Below is a private letter, signed "London, May 10, 1622. H.H." It was not intended to be published, and had it been not, we would not be aware of it today. The person who published this letter, replied to it in a work entitled, "Anabaptist Mystery of Iniquity Unmasked, by J.P. 1623." It was certainly ungenerous that a private letter on a controverted subject should be sent to the press by an opponent, who intended to write against it to unmask the 'iniquity' it contained. The writer states, that the Christians had separated from the established church, wrote many books in defence of their principles, and had multitudes of disciples; that it was their custom to produce a great number of scriptures to prove their doctrines; that they were in appearance more holy than those of the established church; that they dissuaded their disciples from reading the churchmenís books, hearing in their assemblies, or conferring with their learned men. He adds, that they "denied the doctrine of predestination, reprobation, final perseverance, and other truths."
The letter according to Crosby (1738) was written by a person who had recently been converted from the Church of England into a church of Christ in London. I have highlighted 'church of Christ' both times it is used, for the reason that many deny this identity was used in this time period for such churches.
Rumours abounded and the Christian replied, the letter was passed around and ended up being made public. Being a member of the church in this period did frequently result in death in prison.
The English below has been modernised to make reading easier.
1Jo 2:7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
"The ancient love that I have had towards you provoketh me to testify that I have not forgotten you, but an desirous still to shew my unfeigned love to you in any thing I may. I make no question but you have heard divers false reports of me, although among the same some truths; and that you may be truly informed of my state, I thought good to write a few words unto you, hoping that you will not speak evil of that which you know not, nor condemn a man unheard. The thing wherein I differ from the church of England is; they say at their washing or baptizing their infants, that they are members, of Christís holy church, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. This I dare not believe; for the scriptures of God declare, that neither flesh nor the washing of flesh can save. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; for that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and we cannot enter into the kingdom of God except we be born again. They that have prerogative to be the sons of God, must be born of God, even believe in his name; and the washing of the filth of the flesh is not the baptism that saveth, but the answer of a good conscience towards God. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. The consequence of this is, that infants are not to be baptized, nor can they be Christians but such only who confess their faith as the scriptures teach. [Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:5; John 1:12; 3:5; Gal. 6:5; 1 Pet. 3:21] from whence the word church is taken, can witness that it signifieth a people called out; and so the church of Christ is a company called out of their former state wherein they were by nature, out of Babylon, wherein they have been in spiritual bondage to the spiritual antichrist, and from having fellowship in spiritual worship with unbelievers and ungodly men. From all, whosoever cometh, they are fit timber for this spiritual building, which is a habitation of God by the Spirit, and the household of faith. Those who thus come out of natureís Egyptian bondage, and the fellowship of the children of Belial, being new creatures, and so holy brethren, are made Godís house or church, through being knit together by the Spirit of God, and baptized into his body, which is the church. This being undeniably the church of Christ, infants cannot be of it; for they cannot be called out as afore said. Known wicked men cannot be of it, because they are not called out; nor antichristís spiritual bondage cannot be of it, because that is a habitation of devilís, and all Godís people must go out of that. [Acts 2:38,41; 8:12,37; 9:18; 10:47; 16:31; 18:8; 19:3; 1 Cor. 13:13; 2 Cor. 6:4; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 1:22,23; 2:22; Heb. 3:6; 1 Pet. 1:5; Rev. 18:2,4]
"What can be objected against this? Are not all the sons of God by faith? If any be in Christ, or a Christian, must he not be a new creature? I pray you do not take up the usual objection which the antichristians have learned of the Jews; ĎWhat tallest thou us of being made Christians only by faith in the Son, and so being made free? We are the children of Abraham, and of believers, and so are under the promise; I will be the God of thee and of thy seed. Thus are we and our children made free, whereas they neither do nor can believe in the Son.í
"This is the Jewish antichrist fable: for Abraham had two sons, which were types of the two seeds, to which two covenants were made. The one born after the flesh, typing out the fleshly Israelites, which were the inhabitants of material Jerusalem, where was the material temple, and the performance of those carnal rites which endured to the time of reformation. The other by faith typing out the children of the faith of Abraham, which are the inhabitants of the spiritual Jerusalem, the new testament state, in which is the spiritual temple, the church of the living God, and the performance of all those spiritual ordinances which Christ as prophet and king thereof hath appointed, and which remains and cannot be shaken or altered. [Gen. 17; John 8:3; "Rom. 4:8,9; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:26; 4:22; 6:15; Heb. 9:10; 12:23]
"Now if the old covenant be abolished, and all the appertainings thereof, as it is, being the similitude of heavenly things, even the covenant written in the book, the people, the tabernacle or temple, and all the ministering vessels, and a better covenant established upon better promises, and better temple and ministering vessels came instead thereof, procured and purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, who is the new and living way; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, sprinkling our hearts from an evil conscience, and baptized in our bodies with pure water; let us keep this profession of hope without wavering, and have no confidence in the flesh, to reap sanctification or justification thereby; but let us cast it away as dung and dross, for if any might plead privilege of being the child of the faithful, the apostle Paul might, as he saith. (See Phil. 3.) But it was nothing till he had the righteousness of God through faith: then was he baptized into Jesus Christ for the remission of his sins.
"This covenant, which we as the children of Abraham challenge, is the covenant of life and salvation by Jesus Christ, made to all the children of Abraham, as it was made to Abraham himself, to them that believe in him who raised up Jesus the Lord from the dead. As also the children of the flesh are not they: they must be put out, and must not be heirs with the faithful. If they that are of the flesh be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise of none effect. Therefore it is by faith, that it might come of grace, and that the promise might be sure to all the seed that are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all the faithful. They are his children: the promise of salvation is not made with both Abrahamís seeds, but with his own seed, they that are of the faith of Abraham. [Acts 8:26,32,39; Rom. 4:14; 9:8; Gal. 3:7,9,29; 4:30; Eph. 4:28; Hosea 8:18]
"These things may be strange to those who are strangers from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their hearts. God hath written them as the great things of his law, but they are counted by many as a strange thing. Yet wisdom is justified of all her children; and they that set their hearts to seek for wisdom as for silver, and search for her as for treasure, they shall see the righteousness of these things as the light, and the evidence of them as the noon day. They that be wise will try these things by the true touchstone of the holy scriptures, and leave off rejoicing in men to hang their faith and profession on them; the which I fear not to supplicate God day and night on behalf of you all. To whose gracious direction I commit you, with a remembrance of my hearty love to every one; desiring but this favour, that for requital I may receive your loving answer.
"Yours to be commanded always in any children service.
"London, May 10, 1622. H.H."
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