Historical Documents

Censure upon a Dialogue of the Anabaptists

Author: Henry Ainsworth

Publisher: printed by W. Jones.

Origin: London

Date: 1642

Controversie with the Anabaptist Concerning Baptisme

Author: Thomas Bakewell

Publisher: printed for Henry Shepard at the Bible in Tower-street, and for WIlliam Ley at his shop in Pauls Church-yard neere Doctors Commons.

Origin: London

Date: 1646

Thomas Blake was a Puritan minister in the Church of England, who wrote and published a number of works in the middle of the 17th century. Blake was also closely connected to the Westminster Assembly, involved with the debates arising out of the committee that examined the issue of infant baptism. Moreover, his writings on baptism carried the endorsement of several members of the Assembly. Thomas Lamb was a General Baptist.

The title of Blake's work tells the reader that Blake is going to attempt to vindicate the idea of birth privilege, or covenant holiness of believers and their children during the time of the gospel. In the process of vindicating this idea Blake also attempts to assert the right of infants to be baptized. This idea of birth privilege, or covenant holiness is the idea that infants can legitimately be said to be in covenant with God even though they are not said to be born again believers. According to Blake, baptism is the sign of the covenant and therefore it is legitimate for infants to be baptized. Blake confesses that regeneration is necessary for the believer to fully participate in the promises of God, but Blake contends that regeneration is part of the promise which has been given even to the children of believers in the form of the covenant.

Developed from review by Billy Puckett

The Anatomy of the Service-Book

Author: Dwalphintramis [Richard Bernard]

Publisher: Unknown


Date: 1641

Description: Book

Epilogus corum quae acta sunt Monasterii per Catabaptistas

Author: Eberhardus of Cologne (1st half of 16th century)

Publisher: Unknown

Origin: [Cologne]

Date: c. 1536

Description: Pamphlet

Unknown and undescribed fugitive pamphlet of the Anabaptist movement at Münster, 1534-35. It is a Catholic polemic against the Anabaptists, in the form of a miniature history of the struggle at Münster, with special censure of their leader, Jan of Leyden. It is signed at the end by "Eberhardus, Carmelita Agrippinen (sis)" (Eberhard, Carmelite of Cologne). It may be a Latin version of the Warhafftiger bericht der underbarlichenn handlung, der Deuffer zu Münster..., three impressions of which are recorded by P. Bahlmann in his bibliography of "Die Wiedertäufer zu Münster" (Zeitschrift für Vaterländische Geschichte und Altertumskunde, 1893, vol. 51), as Nos. 20a-b-c. But the present volume is known neither to Bahlmann nor to the continuer of his bibliography, Kl. Loeffler ("Z. Bibl. D. Münsterischen Wiedertäufer," Zentralbl. für Bibliotheksween, Vol. 24).

The first leaf of the pamphlet contains a woodcut portrait of Jan of Leyden (Johann Buckholdt, Beukelsz, or Bockeszoon, 1508-1536), "King of the Anabaptists" at Münster, with the following heading: "Ad vinam Effigim. Regis Anabaptistarum Monasterien. Etatis 26." He is shown with the miter, scepters, and other paraphernalia of his office. This cut is described by Max Geisberg, Die Münsterischen Wiedertäufer und Aldegrever (in Studien zur Deutschen Kunstgeschichte, 76. heft, Strassburg, 1907), as No. 51, being the title cut of the Warhafftiger Bericht listed by Bahlmann. But Geisberg's reproduction (p. 39) shows the cut in reverse.

"Anabaptists" is a name given by their enemies to various sects which on the occasion of Luther's revolt from Romanism denied the validity of infant baptism, and so "re-baptized." The movement began in 1521 at Wittenberg. Driven from this city and from Zürich, they swarmed over the German country-side. In the Peasants' War of South Germany, 1525, their leader, Thomas Munzer, was executed. A second and more determined attempt to establish a theocracy was made at Münster, 1532-1535. Jan of Leyden and his aide, Jan Matthiessen of Haarlem, obtained possession of the town. In April 1534, they were besieged by the expelled bishop, Francis of Waldeck, Matthiessen was lost in the first sally, and Buckholdt reigned supreme. He ruled licentiously for 12 months; the town was then again besieged and re-taken, and Buckholdt and some of his followers were executed in the market-place. After this crisis, the Anabaptist movement had little further political importance, but remained a considerable religious sect.

Such fugitive pieces are excessively rare, since many were destroyed in the troubled times of their publication. The present is perhaps the unique surviving copy of this document.

Developed from document provenance.

Thomas Lamb was a soap boiler who turned into one of the most striking Baptist preachers of those times and became familiar with nearly every prison in London and its vicinity. John Etherington was an ex-boxmaker who also apparently published under the name Edmund Jessup. He regarded himself as a faithful member of the Church of England but was a familist who held several doctrines which were not accepted by the Church of England. Some of his ideas were close to separatists ideas; therefore, Peter Lake says that Etherington used his opposition to Anabaptism as a means of controlling the otherwise very radical consequences of his position.

The arrangement of this pamphlet is similar to that of a debate. Etherington's arguments for infant baptism are given first. Thomas Lamb's often brief answer is given to the argument. Finally, Etherington's reply to Lamb's answer is stated. Occasionally there is more than one exchange of answer and reply. In all, six arguments are debated, and then seven arguments of Etherington are "annexed" to the end. The seventh is particularly long, covering approximately twelve pages.

The library here at NOBTS is missing the first page which contains Lamb's first argument and most of the discussion concerning it.

Developed from review by Trudy Penton.

Robert Fage, Jr. wrote this pamphlet in response to Thomas Lamb. While finding information on Robert Fage is difficult, Thomas Lamb was a soap boiler who turned into one of the most striking Baptist preachers of those times and became familiar with nearly every prison in London and its vicinity. From the beginning, Fage takes a congenial tone. He says that he will not write much because he does not want to be overbearing in reply to Lamb. A series of eight arguments are exchanged between the two with both Lamb's arguments and Fage's replies recorded.

Developed from review by Trudy Penton

A Warning for England, especially for London, in the famous history of the frantick Anabaptists, their wild preachings & practices in Germany.

Author: Attributed to [Daniel Featley]

Publisher: Unknown

Origin: [London]

Date: 1642

Description: Pamphlet

Daniel Featley also called Fairclough and sometimes called Richard Fairclough/Featley was born in 1578 and died April 17, 1645. He was an English theologian and was involved in the translation of the King James Version of the Bible. This treatise was subsequently published as part of Featley's book The Dippers dipt or the Anabaptists dunckt and plunged over head and ears. His book commemorated his disputation with four Anabaptists at Southwark. The John T. Christian Library also has a copy of The Dippers dipt.

Developed from review by Trudy Penton

An Answer to Mr. Tombes his Scepticall Examination of Infant-Baptisme

Author: William Hussey

Publisher: Printed for John Saywell

Origin: London

Date: 1646

Description: Pamphlet

The author of this pamphlet is William Hussey, who was an Anglican minister in Chislehurst in Kent. In this pamphlet Hussey intends to explain the doctrine of Baptism which was delivered by Christ and understood by the Apostles, to answer the sophisms and fallacies of Mr. Tombes and the Anabaptists, and to prove the lawfulness of infant baptism.

Hussey is one of several writers who debated with John Tombes while the Westminster Confession was being written. Tombes had presented a detailed argument in favor of believer's baptism and Hussey addresses each point.

Developed from review by Chunghee David Han

Ein Brieff von den Schleichern und Winckel Predigern

Author: Martin Luther

Publisher: Unknown

Origin: Wittenberg

Date: 1532

A Sermon against false prophets, preached in St. Maries Church in Oxford, shortly after the surrender of that garrison

Author: Jasper Mayne (1604-1672)

Publisher: Unknown

Origin: [Oxford]

Date: 1646

Description: Pamphlet

Jasper Mayne was an English clergyman, translator, and a minor poet and dramatist. During the English Civil War he preached sermons and wrote pamphlets in the cause of Royalism; was expelled from Oxford University and deprived of his Christ Church benefices by Parliament; and after the Restoration was appointed a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, archdeacon of Chichester, and chaplain to King Charles II.

Developed from review by Trudy Penton

Wider die Lere der Widerteuffer

Author: Philipp Melanchthon

Publisher: Unknown

Origin: Unknown

Date: 1528

The Case of the Cross in Baptism considered. Wherein is Shewed, That there is nothing in it, as it is used in the Church of England, that can be any just reason of Separation from it.

Author: Nathanael Resbury

Publisher: printed for Fincham Gardiner, at the White-Horse in Ludgate-Street

Origin: London

Date: 1684

The only information known about Andrew Ritor is that he was the second Baptist author to write in defense of immersion in the controversy over baptism, making this one of the earliest pamphlets advocating believer's baptism by immersion. Ritor began with a note "to the reader," in which he laid out his belief, based on Scripture, that baptism should only be administered to believers upon profession of faith. He then lays out a five point points regarding the issue. Ritor also provided objections to his reasoning from some in the established church, followed by his answer.

Developed from review by Mark Foster

Robert Some addressed this pamphlet to members of Queen Elizabeth's council. He argues against the Separatists Henry Barrow and John Greenwood and against the Anabaptists, lumping them all together as one and the same. Three main issues of polity arise. First whether a state church or a free church is best. Secondly, should the church (state) pay the pastor's salary or should he raise it himself and lastly, does authority rest in the congregation or elsewhere.

Developed from review by Edmond Long

Englands Warning by Germanies Woe

Author: Friedrich Spanheim

Publisher: John Dever & Robert Ibbitson, for John Bellamie, at the three Golden Lions in Cern-hill, neere the Royall Exchange

Origin: London

Date: 1646

John Tombes was from Worchestershire, and graduated from Magdalen Hall, Oxford, with a B.D. In 1630 he was made Vicar of Leominster, where he demonstrated nonconformist tendencies. He was driven out of his office in Leominster by Royalists in 1642. In that same year he adopted antipedobaptist views as a result of a disputation in Bristol. He was a curate from Bewldy for a while, at which point he had a disputation with Richard Baxter over infant baptism. He returned to Leominster in 1649, served as a Trier for Cromwell, and was ejected again from Leominster in 1662. Six or seven Baptist churches "sprang up" in the West of England where he engaged in disputations. He fostered those churches, and trained three men for ministry. Towards the end of his life he married a wealthy widow and lived in Salisbury. His house there was licensed as a meeting place under the Indulgence of 1672, in which he described himself as a Presbyterian. He did not like being outside the communion of the Church of England and hoped to rejoin it when he rejected infant baptism. His writings are exegetically based, historically accurate and theologically informed. Of all the men in the history of the Church who have written about baptism, Tombes' has more published pages than anyone.

The Westminster Assembly of Divines was appointed by the Long Parliament to restructure the Church of England. The Assembly met for six years (1643-1649), and in the process produced the documents which are the major Confessional Standards of the Presbyterian faith, including the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Larger Catechism, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the Directory of Public Worship.

Here is a glimpse into the baptismal debate that raged in England. Tombes addressed the question of infant baptism in a very logical and orderly manner in his Exercitation. He state the "tenet" which he was challenging, and then argued that which has no testimony in Scripture is invalid. The doctrine of infant baptism has no testimony in Scripture, therefore it is invalid. To prove this he then addressed arguments for infant baptism, and then addresses each scripture passage in terms of the argument, stated in logical syllogism, from the passage and the interpretation of the passage.

Developed from review by Mark Foster.

The author of A Declaration is not known. One can say clearly that he was against the Anabaptists' rejection of infant baptism, and he seems to have been a well educated man who was familiar with Greek and Hebrew. The author states that the purpose of the pamphlet was to refute the arguments of a book written by Francis Cornwall (most likely, A Vindication of the Royal Commission of King Jesus which was distributed among the members of the House of Commons, and produced great excitement). Cornwall studied at Emmanuel College and was a pamphleteer who more than once found himself in trouble and in prison.

Developed from review by Trudy Penton.

Infant Baptism Maintained

Author: Unknown

Publisher: Unknown

Origin: Unknown

Date: Unknown

Description: This document, whose author is unnamed, is a record of a disputation that took place at Ashford in

Kent on July 27, 1649 between Samuel Fisher (1605-65) and a group of ministers of the Church of England. The dispute concerned justification for baptizing infants. Fisher, a Baptist minister who later joined with the Quakers, argued against pedobaptism. The document is clearly biased in favor of infant baptism with quotes such as "wretched error of the Anabaptists" and "the Donatists of old [and] the Anabaptists of Germany are examples of God's judgments." Theologically speaking, the document references the ideas of limited atonement and predestination. In the Appendix, readers are referred to additional source information including Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion.

The document is outlined as follows:

  • I. Preface to the Christian Reader
  • II. Propositions Agreed Upon
  • III. Sum of the Disputation
  • IV. Appendix to the Disputation
  • V. A Short Discourse Concerning the Means of Opposing Heretics in Disputation and Preaching

Developed from review by Bill Hughes

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