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not perish, but have everlasting life: and that God sent his Son into the world, to seek and to save that which was lost, believing that he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God through a crucified Redeemer, who tasted death for every man, and was manifested to destroy the works of the devil. And although it has herein been testified, that they hold general redemption as a doctrine, still it is not preached among them in general, as an article of faith. It has probably been held forth by those who felt themselves, as it were, lost in the love of God; and, perhaps, on this account, they have been charged with holding the sentiments of the Universalists, which they all deny. They conceive it their duty to declare the whole counsel of God, and therefore they feel themselves bound to proclaim his threatenings and his judgments against the wicked and ungodly; yet in accordance with their general principles, which are Love and Good Will, they are more frequently led to speak of the love and goodness of God towards the children of men.
BAPTISTS, SEVENTH DAY, GERMAN.
BY WILLIAM M. FAHNESTOCK, M. D.,
BORDENTOWN, N. J.
About the year 1694, a controversy arose in the Protestant churches of Germany and Holland, in which vigorous attempts were made to reform some of the errors of the church, and with the design of promoting a more practical, vital religion. This party, at the head of which was the pious Spener, ecclesiastical superintendent of the court of Saxony, was opposed, violently, and after having bestowed upon them, in ridicule, the epithet of Pietists, they were suppressed in their public ministrations and lectures, by the Consistory of Wittemberg. Notwithstanding they were prohibited from promulgating, publicly, their views and principles, it led to inquiry among the people. This state of things continuing, many learned men of different universities left Europe and emigrated to America, whilst others remained and persevered in the prosecution of the work they had commenced with so much diligence. In the year 1708, Alexander Mack, of Schriesheim, and seven others in Schwartzenau, Germany, met together, regularly, to examine carefully and impartially, the doctrines of the New Testament, and to ascertain what are the obligations it imposes on professing Christians; determining to lay aside all preconceived opinions and traditional observances. The result of their inquiries terminated in the formation of the society now called the Dunkers, or First Day German Baptists. Meeting with much persecution as they grew into some importance, as all did who had independence enough to differ from the popular church, some were driven into Holland, some to Crefelt in the Duchy of Cleves, and the mother church voluntarily removed to Serustervin, in Friesland; and from thence emigrated to America in 1719, and dispersed to different parts of Pennsylvania, to Germantown, Skippack, Oley, Conestoga, and elsewhere. They formed a church at Germantown in 1723, under the charge of Peter Becker. The church grew rapidly in this country, receiving members from the banks of the Wissahiccon and from Lancaster county, and soon after a church was established at Muehlbach, (Mill creek,) in that county. Of this community was one Conrad Beissel, a native of Germany. He had been a Presbyterian, and fled from the persecutions of that period. Wholly intent upon seeking out the true obligations of the word of God, and the proper observance of the rites and ceremonies it imposes, stripped of human authority, he conceived that there was an error among the Dunkers, in the observance of the day for the sabbath-that the seventh day was the command of the Lord God, and that day being established and sanctified, by the Great Jehovah, for ever, and no change, nor authority for change ever having been announced to man, by any power sufficient to set aside the solemn decree of the Almighty -a decree which he declared that he had sanctified for ever,-he felt it to be his duty to contend for the observance of that day. About the year 1725, he published a tract entering into a discussion of this point, which created some excitement and disturbance in the Society at Mill Creek; upon which he retired from the settlement, and went secretly to a cell on the banks of the Cocalico, (in the same county) which had previously been occupied by one Elimelich, a hermit. His place of retirement was unknown for a long time to the people he had left, and when discovered, many of the Society at Mill Creek, who had become convinced of the truth of his proposition for the observance of the sabbath, settled around him in solitary cottages. They adopted the original sabbath—the seventh day-for public worship, in the year 1728; which has ever since been observed by their descendants, even unto the present day.
In the year 1732, the solitary life was changed into a conventicle one, and a Monastic Society was established as soon as the first buildings erected for the purpose were finished — May, 1733,-constituting, with the buildings subsequently erected by the community, the irregular, enclosed village of Ephrata. The habit of the Capuchins, or White Friars, was adopted by both the brethren and sisters; which consisted of a shirt, trowsers, and vest, with a long white gown and cowl, of woollen web in winter, and linen in summer. That of the sisters differed only in the substitution of petticoats for trowsers, and some little peculiarity in the shape of the cowl. Monastic names were given to all who entered the cloister. Onesimus (Israel Eckerlin) was constituted Prior, who was succeeded by Jæbez, (Peter Miller,) and the title of Father-spiritual father-was bestowed by the Society, upon Beissel, whose monastic name was Friedsam; to which the brethren afterwards added Gottrecht-implying, together, Peaceable God-right. In the year 1740, there were thirty-six single brethren in the cloister, and thirty-five sisters; and at one time, the Society, including the members living in the neighbourhood, numbered nearly three hundred.
The community was a republic, in which all stood upon perfect equality and freedom. No monastic vows were taken, neither had they any written covenant, as is common in the Baptist churches. The New Testament was their confession of faith, their code of laws, and their church discipline. The property which belonged to the Society, by donation, and the labour of the single brethren and sisters, was common stock; but none were obliged to throw in their own property, or give up any of their possessions. The Society was supported by the income of the farm, grist mill, paper mill, oil mill, fulling mill, and the labour of the brethren and sisters in the cloister.
The principles of the Seventh Day Baptist Society of Ephrata, but little understood, generally, and much misrepresented abroad, may be summed up in a few words, viz.:
1. They receive the Bible as the only rule of faith, covenant, and code of laws for church government. They do not admit the least license with the letter and spirit of the Scriptures, and especially the New Testament—do not allow one jot or tittle to be added or rejected in the administration of the ordinances, but practise them precisely as they are instituted and made an example by Jesus Christ in his word.
2. They believe in the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the trinity of the Godhead; having unfurled this distinctive banner on the first
page of a hymn book which they had printed for the Society as early as 1739, viz. : “ There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one."
3. They believe that salvation is of grace, and not of works; and they rely solely on the merits and atonement of Christ. They believe, also, that that atonement is sufficient for every creature—that Christ died for all who will call upon his name, and offer fruits meet for repentance; and that all who come unto Christ are drawn of the Father.
4. They contend for the observance of the original Sabbath, believing that it requires an authority equal to the Great Institutor to change any of his decrees. They maintain that, as he blessed and sanctified that day for ever, which has never been abrogated in his word, nor any Scripture to be found to warrant that construction, it is still as binding as it was when it was reiterated amid the thunders of Mount Sinai. To alter so positive and hallowed a commandment of the Almighty, they consider would require an explicit edict from the Great Jehovah. It was not foretold by any of the prophets, that with the new dispensation there would be any change in the sabbath, or any of the commandments. Christ, who declared himself the Lord of the Sabbath, observed the seventh day, and made it the day of his especial ministrations; nor did he authorize any change. The Apostles have not assumed to do away the original sabbath, or give any command to substitute the first for the seventh day. The circumstance of the disciples meeting together to break bread on the first day, which is sometimes used as a pretext for observing that day, is simply what the seventh day people do at this day. The sacrament was not administered by Christ nor by the Apostles on the sabbath, but on the first day, counting as the people of Ephrata still do, the evening and the morning to make the day.
5. They hold to the apostolic baptism-believers' baptism-and administer trine immersion, with the laying on of hands and prayer, while the recipient yet remains kneeling in the water.
6. They celebrate the Lord's Supper at night, in imitation of our Saviour ;-washing at the same time each other's feet, agreeably to his command and example, as is expressly stated in the 13th chapter of the Evangelist John, 14th and 15th verses. This is attended to on the evening after the close of the sabbath-the sabbath terminating at sunset of the seventh day; thus making the supper an imitation of that instituted by Christ, and resembling also the meeting of the Apostles on the first day to break bread, which has produced much confusion in some minds in regard to the proper day to be observed.
Celibacy they consider a virtue, but never require it, nor do they take any vows in reference to it. They never prohibited marriage and lawful intercourse, between the sexes, as is stated by some writers, but when two concluded to be joined in wedlock, they were aided by the Society. It (celibacy) was urged as being more conducive to a holy life, for Paul saith : “ They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh: but they that are after the spirit, the things of the spirit.” And again : “ He that is unmarried, careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord ; but he that is married careth for the things of the world, how he may please his wife. There is this difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried women careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy, both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband ;-I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.” And they also consider that those who sacrifice