john Smith must already have been middle aged when in 1609 he did a strange thing. He baptised himself.
That was in Holland, where he had gone, with like-minded radical Puritans, and, it is supposed, his wife and two daughters, having broken with the Church of England. He had taken a degree at Christ’s College Cambridge and been ordained a priest by the Bishop of Lincoln, perhaps in 1594.
In Holland he found no church to join, so founded his own, which was to be constituted by breaking up the church fellowship he enjoyed and starting again. After baptising himself anew, he baptised his followers.
In the Old Testament, “Every master of a family administered the Passover to himself and all of his family,” he argued by way of justification in a little book, The Character of the Beast, published a year later. “A man cannot baptise others into the Church himself being out of the Church, therefore it is lawful for a man to baptise himself together with others in communion.”
This was such a peculiar position that it either shocked or amused most of his contemporaries.
— Reclaiming the Piazza (@PiazzaThe) January 11, 2020