Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Three Baptists 2 Andrew Gifford

Andrew Gifford (1649−1721) a Bristol native was converted in the late 1650s, baptized in June 1659 and subsequently became a member of the Pithay Church, Bristol. He became a minsiter and ministered for 60 years. He began in 1671 and became pastor at the Pithay in 1677. He would apparently often preach in Kingswood Forest, three miles from the city. In order to evade arrest, he would also disguise himself as an officer of the law or on at least one occasion, a tinker. Soemtimes the miners there would throw a coat over him to hide him from law officers. He was imprisoned on four separate occasions. The first three were for fairly brief periods prior to the fiercest bout of persecution in the 1680s. A longer time of imprisonment in 1680 was preceded by a remarkable dream. According to a footnote by Baptist historian Jospeh Ivimey on the night before his arrest
His wife dreamed that he arose to go out to preach according to his appointment; but upon opening the door, the very first step he took was up to his knees in snow: that thereupon she dissuaded him, but in vain; that he was seized by two particular men, whose names she mentioned, and brought to the Sun Tavern, that then was without Lawford’s Gate, and there confined in a dining room, being placed behind a particular table in it; and one of them, by main force, held him down by leaning on his right shoulder and the other on his left. It made such an impression that she awaked with the fright, and told him of it, and did all she could to dissuade him. But he told her she talked like one of the foolish women; that nothing should hinder him from his Master’s business. They arose, and upon opening the door into the yard, they found there had fallen a great snow since they went to bed, with a severe frost, which had driven up to the house, so that the first step was indeed up to his knees. Upon this she repeated her importunity, but to no purpose, and the result was that he was taken according to her dream, and every particular circumstance of it was the next day exactly fulfilled.
In 1684 he wrote a letter from Gloucester Castle, where he was in oprison, to a friend called Edward Grant, who had travelled some 30 miles from Trowbridge to visit Gifford.
My dear love to you and your wife, with many and hearty thanks to God and you for the exceeding great love, both in provoking others to such liberality, and taking so great a journey to /visit, and bestowing so great a benefit on me which I can never requite; but my prayer is, and shall be, that it may be trebled to you again, and that divine blessings may descend on you and ' yours, and that you may never want any mercy either for time or eternity; but may have that grace which may keep you faithful to what you know, and enable you to do what God does require, and contentedly and cheerfully endure whatever in so doing you may suffer; your peace of conscience, the welfare of your immortal soul, the pleasure and honour of God, is to be preferred before goods, liberty, or life itself . .... consider God is able to make you stand, his grace is sufficient, his strength is made perfect in the creature’s weakness; cry to, and rely upon him; use all honest means to preserve yourself, and to prevent your enemies; use the wisdom of the serpent, but be sure to keep the innocency of the dove . . . I had rather if God is pleased to help me, abide in bonds, and in the worst that can be done by ... enemies, than do the least evil for deliverance. Pray for me, as I for you; so committing you to him wthatho is able to keep you from falling, and present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.

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