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

Chapter 8


    The most important part of the history of the Lord's congregations is that which God has inspired in the New Testament. It is written without any bias, error, or short-sightedness that may be introduced by human writers. It is the very words of God Himself. As discussed earlier, it contains the pattern for Jesus' congregation's, with full and complete instructions and examples regarding their faith, practice, and procreation.

    In the previous chapter, I have shown the need and importance of the knowledge and study of the history of Jesus' congregations beyond that which is contained in the New Testament. There are, however, a few caveats to note. While the inspired New Testament must be accepted as absolutely infallible, the writings of man must not. We are all subject to error.

    Many of the writings and records of the Lord's congregations have been burned, and often the writers have been burned with them. Much of their history has been written by their enemies, and some by those with no affiliation with, or affection for, either. That is both good and bad. It is good in that the fact that the enemies wrote of people whom we consider the Lord's congregations proves that they existed (and we do have such writings from nearly every decade since Jesus built His first congregation). It is good in that we have proof of their doctrine by the accusations and persecutions against them. It is good in that those writings, being written by enemies, have been preserved. It is bad that their doctrines, being recorded as accusations or by the spiritually ignorant, have often been misinterpreted and misrepresented. Much historical research is available concerning the Lord's congregations, in the writings of apostates and protestants trying to "claim kin" or to justify some false doctrine. While such writings can be very useful, it is important to beware of the bias of the writer. For example, the Ecclesiastical History written by Eusebius records some important history, but as Berlin Hisel pointed out in his Baptist History Notebook (p.32):

It is my opinion that Mosheim and others relate certain charges against the Montanists because they follow the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius. Eusebius was born about 275 A.D. and died about 339 A.D. He was bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and is revered, by most, as the father of church history. He was a close friend to Constantine, the ruler of the Roman Empire who united false churches to the state power. It is believed by many that Constantine commissioned him to write this history and financed his travel and investigatons. Knowing what Constantine did to our Baptist ancestors should make us leary of him. Knowing he was a friend of Eusebius should make us careful of Eusebius too.

    In the study of the history of the Lord's congregations, they are found to have been known by many different names at various times and places. Those names have usually been assigned them by their enemies and in derision. It can be found that apostate and false congregations sometimes bore the same names as did those of Christ's. Such is clearly the case at the present time, and probably more prevalent than in any other period.

    Some writers have picked out those apostate and false congregations of the past, and cite their irregular faith and practice as representative of all who were known by the same name. That seems usually to be done in effort to find credibility for their own heresy, or to try to discredit those congregations that have remained true to Christ.

    The same tactics are being used today by many to advance their agenda of unionism, and sad to say, many true congregations, being ignorant of their own heritage, are falling for it. It is no more sensible nor honest to make false allegations or charges by sweeping generalization against the faithful congregations than it would be to say that all American wives are unfaithful to their husbands, just because some have been found so to be.

    From the time of Cain and Abel, those who have taught and stood for the truth of the true Christ have found themselves caught in a fierce, bitter, and often bloody, ongoing battle that started when Lucifer said in his heart, "I will be like the most High" (Isaiah 14:13).

    With his offering to God, Abel was teaching, with typology, salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Cain changed the message with the typology of his offering (Genesis 4:1-8). Rather than repent and accept the truth, Cain killed the true messenger, Abel.

    Read in Luke 11:49-52, what Jesus said to some religious leaders about the subject:

Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

In Matthew 23:33-35, Jesus said:

Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

John the Baptist was beheaded for declaring the truth.

Following their Savior in rapid succession fell many other martyred heroes: Stephen was stoned, Matthew was slain in Ethiopia, Mark dragged through the streets until dead, Luke hanged, Peter and Simeon were crucified, Andrew tied to a cross, James beheaded, Philip crucified and stoned, Bartholomew flayed alive, Thomas pierced with lances, James, the less, thrown from the temple and beaten to death, Jude shot to death with arrows, Matthias stoned to death and Paul beheaded.   (The Trail of Blood by J.M. Carroll)

The same bloody battle has continued in every period of time since, in varying intensity.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.   (Ephesians 6:12)

    In the introduction of his book, Martyrs Mirror, Thieleman J. van Braght wrote:

Those who suffered among the pagans were, for the most part, examined concerning the first article of the Christian faith, wherein we confess: "I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth," etc.; and if the apprehended Christians confessed only this, viz., that they believed in one God, they were condemned to death: for the pagans recognized many gods.

Those who suffered among the Jews or Mohammedans were examined concerning the second article, wherein we confess: I believe "in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, our Lord, who was conceived of the holy Ghost," etc. When they had confessed this, they had also forfeited their lives; for the Jews and the Mohammedans do not acknowledge Christ as the Son of God, much less as His only-begotten (or own) Son, and that He was conceived of the Holy Ghost.

On account of this article many believers were killed among the Arians.

Those who suffered among the false Christians, especially among the Romanists, were examined concerning nearly all the articles of faith, in regard to which difference of opinion existed between us and them, viz., the incarnation of Christ, the office of the secular authorities, the swearing of oaths, etc., but above all others, the article of holy baptism, namely, whether they were denied infant baptism? or, whether they were rebaptized? which latter principally caused their death; as sentence of death was immediately passed upon them, and their life taken.

Martyrs Mirror, written in 1660, is a large 8x10 book of almost 1200 pages of small print, listing and documenting thousands of the names and dates of martyrdom of, as the title page declares, "The Defenseless Christians Who Baptized Only Upon Confession of Faith, and Who Suffered and Died for the Testimony of Jesus, Their Saviour, From the Time of Christ to the Year A.D. 1660."

Of the persecutions of the first three hundred years after Christ's death, Augustus Neander wrote:

The Christians were often victims of the popular rage. The populace saw in them the enemies of their gods; and this was the same thing as to have no religion at all. The deniers of the gods, the atheists, was the common name by which the Christians were designated among the people; and of such men the vilest and most improbable stories could easily gain belief: - that in their conclaves they were accustomed to abandon themselves to unnatural lust; that they killed and devoured children; - accusations which we find circulated, in the most diverse periods, against religious sects that have at once become objects of the fanatic hatred of the populace. The reports of disaffected slaves, or of those from whom torture had wrung the confession desired, were next employed to support these absurd charges, and to justify the rage of the populace. If in hot climates the long absence of rain brought on a drought; if in Egypt the Nile failed to irrigate the fields; if in Rome the Tiber overflowed its banks; if a contagious disease was raging; if an earthquake, a famine, or any other public calamity occured, the populace rage was easily turned against the Christians. "We may ascribe this," was the cry, "to the anger of the gods on account of the spread of Christianity." Thus it had become a proverb in North Africa, according to Augustine, "If there is no rain, tax it on the Christians."

(Volume 1, p.92 of 5 volume 9th edition History of the Christian Religion and Church, published by Crocker & Brewster, Boston).

On page 79 of Martyrs Mirror, van Braght says:

The innocent Christians were accused not only of the burning of Rome, but also of every wickedness imaginable; that they might be tortured and put to death in the most awful manner. To this the Roman Tacitus (according to the translation of J. Gysius, and not that of Fenacolius)* refers, saying: "Then, Nero, in order to avert this report from himself, caused those called Christians by the common people, to be accused and exceedingly tormented.

Later, on page 79, van Braght wrote:

Touching the manner in which the Christians were tortured and killed at the time of Nero, A. Mellinus gives the following account from Tacitus and other Roman writers: namely, that four extremely cruel and unnatural kinds of torture were employed against the Christians:

Firstly, that they dressed them in the skins of tame and wild beasts, that they might be torn to pieces by dogs or other wild animals.

Secondly, that they, according to the example of their Saviour, were fastened alive on crosses, and that in many different ways.

Thirdly, that the innocent Christians were burned and smoked by the Romans, with torches and lamps, under the shoulders and on other tender parts of their naked bodies, after these had been cruelly lacerated with scourges or rods. This burning was done also with shavings and fagots, they (the Christians) being tied to stakes worth half a stiver. [about one cent] Therefore they called the Christians sarmenticii, that is, fagot people, and semissii, that is, half stiver people; because they stood fastened to half stiver stakes, and were thus burned with the slow fire of fagots.

Fourthly, that these miserable, accused Christian martyrs were used as candles, torches, or lanterns, to see by them at night.

van Braght then describes how the candles were constructed of those Christians, and set on fire, and used for light in the theatre for the circuses.

    Those martyrs could easily have escaped their persecution by compromising their religious beliefs, and participating in paganism. They chose, instead, to follow "fully after the LORD."

    Polycarp was given a choice, before he was set on fire and burned to death during a pagan festival at Smyrna in A.D. 155. Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) gives this account:

The proconsul Statius Quadratus was present on the occasion, and the asiarch Philip of Tralles was presiding over the games. Eleven Christians had been brought, mostly from Philadelphia, to be put to death. The appetite of the populace was inflamed by the spectacle of their martyrdom. A cry was raised, "Away with the atheists. Let search be made for Polycarp." Polycarp took refuge in a country farm. His hiding-place, however, was betrayed and he was arrested and brought back into the city. Attempts were made by the officials to induce him to recant, but without effect. When he came into the theatre, the proconsul urged him to "revile Christ," and promised, if he would consent to abjure his faith, that he would set him at liberty. To this appeal Polycarp made the memorable answer, "Eighty and six years have I served Him and He hath done me no wrong. How then can I speak evil of my King who saved me?"

Shame on those today who will compromise their faith and practice just to be more popular, or in order to gain or retain some "influential" person or family in their membership.

    The persecution and martyrdom of Christians continued almost daily, varying in intensity and location, and is documented by many historians. Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) says:

Decius was the first Roman emperor to institute an organized persecution of the Christians throughout the empire. Previous persecutions had been sporadic and local in character.

Eusebius says, in his Ecclesiastical History:

Philip, after a reign of seven years, was succeeded by Decius, who, in consequence of his hatred to Philip, raised a persecution against the church, in which Fabianus suffered martyrdom, and was succeeded as bishop of Rome by Cornelius.

In A Manual of Church History (p.164) Alfred H. Newman wrote:

The fact that Christians had been especially favored by the predecessor probably led Decius to suspect them of disloyalty to himself. It may be assumed from what we know of this ruler that his exterminating measures against Christianity did not proceed from sheer wantonness, but were from his point of view a political necessity.

Of this imperial edict which was issued in the year 250 to suppress Christianity, Newman says:

In each official district all Christians were required within a definite time to offer sacrifices to the gods. The flight of Christians before the expiration of time allowed was not hindered, but the property of fugitives was confiscated and death was the penalty of returning. Those who were not in a position to prove that they had fulfilled the requirement were brought before a commission composed of officials and citizens. First they were threatened with the direst punishments in case of obstinacy. Threats were followed by torture. This failing, imprisonment and repeated tortures, including hunger and thirst, were resorted to as means of breaking down the wills of the victims. All the influence and machinery of the imperial government were employed to prevent laxity on the part of the officials. The magistrates were enjoined to use special severity toward bishops and other influencial leaders. Immunity from persecution had brought into the churches multitudes of people who had no proper idea of the obligations of the Christian life and many who cannot be regarded as possessing a saving knowledge of the truth. Lamentable worldliness characterized many of the clergy, who were spending their energies in secular pursuits rather than in the ministry of the word. The imperial edict struck terror to the hearts of all whose faith was weak. "Before the battle," writes Cyprian, "many were conquered, and without having met the enemy, were cut down; they did not even seek to gain the reputation of having sacrificed against their will. They indeed did not wait to be apprehended ere they ascended, or to be interrogated ere they denied. Many were conquered before the battle, prostrated before the attack. Nor did they even leave it to be said for them that they seemed to sacrifice to idols unwillingly. They ran to the market place of their own accord." Many were so impatient to deny their faith that they could hardly wait their turn. Cyprian himself retired before the fury of the persecution and thereby greatly injured his reputation among the stricter sort. Many who would neither flee nor sacrifice suffered the most terrible tortures and died in prison or were at last cruelly executed. Some by bribing the officials procured certificates of having sacrificed without committing the overt act. Some allowed others to say that they had sacrificed or to procure certificates for them. Holders of these fraudulent certificates were called libellatici and were regarded as scarcely less culpable than the Lapsi or those who actually denied their faith.

Eusebius gives this account of a woman named Quinta, sometimes called Cointha, who stood firm in her profession of faith:

Next they led a woman called Quinta, who was a believer, to the temple of an idol, and attempted to force her to worship; but when she turned away in disgust, they tied her by the feet, and dragged her through the whole city, over the rough stones of the paved streets, dashing her against the millstones, and scourging her at the same time, until they brought her to the same place, where they stoned her.

Another woman who was also martyred in Alexandria in the same year (252) was Apollonia. Martyrs Mirror gives this account:

Apollonia was an aged virgin, whom the enemies of truth apprehended, and with their fists and blows in the face, knocked every tooth out of her head. In the mean time a large fire of wood was kindled, and they threatened to burn her alive, if she would not worship the gods, and forsake Christ. But notwithstanding this miserable death, she would rather go into the fire, and lose her temporal life, than save it by abandoning Christ and losing her soul. Touching the manner of her death, and her great willingness to die, A. Mellinus makes this statement: "This virgin was sentenced to be burned, or to blaspheme the name of Christ; but as she abhorred the latter, she wished to show that she was ready and willing to die for Christ."

Eusebius says, of Apollonia, that:

She appeared at first to shrink a little, but when suffered to go, she suddenly sprang into the fire and was consumed.

    Another period of intense persecution came during the rule of Diocletian. On pages 172-173, of Martyrs Mirror, T.J. van Braght wrote the following in 1660, ". . . ACCORDING TO THE ACCOUNT OF P.J. TWISCK, FROM VARIOUS ANCIENT AND CELEBRATED AUTHORS":

These two Emperors (namely, Diocletian and Maximian) jointly governed the empire, in harmony and constancy, and remained undivided. However, when they had reigned about ten years, they took counsel together, and resolved to exterminate the Christians, because the discord of religion caused great dissensions, both in the households and in the Roman Empire.

Then, from his quotation of P.J. Twisck:

". . . in the nineteenth year of his reign, which coincides with A.D. 302, issued a public decree (as was done in the days of Antiochus), that everyone, in every place, should sacrifice to the gods of the Emperors; and that he who should refuse to do so, should be punished with death; also, that the churches or meeting places, and the books of the Christians should be utterly destroyed. Yea, there was scarcely a large city in the empire, in which not daily a hundred Christians, or thereabouts, were slain. It is also recorded that in one month seventeen thousand Christians were put to death in different parts of the empire, so that the blood which was shed colored red many rivers. Some were hanged, others beheaded, some burned, and some sunk by whole shiploads in the depths of the sea."

As touching the fearful tortures inflicted, he then writes thus: "These tyrants had some of them dragged through the streets, tied to the tails of horses, and after they were mangled and bruised, they had them put back into prison, and placed upon beds of potsherds, so that rest might be more excruciating for them than actual torment. Sometimes they bent down with great force the branches of trees, and tied one leg to one branch, and the other to another, and then let the branches spring back into their natural position, so that their limbs were shockingly rent in pieces. They cut off the ears, noses, lips, hands, and the toes of many, leaving them only the eyes, to inflict still more pain upon them. They sharpened wooden pegs, which they inserted between the flesh and the nails; and had lead or tin melted, and poured as hot as possible over their bare backs."

Many who professed Christianity in that period did compromise with paganism during the times of most severe persecution, and then when times were better, sought to return to Christian worship in the fellowship of the Lord's congregations. When they were accepted back, they often brought some of the pagan ways with them. Some refused to admit those who had departed the faith back into the fellowship of the Lord's congregation. That, in fact, is the main thing that led to what is known as the Novation rupture.

    In Ecclesiastical Researches (1792) Robert Robinson says (p.126):

The case in brief, was this: Novation was an elder in the church at Rome. He was a man of extensive learning, and held the same doctrine as the church did, and published several treatises in defense of what he believed. His address was eloquent and insinuating, and his morals were irreproachable. He saw, with extreme pain, the intolerable depravity of the church. Christians, within the space of a very few years, were caressed by one emperor, and persecuted by another. In seasons of prosperity, many rushed into the church for base purposes. In times of adversity they denied the faith and ran back to idolatry again. When the sqall was over, away they came again to the church, with all their vices, to deprave others by their example. The bishops, fond of proselytes, encouraged all this, and transferred the attention of Christians from the old confederacy for virtue, to vain shows at Easter, and a thousand other Jewish ceremonies, adulterated, too, with paganism. On the death of Bishop Fabian, Cornelius, a brother elder, and a vehement partisan for taking in the multitude, was put in nomination. Novation opposed him; but as Cornelius carried his election, and he saw no prospect of reformation, but on the contrary, a tide of immorality pouring into the church, he withdrew, and a great many with him. Cornelius, irritated by Cyprian, who was just in the same condition, through the remonstrances of virtuous men at Carthage, and who was exasperated beyond measure with one of his elders named Novatus who had quitted Carthage and had gone to Rome to espouse the cause of Novation, called a council, and got a sentence of excommunication passed against Novation. In the end, Novation formed a church and was elected bishop. Great numbers followed his example and all over the empire Puritan churches were constituted, and flourished through the succeeding two hundred years. Afterward, when penal laws obliged them to lurk in corners, and worship God in private, they were distinguished by a variety of names, and a succession of them continued till the Reformation.

Notice the statements that "Great numbers followed his example and all over the empire Puritan churches were constituted, and flourished through the succeeding two hundred years," and that a succession of them continued till the Reformation."

    On page 163 of volume 1 of his 5 volume A Compendium of Ecclesiastical History, John Gieseler states:

Though the other bishops, and especially Cyprian at Carthage, and Dionysius at Alexandria, were on the side of Cornelius, great numbers in all parts joined the stricter party.

Under "Carthage," Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) says that in A.D. 311 the Donatist "heresy," was supported by 270 African bishops.

    These congregations that refused to apostatize and had withdrawn from the disorderly, as well as those that remained intact and sided with them, became known as Novations, Cathari, Puritans (not to be confused with those of more recent times), and Paterins. At about the same time, in other places there were congregations that had taken the same, or similar stands, and became known as Cataphrygians, Quintillianists, Pepuzians, Montanists, and Donatists.

    Do not assume that every congregation that was called by one of these names was, or remained, true bodies of Christ. I believe that there has hardly been a time since Jesus built His first congregation, that there has not been a counterfeit or apostate congregation using the same names as the true ones. The Devil is a copy-cat.

    About the year 200, baptismal regeneration began to be taught by some, and in 370, or earlier, infant baptism began to be practiced. Along with these false doctrines, the hierarchical ambitions of some, which we considered in a previous chapter, had been developing. As should be expected, those false doctrines and practices had little trouble finding acceptance among the apostate congregations. The political ambitions of a hierarchical system necessitated a "universal church" concept, and thus the term "catholic" (with a small "c") began to be used.

    Writing of the Novations, on page 55 of A Concise History of Baptists, G. H. Orchard says:                                                                                                                           

On account of the church's severity of discipline, the example was followed by many, and churches of this order flourished in the greatest part of those provinces which had received the gospel. Many advenient rites had been appointed, and interwoven with baptism, with a threefold administration of the ordinance, in the old interests, which obscured the original simplicity and design of the institutor. To remove all human appendages, the Novationists said to candidates, "If you be a virtuous believer, and will accede to our confederacy against sin, you may be admitted among us by baptism, or if any catholic has baptized you before, by rebaptism." They were at later periods called anabaptists. The churches thus formed upon a plan of strict communion and rigid discipline, obtained the reproach of PURITANS; they were the oldest body of Christian churches, of which we have any account, and a succession of them, we shall prove, has continued to the present day. Novation's example had a powerful influence, and puritan churches rose in different parts, in quick succession. So early as 254, these Dissenters are complained of, as having infected France with their doctrines, which will aid us in the Albigensian churches, where the same severity of discipline is traced, and reprobated.

    Constantine came to the throne in 306, and in 312, after allegedly seeing Christ in a dream and being victorious in a battle, inquired and was instructed by some of the leaders of the apostate "Christianity." Constantine then embraced and became affiliated with their so called "Christianity." In 313, the "Edict of Milan" was issued by Constantine and Licinius, granting religious liberty to all. That edict stated, in part:

. . . we have granted liberty and full freedom to the Christians, to observe their own mode of worship; which as your fidelity understands absolutely granted to them by us, the privilege is also granted to others to pursue that worship and religion they wish. Which it is obvious is consistent with the peace and tranquility of our times; that each may have the privilege to select and to worship whatsoever divinity he pleases. But this has been done by us, that we might not appear in any manner to detract any thing from any manner of religion, or any mode of worship. And this, we further decree, with respect to the Christians, that the places in which they were formerly accustomed to assemble, concerning which also we formerly wrote to your fidelity, in a different form, that if any persons have purchased these, either from our treasury, or from any other one, these shall restore them to the Christians, without money and without demanding any price, without any superadded value, or augmentation, without delay or hesitancy. . . .

(Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, book X chapter V)

    The change in situation brought temporary relief to the true Christian congregations as well as the apostate ones. Encyclopedia Britannica (1957) says of Constantine:

His claim to greatness rests mainly on the fact that he divined the future which lay before Christianity, and determined to enlist it in the service of his empire . . .

The leaders in the apostate congregations, having already been in pursuit of hierarchical ambitions, were eager to "enlist" in the service of Constantine's empire.

World Book Encyclopedia (1985) says:

Constantine made many gifts to the Christian church, including huge estates which he gave to the church in Rome. He built the first great Christian cathedral, the Lateran Basilica in Rome. He built other famous churches in and near Rome; and in Antioch, Syria (now Antioch, Turkey); Constantinople; and Jerusalem.

On page 31 of The History of Romanism, John Dowling wrote:

Soon after Constantine professed conversion to Christianity, he undertook to remodel the government of the church, so as to make it conform as much as possible to the government of the state. Hence the origin of the dignities of patriarchs, exarchs, archbishops, canons, prebendaries, etc., intended by the Emperor to correspond with the different secular offices and dignities, connected with the civil administration of the empire. Taking these newly constituted dignitaries of the church into his own special favor, he loaded them with the wealth and worldly honors, and richly endowed the churches over which they presided, thus fostering in those who professed to be the followers and ministers of Him who was "meek and lowly of heart" a spirit of worldly ambition, pride,and avarice.

Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History lists a "Copy of an Epistle in which the Emperor grants money to the churches," in book X, chapter VI, which states, in part:

CONSTANTINE AUGUSTUS to Cecilianus bishop of Carthage. As we have determined, that in all the provinces of Africa, Numidia, and Mauritania, something should be granted to certain ministers of the legitimate and most holy catholic (universal) religion, to defray their expenses, I have given letters to Ursus, the most illustrious lieutenant- governor of Africa, and have communicated to him, that he shall provide, to pay to your authority, three thousand folles.* [If the follis be estimated at 208 denarii, according to the usual computation, this sum would amount to about 10,000 dollars.]

The apostate congregations were now developed into a "universal church" and married to the state. The true Christians, the Lord's congregations, previously considered as "the atheists" under paganism, were now known as "heretics." Constantine's main concern being the strength and greatness of his empire, and his recognition of religion as being a valuable tool in accomplishing his goals, religious unity became a high priority to him. The leaders of the apostate congregations which had become the "state church," still angered at the true congregations of Christ for their stand for truth, and no doubt desirous of bringing their numbers under their own power and control, were easily employed in an effort to subdue those true congregations which they called heretics. Those true congregations were considered trouble-makers and disruptive to unity because they would not conform and compromise. They were hated because they went "fully after the LORD." That has always been the case, and will be until the end of the age. I have found that the uncompromising, true worshipers of God, are almost always considered as divisive. In Acts 17:6, Paul and Silas were accused of turning the world upside down. In Matthew 10:35-39, Jesus said:

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

In Luke 14:25-27:

And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

In Matthew 10: 16-18 and 22, Jesus said:

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

John, in I John 3:12-13, speaking of Cain killing Abel, said:

. . . And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

    Here are two of Constantine's letters, recorded in Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History, that show the early development of authority given to the "State church" by Constantine. In book X, chapter V, is the following "Copy of the Emperor's Epistle, in which he ordains a council of bishops to be held at Rome, for the unity and peace of the church":

CONSTANTINE AUGUSTUS, to Miltiades bishop of Rome, and to Marcus. As many communications of this kind have been sent to me from Anulinus, the most illustrious proconsul of Africa, in which it is contained that Caecilianus, the bishop of Carthage, was accused, in many respects, by his colleagues in Africa; and as this appears to be grievous, that in those provinces which divine Providence has freely entrusted to my fidelity, and in which there is a vast population, the multitude are found inclining to deteriorate, and in a manner divided into two parties, and among others that the bishops were at variance; I have resolved that the same Caecilianus, together with ten bishops, who appear to accuse him, and ten others, whom he himself may consider necessary for his cause, shall sail to Rome. That you, being present there, as also Reticius, Maternus, and Marinus, your colleagues, whom I have commanded to hasten to Rome for this purpose, may be heard, as you may understand most consistent with the most sacred law. And, indeed, that you may have the most perfect knowledge of these matters, I have subjoined to my epistle copies of the writings sent to me by Anulinus, and sent them to your aforesaid colleagues. In which your gravity will read and consider in what way the aforesaid cause may be most accurately investigated and justly decided. Since it neither escapes your diligence, that I show such regard for the holy catholic church, that I wish you, upon the whole, to leave no room for schism or division. May the power of the great God preserve you many years, most esteemed.

And then, a "Copy of the Epistle in which the Emperor commanded another council to be held, for the purpose of removing all the dissension of the bishops":

CONSTANTINE AUGUSTUS to Chrestus bishop of Syracuse. As there were some already before who perversely and wickedly began to waver in the holy religion and celestial virtue, and to abandon the doctrine of the catholic (universal) church, desirous, therefore, of preventing such disputes among them, I had thus written, that this subject, which appeared to be agitated among them, might be rectified, by delegating certain bishops from Gaul, and summoning others of the opposite parties from Africa, who are pertinaciously and incessantly contending with one another, that by a careful examination of the matter in their presence, it might thus be decided. But since, as it happens, some, forgetful of their own salvation, and the reverence due to our most holy religion, even now do not cease to protract their own enmity, being unwilling to conform to the decision already promulgated, and asserting that they were very few that advanced their sentiments and opinions, or else that all points which ought to have been first fully discussed not being first examined, they proceeded with too much haste and precipitancy to give publicity to the decision. Hence it has happened, that those very persons who ought to exhibit a brotherly and peaceful unanimity, rather disgracefully and detestably are at variance with one another, and thus give this occasion of derision to those that are without, and whose minds are averse to our most holy religion. Hence it has appeared necessary to me to provide that this matter, which ought to have ceased after the decision was issued by their own voluntary agreement, now, at length, should be fully terminated by the intervention of many.

Since, therefore, we have commanded many bishops to meet together from different and remote places, in the city of Arles, towards the calends of August, I have also thought proper to write to thee, that taking a public vehicle from the most illustrious Latronianus, corrector of Sicily, and taking with thee two others of the second rank, which thou mayest select, also three servants to afford you services on the way; I would have you meet them within the same day at the aforesaid place. That by the weight of your authority, and the prudence and unanimity of the rest that assemble, this dispute, which has disgracefully continued until the present time, in consequence of certain disgraceful contentions, may be discussed, by hearing all that shall be alleged by those who are now at variance, whom we have also commanded to be present, and thus the controversy be reduced, though slowly, to that faith, and observance of religion, and fraternal concord, which ought to prevail. May Almighty God preserve thee in safety many years.

The oppression continued to escalate, and soon, those who refused to compromise truth and refused to unite with the State church or recognize their baptisms and authority, were again being severely persecuted, this time by the catholic church with State authority.

Constantine's oppressive measures prompted many to leave the scene of sufferings, and retire into more sequestered spots. Claudius Seyssel, the popish archbishop, TRACES the rise of the Waldensian heresy to a pastor named Leo, leaving Rome at this period, for the Valleys.

(A Concise History of the Baptists, G.H. Orchard, p.58)

    In History of the Donatists, David Benidict quotes from Augustine's record of a local council held in Carthage in 404, in which it was stated:

It is now full time for the emperor to provide for the safety of the Catholic church, and prevent those rash men from terrifying the weak people, whom they cannot seduce.

In 413, an edict was issued by emperors, Theodosius and Honorius:

. . . declaring that all persons rebaptized, and the rebaptizers, should be both punished with death. Accordingly, Albanus, a zealous minister, with others, was punished with death, for rebaptizing. . . . . . . . . . These combined modes of oppression led the faithful to abandon the cities, and seek retreats in the valleys of Piedmont, the inhabitants of which began to be called Waldenses. 

(A Concise History of Baptists, G.H. Orchard, p.60-61)

    Augustine wrote much against the Donatists, and pope Gregory the Great wrote against them as late as 604. Orchard says of the Novationists, "That they subsisted towards the end of the sixth century, is evident from the book of Eulogius, Bishop of Alexander" (p.63).

    We can be certain that there were true congregations of the Lord dwelling in the valleys of Piedmont from the time of Constantine, having gone there to flee persecution. I believe that there were true congregations already established there.

    On page 28 of The Waldenses: Sketches of the Evangelical Christians of the Valleys of Piedmont, A.W. Mitchell wrote:

Their own account of the matter uniformly has been, that their religion has descended with them from father to son by uninterrupted succession from the time of the apostles. There certainly is no improbability in the conjecture that the gospel was preached by some of those early missionaries who carried Christianity into Gaul. The common passage from Rome to Gaul at that time lay directly through the Cottian Alps, and Gaul we know received the gospel early in the second century at the latest, probably before the close of the first century. If the apostle Paul ever made that journey into Spain (Rom. 15:28) which he speaks of in his epistle to the Romans, and in which he proposed to go by way of Rome, his natural route would have been in the same direction, and it is not impossible that his voice was actually heard among those retired valleys. The most common opinion among Protestant writers is, that the conversion of the Waldenses was begun by some of the very early Christian missionaries, perhaps by some of the Apostles themselves, on their way to Gaul, and that it was completed and the churches more fully organized by a large influx of Christians from Rome, after the first general persecution under Nero. The Christians of Rome, scattered by this terrible event, would naturally flee from the plain country to the mountains, carrying with them the gospel and its institutions.

    The mountains and valleys of the Alps and the Piedmont area were a natural refuge for the persecuted Christians from surrrounding territories in every age. In the words of Samuel Morland:

These Valleys, especially that of Angrogna, Pramol, and S. Martino, are by nature strongly fortified, by reason of their many difficult Passages, and Bulwarks of Rocks and Mountains, as if the All-wise Creator had from the beginning designed that place as a Cabinet, wherein to put some inestimable Jewel, or (to speak more plainly) there to reserve many thousands of souls, which should not bow the knee before Baal.

[The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont, book 1, ch.1, p.3]

These persecuted Christians, given various nick-names in derision at various places and times, fled to the Valleys of Piedmont, and in time became generally known as Waldenses. Ever trying to rob Jesus' true congregations of their heritage and discredit them, the Romish persecutors invented the allegation that the Waldensian Christians originated with Peter Waldo, and got their name from him. The History of the Ancient Christians by Jean Paul Perrin, written in 1618, and The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of the Piemont by Samuel Morland, written in 1658, contain various documents, writings, and confessions of faith, dating back to 1120, which describes their faith and practice, as well as their well established existence, fifty years before Peter Waldo (almost four hundred years before the time of Luther or Calvin). Samuel Morland's book records "a certain Epistle of the Waldenses, inscribed":

An Epistle to the most serene King Lancelau, the Dukes, Barons, and most ancient Nobility of the Realm. The little troop of Christians falsely called by the name of poor people of Lions, or Waldenses. By which it is most evident, that they had not their original from the said Waldo, but that this was a meer nick-name or reproachfull term put upon them by their Adversaries, to make the world believe, that their Religion was but a Novelty, or a thing of yesterday. . . . . . . . . [book 1, ch.3, p.12]

Of the etymology of the name, Waldenses, most historians agree with Robert Robinson, who says, in his Ecclesiastical Researches, written in 1792:

From the Latin word vallis, came the English word valley, the French and Spanish valle, the Italian valdesi, the Low Dutch valleye, the Provencal vaux, vaudois, the ecclesiastical Valdenses, Ualdenses, and Waldenses. The words simply signify vallies, inhabitants of vallies, and no more. [p.302]

Reinerius Sacco was one of the first employed in the Inquisition by Rome, for the purpose of detecting and punishing the "heretics." Reinerius testified often against the Waldenses and, in 1254, wrote a book of accusation against them. Samuel Morland (p.28) quotes this from Reinerius:

Amongst all the sects which are or ever were, there is none more pernicious to the Church of God, than that of the poor people of Lyons, for three Reasons, First because it is of a longer duration. Some say that it has remained from the time of Silvester, others, from the time of the Apostles.

In History of the Ancient Christians, Jean Paul Perrin, in "History of the Waldenses, book II, ch.I, quotes Reinnerius' second reason given:

Because that sect is universal, for there is scarce any country where it hath not taken footing.

In chapter XVI of the same book, Perrin says:

In the year 1229, the Waldenses had already spread themselves in great numbers throughout all Italy. They had ten schools in Valcamonica alone, and sent money from all parts of their abode into Lombardy, for the maintenance and support of the said schools. Rainerius saith, that about the year of our Lord 1250, the Waldenses had churches in Albania, Lombardy, Milan, and in Romagna, likewise at Vincence, Florence, and Val Spoletine. In the year 1280, there were a considerable number of Waldenses in Sicily, as Haillan observes in his History.

In the next chapter, XVII, Perrin says:

The monk Rainerius, in his book of the form or method of proceeding against the heretics, in that catalogue that he made of the Waldenses, or poor of Lyons, observes, that in his time, in the year 1250, there were churches in Constantinople, in Philadelphia, Sclavonia, Bulgaria, and Diagonicia.

From these statements, we can see that the inquisitor, Rainerius Sacco, expressed no doubt about the continuance of these "heretics" from the time of the apostles. It is also evident from this, the testimony of their bloody persecutor, that there was, in his words, "scarce any country where it hath not taken footing." That is definitely not a situation that would develop overnight, but had come about as results of earlier scattering by persecutions and the fact that they had been obedient in the mission to:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.   (Matthew 28:19-20)

The inquisitor, Rainerius Sacco, also wrote extensively of the "heresies" that these faithful congregations were guilty of. I will quote a few of those accusations here which tell us some important facts about their doctrines in the words of the enemy. In volume II, pages 21-27 of The History of the Christian Church, William Jones gives the English translation of those charges which can be seen in the original Latin, in the Ecclesiastical History of Ancient Churches of Piedmont and the Albigenses (original page numbers 188-191) by Peter Allix, written in 1690. Rainerius wrote:

Their first error is a contempt of ecclesiastical power, and from thence they have been delivered up to Satan, and by him cast headlong into innumerable errors, mixing the erroneous doctrines of the heretics of old with their own inventions. And being cast out of the Catholic church, they affirm that they alone are the church of Christ and his disciples. They declare themselves to be the apostles' successors, to have apostolical authority, and the keys of binding and loosing. They hold the church of Rome to be the whore of Babylon, (Rev. ch. xvii.) and that all that obey her are damned, especially the clergy that have been subject to her since the time of pope Sylvester. They deny that any true miracles are wrought in the church, because none of themselves ever worked any. They hold that none of the ordinances of the church, which have been introduced since Christ's ascension, ought to be observed, as being of no value. The feasts, fasts, orders, blessings, offices of the church, and the like, they utterly reject. They speak against consecrating churches, church-yards, and other things of the like nature, declaring that it was the invention of covetous priests, to augment their own gains, in spunging the people by those means of their money and oblations. They say, that a man is first baptized when he is received into their community. Some of them hold that baptism is of no advantage to infants, because they cannot actually believe. They reject the sacrament of confirmation, but instead of that, their teachers lay their hands upon their disciples. They say, the bishops, clergy, and other religious orders are no better than the Scribes and Pharisees, and other persecutors of the apostles. They do not believe the body and blood of Christ to be the true sacrament, but only blessed bread, which by a figure only is called the body of Christ, even as it is said, "and the rock was Christ," &c. Some of them hold that this sacrament can only be celebrated by those that are good, others again by any that know the words of consecration. This sacrament they celebrate in their assemblies, repeating the words of the gospel at their table, and participating together, in imitation of Christ's supper. . . . . . . . According to them there is no purgatory, and all that die, immediately pass either into heaven or hell. That therefore the prayers of the church for the dead are of no use, because those that are in heaven do not want them, nor can those that are in hell be relieved by them. And from thence they infer, that all offerings made for the dead are only of use to the clergymen that eat them, and not to the deceased, who are incapable of being profited by them. They hold, that the saints in heaven do not hear the prayers of the faithful, nor regard the honours which are done to them, because their bodies lie dead here beneath, and their spirits are at so great a distance from us in heaven, that they can neither hear our prayers nor see the honours which we pay them. They add, that the saints do not pray for us, and that therefore, we are not to entreat their intercession, because, being swallowed up with heavenly joy, they cannot attend to us, nor indeed to any thing else. Hence they deride all the festivals which we celebrate in honour of the saints, and all other instances of our veneration for them. Accordingly, wherever they can do it, they secretly work upon holy days, arguing, that since working is good, it cannot be evil to do that which is good on a holy day. . . . . . . . .

    Looking in the Encyclopedia Britannica (1957), under "COUNCIL," it is found that the subject of the third Lateran council, called in 1179, was "Albigensians; Waldensians." Under the article, "LATERAN COUNCILS," the same encyclopedia says, of the fourth Lateran council, that:

The seventy decrees of the council begin with a confession of faith directed against the Cathari and Waldenses, which is significant if only for the mention of a transubstantion of the elements in Lord's Supper. A series of resolutions provided in detail for the organized suppression of heresy and for the institution of the episcopal inquisition (Canon 3). On every Christian, of either sex, arrived at years of discretion, the duty was imposed of confessing at least once annually and of receiving the Eucharist at least at Easter (Canon 21). . . . . . .

Under the heading, "ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH," Encyclopedia Britannica has this:

At the fourth Lateran council (1215) Innocent III (1198-1216) published a definition of the faith which, after affirming the doctrine of the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Judgement, says:

"There is moreover one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no man at all is saved, in which the same Jesus Christ is both the priest and the sacrifice, whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the peices of bread and wine, the bread being transubstantiated into the body and the wine into the blood by the divine power, in order that, to accomplish the mystery of unity, we ourselves may receive of His that which He received of ours. And this thing, the sacrament to wit, no one can make (conficere) but a priest, who has been duly ordained, according to the keys of the Church, which Jesus Christ Himself granted to the apostles and their successors.

But the sacrament of baptism, which is consecrated in water at the invocation of God and the undivided Trinity, that is of the Father, and of the Son and Holy Spirit, being duly conferred in the form of the Church by any person, whether upon children or adults, is profitable to salvation. And if anyone, after receiving baptism, has fallen into sin, he can always be restored (reparari) by true penitence.

Not only virgins and the continent, but also married persons, deserve, by right faith and good works pleasing to God, to come to eternal blessedness" (cited by Alexander Hamilton Thompson, Cambridge Medieval History, vol. vi, p.635).

The last article of the definition quoted above refers to the Catharist or Albigensian heresy, which in the 12th and 13th centuries threatened large areas of Hungary, Germany, Italy and France. It rejected infant baptism, purgatory, the communion of saints, the use of images and the doctrine of the Trinity. Above all, the Cathars attacked the institution of marriage, which was the basis of all social custom and law, sacred and secular, in the west. Catharism was anarchy and heresy at once. It implied the complete subversion of the social structure and the complete denial of the Christian faith. . . . . . . .

Most of those charges of Catharist/ Albigensian/ Waldensian "heresy," when using the Bible as the final authority for all faith and practice, sound very complimentary to me. It is to be noted that the statement by Encyclopedia Britannica, that they rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, does not agree with the preponderance of evidence. Not only was there agreement in matters of faith and practice between the Cathars, Albigenses, and Waldenses, but the Roman Catholic persecutors, as well as the encyclopedia at issue, as we have seen, considered the heresy of each as synonymous. In book I, chapter VI, of The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont, Samuel Morland exhibits a discourse which he labels, "The noble Lesson written in the Language of the ancient Inhabitants of the Valleys, in the Year 1100. Extracted out of a most authentick Manuscript, the true Original whereof is to be seen in the publick Library of the famous University of Cambridg." "The noble Lesson" is there given in the original, and in the Old English (which the entire book is written in). I will quote a few lines with modern spelling. "The noble Lesson" says, "There are already a thousand and one hundred years fully acomplished, Since it was written thus, For we are in the last time." That statement dates "The noble Lesson" at about a hundred years previous to the fourth Lateran council. On the next page, after mentioning "God the Father," "his glorious Son," and "the Holy Ghost," it says, "These three (the holy Trinity) as being but one God, ought to be called upon." The third reason given by Rainerius as to why "there is none more pernicious" to the Roman Catholic Church was:

Because all others beget in people a dread and horror of them by their blasphemies against God. But this on the contrary hath a great appearance of godliness, because they live righteously before men, and believe rightly of God in all things, and hold all the articles contained in the Creed, hating and reviling the church of Rome; and in this they are easily believed of the people. (Perrin, book II, ch.I)

Had the "heretics" rejected the Trinity, Rainerius would not have said that they, "believe rightly of God in all things." The Creed that Rainerius claimed, in 1254, that they "hold all the articles contained in," says:

1. I believe in one God, the Father, the almighty Creator of heaven and earth.

2. And in Jesus Christ, His only-begotten Son, our Lord.

3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin Mary.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

(Martyrs Mirror p.27)

Note, also, that the encyclopedia article, quoted earlier, stated that "the Cathars attacked the institution of marriage." The true Christians were often charged with that accusation. The truth is, they did not attack the institution of marriage; in fact, they believed strongly in the institution of marriage. The Roman Catholics insisted that only their own clergy had the authority to perform a valid wedding ceremony. They held that the "heretic" pastors had no legal authority to marry anyone, and as a result, those married by them were adulterers. The members of the Lord's congregations, of course, refused to submit to the Catholics, and thus were charged with attacking or rejecting the institution of marriage. Representative of their position at that time, is the following statement, in book I, chapter V of The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Piemont. In what is labeled, "The ancient Discipline of the Evangelical Churches in the Valleys of PIEMONT. Extracted out of divers Authentick Manuscripts, written in their own Language several hundreds of Years before either Calvin or Luther," ARTICLE VIII states:

Marriage ought to be performed according to the rules prescribed by God, and not within those degrees which he hath forbidden. And there need no scruple of conscience be made concerning what the Pope hath forbidden, although we give him no money for a dispensation; for that which God hath not forbidden may very well be done without his permission.

The bond of holy marriage ought not to be made without the consent of friends on both sides, for as much as children ought to be wholly at the disposal of their parents.

Many of those true congregations of Christ's continued to earnestly contend for the faith through good times and bad. Besides the names already mentioned, some were called Arnoldists, Henricians, Paulicians, and other names. All came to be commonly called Ana-Baptists (rebaptizers). During times of most severe persecution, they were forced to take refuge in the mountains, living in caves and among rocks, and meeting in secret. In times of less severe persecution, missionaries were sent throughout the world. Wherever they went, they were hated and persecuted.

William Jones' The History of the Christian Church (volume I, p.486-488) tells this story:

Towards the middle of the twelfth century, a small society of these Puritans, as they were called by some, or Waldenses, as they are termed by others, or Paulicians, as they are denominated by our old monkish historian, William of Neuburg, made their appearance in England. This latter writer speaking of them, says, "they came originally from Gascoyne, where, being as numerous as the sand of the sea, they sorely infested both France, Italy, Spain, and England." The following is the account given by Dr. Henry, in his History of Great Britain, vol. viii.p.338. Oct. ed. of this emigrating party, which, in substance, correspondence with what is said of them by Rapin, Collier, Lyttleton, and other of our writers.

"A company, consisting of about thirty men and women, who spoke the German language, appeared in England at this time (1159), and soon attracted the attention of government by the singularity of their religious practices and opinions. It is indeed very dificult to discover with certainty what their opinions were, because they are recorded only by our monkish historians, who speak of them with much asperity. They were apprehended and brought before a council of the clergy at Oxford. Being interrogated about their religion, their teacher, named Gerard, a man of learning, answered in their name, that they were Christians, and believed the doctrines of the apostles. Upon a more particular inquiry, it was found that they denied several of the received doctrines of the church, such as purgatory, prayers for the dead, and the invocation of saints; and refusing to abandon these damnable heresies, as they were called, they were condemned as incorrigible heretics, and delivered to the secular arm to be punished. The king, (Henry II.) at the instigation of the clergy, commanded them to be branded with a red hot iron on the forehead, to be whipped through the streets of Oxford, and, having their clothes cut short by their girdles, to be turned into the open fields, all persons being forbidden to afford them any shelter or relief under the severest penalties. This cruel sentence was executed in its utmost rigour; and being the depth of winter, all these unhappy persons perished with cold and hunger. These seem to have been the first who suffered death in Britain, for the vague and variable crime of heresy, and it would have been much to the honour of the country if they had been the last."

    It appears that there remained many of the true congregations of the Lord in the Piedmont valleys and surrounding mountains up to the sixteenth century. Let me not be mistaken to imply that all congregations up till that time, or at any time, going by the names previously mentioned, were the Lord's true congregations. Many were, but many were not. Rainerius Sacco, the thirteenth century inquisitor, quoted earlier, wrote that some of those "heretics":

. . . frequent our churches, are present at divine service, offer at the altar, receive the sacrament, confess to the preists, observe the church fasts, celebrate festivals, and receive the priest's blessing, bowing their heads, though in the meantime they scoff at all these institutions of the church, looking upon them as profane and hurtful. They say it is sufficient for their salvation if they confess to God, and not to man.

(The History of the Christian Church by William Jones, vol.II, p.26-27)

Those were not true disciples. They disliked and disapproved of Papal authority, but were willing to compromise their faith and practice for social acceptance. Such practice led to the existence of many irregular congregations among the Waldenses of the Piedmont valleys. Those irregular congregations had little problem unionizing with the protestants of the Reformation, and were soon practicing infant baptism. In the year 1655 came a very intense and severely bloody perscution to the Piedmont valley area. Many cases, giving specific names, dates, locations, witnesses, and gory details of martyrdom, are catalogued in The History of the Evangelical Churches of the Valleys of Piemont, by Samuel Morland. Probably most, if not all, the congregations remaining true to the Lord in that area were exterminated or driven out at that time.

    Not only was the truth preserved among many of Jesus' true congregations in the Piedmont area and taken by them into surrounding countries, but it is often found that the Lord already had true congregations established in those places. That should not be surprising when we consider the territory covered by the apostles, as recorded in the New Testament. Not only that, but most of the other members of those first congregations were preaching the gospel everywhere they went. Throughout most of the centuries, Jesus' congregations have usually been small, scattered, and through the world's eyes, pretty insignificant. Much of the time they have had only very modest, or no, meeting houses; and when they did, they have many times been dispossessed of their buildings through persecution. Sometimes that dispossession has come by violent persecution, and sometimes, as in more recent times, by simply being "rooted out" by an apostate or unregenerate element of the membership. The world would have us think, "You can't have a church without a building," but I have concluded from history and from personal observation, that the Lord's congregations are often their most effective when they do not have a building. I do not mean that they should not have a building, or that it should not be a nice one, but it should definitely not be a top priority, or be considered a requirement. The New Testament certainly lists no such requirement.

    Let us now back up to the first century and study briefly the existence of believers in another locality that has been used by Christ to plant His congregations throughout the world. On page 6 of History of the Welsh Baptists, published in 1835, J. Davis wrote:

That the apostle Paul also preached the gospel to the ancient Britons, is very probable from the testimony of Theodoret and Jerome; but that he was the first that introduced the gospel to this island cannot be admitted; for he was a prisoner in Rome at the time the good news of salvation through the blood of Christ reached this region. That the apostle Paul had great encouragement to visit this country afterwards, will not be denied.

Continuing, on pages six and seven, Davis says:

About fifty years before the birth of our Saviour, the Romans invaded the British Isle, in the reign of the Welsh King, Cassibellan, but having failed in consequence of other and more important wars, to conquer the Welsh nation, made peace with them, and dwelt among them many years. During that period many of the Welsh soldiers joined the Roman army, and many families from Wales visited Rome, among whom there was a certain woman of the name of Claudia, who was married to a man named Pudence. At the same time, Paul was sent a prisoner to Rome, and preached there in his own hired house, for the space of two years, about the year of our Lord 63.

Acts 28:30-31 says:

And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

Back to Davis, on page seven:

Pudence and Claudia, his wife, who belonged to Ceasar's household, under the blessing of God on Paul's preaching, were brought to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, and made a profession of the Christian religion. These together with other Welshmen, among the Roman soldiers, who had tasted that the Lord was gracious, exerted themselves on the behalf of their countrymen in Wales, who were at that time vile idolaters.

Paul mentioned Claudia and Pudens in the closing of a letter, written while he was imprisoned at Rome, to Timothy, in II Timothy 4:21, which says:

Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.

Of this verse, Matthew Henry says, in his Commentary:

One of the heathen writers at this time mentions one Pudens and his wife Claudia, and says the Claudia was a Briton, whence some have gathered that it was this Pudens, and that Claudia here was his wife, and that they were eminent Christians at Rome.

In his introduction to the "Memoirs" in Sermons and Memoirs of Christmas Evans, Joseph Cross, gives the same account as Davis.

In the second preface to his The History of the English Baptists, published in 1738, Thomas Crosby said:

Now amongst the converts of the natives of this island, in the first age to Christianity, Claudia surnamed Ruffina, is refuted a principle; she was the wife to Pudence, a Roman senator; and that this is the Claudia, a Briton born, mentioned by St. Paul, then living at Rome.

In the account in the previously mentioned memoirs of Evans, Joseph Cross wrote:

About a century after this, Faganus and Daminicanus went to Rome, were converted there, and became "able ministers of the New Testament." In the year of our Lord 180, they were sent back to Wales, to preach to their own countrymen. They were zealous and successful laborers. They opposed the pagan superstitions of the Welsh with wonderful energy. They pursued Druidism to its dark retirements, and poured upon it the withering blaze of the gospel. Through their preaching, Lucius, king of Wales, was brought to embrace Christianity.

Bede, a Catholic priest who wrote the Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, in 731, wrote:

After the days of Lucius, the Britons preserved the faith which they had received, whole and inviolate, in a quiet and peaceable manner, until the reign of Diocletian.

Tertullian wrote that in 209, "those parts of Britain into which the Roman arms never penetrated have yielded subjection to Christ."

Encyclopedia Britannica (1957), under "WALES," says:

As to the coming of Christianity, there is nothing to associate it with Roman rule in Wales.

Back to Davis' History of the Welsh Baptists, on page nine, he says:

About the year 300 the Welsh Baptists suffered a terrible and bloody persecution which was the tenth pagan persecution under the reign of Diocletian. All history bearing on the subject testifies that the action of baptism in those times among these martyrs, was "immersion only."

Diocletian's strict orders were to burn up every Christian, every Meeting house, every scrap of written paper belonging to the Christians, or that gave any account of their rise and progress, and, no doubt many valuable documents were burnt that would have been very interesting to the present generation; and it is a wonder that any of them were preserved from the flames.

The Welsh Christians stood firm, resisting the inventions and innovations of the Roman Catholics under the rule of Constantine.

On page 190, volume I, of A General History of the Baptist Denomination, printed in 1813, David Benedict wrote:

About sixty years after the ascension of our Lord, christianity was planted in Britain, and a number of royal blood, and many of inferior birth, were called to be saints. Here the gospel flourished much in early times, and here also its followers endured many afflictions and calamities from pagan persecutors. The British christians experienced various changes of prosperity and adversity until about the year 600. A little previous to this period, Austin the monk, that famous Pedo-baptist and persecutor, with about forty others, were sent here by pope Gregory the great, to convert the pagans to popery, and to subject all the British christians to the dominion of Rome. The enterprise succeeded, and conversion (or rather perversion) work was performed on a large scale. King Ethelbert and his court, and a considerable part of his kingdom, were won over by the successful monk, who consecrated the river Swale, near York, in which he caused to be baptized ten thousand of his converts in a day.

Having met with so much success in England, he resolved to try what he could do in Wales. There were many British christians who had fled hither in former times to avoid the brutal ravages of the outrageous Saxons. The monk held a synod in their neighbourhood, and sent to their pastors to request them to receive the pope's commandment; but they utterly refused to listen to either the monk or pope, or to adopt any of their maxims. Austin, meeting with this prompt refusal, endeavoured to compromise matters with these strenuous Welshmen, and requested that they would consent to him in three things, one of which was that they should give christendom, that is, baptism to their children; but with none of his propositions would they comply. "Sins therefore," said this zealous apostle of popery and pedobaptism, "ye wol not receive peace of your brethren, ye of other shall have warre and wretche," and accordingly he brought the Saxons upon them to shed their innocent blood, many of them lost their lives for the name of Jesus.

Joseph Cross, in the previously mentioned introduction to the memoirs of Christmas Evans, wrote:

Twelve hundred ministers and delegates were slaughtered, and afterward many of their brethren. Their leaders being slain, the majority of the survivors reluctantly purchased peace at the sacrifice of conscience, submitting to the creed and usages of Rome. Yet there were some who repudiated the doctrine of the pope's supremacy, and maintained for a season the simplicity of the gospel. But they lived among the mountains, in seclusion from the world, like the inhabitants of the vale of Piedmont.

Let us now continue with the quotation of David Benedict, on page 191, vol. I. The memoirs he refers to here, are the "Memoirs of the English Baptists," written by Josiah Taylor of Calne, Wiltsshire, England, in the English Baptist Magazine. Benedict says:

The Baptist historians in England contend that the first British christians were Baptists, and that they maintained Baptist principles until the coming of Austin. "We have no mention," says the author of the Memoirs, "of the christening or baptizing children in England, before the coming of Austin in 597; and to us it is evident he brought it not from heaven but from Rome. But though the subject of baptism began now to be altered, the mode of it continued in the national church a thousand years longer, and baptism was administered by dipping, &c." From the coming of Austin the church in this island was divided into two parts, the old and the new. The old or Baptist church maintained their original principles. But the new church adopted infant baptism, and the rest of the multiplying superstitions of Rome.

Austin's requesting the British christians, who opposed his popish mission, to baptize their children, is a circumstance which the English and Welsh Baptists consider of much importance. They infer from it, that before Austin's time, infant baptism was not practised in England, and that though he converted multitudes to his pedobaptist plan, yet many, especially in Wales and Cornwall, opposed it; and the Welsh baptists contend that Baptist principles were maintained in the recesses of their mountainous Principality all along through the dark reign of popery.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William the Conqueror ascended the British throne in 1066. During his reign, the Waldenses and their disciples from France, Germany, and Holland, began to emigrate to and abound in England. About the year 1080, they are said to have propagated their sentiments throughout England; so that not only the meaner sort in country villages, but the nobility and gentry in the chiefest towns and cities, embraced their doctrines, and of course adopted the opinions of the Baptists, for we have no information that any of the Waldenses at this period, had fallen off to infant baptism. For more than a hundred years, that is from 1100 to 1216, during the successive reigns of Henry I. Stephen, Henry II. Richard I. and John, the Waldenses increased and were unmolested.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . We must now pass on to the reign of Edward II. in 1315, when Walter Lollard, a German preacher of great renown among the Waldenses, and a friend to believers baptism, came into England and preached with great effect. His followers and the Waldenses generally in England for many generations after him were called Lollards . . . .

Just as with all the other names, not all that were called Lollards were true congregations of Christ's, but many were.

    Although it was no little matter to be an Ana-baptist, or even express agreement with their beliefs, there is good evidence of their continuous existence during this time throughout England and Wales. We are no doubt deprived of much of their history from the 1300s to the 1600s, because of the persecution which forced them to live simple, inconspicuous lives in "out of the way" places. Not only would records and writings have likely been avoided, many probably were destroyed by the enemies. Much of their meeting was done in hiding, and in secret. There were at least some regular "meeting houses" maintained and used when possible. One is that known as Hill Cliffe. In History of the Baptist Church at Hill Cliffe, James Kenworthy wrote:

We cannot go back to the foundation of the Hill Cliffe Church, but at the time that the earliest reference is made to it, it is then in a flourishing condition, and the very reference itself points to its earlier existence.

The selection of Hill Cliffe as a place of meeting for Christian worshippers can only be accounted for on the ground that the great object in view was concealment from their persecutors. It would be impossible to have chosen a better place for the purpose. Surrounded as it was until recent times by woods, at a safe distance also from the public highways, and very near the boundary of the counties of Lancaster and Chester, it was as safe a place as could possibly have been found in those dark days of persecution. Whenever the persecuting spirit was strong in Lancashire, then the people would worship at Hill Cliffe, but when the persecuting spirit in Cheshire was the stronger, the people worshipped in Warrington, there being at the earliest time of which there remain any records of the existence of Hill Cliffe Chapel, a meeting-house in connection therewith at Warrington.

On page 31, Kenworthy says:

The earliest evidence of the existence of Hill Cliffe is found on a stone in the burial ground and bearing date 1357. Another stone has been found with the date 1414. Another has the date 1523, another 1599, but the dates of the greater portion of the old stones are lost.

The following are copied from stones in the burial ground:-

                 HERE LYS YeBODY
















Many others are then listed, up to about the time the book was written, the last of which is:





AUGUST 3RD, 1892.


On page 39, Kenworthy says:

During the rebuilding of the chapel in 1800 a stone baptistery, well cemented, was found in the ground. As no one at the time knew of its existence and it was evidently of great age, it is likely that as the more troublous times had passed, it fell into disuse, and the baptism of believers in the brooks and streams in the neighborhood took place. (From the ministry of the Rev. John Thompson up to recent times, the chief places of baptisms were at Lower Walton, near the brook that ran through the centre of the village, and in Cann Lane, Appleton.) This stone baptistery points to the great age for the chapel and the practice of immersion there.

The first minister of Hill Cliffe of whom anything is known was Mr. Weyerburton. . . He remained with the people to the end of his days, his death taking place in 1594.

In Bye-Paths in Baptist History, published in London, in 1871, J.J. Goadby, on pages 22-23, says:

Although Mr. Weyerburton is the first minister of Hill Cliffe of whom anything is known, he is not necessarily to be regarded as the earliest minister of the congregation. Mr. Dainteth succeeded Mr. Weyerburton. The graveyard contains the tomb of his successor--Thomas Slater Leyland, "a minister of the Gospel," as the inscription tells us. He was buried in the year preceeding the death of Queen Elizabeth. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Mr. Tillam was the minister of Hill Cliffe. Oliver Cromwell worshipped at the chapel when his army lay at Warrington, and one of his officers occupied the pulpit. . . . . . . . . . The earliest deeds of the property have been irrecoverably lost, but the extant deeds, which go back considerably over two hundred years [this was published in 1871], describe the property as being "for the use of the people commonly called Anabaptists."

Also, on page 23, Goadby says:

The church at Eythorne, Kent, owes its origin to some Dutch Baptists, who settled in this country in the time of Henry the Eighth. They were, doubtless, tempted to make England their home by the brisk trade that sprang up between this country and Holland, soon after the marriage of Henry with Anne of Cleves (1540).

On the next page, he says:

In the Calendar of State Papers (Domestic Series, 1547--1580), under the date of October 28th, 1552, we have this entry: "Northumberland, to Sir William Cecill. Wishes the King would appoint Mr. Knox to the Bishopric of Rochester. He would be a whetstone to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a confounder of the Anabaptists lately sprung up in Kent." It would be historically inaccurate to regard this as the first intimation of the existence of Baptists, as a separate community in England. Apart from the probabilities about the still earlier origin of Hill Cliffe Church, it should not be forgotten that Henry the Eighth had long before 1550 proclaimed to the nation how, "like a good Catholic priest, he abhorred and detested their (the Anabaptists') wicked and abominable errors and opinions;" that in his second proclamation, he had warned all Anabaptists and Zwinglians to depart out of the country, under pain of death; and that in the third proclamation, when Cranmer was a Protestant archbishop, Cranmer and eight others were authorized to make diligent search for Anabaptist men, Anabaptist letters, and Anabaptist books, full power being put into Cranmer's hands to deal capitally with each offender. The Baptists, in King Edward's days, might have lately sprung up in Kent, but these proclamations show that they were not then known for the first time in England.

Goadby also speaks of a John Knott, who, "became the pastor of Eythorne somewhere between 1590 and 1600."

    In The Church in the Hop Garden, "A Chatty Account of the Longworth-Coate Baptist Meeting: Berks and Oxfordshire (Ante 1481-1935) and its Ministers," John Stanley tells of an Anabaptist meeting-place being at Longworth, in England, about fourteen miles west of Oxford, in the year 1481, and then its history up to 1934. In chapter V, Stanley tells of the "first-known definite fact of the history of the Meeting":

A member of the family, Benjamin Williams, F.S.A., a keen antiquarian, a hundred years ago compiled the annals of his family, and some very full geneological tables. He spent many years and much labour on his researches. He starts with an original Parchment Lease, still in the archives of the family. This is the lease of the Homestead and Farm in Aston (Coate is now a hamlet of Aston) granted to Richard Williams in the twenty-first year of Edward IV. (1481), a hundred years after the death of Wycliffe. From 1547, when Thomas Cromwell made the keeping of Parochial Records compulsory, there is a continuous flow of the family name in the Bampton registers, and the local Court of Probate.

So Richard Williams, the farmer, of the days of Edward IV., is regarded as the founder of the family. The story of the settling is this. A religious persecution in Wales drove out two brothers named Williams. They were sheep farmers, and brought their flocks with them. They wandered on until they came into the neighborhood of Witney-- into a high road between Witney and Bampton. Here is the field known for a thousand years as Kingsway Field, the great field that Alfred the Great crossed to hold his Parliament at Shifford. Tempted by the fresh, sweet grass, the sheep broke through the great boundary hedge into the field. The break is still known as the Welshman's Gap. The Gap is mentioned in a Bishop's Terrier (an Episcopal "Doomsday Book," now in the Bodleian Library) as a well-known landmark, in 1577--ninety-six years after one of the emigrants had obtained the lease at Aston. They crossed the field into Aston. Hungry, weary and perplexed, they knelt down and besought the Divine Guidance. After the sign-seeking manner of the times, they threw a straw into the air, determined to follow its direction. It flew in the direction of Coate. At Coate they came across a friendly farmer, and settled there. One of the Welshmen married the farmer's daughter and became the progenitor of John Williams, the Martyr-Missionary. This would be Richard Williams, who leased the Homestead at Aston. The other brother remained unmarried.

The friendly farmer was an Anabaptist, and worshipped with the Anabaptist Meeting at Longworth, across the river.

The point to be noted is this: that an Anabaptist Meeting is found at Longworth about a hundred years after Wycliffe's death, and fifty years before Henry VIII. formed his new Church of England.

    Another congregation that should be mentioned here was organized in London, in 1633. The following is from pages 138-139 of D.B. Ray's Baptist Succession, where he quotes from volume I of Thomas Crosby's four volume History of the English Baptists, published in 1738. Ray says:

Mr. Crosby introduces the testimony of William Kiffen as follows: "This agrees with an account given of the matter in an ancient manuscript, said to be written by Mr. William Kiffen, who lived in those times, and was a leader among those of that persuasion.

This relates, that several sober and pious persons belonging to the congregations of the dissenters about London, were convinced that believers were the only proper subjects of baptism, and that it ought to be administered by immersion or dipping the whole body into the water, in resemblance of a burial and resurrection, according to Colos. ii:12, and Rom. vi:4. That they often met together to pray and confer about this matter, and consult what methods they should take to enjoy this ordinance in its primitive purity: That they could not be satisfied about any administrator in England to begin this practice; because, though some in this nation rejected the baptism of infants, yet they had not, as they knew of, revived the ancient custom of immersion. But, hearing that some in the Netherlands practiced it, they agreed to send over one Mr. Richard Blunt, who understood the Dutch language: That he went accordingly, carrying letters of recommendation with him, and was kindly received both by the church there, and Mr. John Batte, their teacher: That upon his return he baptized Mr. Samuel Blacklock, a minister, and these two baptized the rest of their company, whose names are in the manuscript to the number of fifty-three.

So that those who followed this scheme did not receive their baptism from the aforesaid Mr. Smith, or his congregation at Amsterdam, it being an ancient congregation of foreign Baptists in the low countries to whom they sent." Crosby, vol.I,pp.101, 102; see also, Ivimey, vol.I,p.143; Neal's Hist. Pur., vol.II, p.361; Orchard, vol.II, p.260.

Here we have the undisputed historic fact, that the Baptists of London were so careful to obtain valid baptism that they delegated Richard Blunt, formerly a Pedobaptist minister, to visit a regular Baptist church at Amsterdam, in Holland, which belonged to the old Waldensean succession. And after the baptism of Richard Blunt by John Batte, by the authority of said church, he returned to London and baptized Samuel Blacklock, and they baptized the rest of the company, to the number of fifty-three members; and thus was formed a Baptist church, which was afterward recognized as a Particular Baptist church.

After examining Richard Blunt and the letters he brought with him, the congregation in the Netherlands baptized him and sent him home to London with the authority, approval, and express purpose of baptizing the fifty-three others and organizing them into a true congregation. It may seem strange that they did not know of a congregation in England or Wales from which they could obtain scriptural baptism, but we must remember the situation of the time and place. The climate of persecution from the Church of England of those who would not conform dictated that the Lord's congregations not be very well known about. That they were the same kind, or of like faith and order, is evident in their fellowship, shortly after, with the other Sovereign Grace Ana-Baptist congregations of England and Wales, already in existence. The American Baptist Heritage in Wales, transcribed from the manuscript of "History of the Baptist Churches in Wales" by Joshua Thomas, a Baptist preacher in Wales who lived from 1719-1797, on pages 28-29, speaking of the congregation at Olchon, in Wales, says:

No doubt the aged people there well remembered the former troubles, before 1640. From 1660 to 1688 they were much persecuted despised, yet a remnant continued through the whole.

They met to worship in various places where they could; sometimes in a friend's house and often out. One day or night they would meet in some retired place of the Black Mountain, but when they understood that the informers had heard of the place; then they would change it and fix upon another spot; thus they shifted from place to place. A noted rock, they frequented for the purpose, is called, Y Darren ddn, on the west side of Olchon, and well known still. A little below it, there was then a large wood, there is part of it now; that wood was often their meeting place. That was the estate of Mr. Hugh Lewis, a gentleman of property and influence but no persecutor. His son, Mr. Nathan Lewis, was a strong advocate for the persecuted Baptists. Mr. Thomas Lewis, another son, was a Baptist after and lived at Abergavenny. There was also a daughter, who was a member. So on the whole they had favor and interest there.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Notwithstanding all favors and cautions, the good people were often taken, beaten, abused, fined, and imprisoned. They were hunted like David, through woods, through mountains, and the rocks of wild goats. Of whom the world was not worthy, they wandered in desert, mountains, dens and caves. At times when they met to worship at friends' houses, it was running great risk and hazards.

In a later chapter, we will see the migration of members from these very congregations, and their offspring, into America.

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