By Clarence Walker
Dr. J. M. Carroll, the author of this book, was born in the state of
Arkansas, January 8, 1858, and died in Texas, January 10, 1931. His
father, a Baptist preacher, moved to Texas when Brother Carroll was six
years old. There he was converted, baptized, and ordained to the Gospel
ministry. Dr. Carroll not only became a leader among Texas Baptist, but an
outstanding figure of Southern Baptists, and of the world.
Years ago he came to our church and brought the messages found in this
book. It was then I became greatly interested in Brother Carroll's
studies. I, too, had made a special research in Church History, as to
which is the oldest Church and most like the churches of the New
Dr. J. W. Porter attended the lectures. He was so impressed he told
Brother Carroll if he would write the messages he would publish them in a
book. Dr. Carroll wrote the lectures and gave Dr. Porter the right to
publish them along with the chart which illustrates the history so
vividly. However, Dr. Carroll died before the book came off the press, but
Dr. Porter placed them before the public and the whole edition was soon
sold. Now, by the grace of God, we are able to present this 66th edition
of 20,000. I want to ask all who read and study these pages to join me in
prayer and work that an ever-increasing number shall go forth.
"To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the
beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by
Christ Jesus; to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in
Heavenly places might be known by the Church, the manifold wisdom of
God ... unto Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all
world without end, Amen."
(Eph. 3:9-10, 21)
It was wonderful to hear Dr. Carroll tell how he became interested in the
history of the different denominations -- ESPECIALLY THEIR ORIGIN. He
wrote the book after he was 70 years old, but he said, "I was converted
unto God when I was just a boy. I saw the many denominations and wondered
which was the church the Lord Jesus founded."
Even in his youth he felt that in the study of the Scriptures and history,
he could find the church which was the oldest and most like the churches
described in the New Testament.
This research for the truth led him into many places and enabled him to
gather one of the greatest libraries on church history. This library was
given at his death to the Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas.
He found much church history--most of it seemed to be about the Catholics
and Protestants. The history of Baptists, he discovered, was written in
blood. They were the hated people of the Dark Ages. Their preachers and
people were put into prison and untold numbers were put to death. The
world has never seen anything to compare with the suffering, the
persecutions, heaped upon Baptists by the Catholic Hierarchy during the
Dark Ages. The Pope was the world's dictator. This is why the
Ana-Baptists, before the Reformation, called the Pope The Anti-Christ.
Their history is written in the legal documents and papers of those ages.
It is through these records that the "TRAIL OF BLOOD" winds its way as you
find such statements--
"At Zurich, after many disputations between Zuinglius and the
Ana-Baptists, the Senate made an Act, that if any presume to re-baptize
those who were baptized before (i.e. as infants) they should be drowned.
At Vienna many Ana-Baptists were tied together in chains that one drew the
after him into the river, wherein they were all suffocated (drowned)."
(Vida Supra, p. 61)
"In the year of our Lord 1539 two Ana-Baptists were burned beyond
Southwark, and a little before them 5 Dutch Ana-Baptists were burned in
Smithfield," (Fuller, Church History)
"In 1160 a company of Paulicians (Baptists) entered Oxford. Henry II
ordered them to be branded on the forehead with hot irons, publicly
whipped them through the streets of the city, to have their garments cut
short at the girdles, and be turned into the open country. The villages
were not to
afford them any shelter or food and they perished a lingering death from
cold and hunger." (Moore, Earlier and Later Nonconformity in Oxford, p.
The old Chronicler Stowe, A.D. 1533, relates:
"The 25th of May--in St. Paul's Church, London--examined 19 men and 6
women. Fourteen of them were condemned; a man and a woman were burned at
Smithfield, the other twelve of them were sent to towns there to be
burned." Froude, the English historian, says of these Ana-Baptist
"The details are all gone, their names are gone. Scarcely the facts seem
worth mentioning. For them no Europe was agitated, no court was ordered in
mourning, no papal hearts trembled with indignation. At their death the
world looked on complacent, indifferent or exulting. Yet here, out of 25
poor men and women were found 14, who by no terror of stake or torture
could be tempted to say they believed what they did not believe. History
has for them no word of praise, yet they, too, were not giving their blood
in vain. Their lives might have been as useless as the lives of most of
us. In their death they assisted to pay the purchase of English freedom."
Likewise, in writings of their enemies as well as friends, Dr. Carroll
found, their history and that theirtrail through the ages was indeed
Cardinal Hosius (Catholic, 1524), President of the Council of Trent:
"Were it not that the baptists have been grievously tormented and cut off
with the knife during the past twelve hundred years, they would swarm in
greater number than all the Reformers." (Hosius, Letters, Apud Opera, pp.
112, 113.) The "twelve hundred years" were the years preceding the
Reformation in which Rome persecuted Baptists with the most cruel
Sir Isaac Newton:
"The Baptists are the only body of known Christians that have never
symbolized with Rome."
"Before the rise of Luther and Calvin, there lay secreted in almost all
the countries of Europe
persons who adhered tenaciously to the principles of modern Dutch
Edinburg Cyclopedia (Presbyterian):
"It must have already occurred to our readers that the Baptists are the
same sect of Christians that were formerly described as Ana-Baptists.
Indeed this seems to have been their leading principle from the time of
Tertullian to the present time." Tertullian was born just fifty years
after the death of the Apostle John.
Baptists do not believe in Apostolic Succession. The Apostolic office
ceased with the death of the Apostles. It is to His churches that He
promised a continual existence from the time He organized the first one
during His earthly ministry until He comes again. He promised:-
"I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against
Then, when He gave the great Commission, which tells what His churches are
to do, He promised:-
"I will be with you alway, even unto the end of the age." (Matt. 28:20)
This Commission -- this work -- was not given to the Apostles as
individuals, but to them and the others present in their church capacity.
The Apostles and the others who heard Him give this Commission were soon
dead -- BUT, His Church has lived on through the ages, making disciples
(getting folks saved), baptizing them, and teaching the truth -- the
doctrines -- He committed to the Jerusalem Church. These faithful churches
have been blessed with His presence as they have traveled the TRAIL OF
This history shows how the Lord's promise to His churches has been
fulfilled. Dr. Carroll shows that churches have been found in every age
which have taught the doctrines He committed unto them. Dr. Carroll calls
these doctrines the "marks" of New Testament Churches.
"MARKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH"
1.Its Head and Founder--CHRIST. He is the law-giver; the Church is only
(Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:18)
2.Its only rule of faith and practice--THE BIBLE. (II Tim. 3:15-17)
3.Its name--"CHURCH," "CHURCHES." (Matt. 16:18; Rev. 22:16)
4.Its polity--CONGREGATIONAL--all members equal. (Matt. 20:24-28; Matt.
5.Its members--only saved people. (Eph. 2:21; I Peter 2:5)
6.Its ordinances--BELIEVERS' BAPTISM, FOLLOWED BY THE LORD'S SUPPER.
7.Its officers--PASTORS AND DEACONS. (I Tim. 3:1-16)
8.Its work--getting folks saved, baptizing them (with a baptism that meets
all the requirements of God's Word), teaching them ("to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you").
9.Its financial plan--"Even so (TITHES and OFFERINGS) hath the Lord
ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel," (I
10.Its weapons of warfare--spiritual, not carnal. (II Cor. 10:4; Eph.
11.Its independence--separation of Church and State. (Matt. 22:21)
In any town there are many different churches -- all claiming to be the
true church. Dr. Carroll did as you can do now -- take the marks, or
teachings, of the different churches and find the ones which have these
marks, or doctrines. The ones which have these marks, or doctrines, taught
in God's Word, are the true churches.
This, Dr. Carroll has done, to the churches of all ages. He found many had
departed from "these marks, or doctrines." Other churches, however, he
found had been true to these marks" in every day and age since Jesus said,
"I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against
"I will be with you alway, even unto the end of the age."