By admin | February 12, 2010
From a 19th Century periodical The Church published in the north of England, we take this brief biography of a little known father of our faith. He is one of many who stood for the truth of Jesus Christ.
The Dykes were a good old Puritan family, much esteemed for their learning, and piety, and talents, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Our Worthy was blessed with a father and an uncle who belonged to this abused and injured class of men, both of whom rose to eminence in their day as ministers of the gospel, and as authors of some valuable books in practical and experimental religion.
Jeremiah Dyke, A.M. his father, was minister at Epping, in Essex, in the year 1609, and was greatly beloved by his flock, both for his meekness and moderation, though a decided foe to the Popish ceremonies, against which the whole body of Puritans loudly protested. Daniel Dyke, B.D. his uncle, was a popular preacher in the counties of Essex and Herts, during the reign of Elizabeth; but though a man of unblemished character and eminent piety, he was suspended by the Bishop of London, for refusing to wear the surplice and other “rags of Popery,” and was driven away from the scenes of his labour and usefulness. Old Fuller called his “Mystery of Self-deceiving,” “a book that will be owned for a truth while men have any badness in them, and will be owned as a treasure while they have any goodness in them.”
Daniel Dyke, A.M. the subject of the present sketch, was educated for the ministry, both in private schools and in the University of Cambridge. Having taken his degree, he was ordained and presented to the living of Great Hadham, in the county of Herts.
From his first appearance in public, as a minister of the gospel, his talents and popular mode of preaching gained him a numerous class of friends, who formed high expectations of his future usefulness; but these were never realized within the pale of the compulsory chinch, inasmuch as the terms of conformity were made so rigorous that Mr. Dyke resigned his living rather than rob himself of a good conscience, and proved his sincerity by making a sacrifice of £300 per annum. It was about this time, moreover, that he avowed himself a Baptist. When he “became a man, he put away childish things.”
In a short time after, the force of truth compelled him to fall back into the ranks of Nonconformity. Cromwell, who was beyond all question the patron of great and good men, made him one of his chaplains in ordinary, and soon afterwards placed his name in the list of Triers for the examination and approval of christian ministers. John Tombes, A. M. and Henry Jessey, A.M. were his Baptist colleagues in this assembly. Under the sanction of this body, several Baptist ministers were appointed to Parish Churches, being left free to make known their views on Baptism. Many of the more sturdy men of our denomination, however,jealous of their liberties, which had been recovered by so much blood, and conscientiously opposed to any human authority in matters of religion,denounced the assembly of Triers as a modified court of High Commission, and declared that it ought to be put down as much as the Pope and the prelate.
During his chaplaincy, the name of our Worthy was appended to a proclamation of the Protector’s, ordering a day of national humiliation on account of the persecution which had befallen the Waldenses in the South of France, and commanding collections to be made for their relief in all churches and chapels in the kingdom. The result of this appeal to the Protestant feelings of the nation, was the munificent sum of £32,241. 10s. 6d. While Dyke was preaching on behalf of these persecuted people, Milton, who was one of the Secretaries of State, was writing his exquisite sonnet in commemoration of their murdered friends, in which he made the
following appeal to the avenger of human blood:
“In thy book record their groans’
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piedmonteso, that roll’d
Mother with Infant down the rocks. Their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
When cowardice and treachery restored to our forefathers the fierce despotism of the Stuarts, Dyke did himself honour by standing firm in the ranks of Nonconformity, refusing to wear the yoke of Charles I, or to give black prelacy dominion over his faith. He foretold the coming storm, which swept away in one day two thousand five hundred of the best families that England ever produced, leaving within the Establishment little more than drunken clergy, empty forms, and popish ceremonies. Some of his friends wished him to sell his liberty, and to “entangle himself again with the yoke of bondage,” avowing their belief in the pious intentions of the king, who had frequently taken the solemn league and covenant and given his royal word, “that no man should be called in question for differences of opinion in religion, which do not disturb the peace of the kingdom.” Unmoved by these arguments, unseduced from his loyalty to the “Head of the Church,” unawed by the fear of suffering in the cause of God and truth, and warned by scripture, as well as by history, not to “put confidence in princes,” especially in such a prince as then sat upon the throne, our Worthy “stood fast in the liberty wherewith Christ made him free,” and refused to sell his birthright to a master in the art of hypocrisy, and to a Papist in disguise. “You do but flatter and deceive yourselves” was his noble reply to their entreaties, “for when the king returns, those who have followed him in his exile, and the creatures that will come over with him, will have the management of affairs, and, in all probability, will not only turn you out, but take away your liberty into the bargain” Many who promoted the Restoration lived to feel the truth of this caution, and to repent of their folly.
When the reign of terror and of death, which disgraced those palmy days of Church and State, was sending thousands of good men to prison, or into eternity, either by the hands of the executioner, or by a slower and more cruel process,— when, according to Hume himself, “the churchmen were so bent upon persecution, and so eager to take vengeance upon Dissenters, that they could expect neither justice nor mercy at their hands,”—Mr. Dyke was the chosen co-pastor with the venerable W. Kiffin, over the Baptist Church in Devonshire-Square, London. From this time he took an active part in all the measures which involved the civil and religious interests of the denomination, and continued a faithful minister of the gospel to the end of his life. He died in the year 1688, aged 70, and was buried in Bunhill-Fields.
Living in a period of English history when an attempt to establish the divine right of kings and the arrogant claims of the priesthood was resisted by a noble band of patriots and nonconformists, the providence of God wonderfully preserved Daniel Dyke from the rage of persecutors, so that he was never imprisoned more than one night. Storm after storm passed over the nation and ruined thousands of men whose record is on high,—multitudes of his own denomination were exposed to fines, driven into foreign lands, stood in the pillory, died in prison, or in the flames of martyrdom, while he was gathered to his fathers in peace, where the decrees of of kings and of church courts are both alike impotent and unknown. He lived till within a few months of the Revolution of 1688, so that the year in which our ancestors welcomed William III. to our shores as the avenger of their wrongs, the emancipated spirit of Daniel Dyke entered into the joy of its Lord. And found,
“A liberty, which persecution, fraud, Oppression, prisons, have no power to bind; Which, whoso tastes, can be enslaved no more.”
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