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Praise-God Barebone

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No, it is not a joke. This is the name of a real person! In fact, his christened name is claimed to be: ‘Unless-Jesus-Christ-Had-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned-Barebone’! Barebone is also known as Barbon.

Praise-God Barebone, 1598-1679, lived in England at the time of Cromwell’s civil war. A wealthy seller of leather, he was also a lay-preacher who later formed ‘Barebone’s Parliament’. He had a wife, Sarah, and one son, Nicholas.

At first he joined a semi-separatist church in 1632. In late 1641 he began preaching to people in his shop, the Lock and Key (Fleet Street, London). On 19th December, 1641, he preached against bishops and the Book of Common Prayer; local apprentices took umbrage and smashed his shop windows. The congregation escaped, some over the rooftops, and others were taken to Bridewell Prison. Meanwhile, the angry crowd went on to smash his shop sign!

Next month, January, 1642, 50 members of his former church were re-baptised by immersion, but Barebone disagreed strongly in Believer’s Baptism and wrote a pamphlet against it. From there he went on to oppose a number of practices, especially of those in charge of St Dunstan-in-the-West church, and a lawyer who acted on their behalf.

Later, Barebone is said to have joined the ‘Fifth Monarchists’. This group arose after the Civil War (1649-1661). They believed Jesus would return soon, with a date of about 1666 in mind, when earthly rule would vanish. At this time people joined religious groups rather than political groups; entities such as the Ranters, Quakers, and Diggers. Some joined several at the same time, just in case!

Fifth Monarchists believed that four other rules had already emerged, as per Daniel 2:44; the final empire to rule would be that of Jesus on earth. Thus, Monarchists saw themselves as saints who would chronicle the coming of Christ and enjoy a millennium on earth (rather like charismatics). Of course, they saw the ‘666’ in 1666 as the same number found in Revelation. So, they thought, the ‘fifth monarchy’ was about to begin. In reality, we know little of Barebone’s religious beliefs, most of which have been attributed to him by detractors to blacken his name.

In 1653, Barebone was re-elected to the Nominated Assembly, set up by Oliver Cromwell, but it soon became known as ‘Barebone’s Parliament’ by those who criticised it, who ridiculed Barebone because of his name and poor background.

In 1660 he fought hard against the restoration of the monarchy, and published an oppositional book against Charles II. After the monarchy was restored, the same year, Royalists republished one of his tracts against the monarchy, and he was arrested in late 1661. Charged with treason along with two others, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, but freed in July 1662 after his wife petitioned for his release on health grounds. In 1666 his premises succumbed to the Great Fire of London. Barebone died in 1679.

Note:

Oliver Cromwell dissolved the ‘Rump Parliament’ in April 1653, and created an assembly of 140 “godly men” to rule the country. Barebone was the London member. I would suggest that though Barebone has been tainted by detractors, he must have been a ‘godly man’ for Cromwell to offer him membership of the Assembly. After he joined this new kind of government, it was called ‘Barebone’s Parliament’, again in derision, even though his part in it was minimal and limited to two sub-groups.

It is obvious from this very short outline, that Barebone’s was a ‘doer’ and probably a stout genuine Christian. It was inevitable, then, that he would be criticised and ridiculed, these forms of attack being typical of detractors. It happens to every Christian man who stands to be counted, every time! It is therefore wise not to accept jibes aimed at Christian ministers without firstly checking the authenticity of those doing the derision, because many stories arise around true men of God.

He personally presented a petition to Parliament that sought to ban the rule of a king. Again, this, at a time when Royalists were in power, showed a man of great courage and conviction. It does not matter if a man is right or wrong, if his heart and mind are set. Christians can be wrong – but it is their stand that allows me to admire their convictions. A man who is in error can at least be urged to change his view… but a Christian who never makes a stand on anything is of little worth! I can disagree with many of Barebone’s beliefs, but I can still commend his attitude of standing up for what he believed in.

I am not advocating heresy, or deliberate errors, or the maintenance of mistakes. I am merely saying that I would rather face a man of conviction than one whose handshake is as limp as his heart! Think it over.

© April 2009

Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

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