Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Has anyone here read The Pilgrim Church by E.H. Broadbent? It seems to be in the same realm as Trail of Blood - claiming that there were always "true believers" (i.e. Baptists or Brethren) down through the ages that were persecuted by the historic Church (usually identified as the Roman Catholic Church which started with Constantine).
The theory's rubbish, right?
Yes, there have always been heretical sects formed by rogue priests and renegade teachers, since the very beginning, the Nicolations mentioned by Christ to Saint John in the Revelations. Sometimes Protestants like to connect themselves with some of these heretical groups, other times they wouldn't dare. The truth is there is no continuous heretical movement or chain of heresies which is a kind of pseudo-Apostolic succession for Protestants. Perhaps the Cathars who were chased out of Europe to England and then to the Americas as the Pilgrims could be considered the oldest lineage of Protestant-heretical connections. The "Good Men" did in a way revive aspects of Donatism, but there is hardly any historical continuity..