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after the fire of London, in 1666, their place of worship was wrested from them, (the principle of might against right being prevalent,) and it was converted into a tabernacle for an EPISCOPAL congregation, till the parish churches could be rebuilt, when the Baptists were graciously permitted by the head of the established) church again to occupy their own meeting-house.
In 1642, four years after he had thus joined the Baptists, he was one of the disputants with the fanious Dr. Fealty. He was also engaged in a great dispute upon baptism at Coventry ; Dr. Grew and Dr. Bryan were there on the side of the Pædo-Baptists, and Mr. Kiffin and Mr. Knollys on that of the Baptists. The debate was managed with good temper, and great moderation. Both sides claimed the victory, and parted good friends.
Thomas Patient, who had been an Independent minister, in America, where he had embraced the principles of the Baptists, but was so violently persecuted by his Independent brethren that he was obliged to return to England in 1640, and in 1666 became the co-partner of William Kiffin, but died the same year. His name appears with William Kiffin, as signed to the Confession of Faith of the first seven churches in London, in 1643.
In 1668, Daniel Dyke, M.A., who was educated at the University of Cambridge, succeeded William Patient in the co-pastoral office.
Special reference is made to this minister as having occupied the valuable living of Hadham in Magna, Hertfordshire, which he sacrificed upon embracing the sentiments of the Baptists. From the friendship of Oliver Cromwell towards him, Mr. Dyke was made one of his chaplains in ordinary, when he became Lord Protector. In 1653, he was made one of the “ Triers” for the approval and admission of ministers, an office for which his learning, judgment, and piety, rendered him well qualified.
The new meeting-house in Devonshire Square was built at the beginning of the reign of James II., and was opened for public worship ON TUESDAY, March 1, 1686. Mr. Kiffin, the venerable pastor, and others, preached on the occasion ; and it is said that
psalms were sung there," a circumstance not very usual at that time amongst the Baptists.
Mr. Dyke continued a faithful labourer as the associate of William Kiffin, at Devonshire Square, till his death, in 1688, when about 70 years of age. He was buried at Bunhill-fields.
RICHARD ADAMs is named as having been associated with William Kiffin. It is probable, says Ivimey, that he obtained the living of Humberston, in Leicestershire, by the favour of his tator and pastor, John Tombes, who was one of the “ Triers” appointed by Cromwell. Richard Adams was ejected from his incumbency by the Bartholomew Act, in 1662. He removed to Mount Sorrel, where he was prohibited by Justice Babington from preaching, but would allow him to keep a school. The Justice sent for Mr. Adams, and told him if he would not leave off his meeting he must expect trouble. Soon after this, the Justice died from excessive bleeding. Mr. Adams, after the death of Mr. Dyke, in 1688, removed to London, and became a co-pastor to Mr. Kiffin, with whom he appears in the list of ministers who met in association in London, in 1692.
A lengthened notice is given of William Kiffin in the second volume of Ivimey’s History of the Baptists. At one period of his ministry he appears in a twofold capacity, viz., that of a minister and a merchant. Writing of his success in the latter relation, “ It pleased God,” says Mr. Kiffin, “to bless our endeavours, increasing our store of pounds to hundreds, and from hundreds to thousands of pounds; giving me more of this world than I ever expected to enjoy. By these means I was enabled to improve the small talent God bad given me, without being burthensome to any; and also to give without receiving, which I bless the Lord he hath in some measure given me the heart to do." Mr. Kiffin was not without his inveterate enemies. It would
TREASON and NONCONFORMITY were considered as almost SYNONYMOUS. Attempts were made to take away his life by charges of conspiracy, by means of forged letters; and he was upon several occasions committed to gaol upon accusations of treason ; kut his purity of principle and integrity of character cleared him triumphantly through all this persecution; and when brought before the Council, “ neither the Duke of Buckingham, nor the Council, nor the King, could find ought against him;" and the very false accusations tended to raise him in favour with the Court.
There is one incident that may not be uninteresting associated with the life and labours of Mr. Kiffin, and which shews his enlarged and liberal views. It appears an association called the Hamburgh Company had obtained a proclamation from the King, that none but that Company should trade to any parts of Holland or Germany with woollen manufactures. The influence of Mr. Kiffin was sought for the purpose of BREAKING DOWN THIS MONOPOLY ; and in a committee of the whole House of Commons, as appears upon the Parliamentary records, at the request of the Speaker, he was desired to deliver his sentiments upon the injurious tendency of the monopoly. Such were his convincing views, as stated to the House, that a deputation was sent to his Majesty, beseeching him to call in the proclamation, and thus prevent the manifest injustice of this partial protection. Before
the King could consent to such a procedure, he commanded that Mr. Kiffin should appear before him in the Council. His enemies and opponents taxed their invention to endeavour to damage Mr. Kiffin's character and evidence in the estimation of the King; they also attended the Council, and gloried in the prospect that before night they would have him in THE GATE-HOUSE PRISON, as they intended to charge him witH SPEAKING AGAINST THE KING'S PREROGATIVE. The attempts, however, of these men proved abortive. This advocate of commercial freedom was favourably heard by the King. He addressed such arguments against monopoly, supported by several Members of Parliament, that the King withdrew the proclamation, greatly to the mortification of the monopolists; and the woollen manufacturers of England were enabled, UNSHACKLED, to trade to Holland and Germany.
It would appear from the preceding that Mr. Kiffin was an early advocate for commercial emancipation.
Associations and engagements such as 'referred to, according to the views of the present day, may scarcely appear compatible with the sacred calling and occupations of a minister of the gospel ; but due allowance will be made by every intelligent reader for THE PECULIARITY OF THE TIMES in which these events took place.
To shew the inveteracy against this good man, he observes, “My Lord Arlington told me that though in every list of disaffected persons for to be accused, I was always one of them, yet the King would never have anything against me. My Lord Chancellor, also Earl of Clarendon, being very much my friend."
At the reiterated request of the King, Mr. Kiffin accepted, with four other Baptists, the dignity of an alderman of the city of London, and was enabled to interpose an influence importantly in favour of his persecuted brethren. Enough has been said to shew that he was a good and useful man.
Crosby says of him, “ He was a man of great natural parts and some learning-a great disputant, and when joined to others had the preference. His religious sentiments were founded on the perfection of the Scriptures for all the purposes of doctrine and discipline ; he, therefore, sought not the support either of the Assembly of Divines, the Triers, or the Parliament, having liberty to serve God without molestation was all that he desired ; and by adhering closely to this principle, he escaped the mortification which many of the Independents and Baptists experienced at the restoration of the King, and at the re-establishment of Episcopacy.
He survived all the storms of the periods through which he passed, lived several years after the Glorious Revolution, and at length, in peace and tranquillity, died in a good old age, on the 29th December, 1701, aged 86 years, full of days, riches, and honours ; and was buried in Bunhill-fields, London.
In the multiplied struggles of the Baptists for religious freedom, and in their various association meetings, as also in connection with the Assembly of 1689, at which the Confession of Faith was adopted the name of Mr. Kiffin appears most interestingly conspicuous; and although he received the appellation of “THE FATHER OF THE PARTICULAR BAPTISTS," from a priority of connection with that body in all his subsequent relations, he acted out that character consistently to the latest period of his life.
In the life of the pious and venerable HANSARD KNOLLYS there were many incidents of peculiar interest; a few only can be touched upon. He was born at Chalkwell, in Lincolnshire, and was educated at Cambridge University.
When he was about twenty-one years of age, he applied to the Bishop of Peterborough for ordination ; and after preaching sixteen sermons by way of trial, he was ordained a presbyter in 1629.
Not long after his ordination, the Bishop of Lincoln presented him to the living of Humberstone, and was a laborious and devoted minister, as will appear from the nature of his Lord's day work, which was not confined within the boundary of his own parish. It is stated that besides preaching to his own parishioners, he frequently preached at Hilton at seven o'clock in the morning, at Humberstone at nine, at Scarths at eleven, and at Humberstone again at three o'clock, besides every holiday, and at every burial both of poor and rich,
About 1631, he began to doubt the propriety of his conformity to some things enjoined in the Established Church to which he was obliged to attend. He had his scruples, and considered it wrong
TO WEAR THE SURPLICE;
TO ADMIT IMMORAL PERSONS TO THE LORD'S SUPPER. It required no ordinary strength of principle in those times to act as Hansard Knollys did. On the side of CONFORMITY there was ease, respectability, and preferment; on that of DISSENT, and more especially for those who embraced Baptistical views, only the prospect of trouble, persecution, calumny, and reproach, and not unfrequently poverty itself. For the one all was sunshine; for the other storms and tempest.
What is known in the present day of such trials ? Hansard Knollys, with so much that would be discouraging to human nature, had counted the cost ; and in his investigations for truth, pursued as
the Christian and the scholar. The result of those investigations was, that he considered the despised and calumniated Baptists were nearest thereto, and he cast in his lot amongst them.
With his feelings and scruples he felt that he could not continue in the Established Church, and he accordingly resigned his living to the bishop, who, being desirous that the Church of England should not lose so zealous and conscientious a man, offered him a living;” but Hansard Knollys told his diocesan that he could do nothing but preach, and which was connived at for two or three years. At length he concluded that the ordinution he had received from the bishop was not scriptural, and although with such prospects of church preferment, he renounced it, and silenced himself, “ resolving," he says, “not to preach any more till I had a clear call and commission from Christ to preach the gospel.”
In about 1637 he went to America, where he remained until near the close of 1641, his aged father having urged his return to England. Cotton Mather, in his History of America, makes honourable mention of Hansard Knollys. “For his piety his name ought to live in their books. He had a respectful character amongst the churches of that wilde ness."
In his autobiography he refers to the benefits derived from the spiritual instructions of Mr. Wheelwright, a silenced minister, and says, “I began to preach the doctrines of free grace according to the new and everlasting covenant, for three or four years together, whereby many sinners were converted, and many believers were established in the faith.” During this time he preached at Woodenderby, at Fulleby-on-the-Hill, and at Wainfleet, till in 1636 he was apprehended at Boston, by virtue of a warrant from the High Com. mission Court, and kept a prisoner in the person's house who served the warrant. “But,” says Mr. Knollys, “God helped me to convince him, and he was so greatly terrified in his conscience, that he set open the doors and let me go away.”
Some time after this Mr. Knollys went into Suffolk, and preached in several places, as opportunity afforded, at the request of his friends. At one time he was stoned out of the pulpit ; at another time the church doors were shut against him and his hearers ; upon this he preached in the church-yard. This was considered too great a crime to be connived at or excused, and he was taken into custody for such a misdemeanour,—was first prosecuted at the petty sessions in the county, and then sent up a prisoner to London. His sermons were said to be seditious and factions, and articles of complaint were made Against him to the Parliament. At his examination he proved the falsity of the charge, and shewed that the disorder which had hap