Henry Martyn Dexter.

The Congregationalism of the last three hundred years, as seen in its literature: with special reference to certain recondite, neglected, or disputed passages. In twelve lectures, delivered on the Sou online

. (page 30 of 157)
Online LibraryHenry Martyn DexterThe Congregationalism of the last three hundred years, as seen in its literature: with special reference to certain recondite, neglected, or disputed passages. In twelve lectures, delivered on the Sou → online text (page 30 of 157)
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what was the power of their weapens in con-
ference against those men whom they haue so
reprochfuly published in their Pulpits & wryt-
ings to be silye men, whot [hot] spirited, igno-
rant, Brownists, Schismaticks, &c, to the in-
tent thou mightest equallie consider of both
sides (by these few things discussed betweene
them) the estate of their controuersies, as also
how manie of these Prisoners Arguments

against thir Church, ministrie & administra-
tion lye vppon them vnanswered," etc. A
Collection of Certain Letters &' Conferences,
etc. iii.

7' Barrowe atone time said: "We are &
haue ben 4 yeares & 3 moneths without tryal
or relaxation, kept by the Prelats in most mis-
erable and streight imprisonment." [Plaifte
Refutatiofi, etc., 237.] As their joint impris-
onment commenced 19 Nov., 1586, this would
seem to settle it that they could never have
been allowed even to have been out on bail
for a single day, until the spring of 159 1. As
to how much time elapsed after that before
any relief was granted, I do not know that we
have any proof. Christopher Bowman's evi-
dence {Harl. MSS., 7042: 110] shows that
the officering of the church took place in Sep-
tember, 1592.

72 William Gierke testified 8 March, 1592,
that he had " bene of the foresayd congrega-
tion these four or five yeares." [//arleian
MSS., 7042 : 1 10.] This would throw back
its existence surely to sometime in 1588, pos-
sibly to 1587.

73 /did, 1 14.

The Martyrs of Congregationalism. 233

put into the Clink/* Bancroft lets out that the movement, with
others, had alarmed the Bishops. " This latter schisme [Bar-
rowism]" he says, "groweth on very fast. In somuch, that as
Cartwright and his brethren beganne, eight or nine years since
to set vppe and put in practise, theyr Geneuian discipline: so
doe these newe vpstartes beginne to erecte in diuerse places
their Barrowish Synagogues, and I knowe not what cages of
franticke schismatickes. . . . And thus they goe on forward
headlong, god knowes whether. I am perswaded, that if there
be not good order taken in this behalf, there wil some mischief
grow of it. The number of them doth encrease daily more &
more. And for the repressing of them ; it will not be sufficient
(in mine opinion) to vse the ordinarie course by the ecclesiasti-
call censures or comission. For they are entered into a league
amongest themselues, of all manner of secrecy for the not detect-
ing one of another in any of their proceedinges, when by great
chaunce some two or three are met with all. If you finde any
writinges amongest them : you may thereby learne some thinge
peraduenture ; otherwise they will confesse nothinge." '^^

Before proceeding further, it will be needful to cast a glance
over the prison pen-work of these two men, that we may under-
stand what " writings " these were, from which the ecclesi-
astical authorities thought it not impossible to " learn some-
thing ; " from which, indeed, in a different sense, they might
have learned something which it would have bettered them to

It does not seem to be clear whether the accounts written by
themselves of their examinations, in 1586 and 1587, were printed
at or about that time in sheets which have not come down to
us, or whether they were circulated in manuscript until 1593,
which is the presumed date of the earliest copy from the press
of which there seems to be any knowledge. In the third year
of his imprisonment, however, there can be no doubt that
Greenwood sent out, through the Martin Mar-prelate press, that
review of Dr. Some's attack upon Penry which has often, though
I think wrongly, been catalogued among the Martinist tracts.
During the same year [1589] all the evidence seems to point to

7* Lansdowne MSS., Ixxv: 25. | isSurvay, etc., 428, 429.

234 Congregatio7ialism^ as seen in its Literature.

these two prisoners as, to say the least, the main if not the
exclusive, authors of the little eight page tract, entitled A Trve
Descriptioji ovt of the word of God, of the Visible Church, of
which I shall have occasion to speak more particularly here-
after. I have already hinted to you the nature and some of the
grounds of my more than suspicion, that during 1588 and 1589
Barrowe's pen was busy in supplying Penry s press with " Mar-
tin Mar-prelate " manuscripts^

During 1590 the printed fruits of the labor of the two men to-
gether were astonishing, when the diflfiiculties under which they
wrought are taken into the account. We have the two different
volumes from which I have cited, intended to clear them of false
reports, viz. : A Collection of certaine Sclanderovs Articles gyuen
out by the Bishops against such faithfull Christians as they now vn-
histly deteyne in their Prisons, togcather with the answeare of the
saide Prisoners therunto : Also the some of certaine confci'cnces had

7'J Since the last lecture was in type, my eye
has fallen upon several passages in the vol-
ume entitled M. Some Laid Open, etc., which
have a decidedly Martinist flavor, such as
these [54] : Speaking of a countryman who,
swearing " by my faith," threatened to cudgel
somebody, the author says : " by the way, you
must not thinke that this Country man was a
B. [bishop] for all he began with his Fayth, for
I would you should knowe it, there be others
that can sweare besides Bb. [bishops]."
Again [96] : " Will you doe so much for me
when you passe that way, as to call at D.
Pernes window, to see if he can dissolve you
of this doubt .' " Again [42] : " M. Some can
beg the question as well as his betters," etc.
Again [31] : " Why doth the patch doe this .' "
Again [5] : " Well I hope nowe if my hands
doe happen to smell anything vnsavorly, you
wil of curtesie beare with me, because you
see [he had been making several extracts
from Some's book, which he was reviewing]
I have bin al this while gathering of weedes."
Again [90] : " Woulde your D. [Bridges] there
vpon face vs doune that we confesse there is
either wit or learning in such a buzzard as he ?
Naye, he shoulde write 36. volumes more first,
and every one shal be as bigge as his other
booke [that of which the second * Martin ' was
the Epitome\ and then peradventure he may
win our hearts." And once again [iv. 124]:
"withal closely and slily to glut doune a

pretty prebend or 2. to help his digestion."
I am quite sure that all who are familiar
with the Martinist tracts, will agree with me
that these extracts are so entirely in keeping
with them, as to suggest a common authorship.
This volume is signed I. G. ; and I suppose
there can be no reasonable doubt of the truth
of the common judgment that John Green-
wood was its responsible author. Its style (in
these passages and a few which they sample)
is however so different from that of other
books of his — notably from his replies to Gif-
fard, which involve subjects inviting like
treatment — as to awaken in my mind the sus-
picion [already hinted, p. 197] that Barrowe
was a silent partner in this authorship, and
that to his slashing pen are due these caustic
outbursts. If so, we gain a new presumption
that Barrowe was Martin. While, in any event,
we trace some of the most marked character-
istics of Martin's style to somebody's pen in
that cell of the Fleet prison whence these
men were taken to their martyrdom. A sen-
tence of Bancroft \Survay, etc., 249] may be
worth quoting in this connection, as showing
his notion of the comparative intellectual
vigor of the two : " Except they will sale that
Barrowes God is their God, that Greenwood
is their Priest, and that they are all of them,
denoted to Greemvood and Barrow. Green-
wood is but a simple fellow, Barrow is the

The Martyrs of Congregationalism. 235

in the Fleete^ according to the Bisshops bloudie Mandate^ with two
Prisoners there; and A Collection of certaine Letters and confer-
ences: Lately Passed Betwixt Certaine Preachers & Two Prison-
ers Ln The Fleet. Then we have a black-letter quarto of seventy-
four close pages, entitled An Avnswer to George Giffords Pre-
tended Defence of Read Prayers and Devised Leitotu^gies with thevn-
godly cauils and wicked sclanders comprised iii the first part of his
book, entituled, A Short Treatise against the Donatists of England,
by Lohn Greenwood, Christs poore afflicted prisoner in the Fleete at
London, for the triieth of the Gospel. Further we have, chiefest
of all, Barrowe's A Brief Discouerie of the False Church, which
is a stately quarto of two hundred and seventy-two pages of
dense Roman type, of great vigor of style, cogency of argument,
and fidelity of utterance ; and which, when it is considered that
it was written on scraps of paper taken away piece-meal by Dan-
iel Studley as fast as written, to be sent to the press at Dort,
and there printed under alien superintendence ; deserves, in
more senses than one, to be ranked among the curiosities of

In the following year [1591] the two men jointly sent forth
another quarto, of which all the original copies are supposed to
have perished from the earth, but which, as reprinted in 1606,
contains two hundred and eighty pages ; and concerning which
I shall hereafter have a curious incident to relate. The title
nearly covers the title-page, but the book is another, and ex-
tremely effective, refutation of Giffard's arguments against the

It is quite unnecessary to spend any of our time upon the
general positions of these volumes, inasmuch as we are now
mainly concerned to see how Barrowism differed from Brown-
ism on the one hand, and from the Puritanism which had come
in through Cartwright from Geneva, on the other.

Being themselves Puritans and something more, these men
had to cover a large part of the Puritan ground of argument,
in common with Cartwright and his companions, as well as

77 " He [D. Studley] confessyth that he hadd
the orygynall of the booke intituled a Breiff
Dyssection [Discoverie] of the false Churche,
which he receyued shete by shete at Mr. Hen-


ry Barrowes study in the Flette," etc. Eger-
toil Papers, Camden Soc. (1S40), 175.

1^ A Plaine Refutation of Giffard's Short
Treatise Agaittst the Donatists, etc.

236 Congregationalism^ as seen in its Literature.

specifically to advocate also those teiiets in v/hich, as they
thouo-ht, they were more faithful to the Puritan spirit than the
Puritans themselves, and wherein and whereby they differed
from them.

Barrowe's point of departure, and the pressure under which he
worked, were identical with those of Browne. In his chief trea-
tise, the Brief Discouerie of the False Church, he starts out with
the plea: If Josiah had occasion to rend his clothes, and Jere-
my to wish " his head a fountaine, and his eies as buckets here-
vnto," for the defection of Israel from " the antient wayes of the
Lord ; " what occasion of sorrow and lamentation have not all
Christian hearts " in these dangerous (if not desperate) daies,
where the whole land (that I say not the whole world) hath
lien so long, and is so deeplie set in defection, sinne & securi-
tie, where they are so vniuersally departed from the strait waies
of life and peace, and are so far wandred and straied in their
own bywaies which they haue sought out vnto themselues, as
they haue now vtterly lost all knowledg of the true way, &
haue no will to returne : But though they be shewed the way,
and willed to walke in yt, yet euen the best of them stop their
eares, wink with their eies, & turne away the shoulder, least
they should be conuerted & be healed."" He willingly ac-
knowledges himself " of all other the most vnmeet, and euerie
way vnfit ; "^° asks his readers not to " regard the forme, so much
as the truth ; " doubts not " the diffuse and disorderly handling "
will " be yrksome vnto the Reader," but wishes that to be partly
imputed to "the confuse subiect," chiefly to his "want of skill,
that knew not how to do yt better," and a little to " the incon-
uenience of the place, through the iniquitie of the times : where
such was the rage of the enimie, as he might not keepe one
sheade ^' by him, whiles he was writinge of an other, hauinge also
as euill meanes to reuise or retract that he had written." He
anticipates that what he has to say will be " most disliked, &
held most odious & heinous of all sorts of men, who wil neuer
endure to heare the magnificence of the false Church, wherin
they haue so long beene nourished in so great delight, re-
prooued & cast doune."^' But unto all he fearlessly propounds

n Brief Discotcerie, etc., iii. 1 81 Sheet.

^Ibid,iY. 82/^/^, V.

The Martyrs of Congregationalism. 237

"that litle Booke of Gods woorde " as the judge: "by this
Booke who so is found in error or transgression, let them haue
sentence accordinglie."^^

The first point he makes against the Church of England is
that, instead of being builded of goodly stones (of individual
believers) :

"They be rather of the reffuse, common pibble chalke stones, which cannot
be vsed to any sovvnd and sure building, euen al the profane and wicked of the
land : Atheistes, Papistes, Anabaptistes & heretikes of al sortes, gluttons, riot-
ours, blasphemers, periures, couetous extortioners, thieues, whores, witches, con-
nivers, &:c, and who not, that dwelleth within this Hand, or is within the
Queenes dominion," ^^

Before leaving this branch of the subject he speaks a faithful
word in regard to one kind of argument urged against him — the
great Presbyterian example ; and does not hesitate to condemn
" this stuffe," of " Mr. Caluine in his ignorance," brought :

" To defende his owne rash «& disorderly proceedinges at Geneua, whiles he
at the first dash made no scruple to receaue al the whole state, euen al the pro-
fane ignorant people, into the bozome of the Church, to administer the sacra-
mentes vnto them ; which confuse rowt, could not fit with Christes heauenly
gouerment, neither could yt by any meanes agree vnto them in this estate ; but
that monstrous disorders, and heinous enormities daily insued thereof : wherby
this their Church became a iust reproch to all men, euen to these wicked here-
tikes, &c., yea, that which is worse, and more to be lamented, yt became a mis-
erable president, and pernitious example, even vnto all Europe, to fall into the
like transgression : as the confused estate of all those regions (where the gos-
pel is thus disorderly taught) declareth."Ss

Passing to the topic of the ministry of such a true church as
has separated itself from the ungodly by a covenanting together
of believers, Barrowe says :

" The ministerie apointed vnto the government & seruice of y« Church of
Christ, we find to be of two sortes, Elders & Deacons : the Elders, some of
them to giue attendance vnto the publike ministerie of the word & sacramentes,
as the Pastor & Teacher : the other Elders together with them, to giue attend-
ance to the publike order & gouernment of the Church : the Deacons to attend
the gathering and distributing the goodes of the Church." These are to be
"chosen & ordeined by all by publike consent," and are then "diligently &
faithfully to execute their office vnto all, not preiudicing the libertie of any,
ambitiously assuming any inordinate authoritie, or abusing or neglecting their

83/^/V/, vi. I ^Mbid,(). I 85/5/^,33.


8 Cono-regationalism, as seen in its Literature,

office, neither holding or executing yt in regard or in respect of persen : but
vprightly and indifferently performing yt vnto all men, as in the eies of God,
whose word they purely and sincerely teach, faithfully & precisely obserue to
their vttermost knowledg and power. If in any thing they transgresse or offend ;
they are, as well as any other members, liable to the censure of the Church :
which is, to reproue, depose, or excommunicate them according to the qualitie
of the sin, & estate of the offenders," &c.^^

This ministry is to be supported by the free contributions of
the church :

" Neither is this shepheard limited, or sheepe constrained to a tenth, or any
stinted part or portion ; but according to the present want of the one, & estate
of the other, this matter is otherwise provided ; they together releeving him
according to his present need ; he together with them bearing the burthen of
their present and common pouertie"27 — they, in love, making him "partaker
of that little or much the Lord sendeth, according to his present wantes and
necessary vses, who if he haue to food and rayment, ought to be therwith con-
tent." ss

He waxes warm as he touches upon the manner of worship :

" Is this old rotten Leitourgis their new songs they sing vnto the Lord with
and for his graces? May such old written rotten stuffe be called praier, the
odours of the Saintes, burnt with that heauenly fire of the Altar, the liuly graces
of the spirit &c. May reading be said [to be] praying ? May such apocrypha
trumperie be brought into the church of God ? " etc.^^

But I must hasten to the last distinctive feature of the polity
which he advocates, that is the practical working relation be-
tween the elders for ruling:, and the brotherhood. He is verv
clear on this point. " Elders," he says, " are appointed to see
the gouernment & order of Christ obserued ; not to take yt al
into their hands," ^° They have "power and authoritie in due
time and place," first " publikely to reproue any publike trans-
gression of anie member of the Church, or of the w^iole Church ;
as also to discouer and refute any error escaped or deliuered in
publike doctrine." If they " neglect or ouerpasse such publike
transgression or error, then may any one of the congregation,
or any Christian whosoeuer; yea he ought to reproue such
transgression and error vnles he wilbe guiltie of betraying the
faith of Christ,"^' etc. To the objection that the mass of the

^(^ibid, 46.
^1 Ibid, 58.

^^Ibidy 59.

^Ibid, 67.
9° Ibid, 223.
9J Ibid, 167.

The Martyrs of Congregationalism. 239

people are too blind, seditious and headstrong to make it safe
to trust them with this power, he explains : " They are to re-
proue no more then their assured knowledg leadeth them vnto.
If they transgresse the limits either of their knowledg in reprou-
ing that which deserueth no reproofe, or breake the established
order of the Church by rashnes, intemperance &:c., then are they
for so doing subiect to reproofe & censure for abusing their lib-
ertie, for breaking order : the Churches of God haue no cus-
tome to be contentious."^^ This was his idea of liberty for the
people — to be led by the elders, and allowed and encouraged
to follow them freely ; with freedom to differ so far as the elders
might think to be within propriety. The enthusiast thought
this would work magnificently. The people, he said, were " all
inlightened with that bright morning star, that sonne of right-
eousnes. The eye of their faith is single, and the whole bodie
is light. They are an humble, meek, obedient people, they will
heare and follow the true shepheard, but a stranger they will
not heare. They reioice & loue ernestly in the truth, & can by
no meanes be drawen to do any thing against the truth." ^^
Surely they will exercise their liberty to obey their elders ! This
seems to have been, in his thinking, a perfect safeguard against
the dangers of Brownistic theocratic democracy on the one hand,
and of the pseudo-liberty of Presbyterian aristocracy on the
other. Notice how sarcastically severe he was upon this latter :

" These Reformists, howsoeuer for fashion sake they giue the people a litle
libertie to sweeten their mouthes & make them beleeue that they should choose
their owne ministers, . . . yet euen in this pretended choice doe they coozen
& beguile them also, leaning them nothing but the smoky windy title of elec-
tion only ; inioyning them to choose some vniuersitie clarke, one of these col-
ledg birds of their owne brood, or els comes a Synode in the necke of them,
and annihilats the election whatsoeuer yt be." 94

I have said that on the 5th December, 1592, Greenwood was
lodged once more in prison, Barrowe most likely soon rejoining
him there, if indeed he were not there before. The excitement
against them, as I have intimated, and as what I have quoted
from Bancroft proves, was greatly increased by the feeling of
the Bishops that this dangerous heresy must, if possible, be
stamped effectually out. And so the end drew on.

92//vd', 16S. I Oi Ibid, 167. I 94/^/0; 193.

240 Congregationalism, as seen in its Literature.

The law officers of the crown scrutinized Barrowe's writings
for matter of charge. On the 3d, nth and 20th of the follow-
ino- March, he was cited before Chief Justice Sir John Popham,
and Attorney General Lord Ellesmere, and examined as to his
opinions, and his authorship of certain books. The minutes of
these examinations are still extant, mainly in the handwriting
of the Chief Justice. Barrowe respectfully, but boldly, avowed
his convictions of truth, essentially as I have deduced them
from his treatises. Among other things he expressed his judg-
ment that the established government of the Church of En-
eland was " unlawfuU and Antichristian ; " and that " there
ought to be a Presbytery over every true assembly of Christ."
With regard to the Queen's supremacy, he acknowledged it fully
in civil matters, but held that she ought not to make for the
church "other lawes then Christ hath made and left in his Tes-
tament ; " and, as to her possible excommunication, he said : " in
a reformed Churche, if the Queue doe synn, the Pastor, in the
name of the Churche, is to denounce the excommunication
against the Queue, which the word of God doeth laye uppon
hir for that sinne." So he said that " the Churche need not to
staye for the Prince in the reforminge of any abuse, but may
reforme it, though the Prince saye noe." He acknowledged
himself the author of his portion of the Collection of certaine
Sclanderous Articles ; Certaine Letters and conferences, his part of
the Answer to Gifford, and the whole of the Brief e Discouerie of
the False Church^^ Greenwood, who was also examined on the
I ith and 20th, confessed his authorship of the books laid to his

Robert Bowie and Robert Stokes, examined on the 19th, tes-
tified as to the way in which the books had been printed, as also
did Daniel Studley and James Forster on the 20th. The latter,
who described himself as " physycyane, and Mr. off Artes," con-
fessed " that hym selfe, by the procurement off Henry Barrow,
wrote out some parte of the booke intituled a Breiff Description
of the false Churche, and as one shete was wryten the same was
taken away, with the copy therof, and new brought," etc.^^

95 Lord Popham calls it, in his minutes, A
Breiff Dyscription of the False CImrche ; that
is to say, the editor of the Egcrton Papers
judged that, in the Chief Justice's dreadfully

illegible handwriting, it looks more like that
than any thing else.

'^ Egerton Papers, Camden Society (1S40),

The Martyrs of Co7igregatio7ialism.


They were indicted under a statute of the 23d of Elizabeth,''^
which made it felony, punishable by death without benefit of
clergy, or right of sanctuary, to write, print, set forth or circu-
late, or to cause to be written, set forth or circulated, " any
maner of booke, ryme, ballade, letter or writing," which with
" a malicious intent," set forth " any false, seditious and sclan-
derous matter to the defamation of the Oueenes Maiestie,"
or to " the stirring up of insurrection or rebellion."

They were tried at the Old Bailey 23d March, 1592-3. We
have extant the best possible evidence as to the general drift of
the trial, inasmuch as what appear to be the original brief of the
argument of the prosecution, and the minutes of the evidence
on which it relied, remain among the Harleian Mantis crip is '^'^^
while, in a small quarto printed eleven years after at Amster-
dam, we have Barrowe's own summary of his defence, as sent
by him a day or two before his death to " an honourable Lady
and Countesse of his kindred."'^^

Barrowe understood himself to be on trial for the three
alleged specific offences : (i) that he had written and published
the Queen's Majesty to be unbaptized ; (2) that the State was
wholly corrupted, so that none that feared God could live at
peace therein ; and (3) that all the people in the land were infi-

97 The clause was as follows : " And be it
further enacted by the aucthoritie aforesayde,
that if any person or persons, after the ende
of the sayde fourtie dayes, either within this
Realme, or in any other the Queenes do-

Online LibraryHenry Martyn DexterThe Congregationalism of the last three hundred years, as seen in its literature: with special reference to certain recondite, neglected, or disputed passages. In twelve lectures, delivered on the Sou → online text (page 30 of 157)