In 1907, a church meeting in Memphis, Tenn., formed the First General Assembly of the Church of God in Christ.

    Notice that although they profess and teach some sort of belief in Jesus as the Son of God and Saviour, each of these denominations adds some kind of works for the obtaining of salvation. That makes their faith a different faith. Things cannot be different and still be the same. Ephesians 4:5 teaches that there is but "one faith" that is acceptable to the "One God and Father of all" (v.6), and only "one baptism" that can declare that faith in a manner that God will approve. That "one faith" and "one baptism" are the only ones we should approve of, also. I am not saying that there are none saved that are affiliated with one of those denominations. The contention is that if they are saved, they are not declaring it properly. They are not giving God all the glory, and by that improper declaration, people are being misled about a matter of eternal life or death. Certainly, those who believe what they claim, that their faith is not in Jesus alone, but in Jesus plus their own works, or the works or merit of their "church," or any other formula, do not possess a saving faith. I realize that the making of such a statement will procure much hatred, but I would rather be hated for just a little while for telling the truth, than to be hated for eternity for concealing the truth.

    I wish that this narrative of departure from the faith could be concluded here, but it cannot. Although the Lord's true congregations have for many years been found among those called Baptists, the present situation is that most have departed rather than to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). Observation and investigation will show that many congregations who still hang on to the name of Baptist are filled with teachers, deacons, and even pastors who will concede that "we are all (denominations) pretty much alike, and have only minor differences." Many insist that, "The Baptists started with John Smyth, in the seventeenth century." Most have accepted a "universal church" theory, and many insist that one immersion is as good as another. Many will agree that some other congregation of the same name teaches false doctrine, or "don't know what they believe," but are eager to recognize their baptism. Most will accept the baptism of anything called a "Baptist church," even though it recognizes and accepts the baptisms administered by other denominations. Many send all their mission money to unscriptural and ungodly missionaries, schools, and programs which they have no control of. Many praise and glorify their adulterous and scandelous members, instead of disciplining them. Many show no reservation or hesitation about inviting someone from another denomination to fill their pulpit. If the Bible means anything at all, if it is worth the paper it is written on, that is not Jesus' kind of ekklesia. We can see in the New Testament that Jesus' congregations can sometimes be terribly in error about some things, and ignorant about some things, and still be His; but when God's simple plan of salvation gets changed, it becomes the congregation of someone else.

    The authority to baptize must come from God. God gave John the Baptist the authority to baptize. God could have given direct authority, if He wanted to, to Philip to baptize the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, (we can certainly see that He made all the other arrangements for the occasion), but I believe that Philip had been granted the authority by the congregation of which he was a servant and member, to conduct such a matter in that manner. The same can be said about Ananias, who baptized Paul. Acts 9:17-18 says:

And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.  And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

But, I believe that in this case, also, the most probable is that Ananias was pastor of Jesus' congregation at Damascus, and had been granted the authority by that congregation to baptize those he thought to be proper candidates. As has already been shown, Jesus gave His kind of congregation the authority to teach and baptize. If the Bible is to be our final authority for all faith and practice, we must reject any and all revelation or authority claimed to have been received contradictory to the Bible, or since it was written. The fact that obedience in following our Lord in proper baptism is basic and elementary to any further following or walk with Him insists that only properly baptized persons can properly be a member of one of Jesus' congregations. If a congregation must consist of saved and properly baptized persons joined together and teaching the true gospel in order to qualify as one of Jesus' congregations, then any congregation that is made out of persons who obtained their "baptism" from an improper source cannot be one of Jesus' congregations, no matter how saved they may be, nor how sound their teachings are otherwise. And, a true congregation can never evolve from it. That is a conclusive fact, and no quantity of time or variety of circumstance and opinion can change it.

    It is important that the doctrine of baptismal succession be taught. The consequence of neglect is disaster. A doctrine that is neglected by one generation will be abandoned, ridiculed, and rejected by the next. The result will be a congregation that is highly susceptible to the ever intensifying efforts of counterfeit Christianity to seduce and defile them. Where Baptist succession is not taught and defended, alien immersion is likely to soon be accepted. Someone may say, "As long as I'm there, it will not." That brings up a good point. You may not be, and if you are, you may be so much in a minority that it will be the occasion of your departure. Baptist succession must be taught, not just on Wednesday night, not just to a fourth of the congregation, not just to the older folks, and not just once in fifteen or twenty years.

    Notice that each of the Protestant denominations (Jesus' congregations are not Protestant) have held on to "something old" from the Roman Catholics, some sort of works for salvation. All, except Jesus' congregations that have earnestly contended for the faith once delivered to the saints, have invented "something new" that is contradictory to God's Word. Most, even many that I believe are still Jesus' congregations (if they will repent and turn from their error), have "something borrowed" from the Roman Catholics, and that is the "Christian" holidays that were adopted from paganism, and change the truth of God into a lie. It seems that there are a blue million gimmicks, plans, programs, methods, and devices that have come along to distract congregations from doing "the first works" (Revelation 2:5). There is much talk these days about the bride of Christ. The bride of Christ will not be dressed in "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue"!

    All "guests" (Matthew 22:11-13) will be required to have on a "wedding garment" which is the imputed righteousness of God (Romans 4:6). No one will be present except those whom God has clothed with the work of Christ. All efforts of our own to cloth ourselves will be worthless, as far as gaining admittance into heaven and attending the wedding. But, notice in Revelation 19:7-8, that, the bride of Christ will not only be clothed in the righteousness of God, but will have additional clothing, also. It is seen in verse 7, that, the Lamb's wife will have "made herself ready." Not only will the bride be clothed in the righteousness of God, but it is seen in verse 8 that she will "be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white," which "is the righteousness of saints." If we look at the "Textus Receptus" (the original Greek), or in Strong's Concordance, it is seen that the word translated, "righteousness" in Revelation 19:8 to describe "the righteousness of saints" is different to the Greek word translated, "righteousness" to describe "the righteousness which is by faith," as in Hebrews 11:7. The Greek word in Revelation 19:8 is dikaioma (Strong's # 1345), which Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines:

1. that which has been deemed right so as to have the force of law; a. what has been established and ordained by law, an ordinance. . . .

The Greek word in Hebrews 11:7 is dikaiosune (Strong's # 1343), which Thayer's Lexicon defines:

1. in the broad sense, the state of him who is such as he ought to be, righteousness (Germ. Rechtbeschaffenheit); the condition acceptable to God. . . .

Berry's Interlinear Greek-English New Testament translates the word in Revelation 19:8 as "righteousnesses" (plural). The bride of Christ will be made up of persons who not only have been saved by God's grace, but have also, by God's grace, gone "fully after the LORD," no matter what the cost.

* * *

    In 1554, Cardinal Hosius, a Catholic, and chairman of the Council of Trent, wrote:

If the truth of religion were to be judged of by the readiness and cheerfulness which a man of any sect shows in suffering, then the opinions and persuasions of no sect can be truer or surer than those of the Anabaptist, since there have been none for these twelve hundred years past that have been more grievously punished.  (My Church by J.B. Moody, p.314)

Cardinal Hosius was admitting that the Anabaptists had existed since at least 354 A.D.

    John Clark Ridpath, a Methodist who was Professor of History at DePauw University, and author of the three volume Cyclopaedia of Universal History, A History of the United States, and Ridpath's History of the World wrote, in a letter to W.A. Jarrell, author of Baptist Church Perpetuity or History, that:

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.  (Baptist Church Perpetuity or History by W.A. Jarrell, p.59)

    In 1819, two men, both members of the Dutch Reformed Church, were appointed by the King of Holland to write a history of the Dutch Reformed Church. They were J.J. Dermout, the Kings chaplain, and A. Ypeij, a professor of theology in Groningen. They wrote History of the Dutch Reformed Church, which, on page 148 of Volume I, says:

. . . 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 all ages.

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