The Petty France Church (Part 2)

The Petty France Church (Part 2)

I am pleased to announce the release of my latest work, The Petty France Church (Part 2). Three years ago, almost exactly, I published Part 1 of my historical investigations of this Particular Baptist church in London. That volume was dedicated primarily to tracing the locations of the church’s meetings, to biographical chapters on Nehemiah Coxe and his family, and to a complete transcription of the Petty France Church Book. This new work focuses on the founder of the Petty France Church, Edward Harrison (1619-1673), and his extended family, many of whom were members in the Petty France Church (Collets, Popes, Greens, Whites, Lockes, Grainges, Smiths, Buttals, and more).

Whereas a third of my first work on the Petty France Church was dedicated to the transcription of the Church Book, the entirety of this volume is biographical and historical in nature, though it contains transcriptions of relevant documents throughout. The result is a much larger and longer presentation of on-the-ground Particular Baptist history from the late 16th century to the end of the 18th century.

A book such as this one is designed not only to inform readers about Baptist history, but also to show what is possible. Baptist history is not a dead field, trapped in an echo chamber of infinitely recycled secondary sources. No, diligent ressourcement (or “resourcery” as I like to call it), demonstrates that there is a wealth of information yet to be discovered, which either confirms or corrects previous (and often long-held) assertions in historiography, written either by Baptists or about Baptists.

In twelve chapters, totaling 500 pages, spanning 200 years of history, genealogy, and theology, drawn from extensive research in primary sources, and presented with 75 images (including charts and maps), 14 family trees, 4 appendices, and other aids (such as a complete index), The Petty France Church (Part 2) connects the reader to the lives of the members and families of the Petty France Church.

I hope you enjoy reading The Petty France Church (Part 2) as much as I enjoyed the years of research and writing that produced it.

Announcing: Crux, Mors, Inferi: A Primer and Reader on the Descent of Christ

I am pleased to announce my new book entitled Crux, Mors, Inferi: A Primer and Reader on the Descent of Christ.

Where was Christ’s soul between his death and resurrection? As its title suggests, Crux, Mors, Inferi (Cross, Death, Underworld) addresses that question. The first half of the book is a primer, comprised of five chapters presenting an exegetical argument for the descent of Christ to Sheol. The second half dedicates four chapters to historical theology, investigating the place of the descent in the Protestant tradition, especially the major influences and branches of the Reformed churches. The majority of this second half is a reader of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century sources relating to the descent. These sources represent a variety of views in dialogue with one another, including Lutherans, Reformed, the Church of England, and even Particular Baptists.

Two appendices and a Scripture Index complete the contents of the book, totaling 230 pages.

You can purchase it in three formats (Paperback, Hardcover, or Kindle eBook), here.

The talented artist who designed the cover is Benjamin Aho.

Willingly Embracing a “Dark Providence”

Willingly Embracing a “Dark Providence”

In a recent research trip, I read and enjoyed this letter from one Independent congregation to another. Perhaps you will enjoy it, too.

“31 July, 1732

The church of Christ at Stainton to the church of Christ in Limestreet in London, sendeth greeting.

Whereas you have been pleased to call the Reverend Mr. John Atkinson, our Pastor, to the office of a teaching elder amongst you, and he hath accepted that your call, we beg leave to tell you in all humility, that we fear our loss in his removal will not easily be made up. It appears to us a dark providence, oh that the Lord in his abundant goodness would brighten it up to us.

The soundness of his doctrine, and the inoffensiveness of his life, hath not only been instructive and directive unto us, but also hath given a check to the erroneous and profane around us. However, being persuaded that he hath a prospect of being much more serviceable in his Master’s work among you, than he could be here with us, we do at your desire dismiss the said Mr. John Atkinson from being a member with us, unto you the church of Christ in Limestreet London, and do heartily recommend him to that special blessing of the Lord, and sincerely wish him much success amongst you. May you be a mutual blessing to one another.

And seeing we have thus denied ourselves, to serve our Redeemer’s interest among you, we hope you will affectionately remember us at the throne of grace, and be helpful to us in our deficiency to support the gospel amongst us.

We have fixed upon a minister, that we hope is likely to preach the truths of the gospel unto us, and to adorn them with an holy life and conversation. His name is Mr. John Kirkpatrick, a Schoolman. He is to come to us in a little time. We humbly desire you would please to stand up for us at the congregational fund, and allow us, if you think fit, something besides from your own stock. Whatever it is, we will be thankful. We remain your brethren in Christ.”

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.