Mr. Symonds was beneficed at Sandwich in Kent, during the civil wars; styled by Edwards, " a great independent, and a great sectary." If we are to give credit to this writer, he was of a high and imperious spirit, and, in his views of church discipline, remarkably rigid and severe.+ He relates of him what he calls " a merry story," which is as follows: While he was at Sandwich, a person came to him to be catechized; but, instead of performing the duty of his office, he sent him to a mechanic of the town to do it for him; and when he was expostulated with, and asked why he had done so, he replied, " that one goose might best teach another to eat." The author applies and improves this story by adding, "so merry are our most demure independents.";
The following account of Mr. Symonds we give in the words of this writer. "There is one Mr. Symonds, a great sectaiy," says he, "who came to Loudon since the wars, and preached at little Alhallows, Thames-street, and at the Tower, where I have been informed, that he hath preached several strange things: as, for toleration, and liberty for all men to worship God according to their consciences, and in favour of antipadobaptism. Also preaching once at Andrew's, Undeishaft, for Mr. Goodwin, he preached high strains of antinomianism: as, that Chri.-a was a legal preacher, and lived in a dark time, and so preached the law, but afterward* the gospel came to be preached. Afterwards, preaching at Lawrence Poultney, on the day of thanksgiving for taking Sherborn castle, he spake of the great victories the saints, meaning the independents, had obtained; and yet the parliament was now making jaws against these saints. As at Loiidon he hath preached thus; so since he left London, this last summer, he pn ached at 1iaih before the General strange stuff, viz. against presbytery, saying it was a limb of antichrist, pleading for, liberty of conscience, and for those who
• Edwards's Gancrffina, part iii. p. 160,161.
+ IMd. p. 1C8, 109. | Ibid, p, 76.
would not have their children baptized till they came to years of understanding, and for weavers and ignorant mechanics preaching; when he spake of these men's gifts, and their having the Spirit, before learned men and men bred at universities, with a great deal of this stuff. It is a sad tiling, that Sir Thomas Fairfax, that valiant and well-affected gentleman, .should have such kind of chaplains and preachers upon all occasions to preach before him. I have spoken the more of this Mr. Symonds, because I hear he is nominated one of the itinerary preachers of Wales; that so the country and ministers may be aware of him; and that the assembly, when he comes to be approved of, may do their duties, and not let him pass so easily as they did Mr. Cradock."*
From this curious narrative it appears that Mr. Symonds was of the baptist persuasion ; and it is further observed, that he was approved and appointed by the house of commons to preach in Wales. He was living in the year 1646; but was a different person from Mr. Joseph Symonds, pastor of the church at Rotterdam in Holland, a brief memoir of whom is given in the next article.t