Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

as

seem to us that her fashion of restoring it was a very strange and inconsistent one. The prevailing sentiment of the times, however, was, that the earthly monarch has supreme authority over the consciences of men and the right to dictate to them what their religious belief shall be and the manner and form in which they should worship their Maker. This part of the supposed royal prerogative was exceedingly dear to the heart of the new Queen, and she very speedily found or made the opportunity of asserting it and putting it into force, to the sad disappointment and sore vexation of many of her subjects. In the first year of her reign she got the Parliament to pass an Act called the Act of Uniformity. English Parliaments at that time of day were accustomed to do just what the reigning monarch told them to do. By this Act the people were commanded henceforth to frame their belief, forms of worship, and all matters connected with religious observances in exact accordance with those approved by the ruling powers in the realm. Nobody was to be of any religion save that as by law established, under pain of fine or imprisonment, varying in one case from one shilling to the whole of a person's goods and chattels, and in the other from one month's imprisonment to imprisonment for life. A Court of Ecclesiastical Commission was erected by the Queen, which enforced this and other laws of a similar character with great severity; and hence persecution for conscience'sake very speedily recommenced its fiendish work, and that even under the reign of this famous Protestant Queen. Those who felt it right to hearken unto God rather than unto man, found it impossible to obey these laws, and in consequence suffered the pains and penalties attaching to non-compliance with them.

We have, as Nonconformists, great reason to be thankful that we live in days differing in this respect from those of “good Queen Bess”-glorious days some historians seem to delight in calling them. And glorious in some respects, nationally

considered no doubt they were ; but, nevertheless, fraught with sad and manifold sufferings to many thousands of the most godly of the land, who could not for conscience' sake obey the arbitrary and unrighteous laws and ordinances imposed upon them.

Queen Elizabeth came to the throne on November 17, 1558, and the per secution of Nonconformists commenced

soon as the Act of Uniformity, passed before she had been six months on the throne, could be got into operation. It has been said that this and kindred enactments were aimed principally at the Roman Catholics; the Queen, however, declared that she hated Puritans more than Papists, Accordingly a "Book of Injunctions” was issued in the same year that the Act of Uniformity was passed, which pressed very heavily upon those who desired a more complete purification in the National Church from Popish vestments and ceremonies than the Queen would allow. These "

Injunctions” insisted upon uniformity in the matter of attire, that “all admitted into vocation ecclesiastical wear seemly habits.” One of these seemly habits was the surplice, which the Puritans objected to wear, as being a garment peculiar to the papal church and symbolical of priestly. claims and pretensions; this and other things considered popish they showed an unconquerable

repugnance to. Consequently measures were taken to deprive them of their position as ministers as it was found impossible to make them submit to these arbitrary laws and injunctions. Accordingly we find from Mr. Browne's book that by the year 1570 many of the faithful pastors in Norfolk and Suffolk had been ejected by the operation of these measures—these two counties being conspicuous for their Puritanism and Nonconformity, special care was accordingly taken by the authorities in high places to hunt down offenders of this sort living within districts thus made obnoxious to the priestly despots of the day and their abitrary mistress.

Amongst those who refused to bow to the authority of human laws when

[ocr errors]

a

they deemed them to be in contravention of divine laws and an invasion of the rights of conscience, were some in Norfolk and Suffolk, who suffered death for their nonconformity. John Copping, Mr. Brown informs us, who had been a minister near Bury, was brought before the Commissary of the Bishop of Norwich, in the year 1576, and for certain Puritan opinions, which his judges called false and malicious, was imprisoned seven years. Elias Thacker, another ininister, was imprisoned with him. At the end of that time they were indicted, tried and condemned for denying the Queen's supremacy—that is, in matters of faith and worship; and for circulating books contrary thereto. This was called sedition, and both of them were hanged at Bury, in June, 1583. About the same time William Dennis, a Separatist," was put to death at Thetford for his opinions. The names of three others are given by Mr. Browne, but not connected with Suffolk or Norfolk, who suffered for refusing to submit to human authority in matters of consceince - viz., Barrow, Greenwood, and Penry, who were hanged at Tyburn in 1593. These suffered under the operation of an Act of Parliament passed in 1592, entitled, “ An Act for the punishment of persons obstinately refusing to come to Church.” The penalties under this sweet Act were: imprisonment, perpetual banishment, and death; and very many suffered imprisonment and fearful privations under its operation. No more burnings or hangings for the truth's sake, however, subsequent to this period, are recorded in Mr. Browne's history of Nonconformity in Norfolk and Suffolk. We come therefore to the second class of witnesses-viz., Those who suffered imprisonment or spoiling of goods for conscience' sake. Imprisonment in those days meant something very

different to what it is in our days. Prisons then were noisome dens, in which the inmates frequently contracted “jail fever” and other forms of disease, owing to the wretchedly close and unhealthy condition of the places. There was no classification of

prisoners, and the poor persecuted dissenters were treated in the same way as the vilest criminals. The extent of suffering thus endured will never be known until that day when all secrets shall be revealed, and God shall judge the world in righteousness,

and award to the oppressor and the oppressed a due recompense.

Elizabeth died March 24th, 1603, having reigned forty - four years. Mr. Browne says:

" Her reign was one long weary pilgrimage of sorrow and suffering for those who endeavoured to advance the principles of evangelical religion and scriptural reformation.” Very different this to the pictures presented in many popular histories of the period; but Mr. Browne's book, and similar ones, lift up the veil with which writers in general cover over the unfavourable side of this portion of English history, Those who know the truth will think with Mr. Browne as to this reign.

In the year 1607, James I. being king (the most high and mighty

““ , of our English Bible translators), Thomas Ladd, a merchant of Yarmouth, and Richard Maunsell, a preacher, were brought before the Chancellor of Norwich, and imprisoned for a long time, and could not be bailed. Their offences were : attending a conventicle—i.e., a religious assembly not authorised by the laws of the day; partaking in a petition presented to the nether house; and refusing to be sworn in order to examination on certain articles prior to seeing them, Their lawyer, Mr. Fuller, for his earnestness in pleading their cause was cast into prison by the Archbishop, and was kept there until his death in 1619. Twelve years' imprisonment for defending the cause of two godly men, and then released only by death! What became of Mr. Ladd and Mr. Maunsell does not appear.

Thomas Cayme, teacher of a small society of Baptists at Yarmouth, was put in prison in 1624, his offence being that he was such a teacher. By the influence of his friends, however, he was speedily released by warrant from the Lord Chief Justice,

6. We see,"

are

[ocr errors]

on bail being given for his appearance authority of the ruling clergy, and at the next quarter sessions. The yet thirty poor people, mostly women, justices were ordered to keep watch maintain their testimony. A list of over him, and report if he * did by their names is given, from which it anabaptism or other refractory course appears that twenty-one were women seduce people from their true Chris- and nine men.

All honour to those tian religion. From what follows faithful sisters of days gone by, and respecting him it would seem that he to their fellow sufferers of the other was ordered to leave the town, which sex, who although much fewer in it seems he did not do, but was again number, probably comprised the apprehended and committed to prison leaders of the brave and godly little with others of his company. What company.

adds Mr. ultimately became of the good man as Browne, what sorrows our forefathers to this world is not stated, but at his þad to endure to win for us the privideparture from it, whensoever and leges we enjoy.”. wheresoever it took place, that he These poor imprisoned ones entered the goodly land where the spoken of in gaol as “living on the wicked cease from troubling, there is basket,” by which it is presumed is every reason to believe.

to be understood that there being no Instructions were also sent by the provision made for their sustenance Bishop to capture those who should by the prison authorities, they had to meet in the house of Thomas Caymes ; subsist on supplies furnished by the but at that time, 1624, those poor charitable outside the prison walls, to saints of God escaped the bishop's receive which a basket was placed in clutches. His “loving friends,” the a convenient position. The promises justices to whom he sent these orders, of God given to His people regarding not caring to torment their fellow their times of trial, warrant us to townsfolk in the way desired by the believe that these prisoners of the persecuting prelate, managed for a Lord were favoured with the light of little while to evade carrying his cruel His countenance and the joys of His intentions into effect.

salvation in their otherwise dark and Shortly after, however, several mem- miserable abode. Times of persecubers of this society were committed tion have ever been to the persecuted, to prison and two of them named Uryn times of great spirituality of mind and Jefferson continued in Yarmouth and much communion with God, to gaol until 1626, when the town applied which the present times of abundance to the Archbishop, the Parliament and of religious privilege afford but little the Lord Treasurer to have them re- parallel, and of which we who enjoy moved.

It would appear that the so much in an outward respect of people of Yarmouth did not very much religious advantages have probably but approve of their neighbours being

per- little conception. secuted for conscience' sake. They

Barnsbury,

R. H. incurred the displeasure of the ruling powers of the land on this account, and we find that in 1630 the king (Charles I.) was “incensed” against COMMUNION WITH God is the top of them for their negligence in comply- the saints' experience in this life; it ing with the royal wishes in this is the height of experimental religion respect. Afterwards we find that thirty and powerful godliness. This, of all persons were in Yarmouth gaol for the enjoyments of God's people upon their religious opinions and practices. earth, is the nearest to the heavenly Respecting these Mr. Browne remarks: bliss; and could entire perfection and "Here are persecuted Puritans, ha- endless duration be added to it, it rassed, indicted, and imprisoned for would be that.—Dr. Gill. their conscientious objections to the papistical ceremonies enforced by the

The Gospel Bield.

“Preach the Gospel to every creature; lo, I am with you alway."

STRICT BAPTIST MISSION.

INDIA. WRITING June 1, Br. Noble says: “There are one or two features in the work which yield me some encouragement in connection with preaching the word in the villages adjacent to the Mount; and that is, in the first place the willingness -I might say the earnestness-in hearing the word manifested on these occasions by the simple-minded villagers, who are destitute of that cunning and chicanery which so characterise those natives who reside in garison and other large towns in this country. In the second place I am also somewhat encouraged in visiting these villages by observing that in many instances the majority of those who listen to the Gospel message are composed of women and children, many of the latter capable of understanding what they hear. As regards the women such was not the case some time ago, when it was but seldom we found a female on such occasions outside the door of her dwellingplace. This change we hail with joy, looking upon it as the harbinger of great good to the women of this country. An instance is given illustrative of this, where at a village called Preravum Thungle, about one and a-half miles from the Mount, a company of about thirty women besides men and children, listened with marked attention to the word preached and read to them by our brother and his two assistants, Jacob and Ven. catasawmy, they appearing to be greatly interested in the precious truths of the gospel brought before them. The openair" lamp light services at the Troop Parcherry were also kept up, with more or less encouraging attendance-those attending being mostly of the worst type of natives ; but as our Lord came into the world to save sinners, our brother hopes that some of these poor degraded ones may be amongst the number, and therefore carries the good news of salvation to them, hoping for the Lord's blessing upon the seed sown. The schools were doing pretty well, and the little Tamil Mission Church was "holding on its way.' The prayer meetings were continued-and

believed by our brother to be productive of good in deepening the interest of the members in each other's spiritual welfare. No baptisms, however, are reported, which the accounts received some months since had led us to expect might have taken place ere now. But the difficulties in the way of the natives making an open renunciation of their heathenism are very great, as we have repeatedly seen in the reports of our Mission.

Our missionary at St. Thomas Mount is about to remove from his present station to Ceylon. At his own urgent request the Committee have agreed to this, and his removal is expected to take place early next month. The exact scene of his future labours, whether to be at Colombo or elsewhere in the island, is not yet fixed on, but remains to be determined by further consideration. Our brother's earnest desire to go to Ceylon arises partly from the fact that having been twenty-three years in India, he finds his constitution somewhat enfeebled by the heat of the country. He hopes the change to a more temperate clime will be the means of reinvigorating his system. It is with some reluctance that the Com. mittee consent to this change, as our Brother Noble has been the means of greatly improving the state of our mission affairs at St. Thomas' Mount during his location there. But as our diligent and indefatigable superintendent, Mr. Doll

, has undertaken to discharge the duties of a missionary at that station, and as it is considered very desirable that the Mission should be strengthened and extended in Ceylon, it has at length been agreed to that Mr. Noble should go there. May the Blessed Spirit-who we find directed the movements of the heralds of the Cross in early days, and whose continuous abidance with His church is promised by our Lord -guide our brother in his movements, and lead him to a spot where his labours shall be made an abundant blessing:

From Poonamallee Br. Åbel Michael reports that (May 13) the heat of the sun was “something frightful and the hot winds unbearable." Two of the aged members of the little church were ill

. Abel's own health, however, was good,

and he had conducted the weekly services as usual, and made sundry village preaching journeys. Our Superintendent reports the church, agents, and school, as doing well at this station.

GERMAN BAPTIST MISSION. THE Quarterly Reporter, issued last month, gives some interesting particulars respecting the liberty now enjoyed by our Baptist brethren in Russia, which was accorded them last year. They have now equality there with other churches of recognised standing, and on taking an oath of allegiance to the Emperor, their ministers are admitted to legal privileges that secure them from police interferences with their work. Permission also has been obtained to print their hymn-book without omission of the baptismal and ordination hymns, which were formerly struck out by the censor of the press, a Lutheran clergyman, whose verdict in relation to such hymns has been reversed by higher authority. All their books and pamphlets are in future to be exempt from the inspection of the clerical subordinate, and to go direct to the Imperial Censor,

and they will thus be free to print their tracts.

Besides taking the oath of allegiance to the Emperor, the Baptist minister has to swear that he will “ preach and teach the pure doctrine of the Baptists and nothing else, and beware of all heresies (if such should appear), and give notice of such heresies on their appearing, and to live always an upright and blameless life.” Having complied with the required formalities, he receives a license to preach, and becomes a_recognised minister tolerated, as the English term used to be, by the State. The brethren in Russia, however, are greatly rejoicing in the freedom thus extended to them, which is in marked contrast to the course pursued towards a Russian gentleman, Colonel Pashkoff, who has been ordered to leave the country for holding religious services of an evangelical character in his own mansion in St. Petersburg.

Amongst “ Contributions to the Mission,” the sum of £5 16s. 6d. appears as sent from Suffolk. Nothing is said about the health of the venerable patriarch Mr. Oncken; in the April Reporter it was stated that he had kept his eightieth birthday on January 26.

Intelligence.

CAMBRIDGE.

order can be ascertained only from the SPECIAL services connected with the New Testament, and 4th, that this ascer. recognition of Mr. John Jull as the

pastor tained order is binding upon the churchos of the church meeting in Eden Chapel, so long as the gospel dispensation shall were held on Thursday, June 17th, continue. 1880.

On the conclusion of his address, Mr. Service commenced in the afternoon at Shepherd remarked that since it had been 2.30, Mr. E. Forman, of March, conduct- established that members of churches ing the praise.

should be spiritual persons, it was clearly Mr. W. J. Styles read Psalms cxxv. and necessary that their ministers should be cxxvi. and offered prayer.

the subjects of Divine grace; but before Mr. G. Shepherd then proceeded to calling upon Mr. Jull, he requested one describe the nature of a gospel church, the deacons to state the circumstances basing his remarks on 1 Cor. vii. 17 (last which had led them to invite him to be clause) “ And so I ordain in all churches."

their pastor. The views of the speaker having pre- To this Mr. Favell responded in a few viously been given at length in these appropriate remarks, pointing out that pages, it is only necessary to say that he from the first time of Mr. Jull's coming maintained-1st, that churches are sepa- among them, his ministry had been rerate and independent bodies of Christians, ceived with unqualified acceptance, and 2nd, that the apostles were authorised had been attended with the Divine bles. to ordaintheir form and order of sing. The invitation to Mr. Jull had government, 3rd, that the nature of this s been cordial and unanimous, and the

« AnteriorContinuar »