« PreviousContinue »
salvation and welfare. The kingdom of Antichrist is his government confirmed by the civil magistrate, whereby he abuseth the obedience of the people to keep his evil laws and customs to their own damnation. Separation of the open, wilful, or grievous offenders, is a dutifulness of the church in withholding from them the Christian communion and fellowship, by pronouncing and showing the covenant of Christian communion to be broken by their grievous wickedness, and that with mourning, fasting, and prayer for them, and denouncing God's judgments against them.
"The office of teaching and guiding is a charge or message committed by God unto those which have grace and gifts for the same, and thereto are tried and duly received of the people, to use their obedience in learning and keeping the laws of God.
"Eldership is a joining or partaking of the authority of elders, or forwardest and wisest, in a peaceable meeting, for redressing and deciding of matters in particular churches, and for counsel therein.
"A Pastor is a person having office and message of God, for exhorting and moving especially, and guiding accordingly for the which he is tried to be meet, and thereto is duly chosen by the church which calleth him, or received by obedience where he planteth the church. A Teacher of doctrine is a person having office and message of God, for teaching especially, and guiding accordingly, with
less gift to exhort and apply: for the which he is tried to be meet, and thereto is duly chosen by the church which calleth him, or received by obedience where he planteth the church. An Elder, or more forward in gift, is a person having office and message of God, for oversight and counsel, and redressing things amiss: for the which he is tried, etc.
"The Reliever [or Deacon] is a person having office of God, to provide, gather, and bestow the gifts and liberality of the church as there is need: to the which office he is tried and received as meet. The Widow is a person having office of God to pray for the church, and to visit and minister to those which are afflicted and distressed in the church for the which she is tried and received as meet.
"Civil Magistrates are persons authorized of God, and received by the consent or choice of the people, whether officers or subjects, or by birth and succession also, to make and execute laws by public agreement, to rule the commonwealth in all outward justice, and to maintain the right, welfare, and honor thereof, with outward power, bodily punishments, and civil forcing of men.
"The gathering of voices and consent of the People is a general inquiry who is meet to be chosen; when, first, it is appointed to them all, being duly assembled, to look out such persons among them; and then the number of the most which agree is taken by some of the wisest, with presenting and naming of the parties to be chosen, if none can
allege any cause or default against them. The Ordaining by some of the forwardest and wisest, is a pronouncing them with prayer and thanksgiving and laying on of hands (if such imposition of hands be not turned into pomp or superstition) that they are called and authorized of God, and received of their charge to that calling."
Another of Browne's books, published about this time, if not in connection with the above treatise, was entitled, "A Treatise on Reformation, without tarrying for any; and of the Wickedness of those Preachers who will not reform Themselves and their Charge, because they will tarry till the Magistrate command and compel them." The very title of this work shows the spirit of the man and of his treatise.
Robert Browne remained at Middleburgh only about two years, when difficulties of some kind arose between him and his church, and he left, with four or five families of his followers, for Dundee, Scotland. Harrison, with the bulk of the church, remained at Middleburgh, and lived and died in the faith for which he had suffered so much. From Dundee Browne went to St. Andrews, and thence to Edinburgh, where he arrived January 9th, 1581-5, and established himself and company at the head of the Canongate.t
* Hanbury, 1. 22; Masters' Hist. C. C. C. 253, says that "great care was taken to get this dispersed over England, which was probably the occasion of his being taken up on his return."
↑ Calderwood's History of the Kirk of Scotland, iv. 1, 2, 3; Wod
According to Calderwood, these people held "opinioun of separation from all kirks where excommunication was not vigorouslie used against open offenders not repenting. They would not admitt witnesses in baptism; and sindrie other opiniouns they had." Such heretical opinions, supposed or real, could not of course go unchallenged in Edinburgh. Accordingly, on Tuesday, January 14th, 1584-5, we find Browne before the session of the kirk of Edinburgh; where, it is said, "he made show, after an arrogant maner, that he would mainteane that witnesses [godfathers and godmothers] was not a thing indifferent, but simplie evill"; and where he was accused -falsely, of course-of affirming " that the soules died."
The session not being able to manage this "ringleader of the Brownists," he was next subjected to the inquisition of certain members perhaps a committee of the presbytery, on the 21st of the same month. To them he "alledged,
row Society's ed. Edinb. 1845; Hanbury, 1. 22, 172; McCrie's Life of Melville, 1. 324. Ainsworth's Counterpoyson (p. 24, ed. 1642) says to Bernard, "Mr. Harrison returned not unto your church of England, but died at Middleburgh, in the faith that we profess." King James I. in his "Basilikon Doron; or, His Majestie's Instruction to his dear Sonne, Henry the Prince," thus refers to this visit of Browne to Scotland: "Divers of them, as Browne, Penry, and others, having at sundrie times come into Scotland to sow their popple amongst us, (and from my heart I wish that they had left no Schollers behind them, who by their fruits will in the owne time be manifested)." — King James' Works, p. 143, folio, London,
that the whole discipline of Scotland was amisse, and that he and his companie were not subject to it, and therefore he would appeal from the kirk to the magistrat."
Seven days after this, Browne and his associates were called before the presbytery of Edinburgh. It proved a long, and no doubt a stormy session, being "continued until the morne." Browne was here called to defend the opinions expressed in his books, which had been carefully ransacked for the occasion by the presbytery. His books he acknowledged and defended. But he denied the authority of the presbytery to adjudicate upon his case, and appealed to the civil magistrate. This seems to have prevented the ecclesiastical courts from proceeding any further than to raise a committee to present charges against Browne before the king. But here the matter ended; for the court, according to Calderwood, "enterteand and fostered" Browne's opinions "to molest the kirk"; and he was allowed to go unpunished, and, so far as appears,
* Mc Crie, in his Life of Andrew Melville, gives the following account of Browne's visit to Scotland: "In the year 1584, Robert Brown, the founder of the sect of Brownists in England, came into Scotland with a number of followers. Having taken up his residence in the Canongate of Edinburgh, he began to disseminate his peculiar opinions, and to circulate writings in which all the reformed churches were stigmatized as unscriptural and antichristian societies. The court took this rigid sectary under their protection, and encouraged him, for no other conceivable reason than his exclaiming against the ministers, and calling in question their authority."— Vol. 1. pp. 325-26, 8vo. Edinb. 1819; Hanbury, 1. 22.