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years, when Mr. Lawrence was again called into public employment. Other references might be made to distinguished names of men maintaining Baptistical sentiments.
That Baptists took no active part in the political events of these times, is clearly shewn from an interesting letter by Captain Richard Deane, to Dr. Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln ; and which contains considerable information concerning Baptists during the troubles. the year 1649, the Baptists greatly increased in the country, and their opinions did likewise spread themselves in some of the regiments of horse and foot in the army; and in 1650 and afterwards, some professing this opinion were called from their private employment to the public naval service; among others, Captain Mildmay, to command the Admiral flag-ship, under the Duke of Albemarle ; Capt. Pack, to command the flag-ship, under Sir George Ascue; and Sir John Harman, to command the Admiral flag-ship, under the Duke of York."*
But, notwithstanding this sect had the countenance given them as above-mentioned by those who had the principal management of affairs, yet they (the Baptists) in general, as they published in their apologies, were the least of any sort of people concerned in any vicissitudes of government that happened amongst us.” “My station,” continues Captain Deane,“ within the above-mentioned 10 years, gave me an opportunity to know most persons and actions of note in reference, as well to civil as martial affairs, and PARTICULARLY THOSE OF THIS SECT."
By a more lengthened quotation from Captain Deane's letter to the Bishop of Lincoln, and from other authorities, it could be shewn that the Baptists disapproved of the execution of the king, and were averse to the usurpation of Cromwell.
The Protectorate terminated with the death of Cromwell, which took place September 3, 1658.
Passing over the short period during which his son Richard assumed the government, attention is next directed to the Restoration, when Charles II. entered the British capital, May 29, 1660, when persecution was again revived; being the year when the celebrated John Bunyan, a Baptist, was apprehended and committed to Bedford jail. The history of this extraordinary man, who was incarcerated for twelve years for preaching the gospel, is so well known that it is unnecessary to enlarge upon it here. There is, however, a most interesting feature in connection with the advance of enlightented views and just feelings
* Ivimey, vol. 1, pp.
in the following juxtaposition of facts: in the 17th century, Bunyan is immured in a loathsome prison ; in the 19th century a niche is assigned to him in THE NATIONAL PALACE at Westminster.
In the course of the following year, it is recorded that Mr. Samuel Taverner, who had been governor of Dover Castle, but was then a Baptist minister, was, with ten others, much harassed by the magistrates, and kept for a considerable time in prison. From these persecuted Baptists, an address was sent to the king, similar to one presented from Baptists imprisoned in Maidstone jail, which was entitled, “the Humble Petition and representation of the sufferings of several innocent subjects, called by the name of Anabaptists, inhabitants of the county of Kent, and prisoners in the gaol of Maidstone, for the testimony of a good conscience." The Christian temper manifested by this persecuted people is strikingly exhibited in the mild and becoming language in which the document is expressed, and from which the following extract is furnished :
“Forasmuch as by authority derived from yourself, several of us your subjects are now imprisoned ; it therefore much concerns thee, O king! to hear what account we give of our distressed condition. Thou hast already seen our Confession of Faith, wherein our peaceable resolutions are declared. We have never violated any part thereof that should cause that liberty promised from Breda to be withdrawn.
“And now for our principles that most particularly relate to magistrates and government, we have with all elearness laid before thee, humbly beseeching they may be read patiently, and what we say weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, and then judge how worthy we are of bonds and imprisonment. And this we the more earnestly desire, because not only our own lives are in danger, but also an irresistible destruction cometh on our wives and little ones by that violence which is now exercised on us.”
They conclude with an earnest supplication, that they may have liberty to worship God; and it is signed by four of the Baptists imprisoned in the jail of Maidstone, on behalf of themselves and fellow prisoners.
Such were some of the proceedings of Charles II., after all his fair promises of liberty of conscience made when he was a wandering fugitive from his native land, and himself the subject of persecution.
In 1662, a bill was introduced to enforce uniformity of religion, and to eject all ministers from the Established Church, who would not declare unfeigned assent, and consent to the articles of the Church of England, and to everything contained in the Book of Common Prayer; also who would not declare upon oath, that it was not lawful, on any pretence whatever, to take arms against the king, &c The consequence of this act was, that upwards of 2000 eminently godly, learned, and useful ministers, were obliged to leave their livings, and were exposed to many hardships and difficulties. This act passed, but Bishop Burnet observes, "with no very great majority,” and received the Royal assent, - May 19, and was to take place from the 24th of August following:
The following were amongst those who suffered in consequence of the above act, and who will be subsequently found amongst THE BAPTIST community:
HENRY JESSEY, M.A., ejected from St. George's, Southwark. WILLIAM Dell, M.A., from the living of Yeldon, in Bedfordshire. FRANCIS BAMPFIELD, M.A., from the living of Sherborne, Dorset
shire. THOMAS JENNINGS, from Brinsfield, in Gloucestershire. PAUL FREWEN, from Kempley, in the same county. Joshua HEAD, place of ejectment uncertain. JOHN TOMBES, B.D., from Leominster, in Herefordshire. DANIEL DYKE, M.A., from Hadham, in Hertfordshire. RICHARD ADAMS, from Humberstone, in Leicestershire. JEREMIAH MARSDEN, from Ardesly Chapel, near Wakefield, in
Yorkshire. THOMAS HARDCASTLE, from Bramham, in Yorkshire. ROBERT BROWNE, from Whitelady Aston, in Worcestershire. GABRIEL CAMELFORD, from Stavely Chapel, in Westmoreland. John SKINNER, from Weston, in Herefordshire.
BAKER, from Folkestone, in Kent. John GOSNOLD, of the Charter-house and Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. THOMAS QUARREL, from some place in Shropshire. THOMAS Ewins, from St. Even's Church, Bristol. LAWRENCE WISE, from Chatham Dock, Kent. John DONNE, from Pertenhall, in Bedfordshire. Paul Hobson, from the Chaplainship of the College, Buckingham
shire. JOHN GIBBS, from Newport Pagnell. John Smith, from Wanless, Leicestershire. THOMAS ELLIS, from Lopham, Norfolk. THOMAS PAXFORD, from Clapton, Gloucestershire. ICHABOD CHAUNCEY, M.D., Chaplain to Sir Edward Harley's
Regiment.* Previous to this (the act of 1662,) the first act passed after the restoration of the King contained AN EXCEPTION OF ALL WHO HAD
* Ivimey, vol. 1, p. 328.
DECLARED AGAINST INFANT BAPTISM FROM BEING RESTORED TO THEIR LIVINGS. It is somewhat a matter of surprise THAT ANY BAPTISTS were found in the churches when this is considered.
THE ACT OF UNIFORMITY referred to completed the business of ejectment; for after it passed there was not found any person who REJECTED THE BAPTISM OF INFANTS continued in the Establishment.*
Carrying out the spirit of the laws enacted at this time against tho who dissented from the religion of the state as by law established, it is recorded that in 1664 the persecution of Dissenters at Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, was so violent that two large houses WERE TURNED INTO PRISONS, to make room for the sectaries, as the county gaol would not hold the numbers that were committed; THEIR
CONFISCATED, and their persecutors intended, if possible, to get THE PENALTY OF BANISHMENT OR DEATH inflicted upon them, according to the 35th of Elizabeth.
“Of these there were twelve persons, ten men and two women, all Baptists, who had been taken at their meeting in or near Aylesbury ; and having been legally convicted of the same three months before, they were now brought before a Bench of Justices at their QUARTER SESSIONS. They were then required either to conform to the Church of England, and take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, or to abjure the realm as this law directed ; and were assured, that if they refused to do either of these, SENTENCE OF DEATH should be passed upon them !”+
It would appear that to a great degree the spirit of “Bloody Mary” existed at this period—the fire and faggot only were wanting.
In the same year (1664) an act was passed for suppressing SEDITIOUS CONVENTICLES, as they were termed.
“ The preamble sets forth that the sectaries, under pretence of tender consciences, at their meetings had contrived insurrections; and the act declares the 35th of Elizabeth to be in full force,—which condemns all persons, refusing peremptorily to come to church, after conviction, TO BANISHMENT; and in case of return, TO DEATH, WITHOUT BENEFIT OF CLERGY. It enacts further, that if any person above the age of sixteen, after July 1st, 1664, shall be present at any meeting, under colour or pretence of any exercise of religion in other manner than is allowed by the liturgy or practice of the Church of England, where shall be five or more persons than the household, shall, for the first offence, upon record made upon oath under the hand and seal of a Justice of Peace, suffer three months' imprisonment, or pay a sum not exceeding five pounds ; for the second offence, six months'
* Ivimey, vol. 1, p. 329.
+ Ivimey, vol. 1, p. 336.
imprisonment, or ten pounds ; and for the third offence, BANISHMENT TO SOME OF THE AMERICAN PLANTATIONS FOR SEVEN YEARS."*
Such were the measures enacted to retard the progress of religious freedom, both in sentiment and action.
It will be seen what were the various means and devices employed for the purpose of carrying on religious worship by Dissenters in this reign, whether by Baptists or Puritans.
* The Dissenters continued to take the most prudent measures to cover their private meetings from their adversaries. They assembled in small numbers—they frequently shifted their places of Worship, and met together late in the evenings, or early in the morningsthere were friends without doors always on the watch to give notice of approaching danger. When the dwellings of Dissenters joined, they made windows or holes in the walls, that the preacher's voice might be heard in two or three houses. They had sometimes private passages from one house to another, and trap doors for the escape of the minister, who went always in disguise, except when he was discharging his office. In country towns and villages they were admitted through back-yards and gardens into the house, to avoid the observation of neighbours and passengers; for the same reason they never sung psalms, and the Minister was placed in such an inward part of the house that his voice might not be heard in the streets. The doors were always locked, and a sentinel placed near them to give the alarm, that the preacher might escape by some private passage with as many of the congregation as could avoid the informers. But notwithstanding all their precautions, spies and false brethren crept in among them in disguise ; their assemblies were frequently interrupted, and great sums of money raised by fines or compositions, to the discouragement of trade and industry, and enriching the officers of the spiritual courts.”+
THE CONVENTICLE Act not being sufficiently rigorous in its provisions against Dissenters, their enemies determined to harass them still more by the aid of the legislature, their obtaining what was entitled “THE FIVE MILE Act;" and "it will amaze all posterity," says Neal," that in a time both of war and of the plague, and when the Nonconformist ministers were hazarding their lives in the service of the poor distressed congregations of London, the Prime Minister, Lord CLARENDON, and his creatures, instead of mourning for the sins of the nation, and meditating a reformation of manners, should pour out all their vengeance upon the Nonconformists, in order to make their condition insufferable.”
* Ivimey, vol. 1, p. 355.
+ Neal's Puritans, vol. 5, p. 19.