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Thomas Collier

Thomas Collier was a minister of the baptist persuasion, a person of great diligence, moderation and usefulness, and a sufferer in the evil times in which he lived. Edwards denominates him a great sectary, and a man of great power among them; who had emissaries under him, whom he sent abroad into various parts of the country. He preached some time in the island of Guernsey, where he had many converts; but his cruel persecutors would not allow him to enjoy peace. They banished him and many of his followers from the place, and cast them into prison at Portsmouth; but how long they remained under confinement, we are not informed.t On account of his incessant labours and extensive usefulness, he is represented by his adversaries as having done much hurt at Lymington, Hampton, Waltham, and all along the west country. "This Collier," says my author, "is a great sectary in the west of England, a mechanical fellow, and a great emissary, a dipper, who goes about Surrey, Hampshire, and those counties, preaching and dipping. About a fortnight ago, on the Lord's day, he preached at Guildford in the meeting-place, and to the company of one old Mr. Close, an independent minister, who hath set up at Guildford, and done a great deal of mischief, having drawn away many of the well-meaning people from the ministry of other godly ministers. There this Collier exercised; and it was given out in the country, that he was a rare man; and the people came from the towns about to hear him. This fellow, in his circuit, at an exercise where he was preaching to many women for rebap

• Crosby's Baptists, vol. i. p. 348, 349. + Edwards's Gangraena, part iii. p. 41.

tization and dipping, made use of that scripture to that purpose: And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man," &c.*

In the year 1645, Mr. Collier came forwards in vindication of his sentiments, and published a work, entitled, "Certain Queries, or Points now in Controversy, Examined;" in which, after vindicating his own views of christian baptism, he maintains, that magistrates have no power whatever to establish church government, or to compel any persons by any human power, to observe the government of Christ. In discussing the power of the civil magistrate in ecclesiastical matters, he gives his advice to the parliament to use their utmost endeavours to promote a further reformation of the church; for the attainment of which, he recommends them "to dismiss that assembly of learned men, who are now called together to consult about matters of religion; because he cannot conclude that God hath any thing for them to do; and he knows no rule in the book of God for such an assembly. He also recommends them to go forwards in subduing their antichristian enemies, so far as by civil law they had power. He then concludes by recommending the parliament to give the kingdom to the saints; by which is meant," says he, "not only an external kingdom, but the spiritual kingdom and government of the church of Christ."+

The year following, two of Mr. Collier's letters, addressed to his religious friends, were intercepted, and published to the world. As they discover his piety and usefulness, and contain a sufficient answer to all the impious clamour of Mr. Edwards's scurrilous pen, it will be proper to insert them. The first, dated from Guildford, April 20, 1646, is addressed " To the Saints in the order and fellowship of the gospel at Taunton;" the preamble to which is, " Your dear brother, Thomas Collier, desireth the increase of grace and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ;" and is as follows :|

"Dear brethren and sisters,

"I have not had an opportunity of writing unto you until now, although my spirit hath been up to the Lord for you continually. The Lord hath manifested his presence with me exceedingly in my journey. I desire the Lord to raise up your hearts in thankfulness. He hath gathered saints in Pool by me. Fourteen took up the ordinance at once; there is like to be a great work; and I confirmed the churches in other places. I am not yet got so far as London; but I shall, I expect, to-morrow. Dearly beloved, my desire and prayer to our Father, on your behalf, is, that

• Edwards's Gangrana, part ii, p. 12?.

+ Ibid, part iii. p. 27—89. % Ibid. p. 51.

{our souls may be satisfied with his fulness, that you may ive above, and then you shall not want comfort. My exhortation to you is, to wait upon the Lord, in his own way, and not to look forth into the world. There is bread enough in your Father's house, where he hath promised his presence. Though you seem to want gifts, yet you shall not want the presence of your Father, your Jesus, if you wait upon him. ITiere are two brethren I suppose will visit you from Hampton; brother Sims and brother Row, whom I desire you to receive as from the Lord. The unlimited power of the presbyterians is denied them, of which you shall hear more shortly. I desire to be remembered to all my kind friends with you, and at present rest

u Your dear brother in the faith and fellowship of the gospel,

"Thomas Collier." In a note to the above letter, Mr. Collier says, " I shall see you as speedily as possible." His second letter breathes the same pious feelings, and is also addressed "To the Saints in the order and fellowship of the gospel." It is dated from London, May 2, 1646, and is as follows :* "My dear ones in the Lord Jesus,

"I salute you, desiring Him who is our head and husband, our life and liberty, our all and in all, to gather up our souls more abundantly into the glorious unity and fellowship of the Son of God; that you may not live upon these lower things, which are but instruments to convey light and love unto us: I mean, even ordinances, or the like; which indeed are but as a shell without the kernel, further than we enjoy Christ in them. My dear ones, you are in my heart continually, and my desire is to be with you as soon as possibly I can, to impart some spiritual gifts unto you, and to enjoy fellowship in JesusChrist with you. But what is this? you are upon the heart of Christ; nay, engraven upon his hand, and shall be had in everlasting remembrance before him. I am much in haste at present, the post coming forth of town, only I havesent you these few lines, and two books here enclosed, as a remembrance of my love. I desire to be remembered to all my dear friends with you, and at present rest and remain

"Your dear brother in the faith and fellowship of the gospel,

"Thomas Collier."

* Edwards's Cangrioa, part iii. p. 6%.

Mr. Collier was author of several other pieces, in addition to the one we have mentioned, which were probably on the controversies of the day. But at what place or places he afterwards preached, or when he died, we are not informed.

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