The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 2


III. 20,000 Baptists Declare “Faith” in Confession of 1660

Around 1549 many Anabaptists fled from Germany to England, some of them holding variant views on the Godhead, thus bringing considerable censure on all Anabaptists. A commission was set up to “search after” and examine all Anabaptists and other “heretics,” with power to “excommunicate, imprison, and deliver them over to the secular arm.” 18 By 1644 there were no less than forty-seven Baptist congregations in England, with at least seven in London. 19 Many among these held that immortality is not man’s inherently, but is to be bestowed at the resurrection, and that man sleeps in death until the resurrection. Several of these Anabaptists—or Baptists, as they really were—were likewise burned for their faith under the common law of England. CFF2 138.3

In 1644 these Anabaptists, or Baptists, issued several Confessions of Faith, the most “notable” being published in 1660 and presented to Charles II in printed broadside form (twelve by fifteen inches). This document was titled “A Brief Confession or Declaration of Faith.” 20 It states solemnly that it is “Set forth by many of us, who are (falsely) 21 called Ana-Baptists, to inform all men (in these days of scandal and reproach) of our Innocent Beleef and Practise; for which wee are not only resolved to Suffer Persecution, to the losse of our Goods, but also Life it Self, rather than to decline the same.” CFF2 138.4

Then follow twenty-five articles, which are “Subscribed by certain Elders, Deacons, and Brethren, met at London,” adopted in March, 1660, “in behalf of themselves, and many others unto whom they belong”—both in London and in several counties of England—“who are of the same Faith with us.” The Confession, signed by forty-one signatories, is followed by the highly informative statement that it is “owned and approved by more than 20000.” In the publisher’s line at the bottom is the statement that it was printed in London “for Francis Smith,” one of the signatories and their representative. And still more illuminating is the fact that the more detailed and explicit views of another signatory, Matthew Caffyn, or Caffen (presented in the next section), help to define the views here set forth in the more general terms of this over-all declaration, designed as a covering statement to which all subscribed. CFF2 139.1


Article I declares belief in “God the Father, of whom are all things, from everlasting to everlasting.” Bypassing Article II for the moment, let us note that Article III specifically affirms belief in Jesus Christ, “by whom are all things, who is the only begotten Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary; yet as truly Davids Lord, and Davids root, as Davids Son, and Davids Off-spring,” giving “himself a ransom for all, 1 Timothy 2:5, 6, tasting death for every man, Hebrews 2:9, a propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2.” 22 CFF2 139.2

Then follow articles that are typically Baptist—the love and grace of God for all men, justification by faith, the operation of the Holy Spirit (clearly Trinitarian), baptism of regenerated adults by immersion, not sprinkling of infants, assembly for the Lord’s Supper, the Christian ministry, separation for all heresy, poor members of the church of Christ supported by the church, the resurrection, the second personal advent of Christ, the Holy Scriptures as the rule of faith and practice, liberty of conscience and worship, and separation of Church and state. This they believed to be the “apostolical way.” And they denied all disloyalty to the crown, which attitude they do “utterly abhor, and abominate.” CFF2 140.1


But scattered among the twenty-five are Articles II, XX, XXI, and XXII, bearing upon the nature and destiny of man. Because of their importance they are here quoted verbatim, in the original form of the 1660 Confession. Article II declares that from man’s original sinless state, by “transgression” he fell into a “mortall estate, subject unto the first death.” Thus: CFF2 140.2

“II. That God in the beginning made man upright, and put him into a state and condition of Glory, without the least mixture of misery, from which hee by transgression fell, and so came into a miserable and mortall estate, subject unto the first death, Genesis 1:31. Ecclesiastes 7:29. Genesis 2:17. Genesis 3:17, 18, 19.” CFF2 140.3

Next, Article XX states that through Christ, at the resurrection, our “bodies” are to be raised incorruptible from their graves and “united again to their spirits,” thenceforth to reign with Christ: CFF2 140.4

“XX. That there shall bee (through Christ who was dead, but is alive again from the dead) a Resurrection of all men from the graves of the Earth, Isaiah 26:19. both the just and the unjust, Acts 24:15. that is, the fleshly bodies of men, sown into the graves of the Earth, corruptible, dishonourable, weak, natural (which so considered cannot inherit the Kingdome of God) shall bee raised again, incorruptable, in glory, in power, spirituall, and so considered, the bodies of the Saints (united again to their spirits) which here suffer for Christ, shall inherit the Kingdom, reigning together with Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:21, 23, 42, 44, 49.” CFF2 140.5

Further, it is maintained that the rewards both for good and evil follow—and do not precede—the “eternall judgement” occurring at the future Second Advent: CFF2 141.1

“XXI. That there shall bee after the Resurrection from the graves of the Earth, An eternall judgement, at the appearing of Christ, and his Kingdom, 2 Timothy 4:1. Hebrews 9:27. at which time of judgement, which is unalterable, and irrevocable, every man shall receive according to the things done in his body, 2 Corinthians 5:10.” CFF2 141.2

And finally, Article XXII says that (1) not until the second, personal advent of Christ do the saints enter the eternal kingdom of righteousness, and (2) the wicked “perish for ever,” and men say “Where is hee?” This follows in full, for the record: CFF2 141.3

“XXII. That the same Lord Jesus, who shewed himself alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs, Acts 1:3. which was taken up from the Disciples, and carryed up into Heaven, Luke 24:51. Shall so come in like manner as hee was seen go into Heaven, Acts 1:9, 10, 11. And when Christ who is our life shall appear, wee shall also appear with him in glory, Colossians 3:4. For then shall hee bee King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, Revelation 19:16. for the Kingdom is his, and hee is the Governour among the Nations, Psalm 22:28. And King over all the Earth, Zechariah 14:9. And wee shall reign (with him) on the Earth, Revelation 5:10 the Kingdoms of this world (which men so mightily strive after here to enjoy) shall become the Kingdoms of our Lord, and his Christ, Revelation 11:15. for all is yours, (O yee that overcome this world) for yee are Christs, and Christ is Gods, 1 Corinthians 3:22, 23. For unto the Saints shall bee given the Kingdome, and the greatnesse of the Kingdom, under (mark that) the whole Heaven, Daniel 7:27. Though (alasse) now many men bee scarce content that the Saints should have so much as a being among them; But when Christ shall appear, then shall be their day, then shall bee given unto them power over the Nations, to rule them with a Rod of Iron, Revelation 2:26, 27. then shall they receive a Crown of life, which no man shall take from them, nor they by any means turned, or overturned from it, for the oppressor shall bee broken in peeces, Psalm 72:4 and their now vain rejoycings turned into mourning, and bitter Lamentations, as it is written Job 20:5, 6, 7. The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the Hypocrite but for a moment; though his Excellency mount up to the Heavens, and his head reach unto the clouds, yet shall hee perish for ever, like his own dung; they which have seen him, shall say, where is hee?” (Italics as in original.) CFF2 141.4

These expressions of belief, here quoted at length, are to be read in the light of Mosheim’s statement that already in the sixteenth century General Baptists were dispersed in large numbers over many provinces of England, holding as an article of faith that “the soul, between death and the resurrection at the last day, has neither pleasure nor pain, but is in a state of insensibility.” 23 The conclusion therefore seems incontrovertible that these carefully phrased articles were subscribed to by many who definitely held to Conditional Immortality, the sleep of the soul in the interim between death and the resurrection, the crown of life and the kingdom to be given to the righteous at the Second Advent, with the wicked destroyed forever and passing out of being. This was the view in 1660 of many General Baptists in England. CFF2 141.5