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be hung in the meeting-place ; that did enclose as much roomi as above fifty might sit within it, and among those men, he that preached should stand that so, if any informer was privately in the room as a hearer, he might hear him that spake, but could not see him, and thereby not know him.' And there were brethren without the curtain, that would hinder any from going within the curtain, that they did not know to be friends, and let whoso would come into our meeting, to hear without the curtain. And when our company and time were come to begin the meeting, we drew the curtain, and filled up the stairs with women and maids that sat on it, that the informers could not quickly run up. . .
" And when we had notice that the informers or officers were coming, we caused the minister, or brother, that preached, to forbear and sit down. Then we drew back the curtain, laying the whole room open, that they might see us all. 'And so all the people began to sing a psalm that, at the beginning of the meeting, we did always name what psalm we would sing, if the informers, or the mayor or his officers, came in. Thus till when they came in we were singing, so that they could not find any one preaching, but all singing. And at our meeting we ordered it so that none read the psalm after the first line; but every one brought their Bibles, and so read for themselves; that they might not lay hold of any one for preaching, or as much as reading the psalm, and so imprison any more for that, as they had our ministers. Which means the Lord blessed, that many times when the mayor came they were all singing, that he knew not who to take away more than another. 'And so when the mayor, Hellier, or the other informers, had taken our names, and done what they would, and carried away whom they pleased, and when they were gone down out of our rooms, then we ceased singing, and drew the curtain again, and the minister, or brother, would go on with the rest of the sermon, until they came again, which some times they would thrice in one meeting disturb us, or until our time was expired. This was our constant manner during the persecution, in Olive's mayoralty, and we were by the Lord helped, that we were in a good measure edified, and our enemies often disappointed.-Laus Deo."
THÉ FIVE-MILE ACT, passed in 1665, was an attempt to retrieve the failure of the Conventicle Act. The “geditious conventicles," as the private religious meetings of our fathers were insultingly called, being thronged, despite the cruel legislation of the previous year, the bishops, led by Sheldon, sought to break them up by separating the ministers from their flocks. The new Act imposed on every Nonconforming minister the following oath:-"I do swear that it is not lawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to take arms against the King...And I will not at any time endeavour any alteration of government either in Church or State. This was an oath which no true patriot, and still more no honest Nonconformist, could possibly take. To forswear any attempt at reforming either the civil or ecclesiastical rule and administration, would have been to acknowledge themselves the slaves of a despotic government. Lord Southampton, in opposing the Bill in the Upper House, averred that no honest man could take the required oath. He himself, he said, had always been firm to the Church, yet as things were now managed, he did not know but that he might see cause to endeavour an alteration. “I will not be sworn," he exclaimed, “not to take away Episcopacy." And yet, unless the Noneonformist clergy would thus forswear their right as Englishmen, and their duty as Christians, they were to be mercilessly bapished from their homes the homes in which they had found refuge when driven from their parsonages and from the friends who loved and honoured them for their work's sakesi. The Act • forbade them, under the sternest penalties, to reside within five miles of any place in which they had exercised the pastoral office, or any city or corporate town, or even to approach within that distance of them, except on a journey. So that a minister for visiting any of his old parishioners or friends, to comfort them in sickness, or stand by their dying-bed, might be arrested, fined “ £40 of lawful English money,” or be cast for six months into prison. The spirit of the Act was as ingenious as it was dastardly. No more likely means could have been taken for severing the bonds by which the ejected pastors and their flocks were bound together. But before the dauntless devotion of the Nonconformists, cleric and lay, even this ingeniously-devised tyranny fell powerless. The ministers were indeed driven from their homes, deprived of most of the few comforts and alleviations they had enjoyed. The informers held high festival. Their reports are still extant by the score. Here is one of them, addressed to Secretary Bennet: “Mr. Anderson dwells at Walton-on-Thames, where he was last minister. He is a young man, and has parts to commend him, but he is now very poor, and his wife is ill. The constable of Walton will best get him at home on the week-days Monday or Tuesday.” But though hunted from place to place by the hungry zeal of informers, the Ejected would not hold their peace, por pause in executing the high commission they held from heaven. They were instant in season and out of season. They preached " in large families, with only four strangers, and as many under the age of sixteen as would come ;” or “ in places where people might hear in several adjoining houses," so keeping within the terms of the Conventicle Act. They resided beyond the limits prescribed by the Five-mile Act; but they did not scruple either to violate its provisions, when there was pressing need for their service, or to evade them at all times in order that they might meet and edify the faithful remnant who clave to them. “They rode in the early night, when no stars shone, under the cloud-rack, amid pitiless rain, against the rushing storm, to meet a few worshippers; and before morning broke they were at home again. Congregations gathered beneath the open heavens, by running brooks, whose murmur drowned for distant listeners the preacher's voice, or in the pathless wood, where, on detection, they could readily disperse. They met in dismal cellars, and in darkened attics; and now they must not sing, and the preacher must speak low, for the informer might be even at the door. Labour was nothing to them, danger nothing, bondage nothing. Their preaching could not be stopped. They were imprisoned, and found a congregation of criminals in the jail: out of the dungeon windows their voices sounded, and devout listeners gathered beneath the gloomy walls." They dared everything, except to be unfaithful to their ministerial call; did anything that they might continue faithful to Him who had called them. The celebrated Joseph Alleine expressed the feeling which glowed in many of their breasts, when, at his first meeting with his friends after the passing of this Act, he said: “Methinks there are several periods of time, since the time of our calamities, wherein God hath appeared to us when we thought all had been gone. One period was when your ministers were shut out of public by the Act of Uniformity. Another, when we were cast out of our private meetings by the Act made against seditious conventicles, 80 called by the iniquity of the times. Another, by this Act that doth now cast ministers out of their habitations. And, methinks, every period should end with praise. We read, when they removed the ark, that, when they had passed such a number of paces, then they slew a sacrifice.' So, methinks, as we pass these periods of time, at the end of every period we should offer praise.” The clouds returned after the rain, darkening afresh the horizon of these devoted men; but the sun of their faith broke through, making even these obstructing threatening clouds minister to its splendour, and drawing a richer harvest of good works for every shower that fell.
To men moulded to this high heroic témper, it mattered little what Acts of . Parliament the bishops might carry. They had “hid in their hearts" statutes of a far loftier origin, a far more sacred and binding force; and, in obedience to
these, went straight on, cleaving their way through whatever human enactments might oppose them. However cruel the penalties they were called to suffer, they could endure them, and find in each new sacrifice they had to make a theme for praise. They forsook all that they had for Christ's sake and the Gospel's; and in the nobler and more heavenly life which grew out of their selfrenunciation, bringing with it an inward sustaining joy to which all worldly mirth is a mere weariness, and an inward spiritual opulence to which all earthly gains are but drošs, they received the promised '“ hundredfold now, in this present time," while, in the upper world, they have long since entered on the “ life everlasting.”
These, then, are the men whose fidelity to conscience we this year commemorate, and these the acts for which we desire that they should be held in grateful remembrance. Would God that we were more worthy to take their names on our lips; that the animating spirit of our lives were more nearly akin to theirs ! Had the champions of the Establishment objected to us as unworthy to be called children of the Puritan fathers, as lacking the lofty heroic strain of these English confessors, they would have taken us at a disadvantage. We should have been humbled at the consciousness of our weakness. But passing by the breach by which they might have entered, they have led the assault against the very defences which are impregnable. They have questioned the heroism of the Puritan confessors, have dwarfed them below the common standards of Christian manhood, and have been content to affirm that they did not hold the principles which we maintain. The whole story of the Ejectment proves that they have done injustice to the heroic spirit of our fathers; and a few con·cluding words will show that from them we derive at least the distinctive principles which we hold most dear and sacred. There is not one of the “grounds of Nonconformity” published by them at the very time of their ejection on which we do not stand at this very day.* Briefly epitomised, the case stands thus : The Act of Uniformity made requisitions on the Puritan clergy with which they could not conscientiously comply. That Act still exists, is still in force; it makes now precisely the same requisitions that it made then, and with precisely the same result,—that of excluding hundreds of conscientious Christian men from the Established Church.
Our fathers could not give “ their unfeigned assent and consent to all and everything contained and prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer;” nor can we. They did not think it “certain by God's word, that children which are baptized are saved ;” nor can we think it by any means certain. They thought that to compel “ the sign of the cross” was a departure from the simplicity of Christ; and we are very much of their mind. They would not "reject from the Lord's Supper all such as would not receive it kneeling ;” neither can we. Neither we nor they find it “ evident to all men diligently reading the Holy Scriptures and ancient authors" “ that bishops, priests, and deacons are three distinct orders in the Church by Divine appointment." They found it impossible "to pronounce all saved that are buried except the unbaptized, excommunicate, and self-murderers ;” it is equally impossible to us. They could not read the Athanasian Creed and affirm of its dark maze of dogma, * which faith, except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly:" we gravely doubt whether any one ever kept such a faith, or ever so much as understood what keeping it would mean; and we are not prepared to, affirm the everlasting perdition of the entire race. It would be as alien to our convictions as to theirs “ to admit none to the holy communion until such time as he be confirmed;" to excommunicate any who should charge the Book of Prayer
* These “ grounds” may be found in Palmer's " Nonconformist's Memorial,” vol. i. pp. 33 to 54.
with “containing anything repugnant to the Scriptures ;” or for " affirming any of the Thirty-nine Articles to be erroneous ;” or for pronouncing “such as separate themselves from the Church of England to be true churches.". They deemed it wrong to suspend a minister for “officiating without a surplice :" wo perhaps should be more disposed to suspend him for officiating with one. They would not declare “that it is not lawful, upon any pretence, to take up arms against the King : " it is nothing to say that we should think it our duty to take up arms in certain very conceivable circumstances; Episcopalians in this would be no whit behind the Nonconformists. So far from its being true, therefore, that “modern Nonconformists hold no one principle in common with the Ejected,” the simple fact is that, besides holding with them all the rudiments of the Christian faith, there is not one of the reasons put forward by them as constraining them to refuse subscription which we do not put forward as constraining us to the like refusal.
THE TEMPORARY AND PERMANENT VIRTUES OF THE
(Concluded.) We are well aware we have traced the and virtues as inferior to those which we improvements of a very animated and dili- shall carry with us to the mansions of gent Ohristian, who is considerably superior glory, and retain, as our excellence and felito the common rank of the good. It is to be | city, through an endless duration. And since lamented that by their indolence, love of the the permanent character of these virtues, world, and indisposition to high aspirations and the noble happiness they afford, render and efforts after the brightest acquisitions them superior to the others which we shall of piety, most of the servants of Christ are leave behind in the dust of mortality, they detained in a state of doubt, infelicity, and are evidently entitled to the highest eultilow attainments. They never rise to the vation. They claim to be cherished and spirituality and devotion to which religion aspired after with the most constant diliinvites, and offers to conduct them. But gence and vigour. Forming the most splenour description is verified to the full in did and lasting distinctions of our character, some happy instances, and it perfectly cor the immortal ornaments and graces of the responds to the inspired account of the mind, the substance of our holiness and bliss, progress of the saved in wisdom and | they deserve to have all the fervoar of the holiness. "The path of the just is as a soul expended on their attainment and shining light, that shineth more and more preservation...
, unto the perfect day.”
By the necessities of our nature, and the While inspecting the interior nature of beneficent laws of heaven, we are placed un. our piety, and observing its progress in der a saored obligation to be very happy in refinement and bliss, it is a happy employ- the service of God; but religion has much ment of thought to separate its distressing to perform in the mind, before it can im. and temporary qualities from those which part its abundant riches of consolation, are delightful and permanent, and to re hope, and felicity. When first introduced member that the former will soon depart 1 into our nature, innumerable propensities from our minds, but that the latter will oppose its dominion and power; its purity remain in their utmost purity and virtue and light meet with a prolonged and unholy for ever. The one class of feelings are resistance. It has to perform the mighty the mortal attire of religion, the other its achievement of bringing the sentiments and celestial and everlasting substance. It is a affections of a debased and corrupt soul serious duty to regard the fugitive emotions into harmony and alliance with itself. It
* Communicated by J. E. Ryland, M.A.
must infuse much of its sanctity and light, | plaint, in an indolent repose of their souls expel the distempers and miseries of our | under the burden of the frailties and fears spirits, conquer the inclinations that oppose that, oppress them. They often manifest compliance with its dictates, gain a su a strange delight in recounting these grievous preme ascendency over us, and produce a sentiments, as though they were to be adtemper congenial to itself, before we can mired rather than lamented. This is a possibly receive and relish its purest con most sad and unhealthy state of mind, solations and delights. For want of making most unbecoming a Christian to indulge; a complete surrender of themselves to the and one of its worst symptoms is often dominion of religion, for want of more con exhibited in a guilty reluctance to make stant and vigorous diligence in acquiring those strong and constant applications to its graces and performing its duties, the pious truth and duty which alone can minds of so many Christians are habitually improve and cure it. We wish that all oppressed with doubts and infected by sor such professed disciples of our religion, rows which are destructive to their own spi delightful in itself and intended to infuse ritual happiness and dishonourable to the peace, vigour, and delight into all who eminterests of piety. They are at once to be brace it, could be stimulated to these efforts pitied and blamed.
of prayer and animated diligence, which The real distresses of enlightened and would soon expel their sorrows and raise -- penitent minds deserve to be regarded with them to the strength and bloom of mental 2. the utmost pity and tenderness, and should health, with the numerous joys that attend it.
be alleviated and soothed by every proper If they more fervently toiled to advance in means. Sorrows and fears, of greater or holiness, to relinquish their indolence, to conless intensity, will generally be felt at the quer their sins, to employ the remedies commencement of a religious life, when which Heaven has provided to cure the
the soul is - brought out of darkness into | moral disorders of our minds, their Rept. marvellous light," but the provision of | deemer would give" them beauty for asher, mercy exhibited in the Gospel, and the means i the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of of holy improvement, will gradually remove praise for the spirit of heaviness.” them if devoutly applied. Some few in A clear perception of the distinction we stances may occasionally be met with of have traced between the permanent virtues a deep and lasting distress combined with and felicities of religion may tend to premuch humility and devotion, much spirit vent this class of Christians from attaching uality and obedience ; but in most of these so much importance and worth to the disa cases it may be clearly perceived that the tresses and complaints which they are indistress originates in causes over which clined to indulge. They are apt to imagine religion has no control; in a mysterious that much of real piety consists in its sympathy of the mind with the maladies merely fugitive and grievous attendants ; of the body, which even the balm of heaven they are apt to mistake its dark shadow cannot heal. Sentiments of the deepest for its refulgent substance, to identify the solicitude and concern will naturally arise temporary sadness it occasions with its when the light and power of religion are lasting and delightful reality. Let them first experienced: the convictions of guilt, be assured that the mourning and melanthe consciousness of moral pollution and choly cast which their piety wears is no debasement, the awful prospect of futurity indication of its excellence, being rather
dimly perceived, inevitably produce many a proof of its general imperfection and La solemn anxieties and fears ; but if they are weakness.
not soon assuaged and removed by humble "To be spiritually minded is life and recourse to the mercy of the Redeemer, peace.” They may also be justly reminded if they remain for a long time to distress the of the serious fact that a person may be immind and hinder the attainment of peace, pressed with convictions of sin, and mourn it indicates a melancholy defect, either 'in under a sense of frailty and gloom, without the perception of saving truth, or in being a Christian; but no one can be the believing application of it to the mind. happy in the pursuits and employments of The inferior feelings of a serious kind, the spiritual religion, he cannot delight in the sorrows of which are mingled with piety, Lord and serve bim' with gladness, until are too much retained, and even cherished, he has assumed that glorious character. by many Christians. Their religion seems | The more pure serenity and happiness merely to consist in mourning and coin our religion affords, the brighter proof