Wales and England

The Welsh Baptists, found in the mountainous parts of Wales at the time of the Reformation, claimed descent from the Apostles, nor can this claim be successfully disputed. The vale of Carleon, situated between England and the mountainous parts of Wales, was, for centuries, the Piedmont of the Welsh Baptists. Here the ordinances of Christ had been administered since the time of the apostles, and when the Reformation occurred in England, communication was opened between these obscure followers of Christ and the clergy of the establishment. Of the latter, Perry, Wroth, and Ebury adopted the sentiments held by the Baptists of Wales. Ford quotes the following from Thomas' History of Welsh Baptists: "It is no wonder that Perry, Wroth, and Ebury, commonly called the first Baptist reformers in Wales, should have so many followers at once, when we consider that the field of their labors was the vale of Carleon and its vicinity. As they were learned men belonging to that religion established by law, and particularly as they left that establishment and joined the poor Baptists, their names are handed down to posterity, not only by their friends, but also by their foes, because more notice was taken of them than of those scattered Baptists on the mountains of Wales. If this denomination had existed in the country since the year 63, and so severely persecuted, it must be, by this time, an old thing." How many hundred years it had been inhabited by Baptists before William Ebury, it is impossible to tell. It is a fact that cannot be controverted that there were Baptists here at the time of the reformation; and no man on earth can tell when the church was formed, and who began to baptize in this little Piedmont. In the year 1636, the four books of Moses were translated into the Welsh language by William Tyndale, who also translated the Bible into the English language. There are very conclusive evidences that he was a Welsh Baptist, living most of his time in Gloucester, England. It is known that Llewellyn Tyndale and Hezekiah Tyndale were members of the Baptist church in Abergavenny, South Wales. Thus we learn that while Baptists were found on the continent of Europe during the long years of Popish rule and persecution, God had true followers on the Island of Great Britain from time immemorial.

In England, when Henry VIII first severed the bands that attached him to Rome, and established the church of England, the Baptists of that country were emboldened to come forth from their hiding places to find, not peace, but persecutions. In 1535 ten of these faithful followers of the Lamb were put to death, mention being made of them in the Registers of London.

The testimony of the learned Lutheran historian, Mosheim, is so frank and decisive that we give it in his own language: "The true origin of that sect which acquired the denomination of Anabaptists, by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion, and derived that of Mennonites, from that famous man to whom they owe much of their present felicity, is hidden in the depths of antiquity, and is of consequence difficult to be ascertained. They not only considered themselves descendants of the Waldenses, who were so grievously oppressed and persecuted by the despotic heads of the Romish church, but pretend, moreover, to be the purest offspring of those respectable sufferers being opposed to all principles of rebellion on the one hand, and all suggestions of fanaticism on the other. It may be observed that they are not entirely in error when they boast of their descent from the Waldenses, Petrobrussians, and other ancient sects, who are usually considered as witnesses of the truth in times of general darkness and superstition. Before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay concealed in almost all the countries of Europe, particularly in Bohemia, Moravia, Switzerland, and Germany, many persons who adhered tenaciously to the doctrine, etc., which is the true source of all the peculiarities that are to be found in the religious doctrine and discipline of the Anabaptists." - Mosheim's History of the Anabaptists, pp. 490-491.

Such admissions, made by an acknowledged scholar who was not a Baptist, carries with it great weight as testimony. It is as plain as history can make it, that the Baptist church has descended from the Apostles. There remains not a shadow of doubt. When the new world furnished an asylum for the persecuted, across the water came flocks of these liberty-loving disciples, and churches were planted in America. When the yoke of British oppression was broken off, and a new government was formed, the establishment of a state church was prevented, and liberty of conscience was guaranteed, the Baptist influence aiding not a little in bringing about this desirable state of affairs.

Thus we have seen that the gates of hell have not prevailed against the church founded by Christ.

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