Page images

by frequent conference with a pious minister, it pleased God to recover him to a full composure, and he died with good hope through grace of eternal life.

Mr. John GAY* He had not preached when the Uni. formity-act took place. He left the university because he could not submit to the terms iinposed. He lived afterwards at Barnstaple in Devonshire, and was useful there.

Mr. JOHN CUDMORE. He was an intimate friend of Mr. Gay, and left the university at the same time, not being satisked with the declarations and subscriptions required in or. der to take his degree. He was of a good family, and was brother to Daniel Cudmore, Esq. of Loxbeare; a singular scholar, and an eminently holy man; content with a small estate, and a small congregation in Chumleigh, where he settled in 1694, succeeding Mr. Thomas Hart. In the lat. ter part of his time he was crippled with the gout, and died in Oct. 1706. In his last sickness he said to a minister who was with him, " Nonconformity is the right; continue in it.'' A son of his was in the

ministry among the Dissenters somewhere in the West of England.

JOHN CONANT, D. D. He was Rector of Exeter College at the time when the Uniformity-act passed, and he left his place on account of it. Of this learned and excellent person some memoirs are contained in Prince's Worthies of Devon, he being a native of that county. We are there informed that “ He greatly distinguished himself while hę was a student in the university, insomuch that the learned Rector, Dr. Prideaux, applauded him by the following witticism upon his mame: Conanti nihil difficilet." It appears from some original papers f, dated in the year 1640, that he had been some years Rector of Limington, in the diocese of Dr. Pierce, bishop of Bath and Wells ; from whom, for want of strict conformity, and on account of some zealous exertions in his ministerial work, he met with much opposition.—He was puritanical in his principles, and afterwards became a member of the Westminster Assembly, and one of the Commissioners at the Savoy; but when he took

This name and the next are transposed from Devonshire, to" To him that endeavours nothing is difficult."

| These papers, now in the Editor's possession, are in Dr. Conant's own hand-writing. They were communicated by the Rev. Dr. FURNEAUX. As they are curious and interesting, a copy of them shall be given at the end of this article.

the Engagement to the Commonwealth, he did it with such caution as shewed him to be not very warmly attached to that government.

The words of the Engagement were, “ You shall promise to be true and faithful to the Common“ wealth, as it is now established, without King or House “ of Lords.” When he appeared before the Commissioners he made a Declaration in these words—“Being required to subscribe, I humbly premise 1. That I be not hereby understood to approve of what hath been done, in order untọ or under this present government, or the government itself; nor will I be thought hereby to condemn it; they being things above my reach, and I not knowing the grounds of the proceedings. 2. That I do not bind myself to do any thing.contrary to the word of God. 3. That 'I do not hereby bind myself, but that if God shall remarkably call me to submit to any other power, I may be at liberty to obey that call, notwithstanding the present engagement.--In this sense, and in this sense only, I do promise to be true and faithful to the present government, as it is now established, without King or House of Lords."

John Conant. After he had been a Nonconformist about seven years, he conformed, and became vicar of All Saints in Northampton. This may be thought an objection to his being placed on our

list, But as he had continued with the Nonconformists so - long, he may be fairly numbered among the ejected ministers,

especially as in his temper and strain of preaching he was (aś Dr. Calamy observes,) so much like the rest of his brethren, that both by those that were in the church, and those that were out of it, he was generally ranked with the Presbyterians all his days.

Mr. Prince, in the memoirs of his Life, seems to be at a loss to account for his Nonconformity. But all things considered, it is inore surprising that he should ever have been induced to conforın. Probably he might subscribe the articles, &c. of the church on the same principles that he took the Engagement to the Commonwealth; and in the same manner, if admitted, any one might subscribe almost anything else.

Something of his spirit and temper, as well as of his history, and the difficulties he met with in his ministerial labours, may be gathered from the following papers. 28. I. The testimony of John Conant, Rector of Limington,

within the diocese of Bath and Wells, Jan. 1640. ..5" Having continued in myne own parish church a Lecture for the space of 10 or 11 years, viz from A. D. 1622 until

A: D

my selfe.

A. D. 1633, first once every fortnight, and afterwards weekly without any considerable intermission, without any prohibition or the least discouragement from Bp Lakes and his successors, until Bp Pierce his coming into this Diocesse, & after his the sayd Bp Pierce his coming to Wells, I being told that he was an adversary to Lectures that a storm was coming, and having heard that some more publick Lectures were already suppressed, I thought it a meete and inoffensive way to repayre unto the sayd Bishop and to crave his leave and liking for the continuance of my Lecture wch accordingly I did, taking with me a grave and orthodox Minister of myne ancient acqvaintance, viz. Mr. John Vivian then Vicar of Banwell that he might if neede required give testimony unto such passages as should intercede betweene the Byshop &

But the Bp taking me into an inner roome beckened unto the said Mr. Vivian (as he himself told me) signifying that he should stay behind, notwithstanding wchI yet earnestly and humbly intreated the said Bp Pierce to afford me his approbation and incouragement in my said Lecture, alledging to this purpose that I was Batchelor in Divinity, & a preacher licenced by the university, also that the Lecture was within myne own parish, & upon a day appointed for Common Prayer by our church, and that I was wil. ling to imploy the tyme and talent wch God had vouchsafed me for the benefitt and instruction of my people, who much needed the same. Yet the sayd Bp utterly denied me any such leave or approbation, telling me that such as came to my Church on Wednesdays should heare the Litany and so be gone, withal requiring me once & againe not to proceed any once more in my said Lecture or Exposition, (wch he called preaching) on Wednesdays, as I would answer the contrary. And when I humbly desired to understand the reason why he should so strictly prohibit me beyond some others, who as then continued their wonted weekly preaching in their own churches, &'within the same Diocesse without


such restraint, alledging no reason for his so doing, he answered, That it was in his power to inhibit or to licence whom he would, tho' within their owne cures, to preach any such weekly Lecture within his diocesse, & therewith promised me as a pretended favour that if any else within his said Diocesse did continue any such Lecture I should eninlike liberty: but added withall, That his puram permit any. That this was the summ

juý the


puse was not to of my suite unto Bp



Pierce now Ld Bp of this Diocesse, & of his Lordship's answer returned me, or in words to this effect, I can & by these presents doe truly testify, and shall be ready by oath, if called upon to confirm the same.”

John Conant. No. 2. “ Another Testimony of the said John Conant ....

May 4. 1640."
[Written after his Lecture was discontinued.]

Being demanded whence it came that I discontinued my Wednesday's Exposition,--my answer is this"-{He then repeats the substance of the former narrative of his interview with the Bishop, and adds] “ He told me that it was not in my power to make holy days : that by preaching on Wednesdays I drew men from their callings &c." The following Memorandum is subjoined. “ March 16. 1640. I meeting Mr. Ford at Sherb. (probably Sherborn] he intimated that the Bishop had employed Dr. Duck to dissuade me from my Lecture, and again confessed, what he had formerly told me, that the Bishop asked him whether I surceased my lecture. He answering that he thought yea; But what, said he, if I should go on with my Lecture! The Bishop answered, That he would suspend me. Mr. Ford replied, What if Mr. Conant do appeal? He answered, That he knew the archbishop's minde well enough already.".

No. 3. (No title or date.) “Our said Bishop Pierce, BR of Bath and Wells having publickly given charge that in catechising our children and servants, no other question should be asked or Answers given than such as in express

words are mentioned in the Catechism contained in the Book of Common Prayer (for transgressing of which charge he enjoined an ancient and painful minister of his diocese open Penance in the public congregation) I did, Octob. 10. 1633 (the time before mentioned) intreat his Lordship that I might enjoy that liberty which formerly we had, for asking some other Questions & receiving some other answers, tending to the plainer unfolding and understanding of those which are expressed in the Catechism in the Book of Common-prayer. This liberty he denying, I replied, that I could not then know whether or not such children

and youth understood themselves or me, & so whether they any whít profited in knowledge of no. He telling me that I might privately send for them to my house & there exañine them, I demanded what course I might take to bring them thither, & what I should do if they refused so to come thereto, he answered, That in case they refused, he could not help me and thus we having no liberty to examine our younger people publickly, nor authority to deal with them privately, multitudes will by this means live and die in ignorance, and we know not how to prevent or redress the same."


John Conant. No. 4. [Another paper, dated Decemb. 31. 1640, contains the substance of the preceding, with this addition) “ Also he publicly enjoined that until the Communion Table were turned North and South, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper should not be there administered.” [With respect to this prelate's zeal about the right position

of the Communion-table, there is another curious Testimonial, written in a different hand, not easy to be read, with the names of two persons subjoined, who most pro. bably were the Church-wardens. As it may be amusing to some readers, we shall give them an exact copy of it.]

No. 5. “ Wee whose names are here under written doe testifie that wee being ordered by Byshop Pierce Byshop of Bath and Wells to sett our Communion Table north and south at the East end of the chancell, and being afterwards called to Wells to give an account what wee had done, wee answering that we had not done it, in regard wee were informed that the minister was bound to stand at the north side of the Table when he ministred the communion, wch he could not do if the Table were so turned: the Byp replyed that the Table had fower sides, though two longer and two shorter, so as the minister might stand at the north side though one of the shortest sides. Wee further demanding how wee should be discharged if we so turned the Table as his Lordship re. quired, he answered that his command was sufficient for us. In testimony hereof that this was the Bishop's answer, or to this purpose, we have hereunto subscribed our names.”

Joh. Andrewes,

Nicolas Parsons. WORKS. It doth not appear that Dr. Conant published any thing till he was laid aside from preaching and was blind, when he wished some of his sermons to be printed, and employed Dr. Williams, afterwards Bp. of Chichester, to be the editor, who published five volumes 8vo. He himself pre. fixed the following address" To the inhabitants of Northampton, and more especially to those of the parish of All Saints there :-Christian friends and neighbours. Though my great age, and the infirmities attending it, have lately


« PreviousContinue »