By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches: Embracing Accounts of the Armenian, East Indian, and Abyssinian Episcopacies in Asia and Africa, the Waldenses, Semi-Judaisers, and Sabbatarian Anabaptists of Europe; with the Seventh-day Baptist Denominaton in the United States
Author: Davis, Tamar
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches: Embracing Accounts of the Armenian, East Indian, and Abyssinian Episcopacies in Asia and Africa, the Waldenses, Semi-Judaisers, and Sabbatarian Anabaptists of Europe; with the Seventh-day Baptist Denominaton in the United States" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.


Transcriber's Note:

Obvious printer errors have been corrected. Hyphenation has been

Small capitals have been replaced by full capitals. Italics are
indicated by _underscores_.

In Chapter I, Section III (A Sketch Of The History Of The Abyssinian
Church) "Hinglar" and "Kinglar" may refer to the same individual.







"The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the
remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the
testimony of Jesus Christ."—REV. xii. 17.


 Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1851, BY LINDSAY AND
 BLAKISTON, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court, for the Eastern
 District of Pennsylvania.



At the present time, when the Sabbath controversy is engaging so much of
the public attention, and when Sabbath Conventions and Sabbath Unions
are being chronicled almost monthly, I consider it unnecessary to offer
any apology for the introduction of the following work to the public
notice. My reader need not fear a repetition or recapitulation of the
arguments generally employed in favour of the sabbatical institution, as
it refers either to the first or the last day of the week; neither will
his attention be wearied by prolix and verbose details. It has been my
aim to collect, collate, and condense facts, as much as appeared
consistent with perspicuity. I have not taken any new stand with regard
to the Sabbath question. The Seventh-day Baptists have, from the first,
contended that the Sabbath was changed, not by Christ or his Apostles,
but by ecclesiastical synods and councils. This could only be proved
convincingly by reference to the practice of those churches who were
removed by distance or otherwise beyond the pale of such authority. That
the Armenian, East Indian, and Abyssinian Episcopacies were so removed,
and that they absolutely refused to succumb to the authority of the
Latin or Greek prelates, sustaining in consequence the most cruel and
desolating wars, is an undeniable historical fact; no less so the truth
that during all this time they have been living witnesses against
Anti-Christ, as the observers of the ancient Sabbath, which practice
they learned from the Apostles, or their immediate successors.

With respect to the History of the Seventh-day Baptist denomination, I
am not unaware of the imperfections that may be detected in it. But I
must excuse my own defects by a just complaint of the blindness and
insufficiency of my guides; and may also observe that, with reference to
nearly every portion of the work, I have been the pioneer in the field
of research.


April, 1851.



 Preliminary Observations,                                            13


 The Armenian Church,                                                 18
 Sabbatarianism of this Church,                                       30
 Ancient Christians of India,                                         33
 Their Sabbatarian Character,                                         39
 The Ethiopic Church,                                                 40
 Its Sabbatarian Character,                                           54


 Waldenses, Albigenses, etc.,                                         62
 Their Doctrinal Sentiments,                                          69
 Testimonies to their Sabbatarian Character,                          70
 Their Persecutions,                                                  84
 Further Accounts of their Sabbatarianism,                            88
 Semi-Judaisers—their Origin,                                         95
 Their Sabbatarianism,                                                97
 Their Churches in Russia, Poland,                                    99
 Sabbatarians of Holland,                                            103
 Sabbatarians of England,                                            107
 The Natton Church,                                                  114
 The Cripplegate Church,                                             118
 The Mill-Yard Church,                                               122


 General History,                                                    130
 Churches in Rhode Island,                                           145
 Churches in Connecticut,                                            162
 Churches in New Jersey,                                             166
 Central Association,                                                174
 Western Association,                                                190
 Southwestern Association,                                           198
 Northwestern Association,                                           202


 Keithian Seventh-day Baptists,                                      211
 German Seventh-day Baptists,—General History,                       215
 German Seventh-day Baptists,—Particular History,                    233


The word Sabbatarian, whether bestowed by their enemies as a term of
opprobrium upon those who observed the seventh day of the week as the
Sabbath, or whether assumed by themselves, is, nevertheless, peculiarly
appropriate, and very distinguishing of this particular tenet in their
system of religious faith. Neither do we hesitate to employ it in a very
extensive sense, as comprehending all those religious communities,
whatever may be their names, modes of worship, or forms of
ecclesiastical discipline, who refrain from secular employments upon the
last day of the week, and observe the same as holy time. There cannot,
therefore, be any impropriety in considering the Abyssinian and Armenian
Churches as sabbatarian organizations, although the former has become
greatly corrupted in worship and doctrine, and exhibits few traces of
the purity and simplicity of primitive Christianity.

We claim for sabbatarian institutions a very high antiquity, and a
multitude of the most illustrious exemplars; from that grand sabbath
proclaimed over the new-born world by the Eternal Father, and observed
by angelic and seraphic intelligences, to its second ordainment amid the
smoke and thunders of Sinai, and its subsequent observance by kings,
priests, sages, and witnesses for the truth through so many ages, to
Him, the Great High Priest of the Covenant, who sanctified the law and
made it honourable. It is incontestable that our adorable Lord and his
Apostles observed the seventh day of the week, and it was not until a
long time subsequent to the close of their earthly pilgrimages that the
reverence due to this holy time was transferred, in any Christian
community, to the Dominical day.

The first Christian church established in the world was founded at
Jerusalem under the immediate superintendence of the Apostles. This
church, which was the model of all those that were founded in the first
century, was undoubtedly sabbatarian. In the second and third centuries,
according to the testimony of Mosheim, it was very generally observed.
During the fourth and in the commencement of the fifth centuries, it was
almost universally solemnized, if the veracity of Socrates, the
ecclesiastical historian, may be depended upon.

We have every reason to believe, however, that from the first, or,
indeed, at a very early period, a superstitious veneration was paid in
some places to the first day of the week. It is certain that, before the
close of the first century, the original purity and simplicity of
Christianity had become greatly defaced and deplorably corrupted by the
introduction into its doctrines of the monstrous tenets of a
preposterous philosophy, and into its ceremonies of a multitude of
heathen rites. Identical with this was the appointment of various
festivals to be observed on particular days. These days were those on
which the martyrs had laid down their lives for the truth, the day on
which the Saviour had been crucified, and that also on which he rose
from the dead. We have no reason to suppose that the observation of the
first day dates back any earlier than that of Friday, or those
anniversary festivals which were introduced to commemorate the descent
of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, and the feast of Easter. All were
the fruits of as dark, fabulous, and superstitious times, as have ever
been since the resurrection of Christ. It seems to have been the policy
of the rulers of the church at this period, to assimilate Christianity
in its rites and festivals to the manners of Paganism, and in its
doctrines to the tenets of a corrupt yet seducing philosophy. For such a
course of conduct various reasons may be assigned. In the first place
they were pleasing to the multitude, who were more delighted with the
pageantry and circumstance of external ceremonies, and the frequency of
holidays, than with the valuable attainments of rational and consistent
piety, or with a sober and steady course of life.

In the second place, we have reason to believe that the bishops
augmented the number of the religious ceremonies and festivals in the
Christian worship, by way of accommodating it to the prejudices and
infirmities of both Jews and heathens, in order to facilitate their
conversion. These people were accustomed to a round of pompous and
magnificent ceremonies in their religious service; and, as they deemed
these rites an essential part of religion, it was natural for them to
regard with indifference, or even with contempt, any service whose forms
were divested of all specious and captivating appearances. As their
religion allowed to them a multitude of festivals, the bishops supposed,
and not without reason, that they persisted in their idolatry on account
of the ease, pleasure, and sensual gratifications thereby enjoyed,
consequently the rulers of the church adopted certain external
ceremonies, and appointed festivities, in order to allure the senses of
the vulgar, and to make them more disposed to embrace Christianity. The
effect of this course of conduct was most pernicious. It effaced the
beautiful simplicity of Christianity, and corrupted its natural purity
in order to extend its influence; thus making it lose that practical
excellence for which no popular esteem could ever afford compensation.
It may be allowable, it may even be commendable, to accommodate
ecclesiastical as well as civil institutions, in certain cases, to the
infirmities of mankind, and to make some concessions, some prudent
instances of compliance to their invincible prejudices, but all these
should be of such a nature as not to derogate from the majesty of the
divine law, or to substitute for the ordinances of God the observances
and institutions of fallible men.

The multiplication of festivals and holidays would naturally bring the
Sabbath into neglect, but what contributed more than anything else to
destroy its influence over the minds of men, was the almost universal
abhorrence in which the Jews were held. We are informed that multitudes
of Christians, in the time of Adrian, abandoned all the rites and
institutions of their religion that bore any resemblance to the Jewish
ritual, for fear of being confounded with that people, who had become
obnoxious to the prince, and were suffering the extremity of his
vengeance. "Let us have nothing in common with that odious brood, the
Jews," says Constantine, when issuing his edict for the observation of
the Dominical day. Subsequently, the sabbath was condemned for the same
reasons by synods and councils; popes and kings rose up in judgment
against it. Perhaps they feared also that its observation would remind
the people of that sacred volume, which the prelates chose, for their
own convenience, to keep from the world, and in which their
condemnation, as followers of the most detestable vices, would be so
strongly marked. Moreover they were determined, in the plenitude of
their arrogance, to give laws in both a temporal and spiritual sense; to
govern the consciences as they ruled the actions of mankind. Nor was
this all, some of these prelates actually aspired to stand, at least in
the eyes of the multitude, in the place of God,—to divert the adoration,
which should be paid to him, to themselves, or to the relics they had
blessed, and the saints they had canonized. Would not the observation of
the sabbath have tended to recall the minds of men to the Maker of all
things, as the only true and proper object for religious adoration; to
the fact that he alone was the moral governor of the universe; his laws
the standard of perfection; himself of infallibility? History presents
numerous examples of kings and tyrants, who have assumed the attributes
of Deity, and demanded the homage of mankind; but, perhaps, a more
impious imitation of his power, a more blasphemous assumption of his
prerogatives, were never exhibited than in the conduct of these
hierarchs. Did God appoint one mediator between himself and man,—behold
the saints they canonized; did he bestow the Scriptures as his revealed
will upon the world,—behold the canons of the church in which their
authority is superseded; and did he institute and command the
observation of the seventh day as a day of rest,—they substitute an
other in its place. The Sabbath is reprobated as a Jewish institution:
it is a wonder that we hear nothing of a Jewish religion, as
Christianity certainly originated with that people; of a Jewish Saviour,
since the Redeemer was of the offspring of David; and of Jewish
apostles, as not one of the twelve were of the Gentile race. We must go
to the Jews for the Bible, in which is contained the knowledge of God,
and the hope of the world; we must go to the Jews for examples of
godliness in the long, dark ages before the Christian era; why not go to
them for a sabbath likewise? The spiritual pride that opposes such a
measure will not stand in the great and burning day.



The religious and political history of Armenia has, from the earliest
ages, been pregnant with great events; but, obedient to necessity; I
condense within a few pages what might fill as many volumes, and content
myself with giving an outline of the subject that some future historian
may amplify and adorn. In countries where there exists a union between
the church and the state, and the prelatic dignity is supported by royal
authority, the revolutions of the former are intimately connected with
the convulsions of the latter,—the temporal with the spiritual affairs.
But the archiepiscopal see of Armenia appears to have preserved its
ancient form of discipline and doctrine in the most remarkable manner,
notwithstanding the changes of the royal and ducal dynasties in the
state, and its alternate subjection to Saracenic and Persian dominion.

The propagation of the gospel throughout Armenia is ascribed by ancient
historians to St. Bartholomew, who is said to be identical with
Nathaniel,—that Israelite indeed. In Albanopolis, a city of this
country, we are informed that the apostle suffered martyrdom; but his
blood only watered the seed of divine truth, and caused a more glorious
harvest of proselytes from the Zendavesta to the gospel,—from the
adoration of the host of heaven to the spiritual worship of their Maker,
"the King immortal, eternal, and invisible."

Notwithstanding the penal edicts of the sovereign, and the opposition of
the Magian priesthood, Christianity flourished like a tree planted by
the rivers of water, and the rising generations of Armenia reposed under
its salutary shade. Few religious sects have been extirpated by
persecution. Religion shines brightest in the night of adversity; it is
quenched and extinguished in the sunshine of courts. Zeal and
intrepidity are always stimulated by the presence of an enemy. The
Christians of Armenia received the crown of martyrdom, rejoicing that
they were accounted worthy to suffer for their attachment to the cross.
At last, however, the eloquence of a priest, named Gregory, succeeded in
converting the monarch and his principal nobility, who received the rite
of baptism, and entered into the communion of the church. In consequence
of this, Leontius, bishop of Cappadocia, consecrated Gregory bishop of
the Armenians, and their church became annexed to the episcopal
jurisdiction of the Antiochan prelate.

This circumstance, so fortunate in a temporal sense, proved highly
destructive to its spiritual repose. No longer assaulted, it became the
parent of schism; and one Eustathius, an obscure priest, has given his
name to history, by the success that attended his efforts to create an
excitement and faction in the church. The convention of a Council at
Gangra might condemn and excommunicate, but could not suppress this
faction, which poured forth legions of missionaries, and for a long time
disturbed the repose of the Eastern prelates. The doctrines of
Eustathius were neither heretical, nor his conduct in introducing them
truly reprehensible, although from their nature highly offensive to the
spiritual dignitaries, who, to judge from their habits of life, found
more solace in wine and female intercourse than in religious exercises,
and who were more solicitous to acquire wealth and preferments to enrich
their physical heirs, than solicitous about the welfare of their
spiritual progeny. Producing the example and judgment of Paul,
Eustathius boldly condemned the marriages of the priests, under any
circumstances, as productive of evil; but denounced second and third
marriages as abominable, and worthy of excommunication. The use of
wine,—in short, all sensual delights,—he prohibited, as equally
reprehensible in those who were set as exemplars and rulers of the flock
of Christ. Eustathius was succeeded by Erius, a priest, and semi-Arian,
who not only protested against the multiplied marriages of the priests,
but declared that the bishops were not distinguished from the presbyters
by any divine right, and that, according to the Holy Scriptures, their
authority and offices were identical. This tenet, of which the immediate
consequences would have been to reduce within certain limits the power
of the prelates, raised a storm of opposition from that quarter,
although it was highly agreeable to many good Christians, to whom their
tyranny and arrogance had become insupportable. Erius also condemned
fasts, stated feasts, prayers for the dead, and the celebration of
Easter; but he urged a purer morality and a stricter observance of the
Sabbath. He had many followers, whose numbers were greatly augmented by
one Paul of Samosota, from whom they were called Paulicians.
Notwithstanding the opposition of the prelates, who invoked the secular
arm to prevent the defection of their spiritual subjects, the tenets of
this sect struck deep root in Armenia and many of the eastern provinces,
and finally the great body of Christians in the former country, withdrew
from the Episcopal communion, and publicly espoused the sentiments of
the Paulicians. These were accused of breaking loose from the
brotherhood of the Christian world, and they were denounced by the
bishops as the most odious of mankind. Whatever might have been the
denunciations of their adversaries, posterity, after a candid
examination of their tenets, must concede that they were principally
distinguished for an adherence to the strict letter of the sacred text,
and for the primitive simplicity of their forms of worship. Their
ecclesiastical institutions exhibited the most liberal principle of
reason. The austerity of the cloister was relaxed, and gradually
forgotten. The standard of piety was changed from absurd penances to
purity of life and morals. Houses of charity were endowed for the
support and education of orphans and foundlings, and the religious
teachers were obliged to depend for temporal support upon the voluntary
subscriptions of their brethren and the labour of their own hands. To
these churches, famous throughout the East no less for the purity of
their worship than their exemption from ecclesiastical tyranny, myriads
of fugitives resorted from all the provinces of the Eastern empire, and
the narrow bigotry of the emperors was punished by the emigration of
their most useful subjects, who transported into a foreign realm the
arts of both peace and war. Among the mountains of Armenia, and beyond
the precincts of the Roman power, they seemed to have found a new world,
where they might breathe the air of religious freedom. The emperors,
ignorant of the rights of conscience, and incapable of pity or esteem
for the heretics who durst dispute the infallibility of holy councils,
and refused to acquiesce in their imperial decisions, vainly sought, by
various methods, to excite against them the indignation of their
sovereign and the vengeance of persecution.

During this time the Paulicians had increased in a wonderful manner. The
desire of gaining souls for God, and subjects for the church, has, in
all ages, fired the zeal and animated the activity of the Christian
priesthood. It must not be supposed that the Paulicians were less
arduous in the prosecution of their spiritual enterprises. Assuming the
character of travelling merchants, or in the habits of pilgrims, a
character to this day sacred throughout the East, they joined the Indian
caravans, or pursued without fear the footsteps of the roving Tartar.
The hordes encamped on the verdant banks of the Selinga, or in the
valleys of the Imaus, heard, with feelings of mysterious reverence, the
story of the incarnation; and illiterate shepherds and sanguinary
warriors forsook their flocks and deserted their camps to listen to the
simple eloquence of an Armenian pilgrim. Perhaps the exposition of a
metaphysical creed was no more comprehensible to the one than were
lessons of humanity and repose to the other; but both were susceptible
of the baser passions of hope and fear, and both could understand the
effect that their rejection or adoption of the gospel would exercise,
according to the popular belief, upon their destiny in a future world.
The mysterious rites of Christianity were administered to multitudes,
among whom a great Khan and his warriors were said to be included.[1] In
other regions the Paulicians were no less successful. Unwonted crowds
resorted to the banks of Abana and Pharpar, whose limpid waters seemed
particularly appropriate for the administration of the baptismal rite.
The bishops of Syria, Pontus, and Cappadocia, complained of the
defection of their spiritual flocks. Their murmurs, a principle of
policy, above all an implacable hatred against everything bearing the
semblance of freedom, induced the Grecian emperors to commence, and
continue for nearly two centuries, the most terrible persecutions
against the Paulicians. During these frightful convulsions, Armenia was
ravaged from border to border with fire and sword; its monarchy—then
held by a younger branch of the family of the Parthian
kings—extinguished; its cities demolished, and its inhabitants either
massacred by the hands of their enemies, driven into exile, or sold into
servitude. Great numbers fled for safety and protection to the Saracens,
by whom they were hospitably entertained, and who permitted them to
build a city for their residence, which was called Tibrica. This
afforded them an opportunity for returning, with interest, the miseries
that they had suffered at the hands of the Greeks; for, entering into a
league with the Saracens, and choosing for their leader a chief named
Carbeas, they prosecuted against the Greeks a war which continued during
the century, and in which the slaughter on both sides was prodigious.[2]
During these convulsions several companies of the Paulicians passed into
Bulgaria, Thrace, and the neighbouring provinces, where their opinions
became the source of new dissensions. After the Council of Basil had
commenced its deliberations, these sectaries removed into Italy, where
they became amalgamated with the Albigenses and Waldenses.

Armenia, reduced from an independent kingdom to a ducal sovereignty,
maintained a real independence, though in nominal servitude. The Roman
emperors, in the decline of their greatness, were content with the name
of homage and the shadow of allegiance. A robe of rare texture and
curious workmanship, formed of the hair or wool by which the
mother-of-pearl, a shell-fish of the Mediterranean, attaches itself to
the rock, was their annual imperial gift that purchased the nominal
fealty of the Armenian satraps. But the Church, notwithstanding this
political vassalage, preserved its independence. The Armenian priests,
in consequence of their ignorance of the Greek tongue, were unable to
assist at the Council of Chalcedon, but the doctrines of Eutyches, to
which they still adhere, were propagated among them, perhaps, with a
slight modification, by Julian of Halicarnassus. From the earliest ages
they have devoutly hated the error and idolatry of the Greeks. Like the
primitive Christians, they have ever exhibited an unconquerable
repugnance to the use or abuse of images, which, in the eighth and ninth
centuries, spread like a leprosy through nearly all Christendom, and
supplanted all traces of genuine piety in the visible church by the
grossest superstition. They are decidedly adverse to the adoration of
relics, the worship of the Virgin, or the observation of the feasts and
festivals of the Church. They regarded the Greeks as idolaters;—the
Greeks accused them of Judaism, heresy, and atheism, and to these
accusations, with the feelings they engendered, may be ascribed the
unrelenting animosity and persecution that they waged against each
other, and which terminated only when the Grecian empire ceased to

Armenia has, in all ages, been the theatre of hostile operations. Times
without number her cities have been plundered, her harvests consumed,
and her flocks slaughtered, to gratify the cupidity or to satiate the
hunger of armies, who, in the character of allies, were marching through
her territories. The empire of the East has, in many instances, been
contested upon her fields; and, though generally in servitude, seldom
has she been permitted to enjoy the tranquillity of that state. Yet
subsequent to the firm establishment of the Saracen dominion in Asia,
they enjoyed a long period of prosperity and repose. When the Saracenic
empire became supplanted by that of the Tartars, the consequences to the
Eastern Christians were most deplorable.

These ruthless conquerors destroyed, wherever they went, the fair fruits
that had arisen from the labours of the missionaries, extirpated the
religion of Jesus from several cities and provinces where it had
flourished, and substituted the Mohammedan superstition in its place.
The Armenian churches, in particular, experienced the most deplorable
evils from the ruthless and vindictive spirit of Timur Bec, or
Tamerlane, the Tartar chief. This implacable warrior, having overrun a
great part of northern and western Asia, exerted all his influence and
authority to compel the Christians to apostatize from their faith. To
the stern dictates of unlimited power he united the compulsory violence
of persecution, and treated the disciples of Christ with the most
unrelenting severity; subjecting such as magnanimously adhered to their
religion, to the most cruel forms of death, or to the horrors of
unmitigated slavery. Under the successors of Timur they were subjected
to many vicissitudes, being alternately protected and oppressed,
according as the caprice of the reigning sovereign seemed to dictate.
Nevertheless, under the rod of oppression their zeal was intrepid and
fervent, nor could the sunshine of prosperity warm in their hearts an
undue love of the world, and render them careless or indifferent to the
interests of Christianity. In numberless instances they preferred the
crown of martyrdom to the turban of Mohammed, and have sacrificed the
dearest of temporal interests,—fame, wealth, and preferments, to a
scrupulous adherence to the Christian profession, and a strict regard
for its duties. Once only within the last thirteen centuries has Armenia
aspired to the rank of an independent kingdom, and even then her
Christian kings, who arose and fell, in the thirteenth century, on the
confines of Cilicia, were the creatures and vassals of the Turkish
sultans of Iconium. About the commencement of the seventeenth century
their state experienced a considerable change in consequence of the
incursions of Shah Abbas, the great king of Persia.

This prince, justly apprehensive from the victorious approach of the
Turks, ravaged that part of Armenia which lay contiguous to his
dominions, and ordered the inhabitants to retire into Persia. It will be
perceived that these devastations were not intended to evince hostility
against the Armenians, but to retard and embarrass the advance of the
Turks. Encouraged by the monarch, the most opulent of the Armenians
removed to Ispahan, where the Emperor appropriated a beautiful suburb
for their residence, and permitted them to enjoy every civil and
religious privilege, under the jurisdiction of their own bishop or
patriarch. During the administration of this magnanimous prince these
happy exiles partook the sweets of liberty and abundance, but his death
was the signal for the triumph of their enemies. A storm of persecution
succeeded, in which the constancy of multitudes was shaken; indeed, so
general was the apostacy, that for a time it appeared probable that this
branch of the Armenian Church would be lost. These apprehensions proved
to be groundless. To the abatement of the rage of their enemies
succeeded the restoration of their political rights. Their churches, in
Ispahan and other Persian cities, that had been demolished, were
rebuilt, and their schools, which had been shut, were re-opened. It is
said that, at present, many of the most luxurious seats in Persia are
occupied by opulent Armenians. In Bagdad and Damascus they vend the
magnificent silks of Oriental manufacture, and preside over the creation
of those exquisite fabrics that are the admiration of the world. In all
these cities they have meeting-houses, with burial-grounds attached, in
which flowers of rare beauty and exquisite odours are cultivated. In
these burial-gardens, were it not for the presence of monumental marble,
one would forget the contiguity of death and decay. The splendid palms,
the glorious rose-trees, and the living song of birds, are anything but
inspiring of melancholy thoughts.

The Bible was translated at a very early period into the Armenian
language, but, in 1690, the call for the Scriptures became so great that
the manuscript copies were not sufficient to supply the demand. To
remedy this evil, it was decided by a council of Armenian bishops,
assembled in 1692, to perpetuate and multiply that Holy Book, by the art
of printing, of which they had heard in Europe. They first applied to
France, but the Catholic church objected to printing and distributing
the Bible. It was accomplished, however, through the agency of some
Armenian merchants, who had settled, for purposes of commerce, at
London, Venice, Amsterdam, and many other European cities. This Bible
agrees in a wonderful manner with the English version of the Scriptures,
to which it is not inferior in correctness of diction and beauty of
typography. The religion of Armenia has derived few advantages from the
power or learning of its votaries, but with the Bible in their native
tongue, and being permitted to read and exercise their private judgment
in its interpretation, it is not so very surprising that their church
has remained uncontaminated by Grecian, Roman, and Mohammedan
corruptions. It must not be supposed that the Roman pontiffs, ever
zealous to enlarge the bounds of their jurisdiction, were mindless of
engaging the Christians of the East to submit to their supremacy. On the
contrary, this was for a considerable time the chief purpose that
excited their ambitious views, and employed their labours and
assiduities. But these attempts were unavailing, nor could any union
between the churches ever be effected.

The residence of the Armenian patriarch is at Ekmiasin,—three leagues
from Erivan. Forty-seven archbishops, of whom each may claim the
obedience of four or five suffragans, are consecrated by his hand. Many
of these, however, are only titular prelates, who dignify by their
presence the simplicity of his court. Their performance of the liturgy
is succeeded by their cultivation of the ground; and, unlike the
prelates of Europe, the austerity of their life and the plainness of
their appearance increases in just proportion to the elevation of their
rank. Throughout the fourscore thousand villages of his spiritual
empire, the patriarch receives the tribute of a small but voluntary tax
from each individual above the age of sixteen years. But this income is
not expended on luxurious living, being employed to supply the incessant
demands of charity and tribute. The Indian caravan, laden with its
precious commodities, usually halts in the vicinity of Erivan, which,
through the influence of the wealth thus distributed, has become a
splendid and beautiful city, adorned with fountains, groves, and
splendid churches.

Besides the churches in Armenia proper, there are congregations of the
same faith and forms of worship in Barbary, Egypt, Poland, Greece, and
Turkey. They have churches also in nearly all the Oriental cities,
between which a continual intercourse and communication is carried on by
the travelling merchants or pedlars of that sect, who are distributed
all over the East. Decidedly intelligent, and frequently adepts in
Oriental literature, they are always found at the courts of the Eastern
princes, where they act in the capacity of interpreters. Armenian ladies
are generally chosen to fill the station of favourite, or companion, to
the Sultanas.

The Armenian Christians are eminently qualified for the office of
extending the knowledge of the gospel throughout the East; and the time
is not far distant when they will prove the most efficient body of
missionaries in the world. Indeed, without the name, in a multitude of
instances, they have assumed their character and acted their part. It is
true that they are unacquainted with the European habit of supporting
expensive missions in foreign countries, but like the Waldenses, they
travel as venders of merchandise, and embrace all opportunities to
impart instruction.

They carried the knowledge of the gospel into China, when that country
was inaccessible to Europeans; and long before the English obtained a
footing in India, they had erected churches in all the principal cities
of that empire, in which the worship of God was maintained upon every
ensuing Sabbath. They are familiar with the Oriental languages, and
acquainted with the habits of the people, who consequently feel no dread
of their foreign character, but regard them from the first as brothers
and friends. The first version of the Scriptures into the Chinese
language was made by an Armenian, named Joannes Lassar, whose knowledge
of Oriental literature was really surprising, and who was no less
eminent for genuine and enlightened piety.

Their ecclesiastical establishment in Hindostan is very respectable. The
bishop visits Calcutta, but he is not resident there. They have churches
in Calcutta, in Madras, and in Bombay, which contain together about two
thousand communicants. There are also churches in the interior. Of these
they have one at Dacca, another at Syndbad, and a third at Chinsurah,
that are large and flourishing. In these churches the greatest
simplicity prevails, and everything accords with the apostolic character
of the worshippers. No magnificent altar, blazing with gold and gems, no
gorgeous candelabra, no exquisite creations of painting or statuary, no
imposing ceremonies; neither genuflexions nor lustrations; neither
instrumental harmonies, nor services performed with pompous parade and
in an unknown tongue. The cross is the only ornament of their churches,
accompanied with the Bible and the liturgy.

From these prayers and texts are read by the officiating priest,
succeeded by an appropriate discourse, and the whole closes with singing
a psalm much in the style and manner of an anthem.

Baptism, among the Armenians, is administered by immersion in rivers, or
running streams, if such are convenient; when otherwise, in a room,
called the baptistery, which is always contiguous to the church. They
regard the sacrament as a memorial of the Saviour's passion,—nothing
more,—and administer it in both kinds to the laity. They reject the
observation of saints' days, or the festivals of Christ, but declare
that God, in his word, ordained the seventh day as a day of rest, which
they religiously observe.

The Armenians are not ignorant of the nature of experimental religion.
Many individuals among them have exhibited examples of genuine and
enlightened piety, and have expired in the triumphs of faith. Their
moral character, as might be supposed, far exceeds that of any other
Eastern people. The women are modest, dignified, and observant of their
conjugal relations; the men are intelligent and affable. Their general
character is that of a wealthy, industrious, and enterprising people.
Their companionship is courted all over the East.

They occupy posts of honour and profit, they monopolize commerce, and
hold the highest rank as artisans and manufacturists. Is not the hand of
God in this thing? Are they not designed, at some future period, to work
wonders in the moral renovation of mankind? For that purpose, probably,
the everlasting arm has been beneath and around them for so many ages,
and they have been preserved from the arts and allurements of the
tempter. For that purpose, probably, they have been led into the cities
and palaces of the Eastern countries.

Where are the seven churches of Asia, to whom was penned the mystic
visions of the Apocalypse? Where are the splendid cities in which they
rose and flourished? Gone, gone, with the glory of Babylon and the
triumphs of Rome. Where is the church of Laodicea, in whose gorgeous
cathedral the lordly prelates met to give laws to the Christian world
and to anathematize Sabbath-keepers? Echo might answer, "Where?" since
it is only remembered because consecrated by the historic muse. But the
Sabbath they execrated still exists; is still honoured and hallowed by
large and flourishing churches, whose members are scattered over all
parts of Asia. Churches, who have never bowed to Baal, who have remained
uncorrupted by Rome, uncontaminated by Mohammedism; who amidst the
darkness of idolatry kept the lamp of Christianity replenished and
burning; and in whose moral firmament the rays of the Star of Bethlehem
have never been obscured. That the members of these churches possess
natural facilities for the propagation of Christianity throughout the
East, that a foreigner could scarcely acquire by long years spent in
toil and study, must be evident to every discerning mind. But they are
ignorant of the art of printing; and although three editions of their
Bible have been issued at Amsterdam, and another at Venice, the supply
has by no means equalled the demand among themselves for that holy book.
What they require are facilities for printing. A mission, with printers
and printing-presses, established in the heart of that country, would
prove of incalculable advantage;—not to teach them Christianity: they
are acquainted with its doctrines already;—but to print their Bible, and
other religious books, for distribution; to enrich their travelling
merchants, who are in continual motion from Canton to Constantinople,
with the precious wares of truth and wisdom; to inspire their zeal,
awaken their energies, and secure their engagement in the glorious
enterprise. Would it not be interesting to open a communication with
these ancient churches, whose foundation on the Rock cannot be doubted,
since they have withstood the wreck and ruin of eighteen centuries,
neither extinguished by wars and desolations, nor contaminated by the
false prophet or the beast? Would it not be delightful to hold
intercourse with that venerable patriarch,—the successor of a line of
prelates extending back to the Apostle, that Israelite indeed, in whom
was found no guile? Surely that place is hallowed. Within sight of
Ekmiasin is Mount Ararat, where the world's gray fathers came forth to
witness the bow of the covenant, and whence the Sun of Righteousness
shall yet arise to the benighted nations with healing in his wings.

The Armenians, though ignorant of the art of printing, have an abundant
store of literature. In the monastery of Ekmiasin, and in some other
places, the accumulated lore of ages has been preserved in huge piles of
manuscripts, that would abundantly reward the labours of the scholar and
the antiquarian. They are not ignorant of the belles-lettres, and they
have produced some pleasing poets and rhetoricians.[3]

There are other ancient sects in the East who are represented as being
observant of the ancient Sabbath. Of these we might instance several
branches of the Nestorian fraternities, the Hemerobaptists, or
Christians of St. John, and the Jusidians. How far this may be the case,
I have no data for determining. Some authors have also ascribed the
observation of the Sabbath to the Greek Church; but this, I believe, can
only be understood in a partial and limited sense. Many have been guilty
of the incongruity of including in the term "the Greek Church" all the
Christians of the East. Strictly speaking, that term was, and is, only
applicable to those countries in which the spiritual authority of the
Constantinopolitan prelate predominated.


The introduction, rise, progress, declension, and extirpation of
Christianity in India, is, with some partial exceptions, wrapped in
profound obscurity, yet many historians of abundant information and
unimpeachable veracity are unanimous in supposing that India received
the gospel probably before Great Britain.

Rev. C. Buchanan says, "There have lately been discovered Sanscrit
writings containing testimony of Christ. They relate to a prince who
reigned about the period of the Christian era, and whose history, though
mixed with fable, contains particulars which correspond, in a surprising
degree, with the advent, birth, miracles, death, and resurrection of our
Saviour." The same testimony is given by Sir William Jones, whose
acquaintance with Oriental literature has never been surpassed. Another
learned historian declares, "That it may be proved by the Syriac
records, that in the fourth century Christianity was flourishing in the
provinces of Chorasin and Mavaralhara; and from a variety of learned
testimony, that the gospel was introduced by the Apostle Thomas himself
into India and China, within thirty years subsequent to the ascension of
our Saviour." La Croze in the clearest manner proves the antiquity of
Christianity in those countries. In the epitome of the Syrian canons,
St. Thomas is styled the Apostle of the Hindoos. He is uniformly styled,
in the Syrian Chronicles, the first bishop of the East. Ebed Jesus says,
"India and all the regions around received the priesthood from him."
Amru, the Syriac historian, traces both Thomas and Bartholomew through
Arabia and Persia into India and China. Many of the Syrian writers
quoted by Asseman agree in stating that a few of the twelve, and many of
the seventy disciples went far and wide preaching the gospel through
Northern Asia.

The Bishop of Calcutta, Dr. Wilson, says, "That the Christians of the
Malabar Coast are the remnants of the ancient church of India, preserved
in the midst of idolatry from the days of the Apostles."

These Christian settlements are located on the Malabar coast, in the
south of India, and contain a population of probably 200,000. They are
agricultural in their mode of life, and occupy a fertile and healthy
territory. They are spread along the Cunara. In Mangalore, Onore,
Barcelore, and Carwar, they have flourishing churches. A large
settlement of these people were discovered by Dr. Buchanan in the
interior of Travancore. Their intelligence, the virtuous liberty of the
female sex, and the whole aspect of society, seemed to indicate a
Protestant country.

For the compilation of a history of this people we have scant materials.
Unknown to the world they seem to have been most happily preserved from
its troubles and dissensions. Their obscurity was the preservative of
their peace and the badge of their purity. Yet we are informed by
William of Malmsbury, that these Christians were visited, towards the
conclusion of the ninth century, by ambassadors from Alfred of England,
who paid their homage at the shrine of St. Thomas, in the vicinity of
Madras, and whose return, loaded with a cargo of pearls and the richest
gums and spices, amply rewarded the enterprising sovereign, who
entertained the noblest projects of discovery and commerce.[4] They
asserted that the pepper coast of Malabar, and even the islands of
Ceylon and Socotara, were peopled with Christians, who were in happy
ignorance of the quarrels of princes and ecclesiastics. And that the
bishops who presided over this multitude of churches were unambitious of
worldly honours, and received ordination from the patriarch of the East.
This account, however, was received as an imposition upon the credulity
of mankind, and was treated as such until the progress of modern
discovery established the fact. The Portuguese, who circumnavigated
Africa, and dared the dangers of unknown seas, in order to gather the
Indian spoils of gold and gems, found, not indeed the boundless wealth
they sought, but these companies of Christians who still preserved their
faith in its pristine purity. Superior in arts, and arms, and virtues,
to the idolaters of Hindostan, they appeared to the astonished
adventurers like another race. They occupied extremely neat and
convenient dwellings, shaded by the palm-tree, and contiguous to fields
of tropical productions. The husbandman lived in peace and plenty, the
merchant grew rich by the pepper trade, the young men were admitted to
the service and society of the nobility of Malabar; and their simple
virtues demanded and insured the respect of the king of Cochin, and the
Zamorin himself. They were in allegiance to a Gentoo sovereign, but the
real administration of their laws, even in temporal concerns, was lodged
in the hands of the bishop of Angumala, who could trace an uninterrupted
succession of prelates to the apostle himself. He still asserted his
ancient dignity as metropolitan of India, and his jurisdiction extended
over fourteen hundred churches, and embraced the spiritual care of
250,000 souls. He was assisted by a sufficient number of priests and
spiritual teachers, who administered consolation to the dying, and
reproof or correction to the living. Their meeting-houses were not
different from ordinary dwellings. They had neither pictures nor images.
The doctrine of purgatory, the invocation of saints, the merit of
relics, and the observation of the first day, was unknown among them. On
the contrary, they rested and attended to divine worship upon the
seventh day of the week, administered baptism to adults, and by
immersion, were not ignorant of the great doctrines of regeneration and
justification, and possessed authentic manuscript copies of the Holy
Scriptures, which were publicly read in the churches every ensuing
Sabbath. They were not degenerated into that softness, effeminacy, and
licentiousness of manners, which generally distinguish the natives of
Southern India. They were chaste, and observant of their conjugal
relations; adultery was a crime unknown. Their priests were permitted to
enter into wedlock once, with a pure virgin; they were scandalized and
disgraced by a second marriage, and a third could only be consummated at
the expense of excommunication.

The Portuguese were no less surprised at their profession than offended
by their simplicity; but, what appeared most unaccountable, they were
unacquainted with the spiritual and temporal majesty of Rome, and were
ignorant that, to St. Peter's successor, all the kings and prelates of
the earth owed subjection and allegiance. They adhered, like their
ancestors, to the communion of the Nestorian Patriarch; their bishops
had for ages been ordained by him at Mosul, and thence had traversed the
dangers of sea and land to their dioceses on the coast of Malabar. Their
liturgy and sacred books were in the Syriac idiom. They were acquainted
with the names of Theodore and Nestorius, were strenuous advocates of
the doctrine of the two persons of Christ, but they manifested a pious
horror, when they heard the appellation "Mother of God" applied to the
Virgin Mary. When her image was first presented to receive their
adoration, they indignantly refused, exclaiming, "We are Christians, not
idolaters; we worship God." It was the first care of the Romish
emissaries to intercept all correspondence with the Nestorian Patriarch,
to forbid their observance of the Sabbath, and to compel them to admit
the baptism of infants. Their bishops and leaders were thrown into the
dungeons of the Holy Office, which, under the auspices of Alexis de
Menezes, had been established, and was in full operation. Their towns
were filled with Portuguese soldiers, their churches with images, and
their pulpits by shaven monks. All the mighty engines of ecclesiastical
authority were brought to bear upon these defenceless people; all the
passions of the human heart were alternately assailed, in order to
consummate their conversion to the faith of Rome. Is it a wonder that
the shepherdless flock succumbed, at least, for a time? that where, for
ages, the Sabbath had been observed, strange sounds of secular
employment should be heard upon that holy day? and that the communion,
hitherto regarded as a symbolic memorial of the Saviour's passion, was
accepted as a vicarious sacrifice? "We confess our sins in prayer to
God," they exclaimed, when commanded to appear, for auricular
confession, before the priesthood. "We keep the Sabbath," they replied,
when told to observe the Dominical day. But ecclesiastical tyranny
prevailed. Menezes, archbishop of Goa, announced to the synod of
Diamper, over which he presided, that a union between the heretics of
St. Thomas and the Holy Church had been piously consummated, the
memories of Theodore and Nestorius anathematized, and the see of
Angumala bestowed upon a Jesuit, his minion and the worthy associate of
such a prelate. For sixty years servitude and hypocrisy prevailed. For
sixty years the mass was chanted on the Lord's day, and in an unknown
tongue, in the chapels of Malabar. But the day for their liberation
arrived. The Portuguese empire in the East was overthrown by the courage
and constancy of the Dutch. Of the latter, the Nestorians proved the
most valuable of allies; and no one acquainted with human nature can
wonder that they were implacable enemies of the former. The Jesuits,
though loth to resign it, were incapable of defending the power they had
abused. Forty thousand Christians in arms asserted, by the most powerful
arguments, their rights, and their attachment to the creed of their
ancestors. The Jesuits, with their minions, fled. The Indian archdeacon
was brought from a dungeon to the episcopal chair, which he filled until
a new primate could be solicited and obtained from the Nestorian
patriarch of the East.

The churches were immediately purged of images and relics. The
observation of the first day was forbidden, and that of the Sabbath
restored. And to crown the whole, a great procession was formed, in
which multitudes bearing palm-branches, and with all the ensigns of
victory and triumph, repaired to their chapels, singing the
Trisagion,[5] where the service was performed in the ancient manner.

Since the expulsion of the Jesuits the Nestorian creed has been fully
professed on the coast of Malabar, and these ancient Christians have
engaged the speculations of Europe and the civilized world. Dr. Buchanan
represents their episcopal establishment to be equally respectable with
that of the English in India, and says, moreover, that they maintain the
solemn worship of God in all their churches upon the seventh day.

Another eminent author says, that "their doctrines are those of the
Bible, and that they have been sorely tried in times past for keeping
the commandments of God."[6]


Abyssinia, or ancient Ethiopia, comprehends a vast region in the
interior parts of Africa, whose inhabitants, previous to the
acquaintance of their Queen with the Jewish king Solomon, were involved
in a dark and gloomy superstition, resembling in many respects the
idolatrous worship of the Egyptians. The connexion and intimacy that
subsequently existed between the Jewish and Ethiopian courts resulted in
the conversion of this people to Judaism, in the profession of which
they remained until the time of our Saviour. It is also evident that
considerable intercourse was carried on between Axuma, the capital of
Ethiopia, and the royal city of Judea, no less for commercial than
religious purposes. It is highly probable that business connected with
ecclesiastical affairs, or perhaps the desire of witnessing and
participating in the solemnities of Pentecost, had induced a dignitary
of the Ethiopian court to visit Jerusalem, where, coming in contact with
Philip, he was converted to Christianity, and baptized by that apostle.
The subsequent fate of this distinguished personage, the impression
produced upon the mind of his royal mistress and her court by his
conversion, or whether the propagation of Christianity throughout the
realm was effected by his instrumentality, are all mysteries over which
time has drawn an impenetrable veil.

Ecclesiastical historians are united in their testimony that, early in
the fourth century, Christianity became the established religion of the
empire. This happy result was brought about by a train of singular
circumstances. It appears that Meropius, a merchant of Tyre, having
undertaken a commercial voyage to India, was shipwrecked on the coast of
Ethiopia, when he was barbarously murdered by the natives, and his two
sons carried as slaves before the Emperor. The intelligence, gentleness,
and peaceable demeanour of the two brothers, of whom the older was named
Frumentius, gained them many friends, and they were soon promoted to
high offices at court. The brothers, being Christians, soon began to
teach the natives, and the work of conversion went on rapidly. In a few
years, so great was their success, that the gospel had been preached
throughout the length and breadth of the land, and a thriving branch
thereby united to the great Eastern church. Frumentius subsequently
visited the Patriarch of Alexandria, who received him and the message he
bore with the greatest joy, loaded him with honours, and consecrated him
the first bishop of the Ethiopians. The system of doctrine was the same
as that received in the Alexandrian Church, of which Athanasius gives a
very succinct account. This venerable prelate was a decided opposer of
the Arian heresy, and he expresses their belief in the divinity of our
Saviour; "And we assemble on Saturday," he continues; "not that we are
infected with Judaism, but to worship Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath."
The friendly relation thus early begun between these churches, has
continued to the present time through fifteen centuries; and the office
of Patriarch of the Ethiopic Church is still bestowed upon a Coptish
priest, who receives his appointment and consecration from the Patriarch
of Alexandria.

The Abyssinian Church appears to have remained in a state of general
peace and prosperity while Numidia, Carthage, and other African
provinces, were convulsed by the faction of the Donatists. Neither do
they appear to have taken any part in the tumults and dissensions
arising from the Arian and Sabellian controversies. On the contrary,
they were counted by the most rigid as a church of orthodox Christians,
until the commencement of the seventh century, when they embraced the
Eutychian sentiments, in consequence, it is said, of the exhortations
addressed to them by the doctors of that sect who resided in Egypt.[7]
About the same time, the Saracens subduing Egypt and all the adjacent
countries, Abyssinia became isolated from the rest of the world. During
the many centuries that ensued, Christianity, though not without
adulteration, was preserved in this ancient empire, and the solemn
observance of the seventh day unchangeably continued. Toward the close
of the fifteenth century, the Portuguese, through their brilliant career
of maritime discovery, succeeded in opening a communication into the
country of the Abyssinians, who were found observing the rites and
professing the doctrine of their ancient faith. Rome, inflamed with a
bigoted zeal to extend the sphere of her spiritual triumphs, early took
advantage of so favourable an opportunity to establish a mission in this
remote quarter of the globe. Accordingly, John Bermudez, one of the most
enterprising and crafty of the sons of Loyola, was despatched into
Abyssinia, and in order to give his mission a certain appearance of
dignity, he was consecrated patriarch of that people by the Pope.
According to his own accounts of the matter, he found them sunk in the
most deplorable state of heresy and ignorance, observant of Judaical
rites and ceremonies, and unacquainted with the ritual and worship of
the true church. As Bermudez was accompanied by an embassage from the
Portuguese court, who expressed the most solicitous regard for the
Abyssinian monarch, that prince, hoping to derive some signal advantage
from such powerful succours, that would enable him to terminate
successfully a war in which he was at that time engaged with a
neighbouring prince, received them most graciously, and everything
seemed for a time to presage the most happy termination of the mission.
But their sanguine expectations were doomed to disappointment, and
though they were several times reinforced, and neither pains nor expense
were spared in the prosecution of their enterprise, it became ultimately
apparent to all that the Abyssinians were not to be engaged to abandon
their ancient faith, and the Jesuits becoming weary of such fruitless
endeavours, relinquished the enterprise and returned to Europe. But the
Pope, unwilling to renounce his pretensions in that quarter of the
world, took occasion to renew the embassy about the commencement of the
seventeenth century. As before, the mission received at first the most
auspicious encouragement from Susneius, or Segued, the reigning monarch.
This prince, whose right to the throne was fiercely contested by some
powerful adversaries, gladly embraced their overtures. Alphonsa Mendez,
through the exercise of that consummate cunning for which his order is
proverbial, succeeded in securing to himself the appointment of prime
minister of the realm, and of patriarch of the Abyssinians. The monarch,
also, in an open and public manner, swore allegiance to the Pope, and
issued a decree commanding all his subjects to embrace the Romish faith
under penalty of confiscation, mutilation, and death. The execution of
this barbarous decree was committed to Mendez, the new patriarch, who
commenced his mission by the most inconsiderate acts of violence and
oppression. Displaying in all his conduct the true spirit of the Spanish
Inquisition, he employed all the arts of persuasion and reward on the
one hand, and of terror and cruelty on the other, to compel the
Abyssinians to abandon the tenets of their forefathers, and to adopt the
doctrine and worship of Rome. In this fearful alternative, multitudes of
that people, with their priests and leaders, steadfastly adhered to the
truth, with a firmness and magnanimity that would have done honour to
the primitive ages, and resolutely met death in its most frightful
forms. Popular insurrections succeeded, and force was called in to
produce submission. Multitudes were slaughtered, and many driven into
exile. At last, however, the inhuman work of persecution disgusted the
emperor; and after a great victory over twenty thousand of his
peasantry, in which eight thousand were slain, he relinquished the
bloody task, and by a proclamation, distinguished for its frankness and
simplicity, restored religious freedom to Abyssinia.

The result is gratifying as a triumph of religious liberty, and as a
check to the extension of Roman despotism and superstition. To attempt
any details of the miseries and sufferings which the Abyssinians had
endured during this persecution, would require volumes; for beside the
horrors of the Inquisition and the evils of civil war, the worst
passions and vices of mankind, as an unavoidable consequence, were
released from all restraint. Intrepid avarice took occasion to extort
and pillage from its miserable victims; revenge wreaked the hoarded
hatred of years upon its unsuspecting objects; and the assassin and the
ravisher proceeded, without fear of punishment, to the consummation of
their crimes.

Mendez had, likewise, ordered those to be re-baptized, who, in
compliance with the will of the emperor, embraced the religion of Rome,
as if they had formerly been the votaries of Paganism, and their worship
a system of idolatry. They were also compelled to renounce the
observance of the seventh day. This the Abyssinian clergy regarded as a
most shocking insult to the religious discipline of their forefathers,
and quite as provoking as the violence and barbarity exercised upon
those who refused to submit to the Romish yoke. Besides his arbitrary
and despotic proceedings in the church, Mendez excited tumults and
dissensions in the state, and with an unparalleled spirit of aggression
and arrogance, encroached upon the prerogatives of the crown, and even
attempted to give law to the emperor himself. Many circumstances,
indeed, concur to favour the opinion that he entertained the design of
subverting the liberties of the empire, and rendering it an appendage of
the Portuguese crown. At any rate, the kingdom became torn to pieces by
intestine commotions and conspiracies, and though obliged to carry on
his machinations in secret, he filled the court with cabals which lasted
until the death of the reigning monarch, in 1632. Basilides, the son and
successor of the former, deemed it expedient to free the country from
such troublesome guests, and accordingly, in 1684, he banished Mendez,
with all the Europeans belonging to his train, from the Abyssinian
territories, commanded all his subjects to return to the religion of
their ancestors, and forbid the worship of images, or the observance of
the first day. He likewise requested the Patriarch of Alexandria to send
them a new abuna, with which request that dignitary complied.[8]

The condition of the Abyssinian church at this time was most deplorable.
The reign of the Jesuits, though short, had been attended with blighting
and fatal consequences. It had been their aim to overthrow in the minds
of the people all respect for the moral law and the revealed word of
God, and to establish in its place a preposterous veneration for the
authority of the fathers, and the canons of the church. Nor was this
all; superstition had immeasurably increased, and its accompaniments,
vice and ignorance, everywhere prevailed.

But from this period the very name of Rome, its worship, or its
pontiffs, were objects of the highest aversion to the Abyssinians; and
even the frontiers of the kingdom were guarded with the strictest
vigilance and the closest attention, lest any Jesuit or Romish emissary
might steal into their territory in disguise, and excite new commotions
in the kingdom. In vain the pontiffs made many attempts to recover what
they had lost through the insolence and misconduct of the Jesuits. For
this purpose two Capuchin monks were despatched into Abyssinia; but
these unfortunate wretches only succeeded in penetrating a short
distance into the interior, when they were discovered and immediately
put to death. The pontiffs, however, were not discouraged, though they
employed more clandestine methods of reviving the missions, and even
solicited in their behalf the intercession and influence of Louis XIV.
of France. The Jesuits were eager to obtain this employment, and,
accordingly, Poncet, a French apothecary, was despatched from Cairo by
the consul Maillet, in company with Brevedent, a respectable member of
the former fraternity. Brevedent died in Abyssinia, and, soon after,
Poncet obtained an introduction to the king, who expressed his dislike
of the Catholic religion, and his determination not to permit his people
to embrace it. M. Du Roule was afterwards deputed to the same court, but
he had advanced no further than Sennaar, when he was cruelly murdered by
the natives, at the instigation, as was supposed, of the Franciscans,
who were disgusted at seeing the mission in the hands of the Jesuits. In
1709, the throne was usurped by Ousts, who appears to have been well
affected to the Romish system, and who secretly communed with its
emissaries, although he made no attempt to influence the consciences of
his subjects. His successor, David, ordered three of these strangers to
be apprehended, who, being condemned as heretics and schismatics in a
council of the clergy, were stoned to death. Since that period, Pope
Benedict XIV. made a new attempt to effect a reconciliation with the
Abyssinian church, but his efforts proved abortive; and, so far as I am
aware, neither the pontiffs nor their votaries have been able to calm
the resentment of that exasperated people, or to subdue their enmity
against the doctrine and worship of Rome.

In 1634, the Lutherans made several attempts to establish missions in
Abyssinia, in order, as they said, to bring that benighted people to the
knowledge of a purer religion, and a more rational system of worship,
although it might appear questionable to some which church of the two
most required a reformation in its rites and doctrines. In accordance
with this design, the learned Heyling of Lubec made a voyage into
Abyssinia, where he resided many years, and acquired such a
distinguished place in the confidence and esteem of the sovereign, that
he was honoured with many important offices, and finally became prime
minister of the realm. In this eminent station he acquitted himself in
the most creditable manner, and gave many proofs of his zeal both for
the interests of religion and the public good. He finally set out for
Europe on business of importance, but never arrived there; and, as the
journey was being performed by land, it is supposed that he perished in
the deserts of Nubia. Subsequently, however, a communication was kept up
between the two countries, and Ernest, duke of Saxe-Gotha, surnamed the
Pious, on account of his sanctity and virtue, made new attempts to
diffuse a knowledge of the gospel, as taught in his church, among the
Abyssinians. This design was formed through the counsels of the famous
Ludolph, and was to have been executed by the ministry of Gregory, an
Abyssinian abbot who had resided some time in Europe. This missionary
sailed from Antwerp, in the ship Katerina, in 1657, but, in passing Cape
Horn, she was unfortunately wrecked, and all on board perished. The
mission, thus frustrated, was not designed to be abandoned; for the
prince, in 1663, entrusted the same important commission to John Michael
Wansleb, a native of Erfurt, to whom he gave the wisest instructions,
and whom he charged particularly to employ all rational and consistent
means to excite in the Abyssinian nation a favourable opinion of the
Germans, as this, more than anything else, would contribute to the
success of the enterprise. But this wise and laudable undertaking failed
through the inconstancy of the worthless man to whom it was confided,
and whose virtue was by no means equal to his ability. Instead of
continuing his journey into Abyssinia, he remained for some time in
Egypt, and finally returned to Europe without ever seeing the country he
was intended to visit. But he entertained many uneasy apprehensions of
the account that would naturally be demanded of his conduct, and of the
manner in which he had expended the large sums of money designed for the
Abyssinian expedition. These apprehensions, together with the
consciousness of guilt, made him desperate. Hence, instead of returning
to Germany, he went to Rome, and, in 1667, embraced the doctrine of that
church, at least in open profession, and entered into the Dominican

Other missions have been established, or rather attempted, in this
country. In 1829, Messrs. Gobat and Kinglar were sent by the Church
Missionary Society, as missionaries to Abyssinia. After many trials,
they succeeded in reaching the place of their destination, by way of
Massowa. The ruler of Tigre, who is greatly beloved by his subjects,
received them in a friendly manner, and they were much encouraged by his
assurances of safety and protection. Mr. Hinglar died when he had just
conquered most of the difficulties of the language, but Mr. Gobat
employed his time in conversational preaching and distributing Bibles,
until, in consequence of the unsettled state of the country, he was
induced to leave for a short time. It is a fact, however, that previous
to this the Scriptures had been translated by the Abyssinians themselves
from the Arabic and Ethiopic into the Amharic language, which is the
dialect generally spoken throughout the Abyssinian empire. In 1833, Mr.
Gobat, accompanied by Mr. Isenberg, returned to his field of labour.
They took up their residence at Adowa, the capital of Tigre, six or
eight days' journey from Massowa. During Mr. Gobat's absence, the former
monarch, Sabagadis, had been dethroned, and Oobie, an avaricious and
cruel despot, reigned in his stead. It was soon perceived that he
regarded the missionaries with a jealous eye, and his suspicions were
increased by the appearance in the country soon after of many
foreigners. Mr. Isenberg was openly accused of bringing them into the
country for treasonable purposes. These accusations, and others of a
similar character, were circulated by the priests, who complained that
through the influence of the missionaries the Ethiopic church was
threatened with extinction. They also charged the missionaries with
intrigue to overthrow the government of the country, and to introduce
English troops. Oobie was no less suspicious of the political designs of
the foreigners, and it was not long before an edict came to Mr.
Isenberg, from the king, in which all foreigners were commanded to
embrace the Abyssinian creed or to leave the country. Preferring the
latter alternative, Mr. Isenberg and his associate, Mr. Blumhardt,
retired into Egypt. Mr. Krapf, a former companion of Blumhardt, removed
to Shoa, where he was favourably received and hospitably entertained for
a time. Ultimately, however, it appeared that the king wished to be
benefited by the superior knowledge of the missionaries in everything
but what pertained to the duties of religion. He said that he wanted
workmen, not priests. After Mr. Krapf had acquired the language, he
established schools, which succeeded well for a time, or until the
pupils, from their superior knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, began to
question the traditions in which they had been brought up. Here the
priesthood interfered, and through their machinations the monarch was
induced to express his decided disapprobation of the proceedings, and
the schools were, at his command, suppressed. Under these
discouragements, the missionaries, after distributing ten thousand
copies of the Bible, returned to Europe.

The empire of Abyssinia has been frequently disturbed by civil wars; and
the appointment of a new abuna, or metropolitan, is often attended by
intestine commotions. This was the case in 1715, when that dignitary, in
a convocation of the clergy, declared his opinion of the
consubstantiality of Christ, which was different from that which had
been proclaimed at the gate of the palace. The abuna represented Christ
as being "one God, of the Father alone, with a body consubstantial with
ours, and by that union becoming the Messiah." The emperor maintained,
on the contrary, that the Redeemer was perfect man and perfect God by
the union; one Christ, whose body was composed of a precious substance,
called _bahery_, not derived from his mother, or consubstantial with
ours. Many of the ecclesiastics favoured the opinion of the abuna; and,
elate with their supposed triumph, they gathered the populace,
surrounded the palace, and insulted the emperor with shouts and songs.
The enraged potentate gave immediate orders for their dispersion and
punishment. The mandate was executed by a company of pagan soldiers, who
slew about one hundred of the delinquents, and filled the streets of the
capital with slaughter. The Christian population of Shoa and Efat is
estimated at 1,000,000 souls, and that of the Pagan and Mohammedan
population of the numerous dependencies at an equal number. But this
people is chiefly interesting to us from the fact that here, for so many
ages, a national religious establishment has existed, which never
succumbed to the authority of Rome, and, consequently, which has ever
been in the observation of the holy Sabbath day.

The Ethiopic church maintains the Eutychian doctrine respecting the
nature of Christ; and it agrees with the other Eastern churches in
holding the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father only. In these
respects it differs from the Western churches. From the Romish church it
is distinguished by its doctrine regarding the supremacy of the Pope, in
which it agrees with Protestants; to the rule of faith, which it limits
to the Scriptures, including the Apocrypha; to the eucharist, which it
administers in both kinds to the laity, and regards neither as a
transubstantiation nor as a sacrifice; to the celibacy of the clergy,
who may be married; to the adoration of images, which it regards as
unlawful; to the state of the soul after death, rejecting purgatory; and
as regards several other less important and minor points. But, like
Rome, it invokes saints and angels as intercessors with God, paying
great honours to the Virgin and St. Michael, and having a copious
calendar of saints, with a corresponding number of fasts and

Their most extraordinary peculiarities are certain forms and ceremonies
retained from their ancient Jewish worship. Their churches, which are
generally small and mean, resemble precisely the Jewish temple. Like it,
they are divided into three parts; the innermost being the holy of
holies, and inaccessible to the laity, who, except on certain occasions,
are forbidden to pass the outer porch. Unbelievers, and all subject to
Levitical uncleanness, are carefully excluded. All who enter must be
barefoot, and the doorposts and threshold must be kissed in passing. The
service is performed in the ancient Ethiopic, or Geez, now a dead
language. It commences with the Jewish Trisagion, and as David danced
before the ark, so their priests caper and beat the ground with their
feet, and, with other similar antics and performances, complete a
remarkable form of devotion. They observe the Levitical prohibitions of
unclean animals, and the Pharisaical ceremonies of genuflexions and
ablutions. Like the Jews, they practise concubinage. Fasts of unexampled
strictness and extraordinary frequency are constantly observed. With
scriptural examples before them, and unenlightened by science and
philosophy, it is perhaps not surprising that they should believe in
witchcraft, magic, and sorcery.

The whole country is overspread to excess with churches, and the number
of the professedly religious in Shoa amounts to one-fourth of the
population. The aboon, or abuna, is the ecclesiastical head, and the
church confines to his hands alone the grace or virtue that makes a
clergyman, differing in this from other churches called apostolic, which
allow it to all bishops.

The Grand Prior of the monks of Debra Libanos is second in dignity; then
the bishops; next the priests and deacons. Monasteries abound, and they
are generally placed on eminences near running water, and amid scenes of
beauty and sublimity. An easy ceremony admits to the monkish order, and
the life of the professed is one of ease and indulgence, consequently
the land swarms with monks, who are in reality the greatest of pests and
plagues. Every church establishment is supported by certain lands and
villages particularly set apart for that purpose, and to these are added
various fees for baptismal, funeral, and other clerical services,
besides the voluntary contributions of the superstitious people. These
ecclesiastics, taken as a body, are ignorant, superstitious, and
immoral, fearful of innovation, hating heretics, and observant of
religious forms, some with the sincerity of devotees, and others as the
business-like followers of a gainful profession. Of the doctrines of
justification by faith or regeneration by the Holy Spirit, the
Abyssinians are said to be entirely ignorant; but it is possible, it is
even probable, that there has been some misapprehension upon that point.
It is very easy for foreigners, in a state of society so new and
strange, to misapprehend the purport of what they behold, or to arrive
at wrong conclusions, from given premises, in consequence of prejudice
and partiality. We trust that the Divine Inhabitant has not entirely
forsaken this polluted temple, and that the sacred fire is not utterly
extinguished, although the surrounding atmosphere may be impure. At any
rate, there is hope, since the Scriptures are the foundation of the
faith of the Abyssinian Church, and there is no infallible pontiff,
consecrating with his authority the manifold corruptions from which that
authority sprung, and by which it is perpetuated.

It is scarcely necessary to repeat what all authors acquainted with the
subject have been unanimous in affirming, namely, that the Abyssinian
Church observes the seventh-day Sabbath. Sandius says, "There is a
Christian empire of the Abyssinians, who adhere to Peter and Paul, and
observe the seventh day." The Jesuits affirmed "that they kept as sacred
the Jewish Sabbath." Mr. Brerewood, who wrote in 1614, declares that the
midland Ethiopians, the modern Abyssinians, reverenced the Sabbath,
keeping it solemn equal with the Lord's day.[10] James Bruce, a
Scotsman, who visited Abyssinia in 1768, testifies to their observance
of the seventh day; and these accounts have been substantiated by the
witness of modern travellers. The numerous dependencies of the
Abyssinian empire, as well as some of the neighbouring independent
kingdoms, contain Christian communities, of which some much nearer than
others approximate in their rites and ceremonies to the simplicity of
the apostolic age. Many of these have for a long period of years,
successfully held their position among mountain fastnesses in the very
midst of a Pagan and Mohammedan population. One of the most remarkable
of these seats is upon an island of the Lake Zovai, where, in the Church
of Emanuel, are deposited the silver dishes and other sacred utensils,
with numerous manuscripts, which Nebla Dengel wished particularly to
preserve from the grasp of an invading army. The islands of this lake
contain upwards of three thousand Christian houses formed of lime and
stone. They are shaded by lofty trees, and the whole has a luxuriant and
beautiful appearance. In Guragee, a dependency of Abyssinia, the
population are exclusively Christian. Twelve isolated churches
previously unheard of were discovered a few years since in a province
called Yoya. Between Garro and Metcha there is a small tract peopled by
Christians, who reside entirely in mountain caves, as a measure of
security against the heathens by whom they are surrounded. Eight days'
journey hence is Cambat, an independent Christian state, completely
studded with churches and monasteries. Wollamo, another Christian
province under an independent sovereign, lies below Cambat, and also
contains many religious houses. Skorchassie, another neighbouring state,
is peopled by Christians, and so is Sidama, and both are entirely
surrounded by Pagans. Susa is another important Christian country, whose
king, in 1842, was said to be a very wise and just ruler. The government
is liberal, and the people are, comparatively with the other African
nations, in a high state of civilization. The priests are distinguished
by antique robes and silver mitres, and the churches and religious
observances resemble those of Shoa, except as regards the saints' days,
most of which are unknown in Susa. In this country all labour is
interdicted upon the Sabbath, but the observation of any Lord's day is

That the religion of Ethiopia should have become corrupt is not in the
least surprising, although we can only refer it to the superintending
providence of God that, amid the wreck of ages and the changes and
revolutions of time, it has survived at all. The wonder is, that,
surrounded as they are by Pagan and Moslem, together with the corrupt
propensities of the human heart, the very name and profession of
Christianity has not been long since obliterated from their minds, the
Sabbath forgotten, and the name of the Great Mediator supplanted by that
of the false prophet.

Abyssinia, notwithstanding her corruptions, is immeasurably above all
other African nations in the scale of civilization. This is plainly
enough proved by the following extract from the Narrative of the Travels
of Charles Johnston, through the country of Adel to the kingdom of Shoa,
in 1842-43:

"Arrived upon the summit, the stranger finds an extensive table-land
spread out before him, and he cannot divest himself of the idea that he
has reached some new continent. A Scotch climate and Scotch vegetation,
wheat, barley, linseed,—and yet in intertropical Africa. The country
seems highly cultivated, wheat and barley on all sides growing close to
our path, while near the farmhouses were stacks of grain, which gave the
whole country an English appearance.

"Amidst the luxuries and conveniences so abundantly supplied to the
embassy by the indulgent care of a liberal government, I almost fancied
that I had returned to the comforts of European life."

Mr. Johnston says that he was furnished with excellent wheaten bread,
and butter quite as good as any he had ever eaten, with fish, flesh,
fowl, wine, honey, and a kind of native beer, resembling English ale. He
speaks of the king as being beloved by his people, remarkably just in
all his transactions, moderate in his anger, and benevolent to his
visiters. He himself declared that he had "the fear of God before his

The Holy Scriptures have been preserved in Abyssinia, on parchment
manuscript, and in the Geez language; but, in 1826, they were translated
by the Ethiopians themselves into Amharic, the spoken dialect of the
country. These books, our traveller declares, agree perfectly with the
Vulgate, except the book of the Maccabees, in which he discovered some
discrepancies. They also possess a commentary on each of the sacred
books, and, besides the five books of Moses, possess a sixth, which they
equally revere. The names of the books agree with ours, and appear to be
Ethiopic translations of Genesis, Exodus, &c. They also possess the book
of Enoch, which, however, according to Mr. Bruce, is the production of a
Gnostic philosopher. They have a liturgy in Ethiopic. It is said that
all the literature of the country is embraced in 120 volumes.

But we trust that great and good things are in store for this ancient
people, who, though severely tried and tempted, have persisted in
keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus; who, though
stumbling, have not wandered altogether out of the way; and who have
within themselves all the elements for moral renovation,—the Holy
Scriptures, the Sabbath, and the knowledge of the Redeemer of

Abyssinia, as an empire, has experienced alternately the contraction and
expansion common to the ancient monarchies. The Negus, as friend and
ally of Justinian, reigned supreme over seven kingdoms, prosecuted an
extensive trade with Ceylon and the Indies, and encouraged in his
country the arts and letters of Europe. Arabia, surnamed "the blest,"
and, by contrast with the neighbouring regions, considered as "happy,"
had been despoiled of her rich treasures, and led in captivity, to
gratify the avarice or ambition of an Ethiopian conqueror, whose
hereditary claim, founded on his descent from the beauteous Queen of
Sheba, was warmed and animated by religious zeal. The inhabitants of
Arabia were denominated Homerites. Their prince, Duncan, was not
insensible to the inflictions, nor inflexible to the entreaties, of the
Jews, who, powerful even in exile, persuaded him to retaliate upon the
Christians in his dominions the persecution that their people suffered
from the imperial laws. Accordingly some Roman merchants were
ignominiously put to death, and the crown of martyrdom bestowed upon
many Christians of Yemen, who refused to apostatize from their faith.
The expiring churches of Arabia invoked the name of the Abyssinian
monarch, who arose like a lion out of his place, passed the Red Sea with
a fleet and army, dethroned the Jewish proselyte, and extinguished a
royal race who, for many centuries, had exercised sovereignty over the
sequestered region of precious gums and aromatic groves. The cities of
Arabia immediately resounded with the Trisagion, chanted, with rapturous
demonstrations of joy, by the conquering army. The Negus himself
despatched a messenger to the Alexandrian prelate, announcing the
victory of the gospel, and soliciting of that dignitary an orthodox
ruler for the Arabian churches. To Justinian, this announcement
occasioned much secret gratulation, though it may be questioned by
posterity whether he exulted most in the triumph of orthodoxy, or the
flattering prospects he thereby entertained of gratifying his ambition,
securing a fortunate ally, and reaping the advantages of a lucrative
commercial intercourse. He was desirous to divert the trade of the
precious commodities of the East,—silk, balm, and frankincense,—no less
than to engage the forces of Arabia and Africa against the Persian king.
Accordingly, an embassage, under the direction of Nonnosus, was
despatched into Abyssinia, to execute, in the name of the Emperor, this
important commission. Declining the shorter but more dangerous route
through the desert regions of Nubia, he ascended the Nile, embarked on
the Red Sea, and safely landed at the port of Adulis.[12] From this port
to the royal city of Axuma is no more than fifty leagues, in a direct
line; but the winding passes of the mountains detained the embassage
fifteen days, during which journey they were astonished by the droves of
wild elephants that roamed the forests. He found the capital large and
populous, the people Christian in profession, and strictly observant of
the Jewish Sabbath. He found also many traces of Grecian art.[13] The
Negus received the ambassador with the splendid hospitality suitable to
a potent monarch, and due to the representative of an imperial friend.
Amidst a numerous and august assemblage of the ladies of the court, the
dignitaries of the church, and the princes of the empire, the Negus gave
audience in a spacious plain. Dismounting from his lofty chariot, to
which was harnessed four white elephants, superbly caparisoned, he
appeared, clad in a linen garment, with a golden tiara on his head;
while around his neck, arms, and ankles, blazed the regal circlets of
diamonds, pearls, and precious stones, interwoven with chains of gold.
He carried two javelins of rarest temper, and wore a light shield of
exquisite workmanship. The ambassador of Justinian approached with awe,
and knelt with becoming deference. He was raised and embraced by the
Negus, who received the imperial missive of which he was the bearer,
kissed the seal, perused the contents with apparent satisfaction,
accepted the imperial alliance, and, brandishing his weapons, denounced
a perpetual anathema against the enemies of his new friend and ally. But
the proposal for trade was artfully eluded, and the hostile
demonstration was not productive of a corresponding effect. The
Abyssinians were unwilling to abandon the pleasures and luxuries of
peace, with the sensual delights of their aromatic bowers, for the toils
of ambition and the benefit of a foreign potentate. Discretion is
certainly the better part of valour, and it was proved in the sequel
that the Negus, instead of extending his triumphs, was incapable of
preserving what he had already obtained. The sceptre of Arabia was
wrenched from his hands by Abrahah, the slave of a Roman merchant of
Adulis. The Ethiopian legions were seduced and enervated by the
luxurious influences of the climate. Justinian solicited the friendship
of the usurper, who returned his complaisancy with a slight tribute and
the acknowledgment of his nominal supremacy. After a long course of
prosperity, the dynasty of Abrahah was overthrown, his descendants
despoiled of their rich possessions by the Persian conqueror, and every
vestige of Christianity obliterated. This short episode of Abyssinian
history must be interesting to us, from the fact that, could a Christian
empire have been sustained in Arabia, it might have prevented the rise
of the Mohammedan imposture, and have materially changed the history of
the world.[14]

[1] According to Assemanni, Christianity was once professed by the horde
of Koraites; and their chief, who received ordination, which probably
gave rise to the legend of Presbyter, or Prester, John.

[2] Some modern theorists have severely reprehended the Paulicians, or
Armenians, for the part they bore in these sanguinary scenes. But so
long as the principle of patriotism is cherished; so long as the names
of home and country are accounted sacred; and so long as the memories of
Tell, and Wallace, and Washington, are held up to general emulation, the
laity, at least, may be excused for recognising the legitimacy of

[3] Those who desire a more detailed account of the Armenians may
consult La Croza, Galanus, Olearius, Chardin, Fabricius, in Lux
Evangelii, and, above all, Tavernier.

[4] I am aware that the truth of this statement has been questioned, but
after all there is nothing so very improbable in it. Alfred was a prince
of an enterprising disposition, and might have sent an embassy to India
for several reasons, and their performance of the journey was no

[5] The Trisagion is the hymn supposed to be chanted by the Cherubim
before the throne of glory, and commences with Holy, Holy, Holy, is the
Lord God Almighty.

[6] Authors are far from being unanimous in their accounts of this
people and their origin. It has been maintained by not a few that they
are of Syriac extraction, and that the St. Thomas, from whom their
appellation is derived, was an Armenian merchant and missionary who
flourished as their leader in the fifth century. Others, with equal
plausibility, contend that they originated from a colony of Abyssinians.
Dr. Buchanan maintains an opinion different from either. He supposes
them to be natives of India, whose ancestors were converted by
St. Thomas, the Apostle. He says, that "we have as good reason for
believing that St. Thomas died in India, as that St. Peter died at

According to a tradition of the natives, the Apostle came first to
Socotara, an island in the Arabian Sea, and thence departed to
Cranganor, where he founded several churches. The next scene of his
labours was Coromandare, and preaching in all the towns and villages he
came to Melsapour, the chief city, where he converted the prince and a
great part of the nobility to the Christian faith. This so enraged the
Brahmins, that one of them secretly followed him into a solitary place,
where he retired for prayer, and stabbed him in the back with a spear.

[7] According to another account, their conversion to this creed was
effected by the missionaries of the Empress Theodora, which, however,
has been disputed by Assemanus.

[8] Gibbon says that "two abunas had been slain in battle."

[9] It has been supposed, and with reason, that many of these customs
were introduced by the Jesuits, and that previous to the partial
subjection of this church to the Romish authority, it was much more pure
than it has since been.

[10] The observation of Sunday was brought in by the Jesuits, who found
it easier to induce them to observe both days than to consent to a
substitution of the first for the seventh day.

[11] The Abyssinians still retain the physiognomy and olive complexion
of the Arabs, and afford an incontestable evidence that three thousand
years can neither change the colour nor the intellectual capabilities of
the human species. Under the burning sun of Africa, the Abyssinian, a
branch of the great Caucasian family, has preserved the name and
semblance of Christianity and civilization through the wreck and
revolutions of ages, and amid the tempests of foreign and domestic
dominations. Conscious of his ignorance, he once sought the fraternity
of Europe for the sake of her letters and her arts. But how is it with
the Nubian, whose unequivocal African descent is betrayed by his stupid
features, black colour, and woolly hair, yet who enjoyed equal or
superior advantages in ancient times? The history of his race would
attest to the truth in this case. He has relapsed into that barbarism
which seems to be his native element, and from which he appears
incapable of preserving himself. The only memorials of his Christianity
are a few words, of which he is incapable of understanding the sense;
the only traces of his civilization a few heaps of sculptured ruins.

[12] The negotiations of Justinian with the Abyssinians are mentioned by
Procopius, John Malala, and others. The original narrative of the
ambassador Nonnosus is quoted by the Historian of Antioch, and Photius
has given a curious extract. Justinian reigned over the Greek empire
from 527 to 565.

[13] The present village of Anuma is conspicuous by the ruins of a
splendid Christian temple, and seventeen obelisks, of Grecian
architecture. According to Alvarez, it was in a flourishing state in
1520, but was ruined the same year by the Turkish invasion.

[14] Those who desire to form an acquaintance with Abyssinian history
may consult Procopius, Baronius, Cosmos, Indicopleustus, Alvarez, Lobo,
and Bruce. In these works, the subject is very amply and ably treated.



It is not my design to give even an abridged account of ecclesiastical
affairs as connected with this people during the many centuries of their
existence, but confine myself to a consideration of the origin of their
distinguishing appellation, with an account of their doctrinal
sentiments and religious practices, and their terrible persecutions and

It is evident that the Latin word vallis has been the parent of the
English word valley, the French and Spanish valle, the Provençal vaux,
vaudois, the Italian valdesi, the low Dutch valleye, and the
ecclesiastical Valdensis, Valdenses, and Waldenses. The designation of
the word is valleys—inhabitants of valleys—neither more nor less. There
being no _w_ in the Latin language, the terms Vallenses and Valdenses
were employed long before the more modern one of Waldenses came into

It appears that from the earliest ages, the inhabitants of the valleys
about the Pyrenees did not profess the Catholic faith; neither was it
embraced by the inhabitants of the valleys of the Alps; it occurred,
also, that one Valdo, in the ninth century, a friend and adviser of
Berengarius, and a man of wealth, talents, and piety, who had many
followers, possessed himself of a Bible, by which he was led to perceive
the errors and corruptions of Rome, which he severely denounced;
moreover, it came to pass that about one hundred and thirty years after,
a rich merchant of Lyons, whose name was Waldo, openly withdrew from the
communion of Rome, and supported many to travel and teach the doctrines
believed in the valleys. All these people, though different in their
origin, and different no doubt in some minor points of faith and
practices of worship, were called Waldenses as a general term. They had
also other appellations imposed upon them, which, however, were mostly
local, and which I shall subsequently take into consideration. This
accounts in a satisfactory manner for the diversity of the statements
concerning them. In Languedoc these heresies were supposed to be of
recent origin, and to have originated from Waldo, whose immediate
followers were called Waldenses. This, however, was merely the
renovation of the name from a particular cause, and not its original;
for we find that, in other districts, other branches of this same
original sect are called by other appellations, significative of some
distinguished leader. Thus, in Dauphiny, they were called Josephists,
and, in other places, Petrobrusians, from Peter De Bruys. Sometimes they
received their names from their manners, as Catharists (Puritans), Bonne
Homines (good men); at others, from the peculiarities of their religious
ordinances, as insabbathists (sabbath-keepers), and Sabbatharians,
because they contended for the observance of the original sabbath, and
denied the real presence of Christ in the eucharist.[15] By some they
were denominated Bulgarians, and by others Paulicians, and, by a
corruption of that word, Publicans, because it appears that a multitude
of that ancient sect had emigrated hither, and amalgamated with
them.[16] Sometimes they were named from the city or country in which
they prevailed, as Toulousians, Lombardists, and Albigenses.
Nevertheless all these branches were distinguished as keeping the
commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

In more recent times they were particularly distinguished in France by
the name of Albigenses, from the great numbers of them that inhabited
the city of Alby, in the district of Albigeons, between the Garonne, and
the Rhone. After the Council of Alby, which condemned them as heretics,
that name became general and confirmed. In the records of this Council
the following passage occurs: "They savour of Judaism, they practise
circumcision,[17] they observe the Jewish sabbath, but say the holy
Dominical day is no better than other days; let them be accursed."

Very laboured disquisitions have been written, and great pains taken, by
a certain class of writers, to prove that the Albigenses and Waldenses
were very different classes of Christians, and that they held different
opinions and religious principles. How far this distinction extended it
is impossible at present to ascertain; but when the popes issued their
fulminations against the Albigenses, they expressly condemned them as
Waldenses; by the legates of the Holy See they were accused of
professing the faith of the Waldenses, the inquisitors formed their
processes of indictments against them as Waldenses; the leaders of the
crusades made war upon them as Waldenses; they were persecuted on all
sides as such; nor did they attempt to rebut the charges made against
them, but readily adopted the title thus imposed upon them, which they
considered it an honour to bear.

The Pasaginians, or Passignes, were another branch of this same sect,
who derived their appellation from the country of Passau, where it is
computed that eighty or one hundred thousand of them resided. That these
were all one people is evident from the fact that the provincial
councils of Toulouse in 1119, and of Lombez in 1176, and the general
councils of Lateran, in 1139 and 1176, do not particularize them as
Pasaginians, or Albigenses, but as heretics, which shows that they
existed and were generally known before these names were imposed upon

Their enemies confirm their identity as well as their great antiquity.
Father Gretzer, a Jesuit, who had examined the subject fully, and who
had every opportunity of knowing, admits the great antiquity of the
heretics, and, moreover, expresses his firm belief that the Toulousians,
Albigenses, Pasaginians, Arnoldists, Josephists, and the other heretical
factions, who, at that time, were engaging the attention of the popes,
were no other than Waldenses. This opinion he corroborates by showing
wherein they resembled each other. Among other points he mentions the
following: "Moreover, all these heretics despise the fasts and feasts of
the church, such as Candlemas, Easter, the Dominical day; in short, all
approved ecclesiastical customs for which they do not find a warrant in
the Scripture. They say, also, that God enjoined rest and holy
meditation upon the seventh day, and that they cannot feel justified in
the observance of any other."

In the decree of Pope Lucius III., dated 1181, we find the Catharists,
Paterines, Josephists, Arnoldists, Passignes, and those calling
themselves the "Poor of Lyons," all considered as one, and laid under a
perpetual anathema.

It is evident from all these testimonies that the Waldenses, as they
penetrated into different countries, became distinguished by a great
variety of appellations, which they derived from the countries they
inhabited, or from the men who became their leaders at particular
periods. Thus in Albi, Toulouse, Provence, Languedoc, and the
neighbouring countries in France, they were called Albigenses; Vaudois,
Vallenses, and Waldenses in Savoy; Pasaginians in Passau, and the
adjacent regions, with other names and titles too numerous to mention

Nevertheless it appears that some distinction existed between these
different parties. The old Waldenses were not seceders from the Church
of Rome; for neither themselves nor their ancestors had ever embraced
its faith. Claudius Seyssel, a popish archbishop, declares that the
Waldensian heresy originated from one Leo, who, in the days of
Constantine the Great, led a party of heretics from Rome into the
valleys. Pope Gregory VII. observes that it is well known that in the
days of Constantine the Great, some assemblies of Jewish Christians
being persecuted at Rome, because they persisted in obedience to the law
of Moses, wandered off into the valleys, where their descendants remain
unto this day. Reiner Sacco declares that, in the opinion of many
authors of note, their antiquity could be traced to the apostolic age.
He also observes that never, within the memory of man, have they
acknowledged allegiance to the papal see. But that there were seceding
parties, who, at different times and under particular leaders, withdrew
from the communion of that church, and became amalgamated with the old
Waldenses, we have every reason to believe. That these latter, though
disposed to condemn many of the grosser superstitions of that church,
such as the worship of images, transubstantiation, the sacrament of the
mass, etc., might still hesitate about rejecting all her man-made
ordinances, is highly probable. Indeed, this very thing is mentioned by
a very ancient writer, quoted by Perrin, as producing divisions among

At the head of one of these parties was Claude, Bishop of Turin, who
flourished in the commencement of the seventh century. It does not
appear that this bold reformer ever separated wholly from the Church of
Rome, but he denounced many of her corruptions and abominations in no
measured terms, and had many followers. From the death of this eminent
man until the time of Peter Waldo, of Lyons, the history of this people
is involved in much obscurity. If they possessed any writers among
themselves capable of giving their transactions to posterity, or if any
records of their ecclesiastical affairs were committed to writing, the
barbarous zeal of their opponents has prevented their transmission to
our times. To the accounts of their adversaries, therefore, we must look
for proofs of their existence, and here they are abundant. They are,
also, uniformly represented as separated in faith and practice from the
Catholic Church, and as continually multiplying in number; but further
than this we have of them very imperfect statements.

During all this period the popes appear to have been too intent upon
their own pleasures, and too much engaged by their own quarrels, to
interfere with the despised Waldenses, and it was not until the twelfth
century, that these people appear in history as obnoxious to the court
of Rome. About this time one Peter Waldo, an opulent merchant of Lyons,
in France, made an attack upon the superstitions of the Romish church,
particularly the monstrous doctrine of transubstantiation. He commenced
by causing a translation of the four gospels to be made into French,
which he circulated extensively among his countrymen, particularly those
of the poorer class. He soon became a preacher, gathered a large church
in his native city, from which, a few years after, himself and his
adherents were driven by the anathemas of the Pope. Waldo, with his
numerous followers, retired into Dauphiny, where his preaching was
attended with abundant success. His principles were embraced by
multitudes, who were denominated Leonists, Vaudois, Waldenses, etc.; for
the very same class of Christians were designated by all these different
appellations at different times, and according to the different
countries in which they appeared.

Driven from Dauphiny, Waldo sought refuge in Picardy, where, also, his
labours were abundantly blessed. Persecuted thence, he fled into
Germany, and carried with him the glad tidings of salvation. From
Germany he removed to Bohemia, where he finally finished his course in
the year 1179, and the twentieth of his ministry. The amazing success
which had crowned the efforts of this holy man, aroused the pontiff and
his legates to the most vindictive and sanguinary measures. Terrible
persecutions ensued; the bishops of Mentz and Strasburg breathed nothing
but vengeance and slaughter against them. Thirty-five citizens of Mentz
were burned in one fire at the city of Bingen, and eighteen in Mentz
itself. In Strasburg eighty were committed to the flames. In other
places multitudes died praising God, and in the blessed hope of a
glorious resurrection.


In giving an account of the doctrinal sentiments and religious practices
of this people, we must principally depend upon the testimonies of their
adversaries of the Romish church, and their own apologies, reasonings,
and confessions, some of which have been handed down to us through the
records of the Inquisition,[18] and by the historians of that period. Of
these, Reineirus Saccho is the most celebrated. He had been for
seventeen years, in the earlier part of his life, in connexion with the
Waldenses, but apostatized from their profession, and joined the
Catholic church, in which he was raised to the eminence of chief
Inquisitor, and became the bitterest persecutor of his former friends.
He was deputed by the pope to reside in Lombardy, at that time the
headquarters of the Pasaginians, and about 1250, published a book, in
which the errors of the Waldenses were all summed up under
three-and-thirty distinct heads.[19]

To attempt any exposition of all these points would far exceed my
limits, I shall therefore confine myself to what he says in reference to
that particular doctrine by which they were allied to us. "They hold,"
says he, "that none of the ordinances of the church, which have been
introduced since Christ's Ascension,[20] ought to be observed, as being
of no value."

"The feasts,[21] fasts, orders, blessings, offices of the church, and
the like, they utterly reject."

In the sketch which Reineirus furnishes of the doctrines of the
Waldenses, there is not the slightest allusion to any erroneous opinions
regarding the doctrines and principles of the gospel; and this silence
on his part is a noble testimony to the soundness of their creed. He had
himself been among them, was a man of talents and learning, and
intimately acquainted with all their doctrinal sentiments; and, having
apostatized from their faith, and become their bitterest enemy and
persecutor, no one will suppose that he wanted the inclination to bring
against them any accusation, which bore the least similitude to the
truth. The errors of which he accuses them, are such as no Seventh-day
Baptist of the present day would shrink from the charge of holding,
since they all, in one way or other, resolve themselves into the
unfounded claims of the ecclesiastical order, or the substitution for
doctrines of the commandments of men.

In the twelfth century, a colony of the persecuted Waldenses obtained
permission to settle at Saltz, on the river Eger.[22] They are
represented as working upon, and despising, the holydays of the
church.[23] Another eminent Bohemian author, in giving an account of the
Waldenses of that country, observes, "Moreover they say that of six
days, one day is as good as another, but as God had enjoined rest upon
the seventh, mankind were bound to its observance."[24]

An inquisitor of the Church of Rome, who declares that he had exact
knowledge of the Waldenses, at whose trials he had assisted many times,
and in different countries, expressly says "that they contemn all
ecclesiastical customs which they do not read of in the Gospel; such as
the observation of Candlemas, Palm Sunday, the adoration of the cross on
Good Friday, and the reconciliation of penitents. They despise the feast
of Easter, and all the festivals of Christ and the saints,[25] and say
that one day is as good as another, working on holydays when they can do
so without being taken notice of."

The same testimony is borne of them by Eneas Sylvius, who ascended the
pontifical chair with the title of Pope Pius II. Indeed, of all the
multitude of Catholic authors of eminence, who have mentioned this
people, every one bears testimony to this peculiarity in their doctrinal
sentiments and religious practices. At a later period, and among more
modern writers, we have every reason to believe that this feature of
their faith has been purposely disguised. Nevertheless the candour of
some has led them to make very important concessions upon this point.
Mosheim expressly declares that the Pasaginians observed the Jewish
Sabbath. Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux, says, "I conceive that the old
Waldenses, who rejected all the festivals of the church, and went back
to the original Sabbath, were much more consistent with themselves, than
these gentlemen, the modern Protestants, who, though they discard all
the others, still retain the Dominical day."

But, lest I weary my readers by a multiplication of testimonies, I shall
add but one more quotation, which contains a concession that, coming
from the quarter and at the time it does, I consider important. Mr.
Benedict, in his History of the Baptists, says, that during the progress
of his historical inquiries, he has met with many facts, where it seemed
as if the heretics, so called, were unsound on the doctrine of the
Sabbath, as established by law; but, he goes on, it is not certain that
all whom the ancient inquisitors accused of being Sabbath-breakers,
would come under the head of Sabbatarians.[26]

It appears to me morally certain that the Seventh-day Baptists may trace
through the Waldenses, at least that portion of them who were never
united to the Church of Rome, an uninterrupted succession to the
apostolic age. Indeed, of all the multitude of writers who have treated
of this people, all, without exception, are unanimous in declaring that
they rejected all the feasts and festivals of the church, as well as
infant baptism, and would not observe any ordinance which they did not
read of in Scripture. Others, especially the ancient Catholics, accuse
them of Judaism, because, according to their testimony, they kept the
Jewish Sabbath. The Council of Lombez derided the Good Men of Lyons as
Sabbatharians. They were condemned by the Lateran Council of 1139 for
refusing to observe the festivals of the church,[27] and the same
accusation was brought against them in canons, synods, chronicles,
conferences, decrees, sermons, homilies, bulls, confessions, creeds,
liturgies, &c. It is hardly possible that all this concurrent testimony,
published at different times and in different countries, could have been
fabricated. It is barely possible that such men as Evervinus, of
Steinfield; Peter, Abbot of Clugny; Ecbertus Schonangiensis, a very
celebrated author in his day; Ermengendus, a ruler both spiritual and
temporal; Alexander III., in council; Alanus Magnus; Izam, the
troubadour, and an inquisitor; Favin, Mazeray, Reineirus Saccho, etc.,
could have been mistaken upon this point. But we are not to conclude
that no persons bearing the name of Waldenses saw and imitated the
practices of the Catholics, in the observance of the holydays of the
church. That many of them, particularly those branches that seceded from
the Church of Rome, paid a superstitious veneration to the Dominical
day, we are ready to admit. We have no data for tracing the extent of
those persons who held the truth unsophisticated. A considerable portion
of the writers to whom reference has been made were Catholics,—men high
in office in that church, and justly distinguished for natural and
acquired abilities. As this class of men placed great reliance upon
tradition and custom for the defence of their forms and ceremonies, and
laid no claim to Scripture testimony or command to sanction the rites of
their church, it is not strange that they should be open and unreserved
in all their details of the facts, and in the freedom of their comments
on ancient affairs, which go to prove the Sabbatarian character of the
heretical sects. With modern writers, particularly those of English and
German extraction, the case is materially different, as they belong to a
class which repudiates all arguments from any source but the Scriptures
for Sunday-keeping, and who take unusual pains to date the origin of
Sabbatarianism as late as possible. Indeed, as it appears that the term
Sabbatharians was first bestowed upon this very ancient and holy people,
I must consider it as a most honourable appellation when applied to our
denomination. I am surprised, that though Presbyterians, Episcopalians,
and every other class of Protestant dissenters, have striven to
establish an affinity with the old Waldenses, our own denomination have
remained so inert upon the matter. Can it be possible that among all our
ministers not one was acquainted with the facts bearing upon this case?

I must confess that it gives me inexpressible pleasure to think that we
have conclusive testimony, that, for so many centuries, in the midst,
too, of Catholic countries, God had reserved to himself such a goodly
number who had not bowed the knee to Baal, and whose mouths had not
kissed him; for certainly next to idolatry is that sin which would
substitute for doctrines the commandments of men, and neglect the
Sabbath of God's appointment, giving preference to a man-made

There is something extremely ridiculous in the manner in which modern
writers attempt to explain this feature in the faith of the ancient
Waldenses, and in this particular they are highly favoured by the
popular prejudices of the day. They bring long quotations from ancient
Roman authors to prove that the Waldenses rejected every ordinance not
commanded in the Scripture, but are very careful not to inform their
readers that in the opinion of the same authors, Sunday-keeping was one
of those ordinances. "Because they would not observe the festivals of
Christ and the saints," says an author of this stamp, "they were falsely
supposed to neglect the Sabbath also." However, he suppresses the fact
that, whatever title Sunday may bear in modern phraseology, in the times
of which we are speaking it was neither spoken of nor regarded as the
Sabbath, but as a festival of the church the same as Easter or
Christmas. All authorities are unanimous in declaring that the Waldenses
had been from time immemorial in the possession of the Holy Scriptures,
and that all, even the children, were deeply read in them. The French
Bible was translated from the original manuscript which the Waldenses
had retained, according to the testimony of the translators, from the
times of the Apostles, and which they handed down, in their native
tongue, from generation to generation. The following quotation may serve
to give some idea of their proficiency in the Scriptures:—

"In the time of a great persecution of the Waldenses of Merendol and
Provence," says Perrin, "a certain monk was deputed by the Bishop of
Cavaillon to hold a conference with them, that they might be convinced
of their errors, and the effusion of blood prevented. But the monk
returned in confusion, owning that, in his whole life, he had never
known so much of the Scriptures as he had learned during the few days
that he had been conversing with the heretics. The Bishop, however, sent
among them a number of doctors, young men who had lately come from the
Sorbonne, which, at that time, was the very centre of theological
subtlety at Paris. One of these publicly owned that he understood more
of the doctrine of salvation from the answers of little children in
their catechisms, than by all the disputations he had ever heard
before." A Dominican inquisitor declared that for the first time in his
life he heard the ten commandments of the Decalogue from the mouth of a
Waldensian heretic.

That the deportment and daily walk of the Waldenses was conformable with
their religious profession and scriptural knowledge, we have every
reason to believe. Reinerus Saccho declares that they live righteously
before men, believing rightly concerning God in every particular, and
holding all the articles contained in the Apostle's Creed. "The first
lesson," says he, "that the Waldenses teach those whom they bring over
to their party, is to instruct them what kind of persons the disciples
of Christ ought to be, and this they do by the doctrine of the
evangelists and apostles, saying that those only are the followers of
the apostles who imitate their manner of life."

An ancient inquisitor gives of them the following account:—

"These heretics are known by their manners and conversation, for they
are orderly and modest in their behaviour and deportment. They avoid all
appearance of pride in their dress; they neither indulge in finery of
attire, nor are they remarkable for being mean and ragged. They avoid
commerce, that they may be free from falsehood and deceit. They get
their livelihood by manual industry, as day labourers or mechanics, and
their teachers are weavers or tailors. They are not anxious about
amassing riches, but content themselves with the necessaries of life.
They are chaste, temperate, and sober. They abstain from anger. Even
when they work they either learn or teach. In like manner, also, their
women are modest, avoiding backbiting, foolish jesting, and levity of
speech, especially abstaining from lies or swearing."

It may be interesting to notice in this connexion some of the
peculiarities of their religious practices.

They constantly appealed to the Scriptures both of the Old and New
Testament, as their only guide and rule of faith and practice as to
religious duties. They are perpetually accused by Catholic writers of
rejecting all human institutions, traditions, and inventions, and both
friends and foes are unanimous in confessing that there was scarcely a
person among them, either man, or woman, or child, that was not better
acquainted with Holy Writ than the doctors of the church. They were
likewise accused of being without priests. This must be understood as
applying to the absence among them of a certain class of men paid or
pensioned by yearly salaries for discharging the ministrations of the
gospel. An old historian who was intimately acquainted with their
affairs, observes, "That they severely denounce the whole body of the
clergy on account of their idle course of life, and say that they ought
to labour with their hands, as did the Apostles."

Another says—"Their preachers are weavers and mechanics, who get their
own living, and are not chargeable upon their hearers." The same author
goes on to say that even their missionaries were accustomed to travel
from place to place in the character of travelling merchants; and this,
he assures us, subserved to good purposes; first, they were enabled to
support themselves; and second, they gained thereby readier access to
persons of rank and fortune.

Their treatment of females in their religious assemblies was liberal and
courteous in the extreme. They were not only allowed to preach, but bore
an equal part with the men in all the business of the church; and the
deeper we go into antiquity the more evident does this appear.

Against war, capital punishment, and oaths, they were decided in
expressing their disapprobation. Their opposition to bearing arms, and
to war in all its operations, was unanimous and unequivocal. Whoever
commanded them to the field they refused to obey, alleging that they
could not conscientiously comply. No contingencies would induce them to
assume the weapons of death; and this peculiarity was well understood by
all the world, and made the onsets of the inquisitors and crusaders upon
these weaponless Christians the more cruel and contemptible. Concerning
oaths, they appear to have adopted the language of our Saviour in a
literal sense, where he commands his disciples, "Swear not at all."

Such were their rules. Whatever deviations there might have been were
exceptions. Such deviations, it is natural to suppose, frequently
occurred; but they generally came from those portions of the community
who had been educated in the faith of Rome.

As it relates to their Baptist character I shall produce but one
quotation, although a multitude might be given.

"As the Catholics of these times baptized by immersion, the Paterines,
by what name soever they were called, as Manicheans, Gazara, Josephites,
Pasaginians, &c., made no complaint of the mode of baptizing; but when
they were examined upon the subject, they objected vehemently against
the baptism of infants, and condemned it as an error."[28]

Of their doctrinal sentiments we can know but little, as no other
portion of their history is involved in so much obscurity. Reinerus
Saccho, however, represents them as believing rightly in everything
pertaining to God and the Apostles' Creed. And they must have been
evangelical Christians; for, when we see religious societies, century
after century, holding on to their principles, and persisting in their
religious practices, amidst the severest persecutions that were ever
experienced, there is irrefragable evidence that they were built on a
firm foundation. Indeed, it is hardly probable that among people whose
religious teachers were obliged to depend upon manual labour for a
livelihood, there would be much time wasted in unprofitable discussions
about abstract points of theology.

The locality of these Christians, before they were dispersed by
persecution, was in the principality of Piedmont, which derives its name
from the singularity of its situation at the foot of the Alps,—a
prodigious range of mountains that form a natural boundary between
Italy, France, Switzerland, and Germany. It is bounded on the north by
Savoy, on the east by the duchies of Milan and Montferrat, on the south
by the county of Nice, and on the west by France. In ancient times it
formed a part of Lombardy, but recently it has become an appanage of the
Sardinian monarch, whose capital is Turin, one of the finest cities of
Europe. It comprises an extensive tract of rich and fruitful valleys,
embosomed in mountains, which are again encircled in mountains,
intersected with deep and rapid rivers, and exhibiting, in strong
contrast, the utmost beauty and luxuriance with the most frightful
spectacles of barrenness and desolation. The country is an interchange
of hill and vale, mountain and plain, through which four principal
rivers wind their way to the Mediterranean. Besides these, there are
eight-and-twenty smaller streams, which, winding their courses in
different directions, contribute to the beauty and fertility of these
Eden-like valleys.

The Pyrenees are another huge mountain range, that separate France from
Spain, and extend from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, a
distance of at least two hundred miles by a breadth of one hundred. This
surface, like the former, is wonderfully diversified with hills and
dales, mountains and valleys, in which places, and all along the borders
of Spain, throughout the south of France, among and below the Alps,
along the Rhine, and even to Bohemia and Passau, thousands of Christians
were found, even in the darkest times, who preserved the faith in its
purity, rejected the traditions of men, took the Scripture for their
guide and rule of conduct, and were persecuted only for righteousness'
sake. This place, in the desert, mountainous country, almost
inaccessible and unknown to the rest of the world, was probably the
place especially meant in Revelation, as prepared of God for the woman,
where she should be fed and nourished during the reign of Antichrist.

These people were deeply imbued with the spirit of missions; but in
this, as everything else, they closely adhered to apostolic example.
They had none of the cumbrous machinery of modern times in their
arrangements for disseminating the light of the gospel. They knew
nothing of supporting in worldly state expensive teachers in foreign
countries, or of building costly chapels for them to preach in. But, in
the simple style of itinerating merchants or peddlers, their
missionaries travelled from country to country, carrying with them a few
pages of the Scriptures in manuscript, holding little meetings,
ordaining deacons, and sustaining the hopes and faith of the persecuted
and tempted ones.

Of their modes of worship we know but little. Their churches, however,
were divided into compartments, such as in modern times are called
associations; and these were again subdivided into congregations. They
generally assembled for worship in private houses or in the shade of
groves. Their churches contained from two to fifteen hundred members. In
times of persecution they met in small companies of six, ten, fifteen,
or twenty, but never in large assemblies. Besides these churches
established in their mountain fastnesses, the Waldenses, or
Passagines,[29] had instituted churches in nearly all the principal
cities in the south of France and the northern parts of Italy. At Modena
their place of meeting was in a large manufactory, which was owned and
worked by the brethren. In Milan they occupied almost an entire street,
and their church is said to have contained nearly two thousand
communicants. In 1056, their church in Avignon contained six hundred
members, and a remnant continued, notwithstanding various reverses of
fortune, so late as 1698. We are also informed that there were churches
of the same order at Brescia, Ferrara, Verona, Rimini, Romandiola, and
many other places. For many centuries they remained untroubled by the
state; but the clergy preached and published books against them. In the
eleventh and twelfth century they comprised the bulk of the inhabitants
of Lombardy, and several men eminent for rank, station, and talents,
belonged to their communion. It is to these that M. de la Roque refers
when he says, "We have had many worthy and pious men, well instructed in
science and the history of the Fathers, who were neither ashamed nor
afraid to adopt both the practice and defence of the observation of the
seventh day against their opponents; and, contrary to popular custom,
withstood every allurement and temptation that the enlightened and
persecuting ages could afford. The observation of the Sabbath remained
not with them a matter of doubtful disputation, as that of the first day
did with the Rev. Dr. Watts, and many others who were engaged in the
controversy upon that subject." A modern French writer, in treating the
history of the Gallican church, observes that it is well known that all
Lombardy, the south of France, and even the mountainous district in the
north of Spain, were infested by a class of heretics, who not only
derided all the festivals of the church, but kept the Jewish Sabbath;
"and I have heard," he continues, "that the primitive Waldenses were
guilty of the same practices."

From these plain facts, and a multitude of others that might be
recorded, we may conclude that a large proportion of these ancient
people were Sabbatarians,—were Seventh-day Baptists. In tracing their
peculiarities, I have been forcibly reminded of our own denominational
traits, especially at a former period.

There is no doubt but that they continued for ages, preserving a
sameness of views, and keeping the commandments of God and the faith of
Jesus. When their congregations became too numerous, they separated, and
formed new assemblies. They continually refused to observe any religious
ordinances for which they found no warrant in the Scriptures. They
refused baptism to children, only admitting to that ordinance those
persons of whose repentance and spiritual regeneration no doubts were
entertained. They maintained church discipline upon all, even their
ministers. And though cast down, they were not disheartened; though
persecuted, they were not extirpated, until the days for their
prophesying[30] were accomplished, until they had borne witness for the
truth during the time appointed, when it pleased the great Head of the
Church to permit their enemies to consummate their everlasting glory, by
bestowing upon them the crown of martyrdom, and, from being the church
militant, they were removed, almost in a body, to join the church

Of their Sabbatarian character there is not the least room for doubt.
Indeed, whatever novelty may be connected with this idea, I believe that
every one, upon mature consideration, will perceive its consistency.
They were planted in the valleys—if not in the apostolic age—before the
antichristian power had obtained the dominance at Rome. Robinson asserts
that there were many churches of Jewish Christians in the imperial city
during the fourth century, which well accords with the declaration of
Pope Gregory VII., that the Waldensian heresy originated from a company
of Jewish heretics, who removed from Rome thither in the time of
Constantine the Great; while a multitude of authorities, both friends
and foes, are unanimous in declaring that they were never subjected to
Rome, but persisted to the end in the abhorrence of all her feasts and


It was not until the twelfth century that the Waldenses, and other
heretical parties, appear in history as a people exposed to the
persecuting edicts of Rome. And even then it seems to have been
occasioned, in a great measure, by the great success that crowned the
labours of Peter Waldo, whose followers first obtained the name of
Leonists, or Poor Men of Lyons; and who, when persecuted, fled to the
mountains, and became incorporated with the other inhabitants of the
valleys. By this means, the Waldenses were brought into collision with
the power of Rome, who, arming against them the civil authorities,
proceeded to consummate their destruction and extirpation. At this time
it appears, that under the protection and through the connivance of the
Counts of Toulouse, the Viscount of Beziers, and many others of the
French nobility, a score of the principal cities in Languedoc, Provence,
and Dauphiny, were filled with the different heretical parties. But the
civil power, and even the more summary efforts of the Inquisition,
appear to have been too slow in their operations to meet the wishes of
papal vengeance, although persecuted under the agency of Dominic, the
chief inquisitor. The Pope was dissatisfied—new schemes were projected,
apparently more mild and conciliatory, but under this pleasing exterior
was concealed the most abominable treachery. The papal legates proposed
holding a public debate, in which the points at issue between the
parties should be decided by amicable arbitration. To this reasonable
offer the unsuspecting brethren readily consented. The place of
conference agreed upon was Montreal, near Carcassone. Two umpires were
appointed from each side; those of the Catholics were the Bishops of
Villeneuse and Auxerre, and those of the opposite party, R. de Bot and
Anthony Riviere. On the part of the Albigenses, a number of the pastors
were appointed to manage the debate, of whom the principal was Arnold
Hot. He first arrived at the appointed place, accompanied by a number of
his friends. He was met on behalf of the papacy, by a bishop named
Eusas, the renowned Dominic, two legates of the Pope, and several others
of the Catholic clergy. According to Catholic historians, who are very
concise and remarkably unanimous in their accounts of this celebrated
conference, the points which Arnold undertook to prove were, that the
sacrament of the mass was idolatry, that the baptism of infants was
unscriptural, that the festivals of the church were heathen
appointments,[31] and, finally, that the Pope was Antichrist, and the
Church of Rome the harlot mentioned in Revelations. In maintenance of
these points, Arnold drew up certain propositions, which he transmitted
to the bishop, who required two weeks to answer them, which was granted.
At the appointed time the bishop appeared, and read his reply in the
public assembly. Arnold requested permission to make a verbal answer,
only entreating their patient hearing if he took a considerable time in
answering so prolix a writing. He was answered with fair speeches and
many promises of a patient hearing. He then discoursed upon the subject
for four days, with such perspicuity, fluency and precision, such order
and forcible reasoning, that a powerful impression was made upon the
minds of the audience. He finally called upon the Catholics for their
defence, when the Bishop of Villeneuse declared that the conference must
be broken up, because the army of the crusaders was approaching, and
near at hand.

What he asserted was true. The papal armies advanced, and all points of
controversy were instantly decided by fire and fagot. It is estimated
that not less than two hundred thousand of these innocent people
perished in the short space of two months. The war of extermination
continued twenty years, and one million persons were put to death. These
disastrous scenes occurred in the commencement of the twelfth century,
and three hundred years previous to the dawn of the Reformation in
Germany. During this long period, the circumstances of the Waldenses
were always afflictive, but at some times and in some countries more so
than in others. The Church of Rome, with the armies of crusaders who
were always at hand, and always ready to lend their assistance for the
extirpation of heresy, and the monks of the Inquisition, who were never
more numerous and active, seemed determined to exterminate them from the
face of the earth. But the contests of the Catholic states among
themselves, the quarrels of the popes with the secular princes, whose
affairs they attempted to control, combined with other causes, afforded
these victims of ecclesiastical tyranny some short and temporary seasons
of repose.

Of the multitudes who perished beneath the iron power of the
Inquisition, we have little account. Nevertheless some details of cases
of individual suffering have been given to the world, and multitudes of
others lie concealed among the manuscripts preserved in ancient
libraries. From records of this kind, Philip de Mornay, a French author
of some distinction, composed a work purporting to be the memoirs of
celebrated Waldensian martyrs, in which detailed and circumstantial
narratives of many trials were given, together with the interrogatories
and answers of the criminals, and the heresies of which they were
accused. According to these statements they were perpetually accused of
Judaism, of practising circumcision, and observing the Jewish Sabbath.
The former charges they repelled with disdain. Of the latter, they
generally replied that God had commanded the observance of the seventh
day, which command was binding upon Christians, as much as Jews, since
neither Christ nor his Apostles had ever commanded its abrogation.

Some of these accounts are very interesting, and the Sabbatarians
reasoned in precisely the same manner as we do now.

On the 14th of September, 1492, about thirty persons were committed to
the inquisitorial dungeons of Toulouse, upon a charge of Judaism, which,
as every one knows, was considered a mortal sin in Catholic countries.
Of these, the most eminent was Anthony Ferrar, who had been a pastor or
teacher in the Sabbatarian church of that city. After remaining in
prison ten days, he received a visit from an Italian monk named Gregory,
to whom his examination had been committed. He was accompanied by two
other monks, who were to act as witnesses. After a long conference
touching his age, property, manner of living, associates, relations, and
similar subjects, Gregory at last came to the matter in question.

_Greg._—But, Anthony, you must be a liar and a deceiver, for I have been
credibly informed that yourself, and all your friends, were of the
cursed race of Israel.

_An._—It is false, we were all honest Frenchmen, and Christians,
followers of Jesus.

_Greg._—Nay! but you were Jews, for instead of baptizing your infant
children, you have all the males circumcised.

_An._—You do very wrong to accuse us of that practice; for it is
something of which we are entirely innocent.

_Greg._—Hey! do you then baptize your children?

_An._—We do not, neither do we circumcise them.

_Greg._—Nevertheless, you must be Jews, since you say that the law of
Moses is still binding.

_An._—We say that the ten commandments are still binding.

_Greg._—Yes, and instead of observing the festivals of the Holy Church,
and honouring the holy day of the Lord, on which he arose from the dead,
you were accustomed to meet for worship upon the old Sabbath, or

_An._—We did, indeed, rest and attend to divine worship upon the seventh
day, even as God commanded.

My limits will not permit me to transcribe the remainder of this
interesting conversation. Anthony, with his associates in misfortune,
were subsequently burned in the marketplace in Toulouse, and all died
praising God that they were worthy to suffer for his name. Hundreds of
others, of whom the names of Jean de Borgen, Matthew Hainer, Auguste
Riviere, Philippe Nicola, and Henri Maison, have been preserved, were
accused of and confessed to the same.

"Of the many who were burned, and otherwise destroyed for Judaism,"
observes a Spanish author of the sixteenth century, "it is not probable
that one-tenth were of the race of Israel, but heretics, who, for
persisting in saying that the law of Moses was still binding, were
accused of Jewish practices, such as circumcision and sabbatizing, to
the latter of which they uniformly plead guilty."

A Dominican inquisitor, in giving an account of the proceedings of that
infernal tribunal in the north of Spain, declares that since it was
known that many of the heretics were accustomed to solemnize the old
Sabbath by religious worship, and an absolute inattention to secular
employments, it became the policy of the Holy Office to take notice of
such shops as were shut up on that day, and of such persons as were
found to be absent from worldly engagements. "The result answered my
expectations," he continues, "for when these people were arrested, and
being brought before me, were shown the rack, they generally confessed
their Judaical practices, at least so far as it related to sabbatizing,
which the holy church had expressly forbidden."

Other testimonies of this same character might be produced, but enough
has been said to prove to our own denomination, and to the world, that
at the time when the crusading armies made their frightful onsets upon
the heretical churches of Piedmont, the South of France, and Catalonia,
there were large communities of Sabbath-keeping Christians in all these
parts. But historians are unanimous in confessing that they were drowned
in blood, and driven into exile. Their race disappeared, and their
opinions ceased to influence society. In hundreds of villages, all the
inhabitants were massacred with a blind fury. Year after year new armies
continued to arrive, more numerous than were employed in other wars. It
is impossible to ascertain how many were destroyed by these dreadful
crusades, but it is certain that the visible churches of these
Christians were extirpated by fire and sword; though a bleeding remnant
escaped by flight, concealment, and Catholic conformity. Of the details
of their sufferings and miseries it is impossible to give in this place
even an abridged account. For many consecutive years they suffered every
species of cruelty, barbarity, and persecution, which the crusades and
the Inquisition could inflict. Those who remained were indiscriminately
slaughtered, and of those who fled, multitudes miserably perished by the
way. Their total extirpation was effected in 1686, at which time the
ancient Waldensian and Albigensian churches ceased to exist. It is true,
that in 1689, three years after the expulsion of the whole fraternity, a
company, sword in hand, fought their way back to the valleys of
Piedmont, of which they took possession, and in which their descendants
still reside. This company, under the command of one Amand, committed
the most frightful acts of wickedness and barbarity, and exhibited in
all their conduct a spirit entirely different from the ancient
Waldenses. Their leader acted in the double capacity of spiritual pastor
and military chieftain, and the creeds and formulas which he instituted,
and which are still observed among them, are comparatively of modern

In closing these very brief and imperfect accounts of these ancient
witnesses for the truth, a few remarks may not be inappropriate, more
especially as I have made a claim regarding their denominational
character, that has never, to my knowledge, been advanced by our
friends, and which will not be readily conceded by our opponents.

If we take the Waldenses under the great variety of names which they
bore at different periods and in different locations, it appears that
they were by far the most important branch of dissenters from the Church
of Rome, and that they were divided among themselves like the present
dissenters in England. The more I have investigated this matter, the
more evident it appears; and as it would be unwise for us to attempt to
establish an affinity with all of them in the distinctive feature of our
order, it is certain that our claims at least to a due proportion can
never be disproved. That many of them observed the seventh day, and that
some of them paid a superstitious veneration to the first day, is quite
as certain as the fact that they were all persecuted by the Church of
Rome. The farther we go back into antiquity, the more distinctly does
their Sabbatarian character appear. Nothing but the blindness of bigotry
can induce any man, or class of men, who have paid the smallest
attention to the accounts of all the Catholic authors concerning them,
to deny that complaints against them for disregarding the festivals of
the church, in which they included the Dominical day, were widespread
and long-continued; and that almost equally with the former were the
accusations of their paying an undue regard to Saturday, or the Jewish
Sabbath. On the other hand, it is clear, from the terms "some of them,"
and "a part," with similar expressions employed by the writers in
question, that they did not accuse all of having fallen into this
monstrous heresy. The keeping of the first day appears to be the last
thing that is given up by those who withdraw from the old, corrupt
establishments; and nothing affords a clearer evidence of the prejudices
of education than the slow reluctance with which it is yielded, as they
find that the proofs for its support from the Scriptures fail them, and
the moral and immutable character of the ancient Sabbath comes up to
their view in its practical operations. Such has been the case in all
places where we have certain knowledge, and the probability is that it
was so in the dark ages beyond our sight.

It is not for us to claim the whole body of dissenters of the better
class; but we may claim, and I believe that candid men of all parties
will concede, upon a thorough examination of the ancient Catholic
authors, that Sabbatarian sentiments have prevailed much more
extensively among these ancient sects than has generally been supposed.
Neither my time nor my limits would allow a full investigation of this
very interesting subject. The most that I could hope to do was to make a
beginning. The field for research is very wide, and upon the Sabbatarian
question it is wholly unoccupied. And here I would remark, for the
information of those who may feel disposed to examine the subject
hereafter, that it is only by an immediate reference to the old Catholic
writers that we can ever hope to obtain much information upon this
point. These speak with great plainness, and without paraphrase,
omission, or concealment, of the rejecters of the church-festivals, and
the observers of the Jewish Sabbath. They were open and undisguised, and
were far from exhibiting the cautiousness of the moderns upon this
subject. They had no concern about the proofs for the observance of the
first day, and no fear of publishing to the world how many of the
incorrigible heretics refused to venerate it. It made no difference to
them if it was not found in the Bible, since it was in the decrees of
the councils and the bulls of the popes, which, with them, were of equal
authority with the Scripture command.

For a long time their complaints ran high on this head against many of
the seceding parties; and it is well for us that this testimony is
placed beyond the reach of modern writers, where it cannot be garbled,
mutilated, and suppressed. It is not to be expected that our first-day
brethren, even those of the Baptist persuasion, would take any pains to
prove that these apostolic communities were Sabbatarian, though
possessing the knowledge that such was the fact. It has been their
policy to represent us as insignificant in number and recent in origin.
Unfortunately, we have contributed to extend that delusion. For my own
part, I am of the opinion that in the dark ages there were many more of
our denomination than there are at present. Not that any in these ages
were called Seventh-day Baptists; no such thing: but that multitudes,
like ourselves, refused to observe the festivals of the church,
contended that the Decalogue was moral and immutable, and refused
baptism to any but professing believers. Like ourselves, they took the
Scriptures for their guide and rule of faith in everything, and were
most decided in rejecting everything for which they found no warrant in
that holy book, despising all human appointments, all priestly
traditions, and man-made institutions. For many ages the valleys formed
an asylum, to which all seceding parties from the Romish hierarchy fled
for protection. It is not strange—indeed, we might expect—that this
amalgamation with new parties would beget new customs, which in the end
might entirely change their denominational character. This was certainly
the case as it respects the discipline and government of their churches,
which for a number of the first centuries partook of all the ease and
freedom characteristic of modern Baptist communities, then was modelled
by degrees into a Presbyterian form, and finally ended in something of
the Episcopalian character. Such denominational changes are neither new
nor strange, especially when we consider the severity of penal statutes
on the one hand, and the spirit of conformity, lukewarmness, and
indifference on the other, which continually operate to prepare
dissenters for an approximation to the established church, and, finally,
for a union with it.

At the time of the Reformation these old communities were in
circumstances of peculiar trials and distress. New persecutions of
unusual severity had been stirred up against them by the Catholics,
whose resentment had been exasperated in the keenest manner, in
consequence of the new and unexpected attacks that had been made upon
the authority of the church by the Protestant reformers, and who were
thereby led to vent their spite upon all whom they found without their
pale, whatever might be their innocence, or however quiet and
inoffensive they might have been. Thus harassed and distressed, these
afflicted people were ready to submit to almost any terms, for the sake
of gaining new friends and protectors; and one company after another of
those who had been driven into exile, and were settled in Bohemia,
Germany, and the Netherlands, became associated, as an incipient
measure, and in the end were amalgamated with, the Reformed or
Presbyterian party, under the direction of Calvin and Zuinglius. Of the
fact of this union of the Waldenses with the Reformers there can be no
dispute; but the process of this confederacy, and the terms upon which
it was consummated, have never been satisfactorily decided. It is
morally certain, however, that the subject of the Sabbath was discussed
by some of these parties, since we are informed by various historical
documents that Calvin objected to the seventh day, but conceded that the
old Fathers had substituted the first day in its place, and proposed, as
an instance of Christian liberty, to reject both, and make a Sabbath of
the fifth day of the week. This overture, we are informed, was
indignantly rejected; but there is reason to believe that the observance
of the first day, together with infant baptism, were among the changes
in their denominational character which were brought about by their
union with the German reformers. In 1530, a Waldensian community,
located in Provence, sent two of their ministers, George Morrel and
Peter Masson, as deputies to the Swiss reformers, which resulted in
their union with the new party. These deputies, after their return,
declared to their brethren how many and great errors their old ministers
had kept them in, and how their new allies had happily set them right.
Subsequently a part of them, at least, became one with the Huguenots of
France, and the Protestants of Germany.

But, so late as 1823, an English clergyman, named Gilly, visited the
Vaudois in the valley of Perosa, making his journey thither by Turin,
and had an interview with Mr. Peyrani, who was then seventy years old,
and is since dead. He was the successor of a line of pastors whom
tradition would extend to the Apostles themselves. In his possession was
a library amply supplied with books, and parchments, and paper
manuscripts, accumulated by his ancestors. According to his accounts,
"in the summer, when these pastoral people are tending their cattle at a
distance from the valleys, and occupying their chalets, or temporary
cabins, upon the summits of the mountains, the clearness of the
atmosphere allows the sound of the Sabbath bells to reach them, calling
them to the worship of the Creator, beneath the canopy of heaven. They
assemble in a convenient place on the green turf, to listen to the
exhortations of their minister, who follows them on every seventh day to
their remotest pasturings." From this it appears that a portion of them,
at least, still observe the ancient Sabbath.


We have already seen that the different branches of the great Waldensian
community were known under a variety of names, which were generally
significative of some distinguished leader among them, the country
whence they came, or something descriptive of their peculiar tenets.

The epithet of Semi-Judaisers, which was applied as a term of reproach
to a sect which flourished in Transylvania, Holland, and some parts of
Germany, and even extended itself into Russia and Poland, in the latter
part of the fourteenth and during the commencement of the fifteenth
centuries, is of itself sufficient to show the Sabbatarian character of
the people it was designed to distinguish. To Judaise, Judaising, and
Judaisers, being synonymous terms of reproach, or rather terms
appellative,—the former to signify the action of sabbatizing, and the
latter to designate the person by whom the Sabbath was thus observed. Of
this we have abundant testimony. The Council of Laodicea, in 350, passed
a decree, in which Christians are reproved for Judaising. "If any be
found Judaising, let him be anathematized," was the language of these
pretended fathers of the church.[32] Athanasius says, "We assemble on
Saturday, not that we are infected with Judaism;" thus repelling a
charge which, in every age and country, has been affixed as a stigma to

The first glimpse that I have been able to obtain of this sect is given
by an old German author, whose works were published at Antwerp, in 1667.
In speaking of the religious parties and factions which agitated the
country, he says: "As to the people called by their enemies the
Semi-Judaisers, it is certain that they originated from a colony of the
persecuted Waldenses, who fled from Lombardy into Bohemia about 1450,
and thence removed into Transylvania, which subsequently became their
headdquarters. They say that the law of Moses is binding upon
Christians, and, accordingly, solemnize divine service upon Saturday, or
the old Sabbath."

As to the outward circumstances of this people, they were generally
among the industrious poor,—mechanics and husbandmen. They were never in
squalid wretchedness or beggarly destitution, when left to enjoy the
fruits of their industry. Many of them, both male and female, became
inmates of the households of the great, in the capacity of nurses and
servants, and were greatly esteemed on account of their sobriety,
intelligence, and faithfulness. Others settled on the outskirts of the
neglected domains of the nobility, where they soon converted the barren
wastes into productive fields, and reared new and flourishing
settlements, to the great satisfaction of the landlords.

From the very brief and imperfect accounts that I have been able to
obtain concerning them, there does not appear to have been anything
strange or singular in their manner of worship. They took the Scriptures
for their guide, rejected all Popish ceremonies, inventions, and
institutions, administered baptism by immersion, and contended that the
church of Christ should be inaccessible to unholy and unregenerate
persons. Their ministers were allowed no salaries, and were not
distinguished from the lay brethren by any superior authority or
attainments. All who felt disposed to do so were permitted to teach, "or
prophesy," and in this particular they seem to have strongly resembled
the Quakers.

That they possessed a decided missionary spirit is evident from the fact
that their doctrines were secretly and silently, but very effectually,
disseminated throughout many parts of Europe, where they took deep and
lasting root.

Subsequent to their removal into Bohemia, they became incorporated with
the United Bohemian Brethren, whose numbers were considerable in every
part of the empire. Scarcely, however, were they reduced to order, when
a terrible persecution was set on foot by the Catholic party, and they
were called upon to prove the strength of their faith by endurance and
perseverance to the end. They were compelled to forsake their towns and
villages in the depths of winter. The sick were cast into the fields.
Hundreds expired in flames, or on the rack. The public prisons were
filled with suspected persons. Such as effected their escape retired
into the caves and deserts of the country, where they held religious
assemblies, elected teachers, and decided upon their future course.

About 1500, a large company of the Semi-Judaisers removed into
Transylvania, where they experienced many vicissitudes until the dawn of
the Reformation in Germany. At this time they had many large and
flourishing congregations, and being generally of the poorer class, and
withal extremely peaceable and inoffensive in their manners, they were
suffered by the princes and nobility of the country to live upon their
estates without molestation. In 1565, they first appear in history as a
people obnoxious to the rulers of Transylvania; and then it was chiefly
in consequence of the success which had attended the propagation of
their doctrines, and the conversion of Francis Davidis, superintendent
of the Socinian churches in that country, to their creed. Davidis, to
eminent talents and great learning, united the most ardent zeal and
untiring perseverance. Besides taking advantage of every opportunity to
disseminate his own peculiar views, he boldly attacked the doctrines of
the adverse party, disputing in person with the Socinian doctors, and
contending that the ten commandments of the Decalogue were of a moral
and immutable nature, and, consequently, that the seventh day of the
week should be observed as a sabbatical rest. His views were highly
offensive to Christopher Bathori, prince of Transylvania, who threw him
into prison, where he died in 1579, at an advanced age. His doctrines,
thus brought into public and general notice, spread rapidly, and were
embraced by several men of eminence. Of these the most distinguished
were Christiern Francken, who disputed in public for three days with
Faustus Socinus, upon the question of the Sabbath, and John Somers,
Master of the Academy of Clausenberg. The violent contentions that
ensued made a noise in all parts of Germany, and reached the ears of
Luther, who wrote a book upon the subject. In 1585, Jacob Paleologus, of
the isle of Ohio, was burned at Rome for Judaism. At his trial, he
declared that the ten commandments were moral and immutable in their
nature. In other countries executions of a similar character took place;
and the Semi-Judaisers were persecuted from region to region, like the
vilest of mankind. Many of them fled into Poland, Lithuania, and Russia,
where, mingling with the other dissenters from the established churches,
they formed congregations, and became quite numerous. Under the mild
reign of Udislaus II., king of Poland, their numbers greatly increased,
and many persons of wealth and respectability united in their communion.
A Polish writer informs us that their churches were numerous and
flourishing in many parts, but particularly in the Palatinates of
Polotsk, Witepsk, Nuislaw, Mohilev, and Minsk. At Dorpat, in Livonia,
there was a church containing five hundred members, where, in 1816, a
small remnant still resided. From Poland they extended themselves into
the middle and southern provinces of Russia, where they remained in a
state of general peace until the year 1638, when a persecution began in
Poland, through the instigation of the Catholics, extended to this
country, and multitudes of dissenters of all ranks and classes were
barbarously put to death. At this time the Semi-Judaisers were known in
these countries under the name of Sabbaton, a name sufficiently
descriptive of their peculiar and distinguishing tenets. In consequence
of these terrible persecutions, they retired into the most obscure and
unfrequented districts, and their history is wrapped in a great degree
of obscurity, until the reign of the Empress Catherine II., when they
are again brought into view as a people obnoxious to the government.
Under her persecuting edicts, their churches were demolished, their
congregations broken up and scattered, and the more eminent for piety
and learning put to death by a variety of cruel tortures. But a remnant
was saved to perpetuate the truth. Since that period they have
experienced many vicissitudes, but, upon all and every occasion, they
have found their safety in obscurity. They are distinguished for their
ardent love of the Holy Scriptures, for their opposition to the use of
images or pictures, and for their uniformly pious and consistent
conduct. They have no paid or salaried body of ecclesiastics. They
consider the invocation of saints to be idolatry, and insist upon the
right of private judgment in the interpretation of Scripture; a
circumstance that renders them highly obnoxious to the Russian priests.
They only admit professing believers to the rite of baptism. In their
sentiments concerning the Trinity they are said to be Arian.

In 1824, a large community of these Christians were found by a
celebrated French traveller settled on the banks of the river Moskwa.
They numbered several thousand, and wore the Armenian costume, which
people they strongly resembled in manners and customs. He gives as their
peculiarities that they accounted as no better than fable whatever was
preached without Scripture proof, and affirm that the traditions of the
church are no better than the traditions of the Pharisees. They look
upon a church built of stone as no better than any other building;
neither do they believe that God dwells there. They say that to suppose
that God is found in churches, monasteries, and oratories, any more than
in any other place, is limiting the divine majesty. Their prayers and
sermons are extempore. Their ministers, like themselves, are generally
mechanics or labourers; nor is there any difference of rank among them.
They admit all the sacraments instituted by Christ, but none others.
They regard the ten commandments as moral and immutable, and, moreover,
are conscientious observers of the old Sabbath, or Saturday.

"I was told," continues the same author, "that these people were very
numerous in many parts of Russia; and that their missionaries could
travel all over the empire, and pass every night with their brethren.
They were known to each other by a secret sign, and all their houses are
distinguished by a private mark, known only to the initiated. In
consequence of their extreme caution that none but members of their
churches should be present at their assemblies, they have been accused
of many horrid and abominable practices,—such as drinking the blood of a
child, and the indulgence of licentiousness,—their accusers not
considering that the only security for their safety is in their
avoidance of public notoriety." All testimonials concur in stating that
their numbers are considerable, but that, through fear of a recurrence
of persecution, they courted obscurity; being content with the humblest
stations, and only seeking to keep the commandments of God and the faith
of Jesus. "Of the sect called Sabbaton, who reside in Russia," says
Voltaire, "some say one thing and some another. It is evident, however,"
he continues, "that they originated from the Vaudois, who fled before
the Crusaders into Germany, Bohemia, and Poland, and thence into the
imperial territories. They pay great attention to the Bible, and but
little to the priests, for which reason, probably, they have been so
hated by the latter." Again, he observes, "that it is quite impossible
to ascertain their numbers, or the proceedings of their meetings, since,
through fear of persecution, they keep both entirely secret." A Russian
historian testifies to the same. "I have no means of determining the
numbers of the sect denominated Sabbaton, as they have been estimated by
various authorities at from 10,000 to 100,000. It is certain, however,
that they are harmless, simple, and inoffensive in their lives, and that
they avoid all publicity, having a good reason for so doing." "I have
been credibly informed," says the Rev. Joseph Wolfe, in private
correspondence, "that the Sabbatarians in Russia are quite numerous, and
are called Sabbaton." In a work entitled "The Annals of Russia," which
was published at St. Petersburg, in 1796, and afterwards translated into
French by M. de Brissembourg, we are told that these people are not only
found in the large cities, but that they had congregations in the
remotest parts of the empire,—in Siberia, and upon the northwest coast
of North America. This was proved to be the case in 1829, when the Rev.
J. S. Green, of the American Board of Foreign Missions, visited a church
of fifty communicants on the northwest coast of Russian America, who
religiously observed the seventh day. He gives rather a deplorable
picture of their ignorance, but upon one point at least he might have
learned a lesson of them.


In my foregoing statements I have been governed entirely by the language
and opinions of the writers from whom I derived my information, and who
are almost unanimous in supposing that the Semi-Judaisers of Bohemia and
Transylvania were descendants of the primitive Waldenses. However this
may be, we have every reason to believe that both these countries, with
different parts of Germany and Holland, were the abodes of evangelical
Christians, and probably of Sabbatarians, before the dispersion of the
Waldenses. An ancient author informs us that long before the dawn of the
Reformation in Germany, there lay concealed in all these countries,
particularly in Bohemia, a class of persons who contended for the
spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ, and that this kingdom should
be exempt from all human institutions, of which first-day keeping is
such a principal one. It is certain, however, that they were first
brought into public notice about this time, and the probability is, that
being similar to, they became amalgamated with the persecuted Waldenses;
and as their safety lay in their obscurity, they took no pains to form
records to perpetuate their memories. This opinion is further
strengthened from the fact that many of the Anabaptists of Holland,
whose origin is confessedly hid in the remote depths of antiquity, are
known to have been Sabbatarians, and the same was true of multitudes in
the Netherlands, or Low Countries, as we learn from Father Lebo, a
Spanish inquisitor, who accompanied the Duke of Alva on his expedition
to that unhappy country, of which he wrote an account. He says, "Of all
the heretics, none were more incorrigible than a certain set, who were
quite numerous, who refused to pay any regard to the festivals of the
church, but persisted in Judaising, and openly declared that the Mosaic
ritual was still binding."

Of the origin of Sabbatarianism in Holland, however, we have no account;
neither have the names of its teachers been handed down to us. Whether
its first observers were led to its adoption by an examination of the
sacred records alone, or whether the commandments there laid down, were
argued and explained by some popular leader, I have at present no means
of ascertaining. Certain it is that the Sabbath controversy became, in
the commencement of the sixteenth century, the principal one of the age,
in all those northern Germanic countries, and engaged not only the
attention of prelates and doctors of divinity, but of princes and
sovereign states. In this controversy learning was opposed to ignorance,
and influence to obscurity. Wealth, talent, and civil power, were
arrayed on the side of the No-Sabbath doctrine. Here I would remark,
that the Sabbatarians in Europe, at this period, were engaged in a
controversy, which, originating upon different principles, required to
be managed in altogether a different manner, from the present
controversial discussions of the Sabbath question. The change of the
Sabbath at this time had not been broached. It was conceded by all that
the Dominical day was a mere festival of the church, brought in and
perpetuated by human authority, and the mass of the people, with the
so-called great Reformers at their head, contended that all sabbatical
statutes had been abrogated, and consequently that, under the present
dispensation, it was a matter of perfect expediency, whether or not any
day of rest was observed. On the contrary, the Sabbatarians maintained
that a Divine law could only be abrogated by its institutor, that the
law of the Sabbath had not been so abrogated, and consequently, that it
must be still in force. They appealed to the Scriptures; the opposite
party appealed to the sword: and though the arguments of the former
could never be answered in a satisfactory manner, their upholders could
be hushed in death or driven into exile. One of the most eminent and
learned men of this age, was a Sabbatarian, and a bold advocate of
Sabbatarian views. I refer to Grotius, who wrote and published a book,
in which he proved that the ten commandments are moral and immutable,
and consequently the law of the Sabbath is still binding. This book was
condemned in the celebrated council convened at Dort in 1618, and its
author denounced in the severest manner. But however much this
distinguished man contributed to support the Sabbatarian cause, he was
certainly not its founder. A Catholic historian, in treating of the
Anabaptists in Holland, at the commencement of the sixteenth century,
remarks, that, "these heretics, through the instigation of the devil,
for their overthrow, were divided among themselves, part teaching one
thing, and part another; for, though all unanimously rejected the holy
sacraments of the church, and refused to obey its ordinances, a certain
set were for going back to Moses for a Sabbath, in which matter, they
went so far as to form congregations, and hold meetings on the seventh
day." In another place he observes, "I never heard that they were
persecuted by their brethren, the other Anabaptists, except by the way
of jeers, scoffs, and ridicule."[33]

Again, "The followers of Moses being chiefly among the poorer classes,
they escaped for a long time the notice of the civil authorities, and so
greatly increased in numbers, that they had teachers and congregations
in all the principal cities of Holland, but when the persecutions broke
out, some fled, others conformed, and their meetings were generally
broken up." It is well known that the Lutheran princes and prelates
practised upon the Anabaptists all the cruelties to which themselves had
been subjected by the Roman hierarchs. The names of Luther, Calvin, and
Zuinglius, have been marked in this manner with an indelible stain. The
conscientious Sabbatarians neither expected nor found sympathy in the
bosoms of these men. Luther, who could send a circular to the princes of
the empire, urging them to execute summary vengeance upon the heretical
sect, and who bitterly denounced Carlostadt for sympathizing with them;
Calvin, who could smile with complacency over the tortures of those who
refused to be governed by his own opinions; and Zuinglius, who, when
questioned regarding the fate of certain Anabaptists, replied, "Drown
the Dippers,"—what sympathy could be expected from princes whose
consciences were guided, and whose opinions were influenced by such men?
and is it a wonder, that while the horrible scenes of the Inquisition
were re-enacted in Protestant countries; that while women and children,
old men and maidens, indeed, a multitude of all classes, were being
drowned, hung, burned, racked, and crowded into prisons to be literally
starved to death; is it a wonder, I say, that under all these
circumstances, posterity is beginning to inquire whether they were
reformers or deformers, and whether pure and undefiled religion was
really benefited by their services? This inquiry appears the more
rational, when we consider that it was for being baptized as baptism was
practised in the primitive church, and, so far as the Sabbatarians were
concerned, for observing the Sabbath that God had commanded, that these
frightful persecutions were carried on. Although many Sabbatarians
doubtlessly perished, the name of only one martyr known to have been of
that faith has been preserved. This was Barbary Von Thiers, who had been
baptized by a Sabbatarian minister named Stephen Benedict. At her
examination, she declared her rejection of Sunday and the holydays of
the church, but said that "the Lord God had commanded rest on the
seventh day;" in this she acquiesced, and it was her desire, by the help
and grace of God, to remain as she was, for it was the true faith and
right way in Christ. At the time when the Arminian schism was creating
such a great excitement in Holland, the Sabbatarians appear to have
become amalgamated, at least to a certain extent, with that people. Both
were equally obnoxious to the state, and that of itself would have
created a sympathy between them. It is well known that Grotius embraced
the Arminian tenets. Maurice, at that time the reigning prince, exerted
his utmost efforts to crush both parties. Inquiries were set on foot
with all the rigours of the Inquisition. The suspected were tortured not
so much to make them criminate themselves, as to betray their friends
and associates. Some were beheaded, and others escaped into foreign
countries. Of the latter class was Grotius, who, being condemned to
perpetual imprisonment, escaped his doom by flight. Their houses were
demolished, their property confiscated, and every measure that tyranny
and malice could invent, was exerted for their extirpation. Partially,
at least, these efforts were attended with success, and since that
period few Sabbatarians have been found in that country.


About sixty years after the ascension of our Lord, Christianity was
first introduced into Britain, and many of the nobility, as well as
those of inferior birth, were happily converted. As it can be proved
that, at this early period, the seventh day was observed by the
Christians in general, we may conclude that these primitive churches
were Sabbatarian. The British Christians experienced various changes of
prosperity and adversity, until about the year 600, when Austin, the
monk, with forty associates, was sent hither to subject the island to
the dominion of Rome. Various ancient authors might be quoted to prove
the Sabbatarian character of the English at this period. In the
Biography of Austin, published in the Lives of the Saints, we are told
that he found the people of Britain in the most grievous and intolerable
heresies, being given to Judaising, but ignorant of the holy sacraments
and festivals of the church. The author then goes on to relate the
prodigies wrought in their conversion.

The terms of conformity proposed to these Christians by Austin related,
among other things, to the observation of Easter and the festivals of
the Romish church. A division among the people immediately ensued, and
the different branches of the church were designated as the old and the
new. The old, or Sabbatarian Baptist church retained their original
principles; while the new adopted the keeping of the Dominical day,
infant baptism, and the other superstitions of the Romish hierarchy.

Benius' Councils, fol. 1448, says that a council was celebrated in
Scotland in 1203, in which the initiation or first bringing in of the
Lord's day was determined. Lucius says of this council, that "it was
enacted that the Dominical day should be holy, beginning at the twelfth
hour on Saturday, until Monday." "The same year," says Hoveden,
"Eustachius, Archbishop of Flay, returned into England, and therein
preached the word of God from city to city, and from place to place, and
said the command under written, came from heaven about the observation
of the Dominical day; that it was found in a letter at Jerusalem, on the
tomb of St. Simeon, which the Archbishop, after fasting, praying, and
doing penance, at length ventured to take and read, which was as

"I, the Lord, who commanded you that you should observe the Dominical
holy day, and ye have not kept it, and ye have not repented of your
sins, as I said by my gospel. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my
word shall not pass away. I have caused repentance unto life to be
preached unto you, and ye have not believed. I sent Pagans against you,
who shed your blood, yet ye believed not; and because ye kept not the
Dominical holy day, for a few days ye had famine. But I soon gave you
plenty, and afterwards ye did worse. I will again, that none, from the
ninth hour of the Sabbath,[34] until the rising of the sun on Monday, do
work anything, unless what is good, which, if any do, let him amend by

"And if ye be not obedient to this command, amen, I say unto you, and I
swear unto you, by my seat and throne, and cherubim, who keep my holy
seat, because I will not command anything by another epistle, but I will
open the heavens, and for rain I will rain upon you stones, and logs of
wood, and hot water by night, that none may be able to prevent, that I
may destroy all wicked men. This I say unto you; ye shall die the death;
because of the holy Dominical day, and other festivals of my saints,
which ye have not kept, I will send unto you beasts having the heads of
women, and the tails of camels; and they shall be so hunger-starved that
they shall devour your flesh."

There is more of this wretched stuff; but let this suffice as a specimen
of the arts and intrigues used to impose upon the simple and
unsuspecting, by a forged letter purporting to be from heaven.

The same author goes on to state that "the king and government of
England opposed the discontinuance of the markets upon the Dominical
day, and required that those who observed it in such a way should be
brought to the king's court to make satisfaction, or otherwise purge
themselves of the observance of the Dominical day."

In this connexion I will just add a few more expedients of the Romanists
at that time to deceive the people of England into a superstitious
veneration for the first day.

"But our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we ought to obey rather than man, who,
made famous and exceedingly renowned, dedicated unto himself this day,
which we call the Dominical or Lord's day, by his birth, and by his
resurrection, by his coming, and by the sending of the Holy Spirit upon
his disciples, he raised up miracles of his virtue, and thus manifested
it upon some transgressors of the Dominical day:

"Upon a certain Sabbath, after the ninth hour, a certain carpenter in
Beverlac, making a wooden pin against the wholesome admonition of his
wife, being struck with a palsy, fell to the ground. A certain woman,
knitting after the ninth hour of the Sabbath, whilst she was very
anxious to knit out part of her work, falling to the earth, struck with
the palsy, she became dumb. And at Nosfortum, a village of Master Roger
Arundel, a certain man made for himself bread, baked under the ashes, on
the Sabbath, after the ninth hour, and eat of it, and reserved to
himself part until the morning, which when he brake, upon the Dominical
day, blood came out of it. And he that saw it hath given testimony, and
his testimony is true.

"And at Wakefield, upon a certain Sabbath, when a miller, after the
ninth hour, endeavoured to grind corn, suddenly, in the place of meal,
there issued out so great a stream of blood, and the mill-wheel stood
immovable against the vehement impulse of the water; and those who saw
marvelled, saying, 'Forgive, Lord, forgive thy people!' And at
Lincolnshire, a certain woman had prepared dough, or paste, or pudding
pie, which carrying to the oven, after the ninth hour of the Sabbath,
she put into a very hot oven; and when she had drawn it out, she found
it not baked, and she put it again into the oven, made very hot; and on
the morning, and on Monday, when she thought to have found the bread
baked, she found the dough unbaked. Also, in the same province, when a
certain woman had prepared her dough, willing to carry it to the oven,
her husband said, 'It is the Sabbath:—the ninth hour is now past. Let it
alone until Monday.' And the woman, obeying her husband, did as he
commanded, and wrapped the dough in linen, and, in the morning, when she
went to look at the dough, lest it should exceed the vessel, because of
the leaven put into it, she found, by divine will, bread made thereof,
and well baked with material fire. This is a change of the right hand of
the Most High; and although the Almighty Lord, by these and other
miracles of his power, did invite the people to the observation of the
Dominical day, yet the people, fearing more kingly and human power than
divine, and fearing more those who kill the body, and can do no more,
than Him who, after killing the body, can send the soul to hell, and
fearing more to lose earthly things than heavenly, and transitories than
eternals, as a dog to the vomit, returned to keep markets of things
saleable upon the Dominical day."

The term Sabbath, during all this period, was applied exclusively to the
seventh day. Indeed, whenever, for fourteen or fifteen centuries, that
name occurs, it must be understood as applying to the last day of the
week. Up to the present time, on the records of England, particularly on
the Journals of the House of Lords, the highest court of England, all
things entered as done on the seventh day are entered as done die
Sabbati, upon the Sabbath day. From the time of Constantine to the
Reformation, Sunday was never regarded as the Sabbath, nor called by
that sacred name. During all this time, in England, here and there, were
found individuals who observed the Sabbath—the seventh day of the
week—strictly, though exposed to many privations and frequent
persecutions. Of their numbers or their locations we have at present but
very imperfect accounts. The mass of men regarded the Sabbath as
abolished;—Sunday as no Sabbath, but merely a church-holiday, to which
they paid no conscientious regard. With the dawn of the Reformation a
new spirit of inquiry was awakened in regard to the duties of practical
godliness. Among the subjects for discussion we find the Sabbath early
introduced and thoroughly examined. There was one class of reformers
who, dwelling alone on the sufficiency of faith and the freeness of the
Gospel, trembled at the thought of imposing rules upon men, and
expressed a sort of holy horror at the term, "law." Of this description
were Luther and Calvin. It is well known that the former recommended to
Christians "to ride, dance, and feast," on Sunday, rather than to submit
to any infringement of the liberty of conscience. But there were others,
who contended that an institution given in Paradise, and enforced by one
of the commandments of the Decalogue, could not have been abolished;
yet, finding themselves in the dilemma of observing another day than
that originally appointed, they maintained that the day had been changed
so early as to justify us in allowing it. A third class contended that
an institution so early given, and so often enforced, could not have
been abolished or changed without explicit authority; that this explicit
authority had never been given; and, therefore, the seventh day of the
week, and that only, should be observed. Compared with the whole, the
number who acknowledged the perpetuity and morality of the Sabbath, and
manifested a sacred regard for either the first or the seventh day, was
small. However, they were sufficient to prove that wherever the subject
of the Sabbath has been considered, there has always been found those
who, by precept and example, have witnessed for the Sabbath of the
fourth commandment.

In 1595, a book was written and published by Dr. Bound, in which the
morality of the Sabbath, and a change of the day, was advocated in quite
a masterly manner. This excited a controversial spirit, and was soon
followed by many others, both for and against his view. The orthodoxal
doctrine of the Church of England, by bishops and historians, then was,
that the Sabbath had been abolished, and that the Lord's day, so called,
was altogether another institution, which could not be enforced by the
fourth commandment. Among the men who held this view, we may mention Dr.
Francis White, Lord Bishop of Ely, Dr. Peter Heylyn, Edward Brerewood,
Gilbert Ironsides, and others. Against these men were arrayed the
leading Puritans, who maintained the morality of the Sabbath and the
necessity of restraining men by the sanctions of the fourth commandment.
Many true Sabbatarians, however, stood opposed to both these parties,
maintaining not only the morality of the Sabbath, but the obligation to
observe the seventh day of the week. A work supporting this view, from
the pen of Theophilus Brabourne, appeared in 1628. He took the position
that the fourth commandment was simply and entirely moral; that the
seventh day of the week ought to be an everlasting holyday in the
Christian Church; and that the Sunday is an ordinary working day, which
it is superstition and will-worship to make the Sabbath of the fourth
commandment. This view was adopted by considerable numbers in England,
and has been represented from that day to this, by men of learning and
piety. Many who remained in connexion with the established church, were
conscientious observers of the seventh day Sabbath, among whom were
several ministers of piety, and authors of eminence.

About the same time, small dissenting parties began to organize churches
and to boldly maintain the worship of God upon the Sabbath. Of these the
Natton Church has been much celebrated. It is situated in the west of
England, near Tewksbury, and about fifteen miles from Gloucester,
thirty-five from Birmingham, and ninety from London. The first pastor of
this church whose name has come down to us was Mr. John Purser. He is
represented as a very worthy man, and a great sufferer for conscience
sake. He was descended from an honourable family, and was heir to a
considerable estate, but his father disinherited him because he observed
the seventh day for the Sabbath. Notwithstanding this wrong, it pleased
Divine Providence to bless him abundantly in the little that he
possessed. He became a respectable farmer, and lived at
Ashton-upon-Carrant, in the Parish of Ashchurch, in the county of
Gloucester, during the reigns of Charles and James the Second. In common
with other nonconformists, he experienced much oppression and great
opposition on account of his religion. At one time his persecutors came
upon him while he was engaged in ploughing a field, and took from him
his team and utensils of husbandry. Notwithstanding the severity of the
laws against dissenters, the officers, in many instances, far exceeded
their commission, and sometimes were made to suffer for it. Such was the
case in this instance; for one William Surman, Esq., a conformist, but
worthy man, seeing the cruelty and injustice of thus depriving an honest
man of his property and the means for procuring a livelihood, obliged
his adversaries to return the property thus wrongfully taken. It appears
from authentic testimonies that he suffered much during the persecutions
between 1660 and 1690. But he overcame all by faith and patience, and
came out of the furnace like gold doubly refined.

It is probable that Mr. Purser commenced his ministry in 1660, but did
not receive ordination until some years later. In the mean time one Mr.
Cowell was the chief preacher at Natton, and an author of some eminence,
having published a book entitled "The Snare Broken," which seems to have
occasioned considerable difficulty between the observers of the first
and seventh day. Mr. Cowell appears to have been rather wavering and
unstable, but withal a pious and well-meaning man. He departed this life
in 1680, when Mr. Purser took the principal charge of the church. The
Sabbatarians at this time were widely scattered. There was no
meeting-house, and Mr. Purser opened his dwelling for that purpose. He
also held meetings at various other private houses, in different places,
by which those living at a distance were accommodated by his labours. It
may be remarked, that although this worthy man steadily pursued the
occupation of husbandry, and reared a large family, he faithfully served
the church. While his hands were industriously employed, his meditations
were upon things above, and upon these occasions he was highly favoured
with manifestations of the divine presence. All his children and
grandchildren were also distinguished for virtue and piety, though many
of them adopted the first day for the sake of convenience, and became
worthy members of Baptist churches. Mr. Purser, through age and
infirmity, was unable to discharge the duties of the sacred office for
some time before his death, which occurred in 1720.

His successor, Mr. Edmund Townsend, was plain and unobtrusive in his
manners, but was highly respected for his candour and integrity. Soon
after his ordination he took up his residence for a time with the
Mill-Yard Church; and then, in 1727, accepted an invitation to become
the pastor of the Cripplegate fraternity, which had been left destitute
by the death of Joseph Stennett.

When Mr. Townsend left this church, he was succeeded by Mr. Philip
Jones, who discharged the duties pertaining to this sacred office for
nearly fifty years. His colleague, Mr. Thomas Boston, was a young man of
great promise and usefulness. Mr. Jones lived for several years at
Cheltenham, but held meetings at Natton, Panford, and other towns, for
the purpose of accommodating members living at each of those places. In
1731, he removed to Upton, but continued his ministry in different
places. In this way he encountered many difficulties, sometimes having
to travel in the worst of weather, and at others running great risks
from the floods of the Severn and Avon. Yet neither dangers nor
inconveniences were suffered to interfere with his duty. His character
has been thus given by a contemporary: "He was a holy man of God, and a
great and lively preacher of the gospel. Few were better acquainted with
the scriptures; for, whatever his subject was, he could have chapter and
verse to prove the whole. In short he was a living concordance; a man of
unblemished character, a sincere friend, and a faithful reformer, but
always in the spirit of meekness. Perhaps but a few living had a greater
command over the passions than he had."

Previous to the death of this worthy man, in 1770, Mr. Thomas Hiller,
his nephew, accepted the pastoral care of the Baptist church in
Tewksbury, near Natton. He was a Sabbatarian in both opinion and
practice, and consequently was invited to serve the Sabbath-keeping
church at the same time that he remained pastor of the First-day Baptist
church. He accepted the invitation, and continued to minister to both
churches until his death, a few years ago. His ministry is said to have
been successful in both Natton and Tewksbury; although in what that
success was seen it would probably be problematical to determine. The
church over which he presided has become a mere handful, in the greatest
want of spiritual strength and support. Mr. Hiller was doubtlessly a man
of worth, and deeply interested in the Spiritual welfare of both
churches, by whom his memory is still highly venerated; but the history
of his connexion with these fraternities proves that no man can
successfully serve two masters. It is barely possible that a minister of
the gospel, who is at one and the same time the pastor of one church
worshipping on the seventh day of the week, and another church
worshipping on the first day of the week, can be faithful to both. Since
the death of Mr. Hiller, the congregation at Natton have been without a
pastor. However, it has engaged the services of a worthy Baptist
minister from Tewksbury for a considerable time.

It is worthy of note, that, in 1746, Mr. Benjamin Purser, the youngest
son of Rev. John Purser before mentioned, purchased an estate in the
village of Natton, and fitted up, at his own expense, a chapel for
divine worship, adjoining his dwelling-house. It is a small room,
distinguished only for neatness and convenience. He also walled in a
corner of his orchard for a burial-place. When he died, in 1765, he
donated the house and burial-place to the church, together with ten
pounds a year out of his estate to all succeeding ministers. At the
present time the congregation is so small that the chapel is not opened
except upon extraordinary occasions, such as a funeral or the like. It
serves, however, as the depository for a small collection of rare and
valuable books.


A congregation of Sabbatarians, known under that denomination, was
gathered in London by Francis Bampfield, during the reign of Charles the
Second. Mr. Bampfield was descended from an ancient and honourable
family in Devonshire, and was a brother of Thomas Bampfield, Speaker in
one of Cromwell's Parliaments. Having been designed for the ministry
from childhood, he received a classical education, at Wadham College,
Oxford, where he remained for eight years. Subsequently he was provided
with a living in Dorsetshire, and was likewise chosen Prebend of Exeter
Cathedral. Thence he was transferred to the populous town of Sherburne,
where he exerted a most extensive and happy influence among the members
of the established church. In this connexion he continued only a short
time; for beginning to doubt the authority of the church to prescribe
forms of worship, he became in the end a decided nonconformist.
Consequently he was not only ejected from the ministry, but confined in
Dorchester jail, for preaching and conducting religious services
contrary to law. During his imprisonment, which continued about eight
years, his views upon the subjects of the Sabbath and baptism were
materially changed, and he became a decided advocate of Seventh-day
Baptist sentiments. He preached his new opinions boldly to his
fellow-prisoners, and several were led to embrace them. Soon after his
release from Dorchester, Mr. Bampfield went to London, where he preached
the gospel for about ten years. In Bethnal Green, in the eastern parts
of London, he gathered a small church, whose place of meeting was in his
own hired house. This church was organized in 1676, and Mr. Bampfield
continued its pastor until 1682, when he was brought before the Court of
Sessions, on a variety of charges connected with his nonconformity. He
was several times examined, and upon each examination required to take
the oath of allegiance, which he persisted in refusing, alleging that
his conscience would not allow him to take it. This resulted in his
condemnation, the forfeiture of his goods, and a sentence of
imprisonment during life, or what was equivalent, during the king's
pleasure. The anxieties incident to this trial, combined with a
naturally feeble constitution, together with his great privations,
brought on a disease, of which he died in Newgate prison, on the 15th of
February, 1684, aged 68 years.

The imprisonment of Mr. Bampfield was followed by the dispersion of his
flock, but the times becoming more favourable, they reunited in church
fellowship in 1686, and invited Mr. Edward Stennett, of Wallingford, to
accept the pastoral care of their church. He partly complied, coming to
London at stated periods to preach and administer the ordinances, though
he still retained his connexion with the people at Wallingford. But
finding that he could not consistently serve both churches, he resigned
the pastoral care of the London church in 1689. Mr. Stennett is
distinguished as being the ancestor of the famous Stennett family, who
were all Sabbatarians, and were for several generations an ornament to
religion, and champions for the cause of Protestant dissent. Being on
the side of Parliament in the civil wars, he was exposed, in
consequence, to the neglect of his relations and many other
difficulties. Although a faithful minister, he possessed no stated
salary, but supported his family by the practice of physic. He bore a
part in the persecutions which fell upon the Dissenters of that time. In
several instances his escape seems altogether miraculous, and affords a
striking evidence of Divine interposition.

He was succeeded by his second son, Joseph Stennett, who had enjoyed the
advantages of a liberal education. He came to London in 1685, and was
employed for a time in the instruction of youth. His first appearance in
the pulpit created a great sensation. His ministry was eminently
evangelical and faithful; and while preaching constantly to his own
church upon the Sabbath, he almost always waited in the ministry upon
other congregations on the first day. Perhaps no Dissenting minister in
England, at that time, exerted a more powerful influence, or maintained
a higher standing than did Mr. Stennett. He was at different times
appointed by his brethren in the ministry to draw up letters and
addresses of congratulation to be presented to the sovereign upon
particular occasions, Mr. Stennett likewise appeared before the public
as the author of other works, which acquired considerable popularity.
Early in the year 1713, he began to decline, and on the 11th of July
fell asleep, in the forty-ninth year of his age, and the twenty-third of
his ministry.

The death of this worthy man was a particularly disastrous event to his
little flock, who remained for fourteen years without a shepherd, during
which time they generally met for worship with the Mill-Yard Church. But
in 1727, Mr. Edmund Townsend became their spiritual guide, in which
relation he continued until his death in 1763.

Subsequent to the decease of Mr. Townsend, the church, for four years,
was supplied with ministerial assistance by different Baptist ministers,
until Mr. Thomas Whitewood accepted the pastoral office, in June, 1767.
His race, however, was short; for after preaching three times, and
administering the Lord's Supper once, he was attacked by a fatal
disease, of which he died the ensuing October.

Dr. Samuel Stennett, son of Dr. Joseph Stennett, being at that period
pastor of the Baptist church in Little Wild Street, London, was
solicited to accept the pastoral office. It appears that he complied in
part, performing all the duties without accepting the nominal relation
of pastor. He administered the Lord's Supper, and preached to them
regularly on the Sabbath morning; while the afternoon service was
conducted by four Baptist ministers in rotation, among whom were Dr.
Jenkins and Dr. Rippon.

In 1785, Robert Burnside accepted the pastoral charge of this church, in
which relation he continued forty-one years. Mr. Burnside united to
great natural abilities, a kind and loving heart, by which he was
particularly qualified to impart instruction. He became tutor, at
different periods, to the sons of several of the nobility, and
discharged the duties attendant upon that difficult office in a manner
honourable to himself, and advantageous to his pupils. He also prepared
several works for the press; among which was a volume on the subject of
the Sabbath. He died in 1826, and was succeeded by John Brittain
Shenstone, whose early labours had been in connexion with First-day
Baptist churches. For more than forty years he was connected with the
Board of Baptist ministers in London, of which he appears to have been
the principal projector and main support. He commenced the observation
of the Sabbath in 1825, and upon the decease of Mr. Burnside accepted
the pastoral care of the church, which he continued to serve until his
death, in 1844. Since that event this church has been without a pastor,
and is in a very low and enfeebled condition.


This church is located in the eastern part of London, but of its
founder, or the date of its origin, our accounts are very imperfect and
unsatisfactory. The present records, in possession of the church, date
back to 1673; but as they refer to another book which had been
previously used, it is certain that the church was organized much
earlier. Indeed, we have every reason to believe that this church is a
perpetuation of the fraternity gathered by John James, the martyr, which
originally met in Bull-Steak Alley, Whitechapel. We shall therefore
consider Mr. James as the first pastor of this church. On the 19th day
of October, 1661, while in the midst of a warm and fervent discourse, an
officer entered the place of worship, forcibly ejected him from the
pulpit, and led him away to the police under a strong guard. Thirty
members of his congregation were likewise taken before a bench of
justices, then convened at a public house in the vicinity, where each
one was required to take the oath of allegiance, and those who refused
to comply were committed to prison. Mr. James underwent a long and
tedious examination, when he was committed to Newgate, upon the
testimony of several profligate witnesses, by whom he was accused of
speaking treasonable words against the king. At his trial, which came on
about one month afterwards, his apparent innocence, deep piety, and
resignation, sensibly affected a large concourse of spectators, but
could not soften the obdurate hearts of his judges, by whom he was
sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. He was unaffected by this
horrid sentence, and calmly observed, "Blessed be God, whom man
condemneth, God justifieth." While he lay in prison under sentence of
death, he was visited by several persons of distinction, who were deeply
affected by his patience and resignation, and who cheerfully engaged to
exert their utmost influence to secure his pardon. But he appears to
have been too well acquainted with the power and designs of his enemies,
to have entertained much hopes of their success.

Mrs. James, by the advice of her friends, was induced to present a
petition twice to the king, setting forth her husband's innocence, and
entreating his majesty to grant a pardon. But in both instances she was
repulsed with scoffs and ridicule. At the scaffold, on the day of his
execution, he addressed the people in a very sensible and affectionate
manner. Having finished the address, and kneeling down, he thanked God
for covenant mercies, and for conscious innocence. He then prayed for
all, both his friends and his enemies, for the executioner, for the
people of God, for the spectators, for his church, and his family, and
lastly, for himself, that he might enjoy a sense of the divine presence
and support in this his hour of trial, and entrance into glory. When he
had finished, the executioner, who was much affected, said, "The Lord
receive your soul;" to which Mr. James replied, "I thank you." A friend
then observed to him, "This is a happy day for you;" he replied, "I
thank God it is." He then thanked the sheriff for his courtesy, and bade
farewell to his friends; then saying, "Father, into thy hands I commit
my spirit," was launched into eternity. But the rage of the bigoted
tyrant did not end here. His heart was taken from his body and burned,
his body itself quartered, and the mutilated parts affixed to the gates
of the city, and his head set up in Whitechapel, on a pole opposite to
the alley in which his meeting-house stood.

At the time when the present record of this church commences, 1673,
William Sellers exercised the pastoral function. The church was then in
a flourishing condition; the members being quite numerous, and strict
discipline maintained. Mr. Sellers was probably the author of a work on
the Sabbath, in review of Dr. Owen, which appeared in 1671. His ministry
is supposed to have continued until 1678. He was succeeded by Mr.
Toursby, who was a man of considerable controversial talent, which he
exercised in defence of the Sabbath. He prepared a work for the press
upon that subject, but it is believed that it has long been out of
print. His ministry ceased in 1710.

About this time two persons named Slater preached occasionally, though
it does not appear that they were ever ordained.

Mr. Savage, in 1711, accepted the pastoral office. His colleague, the
venerable John Maulden, had long been the pastor of a Baptist Church in
Goodman's Fields, which he left on account of his having embraced
Sabbatarian principles. After the decease of these worthy men, the
pastoral office was vacant for some time, during which the preaching
brethren officiated in the ministry in a manner prescribed at the
business meetings of the church. In 1720, Dr. Joseph Stennett was
invited to accept the pastoral care of this church. He was then
presiding over a Baptist Church in Exeter, and after considerable delay
declined the call.

Mr. Robert Cornthwaite became their pastor in 1726. He had been
connected with the Established Church, but becoming convinced that the
gospel did not authorize any such establishment, he withdrew from its
communion and identified himself with the dissenters. Becoming
interested in the Sabbath controversy he soon decided for the seventh
day, and was chosen pastor of this church, in which relation he
continued until his death in 1754. He was distinguished for great mental
vigour, and a firm adherence to whatever he deemed true and scriptural.
He published several works relating to the Sabbath, which greatly
contributed to draw attention to that important subject.

Daniel Noble, his successor, was a member of a Sabbath-keeping family,
and being designed for the ministry, received the advantages of a
liberal education. His studies were pursued first in London, and
afterward at the Glasgow University. He commenced preaching occasionally
at Mill-Yard in 1752, took the pastoral charge when that office became
vacant, in which connexion he remained until his death in 1783.

At this time William Slater, a member of the church, was invited to
conduct the services. This he did with such general acceptance that he
received ordination, and became the pastor of the church. His ministry
was very successful, and continued until he died, in 1819.

For several years ensuing that event the church was without a pastor,
being supplied with ministerial assistance by brethren of other
denominations, until William Henry Black, the present incumbent, became
its spiritual guide. Through the pious liberality of one of its members,
the Mill-Yard Church enjoys the benefit of an endowment. Mr. Joseph
Davis, who united in its connexion at the time that John James suffered
martyrdom, purchased, in 1691, the grounds adjoining the present
Mill-Yard Church, erected the place of worship, and provided for the
permanency of the society. This property was conveyed to trustees,
appointed by the church, in 1700. In 1706, shortly before his death, Mr.
Davis bequeathed his property to his son, with an annual rent-charge in
favour of the Mill-Yard Church, together with seven other Sabbatarian
churches in England. He likewise provided, conditionally, that his whole
property might afterward come into the possession of the church, and be
vested in trustees for its benefit. Mr. Davis, in the earlier part of
his life, had suffered extremely from severe persecutions. He was a
prisoner in Oxford Castle for nearly ten years, from which he was
released in 1673. Subsequently he entered into business in London, where
prosperity attended him, and he not only obtained a competence, but
became a wealthy man. Few have made a more laudable use of riches, and I
would say to the reader, go thou, and do likewise.

A short account of some of the most eminent among those who embraced
Sabbatarianism previous to the organization of these churches, may be
interesting to the general reader.

Shortly after the publication of Dr. Bound's book, in which he advanced
the modern notion regarding the so-called Christian Sabbath, that it is
a perpetuation of the fourth commandment, but that the day specified
therein had been changed by divine authority, we first hear of John
Traske, who both wrote and spoke in defence of the seventh day.

He also contended that the scriptures are sufficient to direct in
religious services, and that the state has no right to prescribe any
ordinances contrary to the laws of God. For this he was brought before
the Star-Chamber, where a long discussion was held respecting the
Sabbath, in which Dr. Andrews, Bishop of Winchester, took a prominent
part. Traske could not be turned from his opinion, but received a
censure in the Star-Chamber. "He was sentenced on account of his being a
Sabbatarian," says Paggitt's Heresiography, "to be set upon the Pillory
at Westminster, and from thence to be whipped to the Fleet Prison, there
to remain a prisoner for three years. His wife, Mrs. Traske, was
confined in Maiden Lane and the Gate House Prisons fifteen years, where
she died, for the same crime."

Another distinguished advocate for the truth was Theophilus Brabourne, a
learned minister in connexion with the Established Church. He wrote a
book, which was published in London in 1628, wherein he argued that the
Lord's Day is not the Sabbath by divine institution, but "that the
seventh day is still in force." For this, and similar works, he was
arraigned before the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Court of
High Commission. His examination was conducted in the presence of many
persons of high distinction, and several lords of his Majesty's Privy
Council. For some reason, it is not possible to ascertain distinctly
what, though probably he was over-awed by the character of the assembly,
he signed a recantation and went back to the bosom of the church.
Nevertheless he continued to assert, that if the Sabbatic institution be
indeed moral and perpetually binding, the seventh day ought to be
sacredly kept.

About the same time, it appears that Philip Pandy commenced propagating
the same doctrines in the northern parts of England. He was educated in
the Established Church, of which he became a minister. He withdrew from
its communion, however, and became the mark for many shots. He held
several important disputes about his peculiar sentiments, and
contributed much to promulgate them.

James Ockford, another early advocate of the Sabbath in England, appears
to have taken part in the discussions in which Traske and Brabourne were
engaged. He also wrote and published a book in 1642, which was seized
and burned by the authorities of the Established Church.

There does not appear to have been any regularly organized churches of
Sabbatarians in England, until the commencement of the seventeenth
century, though subsequent to that period there were eleven of these
fraternities, besides many scattered Sabbath-keepers, in different parts
of the kingdom. These churches were located in the following places,
viz.: Braintree, in Essex; Chersey; Norweston; Salisbury, in Wiltshire;
Sherbourne, in Buckinghamshire; Natton, in Gloucestershire; Wallingford,
in Berkshire; Woodbridge, in Suffolk; and three in London—the Mill-Yard,
Cripplegate, and Pinner's Hall Churches. Eight of the eleven are now
extinct, and hence a complete account of them cannot be obtained.

A very interesting correspondence between the Mill-Yard Church and the
General Conference of the Seventh-day Baptists in the United States has
been carried on for the last fifty years. In 1844, George B. Utter, as
delegate from that body, visited the brethren in England, where he was
hospitably entertained. The worthy pastor of the Mill-Yard Church is, I
understand, collecting materials for a history of the Lives and Writings
of Sabbatarians in England, and likewise preparing a list of Sabbatarian
authors, together with an account of all the books which have been
published that relate to the Sabbath controversy.

From an attention to the foregoing it will be perceived that
Sabbatarianism has greatly declined in England; and that decline seems
to have been produced by the operation of a variety of causes. There are
certainly great inconveniences, particularly in large towns and cities,
connected with the observance of a day of rest so utterly at variance
with the popular custom as that of the seventh day has ever been. This,
with that spirit of conformity by which men are ever prone to accede to
established usages, together with the fact that they never instituted
any associational organization, sufficiently accounts for their early
declension, without supposing any unsoundness in their creed.[35]

We have every reason to believe that formerly, and down so late as the
commencement of the seventeenth century, Seventh-day Baptist churches,
of considerable magnitude, existed at the foot of the Grampians, and
among the Welsh mountains, but their history appears to be buried in

I have also been recently informed that there is a Seventh-day Baptist
church near Burton-upon-Trent, and nine miles from Derby. That a Mr.
Witt, in 1832, officiated as pastor. That they own a large brick
meeting-house, in which their meetings are solemnized every Sabbath day,
and are a very respectable body of people.

[15] Historical Annals, published in Paris, 1667, p. 230.

[16] With the former inhabitants of the valleys, whom they closely
resembled in principles and practices, and to whom, in times of
persecution, they would naturally fly for refuge.

[17] This accusation was undoubtedly false, and reminds one of the
endless charges of a community of wives, made at a later period against
the Anabaptists.

[18] Here is a vast field for research, of which the world is just
beginning to discover the importance. The martyrs, with the exception of
those who were destroyed by mobs, by clandestine malevolence, and local
crusades, were allowed formal trials according to the established usages
of law, which were generally in conformity to the Roman system of
jurisprudence. In these records of the old ecclesiastical courts, the
charges against them, with their apologies and confessions, are detailed
at length. Some of these documents have already been examined, but
multitudes of others lie concealed in the galleries of ancient

[19] Reineirus, under the title of Waldenses, includes all the heretics
of that period, Pasaginians, Albigenses, Waldenses, Josephists,
Arnoldists, Henricians, &c., from which it appears that these names were
derived from local causes.

[20] This of course included the keeping of the first day, which the
Catholics unanimously declare originated with their church.

[21] In the time of Reineirus, and even to this day, in Catholic
countries, the Dominical day is regarded as a feast, or festival of the
church, as much as Easter, Christmas, &c.

[22] These are particularly mentioned by Crantz, in his History of the
Bohemian Brethren.

[23] This is important testimony, because the Catholics never dreamed of
attempting to establish the sacredness of the first day from the
authority of the Scriptures, but referred it at once to the power of
Holy Mother Church. Consequently, the Dominical day was regarded as a
holyday of the church.

[24] It remained for more modern theologians to discover, that the
inspired writers were mistaken, and that instead of the seventh, it was
a seventh day, or the seventh part of time.

[25] First-day doubtlessly included, which is ever spoken of, by the
Catholic writers, as a festival of Christ, and a holyday of the Church,
and regarded in no other light.

[26] Of this I would remark that the Dominical day was established by
law, not as the Sabbath, but as a festival of the church; and that
whatever uncertainty may exist about all the ancient heretics being
Sabbatarians, it is very certain that few, if any, of them were
observers of the first day, at least for a very long period.

[27] That the Catholic writers regarded the Dominical day as a festival
of the Church can be very easily proved. That they regard it as such to
this day in Catholic countries is an undeniable fact. When they speak of
the festivals of the Church, they include the Dominical day as much as
Christmas, Palm Sunday, or Easter. They smile when they hear learned
Protestant sages attempt to prove from the Scriptures either the
abrogation or a change of the Sabbath. We have also the testimony of a
host of Protestants in the earlier part of the Reformation, who
acknowledged that the observation of the first day had no other
foundation than the authority of the Church, among whom is the
celebrated John Calvin, who says—"The old fathers put in the place of
the Sabbath the day which we call Sunday. King Charles I. declares that
the celebration of the feast of Easter was instituted by the same
authority that changed the Sabbath into the Lord's day, or Sunday; for
it will not be found in Scripture where Saturday is discharged to be
kept, or turned into Sunday. Therefore, my opinion is, that those who
will not keep this feast may as well return to the observation of
Saturday, and refuse the weekly Sunday, since it was the Church's
authority that changed the one and instituted the other."

[28] Robinson. History of Baptism.

[29] All writers, both ancient and modern, concur in admitting that the
branch of the Waldenses called Passagines, were Sabbatarians.

[30] Reference to Revelation.

[31] That is, that they were adopted from the ancient heathen festivals;
and as the Dominical day was in that time regarded as a festival of the
church, of course it must have been included with the others.

[32] Will not Balaam, the son of Bozor, rise up in judgment against
these men? For, though he loved the wages of unrighteousness, he had
enough of the fear of God before his eyes to make him hesitate about
cursing those whom God had not cursed. These, however, are bold in
cursing those whom God has blessed,—such as observe his Sabbath.

[33] The Anabaptists had not the power of persecution; for their
disposition, particularly in some cases, I would not be answerable.

[34] Observe, the seventh day is called the Sabbath.

[35] I have been informed that there is at this time a small society of
Seventh-day people in the west part of England, in the vicinity of
St. Asaph, but will not vouch for the accuracy of the statement.



The Seventh-day Baptist churches in the United States occupy isolated
situations in different parts of the Union, and are distinguished from
other religious denominations by certain distinctive views relative to
the immutability of every precept of the moral law.

The term Sabbatarian was formerly adopted by those of the same
persuasion in England, subsequent to the Reformation, when the word
Sabbath was applied exclusively to the seventh day of the week, and
those observant of it as holy time were regarded as the only
Sabbath-keepers. This term, though highly expressive of the main Sabbath
doctrine, was, on account of its supposed indefiniteness, rejected by
the General Conference of the American Churches, in 1818, and the
appellation of Seventh-day Baptist, which was considered more generally
expressive, adopted in its stead.

The differences existing between the Seventh-day Baptists and the other
Baptist denominations, all relate to the Sabbatical ordinance. In
respect to this the former believe that no system of morality can be
complete which does not include time devoted to God and religious
worship; that the seventh day was particularly appropriated and set
apart for this purpose in Paradise, and was designed, not for any one
class or race of men, but for all mankind; that it forms a necessary
part of the moral law, which is immutable and unchangeable in its
nature, and of universal obligation; that no other day was substituted
for this by divine authority at the introduction of Christianity; that
the first day is nowhere mentioned in the sacred volume as possessing a
divine character; that whatever respect was paid to it in the primitive
ages originated from the supposition that it was the weekly anniversary
of the glorious triumph of the risen Saviour, and not from the idea of
its being the Sabbath; and that the substitution of the first for the
seventh day, as holy time, was brought about by the Antichristian power,
who, according to the word of prophecy, was to usurp the prerogatives of
the Deity, and change times and laws.

These opinions, though countenanced by Holy Writ, and perfectly
agreeable with many historical records, are directly in opposition to
the popular prejudices of the day, and, consequently, their
conscientious supporters have been exposed, sometimes, to downright
persecution in the shape of fines and imprisonment, and at others, to
the equally cruel, though less ostensible, suffering imposed by
vituperative sarcasm and disingenuous ridicule.

We have all heard of a very expressive proverb, importing that the world
will think of us just as we think ourselves. Perhaps the seventh-day
people have not made sufficient exhibitions of self-gratulation. Perhaps
they have walked too contentedly down the valley of humiliation,
involved in the shadows of obscurity. Certain it is, that they have
striven to make themselves acceptable to God rather than to men; that
they have been distinguished more for morality, good sense, and quiet,
unobtrusive manners, than for brilliant, but superficial, attainments;
and that they have been rewarded, not by outbursts of popular applause,
not by a rising upon them of the sun of worldly prosperity, but by the
sweet consciousness of doing right, and a slow but steady progress in
Christian knowledge and acquirements. The Seventh-day Baptist churches
have been blessed and honoured by the labours and example of a
succession of worthy ministers. Men, pre-eminently qualified to break
the bread of life, and administer the milk of the word;—men truly
apostolic in simplicity and purity of doctrine, in fervour of piety and
zeal. True, they have not been distinguished for the wisdom of this
world. They have not rejoiced in the learning of Bossuet, neither have
they exhibited the eloquence of Bourdalone, Massillon, or Whitefield;
but they have adhered steadily to the truth, have been uncompromising in
opposition to error, and little prone to seek worldly honours and
emoluments. Few of them have ever grown rich except in grace; indeed,
the possibility of opulence was precluded by the cost of living, and the
smallness of their salaries. The same has also operated to prevent the
accumulation of large libraries by the ministry, or their devoting much
time to learned research or literary pursuits.

Few denominations of Christians have been equally distinguished for
fraternal feeling and unanimity of sentiment;—in no one has society
assumed a more healthy and moral tone. Industry, frugality, and
integrity, are their leading characteristics; mendicity is rare among
them, and squalid poverty unknown.

Man is eminently a social being. No one perceives, perhaps no one
apprehends, how much society contributes to strengthen and perfect the
noblest virtues and highest attainments. The affections are particularly
under the control and guidance of social influences. The interchange of
the forms of hospitality and courtesy powerfully promotes the growth of
friendship and kindliness of feeling. Consequently, social worship is of
the highest importance to every Christian fraternity; and nothing is
more productive of congeniality of sentiment and unity of design between
churches of the same faith and order than frequent convocations for
mutual encouragement and edification. The Seventh-day Baptists were
aware of this, and, accordingly, when the church in Newport, R. I.,
organized a part of its members into a separate and distinct body, now
known as the First Hopkinton Church, it was stipulated that an annual
interview should take place, which was subsequently known as the yearly
meeting. Thus was formed a little confederacy, whose bounds gradually
enlarged as new churches were instituted, until it included the parent
churches of Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. These
meetings were held alternately at different places, and were usually
attended by the ministers and other leading members of the respective
churches, who generally travelled at their own expense, and spent some
time in this social and religious visit. The consequences of this
interchange of Christian sympathies and feelings were every way
delightful. The bonds of union were cemented, many pleasing
acquaintances were formed, and a warm and growing attachment to the
Sabbath, and the cause of truth, increased in the minds of all. So early
as 1800, the churches composing this denomination began to consider the
expediency of establishing some formal ecclesiastical organization. This
was considered the more necessary in consequence of certain differences
in some doctrinal sentiments that prevailed to a considerable extent.
The question was, under consideration until 1805, when, at a meeting
convened at Hopkinton, certain articles of union were agreed upon, and
subscribed by delegates from eight sister churches; and thus an
ecclesiastical body for the transaction of business was formed, which
was denominated the General Conference.

The second session of this venerable body was held at Berlin, the third
at Cohansey, now Shiloh, and the fourth again at Hopkinton. In 1808, the
Lost Creek and New Salem churches, in Virginia, united with the
Conference, which subsequently received continual and almost annual

The meetings of this body were solemnized alternately from place to
place, and were attended with the most happy consequences. Before the
venerable body, whose members were uniformly distinguished for
integrity, candour, and piety, all difficult cases were brought for
consideration and adjustment. Here divisions were reconciled, schisms
healed, and such differences as appeared likely to disturb the general
peace removed. Here, also, religious and benevolent enterprises were
projected and recommended to the churches for their action and
consideration. The authority of the General Conference was subject to
several limitations, which will be perceived by attending to the form
and government of the Sabbatarian fraternities. Every church is in
itself a distinct body, capable of transacting its own concerns, of
receiving or expelling members, of appointing its own pastor and other
officers, fixing their salaries, and suspending their ministrations in
case of impiety or gross immorality. The internal regulations of these
churches are simple and democratic, every member being equally entitled
to a vote, and the pastor, except by the superior respect attached to
his station, having no more voice, and exercising no more influence in
business affairs, than a private individual. It could not be expected
that these churches, after having experienced the benefits of their
equal and impartial government, would accede to the establishment of any
ecclesiastical organization that might tend to subvert their
independence, or to centralize in an extraneous body the authority which
was then disseminated through and exercised by the members of the
churches themselves. Accordingly, we find that the right to choose,
elect, and ordain their own deacons was still retained by the churches,
as well as the privilege of specifying from their numbers such
candidates for the ministry as appeared eligible for that sacred office,
which specification and appointment, being submitted to the Presbytery
(a board of ministers appointed for that purpose), by whom the
qualifications, talents, and character, of the candidate is examined,
which examination proving satisfactory, he is forthwith ordained by the
laying on of hands.

Neither has the Conference any right to institute a judicial
investigation of any difficulties that may arise between individual
members and the churches to which they belong, nor to attempt any
interference with dissensions between sister churches, except by special
and particular invitation, and unless the subject has been previously
laid before the respective churches, and their delegates to the
Conference instructed to take cognizance of the matter.

Such churches of the Sabbatarian order as desired admission into this
confederacy, were required to furnish a written exposition of their
doctrinal sentiments respecting regeneration by the Holy Spirit,
justification by faith, and salvation through the merits of Jesus
Christ, which, proving satisfactory, the right hand of fellowship was
extended to their delegate on behalf of the Conference. Here we may
observe that this proceeding was not calculated nor intended to
establish any inquisitorial censorship of doctrinal views, but to
perpetuate good order, unanimity of sentiment, and purity of faith.

At the time of the organization of the General Conference, there were
several churches of Seventh-day Baptists who remained aloof from that
confederacy. Of these, one was situated in a very pleasant country, on
the west fork of the Monongahela River, in Harrison County, Virginia.
This church, in 1808, sent a letter to the Conference, requesting
admission into that body, but stating their practice of receiving
first-day members. In consequence of this, their reception was
postponed, and an admonitory message upon the subject prepared and sent
to them. This church soon fell into a decline; its members removed into
other parts, and it finally became extinct.

With the exception of the minutes of the General Conference, and one or
two other works scarcely deserving of consideration, the Seventh-day
Baptists made no attempt to form a denominational literature until 1820,
when an association of ministers edited and published a periodical
designated the Missionary Magazine. About the same time a collection of
hymns for the use of the denomination was made, which met with very
general acceptance and applause. After the publication of the magazine
had been continued for two or three years, various causes contributed to
render the further prosecution of the enterprise inexpedient and
unadvisable. Upon the discontinuance of the magazine, the necessity of a
denominational literary organ was very generally felt, but engagements
in other pursuits, fears of pecuniary losses, and other causes, operated
to prevent the enterprise until 1827, when Deacon John Maxson, of Scott,
projected and brought into successful operation a weekly newspaper,
called the Protestant Sentinel, which, by untiring energy and
perseverance, he succeeded in supporting and publishing for several
years. The paper was first issued at Homer, then at Schenectady, and
finally at De Ruyter. To Deacon Maxson, the publication of this paper
appears to have been, from the first, a losing concern. His engagement
in the enterprise was not undertaken with the view of expectation of
pecuniary profit. He was influenced by considerations far more sacred
and important. No doubt in the advantages secured by that enterprise to
his brethren he feels amply repaid for all his toils and difficulties;
for a man of his benevolent heart and amiable disposition ever forgets
all personal considerations in the general good.

When the press was removed to De Ruyter, Deacon Maxson resigned the
editorial charge, which passed in a very short period through several
hands; the paper bearing the name of The Seventh-day Baptist Register.
Even here its location was not considered as the most favourable, and
many supposed that the city of New York would afford a more eligible
situation. To that place, therefore, in 1844, it was removed, and the
Rev. George B. Utter assumed the editorial chair, since which removal it
has borne the name of The Sabbath Recorder.

The denomination became early aware of the utility of tract
publications, and the General Conference in 1831, recommended the
formation of tract societies in the different churches, which should
become auxiliary to a general tract executive committee, annually
appointed by that body, to procure, examine, and publish such tracts as
in their opinion might be desirable. In compliance with this suggestion,
such organizations were instituted in nearly all the churches, and
several tracts were procured and printed. But the tract cause, like that
of the denominational paper, laboured under much discouragement and
great embarrassment. As a means for disseminating Christian truth and
knowledge, it does not seem, even yet, to be duly appreciated. The want
of available funds crippled its operations, and lessened its usefulness;
nevertheless it continued to support a nominal existence until 1843,
when it was remodelled and reorganized under the name of the Sabbath
Tract Society, since which period its activity and usefulness have been
abundantly exhibited. It has a series of stereotyped tracts, of which
editions are published according to the means and demands of the
society. In connexion with this, is a publishing society, recently
organized, that has issued several publications not connected with the
series, but all relating to the Sabbath controversy. The denominational
paper is also published under the auspices of this society; and it is
believed that whatever obstacles may have impeded the progress of our
publishing interests, they are rapidly disappearing before the
development of our literary resources.

The utility of missionary organizations engaged, at a very early period,
the attention of the General Conference. At this time it was the
practice of the individual churches to depute their ministers to make
short journeys, of which they generally defrayed the expense. The
inefficiency of this course had become painfully manifest, and it
remained for the Conference to devise some plan by which the missionary
efforts of the denomination could be concentrated. The subject was under
consideration for two or three years, and finally resulted in the
organization of the Seventh-day Baptist Missionary Society. By reference
to the constitution of this society, which bears the date of 1819, it
appears that its object was to consolidate the funds and concentrate the
efforts of the denomination, in order to promote the interests of
religion by employing missionaries and sending them to the destitute and
scattered brethren in our fellowship. This society, notwithstanding its
laudable object, was destined to meet with many difficulties and
embarrassments. The poverty of some of the churches, and the
unwillingness of others to contribute, were serious obstacles in the way
of its accomplishment of the good it had purposed to perform. Yet under
its auspices, several missionaries were annually appointed, for three,
six, or nine months, to occupy such fields of labour as appeared most
eligible, and generally embracing visitations to Sabbath-keepers who
were removed to distant localities. These journeys, though attended in
the sequel with the happiest results, often required no small share of
personal sacrifice and inconvenience on the part of the performer.
Difficulties were always to be encountered; many times dangers. These
were greatly enhanced, from the fact that the missionary field generally
lay in some new region, where the forests were as destitute of roads as
the rivers of bridges, and where the uniformity of the one might prove
quite as perplexing to the wanderer, as the swollen tides of the other
might render dangerous the unaccustomed ford. Not unfrequently
circumstances required the performance of these journeys in the winter
season, when every discomfort was proportionately increased.

These missionaries held meetings, organized churches where such a course
seemed expedient, and administered baptism to believers. Sometimes their
visits to the destitute would be attended by a gracious revival, but at
all times were accompanied with gratifying results. But the
embarrassments of the society continued, and finally, in 1841, it was
formally extinguished, in order to make room for another, whose
regulations, it was conceived, were more judicious, and which commenced
operations in 1842. To the domestic this adds a foreign field. Under its
direction, Messrs. Solomon Carpenter and Nathan Wardner, with their
wives, are labouring at Shanghai, in China, and the mission, with which
a small school, under the management of the excellent Mrs. Wardner, is
connected, is in a highly flourishing condition. The Board are
collecting funds to build a chapel for public worship, to purchase an
eligible site for which, about one thousand dollars have been already
despatched to that country.

A Seventh-day Baptist society for the dissemination of religious truth
among the Jews, took a permanent form in 1838, and Elder William B.
Maxson was appointed to labour, under its direction, with that ancient
and bigoted people. The success of this enterprise was not proportionate
to the anticipation indulged, although probably as great as could have
been expected, had all the difficulties and obstacles of the mission
been fully considered. In connexion with this society, a small work on
the prophetic character of the Messiah was published, and many copies
gratuitously distributed among the Jews. Recently this society has only
supported a nominal existence.

The attention of the Seventh-day Baptists was early called to the
subject of education, and two institutions of a high classical
character, have been established among them. Of these, one is located at
Alfred, Alleghany County, New York, and is denominated the Alfred
Academy and Teachers' Seminary; the other at De Ruyter, New York, was
founded in 1837, at an expense of near thirty thousand dollars. The
first has a charter from the state, and both have acquired a high
reputation, and furnish the means of a classical education to a large
number of students. Besides these, academic schools have been projected
and brought into successful operation in other sections, in connexion
with our denomination.

The Sabbatarians have repeatedly taken action in their ecclesiastical
bodies, against war, intemperance, slavery, secret societies, and the
like, and in favour of the great moral reforms and benevolent
enterprises of the age.

Within the last twenty years a very interesting correspondence has been
carried on with the Sabbatarians of England, through the medium of Rev.
Robert Burnside, and Rev. William Henry Black.

About 1830, the great increase of business, as well as the scattered
situation of the churches, seemed to justify, in the opinion of many,
some modification of a general annual Conference. It was therefore
proposed to divide the denomination into two Conferences, according to
their geographical position. When the subject came up for action, it was
judged most expedient to continue the Conference, but to divide the
churches into Associations, which should meet annually, to transact the
business of the churches within their own bounds, and appoint delegates
to represent them in the General Conference, which, according to a
resolution passed at one of its meetings, convened at Shiloh, in 1846,
is hereafter to meet triennially instead of annually. Five Associations
have been formed, in accordance with this plan,—the Eastern, embracing
the churches in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey,—the Central,
including those in the State of New York, east of the small lakes,—the
Western, composed of the churches in Western New York and
Pennsylvania,—the Southwestern, comprising those in Ohio and
Virginia,—and the Northwestern, including those in Wisconsin and Iowa.
The utility of this arrangement is unquestionable, and, so far as it has
been tested, has been found to answer all the purposes of an Annual
Conference without its disadvantages. But it must not be supposed that
during all this time, the sun of prosperity to this people has been
unclouded; that no difficulties have arisen in their straight and narrow
path. On the contrary, they have been subjected to many and peculiar
trials. They have been despised by the worldly and the great, have been
oppressed by law, and persecuted in more ways than one by those
professing the Christian name. Even now they are subjected to many
inconveniences from their nonconformity, and are deprived of many social
and literary privileges that they might otherwise enjoy. In
consideration of this, and the strong worldly tendencies that bind the
human heart, it is not surprising that thousands who have been brought
up to recognise the obligatory and sacred character of the fourth
commandment, and who were fully convinced of its unalterable claims,
have been induced to abandon it; while others, for the same reasons,
although fully convinced of their duty, have refused to embrace it. Yet
some have been able to appreciate the vast importance of the stake at
hand, have felt the danger of trifling in an affair on which eternal
interests depended, and have concluded that popular applause was nothing
comparative with an approving conscience, and the smiles of God. Such
have strictly adhered to the Sabbath, or have embraced it,
notwithstanding the consequences. Of the latter, we might instance
several eminent and worthy ministers, who now occupy prominent places in
the denomination. Rev. Wm. M. Jones,[36] and Rev. J. W. Morton,
Professor of Modern Languages in the De Ruyter Institute, are both
converts to Sabbatarianism.

In the history of Sabbath-keepers we have had a beautiful
exemplification of the truth of that promise, that he who soweth in
labour and with many tears, shall return rejoicing, laden with the
products of an abundant harvest. Their numbers were few, their churches
isolated, and their opportunities for sharing in the emoluments of the
world both limited and unfrequent, nevertheless the dissemination of
their doctrines has become, through Divine Providence, the means of
reclaiming many wanderers to the Bible Sabbath. The increase of the
number of the Sabbath-keeping churches may be attributed to a variety of
causes. Every society possesses within itself the principle of extension
and multiplication, by which it will ultimately quadruplicate its
numbers, when no counteracting agencies of more potent influence are at
work. In consequence of this, the numerosity of a church sometimes
became burdensome, and it was considered necessary to establish a new
fraternity from the surplus members of the old. Emigration also became a
great source for the dissemination of the scriptural doctrine of the
Sabbath, as well as indicative of the ground to be occupied by future
churches. Thus some brother, whom poverty or untoward circumstances had
forced to abandon his native state, and the Christian society of his
childhood, has been the pioneer of religious instruction to the
neighbourhood, and the honoured founder of a religious establishment.

In the third place, the perceptions of many have been enlightened by an
unprejudiced perusal of the Holy Scriptures, accompanied by the
convincing energies of the Spirit of truth. A venerable lady, resident
in the State of New York, embraced the Sabbath, to which she rigidly
adhered, notwithstanding the opposition and persecution of her husband
and kindred, although at the time unaware that any denomination of
Christian Sabbatarians existed. She had obtained her knowledge of the
Sabbath, its ordinance and obligation, from the Bible alone. A gentleman
of Maryland, with his family, embraced the Sabbath without having any
previous communication or connexion with the Sabbatarians; but the
unprejudiced perusal of the Scriptures had instructed him in the
knowledge of his duty, and he hesitated not in the performance of it. A
multitude of similar cases might be recorded; these, however, are
sufficient to show that Scripture testimony, when acting upon
unprejudiced minds, will invariably lead to a clear conviction of the
holy and sabbatical character of the seventh day.

It is well known, that in nearly every State of the Union, the
observance of the first day is enforced by law. It is certainly
remarkable that these States, so distinguished for their otherwise
liberal and enlightened policy, should retain, with such tenacity, this
hateful feature in their legislative system; thus subjecting to the
alternative of conformity, or to the liability of fines and
imprisonment, a large and respectable portion of the community. To
obtain the redress of these grievances, and the exemption from being
made amenable to civil processes served, or made returnable upon the
Sabbath, petitions were circulated for two or three consecutive years,
in the different States where the Sabbatarians reside, and then
presented to the consideration of the legislative bodies. In no case,
however, were they attended with the results anticipated, either by a
repeal of the obnoxious statutes, or by the enactment of other laws,
more conformable to the spirit of the age.

Upon several occasions, the Seventh-day Baptists have attempted to
participate with their first-day brethren, in Sabbath Conventions, and
similar convocations. But, as might have been expected, they have been
uniformly excluded from these deliberations; courteously, it is true,
and with expressions of Christian feeling and charity. In consequence of
this, they have instituted, and held, within their own bounds, several
Conventions and similar meetings, designed to advance and disseminate
the Bible doctrine of the Sabbath.


The Eastern Association of Seventh-day Baptists, embraces the churches
located in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. The history of
these communities must be highly interesting, and fraught with
instruction to every pious mind.


This little territory, which circumstances have rendered so peculiarly
dear and interesting to every pious mind, was settled at a remarkable
period in the history of the world, and under circumstances not only new
and peculiar, but strongly adverse to former theories and practices. It
remained for the founder of this little colony to make the discovery
that the consciences of men were above the cognizance of penal
regulations or legal processes; but the principles of religious freedom
which he exposed and incorporated in his government were regarded by all
other bodies, both civil, judicial, and ecclesiastical, as in the
highest degree visionary in theory, and dangerous, disorganizing, and
impracticable in real life.

It is not surprising that a pampered priesthood and lordly prelates,
whose honours and preferments were based upon a system of ecclesiastical
tyranny, should oppose, by every possible means, the establishment of
unlimited toleration; although we may well wonder that those who had
felt themselves the heavy weight of religious persecution, should commit
so great an error, so palpable an inconsistency, as to attempt to
deprive others of the inestimable blessing of worshipping God according
to the dictates of their own consciences. Roger Williams, who fled from
the persecuting Puritans, became the founder of the first Baptist Church
in America, which was instituted at Providence, 1644, and from which
originated a church at Newport, in 1652, under the auspices of Rev.
William Vaughan. From this community seven persons seceded in 1671, and
established the first Seventh-day Baptist, and the Third Baptist Church
upon the American continent. This secession took place in consequence of
the teachings of Stephen Mumford, who emigrated from England in 1665,
and who contended, with zeal and fervour, for the perpetuity and
unchangeable nature of the Sabbatical ordinance. It is greatly to be
lamented that of the early life of this man, the parent, under God, of
so many flourishing religious communities, so little is known.

Only a few facts have been preserved, and these rest on questionable
evidence. I have not been able to obtain any knowledge of his parents,
of the place of his birth and education, or any of the circumstances
connected with his conversion. It is certain, however, that he embraced
Sabbatarian sentiments, or was educated in that belief in Europe.

Mr. Mumford, when he arrived in this country, was in the middle of life;
a period when the energy of youth remains without its rashness, and the
mind is prepared to act with steadiness without exhibiting the timidity
and pertinacity of old age.

It has been observed, with more beauty of expression than either truth
or consistency, that great circumstances make great men. It is certain
that extraordinary trials, new situations, and difficult exigencies may
and will develope unexpected powers, and give prominence to certain
traits of character; nevertheless, the mind, in its essential qualities,
generally remains unchanged. Horace, whose knowledge of human nature no
one has ever distrusted, very pertinently remarks, that those who cross
the ocean pass under a new sky, but do not change their disposition.
This was undoubtedly true of Mr. Mumford; and could we trace his early
history, we should doubtless find an exhibition of the same principles
and conduct which marked his subsequent career. But the actions of
Mumford speak loudly in his behalf. He was evidently a lover of the
truth, and one neither ashamed nor afraid to advocate unpopular tenets
if they agreed with the Word of God. He cannot be accused of bigotry or
intolerant feelings towards those who differed from him in sentiments,
for he united with, and continued in the communion of the First-day
Baptist Church in Newport for a considerable time. Neither does it
appear that he attempted to make proselytes by any violent or
injudicious methods, but simply showed the way of right by expounding
the Scriptures in friendly conversation. It is evident that he had no
ambition to be considered as a partisan leader, for he never aspired to
become an elder even in the church which he had been instrumental in
gathering. While a conclusive testimony of his generally irreproachable
character, and the piety of his little band of followers, is evinced by
the fact that they were not excluded from the First-day community, but
voluntarily withdrew from it, in consequence of the "hard things" which
were spoken against them by their brethren.

It is probable that Mr. Mumford was one of those amiable and worthy
characters, who, possessing an humble and unaspiring disposition, never
dream of worldly distinction or popular applause, or that their actions,
or the perpetuation of their memories, can be beneficial or grateful to
posterity. At this time, too, the founder of a poor and despised sect
must have had other subjects of greater moment in mind, and must have
been too busy to record his own fortunes, and too pious to feel any
pride in recounting his ancestry, his adventures, and his sufferings.

In the colony of Rhode Island liberty of conscience was professedly
established, and the friends of Roger Williams have chanted his praise
in no measured terms upon that account; but how do their eulogies agree
with the fact that even here the Sabbatarians were subjected to peculiar
troubles, and suffered much inconvenience, being exposed to insults and
annoyances upon their Sabbaths, and likewise driven from their fields of
labour upon the first day of the week by the magistrate, although
peaceably at work in a manner that precluded any disturbance. Of the
manner of Mr. Mumford's death I have no account; but "mark the perfect,
and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace." Doubtless it
was so with him.


The Sabbatarian church at Newport was instituted in 1641. It then
contained seven members, who had withdrawn from the communion of the
First-day church on account of the differences subsisting between them
with respect to the Sabbatical ordinance. Their names were Stephen
Mumford, William Hiscox, Samuel Hubbard, Roger Baster, and three
sisters; William Hiscox became their first pastor.

The early history of Elder Hiscox, like that of most of his
contemporaries, is wrapped in obscurity. He appears, however, to have
held an eminent place in the First-day Baptist Church of Newport, then
under the pastoral care of Rev. Mr. Clark, as we find that he was
appointed by that body, in conjunction with Joseph Torrey and Samuel
Hubbard, to assist the Baptists at Boston, in a public dispute
concerning infant baptism, to which they were challenged by the Puritan
persecutors. This dispute was actually held and continued for two days,
though to little purpose, for all turned out a farce so far as the
Baptists were concerned, who, as it appeared, were only invited there to
be tantalized and abused.

It is very probable that Mr. Hiscox had acquired a reputation for public
speaking before he was chosen or ordained to the ministerial office by
the infant church at Newport. Be that as it may, his faithfulness, the
prosperity of the church under his ministry, and the successful manner
in which he vindicated the Scriptural tenets which he had espoused,
evinced the wisdom of their choice. He fell asleep in Jesus in 1704, in
the sixty-sixth year of his age.

Rev. William Gibson, from London, where he received his ordination, was
his successor. Elder Gibson is said to have descended from an ancient
and highly respectable family in Warwickshire. From his youth he was
destined for the church, and consequently he received a classical
education in Oxford, that nursery of ecclesiastics. While prosecuting
his preparatory studies, he accompanied his fellow-students to see what
they denominated "sport," which was, in reality, the public whipping of
a poor woman for nonconformity as it respected infant baptism, and the
religious observance of the first day. The great patience and apparent
piety of the victim, together with the brutality of the sentence,
wrought powerfully upon his sympathetic mind, and finally he abandoned
the study of logic for that of the Bible, in order to discover what part
of the sacred volume authorized such proceedings. This inquiry, to the
inexpressible grief of his parents, who saw the prostration of their
worldly hopes, terminated in his conversion to Baptist sentiments, and
his emigration to America. He filled the office of pastor to the church
at Newport until his death, which occurred in 1717, in the 79th year of
his age. Joseph Crandall, who had been his colleague for two years,
succeeded him. He was an able and worthy minister, although illiterate,
and the church prospered under his administration. He died in 1737.

Rev. Joseph Maxson, another father in Israel, followed, who died in
1743. Mr. Maxson is said to have been extremely apt and pointed in
argument, but he was mainly distinguished for judicious adaptation of
means to ends in all his intercourse with the unconverted. This will be
illustrated by the following anecdote. He had a neighbour notorious for
infidel principles and unchristian conduct, but as such characters
generally are, he was entirely ignorant of the Bible, nor could he be
prevailed on to read or accept one. Mr. Maxson did not press the matter,
but manifested as much unconcern as he could assume. Some time after,
our infidel friend was returning home, when near his gate, he discovered
a book presenting the appearance of having been accidentally dropped. He
took it up; it was a Bible. Upon the blank leaf was written—

  "'Twas for me, thy soul death tasted,
  Seeking me, thy worn feet hasted;
  Let such labour not be wasted."

The exquisite beauty of this stanza struck the mind of the scoffer; he
thought that certainly his principles could not be shaken by a slight
examination of the book, as he wished particularly to discover to what
passage such beautiful lines could apply. He did so; the result was his

Rev. John Maxson, their next pastor, was a man of eminent piety. He was
not a proficient in the wisdom of this world, but he possessed that
without which all learning is vain. He was eminently distinguished for
his knowledge and love of the Scriptures. He died in 1778.

Rev. William Bliss received the mantle of the ascending Elijah. Mr.
Bliss, in his early life, was much inclined to deism, but when about
thirty years of age, he became truly serious, and finally he was happily
converted, and united in communion with the church. Soon after his
public profession of religion, he became exercised on the subject of the
ministry. He had frequently improved his gift for speaking, in the
prayer and conference meetings; and he received a public call of the
church in 1773. In 1780, he was installed pastor of the church, in which
station he continued during the remainder of his life, which was about
twenty-eight years.

Mr. Bliss was a warm and steady friend of his country, and suffered much
by the English soldiery, during the Revolutionary war, being completely
in their power while the city of Newport remained in their possession.
They took possession of a part of his farm, on which they erected forts,
and a part of his dwelling, in which were quartered many of their
officers. They also cut down his orchards to barricade the roads, and
committed many depredations of a similar character.

Mr. Bliss was the father of a large family, and some very interesting
circumstances are related of one of his daughters. This young lady, when
about sixteen years of age, had a long and painful sickness, in which
time she became hopefully converted; and God was pleased to recommend
himself to her in a remarkable manner. During her illness, at a time
when she was very low, she lay for a long time as one asleep, without
sense or motion. Her attendants looked upon her as dying; but presently
she revived, and was in the greatest transports of joy. She declared to
them that she had been favoured with a view of another world, and had
been conducted both to the mansions of misery, and the abodes of
felicity; and that in both places she saw and recognised those with whom
she had been acquainted, and were then dead, but that she was forbidden
to tell them who were in misery; that she had water given her to drink,
which was inexpressibly sweet,—that she was told that she would not
recover from her sickness, but must return for a season, and then that
she should be admitted back to stay for ever. She lived about a year
after this, during which time she looked forward with the greatest
pleasure to the time of her departure, and died in full confidence that
she should be immediately reconducted to those scenes of felicity with
which she had been made acquainted.

As a minister of the gospel, Mr. Bliss was more distinguished for
logical and spiritual argumentation, than for oratorical fervour. Few
have excelled him in solidity of judgment, and the happiest consequences
uniformly resulted from following his advice. As a Christian he was
remarkably exemplary, and adorned his profession in both public and
private life. He was warm and tender-hearted, circumspect in his
deportment, and always anxious to promote the happiness and usefulness
of all about him. He was distinguished for a pleasant cheerfulness,
which made his conversation agreeable to persons of all ages.

The circumstances attending his death were quite remarkable. For a few
months previous to his decease, he experienced several paralytic
strokes, which, though light, greatly reduced his physical strength.
Still he retained his mental faculties to the last, and was not confined
to his house but a few days. From this period he was sensible that his
departure was at hand, and he waited in the greatest composure of mind
for his approaching change. For a few days before his death, he found
his strength decaying, but felt no other disease than a gradual loss of
physical power. The day before his death, he was visited by his intimate
friend, the Rev. Mr. Eady. To him, he remarked, "I am going to try the
truth of my doctrine." The morning before he died, he was visited by a
grandson who had recently returned from Spain. With him he conversed
freely on the political and religious state of that country. From these
subjects, he referred to his own circumstances, observing that he no
longer possessed any interest in the busy scenes of this world, as he
was on the point, he believed, of departing for a better one. He
signified that he thought himself to be dying, and appeared animated
with the prospect before him. He seemed like Moses, who in his full
strength, was permitted to ascend the summit of Mount Pisgah, and thence
view the fair and fertile fields of the promised inheritance. Towards
evening he was visited by Deacon B., from Hopkinton, who called, not
intending to tarry through the night. He observed to this gentleman that
he was going to die, and thought he would be needed about his person. He
also made, with great deliberation, further arrangements for calling
assistance, as he believed he should leave them before morning. When
Deacon B. retired to rest, he was walking the house without exhibiting
any unusual symptom except a strange coldness of the hands and the feet.
He had left him but a short time when he heard an unusual stir below,
and immediately arose and repaired to his bedside; but his spirit had
fled. Thus closed his long and useful life on the 4th day of May, 1808,
in the 81st year of his age.

The Rev. Henry Burdick, was his successor, and was assisted in the
ministry by Rev. Arnold Bliss. Both were young men of eminent piety and
considerable ability, and both continued to exercise their holy
vocation, until they were called to rest from their labours at a very
advanced age. Subsequent to the death of Elder Bliss, which occurred in
1826, this church appeared to sink under an accumulation of misfortunes
and unpleasant influences. This deplorable state of things continued for
several years, when the General Conference took into consideration the
utility of appointing a missionary to labour in that vicinity.
Accordingly, Lucius Crandall received an appointment to that field, in
which connexion he continued for three years. He was succeeded in 1846
by Libbeus Cottrel, a young man of considerable promise.

Besides this succession of pastors, the church at Newport had several
highly eminent men in its connexion. Of these, the Wards were
distinguished for holding high official stations in connexion with the
royal government of the province. They were descended from an ancient
and highly respectable family in England, whose elder members espousing
the cause of the Parliament in the civil wars, thereby became obnoxious
to the dominant party at the time of the Restoration. Mr. Thomas Ward,
Esq., emigrated to America, and joined the Sabbatarian church, of which
he continued a member until his death.

Richard Ward, his son, was one of those rare characters, who, with
talents and capacities fitted to adorn the highest circles, are,
nevertheless, not ashamed of godliness, or of a consistent observance of
the humble duties of religion. He made a public profession of Christian
faith, in 1753, and uniting with this, then infant church, contributed
greatly by his talents, and wealth, and influence, to its support.
Determined likewise to give his brethren a solid proof of his affection
and regard he bequeathed five hundred pounds sterling to the church at
his death, which occurred in 1766. This eminent man, as a citizen and
statesman, was distinguished for patriotism and philanthropy. In his
executive character as royal governor of the province, he displayed a
singular ability, and his memory will long be remembered with affection
and respect by the people whom he served. Samuel Ward, his son, was also
governor in the years 1762 and 1765; the duties of which office he
administered with fidelity and zeal. In the years 1774 and 1775, he was
a member of the Continental Congress, in which difficult station all his
conduct was signalized by an inflexible integrity and unfailing
patriotism. As a man, a scholar, a statesman, and a Christian, his
character was equally respectable.

Mr. Henry Collins, another member of this church, was pre-eminently
distinguished in his time, being one of the wealthiest citizens of
Newport in the days of her colonial glory, a munificent patron of the
fine arts, and a highly respectable literary character. He donated the
ground upon which the Redwood Library now stands, and was a liberal
contributor to all public enterprises of a benevolent and useful
character. Mr. Collins participated at all times in the labours of his
brethren with much zeal and great effect; being always ready to act his
part, sometimes as a messenger to the other churches, and often at home
in the service of the congregation. In 1729, he was elected Trustee, and
with Mr. Jonathan Weeden had the sole charge of erecting the house of
worship. This venerable structure stands upon a lot of land donated by
Mr. Almy to the church for that purpose. A rather singular anecdote
relative to this meeting-house is on record. During the Revolutionary
war, when Newport was occupied by the British army, most of the
meeting-houses in the town were converted into barracks for the
soldiers. The Seventh-day meeting-house was also selected for this use,
but when the officer sent to take possession of it opened the door, he
discovered the ten commandments, which were written on two tables
representing marble, and placed over the pulpit. Pausing a moment, he
ordered his men to retire, remarking that he could not spoil a house in
which were written the sacred laws of God. The meeting-house was
accordingly saved, although of but little use to the church during the
captivity of the town.


This church was first organized in 1708, although Seventh-day Baptists,
in connexion with the church at Newport, had resided here for a long

Rev. John Maxson, their first pastor, and one of the earliest ancestors
of the large and respectable family of that name, was distinguished for
great oratorical fervour and pathos in public speaking, although he did
not possess the advantages to be derived from a classical education. His
voice is said to have been remarkably strong, clear, and harmonious; his
eye mild, blue, and beaming; his countenance noble and expressive, and
then he knew so well how to touch the hearts of his auditory: always
beginning his discourses in a low and subdued tone, but warming with his
subject, and exhibiting throughout the general course of his
argumentation an air of vivacity and glowing energy; and in his appeals,
an ardour, pungency, and force altogether irresistible. When addressing
sinners, he would weep from sympathy and feeling; but how would his
countenance irradiate and brighten when he told of a Saviour's love! He
died in 1720, in a ripe old age.

Rev. Joseph Clarke, who succeeded him, was ordained in 1712, and
exercised his ministry with great acceptance until 1719, when he fell
asleep in Jesus.

Rev. John Maxson, Jun., his successor, received ordination in 1719, and
continued his pastoral care over the church, until 1747, when he went to
receive his crown. It is said that Elder Maxson possessed one gift most
rare, and at the same time most essential for a Christian minister. This
was great fervency and frequency in prayer. From the closet he went to
the pulpit, and he went from the pulpit to the closet. He wrestled with
the angel of the covenant like the patriarch of old, and like him he
secured a blessing.

Upon the death of Elder Maxson, the ministration of Gospel ordinances in
this church devolved on Elder Joseph Maxson, of Newport, who served both
churches until 1750. Rev. Thomas Hiscox assumed at this time its
pastoral charge. He was a man of rare piety and eminent ability.
Evangelical in sentiment, eloquent in delivery, forcible and pointed in
argumentation, he was very successful as a minister. Endowed with great
conversational powers, a pleasing and affable address, he was eminently
qualified to adorn the social circle, and no one could frequent his
company without being benefited by his piety and improved by his wisdom.

He made a public profession of religion in early life, and was even then
distinguished for close application to the study of the Scriptures.
Contemning the vain and fickle amusements of youth, he was ever found at
the prayer circle, and delighted particularly in solitude and
retirement. His maturity amply fulfilled the promise of his spring, and
the autumn of his days was accompanied by an abundant harvest. He died
in 1773, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. Rev. Thomas Clarke, his
colleague, was appointed to the work of the ministry in 1750, and
departed this life in 1767, aged eighty-two years. His death was
eminently triumphant, and even after he had ceased to speak, his pallid
countenance shone with a glory, and his glazing eye glowed with a
rapture altogether indescribable.

Rev. Joshua Clarke, son of the former, was eminently distinguished, not
only as a Christian minister, but as a citizen. He sustained with
fidelity and trust several important town offices in the early part of
his days, and as a member of the corporation for the College at
Providence; was highly distinguished for classical and literary taste,
as well as the faithful discharge of the laborious and varied duties
pertaining to that station. His patriotism and public spirit were
continually exhibited during his long and honourable service in the
legislature of the state; but it was chiefly in his position as a
Christian minister, that his gifts and graces were brought into action,
and his character displayed in all its beautiful and symmetrical
loveliness. For this station he was eminently fitted both by nature and
grace: a form lofty and commanding; eyes deep and dark as midnight;
voice clear and musical. His preaching was powerful, and chiefly for
this reason, it came from the heart. The church, during his
ministration, was blessed with several revivals of religion. He
travelled many journeys on business connected with the church, but
finally rested from his labours in March, 1793, in the seventy-seventh
year of his age.

Rev. John Burdick, his successor, was equally distinguished for eminent
piety and natural ability. His discourses were marked by a fervid, yet
gracefully simple eloquence. He was also eminent for faithfulness in
discipline. No member under his auspices was retained in the church
whose conduct or reputation could be a blot upon her bright escutcheon;
yet no one could accuse him of injustice or partiality. His ministry was
signally blessed by a powerful revival, in which more than two hundred
persons were added to the church in one year. As a citizen, he was
liberal, public-spirited, and benevolent. Incessant in his Gospel
labours, he travelled much, visiting destitute churches, many of which
he had assisted in organizing. He never received nor required a stated
salary, but wrought at the useful and healthful occupation of husbandry.
He was highly respected by other Christian denominations, and maintained
the most friendly intimacy with their ministers. He died in the
seventieth year of his age, in 1802.

Rev. Abraham Coon, his successor, was ordained in 1798, and was very
generally admired for solidity of judgment, copiousness of thought, and
eloquence of delivery. He was frequently employed among other
denominations to their great satisfaction. He died in 1813.

Rev. Matthew Stillman, his colleague, was ordained in 1804, and
continued his ministry with great acceptance for nearly half a century.
Elder Stillman, was a man of moderate ability, but he possessed, in an
eminent degree, those excellencies of character and disposition, that
are far more desirable than brilliancy of wit, or depth and variety of
talent. Although others might be more admired, none were more
extensively and universally beloved. In 1819, Elders William B. Maxson,
Daniel Coon, Thomas V. Wells, and Amos R. Wells, are all reported as
associated with Elder Stillman in the ministry of this church. In 1832
Christopher Chester is reported as licentiate. He was ordained in 1834,
and continued in connexion with Elder Stillman, to administer Gospel
ordinances to this church, until 1836, when Elder Coon became, for the
second time, a resident minister in the place. Subsequently he assumed
the pastoral relation in connexion with the church, which situation he
still occupies.

Beside these ministers, others have been ordained by this church and
that of Newport, who removed into other parts, and became the founders
of new fraternities. Of these we may mention John Davis, of Burlington,
Nathan Rogers, of Berlin, and Ebenezer David, afterwards chaplain in the
American Army. Several members of this church have risen to places of
trust and importance in the state. Their deacon, Daniel Babcock, held
for a long time, the office of Assistant Governor in the upper house of
the legislature. Others have been elected to fill offices of
responsibility in civil, judicial, and local affairs. As a community,
they are noted for wealth and intelligence, for improvements in the
useful arts, proficiency in scientific pursuits, and steady industrious

This community, notwithstanding the numerous amicable dismissions that
have been made from it to form other churches, still remains one of the
largest and wealthiest in the connexion.


This church, a branch of the former, was organized in 1835, and Amos R.
Wells became its first pastor, in which relation he continued for two

Rev. John Green assumed the pastoral charge in 1839, which he held until

Rev. Lucius Crandall, his successor, remained two years, and was
succeeded by Rev. S. S. Griswold, the present incumbent.


This community, like the one last mentioned, is a branch of the First
Hopkinton Church, and seceded from the present body in 1835. It may be
observed, that previous to this separation the Hopkinton Church became
very numerous, and built three meeting-houses for the accommodation of
the different neighbourhoods. These meeting-houses are now occupied by
the respective churches. This church, however, remained in a rather low
and depressed condition, in consequence of being deprived of the
services of a settled pastor, until 1845, when Rev. A. B. Burdick
assumed the responsibility of that station. Rev. Charles M. Lewis, the
present incumbent, was installed in 1848.


This church was organized in 1837, and was served by Henry Clarke as
licentiate, and subsequently as pastor, for several years.

Rev. Jacob Ayres, the present incumbent, was installed in 1848. Elder
Ayres, is the grandson of Rev. Jacob Ayres of the Marlborough Church,
and he seems to have inherited Elisha's portion of the spirit and
ability of his venerable ancestor. He possesses, in an eminent degree,
one most rare and inestimable qualification for a gospel minister,—a
remarkable talent in prayer.


The distinct organization of this body took place in 1840, and Rev.
Alexander Campbell became its pastor, in which connexion he remained
until 1847.

Rev. Isaac More, his successor, was a convert to Sabbatarian sentiments
from the First-day Baptist denomination.

Rev. A. B. Burdick, the present pastor, was installed in 1848.


This infant community was organized in 1843, and contains about twenty
members. Its prospects, however, are highly encouraging, and it must be
regarded as a very auspicious omen, that Rev. John Green has consented
to assume the pastoral charge. Perhaps no one in the denomination is
better calculated to encourage the timid and strengthen the weak.


This church, another infant community, was organized in 1843. Elder
Henry Clarke is their present pastor.

Rev. Christopher Chester has also been a very efficient labourer in this
region. His ministry has been blessed at different seasons with the
outpourings of the Spirit of grace, and the hopeful conversion of many.
This was particularly the case in 1841, when a First-day Baptist church,
consisting of forty members, was gathered and organized altogether
through his instrumentality. In 1847, he visited them again, and another
revival was the consequence. In this the Seventh-day church


A church was organized, in 1791, at Oyster Pond, on Long Island, by
Elisha Gillette, who came from New Jersey, 1789.

But he soon began to admit members who observed the first-day, in
consequence of which intestine difficulties arose. This church soon fell
into decay, and ultimately became extinct.


In the first settlement of this country, Baptists were persecuted by
Pedobaptists, on account of their tenacity for believer's baptism; but
all parties were united in oppressing and persecuting the Sabbatarians.
Soon after the organization of the church at Newport, the sentiment,
that the moral law was immutable and unchangeable, found advocates in
New London, Connecticut, where the spirit of persecution was under less
restraint than it was in Rhode Island. There is an old work, which was
written by a Friend, and published in Baltimore in 1698, and which gives
a very detailed and circumstantial account of the sufferings of the
dissenting parties in New England. According to his statement, no less
than ten Sabbatarians were mutilated, imprisoned, and subjected to
barbarous and cruel scourgings by their Puritanical brethren. Of these,
John Rodgers, a member of the church at Newport, but a resident in New
London, was fined, imprisoned, and sentenced to sit a certain time upon
the gallows with a rope about his neck. Another, named Philip Rodney,
who was a Seventh-day Baptist in sentiments, although not a member of
the church, was scourged, and then deprived of one of his ears.
Sometimes their meetings would be disturbed and broken up by the lawless
violence of a mob. At others they would be fined, imprisoned, and
maltreated for pursuing any ordinary business or labour upon the first
day of the week; and such was the opposition to them, in many places,
that a man who religiously observed the Bible Sabbath, would much sooner
be subjected to fines and imprisonments, than if he had acknowledged it
to be the Sabbath. These hostilities against the observers of the
seventh-day, occasioned a remonstrance, addressed to the Governor of New
England, by Peter Chamberlain, Senior Doctor of both Universities, and
first elect Physician in ordinary to His Majesty's person. This somewhat
abated the rage of persecution, although the Sabbatarians were
continually exposed to great inconveniences. It does not appear,
however, that any sect was ever extirpated by persecution, particularly
one that had the testimony of Scripture upon its side, and flourished in
an age of general inquiry.


The distinct organization of this church took place in 1750, and Elder
John Davis, who had been ordained at Hopkinton, became their first
pastor. The place was then called Farmington, West Britain. This church,
while yet in its infancy, was considerably weakened by the loss and
removal of several of its most influential members. Other difficulties
arose of a peculiarly trying and painful character, and few, if any,
additions were made to their numbers for more than ten years. But
previous to the decease of Elder Davis, which occurred in 1792, they
were blessed with a precious revival, and the church received several
additions. In the character of Elder Davis, we discover few points that
are brilliant or remarkable, but many that are lovely and amiable. It is
said, that he pre-eminently exemplified the Christian duty of loving his
neighbour. His entire life exhibited a series of actions illustrative of
that virtue. The quiet placidity of his mien, his venerable and
dignified countenance, were long remembered with enthusiastic veneration
by the people of his charge. His glory was not of this world—his name
has never been ranked with those of ecclesiastical dignitaries,
scholars, or civilians; but it was set in the Lamb's Book of Life—it was
known to angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect.

Rev. Amos Burdick succeeded him in the pastoral care of the church, in
which station he continued until his death, in 1803. The church, under
his ministry, enjoyed great prosperity and union. Rev. Amos Stillman,
for some time his colleague, was his successor. Elder Stillman, though
subject to many temporal embarrassments, was a preacher of considerable
ability and unblemished character; he was universally esteemed. In the
autumn of 1807, he visited the churches in New Jersey, where the
Conference was being held, in which he presided and preached many times
to great satisfaction. But on his return home, he caught the yellow
fever, of which he died in 1807, in the forty-fifth year of his age.
From the loss occasioned by the death of Elder Stillman, this church
never recovered. A general declension in religious feeling almost
immediately followed, and although meetings were regularly sustained a
number of years, and the name occurs in the Conference minutes, it never
after possessed that inestimable blessing, a stated pastor. From 1810,
its decline was gradual but sure, and a few years since, it was publicly
announced that the Sabbatarian church at Burlington had ceased to exist.
Nevertheless, it must not be supposed that the Sabbatarians of this
community apostatized from their ancient faith. Without a regular
administration of gospel ordinances, there could be few, if any,
additions to their numbers. Some of the old members were removed by
death to that home where congregations never break up, and Sabbaths
never end. Others have been the pioneers of Sabbatical sentiments, and
the founders of new churches, in distant regions.


Soon after the organization of the Sabbatarian church at Newport, we
find that John Rogers of New London, Connecticut, was fined and
imprisoned, on account of his adherence to Sabbatical sentiments. Others
were subsequently persecuted for the same cause; but they persisted in
their adherence to the truth, and ultimately became the founders of a
church at the place now called Waterford. The church was organized in
1784, and Rev. Davis Rogers became their first pastor. Their number was
sixteen; but soon after, several families emigrated from Hopkinton and
settled among them. In 1804, Elder Rogers resigned the pastoral care of
the church, and removed to Preston, Chenango County. He was succeeded by
Rev. Jabez Beebe, whose ordination took place in 1796, and whose
ministry was very acceptable, though not of a long duration.

Rev. Lester Rogers, his successor, was distinguished for sobriety of
mien, and although not calculated to shine as the preacher of a
promiscuous assembly, was very useful and acceptable as a pastor of this
church. He died in 1822.

Rev. Lester T. Rogers,[37] the present incumbent, was licensed to preach
in 1822, and ordained in 1824. Rev. Benedict Wescott, for some time his
colleague, was licensed in 1828, and ordained in 1831.


The churches in New Jersey are large and efficient bodies, and date back
to an early period in the history of the state. They were distinguished
in early times, and when the denomination was in its infant state, for
wealth and respectability of character, and for pastors of eminent piety
and worth.


This fraternity, the third Sabbatarian Church in America, was organized
in 1705, and Rev. Edmund Dunham became their first pastor.

Elder Dunham had been for some time a leader in the First-day Baptist
Church at that place, and was moreover extremely scrupulous in his
observance of the first day. This led him to reprove one Hezekiah
Bonham, for attending, upon that day, to secular concerns. Mr. Bonham
replied by requesting his censor to prove from Scripture that the first
day was holy by divine appointment. Upon examination, Mr. Dunham not
only discovered that his point was untenable, but became in the end a
zealous advocate of the sacred character of the seventh day. In a short
time, the force of his arguments carried conviction to the minds of
seventeen others, who formed a church, chose him for their pastor, and
sent him to Rhode Island to be ordained. He served the church until his
death in 1734, and was succeeded by his son, Rev. Jonathan Dunham. The
talents of Elder Dunham were above mediocrity, and although he had not
been favoured with literary advantages, his preaching was very
effective, and he was greatly beloved by his brethren. In the earlier
part of his ministry their first meeting-house was built, the church
having formerly met for worship in private houses. It was erected upon a
lot of one acre of land, which had been donated to them for that purpose
by Jonathan Fitz Randolph. Elder Dunham, after serving this church
upwards of forty years, rested from his labours in 1777, in the
eighty-sixth year of his age. Rev. Jonathan Jarman, for some time his
colleague, was ordained in 1772, but soon after removed to French Creek,
in Pennsylvania. Subsequent to the decease of Elder Dunham, this church
remained for several years without a pastor, but depended for
ministerial assistance upon the occasional visits of travelling
missionaries, or a precarious supply by first-day brethren. The church
also suffered much from being near the seat of war, and in the vicinity
of the ravages of the British army.

Rev. Nathan Rogers, in 1786, assumed the pastoral charge, and during
that summer and autumn the church was blessed with a remarkable revival
of religion, in which upwards of sixty were added to its numbers. During
the same year, Rev. Elisha Gillette received ordination as evangelist,
in connexion with this community, which relation he sustained for three

Rev. Henry M. Lafferty, for three years the colleague of Elder Rogers,
was subsequently his successor in 1797, and continued to occupy the
pastoral office until 1811, when he was succeeded by

Gideon Wooden, as licentiate, and subsequently as pastor, who served the
church until 1825, when he was succeeded by

Rev. John Watson, whose ministry continued until 1840.

Rev. William B. Maxson, for eight years his colleague, was for one year
his successor, when

Rev. Walter B. Gillette, the present incumbent, was installed. Besides
these pastors, other ministers have, at different times, been connected
with this church, who have removed to other fields of labour.

This church occupies a very pleasant situation, about thirty miles from
the city of New York.


This church, a branch of the former, was organized in 1838, and Lucius
Crandall, first as licentiate and subsequently as pastor, assumed the
spiritual charge; in which relation he still continues.

Both these churches are very wealthy and highly intelligent, and occupy
a distinguished position in the denomination.


This church dates to a very early period. So long ago as 1695, an
itinerant minister of the Seventh-day Baptist persuasion, named Jonathan
Davis, removed from Long Island to the State of New Jersey, where he
settled near Trenton, and preached until his death, which occurred in

Elder Davis visited Cohansey, where his nephews resided, one of whom,
also named Jonathan Davis, was a minister, and a principal agent in
gathering this church, which was constituted in 1737, and consisted of
twenty members, some of whom were emigrants from Piscataway. Elder Davis
continued to serve this church until his death, in 1769. During his
ministry their first meeting-house was erected. It stands on a lot of
one acre of ground, which was donated to them by Mr. Caleb Ayars. The
burial-ground, as might be supposed, contains many time-honoured

Rev. Jonathan Davis, his successor in the ministry, was of Welsh
extraction, and the son of Rev. David Davis, a distinguished minister of
the Welsh Tract Church. He was born in 1734, received ordination in
1768, and installed as pastor of the church upon the death of his
predecessor, in which relation he continued until his death in 1785.
Elder Davis was eminently distinguished for sound judgment, great
stability, and moral worth. He was universally beloved, and the church,
under his ministry, attained a considerable degree of strength and

Rev. Jonathan Jarman, for some time his colleague, removed to Cape May,
where he died, but his remains were subsequently brought back to Shiloh
for interment.

Deacon Philip Ayars was likewise considered a leader in this church, and
an administrator of baptism.

Rev. Nathan Ayars was ordained in this church in 1786, and remained its
pastor until 1810.

Rev. John Davis, youngest son of Elder Jonathan Davis, was for several
years his colleague, and finally his successor. Elder Davis was ordained
in 1807, and continued to serve the church until 1842, when, overcome
with age and infirmity, he resigned the pastoral charge to

Rev. Azor Estee, who was succeeded in 1844 by

Rev. Solomon Carpenter, whose transfer to the China Mission left the
church without a pastor. However, in the latter part of 1845 they
secured the services of

Rev. Samuel Davison, a convert to the Sabbath, and a very able preacher,
who remained for about two years, and was succeeded by

Rev. Giles M. Langworthy, whose illness and premature death left them
again in a destitute condition.

During the past summer the church was served by Rev. Enoch Barnes, a
very worthy man, and a convert to Sabbatarianism from the Methodist

Rev. George R. Wheeler is also a member of this church, but he resides
at Salem, about ten miles distant. Mr. Wheeler and family were likewise
converts to Sabbatical sentiments.

This church has been blessed with many auspicious revivals. One took
place in 1807, and continued for a long time. It was very extensive, and
about seventy were added to the church. Subsequently many precious
seasons were enjoyed, but perhaps the greatest in-gathering occurred in
the commencement of the year 1843, when about ninety were added to the
church. This gracious visitation of the Holy Spirit commenced and
continued through a meeting of days, in which Elder John Green and Elder
Estee were the leaders. It was marked at first by a deep and unusual
seriousness in the congregation, that gradually increased, and seemed to
pervade every heart in the vast assembly. Meetings for prayer and
religious inquiry succeeded, at which old and young attended, whose
countenances were indicative of the various emotions of their souls.
Some in a fixedness of look that seemed to say, "God and eternity are
near;" some with a settled gloom and depression of countenance; some
with marks of indescribable anguish; and some with the holiest and
happiest serenity, placid and beautiful as the loveliest sky after a

Sabbath after Sabbath scores of candidates of all ranks and ages, from
the child of ten summers to the old man of seventy winters, came
together requesting the ordinance of baptism, and what was most
remarkable, the greatest order and propriety prevailed. There were no
exhibitions of enthusiasm, no rapturous outbursts, or passionate
exclamations. All was calm, sedate, and tranquil. Every one seemed to be
impressed with a sense of the indescribable holiness of God, and the
sinfulness of the human heart. Every one seemed to feel himself within
the most holy place. There was confession, thanksgiving, and
entreaty,—so humble, and yet so confiding,—so confiding, and yet so
presumptuous,—so importunate, and yet so submissive. There were songs of
praise and sighs of penitence. There were tears of holy joy, of exalted
hope, of remorseful sorrow. From this church the sacred excitement
extended to others, and many precious revivals occurred in the

This community is at present engaged in building a new meeting-house, at
a cost of five thousand dollars, having donated the old one to a school
and society formed for educational and agricultural purposes.

This church was for a long time concerned in a very tedious affair
relative to a lot of land in Philadelphia, which had been left by the
will of Richard Sparks to the Seventh-day Baptists for a burial-ground.
The date of the will I have been unable to obtain, but it appears that
Sparks was one of the Keithian Seventh-day Baptists; that he was
baptized by William Davis, in 1699; and that he belonged to a church of
our persuasion in Newtown, Chester County. He was a man of large
property, and being determined to give his brethren some substantial
proof of his regard, donated to them the before-mentioned lot, which, at
that time was in the suburbs of the city, although at present it is
nearly in the centre. It was used, for some time, as the burial-ground
of the church, and upon a marble slab, placed in the wall by which it is
surrounded, are inscribed the names of those who are interred within.
Subsequent to the extinction of that church, and the removal of its
members, many of whom emigrated to Shiloh,[38] it became a question
whether the disposal of this property might not be effected, and the
proceeds of the sale appropriated by the General Conference. Pursuant to
this design, Caleb Shepherd, of Shiloh, was appointed as agent for the
sale of said lot, with instructions to present a memorial to the
Legislature of Pennsylvania, petitioning them to authorize its disposal
for pecuniary compensation, or in exchange for other land more
conveniently situated. But these tedious negotiations resulted in a
manner the most unsatisfactory. The Legislature decided that according
to the tenure of the will, their only right to it was founded upon their
using it for burial purposes; and that therefore there could be no legal
disposal made of it.

About this time the Conference, in its denominational capacity, withdrew
all claim to it in favour of the Shiloh and Piscataway churches.
Subsequently it was leased to a hose company; and afterwards sold by
these churches to Stephen Girard, by whom it was conveyed to the
corporation of the city of Philadelphia, in whose possession it still


This church, a branch of the former, was organized in 1811, and Rev.
Jacob Ayras became its pastor, in which relation he continued until his
death, in 1838, having served the church nearly twenty-five years.

Rev. Samuel Davis, brother of Elder John Davis, of Shiloh, was for some
time his colleague in the ministry.

Rev. David Clawson, his successor, was returned as licentiate in
connexion with the church at Piscataway, in 1833; was ordained in 1836,
and installed as pastor of this church in 1839, in which relation he
still continues.


It will be perceived that this Association embraces the oldest churches,
and is emphatically the stronghold of Sabbatarianism. Most of them also
have originated from ordinary causes. Those of Piscataway and Shiloh
have each produced a branch. Three of those in Rhode Island originated
from a remarkable revival, which progressed in 1837, under the
ministrations of Elder John Green, in which sinners were converted to
God by hundreds. All the older churches have been the seats of stated
pastors; consequently they escaped, at least in former times, all the
evils to be apprehended from frequent changes. These pastors, also,
however deficient they might appear in the graces of elegant diction,
were distinguished for sound reasoning and plain sense. Their zeal was
tempered with moderation; their piety with rationality. If not very
scrupulous as to method and language, they were correct in their views,
and orthodox in their principles. The themes of their discourses were
the doctrines of the Gospel, and the nature of experimental religion,
which they explained in a manner adapted to the capacities of their
hearers. That much of this old-fashioned system is being done away with,
is evident to the most casual observation. This profitable mode of
preaching has been exchanged for one disposed to harp on opinions and
debatable points. But, although a deep explication of mysterious
subjects may look more wise, and excite, for the moment, more interest
than to travel on in the old track, the tampering with matters beyond
knowledge, to the neglect of plain but edifying subjects, will be
attended by a general dearth of religious feeling.


This body embraces all those large and respectable churches which are
situated in the State of New York, east of the small lakes. Most of this
great body of our denomination have been collected here within half a
century. About ninety years ago, we first find traces of Sabbatarian
sentiments in this extensive country. Since that period the
dissemination of this scriptural truth has been slow but sure. Churches
have one after another been constituted, which, taken as a whole, have
occupied an important position, not only as to location, but likewise as
to the tone of feeling which they have given to the efforts and
enterprises of the denomination in benevolent and educational pursuits.
They were among the earliest promoters of Domestic Missions in the then
destitute regions of their own and the Southwestern States. By their
unwearied and active exertions, amid all the discouragements incident to
poverty, limited means, and untoward circumstances, evangelists were
sent out to disseminate the truth in those then destitute places, where,
for many years past, flourishing churches and powerful auxiliaries have
existed. They seem also to have first become interested in the subject
of Sabbath schools, conference meetings, and monthly concerts for
prayer. Their anniversaries are held at different places in their long
range of territory, and so commodious and expeditious is the modern mode
of travelling, that although the churches are spread along a distance of
two or three hundred miles, yet the labour of attending them is but
small, and more than repaid by witnessing the varied and beautiful
scenery along the route. The very flourishing institution denominated
the De Ruyter Institute, is located within the limits of this
Association. It is situated, as its name imports, in the pleasant
village of De Ruyter, on the southwestern part of the county of Madison.
It was projected in 1835, and went into operation in 1837. The building
is of stone, ninety-four feet front, and sixty-four in width, including
the depth of the wings projecting backwards. It contains a chapel, a
room for philosophic lectures, one for the library and society for
natural history, six recitation rooms, and fifty-six students' rooms.

There is both a male and female department in the institution; and the
faculty, by their ability and assiduity, have commended it to the good
opinion of the public, among whom it has hitherto sustained a high


This church, the oldest body in this Association, was organized in 1783,
although many years previous, a number of Sabbath-keepers, principally
members of the Sabbatarian churches in Rhode Island, had removed into
these parts, being among the first settlers of the place. Of these, the
large and respectable families of the Coons, Greenmans, Crandalls,
Greens, and Randalls, were most distinguished for enterprise and
intelligence. They occupied a very pleasant situation in the
northeasterly parts of the State of New York, adjoining Massachusetts.
The place was first called Little Hoosack, and the Sabbatarians resided
in the towns of Berlin, Petersburg, and Stephentown, in which branch
churches have since been established.

After the organization of the church, Rev. William Coon, from Hopkinton,
became their first pastor. Elder Coon was a man of great natural
ability, and was so pre-eminently blessed in his ministry, that nearly
two hundred persons were added to the church in one year. He died in
1801. He was highly esteemed by Mr. Van Rensselaer, then deputy governor
of the state, who bestowed upon him a valuable farm, and contributed
liberally towards defraying the expenses of their new meeting-house.

Rev. Asa Coon, his nephew and successor, officiated in the ministry but
a few months, when he was removed by death.

Rev. William Satterlee received ordination in 1805, in the
thirty-seventh year of his age, and was immediately installed as pastor
of the church, in which relation he still continues. Elder Satterlee has
been emphatically a father in Israel. Thousands have walked in more
brilliant paths, have risen to loftier stations, and acquired more
extensive renown, but perhaps no one has been more really useful as a
Christian minister. In his family, in the church, in the conference, he
was equally amiable, equally attentive to the desires of others, and
equally anxious to do good. While others pursued the phantom of
popularity, Elder Satterlee remained content with the applause of his
own conscience, and his brethren were so well aware of his ability and
paternal character, that for many years he was unanimously chosen
Moderator of the General Conference.

Under his ministry the church became another mother of churches, and
nursery of ministers, besides producing several eminent characters.

Rev. James H. Cochran was installed as assistant pastor in 1849.


This community, a branch of the Berlin Church, was organized in 1829,
but remained until 1835 without a pastor, when Bethuel C. Church became
a licentiate in their connexion, where he continued for one year.

Rev. Azor Estee, his successor, was licensed in 1836, and received
ordination in the autumn of the same year. In 1841, he resigned the
pastoral charge of this church to Jared Kenyon, who continued in its
service as licentiate until 1844, when Elder Estee returned to them

Rev. William B. Maxson was resident here in 1845.

Rev. James Summerbell was ordained, pursuant to the request of this
church, in 1849, and was immediately installed as pastor.


This church was organized in 1845, although Sabbatarians had resided in
Brooklyn and its vicinity for a long time previous. They have a large
and commodious meeting-house. Rev. T. B. Brown is their present pastor.


This church was organized in 1822, and Rev. William Green became its
first pastor, which relation he sustained with great acceptance until
1841, when

Rev. Eli S. Bailey assumed the pastoral charge for one year, and was
succeeded by

Rev. Joel Green, who, in 1845, resigned his station to Rev. G. M.

Rev. Alexander Campbell is the present incumbent.

This church has been blessed with several revivals of religion, and is a
very efficient community. Unlike some of its sister churches, it has
always been in a sound and healthy condition, and at present holds a
high rank among the most decided friends of all the principles and
institutions of the denomination.


As early as 1791, several members of the Hopkinton Church emigrated to
this place and began a settlement. The country at that time was wild and
uninhabited. Hills and valleys were covered with forests in all their
primeval majesty, through which the wild deer and the Indian roamed. But
the hand of industry soon wrought a wonderful transformation in this now
beautiful country. The woods disappeared. Green pastures and yellow
harvests waved in the valleys. The hills were crowned with cottages,
homely, indeed, but delightful, for they were the abodes of piety and
content. There was temporal comfort and prosperity. There was spiritual
happiness and godly hope. The Sabbath was neither forgotten nor
neglected. It was linked with too many hallowed memories, too many sweet
and pleasant associations, too many blessed reminiscences of home, of
kindred, of heaven, ever to be deserted by those who were exiled by the
force of circumstances from the delightful scenes of their youth.
Meetings were instituted, and continued from house to house, and many
precious seasons were enjoyed before the organization of the church.

In the autumn of 1797, they were visited by Elders Burdick and Coon, of
Hopkinton, and by them constituted a church in sister relation. They
numbered at first but twenty members.

Rev. Henry Clarke became their first pastor, in which relation he
continued until 1829.

Rev. Eli S. Bailey received ordination in 1819, and the same year became
associated with Elder Clarke in the ministry.

Rev. Daniel Coon removed from Hopkinton the same year, and became a
resident in connexion with this church.

Rev. William B. Maxson assumed the pastoral relation as assistant of
Elder Clarke, in 1823, and remained until 1833.

Rev. John Green, his successor, continued four years, and was succeeded

Rev. Sebeus M. Burdick, who, in 1841, resigned the office to

Rev. William B. Maxson, who remained for two or three years, and was
succeeded by

Rev. O. P. Hull, for a short period, when Elder Maxson, the present
incumbent, was again installed.

Several licentiates have, at different times, been connected with this
church. Of these we may mention Charles Card, in 1832, and more
recently, Charles M. Lewis, Waitstill Phillips, and David Burdick.


This community, a branch of the First Brookfield Church, was organized
in 1823, and Eli S. Bailey became its first pastor. Under his ministry
the church enjoyed several of those auspicious seasons denominated
revivals of religion, and continued many years in a state of general
peace and prosperity. Elder Bailey was educated for the medical
profession, which he pursued for some time with eminent success. At this
period neither his habits of life nor associations gave promise of his
ever becoming a Christian minister; but, notwithstanding that his
profession was one of honour, and opened before him a fair path to
wealth and eminence, his heart turned towards the task of winning souls
to God. In 1839, James Bailey was associated as licentiate, and
subsequently as elder, in the ministry of this church. Rev. Samuel B.
Crandall succeeded in 1842, and continued for one year, when Elder
Bailey again assumed the spiritual charge, which he continues to


This church, like the former, originated from the First Brookfield
Church, and was also organized in 1823.

Rev. Daniel Coon became its first pastor, in which relation he continued
until 1836.

Rev. Samuel B. Crandall, his successor, and the present incumbent was
licensed in 1831, and ordained in 1832, since which period, with the
exception of one year, he has been connected with this church.[39]


Originally, this church was composed of emigrant members from the First
Brookfield Church. Its distinct organization took place in 1824. In 1826
it became the seat of Rev. Alexander Campbell, who remained until 1833.

Rev. Zuriel Campbell, his successor, was licensed in 1835, and ordained
in 1838. Subsequent to his removal, which took place in 1839,

Rev. Russell G. Burdick, assumed the spiritual care for one year. He was
followed by Elias Rogers as licentiate, who, in 1844, was succeeded by
Solomon Coon, and Varnum Burdick, in the same capacity. Varnum Burdick
is the present incumbent.


This church originated from a small company of Sabbatarians who removed
from Brookfield, several years ago, and who, although deprived of
sabbatical and sanctuary privileges, nevertheless maintained prayer and
conference meetings, and exhibited in their daily walk and conversation
an exact conformity to their holy vocation. Recently several influential
and highly respectable families in this vicinity have embraced the
Sabbath, and in 1846, a church was organized consisting of sixteen
members, with prospects of large additions at an early period. It is
supplied with ministerial assistance by the Missionary Society.


This church, originally composed of emigrants from the Berlin and
Hopkinton communities, was constituted in 1806. David Davis became their
first, pastor.

Rev. John Green, his successor, was ordained to the work of the ministry
in 1819. A well-written biography of Elder Green would be most edifying,
as perhaps no other minister in the denomination has been the leader in
so many auspicious revivals. In numerous instances, his visitations to
the churches have been accompanied with the most remarkable outpourings
of the Spirit of grace. Indeed, so often has this been the case, that
long since it became proverbial among the people, and a promised visit
from Elder John Green was considered as the sure precursor of a
reformation. It is no wonder, therefore, that this venerated man is,
with few exceptions, so universally beloved and respected, for
multitudes look up to, and regard him as their spiritual father. It is
no wonder that the aspersions of malice, and the machinations of envy
have been unable to destroy his credit or his influence with the
denomination at large. Yet this man, who has received so many seals to
his ministry, and whose presence to the churches is so auspicious, is a
plain old-fashioned man, neither skilled in logic nor taught in the
schools. He has none of the polish or blandishments of modern eloquence,
no affectation of learning, no parade of jingling phrases or
high-sounding words.

O how many of our young men, who discourse learnedly of preparatory
studies for the ministry, might, with infinite advantage, sit at the
feet and learn of this Shamgar in the churches, who, coming from the
fields of honest industry to the pulpit, has been more instrumental in
winning souls to God, than most of the scholars who have come to the
contest elate with the honours of a full collegiate course. Like a
certain remarkably effective preacher of old, who came into the ministry
with hands undried from the fisherman's net, or like another, of some
account at one time in the churches, who wrought at a useful occupation
that he might not be burdensome to any, Elder Green was undoubtedly
called and set apart as a chosen vessel, by the Spirit of truth. What
weeping sinner, what returning backslider, ever thought or inquired
whether he was skilled in algebraic problems, Hebrew nouns, or Greek
verbs? Learning to such a preacher would not and could not be any help;
it might be a hindrance. It might lead him to trust in earthly
availments, and make him forget in what his great strength lay. Have we
not reason to fear that a vain trust in learning and temporal advantages
is the Delilah that has shorn the locks from so many spiritual Samsons,
and rendered them powerless before their enemies? It would be a
difficult matter to attempt an analyzation of the sermons of Elder
Green, or to show in what the secret of his success consisted. No one,
while listening to his discourses, would think of applying to them the
ordinary tests of criticism; indeed, no one would be half so much
pleased with the speaker as displeased with himself. He would probably
forget the time, the place, and the congregation, and see himself
transported at once to the bar of God, with the world in flames. His
cogitations would not be, "Oh, what a learned and beautiful discourse!"
but "Oh, wretched man that I am!" or, "Oh, blessed Jesus, how wonderful
is thy love and goodness!" Yet in these sermons, so remarkably
effective, there does not appear the least striving for effect, no
attempt to enlist the passions of the auditory, no forced and laboured
ejaculations; but the attention is first engaged by the voice, the look,
the manner, the appearance of the speaker; our interest increases with
his amplification of the subject, and his application of it every one
that hears must feel.

Elder Green remained at De Ruyter until 1826, when the church was for
some time without a pastor.

Rev. Alexander Campbell, his successor, was installed in 1834, and
remained for several years.

Rev. James Bailey succeeded him in 1842, and remained until 1848.

Rev. James R. Irish, Principal of the De Ruyter Institute, is the
present incumbent.

Many licentiates, in connexion with the Literary Institution, have at
different times officiated in this church.


This church originated from the Seventh-day Society in Adams, and was
constituted in 1841, William Green assuming the pastoral charge, in
which relation he still continues.

The services of a settled pastor are, to these infant churches, of
inestimable value.[40]


This church was organized in 1831, and Sebeus M. Burdick became its
spiritual guide.

In 1839, G. M. Langworthy and Thomas E. Babcock were returned as
licentiates in its connexion, but Elder Burdick, in 1842, assumed its
parochial charge for the second time. He was succeeded, in 1846, by the
Rev. Joshua Clarke.

At present it is supplied with ministerial assistance by the brethren at
De Ruyter, of the church in which place it is a branch.


This church was organized in 1830, and Ephraim Curtiss became its
pastor. Elder Curtiss was a man of distinguished merit and great
promise. His talents and services were of inestimable value to this
infant community; but the Great Head of the church was pleased, for wise
but unseen purposes, to remove him from earth while yet in the noon of
his days. His decease, combined with other causes, has contributed to
keep this church in a backward state. For a long time their harps were
hung upon the willows, and although they remained inflexible in their
attachment to the great distinctive principles of the denomination, and
supported sabbatical ordinances in a regular manner, they have been
blessed with few additions to their numbers.

Rev. Joshua Clarke, their present pastor, was installed in 1847.


This church dates back to a very early period. In 1804, Davis Rogers,
who had been ordained in 1784, with several members of the Waterford
(Connecticut) Church, emigrated to this place, where they organized a
church, which, under his ministry, continued for a long time in a
flourishing condition. In 1818, it was admitted into the Conference, at
which period David Davis was associated with Elder Rogers in the
ministry. The death of Elder Rogers, which, as I am informed, occurred
about 1832, left this weak and sickly community in peculiarly trying and
painful circumstances, and the members became scattered like sheep
without a shepherd. Subsequently they were gathered and the church
reorganized by Elder Benedict Wescott, of Waterford, in 1834. This
worthy and useful man then assumed the spiritual charge of the scattered
flock, in which relation he continued until 1842.

Rev. Varnum Hull, his successor, was ordained in 1843, and continued to
serve this church for four or five years.

Rev. Joshua Clarke, the present incumbent, is connected both with this
and the Sabbatarian community at Otselic.


This infant community was gathered and organized in 1845. Though few in
number, they give promise of great efficiency.

Rev. Elias Burdick is their pastor.


This church was originally composed of members from the Berlin and Rhode
Island Churches. Of these we may notice the large and respectable
families of the Burdicks, Babcocks, and Hubbards, who, even to this day,
are the bone and sinew of the Scott fraternity. It was organized in
1820, and William B. Maxson became its first pastor, and Holly Maxson
the first deacon. It is justly due to the memory of this venerable man
to remark, that for piety, disinterested benevolence, and every amiable
and Christian grace, he has rarely been equalled and never excelled.
Mild and equable in disposition, complacent and affable in manner, he
was particularly qualified to soften animosities and settle
difficulties; while the uniform estimation in which he was held, and the
known impartiality of his decisions, caused him to be chosen as umpire
and arbitrator in all disturbances and divisions of whatever kind. His
memory is still venerated, and the most honourable testimonies to his
merit are yet borne by the community where he resided. His death was in
character with his life. He died repeating

  "Jesus can make a dying bed
  Feel soft as downy pillars are."

Rev. Joel Green was licensed in 1823, and ordained, agreeably to the
request of this church, in 1824, in which connexion he continued until

Rev. Job Tyler, for a long time his colleague, was also licensed in
1823, and received ordination in 1825.

Rev. Orson Campbell, of Berlin, assumed the spiritual guidance of this
church, in connexion with and during the prolonged absence of Elder
Green, in 1838 and 1839.

Rev. Russell G. Burdick, the present incumbent, succeeded to the
parochial care of this church in 1842.

This church has been blessed with several powerful and extensive
revivals, and twice to my remembrance these auspicious seasons occurred
during the visitations of Elder John Green. These religious excitements
were generally attended with extraordinary exhibitions. Sometimes nearly
every individual in the congregation would be prostrate upon their
knees, while a mingled utterance of screams, wailings, prayers, notes of
grief and joy, would rise in one deep chorus. Ever and anon some sinner
who felt his burden removed would burst out in a song of triumph and
loud hosannah; others, who had been groaning for hours in the deepest
agony, or sitting silent, sullen, and dejected, like images of
unutterable woe, would arise with a glory upon their countenances, and
words of praise and exultation on their lips. Many entirely lost the use
of their limbs, and lay a long time as if entranced. At these meetings
there would generally be several ministers, who would officiate at the
same time in different parts of the congregation, some in exhortation,
some in praying for the distressed, and some in arguments with opposers,
who considered such proceedings the height of fanaticism.


This church was organized in 1820, although several years previous a
number of families of Seventh-day Baptists had removed from Hopkinton
and settled in this place, where they kept up meetings on the Sabbath.
The large and respectable family of Williamses appears to have been the
principal support of this infant church, which, until 1842, remained
without the services of a settled pastor, when

Rev. Charles M. Lewis assumed the spiritual charge.

Rev. Christopher Chester, his successor, was installed in 1848.

A branch church was organized at Schenectady in 1834. John Maxson became
its deacon, but so far as I am aware it never had a settled pastor. It
continued only a few years. A church was likewise organized in Baltimore
the same year, which long since ceased to exist.


This church, a branch of the former, was organized in 1837, but remained
in a destitute condition until 1842, when Rev. Elihu Robinson became its
pastor, in which relation he continued for several years.

At present they have no settled pastor.


This church was organized in 1841. Joshua Clarke and William G. Quibell
were recognised as licentiates in its connexion. Subsequently they
received ordination, and the latter assumed the parochial charge, in
which he still continues.

This church, although in its infancy, gives great promise of future
efficiency and usefulness.


This small but interesting community was formed in 1838. It has received
ministerial assistance from the Missionary Society at different times,
although deprived of the services of a settled pastor.

Elihu Robinson officiated as licentiate in this place for a short


In 1820, a branch of the Berlin Church was organized in Fox Township,
Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, which continued for several years in a
flourishing condition. In 1822, John Bliss was ordained to the work of
the ministry, and subsequently Jeremiah Bliss was returned as
licentiate. But many evil influences were at work, which this church,
always weak and feeble, was unable to withstand. Its decline may be
dated from 1832, since which period it gradually sunk, its members
removed into other parts, and finally it ceased to exist.

It may be conceded that neither legal enactments, penal statutes, nor
popular customs, can suppress the course of truth, or prevent the
exercise of its legitimate effects upon the minds of men. The progress
of our denomination, notwithstanding the adverse circumstances and many
disadvantages under which we have laboured, has been steady and
unceasing; and although many of our churches are in a state of infancy,
their numbers are respectable, and their influence considerable.

Many ministers who have arisen in these fraternities, have removed
thence into other parts. Ministers distinguished for evangelical
enterprise and fervent zeal, some of whom have been among the first
pioneers of the gospel in the western regions.

In connexion with these churches are some very efficient High Schools,
and one Literary Institution of a higher class. It is true that these
institutions are not of a theological character; nevertheless, they are
important appendages of the denomination, and, if well managed, will
become what is most needed, and will confer immense benefits upon the
community at large. The general diffusion of knowledge will elevate the
moral and intellectual standard, and will be the sure forerunner of
higher ministerial attainments, and the better management of the


The churches embraced in this Association, are situated on what was
formerly considered missionary ground, although some of them are at
present among the most efficient bodies in the denomination. The
principal ornament of this section is the Alfred Academy, a very
flourishing literary institution, of a high classical character. It
appears to have originated from a High School, and went into operation
two or three years previous to the De Ruyter Institute.


This church was originally composed of emigrants from the Rhode Island
and New Jersey fraternities, and was constituted in 1816. The region at
that time was extremely destitute, and these pioneers of our faith were
required to undergo many hardships, and experience great deprivations in
the prosecution of their schemes. Generally their means were moderate,
and their worldly advantages limited; but they were zealous for the
truth and rich in faith. They found a wilderness, here and there broken
by the hand of man: they left smiling fields and growing villages. They
found penury and destitution: they left wealth and plenty. They found a
region where the songs of David were not repeated, where the Sabbath was
not observed: they left flourishing schools and churches. Did they live
in vain?

Rev. Amos Satterlee was installed as pastor of the Alfred Church in
1820, which station he filled with great acceptance for several years.

His successors, Daniel Babcock and Richard Hull, were ordained in 1824,
and remained with this church about fifteen years, when they removed to
other fields.

Rev. James R. Irish became their pastor in 1837, in which relation he
continued until 1846.

During the ministry of these brethren, the church has been blessed at
intervals with many precious revivals; and it appears to have been from
the first in a sound and healthy condition.

Rev. Hiram Cromwell, his successor, remained for only a short period,
and was succeeded by

Rev. N. V. Hull, the present incumbent.

Elder Hull is endowed with talents of the very highest order, and
perhaps no minister in the denomination is better qualified to shine in
a promiscuous assembly. His fine understanding, ready wit, and brilliant
imagination, are united to the most fascinating powers of oratory, a
demeanour of princely elegance, and the highest style of manly beauty.
His services either as a settled pastor, or visiting evangelist, have
been highly efficient in this region, and his preaching has been
attended with many powerful revivals.


This church, a branch of the former, was organized in 1831, and Elder
Ray Green became its pastor. In 1835 Clarke Potter and N. V. Hull were
returned as licentiates in its connexion. In 1842, Amos Burdick was also
licensed, who continued to serve this church after the removal of Elder
Green, until 1844, when

Rev. James H. Cochran assumed the pastoral charge.

He was succeeded by Amos Burdick and P. C. Witter, the present


This church was organized in 1827, and Henry P. Green served as
licentiate until 1835, when his ordination took place. Under his
ministry, which continued until 1847, the church received many
additions, and became a large and efficient body.

Rev. James Bailey, his successor, was installed in 1848.


This church, a branch of the former, was organized in 1834, and was
served by Prentice C. Maine as licentiate, for some time. At present it
has no settled pastor, but is supplied with ministerial assistance by
travelling missionaries.


This church, likewise a branch of the former, was organized in 1842, but
remained until 1843 without a settled pastor, when their spiritual
charge was assumed by L. D. Ayres, who remained until 1847.

Rev. H. P. Green, the present incumbent, was installed 1848.


This church was organized in 1828, although Sabbatarians had for some
time previous been among the inhabitants of the country, and maintained
worship upon their holy day. They remained for a long time without a
pastor, but, in 1838, Rev. Nathan V. Hull consented to settle among
them. In 1839, James H. Cochran was returned as licentiate, and
subsequently, in 1846, as pastor.

At present they have no settled minister.


This community, like that of Alfred, dates back to an early period. It
originated, likewise, from an emigration of the members of older
churches. Between the years 1812 and 1820, many families in connexion
with the New Jersey fraternities removed to this place, and became the
pioneers of our faith in its then lonely regions. In 1824 a church was
constituted. Rev. John Green became its first pastor, in which relation
he continued until 1833, when

Rev. Walter B. Gillette succeeded him, and remained until 1842, when he
removed to another field.

Rev. Zuriel Campbell followed, who continued until 1845.

Rev. A. A. F. Randolph, his successor, had been for some time his

Rev. B. F. Robbins, a man of deep piety and irreproachable character,
who embraced the Sabbath in 1845, is the present incumbent.

A short time since Elder John Green visited this place, and his
presence, as usual, was attended with a gracious revival.


This infant community, a branch of the Alfred Church, was organized in

Rev. Hiram Cornwell is its present pastor.

It gives a cheering promise of future efficiency and usefulness.


This church is the oldest one in this Association, and originated from
the Keithian Seventh-day Baptists, who, in 1770, resided in the
neighbourhood of Philadelphia. About this time it appears that Rev.
James Dunn, with several families of Sabbatarians, removed to this
place, where he instituted meetings and organized a church, over which
he assumed the pastoral relation. Elder Dunn lived to be very old, but
sometime previous to his decease, his reason failed, and he became
partially insane. This misfortune, combined with other disadvantages,
brought the church into a state of deep depression. In 1821, Rev. John
Davis, of Shiloh, made them a visit, and by their unanimous request
ordained Isaac Davis to the work of the ministry. Subsequently, however,
the church remained in very low circumstances, and in 1829, at which
time it was admitted into the General Conference, it only numbered
twenty-four members, and was without a settled pastor.[41] Beside the
occasional visits of missionaries, it remained thus destitute until
1836, when

Rev. Job Tyler removed into that region and assumed the pastoral charge.

Rev. Thomas B. Brown, his colleague in 1840 and 1841, and subsequently
his successor, was installed in 1842, and continued until 1844.

Morris Cole succeeded him as licentiate, in which relation he served the
church until 1846, when

Rev. A. A. F. Randolph, the present incumbent, was installed.


This church was organized in 1834, with very auspicious prospects, and

Rev. Stillman Coon became its pastor, in which relation he continued
until 1842, when, being transferred to another field, the church was
served by Decatur M. Clarke, as licentiate, for two or three years.

Rev. Sherman S. Griswold, assumed the parochial charge in 1845, and
continued two years.

Rev. T. Babcock, the present pastor, was installed in 1848.


At a very early period in the history of this district, Sabbath-keepers
were found among its inhabitants, chiefly emigrants from the older
settlements, but they were not gathered and arranged into a church until
1827. Subsequent to that period they remained in low and depressed
circumstances, which may be chiefly attributed to their want of the
services of a settled pastor. Recently, however, they have been mostly
supplied with ministerial assistance by

Rev. James L. Scott, until 1845, when they engaged the services of

Rev. Zuriel Campbell for one year; who was succeeded by Rev. Thomas E.

C. T. Champlin, the present incumbent, is a licentiate.


This church was organized in 1834, but remained for a long time without
many additions, or the services of a settled pastor.

Rev. Ray Green assumed the parochial charge in 1845, and continued until

Rev. Rowse Babcock, the present incumbent, was installed in 1848.

In reviewing the progress of Sabbatarianism within the bounds of this
Association, we find abundant reasons for encouragement. An interest
hitherto unprecedented in the modern history of the Sabbath-keepers, has
been awakened. Many have embraced the truth in opposition to the popular
sentiments of the day, among whom are several ministers of eminent
talent and piety, who may be reckoned as pillars in the cause of God.

The number of churches has proportionately increased, but it must be
confessed that many of them are infant bodies, utterly unable to support
the pastor whose services they require, and without whose presence they
can never rise to any degree of strength and usefulness. They want such
pastors as the Hopkinton, the Berlin, the Piscataway, and the Shiloh
Churches possessed during the first century of their existence. Men who
could preach the truth for its own sake, who could share with and for
their brethren—live as they did—dress as they did—and even work as they
did.[42] Under such plain but substantial guidance, these churches all
rose to great spiritual strength and permanence. Whatever honour belongs
to him who is instrumental in gathering and organizing a church, much
more is justly due to the one, who, at the expense of personal
sacrifices and temporal inconveniences, adopts the spiritual infant,
administers to its necessities, leads it through the green pastures and
by the still waters of the heavenly pilgrimage, and finally brings it to
such a degree of maturity that it is able to go alone. It is a
lamentable fact, that some of these churches for the want of such
leaders are even now threatened with extinction. Upon whom in such cases
must the delinquency rest?


Most of the churches embraced in this confederacy are of recent origin.
Many of them occupy highly advantageous situations in the broad, the
bright, the glorious West, and give every promise of rising to future
eminence and usefulness.


The history of this church, the oldest one in this Association, is
highly interesting. It appears that in 1745, a company of
Sabbath-keepers, including one John Davis, removed from Rhode Island, to
a place called Square, in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Here they
organized a church, and sent said Davis back to Westerly to be ordained,
which was done in 1746. They remained here nearly forty years, when the
whole church, men, women, and children, emigrated to the place that
their descendants now inhabit in Virginia. They went in wagons, drove
their cattle, and the cavalcade was many days in performing their
journey. Their venerable minister continued with them for many years. He
was also assisted by one Jacob Davis, who was esteemed as a very amiable
man and worthy minister.

Rev. John Davis his son and successor, was installed about 1800, and
continued to serve the church for a number of years. Zebulon Maxson,
Peter Davis, and Lewis A. Davis, were likewise associated with him in
the ministry at different times, and

Rev. Peter Davis finally succeeded him in 1834, in which relation he
still continues.

Ezekiel Bee is a licentiate in connexion with this church.


This church was constituted in 1805, and the large and respectable
family of Bonds—its first originators—appear to be still its principal
supporters. Richard Bond, while a resident in Maryland, became convinced
of the sacred character of the seventh day, from reading the Bible
alone. Once convinced of his duty he was not slow in performing it; but
embracing the Sabbath, he instituted weekly religious meetings in his
family, and was, for a long time, the priest of his household.
Subsequently he emigrated to Virginia, and became the founder of the
Lost Creek Church. This church has never been large, and for a great
proportion of the time it has been without the services of a stated
pastor, but the fact of its steady and uniform course amidst these
privations, affords conclusive evidence of the valuable materials of
which it is composed.

Richard C. Bond, the present incumbent, was installed in 1843.


This church, a branch of the former, was organized in 1833. It is in a
very weak and depressed condition, containing only seven members.


This church, another branch of the eldest fraternity, was constituted in
1842. It contains only nineteen members, and was served by Asa Bee and
Joshua S. Davis, as licentiates.


This church originated from a division, on the temperance question, in
the Sabbatarian church at Pike, in the same county. It was organized
with seventeen of the seceding members, in 1837. In 1840, it was blessed
with a precious revival, and received many additions.

Rev. Samuel Babcock is the present pastor, assisted by L. Lippencott as


This church was constituted in 1824, although Sabbatarians had for some
time previous resided in that region.

Rev. Simeon Babcock and Rev. Samuel F. Randolph, were for several years
connected with these churches, under whose ministry they were greatly
blessed, and the fraternity under consideration numbered 102 members.
Subsequently, however, it fell into a decline. The secession of a part
of its members, the death and removal of others, combined with other
causes, left it in a very weak condition. In 1842, James B. Davis was a
licentiate in its connexion. At present it has no stated pastor.


This church was organized in 1840, and contained nineteen members. It is
in a very pleasant situation, and gives great promise of future

Rev. Lewis A. Davis has been the father, and is the pastor of this


This church was organized in 1842, by emigrant members from Scott and
Brookfield. It is situated in a very pleasant country, and will probably
become, in time, a large and efficient body.

It is occupied as missionary ground, but has no stated pastor.


This church was organized in the same year as the former, and is much in
the same condition. It is blessed with the services of Rev. Joshua Hill,
as pastor.


This church was organized in 1840, and embraced thirty-eight members,
most of whom had removed from Pike, Clarke County, to this place. For
some time it appeared quite flourishing, and received several additions,
but it is at present in a very low and depressed condition, owing to the
want of ministerial assistance.


This church was gathered through the exertions of Rev. Samuel
Woodbridge, and was organized about 1790. All the knowledge that I have
been able to obtain of Elder Woodbridge is, that he was a First-day
Baptist minister, who became convinced of the sacred character of the
seventh day, and embraced it accordingly. Subsequently he removed to
this place with his family, where his preaching was blessed to the
conversion of many, a church organized, and a meeting-house erected,
whose pulpit he occupied until his death. This church likewise received
several additions from an emigration of the members of the Nottingham
and Pennapack fraternities, among whom we may mention the children of
Rev. Enoch David. But the death of Elder Woodbridge was the commencement
of its decline, as no one arose to take his place. Its ancient and
venerable meeting-house, being without a pastor, soon became almost
deserted. Some of its members removed to other parts, and others of them
went to receive their reward for loving the law and keeping the
commandments of God. In 1843, they numbered sixteen, and Lewis Sammons
served the church as licentiate. Since that period its decline has been
gradual, and it is a moral certainty that but a very short time will
elapse before we shall have to announce the disappearance of another
star from our constellation, the extinction of another luminary in the
moral world.


This small company of Sabbath-keepers was organized into a church in
1848, since which period it has received few additions, and has been in
a low and depressed condition for the want of pastoral services.



This large and flourishing church was organized in 1838, since which
period it has rapidly increased in numbers, and promises to become a
very useful and efficient body. For a long time this region was
considered as missionary ground. Recently, however,

Rev. Stillman Coon and Rev. Zuriel Campbell have connected themselves in
the pastoral relation with the church, in which they still continue.

Many of its members were emigrants from Scott and the older churches.


This church was organized in 1843, and

Wm. H. Redfield became its servant in the capacity of licentiate, which
relation he sustained for one year, when he was succeeded by

Rev. O. P. Hull, the present incumbent, under whose ministry it has
enjoyed many precious seasons, and received many additions.


This church, mostly composed of emigrants from New Jersey, was organized
in 1849, and contains twenty-one members, with a prospect of large

It has no settled pastor.


This church was organized in 1842, and Rev. Rolean M'Reynolds, formerly
a First-day Baptist, a minister of exemplary character and eminent
talent, became its pastor, in which relation he continued for some time.

At present it has no settled pastor.


This church was constituted in 1849, and consists mostly of emigrants
from Shiloh, with the family of

Rev. Samuel Davison, the present pastor.

It is said to occupy a pleasant and healthful situation.


A majority of the churches embraced in this Association may be
considered as enjoying all the advantages of a healthful climate and
fertile soil, with facilities for commerce. Although few in numbers,
their prospects are most encouraging, perhaps too much so. It is not in
the sunlight of worldly prosperity that the good seed rises to maturity
and bears much fruit: the mind, exulting in temporal advantages, the
accumulation of riches, or the acquisition of worldly honours, is too
apt to become cold and indifferent to the subject of religion. We trust
that it may not be so with these sister fraternities, who have designed
to hold up the light of the truth, and to witness for the Sabbath among
an apostatizing community. May they grow in grace as in numbers; may
they become rich in heavenly wisdom as in earthly goods; moreover, as
they have received liberally may they be disposed to give liberally, and
to bear in their hearts and upon their prayers the burdens of a
perishing world. In connexion with this subject another consideration is
presented. These churches occupy situations as desirable as can be found
throughout the whole country for mercantile, mechanical, or agricultural
avocations, and embrace every variety of soil, scenery, and climate.
Some are located on broad meadow-like prairie; others amid a diversified
landscape of hills and valleys; and yet others in the neighbourhood of
marts of commerce, and communicating with lakes and rivers. No brother
need forsake the Sabbath, in order to find a more eligible or
advantageous situation than could be obtained in contiguity with the
settlements of the Sabbath-keepers; and no person, whatever may be his
denominational character, who wishes to emigrate, will find in any
locality a state of society more elevated, moral, and Christian-like, or
schools more really useful and well-conducted than are to be found among
the Sabbatarians. In tracing the history of our denomination, there
occur many reflections of a pleasant and interesting character,
particularly in connexion with our missionary efforts. The review of the
fields of labour thus occupied would prefigure in a remarkable degree
our gradual expansion and increase. First we see those good old fathers,
over whose graves the flowers of centennial summers have bloomed and
withered, making short journeys from Rhode Island to New Jersey, and
perhaps to some parts of Pennsylvania. This, at that time, was
missionary ground. Subsequently the area was extended. Where was the
missionary ground in their youth to those venerable men who have grown
gray in the service of the sanctuary? In the wildly beautiful and
romantic region of western New York and Pennsylvania, where a glorious
harvest has arisen as the fruit of their labours. Then gradually
expanding westward, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa, became alternately the
theatres of new scenes of trial and triumph. Intimately connected with
the progress of our denomination in this region are the names of Rev. L.
A. Davis and Rev. J. L. Scott, both indefatigable missionaries, through
whose instrumentality several of these churches have been gathered and
organized. Is not our missionary ground still expanding? Does not the
time approach when the broad plains of the Missouri will be so occupied?
when the region of the Rocky Mountains will be so occupied? when Oregon
and California will be so occupied? Does it appear impossible or
improbable? All that is necessary for its realization, is the
application of means, and faith in the promises of God.


The reader who has followed me through this brief and imperfect sketch
of the history of the Seventh-day Baptist Denomination, cannot fail to
perceive that our churches have gradually and healthfully increased in
numbers, notwithstanding the continual opposition which is manifested to
the cause we advocate, and the continual discouragements that we have to
encounter both in society and business. It is now about one hundred and
seventy years since the first Seventh-day Baptist church was organized
in America; and the efforts which have been made within the last thirty
years have accomplished more to advance the interests of the cause than
what was done for nearly a century and a half preceding. This has not
been produced by any special excitement, but by increased energy and
courage, and by the multiplication of means for disseminating the truth;
and those means have but just begun to develope their influence. Our
Education, Missionary, and Tract Societies are yet in their infancy; our
denominational paper is only beginning to acquire a circulation
corresponding to its merits, indicative to other denominations of
Christians of our literary resources,—and yet effects that would have
astonished our ancestors have been realized. In 1805, we numbered eight
churches, and about one thousand five hundred communicants. Twenty-five
years increased that number to three thousand four hundred; but the five
subsequent years to more than four thousand five hundred. In 1840, we
numbered a fraction over five thousand members, which in three years
increased to six thousand. At this period, there are about seven
thousand communicants in the connexion. There are sixty-five churches
united with the Conference; sixty ordained ministers, and about thirty



                              Date of       Number of
 Designation.              Organization.   Communicants.

 Newport,                       1671              28
 First Hopkinton,               1708             344
 Second Hopkinton,              1835             173
 Third Hopkinton,               1835             166
 Marlborough,                   1811             131
 New York,                      1845              33
 Piscataway,                    1707             174
 Pawcatuck,                     1840             172
 Plainfield,                    1838              83
 Richmond,                      1843              25
 Shiloh,                        1787             261
 South Kingston,                1840              25
 Waterford,                     1784             110
 Westerly,                      1837              72


 Adams,                         1822             230
 First Brookfield,              1797             200
 Second Brookfield,             1823             109
 Third Brookfield,              1823             128
 De Ruyter,                     1806             111
 Diana,                         1846              18
 Hounsfield,                    1841              65
 Lincklean,                     1831             104
 Otselic,                       1830              50
 Preston,                       1806              81
 Richland,                      1845              14
 Scott,                         1820             176
 Truxton,                       1824              51
 Watson,                        1841              66
 First Verona,                  1820              70
 Second Verona,                 1837              31
 Berlin,                        1784             272
 Petersburg,                    1829             109


 Amity,                         1834              27
 First Alfred,                  1816             437
 Second Alfred,                 1831             249
 Clarence,                      1828              77
 Friendship,                    1824             155
 First Genesee,                 1827             171
 Second Genesee,                1834              60
 Third Genesee,                 1842              39
 Hartsville,                    1847              54
 Hayfield,                      1771              85
 Hebron,                        1833              61
 Independence,                  1834             118
 Pendleton,                     1844              20
 Persia,                        1832              59
 Scio,                          1834              40
 Ulysses,                       1845              17
 Wirt,                          1827              34


 First Hughes River, Va.,       1833              12
 Second Hughes River, Va.,      1840               7
 New Salem, Va.,                1745              71
 Lost Creek, Va.,               1805              68
 Jackson, Ohio,                 1843              40
 Northampton, Ohio,             1837              20
 Port Jefferson, Ohio,          1840              31
 Sciota, Ohio,                  1842              20
 Stokes, Ohio,                  1842              22
 Pike, Ohio,                    1824              30
 Madison, Ia.,                  1843              12
 Woodbridgetown, Pa.,           1780               4


 Albion, Wis.,                  1843              90
 Milton, Wis.,                  1838             112
 Walworth, Wis.,                1849              21
 Fredonia, Ia.,                 1842               9
 Farmington, Ill.,              1849              16

In dating the organization of the churches, I have had recourse to
Clarke's History, and to the old Conference Minutes; between which and
the minutes for 1849, I discovered some discrepancies. Should the reader
wish to institute a comparison between my work and other documents, he
will please refer to these sources, by which, for several reasons, I
consider it safest to be guided.

Besides these churches, there are many scattered families of
Sabbath-keepers in different parts of the Union. The Rev. Isaac P.
Labagh, a minister of eminent ability and attainment, in connexion with
the Episcopal Church in New York, is an observer of the Sabbath.


It may be observed, in conclusion, that these churches exhibit nothing
peculiar in their forms of worship. Psalmody is universally practised,
and the science of vocal music is cultivated in all the older churches.

Previous to 1822, Rippon's Collection of Hymns was generally used. About
that time a new collection, designed particularly for this denomination,
was made and published by a committee appointed for that purpose by the
General Conference. Recently that collection has been superseded by
another, which is in present use.

Sabbath schools and Bible classes have been instituted, and generally
receive attention in all the churches; and the same may be said of
conference and prayer meetings.

There are also tract and missionary societies within the bosoms of the
different fraternities, whose officers constitute the board for the
transaction of business.

[36] It is questionable, however, whether Mr. Jones will be an addition
to our society or not, since he appears to be a man of inferior
abilities and attainments, and one disposed to meddle with subjects
above his capacity or information.

[37] In the autumn of 1850 Elder Rogers was removed by death.

[38] The large and respectable families of the Swinneys, Tomlinsons, and
Thomases, were among the earliest members of the Shiloh Church.

[39] Since the above was written, this church has been visited by a most
extraordinary and afflictive dispensation of Providence. Elder Crandall,
supposed to be labouring under a temporary fit of insanity, put a period
to his existence by suspending himself from a beam in his barn, in
September, 1850.

[40] Since writing the above, I have been verbally informed that Elder
Joel Green was called to preside over the church at Hounsfield, as
colleague to Elder William Green, to the great dissatisfaction of the
latter, and in consequence of which, such a great difficulty arose, that
the ministrations of both were suspended,—but I will not vouch for the
accuracy of this statement.

[41] For all the incidents relating to the early history of this
organization, I am indebted to Rev. John Davis, of Shiloh.

[42] One of these fathers, who was considered no mean preacher in his
day, and who was instrumental, not only in organizing, but in supporting
and bringing to maturity an infant church, used to remark that he
desired no better time for studying a sermon than when following the



The Keithian Baptists were seceders from the Quakers of Pennsylvania,
and were so called from their leader, the famous George Keith, who, in
1691, with forty-eight other individuals, withdrew from the communion of
the Quakers, and set up separate meetings in different places, and a
general one at Burlington, in opposition to that of Philadelphia.
Subsequently they published several works of a controversial character,
and finally, by resigning themselves to the guidance of Scripture, they
became altogether Baptist in their religious practices. At the time of
this change in their denominational character they numbered four
churches, of which one was situated at Upper Providence, another at
Philadelphia, a third at Southampton, and a fourth at Dublin. These
continued for some time, but in 1700, a difference arose among them
concerning the Sabbath, that broke up their societies. Some of them
contended rightly that the original Sabbath remained unchanged, and that
its observance was still incumbent upon Christians. The division appears
to have been fomented by one Abel Noble, who, according to Morgan
Edwards, came to this country in 1684, and who appears to have been the
first Seventh-day Baptist in the state of Pennsylvania. His name is
found among those who, in 1691, signed the articles of the Keithian
separation. By him was the first Keithian baptized in 1697, and by him
were they gained over to the observance of the seventh day. Through his
instrumentality four churches of that order were constituted. The first
at Newtown, in Upper Providence, about twenty-four miles from the city
of Philadelphia. Their meeting was held at the house of one David
Thomas. Three families belonged to this place, of whom seven individuals
were baptized members of the church, in 1770.

Another society resided at Pennapack, in the county of Philadelphia. It
was to this society that Richard Sparks belonged, and to it he donated
the lot of land for a burial-place, which subsequently became the
property of the Shiloh and Piscataway Churches. William Davis was their
minister. He was baptized in 1697, by Rev. Thomas Killingworth, of
Cohansey, now Greenwich. In 1701, they built a place for worship in
Oxford township, on a lot given to them by Thomas Graves, but neglecting
to take a deed in due time, the Episcopalians dispossessed them of both
the house and lot. In 1711, their preacher, William Davis, leaving them,
and no one rising to supply the vacancy, they were soon scattered like
sheep without a shepherd. The third society of them was at Nottingham,
about fifty miles from Philadelphia. Their meetings were sometimes held
at the house of Abigail Price, and at others in the dwelling of Samuel
Bond, in the contiguous state of Maryland. The Sabbatarian families to
which Nottingham was central, were six, of which eight persons were
baptized. Here a yearly meeting was kept during the last week in August,
1770. This church originated from the Keithians at Upper Providence; but
being destitute of a settled pastor, it received few additions. Its most
influential members were the family of Samuel Bond, whose son, Richard
Bond, became subsequently the founder of a Sabbatarian church in

Another society of them was in East Nantmill Township, about thirty-two
miles from Philadelphia. Here was a meeting-house, built in 1762, on a
lot of one acre square, the gift of David Rogers. The Sabbatarian
families in this place were six, of whom ten individuals were baptized.
They had no settled pastor, and subsequently they removed in a body to
French Creek, near Meadville, and became the fathers of the present
church at Hayfield. Thus it appears that in 1770 there were twenty-six
families of Sabbatarians in Pennsylvania, and thirty-one baptized
individuals of that order. That they had two yearly meetings and one
meeting-house. At this time also they had one minister, Rev. Enoch
David. He was born in 1718, at Duck Creek, county of Kent, in the state
of Delaware; called to the ministry, at Welshart, in 1751; and ordained
in 1769. He was married four times, and became the father of nine
children. Ebenezer, his oldest son, was considered a very promising
young man. He entered Rhode Island college as a student in 1770, and
became a member of the Newport Church the same year. He was ordained to
the work of the ministry in 1775, and being a young man, accepted the
office of chaplain in the American army, under Washington, where he
remained until his death, in 1778. He was highly esteemed by both
officers and soldiers, and afforded every promise of future eminence and

About this time, Zedekiah David, with several others, removed to Fayette
County, and became the founders of a Seventh-day Baptist church in that
place, where Rev. Samuel Woodbridge exercised his ministry for many
years. To his children and to the church in this place, Rev. Enoch David
paid a visit in the autumn of 1795, where, preaching in the open air, he
caught a violent cold, which settled on his lungs, and finally
terminated in a consumption, of which he died in the seventy-seventh
year of his age, and the fortieth of his ministry. His remains were
deposited in the burial-place at Woodbridgetown, in the certain hope of
a joyful resurrection.

This venerable man was one of the good old ministers of the ancient
school, who could preach the truth for its own sake, and who neither
required nor expected a salary. He supported his numerous family by
working at his trade, that of a tailor. Four times he was left a
widower, and each time with the care of an infant. He lived to see six
of his children consigned to the grave. He had an estate of some value
in the city of Philadelphia, which was sold at his decease and the
proceeds divided among his family.

From the church in East Nantmill Township, Pennsylvania, a church was
formed on Broad River, in the parish of St. Mark, South Carolina, in
1754. In 1770, it had increased to eighteen families, of whom
twenty-four persons were baptized. At this time there were several
churches of the Dunker Baptists, in this state, who observed the seventh

In 1759, eight families of the Seventh-day Baptists passed over from
South Carolina, and settled near Suckaseesing, in Georgia. Their leader
was Richard Gregory, son of John Gregory. Another of their preachers was
named Clayton. After remaining here about five years, the whole company
returned to Edisto, in South Carolina.

It is believed that these churches have been for a long time extinct.


The Reformation in Germany and Holland was productive of great and
glorious effects, although it was not complete. Errors in doctrine,
nearly or quite as incongruous with Scripture as those abandoned, were
retained; ceremonies, nearly equal in absurdity to those prohibited,
were still celebrated; and persecutions, exhibiting more similarity to
the practices of Papacy than to the meekness and quietude of pure
Christianity, were still prosecuted. The Reformation required to be
reformed, and of this many pious and holy men were aware. At length, in
1694, a violent controversy arose in nearly all the Protestant churches
of those two countries, in consequence of the attempts which were being
made to promote a practical and vital religion. At this time the pious
Spener was ecclesiastical superintendent of the court of Saxony. He was
likewise at the head of the party distinguished for its advocacy of
reformatory measures. However, neither his dignified and important
station, nor the fact that the tenets of his followers were predicated
upon scripture according to its literal interpretation, could preserve
them from falling under the odium of heresy, and incurring the effects
of a virulent opposition. Their doctrines were examined by the
ecclesiastical dignitaries, who, instead of instituting a comparison
between them and Holy Writ, sought to discover whether or not they were
conformable to the tenets deemed orthodox by the Consistory of
Wittemberg. The decision was in the negative; hence they were suppressed
in their public lectures and ministrations. This prohibition, while it
shut up churches, and hushed the eloquence of public lecturers, savoured
of persecution, and consequently excited a spirit of inquiry in the
minds of the multitude. In such cases as this, reverend divines would
consult their own interest by bestowing greater attention upon the study
of human nature. Persecution agitates the public mind, excites the
sympathy of some, the curiosity of all, and promulgates the very
sentiments it is endeavouring to restrain. Besides, persecutors are not
omniscient, conventicles will be held, and to their other charms that of
secrecy is then added. In the year 1708, Alexander Mack, of Schriesheim,
and seven others in Schwartzenen, Germany, met together, regularly to
examine, in a careful and impartial manner, the doctrines of the New
Testament, in order to ascertain what obligations it imposes upon
professing Christians. These inquiries terminated in the formation of
the society now called the Dunkers, or First-day German Baptists.
Persecution, while it scattered them, likewise led to the dissemination
of their doctrines; some were driven to Crefelt, in the Duchy of Cleves,
and the mother church voluntarily removed to Sevustervin, in Friesland,
whence its members emigrated to America in 1719, and dispersed to
different parts of Pennsylvania. In 1723, they formed a church at
Germantown, under the pastoral care of Peter Becker. The rapid growth of
this church has rarely been excelled, and it received continual
accessions of new members from the banks of the Wissahickon, and from
Lancaster County. In this county, another community was soon after
established by Conrad Beissel, a native of Germany. He was a man of
eminent piety and ability, much given to metaphysical speculations, and
distinguished for his love of solitude. Being determined to seek out the
true obligations of the Word of God, independent of all preconceived
opinions and traditional observances, he was soon led to perceive that
the sentiments of the Dunkers were erroneous so far as they related to
the day designed to be hallowed as the Sabbath. It appeared evident to
him "that the seventh day was the command of the Lord God, and that day
being established and sanctified by the Great Jehovah, for ever, and no
change, nor authority for change, ever having been announced to man, by
any power sufficient to set aside the solemn decree of the Almighty, he
felt it to be his duty to contend for the observance of that day." These
opinions he maintained, not only in many eloquent discourses, but, about
the year 1725, he published a short treatise which entered into a full
and very able discussion of this point. The publication of this tract
formed, in more ways than one, an epoch in the community, and created so
much stir and excitement among the Society at Mill Creek, that Beissel
quietly retired from the settlement, and took up his abode in a small
cell on the banks of the Cocalico, which had been occupied previously by
one Elimelech, an anchorite. Here, retired from all the world, he
sought, by prayer, fasting, and meditation, to converse with superior
intelligences, and to perfect himself in holy knowledge. But the
community that had opposed his fervent and spiritual teachings when
present, found his absence a great deprivation, and although many
inquiries were made, it was a long time before the place of his
retirement became known. By this time many members of the society at
Mill Creek had become convinced of the truth of his proposition relative
to the Sabbath, who now removed and settled around him in solitary
cottages. They rested from secular labours and celebrated the public
services of religion upon the original Sabbath, the seventh day of the
week, which has ever since been observed by their descendants.

In 1728, they resolved themselves into an ecclesiastical body, and a
monastic society was instituted in 1732, for the accommodation of which
suitable buildings were erected. Other buildings were likewise erected
by the community, and all together constituted the irregular, yet lovely
village of Ephrata. Both men and women were admitted into the convent,
and both appear to have been singularly attached to the monastic state.
They wore the habit of the Capuchins, or White Friars, which consisted
of a shirt, trowsers and vest, with a long white gown and cowl, of
woollen web in winter, and linen in the summer. That of the sisters
differed only in the substitution of skirts for trowsers, and some
slight peculiarities in the form of the cap. All who entered the
cloister received monastic names. Their first Prior was Onesimus,
(Israel Eckerlin,) who was succeeded by Peter Miller, surnamed Jabez.
Beissel, whose monastic name was Friedsam, received the title of
Father—spiritual father,—and subsequently that of Gottrecht, implying
together, Peaceable God-right, from the brethren of the community. "In
the year 1740, there were thirty-six single brethren in the cloister,
and thirty-five sisters; and at one time the society, including the
members living in the neighbourhood, amounted to near three hundred."
The government and arrangement of this little community were perfectly
republican, and all the members stood upon the most fraternal equality
and freedom. They were bound by no vows, neither had they any written
covenant. The New Testament was their confession of faith, their code of
laws, and their rule of discipline. Such property as accumulated with
the society, by donation and from the labour of the single brethren and
sisters, was held as common stock, but none were obliged to devote their
personal property to this purpose or to resign any of their temporal
possessions. A considerable income was derived from the farm, which,
with the proceeds of the grist-mill, paper-mill, oil-mill, fulling-mill,
and the industry of the brethren and sisters, sufficed to support the
society in a comfortable manner.

The principles of this society appear to have been superficially
understood and partially represented by most writers upon the subject,
although there is nothing about them mysterious or intricate.

"They receive the Bible as the only rule of faith, covenant, and code of
laws for church government. They do not admit the least license with the
letter and spirit of the Scripture, especially with the New Testament,
do not allow one tittle to be added or rejected in the administration of
the ordinances, but practise them precisely as they are instituted and
made an example by Jesus Christ in his word.

"They believe in the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the trinity
of the Godhead; having unfurled this distinctive banner on the first
page of a hymn book which they had printed for the society as early as
1739, viz.: 'There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the
Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three
that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood;
and these three agree in one.'

"They believe that salvation is of grace, and not of works; and they
rely solely on the merits and atonement of Christ. They believe, also,
that that atonement is sufficient for every creature; that Christ died
for all who will call upon his name, and offer fruits meet for
repentance; and that all who come to Christ are drawn of the Father.

"They contend for the observance of the original Sabbath, believing that
it requires an authority equal to that of the Great Institutor to change
any of his decrees. They maintain, that as he blessed and sanctified
that day for ever, which has never been abrogated in his word, nor any
scripture to be found to warrant that construction; it is still as
binding as it was when it was reiterated amid the thunders of Mount
Sinai. To alter so positive and hallowed a commandment of the Almighty,
they consider would require an explicit edict from the Great Jehovah. It
was not foretold by any of the prophets, that with the new dispensation
there would be any change in the Sabbath or any of the commandments.
Christ, who declared himself the Lord of the Sabbath, observed the
seventh day, and made it the day for his special ministrations; nor did
he authorize any change. The Apostles have not assumed to do away the
original Sabbath, or give any command to substitute the first for the
seventh day.

"They hold to Apostolic baptism—and administer trine immersion, with the
laying on of hands and prayer while the recipient yet remains kneeling
in the water.

"They celebrate the Lord's Supper at night, washing, at the same time,
each other's feet, agreeably to his command and example. This is
attended to in the evening after the close of the Sabbath—the Sabbath
terminating at sunset of the seventh day; thus making the supper an
imitation of that instituted by Christ, and resembling also the meeting
of the Apostles on the first day to break bread, which has produced much
confusion in some minds in regard to the proper day to be observed."

Although celibacy was neither enforced nor required, it was considered a
virtue. There was no prohibition of marriage or of legalized sexual
intercourse, as many writers have erroneously stated, but when two
concluded to be joined in wedlock, they were assisted by the society.
They conceived with Paul, whose opinion and practice does not find many
clerical imitators at the present day, that celibacy was more conducive
to a holy life. There are many passages of Scripture to that effect,
which they, unlike the ministers of other Protestant denominations, kept
in perpetual remembrance. "He that is unmarried, careth for the things
that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but he that is
married careth for the things of the world, how he may please his wife.
There is this difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried
woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in
body and in spirit; but she that is married careth for the things of the
world, how she may please her husband. I say therefore to the unmarried
and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I." They likewise,
and, in my opinion, truly considered that those who sacrificed conjugal
endearments for Christ's sake, were better fitted for, and will enjoy
the highest places in glory. Hear the sublime language of the Revelator:
"I looked up, and lo, a Lamb stood on Mount Zion, and with him an
hundred and forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in
their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven as the voice of many
waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of
harpers harping with their harps; and they sung as it were a new song
before the throne, and before the four beasts and the elders; and no man
could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which
were redeemed from the earth. These are they that are not defiled with
women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb
whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the
first fruits unto God and the Lamb." This idea was fondly cherished, and
continually inculcated. It formed the foundation of the monastic
institution at Ephrata, whose support and prosperity was entirely
dependent on its being properly appreciated. It formed the subject of
many an eloquent harangue, the theme of many a pleasant song, the object
around which the holiest memories gathered, and with which the sweetest
associations were combined. It was sedulously kept before them by their
ministers and teachers in its most favourable light, and all the
scripture susceptible of this application, which was not a little, was
brought to excite their enthusiasm, and to inspire them with
faithfulness and perseverance. It promised capabilities for the divine
life which others could not possess, and held out to their enraptured
imaginations the brighter rewards of heaven.

Their ministers never received a stated salary. In their opinion the
Gospel was destined to be free, "without money and without price," and
they thought that every one called to preach the word, should do it from
the love of the cause, and in this matter, as in that of celibacy, to
follow the advice and example of Paul. Nevertheless, their ministers
were always well supplied with such necessaries as the brethren
themselves enjoyed. Individual members gave as presents whatever they
could conveniently spare, in money, goods, and the like; and whenever
the minister travelled for religious purposes, he was supplied from the
treasury to bear his expenses.

This is not the place, neither am I disposed to institute any comparison
between the doctrines of the Scripture, according to its literal
interpretation, and the great and leading tenets of the German
Seventh-day Baptists of Pennsylvania. However, it is evident, from the
most casual observation, that few religious communities have adhered
more closely to the letter and language of Holy Writ, have been more
scrupulous about conformity to worldly opinions and practices, or have
given, in their conduct, a more faithful and practical exemplification
of Christianity. Their peculiarities sprung, likewise, from the same
source as many of their virtues; and these will be adverted to in
replying to the charges of error which have been urged against them,
with more gravity than truth, by many writers, who were, probably,
offended by the pure and primitive simplicity of their tenets and

It is not necessary to attempt a full exposition of their peculiar
views, or to describe the minutiæ of the manner in which they perform
the ceremonies and ordinances of religion. However, in their regular
worship, they commence with singing; then prayers, the assembly
kneeling; then singing again; after which the minister requests any
brother to read a chapter out of the Scriptures, which they are at
liberty to choose from either the Old or the New Testament. This the
minister expounds, tracing its bearings and historical connexions with
the other parts of the Bible. Then the exhorters enforce the duties it
inculcates; and should any brother or single sister be able to improve
the subject to the edification of the others, or to make any remarks
relative to the topic, there is perfect liberty for such an expression.
Prayer and singing, with the reading of a psalm, conclude the
service,—than which nothing can be more solemn and impressive.

Ignorance, in a writer, is nearly or quite as culpable as
misrepresentation; for no one has any right to assume the
responsibilities of the historian, without first making himself the
master of his subject. By a contrary course, he may inadvertently expose
the most innocent and virtuous community to the reprobation and ridicule
of contemporaries, and the abhorrence of posterity. Few societies have
suffered more in their reputation from ignorant and unprincipled
authors, than the society of Ephrata; others, however, have borne
honourable testimony to its merits.

The account of their sentiments in Buck's Theological Dictionary, is a
tissue of misrepresentation and calumny, unworthy a place in such a
work. We are there told that their "principal tenets appear to be these:
that future happiness is only obtained by penance and outward
mortification in this life; and that Jesus Christ, by his meritorious
sufferings, became the Redeemer of mankind in general, so that each
individual of the human race, by a life of abstinence and restraint, may
work out his own salvation. Nay, they go so far as to admit of works of
supererogation, and declare that a man may do much more than he is in
justice or equity bound to do, and that his superabundant works may
therefore be applied to the salvation of others." This, as well as the
accounts given of them in many other English books, is a gross
falsehood. Gordon's Gazetteer of Pennsylvania is almost equally
reprehensible, as the account which it contains was first published by
the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and contains many erroneous
charges, that are entirely without foundation, and could only have
originated in gross ignorance or shameful wickedness. Among other
misrepresentations, the good and devout founder is declared to have been
a crafty and designing usurper of ecclesiastical authority, and as
assuming honours and titles. These statements are utterly unfounded.
Beissel had been educated in the Calvinistic faith, but perceiving its
dissimilarity to the word of God, as respects church government,
ministerial salaries, and other things of a like nature, he emigrated to
America in order to enjoy liberty of conscience, and he left the society
of Dunkers at Mill Creek, because his peculiarities relative to the
Sabbath created some dissension. It is true that he was drawn from his
seclusion, but it is no less true, that the people whom he had forsaken,
sought him out and came and settled around him, entreating his ministry.
After this time he devoted his whole time, life, and property to advance
the welfare of the society, giving the management of the secular affairs
entirely into the hands of others, while he gave his attention wholly to
instructing the people in the word of life. The doctrine of celibacy
which he taught was no new-fangled idea, being quite as old as the time
of the Apostle Paul. He received the title of "Father," and "Gottrecht,"
from the brethren, instead of presumptuously assuming them himself.

In their habits of life, they have been equally misrepresented. They are
not accustomed to wear long beards, as is frequently said of them,
neither did the rules of the society forbid meat for the purpose of
mortifying the natural appetite, or require them to repose on wooden
benches with billets of wood for pillows, as acts of penance.
Nevertheless they did so, but their conduct admits of a different
explanation. They practised austerity from considerations of economy.
With limited means and restricted circumstances they had undertaken an
expensive enterprise. Hence, all their arrangements, though
distinguished for neatness, were extremely simple. Wooden flagons,
wooden goblets, and wooden trays were used in the administration of the
sacrament, and although they have been presented with richer and
costlier ones, the same service is still in use. Their domestic and
kitchen utensils were likewise made of wood. The plates off which they
ate, were thin octangular pieces of poplar boards. Their forks and
candlesticks, and indeed every article that could be, were made of that
material. Subsequently, when they were relieved from the burdens of
their expensive enterprise, they generally enjoyed the cot for nightly
repose, and partook, though in the most moderate and temperate manner,
of the comforts, and even some of the luxuries of life. Temperance
societies had not been instituted, "but there were no ardent spirits
used in building the whole village, although the timber was hewn and all
the boards sawn by hand during the winter months." The society was a
social community, organized for mutual support and assistance. Its
members were distinguished for kindness, hospitality, and promptness in
affording relief to the suffering, whatever might be their character or
denomination. The following account of them is taken from a work,
entitled the Journal of an Officer, which was published in 1784. He
says, "I came among this people by accident, but I left them with
regret. I have found out, however, that appearances may be delusive, and
that where we expected to meet with a cold reservedness, we may
sometimes be surprised by exhibitions of the most charming affability
and disinterested benevolence. They all acted the part of the good
Samaritan to me, for which I hope to be ever grateful; and while
experiencing the benefits of their kindnesses and attentions, witnessing
the sympathies and emotions expressed in their countenances, and
listening to the words of hope and pity with which they consoled the
poor sufferers, is it strange that, under such circumstances, their
uncouth garments appeared more beautiful in my eyes than ever did the
richest robes of fashion, and their cowls more becoming than
head-dresses adorned with diamonds, and flowers, and feathers? Until I
entered the walls of Ephrata, I had no idea of pure and practical
Christianity. Not that I was ignorant of the forms, or even of the
doctrines of religion. I knew it in theory before; I saw it in practice

"Many a poor wounded soldier will carry to his grave the sweet
remembrance of those gentle sisters, who watched so patiently by his
side, supported his fainting head, administered the healing draught, and
cheered him with both earthly and heavenly hopes. What mattered it to
him that their words were couched in an unknown dialect; he read their
meaning in the deep, earnest, liquid eyes. Eternity likewise will bear a
glorious testimony to the labour of the Prior, who could converse in the
English language. Many a poor fellow, who entered there profane,
immoral, and without hope or God in the world, left it rejoicing in the

This officer had been wounded in the battle of Brandywine, and had been,
with many of his comrades, despatched to the hospital at Ephrata. I
shall allude to this circumstance again. Morgan Edwards bears the
following testimony of this people.

"From their recluse and ascetic habits, sour aspects and rough manners
might be expected; but on the contrary, a smiling innocence and meekness
grace their countenances, and a softness of tone and accent adorns their
conversation, and makes their deportment gentle and obliging. Their
singing is charming, partly owing to the pleasantness of their voices,
the variety of the parts they carry on together, and the devout manner
of the performance." The following character of Beissel is derived from
the same source.

"He was very strict in his morals, and practised self-denial to an
uncommon degree. Enthusiastic and whimsical he certainly was, but an
apparent devoutness and sincerity ran through all his oddities. He was
not an adept in any of the liberal arts and sciences except music, in
which he excelled. He composed and set to music, in two, four, five and
seven parts, a volume of hymns, and another of anthems. He left behind
him several books in manuscript, curiously written and embellished, and
likewise published several other works." One writer has observed, "that
the sisters apparently took little delight in their state of single
blessedness, as two only, (aged and ill-favoured ones, we may suppose,)
remained steadfast in the renunciation of marriage." This invidious
remark is entirely unfounded; for though they were not required to
renounce matrimony on entering the cloister, only four or five of the
whole number that were received in it as inmates, during the period of
one hundred and ten years, left and were married. One of these became
the wife of a gentleman of Philadelphia, and afterwards, amid the cares
and burdens of a large family, she regretted her change exceedingly, as
did all the others who were induced to leave the "stille einsamkeit."
"The others remained steadfast in their state of single blessedness, and
now, with the exception of those remaining in the convent, lie beside
each other in the beautiful cemetery in the foreground of the village."
These gratuitous aspersions would be passed over with the silence they
deserve, were it not that a fresh currency has been given to them by a
late popular work. They have likewise been charged with denying the
doctrine of original sin, and the eternity of punishment. They do not
indeed believe that every individual of mankind is included in the
condemnation of Adam, for many who are born, die without sinning; but
they admit that in the fall of Adam, all disposition to good was lost,
and "that the whole race inherit a natural innate depravity, which will
lead them to sin, and prove their sure condemnation, unless they repent
and are born again of the Holy Spirit." Beissel wrote a most curious and
ingenious treatise upon this subject, in which he enters into long
disquisitions on the nature and intellectual capabilities of Adam in his
primeval state of innocence. He then explains in what manner he was
affected by the fall, and with it elucidates many passages of scripture,
which have escaped the attention of men of more erudition, but less
profundity of penetration and genius. His views, however, though deep
and ingenious, are somewhat mysterious, and would, in the present day,
be considered as little better than the hypothetical speculations of an
overwrought imagination. However, there is nothing that can be construed
as denying the doctrine of human depravity, and the woeful consequences
that the fall of Adam has entailed upon his posterity, unless each one
be regenerated by the sanctifying influences of the Spirit of Grace.
They never received the doctrine of universal salvation in the usual
acceptation of that term. They believe in the sure reward of submission
and obedience to the requisitions of God, through faith in Christ, but
they teach likewise, that the "wages of sin is death," death to
holiness, and exclusion from the joys of heaven and the presence of the
Lord. It is not to be denied that the idea of a universal restoration of
all things was cherished by some of them in former days, and that it was
based upon several passages of Scripture, particularly the fifteenth
chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians, and the twentieth
chapter of the Revelations. Nevertheless it was never taught as a
doctrine, but was treated with the greatest caution and delicacy by the
pastor, and aged members, in private circles, and was always accompanied
by expressions of the necessity of making their calling and election
sure, that thereby they might be prepared to participate in the first
resurrection. Many of the brethren were no less distinguished for high
literary attainments than for piety, and they established a school at a
very early period which afforded every facility for the acquisition of
classical and scientific education, and which gained for itself so
honourable a reputation, that many young men from the first families of
Baltimore and Philadelphia were sent here to be educated. A Sabbath
school was likewise instituted, which afforded the best facilities for
moral and religious instruction. It flourished many years, and was
attended by important consequences. The minds of the juvenile population
were excited to a state of religious inquiry, which increased to what
would be termed, in these days, a powerful revival, accompanied by the
most intense excitement. The scholars met together, before and after
common school hours, for prayer and exhortation, but their zeal, at
least in the minds of the older brethren, ran into excess, which induced
Beissel to discourage the enterprise, and also to object to the erection
of a building, which was already commenced, for the especial use of the
school, to be called Succoth. This Sabbath school had been instituted
under the following circumstances. Ludwig Hœcker, or Brother Obed, as he
was designated, who was the teacher of the common school, perceiving
that many of the indigent children were kept from regular attendance by
necessary employments during the week, projected the plan of holding a
school in the afternoon of the Sabbath, where instruction would be
administered to those of all circumstances. It is not known, neither is
it material, in what year the Sabbath school was commenced. Hœcker took
up his residence at Ephrata in the year 1739, and it is presumed that he
commenced the enterprise soon after. By reference to the minutes of the
Society, we find that the materials for the building were provided in
1749. After the battle of Brandywine, the Sabbath school-room, with
others, was turned into a hospital, which it continued to be for some
time. The school thus broken up, was never afterwards resumed. The
honour of having projected and successfully introduced the present
general system of Sunday School instruction, is certainly due to Robert
Raikes; but the Seventh-day Baptists of Ephrata had established and
maintained in operation for upwards of thirty years, a Sabbath school,
nearly half a century before one was opened by the Gloucester

In 1777, the Society began to decline, but the declension cannot justly
be attributed to the causes which some writers have erroneously stated.
Beissel died in 1768, and his successor, Peter Miller, was a man of much
higher attainments and more eminent mental powers. Indeed, Miller had
the principal management of the establishment during Beissel's time, and
to his extraordinary abilities the early prosperity of the institution
is mainly imputable. Its decline, however, can be rationally accounted
for, without supposing either incapability or degeneracy in those who
were intrusted with the direction of its affairs, especially when we
take into consideration the great changes in politics and government
that transpired, and the consequent alterations in public sentiment. The
seventeenth century was prolific in monastic institutions, of which this
was one; and the feelings and motives that animated its founders were
decidedly European. During the first fifty years from the establishment
of Ephrata, a remarkable progress was made in liberal opinions, and with
the march of intellect and politics, different opinions with regard to
religious institutions were also entertained. It was commenced as a
social community, and as such it succeeded admirably, and was adapted to
every purpose of life, when surrounded by a howling wilderness, filled
with wild beasts, and wilder inhabitants; but when the hand of
improvement had turned the forests into fields smiling with plenty, and
the neighbouring country became filled with a dense and promiscuous
population, it appeared evident to all that it was not compatible with
the circumstances of the times, or the spirit of the age. Besides this,
its members were exposed to incessant persecutions, and were kept in
perpetual contentions and turmoils by their envious neighbours, which,
of themselves, were enough to have produced a declension in the Society.

The community at Ephrata still comprises a small band who retain the
principles and manners of their forefathers, and who meet regularly to
worship God on the evenings and mornings of their Sabbaths. But although
they have the forms, they are without the spirit or the zeal of their
ancestors. In ancient times they had bestowed upon them in ridicule the
epithet of "Zealots." Zeal, however, when it is according to knowledge,
is commendable; under any circumstances it is preferable to
indifference. Christianity without zeal is like the body without life,
and it is an honour to any denomination to receive, even in ridicule, a
title designative of faithfulness and activity. Ephrata would be a
paradise now as it was in former days, did its inhabitants possess, in
the same degree, that desirable quality which those of old possessed,
and for which they were stigmatized. Yet in this zeal there was neither
noise nor display. It was not the occasional gleam of the meteor, but
the pure, steady, unchangeable light of the pole-star, so quiet and
all-absorbing, in which the world, with its pomps and vanities, was
sacrificed upon the altar of pure and constant devotion. They lived and
moved in the world, performed the routine of all the duties devolving
upon them, and cherished the highest and holiest affections; but their
treasures and their hearts were centred in heaven. Could they stoop to
quaff from the springs of earth, who had once slaked their thirst at the
fountains of immortality? could those ears be delighted with terrestrial
songs, that had once been ravished by the unimaginable harmonics of the
upper world? How would they thirst and long for another draught! How
would they wait and listen to catch another echo! And how would the
ignorant world deride their enthusiasm and mock their zeal! Of those
who, at Ephrata, were derided as zealots and enthusiasts, Mr. Winchester
makes the following declaration: "God will always have a visible people
upon earth, and these (speaking of the Society at Ephrata), are his
people at present, above any other in the world. They walk in all the
commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless, both in public and
private. They bring up their children (alluding to the married members),
in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; no noise, rudeness, shameless
mirth, loud laughter, is heard within their doors. The law of kindness
is in their mouths; no sourness or moroseness disgraces their religion,
and whatsoever they believe their Saviour teaches, they practise,
without inquiring or regarding what others do. They read much; they sing
and pray much; they are constant attendants upon the worship of God;
their dwelling-houses are all houses of prayer."

Although Ephrata has degenerated—is now spiritually dead—the truth has
not become extinct, but is still extending. From this parent society
several branches have originated. One in Bedford County was founded in
1753, which is still in a flourishing situation. Another in York County,
about fifteen miles from the town of York, was founded on the Bermudian
Creek, in 1758, of which some of the members remain, although they have
been without a leader for many years. A third branch was established at
Snowhill, in Franklin County, under the superintendence of Peter Lehman
and Andrew Snowberger, where the greatest part of the Society are still
resident. Besides these, there are other smaller branches in Western


Ephrata is located in the interior of the state of Pennsylvania, and is
one of its earliest settlements. Few places in America are hallowed by
more interesting associations, and none perhaps are connected with an
institution of such a peculiar character and ancient establishment. It
occupies a pleasant position in Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, at
the intersection of the Reading Road with the Downingtown and Harrisburg
Turnpike, sixty miles northwest of Philadelphia, thirteen northeast from
Lancaster, and thirty-eight from Harrisburg. At present this name is
applied to the vicinity of Ephrata proper for at least a mile along the
turnpike, making Cocalico Creek the centre. Thus considered, it contains
many dwellings, several stores, two taverns, and a paper mill. New
Ephrata is a small village, about a mile further west on the turnpike.

Ephrata proper is an irregular enclosed village, lying in a triangle
formed by the turnpike, the old Reading Road, and the Cocalico Creek,
and belongs entirely to a Seventh-day Baptist community. It contains the
first Protestant monastery established in America, and several other
buildings for the accommodation of the Society; to which is attached and
belongs a farm containing one hundred and forty acres of land, with a
grist and saw mill. The post-office bearing this name is situated half a
mile from the original village.

Kedar and Zion, a meeting-house and convent, were the first buildings of
consequence erected by the Society. They were located in a pleasant
situation, on a hill called Mount Zion. In the meadow below, larger
accommodations were subsequently erected, comprising a sisters' house,
called Saron, to which a large chapel is attached, with a "Saal," where
are held the Agapas or love-feasts. They likewise erected a brothers'
house, called Bethania, with which was connected the large meeting-room
with galleries, in which the whole Society assembled for public worship,
in the times of their prosperity. These edifices are still standing,
surrounded by smaller buildings, which were occupied as a
printing-office, school-house, bake-house, almonry, and others for
different useful purposes, on one of which the town clock is erected.
These buildings are all of singular character, and very ancient
architecture, all the outside walls being covered with shingles. The two
houses for the brethren and sisters are large and commodious, being
three or four stories high. Each contains an apartment particularly
appropriated to their night meetings, and the main buildings are divided
into small compartments, of which each building contains fifty or sixty.
The rooms are so arranged, that six dormitories, which are barely large
enough to contain a cot, a closet, and an hourglass, surround one of
larger dimensions, in which each subdivision pursued their respective
avocations. These silent cells and long winding passages possess an
indescribably romantic air; and one can scarcely divest himself of the
belief that he is threading the tortuous windings of some old baronial
castle. The ceilings have an elevation of about seven feet; the passages
leading to the cells, or "kammers," as they are designated, and through
the different parts of both convents, are barely wide enough to admit
one person, and if two should meet from opposite directions, one would
invariably be obliged to retreat. The doors of the kammers are five feet
high, and twenty inches wide; and the windows, of which each contains
but one, is only eighteen by twenty-four inches. The walls of all these
rooms, including the public meeting-room, the private chapels, the
saals, and the dormitories, are nearly covered with ink paintings, or,
in other words, with large sheets of elegant penmanship. Some of these
are texts from the Scriptures, handsomely done in ornamented Gothic
letters, called in the German, "Fractur-schrifften."

The sheets of paper employed for this purpose were manufactured at their
own mill, and some being put into frames, admonish the residents, as
well as the casual visiter, whichever way they may turn their heads. Two
very curious ones still remain in the chapel attached to Saron. One
represents the straight and narrow way, which it would be difficult to
describe. It is very curiously and ingeniously formed on a sheet of
about three feet square, the whole of the road being filled with texts
of Scripture, reminding the disciples of their duties, and the
obligations their profession imposes upon them.

Another is a representation of the three heavens. In the first, Christ,
the Good Shepherd, is represented as calling his flock together; in the
second, which is one foot in height, and three feet wide, three hundred
figures in the Capuchin dress appear with harps in their hands, and
behind them the heads of an innumerable host; in the third is seen the
throne of glory surrounded by two hundred archangels. Many of these
"Fractur schrifften" express the most enthusiastic sentiments on the
subject of celibacy, and the happiness of a recluse life, whilst others
are devotional pieces. The following are transcribed from two found in
the chapel of the sister's convent:

  Die Lieb ist unsre Kron und heller Tugend Spiegel,
  Die Weisheit unsre Lust, und reines Gottes Siegel;
  Das Lamm ist unsre Schatz dem wir uns anvertrans,
  Und folgen seinem Gang als reinste Jungfrauen.

  Love is our Crown and clear mirror of virtue,
  Wisdom our desire, and the seal of a pure God;
  The Lamb is our treasure, in whom we confide,
  And follow His guidance, as the purest virgins.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Unsre Kronen die wir tragen hier in dieser Sterblichkeit,
  Werden uns in Truebsals-tagen durch, viel Leiden zubereit,
  Da muss unsre Hoffnung bluehen und der Glanbe wachsen auf.
  Waun sich Welt und Fleisch bemuehen uns zu schwaechen in dem Sauf,
  O Wol dan! weil wir gezaehlet, zu der reinen Laemmer Heerd
  Die dem keuschen Lam vermachlet, und erkanffet von der Erd,
  Bleibet schon alhir verborgen, unser Ehren Schmuck und Kron,
  Wird uns doch ad Jenem Morgen kroenen, Jesus Gotte's Sohn.

  The Crowns which we wear here in our mortal life,
  Will prepare us this much suffering for the day of trial—
  Then must our hope bloom, and our faith increase,
  While the world and the flesh both strive to divert us from our course.
  While then, we are atoned for through the Holy Shepherd,
  Who marries the pure lamb and redeems it from the earth,
  Let our honour, our ornaments, our crown even remain concealed,
  Till that morning when we shall be crowned by Jesus the Son of God.

In the rooms which have been occupied by any departed sister, a piece,
in imitation of a tablet, is framed and put up, expressive of the
character and virtues of the deceased, or some feeling memorial of love,
and pious anticipation of meeting again in heaven, is inscribed. The
following was found in the kammer which had been occupied by Zenobia, a
very beautiful, amiable, and devout sister.

 Zenobia Wird Gruenen und Gedeihen, ihre Arbeit wird nicht vergeblich,
 noch auch ihre Hoffnung verlohren seyn, ihre Ehre bluehen mitten unter
 den Heiligen.

 Zenobia will prosper and flourish. Her labours will not be useless, nor
 her hopes vain. Her glory will be revealed in heaven.

An apartment, denominated the writing-room, was particularly
appropriated to such purposes, and several of the sisters devoted their
whole attention to this labour, and became highly skilled in it. Others
transcribed the writings of the Founder of the Society, thus multiplying
copies for the wants of the community, before their printing press came
into operation. Two very ingenious sisters, named Anastasia and
Iphigenia, were the principal ornamental writers. They formed, with
immense labour, a large folio volume of "sample alphabets" of various
sizes and different styles, though all are alike curious, and exhibit
the most patient application. The letters of the first alphabet are one
foot in length, surrounded by a deep border, in imitation of copperplate
engraving, of which each one is different in style and finish. It was
finished in the year 1750, and is still preserved as a rare curiosity,
by the trustees.

Another room was exclusively set apart for the purposes of transcribing
music; hundreds of volumes, each volume containing five or six hundred
pieces, were transferred from book to book, with almost as much neatness
and quite as much accuracy, as if done with a graver.

The Society at Ephrata, after their printing press came into operation,
published several valuable historical and religious books. Of these, an
edition of the "Bloody Theatre," an old German work, was nearly all
taken by the American army for cartridges. Several of the members were
decided literary characters of no mean ability.[43]

At one time it was in contemplation by three brothers, named Eckerlin,
of whom the eldest was prior, and had the superintendence of the secular
concerns, to make Ephrata a place of more importance in the world than
it could acquire from its character of a religious refuge. They were
natives of Germany, and they had been educated in the principles of the
Catholic faith. They projected the plan of erecting extensive buildings
for manufacturing purposes, and of entering into extensive mercantile
concerns. For this they had made considerable preparation, such as
cutting and hewing the timbers, and were in readiness to erect a town.
They had likewise sent to Europe, where they had extensive and powerful
connexions, and procured, unknown to the Society, a chime of bells, and
likewise a large clock for the tower. These arrived in Philadelphia, and
the bill requiring payment being forwarded to the Society, made the
brotherhood acquainted with the circumstances. They determined not to
receive them, but had them sold, and paid the loss. One of these bells,
having upon it, "Sub auspicicio viri venerandi Onesimi societatis
Ephratensis præpositi," was purchased for, and is now on, one of the
churches in Lancaster. The clock was sold to one of the Reformed
Lutheran societies in the same place. This transaction led to an
investigation of the conduct of the Eckerlins, which resulted in the
timely discovery of a conspiracy they had entered into to possess
themselves of the property, which at that time was extensive and
valuable. This discovery terminated in the expulsion of Israel, the
prior, from his office. The brothers subsequently removed to Virginia,
where they obtained considerable notoriety in connexion with Indian
affairs. The Society, in its apostolic simplicity, desired no tower, no
bells. They even refused to have a bell to summon them to the midnight
meeting, which was regularly held at that hour of the night,—Beissel
quaintly observing, that the spirit of devotion ought to be sufficient
to insure their attendance; and it generally proved to be adequate.

The community at Ephrata were decided Whigs in the Revolution, although
they considered contention with arms and at law as inconsistent with the
Christian character and profession. In the war of 1756, the doors of the
cloister, including the meeting-room, the chapels, and every other
building, were opened to afford a refuge to the inhabitants of
Tulpehocken and the Paxton settlements, then on the frontiers, as they
fled before the murdering and marauding bands of Indians; and all were
kept and fed by the Society during the period of alarm and danger. Upon
hearing of this the royal government despatched from Philadelphia a
company of infantry to protect and defend the place; and becoming aware
of the character of the Society, presented them with a pair of large and
beautiful communion goblets, which was the only recompense they could be
prevailed on to receive. At a much earlier period they attracted the
attention of the Penn family, and Lady Juliana Penn, in England, opened
a correspondence with the Society. Governor Penn visited them
frequently, and being desirous to bestow upon them a solid evidence of
his regard, had a large tract of five thousand acres of land surveyed
and conveyed to them as the Seventh-day Baptist Manor. This, however,
they refused to accept, believing that large possessions tended to
engender strife, and that it was inconsistent with the Christian
character to be absorbed in the gains of this world and the accumulation
of temporal property.

A few days after the battle of Brandywine, Sept. 11th, 1777, the whole
establishment was opened to receive the wounded Americans, great numbers
of whom were brought there in wagons, a distance of forty miles; and
that long train of various conveyances, that came slowly up the valley
where the field had been contested—the train that bore those whose
shattered limbs seemed to defy all surgical aid, or whose contagious
disease was like the pestilence that wasteth at noonday, was received by
the brothers of Ephrata as if it bore forward the gathered harvest of
summer. And those sisters,—did they shrink from that dreadful exhibition
of human suffering? did they turn pale, and sicken at the view of
bruised and mangled limbs, clotted gore, and the sound of deep
heart-rending groans? Oh no; their sympathy was of the practical kind.
It prompted them to assuage and relieve. And with the kindest and
tenderest feelings they garnered up the sick, the wounded, and the
dying, in their rooms, their chapels, and their edifices, devoted to
public worship or domestic duties, with a welcome and care that only
religion could dictate, and that only true patriotism could have
evinced. Of the five hundred who were brought there one hundred and
fifty died, notwithstanding the attendance of Doctors Scott, Yerkel, and
Harrison. The dead were buried with all the decencies of friendship, and
with all the ceremonies of military propriety. They were principally
from the Eastern States and Pennsylvania. The place where they lay is
enclosed; and in the autumn of 1845, the corner stone of a monument,
bearing a suitable inscription, was laid by Governor Shunk, in presence
of a great multitude of people who had assembled to witness the
ceremonies. In the burying-ground which belongs to the Society are the
tombs of the ancient fathers, with suitable marble monuments erected to
their memories. A large stone, marked with German letters, covers the
grave of their founder.

At present many of the buildings are in ruins, particularly those which
were first erected. A short distance from the enclosure containing the
old meeting-house and cloister, there is a small building, with a
steeple, which was formerly the residence of the physician. Near by
stands another dwelling, which was the parsonage. Above this stands a
large building. Without, it presents a very singular and unique
appearance. In entering it we pass a small portico, and the door is so
low that it is necessary to stoop in passing; but the objects within
witness at once to the vision that it is the house of God. Six tables
are arranged so as to reach nearly the whole length of the room, with
convenient seats, as many as are necessary. On one side of the room
appear a stand and table, slightly elevated, for the accommodation of
the speaker. Several of those large ornamented writings, already
described, are hanging on the walls. The room is perhaps forty feet
square. It was formerly the sisters' dining and prayer room. At present
it is the meeting-room of the Society. A part of the same building is
used for domestic and culinary purposes, and is furnished accordingly.
Near this is a stone building appropriated to other domestic offices.
The house at present occupied by the sisters is contiguous to the
meeting-room, and is inhabited by five aged ladies, who are the only
remaining members of the convent. They have many relics of antiquity,
which are preserved as objects of curiosity. Some of the caps worn by
the sisters in the early days of the institution are carefully
preserved. Adjoining the turnpike, in a corner of the yard, stands the
academy,—a new building, with a steeple, clock, and bell. It is two
stories high, and contains several apartments, in which both male and
female schools are taught. These buildings, with one hundred and twenty
acres of land, and a grist and saw mill, are the property of the

Another community, every way similar to that of Ephrata, is situated at
Snowhill, in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Its location is in that
beautiful and fertile valley which is embosomed in the Blue Ridge
Mountains, extending from Northern Pennsylvania to the Shenandoah
Valley, in Virginia. This section was early settled by a German
population, and their immediate neighbourhood with the Dunker Baptists,
of which there is now a large society. Belonging to this Dunker Society
was one Andrew Snowberger, from whom the Snowhill Society takes its
cognomen, berg, in German, signifying a hill,—his name is literally
Snowhills. It is seldom, however, that adventitious names correspond
with localities. The establishment called Snowhill is located in a small
vale of a large valley, in latitude 39° N., about seven miles from
Hagerstown, Maryland. In the convent resided an old sister, in 1849,
nearly one hundred years of age, who was the daughter of Andrew
Snowberger, and who gave the following account of the origin of the
Society. Her father, by a diligent study of his German Bible, became
convinced that the seventh day of the week was the only divinely
appointed Sabbath, and in consequence he became firmly determined to
keep it as holy time. This caused much difficulty in his family and
among his neighbours; but he was not to be deterred from acting
according to the dictates of his conscience by any difficulties.
Believing in prayer, and that faith and patience will overcome all
things, he persevered in the path of duty. At length, to his
inexpressible delight, the way became smooth before him, his family
complied with his regulations, and subsequently embraced his views. In
this lonely situation as to society of his own faith, Andrew instituted
and maintained the worship of God in his own house. He desired to remain
in communion with his first-day brethren, but they, after a long
consideration of the subject, determined upon his expulsion from the
church. This, to his feelingly sensitive mind, was extremely painful;
but he observed, "that he could better bear the frown and disowning of
men, than to disobey God and feel that he incurred His displeasure."

Notwithstanding the many trials and difficulties, Andrew continued firm
in his attachment to the Sabbath, and some time after, his faith was
greatly increased by the following circumstance. The country, in many
parts, was still a dense and unbroken forest, and much of the labour of
these early settlers was to clear away the superabundant wood. In this
employment Andrew was engaged one first-day, when his neighbours were
all gone to the Dunker meeting. He was piling and burning brush, which,
at that time, formed the material of all the fences, upon his own and
the contiguous estates. After he had been at work for some time, the
wind rose to a smart breeze, and the fires in a very few minutes became
unmanageable. On they went, crackling and roaring; the fence on one side
of the lot took fire, whence it spread with rapidity, and was in a fair
way to communicate to the home establishment of his neighbour. Andrew
saw plainly enough that notwithstanding all his efforts to the contrary,
the whole must inevitably be burned before human help could be obtained,
unless Providence would interpose. In this extremity he threw himself
upon his knees, his face and hands blackened with smoke and ashes, and
cried out in the deepest tones of supplication, "Oh Lord, if it be from
thee that I keep the seventh day for a Sabbath, and labour on this day,
according to thy law, do thou stop this fire." While he thus prayed the
wind veered suddenly, and took the fire in altogether another direction,
so that it became easily manageable. The skeptic may sneer at this, but
the Christian will remember that God is omniscient, that He holds the
winds in his fist, and moreover that He has promised to hear and answer
prayer. This remarkable circumstance Andrew improved, by vowing unto the
Lord to be steadfast in his law, and to make his house for ever a house
devoted to the servants and the service of God,—a vow which the Almighty
seems to this time to have accepted. But for years after this, Andrew
was the only master and minister in his house devoted to God; but he
steadily maintained divine worship upon the Sabbath, and not without
success, for he had the happiness of seeing some of his neighbours, one
at a time, come and unite with him in serving God.

After several years, Elder Lehman, from Ephrata, made them a visit, and
proposed to raise an establishment similar to that at the former place.
To this Andrew cheerfully acceded, and accordingly, as soon as
circumstances would permit, the estate and buildings were formally
conveyed to the Society. It was not a gift, however. Andrew had a large
family dependent upon him for support. The land had been brought into a
state of cultivation by their mutual efforts, and strict justice
required that the interests of all should be considered in its
alienation. Everything was fairly appraised, and time given to the
Society to pay the appraisement to him and his heirs. This arrangement
was followed by the happiest consequences. Andrew and his family were
amply provided for, and he lived to see his children and his children's
children become members of the Society which had arisen through his
means. He and his companion in life went down to the grave in a good old
age, and are now doubtless raising their voices with that company who
were redeemed from the earth.

The estate consists, at present, of 165 acres of land, in a high state
of cultivation, and is very productive. It is a stiff loam, upon a
limestone bottom, and is, therefore, well adapted to grass and the
cereal grains. They are abundantly supplied with farm buildings. The
principal barn, situated on a hillside, built of stone and brick, is 50
feet wide and 102 feet long, with a roomy overshoot on the lower side;
the lower, or under-ground story, contains several stables for the
accommodation of the domestic animals; the yard is well supplied with
pure water, and everything bears the marks of thrift, industry, and
economy. There are two flourishing orchards, well supplied with a choice
variety of fruit, and two neatly cultivated gardens. Much of the wearing
apparel is manufactured by the sisters, and the visiter who passes the
building appropriated to that industrious use, will be strongly reminded
of a classical quotation from the Odyssey, where Calypso is represented

  "With voice celestial, chanting to the loom,"

and her damsels,

                           "Who cull,
  With hands of rosy white, the purple wool."

The sisters lighten and enliven their industrious pursuits with music;
and many a strain that would draw tears of rapture from listening
multitudes, is blended, and even made more pastoral and effective by the
sound of the shuttle, and the noise of the spinning wheel. There are
likewise a blacksmith's shop, and a cooper and cabinet-maker's shop,
where the brothers pursue their mechanical occupations. There is also a
flouring mill, where, beside custom work, two thousand barrels of flour
are annually produced. This is situated on a perennial stream that flows
through, and abundantly waters the estate. It is an arm of the Antetum
River, a tributary of the Potomac. The dwelling-house is most pleasantly
situated about six paces from the stream on its south bank. This
dwelling is a convent or religious house, and is styled "The Nunnery,"
by the country people. It presents a singular and unique appearance,
being about one hundred and fifty feet long, by thirty feet wide, and
three stories high; the lower story is built of blue limestone, and the
others of brick. The lower story is even with the ground on the south
side, before which, and between the two orchards, there is a small
grassy lawn. There are three front entrances, of which the middle
entrance communicates with the dining hall, where a company of sixty or
seventy guests might be conveniently accommodated. On the north side,
projecting from the middle of the main building, with an entrance into
the dining hall, are the rooms appropriated to domestic and culinary
purposes. Over the dining hall, in the second story, is the family
chapel, where worship is regularly performed both in the morning and at
evening. Above this, in a small cupola, is the convent bell, whence a
rope passes through each floor into the centre of the dining hall. The
west end of the building, from the dining hall round, contains
exclusively the apartments of the brethren connected with the
establishment; the east end of the building, beginning with the same
division, contains exclusively the apartments of the sisters. In each
department there are spare rooms for company, with sleeping rooms on the
north side in both stories. In the centre of the cellar there is a
beautiful fountain of clear spring water, incessantly flowing in an
abundant stream. This is distributed in every convenient manner to the
different parts of the establishment. Along the north side of the
building, there stretches a luxuriant meadow, about one hundred paces
across, which is abundantly watered by two streams; one, the creek
before mentioned, the other, a brooklet of smaller dimensions. These are
crossed by two wooden bridges, and a well-worn path leads to the
meeting-house, situated on the north side of the meadow, adjoining the
public road, which runs through the estate. The meeting-house, which is
sixty by fifty feet, is built of stone, without a gallery. The adjoining
building of smaller dimensions communicates with it on the west end,
which exactly resembles an English vestry, although it is in reality a
kitchen. About twenty-five paces from the convent, near the eastern
border of the meadow, is the waste-gate for the mill. Here there is a
bend in the creek, and at this point is formed their baptistery, well
supplied at all seasons with pure water. Three steps lead down into this
beautiful fount. In this place we were forcibly reminded of that
exquisitely beautiful hymn,

  "The Lord my shepherd is;
    He maketh me to lie
  In pastures green; he leadeth me
    The pleasant waters by."

This Society keeps no journal, has no written history, nor humanly
composed creed. However, they have a charter, obtained from the state
legislature, in which they are known as Seventh-day Baptists. By this
charter they are authorized to hold and govern the estate and the house,
by by-laws of their own formation and adoption, which are represented
and defended by five trustees elected by a plurality of the votes of all
the male members of the Society. In these by-laws it is made a condition
of admission, that the inmates of the house shall be single persons;
however, they are not disqualified by a state of widowhood. They must
also be conscientious observers of the seventh day, and must have shared
in the ordinances of baptism, and possess reputed piety. Their
application for admission must be made to the trustees, who are the
authorized judges of their eligibility. No vow, no promise of
unconditional and continued celibacy is ever required, but if they
subsequently wish to marry, which is sometimes the case, no unkind
treatment ensues; on the contrary, they leave the house like a sister
going from the family of her kindred, when every one is attentive to her
future wants. No person entering the Society can retain independent
estate or personal property; but should they bring property with them,
it is subjected to a fair appraisement, and a certificate of the same
given; and should the person subsequently leave, the same or its value
is restored without interest. If the inmate dies in the convent, or a
recognised inmate of the same, all the property accrues permanently to
the establishment. No one receives wages, but all participate in the
comforts of the house; and the charter secures the whole of the estate
and its incomes to the single brethren and sisters as their property.
The labours of the establishment are shared alike by all; the brethren
under the direction of the prior, and the sisters under the direction of
the prioress. In no respect, however, is there any pre-eminence of
authority or class; their offices are designed to subserve good
order—nothing more. They are in truth a band where fraternal regard and
equality of right regulate all their conduct.

In 1847, there were nine brothers and fourteen sisters who were inmates
of the convent. The other members of the Society have no personal rights
in the property of the estate; and there is no more community of
interests among them than there is among other denominations of
Christians. In church discipline and government they are decidedly
congregational. Their officers are elected by a majority of the votes of
the members. They are averse to paying their pastors a stated salary;
but believe that he should be assisted voluntarily according to his
necessities. The convent and all the buildings are exceedingly neat and
well-kept; the furniture being plain and convenient without any
superfluities or finery. The venerable pastor, Andrew Fahnestock, having
lost his wife, made a distribution of his property among his children,
and took up his residence in the convent some time since. All visiters
are likewise requested to make the convent their home, particularly
during the public meetings, and are furnished in it with private
apartments. Their yearly meetings are attended by many who reside in
distant parts, these, as they arrive, are most hospitably welcomed; the
brothers saluting the visiting brothers with a holy kiss; the sisters
saluting the visiting sisters in the same manner, but the brothers and
sisters only shaking hands. When the meeting is over, and these visiters
are preparing to depart, the same affectionate observance is again
tendered to all. At these meetings a supper is spread in the
meeting-house, which is the anciently celebrated Agapa, or love-feast,
held in imitation of the Last Supper, of which the Redeemer partook with
his disciples, before he was led out like a lamb to the slaughter, and
in connexion with the institution of the Eucharist. At this supper
everything is previously prepared, and there is no cooking done except
to make coffee. Here appears the use of the vestry kitchen, adjoining
the meeting-house, with its cellar and well-stored larder. In this
apartment are vessels over fixed furnaces prepared for heating water,
coffee, and the like. The meeting-house has two front entrances, and is
seated with the males on one side, and the females on the other. It is
furnished with settees and long narrow tables, which serve for their
books during worship, and for meals during the love-feasts. About midway
of the house, on the back end, is one about eight feet, appropriated to
the ministry, there being no other pulpit in the house. The tables at
the love-feasts are furnished with a good supply, and a sufficient
variety of all the necessary aliments of life, without any
superfluities; and all are invited to partake. This being over, and the
things cleared away, the communion table is furnished for the Lord's
Supper. The holy rites are begun by singing and prayer; the thirteenth
chapter of John is then read, and the officiating ministers discourse
upon it, when these servants of the church lay aside their coats, go to
the kitchen vestry, gird themselves with long towels, and each one
taking a small wooden tub half filled with tepid water, return to the
brethren's side of the house, and commence the ceremony of washing each
other's feet, repeating meanwhile the words of your Saviour: "Therefore
if I, your Lord and master, have washed your feet, so ye ought also to
wash one another's feet." The same is performed on the female side of
the house by two aged sisters. This being ended, all again sit down, and
every one appears absorbed in silent prayer and meditation for a few
minutes. The officiating ministers then take the bread of the communion,
and one of them, after giving thanks, and imploring the divine favour,
carries the plate before the others, so as to stand before two of the
communicants. He then breaks one of the pieces of the bread into two
parts, giving half to one and the other half to the other, saying,
"Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in
remembrance of me." This formulary is repeated at each time of breaking
the bread, until all the communicants have received a portion. In
distributing the wine, the ministers, instead of the deacons, carry the
goblets. The whole concludes with singing. They are all masters in
music, and, what appears to me extremely appropriate, their hymns in
German were all composed by members of their own order, and have never
been given to the world. Many of them exhibit considerable poetic
talent. The same is true of their music, which is perfectly unique; but
so soft, solemn, soul-stirring, and melodious, that the listener half
forgets its reality, and holds his breath for fear of breaking the
enchantment. They have three volumes, of which a small edition has been
printed for their own use, and there is not a light or jigging beat in
the whole collection. They frequently make additions in manuscript, and
take great pleasure in making new books with the pen, of which many have
very richly ornamented pages. While listening to their melting melodious
strains, one cannot fail to revert in imagination to that new song which
was sung before the Lamb, and before the beasts, and the elders, and
which no man could learn but those who were redeemed from the earth.
Their style of singing, though altogether different from that of modern
congregations, is extremely effective, and such, as I believe, few
persons of taste and sensibility could listen to, without shedding tears
of silent rapture. They have no choir, but all, both young and old,
sing, being directed in this exercise by a leader.

There is perhaps no ordinance of the Christian church more highly
interesting to a casual observer, and more fraught with hallowed
associations to a devout mind, than the rite of baptism, when it is
administered in the manner corresponding with the Word of God. This is
particularly the case at Snowhill, where everything is in such perfect
keeping and character. The candidates for baptism being previously
examined and accepted as suitable subjects for that holy ordinance by
the pastors, an announcement to that effect is made to the congregation.
They are then suitably attired, and all repair, forming a procession, to
the baptistery, where a thronging multitude is generally assembled. Here
the scene is extremely solemn and affecting, and all nature appears to
sympathize in the deep solemnity. Even the sunlight, as it bathes the
verdant hillside, the smooth meadow, and the golden orchards in a flood
of glory, seems to partake a softer radiance. A hundred snowy clouds
appear here and there on the blue heaven above, and it requires no great
stretch of the imagination to fancy that behind or upon them the waving
wings of seraphs have been furled, and that forms of ineffable beauty
are bending there, and watching with interest the dedication of souls to
God. A flood of hallowed associations comes rushing into the mind. We
think of Jordan, of the multitudes who gathered upon its banks, and who
were baptized "confessing their sins." The venerable appearance of the
Baptist, that first preacher of the kingdom of God. And then the Great
High Priest of our Salvation, who came hither to set an example for his
servants in all coming time. But this pleasing revery is broken by the
voice of the pastor. A hymn is given out; and then from the midst of the
company arises a deep, full, melodious swell of harmony. It is unlike
singing; it seems the very soul of heavenly music breathing out an
ecstasy of thanksgiving. The music ceases; a low soft echo breathes
through the air, so lately living with sweet sounds, and over the
waters; again all is silent. The pastor now stretches out his hands, and
lifts his eyes to heaven: "Let us pray." Some kneel, others remain
standing, but all assume the look and action of devout humility. The
prayer ended, the pastor descends into the pool; the candidate, assisted
by a brother or sister, descends after him. Reaching the lower step, he
takes her, if a sister, by the left arm, and leads her down to a
suitable depth, where she kneels in the water. She applies water to her
face, and he does the same to the back of her head, waiting a moment for
her to recover her thoughts and acquire a frame of mind suitable for the
occasion. Then, laying his left hand upon the forepart of her head, and
his right hand upon the back between the shoulders, he says, "I baptize
thee in the name of the Father," and immerses the candidate, face
foremost; then, raising her up to her former position, he gives time for
a like recovery of self-possession, and adds, "and the Son," and
immerses her in the same manner a second time; then, giving a like time
for recovery, he continues, "and the Holy Ghost," and proceeds as
before. Then while she is yet kneeling in the water, he lays both hands
upon her head, and offers a short invocation for the Spirit of God to
seal this obedient handmaid as a child of God. During all this time, the
multitude exhibits a deep interest, and maintains a perfect silence; the
candidate manifests the greatest composure, and all appear to feel that
the Saviour is near.

The German Seventh-day Baptists profess to have no other guide than the
inspired Word of God; and to this they profess to exactly conform,
omitting nothing enjoined, and adding nothing to the Observances there
given. Their simplicity is truly remarkable, and I believe, truly pure.
They are non-resistant in sentiment, but they plainly preach the
righteousness of the kingdom of God. They are likewise remarkably
amiable in their intercourse with each other. There is a similar society
in Bedford County, under the pastoral care of Elder King, but I have
been unable to make myself acquainted with any incidents connected with
its history.

There is one subject connected with the history of this people, which,
from deference to my country and its institutions, I would willingly
pass over in silence; justice, however, compels me to do otherwise.
These societies, harmless and inoffensive as the members are, have, for
a number of years past, been very much annoyed and disturbed at their
annual meetings by a number of wicked and licentious persons. Being
entirely averse to litigation of any kind, they patiently bore with all.
This only seemed to encourage increased disturbance, until the 17th of
May, 1845, when it became so outrageous at their annual meeting, that an
individual who was not a member, instituted a prosecution against
several persons for a riot. This resulted in the condemnation and
punishment of sixteen individuals, whose friends, from malicious and
revengeful motives, immediately commenced suits against these
Seventh-day Christians for labouring on the first day.

To this they plead guilty, and cheerfully paid their fines and the
costs; but in consequence of the great inconveniences to which they were
subjected, they petitioned the legislature for relief, though without

[43] Those who desire a more particular account of the German
Sabbatarians, their leaders, literature, and music, may consult the
fifteenth volume of Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania.

[44] It may be interesting to posterity to know that in the United
States of America, and about the middle of the nineteenth century,
Plymon Seaver, of Vermont, was confined in jail for a long time, for
attending to secular concerns upon the first day of the week. About the
same time, or August 26, 1845, Obed Snowberger was fined four dollars,
for being engaged in worldly employment upon the first day of the week.
Mr. Snowberger was a worthy member of the German Seventh-day Baptist
fraternity in Pennsylvania, and the prosecution was carried on in Quincy
Township, Franklin County, and before Samuel Sibbet, as justice of the
peace. Subsequently nine others of the same people were subjected to
prosecution and fines for the same reasons.


*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches: Embracing Accounts of the Armenian, East Indian, and Abyssinian Episcopacies in Asia and Africa, the Waldenses, Semi-Judaisers, and Sabbatarian Anabaptists of Europe; with the Seventh-day Baptist Denominaton in the United States" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.