Confessions of Faith. In 1611 a church of English Baptists, residing in Holland, adopted a Confession of Faith, prepared most probably by Thomas Helwys, their pastor. Not many months after the Confession was published they returned to their native country and settled in London. The Confession has twenty-six articles, and though most of them are thoroughly sound, others are AArminian, and show clearly that those who framed them were troubled by a defective knowledge of New Testament teachings.
The Confession of Faith of 1644, was adopted by seven London churches. It is the first Calvinistical creed published by our English brethren. It has fifty articles. The first name which appears on the Confession is that of the illustrious William Kiffin. The twenty-first article reads, “Jesus Christ did purchase salvation for the elect that God gave unto him. These only have interest in him, and fellowship with him, for whom he makes intercession to his Father, and to them alone doth God by his Spirit apply this redemption; also the free gift of eternal life is given to them and none else.” The thirty-ninth article is, “Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, given by Christ, to be dispensed upon persons professing faith, or that are made disciples, who, upon profession of faith, ought to be baptized, and after to partake of the Lords Supper”
An “Appendix” to this Confession of Faith, written by Benjamin Cox, and printed in 1646, has twenty-two articles, a partof the twentieth of which reads, “The apostles first baptized disciples, and then admitted them to the use of the Supper; we, therefore, do not admit any to the use of the Supper, nor communicate with any in the use of this ordinance but disciples baptized, lest we should have fellowship with them in their doing contrary to order.”
The ”Confession of Faith of Several Churches of Christ in the County of Somerset,” and of some churches in adjacent counties, in England, was issued in 1656. It was signed by the representatives of sixteen churches, and it was probably written by Thomas Collier, Who was ordained in 1655 to the “office of general superintendent and messenger to all the associated churches.” The Confession has forty-six articles; it is Calvinistic, Baptistic, and, consequently, thoroughly Scriptural.
The London Confession of Faith was signed in the English metropolis in 1660. It was prepared by members of the General (Arminian) Baptist churches. On some disputed questions it is nearer the truth than the Confession of 1611, but this statement does not apply to its representation of the doctrine of final perseverance. It has twenty-five articles. This Confession was “owned and approved by more than twenty thousand persons.”
” An Orthodox Creed,” published in London in 1678, gives another view of the doctrines of the General Baptists. It has fifty articles, and it is remarkable for its Calvinistic tone, though it came from a body professedly Arminian. Its mode of describing election, providence, free will, and final perseverance is in the main scriptural. The extent of the atonement is the only question about which it differed from the opinions of our orthodox brethren of that day.
The Confession of 1689 was “put forth by the elders and brethren of many congregations of Christians, baptized (immersed) upon profession of their faith, in London and the country.” It has thirty-two articles, and “an appendix concerning baptism.” It is in many respects the best compilation of Christian belief ever published. After dropping its lengthy appendix, and inserting two new articles, it became, in 1742, “The Philadelphia Confession of Faith,” and it was adopted by most of the early Baptist Associations of this country.
The New Hampshire Confession of Faith was written by the late Dr. J. Newton Brown while laboring in the State whose name it bears. It was prepared with a view “to pending controversies with the Free-Will Baptists, who are numerous there.” Dr. Cutting says, “It has been sometimes criticised as aiming at the difficult task of preserving the stern orthodoxy of the fathers of the denomination, while at the same time it softens the terms in which that orthodoxy is expressed, in order to remove the objections of neighboring opponents.” (Historical Vindications, p. 105.) We have unlimited faith in the goodness and sanctity of the late Dr. Brown, but we very much prefer the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, so dear to our fathers, to the New Hampshire Creed.
* The Baptist Encyclopedia: Edited by William Cathcart. (1883) p p267-8