In the early decades of the seventeenth century the English church was undergoing a drastic metamorphosis. The spread of the Reformation from the continent to England, the succession of English rulers, and the increasing availability of literature produced an ever-shifting political, sociological, and theological environment. Within this context, a “Puritan” movement sought to reform the Church of England and bring its credenda and agenda into line with the Scriptures, abandoning what the Puritans considered to be the traditions of men.
In this context of dissent and separation, the Particular Baptists emerged not just from the Church of England, but more specifically from semi-separatist Independents. Thus, when the Particular Baptists applied their Puritan zeal to infant baptism they were reforming themselves first and foremost, and then calling the larger English church to remove what they saw as unreformed tradition.
This context is extremely important. The literature of the Particular Baptists in the seventeenth century shows very little in the realm of systematic theology. The Particular Baptists did not attempt to develop a new system of doctrine. They agreed with the theology advocated by the Reformers in general and the Separatists in particular. But they considered these very principles to lead naturally to their Baptist conclusions. Particular Baptist writings on covenant theology reflect this context. They did not write complete expositions or extensive treatises of the covenants. There was no need. They wrote polemically against key features within paedobaptist theology, particularly positive law and the differences between the old and the new covenants.