On the origins of the Six Principle Baptists, and the work of
The first Baptist church in America was started in Rhode Island about 1639 by Roger Williams, who was a separatist minister who fled from religious persecution and started the colony of Rhode Island that men might worship in religious freedom.
Much obscurity hangs over the early life of Roger Williams, but he was probably the son of a merchant tailor of London, James Williams, and his wife Alice. He was born about 1607, and Sir Edward Coke, the great English lawyer, attracted by his promise, secured for him entrance to Sutton’s Hospital. Here he completed his preparatory studies and then entered the University of Cambridge, where he took his bachelor’s degree in 1627. He was offered several livings in the Church of England, but it does not appear that he was ever actually beneficed. He was apparently ordained, since he is described on his arrival at Boston as “a godly minister.” He embraced Puritan principles, and it is even probable that he was a Separatist in principle before leaving England. He determined to leave England, and in 1631 landed in Boston, where he hoped to find greater religious freedom.
He found the Puritans fully intolerant, and was by no means satisfied with the half-way reformation that they were disposed to make. He saw the inconsistency of the New England theocracy, in which the functions of the Church and State were so interblended that the identity of each was in danger of being lost. He had grasped the principle that the Church and the State should be entirely separate and independent each of the other. It is not at all probable that Williams had imbibed these notions from the English Baptists, or that he even knew of their holding such doctrines. At this time he was not, at any rate, an Anabaptist. He found no fault with the Congregational doctrine or discipline, but denounced the principle of a State Church, and upheld the right of soul liberty on natural and scriptural grounds alike.
In spite of his heterodoxy, Williams was called to be minister to the church at Salem, where he was highly esteemed for his zeal and eloquence. The Salem church had acted against the will of the Massachusetts authorities, and to prevent trouble Williams went for a time to Plymouth. He returned to Salem as pastor again, but was soon summoned before the court in Boston and condemned to banishment. The first (and no doubt the chief) charge against him was, “That the magistrate ought not to punish the breach of the first table, otherwise than in such case as did disturb the civil peace.” This was also stated in the decree of banishment as the chief cause: “Whereas, Mr. Roger Williams, one of the elders of the church of Salem, both broached and divulged new and dangerous opinions against the authority of magistrates.” Nothing can be clearer, as a matter of historical record, than that the chief cause of the banishment of Roger Williams was his teaching with regard to religious liberty, that the magistrate has no right to punish breaches of the first table of the law—those commandments, namely, that relate to the worship of God.
After his banishment, Williams made his way, in the dead of winter, to Narragansett Bay. While at Plymouth he had learned something of the Indian dialects, and he was kindly received. At what is now Providence he founded a settlement, many of his former Salem charges removing to this place. The original settlers in 1638 entered into a compact reading thus: “We whose names are hereunder written, being desirous to inhabit in the town of Providence, do promise to submit ourselves in active and passive obedience to all such orders or agencies as shall be made for the public good of the body in an orderly way, by the major consent of the present inhabitants, masters of families, incorporated together into a township, and such others whom they shall admit into the same, only in civil things.” A similar agreement was signed in 1640; the principle was embodied in the code of laws adopted by the colony in 1647, and was finally incorporated in the royal charter given by Charles II. in 1663: “Our royal will and pleasure is, that no person within the said colony, at any time hereafter, shall be in any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences of opinion in matters of religion, and do not actually disturb the civil peace of the said colony.” Thus was founded the first government in the world, whose corner-stone was absolute religious liberty.
It is true that a few other countries had before this, and for periods more or less brief, tolerated what they regarded as heresy; but this was the first government organized on the principle of absolute liberty to all, in such matters of belief and practice as did not conflict with the peace and order of society, or with ordinary good morals. And though this government was insignificant in point of numbers and power, it was the pioneer in a great revolution, its principle having become the fundamental law of every American state, and influenced strongly even the most conservative European states. Though he did not originate the idea of soul liberty, it was given to Roger Williams, in the providence of God, to be its standard-bearer in a new world, where it should have full opportunity to work itself out, and afford by its fruits a demonstration that it is of God and not of man.
Up to this time Williams was not a Baptist; but his continued studies of the Scriptures led him to the belief that the sprinkling of water on an unconscious babe does not constitute obedience to the command of our Lord, “Be baptized.” Having arrived at this conviction, he wished to be baptized; but in this little colony, separated from other civilized countries by an ocean or a wilderness, where was a qualified administrator to be found? In the meantime, other converts to the truth had been made, whether by his agency or by independent study of the word. They resolved to follow the precept and example of Christ in the only way possible to them. Some time about March, 1639, therefore, Williams was baptized by Ezekiel Holliman, who had been a member of his church at Salem; and thereupon Williams baptized ten others, and the first Baptist church on American soil was formed. It is highly probable, though not conclusively established, that this baptism was an immersion. No other baptism is known to have been practised, in a single instance, by American Baptists. There are a number of other instances in the history of American Baptists of the formation of a church after this manner—the constituent members either being ignorant that there were other Christians who agreed with them, or being so far distant from any other Baptists that the procurement of an administrator was out of the question.
The history of General Six-Principle Baptists in America begins in Rhode Island in 1652 when the historic Providence Baptist Church. The occasion was the development within the congregation of an Arminian majority that held to the six principles of Hebrew 6:1-2 - repentance, faith, baptism, laying-on-of-hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life. Of these, the laying-on-of-hands was the only one really distinctive to this body, and that only because it was advocated as mandatory. This rite was used at the baptism and reception of new members symbolizing the reception of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Some Calvinistic Baptist churches were also "Six-Principle," but they did not survive as a separate body. Even the influential Philadelphia Baptist Association (org.1707) added an article concerning laying-on-of-hands to their 1742 reprint of the 1689 London Baptist Confession. A distinguishing feature of these "General" Six-Principle Baptists was that they would not commune with other Baptists who did not observe the laying-on-of-hands. In 1656, members left the Newport, Rhode Island church, the church of John Clarke & Obadiah Holmes, and formed a second Six-Principle Baptist Church. Churches were planted and conferences rose up in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. The Rhode Island Yearly Meeting was formed in 1670, becoming the first Baptist association in America. It was incorporated in 1895 as the General Six-Principle Baptist Conference of Rhode Island. The word "Hope" and the emblem of the anchor (both taken from Hebrews 6) on the flag of Rhode Island attest to the historical influence of Six-Principle Baptists in that state.The 1700’s saw a real explosion of growth among the Baptists in Rhode Island, with many new churches being started at this time. By the end of the eighteeneth century, there were so many Baptists in Rhode Island that it became known as the Baptist State. The New York Yearly Conference was organized around 1824. After 1865, it became known as the General Six-Principle Baptist Association of Pennsylvania. The Six-Principle Baptists of New England were called "General," distinguishing that they held the general view of Christ's atonement (making salvation possible for all men) rather than the particular view (that He atoned for the elect only).
Six-Principle Baptists also existed in England, probably pre-dating those in America. The Standard Confession of 1660 (reprinted below in its entirety) specifies the doctrine of laying-on-of-hands. According to Henry Vedder, "In March, 1690, the churches holding these views formed an Association. This continued with varying fortunes for some years; at its strongest, numbering but eleven churches in England, though there were others in Wales when the Calvinistic Baptists withdrew, and the rest of the churches were gradually absorbed into the General body [Baptist Union]."
Set forth by many of us, who are (falsely) called Ana-Baptists, to inform all Men (in these days of scandal and reproach) of our innocent Belief and Practise; for which we are not only resolved to suffer Persecution, to the loss of our Goods, but also Life itself, rather than to decline the same.
Subscribed to by certain Elders, Deacons, and Brethren, met at London, in the first month (called March, 1660.) in the behalf of themselves, and many others unto whom they belong, in London, and in several Counties of this Nation, who are of the same Faith with us.
After the Way which men call Heresie, so Worship we the God of our Fathers; Believing all things which are written in the Law, and in the Prophets, Acts 24, 4.
Printed by C. D. for F. Smith, at the Elephant and
Castle, near Temple-Barr, 1660.
I. We believe and are verily confident, that there is but one God the Father, of whom are all things, from everlasting to everlasting, glorious, and unwordable in all his attributes, 1 Cor. 8, 6. Isa. 40. 28.
II. That God in the beginning made man upright, and put him into a state and condition of glory, without the least mixture of misery, from which he by transgression fell, and so came into a miserable and mortal estate, subject unto the first death, Gen. 1. 31. Eccles. 7. 29. Gen. 2. 17. 3. 17, 18, 19.
III. That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, who is the only begotten Son of God, born of the virgin Mary; yet as truly Davids Lord, and Davids root, as Davids Son, and Davids Offspring, Luke 20. 44. Revel. 22. 16. whom God freely sent into the world (because of his great love unto the world) who as freely gave himself a ransom for all, 1 Tim. 2. 5, 6. tasting death for every man, Heb. 2. 9. a propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2. 2.
IV. That God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, 2 Pet. 3. 9. and the knowledge of the truth, that they might be saved, 1 Tim. 2. 4. For which end Christ hath commanded, that the Gospel (to wit, the glad tidings of remission of sins) should be preached to every creature, Mark 16. 15. So that no man shall eternally suffer in Hell (that is, the second death) for want of a Christ that died for them, but as the Scripture saith, for denying the Lord that bought them, 2 Pet. 2. 1. or because they believe not in the name of the only begotten Son of God, John 3. 18. Unbelief therefore being the cause why the just and righteous God, will condemn the children of men; it follows against all contradiction, that all men at one time or other, are put into such a capacity, as that (through the grace of God) they may be eternally saved, John 1. 7. Acts 17. 30. Mark 6. 6. Heb. 3. 10, 18, 19. 1 John 5. 10. John 3. 17.
V. That such who first orderly comes into, and are brought up in the school of Christs Church, and waiting there, comes to degrees of Christianity, rightly qualified and considerably gifted by Gods Spirit; ought to exercise their gifts not only in the Church, but also (as occasion serves) to preach to the world (they being approved of by the Church so to do) Acts 11. 22, 23, 24. Acts 11. 19. 20. and that among such some are to be chosen by the Church, and ordained by fasting, prayer, and laying on of hands, for the work of the Ministry, Acts 13. 2, 3. Acts 1. 23. Such so ordained, (and abiding faithful in their work) we own as ministers of the Gospel; but all such who come not first to repent of their sins, believe on the Lord Jesus, and so baptizes in his name for the remission of sins, but are only brought up in the schools of humane learning, to the attaining humane arts, and variety of languages, with many vain curiosities of speech, 1 Cor. 1. 19, 21. 2. 1, 4, 5. seeking rather the gain of large revenues, then the gain of souls to God: such (we say) we utterly deny, being such as have need rather to be taught themselves, than fit to teach others, Rom. 2. 21.
VI. That the way set forth by God for men to be justified in, is by faith in Christ, Rom. 5. 1. [page 5].
That is to say, when men shall assent to the truth of the Gospel, believing with all their hearts, that there is remission of sins, and eternal life to be had in Christ.
And that Christ therefore is most worthy of their constant affections, and subjection to all his Commandements, and therefore resolve with purpose of heart so to subject unto Him in all things, and no longer unto themselves, 2 Cor. 5. 15.
And so, shall (with Godly sorrow for the sins past) commit themselves to His grace, confidently depending upon Him for that which they believe is to be had in Him: such so believing are justified from all their sins, their faith shall be accounted unto them for righteousness, Rom. 4. 22, 23, 24. Rom. 3. 25, 26.
VII. That there is one holy Spirit, the precious gift of God, freely given to such as obey Him, Ephes. 4. 4. Acts 5. 32. that thereby they may be throughly sanctified, and made able (without which they are altogether unable) to abide stedfast in the faith, and to honour the Father, and His Son Christ, the Author and Finisher of their faith; 1 Cor. 6. 11. There are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, the Holy Spirit, and these three are one; which Spirit of promise such have not yet received, (though they speak much of Him) that are so far out of Love, Peace, Long-suffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Meekness, and Temperance, (the fruits of the Spirit, Gal. 5. 22, 23.) as that they breath out much cruelty, and great envy against the Liberties, and peaceable living of such, as are not of their judgment, Though holy as to their conversations.
VIII. That God hath even before the foundation of the world chosen, (or elected) to eternal life, such as believe, and so are in Christ, John 3. 16. Ephes. 1. 4, 2 Thes. 2. 13. yet confident we are, that the purpose of God according to election, was not in the least arising from foreseen faith in, or works of righteousness done by the creature, but only from the mercy, goodness, and compassion dwelling in God, and so it is of Him that calleth, Rom. 9. ii. whose purity and unwordable holiness, cannot admit of any unclean person (or thing) to be in His presence, therefore His decree of mercy reaches only the Godly man, whom (saith David) God hath set apart for Himself, Psal. 4. 3.
IX. That men not considered simply as men, but ungodly men, were of old ordained to condemnation, considered as such, who turn [page 6] the grace of God unto wantonness, and deny the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, Jude 4. God indeed sends a strong delusion to men, that they might be damned; but we observe that they are such (as saith the Apostle) that received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, 2 Thes. 2. 10, 11, 12. and so the indignation and wrath of God, is upon every soul of man that doth evil, (living and dying therein,) for there is no respect of persons with God. Rom. 2. 9, 10, 11.
X. That all children dying in infancy, having not actually transgressed against the Law of God in their own persons, are only subject to the first death, which comes upon them by the sin of the first Adam, from whence they shall be all raised by the second Adam; and not that any one of them (dying in that estate) shall suffer for Adams sin, eternal punishment in Hell. (which is the second death) for of such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven, 1 Cor. 15. 22. Mat. 19. 14. not daring to conclude with that uncharitable opinion of others, who though they plead much for the bringing of children into the visible Church here on earth by baptism, yet nevertheless by their doctrine that Christ died but far some, shut a great part of them out of the Kingdom of Heaven forever.
XI. That the right and only way, of gathering churches, (according to Christs appointment, Mat. 28. 19, 20.) is first to teach, or preach the Gospel, Mark 16. 16. to the sons and daughters of men; and then to baptise (that is, in English, to dip) in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; such only of them, as profess repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, Acts. 2. 38. Acts 8. 12. Acts 18. 8. And as for all such who preach not this doctrine, but instead thereof, that Scriptureless thing of sprinkling of infants (falsly called baptism) whereby the pure word of God is made of no effect, and the New Testament way of bringing in members, into the Church by regeneration, cast out; when as the bond-woman & her son, that is to say, the Old Testament way of bringing in children into the Church by generation, is cast out, as saith the Scripture, Gal. 4. 30, 22, 23, 24. Mat. 3. 8, 9. all such we utterly deny, forasmuch as we are commanded to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove them, Ephes. 5. 11.
XII. That it is the duty of all such who are believers baptized, to draw nigh unto God in submission to that principle of Christs Doctrine, to wit, prayer and laying on of hands, that they may receive the promise of the Holy Spirit, Heb. 6. 1. 2. Acts 8. 12, 15, 17. Acts 19. 6. 2 Tim. 1. 6. whereby they may mortify the deeds of the body, Rom. 8. 13. and live in all things answerable to their professed intentions, and desires, even to the honour of Him, Who hath called them out of darkness into His marvellous light.
XIII. That it is the duty of such who are constituted as aforesaid, to continue stedfastly in Christs and the Apostles Doctrine, and assembling together, in fellowship, in breaking of bread, and prayer, Acts 2. 42.
XIV. That although we thus declare the primitive way, and order of constituting Churches, yet we verily believe, and also we dare, that unless men so professing, and practising the form and order of Christ's Doctrine, shall also beautify the same with a holy and wise conversation, in all Godliness and honesty; the profession of the visible form will be rendered to them of no effect; for without holiness no man shall see the Lord, Heb. 12. 14. Isa. 1. 11, 12, 15, 16.
XV. That the elders or pastors which God hath appointed to oversee, and feed his Church (constituted as aforesaid) are such, who first being of the number of disciples, shall in time appear to be vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not greedy of filthy lucre (as too many National Ministers are) but patient; not a brawler, not coveteous, and as such chose, and ordained to office (according to the order of Scripture, Acts 14. I 23.) who are to feed the flock with meat in due season, and in much love to rule over them, with all care, seeking after such as go astray; but as for all such who labour to feed themselves with the fat, more than to feed the flock, Ezek. 34. 2, 3. seeking more after theirs, than them, expressly contrary to the practice of the ministers of old, who said, we seek not yours, but you, 2 Cor. 12. 14. All such we utterly deny, and hereby bear our continued testimony against, Ezek. 34.
XVI. That the ministers of Christ, that have freely received from God, ought freely to minister to others, 1 Cor. 9. 17. and that such who have spiritual things, freely ministered unto them, ought freely to communicate necessary things to the ministers, (upon the account of their charge) 1 Cor. 9. 11. Gal. 6. 6. And as for tithes, or any forced maintenance, we utterly deny to be the main tenance of Gospel ministers.
XVII. That the true Church of Christ, ought after the first and second admonition, to reject all heretics, Tit. 3. 10, 11. and in the name of the Lord to withdraw from all such, as profess the way of the Lord, but walks disorderly in their conversations, 2 Thes. 3. 6. or any ways causes divisions or offenses, contrary to the Doctrine (of Christ) which they have learned, Rom. 16. 17.
XVIII. That such who are true believers, even branches in Christ the Vine, (and that in his account, whom he exhorts to abide in him, John 15. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.) or such who have charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned, 1 Tim. 1. 5. may nevertheless for want of watchfulness, swerve and turn aside from the same, vers. 6, 7. and become as withered branches, cast into the fire and burned, John. 15. 6. But such who add unto their faith virtue, and unto virtue knowledge, and unto knowledge temperance, 2 Pet. 1 5, 6, 7. such shall never fall, vers. 8, 9, 10. ‘tis impossible for all the false Christs, and false prophets, that are, and are to come, to deceive such, for they are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation, 1 Pet. 1. 5.
XIX. That the poor saints belonging to the Church of Christ, are to be sufficiently provided for by the churches, that they neither want food or rayment, and this by a, free and voluntary contribution, (and not of necessity, or by the constraint or power of the magistrate) 2 Cor. 9. 7. 1 Cor. 8. 11, 12, and this through the free and voluntary help of the deacons, (called overseers of the poor) being faithful men, chosen by the church, and ordained by prayer and laying on of hands, to that work, Acts 6. 1, 2. 3, 4, 5, 6. So that there is no need in the Church of Christ, of a magesterial compulsion in this case, as there is among others, who being constituted in a fleshly and generational way, are necessitated to make use of a carnal sword, to compel even a small, mean, and short maintenance for their poor; when as many other members of their churches, can and do part with great and large sums of money, to maintain their vain fashions, gold, pearls, and costly array, which is expressly contrary to the Word of God. 1 Tim. 2. 9, 10. 1 Pet. 3. 3. Alas, what will such do when God riseth up, and when he visiteth, what will they answer him? Job 31. 14. [page 9]
XX. That there shall be (through Christ who was dead, but is alive again from the dead) a resurrection of all men from the graves of the earth, Isa. 26. 19. both the just and the unjust, Acts 24. 15. that is, the fleshy bodies of men, sown into the graves of the earth, corruptible, dishonorable, weak, natural, (which so considered cannot inherit the Kingdom of God) shall be raised again, incorruptible, in glory, in power, spiritual, and so considered, the bodies of the saints, (united again to their spirits) which here suffer for Christ, shall inherit the Kingdom, reigning together with Christ, 1 Cor. 15. 21, 22, 42, 43, 44, 49.
XXI. That there shall be after the resurrection from the graves of the earth, an eternal judgment, at the appearing of Christ, and his Kingdom, 2 Tim. 4. 1. Heb. 9. 27. at which time of judgment which is unalterable, and irrevocable, every man shall receive according to the things done in his body, 2 Cor. 5. 10.
XXII. That the same Lord Jesus who shewed himself alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs, Acts I. 3. which was taken up from the disciples, and carried up into Heaven, Luke 24. 51. shall so come in like manner as he was seen go into Heaven, Acts. 1. 9, 10.
And when Christ who is our life shall appear, we shall also appear with Him in glory, Col. 3. 4. For then shall he be King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, Rev. 19. 16. for the Kingdom is his, and he is the Governor among the Nations, Psal. 22. 28. and King over all the earth, Zech. 14. 9. and we shall reign (with him) on the Earth, Rev. 5. 10. the Kingdoms of this World, (which men so mightily strive after here to enjoy) shall become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and his Christ, Rev. 11. 15. for all is yours, (O ye that overcome this world) for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's, 1 Cor. 3. 22, 23. For unto the saints shall be given the Kingdom, and the greatness of the Kingdom, under the whole Heaven, Dan. 7. 27. Though (alas) now many men be scarce content that the saints should have so much as being among them; but when Christ shall appear, then shall be their day, then shall be given unto them power over the nations, to rule them with a rod of iron, Rev. 2. 26, 27. then shall they receive a crown of life, which no man shall take from them, nor they by any means turned, or overturned from it, for the oppressor shall be broken in pieces, Psal. 72. 4. and their now vain, rejoicings turned into mourning, and bitter Lamentations, as ‘tis written, Job 20. 5, 6, 7. The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment; though his excellency mount up to the Heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds, yet shall he perish for ever, like his own dung; they which have seen him, shall say, where is he?
XXIII. That the holy Scriptures is the rule whereby saints both in matters of faith, and conversation are to be regulated, they being able to make men wise unto salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus, profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works, 2 Tim. 3. 15, 16, 17. John 20. 31. Isa. 8. 20.
XXIV. That it is the will, and mind of God (in these Gospel times) that all men should have the free liberty of their own consciences in matters of religion, or worship, without the least oppression, or persecution, as simply upon that account; and that for any in authority otherwise to act, we confidently believe is expressly contrary to the mind of Christ, who requires that whatsoever men would that others should do unto them, they should even so do unto others, Mat. 7. 12. and that the tares, and the wheat should grow together in the field, (which is the world) until the harvest (which is the end of the world,) Mat. 13. 29, 30, 38, 39.
XXV. We believe that there ought to be civil magistrates in all nations, for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well, 1 Pet. 2. 14. And that all wicked lewdness, and fleshly filthiness, contrary to just and wholesome (civil) laws, ought to be punished according to the nature of the offences; and this without respect of any persons, religion, or profession whatsoever; and that we and all men are obliged by Gospel rules, to be subject to the higher powers, to obey magistrates, Tit. 3. 1. and to submit to every ordinance of man, for the Lords sake, as saith Peter 2. 13. But in case the civil powers do, or shall at any time impose things about matters of religion, which we through conscience to God cannot actually obey, then we with Peter also do say, that we ought (in such cases) to obey God rather than men; Acts 5. 29. and accordingly do hereby declare our whole, and holy intent and purpose, that (through the help of grace) we will not yield, nor (in such cases) in the least actually obey them; yet humbly purposing (in the Lords strength) patiently to suffer whatsoever shall be inflicted upon us, for our conscionable forbearance.
These things (O ye Sons and Daughters of Men) we verily believe to be the Lords will and mind, and therefore cannot but speak, and if herein we differ front many, yea from multitudes, from the learned, the wise and prudent of this world, we (with Peter and John) do herein make our solemn, and serious appeal, namely, whether it be right in the sight of God, to hearken unto men, (of a contrary persuasion) more than unto God? Oh let the judicious, judge righteous judgement! Acts 4. 19, 20.
And in the belief, and practice of these things, (it being the good old Apostolic way) our souls have found that rest, and soul peace, which the world knows not, and which they cannot take from us; of whom then should we be afraid? God is become our strength, our light, our salvation; therefore, we are resolved (through grace) to seal the truth or these things in way of suffering persecution, not only to the loss of our goods, freedoms, or liberties, but with our lives also (if called thereunto.)
Moreover we do utterly, and from our very hearts, in the Lords fear, declare against all those wicked, and devilish reports, and reproaches, falsly cast upon us, as though some of us (in & about the city of London) had lately gotten knives, booked knives, and the like, and great store of arms besides what was given forth by order of Parliament, intending to cut the throats of such as were contrary minded to us in matters of Religion, and that many such knives, and armies, for the carrying on some secret design, hath been found in some of our houses by search; we say, from truth of heart, in the Lords fear, that we do utterly abhor and abominate the thoughts thereof, and much more the actions; and do hereby challenge both city, and country (in our innocency herein) as being not able to prove the things whereof they accuse us; and do for evermore declare the inventors of such reports, to be liars, and wicked devisers of mischief, and corrupt designs:. God that is above all will justify our innocency herein, who well knows our integrity, in what we here declare, the Lord lay it not to their charge.
In the time of building the decayed House of God, Samballet, & Tobiah, (wicked counsellors) hired Shemaiah to make good Nehemiah afraid; and laboured against him, that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach him, and hinder the building of the house of God. Neh. 6. 12. For I have heard (saith the Prophet) the defaming of many; report, say they, and we will report it, Jer. 20. 10.
Suscribed by certain Elders, Deacons, and Brethren met at London, in the first Month (called March, 1660.) in the behalf of themselves, and many others unto whom they be long, in London, and in several Counties of this Nation, who are of the same Faith with Us.
John Parsons, Senior
John Parsons, Junior,
Whether the present First Baptist Church of Providence is the lineal successor of this church founded by Roger Williams is a difficult historical question, about which a positive opinion should be expressed with qualification. Tradition maintains that the line of succession has been unbroken; but the records to prove this are lacking. The facts appear to be that after the departure of Williams, one of those whom he had baptized, Thomas Olney, became the head of the church, to which was added soon after a number of new-corners, chief among which were William Wickendon, Chad Brown, and Gregory Dexter. The original members were of Puritan antecedents and Calvinists; the new-corners appear to have been Arminians, and inclined to make the laying on of hands after baptism an article of faith. It has been conjectured that the three men named were associated with Olney in a plural eldership, but all these matters are doubtful since the earliest records of the Providence church begin with the year 1775, and before that we have only tradition and conjecture. All that is certain is that controversy began and continued until it reached the acute stage in 1652, when the church was divided. A part, the smaller apparently, adhered to the original faith of the church, and remained under the pastoral care of Thomas Olney. This wing of the church became extinct somewhere about 1720. The larger part of the members adhered to Wickendon, Brown, and Dexter, and became a Six-principle church, remaining such until a comparatively late time in 1771, when through the influence of President James Manning, the majority adopted a Calvinistic creed, whereupon the Six-principle minority seceded. Both these branches still survive, the former now bearing the title of the First Baptist Church of Providence.
During the 17th and 18th centuries there were a number of issues and controversies that developed among the Baptists that brought about much disagreement and division. The Six Principle Baptists, who originated in the mid 1600’s, insisted that the "laying on of hands" (Heb.6:1-2) be practiced as a mandatory ordinance of the church. Others disagreed, saying that was a good practice, but not necessary. There were also disagreements between Calvinists and Arminians, with Six Principle Baptists generally holding to the latter position.
THE FIVE ARMINIAN ARTICLES OF REMONSTRANTS
God has decreed to save through Jesus Christ those of the fallen and sinful race who through the grace of the Holy Spirit believe in him, but leaves in sin the incorrigible and unbelieving.--John 3:36
Christ died for all men but no one except the believer has remission of sin.--John 3:16; I John 2:2
Man can neither of himself nor of his free will do anything truly good until he is born again of God, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit.--John 15:5
All good deeds or movements in the regenerate must be ascribed to the grace of God but his grace is not irresistible.--Acts 7
Those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith have power given them through the assisting grace of the Holy Spirit to persevere in the faith.-- John 10:28
In 1954, the Rhode Island Conference lifted their ban on communing with other Christians, preparing the way for their assimilation into the broader Baptist community. One of the last historical churches to survive is the Stony Lane Six Principle Baptist Church in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. According to their pastor, "We keep the name only for historical purposes and to our knowledge we are the last church to use it in our official name. We don't include it in our stationary etc., nor do we hold to the specific teaching of highlighting Hebrews 6:1-2 over other parts of Scripture." According to Albert Wardin there is also "...one church, located in Pennsylvania, which still carries Six Principle in its name, but its current pastor does not observe all the six principles." This, the Pine Grove Church of Nicholson, Pennsylvania, and the Stony Lane Church, were the last two churches to be considered historically Six-Principle Baptist.
Saddened by the dissolution of the historic Six-Principle denomination, a small group of Baptist ministers began a reorganization of the movement in 2001. This incorporated reorganization movement was officially renamed on July 10, 2003 as the General Association of Six-Principle Baptist Churches, Inc. It is also known as the General Association of Six-Principle Baptists which is more descriptive of the fact that the General Association includes not only churches, but individuals, ministers, and ministries.
"We believe that laying on of hands, with prayer, upon baptised believers, as such, is an ordinance of Christ, and ought to be submitted unto by all such persons that are admitted to partake of the Lord's Supper, and that the end of this ordinance is not for the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, but for a farther reception of the Holy Spirit of promise, or for the addition of the graces of the Spirit, and the influences thereof; to confirm, strengthen, and comfort them in Christ Jesus, it being ratified and established by the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit in the primitive times, to abide in the church as meeting together on the first day of the week was, that being the day of worship, or christian sabbath, under the Gospel, and as preaching the word was, and as baptism was, and prayer was, and singing psalms, etc. was, so this laying on of hands was, for as the whole Gospel was confirmed by signs and wonders, and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost in general, so was every ordinance in like manner confirmed in particular. "
- Philadelphia Baptist Confession, Chapter 31
This treatise is not an original work, but contains the results of research by many different scholars. My only contributions have been in correcting various grammatical errors and misspellings and the collection of this material into this format. Some, but by no means all, of these sources are:
· Annual Reports, Rhode Island Conference
· History of The General or Six Principle Baptists in Europe and America, by Richard Knight
· A Short History of Baptists, by Henry Vedder
· Doing Diversity Baptist Style, by Albert W. Wardin, Jr.
· Dictionary of Baptists in America, Bill J. Leonard, editor
· Baptists Around the World, by Albert W. Wardin, Jr.