James Cranford, A.M.—This excellent minister was he son of Mr. James Cranford, many years minister and nfaster of the free-school in Coventry. He was born in that city in the year 1602, and educated in Baliol college, Oxford, where he took his degrees. Upon his leaving th$ uersity, lie became minister in Northamptonshire, then removed to London, and became rector of St. Christopher fe Stocks, near the old Exchange. This was in the year 1642. The following ye.;r he was appointed, by order of parliament, to be one of tlu licensers of the press for works in divinity. In the year 1644, he was appointed one of the London ministers to ordain suitable young men to the christian ministry. And in 1645, he was brought into trouble for speaking against several members of the house of commons. He was charged with saying, that they had carried on a correspondence with the royalists, and were false to the parliament; for which he was committed to prison; where he continued about five weeks, when the house of commons proceeded to an examination of his case, and passed upon him the following sentence:—" That the words spoken by Mr. Cranford against some members of the house of commons, and of the committee of both kingdoms, that they kept intelligence tuith the kings parly, and were false to the parliament, were false and scandalous.—That Mr. Cranford, at a full exchange in London, and at Westminster, shall confess the wrong he hath done them in so scandalizing them.—That he shall pay five hundred pounds to each of those four members for damages.—And that he shall be committed to the Tower during the pleasure of the house."* Whether this heavy sentence was legal or illegal, we will not pretend to determine.
Though Mr. Cranford thus felt the vengeance of his superiors, he docs not appear to have been a man of a turbulent spirit; and though he might be provoked to use the above unjustifiable expressions, he was a man who bore an excellent character, and was highly esteemed among bis brethren. Wood denominates him an "exact linguist, well acquainted with the fathers, schoolmen, and modern divines; a zealous prcsbyterian, and a laborious preacher."+ Fuller adds, " that he was a famous disputant, orthodox in judgment, and a person of great humility, charity, moderation, and kindness towards all men." f He died April 27, 1657, aged fifty-five years; when his remains were interred ia St. Christopher's church. and that learning being directed to proper objects, he was enabled to do more work in the vineyard of Christ than many of his brethren. He did not overlook the younger part of his flock. Being well persuaded of the importance of early religious instruction, he discovered great diligence in catechizing the youth of his congregation. He possessed a peculiar tenderness of spirit, which fitted him in a more eminent degree for this part of his work. As a true shepherd over the flock of Christ, he sought not theirs, but them: not any worldly advantage, but the salvation of their souls. He was a wise and prudent counsellor. Persons under trouble of soul sought his advice, and he gare it with great ability and readiness. But, while he administered consolation to others, God sometimes left him to walk in spiritual darkness; yet, at length, he dispelled those gloomy fears, and caused him to rejoice in his salvation. Upon his death-bed he found the comfort of the doctrine he had preached. He had not the least doubt of the truth of it; and he left the world in full assurance of eternal life.*
• Wbitlocke'i Mem. p. 144, 145.
t Wood's Alhrnir Oxon. vol. ii. p. 1:13.
i. 1 uller'i Worthies, part iii. p. 118.
His Works.—1. The Tears of Ireland, wherein is represented a list of the unheard-of Cruelties of the blood-thirsty Jesuits and the Popish Faction, 1642.—2. An Exposition on the Prophesies of Daniel, 1644.—3. Hasresco-Machia; or, the Mi. chief which Heresies do, and the Means to prevent them, 1646.—4. A Confutation of the Ann baptists.—He wrote also numerous Prefaces to other men's works.