Imágenes de páginas

"This brought down the storm, and revived the persecution, which had slackened a little upon the late king's death. His majesty was now encouraged to pursue his brother's measures. The lories, who adhered firmly to the prerogative. were gratified with full license to distress the dissenters, who were to be sacrificed over again to a bigotted clergy and an incensed King, zealous for their destruction, (says bislop Kennet, ) in order to unite and increase the strength of popery, which he favored without reserve. Upon this, all meetinghouses of protestant dissenters were shut up, the old trade of informing revived and flourished; the spiritual courts were crowded with business; private conventicles were disturbed in all parts of the city and country. If they surprised the minister, he was pulled out of his pulpit by constables or soldiers and together with his people, carried before a confiding justice of peace, who obliged them to pay their files, or dragged them to prison. If the minister escaped, they ransacked the house from top to bottom; tore down hangings, broke open chambers and closets; entered the rooms of those that were sick, and offered all kinds of rudeness and incivilities to the family, though they met with no manner of opposition or resistance. Shopkeepers were separated from their trades and business; and sometimes wives from their husbands and children; several families were obliged to remove to distant places, to avoid the direful effects of excommunication from the commons; and great sums of money were levied as forfeitures, which had been earned by honest labor. Dissenting ministers could neither travel the road, nor appear in public but in disguise; nay, they were afraid to be seen in the houses of their friends, pursuivants from the spiritual courts being always upon the watch.

“One of the first who came into trouble was the reverend Mr. Baxter, who was committed to the King's bench prison February 28, for some exceptionable passages in his paraphrase on the New Testament, reflecting on the order of diocesan bishops, and the lawfulness of resistance in some possible cases. The passages were in his paraphrase on Matt, v, 19; Mark xi, 31, xii, 38, 39, 40; Luke x, 2; John xi, 57, and Acts xv, 2. They were collected by Sir Roger Estrange; and a certain eminent clergyman, reported to be Dr. Sh-ck, put into the hands of his enemies some accusations from Rom. xiii, that might touch his life, but no use was made of them. Mr. Baxter being ill, moved by his council for time; but Jeffries said he would not give him a minute's time, to save his life. 'Yonder stands Oates in the pillory, (says he,) and if Mr. Barter stood on the other side I would say, two of the greatesl rogues in England stood there.' He was brought to his trial May 30th, but the chief justice would rot adınit his council to plead for their client. When Mr. Baxter offered to speak for himself, Jeffries called him a snivelling canting presbyterian, and said, “Richard, Richard, do'nt thou think we will hear thee poison the court. Richard, thou art an old fellow, and an old knave; thou hast written books enough to load a cart, every one as full of sedition, I might say of treason, as an egg is full of meat; hadst thou been whipt out of thy writing trade forty years ago, it had been happy. Thou pretendest to be a preacher of the Gospel of peace; as thou hast one foot in the grave, 'tis time for thee to begin to think what account thou intendest to give; but leave thee to thyself, and I see thou wilt go on as thou hast begun;but by the grace of God I will look after thee. I know thou hast a mighty party, and I see a great many of the brotherhood in corners, waiting to see what will become of their mighty don, and a doctor of the party, (doctor Bates,) at your elbow, but by the grace of Almighty God, I will crush you all.” The chief justice having directed the jury, they found him guilty without going from the bar, and fined him five hundred marks, to lay in prison till he had paid it, and be bound to his good behavior for seven years. Mr. Baxter continued in prison about two years, and when the court changed its measures, his fine was remitted, and he was released.” pp. 145, 146.

It has often been contended, that mankind are so captivated by the beauty of virtue, that only a tolerable representation of it is wanting to engage their love, and secure their imitation. No opinion could be more false. On the contrary, the nearer any individunt or society has approached to the examples of faith, self-denial, and boliness, re


corded in the Scriptures, the more determined has been the resistance from the world. It is not less true than when an apostle made the declaration, that the friendship of the world is enmity against God." If at any time infinite wisdom have excited an unusual attention to the concerns of the soul in a community, or a district, a rancorous opposition immediately arises in the camp of the enemy. No slanders are too mean, nor any falsehoods too enormous to be invented, propagated, and believed, to the injury of those hated men, whose example reproves vice, and whose principles are at war with the atheism of the heart. In the church of England, so long as the influence of the king and court could keep the established clergy employed in harassing the Puritans, they remained as a body well united. But no sooner were some of them alarmed at the increase of popery, and Stillingfleet, Tillotson and their associates, had raised their voices against that great heresy, and the corrent of vices which raged around them, than the scene changed. The church then bad its parties; the high churchmen, who had nothing of religion but the naine, who regarded it as only an engine of state, chose to unite their strength with the papists, to put down the real friends of the reformation, whether found in the establishment, or among the dissenters. Had not the revolution placed a protestant king on the throne, there can be little doubt the nation would have again sunk in the gross darkness of Romish superstition, and all the follies of that miserably degraded apostasy.

Notwithstanding the monstrous absurdities of papacy, and the cruelties it has shewn wherever it has been in power, we see examples, even now, of men openly advocating its cause. We hear these men praise each other, and praise any one who holds the authority of a pope paramount to the Word of God. Some of them renounce the protestant faith, join the fooleries of catholics, and swallow all the nonsense of papal infallibility, transubstantiation, indulgences, and purgatory. Had not similar perverseness appeared before, it might indeed be accounted a strange thing; were its causes not apparent, the sober man might well be astonished in a country like ours, to notice such vagaries of human conduct. But to those who read their Bibles with honest intentions, and carefully examine the conduct of men; above all, who know any thing about their own hearts, this hostility to the plain truths of the Gospel cannot be unaccountable. The diseased vision of wicked men, cannot endure the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, because this powerful light exposes the deformity of their nature, and the blackness of that guilt, which conceals and loves its own errors. It searches to the bottom the overflowing fountain of pollution, which is at once the cause and stimulus of evil; a fountain whose waters emphatically 'cast up mire and dirt. Hence, the man whose pride or passion has hitherto concealed his own wretchedness from his sight, revolts with ineffable disgust from the representation of his depravity. With whatever authority the message may be clothed, the messenger is always accounted his enemy, who tells bim the truth,

The volume before us brings down the history of the puritans to the revolution in 1688, which forced the miserable James to abdicate the throne, and closed the long list of high commissions, proscriptions, murders,-indeed of open persecutions in every shape, which had distressed the nation during the reigns of the Stuart family. Avowed punishment for religious opinion, or non-conformity to the national establishment, then ceased to employ the labors or receive the sanction of the British legislature. A general toleration being established, although the will to exterminato serious piety still remained, it had lost the power. The numbers of those who suffered for their principles during the reign of Charles II. and James II, has been variously stated, but can never be known with precision. “In the preface of Mr. Delaune's plea for the non-conformists, the writer says, that Delaune was one of near eight thousand protestant dissenters, who had perished in prison in the reign of king Charles II. and that merely for dissenting from the church in some points, which they were able to give good reason far.” “Another writer adds,* that Mr. Jeremy White had carefully collected a list of the dissenting sufferers, and of their sufferings; and had the names of sixty thousand persons, who had suffered on a religious account, between the restoration of king Charles II. and the revolution of king William; five thousand of whom died in prison.”

No one acquainted with the buman character, or familiar with the records of the species, need be told, that these persecutions arose not from any peculiar, malignity of the English nation. Not the papists of those days, nor of the present, disliked the truths of the Gospel more, than very many who boast of freedom from prejudice and bigotry; who will swallow the creed of any leader, or any sect, provided, it leaves to their option the selection of such parts of the Bible as they like, or the rejection of the whole of it. T'he perpetrators of those cruelties, under the pretence of establisbing religion, had no more hatred to good men, or to a pure and elevated system of worship, than is inherent in our common nature. The events of the few years narrated in the volumes before us, afford only a small exhibition of that rancorous enmity to God, to his revelation, and to his servants, which has always existed in this fallen world.



(Continued from vol. xiv. p. 499.)

Oct. 7, 1712. Lord's Day. At the Lord's table I first celebrated the astonishing mystery of the Son of God being delivered up as a sacrifice for us all:" I put in my chain for an interest in that sacrifice. Then I made, my humble and hopeful plea, for all things to be freely given to me on his account; especially pardon, holiness, fruitfuluess, and at last, a part in the heavenly city with exceeding joy.

2. Good Devised. Having founded and fixed separate libraries for each of my children, I would not only be making continual additions thereunto, but also assigu, ever now and then, things from thence to

History of the Stuarts, p. 715.

be read by them, and expect some account of what they have read; and on a good account, give then a good reward.

3. G. D. The prayer-hearing Lord is giving a fresh prospect of a strange deliverance for my poor kinswoman, who has been so many years a captive among the horrible Indians. I would now renew and bespeak yet more ardent prayers, that this mercy may not fail; and assist her nearest relatives, to do some special thing for the glory of the great Redeemer on the arrival of the occasion,

4. G. D. I incline to publish unto the country the sermon which I am now preparing for young men and their teachers; and with it the letter I bave received from a gentleman in Connecticut, concerning the remarkable circumstances of his own prodigal and repenting son. It may do very much good in the country.

5. G. D. It is time to put the Societies on their day of prayer, which they use to have once a year, but which was omitted last year, by being too long deferred.

6. G. D. There is a point which I design to bring very much into my conversation. When I converse with people that are under chronical maladies, but are wealthy, or well accommodated in the world, I would propose unto them to look out for some other person under the like maladies, but such an one as is poor and low, and destitute of all good accommodations, and charitably dispense relief unto them; and in this way of well doing to bespeak the mercies of the Lord. I have

I diverse, more than one or two, instances in my eye, at the time of writing this.

7. G. D. I find my soul grievously distempered with inattentiveness in the worship of God. In praying and in hearing I am apt to be criminally inattentive to what I am engaged in. Yea, though I myself am uttering the prayers, when they are such as I use most of a. form for them. What shall I do for the cure of this woful and baneful distemper? I would affect myself with the evil of it; I would look up to my great Savior for help against it. But then, I would, in

, , a special manner, endeavor this way of awakening a slothful soul;— When I am going about my act of worship, I would strongly consider; this may be the last time of my approaching to the glorious God in this way, as long as I live.

Oct. 14. In the night I spent some time extraordinary in supplications to the Lord. Especially for a blessing upon one essay more, which I am now making to warn the young people of the country against the paths of the destroyer. As also, that the packets I am now sending to England may be preserved, and find acceptance, and on other occasions.

But I have cause to lie in the dust, and mourn exceedingly before the Lord, because I find the spirit of prayer, methinks, withdrawn from me. I converse not with heaven so familiarly, and with such freedom and fervor, as I have sometimes done. I must be restless, till I recover a more intimate communion with the heavenly world, and a greater enlargement of heart in approaching to the throne of grace. The sin which lies at the bottom of my desertion must be found out; I must get it pardoned, and conquered, and forsaken.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

1. G. D. There is much talk of our church swarming into a new meeting-house, because the neighborhood grows very numerous. I would entertain this matter with all possible candor, and caution, and humility; offer no contradiction to it; earnestly desire to know the mind of the Lord concerning it; beseech of him, to preserve me from every wrong step or word about it; and cry to him, that he would graciously overrule the matter so, that none of the devices of satan may prevail to hurt religion, or my ministry, on this occasion.

2. G. D. It would be of good consequence, if, when I see any of my children appearing with a new garment on, I should put them in mind of some new desire, which they may agreeably now mention in their prayer before the Lord.

The divine providence, which wonderfully multiplies' my opportu. nities to do good, orders it that the sermon, which I preached yesterday, is this morning urgently called for, that it may be published. I consider that it may prove of manifold use, both to parents and children in many parts of the country, to have such admonitions lodged in their hands. I annex unto the sermón a letter which I received from a gentleman in Connecticut, relating the remarkable circumstances of his own son, which gave some occasion unto the preaching of the ser. mon. So I gave it unto the bookseller under this title:--REPEATED WARNINGS. Another essay to warn young people against rebellions that must be repented of; but unto repentance when they have been rebellious; or, serious advice unto children to beware of disobedience unto the voice of their teachers, and unto them that should be their teachers, to do their duty to them.

3. G. D. The death of a relative at Charlestown furnishes me with an occasion to address my surviving relatives there; especially the aged ones, with admonitions, relating to their own call out of the world.

Oct. 16. Tuesday. I spent this day with the societies of reformation, who kept it as a day of prayer together. Another minister carried on the services of the forenoon, I those of the afternoon, with the gracious assistance of heaven.

4. G. D. Among my other ultramarine services, I would again transmit unto the Lower Saxony such things, as being translated into the High Dutch, may serve the kingdom of God in those countries: and particularly encourage Dr. P, and his orphan-house.

5. G. D. I may do well to convey unto each of the religious sociéties, one of the printed letters concerning the agreement for a weekly hour of prayer, in behalf of the church of God; and so draw as many of them as may be into the agreement.

6. G. D. There is a young gentleman, a stranger, that has his soul visited with many distresses about his interior and eternal state, and greatly needs my best assistance; which, therefore, I would afford unto him.

7. G. D. My watch over the dispositions of my mind, at the time when I hear the sinful miscarriage of other people mentioned, must be quickened unto the greatest caution imaginable. First, I must be very cautious, that I do not rejoice in iniquity; but be heartily troubled and sorry, that any person should fall into any iniquity. Secondly, I


[ocr errors]


« AnteriorContinuar »