Baxter - Houston-Packer Collection BX5200 .B352 1835 v1

LIFE OF RICHARD BAXTER. 181 instance of their kindness to myself. One Mr. Beale, in Hatton Garden,having a son, his only child, and very towardly and hope- ful, long sick of a dangerous fever, who had been brought so low that thephysicians thought he would die, desired a few friends, of whom I was one,. to meet at his house to pray for him. And be- cause it pleased God to hear our prayers, and that very night to restore him, his mother shortly after falling sick of a fever, we were desired to meet to pray for her recovery, the last day when she was near to death. Among those who were to be there, it fell out that Dr. Bates and I did fail them, and could not come ; but it was known at Westminster that we were appointed to be there, where- upon two justices of the peace were procured from the distant parts of the town, one fromWestminster and one fromClerkenwell, to come with the parliament's serjeant at arms to apprehend us. They came in the evening, when part of the company were gone. There were then only a few of their kindred, beside two or three ministers to pray. They came upon them into the room where the gentlewoman lay ready to die, drew thecurtains, and tooksome of their names; but, missing of their prey, returned disappointed. What a joy would it have been to themthat reproachedus as Pres- byterian, seditious schismatics, to have found but such an occasion as praying with a dying woman, to have laid us up in prison ! "* In the beginning of the following year; the talk of liberty to the silenced ministers began to be revived ; and it was much debated among them and their friends whether toleration as dissenters, or comprehension as a part of the establishment, were the more de- sirable scheme. But " instead of indulgence and comprehension," says Baxter, " on the last day of June, 1663, the bill against pri- vate meetings for religious exercises passed the house of commons, and shortly after was made a law. The sum of it was, ' that every person above sixteen years old, who is present at any meeting under color or pretence of any exercise of religion, in other manner than,is allowed by the liturgy or practice of the church of England, where there are five persons more than that household, shall, for the first offense, by a justice ofpeace, be recorded, and sent to jail three months, till he pay five pounds; and, for the second offense, six months, till he pay ten pounds;. and the third time, being con- victed by a jury, shall be banished to some of.the American plan- tations, excepting New England or Virginia.' The calamity of the act, beside the main matter, vas, 1. That it wasmade so ambiguous, that no man that ever I met with could tell what was aviolation of it, and what not; not knowing what was allowed by the liturgy or "Narrative, Part II. pp. 431, 432.