Historic Unity In The Christ’s Assembly
THE HEBREW CULDEE VICTORY AGAINST THE BRITISH
(The Good News of the Kingdom) Have you heard of the miraculous victory of the Battle of Monmouth courthouse? It was marked as the turning point in the War of Independence against the British. There was something going on at Monmouth among the churches, which I believe brought up a fire of protection for the people there. There was a very strong Christian unity that went across denominational boundaries, all sharing in the same communion cup and bread.
Today let us go back in time to consider the least spoken of, but perhaps the most influential church that was located at the battlefield of Monmouth, New Jersey. Yes at the spot where the turning point in the revolutionary war for independence occurred and the local Citizen Militia single handedly beat down the British Regular Army on the open battlefield. The non-Army Militiamen stood and fought, even when General Lee removed all US Army troops from the battle before it started. George Washington saw this victory with his own eyes. Many of us have heard of the lady “Molly Pitcher”, who brought the men water. She helped hold the lines when men fell, and she fired the canons. General George Washington found and reprimanded Lee in the most grievous manner in front of all the troops, and Lee was even Court Marshaled right there; and relieved of command! Congressional investigation of his conduct on the battlefield records he was court marshaled for treasonous conduct, but that wasn’t going to hold back the true unknown heroes of this battle.
You’ll be surprised what kind of spark, what kind of unity was going on that that caused such a local community to stand up and win against all odds. Most of the units of the New Jersey Militia also came out of Monmouth County, and then it was also called Shrewsbury, that took up a large part of the area. This great “Battle of Monmouth Courthouse”, is not the purpose of this article, but rather the unity among the local denominations. I will cite the evidence of unity among the denominations, and who was at the heart of it.
Let us analyze the small Seventh Day Baptist congregation in Monmouth New Jersey, who’s Pastor was on the high council “Revolutionary War Committee” for directing the war in that corner of New Jersey. He was joined by the head Pastor of the Presbyterian church, and additional members of the Seventh Day Baptist church were also on the committee. In recent years, this portion of Shrewsbury, (Monmouth County) where the church resided was renamed to “Wall Township”, and in their records it states: “In a northwestern location, a group of Seven Day Baptists settled on Hurley’s Corner (near Highway 34 and West Hurley Pond Road) about 1728 under the guidance of Peter Knott.” In other records it has been confirmed: “..the Seventh Day Baptists had erected a house of worship on a lot of land near Hurley’s Corners, which was taken up by Peter Knott as early as 1720.” (Source: History of Monmouth County, New Jersey 1664-1920, p. 485.) This same Peter Knott was also listed as an Elder in the Presbyterian church, as well as his son David Knott, who kept the SDB church going on his land for the rest of his life and married his family in with both the Presbyterian and generations later the family still married Seventh Day Baptist, and again are confirmed being Seventh Day Baptist in Ohio in the late 1800’s, and in each generation thereafter unto this present day holding the inter-denominational tradition of Sabbath and Presbyterianism. This Elder/Pastor David Knott was also chosen to be on the committee of observation by the Continental Congress, and appointed to the sub committee consisting of three members who prepared instructions that were taken to the Congress at Trenton. The minutes of the Continental Congress show he specifically participated in the watching of and blockading of enemy ships, as well as calling for the local men of the area to militia to duty, their provisions, etc. They passed acts to disarm the blacks, but providing them with receipts to claim them back after the war. They passed rulings to post notices against vaccinations during those years of the 1700’s, etc.
You may find it hard to believe that you can be a leader of the Seventh Day Baptist Church and also registered as an elder in a Presbyterian church, but let me quote you directly from the actual foundational records and practices of this Presbyterian church. Peter Knott is given credit as a main founder of this Presbyterian church with a plaque of him up inside the present existing church today.
Originally royally appointed to govern the area, these men and those governing Monmouth all descended from the Scottish rite of the original Culdee Hebrew Priests. The genealogies, religious covering, Apostolic Succession, governance practice, and countless government records solidify these facts. Peter Knott married off his firstborn daughter to the ruling Elder or “Pastor” of the Shrewsbury Presbyterian church, the Judge and Col. John Little. He was Presiding Judge with the highest legal position in the land. He was of a high education, was Royally appointed to his office as Judge. It was he who obtained the first Charter from the King to start the first Presbyterian church. As per Culdee and Scottish Apostolic practice, his sons after him also were also appointed Judges and ordained as Priests. Some went as far as to be Governors and congressmen. They did so with full knowledge of their true Culdee Apostolic faith and practice. This was exercised in their governance practice and within their church as God has ordained.
This same Presbyterian church holds the oldest seal and motto which was granted by the King. The motto reads, “Proclaiming Religious Liberty”. So this shows that motto didn’t start with one denomination called “the Seventh Day Adventist church” like many would have thought! It started with 7th day Baptists and Presbyterians of the original Scottish Culdee Hebrews. However, the fact that it also the corporate motto of the Seventh Day Adventists, it may be more than coincidence.
“In 1785, Thomas succeed his father as Elder in the Presbyterian churches in Shrewsbury and Shark River, New Jersey. Because their church had been badly damaged in the War, as previously noted, the Presbyters were invited to hold services in the Christ’s Episcopal Church at Shrewsbury” (G. H. Nevus, History, 1st Presbyterian Church, Shrewsbury, New Jersey, p. 5).
“One of the consequences of the Revolution was a kindlier feeling which was engendered between the patriots of Christ’s Church and their neighbors of the Presbyterian meeting house. The Holmes, the Denis, and the Russels of the one found in the Littles, the Drummonds, the Breese and others of the Presbyterian Church, men like themselves, imbued with the spirit of liberty. Thomas Little, a ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church, was for several years a member of the vestry of Christ’s Church, Shrewsbury.” (James Steen, History of Christ’s Church, Shrewsbury, p. 75; History– Old Tennant Church, Symmes, 1904 Edition. Note:Old-Tennant Church is the original Presbyterian Church in Shrewsbury)
What a major evidence of unity, that the head Pastor Thomas Little, was a member of the vestry of a different denomination! What humbling practice of unity!
Not only did General Baptists of Shrewsbury have a spirit of Unity in the area, but as we see very clearly, even the Episcopalians were on this great unity parade! Not only do countless records show the Seventh Day Baptist Congregation called Christ’s Assembly, but also the neighboring Episcopal and Presbyterian churches used that name as well! We also have records they all shared their communion cups whether they believed Sabbath was Saturday or Sunday. Like most denominations church services held both on Saturday and Sunday. Some have maintained this more orthodox than others.
After all the major damage of the war, David Knott is listed as donating money to help rebuild the Christ Church at Shark’s river, and also on record as helping rebuild the Presbyterian church. Though his father Peter Knott was founder of the Seventh Day Baptist church in the 1720’s, it is recorded in 1758 in the Shrewsbury Presbyterian church: that
“Know all men by these presents that I, David Knott, of Shrewsbury in the County of Monmouth and the Province of New Jersey, Yeoman, am holder and firmly bound unto the trustees of the Presbyterian Church of Monmouth County and their successors and assigns or certain attorney: to the which payment well and truly to be made I do bind myself and my heirs. Executors and administrators and everyone of them firmly by these presents. Sealed with my seal dated the sixth day of July in the thirty-second year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Second by the Grace of God of Great Briton, France and Ireland. King . . . Anno Domini One Thousand and Seven Hundred and Fifty Eight. 1758.” (source: “Silent Men” by Fannie Johnson Landes, and New Aberdeen, Or, The Scotch Settlement of Monmouth County, New Jersey” By James Steen.) In the Pew Plans of the Tennent Presbyterian church dated 1754, pew number 43 is assigned to Ruling Elders John Little and Peter Knott to share. Inside the Presbyterian Church is a special rubbing of the gravestone of Peter Knott, born 1682. Yes the same Peter Knott accredited with founding the Seventh Day Baptist church there in the 1720’s, has his own plaque inside this church, and is recorded as a supporter of all the surrounding churches. His firstborn son David Knott had state Legislator Dr. Henderson , who was an elder in the Old Scottish Trenton Episcopal church. He and his firstborn son Peter Knott be the administrators of his estate at his death.
It is clear, the founding fathers of our great nation followed a deep unity in Christ. As you can see many of these dates go well before the war, and the unity after was just a continuation. These churches resided almost on the very spot of the battlefield that marked the turning point in the American Revolutionary War of Independence. The Spiritual protection came from the deeply entrenched belief in Jesus Christ, and for His lawful governance in the older faith of the Hebrew Culdees of Scotland. This the bond of unity in Christ and His law was the is the greatest strength for any town. We should encourage more denominations coming together under the banners of the older faith!
I hope all of our readers were able to pull from this something new, and are able to reflect on our forefather’s wisdom. May we all live up to this example and pattern of churches in Revolutionary Monmouth County New Jersey.
This congregation of Shrewsbury(Monmouth), and of the many splinter churches that preceded them in faith and practice would call themselves “The Christ’s Assembly”. That is his one church , no matter the denominational name. This one church of persecuted Hebrew Culdees were driven out of most of England’s pulpits and were forced to incorporate as “dissenter”, “baptist” and “congregationalist” names. Some descent was retained within Bishops of the Scottish church and later Presbyterian, Irish Catholic, Irish Protestant, and Anglican priests in Apostolic Succession. The Christ’s Assembly and the Culdee claims physical and spiritual heritage from the early 1500’s General Baptists of England. Within the oldest recorded church with the name “Baptist” in England, it was under the Pastorship of a family of Knotts for at 200 years, unto it’s oldest records. It was called the Eythorne Baptist Church. This is well recorded throughout the centuries of persecutions; such members that were martyred included Joan Bocher, who was burned at the stake on 2 May 1550. These General Bapists made covenanants and compacts together, and delivered these to the king, that were consistant with our beliefs today. Especially that they were Sabbath keepers. The 1660 Baptist Confession also outlines the entire Hebrew calendar in their beliefs. With these beliefs they had always kept a unity with each other no matter the persecution, whether from Rome, the Anglican church, or from various governments. The English persecutions and martyrdoms which followed created quite the Protestant Neo-Culdee movement which changed and made much of the world we live in today.
Denominations in the area of Monmouth, whether Episcopal, Seventh Day Baptist, or Presbyterian all used the same prayer book, the Book of Common Prayer. This prayerbook has worship services for all seven days of the week. The hebrew calendar is in all the older prayerbooks even used by George Washington. Israel heritage is not only scriptural and historical, but the practices have been retained even in the prayer and song books. The Israelite feasts are in the prayerbooks, and the Bible we all claim to follow. Laws have been passed in nearly every century to stop the practice of Sabbath-keeping, not because it wasn’t popular. However, still much pointing to our heritage does remain. Today in many European countries the Hebrew holy days are National Holidays and are mandatory for paid vacation.
“In Monmouth County the Presbyterians formed the hard cord of rebellion against the British. The British officials in America constantly complained that the uprising against the English was “a Presbyterian plot”.” (Twin Rivers by Wildes, p.59)