The Brownists Conventicle:

Or an assemble of Brownists, Separatists, and Non-Confor­mists, as they met together at a private house to heare a Sermon of a brother of theirs neere Algate, being a learned Felt-maker.

Contayning the whole discourse of his Exposition, with the man­ner and forme of his preaching, praying, giving thankes be­fore and after Dinner and Supper, as it was lately heard and now discovered by a brother of theirs who is turned out of their Society upon some discontent, to be buffeted by Sathan.

His Auditors were Button-makers, Translaters, Weavers, Box-makers, with divers other holy Brethren and Sisters.


Printed 1641.

The Brownists Conventicle.

Contayning their manner and forme of their preaching, praying, eating, and drinking, &c.

HEreticks, Schismaticks, Novellists, Seperatists, have beene in all ages, and long before the Gospel was preached: there were amongst the Jewes a Sect who called themselves Abel [...]sts, of Abel the Proto-Martyr of the world, who required such chastity in mar­riage, that they would admit of no congresse, or mutuall consocie­ty betwixt man and wife: but it was an Heresie suddenly set up, and as soone suppressed. The Essees, or Esseans, retired themselves to solitude, and separated themselves from the Congregations, who were abstemious in their diet, and strict and austere in all their deportments, harmelesse to others, onely rigid to themselves, in so much that it is observed, that our Saviour was silent concerning them, when he so severely reproved the Scribes, Pha­risees, and Sadduces. The Pharisees strived to come neere to the Law, and were a strict and exact Sect, but corrupt both in their doctrine, demeanour, and conversations. The Sadduces were but few, but those great and rich men, who were of a more obtuse and stupid apprehension, denying the resurrection.

To come to our owne home, almost in every domesticke Diocesian Parish, we have Novellists, some Thraskites, or Sabbaterians, Banisterians, Brownists, and Anabaptists, which puts mee in mind of a young Lubber of that Sect, who being brought as a witnesse to take his oath in Court, and the Judge by acci­dent asking of what age hee was? who answered him, that he was 3 yeares old. Three yeares old (replyed the Judge) and no more? how can that possibly be, seeing thou art of that full growth and bignesse? Who answered him gain Uerily I reckon mine age but from the time since I was last baptized. Then we have your Familists: but of all the rest which is of greatest remark, there is sprung up a new Sect of Adamists, who take their denomination from our first father Adam, and these with men and women promiscuously mingled, have their private meetings, where they will not heare the Word preached, nor have the Sacrament administred unto them, but naked, not so much as fig-leave breeches upon them, thinking thereby to imitate our first Parents in their innocency. Some of these Separatists have their Conventions within the wals of the City. Others have made their assembly in the fields, some in woods, and upon Hye-gate and Hamsted hils, and such like places. In some [Page 5] families the women catechize and preach, making the back side of her gro [...] ­ning Chaire the Pulpit, their prayers being unpremeditate and without president; for nothing can passe muster, which proceeds from their mouths, which is not extravagant ex tempore. Nay, some most prophanely, I may say blasphemously, have beene heard to say, that they could make a better prayer than that which our Saviour himselfe taught to his Disciples.

Further, these our Sectaries will endure no degrees in Schooles, all learning must be layd by, Academyes are to them abhominable, thereby co­hering with the grand Adversary of our Christian saith the Turk, who will suffer no University thorow his whole Deminions: All his Creatures must be Souldiers, no Schollers, nor suffred to meddle with the Alcaron, but the Mufti, and those idolatrous Flamins belonging to the Order: nay, herein they punctually comply with the Papists, whose doctrine they pretend utter­ly to abhor; who hold that Ignorance is the mother of Devotion. And of these opinions was How, the notorious Predicant Cobler, whose body was buried in the high way by Dame Agnes á Cleere, and his Funerall Sermon preached by one of his Sect in a Brewers Cart. Such an Anti-Bishop was Eaton, the famous Button-maker in Saint Martins, and a Shooe-maker that dwelt betwixt Pauls Chaine and Old Fish-street, whose name I remember not, and now the onely famous seeming Predicants are one Greene a Felt-ma­ke, and a fellow who was once a Serving-man. To rip up all the whole rab­ble, would take up too great time, and blot too much paper.

Hence come those violent outrages, and sacrilegious disorders committed in the Church, even in the time of Divine Service, and hubbub, and strange tumults raised, where nothing but reverent silence ought to be used, by lay­ing violent hands upon the Minister, rending his Master of Arts hood from his neck, and tearing the Surplice to filters upon his back, he hardly scaping from being torne peece meale in his owne person, and this even when the Psalme was singing, and the Preacher ready to goe up to deliver his Ser­mon, as like wise rending the railes from before the Communion Table, and then chopping them in peeces, and burning them in the Church-yard, and this to be ryotously done wit [...]out authority, commission, or order. But when any man shall take upon him a further power than peaceable Justice requireth, he perisheth from the Church; and whilst he proudly lifts up himselfe, bran­ded with his owne arrogant presumption, he is bereft of the light of the truth.

And now of late lest these supermysticall Sectists should be wanting in the Land, there is lately come over from New England, as from a New Hierusa­lem, one Samuel Eaton a Minister, who preached at Saint Iohns Church in Chester, that the very names of Parsons and Uicars were Antichristian, that Pastours and Teachers of particular Congregations, must be chosen by [Page 4] the people, that all humane inventions, in which he comprehends the Booke of Common Prayer, &c. are to God unsavoury and loathsome, that all Eccle­siasticall censures of Excommunication, and the like, ought to bee exercized by particular Congregations within themselves: Hee further denyes all Nationall, Provinciall, and Diocesian Churches, &c. And further, at Knuts­ford, a Market Towne in the same Countie, that every particular Congrega­tion is an absolute Church, and it is to have all Ordinances and Officers within it selfe, that the members thereof must be only Saints, who must en­ter into covenant amongst themselves, and no covenant no Church, and that it was a grievous sin to be present where Prayers were read out of any book whatsoever, either by the Minister or any other, &c. Two or three houres did our learned Felt-maker preach, and declare himselfe to his deare brethren and good sisters, which expressions took very well. And these are they that prate, not preach, like men raptur'd with their owne spirituall non-sense. I cannot stand upon the miserable inconveniences depending upon this fanta­sticall doctrine, of which I could wish there were not so many simple seduced Disciples.

Now all these Innovators in generall, are Arch-enemies to Lent, Saints Eves, Ember weeks, Fast dayes, and Good Fridayes. Imagine their Exercise is done, and high time to goe to refresh themselves; this holy bro­ther which preached this and the like sort of Doctrine, was envited to ano­ther brothers house to dinner, which was there present, and being come and meat set upon the table, and all the Saints set at boord, hee began to say Grace, which is to this effect, having first surveyed every dish, and in what order it was placed at the boord, he began his thanksgiving as followeth.

The Grace before Dinner.

COrroborate these thy good gifts unto our use, I beseech thee good Fa­ther, and make us thankfull for all these thy bountifull blessings upon this boord, to nourish our corrupt bodies. These are boyl'd Chickens (I take it) let this dish of Chickens put us in mind of our Saviour, who would have gathered Hierusalem together as an Hen gathereth her chickens, but she would not: but let us praise God for these chickens, which are set before us, being six in number. Let this leg of Mutton call us to remembrance, that King David was once a Shepherd; and so was Christ the son of David. that good Shepherd, who having an hundred sheep, and losing one, to find that left ninetie and nine in the wildernesse. Here is an excellent Loyne of Ueale, let that prompts us to remember the Parable of the Prodigall child, whom to welcome home, the Father caused the fat calfe to be killed, which I thinke could not yeeld a better rump and kidney than is now visible before our eyes. And by this cramm'd and well fed capon, let us be mindfull of the cock, which [Page 5] crowed three times, when Peter had as often denyed his Master, for which he went out and wept bitterly. These Rabbets re collect us to think (having worne fur upon their backs) of the two wicked Elders, that lay in wait to betray the chastity of Susanna: but I feare I have too much over-shot my selfe in alleaging any example out of the prophane Apocrypha. What see I there? a Potato pye, and a Sallad of Sparagus, these are stirring meats, and pro­vocations to procreation, by which good God, wee desire thee that according to thy blessings to our first parents in Paradise, we may increase and multi­ply. And when that Gamond of Westphalia Bacon comes to be cut up, let us think of that herd of Swine, into which by the permission of our Savi­our the Devils entered, and from an high rock hurried them headlong into the sea. And as for these thy good blessings that are from the land, so likewise make us thankfull for this thy bounty sent us from the sea, and first for this [...]ole of Sturgeon, and let it so far edifie in us, as to thinke how great that Whales head was, which swallowed the Prophet Ionas, and kept him three dayes and nights in his belly. And though these Lobsters seeme to be in red coats like Cardinals, having clawes like Usurers, and more hornes than the Beast of Rome, which is the Whore of Babylon; yet having taken off their Papisticall copes and cases, let us freely feed upon what is within; for God regardeth not the outside, but the inside of man. I conclude with the fruit, which may it by thy grace so fructifie in our hearts, that these Pippins may put vs in mind of the Apple of the forbidden Tree, which our Grand mother Eve (by the temptation of the Serpent) tasted in the middle of the Garden. For had she not, vild wretch, eaten ye forbidden apple, all our Crabs had bin very good Pippins, and all our Thistles had beene very good Harti-choaks. And these Carawayes call to our remembrance that Manna which was like Coriander seed, by which the children of Israel were fed forty yeares toge­ther in the wildernesse. Thus as briefly as I can, I have gone thorow every dish on the boord, for every sundry dish ought to have a severall blessing. And now let us fall too, and feed exceedingly, that after our full repast, wee may the bettor prophesie.

Then falling to, and feeding lustily, and dinner being ended, another began his Grace after meat, as followeth.

The Grace after meat.

WEe thank thee, good Lord, that as thou hast sufficiently satisfied these our bodies with the blessings of the earth, so thou hast the like care to feed our soules with the spirituall food of Heaven: And in this our thanksgi­viding, let us remember all the blessed Pastours and Professours, whether in Amsterdam or elsewhere: but especially the Ministers of the Church in New England, the New Ierusalem, as Master Samuel Eaton, lately come from thence, and the rest, with all our brethren and sisters, the Saints there, that little flock, of which our Saviour speaks in the Gospell, Feare not little flock, [...] [Page 4] [...] [Page 5] [Page 6] who forsoking, and utterly renouncing all the prophane and Papisticall cere­monies here at home, have left the Land, to professe the more pure and sincere truth and doctrine abroad; as also for the seperated Saints here amongst us, the Elders and Deacons of our Cougregations wheresoever assembled, whe­ther in any private houses within the city, or in any Cow-house, Barne, or Stable without the wals or whether in the fields, woods, or groves, where­soever the holy Assembly is convented and gathered. As for the prophane Churches, in which Idols have been formerly worshipped, and Copes and Surplices (the garments of the great Babylonish Whore) are still worne, we utterly abhor them: Neither let us forget that holy and good mans pre­cepts, who never spake unto us but with a great measure of the Spirit, I meane Master How the Cobler; nor those Christian admonitions which were broken unto us by the breath of Master Eaton, the Button-maker in Saint Martins: nor those godly instructions which issued from the mouth of Master Greene the Felt-maker, with all the rest of their sanctified Society: As also for all our she fellow-Labourers in this our holy and good work, I meane those blessed and fruit-bearing women, who are not only able to talk on any Text, but search into the deep sense of the Scripture, and preach both in their owns families and else where. Whom though Saint Paul forbade to preach in the Church, yet he left them liberty to preach in the chambers: nay, we all therefore, both brethren and sisters, so use our Talents together, that the brethren may be daily regenerate and new borne, and the sisters so labour in their severall vocations, that it may be the encrease and multiply­ing of these thy Saints, Amen.

After which they prepared for their after-noons Exercise. You have heard what doctrine hath beene preached by Master Samuel Eaton and others in the countrey, now you shall heare part of a Sermon preached, which was by one of the Elders, who was pickt out for that dayes Exercise, who took his Text the 12. of the Revelation, the 7 verse: And there was a battell in heaven, Michael and his Angels fought against the Dragon, &c. Grace & peace be multiplied. This Text dearly beloved brethren, and most dearly beloved sisters, may not unproperly be applyed to these present times, and to acts late in agitation, here is a combat spoken of betwixt Michael and the Dra­gon: now my deare brethren and sisters; first, to enquire who is persona­ted in Michael and his Angels, and who pointed at in the Dragon and his Angels. To save you men your looking, and you women your longing, I will tell you both, and that briefly thus. By this Michael and his Angels in my Text, is meant one particular Church, and peculiar Church: and you deare Saints of both sexes have bin sensible, you know many yeares we have most miserably suffered in all servitude and slavery: Now by the Dragon, the holy Ghost labours to delineate unto the great Dragon and Devill of Lambeth. I say unto you againe brethren, wicked Angels are the Bishops Deanes, Arch Deacons, Prebends, non residents, which [Page 7] live without the care and charge of soules; I could have expressed it in La­tin, but I hold it to bee the language of the beast of Rome, and therefore o­mit it as a Heathenish language: besides his other Procters, Prosectors, Pursuivants, Pariters, and all other his Ecclesiasticall Ministers and Officers. I had almost forgot his Advocates, Surrogates, with the Judges of his spirituall and Prerogative Courts, all which (brethren) are abho­nomination in the eyes of the Lord & their very names stink in his nostrils: The Bishops function, deare brethren, is an Anti-christian calling; & the Deanes & prebends are the frogs & the locusts mention'd in the Revelation: There is none of these Bishops but hath a pope in their bellies: I will tell you, deare brethren, they be papists in grain; they are all of them unleavin'd soules, & now, I say, we have turned them over to be buffeted by ye vgly fin Satan. What then shall we say of all his toyes and popish trincats? his in­vention and innovations? Or what shall we think of their Altars, Images, unhallowed hoods, Surpleces and Coaps, with their unchristian cornerd Caps: their Palls, Albs, Rochets, Crosiers, Miters, Crosses, with all their traditions, Ceremonies, and unsanctified Superstitions? What my brethren (my sisters not forgotten) are but as the very rags dropt from the whore of Babylons rotten garments: nay, their cleanest washt Surpleses are at the best but like Po [...]ters Frocks, which they weare when they carry burthens; and they appeare in our eyes more slovenly and sluttish, than the very fulsome and foule smock she puts off when she shifts her selfe: nay, my deare brethren, there is another crosse which stands in our way, and is an eye-sore to our uprightnesse, that guilded idolatrous Crosse in Cheap side, which so many adore and reverence whe [...] they passe by it: then there is a­nother crosse, which is our eare-sore, as well as our eye-sore, deare brethren, that is, those pipes, or Organs, as the reverend Scots Ministers call them; which makes more noyse with their roaring, than all the Bulls of Bason did, when Og their King passed by them in triumph.

What further may we liken that dogmaticall Dragon to: this litigious Arch Priest of Lambeth, than to a tyrannicall Nimrod, a proud Pharaoh, a politick Achitophel a wicked Haman, a cunning Caiphas, a iugling Pilot, a bloudy minded Herod, a persecuting Saul, and though he were a Batche­lour, yet for a long time bore him as proudly as that Apocallypticall Beast of Rome with seven heads of impietie and ten hornes of iniquity: for how hath he persecuted this little flock of ours? and when he would not be seene in it himselfe, be imployed his apostaticall agents to disturbe us in our Con­venticles, and debar us the libertie of our Consciences: and my dear bre­thren & beloved sisters, was not this the very device ofan old D [...]gon, nay of a venemoous dragon? and are not the Archbishops and Bishops, the very Buls of Bashan, their superiour and inferiour Officialls, and Officers, the great and little Foxes? Those that wait on them, are the Wolves that would worrie the sheep and Lambs: and yet you see how in the end wee that may [Page 8] bee called the Michaelists, or Michaelitains, have in this great battatle late fought since the time of the Parliament, have subdued and overcome the Dragon and his Angels, so that their Court is no longer to be found at Lam­beth [...]: so it is (according to my Text) no more to be found in Heaven.

This Dragon, I say deare brethren, and beloved sisters, is that Nimrod of Lambeth, the great hunter, who with his bloud-hounds hunted and chaced us from one place to another. This was that proud Pharaoh, who would have us deliver up to the task masters the full tale of Brick, and yet would not allow us straw nor stubble to burne it. This is that politick Achito­phel, who having mist of his designes, would saddle his Asse (if hee had it) and ride home to his house at Lambeth and hang himselfe. This is that wic­ked Haman, that would make havock of all us poore Mordecais, and the whole Nation of us distressed Jewes: (for I know there be some Christi­ans and Sabaterians amongst us) but as he hath Idolatriz'd in the high places, wee hope to see him, like that Haman, mounted upon something fiftie Cubits high. This is that cruell Herod, but more bloudy hearted: he one­ly slew the Babes and Sucklings but this Dragon woul [...] make slaugh­ters of all of you, deare brothers and sisters, for which hee shall bee eaten up with the wormes of his owne Conscience. This is that Caiphas, that would couzen us of our lives. That Pilot that would give partiall sentence against us; & that Saul before he was Paul) that would bring persecution amongst us, who are taken for the Olive-branches of the House of the Lord.

And now where is their Starre-parlour, for Star-chamber I cannot call it: Chambers (as we all know) were made for rest and pleasure; but this was onely for rigour and punishment: and where is now their High Com­mission Courts, by which the Saints hearts could not rest quiet in their bo­dies, nor their eares safe upon their heads? But some of his servants report that he was cleare of all these; but deare brethren, and best beloved sisters, I will tell you of what he was cleare: cleare from all sinceritie, vertue, and piety; cleare from all charitie, veritie, and honestie: but he, with all the rest of the Archiepiscopacy, much contaminated with gormundizing and Hypo­crisie: But where are his full and surfeting Tables, where hee safe plenti­fully feeding, with his Chaplins, gaping one at another: some gaping after fat bits, others after fat Benefices, they aspiring to the highest degrees af­ter the Prelacy, and he alike ambitious after the Papacy.

But what is now (my deare brothers, and sweet sisters) become of their vehement Orations, their demonicall disputations? their syllogisticall examinations? their Logicall Interpretations? their erronious Equivo­cations? their mentall Reservations? and their iniust Condemnations of us that are the flock of the faithfull, and the onely reserved to eternall Salvati­on? what I say, but that this great Dragon, and his Angels shall be precipi­tated to perdition, be hurryed to the inferiour parts of the earth, which is also called Hell, and Gehimon, and the tormenting Tophet, to which we al­so leave them, with all their Prelaticall trash and popish trumperles.

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