Images de page
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic]


Among the victims of religious persecution, few have been more conspicuous, or suffered with a purer or nobler mind, than the subject of the present memoir. His case is the more remarkable as belonging to a period, when the ignorance of barbarous times had retired before the opening day of truth and rational investigation, and as occurring in a country, where the protestant principles had already been made the foundation of the national church, and where it was the boast of the laws, that they protected the innocent, and secured the rights of conscience. An instance of persecution, even under circumstances like these, needs not be cited, it is true, to prove that fanaticism and bigotry heed not the voice of law, and are deaf to the eloquence of justice and reason; the history of the church is black with the records of this fact, so dishonourable to the christian name and character; yet there were incidents attending Mr Emlyn's case, which distinguished it from almost every other, and which, at the same time they illustrate the mischievous tendency of perverted sentiment and hardened feeling, when moved by a pretended zeal for religion, show with what resignation a truly pious mind can submit to the reproach of a malevolent accusation, and sacrifice every worldly advantage for the stern integrity of religious principle. In this respect the example of Emlyn is full of good instruction, as manifesting the power of a religious faith established on the grounds of a sincere conviction, and its ascendency in moral purity and strength over that, which looks for its support to traditionary smybols and the eonsent of the multitude.

Thomas Emlyn was born on the 27th of May, 1663, at Stamford in Lincolnshire. His father resided on a small estate in that place, which he held in his own possession, and to the management of which he was devoted. As Thomas was the only son, early and assiduous care was given to his education. At ten years of age he was sent from home, and placed at a boarding school under the charge of Mr Boheme of Walcot, with whom he continued four years.

While at this school he attended service on the sabbath at the established church. But although his parents regularly attended that church, and were then intimately acquainted with Dr Richard Cumberland, afterwards bishop of Peterborough, yet they had a leaning to the puritans, and resolved to prepare their son for fixing his destiny as a clergyman among the dissenters. Nor was it with a wish to force his

inclination, or bias his sentiments, that they thus early pointed out his course for life; it was rather in compliance with what they perceived to be the natural temper and tendency of his own mind. In the further prosecution of his studies he went to a private academy at Sulby in Northamptonshire. After residing at this place about twelve months, he made a journey to the university at Cambridge, where he was admitted into Emanuel college, at the age of sixteen. It does not appear, however, that he resided in Cambridge, for we immediately after find him again at Sulby, where he remained somewhat more than two years longer. With this institution he became dissatisfied, as not affording sufficient means of instruction to aid him in such studies as he wished to


and as being deficient in the books and literary resources essential to the attainments, which his inquiring and active mind prompted him to make. In this situation he did not long deliberate, but put himself under the charge of Mr Doolittle at Islington, and accompanied that gentleman next to Clapham, and last of all to Battersea, at which place his academical education and preparatory theological studies were completed.

He now enjoyed privileges before unknown to him, both in the society and conversation of learned men, and in a free access to all kinds of books. It had never been his good fortune to be under an accomplished teacher, and even at this time his worthy instructer was more eminent for his diligence and fidel

« PrécédentContinuer »