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standing, in contempt of the holy sacrament of Baptism, so given or received, they have, of their own presumption, lately re-baptized themselves."*
It is evident, that notwithstanding Baptists were thus denounced by the royal proclamation, there were many who “ were baptized upon a profession of their faith,” and were consequently opposed to Infant Baptism.
The religious zeal of King Henry would, however, allow the Baptists no rest—either their conformity to a belief of the doctrines upon baptism as by law established, or their extirpation was determined upon; and, in the next year, 1538, "a commission was sent to Cranmer, Wakesly, Sampson, and others, to inquire after Anabaptists ; to proceed against
to restore the penitents; to burn their books; and to deliver the obstinate to the secular arm.” But Burnett says, “I have not seen what proceedings there were upon this.t It evinced, however, the persecuting spirit of the times, and drove many from the country.” Brandt, in his History of the Reformation, declares THAT BAPTISTS WERE OBLIGED TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY; he says, “in the year 1539 there were put to death, at Delf, one-and-thirty ANABAPTISTS that fled from England; the men were beheaded, and the women crowned.” In the same year, according to Fox, bis Protestant Majesty put forth a proclamation, wherein he condemned all the books of ANABAPTISTS. It runs thus—"That those who are in any errors, as Sacramentarians, anabaptists, or any others that sell books, shall be declared immediately to the king's majesty, or one of his privy council, to the intent, to have them punished without favour, EVEN WITH THE EXTREMITY OF THE LAW.”I
In December of that year, the religious zeal of the king against that sect was further manifested by his sending a letter to the justices in England; in which, after many other things, they are commanded to take care that all the injunctions, laws, and proclamations against Sacramentarians and ANABAPTISTS, BE DULY EXECUTED. In the act of grace, passed the same year, “Anabaptists” were excluded from its benefits !
Bishop Latimer, in a sermon preached before king Edward VI., alluding to the events of the reign of Henry VIII., says—“The Anabaptists that were burnt here in divers parts of England, as I heard of credible men (I saw them not myself,) went to their death even intrepid, as ye will say, without any fear in the world, cheerfully.
* History of Religion, vol. 2, p. 469.
* Martyrology, vol. 2, p. 440.
Also, I should have told you here of a certain sect of heretics, that speak against this order and doctrine (the king's supremacy); they will have no magistrates, no judges on earth. Then I have to tell you what I heard of late, by the relation of a credible person and worshipful man of a town of this realm of England, that hath above five hundred heretics of this erroneous opinion in it, as he said.”*
Ivimey observes upon the foregoing, “I cannot but think that these Anabaptists were Wyckliffites; and when it is considered how zealous this good bishop was in supporting the supremacy of the king, as the head of the church, is there not reason to suspect that they were accused of objecting to magistrates and judges, merely because they asserted what all dissenters now assert? That the civil magistrates ought not to interfere in matters of conscience; and that while it is our duty to "render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's, it is equally our duty to give 'unto God the things that are God's.””
It was in this reign that the demon of persecution drove from his native land the distinguished Tyndale. He claims here a special notice.
William Tyndale was born in 1500, and received his education at both the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge ; and, bearing an excellent character for morals and diligence, he was admitted a canon of Wolsey's new college, at Christ Church, from which, however, upon his opinions becoming known, he was ejected. Being obnoxious to the ecclesiastics he retired to London, where he accepted a retreat, and there employed himself in preparing an English version of the New Testament. Driven from his native country, Tyndale, with Roye, a friar, and John Fry, completed his work at Antwerp, which was printed in that city in 1526. The first edition was bought up by Sir Thomas Moore and Bishop Tonstill; undesignedly they were most excellent friends for the promotion of A SECOND EDITION, as they provided the resources for a republication in 1530. This edition contained some reflections on the English bishops and clergy, and they commanded that it should be purchased and burnt.
In 1532, Tyndale and his associates translated and printed THE WHOLE BIBLE, doubtless, by the means supplied by their most inveterate enemies.
At the time that Tyndale was preparing a second edition of his translation of the Scriptures, the reforming Henry VIII. sent his emissary to betray him to the Emperor's procurator.
He was brought to trial upon the Emperor's decree; was tried, and condemned
* Crosby, vol. 1, p. 4
to the stake; at which he was first strangled, and then burnt. His last prayer was for his persecuting prince, “Lord open the king of England's eyes!” Thus was the useful and precious life of this devoted man cut short at Augsburg, in 1536.
The sentiments of William Tyndale, as to the subject of Baptism, and the manner of its administration may be gathered from one of his works
“The wasshynge wythout the word helpeth not; but thorow the word it purifyeth and clenseth us, as thou readest, Eph. 5. How Christ clenseth the congregation in the founteine of water thorow the word; the word is the promise which God hath made. Now as a preacher, in preaching the word of God saveth the hearers that beleve so doeth the wasshinge in that it preacheth and representeth to us the promise that God hath made unto us in Christe, THE WASSHYNB
WYTH CHRISTE's SHEDYNGE WHICH WAS AN OFFERING AND A SATISFACTION FOR YHE SYNNE OF AL THAT REPENT AND BELEVE, CONSENTYNGE AND SUBMYTTYNE THEMSELVES UNTO THE WYL OF GOD. THE
WATER sygnyfyeth that we die and are buried with Chryst as cocerning ye old life of synne which is Ada. And THE PULLING OUT AGAYN, sygnyfyeth that we ryse again with Christe IN A NEW LYFE FUL OF THE HOLYE GOO TE WHICH SHAL TEACH US, AND GYDE US, AND WORK THE WYLL OF GOD IN US ; AS THOU SEEST, ROM. 6.” * Sentiments, it will be seen, which are thoroughly Baptistical. Ivimey thus comments upon the foregoing views.
66 Whether Tyndale baptized persons on a profession of faith or not, it is certain that his sentiments would naturally lead him to the practice; as what is said of the subject of this ordinance in this quotation, can in no sense apply to infants; who cannot be said to repent and believe, consenting and submitting themselves unto the will of God.” As it relates to the manner in which Baptisın was at that time administered, his statement is so plain that it requires no further remark.
Sufficient is recorded to shew the feelings which were displayed against those avowing Baptistical sentiments in the reign of Henry VIII. He died after a despotic rule of upwards of 37 years, January 25, 1547.
That excellent prince, Edward VI., succeeded his father Henry VIIL At this period, “the majority of the bishops and inferior clergy were on the side of popery, but THE GOVERNMENT was in the hands of the
* The obedience of all degrees, proved by God's worde. Imprinted by
Wyllyam Copland, at Lordon, 1561.
chief reformers. Those who entertained Baptist sentiments cherished the hope that, under the youthful and pious Edward, persecution would have ceased. It is found, however, that the ecclesiastical rulers, although the cruelties of the late reign were relaxed, determined to endeavour to enforce uniformity of belief and practice, and conformity to the religion as by law THEN established. The hostility against anabaptists was revived, for in 1519, two years after Edward VI. came to the thrune, anabaptists were to be hunted out. A commission was given to the archbishop of Canterbury, the bishops of Ely, Worcester, Chichister, Lincoln, and Rochester, Sir William Petrie, Sir Thomas Smith, Dr. May, and some others, any three being a quorum, TO EXAMINE AND SEARCH AFTER ALL ANABAPTIST HERETICS, and contemners of the common prayer.”
They were to endeavour to reclaim them, and after penance, to give them absolution; but, if they continued obstinate, they were to be excommunicated, imprisoned, and delivered over to the secular arm. This was little better than a protestant inquisition.*
That anabaptists continued to be specially obnoxious in this reign, is manifest from Burnett's reference to the subject. In the end of Dec., 1550, after many cavils in the parliament, an act was passed for the king's general pardon, from the benefits of which the anabaptists were excluded. Last of all (says he) came the king's general pardon, out of which, those in the Tower and other prisons on account of the state, as also all ANABAPTISTS, were excluded. “ This is a plain intimation," observes Ivimey, “ that the Baptists were so numerous as to claim the attention of government; and so obnoxious as to be placed on a level with those who were imprisoned as enemies of the state.”
The (may it be termed) pious zeal of Ridley, the new inducted bishop of London, was the same year displayed, for among the questions put to clergy in his diocese was the following: “Whether any anabaptists or others used private conventicles, with different opinicns and forms from those established ?"
Crosby makes an interesting reference to the spirit exhibited in this reign. “Under the governing power of THE REFORMERS, no liberty was granted to the conscience of diffidents,—no discussion of points in which they themselves (the Reformers) had not doubts, were permitted ; such as held sentiments different from their model, and pursued their inquiries further without consideration of their numbers, or their character, so far from being allowed to propose their opinion, or to hold separate assemblies for religious worship agreeable to their own views, were stigmatized as heretics, and pursued unto death.
* Ivimey, vol. 1, p. 88.
Not only were the anabaptists excepted from the kings general pardon, in 1550, but those of this profession were also burnt in divers towns in the kingdom, and met their death with singular intrepidity and cheerfulness."'*
The life of this youthful prince was cut short by consumption, or it has been stated by poison. He died July 6, 1553.
The princess who ascended the throne on the death of Edward is emphatically known in history as “The bloody Mary.” The records of her reign might be written in blood. “It was no better than one continued scene of calamity.” Neal observes, “The reign of Mary is THE GENUINE PICTURE OF POPERY, and should be remembered by all true Protestants with abhorrence, the principles of that religion being such as no man can receive till he has abjured his senses, renounced his understanding and reason, and, first of all, the tender compassions of human nature.”+
Persecution soon commenced in this reign,-ready and willing instruments for this work were soon found; Bonner and Gardiner, released from the Tower, entered upon their vocation. relation has to do with those who held baptistical sentiments; it would therefore be irrelevant to dwell upon the general religious devastation which took place during the reign of Mary. I Such was its extent, that the following number of persons suffered death for conscience sake, during the years enumerated :-in 1555, seventy-one; 1556, eighty-nine ; 1557, eighty-eight; 1558, forty ; total, 288 ; besides those that died of famine, in various prisons.
In the general persecution which took place (as those who entertained Baptist opinions were numerous,) it cannot be denied but that they shared alike in the sufferings and martyrdoms of this reign. Brandt refers to “the low country exiles,” who had in the reign of Edward VI. congregated in London (who, upon his death, were scattered by Queen Mary,) and after a dreadful journey, in which they suffered much from the Lutherans, formed at Wismar, two distinct communities of Anabaptists.|| The fiery persecutions, it would appear, inspired the Baptists with additional fortitude, in avowing their attachment to their proscribed tenets, for in 1537 many were imprisoned, being charged with holding the following opinions :
* Crosby's History, vol. 1. p. 62. † Neal's Puritans, vol. 1, p. 71. $ See General History. Hughes' Memorial, vol. 3, p. 291 appendix.
| History of the Reformation; vol. 1, Book 4.