By: Thomas Weisser

Since attending Bible College I was very interested in something. It had been mused about and considered by many of our preachers. But no one had really seriously pursued it.

I was in great consternation as I considered the problem. After Frank Ewart rediscovered the gospel message of Acts 2:38 and the oneness of the Godhead in 1914, the Oneness Pentecostal Movement had grown considerably. What disturbed me was the lack of evidence for people believing this before 1914 and all the many centuries after the birth of the Church. This gives great opportunity to our critics and leaves us on the defensive. In any endeavor the worst possible way to approach it is from the defensive position.

The Bible has not changed significantly through the centuries. The seed has been there, but why is it so difficult to find someone preaching Acts 2:38? I really could not believe that God would withhold this wonderful life changing message from people hungry for truth.

Working it over in my mind I realized a few things. First, I could not believe that there was a time in Church History when this message was not being preached somewhere. With this in mind I tried to rationalize for those who did but, apparently left no record, or their record was destroyed. I thought, maybe they weren't writers and in most cases simply used the Bible. It is true that censorship was a great preoccupation of Europe's intolerant Catholic influenced leaders. This could definitely account for much of the lack of historical data substantiating the existence of Acts 2:38 people. But that didn't satisfy me. Surely, some information had leaked out.

Not really knowing where I'd be going or whether it would profit me I plunged in. It didn't take me long I find what I considered, a very good lead. During the English Revolution in the mid-17th Century censorship was nonexistent from 1640 to 1660. It was during this time that I hoped to find someone who rediscovered the wonderful message of Acts 2:38, and wrote about it. Little did I know that my novel attempts would lead to so many amazing discoveries among such unlikely groups.

In my quest I happened upon a book written by a Murray Tolmie entitled The Triumph of the Saints. This book is about the rise of separatism in England (l6th and l7th centuries). I found Mr. Tolmie in Vancouver B. C. and phoned him hoping that he would be of some help. He suggested that I get a hold of Whitley's A Baptist Biography and what followed was eye straining viewing of endless microfilm rolls at the local library. After so much of this I became discouraged and decided to lay off these Early Baptists and pursue another avenue. A symposium in St. Louis was coming up and I was presenting a paper there, so it was easy to lay aside this seemingly fruitless endeavor.

After my return from St. Louis I was drawn back inexplicably to these early English Baptists. I dug up my list from the Baptist bibliography and began again, ordering likely titles. I had developed the habit of going through all the works in a roll of microfilm after I got it. For this I am now very grateful. Many times the writing I ordered was a disappointment but I might run across something interesting in another work on the roll. It was this way when I ran across a most exciting discovery.

Zipping through a roll of microfilm in which the now familiar disappointment had been perused I came across something sensational! Slowing down I sat dumbfounded as I began reading; "Because it is the Gospel faith, that Jesus commanded his disciples to preach after his resurrection unto all Nations; Luke 24:46....Because there was no way revealed, for the poor trembling Jews, that were pricked in their hearts at the preaching of Peter, for crucifying the Christ....When they cryed out, what shall we do? Until they yield obedience to the voice of the everlasting gospel; that the Holy Spirit speak to them, by the mouth of Peter; Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins; And ye shall receive the gift of the holy Spirit:" I read it again and again. I couldn't believe what I had run across by accident. Further discoveries followed and the following pages will uncover for you significant facts that, for the most part, have been hidden until now. Along with exposing cover-ups by historians you will find that baptism in the name of Jesus Christ was commonly practiced.

Early English Baptists and Baptism in Jesus' Name
Francis Cornwell

Mr. Francis Cornwell is the main character in the drama you are about to view through these pages. He was one of the most educated of the 17th Century Anabaptists having obtained a Master of Arts degree from Emanuel College. He left a comfortable position with the Church of England as vicar in a village called Marden in Kent (a county SE of London) after stirring up a hornet's nest.

His writings are heavy with advocacy for 'dipping' in Jesus' name. When mentioning Mt. 28:19, he repeatedly brings our attention to Acts to see the meaning of this important Scripture. On page 5 of his Two Queries he writes:

Until they yield obedience unto the Gospel Commandment: Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ; for the remission of sins, Act 2:38....Because there is no promise of salvation for any (whether they be males or females) but for them only, that believe in Jesus the Christ, Act. 4:10, 11, 12. For there is salvation in none other.

He gives a little of his testimony in his Gospel Conversion: (This was directed 'To all the Churches of Jesus the Christ, coming out of Mystical Babylon, gathered or scattered, that follow the Lamb, the Lord Jesus wheresoever he goeth').

Now when the Lord opened the eyes of my understanding, and convicted me of all the abominations I had done in my spiritual captivity under Antichrist, especially, that I had crucified Jesus the Christ in his Members, being pricked in my heart, I trembling cried, what shall I do? The Spirit and the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, said; Repent, and be Baptized in the name of Jesus, &c. Then I gladly received the Word, was Baptized, and was added to the Church. Acts 2:38,39,40,41,42.

We have some written record of the controversy between Mr. Cornwell and the English Clergy. A Robert Whittle published An Answer to Mr. Francis Cornwell's Positions & Inferences etc. in 1646. Included in this work is Mr. Cornwell's The New Testament ratified with the Blood of the Lord Jesus, is the Magna Charta of Believers in Jesus the Christ dipped; by which they are justified to be no Heretics. In this Cornwell repeatedly refers to baptism in Jesus' Name: we which believe in Jesus Christ, must repent and be dipped in the name of Jesus Christ: the love of Christ our King constrained us to arise and be dipped in the name of Jesus Christ; as we find 3,000 at one time gladly received his word and were dipped, Act 2:41.

Mr. Cornwell directly addresses Mr. Whittle saying:

Moreover, M. Whittle, you and your brethren deny Jesus Christ to be your Anointed King, in that you yield not obedience to his Gospel Commandment; namely, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the holy Spirit, Act. 2:38. (Seeing they are the first Gospel Commandment with promises,) and for your rebellion against the Crown and Dignity of King Jesus, and your disobedience in not obeying the Gospel of the Lord Jesus; you can expect no other but to be punished with everlasting perdition, 2 Thess. 6:7,8,9. Unless the good Lord persuade you to change your mind, and be dipped in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, which are very grievous before the Lord.

Mr. Whittle answers; "we acknowledge but one baptism, In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost".

We will learn more of Mr. Cornwell later.

Smoke in the Temple

In 1645 a rather interesting work was put forth by John Saltmarsh who calls himself a 'Preacher of the Gospel at Brasteed in Kent'. In it he describes many religious groups that had arisen in England. The most revolutionary aspect of this work is that Mr. Saltmarsh calls for religious toleration and pluralism in England. The concept of religious liberty that we so cherish in the United States was advocated in this work. In Smoke in the Temple Mr. Saltmarsh has a subheading entitled 'Anabaptism So called; What it is, or what they hold.' On page 16 we read:

That the Baptism of Jesus Christ by water, was only in the Name of Jesus Christ, as appears in all places where such a baptism was practiced, as in Act. 2:38. Act. 10:48. Act. 19:5. Act. 8:16. Rom. 6:3. All of which is a Baptism only in the Name of Jesus Christ...

That the form by which they baptize, viz. I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is a form of mans devising, a tradition of man, a mere consequence drawn from supposition and probability, and not a form left by Christ.

Mercurius Politicus

In 1659 leading Baptist non-conformists, Kiffen, Moyer, etc. wrote a short message in Mercurius Politicus entitled: 'The humble and hearty address of sundry churches of persons baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

Confessions of Faith

The Early English Baptists were roughly divided among two types. The Particular who followed Calvinistic principles and believed in the Predestination of a particular few to be the elect. And the General Baptists who believed in general redemption or being among the elect.

In the l7th Century many Confessions appeared from the non-conformists (those not conforming to the national church) in England. A few of these included provision for baptism in Jesus' Name. Especially important is the fact that the General Baptist confessions allowed for baptism in Jesus' Name (Francis Cornwell was a General Baptist).

A Particular Baptist Confession first published in 1656 entitled A Confession of the Faith Several Churches of Christ in the County of Somerset, and of some Churches in the Counties near adjacent says the following about baptism: XXIV

THAT it is the duty of every man and woman, that have repented from dead works, and have faith towards God, to be baptized (Acts 2:38; 8:12,37,38), that is, dipped or buried under the water (Rom. 6:3,4; Col. 2:12), in the name of our Lord Jesus (Acts 8;16), or in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19).

The True Gospel Faith, 1654, or what Whitley calls the earliest General Baptist Confession does not mention Trinitarian baptism at all. Only baptism in Jesus' Name is mentioned. Lumpkin in his Baptist Confessions of Faith does a poor job of giving us a facsimile of Article XI. He neglects to quote Scriptures cited and cites the wrong Scripture twice(in his work he lists Acts 10:43 and 2:33--in the original it is 10:48 and 2:38). Here is what it says in the original: XI

That they that believe the things so preached ought to be dipped in water, Acts 10:47. Can any man forbid water that these should not be baptized (which in the English is dipped) which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? Acts10:48. He commanded them to be baptized in the Name of the L. Jesus, Acts 2:38. Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 2:41. Then they that gladly received the word were baptized, Acts 8:12. 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.

Later the General Baptists in 1660 published A Brief Confession. It says the following about baptism:

That the right and only way of gathering Churches (according to Christ's appointment, Mat. 28:19,20.) is first to teach, or preach the Gospel, Mark 16:16. to the Sons and Daughters of men; and then to Baptize (that is in English to Dip) in the name of the Father, Son, and holy Spirit, or in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; such only of them as profess "repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ," Acts 2:38. Acts 8: 12. Acts 18:8.15

In another part of this same confession qualifications for the ministry are outlined. It says this about those they considered unqualified; all such who come not first to repent of their sins, believe on the Lord Jesus, and so 'Baptized' in his name for the remission of Sins, but are only brought up in the Schools of humane learning, to the attaining humane arts, and variety of languages, with many vain curiosities of speech, I Cor. 1:19,21. 2:1,4,5. seeking rather the gain of large revenues, than the gain of souls to God such we utterly deny, being such as have need rather to be taught themselves, than fit to teach others, Rom. 2:21.

Clearly, baptism in Jesus' Name was practiced by many of the l7th Century English Baptists of both the Particular and General persuasion.

William Wall (1647-1728) in his work The History of Infant Baptism says this about the General Baptists. "One sort of them do count it indifferent whether they baptize with these words; In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; or with these; In the name of the Lord Jesus. And do in their public confession allow either of the forms. And I have heard that some of them do affectedly choose the latter." Later he says; "Those that baptize only in the name of the 
Lord Jesus plead the examples of the apostles, Acts 8:16; item 19:5."

John Lawrence Mosheim (1694-1755) says this about the General Baptists in his An Ecclesiastical History; "They dip only once, and not three times, as is practiced elsewhere, the candidates for baptism, and consider it as a matter of indifference, whether that sacrament be administered in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or in the name of Christ alone."

The Godhead

Among these early Baptists many became dissatisfied with the idea of Three Persons in God. Baillie in his work Anabaptism (1646) writes; "The Anabaptists in Somersetshire denied the Trinity of Persons in the Deity, and affirm that there is but one Person in the Godhead, for if there be three Persons, there must needs be three Gods, and that Athanasius in his Creed doth blaspheme."

Around the same time Thomas Edwaras published his Gangraena. He said that there were those in England who believed the following:

That in the Unity of the Godhead there is not a Trinity of Persons, but the Doctrine of the Trinity believed and professed in the Church of God, is a Popish tradition and a Doctrine of Rome. There are not three distinct Persons in the Divine Essence, but only three Offices, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not three Persons, but Offices. There is but one Person in the Divine nature.

The confessions that appeared in the 17th Century give us a good clue as to a group's concepts on the Godhead. If they were Trinitarian they usually expressed this explicitly in their Confession. All those I mention in the previously do not make an explicit stand for Trinitarianism.

This may mean a lot or not much depending on how you look at it. In my research I came across a very interesting cover-up that should mean a lot to any honest historian. Richard Knight, a pastor of a General Baptist Church in Rhode Island (l9th Century), wrote a history of the General Baptists. In it he goes to great lengths to paint the General Baptist movement in a Trinitarian light. Either Mr. Knight was hopelessly ignorant of the true contents of the Confession of 1660, or he is, what is commonly referred to in the Bible as a liar! Mr. Knight writes the following:

The confession of 1660, speaks plainly, "that there is one Holy Spirit, the precious gift of God, freely given to such as obey him, that thereby they may be thoroughly sanctified and made able, without which they are altogether unable to abide steadfast in the faith. There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. We believe that there is one Holy Spirit, the third person subsisting in the Sacred Trinity, one with the Father and Son, co-equal, co-eternal and co-essential with the Father and Son, to whom with the Father and Son, three persons and but one eternal and Almighty God, be, by all the hosts of saints and angels ascribed eternal glory and hallelujahs, Amen. Concerning the Holy Spirit, we believe, suitable to the scriptures that speak thereof, that the Holy Spirit is of God, and is God, of the divine essence, the enlightener and convincer, converter, sanctifier, strengthener and comforter of his people in and by the means appointed for that end, namely: the word of truth and doctrine of the gospel. 

I've not been able to find the above in any reproductions of the Confession of 1660. This is what it really says:

VII. That there is one holy Spirit, the precious gift of God, freely given to such as obey him, Ephes. 4:4. Acts 5:32. that thereby they may be thoroughly sanctified, and made able (without which they are altogether unable) to abide steadfast in the faith, and to honor the Father, and his Son Christ, the Author and finisher of their faith; I Cor. 6:11. There are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, the holy Spirit, and these three are one; which Spirit of promise such have not yet received, (though they speak much of him) that are so far out of Love, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Meekness, and Temperance, (the fruits of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22,23.) as that they breath out much cruelty, and great envy against the Liberties, and peaceful living of such, as are not of their judgment, though holy as to their conversations.

The truth of the matter is that the General Baptists, as a whole, were never strongly Trinitarian. There were Trinitarians among them but they never seemed to gain a majority. Torbet says the following about the General Baptists; "There was among them, however, some confusion with respect to the Trinitarian concept of God...By 1750 they had adopted quite generally a form of Unitarian teaching that explained deity as one person in three manifestations, rather than three persons in one God." [note; "The term 'Unitarian' first emerges in 1682, and appears in the title of the Brief History (1687). It was considered in a broad sense to cover all who, with whatever differences, held the uni-personality of the Divine Being. fr. Ency. Brit. 11th ed.]

Watts tells us this about these General Baptists; "In 1697 the General Baptist Assembly resolved that if members debated the Trinity, they must do so 'in Scripture words and terms and in no other terms,' and the Assembly held to that position consistently throughout the following century."

In 1678 an opposing confession to the Confession of 1660 was published. "It was issued, not by the General Assembly (leaders), but by fifty-five Messengers, Elders and Brethren. They were chiefly from the counties of Bucks, Hereford, Bedford, and Oxford. They titled it the Orthodox Creed. The Catholic Encyclopedia says this about it:

The most important document of the General Baptists was the Orthodox Creed of 1678. Explicitly affirming acceptance of the Apostle's, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds, this document set forth the theological views of the General Baptists in detail.

To say that the Orthodox Creed was 'the most important document of the General Baptists' is really stretching it. Especially when you consider the prevailing tendency among the General Baptists to use only Scriptural terms to define the Godhead. Taylor says in speaking of the Orthodox Creed; "It does not, however, appear, that it was ever generally approved." Clearly, the Orthodox Creed with its strong trinitarianism was not widely accepted by the General Baptists. The writer of the article in the Catholic Encyclopedia would have been more accurate had he said the Confession of 1660 was the most important document of the General Baptists. It has no unscriptural language in regards to the Godhead.

Salter's Hall

Among non-conformists (those groups operating outside of the national church, i.e. Church of England) in the early l8th Century there was a desire to unify themselves on the subject of the Godhead. In hopes of an agreement a meeting was held at Salter's Hall in London, Feb. 19,24, 1719. The main question considered by the delegates was whether or not to subscribe to extra-biblical statements regarding the Godhead. Most of the General Baptists present did not subscribe. Crosby tells us; "In this assembly, when some Baptist ministers pleaded against subscription to human forms, they were reproached with the names of laymen, and Anabaptist teachers; and told, that they had no business there." 

Michael Watts in his work The Dissenters says; "The London ministers met at Salter's Hall on 19 and 24 February 1719 and on a crucial division it was resolved by 57 votes to 53 'that no human compositions, or interpretations of the doctrine of the Trinity, should be made a part of those articles of advice." He continues; "Meanwhile, in London, the controversy continued, and at a further meeting at Salter's Hall on 3 March the defeated minority subscribed their names to a Trinitarian declaration which led hence forward to the two sides being known as Subscribers and Non-subscribers." He concludes by saying:

Of the seventy-eight London Dissenting ministers who are known to have been subscribers at Salter's Hall, thirty were Presbyterians, twenty-eight Congregationalists, fourteen Particular Baptists, one General Baptist, and five of unknown affiliation. Of the seventy-three Non-subscribers there were forty-seven Presbyterians, nine Congregationalists, fourteen General Baptists, two Particular Baptists, and one of uncertain affiliation. In other words, the majority of Presbyterian and General Baptist ministers took their stand on the sufficiency of Scripture, the majority of Congregationalists and Particular Baptists insisted on subscription to a Trinitarian creed.

Francis Cornwell

Francis Cornwell is the biggest anomaly of all the 17th Century English Baptist leaders. Here is a man who was one of the most educated Baptist converts. He wrote extensively and eloquently in defense of Biblical doctrines. Yet he is almost totally ignored by Baptist historians. His impact on the General Baptist movement in the l7th Century was very significant yet very little credit is given to him. I wonder why?

Crosby, in his The History of the English Baptists gives us the most information:

He was trained up at Cambridge, and was sometime student of Emanuel college, and commenced master of arts in that university.

Francis Cornwell, M.A. I have given some account of him in Vol. I, p. 344. and have since received further information, viz. That he was a minister of Marden in Kent; and when under imprisonment in King Charles I's time for Nonconformity to wearing the surplice, to kneeling at the sacrament, the cross in baptism, and other ceremonies then imposed, he had for his companion Mr. Wilson of Ottham. They were together in Maidstone Goal, where amongst the visitors that came to see them, there was a woman that had some scruples of mind, whether the baptism of infants could be proved from scripture. Mr. Cornwell endeavored by the best scripture-arguments he could, to resolve the woman's doubts; but found he could not do it so well to her satisfaction, and his own, as he could have wished. The woman being gone, he had some conference with Mr. Wilson, his fellow prisoner; who assured him, that he never understood, that infants baptism could be proved from scripture, but had its authority from human tradition; it being handed down from primitive times, as a practice generally received in the church. Mr. Cornwell taking the scriptures to be the only rule of faith, and considering that on this principle only, all the protestant churches vindicated their separation from the church of Rome, against all her impositions brought in by pretended primitive antiquity, tho' not to be found in scripture. This principle of making the scriptures the only rule of faith, engaged him to make more diligent search: and finding that he could not to his own satisfaction prove the authority of infants baptism from the scripture; but that in all ages it had its dependence on the decrees, canons, and councils of the church, as many other corruptions had; he resolved to relinquish the doctrine of infants baptism, and concluded, that believers only, which made profession of their faith and repentance, were the proper subjects of baptism.

AFTER the death of King Charles I. Oliver Cromwell gave liberty to all to worship God according to their own consciences. Mr. Cornwell being then at liberty, and minister again of the parish-church at Marden, and having yet concealed his sentiments, was made choice of to preach the visitation-sermon at Crambrook. Having been baptized by Mr. William Jeffery, of Seven-Oaks, his friends concluded this a proper time to declare publicly his sentiments; which he did, from Mark vii. 7. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. After the sermon was ended, the clergy were for disputing the point with Mr. Cornwell but; Mr. Jeffery being present, he referred them to him. They soon found Mr. Jeffery too hard for them in disputation, which caused Mr. Blackwood, to desire them to cease at that time; for he had taken the sermon as preached, in short-hand, and would return an answer in print, which he hoped might be to the satisfaction of them all. But in the issue, as I have before related, Vol. I. p. 347. Mr. Blackwood became a proselyte, and was baptized by the said Mr. Jeffery.

Mr. Cornwell while vicar of the Church of England in Marden became convinced of believers' baptism. We have uncovered the following story:

There was at the time of the Commonwealth a vicar by the name of Cornwell. The rectory of Staplehurst was filled by a Calvinistic Baptist and the ministers met at Cranbrook once a fortnight. One day the Calvinistic minister gave an address against infant baptism, and it came about that Mr. Cornwell, vicar of Marden, promised to answer his reverend brother at the next meeting. When the ministers again assembled Mr. Cornwell stated that he had examined the question and he found infant baptism was contrary to the custom of the Church, and, in order to show his conviction, he had broken to pieces the Marden font.

Another practice that was, at first, rejected by General Baptists was the laying on of hands. The practice of laying on of hands, apparently for the reception of the Holy Ghost, was later widely accepted by the General Baptists. Our Mr. Cornwell had a great part in the introduction of this practice among the General Baptists.

Now we will examine individual writings of Mr. Cornwell.

-Two Queries Worthy of Serious Consideration, concerning the Gospel Faith of the LORD JESUS the CHRIST once given unto the saints, Matt. 16:16, I John 5:1 (Feb. 1645 fr. Orpington in Kent.)

This work was directed to the ministers of the Church of England. The two queries directed to the English ministry are:

1. What is the everlasting Gospel; that Jesus the Christ commanded his Disciples to preach to all Nations beginning at Jerusalem?

2. Whether they preach now the everlasting Gospel in the same manner to them, that enquire after it. As Peter did to the trembling Jews, Act. 2:38.

In this work Mr. Cornwell identifies himself as 'a loyal Covenanter for a pure Reformation in England and Ireland, according to the Word of God'. He expresses very plainly the Gospel message that would bring a true Reformation:

5. Because it is the Gospel faith, that Jesus commanded his Disciples to preach after his resurrection unto all Nations: Luke 24:46. Thus it behoveth the Christ to suffer, and to rise again the third day. 47. And that repentance; and remission of sins, should be preached in his name amongst all Nations beginning at Jerusalem 48: And ye are witnesses of these things.

6. Because there was no way revealed, for the poor trembling Jews, that were pricked in their hearts at the Preaching of Peter, for crucifying the Christ Acts 2:36. to save themselves from that froward generation (who had killed the Lord Jesus and their own Prophets) upon whom the wrath of God was coming to the uttermost: I Thess. 2: 14,15,16. When they cried out, what shall we do? until they yield obedience to the voice of the everlasting Gospel; that the holy Spirit speak to them, by the mouth of Peter; Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus the Christ for the remission of sins; And ye shall receive the gift of the holy Spirit:

Over and over in this short work Mr. Cornwell refers to Acts 2:38 as the Everlasting Gospel.

Must not the Gospel minister (to whom is committed the word of reconciliation; 2 Cor. 5:18.) preach unto them the everlasting Gospel; As Peter, did to the inquiring Jews; Act. 2:38? 

Until they yield obedience unto the Gospel Commandment: Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ; for the remission of sins. Act 2:38. Because it is written; He that saith I know him (that is Jesus the Christ) and keepeth not his Commandment is a liar; and there is no truth in him, I John 2:4.

He mentions the keys of the kingdom of Mt. 16:19 on page one. Over and over he reiterates that a true Gospel Minister must confess that Jesus is the Christ as Peter did in Matthew. Its possible he received a Oneness enlightenment as modern Oneness adherents claim.

A modern Oneness Pentecostal could hand this out, if reprinted, as a tract explaining his basic beliefs on the Gospel message.

-The New Testament ratified with the blood of the Lord Jesus, is the Magna Charta of believers in Jesus Christ dipped; by which they are justified to be no Heretics.

This is a work primarily directed to the Church of England minister Robert Whittle of East-Malling in Kent. Mr. Cornwell very cleverly uses the Magna Charta which represented a major step in English history towards rule by law to illustrate his concept of the Gospel message. Essentially, what he was saying, is that we need to follow the basic message of the New Testament without human traditions.

His concept of the basic gospel message is plain to see:

Moreover, M. Whittle, you and your brethren deny Jesus Christ to be your Anointed King, in that you yield not to his Gospel-Commandment; namely, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the holy Spirit, Act. 2:38. (Seeing they are the first Gospel Commandment with promises,) and for your rebellion against the Crown and Dignity of King Jesus, and your disobedience in not obeying the Gospel of the Lord Jesus; you can expect no other but to be punished with everlasting perdition, 2 Thess. 6:7,8,9. unless the good Lord persuade you to change your mind, and be dipped in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, which are very grievous before the Lord.

Mr. Whittle responds; "you fly upon us for denying Christ to be our anointed King, and so for open rebellion against him; and all because we will not be dipped; we acknowledge but one Baptism, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with which we have been already baptized in our Infancy."

Mr. Cornwell pleads with the English ministry to accept the words of the King and Prophet Jesus Christ so that they may enter into the Spiritual Kingdom of Jesus:

Namely, by repentance from dead works, confession of faith in Jesus Christ, and baptism; which are the three first principles of the Doctrine of Christ, which all the members of the Churches of Judea, which were in Christ, took up and practiced before they were added to the spiritual house in the breaking of bread and prayer, Heb. 6:1, Act 2:41. So that you trembling, cry out, What shall we doe? The holy Spirit, (by Peter that speaketh) will tell you: Repent, and be dipped every one of you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the holy Spirit: Then so many of you as shall gladly receive his word, shall be dipped, and shall be added to the Congregation of believers in Jesus the Christ, to continue in the doctrine we have received from the Apostles, and in Saints fellow-ship (that keep the Commandment of God, and the faith of Jesus, Rev. 14:12, and in breaking of bread and prayer, Act 2:41,42.) and have a right to all the Promises, Privileges, and Inheritance, that Jesus Christ, according to his New Testament, hath purchased for you that obey his Gospel. Heb. 5:8.

He ends his short work with this:

Yours, who is adjudged an Heretic by you; but because he refuseth to keep the Traditions of the Elders; but will rather observe the Commandment of Christ, (as the Pharisees of old upbraided Christ’s own Disciples, Matt. 15:2. yet prayeth, that God would open your understandings, that you might understand the New Testament, Christ hath ratified with his own blood, that ye might not sin against his mercies, and his members; lest you slay your own souls’.

-Twelve Reasons laid down against prescribed and stinted (restricted) Forms of Prayers or Praises.

The little work paints the picture of lively worship and praise. Clearly, the Churches that Mr. Cornwell identified with were not dead and formalistic. He says; "I cannot worship God in a stinted (restricted) form of worship, in prayer, and praise," and; 'then, that death of Christ is of force, to put an end to mans Ceremonial Worship:"

He concludes his discourse with the following:

Therefore I say to you (who blame us for not frequenting devised forms of Worship in prayer and praises) as Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego did to King Nebuchadnezzar, We are not careful to answer you in this matter; Our God whom wee serve is able to deliver us out of your hand; But if he will not, be it known to you, we will not serve your gods; nor worship our God in that devised way that man set up, Dan. 3:16, 17, 18.

If one set form of spiritual Worship in prayer and praises had been needful, Christ would have left one: But the Prophets, Christ, the Apostles, never prayed nor praised God by any set form of Worship invented by man; but by the powerful work of the holy Spirit, Rom. 8:26. Gal. 4:6.

A set form of Worship prescribed in prayer or praises, cannot in prayer express the several necessities of Gods people, for the more grace they have, the more they seen their own infirmities, corruptions, and sins. Neither can it in praises express the manifold experiences that the Saints daily observe of Gods merciful dealing with them: Therefore a set form of prayer and praise, it is altogether unuseful; I Cor. 14:15, 16.

-A Description of the Spiritual Temple: or the Spouse Prepared for the 

The primary message of this work is a distinction between the true Church and the false. He puts forth the question; "What Congregations deny that Jesus is the Christ?" and answers; "Even all such as build upon the hay and stubble of mans inventions, and not upon the precious stone, Jesus the Christ, in whom only salvation is found, Act. 4:12."

He then lists those who build on the hay. First, those who build on the Pope. Second, those who build on the decrees of Church Councils. Third, those who build on another man's faith. These are built upon the sand he says, and not upon the rock, Jesus.

Then he continues to describe the true Bride of Christ. First; "she is a loyal Spouse, that hath no head, no husband, no Lord, no Law giver, in things appertaining to the conscience, but royal King Jesus.' Secondly, his true bride recognized Christ's offices of Prophet, Priest and King. Thirdly, she has a pure worship not tainted with the 'inventions of man.'

He describes the National Churches of Europe and their actions towards non-conformists. "By which Decree, the Nations in name and title have been Christianized, (though in the power they have denied it) and have killed many a precious Saint, under the brand of Heretics, for opposing it: whereby, the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication, Revel. 17:2.

During apostolic times he describes the early Christians as coming out of the National Church of the Jews. He describes the early converts as feeling guilt for crucifying the Christ and saying; "Men and brethren, what shall we doe?" He answers; "Must not the Reply bee that voice that the Holy Spirit spake by the mouth of Peter, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." He gives the same answer (Acts 2:38).

He goes right into the Ephesian disciples of Acts 19 says:

We have an instance of twelve Disciples found at Ephesus, baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, and Paul laid his hands on them, and they spake with new tongues, and Prophesied, as Joel the Prophet foretold, Joel 2:28. I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, &c.

Again, the Holy Ghost baptism is mentioned. Mr. Cornwell doesn't come out and say that he spoke in tongues but he writes as though it is a familiar thing with him.

Secondly, the Holy Spirit was not to bee given in his full measure until Christ was glorified. John 7:39, compared with Acts 2:33.

But to the Faith and Baptism the Apostles preached after the death, and resurrection, and ascension of Christ into glory, there was a promise of giving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38. Repent, and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit: as the Prophet Joel foretold, Joel 2:28, and the twelve at Ephesus received, Acts 19:6.

He quotes Acts 19:6; "And Paul laid his hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."

Later, he describes the laying on of hands in Acts 8:14-17 and says:

So that by the examination of these texts of holy Scripture, it appeareth to me, that these twelve that were formerly baptized by John, and then afterwards by Paul were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; and then the Lord according to his own free promise, Acts 2:38. Gave them the gifts of his holy Spirit, by his ordinance of Imposition of hands; that the earth might bee filled with his glory, and his Church replenished with gifts meet for the ministry, Ephes. 4:11,12.

The rest of this book is given to a call for religious liberty. Especially as it applies to the rejection of 'Roman traditions.'

Cornwell possessed an ingenious ability to bring together Bible truths with events poignantly felt by the 17th Century British subject. His clever comparison of the New Testament with the Magna Charta gave the average Englishman a clear object lesson. Just as the Magna Charta offered rule by law and freedom from arbitrary punishment so the New Testament offered the message of salvation and freedom from punishment, "for you that obey his (Jesus') Gospel."

Also, throughout his works he claimed that his critics had denied Jesus Christ to be their King. He grants that they claim Him as their Priest to intercede but reject Him as their Prophet and King. The term King and his unmitigated power was very real to the 17th Century Englishman. The English Revolution was fought primarily to lesson the power of the King and following ages lessened it more in Britain until today the monarch is merely a figurehead with no real power. Nevertheless, Cornwell drives the point home that Jesus is a King who cannot be deposed or deprived of His power. Therefore, a man is wise to obey the gospel message of Acts 2:38 because it is the decree of an absolute ruler. Those who will not obey cannot be admitted into His everlasting kingdom.

We don't have proof positive that he was Oneness in his theological beliefs concerning God. One the other hand, we have no strong indication that he was Trinitarian. He speaks disparagingly concerning the acts of Church Councils where Trinitarianism was formulated. He repeatedly refers to I Jn. 2:23 which says, "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father." In his introductory remarks in A Description of the Spiritual Temple he brings our attention to 'two sorts of men'. The first are those who believe Jesus is the Christ (I Jn. 5:1); and the other are those who deny that Jesus is the Christ. Now, remember, he is saying that the Church of England ministers holding to Trinitarianism deny Jesus to be the Christ. Then he says; "And when I thought to understand the difference, it was too hard for me, until I went into the Sanctuary of God; where the Father of glory, of his good pleasure, revealed to me (the most unworthy of all his servants) the truth of that; which (I conceive) is the root of all our Controversies, and gave me to understand the meaning of the Scriptures, I John 5:1. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, viz. the eternal King. Prophet, Priest of the Church of the New Testament, ratified with his blood....none could understand that Mystery: but they only to whom the Father of heaven revealed it, Matt. 11:24. Hence, when Jesus demanded of his Disciples, Whom doe men say that I the Son of man am? Peter answereth; thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God: Jesus answered; Blessed art thou Simon Bar-Jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee; but my Father in heaven. And thou art Peter, and upon this rock (Jesus the Christ, whom thou hast confessed) I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, Mat. 16:16-18."

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