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with satisfaction by every friend to Protestantism and religious freedom :
“ TO THE KING's Most ExcELLENT MAJESTY. “ The Humble Address of the Ministers of the Baptist Denomination in and about the city of London, in behalf of themselves and their respective congregations.
May it please your Majesty. “ After having paid the grateful tribute of our humble thanks at the throne of the King of Kings, for that signal favour wherewith his Providence has blessed your Majesty, these your kingdoms, and the whole Protestant interest abroad, in the seasonable discovery and defeat of the late barbarous conspiracy of the bloodthirsty enemies of your Majesty's government and life-a life highly endeared to us by the many successive dangers to which your Majesty has so generously exposed it in the defence of all that is valuable to us, and by those remarkable instances of the Divine protection by which it has been so often guarded, we, your Majesty's most loyal and obedient subjects, with all becoming respect, beg leave to congratulate your Majesty on this so eminent and happy deliverance.
“ And we gladly embrace this occasion to assure your Majesty, that as we have enjoyed a share of the benign influences of your government, whereby both our civil and religious liberties have been 80 happily preserved and vindicated, so we shall make it our glory (as we account it our duty) to render your Majesty the utmost service we are capable of, in that sphere wherein the law allows us to
And as a further testimony of our fidelity and affection to your Majesty's personal government, we cheerfully follow the pattern of the Honourable the House of Commons, in subscribing the association subjoined to this our humble address. Nor shall we cease to offer our fervent supplications to Heaven that the spirit of wisdom may continue to direct all your Majesty's councils ; that the Lord of hosts may still succeed your army; that troops of associate angels may always guard your royal person ; that your Majesty may have a fong and prosperous reign on earth, and at length wear a crown of immortal glory in the Kingdom of Heaven.
“ And most dutiful Subjects and Servants." The last speech of King William, delivered in 1701, breathes sentiments which shew the loss sustained by the nation, and most especially by Protestant Dissenters.
OF THOSE WHO ARE FOR THE
The King had recommended to his Parliament, in his last speech from the throne, what he had always much at heart—the union of all his Protestant subjects. “Let me conjure you,” said his Mujesty, "to disappoint the only hopes of our enemies, by your unanimity. I have shewn, and will always shew, how desirous I am to BE TAB COMMON FATHER OF ALL MY PEOPLE. Do you in like manner lay aside all parties and divisions; lit there be no other distinction heard of among us for the future, BUT PROTESTANT RELIGION, and the present Establishment, and of those who mean a Popish Prince and a French Government.***
“It was in this Parliament that with GREAT DIFFICULTY an act passed, which secured the Crown IN THE PROTESTANT LINE OF THE House of Hanover. God remarkably appeared on this occasion, in confounding the adherents of the Popish Princes of the Housc of Stuart. These were so numerous in the House of Commons that the bill passed in one of its stages BY A MAJORITY OF ONLY ONE ! and it received the King's signature, and that by commission, BUT A FEW
TIIE Monarch's LAMENTED DEATH. To these apparently fortuitous circumstances the English are indebted for the Protestant government of the House of Brunswick, AND THE ProTESTANT DISsenters for all the blessings which they have uninterruptedly enjoyed since the accession of that illustrious family to the Crown of Great Britain.”+
The just estimation of the character of William III., as given by Ivimey, must not be omitted,
“The reign of the illustrious William, and his no less illustrious Qucen, who had securel to Protestant Dissenters the palladium of their rights, and protected them in the free and uninterrupte:l exercise of their privileges, was, alas! but of short continuance. The pious Queen died Duc. 23, 1694, of the sm ill-pox, universally lamented. And t':c cighteenth century had not long commenced, when this excellent Prince, who hail felt an equal regard for all genuine Protestants among his subjects, was hurried by accident to a premature grave. IIc died March 8, 1702, in the 521 year of liis age, and the 14th of his reign. None but persons of Jacobite and Popish principles have attempted to traduce his noble character. He wil always be reckone:1 among the most enlighteneil and beneficent Princes that bave ever filled the Throne of Englan:l.”!
Thit distinguished statesman, Sir William Temple, in his history of the Netherlands, gives the following interesting character of William III. when he was Prince of Orange, anıl 22 years old :
* Chandler's Parliamentary Debates, vol. 3, p. 185. + Ivimey, vol. 3, pp. 30, 31.
Ivimey, vol. 3, p. 27.
"A Prince who joined to the great qualities of his royal blood the popular virtues of his country; silent and thoughtful; given to learn and to inquire ; of a sound and steady understanding ; much firmness in what he once resolves, or once denies; great industry and application to his business, little to his pleasures ; piety in the religion of his country, but with charity to others ; temperance unusual to his youth and to the climate ; frugal in the common management of his fortune, and yet magnificent upon occasion ; of great spirit, and heart aspiring to the glory of military actions, with strong ambition to become great, but rather by the service than the servitude of kis country ; in short, a Prince of many virtues, without any appearing mixture of viee.”
The death of William III, cast a gloom over the nation. The thirteen years of his reign presented a remarkable contrast to preceding times OF RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE AND PERSECUTION ; and Baptists were amongst those who felt most deeply the protecting influence of his benign and liberal sway.
The name of William III., of “glorious and immortal memory," is endeared to every true friend of civil and religious liberty.*
A brief reference has been made to the meeting of the General Assembly in London, in 1689. It will now be in order more particularly to advert to its proceedings regarding the Confession of Faith, t which was adopted at that Assembly, which it is said was held at the meeting-house, at Broken Wharf, Thames Street, where
* “Mr. Samuel Burch, many years an eminent deacon in the church of Little Wild Street, had such a lively recollection of the almost miraculous rescue of our religion and liberties at the Revolution, that nearly 40 years afterwards, about the year 1730, he endeavoured to obtain public honour to the great and good King William. By his own industrious application alone Mr. Burch obtained a petition to the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council, signed by several hundred gentlemen, merchants, and others of the city, praying for a small piece of gronnd where Cheapside Conduit as lately stood, on which they proposed, at their own expense, to erect an equestrian statue to that great deliverer of these nations, King William III. But on this petition being presented, one of the gentlemen of the Common Council said, “That as the Conduit, which was a public nuisance, had been removed, he hoped that Court would not permit another to be set up in the room of it.' And so on a debate the petition was rejected. Whatever shade those who disappointed so good a design drew on the gratitude the British metropolis, yet as this honest and loyal attempt of Mr. Burch met with the approbation of all true Englishmen and good citizens, it ought to be recorded as a lasting monument to his own memory.”—Funeral Sermon for Mr. Samuel Burch, by Dr. Joseph Stennett, p. 48, 1741.
+ Crosby, in the Appendix of his 3rd vol. of the History of the Baptists, has given this Confession of Faith at length.
Hansard Knollys was the minister. It will be interesting to observe the manner and feeling with which the General Assembly entered upon those important engagements : it is indicated by the following extract from “The Narrative of Proceedings :"
“Whereas we, the pastors and elders of the several churches in and about London, did meet together and seriously take into our consideration the particular state of the baptized churches among ourselves; AND AFTER A LONG PERSECUTION, finding the churches generally under great decays in the power of godliness and defects of gifts for the ministry; also fearing that the same decays and defects might be among the churches of the same faith and profession throughout England and Wales, many of their ministers being deceased, MANY HAVE ENDED THEIR DAYS IN PRISON-MANY SCATTERED BY PERSECUTION TO OTHER PARTS, FAR DISTANT FROM THE CHURCHES TO WHICH THEY DID BELONG; from a due sense in these things, did, by a letter dated July 28, 1689, write to all the aforesaid churches throughout England and Wales, to send their messengers to a general meeting at London, the third of September, 1689. And being met together, the first day was spent in humbling ourselves before the Lord, and to seek of him a right way to direct him to the best means and method to repair our breaches, and to recover ourselves into our former order, beauty, and glory. In prosecution thereof, upon the fourth day of the same month, we, the elders, ministering brethren, and messengers of the several churches from several parts of England and Wales hereafter mentioned, being again come together, after first solemnly seeking the Lord by prayer, did conclude upon these following preliminaries, and lay them down as the foundation of this our Assembly, and rules for our proceedings; wherein all the messengers of the churches aforesaid, in city and country, as well for the satisfaction of every particular church, as also to prevent all mistakes, misapprehensions, and inconveniences, that might arise in time to come concerning this General Assembly, unanimously profess and declare:
“1. That we disclaim all manner of superiority and superintendency over the churches, and that we have no authority or power to prescribe or impose anything upon the faith or practices of any of the churches of Christ. Our whole intendment is to be HELPERS TOGETHER OF ONE ANOTHER, BY WAY
ADVICE, in the right understanding of that perfect rule which our Lord Jesus, the Bishop of onr souls, hath already prescribed and given to his churches in his word, and, therefore, do severally and jointly agree.
"2. That in these things wherein our church differs from another church in their principles or practices in point of communion, that we
cannot, shall not, impose upon any particular church therein, but leave every church to their own liberty to walk together as they have received from the Lord,
"3. That if any particular offence doth arise betwixt one church and another, or betwixt one particular person and another, no offence shall be admitted to be debated among us TILL THE BULE CHRIST HATH GIVEN in this matter be first answered, and THE CONSENT OF BOTH PARTIES had, or sufficiently endeavoured,
“4. That whatever is determined by us in any case shall not be binding on any one church TILL THE CONSENT OF THAT CHURCH BB FIRST had, and they conclude the same among themselves.
“5. That all things we offer by way of counsel and advice BE PROVED OUT OF THE WORD OF God and the Scriptures annexed.”
There were 105 churches in England and Wales represented at the General Assembly in London, in 1689, by 157 pastors, ministers, and messengers, who attended on that occasion.*
More than a mere passing mention of the names of some of those ministers who took a prominent part in advancing the interests of the denomination, is due to their memory.
WILLIAM Kiffin claims the first notice, from his distinguished prominence, and was termed by an opposing writer of his day “THE METROPOLITAN OF THAT FRATERNITY,"—the Baptists. On account of the early period at which he united with the denomination, the purity of his principles, the many services he rendered to the Baptists by his influence with the government, and the active part he took for upwards of sixty years in every way which occurred respecting them, he seems be entitled to the honourable appellation of “ THE FATHER OF THE PARTICULAR BAPTists."
Mr. Kiffin was a member of the Independent Church, under the pastoral care of Mr. Lathorpe. The question of baptism having become a subject of dispute in that society, he became convinced of the unscriptural nature of infant baptism, and of the propriety of believers' baptism by immersion ; and joined Mr. Spilsbury's church in Wapping, in 1638,
As the church in Devonshire Square is still in existence under the pastoral care of J. H. Hinton, M.A., some detailed references may be interesting
This church was formed under William Kiffin, in 1638, and assembled near the present place of meeting, in Fisher's Folly ; but
* In Appendix A are given the names of pastors, messengers, &c., that altended the General Assembly in London, 1689, with the respective churches represented by them.