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written in plain precepts in the Mosaical law: but hath the Lord Jesus invested magistrates with such power? if he have, where is it written? The Jews, all the time they kept to the law of God, had a standing oracle amongst them, the Urim and Thummim, and the counsels of extraordinary prophets to assist them to judge righteous judgments. Besides, the gospel is a dispensation far different from the law in all its ordinances and administrations, under which the Lord Jesus is the only lawgiver.
Such is the strain of this piece: the importance of the subject, the force of the argument, and the liberality of the spirit, entitle it to particular notice; and will, it is presumed, make this review of it acceptable*. The authors of it, whose names are subscribed to the prefatory epistle, were, Thomas Monck, Joseph Wright, George Hammon, William Jeffery, Francis Stanley, William Reynolds, and Francis Smith. While they earnestly recommend their treatise to deliberate and serious perusal, our design, they say, "in what we beg may be perused, is general good, in setting at liberty that which God made free, even the conscience."
The only particulars I can find concerning these able advocates for liberty are, that Mr. Wright, born in 1623, was a physician : he was educated at the university, and was a man of great learning and piety; a serious and diligent preacher, and greatly promoted the cause of the Baptists. He was confined twenty years in the jail at Maidstone; in this town he died, aged eighty, in 1703+. Mr. George Hammon, eminent for the ardour and freedom with which he vindicated what he judged to be truth on all occasions, and very much persecuted on that account, was pastor of a congregation at Biddendon in Kent; and died at Haseldens-wood, in the parish of Cranbrook ‡. Mr. William Jeffery, born in 1616, of pious parents, in the parish of Penshurst, lived at Bradbourn, in Sevenoaks, Kent; where he and his brother were the great supporters, if not the founders, of a meeting. By his diligence, and that of several others, more than twenty congregations were formed in that county, on the principles laid down in Heb. vi. 1, 2, without entering on speculative and controverted points. As he was vigorous, unwearied, and successful, in his labours, so with great patience and pleasure he suffered much for his principles; these he also often defended in public disputations. He was much valued for his steady piety and universal virtue, and died in a good old age §. His son succeeded him in his church. Mr. Francis Stanley was a man noted for his zeal and piety, and was imprisoned for preaching, in the jail of Northampton. He bore his sufferings like a Christian, and died about the year 1696. He was a native of Northamptonshire, and was buried at East-Haddon, in that
Mr. Crosby has preserved it entire in his History, vol. 2. p. 100-144. † Crosby, vol. 3. p. 116. Ibid. p. 103. Ibid. p. 97, 98.
county*. Of the other persons Mr. Crosby gives no particular
In the same year in which appeared the piece on Toleration, there were published, a small piece, entitled, "A Complaint of the Oppressed against the Oppressors; or, the unjust and arbitrary proceedings of some soldiers and justices, against some sober, godly persons, in and near London, who now lie in stinking jails, for the testimony of a good conscience; with some reasons why they cannot swear allegiance to obtain their liberty:" and a tract, entitled, "A Plea for Toleration of Opinions and Persuasions in matters of Religion, differing from the church of England: humbly presented to the king's most excellent majesty : by Mr. John Sturgeon, a Baptist." The former was written by Dr. John Griffith, a worthy man, who suffered a long imprisonment in Newgate for nonconformity. Each piece was an affecting remonstrance on the unjust proceedings, by which many pious and innocent persons, of unblemished characters, in London, and in almost all the counties of England, were suffering; being taken out of their beds at midnight by soldiers, acting without warrant, and with drawn swords, to the great terror of their wives and children; and being thrust into prisons, in such crowds that the jailers complained they had too many guests; and detained there to the ruin of their families +.
Mr. James Atkins, one of those who were harassed by the magistrates of Dover, on his own behalf, and in the cause of his fellow-sufferers, addressed a letter to the mayor and justices of that town, under the name of "A Poor Subject;" acknowledging a submission to the civil magistrate, except in what concerned the worship of God, and entreating in the bowels of love a consideration of the evil of restraining their liberty t.
In the year 1662, there came from the press a small pamphlet, entitled, "Behold a Cry; or, a true relation of the inhuman and violent outrages of divers soldiers, constables, and others, practised upon many of the Lord's people, commonly, though falsely, called Anabaptists, at their several meetings in and about London."
An incident which took place in Lincolnshire in 1670, called forth a vindication of their principles from this denomination in a different form from the preceding publications. Mr. Robert Wright, who had been a preacher amongst them, but was on account of his irregu-. lar life and conversation excluded their society, having spent his estate, applied to Dr. William Fuller, the bishop of that diocess, for orders and a benefice; promising to renounce his sentiments concerning baptism, and to preach against the Baptists. The bishop accepted his offer; he was admitted in the ministry of the church of England, and preachred in support of the baptism of infants, in opposition to that of believers, with great ardour and confi
Crosby, vol. 3. p. 127.
+ Ibid. vol. 2. p. 144-148; and vol. 3. p. 120. Ibid. vol. 2. p. 151, 152.
dence. This excited great attention, the minds of many were much impressed by it, and it was supposed that most, if not all the ministers of the Baptist churches would be easily confuted. They, in their own vindication, at the assizes, posted up, in different parts of the city of Lincoln, four papers, addressed to the citizens and inhabitants, inviting Mr. Wright to a friendly conference, and offering to maintain the doctrine and baptism of repentance to be from heaven, and the sprinkling and crossing of infants to be man's tradition. They were dated the 11th day of the first month (vulg.) March, 1670. Two of them were taken down in the morning, and were, it was supposed, carried to the bishop and the judge. The other two were permitted to remain till the afternoon, and were read by many, till they were removed by the clergy, who threatened the writers of them should answer for it before the council-table. But though the bishop, it was well known, was not a little moved by these proceedings of the Baptists, no other step was taken on the occasion, than sending to them an angry paper, drawn up by Mr. William Silverton, the bishop's chaplain, who called them erroneous, antic Baptists. To this paper Mr. Grantham replied, promising Mr. Silverton either to hear and discuss his arguments in a free audience, if he would fix a convenient time and place for the purpose; or to reply to him, if he would defend his sentiments from the press. Here the matter ended, as Mr. Silverton saw fit to be silent *.
The only publication which remains to be noticed in this period, was, "A narrative of the late proceedings of some justices and others, pretending to put in execution the late act against conventicles; against several peaceable people in and about the town of Lewes in Sussex, only for their being quietly met to worship God: together with a brief account of the like proceedings against some at Brighthelmstone, and others at Chillington, in the same county." This professed to be a faithful narrative, published with a view to encourage others to suffer the spoiling of their goods by the example of many, who endured it with patience and joyfulness; and with the hope, that by it the harsh proceedings against a peaceable people might come to the knowledge of some in authority, who, out of pity to the distressed, and justice to their righteous cause, would redress their grievances †. Such narratives were indeed well adapted to each purpose, and were an affecting appeal to the sense of humanity and equity.
* Crosby, vol. 2. p. 241–244.
+ Ibid. vol. 2. p. 245, 246.
FROM THE DECLARATION OF INDULGENCE TO THE
A CONTROVERSY arose among the Baptists, about this time, respecting the laying on of hands, which created not a little altercation and trouble. Hitherto, it appears that this rite was practised by them as an apostolical ordinance, and was accompanied with prayer over the newly-baptized. A treatise, entitled "A Search after Schism," was published in opposition to it. This was answered by Dr. John Griffith, in a piece called "The Searchers after Schism searched," and it drew from Mr. Grantham his "Sigh for Peace; or, the Cause of Division discovered." The appearance of this piece occasioned a meeting between Mr. Grantham and Mr. Ives, when the subject was debated with temper and good humour; and Mr. Ives is reported, on finding himself gravelled, to have broken up the meeting in a friendly and peaceable manner. About three years after, Mr. Danvers published a treatise against laying on of hands, which was answered by Mr. Benjamin Keach, and also by Mr. Grantham, who annexed to his answer, "A Treatise of the Successors of the Apostles."
In 1674, the Baptists were engaged in a controversy with the Quakers, which created a noise, and was conducted, as is usual, by mutual criminations. Mr. Thomas Hicks, a minister of the former, published several pamphlets in succession, under the title of "A Dialogue between a Christian and a Quaker." The title these pieces bore was certainly invidious, and held up the Quakers as not deserving to be ranked among Christians. It was also complained of, that the design of them was not so much to investigate truth as to represent the Quaker a deformed, ridiculous, and erroneous being. The great Penn, on this occasion, became the advocate of the people to whom he had joined himself, in two
ooks; the first entitled, "Reason against Railing;" and the other, "The Counterfeit Christian detected." But as Mr. Hicks had reflected upon some particular members by name, an appeal was made to the Baptists, in and about London, for justice against him. A meeting was accordingly appointed to hear the charges against him; but they are censured for fixing the time when the complainants, Penn and Whitehead, were absent from the city at a distance too remote to be apprised of the intended meeting. It was urged in defence of the Baptists, that they were informed that Penn was not far from London several days after the notice of the meeting was sent, and even at his own house at no great distance from the town the very day preceding and that they had invited others of the society, particularly John Osgoods, to be present, who declined it. The meeting took place, and Mr. Hicks was examined by his own friends only on the charges brought against him by the Quakers; and he endeavoured
to establish the representations he had made of their principles and doctrines by quotations from their own writers. These were pronounced, by nineteen of his own denomination, to be truly recited, and the church to which he belonged, in public print, cleared him from the charge which the Quakers alleged against him. This decision was deemed partial. On the face of it, though the business was said to be conducted with great fairness, it was open to objection. The Baptists refused to defer the meeting, though solicited. No Quaker was present to be heard on the grounds of the charges. And, though the passages might be quoted with verbal exactness, which Mr. Hicks brought as his authorities, yet they were detached from their connexion, and a meaning affixed to them which probably the writers, if they had been there to explain themselves, would not have admitted as their sense. New complaints were brought forward against the Baptists; and justice again demanded. A meeting for a rehearing was obtained; but Mr. Hicks would not attend it, but sent some others with Mr. Ives; "who (says Crosby) so managed the Quakers that they were obliged to break up without any farther proceedings in the matter." "By clamours and rudeness (says Gough), they diverted the complainants from prosecuting the charge against Hicks, and carried their point so far as to prevent its being heard, though frequent attempts were made to read it." The Baptists published an account of these meetings, under the title of "A Contest for Christianity." Mr. Tho. Welwood, in behalf of his friends, appealed to the public, first in a single sheet, entitled, "A fresh Pursuit ;" and then, in reply to the "Contest," which was written by Mr. Thomas Plant, in a piece entitled, "Forgery no Christianity." The issue of this controversy is represented, on the one hand, to be, that the Quakers were so chafed in these disputes, that they did not only brand the Baptists with infamy, but denounced curses and judgments upon On the other side it is said, "that the aim of this unprovoked assault upon the principles and reputation of this society was remarkably frustrated; and these dialogues, with their ungenerous and unequitable method of defending them and their author, promoted what they were designed to prevent; for not a few of their members, offended at their proceedings, deserted their meetings and society, went over to the injured party, and joined them in religious fellowship*.
In the year 1677, the Baptists published "A Confession of their Faith, set forth by the elders and brethren of many congregations of Christians, baptized upon profession of their faith, in London and the country." Their avowed design in this publication was, not only to give an account of themselves on the points wherein they differed from other Christians, but also to instruct and establish others in the great principles in which there was a mutual agreement between them. They aimed to express themselves,
* Crosby's History of the English Baptists, vol. 2. p. 294–310. Gough's Hisry of the Quakers, vol. 2. p. 368–371.