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rant persecution, rather than the enlightened age in
mortal man to proibit them.
When the sessions came on, every means were employed by the friends of the accused, to defeat the ends of justice, but they were foiled in the attempt. The case was stated in a clear and forcible manner-the evidence which supported it was strong and conclusiveand though their acquittal would have given many of the spectators of their trial a triumph, yet an honest jury returned the verdict which the injured laws of the country demanded, and they were found guilty.
The advocate who was employed for the prosecution, displayed a fearless courage, and delivered sentiments in his opening speech, which reflected honour en his character, and which ought to be circulated through the country. “ The dissenters," he said,“ were no less entitled to the benefit and protection of the law, than the rest of his majesty's subjects; if they were not endowed, yet they were recognised and tolerated, and though it might be fashionable amongst a few bigots, who disgraced the church they wished to support, to malign and reproach them, yet it would be difficult to find a more enlightened, a more peaceable, a more useful body of men in any age or in any country. Descending from ancestors, who laid the foundation of our civil and religious
liberties, in the noble stand which they made against the oncroachments of arbitrary power, they inherit the same spirit; and while they wish not to rob others of the privileges which they enjoy, they claim protection for the security of their own, and that security the law gives them. Even the clergy who fill the pulpits of the national church, are not more protected than the dissenting minister who preaches in his own chapel; and the same power which guards the solemn services of the cathedral from the interruption of the rude and the insolent, watches around the humble villagers who meet together in some rural temple to celebrate the praises of their Maker. The church does not consist of
“The long drawn aisle and fretted vault;' it is not the gilded roof, or gothic architecture ; it is not the fluted column, or the painted glass; it is not the loud pealed organ, or the tolling bell, admirable as the lover of arts must ever consider them to be; the church is the place, however unpretending, where the faithful assemble to worship, the common Father of all. And if any choose to retire from these imposing decorations, amongst which our prejudices may have taken deep root, to perform their devotions, where there is .
No mellow windows' soft and soothing light,
No silken cassock, and no sable vest;' the law of the land not only permits, but protects them; and if the intolerant persecutor dare disturb, or even approach with a menacing look, he becomes amenable to its inflictions of punishment."
The rioters in this case were convicted; but as they made an handsome apology, and entered into a recognizance to keep the peace, Mr. Holmes and his friends very cheerfully consented to stay any further proceedings, which gave general satisfaction.
After this decision, the spirit of persecution withdrew from the disgraceful contest, and the poor villagers finding that they were protected by the laws of the country, resolutely determined to enjoy the freedom which no man could take from them. They now pressed in greater numbers to hear the truth from the lips of the unostentatious and benevolent preacher, who had given such decisive proofs, that he knew how to practice the forbearance which he enforced, and exercise that mercy which it was his duty ard bis delight to proclaim. When preaching a few Sabbath Evenings after the trial, from 1 Tim. i. 13:— Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I have obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief;-he saw two of the ring leaders of the late plot, silting in a back seat in the chapel. Without appearing to notice them, he took occasion from the subject he was discussing, to make a strong appeal to their consciences. After delineating the character of Paul, as a blasphemer and a persecutor, and as one who had injured the reputation and destroyed the
peace of others, he made a very natural transition to his present audience, and thus addressed them. “Happy would it have been for the world, if the spirit of
persecution had been destroyed, when Saul of Tarsus was converted to the faith of Christ; but alas! my brethren, it survived that memorable event, and has continued in existence to the present day. In former times it dragged the disciples of the Redeemer to prison, confiscated their property, and then consigned them to the flames; and though its power is now restrained by the laws.of our country, yet it still retains all its native řancour and malignity. It would now react the part which disgraced the gone-by days of our national his tory, and plunge us into all the horrors and sufferings which our ancestors endured: but thanks to a kind and merciful providence, we are guarded from its violence, and are permitted to assemble under our own vine and fig-tree, none daring to make us afraid.
Our duty in relation to our persecutors, is to pity them, for they do it ignorantly in unbelief, and to pray that they may obtain mercy.—And have we not encouragement to pray for them ? 'Yes, for God is often pleased to transform the persecutor into a preacher of the faith he once despised. Hence saith the Apostle, when writing to the church at Galatia ;-But they had heard only, that he which persecuted us in times past, now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. What a change! What a miracle of grace! What a proof that Christ Jesus came to save the chief of sinners! And am I now addressing any one who has attempted to disturb
us in the enjoyment of our religious privileges ? or who has been in the habit of reviling or threatening us? You see how we are protected, and though we have not chosen to enforce the full penalties of the law, yet a repetition of the offence will render such forbearance in future absolutely impossible. But I flatter myself, that those who have opposed us, will oppose no longer; and that even the 'persecutors themselves, may be induced to implore mercy. Yes, O persecutor, he against whom thou hast raised the rebellious hand, waits to be gracious--he, whose authority thou hast trampled on, and whose grace thou hast despised, is now looking down with an eye of compassion, more willing to pardon and to save, than to punish and destroy. If you continue, in a state of rebellious impenitence, you will treasure up to yourself wrath against the day of wrath; but if you now repent and pray, and believe in him, you will be forgiven, and finally admitted into his presence in heaven, where you will enjoy a state of purity and felicity for ever. Let me then urge you to return home, and on your knees atter the prayer of the publican, God be merciful to me a sinner; and should it please God, who delighteth in mercy,
to answer this
prayer, you will then enjoy that peace of mind which passeth all understanding, and feel a stronger attachment to the gospel of Christ, than you ever felt aversion.”
It often happens, that the cause of the Redeemer is promoted by the very means which its enemies employ to crush it; and though we might select many examples from the
page of history to confirm the truth of this remark, yet no one would present a more striking confirmation of it, than what this village supplies. The congregation increased with so much rapidity, that it became necessary to erect a large front gallery in the chapel, and many of the inhabitants of remoter parishes, being induced to come and hear the man who had been so unjustly treated, solicited him to visit them and preach during the evenings of the week.--So mightily grow the word of God, and prevailed.
Printed by MILNB and BANFIELD, 70, Fleet street.
There is Farmer H, who lives in the house in which his grandfather was born, and which is shaded by a large oak tree, that has outlived many generations, and is likely to outlive many more. He rises in the summer about five; breakfasts at half-past six ; takes his dinner exactly as the clock strikes twelve; smokes his pipe in the portico (to speak in modern language) between seven and eight; then takes his supper and retires at nine, to sleep away the long and tedious hours of night.”