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Walter Cradock

Walter Cradock was descended from a reputable family, born at Trefela, near Llangeven in Monmouthshire, and educated at Oxford, most probably with a design to the christian ministry. Upon his return from the university, having heard of the fame of Mr. Wroth, a zealous puritan minister in Wales, and of his singular way of preaching, he had the curiosity to go and hear him. The 1iappy consequence was, that he believed Mr. Wroth was a true minister of Christ; was fully convinced of the truth and importance of his doctrine; and began himself not long after to preach the same gospel, with much concern for the salvation of his countrymen. Afterwards he became curate to Mr. William Erbery, another zealous puritan, who was vicar of St. Mary's church, Cardiff, in Glamorganshire. Mr. Cradock was remarkably zealous and courageous in the cause of Christ; on which account the Bishop of Landaff calls him "a bold ignorant young fellow;" and says, " he was very disobedient to his majesty's instructions," most probably by refusing to read the Book of Sports, and that he preached very schismatical and d-tngerous doctrine; for which he suspended him and deprived him of his curacy. For proof of his disobedience, and of his schismatical and dangerous doctrine, his lordship observes, " that be used this base and unchristian passage in the pulpit:

• Walker's Altempt, part i. p. 161. ii. 409. + Thomas's MS. Hist, p, 129.

That God so loved the rooWtf, that he sent his Son to live like a slave, and die like a beast"* These troubles came upon him in the year 1634.

Mr. Cradock having received the episcopal censure, and being driven from his stated ministerial exercises, he preached up and down the country as he found an opportunity, sometimes in the churches and sometimes out of them. In imitation of his Master, " he went about doing good," and wherever he could procure hearers, there he preached. He was uncommonly zealous and laborious, and preached in most places throughout north and south Wales, with great acceptance and usefulness.+ His fame spread through the country, and his labours were made a blessing to the people. This gave him comfort and encouragement in his work. His ministry was instrumental in the conversion of Mr. Vavasor Powell, who became his zealous fellow-labourer in the vineyard of the Lord.J

In the year 1639. Mr. Cradock, with the assistance of Mr. Wroth, formed a church according to the model of the independents, at Llanfaches.^ About the same time he settled at Wrexham, where he preached in the church. His constant and laborious preaching made him many enemies; and his name is said to have made so deep an impression on their minds, that they denominated all persons eminent for piety, Cradockims. It was accounted a sufficient reproach to call them by his name; which, in fact, was conferring no small honour upon him, and was' no real disgrace to them. This term of supposed reproach continued in practice above a hundred years.|| By Mr. Cradock's ministry at Wrexham many sinners were called " from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God;" among whom were Mr. Morgan Lloyd and Mr. David ab Hugh, who afterwards became eminent ministers of the gospel.n

During the confusion of the civil wars, this pious divine was obliged to leave Wrexham; and being driven out of Wales, he fled to London, where he became pastor of Alhallows the Great. In this situation he continued till thmgs became more settled in the nation, and then, with several others, resumed his labours in his native country. It does not appear, however, that he returned to his former charge at Wrexham, or to any other stated ministry, but was employed, with many others, as an itinerant, under the direction of the parliament, for propagating the gospel in Wales. He was a leading man among the travelling gospellers, as Dr. Walker is pleased to call them ;• and went from place to place preaching the word of God with great popularity and success. This incurred the displeasure and roused the malice of his enemies. The writer just mentioned cannot speak of him without misrepresentation and abuse. He observes that Mr. Cradock, Mr. Powell, and other enthusiasts, represented their countrymen to the parliament " as pagans and infidels, and a people that understood nothing of God, or of the power of godliness; and so had need be converted to the faith." From the deplorable darkness which at this time overspread the whole of the Principality, there was certainly too much truth in this representation. But he adds, " that they made it their business, by all possible methods of calumny and reproach, to decry not only the old ministers, but the ministry itself, and the tithes and revenues, as Babylonish and antichristian; and this they did from the pulpit, with all the bitter railings and invectives that can be imagined."+ They undoubtedly disapproved of the ceremonies, government, and persecution of the church of England, as savouring too much of the church of Rome. They might also endeavour to instil the same sentiment in the minds of the people. This was certainly the practice among all parties. In those distracted times, all ministers, whether friends or enemies to the established church, laboured to propagate their own opinions. And, surely, if they believed their opinions to be the truth, they were sufficiently authorized so to do, provided they proceeded with christian moderation. That Mr. Cradock, or his brethren, acted at all inconsistent with sound christianity, could appear only to Dr. Walker and writers of a similar spirit, whose pens are always dipped in gall.

• The king, in his remark on this expression, observes, that (his was not much unlike that not long since uttered : " That the Jews crucified Christ like a damned rogue between two thieves." Then, surely, the royal comment was equally schismaticnl as the teitt!—Wharton t Troubles of Laud, vol. i. p. 533.

+ Cradock's Works, Pref. Edit. 1800.

* Life of Vavasor Powell, p. 106. Edit. 1671. «' Thomas's MS. Materials, p. 131.

|| Thomas's MS. Hist, of Baptists, p. 169. f Thomas's MS. Eccl. Hist. p. 299.

It was impossible for him to escape the bitter censures of Mr. Edwards's presbyterian bigotry. This intolerant writer says, "There is one Master Cradock, who came out of Wales, and is going thither again to be an itinerary preacher, who declined coming to the assembly; but now lately, seeing the pay could not be had without the concurrence of the lords, and having made some leading men his friends, he came to be examined, and is passed. Besides that he hath gathered a church, and administered the Lord's supper in a house at eveuirig, he hath preached many odd things in the city, strains tending to antinomianism and libertinism, speaking against men of an Old Testament spirit, and how poor drunkards and adulterers could not look into one of our churches but hell fire must be flashed in their faces. That, if a saint should commit a gross sin, and, upon the commission of it, should be startled at it, that would be a great sin in him." This heavy charge appears, however, to be without the least foundation, and stands directly opposed to Mr. Cradock's clear and consistent views of the gospel, and his uniform christian character.

* Walker's Attempt, part i. p. 158. + Ibid, p; 147, 159.

The bigoted historian also observes of our pious divine: "That lately he preached on that text in Thames-street, We are not of the night, but of the day; when he delivered matter to this effect; that since the apostles' times, or presently after, there had been a great night, but now the day was breaking out after a long night, and light was coming every day more than other; and there were many gospel privileges, and of the new Jerusalem that we should then enjoy. In that day there should be no ordinances to punish men for holding opinions; there should be no confessions of faith; there every one should have the liberty of their consciences, as in Micah it is prophesied of those gospel times: All people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God,for ever and ever; which place was brought by him for liberty of conscience; and in that day neither episcopacy, nor presbytery, nor any others should intermeddle or invade the rights of the saints. Many such flings he had; and this sermon was preached just at the time when the ordinance against heresies was taken into debate, and the confession of faith to be brought into the house of commons: so that by these and many more particulars, his frequent hints about dipping, and suffering such, shews what are the first fruits of these itinerary preachers, and what a sad thing it is, that men so principled should go among tuch people as the Welsh, with so large a power of preaching as he and his fellows have."* Mr. Cradock was a zealous advocate for religious liberty and universal toleration, as the

• Edwards'* Gangrana, part iii. p. 163.

birthright of man, which awakened the intolerance of this furious presbyterian.

He was a man of an excellent character and of high reputation; therefore, in the year 1653, he was appointed by the parliament to be one of the committee for the approbation of public preachers, commonly called tryers. Here his name is classed with those of Dr. Owen, Dr. Goodwin, Dr. Manton, and many other celebrated divines.* This probably called him out of Wales, and brought him back to London. He died about the year 1660. Mr. Cradock was an independent in his views of church government; but he could agree in the important doctrines of the gospel, with those who differed from him in matters of discipline. He had a low opinion of himself, and a very high esteem for his Lord and Master. He excelled in clear views of the doctrine of justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ, and in the great simplicity of his manner of preaching.+ His "Works," consisting of sermons, expositions, and observations, were collected and published in one volume octavo in the year 1800. By his zealous endeavours he procured the New Testament to be printed in Welsh, for the use of the common people.*