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Rescued from Obscurity

By admin | November 14, 2008

Recently, I was able to obtain a copy of a book I have been seeking for years. Published in 1934 and authored by A.C. Matthews, it is titled Calamy Revised. It is a scholarly updating of Edmund Calamy’s Memorial of the nearly 2,000 puritan ministers ejected by Charles II in 1662. Calamy wrote prosaic accounts of these men; Matthews supplies an enormous amount of detail about their lives: birth & death, marriages, children, education as well as appearances in public records etc. It is an amazing wealth of information.

All of the familiar and famous men are represented; but it is even more fascinating to read of the obscure ministers–the average men who did not publish works that have been reprinted over the intervening centuries. While history tends to remember the ‘heroes’–the movers and shakers–it is really dominated (at least numerically) by the obscure, and their lives and service are worth noting. Matthews’ work provides a window into their lives. Matthews collected as much contemporary information as possible, often including anecdotes or comments unearthed from an amazing variety of sources. Here are a few samples:

Vincent Cupper, ejected from Paulerspury, Northants. (William Carey lived here a century later): ‘He was reckoned but a mean preacher, but was an honest good man.’

Thomas Ewins (or Ewens), Lecturer in Bristol, 1660 (Baptist!): ‘No scholar, and yet . . . a judicious methodical preacher. He was remarkable for having but one eye.’ A political opponent said ‘Ewens is the most dangerous Anabaptist that ever lived, and has seduced thousands by his seditious teaching.’

Thomas Forward (quite a name for a minister!), Vicar of Pitminster, Somerset: After his ejection ‘he had little to support himself and his large family . . . . It was observ’d that his religious Management of his family was attended with wonderful Success.’

William Hawden, Vicar of Brodsworth, Yorks.: ‘Usefull in promoting good, as praying conferring, not soe capable of preaching, being defective in his Sight, hath little but what friends Supply with.’

John Lomax, Vicar of Wooler, Northumberland: ‘Suffer’d much for his Nonconformity in the Reign of King Charles (II), and was miserably harrass’d.’

Daniel Shelmerdine, Vicar of Barrow on Trent with Twyford, Derbyshire: ‘Several times imprison’d and suffer’d much on the account of Nonconformity. . . . an aged ejected minister . . . preached by candlelight.’

Richard Thorpe, Rector of Barby, Northants.: In his will he left 40 shillings to purchase Bibles for poor families in Barby and wrote ‘I desire to dye in the true faith of Christ in the truth contained in the Scriptures and in the Religion of a right old English Puritan.’

Topics: Baptist History, Pastoral Ministry, Preaching, Puritanism, Puritans | Comments Off

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