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weakening of the Establishment. Such seceders commonly began their church life by meeting in their leader's parlour, or in some other nook comparatively free from molestation. When the Dissenters rejoiced over that illusory gleam of hope, the Indulgence of 1672, many chapels were erected ; and among them, this old wooden sanctuary of Maid Lane, which during its continuance of a century was the scene of the labours of many men of sterling character and great abilities. When falling away did come, Arianism was its immediate agent. Forsaking sound doctrine is turning aside into the track of ruin. How many times in the history of Nonconformity in London has the dismal story been repeated Arianism; Socinianism; decay ; extinction? Thus was it in Maid Lane.

Wadsworth was a talented and scholarly divine of the true Puritan stamp; and being a native of Southwark, his earliest home was in St. Saviour's parish. Sickly as a child, life hung on so slender a thread that it was feared a throat affection, to which he was subject, would terminate fatally. This giving place to the strength of youth however, he very diligently followed the usual paths of learnins, and as a student of Christ's College, Cambridge, very creditably distinguished himself. He so keenly realised the worth of the Gospel, that while staying at the University, he became renowned as a zealous evangelist among his fellows, and one of the gownsmen, who sickened and died, spent his last hours in rejoicing, and in expressing thankfulness for Wadsworth's exhortations. The latter left college sooner than was usual in the ordinary course, his means being reduced by the death of his father. But in the instance of a youth of talent and education, the Puritans were not averse to his entering the field hetimes; and all acknowledged Wadsworth to be rarely gifted. His first charge was the parish of Newington Butts, and the manner of his election is curiously characteristic of the unsettled times of great national changes. Those were the days of Triers and Examiners-fearful obstacles to noodles and pretenders-and days, moreover, when parishioners had a voice in choosing their pastors. Newington Butts was supposed to be divided against itself. Two parties, each regarding the other with no friendly feeling, fixed on their candidate, and without letting each other know whom they had chosen, petitioned the dignitaries at Westminster to listen to their separate pleas.

When the letters were opened it was found that each party had selected the same man, and this being Wadsworth, he henceforth became a bond of union in the parish. The unanimity of the people imparted an enthusiasm to the pastor, and he gladly refused a comfortable college fellowship to serve those who had so signally honoured him. After settling in Newington he manifested a flaming zeal. Children were catechised ; a house-to-house visitation was instituted; the destitate were relieved, and Bibles gratuitously distributed. Newington Butts was undergoing a transformation similar to what Kidderminster experienced under like circumstances, when the Restoration, as though it had been a chilling blight on religion and morality, rudely interrupted the good work. At that crisis of wild rejoicing there were numbers among the time-serving crowd only too anxious to make a profit out of the political changes, and among such were many who eyed with

covetous longings the Puritan vineyards of the Establishment. James Meggs being a sycophant of this species, he represented to those in power that the living of Newington Butts properly belonged to him, and so obtained possession-a piece of wickedness which embittered his dying hours.

Though deprived of his living, Wadsworth still continued a lecturer in the Establishment; and obtaining the cure of Laurence Pountney, he laboured there until the general secession of 1662. As a Nonconformist he gathered a congregation at Theobald's, and another at Newington, his residence having been at the former place. Finally, he closed his work in Southwark, dying at the comparatively early age of forty-six, in 1676. The accounts of his death very pointedly illustrate the manner in which the gospel can support under painful weakness : for though the pastor's sufferings were acute and prolonged, he rebuked those whose care watched him with too fond a solicitude. “What !” he cried, " are you troubled that God is calling home his children? You know my pains, but not my consolations.”

Wadsworth was assisted by another worthy, Andrew Parsons, of Wem, in Shropshire. His experience included many rough adventures. *He once endangered his life to serve Charles the First in a time of danger during that monarch's misfortunes—a noble action in a man who sympathised with the popular party. When the tide of civil war carried desolation into Wem, Parsons fled from the town, but returned when the Parliamentarians retook the citadel. At the Restoration he fared with those who for any sympathy they had shown the royal family were repaid with sour looks and hard words. A cry of sedition being raised against him, and a fine of £200 imposed, he was imprisoned for three months until released by the King himself. Within the pale of the Establishment he had been extremely well provided for ; but now poverty and Nonconformity were synonymous. His wife 'eked out their income by manufacturing lace; and thus in the darkest times the family were able to maintain an example of hospitable charity.

At one period Richard Baxter was a lecturer in the meeting house of Maid Lane; but having already given ample details of his life we shall not here renew the subject, and one anecdote of the great Puritan, which does not seem to have been so extensively circulated as some other things about him, is all we shall now relate. While out one day, the divine met Buckingham and Rochester, who to celebrate so happy an accident were anxious that their wit should shine. “Pray, Mr. Baxter, which is the nearest way to hell ?” they enquired. Severely surprised, or even shocked, Baxter's placid solemn countenance probably remained unruffled as he pityingly replied : “Rochester, some say ; but Buckingham's the nearest way.

During his last hours, in the short days of the memorable December of 1691, Baxter doubtless fondly remembered his work at Maid Lane. Such a man could not go from a sphere without leaving many a trace of life behind; and the good seed he sowed in Southwark may not even yet have ceased to grow. Baxter's next successor, James Lambert, though not a Bartholomew confessor, was in training for the Church of England when the ejectment occurred, and from that date sided with the Nonconformists. He also rose high in favour with such merchant citizens as lored to leave the world awhile on a week-day morning for the sake of a lecture set up in Exchange Alley, Cornhill. The pastor scarcely survived the Revolution, having died in middle life about the year 1688. Another name, once a favourite one with Londoners, was that of Thomas Kentish, a descendant of the ejected minister of Middleton, Durham. He was a scholar of the indefatigable Charles Moreton, of Stoke Newington Green, whose academy for university learning braved the perils of many dangerous years.

To explore the murky and densely populated streets of Southwark is to hear many a voice and see many a hand, inaudible and invisible to the thronging masses whose abodes are, in too many instances, but refuges for ignorance and rice. It is an awful consideration how much wickedness can be packed in a single street; how the people live only for to-day, and too often very wretchedly for that; how the past history of the world is to them a blank, and how the absence of faith makes the future as dark as the present is hopeless. Yet here and there, in these same cheerless thoroughfares, we detect the faint footprints of Religion. How did it happen, when, in addition to the old centres of light, new ones were needed, the old ones should have gone out to leave a pall of gloom and the seeming undisputed ascendancy of evil ?

Before leaving the meeting-house in Maid Lane, we must give a parting notice to the brothers Nathaniel and Joshua Oldfield, who belonged to a staid and able family, their father having been a Derbyshire pastor and one of the confessors of 1662. Divers of the Oldfields returned to the Church of England, but those best remembered declared for Nonconformity. Nathaniel, as a diligent student, so cultivated a chaste style—and in those days many good people set little value on the art of writing, that when he died, in 1696, he was supposed to be a victim of extreme industry. His brother Joshua, early discovering distinguished abilities, completed his education at the University of Cambridge. His principles were fixed in youth; and he refused a degree rather than subscribe the Anglican Articles. On leaving college he successively filled the office of tutor in some families of distinction a manner of starting in life gladly taken advantage of by educated Dissenters in that era. The severest test of principle is when a needy man is required to sacrifice tempting prospects of opulence to his opinions, and from this ordeal Oldfield came forth triumphant. On being offered a living by the Speaker of the House of Commons, he reconsidered the entire controversy between Conformists and their opponents, and the process strongly confirmed his Nonconformity. He turned from plenty in the State Church to settle in an obscure corner at Tooting, whence he retired to Oxford University for further culture ; and among other exercises in that city of learning he publicly disputed with the Baptists. His worth and congeniality won him the friendship of many men of mark, and among others of John Locke. From Oxford, Oldfield went to Coventry, and there working with William Tong, the two were principal agents in planting many of the Nonconformist churches of those districts. In their longing desires to relieve the appalling darkness characteristic of the early years of the eighteenth century, Oldfield and Tong founded a training college for students, and in this work, according to the spirit of the age, they were threatened with the terrors of the ecclesiastical courts. Dark, however, as were the times, they became too light for this extreme intolerance to thrive after the accession of the House of Brunswick. On leaving Coventry, Oldfield settled at Maid Lane, and as he also removed his academy, Southwark gave a site to an institution which became the nucleus of Hoxton College. These labours, joined to those of an earnest and blameless pastorate, won for the labourer many distinctions and the real affection of the Three Denominations. When, in 1719, disputes rent the Dissenting interest, he did what he could to heal division, but went with the non-subscribing section and presided over their deliberations. As we have said, Locke valued his friendship, and, it may be added, Newton respected his mathematical skill. In private life he was an instructive companion, and knew how to be patient under trials. As a tutor his chief fault was probably a spurious liberality. As did Doddridge in following years so did Oldfield-he pushed free enquiry to an extreme. Truth is not dangerous; but the cause of truth will never be advanced by the pernicious procedure of too freely introducing the subtleties of error to minds in training. Nevertheless the tutor was a very considerable man. In the pastorate he was ably assisted by Obadiah Hughes and Benjamin Grosvenor. The minor events of Oldfield's life included his losing an eye by falling down in a fit of apoplexy.

William Bushnell, who belongs to the succession of pastors at Maid Lane, belonged to a Nonconformist family of Wallingford—a town where the seeds of Nonconformity were successfully sown by the energy and noble learning of the Stennetts. The Bushnells were merchants; but as William gave evidence of strong-mindedness and a proper disposition, he was trained for the ministry, in an academy at Bridgewater. His life-experience illustrates the low condition of Dissent in rural England during the first half of the eighteenth century; for, during an eighteen years' stay at Potterspary, in Northamptonshire, and other changes, he spent an ample fortune. He was esteemed and loved in the religious circles of those days; but only once administered the Lord's Supper after removing to the Metropolis. He died in 1744, having lived long enough to see his longing hopes, and the ardent wishes of the entire Dissenting community, realized in the triumph of the Protestant Succession.

The last days of the Presbyterians in this vicinity were fraught with sadness. John Ward, their last representative, was a native of Coleshill, in Warwickshire. While he remained still very young, the agitation springing from the Pretender's outbreak of 1715, distracted the town, and, as a Whig, John's father very severely suffered. Business not only fell off, but threats and insults were written on his streetdoors. The family were also intimate with Defoe ; and in some business relations with that writer, they met with other misfortunes. Having been tutored in so uncompromising a school, John was not found wanting when, in 1745, the final passage of arms with the Stuarts again put English patriotism to the test. At that great crisis, Ward was pastor at Witney, in Oxfordshire; and by influencing the countrypeople, and by actually bearing arms himself, he did almost more than his share in defending the crown. As a divine, he corresponded with

the chief ornaments of the Dissenting interest ; and, as a private gentleman, he could be instructive and entertaining. Among the appointments he held were those of Yeovil and Taunton, and in both those towns his teaching appears to have been satisfactory. It was not until the evening of life that lamentable symptoms of decay appeared. He forsook the good old way, and growing extremely bigoted in his new opinions, he would worship with none but those of his own party. Ruin and extinction naturally followed ; for if our researches among these busy streets teach us, one warning-lesson more forcibly than another, it is, that the breath of Socinianism is not only chilling and blighting, but certain death to religious life. The Independents endeavoured, without success, to transform into a fruitful field this valley of dry bones; and no effort of theiv representative, Charles Skelton, could save this old Nonconformist landmark from being transformed into a bone mill.

Some remarkable incidents imparted an interest to the labours of Skelton. In his early manhood he followed the profession of a strolling player ; but on being arrested by the truth, under one of Wesley's itinerants, he forsvok a disreputable employment for the calling of an evangelist. In the service of the gospel he was zealous and successful. Perhaps one of the pastor's most striking adventures was his meeting two Romanist malefactors on their way to execution, to whom he spoke of Christ and salvation until they threw away their errors, and amid tearful rejoicing, gave strong evidence of genuine contrition.

Hugh Miller—Bank Accountant and Editor.




ILLER'S capacious and retentive memory contained a large store of

legends and traditions pertaining to the neighbourhood which he knew so well and so dearly loved. In these he saw materials for a prose work which should be his passport to fame, if not to independence. His leisure hours were therefore given with upsparing labour to the preparation of "Scenes and Legends in the North of Scotland," which although written by a mason was not published by one, because he had, on the eve of its completion, received the unexpected offer of the post of accountant in the Commercial Bank at Cromarty. He at first hesitated to accept a place the requirements of which were so altogether different from his previous avocations; but, he adds, "the appointment came to me so unthought of, so unsolicited, and there seemed to be so much of the providential in it, that I deemed it duty not to decline." At thirty-two years of age, then, the mason's mallet was laid aside, and Miller proceeded to Edinburgh to be initiated into bank duties, but was sent on to the branch office at Linlithgow : from whence he writes interesting letters to Miss Fraser, which give many traits of character. He remarks, “ My lodgings here are much too fine and expensive, but they were taken for me at the request of Mr. Paul, and so I could on no account decline them. I dislike expense, even for its own sake, and

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