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Thomas Grantham

Thomas Grantham was a faithful and laborious minister of Christ, born in the year 1634. He feared the Lord from his you'h, and, abom the age of nineteen, he joined the baptist church at Boston in Lincolnshire. Having obtamed favour of 'he Lord, he had a good reputation in the church of God, and soon discovered his abilities for making known (be gospel to others. In the prosecution of

• Wren's Parentalia, p. 96.

+ Hisi. of New Eng. p. 115, 125.—Mather's Hist, of New Eng. b. iii. p. 132, 133.'

his work he had the honour to be classed among the sufferers for Christ and his cause; for he soon became the object of cruel persecution, and was cast into Lincoln jail, where he continued some time, during which period he wrote his first piece, entitled, u The Prisoner against the Prelate." This book contains the reasons of his separation from the church of E'igland; and, though it is written in verse, the argument is said to be close and nervous.

Crosby says, there is extant a manuscript of Mr. Grantham's, entitled, "Christianitas restaurata, or Christianity restored;" from which it appears, that, about the year 1644, there was a reformed christian church gathered in the south marshes of Lincolnshire, the members of which endured great persecution, in their names and substance, by slanders and confiscations; because they could not in conscience conform in all points to the national establishment. These pious and holy people, being zealous in the service of God, firmly adhered to the holy scriptures, and readily carried forwards the work of reformation. At length a separation took place in the society, when four of the members, who had espoused the sentiments of the baptists, formed themselves info a distinct society. Among these Mr. Grantham exercised his gifts privately, and procured ministers to dispense the word to them publicly. By the blessing of God upon their co-operation, the society soon increased in number; and, in the year 1656, Mr. Grantham was chosen to the pastoral office, though he was only twenty-two years of age.

This christian society, being settled in the order of the gospel, like a fruitful vineyard, grew and multiplied, and sent forth several ministers to preach the gospel. While these zealous christians were respected by the friends of true piety, they met with uncivil and unkind usage from others, particularly the bigoted clergy; who, by warrants, carried Mr. Grantham and several others before the magistrates; but hnving only falsehood to support their accusations, the wisdom of the magistrates soon perceived their innocence, as well as the malice of their persecutors, and immediately set thrm at liberty. Their release was no small reproach to their adversaries, and comfort to themselves. They went on cheerfully and prosperously, not only at Halton, but at many other places, though they received much rude treatment from those of the baser sort, who sometimes dragged them out of doors, and stoned them with stones; all of which they received with patience and meekness. At length they obtained the use of Northohn chapel, where they remained some years, enduring the scoffs and frowns of their enemies. In this situation Mr. Grantham and his breihren had many seals to their ministry, among whom was Mr. John Watts, a person of ^rcat repute, who had been educated at the university; but wiio could not conform to the national establishment, and therefore became pastor of a baptist church which assembled in his own house.

Soon after the restoration of Charles II. Mr. Grantham experienced the revival of persecution. He was apprehended and carried before a magistrate, who bound him over to the assizes held at Lincoln; and others of the bap. tists were cruelly harassed, l,cing constrained to pay fines of twenty pounds a month, for not going to the established church. Under these barbarities, Mr. Grantham and his 'people resolved to present a petition to his majesty, humbly imploring his favour, and to be relieved from these cruel oppressions. Agreeably to this resolution, Mr. Grantham and Mr. Joseph Wright were chosen the two messengers; who, in the year 1(561, were admitted into the king's presence, when they declared their grievances to him, and delivered into his hands, " Their brief confession, or declaration of faith, set forth by the baptized churches, to inform all men of their innocent belief and practice." The king received their petition and the declaration of their faith, treated them very courteously, protested against the cruelty of their adversaries, and promised them their liberties. Accordingly, he set forth his declaration in their favour, December SNith following; when they who had been indicted for religion, were, at the next sessions or assizes, acquitted in open court, to the shame and vexation of their persecutors, who were then sitting on the bench.

Upon the passing of the " Conventicle Act," another persecution was raised against these pious christians, and soldiers were sent to disarm them, on account of their separation from the established church. Though they could not find any arms in their possession, they rifled their houses, took away their goods, and forced Mr. Grantham, Mr. John Grcc, and several others, from their wives and families, making them run along like lackeys by the sides of their horses; nor would they tell them whither they designed to lead them, nor whether they should be prosecuted by law, or punished by force of arms. They were constrained, however, to go where the soldiers pleased, who dragged them from town to town; but, night coming on, they put up at an inn, where the prisoners were confined in a room not fit for entertainment, and so tied up all night that they could enjoy no rest. Also the soldiers sat near them, cursing and swearing, drinking and singing through, the night, by which they made the place a kind of hell to these devout and pious souls. When the morning arrived, they were carried to Louth, committed to the house of correction, and afterwards convened before a committee; Av hen, instead of being charged with any crimes, their persecutors sought, by ensnaring questions, to pick up some accusation against them; then tendered oaths to them, and inquired whether they would conform to the established worship of the church of England. In the conclusion, Mr. Grantham, Mr. John Gree,and Mr. John Green, were, by strict command, sent to jail, where they remained half a year. During this period were the assizes, at which lime their unfeeling persecutors prevented them from being heard; and atterwards, when they were brought before the justices at the quarter sessions, the bench refused to own them, or proceed to hear their cause. Upon which the sheriff said, that, as he had shewed them in open court, he was released from his charge, and so they were all set at liberty.

Notwithstanding Mr. Grantham's release, his troubles were not over. Soon after the above, his enemies attempted to ruin him, by bringing an action against him of one hundred pounds, upon a pretence that he, with force o[ arms, did beat and uncivilly use the wile of a certain person, only because he had baptized her. But, to the shame and reproach of his prosecutors, the cause at next assizes was cast out of court as a malicious prosecution. Great, indeed, was the opposition of the bishop and clergy against the baptists in Lincolnshire. They were exposed to public contempt; on which account they invited one Mr. Robert Wright, who had renounced their sentiments, to a friendly conference. Though the bishop was greatly moved by this bold adventure of the baptists, only an angry paper was seut them, drawn up by Mr. William Silverton, the bishop's chaplain, who stigmatized them "erroneous, antick baptists." To this paper Mr. Grantham replied, promising Mr. Silverton either to hear and discuss his arguments in a free audience, if he would fix a convenient time and place; or reply to him, if he would defend his sentiments from the press. But Mr. Silverton thought proper to decline thc proposal; and here the affair ended.'

Upon his majesty's declaration of indulgence, in 1671, granting liberty to the dissenters to meet and worship God according to the light of their consciences, without restraint or disturbance, provided their teachers were licensed, their doors set open, and they refrained from all sedition; Mr. Grantham and another person were appointed by the baptists in Lincolnshire to wait upon the king with their humble address to his majesty. In this address, after offering praise to Almighty God, with thanks to his majesty for his late indulgence, they set forth wherein they thought his royal declaration infringed upon that liberty which they deemed the birthright ofall christians: they beseeched him io leave them to the light of scripture, in all the exercises of christian worship; and they signified that they should continue in this practice till they should obtain his permission, assuring his majesty that no less liberty than the scriptures expressed would satisfy the church of God. They then concluded with thanks to his majesty for all his lenity; praying that God would magnify his grace in his princely soul, that, while he reigned here on earth, he might excel in all true honour; and, after this life, enjoy a crown of immortality, and a throne of glory in the kingdom of hejven.

It does not appear what effect this bold address produced upon the mind of the king. Mr. Grantham and his brethren had m.iny enemies, who endeavoured to oppress them to the uttermost. He therefore wrote a vindication of them, in a piece that was never published, entitled, "The Baptists' Complaint against the Persecuting Priests;" in the introduction to which he thus expressed himself: "All hough we acknowledge ourselves sundry ways obliged to honour nmny of the learned of the church of England; yet, seeing some of them are so evidently of a persecuting spirit as that they daily seek our utter ruin, both by persecuting us themselves, and by stirring up those that are in authority to trouble us, by imprisonment and seizure of our goods, we are therefore constrained to exhibit this our just complaint; and the rather, because we have faithfully endeavoured to obtain peace and brotherly concord with them, both by our friendly deportment and by proposing, in a more public manner, such things in our 'Friendly

• Croibj's Baptists, Tol. ii. p. 241— 244.

Epistle to the Bishops and Ministers of the Church of England,' as also in our ' Apology for the baptized Believers,' as do, we (rust, sufficiently evidence that there is nothing more dear to us than truth, and peace with all that call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

He further observes, in the name of himself and his brethren: "We have borne the unkind usage of many of our countrymen, and of persecuting priests in particular, for more than thirty years. For, in the time of Cromwell's usurpation, they did then hale us before the judgementseats, because we coidd not worship God after the will of their lord protector; for so they styled him in their articles against us. We had then our goods taken away, and never restored to this day." In the enumeration of their multiplied sufferings, he says> "We have sustained the imprisonment of not less than one hundred persons. We have borne the trial of no less than three hundred levies, of sixty, forty, twenty, or ten pounds. Indictments at the assizes and sessions, for two-pence per week and twenty pounds per month, we have had not less than a thousand. Presentments and excommunications in the commissary courts we have had some hundreds, with many other vexations not here inserted."

Mr. Grantham, who bore his share in these oppressions, greatly encouraged and comforted his brethren under all their sufferings. He seems to have been an eminent person in his day, but it does not appear when he died. In addition to the article already mentioned, he was author of "Christian ism us Primitivus;" also, " Sigh for Peace; or, the Cause of Division discovered ;" and "The Paedobaptists Apology for the baptized Churches."* He is classed among the principal advocates for the practice of laying on of hands upon persons newly baptized; and he united With his brethren in publishing a treatise in defence of it, entitled, " A Search for Schism."t