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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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or ANTIPAEDOBAPTISTS, so called from their rejecting the baptism of infants. The Baptists in England form one of "the three denominations of Protestant Dissenters." The constitution of their churches, and their modes of worship, are congregational, or independent. They bore a considerable share in the sufferings of the seventeenth and preceding centuries: for there were many among the Lollards and Wickliffites who disapproved of infant baptism. There were also many of this faith among the Protestants and Reformers abroad. In Holland, Germany, and the north, they went by the names of Anabaptists and Mennonites; and in Piedmont and the south, they were found among the Albisenses and Waldenses. The Baptists subsist chiefly under two denominations,—the Particular or Calvinistical, and the General or Arminian. The former is by far the most numerous. Some of both denominations, General and Particular, allow of free or mixed communion; admitting to the Lord's table pious persons who have not been immersed, while others consider that as an essential requisite to communion. These are sometimes called Strict Baptists. Other societies of this denomination observe the seventh day of the week as their Sabbath, apprehending the original law of the Sabbath to remain in force, unaltered and unrepealed. These are called Seventh-day Baptists. A considerable number of the General Baptists have gone into Unitarianism; in consequence of which, those who maintained the doctrines of the Trinity and atonement, in the latter part of the eighteenth century, formed themselves into what is called The New Connection," or Association. These preserve a friendly correspondence with their other brethren in things which concern the general interests of the denomination, but hold no religious communion with them. Some congregations of General Baptists admit three distinct orders of church officers: messengers or ministers, elders, and deacons. The Baptists in America, and in the East and West Indies, are chiefly Calvinists; but many of them admit of free communion. The Scottish Baptists form a distinct denomination, and are distinguished by several peculiarities of church government. "No trace can be found of a Baptist church in Scotland," says Mr. Jones, "excepting one which appears to have been formed out of Cromwell's army, previous to 1765, when a church was settled at Edinburgh, under the pastoral care of Mr. Carmichael and Mr. Archibald M'Lean. Others have since been formed at Dundee, Glasgow, and in most of the principal towns of Scotland:" also at London, and in various parts of England. They think that the order of public worship, which uniformly obtained in the Apostolic churches, is clearly set forth in Acts 2:42-47; and therefore they endeavour to follow it out to the utmost of their power. They require a plurality of elders in every church, administer the Lord's Supper, and make contributions for the poor every first day of the week. The prayers and exhortations of the brethren form a part of their church order, under the direction and control of the elders, to whom it exclusively belongs to preside in conducting the worship, to rule in cases of discipline, and to labour in the word and doctrine, in distinction from the brethren exhorting one another. The elders are all laymen, generally chosen from among the brethren; but, when circumstances require, are supported by their contributions. They approve also of persons who are properly qualified for it, being appointed by the church to preach the Gospel and baptize, though not vested with any pastoral charge. The discipline and government of the Scottish Baptists are strictly congregational.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Baptists'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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