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Robert Parker

Robert Parker.—This learned and celebrated puritan became rector of North-Benflete in Essex, in the year 1571; but, resigning the benefice the year following, he became rector of West-Henningfield, in the same county, which he held several ycars.++ Afterwards he became pastor of the church at Dedham, in the same county, where he was predecessor to the famous Mr. John Rogers. He was suspended by Bishop Aylmer, for refusing subscription to Whitgift's three articles. Being afterwards, by some means, restored to his ministry, a day was appointed when he should be deprived, if he still persisted in refusing to wear the surplice; when he most probably received the ecclesiastical censure.}} Having endured these troubles, he left the county, and was afterwards beneficed at Wilton in Wiltshire, where he continued many years.

In the year 1598, Bishop Bilson having published to the

* Fuller'! Worthies, part li. p. 89. + Neal's Puritans, vol. i. p. 423.

I Mr. Dyke's" Deceitfulness of the Heart," Dedica. Edit. 1633.

\ Athens) Oxon. vol. i. p. 783. [ Discourse on Preaching, p. 83,83.

t Worthies, part ii. p. 29.

•* Williams's Christian Preacher, p. 454.

+t Newcourt's Repert. Eccl. vol. ii. p. 46, 310.

II MS. Register, p. 584, 741.

world that Jesus Christ, after his death upon the cross, actually descended into the regions of the damned; many learned divines undertook a refutation of his opinion, and to establish the contrary sentiment. Among these was Mr. Parker, who published a learned piece, entitled, " De descensu Christ! ad Infernos." In the year 1607 he published a Treatise on the Cross in Baptism, entitled, " A Scholasticall Discourse against Symbolizing with Antichrist in Ceremonies, especially the Signe of the Crosse." Dr. Grey is pleased to treat Mr. Pcirce and Mr. Neal with considerable ridicule for calling it a very learned work, and the author himself with much contempt, because he was obliged to leave the country for publishing that which in his opinion' contains things very scandalous and offensive.* That the work contains things very scandalous, except to those who' tyrannize over the consciences of their brethren, was never yet proved; but that it contains things very offensive to all who persecute their brethren for refusing to observe their antichristian impositions, was never doubted. The celebrated Dr. Ames says, " It is a work, in truth, of such strength and beauty, that it dazzles the eyes even of envy itself."t The learned prelates would, indeed, have done their cause no harm, if, when it was published, or at any future period, they had shewn themselves able to answer it. But they went a shorter way to work; and, instead of attempting any answer, they persuaded the king to issue his royal proclamation, with the offer of a reward, for apprehending the author, which obliged him to hide himself for a season, and then retire into a foreign land.

These troubles came upon him chiefly by the instigation of Archbishop Bancroft; who receiving information that he was concealed in a certain citizen's house in London, immediately sent a person to watch the house, while others were prepared with a warrant to search for him. The person having fixed himself at the door, boasted that he had him now secure. Mr. Parker, at this juncture, resolved to dress himself in the habit of a citizen, and venture out, whereby he might possibly escape; but if he remained in the house he would be sure to be taken. Accordingly, in his strange garb he went forth ; and God so ordered it, that just at the moment of his going out, the watchman at the door spied his intended bride passing on the other side the street; and while he just stepped over to speak to her,

• Grey's Examination, vol. i. p. 50. t Ames's Fresh Suit, Pref.

the good man escaped. When the officers came with the warrant to search the house, to their great mortification he could not be found.*

After this signal providential deliverance, he retired to the house of a friend in the neighbourhood of London, where a treacherous servant in the family gave information to the bishop's officers, who came and actually searched the house where he was; but, by the special providence of God, he was again most remarkably preserved. For the only room in the house which they neglected to search, was that in which he was concealed, from whence he heard them swearing and quarrelling one with another; one protesting that they had not searched that room, and another as confidently asserting the contrary, and refusing to suffer it to be searched again. Had he been taken, he must have been cast into prison; where, without doubt, says our author, he must have died.t

Mr. Parker having been favoured with these remarkable interpositions of providence, fled from the storm and went to Holland, and would have been chosen pastor to the English church at Amsterdam, had not the magistrates been afraid of disobliging King James. For the burgomasters of the city informed them, " that, as they desired to keep friendship with his majesty of Great Britain, they should put a stop to that business."* His settlement at Amsterdam being thus prevented, he went to Doesburg, and became preacher to the garrison; where, about eight months after his removal, he died, in the year 16144 During his short abode at Doesburg, he wrote several very affectionate letters to Mr. John Paget, minister at Amsterdam; in which he discovers a becoming resignation to the will of God, saying, " I thank you for the pains you have taken for me, though without success; at which 1 am not dismayed, nor at all moved. I am assured it is come to pass by the will of the Lord; who, I know, will be my God, as well out of Amsterdam as in it. "|| Mr. Parker was an able writer, a man of great learning and piety, a judicious, faithful, and laborious preacher.l

In addition to the work already noticed, Mr. Parker was author of " Dc Politia Ecclesiastica;" in which he main

» Clark's Lives, last vol. part i. p. 22,23.

t Peirce's Vindication, part i. p. 110, 171.

$ Paget'* Aos. to Best and Davenport, p. 27.

i, Paget's Defence of Church Got. Pref. I Ibid.

I Clark's Lives, part i. p. 22.—Ames's Fresh Suit, Pref.

tains, that whatever relates to the church of Christ, must be deduced from scripture. " We deny no authority to the king in matters ecclesiastical," says he, "but only that which Jesus Christ, the only head of the church, hath directly and precisely appropriated unto himself, and hath denied to communicate to any creature or creatures in the world. We hold that Christ alone is the doctor or teacher of the church in matters of religion; and that the word of Christ, which he hath given to his church, is of absolute perfection, containing all parts of true religion, both for substance and ceremony, and a perfect direction in all ecclesiastical matters whatsoever, unto which it is not lawful for any man or angel to add, or from which to detract."*

Mr. John Paget of Amsterdam, who was well acquainted with him, gives the following account of his views of church government: " When he came from Leyden, where he and Mr. Jacob had sojourned together for some time, he professed at his first coming to Amsterdam, that the use of synods was for counsel and advice only, but bad no authority to give a definitive sentence. After much conference with him, when he had more seriously and maturely considered this question, he plainly changed his opinion, as he professed, not only to me, but to others: so that some of Mr. Jacob's opinion were offended at him, and expostulated not only with him, but also with me, for having occasioned the alteration of his judgment. I had the means of understanding his mind aright, and better than those who pervert his meaning, since he was not only a member of the same church, but a member of the same family, and lived with me under the same roof; where we had daily conversation of these things, even at the time when Mr. Jacob published his unsound writing upon this question. He was afterwards a member of the same eldership, and, by office, sat with us daily to hear and judge the causes of our church, and so became a member of our classical combination; yet did he never testify against the undue power of the classis, or complain that we were not a free people, though the classis exercised the same authority then as it doth now. He was also for a time the scribe of our consistory, and the acts of our eldership and church were recorded by his own hand."t

Mr. Thomas Parker, another excellent puritan, of whom a memoir will be given, was his son.

• TrooghtoD's Apology, p. 89, 90. Edit. 1681. t Paget'* Defence, p. 105.