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and silence the ejected preachers, Parliament was induced to pass what was called the “ Conventicle Act,” which came into force 1st July, 1664. It was a most severe and cruel enactment, enjoining ::

That every person above sixteen years of age, present at any meeting, under pretence of any exercise of religion, in other manner than is the practice of the Church of England, where there are five persons more than the household, shall, for the first offence, by a justice of the peace be recorded and sent to jail for three months, or pay £5 ; and for the second offence, six months, or pay (10 ; and for the third time being convicted by a jury shall be banished to some of the American plantations, except New England or Virginia, for seven years, or pay £100 ; and in case such persons return, or make their escape, such persons are to be adjudged felons, and suffer death without benefit of clergy.' This in. famous enactment must ever cast the utmost shame upon its royal and ecclesiastical promoters.

One may well wonder how these banished ministers contrived to live. Some had private means, others were received as private chaplains into the homes of the wealthier Nonconformists, and not a few had to suffer considerable privations. Even Oliver Heywood, who had many friends, was at times perplexed how to provide meals for his family. But he always trusted in the Lord to send timely succour.

On one occasion his home was totally destitute of food. What did he do ? Staying at home himself in supplication ; he sent his good servant, Martha, to borrow 5s. of a shop-keeper, and therewith buy some cheese, bread, and other ordinary necessaries. On the good shop-keeper casting eye on the aforesaid Martha, he exclaimed that he had just received five guineas from a friend to give to Mr. Heywood, and was considering how to send the gift. Good Oliver believed in such tokens of Divine interposition, and well he might, as the Lord not seldom softened the hearts of the richer friends of the poor suffering ministers to come to their assistance.

Another Act, called the “Five Mile Act," was passed in March, 1666, which prohibited the ejected clergy coming within five miles of the churches where they formerly preached, and also prevented their coming within five miles of any city, town corporation, or borough. But there was a certain compensation afforded by these severe restrictions, inasmuch as many of these persecuted and hunted ministers found quiet and safe asylums in the villages and hamlets that did not answer to the position of the prohibited places.

Mr. Hey wood, after six years' widowhood, married (1667) Abigail (d. 1707), daughter of James Crompton, of Breighemet, who proved a prudent, faithful, and affectionate wife to him, and a tender mother to his sons. He continued preaching at various places in Lancashire and Yorkshire, at times experiencing very near instances of capture and imprisonment. Every Black Bartholomew's Day, 24th August, the ejected clergy were accustomed to commemorate the date, which they called the “ killing day of all Nonconformist ministers, when they were struck dead by the Act of Uniformity,” by a fast of great solemnity. In the year 1671, Mr. Heywood kept the fast with his family. He says, “ the forenoon we spent in prayer. Eliezer (only fourteen years of age) prayed first, very sensibly, though short. John (only 16 years of age) -Rotherham's after minister--prayed a long time, and exceeding pertinently and affectionately, weeping much. I wondered at it. God helped our maid, my wife, and myself wonderfully. O, what a melting day was it! In the afternoon I prayed and preached to a considerable number of people. Blessed be God for this day ; He will hear."


For five years Mr. Heywood stayed at Coley Hall, going forth thence on frequent excursions to encourage and comfort by his prayers and exhortations the faithful, scattered over the Yorkshire and Lancashire districts. Large numbers often gathered in secret, and not seldom by night, to receive the word of life from this Nonconformist apostle. “The Act of Parliament saith five shall not meet. God saith five score shall meet to worship Him in private.” That is the recorded determination of this fearless messenger of the Gospel.

Charles II., ten years after the passing of the Act of Uniformity, decided to suspend the execution of the laws that had been passed against the Nonconformists, though it was suspected this clemency was chiefly dictated by his own and his brother James's secret favor towards the Roman Catholics. Liberty was now granted to Nonconformists to preach in public places. Among the eighteen ministers who assembled at Manchester and decided to avail themselves of this freedom was Mr. Heywood. He was fortunate at this time to possess himself by purchase of a dwelling-house at Northowram, where he lived at the time when his two sons were born. Here he held regular services, and now large numbers attended on his ministry without any fear of the informers and soldiers. True to his conception of a settled church he instituted in regular order the administration of the Lord's Supper, the performance of Baptism, and the exercise of primitive Christian discipline. A Christian society was thus formed in the Covenent of the Lord, every member making the following declaration :-"I do heartily take this one God for my only God and my chief good ; and this Jesus Christ for my only Lord, Redeemer, and Saviour ; and this Holy Spirit for my sanctifier ; and the doctrine revealed by Jesus Christ and sealed by His miracles and now contained in the Holy Scriptures, I take for the law of God and the rule of my faith and life,” &c. This Christian Church was formed on Presbyterian principles, though a number of the Congregational persuasion did unite with it in the ordinances. The theological faith of these early Presbyterians and Independents may be represented by what Oliver Heywood confesses of his own belief :—“The eternal God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, one God, three persons, whom I have chosen as my chiefest good and utmost end.” Of this true apostle's missionary zeal the following illustrations may be selected out of pages upon pages of similar itinerary record :

“On Wednesday night, 22nd August, 1666, I went from home (after my preaching there) two or three miles from home in the night, and preacht there the next day, then travelled to Bramley (about 4 miles N.W. from Leeds), where I preacht at night to a large auditory, the next day I travelled a little ways with good Mr. Wales (ejected from Pudsey, highly esteemed by Lord Thomas Fairfax), who is also banished from home, and is now gone into the North with his wife. The same day I travelled to Wakefield, and the day after I preacht at Mr. Kirby's to a company who kept a fast ; and after that travelled to Peniston, and there preacht twice upon the Lord's Day, being 26, and had a large auditory and sweet enlargements. On the munday I travelled with W. Richardson [ejected from Kirk-Heaton, in Yorkshire, much followed), and Mr. Swift [imprisoned for his Nonconformity three times in York Castle] to Rotherham to visit Mr. Cleton [Clayton] thursday to Sheffield to see Mr. Burbeck (silenced at Ackworth, afterwards preached in his own house at Sheffield, styled by Dr. Walker “a stiff-rump'd Presbyterian ''], and was all night with precious Mr. Hancock [first ejected from Ecclesfield, afterwards lived and preached at Shertliff Hall, near Sheffield], in Bradford parish. On Wednesday I visited Mr. Cotes' family, at Wath, thence on thursday to Mr. Wortsworths, at Swath-hal, thence on friday to Cothurn, where I preac that evening to a considerable company, and though the constable was visiting houses that night upon speciall occasion in that town, yet the Ld kept him from the house where we were. On Saturday morning I travelled with Mr. Handen (though blind the last eight or nine years of his life, he still had frequent meetings at his own house at Wakefield) into Lancashire, and he and I preached with my father Angier at Denton on lord's day."

Of the year 1666 he writes : On Lord's day, Aug. 29, I preacht at Little Horton, in widow Rhodes' house. There was a great assembly ; God helped.” It was on this occasion that zealous Oliver on his way home, leaving a hospitable roof after dinner, found himself, it being the depth of winter, lost in mist and snow on Emley Moor, and had to seek refuge in a neighbouring hall. On another occasion, when on his riding to Lydgate, he got entangled in a descending wood, and had to tramp a foot deep in snow, his faithful horse following at his heels. As his host, Mr. Armitage, of Lydgate, told him, it was a wonder he did not sink and get buried in one of the deep holes of that “Sinking Wood.”

It may be here mentioned that when Mr. Heywood's two sons had reached about 16 or 17 years of age, having been carefully trained at home, they were sent to Mr. Frankland's Dissenting Academy, in Westmoreland. Mr. Frankland, of whom more will be stated hereafter, is considered the first

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