as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."

These texts often occurring to his remembrance, and being applicable to his present case, he esteemed them as spoken to himself. But though he was now fully satisfied from the holy Scriptures, as the Lord was pleased to open them unto him by his blessed Spirit,-First, That the ministers of the church of England, so called, are no ministers of Christ, either in respect of their call, titles, work, or maintenance-Secondly, That the church itself, as constituted, hath no authority from the New Testament―Thirdly, That her doctrine is in many points very erroneous-Fourthly, That her liturgy-worship is will-worship-Fifthly, That her ceremonies, sacraments, ordinations, and tithes, are mere human institutions-yet he found it no easy thing to give up in obedience to his convictions, so as to leave her communion: both honour and interest lay at stake. It was hard to flesh and blood, to part with a good living and settled income, and to depend on Providence for a future supply. Nor was it a light thing for him, who had been a minister of that church, well approved for wisdom and judgment, near twenty years, to subject himself to reproach and contempt, and to be counted a fool by those who formerly held him in honour. These difficulties retarded him for some time; and many doubts and fears arising in his mind, his supplication was unto the Lord for strength and deliver

ance; so that, at length, he was enabled through grace to obey the heavenly call; and being directed by the truth, according to the measure then manifested to him, he voluntarily quitted his parochial charge and tithe-revenue.

He preached his last sermon at Peopleton, on the 18th of the Eighth Month, 1691, in the morning, on Matt. xxii. 37, 38. "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the first and great commandment." And in the afternoon, on Matt. xv. 9. "But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

It may not be improper here to insert the heads of these two sermons, as himself mentions them, in a letter to one Henry Hanson, namely:

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"Henry Hanson,

Peopleton, October 19th, 1691. "In the morning yesterday, I preached from Matt. xxii. 37, 38. 'Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart,' &c. In speaking of which, I opened the nature of the soul's love to God, in several particulars; as,First, It must be universal-Secondly, Without partiality and hypocrisy-Thirdly, without any rival or competitor-Fourthly, Without all carnal and worldly mixtures-Fifthly, Without any manner of exceptions, or reservations, or prospect of temporal accommodations-Sixthly, It must be a chaste, pure, and self-denying love.

"The grounds of this love, I mentioned were two. First, God's love to us, in giving us his Son and Spirit. Secondly, His Son's freely giving himself for us, in full satisfaction to divine justice for our sins.

"The observation I raised and argued was this;—That a love to God, thus grounded and qualified, would engage a soul to deny himself and the world, with every thing that was pleasurable, or profitable in it; and would carry a man over all doubts, fears, dangers, difficulties, and oppositions whatsoever,

and cause him to leave all for the sake of God and Christ. I concluded with some brief application.

"And in the afternoon I discoursed upon Matt. xv. 9. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.' After the explication of the terms of the text, together with some short account of the coherence, I comprised the whole of what I had to say from it, in this one proposition,―That all that faith and worship which men taught for doctrines, and could not be found in the Scriptures, was the commandments of men, and was vain worship, and unacceptable before God. After I had proved this, from several instances out of the Old and New Testament, I came to enquire what those things were amongst the Church of England professors, that were taught for doctrines of Christ, and yet were but the traditions and commandments of men. Here I thought to have been very particular, and to have run through the various tricks and devices of men, in wit and will-worship, and imposing it upon the consciences of others, under penalties; but night came on, and I was constrained to be much shorter than I intended. I hope I had the divine assistance. I saw abundance of matter before me, and very needful to have been spoken to; but being abridged in respect of time, I laid before the auditory,--First, The unscripturalness of a national church under the gospel-Secondly, The false constitution of parochial churchesThirdly, The novelty and usurpation of diocesan bishops over presbyters-Fourthly, The unreasonableness of composing of liturgies, litanies, and forms of common-prayer, and imposing their use upon the people-Fifthly, The false call of the present ministers of the Church of England-Sixthly, The irregular administration of the ordinances of Christ by them-Seventhly, Their unscriptural manner of receiving members into communion.

"I showed them also the necessity of separating from a church thus corrupt, in her constitution and practice; and that it was my own, and every other person's duty, after illumination and conviction of the judgment, to withdraw therefrom. I pressed them not to receive things upon the authority of any, the greatest men upon earth, whether kings, parliaments, convocations, or bishops; but in every article of faith, and in every part of worship, and every rite, usage, or ceremony enjoined, to examine it by the Scriptures, which are the only revealed rule of faith and prac

tice; and what agreed with that rule, to embrace it, and what they found contrary thereunto, (as they would, upon search, and as I through mercy had done, find the several matters before mentioned,) to reject it. I closed all with an earnest prayer to God for their information, in these and other matters; acquainting them, that the concern of the soul was the greatest of all other, and how fearful a thing it was to sin away the day and season of grace. Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them; but the transgressors shall fall therein.' Hos. xiv. 9.

"Yours in Christ,


On the 10th day of the month called December, 1691, he resigned his said rectory or parsonage of Peopleton; the form of the paper of his resignation in Latin being as follows, translated; namely,

"In the name of God, Amen. Before you a public notary, and a public and authentic person, and these credible witnesses here present, I Richard Claridge, Master of Arts,' rector of the rectory and parish church of Peopleton, in the county and diocese of Worcester, being willing and desirous, for certain true, just, reasonable, and lawful causes, me, and my mind, in this behalf specially moving, to be totally discharged, and disburdened from the burden, care, and government of my said rectory, and parish-church, do resign the same my rectory and parish-church, into the hands of the Reverend Father in Christ, and Lord, Lord Edward, by the divine permission Bishop of Worcester, or his vicar-general in spirituals, or any other person, that hath, or may have power of admitting this my resignation, not constrained by force, or fear, nor induced unto it by deceit, or fraud, nor circunvented by any sinister machination; but of my own mere knowledge, mere motion, with deliberation of mind, and freedom of will, purely, simply, and absolutely. And I do, both in deed and word, leave my said rectory and parish-church void: and all my right, title, and

He was admitted Master of Arts, the 22d of the month called February, 1676.

possession in the same rectory heretofore had, and still remaining unto me, I do renounce and yield up, and do depart from them, with all their rights, members, and appurtenances, fully and expressly, by these writings, signed and subscribed with mine own hand."

He made some scruple at signing the said paper of resignation, on account of the title of "Reverend Father in Christ," therein given to the bishop; but, the notary refusing to go out of the usual form, he subscribed it with a protestation of his not approving that expression.

While he was a minister in the Church of England, he wrote and published,

First, A Defence of the Present Government under King William and Queen Mary, in two parts, severally printed anno 1689.

Secondly, A Looking-Glass for Religious Princes, printed anno 1691.


RICHARD CLARIDGE had, for a considerable time before his resignation, contracted an acquaintance with several leading men among that sort of Baptists, who hold particular election, and final perseverance; and especially with William Hankins, and Eleazar Herring, pastors of baptized congregations, the one at Upton-upon-Severn, the other at Tewksbury: with these men, and some others of their opinion, he had divers conferences; and being already convinced in himself, that infant baptism was no institution of Christ, and perceiving them to bear a testimony against many

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