Shackelford on Baptist History (Complete)

Chapter 22: Branches of the Roman Catholic Church

It is often stated by ministers of other denominations that the Baptists are a branch of the church of Christ. It has been clearly shown that they have never affiliated with Rome. They have always rejected her baptisms and ordinations. The Catholics themselves admit that the Baptists are the only people with whom they have any fight to make.

Nearly all other denominations trace their origin to the Catholic church, and most of them are traceable to the Roman Catholic church. If these organizations are branches of the church of Christ, then it follows, as surely as effect follows cause, that the Catholic church is the church of Christ.

It may be answered that many persons have, according to our history, been coming out of Rome all along the past centuries, and became great leaders among the Baptists, such as Waldo, Peter de Bruce, Arnold and the leaders among the Paulicians. It is true that many of these came from the Catholics, but it is also true that in coming from the Catholics they were received by those with whom they became identified, only on condition that they would renounce their former baptism and be baptized at the hands of regular Baptists, just as Baptists receive Pedobaptists today. This was done while the Catholics still practiced immersion. Even their immersions were not recognized as valid baptism, after the Catholics had departed so far from the faith as to be no longer regarded as the true churches of Christ. For this reason these people were all called Anabaptists.

Baptists repudiate the insinuation that their churches are a branch of the church of Christ, but claim that their’s are the true churches, and those who came to them from Rome came singly and individually, and were received in the same way as others.

The denominations which came out of Rome did not come out this way. They all came out in a reformation, claiming that the spotless bride of Christ had become corrupt, and brought with them only Romish baptism and Romish ordination. For this reason the Catholics claim to have no fight to make with them, but that they are disobedient children.

Space will not allow us to mention but a few of the leading denominations with which the Baptists have come in contact, and this is done, not with any unkind feeling, but that Baptist history may stand out in the bold relief to which it is entitled and that the world may know why we do not recognize these “branches” of Rome as churches of Christ.

While we do not recognize these reforms as true churches, let it be understood that we do recognize their converted members as real Christians. The Baptist principle is, and always has been that the new birth is prerequisite to baptism, and baptism prerequisite to church membership. Baptism and church membership have nothing to do with any one’s salvation, but much with the Christian’s obedience. With Baptists it is the blood of Christ, always, before baptism, and baptism before church membership.

The Presbyterian Church

The first branch of the Roman Catholic church which claims our attention, because the oldest, is the Presbyterian church. John Calvin has usually had the credit of having been the founder of the Presbyterian church. While it is true he gave that church its present character, it is not true that he was its founder. Mosheim, D’Aubigne and Dr. J. Newton Brown, all attribute the origin of the Presbyterian church to Ulric Zwingle.

This organization came into existence in the year 1527, in Zurich, Switzerland, and was a result of the reformation of the sixteenth century. It was known in its earliest existence, and is always spoken of by Mosheim, as the Reformed church. Soon after its separation from the Catholic church John Calvin became identified with it, and had more to do with moulding its character than any other man.

D’Aubigne, in his History of the Reformation, vol. 3, p. 233, in speaking of Zwingle’s efforts for the reformation, says: “Thus did Zwingle vindicate the rights of the people, whom Rome had deprived of their privileges. The assembly before which he was speaking was not, in his judgment, the church of Zurich, but its first representative. This was the beginning of the Presbyterian system in the age of the Reformation. Zwingle was withdrawing Zurich from the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Constance, separating it from the Latin hierarchy, and founding on this idea of the flock, of the Christian assembly, a new ecclesiastical constitution, to which other countries were afterwards to adhere.”

The Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge under article, Zwinglius (Ulricus) says: “Zwinglius (meaning Zwingle) was by no means disposed to lose an opportunity of unfolding his doctrine before a numerous auditory, which appeared to be disposed in his favor. He therefore repaired to Berne, accompanied by several Swiss and German theologians, who all assembled at Zurich towards the end of the year 1527. As soon as Zwinglius arrived at Berne, the convocation began its sittings, at which the great council assisted in a body. The ten theses, composed by Haller, containing the essential points of Zwinglius’ doctrine, were successfully discussed. Zwinglius and those of his party defended them with so much success, that they gained over a great number of the clergy to their doctrines. The conference at Berne was very serviceable to the cause of reform, from the splendor reflected on it by the union of so many celebrated men. The town adopted the reformed worship, and, in the space of four months, all the municipalities of the canton followed the example.”

Mosheim, vol. 3, p. 103, says: “The reformed church, founded by Zwingle and Calvin, differs considerably, in its nature and constitution, from all other ecclesiastical communities.” The same author, p. 105, says: “The reformed church had scarcely been founded in Switzerland by Zwingle, when the Christian hero fell in a battle that was fought, in 1530, between the Protestants of Zurich, and their Roman Catholic compatriots, who drew the sword in defence of popery.”

On the death of Luther, in 1546, an effort was made to form a union of the Reformed church and the Lutherans, and this movement was facilitated, says Mosheim, by the theological system which was adopted by John Calvin. There was a failure, however, to unite the two denominations, and Calvin infused his doctrines into the Reformed church. On this subject Mosheim says:

“In the year 1541, John Calvin, who surpassed almost all the doctors of this age in laborious application, constancy of mind, force of eloquence, and extent of genius, returned to Geneva, whence the opposition of his enemies had obliged him to retire. On his settlement in that city the affairs of the new church were committed to his direction; and he acquired also a high degree of influence in the political administration of that republic. This event changed entirely the face of affairs and gave a new aspect to the Reformed church.”

There can be no doubt that Calvin taught sacramental salvation. He believed that Christ’s real presence was in the elements of the Lord’s Supper. Mosheim, vol. 2, p. 110, says: “Calvin observed among other things that the divine grace was conferred upon sinners, and sealed to them by the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.”

I think it is clearly made out that Zwingle, and not Calvin, was the founder of the Presbyterian church.

I here subjoin an extract from a sermon, by Dr. Thomas Guthrie, of Edinburgh, Scotland, in his book of sermons called “Gospel in Ezekiel.” On page 212, of this book, this distinguished Presbyterian preacher says:

”Three hundred years ago, our church, with an open Bible on her banner, and this motto, ‘Search the Scriptures,’ in its scroll, marched out from the gates of Rome. Did they come clean out of Babylon? Experience shows that it is much easier to leave our mother country than drop our mother tongue. Across the seas which they sail, and to the lands which they settle on, the emigrants carry their prejudices, passions, and even superstitions. They people the glens and valleys of the new world with fairies that dance on the green, and the spectres that walk by night among the haunted ruins of the old country. So I fear that on departing from the church of Rome, we carried into our Protestantism—as was not unnatural—some of her ancient superstitions; just as our fathers carried into their practice some of her intolerant principles. We cannot approve of their intolerance, yet it admits of an apology. They had been suckled by the wolf, and it is no great wonder that, with the milk of the wolf, they should have imbibed something of her nature.”

This candid statement of Dr. Guthrie that the Presbyterian church, when it came out of Rome, brought with it some Romish superstitions is equally as applicable to some other organizations which came out of Rome, as it is to the Presbyterian.

The Presbyterians have been persecuted both by the Episcopalians and the Catholics. They have also, when they have had the power, in like manner persecuted others. The Presbyterian, at this time, is the established church in Scotland. Its baptisms and ordinations have descended direct from the Romish church, and its unpretentious claims to being only a branch of the church of Christ is true, if the Catholic be that church.

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church

The Cumberland Presbyterian church branched off from the Presbyterian church in 1810, in just the same way that the latter came from the Roman Catholic church. The causes were, however, not so grave and were produced by questions of church polity rather than doctrine.

About the year 1805, there arose a remarkable revival of religion among a portion of the Presbyterian church in the western part of Kentucky and Tennessee. Meetings were held in the open air, and multitudes nocked together from long distances. This, says Milner, was the origin of camp meetings. As the number of converts was very great, and religion was extended into destitute places, a necessity arose for an increased number of ministers. In order to meet this emergency some persons were introduced into the ministerial office without having the necessary education, as required by the Presbyterian church. It was supposed also that these men were not altogether in accord with some of the doctrines of the Presbyterian church.

The Synod of Kentucky, to which the Cumberland Presbytery belonged, looked into the matter, and a commission was appointed with full powers to act in the place of the Synod. This commission required all persons belonging to the Cumberland Presbytery, who had been ordained, or licensed, without an examination on all the branches of learning or doctrine required in their Confession of Faith, to appear before them for a regular examination. To this demand the Presbytery refused to submit. The commission then passed a resolution prohibiting such persons from exercising any official duties.

The Presbytery appealed to the General Assembly for a redress of grievances, but after waiting five years, and failing in their endeavors, Revs. Samuel McAdow, Finis Ewing and Samuel King declared themselves independent and formed the Cumberland Presbyterian church.

These men had all been ordained previously to their separation from the Presbyterian church, and their ordination was certainly as regular and valid as that of Zwingle or Calvin, the founders of the Presbyterian church, since the latter had only Romish ordination and Romish baptism.

The doctrines of the Cumberland Presbyterian church are a modification of those contained in the Westminster Confession. They are strictly Presbyterian in government and order.

The Episcopal Church, or Church of England

This church originated in the year 1534, and differed very little in its beginning from the Roman Catholic church, out of which it came. Henry VIII., of England, was its founder and was himself so staunch a Catholic that Leo, the pope of Rome, conferred on him the title of “Defender of the Faith.” The Episcopal church originated as follows:

Henry desired to obtain a divorce from his wife, Catharine, in order that he might marry Anne Boleyn, one of the queen’s maids, who by her beauty of form and graces of mind had alienated the affections of the king from his wife. The pope desired to grant the king’s request, but obstacles arose in the pope’s way so that he was unable to comply with Henry’s desire, and the king clandestinely married the queen’s maid, and afterwards had his former marriage with Catharine annulled. These acts brought about a breach between Henry and the Catholic church, so that the king was declared the supreme head of the church of England.

Henry afterwards caused Queen Anne to be beheaded, that he might marry Lady Jane Seymour, which he did the next day after his wife was executed. Just before her execution, Queen Anne “sent her last message to the king and acknowledged the obligations which she owed him, in thus uniformly continuing his endeavors for her advancement: from a private gentlewoman, she said, he had first made her a marchioness, then a queen, and now, since he could raise her no higher in the world, he was sending her to be a saint in heaven.” She said to the lieutenant:

“The executioner is, I hear, very expert; and my neck is very slender,” upon which she grasped it in her hand and smiled.

The king had accused his wife of perfidy, and made this the pretext for her execution. From the time of Henry’s marriage with Anne Boleyn, the church of England had a separate existence from the Roman Catholic church.

The Episcopal church retained the ritual of the church of Rome in a modified sense, and Macaulay says was a compromise between the Romish church and the Presbyterian. In Macaulay’s History of England, vol. 1, p. 40, he says: “To this day the constitution, the doctrines, and the services of the church retain the visible marks of the compromise from which she sprang. She occupies a middle position between the churches of Rome and Geneva. Her doctrinal confessions and discourses, composed by the Protestants, set forth principles of theology in which Calvin or Knox would have found scarcely a word to disapprove. Her prayers and thanksgivings, derived from the ancient liturgies, are very generally such that Bishop Fisher or Cardinal Pole might have heartily joined in them.”

On page 42, the same author says: “Shrift was no part of her system. Yet she gently invited the dying penitent to confess his sins to a divine, and empowered her ministers to soothe the departing soul by an absolution, which breathes the very spirit of the old religion.”

Macaulay further says: “The king was to be the pope of his kingdom, the vicar of God, the expositor of Catholic verity, the channel of sacramental graces.”

This church has, during the three hundred and fifty years of its existence, been modeled to suit itself to the different State governments where its organizations have existed. In the United States of America its government has been largely modified in order to adapt it to our American institutions.

The Episcopal church, by virtue of its establishment, having been supported by the royal arms, has not suffered persecutions to the same extent that others have. It however suffered severely at the hands of the Catholics for three years, beginning in 1555, under the short but cruel reign of “Bloody Mary.”

It has never failed to persecute other denominations and to enforce its own religion when opportunity offered. The Episcopal church is a lineal descendent of the church of Rome.

The Methodist Episcopal Church

The Methodist Episcopal church is an offshoot of the Episcopal church, or church of England, and is, therefore, one of the branches of the Romish hierarchy. It is properly, according to the highest Methodist authorities, only about one hundred years old, though dating back as a society to the year 1729. It originated in a manner very similar to the Young Men’s Christian Association. Mr. Benedict gives the following account of its origin:

“In the month of November, 1729, John Wesley, who was at that time a fellow of Lincoln College, began to spend some evenings in reading the Greek Testament, with Charles Wesley, student; Mr. Morgan, commoner of Christ’s church; and Mr. Kirkham, of Merton College. Not long after, two or three of the pupils of Mr. John Wesley, and one pupil of Mr. Charles Wesley, obtained leave to attend these meetings. They began to visit the sick in different parts of the town, and the prisoners also, who were confined in the castle. Two years after they were joined by Mr. Ingham, of Queen’s College, Mr. Broughton and Mr. Hervey; and in 1735, by the celebrated Mr. George Whitfield, then in his eighteenth year. At this time their number in Oxford amounted to about fourteen. They obtained their name from the exact regularity of their lives, which gave occasion to a young gentleman of Christ’s church to say, ‘Hero is a new sect of Methodists sprung up; ‘alluding to a sect of ancient physicians who were called Methodists because they reduced the whole healing art to a few common principles, and brought it into some method and order.”

These societies never claimed to be anything more than societies for more than fifty years after their formation. During all this time their ministers never administered baptism, except as they were connected with some church organization, independent of the societies. Mr. Wesley did not claim that these societies were churches, during the first fifty years of their existence. Nor was baptism required of its members for fifty years after these societies came to be recognized as a church. Here is the statement of the late Rev. Dr. J. B. McFerrin, of Nashville, Tennessee, made before the General Conference, in Richmond, Virginia, in the year 1886:

”I wonder how many of this General Conference could tell, Mr. Chairman, when baptism was made a condition of membership in the Methodist church! I wonder if you know yourself! Fifty years ago, exactly, I happened to be in a Methodist General Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a rule was introduced into the Discipline, requiring baptism as a condition of membership. Until that time there never was a rule in the M. E. church, that ever I found, requiring a man to be baptized before he got into the church. We ran one hundred years after organization without making baptism a rite of our worship. Wasn’t that curious? And yet it is true. And then a great many of the brethren woke up to it. Why, sir, a great many preachers used to be licensed to preach, and actually went on a circuit, before they had been baptized. Bishop Paine himself was a young preacher, and came up to the Conference to be admitted, if he could, before his probation was out, before he had been baptized.”

This statement can be relied on, inasmuch as Dr. McFerrin was a distinguished minister of the M. E. church.

Another “curious” fact in regard to the Methodist church is that regeneration, or the new birth, was not a condition of membership in these Methodist societies, which they are now pleased to call a church. Nor is it a condition of membership at the present time, for they receive and baptize persons into their membership without this requirement. Thus the world and the church is wedded in Methodism. Mr. Wesley’s first general rule for admission to membership into their societies reads as follows:

“There is one only condition previously required of those who desire admission into these societies, a desire to flee from the wrath to come, and be saved from their sins.”

It is a well known fact that Mr. Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was not a converted man until long after he commenced preaching. He was a member of the church of England and never a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, but a member only of the society which finally developed into the M. E. church.

In 1784, Mr. Wesley ordained Dr. Coke, who was a presbyter of the church of England, and sent “him over to America, with Messrs. Whatcoat and Vasey, to convey to the American preachers the right to baptize and to administer the Lord’s Supper, appointing Coke and Asbury to be joint superintendents over our brethren in North America.”

The same author, Br. Myers, says: “The Methodist Episcopal church did not come into existence merely by Mr. Wesley’s ordaining Dr. Coke—nor by his appointing him and Asbury bishops—nor by Conference consenting to receive them as such—nor by Asbury’s ordination as deacon, elder, and bishop, on three consecutive days—nor by the ordination of a number of deacons; but its real existence dates from Sunday, January 2d, 1785, when twelve men (previously ordained deacons) were ordained elders of the Methodist Episcopal church. Then and thus was the Methodist Episcopal church born out of the societies, and brought into being as a church, by bishops, who found Methodism a society and by the prerogatives they brought with them, converted it into a church, and continued to rule over it with defined powers, fixed by mutual consent.”

Dr. Myers says that Mr. Wesley ”first consecrated one for the office of a bishop that our Episcopacy might descend from himself.”

This is a clear cut statement, from the very highest Methodist authority, of the origin of the M. E. church, with its regular succession from the Catholic church through the English channel. This distinguished author, Dr. Myers, says that it is a “generally accepted postulate among the Methodists that ordination is essential to the orderly administration of the sacraments.”

This being true, the Methodists have no better authority for the administration of the “sacraments” than that which is given by the pope of Rome, or the Romish priesthood, for they have, their own witnesses being true, descended in regular order from the Roman Catholic church and are a “branch” of that hierarchy, and not of Christ’s church.

The Methodist Protestant Church

This church grew out from, or branched off from the Methodist Episcopal church in the year 1828. The immediate cause of separation was the oppressive rule of the preachers of the M. E. church over the lay members. The private members had no voice in the transaction of business, or in the reception or exclusion of members. Nor had they any choice in the selection or maintenance of their preachers. It was “taxation without representation.”

The Protestant Methodist Discipline states that numerous petitions were presented to the conference of the M. E. church in 1824, praying for a representation of ministers and laymen in the rule making department; but no change, either in the principle or the practical operations of the government, could be obtained.

The disaffected element then begun to form Union Societies in all parts of the United States “in order to ascertain the number of persons in the M. E. church friendly to a change in her government.” This measure, says the Discipline, was followed by much persecution of reformers. Conventions were accordingly held, and delegates elected to meet in general convention, praying the general conference, of 1828, for representation. In consequence of which action, says the Methodist Protestant Discipline, the reformers in different parts of the country were made to feel the displeasure of the men who were in power.

In the fall of 1827, eleven ministers were suspended, and finally expelled from the M. E. church in Baltimore, as well as twenty-two laymen, for being members of the Union Society and supporters of the mutual rights. About fifty of the female friends of the suspended and expelled brethren immediately withdrew from the church, after addressing a letter to the preacher in charge in which they said: “To find our dear companions, fathers, brothers, children and friends, treated as criminals and enemies, persecuted, suspended and expelled, denounced as backsliders and disturbers of the peace, and ourselves treated coldly and distantly by our former friends, and by our pastors; and all for a mere difference of opinion about church government, is more than we feel bound in Christian charity longer to endure; and, therefore, we feel it our duty, in the fear of God, to withdraw from the church.”

A memorial was then presented to the general conference praying that the government of the church might be made more representative. This, however, failed, and the reformers finding that all hope of obtaining a change in the government of the church had vanished, withdrew in considerable numbers, in different parts of the United States, and, in November, 1828, formed themselves into a separate church.

The government of the Methodist Protestant church is a modified form of Episcopacy, while its doctrines remain substantially the same as those of the M. E. church. Their ordinations and baptism descended to them through the church of England and are therefore traceable to the church of Rome. If this church is a church of Christ, or a branch of the church of Christ, then the Catholic is a true church.

The M. E. Church South

This church seceded from the M. E. church in 1844, and, as its name indicates, was the result of sectional rather than doctrinal causes. The origin and history of the M. E. Church South is, therefore, the same as that of the M. E. church with the exception of the secular causes which produced the disruption in 1844.

Some little modifications have been made in its government since that time, and there is a show of lay representation, but this is only a show, as the ruling powers still remain in the general conference, where a ministerial majority prevails. This great iron wheel with its broad track still crushes the rights of the individual members of their “Societies,” and they have no voice in the reception or exclusion of their members, nor in the selection of their pastors or elders. None of the members of the “Societies” are members of the Methodist church proper, unless they at the same time belong to the conference, so that very few Methodists, properly speaking, are members of any church, the Methodists themselves being judge.

The Methodist bishops are arbitrary in their rulings, and possess almost unlimited authority over the inferior ministry. The Holston (N. C.) Methodists, in replying recently to a correspondent with reference to the power of the bishops, said:

”Does not our young brother know that antagonism to the Episcopacy, to the bishops, to a bishop, is a bread and meat question? Does he not know that every man’s appointments are at the disposal of the bishop? Does he not know that every man’s salaried position, from fifty up to five thousand dollars, is at the disposal of the bishop? This is tremendous power to put into the hands of one man or of a few men. “What an incentive to quietness, submission, patience, non-resistance in the traveling preacher! You will not find one man in a thousand that dares to kick against the pricks. It pays financially, temporally, to stand in with the bishops. They are only men—they are not angels, and if they were they would be fallible. Talk about Episcopal responsibility! Does W. L. R. covet a martyr’s crown? Who is to arraign the bishop? Who is to move against him in General Conference? Does he know of anybody that wants to rush upon the thick bosses of a bishop’s buckler? Is Samuel Steel, Tudor, McFerrin, Morrison or any of the so-called ‘giraffes’ going to do it? Doesn’t the ass know his master’s voice, and the ox his master’s crib? Are the strong men of the church the men that do not know, that do not consider?”

This quotation from a Methodist paper sufficiently shows the arbitrary power of the bishops of the M. E. Church South in 1890. The government of this church is in direct conflict with the spirit of religious liberty and American independence. Loyalty to Methodist church government and fidelity to the principles of a pure democracy cannot be buttoned up under the same waistcoat.

In regard to doctrine, this church is faithful to the teachings of John Wesley, and through their books, inculcate the Romish doctrine of sacramental salvation. In Mr. Wesley’s notes on Acts 22:16, he uses this language: “Baptism administered to real penitents, is both a means and seal of pardon. Nor did God ordinarily in the primitive church bestow this on any, unless through this means.”

On Romans 6:3, he comments as follows: “In baptism we, through faith, are ingrafted into Christ, and we draw new spiritual life from this root, through his Spirit, who fashions us like unto him, and particularly with regard to his death and resurrection.”

Again in commenting on being born of water in John 3:5, Mr. Wesley says: “Except he experience that great inward change by the Spirit, and be baptized (wherever baptism can be had) as the outward sign and means of it.”

In Watson’s Theological Institutes, part II. (page 440), which is laid down in the Methodist Discipline for the first year’s course of study for their young ministers, I find this language with reference to baptism:

“Baptism introduces the adult believer into the covenant of grace, and the church of Christ. It secures, too, the gift of the Holy Spirit in those secret spiritual influences, by which the actual regeneration of those children who die in infancy is effected; and which are a seed of life in those who are spared, to prepare them for instruction in the Word of God, as they are taught it by parental care, to incline their will and affections to good, and to begin and maintain in them the war against inward and outward evil, so that they may be divinely assisted, as reason strengthens, to make their calling and election sure.”

Certainly no one will dispute the fact that baptismal regeneration is taught in Methodist theology. This is easily accounted for when we consider that this church is one of the branches of the Catholic church. The corrupt fountain of Romanism has divided its turbid water into hundreds of streams to spread itself over the earth, like the flood cast out of the mouth of the serpent, (Rev. 12:15) to drown the true faith.

If the principles of infant baptism as inculcated by the branches of the church of Rome were universally practiced, the world would soon swallow the true churches. Then where would be the bride of Christ!

The Congregational Methodists

On the 5th day of January, 1891, a new organization of Methodists came out of the M. E. Church South, in Tell county, Arkansas, and adopted the government of the Congregational Methodists. As a number of Congregational and Independent Methodist organizations have existed in other localities, it remains to he seen whether this last will fall into line with them, or develop into a new order. This last grew out of Bishop Hargrove’s arbitrary ruling in the case of Dr. Kelley, who vacated his pastorate for a time to engage in a political campaign.

These Congregational Methodists say: “If the decision of Bishop Hargrove in the Kelley case is correct, the law of the church is defective, for it demonstrates the fact that too much power is vested in one man; or, if incorrect then his decision is a clear case of usurpation.” They further say: “If a Presiding Elder has the right to wholly disregard the wishes of the church in the selection of a preacher, it argues the infallibility of the Bishop and his cabinet (which we deny, for all men are fallible), or else that the laity have no right to express an opinion as to who shall serve them. In either case it is legislation without representation.

“If the Bishop has the right to transfer a preacher whose improper conduct has rendered him no longer useful where he is known, it evinces the fact that the law is defective in allowing the Bishop to impose an unworthy man upon an innocent people.

“If a preacher in charge has a right to appoint at any time as many class leaders as he chooses, he may appoint them even while the quarterly conference is in session, for no other purpose than to carry out his plans, though they be in opposition to the wishes of the church. Hence, again, we see the centralization of too much power in one man.”

For these and other reasons which they gave, and others which they said they might give, these Methodists procured their church letters, separated themselves in the most respectful manner from the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and formed themselves into a separate organization, “with a government more in harmony,” they declared, ”with our civil institutions and the rights of man as set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the divine law which requires all Christians to lay aside every weight or hindrance and pursue that course which will enable them to do the greatest amount of good in the world.”

This action shows the dissatisfaction growing out of the oppressive character of the government of the M. E. church. This new organization proposes to continue the doctrines of the M. E. church. Having just found out the unscripturalness of their church government, perhaps had they been induced to investigate the doctrines of this church, with the same scrutiny, they might have found much of it equally as unscriptural and out of harmony with the divine law. To purify a stream the fountain head must be made pure.

The Lutheran Church

It is difficult to get the exact date of the origin of this church. Some writers of the Lutheran church claim that Luther did not originate a new church, but only amended the gravest errors and vices of the church of Rome, and restored it to a better condition. This, Luther attempted to do, with all the powers of his great mind, but the Catholic church had become too corrupt to be entitled to the name of a true church, and could not be reformed from its apostate condition.

Some writers date the origin of this church to the 31st of October, 1517, when Martin Luther, the great German reformer, nailed upon the church door at Wittenberg his ninety-five Theses against the infamous traffic in indulgences, in which the Catholic church was then engaged.

Other writers place the date of its origin on the 10th of December, 1520, when this fearless reformer, in the presence of a multitude of persons, committed to the flames the bull which Pope Leo X. had published against him.

There are other writers “who say this church had its beginning on the 17th of April, 1529, when Luther was summoned before the Diet of Worms, and was required to recant his errors and desist from his erroneous career, when ho replied:

“Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, so help me God. Amen!”

I have found the date, 1552, more accurate than either of the others, since it did not assume an organized form, entirely independent of the Catholic church, until that time. (See Mosheim, vol. 2, p. 82).

Every effort up to this time had been to produce a reformation in the church of Rome, rather than a secession from that body. Luther had labored all the time for a reformation, and in this he succeeded, but it was not produced in the mother church, but seen in the numerous offshoots or branches, from that body. After all hope for a reformation in the Catholic church had failed, the Lutherans became a separate organization, retaining their Romish baptism and ordination.

This church bears, in many respects, a strong likeness to its mother, and possesses many of her characteristics, but like all the other branches of the Catholic church, has much in it to admire.

The Lutheran church practices infant baptism, and has formed a union with State governments everywhere the opportunity has been offered. It thus bears the marks of harlotry by incorporating unregenerate material in its membership, and in forming an unlawful union with State governments. In this way it has been wedded to the world.

The Lutheran is the established religion in Germany at the present time. They have persecuted other Christians for their faith as late as 1835, of whom Rev. J. Gr. Oncken, the modern apostle to the German Baptists, was an illustrious example.

The Congregationalists

A brief sketch of the origin of this body of Christians is necessary, owing to the intimate and not altogether pleasant relations, which existed between them and the Baptists in the early settlement of New England. Dr. J. Newton Brown, says they have often been confounded with the Independents, and Mr. Benedict says that both denominations originated from the same source, they “being a branch of the English Dissenters.”

Dr. J. Newton Brown, in the Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge, places their origin in the year 1602, and gives the Rev. John Robinson as, their founder. This church suffered severe persecutions in England, where it originated, on account of the Act of Uniformity, and, in 1608, its members were driven to Holland where Mr. Robinson soon followed them. Mr. Benedict, in his History of All Religions, says: “It seems incredible that the learned, accomplished, unassuming and inoffensive Robinson should neither be tolerated in his own country, nor suffered quietly to depart from it. Yet such was the fact. He left his own country by stealth, that he might elsewhere enjoy those rights which ought to belong to men in all countries.”

When the Congregationalists fled from England on account of persecutions, the embarkation was intended to be in the night, that it might escape the notice of the officers of the government. They were, however, discovered, and a troop of horsemen advanced on them as they were about to depart; the little company separated and some were left behind.

After remaining in Holland a few years, the younger members of Mr. Robinson’s congregation resolved to embark for America. They accordingly took passage on the Mayflower, and, after a perilous voyage, landed at Plymouth Rock, on the 22d of December, 1620, and begun the settlement of New England.

On their further history I need not dwell. Every school boy who has read history, knows something of their persecutions and hardships.

No sooner had they become well established in Massachusetts than they begun to persecute other denominations, especially the Baptists, on account of their opposition to infant baptism. They, whose fathers fled from England because of persecutions for non-conformity, pursued the same course with non-conformists in New England, and under their rule some were banished and others were executed.

We can agree with Swinton, in his History of the United States, when he asks, “What must we say of these things? We can only say that the Puritans thought they were right, and that, in that age, they had not learned the lesson of religious tolerance.” It was at their hands that Obadiah Holmes suffered, and Dr. John Clarke and other Baptist ministers were imprisoned for preaching the gospel.

The Congregationalists, together with the Independents, originated with the English Dissenters, and must forfeit their claim to be true churches, because they have persecuted others, which the true churches of Christ have never done. They have also incorporated unregenerate material in their membership by the practice of infant baptism, and are traceable, through the church of England to the Romish hierarchy for their baptism and ordination.

The Campbellite Church

The Campbellites themselves date their origin as an ecclesiastical body to the year 1827, but their true origin is shown to be nearly twenty years earlier.

They first called themselves Reformers, then Disciples of Christ, and next Christians, but are now, many of them, dissatisfied with that name. The world has given them the name Campbellite, from Alexander Campbell, their founder, and as it is the only name to distinguish them from all other denominations, it will likely adhere to them. There is no reproach in a name, provided one’s principles are right.

This sect originated as follows: About the year 1811, Alexander Campbell, with his father Thomas Campbell, and a number of others, left the Presbyterian church and formed themselves into an independent church. This church, which was called Brush Run, and located in Virginia, practiced sprinkling for baptism, both for adults and infants.

Two days after the organization of the church, the Lord’s Supper was administered, and it was observed that two of its members refused to partake. On inquiry the reason was found in the fact that they had never been baptized, and furthermore they were not willing to accept sprinkling for baptism, but demanded immersion. A discussion of two months followed, at the end of which time Thomas Campbell immersed three of the members.

The inconsistency of Mr. Campbell in immersing without having been immersed himself, was apparent to all, and a discussion arose in regard to the validity of these baptisms.

This discussion ended in Thomas and Alexander Campbell’s decision to be immersed. Accordingly on the 12th of June, 1812, they were baptized by Matthias Luce, a Baptist minister. Four days after this, Thomas Campbell immersed thirteen other members of his church.

The immersion of the Campbells by Mr. Luce seems to have been without any authority from any church.

This, in brief, is the history of the origin of the first Campbellite church. For these facts the reader is referred to “Memoirs of Alexander Campbell,” vol. 1, by Robert Richardson.

Mr. Campbell’s church became associated with the Red Stone Association of Baptists in Virginia, in 1813, and continued in this association for a time, when dissatisfaction arose in regard to their doctrinal views, upon the part of the association.

Upon this Mr. Campbell’s church dismissed about thirty of its members, including Alexander Campbell, to Wellsburg, Virginia, where they were constituted as a new church, and were admitted into the Mahoning Baptist Association of Ohio. About the year 1827, this association withdrew from Mr. Campbell’s church.

From this simple statement of facts we learn:

First. That Alexander Campbell with a number of other disaffected Presbyterians organized themselves into a church.

Second. Becoming dissatisfied with their baptism, Mr. Campbell applied to a Mr. Luce, a Baptist preacher, and was baptized by him.

Third. That Alexander Campbell and his father baptized the rest of their members.

Fourth. That Mr. Campbell’s church attached itself to a Baptist association, which, after a time, withdrew fellowship from the same. This was about the year 1827. Hence they date their origin to that time.

Fifth. That Mr. Campbell never was a member of a Baptist church.

It follows, therefore, that if the Baptist churches were not true churches at the time Mr. Campbell was baptized, that he had only apostate baptism, for he was baptized by a Baptist preacher. If Baptist churches were true churches at that time, they are still the true churches of Christ, and Mr. Campbell and his followers departed from the faith. Here is a dilemma, and they are impaled upon either horn they take.

The Campbellite churches are independent one of another, but Mr. Campbell brought with him an Episcopal feature which is seen running through the whole of their churches.

Their ministers seem to be independent of their churches, going ahead of them and administering baptism and the Lord’s Supper without the authority of any church. While their churches are independent, of each other, their ministers are independent of them, thus maintaining this Episcopal feature.

This chapter (22) is the last section of Shackelford’s “Compendium of Baptist History.”