AN HISTORICAL PRESENTATION OF THE ORIGIN OF BAPTISTS OR MENNONITES
“This is My Beloved Son: hear Him!”— Luke 9:35.
As Jesus, the Saviour of the world and founder of the Christian religion, wanted to start His teaching among the Jews, He let Himself be baptised beforehand in the Jordan by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13) and (Matthew 4:17), and Jesus began to preach and say: Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand; and Matthew 5:34-45: But I say unto you, Swear not at all, neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne, nor by the earth for it is His footstool; neither by Jerusalem for it is the city of a great King. Neither shalt thou swear by the head because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. Ye have heard that it hath been said An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said. Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.
And Matthew 22:37:39—Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. The second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. He also commanded his disciples, after His resurrection from the dead (Math. 28:19) to go forth and teach all nations and baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
The above commandments were obediently observed by the Apostles and the rest of Christ’s followers. They kept to the teachings and commandments of Jesus. They preached against war and taking oaths, and did not baptize any person before he was instructed in the teachings of Christ and had acknowledged his faith in Jesus of his own accord. First they taught and then they baptized.
Many Jews and heathens have, through the preaching of the gospel adopted the saving faith of Jesus Christ, and were first called Christians at Antioch, as an assembled church (Acts 11:26).
The gospel teachings of the Christians were spread far into Asia, Africa and Europe. Notwithstanding that these defenceless Christians were condemned to death by the heathen because of their faith, they did multiply and in great numbers they bloomed like roses among thorns.
During the first two hundred years it cannot be found in the works of any trustworthy writers that any one may have departed from the foundation of the true teachings of Jesus.
However, in the third century, men came forth who started infant baptism. But, this was adopted only by a few.
The very wise and popular Tertullian, about the year 204, spoke against too early baptism and strongly maintained the baptismal ordinance of Christ. Notwithstanding, it was impossible for the God-fearing and zealous teachers to keep the Christians in one mind and one opinion according to the earnest advice of Paul (1 Cor. 10:1). For, at the time of Cyprian, about in the year 250, it was resolved at a meeting in Carthage, that children should be baptised directly. This resolution was not generally obeyed and many Christians put faith in Jesus first, and therefore baptised only adults and not children. They also objected to the taking of oaths and partaking in war. The hatred of their opponents grew continually, so that in Rome, in the year 470 it was resolved at a meeting to condemn, banish, and in short, to treat them as heretics! Although this now indeed was a terrible law, yet they could not decide to deny Jesus, to depart from his teachings, and to seek the friendship of the world. On the contrary, they preferred, according to the will of God and His ordinance to suffer a martyr’s death like defenceless sheep and many of them sealed their confession of faith with their blood.