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WHITGIFT, at his first coming to the see, had instructions ELIZA-
About this time one Robert Brown, descended of a consi- Brown
WHIT of the old blemishes even here, he resolves to refine upon Abp. Cant. Cartwright's scheme, and produce something more perfect
He forms separate
from his own invention. His model was drawn in a book entitled, "A Treatise of Reformation," and printed the last year at Middleborough. And having sent as many copies into England as he thought necessary, followed his blow, and came over soon after.
At this time the Dutch had a numerous congregation at Norwich; many of these people inclining to Anabaptism, were the more disposed to entertain any new resembling opinions. Brown made his first essay upon three Dutchmen, and being of a positive imperious temper, took care to pick out the most flexible and resigning. And after having made some progress amongst them, and raised himself a character for zeal and sanctity, he began to tamper further, and advance to the English: and here he took in the assistance of one Richard Harrison, a country school-master. Being thus reinforced and flushed with success, he played his project at length, formed Churches out of both nations, but mostly of the English: and now he instructed his audience, that the Church of England was no true Church; that there was little of Christ's institution in the public ministrations, and that all good Christians were obliged to separate from those impure assemblies; that their next step was to join him and his disciples; that here was nothing but what was pure and unexceptionable, evidently inspired by the Spirit of God, and refined from all alloy and profanation.
These discourses prevailed on the audience, and precept was brought up to practice and now his disciples, called Brownists, formed a new society, and made a total defection from the Church; for the men of this thorough reformation refused to join any congregation in any public office of worship. This was the first gathering of Churches, the first schism in form, which appeared in England. To justify these opposite congregations, Brown scattered his books in most parts of the kingdom; but the government was far from conniving at these liberties; for Elias Thacker and John Copping were indicted this summer upon the statute of 23 Eliz. cap. 2, for dispersing these pamphlets, brought
in guilty of felony, and executed at Bury St. Edmund's. ELIZAThe crime they were charged with was stirring up sedition, and defaming the Common Prayer.
As for Brown, the author, he was more gently dealt with than either of these criminals, or many others perverted by him. Being convented before Freake, bishop of Norwich, and other ecclesiastical commissioners, he not only maintained his schism, but misbehaved himself to the court, upon which he was committed to the custody of the sheriff of Norwich. But the lord treasurer Bur- 582. leigh being his near relation, procured his enlargement. This nobleman, who endeavoured his recovery, ordered him to come to London, and Whitgift being now at Lambeth, he was referred to him for better instruction. This prelate, by the dexterity of his management, and He is brought off the force of his reasoning, brought him at last to a tolera- his error, ble compliance with the Church of England. Being dis- relapses, and missed by the archbishop, the treasurer sent him to his father in the country, with directions for gentle usage. But here, instead of disengaging himself from the remaining scruples, his heterodoxies revived, he relapsed to his former condition, and proved utterly incorrigible; upon which the old gentleman discharged him the family. At last, after a great deal of ramble and suffering for his obstinacy, he recovered himself so far as to take a benefice with cure of souls in Northamptonshire. It was Lindsell, bishop of Peterborough's discipline which brought him to this recollection. The bishop being informed that Brown lived at Northampton, and was busy in promoting his sect, sent him a citation to come before him; he refused to appear: upon which contemptuous omission he was excommunicated. Brown being deeply affected with the solemnity of this censure, made his submission, moved for absolution, and received it; and from this time continued in the communion of the Church. He lived and died at last in Northampton Heylin, gaol, but not upon the score of nonconformity, but breach Presbyt. of the peace and thus the concluding his history at once, Scriptor. has carried me much beyond the time; for Brown lived to Eccles. Anglic. the year 1630. But though Brown conformed himself, he Præfat. was very unhappy in other respects; for it was not in his