and religion enforced by law. This, the doctrine of Rome, was adopted by the Churches of the Reformation, by all of them without question.

It was no easy matter to gainsay these views. And yet they must be uprooted, if conscience was to be free. The man, who would attempt this, had a hard task, and needed rare qualities: a daring spirit, yet matchless patience; the courage which could brave violence, yet the gentleness which could disarm hostility, and win prejudice by mild persuasion. The mission was a new

From a strange quarter, and through strange training, the missionary was found.




The state of religion in the reign of Charles I. had become bad enough before the civil wars. Theologians had their hands full of dogmas, and controversy ate up piety. Endless disputes on the Divine decrees absorbed the learned. The clergy thrust forward extravagant pretensions. A large body of these, from the Reformation, had been grossly ignorant, and their performance of the Service was as coarse as that of the worst of the Romish priests. In many cases they did not preach, and it was well for their flocks that they did not: but, however scandalous the clergyman, the law prescribed attendance at church. If any one absented himself, he might be fined and imprisoned. If any one objected to an ordinance of the Church, he was open to a prosecution. Canons had passed in 1604 (141 in number, which thundered excommunications. The

* The Canons of 1604 begin with eleven and end with three excommunications,—while between these fires there are scattered some ten

If any

canons, indeed, had no authority over the laity; but the statutes supplied the defects of the canons. one held a religious meeting, he might be arrested, the oath of Supremacy might be tendered him, and if he refused it he was laid by the heels like a felon.

Along with this rigour in behalf of the Church, religious principle and morality declined. Men passed from controversies on the five points of Calvin and Arminius, to revelry. The English Sabbath was rapidly descending to the level of a Romish holiday; an hour or two of formal devotion was followed by an afternoon of debauchery; and, if the fear of the law hardly filled the church, the licence of the age thronged the public-houses. It was not wonderful that earnest minds, scandalized by the spectacle, should turn with distaste from ordinances associated with gross abuses, and should learn to hate the discipline which sheltered so loose a practice.

It was at this time, just as Charles the First began to reign, that in the village of Fenny Drayton, in Leicestershire, there was growing up under the roof of an honest weaver, who appears to have been a man of integrity and piety, a boy remarked from his childhood for a singularly sweet disposition and a staid deport

vollies : directed against such offences, as omitting to catechize the children,-in the case of the laity, leaving their parish church,-devising plans of church-reform. Against schismatics and recusants there was a periodical volley of excommunications every six months.

ment. For the feastings and merry-makings of his neighbours he had little taste, and in the sports of his yillage he took no part. He was placed 'for a time apprentice with a shoemaker, who united the multifarious callings of a dealer in sheep and shoes; and this lad alternately tended the sheep and plied the awl. But, becoming more singular as he advanced in years, and possessing some little means which supplied his scanty wants, he abandoned himself, before he reached the age of twenty, to religious impressions : himself wrapped in thought, troubled by many doubts, he visited the surrounding clergy to seek instruction and comfort. As he did not find this from persons in his neighbourhood, he extended his enquiries to the clergy of Northamptonshire, Herts, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire, propounded to any, who were of note, his religious difficulties, and sought from them some repose for his burdened heart. Earnest study of the Bible, musings on the dealings of God, divided his solitary hours with fasting and prayer. He wandered about for days in remote solitudes : he often sat with his Bible in hollow trees and lonesome places until night came on, and then, in the night, he walked about mournfully. The preachers, to, whose sermons he listened, gave him no comfort; the clergy, whom he visited, met his doubts with derision : alone he struggled for four years, uneducated, a lad of three-andtwenty, with the despondency and doubts of a perplexed

but sincere mind. At last the Bible, which he had so painfully studied,* opened to him its treasures; and the prayers which he had offered brought their answer of peace; what he had sought in vain in the ministry of the Church, he appeared to find in his own heart, in solitude: and the peace which he had longed for, which he prized above all attainments, came to him at length, not through the lessons of others, or the words of human counsel, but in solitary abstraction, through the influence of that Great Spirit who can touch the inward mind! With such a personal history, it is not wonderful-on the contrary, it is natural—that the uneducated lad should regard the course, by which he was led, as that which the Spirit of God designed to use in these later days, and that his case marked the advent of a new development of truth fitted to these distracted times. He was little likely to consider that his

* “ And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had'nothing outwardly to help me; nor could tell what to do, then 1 heard a voice which said, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, which can speak to thy condition.'—When I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, that I might give him all the glory; for all are concluded under sin and shut up in unbelief, as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence, who enlightens and gives grace, faith, and power. Thus when God doth work, who shall let it? This I knew experimentally—my dreams of the Lord grew stronger, and zeal in the pure knowledge of God and of Christ alone, without the help of any man, book or writing. Then the Lord gently led me along, and let me see his love which was endless and eternal, surpassing all the knowledge that men have in the natural state, or can get by history or books.”

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