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did not forsake him in the midst of his severe trials. A few months after Mrs. Heywood's decease, he observes, “I keep house with one maid and my two little sons; and I bless God we live happily together. I cannot be better furnished with a servant. She is my child as well as servant, one of my first and best converts to the faith, and that spiritual relation hath much endeared her to me. She is sober, steady, and of a tender conscience, full of scruples, and fearing God above many; she is laborious and faithful, one in whom the children take great delight; a great mercy to me in my solitary condition.”*
* Such a servant as Martha proved herself to be to Mr. Heywood, had a just claim to his affection, and we accordingly find he took much interest in her welfare, as will appear from the following extracts, which include much of her history. “My servantmaid, Martha Bairstow, was sent abroad into service and hardship when only ten years of age. She has lived with me fifteen years. Her relations have disowned her; and when her father made his will, he left her much less than any of the others. He died, and was buried Dec. 1, 1673. Her relations were churlish; but have this day, Dec. 10, divided the goods and money : her share is £20. She feared there would be much wrangling, but matters were peacefully carried on to-day, though formerly she has returned home weeping. She is satisfied with her little portion, and I own this as a return of prayer to compose spirits, though she is put off with loss." About eighteen months after this, she left Mr. H's service to become the wife of James Tetlow, a member of the church at Northowram. On this occasion Mr. H. says, “ This hath been a solemn day on account of Martha's removal, my old servant, who hath lived with me about sixteen years, hath been faithful and careful of me and mine, afflicted with me in all my afflictions, and sharing with me in all conditions. She is now married to J. Tetlow. I loved her as a child. She was full of heaviness at parting. My heart was much affected in secret prayer ; but in the family, our affections overcame us, when reading and commenting on Gen. xxiv, respecting the proceedings of Abraham's faithful servant, and Rebecca's departure from home. I prayed near an hour, and God wonderfully wrought on us. Now, there is not one in my family, but myself, that was in it when first erected.”
Ingratitude of Charles II. to the Nonconformists-Declaration against private Meetings Mr. Heywood's Citation to York, and Reflections-His Suspension - The Act of Uniformity— Nonconformists not guilly of Schism-Excommunication of Mr. Heywood—Preaching at Coley Chapel prevented— Another Excommunication— Private Services—Frequent Alarms—Third Excommunication-Exclusion from public Ordinances-Warrants issued -Occasional Labours Violent Opposition
- The Conventicle Act - Frequent Opportunities of Preaching
Activity of Mr. Heywood's Enemies — A Gospel Minister at Coley Chapel — Mr. Heywood's Endeavours to obtain Absolution-His Visit to Lan
cashire-Journey into the South—Preservation from Dangers!
A providential Supply—The Plague of London.
CHARLES II. was chiefly indebted to the influence of the Nonconformists for his restoration. Had they united their energies in opposing his return, it is probable the family of the Stuarts would never have reascended the British throne: but so far from opposing him, many secretly desired, and others publicly pleaded for his restoration. They had just reason to suppose bis return to authority would be attended with the happiest effects. The nation had frequently been convulsed by civil discord, and the promises he had made when in exile, encouraged their brightest hopes. If they had no solid reason to believe that church government and modes of worship would be established on principles opposed to episcopacy, they justly expected they would be permitted to retain their stations in the Establishment, or, at least, be protected in the peaceable worship of God according to their views of
scripture and the dictates of their consciences. The declaration of Charles at Breda, dated April 4, 1660, was sufficient to raise these expectations. In that public document he had said : “ We do declare a liberty to tender consciences, and that no man shall be called in question for differences of opinions, which do not disturb the peace of the kingdom.” Gratitude to his best friends and faithfulness to his own promises, required the protection of the Nonconformists in the exercise of their natural and religious rights. Many of them had ventured their lives in the royal cause, and were the first to welcome his return. When he passed through the city on his way to Westminster, May 29, 1660, the Nonconformist ministers in London and its neighbourhood attended him with acclamations, and appointed one of the most venerable of their number to present him with a richly adorned bible, which he promised “ to make the rule and government of his life.” But scarcely had he entered on the regal office, when, after a pretended attention to the requests of the Nonconformists, he sanctioned the most violent proceedings of the high church party, and gave his countenance to the most shameful persecution of his best subjects.
The first step taken in the persecution of the Nonconformists, during the reign of Charles, was a declaration to prevent private meetings. Many of the Nonconformists, conscious of the integrity of their hearts, and the sincerity of their loyalty, could not suppose the declaration originated in opposition to them, but from political motives. “This day, Jan. 23, 1661,” says Mr. H.“we had designed to meet together for fasting and prayer in private, but are prevented by a declaration from authority. The truth is, our dread sovereign, at the first and hitherto, hath allowed us abundant liberty for religious exercise both in public and private; but his clemency has been abused, which hath occasioned this severe and universal prohibition.* The fanatical and schismatical party, truly so called, have, by their unwise and unwarrantable practices, troubled all the people of God throughout this nation, and have rendered the sweet savour of christian converse to be abhorred. The Lord judge between such as fast for strife and debate, and such as fast with gracious hearts and designs-between loyal subjects and despisers of authority. But why do I lay the blame on others and not on ourselves? The actions of men and edicts of princes" could not have abridged our liberties, had not our sins procured these things. Just, very just is what has come upon us, for we have been unprofitable under our privileges: they have been so ordinary, that our hearts are grown indifferent, and less than ordinary preparations have served for extraordinary duties. We met as if loth to meet; our prayers were full of deadness, unbelief, and vanity: it is therefore just, we should not be permitted to meet for prayer. We too much aimed at applause for our gifts, and God hath taken away the occasion of venting the pride and hypocrisy of our hearts. We did not improve the society of our christian friends, and therefore we must not now enjoy it. I doubt not we have been too much abroad and too little at home, religious in company, but careless in our closets : now we must learn to enter into our closet and shut the door upon us. It is the property of a Christian to make a virtue of necessity, and wisely to improve this present restraint of christian liberty, which our gracious God will restore to us if he see it useful.”
* Such was the favourable construction Mr. Heywood was disposed to put on this proceeding, but he had cause afterwards to think otherwise.
The prelates, being reinstated at the restoration of Charles, exerted their power to force the clergy to a uniformity in ceremonies. Some, more eager and zealous than others, cited great numbers of ministers to their ecclesiastical courts, and punished them for disobedience before they were fully invested with legal authority. In various parts of the land, Nonconformists were harassed by litigious suits in spiritual courts, a full year before the Act of Uniformity passed. August 25, 1661, the advocates for uniformity obtained a person from another township, to tender a common-prayer book to Mr. Heywood, when going into the pulpit. He enquired by what authority he presented it? to which the man made no reply, but laid it on the cushion. Mr. H. removed it, and went on with the service in the usual manner, and was much assisted in the work of the day. September 13, a bailiff of Halifax, who had lately been made an apparitor, brought Mr. H. a citation to appear at St Peter's in York, that day fortnight. His friends advised him to attend in person or by proxy, lest he should be excommunicated for contempt. He went on the appointed day, and the court inquired if he had a proctor. He replied, he was there in person to answer any charge. They ordered him to attend there that day three weeks. He requested to be informed, what was the charge laid against him. They replied, he should be told the next time he came. Having occasion to go into Lancashire on the appointed day, he neither appeared nor employed a proctor. On his return home, he found another citation to appear at York on the following Friday; but the time being so short, and Lady Watson having sent him word that the court as yet had no authority, he did not think proper to attend. After this, he was again cited to appear before them ;