“PERSECUTED, BUT NOT FORSAKEN”
The Act of Uniformity of 1662 is a famous landmark in English history but often the deeply distressing and humiliating circumstances of our non-conformist ancestors are forgotten or insufficiently known Â— “Some died broken-hearted; some left the country; some became physicians; others, famous once, became private tutors, and were heard of in the world no more. Many, with their families, had to exchange a life of refinement and competency for a life on the verge of starvation, gentlemen and scholars as they were. Many had to adopt the calling of farm-servants or artisans. Let one instance be accepted as a specimen. The lady of a country squire was dangerously ill. The clergyman was sent for, but returned word that ‘he was going out with the hounds, and would come when the hunt was over.’ ‘Sir,’ said one of the servants to the afflicted husband, ‘our shepherd, if you will send for him, can pray very well; we have often heard him pray in the field.’ The shepherd was immediately summoned to the side of the sufferer, and prayed with such astonishing pertinency and fervour, that when he rose from his knees, the gentleman said to him, ‘I conjure you to inform me who and what you are, and what were your views and situation in life before you came into my service?’ Upon which he told him ‘that he was one of the ministers ejected from the church, and that having nothing of his own left, he was content for a livelihood to submit to the honest and peaceful employment of keeping sheep.’ The good man* was an Oxford Master of Arts, in better days a noted Hebrew Scholar much revered by his brethren for his varied excellencies of mind and life. One of his beautiful letters seems to show that we owe to his suggestion Richard Baxter’s valuable autobiography.”
Extracted from Charles Stanford’s biography of Joseph Alleine.
*Peter Ince of Brazenose College.