During the Protestant Reformation, the reformers sought a return to the traditions of First Century Christianity. Of course there was a great deal of argument about that. What exactly are the traditions of First Century Christianity? Since over a thousand years had passed, there was room for debate.
What was most unfortunate, however, was the fact some Christians took the “debate” too far and persecuted other Christians. That sort of persecution was most certainly not part of First Century Christianity. And yet during the “reformation” Christians tortured Christians. That’s the sort of history that makes the 4th principle look quite reasonable.
We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel under ground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not…
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