Page images
PDF
EPUB

239

SUPPLEMENT

TO

CHAPTERS III. and IV. and of VOL. V.

SECT. I.

The History of the Baptists continued. THE history of the Baptists, from the accession of James II. to the Revolution, is confined to some brief accounts of the sufferings and characters of several ministers who were in estimation among them, and died in this period.

But we should first mention one, whose name should have been introduced in the preceding reign : Mr. Abraham Chear, a native of Plymouth, who, though he did not enjoy a liberal education, knew the scriptures from his childhood, and delighted in searching them. About 1648 he was baptised, and joined the baptist church in that town, and was soon after invited to be their pastor, for which character he was fitted by peculiar gifts and graces. In 1661 he suffered three months imprisonment in Exeter gaol, on the conventicle act. In 1662 he was, again, cast into that prison; after bis release he was imprisoned at the Guildhall in Plymouth; then, after a month's detention, he was confined, under military guard, in the isle of Plym. outh; wbere, after full five years imprisonment in different gaols, and enduring many inhumanities from merciless gaolers, he yielded up his spirit without pang or considerable groan, the fifth of March 1668. At his death the church consisted of 150 members. After this the persecution broke out with greater fury, and it suffered much till King James's declaration for liberty of conscience revived their drooping spirits, and were almost twenty years des-titute of a pastor.

Mr. Chear was a laborious and successful preacher. In his confinement he wrote several re

ligious tracts, and letters to his friends, full of christian ex: hortations to constancy and stedfastness.

One of these, an acknowledgment of some provisions sent to him and his fellow prisoners, most expressive of cheerfulness in their sufferings, and gratitude to their benefactors, is preserved by Croshy. During his illness, almost to his last moment, he continued glorifying God, and exhorting all who visited bim to perseverance in those perilous times; speakiog with earnest concern about the guilt contracted in these nations by persecuting God's faithfal servants; and with great joy and assurance concerning the delight which God takes in bis suffering saints, and the ample recompense he will bereafter render for their present sorrows; particularly on the Lord's day preceding his dissolution. About three hours before it, a friend perceiving him under great pres. sures, said softly to him, “ They looked unto the Lord, and were lightened : a right look will bring down relief under all difficulties.” “Yea,” he replied, with great strength and earnestness, "aud their faces were not asha

In the reign of James II. died, at Kelby in Leicestershire, where he was minister of a baptist congregation, Mr. Richard Farmer, the friend of Mr. Clarke and Mr. Shuttleworth, eminent ejected ministers in tbat county. He was an hard student and an affecting preacher, and frequently officiated among the Independents. He had a small estate to live upon, in which he suffered greatly for his religious principles, as distress was made by virtue of a justice's warrant upon his goods; and they took from him, in one year, to the value of one hundred and ten pounds.t

Another, who suffered much in this period for his ponconformity, and was several times prisoner at York, at Leeds, and at Chester, was Mr. Thomas Hardcastle, ejected from Bramham, in the county of York. He was born at Barwick upon Holm, and received his education under Mr. Jackson, of that town, a learned divine. He had not been long in the ministry, when the act of uniformity passed: he preached afterwards at Shadwell chapel and other

Thompson's Collections, MSS. and Crosby's History of the English Baptists, vol. iii. p. 11, 24.

+ Ibid. p. 118, 119.

med."*

places. He was a man of pregnant parts, eniinent learning and piety, of great moderation and catholicism, though of a bold spirit, which feared no danger. In 1671 he was, on the death of Mr. Ewins,* invited to be pastor of a congregation of baptists, who had separated from the establishment early in 1640, though they continued their attendance at sermon, but not at the prayers, in the parish cburela on the morning of every Lord's day, spending the afternoon and evening in religious exercises among themselves. Mr, Cann, the author of the marginal references to the bible, preached adult baptism to them, and settled them in church order, without making baptism a term of communion. On Mr. Hardcastle's settlement with them, they took four rooms on the Lamb pavement, Broadmead, and made them into one of sixteen yards long and fifteen broad. At Bristol he was sent to the house of correction ; he died suddenly, 20th of August 1678, universally lamented. He published one practical treatise.f He was succeeded by another ejected ipinister.

Mr. George Fownes, who settled with this society Sept, 16, 1679, finding the number of members, which amount

* Mr. Ewins was ejected from a living in Bristol : though he was no scholar, and had been a mechanic, Ire was esteemned as a judicious, methoilical preacher ; was remarkable for his meekness, patience and charity; in his ministerial duties he was populati, laborious and suecessful, ready to preach on most days when not otherwise employed; grave and serious every where, and full of good discourse. He was so scrupulous about maintenance, that he would accept no titles nor salary, birt only free gifts. The bishop of Bristol invited him to conform, but he could by no means be satisfied to comply. When, in 1654, he was invited by the separatists at Bristol, to become their minister-he was a padobaptist. About 1654, le embraced the opinions of the baptists, and was baptised iu London. In 1660 the members of his society were turned out of the churches, and in 1662 he was ordained their pastor. He went through a variety of persecutions, and was often in prison, once for a whole year, when he preached twice a day. There he contracted a lethargie distemper, of which he died, aged about six ty, in April 1670, greatly lamented. He was buried in St. James's church-yarı, April 29, and a vast concourse of people attended his funeral. He was sometimes abused in the streets, but would not attempt to retaliate ; for he said "Vengeance is God's; my duty is patience.” Palmer's Non. Conf. Mem. vol.ii. p. 551, and Thoinp. Col. Àss.

† Thompson's Collections, MSS. Crosby, vol iii. p. 27, 28; and Palmer's Non-conformists' Memorial, vol. ii. p. 557. Vol. V.

31

ed, when Mr. Hardcastle became their pastor, to a houdred, increased to 166, of which thirty-one were pædobaptists. Mr. Fownes was born in Shropshire, and received his classical education at Shrewsbury, where his.grand. son, the ingenious and learned Mr. Joseph Fownes, was for many years, a dissenting minister. His father dying he was sent to Cambridge. He was an able preacher, and a man of great learning, and was conversant in law, phy. sic, and other branches of science. He voluntarily quitted the parish church, before the restoration, though he continued preaching in different places till he fixed at Bristol. About the time of what was called the presbyterian plot, he was taken in the pulpit, and committed to Newgate ; but by virtue of a flaw in the mittimus, he was in six weeks removed by an habeas corpus to the King'sBench, and acquitted. He was afterwards apprehended on the highway in Kingswood, on suspicion of only coming from a meeting, and committed to Gloucester gaol, for refusing the corporation-oath, and riding within five miles of a corporation : witnesses were suborned to swear a riot against bim, though no other rioter was named in the bill; he pleaded his own cause very pleasantly; telling them, " that he and his borse could not be guilty of a riot without company;" and the jury brought in theis verdict, not guilty; yet he was returned back to prison; and refusing to give a bond for good behavior, of which he koer preaching would be interpreted to be a forfeiture, he was detained there for two years and a half, till God released him by death in December 1685. He was afflicted with the stone, and a physician declared “ that his confinement was his death; and that it was no less murder than if they had run him through the first day he came in, and more crue).”*

Apother eminent minister and writer among the baptists at this time, was Mr. Henry D'Anvers, a worthy man, unspotted life and conversation, a joint-elder of a baptist congregation at Aldgate, London; and author of A Treatise of Baptism," which drew bim into a controversy with Mr. Willis, Mr. Blinman, and Mr. Baxter, in whose writ

Palmer's Non-conformists' Memorial, vol. i. p. 243, &e. Crosby, vol. iii. p. 28, 29; and Thompson's Collections, MSS.

ings, if we may credit a letter published by Mr. D'Anvers, and sent to him by a person of quality, of known worth, ability, and moderation, “ there were more heat, passion, and personal reflections, than of reason, or a sober inquisition of trath." Mr. D'Anvers was descended from honorable parents, liis father being a gentleman who had an estate of 4001. a year; he himseif was governor of Stafford and a justice of peace, some time before Oliver's usurpation, and well beloved by the people. He was noted for one who would take no bribes. At Stafford he first embraced the opinions of the baptists.*

In 1687, May 14th, died Mr. Thomas Wilcox, minister of a congregation, which met before the plague at bis own house in Cannon-street; but afterwards at the Three Cranes in the Borough, Southwark ; and author of a popular little piece, which has been frequently reprinted, entitled * A Drop of Honey from the Rock, Christ." He was born at Linden, in the county of Rutland, August 1622 ; was several times confined in Newgate for nonconformity, and suffered very much. He was a moderate man, and of catholic principles, well beloved by all denominations, and frequently preached among the presby. terians and independents.

October 8, 1687, died, aged 53, Mr. John Gospold, who had been a scholar at the Charter-house, and a student at Pembroke-ball, Cambridge, a man of great learning and piety; a pious practical preacher, of singular modesty and moderation; intimately acquainted with Tillotson, wbose weekly lecture he used to attend, and was much esteemed and valued by other men of note and dignity in the estab. lished churcb, who kept up a correspondence with him.He was educated for the pulpit in the establisment, but by the act of uniformity made incapable of any settlement in it. He was chaplain to lord Grey. Having joined the baptists, he was chosen pastor of a congregation at Barbican, in London ; and was one of the ministers who subscribed the apology presented to Charles Il. on occasion of Venner's conspiracy. Though he was always peaceably minded, be was often forced to conceal himself. His

Crosby, vol. iii. p. 90.

« PreviousContinue »