Gary Brady’s book of 165 pages purports to give the background of 2,000 ministers who rebelled against the Church of England’s and the King’s authority in 1662 and suffered under a Parliament that had no respect either for the one nor the other. Anti-Dissenting laws formerly enforced against the Church of England by the Commission of Ejectors under Cromwell’s Commonwealth Councils were now applied to a minority who rejected the restored Church. In order to understand the fate of all these 17 century Dissenters from different parties, it is necessary to trace the persecutions back to their roots during Mary’s bloody reign and throughout the reigns of Elizabeth, James, Charles I, Cromwell and Charles II.

     Brady starts his history of Puritanism strangely in British prisons and alehouses moving on to Tudor times and ‘The Hotter Sort of Protestant’ alias the Church of England Reformers who built their Church on sound doctrine, tolerance and Protestant unity. After the Elizabethan Settlement, Brady shifts his definition of ‘Puritan’ from the Reformed Church of England’s founding fathers to a few Congregationalists who rejected her discipline and order, though not doctrines, and departed to the New World. He also paints a brief and negative portrait of James I, not commenting on his European leadership in inter-Puritan matters such as the Synod of Dort, the removal of Arminian Professors in European universities and his Protestant support in the Imperial wars. This is rather strange as his Church of ‘Hotter Puritans’ had been sending out solid Reformed missionaries to the New World since the turn of the century and the ‘hotter Puritan Protestant’ Anglican John Eliot, who sailed for North America in 1631 was one of the greatest missionaries of all time. From James’ time on, thousands of staunch Church of England Puritan, Protestant, Evangelicals moved out to the colonies and Continental Europe founding sound churches. The Protestant Continent valued James, Charles and the Church of England as the main bulwark against Rome’s threats. Brady’s subsequent caricature of Charles I, Laud and the Church of England appear to be taken from Presbyterian William Prynne’s forged writings, though both Charles and Cromwell imprisoned Prynne for his crimes. Why has Brady not put William Prynne’s works in his Bibliography, including his forgeries and his thousand-paged works dealing with bawdy subjects? One cannot rely on spotters to write Christian history.

     Thus, when Brady comes to the true Great Ejection of some ten-thousand Anglican ministers, university scholars and teachers during the Great Rebellion, his bias is overwhelming. He merely says that Anglicans were removed from office in 1654, forgetting those removed in 1642/3 and 1645 to 1656 and not mentioning the horrible, persecuting work of the Commission for the Ejection of Anglican ministers. He claims ‘Most such sequestered men were utterly unworthy of their office’, meaning Usher, Hall, Morton, Bedell, Ward, Balcanqual and many other ‘Hotter Puritans’ who proved to be the backbone of the Synod of Dort. 1 Daniel Neal reveals to us that this ‘unworthiness’ grew from the fact that they were peace-loving Episcopalians who believed Rebellion was wrong. Brady skips over the terrible regicide with its tragic results for Britain with the words, ‘Charles I was beheaded’, 2 Nevertheless, Anglican Puritans, though persecuted, kept up a Reformed, Puritan witness throughout the Commonwealth period, rallying many Dissenters around them.

     Brady mentions the bad treatment meted out to Baptists, the execution of Presbyterians and severe crimes committed against Anglicans, now forced into Dissent but does not appear to accept this as the persecution it most surely was. He concentrates rather on a minority of ministers who rejected the most generous invitation to keep their usurped churches after the Restoration but does not explain in what way they differed from the other 9,000 unordained Dissenters who gladly accepted livings and parishes in the Church of England between 1660 and 1662. Most of Brady’s thirty or forty Baptists in usurped livings were persecuted by other Dissenters but not ejected, leaving voluntarily in the 1650s. Brady’s hero Richard Baxter was as intolerant as they come and a fanatical critic of Baptists and anyone who disagreed with him and his theology differed greatly from Brady’s staunchly Calvinistic position. Baptist historian W.T. Whitley claims that ‘Bartholomew’s Day’, the anniversary of the outlawing of the Prayer Book in 1645 and the day of its restoration in 1662, ‘had scarcely anything to do with the Baptists’. Whitley also affirms that the 1662 Act reversed what the Presbyterians had forced through almost 20 years previously on Bartholomew’s Day.

     The King’s recall was chiefly a Dissenting project. They sent a denominationally mixed delegation to the Netherlands led by a Baptist inviting the King to reclaim his throne when the Church of England was still outlawed. Brady ignores this Dissenting action blaming the recall on General Monck’s Scottish armies. 3 4 Cromwell had originally appealed to these armies, then under the King’s cousin Leslie, to come to England and place the Word of God on England’s throne – by force. When Colonel Pride purged Parliament of the Presbyterians, they promised to support Charles II if he restored them. Charles agreed but the Presbyterians broke their word. When re-established, they rejected Charles’ peace proposals and put pressure on him to enforce their notorious Bartholomew’s Day Directory of 1645 which had brought with it intensified persecutions against the English Church. Charles answered that he would neither give up Church nor Prayer Book as they were Britain’s defence against Rome. Most Continental Protestant Churches agreed and thus supported Charles after dancing in the streets when ‘King-Killer’ Cromwell died.

     Chapter Three deals with the end of Brady’s ‘Puritan Dream’ and the lead-up to the Act of Uniformity of 1662. Here Brady lays a false track claiming that one of the four main religious bodies in England at the close of the Commonwealth was the Church of Rome with which he starts his survey. This does not say much for Cromwell’s ‘Model Puritan Church’ of Dissenters who were, as the Savoy Conference shows, often very High-Church and held Tridentine beliefs including their anathemas. However, the twelve Dissenters present at the Conference alongside the same number of traditionalists were not representative and the bulk of Dissenters certainly were not lovers of Rome. Sadly, even Reformed Dissenters cut off their noses to spite their faces and opposed Charles’ plans for toleration believing religious freedom would help Roman Catholics to regain power.

     Brady’s comments on the Congregationalists are confused and he includes Baptists and the Engagement churches under this faulty heading. Brady claims Baxter wanted a church ‘in sole dependence of the King’ 5 but Baxter was co-founder of the nation-wide Engagement churches which rejected Anglicanism in the 1650s, wanting to worship ‘without a King and the House of Lords’. In spite of this affront to Royalty, Charles made Baxter and Calamy bishops, titles they carried for some time. Baxter begged the King to make other ‘Dissenters’ bishops and chaplains. John Gauden took this opportunity and became a pain in the neck to Anglicanism for his grasping nature. Brady claims ‘most Puritans were by this time Presbyterians’, which is equally inaccurate. Presbyterianism was already on the decline and Baxter declared that the only trustworthy Presbyter was Adoniram Byfield, the minute-keeper of the Westminster Assembly. This is why Cromwell appointed Byfield and John Durie, the Westminster Standards compiler, to carry on with the Westminster Catechisms when the Presbyterians pulled out. Most men counted ‘Puritans’ by Presbyterians today were actually Independents and dubbed ‘Malignants’ or ‘Protestants’ by Presbyterians in the 17th century.

     Rather than seek comprehension in the Church of England as Brady claims, the Presbyterians demanded the abolition of Episcopalianism and a Knoxian form of Communion as in the intolerant days of their power. Archbishops Abbot and Laud had accepted Presbyterian (Laud with reservations), Lutheran and French Reformed ordination and had fostered European inter-Protestant union like Cranmer, but no such ‘comprehension’ existed amongst the Presbyterians. Charles permitted a joint Church rule of Episcopalians and Presbyterians in Scotland but the Presbyterians protested not the Anglicans. So, Brady’s description of the Episcopalians as those who often ‘held Puritanism in contempt and hated Presbyterianism’ 6 needs a good deal of qualification. The contemporary Hartlib Papers name very many Dissenting Puritans who worked closely with Episcopalian Puritans and followed their leadership. Baptist Trier Edward Cresset castigated Baptist Henry Jessey, who shared the Savoy pulpit with Anglican Thomas Fuller for dealing with Durie’s circle and stopped the latter’s salary, throwing him into great debt. However, the writings of Usher, Durie, Davenant and Hall were successful in gaining acceptance for Cromwell’s short-lived policy of Protestant union throughout Europe. In his antagonism against the Established Church, Brady appears to rely on would-be Baptist Thomas Crosby who was excommunicated from two Baptist churches for fiddling the books and other crimes and confessed that his antagonism to the Church of England was because they were too strict in church discipline!

     Next, 7 Brady discusses Charles’ character, suggesting that he was led astray by intolerant friends. Brady’s evidence points rather to inner-Dissenting squabbles and a stubborn Parliament which thwarted Charles’ reforms. Brady castigates the bishops who proved more Scripturally-minded and Reformed than the Dissenters at the Savoy Conference. Many of them came from Dissenting backgrounds, one of their number, John Tillotson, becoming Archbishop. Indeed, the year 1662 ushered in a Dissenting take-over of the Church of England which left its deep stamp both positively and negatively. Richard Hooker in his great work on ecclesiastical policy protested against the large number of patrons who side-stepped Convocation through their rebel politics and theologies and appointed ‘Dissenting’ bishops. Such patronages still trouble our denominations today. Hooker’s plea for Episcopal reforms were more Biblically argued than anything his opponents Travers and Cartwright could pen and he was far less High-Church than such pioneer Dissenting Hyper-Calvinists. Brady’s description of Sheldon and the Savoy Conference leaves much to be desired. His unbalanced summary is based on Neal’s already cut-down version, not the original records. He confuses amendments proposed with conclusions. However, Brady confesses that a good percentage of the Savoy Conference Dissenters and their assistants accepted the Act of Uniformity.

     The fourth chapter gallops through Brady’s title-subject ‘1662’ and the Act of Uniformity admitting the ‘two thousand ministers’ is an overstatement because they include those who ‘jumped rather than waiting to be pushed’ 8 and men in education. Nevertheless, he believes some 20 per cent of usurping Dissenting clergy opted out in 1662 plus/minus several years. My research, based on 1662 alone, makes this much less, depending on how one estimates the number of Church of England ministers in 1642 and how many in 1662. I go out from over 10,000. Brady says Parliament closed its ears to Charles’ plea for toleration, but departs radically from historical objectivity by likening the Act of Uniformity to the papist persecutions of French Protestants on Bartholomew’s Day, 24 August 1572. However, at the introduction of the Usurpation’s State Constitution of 1643, The Solemn League and Covenant and the return to religio-political Judaic case-law, the Church of England was outlawed. The Prayer Book was banned on January 3, 1644 leaving England with no united worship. On Bartholomew’s Day August 24, 1645, Parliament replaced the Protestant Prayer Book by the State Directory of Public Worship for England, Scotland and Ireland and persecution was savagely intensified.

     Parliament ruled that Prayer Book users both public and private would be fined five pounds; ten for the second offence; a year’s imprisonment without bail for the third with a further forty shilling fine added for not using the Directory. Terrible penalties were added for not signing the Solemn League and Covenant. Like her French Protestant brethren, whose ordination Laud accepted, the Protestant Reformed Church of England was forced to worship underground. Ministers and scholars were deprived of their livings and teaching posts; their goods and property were confiscated; they were outlawed, deported as slaves, hounded to death, fettered in dark, unventilated ships’ holds or imprisoned with no trial. Even true Puritan Presbyterians like Christopher Love were executed for looking forward to more tolerant post-Cromwellian times. The Commons passed a bill on October 13, 1647 declaring nation-wide liberty of worship, but added: ‘their indulgence shall not extend to tolerate the use of the Book of Common Prayer in any place whatsoever. They then abolished celebrations of Christ’s birth, His atoning death and Pentecost. This blow against the Christian faith was hypocritically called, ‘Setting up Christ and the Kingdom’ and the armies of anti-royal nobility used to punish the faithful. The King and Archbishop of Canterbury were illegally condemned and martyred.

     A bogus Liberty Act was passed in February 1654/55 promising Dissenters protection. In reality this meant Church of England ministers caught preaching, administering the sacraments, or marrying persons were imprisoned for three to six months and banished if they persisted. Anglican ministers, college professors, fellows and teachers were forbidden to tutor students and children and their colleges and schools closed down. Commissioners and Triers for appointing preachers, such as Baptist Edward Cresset, were called persecuting Inquisitors by Hall and Sadler. Baptist Triers Jessey and Tombes were prepared to shut an eye. On June 29, 1661, a bill for the ‘Uniformity of Public Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments’ was read in Parliament, restoring the Prayer Book and repealing anti-Dissenting laws. Minor corrections followed but the bill was finally passed on May 19th, 1662 to be implemented on August 24th, Bartholomew’s Day, restoring the Protestant piety which Presbyterian persecution had sought to smother on that very anniversary seventeen years before.

     Dissenters have always stressed that the Church of England showed great evil in causing the Act of Uniformity to be implemented on Bartholomew’s Day, the anniversary of the severe wrong done to Church of England Protestants at the hand of usurping Dissenters in 1645. They will not accept that on Bartholomew’s Day, 1662 great wrong was put right. Nor will they take responsibility for having persecuted the saints themselves for nigh twenty years. Indeed, their own guilt as persecutors during the Commonwealth Usurpation is shamefully ignored and seen as a Divine right of conquest and political necessity. Thus Brady, like Coleman before him, ignores fully the heinous crimes against Anglicans during the Commonwealth period and the positive historical fact that there was an enormous and joyful influx of Dissenting ministers into the restored Protestant Church of England on Bartholomew’s Day, 1662.

     After acknowledging that Parliament enforced intolerance and not the King and the Church of England, Brady describes laws formerly passed by the Great Rebellion to persecute the Church of England now used against the new Dissenters. What powers Parliament grasps at, it keeps. Parliament, assisted by anti-royal Dissenters, claimed that the King had no powers to grant toleration and that Parliament should act in its own name. Thus, though Charles proclaimed freedom for the Dissenters to take out preaching licences and found churches, Parliament answered with their notorious Test Acts. Now Cromwell’s Code became ‘Clarendon’s Code’.

     The following two chapters list names of allegedly 2,000 ‘ejected’ Dissenting ministers. Many were not ministers and others had nothing to do with the Church of England or conformed later, so why list them? He gives no evidence for many allegedly ‘ejected’ and includes names of those who certainly were not. When necessary deductions are made, Brady’s list comes nearer the more conservative estimate of some eight hundred rejecters as quoted in the oldest sources. Furthermore, how could men who Brady claims called the Book of Common Prayer an idol remain in a Church they abhorred? Besides, many post-1662 Dissenters still used the Prayer Book like Baxter for public and private prayers and many still do! Furthermore, how could ministers accept the Reformed Thirty-Nine Articles when they were avowed Universalists, Socinians etc. and rejected all Reformed tenets? Many Dissenting churches remained unmolested and few godly ministers had lasting problems. Brady also includes the names of alleged Dissenters who continued to attend Anglican worship and others who took occasional communion. Nor does Brady discern between godly ministers who served their congregations faithfully throughout the Usurpation and the ungodly usurping ministers who took over livings and salaries for either political, social or financial reasons. Indeed, a number took over derelict churches on realising that the King was returning so as to fight against Episcopalianism ‘from within the fold’. Nor does Brady deduct all the Americans who came over temporally to fill a need, never intending to stay. Brady also does not account for the mechanics and craftsmen who were happy to continue their trades after 1662.  Likewise, Brady fails to distinguish between those pastors who pastored Dissenting churches (but not in Anglican buildings) before 1662 who were left unmolested in them and Dissenting pastors who had usurped a Church but had to leave when the rightful incumbent returned. Indeed, he mentions Gilbert Burnet’s solid works on these times where it suits him but does not quote Burnet where he gives examples of Dissenters well-treated by both Church and King.

     Much persecution under the Conventicle acts were due to the new race of local magistrates given powers under Cromwell and laws which permitted Dissenter Judge Jeffries such brutal freedom. These had become used to condemning, fining and imprisoning people for the most threadbare reasons in order to fill their own pockets. When early Baptists, still under the Independent fold, were arrested by ignorant magistrates, they complained to the King through such friends of Charles as Baptist William Kiffin who gave the King a gift of £10,000. Thus Baptist church historian Underwood states that where the King heard of misuse of ‘imprisonment at the King’s pleasure’, he freed the innocent Dissenters. Re-ordination was not universally enforced in the many Continental and Colonial churches where Dissenting ministers had thrust out ministers under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Indeed, Brady leaves out the hundreds of Anglican and Episcopalian churches world-wide completely out of his overview and statistics.

     Unlike Calamy, Brady ignores cases of Dissenters sequestered by Dissenters at the time and is silent concerning the staunch Anglicans deposed by a King who wished to rid the Church of all who hob-nobbed with Cromwell, such as John Durie. Indeed, Brady, to be fair to the full 17th  century picture, ought to have described the far more numerous persecutions meted out to the outlawed Church of England by a Dissenting church and government. John Walker’s Numbers and Sufferings of the Clergy of the Church of England presented to Convocation in 1714 has never been seriously challenged, not even by Neal. Walker tackles the ‘goodies’ and the ‘baddies’ in the Church whereas Calamy, followed by Brady, merely paints idealised pictures. Nor does Brady consider the fact that as soon as Charles II returned to England, he removed the legal shackles of the totalitarian ‘Solemn League and Covenant’ with the help of Dissenters and had an Act passed ‘for the confirming and restoring of ministers’ which generously kept usurping ministers in parishes where the incumbent had died or voluntarily resigned and restoring those clergy still alive who were ejected illegally.

     For the rest of his book, Brady deals with the hardships of Dissenters in subsequent generations, separating them from similar hardships suffered by their Anglican brethren. Again, he makes the Church of England responsible though both Dissenters and Churchmen fought for justice together here as illustrated in Cowper’s poetry condemning Parliament’s Test Act and wishing both the dipped and sprinkled peace. Brady ends his book with a plea to end communal praise and worship and turn churches into mere lecture halls and preaching factories. No wonder he rejects the Book of Common Prayer which provides for an all-round, balanced, joint-worship of prayer, praise, fellowship and hearing the Word of God throughout.

     Brady does not describe the nature of Dissent and why the minority of united Dissenters (Brady’s picture) split up into so many different church bodies with all their doctrinal chaos. True, the Church of England is herself in a terrible mess today, like the Baptists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians, but she still has her Articles and Prayer Book to turn back to, whereas the many Free Church constitutions separating church from church are full of externals making modes of baptism, the alcohol content of wine and church hierarchies excuses to call one another ‘heretics’.

     Brady, in his black and while thinking, overlooks the fact that the Church of England was forced into a Dissenting position from 1642 to 1662; the Independents from 1643 to 1645; the Presbyterians on and off from 1648 to 1660 and the Baptists on and off from 1643-1660. Nor does Brady strive to explain why Anglicans, Independents and Baptists were all called ‘Malignants’ by persecuting Presbyterians up to 1648 and Independents looked upon Presbyterians and Anglicans as ‘Malignants’ after 1648.

     Brady’s book is badly researched. Necessary documents such as the Calendar of State Papers; the Common’s Journals: the Thurloe Papers; Gardiner’s Constitutional Documents, Cardwell’s History of Prayer Book Conferences, the Hartlib Papers; Byfield’s Assembly Minutes; Walker’s and Shaw’s records; Burnet’s, Durie’s, Laud’s, Prynne’s and Fuller’s eye-witness accounts and the Bodleian Library’s Special Collections are ignored as also Hooker, Strype, Benton, Huntington, Butler, Parker, Blunt, Tatham, Barnett-Smith and other standard works. Not one of the 29,000 pamphlets written during these turbulent times appears to have been consulted, though Brady has used Bayne. Brady cites Calamy (the Elder) and Baxter, as Dissenting spokesmen, but they argued theologically against most Dissenters and were opposed staunchly by them at the Savoy Hospital. Though Brady lists Evelyn as a source he ignores Evelyn’s sound assessment of the Dissenting situation. Brady has added English politician Clarendon and Scotsman Gilbert Burnet to his list of books consulted, but Clarendon was no theologian or minister and Burnet wrote from a strong background of Scottish affairs which differed widely from those in England as Presbyterians enjoyed rights there that were the envy of English Dissent. Brady has peeped into Neal who blames the King’s side for rejecting Baxter’s proposals but it was the Dissenters’ own sixty written objections to it that removed it from the bargaining table. Neal wanted more from the Dissenters, complaining they did not have the guts to stand up for themselves. 9

Finally, Brady has provided neither footnotes nor indices. One can dispense with footnotes in essays and reviews cramped into limited space but in a work of this importance, they are indispensable. Brady leaves most of his ideas, whether good or bad, unverified.

 


Notes:

  1. Page 50.
  2. Page 36.
  3. Page 39.
  4. History of British Baptists, pages 113 and 160.
  5. Page 43.
  6. Page 44.
  7. Page 44 ff.
  8. Page 62.
  9. See Neal, vol. iii, p. 84. ff.