B. (Benjamin) Brook.

The lives of the Puritans: containing a biographical account of those divines who distinguished themselves in the cause of religious liberty, from the reformation under Queen Elizabeth, to the Act of uniformity in 1662 (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryB. (Benjamin) BrookThe lives of the Puritans: containing a biographical account of those divines who distinguished themselves in the cause of religious liberty, from the reformation under Queen Elizabeth, to the Act of uniformity in 1662 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 48)
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IN 1662.




The memory of the just is blessed. — Solomon.

The precious spark of liberty had been kindled, and was preserved, by
the Puritans alone; and it was to this Sect that the English owe the whole
freedom of their constitution.— Hume.











.1 H E formation of your principles, the in-
struction of your minds, and the salvation of
your souls, are, unquestionably, objects of
high importance to yourselves, to your con-
nexions, and to the protestant interest at
large. When your fathers are translated from
the church militant to the church triumph-
ant, you will inherit their property, and will
occupy their stations. On you it will devolve
to manage the affairs of religion, to be zealous
for its interests, and active for its prosperity.


\ i *:}


But, if you be ignorant of its principles and
destitute of its blessings, this zeal and acti-
vity cannot be expected. "By enlightening
your understandings with truth, and by
impressing your hearts with the power of
religion, we hope to secure your attachment
to the cause of God, and to engage your
talents and your future influence in its

Of all books which can be put into your
hands, those which relate the labours and
suiferings of good men are the most inte-
resting and instructive. In them you see
orthodox principles, christian tempers, and
holy duties, in lovely union and in vigorous
operation. In them you see religion shining
forth in real life, subduing the corruptions of
human nature, and inspiring a zeal for every
good work. In them you see the reproaches
and persecutions which the servants of God
have endured ; those gracious principles which
have supported their minds ; and the course
they have pursued in their progress to the


kingdom of heaven. Such books are well
calculated to engage your attention, to affect
jour feelings, to deepen jour best impres-
sions, and to invigorate jour noblest resolu-
tions. Thej are well calculated to fortifj
jou against the allurements of a vain world ;
to assimilate jour characters to those of the
excellent of the earth ; to conform 3'our lives
to the standard of holiness; and to educate
your souls for the mansions of glorj.

The Puritans were a race of men of whom
the world was not worth j. Thej devoted
their dajs and nights to hard studj; they
cherished devotional feelings ; and thej en-
jojed intimate communion with God. The
stores of their minds were expended, and the
energj of their souls was exerted, to separate
the truths of the gospel from the heresies of
the times in which thej lived ; to resist the
encroachments of arbitrarj power; to purifj
the church frorn secularitj and corruption;
and to promote the power of religion among
the people. Thej persevered in this course


amidst a host of difficulties, and in defiance
of the most powerful opposition. The rulers
of those times persecuted them with wanton
cruelty, in total contempt of every sacred
law, of every just principle, and of every
humane feeling.

From these volumes you will learn, that
the glorious cause of Nonconformity has
been adorned by the holy lives of a mul-
titude of good men ; has been consecrated
by the blood of martyrs; and has been sanc-
tioned by the approbation and protection of

For their exalted attainments in piety,
their assiduous researches in literature and
divinity, and their unwearied exertions in the
cause of God and their country, the Puritan
divines are entitled to the admiration and
reverence of every succeeding age. Our
political freedom, our religious liberty, and
our christian privileges, are to be ascribed to
them more than to any other body of men that
England ever produced. When you learn


by what struggles these blessings have been
acquired, and at what price they have been
obtained, you will know how to estimate
their value; and you w^ill regard the men
to whom we are indebted for them as dis-
tinguished benefactors to the English nation
and the church of God.

For the sacred cause of religion, the Pu-
ritan divines laboured and prayed, wrote and
preached, suffered and died ; and they have
transmitted it to us to support it, or to let it
sink. AVith what feelings wdll you receive
this precious inheritance ? Will you lightly
esteem w^hat they^ so highly valued ? Will
you stand aloof from the cause which they
watched with jealous vigilance, and defended
with invincible courage? If the blood of
these men run in your veins, if the principles
of these men exist in your souls, most as-
suredly you will not.

That you may learn the wisdom, and
imbibe the spirit of the Puritans ; — that you
may take them as patterns, imitate them as


examples, and follow them as guides, so far
as they followed Christ; — that you may
adhere to the cause of religion with the same
firmness, adorn it with the same holiness, and
propagate it with the same zeal, is the fer-
vent prayer of

Yours respectfully

and affectionately,



October 6, 1813.


At no period has biographical history been so
much esteemed and promoted as in these days of
christian freedom. The memoirs of wise and good
men, especially such as have suffered for the tes-
timony of a good conscience, afford interesting
entertainment and valuable instruction. To rescue
from oblivion impartial accounts of their holy
actions, their painful sufferings, and their triumph-
ant deaths, will confer a deserved honour upon
their memory : and there is, perhaps, no class of
men whose history better deserves to be transmitted
to posterity than that of the persons stigmatized by
the name of Puritans.

The cruelties exercised upon them were indeed
very great. They suffered for the testimony
OF A GOOD conscience, and an avowed attach-
ment TO THE cause OF Christ. The proofs which
they gave of their zeal, their fortitude, and their
integrity, were certainly as great as could be given.
They denied themselves those honours, prefer-


ments, and worldly advantages by which they
were allured to conformity. They suffered re-
proach, deprivation, and imprisonment; yea, the
loss of all things, rather than comply with those
inventions and impositions of men, which to them
appeared extremely derogatory to the gospel,
which would have robbed them of liberty of con-
science, and which tended to lead back to the
darkness and superstitions of popery. Many of
them, being persons of great ability, loyalty, and
interest, had the fairest prospect of high pro-
motion ; yet they sacrificed all for their noncon-
formity. Some modestly refused preferment when
offered them: while others, already preferred,
were prevented from obtaining higher promotion,
because they could not, with a good conscience,
comply with the ecclesiastical impositions. Nor
was it the least afflictive circumstance to the
Puritan divines, that they were driven from their
flocks, whom they loved as their own souls ;
and, instead of being allowed to labour for their
spiritual and eternal advantage, were obliged to
spend the best of their days in silence, imprison-
ment, or a state of exile in a foreign land.

The contents ©f these volumes tend to expose
the evil of bigotry and persecution. When pro-
fessed Protestants oppress and persecute their
brethren of the same faith, and of the same
communion, it is indeed marvellous. The faithful
page of history details the fact with the most
glaring evidence, or we could scarcely have


believed it. A spirit of intolerance and oppression
ever deserves to be held up to universal abhor-
rence. In allusion to this tragic scene, Sir William
Blackstone verv iiistlv observes, " That our an-
cestors were mistaken in their plans of compul-
sion and intolerance. The sin of schism, as such,
is by no means the object of coercion and
punishment. All persecution for diversity of
opinions, however ridiculous or absurd they
may be, is contrary to every principle of sound
policy and civil freedom. The names and sub-
ordination of the clergy, the posture of devo-
tion, the materials and colour of the minister's
garment, the joining in a known or unknown
form of prayer, and other matters of the same
kind, must be left to the opinion of every man's
private judgment. For, undoubtedly, all per-
secution and oppression of weak consciences,
on the score of religious persuasions, are highly
unjustifiable upon every principle of natural
reason, civil liberty, or sound religion."* ^

Perhaps no class of men ever suffered more re-
proach than the Puritans. Archbishop Parker stig-
matizes them as *' schismatics, belly-gods, deceivers,
flatterers, fools, having been unlearnedly brought
up in profane occupations, being pufied up with
arrogaucy."! His successor Whitgift says, " that
when they walked in the streets, they hung down
their heads, and looked austerely; and in com-

• Blaf.kstoiie's Comment, vol. iv. p. 51 — 53. Edit. 1771.

t Strjpe's Auuals, vol. i. p. 481. — Pence's Vindication, part i. p. 61.


pany they sighed much, and seldom or never
laughed. They sought the commendation of the
people ; and thought it an heinous ofiience to wear
a cap and surplice, slandering and backbiting
their brethren. As for their rehgion, they se-
parated themselves from the congregation, and
vi^ould not communicate with those who went to
church, either in prayer, hearing the word, or
sacraments; despising all, who were not of their
sect, as polluted and unworthy of their com-
pany."* Dugdale denominates them " a viperous
brood, miserably infesting these kingdoms. They
pretended," says he, " to promote religion and
a purer reformation ; but rapine, spoil, and the
destruction of civil government, were the woeful
effects of those pretences. They were of their
father the devil^ and his ivorks they ivonld doT]'
A modern slanderer affirms, " that they main-
tained the horrid principle, that the end sanctifies
the means ; and that it was lawful to kill those
who opposed their endeavours to introduce their
model and discipline."^ Surely so much calumny
and falsehood are seldom found in so small a

Bishop Burnet, a man less influenced by a
spirit of bigotry and intolerance, gives a very dif-
ferent account of them. " The Puritans," says
he, " gained credit as the bishops lost it. They
put on the appearance of great sanctity and

* Strype's Annals, vol. ii. p. 5.

t Dugdale's Troubles of Eng. Prcf.

: Churton's Life of Nowell, p. 215.


gravity, and took more pains in their parishes
than those who adhered to the bishops, often
preaching against the vices of the court. Their
labours and their sufferings raised their reputa-
tion and rendered them very popular."* Hume,
who treats their principles with ridicule and
contempt, has bestowed upon them the highest
eulogium. " So absolute," says he, *' was the
" authority of the crown, that the precious spark
" of liberty had been kindled, and was preserved,
*' by the Puritans alone ; and it was to this sect
" that the English owe the whole freedom of their
" constitution."!

It is granted that they had not all equally clear
views of our civil and religious rights. Many of
their opinions were confused and erroneous ; yet
their leading principles were the same. Though
they had, in general, no objection to a national
establishment, many of them maintained, " That
all true church power must be founded in a
divine commission: that where a right to com-
mand is not clear, evidence that obedience is a
duty is wanting: that men ought not to make
more necessary to an admittance into the church
than God has made necessary to an admittance
into heaven: that so long as unscriptural impo-
sitions are continued, a further reformation of the
church will be necessary: and that every one
who must answer for himself hereafter, must

* Burnet's Hist, of his Time, vol. i. p. 17, 18.'
t Hume's Hist, of Eng-. vol, v. p. 134.


judge for himself now.''* These were tlie grancl
principles of their nonconformity.

The author of these volumes has spared no
labour nor expense in the collection of materials,
and has used the utmost care to retain whatever
appeared interesting, curious, and useful. Not
writing to please any particular sect or party, he
has endeavoured to observe the strictest impar-
tiality. In the lives of these worthies, he has not
suppressed their imperfections, nor even the accu-
sations of their adversaries ; but has constantly
stated their faults, as well as their excellencies,
without reserve. Neither has he at any time con-
nived at bigotry and persecution, whether found
among prelates, presbyterians, or any others.
Whoever were the persecutors or aggressors, their
case is represented, as near as possible, as it is
found in the faithful pages of history. His sole
object has been to give a lucid and impartial
statement of facts. Indeed, the documents are
frequently transcribed in the very words of the
authors ; and, wishing to retain the genuine sense
and originality of the whole as entire as possible,
he has constantly avoided dressing them in any
garb of his own.

Through the whole, he has invariably given his
authorities. These might easily have been mul-
tiplied; but, when two or more authors have
given accounts of the same facts, he has invariably
chosen that which appeared the most authentic :

. * Calamy's Coutin. vol. i, Pref.


or, when they have at any time contradicted each
other, he has always given both, or followed that
which appeared most worthy of credit. In the
Appendix, a correct list is given of the principal
books consulted ; and, for the satisfaction of the
more critical reader, the particular edition of each
is specified. In nnmeroiis instances, reference
will be found to single lives, funeral sermons,
and many other interesting articles, of which the
particular edition is mostly given. In addition to
the numerous printed works, he has also been
favoured with the use of many large manuscript
collections, a list of which will be found at the
close of the Appendix. From these rare docu-
ments he has been enabled to present to the
public a great variety of most interesting and
curious information never before printed.

After all, many lives will be found very de-
fective, and will leave the inquisitive reader unin-
formed in numerous important particulars. Such
defect was unavoidable at this distance of time ;
when, after the utmost research, no further in-
formation could possibly be procured. The
author has spent considerable labour to obtain a
correct list of the works of those whose lives he
has given, and to ascertain the true orthography
of the names of persons and places. Though, in
each of these particulars, he has succeeded far
beyond his expectations, yet, in some instances,
he is aware of the deficiency of his information.

He can only say, that he has availed himself of
yoL. I. b


every advantage within his reach, to render the
whole as complete and interesting as possible.

The lives of these worthies are arranged in a
chronological order, according to the time of their
deaths.* By snch arrangement, the work contains
a regnlar series of the History of Nonconformists
during a period of more than a hundred years.
It does not in the least interfere with any other
j)ublication ; and forms a comprehensive append-
age to Neal's " History of the Puritans," and a
series of biographical history closely connected
with Palmer's " Nonconformists Memorial," con-
taining a complete memorial of those noncon-
formist divines who died previous to the passing
of the Act of Uniformity. To this, however^
there are some exceptions. There were certain
persons of great eminence, who lived after the
year 1662; yet, because they were not in the
church at that period, they come not within the
list of ejected ministers, but are justly denomi-
nated Puritans. Memoirs of these divines will
therefore be found in their proper places.

It was requisite, in a work of this nature, to
give some account of the origin and progress of
Nonconformity, together with a sketch of the nu-
merous barbarities exercised upon the Puritans.
This will be found in the Introduction, which
may not prove unacceptable to the inquisitive and

* It should here be remembered, that, in all cases, when the
particular period of their deaths could not be ascertained, the /«5^
circumstance noticed in their lives is taken for that period.


pious reader. If its length require any apology,
the author would only observe, that he hopes no
part of it will be found superfluous or uninterest-
ing ; that he has endeavoured to give a compressed
view of the cruel oppressions of the times ; and
that it would have been difficult to bring the
requisite information into a narrower compass.

The work contains an authentic investigation
of tiie progress and imperfect state of the English
reformation, and exhibits the genuine principles
of protestant and religious liberty, as they were
violently opposed by the ruling ecclesiastics. The
fundamental principles of the reformation, as the
reader will easily perceive, were none other than
the grand principles of the first Protestant Non-
conformists. Those reasons which induced the
worthy Protestants to seek for the reformation
of the church of Rome, constrained the zealous
Puritans to labour for the reformation of the
church of England. The Puritans, who wished
to worship God with greater purity than was
allowed and established in the national church,*
were the most zealous advocates of the reform-
ation ; and they used their utmost endeavours to
carry on the glorious work towards perfection.
They could not, with a good conscience, submit
to the superstitious inventions and impositions of
men in the worship of God ; on which account,
they employed their zeal, their labours, and their
influence to promote a more pure reformation.

* Fuller's Church Hist. b. ix. p. 76.


And because they sought, though m the most
peaceable manner, to have the church of England
purged of all its antichristian impurities, they were
stigmatized with the odious name of Puritans, and
many of tliem, on account of their nonconformity,
were suspended, imprisoned, and persecuted even
unto death. These volumes, therefore, present to
the reader a particular detail of the arduous and
painful struggle for religious freedom, during the
arbitrary reigns of Queen Elizabeth, King James,
and King Charles I., to the restoration of King
Charles II.

The reader will here find a circumstantial
account of the proceedings of the High Com-
fuission and the Star Chamber, the two terrible
engines of cruelty and persecution. The former of
these tribunals assumed the power of administer-
ing an oath ex officio, by which persons were con-
strained to answer all questions proposed to them,
though ever so prejudicial to themselves or others:
if they refused the unnatural oath, they were cast
into prison for contempt ; and if they took it, they
were convicted upon their own confession. The
tyrannical oppressions and shocking barbarities
of these courts are without a parallel in any Pro-
testant country, and nearly equal to the Romish
inquisition. The severe examinations, the nu-
merous suspensions, the long and miserable im-
prisonments, with other brutal usage, of pious and
faithfid ministers, for not wearing a 2vhite surplice,
not baptizing with a cross, not kneeling at the


sacrament, not subscribing to articles without
foundation in law, or some other equally trivial
circumstance, were among the inhuman and ini-
quitous proceedings of those courts.

These intolerant and cruel transactions, instead
of reconciling the Puritans to the church, drove
them farther from it. Such arguments were found
too weak to convince men's understandings and
consciences; nor could they compel them to
admire and esteem the church fighting with such
weapons. These tragic proceedings created in
the nation a great deal of ill blood, w hich, alas !
continues in part to this day. While the govern-
ing prelates lost their esteem among the people,
the number and reputation of the Puritans greatly
increased, till, at length, they got the }30wer
into their own hands, and shook off the painful

That the Puritans in general were men of great
learning, imtarnished piety, and the best friends
to the constitution and liberties of their country,
no one will deny, who is acquainted with their
true character and the history of the times in
which they lived. Many of them, it is acknow-
ledged, were too rigid in their behaviour: they had
but little acquaintance with the rights of consci-
ence; and, in some instances, they treated their
superiors with improper language: but, surely,
the deprivation, the imprisonment, or the putting
of them to death for these trifles, will never be
attempted to be vindicated in modern times.


The author is aware^ however, of the delicacy of
many things here presented to the pubhc, and of
the difficuhy of writing freely without giving
offence. But, as honest truth needs no apology, so
the pernicious influence of bigotry, superstition,
and persecution, he thinks, can never be too fairly
and openly exposed. He also believes that all
professing Christians, except those who are blind
devotees to superstition, or persecutors of the
church of God, will rejoice to unite with him in
holding up these evils as a warning to posterity.

The work is not to be considered as a medium,
or a test of religious controversy, but an historical
narrative of facts. It is not designed to fan the
flame of contention among brethren, but to pro-
mote, upon genuine protestant principles, that
christian moderation, that mutual forbearance,
and that generous affection, among all denomina-
tions, wliich is the great ornament and excellency
of all who call themselves Protestants. A correct
view of the failings and the excellencies of others,
should prompt us to avoid that which is evil, and
to imitate that which is good.

When we behold the great piety and constancy
with which our forefathers endured the most bar-
barous persecution, will not the sight produce in
our minds the most desirable christian feelings?
Though we shall feel the spirit of indignity against
the inhumanity alid cruelty of their persecutors,
will not the sight of their sufferings, their holiness,
and their magoiinimity, awaken in our breasts the


spirit of sympathy and admiration ? Shall we not
be prompted to contrast our own circmnstances
with theirs, and be excited to the warmest thank-
fulness that we live not in the puritanic age, but
in days of greater christian freedom? Shall we not
be constrained to exclaim, " The lines are fallen
to us in pleasant places ; yea, Lord, thou hast
given us a goodly heritage ?"

The author has not attempted to justify any
irregularities in the opinions, the spirit, or the
conduct of the Puritans. Although he acknow-
ledges that he has, in numerous instances, en-
deavoured to prove their innocence, against the
evil reproaches and groundless accusations of
their adversaries, so far as substantial evidence
could be collected from historical facts; yet he
lias never attempted to vindicate their infirmities,
or to connive at their sins. They were men of
like pasisions with ourselves ; and, from the cruel
treatment they met with, we cannot wonder that
they sometimes betrayed an improper temper.
Surely oppression maheth a ivise man mad. Oh,
that we may learn to imitate their most amiable

Online LibraryB. (Benjamin) BrookThe lives of the Puritans: containing a biographical account of those divines who distinguished themselves in the cause of religious liberty, from the reformation under Queen Elizabeth, to the Act of uniformity in 1662 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 48)