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360 – This Day In Baptist History Past

December 26, 1646 – The Presbyterian Parliament in England under Cromwell passed an ordinance that called for severe penalties against anyone who would “preach or expound the scriptures in any church, or any other public place, except they may be ordained, either here or some other reformed church, as it is already prohibited in both houses of the 26th of April, 1645, and likewise against all such ministers, or others, as shall publish or maintain, by preaching, or writing or any other way, anything against, or in derogation of church government which is now established by authority of both houses of parliament.” It went on to tell how the authorities were to enforce and punish the offenders. The persecutions were directed mainly against the Baptists because they denied the necessity of infant baptism. Almost every prominent Baptist preacher was sooner or later committed to prison. The troubled times of the civil war gave the Baptists in England an opportunity for real growth. Robert Baillie, one of their enemies said, “…they have increased their number above all sects in the land. They have 46 churches in and about London. They are a people very fond of religious liberty, and very unwilling to be brought under bondage of the judgment of any other.” The Baptists joined in great numbers to Cromwell’s army. Many officers were accustomed to preaching, and both commanders and privates were continually searching the scriptures and praying in meetings. Because of this, many more became Baptists. One of the distinguished leaders, Major General Harrison was a Baptist. Cromwell had him thrown into prison when Harrison became disenchanted with Cromwell’s commitment to liberty. Baptists soon realized that the Parliamentary Party was not a real friend to the Baptists.

Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 541-42.

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