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William Bradshaw

William Bradshaw, A. M.—This excellent divine, descended from the ancient family of Bradshaws in Lancashire, was born at Market-Bosworth in Leicestershire, in the year 1571, and educated in Emanuel college, Cambridge. Having taken his degrees, he went, by the recommendation of Dr. Chadderton, to Guernsey, where he became tutor to the children of Sir Thomas Leighton, governor of the island. In this situation he formed an intimate acquaintance with Mr. Thomas Cartwright, which death alone could dissolve. During Mr. Bradshaw's abode at Guernsey, he maintained an unblemished character, and discovered great piety, industry, and faithfulness in his official situation. Upon his return to England, on his way to Cambridge, he very narrowly escaped being drowned. He was chosen fellow of Sidney college, then newly erected. Here he discovered much prudence and piety, and was highly respected. He

* Clark's Example;, p. 72. Edit. 1671.

was of so amiable a disposition, (hat his Tot enemies were constrained to speak well of him. Upon his settlement at Cambridge, he entered into the ministerial office, when be was not particularly urged to observe those things which he scrupled. He preached occasionally at Abington, Bassingbom, and Steeple-Morion, near Cambridge; but did not settle at any of these places.

In the year 1601, having received a pressing invitation from the people of Chatham in Kent, he became their pastor. In this situation, to his own great comfort, and that of the people, his labours were soon made a blessing to many. Multitudes nocked to hear the word at his mouth, which presently awakened the jealousy and envy of other ministers. It was deemed advisable now to obtain his confirmation from the Archbishop of Canterbury ; and to this end, Sir Francis Hastings wrote a most pious and modest letter to his lordship.* At this particular juncture, Mr. Bradshaw's enemies falsely accused him to the archbishop, of preaching unsound doctrine; therefore, instead of obtaining his confirmation, he received a citation from Dr. Buckridge, dated May 26, 1602, to appear by nine o'clock the next morning, before his grace of Canterbury, and his lordship of London, at Shorne, a small distance from Chatham. Mr. Bradshaw appearing at the time and place appointed, the Bishop of London, after asking certain questions, charged him with having taught, " That man is not bound to love God, unless he be sure that God loves him." Mr. Bradshaw denied the charge; and though he offered to produce numerous respectable witnesses in refutation of it, and to prove what he had taught, the offer was rejected. But, to finish the business, and strike him at once dumb, he was required to subscribe; and because he could not, with a good conscience, he was immediately suspended, bound to appear again when called, and then dismissed. +

His unexpected suspension and expulsion from Chatham, caused the friends of Christ to mourn, and his enemies to triumph. His numerous flock, having sat under his ministry with great delight, were peculiarly anxious to have him restored. A supplication was, therefore, drawn up in the name of the parishioners of Chatham, and presented to the Bishop of Rochester, earnestly desiring the restoration

* This excellent tetter, dated April 85, 1602, in which Sir Francis fires high commendations of Mr. Bradshaw's character, is still preserved.— Clark'• Liven annexed to hit USartyrologie, p. 37.

+ Ibid. p. 25-44.

of their silenced pastor. In this supplication, after exposing the false charges of his adversaries, they declare, " That Mr. Bradshaw s doctrine was always sound, holy, learned, and utterly void of faction and contention; that his life was so ornamented with unblemished virtues, that malice itself could not condemn him; and that he directed all his labours to beat down wickedness, to comfort the faithful, and to instruct the ignorant, without meddling with the needless controversies of the day." They conclude by humbly entreating his lordship's favour, that he would be the happy means of restoring to them their virtuous and faithful shepherd.* But the decree of the bishop and archbishop, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, was gone forth; these intercessions were, therefore, ineffectual. The meek and pious divine quietly yielded to be driven from his ministry and his flock.

During these apparently cross dispensations, God, who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, was providing for Mr. Bradshaw a place of rest. Being torn from his beloved and affectionate people, by treachery and episcopal power, he found a comfortable retreat under the hospitable roof of Mr. Alexander Redich, of Newhall, near Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire. This pious and worthy gentleman not only received him into his house, but procured him a license from the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, to preach in any part of his diocese: this favour was continued as long as the bishop lived. In this retired situation, Mr. Bradshaw preached for some time at the chapel in the park; then, when that became too small, in the parish church of Stapenhill. This he did for about twelve years, receiving nothing from the parish. During the whole of this period, he was supported by his worthy patron, in whose family he lived, and was treated with the utmost kindness. Mr. Bradshaw was afterwards chosen lecturer of Christ's church, London; but the bishop absolutely refused his allowance.

Conformity being now enforced with great rigour, several worthy divines ventured to set forth their grievances, their exceptions, and the grounds of their dissent, and to answer / the arguments of their opponents. Among these was Mr. ' Bradshaw, who published his Reply to Dr. Bilsont andJSr.

• Clark't Lives annexed to bis Martyrologie, p. 49. + Dr. Bilson's celebrated work in defence of the national church, Is I entitled, " The perpetual1 Government of Christei Church: Wherein 'are handled, The fatherly supcrioritie which God firsT established in the

Dgwnhjtm, two notable champions for episcopacy., and the ceremonies^ The puritans being treated with great severity,"and" stigmatized as fanatics, schismatics, and enemies both to God and the king; Mr. Bradshaw, to remove these slanders, and to give the 'world a correct stoternentZoT~their principles, published his " English^ y Puritanism, containing the main Opinions of the rigidest sortTDT those that are called Puritans in the realm of England." In this excellent performance, to which the learned Dr. Ames wrote a preface, and translated it into Latin, for the benefit of foreigners, it is observed, " That the puritans maintain the absolute perfection of the holy scriptures, both as to faith and worship; and that whatever is required as a part of divine service, which cannot be warranted by the word of God, is unlawful." This is the broad basis on which they founded their opinions and practice; and in correspondence with this generous sentiment, they further maintained, " That the pastors of particular congregations arc the highest spiritual officers in the church of Christ, over whom there is, by divine ordinance, no superior pastor, excepting Jesus Christ alone.—That they arc led by the spirit of untichrist, who arrogate to themselves to be pastors of pastors.—That every particular church hath power to elect its own officers, and to censure its own members.— That, to force a congregation to support a person as their pastor, who is either unable or unwilling to instruct them, is as great an injury as to force a man to maintain as his wife, one who refuseth to perform the duties of a wife," &c.»

All books published in defence of the puritans were, indeed, accounted dangerous both to church and state; and when they came forth, the most diligent search was made for them, as well as for their authors. Therefore, Mr. Bradshaw being in London, two pursuivants were sent to his lodgings to apprehend him, and to search for suspected books. When the pursuivants came, he was not to be found; and, not more than half an hour before their arrival, his wife, to prevent danger, had taken a quantity of those

/ Patriarkes for the guiding of his church, and after continued in the tribe of ( Levi and the Prophetes: and lastlie confirmed in the New Testament to the \ Apostles and their Successors : as also the points in question at this day, \ touching the Jewish Synedrion; the true Kingdome of Christ; the i Apostles Commission; the Laie Presbyterie; the Distinction of Bishops and V

Presbyters, and their succession from the Apostles times and hands:" &e.

1593. This, it is said, is one of the best books written in favour of

episcopacy.—Biog. Britan. vol. ii. p. 310. Edit. 1778. * English Puritanism, p. 36—42. Edit. 1660.

books out of his study, and cast them into a hole between two chimnies: and though they broke open chests, trunks, and boxes, and searched every corner in the house they could think of, the books remained undiscovered. Nevertheless, they carried Mrs. Bradshaw before the high commission, where she underwent a severe examination, with an evident design to make her betray her husband; but their purpose having utterly failed, after binding her to appear when called, she was dismissed.*

In the year 1617, Mr. Bradshaw returning from a journey, the bishop's chancellor welcomed him home with a suspension from preaching any more, without his further allowance. But, by the mediation of a worthy friend, the chancellor soon became satisfied; took off his restraint; and the good man went forwards in the peaceable exercise of his ministry. Besides preaching constantly at Stapenhill, this learned divine united with his brethren in their associations at Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Rcpton, and Burton-uponTrent . On these occasions, besides public preaching, for the benefit of the respective congregations, they had private religious conference among themselves. For their mutual advantage, they proposed subjects for discussion ; when Mr. Bradshaw is said to have discovered a depth of judgment, and a power of balancing points of controversy, superior to the rest of his brethren. On account of his great abilities, he was commonly styled the weighing divine. He was well grounded in the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, and well studied in the points about subscription, the ceremonies, the civil power, and the authority of the prelates; yet he was an enemy to separation.t

Mr. Bradshaw, in his last sickness, had very humiliating views of himself, and exalted views of God and the power of bis grace. He exhorted those about him, to learn to die before death approached;. and to lay a foundation in time of life and health, that would afford them comfort in time of sickness and death. At Chelsea, near London, he was seized with a malignant fever, which baffled all the power of medicine, and soon terminated his mortal existence. He died in pence, and in great satisfaction with his nonconformity, in the year 1618, aged forty-seven yrars: his remains were interred at Chelsea, and most of the ministers about the city attended the funeral solemnity. His funeral sermon

was preached by his worthy friend Mr. Thomas Gataker, who gave him the following character: " He was studious, humble, upright, affectionate, liberal, and compassionate. He possessed a sharp wit, a clear apprehension, a sound judgment, an exact method, a powerful delivery, and a singular dexterity in clearing up intricate debates, discovering the turning points in dispute, stating controversies aright, and resolving cases of conscience." f he celebrated Bishop Hall says, " He had a strong understanding, and a free spirit, not suffering himself for small matters of judgment to be alienated from his friends; to whom, notwithstanding his seeming austerity, he was very pleasing in conversation, being full of witty and harmless u rbanity. He was very strong and eager in argument, hearty in friendship, regardless of the world, a despiser of compliment, a lover of reality, full of digested learning and excellent notions, a painful labourer in God's work, and now, no doubt, gloriously rewarded."*

The productions of Mr. Bradshaw's pen were numerous, and most of them very excellent. His " Treatise of Justification," was much admired by men of learning, as appears from the following aneedote: Some time after Mr. Bradshaw's death, the famous Dr. Prideaux, being in company with his son, and, finding who he was, said, " I am glad to see the son of that man, for the old ' acquaintance I had, not with your father, but with his Book of Justification."t We shall give a list of his pieces, in addition to those already mentioned, though perhaps not in the exact order in which they came forth, as it is difficult to procure an exact statement of the time of their publication.

His Works.—1. A Treatise of Divine Worship, tending to prove that the Ceremonies imposed upon the Ministers of the Gospel in England, in present Controversy, are in their use unlawful, 1604.— 2 A Treatise of the Nature and Use of Things Indifferent, tending to prove that the Ceremonies, in present Controversy, are neither in Nature or Use Indifferent, 1605.—3. Twelve Arguments, proving that the Ceremonies imposed upon the Ministers of the Gospel in England by our Prelates, arc unlawful; and,.therefore, that the Ministers of the Gospel, for the bare and sole omission of them in Church-service, for conscience sake, arc most unjustly charged of Disloyalty to his Majesty, 1605.—4. A Protestation of the King's Supremacy, mudo in the namo of the Afflicted Ministers, and opposed to the shameful Calumniations of the 1'rclutes, 1605.—5. A Proposition concerning Kneeling in tho very Act of Receiving, 1605.—6. A short Treatise of the Cross in liaptism.—7. A Consideration of

certain Positions Archicpiscopal.—8. A Preparation to the Lord's Supper.—0. A Marriage Feast—10. A Meditation on Man's Mortality.—II. Sermons on the second Epistle to the Thcssalonians.— 13. A. Trcatiso of Christian Reproof.—13. A Treatise of the Sin against the Holy Ghost.—14. A Twofold Catechism.—16. An Answer to Mr. G. Powcl.—16. A Defence of the Baptism of Infants.— 17. The Unreasonableness of Separation.