image

[Transcriber’s note: This is a first draft of chapters 1 and 2 of a book that was illegal in England during the reign of Henry VIII. Simon Fish translated it into English and was arrested in 1531 for distribution of the book. He died in prison of bubonic plague within a year of his imprisonment. He never recanted his faith.

I have numbered certain clear doctrinal statements and listed them at the bottom of the page so that the reader may use these places to illuminate the statements made throughout.

It can be clearly seen that those who held to and cherished the teachings written here, believed in the same baptism preached and practiced by the International Christian Church today and not only this but that they were disciples and they were sold out even unto death.

I have transliterated many words to modern English but left some in the Shakespearean English so you get a flavour. For example you will sometimes see the Word ‘us’ spelled with a ‘v’ instead of a ‘u’.]

image

Chapter 1
Of the foundation of Christendom and first whate thinge the baptism dothe signify.

The foundation of Christēdom is the faith whiche so fewe people have perfectly, and yet always we thinke all that we have the very true faiyth. Saint Paul the worthy Apostle doth exhort us to know virtue so strongly as unto the faith. And he in all his epistles prayseth nothinge so moche as the faith. Therfore it must needs be that it be a precious virtue for he wryteth not one epistle which is not full of faith. We take the faith for the beginnynge of christen life: but truely he that hath perfect faith, the same hath not onely begonne the christen life but hath fulfilled it. And this erroure comith because we knowe not whate the faith is nor whate thing a good christian ought to beleve for to be saved. We thinke that when we be baptised  and when we beleve that God is God that then we shall be saved. As writeth. St. Marke saying ‘He that shall believe & shall be baptised shall be saved. But he that beleveth not shall be condemned’. It is truth but among a thousand there is not one that knoweth what thing the baptism betokeneth nor what thing he shall believe.

The water (3) of baptism taketh not away oure sinne for then it were a precious water. And then it behoved us dayly to wash us therein. Nether hath the water of the fountain any more virtue in  itself than the water that rynneth in the river of Rhyne. For we may as well baptise in the Ryne  as in the font. When saint Phillip baptised the Eunuch the servaunt of Candace a queen of Ethiopia (as wryteth saint Luke in the actes of the apostles) there was then no halowed water nor candell  nor salt nor creame nether whyte abite but he baptised him in the first water they came to upon the way. Hereby mayst thou perceive that the virtue of baptism lies not in hallowed water or in other outward things that we have at the font but in the faith only (2). That is to say when any person is baptised he must believe stedfastly that his sins to him are pardoned & that he is made the childe of God and that God is become his father  and is made certain that he shall be saved. And is made parttaker of the passion of Christ whereof the baptism hath his virtue.

And when one is baptysed he is born again (1) and getteth another father and other bretheren for God has made his father and he is made the brother of Jesus Christ: as wryteth Saynt Paule unto the Romans where he calls Christ a son first begotten among others. And therefore is Christ called in the holy scripture the son first begotten for he is the first child of his father and we all are begotten afterward when we be baptised (1). And therfore is the baptism called in the holy scripture the seconde nativity (1). As wryteth saynt John in his gospel ‘without one be born again (sayth Christ vnto Nicodemus) he may not entre into the kyngdome of heven’. For we be therby borne agayn and they that were the children of the devell because of the original sin are made the children of God by baptism (4). As saith Saynt Paule ‘Christ hath healed us by the bath of regeneracyon and renovacyon of the Holy ghost‘ (5)[Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit], And unto the Ephesians  ‘we were by nature the children of wrath: but when we were deed Christ hath viuified us agayn by his greate love’ [Ephesians 2:3-5] And thus shalt thou understand in this manner.

There were sometimes two Adams as writeth saint Paule. The first Adam was our first father. The second and new Adam was Jesus Christ. For the sinne of the olde Adam we were all children of the devil made his own and subjected unto him by oure sin. The second Adam (that is to say Jesus Christ) hath bought us again  and hath put us in liberty and hath made us of the children of death,  children of everlasting life, and of the children of wrath, children of grace: For Jesu Christ hath by his death fought against the devil hath vanquished the devel and deth and hath taken away all theyre ryght they had over us.

Nowe then when we be baptised we be made partakers of this grace  and so is it come to oure proufit that Jesus Christ dyed for us. For (as I have nowe said) the baptism hath his virtue of the deth of Jesus Christ (6). Then when we be baptised  we betoken that we will dye with Christ  we betoken I say that we will die as unto the life passed as touching oure sinnes & evill concupiscences: ād that  as saieth. S. Paule we must walke in a newe lyfe. And therfore be we plonged under the water: to the intent that by the maner of speaking  we shuld be here dead and buried  as wryteth saint Paule vnto the Romans ‘Bretheren sayth he Esteme ye that ye are dead as concerning sin but alyde vnto God: by Jesus Christ our Lord’ . And in the same place: ‘Ye are buryed with Christ by baptesme into deth. So that we shall not lyve after the lyfe of the world nor after the lyfe of the flesshe but we must lyve as the children of God. And oure lyfe shal be hyd befor the world and also hyd with Christ in God’  as wryteth saint Paule saying: ‘If ye be mortified and your life is hyd with Jesus Christ in God in whate time that Jesus Christ oure life shall shewe himself then also shall ye be made manifest with him in glory. Then when oure lord shal come agayn at the last day of iudgemēt oure life shalbe made open: but as long as we lyve here we must lerne all to die. For we shall not repute this life that we have here for a lyfe.’

This life here is of the world and of worldly thinges that is to sey of theym  that be straungers to God that haue no trust of the other life to come. Nether do they look for it nor desyre it. Suche people joy of this world for the world with his vain desires and pleasures belongeth to them. And they themselves be also called the world in the holye scripture. As sayeth oure lord Christ in saint John. ‘You be not of the world but I haue chosen you from the world’. And agayn. The world shall be joyous and you shall be sorry’: Now call we all them worldy whiche be not monkes. Oure lord made a distinction between the world & his disciples before the monkes came into the world. Wherfore they be not called the world in holy scripture which be not mōkes: but all those that live after the flesshe whiche desire not here to die with Jesus Christ and to be hidden here after to live with God. All such whatesoever they be are worldly be he monke or Canon, nun or Sister, nobel or unnoble great or small. For (as I have sayed) the life of them which apperteyn to God is here hid and they seem to be dead before the world. For they live not comunely according to the life of the world. And therfore they be hated of the world for they be not of the world as sayeth the Gospel in this manner. ‘They be not of the world for if they were of the world the world surely wolde love them as his owne. But for as much as they (according to their promise made at the font of baptism) (7) do apply themselves to renounce the pleasures of the world and to dye with Christ in killing of the desires of the flesh and also are strongly against the appetites of the flesh in other by example of their good living therfore be they persecuted of the world.

And hereby may we always know the disciples (8) and children of God: if they
love together the one the other. And y• they lyve not here after the life of the world nor after the pleasure of the flesh  as if they do not repute this life for a life but abide with a joyfull heart the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then shall their life be made open and shall appear before God.

So shuld we all live here as though this life were not our life. For we must abide our life before God and we may do none other thing in this life but fight. Against oure evil desires and learn to die (for as the prophet Job sayeth) the life of man is a battle upon earth that is to say a battle in a goostly deth.* And this do we promise to do when we be baptised and we signifie even ̄ the same when we be plunged under the water (9).

image

Chapter 2
Whate thing the baptism betokeneth and howe it is but a sygne.

Then when we be baptised it behoveth us to know surely and to believe that all our sins to us are pardoned and that we be made the children of God. For God is bycome oure father and Jesus Christ our brother (10). And that same right that Jesus Christ hath vnto the glory of his father have we also gotten for the bretheren have equal right vnto theyre father’s goods. And this haue we not gotten by oure good workes for we have yet done no good: when we were baptised But this comyth wholly by the grace of god and by oure faith by that we put oure holy trust in him  and that we acknowlege him for our Lord and Saviour. And that we believe all that he hath done and suffred for us. for he dyed to make vs to live (6). He became little and poor to make vs greate and ryche. As saith Saint Paule in thys maner ‘ye knowe the liberalite of oure Lord Christ  whiche though he were riche  yet for your sakes became poore: that ye through his povertye might be made ryche for Jesus Christ is wholly given to us of his father  to the intent that he shulde make us great, ryche and happy by his death For we could not helpe ourselves & therfore he was borne for us. As saieth Isaiah ‘A childe is borne to vs.’  For we were all eqally debtors and bound to God by the sinne of Adam.

Then when we coulde not helpe ourselves for as much as we were servants and subjects vnto the devell God hath gyven to us two notable gifts and hath done two thinges for the love that he hath vnto us. First that he hath bought us and made us free from the devill  and from oure Sinner (10). Secondly that he hath made vs his children and heriters of his glorye  and that all without oure deserving. As saide before the prophete. Isaiah saying. ‘The iniquity of Jerusalem (that is to say of the man seeing by faith, peace in Jesus Christ) to him is pardoned  and he hath received of the hand of the Lord God twice as much for all his sins. And the prophet Zechariah saith also.’ Turn you vnto defence  I will give you double as much. In the whiche places these two Prophets say that for our sins for the which we have deserved damnation we have received of God two gifts. And therfore is there issued out of the side of Jesus Christ two fountains that is to say bloud and water. By his blood he hath bought vs agayn from the devell. By the water he hath washed and purged us which were defiled and infected. For to offer vs pure and clean vnto his father. As sayeth Saynt Paule vnto the Ephesyans. He hath given himself for vs an offering  and a sacryfice of a swete savoure to God. And the water of the font doth nowe betoken the water of the syde of Jesus Christ. In this water be we purged and sanctified by our faith (2) to the intent that we shulde come pure and clene before God the father whiche hath received vs for his children  and hath made vs inheritors of his glory with his sonne Jesus Christ oure brother. And this is the grace the whiche comyth to vs and is gyven at the font of baptism (11).

But to the intent that we shulde not be unkinde therfore for this grace we do binde ourselves again and yelde us vnto
him  promysing that we will serve him  & denye the devell & all his temptation  pomp & counsell & that we will serve Christ crucified for vs, and vpon this promyse receive we oure name  & God hath written vs as in a rolle for his Champyons & servants and so be we made propre to God. For he is oure father and we be his children.

This baptism was figured vnto vs when the children of Israell went thorough the red sea out of Egypt & when Pharaoh with all his company was drowned in the sea. The children of Israell went in the sea all as though they had gone into death. But for because they believed vnto Moses  they passed the water by theire fayth. And be (after the maner of speaking) gone out of the death into life, when they hath gotten on the other side on land Pharaoh folowed them and so was drowned with his people. So doth everyone upon the font when he is baptised (12). First he fleeth from Pharaoh when he beginneth for to aknowlege his subjection  and bondage by the which he was subiect and servant vnto the devel and when he desired to be disenfranchised from his sin and from Pharaoh that is the devel, But he may not escape from Pharaoh without passing through the red sea that is to say he may not escape from the devel without he must be baptised (13). And for because that the children of Israel when they saw that Pharaoh followed them believed God  therefore vpon that faith in God they be entred into the sea as though they were gone into death. But by the means of their  faith they have passed the water and are gone as from the death vnto life.

So if any man will escape from the hōldes of the devill it behoveth him to entre into the water. He entreth therin as though he entered into the death for he promyseth that he will dye as concernynge all his evel desires  and that he will here live before the worlde as though he were dead (that is to say) that he will not live as the worlde liveth, but will hyde and cover his life with God. And so enter we by faith into the font (that is to say) by faith we enterpryse to enter into the death not into corporall death  but into the deth of sin no more willing to live in sinne (14). And yet all be it that it seem to vs a pleasaut thing to live in sinne and that we thinke it a hard thing  thus to entre into the sea (that is to say, into this death, we take always courage  and believe & trust in the puyssauce and goodnesse of God and so entre we into the sea (that is to say) into this spiritual death and we enterprise and promise to die as concerning our sins. And as by a steadfast faith and trust we dare begin to entre so giveth God vnto vs grace and streyngth to passe through that sea (that is to say) through this spiritual death and to come on land on the other side (that is) vnto the everlasting life . Pharoah (that is to sey) the devill with oure sins pursue us but they drowne themselves in the water (that is to say) the power of the devill (13) and of all oure sins perish (10) when we entre into the water with suche a faith.

When Pharoah was dead then sang the children of Israell  and thanked God  that they were arrived on land out of the water as out of the death. So likewise must every christian  when out of this water  (that is to say)  out of this spiritual death, he comyth vnto life (that is to say) when he dyeth he shall thanke and praise God because he hath brought him out of suche a daunger vnto the health of everlasting life. But as long as he is yet here in this worlde he shall be in the death that is to say he shall always die spiritually and his life shall be hydden byfore the worlde with God. Here mayst thou well see how that oure baptism is signified by the red sea as writeth saynt Paule vnto the Corinthyans saying ‘Oure fathers were all under a cloud and did passe the sea all and were all baptyzed in Moses, in the clowde and in the sea and they all did eate one spiritual meate and they all dyd drynke one spirituell drynke’ . So seest thou well whate thing signifieth the baptism and whate thing we promyse in the same.

Now: to the intent that we should be always remembering of this that we have promysed we be marked with a cross and with the water. The faith that we have at the baptism taketh away our sins (2) and the water is nothing but a signe or token wher with we be marked that we must be vnder the standard that is to sey vnder the crosse of Jesus Christ and valiantly fight. As the Jews had the token of the circumcision wherby men might knowe whether they were Jews or pagans. And as when the servants of the Lords bear the badge of their Lords one may therby knowe whose servants they be. So likewise receive we the signe of baptism at the font by the whiche we gyve knowlege that Christ is oure Lord.

Secondly, the baptism of the water is also a sygne of the grace of God. wherby God maketh us sure  that we shall enioy hys grace and mercy  and that he pardoneth us our synnes and maketh us hys chyldren. Here upon gyveth he to us the token of Baptism for a gage to the intent that we shulde be sure that he wyll not forsake us in our battle and death which we lead here in our evil desires and sins. And that he will surely give to us the everlasting life. And to the intent then that we should enterprise by a stedfast constance to fight  being assured and certain that God will never forsake us for we haue received of him a gage, the token of baptism. And if it happen that we miss sometime in the red sea (that is to say) in the enterprise of oure battle and that we doubt or that our battle seems to us over hard and bitter we shall beholde oure sign and gage whiche we haue received of God whereby he hath promised us that we be his children and that he wil not forsake vs.

So say I then that by pure faith all oure sinnes be to vs pardoned and that we be the children of god  and that we belong to God and that God shall show over us his mercy. Here upon receive we a gage, that is the signe of baptism to thīnkith that as often as we have regard vnto this sign we should be mindful of the grace and mercy that God hath done vnto vs & that we belong to God and that we be the chilren of God.
Beholde nowe thou seest well what things the baptism betokeneth & it is all one byfore God if thou be 80 year old or twenty year olde when thou received the baptism for God regardeth not how old thou art but with what purpose and intention  and with whate faith thou received this baptism and grace (2) (11). He regardeth not whether thou be Jew or pagan, man or woman, noble or unnoble bisope or citizen. But alonely he that with a perfect faith and trust comyth vnto God he maketh violence vnto the everlasting life & getteth it as promyseth Jesus Christ into the gospel.

———————

image

Points to be taken from the doctrinal  teaching in this book.

(1) Baptism is when the participant is born again.
(2) Baptism saves because of the Faith of the participant.
(3) It is not the water that saves.
(4) Baptism is when we become a child of God.
(5) We are made a child of God by receiving the Holy Spirit at baptism.
(6) Baptism saves because of the death of Jesus.
(7) Baptism is a promise.
(8) Those who know they are disciples are baptised.
(9) When we go under the water we die to sin.
(10) Baptism is when our sins are forgiven.
(11) Baptism is when we receive the grace of God which is to become His children.
(12) Baptism is when we pass from death to life.
(13) Baptism is how we escape from the Devil.
(14) Baptism is when we die to sin.

image

[Transcriber’s note: it is my belief that the writer may have used the word ‘sign’ relating to baptism in order to rebut the theology of protestant reformers who taught that baptism was a sign and that it was not the point of salvation. The writer is very careful not to say that baptism is only a symbol. I believe he titles the second chapter ‘how it is but a sign’ as a literary device meaning,  I will show you how it is a sign and in so doing limit you in your saying ‘it is only a sign”. The reason I believe this, is that this is of course, what the writer proceeds to go about doing. He attributes salvation to the point of baptism very clearly saying it was the point at which one’s sins were forgiven,  the point one was born again, became a child of God and received the grace of God and the Holy Spirit.]

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: