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The First London Baptist Confession of. / Published in The Text used: There has been some updating of Old English words – but otherwise no. The First London Baptist Confession of / Published in The Text used: There has been some updating of Old English words – but otherwise no. By Dustin Bruce. During a recent reading of David Bebbington’s Baptists Through the Centuries, his mention of a scholarly dispute regarding.

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Three hundred years ago in there met here in London a General Assembly of Particular Baptist churches. For the first time a representative meeting of such churches nation-wide was possible. After recounting the many items of business transacted, the report of the confrssion states, almost as a postscript. This statement of faith has played a significant role in Baptist life since its first appearance.

It is therefore fitting that we should commemorate its anniversary and particularly appropriate that we should do this in London. This evening we are concerned with the subject of confession making and need to concern ourselves with the events which led confesaion the publication of the Confession in After repeated lonndon to work with a Parliament, Charles managed to govern without one for eleven years from He was supported by his chief religious advisor, William Laud, from archbishop of Canterbury.

Parliament soon londom itself at war with the King. In the following year the London Particular Baptists issued their first confession of faith, partly to explain their teachings to a general public whose understanding of Baptists beliefs was at best confused and at worst jaundiced. It was also intended to be an instrument of instruction for conffession Baptist congregations themselves. In the ensuing years civil war culminated in the rule of Oliver Cromwell, during which period independent religious groups enjoyed a liberty unprecedented in England, and churches multiplied.

These halcyon days ended in with the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in the person of Charles II. Nonconformists then faced over a quarter llondon a century of persecution which varied in intensity from time to time and from place to place. It was during this period of persecution that the Particular Baptists issued their second confession in The overthrow of James II in the Glorious Revolution of made possible the passing of the Toleration of Act confessioh which granted a restricted freedom of worship for orthodox dissenters.

By there were at least seven Particular Baptist churches in London. Strictly their existence was illegal, but the confusion of the times afforded them a fair degree of liberty. They were however the objects of considerable londn.

Suspicions of a subversive attitude towards civil government arose because of fears which went back much earlier to memories of Anabaptist involvement in revolution in Munster in Germany in the s. Memories of those events continued to haunt orthodox Baptists for over a century. The Confession consists of 53 articles and is a full statement of the Particular Baptists position although it is not so detailed as the Second Confession. Its compilers were careful to distance themselves from the Anabaptists.

Later editions stated that it was lawful for a Christian to hold civil office and also to take oaths, both of which had been bapttist among the continental Anabaptists.

The First London Confession was unequivocal in its Calvinism. The five points all have a place in its statements. That the tenders of the Gospel to the conversion of sinners is absolutely free, no way requiring, as absolutely necessary, any qualifications, preparations, terrors of the Law, but onely and alone the naked soule, as a sinner and ungodly to receive Christ as crucified, dead and buried, and risen again, being made a Prince and a Saviouyr for such sinners.

It was also the first of the Baptist confessions to insist on immersion as the correct mode and so reflected a recent innovation in English Baptist practice. Baptisms before appear to have been administered by effusion. This statement of strict communion was strengthened in a separately issued Appendix to the Confession written by Benjamin Cox. Twenty six of its fifty three articles clearly derive from this earlier statement.


There are obvious points of difference. The Separatists were paedobaptists, and, as has already been shown, the Baptists were careful to affirm their distinctives at this point. The Separatists accorded a more significant position to the ministry. Since the first London Particular Baptist Church, located in Wapping emerged from Separatist Independency, it is not surprising to find the doctrinal roots of the Confession in Separatism.

The Confession appeared at a time of great theological debate. Many critics were agreeably surprised to discover how close the Particular Baptists were to Puritan orthodoxy. A vigorous opponent of the Baptists was Dr Daniel Featley, who had been involved in public debate with a group of Baptists in Southwark in Dedicating his book to Parliament he warned that the Baptists would soon bring all the evils of continental Anabaptism to England.

In recent years there have been suggestions that the First London Confession differs from the Second Confession in its teaching on the Law of God. Certainly its teaching is not so developed as that of the later Confession which devotes a whole chapter to the Law. Had the First Confession been antinomian, critics like Featley would have been quick to detect any movement away from the mainline Reformed teaching.

There is no hint of different laws for the Old Testament saints and the New. Both of these statements are taken from the Separatist Confession of with minor verbal differences. The statements of are surely the embryonic points which were to be developed and elaborated in the Second London Confession.

This was submitted to the House of Commons. Featley had objected to the fact that there was no reference to a Christian magistrate and so the omission was rectified. In the light of threats of religious uniformity which were being pressed by Presbyterians, a stronger statement on religious liberty was included. The Calvinism of the Confession was strengthened. Lumpkin suggests that this was the result of the efforts of two former clergymen, Benjamin Cox and Hanserd Knollys, both of whom had become Baptists.


On the other hand both W. Third and fourth editions of the Confession appeared in andby which time the Particular Baptists had won for themselves a place in the life of the nation and could be seen to be orthodox believers.

For the time being their Confession sufficed to explain their beliefs. In there appeared from the press a modest pamphlet entitled Confession of Faith put Forth by the Elders and Brethren of many Congregations of Christians baptized upon Profession of their Faith in London and the Country. This anonymity is not surprising as Baptists and other Nonconformists were suffering persecution in the reign of Charles II. It was however this Confession which was to be recommended to the Particular Baptist Churches by the General Assembly of And this we did, the more abundantly to manifest our consent with them both, in all the fundamental articles of the Christian religion, also with many others whose orthodox confessions have been published to the World, on behalf of the protestants in diverse nations and cities; and also to convince all that we have no itch to clog religion with new words, but to readily acquiesce in that form of sound words which hath been, in consent with the holy scriptures, used by others before us.

It was also intended to heal a serious rift within Calvinistic Baptist ranks. Before the latter issue is considered it is needful to consider the documents from which it drew. In fact 69 turned up and the average daily attendance was between 60 and Later eight commissioners from Scotland were appointed.

These could debate but not vote. The early debates were concerned largely with matters of church government and in this area the Presbyterians won the day. Their system was proposed to Parliament. It was however never fully implemented in England, although the Westminster pattern was accepted in Scotland. More important for our study was the Confession of Faith.

However a proposed ecclesiastical unity between the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland demanded something more. Both the Thirty-Nine Articles and the old Scots Confession had been drawn up in the heat of the Reformation struggle and neither had been scrutinised by a body such as the Assembly of Divines. In Archbishop Whitgift had compiled the Lambeth Articles to strengthen the teaching of the Thirty-Nine Articles on predestination and to check incipient Arminianism.


The Lambeth Articles were never accorded official status in England, although Archbishop Ussher made use of them in the Irish Articles of These Irish Articles appear to have been consulted in the deliberations of the Westminster Assembly.

Preliminary work on the Confession was entrusted to a committee of the Assembly in the Midsummer of Full-scale debates on the details began in July and about a year later the Confession was substantially finished in its first draft. Clearly this was no hasty composition. On 25 th September the first 19 chapters reached the House of Commons and the rest was handed over on 4 th December.

Parliament demanded that proof texts be affixed and sent it back. It returned to Parliament with the necessary proofs in April It was approved in its entirety in Scotland. The earlier statements about the Bible, God and the accomplishment and application of salvation were left untouched.

Calvinism and the London Baptist Confession of 1644 (Part 2)

The Westminster divines included a small group of Amyraldians: Calamy, Seaman, Marshall and Vine, but they were not able to modify the statement on the decree. The proculator or chairman, William Twisse, was a supralapsarian, as was Samuel Rutherford.

The majority of the divines, however, were infralapsarians. The final edition of the Confession concentrated on those areas of common agreement and did not attempt to legislate on the finer points of difference in this area. Warfield however considered that the final shape of the Confession was forged in the experience of these men as preachers and pastors. In the prosecution of their work as practical pastors protecting and indoctrinating their flocks, the Divines had acquired an intimate acquaintance with the prevailing errors and a remarkable facility in the formulation of Reformed doctrine in opposition to them, which bore fruit in their Confessional labours.

Baptist Confession of Faith – Wikipedia

The main source of their Confessional statements was, thus, just the Reformed theology as it had framed itself in their minds during their long experience in teaching it, and had worked itself out into expression in the prosecution of their task as teachers of religion in an age of almost unexampled religious unrest and controversy. The proceedings opened with a discussion as to whether to amend the Westminster Confession or to produce a new one.

With the exception of John Owen all of these men had been members of the Westminster Assembly. The revised confession or Declaration of Faith and Order as it was to be called was unanimously approved by the whole Synod which adjourned on 12 th October after 12 working days. There are however a few differences. A completely new chapter on the Gospel and its gracious extent is added and becomes chapter 20 — it is a mistake to suppose that this chapter was added by the Baptists in Baptkst in matters non-essential is taught in chapter After chapter 32 there is a long section of 30 paragraphs on the congregational order of churches.

This teaches the independence of local churches, arguing that under Christ all church power is invested in o local church which is able to carry out all acts of church authority including the discipline of members and the calling and ordination of ministers.

It recognised the calling of synods to deal with differences between churches and to consider matters of common concern. Such synods have no church power or authority over the separate churches.

By the lojdon the First London Confession was out of print and few copies were available. In the s the Particular Baptists felt an urgent need to consolidate their position.