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in such conventicles, are subject to a penalty of twenty pounds for the first, and forty pounds for every subsequent offence; and any person who permits such a conventicle to be held in their house, is liable to a fine of twenty pounds; and justices of peace are empowered to break open doors where tbey are informed such conventicles are held, and take the offenders into custody.
6th. An act for preventing dangers which may happen from popish recusants, commonly called the test act, where by (as afore-mentioned) every person is incapacitated from holding a place of trust under the government, without taking the sacrament according to the rites of the church of Englaod.
By the rigorous execution of these laws, the non-conform. ist ministers were separated from their congregations, from their maintenance, from their houses and families, and their people reduced to distress and misery, or obliged to worship God in a manner contrary to the dictates of their consciences, on penalty of heavy fines, or of being shut up in a prison among thieves and robbers. Great numbers retired to the plantations; but Dr. Oweo, who was shipping off his effects for New England, was forbid to leave the kingdom by express orders from king Charles himself. If there had been treason or rebellion in the case, it had been justifiable; but when it was purely for non-conformity to certain rites and ceremonies, and a form of church government, it can deserve no better name than tbat of persecution.
The house of commons, from their apprehensions of the growth of popery and of a popish suceessor to the crown, petitioned the king against the duke's second marriage with the princess of Modena, an Italian papist, but his majesty told them they were too late. Upon which the Commous stopt their money-bill, voted the standing army a grievance, and were proceeding to other vigorous resolutions, when the king sent for them to the house of peers, and with a short speech prorogued them to January 7, after they had sat only nine days. In the mean time the duke's marriage was consummated, with the consent of the French king, which raised the expectation of the Roman catholies bigher than ever.
This induced the more zealous protestants to think of a
firmer union with the dissenters; accordingly Mr. Baxter, at the request of the earl of Orrery, drew up some proposals for a comprehension, agreeably to those alrearly mentioned.* “ He proposed that the meeting houses of dissenters should be allowed as chapels, till there were vacancies for them in the churches-and that those who had no meetinghouses should be school-masters or lecturers till such time --that vone should be obliged to read the apocrypha-tliat parents might have liberty to dedicate their own children in baptism-that ministers might preach where somebody else w bo bad the room might read the common prayer that ministers be not obliged to give the sacrament to such as are guilty of scandalous immoralities, nor to refuse it to those who scruple kneeling-that persons excommunicated may not be imprisoned and ruined—and that toleration be given to all conscientious dissenters--.” These propos. als, being communicated to the earl of Orrery, were put in. to the hands of bishop Morley,f who returned them without yielding to any thing of importance. The motion was also revived in the house of commons; but the shortness of the sessions put a stop to its progress. Besides, the court bishops seemed altogether indisposed to any concessions.
Tbis year put an end to the lives of two considerable non-conformist divines; Mr. William Whitaker, the eject. ed minister of St. Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey, son of Mr. Jer. Whitaker, a divine of great learning in the oriental languages. He was an elegant preacher, and a good man from his youth. While he was at Emanuel college, he was universally beloved ; and when he came to London, generally esteemed for his sweet disposition. He was first preacher at Hornchurch, and then at the place from whence he was ejected. He afterwards preached to a separate congregation as the times would permit, and died in the year 1673.5
Mr. James Janeway, M. A. was born in Hertfordshire, and student of Christ church, Oxford. He was afterwards tutor in the house of Mr. Stringer at Windsor; but not be. ing satisfied with conformity, he opened a separate meeting
* Baxter, part iii. p. 110.
in Rotherhithe, where he preached to a numerous congregation with great success.|| He was a zealous preacher, and fervent in prayer, but being weakly, bis indefatigable labors broke his constitution, so that he died of a consumption March 16 1673-4, in the 38th year of bis age.
The revocation of the indulgence, and the displeasure of the court against the dissenters, for deserting them in their desigus to prevent the passing the test act, let loose the whole tribe of informers. The papists being exclud. ed from places of trust, the court had no tenderness for protestant non-conformists; the judges therefore had or. ders to quicken the execution of the laws against them. The estates of those of the best quality in each county were ordered to be seized. The mouths of the high church pulpiteers were encouraged to open as loud as possible: one in his sermon before the house of commons told them,
that the non-conformists onght not to be tolerated, but to · be cured by vengeance.
He urged them to set fire to the faggot, and to teach them by scourges or scorpions, and open their eyes with gall. The king bimself issued out a proclamation for putting the penal laws in full execution; which had its effect. *
Mr. Baxter was one of the first upon whom the storm, fell, being apprehended as he was preaching his Thursday lecture at Mr. Turner's. He went with a constable and Keting the informer to Sir William Pulteney's, who demanding the warrant, found it signed by Henry Montague, Esq. bailiff of Westminster. Sir William told the constable, that none but a city justice could give a warrant to apprehend a man for preaching in the city, whereupon he was dismissed.t Endeavors were used to surprise Dr. Manton, and send him to prison upon the Oxford or fivemile act, but Mr. Bedford preaching for him was accidentally apprehended in his stead ; and though he had taken the oath in the five-mile act, was fined twenty pounds, and the place forty pounds, wbich was paid by the hearers.
The like ravages were made in most parts of England; Mr. Joseph Swafield, of Salisbury, was seized preaching
|| Calamy, vol. ji. p. 838. and Palmer, vol. p. 634. State Tracts, vol. iii. p. 42. Baxter, part iii. p. 153. Ibid, part iii. p. 165.
S Coni: Plea, part iv. p. 75.
in his own house, and bound over to the assizes, and imprisoned in the county gaol almost a year. Twenty-five persons, men and women, were indicted for a riot, that is, for a conventicle, and suffered the penalty of the law. The informers were Roman catholics, one of whom was executed for treason in the popish plot.--At East-Salcomb, in Devonshire, lived one Joan Boston, an old blind widow, who, for a supposed conventicle held at her bouse, was fined twelve pounds, and for non-payment of it tbreatened with a gaol. After some weeks the officers broke open her doors, and carried away her goods to above the value of the fine. They sold as many goods as were worth thirteen pounds for fifty shillings; six hogsheads valued at forty sbillings for pine shillings; and pewter, featherbeds, &c. for twenty shillings; besides the rent which they demanded of her tenants.—Mr.John Thompson, minister in Bristol, was apprehended, and refusing to take the Oxford oath was committed to prison, where he was seized with a fever through the noisomeness of the place : A physician being sent for, advised his removal; and a bond of five hundred pounds was offered the sheriff for his security : Application was also made to the bishop without success ; so be died in prison Mareb 4, declaring, that if he had known when he came to prison that he should die there, he would have done no otherwise than he did.Numberless examples of the like kind might be produced during the recess of the parliament. But the king's want of money, and the discontents of his people, obliged him to put an end to the war with the Dutch, with no other advantage than a sum of two or three hundred thousand pounds for bis expences.
His majesty was unwilling to meet his parliament, who were now full of zeal against popery, and began to consider the non-conformists as auxiliaries to the protestant cause ; but necessity obliged him to convene them; and as soon as they met Jan. 7, 1674, they addressed his majesty to banisb all papists, who were not bouse-keepers nor menial servants to peers, ten miles from London; and to appoint a fast for the calamities of the nation. They attacked the remaining members of the cabal, and voted an ad
Conf. Plea, part iv. p. 75.
dress for removing them from his majesty's council; upon which the king prorogued them for above a year, after they had sat six weeks, without giving any money, or passing one single act; which was an indication of ill blood between the king and parliament, and a certain forerunner of vengeance upon the dissenters. But to stifle the clamors of the people, his majesty republished his proclamatioo,* forbidding their meddling in state affairs, or talking seditiously in coffee-houses; and then commanded an order to be made, public, ó that effectual care be taken for the suppressing of conventicles; and whereas divers pretend old licences from bis majesty, and would support themselves by that pretence, his majesty declares, that all his licences were long since recalled, and that no conventicle has any authority, allowance, or encouragement from him.”+
This year put an end to the life of that great man Joha Milton, born in London, and educated in Christ.college, Cambridge, where he discovered an uncommon genius, wbich was very much improved by his travels. He was Latia secretary to the long parliament, and wrote in de fence of the murder of king Charles I. against Salmatius and others, with great spirit, and in a pure and elegant Latin stile. He was afterwards secretary to the protector Cromwell, and lost the sight of both his eyes by hard study, At the Restoration some of his books were burnt, and himself in danger, but he was happily included in the act of indemnity, and spent the remainder of his life in retire. ment. He was a man of an unequalled genius, and acquired immortal fame by his incomparable poem of Puradise Lost; in which he manifested such a sublimity of thought, and such elegance of diction, as perhaps were never exceeded in any age or nation of the world. His daughters read to him, after he was blind, the Greek poets, though they understood not the language. He die in mean circumstances at Bunhill near London, in the 67th year of his age. I * Gazette, No. 883.
+ Ibid. No. 962, 965. It is but a piece of justice to the memory and virtues of some of the most distinguished characters of the conformists and non-conformists of this period, to record here their pious exertions for the reli. Vou. V.