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John Carter

John Carter, A. M.—This eminently holy man 'was bom at Wickham, near Canterbury, about the year 1554, and educated at Clare-hall, Cambridge, where he was much beloved for his great learning and piety. His favourite associates at Cambridge were Dr. Andrews, afterwards bishop of Ely, Dr. Chadderton, Mr. Culverwell, Mr. Kncwstubs, and some others; who constantly held their weekly meetings, for prayer and expounding the scriptures. The portion of scripture appointed to be read was the subject of mutual consideration; when one of them criticised upon the original, another examined its grammatical construction, another its logical analysis, another its true sense and meaning, and another collected the doctrines and uses most naturally resulting from it. By these social exercises, they became, like Apollos, eloquent and mighty in the scriptures. When Mr. Carter went to be ordained, the bishop asked him, saying, " Have you read the Bible through I" " Yes," replied Mr. Carter, " I have read the Old Testament twice through in Hebrew, and the New Testament often through in Greek; and if you please to examine me upon any particular place, I will endeavour to give you satisfaction." " Nay," said the bishop, " if it be so, I shall need to say no more;" and so, after some commendation and encouragement, he ordained him.*

In the year 1583, he was presented to the vicarage of .Bramford in Suffolk. His income at first was, indeed, very small; but by the efforts of the people, it was afterwards raised to twenty pounds a year, which was the most he ever had during his continuance there. He sought not theirs, but them, and so was content. From his first entrance upon the ministry, he laboured as a workman who needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Multitudes of people, from Ipswich and other places, flocked to hear him. But his popularity and usefulness were soon interrupted, and he was brought into trouble on account of his nonconformity. Within about a year of his taking the charge of his flock, he was suspended, with many others, for refusing subscription to Whitgifi's three articles; but it does not appear how long be remained under the ecclesiastical censure.t From his first settlement at Bramford, he saw of the travail of his Redeemer's soul, and was abundantly' satisfied. By the blessing of God upon his faithful ministry and holy life, many souls were added to

• Clark's Lives annexed to Martyrologie, p. 138,133. t MS. Register, p. 437.

the church daily. A generation afterwards sprang up, who, despising his plain and searching ministry, complained of him to the bishop, and would have him to observe an exact conformity, or be ejected. The good man, having laboured there about thirty-four years, was now in danger ot being cast aside as useless, and he very reluctantly accepted an invitation to the rectory of Belsted, in the same neighbourhood. On a change of situation, he found so much favour in the eyes of the bishop, that he was instituted without subscription or the observance of the ceremonies. Here he continued eighteen years, till his labours and his sufferings were accomplished. His ministry at Belsted, as in the former situation, was the happy means of promoting much christian piety, and the conversion of many souls.

Mr. Carter was a strict nonconformist, and could never be persuaded to observe any ceremonies against bis conscience. Though he was often brought into trouble by the bishops, especially upon the publication and imposition of Bishop Wren's cruel and superstitious articles; yet, by the assist, ance of friends, whom God mercifully raised up, he was mostly enabled to maintain his liberty, without any sinful compliance.* He was of a prudent and peaceable spirit, never censuring persons of real piety, though they conformed. He was plain, sincere, and upright; a man in whom there was no guile. He was kind and liberal, giving more every year to the poor than the income of his bene-, flee. His habit, and that of his wife, were plain and homely. Those who called at his house used to say they had teen Adam and Eve, or some of the patriarchs. His conversation was affable, witty and pleasant, savouring of holiness and the kingdom of God. In conversation, with his eyes mostly lifted up towards heaven, he never failed to

* Dr. Matthew Wren, successively bishop of Hereford, Norwich, and Ely, was a prelate of most Intolerant principles, and too much Inclined to the oppressions and superstitions of popery. While he sat in the chair of Norwich, " he proceeded," according to Clarendon, " so warmly and passionately against the dissenting congregations, that many left the kingdom," to the unspeakable injury of the manufactories of this country. His portrait was published and prefixed to a book, entitled, " Wren's Anatomy, discovering his notorious Pranks, Ac. printed in the year when Wren ceased to domineer," 1641. In this portrait the bishop is represented sitting at a table, with two labels proceeding from bis mouth, one of which is inscribed " Canonical Prayers;" the other, " No Afternoon Sermons." On one side stand several clergymen, over whose heads is written, " Altar cringing Priests." On the other side stand two men in by habits,above whom is this inscription: " Church-wardens for Articles." —Prynne't Cant. Deome, p. 531.—Clartndon't HUU vol. il. p. 74.— Granger's Biog. Hist. vol. ii. p. I57.

pour excellent instruction into the mind* of his com* panions.

This worthy divine was remarkable for sensible and witty expressions. Being once reminded of the severe proceedings of the prelates, in persecuting the servants of Christ; and that the Book of Sports tended to the universal profanation of the sabbath, he said, " I have had a longing desire to see or hear of the fall of antichrist; but I check myself. I shall go to heaven, and the news will come thick after."

A poor man once meeting him, and sorely bemoaning his case, said, " Mr. Carter, what will become of me ? I work hard, and fare hard, and yet I cannot thrive. I know not how in the world to live." To whom he replied, " Yet still you want one thing. You most work hard, and fare hard, and vray hard, and then you will be sure to thrive."

This reverend divine once coming softly behind a reli* gious man of his acquaintance, who was busily employed in tanning a hide; and giving him a pleasant tap on the shoulder, the man startled, looked behind him, and, with a blushing countenance, said, " Sir, I am ashamed that you should find me thus." To whom Mr. Carter replied, " Let Christ, when he cometh, find me so doing." " What," said the man, " doing thus ?" " Yes," said Mr. Carter, " faithfully performing the duties of my calling."

Being invited to dine, together with several other ministers, at the house of a respectable magistrate in Ipswich, a very vain person who sat at table, boasted that he would dispute with any gentleman present, upon any question that should be proposed, either in divinity or philosophy. A profound sdence ensued, till Mr. Carter addressed him in these words: " I will go no farther than my trencher to puzzle you. Here is a sole ; now tell me the reason why this fish, which hath always lived in salt water, should come out fresh.»" As the bold challenger did not so much as attempt any answer, the scorn and laughter of the company were presently turned upon him.*

Mr. Carter's zeal for the glory of God and the welfare of souls continued to the last. A little before his departure, he called his daughter to him, and said, " Daughter, remember me to my son Johm I shall see him no more in this life. And remember me to the rest of my children, and deliver this message from me to them all: Stand fast in the faith,

and kmc one another." . He died in great peace and comfort, February 22, 1634, aged eighty years. During the last year of his life, the good old man was censured by Bishop Wren, for nonconformity; but death happily delivered him from all his troubles.* He was a man of great learning and piety, an orthodox and peaceable divine, and an avowed enemy to Popery and Arminianism. He published f A Commentary of Christ's Sermon upon the Mount," and two " Catechisms."