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seipsum accusare, he refused to be his own accuser. The ceremony had been performed in the night, which indicates the severity of the times against such as held his principles and acted upon them: just as the primitive Christians, under persecution, held their assemblies at that season
About the same time Mr. Coppe, a minister in Warwickshire, and preacher to the garrison in Compton-house in the said county, for rebaptizing was committed to Coventry gaol. On publishing the ordinance of parliament, in 1645, against unordained ministers, the lord-mayor sent his officers, on a Sunday, to the Baptist meeting in Coleman-street, London, on an information that laymen preached there. The officers found the religious exercises conducted by Mr. Lamb, the elder of the church, and a young man who was a teacher amongst them. Some of the congregation, incensed at the disturbance given to their worship, used rough language to them; but Mr. Lamb behaved respectfully, requested leave to finish the religious service, and engaged to appear before the lord-mayor at six o'clock. The officers acquiesced, and withdrew and at the time appointed Mr. Lamb and his assistant met at his lordship's house. He was interrogated on what authority he presumed to preach, and was told that he had transgressed the ordinance of parliament. Mr. Lamb replied, "No; for that he was called and appointed to the office by as reformed a church as any in the world,” alluding to the words of the ordinance. But he acknowledged that he rejected the baptism of infants as invalid. After the examination, they were bound over to answer before the committee of the parliament, who, after hearing them, committed both to gaol, where they lay till the intercession of friends procured their liberty+.
In the same year, Mr. Paul Hobson, a Baptist minister, was taken into custody by the governor of Newport-Pagnel, for preaching against infant baptism, and reflecting on the order against the preaching of laymen. After a short confinement, he was sent prisoner to London. He was soon cited before the committee; and, having several friends of rank and influence, he was immediately discharged, and preached publicly at a meetinghouse in Moorfields 1.
The case of Mr. Hanserd Knollys runs into more particulars. He was a man of piety and learning, and had received ordination from the bishop of Peterborough, but was afterward a zealous opposer of episcopacy and the liturgy. Preaching one Lord's day, at the earnest and repeated request of the churchwardens, when they wanted a minister, in Bow-church, Cheapside, he was led by his subject to speak against the practice of infant baptism. This gave great offence to some of the auditory; a complaint was lodged against him with the parliament; and by a warrant from
* Crosby, vol. 1. p. 221-224; where are the examinations taken on the occasion.
† Crosby, vol. 1. p. 225, 226.
Edwards's Gangræna, vol. 1. p. 34. 37.
the committee for plundered ministers, he was apprehended by the keeper of Ely-house, and kept several days in prison, bail being refused. At length he was brought to a hearing before the committee, when about thirty of the assembly of divines were present. The answers which he gave on his examination, about his authority to preach, the occasion of his appearing in the pulpit at Bow-church, and the doctrine he had there advanced being satisfactory, he was discharged without blame, or paying fees; and the jailer was sharply reproved for refusing bail, and threatened to be turned out of his post.
Soon after this, Mr. Knollys went into Suffolk, and preached in several places, as opportunity offered, at the request of friends. But as he was accounted an Antinomian and Anabaptist, his supposed errors were deemed as criminal as sedition and faction, and the virulence of the mob was instigated against him by the highconstable. At one time he was stoned out of the pulpit; at another time the doors of the church were shut against him and his hearers. Upon this he preached in the church-yard, which was considered as a crime too great to be connived at or excused. At length he was taken into custody, and was first prosecuted at a petty sessions in the county, and then sent up a prisoner to London with articles of complaint against him to the parliament. On his examination, he proved, by witnesses of reputation, that he had neither sowed sedition, nor raised a tumult, and that all the disorders which had happened were owing to the violence and malignity of his opposers, who had acted contrary both to law and common civility. He produced copies of the sermons he had preached, and afterward printed them. His answers were so satisfactory, that on the report made by the committee to the house, he was not only discharged, but a vote passed, that he might have liberty to preach in any part of Suffolk, when the minister of the place did not himself preach there. But, beside the trouble which this business occasioned to him, it devolved on him an expense of 607.
Mr. Knollys, finding how much offence was taken at his preaching in the church, and to what troubles it exposed him, set up a separate meeting in Great St. Helens, London; where the people flocked to hear him, and he had generally a thousand auditors. Great umbrage was taken at this; the landlord was prevailed upon to warn him out of the place, and Mr. Knollys was summoned before a committee of divines, who used to sit in the room called the Queen's Court, Westminster, to answer for his conduct in this matter. The chairman asked, why he presumed to preach without holy orders? To which he replied, he was in holy orders. The chairman on this was informed, that he had renounced episcopal ordination: this Mr. Knollys confessed, but pleaded, that he was now ordained, in a church of God, according to the order of the gospel, and then explained the manner of ordination among the Baptists. At last he was commanded to preach no more:
but he told them, that he would preach the gospel, both publicly and from house to house; saying, "It was more equal to obey Christ who commanded him, than those who forbade him :" and so went away. A letter, which Mr. Knollys wrote to Mr. Dutton, of Norwich, in which were some reflections on the persecuting measures of those times, and which, coming into the hands of the Suffolk committee, was sent up to London, and presently published by one of the chief promoters of persecution, is supposed to have inflamed the proceedings against him*. As it is short, I will give a copy of it below. It was too common a practice, then, to seize and publish the letters of those who were called sectaries.
The unsettled state of the times in which Mr. Knollys's lot was cast, occasioned a great variation in his circumstances, and obliged him often to change his place of abode. Sometimes he was possessed of several hundred pounds, the fruits of his industry in teaching youth; at others, he had neither home to dwell in, nor food to eat, nor money to purchase it! And frequently was he hurried from place to place, by the evil of the times, and the malice of his persecutors. When the rage of his adversaries would no longer permit him to remain in Lincolnshire, he removed to London: Here he opened a school upon Tower-hill, and took a few young men under his care to finish their education and fit them for the work of the ministry. He was also chosen master of the Free school in St. Mary-Axe; but the oppressive hand of power compelled him to abandon this employment, and seek an asylum across the Atlantic. There he continued about five years, preaching the gospel and building up the churches that had lately been gathered in that wilderness. In 1641, he returned to his native country, at the pressing solicitation of his aged father. At this time Mr. Knollys was reduced to great straits in his worldly circumstances, but his friends were numerous, and often interposed with seasonable relief. The words of the apostle were, indeed, literally fulfilled in the experience of this good man, that
Crosby, vol. 1. p. 226-230; and a very short and partial account in Edwards's Gangræna, vol. 1. p. 39.
"I salute you in the Lord. Your letter I received the last day of the week; and upon the first day I did salute the brethren in your name, who re-salute you, and pray for you. The city Presbyterians have sent a letter to the synod, dated from Sion-college, against any toleration; and they are fasting and praying at Sion-college this day, about farther contrivings against God's poor innocent ones; but God will doubtless answer them according to the idol of their own hearts. To-morrow there is a fast kept by both houses, and the synod at Westminster. They say it is to seek God about the establishing of worship according to their covenant. They have first vowed, now they make inquiry. God will certainly 'take the crafty in their own snare, and make the wisdom of the wise foolishness; for he chooseth the foolish things of this world to confound the wise, and weak things to confound the mighty.' My wife and family remember their love to you. Salute the brethren that are with you. Farewell.
"Your brother in the faith and fellowship of the gospel, "HANSERD KNOLLYS. "London, the 13th day of the 11th month called January, 1645."
"we have here no continuing city!" We can trace him from this country to America-and then back again: from England into Wales-from London to Holland, and from thence into Germany-then back to Rotterdam, and from the latter place to London once more. These wanderings about, too, were not the effects of choice, but of necessity. They tended, however, greatly to the exercise of his graces, and furnished him with numerous instances of the providential mercies of God towards him.
Shortly after the Restoration, in 1660, Mr. Knollys, with many other innocent persons, was dragged from his own dwelling house, and committed to Newgate, where he was kept in close custody for eighteen weeks, until released by an act of grace, on the king's coronation. At that time, four hundred persons were confined in the same prison, for refusing to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. A royal proclamation was issued at this time, prohibiting Anabaptists and other sectaries from worshipping God in public, except at their parish-church. This cruel edict was the signal for persecution, and the forerunner of those sanguinary laws which disgraced the reigns of the Stuarts; and to these must be attributed the frequent removals to which Mr. Knollys was compelled to have recourse. During his absence in Holland and Germany, his property was confiscated to the crown, and when the law did not sanction the act, a party of soldiers was dispatched to take forcible possession of his property. When the Conventicle-act passed in 1670, Mr. Knollys was apprehended at a place of worship in George-yard, and committed to prison. But here he obtained favour of his jailer, who allowed him to preach to the prisoners twice a week during his confinement.
Mr. Knollys lived to the advanced age of ninety-three, and quitted the world in a transport of joy, 19th of September, 1691. He was buried in Bunhill-fields *.
Mr. John Sims, who preached at Southampton, was a sufferer among the Baptists during this period (1646). He was prevailed on, in a journey to Taunton, to preach in the parish-church of Middlesey. On this he was seized by virtue of the act against unordained ministers, and several letters, which he was to deliver to some pious friends, were taken from him. These with the examination were sent to London, by way of complaint against him, and printed. The charges specified in the examination were for preaching and denying infant-baptism. He admitted the latter, and pleaded against the former, that "as Peter was called, so was he t."
The next name on the list of sufferers is Mr. Andrew Wyke. On his examination he refused to answer to the questions concern
* Crosby's Baptists, vol. 3. p. 93; and vol. 4. p. 295. Brooks's Puritans, vol. 3. p. 491.
Crosby, vol. 1. p. 232, 233; and Edwards's Gangræna, vol. 2. p. 50, &c. where four of the letters are printed.
ing the doctrines he held, or his authority for preaching; alleging, that as a freeman of England he was not bound to answer to any interrogatories, either to accuse himself or others: but if they had aught against him, they should lay their charge, and produce their proofs. This conduct was looked upon as great obstinacy, and expressive of high contempt of authority; and he was therefore sent to jail, 3d of June 1646. The duration of his imprisonment is not known; but while he was under confinement a pamphlet, drawn up by himself or some friend, entitled "The Innocent in Prison complaining," being a narrative of the proceedings against him, was published: in which the committee and some members of it did not escape severe reflection *.
The last person, whom I shall mention as suffering in this period, is Mr. Samuel Oates; whose name is brought forward by Mr. Neal, in a manner that has provoked, not wholly without reason, the severe censure of Mr. Crosby; for it leaves the reader to confound this Oates with Titus Oates, so noted in our historians with a brand of infamy upon him; and uninformed of the issue of the proceedings against him on the heavy charge of murder.
This Mr. Samuel Oates was a popular preacher, and great disputant. On a journey into Essex, in 1646, he preached in several parts of that country, and baptized by immersion a great number of people, especially about Bocking, Braintree, and Tarling. Amongst the hundreds he baptized, one died within a few weeks after, and her death was imputed to her being dipped in cold water. The magistrate was prevailed upon to apprehend Mr. Oates on this charge, and to send him to prison, and to put him in irons as a murderer, in order to his trial at the ensuing assizes. The name of the woman was Ann Martin, and the report spread against Mr. Oates was, that in the administration of baptism" he held her so long in the water, that she fell presently sick; that her belly swelled with the abundance of water she took in; that, within a fortnight or three weeks she died; and on her death-bed expressed this dipping to be the cause of her death." He was arraigned for his life at Chelmsford assizes. But on the trial, several credible witnesses, amongst them the mother of the deceased, deposed on oath, that "Ann Martin was in better health for several days after her baptism than she had been for some time before, and that she was seen to walk abroad afterward very comfortably." So that, notwithstanding all the design and malignity which discovered themselves in the trial he was brought in Not Guilty. But this verdict was not sufficient to disarm the rage of the populace against him. For a little time after, some who were known to have been baptized going, occasionally, to Wethersfield in Essex, on alarm being given that Mr. Oates and his companions were come, the mob arose and seized upon these
* Edwards, vol. 2. p. 169; Crosby, vol. 1. p. 235.