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sisted near two hundred years; and they had a clear tradition of its assemblies having been held so early as 1630, in the woods and other places of concealment, on account of the severity of the times. Even in 1457, there was a congregation of this sort at Chesterton, near Cambridge: six of them were accused of heresy, and condemned to abjure and do penance, half naked, with a fagot to their backs and a taper in their hands, in the public market-places of Ely and Cambridget.

But, notwithstanding this early appearance of the sect, it laboured under such difficulties, from the odium with which it was regarded by the people, and from the severities practised against it by the ruling powers, that its progress was for many years impeded. From what bishop Jewel says, in the "Defence of his Apology," written about the seventh year of queen Elizabeth, it appears that it was then almost totally suppressed in these kingdoms for, while he speaks of them as finding harbour in Austria, Silesia, and Moravia, he adds, " they have no acquaintance with us in England, or any other place, where the gospel of Christ is clearly preached." This is to be concluded also from a passage in Dr. Featley, who says, "this fire in the reigns of queen Elizabeth, king James, and our gracious sovereign, till now, was covered in England under the ashes: or, if it broke out at any time, by the care of the ecclesiastical or civil magistrate it was soon put out."

But in the times of the civil war, so difficult or so impossible is it to extirpate opinions, this sect revived; held its weekly assemblies for religious worship; and printed various pieces in defence of their sentiments and practice: the number of converts to it rapidly increased, and it boasted in that prophecy, "that many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased 1.1


Amongst the publications in their own vindication was a piece in 1641, by Edward Barber, entitled, "A Treatise of Baptism, or Dipping; wherein is clearly showed, that our Lord Christ ordained Dipping, and that sprinkling of children is not according to Christ's institution; and also the invalidity of those arguments that are commonly brought to justify that practice." In the same year appeared a quarto pamphlet of six pages, relating chiefly, if not wholly, to the Baptists. It is entitled, "The Brownists' Synagogue: or a late discovery of their conventicles, assemblies, and places of meeting, where they preach, and the manner of their praying and preaching; with a relation of the names, places, and doctrines, of those which do commonly preach. The chief of which are these: Green, the felt-maker; Marler, the button-maker; Spencer, the coachman; Rogers, the glover;

* MS. Collections concerning the History of Protestant Dissenters, communicated by Mr. Thompson.

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+ Robinson's Claude, vol. 2. Dissertation on Preaching, p. 54.

Crosby, vol. 1. p. 160, 161; Wall's History of Infant-Baptism, vol. 2. p. 212


which sect is much increased of late within this city." In this squib, Messrs. Green and Spencer, who were over the Baptist church in Crutched Friars, are termed "the two arch separatists, demigods, who are here, and there, and every where." In the conclusion of the piece, the writer gives the following account of their meeting: "In the house where they meet, one is appointed to keep the door, and to give notice, if there should be any insurrection, that warning may be given them. They do not flock together, but come two or three in a company, and all being gathered together, the man appointed to teach stands in the midst of the room, and his audience gather about him. He then prays for the space of about half an hour, and part of his prayer is, that those who come thither to scoff and laugh, God would be pleased to turn their hearts. His sermon is about the space of an hour, and then another stands up to make the text more plain; and at the latter end he entreats them all to go home severally, lest at their next meeting they should be interrupted by those who are of the opinion of the wicked. They seem very steadfast in their opinions, and say, ' rather than turn, they will burn."

In the next year came out another treatise, written by A. R. called, "The Vanity of Children's Baptism." Mr. Francis Cornwell, M.A. published, in 1643, a small tract, dedicated to the house of commons, with this title: "The Vindication of the Royal Commission of Jesus." It was given to divers members at the door of the house, which caused it to make a great noise, and be much circulated. Its design was to show, that the practice of christening children opposes the commission granted by our Lord and Saviour; that it was a Romish or antichristian custom; and was established by pope Innocent III. who made a decree that the baptism of the infants of believers should succeed circumcision. This piece gave great offence. Dr. Featley made several remarks upon it; and a piece called "A Declaration against Anabaptists" was published in answer to it*. As they were frequently inveighed against, not only on account of their peculiar sentiments concerning the subjects and mode of baptism, but were also loaded with all the opprobrium which fell on the opinions deemed heretical, and were often reproached, both from the pulpit and the press, with being Pelagians, Socinians, Arminians, Soul-Sleepers, and the like, they published, in 1643, a "Confession of their Faith," mentioned and quoted by Mr. Neal, to vindicate themselves from these reflections, and to show their general agreement with other Protestants in all points except that of baptism. It was the first that was ever published by the English Baptists, and extends to fifty-two articles, which we shall give in the Appendix, No. XI. It passed through several editions in 1644, and 1646, one of which was licensed by authority, dedicated to the high court of parliament, and put into the hands of several members. Their greatest adversaries, and amongst Crosby, vol. 1. p. 151, 152, and 345.



them Dr. Featley and Mr. Marshall, one of the assembly of divines, acknowledged that it was an orthodox confession*.

This confession must be understood as expressing the sentiments of those Baptists only who joined in it, and not as applying to all who differed from other Christians on the questions concerning baptism. For, from the beginning of the reformation, there was a difference between the Baptists themselves on doctrinal points: and they divided, particularly, into two parties; one embracing the Calvinistic scheme of doctrines, and from the particular point therein, viz. personal election, called particular Baptists; the others, professing the Arminian or remonstrant tenets, from their leading principle, viz. universal redemption, were styled general Baptists.

It is remarkable that some eminent men, who did not join their communion, were strongly in favour of their sentiments. The right honourable lord Robert Brook published about this time A Treatise on Episcopacy, in which he says, "I must confess that I begin to think there may be perhaps something more of God in these sects, which they call new schisms, than appears at first glimpse. I will not, I cannot, take upon me to defend that which nem generally call Anabaptism; yet I conceive that sect is twofold: some of them hold free-will, community of goods, deny magistracy, and refuse to baptize their children; these truly are such heretics, or atheists, that I question whether any divine should honour them so much as to dispute with them. There is another sort of them who only deny baptism to their children till they come to years of discretion, and then they baptize them." He censured the applying to this people the opprobrious name of schismatics; and gave it as his judgment, that it was very easy for those who held that we should go no farther than the Scriptures for doctrine or discipline, to err on this point, since the Scriptures seem not to have clearly determined it. He went even so far as to call in question the accuracy and conclusiveness of the argument urged against them from circumcision, which he looked upon as a fine rational argument to illustrate a point well proved before; but he doubted whether it was proof enough for that which some would prove by it; because, besides the difference in the ordinances, the persons to be circumcised were stated by a positive law, so expressly as to leave no room for scruple: "but it was otherwise with baptism, where all the designation of persons fit to be partakers, for aught I know," said his fordship, "is only such as believe for this is the qualification which, with exactest search, I find the Scriptures require in persons to be baptized: and this it seems to require in all such persons. Now, how infants can properly be said to believe, I am not yet fully resolved." Having mentioned this nobleman, we cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of here introducing some remarks on his character from the writings of one of his contemporaries, namely, the great Milton, who, in his * Crosby, vol. 1. p. 170, 171.

"Speech for the Liberty of unlicensed Printing," addressed to. the parliament of England [1645], thus proceeds:

"What would be the best advised then, if it be found so hurtful, and so unequal to suppress opinions for their newness or their unsuitableness to a customary acceptance, will not be my task to say. I shall only repeat what I have learned from one of your own honourable members, a right noble and pious lord, who, had he not sacrificed his life and fortunes to the church and commonwealth, we had not now missed and bewailed a worthy and undoubted patron of this argument. Ye know him, I am sure yet I, for honour's sake, and may it be eternal to him, shall name him, the LORD BROOK. He, writing of episcopacy, and by the way treating of sects and schisms, left ye his vote, or rather now the last words of his dying charge, which I know will ever be of dear and honoured regard with you, so full of meekness and breathing charity, that next to his last testament who bequeathed love and peace to his disciples, I cannot call to mind where I have read or heard words more mild or peaceful. He there exhorts us to bear with patience and humility those, however they be miscalled, that desire to live purely, in such a use of God's ordinances as the best guidance of their consciences gives them, and to tolerate them, though in some disconformity to ourselves. The book itself will tell us more at large, being published to the world, and dedicated to the parliament by him, who both for his life and for his death deserves, that what advice he left be not laid by without perusal*. Such praise from such a writer as Milton, who would not be proud of? Granger informs us that lord Brook, who was a zealous patriot and an avowed advocate for liberty, on account of the arbitrary measures of Charles I. had determined to seek freedom in America, and had agreed with lord Say to transport themselves to New England, but upon the meeting of the long parliament, and the sudden change of public affairs, they were prevented from taking the voyage. He was afterward commander of the parliament army, and lost his life at Litchfield, in storming a close, to which lord Chesterfield had retired with a body of the king's troops. He received a musket-shot in the eye, of which he instantly expired, in the year 1643.

A divine also, of great fame in that age, Mr. Daniel Rogers, candidly declared, in a book on the sacrament, that he was unconvinced by any determination of Scripture for infant baptism. The learned and eminent Dr. Jeremiah Taylor, bishop of Down and Connor, published, in 1647, his treatise on "The Liberty of Prophesying +;" in which he stated the opinion of the Antipadobaptists with such advantages of style and elaborate chain of

• Milton's Prose Works, by Burnet, vol. 1. p. 320.

+ This part of his treatise was reprinted in a detached form under the title of "Thoughts upon Infant Baptism," by the late Rev. and learned Dr. Jeremy Taylor, for Ward, in 1754, and it has lately been reprinted under the title of “The Baptists justified, &c." 12mo. published by Gale and Fenner, Paternoster-row.

argument, that he was thought to have said more for the Baptists than they were able to offer for themselves. The design of this excellent prelate, in exhibiting the weight of the arguments they could allege, and the great probability of truth on their side, was to abate the fury of their adversaries; and to shew that they were, if in an error, still entitled to candour and indulgence


But neither their own vindications, nor the pleas of so generous an advocate, could screen them from that spirit of intolerance which actuated the predominant parties of those times. One of the seventeen canons, which were passed by the convocation of 1640, viz. the fifth canon, particularly decreed, that another canon, which was directed against the Papists, should be in full force against all Anabaptists. In the following years they were inveighed against from the press and the pulpit. Dr. Featley owned, that in writing against them he could hardly dip his pen in any thing but gall. The severe ordinances of the day were aimed at them as well as the other sectaries. Edwards, in his Gangræna," proposed a public disputation with them, and that on their being found in an error, the parliament would forbid all dipping, and take some severe course with all dippers, as the senate of Zurich did. In this he referred to an edict, published at Zurich in 1530, which made it death for any to baptize by immersion. On this law some, called Anabaptists, were tied back to back, and thrown into the sea: others were burnt alive, and many starved to death in prison §. But this was not the wish of Edwards alone. There was a general cry against toleration, especially of these people. In the petition of the lord mayor, court of aldermen and common council, in 1646, that a speedy course might be taken to suppress all private and separate congregations, the Anabaptists were by name specified |.

Sentiments against the rights of conscience, advanced by writers of reputation, and sanctioned by public acts, must be supposed to be productive of sufferings to individuals. It is proper to enter into the detail of these, as Mr. Neal has been thought to pass them over too generally, or to have represented them too partially.

Amongst others who felt the rage of bigotry was Mr. Vavasor Powell. This eminent Cambro-Briton was a native of Radnorshire, born in the year 1617, and descended from some of the best families in that county, as well as in those of Montgomery and Salop. Having received a liberal education in his native place, he was entered of Jesus college, Oxford, where he made great proficiency in the learned languages. On leaving college he took orders in the established church about the year 1640, and at first officiated in Wales, as curate to his uncle Erasmus Powell. He had not been long, however, in that situation when he joined the Puritans, from a conviction that their principles and proceedings

Crosby, vol. 1. p. 165-169.
Gangræna, part 3. p. 177.

+ Mr. Neal, vol. 1. p. 625. § Crosby, vol. I. p. 183. || Ibid. p. 184.

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