Free eBook: Getting Through the Storms in Life

John Canne

John Canne.—This learned and zealous puritan was educated in the established church, and he most probably received episcopal ordination, but afterwards espoused the cause of the separatists. According to Neal, he was chosen pastor to Mr. Lathorp's separate congregation in London, when he retired to New England ;• but, according to Crosby, he was chosen pastor to Mr. Hubbard's people, upon their return from Ireland. The latter of these historians certainly appears more correct in his calculations.t Mr. Canne, having laboured among his people, by preaching to them in private houses, for some time, was at length driven by the cruel hand of persecution into Holland, where he was chosen pastor of the Brownist congregation at Amsterdam. He is denominated "a known separatist, and hitherto the busiest disputer for this opinion.": He continued at Amsterdam many years, and was greatly esteemed and followed by the puritans who went to Holland. He was banished from his native country, as appears from his own words. "Upon my banishment from Hull," says he, " for what cause I know not, there being nothing to this day (1657) made known to me; I went apart, us Elias did, into the wilderness. And as I lay under hedges, and in holes, my soul in bitterness breathed forth many sad complaints before the Lord. 'It is enough, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.' Often and sore wrestlings I had with my God, to know his meaning and teaching under this dispensation; and what further work, whether doing or suffering, he had for me, his poor old servant."^ He is said to have succeeded Mr. Ainsworth as pastor of his church; but shortly after his election to that office, he was censured and deposed by part of the people, who renounced communion with him and the other part of the congregation.R This may be true; but it does not appear that he was deserving of such treatment. The party rejecting him were most probably sucli as could not endure his sound doctrine or his faithful discipline.

Mr. Canne w:as a person who rendered himself very popular, particularly by his controversial writings. He delivered his sentiments with great clearness and freedom, especially upon the controverted points of church discipline. "None," says he,» " may join in spiritual communion with Uiat ministry which hath not a true calling, election, and approbation of the faithful people to which he is minister. So necessary is a right election and calling to every ecclesiastical office, that, without the same, it cannot possibly be true or lawful. If the ministers scandalously sin, the conr gregatiou that chose them freely, hath free power to depose them, and put others in their places." He also adds: "And it is sure that Christ hath not subjected any congregation of his to any superior ecclesiastical jurisdiction than to that which is within itself: so that if the whole congregation shall err in a matter of faith or religion, no other church or churchofficer hath any warrant or power from the word of God to censure, punish, or controul the same; but only to advise them; and so to leave their souls to the immediate judgment of Christ."

* Neat's Purilans, vol. ii. p. 374.

+ Crotb) 's Baptists, vol. i.p. IG4, iii. 40,41.—Ainsworto's Life, p. 35.— See Art. Lathorp.

t Pagct's Defeoce, Pref.'

S Cannc's Time of the End, p. 565. Edit. 165T.
D Pagcts Defence, p. 33.

Mr. Canne, while in a state of banishment, published a work entitled, " A Necessity of Separation from the Church of England, proved from the Nonconformists' Principles," 1634; in the preface to which he thus observes:—" I know what I say, and have good experience of this thing; for there is not ten of a hundred which separate from the church of England, but are first moved thereto by the doctrines of the nonconformists, either in word or writing, taught to the people. And, indeed, upon their grounds, how can any one do less than separate, if his heart be tender against every sin, seeing that they confidently affirm, that the ministry, worship, and discipline are from antichrist, and that in the church are swarms of atheists, papists, adulterers, liars, &c. These are their own testimonies, and we know they are true; and, therefore, in obedience to God, and care of our precious souls, we have left our unsanctified standing in their assemblies, and, through the Lord's mercy to us, do walk in the holy order of his gospel, although daily sufferers for it."t

Soon after the meeting of the long parliament, Mr. Canne returned to his native country. Writers are divided in their opinions whether he espoused the peculiar sentiments of the baptists. Crosby himself leaves the matter undetermined.t There is no doubt, however, that he belonged to this denomination. For it is observed, that, in the year 1640, the baptist congregation in Broad-mead, Bristol, separated from the established church; soon after which, Mr. Canne was called to preach among them; when he settled them in the order of a christian church, and declared himself to be a baptist; but did not make adult baptism a necessary qualification to church communion.* The particular circumstances of his introduction to these people are preserved in the ancient records of the church in Broad-mead, from which my worthy and esteemed friend, Mr. Isaac James of Bristol, has generously communicated to me the following curious extract, being the whole of what relates to Mr. Canne:

* Bailie's Dissuasive, p. 40—4S.

-I- Grey's Eiaminatioo, vol. i. p. 43, 44.

i Crosby's Baptists, vol. iii. p. 41.

"Shortly after, on a time called Easter, because Mr. Hazard could not in conscience give the sacrament to the people of the parish, he went out of town to visit his kindred at Lime.t At this juncture, the providence of God brought to this city one Mr. Canne, a baptized man. It was that Mr. Canne that made notes and references upon the Bible. He was a man very eminent in his day for godliness, and for reformation in religion, having great understanding in the way of the Lord. When Mrs. Hazard heard that he was come to town, she went to the Dolphin ifm and fetched him to her house, and entertained him all the time he stayed hi the city; who helped them much in the Lord. He being skilful in gospel order, like Aquila, taught theoi the way of the Lord more perfecdy, and shewed them the difference between the church of Christ and antichrist, and left with them a printed book treating of the same, and divers printed papers to that purpose. So that by Mr. Canne the Lord did confirm and settle them, shewing them ho\v they should join together and take in members. He exhorted them to wait upon God together, and expect the presence of God with those gifts they had; and to depart from those ministers who did not come out of antichristian worship. When he had stayed some time in the city, he departed, and, on a Lord's day following, preached at a place called Westerleigh, about seven miles from this city; and many of the professors from hence went thither to hear him, with Mrs. Hazard, willing to enjoy such a light as long as they could : where he had liberty to preach in the public place (called a church) in the morning; but in the afternoon could not have entrance. The obstruction was by a very godly great woman that dwelt in that place, who was somewhat severe in the profession of what she knew: hearing that he was a baptized man, by them called an anabaptist, which was to some sufficient cause of prejudice.

• Thompson's MS. Collections.

t This Mr. Hazard »as minister of Iiatcliff parish and St. Ewcn's, Bristol, whence he was ejected at the restoration.—Palmtr't Sonccn, Mem. vol. ii. p. 177.

"This godly honourable woman, perceiving that Mr. Canne was a baptist, caused the public place to be made fast. Then he drew forth with abundance of people into a green thereby, and sent for Mr. Fowler, the minister that lived there, to speak with him, who was a holy, good man, of great worth for his moderation, zeal, sincerity, and a sound preacher of the gospel, as he approved himself since.* Who accordingly came to Mr. Canne on the green, where they debated the business of reformation, and the duty of separation from the worship of antichrist, cleaving close to the doctrine of our Lord Jesus and his instituted worship. Mr. Fowler agreed there was great corruption in worship, and that it was the daty of people to reform; but at tliat season, as things stood, it was not a proper time, because they should not be suffered, and should be cast out of all public places. Mr. Canne answered, ' That mattered not, they should have a barn to meet in, keeping the worship and commands of the Lord as they were delivered us.' Thus Mr. Canne continued near two hours on the green, asserting and proving the duty of people in such a day; after which they took leave of each other and departed. But the business of preaching in a barn could hardly be received. The thing of relative holiness, and tincture of consecrated places, was not off the people, having been so long nursed up in ignorance and outward form."

These curious records also add:—" Mr. Hazard being come home, and Mr. Fowler meeting with him, told him his wife was quite gone, and would hear him no more. But she, with those few that had joined themselves together to worship the Lord more purely, after Mr. Canne had thus instructed them, and shewed them the order of God's house, stept further in separation, and would not so much as hear any minister that did read common prayer. Thus the Lord led them by degrees, and brought them out of popish darkness into his marvellous light of the gospel."

After the above transactions we find no further account of Mr. Canne for many years. In the mean time, however, hr embraced the sentiments of the fifth monarchy-men, and is classed among the distinguished leaders of this new sect.t He afterwards published his opinions to the world in a work entitled, " The Time of the End: shewing, first, until the three years and an half are come, the Prophecies of Scripture will not be understood concerning the duration and period of the Fourth Monarchy and kingdom of the Beast. Then, secondly, when that Time shall come, before the expiration, the Knowledge of the End will be revealed," 1657- To this work are prefixed two prefaces, one by Mr. Christopher Feake, the other by Mr. John Rogers, both zealous fifth monarchy-men. The latter styles him, an "aged brother and companion in tribulation," and "this old sufferer and standard against the prelates and tyrants, old and new." Also, in this book, Mr. Canne gives some account of himself, which it will be proper to notice in this place. After stating his deliverance from his seventeen years banishment, he makes the following observations:—" Being brought thus at the feet of God, and there waiting and hearkening what the Lord would speak, I had the former things, for the substance of them, given unto me. And I can speak it in truth, I understood them not till now; but thought The Time of the End was to be found out and known some other way. Upon many considerations my soul'was sore distressed, and I besought the Lord with tears, day and night, that he would take pity on me, and not leave me to a deceived heart.

* Mr. Fowler was afterwards ejected from this place at tbe restoration. Palmer's ffoncon. item. vol. ii. p. 254.

t Paget'! Heresiojrnphy, p. «8». Edit. 1682.

"As of+en as I set my face unto the. Lord by prayer and supplication, I found myself more encouraged, and had more of the prophecies opened unto me. Yea, and the Lord knows I lie not, whensoever my heart hath been most melted and broken before him, and my soul swallowed up with the greatest love and longing after his glory; at such rimes I have been most confirmed, and strengthened to believe, that it was the spirit of truth which revealed these things to me, a worm. Nevertheless, being yet unsatisfied in myself, and fearful lest I should go aside from the teachings of God, I acquainted some of my christian friends with the thing, and how the case stood with me, and desired that the same might be spread before the Lord, which was done several tiihes. Very earnestly was the Lord sought for counsel and direction, that there might be no miscarriage on either hand; and I found the fruit of their prayers a greater confirmation.

"I have not published this treatise," says he, " as I have done things heretofore. For in humility and an awful fear of my God, here I can say, and that truly, This is a work of faith and prayer: not of my own labour and study, comparatively, as former things have been; for here I have been more out

r" the body, and with the Lord on the mount. But, oh, would be humble in such expressions, that the Lord alone might be exalted; and I remain still a worm in my hole, and numbered among the dead. Neither have I rested in the experience of God's inward workings upon my soul; but the holy scriptures have been the man of my counsel. Insomuch that I have not hearkened any further to the persuasions and operations of the Holy Spirit than what I might do, yea and ought, by faith grounded upon the blessed word. The scriptures, through the free grace of a divine blessing, by a humble application of them, have sweetly supported me."*

In this work Mr. Canne gives his opinion of the times, which will undoubtedly afford the reader some amusement. He considered the state policy during the commonwealth as the second apostacy. "Are not the tryers," says he," zealous men against the idolatry of the Jirst apostacy? They will tell you, there must be no inventions in God's worship; but every thing must be according to the pattern, as in the ministry, worship, and government. But what say ye of the character of the later apostacy? Are they not lovers of themselves, covetous, proud? I wish for their own sakes it be not so. The tryers are the great crackers, and they think they deserve to be named mend-all, as having done a great piece of service about church reformation. This, I think, I may safely say, and that truly by experience: That the present national clergy is more corrupt, and far worse, than it was in the bishops' time. For, first, there were then no professors but could have found, within a few miles of their dwellings, some honest puritan, or nonconformist, to go to, whereby to be refreshed and built up in faith, knowledge, and holiness: whereas now, men may travel twenty, thirty, forty miles, and not find a parish priest that hath any gospel savour in his ministry: no power, sweetness, or life; but old, formal, fruitless stuff, said over a hundred times. Secondly, though it be true, the bishops took little cr-re to reform the clergy, but rather how to suspend and silence, as some do know, such as witnessed against their unsanctified callings and places; nevertheless, if the times be compared, the enormities of the national clergy are less looked into and reformed. I say less' now than in the prelates'times. I remember the old nonconformists-were wont to call the bishops making of pries'ts, their licenses, and visitations, the picking of men's pockets. I wish it may not appear so in the day of Christ, that some of these men have done little better."i

In speaking of the three horns plucked up by the roots, he

• Canne's Time otlhc End, p. 266-270. * Ibid. p. 49,57, 58.

says, " I shall propound this to the reader, to be considered and weighed by him, whether England, Scotland, and Ireland are not three kingdoms; and these three at one time, as to their privileges, laws, rights, freedoms, broken? And whether this be not done by men who have the characters of the last aposlacy upon them, and such as call themselves a state and government, but never could formally put themselves either into a kingdom or commonwealth? I think this certainly may be asserted, that if the present state apostacy be not the little horn, it hath not yet risen. This horn takes two sorts of people for its greatest enemies, the fifth monarchy-men, and the commonwealth men."*

We make no comment on these opinions, but leave the reader to exercise his own judgment. Mr. Canne afterwards published a piece entitled, " A Query to William Prynne," 1659, printed with " An Indictment against Tythes," by John Osborne. The curious reader will doubtless be gratified with the following extracts from this work, which we give in the author's own words:—" A few months before the sitting of this present parliament," says Mr. Canne, "I declared my opinion concerning the late government by a single person, or the second state apostacy, how it should be pluckt up, root and branch, by the representatives of the people. These representatives of the people, whoever they should be, (for I positively pitched upon none,) I took to be the earthquake in Rev. xi. 13. Now so it is, and blessed be the Lord for it, we see the same is come to pass, to the great joy and comfort of all upright ones every where.

"This blessed work of the Lord, which is marvellous in our eyes, not only strengthens mc in my former opinion, that the earthquake is begun; but likewise what I have there spoken concerning the effects of that earthquake, as to tithes, the carnal church, ministry, worship, and government, with all the corrupt laws of the nation, will, in some short time, be utterly overthrown. The sun may shine, yet not be seen, because it is under a cloud. I am persuaded the great works of the last day are upon us, and the spirit is moving on the face of the waters, howbeit darkness covereth the earth. That I may not be mistaken when I speak of the earthquake, I would not be understood as fixing either persons or time. For, as I said before, the earthquake, I think, is begun among us ; yet, for the instru

• Canoe's Time of tbe End, p. 141, 145, 166.

ments whom (he Lord will make use of to carry on this work, it is known only (o himself. So the time, though I humbly conceive it shall gradually go forward, and have no more such a death upon it as it had before; notwithstanding, like the hand of a watch, the motion may not easily be discovered."

Mr. Canne n.xt considers some of the glaring evils which arise from paying tithes, which he expected would soon be abolished, and which he thought would be the first effect of the earthquake. "There hath been of late discovered," says he, "such horrid oppression and cruelty in tithetakers, as, I think, the like was never heard of in any former generation. It is almost incredible what inhuman and most unchristian cruelty hath been lately exercised upon many poor people, for refusing, of conscience, to pay tithes. There seems to be a great desire among the godly, on all sides, to have all ignorant and scandalous ministers rejected. I think, by this time, it doth appear to every one who understands the present state of the nation, how impossible it is, that such unsavoury salt should be cast out upon the dunghill, while tithes do stand. Those who get rid of rooks, as an annoyance to them, destroy their nests. If England be ever freed from such unclean birds, viz. ignorant and scandalous priests, tithes must be taken away. This is that which keeps them in their places, as the nests do the rooks. So long as such a way of maintenance stands, the most unworthy wretches will creep into public places, whatever care be taken to prevent them.

"By- wishing to have tithes put down, we are so far," says he, " from seeking to stop the progress of the gospel, that one main end why we desire the removal of them, is to have the gospel thereby advanced, and ignorant and carnal

Eeople the sooner turned from the error of their ways, •oubtless, whensoever this shall come to pass, the truth of God, and the power of it, will .more increase and spread abroad than ever it hath done since the rise of the beast. Though we are against tithes, we are not against a godly gospel ministry; but would have it in all places encouraged, and care taken that the people every where through the nation may be instructed in a way agreeable to the gospel."

Mr. Canne dates the above piece from his own house without Bishopsgate, London, the 13th of the 5th month, 1659. Keimet confounds him with one John Camm, a quaker, and says, he was sent to prison, in J65S, from the famous fifth monarchy meeting in Coleman-strect.* Wood observes that when Needham, the furious satirist, was turned out of his place of writing the weekly news, in the time of Richard Cromwell, one John Can was appointed to succeed him in the same office; but it is very difficult to ascertain whether this was the same person.+ Mr. Canne was certainly a man of considerable learning and piety, and of unshaken constancy and zeal in the cause he espoused; though 'or want of more light, he appears to have been too rigid and enthusiastic. We have not been able to learn when he died.

That which made this learned person most known to the world, and for which his name will be transmitted-to posterity, was the publication of his marginal references in the Bible. He was author of three sets of notes, which accompanied three different editions of the Bible. One of these was printed at Amsterdam in 1647; the title of which refers to a former one. "Here are added," observes the title, " to the former notes in the margin, many Hebraisms, diversity of readings, with consonancy of parallel scriptures, taken out of the Inst annotations, and all set in due order and place." This is followed by a dedication " To the Right Honourable Lords and Commons assembled in the High Court of Parliament." Another is commonly known and has been often reprinted. There was an edition of it published at Amsterdam, in the year 1664. To the title of this edition is added, " With marginal notes, shewing scripture to be the best interpreter of scripture." In the preface he makes mention of another edition, with larger annotations, which he designed to publish: "A work," says he, " in which he had spent many years; and which would still require time and care." We have not, however, been able to learn whether this was ever published. And it is greatly to be regretted that the later editions of that in 1664, though printed in the name of Canne, have the margin so numerously crowded with references, in addition to those originally done by Mr. Canne, that the reader is perplexed instead of being instructed. His references are exceedingly apposite and judicious. A new edition of the Bible of 1664, is certainly a desideratum; the printing of which, says my author, would, I am persuaded, reward any correct and elegant workman.%

Dr. Grey, endeavouring to depreciate the character of

• Kennet's Chronicle, p. 73, gG3.

+ Atheuas Oxon. tot. ii. p. 469. % Life of Ainsworth, p. 35, 36.

our divine, relates the following anecdote of him:—u This Canne," bays he, " because no Tinman inventions were to be allowed about the worship of God, cut out of his Bible the contents of the chapters, and the titles of the leaves, and so left the bare text without binding or covers."* Admitting" this to be the fact, surely it was not in the power of bigotry itself to account what he did a very great crime. It wiis no violation of any existing canons, constitutions, or act of parliament; nor could it be followed by any very evil consequences, so long as he preserved the whole of the sacred text unadulterated.

His Works, in addition to those already noticed. —1. The Way of Peace, or good Counsel for it: Preached upon the 5th day of the second month, 1632, at the Reconciliation of certain Brethren, between whom there had been former Differences, 1632.—2. Syon's Prerogative Royal; or, a Treatise tending to prove, that every particular Congregation hath, from Christ, absolute and entire Power to exercise in and of herself every Ordinance of God, 1641.—3. A Stay against Straying: wherein, in opposition to Mr. John Robinson, he undertakes to prove the unlawfulness of hearing tha Ministers of the Church of England, 1642.—4- Truth with Time, 166t».—0. A twofold Shaking of the Earth.—C. The Churches Plea.

California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information  California - CCPA Notice