Lawrence Snelling was many years the learned and pious rector of Paul's-Cray in Kent; but experienced most cruel usage in the high commission court, chiefly for refusing to read the " Declaration for Sports on the Lord's day." He was brought before his ecclesiastical judges at Lambeth, when he pleaded in his own defence the law of God and the realm, the authority of councils, fathers, and all modern writers. He also pleaded " that the declaration itself did
• Ru!hworth's Collec. vol. v. p. 58,148,143.
+ Prjnne's Cant. Doome, p. 387.
f Wilson's Hist, of Dissenting Churches, vol. i. p. 403.
not appear to be his majesty's, though published in his name, because not enrolled in any court, nor published under the great seal, as were all proclamations and briefs to be read in churches: that there was no command from the king that it should be read in the churches by any particular persons, much less by ministers; nor any punishment threatened nor prescribed for not reading it;» nor any authority given to archbishops, bishops, high commissioners, or any other persons, to question, suspend, or punish any minister for refusing so to do; and being merely a civil, not an ecclesiastical declaration, nor enjoined by any ecclesiastical canon or authority, but that which is only civil, no ecclesiastical judges could take cognizance of it, much less inflict any ecclesiastical censure for not observing it." These things he affirmed and maintained in his own defence before the high commission, when Archbishop Laud, now at the head of tltc commission, commanded that his defence should not be accepted, and declared in open court, " That whosoever should make such a defence as he had done, it should be burnt before his face, and he laid by the heels for his pains." Upon this manifesto from the arbitrary prelate, the commissioners expunged as much of his defence as they pleased; and December 11, 1634, he was personally and judicially admonished to read the declaration within three weeks; but, refusing to observe the admonition, he was suspended from both his office and benefice. In the month of April, 1635, he was admonished a second time, and still refusing to comply, he was excommunicated. He was also charged " with having, at divers times, omitted to read some parts of the public service, to wear the surplice, and to bow his body, or make any corporal obeisance, at hearing or reading the name of Jesus." He was therefore told, that if he did not read the Declaration for Sports, and conform himself in all other points, before the second day of next term, he should suffer deprivation. For refusing to do which he was accordingly deprived.t In addition to the above cruelties, he was cast into prison; and so continued suspended, excommunicated, deprived, and imprisoned many years, to his unspeakable injury. November 16,
• Mr. Snelling having observed that there was no penally mentioned in the Book of Sports, Archbishop Laud, in his own defence, at his trial, boldly asserted, " I say then his obedience, and other men's, should have been the more free and cheerful."—Wbarton's Troubles of Laud, vol. i. p. 345.
+ Prynne's Cant. Doome, p. 150, 151.—Rushworth's Collec. vol. ii. p. 459-461.
1640, having been often brought before the kingVbench, but still a prisoner for his nonconformity, he presented his
Eetition to the parliament~for relief; when he was most proibly released.* In the year 1644 Mr. Snelling appeared as witness against the archbishop at his trial;+ but when he died we are unable to ascertain.