A Word of Prophesy

Henry Pinnell

Originally Printed In 1648

Posted On November 3, 2018

A WORD OF PROPHESY Concerning the Parliament, General Cromwell, and the Army. With a little of the first Adam. Wherein are divers objections answered, concerning that position of God, being the Author of Sin. Henry Pinnell. Included is Pinnell’s Introduction to the Third Volume of the Sermons of Tobias Crisp, entitled CHRIST ALONE EXALTED, 1646.

Henry Pinnell, born about 1613, was a Parliamentary Army Chaplain, and Minister of the Gospel, who was born, and spent much of his life in Brinkworth, a small village in northern Wiltshire. It was also here in Brinkworth, where Tobias Crisp, {from about 1627-1642,} served as Rector to a congregation of believers, being much followed for his edifying way of preaching the Gospel of Christ. Writing the preface to the Third Volume of Crisp’s Sermons, printed in 1646, we discover that Pinnell actually knew Crisp personally, for he informs his readers that upon his “own experience, and more than twelve years’ knowledge” he could readily vindicate the author “from all vicious licentiousness of life, and scandalous aspersions cast on his person by lying lips.” Pinnell not fearing to appear upon Crisp’s behalf, further stating that, “if I should not open my mouth in his behalf, whose industry and integrity God and his saints have so much approved, and from whose labours and yoke-fellow I have reaped so much comfort, if yet I should be silent, I desire to be marked with a black coal.”

Pinnell graduated from St Mary Hall, Oxford in 1634; though he himself states that, “all the learning I had at Oxford, I laid out and improved in opposing the truth,” furthermore stating that he received more spiritual instruction “from simple country people, husband-men, weavers, &c., about Brinkworth, Southwick, and those parts in Wiltshire, than ever I did, or yet have by books and preachers.” Pinnell, like Cradock, Dell & Webster, was vigorously opposed to a University Education in reference to manufacturing Gospel ministers, this being essentially and primarily the work of the Spirit, a tone evident in his writings. Whilst no account exists of his whereabouts after leaving Oxford, it would appear that he returned to his hometown of Brinkworth, gathered from the fact that he mentions being acquainted with Crisp for upwards of twelve years, perhaps indicative that he was a member of Crisp’s Congregation in that town?

The next time we officially hear of him, we find him as New Model Army Chaplain to Colonel John Pickering’s Regiment of Foot in 1645. {Pickering was a zealous puritan, and his regiment were made up of mostly Independents, who were closely aligned with Cromwell. His troops, a respected hard fighting unit, often at the forefront in difficult and dangerous actions, were prominent in the storming of Lincoln, the siege of York, and in 1644 distinguished themselves at the battle of Marston Moor.} One has to remember that the New Model Army was largely made up of Bible-reading, Psalm-singing soldiery which forsook their workshops and fields for pikes and muskets in support of the Parliamentary cause. Indeed, for Cromwell, Fairfax, and a large majority of those who were appointed chief officers, along with their Army Chaplains, the English Civil War was primarily a religious struggle. In a speech by Cromwell given in 1655 he states that, “religion was not the thing at first contested for, but God brought it to that issue at last; and gave it unto us by redundancy, and at last it proved that which was most dear to us.” Not only were the main issues religious ones, but from the point of view of the chaplains, many of the soldiers were also men that truly feared the Lord; and these saints they wanted to spiritually fortify with the truths of the Gospel, not only to mentally equip their minds to help enable them to wage a good warfare in the flesh, but primarily to strengthen their spiritual armour with that heavenly manna suitable to their welfare in Christ.

After some time in serving the interests of the Parliamentary cause, and more particularly upon the death of Pinnell’s Commanding Officer, Colonel John Pickering, who in November of 1645 fell sick and died, he began to become dissatisfied with the present course of the Army, and to question his own Military involvement. He states that, “by his death the Lord seemed to satisfy me, and to put an end to all my enquiries; I thought that it was his mind and will that I should abide no longer in that way, and with this I sat down well contented for a time,” as the Lord “began to confound my thoughts concerning the present War.” Despite many personal reservations, doubts and fears regarding his present state; a resolve to abandon his post, and actually leaving for some time, he reluctantly returned, confessing quite honestly that “many worldly and carnal arguments urged to me, such as my own covetous and deceitful heart had laid hold on before, but now stuck more closely unto, being pressed again by friends; so that I took up new resolutions, and did return again to the Army, to that which I had lately vomited up, my dogged nature barking at the approach and appearing of God.” He continues, stating that “objections came in a main, and my distractions increased. Sometimes the flesh, and Satan together, would put me forward with motives of pride, vain-glory, singularity, popular applause, getting a name, becoming famous, eminent and be taken notice of, as Mr. Sedgwick and Mr. Saltmarsh were.”

Gospel sermons preached by both Sedgwick and Saltmarsh would be the voice of the Lord to his bewildered state of mind, which as one reciprocal word were saying to him, “forsake, forsake, and come out of these crooked and carnal ways and paths.” So after much reluctance, and many inward battles, he left for Windsor in December of 1647, where he told Fairfax’s Council of War and Cromwell himself that they were betraying the Army. He recounts this in the following manner, “I could not rest till I went to Windsor to ease my thoughts before the General and some others.” “I told him that I had a message to him, and must entreat his patience to hear it. He desired me to walk into the house, and said, he would come presently, and nothing should interrupt his hearing of what I had to say. When he came in, I applied myself to his Excellency, and after some digression caused by the Scoutmaster, I spake more particularly to this effect unto him. Sir, you are like Ephraim oppressed and broken in judgment, you know not what to do, nor which way to turn; your understanding is lost, your counsel and wisdom blasted; you know not how to manage or dispose your Army as formerly you have done; all which the General confessed. Thus {said I} you are at a loss every way; and all because like Ephraim, you have willingly followed after the commands of men, and not of God. Then he was pleased to give me a particular account of his principles and actions, in reference to the war, from his first taking up of Arms unto that day.” Pinnell continues addressing Cromwell, “Sir, you have committed great adultery and defiled yourself with much uncleanness; you climb up into the bed of a strumpet, a whore and an adulterous woman, for now the Commissioners of Parliament are here.” He states that, “the neglect of their undertakings, the General did for the most part confess, but somethings he excused,” and continues in relating that “the General gave ear to all that I said with much candor and clemency, took all in good part and as afterwards also by Mr. Peters gave me thanks for my plain dealing, as he called it; so I bowed before him and took my leave.” Immediately the next day Mr. Hugh Peters preached a morning sermon, and Pinnell preached to the troops that afternoon. Pinnell seems to have left the Army about that time.

After leaving the army, a difficulty in obtaining a ministerial position seemed to follow him throughout the next few years. Still engaged in preaching, though not as a parson, vicar, or curate, he states that “the people still had some expectation” of him, and it seems that some objected to his manner of ‘spiritualizing’ the word. One charge being that he was “too seraphical and allegorical” in his preaching, he answered, {Nil Novi, This Years Fruit, from Last Years Root, 1655,} in the following manner, “such should all endeavor to be; and so seraphical would I be. I wish that I and all that upbraid me, had a larger measure of this Ministry, that we were able to show God more clearly to men, and bring men more near unto God. He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the spiritual Ministry of God is in the Church. As men yet love to dally and play with the letter, and to cut such a Religion out of the Scripture, as will indulge and mince their faults, that will keep their own sin and God’s mercy a great way off from them, that will form such a Christ without them, who can find no room in their inn, but must be thrust out among their bestial lusts; the crafty, subtle, serpentine, Luke 2:7, foxlike thoughts; the ambitious, proud, airy imaginations of men, are such and so many, that Christ hath not where to lay his head in their hearts. Matt.8:20.”

And then comparing Christ to the Cherubims, he says, that Christ “spreads both his wings of Divinity and Humanity, Law and Gospel, Letter and Spirit, both united in him, over the Mercy-seat, that there might be no more condemnation to us, Rom.8:1, but that we should have boldness at the throne of grace, and find help in time of our need, Heb.4:16, because our Cherub, our Christ, appears in the presence of God for us, Heb.9:24; this our Angel doth always behold the face of our Father in heaven, Mat.18:10, whose face is the mercy-seat, Psal.4:6; 17:15; John 14:8, for, like his name, Exod.34:6,7, it is merciful, gracious, pardoning, &c. Forasmuch then as all things work together for our good, and that by the Creation, Law, Gospel, Letter, Spirit, &c., God intends to draw us nearer to himself, let us not neglect his great Salvation.”

Though little account exists of his later years, and none of the exact day of his departure from this world, a fitting conclusion would be a few sentences from his book entitled, Nil Novi, where he says, “I am finishing a short course, and would have no other mark in my eye but this, that the day of my audit is at hand; all my care is to cast my account clear, and to give it up with comfort. I like even reckoning with all men, and love not to be at odds with any but the Devil, the World, and my Self.”