With this little biography I am going to tie together two consecutive days. Henry Jessey was born on September 3, 1601. He died a day after his sixty-second birthday on this day in 1663.
Henry was the son of a Church of England clergyman, and he followed his father into that ministry. While leading a good-sized congregation in London, several of his members left and joined a Baptist church. Following that, an even larger number left, and Henry was forced to study the “heresies” of the Baptists. Eventually he had to admit to his church that immersion was the Biblical mode of baptism, so for several years he immersed the babies who were presented to him for baptism. Then he began to learn about the purpose of baptism and that only believers should be immersed. In 1645, Henry Jessey was scripturally baptized by the Baptist, Hanserd Knollys. In the years to come Bro. Jessey learned what it was to be persecuted for his faith, often spending time in jail. In fact, it was while in prison that his soul passed into the presence of his Saviour.
Obediah Wills was one of those who had opposed and persecuted Henry Jessey. Nevertheless, following Jessey’s death Wills wrote: “And such a frame of Spirit was there in that man of God, Mr. Jessey; – He to my knowledge, was an Anti-pedobaptist of long standing, as holy I conceive, as any of that judgment [ie. Baptists]; of good learning [he was fluent in Greek, Hebrew, Syriac and Chaldee languages] and of a very tender conscience, and of so healing and uniting a Spirit, that he esteemed it his duty, and pressed others to do it, to keep up Christian communion with those that feared God tho’ they differ’d about baptism. I wish there were more such Anti-pedobaptists as he.”
May we so live that even our enemies might praise the blessed memory that we leave for Christ.