Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

brics and all, both as true and good; whereas there were several things, which he could not think to be so. The exceptions which the ministers made against the liturgy at the Savoy conference, he thought very considerable;. and he could not submit to, much less approve the imposition of ceremonies. He often said, that when Christ' came to free us from the yoke of one ceremonial law, he did not leave it in the power of any man, or company of men in the world, to lay another upon our necks. Kneeling at the Lord's supper he was much dissatisfied with; and it was a subject of grief and deep lamentation, that for several years, he was prevented by this regulation, from partaking of this holy, ordinance. It need not be wondered at, that he was a non-conformist, for the terms of conformity were intended to keep out just such men as he was.

When his old master Mr. Busby met him, he said my son, how came you to be a nonconformist? Mr. Henry replied, “Why indeed sir, you made me one; the things which I learnt from you are the cause of my nonconformity.”

When the Lord Chamberlain told the king, that the terms of conformity were so hard, that he was afraid that the ministers would not comply with this; Bishop Sheldon, as Mr. Baxter relates, said, “I am afraid they will.” Many who were in doubt what they would do, until that act was published, were immediately decided. This is said to have been the fact, in regard to Mr. Anthony Burgess.

But although Mr. Henry was a decided non-conformist on principle, , yet he was moderate in his conduct and sentiments; and his example had influence on many to prevent them from running into an uncharitable and schismatical separation, against which he constantly bore his testimony, and was very industrious to stem the tide of such a spirit. In church-government, that which he wished for, was, Archbishop Usher's reduction of Episcopacy. He thought it lawful to join in the common-prayer, in public assemblies, and practised accordingly, and endeavoured to satisfy others, concerning it. The spirit he was of, made him inuch afraid of extremes, and solicitous for nothing more than to keep up Christian love and charity, among professors.

But to resume the history. He removed to Broad Oaks, at Michaelmas, 1662, just nine years

from the time he first came into that part of the country. Three weeks after his arrival, his second son was born; on which occasion he said, “We have no reason to call him Benoni, I wish we had none to call him, Ichabod.

For several years after his settlement, at Broad Oak, he went with his family, regularly to public worship, on the Lord's day; and did not preach himself, except when he visited his friends; or, to his own family, when the weather hindered them from going to church. In this state of the suspension of his ministry, in which he so much delighted, and so much excelled, he comforted himself, by the consideration, that sometimes he had by attending public worship, the opportunity of conversing with many, and of communicating instructions to them, according to their necessities. And in this way, his lips fed many, and his tongue was as choice silver; and he acted on the sound principle, that when we cannot do what we would, we must do what we can, and the Lord will accept us in it. His motive in attending the

[ocr errors]

public service, was, to bear his testimony to public ordinances; though sometimes, the sermons preached in his hearing, put patience to a severe trial. His disposition to labour in the vineyard, remained undiminished, and when he visited his friends, he laid himself out to be useful to them in every way. But still his mind was not entirely at ease, in this state of silence, in obedience to human laws, as appears by the following reflections, found in his diary. “I own myself a minister of Christ, yet do nothing as a minister. What will excuse me? Is it enough for me to say, behold I stand in the market place, and no man hath hired me?" Then he appeals to God," Lord thou knowest what will I have to thy work, public or private, if only I had a call and an opportunity, and shall this willing mind be accepted ?"

Surely this is a melancholy consideration, and lays a great deal of blame somewhere, that such a man as Mr. Henry, so well qualified, by gifts and graces, for ministerial work, and in the prime of his life; so sound and orthodox; so humble and modest, so quiet and peaceable, so pious and blameless, should be thrust out of the vineyard, as a useless and unprofitable servant, and laid aside as a despised and broken vessel, and a vessel in which there was no pleasure. This is a lamentation, and shall be for a lamentation; especially, since it was not his case alone but that of so many hundreds of the same character. The condition of many of these too, was far worse than his, as it regarded temporal subsistence; for they were not. only silenced, but cast out from their livings, with large families dependent on them, and without any means of comfortable support. One of his intimate friends, Mr. Lawrence, when ejected, had a .wife and ten children, and nothing to support them. When asked what he intended to do, he calmly replied," they must live on the VIth, of Matthew, “ Take no thought for your life.” And he often sung with his family, Psalm xxxvii. 16. And Mr. Henry has noted in his diary, the love and mercy of God towards this dependent family, providing for them in a way beyond all expectation. At the close of Mr. Henry's life, when now old, he remarks, that although the families of the ejected ministers were brought often very low, as they

« AnteriorContinua »