Henry Martyn Dexter.

The England and Holland of the Pilgrims online

. (page 44 of 65)
Online LibraryHenry Martyn DexterThe England and Holland of the Pilgrims → online text (page 44 of 65)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


pith of what they wanted into a few lines, to show them to the
king. So, for the fourth time, they tried, pleading for leave to
practise their religious beliefs in England, leaving to the gov-
ernment the reform of abuses, and for a fair opportunity to dis-
cuss with representatives of the State Church the points at issue
between them.

^ The CathoUkes f>vpplicatinn vnto the King^s Maiestie ; for toleration of CathoUke
Religion in England, etc., 1003.

^ The second petition besjan tlms : " T%« humble Supplication of sundry your
Maiesties faith full Suhiects. irho have now a long tyme been constreyned eyther to live as
exiles abroad, or to eniiurt; other grievous persecutions at honie.y<vr bearing wilnes^e
to the truth of Christ against the corruptiojis of Antichrist yet remayning'' Apoi. 'A
etc.



THE FURTHER HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH 441

How much longer they cooled their heels ineffectually around
the outskirts of the Court cannot be told. But it is safe to
imagine tlieuj as gloomily journeying back to Amsterdam, in
the summer or autunm, with their depressing tidings. At about
this time, also, the church experienced hostility from certain
former sympathizers. At some time after Johnson's church had
reached Holland, a small company, essentially like-minded, ar-
rived in Amsterdam, apparently from the West of England.^
Some twelve or thirteen, they joined the Ancient Church.
Thomas White ^ was their leader, with Thomas Powell as an
active coadjutor. Some months later — as Johnson intimates
because these men were not given office — they formed a second
church.

This weakling enterprise soon died, and White returned
to England and to the Establishment, and published a little
book^ assailing his former associates. Johnson thought its ac-
cusations, which included some of alleged immoralities, re-
quired reply. White then made gross charges against Johnson's
church, and Johnson and Ainsworth, with seven or eight others,
brought suit for slander^ against White and his wife. Rose, in
the Dutch courts. But White proved his statements. Johnson
and his associates were condemned in costs and charges, and
the civil action dropped there. One cannot help believing, after

^ Barrowe's Platform (140) contains a " Memorandum " of an event in 1 604,
■which, whether or not it relates to White and his company directly, illustrates a
similar experience. It refers to four persons, who, having- been imprisoned three
months for Separatism, were ordered to " take their oathes to depart the Realrae
within one moneth. and not to returne asraine into any of the dominions of the late
Queene, without leave from his Maiestie, or His Highnes Successors." They de-
sired to be discharg-ed without an oath, or to swear with conditions. Finally they
added to the oath the clause : '' hut if the performance of any dutie to Prince. Coun-
trey, Parents, o- the like, doe move me to returne, I will then be free of the Oath^
The mag-istrates then bade them "pay their fees and be g-one within a moneth."

'•' Thomas White and Rose Grimbrye (?) of London, widow of John Philips,
published intentions of marriage in Amsterdam, Apr. 24, lf)04, which fixes the
date of his arrival a.s before that time (Puiboken). lie is set down as from Sach-
tenfort (possibly Saddleworth, Yorks.) and as twenty-six.

* ..4 Discoverie of Brownisme : or A bkikfe declaration of somk of the
errors and abhommations daily practised and increased among the Enyli.-ih company
of the siperation remanifing, FOR THE PRESENT, at Amsterdam in Holland. By
Thomas White, 10O.">, 4to.

* Pro;,h. Schisme, 28,31.



442 THE PILGRIMS IX AMSTERDAM

weighing the evidence, that Johnson's company unconsciously
had harbored a few reprobates. Certainly, it soon afterwards,
by general consent, cast out at least one.

Another who published a book ^ and said his say as to Fran-
cis Johnson among others, was Peter Fairlambe, one of the
early company which worshipped in the woods of Deptford and
Ratcliffe. lie seems to have been in the sei'vice of the Merchant
Adventurers, in Dantzic, Denmark, the Low Countries, and
even Barbary, also being banished for his religious convictions-
In, or soon after, 1597 he returned to Elngland and to the Es-
tablishment. Ilis book is valuable for its list of publications on
each side, including also certain unprinted manuscripts in circii-
lation and having some popular etfect. In 1605^ Francis John-
son reprinted at his own cost that copy of the " Plaine Refuta-
tion of M. Giffards Booke intituled A short treatise against the
Donatists of England,'' ^ by Henry Barrowe and John Green-
wood, which had made him a Separatist.

We now have reached the date when, aside from such feeble
and transitory assemblies as those of White and Henoch Clap-
ham,* Johnson's company ceased to be the sole English church
in Amsterdam. Probably John Smyth and his followers arrived
in October or November, 160G, and established themselves at
once as "the Second English Church at Amsterdam."^ Brad-

^ The Recantation of a Brownist, or, a Reformed Puritan, etc., 1006, 4to, iii, W.

•^ We owe knowledg'e of his connection with this reprint to Br.adford, who says
(Dial. Young', Chrons. 4'J"<) of Johnson : " Coming' to live at Amsterdam, he caused
the same books, which he had been an instrument to bum, to be new printed and
set out at his own charsfe ; and some of us here present testify this to be a true
relation, which we heard from his own mouth before many witnesses."

* As he seems to have reprinted the title-page word for word, the book appears
to the casual reader to be of the first edition, and has been so misunderstood and

, catalog'ued. But the Advertisement to the Reader fixes the date as fourteen years
later.

* See p. 427, n. 5.

^ In Cong, in Lit. (ul2) the statement was accepted too hastily from Brook (ii :
19t5) and Barclay (I)-'], OS) that Smyth and his company at first joined the First
Church, that of Jolinson and Ainsworth. But the probabilitv is the other way.
Smyth says (T)iferences of Churches, title-page) tliat that book is published partly
'■ for the removing of an vnjust calumnie cast vppon the brethren of the Sep'Ti-
tion of the Second Englisli Church at Amsterdam : " and Bradford {Dial y'>'!iig",
Chrons. 4.J0) says : '" He [.Smyth] was some time pastor to a conip;iiiy of lionest
and godly men which came with liim out of England," and adds [Jlist. Il'>) : ' ■'•''-
ing how Mr. John Smith and his companie was allready fallen in to contention v. Itli
y* church y' was ther before them."



THE FURTHER HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH U3

ford, who must liave known many of tlieni. as well as their "-en-
eral reputation in En-laud and their history in Holland, says
that they were " honest and godly men." Smyth himself was an
impulsive man, who clearly attached his friends to him strongly.
He could turn his hand to more than one thing,i and was unselfish,
benevolent, and courageous, never ashamed to own any wrono-
which he had discovered in himself, a good preacher and a
scholar of some attainments. He possessed many qualities of a
great, as well as a good, man. Yet his mind was restless, his
conscience morbidly sensitive about trifles, and his will fitful
and fluctuating, not in its great purposes but in its relation to
the data of perceptions and volitions on which, as a foundation,
purposes stand. Bradford described him 2 as tridy as tersely
thus : " His inconstancy and unstable judgment, and being so
suddenly carried away with things, did soon overthrow him."
Robinson condenuied him severely ^ for pelding to this vacil-
lating temperament : " For Mr. Smyth, his instability & wantou-
nes of wit is his syn, & our crosse."

Soon after Smyth's company arrived still another English
church was embodied in the city. There, as elsewhere, were
British Presbyterian merchants. The authorities recognized
them and assigned tliem for services the old Bcr/uf/n (Nunnery)
Chapel, on a court just off the Kaher-straat, still used by the
same organization, now called the Scottish Church. The city
also paid its pastor's salary. On Sunday, Apr. 29, 1607, John
Paget was inducted into its ministry by John Douglas, chaplain
of a Scotch regiment, assisted by three members of the Classis

' DecJar. of Faith of Eng. People. 42. " After a certain time (livinir at Amster-
dam) he beijan to practise Physicke, (knowing- that a man was bound to vse the
gifts that t)ie kird had bestowed vppon him for the Good of others) in admin-
istrin<» whereof. lie vsvally took nothing- of the poorer sort : and if they were
rich, he tooke bnt halfe so much as other Doctors did." It is worth noting here
that Smyth evidently supported himself and took no salary. In his last book,
The Retractation of his Erroiirs, published in 1612, after his death, by the surviv-
ing members of his church, he says (40) : " From that company of Enfjlish people
that came over tog-ether out of the north parts with me I aflirme thus much : That
I never received of them all put to!:;-ether the value of forty shillings, to my know-
ledge since I came out of England." Of course he may have inherited some pro-
perty.

- Did!. Young, Chrons. 450.

3 Just if. of Sep. 58.



444 THE PILGRIMS IN AMSTERDAil

of Anisterdain.^ Jolinsou's people — who seem to have wor-
shipped for ten years in some house on the Groenen-B urq ival -
(Green Rampart) — now, by aid of English friends, were erect-
ing a chureh building. This was upon a narrow passage opening
at a right angle upon the Bavndesteeg (Lane of burnings, i. e., of
heretics), which runs from the JVieincemai'kt (New market) to
the Oude-'djds Achtcrhurgioal (Old wide rear Rampart). The
passage still retains the name Bruingang (Brownists' Alley).
But misfortune pursued them. The records of the English, or
Scotch, Church say, on Mar, IG, 1607 : ^ —

The beforesaid Brownist preaching-house, being half ready, God
sent his strong wind most furious from heavens, and cast the house,
only, and no other, flat down unto the ground ; which was a sign that
they do not build upon the rock, the true and wise foundation.

Apparently this was not only a chapel ^ but a headquarters
for the congregation. The building '^ which took the place of
this one, which was burned in 1GG2, still stands. Its length is
parallel to the alley, which is so narrow that one can touch both
sides at once. It looks a little like a church and more like
a tenement house. It is probable that, in addition to a large
room for their meetings, it had smaller living rooms.'' That this
disaster did not wholly crush their spirits is indicated by Ains-
worth's marriage, only a week from the next Thursday. More-
over, during this year the church reprinted its Latin Confession
of Faith, adding to it. also in Latin, those Points of Difference
between themselves and the Church of England which they
had offered to King James.^

1 W. Steven. Hist. Scot. Ch. Rotterdam, 273.

^ Wagenaar, ii : 174.

' Supplied by Rev. John Mcllraith. pastor in 1871.

* The only siisjg'estion as to its internal arrangement seems to be the state-
ment (Proph. Schisme. 40) that the elders sat upon ''a throne in a high and
eminent place."

* It was sold at auction on Jan. 9, 1S67. The auction poster describes it as " of
old called the English Brownist Church, standing in the Brownist Lane."

* The burial record of Juhn Smyth in the Niewe Kerk (New Church) at Am-
sterdam, on Sept. 1, 1012, shows that he was borne to his grave from the bake-
house of Jan Munter. The late Frederik Muller, an expert antiquary, was
positive that such establisliraents were used as the headquarters of these poor
churches.

" Confessio Fidei Anglomm, etc They published simultaneously an edition in



THE FURTHER HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH 445

During the few quiet months while these two churches dwelt
side by side the times were hard. Bradford, writing many years
afterwards, could not forget what he laiew about them. In that
quaint " Dialogue between Some young men born in Xew Eng-
land, and sundry Ancient men that came out of Holland and
Old England," wliich his nephew. Secretary Nathaniel Morton,
copied into the Plymouth Church records, he says : ^ —

Young Men : Indeed, it seems they have sometimes suffered much
hardness in tlie Low Countries, if that be true that is reported of such
a man as Mr. AinswortU, that he should live for some time with nine
pence a week. To wiiich is replied by another, that if people suifered
him to live on nine pence a week, with roots boiled, either the people
were grown extreme low in estate, or the growth of their godliness
was come to a very low ebb.

AxciENT Men : The truth is, their condition for the most part was
for some time very low and hard. It was with them as, if it should
be related, would hardly be believed. And no marvel. For many of
them had lain long in prisons, and then were banished into New-
foundland, where they were abused, and at last came into the Low
Countries, and wanting money, trades, friends, or acquaintances, and
languages to help themselves, how could it be otherwise ? The report
of Mr. Ainsworth was near those times, when he was newly come out
of Ireland with others poor, and being a single young man and very
studious, was content with a little. And yet, to take otf the aspersion
from the people in that particular, the chief and true reason thereof is
mistaken ; for he was a very modest and bashful man, and concealed
his wants from others, until some suspected how it was with him, and
pressed him to see how it was ; and after it was known, such as were
able mended his condition ; and when he was married afterwards, he
and his family were comfortably provided for.

At this time the Ancient Church comprised " about three
hundred communicants,*' to which number probably from 100
to 200 more of children, youth and non-communicant adults
should be added. " Truly," says Bradford, "there were in them
many worthy men." And he continues, " If you liad seen them

English, thus entith'd : The Confession of faith of certayn English people living in
Exile, in the Low Conntrei/es. Together with a brief note of the special heads of those
things u-hcrin ice differ fro the Church of England, etc. Reprinted in the year 1007.
16mo. A copy is in the Brit. Mus. Library. See pp. 20S and 432, n. 7.
1 Dial. Young', Chrons. 440.



446 THE PILGRIMS IN AMSTERDAM

in their beauty and order, as we have done, you would have
been much affected therewith." Daniel Studley, Stanshall Mer-
cer, George Kny veton and Christopher Bowman were their elders,
and David Bristow, M. Braithwait and Thomas Bishop their
deacons. TJiey also had a venerable and beloved deaconess,^
who kept children quiet during worship and ministered to the
poor, ill and afflicted. Xo hint exists of the place where Smyth's
" Second " church used to meet. Probably it was near its elder
sister. Evidently the two churches had much friendly confer-
ence.- So far as appears, their general views harmonized for a
few months. Various records indicate that the new company
comprised at least from seventy-five to a hundred members.

Clearly Smyth by nature was unusually hospitable to plaus-
ible new views of religion, and had an almost chivalric willing-
ness to adopt them, wherever they might lead, which amounted to
little less than recldessness. In England he had vacillated so that
even Ainsworth said he had published " three sundry- books
wherein he hath shewed himselfe of 3. several religions ; " and,
in another book, had so contradicted himself that there was lit-
tle need of " an other mans sword to peirce the bowels of his
errour, when his own hand fighteth against himself."' He was
not long in the stimulating air of Holland before he began to
diverge from the ordinary Separatist opinions, and eventually
he lost the confidence of the great majority of the wise and
good of his generation. His first notion was that translation of
the original Scriptures necessarily results in an apocr}-])hal writ-
ing, unlawful for use in worship. He, and his church following
him, strove to persuade the Ancient Church to the same view.
At least two public conferences were held, and at the second he
offered a "writing" on the subject. This has been denied.'^
But Ainsworth, then teacher of the older church, who wrote on
the sjiot less than a twelvemonth later, surely must have known
the facts, and says : —

* I}ial. Young:, Chrons. 455.

* Clyfton, Plfa, ix. " To the Elders and brethren were you [Smyth] most wel-
come, and glad they were of you, so long as you walked in the faith with thera."
Ainsworth, Defence, 2, iii. iv.

3 Editorially in the Chicago Standard, July 1, 1880, and the New York Exam,
iner and Chronicle, Aug. I'J, ISSO.



THE FURTHER HISTORY OF THE ANCIENT CHURCH 447

There was one onely difference between M. Smyth and us, when
first he began to quarrel ; . . .

That difference was tliis. He with his followers breaking off cu-
munion with us,^ charged us with synn for using our English Bibles
in the worship of God ; & he thought that the teachers should bring
the originals the Hebrew and Greek, and out of them translate by
voice. His principal reason against our translated scripture was this :
iVb Ajyocrijpha icritimj, but onely the Canonical Scriptures, are to
be used in the Church, in time of Gods worship. Every written
translation is an Apocrypha ivriting, & is not Canonical Scripture.
Therefore every icritten translation is unlawful in the Church in
time of Gods u-orship. . . . A translation being the work of a maris
wit & learning, is as much and as truly an hmnane writing, as the
Apocrypha {so commonly called) u-ritings are. and seeing it hath not
the allowance of holy men inspired, but is of an hidden authoritie, it
may be justly called Apocrypha, &c. And ther fore not to be brought
into the worship of God to be read?

That this point of the translation was the onely difference, as it is
known to al that then heard his publik protestatio ; so his words in
writing shew it. Translations written (sayth he) are not refreyncd in
the case of scandal, for we desired that they might be ref reined for
oiir sokes, that ire might keep communion, & it ivould yiot be yeilded.

So, if we would have layd aside our translateel Bibles, communion
(they say) should have been kept with us.^

Such a man almost certainly would go further, and we soon
find him denying the propriety of using a book in either preach-
ing or singing, thus : * —

2. "SVe hold that seing prophesying is a part of spiritual! worship :
therfore in time of prophesying it is unlawfuU to have the booke as a
help before the eye.

3. We hold that seeing singing a Psalm is a part of spirituall wor-

^ That is, between the two churches.

' Diferenres nf Churches, 12.

* Corroborated by Clyfton (Plea, v) : " First calling' into question, whether the
scriptures being- translated into other tong-ues, were not the writings of men.
. . . Then casting' the reading of them out of the worship of God, affirming that
there is no better u-arrant to bring translations of Scripture into the Church, and to
read them as parts and helps of worship, then to bring in expositions, paraphrasis and
sermons vpon the Scripture, seing all these are equalli/ humane in respect of the
worke, equally divine in resjiect of the matter they handle^ DIfs. 10. And, for the
same cause, separated tliemselves from other Churches that did read and vse the
same in their pnblike meetings." Also Hoornbeeck, Sum. Controv. Relig. 740.

« Difs. iii. Dtf 4.



448 THE PILGRIMS IN AjVISTERDAM

ship ; therefore it is unlawful! to have the hook before the eye, in time
of singing a Psalm.

That part of public worship also was speedily discontinued, as
we know from Ainsworth, who says : —

If it [singing] be an ordinary part of worship, why perform they
it not, but quarrel with vs. who accounting it an extraordinary gift
now ceased, do content our-selves with joint harmonious singing of the
Psalmes of holy Scripture.

This is confirmed by a letter of Hugo and Anne Bronihead,^
which desci'ibes their order of worship and makes no mention of
singing.

Upon two other matters Smyth had reached conclusions at
variance with those of the Ancient Church. One was that all
elders should be pastors, lay-elders, so-called, being antichris-
tian, and that the ^ informed presbyterie . . . consistifig of
three Jcinch of Elders, Pastors, Teachers, JRiders is none of
Gods ordinance, hut mans device.'' The other was that con-
tributions to the church treasury should be with " a separation
from them that ar icithout ; " giving being a part of spiritual
worship.^

We have seen that Amsterdam was regarded as a hotbed of
heresy, and no doubt many there were " come-outers " from
almost every ancient faith. It was not a good place for any
restless and unstable man. It was not a good place for Smyth.
He seems to have come very soon under the influence of Hans
de Ries and Lubbert Gerrits, well-known Dutch Baptists,^ with
results which speedily manifested themselves.

1 To W. Hamerton of London, 1G09. Harl. ^fs. 360 : 70. The date of this un-
dated letter is indicated by the facts that it was written at Amsterdam and says :
"there be divers bociks written by our pastors touching . . . the diferences be-
tween us and the other churches here," which hardly was true before 1G09.

3 Difs. iii. Def. 114.

' Evans, Early Eng. Baptists, 211.



CHAPTER IV

THE PILGRIMS IN THE CITY

We now have reached the time when the last detachment of
the Pilgrim company arrived in Amsterdam — August, 1608.
Even among all the multifarious industries of the place, to
maintain themselves was anything but easy. But they were
equal to it. Aj? Bradford quaintly says : ^ —

It was not louge before they saw the grime & grisly face of povertie
coming upon them like an armed man, with whom they must bukle
& incounter, and from whom they could not flye ; but they were
armed with faith & patience against him, and all his encounters ; and
though they were sometimes foyled, yet by Gods assistance they pre-
vailed and got y* victorie.

We are almost without information as to their life during their
scant year in Amsterdam. We do not know even their numbers,
although there hardly can have been less than from 125 to 150
persons,^ Clyfton probably was their teacher. Robinson surely
was their pastor. Presumably they then had no elder.

In Amsterdam they soon must have felt some spirittial disap-
pointment. The Ancient Church was measurably at peace, but
there were mutterings of a coming storm. Smjiih's company
also — which they must have known best, because of its Gains-
borough origin — was much " drawn away " from its original
views and already threatened with a permanent division. Pos-
sibly the Sorooby company never undertook to settle perma-
nently in Amsterdam, but made temporary arrangements until

1 Hist. IR.

^ Their api>lication for leave to settle in Leyden, early in the next year, is for
"one hundri'd persons, or thereabouts, men and women." Clvfton and his family,
and probably otliers, remainfd ; so that, if the phr.ose " men and women " were
meant to rxtliule children from the account, the total number while in Amsterdam
hardly can have been smaller than that suggested in the text.



460 THE PILGRIMS IN A^ISTERDA]VI

they coiild see light elsewhere. And it demonstrates their re-
ligious sincerity that their solicitude was wholly on that side,
for, difficult although the struggle was in Amsterdam in regard
to " their outward means of living and estats," it was unlikely
that they coiUd be equally comfortable elsewhere. Bradford's
language ^ implies familiarity with the preaching and teacliinc-
of Johnson and Aiusworth, whom probably he often heard. Yet
Kobinson's church mainly worshipped by itself and never was
merged in either of the others. ^ Apparently the three churches
maintained their separate existence, officers and worship side
by side, but with cordial fellowship. Yet the difficulty of accom-
modating the Pilgrim church by itself must have caused the
occasional worship of some members with the Ancient Church.

Soon after Robinson's arrival a pamphlet letter, directed to
Smyth and himself jointly as '• Ringleaders of the late Separa-
tion at Amsterdam," reached them, by Joseph Hall, afterwards
Bishoj) of Exeter and, later, of Norwich. It survives in a re-
print,^ seventy-three years later, and in Hall's works. It assumes
that really there is no other side to the subject than his own.



Online LibraryHenry Martyn DexterThe England and Holland of the Pilgrims → online text (page 44 of 65)