An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Friday, 28 March 2014

British Calvinists: Henry Jacob (1563-1624)

Henry Jacob (1563-1624) was born in Cheriton, Kent, he graduated with an MA from St Mary Hall, Oxford in 1586. In 1603 and 1605 he was imprisoned for his Puritan views. He was an exile in Leiden with William Ames and Robert Parker. There he formed his ideas on the need for the local church to be independent. hHe wanted to see a pure church but not complete secession for the Established church. He has been described as a non-separating Congregationalist and as a semi-Separatist and was associated with the Brownists.

He returned to London in 1616 and formed a local congregation at Southwark. He emigrated to the US in 1622 where he died.

The Jacob-Lathrop-Jessey Church

Two other  important figures associated with Jacob were John Lathrop (1584-1653) and Henry Jessey (1601-1663). All three were pastors of the same church, which became known as the Jacob-Lathrop-Jessey Church.

This is an extract from Michael Haykin's Kiffin, Knowlys and Keach:

Now, there is one church in particular which lies at the fountainhead, of the Calvinistic Baptists and that is the London-based congregation known to historians as the Jacob-Lathrop-Jessey church, so-called because of the names of its first three pastors. Henry Jacob (1563-1624) and a group of like-minded believers in London had established the congregation in 1616. To what extent Jacob and his congregation were influenced by Separatists like Francis Johnson, and John Robinson remains an open question - Jacob met both of these men Johnson in 1599 and Robinson in 1610. What is clear, however, is the fact that Jacob’s congregation was determined not to cut itself off from all fellowship with Puritans who had stayed within the Church of England. In the statement of faith that this congregation published when it was first established, it was clearly stated that attendance at services conducted in local parish churches was permissible as long as “neither our assent, nor silent presence is given to any mere human tradition”. Unlike the Separatists, Jacob and his congregation refused to deny that the Church of England still possessed “true visible churches”, and thus it was not at all ‘ wrong to continue fellow shipping with them where this did not involve countenancing what Jacob’s congregation regarded as definite error. It is not surprising that the authorities in the Church of England harassed the congregation as a Separatist body, and that the Separatists dubbed them “idolaters”.
Due to this harassment and persecution, Jacob decided to leave England for Virginia in 1622, where he died two years later. His successor was John Lathrop (1584-1653). During Lathrop’s 'pastorate at least two groups amicably withdrew from the church to found Separatist congregations, one of which came to be pastored by a certain Samuel Eaton (d. 1639). Eaton had problems with the legitimacy of the baptism of infants by ministers in the Church of England, though it does not appear to be the case that he had actually come to embrace believer’s baptism as the only basis for membership in the church.
In the early 1630s, when William Laud (1573-1645), the Arminian Archbishop of Canterbury, was seeking to rid England of Puritanism, Lathrop also decided to emigrate to the New World. He left in 1634, and it was not until 1637 that a new pastor was found in the person of Henry Jessey (1601-1663). Jessey had become a Puritan while studying at Cambridge in the early 1620s. Ordained a priest in the Church of England in 1626, he grew increasingly uneasy with the liturgy and worship of the Established Church over the next eight or so years. In 1635 he came into contact with the Jacob-Lathrop church, presumably began to worship with the congregation, and two years later was called to be the church’s pastor. An ironic individual, Jessey continued to uphold the “Jacobite” tradition, that is, the policy established by Henry Jacob of keeping in fellowship with Puritans within the Church of England.

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