The Testimony of Succat Patricus (aka. St. Patrick) — Kidnapped Twice!
Updated: Mar 17
Many misconceptions exist today about the Irish holiday, St. Patricks Day and the man himself, Patrick. The truth is, he wasn’t Irish, he wasn’t an emissary of the Pope, and his real name wasn’t Patrick! He was a Brit, and died 175 years before his name was ever even mentioned in Catholic writings, and his real name was Succat, which means “warlike” in modern Welsh.
Succat Patricus was born around 360 A.D. at Dumbarton, Scotland (some place his birth in the 370’s and others in the 380’s). His father, Calpurnius, was a Roman civil officer, and a deacon in a Baptist-type church, who had been converted to Christ while on a business trip to Rome.
Succat’s First Kidnapping
In spite of being reared in a godly home, Succat was a wild and unruly youth, and at age 16 or 17, while working on his father's farm, he and several others were kidnapped and carried away captive by a band of Scottish pirates. and sold as a slave to a Druid chieftain named Milcho, who reigned in Northern Ireland. Succat was stripped of all he had, and was sold into slavery on an island country. Even his name was changed.
It was during this dark period that he remembered his Christian upbringing and Bible teaching as a lad from his godly father, and Scripture flooded his mind and heart and he was dramatically converted to Christ by repentant faith in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (For further reading on Succat’s testimony of conversion, in his own words, see addendum 1 below this report).
After being held hostage for around eight years, at the age of twenty five, he escaped his captors and returned to his home in Scotland, only to find that his father had passed away. In his Spirit-led desire to fulfill the work of the ministry (2 Cor 5:17-20), something that occurs in all truly saved people, the Lord led Him to set out on a missionary journey that took him right back to the island country that was the land of his captivity for eight years, to preach to his captors. In doing so he demonstrated the love only God could put in a man's heart for lost souls, becoming the most well known Baptist missionary to that land of Ireland in all recorded history.
It was the age of 40 years that Succat began his magnificent work on the Emerald Isle. His mission field was wild and primitive. The people who inhabited its primeval forests were thoroughly pagan, animists and worshiped practically any dead object such as trees and stones and wells. They even sacrificed their children on heathen alters to appease the gods of their idols and to secure, as they thought, better harvests.
About a year after his arrival he did something that called much attention to his ministry. The Encyclopedia Brittanica tells us that he challenged the "royal authority by lighting the Paschal fire on the hill of Slane on the night of Easter Eve. It chanced to be the occasion of a pagan festival at Tara, during which no fire might be kindled until the royal fire had been lit.”
Ah, this should put iron in our blood! Glorious, audacious Succat challenged all the forces of hell. Not a little flame did he kindle, but a bonfire! All the people were transfixed and King Loigaire was amazed at his daring and said: "If we do not extinguish this flame it will sweep over all Ireland." This “prophecy” proved true for it seemed that a holy fire fell from the altar of heaven and for years there were such tears of true saving repentance as have seldom been witnessed by the angels of glory (Luke 15).
Patrick preached the Gospel from the Word of God, established an indigenous church (over which Christ was Head, not the Pope), baptized (immersed) believers, and ordained clergymen. Celtic churches, as Irish Christians were known, helped lead the way in evangelizing Europe over the next 100 years. Patrick died in the mid-fifth century, but not before the entire island had been evangelized. Patrick's creed was: "Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me."
Succat’s Second Kidnapping
It was well after his death, some 1,400 years in fact, a tragic event surrounding him transpired, when he was kidnapped a second time! And as before, his captors took away his identity. Perhaps you are more familiar with his "new" name? This great missionary, Succat Patricus, in his post-mortem captivity, was renamed Patrick, and today is commonly known as St. Patrick of Ireland. The most well known Baptist missionary of Ireland is once again a captive.
The first kidnapping was by pagan pirates, and the second by a different flavour of pirates: the false Roman Catholic religion. But Succat was never affiliated in any way with Rome, his doctrine entirely contrary to the apostate Romish church. Patrick was long in his grave before the first catholic monastery was established in Ireland.
Patrick is called a saint by Rome. He was not a Roman Catholic but indeed a saint in accordance to Scripture, but no more a saint than any other born again believer that has ever lived. When a lost sinner is regenerated and given new life in the Lord Jesus Christ through repentant faith in Him, he at that very moment becomes a saint: Rom 1:7; 15:25-26; 1 Cor 6:2; 14:33; Heb 13:24; Ju 1:3; Rev 15:3; 19:8, so that every person that has been truly converted to Christ (Is 55:1-7; Jn 3:3-7; Rom 3:10--5:22; Ti 3:3-7) is a saint from the very moment of salvation.
Patrick was a baptist through and through. He believed in personal conversion and justification by grace through repentant faith alone, without any works whatsoever. He only baptized by immersion. In church government he was a Baptist, established 365 autonomous self-governing churches consecrated the same number of pastors, and ordained 3,000 presbyters, all after the explicit instructions found in the New Testament. In his independence of creeds, councils, popes and bishops Patrick was a Baptist. He recognized no authority in creeds, however venerable, nor in councils, though composed of several hundred of the highest ecclesiastics alive. He never quotes any canons and he never took part in making any, notwithstanding the pretended canons of forgers. In his doctrine Patrick was a Baptist.
March 17th is the date said to be “St. Patrick’s” death in the 5th century (circa 461AD). Although the holiday originally started as a Christian day celebrating the life of Succat Patricus and Christianity coming to Ireland, today it is a day of ungodly revelry and gluttonous, drunken festivity, mixed with superstition.
Succat’s writings still exist today, and from them we know of his doctrine, faith, and practice, and that the scriptures alone were his sole rule of all matters of faith and practice — truly, and not hypocritically as we see so much today.
The entire island had been evangelized during his ministry, planting hundreds of Baptist churches, some of which still remained as late as 1635.
The vast majority of the innumerable biographies of Patrick are dishonest and duplicitous, distorting who he really was, evident by his own writings. His real name was actually Succat Patricus, not St. Patrick, and he was never a Catholic emissary and he didn’t become a saint because Rome made him one, but rather because God made him one by converting his ungodly and wretched soul, as is the case with any sinner.
“And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32).
And now you know the rest of the story.
The real Patrick was a born again Bible-studying, Bible-believing, Bible-preaching Baptist missionary and it was the unadulterated pure Gospel of God’s Son that lifted the Irish out of the darkness of paganism into the glorious light of the Truth.
For further reading, consider the informative sermon “St. Patrick was a Baptist” by pastor John Summerfield Wimbish, delivered at the Calvary Baptist Church of NY City on Mar 12, 1952, which was delivered just a few days before the historic St. Patrick’s Day parade in NY that saw 95,000 participants and estimated 1,500,000 spectators. I haven’t been able to find audio copy of it, but below, under Addendum 2, is a written copy of that sermon, actually distributed in that day in the form of a tract.
Alternatively, here is a Sermon by Richard Bennett, who is Irish and an ex-Roman Catholic priest convert to Christ: “Recovering the faith of Patrick that the Irish knew for 700 years”
Have you been born again like Succat Patricus was?
There are many professing believers in our world but very few are truly and genuinely saved. Many profess it but very few possess it (Jn 2:23-25; 6:60-66). Jesus, God the Son, would know this better than anyone since He does the saving, and He said (to people professing to be saved, professing to belong to Him):
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and MANY there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it.” (Matt 7:13-14).
To the question that was asked, “Lord, are there few that be saved?” the Lord Jesus responded:
“Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Lk 13:23-24).
Have you strived to enter in? Most are not striving to get in. They pray a prayer or make a profession of sorts that conforms to the Bible, sometimes even religion that appears very close to the truth, almost indistinguishable from the truth, but that is precisely how Satan, who comes as “an angel of light,” does his work and his ministers appearing as “ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor 11:12-15).
People are not seeking the Lord while He may be found. The answer of Christ in Lk 13:24 fits with the parable of the soils. Hard hearts, superficial hearts, and worldly hearts will not receive the saving message in a saving fashion, though they profess to attain to it. And that answer fits with what Paul wrote in 1 Cor 3:7: “Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." The ones planting and watering are nothing, even though many “pastors” and lay persons make themselves as something, even to the point of impersonating the behaviour of one Diotrephes (3 Jn 1:9-11).
You are irrelevant to the results — you just sow and water. If you faithfully do that and many don’t strive to get in, if they don’t want to find it (Mt 7:14), then it's not going to happen. If you sow and water with a corrupted gospel that excludes true repentance and Christ’s Lordship, you will win false professing “believers” — feigned wayward, stony and thorny soil. If you faithfully sow good seed (the seed is not one of the differentiating factors in the parable of soils, so true believers, like Christ, sow good seed), you might not see any growth. Jesus Himself was not welcome by entire villages or towns,
“For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.” (Jn 4:44).
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. . . . Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Is 55:1, 6-7).
The following is Patricks personal testimony in his own words.
THE CONFESSION OF PATRICK
Translated from Latin by Ludwig Bieler
I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful, and utterly despised by many. My father was Calpornius, a deacon, son of Potitus, a priest, of the village Bannavem Taburniæ; he had a country seat nearby, and there I was taken captive.
I was then about sixteen years of age. I did not know the true God. I was taken into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of people---and deservedly so, because we turned away from God, and did not keep His commandments, and did not obey our priests, who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought over us the wrath of his anger and scattered us among many nations, even unto the utmost part of the earth, where now my littleness is placed among strangers.
And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and be converted with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my abjection, and mercy on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son.
Hence I cannot be silent---nor, indeed, is it expedient---about the great benefits and the great grace which the lord has deigned to bestow upon me in the land of my captivity; for this we can give to God in return after having been chastened by Him, to exalt and praise His wonders before every nation that is anywhere under the heaven.
Because there is no other God, nor ever was, nor will be, than God the Father unbegotten, without beginning, from whom is all beginning, the Lord of the universe, as we have been taught; and His son Jesus Christ, whom we declare to have always been with the Father, spiritually and ineffably begotten by the Father before the beginning of the world, before all beginning; and by Him are made all things visible and invisible. He was made man, and, having defeated death, was received into heaven by the Father; and He hath given Him all power over all names in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess to Him that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe, and whose advent we expect soon to be, judge of the living and of the dead, who will render to every man according to his deeds; and He has poured forth upon us abundantly the Holy Spirit, the gift and pledge of immortality, who makes those who believe and obey sons of God and joint heirs with Christ; and Him do we confess and adore, one God in the Trinity of the Holy Name.
For He Himself has said through the Prophet: Call upon me in the day of thy trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. And again He says: It is honourable to reveal and confess the works of God.
Although I am imperfect in many things, I nevertheless wish that my brethren and kinsmen should know what sort of person I am, so that they may understand my heart's desire.
I know well the testimony of my Lord, who in the Psalm declares: Thou wilt destroy them that speak a lie. And again He says: The mouth that belieth killeth the soul. And the same Lord says in the Gospel: Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it on the day of judgement.
And so I should dread exceedingly, with fear and trembling, this sentence on that day when no one will be able to escape or hide, but we all, without exception, shall have to give an account even of our smallest sins before the judgement of the Lord Christ.
For this reason I had in mind to write, but hesitated until now; I was afraid of exposing myself to the talk of men, because I have not studied like the others, who thoroughly imbibed law and Sacred Scripture, and never had to change from the language of their childhood days, but were able to make it still more perfect. In our case, what I had to say had to be translated into a tongue foreign to me, as can be easily proved from the savour of my writing, which betrays how little instruction and training I have had in the art of words; for, so says Scripture, by the tongue will be discovered the wise man, and understanding, and knowledge, and the teaching of truth.
But of what help is an excuse, however true, especially if combined with presumption, since now, in my old age, I strive for something that I did not acquire in youth? It was my sins that prevented me from fixing in my mind what before I had barely read through. But who believes me, though I should repeat what I started out with?
As a youth, nay, almost as a boy not able to speak, I was taken captive, before I knew what to pursue and what to avoid. Hence to-day I blush and fear exceedingly to reveal my lack of education; for I am unable to tell my story to those versed in the art of concise writing---in such a way, I mean, as my spirit and mind long to do, and so that the sense of my words expresses what I feel.
But if indeed it had been given to me as it was given to others, then I would not be silent because of my desire of thanksgiving; and if perhaps some people think me arrogant for doing so in spite of my lack of knowledge and my slow tongue, it is, after all, written: The stammering tongues shall quickly learn to speak peace.
How much more should we earnestly strive to do this, we, who are, so Scripture says, a letter of Christ for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth, and, though not an eloquent one, yet...written in your hearts, not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God! And again the Spirit witnesses that even rusticity was created by the Highest.
Whence I, once rustic, exiled, unlearned, who does not know how to provide for the future, this at least I know most certainly that before I was humiliated I was like a stone Lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up, and raised me aloft, and placed me on the top of the wall. And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity---benefits which the mind of men is unable to appraise.
Wherefore, then, be astonished, ye great and little that fear God, and you men of letters on your estates, listen and pore over this. Who was it that roused up me, the fool that I am, from the midst of those who in the eyes of men are wise, and expert in law, and powerful in word and in everything? And He inspired me---me, the outcast of this world---before others, to be the man (if only I could!) who, with fear and reverence and without blame, should faithfully serve the people to whom the love of Christ conveyed and gave me for the duration of my life, if I should be worthy; yes indeed, to serve them humbly and sincerely.
In the light, therefore, of our faith in the Trinity I must make this choice, regardless of danger I must make known the gift of God and everlasting consolation, without fear and frankly I must spread everywhere the name of God so that after my decease I may leave a bequest to my brethren and sons whom I have baptised in the Lord---so many thousands of people.
And I was not worthy, nor was I such that the Lord should grant this to His servant; that after my misfortunes and so great difficulties, after my captivity, after the lapse of so many years, He should give me so great a grace in behalf of that nation---a thing which once, in my youth, I never expected nor thought of.
But after I came to Ireland---every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed---the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains; and I used to get up for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm, and there was no sloth in me---as I now see, because the spirit within me was then fervent.
And there one night I heard in my sleep a voice saying to me: `It is well that you fast, soon you will go to your own country.' And again, after a short while, I heard a voice saying to me: `See, your ship is ready.' And it was not near, but at a distance of perhaps two hundred miles, and I had never been there, nor did I know a living soul there; and then I took to flight, and I left the man with whom I had stayed for six years. And I went in the strength of God who directed my way to my good, and I feared nothing until I came to that ship.
And the day that I arrived the ship was set afloat, and I said that I was able to pay for my passage with them. But the captain was not pleased, and with indignation he answered harshly: `It is of no use for you to ask us to go along with us.' And when I heard this, I left them in order to return to the hut where I was staying. And as I went, I began to pray; and before I had ended my prayer, I heard one of them shouting behind me, `Come, hurry, we shall take you on in good faith; make friends with us in whatever way you like.' And so on that day I refused to suck their breasts for fear of God, but rather hoped they would come to the faith of Jesus Christ, because they were pagans. And thus I had my way with them, and we set sail at once.
And after three days we reached land, and for twenty-eight days we travelled through deserted country. And they lacked food, and hunger overcame them; and the next day the captain said to me: `Tell me, Christian: you say that your God is great and all-powerful; why, then, do you not pray for us? As you can see, we are suffering from hunger; it is unlikely indeed that we shall ever see a human being again.’
I said to them full of confidence: `Be truly converted with all your heart to the Lord my God, because nothing is impossible for Him, that this day He may send you food on your way until you be satisfied; for He has abundance everywhere.' And, with the help of God, so it came to pass: suddenly a herd of pigs appeared on the road before our eyes, and they killed many of them; and there they stopped for two nights and fully recovered their strength, and their hounds received their fill for many of them had grown weak and were half-dead along the way. And from that day they had plenty of food. They also found wild honey, and offered some of it to me, and one of them said: `This we offer in sacrifice.' Thanks be to God, I tasted none of it.
That same night, when I was asleep, Satan assailed me violently, a thing I shall remember as long as I shall be in this body. And he fell upon me like a huge rock, and I could not stir a limb. But whence came it into my mind, ignorant as I am, to call upon Helias? And meanwhile I saw the sun rise in the sky, and while I was shouting `Helias! Helias' with all my might, suddenly the splendour of that sun fell on me and immediately freed me of all misery. And I believe that I was sustained by Christ my Lord, and that His Spirit was even then crying out in my behalf, and I hope it will be so on the day of my tribulation, as is written in the Gospel: On that day, the Lord declares, it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.
And once again, after many years, I fell into captivity. On that first night I stayed with them, I heard a divine message saying to me: `Two months will you be with them.' And so it came to pass: on the sixtieth night thereafter the Lord delivered me out of their hands.
Also on our way God gave us food and fire and dry weather every day, until, on the tenth day, we met people. As I said above, we travelled twenty-eight days through deserted country, and the night that we met people we had no food left.
And again after a few years I was in Britain with my people. who received me as their son, and sincerely besought me that now at last, having suffered so many hardships, I should not leave them and go elsewhere.
And there I saw in the night the vision of a man, whose name was Victoricus, coming as it were from Ireland, with countless letters. And he gave me one of them, and I read the opening words of the letter, which were, `The voice of the Irish'; and as I read the beginning of the letter I thought that at the same moment I heard their voice---they were those beside the Wood of Voclut, which is near the Western Sea---and thus did they cry out as with one mouth: `We ask thee, boy, come and walk among us once more.’
And I was quite broken in heart, and could read no further, and so I woke up. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord gave to them according to their cry.
And another night---whether within me, or beside me, I know not, God knoweth---they called me most unmistakably with words which I heard but could not understand, except that at the end of the prayer He spoke thus: `He that has laid down His life for thee, it is He that speaketh in thee'; and so I awoke full of joy.
And again I saw Him praying in me, and I was as it were within my body, and I heard Him above me, that is, over the inward man, and there He prayed mightily with groanings. And all the time I was astonished, and wondered, and thought with myself who it could be that prayed in me. But at the end of the prayer He spoke, saying that He was the Spirit; and so I woke up, and remembered the Apostle saying: The Spirit helpeth the infirmities of our prayer. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings, which cannot be expressed in words; and again: The Lord our advocate asketh for us.
And when I was attacked by a number of my seniors who came forth and brought up my sins against my laborious episcopate, on that day indeed was I struck so that I might have fallen now and for eternity; but the Lord graciously spared the stranger and sojourner for His name and came mightily to my help in this affliction Verily, not slight was the shame and blame that fell upon me! I ask God that it may not be reckoned to them as sin.
As cause for proceeding against me they found---after thirty years!---a confession I had made before I was a deacon. In the anxiety of my troubled mind I confided to my dearest friend what I had done in my boyhood one day, nay, in one hour, because I was not yet strong. I know not, God knoweth---whether I was then fifteen years old: and I did not believe in the living God, nor did I so from my childhood, but lived in death and unbelief until I was severely chastised and really humiliated, by hunger and nakedness, and that daily.
On the other hand, I did not go to Ireland of my own accord. not until I had nearly perished; but this was rather for my good, for thus was I purged by the Lord; and He made me fit so that I might be now what was once far from me that I should care and labour for the salvation of others, whereas then I did not even care about myself.
On that day, then, when I was rejected by those referred to and mentioned above, in that night I saw a vision of the night. There was a writing without honour against my face, and at the same time I heard God's voice saying to me: `We have seen with displeasure the face of Deisignatus' (thus revealing his name). He did not say, `Thou hast seen.' but `We have seen.' as if He included Himself, as He sayeth: He who toucheth you toucheth as it were the apple of my eye.
Therefore I give Him thanks who hath strengthened me in everything, as He did not frustrate the journey upon which I had decided, and the work which I had learned from Christ my Lord; but I rather felt after this no little strength, and my trust was proved right before God and men.
And so I say boldly, my conscience does not blame me now or in the future: God is my witness that I have not lied in the account which I have given you.
But the more am I sorry for my dearest friend that we had to hear what he said. To him I had confided my very soul! And I was told by some of the brethren before that defence---at which I was not present, nor was I in Britain, nor was it suggested by me---that he would stand up for me in my absence. He had even said to me in person: `Look, you should be raised to the rank of bishop!'---of which I was not worthy. But whence did it come to him afterwards that he let me down before all, good and evil, and publicly, in a matter in which he had favoured me before spontaneously and gladly---and not he alone, but the Lord, who is greater than all?
Enough of this. I must not, however, hide God's gift which He bestowed upon me in the land of my captivity; because then I earnestly sought Him, and there I found Him, and He saved me from all evil because---so I believe---of His Spirit that dwelleth in me. Again, boldly said. But God knows it, had this been said to me by a man, I had perhaps remained silent for the love of Christ.
Hence, then, I give unwearied thanks to God, who kept me faithful in the day of my temptation, so that today I can confidently offer Him my soul as a living sacrifice---to Christ my Lord, who saved me out of all my troubles. Thus I can say: `Who am I, 0 Lord, and to what hast Thou called me, Thou who didst assist me with such divine power that to-day I constantly exalt and magnify Thy name among the heathens wherever I may be, and not only in good days but also in tribulations?' So indeed I must accept with equanimity whatever befalls me, be it good or evil, and always give thanks to God, who taught me to trust in Him always without hesitation, and who must have heard my prayer so that I, however ignorant I was, in the last days dared to undertake such a holy and wonderful work---thus imitating somehow those who, as the Lord once foretold, would preach His Gospel for a testimony to all nations before the end of the world. So we have seen it, and so it has been fulfilled: indeed, we are witnesses that the Gospel has been preached unto those parts beyond which there lives nobody.
Now, it would be tedious to give a detailed account of all my labours or even a part of them. Let me tell you briefly how the merciful God often freed me from slavery and from twelve dangers in which my life was at stake---not to mention numerous plots, which I cannot express in words; for I do not want to bore my readers. But God is my witness, who knows all things even before they come to pass, as He used to forewarn even me, poor wretch that I am, of many things by a divine message.
How came I by this wisdom, which was not in me, who neither knew the number of my days nor knew what God was? Whence was given to me afterwards the gift so great, so salutary---to know God and to love Him, although at the price of leaving my country and my parents?
And many gifts were offered to me in sorrow and tears, and I offended the donors, much against the wishes of some of my seniors; but, guided by God, in no way did I agree with them or acquiesce. It was not grace of my own, but God, who is strong in me and resists them all---as He had done when I came to the people of Ireland to preach the Gospel, and to suffer insult from the unbelievers, hearing the reproach of my going abroad, and many persecutions even unto bonds, and to give my free birth for the benefit of others; and, should I be worthy, I am prepared to give even my life without hesitation and most gladly for His name, and it is there that I wish to spend it until I die, if the Lord would grant it to me.
For I am very much God's debtor, who gave me such grace that many people were reborn in God through me and afterwards confirmed, and that clerics were ordained for them everywhere, for a people just coming to the faith, whom the Lord took from the utmost parts of the earth, as He once had promised through His prophets: To Thee the gentiles shall come from the ends of the earth and shall say: `How false are the idols that our fathers got for themselves, and there is no profit in them'; and again: `I have set Thee as a light among the gentiles, that Thou mayest be for salvation unto the utmost part of the earth.’
And there I wish to wait for His promise who surely never deceives, as He promises in the Gospel: They shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob---as we believe the faithful will come from all the world.
For that reason, therefore, we ought to fish well and diligently, as the Lord exhorts in advance and teaches, saying: Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men. And again He says through the prophets: Behold, I send many fishers and hunters, saith God, and so on. Hence it was most necessary to spread our nets so that a great multitude and throng might be caught for God, and that there be clerics everywhere to baptize and exhort a people in need and want, as the Lord in the Gospel states, exhorts and teaches, saying: Going therefore now, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world. And again He says: Go ye therefore into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned. And again: This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all nations, and then shall come the end. And so too the Lord announces through the prophet, and says: And it shall come to pass, in the last days, saith the Lord, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And upon my servants indeed, and upon my handmaids will I pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And in Osee, He saith: `I will call that which was not my people, my people; ...and her that had not obtained mercy, one that hath obtained mercy. And it shall be in the place where it was said: ``You are not my people,'' there they shall be called the sons of the living God.’
Hence, how did it come to pass in Ireland that those who never had a knowledge of God, but until now always worshipped idols and things impure, have now been made a people of the Lord, and are called sons of God, that the sons and daughters of the kings of the Irish are seen to be monks and virgins of Christ?
Among others, a blessed Irishwoman of noble birth, beautiful, full-grown, whom I had baptized, came to us after some days for a particular reason: she told us that she had received a message from a messenger of God, and he admonished her to be a virgin of Christ and draw near to God. Thanks be to God, on the sixth day after this she most laudably and eagerly chose what all virgins of Christ do. Not that their fathers agree with them: no---they often ever suffer persecution and undeserved reproaches from their parents; and yet their number is ever increasing. How many have been reborn there so as to be of our kind, I do not know---not to mention widows and those who practice continence.
But greatest is the suffering of those women who live in slavery. All the time they have to endure terror and threats. But the Lord gave His grace to many of His maidens; for, though they are forbidden to do so, they follow Him bravely.
Wherefore, then, even if I wished to leave them and go to Britain---and how I would have loved to go to my country and my parents, and also to Gaul in order to visit the brethren and to see the face of the saints of my Lord! God knows it! that I much desired it; but I am bound by the Spirit, who gives evidence against me if I do this, telling me that I shall be guilty; and I am afraid of losing the labour which I have begun---nay, not I, but Christ the Lord who bade me come here and stay with them for the rest of my life, if the Lord will, and will guard me from every evil way that I may not sin before Him.
This, I presume, I ought to do, but I do not trust myself as long as I am in this body of death, for strong is he who daily strives to turn me away from the faith and the purity of true religion to which I have devoted myself to the end of my I life to Christ my Lord. But the hostile flesh is ever dragging us unto death, that I is, towards the forbidden satisfaction of one's desires; and I know that in part I did not lead a perfect life as did the other faithful; but I acknowledge it to my! Lord, and do not blush before Him, because I lie not: from the time I came to know Him in my youth, the love of God and the fear of Him have grown in me, and up to now, thanks to the grace of God, I have kept the faith.
And let those who will, laugh and scorn---I shall not be silent; nor shall I hide the signs and wonders which the Lord has shown me many years before they came to pass, as He knows everything even before the times of the world.
Hence I ought unceasingly to give thanks to God who often pardoned my folly and my carelessness, and on more than one occasion spared His great wrath on me, who was chosen to be His helper and who was slow to do as was shown me and as the Spirit suggested. And the Lord had mercy on me thousands and thousands of times because He saw that I was ready, but that I did not know what to do in the circumstances. For many tried to prevent this my mission; they would even talk to each other behind my back and say: `Why does this fellow throw himself into danger among enemies who have no knowledge of God?' It was not malice, but it did not appeal to them because---and to this I own myself---of my rusticity. And I did not realize at once the grace that was then in me; now I understand that I should have done so before.
Now I have given a simple account to my brethren and fellow servants who have believed me because of what I said and still say in order to strengthen and confirm your faith. Would that you, too, would strive for greater things and do better! This will be my glory, for a wise son is the glory of his father.
You know, and so does God, how I have lived among you from my youth in the true faith and in sincerity of heart. Likewise, as regards the heathen among whom I live, I have been faithful to them, and so I shall be. God knows it, I have overreached none of them, nor would I think of doing so, for the sake of God and His Church, for fear of raising persecution against them and all of us, and for fear that through me the name of the Lord be blasphemed; for it is written: Woe to the man through whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed.
For although I be rude in all things, nevertheless I have tried somehow to keep myself safe, and that, too, for my Christian brethren, and the virgins of Christ, and the pious women who of their own accord made me gifts and laid on the altar some of their ornaments and I gave them back to them, and they were offended that I did so. But I did it for the hope of lasting success---in order to preserve myself cautiously in everything so that they might not seize upon me or the ministry of my service, under the pretext of dishonesty, and that I would not even in the smallest matter give the infidels an opportunity to defame or defile.
When I baptized so many thousands of people, did I perhaps expect from any of them as much as half a scruple? Tell me, and I will restore it to you. Or when the Lord ordained clerics everywhere through my unworthy person and I conferred the ministry upon them free, if I asked any of them as much as the price of my shoes, speak against me and I will return it to you.
On the contrary, I spent money for you that they might receive me; and I went to you and everywhere for your sake in many dangers, even to the farthest districts, beyond which there lived nobody and where nobody had ever come to baptize, or to ordain clergy, or to confirm the people. With the grace of the Lord, I did everything lovingly and gladly for your salvation.
All the while I used to give presents to the kings, besides the fees I paid to their sons who travel with me. Even so they laid hands on me and my companions, and on that day they eagerly wished to kill me; but my time had not yet come. And everything they found with us they took away, and me they put in irons; and on the fourteenth day the Lord delivered me from their power, and our belongings were returned to us because of God and our dear friends whom we had seen before.
You know how much I paid to those who administered justice in all those districts to which I came frequently. I think I distributed among them not less than the price of fifteen men, so that you might enjoy me, and I might always enjoy you in God. I am not sorry for it---indeed it is not enough for me; I still spend and shall spend more. God has power to grant me afterwards that I myself may be spent for your souls.
Indeed, I call God to witness upon my soul that I lie not; neither, I hope, am I writing to you in order to make this an occasion of flattery or covetousness, nor because I look for honour from any of you. Sufficient is the honour that is not yet seen but is anticipated in the heart. Faithful is He that promised; He never lieth.
But I see myself exalted even in the present world beyond measure by the Lord, and I was not worthy nor such that He should grant me this. I know perfectly well, though not by my own judgement, that poverty and misfortune becomes me better than riches and pleasures. For Christ the Lord, too, was poor for our sakes; and I, unhappy wretch that I am, have no wealth even if I wished for it. Daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity, or whatever it may be; but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty, who rules everywhere, as the prophet says: Cast thy thought upon God, and He shall sustain thee.
So, now I commend my soul to my faithful God, for whom I am an ambassador in all my wretchedness; but God accepteth no person, and chose me for this office---to be, although among His least, one of His ministers.
Hence let me render unto Him for all He has done to me. But what can I say or what can I promise to my Lord, as I can do nothing that He has not given me? May He search the hearts and deepest feelings; for greatly and exceedingly do I wish, and ready I was, that He should give me His chalice to drink, as He gave it also to the others who loved Him.
Wherefore may God never permit it to happen to me that I should lose His people which He purchased in the utmost parts of the world. I pray to God to give me perseverance and to deign that I be a faithful witness to Him to the end of my life for my God.
And if ever I have done any good for my God whom I love, I beg Him to grant me that I may shed my blood with those exiles and captives for His name, even though I should be denied a grave, or my body be woefully torn to pieces limb by limb by hounds or wild beasts, or the fowls of the air devour it. I am firmly convinced that if this should happen to me, I would have gained my soul together with my body, because on that day without doubt we shall rise in the brightness of the sun, that is, in the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as sons of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be made conformable to His image; for of Him, and by Him, and in Him we shall reign.
For this sun which we see rises daily for us because He commands so, but it will never reign, nor will its splendour last; what is more, those wretches who adore it will be miserably punished. Not so we, who believe in, and worship, the true sun---Christ---who will never perish, nor will he who doeth His will; but he will abide for ever as Christ abideth for ever, who reigns with God the Father Almighty and the Holy Spirit before time, and now, and in all eternity. Amen.
Behold, again and again would I set forth the words of my confession. I testify in truth and in joy of heart before God and His holy angels that I never had any reason except the Gospel and its promises why I should ever return to the people from whom once before I barely escaped.
I pray those who believe and fear God, whosoever deigns to look at or receive this writing which Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, has composed in Ireland, that no one should ever say that it was my ignorance if I did or showed forth anything however small according to God's good pleasure; but let this be your conclusion and let it so be thought, that---as is the perfect truth---it was the gift of God. This is my confession before I die.
St. Patrick was a Baptist
Pastor John Summerfield Wimbish, D.D.
The source for this record is a 1952 tract, published by the Calvary Radio Ministry, New York City, New York. It was part of the library of the late Elder Jarrel E. Huffman, pastor of the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, Duncan, Oklahoma from 1978 until 1997. Every attempt has been made to preserve the style and structure of the original tract, although some formatting concessions were made to facilitate this medium.
~ August, 1997
A word about the message:
The sermon, "St. Patrick was a Baptist," was delivered to a thronged congregation at the Calvary Baptist Church of New York City by the pastor, Dr. John Summerfield Wimbish, on March 12, 1952, just a few days before the phenomenal St. Patrick's Day parade.
On the historic day 95,000 people marched up New York's fashionable Fifth Avenue and an estimated 1,500,000 spectators lined the streets. On the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral stood Cardinal Spellman and other ecclesiastics to witness the spectacle. Further up Fifth Avenue, the reviewing stand bore such dignitaries as Mayor and Mrs. Vincent Impellitteri, former Postmaster General James A. Farley and scores of city and state officials and military and church leaders.
The message was offered to a world-wide radio audience and there has been an unprecedented demand for it.
SAINT PATRICK WAS A BAPTIST
After a cautious and critical study of reputable writings, I am thoroughly convinced that Patrick was not affiliated in any way with the Roman hierarchy.
It is indeed magnanimous of our Catholic friends to give this humble missionary of ours such prominence on their scroll of illustrious saints. Think of it: they have even erected cathedrals in his honor. However, we feel it is time to sweep the cobwebs of superstition and the dust of legend off this dear old preacher of the Cross.
To most of us, Patrick is a mythical being, vaguely associated with a serpent exodus from the Emerald Isle. Other misconceptions are that he was Irish, that he was an emissary of the Pope and that his name was Patrick. All these are false. He was not Irish, he was in his honoured grave 175 years before his name was even mentioned in Catholic writings* and his real name was Sucat, which means "warlike" in Modern Welsh. (1) For the sake of simplicity, throughout this message we will refer to him as Patrick.
Let us consider first of all,
I. Patrick's History
The libraries of the world contain innumerable biographies of Patrick which we cannot accept as valid. An examination of the facts will reveal that the honored historians of the hierarchy have not always been characterized by honesty, and during the Middle Ages such a web of superstition was spun around this evangelistic zealot that his real self has been distorted in the minds of millions. Most of these traditions and myths may be found in the seven ancient lives of Patrick, assembled and published in 1647 under the title Trias Thaumaturga.
There are two documents by Patrick which are recognized by all parties as being genuine: his "Confession" or "Epistle to the Irish" and his epistle to the Christians under the cruel king, Coroticus. Then too, we should mention the Lorica or Hymn of Patrick, originally written in Latin and known as The Breastplate. These authentic writings in an irrefutable way support our convictions concerning the Apostle to the Irish.
Patrick, in his own "Confession" tells us that he was a Briton, not an Irishman. He first saw the light of day in the town of Dumbarton on the River Clyde in the south of Scotland about the year 389 A.D. His father was a Christian deacon and his grandfather a clergyman in the ancient church of Britain, which had never come under the yoke of Rome. These facts in themselves practically crush the claims of the papacy.
At sixteen years of age, our hero was captured by a band of Scottish slave-dealing pirates who sold him to the Druid chieftain, Milcho, who reigned in the north of Ireland. For six years Patrick herded the cattle of this ruthless pagan chieftain. In his "Confession" he tells us: "When I was a youth, I was taken captive before I knew what I should desire or seek, or what I ought to shun."
It was during this time of servitude in the bleak forests of northern Ireland that Patrick turned from his frivolous ways and came into a knowledge of Christ as his own personal Saviour. Of that period he says, "Frequently in the night I prayed and the love of God and His fear increased more and more in me." Possibly it was while a hidden onlooker of the weird Druid ceremonies that he was inspired of God to become a missionary to these heathen people.
He relates how, after six years, he managed to escape from his master and, after a tortuous journey over sea and land, returned to his people in Britain. It must have been a beautiful homecoming as his mother embraced him once again and his father, in amazement, learned of the lad's experiences. They had long before given him up as dead.
Like the great apostle Paul, he received a clear and personal "Macedonian call" from the Lord of harvest to preach the Gospel in the land of his former captivity. Patrick described his call in these words:
"Again, I was in Britain with my parents, who received me as their son, and besought me to promise that, after the many afflictions I had endured, I would never leave them again. And then, truly, in the bosom of the night I saw a man as if coming from Ireland, whose name was Victoricus, with numerous letters, one of which he gave me, and I read the beginning of the epistle, containing the Voice of the Irish.
And while I was reading the beginning of the epistle I thought in my mind that I heard the voice of those who were near the wood Focluti, which is near the western sea. And they shouted thus: 'We beseech thee, holy youth, to come and live amongst us.' And I was greatly pained in my heart, and could not read very much more; and thus I was proved. Thank God, that after many years the Lord performed to them according to their entreaty."
From these words it is evident that his call to go as a missionary to Ireland was not from any Pope or representative of the Roman Church. If our hero has been an agent of Rome, surely Popes Sixtus or Leo, who were his contemporaries, would have informed the Roman constituency of the astounding work being performed by Patrick and his co-laborers.
Dr. J. Lewis Smith, in his scholarly treatise, "Patrick of Ireland Not A Romanist," says,
"We have in hand now 140 letters of Pope Leo the Great and we have not found a line written by him or any other Pope or any other man rejoicing over the wonderful additions to the Roman Church by Patrick and his disciples." (2)
Patrick, like Paul, "had the mighty ordination of the nail-pierced hands." The Book of Darrow, one of the oldest of Irish manuscripts, says nothing about his being an ecclesiastic of Rome and in his letter to the Christians under Coroticus and in his "Confession" Patrick makes no mention whatsoever of his being consecrated as a diocesan bishop.
Dr. Hamilton, in his book, "The Irish Church," says this of Patrick's confession letter:
"There is not a faint Roman tinge about it. It is . . . thoroughly evangelical." And Dr. Todd says: "The confession of St. Patrick contains not a word of a mission from the Pope Celestine." (3)
We are certain that Patrick was a product of the Celtic Church, noted for its purity of Biblical doctrine, and not an "obsequious tool of the Romish system." Yes, we are positive that Patrick's call to go to "Ireland as a missionary was from God Himself and not from Pope Celestine.
This leads us to examine
II. Patrick's Mission.
At forty years of age, the amazing Patrick began his magnificent work on the Emerald Isle. His mission field was wild and primitive. The people who inhabited its primeval forests were animists and they worshiped such things as trees and stones and wells. They believed that spirits dwelt in these idols and they sacrificed their little children on heathen alters to appease the gods and to secure, so they thought, better harvests.
About a year after his arrival in Ireland, Patrick did something that called much attention to his ministry. The Encyclopedia Brittanica tells us that he challenged the "royal authority by lighting the Paschal fire on the hill of Slane on the night of Easter Eve. It chanced to be the occasion of a pagan festival at Tara, during which no fire might be kindled until the royal fire had been lit." (4)
Ah, this should put iron in our blood! Glorious, audacious Patrick challenged all the forces of hell. Not a little flame did he kindle, but a bonfire! All the people were transfixed and King Loigaire was amazed at his daring and said: "If we do not extinguish this flame it will sweep over all Ireland." This prophecy proved true for it seemed that a holy fire fell from the altar of heaven and for years there were such tears of repentance as have seldom been witnessed by the angels of glory.
When the flames of the great conflagration on Tara's hill, ignited by Patrick, illumined the countryside, the king was curious to see what kind of mortal this Patrick could be, and he sent for him. The druid priests were infuriated and declared they would destroy the preacher by sorcery if he dared to come.
But in the dim light of that Easter morn, in the year 428 A.D., the valiant hero of the Cross and his assistant missionaries marched boldly into the presence of the monarch and told him that Christ was the light of the world and preached Jesus crucified and risen from the dead with such persuasive eloquence that the king was born again by the Spirit of the living God.
We are told that Patrick and his company advanced toward the Irish sovereign arrayed in white and carrying crosses and singing the evangelist's hymn in all its majestic cadence:
"I bind to myself today
The strong power of the invocation of the Trinity;
The faith of the Trinity in unity;
The Creator of the elements.
"I bind to myself today,
The power of the incarnation of Christ
With that of His baptism;
The power of His crucifixion
With that of His burial;
The power of the resurrection
With (THAT OF) the ascension;
The power of His coming
To the sentence of judgment . . .
"I bind to myself today,
The power of God to guide me,
The might of God to uphold me,
The wisdom of God to teach me,
The eye of God to watch over me,
The ear of God to hear me,
The Word of God to give me speech,
The hand of God to protect me,
The way of God to prevent me,
The shield of God to shelter me,
The host of God to defend me,
Against the snares of demons
Against the temptations of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who would injure me
Whether far or near;
Whether few or many.
"I have set around me all these powers,
Against every hostile, savage power
Directed against my body and my soul;
Against the incantations of false prophets,
Against the black laws of heathenism,
Against the false laws of heresy,
Against the deceits of idolatry,
Against the spells of women, and smiths, and Druids.
Against all knowledge that blinds the soul of man.
"Christ protect me today,
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wound,
That I may receive abundant reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right hand, Christ at my left,
Christ in the fort (when I am at home),
Christ in the chariot-seat (when I travel),
Christ in the ship (when I sail).
Of the Lord is salvation;
Christ is salvation;
With us ever be
Thy salvation, O Lord!
"Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks to me;
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me." (5)
After the king believed, Patrick won and baptized multiplied thousands of converts and ere his thirty-three years of ministry were finished, all Ireland was evangelized. Innumerable churches dotted its hills and valleys and from their ranks sent forth zealous missionaries to proclaim the message of redemption with incomparable passion to the pagan tribes of Scotland, England, Germany and Gaul.
In his second lecture on Ireland, John L. Stoddard states: "During the sixth, seventh and eighth centuries, especially, this farthest boundary of the Continent held aloft and kept aflame the torch of Christian faith, and glittered like a star upon the dark horizon of the western world." (6)
Even so cautious and reliable a historian as Green, in his "Short History of the English Bible," says:
"For a time it seemed as if the course of the world's history was to be changed; as if that older Celtic race which the Roman and German had swept before them had turned to the moral conquest of their conquerors; as if Celtic and not Latin Christianity was to mould the destinies of the Church of the West." (7)
This was the beginning of the golden age of Ireland. It is forever true that when the Holy Word of God is opened and preached to the people, the chains of illiteracy and vice are broken.
The real Patrick was a Bible-reading, Bible-believing, Bible-preaching missionary and it was the unadulterated Gospel of the Son of God that lifted the Irish out of the darkness of paganism into the glorious light of the Truth.
Hands that once grasped the sword were now folded reverently in prayer. The heathen stone idols, known as Cromlechs, that once marked their graves gave way to the cross of Jesus. Druid paganism was crushed and the "buffer state of Europe" became known as the "Isle of Saints."
Odriscol, who, incidentally, was an Irish Catholic, in his work entitled, "Views of Ireland," says: "The Christian church of that country, as founded by St. Patrick and his predecessors, existed for many ages, free and unshackelled. For 700 years this church maintained its independence. It had no connection with England and differed on points of importance with Rome." (8)
It was not until the year 1172 A.D., at the Council of Cashel, that Henry II of England and the Pope prevailed over this people and another great victory was won for the Roman Catholic hierarchy. But from the days of Patrick to the fateful Council of Cashel, many glorious victories were won for the cause of Christ by the Irish Christians.
Study the pathetic history and you will be as firmly convinced as I that Catholicism has been more guilty of blighting the Irish than the invasion of the Danes from the North or the failure of the potato crop in which one-fourth of its entire population was destroyed. It takes no student of world economy to discover that wherever the Vatican holds sway the masses are kept in superstition and poverty. Stoddard says that: "Some terrible vampire has, for a thousand years, been draining the life blood of Ireland," and he attributes it to the geographical location of the little isle. But if any person will, with unbiased mind, examine the record, he will be thoroughly assured that an intellectual and spiritual gloom settled upon the Emerald Isle when Romanism kidnapped the Irish Church.
Then I would refer you to.....
III. Patrick's Theology.
You will notice that throughout the sermon I have not labelled him "Saint" Patrick. We Baptists do not refer to our preachers as "saints."
None of the many volumes in my library and others at my disposal sheds any light on the beatification and canonization of the "Patron Saint of Ireland." So, as a final resort to secure this information, one of our staff members called the research librarian of one of the leading Catholic universities in our city. He was very gracious but after searching through The Catholic Encyclopedia, the Dictionary of Saints, and several other volumes, he reported that Patrick was neither beatified nor canonized for it was not until about the 1200's that the Papal Bull was issued which set forth the requirements for Sainthood. Consequently, Patrick, along with Augustine and others, was engulfed by the Romish system without the formalities usually attendant such procedures.
Realizing that at least four miracles must be accredited to a candidate for this exalted position, our worker probed further to discover what miracles Patrick had performed, whereupon the librarian said: "Well, the only miracle I could find was that on one Easter day shamrocks sprang from a wound in his body. If that actually happened, it was a miracle!" And our staff member replied, tongue in cheek: "Yes, if that actually happened, it certainly was a miracle!"
The Roman Catholic Church down through the years has been very adept at "saint-making," but this old preacher was certainly not one of them. "I, Patrick, a sinner" -- that is the way the "Patron Saint of Ireland" begins his own "Confession." He starts his letter to Coroticus in the same striking manner.
The late Dr. Ironside reminds us,
"Whatever others may have thought of him or may think of him today, Patrick knew himself as a sinner and found salvation where only sinners find it, in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ." (9)
Rome's most notorious theft was when she seized bodily the apostle Peter and made him to be the infallible head and founder of her system of error. Imagine Peter, who in humility said to Cornelius: "Stand up, I myself also am a man," placed on a pedestal as "Vicar of God on Earth." It would have been exceedingly difficult to convince Peter of his infallibility shortly after he heard the cock crow.
But surely alongside the theft of Peter stands this brazen act of Catholicism -- that of enrolling the great missionary preacher of Ireland among her saints. He is pictured for us as a croziered and mitered Roman prelate, whereas his own words show us he was far removed from such pretensions. This is the way Patrick speaks:
"I knew not the true God . . . The Lord opened the understanding of my unbelief . . . I was not worthy . . . Love of God and fear of Him increased more and more . . . By the help of God so it came to pass . . . Because of His indwelling Spirit who hath worked in me until this day . . . Let who will laugh and insult . . . Though I be rude in all things . . . I baptize so many thousands of men . . . the Lord ordained clergy everywhere by means of my mediocrity . . . The Lord is mighty to grant to me afterward to be myself spent for your souls."
How humble, how deeply spiritual was Patrick. And though we as Baptists may not agree with every method he used, we do know he cherished all the leading principles that we accept.
Whereas the Roman Church dates its beginnings from the day when Jesus Christ said: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church," we know that the hierarchy was not set up until many years later when the Emperor Constantine looked with favor upon Christianity.
For four centuries after the resurrection of Jesus the fire of God had spread. It was a period of glory and conquest. The preaching of the Cross was overcoming the world. There was bitter persecution but the blood of the martyrs was the the seed of the Church. But then Constantine and Theodosius wedded the Roman Empire to Christianity and made it the state religion. That was one of Satan's greatest triumphs and one of the worst calamities that has ever befallen the Church of the Living God. That was the beginning of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.
Now, when did Baptists begin? No exact date can be set and we are proud of that. Some say we came into being with John Smyth in the year 1611. It is true that the title "Baptist" was not affixed to our churches until about that time; however, all of us know that there were many Democrats before Thomas Jefferson was ever born, but the Democratic Party began with that great exponent of democracy.
In order to consummate the adulterous union between the Roman Empire and the Christian Church, Constantine, in the year 313 A.D., invited the churches to send their representatives to a council. Although many groups accepted, thank God there were some churches that did not respond. The people called "Baptist," that is, those who remained faithful to Christ and spurned the Emperor's proposal, never entered that unholy wedlock.
We as Baptists claim that the principles of our church date back to that day when the "heavens were opened" and a "voice from heaven" said: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." As someone has well said: "Baptists have no founder but Jesus and were born the day He stood with John the Baptist in the Jordan River. They recognize no human authority, no human creed. Their faith was functioning before the Pope came to Rome. They were Protestant before the Reformation or Luther was born."
Permit me to parallel the beliefs of Patrick and those of the Baptist Church.
1. BAPTISTS RECOGNIZE CHRIST JESUS AS THEIR HEAD AND FOUNDER. "He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he might have preeminence." (Col. 1:18) As far as I know, we are the only group of Christians who holds that Jesus, during His personal ministry, constituted His Church.
Patrick was a Baptist. No one can read his writings, especially the "Breastplate," without knowing that he exalted Christ and secured his authority from Him. Christ was all in all to him. Have no fear, this old warrior of the Faith never bowed the knee to mortal man.
2. BAPTISTS ACCEPT THE BIBLE AS THE ONLY RULE OF FAITH AND PRACTICE. They believe that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." (II Tim. 3:16) To them, the Bible is the final authority. Baptists know that the real sword of the true Church is not the keen Damascus blade that pierces the vitals and severs the head of the non-believer but it is, as Paul told the Ephesians, "The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Eph. 6:17)
Patrick was a Baptist. It was the sword of the Spirit he wielded against the pagan Druids. His writings overflow with Scripture. One hundred thirteen references or quotations from Holy Writ may be found in his two epistles and his alphabetical poem and, incidentally, there is never a mention of the merits of saints, salvation by sacraments, the Eucharist, relics or holy places, and you will search in vain for any superstitious teaching about the Virgin Mary and the heathenish doctrine of purgatory.
3. THE POLITY OF THE BAPTIST CHURCH IS CONGREGATIONAL -- THAT IS, ALL MEMBERS EQUAL. "One is your master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren." (Matt. 23:8). Patrick was a Baptist. Any scholar worthy of the name, making an impartial study, will tell you that his form of church government was not diocesan and emphatically not papal. Our hero preached the Gospel from the Word of God, established an indigenous church, baptized believers and ordained clergymen.
Patrick was also "Baptistic" when it came to the matter of
4. REPENTANCE, FAITH AND CONVERSION BEFORE BAPTISM. In the "Tripartite Life of Patrick," the author marks this quotation concerning Patrick's views of the great commission of our Lord. He says: "Go, ye, teach. Meet is the order of teaching, before baptism. For it cannot be that the body, receive the sacrament of baptism, before the soul receives the verity of faith." (10)
Patrick was a Baptist. Like them he believed
5. ONLY IMMERSION IS BAPTISM. There is no intimation anywhere in Patrick's writings that he baptized infants, but there is mention of the fact that he immersed adults. Patrick, like the Baptists of this modern day, followed the New Testament mode of baptism by immersion. A great scholar, Dr. William Cathcart, in his Baptist Encyclopedia, says: "There are strong reasons for believing Patrick was a Baptist missionary and it is certain that his Baptism was immersion." (11)
Now, if we could journey to the Emerald Isle today, we could show you the Wells of Talmah in which he baptized many converts, sometimes thousands in a day. Thomas Moore, in his history of Ireland says: "The convert saw in the baptismal fount where he was immersed the sacred well at which his fathers worshipped."
No less an authority than Archbishop Usher says: "Patrick baptized his converts in Dublin, including Alpine, the king's son, in a well near Saint Patrick Church, which in after ages became an object of devotion." (12)
Patrick, himself, was immersed in one of these fountains. The "Tripartite Life of Patrick" says: "A Church moreover was founded over that well in which Patrick was baptized, and there stands the well (fountain) by the altar." (13)
Patrick was a Baptist. Yes, our Catholic friends have given this early missionary-evangelist of ours a rather exalted place in their galaxy of ecclesiastics but in doing so they have denied him his rightful place in history as a valiant apostle of the true Christian faith.
If there is any Irishman whose memory is more revered than that of Patrick it is Daniel O'Connell, the great "Liberator." The impressive monument erected in his honor stands in Dublin today. It consists of a fine statue of O'Connell, beneath which Erin, freed from her chains, is represented as grasping with one hand the Act of Emancipation while with the other she points upward to the figure of her "Liberator." As O'Connell brought political freedom to Ireland so Patrick brought spiritual freedom. Would that another Patrick could arise today and, with an open Bible, thunder forth against the bigotry and superstition that hold multitudes enslaved.
* In correspondence with the Abbot of Iona, an Irish Catholic, by the name of Cummian, in 634 A.D., spoke of the "Cycle of our Holy Father Patrick."
1. Encyclopedia Brittanica, Vol. 17, Copyright 1946, P. 383.
2. Smith, J. Lewis, Patrick of Ireland Not a Romanist, Associated Printing Co., Stockton, Calif., 1924, P. 10.
4. Encyclopedia Brittanica, P. 383.