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Spain, and England. The Lollards, with Wyckliffe and his followers, were drinking deeply from the same fountain of truth. Doctrines, identical with those which had been maintained amongst the inhabitants of the valleys of the south of France, found an extensive reception in this country, to the great dismay of the pope, his cardinals, and priesthood. What were the sentiments of contemporaneous writers upon the subject ? Knighton, the historian, who appears to have been the inveterate enemy of Wyckliffe, writes, that "his doctrines spread very wonderfully through the land ;" he says, “Such was the success of his teaching, preaching, and writings, that more than half the people of England became his followers, and embraced his doctrines.” Their character is thus given by Reinhar, a popish writer :—“The disciples of Wyckliffe are men of a serious, modest deportment, avoiding all ostentation in dress, mixing little with the busy world, and complaining of the debauchery of mankind. They maintain themselves wholly by their own labour, and despise wealth, being fully content with bare necessaries. They are chaste and temperate; are never seen in taverns, or amused with the trifling gaities of life; yet you find them almost always employed either in learning or teaching. They are concise and devout in their prayers, blaming an unanimated prolixity. They never swear ; speak little; and, in their public preaching, lay the principal stress on charity."
That the sentiments of Wyckliffe and his followers WERE OPPOSED TO INFANT BAPTISM may be ascertained from several sources of information. It is well known that after the death of the pious Queen Anne, wife of Richard II., and sister of Wenceslaus, king of Bohemia, the books of Wyckliffe were carried into Bohemia by her attendants; as they also were, about the same time, by Jerom of Prague, and other persons, in consequence whereof his sentiments spread in that country, where lived the celebrated John Huss, who, together with Jerom of Prague, fell a martyr to the fury of the papists of Constance, about a hundred years before the time of Luther. A letter describing the sentiments of the Hussites, written from Bohemia to Erasmus, dated Oct. 10th, 1519, states as follows: “ They renounce all the rites and ceremonies of our church; they ridicule our doctrine and practices in both sacraments; they deny orders (the hierarchy), and elect officers from among the laity; they receive no other rule than the Bible; THEY
NONE INTO THEIR COMMUNION TILL THEY BE DIPPED IN
WATER OR BAPTIZED; and they reckon one another, without distinction of rank, to be called brothers and sisters."* "If this,” observes Ivimey, was the case with respect to the followers of Wyckliffe in Bohemia,
*Colmesin's Collection of Letters to Men of note.
what should hinder us from believing that the followers of Wyckliffe in England held similar sentiments respecting the discipline of the church of Christ, and that they also maintained that none ought to be admitted into their communion until they be dipped in water or baptized ?”
That this was the case, appears from the laws made against them in the reign of Henry IV., for among the articles by which the inquisitors were to examine, one was, “WHETHER AN INFANT DYING UNBAPTIZED COULD BE SAVED ?”
This the Lollards CONSTANTLY ASSERTED, in opposition to the Church of Rome, which decreed that NO INFANT
COULD BE SAVED WITHOUT IT.
It was during the usurpation of Henry IV., in the year 1400, that the clergy obtained from him a law for the burning of heretics, which they were not long in putting into execution. The first victim to this sans guinary edict, and who had the honour of leading this bloody way, was William Sawtree, said to “have held,” observes Neal, “the principles of the Baptists ;" he was burnt in London, in the year 1400, and thus it would appear that he was the first martyr of the English nation.
It is learned from Walsingham, "that one Sir Lewis Clifford, who had been a friend of Wyckliffe, did discover to the Archbishop of Canterbury that the Lollards would not baptize their new-born children.* Fox
says that it was upon these charges that, in the space of four years, one hundred and twenty Lollards, men and women, were apprehended, and suffered greatly.
Walsingham also states, “It was in the year 1381, that that damnable heretic, John Wyckliffe, reassumed the cursed opinions of Berengarius,” of which it was certain that denying Infant Baptism was one. He again say's "THAT HIS FOLLOWERS DID DENY BAPTISM TO INFANTS, because they concluded them, as they were the children of believers, to be holy, and not to stand in need of Baptism to take away original sin.” Thomas Walden calls Wyckliffe "one of the seven heads that came out of the bottomless pit FOR DENYING INFANT BAPTISM, that heresie of the Lollards of whom HE WAS SO GREAT A RINGLEADER.”+
Ivimey thus remarks upon the sentiments of Wyckliffe :f “a denial that Baptism had virtue in itself to procure the salvation of the infant, and that the want of it would insure damnation, was rudely shaking the foundation on which Infant Baptism was then built.” He is accused, however, of going still farther, and of asserting "that none
* Danver's Treatise of Baptism, p. 2, 303.
+ Danver's Treatise of Baptism, p. 2, 287. * It took several years to raise a few hundred pounds, for the erection, at Lutterworth Church, of a monumental memorial to John Wyckliffe, and which was Anally mainly promoted by the Rev. J. Gurney, formerly Curate of Lutterworth, and son of the late Baron Gurney (who was for many years in communion with the were members of the church invisible, and that none had a right to church membership, WHO DID NOT MAKE A PUBLIC PROFESSION, AND PROFESS OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST. It is unnecessary to add, that INFANTS, BEING UNABLE to make this public profession, could not be considered by him as members of the visible church, or as professing a right to participate in any of its ordinances.”
With regard to the existence of Baptistical sentiments, the fact is beyond dispute, that the principles of Anti-pædobaptists were prevalent during the whole of the FIFTEENTH CENTURY, though we are
Baptist Church, at Muze's Pond, Southwark,) and nephew to W. B. Gurney, Esq., of Denmark Hill, London, the much esteemed Treasurer of the Baptist Missionary Society
The following inscription, from the monument at Lutterworth, furnishes an estimate of Wyckliffe's character :
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF
THE EABLIEST CHAMPION OF ECCLESIASTICAL REPORMATION IN EXGLAND.
HE WAS BORN IN YORKSHIRE, IN THE YEAR 1321;
WHERE HE DIED ON THE 3187 DECEMBER, 1384.
BUT TIE PAR MORE GLORIOUS TITLE OF THE EVANGELICAL DOCTOR,
XIX WHOLE LIPB WAS ONK IMPETUOUS STRUGGLE AGAINST THE CORRUPTION AND
ENCROACAMENTS OF THE PAPAL COURT, AND THE IMPOSTURES OF ITS DEVOTED AUXILIARIES, THE MENDICANT PRATERNITY HIS LABOURS IN THE CAUSE OF SCRIPTURAL TRUTH WERE CROWNED
WITH ONR IMMORTAL ACHIEVEMENT,
HIS TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE INTO THB ENGLISH TONGUB;
THIS MIGHTY WORK DREW ON HIM INDEED THE BITTER HATBED OF ALL WHO WERI
MAKING MERCHANDISE OF THE POPULAR CREDULITY AND IGNORANCE,
OP EVERY RANK AND AGR,
#18 MORTAL BEMAINS WEBE INTERRED NEAR THIS SPOT,
BUT THEY WERE NOT ALLOWED TO REST IN PEACE:
AFTBB THB LAPSE OF MANY YEARS, THEY WERE DRAGGBD FROM THE GRAVE
AND CONSIGNED TO THE FLAMES,
AND HIS A8HBS WERE CAST INTO THE WATERS OF THE ADJOINING STREAM.
The following will present an historical parallel. Wa singham, & great Catholic authority, writes a popish eulogy upon the character of England's early Reformer :
“The Devil's Instrument, -Churches' Enemy,-People's Confusion,–Heretico' Idol.-Hypocrites' Mirror.--Schism's Broacher, Hatred's Sore,-Lies' ForgerFlatterers' Sink,-who, at his death, despaired like Cain, and, stricken by the horrible judgments of God, breathed forth his wicked soul to the dark mansions of the black devil.”
The SAME FEELINGS which dictated such sentiments in the FOURTEENTH cen. tury, would dictate them in the NINETEENTA century; written, as they were, under the influence of an UNCA ANGING AND UNCHANGEABLE RELIGION.
May a Gracious Providence preserve our country from such a religion !
unable, says Neal, to trace them, as embodied in the formation of dis. tinct churches under that denomination,
A testimony or two more, from writers whose opinions must have weight, as to the doctrines and practices of the Waldenses. The learned Limborch, comparing them with the Christians of his own time, says : “ To speak candidly what I think of all the modern sects of Christians, the Dutch Baptists most resemble both the Albigenses and the Waldenses.”* Dr. Mosheim reiterates the same sentiments:—“Before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay concealed in almost all the countries of Europe, persons who adhered tenaciously to the principles of the modern Dutch Baptists.”+
Dr. Hurd, in the History of all Religions, says,—"It is pretty clear from the writings of many learned men, that Dr. John Wyckliffe, the first English reformer, either considered Infant Baptism unlawful, or, at least, not necessary.” The author of a History of Religion, published in London in 1764 (in 4 vols. octavo,) says,—“It is clear, from MANY AUTHORS, that Wyckliffe REJECTED INFANT BAPTISM, AND THAT IN THIS DOCTRINE HIS FOLLOWERS AGREED WITH THE MODERN BAPTISTS.”
The reign of Henry VIII. is referred to as the period when the Reformation was promoted; comment is not offered as to the causes or motives which led to its advancement;f the facts are recorded in history. This monarch was a bitter persecutor of those who maintained views
* Limborch's History of the Inquisition, vol. 1, chap. viil. † An interesting volume has issued from the Hansard Knolly's Society, entitled, “A Martyrology of the Church of Christ, commonly called Baptists, during the era of the Reformation;" translated from the Dutch, and edited by Mr. E. B. Underhill. In the introduction it is remarked :
“The following pages will discover the true character of those reproached, despised, hated, and persecuted people. The deep interest of the various narratives lies in the proof they exhibit, that, although branded by Rome as heretics, and by Protestants as rebels, the Anabaptists possessed a lively, glowing piety; an ardent attachment to the doctrines of the gospel; a firm and abiding trust in God; and & simple reliance on the Christ crucified. The affecting story of their sufferings, conflicts, and death, brings these Baptists before us in all the simplicity of truth. The inward spring of their action is laid bare, and its power displayed, in circumstances that test to the uttermost the honesty and purity of purpose of the men who are encompassed by them. They fought the good fight of faith, and grasped with a firm hand everlasting LIFE; not counting their own lives dear unto them."
1"A note upon one of the means employed for its advancement by the tyrannical Henry, will show his summary mode of proceeding. He had, from Pope Leo X. received the title of “Defender of the Faith.” It will be seen how his title and his acts harmonized.
Henry VIII. having suppressed, or, it may be said, confiscated 376 of the lesser monasteries, their estates, lands, &c., he would have the sanction of parliament for the possession and control of the ecclesiastical property. ln 1526 a bill was brought other than those of the established religion. Anabaptists were the objects of his especial dislike and displeasure. In what is termed King Henry's Creed, issued in 1536, Baptism is thus referred to (from which the agreement of that creed with Papistical views will be most apparent):
"ITEM, that infants must needs be christened, because they be born in original sin, which sin must needs be remitted, which cannot be done but by the Sacrament of Baptism, whereby they receive the Holy Ghost; which exerciseth his grace and efficacy in them, and cleanseth and purifieth them from sin by his most secret virtue and operations.”
"ITEM, that children or men once baptized, cannot, nor ought to be, baptized again.”
“ ITEM, that they ought to refute, and take all the Anabaptists' opinions contrary to the premises, and every other man's opinions in this behalf, for detestable heresies, and to be utterly condemned;"—further, the second articles run thus: “ That Baptism was a sacrament, instituted by Christ; that it was necessary to salvation, and that infants were to be baptized for the pardon of original sin.”
It is needless to dwell upon the extent of reformation from Popery, upon this subject, by the Protestant Henry ; the reader will have no difficulty in observing the kindred affinities. It is evident that it was a high crime to be a Baptist in sentiment.
Such was the hostility of Henry against the Baptists, that in 1537 a proclamation was issued against heresies and heretics. It recites : “That of late many strangers, born out of this land, are arrived and come in this realm, which, albeit they were baptised in their infancy, or childhood, according to the universal church of Christ, yet, notwith
in by which “ their houses of religion, their churches, lands, and all other gcods, were to be given to the king, his heirs, and successors, with all other houses, whicb. a year before the making of the act had been dissolved and suppressed."*
The act did not pass through the legislature hastily enough for Henry. It is said by a Protestant historian, " The bill stuck so long in the lower house, and could get no passage, when the king commanded the Commons to attend him in the forenoon, in his gallery, where he let them wait until ihe afternoon, and then, coming out of his chamber, walking a time or two amongst them, and looking angrily at them, first on one side, and then on the other, at last, "I hear,” saith he, "that my bill will not pass; but I will have it pass, OR I WILL HAVE SOME OF YOUR HEADS; and without any more rhetoric he returned to his chamber.t
It was well known that with Henry it was “a word and a blow." The axe and the block were not agreeable prospects. The tardy and hesitating “Commons" were obedient. The act passed, and Henry obtained all that he desired.
Not long after, a further advance was made in the work of “Reformation,” by Henry taking possession of the larger monasteries. * Parliamentary History. Drake and others. 3 vol. p. 117.
+ Spotman's History of Sacrilege.