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Henry Ainsworth, (1571 – 1622) was an English Nonconformist clergyman and scholar.

Contents

Life

A page from Ainsworth's Annotations
using the divine name Iehovah.

He was born of a farming family of Swanton Morley, Norfolk. He was educated at Caius College, Cambridge,[1] and, after associating with the Puritan party in the Church, eventually joined the Separatists.

Driven abroad about 1593, he found a home in "a blind lane at Amsterdam", acting as "porter" to a bookseller, who, on discovering his knowledge of Hebrew, introduced him to other scholars. When part of the London church, of which Francis Johnson (then in prison) was pastor, reassembled in Amsterdam, Ainsworth was chosen as their doctor or teacher. In 1596 he drew up a confession of their faith, reissued in Latin in 1598 and dedicated to the various universities of Europe (including St Andrews, Scotland). Johnson joined his flock in 1597, and in 1604 he and Ainsworth composed An Apology or Defence of such true Christians as are commonly but unjustly called Brownists.

Organizing the church was not easy and dissension was rife. Though often involved in controversy, Ainsworth was not arrogant, but was a steadfast and cultured champion of the principles represented by the early Congregationalists. Amid all the controversy, he steadily pursued his studies. The combination was so unique that some have mistaken him for two different individuals. (Confusion has also been occasioned through his friendly controversy with one John Ainsworth, who left the Anglican for the Roman Catholic church.)

In 1610 Ainsworth was forced reluctantly to withdraw, with a large part of their church, from Johnson and those who adhered to him. A difference of principle as to the church's right to revise its officers' decisions had been growing between them; Ainsworth taking the more Congregational view. In spirit he remained a man of peace.

Works

In 1608 Ainsworth answered Richard Bernard's The Separatist Schisme, but his greatest minor work in this field was his reply to John Smyth (commonly called "the Se-Baptist"), entitled Defence of Holy Scripture, Worship and Ministry used in the Christian Churches separated from Antichrist, against the Challenges, Cavils and Contradictions of Mr Smyth (1609).

His scholarly works include his Annotations -- on Genesis (1616); Exodus (1617); Leviticus (1618); Numbers (1619); Deuteronomy (1619); Psalms (including a metrical version, 1612); and the Song of Solomon (1623). These were collected in folio in 1627. From the outset the Annotations took a commanding place, especially among continental scholars, establishing a scholarly tradition for English nonconformity.

His publication of Psalms, The Book of Psalmes: Englished both in Prose and Metre with Annotations (Amsterdam, 1612), which includes thirty-nine separate monophonic psalm tunes, constituted the Ainsworth Psalter, the only book of music brought to New England in 1620 by the Pilgrim settlers. Although its content was later reworked into the Bay Psalm Book, it had an important influence on the early development of American psalmody.

Ainsworth died in 1622, or early in 1623, for in that year was published his Seasonable Discourse, or a Censure upon a Dialogue of the Anabaptists, in which the editor speaks of him as a departed worthy.

References

  1. ^ Ainsworth, Henry in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HENRY AINSWORTH (1571-1622), English Nonconformist divine and scholar, was born of yeoman stock in 1570/1 at Swanton Morley, Norfolk. He was for four years from December 1587 a scholar of Caius College, Cambridge, and, after associating with the Puritan party in the Church, eventually joined the Separatists. Driven abroad about the year 1593, he found a home in "a blind lane at Amsterdam." He acted as "porter" to a scholarly bookseller in that city, who, on discovering his skill in the Hebrew language, made him known to his countrymen. When part of the London church, of which Francis Johnson (then in prison) was pastor, reassembled. In Amsterdam, Ainsworth was chosen as their doctor or teacher. In 1596 he took the lead in drawing up a confession of their faith, which he reissued in Latin in 1598 and dedicated to the various universities of Europe (including St Andrews, Scotland). Johnson joined his flock in 1597, and in 160 4 he and Ainsworth composed An Apology or Defence of such true Christians as are commonly but unjustly called Brownists. The task of organizing the church was not easy and dissension was rife. Of Ainsworth it may be said that, though often embroiled in controversy, he never put himself forward; yet he was the most steadfast and cultured champion of the principles represented by the early Congregationalists. Amid all the strife of controversy, he steadily pursued his rabbinical studies. The combination was so unique that many, like the encyclopaedists L. Moreri and J. H. Zedler, have made two Henry Ainsworths - one Dr Henry Ainsworth, a learned biblical commentator; the other H. Ainsworth, an arch-heretic and "the ringleader of the Separatists at Amsterdam." Some confusion has also been occasioned through his not unfriendly controversy with one John Ainsworth, who abjured the Anglican for the Roman church. In 1608 Ainsworth answered Richard Bernard's The Separatist Schisme. But his ablest and most arduous minor work in controversy was his reply to John Smyth (commonly called "the Se-Baptist"), entitled a Defence of Holy Scripture, Worship and Ministry used in the Christian Churches separated from Antichrist, against the Challenges, Cavils and Contradictions of Mr Smyth (1609). In 1610 he was forced reluctantly to withdraw, with a large part of their church, from F. Johnson and those who adhered to him. For some time a difference of principle, as to the church's right to revise its officers' decisions, had been growing between them, Ainsworth taking the more Congregational view. (See Congregationalism.) But in spirit he remained a man of peace. His memory abides through his rabbinical learning. The ripe fruit of many years' labour appeared in his Annotations - on Genesis (1616); Exodus (1617); Leviticus (1618); Numbers (1619); Deuteronomy (1619); Psalms (including a metrical version, 1612); Song of Solomon (1623). These were collected in folio in 1627, and again in 1639, and later in various forms. From the outset the Annotations took a commanding place, especially among continental scholars, and he established for English nonconformity a tradition of culture and scholarship. There is no probability about the narrative given by Neal in his History of the Puritans (ii. 47) that he was poisoned by certain Jews. He died in 1622, or early in 1623, for in that year was published his Seasonable Discourse, or a Censure upon a Dialogue of the Anabaptists, in which the editor speaks of him as a departed worthy.

Literature. - John Worthington's Diary (Chetham Society), by Crossley, i. 263-266; works of John Robinson (1851); H. M. Dexter, Congregationalism of the Last Three Hundred Years (1880); W. E. A. Axon, H. Ainsworth, the Puritan Commentator (1889); F. J. Powicke, Henry Barrow and the Exiled Church of Amsterdam (1900); J. H. Shakespeare, Baptist and Congregational Pioneers (1906).


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