Try out the new BibleStudyTools.com. Click here!

Richard Sedgwick

Richard Sedgwick.—This eminent minister was born at East Dereham in Norfolk, in the year 1574, and educated in Peter-house, Cambridge. It does not appear whether he was any relation to Mr. John Sedgwick, a memoir of

whom is' given in the preceding article. His father, a respectable clothier, suffering great losses by fire, became reduced in his circumstances. He had an uncle in Yorkshire, who, possessing large estates, and having no children, took him in his tender years under his care, gave him a good school education, and intended to make him his heir: but God designed to give him a better portion. His uncle and the rest of the family were much addicted to profaneness; yet in this situation God in mercy awakened him to a serious concern for his soul. While the other branches of the family were engaged in their profane sports, young Sedgwick was oftentimes mourning over their sins before the Lord in private. His uncle at first thought that he retired only on account of his uncommon fondness for books; and therefore gave him occasionally a gentle rebuke, urging him to use greater liberty. But at length, perceiving that his nephew was become seriously thoughtful about religion, and that he retired for the purpose of private devotion, he treated him very roughly; and finding that he could not by any threatenings constrain him to renounce his religion, he cast him out of bis family, saying, 4« A puritan shall never inherit my land."

Young Sedgwick, being rejected by his uncle, returned to his mother, who sent him to the university, where he distinguished himself in all kinds of useful learning. After finishing his studies, he entered upon the ministerial function, and settled at some place in Kent. While in this situation, he was called to preach occasionally in the cathedral of Canterbury ; and exposing the manifold corruptions of the cathedral worship, he incurred the displeasure of the ruling ecclesiastics; on account of which he was required to make a public recantation, and a day was appointed for the purpose. During the interval he derived unspeakable encouragement from these words, " Wiatsoever I command thee, thou shall speak: be not afraid of their faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord?' and resolved that he would not recant, but abide by the truth which he had already delivered, whatever it might cost him. At the time appointed, he preached again at the cathedral, to a very large assembly, all expecting to hear a debasing recantation; but, to the great mortification of his malicious persecutors, instead of a recantation, he laboured, with all his learning and abilities, to confirm what he had before advanced, warmly recommending the

ecclesiastics to reform their abuses.

offended his enemies, that they immediately complained of him to the archbishop, and to escape the. storm he was obliged to leave the place.*

Mr. Sedgwick escaped the snare of his enemies, and was entertained for some time by Sir Edward Bois, a man of distinguished piety, and a great friend to the persecuted puritans. Afterwards he became domestic chaplain to Sir Edward Anslaw, at Crawley in Surrey, where he preached twice every Lord's day. Sir Edward was a pious and worthy person, and his house was a constant asylum for the persecuted puritans. Upon the removal of this excellent family, Mr. Sedgwick became assistant to the venerable Dr. Wyburn, minister of Batlcrsea in the above county. He had not continued long in this situation before fresh snares were laid for him. As a zealous and faithful servant of Christ, he reproved sin with great boldness, and spoke against the corruptions of the church with some degree of freedom; for which he was cited before the high commission, to answer the several charges exhibited against him. He appeared before his ecclesiastical judges according to appointment, and resolved to defend the truth whatever it might cost him; but, to his great surprise, he was treated with civility, and honourably acquitted. This was towards the close of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.+

Mr. Sedgwick afterwards leaving his native country, became minister to the English merchants at Hamburgh, where he happily introduced a purer church discipline, and the Lord abundantly blessed his labours. During his abode at Hamburgh, though he was zealous for the discipline of the New Testament, it appears that he was no bigot; but joined in communion with the Dutch churches, and admitted them to the Lord's table in the church of which he was pastor. The merchants presently found the benefit of his ministry, in the orderly and christian deportment of those whom they employed. Nevertheless, in this situation he was not without his enemies. Certain persons, extreme bigots to episcopacy, threatened to have him brought to England, and prosecuted for nonconformity; but while this was in agitation, God summoned his principal adversary before another tribunal. He continued a successful labourer in the Lord's vineyard about twelve years; and upon the dissolution of the company of merchants, he returned to England; after which he preached some time at Monmouth. In the year

* Clark's Lives annexed to bis Martyrolocie, p. 157. t Ibid. p. 158.

1617, a new chapel having been erected in Wapping, London, he was chosen minister, and there continued to the day of his death.

His life and conversation, says Mr. Clark, were holy and exemplary, and his labours abundant. His ministry was close, searching, and useful. His deportment was affable and courteous, yet grave and venerable. He was much given to acts of charity; and he allowed a certain sum annually towards the support of suspended ministers. He constantly exercised a most tender care over the people of his charge, especially during the raging of the plague. Instead of forsaking the flock when danger approached, he still continued to attend upon his numerous duties, labouring to do them all the good in his power. Nor were his diligence and faithfulness unrewarded. For though all the families around him were infected, and multitudes swept away by death, the dreadful malady never invaded his habitation. At length, having fought the good fight, having finished bis course, and kept the faith, he was called to receive the crown of righteousness, in the year of our Lord 1643, aged sixty-nine years.*