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the archbishop, that I hold by the favour of the lord keeper, a prebend in Norwich, I now inform you, that I mean to
relinquish it the next half year following. Trusting, that
upon the receipt of this my humble submission, you will release me, and grant me a new license to preach. And so committing your lordships, in all your godly and zealous
undertakings, to the direction and blessing of Almighty God. Subscribing myself your lordships' most humble
petitioner “ Rob ERT Johnson.
What effect this letter produced, we are not able to learn; but it probably failed to answer the end proposed. We find, however, in the year 1573, that Mr. Johnson was brought into further trouble. He was convened before the Bishop of Lincoln, and required to subscribe to the three curious articles following:
1. “I am content hereafter, in my open sermons and public preaching, to forbear to impugn the articles of religion
agreed upon in the Synod at London, in 1562, or any of
them. 2. “Neither will I speak against the state of the church of England, now allowed by the laws of this realm; nor against the Book of Common Prayer, or any thing contained therein. 3. “Neither will I say or sing, or cause, procure, or maintain any other to say or sing, any common or open prayer,
or minister any sacrament, otherwise, or in any other
manner or form, than is mentioned in the said book, till further order be taken by public authority.” Mr. Johnson refusing subscription, answered as follows:— “Whether these articles be such as I ought in duty to subscribe, and whether for refusing this subscription, I deserve to be openly declared a forsaker of the church, and the flock committed to my care, and whether it be matter for which I ought to be defamed, I refer to your worship's consideration, upon the following reasons: “I take it for granted, that there are faults, and such as ought to be reformed, both in the government of the church, and in the Book of Common Prayer, upon which I reason
thus. Either there is, or there is not, a reformation intended
by those in authority. If there be a reformation intended, then it is good that the people's minds be prepared the more
willingly to receive it when it comes, and to persuade them
'* Strype's Parker, p. 327, 328.
by sound reason and the authority of scripture, before they are compelled by law to obey. This preparation of the people to obey, is necessary, lest they be compelled to obey they know not what. Therefore, that the people may the more willingly, and without murmuring, agree to a reformation, and praise the Lord for the same, it is necessary they should first know the defects in the church, which need reformation. But if no reformation be intended, it is proper the people should understand how much the church stands in need of it, that they may pray unto God to stir up those who are in authority to promote it; and, no doubt, the Lord will the sooner hear their prayers. So that, whether a reformation be intended, or not intended, the church of God should be told of its corruptions, that the people may the more willingly praise God when they are taken away, and the more earnestly pray unto him until they be taken away. This is one reason why, ministers should not bind themselves to conceal the faults and corruptions remaining in the church. “Another reason is, that seeing there are many preachers who maintain that the government of the church is perfectly good, and that the Prayer Book needs no amendment; and as these preachers have license to preach where they please, they may preach these things to that flock over which God hath made me overseer; if I should consent and subscribe, that, in such a case, I will not speak, I cannot see how I could acquit myself before God. Therefore, the fear of this evil, in these days of peril and confusion, is another reason for not giving either the promise of my word, or the subscription of my hand, to hold my peace against the government of the church, and every thing contained in the Book of Common Prayer. “Also, in the Book of Common Prayer, there is a manifest abuse of scripture: as in the ordination of ministers, it is said, Receive the Holy Ghost. Corrupt prayers: as in confirmation, “Almighty God, who hast vouchsafed to regenerate these thy servants, by water and the Holy Ghost, and hast given them the forgiveness of all their sins.” These and many such faults in the book, are such, that a preacher ought not to promise and subscribe, that he will never speak anything against them. There are, likewise, many things in the government of the church: as the court of faculties, the high commission court, dispensations for nonresidence, and many others, against which I cannot oblige myself that I will never speak.” This answer, with much more to the same
purpose, Mr. Johnson delivered August 6, 1573, subscribed with his own hand.* We do not, indeed, find what immediately followed his refusing to subscribe; whether he was dismissed, and allowed to go on in his ministry, or sent to prison. Most probably: he was released; for he afterwards became minister of St. Clement's church, London. Here, however, he enjoyed but little repose; for towards the close of December, in the above year, he and some others were committed close prisoners to the Gatehouse, for nonconformity. February 2d, following, Mr. Johnson being still in prison, wrote a letter to Dr. Sandys, bishop of London, whom he styles “superintendant of popish corruptions in the diocese of London.” In this letter, he reminds his lordship of some of the existing evils, especially that of professed christians persecuting one another. “There is,” says he, “persecution enough. Some are imprisoned, and are in danger of losing, not only their liberty, but also their lives, being compelled to remain in filthy jails, more unwholesome than dunghills, and more stinking than pig-styes. Others are persecuted in their minds, by being enforced to subscribe to those things against which every good man's conscience makes a stand, and every godly man disallows. It is a great evil for a man to lose or spend his property in prison; it is a greater, to lose his reputation; it is greater still, to lose his liberty; but it is greatest of all, to be greatly distressed and disquieted in his conscience. Take heed, therefore, lest you get your name enrolled amongst the number of persecutors. Let not worldly policy prevail more than true divinity. Let not man cause you to do that which God has forbidden. Let not the commission draw you further than God's word will allow. Let not your honour here on earth, cause you to do that which is against the honour of God. Let not your palace make you forget the temple of Christ. . . . . . “The present persecution is among brethren, not only of one nation, but of one profession; those who persecute, and those who are persecuted, believing in one God, professin one Christ, embracing one religion, receiving one gospel, communicating in one sacrament, and having one hope of salvation. Dissention in a kingdom, discord in a nation, controversy among neighbours, and contention among brethren, are more to be feared than any of them among enemies. You say, you are our chief pastor, we desire
* Parte of a Register,p.94–100. Baker’s MS. Collec, vol.xxxii. p. 440.
food: you say, you are our doctor, we desire to be taught. This is the best way to win us, and the best for you to use. The laws and authority of men, should not set aside the laws and authority of God. The popish logic of slander and imprisonment will not prevail at last. The Fleet, the Gatehouse, the White-lion, the King's-bench, and Newgate, are weak arguments to convince the conscience.” . Upon the 20th day of the same month, Mr. Johnson was brought to trial before his judges, and examined at Westminster-hall, in the presence of the queen's commissioners, the bishop of London, the dean of Westminster, the lord chief justice, and others. He was accused of .# without the ring, and of baptizing without the cross, whic he did for a time; but upon complaint against him, he begun again to use them. He was accused, also, of a misdemeanour, as it is called; because when he was once administering the sacrament, the wine falling short, he sent for more, but did not consecrate it afresh, accounting the former consecration sufficient for what was applied to the same use, at the same time. The examination which he underwent at his trial, was as follows: Johnson. If it please your honours, may I not submit myself, and declare the truth of things as they were done? Lord Chief Justice. Yes, you may. J. I stand here indicted for three points. The first is, that I have not repeated the words of the institution; or, as they commonly call it, I did not consecrate the wine, when I delivered it to the communicants.-Secondly, that I have not married with the ring.—Thirdly, that I have not used the cross in the administration of baptism, and have left out the whole sentence for that purpose.t—Unto these charges, I answer, that respecting the contempt, as expressed in the indictment, I plead, not guilly. And as to the first of those charges, I answer under my protestation, that at no time, in celebrating the communion, have I omitted an prayer or words of the institution, which the book prescribeth, but have used them in as full and ample a manner * Parte of a Register, p. 101–105. + In Mr. Johnson's indictment, he was charged with having solemnized matrimony, between one Leonard Morris and Agnes Miles, without using .the ring. And having baptized a male child that he did not know, he did not make the sign of the cross on its forehead, nor use the following words: “We receive this child into the congregation of Christ's flock, and do sign “ him with the sign of the cross,” as contained in the Book of Common as they are appointed. Only upon a certain occasion, when the wine failed, I sent for more, which I delivered to the people, using the words appointed in the book to be used in the delivery of the sacrament, not again repeating the words of the institution: partly, because, as I take it, being an entire action and one supper, the words of the institution at first delivered were sufficient; and partly, because, in the Book of Common Prayer, there is no order appointed to which I could refer the case. And as to the second, I answer that once or twice, I did not use the ring. For looking into the mass-book, I found the words with which the papists hallow the ring; and because this seemed to me no less derogatory to the death of Christ, than holy bread and holy water, I thought as other persons had omitted those, I might omit this. Commissioner. There is no such thing in the Book of Common Prayer. Dean. He speaketh of the mass-book. Bishop. Then you compare the mass-book and the common prayer book, and make the one as bad as the other. J. My lord, I make no such comparison. But after I was complained of to my ordinary, Dr. Watts, archdeacon of Middlesex, who reprehended me, I used the ring, as I have good and sufficient witness. Since, therefore, I did in this default correct myself, I refer myself to your honour's discretion, whether I have herein stubbornly and contemptuously broken the law.—As to the third charge, I answer, that I have omitted to make the sign of the cross, but not of contempt. But seeing I have already suffered seven weeks imprisonment, with the loss of my place and living, I beseech you, be indifferent judges, whether this be not sufficient for so small a crime. Mr. Gerard. You were not sent to prison for that, but for your irreverent behaviour. J. I trust, sir, I did not behave myself more irreverently than I do now. Whereas the indictment is, that I omitted the whole prayer, “We receive this child,” &c. This is false; for I never administered baptism without using that prayer, though I omitted making the sign of the cross. B. Those two are but trifles. The chief is the consecration of the sacrament. For, as it had not the word, it was no sacrament, and so the people were mocked. J. My lord, I did not mock the people; for it was a Sacrament. D. St. Augustin saith, “That the word must be added to
Prayer : “And that he did the same voluntarily, and in contempt of the
4& o and her laws, and against the peace of the realm.”—MS. Register, P. IU9.