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John Penry

John Penry, A. M.—This distinguished puritan was born in Brecknockshire, in the year 1559, and educated first at Cambridge, then at St. Albans-hall, Oxford, where he took his degree of Master of Arts in 1586. " When he first went to Cambridge," says Wood, " he was as arrant a papist as ever came out of Wales, and he would have run a false gallop over his beads with any man in England, and help the priest sometimes to say mass at midnight." Admitting he was then much inclined to popery, being only about eighteen years of age, we need not wonder, especially when it is recollected, that the country whence he came was then wholly overspread with popish darkness. However, as our author intimates, he soon renounced popery; and, after taking his degrees, became an esteemed preacher in both universities, where he was accounted " a tolerable scholar, an edifying preacher, and a good man." This, from so bitter an author, is certainly a very high character of so rigid a puritan. " But," he adds, " being full of Welsh blood, and of a hot and restless head, he changed his course, and became a notorious anabaptist, and in some sort a Brownist, and a most bitter enemy to the church of England."t He was, undoubtedly, an enemy to the hierarchy, and the persecution of the prelates, and a zealous promoter of a further reformation.

Upon Mr. Penry's leaving the university, he settled for some time at Northampton, where he was most probably employed in the ministry. About the year 1587, he entered upon his sufferings in the cause of nonconformity, being convened before Archbishop Whitgift, Bishop Cooper, and other high commissioners. The charge brought against him was, that in a book he had published, he had asserted, " That mere readers, meaning such as could not, or would not preach, were no ministers. Reading homilies only, or

• Baktr's MS. CoUec. vol. Kt. p. 108. t Athene Oxoo, vol. i. p. 227.

any other books," he said, " was not preaching the word of God, and so the ordinary means of salvation was wanting." During his examination, the Bishop of London asking him what he had to say against nonresidents, he said, " They are odious in the sight of God; because, to the utmost of their power, they deprive the people of the ordinary means of salvation, which is the word preached." When the bishop demanded whether preaching was the only means of salvation, Mr. Penry replied, " It is the only ordinary means." This he endeavoured to confirm, from the following portions of scripture: " How shall they hear without a preacher?—It pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to saveithcm that believe.—In whom also ye trusted, after ye heard the word of truth." Having, for a considerable time, discussed Mr. Penry's assertion, that the word is the only ordinary means of salvation, the Bishop of Winchester arose, and said, " I assure you, my lords, it is an execrable heresy." " An heresy!" replied Mr. Penry, " I thank God that I ever knew that heresy. It is such a heresy, as I will, by the grace of God, sooner leave my life than leave it." The bishop then said, " I tell thee, it is a heresy; and thou shalt recant it as a heresy." " Never," replied Mr. Penry, " God willing, so long as I live." Though his lordship afterwards endeavoured to defend himself against what is here ascribed to him, he seems to have been very unsuccessful.* It also appears, that Whitgift supported his brother of Winchester in his assertion, that Penry's opinion was an execrable heresy, and that he should recant it as such ; adding, " that such heathenish untruth is to be pitied rather than answered."* Mr. Penry was, therefore, committed to prison ; and, after about a month's confinement, was discharged without any further proceeding. But presently after his release, they sent their pursuivants with warrants to apprehend him, and commit him to prison. Walton, one ot their pursuivants, went immediately to Northampton; and upon entering Mr. Penry's house, ransacked his study, and took away all the books and papers which he thought proper; but Mr. Penry was not to be found.t

Upon the publication of Martin Mar-Prelate, and other satirical pamphlets, a special warrant was issued from the council, in 1590, under several hands, of which Whitgift s was one, to seize and apprehend Mr. Penry, as an enemy to

• Slrype's Annals, vol. Hi. p. 573,574. t Strype's Whitgift, p. 306. t MS. Chronology, vol. it. p. 487. (2.)

the state; and that all the queen's good subjects should take him so to be. But Mr. Penry, about the same time, •went into Scotland, not merely for safety from the storm, but as a student in divinity, where he remained till the year 1593. While he was in the north, he made many observations relative to religion, for his own private use; and, at length, prepared the heads of a petition or an address to the queen. This petition was designed to represent to her majesty the true state of religion, and how ignorant she was of the many abuses in the church. Likewise to intercede with her, that he might, by her authority, have liberty to go into Wales, and preach the gospel in his native country, where, indeed, it was much wanted. He intended himself to deliver it to the queen, as he should find opportunity. The heads of the petition, clothed in plain and smart language, were as follows:

" The last days of your reign are turned rather against " Jesus Christ and his gospel, than to the maintenance of " the same.

" I have great cause and complaint, madam; nay, the " Lord and his church have cause to complain of your " government, because we, your subjects, this day, are not 44 permitted to serve our God, under your government, " according to his word, but arc sold to be bondslaves, not u only to our affections, to do what we will, so that we " keep ourselves within the compass of established civil " laws, but also to be servants to the man of sin (the pope) " and his ordinances.

" It is not the force that we seem to fear that will come " upon us, (for the Lord may destroy both you for denying, " and us for slack seeking of his will,) by strangers: I

" come unto you with it. If you will hear it, our cause

45 may be cased; if not, that posterity may know that you " have been dealt with, and that this age may know that " there is no expectation to be looked for at your hands.

" Among the rest of the princes under the gospel, that " have been drawn to oppose it, you must think yourself to " be one; for until you are this, madam, you see not " yourself; and they are but sycophants and flatterers " whoever tell you otherwise: your standing is and has been " by the gospel. It is little beholden to you for any thing " that appears. The practice of your government shews, " that if you could have ruled without the gospel, it would " have been doubtful whether the gospel should be estab" lished or not; for now that you are established in your " throne by the gospel, you suffer it to reach no further than " the end of your sceptre limiteth unto it .

" If we had had Queen Mary'sdays, I think that we should " have had as flourishing a church this day as ever any; " for it is well known that there was then in London, under " the burden, and elsewhere in exile, more flourishing " churches than any now tolerated by your authority.

" Now, whereas we should have your help both to join u ourselves with the true church, and reject the false, and u all the ordinances thereof'; we are in your kingdom per" mitted to do nothing, but accounted seditious, if we " affirm either the one or the other of the former points: " and therefore, madam, you are not so much an adversary " to us poor men, as unto Jesus Christ, and the wealth of " his kingdom.

" If we cannot have your favour, but by omitting our u duty to God, we are unworthy of it; and, by God's " grace, we mean not to purchase it so dear.

" But, madam, thus much we must needs say, that, in all " likelihood, if the days of your sister Queen Mary, and " her persecution, had continued unto this day, that the " church of God in England had been far more flourish" ing than at this day it is: for then, madam, the church " of God within this land, and elsewhere, being strangers, " enjoyed the ordinances of God's holy word, as far as " then they saw.

" But since your majesty came unto your crown, we " have had whole Christ Jesus, God and man; but we K must serve him only in heart.

" And if those days had continued to this time, and those " lights risen therein which by the mercy of God have " since shined in England, it is not to be doubted but the " church of England, even in England, had far surpassed " all the reformed churches in the world.

" Then, madam, any of our brethren durst not have been " seen within the tents of antichrist: now they are ready " to defend them to be the Lord's, and that he has no other " tabernacle upon earth but them. Our brethren then durst " not temporize in the cause of God, because the Lord " ruled himself in his church, by his own laws, in a good '" measure; but now, behold! they may do what they will, " for any sword that the church has to draw against them, " if they contain themselves within your laws.

" This peace, under these conditions, we cannot enjoy; " and therefore, for any thing I can see, Queen Mary's days. " will be set up again, or we must needs temporize. The " whole truth we must not speak; the whole truth we must " not profess. Your state must have a stroke above the "truth of God.

" Now, madam, your majesty may consider what good " the church of God hath taken at your hands, .even " outward peace with the absence of Jesus Christ in hi» " ordinance; otherwise, as great troubles are likely to come " as ever, even in the days of your sister.

" As for the council and clergy, if we bring any such u suit unto them, wc have no other answer but that which " Pharaoh gives to the Lord's messengers, touching the u state of the church under his government.

" For when any are called for this cause before your u council, or the judges of the land, they must take this u for granted, once for all, that the uprightness of their u cause will profit them nothing, if the law of the lsmd u be against them; for your council and judges have so " well profited in religion, that they will not stick to say, " that they come not to consult whether the matter be with " or against the word or not, but their purpose is to take u the penalty of the transgressions against your laws.

" It your council were wise, they would not kindle " your wrath against us; but, madam, if you give ear to K their words, no marvel though you have no better " counsellors."

Though these things contained in Mr. Penry's intended petition, were certainly expressed in rude and offensive language; yet they were onlywrittcn upon a private paper in his own possession ; and how much truth they contained is left with the impartial reader to determine.* Willi this

IK'tition, he, therefore, returned from Scotland, having also lis observations with him. But presently after his arrival in London, he was seized in Stepney parish, by the information of the vicar, in the month of May; and arraigned, condemned, and executed, the very same month!

The charges brought against him were collected from the above petition and private observations. He was indicted upon the statute of 23 L'liz. chap. 2. For seditious words and turners uttered against the queen's most excellent majesty, tending to the stirring up of rebellion among her subjects; and was convideciof felony, May 21, in the KingVbcnch, before the Lord Chief Justice Popham.t

* Strype's Wbiigift, p. 410—412. t Wood's Athene Oxon. Tel. i. p. 839.

During Mr. Penry's confinement, he underwent an examination before the Worshipful Mr. Fanshaw and Justice Young, which was as follows:

Fanshaw. It is strange to me, that you, Mr. Penry, hold snch opinions as none of the learned men of this age, nor any of the martyrs in former times, maintained. Can you shew any writers, either ancient or modern, who have been of your judgment ?

Penry. I hold nothing besides what I will be bound to prove out of the written word of God, and will shew to have been maintained by our holy martyrs, WicklifF, Brute, Purvy, White, Tindal, Lambert, Barnes, Latimer, and others.

F. Do the martyrs then teach you, that there is no church of Christ in England ?

P. If, by a church, you mean that public profession whereby men profess salvation to be had by the death and righteousness of Jesus Christ, I am free from denying that there is a church of Christ in this land.

F. What then do you dislike in our church ? and why will you not partake of these truths and the sacraments with us ?

P. I dislike, 1. The false ecclesiastical officers.—2. The manner of calling those officers.—3. A great part of the works wherein these false olficers are employed.—4. Their maintenance or livings. All of which I will be bound to prove, by the Lord's assistance, to be derived, not from Jesus Christ, but from antichrist. Therefore, as I cannot be partaker of those holy things of God, except under the

Eower of antichrist, and by bearing those marks by which c is known, I am bound to seek the comfort of the word and sacraments where I may have them without submitting to any other ecclesiastical government than that .vhich it derived from Jesus Christ.

F. What officers do you mean ?

P. I mean archbishops, lord bishops, archdeacons, commissaries, chancellors, deans, canons, prebendaries, priests, &c. all of which properly belong to no other body, whether ecclesiastical or civil, but only to the Romish church, where they were first invented, where thcy slill are, and from thence were left in this land when the pope was cast out by her majesty's royal father. The church of Christ, in all its offices, is perfect without them: the state, being a civil community, is perfect without them: heathen idolatry hath them not, and requireth them not. Only the kingdom of antichrist can in no 'wise be whole and entire without them. And if it be not lawful for the members of Christ to be subject to the ceremonies of the Jews, which God himself once appointed, how can it be otherwise than a great sin, to subject ourselves to the appointments, of antichrist, the Lord's great adversary ? The Lord hath not delivered us from the yoke of his own law, that we might be in bondage to the inventions and impositions of antichrist.

F. Would you then have no other offices in the church, now in time of peace and prosperity, than were in the days of the apostles under persecution ?

P. There is certainly great reason we should not. For if the order left to the church by Moses was not to be altered, except by the special command of God ; then may neither man nor angel, except by the same warrant, add any thing to that holy form which the Son of God hath appointed for his own house: As, Heb. iii. 5., Ucv. xxii. 19.

F. I am sure you allow of Luther. What office had he ?

P. He was first a monk, and so a member of the kingdom of antichrist. He was afterwards degraded and deprived. At length, he was, as he called himself, " A preacher of Christ's blessed truth and gospel." And I think he had the pastoral office in the church at Wertemburg ; but whether he had, or had not, his example is no law for the church. It is Jesus Christ alone, whom we must hear and follow. We must walk according to his will and word; and if an angel from heaven would draw us aside, we dare not give ear unto him : As, Gal. i. 8, 9.

F. And what office had you in your church, which meets in woods, and I know not where ?

P. I have no office in that poor congregation. And as to our meeting in woods, or elsewhere, we have the example of Jesus Christ, and his church and servants in all ages, for our warrant. It is against our wills, that we go into woods and secret places. As we arc not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, so our desire is to profess it openly. We are ready, before men and angels, to shew and justify our meetings, and our behaviour in them, earnestly desiring that we may serve God with peace and quietness ; and that all men may witness our upright walking towards our God, and all the world, especially towards our prince and government. We know the meeting in woods, in caves, in mountains, &c. is a part of the cross of the gospel, at which the natural man will easily stumble; but we rejoice to be in this mean estate for the Lord's sacred truth. The question should not so much be, where we meet, as what we do at our meetings; whether our meetings and doings be warranted by the word of God, and what constraineth us to meet in those places.

F. We will speak of your unlawful assemblies afterwards. What calling have you to preach ? Were you never made a minister according to the order of this land ?

P. Had I been willing, I might have been made either deacon or priest; but, I thank the Lord, I ever disliked those popish orders: and, if I had taken them, I would utterly refuse them. I have taught publicly in the church of Scotland, being thereunto earnestly desired, and called by the order of that church. I never had any charge; and, therefore, I never bare any office, either there or in any other church.

F. Did you not preach in these your secret meetings ? What warrant had you so to do, if you never had any public office in your church ?

P. Whether I did or not, I do not at present tell you. But this, I say, that if the same poor congregation* desired to have the use of my small gifts, for edification and consolation, I would, being thereunto prepared, most willingly bestow my poor talent for their mutual edification and mine.

F. And may you teach publicly in the church, having no public office therein ?

P. I may, because I am a member thereof, and requested thereunto by the church, and judged to be, in some measure, endowed with suitable gifts for handling the word of God. The church or body of Christ, ought to have the use of all the gifts that arc in any of its members, and the member cannot deny unto the body the use of those graces with which it is furnished, without breaking the laws and order of the body, and thus become unnatural: As, Rom. xii., 1 Cor. xii.

. * Mr. Penry was a member of tbe church of Brownuts, meeting about London, sometimes in the fields and woods in the dead of the night, to avoid the fury of the prelates. During his confinement in prison, he wrote a most pious, affectionate, and encouraging letter, to Mr. Francis Johnson, the pastor, and the rest of the brethren. It is addressed " To the distressed and faithful Congregation of Christ in London, and all the Members thereof, whether in bonds or at liberty." And he concludes by subscribing himself " Their loving brother, in the patience and sufferings of tbe gospel, John Peskv. A witness of Christ in this life, and a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed."—Examinations of Barrow, Grtenwood, and Pcnry, p. 46—48.

F. Then every one lhat will, may preach the word in your assemblies.

P. Not so. For we hold it unlawful for any man to intermeddle with the Lord's holy truth, beyond the bounds of his gifts; or for him who is endowed wilh gifts, to preach or teach in the church, except he be desired and called thereto by the body of the church.

F. May any person then preach, who hath no office so to do?

P. Yes, that he may; and the word of God bindeth every one to preach who intendelh to become a pastor or teacher in the church of Christ, even before he take upon him this office.

F. What office then hath he all this time ?

P. No other office than the other members of the body have, who arc bound to perform their several operations in the body, according to that measure of grace which they have received from the Lord Jesus. And, indeed, it is a common practice in our colleges and universities, for those to preach who have no office.

F. Yes, it is in the schools.

P. If this exercise, according to your own confession, be warrantable in the schools and colleges, it is certainly much more so in the church and congregation.

F. Well, then, you bear no office in your church. Yo.i will not tell us whether you taught among them; but you say you would if they required you.

P. True.

Fi But how came it to pass that you were not made an officer among them f

P. Doubtless I was desired to take a charge, and to continue among them, but I would not; because I have always purposed to employ my small talent in my poor country of Wales, where, I know, the poor people perish for lack of knowledge.

F. You labour to draw her majesty's subjects from their obedience to her laws, and from the church of England, to hear you, and such as you, teaching in woods.

P. Nay; I persuade all men to obey my prince and her laws. Only I dissuade all the world from yielding obedience and subjection to the ordinances of antichrist, and

Jtersuade them to be subject to Jesus Christ and his aws: I know this to be agreeable to the laws of her majesty.

F. What! Is it meet that subjects should charge their prince to keep covenant with them ? Where do yon find this warranted in scripture ?

P. The subjects are in a most lamentable state, if they may not allege their prince's laws for what they do; yea, and shew what their prince hath promised to the Lord, and to them, when this is done to prove their own innocency. It is the honour of princes, so to hold and be in covenant with their subjects, that they will preserve them from violence and wrong. And I am assured, that, if her majesty knew the equity and uprightness of our cause, we should not receive the hard treatment we now sustain.~ We and our cause are never brought before her, except in the odious names of sedition, rebellion, schism, heresy, &c. It is, therefore, no wonder to sec the edge of the sword turned against us.

F. Hath not her majesty, by her laws, established the offices and order now in the church of England ?

P. I grant her laws have, but of oversight; taking them for the true offices and order of the church of Christ. And because we see this oversight, we therefore fly to her former promise and act, by which she granteth all the privileges of the church of Christ.

I. Why go you about then to pull down bishops?

P. Alas! be it far from us, ever to attempt any such thing. We only put her majesty and state in mind of the wrath of God that is likely to come upon the land, for upholding many popish inventions. We labour for the salvation of our own souls, and all those who will be warned by us, by avoiding all corruptions in religion, and practising, so far as we know, the whole will of God. Further than this, we cannot go; and, therefore, dare not so much as in thought, attempt to alter or pull down any thing established by her laws.

F. Why then do you meet in woods, and such secret and suspicious places, if you purpose no insurrection for pulling down the bishops ?

P. I told you the reason already. Our meetings are for the true worship of God, and there is not so much as one word or thought about bishops in our assemblies, except in praying for them as we do for our own souls. We hold our meetings in secret, because, as I before told you, we cannot have them in public without disturbance. We do not wish to withdraw ourselves from the sight of any creature; but we arc bound to observe the pure worship of God, though it be in woods, in mountains, or in caves.

F. Then you are privy to no practice or intent of any sedition or commotion against her majesty and the state, or for pulling down the bishops ?

P. No, I thank God, I never was. And I protest before heaven and earth, that, if I were, I would disclose and withstand the same, to the utmost of my power, in all cases whatsoever.

Young. But what meant you, Penry, when you told me at my house, that I should live to see the day when there should not be a lord bishop left in England ?

P. You, sir, do me groat injury, but I am content to bear it. I said, " because God hath promised to overthrow and consume the remnants of the kingdom of antichrist, you may live to sec all the ofliccs, callings, livings, and works, belonging to that kingdom, utterly overthrown." This is what I said, and I beseech and charge you, as you shall answer in the day of judgment, not to misreport my speech.

Y. I conceived some great matter of your speech, I tell you.

P. In this you did me the greater wrong. I pray you, hereafter, take my words according to my meaning, and their natural signification.

F. You say, that these offices and livings, derived, according to your conceit, from the body of antichrist, shall be overthrown by the Lord: we would know how this will be accomplished.

P. The work, I am assured, will be accomplished; because the Lord hath said it in his word. But the manner how, and the time when, it shall be done, I leave to him " who worked) all things according to the counsel of his own will," and whose " ways and judgments are past finding out."

F. What you now do, or what you mean to do, in your assemblies, we cannot tell; but this is sure, that the papists seem to take encouragement by your dealing. They are now become very numerous; and they say, that your separation from the churchs is a great stumbling-block to them.

P. What we do in our meetings, and what are our purposes, I have faithfully told you; and we arc ready to approve our purposes and actions to be in all good con'science towards tbe Lord, our prince, and all mankind. And if the number of ignorant and idolatrous priests greatly increase, it is nothing wonderful, seeing there are so many remnants of popery left unbanished from the land: these are their baits and encouragements.

F. What are the baits that you mean ?

P. I mean the popish offices and livings of archbishops, "lord bishops, deans, archdeacons, canons, priests, &c.: the continuance of which, and the popish corruptions belonging to them, keepeth the pope and his sworn subjects in daily hope of replanting the throne of iniquity in the land; but I trust in the Lord, they will be utterly disappointed. If these offices and livings were once removed, the pope and his emissaries would have no hope left, of .again setting up the standard of the man of sin, in this noble kingdom. I wonder not, that the papists dislike our separation; for they know, that of all the men under heaven, we are the greatest enemies to popery: we would leave them neither root nor'branch; but would have the world as much cleared of the remains of antichrist, as it was on that day when the Lord Jesus ascended up on high, and led captivity captive.

F. But why do you refuse a conference, that you may be reformed in those things in which you err ?

P. I refuse none. I most readily and willingly yield to any, as Mr. Young hath it under my own hand to testify, Only my desire and request is, that some equal conditions may be granted to me and my brethren. But if this cannot be obtained, I am ready to yield to any conference, though the conditions be ever so unequal. And 1 beseech you, be a means with her majesty and their honours, that my case may be weighed in an even balance. Imprisonments, indictments and death, are no proper weapons to convince men's consciences.*

Here the examination closed. We leave the reader to make his own remarks upon it, and proceed in the history of this distinguished sufferer for Christ. It was at first designed to indict Mr. Penry for the books published in his name; but, by the advice of counsel, he drew up a paper, which proved the means of putting a stop to the proceeding. This paper, dated May 10, 1593, is entitled " Mr. Penry's Declaration, that he is not in danger of the law for the books published in his name." In this declaration,

* Examinations of Barrow, Greenwood, and Penry, p. 85—28.

he observes, that the statute was not intended to include such as wrote against the ecclesiastical establishment only. For, in this case, it would condemn many of the most learned protestants, both at home and abroad: but that it relates to persons who, shall defame her majesty's royal person. Whereas he had always written most dutifully of her person and government, having never encouraged sedition or insurrection against her majesty, but the contrary. Nor had he ever been at any assembly or conventicle, where any, under or above the number of twelve, were assembled, with force of arms or otherwise, to alter any thing established by law. Nor was it his opinion, that private persons should, of their own authority, attempt any such thing: he had always spoken and written the contrary. Nevertheless, if he had been guilty of all these, he ought to have been accused within one month of the crime, upon the oath of two witnesses, and have been indicted within one year; otherwise the statute clears him, in express words.*

When he came to the trial, the court, being apprehensive that his declaration would occasion an argument at law, set aside his printed books, and indicted and convicted him upon the contents of his petition and private observations, as already observed. This rendered his case still harder, as he himself represented in a letter to the Lord Treasurer Burleigh, with his protestation enclosed, immediately after his condemnation; in which he thus expressed himself:— " Vouchsafe, I beseech your lordship, right honourable, to read, and duly weigh, the enclosed writing. My days, I sec, are drawing to an end, and, I thank God, an undeserved end, except the Lord God stir up your honour, or some other, to plead my cause, and to acquaint her majesty with my guiltless state.

" The cause is most lamentable, that the private obserTations of any student, being in a foreign land, and wishing well to his prince and country, should bring his life with blood to a violent end; especially, seeing they are most private, and so imperfect, that they have no coherence at all in them; and, in most places, are no true English.

41 Though my conscience may stand me in no stead before an earthly tribunal, yet I know that I shall have the reward thereof before the judgment-seat of the great King; and the merciful Lord, who relieves the widow and the

fatherless, will reward my desolate orphans and friendless widow, whom I leave behind me, and even hear their cry, for he is merciful. And being likely to trouble your lordship with no more letters, I do with thankfulness acknowledge your honour's favour towards me, in receiving the writings, which I have presumed to send unto you from time to time; and in this my last, I protest before the Lord God, that, so far as I know, I have Written nothing but the truth.

" Thus preparing myself, not so much for an unjust verdict, and an undeserved doom in this life, as for that blessed crown of glory, which, of the great mercy of my God, is ready for me in heaven, I humbly commit your lordship into the hand of our righteous Lord. In great haste, from close prison, this 22d of the fifth month, May, 1593.

" Your lordship's most humble servant in the Lord,

" John Penry."*

In his protestation, enclosed in the above letter, Mr. Penry declares, " That he wrote the petition and private observations while he was in Scotland. That what lie had written was confused, unfinished, and perfectly secret That it was the sum of certain objections made by others, against her majesty and her government, which he had intended to examine at some future period, but had not so much as looked into them for the last fourteen or fifteen months. And that even in these writings, so imperfect, unfinished, and enclosed within his private study, he had shewn his duty and true loyalty to the queen, nor had he ever the most secret thought to the contrary." Here he also expressed himself as follows :t

" These my writings" (meaning those from which the charges against him were collected) " are not only the most imperfect, but even so private, that no creature under heaven, myself excepted, was privy to them, till they were seized. Mine, I dare not acknowledge them to be, for a thousand worlds; because I should thereby most wickedly sin against God and my own conscience, by bearing false witness against myself. I never conceived that any man would have made any sense of them; especially against myself, by whomsoever they might be intercepted.

" Now that secret, confused, and unadvised observations are brought against me, even to the spilling of my blood;

• Strype's Whitgift, p. 413, 414.

* Sirjrpe't Wbifgift, Appen. p. 175—181.

I humbly crave that these my papers may also be looked upon, and brought to light, as well as the others, by which my adversaries think to impeach my allegiance; 'which, I thank God, neither man nor angel shall ever be able to effect. Though I be condemned as a felon, or as a traitor to my natural sovereign, I thank God, that heaven and earth shall not be able to convict me of it. I remember not the day that, has passed over my head, since, under her

fovernment, I came to the knowledge of the truth, wherein have not commended her estate to God. And I thank God, that whensoever the end of my days comes, and I expect not to live to the end of this week, I shall die Queen Elizabeth's most faithful subject, even in the consciences of mine enemies.

" I never took myself for a rebuker, much less for a reformer of states and kingdoms: far was that from me. Vet, in the discharge of my conscience, all the world must bear with me, if I prefer my testimony to the truth of Jesus Christ before the favour of any creature. The prosperity of my prince and the state, was always most dear to me, as He knoweth, by whom states are preserved and princes bear rule. An enemy to good order and policy, whether in church or commonwealth, I never was. 1 never did any thing in this cause, (Lord ! thou art witness,) for contention, vain-glory, or to draw disciples after me.

" Whatsoever I have written or made known, contrary to the written word, I have warned the world to avoid. My confession of faith, and allegiance to God and the queen, written since my imprisonment, I take, as I shall answer before Jesus Christ and the elect angels, to contain nothing but God's eternal truth. And, therefore, if my blood were an ocean, and every drop were a life to me, I would, by the help of the Lord, give it all in defence of the same. Vet, if any error can be shewn therein, that I will not defend.

" Great things in this life I never sought for. Sufficiency I have had, with great outward trouble; but most content I have been with my lot. And content I am and shall be with my undeserved and untimely death, beseeching the Lord, that it may not be laid to the charge of any person in the land. For I do, from my heart, forgive all those that seek my life, as I desire to be forgiven in the day of strict account; praying for them as for my own soul, that though we cannot accord upon earth, we may meet together in heaven, to our eternal unity and happiness. And if my death can procure any quietness to the church of God, and the state of my prince and kingdom, glad I am that I have a life to bestow in this service. I know not to what better use it could be employed, if it were preserved; and, therefore, in this cause, I desire not to spare it. Thus have I lived towards the Lord and my prince; and, by the grace of God, thus I mean to die. Many such subjects 1 wish unto my prince; though no such reward to any of them. My earnest request is, that her majesty may be acquainted with these things before my death, or, at least, after my departure.

" Subscribed with the heart and hand that never devised or wrote any thing to the discredit or defamation of my sovereign, Queen Elizabeth.

" This I take on my death, as I hope to live hereafter,

" John Penry."

In his excellent Confession of Faith, referred to in the above protestation, Mr. Penry openly declares his religious sentiments, and most warmly avows his loyalty to the queen and government. Though the whole is too long for insertion, we cannot forbear transcribing a part of it, particularly that relating to his allegiance to her majesty. Because this was called in question, he declares, " 1 am not at this day, " nor ever was in all my life, either guilty or privy, in any " purpose, consultation, or intention, of any sedition against, " or disturbance of, her majesty's royal state and govern" ment. And if I were privy unto any such ungodly, undu" tiful, and wicked actions or purposes, as might any way " impair or disturb the peaceable state of my prince and " country, I would reveal, disclose, and withstand the same, " to the utmost of my power, in all persons, foreign and •* domestic, of what profession or religion soever they u might be.

" Her supreme authority, within her realms and <lomi" nions, I acknowledge to be such, over all persons, and in all " causes, as no person, whether civil or ecclesiastical, may " exempt himself or his cause from the power and censure " of her laws and sword. I do also acknowledge, that her " majesty hath full authority from the Lord, to establish " and enact by her royal power, all laws, both ecclesiastical " and civil, among her subjects: in the making of which " laws, the Lord requircth that those which are ecclesiastical " be warranted by his own written word, which contains " whatsoever belongeth to his worship; and those which u are civil are founded on the rules of justice and equity. " This sovereign prerogative and authority of her highness. " I am most willing and ready to defend and maintain, " against all the persons and states under heaven, (o the loss " or my life ten thousand times, if it were required. And u I take the Lord to record, that, to my knowledge, I am " sure that day hath not passed over my head, since the " Lord, under her gracious reign,, hath brought me to the " knowledge of the truth, wherein I have not prayed for the " blessing of God, both external and internal, to be fully u poured forth upon her right excellent majesty's throne, " government, and dominions ; and that he would convert, " or speedily overthrow all his and her enemies, with their u enterprises, whether they be domestic or foreign : hereof I " call the Searcher of hearts in witness of the truth against " my soul, if I either dissemble or forge in these premises."

Alter giving a particular account of his religious opinions, he adds: " Death, I thank God, I fear not. I know that " the sting of death is taken away. And 4 blessed are the " dead that die in the Lord.' Life I desire not, if 1 be u guilty of sedition, or defaming and disturbing her majesty's " quiet and peaceable government. Imprisonments, indict" ments, arraignments, and death, are no meet weapons to " convince the conscience grounded upon God's word.— " Subscribed with heart and hand, by me John Penky, " now in strict bonds for the testimony of Christ."*

Mr. Penry, during his imprisonment, was particularly desirous to obtain a conference in the presence of her majesty and the council. In one of his petitions, addressed to the council, he therefore says, " A conference we are most willing to yield unto. Our humble request unto her majesty and your honours, is, that if it so stand with your pleasure, we may have but this equity yielded unto us:—1. That the questions on both sides be set down in writing, and the reasons briefly annexed to them; that the answers also, with like brevity, be returned in writing, and so every thing will be the more deliberately set down, and all other speeches and matters be avoided.—2. That such of us as are scholars, may confer together (having also the use of books) about the answers and replies that we shall make.—3. That those of the ecclesiastical state, with whom we are to deal, may only be parties in tliis conference, and not judges. And that some of the civil state may be appointed by your honours (if your lordships will not take the hearing of the cause yourselves, which we had rather and earnestly crave,)

* Examinations of Barron', Greenwood, and Penry, p. 39—45.

to tee that both parties do contain themselves within bounds: lest otherwise the holy truth of God should not be so dealt in as becometh'the same; or so holy and necessary an action, should be unprofitably broken up by the infirmities, or other greater wants, of either party."*

This generous proposal, however, was wholly rejected. His wife, Mrs. Helen Penry, at the same time presented a most moving petition to the Lor' Keeper Puckering, for access to her poor distressed husband; but it was attended with no better success.t All Mr. Penry's intercessions, and the intercessions of his friends, proved altogether ineffectual. It was, indeed, never known till this time, that a minister and a scholar was condemned to death for private papers found in his study; nor do I remember, says Mr. Neale, more than one instance since that time, in whose case it was given for law, that to write has been construed an overt act. But it seems Mr. Penry must die, right or wrong. This his enemies appear to have fully determined; and herein their wishes were soon gratified. Archbishop Whitgift was the first man who signed the warrant for his execution, and after him, Puckering and Popham. The warrant was immediately sent to the sheriff, who, the very same day, erected a gallows at St. Thomas Waterings, and, while the prisoner was at dinner, sent his officers to bid him make ready, for he must die that afternoon. Accordingly, he was carried in a cart to the place of execution; and when he came there, was not allowed to speak to the people, nor to make any profession of his faith towards God, or his loyalty to the queen; but was hastily turned off, about five o'clock in the afternoon, May 29, 1593, in the thirty-fourth year of his age. } He left a widow and four poor children, the eldest of which was not more than four years old, to feel and bemoan the painful loss.

In the preface to Mr. Penry's " History of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram," published after his death, it is said, * That Mr. John Penry was a godly, learned, and zealous man, and of a christian carriage and courage. That he was born and bred in the mountains in Wales ; and, with all godly care and labour, endeavoured to have the gospel preached among his countrymen, whose case he greatly seemed to pity, wanting all the ordinary means of salvation. That, being used by God for a special instrument in the manifestation of his truth, he was hardly used, imprisoned,

condemned, ond executed; and so suffered martyrdom for' the name of Christ. And more particularly, that he was' adjudged by Sir John Popham, and the rest of the judges, on the 25th of the fifth month, and executed at St. Thomas Waterings, near London, the 29th of the same, in the year 1593. That he was not brought to execution immediately, as most persons expected; but, when they least looked for it, he was taken while he was at dinner, and carried secretly lo his execution, and hastily bereaved of his life, without being suffered to make a declaration of his faith towards God, or his allegiance to the queen, though he very much desired it." And in the postscript, it is added, " That he was apprehended, adjudged, and executed for writing the truth of Christ, whatever other things were pretended against him."» He was undoubledly a man of great learning and piety; but these excellent qualifications could make no atonement to the prelates for his zeal in the cause of nonconformity, and for expressing his disapprobation of the constitution and corruptions of the established church. " By his death, with the condemnation of John Udal and Henry Barrow," says the Oxford historian, " the neck of the plots of the fiery nonconformists was broken, and their brags were turned into prayers and tears, as the only means for christian subjects."t Another author of the same spirit, says, " The pressing of the law thus close, struck terror into the party, and made the dissenters of all sorts, less enterprizing against the government."{ These, surely, arc pitiful triumphs among professed protestants!

Mr. Penry was author of several learned pieces on controversy, particularly against Dr. Some. In one of them he endeavours to prove " that there is no church at all in popery, and that all popish priests are out of the church," by a direct appeal to the conduct of nil protestants in their separation from the church of Rome. " If there be' a church in popery, or if all popish priests be not out of the church," says he, " then those magistrates and their subjects who have separated from the liomish religion, to say the least, are schismatics. It is schism to make this separation from the church. Wc may detest the corruptions thereof; but we ought not to make such separation from the church, unless we would be accounted schismatics. But those magistrates and their people who made this separation

• Heylio's Hilt, of Pres. p. 325, 326.
+ Wood's Athens Oxon. vol. i. p. 229.
% Collier's Eccl. Hist. vol. ii. p. 640.

are not schismatics. Therefore the foundation of popery is overthrown, and consequently there is no church in popery." To prove that ministers who do not preach, are not ministers, he reasons thus:—" They arc no ministers," says he, " because their ministry is evil and profane; and their ministry is evil and profane, because there is no mention made of it in the word. A ministry not mentioned in the word, is no ministry, but a profane constitution. The Lord hath expressly set down every ministry of the New Testament, that should be in the church unto the world's end. But he hath not once mentioned the ministry of mere readers; because it is not a preaching ministry, and therefore no ministry at all."*

Dr. Some, it is said, wrote with great vehemence against him. According to my author, " fie called this worthy man, proud Penry. Penry had a dignity to which Some was a stranger. His dignity stood in a superior habit of thinking: Some's in gown, title, and bluster. Some wrote like a man who meant to bring Penry into hemp, and himself into lawn."t

Mr. Penry felt deeply concerned for the conversion and salvation of his countrymen; on which account he was anxiously desirous to have a learned ministry in Wales. His laudable desires and endeavours to promote this great object, are applauded even by Dr. Some, his great antagonist.f He is supposed to have been the first, since the commencement of the reformation, who preached the gospel in Wales. Some suppose that he laboured in the ministry chiefly in his native country, and that he went thither upon his leaving the university. This, however, appears very improbable. Mr. Thomas intimates, that he was probably the first, since the reformation, who openly and publicly preached adult baptism. " And," says he, " I am inclined to think, that he was the first who administered that ordinance by immersion, and upon a profession of faith, in and about Olchon, in the principality."^ Though Wood denominates him a notorious anabaptist, it does not appear from his Confession of Faith, or from any other source of information we have met with, that he ever espoused the sentiments of the baptists. Nevertheless, if what the writer above cited observes, be correct, Mr. Penry was of the

* Some's Defence, p. 175, 183. Edit. 1588.
t Life of Ainswortb, p. 68.
t Some's Godly Treatise, p. 33. Edit. 1588.
S Thomas'i MS. History, p. 43.

denomination of particular baptists. Mr. Strype writes of

great injustice and falsehood, says, " He was a man so much guilty of his own villanies, that, with Cain, he feared death from every man's hand; and, therefore, was forced to skulk and ramble amongst his friends for protection."t These accounts of so learned, laborious, and pious a man, remind us of the case of some of the primitive christians, who, being dressed in bears' skins, were cast among wild beasts to be torn in pieces. Mr. Penry was the author of several learned works; but it was never proved that be had any hand in the writings under the title of Martin Mar-Prelate. Though most of the high churchmen ascribe them to him and several others, it is well known the real authors were never found out; consequently, the charge is without foundation. The following is supposed to be a correct list of his writings, though we dare not warrant them all to have been his.

His Works.—1. A Treatise containing the Equity of an Humble Supplication which is to be exhibited unto her Gracious Majesty and this High Court of Parliament, in the behalf of the Country of Wales, that some Order may be taken for the Preaching of the Gospel among those People, 1587.—2. A View of some part of such Public Wants and Disorders as are in the Service of God, within her Majesty's Country of Wales; with an Humble Petition to the High Court of Parliament for their speedy Redress, 1588.—3. A. Defence' of that which hath been written in the Questions of the Ignorant Ministry, and the Communicating with them, 1588.—4. Exhortation unto the Governors and People of her Majesty's Country of Wales, to labour earnestly to have the Preaching of the Gospel planted among them, 1588.—'5. Dialogue; wherein is plainly laid open the Tyrannical Dealing: f the Lords Bishops against God's Children, 1589.—6. Treatise, wherein is manifestly proved, that Reformation, and those that sincerely favour the same, are unjustly charged to be Enemies to her Majesty and the State, 1590.—7. The State of the Church of England.—8. Petition of Peace.—9. His Apology.—10. Of public Ministry.—11. History of Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, ' applied to the Prelacy, Ministry, and Church-Assemblies of England, 1609.