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Among the numerous pretenders to the gift of prophecy, few were more successful than the celebrated Lodowick Muggleton, who, from the humble station of a journeyman taylor, was suddenly exalted into the founder of a lect. His affociate was a person of the name of Reeves, who was perfectly on a level with him both as to ftation and erudition. They exhibited themselves as the two laft witnesses of God; they assumed an absolute power of dispensing damnation or salvation to mankind; and preached that the end of the world was at hand. From the nature of their tenets, however, their popularity was but of short duration. The disappointment of a prediction is generally fatal to the reputation of the prophet : - their credit, therefore, survived them but a few years; and we believe the sect is now nearly, if not utterly, extinct.
Most of these visionaries had their advocates. But few of the productions which contain their literary history, have descended to posterity ; and these are only deposited in the libraries of ecclesiastical antiquarians. They indecd trusted more in general for the propagation of their doctrines to the force of their extempore eloquence, than to the excellence of their compositions. Enthusiasm is an active principle, and but seldom submits to the patient drudgery of literary labour,
While a strict regard to truth obliges us to ascribe the origin of the quaker profession to a spirit of enthufiasm in its first preachers, yet we must acknowledge that religious enthusiasm has never appeared in a more amiable form, nor was ever blended with purer and more refined principles of morality. George Fox, the famous founder of this respectable feet, was born at Drayton in Leicestershire, and exercised the humble occupation of a shoe-maker for a conliderable time in the town of Nottingham. He is represented to have becn of a pensive and retired temper; and as sober manners in that class of life are commonly connected with a devotional spirit, his leisure hours were spent in the
asliduous study of the scriptures. He at length publicly proclaimed himself to be an inspired preacher; and the simplicity of his manners, the purity of his life, the ral utility and excellence of his precepts, and his adroite ness in defending his tenets upon the principles of scripture, soon attracted a number of disciples. He declaimed with vehemence and with energy against the vices of the age.—He condemned war, and proved it incontestably to be altogether inconsistent with the christian profession. Oaths, upon every occasion, he regarded as a species of blasphemy. He strenuously recommended simplicity in drels, and frugality in all domestic arrangements. The persecutions which this good man, this truly apoftolical preacher, endured in his endeavours to reform a corrupt yet bigoted age, are a ftigma on the times in which he lived, and a disgrace to profesling christians. The usurper Cromwell himself felt the force of his rebukes; and his military despotism tottered before the preacher of peace* His foldiers themselves were unable to relist that reasoning which proved from the gospel the unlawfulness of their profession; and the fatellites of tyranny became the apostles of peace, and the martyrs of religion. Not only nany of the converts of Fox, therefore, were severely punished, but he himself was subjected to a rigorous imprisonment by the orders of the government; and the rest of the quaker preachers were enjoined silence under severe penalties:--but what human authority can silence or counteraet the force of truth?
Among the military converts of Fox, one of the most extraordinary was James Naylor, who had been bred a
• The following story is told by Whitlocke, p. 599. Some quakers at Hafington in Northumberland coming to the minister on the sabbathday, and speaking to him, the people fell upon the quakers, and almost killed one or two of them, who going out fell on their knees, and prayed God to pardon the people, who knew not what they did; and afterwards speaking to the people, so convinced them of the evil they hal done in beating them, that the country people fell a-quarrelling, and beat one another more than they had before beaten the quakers.
farmer, but who, during the civil wars, had enlisted as a soldier in the parliamentary army. Naylor foon became a preacher among the new feet; and his zeal was not unaccompanied by talents. But the modesty and fimplicity whith characterized the quakers in general, were, in the violence of enthusiasm, or in the career of vanity, forgotten by Naylor. Not content with assuming the prophetic character, it is said he arrogated to himself titles which approached to blasphemy, and disgraced religion by the extravagancies which he committed. His followers participated in his zeal and his insanity; and (if we may credit contemporary writers), as he passed through Bristol in his way to London from the west, the multitude who accompanied him, proclaimed him as the promifed Meffiah, and, in imitation of our Saviour's entry into Jerusalem, sung, as they marched before him, the facred hymn
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth - Hosannah in the highest, &c.” So gross a mockery of religion was not to be endured by fanaticism itself. The pretended prophet was apprehended by the magistrates, and sent to London to be examined by the parliament. The parliament, in this instance, departed from their functions as legislators, and assumed the complex character of judges, jury, and accusers. The sentence was as severe as it was probably unjuft; and the irregularity of the proceedings leads us to suspect the truth of the evidence on which he was faid to be convicted. Either his sufferings restored him to his right senses, or (what we are disposed to be lieve) his errors had been grossly exaggerated and mifrepresented. In his confinement he composed several tracts in a strain of piety, bordering indeed on enthusiasm, but in a spirit of hucuility little conistent with the charges of blasphemy alleged againtt him. The writings of the quakers in general were, however, at this period but litele noticed without the narrcw boundaries of their own feet. In the fucceeding reign the tenets of the society were acutely defended by the learning and talents of a Barclay; and their constitution was organized and digested by the judgment of a Penn'.
The Socinian doctrines, which had been published in Poland in the latter end of the preceding century, had at this period made but little progress in Great Britain; yet the doctrine of the Trinity was vigorously impugned by John Biddle, a student of Magdalen hall, Oxford, and 'master of the free school of Crypt, in the city of Gloucester, who suffered a long and rigorous imprisonment from the Calvinistic party in the long parliament, and was at length tried for his life on the infamous ordinance of blasphemy, which was passed by that body, and was refcued from the fatal effects of this prosecution only by the interference of Cromwell. It does not appear that Biddle was conversant with the writings of the Polith brethren; and his objections to the received doctrine of the Trinity were chiefly confined to the divinity of the Holy Ghost. He was committed to prison along with other dilsenters after the restoration, where he foon contracted a disease, of which he died.
The more powerful and numerous feets, those which at different periods of this fluctuating government enjoyed the favour and protection of the legislature and the court, it may well be imagined, included among their partizans several men of great and eminent talents. Among the presbyterians there are none whose names have descended to posterity with a reputation equal to that of Matthew Poole, and Edmund Calamy. Mr. Poole. was, however, only known, at the period of which we are now treating, as the author of some useful tracts, and as a man of considerable erudition. His great work, the Synopsis Criticorum Bibliorum, was not undertaken till the succeeding reign, after his ejection froin the church of St. Michael-le-Quern, of which he was rector upwards of twelve years. Edmund Calamy was, as well as Matthew Poole, educated at Cambridge ; and, in the ycar 1739, was chosen by the parilhioners, minister of St. Mary, Aldermanbury. Very early in lite he evinced strongly his antipathy to the Arminian party; and this circumitance, it is alleged, prevented his obtaiping a fellowihip in the university, though his literary acquirements and his standing both entitled him to it, and though his character was unblemished. Mr. Calamy commenced his ecclesiastical career as a conformist to the church of England, and is said rather to have objected to the forms under which episcopacy was established in this country, than to episcopacy itself
. Though he occasionally preached before the house of commons during the interregnum, yet he took no part in the violent proceedings of the republican party, and opposed the beheading of the king with constancy and courage. During the usurpation of Cromwell he was paslive; yet when called upon to declare his sentiments, he was far from approving that proceeding. There is indeed a remarkable story of our author related by Harry Neville, one of the council of state, which is deserving the notice of all posterity, since it conveys to the reflecting reader the real secret of every tyrannical government, and the means by which the liberties of mankind are wrested from them. When Cromwell first aspired to the supreme dignity, desirous of the support of the presbye terian clergy, he sent for some of the most eminent of the city divines, informing them that, as a matter of confcience, he would submit his arguments and his scruples to their determination. Among those who attended, was Mr. Calamy; and he opposed the project of Cromwell's single government with equal boldness and force, and endeavoured to prove it not only unlawful but impracticable, asserting that it was evidently against the sense of the nation, and that nine out of ten wouid openly oppose it. “ Well,” replied Cromwell, “ if that is all, suppose I should disarm the nine, and put the sword into the tenth man's hand, will not that, think you, effect the business?"
Mr. Calamy was one of the non-conformist divines who were principally concerned in writing the famous book known by the name
name of SineEtymnuus, which, in the year 1641, gave, as he himfelf exprefies it," the first mortal blow to episcopacy.” It is entitled, “ An Answer to a Book entitled, An bumble Rencontrance; in