Saturday, 22 July 2017

Matthew Henry on dissent

When in the books and sermons, that plead for the church of England, I find sober dissenting ministers censured and condemned as usurpers, impostors, and lay-intruders; all their administrations nulled, their assemblies denied to be parts of the catholic church, all who join with them sentenced as schismatics to the pit of hell, and no hopes of salvation given them, but what God's general mercy allows to moral heathens; and all the reformed churches that have no bishops, - that is, diocesan bishops, - falling so far under the same censure, that their ministers cannot be admitted ministers of the church of England, unless they be re-ordained, while those who have been popish priests may; and all these harsh censures excused from uncharitableness with this, that they cannot help it, their principles lead them to it: then, think I, the Lord deliver me from such principles, and from that pretended unity, which is destructive of real charity.
The Rev. Matthew Henry

The Sufferers Catechism

The Sufferers-catechism, Wherein are Many Necessary and Reasonable Questions and Cases of Conscience Resolved, Etc was a 44 page book published anonymously in 1664. It appears to be the work of the Welshman Vavasor Powell (1617-1670) who wrote in prison with Nathaniel Rich (d 1701).

Here is a brief extract

Quest. 7 . Why are all the godly to expect sufferings and persecutions?
Because it is one of the wayes that God bath appointed to do them good by; it is food to feed them; a school to teach them; water to cleanse them; fire to purify them; a hedge, and a wall, to keep them from their sins; and a means to help them to be partakers of his holiness ... 

Quest. 15. Is it the revealed will of God the Father, and of Christ, that any should be persecuted or destroyed. for Religion or Conscience sake?
Answ. No surely. See Job. 19.22-28, Psal. 69.25 and 109.16, Mat. 7.12, Acts 7.52.

Quest 16. How doth that further appear?
1. Because it is contrary to the nature and behaviour of God and Christ. who are gracious, merciful, patient, and long-suffering to the worst of men, much more to the Righteous, Job 33.24.25, Jonah 4.2. Mat. 5.45, Luke 6.35, 36, Rom. 2.4.
2. Because it is contrary to the end of Christ's coming into the world, who came to save men's lives, and not to destroy them. Luke 9.56, 1 Tim 1.13.
3. Because persecution for Religion is a sin, therefore it is contrary. and not according to the revealed will of God; See Mat. 5.12, Luke 11.9, 1 Cor 15.49,  Gal 1.12-17, 1 Tim 1.13 .....

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Westminster Divine Simeon Ashe died 1662

Simeon Ashe was educated at the Puritan Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He began his career as a minister in Staffordshire, but was ejected from his living on account of his refusal to read the Book of Sports and to conform to other ceremonies. On his dismissal Sir John Burgoyne befriended him and allowed him the use of an 'exempt' church at Wroxhall; and he was afterwards under the protection of Robert Greville, 2nd Baron Brooke. He was a regular Sunday preacher at Warwick Castle, and a friend of the minister Thomas Dugard (brother of William, father of Samuel Dugard).
When the First English Civil War broke out, he became chaplain to the Earl of Manchester. At the close of the war he received the living of St. Austin, and was also one of the Cornhill lecturers. He was nominated to the Westminster assembly after the death in 1643 of Josias Shute. Although he had joined the side of the parliament, Ashe was strongly opposed to the Cromwellians; and when the time was ripe for the English Restoration he was among the divines who went to Breda to meet Charles II. He died a few days before the passing of the Act of Uniformity, and was buried on 24 August 1662. Had he lived to see the passing of the act, he would have vacated his living and so should be counted among the ejected.
Ashe was a man of some property, and while he held the living of St. Austin, his house was always open to his clerical brethren. Walker charges him with exercising severity against the conforming clergy.
His works - In 1644 he joined with William Goode, another chaplain of the Earl of Manchester, in writing a pamphlet entitled A particular Relation of the most Remarkable Occurrences from the United Forces in the North. This was followed by another pamphlet, for which Ashe alone was responsible, entitled A True Relation of the most Chiefe Occurrences at and since the late Battell at Newbery. The writer's object in both cases was to vindicate the conduct of his patron. In John Vicars's Parliamentary Chronicle there is a letter of his, describing the proceedings of the Earl of Manchester in reducing several garrisons after the battle of Marston Moor. Ashe was the author of sermons, including
'A Sermon on Ps. ix. 9,' preached before the House of Commons on 30 March 1642
'A Sermon before the House of Lords,' 26 Feb. 1644
'A Funeral Sermon on the Death of the Countess of Manchester,' 12 Oct. 1658, etc.
He also edited some treatises of John Ball, John Brinsley, Ralph Robinson, and others.

Memorial Sermon by J M Cramp 1818

A memorial sermon referring to the great ejection was preached by the Baptist historian J M Cramp in 1818. It can be accessed here.
His text is Acts 5:29.
At the end of his sermon he makes four applications.

1. In the conduct of these excellent men, we have a noble example for our imitation
2. As Dissenters, we should not be unmindful of our obligations to divine goodness
3. The principles of dissent deserve to be carefully studied, and warmly supported
4. In the event which we have now commemorated, we have a striking proof of the power of religion