Thursday, 4 March 2010

Thomas Doolittle

Thomas Doolittle (1630-1707) was an English Puritan pastor of the 17th century. At his death, in 1707, at the age of 77, he had the distinction of being the last surviving pastor of the Great Ejection.

Born in Kidderminster, as a boy he heard Baxter preach "The Saints’ Everlasting Rest" (published 1653). The addresses led to Doolittle’s conversion and he would later call Baxter his “father in Christ.”
As an assistant to a county lawyer, he was required to work on the Sabbath adn so he left. Baxter encouraged him to enter the ministry. He studied at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, earning a BA 1653 and MA 1656. His tutor was William Moses, later ejected from Pembroke.
Doolittle quickly earned a reputation as a great preacher. In 1653, he received Presbyterian ordination but committed himself to St Alfege, London Wall, where he until ejected in 1662. His ministry there had been eminently successful. In 1657, he had written to Baxter “God hath given me abundant encouragement in my work, by giving me favour in the hearts and affections of the people … and others in the city."

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Article list

I found this list of Journal articles and other things at the Unitarian Historical Society's website.
Bolam, C. Gordon 'The Ejection of 1662 and its consequences for the Presbyterians in England' Hibbert Journal 60:3 (April 1962) 184-195

Bolam, C. G. and Goring, Jeremy 'Presbyterians in separation: the cataclysm'
Bolam, C. G. and others The English Presbyterians: from Elizabethan puritanism to modern Unitarianism (London, George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1968) pp.73-92

Caplan, N. 'The numerical strength of nonconformity 1669-76; Sussex' TUHS 13:1 (1963) 13-18

Goring, Jeremy 'Some neglected aspects of the Great Ejection of 1662' TUHS 13:1 (1963)1-8

Kenworthy, Fred 'From authority to freedom in church life: the Act of Uniformity and Unitarian dissent' TUHS 12:4 (1962) 141-154

Montgomery, R. M. 'An old pamphlet [about the Conventicle Act is Suffolk, 1670]' TUHS 2:2 (1920) 33-42

Nuttall, Geoffrey; Thomas, Roger; Whitehorn, R. D.: Short, Harry Lismer The Beginnings of Nonconformity (London, James Clarke and Co, 1964) [The Hibbert Lectures]

Short, Harry Lismer 'The great ejection and its consequences' Commemorating the 'Great Ejection' 1662-1962 (Midland Union of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, 1962) pp.18-26

Thomas, Roger 'Presbyterians, Congregationals and the Test and Corporation Acts' TUHS 11:4 (1958) 117-127

Thomas, Roger 'A 1686 indulgence and its licences' TUHS 12:1 (1959) 41-42

Thomas, Roger 'Comprehension and indulgence' in Geoffrey Nuttall and Owen Chadwick From uniformity to unity 1662-1962 (London, SPCK, 1962) pp.

Thomas, Roger 'The rise of the reconcilers' Bolam, C.G. and others The English Presbyterians: from Elizabethan puritanism to modern Unitarianism London, George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1968) pp.46-72

Turner, G. Lyon Original records of early Nonconformity under persecution and indulgence 3 volumes (London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1911)

Wykes, David L. 'Religious Dissent and the penal laws: an explanation of business success?' History 75 (1990)

Wykes, David L. 'James II's religious indulgence of 1687 and the early organisation of Dissenters: the building of the first nonconformist meeting house in Birmingham' Midland History 16 (1991) 86-102 (covers most of England, not just Birmingham)

Wykes, David L. '"To let the memory of these men dye is injurious to posterity": Edmund Calamy's Account of the Ejected ministers' in Swanson, R. N. ed The Church retrospective (Boydell Press for The Ecclesiastical History Society, 1997) [Studies in Church History 33]

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Appleby Book Honoured

I found this piece of news here

David J. Appleby's Black Bartholomew's Day has been awarded the Richard L. Greaves Award by the International John Bunyan Society. The Richard L. Greaves Award is an award that is presented triennially to an outstanding book on the history, literature, thought, practices, and legacy of English Protestantism to 1700. The award is not limited to studies of Bunyan, and can be conferred on authors who are not members of the IJBS.
This is only the second time the award has been given, the first recipient being Isabel Hofmeyr of Princeton University.
Although the book has but one mention of Bunyan, the committee agreed that the book's contribution to dissenting studies was 'exceptional'.To find out more about the International John Bunyan Society follow this link:

Richard Morton

In 1904 a William Osler began an article in a medical journal on the 17th century medical man Richard Morton thus:

August 22, 1662 - Black Bartholomew's Day, as it has been called - brought sadness and sorrow to many English homes. The enforcement of the Act of Uniformity called for subscription to the Thirty-nine Articles, and enforced the use by all clergymen of the Book of Common Prayer. Among those ejected for refusal to subscribe - 2,ooo in number, it is said - was a young man, aged twenty-five, the Vicar of Kinver, in Staffordshire, Richard Morton by name. The son of a physician, born in 1637, he had been educated at Oxford, where he took the B.A. in 1656-57, became chaplain to his College and took the M.A. in 1659, and in the same year was appointed to the vicarage of Kinver. From the days of St. Luke there have been many instances of what has been called the angelical conjunction of physic and divinity. In the seventeenth century many men could sign after their names, as did Robert Lovell in his History of Animals and Minerals (1661), Philotheologiatronomos. Following Linacre's example, clerical orders have been taken as a rule by the physician late in life, but Morton, ejected from his living, turned his attention to medicine at a comparatively early age. From Baxter's account, he evidently was a loss to the church. He speaks of him as "a man of great gravity, calmness, sound principles, of no faction, an excellent preacher, of an upright life."
It is not known where Morton studied medicine. On the nomination of the Prince of Orange he was created an M.D. of Oxford in 1670. He settled in London, became a Candidate of the Royal College of Physicians in 1675, and a Fellow in 1679. He practised in Grey Friar's Court, Newgate Street, and had an unusual measure of success. He became physician-in-ordinary to the King, and enjoyed the confidence both of the profession and of the public. He seems to have been an intimate friend of Sydenham and a strong supporter of his new way in physic. He died in 1698.
His most important work is the Phthisiologia, 1689, of which there were six or seven subsequent editions in the succeeding century. Two English translations appeared, one in 1694, and the other in 1720.
His Pyretologia appeared in 1692, and is chiefly of value today as giving one of the most systematic and thorough accounts of the malarial fevers of that date.
The rest of the article can be found here.

Thomas Watson

By 1662 Thomas Watson for 20 years had been Pastor of St. Stephens Church, Walbrook, London. The Sunday of "The great ejection" he preached the following words to his church.
"Now, I welcome the cross of Christ, welcome reproach, welcome poverty or whatever shall befall me. This morning I had a flock and you had a Pastor; but now, behold a Pastor without a flock and a flock without a Shepherd! This morning I had a house, now I have none. This morning I had a living, now I have none. ‘The Lord giveth the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord!'"
Watson continued "This doctrine that I have preached to you is:
1. That Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save sinners, by His death, came also to sanctify them and to purge them from their sins.
2. That those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, must be careful to maintain good works and to live a godly life (Titus 3:8).
3. That faith in Christ is not such a slight, easy and empty thing as this mistaken world imagines, but it demands conformity of the whole man, heart and life to the Person of Christ.
4. That whosever believes not in Christ; whosever is short of true and sincere faith and godliness cannot be saved.
This is the sum of my doctrine! This is the eternal truth of God! I hereby embark my whole soul and life, desiring to be found in Christ Jesus, for Christ is All and in All" (Colossians 3:11).

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Nice summary

A nice summary written in Wales by John Legg can be found here. It says
Christians must often define themselves by what they oppose, for example as Protestants or Nonconformists. What did they not conform to? The short answer is, ‘the Anglican church’, but there is more to it than just a dislike of formal worship or of the Establishment. We must look at their origins in the seventeenth-century.

When James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603, he adopted the motto, ‘No bishop, no king’ and set about imposing conformity on the church. Many of his subjects, however, continued to meet together to worship God in a scriptural way. One such Separatist congregation was at Scrooby in Nottinghamshire. In 1608 persecution forced them to emigrate to Leyden in Holland, but after a peaceful few years they decided to go to America. Elder William Bradford later described their departure from Leyden: ‘they knew they were Pilgrims, and … lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country’. Ever since they have been known as ‘the Pilgrim Fathers’. After many difficulties, they set sail from Plymouth in the Mayflower. After a horrific voyage, they finally landed (in the wrong place!) and endured a cruel winter, fever, fires, accidents and the arrival of ungodly settlers. Within six months half of the original party (and half of the Mayflower’s crew) had died, but by prayer and the providential help of friendly Indians, they survived. The rest of the Leyden congregation arrived in 1630 and the settlement reached three hundred.
Not conforming to the Prayer Book
When Charles I succeeded to the throne, he and William Laud, his Archbishop of Canterbury, determined to impose conformity to the Book of Common Prayer. When Laud tried to extend the rule of bishops and the Prayer Book to Scotland, he ran into trouble. One doughty Scottish woman, named Jenny Geddes, resisted the public reading of the Prayer Book with the memorable action of throwing her stool at the Dean’s head and the equally memorable words, ‘Will ye dare read that book in my lug [ear]?’. By 1640 the number of colonists in America, eager to establish Bible-based churches, reached twenty-thousand and nonconformity was well established. Laud’s unwise policies contributed to Parliament’s resistance to the king and thus to the Civil War.
Oliver Cromwell
The coming of the Commonwealth and Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell brought relief to the Nonconformists of various shades. Although many Church of England ministers were removed from their parishes, they were only the inefficient, incompetent or immoral ones. During this period the Westminster Assembly met, in a failed attempt to unite England and Scotland in a Reformed alliance. The Assembly did, however, write the Westminster Confession and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, perhaps the finest theological statements ever produced. Most of the members of the Assembly were Presbyterians; others were convinced Anglicans; five were Congregationalists or Independents. They argued against some of the Presbyterian ideas and became known as the Dissenting Brethren.
The Bedford Baptists
The Particular (Calvinistic) Baptists were emerging as a distinct group. By 1644, they had seven congregations in England. One famous Baptist church was established in Bedford in 1650 with twelve members under the leadership of John Gifford. From 1653, when the Anglican vicar was deposed, this Baptist church, now with twenty-five members, met in the parish church, as did many other new independent congregations. One of these members was a newly converted tinker called John Bunyan. Gifford died two years later, but fairly soon, Bunyan began preaching and in 1656 was set aside to preach both in the congregation and more widely. He was not actually pastor, but continued to support himself by his ‘tinkering’. By this time the congregation at the Bedford Meeting had grown to around ninety members. In 1660, however, all this came to an end.
The Restoration
When Oliver Cromwell died in 1658 and was succeeded by his son, Richard, the politicians, who still hankered after a king and a national church, ‘restored’ the monarchy, with dire consequences. Charles II made conciliatory noises, but the new parliament insisted on restoring all forms and ceremonies of the church. The clergy who had been removed during the Commonwealth returned, including the vicar of Bedford, so that the Baptist congregation had to leave the parish church. The Presbyterians had high hopes of being included in the established church, but Bishop Sheldon of London was determined that there should be no compromise. He and his supporters wanted to get rid of all the Puritans, and this they did.
Not conforming to the Act of Uniformity, 1662
They drafted a bill strictly to make it impossible for even the least dogmatic of the Puritans to accept it with a clear conscience. The Act of Uniformity, passed in May 1662, gave all ministers of the Church of England until 24 August, St. Bartholomew’s Day, to conform to its demands. They had to affirm the supremacy of the monarch in all things ecclesiastical and spiritual, and that they gave ‘unfeigned assent’ to everything in the Book of Common Prayer. The timing was deliberately such as to deprive any who did not conform of a whole year’s income.
The Great Ejection
Nearly two thousand ministers (a hundred and thirty in Wales), including some who had withdrawn earlier, refused to conform. Most were Presbyterians or Independents, but there were also nineteen Baptists, of whom eleven were Welsh. The Bishop of London was disappointed that so many actually did conform. If he had thought so many would conform, he ‘would have made the Act stricter’! The ejection included not only ministers, but also lecturers and even schoolmasters, so that many of them were deprived of any means of livelihood.
What, then, did they object to? There were many important details in the Prayer Book that they found objectionable, such as the use of the sign of the cross in baptism and the wearing of the surplice. More importantly they refused ‘to pronounce all baptised persons regenerated by the Holy Ghost’; they regarded it as sinful to give the communion elements to the unfit, to pronounce a general and absolute absolution, and to declare anyone they buried ‘our dear brother here departed’. All these, of course, arose from the basic error that everyone in the parish was a Christian. More generally, they denied that anyone, king or pope, has the right to impose a liturgy on ministers.
The Clarendon Code
To back this up, Parliament introduced a set of penal acts aimed at destroying the many independent groups, Congregational or Baptist, which were still meeting. The First Conventicle Act banned the meeting together in a home of more than five people apart from the family members. In 1666 the Five Mile Act was introduced. This appears to have been specifically and spitefully aimed against certain godly ministers. When the Great Plague afflicted London in 1665 and the Anglican ministers fled to the country, the ejected ministers earned great credit by going back and looking after their flocks. The new act forbade them to go within five miles of any city, corporation or borough, or any parish where they had been minister or conducted unlawful conventicles. Immediately the king returned, the Bedfordshire magistrates ordered the restoration of the Prayer Book in public worship. Inevitably John Bunyan fell foul of the law and was imprisoned for twelve years. It was probably during this period that he began his great work, The Pilgrim’s Progress. Bunyan was only one of many Puritans who, in the providence of God, used their enforced silence to write.
Nonconformist restrictions
In 1672 Charles issued a Declaration of Indulgence, which allowed Nonconformists, including Bunyan, to apply for licences to preach and to establish meeting places where they could meet openly. However, Parliament was displeased and the Declaration in 1673 was replaced by the first Test Act which required all in public office to take communion at the Church of England. In this way Nonconformists were debarred from public office (and university) unless they were prepared to compromise their consciences. In other ways this was a time of relative quiet for the Nonconformists, but in 1681 new persecutions came on the Dissenters. In 1685, Charles’ son, an open Roman Catholic, became King James II. However, he went too far and the people rebelled. The ‘Glorious Revolution’ took place and William of Orange and Mary took the throne. Although the Protestant Dutchman did not do as much as the Nonconformists expected, he did introduce religious toleration for Protestants in an Act of 1689. Many disabilities remained for Nonconformists, but the worst was past.
In days when we tend to take our freedoms for granted, when we can attend university if we want, become members of Parliament and mayors if we so desire, attend the church of our choice without fear and, still preach the gospel without hindrance, we must remember the principles and struggles of our forefathers.