Edward Barber was a person of great learning, and fust a minister in the established church, but Iopg before the commencement of the civil wars he emLraccd the principle* of the baptist5. He was the meaiM, says Crosby, of convincing many that infant-baptism has no foundation in scripture, and soon gathered a numerous congregation. They assembled in the Spital in Bishopsgate-street, London; and
• Thomas's MS. History, p. 159, 180.
I Palmer'* Noncon. Mem. vol. iii. p. 479.
lhey appear to be the first church- among the baptists that practised the laying on of hands upon persons when received mto the church. He was a man of considerable eminence, but he felt the cruel oppressions of the times in which he lived. Previous to the year 1641, he was apprehended bj his inhuman persecutors, and cast into prison, where he remained eleven months. The particular crimes with which he was charged, and for which he was thus punished, were, his disbelievmg the baptism of infants, and denying that to pay tithes to the clergy was a divine ordinance under the gospel. He endured this persecution, therefore, for exercising the right of private judgment, and believing according to the convictions of his own mind. He died some time previous to the restoration, but we cannot learn in what year.*
Mr. Edwards, who has always something base to say of men of this description, gives the following curious account of a meeting, in which, if the account be true, Mr. Barber was a principal person concerned. November 12,1645, there assembled about eighty anabaptists, many of whom were members of Mr. Barber's church, in a house in Bishopsgatestreet, and held a love-feast, at which five new members, lately dipped, were present. The meeting was conducted in the following manner: When the company were assembled, they commenced their exercise by prayer; and after prayer, all the company being on their knees, Mr. Barber and another person went to them one after another, and laid their hands upon each of their heads, women as well as men, and either prayed that they might receive the Holy Ghost, or said, " Receive ye the Holy Ghost." They afterwards sat down to supper; and supper being ended, before the cloth was taken away, they administered the Lord's supper. This finished, the question was proposed for discussion, Whether Christ died for all men or not? They next entered upon a disputation, which they continued to a late hour. It is also added, that those persons, who, after the laying on of hands, should possess sufficient gifts, were'Sent forth to preach.+ Mr. Barber published a work entitled, "A Treatise of Baptism or Dipping ; wherein is clearly shewed, that our Lord Christ ordained Dipping; and the Sprinkling of Children is not according to Christ's Institution; and also the Invalidity of those Arguments which are commonly brought to justify that Practice," 1641.
* Crosby's Baptists, vol. i. p. 219. iii. 3.
+ E'ffarilt'i Gangrasna, part i. p. 136,137. Second edit.