John Saltmarsh, A. M.—This person was descended from a respectable and ancient family'of the same name at Saltmarsh in Yorkshire, and educated in Magdalen college, Cambridge, where he enjoyed the patronage and support of Sir John Metham, his kmsman. He was a person of a fine, active fancy, no contemptible poet, and a good preacher; but no friend to bishops and ceremonies.$ About the year 1641, he became minister at Northampton, afterwards at Braisted in Kent, and, at length, was chosen to the office of chaplain in Sir Thomas Fairfax's army; where, to his great honour, he is said to have always preached up peace and unity. He meddled not with matters of discipline, but wholly laboured to draw souls from sin to Christ.|| He afterwards openly declared his sentiments concerning the war, saying, "That all means should be used to keep the king and people from a sudden union; that the war being against popery, should be cherished, as the surest means to engage the people; and that if the king would not, in the end, grant their demands, then to root hiin out, together with the royal line, and appoint the crown to some other person." These sentiments were laid before the house of commons, and they underwent a particular examination; but it does not appear whether he was sentenced to receive any kind of punishment. During this examination, however, one of the members said, "He saw no reason to condemn Mr. Saltmarsh; for it was better that one family should be destroyed than many."*
• Morton's Memorial, p. 125.
+ Mather's Hist, of N»w. Kng. b. iii. p. 64—€8.
} Fuller's Hist, of Camb. p. 147.
f) Fuller's Worthies, part iii. p. 212.
| Wood's Athene Oxon. vol. ii. p. 192.
Mr. Saltmarsh employed his pen in controversy with several learned divines, among whom was Dr. Thomas Fuller, the historian. This person having preached a sermon on "reformation," which he afterwards published, Mr. Saltmarsh published his animadversions upon it, in which he charged him with several points of popery. Fuller, however, defended his former arguments, in a piece under the title of "Truth Maintained," in which he challenged Saltmarsh to reply; but he declined the contest, giving this reason for it, that lie would not shoot his arrows against a dead mark, being informed that Fuller was dead. He also engaged in controversy with the celebrated Mr. Thomas Gataker, Mr. John Ley, Dr. John Bastwick, Mr. Thomas Edwards, and others. It is said that the very titles of some of his pieces seemed to have some tincture of enthusiasm, if not of frenzy in them.t
Mr. Edwards, who employs his presbyterian bigotry in reproaching his memory, gives the following account of him :— "There is one Mr. Saltmarsh, a man who hath of late writ many trashy pamphlets, fully stuffed with all kinds of errors, ignorance, and impudence, and hath been well answered and baffled by three learned divines. I am still in his debt for some passages in his " Groans for Liberty," and " Reasons for Unity, Love and Peace," against my first and second part of " Gangrsena," and shall say in this third, I purpose to reckon with him once for all, in another tractate. This Master Saltmarsh, the last half year, hath much followed the army: a fit place for him. When Oxford was taken, he was one of those famous preachers who preached at St. Mary's: as fit a man to credit the parliament and the reformation with the uersity, as his brother Peters. Master Saltmarsh being to preach in the army on a fast-day this summer, made a preface by way of apology, that he preached not for the fast: he would not be understood as preaching upon that occasion, or that his sermon was a fast sermon."
• Whillocke's Memorial, p. 68.
+ Biog. Brian, vol. Hi. p. 8053, 2054. Edit. 1747.
This writer also adds: "He hath been at Bath this year, and there, in one of the lesser churches, preached, that, as John Baptist wore a leathern giidle, so his doctrine was leathern doctrine. He would have preached at the great church, but the minister would hot give way: wheieupon he came to the minister's house, to contest with him about denying him his pulpit; to whom the minister replied, that he had heard of him by Mr. John Ley and Mr. 1 nomas Edwards, and was fully satisfied concerning him. Lesidcs, he said ' 1 have heard of one Master Saltmarsh, who, in the time of the former differences between the king aud the Scots, viz. before this parliament, made verses to incense the king to war against the Scots, when he went into the north; and that when the late oath, made by the bishops, came forth, went many miles to an archbishop to take that oath upon his knees:' to which Master Saltmarsh replied, he was then in hi.s darkness; and the minister of Bath rejoined, he thought him to be still in the smoak."*
We make no comment upon the above account, but allow Mr. Saltmarsh to speak for himself. In answer to Mr. Edwards, he says, " When I called to you the other day in the street, and challenged you for your unanswerable crime against me in the third part of the last " Gangraena," in setting my name against all the heresies you reckon, which your own soul and the world can witness to be none of mine, and your own confession to me when I challenged you—how were you troubled in spirit and language? Your sin was, as I thought, upon you, scourging you, checking you as I spoke. I told you at parting, 1 hoped we should overcome you by prayer. I believe we shall pray you either into repentance, or shame, or judgment, ere we have done with you; but, oh! might it be repentance rather! till Master Edwards smite upon his thigh, and say, What have I done?
"For your anagram upon my name, you do but fulfil the prophecy, They shall cast out your names as evil, for the Son of man's sake. And .your book of jeers and stories of your brethren; poor man! it will not long be music in your ears, at this rate of sinning. For the nameless author and his after-reckoning, let all such men be doing; let them rail, revile, blaspheme, call heretics. It is enough to me, that they write such vanity as they dare not own. And now let me tell you both, and all such pensioners to the great accuser of the brethren; fill up the measure of your iniquity, if you
• Edwards's Gangrajna, part iii. p. 113, 114.
•will needs perish whether we will or no. I hope I rest in the bosom of Christ, with others of my brethren: rail, persecute, do your worst; I challenge all the powers of hell that set you on work, while Christ is made unto me wisdom, righteousness, sane tification, and redemption. And I must tell you further, that since any of the light and glory of Christ dawned upon me; since first 1 saw-the morning star of righteousness, any of the brightness of the glory in my heart, that heart of mine which once lived in the coasts of Zebulun and Napihali, in the region and shadow of death, I can freely challenge you, and thousands more such as you, to say, write, do, work, print, or any thing; and 1 hope I shall in the strength of Christ, in whom 1 am able to do all things, give you blessings for cursing, and prayers for persecutions."»
Mr. Edwards, in answer to this, observes, " That Mr. Gataker had proved his opponent to be a shadow without substance; had taken off the shadows he had cast on many truths of the gospel; had shewed this new light, with his dawnings of light, to be only a shadow of darkness and death; and had caused this great light to go out in a smoke and snuff." He proceeds in his usual style of raillery, concluding that the former accusations were still unanswered.t
The death of Mr. Saltmarsh was very extraordinary, and is thus related. December 4, 1647, he was at his own house at llford in Essex, when he told his wife that he had received a special message from God, which he must deliver to the army. He went to London the same evening, and early on Monday morning, December 6th, to Windsor. When he came to the council of officers, he addressed them as follows: "I am come hither to reveal to you," said he, " what 1 have received from God. Though the Lord hath done much for you, and by you, yet he hath of late left you, and is not in your counsels; because you have forsaken him. God will not prosper your consultations, but destroy you by divisions among yourselves. I -have formerly come to you like a lamb, but God hath now raised in me the spirit of a lion; because you have sought to destroy the people of God, who have always stood by you in the greatest difficulties. I advise all the faithful to depart from you, lest they be destroyed with you." He then went to Sir Thomas Fairfax, the general; and, without moving his hat, said, " 1 have received a command from God not to honour you at all. I have honoured jou so much, that I have offended God; who hath revealed unto me that he is highly displeased with your committing his saints to prison; and that he will not prosper you, nor can I honour you." He next went to Cromwell, to whom he delivered the same message, declaring that the Lord was angry with him, for causing those persons to be imprisoned whom he knew to be faithful in the cause of God. And after recommending him to take some effectual measures for their enlargement, he took his leave of them all, saying, " I have done my errand, and must leave you, never to see the army any more." He went the same night to London; and next day took his leave of his friends in the city, saying, his work was done, and his message delivered, and desired them to take care of his wife. Thursday, December 9th, he left London well and cheerful; and the same evening arrived at Ilford. The day following, he told his wife that he had now finished his work, and must go to his Father. In the afternoon, he complained of the head-ache, desiring to lie down upon hia bed, when he rested well through the night. Saturday morning, December 11th, he was taken speechless, and died about four o'clock in the afternoon.* It appears from Mr. Saltmarsh's writings, that he was strongly tinged with the principles of antinomianism.
* Saltmarsh's Answer to Edwards, p. 9—11. Edit. 1812. t Edwards's Gangrasna, part Hi. p. 293.
His Works.—1. Practice of Policy in a Christian Life, 1639.— 2. Holy Discoveries and Flames, 1640.--8. Free Grace; or, the Mowings of Christ's Blood freely to Sinners, 1646.—4. New Qnerie, 1645.—5. Shadows flying away, 1646.—6. Pa wirings of Light, 1646. —7. Maxims of Reformation, 1646.—8. Reasons for Unity. Peace and Love, 1646.—9. Groans for Liberty, 1646.—10. Beams of Light, discovering the Way of Peace, 1646.—11. Some Queries for the better understanding of Mr. Edwards's last book, called Ganpricna, 1646.—12. Parallel between Prelacy and Presbvtery, 1646.—13. The Divine Right of Presbytery asserted by the present Assembly, and petitioned for accordingly to the H. of Com. in Parliament, with Reasons discussing this pretended Divine Right, 1646.—14. Sparkles of Glory; or, Some Beams of the Morning Star, 1647.—16. Wonderful Predictions, 1648.—16. The Assembly's Petition against his Exception.—17. The Opening of Mr. Prynne's Vindication. — 18. Flagellum Flugelli, against Dr. Bastwick.— 19. Animadversions on Mr. T. Fuller's Sermon,-r-20. Several Sermons.
• Wood's Athene Oxon. tol. II. p. 192, 199.