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entered the desk; preached from Mat. viii. 26., “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith ;” and threw light and joy into his soul. His great learning and piety soon brought him into public notice. He accompanied Cromwell into Ireland, where he presided in the college at Dublin a year and a half. He was then made Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, a post which he filled with great ability for five years. At the restoration of Charles II. he went into retirement, and died Aug. 24, 1683. aged 67. His works are exceedingly valuable. The principal is, his exposition of the Hebrews in 4 vols. folio.
John FLAVEL Was another distinguished divine of that age, well known in the Christian world by his 66 Husbandry spiritualized," his valuable sermons, and his treatise on “ Keeping the heart." He was minister of Dartmouth, but was cast out by the act of uniformity. He died 1691, aged 63.
DR. WILLIAM BATES, Called by some the dissenting Melancthon, died 1699, aged 73. His works are published in one volume, folio.
John Howe Was the domestic chaplain of Oliver Cromwell. After the restoration he was a silenced nonconformist, and became only a secret itinerating preacher. From the act of King James in 1687, giving the Dissenters full liberty of worship, he preached in Silver-street, in London, until his death in 1705, in the seventy-fifth year of his age. His works are in two fólio volumes. His most celebrated pieces are, The Living Temple, his Blessedness of the Righteous, Delighting in God, and the Redeemer's tears wept over lost souls. For “greatness of talent, unteigned piety and goodness, the true learning of a Christian divine, a thorough understanding of the scriptures, and skill and excellence in preaching,” he has been thought to excel all other men which England has produced,
These and other dissenting divines of that age, preached without notes. Their profound, elaborate and eloquent sermons, which have been transmitted to us, were taken down by stenographers.
From the ejection of the two thousand ministers to the revolution, was a period of twenty-six years. This was, for the most part, a period of severe sufferings; and before its close, above half these servants of God had fallen asleep, and many of
their congregations were scattered. The number of Dissenters however, was then great. In 1715 the number of Presbyterian, Independent, and Baptist congregations in England and Wales, was 1150. The first were double the number and size of the second. The third were few and small. Their members were chiefly merchants manufacturers, mechanics, and farmers.
The same things which first drove the Puritans from the establishment, continued to operate in favor of dissent after the revolution, and having liberty to congregate, and being shut out from all the regular places of worship, they made powerful efforts and built them meeting-houses in every part of the kingdom. Excluded from the universities by a test act, they established several seminaries for the education of ministers. From the act of uniformity to 1694, they had no public ordinations. Their ministers were set apart in secret, and often .in places distant from their congregations. But now they ventured gradually to ordain in public, and in the places where the candidate was to minister. These ministers were supported by the voluntary contributions of the people. A spirit of union arose among them, and associations were formed for the promotion of the dissenting interest. Their doctrine was purely evangelical, and their manner of preaching was after the old Puritan divines, plain, solemn, and pungent. Religion of course, flourished in their churches. To public worship, family devotion, private prayer, and strict morality, both Presbyterians and Independents gave great attention for many years.
Henry, Watts, and Doddridge, were for half a century the distinguished lights of this branch of the Christian church.
MATTHEW HENRY Was the son of Philip Henry, an eminent non-conformist who was ejected from the establishment. At ten years of age, he had the deepest convictions of sin, and at eleven gave good evidence of a saving change of heart. His whole heart was, from that time upon the ministry, which he entered at twenty-five years of age, being ordained with great privacy, May 9, 1687, at Chester. In his public services, he went nearly through the whole Bible by way of exposition, thus forming his invaluable commentary. He afterwards removed to Hackney, near London, where he commenced the same work again, but he was removed to a better world in 1714, aged 51—-declaring in his sickness, “ that a life spent in the service of God and communion with him, is the most pleasant life that any one can live in this world.” He was a most able preacher as well as commenta
tor. He wrote no farther than through the Acts of the Apostles. His work was finished by his brethren in the ministry.
He published a small book on prayer, which has been a great guide and help to others.
Isaac WATTS, D.D., Was born at Southampton, July 17, 1674. It is related of his mother, that, while his father was immured in prison for nonconformity, she sat on the stone by the prison door, suckling her Isaac, the child of promise. At seven years
age, composed hymns. Observing his talents, some friends offered 10 send him to the University ; but he chose to take his lot among the dissenters, and went to one of their semiparies. At the age
of 19, he confessed Christ. While pursuing his studies, sacred poetry much engaged his attention. The psalmody of England, was early imported from France. Maret and Beza, first published a metrical version of the psalms, which was generally sung to tunes in the reformed churches on the continent. The English Protestants continued at first, to chant hymns and anthems, as they had been accustomed to in the church of Rome. When they were driven to the continent, by the persecution of bloody Mary, they learned the psalmody of the Reformed, brought it back with them, and procured its adoption in the reign of Elizabeth. It became the psalmody of all the English churches for a century and an half. But the version of Sternhold and Hopkins, made in the reign of Henry VIII. was grating to the ear, and some of the nonconformists used the Scotch version ; others, Patrick's; others, the more poetical one of Tate and Brady. But the want of one was felt, containing better poetry, and adapted more to the worship of a Christian church. On complaining of the existing psalms to his father, young Waits was desired to make a better. A hymd was soon produced; which received great approbation. Others followed, until his incomparable book of psalms and hymns was produced, and this before he was two and twenty years of age.
At the age of twenty-four, he preached his first sermon, and was appointed successor to Dr. Chauncey, an independent minister in London. But his health"soon failed him, and he was laid aside for four years. Sir Thomas Abney, at this period invited him into his house, and paid him the most affectionate attentions during the long period of great infirmity of thirty-six years. He often was unable to preach at all, and was always much overcome with the exercises. But he made himselt'eminently useful from the press, by sermons, catechism and hymns.
His works are very numerous, and fill six vols. 4to. He died Nov. 25, 1748, in the 75th year of his age. On his death bed, his soul seemed, as a bystander remarked, " to be swallowed up with gratitude and joy, for the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ.” He was, in that age, is now, and will be for ages to come, an eminent blessing to mankind, especially to the lambs of Christ's flock.
PHILIP DODDRIDGE, D. D.,
Was born in London, June 26, 1702. When an infant, he was laid out for dead; but a motion being perceived, he was carefully nursed and preserved. His parents were eminently pious, and his mother taught him the Scripture history from the Dutch tiles in the fireplace, and made deep impressions on his heart. He early lost his parents but gained the patronage and friendship of Dr. Samuel Clark, and was trained up in a dissenting seminary for the ministry. He preached his first sermon at twenty years of age. This was the means of conversion to two persons. He soon settled over an independent church at Kibworth, and closely applied himself to study. His favourite authors, were Tillotson, Baxter and Howe. In 1729, he opened a theological seminary. The same year, he removed to Northampton, where he took the pastoral charge of a large congregation and continued his academy until 1751, when he died at Lisbon of the consumption, in the fiftieth year of his age. For twenty two years, he filled a great place in the religious world.
He was a man of eminent piety, a truly eloquent preacher, active in every scheme which tended to promote vital piety, an excellent sacred poet, and a tutor unwearied in his attention to a large and useful seminary. About two-hundred pupils enjoyed the benefits of his instruction, of whom, one hundred and twenty entered the pastoral office. His principal works are his 66 Lectures,” 6 An exposition of the New Testament, “ Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul,” and sermons.
Other lights were in this communion at the same period, whose praise is still in the churches. Doct. Ridgley, author of a Body of Divinity. Dr. Evans, author of sermons on the Christian temper. Dr. Edmund Calamy, author of the NonConformist's Memorial, Daniel Neal, author of the History of the Puritans. Moses Lowman, author of the Rationale of the ritural of the Hebrew worship. Dr. Guyse, author of a paraphrase of the New Testament. Doctor Lardner, author of “ The credibility of the Gospel History."
The Dissenters were ardent friends of the house of Hanover, and had they continued firón in their faith, and active in duty, might have prospered greatly by the side of the lukewarm and formal estalishment; but in 1718, they began to be distracted by the Arian controversy. Two ministers at Exeter, were suspected of unsoundness in faith. A general controversy arose, on the subject of creeds and confessions of faith. Many thought them an infringment of liberty, and took sides against them, and against the decidedly orthodox, who demanded them. These were soon suspected of error, and persecuted. Some of them took refuge, from trouble, in the establishment. Others became open Arians and Arminians; and, as the Puritans and Dissenters had ever lived by the power of evangelical doctrine, the churches of such, soon declined and went to decay. These were wholly Presbyterians and General Baptists. The Independents retained their ancient faith. In the deistical controversy, the Dissenters lost much ground, for their preachers, dwelling almost wholly on the evidences of Christianity, and neglecting to call sinners to repentance, became dry. And as they had generally adopted the use of notes, lest they should be reputed methodistical, their manner became comparatively dull and monotonous. Mr. Whitefield and his party, with whom the Independents harmonized, diffused among them for a season, much spirituality and life. But before 1760, there was a great decline in both denominations. During the life and popularity of Dr. Priestly, who abhorred a middle course, the Presbyterians generally renounced their ancient discipline, and separated entirely from independents, and called themselves rational dissenters. From Arianism, they have descended to Socinianism, and now choose to be known as Unitarians. Many of the Presbyterians in the North of England, retain their orthodoxy, and are united with the Scotch. At the end of Queen Anne's reign, the Presbyterians formed two-thirds of the dissenting interest. Now, not one twentieth part.
The Independents have for some years continued steadily to increase. They have at present, in England and Wales, 1024 congregations. Their ministers are evangelical and active.-They have laid aside the practice of reading sermons, and preach extempore. Strict discipline is maintained in their churches. Their seminaries for the education of ministers, have been distinguished, but many of them have fallen a prey to destructive errors. The two most respectable, now, are at Hoxton and Homerton. From the former, proceeded the lovely Spenser, of Liverpool, who, having filled England with his