Chapter 1: 45 - 1180 AD
Chapter 2: 1180 - 1547 AD
Chapter 3: 1540 - 1602 AD
Chapter 4: 1602 - 1625 AD
Chapter 5: 1625 - 1640 AD
Chapter 6: 1640 - 1653 AD
Chapter 7: 1653 - 1660 AD
About Joseph Ivimey
The Reformation was an important era in the history of this country. The fetters with which Popery had long shackled the minds of men were then knocked off, and the use of the bible led many to embrace those sentiments in doctrine and discipline, which accorded with the simplicity of Christ.
The subsequent history is an attempt to prove that the English Baptists held the genuine principles of the Reformation, and pursued them to their legitimate consequences. Believing that the bible alone contains the religion of Protestants, they rejected every thing in the worship of God which was not found in the sacred oracles.
Without intending to offend those who differ from the English Baptists in their distinguishing tenet, we think it right to premise, that this work will also attempt to prove, that Infant baptism in England owes its origin to Popery;--that the ancient British Christians before the coming of Austin knew nothing of the practice;--and that many at least of the Wickliffites and Lollards, the first English reformers, rejected it as a popish innovation and maintained that "all traditions not found in the scriptures were superfluous and wicked."
It was these sentiments which led to the formation of societies dissenting from the Popish establishment before the Reformation, and dissenting from the Protestant establishment afterwards.
The English Baptists were the first persons who understood the important doctrine of Christian liberty, and who zealously opposed all persecution for the sake of conscience.
A large proportion of their churches were averse to all interference with political matters during the convulsive period of the civil wars. It is, however, to be lamented that some of them during that period confounded the power of the magistrate with the government of that kingdom which is not of this world.
The sufferings which have been endured by the English Baptists on account of their religious principles, give them a claim to the gratitude of every true lover of liberty and of his country. To them may be applied with peculiar propriety, what the historian Hume says of the Puritans in general: "By whom the precious spark of liberty was kindled and preserved."
It is not too much to say that their history has never been fairly given. Influenced by prejudice, many of our historians have either kept them out of sight, or have exhibited them to public ridicule and contempt.
For many of his materials the writer is indebted to Crosby's History of the English Baptists, in 4 vols. octavo, published about seventy years ago. This work is now become very scarce; and it is so badly written, that an abridgement and arrangement of its contents have long been thought desirable.
He has also endeavoured to collect those works published by themselves, from which may most certainly be drawn a fair statement of their principles. Though he has succeeded in his researches beyond his expectations, he is desirous of procuring additional particulars concerning them, that the biographical part of the work, which he intends to publish in another volume, may be rendered as perfect as possible. He has prefixed the extract from Dr. Gill's work, entitled, "The Divine Right of Infant baptism examined and disproved," in order to show that there is no evidence that Infant baptism is of apostolical origin; and also, that the testimonies of ancient writers are in favour of adult baptism.
The author takes this opportunity of acknowledging his obligations to many of his brethren for their readiness to assist him. He desires more particularly to return thanks for the use of the Manuscript of the late Rev. Joshua Thomas of Leominster; to the Rev. Mr. Frost of Dunmow in Essex, for the use of a valuable Manuscript of his progenitor, Mr. William Kiffin; and for the liberty of consulting the Manuscripts and other works deposited in Dr. Williams's library, Red-Cross Street, London.
As to the use which he has made of his materials, it must be left to his readers to decide. He is, however, prepared to say, that he has faithfully related the facts which have come to his knowledge, without a wish to promote any object but the cause of God and truth.
If his labours should be useful to the denomination to which he considers it an honour to belong, by exciting them to a zealous imitation of the virtues of their ancestors, he will receive an abundant compensation; to which will be added the high gratification of having done all in his power, that the names of some of those great men may be had in everlasting remembrance.
London, Jan. 1, 1811