ANTHONY FARINDON 1598 - 1658
“If love be as the sun, joy and delight are the beams which stream forth from it. If love be as the voice, joy is the echo; for joy is but love in the reflection.”
"When my love is real and perfect, my hope springs up and blooms and flourishes. My faith sees the object, my love embraces it, and the means unto it; and my hope lays hold on it, and even takes possession of it."
We learn devotion by prayer; charity by giving alms, meekness by forgiving injuries, humility and patience by suffering: temperance by every day fighting against our lusts.
One of the bravest priests of the English Church during the Interregnum was Anthony Farindon. With other priests such as Drs. Jeremy Taylor, Wilde, Hewett, Robert Mossman, and Matthew Styles they were able to conduct services in private homes chapels or even churches for faithful laypeople to receive the sacraments and hear orthodox preaching in London. One layman, Sir John Bramston commented that after Anthony Farindon came to St. Mary Magdalen, Milk Street, it was difficult to get a seat when services were conducted in that church.
Farindon was born not far from Oxford at Sonning and so it was at Oxford where he received his education. From Trinity College he received his B.A. in 1616 and M.A. in 1620. In between he had been elected as a Fellow in 1617. He was ordained c. 1620. He soon acquired considerable recognition as a preacher and became good friends with Sheldon, Heylyn, Chillingworth, and especially John Hales. In 1629 he received his B.D. Only a few years later in 1634 he had to leave the university upon marrying and became vicar of Bray in Berkshire. Just before the recalling of Parliament in 1639 Farindon was appointed by the bishop of Oxford, John Bancroft, as reader in divinity at St George's Chapel, Windsor. He now lived in close proximity with his friend John Hales who was a canon of Windsor Chapel and a fellow of Eton College. After the second battle of Newbury in 1644 not far from Oxford Farindon was evicted from the vicarage (became home to Ireton’s soldiers) and his living. He and his family might have died of starvation if it had not been for the loyal layman, John Robinson, a merchant in London. The minister of St. Mary Magdalene, although a Presbyterian, had left as he had no desire to serve under the present government. At Robinson’s request, Farindon preached and as he made a favourable impression he was asked to become the incumbent. In one of his sermons Farindon informs us what it meant to be restored to ministry as it helped him to avoid the temptations that came from poverty and sequestration. Far better were it for me to return to my dust and to my former condition, there to sit down and pray for my enemies, to possess my soul in patience and silence to struggle with all those temptations which poverty, scorn and contempt commonly bring along with them than to embroil myself in an odious and loathsome contention with those whom I am bound to count my brethren, though they think themselves bound to be my enemies, whom if I do not love, I shall hate my own soul and whose salvation if I do not seriously tender I shall forfeit my own. Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God is: that all misconceit, prejudice, jealousy, suspicion which are the winds that blow the coal of contention, may be bound up for ever. In his preaching years at St. Mary’s Magdalene he informed his regular congregation that true religion is "not to hear and talk and fill the world with noise and confusion ... but to fight against our lusts and trouble none but ourselves. ... Every day, every hour of our life we may contemplate [tranquillity] and prepare ourselves to be at peace with all men [so] we may be ready [for any] tempest. ... What a heaven there is in love and peace, and what a hell and confusion in anger and debate." In order to live like this, it was essential to "empty ourselves". This could only be achieved by casting "out self-love"; digging out “covetousness"; pulling "back ambition", biding "our anger"; and lastly, emptying "ourselves of all suspicion, evil- surmising and discontent." In these times this must be our daily "spiritual exercise".
Nevertheless Farindon had some harsh words for those who were not loyal to their faith during the Interregnum.
We renounce our understandings, and enslave our wills; change our religion as we do our clothes, and fit them to the times and fashions; we pull down resolutions, cancel oaths; we are votraries to-day, and break to-morrow; we surrender up our souls and bodies; we deliver up our conscience in the midst of all its cryings and gains-sayings, and lay it down at the foot of a fading and transitory power, which breathes itself forth as the wind while it seeks to destroy; which threatens, strikes and then is no more.
Until he was silenced in 1656 he preached faithfully and administered the sacrament faithfully to his parishioners. Those sermons he preached were later published in four volumes of which the first volume published in 1657 dedicated to John Robinson, and a second volume appeared in 1663 that was dedicated to Sir Orlando Bridgeman, lawyer and judge who also assisted sequestered clergy. When one reads those sermons one immediately senses the pastoral role of this clergy, a bit like George Herbert, for his people. Of course the importance of episcopacy for the English Church appears in his preaching but it is his overriding appeal for the need for charity towards all and living in a faithful way to Christ’s teaching that stand out. Thus he showed no acrimony against the government and he thus appealed to others to imitate Christ who is perfect charity and showed it in his life by ‘doing good.’ It is only then that we can approach the altar. “It would be better that we were not Christians than to be a Christian and devour one another”. After all we beg forgiveness for our sins and so we must forgive others who sin against us, albeit unfairly. “But when charity fills the heart of a man, and stretches forth his hand, then he takes a higher place, the place of God, is his ambassador and steward.” Charity meant reaching out to other human beings and so Farindon preached, not unlike other Caroline Divines, “It is... a blessed occasion,...to draw out our mercy into act; to kindle the fire within us, that it may break forth into a pure flame to warm and comfort them. Charity also had a spiritual depth for Caroline Divines; it meant believing in the brotherhood of mankind in Christ, in order to comfort one another. True charity, meant joining "hand-in-hand to uphold one another on earth, and to advance one another to that glory which is prepared for one as well as for another in heaven.” This fraternity is also seen in the Sacraments "which our Saviour did not only institute as memorials of His death, and as channels and conveyances of comfort to our sick and weary souls, but also as remembrances unto us of that debt of charity, which unless we will forfeit our title of Christian, we are bound with cheerfulness to pay one to another." Farindon also asserted that, "each Christian is as a glass to another"; thus "I see my sorrow in my brother's tears, and he sees his tears in my sorrow: he sees my charity in my alms, and I see his devotion in his prayers: I cast a beam of comfort upon him, and he reflects a blessing upon me." When Christians show this kind of charity "we come nearest to Christ Himself." 1. 104, 106, 110. So charity meant more than just giving to the poor and the distressed. Yet visiting the poor was also important. Indeed those who give “with a true intent to relieve the poor ... the distressed”, end up giving themselves “more good”. Furthermore, as Farindon reminded his congregation, the time may come when they are in a similar position to these people, and issues this warning: “For when you see a man you behold yourself as in a glass. In him you behold yourself, now cheerful, and [soon] drooping; now standing, and anon sinking; now in purple, and anon naked; now full and anon hungry.” This divine insisted, “If I do not love [my brethren], I shall hate my own soul; and whose salvation if I do not seriously tender, I shall forfeit my own.”
The brethren also included those who regarded themselves as enemies "whom if I do not love, I shall hate my own soul; and whose salvation if I do not seriously tender I shall forfeit my own." Our prayer should be "that all misconceit, prejudice, jealousy, suspicion, which are the winds that blow the coal of contention, may be bound up for ever."
Acts of mercies are not simply assisting the poor but “to relieve our brethren in misery and in all the degrees that lead to it, necessities, impotencies, distresses, dangers [and] defects." Farindon warned the person who fail "in doing justly to men has forfeited his obligation to God and himself. For to do justly is a duty which he owes to God and himself as well as to others." God’s mercy will therefore shine upon those who: Visit the sick, ... the Spirit of comfort visits us; [when] we serve our brethren, ... the angels minister unto us; [when] we cover the naked with our cloth, ... God clothes us with joy; [when] we convert a sinner ... [we] shine as stars; [when] we part with a few shekels of silver ... the hand of mercy works and turns them into a crown.
Hence by sowing "temporal and transistory things, ... the harvest is great." Farindon assured his people, "I cannot think that a God of mercy, who loves it in Himself and in His creature, will look in anger upon those who through too much fervour and ambition of doing all, do more than is required, but favour and reward." On the other hand God "will severely punish that negligence that binds our hands in our bosom ... [and] do nothing."
It was after all far more difficult "to visit the fatherless and widows in afflictions,[than] to say a hundred Pater Nosters."
One of the gifts given by God was “a quiet mind of untroubled thoughts” but it was “a conditional gift” from God in order that the Christian may in turn give to others. Therefore to have this inward peace Christians must carry out the work of the gospel, as it “spreads itself over the poor, and relieves them, over the malicious and melts them, over the injurious man and forgives him, over the violent man, and overcomes him by standing the shock.” Closely aligned to charity was piety that Farindon described as "a tree of life planted in the midst of Paradise, in the midst of the Church, spreading as it were its branches." Its characteristics were "justice and honesty", mercy and liberality", humility and sincerity of mind." It was very precious."True piety ... is a more rare and precious thing than gold, and the veins of it lie deep." It comes "from heaven, in Christ," and as such it is "at a huge distance from our carnal desires and lusts, and so it requires great anxiety, strong contention, and mighty strivings to reconcile it to our wills." Therefore "we must sell all to purchase it; the whole man must lose and deny himself to search and find it out; we must lay down all that we have, our understandings, our wills, and affections, at His feet who sells it." Once possessed, it is as precious as a "pearl ... in a far country."
REDEMPTION AND SALVATION
Doctrinally, the Caroline divines believed in the universality of redemption and salvation. Christ “came to save both ... the body from corruption and the soul from sin; refine our dross into silver, and our silver into pure gold; raise our bodies to the immortality of our souls, and our souls to the purity of angels.” When Christ took upon Himself our nature “He offered Himself on the cross for the sin of all, that He might `take away the sin of the world.'
In emphasising the universality of redemption Caroline divines were trying to counter the doctrine of pre-destination that taught that many were doomed to everlasting damnation. Farindon in his preaching addressed this. “He was delivered for us all: ALL, not considered as elect or reprobate, but as men, as sinners; for that name will take ... all .. for all," As well as insisting that Christ died for all, Farindon also admonished those who "will not touch; and yet they do touch and press [this doctrine] with that violence that they press it almost into nothing; make the world not the world, and whosoever, not whosoever, but some certain men; and turn all into a few; deduct whom they please out of all people, nations, and languages: and out of Christendom itself; leave some few with Christ upon the cross, whose persons he heard, whom they call the elect, and mean themselves." Furthermore St. John's universal message that “‘So God loved the world;’” is confined to the "elect" with these. They are the world; where it is hard to find them; for they are called out of it." Farindon further argued:
If the elect be the world which God so loved, then they are such elect as may not believe, such elect as may perish and whom God will have perish if they do not believe. It is true none has benefit of Christ's death but the elect; but from hence it does not follow that no other might have had. Theirs is the kingdom: but are not they shut out now who might have made it theirs? God, says St. Peter, ‘would not that any should perish;’ and ‘God is the Saviour of all men,’ says St. Paul, but especially of those who believe; ALL if they believe and repent; and those who are obedient to the gospel, because they do.
Farindon insisted that "the blood of Christ is poured forth on the believer; and with it He sprinkles his heart and is saved: the wicked trample it under their feet, and perish." Indeed the blood of Christ is sufficient to wash away the sins of the world, no, of a thousand worlds. Christ paid down a ransom of so infinite a value that it might redeem all who are, or possibly might be under captivity, but none is actually redeemed but they who make him their captain, and do as He command, that is, believe and repent."
Those who denied Christ's dying for all were "so tender and jealous of Christ's blood, that no drop must fall but where they direct it." Indeed they:
do but undermine and shake one truth with another; set up the particular love of God to believers, to over-throw His general love to mankind; confound the virtue of Christ's passion with its effect, and draw then together within the same narrow compass; brings it under a decree, that it can save no more than it does, because it has bounds set. ... they shorten the hand of God, when it is stretched out to all; bound His ... love which is proferred to all; stint the blood of Christ, which gushes out upon all and circumcise His mercy.
Farindon insisted, "Why should not God's love be common? ...Why should we fear, God's love should be cast away by being proferred to many.
THE MERCY AND LOVE OF GOD
Just as universal redemption was a favourite preaching topic so was the love and mercy of God. Farindon outlined the extent of God's love and mercy in this way: Let the world be impure, let men be sinners, let justice be importunate, let power be formidable, let vengeance be ready to fall; yet all must fall back and yield to the mercy and love of God which cannot be overcome, nor bound, nor shut up, but will break forth, and make way through all opposition through sin, and all the powers of darkness, which besiege and compass it about; and will raise the siege, drive off and chase away these enemies; and to conquer sin, will deliver up his Son for the sinner. Indeed Man's basic nature is indeed the product of God's laws, or as Farindon expressed it, his creation "was the end of all God's laws." As "every law of God is the natural and proper effect and issue of His love," Farindon argued that "the nearer and liker a thing is to the first cause that produced it, the more perfect it is. As that heat is most perfect which is most intense, and has most of the fire in it; so man, the more he partakes of [what] is truly good of the Divine Nature of which his soul is as it were a sparkle the more perfect he is." Indeed this was the purpose for God creating him, so that through his "obedience and conformity to His will" man could "reign with Him for ever in glory." Just as this leads to perfection, so does it illustrate "the beauty of man". Thus the "beauty of the Lord is reflected in "the beauty of the subject". Man is therefore capable of living on the highest level and has the potential to perfection. Knowing that God is always more ready to be merciful than being judgemental towards us, it should mean we reciprocate this in our Christian living with others. Often being judgmental, as well as bringing condemnation, is the easy way out. It is much easier to be merciless than merciful, but it also breeds contempt, pride, and anger which work against the Holy Spirit. Being merciful on the other hand involves love, understanding and commitment, but it also leads to tenderness and gentleness. Then our mercy is “most pure and clear without taint or trouble.” Indeed “love opens the fountain, or rather [is] the fountain from whence it flows, when the love of Christ has begot in us the love of our brethren, and we show mercy to them ... for Christ’s sake.” Just as God’s mercy springs from His love for His frail creatures, so too must people’s mercy flow from love of God and fellow man. Farindon offered another challenge with this question, “Will [mercy] be a jewel in every cabinet but your own hearts?” “The proper act of mercy is to flow and to spend itself, and yet not to be spent; to relieve our brethren in misery, and in all the degrees that lead to it. ... To part with our coat to our brother is as necessary now as when Christ first taught it.” This Divine assures us that “God’s mercy is ready to shine upon ours, for He loves it, and loves to look on it.”
Imitating Christ was another favourite topic for the Caroline divines. This was best served in serving our brethren and in doing so this would “raise us up to be like Him.” Farindon also taught that Our Lord was "the best teacher and the greatest example of obedience", and that even the angels "would have us grow to ripeness and maturity and be perfect in Christ Jesus." Hence becoming a Christian meant following in the footsteps of Christ. Farindon believed that the angels expressed "joy and triumph ... at the birth of a Christian" that is, "at his imitation of Christ." So important was it to be an imitator of Christ, that "every real resemblancer of Christ is an angel's feast. ... They are glad spectators of our growth in Christ, and rejoice to see us every day becoming liker and liker to Him. They would have us grow to ripeness and maturity, and be perfect men in Christ Jesus.” Yet Farindon never hid the cost of trying to live as Christ did. What "Christ wrought upon Himself is most exact and perfect, a fit pattern of [what] He means to work on us; which will be like to Him indeed, but not so glorious." "To be like unto Christ is a work of time, and we grow up to this similitude by degrees. We must force out the love of the world, before we bring in the love of our brethren, ... We must maintain a tedious war against the flesh and be unlike ourselves before we can be like unto Christ." To imitate Christ Christians must know the life of Christ well through meditating upon it. One of the important aspects on which to ponder is Christ’s humility:
He suffered Himself to be fashioned in the womb of a virgin, digested into members, knit together with sinews, built up with bones, covered with flesh, enveloped with skin, raise up to the perfect similitude, no, drawn down to the low conditions of his creature! He would be anything but sin, to redeem man from sin, and save him. He would descend as low as the grave, yes, as hell itself, to raise him to a capability and hope of heaven and immortality.
Therefore "there is more in this Vivo than a bare rising to life. He lives inasmuch as He give life." Thus through Christ's resurrection "there is both virtue and power" which abolishes death and brings "life and immortality to light; a power to raise our vile bodies and a power to raise our viler souls." At the appropriate time God will "come at the Resurrection, to redeliver our bodies to our souls, and to deliver everlasting glory to both." "He will raise them?" asks Farindon. "No, He had done it already!" because "we are risen together with Him and we live with Him.” Farindon assures us that "we cannot think that He who made such haste out of His own grave can be willing to see us rotting in ours." Consequently "from this Vivo," it means "that though we die, yet we shall live again. Christ's living breathes life into us. In His Resurrection He casts the model of ours." Farindon explained, What "Christ wrought upon himself is most exact and perfect, a fit pattern of [what] He means to work on us; which will be like to His indeed, but not so glorious."
For the time being Christ is our High Priest in heaven ever interceding for us. "He can no more leave to intercede for us than He can to be Christ." It is He who takes up the prayers made by man on earth, and makes them powerful and sanctified. "Jesus at the right hand of the Father is more powerful than the full vials, the incense, the prayers, the groans, the sighs, the roaring of all the saints who have been or will be to the end of the world. ... By His power the sighs and breathings and desires of mortal men ascend the highest heavens and draw down eternity."
REPENTANCE AND MAN'S RESPONSE
Sounding very much like Andrewes who emphasised so often the need “to turn” for a true repentance, so did Farindon who preached “this duty of turning [is] the true nature of repentance.” When we confess and acknowledge ours sins it means we are not “pressed down” by them. Yet this turning involves "more than a bare knowledge of our sins, more than grief, more than acknowledgement or confession, more than a desire to change, more than an endeavour" it means and involved going from “one term or state to another." It means ridding ourselves “of every evil habit, and investing ourselves with those which are good." In this way the penitent manifests “a desire to be freed from the guilt and from the dominion of sin; a desire that reaches at liberty, and at heaven itself."
Farindon preached that “repentance for our sins is the business of our whole life.” He knew that to life the Christian life repentance is something that we do everyday of our lives. So he wisely preached that the Christian must persevere in this and in “a constant ‘turning away from our evil ways’”. Farindon added:
When sin has corrupted our faculties, we purge it out by repentance; and it is quite loss and forgotten in the ways of righteousness. And being turned, we never look back, never cast a thought after it but with sorrow and anger and destestation. And when it appears before us, it appears in a fouler shape and in greater horror than we beheld it in when we first fell upon our knees for pardon. For the more confirmed we are in goodness, the more abhorrent we are of evil, and defy it most when we stand at the greatest distance. We never loathe our disease more than when we are purged and healthy.
To turn away from sin and to God involves the will. If the will be turned, that is, captivated and subdued to that will of God which is the rule of all our actions, it becomes a shop and work-house of virtuous and religious actions. ... St. Bernard tells us that 'nothing does burn in hell but the will' and it is true. Nothing does reign in heaven but the will' ... When the will is ‘turned’ the soul is saved: the old man is a new creature, and this new creature changes no more but holds up the ‘turn’ till he be turned to dust, and raise again and then made like unto the angels.
Then "a repentant sinner is a glass, or rather God's own renewed image."
How many offend God, and yet call themselves his friends. How many are wilful in their disobedience and yet peremptory in their hope! How many run on in their evil ways, and leave fear behind them, which never overtake them, but is furtherest off when they are nearest to their journey's ends, and within a step of the tribunal! For that which made them sinless makes them senseless, And they easily suborn false comforts, - the weakness of the flesh, which they never resisted; and the mercy of God, which they ever abused, - to chase away all fear; and so they depart (we say) in peace, but are lost for ever, Human beings without the redemption of Christ and grace from the Holy Spirit will continue to live in darkness. As Farindon explained, "Before the Light came into the world, we were covered over with darkness and deformity and God could not look upon us but in anger.” Now “through the common Light we may be seen and be beloved we may be seen with pleasure.” However “if we will fully withdraw ourselves from this Light then does His soul hate us.” Yet “if we do not hide ourselves from it, ... He will look upon us through this light, and look lovingly upon us with favour and affection.”:
Without the Light of Christ "Man ... is a weak, indigent, insufficient creature, subject to every blast and breath, subject to misery as well as to passion ... shaken with his own fear, and pursued with other men's malice, rising and soaring up aloft, and then failing, sinking, and ready to fall; and when he falls, looking about for help and succour." Yet Christ answers this need and from Him "there goes forth virtue and power ... a power by which he sweetly and secretly and powerfully characterizes our hearts, and writes his mind in our minds, and so takes possession of them, and draws them unto Himself." Therefore "To dwell in Christ means to "learn not to turn away from Christ, but to look up upon the finisher of our faith." We should remember that we “are made partakers of the high calling in Jesus Christ; and not to debase and dishonour ourselves." Yet we must be cautious "that we do not deceive ourselves, and think that Christ dwells in us, when we carry about us but slender evidence that we dwell in Him.” After all “it is an easy matter to be deceived." However "If we do not love Him, and keep His commandments, I cannot see what Church, what congregation, can be a sanctuary to shelter us."
Anthony Farindon, although he may not have emphasised the sacramental nature of the Church in his sermons he nevertheless was a staunch son of the English Church and what it stood for in a most difficult time for faithful priests. We are fortunate to have those sermons he preached at St. Mary Magdalen, Milk Street London and others. Fortunate too were the faithful laypeople to have a priest who would administer to them in Word and Sacrament during that most awful time for the Church after the Civil War.