Try out the new BibleStudyTools.com. Click here!

Richard Greenham

Richard Greenham, A.M. — This most excellent servant of Christ was bor n about the year 1531, and educated in Pembroke hall, Cambridge; where he took his degrees in Arts, and was chosen fellow.* Upon his removal from the university, he became pastor to the congregation at Drayton, near Cambridge; where he continued many years, not sparing himself to promote the salvation of souls. He was a hard student, and constantly rose, winter and summer, at four o'clock in the morning. He always preached twice on a Lord's day, and catechised the young people of his parish. He usually preached four times and catechised once, during the week; and for the greater convenience of his people, these week-day services were observed early in the morning. He took such uncommon pains, and was so remarkably ardent, in his preaching, that at the conclusion of the service, his perspiration was so great, that his shirt was usually as wet as if it had been drenched in water. He was more concerned to be useful, than to obtain any worldly emolument whatever; therefore, he refused several lucrative preferments when offered him. He naturally cared for souls, and manifested on all occasions a warm concern for their salvation. At the same time, he was not unmindful of their temporal comfort, but abounded in acts of liberality to the poor and distressed; for which he and his family often suffered want. In addition to his public ministerial labours, he had a remarkable talent for comforting afflicted consciences; and in this department the Lord greatly blessed his endeavours. Having himself waded through the deep waters, and laboured under many painful conflicts, he was eminently qualified for relieving others. The fame of his usefulness in resolving the doubts of inquiring souls, having spread through the country,

* Baker's MS. Collec. vol. ii. p. 378.

multitudes from all quarters, flocked to him as to a wise physician, and by the blessing of God, obtained the desired comfort. Numerous persons who to his own knowledge had laboured under the most racking terrors of conscience, were restored to joy and peace in believing. When any complained of blasphemous thoughts, his advice was " do not fear them, but abhor them."*

Mr. Greentmm was a man remarkable for peace. He was celebrated for promoting peace among those who were at variance, and in labouring incessantly for the peace of the church of God. He was a most exact and conscientious nonconformist, choosing on all occasions to suffer, rather than sacrifice a good conscience. Though he cautiously avoided speaking against conformity, or those things which to him appeared objectionable in the established church; lest he should give the least offence, he was suspended from his ministry, for refusing to subscribe and wear the habits. + He was of opinion that rites and ceremonies introduced into the church of Christ, without the warrant of scripture, were of no real advantage, but productive of much superstition ;t therefore, he prayed that all such things, as hinderances to the success of the gospel, might be taken away. To subscribe to any thing besides the word of God, or not collected from that sacred volume, he durst not, but peremptorily refused.^

Whoever will read his letter to Dr. Cox, bishop of Ely, will easily perceive what manner of spirit they were of, who could bear hard upon so excellent and peaceable a divine.|| When he was called before the bishop, upon a complaint of his nonconformity, he discovered at once, his prudence, peaceableness, and good sense. His lordship observing that there was a great schism in the church, asked him whether the blame was attached to the conformists, or nonconformists. To which Mr. Greenham immediately replied, " that it might be attached to either, or to neither. For," said he, " if both parties loved each other as they ought, and did acts of kindness for each other, thereby maintaining love and concord, the blame would be on neither side; but which party soever made the rent, the charge of schism belonged to them." The bishop is said to

• Clark's Lites annexed to bis Martyrologie, p. IS—14. + Parte of a Register, p. 86—93.

?Green ham's Works, p. 278. Edit. 1601. Parte of a Register, p. 88, 89. This letter is preserved, but too long for our insertion.—Ibid. p. 86—9 J

have been so well satisfied with this answer, that he dismissed him in peace.* Mr. Greenham united with his brethren in subscribing the " Book of Disciplined

This worthy divine having laboured in the ministry at Drayton about twenty-one years, removed to London, and became minister at Christ-church, where, in about two years, he finished his labours. He died a most comfortable and happy death, in the year 1591, aged sixty years. Fuller, who says he died of the plague, observes, that he was an avowed enemy to nonresidents, and wondered how such men could find any comfort in their wealth. M For," he used to say, " they must see written upon all they have, this is the price of blood." Our author adds, that he was most precise in his conversation, a strict observer of the Lord's day, and that no book made a greater impression upon the minds of the people, than his " Treatise on theSabbath," which greatly promoted the observance of it through the nation.} Mr. Strype denominates him a pious minister, but not well affected to the orders of the established churchy

Mr. Greenham was an excellent writer, for the time in which he lived. His works, including Sermons, Treatises, and a Commentary on Psalm cxix., came forth at different times, but were collected and published in one volume folio, in 1601. The excellent Bishop Wilkins speaks in high commendation of his sermons, classing them with the most valuable in his day.J And his commentary, says Dr. Williams, is admirable, for the time in which it was written, both for style and method : and, like all the productions of this author, is full of spiritual unction.i

The above edition of Mr. Greenham's works was published by Mr. Henry Holland, and dedicated to the Countess of Cumberland and the Countess Dowager of Huntington. In this dedication, it is observed as follows: " I come as in the name of the faithful servant of Christ, Mr. Richard Greenham, a man well known unto your honours, and to those most religious patrons of all piety and good learning, the Right Honourable Earls of Huntington, Warwick, and Bedford, of blessed memory, which now sleep in the Lord. Of them was he much reverenced in his life-time; of your honours much lamented after death ; for you know the loss of such to be no small rack unto the church and people of God. Such experience and good liking

• Clark's Lives, p. 13. + Neal's Puritans, vol. i. p. 423.

i Fuller's Church Hist. b. iz. p.219,220. ^ Sirypes Aylmer, p. 152. l| Discourse on Preaching, p. 82, 83. 1 Christian Preacher, p. 431. voL. I. 2 E

have your honours had of this man of God, of his godliness and gravity, and of the manifold gifts of God in him, that I need say no more, as any way doubting of your honourable acceptation."

In the edition of his works, published in 1612, there is a dedication by Mr. Stephen Egerton, another excellent puritan, to Sir Marmaduke Darrcll and Sir Thomas Blootber, knights, part of which is as follows:—"Surely, if one heathen man could gather gold out of the writings of another, how much more may we, being christians, gather not gold only, but pearls and precious stones out of the religious and holy labours of Mr. Richard Greenham, being a most godly brother; yea, more than a brother, even a most painful pastor, zealous preacher, and reverend father in the church of God ; of whom I am persuaded that for practical divinity he was inferior to few or none in his time."

This pious divine had a strong and an unceasing attachment to the house of God. He used to say that ministers ought to frequent those places most where God hath made them most useful. Having once found the sweetness of

B.ining souls, thither should they be most desirous to resort, e had so conscientious a regard for the ordinance of public worship, that, however weak might be the talents of the preacher, he constantly esteemed it his duty, as-well as bis happiness, to resort to the house of the Lord.