The Story of the Anabaptists

Among them were remarkable men such as Oswald Glaidt, Andreas Fischer and Andreas Eossi. Their area of ministry was primarily in Germany, Poland, Hungary and parts of what later became known as Czechoslovakia and Romania. These men taught obedience to the Sabbath and Holy Days as well as a rejection of infant baptism and the Trinity. God used them to strengthen the faithful remnant and to provide a witness of the Truth as the turbulent Protestant Reformation was sweeping the same area.

Oswald Glaidt and Andreas Fischer met during a trip up the Danube River in 1527. They both wrote books in defense of the Sabbath. In response to those who accused him of trying to earn salvation because he taught that obedience to the Ten Commandments was necessary, Glaidt responded: "The moral law says, 'Do not murder,' yet nobody would argue seriously that this is no longer in effect, nor would anyone argue that simply to refrain from murder is an attempt to achieve salvation on the basis of 'works'" (Daniel Liechty, Sabbatarianism in the Sixteenth Century, p. 31). Glaidt was executed in Vienna in 1546. Shortly prior to his death he told his accusers: "Even if you drown me, I will not deny God and His Truth. Christ died for me and I will continue to follow Him and would die for His Truth before I would give it up" (p. 35). Books and tracts on the Sabbath and other related subjects were also published in the late 1500s by Andreas Eossi, a Hungarian of noble birth.

By the mid-1600s, remnants of the Church in Central Europe were being increasingly persecuted by a resurgent Catholic Church that was regaining control there after the turbulence of the Reformation. True Christians were faced with either severe persecution or emigration to an area that offered greater freedom to practice their beliefs. The remote Trans-Carpathian mountain area, which was already home to Waldensian remnants, became a sanctuary for many. In the eighteenth century most of the few remaining German Sabbath-keepers migrated to Pennsylvania. There were also a number of people who were associated with the "Anabaptist movement," but who accepted other Protestant teachings of the Reformation. From those descend such modern-day groups as the Baptists, Mennonites and Amish.

In the meantime, remnants of the true Church had come into England. The scene was set for the fifth stage in the history of the Church of God, characterized by the Church at Sardis. Our first clear records of Sabbath-keeping church congregations in England date from the 1580s. By the early 1600s a public debate was being waged over whether the biblical Sabbath was still in effect. Quite a few books were written on the subject of the law of God and the Sabbath during this period, many of which still survive.

John Traske was one of the first to publish a book in England dealing with the Sabbath. Writing around 1618, he was imprisoned for his efforts. Some credit him with raising up the Mill Yard Church in London, the oldest known Sabbath-keeping church still functioning and parent of later Sabbatarian churches in America. Though some other historians date the founding of Mill Yard to the 1580s, well before Traske's time, he certainly pastored the church in the early seventeenth century. John Traske was later arrested and put in prison. While there, he seems to have recanted his teachings in order to gain release, though his wife refused to do so; she remained faithful to the Truth and spent the remaining 15 years of her life in prison.

In 1661, John James, another Church of God minister in the London area, was arrested for preaching the Truth.

"In his final words to the court he simply asked them to read the following scriptures: Jeremiah 26:14-15 and Psalm 116:15. after his execution his heart was taken out and burned, the four quarters of his body fixed to the gates of the city and his head set up on a pole in Whitechapel opposite to the alley in which his meetinghouse stood. Such was the horrible price that some were prepared to pay for obedience to God in seventeenth century England" (Ivor Fletcher, The Incredible History of God's True Church, p. 176).

Another remarkable leader was Francis Bampfield, a copy of whose autobiography, The Life of Shem Acher, has been preserved in the British Museum Library. From 1662 until his death in 1683, he spent most of his time either in prison or on the run from the English authorities. Even when he was detained at Dorchester

Prison, people flocked there to hear him preach. It was at this time of persecution that an event of far-reaching implications happened: Stephen Mumford and his wife, members of the Church, left England for the New World and came to Rhode Island in 1664. By the early 1700s the Church of God in England was virtually dead. Most of the ministers at that time, in addition to preaching on the Sabbath, were now pastoring churches on Sunday to make extra money. Compromise took its toll.

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