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OLD JEWRY.-English Presbyterian.
Besides the important undertaking just mentioned, Dr. Rees has presented the public with several single sermons, preached chiefly upon public occasions. These are, 1. For the benefit of the Gravel-lane Charity-school ; preached at St. Thomas's, Jan. 1, 1770. 2. To the society that support the Lord's-day evening lecture at Salters’-Hall : preached in that place Nov. 5, 1779. 5. A second sermon for the benefit of the Gravel-lane Charity-school; preached at St. Thomas's, Jan. 1, 1787. 4. To the supporters of a new academical institution among Protestant Dissenters; at the Old Jewry, April 30, 1788. 5. At the ordination of the Rev. William Gellibrand : at Ringwood, Hants, July 16, 1788. 6. Two sermons at Cambridge, June 27, 1790, on occasion of the death of the late Rev. Robert Robinson. 7. A funeral sermon for the Rev. Roger Flexman, D. D. preached at the Old Jewry, June 28, 1795.
During the present year (1809) Dr. Rees has favoured the public with two volumes of practical sermons, transcribed from his shorthand notes, being the result of his ministerial labours. They are fifty in number, are introduced by a modest preface, and dedicated to the people of his charge, to whose partiality the public is indebted for their appearance.
To the second volume is subjoined an Address, delivered September 5, 1808, (being Bartholomew-day, 0. S.) on occasion of laying the first stone of the new meeting-house, erected for the congregation at the Old Jewry, in Jewin-street.
OLEMAN-STREET, which gives name to one of the city wards, runs from the Old Jewry south to Fore-street north. Under this article, the reader is not to expect a connected series, or regular history of one church ; but some broken fragments relating to several. These we shall separate as well as we are able ; but have adopted the above general superscription that we might have an opportunity of introducing some persons and circumstances which could not otherwise be designated with accuracy. As the times to which we shall carry back the reader's attention, refer to an early period in the history of Nonconformity, and the churches that will be introduced to his notice, subsisted amongst the most odious, as well as the most persecuted of the sects into which they were divided, he is not to look for that regular and uninterrupted chain of events, nor for that clearness and consistency of narration, which might be expected under happier circumstances. A state of persecution, though favourable in many respects to the interests of religion, is, nevertheless, generally injurious to the reputation of the persecuted, whose characters are usually transmitted to us through the suspicious medium of their adversaries. When this is the case, the candid will always make some allowance. It is the fate of all new.sects to be viewed by the predominant party, with an eye of jealousy and hatred. These are succeeded by oppression. The numerous sects that abounded in the reign of Charles the First, and during the inter-regnum, exhibit on the part of the ecclesiastical rulers of those times, a system of intolerance that is highly disgraceful to the Christian name. As a cloak for
this, they have loaded them with the most obnoxious errors, and the blackest crimes. These we know, in many cases, to be absolute falsehoods; and in others, when divested of their colouring, they will appear perfectly innocent. And here, we would not be thought to apologize for those ebullitions of intemperance which frequently characterize a rising sect, especially when goaded by persecution, and which were exhibited by many individuals at this period. These shall be spoken of with the censure they deserve. But as some of the facts we are about to mention, come to us through the suspicious channel of partial and bigotted writers, it is necessary that the accounts which they give should be received with the above allowance. It is greatly to be lamented that the different sects of that period have not recorded their own history ; as in that case, by a comparison with the accounts of their adversaries, we should be able to arrive with greater certainty at the exact truth. If the churches we are about to mention made any minute of their proceedings, they have been destroyed by the casualties of time, and we must now rest contented with the mere shreds of history.
In order to reduce the miscellaneous matter that presses itself upon our consideration into some regular shape, we shall briefly advert to the several societies that are to form the subject of the present article. The famous Mr. John Goodwin, after he was deprived of the living of Colemanstreet, is said to have kept a private conventicle in the same parish. The precise spot where it was situated, cannot now be precisely ascertained; but he is supposed to have continued preaching in it till the time of his death. Venner, the fifth-monarchy man, who suffered death for raising a rebellion soon after the Restoration, had a meeting-house in Swap-alley. The Baptists, also, at the period of which 'we are writing, appear to have been very numerous in this neighbourhood, where they had several meeting-houses. That in Bell-alley, where a Mr. Lamb was pastor, was
MR. GOODWIN'S MEETING, COLEMAN-STREET.
very conspicuous at this time, and is frequently referred to by Edwards, in his Gangræna." Crosby speaks of a baptized congregation in the Old Jewry, of which Mr. Jeremiah Ives was pastor; and of another in Lothbury, under the care of Mr. Thomas Lamb, and Mr. John Allen, who both conformed at the Restoration. In the reign of Charles the Second, a Presbyterian congregation, was formed at Armourers'-Hall, in Coleman-street, under the ministry of the Rev. Richard Steele, one of the Bartholomew confessors. It subsisted about forty years; and as we have some authentic information concerning its pastors, it will form a separate article, and shall be noticed the next in succession. Concerning the other persons and societies, we shall proceed to notice them in the order above described, beginning with Mr. John Goodwin.
MR. JOHN GOODWIN'S PRIVATE MEETING, IN
John Goodwin, a learned English Divine, and acute defender of Arminianism in the seventeenth century, was a man, says Mr. Granger, “ who made more noise in the world than any other person of his age, rank, and profession.” On this account, it is not a little surprising that no person has undertaken to record the memorials of his life; for the few particulars mentioned by Calamy scarcely amount to that title. It has been the misfortune of Mr. Goodwin to have his name transmitted chiefly through the medium of his enemies, who have darkened it by reproach, and laboured to render it odious to posterity. In the subsequent narrative, which is designed to supply the deficiencies, and correct the misrepresentations of former writers, we shall endeavour to separate matters of fact from the rubbish that surrounds them, and divesting ourselves of prejudice, exhibit a
MR. GOODWIN'S MEETING, COLEMAN-STREET.
portraiture that shall be a greater likeness of the original. This celebrated person was born in the year 1593, but at what place we are no where informed. His academical education he received at Queen's College, Cambridge, where he soon became known by his learning and talents, and for being a smart disputant. Upon his leaving the college he was admitted into orders, and became much admired for the erudition and elegance which distinguished his pulpit compositions.
After preaching some time in the country, Mr. Goodwin removed to London in the year 1632, and on the 18th of December, 1633, was presented to the vicarage of St. Stephen, Colenian-street. He had not been settled long in this living, before he was called to endure a portion of those troubles which awaited such as could not satisfy themselves with a rigorous conformity. At this time Archbishop Laud tyrannized over the English church, and ruled the King's subjects with a rod of iron. As an effect of this, many pious and useful ministers, who could not digest all the superstitious observances which he chose to introduce, were admonished, suspended, or deprived of their livings. In his Grace's account of the state of his province, after his metropolitical visitation, in the summer of 1637, among other ministers who had been convened for breach of canons, we find the name of “ Mr. John Goodwin, vicar of Colemanstreet," who is said to have submitted. *
In the year 1640, the King having allowed the convocation to continue its sittings after the dissolution of parliament, the clergy were busily occupied upon two subjects of considerable magnitude, and which were productive of important consequences. One of these was to grant the King a subsidy for six years, in order to supply the exigency of his affairs, by a tax of four shillings in the pound upon the estates of the clergy. Upon the illegality of this measure, it
Ncal's Puritans, vol. ii. p. 263.