A Handbook of Church History
QR Code
A Handbook of Church History

Chapter VII:

Sabbath Keepers in America!

   The Seventh Day Baptists in America date from about the same period that their brethren in England began to organize regular churches. [But not when they became a denomination. So they came over here at least at the same time churches began to be organized in England.]
   Mr. Stephen Mumford was one of the earliest among them. He came from England to Newport, Rhode Island in 1664 and "brought with him the opinion that the ten commandments as they were delivered from Mount Sinai were moral and immutable and that it was an anti-Christian power which changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week.
   He associated much with the First Day Baptist church in Newport and soon won several members of that church to his views. They continued to walk with the church however, for a time until difficulty arose and consequence of the hard things which were said of them by their brethren such as that the ten commandments being given to the Jews were not binding upon the Gentiles and that those who observed the seventh day were gone from Christ to Moses. Stephen Mumford, William Hiscox, Samuel Hubbard, Roger Baster and three sisters entered into church covenant, forming the first Seventh Day Baptist church in America.
   Notice the number who began the true church in America seven adult members. Did they form the first "Seventh Day Baptist" church in America? The name didn't even exist until 1818. This was the beginning of what became the first Seventh Day Baptist church later, but was then known as the Church of God!
   William Hiscox was chosen and ordained their pastor, which office he filled until his death in 1704 at the age of sixty-six years. He was succeeded by William Gibson, a minister from London.
   The minister was supplied from the mother church. The original founder, Stephen Mumford, came from England and then the man who took the first church, Hiscox, and then the next minister was supplied from London.
   He continued to labour among them until he died in 1717 at the age of seventy-nine years. Joseph Crandall had been his colleague for two years and was selected to succeed him. When he died in 1737, John Maxson was chosen pastor in 1754 and discharged the duties of the office until 1778.
   He was followed by William Bliss who served the church as pastor until his death in 1818 at the age of eighty-one years.
   Henry Burdick succeeded him in the pastoral office and occupied that post until a few years ago when he died. Besides the regular pastor this church has ordained several ministers from time to time who have labored with great usefulness both at home and abroad. It has also included among its members several distinguished characters, one of whom, Richard Ward, governor of the state of Rhode Island, is well-known to history.

The Rogers Family

   In the close of the year 1674, the family of Mr. James Rogers of New London called Mr. Crandall from Westerly who preached among them and baptized his sons, John and James Rogers and an Indian named Japheth. This somewhat offended the Presbyterians and Mr. Bradstreet, minister at New London, said he hoped the court would take a course with him next time. They sent to Newport and Elder Hiscox, Mr. Hubbard, and his son, Clark, were sent to visit them in March 1675, when Johnathan Rogers was also baptized, and all four of them were received as members of the church by prayer and laying on of hands, whereupon John Rogers' father-in-law took his wife and children and upon her complaints against him, he was carried before their deputy governor and committed to Hartford from whence he wrote to Mr. Hubbard on April 6, 1675.
   [So, after John Rogers was baptized, his father-in-law took away his wife and his children, threw him in jail, where he stayed for a while.]
   September, 1676, these four members went with a boat and brought Elder Hiscox and Mr. Hubbard to New London again when old Mr. Rogers, his wife and daughters were all baptized and received into the church. Because of this, they were called before the magistrate, but were soon released. From that time, they began to imprison the Rogers for working on the first day of the week. Mr. Hubbard and Mr. Hiscox visited with them again and held worship with them two miles out of town on their Sabbath, November 23, 1677.
   Joseph Rogers' wife had next morning given them a satisfying account of her experience. John must have been brought to town to baptize her there.
   While Mr. Hiscox was preaching at town, the constable came and took him. They all went before the magistrate. The minister, Mr. Bradstreet, had much to say about the good way their fathers had set up upon. Mr. Hubbard obtained leave to speak and said, "You are a young man, but I am an old planter of about forty years, a beginner of Connecticut. I have been persecuted for my conscience from this colony, and I can assure you that the old beginners were not for persecution. We had liberty at first."
   After this discourse, the magistrate said, "Could you do it elsewhere?"
   "A good answer," said Mr. Hubbard; and so they were released. They went to Samuel Rogers' house where his brother, John, put himself forward, prayed, and then went out to the water and baptized his sister. Upon this, Mr. Hiscox was seized again as supposing he had done it. But John came before the magistrate and was forward to make known his act therein. So the others were released and returned home. [A man baptized his own sister, which was acceptable.]

Divine Healing!

   Johnathan Rogers had married Naomi Burdick, granddaughter of Mr. Hubbard and on March 2, 1678 Elder Hiscox baptized her at Westerly together with James Babcock, George Lamfear and two others. On May 5 following, Joseph Clark wrote from thence to his father-in-law, Hubbard, that John and James with their father were in prison, having previously excommunicated Johnathan chiefly because he didn't retain their judgment of the unlawfulness of using medicine, nor accuse himself before authority for working on the first day of the week. [He wouldn't stand right up and say, "Yes, sir, I worked on the first day of the week." He wouldn't accuse himself. He pleaded the Fifth Amendment, or whatever they called it then.] [A picture of their church there reveals no cross, no steeples, no peculiarly shaped windows, same old rectangular ones, with a smoke stack out the top.]
   This church had a succession of worthy pastors who became very numerous and built three meeting houses for the accommodation of the members in the different neighborhoods. At present, there are seven churches in Rhode Island and two in Connecticut all in a healthy condition. The first Seventh Day Baptist church in New Jersey was formed in Pascataway, about thirty miles from the city of New York in 1705. The circumstance from which it originated is somewhat singular and noteworthy.
   About 1701, one Edmund Dunham, a member of the old first day church in that town admonished one Bonham who was doing some servile work on Sunday. Bonham put him on proving that the first day of the week was holy by divine appointment. This set Dunham to examining the point. The consequence was that he rejected the first day and received the fourth commandment as moral and therefore unchangeable.
   In a short time, seventeen of the church sided with Mr. Dunham, formed a church, chose him as their pastor and sent him to Rhode Island to be ordained. [Did you notice that? Did you detect what they always did? He went to the mother Church to be ordained.]
   He served the church until his death in 1734 and was succeeded by his son, Johnathan Dunham. [Now isn't that odd? His son succeeded him.]

A Family Work Again?

   He subsequently died in 1777 at the eighty-sixth year of his age. Since then the church has enjoined the labor of several worthy pastors. From this church originated the one at Shilo about forty miles southwest of Philadelphia which was organized in 1737, and now embraces more members than the mother church. There are four Seventh Day Baptist churches in New Jersey, located at Pascataway, Shilo, Marlboro and Plainfield; in the state of New York, there are over thirty Seventh Day Baptist churches. [That was at the time of the writer.]
   The following sketch of which is according to their geographical position. A church was organized at Salem, Rensselaer County, twenty-five miles from Albany in 1780, which was gradually increased in numbers and established a branch in Stephenstown. It also laid another foundation of a church several miles north in the town of Petersburg. From this neighborhood, several families moved to Adams, Jefferson County, and organized a church from which another one has since sprung up in the adjoining town of Houndsfield which was organized at Brookfield, Madison County in 1797. As it increased in numbers and gradually extended over large territory, two other churches were formed in the same town which are now in a flourishing condition.
   You notice these ideas that each one was independent of the other? It isn't so if you prove it. Where do they get their pastors? Back from the mother Church. Does that prove they are independent? Or, does not that prove that they always looked to the mother church, and they worked out from the mother church!

Church Organization; Annual Conference

   Scattered around these churches in Central New York are the churches of Newport, Varrona, Preston, Derider and Scott. Other churches, many of them of recent origin, are scattered over the south and west. There are four in Pennsylvania, four in Virginia, five in Ohio, two in Illinois and six in Wisconsin. Besides, there are numerous little societies of Sabbath keepers who are accustomed to meeting weekly for prayer and conference but who have not yet been organized into regular churches. From the statistics we present to the reader, it will be seen that there are seventy churches connected with the conference, and that the number of communicants is about 8,000, the number of ordained ministers is seventy-two. [A picture of the Pokatuck church reveals that it has a steeple and a cross, but it has square windows and doors. But it is beginning to drift, beginning to leave being the true church.]
   A yearly meeting of the Seventh Day Baptists in America was established at an early period. In 1708, when the church at Newport, Rhode Island organized the part of its members into the distinct body now known as the first Hopkinson Church, an annual interview was agreed upon for a friendly interchange of sentiment and for mutual encouragement and edification. Later this yearly convention included the churches in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. It formed an opportunity for brethren who were widely scattered and otherwise would have been comparative strangers to become acquainted with each other and also serve to interest them in the efforts which were being made in different sections to promote the cause of Christ. [That's why they should have been keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, isn't it? That would be the more reason to keep the Feast, but they didn't know about it at the time.]

Church Death Begins

   About the year 1800, the churches observing the Sabbath having greatly increased in number and being not altogether agreed in doctrinal sentiments, the question arose whether union and prosperity among them might not be promoted by a somewhat more ecclesiastical organization. [So, they formed a general conference.] A meeting was held each year. At a meeting in Shilo, New York in September 1846, a resolve was passed that its meeting should be thereafter held every third year instead of annually. The division of the denomination into associations took place in 1835.
   [Notice that everything after 1818 they began to do was what they shouldn't be doing. It began to form associations! They changed and dropped their meetings to every third year. They got weaker and drifted apart more and more.]
   The Seventh Day Baptists as a denomination have always been forward to engage in the benevolent enterprises of the day. They have repeatedly taken out in their ecclesiastical bodies against slavery and in favor of temperance and other moral reforms. The Seventh Day Baptist missionary association was organized in 1842. It has also sent four missionaries Messrs. Solomon Carpenter, Nathan Wardner and their wives to teach Christ among the heathens.

The American Tract Society

   The American Tract Society was organized in 1843. Its job to promote the Sabbath as originally instituted and enjoined in the decalogue and confirmed by the precepts and the examples of Christ and the apostles.
   It has now a series of fifteen stereotype tracts. It has several publications not connected with the same series but all relating to the subject of the Sabbath. It has also recently issued work in Defense of the Sabbath, written by George Harlow in 1724. Then the author mentions the Seventh Day Baptist Publishing Society and literary institutions.1

From London to America

From the History of the True Church, by Dugger and Dodd, we read:

   The first organization of Sabbath keeping Christians in America now known to history was that of the church at Newport, Rhode Island, in 1671. Stephen Mumford came over from London in 1664, exactly seven years before the church was founded.
   Usually, when you look back in the history of God's Church, you find the numbers seven, twelve, and nineteen. Each signifies a little different thing, and yet quite predominant in the history of the years and in the person. The Church at Newport, Rhode Island, was founded exactly seven years after the arrival of Stephen Mumford.
   This is the oldest known organized Sabbath keeping church in America. In the chapter devoted to the history of the Church of God in the British Isles, there is a certain letter written by the church at Millyard, London, on December 21, 1680, to the church in Newport, Rhode Island. This letter was copied from the old files of the Millyard church, the oldest Sabbath keeping church in America being connected with the oldest in London. [So we can see the continuous flow of the unbroken chain even there.]
   Consequently, we must naturally conclude that these two churches will be found to agree in principle and doctrine and this further evidence will confirm. The first record we have of the organization of a local church in this country reads as follows: "We enter into a church covenant this twenty-third day of December, 1671. William Hiscox, Stephen Mumford, Samuel Hubbard, Roger Baster, Sister Tacy Hubbard, Sister Mumford and Sister Rachel Langworth." [These people were converted from the first church in Newport, Rhode Island, except for the minister and his wife, who were from England.]

Organizational Progress!

   William Hiscox was chosen pastor. The church had no articles of faith except the Bible. As churches in other places sprung up and a desire was felt in many hearts to follow the instruction of the Lord in I Corinthians 1:10, that they all speak the same thing; a mutual understanding was sought among them that those in one locality who having advanced in knowledge and truth deeper might benefit the others by these truths.
   Thus, certain doctrines were outlined with scripture, showing their soundness as unity and harmony was sought and maintained.
   On October 31, 1683, Brother Hubbard wrote to Elder William Gibson who lived in New London and wrote in part, "Oh, that we could have a general meeting; but winter is coming upon us."
   The next May another letter was written as follows:
   "This church has appointed a general meeting to be held here the fourteenth of May, 1684, and hope to see all my daughters and friends together, if God permits, from Westerly, Narraganset, Providence, Plymouth, of Martha's vineyard, and at home, that we may humble our souls at the royal throne of grace at Jehovah and to rejoice together in a holy way and order."
   This was the first general meeting held by these early churches that we have any record of in America. At the beginning of the year 1708, there were 113 members in the Newport, Rhode Island church, when it was thought best for the brethren living in the western part of the city to be organized into what was called the Westerly Church. [This was taken from the Seventh Day Baptist Memorial.]
   In 1705, a church was organized in Pascataway, New Jersey and according to a letter from Samuel Hubbard, one of the charter members of the Newport church, another was organized at an early date at Noodles Island now East Boston, Massachusetts. We quote from a letter which began with these words: [This is to give a general knowledge of the background of the churches here in this country and how small they were and how numerous they became.]
   "Unto the church of Jesus Christ, meeting on Noodles Island in New England. [Notice: the name "Seventh Day Baptist" was never adopted until 1818. And notice this in 1705 was to the "church of Jesus Christ." That's the heading taken from the Seventh Day Baptist memorial book.] In the year 1668, there were at least nine Sabbatarian churches in England according to a letter written from England by Dr. Edward Stennet of the Bell Lane church to the Sabbath keeping brethren in Rhode Island. We quote: 'Here are about nine or ten churches in England that keep the Sabbath besides many scattered disciples who have been shattered to pieces.'"
   [This came from England from one of the ministers there, Dr. Edward Stennett to the church in Rhode Island.]
   In a narrative respecting the Newport church it is said that on July 3, 1669, they sent a letter to a church in Bell Lane, London, England, about some certain difficulties they had encountered. It also stated that prior to this, October 6, 1665, they had sent a first letter to "several churches in the observation of the seventh day for advice."
   Thomas Ward, a prominent lawyer of Newport was a member of the Newport church in 1689. Richard Ward, governor of Rhode Island from 1741 to 1742 was also a member of this church." [Roger Williams was baptized by some of these Sabbatarians, and then the governor from 1741 to 1742 was a seventh day member, and then his brother who was a prominent lawyer in Newport, Rhode Island.]
   Colonel Job Bennet in 1763, was one of a committee of two to draft the constitution of Brown University and served as its treasurer from 1765 to 1775. He was a member of the church. [One of the men even on the committee that drafted the constitution of Brown University and served as the treasurer for ten years was a Sabbath keeper.]
   Deacon John Tanner of this church was also a trustee. [One of the deacons of the Seventh Day Church there in Newport was a trustee at Brown University.]

The Name of the Church

   The connection between this church at Newport and the churches of God in London has already been shown in this work as well as harmony and doctrine. The Millyard church in London being the oldest Sabbath keeping church of which we have definite record and at this date, 1935.
   Their doctrine agrees with that of the churches of God throughout America. This fact is significant of the presence and power of the Holy Sprit whose official work is said to be to lead its possessor into the Truth. It is evident that the church at Newport, Rhode Island was then at first called "Church of God," because of its relationship with the Sabbath keeping churches of London known by this name. Early records of the Newport church have been destroyed by fire, but we do have copies of some of those ancient records and in these we do have intimation of the church clinging to the true name. In a reply concerning an investigation respecting Sabbatarians in Newport, the following is stated by members of the Newport church:
   "Under the former dispensation, there was a church in the world as there is now and as it is the day of the world now to repent and believe the gospel, so it was the day of the world to be proselyted and joined to the then Church of God."
   Questions asked of the early Sabbatarians who intended to minister among others was this:
   "Have you entire freedom to administer the ordinances of God among them as a church of God, to pray with them and for them and endeavor to build them up in the faith?" [That was one of the questions they asked the candidate for the ministry.]
   The following charge was given Elder Davis, an early Sabbatarian minister by the church in Shrewsbury, New Jersey:
   "Brother Davis, I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ that you take the charge of the Church of God dwelling at Shrewsbury, preach the word in and among them, exhort and rebuke with all long suffering and patience with meekness and humility of mind as you shall answer the same when you shall give up to God an account at His appearing and Kingdom."
   Notice the number of truths right in that very quote, directly from scripture and directly from their church history. The latter part of it shows they believed the Kingdom of God was to be set up at the time of Christ's appearing, "...at His appearing and Kingdom."

Church Constitution

   In the year 1705, a church of Sabbath keepers was organized at Pascataway, New Jersey. The first record in the old church record book after the articles of faith was the following statement proving beyond all question that these early churches retained the scriptural name of the Church of God.
   We know that they would even from the Bible, because the Bible said of the Church in England and America the Sardis church "They had a name that they were alive." They had the true name that they were alive, but they were dead.
   The records read, "The church of God keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ." Notice, not faith in, but the faith of Jesus Christ.
   Living in Pascataway and Hopewell in the province of New Jersey, being assembled with one accord at the house of Benjamin Martin in Pascataway, the nineteenth day of August, 1705, we did then and with one mind choose our dearly beloved Edward Dunham who is faithful in the Lord to be our elder and assistant according to the will of God whom we did send to New England to be ordained, who was ordained in the church meeting at Westerly, Rhode Island by prayer and laying on of hands by our elder, William Gibson, the eighth of September, 1705.
   [Notice, the faith of the Pascataway Church reads as follows:]
   (1) We believe that unto us there is but one God the Father and one Lord Jesus Christ who is the mediator between God and man and that the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God. [1 Cor. 3:6; 1 Tim. 2:5; 2 Tim. 3:6; 2 Pet. 1:21]
   (2) We believe that all the scriptures of the Old and New Testament given by inspiration are the word of God, and are the rule of faith and practice.
   (3) We believe that the ten commandments which were written on two tables of stone by the finger of God continue to be the rule of righteousness unto all men.
   (4) We believe the six principles recorded in Hebrews 6 to be the rule and received in all Christian churches.
   (5) We believe that the Lord's supper ought to be administered and received in all Christian churches.
   (6) We believe that all Christian churches ought to have church officers in them, as elders and deacons. [Notice, no reverends, no rabbis, no holy fathers.]
   (7) We believe that all churches thus believing ought to be baptized in water, [Notice, not with water or by water, but in water] by dipping or plunging after confession is made by them of their faith in the above said things. [After each of these statements, they list a group of scriptures. That is significant that they put the scriptures right in the beliefs.]
   (8) We believe that a company of sincere persons being formed in the faith and practices of the above said things may truly be said to be one of the Church of Christ.
   (9) We give up ourselves unto the Lord and one another to be guided and governed by one another according to the Word of God.

Seventh Day Baptists Name After 1818

   That there were members of the Church of God among the Sabbatarians which organized as the Seventh Day Baptist Church in America we know and from the records of the Baptist people themselves which are very accurate, we learned the truth of this fact.
   A recorded letter of one William Davis, a Sabbatarian Baptist, states the following:
   "Now all this enmity among Seventh Day men arose against me originally from a noted seventh day man and soul sleeper in this country who above twenty years ago opposed me about my principles of immortality of human souls.
   So you notice this very important quote here from this Seventh Day Baptist. He admits that even in his day a man rose up and contended with him, a soul sleeper. If you believe a man dies and then sleeps in the grave until the resurrection, then you are a soul sleeper.
   Afterward, he proceeded to differ with me about my faith in Christ and the trinity, having poisoned several other seventh day men with the mortal and atheistical notion.
   So, here this man won over some of these Seventh Day Baptists to reject the trinity and the immortality of the soul. And this shows without any question that they weren't one and the same church; but, that at a later date, 1818, these Seventh Day Baptists organized themselves into a conference and rejected God's name and continued with their own man-made name and then they became a denomination. This man says he poisoned several other seventh day men with the mortal and atheistical notion.
   He set them against me. He secretly conveyed this drench over to Westerly to the persons before named who complying with them in their judgments in the Cycinian and anti-trinitarian error drank in greedily before he came among them.
   One of the main points of the doctrine of the Church of God which distinguishes it from other bodies of believers is the belief in the separateness of Almighty God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit of God as pertains to entities but one as to unity of purpose and spirit.
   This scriptural truth, held dear by Dr. Arias and his followers in the early centuries, is still dear to the Church of God in our day and was to the saints during the colonization of America.
   Another tenet of faith which distinguishes the Church of God is the teaching of immortality only through Jesus Christ. That is a conditional immortality only through Jesus Christ, which is given to the saints only and not to all mankind.
   This third article of faith which should be noted by us is Sabbath keeping. That is, the observance of the seventh day of the week. From the quotation taken from the letter of the Sabbatarian Baptist, Elder William Davis, it is noted that this noted Sabbatarian of whom he speaks was not only a Sabbath keeper, but also one who held to the truth of the individuality of Jesus Christ and His Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit of God and to the truth of immortality only through Jesus Christ.
   There is no body of Christians in the world with the exception of the Church of God which teaches all three of these beautiful truths; hence we know this man was of the Church of God and contended for the "faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
   It has been previously shown how the early churches in the East were composed of and raised up through the labors of members from the Churches of God from London and other parts of Europe; and furthermore, evidence has been given that they were actually known among themselves by the name, Church of God.
   It is claimed, however, in the History of the Seventh Day Baptists, volume II, page 613, that these churches had no official name. The reason for this claim is evidently due to the fact they did not believe in incorporating with the state, or of filing the charter for the Bible, they said, was sufficient.
   We quote from this work as follows:
   "In the first record of the first minute book extant, the church is referred to as the Church of Rhode Island."
   Well, what do we call this? "This is the church of Chicago." We could speak of "the St. Louis church" "Who is the minister of the Bloomington church?" "Who is the minister of the Milwaukee church?" We don't say "the Church of God in Milwaukee."
   In the first record of the first minute book extant, the church is referred to as the church of Rhode Island and Westerly, Rhode Island. [Referring to the Island and not to the whole colony.]
   And to Hopkinson, Westerly, Charleston, and Richmond, sometimes it is spoken of as "the church" and other times as "the congregation," but it had no official name.

Piety and Bible Love

   In an apology for the Churches in New England, we find the name, "the Church of God." While the Sabbath keepers were under persecution and being driven away from one country to another, they were humble and devoted to God. They trusted in the Lord to lead and deliver and were fervent and instant in prayer and earnest in spirit.
   However, after they came to America and had enjoyed for 100 years or more the religious liberties granted first by the charter of William Penn and later extended to other colonies, some ceased to pray as earnestly as before and settled down to a state of formality and worship, depending upon the laws of man for security instead of the intervening hand of God; consequently, some began gradually drifting away from the former piety and love for the Bible and the Bible only for their faith and practice and took upon themselves another name besides the one divinely given by God.
   In their history in America, this was mainly among the first signs which marked their drift toward the world. In the early records of the early Sabbatarians who later became known as Seventh Day Baptists, we find them using the name, the Church of God and the Church of Christ, interchangeably. (Randolph's History of the Seventh Day Baptists.)

Seventh Day Baptist Name

   In later records, we find the name Sabbatarian Church of Christ and Seventh Day Baptist Church of Christ. Later, the words "of Christ" were dropped and these people became known as the Seventh Day Baptists. After the church at Newport had faithfully held the true light aloft for 145 years and obtained a charter in the year 1819, their name was registered as the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Christ.
   Notice, this is the first chartered registration under that name, in 1819. Remember, 1818 is when they had their church conference and united as a body and then adopted the name, Seventh Day Baptists. So here, one year later and maybe just a few months later, we have the charter then the name being registered under the charter in 1819, the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Christ. From the history of the Seventh Day Baptist in America, we note that "there were no by-laws, constitution, charter, or articles of faith, save the scriptures which were considered all of these."
   On speaking of the West Newport church, or Hopkinson church, it further states:
   There seems to have been no special thought that it should have any special name. Then it was referred to as the Sabbatarian church in Westerly, in 1758. In Hopkinson, the church was known as the Hopkinson Church. Sixty-one years later the church of Christ had been dropped, in 1880; and, the name "Seventh Day Baptists" retained a charter given that year under title of the First Seventh Day Baptist Church, by the state legislature. [So here, then, the Hopkinson Church did not become chartered under the name, Seventh Day Baptist Church.]
   Thus we see how by consecutive stages the divine scriptural titles are supplanted by worldly names which could not be pleasing or bring rejoicing to the divine courts of heaven.
   We have previously given a record where the church at Shrewsbury, New Jersey, called themselves the Church of God. The record of the history of this Sabbatarian Church at Shrewsbury, New Jersey, begins as follows:
   [So you see, in 1818, when the groups got together and formed the conference and adopted the name, some didn't go along with that. Just as in 1860, when the Adventists got together with some of the Seventh Day Baptists and adopted the name Seventh Day Baptists, some didn't go along with that either.]
   Thus, a book of records of the settlement and proceedings of the Church of Christ keeping the commandments of God, particularly the holy seventh day with the rest of the commandments of God and believing and practicing the holy ordinances of the gospel of Christ and the doctrines thereof. [From Randolph's History of the Seventh Day Baptists.]
   A later record reads, "the Church of Christ in Shrewsbury and Middletown in the observance of God's holy sanctified Sabbath first agreed to the so and so date of the sixth month, 1774, we believe that a company of sincere persons may truly be said to be the Church of God."
   So, twice right here is the same thing, Church of Christ and Church of God is used interchangeably and that was 1774, and they still weren't called Baptists. If they were Seventh Day Baptists, how did Roger Williams, who formed the Baptists in America, become baptized by a Seventh Day Baptist? That doesn't make sense, but you read that in the eleventh edition of the Britannica.
   It was the Shrewsbury church which, 1789, immigrated to Salem, West Virginia. The people from Shrewsbury founded the town of New Salem, Virginia, now Salem, West Virginia.
   Although we know from the records above, the Shrewsbury church was called "the church of Christ," and "the church of God," while in New Jersey, it is a fact that when the church was reorganized at Salem, the Bible name was dropped and the members denominated themselves, the Seventh Day Baptists, which name is held by them until this present day.
   [But as long as they were up at Shrewsbury, they never were called by that name at all.]
   It is an evident fact, however, that all the Shrewsbury members who settled at Salem did not approve of the departure from the Bible for a church name. Upon this, many settled in other parts of the state and organized other Sabbath bodies.
   So, some of these who went down there, when they adopted this name, Seventh Day Baptists, moved out and settled in other parts of the state and organized other Sabbatarian bodies.


   We find at least one church re-adopted the name, "Church of Christ." In addition to Sabbath keeping and believers, baptism by immersion, some of these members in these assemblies observed other kindred truths held by their Church of God down through the centuries. The following extract will bring out these facts. Footwashing was practice by some of the early congregations of people now called Seventh Day Baptists. The following extract is taken from an epistle written by the Shrewsbury Church of Christ in 1790 to another sister congregation:
   "And now dear brethren, we shall use the freedom to acquaint us with one thing and to heartily desire to recommend it to you for serious and Christian consideration. That is about the duty of washing one another's feet. This is a duty and work which some of us have been long thoughtful and in part persuaded or and have concluded to put it in practice some time since in the following manner, visually at the Lord's supper the elder in imitation of the Lord takes a towel and girds himself then he pours water in a basin and begins to wash the disciples' feet and from him they take it from the brethren to the brethren and the sister to the sister. They wash one another's feet through the present assembly."
   Now you thought Mr. Armstrong thought the women should wash the women's feet and the men should wash the men's feet. Or maybe you thought that's just the way we did it in the Chicago area and they didn't do it that way out in Oregon. Well, you see they did it that way back there in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, and Newport, Rhode Island.
   The practice of foot washing was continued by this church in Virginia, now Salem, West Virginia, which was probably abandoned at some time during the first half of the nineteenth century.
   That would be the first half of the 1800s and that's when they changed their name, wasn't it? Well, you see, once you are rejected by God as being the true church, then you begin to go backward.

Passover on Fourteenth

Clark, in History of the Sabbatarian, states:

   Some of these West Virginia churches believe in the washing of one another's feet at appointed times, but the Sabbath and baptism are their distinguishing beliefs. Concerning the Passover or the Lord's supper, in at least one assembly of the early Sabbatarians in West Virginia, the following is illustrative:
   "March 21, 1853, was voted that communion service should be held once in twelve months on the fourteenth of the first Jewish month on the evening of the Passover."

Church Government

   Then how did they quote it here on the fourteenth? Well, he wasn't quoting it as to which day. He was just quoting it to prove to you that they kept it once a year, and that they had foot-washing along with it.
   But, in quoting it, he condemns himself, because he doesn't keep it on the day which is the right day. They had gone far off. You know Mr. Armstrong wasn't aware of Church government. They lost the idea of Church government in the history of the true church in America. Why shouldn't they? The Protestant idea of "doing-as-you-please" or "every-man-for-himself-ism" had ruined all this country. And they lost church government even in the true church and voted that communion be held. And did you notice back there when the first church was founded in 1671, that they chose Hilcox to be the first minister? They didn't ordain him. They chose him, but then they sent him to the mother church to be ordained.

Unclean Meats

   The diet of some of the early Sabbatarians in West Virginia can be understood from the following extract concerning the south part of Hughes River in the church in 1842:
   "In their efforts to follow the mandates of the Mosaic law, the flesh of swine for food was placed under ban. Mutton and beef tallow took the place of lard in cooking. A few of the more wellto- do used olive oil."
   So you see what happened? They did keep the major laws but you know even by using beef and mutton and lamb fat, they were breaking the law too, as you read in Leviticus 7. You are not to eat the fat nor drink the blood. That is one of the deeper truths that God's church knows today that the Sardis Church never did know. And some of the original members who came into God's church out of the Sardis church used to use chicken fat all the time in their cooking.

The Church of Christ

   This church was called, "the Church of Christ" in its records as given on page twenty and the Sabbath keeping body at Lost Creek, West Virginia was also organized with the same name, "Church of Christ," as recorded on page 146 of this same history.
   So you see what happened to the church after the large body of Sabbatarians became denominated and organized into a conference, then you have these little churches Lost Creek, West Virginia; New Salem, Virginia. They still kept the right name in the right way.

True Church Versus Seventh Day Baptists

   Another congregation of early Sabbatarians settled on the South fork of Hughes River in West Virginia in Ridgie County and among them were leaders who lead contrary to the Sabbatarians then known as the Seventh Day Baptists. Of these Christians it is recorded that they "taught obedience to the ceremonial law and enforced on the church contrary to the faith of the Seventh Day Baptists denomination, abstainance from certain meats, peculiarities of dress and urged that the church should be governed by elders exclusively."
   That makes it very blunt that they certainly weren't the Seventh Day Baptists Church at all. And now he goes off on what we used to think. We used to think Adventists had originally been a branch of the true church, but they never were as we found from their own writings now in searching. They never were. Just like the Seventh Day Baptists never were the true church. A group of people who had been the true church became watered down and lukewarm and wanted to form a church conference and did so in 1818 and these were the Seventh Day Baptists. Of course, where would they trace their history? If they tried to go back through the same sequence? And Andrew Dugger thought the Adventists were split off the same, true church.

Adventist Movement

   William Miller, an earnest prophetical student and minister was the main leader in the movement of 1835, in which the time of the second coming of the Lord was set. His great enthusiasm for Christ's return and a partial knowledge of prophecy led him to believe that the Lord would come back in 1844.
   From the year 1835 onward, this belief gripped the minds of young and old alike. Thousands in every walk of life were anxious to leave their world affairs behind and prepare to meet Jesus. Commandment keepers sprang up in every quarter and men and women fired with zeal went forth with the message, depriving themselves of the necessities of life that precious souls could be won to Christ and prepare to meet Him at His coming. When the expected year arrived the disappointment was bitter. Jesus did not come. But this did not dampen their zeal or slacken their work. [No, the churches substituted a woman as their head, which isn't the way it started out.]
   Discovering their error in prophetical calculation and knowing that other conditions must first shape themselves for the Lord's return, they went on with the truth. The year 1844, year of the disappointment, James White began publishing "The Messenger" at Rochester, New York. The name of the paper was later changed to "The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald." It was launched by devoted Church of God brethren who were led by the Spirit of God, upholding the precious truth which God had called them to proclaim.
   It will be of interest to know who were leaders in the Church of God in America as the truth spread from state to state, further toward the West, into the North and into the South.
   [Then he lists some of these adventists.] Lauboro, James White, J. N. Andrews, who did write a very good history of the Sabbath, B. F. Snook...
   State associations were formed. [That's just totally outside the true church. The true church never was formed in the state association.]
   Two gospel tents were paid for and in operation in the state of Iowa. That the church name at this time was Church of God from the early writings and experiences and views by Mrs. Ellen G. White, the wife of James White, the elder of the church paper mentioned above.
   But that wasn't the location of the true church at all. As you will notice, these men began as Sunday keepers and they began to preach the advent, a second coming of Christ, and in doing so, they ran across Sabbath keepers and they became convinced of the Sabbath day. The same ones who convinced them of the Sabbath day had the name, Church of God. So, when they accepted the Sabbath, they accepted that name until they had their first meeting and organized.

Reorienting Facts

   She wrote numerous volumes "Spiritual Gifts, and experiences and views" in which she frequently mentioned the name "Church of God scattered abroad."
   So, it shows the ones who taught her the Sabbath still had the name, Church of God, and not Seventh Day Baptists. Interestingly, you come up with the facts sometimes, and yet you come up with something that's quoted for one reason and use it and it actually proves something else.
   Also, the first songbook published by these Advent Christian Sabbath keepers is dedicated to the "Church of God scattered abroad." This statement is made in the preface of the book. Again, on page forty of the church paper, December 18, 1860, we find the following under caption of resignation:
   "Brother Smith, I will be thankful for the privilege of saying through the review to my Sabbath-keeping brethren and sisters that I have so poorly filled the office of a good minister of Jesus Christ in my ministration of the third angel's message in the Church of God during eleven years past; I do this day resign this holy office and retire from my public labors to a different relation to the church with which I have been associated and which I still love devotedly."
   But you notice what he resigned from the Church of God. And those were the Advent Christian people. Now it wasn't the true church, but it does prove that the place the Adventists got the Sabbath when they were going about preaching in the Baptist, and in the Presbyterian, and in the Episcopalian, and in these general denominational churches; when they were going about preaching the advent and they were called the Advent Christian church, they ran across these Sabbath keepers and at that time was, the church of God. So when they learned the Sabbath from them, they also took the true name from them.
   This good brother, because of his declining years, resigned from his active work as the minister of the Church of God. [This would take them back to 1849, because that's when this was, and this man resigned in 1860. He had been a minister of the Church of God for eleven years.]
   The following testimony is born to the truth of the Seventh Day Adventists originally retaining the scriptural name, Church of God. Elder J. M. Ormanam of Norway, a former Adventist minister, writes as follows of the records of the old church and the changed name:
   "I have before me a copy of the work, "Advent Review," issue of 1850, which was sent to me by E. S. Ballinger. I cling to this work as proof that the Adventists had the right church name before 1844 and onward to 1860."
   And that's the date they united and organized as Seventh Day Adventists. And then, at that time on, some even refused to go along with that because they learned about the advent, they accepted the Sabbath from these Sabbath Church of God keepers, they had accepted the name Church of God from them, so much that some of them became a part of that Church until 1860.
   The third of October, 1860, at which time the name Seventh Day Adventist was adopted. I conclude in view of this proof that Hiram Edson and James White, "of whom this first publishing committee consisted, all belong to the Church of God and acknowledge no other church name as late as 1850."
   It says that this book was written in the Holy Spirit by many leaders of the advent movement; consequently, all those leaders were members of the Church of God for this book was published by the Church of God and not by the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
   These leaders of the Adventists never were fully converted. They accepted the true name, just as they accepted the true Sabbath, and they retained both of those for a while.
   On page eighteen of this work is printed an article of Elder Marsh from the Voice of Truth, May 21, 1845, in which Elder Marsh is quoted as saying:
   "Finally, we object to the doings of the Albany conference because the proceedings as a whole look like forming a sect under a sectarian name." [That is exactly what they did, too.]
   As further proof that the Church carrying the message of truth, teaching the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus at this time was called the Church of God, we submit the following from the Review and Herald, April 9, 1861, under title of "Secession" which reads as follows:
   [Remember, this is one year after the Adventists united and began their denomination under the elected, voted name and notice, one year April 9, 1861 a group of people writing this seceding from the body.]
   "Brother Smith we conclude from all aspects that the name, Seventh Day Adventists, is being made obligatory upon our brethren. Without further light, Ohio cannot submit to the name Seventh Day Adventists as either a test or an appropriate name for God's people. Being appointed a financial committee at the last conference and having now on hand means for carrying on the cause in Ohio, we could not conscientiously extend those means in any other than the advancement and extension of the truth and the Church of God. If special means are expended, otherwise, it will be necessary for the churches in Ohio to assemble in conference to give instructions to that effect and to choose from some other committee to make the disbursements. Signed, J. Dudley; L. E. Jones; J. T. Fleming; Finance Committee of Ohio."
   James White, editor of the Review and Herald, answered as follows:
   "The Battle Creek conference, October 1, 1860, voted that we call ourselves Seventh Day Adventists."

Name a Test!

   "The brethren as far as we can learn are adopting the name and we never heard of or thought of it's being a test until we read the above from Ohio. We will here add that as a friend from Gilboa complains of the non-publication of an article from Gilboa stated further the evidence in favor of the name, Church of God, we wish to say that at that time, no one connected with the Review office objected to the name. Signed, James White."
   The foregoing is ample proof of the origin of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, that they are a branch and came into existence October 1, 1860.
   The Church of God, however, continued on holding further the banner of truth as she had done since the days of Jesus.
   While this was a great blow to the work, yet there were many strong, spirit-filled men left who soon launched another paper and went about "strengthening the work that remained," gathered together other companies of believers as it pleased God to add us to His church.
   Following this conference, several other unscriptural doctrines began to creep into the Seventh Day Adventist churches, including the observance of the Lord's supper quarterly instead of yearly. This came about through the influence of Mrs. E. G. White, the wife of the editor, who, when a girl, was associated with the church which still observes the sacred ordinance every three months.
   So, her husband had been a Methodist and the Methodists did it that often, so why couldn't they, and they would be reminded of Jesus that much more often? Mrs. White persuaded them out of another truth, although they never were the true church.

Lord's Supper

   The Church of God has from the days of our Savior practiced the yearly observance of the Lord's supper. [But not on the fifteenth. Not on the fifteenth! He is careful not to mention which day. He just says the Church has always observed the Lord's supper yearly.]
   The Church of God has from the days of our Savior practiced the yearly observance of the Lord's supper and some of the churches continued this practice, not heeding the teachings set forth in the early writings of Mrs. E. G. White, who was thought by many to possess the gift of prophecy and was considered as the prophetess for the remnant church, the Reconstruction. [That's what he called the Church of God after 1860.]
   Many ministers throughout America and informed fields endorsed the action of the Battle Creek conference and followed the advice of their supposed prophetess not only in the change of the name, but in other erroneous teachings which were creeping in among God's people. Although this falling away prophesied by Paul was to again take place in latter times, strong men, filled with the Spirit, were not deceived. They went steadily on, undaunted, and carrying the true name and the true faith.
   The following year, these brethren and others from surrounding states met at Battle Creek, Michigan. [The church didn't die out when the Adventists great huge body began to adopt the name and denomination.]
   And they began the publication of a monthly paper which they called, The Remnant of Israel. They decided on this name, feeling that it was to serve the few left out of this apostasy who were truly the remnant of Israel. This publication continued by the name which was later changed to the Sabbath Advocate, and still later to the Bible Advocate, the name of the paper of Andrew Dugger even today from Jerusalem.
   The next step was the obtaining of a charter in Michigan by the Church of God there.
   During the reconstruction of the Church following this apostasy, [He always refers to the Adventists as an apostasy, which it wasn't. They never were connected with the true church. All they did was adopt the name of the Sabbath and the name from that body of the true church. And that is as close as they ever came.] a number of valiant soldiers of the cross contributed their lives in the gospel ministry and are worthy of mention. [Then he mentions Brinkerhoff, Long, Laird, Wells, A. F. Dugger probably one of his brothers.]
   The church paper launched at Battle Creek, Michigan in 1861, the Remnant of Israel, was later moved to Marion, Iowa, and still later to Stanbury, Missouri. [That's where it is today and that's where their college is. And that's where it was when Mr. Armstrong became associated with it.]
   A general conference was organized in Missouri and state conferences were also organized in various states with presidents and vice-presidents.
   That's the mark, or image, of the beast, isn't it? You see what they do when you begin to take the image? What is a beast? A kingdom. When you take the image of the kingdom, you take the government, the organization of that kingdom. When you start in God's Church making presidents and vice-presidents of states and conferences, you are going off. And they were going off.
   A general conference was organized in Missouri. State Conferences were also organized with a similar organization as that formed in October, 1860, at Battle Creek, Michigan, when the name was changed to Seventh Day Adventist. [He turns right around and did everything they did in 1860, except change the name. Yet he did everything else save change the name.]
   For some reason, God did not put it upon the hearts of His people at that day to restore the New Testament organization as set forth by Jesus and the holy apostles. As time went on, the work was opened in some foreign fields, hundreds of thousands of tracts were printed for a period of seventy-two years. [This is really important!] For a period of seventy-two years, from 1861 to 1933, the church continued to set forth the true doctrine.
   Andrew Dugger wrote this book, and yet he himself says that for seventy-two years, from 1861 when this church refused to go along with the Adventists in their adopting the name Seventh Day Adventist, for seventy-two years until 1933, the Church continued to set forth the true doctrine.
   In the fall of 1931, it was voted at the general conference that the church should send someone to Jerusalem to look after the work, in view of moving the work to world headquarters there.
   Well, that's alright, except God moved the world headquarters to Pasadena before he got a chance to. That's right! They were organizing, planning, voting and meeting and decided they would move the world headquarters of the ex-true church down to Jerusalem and that's what they did,
   ...when conditions would permit. Consequently, arrangements were made for A. N. Dugger to go and look after this work. A printing press was given him while holding meetings in London, by Brother Samuel Brown. Elder Dugger went all over Judea, Samaria and Galilee.
   Systematically distributing these gospel messages among all Jewish cities and towns, a good number of Jewish converts were baptized in '32 in Palestine and a number of Hebrew workers started into the gospel work there. Sister Rose Miller helped much in the good work there which the Lord has laid upon it to do in the holy land.
   At this time it seemed that the Spirit of God was moving again in the camps of Israel and men filled with the Holy Spirit from California to the New England states and from North to South, were impressed with the improper and unscriptural organization of the Church. They were writing to one another in different places of the evils manifest in state and general elections of presidents and vice-presidents. [So, you see God showed them the error which they had made. God made them see the evils they were doing right in the church in electing presidents and vice-presidents and...]
   They suggested the need of the restoration of the scriptural organization and the twelve to look after the scriptural affairs of the Church and seven to take charge of the financial business.

Entrance of Herbert W. Armstrong

   And also the seventy to go forth two by two to give the warning message for the hour. Two letters now on file were written so near the same date that they passed each other in the mail from Battle Creek, Michigan to Los Angeles, California.
   Elder Haber in California wrote the brother who was at that time in Battle Creek, laying before him the need of Bible organization as stated above which he had said had not been suggested by others living in California as no correspondence had passed between them or any other ministers originally on the question. Before this letter reached its destination, the brother to whom it was written had also written to Elder Haber telling him of the movement that seemed to be sweeping into the mind of many on the question.
   So, he is explaining that this is the way God supernaturally guided it. A man from California wrote a letter, and a man from Michigan wrote a letter back to him. They both wrote the letters, mailed them at the same time, suggesting that they form the Church government after the way it was in Acts. So, he says that is divine guidance. That isn't the way God guides His Church today.
   That it should be brought up the following fall at the general conference convening at Stanberry, Missouri. Time forbids further details on the matter, but Elder R. A. Barnes and Elder Severson of Oklahoma [Severson's name is mentioned in the Autobiography] had for some time been talking over the matter between themselves but unknown to the church in general.
   Now here's a member in Arkansas, one in Oklahoma, one in California and one in Michigan and they all got this "Acts 2 idea" suddenly. That proves that God guided it. That's what he is quoting all this to prove.
   Brother Gillespie, an old-timer in the Church of God at St. Joseph, Missouri, voluntarily suggested the matter to Brother A. N. Dugger a few months after his return from the holy land.
   Neither Brother Dugger nor anyone else had introduced the question to him. He was informed of this being the opinion of the church at Jerusalem. Thus, the reorganization became more and more impressed upon the Church and its needs more apparent. A set time and place, therefore, were chosen to perform this work. It was set for November 4, 1933.
   When did God's Philadelphian Church begin? January, 1934. You see, what God did when they got organized? He rejected them. They moved their world head-quarters, God moved His headquarters.
   The place chosen was Salem, West Virginia, USA. The following account of the meeting is copied from the Bible Advocate, published at Salem, November 6, of that year:
   "The choosing of the twelve, the seventy and the seven.
   Several weeks prior to November 4, a call was sent to many countries for prayer that God would again choose men to lead His Church as in the former times. [Then he lists all the countries to which their ministers had been sent.]
   Jerusalem, South Africa, Egypt, England, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, China, India, New Zealand, Panama, Japan, Jamaica, Cuba, Trinidad, Guam, Canada, Nova Scotia, Siberia, Barbados, Venezuela, Syria, Madagascar, Burma, Newfoundland, Mexico. The practice of choice by lot is very ancient among the Jews and was practiced also by the early Church (Acts 2:23-26). Therefore, after a call to prayer throughout the world was sent forth besides this about 10,000 people in America ministers and brothers and sisters in Christ met at Salem, West Virginia according to appointment on November 4, from 1,000 miles westward to 900 miles northeast and 600 miles south they came together, most of them arriving Friday.
   Although tired from riding great distances, from being up, some staying up the previous night, they all joined together with the Salem Church and spent the entire night in fasting.
   The next day, the names were placed into the box and a brief silent prayer given. It was just a few minutes past 11 AM, Washington time, when the names for the twelve were drawn out.
   A prayer of thanks was then given by Elder Dodd. These names were written down one by one as chosen by O. D. Graham, acting as secretary pro tem.
   Another short season of silent prayer was then called and the names of the seventy were chosen one by one.
   About two-thirds down, Elder Herbert Armstrong of Oregon. [It is there so insignificantly. And that ends the history of the true church as far as we need to trace it. If you want to trace it from there, then write in for the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong.]2


1. Joseph Belcher, Religious Denominations, (Philadelphia: John Potter, 1861), p. 239-247.

2. A.N. Dugger, A History of the True Church, (Salem: Dugger & Dodd, 1936), p. 270-304.

Previous      Chapter VII      Next
Publication Date: 1973
Back To Top