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Stephen Egerton

Stephen Egerton, A. M.—-This excellent divine was incorporated in both universities, and alterwards for many years the learned, zealous, and faithful minister of Blackfriars, London. He was a thorough nonconformist, a zealous promoter of a further reformation of the church, and nn avowed advocate lor the presbytcrinn discipline. He wns a member of the presbytery erected at Wandsworth in Surrey, and frequently united with his brethren in their associations, when he was commonly chosen to the office of moderator.

In the year 1584, he and Mr. John Field were suspended for refusing subscription to Whitgift's three articles. After receiving the censure of this tyrannical prelate, they assigned their reasons for not subscribing to the second article, viz. " That the Book of Common Prayer, and the Book of Ordination, containeth in it nothing contrary to the word of God."—" We cannot subscribe to this article," say they, " because the book alloweth a mere reading and insufficient ministry; and, what is still more intolerable, it containeth many things tending to harden obstinate papists, and to encourage ignorance and superstition among the common people. All this is apparent, seeing most of the things contained in the book are translated out of the popish portuis, with little or no alteration. We cannot consent that certain parts of the apocrypha should be used in public worship, and some parts of scripture omitted. In the burial of the dead, every wicked man must be committed to the ground in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life. The book maketh confirmation, the cross in baptism, and matrimony, to be sacraments. In one of the collects, it is said, 4Give us those things which we dare not ask.' The book maintained the offices of archbishops, bishops, &c. as being different from that of ministers." In addition to these, they assign many other reasons.*

It does not appear how long Mr. Egerton remained under the above ecclesiastical censure. We find, however, that about this time he united with his brethren in subscribing the " Book of Discipline."t In the year 1590, during the imprisonment of Mr. Barrow and Mr. Greenwood, our pious divine and other puritan ministers were sent by the Bishop of London to confer with them. Though he was deemed unworthy of the public ministry, the persecuting

* MS. Register, p. 460—463.
t Neal's Puritans, vol. i. p. 423.

VOL. II. V

prelates accounted him sufficiently qualified to hold a con' ference with those whom they stigmatized schismatics and heretics. Mr. Egerton exchanged several letters with the suffering prisoners, one of which was dated April 14, 1590. The rest were written about the same time.* In this year he was still under suspension; having suffered the cruel censure, no doubt, for the space of six years. Nor was this all. For, during the same year, he was summoned, with many of his brethren, before the high commission, and committed to the Fleet, where for several years he suffered the extremity of the prison. An account of these barbarous proceedings is given in another place.+

Mr. Egerton, having at length obtained his release, became minister of Blackfriars in the year 1598, where he continued many years.} The celebrated Dr. Nowell, dean of St. Paul's, in a letter which he wrote during this year, denominates him " a man of great learning and godliness."^ Upon the accession of King James, numerous petitions were presented to his majesty for a further reformation of the church. In the year 1603, when that which was called " The Millenary Petition," subscribed by upwards of a thousand ministers, was presented to the king and parliament, none were deemed so well qualified to undertake this business as Mr. Egerton and Mr. Hildersham, with some other eminent divincs.|| Mr. Egerton died about the year 1621, and was succeeded at Blackfriars by the famous Dr. William Gouge, who appears to have been for some time his assistant. These two eminently faithful servants of Christ spent about seventy years in their ministerial labours at Blackfriars.!

His Works.—t. A Lecture on Gen. xii. 17—20., 1589.—2. A brief Method of Catechizing, 1594.—3. The Doctrine of Subjection to God and the King, 1616.—4. The Boring of the Ear, 1623.— 5. Comforts to strengthen the Weak in Faith, 1630.—6. A Description of Uncomeliness.—He published an enlarged edition of Mr. Paul Baincs's " Help to True Happiness;" and wrote an Epistle to Mr. Richard Rogers's " Seven Treatises," 1604.

* MS. Remarks, p. 425.

t See Art. Cartnright.

t Newcourt's Rtpcrt. Eccl. vol. i. p. 915.

S Bios. Briton, vol. v. p. 3259. Edit. I747.

0 Fuller's Church Hist. b. ix. p. 7.

5 Jenkins on Judc, Pref. . .