Brooks - BX9338 .B7 1813 v1

44 INTRODUCT ION: But instead of relieving the suffering ministers, their burdens were greatly increased. In the year 1580, the parliament passed a law, entitled " An Act to retain the Queen's Subjects in their due Obedience," which enacted " That all persons who do not come to church or chapel, or other place where common prayer is said, according to the act of uniformity, shall forfeit twenty pounds per month to the queen, and suffer imprisonment till paid. Those who are absent for twelve months, shall, besides their former fine, be boundwith two sufficient sureties in a bond of two hundred pounds, until they conform. And every schoolmaster who does not come to common prayer, shall forfeit ten pounds a month, be disabled from teaching school, and suffer a year's imprisonment". This, says a learned churchman, was little better than making merchandise of souls.t The fine was, indeed, unmerciful, and the com- mon people had nothing to expect but to rot injails. The legislature, by these violent measures, overshot the mark, and instead of crushing the ptiritans1 or reconciling them to the church, they drove them farther from it. Men of integrity will not easily be beaten from their principles by canons, injunctions, subscriptions, fines, or imprison- ment; much less will they esteem the church fighting with such weapons. Multitudes were by these methods driven to a total separation, and they became so far opposed to the persecuting church of England, as not to allow it to be a true church, nor its ministers true ministers. They renounced all communion with it, not only in the prayers andceremonies, but in hearing the word and the sacraments. These were called BROWNISTS, fromRobert Brown, at this tune a preacher in the diocese of Norwich. The Brownists did not differ from the church of England in matters of faith; but were very rigid in points of discipline. They main- tained the discipline of the church of England to be popish and antichristian, and all her ordinances to be invalid. They apprehended that, according to scripture, every church ought to be confined within a single congregation ; and the choice of its officers, and theadmission and exclu- sion of members, with all its other regulations, ought to be determined by the brotherhood. Many of the Brownists were great sufferers in their seal for nonconformity : among these were Mr. Copping andMr. Thacker, ministers in the county of Suffolk. After suffering imprisonment seven ..Burn's Ecd. Law vol. ii. p. 146. t Fuller's Church Ifist. b. ix. p. 131.