The Appendix to the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith [1677/1689]

1689

Dr. James Renihan

Dr. James Renihan @ Institute of Reformed Baptist Studies writes:

When the Second London Confession was published in 1677 (2 editions in 1677) and again in 1688, it included an Appendix seeking to provide further reasons why the Baptists considered it important to form their own churches based on the practice of believer’s baptism. They had been stung by criticism implying that such actions were divisive; that they should have been content to remain in the paedobaptist churches. The Appendix was an irenic attempt to express their convictions about baptism in greater detail than the text of the Confession itself would allow. We publish this appendix here; the only changes we have made are to modernize most of the spelling to conform to contemporary (American!) English standards.

The Baptists address 4 points: (1) ‘Sponsor Baptism’; (2) Baptism on the basis of Covenantal relation to parents; (3) The ‘holiness’ of children in 1 Cor. 7:12ff.; and (4) ‘Household baptisms’. Several other matters are briefly mentioned at the end. Their comments are of great interest. One will notice, for example, that they do not reject the possibility that the children of believers may be considered, in some sense, as covenant children.

We hope that ready access to this Appendix will further understanding of our great Confession of Faith.

AN

APPENDIX

Whosoever reads, and impartially considers what we have in our forgoing confession declared, may readily perceive, That we do not only concenter with all other true Christians on the Word of God (revealed in the Scriptures of truth) as the foundation and rule of our faith and worship. But that we have also industriously endeavored to manifest, That in the fundamental Articles of Christianity we mind the same things, and have therefore expressed our belief in the same words, that have on the like occasion been spoken by other societies of Christians before us.

This we have done, That those who are desirous to know the principles of Religion which we hold and practice, may take an estimate from our selves (who jointly concur in this work) and may not be misguided, either by undue reports; or by the ignorance or errors of particular persons, who going under the same name with our selves, may give an occasion of scandalizing the truth we profess.

And although we do differ from our brethren who are Paedobaptists; in the subject and administration of Baptism, and such other circumstances as have a necessary dependence on our observance of that Ordinance, and do frequent our own assemblies for our mutual edification, and discharge of those duties, and services which we owe unto God, and in his fear to each other: yet we would not be from hence misconstrued, as if the discharge of our own consciences herein, did any ways disoblige or alienate our affections, or conversation from any others that fear the Lord; but that we may and do as we have opportunity participate of the labors of those, whom God hath indued with abilities above our selves, and qualified, and called to the Ministry of the Word, earnestly desiring to approve our selves to be such, as follow after peace with holiness, and therefore we always keep that blessed Irenicum, or healing Word of the Apostle before our eyes; if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you; nevertheless whereto we have already attained; let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing, Phil 3. v. 15, 16.

Let it not therefore be judged of us (because much hath been written on this subject, and yet we continue this our practice different from others) that it is out of obstinacy, but rather as the truth is, that we do herein according to the best of our understandings worship God, out of a pure mind yielding obedience to his precept, in that method which we take to be most agreeable to the Scriptures of truth, and primitive practice.

It would not become us to give any such intimation, as should carry a semblance that what we do in the service of God is with a doubting conscience, or with any such temper of mind that we do thus for the present, with a reservation that we will do otherwise hereafter upon more mature deliberation; nor have we any cause so to do, being fully persuaded, that what we do is agreeable to the will of God. Yet we do heartily propose this, that if any of the Servants of our Lord Jesus shall, in the Spirit of meekness, attempt to convince us of any mistake either in judgment or practice, we shall diligently ponder his arguments; and account him our chiefest friend that shall be an instrument to convert us from any error that is in our ways, for we cannot wittingly do any thing against the truth, but all things for the truth.

And therefore we have endeavored seriously to consider, what hath been already offered for our satisfaction in this point; and are loth to say any more lest we should be esteemed desirous of renewed contests thereabout: yet forasmuch as it may justly be expected that we show some reason, why we cannot acquiesce in what hath been urged against us; we shall with as much brevity as may consist with plainness, endeavor to satisfy the expectation of those that shall peruse what we now publish in this matter also.

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