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suaded have sunk to a very low ebb in the nation, had it not been for the bold and noble stand these worthies made against imposition upon conscience, profaneness and arbitrary power. They had the best education England could afford; most of them were excellent scholars, judicious divines, pious, faithful, and laborious ministers; of great zeal for God and religion; undaunted and courageous in their master's work; keeping close to their people in the worst of times; diligent in their studies; solid, affectionate, powerful, lively, awakening preachers; aiming at the advancement of real vital religion in the hearts and lives of men, which, it cannot be denied, flourished greatly wherever they could influence. Particularly, they were men of great devotion and eminent abilities in prayer, uttered, as God enabled them, from the abundance of their hearts and affections; men of divine eloquence in pleading at the throne of grace; raising and melting the affections of their hearers, and being happily instrumental in transfusing into their souls the same spirit and heavenly gift. And this was the ground of all their other qualifications; they were excellent men, because excellent, instant and fervent in prayer $. Such were the fathers, the first formers of the Dissenting interest. And you here in Lancashire had a large share of these burning and shining lights. Those who knew them not might despise them, but your forefathers, wiser and less prejudiced, esteemed them highly in love for their work's sake. You were once happy in your Newcombs, your Jollies, your Heywoods, &c. who left all to follow Christ, but Providence cared for them, and they had great comfort in their ministerial services. The presence and
$ This is doubtless a just account; but it ought to be recollected (as not at all inconsistent with it) that the generality of them had no conscientious objection to a LITURGY ; that most of them would have used that of the Church of England, if certain alterations, which they proposed, had been admitted ; and that Mr. BAXTER himself drew up a Reformed Liturgy for their use, with the approbation of many of his bretren, of which Dr. Calamy has preserved a copy.
blessing blessing of God appeared in their assemblies, and attended their labours. But now, alas! we are pursuing measures which have a manifest tendency to extinguish the light which they kindled, to damp the spirit which they enlivened, and to dissipate and dissolve the societies which they raised and formed !-Let my soul for ever be with the souls of these men.”- (Scripture Account of Prayer, p. 50.)
Their abilities and learning, as well as their integrity and piety, have been acknowledged by many eminent Conformists themselves. Not here to mention the honourable testimonies of several dignitaries in the church of England to individuals among them, (which will appear in the ensuing work) Bp. BURNET says, “ Many of them were distinguished by 6 their abilities and their zeal*.” And the great Mr. LOCKE, who was well acquainted with several of them, has left his testimony, not only to the characters and abilities of the men, but likewise to the goodness of their cause, and the injustice of the treatment they met with. The whole passage (of which a part is selected for our motto) deserves to be made more generally known, and is therefore here inserted of. " After this followeth The Act of Uniformity; by which all the clergy of England are obliged to subscribe and declare what the corporations, nobility and gentry had before sworn; but with this additional clause of the militia-act omitted. This the clergy readily complied with; for you know that sort of men are taught rather to obey than understand, and to use the learning they have to justify, not to examine, what their superiors command. And yet, that BARTHOLOMEW-DAY was fatal to our church and religion, by throwing out a very great number of WORTHY, LEARNED, PIOUS, und ORTHODOX divines, who could not come up to this, and * History of his own Time, vol. 1. p. 375, 2mo edit.
+ Locke's PSS. Works, Des Maizeaux, Col. p. 62. Fol. 2d edit, p: 20. Letter from a person of quality.
other other things in that Act. And it is worth your know ledge, that so great was the zeal in carrying on this church-affair, and so blind was the obedience required, that if you compare the time of passing the Act with the time allowed for the clergy to subscribe the book of Common-prayer thereby established, you shall plainly find, it could not be printed and distributed so as one man in forty could have seen and read the book they did so perfectly assent and consent to.-But this matter was not compleat until the Five-mile-act passed at Oxford. Thus our church became triumphant, and continued so for divers years; the Protestant Dissenters being the only enemies, and therefore only persecuted; while the Papists remained undisturbed, being by the court thought loyal, and by our great bishops not dangerous, they differing only in doctrines and fundamentals ; but as to the Government of the church, that was, in their religion, in its highest exaltation."
A late writer, however, has represented the ejected ministers as destitute both of learning and sense *. Having censured the method of instrucó tion from the pulpit from the time of Henry VIII. to that of Charles I. he proceeds as follows: “ Upon the downfall of episcopacy in the latter end of this reign, came in an unlettered tribe, who did not mend the matter at all. They did not indeed (for a very obvious reason) weary the audience with Latin and Greek quotations from the Fathers, but what they could they did ; they ransacked the Bible from one end to the other for proofs and illustrations, which was an inexhaustible fund for ekeing out an extemporary effusion to any given length ; and an hourglass was placed by them, whereby to estimate the quantity of their labour. Their discourses were divided and subdivided, &c. and this indeed was the case, in a great measure, of their more learned pre
* Preface to Miscellany. Sermons of several divines of the church of England in the last century, in 4 vols. 8vo.
decessors.-Those twelve years of usurpation, so far as one can judge from the printed discourses of those times, did not produce one rational preacher.” These illiberal and unjust reflections, being thrown out by a dignitary of the church of England", and one distinguished as a writer in another capacity, ought not to pass unnoticed.
It is true, some illiterate men came into the church on the downfall of episcopacy, but it is unjust to style the body of them an unlettered tribe, or the sequestered clergy their more learned predecessors. It is certain that many who went out of the church, at the time referred to, were as illiterate as any that came in ; and with respect to divinity, (the grand branch of pulpit-learning) abundantly more so; for many of them could not make a sermon. It is also certain that many who came in were, in respect to every branch of literature, upon a full equality with any who. went out, as were the generality of the Nonconformists who had always been in the church. And why should it be thought otherwise? They had the same advantages, being educated in the same universities, and their capacities and application to study were no way inferior. So that if they “ did not weary their audience with Latin and Greek quotations,” it was not for that reason which Dr. Burn
* So the Editor was stiled in the advertisements of the work ; which is commonly ascribed to Dr. Burn, author of the Justice of Peace, &c.See Monthly Review for Dec. 1773, where the above passage is commended. A circumstance somewhat singular, as those writers have been generally disposed to chastize such high-church prejudice.
It ought to be remembered, (but by many is unknown or forgotten) That the ministers ejected after the Restoration, were not all of ther such as came in during the usurpation : far from it. Considerable numbers of them had been in the church long before ; had been edu. cated in the universities, and several had received episcopal ordination. Many of them also were averse to the usurpation, and had warmly espoused the royal cause. Some had even suffered for it, and were among the most zealous for the Restoration. This may serve as a sufficient answer to a letter, severely reflecting on the ejected ministers as having no right to be in the church and therefore justly 'expelled; signed J. Watkins, which first appeared in The Churchman's Magazine, No. 4, and was reprinted in The Gentleman's Mag. for August 1801.
thinks the Orient they ransacked the avanced, does no
thinks very obvious, but because they were more solicitous to answer the great ends of preaching, than to display their learning. That they could have done this in the manner it is said their predecessors did, sufficiently appears from their writings, which as much abound with Latin and Greek quotations as those of any in their times; and many of them give sufficient evidence of their general acquaintance with the Oriental languages.
That “they ransacked the BJBLE for proofs and il lustrations” of what they advanced, does not seem · greatly to their dishonour; therein they acted, at
least, as much in character as those preachers who ransack heathen moralists, or more commonly English poets and stage-plays, and who scorn to quote a scripture-passage after they have read their text. If some of these ministers preached extempore, they did what many of their successors could not do; and they were full as pardonable as those that never preached at all, but were obliged only to read a Homily. The assertion however is not generally true. Many of them carefully composed their sermons, of which numbers were printed from their notes; though they preached memoriter, as most foreign divines do. And others had their minds so well stored with ideas on divine subjects, and took such previous pains to digest them, that they could produce discourses equally worthy the pulpit, with those of the majority of their later successors, whether they deliver their own compositions, or adopt the kind provision made for them by a Trusler, an Enfield,
S No reflection was here intended on Dr. Enfield, whose superior abie lities as a sermonizer are well known. But that gentleman, who was then a Reviewer, was so much offended with having his name introducod in this connection (though he had lately printed sernons with the same design as the other two) that he thought proper to chastize the editor by giving a very disparaging account of The Nonconformist's Memorial, in the Monthly Review. This information was received from the late candid Dr. Kippis, himself then a writer in that journal, who mentioned the fact in the strongest terms of disapprobation. It ought how