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head of ecclesiastical affairs. He preserved, however, the character of a man of abilities and great learning. After episcopacy and the common-prayer were laid aside, he was for some time minister at Bedford. In 1645 he came to London, and was one of the principal managers on the part of the Baptists in a public dispute concerning infant-baptism, at Aldermanbury-church, to which a stop was afterward put by the government. In the year 1646, when seven churches, in London, called Anabaptists, published a confession of their faith, and presented it to parliament, his name, in behalf of one of those congregations, was subscribed to it. Though, when the act of Uniformity, in 1662, took place, he at first conformed; yet his conscience soon after upbraiding him for that step, he obeyed its dictates by throwing up his living, and died a Nonconformist and a Baptist, in a very advanced age; for Mr. Baxter, with whom he had a dispute by word of mouth and by writing, called him, at the beginning of the civil wars, an ancient minister. He suffered imprisonment for his opinions concerning baptism in the city of Coventry*.
Here is a proper place for observing, that at the Restoration, several parishes were found to have Baptist ministers fixed in them. The cause of this was, that in the year 1653, when a certain number of men called triers were authorized to examine and approve candidates for the ministry, Mr. Tombes, notwithstanding his difference in opinion from the rest, such was the estimation in which his character was held, was appointed to be one of them. Among other good effects that followed upon this, one was, that the commissioners agreed to own Baptists their brethren; and that if any such applied to them for probation, and appeared in other respects duly qualified, they should not be rejected for holding their sentiments+.
The history of the Baptists, from the accession of James II. to the Revolution, is confined to some brief accounts of the sufferings and characters of several ministers who were in estimation among them, and died in this period.
But we should first mention one, whose name should have been introduced in the preceding reign: Mr. Abraham Chear, a native of Plymouth, who, though he did not enjoy a liberal education, knew the Scriptures from his childhood, and delighted in searching them. About 1648 he was baptized, and joined the Baptist church in that town, and was soon after invited to be their pastor, for which character he was fitted by peculiar gifts and graces. In 1661 he suffered three months' imprisonment in Exeter jail, on the conventicle act. In 1662 he was again cast into that prison; after his release he was imprisoned at the Guildhall in Plymouth: then, after a month's detention, he was con-. fined, under military guard, in the isle of Plymouth; where,
*Crosby, vol. 1. p. 353, 354.
† Ibid. p. 289.
after full five years' imprisonment in different jails, and enduring many inhumanities from merciless jailors, he yielded up his spirit without pang or considerable groan, the 5th of March 1668. his death the church consisted of one hundred and fifty members. After this the persecution broke out with greater fury, and it suffered much till king James's declaration for liberty of conscience revived their drooping spirits, and were almost twenty years destitute of a pastor. Mr. Chear was a laborious and successful preacher. In his confinement he wrote several religious tracts, and letters to his friends full of Christian exhortations to constancy and steadfastness. One of these, an acknowledgment of some provisions sent to him and his fellow-prisoners, most expressive of cheerfulness in their sufferings and gratitude to their benefactors, is preserved by Crosby. During his illness, almost to his last moment, he continued glorifying God, and exhorting all who visited him to perseverance in those perilous times: speaking with earnest concern about the guilt contracted in these nations by persecuting God's faithful servants; and with great joy and assurance concerning the delight which God takes in his suffering saints, and the ample recompence he will hereafter render for their present sorrows; particularly on the Lord's day preceding his dissolution. About three hours before it, a friend perceiving him under great pressures, said softly to him, They looked unto the lord, and were lightened: a right look will bring down relief under all difficulties." "Yea (he replied, with great strength and earnestness), and their faces were not ashamed*."
In the reign of James II. died, at Kelby in Leicestershire, where he was minister of a Baptist congregation, Mr. Richard Farmer, the friend of Mr. Clarke and Mr. Shuttleworth, eminent ejected ministers in that county. He was a hard student and an affecting preacher, and frequently officiated among the Independents. He had a small estate to live upon, in which he suffered greatly for his religious principles, as distress was made by virtue of a justice's warrant upon his goods; and they took from him, in one year, to the value of 1107.
Another, who suffered much in this period for his nonconformity, and was several times prisoner at York, at Leeds, and at Chester, was Mr. Thomas Hardcastle, ejected from Bramham, in the county of York. He was born at Barwick upon Holm, and received his education under Mr. Jackson, of that town, a learned divine. He had not been long in the ministry, when the act of uniformity passed: he preached afterward at Shadwell chapel and other places. He was a man of pregnant parts, eminent learning and piety, of great moderation and catholicism, though of a bold spirit, which feared no danger. In 1671 he was, on the
*Thompson's Collections, MSS., and Crosby's History of the English Baptists, vol. 3. p. 11-24.
+ Ibid. 118, 119.
death of Mr. Ewins*, invited to be pastor of a congregation of Baptists, who had separated from the establishment early in 1640, though they continued their attendance at sermon, but not at the prayers, in the parish-church on the morning of the Lord's day, spending the afternoon and evening in religious exercises among themselves. Mr. Cann, the author of the marginal references to the Bible, preached adult baptism to them, and settled them in church-order, without making baptism a term of communion. On Mr. Hardcastle's settlement with them, they took four rooms on the Lamb pavement, Broadmead, and made them into one of sixteen yards long and fifteen broad. At Bristol he was sent to the house of correction; he died suddenly, 20th of August, 1678, universally lamented. He published one practical treatise. He was succeeded by another ejected minister.
Mr. George Fownes, who settled with this society Sept. 16, 1679, found the number of members, which amounted, when Mr. Hardcastle became their pastor, to a hundred, increased to one hundred and sixty-six, of which thirty-one were Pædobaptists. Mr. Fownes was born in Shropshire, and received his classical education at Shrewsbury, where his grandson, the ingenious and learned Mr. Joseph Fownes, was for many years a dissenting minister. His father dying he was sent to Cambridge. He was an able preacher, and a man of great learning, and was conversant in law, physic, and other branches of science. He voluntarily quitted the parish-church before the Restoration, though he continued preaching in different places till he fixed at Bristol. About the time of what was called the Presbyterian plot, he was taken in the pulpit, and committed to Newgate; but by virtue of a flaw in the mittimus, he was in six weeks removed by a habeas corpus to the King's-bench, and acquitted. He was afterward apprehended on the highway in Kingswood, on suspicion of only coming from a meeting, and committed to Gloucester jail, for re
Mr. Ewins was ejected from a living in Bristol: though he was no scholar, and had been a mechanic, he was esteemed as a judicious, methodical preacher; was remarkable for his meekness, patience, and charity: in his ministerial duties he was popular, laborious, and successful, ready to preach on most days when not otherwise employed; grave and serious every where, and full of good discourse. He was so scrupulous about maintenance, that he would accept no tithes nor salary, but only free gifts. The bishop of Bristol invited him to conform, but he could by no means be satisfied to comply. When, in 1651, he was invited by the Separatists at Bristol, to become their minister-he was a Pædobaptist. About 1654, he embraced the opinions of the Baptists, and was baptized in London. In 1660 the members of his society were turned out of the churches, and in 1662 he was ordained their pastor. He went through a variety of persecutions, and was often in prison, once for a whole year, when he preached twice a day. There he contracted a lethargic distemper, of which he died, aged about sixty, in April 1670, greatly lamented. He was buried in St. James's church-yard, April 29, and a vast concourse of people attended his funeral. He was sometimes abused in the streets, but would not attempt to retaliate; for he said " Vengeance is God's; my duty is patience." Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, vol. 2. p. 351; and Thompson's Collections, MSS.
+ Thompson's Collections, MSS. Crosby, vol. 3. p. 27, 28; and Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, vol. 2. p. 557.
fusing the corporation-oath, and riding within five miles of a corporation witnesses were suborned to swear a riot against him, though no other rioter was named in the bill; he pleaded his own cause very pleasantly; telling them, "that he and his horse could not be guilty of a riot without company;" and the jury brought in their verdict, Not guilty: yet he was returned back to prison; and refusing to give a bond for good behaviour, of which he knew preaching would be interpreted to be a forfeiture, he was detained there for two years and a half, till God released him by death in December 1685. He was afflicted with the stone, and a physician declared" that his confinement was his death; and that it was no less murder than if they had run him through the first day he came in, and more cruel *."
Another eminent minister and writer among the Baptists at this time, was Mr. Henry D'Anvers, a worthy man, of unspotted life and conversation, a joint elder of a Baptist congregation at Aldgate, London; and author of "A Treatise of Baptism," which drew him into a controversy with Mr. Wills, Mr. Blinman, and Mr. Baxter, in whose writings, if we may credit a letter published by Mr. D'Anvers, and sent to him by a person of quality, of known worth, ability, and moderation, "there were more heat, passion, and personal reflections, than of reason, or a sober inquisition of truth." Mr. D'Anvers was descended from honourable parents, his father being a gentleman who had an estate of 4007. a year; he himself was governor of Stafford, and a justice of peace, some time before Oliver's usurpation, and well beloved by the people. He was noted for one who would take no bribes. At Stafford he first embraced the opinions of the Baptists+.
In 1687, May 14th, died Mr. Thomas Wilcox, minister of a congregation, which met previous to the plague at his own house in Cannon-street; but afterward at the Three Cranes in the Borough, Southwark; and author of a popular little piece, which has been frequently reprinted, entitled, "A Drop of Honey from the Rock Christ." He was born at Linden, in the county of Rutland, August 1622; was several times confined in Newgate for nonconformity, and suffered very much. He was a moderate man, and of catholic principles, well beloved by all denominations, and frequently preached among the Presbyterians and Independents.
October 3, 1687, died, aged fifty-three, Mr. John Gosnold, who had been a scholar at the Charterhouse, and a student at Pembroke-hall, Cambridge, a man of great learning and piety: a pious practical preacher, of singular modesty and moderation; intimately acquainted with Tillotson, whose weekly lecture he used to attend, and was much esteemed and valued by other men of note and dignity in the established church, who kept up a cor
* Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, vol. 1. p. 243, &c. Crosby, vol. 3. p. 28, 29; and Thompson's Collections, MSS.
+ Crosby, vol. 3. p. 90.
respondence with him. He was educated for the pulpit in the establishment, but by the act of uniformity made incapable of any settlement in it. He was chaplain to lord Grey. Having joined the Baptists, he was chosen pastor of a congregation at Barbican, in London; and was one of the ministers who subscribed the apology presented to Charles II. on occasion of Venner's conspiracy. Though he was always peaceably minded, he was often forced to conceal himself. His flock held him in great respect, and his preaching was so popular as to draw after him people of all denominations. His audience was usually computed to be near three thousand; and among them very often six or seven clergymen in their gowns, who sat in a convenient place, under a large gallery, where they were seen by few. The number of his auditors, and the figure which some of them made, occasioned, after the fire of London, an application from the officers of the parish of Cripplegate to request a collection for the poor, who abounded in that parish. The request was complied with, upwards of 50l. was raised, and the church voluntarily continued the collection for above twenty years. His publications were, a small treatise entitled, "The Doctrine of Baptism;" and another concerning the laying on of hands." He was buried in Bunhillfields, with this simple inscription:
"Here lieth the body of Mr. John Gosnold, a faithful minister of the gospel, who departed this life October the 3d, 1678, and in the fifty-third year of his age."