Baptists and 1662: The Persecution of John Norcott and Hercules Collins

Founders Journal 89 · Summer 2012 · pp. 34–43

Baptists and 1662: The Persecution of John Norcott and Hercules Collins

Steve Weaver

In his chapter on the period in The English Baptists of the Seventeenth Century, B. R. White, the doyen of seventeenth-century English Baptist studies, labeled the years from 1660 to 1688 as “The Era of the Great Persecution.”[1] During this period all Dissenters, including the Baptists, were persecuted.[2] As a result a rich body literature was produced that reflects a vibrant spirituality of persecution and suffering for the sake of the gospel. This article will examine the prison writings of one seventeenth-century English Particular Baptist in order to better understand how the persecuted minority of Baptists were able to persevere through their sufferings. These writings are characterized by confidence in the sovereign providence of God, a thankfulness for both physical and spiritual blessings, reflection upon the sufficiency of Christ, and a certain expectation of a future deliverance and reward. This article will argue that only such a vibrant spirituality will suffice to sustain one in times of persecution. Before looking at these writings, however, it is important to consider something of the historical context in which they were produced.

Historical setting

Although Charles II had promised religious toleration when he returned to the throne following the Commonwealth Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, hopes for such were short-lived among the Dissenters. It is unknown whether Charles II actually had any intention of keeping his promise of religious liberty. What is known, however, is that Parliament passed a series of laws between 1661 and 1665 known as the Clarendon Code that were designed to enforce conformity to the worship of the Church of England. The Corporation Act of 1661, for example, required that a person had to have received the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper in the Church of England within the past year to be eligible for election to any government office. Eligible persons were also required to take the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy to the king of England. The Act of Uniformity of 1662 resulted in the ejection of approximately two thousand Puritan ministers from their pulpits since it would have required complete subscription to The Book of Common Prayer. Most Puritan ministers resigned rather than conform to these demands. The Conventicle Act of 1664 forbade the assembling of five or more persons for religious worship other than Anglican worship. This, in essence, outlawed Dissenting churches. The Five-Mile Act of 1665 forbade any Nonconforming preacher or teacher to come within 5 miles of a city or corporate town where he had previously served as a minister. Each of these Acts was aimed at stamping out both the Dissenters and Catholics. Baptists were hit particularly hard by these laws since they made their conscientious worship of God illegal.[3] One of the Baptists whose life and ministry was affected by these laws was Hercules Collins (1646/7-1702).[4]

Collins served from 1677 until his death in 1702 as the third pastor of London’s oldest Baptist church which was then the meeting in the Wapping area of London.[5] The second pastor of this congregation, John Norcott, is believed to have been one of a small number of Baptists who were actually ejected from their pulpits in Church of England in 1662.[6] Although only a handful of Baptists were affected by the actual ejection of 1662, the other laws of the Clarendon Code, of which the Act of Uniformity was a part, continued to have major effects for over a quarter of a century. Collins himself first appears in the public records in June of 1670 as a twenty-four year old who was arrested along with thirteen others for assembling in a conventicle in violation of the Conventicle Act (1664/1670).[7]

Collins became pastor almost one year to the day after Norcott died in 1676.[8] For the first half of Collins’ ministry (until the Act of Toleration in 1689) the congregation had to meet in secret for fear of persecution. Spies and informers were employed by the government and given large sums of money for the discovery of Dissenting congregations.[9] The English Baptist historian Joseph Ivimey records that the meeting-house of Collins’ congregation was attacked during this period, with the pulpit and pews being destroyed and windows smashed.[10] On July 9, 1683, Collins was indicted for failure to attend his local parish church.[11] But it was for his violation of the Five Mile Act (1665) that Collins was actually imprisoned in 1684 at the Newgate Prison.[12] Collins had directly addressed the Church of England in 1682 in one of his writings by saying, “If you do persecute us for our Conscience, I hope God will give us that Grace which may inable [sic] us patiently to suffer for Christ’s sake.”[13] Apparently God granted this desire, for the English Baptist historian Thomas Crosby, writing within forty years of Collins’ death, recorded that he was “a faithful minister of the gospel; though he had not a learned education, yet was a useful and laborious servant of Christ, and one that suffered imprisonment for his sake. He began to be religious early, and continued faithful to the last, and was not shocked by the fury of persecutors.”[14]

Ironically, it might have been this 1682 volume, titled Some Reasons for Separation from the Church of England, in which he expressed his willingness to suffer patiently which may have been the cause of Collins’ imprisonment in 1684. In this work, which was framed in terms of a hypothetical conversation between a Conformist and a Non-Conformist, Collins asserted the historic Baptist distinctive of religious liberty. Baptists have always been ardent defenders of religious liberty for such an idea is in their DNA as champions of a regenerate church membership which necessitates a separation of church and state. In the early seventeenth century, men such as John Smyth, Thomas Helwys and Roger Williams were advocates for religious liberty. Collins, in his dialogue with a member of the Church of England, appears to follow Roger Williams’ 1644 work on religious liberty, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, quite closely, demonstrating a clear dependence upon William’s classic treatment.[15] However, Collins offers his own concise summary of the issue at stake by asserting in his words, “That none should be compelled to worship God by a temporal Sword, but such as come willingly, and none can worship God to acceptance but such.”[16] For this principle, which preserves the idea of freedom of worship, Baptists like Hercules Collins were willing to risk their health, safety and freedom.

Within a year of having published Some Reasons for Separation from the Church of England Collins was arrested, and by the next year Collins was imprisoned for exercising his understanding of religious liberty. Nevertheless, this time bore rich fruit for it was while he was in the infamous Newgate Prison that Collins penned two of the most devotional of his twelve writings.[17] These two works will be the focus of the remainder of this article.

The prison writings

Though there is no indication of which was published first, the first work to be considered is Counsel for the Living, Occasioned from the Dead. This work, whose primary audience was Collins’ fellow prisoners, was a discourse on Job 3:17-18. This discourse was written as a response to the deaths of two of Collins’ fellow prisoners at Newgate: Francis Bampfield[18] and Zachariah Ralphson.[19] Both apparently died in early 1684 while Collins was also imprisoned.[20] The scriptural text that formed the basis for the address states regarding the eternal state, “There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor” (KJV). Collins summarized these verses as consisting of three components: “first the Subjects; which are Oppressors and Oppressed: Secondly, The Predicate, They shall Rest: Thirdly, the Receptacle, or place of Rest, that’s the Grave.”[21] Collins focused on two aspects of “counsel” from Job 3:17-18, namely the future judgment of the persecutors and the corresponding relief of the persecuted. Collins believed that both of the ideas present in these verses were pertinent for his times. First, the persecuted needed to be encouraged by the fact that one day the persecutors would be stopped and they would experience relief, if not in this life, then in the life to come. Second, persecutors needed to realize that they would one day be judged for their mistreatment of the people of God. Collins’ primary purpose in this discourse, however, was to provide comfort to persecuted Christians. This is seen in that at the end of the book he exhorts his readers to follow the apostle Paul’s advice at the close of his discourse on the resurrection of saints in 1 Thessalonians 4 to “Comfort one another with these words.” Collins concluded his Counsel for the Living by exhorting his readers with these words: “While Sin, Satan, and an Unkind World is Discomforting you, do you in a lively Hope of the Resurrection of the Body, the coming of Christ, your Meeting of him, and continuing with him, cheer up and Comfort one another with these things.”[22]

Before turning to offer comfort for the persecuted, Collins first indicted their persecutors as godless men. Collins characterized the persecutors of Christians as wicked men who “are troublers of the Church.” As such they are “Strangers to Gospel Principles, to a Gospel Spirit, and Gospel Teachings.”[23] Collins concluded that “a persecuting spirit is not of a Gospel-complexion.”[24] Judgment is coming for these evil-doers who “shall be made to confess their wickedness in not setting Gods People at liberty to Worship him; they shall fall into mischief, and be silent in darkness, and turned into Hell, with Nations which forget God.”[25] Note that the “liberty to Worship him” seems to be the main issue at stake for Collins. Further, Collins excoriated the persecutors elsewhere for arresting elderly men, “Men of threescore, fourscore Years of Age, hurried to Prison for nothing else but for worshipping their God.”[26] This seems to have especially raised the ire of Collins since Bampfield, one of the men whose death occasioned this sermon, was almost seventy when arrested for what would prove to be the final time.[27]

Saints, however, would be given rest. “The time is coming,” Collins asserted, when “God hath promised we shall no more hear the voice of the Oppressor.”[28] The saints “shall know no more Apprehendings…nor hear no more of, Take him Jaylor, keep him until he be cleared by due course of Law; we shall have no more Bolts nor Bars then on us, no more looking for the Keeper then, nor speaking to Friends through Iron-grates.”[29] The “rest” referred to in Job 3:17-18 was a “Rest in Sleep, being then out of all sense of care, trouble, pain, and all manner of distraction, so in like manner shall we be in the Grave.”[30] This was the rest that Bampfield and Ralphson had attained. However, this was not the only relief from persecution that Collins anticipated. His belief in the sovereign providence of God caused him to declare: “We shall none of us stay a night beyond God’s determination.”[31] Therefore, prisoners could be content with their circumstances “though limited to one Room, which was our Kitchin, our Cellar, our Lodging-Room, our Parlour.”[32] Like the apostle Paul, these persecuted believers had learned to be content in “every State.”[33] These prisoners believed “that place is best” where their Father had willed them to be.[34] Having their daily bread they confessed that “God is as good in Prison as out.”[35] Collins therefore exhorted his readers that God’s promises were not just to be read, but their truths trusted and experienced. “Beloved, it is one thing to Read the Promises, another thing to trust upon God by them, and experience the truth of them.”[36] These prisoners had experienced the promised presence and blessing of God in the prison cell and Collins wanted to exhort other persecuted Christians to trust in the promises of their loving Father. Collins reminded his readers that:

Gods Providential Dealings with his people in this world, is like Chequer-work, there is the dark, as well as the light side of Providence, the most Refin’d and best State and Condition of the best Saints are mixed here; if we have some peace, we have some trouble; if we have large Comforts one day, we may expect a great degree of trouble another; least we should be exalted above measure, we must have a thorn in the flesh now and then.[37]

Trusting God’s providence, Collins could confidently declare, “let men and Devils do their worst, God will in his own time loose the Prisoners.”[38]

Not only were Collins and his fellow-persecuted brothers content with their situation because of God’s providence, they were also deeply thankful for God’s physical and spiritual blessings while jailed. Collins called these blessings “Prison-comforts.”[39] They blessed God for his grace that enabled them to have “as much peace and satisfaction” in their one-room prison cell as when they had complete liberty to stroll through their houses, gardens, and the homes of friends.[40] They were also thankful for God’s daily physical provision for them. “Blessed be God we have bread for the day; as the day so our strength has been.”[41] These prisoners, however, were most grateful for their spiritual blessings. Chief among these blessings was the presence of Christ. Of his persecuted brothers Collins could write: “How much of the Presence of Christ have they had to inable them to bear the Cross quietly, patiently, contentedly.”[42] These saints also rejoiced that though they were bound by physical shackles, they had been set free from the bondage of sin and death. “Again, let us bless God, though we are in the Prison of man, yet that we are delivered from the Spiritual prison of Sin and Satan, into the glorious liberty of the Children of God, and out of the Kingdom of darkness into the glorious light of the Gospel.”[43] They realized that “the darkness of a Material Prison is nothing to the darkness of a Spiritual one.” In this spiritual freedom believers “may have Liberty in Bonds, light in Darkness, Peace in Trouble.”[44] It was the spiritual blessings that enabled the suffering servants of Christ to endure their trials. Collins explained how he and his fellow prisoners had personally experienced the soul-strengthening power of spiritual fellowship with God the Father. “Communion with God by the Spirit is a good Cordial to keep up the heart from fainting in this valley of tears, until we come to our Mount of Joy, where there is no limits of Joy and Blessedness.”[45]

A second work that Hercules Collins published from his prison cell was A Voice from the Prison. This work was an extended meditation on Revelation 3:11 where Christ admonishes the church of Philadelphia with the words, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (KJV). Collins addressed this sermon “To the Church of God, formerly Meeting in Old-Gravel-Lane Wapping, and all who were Strangers and Foreigners, but now Fellow Citizens with the Saints, and of the Household of God.” Collins drew from at least 213 passages of Scripture in his sermon, to encourage his congregation to stand firm in the face of persecution.[46] Collins urged his besieged flock to not abandon the cause of Christ. “Hold fast what thou hast, when Satan would pull thy souls good from thee; when Relations, Husband, Wife, Children call upon you, and perswade you because of danger to cease from the work of the Lord, then hold fast.”[47] Collins offered as a motivation for holding fast to Christ and his work that the one who stood fast would hear Christ profess to the Father on the day of judgment the words:

These are they which have continued with me in my Temptation; therefore I appoint unto you a Kingdom; therefore, because you owned me in an Evil Day.

These are the Men, Woman, People, which spoke of my Testimonies before Kings, and was not ashamed when many Cried, Crucify him and his Cause; these are the souls which came forth and declared they were on the Lords Side: These are they, Father, whose Love to me many Waters nor Floods could not quench nor drown; these are they that chose me on my own termes, with the Cross as well as the Crown; these have made Choice of me with Reproaches, Imprisonments, with Fines, Confiscation of Goods, Banishment, loss of Limbs, Life, and all, they have born all, indured all for my sake, in the greatest affliction, they kept from wavering, and the more they endured and lost for my sake, the more they loved me.[48]

Just as Collins had encouraged persecuted believers in his Counsel for the Living to not give in because of the future rest which awaited them, so too in A Voice from the Prison he exhorted them to live in view of their future appearance before God’s judgment seat.

Collins also drew comfort from God’s sovereign providence during his imprisonment. He began his written address to his “Dearly Beloved” church by expressing his confidence that God was providentially at work in his suffering for the advancement of the gospel.

Forasmuch as I am present depriv’d by my Bonds, of the Liberty of Preaching; I bless God I have the Advantage of Printing, being ready to serve the Interest of Christ in all Conditions to my poor Ability; and doubt not, but God and Interest are Served by my Confinement, as by Liberty: and am not without hopes that I shall preach as loudly, and as effectually by Imprisonment for Christ, as ever I did at Liberty; that all those who observe Gods Providential Dealings, will be able to say with me hereafter, as Holy Paul once said in his Bonds at Rome; What hath befallen me, hath tended to the furtherance of the Gospel.[49]

Like the apostle Paul in Philippians 1, Collins’ belief in the providence of God caused him to have confidence that God would bring good out of his imprisonment. One of the goods that Collins believed could come out of the sufferings of the Baptists was that some of their adversaries might be convinced of the truth when they saw how the Baptists patiently endured when persecuted. He argued that since “Actions are more Influential then words, and more Demonstrative of the Truth and Reality of a Person or Cause” and “as a man shall be better believed for his good works, then good words,” suffering patiently would convince their persecutors.[50] Collins therefore encouraged his congregation:

so if we would Manifest our Integrity under a Profession, nothing will do it better then your Suffering, … if by God called unto it; for, as a Tree is known by his fruit, so is a Christian by a Patient Wearing Christs Cross, this will and hath Convinced an Adversary, when a bare Profession will not.[51]

In a similar manner, in Counsel for the Living, Collins had maintained that God could “make people grow so much the more as their afflictions abound” for “thinking people will conclude they must be the Lords, that suffer patiently under such apparent wrong.”[52] Therefore, Collins encouraged his fellow believers to “see how our Churches fill, come let us go on, we have good success, we shall bring them all home at last.”[53] This proved to be true for Collins and his congregation: by the time of his death in 1702, as Michael A.G. Haykin has observed, Collins “was probably preaching to a congregation of roughly 700 people, which would have made his congregation one of the largest Calvinistic Baptist works in the city.”[54]

Collins also exhorted his readers to persevere for God has promised to reward the overcomers. He then draws on all the promises made by Christ in Revelation 2 and 3 to those who persevere through persecution. The overcomers shall “eat of the Tree in the midst of the Paradice of God”; they shall “not be hurt of the Second Death” and shall “have the hidden Manna”; “the white Stone, and a New name” will be theirs; they shall “have power over the nations, and rule them with a Rod of Iron”; and they shall be “clothed in white Rayment.” Their “name shall not be blotted out of the Book of Life, but made a Pillar in the Temple of God, and he shall go out no more.” Finally, those who overcome “shall sit with Christ on his Throne, as he overcame and sat down with the Father on his Throne.”[55] These shall receive “a Crown not of Gold, but Glory, not fading but eternal.”[56]

Collins knew that his readers would be able to “hold fast” if they were fully satisfied with Christ. As he put it in typical pithy Puritan fashion: “It is the Christ-finding Soul which is the Life-finding Soul.”[57] Collins explained that when it is said in Scripture, “Christ is all, and in all,” this means that, for the believer, “he is all, because all good is Comprehended in him, he is all in all; all in the Fullness of all, for if we have all Earthly Injoyments, and have not him, we have nothing comparatively.”[58] However to have Christ was to “have all Equivalently and comprehensively.”[59] Therefore, Collins warned that it was important to “hold fast this Christ.” The world, he declared, would try to sink believer if he or she held it too closely to his or her heart. So then, he urged his readers: “Cast away all, shake off all, rather then lose a Christ.”[60] Thus, “will a Believing Soul suffer the Loss of all, so he may win Christ; none but Christ, saith an illuminated Believer.”[61] Collins seemed to speak on behalf of the “illuminated Believer” as he thus extolled how this view of the sufficiency of Christ enabled the Christian to endure hardships in this life:

There are many good Objects in Heaven and Earth besides thee, there are Angels in Heaven, and Saints on Earth: But, what are these to thee? Heaven without thy Presence, would be no Heaven to me; a Pallace with thee, a Crown without thee, cannot satisfie me; but with thee I can be content, though in a poor Cottage with thee I am at Liberty in Bonds; Peace and Trouble; if I have thy Smiles, I can bear the worlds frowns; if I have Spiritual Liberty in my Soul, that I can ascend to thee by Faith, and have Communion with thee, thou shalt chuse my Portion for me in this World.[62]

Some, however, were apparently being tempted to abandon the all-sufficient Christ for a respite from persecution. Collins warned that “without enduring to the End, all your Profession, your many years Prayers, all your Tears will be lost.”[63] Those who turned aside “mayst never more be called to be a witness for Christ.” In fact, “some have thought God hath not Lov’d them, because he hath not Exercised them this way.”[64] Elsewhere in this prison epistle, Collins soberly charged those who had been enabled by God’s grace to persevere not to boast in their state: “To all such as have not fallen in the Storm, who have kept their garments from Defiling, let God have the glory; thou standest by Faith, which God is Author of, be not High-minded but fear; glory not secretly, Rejoice not in thy Brothers fall.”[65] For those who had fallen, Collins offers a word of hope. “The Lord hath promised he will not let his Anger fall upon you,…therefore, Return, Return,…that we may look upon thee with Joy and Delight, as the Angels in Heaven do rejoice at the Returning of a Soul to God.[66] Collins further exhorted his readers who had gone back on their profession to return to the arms of a merciful God: “Return to thy God from whom thou hast revolted, who stands with open Arms to receive you; return to the Church again, whom thou hast made sad by thy departing from the Truth, and humble thy self to God and them, and they will cheerfully receive thee into their fellowship.”[67]

Collins was sure that only those believers who had been mortifying sin daily in their lives would be enabled to endure persecution. “Let not that Man think to wear the Cross of Persecution, that doth not first wear the Cross of Mortification.”[68] As Collins developed this concept:

We should inure our selves to wear the Publick Cross, by wearing it first more privately in our Houses, in our Families, in our Shops and Trades: For let not that Person think he will ever be able to part with his Houses, Lands, Liberties, for the Lord Jesus Christ, that cannot first part with a secret lust: But if we have Grace enough, to wear daily the Cross of Mortification of the old Man; you need not fear but he that giveth Grace to do the greater, will give Grace to doe the lesser; for I look upon the subduing of Corruption, a greater thing then enduring Persecution; though neither can be done as it ought, without help from Heaven.[69]

Those who, by the grace of God, were regularly putting to death their sins would experience an easier path in enduring physical persecution. Thus, Collins was encouraging personal holiness as the best means to prepare for persecution for the cause of Christ. Without this spiritual practice, professing believers would not be able to withstand the temptation to deny Christ in the face of persecution.

Ever the true pastor, Collins closed what amounted to a sermon from prison with a series of prayers to God. First, Collins prayed that God would purge the church of its impurities which he saw as a cause for their persecution. “God is contending with us: Let us all Banish and Expel the Achan out of our Hearts, out of our Churches, and shew our selves Zealous against Sin.”[70] Then, Collins asked God that his dear Son’s kingdom might come. “We should be willing to be Footstools, so Christ thereby might get upon his Throne.”[71] Third, Collins prayed for “a universal spreading of the Gospel” in order that “a greater degree of Knowledge and Holiness will be in the World then ever.”[72] This is a fascinating request, as it is often said that the seventeenth-century Puritans and Baptists were not missions-minded. Clearly, Collins was not devoid of a missionary passion. Finally, Collins prayed for deliverance from the persecution. “We have no might, but our Eyes are upon thee… Appear in thy strength, that the Kingdoms of the World may know that thou art God; and that there is none besides thee.”[73] But till then, Collins concluded, “let our Faith and Patience be lengthned out, to the coming of the Lord; till Time swallowed up in Eternity; Finite, in Infinite, Hope, in Vision; and Faith in Fruition; when God shall be the matter of our Happiness; when Fulness shall be the measure of our Happiness, and Eternity the Duration.”[74]

Conclusion

The prison writings of Hercules Collins provide a window for better understanding both seventeenth-century English Baptist spirituality and a Baptist theology of persecution. The furnace of affliction revealed a deep and vibrant spirituality which was like pure gold. These golden writings are characterized by a confidence in the sovereign providence of God, a thankfulness for both physical and spiritual blessings, reflection upon the sufficiency of Christ, and a certain expectation of a future deliverance and reward. It is hoped that a similar spirituality would become prominent among Baptists once again in order that they might be enabled to persevere through the persecution that increasingly seems certain to come.


Notes:

1 B. R. White, The English Baptists of the Seventeenth Century (Didcot: The Baptist Historical Society, 1996), 95-133.

2 For an excellent study of this era, see Gerald R. Cragg, Puritanism in the Period of the Great Persecution 1660-1688 (Cambridge: University Press, 1957). See also Michael R. Watts, The Dissenters. Volume 1: From the Reformation to the French Revolution (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), 221-262.

3 For a fuller description of these Acts and their impact upon Baptists, see Ernest A. Payne and Norman S. Moon, Baptists and 1662 (London: The Carey Kingsgate Press Limited, 1962).

4 For details on the life of Hercules Collins see Michael A.G. Haykin “The Piety of Hercules Collins (1646/7-1702)” in Devoted to the Service of the Temple: Piety, Persecution, and Ministry in the Writings of Hercules Collins, eds. Michael A.G. Haykin and Steve Weaver (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007), 1-30. See also Haykin’s entry “Collins, Hercules (d. 1702)” in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, eds. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), s.v. and his article “Hercules Collins and the Art of Preaching” in A Cloud of Witnesses: Calvinistic Baptists in the 18th Century (Darlington, England: Evangelical Times, 2006), 21-26.

5 See Ernest F. Kevan, London’s Oldest Baptist Church (London: The Kingsgate Press, 1933) for the remarkable first three hundred years of history of this congregation. The church is still in existence and is now called Church Hill Baptist Church, Walthamstow. Their website is: http://www.chbc.org.uk/.

6 For a discussion of the evidence, please see Geoffrey F. Nuttall, “Another Baptist Ejection (1662): The Case of John Norcott” in Pilgrim Pathways: Essays in Baptist History in Honour of B. R. White, eds. William H. Brackney and Paul S. Fiddes with John H. Y. Briggs (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1999), 185-188.

7 Sessions of the Peace Rolls for 27 June 1670 – MJ/SR/1389 (file numbers P1010140-P1010150, London Metropolitan Archives). This document lists the names of Hercules Collins and the thirteen others who were arrested and sent to Newgate prison on June 29, 1670. The key text reads “Peter Sabbs for refusing to tell their m[eeting?] they being taken at a conventicle & other misdemeanours.” Collins and his fellow conventiclers must not have been in prison long, for there is no record of them in prison at the next court record for August 29, 1670.

8 Norcott died on March 24, 1675/6 and Collins became pastor on March 23, 1676/7.

9 Kevan, London’s Oldest Baptist Church, 43.

10 Joseph Ivimey, A History of the English Baptists (London, 1814), II, 448-449.

11 Middlesex: Rolls, Books and Certificates, Indictments, Recognizances, … 1667-1688, vol. 4.

12 For a description of the horrors of the Newgate Prison during the seventeenth century, see Haykin, “Piety of Hercules Collins (1646/7-1702),” 14. See also Kelly Grovier, The Gaol: The Story of Newgate–London’s Most Notorious Prison (London: John Murray, 2008).

13 Hercules Collins, Some Reasons for Separation from the Communion of the Church of England, and the Unreasonableness of Persecution Upon that Account. Soberly Debated in a Dialogue between a Conformist, and a Nonconformist (Baptist.) (London: John How, 1682), 20.

14 Thomas Crosby, The History of the English Baptists (London: John Robinson, 1740), 129.

15 See especially Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution (London, 1644), 2-3 and Collins, Some Reasons for Separation, 18-20.

16 Collins, Some Reasons for Separation, 20.

17 A Voice from the Prison. Or, Meditations on Revelations III.XI. Tending To the Establishment of Gods Little Flock, In an Hour of Temptation (London, 1684) and Counsel for the Living, Occasioned from the Dead: Or, A Discourse on Job III. 17,18. Arising from the Deaths of Mr. Fran. Bampfield and Mr. Zach. Ralphson (London: George Larkin, 1684). A complete list of Collins’ works can be found in Devoted to the Service of the Temple, eds. Haykin and Weaver, 135-137.

18 For biographical details on Bampfield, see Richard L. Greaves, “Making the Laws of Christ His Only Rule: Francis Bampfield, Sabbatarian Reformer” in his Saints and Rebels: Seven Nonconformists in Stuart England (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1985), 179-210.

19 Ralphson was the alias of Jeremiah Mardsen. For biographical details on Ralphson, see R.L. Greaves, “Marsden, (alias Ralphson), Jeremiah (1624-1684),” in Biographical Dictionary of British Radicals, eds. Richard L. Greaves and Robert Zaller (Brighton, England: Harvester Press, 1984), 2:214-215.

20 Keith Durso dates the death of Bampfield as February 16, 1684. See No Armor for the Back: Baptist Prison Writings, 1600s-1700s (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2007), 105. For a transcript of the proceedings of the trials of Ralphson and Bampfiled, see Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org; accessed May 20, 2010), January 1684, trials of Zachariah Ralphson (t16840116-18) and Francis Bampfield (t16840116-20).

21 Counsel for the Living, 1-2.

22 Ibid., 33-34.

23 Ibid., 6-7.

24 Ibid., 8.

25 Ibid., 9.

26 Ibid., 15.

27 Haykin, “The Piety of Hercules Collins (1646/7-1702),” 15.

28 Counsel for the Living, 21. Cf. also Counsel for the Living, 31.

29 Ibid., 23.

30 Ibid.

31 Ibid., 26

32 Ibid., 25.

33 Ibid., 26. Collins is citing Philippians 4:11.

34 Ibid., 25.

35 Ibid.

36 Ibid., 26

37 Ibid., 28.

38 Ibid., 26.

39 Ibid., 25.

40 Ibid.

41 Ibid.

42 Ibid.

43 Ibid., 26-27.

44 Ibid., 27-28.

45 Ibid., 28.

46 Durso, No Armor for the Back, 169.

47 Collins, Voice from the Prison, 4.

48 Ibid., 5.

49 Ibid., 1.

50 Ibid.

51 Ibid.

52 Collins, Counsel for the Living, 26.

53 Collins, Voice from the Prison, 23.

54 Haykin, “The piety of Hercules Collins (1646/7-1702),” 22.

55 Collins, Voice from the Prison, 6.

56 Ibid., 6.

57 Ibid.

58 Ibid., 8.

59 Ibid.

60 Ibid., 18.

61 Ibid.

62 Ibid., 18-19.

63 Ibid., 3.

64 Ibid.

65 Ibid., 28.

66 Ibid., 26.

67 Ibid.

68 Ibid., 30.

69 Ibid.

70 Ibid., 32.

71 Ibid., 33.

72 Ibid.

73 Ibid., 34.

74 Ibid.