Page images

his natural and acquired abilities, should be so weak as to turn me over to human authorities, in things of a divine nature; for though in all things that are of a temporal nature, and concern the civil society, I will be subjeil to every ordinance ef man for the Lord's fake; even from the king upon the throne down to the meanest officer in the land; but in things that are of a spiritual nature, and concern my saith, my worship of God, and future state, I would call no man father here upon earth, nor regard either popes or councils, prelates or priests of any denomination, nor convocations, nor assemblies of divines, but obey God and his prophets, Christ and his apostles. Upon which the judge answered, Well, if his grace of Canterbury was not able to give you satissaction, Mr. Elwall, I believe I shall not; and so sat down and rested him; for I think he had stood up for near an hour and a quarter.

Then he stood up again, and turning to the priests talked softly to them. I did not hear what he said, or what they said to him; but I guessed from what, the judge said next; f°r, says he, Mr. Elwail you cannot but be sensible that what you have writ, being contrary to the commonly received doctrines of the church, it has given offence to some of your neighbours, and particularly to the clergy; are you willing to promise, before the sace of the country here, that you will not write any

more more on this head? I answered, God forbid that I should make thee any such promise; for when I wrote this book, I did it in the sear of God; and I did not write to please the church of Rome, nor the church ot England, nor the church of Scotland; but to please that God who gave me my breath; and therefore, if at any time I find myself drawn forth, to write in desence of this sacred first commandment, or any other of the ten, I hope I shall do it in the same spirit of sincerity as I have done this. And I perceived the judge was not in any wife displeased at my honest, plain, bold answer; but rather his heart seemed to be knit in love to me; and he soon declared me acquitted: and then trie), clerk of the arraigns, or assizes, stood up, and said, Mr. Elwall you are acquitted; you may go out of court when you please.

So I went away through a very great croud of people (for it was thought there was a thousand people at the trial) and having spoke long I was a-thirst, so went to a well and drank. Then I went Out of town by a river-side, and looking about, and seeing no one near, I kneeled down on the bank of the river, and sent up my thank-offering to that good God who had delivered me out of their hands.'

By the time that I returned to the town, the court was up and gone to dinner : a justice of peace and another person met me, and would have me to


eat and drink with them, which I did; and afterwards, as I was walking along the street some persons hove tip a great sash-window and invited me up to them ; and when I entered the room, I found tea or a dozen persons, most of them justices of the peace; and amongst them a priest, whom they called doctor. One of the justices took me by the hand, and said, Mr. Elwall, I am heartily glad to see you, and I was glad to hear you bear your testimony so boldly as you did. Yes, fays another justice, and I was glad to see Mr. Elwall come off with flying colours as he did: upon which the priest said (in a very bitter manner) He ought to have been hanged. 1 turned unto him, and said, Friend, I perceive thou dosl not know what spirit thou art of; for the son of man came not to destroy, but to save: but thou wouldest have me destroyed. Upon which one of the justices said, How now, doctor, did not you hear one of the justices fay, that he was an honest man, and that what he said was not by hear-say, but by experience, and would you have honest men hanged, doctor? Is this good doctrine? So that the priest said but little more for some time: So I took leave of the justices, and took horse for Wolverhampton, for I knew there would be great joy in my family, for the common people all expected to hear of my beinofined and imprisoned. But a farmer that lived near, who had been upon the jury at Stafford, got


to town before me, and the people went all up and asked him, What have they done to Mr. Elwall? Have they put him in prison? He answered " No, he preached there an hour together, "and our parsons could fay never a word. What "must they put him in prison for? I told our "foreman of the jury, Mr. Elwall was an honest "man, and his father was an honest man, I knew "him very well." So they were all damped ; but there was great joy in my family, and amongst all my friends: Praises, living praises be attributed to that good God who delivered me out of their hands! Christ never told us of that scandalous popish invention, of his human nature praying to his divine nature; but, like a true obedient son of God, submitted to death, even that cruel death which the hatred and envy of persecuting wicked priests inflicted on him, because he had so plainly and truly told them all of their blindness, covetousness, pride, and hypocrisy. And therefore God raised 'him from the dead; and for his faithfulness God has exalted him to be a prince and a saviour to all those that obey that pure doctrine which God gave him to teach; that denying ungodliness and Jtnful lufls, we should live soberly and righteously in this world. Then are we his disciples indeed, when we do thofe things that he hath commanded. Then shall we be saved, not by the merits of Chrisl, that is another popish invention; for he never did any thing but


what it was his duty to do, and therefore could not merit any thing for others; but he taught us the true way to find acceptance with God, and that was by doing the will of his Father which is in heaven: and therein he is the way, the truth, and the life, because no one cometh unto the Father, but by that way.

Neither did he make satissaction unto God for us. It was impossible; and what God never required: But he who had no pleasure in the death of sinners, but rather that they should turn from their wickedness and live, out of the immeasurable height and depth of his love, directed our lord Jesus Christ to teach mankind a never-sailing way of being reconciled to God; and that was by sincere repentance and reformation. This was the gospel or good tidings of Jesus Christ, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. He tells us, I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance; and by that beautisul excellent parable of the prodigal son, he illustrates the tender mercy of his God and our God, of his Father and our Father, without any satissaction. Th© compassionate Father required none at all, but humble consession and submission, with sincere repentance and reformation, and then comes the be/I robe, the ring, the shoes, and the fatted calf, to demonstrate the paternal acceptance without satissaction or sacrifice, but a broken and a contrite heart which he will never reG fuses,

« PreviousContinue »