Thomas Barber was many years the learned and pious minister of Bow-church, London ; where he preached four times a week, to a large and affectionate congregation. But his excellent learning, piety, and labours, could not protect him from the persecution of the times. In the month of June, 1584, he was called before Archbishop Wiiitgift and other high commissioners, and required to take the oath ex officio, to answer the interrogatories of the court. Knowing that by taking this oath, he should be liable to accuse himself; therefore, to avoid further trouble, he refused, and was Immediately suspended. After receiving the ecclesiastical censure, his parishioners, to the number of one hundred and twenty, whose names are now before me, signed a petition to Sir Edward Osborne, the lord mayor, and the court of aldermen, to procure his release. But that court could do nothing for them.*
Mr. Barber having continued in a state of suspension several years, the archbishop, at length, offered to release him, on condition that he would subscribe with his own hand, the following protestation, dated December, 1587:— " I do faithfully promise, and by these presents subscribed " with mine own hand, do testify, that 1 will not, by word ** or deed, publicly or privately, directly or indirectly, " impugn, deprave, or reprehend, any government, rite, " order, or ceremony, by law established, and retained in this " church of England : But, on the contrary, to my power, * will, by God's grace, observe and seek the peace of the " church of England, and will from time to time, adjoin ** myself in public prayer, preaching, and admonitions a thereunto, and will frequent them diligently, and none " other assemblies, meetings, or conventicles."t Mr. Barber was a man of too much learning, piety, and good sense, to bind himself from exercising the right of private judgment, in things sacred. This godly and peaceable divine, therefore, claiming the right of thinking and acting in these things according to the dictates of truth and his own conscience, firmly refused to be tied down with such episcopal cords. But how much longer he continued under suspension, it does not appear.
Mr. Barber was one of the additional members of the presbyterian church erected at Wandsworth in Surrey; and his name is among those learned divines who subscribed the " Book of Discipline. "} About the year 1591, he was taken into custody, and examined, with several of his brethren, relative to the associations of the puritans; and being required to take the oath ex officio, he openly confessed, and discovered their assemblies, with the manner in which they were conducted.*