The Personal Testimony of John Clarke was written in the summer of 1651 during his trial in Boston for holding an unlawful church service in the home of William Whittier in Lynn, MA. It is the first written defense of the Baptist faith in colonial America.
The Testimony of John Clarke a prisoner of Jesus Christ at Boston, in the behalf of my Lord, and of His people, is as follows:
1. I testify that Jesus of Nazareth, whom God has raised from the dead, is made both Lord and Christ. This Jesus I say, is the Christ [which] in English [is] the anointed One, has a Name above every name; He is the anointed Priest, [and] none [compares] to [Him], or with him in point of atonement; [He is] the anointed Prophet, [and] none [compares] to him in point of instruction; [He is] the anointed King, who is gone unto His Father for His glorious Kingdom, and shall ere long return again; and that this Jesus Christ is also the Lord, [and] none [compares] to [Him], [or] with Him by way of commanding and ordering (with respect to the worship of God) the household of Faith, which being purchased with His blood as Priest, instructed, and nourished by His Spirit as Prophet, do wait in His appointment as He is the Lord, in hope of that glorious Kingdom which shall ere long appear.
2. I testify that baptism, or dipping in water, is one of the commandments of this Lord Jesus Christ. A visible believer, or disciple of Christ Jesus, that is, one that manifests repentance towards God, and faith in Jesus Christ, is the only person that is to be baptized, or dipped with that visible baptism, or dipping of Jesus Christ in water. That visible person is to walk in that visible order of His House, and so to wait for His coming the second time in the form of a Lord, and King, with His glorious Kingdom according to promise; and for His sending down, in the time of His absence, the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit of Promise. All this is according to the last will and Testament of that living Lord, whose will is not to be added to, or taken from.
3. I testify or witness that every such believer in Christ Jesus, that waits for His appearing, [waits] in point of liberty, yea ought in point of duty to improve that talent his Lord has given unto him. Moreover, in the congregation [he] may either ask for information [for] himself or, if he can, may speak by way of prophecy for the edification, exhortation, and comfort of the whole. And out of the congregation at all times, upon all occasions, and in all places, as far as the jurisdiction of his Lord extends may (yea ought to walk) as a child of light, justifying wisdom with his ways, and reproving folly with the unfruitful works thereof, provided all this be shown out of a good conversation, as James speaks with meekness of wisdom.
4. I testify that no such believer, or servant of Christ Jesus has any liberty, much less authority, from his Lord, to smite his fellow servant, nor yet with outward force, or arm of flesh, to constrain, or restrain his conscience, no nor yet his outward man for conscience sake, or worship of his God, wherein injury is not offered to the person, name or estate of others. Every man, being such as shall appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and [who] must give an account of himself to God, therefore, he ought to be fully persuaded in his own mind, for what he undertakes, because he that doubts is damned if he eat, and so also if he act, because he does not eat or act in Faith, and what is not of Faith is sin.