Did They Dip?
THE ANABAPTISTS OF THE CONTINENT.
Dr. Whitsitt makes the broadest claims that all of the Anabaptists of Germany and Holland practiced sprinkling. His words are:
"But none of the Anabaptists of Holland, or of the adjacent sections of Germany, were immersionists. So far as any account of them has come to light, they were uniformly in the practice of pouring or sprinkling for baptism, excepting the Collegiants, who, at Rhynsburg, began to immerse in 1620." (Page 35).
"The Anabaptists of Holland appear to have been, without exception, engaged in the practice of pouring and sprinkling." (Page 42).
Here is the affirmation of a universal negative, which would require omniscience to prove. He would be compelled to know every circumstance of every baptism which took place among many thousands of persons scattered over many countries for more than one hundred years. If just one Anabaptist was immersed, his thesis falls to the ground. Beyond the impossibility of sustaining such a position, two considerations will answer all that Dr. Whitsitt has said in regard to the Anabaptists of Holland and Germany practicing sprinkling:
1. All who were called Anabaptists were not Anabaptists. It was a general name for many classes of people, and the true Anabaptists had to suffer much for the sins of others. Many who went under this name, were Lutherans and other Pedobaptists, who had embraced certain fanatical opinions, and were denounced as Anabaptists. In reality they never embraced the Anabaptist faith at all. Fuslin very properly remarks:
"There was a great difference between Anabaptists and Anabaptists. There were those among them who held strange doctrines; but this cannot be said of the whole sect. If we should attribute to every sect whatever senseless doctrines two or three fanciful fellows have taught, there is not one in the world to which we could not ascribe the most abominable errors." Beytrage Vol. II).
It is certain, that many persons who were called Anabaptists were never such in reality; and it is also certain that many such practiced sprinkling.
2. It must be remembered that this was a time of revolution. Men were constantly changing their minds. The opinion of a man yesterday would not be the opinion of the same man today. On no point was this more true than on the subject of baptism. The ranks of the Anabaptists were constantly augmented from the ranks of the Catholic and Reformed Churches. The investigation of the word of God was a new thing, and some arrived at the truth slowly. This was eminently true of the act of baptism. Men came out of the Reformed Churches and for a time held on to sprinkling and pouring, and they were termed Anabaptists, but this was not Anabaptist doctrine, any more than it is Baptist doctrine today. This may be illustrated by Grebel, one of the most noted Anabaptist preachers of his day. It is said of Mantz, to whom Dr. Whitsitt refers that "he fell upon his knees, and Grebel baptized him." (Cornelius, Geschichte des Munsterischen Aufrouhrs, Leipsig, 1860. Vol. II., s. 26, 27). And yet shortly after that Grebel became a full Anabaptist and only practiced immersion. This will explain some apparent cases where sprinkling seemed to be practiced among the Anabaptists. The normal mode of baptism among the early Anabaptists was immersion, and I shall point out an abundance of testimony to confirm this proposition.
Dr. Henry S. Burrage, very beautifully says on this point:
"The Bible was read, its divine lessons were earnestly and tenderly unfolded, and sinners were urged to flee from the wrath to come. It was a new gospel to thousands, and multitudes with tears of repentance asked the privilege of confessing faith in Christ, retiring to some mountain stream to exclaim with the Eunuch, 'See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?' The solemn ordinance was administered, and coming forth from the water both the convert and the bearer of the glad tidings 'went on their way rejoicing."' (The Anabaptists of Switzerland, p. 108, Philadelphia, 1882).
We are not at all shut up to a negative view of this question. Fortunately we have much positive evidence that the Anabaptists did practice dipping. Luther was a firm believer in dipping, and understood the Anabaptists to be dippers. Indeed some charge that the Anabaptists took the cue for their immersions from Luther himself. Robinson says:
"Luther bore the Zuinglians dogmatizing; but he could not brook a further reformation in the hands of the dippers. What renders the great man's conduct the more surprising is, that he had himself, seven years before, taught the doctrine of dipping. * * * The Catholics tax Luther as being the father of the German dippers, some of the first expressly declare, they received their first ideas from him, and the fact seems undeniable, but the article of reforming without him he could not bear. This is the crime objected against them, as it had been against Carolostadt. This exasperated him to the last degree, and he became their enemy, and notwithstanding all he had said in favor of dipping, persecuted them under the title of re-dippers, re-baptizers, or Anabaptists. It. is not an improbable conjecture, that Luther at first conformed to his own principles, and dipped infants in baptism." (Ecclesiastical Researches, pp. 542, 543. Cambridge, 1792).
The translator of Luther's Controversial Works, speaking of Luther's sermon on baptism says: "The sermon and letters are directed principally against the Anabaptists, a fanatical sect of reformers who contended that baptism should be administered to adults only, not by sprinkling, but by dipping."
Zuingle, 1527, entitles his great work against the Anabaptists, Elenchus contra Catabaptistas. (Zuinglii Operum, Vol. II., pp. 1-42. Ed. 580).8o). He gives an early Confession of Faith of the Anabaptists. He upbraids his opponents as having published these articles, but declares that there is scarcely any one of them that has not a written copy of these laws which have been so well concealed. The articles are in all seven. In reality it is the Schleitham Confession of Faith. The first, which we give in full, relates to baptism:
"Baptism ought to be given to all who have been taught repentance and change of life, and who in truth believe that through Christ their sins are blotted out, and the sins of all who are willing to walk in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and who are willing to be buried with him into death, that they may rise again with him. To all, therefore, who in this manner seek baptism, and of themselves ask us, we will give it. By this rule are excluded all baptism of infants, the great abomination of the Roman pontiff. For this article we have the strength and testimony of Scripture; we have also the practice of the apostles; which things we simply and also steadfastly will observe, for we are assured of them."
Zuingle makes all manner of fun of the Anabaptists, calling them " immersionists, dying people, re-dying them, plunging them into the darkness of water to unite them to a church of darkness, they mersed," etc.
In 1525 Zuingle calls the Anabaptists "bath (I should have said) Baptist, companions." (Zuingle's Works, Vol. II., s. 240).
It will be seen from the above that not only does Zuingle declare the Anabaptists to be dippers, but he calls them Catabaptists. This term will be found in many places in this book, and so I wish to have a definition of the term. My first witness as to the meaning of the word Catabaptist shall be Dr. Whitsitt. When Dr. Whitsitt is writing under constraint and trying to establish a case, Catabaptist means "against baptism," but when he was writing without constraint the word meant "a dipper."
Dr. Whitsitt in The Independent, 1880:
The ceremony referred to was anabaptism, rebaptism by sprinkling and not "catabaptism," or baptism by immersion.
Dr. Whitsitt in his book, 1896:
It used to be said that the word Kata baptist, so often applied to Anabaptists by their opponents during the Reformation period, contained indisputable proof that they were immersionists. The preposition kata, in its primary or local usage, means down, and so, it was argued, Katabaptist must have been one who baptized downwards, that is, immersed. But just as ana, meaning primarily up,came to be used in the sense of again,so kata, in several technical terms, means against.
Which statement of Dr. Whitsitt shall we believe? The first of course, for that is in accord with all scholarship. Liddell and Scott, the great Greek lexicographers, in their seventh edition, say:
Katabaptizo to dip under water, to drown.
Katabaptistas, one who drowns.
Dr. K. R. Hagenbach says of the Anabaptists:
"'Since,' says Bullinger, 'kindness was of no avail with them, they were put into the high tower in the lower town, the one called the Witches' or New Tower. There were fourteen men and seven women of them. There they were fed on bread and water, to see whether it was possible to turn them from their error.' The threat of drowning was even administered in barbarous irony, for 'he who dips,' it was declared, 'shall himself be dipped."' (History of the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland, Vol. II., p. 33).
That the Anabaptists, or Mennonites, of Holland immersed we have many proofs. One of Dr. Whitsitt's principal witnesses is Baillie, and I show, in the chapter on English Baptists, that he admits that the Mennonites were dippers. Another one of Dr. Whitsitt's witnesses is Robinson. He is clear enough on this point. Robinson says:
"Menno, the father of the Dutch Baptists, says, 'after we have searched ever so diligently, we shall find no other baptism beside dipping in water (doopsel inder water) which is acceptable to God and maintained in his word.' (Mennonis Simonis, Opera, 1539, page 24). Menno was dipped himself, and he baptized others by dipping; but some of his followers introduced pouring, as they imagined through necessity, in prison, and now the practice generally prevails." (History of Baptism, pp. 694, 695. Nashville, 1860).
I now introduce an authoritative witness. It is Gerard Brandt, the brilliant historian of the Low Countries. This work was first published in 1671. He says:
"The Reformation exclusive of Infant-baptism, was set on foot in Switzerland about the year 1522, by the zeal of Conrad Grebel and Felix Mans, both men of learning, who fell out with Zuinglius, about the said opinion. Upon-account of this difference was the first Edict against Anabaptists published at Zurich; in which there was a Penalty of a Silver Park (or two Guilders, Dutch money) set upon all such as should suffer themselves to be Re-baptized, or should withhold Baptism from their Children. And it was further declared, That those who openly opposed this Order, should be yet more severely treated. Accordingly the said Felix was drowned in Zurich upon the sentence pronounced by Zuinglius, in these four words: *Qui iterum mergit, mergatur; that is, he that rebaptizes with water, let him be drowned in the water. This happened in the year 1526; but about the same time, and since, there were more of them put to death: A procedure which appeared very strange to some: The Zuinglians, they said, were scarce got out of the reach of Persecution themselves, and saw those fires in which their fellow-believers were burnt, still daily smooking most of them condemned the putting hereticks to death, where it came home to themselves, where they were uppermost. Thus doing to others what they would not have done to them. Others abused fire, they water. Those who knew better things ought to have done better. Neither
*Those who immerse again, shall be immersed.
were they acted by a good spirit, they could lead the Wanderer into the ditch, instead of setting him in the right way; they could drown the infected instead of washing and cleansing him; or burn the Blind instead of restoring him to the light.
"The first Anabaptists so far as I can gather from their own Writings, that were put to death for their persuasions in Holland, during the reign of Popery, were John Wadon, and two of his fraternity of Waterlandt; and all of these three were, with a slow fire, rather roasted than burnt to death in the Hague, in the year 1527. At Brussels the Dean of Louvain, Inquisitor of Brabrant, Holland, and the neighboring Counties, condemned partly and partly received as Penitents, about sixty persons. At the same time the Provost of the Regular Canons of Typres was Inquisitor in Flanders, and the parts adjacent, and the Provost of the Scholars of Mons in Hainault, was Inquisitor in that district." (The History of the Reformation in the Low Countries, Vol. I., P. 57. London, 1720).
Two things are evident from the above quotation from Brandt: First, the Anabaptists were dippers, and secondly the Anabaptists were of the same "persuasion in Holland."
On November 19, 1526, the Council of Zurich confirmed the edict of March 7, that Anabaptism should be punished by drowning, and that the man should be delivered to the executioner, who should bind his hands, place him in a boat and throw him bound into the water, there to die. (Fusslin, Beytrage, I., s. 271. Engli, Actensammlung, 5 14, Nr. 107). Mantz, who had become an immersionist, received this sentence January 5, 1527. It was carried into execution. Bullinger says: "As he came down from the Wellenberg to the fish market and was led through the shambles to the boat, he praised God that he was about to die for his truth; for Anabaptism was right and founded upon the word of God, and Christ had foretold that his followers would suffer for the truth's sake. And the like discourse he urged much, discussing with the preacher who attended him. On the way his mother and brother came to him and exhorted him to be steadfast, and he persevered in his folly even to the end. When he was bound upon the hurdle and was about to be thrown into the stream by the executioner, he sang with a loud voice: In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum. 'Into thy hands, 0 Lord, I commend my spirit;' and herewith was drawn into the water by the executioner and drowned." (Reformationsgeschchte, II., s. 382. Frauenfeld, 1838).
The reason for this punishment by drowning was that the penalty might be according to the offense. This is fully explained by many writers. The Anabaptists were immersionists therefore they should be drowned.
The senate of Zurich decreed that any one immersing a candidate in baptism—qui merserit baptismo—should be drowned is a significant hint. (Zuingli, Opera, III., s. 364).
John Stumpf, who during the period under survey, lived in the vicinity of Zurich and was familiar with the Anabaptist movement, says that generally the early Anabaptists of Switzerland were "rebaptized in rivers and streams." (Gemeiner Loblicher Eydgenossenschaft).
Gastins, sarcastically, used to say, as he ordered the Anabaptists drowned: "They like immersion so much let us immerse them."
In Appenzell, 1525, the Anabaptists had three places where meetings were held. The largest was Teufen, with a second at Herrisau, and the third at Brunnen. In all of these places the services were under the open sky, while the converts were baptized in the neighboring brooks and streams. (Burrage, p. 119).
Sender, an old historian of Augsburg, says of the Anabaptists of 1525-30:
"The hated sect in 1527 met in the gardens of houses, men and women, rich and poor, more than 1,100 in all, who were rebaptized. They put on peculiar clothes in which to be baptized, for in their houses where their baptisteries were, there were a number of garments always prepared."
Wagenseil, a later historian of Augsburg, says:
"In 1527 the Anabaptists baptized none who did not believe with them; and the candidates were not merely sprinkled with water but wholly submerged."
In the Bekenntniss von beiden Sacramenten, which at Minster, October 22, 1533, was subscribed by Rothman, Klopriss, Staprade, Vienne, and Stralen, and was made public on the 8th of November following, occurs this statement:
"Baptism is an immersion in water, which the candidate requests and receives as a true sign that, dead to sin, buried with Christ, he rises to a new life, henceforth to walk, not in the lusts of the flesh, but obedient to the will of God."
We have many instances of immersion at St. Gall's. It is said that Kessler, the pastor of the church in St. Gall, in 1523, was expounding the book of Romans. When he reached the sixth chapter, and was considering the significance of the ordinance of baptism, Hochrutiner interrupted him, saying, "I infer from your words that you are of the opinion that children may be baptized." "Why not?" asked Kessler. Hochrutiner appealed to Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," and added that to baptize a child was the same as dipping in water any irrational creature. (Burrage, pp. 116, 117. Kessler, Sabatta, s. 264).
In March, 1525, Grebel baptized Ulimann by immersion. The account of the baptism is taken from Kessler, who says:
"Wolfgang Ulimann, on the journey to Schaffhausen, met Conrad Grebel, who instructed him so highly in the knowledge of Anabaptism that he would not be sprinkled out of a dish, but was drawn under and covered over with the waters of the Rhine." (Sabbata, Vol. I., s. 266). It is plain that immersion is here declared to be a distinctive view of the Anabaptists. He was "instructed" in Anabaptism, therefore he would not be sprinkled but was dipped.
"Wolfgang Ullmann, on his return to St. Gall, after his baptism at Shaffhausen by Grebel, gave a new impulse to the Anabaptist movement. Grebel soon followed—probably late in March, 1525—and on Palm Sunday, April 9, he baptized a large number in the Sitter river. The St. Gall Anabaptists now withdrew from the churches, leaving them almost empty, and holding religious services in private houses, and in open fields. In a short time the Anabaptist Church numbered eight hundred members." (Burrage, pp. 117, 118. Kessler, Sabbata, s. 267).
Dr. Howard Osgood, who was at St. Gall in 1867,says:
"A mountain stream, sufficient for all sprinkling purposes, flows through the city; but in no place is it deep enough for the immersion of a person, while the Sitter river is between two and three miles away, and is gained by a difficult road. The only solution of this choice was, that Grebel sought the river, in order to immerse candidates."
Kessler tells us that at St. Gall's the Anabaptists had a (Taufhaus), or baptistery. (Sabbata, s. 270).
Sicher, a Roman Catholic eye-witness, says: "The number of the converted (at St. Gall) increased so that the baptistery could not contain the crowd, and they were compelled to use the streams and the Sitter River." (Arx, Geschichte d. Stadt, St. Gallen, II., s. 500.
August Naef, secretary of the Council of St. Gall, in a work published in 1850, on p. 1021 says, speaking of the Anabaptists of 1525:
"They baptized those who believed with them in rivers and lakes, and in a great wooden cask in the butchers' square before a great crowd."
Dr. Burrage gives a resume of the subject in these words:
"Now we know that immersion was practiced among the Swiss Anabaptists two years before. How do we know? Not from the controversial writings of the period, but from the diary of John Kessler, the ZwInglian pastor at St. Gall, who, fortunately, one day recorded the immersion of Wolfgang Uliman by Conrad Grebel in the Rhine, at Schaffhausen, in April, 1525, and of others a little later, in the Sitter River, near St. Gall. And so the fact has come to us. Were it not for that diary, inasmuch as Zwingle did not publish his ‘Contra- Catabaptists' until 1527, and inasmuch as the decree of the Council of Zurich against the Anabaptists, in which occur the words qui iterum mergat mergatur, was not issued until 1527, the Independent might claim that the Baptists of Switzerland did not practice immersion before 1627." (Early English and American Baptists, by Henry S. Burrage, Independent, October 21, 1880).
It was claimed by the Baptists of the sixteenth century in most all of their controversies that the Dutch translation of the New Testament rendered the word baptizo by doop, which meant to dip. Many instances were given of the use of this word doop. I could well nigh fill a book with citations from Baptist authors on this point. I shall give a letter written to Dr. William Russell to this effect. He had made this statement in a public debate, and he presents this letter in confirmation of his statement. The letter reads:
"Sir, I have read your narrative of the Portsmouth Disputation with some ministers of the Presbyterians, and have also seen another book published by your adversaries intitled An Impartial Account of the Portsmouth Disputation by Samuel Chandler, William Leigh, Benjamine Robinson, wherein I find such unchristian reflections and wrong done you that suites not with the Profession they make of true Religion, but greatly demonstrates the badness of their cause. And I wonder at their Impudence in putting so plain a cheat upon the World as I find in pag. 79, in these words, viz., whether he might not have spared all his Dutch? Seeing Doop in that language signifies only to wash, and is used when they only pour on water. That this account of the word Doop is notoriously false appears from the common use of the word, and the account of it which is given in their Dictionaries. One I have by me, which I believe is the largest and best in that Tongue, it being a double Dictionary of Dutch and English, and English and Dutch, with Grammars to each of them: by Hendrick Hexham and Daniel Manly and printed at Rotterdam, 1675 and 1678, wherein the English word Dip is render'd Doop: as, to dip in a sauce, Doopen in een sausse; to dip to the bottom, Doopen tot den grondt Zoe: Dipped Gedoopt; a dipping, een doopinge; and Doop, Doopfel Baptism; Doopen to baptize, Dooper, baptizer, Doop dagh the day of Baptism; Doopen onder her water, to duck or dive under water. I also find that to wash or rinse is in Dutch, wasschen ofte sprolen; to sprinkle, stroyen spreyden sprencken; and also Besprengen is to sprinkle, besprinkle or to strow: to pour is in, Dutch Gietenor spocten; poured upon, Opgegoten ofte op Gestort. Now seeing that there is nothing of truth in what thae say in contradiction to you of the word Doop, but that it undeniably appears from the Dutch Dictionary to signify to dip, to duck or dive, and that it has nothing in its signification on either to sprinkle or wash by pouring water, which things are render'd by other Dutch words: I know not how they can clear themselves from the guilt of a wilful Lie to cheat the People of the true form of gospel Baptism which, in my opinion, is a greater sin than to cheat them of their money, and its greatly to be lamented that any professing Godliness should so grossly stain their Religion for the sake of Infant-sprinkling, a meer human Tradition, which has neither Command nor Example for it in the holy Scriptures. Sir, I was willing to communicate this unto you, that if you need the- Evidence of this Dictionary and have not already met with it, you may have recourse unto it, and so heartily wishing you the increase of true wisdom and Christian courage for the defence of the truth of Christ, which you are engaged in, I rest your loving Christian Friend and Brother.
Leominster, Nov. 17, 1699.
This claim was urged as late as early in the eighteenth century. Thomas Davye says:
"And the Dutch Translators almost everywhere translate the Words Baptize and Baptism, to dip or dipping.Mat. 3-1. 'John the dipper.' And v. 6. 'Dipp'd in Jordan.' And v. 16. 'Jesus being dipp'd (climb'd or) came up out of Ike Water.' And Mat. 28. 19. 'Instruct all People, dipping them in the Name of the Father, etc. And Acts 8:36. 'What hinders me to be dipped?' And V. 38. 'And he dipp'd him.' And v. 12. 'They were dipp'd both Men and Women.' And Rom. 6.3. 'Know ye not that so many of us as were dipp'd into Christ Jesus were dipp'd into His death.' (The Baptism of Adult Believers, p. 113. London, 1719).
If the Anabaptists of Holland sprinkled it is strange that the Baptists of England knew nothing of it. Joseph Hooke, who wrote an able book on baptism, says:
"What Mr. Erratt hath placed in the margin concerning the Anabaptists so-called in Holland, I cannot credit; I never heard that they only pour water upon, or dip the head as he affirms, yet I was well acquainted with a Baptist Preacher that lived some years there, who never gave me an account of any such thing. Besides a credible author signifies that some tender persons of his acquaintance, being desirous to be rightly Baptized, have had water warmed for that use in the Netherlands." (A Necessary Apology for the Baptized Believers, pp. T12, 113. London, 1701).
I shall now introduce some general historians and writers Who have examined the subject, and they are unanimous in their opinion that the true Anabaptists were dippers.
"The Anabaptists (rebaptizers, generally by immersion) were of almost every sort, from the wildest fanatics to the later and more sober Christians, who came to be called Baptists, the Mennonites from the second race of Anabaptists." (History of the Christian Church, p. 4 16).
"They naturally disowned the name of Anabaptists, as they declared infant baptism invalid, they rather called themselves Catabaptists. (Fussli III., 229)." (A Compendium of Eccl. Hist., Vol. V., pp. 355, 356,).
William Robertson, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, says:
"The most remarkable of their religious tenets related to the sacrament of baptism, which, as they contended, ought to be administered only to persons grown up to years of understanding, and should be performed not by sprinkling them with water, but by dipping them in it; for this reason they condemned the baptism of infants and rebaptizing all whom they admitted into their society, the sect came to be distinguished by the name of Anabaptists. To this peculiar notion concerning baptism, which has the appearance of being founded on the practice of the church in the apostolic age, and contains nothing inconsistent with the peace and order of human society, they added other principles of a most enthusiastic as well as dangerous nature." (The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V., p. 246. New York, 1829).
Gregory and Ruter say:
They first made their appearance in the provinces of upper Germany where the severity of the magistrates kept them under control. But in the Netherlands and Westphalia they obtained admittance into several towns, and spread their principles. The most remarkable of their religious tenets related to the sacrament of baptism, which, as they contended, ought to be administered only to persons grown up to years of understanding, and should be performed, not by sprinkling them with water, but by dipping them in it. For this reason they condemned the baptism of Infants, and rebaptizing all whom they admitted into their society, the sect came to be distinguished by the name of Anabaptists."(A Concise History of the Christian Church, p. 345. New York, 1834).
Schaff very fully discusses the act of baptism among the Anabaptists. He says:
"The Anabaptist leaders, Hubmaier, Denck, Hatzer, Hut, likewise appeared in Augsburg and gathered a congregation of eleven hundred members. They held a general synod in 1527. They baptized by immersion."
Schaff makes it very clear that these Anabaptists, or Catabaptists, or dippers, were the same in Germany, Holland, and Switzerland, and were gathered by the same leaders. He says:
"All the Reformers retained the custom of infant baptism, and opposed rebaptism (Wiedertaufe) as a heresy. So far they agreed with the Catholics against the Anabaptists, or Catabaptists, as they were called, although they rejected the name, because in their view the baptism of infants was no baptism at all.
"The Anabaptists, or Baptists (as distinct from Pedobaptists), sprang up in Germany, Holland, Switzerland, and organized independent congregations. Their leaders were Hubmaier, Denck, Hatzer, and Grebel. They thought that the Reformers stopped half way, and did not go to the root of the evil. They broke with the historical tradition, and constructed a new church of believers on the voluntary principle. Their fundamental doctrine was, that baptism is a voluntary act, and requires personal repentance and faith in Christ. They rejected infant baptism as an anti-scriptural invention. They could find no trace of it in the New Testament, the only authority in matters of faith. They were cruelly persecuted in Protestant as well as Roman Catholic countries. We must carefully distinguish the better class of Baptists and the Mennonites from the restless revolutionary radicals and fanatics, like Carlstadt, Munzer and the leaders of the Munster tragedy.
The mode of baptism was not an article of controversy at that time; for the Reformers either preferred immersion (Luther'), or held the mode to be a matter of indifference (Calvin).
"Luther agreed substantially with the Roman Catholic doctrine of baptism. His Taufbuchlein of 1523 is a translation of the Latin Baptismal service, including the formula of exorcism, the sign of the cross and the dipping." (History of the Christian Church, Vol. VI., pp. 578, 607, 608).
Dr. William R. Williams, one of our very best Baptist historians, very closely connects the Baptists of the Continent, and especially those of Holland, with the Baptists of England. He had no doubt that the Anabaptists of Holland and the Baptists of England practiced immersion. He says:
"But there were Anabaptists and Anabaptist martyrs in Holland before Menno himself had yet left the Roman communion. That some of these professed and practiced immersion, we infer from the fact that their persecutors, who delighted in fitting the penalty, as they cruelly judged it, to the fault, put many of them to death by full immersion, swathing the sufferers in large sacks with confined arms and feet, and then huddling the sacks with their living contents into huge puncheons, where the victims were drowned. So the Swiss Anabaptists, some of them at least, immersed in rivers. This appears from the work Sabbata of Knertz, a contemporary Lutheran. The Dunkers, too, on our shores, who were driven from a Swiss or a German source, are immersionists in their own fashion.
"A small, but in its day a very distinguished, branch of the Mennonites, too, were on principle immersionists. These were the Collegiants, or Rhynsburgers. * * *
"In times later than these, in the following century, this same community of Holland immersionists received the accession of Wagenaar, one of the historians of Holland, whose work, in numerous volumes, is still consulted. The body has nearly ceased to exist. Some funds for orphans that it possesses are still applied by the other branch of the Mennonites to youths, who have the choice of baptism by the method of the Collegiants or that of the Mennonites.
"Thus in people so distinct in some periods of their history, and so clearly allied at other eras, as the nations of Holland and Britain, it has been seen that God's free Bible, in the hands of a free church, has not been without its approximating effects in the judgments to which it has led its students." (Lectures on Baptist History, pp. 246-248).
Dr. J. B. Thomas, Newton Theological Seminary, says:
"Usually they insisted upon immersion as the only baptism."
In a recent and very ably written book, William E. Griffis, says:
"The Nederlanders who first claimed the right of free reading and interpretation of the Bible demanded the separation of the church and state, and filled their country full of ideas hostile to all state churches, were called the Anabaptists, or rebaptizers, because they believed in the baptism of adults only, and usually by immersion." (Brave Little Holland, p, 135. Boston, 1894).
This question, however, only incidentally concerns the Baptists of England. It has never been shown that all of the English Baptists received their baptism from Holland. It is absolutely certain that the English Baptists did not all originate with John Smyth, and according to Dr. Whitsitt's theory John Smyth baptized himself. His baptism was not therefore from Holland. And his contention is that Richard Blount's baptism was by immersion. Neither has it been shown that all of the English Baptists of the sixteenth century came from Holland, for we know from many sources that many of them were natives of England. And there is not a line of proof that the Dutch Baptists who did conic practiced sprinkling. Dr. Whitsitt is not only under obligation to prove that some Dutch Baptists were sprinkled, but that every one who came to England had been sprinkled. He has assumed a universal negative, and the best he has attempted is to show that some persons who were called Anabaptists, were sprinkled, and I have shown that some of these afterwards became immersionists.
Chapter 5 - John Smyth