[We have begun with the baptism of John, who in Holy Scripture is properly called the Baptist, because he was the first and chief one who truly administered baptism with all that pertains to it; concerning which we have noted the time, place, persons, etc. From there we proceeded to Christ and the command which He gave concerning baptism; thence to the apostles, and how they fulfilled Christ's command. But, since the apostles who wrote of baptism did not live to the close of this century, we, in order to accomplish our design, resorted to the fathers who lived shortly after the apostles, and wrote on baptism; and thus the first century is concluded with their testimony.]
We shall begin to give an account, from century to century, up to the present day, or at least, to the time of our fathers, how that the true baptism upon faith, with rejection of infant baptism, has always obtained, and been practiced, according as it was possible, by the true church of God, or at least, by some of the orthodox believers, according o the freedom, or the oppression prevailing at any particular time; and that this same faith, on account of which the world calls us Anabaptists, was begun by God, through John, was confirmed by Christ and propagated and maintained by the apostles as well as by their successors, till the time of our fathers; together with an account of the persons who suffered for that faith.
Coming, then, to the article of baptism we shall thus begin and finish the subject: In the first century, embracing chiefly the time of Christ and His holy apostles, we shall place, not by inferences, but through express words, that which Holy Scripture has to say in regard to it, as being the foundation of the matter, and afterwards, that which is recorded by trustworthy authors.
The holy evangelists tell us the time, place and manner of the same. Luke writes, chap. 3:1-3, "Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for
the remission of sins." Matt. 3:1, 2, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Verse 11, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance." Acts 19:4, Paul said, "John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."
Matt. 3:5-9, "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." Luke 7:29, 30, "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him." John 3:23, "And John also was baptizing in Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there and they came, and were baptized."
Matt. 3:13-17, "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbade him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and to a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." See further, concerning this Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23.
John 3:22, "After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized." Chap. 4:1-3, "When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples), he left Judaea and departed again into Galilee."
Matt. 28:18-20, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach (or make disciples of) all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." Mark 16:15,16, "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Acts 2:37, 38, "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins."
Verses 41, 42, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."
Acts 8:12, 13, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip."
Verses 36-39, "And as they [namely, Philip and the Ethiopian] went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing."
Acts 9:17, 18, "And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."
Acts 10:46-48, "For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord."
Acts 16:13-15, "And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshiped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us."
Verse 40, "And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed."
Acts 16:29-34, "Then he [namely the keeper of the prison] called for a light, and sprang in [the prison], and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, .and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And he led them into his house, and seated them at the table, and rejoiced with all his house, that he believed in God," or [as the latest translators say],"he rejoiced, that he and all his house believed in God."
Acts 18:8, "Crispus, the chief ruler of .the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized."
I Cor. 1:14-16, "I thank God [says Paul] that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas; besides, I know not whether I baptized any other."
Compare this with I Cor. 16:15, 16, "I beseech you, brethren (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints), that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboreth."
1. That it signifies the burying of sins, and the resurrection into a new life.
Rom. 6:3, 4,"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."*
NOTE.-To the foregoing belongs also the passage, Tit. 3:5, where baptism is called,"the washing of regeneration," and Eph. 5:26,"the washing of water by the word."
2. That through faith we become children of God, and through baptism put on Christ. **
Gal. 3:26, 27, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
3. That as the ark with eight souls was preserved in the water, so also believing baptized Christians are preserved or saved in baptism through the answer of a good conscience.
I Pet. 3:20, 21, "When once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.*** The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God)."
In order to receive baptism in a worthy and true manner, there are required sorrow and repentance of sins, accompanied with a confession of the same. Matt. 3:6, we read, "And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins."
Besides this, it is required that we should bear good fruits."Bring forth therefore," says John, to those who desired to be baptized,"fruits meet for repentance" (Matt. 3:8); or, according to Biestken's translation, "Do genuine fruits of repentance."
Mark 16:16, it is also required, that we believe, yea, that we believe with the hearts. Acts 8:37.
In short, repentance or conversion, and baptism are joined together, Matt. 3:6, 11; as also, teaching, believing, and baptizing, Mark 16:15, 16. Confession and baptism went hand in hand with the Ethiopian, Acts 8:37. Baptism is a burying of the old man, and a sign of resurrection into a new
life, Rom. 6:3, 4; a putting on of Christ, Gal. 3:27; and the answer of a good conscience toward God. I Pet. 3:21.
These and other conditions required in baptism cannot exist in infants, who know neither good nor evil, cannot discern between the right hand and the left hand, and do as children do, Deut. 1:39; Jno. 4:11; I Cor. 13:11.
Here we might adduce much more, but since it is not our purpose to dispute about this point, but simply to show from the unadorned testimonies of the holy evangelists and apostles, that baptism was administered in the first century only to adult (that is, penitent and believing) persons, we shall leave this subject, and proceed to give an account of those who, according to history, have, either by word or by deed, maintained this doctrine.
Although we might entirely conclude this first century as touching baptism upon faith, with the testimony of Holy Scripture, we, so as not to appear deficient, nevertheless deem it expedient, to add the testimonies of the fathers, till the end of this century.
About the year 52. Jae. Mehrn. Bapt. hist. pag. 578. from Simon Metaphrastes, D. hicecomesrecords the following incident (lib. 1. cap. 4. in the life of St. Auxibius): When St. Mark, the apostle of Christ, saw that Auxibius had a desire for Christ, and that he was believing and instructed, he descended with him into a pool and baptized him. This is the first example of which we read in history, outside of Holy Scripture, of those who were incorporated into the church of Christ, through baptism upon faith.
About the year 60.-In, or very near this time, it is recorded, even by several papistic writers, that there were such people and such a sect as were afterwards designated by the name, The Poor of Lyons, Waldenses, Albigenses, who were also called Anabaptists, or Baptists, on account of the like faith which they had in common; as shall be shown hereafter. Therefore the papists complain of their being considered of such high antiquity; for some say that they existed in the time of Sylvester, A. D. 315, and others assert, with more justness, too, in the time of the apostles. Baptism. hastor. pag. 615, from a very old book. Also, pag. 670 and pag. 682. from Flaccius. Also, D. Balthazar L,ydius (though he misinterprets their doctrine) in the tract,"Where the church was before the year 1160," printed at Dort, A. 1624. pag. 2. col. 1. from Reynerius Prriester.
About the year 68.-It is stated that in the time of Nero, two daughters of Valentinian, a Christian at Aquileia, who had been brought up by their father in the Christian faith and the fear of God, were instructed by the priest or teacher Hermagoras, and baptized at a running water. See De gantsch klare en grondige bewijsinge vam den Doop, printed A. D.  81. letter Bv.
About the year 70.-In or about the time of the death of ,the apostle Peter is placed the bishop or teacher Linus, of whom it is testified that he baptized, after preceding instruction, the son of Perpetua, a Christian woman. See the above. Also, Kort verhael van den loop der werelt, by F. H. H., printed at Franeker, A. 1611. pag. 47.
From the year 71 till the year 111.-It is stated that between these years there flourished Ignatius, who was the second bishop of Antioch after Peter, and, according to the chronicles, discharged the duties of his office in the time of the apostle John. Writing of baptism, he employs no other manner
of speech, than which clearly implies that baptism must be accompanied with faith, love and patience.
In his letter to Polycarp, bishop at Smyrna, he writes among other things these words: Let none of you be found an apostate, "Let your baptism be your weapon, your faith your helmet, love a lance, patience a full armor."
In a letter to the Trailienses he writes likewise, "It appears to me, that you do not live after the flesh, but after Jesus Christ, who died for our sakes; so that you, believing in His death, may, through baptism, be partakers of His resurrection, "
Again, in the letter to those at Philadelphia he writes thus, "Seeing, then, that there is one only ungenerated God and Father; and one only begotten Son, Word, and Man; one Comforter, the Spirit of Truth; and one faith, one baptism, and one church, which the apostles have founded with their sweat and labor, in the blood of Christ from one end of the earth to the other; therefore, you, as a peculiar people and holy generation, must also do all things with a unanimous heart in Christ."
Who does not see here, that Ignatius by joining together in this order or sequence, preaching, faith, baptism, and the church, intends to say, that according to the ordinance of Christ, preaching has the first place, and, therefore, must precede; that after faith comes baptism, and that after baptism the one baptized is a member of the church? and that then the members of the church, as a peculiar people and holy generation, must do all things with unanimous hearts in Christ? For this is the import of the words of Ignatius. See, concerning the aforementioned letters of Ignatius, H. Montanus in De nietigheyd van den Kinder-doop, printed the second time, pages 4 and 5. Also, Jac. du Bois (though he misinterprets these letters), Tegen Montanus, printed Anno 1648. pages 16-22.
In the year 95.-It is here recorded that Clemens, the fourth bishop of the church at Rome, ordained:
That the heretics' baptism is neither to be supported nor accepted; therefore, he that has received baptism in conformity with the truth of the church, shall not be rebaptized; but he who does not rebaptize the unclean, that is, baptized by the ungodly or heretics, shall be deposed, as one who mocks the cross and death of Christ, and does not distinguish the false priests, or teachers, from the true ones (distinct. 30. cap.). Again, in his second epistle he speaks of baptizing on the feast, and that the candidate for baptism is to be examined three months previously. P. J. Tzvisck, Chron. lst Book, in the year 95. page. 32.
It certainly appears clearly from these words of Clemens that at that time no other baptism obtained in the church, than that which was administered after preceding instruction: for when he speaks of baptizing on the feast, and that the candidate for baptism is to be examined three months previously, it is certainly expressed, that then no new-born children were baptized; for who does not know that children are born throughout the whole year, and not only on feast days (namely, on Easter or Pentecost)? Besides, infants cannot be examined in the faith three months previous to their baptism, as is required here of the candidates for baptism.
Moreover, in the third letter of Clemens, the following words, which still more clearly express the preceding meaning, are found: If any one desires to become a believer, and to be baptized, he must prepare himself to lay aside the former wickedness; so that he henceforth may obtain, by a good conversation, an inheritance of the heavenly riches, according to his own deeds. Let him that desires this, go to his priest, or teacher, and hear from him the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; let him exercise himself diligently with fasting, and examine himself well in everything, so that after three months he may be baptized. Everyone shall be baptized in running water, and the name of the blessed Trinity be invoked over him. Jac. Mehrn. Bapt. Histor. 2nd part, on the second century, page 209. from Clem. Epist. 3.
From the Constitutionibus Apostolicis, lib. 7. cap. 23. by the same Clemens, these words are taken: Concerning baptism we command you before, O bishop, and say this also: that you shall baptize as the Lord has commanded us, when He said, "Go, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19, 20). Bdpt. Histor. page 200. ex. Constit. Apostol.
The above words of Clemens speak so plainly of the true order of the baptism of Christ, that they need no explanation whatever. We shall therefore pass on to the martyrs who suffered in or about this time.
This first century did not pass without the shedding of much blood of the saints; for, since Jesus Christ Himself, the leader of all true believers, was subject to it, it was just, that His members should follow in the same path; yet John died before Christ. But after the death of Christ, the fire of persecution raged exceedingly, consuming nearly all of the beloved apostles and friends of Christ, according to the flesh. We have described those who followed Christ, their Captain, into suffering and death, according to the order of time; they are the following persons: Stephen, the deacon; the apostles, James, Philip, Barnabas, Mark the evangelist, Peter, Paul; some companions and friends of Paul, as Aristarchus, Epaphras, Silas, Onesiphorus, Prochorus, Nicanor, Parmenas, Olympas, Carpus, Trophimus, Ma~terus, Egyetus, Hermagoras, Onesimus, Dionysius of Athens, and Timothy; but the latter was slain a few years after the others. In the meantime the preceding ones are followed by the apostles, Andrew, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, Simon Zelotes, Matthias, Luke the evangelist, Antipas, the faithful martyr of Jesus, John, whom Jesus loved, Urticinus, Vitalus, etc., all of whom obtained the martyr's crown, as may be seen from the following account.
To Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we have accorded the first place among the martyrs of the new covenant; not in the order of time, for herein John was before, and preceded with his death; but on account of the worthiness of the person, because He is the head of all the holy martyrs, through whom they all must be saved.
About three thousand, nine hundred and seventy years after the creation of the world, in the fortysecond year of the reign of Augustus, the second Roman emperor, when the whole world was at peace, Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary, in the little town of Bethlehem, being the only and eternal Son of God,. the Word by which all things are made, yea, God blessed forever. Matt. 16:16; John 1:14, Rom. 9:5.
But His entrance into this world, as well as His progress and end, was full of misery, distress and affliction, indeed it may be said: He was born under the cross; brought up under the cross! He
walked under the cross, and finally died on the cross.
Touching His birth, He was conceived of the Holy Ghost. His birth ushered Him into great poverty; for He was not born in His maternal city, Nazareth, but on the journey to Bethlehem; which was the cause, that no suitable place could be prepared for His birth; yea, even more, He could obtain no place in the inn, but had to be born in a stable; and when He was born, He was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
Touching His bringing up, it was attended with much sorrow, for when He was still less than two years old, Herod persecuted Him even unto death; on account of which His foster-father Joseph, and His mother Mary, had to flee into Egypt, and remain there until Herod's death. But meanwhile there were killed in His stead, that He also might be killed, all the children of two years and under, in and about Bethlehem, so that the voice of lamentation was heard in all the boundaries of that region; of which Jeremiah had prophesied, "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not." Jer. 31:15; fulfilled, Matt. 2:18. As regards His life and conversation among men, He was considered an enthusiast and vagrant, because He had no permanent place of abode; which latter was nevertheless thus bitter for Him, that He complains, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" (Luke 9:58) . Meanwhile He was reproached as being the friend of publicans and sinners, a glutton and wine bibber, yea. that He was possessed with the devil; and this, until the hour of His departure was nigh at hand.
Concerning the end of His life, it was the most miserable, for it was, so to speak, the day, when all the fountains of the great deep broke forth over Him, and the floods of suffering overflowed Him, to swallow Him up altogether.
First of all, He was betrayed by His disciple Judas, who sold Him for thirty pieces of silver to the high priests and Pharisees. Matt. 26:14-16. Then He was delivered unto them, sharply examined, yea adjured by the living God, to say, whether He was the Christ, the Son of God. And as soon as the Lord had confessed this, thcy cried,"He is guilty of death."
Then they spit in His face, and buffeted Him. Others covered His face, saying,"Prophesy unto
us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?" (Matt. 27:67, 68). This having continued till about morning, they delivered Him to Pontius Pilate, the judge, to pronounce the sentence of death upon Him, and to put an end to His life. Matt. 27:1, 2.
Pilate said,"What accusation bring ye against this man?" They answered,"If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee." Pilate said,"Take ye Him, and judge him according to your law;" for he perceived that for envy they had delivered Him. They answered,"He perverts the nation, and forbids to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is a king. In short, 'We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.'" (John 19:7).
Thereupon Pilate took Jesus into the judgment hall, and, having examined Him, said, that he found no cause of death in Him. Therefore he sought a means to release Him; moreover, in order to move the Jews to pity on account of His innocence, he caused Him (though against his conscience) to be terribly scourged, crowned with thorns, mocked, and, thus disfigured, brought before the Jews, saying,"Behold the man I" so that they might now be satisfied with His suffering, and spare His life. But it was of no avail; they cried the more,"Crucify him, crucify him; if thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend." Verse 12.
Finally, when Pilate saw that the Jews were not to be moved, and fearing that they might accuse him before Caesar, he went and sat down (at about eight o'clock in the morning, according to our reckoning) in the judgment seat, in the place called Lithostratos, and in Hebrew Gabbatha, a paved elevation in Jerusalem; and there, though quite against his conscience, pronounced the sentence of death upon Christ.
Thereupon the soldiers again very dreadfully mocked Him, laid His cross upon Him, and drove Him out through the gate up to Mount Calvary, where they, after having stripped Him of His garments, nailed Him to a cross, and raised Him up between two murderers, John 19:18; which was done, according to our reckoning, at about nine o'clock in the morning.
In the meantime they gave Him vinegar and gall to drink, parted His garments, and again derided Him most shamefully and above measure, till a great darkness came, continuing for about three hours; and then the Lord cried with a loud voice,"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!" that is,"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46).
Then, having fulfilled all, He commended His soul into His Father's hands, saying,"Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit" (Luke 23:46) .
Thereupon He bowed His head and expired, having suffered excruciatingly six hours on the cross, from nine o'clock in the morning till three in the afternoon.*
Then the earth began to quake, the rocks were rent, the graves were opened, the vail of the temple was rent in twain, and many miracles happened, as a sign that He who died there was more than a common man, yea, that He was the Son of the living God.
This, then, was the end, not of a martyr, but of the Head of all the holy martyrs, through whom they and we all must be saved.
This John, surnamed the Baptist, because he was ordained of God to baptize the penitent, the son of the priest Zacharias, and his wife Elisabeth; whose name was made known to his parents through the angel of God, before he was born. Luke 1:5,13.
When he was about thirty years old (about six months before the Lord Jesus Christ began to preach), in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberias Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor, and Annas and Caiaphas the high priests, he was called and sent of God, to preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, to prepare the way for the Messiah, as an angel or messenger before the face of Christ, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. Luke 3:1, 2; Mark 1:2,3; Luke 1:17.
Of the dignity of this man the angel of the Lord had said, that many would rejoice at his birth, that he would be great in the sight of the Lord, to make ready a people well-prepared (as not only the prophets, but also Zacharias had prophesied of him through the Spirit of the Most High), to give knowledge of salvation unto the people of the Lord for the remission of their sins. Luke 1:14,15, 77.
John, being thus sent of God, to bear witness of Christ, that He is the true light, came to the Jordan, at Salim, and other places, teaching and baptizing. John 3:23.
In the meantime, while he was baptizing the penitent, Christ Himself came to him (to confirm this holy work), and asked to be baptized by him. But when John, from humility and good intention, declined, Christ instructed him that this was neces
sary, saying,"Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he baptized the Lord. Matt. 3:13-16.
He held the Lord Jesus in high estimation, calling Him the Lamb of God, the Bridegroom of His church, the true Messiah, whose shoes he was not worthy to bear. John 1:29; 3:29; Matt. 3:11.
He himself possessed such great influence, though in humility, that many were in doubt whether he was not himself the Messiah; hence the Pharisees sent their messengers to him, to inquire of him his vocation, mission, authority, etc. To all this he answered candidly and with an humble heart, saying,"I am not the Christ." John 1:19, 20.
When the course of his pilgrimage drew near its close, a certain matter occurred, which was the cause of his death, and happened as follows: King Herod Antipas had committed a wicked deed; namely, he had taken his brother Philip's wife, having put away his own wife, the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia; which conduct John the Baptist, on account of his ministry, could not let go unreproved, but called Herod's attention to it, according to the law, saying,"It is not lawful for thee to have her" (Matt. 14:4).
However, even as the ungodly will not be reproved, so it was with Herod; for he conceived a hatred for John, and sought opportunity to kill him. But, since many had a very high opinion of this pious man, and great numbers, therefore, came to him, Herod, for the present, did not dare to lay hands on him, to kill him; however he did not let him go free, but imprisoned him in the castle of Machaerus. Euseb. Hist. Eccl lib. 1 chap 11.
In the meantime John did not relax in his calling, but even from prison sent some of his disciples to Christ, that they with the others might assure themselves through the doctrine and the miracles which they would there hear and see, that Christ, and none other, was the true Messiah. Matt. 11:2; Luke 7:18.
Thereupon, not only when these messengers came, but also on many other occasions, Christ testified of the greatness and worthiness of John the Baptist; namely, that he was the true spiritual Elias, a burning and shining light, the greatest prophet among all those born of women. Matt. 11:14; John 5:35; Luke 7:28.
Time went on, meanwhile, and the hour of his departure was near at hand. As regards the circumstances of his death, they are thus described by the holy evangelist Matthew, chap. 14:3-12, "For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given. her. And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus."
Josephus, the Jewish historian, also makes mention of the death of John the Baptist, in the 7th chapter of the 18th book of his history of the Jews, where he writes thus, "There was a common report among the Jews, that Herod's army was. destroyed through the righteous judgment of God, on account of John, who is called the Baptist. For Herod, the tetrarch, caused this pious man to be slain; who exhorted the Jews to all manner of virtue and righteousness, led them to baptism, and said, that their baptism would only then be acceptable to God, if they would abstain, not merely from one or two sins, but would earnestly purify the heart, through righteousness, and afterwards also the body., "Since great numbers flocked to him, and the people were very eager for his doctrine, Herod feared, lest he (John) might induce the people, with whom his influence was great, to sedition; for it seemed, as if they would do everything according to his will and counsel. He therefore thought it best, to have him killed. For that reason he caused him to be imprisoned in the aforesaid castle Machaerus, and there put to death."
This happened, according to our reckoning, in the year thirty-two after the birth of Christ, in the seventeenth year of Tiberias, the Roman emperor; and thus was this great light of the church of God extinguished in the midst of its brightness, to the sorrow of many pious hearts.
It is stated that his body rested at Sebasta, in Palestine, till the time of Julian, when his bones were burned by the enemies of truth, and his ashes scattered to the wind. Histor. Tripart. lib. 1. cap. 15. Theod. lib. 3. carp. 6.
Stephen, which in Greek signifies a crown, was one of the seven deacons of the church at Jerusalem, a man full of faith and the wisdom of God. Acts 6:5.
He was well versed in the holy Scriptures of the Old Testament, and very eloquent. It happened that there arose certain of the sect of the Libertines, Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, and disputed with Stephen; and they were not able to resist the wisdom and the
spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned a few men to say: We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, and set up false witnesses, to say, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face, as it had been the face of an angel. Acts 6:9-15.
Then said the high priest to him, Are these things so? Thereupon, this godfearing man explained himself and answered with many reasons; he, moreover, adduced, as if with a heavenly tongue, and with incontrovertible reasons, many scriptures of the Old Testament, to show that Christ is the true Messiah, and that the Gospel is true. Acts 7: 1-53.
But when he began to speak with great warmth, and to set before the eyes of his accusers their bloodthirstiness, their wrath was kindled the more against him, for these things cut them to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. Verse 54.
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said: Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Verses 55 and 56.
But they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him; and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. Verses 57 and 58.
In the meantime he called and said, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. He kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Verses 59 and 60.
Such was the end of this upright man Stephen, to whom the honor of Jesus Christ was dearer than his own life. It is stated to have taken place in the year thirty-four after the birth of Christ, in the nineteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, which was the thirty-eighth year of his age. It happened in the seventh year after the baptism of Christ. Nic. lib. 2. cap. 3,
This having occurred, some godfearing men attended to the body, and carried it to the grave, greatly lamenting this pious martyr.-The stones were to him as rivers of sweetness. August. cap. 22. Sold.
James, surnamed the Greater, was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and a fisherman by occupation; but, Christ having called him to be His disciple, he abandoned fishing, and followed Christ. Matt. 4:21; Mark 1:19.
He was instructed for a considerable time together with the other disciples in the duties of the apostleship, until he was properly sent out in that capacity. Matt. 10:2; Mark 6:17; Luke 6:13.
He was endowed with the gift of working signs and miracles, and on account of this special gift he was one of the three surnamed Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder. He was with Jesus on every remarkable occasion; so much so, that he was chosen by the Lord to behold His glory upon the holy mount; and, afterwards, to witness His suf ferings in the garden of Gethsemane. Mark 3:17, 18; Matt. 17:1; 26:36.
Of him Christ had predicted, that he should drink of the same cup, of which He (Christ) would drink, and that he should be baptized with the same baptism, with which He was baptized; that is, that he should be subject to His (Christ's) suffering and death. Matt. 20:22, 23.
After the death of Christ he joined the other apostles, to be a witness with them, of His suffering, death, and resurrection, and to be instructed concerning His kingdom during the forty days after His resurrection.
After Christ's ascension he also remained at Jerusalem; and when he, together with the other apostles, had there received the Holy Ghost, he preached the Gospel in Judea and Samaria. Acts 1:13,14.
From there, as some relate, he went to Spain; but, meeting with little success, he returned to Judea, where, it is said, he was opposed by Hermogenes, a sorcerer. But as Abdias, bishop of Babylon, and others, relate many things of him, which seem to be altogether fictitious, we shall not mention them. Petr. de nat. lib. 6. cap. 133. Abdias Babyl. van den Strijd der Apostelen.
This apostle lived only until the fourth year of the Emperor Claudius, at which time, Agabus had predicted, there should be a dearth throughout all the world. Oros. lib. 7. carp. 6.
At that time Claudius charged Herod Agrippa to suppress the church of Christ. Then Herod laid his bloody hands on this apostle and, on the feast of the passover, put him in prison. Shortly afterwards he was sentenced to death, and executed with the sword, in Jerusalem. This occurred in the year forty-five after the birth of Christ. Acts 12:2.
Clemens relates that the executioner, seeing his innocence, was converted to the Christian faith, and died with him. According to the annotation of Eusebius Pamphilius, from Clemens Alexandrinus, the executioner was so moved on account of the death of James, that he professed himself to be a Christian; and so, as he states, both were led forth together to death. As they were led out, the executioner asked James to forgive him. James, after a little deliberation, said,"Peace be with thee," and kissed him. And thus both were beheaded. Euseb. lib. 2. cap. 9. ex Clem. Alexand. Also W. Baudart. Apophthegmat. lib. 1. page 4. from Joach. Camer. in vita Christi, page 42. Niceph. lib. 2. cap. 3. Strac. in Festo Jacobi, page 209. Cie. Circa, cap. 45. Annum. James was the first martyr of the apostles. This history shows the alacrity of the ancient believers.
Philip, a native of Bethsaida, in Galilee, had a wife and daughters of very honorable life. John 1:44; 12:21; Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. 3. cap. 30; 31.
He was found of Christ, and called as His disciple to follow Him; which he did so faithfully, that when he found Nathanael, he brought him to Christ, declaring to him, that he had found Him of whom Moses and the prophets had written, namely, Jesus of Nazareth, the true Messiah. John 1:45.
From that time on, Philip constantly followed Christ, listening to His admonitions, and beholding the miracles He performed to the service of the word of God; so that Christ ordained him an apostle, and sent him out to preach the Gospel, in the first place to the scattered sheep of the house
of Israel; which he also like his fellow apostles did. Matt. 10:3; Luke 6:13-15.
The Lord esteemed him as one of His greatest friends; for at the glorious miracle of the feeding of five thousand, Christ, in order to prove him, counseled with him, saying,"Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" (John 6:5) .
He was also kindly instructed by the Lord, when he asked to see the Father; for Christ said to him,
Philip, he that hath seen me hath seen the Father, etc. John 14:8, 9.
Once when certain Greeks wished to see Jesus, and desired him to procure them access to the Lord, he came with Andrew and told it to the Lord, who answered,"The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified" (John 12:20-23) .
This pious and godly apostle remained with the Lord, even to His suffering; and, after their dispersion, when Christ had arisen, he abode with his brethren, until they, according to the promise of Christ, received the Holy Ghost, after His ascension. Luke 24:32, 33; Acts 2:4.
After the distribution of the countries, he taught several years in Scythia, where he planted many churches; and since Syria and the upper part of Asia fell to his particular share, he laid the founda ions of faith in many of these cities. Pet. de Nat. lib. 4. crap. 107. Nic. lib. 2. cap. 39.
Finally he came to Phrygia, and wrought several signs at Hierapolis. There the Ebionites, who not only denied the divinity of Christ, but also worshiped idols, continued obstinately in their blasphemous doctrines and idolatry, and did not listen to this pious apostle of Christ, but apprehended him, and, having made his head fast to a pillar, stoned him; whereupon death ensued, and he thus fell asleep in the Lord. His body was buried in the aforementioned city Hierapolis. Konst-tooneel, van veertigh heerlijke afbeeldingen Christi, ende sijner Apostelen, etc. In the life of Philip. Bybelsch Naembceck van P. J. Tzeisk, letter P. on the name Philippus, fol. 762. col. 2. Also, Introduction to the Martyrs' Mirror of the Baptists, printed in the year 1631, fol. 35. col. 1.
James the Lesser was the son of Alpheus, and Mary Cleophas, sister to the mother of Christ; he is called the Lord's brother. Matt. 10:3; Gal. 1:19.
After proper instruction he was ordained an apostle by Christ, and sent out to minister to the Jews; wherein he acquitted himself well, until Christ's death. After that, he, with others, was sent out to preach the Gospel, which he did in the Jewish church. Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15.
And although Peter, and James and his brother John, of whom the last-mentioned two were the sons of Zebedee, were regarded as the special apostles, he was nevertheless considered to be one of the three pillars of the church, after the death of James the son of Zebedee, Gal. 2:9.
He was appointed by the apostles the first overseer of the church at Jerusalem; this was shortly after the death of Christ. Euseb. lib. 4. cap. 5. and lib. 2. cap. 23. This office he discharged faithfully for thirty years, converting many to the true faith, not only (though principally) by the pure doctrine of Christ, but also through his holy life, on account of which he was called the just. Niceph. lib. 2. carp. 38.
He was very steadfast and holy, a true Nazarite, in dress as well as in eating and drinking; and prayed daily for the church of God and the common weal.
This apostle wrote an epistle for the consolation of the twelve tribes who were scattered abroad, saying: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. James 1:1, 2.
But although he comforted with many excellent reasons his own, who believed in the name of Christ, the unbelieving Jews could not endure his doctrine; so that Ananias, an audacious and cruel young man among them, being the high priest, summoned him before the judges, that they should compel him to deny that Jesus is the Christ, and force him to renounce the Son of God and the power of His resurrection. Josep. Antiq. lib. 20. cap. 8. Euseb. lib. 2. cap. 1. verse 22. ex Egesipp. Hieron. Catal.
To this end, the chief priest, scribes, and Pharisees placed him upon the pinnacle of the temple, at the time of the passover, that he should deny his faith before all the people. But as he thus stood before the people, he confessed with much more boldness that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, the Son of God, our Saviour, and that he is sitting at the right hand of God, and shall come again in the clouds of heaven, to judge the quick and the dead.
On account of this testimony of James, the multitude of the people praised God, and magnified the name of Christ. Then cried the enemies of the truth, Oh, the just also has erred; let us take him away for he is unprofitable. They accordingly cast him down, and stoned him. But as he was not killed by the fall and the stoning, having only broken his legs, he, lying on his knees, prayed to God for those who stoned him, saying, Lord, forgive them; for they know not what they do. On account of this, one of the priests begged for his life, saying, What do ye? the Just is praying for us. Leave off stoning I But another of those present, who held a fuller's stick in his hand, struck him over the head with it, so that he died, and fell asleep in the Lord. He was buried at the place where he had been thrown down from the temple. Hieron. Catalog. in Jacobo Justo. Also, W. Baudart. Apophthegmat. lib. 1. ¢. 6. ex Euseb. Pamphil. Ccesariense, in hist. Eccl. Strac. in Festo Philippi and Jacobi, p. 133. Anno 62. C. Aetat. Jacobi.
This occurred A. D. 63, in the ninety-sixth year of his age, in the seventh year of the reign of Nero, during an interim in the governorship between the death of Festus and the arrival of Albinus, under the high priest Ananias, who perpetrated this lamentable deed on James.
Concerning this James the following is contained in the Apophthegms of Baudartius, "He was on his bare knees so often and for such long periods, praying to the Lord God for the remission of the sins of the people, that his knees were so hard and callous, that there was no sensation in them at all. lib. 1. p. 7._ O the great and constant piety of this holy martyr!
Barnabas, also called Barsabas, and surnamed Joseph, Joses, or Justus, was a Levite from Cyprus, full of the Holy Ghost. He was called the son of consolation, and such a one he indeed proved himself to the poor saints. Acts 11:24; 1:23; 4:36; Euseb. hilt. Eccl. lib. 2. cap. 1.
It is maintained that he was one of the seventy disciples of Christ, and from the multiplicity of his names we can see his renown and eminence; which latter he gained by his zeal and piety; for he brought Paul, after his conversion, to the apostles; and when the Word of God was preached to the Grecians, at Antioch, by some men from Cyprus and Cyrene, he was sent by the apostles to investigate the matter; and when he found it to be so, he confirmed them in the truth. Acts 9:27; 11:20-23.
After this he went to Tarsus, to seek Paul, and brought him to Antioch, where they remained a whole year teaching. Also, when the dearth arose under emperor Claudius, he and Paul brought substantial relief to the brethren who dwelt in Judea. Acts 11:25, 26, 29, 30; Oros. lib. 7. cap. 6. Euseb. hist. Eccl. lib. 2. cap. 3. 9.
On his return to Antioch, he was sent out by the Holy Ghost, to preach in many countries. On account of his eloquence he was frequently the speaker; yea, he was held in such high regard, and was so godly, that the Gentiles at Lystra cried in the speech of Lycaonia, that he was a god, and had come down from heaven, and called him Jupiter.
And this was not all; but the priest of that place came with oxen wearing garlands, and desired to do sacrifice to him and Paul. But he and his companion Paul utterly declined this, saying,"Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that you should turn from these vanities unto the living God." Acts 12:25; 13:4-6; 14:1, 2, 11,12,15.
Afterwards, when certain men came from Judea, and troubled the brethren, saying,"Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved," he and his aforementioned companion vigorously opposed them, according to the teaching of the holy Gospel; wherefore he and several other pious men were appointed to go to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, to bring said matter to a good termination. When they arrived at Jerusalem, he and the others were received joyfully by the apostles and the church; yea, what is still more, they testified of him and his companion Paul, that they were men who had hazarded their lives for the truth; which indeed was apparent. Acts 15:1, 26. For, when he came to Salamina, a large city in the island of Cyprus, at this day called Famagosta, to strengthen the church at that place in the faith, he was very badly treated, as ancient history tells us, by a Jewish sorcerer, who stirred up all the other Jews and the whole people against him, so that they apprehended him in an uproar, and were about to bring him to the judge, but fearing that the judge discovering his innocence, would perhaps release him, they, after treating him lamentably, put a rope around his neck, dragged him out of the city, and burned him. Anton. p. 1. t. 6. cap. 18. Sabell. Eu. 7. lib. 2.
Thus was this faithful servant of Christ honored with the martyr's crown, in his fatherland, and fell asleep happy in the Lord, about the time that James the Just was slain at Jerusalem, under Emperor Nero; however, before the publication of the first heathen persecution, which began shortly after the burning of Rome. Plat. in vita Petri. and Pauli. Bybelsch Naembcpk, p. 158, 159. letter B. ujt hilt. Andr. fol. 8.
The holy evangelist Mark is supposed by most to have been that Mark whose surname in Holy Scripture is John. He was of the circumcision, and a nephew of Barnabas, whose mother was called Mary, a very godly woman, who gave her house in Jerusalem for the assembling of Christians. Acts 12:12; Col. 4:10. Niceph. lib. 2. cap. 33.
He was first appointed a servant of Paul and Barnabas, but on a journey to Pamphylia he returned to Jerusalem. Acts 12:25; 13:13.
Afterwards the apostle Paul recommended him to the church at Colosse, requesting them to receive him as a fellow worker in the kingdom of God. He also commanded Timothy, to bring Mark to him, since he was very profitable to him in his ministry. Col. 4:10; II Tim. 4:11.
This Mark was in prison with Paul, and rendered him all faithful assistance in his bonds. Philem. verses 23, 24.
The apostle Peter in his epistle to the elect scattered strangers, calls Mark his son, I Pet. 5:13; undoubtedly, because through the Gospel, he had regenerated him in Christ; or, because he was his disciple, interpreter, and the writer of the Gospel which he had taught; of which latter circumstance Jerome speaks thus, "Mark, a disciple of Peter, at the request of the brethren at Rome, wrote a brief Gospel, according to that which he had heard Peter relate. When Peter had examined it, he pronounced it good. and upon his word gave it to the church to read." Catalog. Marc. ex Cl. Al Hypor. 6. Also, Euseb. lib. 2. cap. 18, ex Clem Al. and Papio Hierapolit.
Afterwards when Mark was sent by Peter to Egypt, he traveled through Aquilea, the capital city of Friol, where he converted many to the faith, and left Hermagoras as pastor over the church. Avent. au. Boi. lib. 2.
Then he journeyed to Africa, filling Lybia, Marmorica, Ammonica, and Pentapolis with the doctrine of the holy Gospel. Finally he remained several years at Alexandria, where he made his abode. Nic. lib. 2. cap. 43 A thaw. in Synopsi.
Concerning the end of his life, Gelasius states, that he died there as a martyr. Concil. Rom Deer. de lib. Auth. and Apocr. Niceph. lib. 2. cap. 43.
Mark, he writes, having been sent by Peter to
Egypt, faithfully preached the Word of truth there, and nobly sealed the testimony thereof with his blood. All the ancient and modern, Greek and Latin, martyrologies agree with this.
Histories state the following concerning the manner of his death: That in the eighth year of Nero, when he, at the feast of the passover, preached the blessed remembrance of the suffering and death of Christ, to the church at Alexandria, the heathen priests and the whole populace seized him, and with hooks and ropes which they fastened around his body, dragged him out of the congregation, through the streets and out of the city; so that his flesh everywhere adhered to the stones, and his blood was poured out upon the earth, until he, with the last words of our Saviour, committed his spirit into the hands of the Lord, and expired. Anton. p. 1. cap. 6. 16. Procop. Dia Metaphr. Ado. 25. Apr. de Fest. Apost.
Another ancient writer relates: That he was dragged very inhumanly through the streets, his whole body torn open, so that there was not a single spot on it, which did not bleed; .and that they then again thrust him, still alive, into prison, whence he, having been strengthened and comforted by the Lord in the night, was taken.out again, and dragged to the place Buculi, they jestingly saying,"Let us lead the buffalo to the buffalostall." Konst-tooneel der veertig heerlijke afbeeldingen Christi en der postelen, printed Anno 1609. Alos, Bybelsch Nwmboek, printed Anno 1632, letter M. p. 642. col. 1. 2.
Death having ensued meanwhile, the aforementioned heathen wanted, moreover, to burn him; but as they were prevented by a storm, the Christians buried him. This happened, according to common reckoning, in the eighth year of Nero's reign, A. D. 64, on the 21st day of April.