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come, so that I may enjoy my Lord Christ. As, through grace, I have thankfully suffered a short imprisonment for God, and, as I can say it sincerely, I have suffered joyfully the spoiling of my goods ; so I hope, I can comfortably believe, my God will help me not to love my life unto death, for this gospel I have professed and preached. But, O my God, I am sensible of the frailty of my flesh, the treachery of my heart, and the temptations of Satan, and I am assured, if thou shouldst leave me, I shall certainly fall as Peter did ; therefore I flee to thy all-sufficient grace; thou alone art able to make me stand. Support and strengthen this weak and worthless worm. It is not any measure of gifts, learning, resolution, or received grace that can support me, it is nothing but thy assisting and corroborating grace. Though I cannot dispute for the truth, yet thou canst make me both dispute and die for Christ. Though of myself I can do nothing, yet by the strength of Christ, I shall be able both to do and endure all things. Lord, support me with wisdom, courage, zeal, fidelity, and all heroic christian graces, to pass through dangers and difficulties, and, if called to such a trial, to seal thy truth with my heart's blood. So voweth and prayeth,
Thy resolved servant,
Licenses threatened to be taken away-Parliament prorogued-Li
censes revoked—Mr. Heywood's conduct on the occasion--His Perseverance in Labours-Grateful Recollections-Parental anxiely -- Death of Relatives, Mr. Rich. Heywood, Rev. John Angier, Rev. Nath. Heywood-Self-examination-Mr. Heywood apprehended at Shaw chapel-Thanksgiving day-Extracts from his Diary—Sickness of Mrs. and Eliezer Heywood— Covenant renewed—Another Excommunication—Ordination of Timothy Jollie -Mr. H's. successful Labours-Repeated illness of Eliezer Heywood—The death of an ungodly Preacher-Review of 1681Severities exercised-Spiritual Journeys-Visit to London-Deliverances from Dangers—Disinterested Labours Mr. Heywood's Apprehension and Trial-His Perplexity-Imprisonment in York Castle—Prison Employment-His Liberation-Renewal of his Labours.
The liberty enjoyed in consequence of the licenses, was considered by many of the Nonconformists as very precarious, and so it proved. The parliament was displeased with the king for granting them, because it was an unlawful stretch of the royal prerogative. In February 1673, the House of Commons voted the king's declaration illegal, and he promised it should not be brought into a precedent. “In this tickle juncture,” says Mr. H. “God furnished his servants with a subject for prayer. The king to gratify the parliament, tore off the seal from the licenses, upon which our adversaries began to threaten us and execute penalties. Some ministers about Manchester gave over their public work, and most were at a loss what to do. The king called the judges to consult with them on
the case. They put him in mind of his promise to the parliament not to draw the practice into a precedent, yet told him all offices depended on him, and that he might show his displeasure at the severity of the justices by taking away their commissions. Accordingly when one Mr.Hicks, * a Nonconformist minister, was disturbed and fined, he rode up to the king, who not only granted an order for the recovery of his goods, but also for taking away the commissions of the justices who were active in the business. Upon this information the ministers went to their work again; blessed be God.” Every sincere friend to the British Constitution must detest the servile spirit of these judges, and the arbitrary conduct of this monarch, yet we cannot wonder that the persecuted Nonconformists embraced the opportunity of exercising their natural rights, in their conscientious worship of God.
At this time, as Mr. H. justly observes: “All things were on the wheel of change, especially concerning the affairs of the nation. The parliament,” he says, “ hath been sitting at the stern above twelve years ; but behold a strange and incredible alteration amongst them. Their late votes speak astonishing change in the members. They that were all for the king's prerogative have gone to the other extreme, have called some great men in question, have appeared violent against the Papists, and passed many votes for the poor Nonconformists. But while they were proceeding with most energy in making those unexpected changes in which they designed something for the good of the
* Mr. Hicks was a native of Yorkshire and educated at Trin. Col. Dublin. He was ejected from Saltash in Cornwall, and afterwards settled at Portsmouth, preaching as opportunity permitted. Unhappily he was induced to unite with the followers of the Duke of Monmouth, and thereby was brought to suffer on the scaffold. See the Nonconformist's Mem. vol. i. page 368—370.
nation, all on a sudden they have been prorogued from Feb. 24th to Nov. 10th, 1674, and afterwards to April 13th, 1675, so that there is an end to their proceedings. And what! are you also become weak as we? You stopped our mouths from preaching, and now yours are stopped from voting! You turned us out of our houses and out of God's house; and now you are turned out of the parliament house! You caused us to be put in fear, and punished us for doing God's work; and now you are put in fear by potent adversaries, and made incapable of acting for the good of the nation! How comes this to pass? Do not you see the righteous hand of God in these wonderful revolutions? O that these things may pierce your hearts, awaken your consciences, and excite a spirit of repentance! But how comes it to pass that your minds are thus changed? What caused you to mince the matter or alter any thing in the act of uniformity? Time was when you would not vote an ace of perfect conformity away ; now you can dispense with the cross in baptism, subscription, declaration, and renouncing of the covenant. &c.! Are these things less necessary now than formerly? Doth your zeal for the prelatical church slacken? Are you afraid of the common enemy, the Papists ? Or is it an act of policy to unite all parties, and secure yourselves? Or are you at last convinced of the great increase and danger of overspreading popery ? Or do you
discern the loyalty, peaceableness, and usefulness of the Nonconformist ministry and people? Who hath opened your eyes? Surely our God to whom we have prayed. We know whence this comes; but we are not ready for the mercy, nor is the nation in a fit posture for reformation. Lord, what wilt thou do with us? What will be the issue of these things? Thou knowest the contrivances of men, and the whole nation are at a stand, expecting O my
the result of these surprising changes. God Almighty, put to thy helping hand, take thy place and appear at the helm; awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord ? Convince the great ones of the earth that they stand in slippery places, and lead them to the rock of ages. Let them see their true interest is bound up in thine, and that what runs counter to thee cannot stand. The greatest favourites may be soon driven from the presence and services of mortal, changeable princes, or fall under the censures of the ambitious, the designs of their riyals, or the rage of the unruly mob. soul, there are better honours than what hang on the lips, or conceits of men; there is an honour that comes from God only. Great men often change their places, but seldom move nearer to God. The only way to rise is to fall; and casting ourselves low at God's feet, is the christian way of being received to the bosom of God. Let men attend the pleasure of princes; but, my soul, wait thou on God only. Let men advance in the world; do thou make progress in grace. While men, like ants, are busily compassing the molehill of the world, striving which shall be the highest, let it be the height of thy ambition to press into the kingdom of heaven. While many at this day are aiming to make proselytes to increase their party, do thou enlarge thy desires and quicken thy endeavours to gain souls to Christ, that at last thou mayest give up thy account with everlasting satisfaction. In the mean time, pity the great ones of the earth, who have nothing to comfort their hearts with when the favour of princes fails, remembering what a great man once said ; 'If I had been as careful to serve the great God of heaven as my great master on earth, he would not have forsaken me in my old
age.' About the close of the year 1674, the king called