bold to come once again to your lordship, to know what may be done with my husband.

“ JUDGE HALE.—To whom he said, woman, I told thee before I could do thee no good; because they have taken that for a conviction which thy husband spoke at the sessions: and unless there be something done to undo that, I can do thee no good.

Wom.—My lord, said she, he is kept unlawfully in prison : they clapped him up before there were any proclamations against the meetings: the indictment also is false : besides, they never asked him whether he was guilty or no : neither did he confess the indictment.

“ONE OF THE JUSTICES.—Then one of the justices that stood by, whom she knew not, said, my lord, he was lawfully convicted.

“Wom.-It is false, said she ; for when they said to him, do you confess the indictment ? he said only this, that he had been at several meetings, both where there were preaching the word, and prayer, and that they had God's presence among them.

“ JUDGE TWISDON.- Whereat Judge Twisdon answered very angrily, saying, what you think we can do what we list: your husband is a breaker of the peace, and is convicted by the law, &c.; whereupon Judge Hale called for the statute book.

Wom.—But, said she, my lord, he was not lawfully convicted.

“ CHESTER.—Then Justice Chester said, my lord, he was lawfully convicted.

“Wom.—It is false, said she; it was but a word of discourse that they took for a conviction (as you heard before.)

“CHEST.—But it is recorded, woman, it is recorded, said Justice Chester. As if it must be of necessity true because it was recorded! with which words he often endeavoured to stop her mouth, having no other argument to convince her, but “it is recorded, it is recorded."

“Wom.—My lord, said she, I was awhile since at London, to see if I could get my husband's liberty, and there I spoke with my Lord Barkwood, one of the House of Lords, to whom I delivered a petition, who took it of me and presented it to some of the rest of the House of Lords, for my husband's releasement; who when they had seen it, they said, that they could not release him, but had committed his releasement to the JUDGES at the next assizes. This he told me: and now I am come to you to see if anything may be done in this business, and you give neither releasement nor relief! to which they gave her no answer, but made as if they heard her not. Only Justice Chester was often up with this, “He is convicted,” and “it is recorded."

“ Wom.—If it be, it is false, said she.

“ Chest.–My lord, said Justice Chester, he is a pestilent fellow; there is not such a fellow in the country again.

Twis.—What, will your husband leave preaching? If he will do so, then send for him.

“ Wom.—My lord, said she, he dares not leave preaching as long as he can speak.

“ Twis.—See here, what should we talk any more about such a fellow ? Must he do what he lists? He is a breaker of the peace.

“ WOM.—She told him again, that he desired to live peaceably, and to follow his calling, that his family might be maintained ; and moreover, said she, my lord, I have four small children, that cannot help themselves, one of which is blind, and we have nothing to live upon, but the charity of good people.

“ HALE.—Hast thou four children ? said Judge Hale: thou art but a young woman to have four children.

“ Wom.—My lord, said she, I am but mother-in-law to them, having not been married to him yet full two years. Indeed I was with child when my husband was first apprehended : but being young, and unaccustomed to such things, said she, I being smayed at the news, fell into labour, and so continued for eight days, and then was delivered, but my child died.

“ HALE.—Whereat, he looking very soberly on the matter, said, Alas poor woman!

“ Twis.—But Judge Twisdon told her that she made poverty her cloak; and said, moreover, that he understood I was maintained better by running up and down a preaching, than by following my calling.

“HALE.—What is his calling ? said Judge Hale.

“ ANSWER.—Then some of the company that stood by, said, a tinker, my


“WoM.-Yes, said she, and because he is a tinker, and a poor man, therefore he is despised, and cannot have justice.

“HALE.—Then Judge Hale answered, very mildly, saying, I tell thee, woman, seeing it is so, that they have taken what thy husband spake, for a conviction, thou must either apply thyself to the king, or sue out his pardon, or get a writ of error.

“ CHEST.—But when Justice Chester heard him give her this counsel; and especially (as she supposed) because he spoke of a writ of error, he chaffed, and seemed to be very much offended ; saying, my lord, he will preach, and do what he lists.

“WoM.—He preacheth nothing but the word of God, said she.

“ Twis.—He preach the word of God! said Twisdon (and withal, she thought he would have struck her), he runneth up and down, and doth harm.

“Wom.—No, my lord, said she, it is not so; God hath owned him, and done much good by him.

“ Twis.—God! said he; his doctrine is the doctrine of the devil.

“Wom.—My lord, said she, when the righteous Judge shall appear, it will be known, that his doctrine is not the doctrine of the devil.

“ Twis.—My Lord, said he, to Judge Hale, do not mind her, but send her

away. “HALE.—Then said Judge Hale; I am sorry, woman, that I can do thee no good; thou must do one of those three things aforesaid, namely, either to apply thyself to the king, or sue out his pardon, or get a writ of error ;—but a writ of error will be cheapest.

“ Wom.—At which Chester again seemed to be in a chafe, and put off his hat, and as she thought, scratched his head for anger. But when I saw, said she, that there was no prevailing to have my husband sent for, though I often desired them that they would send for him, that he might speak for himself, telling them, that he could give them better satisfaction than I could, in what they demanded of him; with several other things, which now I forget; only this I remember, that though I was somewhat timorous at my first entrance into the chamber, yet before I went out, I could not but break forth into tears, not so much because they were so hard-hearted against me, and my

husband, but to think what a sad account such poor creatures will have to give at the coming of the Lord, when they shall there answer for all things whatsoever they have done in the body, whether it be good, or whether it be bad.

“So when I departed from them the book of statutes was brought, but what they said of it, I know nothing at all, neither did I hear any more from them.”

Thus nobly did this woman plead; but in vain. Not even the presence of a Judge Hale was a guarantee for justice in those days. Poor Bunyan remained in Bedford jail, and, as we shall afterwards see, remained there with some great work to accomplish. Meanwhile, let us drop a tear to the memory of his only advocate-his faithful and eloquent wife.


OF THE PRIMITIVE CHURCHES. The members of the primitive churches of Christ were associated together by mutual voluntary consent. The persons who composed those societies sought admission, and were received to fellowship, on the ground of their professed conversion to the faith of Christ. They were not members, as in what are called national churches, by their accidental residence in a particular district of country; nor were they compelled by any human authority to assume a profession of christianity; all was the result of voluntary choice. First they gave themselves to the Lord, and then to his people by the will of God. The founders of apostolic churches never thought of deciding christian character by geographical boundaries; so that all residing on this side the line should be recognised as christians, and received to divine ordinances; and all residing on the other side, should be regarded as heathens. Christians, with them, were persons separated from the world, and distinguished by a peculiar faith, and a peculiar character; and they became members of a church of Christ, only when they sought admission to its communion, and were received by the body of the faithful. Thus the church, in every place, was a society distinct from the world-gathered out of the surrounding mass of irreligion—and associated together for spiritual purposes, by mutual voluntary consent.

The same principle of voluntary choice governed the members of the primitive churches, in the discharge of the duties of their membership. There was no human authority to compel their attention to religious duties, nor to enforce contributions for the support of religious ordinances. Christian duty was pointed out, christian obligation was enforced, the lofty and spiritual motives peculiar to christianity were appealed to; but there was no civil power to enforce contributions, no temporal penalties nor punishments to chastise the refractory, and compel the reluctant to obey. The consecration of themselves to God was a voluntary service, and they were divinely taught that every act of obedience they rendered, and every sacrifice they made, which was pleasing to God, must proceed from a willing mind. “ Let there be first a willing mind.” That is the primary qualification for everything acceptable in religion. And the Saviour will reject every exertion, however laborious, every sacrifice, however great or painful, every contribution, however princely, in connexion with his cause which springs not from a heart made willing by the constraining influence of his love. If a member of the apostolic churches walked disorderly, and refused to hear, alike the private admonition of the brethren, and the public rebuke of the church, that church could remove him from its communion, and exclude him from all participation in religious ordinances. And as the church had power to put away members from its communion, so individual members had the power to withdraw. But the civil power had nothing to do in the affair. There was no human authority employed to force on a christian professionthere was none to compel a church to retain a disorderly member. There were no temporal gains, or honours, held out to allure the worldly-minded to a connexion with the church-no temporal losses, or punishments to deter the members from departing from it. Everything with apostolic churches was the result of deliberate and free choice.

The following passages of scripture are selected as proofs of the voluntary character of apostolic churches. “ They that gladly received his word were baptized, and the same day there were added about three thousand souls.” Acts ii. 41. gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” “And ye became followers of us and of the Lord.” 1 Thess, i. 5, 9, “ Him that

66 Our

« ElőzőTovább »