Francis Johnson.—This celebrated puritan was fellow of Christ's college, Cambridge, a very popular preacher in . the uersity, and afterwards a leading person among the Brownists in London. In the year 1588, for a sermon which he preached in St. Mary's church, Cambridge, which was said to contain certain erroneous and dangerous doctrines, he was convened before the vice-chancellor, Dr. Nevil, and the heads of colleges, and committed to prison. The various proceedings of these ecclesiastical rulers engaged the attention of the uersity for a twelvemonth ; and while some warmly approved of the rigorous measures, others severely censured them, as reproachful to a protestant ,
country. His text was 1 Pet . v. 1—4. " The elder* .which are among yon, I exhort, who am also an elder," &c. That the reader may have a clear and correct view of the whole proceedings, it will be proper to state those erroneous and dangerous positions, said to be collected from his sermon, which were the following :—I. " That the church of God ought to be governed by elders.—2. That a particular form of church government is prescribed in the word of God.—3. That no other form ought to be allowed. —4. That the neglect to promote this government is one chief cause of the present ignorance, idolatry, and disobedience.—5. That we have not this government.—
6. That ministers ought to live upon their own cures.—
7. That there ought to be an equality among ministers, which the popish hierarchy, and all who belong to it, do not like.—8. That we have an Amaziah among us, who forbiddeth Amos to preach at Bethel: they do not exhort to feed the flock, but hinder those who would."*
Admitting that these articles were impartially collected from his sermon, they do not appear to be of any very dangerous tendency, and, therefore, not deserving of any severe punishment; but of this every candid reader judge for himself. Mr. Johnson was commanded to answer them, and declare what he had delivered in his sermon, upon his oath; which, because he was unwilling to accuse himself, he absolutely refused. He underwent several examinations, and was cast into prison, where he remained a long time. Mr. Cuthbert Bainbrigg, another zealous puritan, and prosecuted on a similar account, was his fellow-prisoner. These two persecuted servants of Christ, after suffering a long and painful imprisonment, laid their case at the feet of Lord Burleigh, chancellor of the uersity, a particular account of which is given in another place.t
Though Mr. Johnson refused to answer upon his oath, lest, as observed above, he should prove his own accuser, he delivered his answer to each of the articles in writing. As these articles are now before me, it will be proper to favour the reader with a sight of them, " That which I spake in my sermon," says Mr. Johnson, " was the following:
1. " I proved, by divers reasons, that as the church to which Peter wrote, and the other churches then fully established, had, for their instruction and government, this
• Baker's MS. Collec. vol. vi. p. 186 Slrype's Whilgift, p. 296,299.
+ See Art. Cuthbert Bainbrigg.
one uniform and prescribed order of teaching and ruling elders; so the same, by the word of God, are still necessary to the right instruction and government of his churches.
2. " The Apostle Paul having spoken of the ordinances and officers of the church, as of prophesy and others, he concludes, If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that J write unto you, are the commandments of the Lord. Upon this, I said, if they be the commandments of the Lord, then, till repealed, we are to hold them.
3. " When further speaking of elders, seeing God hath set them in his church, I asked, Who hath authority to put them out, and set others in ? For they were appointed, not only for a few years, but to be continued to the end of the world. This wc sec in the apostle's charge, 1 Cor. xii. 28, 1 Tim. vi. I3, 14. Also our Saviour gave his commission and promise to all his faithful ministers, to the end of the world. Matt, xxviii. 19,20, Acts xiii. 36.
4. " When speaking of the necessity of elders, I said, I doubt not that the want of them, seeing they are appointed of God, is the occasion of ignorance, atheism, idolatry, profanation of the sabbath, disobedience to superiors, &c. as we find too lamentably proved by experience.
5. " I said, it would be objected, that there is not a sufficient number fit for this office. To which I answered, that many who are fit, are not employed. And inquiring where the fault was, I said, it was not in the Lord, who is most ready to set watchmen upon the walls of his church, which is his city; and to give pastors unto his flock, to feed it with knowledge and understanding. Shall we think that God is not able and willing to qualify men for the ministry of the gospel, as he was Aholiab and Bezaleel for the work of the tabernacle, and Hiram for the temple? Doubtless he is the same God, able and willing: but the fault is in ourselves. If you, indeed, desire that sinners should be awakened and arise from the dead, labour by all means of petition to God, and supplication to those in authority, that Christ Jesus may be heard in our congregations.
6. " Having proved that elders ought to be with their own flocks, and to feed them, I said, that Christ would call those elders to give an account. In the application, I exhorted those who have particular flocks committed to them, and still live in the uersity, to retire into their chambers, and examine their hearts before the Lord, and to act according as the case required.
7. " 1 said, that if Peter had possessed such authority as the papists ascribe to him, he might have commanded these elders to do that, which, as a fellow-elder, he exhorts them. But he was so far from thinking himself the chief of the . apostles, that he accounts himself a fellow-elder with the ordinary elders of other congregations. Yet the popish hierarchy accounts otherwise, both of his superiority over the rest of the apostles, and of themselves as bishops of bishops: but we are to like a godly equality.
8. " I shewed, that as it was the duty of all christians, so also of all the ministers of God's word, to exhort and stir up one another. And that this practice of the apostle con-. demned those, who are so far from exhorting others to feed the flock, that they hinder those who would feed them."*
His answers, however, gave not the least satisfaction.' After repeated examination, and remaining a long time in prison, he was enjoined, October 19, 1589, to make the following recantation :—" Whereas, January 6th, last past, " I taught that our uniformity and prescribed order by "teaching and ruling elders, by the word of God, is " necessary for the teaching and ecclesiastical government u of the church of God, and is the commandment of the " Lord, and to be kept until the appearing of our Lord . u Jesus Christ: and seeing God, as the apostle saith, hath " set them to be ciders in the church, who hath authority " to set them out or others in ? I therefore being given to " understand, that the said speeches of mine were so " construed by some, as though I had thereby greatly u derogated from her majesty's authority in causes ecclesi" astical, do now more plainly express my meaning, that 1 u do not think, that there is set down by the word of God, M any stinted and precise form of external government of " the church, which must of necessity be observed in all " times and places without exception : but am persuaded, " that, for the better government of particular congregations, " her majesty may establish such orders, as, by her godly " wisdom, with the advice of her godly and learned prelates, *4 she shall find most expedient for the state of her country, "according to her majesty's pre-eminence in the church' " established by the laws of the realm, and expressed in
* Slrype'i Annals, vol. IH. Appro, p. 267—269.
" her most just title, which is most agreeable to the word of " God, and conformable to the example of most ancient " churches, which have been ruled by christian magistrates.
" And whereas I did affirm the want of elders (being the " ordinary means appointed by God) to be the cause of " ignorance, atheism, idolatry, profanation of the sabbath, " and disobedience to superiors; and these words of mine " seemed to some, injurious to the present state of the " church and commonwealth of the land and magistrates " of them both, as not having care so to establish the " government as might root out such great enormities: for " the better explanation of my mind on this subject, I " cannot say of my certain knowledge, that these vices are " more abounding here in our churches than in such " churches where elders are at this day placed. And I am " of opinion that her majesty, and such as are in authority "under her, have by wholesome laws provided against " such evils."*
Mr. Johnson was required to make the above ridiculous recantation in the pulpit of St. Mary's church; and because he performed it " in mincing terms, and did not fully revoke his opinions," according to the form given him, he was, October 30th, in the above year, expelled from the uersity : and because he did not depart from the place, he was, December the 18th, again cast into prison.t By the recommendation of Burleigh the chancellor, he made an appeal to the uersity against these illegal and cruel proceedings, and wrote a long and excellent letter to' the chancellor, of which the following is a copy :
" To the right honourable the Lord Burleigh.
" I came hither to Cambridge, as I was by your lordship advised, to follow my appeal to the uersity. I went in a quiet manner to Mr. Vice-chancellor and to Dr. Bying, to desire that cither some law might be shewed to cut off my appeal, or else my appeal not hindered, further than was alleged by your lordship; which I then answered, there hath been no one clause of law shewed me, sufficient to debar me from the benefit of appeal. I requested the proctor to prosecute my appeal, and to procure delegates to be chosen according to the statute, which was all I could here do. And now not only have I profited nothing, but being called before Mr. Vice-chancellor and the heads, the 18th of the present month, I was there, (for any thing 1
heard,) by the sole authority of the vice-chancellor, charged the next day to depart the uersity, except I would there desire some longer respite for the ridding away of my stuff. Whereunto I making answer, that I waited for the prosecution of my appeal made to the uersity, which depending, I was by law to remain in state as before. I was again required to answer whether I would depart the next day, or ask respite for the removal of my stuff: whereunto I answering that I was not so minded to let fall my appeal, and was by the vice-chancellor committed to close prison, without bail or mainprise, until such time as I would yield to let fall my appeal, and give oVer my title to the uersity and to my fellowship; where I did continue three days in the Tolbooth, in a close and cold corner, straitly kept, that none of my friends might come at me, nor comfort come to me from them. And now, because of the extremity of the weather, I am removed to the bailiff of the Tolbooth's house, with most strait charge, that none at all are suffered to come unto me.
" Neither doth this most violent dealing only fall upon me. But I beseech your lordship also to consider, whether the sovereign authority of our gracious queen (whom God long continue among us with much glory) be not impugned, by making themselves without, nay against law and statute, supreme judges and governors not to be appealed from; the honourable protection of your lordship over us trampled under their feet, by most straitly imprisoning me, for that which your lordship permitted and advised me to do; and the express statute of our whole uersity by all violence broken and disannulled, for the maintaining of their own indiscreet and unlawful proceedings. And, touching myself and my cause at this time, I most humbly beseech your lordship also to consider, what injustice it is to wring from me by violence and forcible imprisonment, in more strait manner than is usual to felons, and like malefactors, that which by law I might rightfully maintain.
" To God, who judgeth right, I commit my cause, being in myself persuaded, and rejoicing, that 1 have received honour to suffer for the truth of the eternal God; which at first and now still, they persecute in me the unworthiest of the servants of God. O, my God! look down from heaven: stay the fury of men: strike thy fear into their hearts, that they may consider their last end.
" Now to your lordship, I, a poor prisoner, overthrown by the power of mine adversaries in a just cause, being put •
out of doubt that here I shall find no more justice, the proctor being checked for dealing in my appeal, and threatened to be called to his answer, do most instantly in God's behalf, and for righteous dealing, beg and beseech you to take my cause to your lordship's hearing, and to rescue me from this grievous imprisonment, which, undeservedly, the Lord of heaven knoweth, I sustain. I do appeal unto your lordship's wisdom, justice and authority, as being honourable chancellor of this our uersity. The Lord give me favour in the sight of your honour, and the Lord move your honour's heart to have compassion on my calamity. Unto his will and wisdom I humbly submit myself, and my cause, making my humble prayer to Almighty God, to endue your lordship with godly wisdom and zeal for his glory, both in this and all other causes. " Your honour's humble supplicant,
" Francis Johnson.
" Cambridge, December 22, 1589."*
Two supplications, subscribed by sixty-eight scholars, all fellows of the uersity, were at the same time presented to Burleigh, in behalf of Mr. Johnson and his appeal. In the latter, dated December S3, 1589, they observe, that the privileges granted by the queen's majesty, and the statutes of the uersity, were violently torn from them, by those who ought to have shewn them a better example; and then add,—" Mr. Francis Johnson, a man whose cause and estate, by reason of his long trouble and other grievances, are well known unto your lordship, being prohibited by Mr. Vice-chancellor and some others from presenting his lawful appeal to the uersity, made and intimated to the proctor, according to statute, from the sentence of expulsion given by the late vice-chancellor; and not finding any means here to help himself, repaired unto your honour for succour, and was, as we understand, remitted to the uersity, to which he had appealed. Now since his last return, Mr. Vice-chancellor that now is, citing him before the heads, charged him to depart the uersity; but he still challenging the benefit of his appeal, was by the vice-chancellor committed to close prison without bail or mainprize. Wc doubt not that your lordship soon percciveth how unequal it is that the parties, from whom the appeal was made, should be judges whether the appeal be lawful or not: as also how the statute of appeal is utterly made void, if for appealing
» Baker's MS. Colter, vol. It. p. 85, 86.
the vice-chancellor may commit to prison him that resteth not in his sentence. I or of the close prison, without bail, we say nothing, leaving it to your lordship's wisdom, and to the laws of the land: we do not deny that our hearts are greatly moved with this strange example of extraordinary violence and extremity. Our great grief and distress of heart hardly sufferctk to make any end of complaining, and what to ask of your lordship we well know not; but we beseech the Lord our God to affect your honour's heart, with a tender compassion of the great affliction of this our dear brother and faithful servant of God, Mr. Johnson."*
Among those who subscribed the two supplications, are the names of William Perkins, Thomas Brightman, and Anthony Wotton, all divines of great celebrity in their day. Indeed, the most pious and learned men in the uersity disapproved of the above illegal and inhuman proceedings; and Dr. Goad, provost of King's college, Dr. VVhitaker, master of St. John's college, and Dr. Chadderton, master of Emanuel college, all protested against them.t We do not find, however, that these supplications and protestations were at all effectual. How long Mr. Johnson remained under his barbarous confinement, we have not been able to learn; but, as he failed to obtain redress, he, being wearied by the fatigue of the prison, most probably consented to leave the uersity. A divine of his name, and probably the subject of this narrative, subscribed the "Book of Discipline."f
The tyrannical and cruel persecution of the puritans, instead of bringing them to conformity, only drove them further from the established church. They could not in conscience comply with such measures, nor much less could they approve of a church fighting with such weapons. Therefore, at this period, many pious and learned persons were driven to a total separation from the ecclesiastical establishment, among whom was Mr. Johnson, who espoused the sentiments of the Brownists, and joined their congregation which assembled privately in and about London. About the year 1592, the members of this congregation, having become rather numerous, formed themselves into a church; when Mr. Johnson was chosen pastor by the suffcrage of the brotherhood, Mr. John Greenwood, doctor or teacher, Messrs. Bowman and Lee, deacons, and Messrs. Studly and Kinaston, elders. The whole of this service
• linker's MS. Collec. vol. Iv. p. 87 , 88. t Ibid. p. 85.
f Near* Puritans, Voi. i. p. 4W.
was performed in one day, at the house of Mr. Fox in Nicholas-lane. At the same time, seven persons were baptized, without godfathers or godmothers, Mr. Johnson only washing their faces with water, and pronouncing the form, " I baptize thee in the name of the Father,' &c. The Lord's supper was also administered in the following manner: five white loaves being set upon the table, the pastor implored the blessing of God; and after breaking the bread, he delivered it to part of the company, and the deacons to the rest, some standing and others sitting around the table, using the words of the apostle, 1 Cor. xi. 24, Take, eat, &c. In like manner he gave the cup, saying, This cup is the New Testament, &c. At the close, they sung an hymn, and made a collection for the poor. Afterwards, when any one entered into the church, he made this single protestation or promise, " That he would walk with them, so long as they walked in the way of the Lord, and as far as might be warranted by the word of God."*
This congregation, of which Mr. Johnson was pastor, was obliged, in order to avoid the bishops' officers, to meet in different places, and sometimes in the dead of the night; but was at length discovered on a Lord's day at Islington, in the very place in which the protestant congregation met in the reign of Queen Mary. About fifty-six persons were taken into custody, and sent, two by two, to the different
Srisons about London, where several of their friends had een confined a considerable time. Upon their examination, they acknowledged that they had met in the fields, in the summer season, by five o'clock on a Lord's day morning, and in winter in private houses; that they continued all the day in prayer and expounding the scriptures, dined together, and afterwards made collecliori for their food, and sent the remainder of the money to their brethren in prison; and that they did not use the Lord's prayer, apprehending that our Saviour did not intend it to be used as a form, after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.t Also, during their imprisonment, their adversaries having charged them with holding many extravagant opinions concerning baptism, marriage, lay-preaching, and other particulars, they vindicated themselves in a very solid and judicious reply, shewing how far they were falsely accused.}
Though it does not appear whether Mr. Johnson was apprehended and cast into prison at the same time with the
• SCrype's Annals, vol. It. p. 176. + Ibid. vol. iii. p. 579. t MS. llegiiter, p. 850—855.
congregation; yet, during the present year, both he and Mr. Joun Greenwood, were seized by Archbishop Whitgift's pursuivants, without warrant, at a certain citizen's house in Ludgatc-hill; and in the midst of the night, after the pursuivants had searched all the chests, boxes, and other private places in the house, they were carried to the Compter, and the next day Whitgift and the other high commissioners committed them to close prison.*
Mr. Johnson underwent many examinations before his ecclesiastical inquisitors; and though he absolutely refused the oath ex officio, he confessed, April 5, 1593, " That he was first taken in an assembly in St. Nicholas-lane, and committed to the Compter in Wood-slreet; that afterwards he was apprehended in Mr. Boys's house," (as mentioned above,) " and committed to prison by the Archbishop of Canterbury and others; and that he had been twice examined before the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Anderson." Being asked how long he had held the opinions of the Brownists, he said, he could not definitely answer, but signified that he had been committed to prison four years before, for a sermon delivered in St. Mary's church, Cambridge. He confessed, that he had baptized divers children in the congregation ; but, as to marriage, he did not account it an ecclesiastical service, or at all belonging to the ministerial function. He observed, that it was not indispensably requisite to use the very words of the Lord's prayer; and that the Lord's supper was not to be confined to any particular time, but might be received at any time of the day or night, when the congregation is assembled and prepared for it. Being required to shew in what places they had assembled, he refused to answer; and being asked whether he possessed or had possessed any of Barrow's, Greenwood's,or Penry's books, he alsodesired to be excused making any reply. When he was asked whether he had not persuaded others to the assembly of the congregation of which he was pnstor, and how many he had so persuaded; he said, he had done, and must do, that which God, according to his holy word, required of him; but refused any further answer. And being asked whether he would reform himself, and attend upon the service of the parish church, he refused to give a direct answer; but said, he could not join in the ecclesiastical ministry and state of archbishops, bishops, parsons, vicars, &c. &c.+
• Slrvpr'sAnnal'.vnl. iv.p.Ofi. 1 Bakrr'sMS. CoHrc Toi. It. p. 33,34.
Mr. Johnson, having lain in close confinement fourteen months, wrote a letter to Lord Treasurer Burleigh, entreating his compassionate influence to procure tor him and his fellow-prisoners, a friendly conference, that their real sentiments might be known, and that all impartial men might judge whether they deserved such hard treatment. In this letter, he observes, " That his brother George had been confined eleven months in the Clink.* And," says he, c4 when our poor old father applied to Justice Young, for us to have the liberty of the prison, he and the Sean of Westminster, would have sent him to prison, had not Justice Barnes interposed and prevented them.—We are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. We suffer these things only for refusing to have communion with the antichristian prelacy; and for labouring, in a holy and peaceable manner, to obey the Lord Jesus Christ in his ministry and worship, as prescribed in his last Testament, and sealed with his own precious blood. If wc err in these things, prisons and the gallows an; no fit means to convince and persuade our consciences: but nil her a quiet and godly conference, or a discussion of the matter by writing, before equal and impartial judges. This we have often sued for, but could never yet obtain. Wc now, therefore, in a humble manner, solicit your lordship to procure this for us. Not that we doubt the truth of our cause. We are fully persuaded of this from the word of God, and are ready, by the grace of God, to seal it with our own blood. But wc desire it, that the truth beinsj discovered and made manifest, the false offices, callings, livings, and possessions of I he prelacy, might be converted to her majesty's use, as were not long since the livings of the abbots, monks, and friars in these dominions; and that by these means the s;ospcl of Christ may have free course, and the peace of the church be promoted." In the conclusion, he subscribes himself, " pastor of that poor distressed church, and still a close prisoner for the gosj)el of Jesus Christ."t
Inclosed in this letter, Mr. Johnson sent a paper to the treasurer, signifying, that, for his writings, he was in no
* Mr. George Johnson, member of the Brownist congregation, late schoolmaster in St. Nicholas-lane, London, born at Richmond in Yorkshire, was convened, April 2, 1593, before the high commission, when he underwent an examination, but refused to take the oath. He had at that time been some weeks a prisoner in Newgate, and had already undergone several examinations before the Bishop of London and others.—Baker's MS. Colin, vol. jiv. p. 107.
+ Strype's Annals, vol. iv. p. 133—136.
danger of the statute of 35 Eliz. " To retain the queen's subjects in their due obedience." In this paper, he professedly acquits himself on the following grounds:
1. He had only inquired of the prelates and ministers, whether her majesty, with the consent of parliament, might not abolish the present prelacy and ministry of the church, and transfer their revenues and possessions to her own civil uses, as her father, Henry VIII., did with abbots, monks, and others, and their livings.
2. His writings arc only in defence of such doctrines of Christ as are against the canonical function of the pope, and were professed by the holy martyrs of Christ, accounted lollardy and heresy : as, for instance, John Wicklifle held, that archbishops, bishops, archdeacons, officials, deans, &c. were disciples of antichrist.
3. If the statute of 35 Eliz. be against such writings and books as reprove the ecclesiastical ministry and government of archbishops, bishops, archdeacons, deans, Sec. then the writing and the printing of the confessions of the reformed churches of Helvetia, Tigur, Geneva, &c. wherein they write, that arch prelates, metropolitans, nrchpriests, deans, subdeans, and others of the same kind, pass not a rush. And the confessions of the reformed French and Belgick .churches say, that the church ought to be governed by pastors, elders, and deacons, as Christ hath appointed.
4. In his writings, he hath proved his assertions by the word of God, which her majesty protesteth and defendeth ; and they arc written in defence of fhc liberty and privilege of the church of Christ, which the great charter of England granteth and preserve!h inviolable.
5. If all who forsake the communion of the established church, be in danger of this statute ; then any one forsaking the church, and joining the French, Dutch, or Italian churches, allowed by her majesty in London, Norwich, or Sandwich, wotdd also incur the penalty of this statute.
6. He never maliciously persuaded any to abstain from the church, much less to deny, withstand, or impugn her majesty's authority.
7. He never did, obstinately, and without lawful cause, but upon conscience, grounded upon the word of God, and approved by the confessions of the reformed churches, and the faithful servants and martyrs of Christ, refuse to hear, and have communion with the ministry of the church as now established.
8. He, having been a close prisoner a long time before the said statute was made, cannot be lawfully convicted of having broken it."*
These reasons, however, prevailed not. Whether the treasurer made any use of them, we arc not able to learn. But Mr. Johnson was brought to trial; and though his crime was merely that of writing against the established church and the oppressions of the prelates, and was committed even some time before the statute was made, he was found guilty by the said statute, and condemned to perpetual banishment from his country. Messrs. B:irrow, Greenwood, Penry, and some others, having sufFered death on account of their firm attachment to their religious sentiments, Archbishop Whitgift and the other ruling prelates, who were the chief promoters of these barbarous proceedings, became, at length, ashamed of hanging men for propagating their religious principles, and contrived this engine to have the Brownists and other puritans swept out of the land. This net, therefore, condemned them to banishment without discrimination ; and the gaols were soon cleared of them. Yet the overbearing, tyrannical prelates took care to have them filled again in the following year.t
Mr. Johnson being condemned to suffer perpetual banishment, retired to Amsterdam, many of his friends accompanying him. There he formed a church after the model of the Brownists, having the learned Mr. Henry Ainsworth for its doctor or teacher. The grand principle on which this church was founded, may be expressed in Air. Johnson's own words. " The church," says he, " ought not to be governed by popish canons, courts, clnssis, customes, or any human inventions,but by the laws and rules which Christ hath appointed in his Testament."} " Every particular church, with its pastors, stands immediately under Christ, the archpastor, without nny other ecclesiastical power intervening ; whether it be of prelates, synods, or any other invented by man."^ In 1598, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Ainsworth drew up a confession of their faith in Latin, which they dedicated to the uersities of St. Andrews, Lcyden, Ilcidelbery, Geneva, and the other uersities of Scotland, Holland, Germany, and France. It was afterwards translated into English, and does not differ much in doctrine from the u Harmony of Confessions.")
• Strype's Annals, vol. It. p. 1ST, 138.
t Ainsworth'i Counterpoyson, p. 40. J Paget'' Chnrrh Got. p. 811. 4 Bailie't Diuuasive, p. 35. \ Life of Ainmorlb, p. 18.
Although Mr. Johnson was a learned and religious man, he was rigid in his principles ;* and his people entertaining discordant sentiments, it was not long before they split into parties. That which first occasioned this dissention was Mr. Johnson's marriage to a widow of competent fortune, whom his brother George Johnson and his father thought nn improper match in those times of persecution. George Johnson represents her as addicted to luxurious living, excess of finery in dress, and a lover of ease. Frequent disputes, therefore, took place from 1594, the time of marriage, till about 1598, when George Johnson, his father, and some other members who adhered to them, were cut off from the church, chiefly on account of their behaviour in this affair. The greater part, among whom was Mr. Ainsworth,* took part with Francis the pastor. Much reproach has, by various writers, been cast upon them on account of this censure.} The excommunication of a brother and an aged father, appears an harsh and unnatural proceeding: however, the grounds,circumstances, and ends of it, should be examined before we condemn what was done. Most probably the censure was by the suffrage of the church, and appeared to a majority of its members, to be according to the will of God; and, therefore, they preferred the will of God, more than any natural affection, and regarded the spiritual welfare of those whom they cast out, more than any temporal ease or advantage. Mr. Johnson says, " Those whom we have cast out, it hath been partly for revolting from the truth, to the corruptions of other churches, and partly for other sins.'H And Mr. Ainsworth says, " That George Johnson and his father were cast out for lying, slandering and contention."||
Mr. Neal confounds this unhappy controversy with another which happened many years afterwards, between Mr. Johnson and Mr. Ainsworth, about matters of discipline.! Mr. Johnson placed the government of the church in the eldership alone; Ainsworth in the whole church, of which the elders are a part. The event, accord
• Bishop Hall charges him with saying, " That the ministry and worship of the church of England were taken out of the whore's cup. He styles our church, the daughter of Babylon, the mother of whoredoms and ahotninitions t and says, that the constitution, worship, and government, are directly anlichrislian."—Apologit against Broicnists, p. 742. Edit. 1614.
+ See Art. Ainsworth. t Bailie's Dissuasive, p. 15. ^ Ibid. p. S7.
H Life of Ainsworth, p. 30.
! Neal's Hist, of Puritans, Voi. ii. p. 44, 45.
ing to the opinion of some,* was, that Johnson excommunicated Ainsworth and his part of the church, and that A ins worth returned the compliment upon the opposite party: but for the latter charge there appears no foundation.t On the contrary, Mr. John Cotton, who was no Browuist, but was contemporary with Ainsworth and Johnson, and lived among those who had been concerned in this affair, observes, " That Mr. Ainsworth and his company did not excommunicate Mr. Johnson and his party, but withdrew, when they could no longer live peaceably together.'"t Ainsworth and those who adhered to him, held a separate assembly at Amsterdam, and the two congregations were afterwards distinguished as Johnsonian and Ainsworthian Brownists.^ But Mr. Johnson and his friends, at length, removed to Embden, where he afterwards died, and his congregation dissolved.
In the year 1599, there was a long controversy carried on in print, between Mr. Johnson and Mr. Henry Jacob, concerning certain tenets of the Brownists. The same year the whole was collected and published at Middlcburgh, by Mr. Johnson, consisting of ninety-one quarto pages, entitled," A Defence of the Churches and Ministry of England, against the reasons and objections of Maistcr Francis Johnson, and others of the separation commonly called Brownists. In two Treatises. Published especially for the benefit of those in these parls of the Low Countries." In one of these treatises is a recapitulation of all the chief objections raised by the Brownists' against the church of England ; from which we may gather a much more complete account of their tenets and doctrines, than from any thing else ever published ; and it is truly authentic, because it was written by one of the leaders of the Brownists. It is called, " Antichristian Abominations yet retained in England," and enumerates the following particulars:
" The confusion of all sorts of people in the body of
* Bailie's Dissuasive, p. 15.
+ Life of Ainsworth, p. 31, 33.
t Cotton's Congregational Churches, p. G.
*) The Johnsonian Browni*ts commenced a suit, it is said, against the Ainsworthlans, for the meeting-house granted to the Brownists at Amsterdam. The Johnsonians pleaded that it belonged to them, being the ancient Brownists, to whom it was originally given: but the Ainsworthians, on the contrary, pleaded it was theirs, seeing they were the true Brownistsa holding the ancient faith of that church, from which the Johnsonians are said to have apostatized. How far this account is correct, or how this dispute was ended, we arc not able to learn.—Pagtt'i Iferesiography, p. 67 , 68.
their (the English) church; even the most polluted, and their seed, being members thereof.—Their ministration of the word, sacraments, and government of the church, by virtue of antichristian officers.—The titles of primate, metropolitan, lords, grace, lordship, &c. ascribeu to the prelates.— The inferior prelates swearing obedience to the nietropolitical sees of Canterbury and York.—The inferior ministers, when ihey enter into the ministry, promising obedience to the prelates, and their ordinances; and when they are inducted to benefices, confirming with an oath.—The deacon's and priest's presentation to a lord bishop, by an archdeacon.—Their receiving orders of the prelates, or their suffragans.—Their pontifical, or book of consecrating bishops, and of ordering priests and deacons, taken out of the pope's pontifical, where their abuse of scripture to that end, their collects, epistles, &c. may be seen.—Their making, and being made, priests, with blasphemy ; the prelates saying to those whom they make priests, Receive ye the Holu Glwst, tefwse sins ye forgive, they are forgiven, &c. —Their confounding of civil and ecclesiastical offices and authorities in ecclesiastical persons.—Their retaining and using in their public worship the apocryphal books, which have in them divers errors, untruths, blasphemies, and contradictions to canonical scriptures.—Their stinted prayers and liturgy, taken out of the pope's mass-book, with the same order of psalms, lessons, collects, pater-nosters, epistles, gospels, versicles, responds, &c.—The cross in baptism.—The hallowed font, and quest'ons to the infants in baptism.—The godfathers and godmothers promising that the child doth believe, forsake the devil and all his works, &c Women's baptizing of children ; which maintained) that heresy, that the children are damned which die unbaptized.—Their howseling the sick, and ministering the communion to one alone. The ministering it, not with the words of Christ's institution, but with others taken out of the pope's portuis.—They sell that sacrament for two-pence to all comers.—The receiving of it kneeling, which maketh it an idol, and nourishcth that heresy of receiving their Maker, of worshipping it, &c.—Their ring in marriage, making it a sacramental sign, and marriage an ecclesiastical action; thereby nourishing the popish heresy, that matrimony is a sacrament.—Their praying over the dead, making it also a part of the minister's duty, and nourishing the heresy of prayer for the dead.—Their churching or purifying of women, then also abusing that
scripture, The sun shall not burn them by day, nor the moon by night.—Their Gang-weck,» and then praying over the corn and grass.—Their forbidding of marriage in Gangweek, in Advent, in Lent, and on all the Ember-days; which
the apostle calleth a doctrine of devils, 1 Tim. iv. 1—3 .
Their saints, angels and aposllcs' days, with their prescript service.—Their fasts, and abstaining from flesh, on their eves, on Fridays, Saturdays, Ember-days, and all the days of Lent.—Their dispensations from the prelates' courts of faculties to eat flesh at these times.—Their dispensations to marry in these'times forbidden.—Licenses from the same authority to marry in places exempt.—Dispensations also
from thence for boys and ignorant fools to have benefices
Dispensations also for nonresidents.—For having two, three, four, or more benefices.—^'Tolerations.—Patronages of, and presentations to, benefices, with buying and selling advowsons.—Their institution into benefices by the prelates, their inductions, proxies, &c—Their suspensions, absolutions, degradations, deprivations, &c. — The prelates, chancellors, commissioners' courts, having power to excommunicate alone, and to absolve.—Their penance in a white sheet.—Their commutation of penance, and absolving one man for another.—The prelate's confirmation, or bishopping of children, to assure them of God's favour, by a sign of man's devising.—The standing at the gospel.—The putting off' the cap, and making a leg, when the word Jesus is read. —The ring of peals at burials.—Bead-men at burials, and hired mourners in mourning apparel.—The hanging and mourning of churches and hearses with black at burials.— Their absolving the dead, dying excommunicate, before they can have, as they say, Christian burial.—The idol
tippet, the surplice, and the cope.—The visitations of the lord-bishops and archdeacons.—The prelates' lordly dominion, revenues, and retinue.—The priests' maintenance
* Gang-week, or rogation-week, was that particular season of the year, in which, according to popish custom, was observed 11 the perambulation of the circuits of parishes." Queen Elizabeth retained the same practice, and enjoined, ** That the people should once n year, at the " accustomed time, with the minister and substantial men of the parish, " walk round the parish as usual, and at their return to church make the "common prayers; provided that the minister, at certain convenient " places, shall admonish the people to give thanks to God for the increase " and abundance of the fruits of the earth, repeating the 103d Psalm ; at " which time also the minister shall inculcate this and such like sentences, " Cursed be he that remoweth his neighbour's land-mmrk."—Sparrow's Collection, p. 73.
rocket, horned cap,
by tithes, Christmas offerings, &c.—The oaths ex officio in their ecclesiastical courts, making men swear to accuse themselves.—The churchwarden's oath to present to the prelates all the offences, faults, and defaults, committed in their parishes against their articles and injunctions.—The prelates ruling the church by the pope's cursed canon law. —Finally, their imprisoning and banishing such as renounce and refuse to witness these abominations aforesaid, and the rest yet retained among them."*
As our author very justly observes, they might well find fault with the church in the article last mentioned, since they had smarted so severely under it. The foregoing particulars contain the general principles of the Brownists, or their chief reasons for a total separation from the established church, and are undoubtedly the most complete and correct account of their opinions, that was ever published. We forbear making any comments, but leave the whole to the reader's own judgment.
His Works.—1. Ccrtayne Reasons and Arguments, proving that it is not lawful to hear, or have any spiritual Communion with, the present Ministry of the Church of England, 1601. This is perhaps the same as that of which an abstract is given above.—2. An Answer to White's Discovcric of Brownism, 1C0(J.—3. A Christian Pica, 1617.—4. A Tract on Matt, xviii.—lie also published some other pieces on the controversies of the times.