By Steve Weaver
In the forthcoming 9Marks journal titled Vanishing Church?, Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin has an article offering lessons from the 17th-century English Particular Baptists. The article went live today on the 9Marks website. The article is titled “400-Year-Old Lessons from English Baptists and Persecution” and focuses on the experiences of three individuals: John Bunyan (1628–1688), William Mitchel (1662-1705), and Abraham Cheare (d. 1668). The subject of persecution is a vital one for the church today as Haykin summarizes:
There are countless lessons we can learn from saints long-dead, particularly should our times increasingly approximate theirs. Like Paul speaking of Old Testament Israel to the church at Corinth: “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11). He says something similar to the Christians in Rome: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
So it is with our 17th-century English Baptist brethren. They were determined to obey God where God had spoken clearly no matter the cost; they recognized that suffering is a means that God uses to sanctify us; they were conscious that no persecutor is ever able to hurt physically any of God’s children without divine sovereign permission; and they were aware that suffering for Christ’s sake is a means of bringing glory to their great Savior. For all of these reasons, they would have regarded persecution and even martyrdom as a gift to the Church.
Steve Weaver serves as a research assistant to the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and a fellow of the Center. He also serves as senior pastor of Farmdale Baptist Church in Frankfort, KY. Steve and his wife Gretta have six children between the ages of 3 and 15. You can read more from Steve at his personal website: Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian.