judge for himself now.” These were the grand principles of their nonconformity. The author of these volumes has spared no labour nor expense in the collection of materials, and has used the utmost care to retain whatever appeared interesting, curious, and useful. Not writing to please any particular sect or party, he has endeavoured to observe the strictest impartiality. In the lives of these worthies, he has not suppressed their imperfections, nor even the accusations of their adversaries; but has constantly stated their faults, as well as their excellencies, without reserve. Neither has he at any time connived at bigotry and persecution, whether found among prelates, presbyterians, or any others. Whoever were the persecutors or aggressors, their case is represented, as near as possible, as it is . found in the faithful pages of history. His sole object has been to give a lucid and impartial statement of facts. Indeed, the documents are frequently transcribed in the very words of the authors; and, wishing to retain the genuine sense and originality of the whole as entire as possible, he has constantly avoided dressing them in any garb of his own. Through the whole, he has invariably given his authorities. These might easily have been multiplied; but, when two or more authors have given accounts of the same facts, he has invariably chosen that which appeared the most authentic:

* Calamy's Contin, vol. i. Pref.

or, when they have at any time contradicted each other, he has always given both, or followed that which appeared most worthy of credit. In the Appendix, a correct list is given of the principal books consulted; and, for the satisfaction of the more critical reader, the particular edition of each is specified. In numerous instances, reference will be found to single lives, funeral sermons, and many other interesting articles, of which the particular edition is mostly given. In addition to the numerous printed works, he has also been favoured with the use of many large manuscript collections, a list of which will be found at the close of the Appendix. From these rare documents he has been enabled to present to the public a great variety of most interesting and curious information never before printed. After all, many lives will be found very defective, and will leave the inquisitive reader uninformed in numerous important particulars. Such defect was unavoidable at this distance of time; when, after the utmost research, no further information could possibly be procured. The author has spent considerable labour to obtain a correct list of the works of those whose lives he has given, and to ascertain the true orthography of the names of persons and places. Though, in each of these particulars, he has succeeded far beyond his expectations, yet, in some instances, he is aware of the deficiency of his information.

He can only say, that he has availed himself of WOL. I. b

every advantage within his reach, to render the whole as complete and interesting as possible. The lives of these worthies are arranged in a chronological order, according to the time of their deaths.” By such arrangement, the work contains a regular series of the History of Nonconformists during a period of more than a hundred years. It does not in the least interfere with any other publication; and forms a comprehensive appendage to Neal’s “History of the Puritans,” and a series of biographical history closely connected with Palmer's “Nonconformist's Memorial,” containing a complete memorial of those nonconformist divines who died previous to the passing of the Act of Uniformity. To this, however, , there are some exceptions. There were certain persons of great eminence, who lived after the year 1662; yet, because they were not in the church at that period, they come not within the list of ejected ministers, but are justly denomimated Puritans. Memoirs of these divines will therefore be found in their proper places. It was requisite, in a work of this nature, to give some account of the origin and progress of Nonconformity, together with a sketch of the numerous barbarities exercised upon the Puritans. This will be found in the Introduction, which may not prove unacceptable to the inquisitive and *It should here be remembered, that, in all cases, when the pious reader. If its length require any apology, the author would only observe, that he hopes no

particular period of their deaths could not be ascertained, the last circumstance noticed in their lives is taken for that period.

part of it will be found superfluous or uninteresting; that he has endeavoured to give a compressed view of the cruel oppressions of the times; and

that it would have been difficult to bring the

requisite information into a narrower compass. The work contains an authentic investigation of the progress and imperfect state of the English reformation, and exhibits the genuine principles of protestant and religious liberty, as they were violently opposed by the ruling ecclesiastics. The fundamental principles of the reformation, as the reader will easily perceive, were none other than the grand principles of the first Protestant Nonconformists. Those reasons which induced the worthy Protestants to seek for the reformation of the church of Rome, constrained the zealous Puritans to labour for the reformation of the church of England. The Puritans, who wished

to worship God with greater purity than was

allowed and established in the national church,” were the most zealous advocates of the reformation; and they used their utmost endeavours to carry on the glorious work towards perfection. They could not, with a good conscience, submit to the superstitious inventions and impositions of men in the worship of God; on which account, they employed their zeal, their labours, and their influence to promote a more pure reformation.

* Fuller's Church Hist. b. ix. p. 76. . . .

And because they sought, though in the Inost peaceable manner, to have the church of England purged of all its antichristian impurities, they were stigmatized with the odious name of Puritans, and many of them, on account of their nonconformity, were suspended, imprisoned, and persecuted even

unto death. These volumes, therefore, present to

the reader a particular detail of the arduous and painful struggle for religious freedom, during the arbitrary reigns of Queen Elizabeth, King James, and King Charles I., to the restoration of King Charles II. " The reader will here find a circumstantial account of the proceedings of the High Commission and the Star Chamber, the two terrible engines of cruelty and persecution. The former of these tribunals assumed the power of administering an oath ex officio, by which persons were constrained to answer all questions proposed to them,

though ever so prejudicial to themselves or others:

if they refused the unnatural oath, they were cast into prison for contempt; and if they took it, they were convicted upon their own confession. The tyrannical oppressions and shocking barbarities of these courts are without a parallel in any Protestant country, and nearly equal to the Romish inquisition. The severe examinations, the numerous suspensions, the long and miserable imprisonments, with other brutal usage, of pious and faithful ministers, for not wearing a white surplice, not baptizing with a cross, not kneeling at the

« 上一頁繼續 »