Page images

began in such an exalted strain of moving elocution, that the heart of obdurate zeal was seen to melt, and the mind of superstition seemed to admit a ray of conviction. He made an admirable distinction between évidence as resting on facts, and as supported by malice and calumny. He laid before the assembly the whole tenor of his life and conduct, which he owned had been always open and unreserved. He justly observed, that the greatest and most holy men have been known to differ in points of specularion, with a view to distinguish truth, not to keep it concealed. And he then expressed a noble contempt of all his enemies, who would have induced him to retract the cause of religion and trath. He next entered on a high encomium upon Dr. John Huss; and declared he was ready to follow him in the glorious tract of martyrdom. He was (said Jerom) a good, just, and holy man, and very unwortliy of the death which he suffered. He knew him, from his youth upward, to be neither fornicator, drunkard, nor addicted to any kind of vice ; on the contrary, he was a chaste and sober man, and a faithful and true preacher of the blessed Gospel. - That, with respect to himself, whatsoever things Wickliffe and Huss had written, and especially against the pomp and pride of the the clergy, he would affirm to his latest breath, that they were holy and blessed men, and that nothing so much troubled his conscience as the sin, which he committed by his recantation in speaking against them, which recantation he utterly abjured and abhorred from the bottoin of his heast. He added, that he could not help saying, with his dying breath, it was certainly impious that the patrimony of the church, which was originally intended for ihe purpose of charity and universal

benevolence, should be prostituted to the lust of the flesh, i and the pride of the eye, in whores, feasts, foppish vest

Dents, and other reproaches to the name and profession of Christianity. The prisoner received many interruptions from the impertinence of some, and the inveteracy of others : but he answered every one with so much readiness, and vivacity of thought, that, at last, they were ashamed, and he was permitted to finish his defence. His voice was sweet, clear, and sonorous; pliable to captivate every ! passion, and able to conciliate every affection, which he knew bow to do with wonderful address. He was admired by his enemies, and coinpassionated by his friends : but he


received the same sentence that had been passed upon martyred friend ; and Poggius says, the assembly as demned him with great reluctance.

The same author tells us, that Jerom had two dayssa lowed for his recantation; and that the cardinal of Florenen used all the arguments he could for that effect, which were ineffectual. The divine was resolved to seal his doctrine with his blood; he could not be seduced to make another retractation ; and he suffered death on May 30, 1410 with all the magnanimity of Huss. He einbraced the stal to which he was fastened, with the peculiar malice of wel cords. When the executioner went behind him to set fort to the pile, “ Come here, said the martyr, and kindle : before iny eyes; for if I dreaded such a sight, I shout never have come to this place, when I had a free opporto nity to escape.” The fire was kindled, and he then suog a hymnn, which was soon finished by the encircling flames He cried out several times, “ In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meuin ;'' i. e. " Into thy hands, 01Lord, I commend iny spirit.” His last words, which which could be heard were, “ O Lord God, the Father Alınighty, have mercy upon me, and forgive all my sins: I thou knowest, with what sincerity, I have loved thy truth." He appeared to endure much by the fire for the space of a quarter of an hour, all the while seeming, by the inotion of his lips, to pray within himself. After he was dead, his bed, cloaths, and other things which he had with bim in prison, were thrown into the fire and consuined with bim. Finally, the ashes were gathered together, and cast 20:0 the river Rhine, which runs close by the city.

JESSEY, HENRY, was born at West Rowton, near Cleveland, in Yorkshire, Sept. 3, 1601, where his father was minister. He was carefully educated by his parents till he was seventeen years of age, when he went to John's College, Cambridge; where aster four years de ligent study, it pleased God to work a renewing change upon his heart, by the ministry of the word, whereby be was filled for the employment for which God designed him, and to which he himself was greatly inclined. Upor? the death of his father, who had supplied him according to his ability, he was so straitened as not to have above threepence a day; and yet so did he manage that sinall pittance)

as to spare part of it for hiring books. He continued six years in the university, and often used to recollect the benenit of his well-spent time there, with great thankfulness to God. He became well versed in the Hebrew tongue, and the writings of the Rabbies. He also understood Sya riac and Chaldee. He removed from Cambridge in 1624, (though he often went at term time till he took his degree of A. M.) and was first entertained by Mr. Brampton Gurdon, of Assington in Suffolk. In his family he conti. nued about nine years, improving his time well; and among other studies, applied himself to physic. In 1627 he took orders from the bishop, but was afterwards much concerned for the engagements which he thereby came under. He preached about the neighbourhood as he was invited, and distributed a number of good practical books among the poor. He had several offers of a settlement, listened to none of them, till in 1633 he was called to Aughton, nine miles from York, to succeed Mr. Alder, who was removed from thence for Nonconformity. Mr. Jessey was not likely to continue there long, since he durst not conform even so far as Mr. Alder had done. Accordingly the next year he was ejected for not using the ceremonies, and for taking down a crucifix. But he was not useless in God's vineyard, for sir M. Boynton, of Barneston, in Yorkshire, entertained him to preach there and at Rowsby, a place not far distant. In 1635 he removed with sir Matthew to London, and the next year to Hedgeley House, near Uxbridge, where he had not been long before be was earnestly import uned to take the charge of the congregation of which Mr. Henry Jacob and Mr. John Lathorp bad been pastors, which was gathered by Mr. Jacob, in 1616. After much consideration and prayer, though he had formed a design of going to New England, he accepted their call about Midsummer, 1637, and continued among them till his death. Some of his church becoining Baptists, left it the year after his settling among them; and soon afier, a greater number of persons, of considerable note, embraced the same opinion. This put Mr. Jessey upon studying the controversy, The result was, that he himself also altered his sentiments; but not without great deliberation, many prayers, and frequent conferences with pious and learned men of different persuasions. His first conviction was about the mode of baptism. Though he conVOL. III.--No. 53.

tinued * Mr. Neale, in his account of the matter, (which differs from the above) remarks, “Thus a foundation was laid for the first Baptist congregation I have met with in England." Compare Crosbie's Hist. Bapt. vol. I. p. 147, &c.

tinued two or three years to baptize children, he did it by immersionAbout 1644 the controversy about the subjects of baptişin was revived in his church, when several of them gave up infant baptism, as did Mr. Jessey himself.: How. ever, before he would absolutely determine on the point, and practise accordingly, he resolved to consult with several learned and judicious ministers, y. g. Dr. Goodwin, Mr. Nye, Mr. Burroughs, Mr. Craddock, &c. but these giving him no satisfaction, in June, 1645, he submitted to im. mersion, which was performed by Mr. Hanserd Knollys. And it proved no sinall honour and advantage to the Baptists to have such a man among them *. But notwithstanding his differing froin his brethren in this, or any other point, he maintained the same Christian love and charity to all saints, as before, not only as to friendly conversation, but also in regard to church communion, and took great pains to promote the same catholic spirit among others. He divided his labours in ihe ministry according to the catholicism of his principles. Every Lord's day afternoon he was among his own people. In the inorning he usually preached at St. George's Church, Southwark, and once in the week day at Ely House, and in the Savoy to the wounded soldiers. Besides his constant labours in the ministry, he took great pains for many years in making a new translation of the Bible, in which he called in the assistance of inany learned men at home and abroad. This he made the master-study of his life, and would often cry out, “ Oh that I might see this done before I die!” It was almost çompleated, but the great turn to public affairs, at the restoration, caused this noble design to prove abortive. To shew the necessity of amending the common translation, .he observed that, (as Dr. Hill declared in a great assembly,) archbishop Bancroft, who was a supervisor of this work, altered it in fourteen places to make it speak the prelatical language f. Mr. Jessey chose a single life, that he might be the more entirely devoted to his sacred work, and the better enabled to do good. Besides his own alms, he was a constant solicitor and agent for the poor with others, who, he knew, were able to supply their wants. For this end he always carried about with him a list of the names of the greatest objects of charity known to him, with their afflictions, necessities, and characters affixed. Above thirty families had all their subsistence from him. Nor did he limit his charity to those of his own congregation or opinion; he did good to all. And where he thought it no charity to give, he would lend, without interest or security. One of the most remarkable instances of his charity, which was perhaps without precedent, was that which he shewed to the poor Jews at Jerusalem, who, by reason of a war between the Swedes and Poles, (A. D. 1657,) were reduced to great extremity; their chief means of subsistence, from their rich brethren in other countries being cut off by reason of that war. Mr. Jessey collected for them three hundred pounds, and with it sent letters with a view to their conversion to Christianity; the copies of which may be seen in his life.

† Dr. Smith also, who was one of the translators of the Bible, who wrote the preface, and was afterwards bishop of Gloucester, complained to a minister of that county, of the archbishop's unwarrantable alterations. " But (says he) he is so potent, there is 110 contradicting him." ;

It is easy to suppose that a man of his character must be crowded with visitors of various kinds. He resolved how ever to have time for his devotions and studies; and as he hated idle talk and fruitless visits, he took all possible means to avoid them. One was this: he put over his study door, where he usually received his visitors, this writing: * Amice, quisquis huc ades; “Whatever friend comes hither, Aut agito paucis; aut abi; Dispatch in brief, or go, Aut me laborantem adjuva." Or help me busied too." H. J.

During the time that episcopacy was laid aside in En. gland Mr. Jessey was in high esteem, and free from the persecutions which the Baptists too generally suffered. But before and after that period, he shared the sufferings of the Vonconformists. On Feb. 21, 1637, he and a number of others being met together to worship God, the greatest part of thein were seized and carried away from Queen. bitbe by the bishop's pursuivants; and they met with the like disturbance, May following, in another place. In November, 1639, he was seni by the congregation into Wales to assist old Mr. Wroth, Mr. Craddock, and others, in gathering a church at Llanfaches in Moninouthshire. On April 21, 1640, he with a great number of the memH2


« PreviousContinue »