Baxter - BX5207 B3 A2 1696

PART I. Reverend Mr. RichardBaxter. i § 17.Til1 this time I was fatisfied in theMatter of Conformity:Whilft I was young I had never been acquainted with any that were againft it, or that queftioned it. I had joyned with theCommon-Prayer withas hearty fervency as afterward I did with other Prayers! As long as I had no Prejudice againft it, I had no flop in my Devotions from any of its Imperfebtions. At lait at about 20 years of Age, I became acquainted with Mr. Simmonds, Mr. Cradock, andother very zealous godly Nonconformifts in Shrewsbury, and the-ad- joyningpares, whofe fervent Prayers and favoury Conference and holy Lives did profit me much. And when I underftood that they were People profecuted by the Bifhops, I found much prejudice arife inmy heart againft thofe that perfecuted them, and thought thofe that filenced and troubled fuch Men could not be the ge- nuine Followers of the Lordof Love. But yet I refolved that I would Rudy the Point, as well as I was able , before I would be confident on either fide : And it prejudiced me againft the Nonconfor- mitts, becaufè we hadbut one of them near us, ( one Mr. Barnet of Uppingron ) who, though he was a very honelt blamelefs Man, yet was reputed to be but a meanScholar ; when Mr. Garber, and fome other Conformifts, were more Learn- edMen_ And withal, the Books of the .Nonconformills were then fo fcarce, and hard tobe got ( becaufe of the danger ) that I couldnot come to know their rea- fons. Whereas òt the contrary fide, Mr. Garbet and Mr. Samuel Smith, did fend me Downbam, Sprint, Dr. Burge', and others of the ltrongeft that had wroteagainft the Nonconformifts ; upon the reading of which I could not fee but the Caufe of the Conformiftswas very jultifiable, and the reafoning of the Nonconformifts weak. Hereupon when I thought of Ordination, I had no Scruple at all againft Sub- fcription : And yet fo precipitant and rafh was I, that I had never onceread over the Bookof Ordination, which was one to which I was toSubfcribe ;nor halfread over theBookof Homilies, nor exactly weighed the Book of Common-Prayer,nor was I of fufficieat Underltanding to determineconfidently in fome Controverted Pointsin the ;9 Articles. But my Teachers and my Books having cafed me in general to think the Conformifts had the better Caufe , I kept out all particular Scruples by that Opinion. 1 18. At that time old Mr. Richard Foley of Stourbridge in Worceflerfhire, had re- covered fome alienated Lands at Dudley, which had beenleft to Charitable Ufes, and added fomethingof his own, and built a convenient new School-Houfe, and was to choofe his firft School-Mager and Ulher : By the means of fames Berry (who lived in the Houfe with me, and had lived with him) he defired me to ac- cept it. I thought it not an inconvenient Condition for my Entrance, becaufe I might alto Preach up and down in Places that were molt ignorant, before I pre- fumed to take a Paftoral Charge (towhich I had no inclination). So to Dudley I went, and Mr. Foley and fames Berry going with me to Wordelter , at the Time of Ordination, I was Ordained by the Bithop, and had a Licence to teachSchool ; for which (beingExamined) I Subfcribed. 4' t9. Being fettled (with an Whet) in the new School at Dudley, and living in the Houfe of Mr. Ricbard Foley Junior, I there preached my firft Publick Sermon in the upper Parifh Church ; and afterwards Preached in theVillages about; and there had occafion to fall afrelh upon the Rudy of Conformity : For there were many private Chriftians thereabouts that were Nonconformifts, and one in the Houfe with me. And that excellentMan, Mr. William Fenner, had lately lived two miles off at Sedgeley, who by defending Conformity, and honouring it by a wonderfully, powerful and fùccefsful way ofPreaching, Conference, and holy Li- ving, had flirted up the Nonconformilts the more to a vehement pleading oftheir Caufe: And though they were there generally godly honei People, yet fmartly cenforious, and made Conformity noSnail fault : And They lent me Manufcripts and Books which I never rawbefore; whereupon I thought it my Duty to let up- on a ferious impartial Trial of the whole Caufe. The Caufe of Epifcopacy BithopDownbamhad much fatisfied me in before ; and I had not then a fufficient Underftanding of the difference betwixt the Argu- ments for an Epifcopacy in general, and for our Englifh Diocefans in particular. TheCaufe of Kneeling at the Sacrament I ftùdied next : and Mr. Paybody fully fatisfied me for Conformity in that. I turned over Cartwrightand Wbirgifr , and others ; but having latelyprocured Dr. Ames fief!' fuit, I thought it my belt way to flatly throughly Dr. Burgas (his Father-in-law) and him, as the likelieft means to avoid diltrathion among a multitude of Writers, and not ro lofe the Truth-in crowds 3