‘Certaine erroneous opinions gathered from the mouth of Bryerley and his hearers’

[Work in progress – because in a while I will probably post the list of all FIFTY charges. These are some of the most interesting though!]

On the 21st January 1616 (modern 1617) Curate Roger Brierley was sworn in at the High Commission at York and allowed to hear this collection of fifty charges raised against him. However, it was not until 16th March that Brierley presented his written answers to the Court. The Court recommenced on 1 April 1617 and a number of key witnesses gave evidence including Giggleswick’s Christopher Shute, Richard Gibson (the vicar of Marton-in-Craven) and John Foote. Over the following months a significant body of ministers was hauled in: Thomas Jobson – Brierley’s most immediate neighbour for whom he was actually supposed to be acting as an assistant, Gibson, E. Watkin, Wm. Harrison, G. Wiber, J, Eastwood, A. Emott, F. Peele, J. Harrison and Thos. Drake – see Marchant I, Church Courts.

Note here that the order stated in the majority of these footnotes will be as per Bodelian Rawlinson MS.D.399, ‘Certaine erroneous opinions gathered from the mouth of Bryerley and his hearers’. This is consistent with the order generally adhered to by Como. The spellings in the charges have been deliberately left as they are in the documentation. Note particularly how ‘then’ tended to be used in place of ‘than’. This was especially common.

Charge 1

1 A motion riseing from the spirit is more to be rested in, then (sic) the word it selfe; neither Dare they take their ground from the word, because the devil may wrest it to his purpose.

Charge 2

  1. It is a sinne to believe the word, as it is the word, without a motion of the spirit.

Charge 3

  1. The child of God in the power of grace doth performe every duety so well, that to ask pardonne for faileing in matter or maner is a sinne.

Charge 7

  1. The christian assured can never commit a grosse sinne.

Charge 11

  1. Grace being wrought in the heart the spiritt abolisheth all former knowledge, and they bidd away all scripture knowledge.

Charge 12

  1. One haveing attained to the power of grace can more confirme a weake sainct then a preacher with 20tie sermons.

Charge 13

  1. It is a sinne to remember presentlie anie thing that the preacher hath spoken or to meditate thereof, for the spiritt will bring it to their remembrance when they neede it.

Charge 17

  1. A minister unsanctified cannot either convert or confirme.

Charge 18

  1. They say they are soe filled with the spiritt that they cannot reade a chapter trulie, yet can expound it, and in prayer they are soe ravished that they cannot speake a woord.

Charge 19

  1. If temptation be offered, it lighteth upon them as upon a wall, and re-boundeth backe again, but if att anie time they fall they can by the power of grace carrie theire sinne to the lord, and say here I had it and here I leave it.

Charge 20

  1. It is not necessarie to take notice of their sinnes to humble them, for that will god doe by his spirit when it is needefull.

In Calvin repentance is consequential from grace. Indeed, the ‘vivification’ of the Spirit requires the death of the ‘old man’ too. But the issue is the relative emphasis of grace and repentance.

Charge 23

  1. If they hear a sanctified minister preach, they know when he speakes by the spritt and when not.

Charge 24

  1. They care not for falling into a sinne, for god turnes that to the best.

Mistakes fall under the ‘all things’ which have been predestined. See Ephesians 1: 11:

‘Also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.’

Charge 25

  1. It is an error (say they) to hould that where there is most grace, there is most humiliation.

Note here that it is the humiliation of sins which is being referred to.

Charge 27

  1. That it is not fitt to pray for an excellent minister which is like to be silenced, for they say they will not be more pittifull then god.

Charge 28

  1. They hould it a great sinne to read any booke but the bible, and they hould it to be a horrible sinne to reade it either in publique or privat without exposition.

Charge 29

  1. If they heare a man talke, they can tell immediately how farr he is gone in christianitie, and whether he be an hypocrite or noe.

Charge 33

  1. That a man having the spiritt may read, pray, or preach without any calling whatsoever.

Charge 35

  1. As when the wedge of gould and the Babilonian garment weare hid in Achams tent, god would not be present with the Israelites; soe looke what church or chappell hath within it a surplisse, Crosse or such like, there will the lord never reveale himself either to preacher or people.

During the capture of Jericho in Joshua 7, Achan stole a Babylonian garment together with two hundred shekels of silvers and a wedge of gold. The theft of these objects was forbidden and, in order to conceal them, he buried them in the earth beneath his own tent. He was discovered when lots were drawn to determine the guilty party.

Their minister is only the one who converted them.

Charge 37

  1. A christian is of noe parish, neither hath he any pastor, but him by whom he was converted, and to him must he resort every sabboth day. Though he be never soe farr of.

Charge 38

  1. Neither the preacher nor they pray for the king, and reason is because they know not whether he be elected or noe.

Note here that the charge in effect specifically identifies Brierley as not praying for James I. The 1604 Hampton Court Conference between Bishops and moderate Puritans had formalised the requirement for morning and evening prayer for the Royal Family.

Charge 39

  1. He is a devill that ever studieth before he preacheth.

Charge 41

  1. That they have received such abundance of grace, that now they canne stand without the use of the meanes; and soe will doe when Mr Bryerley goes, whom they terme the Angell of England and the onelie one of a thousand.

Charge 42

  1. That the Bishope of Yorke is a second Felix, for when he was about to pronounce sentence of silencinge against Mr Bryeley there fell upon him such a trembeling that he durst not doe it.

Charge 43

  1. That Mr Shute vickar of Gigleswick and mr Brooke minister of Gargo [Gargrave] are both either ignorant or malicious persecutors of sincerity.

Brooke was minister at Gargrave some fifteen miles northwest of Grindleton and eleven miles southeast of Giggleswick, at the time of Brierley’s hearing and identified by Marchant I as having somewhat of a Non-Conformist reputation himself. Indeed, he is cited by Como as potentially having been one of the instigators of action against Brierley . Shute was minister and headmaster at Giggleswick and was Craven’s most noted Puritan.

Charge 44

If Mr Bryerley may stand but a while longer 3 or 4 of the best christians in every parish of England will be assembled thither.

Presumably some of the testimonies above were gathered during the gap between Brierley’s arrest and the first reading of the charges some four months later.

Charge 46

  1. That they cannot have more joy in heaven, then they have in this life by the spiritt.

Charge 47

  1. That a christian may have more then faith, and more than assurance, he may have god himselfe.

Charge 48

  1. They hould it not fitteing in the pulpit to bring Quotations, for they say the devill alleadge scripture.

Charge 49

‘That the Apostles did convert noe soules before christ (sic) his ascention. And that the prophecie of Joell (your young men shall see visions, and your ould men shall dreame dreames, and your daughters shall prophecie) is now fulfilled at Grindleton.’

Charge 50

  1. That there is as much difference betwixt Mr Bryerley’s preaching and other mens, as betwixt salvation and damnation, and that a wicked man may doe as much as most men preach, nay may obey all the written words and be damned.