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DOCUMENTARY SOURCES OF THE CONFESSION

The 1689 London Baptist Confession comes principally from four sources:

A. The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1646.

This confession is distinctively puritan, presbyterian and paedobapitst, being the result of the sitting of the Westminster Assembly.

B. The Savoy Declaration of Faith and Order, 1658.

This confession is a revision of the Westminster which was Independent or Congregational in that it differed in the matters of church government and the autonomy of the local church.

C. The First London Baptist Confession (1644).

During the 17th Century, while under persecution, Baptists published a number of Confessions to clarify their doctrinal position and to refute errors with which they had been branded. This confession was subscribed to by seven Particular Baptist congregations in the London area. It is likely to have subsequently become the doctrinal position of many other congregations. It was distinctively Calvinistic and Baptist while also rejecting many of the Continental Anabaptist tenets of pelagianism, pacifism, and the rejection of involvement of christians in civil office. Five of the seven churches which signed the 1644 were also signatories to the 1689 Confession.

D. The work of William Collins and Nehemiah Coxe.

William Collins and Nehemiah Coxe were elders of the Petty France church in London. It is likely that they were responsible for the collation and editing of the above three documents to produce this Confession of Faith. The first extant reference to the Confession is found recorded in the Petty France Church Book on the 26th of August 1677, it states, “It was agreed that a Confession of Faith w(ith) the Appendix thereto having bene(been) read and considered by the Bre(thren): should be published”. Given the spiritual stature of both Coxe and Collins, their involvement in other literary activities, joined with the fact that it appears that the Petty France Church was intimately aware of the Confession it make it very likely that they were its major editors (see Origins of the Confession). Although the Confession was published in 1677, it was done so anonymously due to the persecution of the times. It was not until 1689, after the “Glorious Revolution” under William and Mary of Orange that this Confession was published with the names of the subscribers and the churches they represented attached and has become known as the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith or the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith.

Of the 160 paragraphs which make up the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, 146 are directly derived from the Savoy declaration, eight are derived from the 1644 Confession and six from the editorial work Collins and Coxe.

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