Including Organized Seventh-day Baptist Churches and Prominent Authors and Defenders of the Bible Sabbath.
J. Lee Gamble and Charles H. Greene
1. EARLY CIVILIZATION OF THE BRITISH ISLES
It may not be uninteresting or unimportant to note that the earliest known inhabitants of these isles were not so rude and uncivilized as is sometimes supposed. That the Britons were of Asiatic origin seems to be supported by the testimony of Theophilus, bishop of. Antioch, (A. D. 160), and by the similarity between Druidism and the rites of Baal and Ashtoreth worship as practised in the East. Certain traditions indicate that Britain may have been settled by a Trojan colony some time after the fall of Troy, and took its name from the leader of that colony. There is evidence that the British Isles were known in the time of King Solomon, and that before their conquest by Julius Caesar they were as civilized as the Greeks who fought about Troy. The Britons were versed in poetry and music, mathematics, geometry, astronomy, philosophy, psychology, geography, rhetoric, metallurgy, agriculture, navigation, and a form of writing, now all but lost, by which their sacred mysteries were preserved from generation to generation. The island was divided into a number of petty kingdoms which were always at war with one another, except in case of great common danger, or when one kingdom developed unusual strength ; then an arch-king, called "Pendragon", ruled over them all while the danger lasted, or while his strength endured. This was the condition of England when Julius Caesar discovered the islands, B.C. 55.
George Smith shows that their religion "bore some resemblance to that professed by the Hebrew Patriarchs before the giving of the law ;" that they had "clear and correct views of the divine unity, nature, and attributes:" that they "seemed to have fully believed, and clearly taught, the doctrines of a divine superintending Providence;" and that in many other
points they approached, in doctrine and worship, the standards of the Old Testament Scriptures. (Smith's "Religion of Ancient Britain;" pp. 35-54.)
Hence, to say the least, they were not in a condition unfavorable to the reception of Christianity.
II. EARLY PLANTING OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE BRITISH ISLES
That Christianity was established in Britain between the years A.D. 51 and A.D. 61, either by the Apostle Paul himself or by converts made by him during his Roman imprisonment, is the testimony of many credible historians. Gildas the earliest British writer of history, born A. D. 520, says of the introduction of Christianity into the islands: "Meanwhile these islands, stiff with cold and frost, and in a distant region of the world, remote from the visible sun, received the beams of light, that is, the holy precepts of Christ - who is the true Sun, and who shows to the whole world his splendor, nor only from the temporal firmament, but from the height of heaven, which surpasses everything temporal - at the latter part, as we know, of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, by whom his religion was propagated without impediment." Comparing this with the previous passage, the events mentioned appear to be limited by the 'meanwhile' to a period between the defeat of Boadicea, A.D. 61, on the one hand, and on the other to events not far distant - such as the defeat of Caractacus, A.D. 51. Therefore the testimony of Gildas is to the effect that the gospel was preached in Britain before the year 61. (Yeowell, p. 22.)
TESTIMONY OF THE FATHERS
Irenaeus, A.D. 78, says that the church in his time was spread throughout the World; and especially mentions the churches in Germany, Spain, Gaul, and Britain. He adds: "There is no difference of faith or tradition in any of these countries."
Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea. A.D. 325-340, in showing that the Apostles who first preached the gospel to the world could be no imposters or deceivers, names many countries in which they labored, and then adds particularly, that "some passed over the ocean to those which are called the British Isles."
Chrysostom, A.D. 398, mentions "The Britannic Isles" as having felt the power of the Word, and says: "To whatever quarter you turn - to the Indians or Moors or Britons, even to the remotest bounds of the West, you will find this doctrine.
Theodoret, A.D. 423-460. especially enumerates the Britons as one of the nations converted by the Apostles.
DID PAUL PREACH THE GOSPEL IN BRITAIN?
The credit of introducing Christianity into this region has been claimed not only for Paul, but also for Peter, Philip, John, Simon Zelotes, and Joseph of Arimathea; but the most of the church fathers, and other authorities, favor the mission of St. Paul.
Clement of Rome A.D. 96, says: "St Paul preached in the East and West leaving behind him an illustrious record of his faith, having taught the whole world righteousness, and in having traveled even to the utmost bounds of the West."
Jerome, A.D. 392, says : "St. Paul, having been in Spain, went from one ocean to another." "His diligence in preaching extended as far as the earth itself." "After his imprisonment he preached in the western parts."
Venantius Fortunatus, A.D. 560, says: "St. Paul passed over the ocean to the Island of Britain, and to Thule, the extremity of the earth." (Ireland)
Many similar testimonies might be given to the early planting of Christianity in Britain, and that this was done by the Apostle Paul between his first and second imprisonments.
MORE MODERN HISTORIANS
In addition to the authority of the historians of the nine first centuries, the interested reader may find the subject ably discussed and defended in the learned works of Archbishops Parker and Ussher ; Bishops Stillingfleet, Lloyd and Burgess; Camden, Cave, Gibson, Godwin, Nelson, Rapin, Roberts, Rowland, Soames, and others.
Bishop Stillingfleet, in his "Antiquities of the British Church," spoken of as the most complete and learned work on the subject, containing a full account of the early ecclesiastical history of Britain from the first introduction of Christianity to the conversion of the Saxons, while rejecting many of the traditions respecting the British church, yet believes in the visit of St. Paul to this country. (Yeowell, p. viii.) With this view agree the authors named above.
Dr. Hales, however, author of "Primitive British Church" (1819), differs from the other learned antiquarians, ancient and modern, as to Paul's preaching in Britain; and the introduction of Christianity into this island he refers to Bran, father of Caractacus, during the apostolic age. There is neither need nor time to introduce here this interesting story. Nor can we more than simply refer to the Welsh "Triads" and "Genealogy of the Saints," the earliest historical writings relating to the Britons, both testifying to the preaching of the gospel and the founding of the Christian church in the British Isles early in the first century, either by Paul or by converts to Christianity made by him in his Roman Prison.
George Smith, after summing up the evidence, given in part in the preceding lines, says: "We can not avoid saying that many accounts, supported by a much less amount of evidence, are generally regarded as Portion of undoubted history." (Religion of Ancient Briton, pp 130, 131.)
We need not doubt, therefore, that Christianity was planted in the British Isles centuries before the advent of Augustine,(A.D. 596), the first papal missionary to these islands, sent out by Pope Gregory the Great.
III. THE SABBATH IN THE BRITISH ISLES
There are many reasons for believing that the British Church was a Sabbath-keeping church from the first, and for several succeeding centuries; in fact, the Sabbath-keepers have continued in unbroken succession from the first introduction of Christianity down to the present day.
1. The first proposition is certainly true, if the church was founded by the Apostle Paul or his immediate converts.
2. Many church fathers testify that Sunday had not displaced the Sabbath as late at least as Socrates, the church historian who wrote about the close of the fifth century that, with the exception of Rome and Alexandria, "all the churches throughout the whole world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath-day." (Socrates: "History of the Church," p.289. London. 1880.)
3. In the biography of Augustine who came from Rome
A.D. 596, to convert the heathen Saxons, we are told that he found the people of Britain in the most grievous and intolerable heresies, "being given to Judaizing, but ignorant of the holy sacraments and festivals of the church." That is to say, they kept the Bible Sabbath and were ignorant of the Roman
"Sunday-festival." (Mrs. Tarmar Davis : "History of Sabbatarian Churches," p. 108. Phila 1851.)
Watson, (Annals, p. 136), says: "Rome through Augustine did more mischief in one year toward the subverting of the Christian church and See of Britain than had the Saxon pagan done one hundred and fifty years before."
4. The Easter controversy indicates the hold which the Sabbath had upon the British Christians. If we remember that Christianity came to Britain from the Eastern church rather than from the Western, it will help us to understand this discussion.
Dr. Schaff says: "The observance of the Sabbath gradually ceased in the West. Yet the Eastern church to this day marks the seventh day of the week, excepting the Easter Sabbath, by omitting fasting and by standing in prayer:" (Church History, p. 37. 1859.)
Gibbon (1854, vol. 1. Pp. 515 - 517), writes: "As for the observance of Easter, others in other parts of Asia vary in the month, but hold it on Saturday."
John Price, in "The Ancient British Church," (pp. 90, 94. Note), says: "The original difference (about Easter)was that the Western church, followed herein by the churches of Jerusalem and Antioch and Alexandria, observed Good Friday either on the 14th of the month Nisan, if it fell on Friday, or, if not, on the next Friday; and Easter on the following Sunday. The Eastern church did not do that way." and then he adds, "There is, however, an unfair insinuation that the British Christians were Judaic in their observance of Easter day, in a letter of Pope elect, John (A.D. 634), to the Scoti; and in Aldhelm's Epistle to Geruntius." This "insinuation," far from being unfair, is rather the more a true statement of the Sabbath observance of the Celtic church, which even celebrated its Easter or resurrection festival on the day which the Scriptures point out as the one on which the Saviour rose from the grave, (which was "late on the Sabbath." Matt. 28:1-4).
Peter Heylyn, in speaking of the early church in Britain observing its Easter on some other day than Sunday, says: "Which they certainly had not done had the Lord's day obtained amongst them that esteem which generally it had found in the Western church."
The British-Celtic church observed Easter on the seventh day of the week until A.D. 664, when Rome triumphed in the controversy through the action of Oswald, king of Northumberland, whom the Catholics convinced of their succession from St. Peter, "the gate- keeper of heaven." Oswald thought he had better be on good terms with Peter, else he might not get inside the golden gate! Thus Sunday began to be hallowed in Northumberland.
Colman the Culdee, rather than submit to this decision, took his monks and retired to Iona and then to Ireland. (O'Halleron's "Hist. of Ireland," p . 195.)
Yet after all their plans to establish Sunday as the Sabbath, it appears that Christians generally, and in England and Scotland particularly, kept the seventh-day Sabbath until the 13th century. ("The Sabbath-day: Remember to keep it holy," p. 6: William Stillman. 1843.)
In the further study of this subject we will consider the various geographical divisions of these islands:
We believe the Sabbath was observed here because:
1. Ussher says that the church in this island was established "statim post passionem Christi" - soon after the passion of Christ; and therefore before Sunday was thought of.
2. The constant enmity between Ireland and ancient Rome prevented any kind of friendly intercourse. The doctrine of Christ came not from thence here, but from the churches in Asia. (O'Halleron's "Hist. of Ireland," pp 146-174.)
3. O'Halleron further says in this connection (p 172), "In the Present reign (Dermond, A.D. 528), and for nearly a century preceding it, Christianity was in the most flourishing condition in Ireland. They received it from Asiatics. These last, in many instances, adhered more closely to the Jewish customs than did the Roman Christians."
4. There is ample evidence that St. Patrick, "the Apostle of Ireland," never had any connection whatever with Rome, and that he was a Sabbath-keeper. The establishment of the Sabbath-keeping community on the island of Iona, under the headship of St. Columba, was manifestly the result of Patrick's preaching. Like begets like.
5. Celtic Ireland was neither Papal nor inclined to submit to the papacy, until Henry II. rivetted the Roman yoke upon them. (Froude's "England in Ireland," p. 17; O'Halleron's "Hist. of Ireland," p. 19.) In A.D. 1155 Pope Adrian gave Ireland to King Henry to bring into the Romish fold.
A small remnant of Sabbath-keepers has persisted in Ireland until this time; a church or society being found there as late as 1840.
Prof. Moffat, ("Church in Scotland," p. 140), says: "It seems to have been customary in the Celtic churches of early in Ireland as well as in Scotland, to keep Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, as a day of rest from labour. They obeyed the commandment literally upon the seventh day of the week." This is an important concession from a Princeton professor of church history.
The same author, speaking of the Culdees of Columba's time, and of the Scottish church of Queen Margaret's time, says: "Christianity was still taught in Scotland by the church of which Columba had planted the seeds in Iona, for the Culdees had substantially maintained the succession." (Moffat, p. 128.)
We know that Columba was a Sabbath-keeper to the day of his death. We also know that at the time to which Moffat refers the Sabbath was observed by a majority of the Scottish church; for we are told that Queen Margaret, in trying to harmonize the Scottish church with the rest of Europe, found "her next point of complaint against them was that they did not reverence the Lord's day, but that they held Saturday to be the Sabbath." (Skene's "Celtic Scotland" vol 2, pp 348,349.) To this fact of history the Encyclopaedia Britannica bears testimony. (Article: St. Margaret. vol. 15 p. 544.)
It seems therefore unquestionably established that Scotland kept the Bible Sabbath from the very first on down to as late, at least, as 1069-1093. And it was not until as late as A.D. 1203 "that Scotland bowed the neck to Rome and relinquished the faith of her fathers, - and with it the Sabbath.
This end was accomplished through the impious ruse of the mysterious roll commanding Sunday observance under severest penalties, said to have fallen from heaven upon the altar of a saint in Jerusalem. (See Lewis' "Sabbath and Sunday" pp 197-202.) And yet for all this, as late as A.D. 1557, we find Sunday classed with "other festival days" of the church; for a meeting of barons and nobles was held in Scotland that year, when it was thought expedient "that in all parishes of this realm the Book of Common Prayer be read on Sunday and other festival days publicly," &c.
In Frank Leslie's "Popular Monthly" for Nov., 1897, is an article on "Fisher Folks of Scotland," in which it is said that among the fishermen of Scotland of the present time "Sunday is strictly kept as a day of rest; no boats go out after Saturday morning." The writer thinks this is because they fear they might be kept out on the water over Sunday. But is it not rather a remnant of the old Sabbath-keeping principles and practices of Scotland?
There is much evidence that the Sabbath prevailed in Wales universally until A.D. 1115, when the first Roman Bishop was seated at St. David's. The old Welsh Sabbath-keeping churches did not even then altogether bow the knee to Rome, but fled to their hiding places "where the ordinances of the gospel to this day have been administered in their primitive mode without being adulterated by the corrupt church of Rome." (J. Davis' Baptist History, Ch. I.)
Vavasor Powell, (1617-1671), was one of several commonly called "first reformers of the Baptists in Wales," who were successful in quickly gathering many followers at Caerleon and its vicinity. Joshua Toulmin says of Powell: "His sentiments were those of a Sabbatarian Baptist." (Neal's "History of the Puritans," 2, 274.) Thomas Armitage, (Baptist History," pp600, 601), states that Powell and his churches were not in the Baptist Association. Toulmin's statement furnishes the reason. This writer also says he gathered "above twenty distinct societies consisting of from two hundred to five hundred members."
Dr. Lewis in "Sabbath and Sunday," p. 159, says there is no trace of Sunday legislation in Wales before its union with England in A.D. 1282. All this is convincing evidence of the ancient and continued Sabbath-keeping principles of the Welsh people. They were Sabbath-keeping Baptists.
The history of the Sabbath in England proper leaves no doubt that the seventh day was originally observed, and for centuries, and that in this part of the Island, as in other parts, the banner of Sabbath truth has never been without brave defenders.
NOT DIFFERENT FROM IRELAND AND SCOTLAND.
What has been said in general about Ireland and Scotland is equally true of England. The Christians of Britain were of the same character as those of Scotland, at least before the coming of Augustine. Lanrentius, Melitus and Justus, when making to Augustine their report of the Christians of Great Britain, said they "had found by conversation with them that the Scots do not differ from the Britains." (Venerable Bede, II. 4, p. 118.)
Since the church in Scotland was a Sabbath-keeping church, and the Britons of the southern part of the island were not different from them, [Later correction - (i.e. the Scotch people). The Scotch people here referred to were the people now called Irish. This does not weaken the force of the statement however as will be observed by the quotation from Moffat on page 27 of this book.Refer to subheading - 2. Scotland] it follows that they also observed the Seventh-day as the Sabbath. (Moffat, p. 140, as already shown, testifies that Scotland kept the Sabbath as late as the eleventh century.)
ALWAYS DIFFERENT FROM ROME.
England was always different from Rome and not dependent upon it. James Yeowell, ("Chronicles," p. 109), in speaking of exemptions from the Roman patriarchate and others, mentions certain ancient MSS. in the Bodleian Library, and then says :-"In which MSS. neither England, Scotland, nor Ireland is reckoned as depending on the Roman patriarchate: altho it is as certain there was a complete and absolute Church settled in this island long before these MSS. were (or can be supposed to have been) drawn up, as that there was one at Rome itself."
That the British Church was different from that of Rome we may learn from the fact that when the Roman missionary to the heathen Saxons inquired of the Pope how he was to behave toward the Bishops of France and Britain, the Pontiff, answered him:- "We give thee no authority over the Bishops of France, for we ought not to deprive the Bishop of Arles of the authority which he hath received from us. But all the Bishops of Britain we commit to thee." (Lloyd's "Church Gov't," p. 80.)
And in "Burgess Tracts," pp 253, 254, we have this:- "It appears that these northern churches were shut out from her (Rome's) communion, and were called the schismatics of Britain andIreland for no other reason than that they would not receive Rome's attentions, nor submit to the authority by which they were imposed." They certainly would not have been called "schismatics" if they had been in doctrine and faith like the Church of Rome.
Burgess further says :- "In our country the authority of the Pope was unknown during the six first centuries - was not acknowledged by the Saxon princes, tho submitted to by some of the sovereigns subsequent to the conquest, and was not admitted by those who were nearest in succession to the Saxon kings."
It is apparent that the Anglo Saxons in their early settlement of Great "Britain" were many of them Seventh-day Baptists. (See Winebrenner's "History of all Religious Denominations," p. 96: ed. 1853)
As Rome was in the observance of Sunday at this time Britain was "schismatic" in that she still held to the doctrine of the early Church, both as to the Sabbath and other things.
Bede (book 3, chapt. 4.), says of Columba and his disciples, that, "having no one to bring them the Synodal decrees, by reason of their being so far away from the rest of the world they therefore practised only such works of piety as they could learn from the prophetical, evangelical and apostolical writings."
What further or better testimony is needed to prove that the British Church for at least six centuries kept the Sabbath of Jehovah, and practised Scriptural baptism? Happy the Church universal if she had followed such "apostolic succession."
SUNDAY REGARDED SIMPLY AS A FESTIVAL
In all Saxon laws, beginning with A.D. 688, Sunday is spoken of as a "festival;" and not the least reference is made to any divine law or sacredness.
In A.D. 878 Alfred had a Sunday law under the head:- "Of working on a 'festival.'"
King Edward, A.D. 959-975, enacted:- "Let the festivals of every Sunday be kept," etc.
In A.D. 1017 - 1035 Canute, King of Denmark, became King of all England: his Sunday law reads, "let every Sunday's festival be held from noon of Saturday till noon of Monday."
Henry VI., A.D. 1448:- "All manner of fairs and markets in the said principal feasts, and Sundays, and Good Fridays, shall clearly cease," etc.
During the Puritan supremacy, A.D. 1640 - 1660, Sunday was called the "Lord's day," and the laws were strict and explicit; but previous to this date Sunday was simply a "festival day" without divine authority; and the "Book of Sports," by James I., in 1618, and by Charles I., in 1633, shows the way in which the day was regarded - held simply by expediency and by human authority only. (The above quotations are made from Dr. A.H. Lewis' "Sunday Legislation," 1902, pp 73-115.)
THE WALDENSES IN ENGLAND. 1070-1315
Mr. George Molyneaux, a resident of Milford Haven, Wales, says :- "All the Christian Church were seventh-day observers during the early centuries. Sunday is from Rome and was but slowly pushed into the British Church." This is certainly a true statement; but while the Sabbath was being gradually crowded out of the Establishment, a new lamp was being lighted whose brightness was to shine with splendor, tho the bearers should change, until the time of Charles II. And then, changing again, it was to blaze up once more; and then, tho burning very low, the ancient light still shines with an ever steady clearness and brilliancy.
The ancient Waldenses had now spread themselves over nearly all of Europe, and in the time of William the Conqueror (1070), and his son, William Rufus, it appears that the Waldenses and their disciples out of France, Germany, and Holland had their frequent recourse and did abound in England; and had, about A.D. 1080, generally corrupted all France, Italy, and England." (Crosby's History of the English Baptists, 2:43,44.)
Toward the middle of the twelfth century a society of Waldenses made its appearance in England, coming originally from Gascoyne, where, "being numerous as the sands of the sea, they sorely infested France, Italy, Spain, and England." (Lewis: "Sabbath and Sunday," p. 211.)
In the thirteenth century the Waldenses had spread abroad through twenty-two countries of Europe, Britain being one. (Benedict: p. 31.) There was not among them all perfect agreement in sentiments; yet that they were opposed to the pretensions and innovations of Rome, and that they clave only to the text of Scripture, is admitted by all. That they "despised the feast of Easter, and all the festivals of Christ and the Saints," is also generally admitted. (Benedict: 1813; 2: 412,413.)
"Purchase's Pilgrimage," a sort of universal history published in London, England, in 1625, says that they "keep Saturday holy, nor esteem Saturday fasts lawful; but even on Easter they have solemn services on Saturday, eat flesh, and feast it bravely like the Jews." (Lewis: Sabbath and Sunday, pp. 216, 217.)
By A.D. 1260 these people had increased to at least 800,000 - some say, Upwards of 3,000,000. So there was no lack of Sabbath light even in these early times. (Benedict: 1848, p. 31.) Having upheld the Sabbath truth for nearly three centuries, until A.D. 1315, the Waldenses seem to have been merged into the Lollards.
THE LOLLARDS IN ENGLAND
The Lollards were followers of John Wyckliffe, and were the adherents of a religious movement which was widespread at the end of the fourteenth century and the beginning of the fifteenth, and which, to some extent, maintained itself on to the Reformation. (Brit. XIV. Article, "Lollards.") The first official use of the word appears in 1387, when the Bishop of Winchester issued a mandate against five of these "poor preachers," as they were called, to suppress them.
The movement took its name from Walter Lollard, a German preacher, who in the reign ofEdward III., about the year A.D. 1350, came to England. He was called by Peter Perrin "A Waldensian Bard." Benedict, (History, p. 307), says he was "a man of great renown among the Protestants of that day in Germany; and was so eminent in England, that, as in
France they were called Berengarians from Berengarius, and, Petrobrussians from Peter de Bruys, so also did the Waldensian Christians for many generations bear the name of this worthy man, being called Lollards."
Benedict (History, p. 308), further says:- "They now abounded; more than half of the nation became Lollards; yea they covered all England. In 1389 they formed separate and distinct societies agreeable with Scripture. In these churches all the brethren were equal, each could preach, baptize, and break bread. They were united in opinion as one, and were called "Bible men," since they allowed no office not enjoined in the Word of God. Their hostility to the hierarchy, and their, numbers, aroused their enemies to adopt severe measures. In the year 1400 a law was passed sentencing Lollards to be burned to death. In Norfolk they abounded, and there they suffered severely. Still the "Bible men" increased, and became dangerous to the Church. They are said to have numbered 100,000." Henry VIII., while in conflict with the Pope, relieved and encouraged the Lollards in his kingdom; and this led their persecuted brethren from all parts of Europe to flock to England in great numbers, to enjoy religious liberty, and to strengthen the cause of true religion.
That these people were immersion Baptists, and generally refused to baptize infants, is admitted even by their enemies. Benedict (p. 308), says of Walter Lollard:- "He was in sentiment the same as Peter de Bruys, who was the founder of the Petrobrussians of France." The Lollards were like the Petrobrussians, and these were Sabbath keepers.
Dr. Allix ("Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Piedmont Church," p. 162), gives evidence of their Sabbath-keeping principles; he refers to a Romish priest who said he handled "five questions against the Petrobrussians which bare a great resemblance to the belief of the Cathari of Italy." That the Cathari did retain and observe the ancient Sabbath, is certified by their Romish adversaries. Dr. Allix quotes a Roman Catholic author of the twelfth century concerning three sorts of heretics - the Cathari, the Passagii, and the Arnoldistae; and says of this Romish writer: "He lays it down as one of their opinions that the law of Moses is to be kept according to the letter, and the Sabbath ought to take place."
Bishop White, in speaking of Sabbath-keeping as opposed to the practices of the Church, says:- "It was thus condemned in the Nazarenes and in the Cerinthians, in the Ebionites and in the Hypsistarii. The ancient Synod of Laodicea made a decree against it; also Gregory the Great affirmed it was Judaical. In St. Bernard's time it was condemned in the Petrobrussians. The same hath then and ever since been condemned as Judaish and heretical." (Treatise on the Sabbath p. 8)
Dr. Hessey says :- "The Lollards, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, entertained a strong antipathy to Saints' Days, and extended it even to the weekly Festival of the Resurrection" - Sunday. (Brompton Lectures p. 95)
"Studies in English History," by Gardner and Spedding, (1881, p. 296), says: "The Lollards * * * Could not overlook the injunction contained in the Fourth Commandment * * * here were most positive words of Scripture * * * and the clear tendency of Lollard teaching was to carry out the Scripture command to the letter." The "Sabbath Memorial" for January, 1882, alsobears testimony to the same effect.
With all this testimony before us we cannot doubt that the Lollards were Sabbath-keepers, observers of the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath which God himself enjoined at the beginning of creation, and which he has never repealed. It is clear also that as early, at least, as A.D. 1389 they were formed into regularly organized churches - "separate and distinct societies agreeable to Scripture." Thus the succession of Sabbath witnesses is maintained unbroken from the first century down to the Reformation.
In A.D. 1530, one of the pastors of the Waldenses, George Morel, published the Memoirs of his church. He said there were then 800,000 professing the Waldensian faith. This can well be believed when one considers the host of martyrs that furnished; and that in 1315 there were 80,000 in Bohemia alone. (Benedict, p. 80. Wn. Jones' History of the Christian Church, p. 440.)
THE ANABAPTISTS IN ENGLAND
About the time of Luther's Reformation, early in 1520, certain of the old evangelical Baptists of Germany were called "Anabaptists," because they rebaptised all who entered their communion. That they had a comparatively pure creed, and were faithful in their testimony against the corruption of the Romish Church, is admitted by all. That they were immersion Baptists, the very name indicates; and that they were observers of the seventh-day Sabbath will be presently shown.
About the year 1565 they made their appearance in England, which had always been a cave of Adullam and a city of refuge to those who were persecuted for righteousness sake. These Anabaptists lasted as such for a little over one century, and then they were merged into some of the other evangelical churches. As further evidence that they flourished in England, the "Broadmead Records: Historical Introduction," p 53, states that "In 1568 the Dutch Anabaptists held private Conventicles in London, and perverted many."
In 1525 certain fanatics of Munster, Germany, thought to set up the kingdom of Christ on earth, "taking heaven by storm." These people ran to wild extremes, and cast much discredit upon the cause of true religion. The true Anabaptists, however, had no lot nor part with these ranting visionaries, yet they were unfortunately classed with them; and this was used as a pretext for renewed persecution.
Many, if not all, of the Anabaptists observed the seventh-day Sabbath. Dr Francis White (Treatise on the Seventh Day, p 132), says:- "They who maintain the Saturday Sabbath to be in force, comply with the Anabaptists."
Russen (On Anabaptists, London, 1703, p. 79), speaking of heresies, says:- "Under this head I could conclude some of them under those of Anabaptists, who have been inclined to this personal reign of Christ, and have embraced the seventh-day Sabbath."
In "Sabbath Redivivum," by Cawdrey and Palmer, London, 1562, it is said:- "It seems the Anabaptists, who usually cry down the Sabbath either as antichristian or ceremonial, began to see the necessity of a Sabbath; and will rather return to the old Sabbath with the Jews than have none at all."
James Ockford, whose book on the Sabbath was "sharply confuted with fire," in 1642, was called an Anabaptist.
Thus the Anabaptists, who were clearly Sabbath-keepers, took the torch from the Waldenses and Lollards, and carried it for about a century in England.
It may be asked, What became of the Sabbath-keeping Waldenses and Lollards? Benedict (History of Baptists, 1848, p. 79), in speaking of these people in connection with the Reformation, says:- "The multitudes who lay concealed in almost all parts of Europe hailed with joy the dawn of that day which should relieve them from the persecuting power
of the despotic heads of the Roman Church. But soon the found themselves in their expectations mistaken, became entirely dissatisfied with some of the principles on which the Reformation was conducted, and so far as their voice could be heard they entered their decided protest against the Protestants, and believed - that the Reformation needed reforming. But at length these afflicted Waldenses were ready to submit to almost any condition for the sake of gaining new friends and protectors; and one company after another became associated by way of correspondence, as an incipient measure, and in the end were amalgamated with the Reformed or Protestant party. (Benedict, 1848, p. 83.)
"The Baptist Cyclopedia" (1881), states the case thus:- "In 1530, according to Du Pin, the Waldenses united with the Reformers, and were persuaded to renounce certain peculiarities which heretofore they held, and to receive doctrines which till then had been foreign to their creed. This new arrangement harmonized the reformations of the twelfth and sixteenth centuries, and probably removed Baptist doctrines from the valleys of the Piedmont. This ancient community is now Presbyterian, and had its delegate in the recent Pan-Presbyterian Council in Philadelphia,"
However, in spite of this great defection, many remained faithful; and from Reformation times until the present day, the British Isles have not been without organized Seventh-Day Baptist Churches.
IV. ORGANIZED SEVENTH DAY BAPTIST CHURCHES
Thus far we have endeavored to show, and think we have done so, that Christianity was planted in the islands of Great Britain in the apostolic age; that it was Sabbath-keeping in character; that for some six centuries, at least, the Sabbath prevailed in these islands, and that, on down to the Reformation, Sabbath advocates and adherents abounded in unbroken and persistent succession.
We now come to the subject of organized Seventh-Day Baptist Churches.
Chambers' Cyclopedia states that "many conscientious and independent thinkers in the reign of Elizabeth (1558-1603) advocated the seventh-day."
The Sabbath Recorder of June 11, 1868, says:- "In 1552 many in England were known as Sabbatarians.
Dr. Samuel Kohn, chief Rabbi of Budapest, Hungary, in a recent work (Sabbatarians in Transylvania, 1894, pp. 8,9) says:- In Bohemia Sabbatarians sprung up as early as 1530. Such Sabbatarians, or similar sects, we meet about 1545 among the Quakers in England. Several leaders and preachers of the Puritans have re-transferred the rest day from Sunday to Saturday; and the Christian Jews who arose in England and partly emigrated to Germany, and settled near Heidelberg, believed, indeed, in Jesus, but they also celebrated the Sabbath and regarded the Jewish laws in reference to meats and drinks."
Both Robert Cox and Dr. Hessey trace the origin of the Seventh-Day Baptists of England to the time of Erasmus (1466-1536), who wrote of Sabbatarians in Bohemia early in the Reformation. Descendants of the Waldenses in Bohemia and Holland formed material for Sabbath-keeping Churches, which appeared with the dawn of the Reformation. (Lewis: Sabbath and Sunday, pp. 317-320)
We have already noted that Benedict (History of Baptists, p. 308), speaks of "separate and distinct societies" of Sabbath-keeping Lollards as early as A.D. 1389.
From the multiplicity of testimony we cannot but be confident that there were organized Sabbath-keeping Churches much earlier than any definite date which can be fixed by historical documents. Existing records and accounts take us back no further than about 1617 A.D. From that date until the present we have learned more or less of something like thirty-two Seventh-Day Baptist Churches in England, Scotland and Ireland. But our information in many instances is very meagre; of very few do we know the exact date of organization; of many we simply know that they were in existence as early as a given date, or that they were alive as late as a certain time; of a few we have been unable so far to discover any date, altho the evidence of their existence at some time is quite clear.