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John Copping

John Copping.—This unhappy man was minister near Bury St. Edmunds, a zealous puritan of the Brownist persuasion, and a most painful sufferer for nonconformity. In the year 1576, he was brought into trouble by the commis

• Biog. Britan. Toi. V'i1. Sup. p. 75.

+ Palmer's Noncon. Mem. Toi. i. p. 388.—Granger's Biog. Hist. vol. i. p. 163.

sary of the Bishop of Norwich, and committed to prison at Bury. He is said to have maintained the following opinions: " That unpreaching ministers were dumb dogs.— 'lbat whoever keeps saints' days, is an idolater.—-That the queen, who had sworn to keep God's law, and set forth God's glory, as appointed in the scriptures, and did not perform it, was perjured." And it is added, that for the space of six months, he had refused to have his own child baptized; "because," he said, "none should baptize his child who did not preach;" and that when it was baptized, he would have neither godfathers nor godmothers. These were the great crimes alleged against him! Mr. Copping having for these offences remained in prison two years, and still refusing to conform; December 1, 1578, heunderwent an examination before Justice Andrews, when the above false and malicious opinions, as they are called, were proved against him.* The good man continuing steadfast to his principles, and still refusing to sacrifice a good conscience on the altar of conformity, was sent back to prison, where he remained nearly five years longer. What shocking barbarity was this! Here Mr. Elias Tbacker, another Brownist minister, was his fellow prisoner. The two prisoners having suffered this long and painful confinement, were indicted, tried, and condemned for spreading certain books, said to be seditiously penned by Robert Brown against the Book of Common Prayer. The sedition charged upon Brown's book, was, that it subverted the constitution of the established church, and acknowledged her majesty's supremacy only in civil matters, not in* matters ecclesiastical. The judges took hold of this to aggravate their offence to the queen, after they had passed sentence upon them, on the statute of 23 Eliz. against seditious libels, and for refusing the oath of supremacy. Having received the sentence of death, they were both hanged at Bury, in the month of June, 1583. Such, indeed, was the resentment, and even the madness, of the persecutors of these two servants of Christ, that, previous to their death, all Brown's books that could be found, were collected together, and burnt before their eyes. + Under all these barbarities, the two champions for nonconformity continued immoveable to the last, and died sound in the faith, and of holy and unblemished lives. But, to hang men for spreading a book written against the church only, appeared extremely hard, especially at the very time when Brown himself was pardoned and set at liberty.