Jeremiah Marsden’s Characterizations of Dissenters in 1683

We interrupt our regular programming (of nothingness) to bring you a portion from¬†Jeremiah Marsden, alias Zacharias Ralphson, An Apology for God’s Worship and Worshipers (London: n.p., 1683), 229-231.¬†You can see a short description of his life, here.

Marsden’s treatise advocates freedom of worship for dissenters of all kinds. My interest is in his description of Presbyterians, Independents, and especially of the Particular Baptists. Marsden knew the Particular Baptists well, being invited to pastor at the Broadmead Bristol church, and being imprisoned with Hercules Collins and Francis Bampfield in 1683. Bampfield’s and Marsden’s deaths in prison were the impetus behind Collins’ publication of Counsel for the Living, Occasioned from the Dead. Marsden was buried in Bunhill Fields with around 5,000 in attendance at his funeral.

Marsden, An Apology, 229-1Marsden, An Apology, 229-230Marsden, An Apology, 230-231Marsden, An Apology, 231

Items of note, regarding the Particular Baptists:

  1. Marsden splits the Anabaptists between those who hold free will and those who do not. This is the standard General/Particular division.
  2. Marsden acknowledges that there is significant doctrinal overlap between the Particular Baptists, the Independents, and the Presbyterians.
  3. Marsden uses the label “partial historians” to refer to those who attach an “odium” to the Particular Baptists by connecting them to continental Anabaptists.

Marsden was prone to extremes himself, being connected with the 5th Monarchy movement. But his comments offer interesting characterizations of these groups. The Presbyterians want to be Anglicans, if only the Anglicans would let them (let the reader understand). The Independents want to be left alone. The Particular Baptists want to be known on their own terms, doctrinally and practically, rather than being viewed through the lens of a false genealogy.

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