Booklets and Articles Index
A HISTORY of THE TRUE RELIGION
TRACED FROM 33 A.D. TO DATE
by A. N. Dugger and C. O. Dodd
Original Edition, 1936
Second Edition, Tebet (January) 1968
Third Edition, Jerusalem, Israel, Sivan (June) 1972
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface -- About the Authors
Chapter 1 -- Introduction
The Church Founded on the Rock
Chapter 2 -- Brief Prophetical Analysis
The Two Churches Contrasted -- The Woman Clothed with the Sun,
and the Woman Clothed in Scarlet upon the Beast -- The Church
Name in Both Old and New Testaments
Chapter 3 -- The Dragon and Beast Make War on the Church
The Period of Great Tribulation -- Prophetical Scripture
Showing the Dark Ages
Chapter 4 -- Thirty-Three to One Hundred A.D.
The Apostolical Church -- The Apostle Paul -- Simon Peter, the
Apostle -- John the Revelator -- The Early Protestant Church
-- The Church at Jerusalem -- Man made Names -- Ebionites --
Nazarenes -- Jewish Christians -- The Real Bible Name -- The
Day of Rest
Chapter 5 -- One Hundred to Two Hundred A.D.
The Rise of Christian Sects -- The Great Apostasy -- False
Doctrine -- Easter -- Infant Baptism -- Invocation of Saints
-- Holy Oil -- Use of Images -- Sign of the Cross -- Sunday
Sun worship -- Immortality of the Soul -- Early Writers --
Church Fathers -- The True Church
Chapter 6 -- Two Hundred to Three Hundred A.D.
The Church at Pella and Jerusalem -- Origin of Other Sects --
Sabbath-Sunday -- False Doctrines
Chapter 7 -- Three Hundred to Four Hundred A.D.
Continued Persecution -- Constantine the Great -- Bishops --
Popes -- Doctor Arius -- Nicean Council -- Change of the
Passover -- Sunday Legislation -- Easter -- The Trinity --
Sunday -- The Sabbath -- False Doctrines -- Nicean Creed --
Julian the Apostate -- The True Church -- Sabbaths -- Meats --
Circumcision -- Hypsistarii
Chapter 8 -- Four Hundred to Five Hundred A.D.
From Bishop to Pope -- Worship of Bones, Martyrs, Saints,
Relics -- Candles -- Celibacy of the Clergy -- The Eastern and
Western Popes -- Roman and Greek Catholics -- Christians of No
Hierarchy -- Messalians -- Lord's Day -- Sabbath
Chapter 9 -- Five Hundred to Six Hundred A.D.
The Flight of the True Church to the Wilderness -- Valley
Dwellers -- Vaudois -- True Church in Dispersion -- Seeds of
Chapter 10 -- Six Hundred to Seven Hundred A.D.
The Church of God Scattered Abroad -- Characteristic
Descriptive Names of God's People -- In Spain -- Britain --
Scotland -- Germany -- Justinian -- Separation of Clergy from
Their Wives -- Sabbath Condemned at Council at Constantinople
-- Paulicians -- Bulgaria -- France -- Albigeois -- Montenses
-- Nonconformists -- Translation of Scriptures into Sclavonian
Tongue -- Waldenses -- Seed of the Primitive Church Hold to
Chapter 11 -- Seven Hundred to Eight Hundred A.D.
A True Light Amid Gross Darkness -- Rome Never Universal even
in Italy -- The Protestant Bible -- Moravia -- England --
Charlemagne -- Images -- Charles the Great -- Triune-baptism
-- Anabaptists -- Infant baptism -- Transubstantiation
Chapter 12 -- Eight Hundred to Nine Hundred A.D.
Increase in the Popedom -- Persecution of the Church --
Martyrs -- True Church Never of Rome -- Commandment Observers
-- Protestant Bible in Waldensian Tongue -- The Perfect and
the Imperfect Classes in the Church -- The Lord's Supper
Chapter 13 -- Nine Hundred to Ten Hundred A.D.
The Woman in the Wilderness -- Sabbath-keepers -- Commandment
Observers -- True Christians -- Gospel Seed Covered Europe --
Chapter 14 -- Ten Hundred to Eleven Hundred A.D.
Heresy and Truth -- Blood Not Eaten -- Candlemas, Palm Sunday,
Cross Adoration -- Good Friday, Easter -- A Hundred Thousand
Martyrs -- Christ the Mediator Alone
Chapter 15 -- Eleven Hundred to Twelve Hundred A.D.
Peter Waldo -- The Cathari -- Waldo's Bible -- Waldo in
Germany and Bohemia -- Persecution and Martyrdom -- Waldensian
Church of God -- Richard, The Lion Hearted -- General Remarks
-- The Commandments of God -- Church Sabbatarians --
Believer's Immersion -- Commandment-keepers -- Luther --
Doctrine and Discipline of the Waldenses -- Ordained Pastors
-- Synods -- A Humble and Consecrated People of God
Chapter 16 -- Twelve Hundred to Thirteen Hundred A.D.
Rome Continues to Harass the Church of God -- Dispersions --
Puritans, Leonists, Arnoldists, etc. -- Saints Extirpated --
Persecutions of the Waldenses -- Enemies of Rome -- The
Inquisition -- A Public Discussion -- General State of the
Roman Church -- Dominicans and Franciscans -- Corruptions of
Rome -- Real Christians Only Among Waldenses and Lollards
Chapter 17 -- Thirteen Hundred to Fourteen Hundred A.D.
The Lollards and Other Protestants -- 80,000 True Believers in
Bohemia -- Lord's Supper Observed Annually -- Belief and
Practice of the True Saints
Chapter 18 -- Fourteen Hundred to Fifteen Hundred A.D.
The Climax of Popery -- The Protestants Throughout the Dark
Ages -- Sabbatarians -- Anabaptists -- The Hand That
Intervened to Deliver -- Invaders Panic Stricken -- Armies of
Aliens Put to Flight -- Inquisition -- A Covering Cloud
Chapter 19 -- Fifteen Hundred to Sixteen Hundred A.D.
The Protestant Reformation -- Waldensians Aid Reformers -- The
Reformers, Calvin, Luther, Knox, and Others -- Olivetan the
Waldensian Aids the Reformers -- 800,000 Saints --
Sabbatarians -- Luther on the Sabbath -- Address of Hutter --
Church Tribulations and the Spirit of Martyrdom
Chapter 20 -- Sixteen Hundred to Seventeen Hundred A.D.
Darkness Before Dawn -- Oliver Cromwell -- The Need Supplied
-- Persecutions and Hardships -- The New World a Haven -- How
the Lord Fed and Protected His Church -- How Matthew Warren
Escaped -- John Nofworthy's Experience -- Hanserd Knollys in
London -- A Child the Agent of Deliverance -- How Dr. Stennett
Escaped Conviction -- Evil Intent Turned to Good -- Relief in
Time of Extremity --Succession in the Apostolic Ordination --
Apostolic Succession -- The Church of God in Italy -- Law of
Moses -- Meats -- Sabbath -- Anti-trinitarian -- The Cathari
-- Paterines -- Gazari -- Circumcision -- The Church of God in
Armenia -- The Syrian Protestant Bible -- The Church of God
in the British Isles -- The Gospel to Britain in Apostolic
Times -- The Church in Ireland -- Sabbatarian Puritans and
Quakers -- The Mill Yard Church in London-- John James -- Swan
Alley Church Sabbatarians -- Other Sabbath-keeping Churches in
London -- Anti-baptists -- A Work of a Martyr -- Summary --
The Earth Helped the Woman -- The Land of Liberty
Chapter 21 -- Seventeen Hundred to Eighteen Hundred A.D.
The Church of God from London to America -- The Newport
Church -- Other Churches in England -- The Name of the Church
-- The Shrewsbury Church -- The Name -- The Piscataway Church
-- Its Name -- Its Creed -- Seventh-Day Baptists -- The Church
of Christ and the Church of God -- Immigration from Europe to
America -- The Church from the Wilderness -- German Saints --
Peter Miller -- Ephreta Sabbatarians -- Washington -- Benjamin
Franklin -- His Faith -- His Cure For Hard Times -- The Church
in America -- Puritans -- Quakers -- Seven Church Periods
Chapter 22 -- Eighteen Hundred to Present Date A.D.
In the Latter Times Some Shall Depart from the Faith --
Seventh-day Adventists -- The 1844 Disappointment -- Names of
Ministers from 1844 to 1860 -- The Name of the Church --
Changing the Church Name -- The Reconstruction -- The
Reorganization -- Choosing the Twelve, the Seventy, and the
Seven -- The Wilbur Church -- Conclusion
The object of this treatise is not so much to give the history
of the great national religious sects as it is to give a history
of the true religion, tracing it down through the ages, century
after century by its doctrine as practiced and taught in the Old
Testament, by Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others, and then
extended with minor changes down through the New Testament to the
present time, as set forth by Christ, (Hebrew-Yahshua) and His
apostles, all of whom were Jews.
Jesus (Yahshua) said "the gates of hell would not prevail
against it." Therefore that same religion established at Pentecost,
(Acts 2nd chapter), that three thousand Jews embraced, was never
stamped out, but continued amidst the most severe persecution from
Rome, and is spreading over the entire world today.
There has been but little interest manifest in the history of
religion of the past because, most historians leave the history of
the true faith with the death of the apostles, and then trace what
they call Christianity down through the "Dark Ages" as it emanated
from Rome after being polluted with the teaching and practice of
"Sunworshipers" of the East, through the historical "Council of
Nice," 321 A.D., presided over by King Constantine of Rome.
Nineteen hundred years have passed since the days of Christ,
and the world still awaits a record of the Church of the
wilderness, Revelation, twelfth chapter. Hundreds of histories have
been palmed off on the people as narratives of the true people, but
with few exceptions the writers leave the true church entering into
the wilderness at the beginning of the Dark Ages, and for this same
period of time minutely sketch the sects of the great apostasy.
It must be admitted that something is wrong, when out of
nineteen centuries of church history, thirteen of them are given to
the history of these apostate bodies.
This present writing is not a work to cater to any one, but is
a history of the assemblies of God down through the ages, through
over twelve hundred years of persecutions and bloodshed, even unto
the present time. It narrates from histories and ancient records
the course of these certain people of God, who, down through the
course of time, have upheld the doctrine of the Scriptures, and
kept the light of divine truth burning when all the world around
them was in gross darkness known, and mentioned repeatedly by
historians as "The Dark Ages."
It must be conceded that a history of the true religion must
contain authentic quotations from noted historians of the past
concerning these people who were found upholding the scriptural
truth and teaching the same doctrine taught in the holy Bible, and
carried to much of the known world following the crucifixion and
ascension of our beloved Messiah, who is soon to return as King of
Kings and Lord of Lords, Revelation 11:15.
Any people deviating from the teaching of the scriptures, be
they ever so sincere, cannot be the people of the true religion
composing the "Assemblies of Elohim," mentioned repeatedly in the
New Testament as "The Church of God," and in the Old Testament as
"The daughter of Jerusalem" and "The daughter of Zion."
This is the people who through trials and severe persecution
have brought the Holy Bible and its precious truths down through
the "Dark Ages" pure and unadulterated placing them now within our
reach in this enlightened twentieth century.
We cannot help from praising our wonderful Creator for such
men and women as this history reveals unto us who lived in the age
when it required the lives of the faithful to be true to our
Heavenly Father. We cannot be thankful enough for those who were
true in the face of death, and rather than deny the faith, died as
true martyrs. How firm we should be to dig deep and get the hidden
truths long cherished by these faithful martyrs, who lived and died
that we might have the unadulterated gospel truth as a guide for
With the above explanation of our motive, we now present unto
the reader the history of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus
(Yahshua), trusting that what little we may say will be the means
of leading him deeper into the truth for which the saints have
-- The Authors
Explaining The Name
After having lived in Israel for nearly fifteen years among
people from nearly one hundred different countries, and as many
languages, we feel saddened to learn that our beloved Messiah, and
mighty Creator are called by almost as many different names as
there are languages. This surely is not pleasing to them, or to the
Holy Angels of their presence.
These two holy ones Who rule the heavens and the earth have
each a name, and not all of this great confusion of Gentile names.
We read "Who hath established the ends of the earth. What is
His name, and what is His son's name?" Proverbs 30:4. These names
are in the Hebrew language.
As this history is being re-printed using photography,
photographing each page, the Gentile words will have to be used for
their names, and we do so with this explanation, trusting that each
reader will make this a prayerful study, because when He hath
redeemed Jerusalem, His people will know His name, Isaiah 52:6 to
9, Psalms 91:14, also 69:35, 36.
-- A.N. Dugger
About the Authors
Andrew N. Dugger (1886-1975) was the most famous Church of
God, Seventh Day, leader in the twentieth century. He was born in
Bassett, Nebraska. Andrew N. Dugger's father, A.F. Dugger, Sr.,
had been an Advent Christian Minister. When commissioned by his
church to do a study refuting the Sabbath, A.F. Dugger instead
became convinced that the Sabbath should be observed. The result
was a book he later published, called The Bible Sabbath Defended.
For more than thirty-five years until his death in 1910, A.F.
Dugger, Sr., was a leader in the Church of God, Seventh Day. His
son Andrew, a school teacher and farmer, was in his early 20's when
his father died.
A bright light in the sky around him seemed to Dugger to be a
sign from God that he should follow his father's footsteps in the
ministry. A.N. Dugger immediately sold his large farm and
equipment, and went to the University of Chicago, where he majored
in theology and public speaking, mastering Greek, Hebrew, and
Dugger periodically returned to Bassett to visit his mother
and Effie Carpenter (1895-1980), a student of his whom he wanted to
marry. Although he first proposed to her when she was sixteen, it
wasn't until 1925 until they were married. They shared fifty years
Soon after college graduation, Dugger was invited by the
Executive Committee of the Church of God to move to Stanberry,
Missouri, to become editor of The Bible Advocate, a position his
father had held before being forced to retire because of ill
health. In 1914, Dugger arrived in Stanberry to begin his work in
the ministry. For eighteen years he was editor, also serving as
President of the General Conference. As field representative, he
traveled widely, holding evangelistic meetings and public debates.
The famous "Porter Dugger Debate," between Dugger and W. Curtis
Porter, a Church of Christ minister, was later published as a book
of over 230 pages. In 1919, Dugger wrote The Bible Home
Instructor, which publicized the Seventh Day Church of God, and
substantially increased its membership during the 1920s.
Two of Dugger's most adamant doctrinal positions were: a
scriptural form of church organization with leaders chosen by lot
rather than election, and a world headquarters in Jerusalem,
Israel. After visiting Israel for only a year in 1931-32, Dugger
returned to live in Sweet Home, Oregon. In 1935, A.N. Dugger and
C.O. Dodd published A History of the True Church, which traces
Sabbath-keepers from apostolic times to modern days. Dugger
greatly influenced Herbert Armstrong, who was for years affiliated
with the Church of God, Seventh Day, but later formed his own
church, the Radio (later Worldwide) Church of God.
Dugger remained pastor at Marion, Oregon until 1953, when he
and Effie settled permanently in Jerusalem, and launched the Mt.
Zion Reporter. His aggressive leadership resulted in thousands of
converts around the world. Andrew N. Dugger died in 1975 at the
age of 89. Dugger's son-in-law, Gordon Fauth, continued the
Jerusalem work at Mount Zion Reporter, P.O. Box 568, Jersualem,
Clarence O. Dodd (1899-1955), a founder of the Sacred Name
Movement, lived in Salem, West Virginia, most of his life. In
1920, he married Martha Richmond. A writer and minister, Dodd
firmly believed that he should support himself and his family,
earning his own way, and serve the Almighty's people without pay.
He worked as a clerk for 35 years for Hope Natural Gas Company
until he retired early due to Hodgkins' disease. He died two years
Dodd taught a Methodist Bible class. He was standing on main
street of Salem one day, when a man gave him a tract on the
Sabbath, which convicted Dodd of the Bible Sabbath. He never saw
the man again, and was convinced the agent was an angel. He became
a leading minister in the Church of God, 7th Day. At the November
4, 1933, meeting in Salem, West Virginia, when the Church of God
split, Dodd was chosen by lot as one of the seventy elders (along
with Herbert Armstrong), as well as one of the seven men placed
over the business affairs of the Church (along with A.N. Dugger).
After the 1933 split of the Church of God (Seventh Day) into
the Stanberry and Salem factions, Dodd became editor of the Salem
Bible Advocate. He had began to accept the annual Feast Days in
1928, which put him at odds with the leadership. In 1937, he
resigned, and began to publish his own magazine, The Faith. A year
later, Dodd accepted the Sacred Name doctrine. His wrote many
articles and tracts, using his own funds to establish a print shop
in his home. His writings are sometimes reprinted in The Faith
magazine, now published by the Assembly of Yahweh, PO Box 102,
Holt, Michigan 48842. A full list of his articles is available
from The Faith Bible and Tract Society, PO Box 321, Amherst, Ohio
44001, carried on by his daughter, Mary Dodd Ling, since 1978.
Dodd had a close relationship with Church of God (Seventh Day)
Elder John Kiesz, who held evangelistic meetings in Salem, W. Va.
around the 1930s. Kiesz likewise believed in the annual Holy Days,
and was favorable to the Sacred Name doctrine. Kiesz named his
youngest daughter Martha after Dodd's wife. Dodd never met Herbert
Armstrong, but corresponded with him via mail.
Mary Dodd Ling describes her father as a very handsome,
personable man. He was an avid student of the Bible, writer, and
a man of prayer. Martha Dodd, an integral part of his ministry,
died in 1982. Dodd's associates in the Sacred Name movement were
Cessna, Briggs, Smith, William Bodine, and A.B. Traina (who
translated a Sacred Name Bible). When Dodd accepted the doctrine
that believers must use the Hebrew names Yahweh and Yahshua, he was
rebaptized into the name of Yahshua.
Clarence Dodd was perhaps more of a writer than a speaker and
debater like Dugger. It is likely that in collaborating with
Dugger on the book, A History of the True Church, Dodd had the
greater part in writing.
-- R.C. Nickels
About this Book
A History of the True Church traces the history of the
Sabbath-keeping Church of God from its inception in the First
Century to the Twentieth Century. Written from a non-technical
perspective, this popular history has shaped the understanding of
Church history of the various groups comprising the Church God
(Seventh Day), the Worldwide Church of God, and Assemblies of
Yahweh. These Bible believers have a spiritual kinship with those
in past centuries who observed the seventh day Sabbath, and opposed
the Church of Rome.
From the Waldenses, who flourished in the Alps during the Dark
and Middle Ages, to the Sabbatarian Baptists in England, to the
Adventist Movement of the Nineteenth Century, the true faith has
come down to us through persecution and bloodshed. The authors
state, "God has not been without witness in every generation of the
gospel age ... As we look back upon the faithfulness and martyrdom
of those, who in past ages witnessed for the faith once delivered
to the saints' of God, how it should inspire us, the remnant of the
children of the woman driven into the wilderness, to devoutly adore
Him the true God, and uphold the pristine gospel of Christ for
which saints in all generations have willingly died."
-- R. C. Nickels
A History of the True Church
Chapter 1 - INTRODUCTION
Founded on the Rock
While the term "Protestant" originated in Reformation times,
when strong fearless men boldly protested against the false
doctrines of the Roman Catholic church, we shall use the same term
to represent a people who, long before the days of the reformers,
stood for the faith of Protestantism. The Scriptural name applied
to these people at the time of our Savior was the "Church of God,"
and this work will prove, as it has set out to do, both from
Scripture and secular history, that this New Testament church was
not the church which later ruled the world from Rome, known as the
Roman Catholic church.
The church set in order by Jesus Christ has remained separate
and distinct down through the gospel dispensation to the present
time, and, even amidst the most severe persecution, it has held
forth the true light, carrying the torch of freedom and religious
liberty down to our own day and time.
The word "Protestant" should not apply only to the people who
in the days of Martin Luther protested against the error and
corruption of the Church of Rome; but it rightly applies to a
people who have since the days of Moses, and even before that time,
protested against error, superstition, idolatry, mythology,
witchcraft, and every form of pagan religion and philosophy. Hence
this work, as it sets forth the true history of these protesting
people, cannot have for its beginning the time of the Protestant
Reformation, or even the days of our Savior. Mention is made of
the "Church," as found in Acts 7:38, which takes us to a much
earlier period. The text reads, speaking of Jesus, "This is He
that was with the church in the wilderness." The same church being
constituted of, as it always has, God's true children here upon
earth, existed in the wilderness. Instead of Jesus endeavoring to
reform it with so much corruption, error, and superstition, he
immediately set out in the work of reorganization, choosing anew
the twelve and the seventy.
Chapter 2 - BRIEF PROPHETICAL ANALYSIS
The Two Churches Contrasted
The church set in order by Jesus with the gifts of the Holy
Spirit, and with proper administration of government, is symbolized
by a virtuous woman in the New Testament. The Lord says of her, "I
am jealous over you with a godly jealousy for I have espoused you
unto one husband, that I may present you a chaste virgin to
Christ," II Corinthians 11:2. In Revelation 19:7-9, the church is
again spoken of as the bride, the Lamb's wife, having on the
wedding garments of linen clean and white. Again, John the
Revelator beholds this church in vision, and describes her, as
follows: "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman
clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head
a crown of twelve stars" Revelation 12:1.
A woman being a symbol of a church, we have here in prophecy
the true church of the apostles' time, clothed with the sun, the
ruler of the day. All darkness was expelled, and the sunlight of
God's truth and righteousness radiated with brightness and splendor
as the power of the sun. She had the moon under her feet, thus
picturing that the ruler of night and darkness was subdued and
under subjection; while her crown of twelve stars symbolized the
twelve apostles. That this woman, or true church, did not fall,
and later become the Catholic church ruling from Rome, is evident;
for there are two churches clearly set forth in the Scriptures,
existing in the same period, one driven to the wilderness, while
the other is exalted to civil power, and rules the world from Rome.
This second woman, or church, is introduced in prophecy in
Revelation 17:1-6. The angel said to John, "Come hither; I will
show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon
many waters . . . And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored
beast full of the names of blasphemy . . . the woman was arrayed in
purple and scarlet color, and decked with gold and precious stones
GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS . . . and I saw the woman drunken with
the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of
The fact that this second woman becomes drunk with the blood
of the saints, and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, shows clearly
that the two churches, were different, yet existed together, and
that the woman drinking of this blood was not the true church.
Verse 15 says, "The waters which thou sawest, where the whore
sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues."
This fallen woman, or church, ruled over the world. She sat in
authority and power, being united with the state, and thus put to
death the martyrs of Jesus who constituted the true church of God.
Noting the contrast in the two churches, it is sufficient
evidence of their distinction and entire separation. One was
clothed with the sun, the other adorned with gold and precious
stones; one held the moon under her feet, the other was seated upon
the beast; one possessed the crown of twelve stars, the other
wearing the inscription, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of
Harlots"; and one was drunk on the blood of the saints, and the
blood of the martyrs of Jesus, while the other was driven into the
wilderness, nourished there of God.
The Church Name in Both Old and New Testaments
From the time of the exodus of the twelve tribes of Israel
from Egyptian bondage, to the advent of our Savior, the church was
called "Israel," this term having originated through the experience
of Jacob wrestling with the angel.
The church in the wilderness was organized with twelve
patriarchs, one at the head of each of the twelve tribes, Numbers
10, and then the Sanhedrin, or the seventy elders, Exodus 24:1 and
Numbers 11:16. This form of church government and organization
remained until the dispersion of Israel, and the Sanhedrin
continued until the time of Jesus. The name "Israel" was also the
name applying to these people.
The prophet Isaiah, speaking of events concerning the church,
said, "And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings
thy glory, and thou shalt be called by a new name which the mouth
of the Lord shall name," Isaiah 62:2. This prophecy was fulfilled
when the Gentiles were received into God's favor, beholding His
righteousness, and receiving His favors through Jesus. The church
was to be "called by a new name," which the mouth of the Lord would
name. This also met its fulfillment when Jesus gave the new name
for the church recorded twelve times in the New Testament, viz.,
"The Church of God."
In the Savior's prayer before Calvary, he said, "Holy Father,
keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me . . .
while I was with them . . . I kept in thy name . . . I have
declared unto them thy name, and I will declare it," John 17:11,
12, 26. That Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled in the change of name
from "Israel" to the "Church of God" is further seen by reading
Acts 20:28, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the
flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed
the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood." In
I Corinthians 1:2, Paul addresses the church at Corinth, as
follows: "To the church of God which is at Corinth." Nowhere do we
find the Catholic church spoken of; still they claim to be the
oldest in the world. The people following the Lord Jesus, called
out from both Jews and Gentiles, I Corinthians 10:32, and called
the church of God, were not the forerunners of the Roman church, as
definite history, set forth in the further pages of this work, will
We find Paul discussing the church, 59 A.D., in the following
manner. He says, "For as the body is one, and hath many members,
and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so
also is Christ," I Corinthians 12:12. The church therefore existed
as one body to this time, and the Word said further that when
one member suffers, all members suffer with it, and when one member
is honored all members rejoice with it.
Five years later, in 64 A.D., Paul says, "I bow my knees to
the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in
heaven and earth is named," Ephesians 3:14, 15.
Chapter 3 - THE DRAGON AND BEAST MAKE WAR ON THE CHURCH
The Period of Great Tribulation
"And there appeared another wonder . . . a great red dragon,
having seven heads and ten horns . . . And the dragon stood
before the woman . . . to devour her child as soon as it was born.
And she brought forth a man child that was to rule all nations with
a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to his
throne, . . . and . . . the dragon . . . persecuted the woman which
brought forth the man child," Revelation 12:3-13.
It is necessary that we investigate carefully this strange
symbol, introduced in connection with the history of the church,
for it is this power that began the long period of religious
persecutions, during which thousands of true followers of Jesus
gave their lives for the true faith.
In verse 6 we read, "And the woman fled into the wilderness,
where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her
there, a thousand two hundred and three score days." In verse 14 we
read, "To the woman were given two wings of a great eagle that she
might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is
nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of
It is evident that these two verses given above, set forth the
same period of prophetic time, covering the sojourn of the church
in the wilderness while persecuted by the beast. The phrase, "Time,
times, and half a time," in verse 14, must therefore be 1260 days,
as stated in verse 6. Furthermore, "time" is the ancient word for
year. "Times" always meant two years, and "half a time," one-half
a year. There were also 360 days as the common year; therefore we
have one year, 360 days; two years, 720 days; and one-half a year,
or 180 days, a total of 1260.
The Lord tells us the prophecies are of no private
interpretation, therefore we must obtain divine information as to
the meaning of all mysterious symbols found in prophetic vision.
Daniel beheld four beasts coming up out of the sea, diverse one
from another, and each playing an important part in the affairs of
this world. The angel came to him and made known their meaning in
the following words: "These beasts which are four, are four kings
that shall arise in the earth . . . and the fourth beast shall be
the fourth kingdom upon the earth, Daniel 7:17, 23. Hence, we do
not place private interpretation upon these sacred matters when we
identify the beast, the persecutor of the church, with the Roman
These four beasts, the angel said, were four kings that would
arise in the earth, and the fourth one was the fourth kingdom. As
the vision begins with Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon Daniel,
chapters two and seven, the first beast would represent this king
and his kingdom; the second beast, the kingdom that overthrew the
Babylon empire, viz., the Medes and Persians, the bear; the third,
like unto a leopard, symbolizes the third kingdom to rule the
world, which all history tells us was the Grecian empire, under
Alexander the Great. The fourth beast, with ten horns, symbolizing
the fourth kingdom, represents the Roman Empire, for it was the
fourth in order down from King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
Hence, we have located the persecutor of the church, and find that
both the Old and the New Testaments tell the same story. In this
chapter Daniel 7:25, it says this beast makes war with the saints,
and prevails against them for "a time, times, and the dividing of
(a) time." This is the same expression used relative to the beast
standing before the woman, in Revelation, twelfth chapter, where it
is said to mean twelve hundred and sixty days. Compare verses 6 and
14 of this chapter.
In Daniel, seventh chapter, the ten horns upon this beast are
said to be ten kings, verse 24, and another, arising among them,
plucks up three of the ten horns, and makes war with the "saints of
the most High." This beast was the fourth in order. The Roman
Empire was also the fourth kingdom, consequently this beast
corresponds with the Roman Kingdom. The beast had ten horns, and
the angel said the horns were ten kings. History says the Roman
Empire was divided; and there are ten kings named in the divisions.
How wonderful as history responds to the call of prophecy. A little
horn came up among the ten and plucked up three by the roots, and
made war with the saints of God. History tells of the Papacy, the
Roman Catholic church with its papal government, coming up during
the reign of the ten kings of Rome, and plucking up three of the
kingdoms, and also of this power persecuting the church, driving
the true followers of Jesus into the wilderness. They took refuge,
as this work will further prove, in the mountains and forests and
caves of the earth.
In Ezekiel 4:5, 6, we are told to take a day for a year in
calculating prophetical time periods, and this figures out with
wonderful precision and accuracy as history meets prophecy This
fourth beast, while carrying the little horn and persecuting the
church, continued exactly 1260 years. Three of the ten kings of the
Roman kingdom were plucked up by this papal horn, viz. Burgundians,
Vandals, and Ostrogoths. The last one of these three horns, or
Roman kings, was plucked up in the year 538 A.D., when the period
of 1260 years evidently began. It was also this year that Justinian
wrote the famous letter to the pope of Rome offering to unite
church and state, which was accepted. Consequently, it was this
year (538 A.D.) that the harlot woman of Revelation, seventeenth
chapter, mounted the beast, and it was this year that the true
Church of God fled into the wilderness. The same prophetic period
covering her sojourn there, also covers the period of the beast's
power and rule. Hence, as she went into the wilderness in 538 A.D.,
and was to remain there 1260 years, we would add this to 538, and
it brings us down to 1798. This was the very year that Napoleon
sent General Berthier in conquest of Rome, and the city was
captured, the pope taken prisoner and banished in exile, where he
died three years later. The Protestant banners were unfurled in the
streets of Rome, and union of church and state dissolved throughout
Europe. While these events brought us to the end of the prophetic
period, and we see history wonderfully responding to the call of
prophecy, it is also worthy of note that at this particular time
the Constitution of the United States had just been written,
granting the persecuted followers of Jesus a refuge, giving them
that freedom and liberty of conscience, which they of right possess
according to the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As the true church fled into the wilderness in the year 538
A.D., and the Lord declares that he fed her there for 1260 days, or
years, it is definite proof that the church lived, functioned, and
remained down to the time of 1798. It would not be possible for the
owner of a herd of cattle to take them to a pasture, and feed them
there for six months, during the summer season, unless they lived,
and existed for that period of time: neither would it be possible
for the Lord to carry the church away into the wilderness, and feed
her there for 1260 years unless she lived, and existed for that
period of time. The history of the church, therefore, is definitely
traced from the days of Jesus, through the sacred writings, down to
this eventful year 1798, and even farther, for it is said of the
church at the end of her wilderness experience, that "The earth
helped the woman, Revelation 12:16. As previously stated, a new
nation had been born, and was the only place of refuge for the
persecuted followers of Jesus. In the Constitution of that nation,
religious liberty was granted, and to the United States of America
refugees fled from Europe, and worshiped God according to the
dictates of their own conscience. These principles of religious
liberty soon spread throughout the world, for indeed the earth had
helped the woman. History has again met prophecy: the church is out
of the wilderness and enjoying religious liberty, while by her the
true gospel light is again being carried to every nation, kindred,
tribe, and people.
Chapter 4 - THIRTY-THREE TO ONE HUNDRED A.D.
The Apostolical Church
A history of the true Church of God could not be written
without taking into consideration the lives and work of the
outstanding leaders of the Gospel Age, that is, the apostles Paul,
Peter and John; for by, or under their direction, most of the New
Testament Scriptures were written, and the fortunes of the church
advanced during the first century, and fashioned for future
The Apostle Paul
The Apostle Paul, who after his conversion, secluded himself
in the desert of Arabia, not mingling with the Church for three
years, Galatians 1:17-19, became the intellectual giant of
apostolic days, and his writings embrace much of the early history
of the church down to 66 A.D.
When the three years were expired and Paul (or Saul) had gone
up to Jerusalem, he returned to the church at Antioch, his name
still being Saul, Acts 12:25. His office in the church was prophet
or teacher, Acts 13:1. His ordination and preparation for the
apostleship was performed in the usual way, by the laying on of
hands, and prayer, after which service he was called Paul, and the
title of "Apostle" applied to him, Acts 13:1-9, also 14:14.
Although having been miraculously called by Jesus on the Damascus
Road, his preparation covered a similar period of three years as
the other apostles, and his ordination was in keeping with the New
Testament practice. The thirteenth chapter of Acts, as above, gives
us the brief narrative of his being received into the apostleship,
which evidently was to fill the vacancy made by the death of James,
the apostle, recorded in chapter 12:1, 2.
"In his later years, the Apostle Paul spent more time in
preparing the churches for the great future apostasy than in
pushing the work farther on. He foresaw that this apostasy would
arise in the West. Therefore, he spent years laboring to anchor the
Gentile churches of Europe to the churches of Judea.
The Jewish believers had back of them 1500 years of training.
Throughout the centuries God had so molded the Jewish mind that it
grasped the idea of sin; of an invisible Godhead; of man's serious
condition; of the need of a divine Redeemer. But throughout these
same centuries the Gentile world had sunk deeper and deeper in
frivolity, heathenism and debauchery. It is worthy of note that the
Apostle Paul wrote practically all of his epistles to the Gentile
churches -- to Corinth, to Rome, to Philippi, etc. He wrote almost
no letters to the Jewish believers. Therefore, the great burden of
his closing days was to anchor the Gentile churches of Europe to
the churches of Judea. In fact, it was to secure this end that he
lost his life." -- Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated,
pages 13, 14.
This is how the Apostle Paul used the churches Elohim in the
land of Judea as an example, a pattern, by which Gentile churches
were to be built. He said to the Thessalonians: "For ye, brethren,
became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in
Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own
countrymen, even as they have of the Jews, I Thessalonians 2:14.
Nowhere in all the writings of the Apostle Paul can we find
where he taught believers to follow the Gentile churches, either
the church at Rome, at Corinth, in Galatia, at Thessalonia, or any
other place. Why? Without doubt it was because they were not
suitable patterns, while those churches in Judea, filled with
Jewish believers, were organized, governed, and patterned after the
will of the Master, and were doctrinally and organically correct.
"St. Paul did his best to maintain his friendship and alliance
with the Jerusalem church. To put himself right with them, he
traveled up to Jerusalem, when fresh fields and splendid prospects
were opening up for him in the West. For this purpose he submitted
to several days restraint and attendance in the temple, and the
results vindicated his determination." -- Stokes, The Acts of the
Apostles, Vol. 11, p. 439.
Simon Peter, the Apostle
"Peter was the son of a certain Jona or John, and was
according to John 1:44, a native of Bethsaida, though later he
became a citizen of Capernaum, where he had a house, and with his
brother Andrew was engaged in the fishing business in partnership
with Zebedee and his two sons, James and John. He was married.
Though not wealthy, Simon was a man of some property, not a poor,
grossly ignorant laborer . . . In childhood he was probably taught,
as many other Jewish children were, to read the Hebrew Scriptures,
although in the rabbinical sense he was not learned, Acts 4:13.
"Among those who flocked to hear John the Baptist were Peter
and his brother Andrew -- an indication of their interest in the
religious hopes of the times. John's words made such an impression
that the brothers attached themselves to him as (at least
temporary) disciples. Soon after, Andrew met Jesus and at once
sought his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus, who even then
foreshadowed his future career by saying that he should be called
Cephas, from the Aram. After continuing with Jesus for a while,
they seem to have returned to their accustomed occupation. To what
extent Peter was with Jesus during the period covered by John,
chapters two to four is uncertain. When Jesus opened His public
ministry in Galilee He summoned the brothers to a more permanent
discipleship, Mark 1:16-20. For this summons their previous
acquaintance with Jesus had prepared them, and it was with
enthusiastic self-sacrifice that they left all and followed Him. As
yet, however, Peter was only one of many whom Jesus attracted to
Himself during the early months of His work in Galilee. This was a
testing time for Simon. He was a whole-hearted, though often
blundering, disciple. While he had much to learn, he was also
willing to be taught, and finally he showed such appreciation of
Jesus' person and teaching that he was chosen by Jesus to be one of
twelve, selected from the larger body of disciples, who were to be
`apostles,' i.e., intimately associated with Him to learn of Him
and (ultimately) to be sent out by Him to declare His message and
carry on His work, Mark 3:14.
"With the brothers James and John, Peter made a group of three
with whom Jesus was most intimate and who alone were associated
with Him on such occasions as the Transfiguration and the Prayer in
the Garden of Gethsemane . . . The twelve remained steadfast even
after Jesus' popularity began to wane, and it was Peter who voiced
their conviction later in response to Jesus' searching question
that He was indeed the Messiah, Mark 8:29; Matthew 16:16a; Luke
9:20; cf. John 6:68.
"When Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his short sword and
struck off the ear of one Malchus. Though with the others he fled
when Jesus was arrested, Mark 14:50, he followed the party into the
city and through the influence of the `unnamed' disciple gained
admission into the palace where Jesus' trial was proceeding. Here,
when taunted by a servant-maid, with an oath he denied that he knew
Jesus. Overcome by shame, he went outside and wept. He witnessed
Jesus' sufferings on the cross. These scenes were so indelibly
stamped on his mind that years after, the impression was still
vivid. The despair that settled over his soul when he saw his
beloved Master die was not lit by any strong hope of a
resurrection. But when the women early Sunday morning brought the
news of an open and empty tomb, Peter and `the other disciple' ran
to investigate. They found the tomb empty and wondered, with an
incipient faith, at the orderly appearance of the grave-clothes,
and then returned to their company. Later in the day Jesus appeared
to Peter, the first of the Twelve to whom He showed Himself after
the Passion. To Peter this was as a new birth, filled with the
living hope. He was present at most of the post-resurrection
interviews between Jesus and His disciples, and to him in
particular, probably because of his denial, Jesus very tenderly and
suggestively reintrusted the Apostolic commission, intimating at
the same time the self-denial and suffering involved in his future
"Peter now took a leading part in the direction of the little
band of disciples that was the nucleus of the Christian Church . .
Stephen the new movement was confined almost exclusively to
Jerusalem, and it was Peter who had the-chief share in the guidance
of affairs. His associate was John. These two figure prominently in
the accounts of the first conflicts with the Jerusalem authorities
larger proportions, spreading throughout Palestine and into the
neighboring countries. To a certain extent it was supervised by the
Apostles. Acts preserves a record of two visitations by Peter in
connection with this work. The first was when he and John were sent
by the Apostles to oversee the evangelistic labors of Philip in
Samaria . . . The second tour led him as far as Joppa, Acts 9:32
whence he was summoned by a vision and by messengers from
Cornelius, a centurion at Caesarea, to be the first to preach the
gospel to Gentiles. In this matter Peter also found himself doing
what he had never done before, fellowshipping freely with Gentiles,
recognizing them as Christian brethren, and eating with them . . .
"Some time after this Peter was arrested by order of Herod
Agrippa, with a view to executing him on the following day. But he
escaped and left Jerusalem immediately. Whither he went is not
said, and for all further knowledge of Peter's movements we must
trust to incidental statements in the New Testament or the somewhat
unreliable notices in early Christian literature. Since Herod
Agrippa died in 44 A.D., the events narrated in Acts, chapters one
to twelve, in case they are arranged in chronological sequence,
must have covered a period of about fifteen years. We may say,
then, that for that length of time Peter was the foremost figure of
the early apostolic church. It was during this period, three years
after his conversion, that Paul visited Jerusalem to talk matters
over with Peter staying with him fifteen days. Paul's desire to
have this personal interview with Peter incidentally reveals the
important place held by the latter in the apostolic church at that
time. His subsequent career was just as important, but its details
have not been preserved. About five years later, Peter was present
at the council in Jerusalem and took a leading part in its
deliberations. By this time he had become recognized as the
`apostle of the circumcision,' Galatians 2:7, through whom God was
working as effectually as he was through Paul for the
`uncircumcision' (i.e., the Gentile world). These expressions
suggest that Peter's activity was like his own largely missionary
in character and to the Jews of the dispersion as his was to the
Gentiles. For this reason Peter was in Jerusalem probably only
occasionally after his escape from Herod Agrippa in 44 A.D. We
learn further, from Galatians 2:11-14, that at Antioch (either soon
after the Council of 49, before Paul set out on his second
missionary journey, or at the close of that journey, when Paul was
at Antioch for a while; cf. Acts 18:23, Peter was sharply rebuked
by Paul for weakly yielding to emissaries of the strict Judaistic
party of Jerusalem and withdrawing from that familiar fellowship
with the uncircumcised Gentile members of the church . . .
Of the remainder of Peter's career we are in almost ignorance.
He appears to have continued his missionary labors. Early Christian
tradition erroneously looked back to him as the first bishop of the
Church of Antioch. But it is certain that he did not organize the
great Church. Other ancient traditions speak of his labors in Asia
Minor, especially in the regions near the Black Sea. Mark was with
the apostle (serving as his `interpreter' and gathering the
material [in part] for his Gospel), also Silvanus, who appears to
have penned the Epistle 5:12-13. According to a wide-spread
tradition, which has become generally accepted in Christendom,
Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome." -- A New Standard Bible
John the Revelator
The Apostle John is also deservable of special mention in this
work. He is the apostle spoken of as the one Jesus loved, and
without doubt he was, like Paul, a chosen vessel of the Lord to
fulfill a special mission.
John was sentenced to death, and it seemed his fate was to
have been much the same as most of the other apostles had been, a
martyr's death. He was to be killed by being cast into a caldron of
boiling oil, which was always fatal to the victim. His
would-be-executioners carried out the orders to the letter; but, to
their amazement and surprise, he arose from the boiling oil,
praising God, and without bodily injury. Such fear was thus caused
among many who witnessed the miracle, that hundreds of conversions
were made to the faith they were vainly endeavoring to stamp out.
Fearing further to try to take the apostle's life, he was banished
to the island of Patmos, about seventy-five miles off the northeast
shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It was on this island where the
angel of God visited the apostle, and gave him the last book of the
New Testament, the Revelation. See chapter 1:1-9.
"The last of the apostles to pass away was John. His death is
usually placed about 100 A.D. In his closing days he cooperated in
the collecting and forming of those writings we call the New
Testament." -- Dr. Adam Clarke, Commentary on New Testament, Vol.
11, p. 544.
"While St. John lived, these heretics (the Docetae, or
Gnostics, and the Ebionites), were much discountenanced; and those
who embraced their sentiments, were always considered as perfectly
distinct from the Christian church. Doubtless they called
themselves Christians, and so do all heretics, for obvious reasons;
and for reasons as obvious, all, who are tenders of the fundamental
principles of the gospel, should not own their right to the
appellation." -- Page 57, 58, -- Townsend's Abridgment of Milner's
Church History, Ed. 1816.
"While St. John lived, heresy could make no serious headway.
He had hardly passed away, however, before perverse teachers
infested the Christian church . . . These years were times which
saw the New Testament books corrupted in abundance." . . .
"Eusebius is witness to this fact. He also related that the
corrupted manuscripts were so prevalent that agreement between the
copies was hopeless; and that those who were corrupting the
Scriptures, claimed that they really were correcting them." --
Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., Bk. 111, Chap. 24, and Wilkinson's Our
Authorized Bible Vindicated, p. 15.
In spite of these efforts to pollute the words of God, and
bring confusion, the Lord was able to care for these sacred
writings, and He wonderfully directed, when certain manuscripts
were chosen to become a part of the New Testament.
The Early Protestant Church
Its various names falsely ascribed: The true name, and its
doctrine and practice will now be considered.
It has already been shown that the New Testament name for the
true church organized by Jesus Christ was the "Church of God," and
as we leave the New Testament writings and launch out into secular
history, which we must do, as the New Testament narrative only
carries us to about 96 A.D., we will find the same name brought to
view down through the Gospel Age. These people, however, have
always been called, by their enemies, by other names. The name
"Nazarenes," applied to them by the world, during the first period
following the days of the apostles, will be considered first.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he gave warning to his
followers of the great destruction decreed upon Jerusalem, and the
Jewish temple there. He told those living in Judea to flee to the
mountains. Consequently, when they saw Jerusalem compassed with
armies, the church fled to a town called Pella. The following bit
of history gives us information concerning this flight and escape.
"Under the reign of Vespasian, Rome declared war against the
Jews because of their repeated revolts, and General Titus besieged
the city of Jerusalem 70 A.D. It is said that eleven hundred
thousand Jews perished in the six month siege, but the church there
escaped the horrors of the siege by following the instruction of
Christ in Matthew 24, and fleeing to the mountains beyond the
Jordan. This timely retreat was made to the small town of Pella."
-- Hugh Smith's History.
"In the fall of Jerusalem, few if any Christians perished.
From the prophetic utterances of Christ, the Christians received
warning, escaped from the doomed city, and found refuge at Pella,
in the Jordan valley." -- Pages 41, 42, Hurlbut's Story of the
Of the early apostolic Christians, Hurlbut says, "All the
members of the Pentecostal Church were Jews; and, so far as we can
perceive, none of the members, or even of the apostolic company, at
first dreamed that Gentiles would ever be admitted to membership .
represented in the Jerusalem church, . . . Hebrews, . . . Grecian
Jews or Hellenists, . . . Proselytes." -- Pages 21, 22, Idem.
The first secular name given the true church by the outside
world was "Nazarenes," and of them Encyclopaedia Britannica has the
"Nazarenes, an obscure Jewish-Christian sect existing at the
time of Epiphanius (fl. A.D. 370) in Coele-Syria, Decapolis (Pella)
and Basanitis (Cocabe). According to that authority, they dated
their settlement in Pella from the time of the flight of the Jewish
Christians from Jerusalem, immediately before the siege in A.D. 70;
he characterizes them as neither more or less than Jews pure and
simple, but adds that they recognized the new covenant as well as
the old, and believed in the resurrection, and in the one God and
His Son Jesus Christ. He cannot say whether their Christological
views were identical with those of Cerinthus and his school, or
whether they differed at all from his own. But Jerome (Ep. 79, to
Augustine) says that they believed in Christ the Son of God, born
of the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rose
again, but adds that, `desiring to be both Jews and Christians,
they are neither the one nor the other.' They used the Aramaic
recession of the Gospel according to Matthew, which they called the
Gospel to the Hebrews, but, while adhering as far as possible to
the Mosaic economy as regarded . . . sabbaths, foods, and the like,
they did not refuse to recognize the apostolicity of Paul or the
rights of (Gentile) Christians," Jerome, Comn. in Isaiah 9:1 -- The
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, Vol. 19.
From the above quotation we have learned that the church
during the first four centuries used the Aramaic recension of the
Scriptures. Also they were known by the world as Nazarenes (Acts
24:5). The name originated from Nazareth the city of the nativity
of our Lord, as Jesus was raised to manhood in and around the city
of Nazareth. We read from Matthew 2:23, as follows: "And He came
and dwelt in the city of Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which
was spoken by the prophet, He shall be called a Nazarene."
It is not strange therefore, that the early church would be
known by the name Nazarenes, as the prophet long before his birth
said that Jesus would be given this title of national distinction.
The people of Nazareth spoke the Aramaic tongue, consequently, this
was the native language of our Savior. Hence, we find on the event
of his death he cried, "Eli, Eli, lama Sabachthani," which is in
the ancient language of Nazareth, the Aramaic. The name Nazareth,
or "Nazarenes," is therefore the national name, as American,
Ethiopian, Russian, etc. In no way, however, was this name intended
by the Lord to apply to His church, or He would never have given
the name, "The Church of God," twelve times, as He did in the New
In the ancient records of the early writers when sending
letters back and forth between the churches, they always addressed
one another as "The Church of God in Smyrna," the "Church of God in
Philadelphia," etc. In the second century Ignatius wrote to the
Smyrnaeans thus: "To the Churches of God in Smyrna." On page 79,
in the epistle to the Philadelphians, he writes, "To the Church of
God, which is at Philadelphia." -- Ante-Nicean Fathers, Vol. 1.
Eusebius, who wrote of the church of the first centuries,
speaks of the church observing the Lord's supper at the same time
the Jews kept the passover; viz., on the 14th of the first month,
Nisan. There were at first two elders, or bishops, appointed for
each city, as instructed by Paul to Titus (Titus 1:5); but toward
the close of the second century this practice began to give away to
the appointment of one bishop instead of two, and these bishops
were appointed over not only the city, but a certain community or
district, while an inferior order of ministers were appointed
called deacons to preside over the local affairs of the church.
"The first Christian church established at Jerusalem by
apostolic authority became in its doctrine and practice a model for
the greater part of those founded in the first century. The first
fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were all Jews, except [possibly] one,
St. Mark, and the congregation over which they presided united the
teachings of Moses with the doctrines of Christ." -- History of the
Christian Church, by Hugh Smith, pp. 50, 51, a Presbyterian work.
Hugh Smith says further, in his history of these Christian
adherents to the faith as taught by the first fifteen bishops of
Jerusalem, "These Judaizing Christians were first known by the
outside world as `Nazarenes'." He speaks again of this matter on
page 69, as follows: "All Christians agreed in celebrating the
seventh day of the week in conformity to the Jewish converts."
"As long as the Christians were supposed to be Jews they were
not especially molested. They simply suffered from the ill-feeling
which the Romans had for the Jews. But in a process of time the
Christians were hated for other reasons. They nearly all came from
the lower classes, the tradesmen, the freed-men and slaves. Being
devoted to their religion, they refused to engage in the practices
commonly engaged in by the Romans. They disapproved of the Roman
amusements, the gladiatorial shows, the races in the circus, the
plays, the dances, and the theaters. They were hence regarded as
unsocial, and `Haters of mankind.' Their churches were looked upon
as secret societies, which were contrary to law. They were hated,
and frequently subjects of mob violence." -- Myer's General
Mosheim's History speaks of a sect of Christian worshipers who
were made poor by the destruction of Jerusalem, and who kept all of
the commandments given by the great law-giver.
The Real Bible Name
While the name given these people by the world during this
period was "Nazarenes," still they were known among themselves by
the Bible name, "The Church of God." The following sketches bear
out this fact.
Regarding the death of Polycarp, who was an associate with
John the Revelator, the church at Smyrna addresses the church in
Philomelium thus: "The Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna to
the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium, mercy, peace, and love
from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be multiplied." --
Vol. 1, Ante-Nicean Fathers.
The Day of Rest
In the history of the first centuries by Eusebius, he speaks
of Jewish Christians who observed the Sabbath, and also says that
Polycarp, baptized by St. John, held to the Passover as an
institution peculiarly handed down by St. John. -- Eusebius p. 243.
Bishop White, in speaking of Sabbathkeeping as opposite to the
practice of the church, and as heretical, says, "It was thus
condemned in the Nazarenes, and in the Corinthians . . . The
ancient Synod of Laodicea made a decree against it, 321 A.D.
(chapter 29), also Gregory the Great affirmed it was Judaizing. In
Saint Bernard's day it was condemned. The same likewise being
revived in Luther's day, by Carlstadt, Sternberg, and some
sectaries among the Anabaptists, (rebaptizers)." -- History by
Lewis, p. 8.
"As long as the church was mainly Jewish, the Hebrew Sabbath
was kept; but as it became increasingly Gentile, the first day
gradually took the place of the seventh day." -- Hurlbut's Story of
the Christian Church, p. 45.
That the observance of the Sabbath was not confined to Jewish
converts, the learned Gieseler explicitly testifies: "While the
Jewish Christians of Palestine retained the entire Mosaic Law, and
consequently the Jewish festivals, the Gentile Christians observed
also the Sabbath and the Passover (I Corinthians 5:6, 8), with the
reference to the last scenes of Jesus' life, but without Jewish
superstition." -- Eccl., Vol. 1, chap. 2, sec. 30.
"While the Christians of Palestine, who kept the whole Jewish
Law, celebrated of course all the Jewish festivals, the heathen
converts observed only the Sabbath, and, in remembrance of closing
scenes of our Savior's life, the Passover, though without the
Jewish superstitions." -- Church History, Apostolic Age to A.D. 70,
Sec. 29; Lewis Hist. S. & S., page 135.
The first century closes with the death of St. John the
Revelator, which is said to have occurred in the year 100 A.D. As
a summary of the work accomplished by the church of this century,
we shall quote the following from Townsend's Abridgment of Milner.
"In this century (First), a revolution took place, in the
human mind and in human manners, the most astonishing that was ever
seen in any age, and was affected against the united opposition of
all the powers then in the world; and this too, not in countries
rude or uncivilized, but in the most humanized, the most learned,
and the most polished part of the globe, within the Roman empire;
no part of which was exempted from its effects. This empire, within
the first century seems to have been the proper limit of Christian
"And what was the change? It was from bad to good. The
religious and moral principles of both Jews and Gentiles were,
before their conversion, grossly bad. The idolatries, abominations
and ferocity of the Gentile world, must be allowed not to have been
less than they were described in the first chapter to the Romans.
The writings of Horace and Juvenal prove, that the picture, painted
by the apostle, is not overdrawn. The extreme wickedness of the
Jews cannot be denied.
"In this revolution, are thousands of men, turned from sin to
holiness, many in a very short space of time, reformed in
understanding, in inclination, in affection; knowing, loving, and
confiding in God; from a state of mere selfishness converted into
the purest philanthropists, living only to please God, and to
exercise kindness toward one another." -- Pages 58, 59, Townsend's
Abridgment, Ed. 1816.
History of Christian Martyrs to the
First General Persecutions under Nero
"Christ our Savior, in the Gospel of St. Matthew, hearing the
confession of St. Peter, who, first of all other, openly
acknowledged Him to be the Son of God, and perceiving the secret
hand of His Father therein, called Him (alluding to His name) a
rock, upon which rock He would build his church so strong that the
gates of hell should not prevail against it. In which words three
things are to be noted: First, that Christ will have a church in
this world. Secondly, that the same church should mightily be
impugned, not only by the world, but also by the uttermost strength
and powers of all hell. And, thirdly, that the same church,
notwithstanding the uttermost of the devil and all his malice,
"Which prophecy of Christ we see wonderfully to be verified,
insomuch that the whole course of the church to this day may seem
nothing else but a verifying of the said prophecy. First, that
Christ hath set up a church, needed no declaration. Secondly, what
force of princes, kings, monarchs, governors, and rulers of this
world, with their subjects, publicly and privately, with all their
strength and cunning, have bent themselves against this church!
And, thirdly, how the said church, all this notwithstanding, hath
yet endured and holden its own! What storms and tempests it hath
overpast, wondrous it is to behold: for the more evident
declaration whereof, I have addressed this present history, to the
end, first, that the wonderful works of God in His church might
appear to His glory; also, that, the continuance and proceedings of
the church, from time to time, being set forth, more knowledge and
experience may redound thereby, to the profit of the reader and
edification of Christian faith.
"As it is not our business to enlarge upon our Savior's
history, either before or after His crucifixion, we shall only find
it necessary to remind our readers of the discomfiture of the Jews
by His subsequent resurrection. Although one apostle had betrayed
him; although another had denied Him, under the solemn sanction of
an oath; and although the rest had forsaken him, unless we may
except the disciple who was known to the high priest; the history
of His resurrection gave a new direction to all their hearts, and,
after the mission of the Holy Spirit, imparted new confidence to
their minds. The powers with which they were endued emboldened
them to proclaim His name, to the confusion of the Jewish rulers,
and the astonishment of Gentile proselytes.
I. St. Stephen
"St. Stephen suffered the next in order. His death was
occasioned by the faithful manner in which he preached the Gospel
to the betrayers and murderers of Christ. To such a degree of
madness were they excited, that they cast him out of the city and
stoned him to death. The time when he suffered is generally
supposed to have been at the passover which succeeded to that of
our Lord's crucifixion, and to the era of his ascension, in the
"Upon this a great persecution was raised against all who
professed their belief in Christ as the Messiah, or as a prophet.
We are immediately told by St. Luke, that `there was a great
persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem'; and that
`they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and
Samaria, except the apostles.'
"About two thousand Christians, with Nicanor, one of the seven
deacons, suffered martyrdom during the `persecution that arose
II. James the Great
"The next martyr we meet with, according to St. Luke, in the
history of the apostles' acts, was James the son of Zebedee, the
elder brother of John, and a relative of our Lord; for his mother
Salome was cousin-german to the Virgin Mary. It was not until ten
years after the death of Stephen that the second martyrdom took
place; for no sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of
Judea, than, with a view to ingratiate himself with them, he raised
a sharp persecution against the Christians, and determined to make
an effectual blow, by striking at their leaders. The account given
us by an eminent primitive writer, Clemens Alexandrinus, ought not
to be overlooked; that as James was led to the place of martyrdom,
his accuser was brought to repent of his conduct by the apostle's
extraordinary courage and undauntedness, and fell down at his feet
to request his pardon, professing himself a Christian, and
resolving that, James should not receive the crown of martyrdom
alone. Hence they were both beheaded at the same time. Thus did the
first apostolic martyr cheerfully and resolutely receive that cup,
which he had told our Savior he was ready to drink. Timon and
Parmenas suffered martyrdom about the same time; the one at
Philippi, and the other in Macedonia. These events took place about
"Was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee and was first called by the
name of `disciple.' He labored diligently in Upper Asia, and
suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged,
thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified, A.D. 54.
"Whose occupation was that of toll-gather was born at
Nazareth. He wrote his gospel in Hebrew, which was afterwards
translated into Greek by James the Less. The scene of his labors
was Parthia, and Ethiopia, in which latter country he suffered
martyrdom, being slain with a halberd in the city of Nadabah, A.D.
V. James the Less
"Is supposed by some to have been the brother of our Lord, by
a former wife of Joseph. This is very doubtful, and accords too
much with Catholic superstition, that Mary never had any other
children except our Savior. He was elected to the oversight of the
churches of Jerusalem; and was the author of the Epistle ascribed
to James in the sacred canon. At the age of ninety-four he was beat
and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with
a fuller's club.
"Of whom less is known than most of the other disciples, was
elected to fill the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at
Jerusalem and then beheaded.
"Was the brother of Peter. He preached the gospel to many
Asiatic nations; but on his arrival at Edessa he was taken and
crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed transversely
in the ground. Hence the derivation of the term, St. Andrew's
VIII. St. Mark
"Was born of Jewish parents of the tribe of Levi. He is
supposed to have been converted to Christianity by Peter, whom he
served as an amanuensis, and under whose inspection he wrote his
Gospel in the Greek language. Mark was dragged to pieces by the
people of Alexandria, at the great solemnity of Serapis their idol,
ending his life under their merciless hands.
"Among many other saints, the blessed Apostle Peter was
condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome;
albeit some others, and not without cause, do doubt thereof.
Hegesippus said that Nero sought matter against Peter to put him to
death; which, when the people perceived they entreated Peter with
much ado that he would fly the city. Peter, through their
importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But,
coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to
whom he, worshiping, said, `Lord, whither dost Thou Go?' To whom he
answered and said, `I am come again to be crucified.' By this,
Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned into the
city. Jerome said that he was crucified, his head being down and
his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said)
unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord
"Paul, the apostle, who before was called Saul, after his
great travail and unspeakable labors in promoting the Gospel of
Christ, suffered also in the first persecution under Nero. Abdias,
declareth that under his execution Nero sent two of his esquires,
Perega and Parhemius, to bring him word of his death. They, coming
to Paul instructing the people, desired him to pray for them, that
they might believe; who told them that shortly after they should
believe and be baptized at his sepulcher. This done, the soldiers
came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where
he, after his prayers were made, gave his neck to the sword.
"The brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was
crucified at Edessa A.D. 72.
"Preached in several countries, and having translated the
Gospel of Matthew into
the language of India, he propagated it in that country. He was at
length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient
"Called Didymus, preached the gospel in Parthia and India,
where exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by
being thrust through with a spear.
"The evangelist, was the author of the Gospel which goes under
his name. He traveled with Paul through various countries, and is
supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree, by the idolatrous
priests of Greece.
"Surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa,
"The `beloved disciple,' was a brother to James the Great. The
churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and
Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be
sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of
boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian
afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the
Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor to Domitian, recalled him.
He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.
"Was of Cyprus, but of Jewish descent, his death is supposed
to have taken place about A.D. 73.
"And yet, not withstanding all these continued persecutions
and horrible punishments, the church daily increased, deeply rooted
in the doctrine of the apostles and of men apostolical, and watered
plenteously with the blood of the saints." -- Fox's Book of
Martyrs, pp. 1-5.
Chapter 5 - ONE HUNDRED TO TWO HUNDRED A.D.
The Rise of Christian Sects
The first century closed with the death of the last of the
apostles and writers of the New Testament, the Apostle John. No
sooner had the apostles and disciples, who had been with Jesus,
fallen asleep, than a new order arose and a different class of
writers began to pen religious epistles. Hurlbut says of this
change, in his Story of the Christian Church:
"For fifty years after St. Paul's life, a curtain hangs over
the church, through which we vainly strive to look; and when at
last it rises, about 129 A.D. with the writings of the earliest
church-fathers, we find a church in many aspects very different
from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul." -- Page 41.
The Great Apostasy
The apostle Paul declared that the day of the Lord could not
come, " Except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin
be revealed, the son of perdition . . . For the mystery of
iniquity doth already work: only he who letteth will let, until he
be taken out of the way," II Thessalonians 2:1-7.
Paul also wrote as follows, "I know this, that after my
departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the
flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse
things, to draw away disciples after them," Acts 20:29, 30. In
verse 32 he says, "And now, brethren I commend you to God, and to
the Word of his grace."
The above prophecies of Paul have been most strikingly
fulfilled, as will be shown by the following historical notations
taken from reliable sources. The great falling away came, and that
man of sin, "The Papacy," was revealed in his time.
Mr. Dowling, in his History of Romanism bears the following
testimony: "There is scarcely anything which strikes the mind of
the careful student of ancient ecclesiastical history with greater
surprise than the comparatively early period at which many of the
corruptions of Christianity, which are embodied in the Romish
system, took their rise; yet it is not to be supposed that when the
first originators of many of these unscriptural notions and
practices planted those germs of corruptions, they anticipated or
even imagined they would ever grow into such a hideous system of
superstition and error as that of popery. . . . Each of the great
corruptions of the latter ages took its rise in a manner which it
should be harsh to say was deserving of strong reprehension . . .
The worship of images, the invocation of saints, and the
superstition of relics, were but expansions of the natural feelings
of veneration and affection cherished toward the memory of those
who had suffered and died for the truth." -- Book 2, Ch. 1, Sec. 1.
The working of the mystery of iniquity in the first centuries
of the Christian church is thus described by a recent writer:
"During these centuries, the chief corruptions of popery were
either introduced in principle, or the seeds of them so effectually
sown as naturally to produce those baneful fruits which appeared so
plentifully at a later period. In Justin Martyr's time, within
fifty years of the apostolic age, the cup was mixed with water, and
a portion of the elements sent to the absent. The bread, which at
first was sent only to the sick, was, in the time of Tertullian and
Cyprian, carried home by the people, and locked up as a divine
treasure for their private use. At this time, too, the ordinance of
the supper was given to infants of the tenderest age, and was
styled the sacrifice of the body of Christ. The custom of praying
for the dead, Tertullian states, was common in the second century,
and became the universal practice of the following ages; so that it
came in the fourth century to be reckoned a kind of heresy to deny
the efficacy of it. By this time the invocation of saints, the
superstitious use of images, of the sign of the cross, and of
consecrated oil, were become established practices, and pretended
miracles were confidently abduced in proof of their supposed
efficacy. Thus did that mystery of iniquity, which was already
working in the time of the apostles, speedily after their
departure, spread its corruptions among the professors of
Christianity." -- The Modern Sabbath Examined, pp. 123,124.
"Toward the close of this century (second), the controversy
concerning the proper time of the observation of Easter (Passover),
was unhappily revived. Synods were held concerning it, and
uniformity was attempted in vain throughout the church . . . That
this controversy should appear to be a matter of such moment, at
this time, proves that the power of true godliness had already
suffered considerable declension. When faith and love are simple,
strong, and active in an eminent degree, such subjects of debate
are ever known to vanish as mists before the sun." -- Townsend's
Abridgment, p. 87, Ed. 1816.
Robinson, author of the History of Baptism speaks as follows:
"Toward the latter end of the second century, most of the churches
assumed a new form, the first simplicity disappeared; and
insensibly, as the old disciples retired to their graves, their
children, along with new converts, both Jews and Gentiles, came
forward and new-modeled the cause." -- Eccl. Researches, Chap. 6,
p. 51, 1792.
"At the end of the second century, . . . it is obvious to
remark the changes that had already been introduced in much of the
Christian worship. The garb of heathenism was already being worn.
The seed of most of these errors . . . marred its beauty and
tarnished its glory, also that distinction of grades began to be
established that ended in the papal hierarchy." -- Wharey's Church
"By the ambitious intrusions of selfrighteousness,
argumentative refinements, and Pharisaic pride, the Spirit of God
was grieved, and godliness in the professed friends of Christ,
began in this Century (second) to decay." -- Townsend's
Abridgement, p. 88.
Mosheim's History speaks of a sect of Christians, who met on
the first day of the week, with their faces turned toward the sun
to pray, also of their singing songs in honor of the sun and moon.
They taught that Christ was in both, and that the soul after death
first went to the moon to be cleansed of outward sins, and then to
the sun to be purified within, after which they flew out among the
stars to shine forever more.
The steady gains made by the Church of God in diffusing their
pure religion among the Romans, who were sun-worshipers, could not
long pass unnoticed. Their open attacks upon paganism made them
extremely obnoxious to the populace. Horrid tales of their
abominations were circulated throughout the Roman empire, during
the century, and thus the minds of the pagans were prepared for
every act of cruelty possible to inflict upon them. Rome was set on
fire and much of the city destroyed, and it is not strange that
Nero should try to transfer to this hated sect the guilt of which
he was strongly suspected, that of having caused the fire. With
this view they inflicted upon the church terrible persecution. Some
were crucified, some thrown to wild beasts, and many wrapped in
clothes saturated with tar, were burned as torches in the garden of
Nero, and in other parts of the city of Rome. The virtues of the
church, their zeal for truth, and constancy in suffering,
contributed to their respect and made this sect generally known.
The death of these humble martyrs thus won thousands to the cause
by inflaming zeal, uniting hearts, and putting to shame their
enemies. -- Hugh Smith's Church History.
"The first Christians, with the purest benevolence toward the
persons of heretics, gave their errors no quarter, and
discountenanced them by every reasonable method. The real heretics,
on the contrary, endeavored to unite themselves with Christians.
This they did, with a view, no doubt, to obtain a more extensive
circulation of their errors, under the cloak of their being still
in fellowship with those, whose real piety and soundness in the
faith could not be doubted." -- Townsend's Abridgement, p. 60. Ed.
After the death of the Apostles Paul, Peter, and John, history
of the early church is confined to the writings of the Church
Fathers, so called, who penned their epistles perhaps in sincerity,
but not under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as did the
apostles. While we may consider the epistles of these early writers
from a historical viewpoint, we cannot consider them as a basis of
doctrine, or faith, for their opinions are varied, the one
contradicting the other.
Lamson says of these early writers: "Many of them were
learned, but few of them knew how to apply their learning to any
good purpose . . . The theology of most of them exhibited a
strange and unnatural union of Christian doctrines with the
philosophy taught in the Platonic schools of Alexandria, the most
worthless that ever tasked the speculative intellect; and they
were, almost without exception, addicted to the fanciful modes of
interpretation, and particularly the allegorizing spirit, which
characterized the same schools. There is no species of absurdity,
in the interpretation, reasoning, faith, or opinion, of which their
writings do not furnish abundance of examples." -- Lamson, Church
of the First Three Centuries, Ed. 1874, pp. 331, 332.
He further says: "There is not an opinion so extravagant that
an advocate for it may not be found among the old Fathers of the
Church." -- Idem, p. 335.
Irenius, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Jerome, Justin
Martyr, Dionysius, and Apolinaris, were all early writers of the
church. Their writings in the first centuries, after the death of
the original apostles and disciples, were laborious and expensive,
being mostly confined to baked clay tablets, and some parchments,
and bark from trees. These writings remained, much of which was
found in the great library of Alexandria, Egypt, where they were
totally destroyed by the followers of Mohammed, early in the sixth
century. Upon the capture of Alexandria by the Mohammedans, they
decided that if this vast library agreed with the writings of
Mohammed they did not need them, and if they disagreed they should
be destroyed, says Sales, in his history of Mohammedanism. Thus
these early writings became extinct with the exceptions of
fragments having been taken to Rome and Constantinople. As the
contention between the Bishops of Jerusalem and Alexandria with
those of the West, and especially with Rome, became intense, the
original writings of these men were either totally destroyed, or
forever concealed, and new and spurious works printed during the
seventh century, the writings being so changed, in revisions, they
could scarcely be recognized. Such work, however, sufficed in
putting down opposition to the Roman hierarchy; for, as these
volumes were circulated throughout the Eastern churches much
opposition to the interpretation on doctrine, as taught by the
bishops of the West, ceased. Many books of the early writers were
never reprinted, as those of Hierapolis on the defense of the
Christian religion, Symmachus, Melito, Apolinaris and others.
Concerning Tertullian, one of the leaders in the province of
Africa, who flourished from the year 194 to 220, if historians are
correct concerning him: "He exhibited a striking instance how much
wisdom and weakness, learning and ignorance, faith and folly, truth
and error, goodness and delusion, may be mixed up in the
composition of the same person." -- Haweis' Church History, Vol. 1,
The True Church
"It has been observed that on the destruction of Jerusalem, 70
A.D., by Titus, the church retired to Pella. In this situation they
were forbidden to return to Jerusalem. Languishing for sixty years
deprived of revisiting the place of their dearest hope, they evaded
the law, directed against Jews, by electing Mark, a prelate of the
Gentile race for their bishop. Thus, they were permitted entrance
into the city, and the standard of Christianity, 130 A.D., was
again erected in the Holy City. A considerable part of the Jewish
Christians, however, for various reasons remained behind at Pella."
-- Hugh Smith's History, p. 72.
Professor Hugh Smith, the Presbyterian writer, in his church
history says, of these so-called Nazarenes, "Abhorred and publicly
execrated by the Jews for their attachment to Christianity, and
despised by the Christians for their prejudice in favor of the
Mosaic law (the Sabbath), they were peculiarly oppressed and
unfortunate. Traces of this sect appear as late as the fourth
century, being joined by what is known as the Ecesaites, a mixture
of Judaism and Christianity." -- p. 72.
Dr. Francis White, Lord Bishop of Ely, mentions the Nazarenes
as one of the ancient bodies of Sabbath-keepers who were condemned
by the church leaders for that heresy; and he classes them with
heretics, as Morer has done (Decline and Fall, chap. 15). Yet the
Nazarenes have a peculiar claim to our regard, as being the
apostolic church of Jerusalem, and its direct successors.
"The Jewish converts, or, as they were afterwards called, the
Nazarenes, who had laid the foundations of the church, soon found
themselves overwhelmed by the increasing multitudes, that from all
the various religions of polytheism enlisted under the banner of
Christ . . . The Nazarenes retired from the ruins of Jerusalem to
the little town of Pella beyond the Jordan, where that ancient
church languished above sixty years in solitude and obscurity." --
Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chap. 15.
Although, as we have stated previously, the writings of the
Church Fathers cannot be taken for scriptural doctrines, yet we may
glean from them items of historical note. For instance, we find in
their writings, addressed to the various assemblies, the title of
"The Church of God" as applying to the various bodies, showing that
the true name was still retained generally in the first centuries.
In the writings of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, in the second
century, he addresses the church of Smyrna thus: "The Churches of
God." On page 79, in the Epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians,
he says, "To the Church of God, which is at Philadelphia."
The churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia are spoken of by the
Apostle John in Revelation, Revelation 2:8, and chapter 3:7. The
church of Antioch is mentioned in Acts 11:26, and Ignatius on page
85, in his "Epistle to the Philadelphians," writes thus: "To the
church which is at Antioch . . . it will become you as a Church of
God to elect a deacon to act as the ambassador of God for you. We
see how, therefore, the New Testament name "Church of God," was
preserved and used to this time in speaking of the true followers
of Jesus Christ, even though the world characterized them by other
Chapter 6 - TWO HUNDRED TO THREE HUNDRED A.D.
The Remnant Church
In the preceding century we learned that the persecuted
Church, driven from Jerusalem, found refuge at Pella, and there
continued in the grace of God, upholding the beautiful truths God
had entrusted to her care, while she was known to the world as
Nazarenes, but claiming for herself the inspired Scriptural name,
"The Church of God."
About 130 A.D., the Church was again permitted to return to
Jerusalem, although some remained behind at Pella. For over a
hundred years they continued in peace, with the headquarters again
in the Holy City, as at the beginning. Later, however, trouble
arose, and as persecutions began to fall upon the holy men of God
at Jerusalem, they again fled, being scattered over the world. Some
fled in vain, being captured by their enemies; and lost their lives
for the gospel's sake. Smith says of the Church at this period:
"About one hundred and twenty years after the Church of God at
Pella was permitted to become again established at Jerusalem, under
the leadership of Mark, an imperial edict was issued from Decius,
the Roman emperor, and the Church was again exposed to great
calamities. The venerable bishops of Jerusalem and Antioch died in
prison, and many true followers were scourged to death, many
sacrificed to wild beasts, some burned, and others perished by the
sword. The Lord interfered, it seems, by sudden death coming upon
the emperor Decius, but Gallus his successor, continued in the path
of his predecessor. In two years, however, Gallus fell at the hand
of one of his own soldiers, thus the year 253 closed this brief but
terrible period of violence to the Church." -- Hugh Smith's
During the period of peace, when persecutions were at a low
ebb against the church, it seems that little progress was made by
the true saints in broadening the fields of labor, or strengthening
the resources that they already possessed. However, with the
renewed persecutions, evangelistic efforts were again energetically
pursued, and the gospel was carried into whatever new fields the
fleeing members of the church happened to find refuge. Wherever
they fled they carried with them the true doctrines, the true name,
and the commandments of God, as well as the faith of Jesus, which
were their heritage from the original Church of God at Jerusalem.
As in the old days, Jehovah worked with these humble and
earnest men of God, and confirmed the truths they proclaimed, with
signs and wonders following. Wharey says of God's vindicating
power, that it went with the saints through this century.
"From A.D. 251 to 300, miracles were still performed in the
church, Mosheim tells us, although less common than in previous
years, and the church, he says, never wielded a sharper weapon
against its enemies than the holy lives of its members." --
Wharey's History, p. 42.
The renewed zeal of the true followers of Christ, however, was
accompanied with an increase among the number of apostate
Christians, the multiplicity of sects, and the growth of false
doctrine, and the lowering of the true Christian standard. The
breach between the true Church of God and the sects was widening,
and the churches were taking form, which eventually materialized in
the Roman Catholic church, and the Greek Catholic church. Milner
speaks of this decadent condition in the following words:
At the beginning of the persecution under Decius, about 248
A.D., "Each was bent on improving his patrimony: forgetting what
believers had done under the apostles, and what they ought always
to do, they brooded over the arts of amassing wealth. The pastors
and deacons equally forgot their duty, works of mercy were
neglected, and discipline was at the lowest ebb. Usury and
effeminacy prevailed. Metricious arts in dress were cultivated.
Fraud and deceit were practiced among brethren. Christians could
unite themselves in matrimony with unbelievers, could swear, not
only without reverence, but without veracity; with haughty asperity
they despised their ecclesiastical superiors; could rail one
against another with outrageous acrimony, and conduct quarrels with
settled malice; even many bishops, who ought to be guides and
patterns to the rest, neglecting the peculiar duties of their
stations, gave themselves up to secular pursuits; deserting their
places of residence and their flocks, they traveled through distant
provinces in quest of gain, gave no assistance to the needy
brethren, were insatiable in their thirst of money, possessed
estates by fraud, and multiplied usury." -- Townsend's Abridgment,
p. 110, Ed. 1816.
Origin of Other Sects
One of the most celebrated sects was that founded by Manes,
who strategically conceived a plan to unite the Christians and
pagans by adopting a religious belief in common to both, with broad
compromises and concessions. It flourished for a time, but the
Persian Christians excommunicated him from the church, causing
The Manichaeans, founded by Manichaes, the inventor of other
superstitious but pleasing doctrines, attained considerable
The two sects founded by Noetus and Sabellius, toward the
close of this century, spread their respective doctrines in many
parts of the empire. The severe edicts of Valerian were directed
against these sects, and their writings, which were numerous, have
The Apostolic Canons and Constitutions, works which it has
been pretended were composed by the twelve apostles and jointly
with St. Paul, have been supposed by many writers to have been
fabricated in the third or fourth century, to establish several
points relative to discipline and doctrine in the Church of Rome.
Part of this work has been ascribed to Hippolitus, an Arabian
and published from Rome.
The holy Sabbath was still observed in the true church in this
century, and was generally retained by many of the sects which had
sprung up in this and the preceding centuries.
Novatian, who wrote about A.D. 250, prepared a treatise on the
Sabbath, which is not extant. There is no reference to Sunday in
any of his writings. He makes the following striking remarks
concerning the moral law: "The law was given to the children of
Israel for this purpose, that they might profit by it, and return
to those virtuous manners which, although they had received them
from their fathers, they had corrupted in Egypt, by reason of their
intercourse with a barbarous people. Finally, also, those ten
commandments on the tables teach nothing new, but remind them of
what had been obliterated -- that righteousness in them, which had
been put to sleep, might revive again, as it were, by the afflatus
of the law, after the manner of a fire (nearly extinguished)." --
Novatian on the Jewish Meats, chap. 3.
Hugh Smith says, "Some new doctrine concerning the state after
death appeared to have made considerable progress during the third
century. The undistinguished believer was consigned to purification
after this life before his participation of joys of heaven" (page
78). This doctrine propagated through the heathen philosophers
Plato and Socrates gained further accession and popularity. Lent
had been observed for a few days before Easter, but in the course
of the third century it was extended at Rome for three weeks, but
it did not stop here, before the middle of the succeeding age it
was lengthened to six weeks, and then to forty days." -- Hugh
Smith's History, p.82.
Chapter 7 - THREE HUNDRED TO FOUR HUNDRED A.D.
The church enjoyed freedom of worship for almost another
hundred years, but when Diocletian consulted with Gallienus Caesar,
after returning victorious from the Persian Wars, they formulated
plans for the extermination of Christians. The edict obtained
stated that churches, and all Christian writings, should be
destroyed, and all their rights and privileges annulled. Furious
persecutions raged. Some were broiled to death on gridirons after
being cruelly scourged, and their wounds washed in brine. Others
were thrown to wild beasts, and some starved to death. These
persecutions lasted approximately ten years. This is the period of
persecution prophesied by our Savior, in Revelation 2:9, 10, where
He said they would have tribulation ten days (ten years) and
admonished them to be faithful unto death and He would give them a
crown of life. This Smyrna period corresponds to the time of
Diocletian. A dreadful and loathsome disease fell upon the
emperor, causing him to cease his persecutions of Christians, about
the year 310, and the empire was abdicated.
At this time Constantine, the pagan emperor, came to the
throne, who from beholding, as he claimed, a luminous cross in the
sky, with the inscription, "By This Conquer," he embraced
Christianity, and was baptized by Eusebius. In 313 an edict was
issued from Milan favoring the church, and peace was enjoyed for
twenty-four years, until his death. During this time, at the
council of bishops and prelates, assembled at Nice, 321, among
other ecclesiastical laws, one was passed relative to the Sabbath,
stating that all townspeople should rest from their labors on the
venerable day of the sun. This was the first of a series of laws
passed wherein the bishops of the numerous cities and districts
tried to compromise with the pagan sun worshipers.
There were bishops presiding over each of the following
cities, having jurisdiction over the surrounding territory as well:
Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Corinth, Ethiopia, Damascus,
Sardis, Constantinople, Rome, Caesarea, Nicomedia, and Tyre. The
bishops were recognized as superior church prelates, and called
"papa," or "pope." This title was widely used in both the Eastern
and Western churches, being ascribed to all of the bishops, during
the third and fourth centuries. Many doctrinal divisions were
apparent among the bishops, and rivalry as to authority and power.
The bishop of Jerusalem was at first given the greatest honor and
respect, but later a strong rivalry arose between the pope at
Constantinople and the pope, or bishop, of Rome. Because of the
advantage given the Roman bishop, in being near the emperor of
Rome, and both together struggling for peace and power, they early
conceived of the advantage to both, in a united policy. The bishop
of Rome was soon placed at the head of the clerical order, as
superior bishop, and he maintained his claim of superiority by
immense splendor and magnificence. His authority had, however,
before the close of the fourth century, a formidable rival in the
bishop of Constantinople, who at a council in that city was
elevated to bishop of second clerical rank. The powers which had
been invested in the people of choosing their bishops became
productive of great scandal, which right was withdrawn at the
council of Nice 321. -- See Hugh Smith's Church History, p. 100.
All bishops were called "papa," or pope, which title was later
applied to the bishops of Constantinople, and Rome only, and much
later to the bishop of Rome alone.
For a long period the pope at Constantinople regulated the
affairs for the professed followers of Christ in the East, while
the pope or bishop of Rome ruled the West.
Dr. Arius, the most talented, intellectual, and spiritual
power of the fourth century was the central figure against which
the evil and polluted minds of western Roman bishops were directed.
He was indeed a man of God, in whom the truth found its most
consecrated and able defender. Like the Apostle Paul, he traversed
the then known world, propagating truth, and denouncing error. He
was a staunch observer of the seventh day Sabbath; he held the
Lord's Supper once a year on the 14th of Abib, as did all the
Jewish Christians, and most of the members and bishops of the
Eastern churches. He believed in the one God, and Jesus Christ, His
only begotten Son, and contended that the Holy Spirit was a power
sent forth from God, entering into hearts and lives of Christians,
transforming them into servants of God, of which he himself was a
In the year 325 A.D., the first general church council was
called by Constantine to convene at Nice in which 318 bishops are
said to have participated. At this council the doctrine of Arius
was discussed and settled, resulting in the banishment of the old
man, and of Eusebius of Nicomedia. Dr. Arius sponsored the truth of
the sonship of Jesus, claiming that he was truly the son of God,
begotten by the Holy Spirit, and was not God Himself, in the sense
as taught by the western bishops. This contention finally resulted
a hundred years later in the three Arian Kingdoms, the Burgundians,
Vandals, and Ostrogoths, being plucked up, as set forth in the
prophecy of Daniel 7:8, 25.
At this council, the Passover was placed on the Sunday after
the Jewish passover, which fell on the Fourteenth of Nisan, or
Abib. This made Easter a fixed festival, instead of falling on any
day of the week, according to the day of the fourteenth of this
month. The Eastern churches to this time had celebrated the
passover once a year on the fourteenth of Abib. -- From Eusebius,
also Encyclopadia Britannica, and Mosheim's History of the Church.
It was also at this council where the first edict was made in
favor of the "Venerable day of the sun," being observed as a day of
rest. Up to this time Jewish and Gentile Christians observed the
Sabbath according to the commandment, with the exceptions of a
number of bishops in the west, in the sphere of the Roman church,
who observed both days.
Wharey says, "A dispute arose at an early period between the
Eastern and Western (Roman) churches about the time of celebrating
Easter. The Asiatic churches kept it on the same day that the Jews
kept their Passover which was the fourteenth day of the full moon,
of the first Jewish month, which might fall on any day of the week.
The Latin (Western, or Roman) churches kept Easter always on that
Sunday which was the first after that same fourteenth day of the
first new moon of the new year. The Jews began their ecclesiastical
year with the new moon of March. This difference in the time of
holding Easter was the cause of much contention between the East
and West until it was finally settled by the council of Nice in
favor of the Latin mode, A.D. 325." -- Wharey's Church History, p.
37. Published by the Presbyterian Board of Publications.
Brother Arius, with a large company of other bishops, was
banished upon islands of the sea, following this council, and his
writings wherever found consigned to the flames. This was the first
victory over the truth by civil legislation. While the three
hundred and eighteen bishops attending this conference were
representatives of churches, still Constantine the emperor of Rome
presided over the meeting, and the decisions made by these church
bishops were endorsed and given sanction by civil law, and backed
by military power.
The Christian churches, which were flourishing in worldly
wealth, were those mainly represented at this council, the humble
companies of the poor, not being financially able to travel
hundreds and even thousands of miles, were thus prevented from
being there. The humble devoted Christians will always be found in
larger numbers among the poor than the rich, consequently the voice
of the council of Nice was the voice of the churches clothed in
wealth and splendor, catering to the popular trend of the time.
"It has been already stated how, following the council of Nice
321 A.D., that Dr. Arius was banished, and his writings committed
to the flames. A company of bishops who secretly favored Dr. Arius
were discovered and banished into Gaul. One of the followers of
Brother Arius, who, by the dying words of his Sister Constantina,
had been recommended to the emperor of Rome, had the address to
persuade him that the sentence of Dr. Arius was unjust. The emperor
consequently recalled him, and endeavored to have him received into
the church at Alexandria, but the bishop refused his admittance,
but Arius and his adherents were received into the communion of the
church at Jerusalem." -- Hugh Smith's History, p. 114.
After Dr. Arius had been released from banishment, and
received into membership in the church at Jerusalem, he passed
away, but "his works followed him." Like the ministry of Paul, the
seeds of truth that he had both sown and watered were growing,
flourishing, and bearing an abundant harvest of fruit. His
banishment and death by no means checked the spread of the truth,
but rather scattered it abroad, and inflamed hearts with renewed
zeal. The church, called by the world Nazarenes, Waldenses,
Puritans, Arians, etc., was shining brightly in many darkened
places of Europe, causing the enactment of civil laws, and the
waging of bitter persecution against them.
The harvest resulting from the seed sowing of Dr. Arius had
brought into existence three nations known as the "Arian Kingdoms,"
viz., the Burgundians, the Vandals and Ostrogoths. The pope was
raised to spiritual power over the Roman state, and by the consent
and agreement of Emperor Justinian of Rome, church and state were
united in the year 538 A.D. War against these powerful adherents of
Dr. Arius, known as the Arian Kingdoms, resulted in their
overthrow. Three crowns thus fell, and three kings were plucked up
by the roots, in fulfillment of Dan.7:8- 25. The last one of these
three, viz., the Ostrogoth kingdom, fell in the year 538. Thus we
have the final overthrow of the true church, and the woman driven
into the wilderness. When the 1260 days (or years) prophetically
announced for her sojourn there are completed, reaching to 1798, we
find her at that date coming forth again, and given religious
liberty to proclaim the truth, which for so many centuries had been
trampled under the feet of tyrants, who themselves had become drunk
of the wine of Babylon, from the golden cup of the mother of
harlots. -- Revelation 17.
"It is a remarkable fact that the first instance upon record
which the bishop of Rome attempted to rule the Christian church was
by an edict in behalf of Sunday. It had been the custom of all the
churches to celebrate the Passover, but with this difference; that
while the Eastern churches observed it upon the fourteenth day of
the first month, no matter what day of the week this might be, the
Western churches kept it upon the Sunday following that day, or
rather, upon the Sunday following Good Friday. Victor, bishop of
Rome, in the year 196 (Bower's History of the Popes, vol. 1, pp.
18, 19; Rose's Neander, pp. 188-190; Dowling's History of Romanism,
book 1, chap. 2, sec. 9), took upon him to impose the Roman custom
upon all the churches; that is, to compel them to observe the
Passover upon Sunday." "This bold attempt," says Bower, "we may
call the first essay of papal usurpation" (History of the Popes,
vol. 1, p. 18). Dowling terms it the "earliest instance of Romish
assumption" (History of Romanism, heading of page 32). The churches
of Asia Minor informed Victor that they could not comply with his
lordly mandate. Then, says Bower:
"Upon the receipt of this letter, Victor, giving the reins to
an ungovernable passion, published bitter invectives against all
the churches of Asia, declared them cut off from his communion,
sent letters of excommunication to their respective bishops; and,
at the same time, in order to have them cut off from the communion
of the whole church, wrote to the other bishops, exhorting them to
follow his example, and forbear communicating with their refractory
brethren of Asia." -- History of the Popes, vol. 1, p. 18.
The victory was not obtained for Sunday in the struggle, as
"Till the great council of Nicaea (A.D. 321) backed by the
authority of as great an emperor (Constantine), settled it better
than before; none but some scattered schismatics, now and then
appearing, durst oppose the resolution of that famous synod." --
History of the Sabbath, part 2, chap. 2, secs. 4, 5.
Constantine, by whose powerful influence the council of Nicaea
was induced to decide this question in favor of the Roman bishop,
that is, to fix the Passover upon Sunday, urged the following
strong reason for the measure:
"Let us, then, have nothing in common with the most hostile
rabble of the Jews." -- Boyle's Historical View of the Council of
Nice, p. 52, ed. 1842.
"The retention of the old Pagan name of `Dies solis,' or
Sunday, for the weekly Christian festival, is in great measure
owing to the union of pagan and Christian sentiment, with which the
first day of the week was recommended by Constantine to his
subjects, pagan and Christian alike, as the `venerable day of the
sun.' His decree regulating its observance has been justly called
a new era in the history of the Lord's Day. It was his mode of
harmonizing the discordant religions of the empire under the common
institution." -- Dean Stanley, Eastern Church, p. 193.
"The first day of the week was proclaimed as a day of rest and
worship, and its observance soon became general throughout the
empire. In 321 A.D. Constantine forbade the courts to be held on
Sunday, except for the purpose of giving freedom to slaves; and on
that day soldiers were commanded to omit their daily military
exercises. But the public games were continued on Sunday, tending
to make it more a holiday than a holy day." -- Hurlbut's Story of
the Christian Church, p. 77.
"As a protest against Jewish observance of the seventh day,
the practice of fasting, on Saturday arose in the West, but never
in the East. Later the Roman Catholic fast-day was changed to
Friday." -- Idem, p. 127.
"Originally, labor did not cease on the first day of the week;
but seems to have been gradually discontinued as circumstances
permitted. At what time cessation from it became general, if it
became so before the time of Constantine, when it was enjoined by
law, except in agricultural districts, where sowing and reaping,
and tending the vine, were allowed, it is impossible to ascertain."
-- Footnote, page 379, Church of the First Three Centuries, Lamson,
Among the festivals, considered simply as voluntary memorials
of the Redeemer, Sunday had very little preeminence; for it is well
stated by Heylyn:
"Take which you will, either the fathers or the moderns, and
we shall find no Lord's day instituted by any apostolic mandate; no
Sabbath set on foot by them upon the first day of the week." --
History of the Sabbath, part 2, chap. 1, sec. 10.
A Catholic claim follows: "It was the Roman Catholic church
that changed the Sabbath from Saturday, the seventh day of the
week, to Sunday, the first day, and at the council of Laodicea, we
anathematized those who kept the Sabbath, and urged all persons to
labor on the seventh day of the week under penalty of anathema," --
Father Enright, Catholic Priest, deceased, Kansas City, Missouri
from a lecture at Harlan, Iowa, published in the Harlan Weekly
From "Faith of Our Fathers," by Cardinal Gibbons, page 89,
edition of 1917, we glean the following illuminating information,
as to Rome's attitude toward the Holy Scriptures:
"A rule of faith, or a competent guide to heaven, must be able
to instruct all the truths necessary for salvation. Now the
Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths which a Christian is
bound to believe, nor do they explicitly enjoin all the duties
which he is obliged to practice. Not to mention other examples, is
not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday and to abstain on
that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of
this law among the most promising of our sacred duties? But you may
read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a
single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The
Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day
which we never sanctify."
William James, in his "Sermons on the Sacraments and Sabbath,"
pp. 122, 123, says, "When the practice of keeping Saturday
Sabbaths, which had become so general at the close of this century
(the fourth), was evidently gaining ground in the Eastern church,
a decree was passed in the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 364), `That
members of the church should not rest from work on the Sabbath like
In the history of the first century by Eusebius, he says on
page 243, "The Sabbath was not dropped by the church at Laodicea
until the year 363." On page 188, he says, "The Jewish Christians
also observed the Sabbath."
"At the council of Laodicea, held the year 364, where several
hundred bishops gathered, a law was passed prohibiting Christians
to Judaize, i. e., to rest from their work on Saturday, as do the
Jews. This law was thought by the bishops necessary because of the
rapid gain throughout the Eastern church of Saturday observance."
-- William James, On Sacraments and Sabbath, pp. 122, 123.
By Judaism, Neander meant the observance of the seventh day as
the Sabbath. Dr. Charles Hase, of Germany, states the object of
the Roman church in very explicit language:
"The Roman church regarded Saturday as a fast day in direct
opposition to those who regarded it as a Sabbath. Sunday remained
a joyful festival in which all fasting and worldly business was
avoided as much as possible, but the original commandment of the
decalogue respecting the Sabbath was not then applied to that day."
-- Ancient Church History, part 1, div. 2, A.D. 100-312, sec. 69.
Concerning Christianity established by law under Constantine:
"Now they began to new model the Christian church, the government
of which was, as far as possible, arranged conformable to the
government of the state."
The working of the mystery of iniquity in the first centuries
of the Christian church is thus described by recent writers:
"About the year 379 the apostate church began to seek
Scriptures to teach the erroneous doctrine of the deity of the Holy
Ghost" -- Townsend's Abridgment, p. 203.
Hurlbut says, "It was two generations after Constantine when
images began to appear in the churches; the early Christians having
a horror of all that might lead to idolatry." -- Story of the
Christian Church, p. 75.
Under Constantine, "This constitution of things was an entire
departure from the order of worship established, under divine
direction, by the apostles of Christ in the primitive churches. In
fact, scarcely any two things could be more dissimilar than was the
simplicity of the gospel dispensation from the hierarchy
established under Constantine the Great. `Let none say,' says Dr.
Mosheim, alluding to the first and second centuries, `confound the
bishops of this primitive and golden period of the church, with
those of whom we read in the following ages. For though they were
both designated by the same name, yet they differed extremely in
many respects. A bishop, during the first and second centuries, was
a person who had the care of the Christian assembly, which, at that
time, was, generally speaking, small enough to be contained in a
private house. In this assembly, he acted, not so much with the
authority of a master, as with the zeal and diligence of a,
faithful servant." Jones' Church History, p. 131.
The bishop of Rome claiming more honor and dignity than other
bishops, because of his close association with the Roman emperors,
living as he did in the same city, his decisions on doctrine were
favorably received because of his distinguished position, and that
his influence became felt and his decrees esteemed. Thus the Roman
church became strong and popular, and the name "catholic," or
universal, applied to it.
There were the Macedonians of the fourth century, known also
as semi-Arians, being the strongest sect among them, and who
finally signed the Nicean Creed.
In the fourth century there was also a distinguished man by
the name of Priscillian, who founded a sect known as the
Priscillianists, who differed in some respects from the bishop of
Practically all of the above sects, signed the "Nicean Creed,"
following the council of Nice 321 A.D., and gradually became lost,
as they were submerged into the Roman Catholic church, which so
rapidly gained the ascendancy at Rome, with the assistance of civil
As Doctor Arius was the leader in defense of the true faith at
this council, we herewith enter some historical extracts, further
showing the conditions as they were, in this period.
"It is happy for simply Christians that their rule of duty is
plain, though, unfortunately, not sanctioned by either the catholic
or the reformed church. It is `Not to admit into worship of God
anything which is either not expressly commanded, or plainly
exemplified, in the New Testament.' This was evidently the
principle upon which Arius proceeded in opposing the superstitions
of his time, and for which he deserves to be held in perpetual
remembrance. It is the only principle which evinces a becoming
deference to the wisdom and authority of God in the institution of
his worship; and, it may be added, which secures uniform regard of
his people to the institutions of his kingdom to the end of time."
-- Idem, p.154.
"From the time of the establishment of Christianity under
Constantine, to the end of the fourth century, a period of more
than seventy years, the disciples of Jesus were highly privileged.
They were in general permitted to sit under their own vine and fig
tree, exempt from the dread of molestation. The clergy of the
Catholic church, indeed, persisted in waging a sanguinary and
disgraceful contest with each other about church preferments, and
similar objects of human ambition; but, notwithstanding the
squabbles of those men of corrupt minds, it must have been a season
of precious repose and tranquillity to the real churches of Christ,
which stood aloof from such scandalous proceedings, and kept their
garments unspotted from the world." -- Idem, p. 162.
Julian the Apostate
"In 361 Julian the apostate obtained possession of the whole
Roman empire. He was educated in the Christian religion, but turned
away and made every attempt possible to deprive the clergy of their
privileges, and discredit the claims of the church for the divinity
of the Holy Scriptures.
"He showed much partiality to the Jews and granted them the
privilege of rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem, in order to
contradict and falsify the predictions of the Scripture. This the
Jews attempted, but were obliged to desist before even the
foundation was laid: for balls of fire issued from the ground,
accompanied with a great explosion and tremendous earthquake, which
disbursed both the materials that were collected and the workmen."
-- Wharey's Church History, p. 53.
The True Church
"The type of Christianity which first was favored, then raised
to leadership by Constantine was that of the Roman Papacy. But this
was not the type of Christianity that first penetrated Syria,
northern Italy, southern France, and Great Britain. The ancient
records of the first believers in Christ in those parts, disclose
a Christianity which is not Roman but apostolic. These lands were
first penetrated by missionaries, not from Rome, but from Palestine
and Asia Minor. And the Greek New Testament, the Received Text,
they brought with them, or its translation, was of the type from
which the Protestant Bibles, as the King James in the English, and
the Lutheran in German, were translated." -- Dr. T. V. Moore, The
Culdee Church, chapters 3 and 4, and Wilkinson, Our Authorized
Bible Vindicated, pp. 25, 26.
In the midst of all the turmoil and the wrangling caused by
ambitious bishops, each trying to gain the ascendancy over the
others, there dwelt a people untouched by the worldliness of the
apostate church, this was the true Church of God, known, it is
true, by various man-made names, but among themselves holding to
the true name, and the pure unadulterated doctrines advocated by
the disciples of the first century.
President Edwards says of this people, later called Waldenses,
"Some of the popish writers themselves own that this people
never submitted to the church of Rome. One of the popish writers,
speaking of the Waldenses, says, `The heresy of the Waldenses is
the oldest heresy in the world. It is supposed that they first
betook themselves to this place among the mountains, where they
existed before Constantine the Great, and thus the woman fled into
the wilderness, from the face of the serpent (Revelation 12:6, 14).
`And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she
might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is
nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of
the serpent.' The people being settled there, their posterity
continued (there) from age to age; and being, as it were, by
natural walls, as well as by God's grace, separated from the rest
of the world, they never partook of the overflowing corruption.'"
-- Edward's History of Redemption, period 3, part 4, sec. 2.
The following historical sketch tells of a body of believers
who fled out of Judaea late in the fourth century, and who by their
faith were evidently the Church of God.
The Bishop of Ely names these also as a body of
Sabbath-keepers whose heresy was condemned by the church. Joseph
Bingham, M.A., gives the following account of them:
"There was another sect, . . . `Hypsistarians,' that is,
worshipers of the most high God, whom they worshiped as the Jews
only in one person. And they observed their Sabbaths, and used
distinction of their meats, clean and unclean, though they did not
regard circumcision, as Gregory Nazianzen whose father was one of
this sect, gives the account of them." -- Antiquities of the
Christian Church, book 16, chap. 6, sec. 2.
It is not strange that the church which fled out of Judaea at
the word of Christ should long retain the Sabbath, as it appears
that they did, even as late as the fourth century. Morer mentions
these Sabbath-keepers in the following language: "About the same
time were the Hypsistarii, who closed with these as to what
concerned the Sabbath, yet would by no means accept circumcision as
too plain a testimony of ancient bondage. All these were heretics,
and so adjudged to by the Catholic church. Yet their [sincerity]
and industry were such as gained them a considerable footing in the
Christian world." -- Dialogues on the Lord's Day, p. 67.
"Gradually the first day of the week came into prominence as
an added day, but finally by civil and ecclesiastical authority as
a required observance. The first legislation on the subject was the
famous law of Constantine, enacted 321 A.D. The acts of various
councils during the fourth and fifth centuries established the
observance of the first day of the week by ecclesiastical [Roman
Catholic] authority, and in the great apostasy which followed, the
rival day [Sunday] observed the ascendancy. During the centuries
which followed, however, there were always witnesses for the true
Sabbath, although under great persecution. And thus in various
lands, the knowledge of the true Sabbath has been preserved." --
Wharey's Church History, p. 37, Presbyterian.
Chapter 8 - FOUR HUNDRED TO FIVE HUNDRED A.D.
From Bishop to Pope
"In the beginning of the fifth century, Vigilantius, a learned
and eminent presbyter of a Christian church, took up his pen to
oppose the growing superstitions. His book, which unfortunately is
now lost, was directed against the institution of monks, the
celibacy of the clergy, praying for the dead, and the martyrs,
adoring their relics, celebrating their vigils, and lighting up
candles to them after the manner of the pagans. Jerome, esteemed
as a great luminary of the Catholic church, who was a most zealous
advocate for all the superstitious rites, undertook the task of
refuting Vigilantius, whom he politely styles `a blasphemous
heretic,' comparing him to Hydra, to Cerberus, the Centaurs, and
considers him only as the organ of the demon. He, however,
furnishes us with all the particular articles of heresy, in the
words of Vigilantius himself, which are as follows:
"'The honors paid to the rotten bones and dust of the saints
and martyrs, by adoring, kissing, wrapping them up in silk and
vessels of gold, lodging them in their churches, and lighting up
wax candles before them, after the manner of the heathens, were the
ensigns of idolatry. That the celibacy of the clergy was a heresy,
and their vows of chastity the seminary of lewdness. That to pray
for the dead, or to desire the prayers of the dead, was
superstitious; for that the souls of the departed saints and
martyrs were at rest in some particular place, whence they could
not remove themselves at pleasure, so as to be present everywhere
to the prayers of their votaries. That the sepulchers of the
martyrs ought not to be worshiped nor their fasts and vigils to be
observed; and lastly, that the signs and wonders said to be wrought
by their relics and at their sepulchers, served to no good end or
purpose of religion." -- Jones' Church History, p.169.
In Asia and Europe there were considerably over one hundred
bishops presiding over as many cities and districts, each one being
subject to the presiding bishop over the respective district either
eastern or western, according to their situation, Constantinople in
the East, and Rome for the West. Besides the rivalry and clamor
for power in religious controversy between these two popes, or
bishops, many of the lesser dignitaries also assumed powers over
others, and many queer and unscriptural doctrines arose, thus
hastening the falling away.
Soon after Constantine, emperor of the Roman empire, had
embraced Christianity, the bishop of Rome, being located near the
throne of the emperor, naturally was received into favor as the
presiding prelate over other bishops. The bishop of Rome was soon
placed at the head of the clerical order, as superior bishop, and
he maintained his claim of superiority by immense splendor and
magnificence. His authority had, before the close of the fourth
century, a formidable rival in the bishop of Constantinople, who at
a council in that city was elevated to bishop of second clerical
There were several sects in the fourth century outside of the
Roman church. Orchard says, "It must not be forgotten that there
were churches more or less extensive throughout Africa, besides the
Donatists, and known as Manicheans, Montanists, Novationists, and
others, whose morals were far more excellent than even St.
Augustine's (of the Roman church), but all these were heretics in
his view, and objects of his most virulent animosity."-- Baptist
History, p. 97.
This author continues, "The innumerable Christians of the
East, who were not in communion with either the Greek or the Roman
churches, may be divided into two classes. The first consists of
such as in ages past dissented from the Greek church, and formed
similar hierarchies, which yet subsist independent of one another,
as well as of the Grecian and Roman communities. The second class
consists of those who never were of any hierarchy, and who have
always retained their original freedom. The number of such
orientals is very great, for they lived dispersed all over Syria,
Arabia, Egypt, Persia, Nubia, Ethiopia, India, Tartary, and other
eastern countries. `It is remarkable,' says Robinson, `that
although they differ, as Europeans do, on speculative points of
divinity, yet they all administered baptism by immersion, and there
is no instance to the contrary.'" -- Idem, p. 112.
"The Messalians or Euchites (the one a Hebrew term, the other
a Greek, and signifying a praying people) had in Greece a very
early existence . . . These people, like all other nonconformists,
are reproached and branded with heresy. . . . The morality of this
people was severe and captivating to the simple, but their
discipline and worship are both reproached. . . . They were often
named from the country they inhabited. . . . Some were called after
the names of their teachers. . . . The term Euchites among the
Greeks was a general name for Dissenters, as the Waldensees was in
the Latin church, and Nonconformists in England. This large body
of Dissenters were resident in the empire from the first
establishment of Christianity, till its destruction in the
thirteenth century." -- Idem, p. 113.
Among these Dissenters, under various man-called names, was
the Church of God, still upholding the true faith, still observing
the Sabbath, with the Law of God, as well as the Faith of Jesus,
Of the Sabbath and first-day in this century of the church,
"The last day of the week was strictly kept in connection with
that of the first day for a long time after the overthrow of the
temple and its worship. Down even to the fifth century the
observance of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian
church, but with a rigor and solemnity gradually diminishing." --
Ancient Christianity Exemplified, chap. 26, sec. 2.
This, of course, applied to the sects, and the Roman church
especially; but, as further proof will show, the true church, did
not forsake the Sabbath, nor observe it with a lessened ardor.
Coleman continues: "During the early ages of the church, it
(the first day) was never entitled `the Sabbath,' this word being
confined to the seventh day of the week, the Jewish Sabbath, which,
as we have already said, continued to be observed for several
centuries by the converts to Christianity." -- Idem, chap. 26, sec.
This fact is made still clearer by the following language, in
which this historian admits Sunday to be nothing but a human
"No law or precept appears to have been given by Christ or the
institution of the Lord's day [by which Coleman refers to Sunday in
error], or the substitution of the first for the seventh day of the
week." -- Idem.
"The observance of the Lord's day was ordered while yet the
Sabbath of the Jews was continued; nor was the latter superseded
until the former had acquired the same solemnity and importance
which belonged, at first, to that great day which God originally
ordained and blessed. . . . But in time, after the Lord's day was
fully established [in the Roman Catholic church], the observance of
the Sabbath of the Jews was gradually discontinued, and was finally
denounced as heretical [by the popish church]." -- Idem.
Chapter 9 - FIVE HUNDRED TO SIX HUNDRED A.D.
The Flight of the True Church to the Wilderness
It was between 500 and 600 A.D. that the Church of God was
sorely oppressed by the state religion clothed with civil power,
and completely overpowered, and scattered to the valleys of the
mountains in all parts of the world. We shall now insert a few
facts from reliable historians to show how the true followers of
Jesus were indeed driven into the wilderness, where they took
refuge in the rocks, and dens, and caves of the earth, yet they
rejoiced in persecution, and lived in humble obedience to the will
of God, being fed by Him from His word.
The historian Jones gives an account of the flight of the
persecuted saints from the oppression of the harlot church seated
upon the Roman beast. His account follows:
"Multitudes however, fled like innocent and defenseless sheep
from these devouring wolves. They crossed the Alps, and traveled
in every direction, as Providence and the prospect of safety
conducted them, into Germany, England, France, Italy, and other
countries. There they trimmed their lamps, and shone with new
luster. Their worth everywhere drew attention, and their doctrine
formed increasing circles around them. The storm which threatened
their destruction only scattered them as the precious seeds of the
glorious reformation of the Christian Church." -- Jones' Church
History, p. 208, ed. 1837.
Valley Dwellers -- Vaudois
The fleeing Christians who escaped from the wrath of the Roman
church and state, found a haven in the mountains and valleys of the
north of Italy, and the south of France, in main, although they
fled into all nations wherein they could find an entrance and
protection from the persecutions of the papacy. Though these
Christians were known by many names for various reasons in their
new homes, yet the predominating name for them seems to have been
"Vaudois," which means "Valley Dwellers." From the fact they dwelt
in the valleys of the mountains they received the name "Valley
Dwellers," or, in the native tongue, "Vaudois."
The Vaudois, known as such by the world, but holding to the
true Bible name, were persecuted for the true faith. They observed
the seventh day of the week, according to the commandment, immersed
for believers baptism, and kept the Passover, or the Lord's Supper,
once a year, in the first month. -- See pages 348, 349,
Persecutions and Atrocities on the Vaudois.
Gilly says of these ancient "Valley Dwellers," who had fled
from the wrath of the papal church in its early centuries, and were
still found abiding under the protection of the Almighty in the
Waldensian wilderness in the thirteenth century:
"They occupy a mountain district . . . and yet from this
secluded spot, have they disseminated doctrines, whose influence is
felt over the most refined and civilized part of Europe. They . .
simple virtues, and retain the same religion, which was known to
exist there more than a thousand years ago. They profess to
constitute the remains of the pure and primitive Christian church,
and those who would question their claims cannot show either by
history or tradition that they were subscribed to the popish
rituals, or bowed down before any of the idols of the Roman church.
moral, and religious phenomenon, which the Vaudois have continued
to display for so many centuries, than by ascribing it to the
manifest interposition of Providence, which has chosen in them the
weak things of this world to confound the things that are mighty.'"
-- Gilly, Excursions to Piedmont, pp. 259.
From the above testimony we gather that the Vaudois had
inhabited these same valleys for over one thousand years, and that
they made the claim, which could not be disputed, that they were
the remains, the remnant, of the true Church of God, who had fled
into the wilderness. It should be noted also that no history can
show these saints of God to ever have been within the fold of the
Catholic Church, but had remained separate, letting their light
shine, through the darkest hours of the Dark Ages.
Chapter 10 - SIX HUNDRED TO SEVEN HUNDRED A.D.
The Church of God Scattered Abroad
We shall now trace the general dispersion of the Church of God
as she was scattered throughout the various countries of Europe and
Asia, during the 1260 years of her wilderness experience. We find
the identification of the true church, both by the name and
doctrine, scattered from Palestine to Spain, and from the Piedmont
valley of Italy to Scotland, Ireland and England.
As has already been shown that the people honoring the true
faith, and bearing the Scriptural name, were called by the world,
Waldenses, Vaudois, Henricians, Catharists, Puritans, Bougres,
Paulicans, Publicans, Lombardists, Albigenses, and also other names
from leading preachers among them, and from countries from which
they would be expelled; but they disowned these names, calling
themselves the Church of God.
The following extracts from numerous writers will further the
facts that this work has set out to show, viz., that the true
church, with the true name, and doctrine has been preserved by the
power of heaven, and fed by our Lord in the wilderness as He said,
for the prophetic period of 1260 years, given in Revelation 12 to
"Indeed, from the borders of Spain, throughout the greatest
part of the south of France, among and below the Alps, along the
Rhine, and even to Bohemia, thousands of the disciples of Christ,
as will hereafter be shown, were found, even in the very worst of
times, preserving the faith in its purity, adhering to the
simplicity of Christian worship, patiently bearing the cross after
Christ, men distinguished by their fear of God and obedience to His
will, and persecuted only for righteousness' sake," -- Jones'
Church History, p. 187.
In Hugh Smith's history of the seventh century, we find the
statement on page 191, as follows: "Missionaries from Britain,
Scotland, and Ireland traveled into Germany with the design of
propagating or preserving Christianity."
This historian further says, on page 201, "The year 692
Justinian II, called the sixth general council to convene at
Constantinople, as an imperial order from Rome." He says, "This
council among various regulations of discipline was so favorable to
the marriages of the clergy as to decree that the separation of
those of clerical order, who were already married, from their wives
was contrary to the command of Christ. It condemned the
We note that in this century there were so many Christians
observing Saturday Sabbath that this council also found it
necessary to legislate against it.
The true Church of God is further identified at this time by
the following: "The Paulicians were undoubtedly the most numerous
sect of this century (600 to 700 A.D.). According to the opinion
of some celebrated writers this sect was thus named from their
attachments of its professors to the Apostle Paul. The names of
the apostolic churches were applied to their congregations. The
teachers were distinguished by their Scriptural names, by their
zeal and knowledge, and by the austerity and simplicity of their
lives. They were, however, soon involved in the horrors of
persecution. Under the reign of Theodore, one hundred thousand
were extirpated." -- Hugh Smith's Church History, pp. 216, 207.
He says further that they "spread westward, and disseminated
a secret through powerful discontent among the pious against the
church of Rome, and settled in Bulgaria, Italy, and in the southern
provinces of France among the Albigeois." These Christians were
called after their settlements. These names by which they are
commonly known, however, are only terms applied to them by the
world, for the Albigenses were the same sect as the Waldenses, who
were known among themselves by the Bible name, the "Church of God."
In the seventh century the true Christians were compelled to
continue their flight from country to country, fleeing from before
the persecutions of the rising papal power.
In the end of the preceding century, Pope Gregory had operated
upon society to the detriment of the true people of God. This pope
wrote to two African bishops, requiring them to exert themselves in
every possible way to suppress their opponents, who dared to differ
with them. In the beginning of the seventh century, it is
presumed, these people "of whom the world was not worthy,"
emigrated into Spain and Italy, from the Asiatic countries, and
mingled with the pagans in the interior, and worshiped the Redeemer
as opportunities afforded. "From their conduct in assembling in
caves and dens of mountains to worship, they obtained the name
Montenses, i.e., mountaineers." -- Orchard, History of the
Baptists, pp. 101, 102.
"The Nonconformists continued to be dispersed all over the
empire, and had trusted to Providence for liberty to worship.
Their history is large, and has proved difficult to many. Their
clergy were always troublesome, but never attempted their
conversion. Some emperors had been indifferent to them, others had
cherished them, others had persecuted them." -- Idem, p. 126.
"We have authentic evidence in the writings of the Apostle
Paul that he preached the gospel of Christ in Illyricum, and that
Titus visited Dalmatia; hence the Bohemians infer that the gospel
was preached in all the countries of Sclavonia in the first ages of
Christianity. They say also that Jerome, who was a native of
Stridon, a city of Dalmatia, translated the Scriptures into his
native tongue (about 378), and that all the nations of Sclavonian
extraction, the Poles, the Hungarians, the Russians, the
Wallachians, the Bohemians, and the Vaudois, use this translation
to this day." -- Idem, p. 230.
"Their enemies confirm their great antiquity. Reinerius
Saccho, an inquisitor, and one of their most implacable enemies,
who lived only eighty years after Waldo, admits that the Waldenses
flourished five hundred years before that preacher (600 A.D.),
Gretzer, the Jesuit, who also wrote against the Waldenses, and had
examined the subject fully, not only admits their great antiquity,
but declares his firm belief that the Toulousians and Albigenses .
discipline, government, manners, and even the errors with which
they have been charged [by the Catholics], show that the Albigenses
and Waldenses were distinct branches of the same sect, or that the
former sprang from the latter." -- Dr. Rankin's History of France,
vol. III, p. 198, 202; Jones' Church History, p. 233.
"The soil, touched by the plow of the Vaudois (Waldenses),
seemed to feel a charm that made it open its bosom and yield a
tenfold increase. The vine tended by Vaudois hands bore richer
clusters, and strove in generous rivalry with the fig and the olive
to outdo them in enriching with its produce the Vaudois board. And
how delightful the quiet and order of their towns, and the air of
happiness on the face of the people! And how sweet to listen to
the bleating of the flocks on the hills, the lowing of the herds in
the meadows, the song of the reaper and grape gatherer, and the
merry voices of children at play around the hamlets and villages."
-- Wylie, History of the Waldenses, p. 106.
In a confession of their faith, one of the members of the
Waldenses stated their faith, "declaring that they proffered the
doctrine contained in the Old and New Testaments and comprehended
in the Apostles' Creed, and admitted the sacraments instituted by
Christ, and the ten commandments, etc. . . . They said they had
received this doctrine from their ancestors, and that if they were
in any error they were ready to receive instruction from the word
of God. . . ." -- Jones' Church History, p. 355, ed. 1837.
Theodore Beza, contemporary and colleague of Calvin, says, "As
for the Waldenses, I may be permitted to call them the very seed of
the primitive and purer Christian church." . . . "And as for their
religion, they never adhered to papal superstitions. . . ." --
Idem, pp. 263, 264.
Reimer says, "The Waldenses were very ancient and date their
belief and practice from 300 A.D., more ancient are they than Peter
Waldo, the rich merchant of Lyons." -- Sismondi, History of the
Crusades against Albigenses, London.
"In Languedoc, the Catholics affirmed that the origin of these
heretics was recent and that they derived their name from Vaudois,
or Waldenses, from Peter Waldo, one of their barbes, or preachers,
whose immediate followers were called Waldenses. But this was
rather the renovation of the name from a particular cause than its
original. Accordingly it extended over that district only in
France where Peter Waldo preached; for in other districts the
people were branches of the same original sect, as in Dauphine,
were from a noted preacher, called Josephists; in Languedoc they
were called Henricians; and in other provinces, from Peter Bruys,
were called Petrobrusians. Sometimes they received their name from
their manners, as "Catharists" (Puritans), and, from the foreign
country from whence it was presumed they had been expelled, they
were called "Bulgarians," or Bougres. In Italy they were commonly
called Fratricelle, that is, "man of the brotherhood," because they
cultivated brotherly love among themselves, acknow-
ledging one another as brethren in Christ. Sometimes they were
denominated "Paulicians," and, by corruption of the word,
"Paulicans," considering them as sprung from that ancient sect,
which, in the seventh century, spread over Armenia and Thrace, and
which, when persecuted by the Greek emperor, migrated into Europe,
and mingled with the Waldenses in Piedmont. Sometimes they were
named from the country or city in which they prevailed, as
Lombardists, Toulousians, and Albigenses. These branches, however,
sprang from one common stock, and were animated by the same
religious and moral principles." -- Jones' Church History, p. 238.
Chapter 11 - SEVEN HUNDRED TO EIGHT HUNDRED A. D.
A True Light Amidst Gross Darkness
Although it is commonly believed that the Roman Catholic
church held complete sway over the world through the dark ages, yet
it is a fact that never in any century did the apostate church hold
sway over the actions and consciences of all believers, but that
there were always men and women of the true faith, a remnant
indeed, but a remnant, who never acknowledged the popish religion.
Milner says: "The despotism of Antichrist was then [786 A.D.]
so far from being universal, that it was not owned throughout Italy
itself. In some parts of that country, as well as in England and
France, the purity of Christian worship was still maintained." --
Townsend's Abridgment, p. 361.
Sacho admits that the Waldenses flourished at least five
hundred years before the time of Peter Waldo.
"The messengers of God who carried the manuscripts from the
churches of Judea to the churches of northern Italy and on, brought
to the forerunners of the Waldenses a Bible different from the
Bible of Roman Catholicism." -- Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible
Vindicated, p. 31.
"The method which Allix has pursued in his History of the
Churches of Piedmont, is to show that in the ecclesiastical history
of every century, from the fourth, which he considers a period
early enough for the enquirer after apostolic purity of doctrine,
there are clear proofs that doctrines unlike those which the Roman
church holds, and conformable to the belief of the Waldensian and
Reformed churches, were maintained by theologians of the north of
Italy down the period when the Waldenses first came into notice.
Consequently the opinions of the Waldenses were not new to Europe
in the eleventh or twelfth centuries, and there is nothing
improbable in the tradition, that the Subalpine Church persevered
in its integrity in an uninterrupted course from the first
preaching of the Gospel in the valleys." -- Gilly, Waldensian
Researches, pp. 118, 119.
"The Waldenses were among the first of the people of Europe to
obtain before the Reformation, the possession of the Bible in
Manuscript of their native tongue. They had the truth
unadulterated, and this rendered them the special objects of hatred
and persecutions. . . . Here for a thousand years, witnesses for
the truth maintained the ancient faith . . . in a most wonderful
manner it (the Word of Truth) was preserved through all ages of
darkness." -- Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, p. 42.
Grantz, in his history of the United Brethren, speaks of them
as follows, "These ancient Christians date their origin from the
beginning of the fourth century."
"Neither the prevailing corruptions of that [the Roman]
church, nor the arrogant claims of its successive popes, were
implicitly allowed by all the other bishops and churches, even in
Italy itself." -- Jones' Church History, p. 190.
Dr. Allix says, "We have found a body of men in Italy before
the year 1026, who believed contrary to the opinions of the church
of Rome, and who highly condemned their errors." -- Idem, p. 218.
"That the Waldensian faith and worship existed many centuries
before Protestantism arose is undeniable; the proofs and monuments
of this fact lie scattered over all Europe; but the antiquity of
the Waldenses is the antiquity of Protestantism. The Church of the
Reformation was in the loins of the Waldensian church ages before
the birth of Luther; her first cradle was placed amid these terrors
and sublimities, those ice-clad peaks and great bulwarks of rock.
In their dispersions over so many lands over France, the Low
Countries, Germany, Poland, Bohemia, Moravia, England, Calabria,
Naples, -- the Waldenses sowed the seeds of the great spiritual
revival which, beginning with the days of Wycliffe, and advancing
in the times of Luther and Calvin, awaits its full consummation in
the ages to come." -- Wylie, History of the Waldenses, pp. 24, 25.
Between the years of 700 and 800 A.D., Hugh Smith says, in his
history of the church, page 232, "Many British missionaries crossed
the ocean (the English Channel), and penetrated into the gloomy
recesses of the German forests for the instruction of the fierce
and uncivilized people."
Charlemagne, emperor of Rome, called a council of 300 bishops,
794 A.D., to consider the subject of images in the churches, and
some other matters. The first teaching of transubstantiation
appeared during this century in the teaching of the Roman church,
says Hugh Smith, page 222.
How Rome sought to extirpate the true faith by the sword of
the legions of Charlemagne, is told in the following extract from
the history of Orchard:
"In 789, Charles the Great resolved to subdue the Saxons or
destroy them, unless they accepted of life on the condition of
professing the Christian religion agreeably to the Roman ritual.
On pain of death the Saxons, with their infant offspring, were to
receive baptism. Germany in time was subdued, and religious
liberty destroyed. The king took an oath of fidelity of them and
received pledges for the fulfillment of his stipulations. In this
way the religious privileges of these and other nations were
infringed on, and by these and similar means Christianity, under
state patronage, made rapid progress for ages, as detailed in the
works of hierarchists. To make the conversion of these people
accord with the gospel record, apostles were sent to them, but the
Germans were exceedingly jealous of such commissioned ministers of
"These apostles of Rome preached trine-immersion, but said
nothing of infants. Success attended the imperial commands; other
kingdoms were visited in virtue of the same authority, and
converted from fear of the carnal weapon. The evidence of their
complete conversion was made apparent by
their baptism. Wooden tubs and other uten-sils were placed in the
open air, and the new converts with their children were immersed
naked into the profession of Christianity. This indelicacy in the
mode originated with the advocates of minor baptism as already
shown: it has never been practiced in Baptist communities. This
mandate of Charles is the first legal authority for infant baptism,
and we ask if the mental character must not have been exceedingly
low, to enforce such terms of denudation on the female portion of
candidates. We repudiate the charge, and leave the blot on those
who were guilty of the practice.
"The wilds and forests of Germany would prove asylums to
dissenters through the rise and assumption of the man of sin. That
Germany was inhabited by persons of this description is evident,
and that such persons must have been very active in disseminating
the truth becomes plain, since it is recorded that the Baptist
itinerant preachers, could in their travels, pass, during the ninth
century through the whole German empire, and lodge every night at
the house of one of their friends. It is very probable these
traveling ministers were Paulicians or Paterines from Bulgaria or
Italy. They were termed by Catholics anabaptist preachers. Their
sentiments of religion are learned, and their views of the
ordinances proved, from their confession of faith, which asserts,
`In the beginning of Christianity there was no baptizing of
children; and their forefathers practiced no such thing'; and, `We
do from our hearts acknowledge that baptism is a washing, which is
performed with water, and doth hold out the washing of the soul
from sin.'" -- Orchard's Baptist History, pp. 322, 323.
Chapter 12 - EIGHT HUNDRED TO NINE HUNDRED A.D.
Increase in the Popedom
During this century says Hugh Smith, on page 251 of his
history, "It was fashionable to explain Scripture by the writings
of the fathers. No man was allowed to vary in the least from their
decisions. The apostolic rule to compare spiritual things with
spiritual things was lost. The popedom now grew stronger and
stronger, and whoever dared to oppose the bishop of Rome drew upon
himself a host of enemies."
Persecutions continued during this period against the
Paulicans and the Waldensians, which constituted the true church,
and who were still holding to the Scriptural name, the "Church of
God," observing the true Sabbath according to the commandment.
They also taught the literal reign of Christ upon the earth, and
celebrated the Lord's Supper yearly. We gather the following
account of how they were persecuted during this century from Hugh
Smith's History. He says, "Simeon, a Greek officer clothed with
imperial power come to Colonia, and apprehended Sylvaneus and a
number of his disciples. Stones were put in the hands of these
last, and they were required to kill their pastor as the price of
their forgiveness. A person named Justus was the only one of the
number who obeyed, and he stoned him to death who had labored among
them for twenty-seven years. Justus signalized himself still more
by betraying the brethren while Simeon (the imperial officer),
struck with the divine grace apparent in the sufferings, embraced
the faith which he came to destroy, gave up the world, preached the
gospel and died a martyr. For one hundred and fifty years these
servants of Christ underwent the horrors of persecution with
patience and meekness. If the acts of their martyrdom, their
preaching, and their lives were distinctly told they would resemble
those the church justly reveres." All of this time the power of
the Spirit of God was with them, and they practiced the thirteenth
chapter of Romans, as well as other precious truth. -- Idem, p.
Not all secular rulers during this the dark ages were
upholding Rome, for many befriended the industrious and holy people
within their boundaries. Perrin says:
"The ambassadors to the duke of Savoy, asking for mercy for
the Waldenses in his provinces, stated that these Christians in the
valleys of `Piedmont did not hold by the concessions of their
princes the liberty to exercise in public their religion, because
it was established in this country above eight centuries, and that
they enjoyed this right long before they were the subjects of this
highness's ancestors; insomuch that, having never been of the same
religion as their princes it could not be said that they had
abandoned it, nor be obliged to return to it.'" -- Jones' Church
History, p. 402 ed. 1837.
"Memorial presented to Court of Savoy by Murat and Murat,
Counsellors of State, of Zurich and Berne, Switzerland, states in
part: `We find ourselves obliged to represent to your royal
highness, that the churches of the valleys in Piedmont did not
separate themselves from the religion of their prince; because they
live in that they received from their predecessors about eight
centuries ago, and which they did profess before they were under
the dominion of your royal highness's ancestors, who, having found
them in the possession of their religion, have maintained them
therein by several declarations.'. . .
"They were a very peaceable people, beloved by their neighbors
(in Provence, France), men of good behavior, of godly conversation,
faithful to their promises, and punctual in paying their debts.
That they were moreover liberal to strangers and the traveling
poor, as far as their ability extended. . . . . They were a people
who could not endure to blaspheme, or name the devil, or swear at
all, unless in making some solemn contracts, or judgment. Finally,
they were known by this, that if they happened to be cast into any
company where the conversation was lascivious or blasphemous, to
the dishonor of God, they instantly withdrew." -- Quoting Perrin,
Jones' Church History, p. 260, ed. 1837.
"Claudius Seisselius, archbishop of Turin, is pleased to say,
that `their heresy excepted, they generally live a purer life than
other Christians. They never swear but by compulsion, they fulfill
their promises with punctuality; and, living for the most part in
poverty, they profess to live the apostolic life and doctrine.
They also profess it to be their desire to overcome only by the
simplicity of faith, by purity of conscience, and integrity of
life; not by philosophical niceties and theological subtleties.'
And he very candidly admits that `in their lives and morals they
were perfect, irreprehensible, and without reproach among men,
addicting themselves with all their might to observe the commands
of God.'" -- Jones' Church History, p. 259.
"Eating the bread of poverty and dressed in the garments of
penury, the church in the wilderness followed on to serve the Lord.
She possessed the untampered manuscripts of holy revelation which
discountenanced the claims of the Papacy. Among this little flock,
stood out prominently the Waldenses. Generation after generation
of skilled copyists handed down, unadulterated, the pure Word.
Repeatedly their glorious truth spread far among the nations. In
terror, the Papacy thundered at the monarchs of Europe to stamp out
this heresy by the sword of steel. In vain the popish battalions
drenched the plains of Europe with martyr blood. The Word of God
lived unconquered." -- Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated,
pp. 254, 255.
"Jacobus de Riberia, who in his time assisted in persecuting
the Waldenses, says that they were so well instructed on the Holy
Scriptures, that he had seen peasants who could recite the book of
Job verbatim, and several others who could perfectly repeat all the
New Testament." -- Jones' Church History, p. 259.
"The antiquity of the Valdenses, or believers, is asserted by
their friends, and corroborated by their enemies, Dr. Maclaine, in
Mosheim's history, says, `We may affirm with the learned Beza, that
these people derived their name from the valleys they inhabited;
and hence Peter of Lyons was called, in Latin, Valdus, because he
had adopted their doctrine.' Reiner Sacco speaks of the Lionists
as a sect that had flourished above five hundred years (back to
750); while he mentions authors of note among them, who make their
antiquity remount to the apostolic age. Theodore Belvedro, a
popish monk, says that the heresy had always been in the valleys.
In the preface to the first French Bible, the translator says, that
they (the Valdenses) have always had the full enjoyment of the
heavenly truth contained in the holy Scriptures, ever since they
were enriched with the same by the apostles; having in fair MSS.
preserved the entire Bible in their native tongue, from generation
to generation." -- Orchard, Baptist History, p. 257.
"Beza affirms the Waldenses were the relics of the pure
primitive Christian churches; some of them were called `the poor of
Lyons.' Paul Perrin asserts, that the Waldenses were time out of
mind in Italy and Dalmatia, and were the offspring of the
Novatianists, who were persecuted and driven from Rome, A.D. 400
(rather 413); and who, for purity in communion, were called
Puritans. The name of Paterines was given to the Waldenses; and
who, for the most part, held the same opinions, and have therefore
been taken for one and the same class of people, who continued till
the Reformation under name of Paterines or Waldenses. There was no
difference in religious views between the Abigenses and Waldenses.
All those people inhabiting the south of France were called, in
general, Albigenses; and, in doctrine and manners, were not
distinct from the Waldenses. Bossuet, bishop of Meaus, says, as to
the Vaudois, they were a species of Donatists, and worse than the
ancient Donatists; they formed their churches of only good men;
they all, without distinction, if they were reputed good people,
preached and administered the ordinances. The celebrated Matthew
Francowitz says, the Waldenses scent a little of Anabaptism. The
Waldenses were, in religious sentiments, substantially the same as
the Paulicians, Paterines, Puritans, and Albigenses." -- Idem, p.
"Their elders and officers do not appear distinguished from
their brethren by dress or names, but every Christian was
considered as capable in a certain measure, of instructing others,
and of confirming the brethren by exhortations. Their elders were
the seniors of the brethren, while the presbyters were the whole
body of the teachers, whether fixed or itinerating. Their rules of
practice were practiced by a literal interpretation of Christ's
sermon on the mount. They consequently prohibited wars, suits at
law, acquisitions of wealth, capital punishments, self-defense, and
oaths of all kinds. The body of believers was divided into two
classes; one of which contained the perfect, the other the
imperfect Christians. The former gave up all worldly possessions,
the latter were less austere, though they abstained, like the
graver sort of Anabaptists in later time from all appearances of
pomp and luxury. These people contended that a church was an
assembly of believers, faithful men, and that of such a church the
Lord Jesus Christ is head, and he alone; that it is governed by his
word, and guided by the Holy Spirit; that it behooves all
Christians to walk in fellowship; that the only ordinances Christ
hath appointed for the churches, are baptism and Lord's Supper;
that they are both symbolical ordinances, or signs of holy things,
`visible emblems of invisible blessings,' and that believers are
the proper participants of them." -- Idem, p. 261.
Chapter 13 - NINE HUNDRED TO TEN HUNDRED A.D.
The Woman in The Wilderness
Investigators made a report to Louis XII, king of France, that
"They had visited all the parishes where they (Waldenses) dwelt,
and had inspected their places of worship, but that they had found
no images, nor signs of the ornaments belonging to the mass, nor
any of the ceremonies of the Roman Church; much less could they
discover any traces of those crimes with which they were charged.
On the contrary, they kept the Sabbath day, observed the ordinance
of baptism according to the primitive church, instructed their
children in the articles of the Christian faith and the
commandments of God." -- Jones' Church History, p. 260.
"Whosoever refuses to curse, to swear, to lie, to kill, to
commit adultery, to steal, to be revenged of his enemy, they say he
is a Vaudois, and therefore they put him to death.'" -- Voltaire's
Gen. Hist., chap. 69.
"An ancient inquisitor, to whose writings against the
Waldenses I had occasion to refer in a former section, thus
describes them. `These Heretics are known by their manners and
conversation, for they are orderly and modest in their behavior 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 deceit and falsehood. They get their livelihood by
manual industry, as daylaborers or mechanics; and their teachers
are weavers or tailors. They are not anxious about amassing
riches; but content themselves with the necessities 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, not
so much as making use of the common asseverations, `in truth,' `for
certain,' or the like, because they regard these as oaths,
contenting themselves with simply answering `yes' or `no.'" --
Jones' Church History, pp. 258, 259.
"Alluding to the churches of the Waldenses in Piedmont, and
those scattered throughout the diocese of Italy, he (Claudius
Seisselius, archbishop of Turin), tells us that the most cruel
persecutions had not been able to extripate them, or hinder them
from a constant defense of that doctrine which they had received
from their ancestors." -- Idem, p. 246.
Peter Allix, in his history of the Churches of Piedmont,
chapter 28, page 323, mentions the name as "The Church of God." In
chapter 25, page 288, he again mentions the "Church of God." It
will be observed that the people called by the world "Waldenses,"
were driven by Rome into the Piedmont valleys.
"There was no kingdom of Southern and Central Europe to which
these missionaries did not find their way, and where they did not
leave traces of their visit by the disciples whom they made. On
the west they penetrated into Spain. In Southern France they found
congenial fellow laborers in the Albigenses, by whom the seeds of
truth were plentifull scattered over Dauphine and Languedoc. On
the east, descending the Rhine and the Danube, they leavened
Germany, Bohemia, and Poland with their doctrines, their track
being marked with the edifices for worship and the stakes of
martyrdom that arose around their steps. Even the Seven-hilled
City they feared not to enter, scattering the seed on ungenial
soil, if perchance some of it might take root and grow. Their
naked feet and coarse woolen garments made them somewhat marked
figures in the streets of a city that clothed itself in purple and
fine linen; and when their errand was discovered, as sometimes
chanced, the rulers of Christendom took care to further, in their
own way, the springing of the seed, by watering it with the blood
of the men who had sowed it.
"Thus did the Bible in those ages, veiling its majesty and its
mission, travel silently through Christendom, entering homes and
hearts, and there making its abode.
"From her lofty seat Rome looked down with contempt upon the
Book and its humble bearers. She aimed at bowing the necks of
kings, thinking if they were obedient, meaner men would not dare to
revolt; and so she took little heed of a power which, weak as it
seemed, was destined at a future day to break in pieces the fabric
of her dominion.
"By and by she began to be uneasy, and to have a boding of
calamity. The penetrating eye of Innocent III detected the quarter
whence danger was to arise. He saw in the labors of these humble
men the beginning of a movement which, if permitted to go on and
gather strength, would one day sweep away all that it had taken the
toils and intrigues of centuries to achieve. He straightway
commenced those terrible crusades which wasted the sowers, but
watered the seed, and helped to bring on, at its appointed hour,
the catastrophe which he sought to avert." -- Wylie, History of the
Waldenses, pp. 22, 23.
Of the persecution against the Vaudois of La Guardia, Wylie
says: "Enticing the inhabitants outside the gates, and placing
soldiers in ambush, they succeeded in getting into their power
upwards of sixteen hundred persons. Of these, seventy were . . .
tortured, in the hope of compelling them to accuse themselves of
practicing shameful crimes in their religious assemblies. No such
confession, however, could the most prolonged tortures wring from
them. 'Stefano Carlino,' says M'Crie, `was tortured till his
bowels gushed out;' and another prisoner, named Verminel, `was kept
eight hours on a horrid instrument called the hell but persisted in
denying the atrocious calumny.' Some were thrown from the tops of
towers, or precipitated over cliffs; others were torn with iron
whips, and finally beaten to death with fiery brands; and others,
smeared with pitch, were burned alive." -- Idem, p. 115.
Of the Roman persecutions against the true followers of the
Lamb in the town of Pragelas, Wylie says: "It was in midwinter," .
sufficiently protected by the snow which then lay deep on their
mountains. They were destined to experience the bitter fact that
the rigors of the season had not quenched the fire of their
persecutor's malice. Borelli, at the head of an armed troop, broke
suddenly into Pragelas, meditating the entire extinction of its
population. The miserable inhabitants fled in haste to the
mountains, carrying on their shoulders their old men, their sick,
and their infants, knowing what fate awaited them should they leave
them behind. In their flight a great many were overtaken and
slain. Nightfall brought them deliverance from pursuit, but no
deliverance from the horrors not less dreadful . . . without
shelter, without food, and frozen snow around them, the winter's
sky overhead, their sufferings were inexpressibly great. When
morning broke, what a heart-rending spectacle did day disclose!
Some of the miserable group lost their hands and feet from
frostbite; while others were stretched out on the snow, stiffened
corpses. Fifty young children, some say eighty, were found dead
from cold, some lying on the bare ice, others locked in the frozen
arms of their mothers, who had perished on the dreadful night along
with their babes." -- Idem, pp. 30, 31.
Chapter 14 - TEN HUNDRED TO ELEVEN HUNDRED A.D.
Heresy and Truth
"The persecutions of the Waldenses is a remarkable epoch on
the annals of the Christian church. Wherever they went they sowed
the seeds of Reformation. The countenance and blessing of the King
of kings accompanied them. The Word of God grew and multiplied,
not only in the places where Waldo himself had planted it, but in
more distant regions." -- Jones' Church History, p. 235.
Concerning Biblias, a female martyr, during the persecution at
Lyon and Vienne: "The fact was pressed upon her to acknowledge
that the Christians ate their children. In her torture she
recovered herself, it is said, and awoke as out of a sleep, and, in
answer to their interrogations, thus remonstrated: `How can we eat
infants -- we, to whom it is not lawful to eat the blood of
beasts?'" -- Idem, p. 106.
John Milton, the famous poet as quoted in Jones' Church
History, makes mention of Peter Giles, in his history of the
Waldenses, and how the Waldensian ministers "learned trades which
may be followed for their support, that they might preach the
gospel, and not be a burden to the church," but "our ministers, "
he says, "scorn to use a trade, and count it a reproach that
tradesmen preach the gospel." Milton continues, as follows: "It
were to be wished they were all tradesmen. They would not then for
want of another trade make a trade of preaching and become the
worst of all tradesmen."
"Mr. Robinson (the noted historian) has here given the very
words of the inquisitor Reinerius, who describing the Waldenses,
says, `It is also a common opinion among the Puritans (Cathari)
that man sins grievously who [without purpose] kills any bird, from
the least to the greatest, or a quadruped, from a weasel to an
elephant.'" -- Footnote, page 288, Idem.
"They can say a great part of the Old and New Testaments by
heart. They despise the decretals, and the sayings and expositions
of holy men, and they only cleave to the text of Scripture." . . .
"They say that the doctrine of Christ and his apostles is
sufficient to salvation, without any church statutes and
ordinances. That the traditions of the church are no better than
the traditions of the Pharisees; and that greater stress is laid on
the observation of human traditions than the keeping of the law of
God. `Why do you transgress the law of God by your traditions?'
They condemn all approved ecclesiastical customs which they do not
read of in the gospel, as the observation of Candlemas, Palm
Sunday, the reconciliation of penitents, the adoration of the
cross, of Good Friday. They despise the feast of Easter and all
other [Roman] festivals of Christ and the Saints, because of their
being multiplied to that vast number, . . . and work upon holy days
[of the Roman church] where they can do it without being taken
notice of." . . . "They declare themselves to be the apostles'
successors, to have apostolic authority, and the keys of binding
and loosing. They hold the church of Rome to be the whore of
Babylon, and that all who obey her are damned, especially the
clergy that are subject to her since the time of Pope Sylvester."
have been introduced since Christ's ascension ought to be observed,
being of no worth; the feasts, fasts, orders, blessings, offices of
the church, and the like, they utterly reject." -- Eccl. Hist. of
the Ancient Piedmont Church, pp. 216, and Lewis, Hist. S. and S.,
pp. 211, 212.
Regarding the Paulicians: "During a period of one hundred and
fifty years, these Christian churches seem to have been almost
incessantly subjected to persecution, which they supported with
Christian meekness and patience; and if the acts of their
martyrdom, their preaching, and their lives were distinctly
recorded, I see no reason to doubt that we should find in them the
genuine successors of the Christians of the first two centuries.
And in this, as well as former instances the blood of the martyrs
was the seed of the church. A succession of teachers and churches
arose: and a person named Sergius, who had labored among them in
the ministry of the gospel thirty-seven years, is acknowledged,
even by their vilest calumnators, to have been a most exemplary
Christian. The persecution had, however, some intermissions, until
at length Theordora, the Greek empress, exerted herself against
them beyond all her predecessors. She sent inquisitors throughout
all Asia Minor in search of these sectaries, and is computed to
have killed by the gibbet, by fire, and by the sword, a hundred
thousand persons." -- Jones' Church History, p. 187, ed. 1837.
"Information of these things (the ministry of Waldo) was then
conveyed to Pope Alexander III, who no sooner heard of such
heretical proceedings than he anathematized the reformer and his
adherents, commanding the archbishop to proceed against them with
the utmost rigor. Waldo was now compelled to quit Lyons. His
flock in a great measure followed their pastor; and hence a
dispersion took place not unlike that which arose in the church of
Jerusalem on the occasion of the death of Stephen. The effect is
also similar. . . . His (Waldo's) principles took deep and lasting
root, and produced a numerous harvest of disciples, who were
denominated Leonists, Vaudois, Albigenses, or Waldenses, for the
very same class of Christians is designated by these various
appellations at different countries, or quarters of the same
country, in which they appeared." -- Idem, p. 235.
The following facts are indisputable: "that the general body
of the Albigenses received the doctrines of Peter Waldo, . . . and
that the Waldenses and Albigenses were two branches of the same
sect. . . ." -- Idem, p. 242.
Monsieur de Vignaux, forty years a Waldensian pastor, says,
"We live in peace and harmony one with another, have intercourse
and dealings chiefly among ourselves, have never mingled ourselves
with members of the church of Rome, by marrying our sons to their
daughters, nor our daughters to their sons."
He also states, "That the Holy Scriptures contain all things
necessary to our salvation, and that we are called to believe only
what they teach, without any regard to the authority of man -- that
nothing ought to be received by us except what God hath commanded"
-- that "there is only one mediator between God and man." -- Idem,
pp. 764, 765.
Chapter 15 - ELEVEN HUNDRED TO TWELVE HUNDRED A.D.
"The Cathari, who were evidently a people of God, received
great accessions of members from the learned labors and godly zeal
of Peter Waldo, an opulent merchant of Lyons, toward the close of
the twelfth century. They were gloriously distinguished by a
dreadful series of persecution, and exhibited a spectacle, both of
the power of Divine grace, and of the malice and enmity of the
world against the real gospel of Jesus Christ. I purpose to
represent in one connected view the history of this people till a
little after the time of the Reformation. The spirit, doctrine,
and progress of the Waldenses, will be more clearly understood by
this method, than by a broken place in which their story should be
"These people were numerous in the valleys of Piedmont. Hence
the name Vaudois, or Vallenses was given them, particularly to
those who inhabited the valleys of Luverne and Argorgne. A mistake
arose from similarity of names, that Peter Valdo, or Waldo, was the
first founder of these churches. For the name Vallenses being
easily changed into Waldenses, the Romanists improved this very
easy and natural mistake into an argument against the antiquity of
these churches, and denied that they had any existence till the
appearance of Waldo. During the altercations of the papists and
protestants, it was of some consequence that this matter should be
rightly stated; because the former denies that the doctrines of the
latter had any existence till the days of Luther. But from a just
account of the subject, it appeared, that the real protestant
doctrines existed during the dark ages of the church, long before
"About 1160, the doctrine of transubstantiation was required
by the court of Rome to be acknowledged by all men. This led to
idolatry. Men fell down before the consecrated host and worshiped
it as God. The impiety of this abomination shocked the minds of
all men who were not dead to a sense of true religion. The mind of
Peter Waldo was aroused to oppose the abomination, and to strive
for a reformation. A fear of God, in union with an alarming sense
of the wickedness of the times, led him to conduct with courage in
opposing the dangerous corruptions of the hierarchy. He abandoned
his mercantile occupation, distributed his wealth to the poor, who
flocked to him to share his alms, received the best instructions he
was capable of communicating, and reverenced the man, of whose
liberality they partook, while the great and the rich both hated
and despised him.
"A secular man like Waldo needed instruction. But where could
it be found, at a time of such general ignorance and declension?
He knew that the Scriptures were given by infallible guides, and
thirsted for those sources of instruction, which, at that time,
were in a great measure a sealed book in the Christian world. To
men who understood the Latin tongue, they were accessible. But how
few were these compared with the bulk of mankind! The Latin
vulgate Bible was the only edition of the sacred book at that time
in Europe: and, the languages then in common use, the French and
others, however, mixed with the Latin, were, properly speaking, by
this time separate and distinct from it. It appears that the
Christian world under providence, was indebted to Waldo, for the
first translation of the Bible into a modern tongue. No pains had
been taken, by those who were attached to popish system, to diffuse
Biblical knowledge among the vulgar. The benevolent attempt to
send the bread of life among the common people, by giving them the
Scriptures in their own tongue, if we accept the single instance of
the Sclavonian version, was purely and exclusively of Protestant
"As Waldo grew more acquainted with the Scriptures, he saw
that the general practice of nominal Christians was totally
abhorrent from the doctrines of the New Testament: and in
particular, that a number of customs, which all the world regarded
with reverence, had not only, no foundation in the divine oracles,
but were even condemned by them. Inflamed with equal zeal and
charity, he boldly condemned the reigning vices, and the arrogance
of the pope. He did more: as he advanced in the knowledge of the
true faith and love of Christ, he taught his neighbors the
principles of practical godliness, and encouraged them to seek
salvation by Jesus Christ.
"John de Bekes Mayons, archbishop of Lyons, a distinguished
member of the corrupt system, forbade the new reformer to teach
anymore, on pain of excommunication, and of being proceeded against
as an heretic. Waldo replied, that though he was a layman, yet he
could not be silent in a matter that concerned the salvation of
men. On this, the archbishop endeavored to apprehend him. But the
great affection of Waldo's friends, the influence of his relations,
who were men of rank, the universal regard paid to his probity and
piety, and the conviction which, no doubt many felt, that the
extraordinary circumstances justified his assumption of the
pastoral character; all things operated so strongly in his favor
that he lived concealed at Lyons three years.
"Pope Alexander III, having heard of the proceedings of Waldo,
anathematized him and adherents, and commanded the archbishop to
proceed against him with the utmost rigor.
"Waldo fled from Lyons, and his disciples followed him. By
this dispersion, the doctrine of Waldo was widely disseminated
throughout Europe. In Dauphiny, whither he retired, his tenets
took a deep and lasting root. Some of his people probably did join
themselves to the Vaudois of Piedmont, and the new translation of
the Bible, was, doubtless, a rich accession to the spiritual
treasures of that people. Waldo himself, however, seems never to
have been among them. Persecuted from place to place, he retired
into Picardy. Success attended his labors; and the doctrines which
he preached appear to have so harmonized with those of the Vaudois,
that they and his people were henceforth considered as the same.
"To support and encourage the church, formed no part of the
glory of the greatest and wisest princes of that age. Phillip
Augustus, one of the most prudent and sagacious princes that France
ever saw, was enslaved by the god of this world. He took up arms
against the Waldenses of Picardy, pulled down 300 houses belonging
to those who supported their party, destroyed some walled towns,
and drove the inhabitants into Flanders. Not content with this, he
pursued them thither, and caused many of them to be burned. It
appears that, at this time, Waldo fled into Germany, and at last
settled in Bohemia, where he ended his days about the year 1179.
He appears to have been one of whom the world was not worthy, and
to have turned many unto righteousness. The word of God then grew
and multiplied. In Alsace and along the Rhine the gospel was
preached with a powerful effusion of the Holy Spirit: persecution
ensued, and 35 citizens of Nantz were burned at one fire, in the
city of Bingen, and at Mentz, 18. In those persecutions, the
bishop of Mentz was very active, and the bishop of Strasburg was
not inferior to him in vindictive zeal: for, through his means, 80
persons were burned at that place. Everything relating to the
Waldenses resembled the scenes of the primitive church. Numbers
died praising God, and in confident assurance of a blessed
resurrection; whence the blood of the martyrs became again the seed
of the church; and in Bulgaria, Croatia, Dalmatia, and in Hungary,
many churches were planted; which flourished in the thirteenth
century, governed by Bartholomew, a native of Carcassone, a city
not far from Poulouse, which might be called in those days; the
metropolis of the Waldenses, on account of the numbers who there
professed evangelical truth. In Bohemia and the country of Passaw,
the churches were reckoned to have contained in the former part of
the fourteenth century eighty thousand professors. Almost
throughout Europe Waldenses were then to be found; and yet they
were treated as the off-scouring of the earth, and as people
against whom all the power of wisdom of the world were united.
But, the witness continued to prophesy in sackcloth,' and souls
were built up in the faith, hope, and charity of the gospel." --
Townsend's Abridgment, pp. 405-409.
The Waldensian Church of God
During the twelfth century the work of the Church of God,
known to the world as "Waldenses," was at its best since the days
of the apostles. Men of ability had been raised to the leadership
of God's people in the wilderness, and much increase was made in
winning souls from paganistic Roman Catholicism of the dark ages.
In various countries these people were known by many names which
were not acknowledged by the people themselves. The predominating
names brought to use by history are "Waldenses," "Cathari," and
"Albigenses," but the people themselves objected to these man-made
From E. Comba's work, Guild Hall Library, London, we get the
following. "The Waldenses objected to being called after Peter
Waldo. They teach that We are a little Christian flock, falsely
called Waldenses.' Further they say, We are proud of working,' and
reproached the Roman clergy with idleness."
The enemies of the church, and also others who do not
understand, attribute the beginning of the Waldenses, also known by
other names, to the time of Peter Waldo, the leading preacher of
his time; but a careful search will reveal that the Waldenses, as
a people separate and distinct from Rome, existed prior to the
ministry of Waldo.
"Further, the provincial councils of Toulouse in 1119, and of
Lombez in 1886 [sic., 1186?], and the general councils of Lateran
in 1139 and 1179, do not condemn them, as Albigenses, but as
heretics; and when they particularize them, they denominate them as
bons homet,' (i.e., good men) Cathari,' Paterini,' Publicani,'
etc., which shows that they existed before they were generally
known as Albigenses. It is also proved from their books that they
existed as Waldenses before the times of Peter Waldo, who preached
about the year of 1160. Perrin, who wrote their history, had in
his possession a New Testament in the Vallese language, written on
parchment, in a very ancient letter, and a book entitled, in their
language, Quai cosa sia l'Antichrist?' that is, What Is
Antichrist?' under date of the year 1120, which carries us back
twenty years before Waldo. Another book, entitled The Noble
Lesson,' is dated A.D. 1100." -- Jones' Church History, p. 232, ed.
Of these true servants of God, Milner bears the following
witness: "In this century (XII) there were numerous opposers of the
reigning idolatry and superstitions of the church of Rome, who were
dominated by their enemies, Cathari; they, as to worldly property,
were in low circumstances, and in general, mechanics. Cologne,
Flanders, the south of France, Savoy, and Milan were their
principal places of residence. These appear to have been a plain,
unassuming, harmless, and industrious sect of Christians,
condemning, by their doctrine and manners the whole apparatus of
the fashionable idolatry and superstition, placing true religion in
the faith and love of Christ, and retaining a supreme regard for
the Divine Word. They seem to have conformed to the public worship
much in the same manner as the apostles did to the Jewish church,
while it existed, still preserving a union among themselves in
worship, and in hearing sermons, so far as the iniquity of the
times would permit.
"This people continued in a state of extreme persecution
throughout this century. Bernard, who seems to have been extremely
ill-informed concerning them, remarks that they had no particular
father of their heresy, and condemns them in whatever respects they
stood opposed to the high claims and superstitions of the church of
Rome. We cannot, however, find that he ever opposed their real
piety." -- Townsend's Abridgment, pp. 396, 397.
Let us note that Milner says Bernard knew of no particular
father of their heresy.
Mr. Jones gives Saccho's own opinion, as following: "Their
enemies confirm their great antiquity. Reinerius Saccho, an
inquisitor, and one of their most cruel persecutors, who lived only
eighty years after Waldo (A.D. 1160) admits that Gretser, the
Jesuit, who also wrote against the Waldenses, and had examined the
subject fully, not only admits their great antiquity, but declared
his firm belief that the Toulousians and Albigenses, were no other
than the Waldenses." -- Jones' History of the Church, vol. 2, chap.
5, sec. 1.
Concerning Waldenses, according to the Roman churchman
Everiinusm, about 1140: "They say that the church is only among
themselves, because they alone follow the ways of Christ, and
imitate the apostles, not seeking secular gains, possessing no
property, following the pattern of Christ, who was perfectly poor,
nor permitted his disciples to possess anything." . . . "I must
inform you, also that those of them who have returned to our
(Roman) church, tell us that they had great numbers of their
persuasion scattered almost everywhere, and that they had great
numbers of our clergy and monks. And as for those who were burnt,
they, in the defense they made for themselves, told us that this
heresy had been concealed from the time of the martyrs, and that it
had existed in Greece and other countries." -- Idem, pp. 210, 211.
These people of God then, as in all ages of the church,
understood the prophesies applying to themselves, and understood
that they were to be preserved by Jehovah in the wilderness until
the time of persecution would end.
A celebrated leader among the Waldenses and Albigenses, Arder
Joachim of Calabria, the year 1190, when in conversation with
Richard, The Lion Hearted, said, "Certain wicked nations called
Gog' and Magog' shall rise up to destroy the Church of God and
shall subvert the race of Christians, and then shall be the day of
judgment. He says John speaks of the church, that the woman fled
into the wilderness where she had a place prepared of God that He
should feed her there a thousand, two hundred, and sixty days."
"The ancient Waldenses . . . held that to endow churches from
state funds is an evil thing,' and that the church then fell and
became the whore, sitting on that beast mentioned in the book of
the Revelation, when under Pope Sylvester, she received temporal
donations." -- Idem, p. 266.
The true church while opposed by Rome, was respected by the
people among whom she dwelt. Her doctrine was scriptural, and the
lives of her people were faultless in that age of darkness.
In Encyclopaedia Metropolitania, London Library, on page 653,
in speaking of heretics it says, "Of all the sects in this century
(the twelfth), the one which by the purity of its doctrine, and by
the ability of its leaders, there were none that surpassed the
From nation to nation the Waldenses fled, and never were
secure from the unrelenting wrath of the minions of Rome. Anathema
of Pope and edicts of kings repeatedly were hurled against them of
which the following will suffice to show the fury of Rome against
"Forasmuch as it has pleased God to set us (the Roman church)
over his people . . . we . . . do command and charge that the
Waldenses, Inzabbati, who otherwise are called the poor of Lyons,'
and all other heretics who cannot be numbered, being excommunicated
from the holy church to depart from out of our kingdom and all our
dominions. Whosoever, therefore, from this day forward, shall
presume to receive the said Waldenses and Inzabbati, or any other
heretics of whatever profession, into their houses, or to be
present at their pernicious sermons, or to afford them meat, or any
other favor, shall thereby incur the indignation of Almighty God .
1194. From Pegna's Directory of the Inquisitors, in Jones' Church
History, p. 237.
Some General Remarks
"Here we are justly called upon to vindicate the claim, which
this people made to the honorable character of the Church of God.
In times of great declension, whoever is led by the Spirit of God
to revive true religion, necessarily exposes himself to the
invidious charges of arrogance, uncharitableness and self-conceit.
By condemning all others, such a one provokes the rest of the world
to observe and investigate his faults. These disadvantages the
Waldenses had in common with other reformers; they had also
disadvantages peculiarly their own. Power, knowledge, and learning
were almost entirely in the hands of their adversaries: in them
very particularly, God Almighty chose the weak and foolish things
of the world, to confound the wise. As they were, for the most
part, a plain and illiterate people, they furnished no learned
divines, no profound reasoners, nor able historians. The
vindication, therefore, of their claims to the character of a true
church must be drawn principally from the holiness of their lives
and the patience of their sufferings.
"Rainerious, the cruel persecutor, owns that the Waldenses
frequently read the holy Scriptures, and in their preaching, cited
the words of Christ and his apostles concerning love, humility, and
other virtues; insomuch that the women who heard them, were
enraptured with the sound. He further says, that they taught men
to live, by the words of the gospel and the apostles, that they led
religious lives; that their manners were seasoned with grace, and
their words prudent; that they freely discoursed of divine things,
that they might be esteemed, good men. He observes, likewise, that
they taught their children and families the epistles and gospels.
Claude, bishop of Turin, wrote a treatise against their doctrines,
in which he candidly owns, that they themselves were blameless,
without reproach among men, and that they observed the Divine
commands with all their might.
"Jacob de Riberia says, that he had seen peasants among them
who could recite the book of Job by heart; and several others, who
could perfectly repeat the whole New Testament.
"The bishop of Cavaillon once obliged a teaching monk to enter
into conference with them, that they might be convinced of their
errors, and the effusion of blood might be prevented. This
happened during a great persecution in 1540, in Merindol and
Provence. But the monk returned in confusion, owning that he had
never known in his whole life so much of the Scriptures, as he had
learned during those few days, in which he had held conference with
the heretics. The bishop however, sent among them a number of
doctors, young men, who had lately come from the Sorbonne, at
Paris, which was renowned for theological subtilty. One of them
openly owned, that he had understood more of the doctrine of
salvation from the answers of the little children in their
catechism, than by all the disputations which he had ever heard.
This is the testimony of Vesembecius in his oration concerning the
Waldenses. The same author informs us farther, that Lewis XII
importuned by the calumnies of informers, sent two respectable
persons into Provence, to make inquiries. They reported, that in
visiting all their parishes and temples, they found no images or
Roman ceremonies, but, that they could not discover any marks of
the crimes with which they were charged: That the sabbath day was
strictly observed; that the children were baptized according to the
rules of the primitive church, and instructed in the articles of
the Christian faith, and the commandments of God. Lewis having
heard the report declared with an oath, They are better men than
myself or my people.'
"We must add here the testimony of that great historian,
Thuanus, enemy, indeed, of the Waldenses, though a fair and candid
"He is describing one of the valleys inhabited by this people
in Dauphiny, which is called the stony valley. Their clothing,' he
says, is of the skins of sheep; they have no linen. They inhabit
seven villages: their houses are constructed of flint stone, with
a flat roof covered with mud, which being spoiled or loosened by
rain, they smooth again with a roller. In these they live with
their cattle, separated from them, however, by a fence. They have
besides two caves, set apart for particular purposes, in one of
which they conceal their cattle, in the other, themselves, when
hunted by their enemies. They live on milk and venison, being by
constant practice, excellent marksmen. Poor as they are, they are
content, and live separate from the rest of mankind. One thing is
astonishing, that persons externally so savage and rude, should
have so much moral cultivation. They can all read and write. They
are acquainted with French so far as is needful for the
understanding of the Bible, and the singing of psalms. You can
scarce find a boy among them, who cannot give you an intelligible
account of the faith which they profess, in this, indeed, they
resemble their brethren of the other valley, they pay tribute with
a good conscience, and the obligation of this duty is particularly
noted in the confession of their faith. If by any reason of the
civil wars, they are prevented from doing this, they carefully set
apart the sum, and at the first opportunity put it to the king's
"Francis I, the successor of Lewis XII, received, on inquiry
the following information concerning the Waldenses of Merindol, and
other neighboring places; namely, that they were a laboring people,
who came from Piedmont to dwell in Provence, about 200 years ago;
that they had much improved the country by their industry; that
their manners were most excellent; that they were honest, liberal,
hospitable, and human; that they were distinct from others in this,
that they could not bear the sound of blasphemy, or the naming of
the devil, or any oaths, except on solemn occasions; and that if
they ever fell into company where blasphemy or lewdness formed the
substance of the discourse, they instantly withdrew themselves.
Such were the testimonies to the character of this people from
"Luther, who owns that he was once prejudiced against them,
testifies that he understood by their confessions and writings,
that they had been for ages singularly expert in the use of the
scriptures. He rejoiced and gave thanks to God, that he had
enabled the reformed and the Waldenses, to see and own each other
as brethren. By the general confession of the Romanists, it
appears, that the Protestants and the Waldenses, were looked on as
holding the same principles. The churches of Piedmont were,
however, on account of their superior antiquity, regarded as guides
of the rest.
"From the borders of Spain, throughout the South of France for
the most part, among and below the Alps, along the Rhine, on both
sides of its course, and even to Bohemia, thousands of godly souls
were seen patiently to bear persecution for the sake of Christ,
against whom malice could say no evil, except that which admits the
most satisfactory refutation: men distinguished for every virtue,
and only hated because of godliness itself. Persecutors with a
sigh owned, that, because of their virtue, they were the most
dangerous enemies of the church. But of what church? Of that,
which the thirteenth century, and long before, had shown itself to
be antichristian. How faithful is the promise of God in supporting
and maintaining a church, even in the darkest times! But her
livery is often sackcloth, and her external bread is that of
affliction, while she sojourns on the earth.
"The Waldenses were conscientiously obedient to established
governments, and their separation from a church, so corrupt as that
of Rome, was with them only a matter of necessity. We shall now
see what they were in point of doctrine and discipline."
The Doctrine and Discipline of the Waldenses
"The leading principle of this church was, that we ought to
believe that the holy Scriptures alone contain all the things
necessary to our salvation, and that nothing ought to be received
as an article of faith but what God hath revealed to us.' Wherever
this principle dwells in the heart, it expels superstition and
idolatry. There the worship of one God, through the one Mediator,
and by the influence of one Holy Spirit, is practiced sincerely.
The dreams of purgatory, the intercession of saints, the adoration
of images, dependence on relics and austerities, cannot stand
before the doctrine of Scripture. The Waldenses were faithful to
the great fundamental principle of Protestantism. They affirm
that there is only one mediator, and therefore we must not invocate
the saints. That there is no purgatory; but that all those, who
are justified by Christ, go into life eternal.
"A number of their old treatises evince, that for some hundred
years, the principles of the gospel, which alone can produce such
holiness of life as the Waldenses exhibited in their conduct, were
professed, understood, and embraced by this chosen people, while
Antichrist was in the very height of his power.
"In a book concerning their pastors we have this account of
"All who are to be ordained as pastors among us, while they
are yet at home, entreat us to receive them into the ministry, and
desire that we would pray to God, that they may be rendered capable
of so great a charge. They are to learn by heart all the chapters
of St. Matthew and St. John, all the canonical epistles, and a good
part of the writings of Solomon, David, and the prophets.
Afterwards, having exhibited proper testimonials of their learning
and conversation, they are admitted as pastors by the imposition of
hands. The junior pastors must do nothing without the license of
their seniors; nor are the seniors to undertake anything without
the approbation of their colleagues, that everything may be done
among us in order. We pastors meet together once every year, to
settle our affairs in a general synod. Those whom we teach, afford
us food and raiment with good will, and without compulsion. The
money given us by the people is carried to the general synod, is
there received by the elders, and is applied partly to the supply
of travelers, and partly to the relief of the indigent. If a
pastor among us shall fall into gross sin, he is ejected from the
community, and debarred from the function of preaching.'
"The Waldenses in general expressed their firm belief that
there is no other mediator than Jesus Christ: they spake with great
respect of the virgin Mary as holy, humble, and full of grace; at
the same time they totally discountenanced that senseless and
extravagant admiration in which she has been held for ages.
"The labors of Claudius, of Turin, in the ninth century,
appear, under God, to have produced these blessed results as to the
faith and honesty of the Waldenses. Men, who spend and are spent
for the glory of God, and for the profit of souls, have no
conception on the importance of their efforts. These often remain
in durable effects, to succeeding generations, and are blessed to
the emancipation of thousands from the dominion of sin and Satan.
"The Waldenses took special care for the religious instruction
of their children, by catechetical and expository tracts, adapted
to the plainest understandings. These formed a very salutary body
of instruction, and early taught the youth the great things which
pertained to life and godliness. If more could be said of this
people, than that they hated the gross abomination of popery, and
condemned the vices of the generality of mankind, they might have
been ostentatious Pharisees, or self-sufficient Socians. But
though, no doubt, there were unsound professors among them, as
among all denominations, yet in their community, there were many
real Christians, who knew how to direct the edge of their severity
against their indwelling sins; and who being truly humbled under a
view of their native depravity, betook themselves wholly to the
grace of God in Christ for salvation.
"It is clearly evident from the general current of their
history, that the Waldenses were a humbled people, prepared to
receive the gospel of Christ from the heart, to walk in His steps,
to carry His cross, and to fear sin above all other evils. They
were devoutedly strict in the discharge of family religion. In
some ancient inquisitorial memoirs, describing their names and
customs, it is said of them: Before they go to meat, the elder
among them says, "God, who blessed the five barley loaves and two
fishes in the wilderness, bless this table, and that which is upon
it, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." And
after meat he says, "The God, who has given us corporal food, grant
us spiritual life, and may God be with us, and we always with Him."
After their meals, they teach and exhort one to another.'
"There were evidently many humble and devout followers of
Christ among this people, who felt the power and enjoyed the
consolations of the doctrines of the cross." -- Townsend's
Abridgment, pp. 409-416.
Chapter 16 - TWELVE HUNDRED TO THIRTEEN HUNDRED A.D.
Rome Continues to Harass the Church
The Church of God continued to grow in numbers and prestige in
various nations, but among the various peoples was known by its
distinctive name separating it from other peoples. Jones quotes
the Roman churchman Everiinus, as saying, "Those of them who have
returned to our church tell us that they had great numbers of their
persuasion scattered almost everywhere." -- Jones Church History,
pp. 210, 211.
In the preceding century, we have noted how the pontiffs were
troubled with the true believers, known as Waldenses, Albigenses,
etc. In some countries these followers of the Lamb were called
"Paulicians" and "Puritans." The Paulicians emigrated "from
Bulgaria, who, after leaving their native land," Orchard says,
"spread themselves throughout various provinces. Many of them,
while doing good to others, and propagating the gospel, were put to
death with the most unrelenting cruelty. Their accessions from
different sources made the Puritan or Paterine churches very
considerable, and to their enemies very formidable, even before the
name of Waldo of Lyons was known. Besides these foreign
accessions, some books had been written and circulated by the
Puritans while several reformers appeared in different kingdoms,
all advocating the same doctrines and practice; so that the clergy
and pontiff were aroused to vigorous opposition." -- Orchard's
Baptist History, pp. 153, 154.
Although the severe persecutions were raised against them in
various countries controlled by the Roman pontiff, these people
continued as a distinct people, and known as "Puritans" even until
after their settlements in America.
"In the Thirteenth Century, in the year 1215, the Pope
Innocent III, of bloody celebrity held a council at the Lateran and
announced anathemas against heretics of every description. By his
power over the ruling prince, Frederick II, Honorius extended his
sanguinary measures to the kingdom of Italy, and the people of God
began to flee, and, according to Mosheim, they passed out of Italy,
and spread like an inundation throughout the European provinces,
but Germany in particular afforded an asylum where they were called
Gazari instead of Cathari (Puritans)." -- Mosheim, Ecc. Hist., v.
2, pp. 426, 430, and Orchard, Bap. Hist., p. 155.
In 1227 a new army was raised in France against Jews and
heretics, personally enumerating as heretics Ramond, the Count of
Foix, and Viscount of Beziers. They first attacked the castle of
Becede, in Lauraquais. The Archbishop of Narbonne, with the Bishop
of Toulouse, hastened to aid in the siege. Part of the besieged
made their escape, the rest were either knocked on the head or put
to the sword. It is said the Bishop of Toulouse saved several from
the violence of the soldiers, that he might be gratified in seeing
them perish in the flames." -- Idem, p. 221.
Frederick II, emperor of the Romans, from Padua, in the year
1224, promulgated four edicts against the heretics, saying "We
condemn to perpetual infamy, withdraw our protection from, and put
under our ban, the Puritans, Paterines, Leonists, Arnoldists,
Josephines, Albigenses, Waldenses, etc., and all other heretics, of
both sexes, and of whatever name." -- Jones' Church History, p.
Frederick, in his proclamation against the heretics, uses the
term "The Church of God." This is found in the book entitled, Holy
Roman Empire, in the Public Library of London.
"The council of Toulouse established the inquisition to
complete the work of heresy; and in the year 1229, first forbade
the use of the Scriptures in the vulgar tongue." -- Orchard, Hist.
Of Bap., p. 224.
It is to be also wondered at that God never overlooks these
acts against His people, for in this same city of Toulouse it is
said was formed the first society in France for circulating the
Bible in the vernacular tongue. -- Idem, p. 224, note.
By fire, by sword, by prison, and every imaginable form of
persecution and death, the Roman apostates sought to destroy the
people of God; but the more she persecuted, the more she slew, the
greater the church, and the stronger became her people, until Rome
at last threw all her strength against the unyielding people of the
most High. Rome's endeavors to stamp out the truth, and the
constancy of the saints of this age is ably summed up by the able
historian Wylie in these words:
"Rome saw that she was making no progress in the extermination
of a heresy which had found a seat amid these hills, as firm as it
was ancient. The numbers of the Waldenses were not thinned; their
constancy was not shaken, they still refused to enter the Roman
church, and they met all the edicts and inquisitors, all the
torturings and burnings of their great persecutor, with a
resistance as unyielding as that offered by their rocks to the
tempests and hail and snow which the whirlwinds of winter hurled
against them." -- Wylie, History of the Waldenses, p. 31.
"The preceding sections will have enabled the reader to form
a tolerably correct judgment concerning the religious principles
and general character of that denomination of Christians called
Catharists, Paterines, Albigenses, or Waldenses. And I shall now
proceed to a more detailed account of their history subsequent to
the times of Peter Waldo, and especially of the dreadful
persecutions and complicated sufferings which came upon them in
consequence of their adherence to the commandments of God and the
faith of Jesus.'" -- Jones' Church History, p. 266.
The Persecutions of the Waldenses
"The external history of this people is little else than a
series of persecution, and it is to be regretted, that while we
have large and distinct details of the cruelties they endured, we
have very scanty accounts of the spirit with which they suffered,
and still less of the internal exercises of holiness, which are
known only to the people of God. That which raged against them in
the former part of the thirteenth century, was an assemblage of
everything cruel, perfidious, indecent, and detestable. This was
a time when the princes of the earth, as well as the meanest
persons, were generally enslaved to the popedom, and were easily
led to persecute the children of God with the most savage
barbarity. In 1179, some, under various pretexts of their having
embraced heretical sentiments, were examined by the bishops and
condemned. They were accused of having received only the New
Testament, and rejecting the Old, except in the testimonies quoted
by our Lord and the apostles. This charge is, however, confuted by
the whole tenor of their authentic writings. They were also
accused of asserting the Manichean doctrine of two independent
principles; . . . and of many other things, and all with an
evident design to persecute them to death; because they stood
opposed to the errors and abominations of the church of Rome.
"Rainerious, who was a bigoted papist, owns, that the
Waldenses were the most formidable enemies of the church of Rome,
because,' saith he, they have a great appearance of godliness;
because they live righteously before men, believe rightly in God in
all things, and hold all the articles of the creed; yet they hate
and revile the church of Rome, and, in their accusations they are
easily believed by the people.'
"But it was reserved to Innocent the Third, than whom no pope
possessed more ambition, to institute the inquisition; and the
Waldenses were the first objects to its cruelty. He authorized
certain monks to frame the process of that court, and to deliver
the supposed heretics to the secular power. The beginning of the
thirteenth century saw thousands of persons hanged or burned by
these diabolical devices, whose sole crime was, that they trusted
in Jesus Christ for salvation, and renounced all the vain hopes of
self-righteousness, idolatry and superstition. Whoever has
attended closely to the subject of the epistles to the Colossians
and Galatians, and has penetrated into the meaning of the epistle,
sees the great duty of HOLDING THE HEAD, and resting for
justification by faith, on Jesus Christ alone, inculcated
throughout them as the predominant precept of Christianity, in
opposition to the rudiments of the world, to human works and
devices of whatever kind. Such a person sees what true
Protestantism is, contrasted with genuine popery; and, of course,
he is convicted, that the difference is not merely verbal or
frivolous, but that there is a perfect opposition in the two plans;
and such as admits of no coalition or union; and that therefore the
true way of withstanding the devices of Satan, is to be faithful to
the great doctrine of justification by the grace of Jesus Christ,
through faith alone, and not by our own works or deservings. Hence
the very foundation of false religion is overthrown; hence troubled
consciences obtain solid peace, and faith, working by love, leads
men into the very spirit of Christianity, while it comforts their
hearts, and establishes them in every good work.
"Schemes of religion so extremely opposite being ardently
pursued by both parties, could not fail to produce a violent
rupture. The church and the world were then seen engaged in
contest. Innocent first tried the methods of argument and
persecutions. He sent bishops and monks, who preached in those
places, where the Waldensian doctrine flourished. Their success
was very inconsiderable. In the neighborhood of Narbonne two monks
were employed, Peter de Chateauneuf, and Dominic. The former of
these was murdered, probably by Raymond, Count of Toulouse, because
he had refused to remove the excommunication, which he had
denounced against that prince. Though there appears no evidence
that Raymond either understood or felt the vital influence of the
Protestant doctrines, yet he strongly protected his Waldensian
subjects. He witnessed the purity of their lives and manners, and
he heard with indignation the calumnies with which they were
aspersed by their adversaries, who proclaimed to all the world
their own hypocrisy, avarice and ambition. He was incensed at the
wickedness practiced on his subjects, and indignant at his own
unmerited disgrace; but his conduct in this instance was
unjustifiable. The event was disastrous. Innocent obtained what
he wished, a decent pretense for his horrible and most iniquitous
persecution; and thousands of the sincerely pious were
unrighteously calumniated as accessory to crime.
"The insidious customs of the inquisition are well known.
From the year 1206, when it was first established, to the year
1228, the havoc made among helpless Christians was so great, that
certain French bishops, in the last mentioned year, desired the
monks of the inquisition to defer a little their work of
imprisonment, till the Pope should be advertised of the great
numbers apprehended; numbers so great that it was impossible to
defray the charge of their subsistence, and even to provide stone
and mortar to build prisons for them. Yet so true it is, that the
blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, that in the year
1539 there were in Europe above eight hundred thousands who
professed the religion of the Waldenses.
"When the Waldenses knew that the design of the pope was to
gain the reputation of having used gentle and reasonable methods of
persuasion, they agreed among themselves, to undertake the open
defense of their principles. They, therefore, gave the bishops to
understand, that their pastors, or some of them in the name of the
rest, were ready to prove their religion to be truly Scriptural, in
an open conference, provided it might be conducted with propriety.
They explained their ideas of propriety, by desiring that there
might be moderators on both sides, who should be vested with full
authority to prevent all tumult and violence; that the conference
should be held at some place, to which all parties might have free
and safe access; and that some one subject should be chosen, with
the common consent of the disputants, which should be steadily
prosecuted, till it was fully discussed and determined; and that he
who could not maintain it by the Word of God, the only decisive
rule of Christians, should own himself confuted.
"This was perfectly equitable and judicious, and the bishop
could not with decency refuse to accept the terms. The place of
discussion agreed on was Montreal, near Carcassone, in the year
1206. The umpires on the one side were the bishops of Villencuse
and Auxere; on the other R. de Bot, and Anthony Riviere.
"Several pastors were deputed to manage the debate for the
Waldenses, of whom Arnold Hot was the principal. He arrived first
at the time and place mentioned. A bishop named Dusus, came
afterwards on the side of the papacy, accompanied by the monk
Dominic, two of the pope's legates, and several other priests and
monks. The points undertaken to be proved by Arnold, were, that
the mass and transubstantiation were idolatrous, and unscriptural;
that the church of Rome was not the spouse of Christ, and that its
polity was bad and unholy. Arnold sent those propositions to the
bishop, who required fifteen days to answer him, which were
granted. At the day appointed, the bishop appeared bringing with
him a large manuscript, which was read in the conference. Arnold
desired to be heard by word of mouth, only entreating their
patience, if he took a considerable time in answering so prolix a
writing. Fair promises of a patient hearing were made to him. He
discoursed for the space of four days with great fluency and
readiness, and with such order, perspicuity, and strength of
argument, that a powerful impression was made on the audience.
"At length Arnold desired, that the bishop and monks would
undertake to vindicate the mass and transubstantiation by the Word
of God. What they said on the occasion we are not informed; but
the cause of the abrupt conclusion of the conference showed which
party had the advantage. While the two delegates were disputing
with Arnold, the bishop of Villeneuse, the umpire of the papal
party, declared, that nothing could be determined because of the
coming of the crusaders. What he asserted was too true; the papal
armies advanced, and, by fire and faggots, soon decided all
"Arnold and his assistants were, doubtless, of the number, who
did truth, and therefore came to the light, that their deeds might
be made manifest that they were wrought in God.' And their
adversaries were of those who hated light, and would not come to
it, lest their deeds should be reproved.'
"The recourse of the popish party to arms, in the room of
sober argumentation, was to pour contempt on the Word of God, and
to confess that its light was intolerably offensive to them. The
approach of crusaders, who, in the manner related, put an end to
the conference, was not an accident; for Innocent, who never
intended to decide the controversy by argument, on occasion of the
unhappy murder of the monk, before mentioned, had dispatched
preachers throughout Europe, to collect all, who were willing to
revenge the innocent blood of Peter of Chateauneuf; promising
paradise to those, who should bear arms for forty days, and
bestowing on them the same indulgence as he did on those, who
undertook to conquer the Holy Land. We moreover promise,' says he
in his bull, to all those who shall take up arms to revenge the
said murder, the pardon and remission of their sins. And since we
are not to keep faith with those, who do not keep it with God, we
would have all to understand, that every person who is bound to the
said earl Raymond by oath of allegiance, or by any other way, is
absolved by apostolical authority from such obligations; and it is
lawful for any Roman Catholic, to persecute the said earl, and to
seize upon his country,' etc.
"The tyrant proceeds in his bull: We exhort you, persecute
them with a strong hand: deprive them of their lands, and put Roman
Catholics in their room.' Such was the pope's method of punishing
a whole people for a single murder committed by Raymond.
"The French barons, incited by the motives of avarice which
Innocent suggested, undertook the whole work with vigor. The
Waldensian Christians then had no other part to act, after having
performed the duty of faithful subject and soldiers, but to suffer
with patience the oppressions of Antichrist. Three hundred
thousand men, induced by avarice and superstition, filled the
country, for several years with carnage and confusion. The scenes
of baseness, perfidity, barbarity, indecency and hypocrisy, over
which Innocent presided, can scarcely be conceived. These were
conducted, partly by his legates, and partly by the infamous earl
Simon of Monfort.
"The castle of Menerbe on the frontiers of Spain, for want of
water, was reduced to the necessity of surrendering to the pope's
legate. A certain abbott undertook to preach to those who were
found in the castle, and exhort them to acknowledge the pope. But
they interrupted his discourse, declaring his labor was to no
purpose. Earl Simon and the legate then caused a great fire to be
kindled, and burned 140 persons of both sexes. These martyrs died
in triumph, praising God that he had counted them worthy to suffer
for the sake of Christ. They opposed the legate to his face and
told Simon, that on the last day when the books should be opened,
he would meet with the just judgment for all his cruelties.
Several monks entreated them to have pity on themselves, and
promised them their lives, if they would submit to the popedom.
But the Christians loved not their lives to the death': only three
women of the company recanted.
"Another castle named Thermes, not far from Menerbe, in the
territory of Narbonne, was taken by Simon in the year 1210. This
place,' said Simon, is of all others the most execrable, because no
mass has been sung in it for 30 years.' A remark which gives us
some idea both of the stability and numbers of the Waldenses: the
very worship of popery, it seems, was expelled from that place.
The inhabitants made their escape by night, and avoided the
merciless hands of Simon.
"But the triumphing of the wicked is short: after he had been
declared sovereign of Toulouse, which he had conquered, the general
of the armies of the church, its son and its darling; after he has
oppressed and tyrannized over the Waldenses by innumerable
confiscations and exaction, he was slain in battle in the year
"Earl Raymond, died of sickness in the year 1222, in a state
of peace and prosperity, after his victory over Simon. No man was
ever treated with more injustice by the popedom. But nothing is
known of his character for knowledge and piety. His persecutor,
Innocent, died in 1216; and the famous Dominic in 1220.
"The Waldenses suffered sore and incessant persecutions from
the church of Rome, in many different parts of Europe, till the
time of the Reformation, and, in most instances, they endured them
with admirable patience and constancy.
"Thus largely did the King of saints' provide for the
instruction of his church, in the darkness of the middle ages. The
Waldenses are indeed the middle link which connects the primitive
Christians and fathers with the reformed; and by their means, the
proof is completely established that salvation, by the grace of
Christ, felt in the heart by the power of the Holy Ghost, and
expressed in the life, has ever existed from the time of the
apostles till this day; and that it is a doctrine marked by the
cross, and distinct from all that religion of mere form, which
calls itself Christian, but which wants the spirit of Christ." --
Townsend's Abridgment, pp. 416-423.
The General State of the Roman Church in the Thirteenth Century
"Though the narrative of the Waldesian transactions does not
belong exclusively to the thirteenth century, it is, however,
ascribed to it, because during this, the sect endured most cruel
persecutions, and experienced many severe conflicts, which
particularly excited the attention of all Europe.
"It was then a time of immense ignorance and wickedness.
True, the Aristotelean philosophy greatly prevailed; but it is by
all means, enlightened beyond measure. The most learned doctors,
with very few exceptions, were not, in their knowledge, many
degrees above the most ignorant and vulgar. The herd of students
foolishly employed themselves about the miserable transactions of
Aristotle, to no purpose. Their ambition was to appear learned in
the eyes of the senseless multitude. The Dominicans and Franciscans
were almost the only orders which devoted themselves to study . .
the deathbeds of the rich and great, and urged them to bequeath
immense legacies to their own orders. These gained much ground,
and till the time of the institution of the Jesuits were the
pillars of the papacy. Persecution of heretics, so called, formed
a great part of their employment. While the other orders had, by
their immoralities reduced themselves to contempt; these two
orders, having the semblance of worth, not the substance, revived
the authority of the Romish church, supported and strengthened
every reigning superstition, and by deep-laid plans of hypocrisy,
induced numbers to enrich both the papacy and monastic
establishments. These two orders, having obtained a decided
ascendency in England, arrogated to themselves great power. The
abject slavery and superstition, under which England then sunk,
appears, from a commission which Innocent IV gave to John the
Franciscan, in 1247, as follows: We charge you, that, if the major
part of the English prelates should make answer, then, by
ecclesiastical censures, to withdraw their appeals, any privilege
or indulgence notwithstanding.'
"So shameless were the popes, at this time, in their exactions
and so perfect was their dominion over mankind, that they grossly
defrauded the Franciscans themselves, and were not afraid of the
consequences. Men, who received not the testimony of Jesus Christ,
and refused submission to his easy yoke, were induced to kiss the
iron rod of the Italian tyrant.
"The greater part of Europe, had now forsaken the
all-important article of justification by the merit of Jesus Christ
alone through faith, and were entangled in the nets of pharisaical
religion, and readily betook themselves to numberless
superstitions, to give quiet and ease to their consciences. The
Waldenses found peace and comfort, and the expectation of heaven
through Jesus Christ alone by faith, and hence despised the whole
popedom with all its appendages; while others, who trembled in
conscience for their sins; and knew not the holy wisdom of resting
in Christ alone for salvation, might well swell with indignation at
the wickedness of the court of Rome, but durst not emancipate
themselves from its bonds. The power of the Pope was then but a
cement of wickedness which encouraged men with the hopes of heaven,
while living in superstition and the indulgence of the greatest
"In 1234, Pope Gregory IX, desirous of increasing the credit
of the popedom, by a bull directed to all Christendom, invited men
to assume the cross, and to proceed to the Holy Land. In this he
says, The service to which they are now invited is an EFFECTUAL
ATONEMENT for the miscarriages of a negligent life. The HOLY WAR
is a compendious method of discharging men from guilt, and
restoring them to the Divine favor. Even if they die on their
march, the intention will be taken for the
deed, and many may in this way be crowned without fighting.'
"In this, Gregory, in effect, opposed the doctrine of the
atonement of Christ, and in contempt of it, taught men to expect
justification from God, on the merit of military service, rendered
at the command of his [self-styled] Viceregent. In this way, the
human mind was removed from faith in Christ, and men were taught to
rely for pardon on the sovereign pontiff, and were led to imbibe
the fatal doctrines that wickedness might be committed, with the
flattering prospect of gaining the divine favor, without a
reformation of heart and life.
"The same general ignorance and superstition, the same vices
and immoralities, which predominated in the last century, abounded
in this. Real Christians were to be found only among the
Waldenses, or in those who worshiped God in obscurity. Various
other sects arose, who were cruelly persecuted by the popes and
emperors; but none appear to have professed the real doctrines, or
were influenced by the real spirit of Jesus. Some of them, both in
principles and practice, were the disgrace of human nature. But to
detail the narratives of fanaticism, with which most ecclesiastical
histories abound, is not the object of this work. The Church of
God, considered as a society, seems then to have existed only among
"There were numerous societies in this century, that suffered
extremely by the iron hand of power. Among all these, the
Waldenses, sometimes called Lollards, by the way of reproach, seem
perfectly distinguished, by their solid piety, sound scriptural
judgment, and practical godliness; and therefore they may justly be
accounted to have suffered for righteousness' sake; while the rest,
as far as certainty appears were martyrs of folly, turbulence, or
impiety." -- Townsend's Abridgment, pp. 423-425, 428-429.
Chapter 17 - THIRTEEN HUNDRED TO FOURTEEN HUNDRED A.D.
The Lollards and Other Protestants
"A bold and intrepid teacher was raised up among the Boghards,
or Picards, in 1315, in the person of Walter Lollard, who became an
eminent barb or pastor among them, and from whom the Waldenses were
called Lollards . . . Moreland asserts he was in great reputation
with the Waldenses, for having conveyed their doctrines into
England, where they prevailed over the kingdom . . . . Walter was
in unity of views in doctrine and practice with the Waldenses . .
death was highly detrimental to their affairs, but did not,
however, ruin their cause; for it appears they were supported by
men of rank and great learning, and continued their societies in
many provinces of Germany." -- Orchard, Bap. Hist., pp. 332, 333.
From Germany came the Sabbath-keeping brethren who founded the
Ephreta, Pa., colony, and to our time the truth of the commandments
of God has been kept before the world by the descendants of these
worthy children of God.
"About 1330 the people of God in Germany were grievously
harassed and oppressed by an inquisitor named Eachard, a Jacobin
monk. After inflicting cruelties for some time upon these people,
he was induced to investigate the causes and reasons of the
separation from the church of Rome." "The force of truth
ultimately prevailed over all his prejudices. His own conscience
attested that many of the errors and corruptions which they charged
on that apostate church really existed; and finding himself unable
to disprove the articles of their faith by the Word of God, he
confessed that truth had overcome him, gave glory to God, entered
into the communion of the Waldensian churches, which he had been
engaged in persecuting even to death. The news of his conversion
aroused the ire of the inquisitors. Emissaries were dispatched in
pursuit of him; he was at length apprehended and conveyed to
Heidelberg, where he was committed to the flames." -- Idem, pp.
In spite of the fact that Rome was ruthlessly on the trail of
every leader among the churches during this century, the truth
continued to prevail regardless of sword, fire, or dungeon. True
children of the Lamb were found throughout Europe, and especially
numerous in France, Italy, Germany and Bohemia.
According to the work of Benedict, there were 80,000 heretics
in Bohemia, who were called Waldenses, in the year 1315.
In the New Schaff Herzog Religious Encyclopaedia, article
Waldenses, page 243, it says they were determined to celebrate the
Lord's Supper yearly, and that in France it had been the custom of
these people to celebrate it yearly from an early time. This work
says further, "In Germany as well as in France, the Waldenses
celebrated the Lord's Supper yearly, between the years of thirteen
and fourteen hundred. In the Cottain Alps, on the other hand, as
well as in Provence, Apulia, Calabria, and middle Italy, this
independent celebration of the Lord's Supper continued much longer
than in France."
We have already noted that Benedict (History of Baptists, p.
308) speaks of separate and distinct societies of Sabbath-keeping
Lollards as early as A.D. 1389.
"The Waldenses taught that the Roman church departed from its
former sanctity and purity in the time of Constantine the Great:
they therefore refused to submit to the usurped authority of its
pontiff. They said that the prelates and doctors ought to imitate
the poverty of the apostles, and earn their bread by the labor of
their hands. They contended that the office of teaching,
confirming, and admonishing the brethren, belonged in some measure
to all Christians. Their discipline was extremely strict and
austere, for they interpreted Christ's discourse on the mount
according to the literal sense of the words, and they condemned
war, lawsuits, the acquisition of riches, capital punishments,
oaths, and (even) self-defense." -- Jones' Church History, page
Although this century witnesses much persecution against the
true children of God from the Roman apostates, yet God protected
them and preserved them, and permitted them to hold fast the truth
which had been preserved by their forefathers in the faith down
through the Dark Ages. It was to these
worthy brethren who, in an age of darkness, carried the Scriptural
truths down to the reformers of the succeeding centuries, that we
owe our sincere thanks for the truth thus preserved for us.
Chapter 18 - FOURTEEN HUNDRED TO FIFTEEN HUNDRED A.D.
The Climax of Popery
In the fifteenth century corruption in the Romish church
reached its greatest extent, and the work of the true children of
God within the Roman fold to clean up the apostate system, was more
than equalled by the ministry of the true Church of God without the
The Protestant Reformation, which will be more fully treated
in the following century, can be said to have begun in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries through the work of Walter
Lollard, Wycliffe, Huss, and others, and which work was taken up in
the following century by Luther, Knox, and others.
However, it must not be imagined that the true Church of God
was not witnessing against popery and its antichristian systems
during this time; for it was faithfully proclaiming the message
against Babylon, the call of the angel in Revelation, "Come out of
her, my people," during the entire age of darkness, and did not let
up even when the Reformers came forth from the Romish church, but
continued to boldly witness against the harlot mother of the Tiber.
Jones says: "But it is presumed the reader will have seen
enough in the preceding pages to satisfy him that the opinion,
which has so currently prevailed among us, of the almost total
extinction of the Christian profession in its purity, at the time
of, and for ages preceding, the Lutheran reformation, is altogether
a popular error." -- Jones' Church History, p. 324, ed. 1837.
It must not be thought, however, that the true church at the
dawn of the Reformation had lost its pristine purity, for it had
not, but still faithfully held to the commandments of God and the
faith of Jesus, which had in the beginning of the Gospel age been
delivered to the saints.
Benedict (History of the Baptists, p. 308) speaks of "separate
and distinct societies" of Sabbath-keeping churches, which were
known with the dawn of the Reformation.
Another direct and important testimony is found in a "Treatise
on the Sabbath," by Bishop White. Speaking of Sabbath-keeping as
opposed to the practice of the church and as heretical, he says:
"It was thus condemned in the Nazarenes and in the Corinthians
in the Ebionites and in the Hypsistarii. The ancient Synod of
Laodicea made decree against it, chap.29; also Gregory the Great
affirmed it was Judaical. In St. Bernard's days it was condemned
in the Petrobrussians. The same, likewise being revived in
Luther's time, by Carlstadt, Sternberg, and by some sectaries among
the Anabaptists, hath both then and ever since, been condemned as
Jewish and heretical." (P.8, London, 1635.) -- Lewis, Hist. S. &
S., p. 218.
In "Life of Milton," 2nd Edit., pp. 309, 319, is quoted from
Dr. Symmons note about the separateness of the Waldenses type of
Christians and the Protestant reformer type. Dr. Symmons says, "I
call them, as they are called in these official despatches, by the
generally-known name of Protestants; but the dissenters from the
papal church who occupied the valley of Piedmont, had neither
connection nor common origin with those who were properly called
Protestants from one of the first acts of their association in
Germany. The Waldenses asserted a much more ancient pedigree, and
assumed to be of the old Roman church before it was corrupted by
the papal innovations." -- Page 375, footnote, Jones' Church
History, ed. 1837.
"There were no priests among them, no quarrels about religious
worship, no lawsuits: they determined their differences among
themselves. None but those who repaired to the neighboring cities
knew that there existed any such things as mass or bishops. They
prayed to God in their own jargon, and being continually employed
they had the happiness to know no vice. . . . Such was the
tranquility which the Waldenses enjoyed (for above 200 years) when
the reformers of Germany and Geneva came to hear that there were
others of the same persuasion as themselves." -- Idem, p. 325.
We shall now endeavor to show through the following extracts
from historians of repute, as quoted in the book The Intervening
Hand of God, how the Lord has watched over and delivered His people
from the armed hosts of the adversary at the dawn of the
Deliverance from Armed Hosts
"Escaped the edge of the sword." -- Hebrews 11:34.
From one of the centuries when armed ecclesiasticism sought to
overrun and subdue every land where the plant of reformed truth was
taking root, come stories of deliverance that read like the
chapters out of the history of ancient Israel. As the Syrian army
before Samaria fled in panic, when the Lord "made the host of the
Syrians to here a noise of Chariots, and a noise of horses" (II
Kings 7:6), so, more than once, a supernatural terror set to flight
invading forces that had expected easy conquest.
The Panic-stricken Invaders
It was the old-time view of defending the truth for which Huss
was burned at Constance that led Bohemians who loved his memory to
take up arms to defend the truth of God. Luther caught the true
idea when, at the beginning of his work, he insisted that it was by
the Word of God alone that error was to be met. But a hundred
years before Luther, this truth was imperfectly recognized, and it
must be admitted that the carnal weapons were sometimes drawn in
essentially religious conflicts. However, at this special time it
was not an ordinary conflict over religion, but a vast scheme of
invasion of their whole land, that the Bohemian people were called
to meet. And evidently it was not to be allowed by Providence that
the forces of intolerance should overrun the region where the early
glimmerings of the light of reformation had begun to appear.
Pope Martin had organized a great crusade, which entered
Bohemia in June, 1427. Electors, princes, and counts led the
invading host, with a special papal legate in charge. The little
army of the Hussites, under Ziska, the "one-eyed," went out to meet
the invaders. The historian, J. A. Wylie, says: "They were now
within sight of them, and the two armies were separated only by the
river that flows past Meiss. The crusaders were in greatly
superior force, but instead of dashing across the stream, and
closing in battle with the Hussites whom they had come so far to
meet, they stood gazing in silence. . . . It was only for a few
moments that the invaders contemplated the Hussite ranks. A sudden
panic fell upon them. They turned and fled in the utmost
confusion. The legate was as one who awakens from a dream. His
labors were to be crowned with victory, suddenly vanished in a
shameful rout." -- History of Protestantism, book 3, chap. 17.
Urged on still by the Pope, a yet greater crusade was
organized and entered Bohemia in 1431, "chanting triumph" as they
marched. Wylie again says:
"The enemies were encamped near the town of Reisenberg. The
Hussites were not yet in sight, but the sounds of their approach
struck upon the ears of the Germans. The rumble of their wagons,
and their war-hymn chanted by the whole army as it marched bravely
forward to battle, were distinctly heard. Cardinal Cesarini and a
companion climbed a little hill to view the impending conflict.
Beneath them was the host which they expected soon to see engaged
in victorious fight. It was an imposing spectacle, this great army
of many nationalities, with its waving banners, its mail-clad
knights, its helmeted cavalry, its long lines of wagons, and its
`"The cardinal and his friend had gazed only a few minutes
when they were startled by a strange and sudden movement in the
host. As if smitten by some invisible power, it appeared all at
once to break up and scatter. The soldiers threw away their armor
and fled, one this way, another that; and the wagoners, emptying
their vehicles of their load, set off across the plain at full
"Struck with consternation and amazement, the cardinal hurried
down to the field, and soon learned the cause of the catastrophe.
The army had been seized with a mysterious panic. That panic
extended to the officers equally with the soldiers. The Duke of
Bavaria was one of the first to flee. He left behind him his
carriage, in the hope that its spoil might tempt the enemy and
delay their pursuit. Behind him, also in inglorious flight, came
the Elector of Brandenburg; and following close of the elector were
others of less note, chased from the field by this unseen terror.
The army followed, if that could be styled an army which so lately
had been a marshaled and bannered host, but was now only a rabble
rout, fleeing when no man pursued." -- Idem.
The comment of the historian Wylie expressed the conviction
that must come to every heart:
"There is something more in the facts we have related than the
courage inspired by the consciousness of a good cause, and the
feebleness and cowardice engendered by the consciousness of a bad
one. There is here the touch of a divine finger -- the infusion
of a preternatural terror." -- Idem.
"Armies of the Aliens" Put to Flight
In 1487 Pope Innocent VIII issued a decree, or bull of
extermination, against the Vaudois people of the Piedmont valleys
of Italy. Their consistent refusal to accept Romish doctrine, long
prior to the Reformation of the sixteenth century, had made them
objects of papal hatred.
The Inquisition had been refused permission to set up its
machinery of espionage and torture in the valleys, the people
turning its agents back by force of arms. This brought the papal
bull ordering total destruction.
Troops came in thousands, eighteen thousand regulars of France
and Piedmont, joined by a host of plunderers and brigands who were
after the spoils of the happy valley homes. Some of the accounts
of deliverance that saved the people from total destruction in this
first general persecution of the Vaudois, read like stories from
the days of Israel.
The campaign of massacre, watched by a legate named Cattanee
(or Cataneo), in behalf of the Pope, began in an attack on the
valley of Angrogna. The enemy was breaking the line of the Vaudois
defense, at a point behind which were the women and children and
aged. Dr. Mauston says:
"Seeing their defenders yield, these families threw themselves
upon their knees with many tears; women, and children, and old men
united together in fervently crying, `O Die aijutaci! O Lord help
us! O my God, save us!' This cry of prayer was the only cry which
broke from their heart in their distress, and arose to heaven. But
their enemies laughed at it, and seeing this company upon their
knees, hastened their advance. My fellows are coming -- they are
coming to give you your answer,' exclaimed one of their chiefs,
surnamed `The Blace of Mondovi,' because of his swarthy complexion;
and immediately, joining bravado to insult, he raised the visor of
his helmet, to show that he was not afraid to encounter the poor
people whom he insulted. But at the moment a steel-pointed arrow,
let fly by a young man of Angrogna, named Peter Revel, struck this
new Goliath with such violence that it penetrated into his skull,
between his eyes, and laid him dead. His troop, struck with
terror, fell back in disorder; a panic seized them; the Vaudois
took advantage of the moment, and impetuously rushed forward,
hurling their adversaries before them, and, eagerly continuing the
pursuit, swept them into the very plain, where they left them
vanquished and dispersed. Then, reascending to their families so
miraculously delivered, they likewise flung themselves upon their
knees, and all together gave thanks to the God of armies for the
victory which they had just gained." -- History of the Waldenses,
vol. I, pp. 33, 34.
But the invaders were by no means defeated; they had only been
turned back and angered. On they came the next day, fiercer than
ever. This time let Wylie tell the story:
"It seemed impossible for their prey to escape them.
Assembled on this spot, the Waldensian people had but one neck and
the papal soldiers, so Cataneo believed, were to sever that neck at
"But God was watching over the Vaudois. He had said of the
papal legate and his army, as of another tyrant of former days, `I
will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will
cause thee to return by the way which thou camest.' But by what
agency was the advance of that host to be stayed? Will some mighty
angel smite Cataneo's army, as he did Sennacherib's? No angel
blockaded the pass. Will thunderbolts and hailstones be rained
upon Cataneo's soldiers, as of old and Sisera's? The thunders
slept; the hail fell not. Will earhtquake and whirlwind discomfort
them? No earthquake rocked the ground; no whirlwinds rent the
mountains. The instrumentality now put in motion to shield the
Vaudois from destruction was one of the lightest and frailest in
all nature; yet no bars of adamant could have more effectually shut
the pass, and brought the march of the host to an instant halt.
"A white cloud, no bigger than a man's hand, unobserved by the
Peidmontese, but keenly watched by the Vaudois, was seen to gather
on the mountain's summit, about the time the army would be entering
the defile. That cloud grew rapidly bigger and blacker. It began
to descend. It came rolling down the mountain's side, wave on
wave, like an ocean tumbling out of heaven -- a sea of murky vapor.
It fell right into the chasm in which was the papal army, sealing
it up, and filling it from top to bottom with a thick, black fog.
In a moment the host were in night; they were bewildered,
stupefied, and could see neither before nor behind, could neither
advance nor retreat. They halted in a state bordering terror.
"The Waldenses interpreted this as an interposition of
Providence in their behalf. It had given them the power of
repelling the invader. Climbing the slopes of the Pra, and issuing
from all their hiding-places in its environs, they spread
themselves over the mountain, the paths of which were familiar to
them, and while the host stood riveted beneath them, caught in the
double toils of the defile and the mist, they tore up huge stones
and rocks, and sent them thundering down the ravine.
"The papal soldiers were crushed where they stood. Nor was
this all. Some of the Waldenses boldly entered the chasm, sword in
hand, and attacked them in front. Consternation seized the
Piedmontese host. Panic impelled them to flee, but their effort to
escape was more fatal than the sword of the Vaudois, or the rocks
that, swift as arrow, came bounding down the mountain. They
jostled one another; they threw each other down in the struggle;
some were trodden to death; others were rolled over the precipice,
and crushed on the rocks below, or drowned in the torrent, and so
perished miserably." -- History of the Waldenses, chapter 5.
"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal." The Reformation
history shows that it was by witnessing and suffering, and not by
fighting, that the light of truth was caused to shine. But in
these experiences of deliverance we see God's providence in keeping
alive the little band of witnesses in the Piedmont valleys until
the time of reformation should come.
A Covering Cloud
The Vaudois of the Piedmont valleys had been all but
exterminated. While the Reformation was spreading in Northern
Europe, the papal forces visited the Vaudois villages with fire and
sword. The remnant, driven out, had found refuge in Switzerland
and southern Germany. After several years of exile, they were
endeavoring to return to their homes. Spies sent into the valleys
had reported the fields untilled and the villages deserted; and now
a pioneer band of eight hundred men was making "the glorious
re-entry," as it was ever afterward called.
Against the assaults of their enemies, they had pressed on
from lake Geneva, through Savoy, near to their own country. But on
the slopes of a mountain called the Balsiglia, they were surrounded
by the French and Piedmont troops sent to make an end of them.
Their last stand apparently had been made, and now the enemy, with
artillery in position, rested as evening drew on, confident that
the next morning would deliver the little band to the slaughter.
"Never before had destruction appeared to impend so inevitably
over the Vaudois. To remain where they were was certain death, yet
whither could they flee? Behind them rose the unscalable
precipices of the Col du Pis, and beneath them lay the valley
swarming with foes. If they should wait till the morning broke, it
would be impossible to pass the enemy without being seen; and even
now, although it was night, the numerous camp fires that blazed
beneath them made it almost as bright as day.
"But the hour of their extremity was the time of God's
opportunity. Often before it had been seen to be so, but perhaps
never so strikingly as now. While they looked this way and that
way, but could discover no escape from the net that inclosed them,
the mist began to gather on the summits of the mountains around
them. They knew the old mantle that was wont to be cast around
their fathers in the hour of peril. It crept lower and yet lower
on the great mountains. Now it touched the supreme peak of the
Balsiglia. "Will it mock their hopes? Will it only touch, but not
cover, their mountain camp? Again it is in motion; downward roll
its white, fleecy billows, and now it hangs in sheltering folds
around the war-battered fortress and its handful of heroic
defenders. They dared not as yet attempt escape, for still the
watch-fires burned brightly in the valley. But it was only for a
few minutes longer. The mist kept its downward course, and now all
was dark. A Tartarean gloom filled the gorge of San Martino.
"At this moment, as the garrison stood mute, pondering
whereunto these things would grow, Captain Poulat, a native of
these parts, broke silence. He bade them be of good courage, for
he knew the paths, and would conduct them past the French and
Piedmontese lines, by a track known only to himself. Crawling on
their hands and knees, and passing close to the French sentinels,
yet hidden from them by the mist, they descended frightful
precipices, and made their escape. `He who has not seen such
paths,' says Arnaud in his `Rentree Glorieuse,' `cannot conceive
the danger of them, and will be inclined to consider my account of
the march a mere fiction. But it is strictly true; and I must add,
the place is so frightful that even some of the Vaudois themselves
were terror-struck when they saw by daylight the nature of the spot
they had passed in the dark.'
"When the day broke, every eye in the plain below was turned
to the Balsiglia. That day the four hundred ropes which Catinat
had brought with him were to be put in requisition, and the
feux-de-joie so long prepared were to be lighted at Pinerolo.
Vaudois had escaped and were gone, and might be seen upon the
distant mountains, climbing the snows, far out of the reach of
their would-be captors. Well might they sing,
"Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the
The snare is broken, and we are escaped." -- History of
Protestantism, book 16, chap. 15.
They reached their own valley of the Pra del Tor, and to their
joy found, all unexpectedly, agents of the Duke of Savoy, their
prince, with a message of good will, giving authority to bring back
their families and fellow believers from all places whither they
fled. Thus again the Waldensian people found homes among the
mountains that had hidden their fathers away from Rome's wrath in
the days of old.
Chapter 19 - FIFTEEN HUNDRED TO SIXTEEN HUNDRED A.D.
The Protestant Reformation
The sixteenth century is the reformation period of the Roman
Church. During this century Martin Luther came forth from the
Roman system, and with him many of the leaders of the Reformation
in various countries. Many historians, in error, trace the history
of the true church of God from the days of the apostles to the
apostasy after the death of the apostles and disciples, and then
assume that she was within the fold of the Roman church until the
time of the Reformation, not realizing that God had protected the
true church, and kept her separate and distinct from the apostate
system during the entire Dark Ages, at the time of the rule of the
That the true church was in existence and distinct from the
Reformers at the beginning of the Reformation, we may be assured
from the following testimony of Jones:
"An attentive reader of the works of Luther and associates
will easily perceive, that their minds labored under a somewhat
similar mistake as to their own case. It was not without surprise
they learned that there were numbers around them, in every country
for a reform. It may also be added that Protestants in every
succeeding age have but too implicitly imbibed their error. The
blessed Lord hath never left Himself without witnesses in the
world, and even during the reign of Antichrist, a period of the
most general and awful defection from the purity of His worship, He
had reserved to Himself thousands and tens of thousands of such as
kept His commandments and faith of Jesus. Nor is there anything in
this to occasion our surprise. The real followers of Christ are
subjects of a kingdom that is not of this world; and, having no
national establishments, nor aiming at worldly power, their
principles and conduct have seldom been thought of as worthy of
regard by the world, except in so far as their public testimony
against it has subjected them to persecution. The true profession
of Christianity leads its friends to cultivate peace and union
among themselves, and, like its divine Author, to avoid all
turbulence and faction in the state." -- Jones' Church History, p.
326, ed. 1837.
The Waldenses of Piedmont, in making petition to their
sovereign for mercy from their persecutors, about 1559, made the
following statement in their appeal: "They implored his highness
to consider that their religious profession was not a thing of
yesterday, as their adversaries falsely reported, but had been the
profession of their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers,
yea, of their predecessors of still more ancient times, even of the
martyrs, confessors, apostles, and prophets; and they called upon
their adversaries to prove the contrary if they were able.
Persuaded, therefore, as they were, that their religion was not a
human invention, but founded upon the Word of God, which shall
remain forever, they were confident that no human force would be
able to extinguish it." -- Idem, p. 354.
"The Reformers (Luther, Calvin, Knox, and others) with all
their zeal and learning, were babes in spiritual knowledge when
compared with the Waldenses, particularly in regard to the nature
of the kingdom of Christ, and its institutions, laws, and worship
in general." -- Idem, p. 326.
"Four Bibles produced under Waldensian influence touched the
history of Calvin: namely, a Greek, a Waldensian vernacular, a
French, and an Italian. Calvin himself was led to his great work
by Olivetan, a Waldensian. Thus was the Reformation brought to
Calvin, that brilliant student of the Paris University." --
Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, p. 37.
Luther said of the Waldenses "that among them he had found one
thing worthy of admiration, a thing unheard of in the popish
church, that, laying aside the doctrines of men, they meditated in
the law of God day and night, and that they were expert, and even
well versed, in the knowledge of the Scriptures." -- Jones' Church
History, p. 263.
"In A.D. 1530 one of the pastors of the Waldenses, George
Morel, published the memoir of his church. He said there were then
800,000." -- Idem, p. 440.
That these Waldensian descendants were the people of the true
Church of God, and still retained her distinctive doctrines, and
observed the seventh day as the Sabbath, as a part of the
commandments of God, we have the following authoritative
"Erasmus (1466-1536) wrote of Sabbatarians in Bohemia early in
the Reformation, `Descendants of the Waldenses in Bohemia and
Holland formed material for Sabbath-keeping churches, which
appeared with the dawn of the Reformation.'" -- History by Lewis,
Chambers' Cyclopedia states that "many conscientious and
independent thinkers in the reign of Elizabeth (1558-1603)
advocated the seventh day."
The Sabbath Recorder of June 11, 1868, says: "In 1552 many in
England were known as Sabbatarians."
Luther himself, while it is said believed in and practiced the
observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, did not prescribe it in his
articles of faith for his followers, in the copies that we now have
access to. However, it has been said that in his original thesis,
Luther advocated the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, but
that his colleagues objected on the grounds that it was an
unpopular doctrine, which would have a tendency to repulse
supporters of the Reformation who were not as pious as they should
have been, but were of great assistance against the usurpations of
Luther in his works has written of his belief in the Sabbath
"The Sabbath was before the Law of Moses came, and has existed
from the beginning of the world. Especially have the devout, who
have preserved the true faith, met together and called upon God on
this day." -- Luther's Work, XXXV, p. 330.
As the Reformation became a success, many from among the
ancient Waldensian churches of God were drawn over to the bodies of
believers coming out of Rome's system under the Reformers, and left
the main tenets of the faith held so dear by the Waldensian
churches; but the Church of God itself, made up of the faithful who
knew and practiced the truths maintained at the price of the lives
of their foreparents in past centuries, kept the true gospel free
from the corruptions that crept into doctrines of the new sects
through the Reformers who came from among the Roman clergy.
The Baptist Cyclopedia (1881), states: "In 1530, according to
Du Pin, the Waldenses united with Reformers, and were persuaded to
renounce certain peculiarities which heretofore they held, and to
receive doctrines which till then had been foreign to their creed.
This new arrangement harmonized the reformations of the twelfth and
"In the middle of the sixteenth century the breath of
Protestantism from the north began to move over these Italian
colonies. The pastors who visited them told them of the synod
which had been held in Angrogna in 1532, and which had been as `the
beginning of months' to the ancient church of the valleys. More
glorious tidings still did they communicate to the Christians of
Calabria. In Germany, in France, in Switzerland, and in Denmark
the old gospel had blazed forth in a splendor unknown to it for
ages. The Lamp of the Alps was no longer the one solitary light in
the world: around it was a circle of mighty torches whose rays,
blending with those of the old luminary, were combining to dispel
the night from Christendom." -- Wylie, History of the Waldenses, p.
Church Tribulations of the Past
"Jan Everts of Deventer was put to death at Middelburg, in the
year 1535. He had been baptized at Hague by Meynart, a teacher of
the church. He further confessed that his wife had been baptized
at Delft, by Obbo of Leeuwarden; that for four years he had not
gone to the sacrament of confession; that he did not believe God
was himself present in the sacrament of the altar, but that it was
only useful as a memorial of the sufferings and death of our Lord.
The customs and institutions of the Church of Rome he did not
esteem; and those of his fellow-believers whom he had seen put to
death at Amsterdam, he held to be Christians, and as Christians had
died. When promised forgiveness if he would repent, he steadfastly
refused. Thus another witness of the truth was added to the
martyred host of the Lamb.
"It has already been observed that a large emigration,
numbering some thousands of the persecuted of the Tyrol,
Switzerland, Austria, Styria, and Bavaria, took place about the
year 1530, under the guidance of Jacob Hutter. The exiles found a
refuge in Moravia. Soon after their settlement, King Frederic
ordered their expulsion; but by the persuasion of the marshal, and
from the expressed resolution of the people to make common cause
with the refugees, the edict was withdrawn. Places of worship were
now erected, farms purchased, the mutual advantages of commerce
enjoyed, and families bound together by the closest and most
endearing ties. Their numbers multiplied. The oppressed of many
lands sought refuge and liberty of conscience in this land of
peace. Again, an edict was issued for their expulsion, and its
command sustained by military force. Time was, however, allowed
for moving their removable property; but no entreaties prevailed to
obtain permission for them to inhabit the villages they had built,
or to reap the fruits of the harvest they had sown. They offered
to pay tribute for their possessions, and for the enjoyment of
liberty to worship God; but the offer was rejected, and they were
mercilessly driven away.
"The dense forests on the confines of Moravia afforded them a
hiding place. Amid the dark alleys and shades, the minds of the
wanderers were animated to patience, constancy, piety and devotion,
by the exhortations of their leader. `Be ye thankful unto God,' ran
the words of Hutter, that ye are counted worthy to suffer
persecutions and cruel exile for his name. These are the rewards of
the elect in the prison-house of this world, the proofs of your
heavenly Father's approbation. Thus did his people Israel suffer in
Egypt, in exile, and in persecutions: some in torments, in
sufferings, and in martyrdoms, enjoyed the favor of their Lord.
Sadness be far from you; put aside all grief and sorrow, reflect
how great the rewards awaiting you for the afflictions ye now
endure.' Hutter further addressed the following epistle to the
marshal, in the name of all." -- Martyrology, London.
Address of Hutter to Marshal of Moravia, About 1530
From Martyrology, an old book by Brother George Van of London:
"We brethren who love God and his word, the true witnesses of
our Lord Jesus Christ, banished from many countries for the name of
God and for the cause of divine truth, and have hither come to the
land of Moravia, having assembled together and abode under your
jurisdiction, through the favor and protection of the most high
God, to whom alone be praise, and honor, and laud for ever: we beg
you to know, honored ruler of Moravia, that your officers have come
unto us, and have delivered your message and command, as indeed is
well known to you. Already have we given a verbal answer, and now
we reply in writing: viz., that we have forsaken the world, an
unholy life, and all iniquity. We believe in Almighty God, and in
his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who will protect us henceforth and
for ever in every peril, and to whom we have devoted our entire
lives, and all that we possess, to keep his commandments, and to
forsake all unrighteousness and sin. Therefore we are persecuted
and despised by the whole world, and robbed of all our property, as
was done aforetime to the holy prophets, and even to Christ
himself. By King Ferdinand, the prince of darkness, that cruel
tyrant and enemy of divine truth and righteousness, many of our
brethren have been slaughtered and put to death without mercy, our
property seized, our fields and homes laid waste, ourselves driven
into exile, and most fearfully persecuted.
"After these things we came into Moravia, and here for some
time have dwelt in quietness and tranquillity, under thy
protection. We have injured no one, we have occupied ourselves in
heavy toil to which all men can testify. Notwithstanding, with thy
permission, we are driven by force from our possessions, and our
homes. We are now in the desert, in woods, and under the open
canopy of heaven: but this we patiently endure, and praise God that
we are counted worthy to suffer for His name. Yet for your sakes we
grieve that you should thus so wickedly deal with the children of
God. The righteous are called to suffer; but alas! woe, woe, to all
those who without reason persecute us for the cause of divine
truth, and inflict upon us so many and so great injuries, and drive
us from them as dogs and brute beasts. Their destruction, and
punishment, and condemnation draw near, and will come upon them in
terror and dismay, both in this life, and in that which is to come.
For God will require at their hands the innocent blood which they
have shed, and will terribly vindicate his saints according to the
words of the prophets.
"And now that you have with violence bidden us forthwith to
depart into exile, let this be our answer. We know not any place
where we may securely live; nor can we longer dare here to remain
for hunger and fear. If we turn to the territories of this or that
sovereign, everywhere we find an enemy. If we go forward, we fall
into the jaws of tyrants and robbers, like sheep before the
ravening wolf and raging lion. With us are many widows, and babes
in their cradle, whose parents that most cruel tyrant and enemy of
divine righteousness, Ferdinand, gave to the slaughter, and whose
property he seized. These widows and orphans, and sick children,
committed to our charge by God, and whom the Almighty hath
commanded us to feed, to clothe, to cherish, and to supply all
their needs, who cannot journey with us, nor, unless otherwise
provided for, can long live -- these, we dare not abandon. We may
not overthrow God's law to observe man's law although it cost gold,
and body and life. On their account we cannot depart; but rather
than they should suffer injury we will endure extremity, even to
the shedding of our blood.
Besides, here we have houses and farms, the property that we have
gained by the sweat of our brow, which in the sight of God and men
are our just possession: to sell them we need time and delay. Of
this property we have urgent need in order to support our wives,
widows, orphans, and children, of whom we have a great number, lest
they die of hunger. Now we lie in the broad forest, and if God
will, without hurt. Let but our own be restored to us, and we will
live as we have hitherto done, in peace and tranquillity. We desire
to molest no one; nor to prejudice our foes, not even Ferdinand the
king. Our manner of life, our customs and conversation, are known
everywhere to all. Rather than wrong any man of a single penny, we
would suffer the loss of a hundred gulden; and sooner than strike
our enemy with the hand, much less with spear, or halbert, as the
world does, we would die and surrender life. We carry no weapon,
neither spear nor gun, as is clear as the open day; and they who
say that we have gone forth by thousands to fight, they lie and
impiously traduce us to our rulers. We complain of this injury
before God and man, and grieve greatly that the number of the
virtuous is so small. We would that all the world were as we are,
and that we could bring and convert all men to the same belief,
then should all war and unrighteousness have an end" -- From
Chapter 20 - SIXTEEN HUNDRED TO SEVENTEEN HUNDRED A.D.
Darkness Before Dawn
The seventeenth century marks the crisis of persecution
against the true people of God. In the ancient nations of Europe
the saints of God were scattered, preserving the true faith,
keeping the commandments of God, and living exemplary lives in the
valleys and hills of the continent. The time came, however, when
the land became more thickly settled, and the enemies of the truth
were pressed against the settlements of the true children of God,
and persecutions became more intense. The result was that these
saints were driven from nation to nation, but finding no lasting
asylum as the hordes of Rome followed them. The following extracts
will serve to manifest the spirit of persecution and the state of
despair confronting the saints in this century.
In a letter from Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of
England, 1665, to the Lords of the United Provinces, in defense of
the Waldenses then persecuted in the provinces of the duke of
Savoy, we note the following: "But if, on the other hand, he shall
continue firmly resolved utterly to destroy and to drive to a state
of distraction those men, among whom our religion was either
planted by the first preachers of the gospel, and so maintained in
its purity from age to age, or else reformed and restored to its
primitive purity more early than among many other nations, we
hereby declare ourselves ready to advise, in common with you, and
the rest of our brethren and allies of the reformed religion, by
what means we may most conveniently provide for the preservation
and comfort of these distressed people." _ Jones' Church History,
p. 380, ed. 1837.
Again to the Evangelical Cantons of Switzerland, Cromwell
says, "Next to the help of God, it seems to devolve on you, to
provide that the most ancient stock of pure religion may not be
destroyed in this remnant of its ancient professors. . . ." --
Idem, p. 390.
Some refugees from Tyrol valley gave this account of
themselves to citizens of Coire in Switzerland in 1685:
They were "a remnant of the old Waldenses. They worshiped
neither images nor saints, and they believed the sacrament (of the
Lord's Supper) was only a commemoration of the death of Christ; and
in many other points they had their opinions different from those
of the church of Rome. They knew nothing of either Lutherans or
Calvinists; and the Grisons, though their neighbors, had never
heard of this nearness of theirs to the Protestant religion." _
Idem, p. 413.
In 1603 an explanatory declaration was made by the Waldenses
in refutation of the false accusation of the Romanists against
them. "It begins by stating, that, from time immemorial, and from
generation to generation, the same doctrines and religious
profession had been maintained by their predecessors in the
Marquisate of Saluces . . . ." -- Idem, p. 364.
The Waldenses made petition to the duke of Savoy for
protection from their enemies, asking permission to follow their
faith learned from their ancestors. "This petition was seconded by
the duchess of Savoy, who was a merciful princess, and had great
power over the affections of the duke, it being ever her judgment
that this people were not to be so severely used, who had not
changed their religion a few days ago, but had been in possession
of it from their ancestors so many ages." -- Idem, p. 356.
During all these persecutions, however, God was very near His
true children, and His intervening hand was readily apparent in
their distresses, as they called upon Him. The following gleaning
will show examples of God's care over His own.
The Need Supplied
"How often, in times of distress, has God shown His watchful
care by impressing some unknown agent to act as His messenger to a
child of His in need! Andrew Duncan, of Scotland, had been regent
of St. Leonard's College. He was at one time banished to France for
his religious convictions, and now, in the days of 1621, as a
minister at Crail, he was banished from the Scottish kingdom for
nonconformity. He went, with his family, over the English border to
"They were reduced to great hardship. One night in particular,
the children asking for bread, and there being none to give them,
they cried very sorely: the mother was likewise very much depressed
"The minister himself had recourse sometimes to prayer, and in
the intervals endeavored to cherish his wife's hope, and please the
children, and at last got them to bed; but she continued to mourn
"He exhorted her to wait patiently upon God, who was now
trying them, but would undoubtedly provide for them; and added,
that if the Lord should rain down bread from heaven they should not
"This confidence was the more remarkable, because they had
neither friend nor acquaintance in that place to whom they could
make their case known.
"And yet before morning a man brought them a sackful of
provision, and went off without telling them from whence it came,
though entreated to do so. When the father opened the sack, he
found in it a bag (purse) with twenty pounds Scots, two loaves of
bread, a bag of flour, another of barley, and such like provisions;
and having brought the whole to his wife he said: See what a good
Master I serve.'" -- Scots Worthies, p. 279.
"Again, when Mrs. Duncan was sick and sore in need, and they
knew not where to turn, a lady came, -- a gentlewoman,' the old
record says, -- evidently of means, bringing needed supplies and
comforts with her, and herself rendering the help so sorely needed
in the hour that brought another little one into the family. The
messenger of mercy left them, leaving no hint of her identity, or
of the means by which she had been led to come to their aid. Andrew
Duncan could only leave on the record his testimony to God's care
for His children in distress.
"The old writer Wodrow, historian of the Covenanter times,
tells of James Hamilton, minister at Edinburgh, who was ousted, and
reduced to `very great straits' at Mortounhall.
"One night his wife and family and he had no more meal than
they got their supper of, and yet he still kept up his confidence
in God. That night Sir James Stewart, of Gutters, who lived not far
from him, but knew nothing particular of his present straits, told
his lady, when in her bed, that he was troubled in his mind about
Mr. Hamilton; and again and again it was borne upon him that he was
in straits; and caused his lady to rise out of her bed and give
orders to the servants early next morning to carry a load of meal
to Mortounhall, which was accordingly done, and it came most
seasonably." -- Analecta, Vol. 1, p. 91.
"Such were the men thy hills who trod,
Strong in the love and fear of God,
Defying, through a long dark hour,
Alike the craft and rage of power."
"Who can follow the story of these men and women who witnessed
amid trial, in those sad times of mistaken and cruel zeal for
state-enforced religion, and not recognize again the hand of
watchful Providence, stretched forth in hours of human extremity
and need? Even so in gentler times may the same dear hand lead us
"O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till the night is
gone." -- The Intervening Hand.
The "New World" had been opened up to emigrants from Europe
for colonization, and the persecuted saints known by various names
in history, fled to America for a haven of safety. The Pilgrims,
the Puritans, the Quakers, had scattered among them the true Church
of God, and carried with them to the shores of the New World the
faith once delivered unto the saints, and preserved by their
foreparents by the price of blood in the wildernesses of Europe.
The churches in the nations of Europe were literally destroyed
in this century, and the history of them as churches can truly be
said to have ceased, with a few notable exceptions, which we shall
consider under the title of the Church of God in the British Isles.
Jones says of the extermination of the churches of the
Waldenses in the Piedmont valleys:
"I professed to give the history of the churches of Piedmont
and other places commonly designated as Waldenses and Albigenses,
not of individuals; and as I considered these churches to have been
utterly dispersed and scattered by a series of persecutions which
terminated in the year 1686, I consider myself to have brought the
subject to its legitimate close." -- Jones' Church Hist., Preface,
page IX, ed. 1837.
The reader will note with interest the closing remarks of the
historian regarding these people. How, because of the bitter
persecutions in Europe, the church was utterly scattered and
dispersed until he considered his subject to its legitimate close.
This persecution was following the year 1600, and it was during
this very same period that the Pilgrims were coming to America to
escape persecution, and when according to the Revelation of Jesus,
chapter 12:16, that "The earth helped the woman," the church. It
was to America, the land of religious freedom, that the people
known to the world as Waldenses, Puritans, Anabaptists, Lollards,
etc., were fleeing from persecution, and who were in general known
by the scriptural name, "The Church of God."
How the Lord Fed and Protected His Church
We will now relate a few of the wonderful manifestations of
God's intervening power in behalf of His true commandment keeping
people, in times of distress and danger.
These nonconformists were spoken of as such because they would
not conform to the Episcopal church, which at that time had been
recognized as the state church of England. These nonconformist
people stood for the Word of God in its purity, with the
commandments of God and the faith of Jesus as their creed. Numerous
testimonies elsewhere tell of their loyalty to the name and true
faith of the Church of God.
How Matthew Warren Escaped
Matthew Warren was a scholar of Oxford, England. Being one of
the non-conforming ministers, he was often sought by the
authorities, and when silenced as a minister, devoted himself to
educating youth for the ministry. Calamy reports:
"At one time he was very remarkably and providentially
preserved. His wife had a strange impression upon her mind that if
he did not remove till such a time from the house to which he had
retired (he being away from home), he would certainly be taken
prisoner. Accordingly she sent a messenger with a letter, earnestly
begging him to be at home by such a time, or else he might never
see her more.
"He, imagining it was her indisposition, and not the fear of
his danger, that was the cause of her urgency, immediately took
leave of his friends, and went homeward. But he was not far from
the house before, looking back from an ascent, he saw it surrounded
by persons that were sent to search there for him." --
Nonconformists' Memorial, Vol. II, p. 350.
John Nofworthy's Experience
John Nofworthy was also an Oxford man, who lived in
Devenshire. Driven out for nonconforming, he was hunted from prison
to prison by persecuting officials. Calamy says: "He was several
times reduced to great straits; but he `encouraged himself in the
Lord his God,' and exhorted his wife to do the same. Once when he
and his family had breakfasted, and had nothing left for another
meal, his wife lamented her condition, and said, `What shall I do
with my poor children?'
"He persuaded her to take a walk abroad with him; and seeing
a little bird, he said: `Take notice how that little bird sits and
chirps, though we cannot tell whether it has been at breakfast; and
if it has, it knows not whether to go for dinner. Therefore be of
good cheer, and do not distrust the providence of God; for are we
not "better than many sparrows"?"' -- Idem, Vol. I, p. 381.
"Before the time came for dinner, true to the preacher's
faith, sufficient provisions for the daily need had been sent in to
them from an unknown source."
Hanserd Knollys in London
"Be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I
will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. " -- Hebrews 13:5.
This promise was food and deliverance to Hanserd Knollys, one
of the most eminent of the early English dissenters, at a time when
he and his family were in distress. The incident here related
occurred in London, after his return from America, whence he had
fled for a time to escape imprisonment. He was still under the ban
of the authorities, and ministry of the word was attended with
peril. Of the deliverance that came in the crisis of his family's
need, as he pleaded the promise of God, Knollys says:
"I was still poor and sojourned in a lodging till I had but
sixpence left, and knew not how to provide for my wife and child.
Having prayed to God and encouraged my wife to trust in Him, and to
remember former experiences, and especially that word of promise,
`I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,' I paid for my lodging
and went out, not knowing whither God's good hand would lead me to
receive something toward my present subsistence.
"About seven or eight doors from my lodgings a woman met me in
the street, and told me she came to seek me, and her husband had
sent her to tell me that there was a lodging provided and prepared
at his house by some Christian friends for me and my wife. I told
her of my present condition, and went along with her to the house.
There she gave me twenty shillings which Dr. Bostock, a late
sufferer, had given her for me, and some linen for my wife, which
I received, and told her husband I would fetch my wife and child
and lodge there.
"I returned with great joy. and my wife was greatly affected
with this seasonable and suitable supply. After we had returned
praises to God, we went to our new lodgings, where we found all
things necessary provided for us, and all charges paid for fifteen
weeks." -- Divine Government, by Higgens.
A Child the Agent of Deliverance
"In the times when ministers in England were being ejected
from the state churches for nonconformity, in 1662, a Mr. Rogers
was expelled from his church. He lived near a persecuting
magistrate, Sir Richard Craddock. Being very bitter against
dissenters, the magistrate set spies to watch Mr. Rogers, and was
glad when he could summon him for preaching at a place near by. The
preacher, and several of his friends who attended the service, were
condemned to prison. The magistrate was in another room making out
"Sir Richard had a little granddaughter, who had met Mr.
Rogers and had been petted by him. She was a willful child, so
hysterically impatient of restraint that she had once injured
herself with a knife when contradicted. On this account, through
fear that she would do something desperate, Sir Richard had given
orders that she should be given her own way in everything. She came
in and learned that her friend was to be sent to prison." The
account, as given in Calamy's Nonconformists' Memorial, continues:
"She ran immediately to the chamber where her grandfather was
and knocked with her head and heels till she got in, and said,
`What are you going to do with my good old gentleman here in the
"`That is nothing to you,' said her grandfather: `get you
about your business.'
"`But I will not,' she said; `he tells me you are going to
send him and his friends to jail; and if you send him, I will drown
myself in the pond as soon as they are gone; I will indeed.'
"When he saw the child was peremptory, it overcame him. He
stepped into the hall, with mittimus in his hand, and said,
"`I had here made out your mittimus to send you all to jail,
but at my grandchild's request, I set you all at liberty.'
"They all bowed and thanked him. Mr. Rogers stepped up to the
child and laid his hand upon her head, and lifting up his eyes to
heaven, said: `God bless you, my dear child: May the blessing of
that God whose cause you now plead, though as yet you know Him not,
be upon you in life, at death, and throughout eternity.'
"Many years after that, when Mr. Rogers had died, his son,
Timothy Rogers, known as an author of a book on religious
melancholy, was visiting the home of a Mrs. Tooley, of London, a
lady famous in that day for her hospitality to religious workers.
Here he told the story of his father's deliverance. Mrs. Tooley
listened with great interest, and said, `And are you that Mr.
"`Yes, madam,' he answered.
"`Well,' she said, `as long as I have been acquainted with
you, I never knew that before. And now I will tell you something
you never knew before: I am the very girl your dear father blessed.
It made an impression upon me I could never forget.'
"Then she told her story. She had inherited her grandfather's
estate, and as a young girl had followed all the fashionable
gayeties of the world. But there was no satisfaction in it. At the
ancient Roman town of Bath, in the west of England, where she was
visiting the springs for pleasure and health, an old doctor got her
to promise to read the New Testament for her health. It made her
only the more uneasy. Back to London she went.
"One night she had a dream about being in a place of worship,
and she was so impressed that she told her lady companion that she
was going to search for the church she saw in her dream. Sunday
morning they started out and passed a number of churches. They came
at last to the narrow lane called the Old Jewry, off Cheapside, and
saw a throng of people going as if to church. The account
"She mixed herself among them, and they carried her to the
meetinghouse, in the Old Jewry. So soon as she had entered the door
and looked about, she turned to her companion and said, This is the
very place I saw in my dream.' She had not long stood, till Mr.
Shower, minister of the place, went up into the pulpit; as soon as
she looked on him, she said, `This is the very man I saw in my
dream; and if every part of it hold true, he will take for his
text, "Return unto thy rest, O my soul." When he arose to pray, she
was all attention, and every sentence went to her heart. Then he
took for his text that very passage; and there God met her in a
saving manner; and she at last gained what she had long sought in
vain elsewhere -- rest in Christ to her troubled soul."
-- Vol. 1,
pp. 381-385, Nonconformists' Memorial.
How Dr. Stennett Escaped Conviction
"Dr. Edward Stennett was a nonconformist minister, in those
times of nonconformist repression; a physician he was also. by
which profession he supported his family. His son, Joseph Stennett,
became a well-known London preacher. To the published Work of
Joseph Stennett (London, 1732), some writer prefaces an account of
Dr. Edward Stennett, who spent a considerable time in prison for
the cause of conscience and religion.' `While I speak of his
sufferings,' says this writer, `it may not be amiss to preserve an
account of one very extraordinary deliverance he met with, which I
have heard his son relate.'" The account follows:
"He dwelt in the castle of Wallingford, a place where no
warrant could make forcible entrance, but that of a chief justice;
and the house was so situated that assemblies could meet, and every
part of religious worship be exercised in it without any danger of
a legal conviction, unless informers were admitted, which care was
taken to prevent; so that for a long time he kept a constant and
undisturbed meeting in his hall.
"`A gentleman who was in the commission of the peace, and his
very near neighbor, being highly incensed at the continuance of an
assembly of this kind so near him, after having made several
fruitless attempts to get his emissaries admitted into the house of
order to a conviction, in the rage of disappointment, resolved,
together with a neighboring clergyman, upon doing it by
subordination of witnesses.
"`They accordingly hired some persons fit for their purpose,
to swear they had been at those assemblies, and heard prayer and
preaching there, though they had never been in the house on those
occasions. The clergyman's conduct in this affair was the more
censured because he had professed a great friendship for Mr.
Stennett, and was under considerable obligations to him, having
often had his assistance in the way of his profession, as a
physician for his family, without any reward.
"`Mr. Stennett, finding an indictment was laid against him on
the Conventicile Act, founded upon the oaths of several witnesses,
and being well assured that nothing but perjury could support it,
was resolved to traverse it, and accordingly did so.
"`The assizes were held at Newbury; and when the time drew
near, there was great triumph in the success the gentlemen proposed
to themselves, when of a sudden the scene was changed.
"`News came to the justice that his son, whom he had lately
placed at Oxford, was gone off with a player; the concern whereof,
and the riding in search of him, prevented his attendance in the
"`The clergyman, a few days before the assizes, boasted much
of the service which would be done to the church and the
neighborhood by his prosecution, and of his own determination to be
at Newbury to help carry it on; but to the surprise of many his
design was frustrated by sudden death.
"`One of the witnesses, who lived at Cromish, was also
prevented, by being seized with a violent and sad disease, of which
he died. Another of them fell down and broke his leg, and so was
"In short, of seven or eight persons engaged in this wicked
design, there was but one left who was capable of appearing. He
was a gardener, who had been frequently employed by Mr. Stennett at
day labor, but never lodged in his house, nor was admitted to the
religious assemblies held there. They thought to make him, as he
was a servant to the family, a very natural evidence, and kept him
in liquor for several days for that purpose.
"`But coming to his reason just as the assizes drew on, he
went about the town exclaiming against himself for his ingratitude
and perjury, as well as against those who had employed him; and
absolutely refused to go. So that when Mr. Stennett came to
Newbury, neither prosecutor nor witness appearing against him, he
Dr. Stennett, his son Joseph, and the grandson Samuel were all
nonconformist ministers, and all Sabbatarians -- observers of the
seventh-day Sabbath. Joseph Stennett was the author of the
"Majestic sweetness sits enthroned
Upon the Savior's brow."
The Stennetts were members of the Sabbatarian Millyard Church,
London. He also wrote the hymn found in many collections,
"Another six days' work is done,
Another Sabbath is begun;
Return, my soul, enjoy thy rest,
Improve the day that God has blessed."
Evil Intent Turned to Good
Nicolas Thoroughgood, a scholar of Cambridge, had been a
merchant and a traveler. Becoming a minister, he went out of the
state church with the two thousand other nonconforming ministers,
and endured privation with them. "In his diary," says Calamy, "he
recorded a variety of remarkable providences in the course of his
life, of which he takes notice with great thankfulness." Here is
an account of one of these deliverances from an enemy:
"When Mr. Thoroughgood came to the place, he offered
(endeavored) to shoot him, but his piece failed, and only flashed
in the pan. The next week he lay in the same place and with the
intent. When Mr. Thoroughgood was come up, the wretch offered to
fire again, but the piece would not go off. Upon this, his
conscience accusing him for such a wickedness, he went after him,
and falling down on his knees, with tears in his eyes, related the
whole to him, and begged his pardon. Thus providence was the means
of his conversion; and he became from that time a serious, good
man." -- Nonconformists' Memorial, by Calamy, Vol. II, p. 76.
Relief in Time of Extremity
Another deliverance of these times is thus narrated in an old
volume, Life of Oliver Heywood, by J. Fawcett. We read:
"The minister Oliver Heywood, B.D., in a time of great
persecution, was ejected from Coley Chapel, near Halifax, in
Yorkshire. In 1664 a writ came out for apprehending him as an
excommunicated person; but he was not taken. He acted with
prudence and caution, in order to avoid a long imprisonment,
keeping himself private; and it pleased God to protect him from the
search of his pursuers. In one of those seasons, being deprived of
his income, his family were in great straits. Their little stock
of money was quite exhausted, and family provisions were entirely
"Martha, their faithful servant, who would not desert her
master and mistress in their distress, still abode with them but
could lend no more assistance from her little savings. Mr. Heywood
still trusted that God would provide; and when he had nothing but
the divine promise to live upon, he said,
"`When cruse and barrel both are dry,
We still will trust in God most high.'
"When the children began to be impatient, Mr. Heywood called
his servant, and said to her: `Martha, take a basket and go to
Halifax. Call upon Mr. N--, the shopkeeper in Northgate, and tell
him I desire him to lend me five shillings. If he will be kind
enough to do it, buy us some cheese, some bread, and such other
little things as you know we want. Be as expeditious as you can in
returning, for the poor children begin to be fretful for want of
something to eat. The Lord give you good speed. In the meantime,
we will offer up our requests to Him who feeds the ravens when they
cry, and who knows what we have need of before we ask Him.'
"Martha went; but when she came to the house, her heart failed
her, and she passed by the door again and again without going in to
tell her errand. Mr. N--, standing at the shop door called her to
him, and asked, `Are you not Mr. Heywood's servant?' When she told
him who she was, he said to her, `I am glad to see you, as some
friends have given me five guineas (about 25 dollars) for your
master, and I was just thinking now how I could send it.' Martha
burst into tears, and told him her errand. Mr. N-- was much
affected with the story, and bade her come to him if the like
necessity should return. She made haste to procure the necessary
provisions, and with a heart lightened of its burden ran home to
tell of the success of her journey. When she knocked at her
master's door which now must be kept locked for fear of constable
and bailiffs, it was presently opened. Upon her entering the house
the children eagerly examined the basket, the patient mother wiped
her eyes, and the father, hearing the servant's narrative smiled
and said, The Lord hath not forgotten to be gracious. His word is
true from the beginning, "They that seek the Lord shall not want
any good."'" -- Psalm 34:10.
Another wonderful experience is told of this true servant of
God, and faithful minister of the church of God, of his traveling
for hours in the winter cold without food or money, and not knowing
friend or foe. As he asked the divine hand for direction in this
time of perplexity, and turned the reins loose for his horse to go
whither he would, the animal struck off away from the main road,
and went for hours until it came to a farmhouse where it went
directly and unhesitatingly into the barnyard. He told the people
of the needs for himself and his horse. They treated him kindly,
and after finding that he was from Halifax they cautiously asked if
he knew a man there by the name of Heywood. Imagine his joy upon
finding that they were of the same religious faith, and were happy
to arrange meetings of friends who later helped him on his way.
The unseen divine hand brought this minister to the home of
brethren. Many more as miraculous circumstances could be narrated
of experiences of this man of God.
The Church of God in Italy
Before tracing the true church in its migration from the old
world to the shores of America, we shall first give an account of
these saints of God in different countries where they were driven
into the mountains and wildernesses to escape the persecuting power
The following quotations from reliable historians will furnish
the reader with ample evidence of the existence of the true church
with the true faith in Italy, the home of the harlot.
Benedict in his history of the Baptists says of the Waldenses:
"We have already observed from Claudius Seyssel, the popish
archbishop, that one Leo was charged with originating the
Waldensian heresy in the valleys, in the days of Constantine the
Great. When those severe measures emanated from the Emperor
Honorius against rebaptizers, they left the seat of opulence and
power, and sought retreats in the country, and in the valleys of
Piedmont (Italy) which last place, in particular, became their
retreat from imperial oppression."
Rainer Sacho, a Roman Catholic author, says of the Waldenses:
"There is no sect so dangerous as Leonists, for three reasons:
first, it is the most ancient; some say it is as old as Sylvester,
others, as the apostles themselves. Secondly, it is very generally
disseminated; there is no country where it has not gained some
footing. Third, while other sects are profane and blasphemous,
this retains the utmost show of piety; they live justly before men,
and believe nothing concerning God which is not good."
Sacho admits that they flourished at least five hundred years
before the time of Peter Waldo. Their great antiquity is also
allowed by Gretzer, a Jesuit, who wrote against them. Crantz, in
his History of the United Brethren, speaks of this class of
Christians in the following words:
"These ancient Christians date their origin from the beginning
of the fourth century, when one Leo, at the great revolution in
religion under Constantine the Great, opposed the innovations of
Sylvester, Bishop of Rome. Nay, Rieger goes further still, taking
them for the remains of the people of the valleys, who when the
Apostle Paul, as is said, made a journey over the Alps into Spain,
were converted to Christ." -- page 16.
Irenaeus, A.D. 178, says "There is no difference of faith of
tradition in any of these countries."
"The Reformers held that the Waldensian Church was formed
about 120 A.D., from which date on they passed down from father to
son the teachings they received from the apostles. The Latin
Bible, the Italic, was translated from the Greek not later than 157
A.D. We are indebted to Beza, the renowned associate of Calvin,
for the statement that the Italic Church dates from 120 A.D." --
Allix, Churches of Piedmont, Edition 1690, p. 177, and Wilkinson,
Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, p. 35, and Scrivener's
Introduction, Vol. II, p, 43.
"Thus when Christianity, emerging from the long persecutions
of Pagan Rome, was raised to imperial favor by the Emperor
Constantine (321 A.D.), the Italic Church in northern Italy --
later the Waldenses -- is seen standing in opposition to papal
Rome." -- Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, p. 35.
From E. Comb's work, found in "Guild Hall Library--London," we
quote the following: "The Waldenses object to being called
Waldenses." They say, "We are a little flock, falsely called
Peter Allix in his history of the Churches of Piedmont
(Italy), chapter 28, page 323, mentions the "Church of God." On
page 288, he also mentions the name "Church of God." It has
already been abundantly proven that the people called Waldenses
were driven by Rome into the valleys of Piedmont, Italy. Other
references will be shown also in this work that the name Waldenses
was not endorsed by them as a church; but they held to the true
"Atto, bishop of Virceulli, had complained of such people
eighty years before [before the year 1026 A.D.] and so had others
before him, and there is the highest reason to believe that they
had always existed in Italy." -- Jones' Church History, p. 218.
"Here then," said Dr. Allix, very truly, referring to the
Paterins, and fellow Protestants, "we have found a body of men in
Italy, before the year one thousand and twenty-six, five hundred
years before the Reformation, who believed contrary to the opinions
of the church of Rome, and who highly condemned their errors." --
Mosheim says: "In Lombardy, which was the principal residence
of the Italian heretics, there sprung up a singular sect, known,
for what reason I cannot tell, by the denomination Passaginians .
aversion to the dominion and discipline of the church of Rome; but
they were at the same time distinguished by two religious tenets
which were peculiar to themselves. The first was a notion that the
observance of the law of Moses, in everything except the offering
of sacrifices, was obligatory upon Christians; in consequence of
which they . . . abstained from those meats, the use of which was
prohibited under the Mosaic economy, and celebrated the Jewish
Sabbath. The second tenet that distinguished this sect was
advanced in opposition to the doctrine of three persons in the
divine nature." -- Eccl. Hist., cent, 12, part 2, chap. 5, sec. 14,
That the Cathari did retain and observe the ancient Sabbath,
is certified by Romish adversaries. Dr. Allix quotes a Roman
Catholic author of the twelfth century, concerning three sorts of
heretics -- the Cathari, the Passaginians, and the Arnoldistae.
Allix says of this Romish writer that --
"He lays it down also as one of their opinions, `that the law
of Moses is to be kept according to the letter, and that the
keeping of the Sabbath . . . and other legal observances, ought
to take place. They hold also that Christ, the Son of God, is not
equal with the Father, and that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost
these three . . . are not one God and one substance; and as a
surplus, to these errors, they judge and condemn all the doctors of
the church and universally the whole Roman church. Now since they
endeavor to defend this their error, by testimonies drawn from the
New Testament and prophets, I shall, as David did Goliath's, with
their own sword.'" -- Eccl. Hist. Of the Ancient Churches of
Piedmont, pp. 168,169, Boston.
"The Paterines were decent in their deportment, modest in
their dress and discourse, and their morals irreproachable. In
their conversation there was no levity, no scurrility, no
detraction, no falsehood, no swearing. Their dress was neither fine
nor mean. They were chaste and temperate, never frequenting
taverns, or places of public amusement. They were not given to
anger and other violent passions. They were not eager to accumulate
wealth, but content with the necessities of life. They avoided
commerce, because they thought it would expose them to the
temptation of collusion, falsehood, and oaths, choosing rather to
live by labor or useful trades. They were always employed in spare
hours either in giving or receiving instruction. Their bishops and
officers were mechanics, weavers, shoemakers, and others who
maintained themselves by their industry." -- Jones' Church History,
"Much has been written on the etymology of the word PATERINE;
but as the Italians themselves are not agreed on the derivation, it
is not likely that foreigners should be able to determine it. In
Liman, where it was first used, it answered to the English words,
vulgar, illiterate, low-bred; and these people were so called
because they were chiefly of the lower order of men, mechanics,
artificers, manufacturers, and others, who lived by their honest
labor. GAZARI is a corruption of Cathari, Puritans; and it is
remarkable that, in the examination of these people, they are not
taxed with any immoralities, but were condemned for speculations or
rather for virtuous rules of action, which all in power accounted
heresies. They said a Christian church ought to consist of only
good people . . . it was not right to take oaths; it was not
lawful to kill mankind; a man ought not to be delivered up to
officers of justice to be converted; the benefits of society
belonged to all members of it; faith without works could not save
a man; the church ought not to persecute any, even the wicked; the
law of Moses was no rule to Christians; there was no need of
priests, especially of the wicked ones; the sacraments, and orders,
and ceremonies of the church of Rome were futile, expensive,
oppressive, and wicked; with many more such positions, all inimical
to the hierarchy." -- Idem, p. 217.
"A powerful chain of churches, few in number, compared with
the manifold congregations of an apostate Christianity. but
enriched with the eternal conviction of truth and with able
scholars, stretched from Palestine to Scotland . . . . And when the
Greek East for one thousand years was completely shut off from the
Latin West, the Noble Waldenses in northern Italy still possessed
in Latin the Received Text." -- Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible
Vindicated, pp. 41, 42.
"The despotism of Antichrist was then (about 787 A.D.), so far
from being universal, that it was not owned throughout Italy
itself. In some parts of that country, as well as in England and
France, the purity of Christian worship was still maintained." --
Townsend's Abridgment, p. 361.
The charge of circumcision of Gentile adherents was made by
the enemies of the true church, by the Romanists, and is not well
sustained; but if it were true, they were not Jews, but, even as
their enemies admit, were most blameless and worthy Christians.
Concerning this charge, Benedict says:
"The account of their practicing circumcision is undoubtedly
a slanderous story, forged by their enemies, and probably arose in
this way: Because they observed the seventh day, they were called,
by the way of derision, Jews, as the Sabbatarians are frequently at
this day; and if they were Jews, they either did or ought to
circumcise their followers. This was probably the reasoning of
their enemies. But that they actually practiced the bloody rite is
altogether improbable." -- Hist. Baptists, Vol. 2, pp. 412-418. Ed.
The Church of God in Armenia
Many of the persecuted brethren of the early Churches of God
in Palestine and Syria fled to the north, entering the valleys of
Armenia, and have ever since been the objects of cruel persecution,
by the Roman Catholic church, and later by the Mohammedan Turks.
The following history will suffice to show their existence,
and how they held to the true faith, observing the commandments of
God and the faith of Jesus:
Since the time of Xavier, the East Indies have fallen under
British rule. A distinguished clergyman of the church of England,
some years since visited the British empire in India, for the
purpose of acquainting himself with these churches. He gave the
following deeply interesting sketch of these ancient Christians,
and in it particularly marks their Sabbatarian character:
"The history of the Armenian church is very interesting. Of
all the Christians in Central Asia, they have preserved themselves
most free from Mahometan and papal corruptions. The pope assailed
them for a time with great violence, but with little effect. The
churches in lesser Armenia, indeed, consented to a union, which did
not long continue; but those in Persian Armenia maintained their
independence; and they retain their ancient Scriptures, doctrines,
and worship, to this day. `It is marvelous,' says an intelligent
traveler who was much among them, `how the Armenian Christians have
preserved their faith, equally against the vexatious oppression of
the Mahometans, their sovereigns, and against the persuasions of
the Romish church, which for more than two centuries has
endeavored, by missionaries, priests, and monks, to attach them to
their communion. It is impossible to describe the artifices and
expenses of the court of Rome to effect this object, but all in
"The Bible was translated into the Armenian language in the
fifth century, under very auspicious circumstances, the history of
which has come down to us. It has been allowed by competent judges
of the language, to be a most faithful translation. La Cruze calls
it the `Queen of Versions.' This Bible has ever remained in the
possession of the Armenian people; and many illustrious instances
of genuine and enlightened piety occur in their history . . . . The
Armenians in Hindoostan are our own subjects. They acknowledge our
government in India, as they do that of the Sophi in Persia; and
they are entitled to our regard. They have preserved the Bible in
its purity; and their doctrines are, as far as the author knows,
the doctrines of the Bible. Besides, they maintain the solemn
observance of Christian worship throughout our empire, on the
seventh day, and they have as many spires pointing to heaven among
the Hindoos as we ourselves. Are such a people, then, entitled to
no acknowledgment on our part, as fellow Christians? Are they
forever to be ranked by us with Jews, Mahometans, and Hindoos?" --
Buchanan's Christian Researches in Asia, pp. 159, 160, and History
of Sabbath & Sunday, Lewis.
Of the Syrians, or Surians, as the author variously spells the
name, who from their relation appear identical with the Armenians,
the historian says, "They keep Saturday holy and do not esteem the
Saturday fast lawful, but on Easter even they have solemn services,
while on Saturday eat flesh and feast it bravely like the Jews."
(Purchas, His Pilgrimmes, part 3, chap. 16, sec. 15, p. 1269,
London, 1625.) The Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 8, p. 595, eighth
edition, speaks of Purchas as "an Englishman admirably skilled in
language and human and divine arts, a very great philosopher,
historian, and theologian."
"It was at Antioch, capital of Syria, that the believers were
first called Christians. And as time rolled on, the Syrian-speaking
Christians could be numbered by the thousands. It is generally
admitted, that the Bible was translated from the original languages
into Syrian about 150 A. D. This version is known as the Peshitto
(the correct or simple). This Bible even today generally follows
the Received Text." -- Wilkinson's O. A. B. V., p. 25.
The Church in the British Isles
Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, A.D. 325-340, says, "Some passed
over the ocean to those which are called the British Isles."
Chrysostom, A. D. 398, mentions "The Britannic Isles" as
having felt the power of the Word, and says, "To whatever quarter
you turn -- to the Indians or Moors or Britons, even to the
remotest bounds of the West, you will find this doctrine."
Clement of Rome, A. D. 96, says, "St. Paul preached in the
East and West, leaving behind him an illustrious record of his
faith, having taught the world righteousness, and having traveled
even to the utmost bounds of the West."
Jerome, A. D. 392, says, "St. Paul, having been in Spain, went
from one ocean to another." "His diligence in preaching extended as
far as the earth itself." "After his imprisonment he preached in
the western parts."
Venantius Fortunatus, A. D. 560, says, "St. Paul passed over
the ocean to the Island of Britain, and to Thule, the extremity of
the earth." -- See page 23, History of Seventh Day Baptists in
Europe and America, Vol. I.
"Benedict (History, p. 308), further says, `They now abounded;
more than half of the nation became Lollards; yea, they covered all
England. In 1389 they formed separate and distinct societies
agreeable with Scripture. In these churches all the brethren were
equal, each could preach, baptize and break bread. They were united
in opinion as one, and were called "Bible men," since they allowed
no office not enjoined in the Word of God. Their hostility to the
hierarchy, and their numbers, aroused their enemies to adopt severe
measures. In the year 1400, a law was passed sentencing Lollards to
be burned to death. In Norfolk they abounded, and there they
suffered severely. Still the "Bible men" increased, and became
dangerous to the Church. They are said to have numbered 100,000.'
Henry VIII, while in conflict with the Pope, relieved and
encouraged the Lollards in his kingdom: and this led their
persecuted brethren from all parts of Europe to flock to England in
great numbers, to enjoy religious liberty, and to strengthen the
cause of true religion.
"Benedict (p. 308), says of Walter Lollard: `He was in
sentiment the same as Peter de Bruys, who was the founder of the
Petrobrussians of France.' The Lollards were like the
Petrobrussians, and these were Sabbath keepers. -- Idem, p. 34.
"Bishop White, in speaking of Sabbath-keeping as opposed to
the practices of the church, says, `It was thus condemned in the
Nazarenes and in the Cerinthians, in the Ebionites and in the
Hypsistarii. The ancient Synod of Laodicea made a decree against
it; also Gregory the Great affirmed it was Judaical. In St.
Bernard's time it was condemned in the Petrobrussians. The same
hath then and ever since been condemned as Judaish and heretical.'
-- Idem, p. 35.
"1. Usshar says that the church in Ireland was established
statim post passionem Christi -- soon after the passion of Christ;
and therefore before Sunday was thought of.
"2. The constant enmity between Ireland and ancient Rome
prevented any kind of friendly intercourse. The doctrine of Christ
came not from thence here, but from the churches in Asia.
"3. O'Halleron further says in this connection, `In the
present reign (Dermond, A.D. 528), and for nearly a century
preceding it, Christianity was in the most flourishing condition in
Ireland. Thy received it from Asiatics. These last, in many
instances, adhered more closely to the Jewish customs than did the
"4. There is ample evidence that St. Patrick, `The Apostle of
Ireland,' never had any connection whatever with Rome, and that he
was a Sabbath-keeper. The establishment of the Sabbath-keeping
community on the island of Iona, under the leadership of St.
Columba, was manifestly the result of Patrick's preaching. Like
"5. Celtic Ireland was neither papal nor inclined to submit to
the papacy, until Henry I riveted the Roman Yoke upon them.
(Froude's England in Ireland, p. 17; O'Halleron's Hist. of Ireland,
p. 19). In A.D. 1155 Pope Adrian gave Ireland to King Henry to
bring into the Romish fold.
"A small remnant of Sabbath-keepers has persisted in Ireland
unto this time; a church or society being found there as late as
1840." -- Idem, p. 27.
"The faith and discipline of the Scottish churches in Ireland,
were the same with the British churches, and their friendship and
communion reciprocal. The ordinances of the gospel in both islands,
at this time, were administered in their primitive mode. The
venerable Bede says, that the supremacy of Rome was unknown to the
ancient Irish. The worship of saints and images was held in
abhorrence, and no ceremonies used which were not strictly
warranted by Scripture. All descriptions of people were not only
allowed but desired to consult the sacred writings as their only
rule of conduct.
"In short, from what we have stated, and the evidence produced
by the learned archbishop Usher, quoted by William Hamilton, `we
have the strongest reasons to conclude that these islands enjoyed
the blessings of a pure enlightened piety, such as our Savior
himself taught, unembarrassed by any of the idle tenets of the
Romish Church.'" -- History of the Baptists, p. 24.
"In the thirteenth century the Waldenses had spread abroad
through twenty-two countries of Europe, Britain being one." --
Benedict, p. 311.
"Mr. George Molyneaux, a resident of Milford Haven, Wales,
says, `All the Christian Church were seventh-day observers during
the early centuries. Sunday is from Rome and was but slowly pushed
into the British Church.' " -- Hist. of Sev. Day Bap. in Europe and
Amer. p. 32.
Dr. Samuel Kohn, chief Rabbi of Budapest, Hungary, in a recent
work (Sabbatarians in Transylvania, 1894, pp. 8, 9), says, "In
Bohemia Sabbatarians sprung up as early as 1520. Such Sabbatarians,
or similar sects, we meet about 1545 among the Quakers in England.
Several leaders and preachers of the Puritans have re-transferred
the rest day from Sunday to Saturday; and the Christian Jews who
arose in England and partly emigrated to Germany, and settled near
Heidelberg, believed, indeed, in Jesus, but they also celebrated
the Sabbath and regarded the Jewish laws in reference to meats and
drinks." -- Idem, p. 38.
Chambers' Cyclopedia states that in England "many
conscientious and independent thinkers in the reign of Elizabeth
(1558-1603) advocated the seventh-day."-- In the book entitled
History and Antiquity of Dissenting Churches, page 37, Queen
Elizabeth mentions the "Church of God." Author W. Wilson, volume 4,
catalogue, D. 9, 8, Library, London.
Mill Yard Church of London
"1. Origin. Some have supposed that this church owes its
origin to the labors of John James who was martyred October 19,
1661. President Daland goes back as far as about 1580. In 1617 (or
1616) John Trask came to London from Salisbury and held revival
meetings. One of his disciples, named Hamlet Jackson, was the means
of bringing Trask and many, if not all, of his congregation to the
observance of the seventh-day Sabbath in about 1617, and Elder
William M. Jones says that this Traskite congregation was the
origin of the Mill Yard Church. All the records of this church,
prior to 1673, were destroyed in the fire of 1790; the `Old Church
Book,' dating from 1673 to 1840, refers to an older record. The
`New Church Book' dates from 1840 to the present time.
"2. Place of worship. From the beginning until 1654 they
worshiped `near Whitechapel'; in 1661 their meeting place was in
`Bull Stake Alley, ' and in 1680 they were at East Smithfield --
for from here they addressed a letter to the New Port (R.I.)
Church, dated East Smithfield, London, Dec. 21, 1680. From 1691 to
1785 they worshipped in Mill Yard Goodman's Fields, County of
Middlesex, a part of London, now in the heart of Metropolis. Their
chapel there was burned in 1790, and in September of the same year
the first stone of a new edifice was laid by John, Joseph and
William Slater, the only trustees for some years.
"After being dispossessed of their Mill Yard property in 1885,
they met for worship in the Commercial Street Baptist Church until
1892, and then in the Welsh Baptist Church in Eldon Street, where
once worshiped a Calvinistic Seventh Day Baptist Church, which
became extinct about 1840. For some time since 1900, the
congregation assembled in private houses and, to accommodate the
widely scattered flock, two separate meetings were held -- one at
the residence of Lt. Col. Thomas W. Richardson, and the other
either at the home of the church secretary, or at the home of the
deacon. On the 4th of April 1903, this church began to hold
services in St. Thomas' Hall, Gillespie Road, Highbury Vale." --
Hist. of Seventh Day Baptists, p. 39.
We are indebted for the following to the labor and courtesy of
Secretary George Vane of the Mill Yard church of London, who did
considerable research work for us the year 1926 in the libraries of
London in the matter of church history. He wrote us under date of
May 21, 1926, as follows, "I find that the Pinners Hall Sabbatarian
church was established at Devonshire Square E. C., on March 1,
1574, and 1830 came to Mill Yard church to hold their services."
The Pinners Hall Sabbatarian church mentioned above was
organized by Frances Banefield, who was a noted author and a gifted
Hebrew scholar. He is the author of a book entitled Shem Acher, and
on page 28 he mentions "The Church of God," referring to his
congregation. He adds further that the Lord Jesus Christ is the
head of the church.
On page 27 of this valuable work, the author mentions the fact
of there being two other Sabbatarian churches in London at that
time. The Mill Yard church, which was then meeting in Bell Alley,
is spoken of as carrying on a public discussion on the Sabbath
question between W. Jeremiah, Brother Lillam, Dr. P. Chamberlain,
and W. Coppinger. He does not mention the location of other
congregations, but it is thought likely he refers to one in Swan
There is but one copy of this book on record, and it is found
in the British Museum Library, London.
In this same work on page 28, and the eighth line from the
top, the "Church of God" is mentioned. On page 29 he says, "The
final cause, or the great end, or ends, for which Jehovah has
formed his church."
Again, on pages 58 to 60, he speaks of the relationship of the
"Church of God" to the Sabbath. He uses the term of Jehovah and
Elohim interchangeably, when speaking of the Old Testament church,
and he brings forth evidence to show that the Church of God of that
day (1677), like the Sabbath, is a continuation of the Church of
Jehovah in the Old Testament.
He says on page 59, "The Churches of Elohim, had in all ages
such as were gifted, and called to office to preach the word." He
furthermore says that "Melchisedec was a priest in the church of
Elohim," or the Church of God. -- British Museum Library, London,
Space forbids inserting evidence by this able and talented
author that the "Church of God" functioning in the year 1677 was
the same church organized by Moses, and spoken of in Acts, seventh
chapter, as "The church in the wilderness." It was his sincere
belief, that there had never been a time when the "Church of God"
was not in existence, and that the Sabbath with other kindred
truths, cherished by the church then, were also believed and
defended as truth in every period.
It was the pleasure of one of the authors of this book to
spend some months during 1931 and 1932 with the Mill Yard church in
London, and we were caused to rejoice, upon finding them advocating
the same doctrine on the great essentials, in perfect harmony with
the Church of God in America, and throughout the world. Although
having corresponded with several of the members for a number of
years, we were not sure just how these brethren believed on many
points of faith until our visit there. How wonderful that the dear
Lord had kept the light of his glorious gospel shining brightly
from this ancient lighthouse, and that amidst the darkness and sin
of this present time, she is still radiating the same gracious
truth, showing sinners the way of eternal life, though now
connected with the Seventh Day Baptists in America.
We will now offer some more historical extracts to further
confirm the truth of the existence of the Church of God, by both
name and doctrine, through the period we are now considering.
In Confession of Faith, and Other Public Documents, edited by
E. B. Underbill, he says, "The humble petition, etc., of several
Churches of God in London, commonly though falsely called
`Anabaptists.' "This word was written the year 1649. -- Public
The word "Anti-baptist" was a term used in derision by the
enemies of the truth, as the previous historical notation proves,
as well as much other proof that could be produced. The Church of
God during the wilderness experience, and after the days of the
Reformation, was teaching against the common substitute forms of
baptism. Consequently, all converts to the truth from the Catholic
church were re-baptized; that is, they were in reality baptized or
immersed. The church was therefore known to be opposed to the Roman
mode of baptism universally practiced in that day, hence called
"Anti-baptists." The word "anti" means against; thus they were
called by their enemies "Anti-baptists," and later "Anabaptists."
The Anabaptists in London were called "The Churches of God,"
according to E. B. Underbill, writing in 1649, and the following
extracts from reliable sources proved further that these churches
of God, observed the Sabbath, as well as held to the universal
reign of Christ on the earth during the millennium.
Many, if not all, of the Anabaptists observed the seventh-day
Sabbath. Dr. Francis White (Treatise of the Sabbath Day, p. 132)
says: "They who maintain the Saturday Sabbath to be in force,
comply with the Anabaptists."
Russen (On Anabaptists, London, 1703, p. 79), speaking of
heresies, says: "Under this head I could conclude some of them
under those of Anabaptists, who have been inclined to this personal
reign of Christ, and have embraced the seventh day Sabbath."
James Ockford, whose book on the Sabbath was "sharply confuted
with fire," in 1642, was called an Anabaptist.
The Work of a Martyr
In Confession of Faith, by Vavasor Powell, 1662, London,
England, he writes, "Much less then should any other person usurp
this authority over the church and people of God." -- Page 40.
On page 87, he says, "I have considerations of the great
sufferings of the Church of God of old, and the ground of their
comfort which is Christ. From Revelation 12, I was much refreshed
to consider that the church when she went into the wilderness was
by the wings that God gave her."-- This faithful brother and writer
died in prison for the true faith, and while in this confinement
wrote a book called, The Chirpings of a Bird in a Cage, evidently
referring to himself. He addressed this book to "The Churches of
God, and Scattered Saints Throughout All Wales."
This faithful martyr was esteemed so highly among many
faithful followers of the Lord, that some one graciously wrote a
book of his life published 1672. No author's name is found in the
book, but the following extracts, relating some of his experiences
in the gospel, will be interesting:
"About the year 1647, the island of Anglesey in north Wales
being then unreduced, the Parliament forces went to reduce it, and
their chief officers sent for me to preach unto that brigade of
soldiers, and as I marched with them into the place, either the
night immediately before or the night before that, it was revealed
into me in my sleep that I should be wounded, and two of my fingers
cut (and the very fingers were pointed out), which accordingly came
to pass; yet when I was in extreme danger between several enemies
who fell upon me, receiving that and some other wounds, there being
no likelihood to escape, I heard a voice, as I apprehended,
speaking audibly to me, `I have chosen thee to preach the gospel,'
to which I answered, `O Lord, then bring me off'; and immediately
God guided my horse (though he was very wild and not well
commanded) to go backward out of the barricade that I had entered
at, and so I was indeed miraculously preserved."
Thousands of miles Mr. Powell journeyed over mountains and
through valleys, preaching by day and night. He says:
"One time, coming from preaching, I lost my way, and being out
till it was far in the night in a wood or forest, among lakes,
briers and thorns, I went up and down until I was quite weary. But
by looking up to the Lord, I was presently directed into my way.
"The like experience I had another time, when another preacher
and myself had lost our way in a very dark night, and had tired
ourselves in searching to and fro to no purpose. At last calling to
mind how God had formerly heard in that case where I sought unto
Him, we called upon the Lord, who immediately pointed out our way,
and it seemed as clear to us as if it had been daylight."
The name "Church of God," as applied to the true followers of
Christ, is found in the Dorchester Antiquarian London Library.
In John Tombers' Dispute on Baptism, London, pages 12, 13, a
complaint is entered on certain people for celebrating the Lord's
Supper in the morning, when it is said it should be celebrated in
the evening. The name "Church of God" is mentioned twice on these
pages referring to people holding the Passover in the evening. --
Public Library, London.
In The Confession of Faith of seven churches in London, first
published in 1646 A.D., in the 13th article, page 31, concerning
the mediatorship of Christ, it states, "This office to be mediator,
that is to be prophet, priest and king of the `Church of God' is so
proper to Christ that neither in whole, or in any part thereof, can
it be transferred to any other." -- I Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 7:14;
On page 15, in the preface to the first edition, they term
themselves, "The poor despised churches of God in London." Page 293
also mentions "The Churches of God sanctified in Christ Jesus."
From the foregoing historical facts from these ancient works
we have discovered:
1st. That John Trask and John James were the founders of the
Mill Yard Church, London, 1616 to 1661.
2nd. That in 1546 there were seven congregations in London
which called themselves collectively "The poor despised `Churches
of God.' "
3rd. That sixteen years later (1661), John James the founder
of one of the Sabbath-keeping churches in London died a martyr's
death for the precious truth, showing the severity of the
persecution against these despised people of God.
4th. That Frances Banefield, writing sixteen years later
(1677), in the book of which he is author, Shem Acher, speaks of
the church of which he is pastor, calling it the Church of God, and
says there were then two other Sabbath-keeping churches in London.
5th. That Frances Banefield included the Mill Yard church with
two other churches, by mentioning a public debate it was then
carrying on in defense of the Sabbath, against opposers to this
6th. That at least three of the seven "poor despised Churches
of God" in London in 1646 had survived the persecutions which cost
the death of John James, and others, and were functioning in the
year 1677. Also that Frances Banefield's church moved to the Mill
Yard church to hold their services the year 1830.
7th. That Frances Banefield is author of a book (1677), in
which he brings out evidence to show "The Church of God" of that
day, like the Sabbath, is a continuation of the "Church of God" of
the Old Testament, which is exactly what this work had done except
that it brings the church down to 1935.
It will not be thought strange that the churches of God in
London were reduced from seven congregations down to three from
1646 to 1677, when severe persecutions were being carried on
against the Sabbath-keepers of England during this period, and in
America there was an open door offered the Church of God. "The
earth helped the woman," as John the Revelator expressed it in
Revelation 12:16. It was to this country the Pilgrims, the
Puritans, and the Quakers came, the first ones landing at Plymouth
the year 1620, and many others followed. It was quite natural that
churches in England at this time would come to America, the only
place in the world where freedom of religion was offered the
persecuted ones.-- In the next chapter we shall trace the Church
of God from England and Europe to America, and it will be shown
that among the Pilgrim fathers, who risked their lives on the
Mayflower, and landed at Plymouth 1620, were Sabbath-keepers,
observing the seventh day of the week, who baptized by immersion,
and called themselves the "Church of God."
The Earth Helped the Woman
It has already been mentioned that the beloved Apostle John
beheld the true church as a woman clothed with the sun, the moon
under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. --
Revelation 12:1, 2.
In Revelation 19:7, it says, "Let us be glad and rejoice . .
herself ready. " The lamb spoken of here is Jesus (John 1:29), and
his wife is the church. In II Corinthians 11:1, 2, we read, "For I
am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you
to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to
Christ." Here we have the church again compared to a woman, and it
will be remembered that in Matthew, twenty-fifth chapter, Jesus
gives a parable in which he is spoken of as the bridegroom coming
to meet the bride when the marriage takes place. Also, in
Revelation, seventeenth chapter, the apostate church is represented
by a fallen woman, said to be the "Mother of harlots."
There is also introduced in Revelation, twelfth chapter, a
beast called the dragon, which stands before the woman endeavoring
to destroy the child as soon as it is born, which represents pagan
Rome, and children in Bethlehem under two years of age, in Herod's
effort to kill Christ. -- Matthew 2:16.
A beast in Bible prophecy always symbolizes an earthly kingdom
so when this beast made war with the woman, driving her into the
wilderness, it was most remarkably fulfilled during the fifth
century, as this work has clearly shown, when the church was driven
to the mountainous districts of Europe by the Roman beast
government, and compelled to remain in this state of exile until
the prophetic period was fulfilled. She was to remain in the
wilderness for 1260 years -- Revelation 12:6, 14.
As the children of Israel in Egyptian servitude were sorely
treated under the bondage of Pharaoh, so was the church in the
wilderness oppressed and persecuted. Driven from one country to
another, under the heavy yoke of Antichrist she found no permanent
abiding place. But, following this period of persecution, under the
cruel despotism of Roman kings, and ecclesiastical tyrants, the
seer of Patmos declared in vision a time when, the earth would help
the woman (Revelation 12:16). The "New World," as America was
called, had been discovered by Christopher Columbus, at the
beginning of the Protestant Reformation in Europe, and, slowly but
surely, there was being prepared a haven of refuge here for the
persecuted churches of Europe. It was many years after the
beginning of the Reformation when the most violent persecutions
against the church were raging in Europe. It was a final and most
desperate effort by the beast in its bleeding and wounded state to
crush its assailant, and conquer its foe, but all in vain. The soil
of Europe being drenched in the blood of the martyrs, the true
servants of God finding new enemies among those supposed to be
their friends, and amidst the darkest period, the church found
refuge across the waters toward the setting of the sun. To America
the Pilgrims came, trusting only in the God whom they served for
protection and care. They brought with them that true faith and
pure doctrine, cherished in the hearts of their forefathers, and
carried by them amid blood and tears and patient suffering, from
the land Palestine through Asia and Europe wherever the divine hand
of destiny would point them to a land of safety, until at last that
prophetic time period was about to be reached when "the earth
helped the woman." Other persecuted ones came, establishing the
truth, and churches of God consequently sprung up in this land of
liberty wherever the Lord chose to place His name.
The Seven Church Periods
The church had at this time passed through five periods,
Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, and Sardis, and but two
remained ahead. In Revelation, chapter one, we find these seven
brought to view, the name as well as the message to each one,
corresponding to the seven periods of the Gospel Dispensation, and
a timely message of admonition given each church or epoch. The word
"Ephesus" means desirable, or the first period; then "Smyrna,"
signifying death; "Pergamos," meaning high and exalted; "Thyatira,"
sacrifice of that which is nearest and dearest; "Sardis," that
which is left; "Philadelphia," brotherly love; and "Laodicea," the
judgment of the people.
The history of the early days of the church in America, from
about 1620 to 1789 is covered by the latter part of the Sardis
period. The word "Sardis" means that which is left, and the message
as given, "Thou hast a few names, even in Sardis which have not
defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white, for
they are worthy," Revelation 3:4. This verse shows how the true
church would be reduced by persecution into a small remnant. The
Church of God wandered from country to country, seeking that
freedom of worship which the human heart craves, and had come at
last to America, a scattered remnant. These humble servants
established themselves in small congregations throughout the
eastern states. The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in the fall of
1620, who are mentioned on other pages of this work, and in the
fall of 1638 the English became acquainted with the coast along
Connecticut to the west, and on page 123 of Ridpath's History of
the United States we read as follows of their settlement here:
"Here some men of Boston tarried over winter, built cabins,
and founded New Haven, Connecticut. Thither in April came a Puritan
colony from England lead by Theophelos Eaton and John Davenport. On
the first Sabbath after their arrival they met for worship under an
oak; and Davenport preached a touching sermon on the `Temptations
in the Wilderness."' How remarkable it is that these people
understanding the prophecies of the church being in the wilderness
until the year 1798, and on the Sabbath day having a discourse on
The historian goes on to relate, "In June 1639, the men of New
Haven held a convention in a barn and adopted the Bible for their
constitution. The government was called the House of Wisdom, of
which Mr. Eaton, Mr. Davenport, and five others were the seven
The church in Rhode Island was founded the year 1671, and
Ephreta, Pennsylvania, May, 1725, with numerous other congregations
throughout the eastern states as previously mentioned in this work.
During these early colonial days congregations were at first
isolated because of distance and a lack of means of travel with no
roads between them. Thus being isolated from fellowship with one
another, we find companies in one place called the Church of
Christ, and the Church of God, while in other communities they were
simply called "Sabbatarian Congregations," but the belief was
practically the same. They stood for the commandments of God and
the faith of Jesus, observing the true Sabbath, keeping the Lord's
Supper yearly on the 14th of the first month, with other tenets of
faith in harmony with the true faith today. Owing to the isolation
of these scattered companies they were known by different names
which evidently gives rise to the Scriptural statement relative to
the Sardis period, "I know thy works, that thou hast a NAME,"
Revelation 3:1. As the church entered the Pergamos period, or the
wilderness experience, the Lord commends it for holding fast to "My
Name," Revelation 2:13, and as they emerge from the wilderness, and
the open door is placed before them in the Philadelphia period, the
Lord says, "For thou hast a little strength, and hast kept MY WORD,
and hast NOT denied MY NAME," Revelation 3:7, 8. Thus we have
found, as the evidence is disclosed elsewhere, that during the
sojourn of the church in the wilderness she was known by the
Father's name, "The Church of God."
Now we enter the Philadelphia period, or the sixth. The word
"Philadelphia," meaning brotherly love, we have come down to the
time when religious liberty was granted to all people, regardless
of faith, when they could worship God according to the dictates of
their own conscience. When the church in America had taken root,
and was growing and flourishing, when the constitution of the
United States had been drafted, granting freedom of religion,
freedom of speech and of the press.
The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had been founded where
true commandment-keeping people had come and settled: where that
most distinguished character, and staunch supporter of religious
freedom, Benjamin Franklin, lived, and from where his influence as
a true Sabbath-keeper emanated.
The Lord spoke of the Philadelphia period thus: "And to the
angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he
that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he
that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man
openeth; I know thy works: behold I have set before thee an open
door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and
hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name," Revelation 3:7, 8.
This open door of religious liberty soon spread to others, and
the Lord had said of this period, He would set before the church an
open door which no man could shut. How true this has been, and
every effort to hide the truth and restrain God's people from
giving it has failed.
The Philadelphia period evidently had for its beginning about
the year 1789, for it was then that the constitution was drafted
and ratified by eleven states, which placed that open door before
the church that no man, or set of men, have since been able to
shut. It was the only official document in the world ratified by a
national government, granting freedom of worship, freedom of speech
and freedom of the press.
The name of Benjamin Franklin, a staunch Sabbath-keeper, who
history says shone with a "peculiar luster," was one of the
brightest in this period of reconstruction. Many Sabbath-keeping
churches dotted the east. They were of a sturdy type of
individuals, whose recent ancestors had suffered death as martyrs.
These faithful people were standing for faith and truth which were
to them more precious than life itself, and for which many of their
fathers and mothers had with joy given their lives.
The Lord says of this time, "Thou hast a little strength, and
hast kept my word, and hast not denied MY NAME." That true name for
God's church, "The Church of God," was loved and cherished in many
hearts together with the same kindred truths that the same church
loves and teaches today.
Chapter 21 - SEVENTEEN HUNDRED TO EIGHTEEN HUNDRED A.D.
Immigration from Europe to America
We shall now consider the church in Pennsylvania especially.
After William Penn had received his grant of land, including all of
Pennsylvania, he visited Germany and other places in search of
colonists. Because of persecutions in Europe many sought refuge in
"the New World."
Thirteen families were the first to immigrate, arriving at
Germantown, in October, 1683. Another company arrived from
Friesland in 1684. June 24th, 1694, another large company arrived,
under the leadership of Kelpius. In 1719, twenty families arrived,
settling in Germantown, near Philadelphia, but now a part of the
Numerous others came, and the most of these people were
Sabbath-keepers. The last to come were the Moravians, in 1740,
permanently settling where Bethlehem now stands, thus the town was
settled and named by zealous Sabbath-keeping people, known as
Moravians, nationally, but believing in and accepting the true
name, "The Church of God."
The Church from the Wilderness
The prophecies have been frequently given in this work how
the Lord Jesus said the church was to go into the wilderness,
remaining there 1260 years, when the earth would then help the
woman, or the church. Now we come to a band of forty men coming to
this country under the leadership of Brother Kelpius, mentioned
previously, and forming a society called the "Society of the Woman
in the Wilderness."
These men left Germany during the summer of 1693, coming to
Holland, London, and to Plymouth, where they spent the winter, then
leaving on the actual voyage to America on April 25th, and reaching
Philadelphia on June 23rd. After holding a solemn religious service
they walked two by two, observing the city which embraced scarcely
500 houses, and there being no town hall, courthouse, or prison.
They went to Germantown and found Brother Jacob Isaac Van Bebber,
one of their countrymen, who had formerly lived on the borders of
Randolph says, in his history, they "believed that the
millennium was at hand and the woman in the wilderness, mentioned
in Rev.12:14-17, prefigured the great deliverance of the church,
and they came to be called `The Woman in the Wilderness.'" -- page
He says further on page 951, "It is a fact conclusively
attested, that as early as 1699 Kelpius was in communication with
the churches of Rhode Island and Connecticut."
Randolph says further of the people in Pennsylvania, "When
Count Zinzendorf, the founder of the Moravian church in Germany,
visited America in 1741, he was astonished to find the hold the
Sabbatarian doctrine has upon the entire German population of
Pennsylvania." -- page 1036.
Mr. Saches gives assurance of the close affiliation between
the Sabbath-keeping body known as "The Order from the Wilderness,"
with the Sabbatarian brethren of New England, and also with the
Sabbatarians at Ephreta. Pa. "At Ephreta, they established and
maintained a classical school for boys which was patronized by the
leading families of Philadelphia and Baltimore. There Latin was
taught as the medium of polite correspondence." -- Corless F.
It was the privilege of one of the authors of this work to
visit the church at Ephreta, Pennsylvania, in 1928, where much was
learned about the founders of this pioneer church of Sabbatarians
in this country. Conrad Beissel, the founder, was an associate of
Brother Kelpius, leader of the forty men landing at Philadelphia in
1694. When we visited the Ephreta church in 1928, we learned from
leaders there that their doctrine was practically the same as that
of the Church of God today, although this church has been isolated
from other churches of the same belief for over two hundred years,
there being a number of their German Sabbatarian churches of the
same belief in the east affiliating together. They were glad to
learn of the great activity of the Church of God in spreading the
truth throughout the world, and of so many other companies in the
east, as well as the west and north and south, spreading the
message of the last days. Since that we have been more or less
connected with them by their reading our literature and our
ministers visiting their churches.
It is a fact familiar with the history of these Sabbatarians,
as well as the history of our nation, that when the constitutional
congress sought a man competent and skilled in languages, they
chose Peter Miller, pastor of this Ephreta Church, to translate the
Declaration of Independence into seven languages. He was an honored
man from the University of Heidelberg, a member of the American
Philosophical Society, a personal friend of the Penns, and of
He was also personally acquainted with George Washington, and
invited him to Ephreta, and to bring his soldiers, suffering from
the frigid weather of that memorable winter at Valley Forge, when
the fate of the colonists seemed hanging in the balance. We saw a
graveyard at Ephreta where hundreds of the loyal soldiers lay at
rest, the tombstone inscriptions identifying them with the victims
of the revolution, who did not survive, after coming there wounded.
Peter Miller is the central figure of one of the most touching
narratives of Revolutionary times, and his name is mentioned in
many old schoolbooks of the nation. One of his bitterest enemies
was caught sleeping on sentinel duty, the penalty of which was
death. He was to be executed at a certain set time. Peter Miller
traveled all night to reach the president, George Washington, in
hope of saving his enemy.
Washington, knowing Miller, expressed the thought of the
condemned man being his good friend. Then Miller informed him that
the condemned man was his bitterest enemy and incessant reviler,
but that his Master taught him to pray for his enemies. So
impressed was Washington that he took him by the hand, and with
tears flowing down his cheeks, thanked him for his example of
Christian forbearance and generosity, and granted him the request.
In the fall of 1744 Israel Eckerlin, Samuel Eckerlin,
Alexander Mack and Peter Miller set out upon a pilgrimage to New
England for the purpose of visiting the Sabbath-keeping communities
there and those lying between in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The simple preparations being made, as the journey was on
foot, a solemn love feast was made on Friday, Sept. 21, 1744. These
services lasted far into the night, and even the hours between
midnight and dawn were spent in prayer and supplication. On the
morning Sabbath the Pilgrims were present at the service . . . .
After the close of the Sabbath they started on their journey,
accompanied a short distance by many of the brethren. When fairly
upon their way they walked single file, silently and bareheaded, as
was their custom. Meetings were first held at Nantmeal, in Chester
County, the next at Coventry, thence across the Schuylkill to the
German settlements along the way until they reached Germantown.
Stops were made with Conrad Matthae, Brother Seelig, and the
Brother Mystics. After the brethren had visited the company at
Pennek they started on their long pilgrimage toward Rhode Island,
but stopped over at Amwell, where converts to the truth had been
baptized some six years before. After leaving there they went
toward the ocean where the country was sparsely settled, and some
nights the pilgrims spent the hours around their campfire in the
timber to frighten away the wild beasts, and also to provide warmth
as the nights were cold and frosty.
Their intention was to call at a place commonly called
Barnegat. A company of Sabbatarians had emigrated here from
Stonington, Conn., and Westerly, Rhode Island, a few years before,
and a few others had joined them from Pennsylvania.
Sachse says, in his work, relative to this company, "At the
advent of our pilgrims this company numbered but fifteen adults,
notwithstanding . . . their number met and signed a covenant
shortly after their settlement, binding themselves to live and walk
together as Christian people, though they had no church
organization or pastor. Peter Miller preached and admonished them
to be steadfast and continue in the faith. This resulted in a
church being organized, and William Davis, the elder, although
eighty-one years of age, was elected pastor." -- Corliss F.
Randolph's, History, pp. 1043-1045.
Among these early settlers of the region now known as
Pennsylvania, were Christians known as Quakers. These people were
of the Puritans from England, and among them we also find
Sabbath-keepers, preserving the true faith.
In a book by Dr. Samuel Kohn, chief Rabbi of Budapest,
Hungary, from which we have previously quoted, he says, "In 1545 we
find a Sabbatarian sect among the Quakers in England." Also that
leaders and preachers of the Puritans had retransferred the rest
day from Sunday to Saturday. -- Sabbatarians in Transylvania pp. 8,
This information corresponds with that recently published in
a newspaper of California, that Benjamin Franklin, the famous
Pennsylvania Quaker, was an observer of the seventh-day Sabbath.
The quotation, as it appeared in the paper, reads as follows:
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN'S CURE FOR HARD TIMES
"'Make a full statement of all you owe, and of all owing to
you. As fast as you can collect, pay those you owe. Go to business
diligently. Be industrious. Discard all pride. Lose no time. Waste
no idle moments. Attend church. Attend prayer meeting. Always help
the worthy poor. Pursue this course seven years, and if you are not
in comfortable circumstances. I will pay your debts.'
"We wonder how many of our readers are aware of the fact that
Franklin kept the seventh day of the week, according to the
commandment written by Jehovah God, on the tables of stone, with
His own finger?
"God's people are going to see that table of stone some day."
-- Shoshoni Independent (Calif.)
From his epitaph which he composed himself, we may understand
that, like Job of old, Franklin believed in the resurrection. Job
said, "If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my
appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call,
and I will answer thee." . . . "And though after my skin worms
destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." -- Job 14:14;
Franklin said in his epitaph, "The body of Benjamin Franklin,
printer (like the cover of an old book), lies here, food for worms.
But the work shall not be lost for it will (as he believed) appear
once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected
by the Author." -- New Standard Encyclopedia.
It will be noted from the historical proofs given that the
church which had been established at Jerusalem, carried across Asia
Minor, preserved in the wilderness of the Waldensian mountains, and
then scattered throughout Europe prior to the Reformation, at last
found its way to its final resting place in the wilderness of the
American continent, and here revived the ancient truths preserved
from generation to generation throughout its long pilgrimage from
the Holy Land.
The Church in America
All familiar with the early history of the United States
remember that the Puritans, coming here in the Mayflower, landed at
Plymouth Rock in 1620. They had fled from persecutions in England,
coming to what was known as "the new world," where they could
worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. When
they had gathered in their bountiful harvest, a day was set apart
in which to render thanks to Almighty God, for having thus blessed
them in provision for the coming winter. This day has ever since
been celebrated in the United States as Thanksgiving.
The Pilgrims were the same as the Puritans, Nonconformists,
and Separatists, as the boys and girls of our country understand
who remember these early chapters of American history. The Puritans
were zealously endeavoring to purify the church of England, as well
as the Catholic church. They were called Separatists because of
their separation from these churches, and those who risked their
lives on the pilgrimage to the "new world," have since been called
Chief Rabbi Kohn of Budapest, Hungary, in a work entitled,
Sabbatarians in Transylvania, says of the Puritans, "Certain
leaders and preachers of the Puritans have  retransferred the
rest day from Sunday to Saturday." -- p. 38.
That the Pilgrims were Sabbath-keepers, and evidently from the
same line of Sabbatarian-Puritan preachers mentioned in this work,
the following evidence will confirm.
While one of the authors was living in the city of St. Joseph,
Missouri, during the winter of 1934, the following editorial
appeared in the St. Joseph, Mo., Daily Gazette, during the
Christmas season, written by the editor, Mr. Hugh Sprague.
"Strange as it may seem, in the early history of America there
was an attempt at suppression of Christmas spirit. The stern
Puritans at Plymouth, imbued with the rigorous fervor of the Old
Testament, abhorred the celebration of the orthodox holidays. Their
worship was on the Sabbath (Saturday), rather than Sunday, and
Christmas in particular they considered a pagan celebration. Later
immigrants attempted to observe Christmas as a time of joy, but
were suppressed. Governor Bradford, Elder Brewster, Miles Standish
and other leaders were firm against the yuletide spirit as we know
The author's wife, having first noticed the above editorial,
called his attention to it. He immediately drove over to the
Gazette office where, upon finding Mr. Sprague, he asked him where
he obtained the evidence of the Pilgrim Fathers keeping the Sabbath
or Saturday. He said, "Why do you desire this information? Do you
doubt the truth of the statement!" He answered, that from
information already at hand he had frequently made the statement
that they were observers of the seventh day of the week, but
thought he might have something additional. He said he did not know
of any book mentioning this, but that he had additional evidence.
He said, "The Pilgrims are my direct ancestors, and we know very
well their religious practice, and belief." He assured him that all
his grandparents and great-grandparents knew that the Pilgrims of
the Mayflower days were strict Sabbath-keepers on the seventh day
of the week instead of Sunday.
Should anyone wish to obtain direct information from this
editor, which we are sure he will cheerfully give, you can reach
him by posting a letter, with stamp for reply, to St. Joseph, Mo.,
in care of the Gazette.
The noted historian Robinson, quoting from the words of the
tyrant persecutor Reinerius shows that the Waldenses, Puritans, and
Cathari, are the one and the same religious sect. -- From the work
entitled, From a Weasel to an Elephant, and footnote, page 288,
Jones' Church History.
In speaking of those called Paterine, Gazari, Jones in his
church history says, "Gazari is a corruption of the word Cathari,
Puritans, and it is remarkable in the examination of these people,
they are not charged with any immorality, but for heresy." He
states further that they are opposed to the ceremonies of the
church of Rome. -- p. 217.
Many historical statements have been printed on previous pages
of this work, proving beyond doubt that the Cathari, Puritans, and
Waldenses were the same people, and that they observed the seventh
day of the week, held the Lord's Supper on the 14th of Abib,
immersed for baptism, accepted the Bible name for the church, and,
in general, held the truth as now taught by the Church of God. We
may, therefore, without disappointment, expect to find the same
doctrine taught and practiced by the Puritans in tracing their
history in America.
We find in the public library of London, England, a book
entitled A Necessity of Separation, referring to the separation
from the church of England of those receiving divine light and
The author is John Canne. He frequently mentions the Church of
God, or God and His Church.
In chapter 4, page 183, when speaking of the meaning of the
word "church," he says, "The Church of God."
On page 184, he says, "The church, the house and the temple of
the eternal God."
On page 185, he says "The means whereby men are made fit for
the Church of God, is by His word."
On page 187, he uses the term "Church of God," also page 163,
he uses the term again, and also says "The Church of the Living
It will be remembered, however, from previous notes that there
were several Sabbath-keeping congregations in London prior to this
time, who observed the Passover yearly, and who were known by the
term "Church of God." It has also been shown that the Separatists,
Puritans, and Pilgrims were zealous for the commandments of God,
observing the seventh-day Sabbath, and from the foregoing it is
also evident they held to the sacred Bible name.
From Lewis' History of Sabbath and Sunday, we get the
"The same Divine Hand which guarded the Sabbath through the
dark centuries between the first great apostasy and the
reformation, transferred it from England to America, the last
battleground whereon the great reforms of modern times have been
and are being carried forward. True Sabbath reform could not find
a place among the masses until 'Sunday' had borne its fruit,
decayed in weakness, and crumbled from the hands of the church.
This trial could best be made in America. Hence, guided by that
`divinity which shapes our ends,' in 1664 Stephen Mumford emigrated
from England to Newport, Rhode Island. He brought with him the
opinion the Ten Commandments as they were delivered from Mount
Sinai, were moral and immutable and that it was antichristian power
which changed the Sabbath from the Seventh to the first day of the
week. He united with the Baptist church in Newport, and soon gained
several of its members to the observance of the Sabbath." -- p.
On the same page of the above history it is stated that a
Sabbath-keeping church was organized by these Sabbath-keepers in
December 1671, and that William Hiscox was chosen and ordained
their elder which office he filled until his death, 1704. Also that
he was succeeded by William Gibson, a minister from London, who
labored among them until his death, 1717. Joseph Crandall then
presided over the church until 1737. Joseph Maxson was then pastor,
who was succeeded by William Bliss, the latter passing away in 1808
at the age of 81. He was succeeded by William Burdick. Richard Ward
was a prominent member of this church, being governor of the state
of Rhode Island, and well known in history.
Lewis gives us some more interesting history of the early
Sabbath-keepers in this country on page 398 of the same history, as
"Able Noble arrived in this country about the year 1684, and
located near Philadelphia . . . . About this time a difference
arose among the Quakers in reference to the sufficiency of what
every man was naturally within himself for the purpose of his own
salvation. This difference resulted in a separation under the
leadership of George Keith. These seceders were soon after known as
Keithian Baptists. Through the labors of Able Noble, many of them
embraced the Bible Sabbath and were organized into churches near
the year 1700. These churches were Newton, Pennepeck, Nottingham
and French Creek, and probably, Conogocheage." . . . "The churches
of Pennsylvania fraternized with the churches in Rhode Island and
New Jersey, and counseled them in matters of discipline. Some of
their members also united with their churches. Some of them, with
some members of the church of Piscataway, and others of Cohansey,
near Princeton, emigrated to the Parish of St. Mark, S.C., and
formed a church on Broad River and formed a settlement and a church
at Tuckaseeking, in Georgia. These churches have long since become
extinct. (Traces of these Sabbath-keepers are still found in the
South.)" pp. 397, 398.
The Church of God from London to America
The first organization of Sabbath-keeping Christians in
America, now known to history, was that of the church at Newport,
R.I., in 1671.
"Stephen Mumford came over from London in 1664, and brought
the opinion with him that the whole of the ten commandments as they
were delivered from Mount Sinai, were moral and immutable; and that
it was the antichristian power which thought to change times and
laws, that changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of
the week. Several members of the first church in Newport, Rhode
Island, embraced this sentiment." -- Church History of New England,
1783 to 1796, chap. 11, Sec. 10.
This is the oldest known organized Sabbath-keeping church in
America. In the chapter devoted to the history of the Church of God
in the British Isles, mention is made of a certain letter written
by the church at Mill Yard, London, on December 21 1680, to the
church in Newport, R.I. This letter was copied from the old files
of the Mill Yard church, the oldest Sabbath-keeping church in
America being connected with the oldest in London. Consequently, we
must naturally conclude that these two churches will be found to
agree in principle and doctrine, and this further evidence will
The first record we have of the organization of a local church
in this country reads as follows: "We enter into a church covenant
this 23rd day of December, 1671 (Old Stile), William Hiscox,
Stephen Mumford, Samuel Hubbard, Rodger Baster, Sister Tacy
Hubbard, Sister Mumford, and Sister Rachel Langworthy. " Wm. Hiscox
was chosen pastor. The church had no articles of faith except the
Bible. As churches in other places sprung up, and a desire was felt
in many hearts to follow the instruction of the Lord in I
Corinthians 1:10 that they all speak the same thing, a mutual
understanding was sought among them, that those in one locality who
having advanced in knowledge and truth deeper, might benefit the
others by these truths. Thus certain doctrines were outlined with
Scriptures showing their soundness, and unity and harmony was
sought and maintained.
On October 31, 1683, Brother Hubbard wrote to Elder Wm.
Gibson, who lived at New London, and said in part, "O, that we
could have a general meeting, but winter is coming upon us." The
next May another letter was written, as follows, "This church has
appointed a general meeting to be held here the 14th of May, 1684,
and hope to see all my daughters and friends together, if God
permit, from Westerly, Narragansett, Providence, Plymouth, of
Martha's Vineyard, and at home, that we may humble our souls at
that royal throne of grace of Jehovah, and to rejoice together in
his holy way and order." This was the first general meeting held by
these early churches that we have any record of in America. At the
beginning of the year 1708 there were 113 members of the Newport,
Rhode Island, church, when it was thought best for the brethren
living in the western part of the city to be organized into what
was called the "Westerly Church." -- From Seventh-day Baptist
In 1705 a church was organized at Piscataway, N.J. And,
according to a letter from Samuel Hubbard, one of the charter
members of the Newport church, another was organized at an early
date at Noodles Island, now East Boston, Mass. We quote from his
letter, which began with these words:
"Unto the church of Jesus Christ meeting on Noodles Island, in
New England . . . ." -- Idem, p. 152, Vol.1, No. 3.
In the year 1668 there were at least nine Sabbatarian churches
in England, according to a letter written from London by Dr. Edward
Stennett, of the Bell Lane Church, to the Sabbath-keeping brethren
in Rhode Island. We quote:
"Here are, in England, about nine or ten churches that keep
the Sabbath, besides many scattered disciples, who have been
eminently preserved in this tottering day, when many once eminent
churches have been shattered to pieces." -- Dated Feb. 2, 1668, at
Abingdon, Birkshire. -- Idem, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 27.
In a narrative respecting the Newport church, it is said that
in July 3, 1669, they sent a letter to a church in Bell Lane,
London, England, about some certain difficulties they had
encountered. It also states that prior to this, in October 6, 1665,
they had sent a first letter to "several churches in the
observation of the seventh day, for advice." -- Idem, p. 29, Vol.
Thomas Ward, a prominent lawyer of Newport, was a member of
the Newport church in 1689.
Richard Ward, governor of Rhode Island from 1741 to 1742, was
also a member of this church.
Col. Jobe Bennet in 1763 was one of a committee of two to
draft the constitution of the Brown University, and served as its
Treasurer from 1765 to 1775. He was a member of this church.
Deacon John Tanner of this church was also a trustee of Brown
The Name of The Church
The connection between this church at Newport and the Churches
of God in London has already been shown in this work, as well as
their harmony in doctrine. The Mill Yard church in London being the
oldest Sabbath-keeping church of which we have a definite record,
and at this date, 1935, their doctrine agrees with that of the
churches of God throughout America, this fact is significant of the
presence and power of the Holy Spirit whose office work is declared
to be to lead its possessor into all truth.
It is evident that the church at Newport, Rhode Island, was at
first called "Church of God," because of its relationship with the
Sabbath-keeping churches of London known by this name.
The early records of the Newport church have been destroyed by
fire, but we do have copies of some of these ancient records, and
in these we have intimation of the church clinging to the true
name. In a reply concerning an investigation respecting
Sabbatarians in Newport, the following is stated by members of the
"Under the former dispensation there was a church and a world
as there is now; and as it is the duty of the world now to repent
and believe the Gospel, so it was the duty of the world to be
proselyted and joined to the then Church of God." -- Idem, p. 36,
Questions asked of the early Sabbatarian churches to a
candidate minister, among others, was this one:
"Have you entire freedom to administer the ordinances of God
among them as a Church of God, to pray with them and for them, and
endeavor to build them up in the faith? " -- Idem, p. 160, Vol. 2,
The following charge was given Elder Davis, an early
Sabbatarian minister by the church in Shrewsbury, N.J.:
"Brother Davis, I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus
Christ, that thou take the charge of the Church of God dwelling at
Shrewsbury. Preach the word in and among them; be instant in
season: and out of season; administer the holy ordinances amongst
them; exhort and rebuke with all long suffering and patience, with
meekness and humility of mind, as thou shalt answer the same, when
thou shalt give up thy account to God, at his appearing and
kingdom. Amen." -- Idem, p. 160, Vol. 2, No. 4.
In the year 1705, a church of Sabbath-keepers was organized at
Piscataway, N.J. The first record in the old church record book,
after the articles of faith, was the following statement, proving
beyond all question that these early churches retained the
Scriptural name of the Church of God. The record reads:
"The Church of God keeping the commandments of God and the
faith of Jesus Christ, living in Piscataway and Hopewell, in the
province of New Jersey, being assembled with one accord, at the
house of Benjamin Martin, in Piscataway, the 19th day of August,
1705 -- we did then, and with one mind, choose our dearly beloved
Edward Dunham, who is faithful in the Lord, to be our elder and
assistant, according to the will of God; whom we did send to New
England to be ordained; who was ordained in the church-meeting in
Westerly, Rhode Island, by prayer and laying on of hands, by their
elder, William Gibson, the eighth of September, 1705." -- Idem, p.
121, Vol. 2, No. 3.
The faith of the Piscataway church reads as follows:
"I. We believe that unto us there is but one God, the Father,
and one Lord Jesus Christ, who is the mediator between God and
mankind, and that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God. I
Corinthians 3:6, I Timothy 2:5, II Timothy 3:6, II Peter 1:21.
"II. We believe that all the Scriptures of the Old and New
Testaments, given by inspiration, are the Word of God -- II Peter
1:19, 20, 21, II Timothy 3:16, Mark 7:13, I Thessalonians 2:13,
Acts 4:29, 31 -- and are the rule of faith and practice.
"III. We believe that the ten commandments, which were written
on two tables of stone by the finger of Cod, continue to be the
rule of righteousness unto all men. Matthew 5:17, 18, 19, Malachi
4:4, James 1:21, Romans 7:25, Romans 3:21, Romans 13:8, 9, 10,
"IV. We believe the six principles recorded in Heb. 6:1, 2, to
be the rule of faith and practice.
"V. We believe that the Lord's Supper ought to be administered
and received in all Christian churches. Luke 2:19, I Corinthians.
"VI. We believe that all Christian churches ought to have
church officers in them, as elders, and deacons. Titus 1:5, Acts
"VII. We believe that all persons thus believing ought to be
baptized in water by dipping or plunging, after confession is made
by them of their faith in the above said things. Mark 1:4, 5, Acts
2:38, Acts 8:37, Romans 6:3, 4, Colossians 2:12.
"VIII. We believe that a company of sincere persons, being
formed in the faith and practices of the above said things, may
truly be said to be the Church of Christ. Acts 2:41, 42.
"IX. We give up ourselves unto the Lord and one another, to be
guided and governed by one another, according to the Word of God.
I Corinthians 8:5, Colossians 2:19, Psalsm 84:1, 2, 4-10, Psalm
133:1." -- Idem, pages 120,121, Vol. 2, No. 3.
That there were members of the Church of God among the
Sabbatarians which organized as the Seventh Day Baptist Churches in
America, we know, and from the records of the Baptist people
themselves, which are very accurate, we learn the truth of this
fact. A recorded letter of one William Davis, a Sabbatarian
Baptist, states the following:
"Now all this enmity among seventh-day men arose against me
originally from a noted seventh-day man and soul sleeper in this
country, who above twenty years ago opposed me about my principles
of immortality of human souls, and afterward proceeded to differ
with me about my faith in Christ and the Trinity, who, having
poisoned several other seventh-day men with the mortal and
atheistical notion, and set them against me, he secretly conveyed
this drench over to Westerly to the persons beforenamed, who,
complying with him in their judgments in the Socinian and
Anti-Trinitarian error, drank it greedily down before I came among
them . . . ." -- Idem, p. 108, Vol. 2, No. 3.
One of the main points of doctrine of the Church of God, which
distinguishes it from other bodies of believers, is the belief in
the separateness of Almighty God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the
Holy Spirit of God, as pertains to entities, but one as to unity of
purpose and spirit. This Scriptural truth held dear by Dr. Arius
and his followers in the early centuries, is still dear to the
Church of God in our day, and was to the saints during the
colonization of America.
Another tenet of faith which distinguished the Church of God
is its teaching of immortality only through Jesus Christ, that is,
a conditional immortality, which is given to the saints only, and
not to all mankind.
The third article of faith which should be noted, is
Sabbath-keeping, that is, the observance of the seventh day of the
From the quotation taken from the letter of the Sabbatarian
Baptist, Elder William Davis, it is noted that this noted
Sabbatarian of whom he speaks was not only a Sabbath-keeper, but
also one who held to the truth of the individuality of Jesus Christ
and his heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit of God, and to the
truth of immortality only through Christ. There is no body of
Christians in the world, with the exception of the Church of God,
which teaches all three of these beautiful truths, hence, we know
this man was of the Church of God, and contended for the "faith
which was once delivered unto the saints."
It has been previously shown how the early churches in the
east were composed of, and raised up through the labors of members
of the Churches of God from London, and other parts of Europe, and,
furthermore, evidence has been given that they were actually known
among themselves by the name "The Church of God." It is claimed,
however, in the History of the Seventh Day Baptists, volume 2 page
613, that these churches had no official name. The reason for this
claim is evidently due to the fact they did not believe in
incorporating with the state, or of filing a charter, for the
Bible, they said, was sufficient. We quote from this work as
follows, "In the first records of the first minute book extant the
church is referred to as the church of Rhode Island, and Westerly,
Rhode Island, referring to the Island and not to the whole colony,
and to Hopkinton, Westerly, Charleston, and Richmond. Sometimes it
is spoken of as the `Church,' at other times the official name." --
`Congregation,' but it had no official name." -- Randolph's
History, p. 613.
In apology for the New England churches, on page 66, we find
the name, "The Church of God."
Chapter 22 - EIGHTEEN HUNDRED TO PRESENT DATE A.D.
In the Latter Times Some Shall Depart from the Faith
Those familiar with the Old Testament history of the church
know of Israel's repeated backslidings, how they departed from
righteousness in times of peace and prosperity, but when God
punished them with disease, drought, and defeat in battle, they
would turn to Him in submission and obedience. It was true then,
and still is today, that, "When God's judgments are in the earth,
the people learn righteousness. " Israel's conduct before God in
times past, tells the story of succeeding generations down through
the history of time. Persecutions and adversity have always stirred
to action the very best qualities hidden in the hearts of God's
elect, and brought them to action, in humble submission and
obedience. Thus we find as the church passed through the years of
persecution during her wilderness experience, the people remained
pious, loyal, and prayerful.
As we enter the period when the "Earth helped the woman," and
the true followers of Christ came to America, where they could
worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience,
filled with holy zeal, these humble servants of God founded
congregations of pious men and women, holding to the Bible name,
and the true doctrine, keeping the commandments of God and the
faith of Jesus. It is to be regretted, however, that some among the
oldest of these congregations which are still in existence have,
like Israel of old, departed to some degree, from the old paths in
which their forefathers trod. While they still hold to the true
Sabbath and baptism these certain congregations have taken an
unscriptural gospel, and several other important tenets of faith.
This has been true of the church established at Newport, Rhode
Island, and a number of other cities of the east, which we have
mentioned on previous pages of this work, including the church at
Shrewsbury, N.J., which emigrated in a body to what is now Salem,
The Seventh Day Baptists
While the Sabbath-keepers of Europe were under the fire of
persecution, and being driven from one country to another, they
were humble and devoted to God. They trusted in the Lord to lead
and deliver, and were fervent and instant in prayer, and earnest in
spirit. However, after they came to America, and had enjoyed for a
hundred years, or more, the religious liberties granted first by
the charter of William Penn, and later extended to other colonies,
some ceased to pray as earnestly as before, and settled down to a
state of formality in worship, depending upon the laws of man for
security, instead of the intervening hand of God. Consequently,
some began gradually drifting away from the former piety and love
for the Bible, and the Bible only, for their faith and practice,
and took upon themselves another name besides the divinely given of
God. In their history in America, this was mainly among the first
signs which marked their drift toward the world.
In later records of the early Sabbatarians, who later became
known as Seventh Day Baptists, we find them using the name the
church of Christ, and the church of Jesus Christ. See Seventh Day
Baptist Memorial, Vol. 2, p. 27.
Often the names, the Church of God, and the Church of Christ,
were used interchangeably. -- Randolph, History of Seventh Day
Baptists, pp. 11, 12.
In later records we find the name, Sabbatarian Church of
Christ, and Seventh Day Baptist Church of Christ. Later the words
"of Christ" were dropped, and these people became known as Seventh
Day Baptists. -- Idem, p. 36, Vol. 2 No. 1.
After the church at Newport had faithfully held the true light
aloft for one hundred and forty-five years, in obtaining a charter
the year 1819, their name was registered as "The Seventh Day
Baptist Church of Christ."
We get the following from the History of the Seventh Day
Baptists in America, Vol. 2, page 610: "There were no by-laws,
constitution, charter, or articles of faith, save the scriptures,
which were considered all of these." On speaking of the west
Newport church, or Hopkinton church, it further says on this page,
"There seems to have been no special thought that it should have
any special name . . . . It was referred to as the Sabbatarian
church in Westerly (1758). In Hopkinton the church was known as the
Sixty-one years later (1880) the name "Church of Christ" had
been dropped and the name "Seventh Day Baptist" retained, and a
charter given that year under title of "The First Seventh Day
Baptist Church" by the state legislature.
Thus we see how, by consecutive stages, the divine scriptural
titles are supplanted by worldly names, which could not be
pleasing, or bring rejoicing, to the divine courts of heaven.
We have given previously a record where the church at
Shrewsbury, N.J., called themselves the Church of God.
The record of the history of this Sabbatarian church at
Shrewsbury, N.J., begins as follows:
"This is a book of records of the settlement and proceedings
of the Church of Christ, keeping the commandments of God,
particularly the Holy Seventh Day, with the rest of the
commandments of God, and believing and practicing the Holy
Ordinances of the Gospel of Christ and the doctrines thereof." . .
A later record reads:
"The Church of Christ in Shrewsbury and Middletown in the
observation of God's Holy Sanctified Sabbath. First agreed to, the
-- (day) of the sixth month, 1774 . . .13th. We believe that a
company of sincere persons may truly be said to be the Church of
God." -- Idem, p. 20.
It was the Shrewsbury church which in 1789 emigrated to Salem,
West Virginia. The people from Shrewsbury founded the town of New
Salem, Va., now Salem, West Virginia.
Although we know from the records above quoted, the Shrewsbury
church was called the "Church of Christ" and the "Church of God,"
(while in New Jersey), it is a fact that when the church was
reorganized, at Salem, the Bible name was dropped, and the members
denominated themselves "The Seventh Day Baptists," which name is
held by them until this present day.
It is an evident fact, however, that all of the Shrewsbury
members who settled at Salem did not approve of the departure from
the Bible for a church name, for upon settling in other parts of
the State, and organizing other Sabbatarian bodies we find at least
one church re-adopted the name "the Church of Christ." In addition
to Sabbath-keeping, and believers' baptism, by immersion, some of
these members in these assemblies observed other kindred truths
held by the "Church of God" down through the centuries. The
following extracts will bring out these facts:
Feet washing was practiced by some of the early congregations
of the people now called Seventh Day Baptists. The following
extract is taken from an epistle written by the Shrewsbury Church
of Christ, in 1790 to another sister congregation. We quote:
"And now, dear Brethren, we shall use the freedom to acquaint
you with one thing, and do heartily desire to recommend it to your
serious and Christian consideration, and that is about the duty of
washing one another's feet.
"This is a duty and work which some of us have been long
thoughtful and in part persuaded of . . . and have concluded to put
it in practice some time since, in the following manner; viz, at
the . . . Lord's Supper . . . the Elder, in imitation of the Lord,
takes a towel and girds himself; then he pours water in a basin and
begins to wash the disciples' (viz., the brethren's) feet, and from
him they take it, and the brethren to the brethren, and the sisters
to the sisters, they wash one another's feet through the present
assembly." -- page 15, Randolph's History of the Seventh Day
"The practice of feet-washing was continued by this church
after its removal to Virginia (now Salem, W.Va.) but was probably
abandoned at sometime during the first half of the nineteenth
century . . . ." -- Idem, p. 15.
Clark in his history of the Sabbatarians, page 64, states:
"Some of these (western Virginia) churches, believe in the washing
of one another's feet, at appointed times, etc., but the Sabbath
and Baptism are their distinguishing tenets . . ."
Concerning the Passover, or the Lord's Supper, in at least one
assembly of the early Sabbatarians in West Virginia, the following
"March 21, 1853, it was voted that communion service be held
once in twelve months `on the fourteenth day of the first Jewish
month'; i. e., on the evening of the Passover." -- Idem,, p. 201.
The diet of some of the early Sabbatarians in West Virginia,
can be understood from the following extract concerning the South
Fork of Hughes River Church in 1849:
"In their efforts to follow the mandates of the Mosaic law,
the flesh of swine for food was placed under ban. Mutton and beef
tallow took the place of lard in cooking. A few of the more
well-to-do used olive oil." -- Idem, p. 203.
This church was called the "Church of Christ" in its records
as given on page 20, and the Sabbath-keeping body at Lost Creek,
W.Va., was also organized with the same name "Church of Christ," as
recorded on page 146 of this same history.
Another congregation of early Sabbatarians settled on the
South Fork of Hughes River in West Virginia, in Richie County, and
among them were leaders who taught contrary to the Sabbatarians
then known as Seventh Day Baptists. Of these Christians it is
recorded that they "taught obedience to the Ceremonial Law, and
enforced on the church, contrary to the faith of the (Seventh Day
Baptist) Denomination, abstinence from certain meats, peculiarities
of dress, and urged that the church should be governed by elders
exclusively." -- Idem, p. 213.
The above records, we feel justified in saying, are enough to
convince the most skeptical of our readers that the Lord left
Himself not without witness during the centuries following the
colonization of America; but that wherever these saints of God
went, they carried with them the truths held dear to the Church of
God in all ages, and preserved them for us of today.
The Seventh-day Adventists
While certain churches were growing cold and indifferent
toward the truth, drifting toward the world, and becoming like the
Gentiles around them, the Lord was raising up humble servants as
they walked about and taught by the power of the Holy Spirit. New
churches with new blood and new life were brought into existence,
by the grace of God, and a real spiritual revival swept the
country. The truth of the Bible Sabbath, with the fulfilling of
prophecy, was stirring men and women everywhere into action for
William Miller, an earnest prophetical student and minister,
was the main leader in the movement of 1835, in which the time of
the second coming of the Lord was set. His great enthusiasm for
Christ's return, and a partial knowledge of the prophecies, led him
to believe the Lord would come in 1844. From the year 1835 onward,
this belief gripped the minds of young and old alike. Thousands in
every walk of life were anxious to leave the world affairs behind
and prepare to meet Jesus. Commandment observers sprang up in every
quarter, and men and women, fired with zeal, went forth with the
message depriving themselves of the necessities of life, that
precious souls should be won to Christ and prepared to meet him at
his coming. When the expected year arrived. the disappointment was
bitter. Jesus did not come, but this did not dampen their zeal or
slacken their work. Discovering their error in prophetic
calculation and knowing that other conditions must first shape
themselves for the Lord's return, they went on with the truth.
The year of the disappointment, 1844, James White began
publishing The Messenger at Rochester, New York. The name of the
paper was later changed to The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald.
It was launched by devoted Church of God brethren who were led by
the Spirit of God upholding the precious truth, which God had
called them to proclaim.
Names of Ministers from 1844 to 1860
It will be of interest to know who were leaders in the Church
of God in America as the truth spread from state to state toward
the west, and to the north and the south. Some of the leaders were
as follows, J. N. Loughborough, M. E. Cornell, James White, Isaac
Sanborn, Wm. S. Ingrahm, W. M. Allen, Joseph Bates, John Bostwick,
J. N. Andrews, B. F. Snook, E. W. Shortridge, D. Richmond, C.
Stanley, J. Sisley, J. Byington, H. Keeney, R. F. Cornwell, James
Sawyer, B. F Robbins, E. J. Wagoner, B. McCormick, E. E. Taylor, G.
W. Holt, J. Dudley, L. E. Jones, J. P. Fleming, J. Clark, Brother
Butler, S. W. Rhodes, Luther Kerr, Brother Cramner, R. V. Lyons, R.
E. Cotterell, A. C. and D.C. Bordau, A. S. Hutchinson, Brother
Spery, H. S. Garney, M. S. Kellogg, Washington Morse, H. R. Lasher,
State associations were formed and functioning in Missouri,
Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New York,
Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and in several of the southern
states. Two gospel tents were paid for and in operation in the
state of Iowa, and the other state associations had purchased
tents, which were in use, and churches and isolated brethren were
scattered from one end of the country to the other.
The Name of The Church
That the church name at this time was "The Church of God" is
evident from the early writings and experiences and views by Mrs.
Ellen G. White, the wife of James White, editor of the church paper
mentioned above. She wrote numerous volumes called Spiritual Gifts,
and experiences and views, in which she frequently mentioned the
name "Church of God." Also the first songbook published by these
people is dedicated to "The Church of God scattered abroad." This
statement is made in the preface of the book.
Again on page 40 of the church paper of December 18, 1860, we
find the following, under caption of "Resignation":
"Brother Smith, I will be thankful for the privilege of saying
through the Review to my Sabbath-keeping brethren and sisters that
I have so poorly filled the office of a good minister of Jesus
Christ, in my ministration of the Third Angel's Message, in The
Church of God during ELEVEN years past, I do this day resign this
holy office, and retire from my public labors, to a more humble
relation to the church with which I have been associated and which
I still love devotedly." -- Signed, S. W. Rhodes, Habbardsville,
N.Y., Dec. 8, 1860.
This good brother because of declining years, resigns from his
active work as a minister of the "Church of God," which he says he
has been filling for eleven years. This would take the name back to
the year 1849.
The following testimony is borne to the truth of the
Seventh-day Adventists originally retaining the Scriptural name,
"The Church of God." Elder J. M. Orn-Naerem, of Norway, a former
Adventist minister, writes as follows of the records of the old
church, and the changed name:
"I have before me a copy of the work, Advent Review, issue of
1850, which was sent to me by E. S. Ballenger. I cling to this work
as proof that the Adventists had the right church name before 1844,
and onward to 1860, the 3rd of October, at which time the name,
Seventh-day Adventists' was adopted. I conclude in view of this
proof, that Hiram Edson, David Arnold, George W. Holt, Samuel W.
Rhodes, and James White, of whom this first publishing committee
consisted, all belonged to the Church of God, and acknowledged no
other church name as late as 1850. It says that this book was
written in the Holy Spirit by many leaders of the advent movement;
consequently, all those leaders were members of the Church of God,
for this book is published by the Church of God, and not by the
Seventh-day Adventist Church . . . .
"On page 18 of this work is reprinted an article of Elder
Marsh, from the Voice of Truth of May 21, 1845, in which Elder
Marsh is quoted as saying, `Finally we object to the doings of the
Albany conference, because the proceedings as a whole looked like
forming a new sect under a sectarian name, instead of coming to the
order of the New Testament under the name there given to the true
church. It looks like laying plans of our own devising to be acted
upon in the future, when we have in our possession the perfect
economy of the Lord, by which we should be guided, and when we
profess to be looking for his coming every hour.'
"It seems that James White is the editor in charge of
reprinting this extract from Elder Marsh's article, as he finished
with the following remarks:
"We hope and pray that these testimonies may inspire the
hearts of God's children with stronger faith and brighter hope
while they obey the divine injunction -- "Call to remembrance the
former things. " -- J.W.'
"Mrs. Ellen White said, `Before 1844 we were all united in the
truth, but since 1844, in the time of perplexion, many new views
have sprung up, and darkness and confusion have been the result.'
-- This is a citation from a tract, The Daily, by O. A. Johnson,
professor in theology at Walla Walla College, in the State of
Changing the Church Name
We find on the fourth page of the church paper, Review and
Herald of March 19, 1861, an article entitled "Organization," in
which the necessity for a general organization is set forth. The
reasons given are that property holdings including the printing
press and buildings should not be held by private individuals, to
perpetuate confidence in the work and assure unity of effort.
It was further stated, as follows: "Late information from
Lansing, Michigan, gives us to understand that a bill has passed
into law under which we can organize. We shall soon be made
acquainted with the provision, and friends of the cause, who are
waiting to aid by becoming members of this association, will be
given an opportunity of joining us in the work." In subsequent
issues of the paper we find reports given and later a general
organization formed, which we deeply regret was not according to
the Scriptural organization for the Church of God, neither was the
name adopted a Scriptural one.
Again we find God's true people, like Israel of old, desiring
to be like the nations about them (I Samuel, fourth chapter),
forming an organization with a president, vice president and the
general organization patterned after the civil courts of worldly
nations. In the absence of Moses, when he went upon Mount Sinai to
receive the tables of stone, Israel worshiped the calf, and so it
has ever been among God's children. Their history has been one of
repeated backslidings, and the Lord raising up others to carry on
his work in the earth.
As further proof that the church carrying the message of
truth, teaching the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, at
this time was called "The Church of God," we submit the following,
from the Review and Herald of April 9, 1861, under title of
"Secession." It reads as follows:
"Brother Smith: We conclude from present aspects that the
name, Seventh Day Adventist,' is being made obligatory upon our
brethren. Without further light Ohio cannot submit to the name,
'Seventh Day Adventist,' as either a test, or an appropriate name
for God's people.
"Being appointed a finance committee at the last conference,
and having now on hand means for carrying on the cause in Ohio, we
could not conscientiously expend those means in any other than the
advancement and extension of the truth and the `Church of God.'
"If such means are expended otherwise it will be necessary for
the churches in Ohio to assemble in conference, and to give
instruction to that effect, and to choose some other committee to
make the disbursements. "Signed J. Dudley, L. E. Jones, J. P.
Flemming, Finance committee of Ohio."
James White, editor of the Review and Herald, answered as
"The Battle Creek conference October 1, 1860, voted that we
call ourselves `Seventh Day Adventists.' . . . The brethren as far
as we can learn are adopting the name, and we never heard of, or
thought of, its being made a test until we read the above from Ohio
"We will here add that as a friend from Gilboa complains of
the non-publication of an article from Gilboa setting forth the
evidence in favor of the name Church of God, we wish to say that AT
THAT TIME NO ONE connected with the REVIEW office OBJECTED to the
NAME. " -- Signed J. W.
The foregoing is ample proof of the origin of the Seventh Day
Adventist Church, that they are a branch from the original church,
"The Church of God" and came into existence as a separate body
October 1, 1860. The Church of God, however, continued on, holding
forth the banner of truth, as she had done since the days of Jesus.
While this was a great blow to the work, yet there were many strong
spirit-filled men left, who soon launched another paper, and went
about strengthening the work that remained and gathering together
other companies of believers, as it pleased God to add to His
Following this conference several other unscriptural doctrines
began to creep into the Seventh-day Adventist churches, including
the observance of the Lord's Supper quarterly instead of yearly.
This came about through the influence of Mrs. E. G. White, the wife
of the editor, who when a girl, was associated with a church which
still observes the sacred ordinance every three months. The Church
of God has from the days of our Savior practiced the yearly
observance of the Lord's Supper, and some of the churches continued
this practice, not heeding the teachings set forth in the "Early
Writings" of Mrs. E. G. White, who was thought by many to possess
the gift of prophecy, and was considered as a prophetess for the
remnant church, by those who departed from the faith.
Many ministers throughout America and in foreign fields
endorsed the action of the Battle Creek conference, and followed
the advice of their supposed prophetess, not only in the change of
the church name, but in other erroneous teachings which were
creeping in among God's people. Although this falling away,
prophesied by Paul in I Tim. 4:1 to 3, which was to take place in
the "latter times," did much damage to the cause of truth, yet the
work of the Lord continued to go forward. Strong men filled with
the blessed Holy Spirit were not deceived. They went steadily on
undaunted, carrying the true name and the true faith. The following
ministers prominent among the remnant are worthy of mention in this
work: R. V. Lyons of Niagara Falls, New York, Philip Howe and
Luther Kerr of Canada, and Elders Cramner and Thomas Howe of
The following year these brethren and others from surrounding
states met at Battle Creek, Mich., and began the publication of a
monthly paper which they called The Remnant of Israel [sic., the
author means The Hope of Israel]. They decided on this name,
feeling that it was to serve the few left out of this apostasy, who
were truly "The Remnant of Israel." This publication continued, but
the name was changed later to the Sabbath Advocate, and still later
to the Bible Advocate, the name of the present paper.
The next step was the obtaining of a charter in Michigan for
the Church of God there, and the following names were placed on
this document: L. A. Munger, A. E. Case, Seth Munger, Will Slater,
and John Campbell. This charter is still held by the Michigan
brethren, and is in the hands of Elder James Merriam,
district-overseer of that territory.
During the reconstruction period of the church, following this
apostasy, a number of valiant soldiers of the cross contributed
their lives in the gospel ministry and are worthy of mention in
these pages. Some of the most prominent were: S.E. Brinkerhoff,
Jacob Brinkerhoff, A.C. Long, W.C. Long, E.S. Sheffield, David
Leard, N.A. Wells, A.F. Dugger, Jasper Moore, J.C. Branch, Lemiel
Branch, J. R. Goodenough, E. G. Blackmon, Adelbert Branch, J.W.
Niles, S.S. Davison, I.N. Kramer, S.V. Grimm, J.T. Johnson, J. A
Nugent, M. B. Ellis, J.C. Bartlett, J.H. Nicholas, B.F. Snook, R.E.
Caviness, M.C. Cornell, C.E. Carver, L.L. Presler, J.H. Hinds, John
Wilbur, Samuel Davison, and others.
The church paper launched at Battle Creek, Michigan, in 1861,
The Remnant of Israel, was later moved to Marion, Iowa, and still
later to Stanberry, Mo. A general Conference was organized in
Missouri, and state conferences were also organized in various
states with presidents and vice presidents, with a similar
organization as that formed in October, 1860, at Battle Creek,
Michigan, when the name was changed to Seventh Day Adventist. For
some reason, God did not put it upon the hearts of His people at
that day to restore the New Testament organization as set forth by
Jesus and the holy Apostles. As time went on, work was opened up in
foreign fields, and the precious truth found its way into many
countries, and islands of the sea. Hundreds of thousands of tracts
were printed and distributed, together with many books, and for a
period of 72 years from 1861 to 1933 the church continued to send
forth the true doctrine.
In the fall of 1931, it was voted at the General Conference
that the church should send someone to Jerusalem to look after the
work, in view of moving the world headquarters there when
conditions would permit. Arrangements were consequently made for
Elder A.N. Dugger to go and look after this work. A printing press
was given him, while holding meetings in London, by Brother Samuel
Brown, of that city, which was shipped to Jerusalem. During the
summer of 1932, with the assistance of Elder Henry Cohen, a Hebrew
Christian, they published a hundred and fifty thousand gospel
tracts in the Hebrew language, and in August of that year, in
company with Jacob Futerman, David Golden, Jacob Kort, and Henry
Cohen, Elder Dugger went all over Judea, Samaria, and Galilee,
systematically distributing these gospel messengers among all the
Jewish cities and towns.
A good number of Jewish converts were baptized during 1932 in
Palestine, and a number of Hebrew workers started into the gospel
work there. Sister Rose Miller helped much in the good work which
the Lord had laid upon His church to do in the Holy Land.
At this time it seemed that the Spirit of God was moving again
in the camps of Israel, and men filled with the Holy Spirit from
California to the New England states, and from north to south were
impressed with the improper and unscriptural organization of the
church. They were writing to one another in different places of
the evils manifest in state and general elections of presidents,
vice presidents, and suggesting the need of the restoration of the
Scriptural organization of the twelve to look after the spiritual
affairs of the church, and seven to take charge of the financial
business, and also the seventy to go forth two by two in giving the
warning message for the hour.
Two letters, now on file, were written so near the same date
that they passed each other enroute from Battle Creek, Michigan, to
Los Angeles, California. Elder Haeber, in California, wrote the
brother who was at that time in Battle Creek, laying out before him
the need of the Bible organization, as stated above, which he said
had not been suggested by others living in California, as no
correspondence had passed between them or any other minister
previously on the question. Before this letter reached its
destination the brother to whom it was written had also written a
letter to Elder Haeber telling him of the movement that seemed to
be sweeping into the minds of many on the question, and also that
the matter could be brought up the following fall at the General
Conference convening at Stanberry, Mo. Time forbids further
details in the matter, but Elder R. A. Barnes, of Arkansas, and
Elder Ed. Severson, of Oklahoma, had for some time been talking
over the matter between themselves, but unknown to the church in
general. Brother Theodore Gillespie, an old time member of the
Church of God in St. Joseph, Missouri, voluntarily suggested the
matter to Brother A.N. Dugger a few months after his return from
the Holy Land. Neither Brother Dugger, nor anyone else, had
introducted the question to him. He was informed of this being the
opinion of the church at Jerusalem, and that others were seriously
considering the matter.
The Lord Jesus prophesied in Revelation 19:7, 8, concerning
his church in the latter times, as follows: "Let us be glad and
rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is
come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted
that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the
fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
From this Scripture it was understood by many leading brethren
that the church was not ready but she should "Make herself ready,"
as she said. Hence they had set their hearts to prayer, and were
consequently led in one accord to stand for a clean church without
worldly spot or wrinkle; also to form the Scriptural organization,
so when Jesus came to receive his bride, he would find her prepared
and ready, having cast to one side the organization patterned after
the civil organizations of this world, and with world headquarters
moved to the place he himself had chosen. Thus the reorganization
became more and more impressed upon the church, and its needs more
apparent. A set time and place therefore were chosen to perform
this work. It was set for November 4, 1933, and the place chosen
was Salem, West Virginia, U.S.A.
The following account of the reorganization meeting is copied
from the Bible Advocate published at Salem, Nov. 6, of that year.--
THE CHOOSING OF THE TWELVE, THE SEVENTY AND THE SEVEN
Several weeks prior to November 4th, a call was sent to many
countries for prayer that God would again choose men to lead His
church as in the former time. These countries were: Jerusalem,
South Africa, Australia, Egypt, England, Norway, Germany,
Switzerland, China, India, New Zealand, Panama, Japan, Jamaica,
Cuba, Trinidad, Guam, Canada, Nova Scotia, Liberia, Barbados,
Venezuela, Syria, Madagascar, Burma, Newfoundland, and Mexico.
The practice of choice by lot is very ancient among the Jews,
and was practiced also by the early church, Acts 2:23 to 26.
Therefore, after a call to prayer throughout the world was sent
forth, besides to about ten thousand people in America, ministers
and brothers and sisters in Christ met at Salem, W.Va., according
to appointment on Nov. 4th. From one thousand miles westward, to
nine hundred miles northeast, and six hundred miles south, they
came together, most of them arriving Friday. Although tired from
riding great distances, some being up driving for the two previous
nights, they all joined together with the Salem church, and spent
the entire night in fasting and prayer. A wonderful meeting indeed
it was. How good to be there, and how short the passing hours. The
time was not simply endured but enjoyed.
In Salem, the city of peace, many hearts rejoiced with love,
and the sacred presence of God hallowed the meeting.
The meeting was opened by singing, "Oh, To Be More Like
Jesus"; "The Church of God"; and "Humble Thyself to Walk With God."
Beginning on Friday afternoon, we began to fast and remained in
prayer until the early morning hours of the Holy Sabbath, then
letters were gone over from ministers and names gathered, sent in
from far and near. One hundred and forty names were presented, and
a box was prepared from which to draw the names according to the
leadings of God, for these respective offices. As we approached the
set time, it seemed we could feel the presence of God. The power of
His presence through the world circle of prayer was keenly
apparent, and hearts rejoiced in the hope and joy of his salvation.
The congregation then made choice of three men whose names
were placed on separate slips of paper, and dropped into the box.
A prayer was given that God would make choice of one of these
three, whom He could best use and guide in drawing out the
ministers names for the twelve and the seventy. Elder Dodd drew out
one slip which contained the name of Brother John Adams of Salem.
Ministers' names were then placed into the box, and a brief
silent prayer given. It was just a few minutes past eleven A.M.,
Washington time. The names for the Twelve were drawn out in the
following order, by Brother Adams:
No. 1, Elder J. M. Oren-Naerem, of Norway; No. 2, Elder F. C.
Robinson, of Missouri; No. 3, Elder R. A. Barnes, of Arkansas; No.
4, Elder R. L. Taylor, of Oregon; No. 5, Elder C. Heywood, of
Michigan; No. 6, Elder W. W. McMicken, of West Virginia; No. 7,
Elder C. E. Groshans, of Indiana; No. 8, Elder Henry Wood, of
Massachusetts; No. 9, Elder Raymond Saenz, of Mexico; No. 10, Elder
H. Negby, of Palestine; No. 11, Elder John Kiesz, of Missouri; No.
12, Elder Chas. L. Royer, of Connecticut. A prayer of thanks was
now given by Elder Dodd.
These names were written down one by one as chosen, by Elder
O. D. Grimm, acting as Secretary pro tem. Another short season of
silent prayer was then called, and the names of the Seventy were
chosen one by one.
They were as follows in the order of choice:
Elder John Anderson, Mo.; Elder D. Davis, Mich.; Elder H.
Tavel, C. A.; Elder Adolph Gusman, Mex.; Elder William Bodine,
Ark.; Elder Otto Haeber, Calif.; Elder E. H. Shadel, Ark.; Elder
Robert Nance, Ark.; Elder L. M. Jackson, Ala.; Elder William Berry,
South America; Elder W. A. Summers, Okla.; Elder John Brenneise, S.
Dak.; Elder V. Amos, India; Elder Samuel Brown, London, England;
Elder Will Barnes, Ark.; Elder Andrew J. Williams, Texas; Elder J.
E. Benson, Pan.; Elder J. D. Bagwell, Ala.; Elder N. P. Daniel,
India; Elder E. O. Bradberry, Ark.; Elder G. Flores, Elder L. F.
Claspell, Ind.; Elder Kenneth Freeman, W.Va.; Elder V. J. Benjamin,
India; Elder B. Israel, South India; Elder Pete Bartschi, Ark.;
Elder S. A. Oberg, Ore.; Elder H. Snyder, Wash.; Elder J. A.
Ijames, Jr., N.C.; Elder A. H. Stith, Idaho; Elder T. V. Taylor,
La.; Elder D. B. Garcia, Mex.; Elder E. Campos, Mex.; Elder E. P.
Roche, Mich.; Elder J. E. Codrington, Pa.; Elder Noah Barnabas,
Palestine; Elder C. Sobers, New York City; Elder A. C. Turner,
Mich.; Elder E. Echiavaria, Tex.; Elder Herbert Armstrong, Ore.;
Elder A. Steede, Mich.; Elder J. W. Tarver, La.; Elder J. A.
Ijames, N.C.; Elder J. E. Hamilton, C. A.; Elder Allen Castor,
B.W.I.; Elder J. G. Smith, Cal.; Elder L. W. Runyon, Okla.; Elder
C. O. Vallery, La.; Elder J. M. Rodriguez, Tex.; Elder J.
Servantes, Mex.; Elder W. W. West, Calif.; Elder E. J. Younce,
Ill.; Elder V. J. Joseph, India; Elder C. O. Dodd, W. Va.; Elder J.
Siler, Mich.; Elder Archie Craig, Okla.; Elder Roy Kanady, Ark.;
Elder B. Bernsten, China; Elder G. Thompson, Panama Canal; Elder
James Relford, Kan.; Elder Chas. J. Ellis, British West Indies;
Elder Charles Welch, Okla.; Elder E. H. Jenkins, Ark.; Elder Ed.
Severson, Okla.; Elder W. C. Bryce, Tex.; Elder Albert Bodine,
Ark.; Elder Arthur Barnes, Ark.; Elder Hugh Brown, London, England;
Elder Will Briley, Ark.; Elder F. G. Zoller, Neb.
Following a prayer of grateful thanks to our dear heavenly
Father for leading in this work, the assembly proceeded as in Acts
6:1 to 6 in choosing the seven men to place over the business
affairs of the church. The choice resulted as follows:
A. N. Dugger of Missouri, C. O. Dodd of West Virginia, John
Brenneise, of South Dakota, Hugh Miller of Nebraska, F. L. Summers,
of West Virginia, John Adams of West Virginia, R. E. Winsett of
A prayer service followed in which the hands of those of the
Twelve present were laid upon the Seven who were at this meeting
and they were thus set apart for the work assigned, as in Acts 6:6.
A prayer then followed for the officers chosen who were not
present, that God would lead them and fully set them apart for the
life duties thus involved.
It was late in the afternoon, and although the brethren had
been fasting and praying since the beginning of the Sabbath the
evening before, they were not hungry. They had been feasting on
spiritual food, manna from heaven, and it was indeed refreshing to
the soul. All were filled with joy, strengthened by the presence
and power of God, and felt that it was good to be there. _ From
Bible Advocate, page 5, Nov. 6, 1933.
Following the reorganization new life and new activity sprung
forth like the budding trees at springtime. Workers all over the
world were inflamed with zeal to push the Third Angel's Message as
never before, and the Holy Spirit, operating through men and women
to go forth and bear fruit for the Master, was everywhere apparent.
The brethren voted unanimously for the world headquarters to
be Jerusalem, Palestine, and money was secured for the purchase of
a building there for the headquarters building, and the work there
began progressing with a great and wonderful future.
While Jerusalem was chosen for the world headquarters, the
United States headquarters was Salem, West Virginia; the Mexican
headquarters, Mexico City, Mexico, D. F.; European headquarters,
Rosenburg, Egersund, Norway; Indian headquarters, Jonnalapalem,
Penumentra, W. Godavaria, South India.
"The view that a wise and perfect form of church government
and organization was set in order by the New Testament founders of
the church, which has right to continue, and that that order has
been handed down by the apostolic succession, was maintained by
many foreign adherents of the Reformation." "In England this was
taught by Richard Cartwright, the Puritan opponent to Hooker, and
by an entire school of his day." "They appealed to history, and
especially to that of the Alexandrian church, and more especially
to St. Jerome." -- Britannica Encyclopaedia, volume 5, page 759,
It is worthy of note here also that adherents of the early
Puritan and Pilgrim religion strictly taught the observance of the
ten commandments literally, and also the seventh-day Sabbath. The
Puritans being citizens of England, were subject to her state
religion. They were so named because of their ardent desire and
untiring work in attempted church reform, on the Sabbath,
Christmas, Easter, and other erroneous teaching. The Pilgrims were
a body of these people who embarked from England about 1619 on the
Mayflower, bound for America, where they could worship God
according to the dictates of their own conscience. Landing at
Plymouth Rock, under divine favor and blessings, they zealously
taught the true faith in this country, Benjamin Franklin being a
follower, and a zealous Sabbath-keeper. Much history is accessible
of the doctrine and faith of these early adventurers to this new
world, where their influence meant so much in establishing
religious freedom and liberty, through which this nation has
That the succession of apostolic power has come down unbroken
to the days of our pilgrim ancestors, as taught by the school in
the days of Richard Cartwright, is further proven by Cotterill's
Genesis of The Church, where mention is made of the "Seven," who
looked after the business of the church, before the divisions of
Eastern and Western Rome, 395 A.D. This view of apostolic
succession, and heavenly virtue being thus transferred unbroken to
the days of the Puritans, is strongly supported by the history of
the Eastern churches, as well as by living schools of the Anglican.
Gladstone attacks this in a friendly criticism, by expressing
doubt as to why a church would remain silent for some thirteen
centuries and then be able to speak. This mystery, however, is made
clear with a correct understanding of the prophecy of Revelation,
where it was clearly shown beforehand that it would be so. The
church was to go into the wilderness and be nourished there for
1260 years, from the face of her persecutor, the beast. Then as the
earth helped the woman, she was to come forth again. This actually
took place, and while remaining in silence, as far as the world was
concerned, yet she is not only able to speak, but divinely
empowered with the right to do so.
Britannica Encyclopaedia, volume 2, page 194, says, "Very
early, however, the notion that the apostleship is essentially an
hierarchical office, found entrance in the church. Irenius and
Tertullian regard the continuation of the apostolic function."
"This view," it says, "is further developed by Cyprian."
Succession in Apostolic Ordination
The Scriptures teach us most emphatically that the apostolic
virtue and power was handed down from apostle to apostle by the
divine ordinance of laying on of hands and prayer. -- Numbers 8:10,
27:28; Acts 6:6; 13:3; I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:5.
That the Sabbath-keeping "Church of God," has a most definite
link of connection back through holy men to the days of the
apostles is certain. The very same faith, and practice in divine
worship, have been definitely handed down to the present time by
strong men of God, filled with His blessed Holy Spirit, zealous for
the precious commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus, fervent
in zeal, and faithful unto death.
The following extract of history shows how careful the Church
of God has been, from time remote, to preserve this sacred link of
divine virtue, that the true church with apostolic power and purity
might truly be manifest in the world when Jesus returns to make up
The historical narrative following occurred about the year
1350 A.D. Commenius, who published a synopsis of the discipline of
the churches of Bohemia, dwells particularly upon this article
which shows that "a stated ministry was always considered as a
matter of great importance among the Waldensian churches." A
dreadful persecution broke out against the Bohemian brethren, in
the days of Commenius, which produced such havoc among them that he
himself was `the only surviving bishop that escaped.' The scattered
brethren in process of time (about 1350) elected three persons as
qualified for the pastoral office, but `found themselves greatly
perplexed about the ordination.' . . . They resolved to send . . .
one of their pastors, with two other persons, to find out those
Waldenses, and give them an account of what had passed among them,
and especially ask their advice upon the matter in hand. They met
with one Stephen, a Waldensian bishop, who sent for others also
residing in that quarter, with whom they had a conference upon the
doctrines of the gospel and the state of their churches, and by
them the three pastors were ordained by the imposition of hands.
`Hence,' says Dr. Allix `it is abundantly evident, that, as the
Waldenses have preserved the faith that was committed to them, so
have they been as careful to preserve entire amongst them the
ancient discipline of the church; and hence it will follow that
nothing can be more false than that which is pretended, viz., that
they had no kind of lawful ministry among them, but that laymen
took upon themselves the power of preaching, of ordaining
ministers, and administering ordinances.'" p. 258, Jones' Church
History, quoting Dr. Allix's remarks, page 239.
Their religious views are further stated by Allix: "They
declare themselves to be the apostles' successors, to have
apostolical authority, and the keys of binding and loosing. They
hold the church of Rome to be the whore of Babylon, and that all
that obey her are damned, especially the clergy that are subject to
them since the time of Pope Sylvester . . . . They hold that none
of the ordinances of the church that have been introduced since
Christ's ascension ought to be observed, as being of no worth; the
feasts, fasts, orders, blessings, offices of the church, and the
like, they utterly reject." -- Allix, Hist. Anc. People of
Piedmont, p. 209.
A considerable part of the people called Waldenses bore the
significant designation of Sabbati, or Insabbatati. Mr. Jones
alludes to this fact in these words:
"Because they should not observe saint's day, they were
falsely supposed to neglect the Sabbath also, and called
Insabbatati or Insabbathists." -- Hist. Church, chap. 5, sec. 1.
As further evidence in this work clearly shows, the unbroken
link in the true church reaches down to the present, and the claim
is not an empty one, that we still possess in our ministry the same
divine unction and virtue possessed by the ancient people of God.
Through the practice of laying on of hands and prayer, the true
baptism passed down through the centuries. Ministers thus ordained,
in every period, have retained and passed on to others this
ordination power, a peculiar treasure.
The Wilbur Church
As an example of the persecutions the early ministers had to
endure in order to establish congregations in the truth, we shall
give the history of the Wilbur Church of God, which is the oldest
true Church of God now functioning in the state of West Virginia.
It has been faithfully upholding the true gospel since its
organization in 1859, and has always carried the true name, though
originally it was known by outsiders by the term "Nilesites," from
the name of the minister under whom the little company was raised
Elder J. W. Niles, the organizer of the Wilbur congregation,
came from Erie, Pa. He was an able speaker, and feared not to
declare the whole counsel of God, which, of course, brought the
wrath of the evil ones against him. Troublesome times were passed
through by Elder Niles and the little company who dared to live up
to the light of God's word, as revealed in the Bible.
A little congregation of followers of Jesus stepped out from
the world, covenanting to keep the commandments of God and the
testimony of Jesus Christ. Of these we recall the following: John
Pierson and wife, Stephen Wilcox and wife, Samuel Vandegrift Grimm
and wife, Levi Shuman and wife, Ralph Baker and wife, Newton Wilcox
and wife, Perry Brown and wife. Later Hon. Wilcox, Drusilia Wilcox,
Rachel Ann Wilcox, Paul Kirk Wilcox, Leander Shuman, Jennie Shuman,
Asberry Shuman and wife, and Can Vandegrift and wife united with
Not having any church house at the time, they met for worship
at the different homes. Opposition was unrelenting against them,
however. Satan did his best to destroy them, especially the one
responsible for the raising up of the church.
At one particular time a meeting was in progress at the home
of Cornelius Pierson. While Elder Niles was preaching, a noise was
heard without, and upon investigation it was found that Mr. Solomon
Stewart was standing on a log, preaching against what he called
"the strange doctrine of 1859," the "Nilesites" as they were
On another occasion the foot-bridge over the creek was fixed
in such a way that it would throw Elder Niles and John Pierson and
his wife into the waters of the creek and drown them as they
returned home from the meeting. However, as God ever does, His
divine intervening hand was placed around them, and they decided to
stay with Cornelius Pierson for the night, their lives being thus
Another incident is recalled of the severe antagonism that the
church incurred at that time. After the meeting of the evening, and
the family had retired for the night, the house was rocked by
members of the community who were inflamed over the new doctrine as
they called it. The rocks were aimed mostly at Elder Niles; but one
of them struck John Pierson on the head, inflicting a severe wound.
All the windows of the dwelling were broken; but God delivered His
As a last extreme, lies were circulated against the truth. As
no one could withstand the logic of Elder Niles, as he declared the
plan of salvation from the Scriptures, it was put forth that the
Bible used by him was a different one than those used by other
ministers. To prove that it was the same Bible which others
believed in, it was taken to Mr. Davis Hickman, at that time Clerk
of the Court, and upon investigation he declared it to be the same
kind of Bible. However, this assertion is continually met with by
the ministers of the Church of God, on account of the fact that
they use passages from the Holy Writings that other ministers
seldom mention. People being unacquainted with them, believe
another Bible is being used. Ministers should declare the whole
counsel of God, which would, necessarily, bring in all the Bible,
and then the congregations would be acquainted with the entire
word, which is able to make us wise unto salvation, through Christ.
Another false report, which is believed in to this day, was
that the Church at Wilbur appointed the time of the coming Jesus.
It was reported that the day and hour was set for the return of
Jesus to this world; and that upon this set night, the church
assembled prepared to meet the Lord, robed in white garments made
for the occasion. It was also claimed that a hole was cut through
the roof in order that the Lord might alight in their midst more
easily. The reliable of the community did not believe the false
report; yet the more susceptible did, and to this day the
irresponsible have been repeating it, when there is not one iota of
truth in the fable.
The truth of the matter was that the church had met on the
night in question, which was the fourteenth day of the month Nisan,
in the spring time, which was the month and day which were kept as
a passover by the children of God from the night that God by the
hand of Moses led them out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:1-17).
Jesus, who was the light of the world, met on this day and
celebrated the passover with his disciples and then instituted the
"Lord's Supper," instructing them that they should eat it "in
remembrance" of him. -- Luke 22:7-20.
The early church, as the Apostle Paul said, kept the passover
in its season, that is the fourteenth day of Nisan, counting from
the new moon nearest the spring equinox. As the beloved Paul said,
"I have received of the Lord that which I have delivered unto you,
That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took
bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take
eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in
remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when
he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood:
This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as oft
as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's
death till he come." -- I Corinthians 11:23-26.
In other words, the Wilbur brethren were celebrating the
annual observance of the Lord's Supper. Being on the fourteenth
day, it was the same as when Jesus ate it with his disciples. Being
at night, it was the same time that he ate it. Being supper it was
the right kind of a meal. In all this the Church of God has ever
followed the example of her Lord and Master.
The Church of God has never set the time for the coming of the
Lord, and yet they are not in darkness of this event, as others who
do not take heed to the sure word of prophecy. By the signs that
are given in the prophecies of the holy men of God the church ever
knows certain things must come to pass before that event comes upon
the world. Our ministers preach the coming of the Lord, as all good
ministers of Jesus Christ should do. We look forward to its
occurrence, trusting that we will be worthy to stand when it
arrives. Yet we know by the signs of the times that Jesus is
coming, and that soon, too. He is even at the door. -- I
Thessalonians 5:1-6; Rev. 22:20.
Church of God ministers at Wilbur have ever had to defend the
word of truth, and three debates have been held with those who wish
to know the truth of the Scriptures. The most notable of these
discussions were that of Dugger and McVey, and Jones and Moore. The
truth has ever been verified in these discussions, and the Church
of God has continued to stand with it.
Today the Wilbur church does not stand alone, but the world
headquarters has been established at Jerusalem, Israel, according
to a resolution passed at the General Conference of the Church of
God in August 1931, at Stanberry, Missouri, and one of the same
nature passed unanimously at Salem, West Virginia, as mentioned
The church building at Jerusalem will comfortably seat around
one hundred people, and the Publishing House is fully equipped with
two self feeding large printing presses, one of which is an off-set
press which does beautiful color printing. A good Linotype on
which is set five different languages. The Publishing House is
well equipped with all other necessary machinery.
The Israel Bible Correspondence School, with Elder Harry
Schlenker manager, sends out 44 Bible lessons in seven languages,
with more languages being added. At this date, June, 1972, around
three thousand have ordered the lessons in Hebrew from Israel, and
about three hundred in other languages. There are also sixteen
hundred readers of the monthly magazine "Mount Zion Reporter" in
Israel who have sent in their own orders for the paper.
Over sixty thousand New Testaments in the Hebrew language, and
Bibles with both Testaments have been ordered by card and letter
from Israel during the past two years, and have been supplied from
headquarters by those associated together in the Father's work at
The Jerusalem World Headquarters has representatives laboring
in establishing this true faith in about every country of the
world, where many congregations have been raised up, and many
evangelists are laboring. Calls come in to Jerusalem World
Headquarters for Jewish ministers, and they are being sent to
different countries. Two years ago, Elder A.M. Shoemaker was sent
in answer to a call from Kenya, Africa. In about two months labor
there he baptized 284 converts and ordained sixteen men called to
the ministry, and receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
The Jerusalem Messenger, published at Jerusalem, gives many
reports and photographs of groups and workers over the world who
love Jerusalem. Psalm 128:5, 6.
There are a number of other groups of this same faith with
some slight non-essential doctrinal differences in various places
carrying on a good work, and printing various publications from
their national headquarters. We believe they are all gathering
fruit for the kingdom, and the foundation creed of all of these
groups is the same, viz., Revelation 12:17, "the commandments of
Elohim and the testimonies of Yahshua (Christ)."
One of these headquarters is Denver, Colorado; another,
Meridian, Idaho, and some that make the sacred Hebrew names of the
Father and the Son, a special part of their message (Proverbs 30:4;
Psalm 68:4, and 91:14, also 69:35, 36, and Isaiah 52:6) are located
at Junction City, Oregon, and Jackson Gap, Alabama, also The Faith
of Holt, Michigan.
We believe these will all fall in line with the Holy
Scriptures and publicly affirm that Jerusalem was chosen of the
Father, and must be recognized as the World Headquarters by all of
the remnant people holding to the New Testament name, and the true
faith once delivered to the saints, as they are led further by the
We now bring to a close the history of the true church of the
living God. We have endeavored to trace her wanderings before the
cruel hand of the oppressor from country to country, from the holy
city Jerusalem, through Asia Minor, into the mountains and valleys
of Europe, across the Atlantic, into the wilderness of the new
world, America. The course these saints have followed has been
marked with the life blood of the martyrs, who, rather than deny
the true gospel, suffered after the example of Jesus the Author and
Finisher of this faith.
The unquestioned integrity of these true followers of the
Lamb, the purity of their doctrine, and their lives, the ardent
love they manifested for the gospel Jesus preached, the zeal they
evidenced in the face of every opposing foe, as they witnessed to
the truth which they had inherited, the faithfulness which actuated
their lives in the midst of darkness, sin, ignorance and
superstition, have thrilled our very being as we have traced their
path through the centuries to our day.
The fact that the Almighty has not been without witness in
every generation of the gospel age, is evidence indeed that there
is a supreme Architect over all, fashioning the ages as He will,
impelling men by that divine love, which only heaven can give, to
stand firm against every device and agent of Satan. As we look back
upon the faithfulness and martyrdom of those, who in past ages
witnessed for "the faith once delivered unto the saints" of God,
how it should inspire us, the remnant of the children of the woman
driven into the wilderness, to devoutly adore Him the true God, and
uphold the same pristine gospel of Christ for which saints in all
generations have willingly died.
The true faith has come down to us through persecution and
bloodshed. The fact that we have the scriptures for our learning,
and the liberty we now enjoy to worship God according to His Word.
is a heritage we owe not only to God, but also to those who have
died for the true faith. The history of the true church is not yet
completed, and will not be unto the day when the Gospel Age closes
with the coming of the Prince of Peace. Until that day may the same
God, who actuated the lives of the saints of the past who were
faithful unto death, so inspire each reader to hold aloft the true
gospel amidst the trials and persecutions which shall come, and be
among those faithful ones of past generations who shall have a
place among the followers of the Lamb.
"Watch ye therefore and pray always that ye may be accounted
worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to
stand before the Son of man." -- Luke 21:24 to 36.