Richard Rogers

Richard Rogers.—This excellent divine was educated at Cambridge, and was afterwards for many years the laborious and useful minister of Wethersficld in Essex. He was a zealous, faithful, and profitable labourer in the vineyard of the Lord, for the space of forty-six years. He was a man of considerable learning, and of a most humble, peaceable, ami exemplary life; but a great sufTerer for nonconformity. In the year 1583, upon the publication of Whitgift's three articles, and the scveritcs which accompanied them, Mr. Rogers, with twenty-six of his brethren, all ministers of Essex, presented their petition to the lords of the council for relief; an abstract of which is given in another place.t

This petition does not seem to have produced the desired effect: lor Whitgift suspended and silenced them all, and protested that not one of them should preach without subscription and an exact conformity. What kind of treat

* Wood's Athenae Oxon. vol. i. p. 886, 887.
t Biog. Britan. vol. iii. p. 42. Edit. 1778.
J See Art. George Gilford.

meat they afterwards met with, appears from an account now before me, wherein it is said, " that thirty-eight ministers, denominated the learned and painful ministers of Essex, were oftentimes troubled and molested, for refusing to subscribe, to wear the surplice, or use the cross in baptism."* Though our divine had his share in these tyrannical proceedings, he was afterwards sheltered under the wing of a most worthy patron. Sir Robert Wroth warmly espoused bis cause; who, notwithstanding the protestation and censure of the archbishop, ordered him to renew his preaching, and he would stand forwards in his defence. Afttr enduring suspension about eight mouths, he was restored to his ministry. He continued for many years under the protection of Sir Robert, enjoying the peaceable exercise of his ministry. He was particularly anxious to obtain a more pure reformation of the church ; he therefore united with many of his brethren in subscribing the "Book of Discipline."t In the year J598, one Mr. Rogers, most probably this pious divine, was cited to appear before the high commission; but whether he received any ecclesiastical censure, we are unable to ascertain. f

In the year 1603, Mr. Rogers and six other ministers felt the weight of the archbishop's outstretched arm; and for refusing to take the oath e v officio, he suspended them all. Upon their suspension they were further summoned to appear before his lordship; but it is said the archbishop died on the very day of their appearance ; when they were discharged by the rest of the commissioners. But in the following year they were exceedingly molested by Bancroft, 'WJiitgii't's successor. During the whole summer they were continually cited before him, which, in addition to many other hardships, caused them to take numerous, long, and expensive iourntes.^ In these tribulations Mr. Rogers bore an equal share with his brethren.

Dr. Ravio succeeded Bancroft in the diocese of London, and appears to have been of the same cruel, persecuting spirit as his predecessor. He was no sooner seated in his episcopal chair, than he began to prosecute the nonconformists. Among others, he cited Mr. Rogers to appear before him, and protested in his presence, saying, " By

• MS. Chronology, vol. ii. p. 589. (10.)

+ Neal's Puritans, vol. i. p. 423.

t Baker's MS. Collec. vol. xi. p. 344.

\ MS. Chronology, vol. ii. p. 503. (7.) 589. (10.)

the help of Jesus, I if ill not leave one preacher in my diocese .who doth not subscribe and conform." But, poor man! he died soon after, and so was disappointed. *

Mr. Rogers, in his own private diary, April 25, 1605, makes the following reflections: " I was much in prayer about my troubles, and my God granted me the desire of my heart. For, by the favour and influence of William Lord Knollys, God hath, to my own comfort, and the comfort of my people, delivered me once more out of all my troubles. Oh that I may make a holy use of my liberty ! But it greatly troubles me," adds the good man, " that after labouring betwixt thirty and forty years in the ministry, I am now accounted unworthy to preach; while so many idle and scandalous persons enjoy their case and liberty."t

Upon Dr. Vaughan's translation to the see of London, and his restoration of many of the suspended ministers, Mr. Rogers makes these reflections, May 30, 1606: " If I preach no more, I heartily thank God for my liberty, both at home and abroad, for this year and a half, and I hope with some fruit. The bishop has been my friend. April 2, 1607, this week came the painful news of our Bishop Vaughan's death; who, for twenty-eight months, being all the time he continued, he permitted all the godly ministers to live peaceably, and to enjoy liberty in their ministry ."J On another occasion, Mr. Rogers having been in great danger of suspension, and many of his brethren being silenced, makes this reflection : " By God's great mercy, I have gained twelve weeks more liberty than 1 looked for. Therefore I have the greater cause to be content when silencing cometh, especially as many arc silenced before me.'H Mr. Rogers was living in the year 1612; but we arc unable to ascertain the exact period of his death.

* Wood says, that this prelate was preferred first to the lee of Gloucester, on account of his great learning, gravity, and prudences and that, though hil diocese " was pretty well stocked with those who could not bear the name of a bishop, yet, by his episcopal living among them, be obtained their love and a good report from them/* He seems, however, to have changed bis coarse upon bis translation to the see of London; where he presently died, " having," it is said, " for many years, with much vigilance, served his church, his king, and his country."—Wood's Athena Oxen. vol. i. p. 617.

+ MS. Chronology, vol. ii. p. 589. (10.)

t Dr. Richard Vaugban, successively Bishop of Bangor, Chester, and London, was a person of great learning, piety, and moderation, and an admired preacher. As Fuller says, " he was a very corpulent man, but spiritually minded," and u person of an excellent character.—Strype's Aylmer, p. 895.—Granger's Biog. Hist. vol. i. p. 513,344.

S MS. Chronology, vol. ii. p. 589. (12.)

Mr. Knewstubs preached his funeral sermon. Messrs. Daniel and Ezekiel Rogers, both eminent puritan divines, were his sons. Mr. Stephen 'Marshall was his immediate successor at Wethersfield.

He was eminently faithful and laborious in the ministry; and it is said, "the Lord honoured none more in the conversion of souls." He was styled the Enoch of his day, a man walking with God; and he used to say, J should he sorry if every day icere not employed as if it were my last. He was an admired preacher;» and Bishop Kennct says, " that England hardly ever brought forth a man who walked more closely with God."t Mr. Rogers was always remarkable for seriousness and gravity, in all kinds of company. Being once in company with a gentleman of respectability, who said to him, " Mr. Rogers, I like you and your company very well, only you are loo precise:" " Oh, sir," replied Mr. Rogers, " / serce a precise God."t

Mr. Rogers was author of " The Seven Treatises," 1603; which was highly esteemed. " A Commentry upon the whole Book of Judges," 1615. In his dedication of this work, he says he had been in the ministry forty years.