In the 60th Volume of this Magazine, 5th Series, p. 767, Dec. 1861, there is an interesting article by the Rev. J. H. Wood, of Smarden, Kent, wherein he alludes to the celebrated Visitation Sermon of Mr. Cornwell, at Cranbrook, and its effect upon the mind of Blackwood, then a clergyman of the Church of England, as narrated in Daniel Medhurst's "Account of the Original of the Church of Spillshill, in Staplehurst." This remarkable incident having become a matter of history, is probably sufficiently well known to the readers of this Magazine, yet I am tempted to reproduce it here in Blackwood's own words: - "Least that Proverbe
should be turned upon me - Proverbs 26.17: He that medleth with strife belonging not to him is like one that taketh a dog by the eare" - the reader may understand that I entered not upon this controversie without a sufficient call, the which was this: There being a sermon preached at Cranbrooke, in Kent, by Mr. Francis Cornewell, against Paedobaptisme, therein was by him asserted that it was an Antichristian innovation, a humane tradition, and that it had neither precept, nor example, nor yet true deduction from the Word; or words to the like effect. Divers of the ministers thereabouts (some whereof were present and heard him), being much offended hereat (myselfe meanwhile being silent on both sides), agreed together that we should in our private studies examine the question, and at our next meeting, which was within a fortnight, bring our collections according as we found it; according to which agreement I, studying the question at large, found that it was a humane tradition, and that it contained more evill in it then ever I could have imagined. According to our agreement, I brought in my arguments against infants baptisme, nothing being brought in defence thereof; the ministers being hindred through forgetfulnesse and interruption of businesse, as they said. The collections being then and there read, a reverend brother stood up in the name of the rest, who spake to this effect: - That they sought for truth rather than for victory, and therefore he desired that the arguments might be left with one of them, that so they might be examined; whereunto all the rest of the ministers then and there present did accord. The arguments having lyen five weeks, and seeing no answer of any kinde given to them, I sent for them home, and, with some additions, transcribed them for the presse." [From the Preface to "The Storming of Antichrist."]
In the article referred to, Mr. Wood infers, from Medhurst's "Account," that Blackwood was at this time, A.D. 1644, the Rector of Staplehurst; but it is clear that his words will not bear this construction: - "Mr. Blackwood, one of the clergy," &c. He was probably at this time only resident there, although he may have had some ministerial duty in connection with the parish. John Brown was the Rector from 1626-7 to 1648-9, when the living was sequestrated; and Blackwood's name is not to be found with any of the entries in the Parish Register. But that he was residing at Staplehurst, or somewhere in its neighbourhood, is confirmed by the following particulars, which were communicated by Mr. Tarbutt, of Cranbrook, to my friend, the Rev. Wm. Peterson, Incumbent of Sissinghurst: - "The Vicar of Cranbrook, Mr. Abbott, though greatly respected in these parts, was very early called upon to sequester his vicarage, because he held more than one living. Mr. Abbott's sequestration took place, according to Brooke's 'Puritans,' in March, 1643 (and our parochial documents confirm the same). It was some time at Cranbrook, after Mr. Abbott left, before a Presbyterian minister was appointed, and during that time different ministers were engaged, one of which was Mr. Blackwood; and, as the sum of eighteen pence only was paid for a man to go after Mr. Blackwood, it would seem he lived as near as Staplehurst. This sum, in those days, was sufficient to fetch Mr. Blackwood, either on horseback or in some sort of carriage - most likely horseback." Ivimey says: "He was a minister somewhere in the Weald of Kent" I have not been able to
find that he held any benefice in the diocese of Canterbury from 1630 to 1660. From Hasted's "History of Kent," however, it seems that one Christopher Blackwood held the living of Stockbury for a very brief period - namely, in the interval between April 2 and June 27,1631; but there is nothing to identify him with the subject of this Paper. Captain Deau, in a letter to Dr. Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln, reckons Blackwood among those of his acquaintance who voluntarily left their parochial charges and benefices, on account of their disapproving the baptism of infants; and concerning whom he says: "They were worthy guides, well qualified in all respects for the ministry." [Ivimey and Crosby cited by Neale: "History of Puritans," Vol. 3, p. 379.]
It is well known that, after his secession from the Church of England, Blackwood became associated with Mr. Richard Kingsworth in the pastorate of the Spillshill church; but soon separated from him, holding the doctrine of personal election, in which he differed from Kingsworth. "He appears, in 1653, to have gone into Ireland with the army under the command of General Fleetwood and Lieutenant Ludlow. He lived till after the Restoration, and signed the apology of the Baptists in 1660, against Venner's Insurrection." [Neale's "Puritans," Vol. 3, p. 379, Tegg's Edition, 1837.]
In Ireland he soon settled down in the pastorate of the Baptist church at Kilkenny. His signature, with those of other "brethren" at Kilkenny, Waterford, and Dublin, is subjoined to a remarkable document, dated "1st day of 4th month (June), 1653," [Ivimey] being an address from the church at Waterford to the churches in England, exhorting them to closer union, and mutual correspondence and fellowship. But their tenets or practice were not agreeable to the Independent party, as appears by a letter from Mr. Thomas Harrison to Mr. Secretary Thurloe, dated October 17, 1655, who thus writes: - "Being at Kilkenny with my lord on the 18th of last month, Mr. Brewster, Mr. Woods, Mr. Wells, and myself, went solemnly to Mr. Blackwood (the oracle of the Anabaptists in Ireland), complaining of their total withdrawings from us in public worship. He alleged the cause thereof to be our not observing the order of the Apostles by baptism. Nevertheless, they could most of them sometimes join with us, provided," &c. . . . Again: - "This man is now fixed with the congregation at Dublin, and Mr. Patient appointed as an Evangelist to preach up and down the country." The whole of this letter is very curiously illustrative of the state of religion at that time in Ireland. Blackwood is now established at Dublin, and we again find his name attached to a letter addressed to certain churches in Wales, dated "12th of 4th month (June), 1656," and offering to them words of warning, admonition, and encouragement. Ivimey is of opinion that Blackwood was the author of both these letters. Whilst at Dublin, he published an Exposition upon the first ten chapters of St. Matthew's Gospel. In the dedication of this work "To the Eight Honourable Lord Charles Fleetwood, late Lord Deputy of Ireland, and now Lieutenant-General of the forces in England," he desires "to testifie that due acknowledgement of your Lordship's favours whereto I am obliged;" and in the Epistle to the Reader are the following interesting personal allusions: - "Being desired by some of my friends to print some Annotations upon the New Testament, though
my life was too far spent, and I not like[ly] to accomplish it, my body being much worn; yet I thought it advisable to make an essay herein, but the Providence of God so disposed, that I had no sooner finished three or four chapters in Matthew, but I was called from the city of Kilkennie in Ireland, to be overseer of a Church of Christ in Dublin." Again: "I have pressed after truth through multitudes of impediments, temptations, and discouragements."It is probable," says Ivimey, "that the strange and unexpected events which took place in 1660 in consequence of the restoration of the King, were the cause of Mr. Blackwood's returning to England, where we find him signing the declaration against Venner's rebellion, 1660;" and thus concludes what he has to say about him: "It is evident he was a very learned man." Mr. Fisher, in his "Baby Baptism no Baptism," speaking of him, says, "a man better read in the Fathers than either you or I, yea, you or Mr. Marshall also." [Stephen Marshall, A Defence of Infant Baptism, &c, by Stephen Marshall, B. D., Minister of the Gospell at Finchingfield, in Essex. Printed at London by Ric. Cotes for Steven Bowtell, and are to be sold at his shop at the Bible, in Popeshead Alley, 1646, 4 to.] As an author, Blackwood is probably best remembered by the work which owed its inspiration to the circumstances that followed Mr. Cornwell's visitation sermon at Cranbrook; its scope and character are fully set forth in its quaint title: "The Storming of Antichrist in his two last and strongest garrisons of Compulsion of Conscience, and Infants Baptism. Wherein is set down a way and manner for Church constition; together with markes to know right constituted churches from all other societies in the world. Also the cruelty, inequality, and injustice of compulsion of conscience, by twenty-nine arguments is opened; with an answer to twenty-six objections brought for the same. Also, twelve arguments against the baptizing of infants; with an answer to twenty-six objections brought for the same. Wherein is displayed to the view of all, from the testimonies of Scriptures, Fathers, Councils, the mischiefs, uncertainties, novelties, and absurdities that do attend the same. Wherein is answered the most valid arguments brought by St. Martiall, in his sermon preached in the Abbey Church of Westminster, for the defence hereof. With an answer to Mr. Blake, his arguments in his book called 'Birth Priviledge,' and to the arguments of divers others. As also a Catechisme, wherein is cleerely opened the doctrine of baptisme, together with a resolution of divers questions and cases of conscience about baptisme; written by Ch. Blackwood, out of his honest desire he hath to a thorow reformation, having formerly seen the mischiefs of half-reformations. [Quotations and texts.] Printed Anno 1644. Being one of those years wherein Antichrist threatened the storming of churches." 4 to.
According to the temper of the times, a work of this controversial character would be sure to stir up strife; we shall not therefore be surprised to find Mr. Blake, whose opinions were impugned, enter the lists in their defence. This he did by replying to Blackwood by a treatise, entitled "Infants Baptism freed from Antichristianisme:" in a full repulse given to Mr. Ch. Blackwood in his assault of that part of Christ's possession, which he holds in his heritage of infants, intituled by him The Storming of Antichrist: digested into three parts. In the first, Mr. Blackwood's arguments (from the testimony of Scriptures,
Fathers, Councils) against Baptism e of Infants are answered. In the second, the Birth-priviledge and covenant-holines of beleevers is asserted, and with addition of several arguments further confirmed. In the third, arguments brought by Mr. Stephen Marshall and others, for Baptisme of Infants are vindicated and defended. By Tho. Blake, minister of the Gospel, &c. London: Printed by R W., for Thomas Underbill, and are to be sold at the Bible in Wood Street, 1645." This was quickly followed by "Apostolicall Baptisme", or a sober rejoinder to a treatise written by Mr. Thomas Blake, intituled Infants Baptisme freed from Antichristianisme, in answer to a book written by Ch. Blackwood, called The Storming of Antichrist, written by Ch. Blackwood. [Texts.] London: Printed in the year 1645." In the preface to this rejoinder, he deprecates the controversies existing in the Church, and would have refrained from adding another matter of dispute, but for the remembrance of our Saviour's prediction "that He came not to bring peace on earth but a sword;" and the strong opinion he entertained of the mischievous character of the doctrine of infant baptism. In his "postcript to prevent mistakes" he writes: "What I have writ concerning infants baptisme I acknowledge to be so farre true, that I am undoubtedly persuaded that infants baptisme is not of God; in confirmation whereof, I shall (the Lord assisting me, and if I be called thereto) leave the dearest comforts I have in this life. And for liberty of conscience to the different ways of brethren, whether Independent or Antipaedobaptist, I am undoubtedly persuaded. But whether there be liberty to be granted to men of no conscience? or, to loose-lived perpersons[sic]? that pretend conscience, when visibly it is only passion, humour, fancy, or cloaked iniquity, I leave it to inquiry. . . This I have added to avoid all retractations, and that I may not be urged by my conscience to print any recantation, in case I should be mistaken in so weighty a matter."
[Thomas Blake, a Staffordshire man born, was entered at Christ Church, Oxford, in the year 1616, that at his age nineteen. He became subsequently pastor of St. Alkenond's, Shrewsbury, where lie proved himself a zealous Presbyterian, on that party becoming notorious, and was soon appointed to the living of Tamworth, where he lived and died. He was appointed by Oliver Cromwell, one of the assistants to the Commissioners of Staffordshire for the ejecting of such whom they called ignorant and scandalous ministers and, schoolmasters. - Author of Birth's Priviledge of Right of Infants Baptisme. London: 1644; and several other works of a polemical nature. - Wood's Athenae, Oxon, vol. iii. p. 431.]
The next work of Blackwood's to notice is "A Treatise concerning Deniall of Christ. [Quotations and Texts.] London: Printed for Edward Blackmore, at the sign of the Angell, in Paul's Churchyard, 1648." 4to., pp. 84. The following "Imprimatur" on the last page: "March 16,1647. I have perused this Treatise of the Deniall of Christ, and finding it to be pious, powerful, and very profitable, in these backsliding times; I doe allow it to be printed and published. John Downame."
"Some Pious Treatises, being -
1. A Bridle for the Tongue; or a Treatise directing a Christian how to order his words in a holy maner.
2. The present Sweetness and future Bitterness of a delicious Sin.
3. A Christian's groans under the body of sin.
4. Proving the resurrection of
the same body committed to the dust; also, the not dying of the soul with the body.
5. Tractatus de Clavibus Ecclesiae. Written by Christopher Blackwood, a servant of Jesus Christ. London: Printed for Giles Calvert, at the Black Spread Eagle, near the west end of Paul's, 1654."
The first of this series of treatises is dedicated "To the Right Honourable Lady, the Lady Fleetwood, daughter to His Highness Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector, by Her Ladyship's humble servant, C. R"
The rest are not dedicated.
The most important of Blackwood's works I have previously alluded to: "Expositions and Sermons upon the first Ten Chapters of the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Matthew. Written by Christopher Blackwood, preacher to the Church of Christ in the City of Dublin, in Ireland. [Quotations and Texts.] London: Printed by Henry Hills for Francis Tyton and John Field, and are to be sold at the Three Daggers, and at the Seven Stars in Fleet Street, 1659." 4to. pp. 901.
He published also an 8vo. pamphlet, N. D., entitled "Soule-searching Catechisme," of which I am unable to give any further account.
There are references made to several passages in "The Storming of Antic/irist" in a contemporary work, entitled "Anabaptism the Fountain of Independency, Brownism, Antinomy, and Fannilisme, &c, revealed. By Robert Baillie, Minister at Glasgow. London: Printed by M. F., at the Brazen Serpent in Paul's Churchyard. 1647." 4to. As at p. 56, referring to the liberty of conscience insisted on by the Anabaptists in England, he says, "At the beginning, they had not the courage to require a generall liberty for all erroneous consciences. . . . So Mr. Blackwood, who first came out to storm the Antichristian baptizers of children, does stick a little at Papists, and more at blasphemers and Atheists. . . . If any rail against Christ, or deny the Scriptures to be His word, or no rule for us, and so unsettle our Faith, this, as I take it, may be punished by the Magistrate." - "Storming of Antichrist" p. 23.
For notices of Blackwood's ministry in Ireland, as well as in Kent, see "A Condensed History of the General Baptists of the New Connexion, preceded by Historical Sketches of the early Baptists. By J. H. Wood." London: Simpkinand Co. Leicester: J. F.Winks. 1847. 8vo., 1 vol. pp. 376.
Such are the principal circumstances relating to the history of this eminent Nonconformist divine that may be gleaned from works more or less accessible to the general reader. His religious views may, of course, be gathered from his own works, and no one, I think, can fail of being impressed with the conviction of his deep piety and intellectual ability. In fact, his character displays an honesty of purpose, a catholicity of feeling, a devotion to truth, and a sobriety of judgment that place him in the first rank of those noble spirits of the seventeenth century, who, valiant for the truth, suffered grievous penalties for their conscientious confession. His social and domestic relations have hitherto received no illustration, as I am aware of; such, indeed, could only be known from private sources of information; I am glad, therefore, in being able to place on record a series of his letters, which have come to light amongst the papers and MSS.of Samuel Jeake, sen., of Rye, author of " Charters of the Cinque Ports," &c., now in the possession of Thomas Frewen, Esq. They not only give an insight into
his mind and disposition, as exhibited in the ordinary transactions of life, but from them I have been able to gather some new points of information connected with his personal history, inducing me to make further researches that have resulted in the acquisition of a few additional facts that may be useful in any future more extended biographical memoir of him.
Samuel Jeake, of Rye, was Blackwood's brother-in-law, by the marriage of two sisters; a man of decided piety, and, like Blackwood, a seceder from the Established Church, on conscientious scruples; in him, therefore, though by seventeen years his junior, Blackwood, doubtless, found a friend of congenial principles, and more than a friend, one who was in every sense of the word - in sentiment, in trial, in sympathy', in love - a brother.
[See "A Biographical Sketch of Samuel Jeake," in Sussex Archaeological Collections, Vol. xiii. 1862.]
Blackwood was born in August, 1606 (Letter 16). Ivimey states ("History of Anabaptists," Vol. ii. p. 230), "It is not known where he received his education, but it is probable he was trained up at one of the universities." This conjecture proves correct, for he was admitted a sizar of Pembroke College, Cambridge, June 19, 1821 , at the age of thirteen, being the youngest son of William Blackwood, and was born in Yorkshire: he graduated B.A. 1624 [blurred - jd]. [It will be observed that this makes him two years younger.] He was curate of Rye, 1632-35, under Bryan Twyne, B.D., vicar, who is said to have spent most of his time at Oxford. Therefore the parochial duty must have devolved chiefly on Blackwood. His doctrine at this time seems to have been approvingly received by the Puritanical section of his flock, as I infer from the following passage in a letter (MS.) from Anne Petter* of Hever, January 23, 1632, to Anne, Samuel Jeake's mother, who was a person of decided piety: - "The two mayne things you know we desyred, the one you doe enjoy, too wit, Mr. Blackwood's ministerye: the Lord make you and the whole towne thankfull," &c. [op. cit.] From the time of his relinquishing the curacy of Rye to the date of his memorable appearance at Cranbrook, I can give no certain account of him, but am inclined to suppose that he may have followed the example of many other conscientious people who, about this time, left their native country to enjoy that freedom of religious opinion and worship on the shores of America, which was denied them here. I have ascertained that there was one Christopher Blackwood who about the year 1641 purchased land at Scituate, 25 miles from Boston, in New England, but sold it again 1642, preaching there in the meantime, and is supposed to have returned to England [ex inf. Judge Warren, of Boston, to W. Durrant Cooper, Esq., F.S.A., 1857.] Subsequently to the resignation of his charge at Staplehurst, namely, from 1646 to 1652, I trace him residing at Harden (Letters 1, 2, 4). From this place he addressed a letter of remonstrance to the Mayor and Jurats of Bye, who had, by the exercise of their authority, seized and imprisoned a poor man for the heinous offence of praying in the presence of a company assembled at a private house. This letter, the first of the series, is deserving of attentive perusal, as it puts the character of the writer before
* Anne Petter, of Hever, was probably of the family of George Petter, M.A. who wrote a "Commentary on St. Mark's Gospel," 2 Vols. fol. 1661, and died at Sevenoaks.
us, and we know not how to estimate too highly that boldness and Christian charity which led him to interpose between the powers of the law and that poor innocent victim of religious persecution. After his return from Ireland (Letter 8) we find him, in the year 1661, withdrawing into Holland, to avoid the persecutions consequent on the Restoration, and taking up his residence in Amsterdam (Letter 11): but he remained there only ten months, having had, as he writes (Letter 13), "severall crosse providences," and retraced his steps to Ireland, "to which place," he writes, "I had some tye of conscience as I judged obliging of me, which, though it be accompanied with many dangers and trialls, yet being, as I judge, in God's way, we intend, God assisting, to go towards Dublin:" and there he passed the remainder of his days, in the enjoyment of liberty of conscience. His death occurred in 1670. His will, a copy of which is subjoined, was proved in the Consistory Court of Dublin.
He was twice married. Of his first wife I have obtained no further particulars than her Christian name was Martha, and she was buried at Marden in 1646 (ex inf. Rev. J. Deedes). His second wife, who survived him, was Mary, daughter of Thomas and Mary Hartridge, of Pembury, Kent. His issue by these marriages was, so far as I have ascertained, as follows: - 1. Christopher, born Jan. 9, 1648-9 (Letter 15); apprenticed by his father in 1663, to Colonel Lawrence, an opulent merchant in Dublin; he died in 1685. 2. Timothy; established as a goldsmith in Dublin in 1664. 3. Phineas; who was sent to seek his fortune in New England, and ultimately settled in Virginia (Letters 14, 15). The two latter were probably sons by the first wife. 4. Mary.
Frances, Mrs. Blackwood's sister, married S. Jeake, sen., of Rye. Her marriage took place in 1651, and previous to its solemnization there were certain stipulations proposed, to which the bridegroom's assent was "readily granted." After stipulating for liberty of conscience to worship in her own manner, and certain conditions concerning temporal matters, the final clause runs thus: - "That you will be pleased, for as much as I see my sister Blackwood overburthened with young children, to let me keepe Mary Blackwood, her daughter, till we have children of our owne. Which things being by you subscribed, I trust I shall shew myselfe a loyall, loving, and dutifull wife." (Sussex Arch. Coll. Vol. xiii. p. 61.) Letters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in this series have reference to this marriage.
(To be continued.)
Original Letters, Hitherto Unpublished, of the Rev. Christopher Blackwood
Letter No. 1. Copy of the lre sent by Mr.
Ch. Blackwood to ye
Maior and Jurats of Rye,
1646. (From S. Jeake's MSS.)
[ye = the; yt = that; yor = your]
Gentlemen, - I am right sorry (and ye rather in this respect yt I have beene formerly a teacher unto you) that you or any of you should give one of ye first leading examples to imprison any of ye saints of God for conscience, as I heare you have imprisoned one Nicolas Woodman, now (as I heare) your prisoner, not for preaching, but for praying in ye presence of some of the saints met at Mr. Miller's house, for (if my informer faile not in his relation) Mr. Maior, as soone as he had done praying, came and tooke him away. I beseech you, Gentlemen, consider what is done: doth not Christ say (Matth. xviii. 6), Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which beleeve in me, it were better for him that a milstone were hanged about his necke, and yt he were drowned in ye depth of ye sea. If it be so dangerous to offend them consider what it is to imprison them: doth not ye Scripture say (Psalm cv. 15), touch not mine anointed, yt is, ye saints of God, for it was spoken of Israel long before they had any kings. Consider what a dangerous thing it is, to have so many of God's deare ones complaining to their ffather agst you! But perhaps you will say that you imprisoned this person upon ye Ordinance of ye 31 of December, for taking upon him to preach and expound the Scriptures in a publique place, being no ordained; to which I answer, first, it seemes to me he had not broken ye Ordinance a jot in yt he onely prayed and had not preached, when he was taken away; 2ndly, it seemes strange to me how a man's private house can be called a publique place, unless ye owner thereof do so appoint it, which I question in this case; besides, the words of the Ordinance are, yt all maiors and head officers of corporations are by all lawfull waies and meanes to prevent offences of this kind, and apprehend offenders, are give notice hereof to the Parliament. Now, whether it be a lawfull way or meanes for a head officer of a corporation to imprison in this kind agreeing with ye Great Charter of England, the Ordinance not expresseding ye same, though I will not tak upon me to determine, yet may it be a great quaerie. Or, if it be alleadge that it is a lawfull way to prevent an offence of this kind, to imprison ye person offending, yet I quaerie whethe this person were any such offender he onely praying, not preaching: or if it were lawfull for ye head office of corporacons so to do for a while yet it seemeth by ye Ordinance, that it ought to be onely so longe til notice could be given to ye House that thereupon a course may be taken for due punishment to be inflicted so that ye House of Commons by this Ordinance doth not leave ye power
of inflicting punishment in this case unto ye officers of corporacons, but onely leaves ye power of apprehension and of giving notice to them, and reserves ye power of inflicting punishment to themselves. This I am bold, under correction of better judgment, to signifie to you, that I take this to be the meaning of the Ordinance. Besides, these Scriptures, if any man seriously peruse them, though by them to be not swayed to practise accordingly, yet may they startle persons that shall lift up a hand against godly people for edifying one another in their holy faith by reading and paraphrasing upon ye Scripture. The Scriptures to be perused are these - Acts xi. 19. They which were scattered abroad upon ye psecution yt arose about Steven, travelled as farre as Phaenice and Cyprus, preaching the word; and who these psons were we may see (Acts viii. 1) - that is, they were the Church at Jerusalem, who were all scattered abroad, except the apostles, and what blessing they had upon their labours we may see (verse 21); the hand of ye Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to ye Lord. Another place (Phil. i. 14) where, many of ye brethren in ye Lord, he saith not, brethren in ye ministry, but brethren in ye Lord (which seemes to belong to any Christian brother which is able to speake to edifycation) were by Paul's bonds bold to speake ye word without feare: we see brethren in ye Lord speake ye word. Another place (1 Cor. iv. 15): Though you have ten thousand instructors, yet have you not many gathers; because, though a supposicon doth not give being to ye thing supposed, yet for to have drawne a supposicon altogether remote from a thing being, seemeth to me not to have beene so convincing to ye Corinthians. Another place (Ephesians iv. 10): He gave some to be evangelists, or in English, gospell-preachers, which, whether a pson being able to speake soul savingly come not under this kind, I leave to inquiry. Another place is Hebrews v. 12: When for the time you ought to be teachers you have need that one teach you againe which be ye first principles; so yt it seemeth that had those Hebrews profited according to the meanes, they had ought to have beene teachers and not learners of principles, as now they were. Another place is 3 John (6, 7 verses); it is said yt some of ye brethren for ye name of Christ's sake went forth, meaning, to preach, taking nothing of the Gentiles. But may some say, did not those brethren sinne herein? No, saith ye apostle; we ought to receive (not imprison) such, that we might be fellow-helpers to ye truth and not destroyers of it. Other places may no doubt be alleadged, where ye apostle speakes much of prophesy and exalting of it, warning not to despise it. Truly, gentlemen, these places, though they do not perhaps fully prevaile with any of you to be of this judgment, that gifted persons may exercise their gifts to mutual edification, yet I hope, God going along with them, they may so farre prevaile with you, that you may not dare to lift up a hand agst any pson for so doing.
It may be some person out of peculiar interest may move you to draw out yor swords (which you received from God onely for this end, to terrifie evill workes and for ye praise of them yt do good) against these men: but will this be able to bear you out in ye accon when you shall at ye great day be presented before ye pure eyes of God and angells?
Besides, what would you have those dissenting brethren ye cannot close with yor worships to do, as in point of infants baptisme, and other
matters? Would you have tliem to come to you? Herein should they deeply dissemble (their principles being such as they are) to psent themselves at a worship they judge or question; I meane, in that part wherein they so judge not to be of God, yea, which their soules love not: to get able and learned dispensers of their owne judgmt they know not (though they should be at charge) where to have thern; and to live without all mutual edification and exhortation, I quaestion much whether it be lawfull, whether it be not a quenching of ye Spirit: ye heart of man naturally is much inclining to hardnesse without some excitements. Besides, of all religions man's nature is alwaies most averse to that which he is haled to or driven by club-law. God's people are a willing people, which have a religion first wrought in their hearts, and then professed in their lives: ffor ye person imprisoned, he is, so farre as ever I saw by him, a man of godly life; and, for his abillities, I wish that hundreds of pish Churches (as they are called) had but one so able. Besides, ye man is a poore man, having a wife and children whose groanes cry for present reliefe, when their ffather, that shall provide for them lyes in a stinking prison, and cannot provide for himselfe. I know you may alleadge for yorselves, that ye zeale of God's house and a desire to suppress heresie moves you thereto; but it will be good for you to see whether you have light proportionall to yor heat, for want whereof ye disciples themselves called for fire from heaven, being led by a wrong spirit: for want whereof, some thought they did good sendee when they put his servants out of ye synagogue and killed them (John xvi. 2): yea, Paul was so zealous that he psecuted ye Church of God (Phil. iii. 6), and thought verily he ought to do many things contrary to ye name of Jesus (Acts xxvi. 9). In doubtfull cases it is alwaies safe to go ye way that tends to charity whereto a right informed zeale directs; now to suppress heresie, it must be effected not by swords: hereticks are to be admonished, and if stubborne to be rejected, and left to ye judgment of ye great day, where many doctrines that now by ye prevailing power of ye princes of ye earth are deemed orthodox, will then be found hereticall, and many doctrines now branded for hereticall will then be judged sound.
But if any one aske, what call have I, being a private pson, to write unto ye chief magistrates of a corporation, I answer, from Solomon, Proverbs xxiv. 11, 12. If those forbeare to deliver them that are drawne to death, and those that are ready to be slaine (as this poore man may be for anything I know by a long imprisonment having little to maintaine him save ye charity of others) if thou saiest, behold we know it not, doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth the soule, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his workes ? Besides, I looke upon the prisoner as a member of Christ, of whose body I believe myselfe to be a member, and if one member suffer, ye rest also suffer, let their private opinion be what it will. Besides, I look upon you, right worshipfull and beloved, as persons, in all or divers of whose affections I have formerly lived, and I am confident, setting my judgment about baptisme aside, I do yet live; and therefore supposing you unprejudiced against me, my advise may not altogether be despised; neither do I thinke that all of you, but some, did consent in this act. I am confident when you are breathing out your last breath, it will be no trouble
to your consciences that you have not imprisoned ye saints, though supposed in an error, seeing a man may he a right conscientious man, and yet God may hide that from him. So intreating ye release of this prisoner, and desiring a favourable eye upon the rest of ye godly living in the towne with you, though differing from you in judgment: hoping you will excuse ye length of my letter and favourably interpret ye expressions therein, which are intended out of no other than an hearty affection, I humbly take leave and rest -
Yor ohedient friend and servant, CHr Blackwood.
Marden, March 11th, 1646.
One objection presents it selfe since ye writing of my letter, which is, why do not those psons which professe a dissent in some one poynt, not present themselves with you in worships wherein they do accord? I answer, that overlooking many controverted principles in this case, as concerning ye matter of a Church, the calling of a minister, wherein a right good conscience may scruple; I suppose they would come to heare might they have liberty in Christian modesty to demand satisfaccon, if doctrines erronious or destructive should he delivered; and herein I cannot well see how they can be present and silent, but they shall either deny Christ by suffering a fundamental error to go for sound doctrine, when they are able to witness in ye behalfe of Christ and his truth; or else they shall be in danger to partake in the seducement of a whole congregation, when they by a word speaking were able to informe. But if any man say there is no such thing delivered among you, I answer, I know not what is delivered; but this I am sure of, that every Christian must have right habits in his heart, whether ever or never he bring them forth into act; and if a pson come with a right habit of protesting, and occasion offer it selfe that such a pson, unlesse he will sinne against his conscience, protest, unlesse ye congregacon shall give leave, no lesse then ye dread and power of affliction is like to attend such a pson."
The Ordinance herein alluded to is probably one of 26th April, 1645, that none should preach but ordained ministers, under which an order may have been addressed to mayors, &c. We trust that the corporate body of Rye were convinced of the illegality and injustice of their proceedings in this case; but there is no evidence of the effect produced upon them by Blackwood's remonstrance.
2. [To Samuel Jeakc] Lo. Sr. - Yors I received, both first and second together, with rules about the rule of three, for all wch with other yor favors I return? you many thankes. My sister remains as she was, in a negative posture, whose inclosed le I have herein sent. The great sticke as to me seameth, and truly the onely sticke, is feare and doubt about a good title about the things to be possessed from you, which, though to many others might seame a thing of nought, yet to her Its of that moment that shee cannot goe forward: for were ther but 2001i of just title, shee is of so humble minde, that I doe imagen shee would content herselfe, so far is shee from looking after great things (I speake as my own apprehentions.) I am sorrye that you should finde so troublesome busines hearein, but as or comforts so or troubles are appointed by God. The cause why you had no sooner an answer was, my forgetfulnes; for my sister went to London (where she tarried about a fortnight) and left
this to be sent to you. I met with a sure messenger of Rye three weeks agoe or therabouts, and forgot to give it to him, and since we had not an opportunity till tlus day. My wife desires to be remembred to you; no more at present, save that lam
Yor assured freind,
Marden, Septemr 3, 1650.
To my Loving and
much respected freind
Mr. Samuel Jeake
At his house in Rye Present.
3. [To his sister-in-law.]
Deare Sister, - I have sent yor lire ready for sealing. If you proceed on in finishing your marriage before I come backe, which I would counsell you to doe (especially if it be his desire) then let Mr. Jeake seale the joynture first to my Uncle John Hartridge for you, and then let him seale the bond: but if you see the bond be offensive to him, then it, for it is of no great moment where wee deale with honest persons, of which I judge him to be one: though I bee put in as feffee for you with my unckle,* yet if I could not come so soone as I desire and yor occation will require, yet will it be sufficient without me, if made over to my unckle: my praiers shall not be wanting for yor good success in yor busines. I have sent Goodye Darbye her virginall strings; they cost a shilling. If you should marrye before I come backe, yet would I not have you goe to Rye till my returne, if the Lord shall please to bring me backe: but if he should not bring me backe, the journey being long and my bodily strength weake, yet I
* His wife's uncle, John Hartridge.
hope wee shall meete and bee for ever with the Lord. Remember my warning, take heed of hardnes of heart in time of Prosperitie: endeavour to please him that shall be your husband, and dwell with him with an amiable meeknes and contentednes of minde, and doe not greeve his spirit with the least frowardnes: affections may be easilye lost but hardlye recovered: be courteous to all, and loving to saints in speciall: remember mine when I am dead for ther father's sake who loved you dearelye and would have showen more tokens of it had not outward straits stood in the way: follow yor latine still at spare times, when you are married. I thinke to bee onely three lord's dayes whither I goe, and then (if the lord will) to make my returne for Kent: man purposes but God determines: the extreame pressures that have lyen on me this yeare or two have something interrupted my communion with my God, but now I find him returning towards me in my antient way of acquaintance, for [which] I desire you to give thanks: keepe close with God: take heed the desire of the knowledge of the latine tongue doe not take of [off] yor heart from true pietye in your heart and life: is ther any thing like to Jesus Christ and Communion with him? The lord perfect that which I trust God hath begun in you, that you may be presented spotless at the comming of X. with exceeding joy. My dearest sister, farewell!
Yor assured loving Br till death, Ch. Blackwood. May 30,1651.
I am sorye that I could not tarye at home till yor busines was whollye pfected, but had I, I had in probability lost this present oppertunitye which providence seames to offer: and yor busines I count in a manner effected.
When I come back from my journey I thinke to pay Mary Streater what you owe her, but I dar not before for feare moneye should fall short, and I in a strange place: remember my kind love and respects to Mr. Jeake.
For my Deare Sister
ffrances Hartridge dd.
[From The Baptist Magazine, 1867, pp. 435-441. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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