Of the True Church of God, Its Origin, Progress, an Immovable Stability, through all Times[As in the following work a survey is given, to some degree, of the succession and establishment of the church, we find it expedient in order that the same may not be misinterpreted, and because some of our good friends have requested and besought us (though we have intended to leave it as it was), to precede, by way of introduction, that which follows, by our exposition of the true and the false church, and of their respective good and evil succession and progress; also, to state the views we hold in regard to the right of succession. We will, therefore, begin here, and, so as not to be tedious, endeavor to be as brief as possible.]
As there are two different peoples, two different congregations and churches, the one of God and from heaven, the other of Satan and from the earth; so there is also a different succession and progress belonging to each of them. [Not only the word of God, but also experience, confirms the truth of our statement with reference to the two different churches; since daily and universally we may observe people who lead a very modest, devout and godfearing life; and, on the other hand, such whose life is extremely profligate, impious and godless: thus it is also with the root of life, that is, with the matter of faith or of unbelief. How can these be called or recognized by a different name than that of members of the two above mentioned churches?]
We shall first speak of the divine and heavenly church, and then of the last mentioned one. The divine and heavenly church, which is the separated holy flock and people of God, originated upon earth at the beginning of the world; has existed through all the ages up to the present time; and will continue to the end of the world.
Thieleman J. Van Braght (1625-1664) was an Anabaptist who is best known for writing a history of the Christian witness throughout the centuries entitled “The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of 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” (1660).