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This letter procured the release of the zealous young Separatist, though he was ordered to leave the diocese. This he probably did immediately, but only for a very short time; for, on the 2d of August of the same year, Freke wrote again to Burleigh, complaining that Browne had unexpectedly returned to the diocese, and was busily undoing all that the Church and State authorities had done towards suppressing his dangerous doctrines, "having," he says, "private meetings in suche close and secrett manner, as that I know not possible how to suppresse the same." The bishop also complains that " gentlemen in Suffolk, about Bury," countenanced these proceedings, " in winking at, if not of pollicie procuring, the disordered sort to go forwards in their evil attemptes, and discouraging the staid and wiser sorte of preachers"; and he earnestly prays his lordship's help in suppressing Browne especially.*
The names of some of these respected backers of Browne and his associates are given by Strype as Sir Robert Jermin, Sir John Higham, knights; Robert Ashfield and Thomas Badby, esquires. Bishop Freke was so vexed by the conduct of these upright, conscientious magistrates — who are represented as carrying all before them "in their countenancing of these disaffected persons to the order and discipline of the church" that he "ap
* Wright's Original Letters, vol. 11. pp. 145–46; Hanbury, 1. 20, note; Strype's Annals, vol. 111. pt. 1. p. 23.
pealed to the lord treasurer in a series of charges against them, and got them summoned to London to answer." They were charged with giving countenance to disobedient and disorderly men, particularly with favoring Coppin and Tyler, and with refusing divers ministers ordained by the bishop, because they were ignorant and could not read. They were accused of being for nothing but Geneva psalms and sermons; with endeavoring to remove one Wood, a minister, from his living, because he only read, and putting the parish upon choosing another; with joining their authority together against the commissary, Dr. Day or Daye, and threatening to send him to jail, using violent speeches against him, and binding him over to his good behavior; and, finally, with binding over a Mr. Phillips, for a sermon preached at Bury, to make his appearance before them. To these charges the magistrates answered with considerable tartness, and with so much reason as to satisfy the court, and defeat the bishop and his commissary, and to make his lordship very willing to leave the diocese at the earliest opportunity.*
On Browne's second appearance at Bury, Sir Robert Jermin, a sober, kindly man with a strong leaning towards puritanism, "sent for him, and moved him to be careful of his proceedings. He told him how dangerous his cause seemed in the opinion of many honest and godly men; and how
* Strype's Annals, vol. 111. pt. 1. pp. 21, 22, and Appendix No. 8.
apt the adversary of truth would be to slander and discredit the profession and professors of the truth, if these his singular conceits might not be warranted by the Word and Christian policy." To this Browne answered "many things that were godly and reasonable, and to be wished and prayed for; but other things, strange and unheard," and, as Sir Robert thought, "over dangerous to be retained in opinion." These strange and dangerous things Strype tells us related to the "setting up a new discipline, and overthrowing the present established church government by episcopacy." But notwithstanding Sir Robert's caution, and the bishop's efforts, Browne, with an assistant, Richard or Robert Harrison, a schoolmaster, diligently and successfully employed himself in preaching and gathering Separatist churches in the vicinity. This has been called "the first gathering of churches, the first schism which appeared in England." But it was by no means so. There were many "gatherings of churches" before this.* Among others, he drew around him a considerable number of Dutch immigrants, who were very numerous in Norwich.t
* Annals, vol. 111. pt. 1. p. 30.
See Appendix, Note A.
↑ Brook, 11. 367; Collier, v11. 2; Heylyn, 256; Neal, 1. 376; Strype's Parker, 11. 69. Collier says: "Browne made his first essay [towards proselyting] upon three Dutchmen.” And Fuller says: “The city of Norwich, a place which then spake little more than medietatem linguæ, having almost as many Dutch strangers as English natives inhabiting therein."-Ch. Hist. bk. 1x. sect. 6. Heylyn says: "Of each nation [Dutch and English] he began to gather churches
But after about a year, finding the bishop and the commissioners intent on his arrest, he left England, accompanied by Harrison and a number of his Dutch friends, and went to Zealand, better known since as the fatal island of Walcheren, and settled at Middleburgh. Here he organized a church, and in 1582 published a book explanatory of his system of church order, entitled, " A Book which showeth the Life and Manners of all true Christians, etc. Also the Points and Parts of all Divinity," etc. This was a quarto of one hundred and twelve pages, arranged in tabular form, under the following heads: "The State of Christians," "The State of Heathen," "The Anti-Christian State," "The Jewish State."
to himself, of the last especially."-p. 256. Masters says: "Robert Harrison, who took the degree of A. B. in 1567, and that of A. M. in 1572, was, I have scarce any doubt, the person so strongly recommended to the mayor and aldermen of Norwich by their bishop for the mastership of Aylsham School the year following. He was a married man, who lived there, and was allowed to be the best qualified for it of any of the candidates in regard to learning; but seems afterwards to have acquired great fame among the puritans, and to have been concerned with Browne in setting forth that book which gave rise to his sect."-Hist. C. C. C. 309.
*Hanbury, 1. 19, 20. Strype says that Tho. Gybson, a bookbinder in Bury, had printed Browne's books as early as 1582. Whether he had done this at Bury or had accompanied Browne to Zealand, does not appear. - Annals, vol. 111. pt. 1. p. 177; Life of Parker, 11. 69. Masters says this book was "thought to be a curious and well-wrote piece."- Hist. C. C. C. 253. See a sample of this singular book, in tabular form, in the Biographia Britannica, art. Brown.
The following extracts, for which we are indebted to. Mr. Hanbury's researches there being debut one perfect copy known to be extant serve to be quoted, as presenting the earliest and fullest development of Congregational principles in Elizabeth's reign:
"The New Testament, which is called the Gospel, or glad tidings, is a joyful and plain declaring and teaching, by a due message, of the remedy of our miseries through Christ our Redeemer, who is come in the flesh, a Saviour unto those which worthily receive this message, and hath fulfilled the old ceremonies. Our calling, in plainer manner, is when the means which move us to seek Christ are clear to the conscience, without the outward shadows and ceremonies thereof.
"The Church planted or gathered, is a company or number of Christians or believers, which, by a willing covenant made with their God, are under the government of God and Christ, and keep his laws in one holy communion: because Christ hath redeemed them unto holiness and happiness forever, from which they were fallen by the sin of Adam. The Church government is the lordship of Christ in the communion of his offices, whereby his people obey to his will, and have mutual use of their graces and callings, to further their godliness and welfare.
"The kingdom of Christ is his office of government, whereby he useth the obedience of his people to keep his laws and commandments, to their