Brooks - BX9338 .B7 1813 v1

rl 34 INTRODUCTION. It then exposes with some degree of sharpness the corrup- tions of the church, and the proceedings of the bishops. The admonition then concludes, by petitioning the houses, that discipline, more consonant to the word of God, and more agreeable to other reformed churches, may be esta- blished by law. Mr. Field and Mr. Wilcocks presented it themselves to the house, for which they were apprehended, and sent to Newgate, where they remained in close and miserableconfinement at least fifteen months. While the authors were thus prosecuted, the book spread abroad, and soon passed through several editions.. The leading puritans having presented their numerous petitions to the queen, the bishops, and the parliament, to little or nopurpose, agreed to attempt to promote the desired reformation in a more private way. For this purpose, they erected a presbytery at Wandsworth, near London. The members of this association were Messrs. Smith, Crane, Field, Wilcocks, Standen, Jackson, Bonham, Saintloc, and Edmunds ; to whom were afterwards joined Messrs. Travers, Clarke, Barber, Gardiner, Cheston, Crook, Egerton, and a number of respectable laymen. Eleven elders were chosen, and their offices described in a register, entitled " The Orders ofWandsworth." This was the first presby- terian church in England. Notwithstanding that all ima- ginable care was taken to keep their proceedings secret, the bishops' eyes were upon them, who gave immediate intelli- gence to the high commission; upon which the queen issued her royal proclamation for a more exact observance of the act of uniformity. And though the bishops knew of the presbytery, they couldnot discover its members, nor prevent others from being erected in other parts of the kingdom.+ While multitudes of the best preachers were utterly silenced, the church of England stood in the greatest need of their zealous and faithful labours. It was, indeed, in a most deplorable condition. The conformable clergy ob- tained all the benefices in their power, and resided upon none, utterly neglecting their cures : many of them alienated the church lands, made unreasonable leases, wasted the wood upon the, lands, and granted reversions and advowsons for their own advantage. The churches fell greatly into decay, and became unfit for divine service. Among the laity there was very little devotion; and theLord's day was For g circumstantial account of the controversy excited by the publi- cation of the " Admonition," see Art. Thomas Cartwright. t Fuller's Church Hist. b. ix. p. I03.-Neal's Puritans, vol. i. p. 266.