A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity (1611/1612)
Following the hapless Hampton Court Conference, little groups of English Christians ("Separatists") began to break away from the established church. As early as 1606, one group, led by John Smyth, migrated to Holland. Prominent among them was Thomas Helwys. In 1611/1612, Helwys and others returned home where they founded at Spitalfield the first General Baptist congregation in England. Helwys had with him a manuscript entitled "A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity" in which he proposed the notion of liberty of conscience, freedom of religion. This may have been the first such declaration in English. Helwys published the manuscript in 1612. That publication probably cost him his freedom, perhaps even his life. By the beginning of the twentieth century, only four known copies of the book survived. Now, thanks to the careful work of Richard Groves, Helwys's "The Mystery of Iniquity" is available in a reader-friendly edition. Groves's introduction sets the document in context, not only as an important and influential historical event but as shedding yet more light on whence we have come. Students, historians, Christians, Protestants, Baptists - all for whom freedom of conscience is important will welcome this reissue in modern dress of a religious liberty classic.
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Page 15 - And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads ; and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Page xvii - That the doctrine of the Church might be preserved in purity, according to God's Word. 2. That good pastors might be planted in all churches to preach the same. 3. That the Church government might be sincerely ministered, according to God's Word.
Page 11 - And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them ; and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
Page xx - For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming...