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1593

THE SEPARATISTS IN HOLLAND.

145

and cowered for refuge under the shelter afforded by the tolerant magistrates of Amsterdam.

The congre

Amsterdam.

The church thus planted did not prosper. It contained within itself many persons of piety and integrity; and one of its ministers, Henry Ainsworth, was distinguished gation at no less by the suavity of his disposition than by the depth of his learning. There were, however, too many amongst his congregation whose temper was hasty and unwise. The very self-assertion and independence of character which had made them Separatists, not unfrequently degenerated into an opinionativeness which augured ill for the peace of the community. It was peculiarly difficult to train to habits of mutual concession men who had already thrown off all restraints of custom and organization at home.

1604. Internal disputes.

Amongst such men causes of dispute were certain to arise. Francis Johnson, who was associated in the ministry with Ainsworth, had since his arrival married the widow of a merchant. The lady, who had a little more money than the other members of the congregation, gave great offence by what in that straitlaced community was considered the magnificence of her dress. Whenever she made her appearance she was pointed at as a disgraceful example of female vanity. She had adopted the fashion of the day in wearing cork heels to her shoes, and in stiffening her bodice with whalebone. A deputation accordingly waited upon Johnson, to complain of the bad example set by his wife. The poor man did not know what to do. In a strait between his wife and his congregation, he tried to compromise the dispute. The lady pleaded that it was impossible for her to spoil her dress by making any alterations in its shape. But she promised that, as soon as it was worn out, her new clothes should be cut so as to give satisfaction to the complainants. The congrega tion, however, was not to be bought off so cheaply as this, and this miserable dispute was only the commencement of a prolonged quarrel, of which glimpses are to be obtained from time to time in the fragmentary annals of the little community.

VOL. IV.

1 Bradford's Dialogue in Young's Chronicles, 446.

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borough congre

Two years later fresh seeds of contention were sown. In 1606 the Amsterdam Church was joined by a congregation 1606. which had emigrated from Gainsborough, under the Emigration min. guidance of their minister, John Smith.' He appears to have been a man of ability and eloquence, but of gation. a singular angularity of character. He had scarcely set foot in Amsterdam before he had quarrelled with the original emigrants. He finally adopted Baptist opinions, so far at least as to assert the necessity of the re-baptism of adults. Not being able, however, to satisfy himself as to the proper quarter in which to apply for the administration of the rite, he finally solved the difficulty by baptizing himself. He was not one in whose neighbourhood peace was likely to be found. The congregation which had followed him from England was infected by his spirit, and it speedily broke up, and came to nothing.2

Tolerance ance of the

These stories, which lost nothing when recounted by the champions of the English Church, did not promise well for the future of the Separatists. In truth, there was a fund and intoler of intolerance inextricably involved in these men's Separatists. opinions. The very principle upon which they had separated from the Church was calculated to foster a pharisaical spirit. Yet there were causes at work to draw them in an opposite direction. The theory that it was the duty of Christians to separate themselves from the profane and ungodly multitude led almost inevitably to the theory of the independence of each congregation so separated. The Roman Catholic, the Anglican, and the Presbyterian differed with respect to the principles upon which the Church ought to be organized; but they agreed in making that organization, whatever it might be, the central point of their system. To the Separatist, the one point of importance was, that a few faithful Christians had met together to strengthen one another with their mutual prayers and exhortations. He had, no doubt, a devout wish that others might be as pious as himself; but he was so far from entertaining a desire to compel them to join him against their will, that 1 Hunter, Founders of Plymouth Colony, 32.

2 Robinson, Works, iii. 168.

1603

RICHARD CLIFTON.

147

he would have regarded anyone who proposed such a course with the utmost horror. He would, therefore, be the first to take a stand against the prevalent belief that it was the duty of a Government to enforce conformity by penal legislation.

That, not without occasional relapses, the better principle became predominant was mainly the work of a little group of

1603. Clifton at Babworth.

Bradford.

men who had not yet made up their minds to forsake their native country, and of whom, as yet, the central figure was Richard Clifton, a man who is scarcely known to us, excepting by the influence which he exercised over others. At the end of Elizabeth's reign he was rector of Babworth, a village in the north-east corner of Nottinghamshire. He was devoted to his duties; and his earnestness attracted from the neighbouring villages all who were dissatisfied with the ministrations of their own parishes. Amongst these was William Bradford,2 at the time when James ascended the throne a mere boy of thirteen, whose early piety and precocious thoughtfulness seemed to mark him for future eminence. The walk over the fields to Babworth from his Yorkshire home at Austerfield was nine or ten miles, and this distance he regularly paced backwards and forwards whenever Clifton's voice was to be heard in the pulpit. On his way he passed through the village of Scrooby, with its old manorhouse, once a country seat of the Archbishops of York, but made over not long before by Archbishop Sandys, in a fit of nepotism, to his eldest son. It was now occupied by William Brewster, the postmaster of the place, which was a station on the great road to Scotland and the North.3 Brewster was a man of congenial temperament with Bradford, and doubtless took a kindly interest in the boy. He was not without experience of the world. He had been attached to the service of the Puritan Secretary, Davison, and had accompanied him when he visited the Netherlands in 1585, to receive the keys of the cautionary towns. Upon Davison's disgrace, Brewster had returned to Scrooby, his native village, where he obtained the appointment, which he held by means of the 1 Hunter, Founders of Plymouth, 40. 2 Ibid. 99.

Brewster.

3 Ibid. 66.

interest which he still retained at Court. He brought with him the strong Puritan opinions which he had imbibed in Davison's household; but there is every reason to believe that as long as Clifton was still preaching, he continued to regard himself as a member of the Church of England, and that, like many others in the neighbourhood, he made his way from time to time across the fields to Babworth.

1604. Clifton

Evil days were in store for the non-conforming clergy. Elizabeth and Whitgift had chastised them with whips, James and Bancroft would chastise them with scorpions. The millenary petition was rejected. Its supporters ejected. were driven with contumely from Hampton Court. The Canons of 1604 passed through Convocation and received the Royal assent. Conformity-thorough and unhesitating conformity-was to be the unbending rule of the English Church.

Like so many others, Clifton, it would seem, refused to comply with the requirements of the new reign. He was accordingly deprived of his rectory, and the voice was silenced which had sounded like the messenger of God to so many pious souls. To those to whom the parish church of Babworth had been as the gate of heaven, there was a void which nothing could replace. The system under which the preacher whom they loved had been driven from his pulpit, grew more odious to them every day. They saw in it faults which they had never seen before. A conviction, ripening as the weeks passed by, settled deeper and deeper in their minds, that the Church which counted amongst her children the formalist and the worldling, and which drove the Papist, under heavy penalties, to take a hypocritical part in her most solemn rites, but which could find no room for Clifton amongst her ministers, was already condemned of God.

But

1 There is no direct evidence of the date of Clifton's ejectment. Cotton (Magnalia Christi Americana, ii. 1, § 2) speaks of Bradford as reading the Scriptures at the age of twelve, and as subsequently attending Clifton's ministry. Bradford was twelve in 1602, and during the two following years James had not yet broken with the Puritans. Nor is it likely that Clifton could have escaped the clean sweep in the autumn of 1604, especially as we find him an ejected minister so soon afterwards.

1604

Norwich.

JOHN ROBINSON.

149

The blow which had fallen upon Clifton at Babworth, fell at Norwich upon a man of equal piety, but of far superior abilities. Robinson at John Robinson had long striven to do his duty with such an amount of compliance with the Prayer Book as the Puritan clergy were accustomed to render. When he was dismissed from his post, his heart clung to the Church, as the heart of Wesley clung to it a century and a half later. He entreated the magistrates of the city to grant him the mastership of the hospital, or at least to assign to him the lease of some premises in which he might continue to render spiritual aid to such of his old congregation as might be inclined to seek his assistance. Even this was denied him, and with a heavy heart he turned his steps towards Gainsborough, his native town.1

For two years after Clifton's expulsion, nothing is known of his proceedings, but it is certain that those who gathered round 1606. him grew more and more estranged from the Church. The congre- The line of demarcation between the ejected and gation at Scrooby. the ejectors was widening into an impassable gulf. It is by no means unlikely that Clifton and his friends placed themselves in communication with Smith and his Gainsborough congregation. At all events, when Smith emigrated in 1606, they determined to form themselves into a separate congrega. tion. Brewster readily offered his house at Scrooby for their meetings, and Clifton was, as a matter of course, chosen to be the pastor of the little flock.2 Robinson, who, as may safely be

'Hunter, Founders of Plymouth, 92. Hall, "Apology against the Brownists," Works, ix. 91. Ashton's Life of Robinson, prefixed to the collected edition of his works.

2 Morton (Memorial, 1) places the date of the formation of the Scrooby Church in 1602. But this is most improbable in itself, and is contradicted by the far better evidence of Bradford, who says :-" After they had continued together about a year, . . they resolved to get over into Holland" (History of New England, i. 10). Mr. Palfrey, indeed (ibid. i. 135, note 1) observes, that Bradford perhaps reckoned from the time of Robinson's joining the Church. But the more natural interpretation is corroborated by another passage. In speaking of Brewster's death, in April, 1643, Bradford says (Hist. 468), that he "had borne his part with this poor persecuted Church above thirty-six years," i.e. from the winter of 1606-7.

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