How the Earliest Baptist Historians Used Confessions and Assemblies in Their Narrative Histories

The first narrative historians of the English Baptists, Thomas Crosby (1683–1751) and Joseph Ivimey (1773–1834), used Baptist assemblies and confessions in their histories to call Baptists of their own days to unity, but did so in different ways and with different goals. In order to minimize the theological and social differences between Particular and General Baptists, Crosby downplayed the significance of the First and Second London Confessions and the assemblies of the 1690s. Writing seventy years later to consolidate support for the struggling Baptist Union, Ivimey framed the London confessions and assemblies as exemplars of the unity and anti-High Calvinist doctrine that Particular Baptists should pursue. Both Crosby’s and Ivimey’s histories testify to the allure of using historical confessions to make contemporary points.