« PreviousContinue »
AN ACCOUNT OF THE LIVES, SUFFERINGS,
Aug. 24, 1666.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY
Abridged, Corrected, and Methodized, with many additional Anecdotes
The Second Edition.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
Embellished with Heads of the principal Divines, chietly from original Pictures.
All these (of whom the world was not worthy) have obtained a good report
PRINTED BY J. CUNDEE, IVY-LANE,
Sold also by
M EMOIRS of the lives and characters of wise IV and good men, especially such as have suffered for conscience sake, have been generally esteemed some of the most entertaining and useful publications. Perhaps there never was a body of men whose history better deserved to be handed down to posterity, than the ministers ejected from the church of England, soon after the Restoration of Charles II. particularly by the Act of Uniformity; the whole number of whom was upwards of TWO THOUSAND*. “ I do not believe (says Mr. Peirce) that any where “ in history an equal number of clergymen, volun. “ tarily leaving their all for a good conscience, can 6 be produced. If they did not act from a princi.
* Their enemies have affected greatly to reduce the number. An anonymous writer, having counted the Names in Dr. Calamy's Index to his first edition, in which he had inserted those only of whom he had given some account) reports with triumph that the 2000 sufferers, so much cried up, cannot be made more than 696, of whom a fourth part afterwards conformed. See the Dr.'s Answer, in his Pref. to vol. II. 2d edit. p. 19.--From the accurate MSS. catalogue, mentioned page 15 of this Preface, it appears that the writer found the numbers to be no fewer than 2257.- Mr. Cotton Mather, in his Hist. New Eng. B. ii. p. 4, says, “ the number was well known to be near five-and-twenty. hundred.” Probably there might be several, in obscure places, whose Dames Dr. Calamy could not recover. A few such have now been added to his list. So that, admitting what some have urged, that there are a few here introduced without strict propriety, not having been ejected from the church, those who really were so, are much above 2000. As they were all voluntary in resigning their livings, perhaps they are not properly said to be “ ejected." It is, however, very evident that the new terms of conformity were purposely framed to get rid of them. Among other proofs of it, the following anecdote is worth recording, Mr. George Firmin relates, that a certain lady assured him that, on her expressing to a member of parliament, her dislike of the Act of Uniformity when it was about to pass, saying to him, “ I see you are lay« ing a snare in the gate,” he replied, " Aye, if we can find any way " to catch the rogues we will have them," a 2
“ ple of conscience, they were the weakest people “ in the world, for they were active in their own “ ruin:” whereas, had they but declared their as sent and consent to the new terms of conformity, they might have continued in their livings, as others did, and avoided the poverty, disgrace, and persecution, which most of them suffered. Their integrity, their fortitude, and their faith, ought to be had in everlasting remembrance. “ To let the memory “ of such men die, (says Mr. Peirce) is injurious to “ posterity.” Especially as they not only in this instance shewed themselves to be men of principle, but appeared from their general deportment men of singular piety; peculiarly qualified for their office as ministers, and uncommonly successful in it.
The Protestant Dissenters, of all denominations, have ever revered their memories as the founders of their churches. Those who have differed the widest from them in doctrinal sentiment, have highly extolled their piety and zeal. The encomium of the late Dr. John Taylor is remarkable in this view, and deserves to accompany their memoirs. In remonstrating against the design of some Dissenters in Lancashire to introduce a Liturgy, he refers them to the example of their forefathers; of whom he gives the following character : “ The principles and worship of Dissenters are not formed upon such slight foundation as the unlearned and thoughtless may imagine': they were thoroughly considered, and judiciously reduced to the standard of Scripture, and the writings of antiquity, by a great number of men of learning and integrity : I mean the Bartholomew-divines, or the ministers ejected in the year 1662 : men prepared to lose all,and to suffer martyrdom itself, and who actually resigned their livings, (which with most of them were, under God, all that they and their families had to subsist upon) rather than sin against God, and desert the cause of civil and religious liberty ; which, together with serious religion, would Iam per