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Luther was confined in the castle of Wartburg, which he was accustomed to denominate his Patmos, he composed several theological tracts, which displayed the energies of his powerful mind, and contributed greatly to confirm the resolution of those who had attached themselves to the cause of the Reformation--which also had a mighty influence in gaining adherents to this cause, as well as establishing those who not unfrequently wavered in their trying and precarious circumstances. But the most of his solitude he employed on a translation of the Scriptures into the language of his native country. This German version, the result of his confinement was of the highest importance. “The different parts of it,” says Mosheim,“ being successively and gradually spread abroad among the people, produced sudden and almost incredible effects, and extirpated root and branch, the erroneous principles and superstitious doctrines of the church of Rome, from the minds of a prodigious number of persons.' Bunyan is another extraordinary instance of successful toil, when prevented from discharging in a public manner the duties of the ministerial office. In a jail at Bedford, torn from the scenes of active life, cut off from all the ordinary intercourse of society, his whole library consisting of his Bible and Fox's Martyrology, he sketched the Progress of his Pilgrim, and even in this world procured for himself an immortal name.
Ingenious dreamer, in whose well told tale
The popular Author of Pilgrim's Progress, the venerable Oliver Heywood, and their contemporaries who embarked with them in the same cause, had their lot cast on evil times; but whilst enduring the most harassing treatment, and the most painful privations under the edicts of a faithless monarch, their days of trial and suffering did not pass unimproved. The consequence of their ejectment from their places of worship, and their condemnation to silence was, that during the period between the Restoration and the Revolution, a far greater number of religious books issued from the English press than had ever, in the same space of time, been published in any age or any country. Before that period, those authors who made a figure in the republic of letters through the whole of Europe, generally wrote and published in the Latin language ; but as the principal object of the Nonconformist writers was not to engage the attention of the learned merely, nor to challenge them to enter any arena of controversy either at home or abroad, and as they duly estimated the imperious claims of their fellowcountrymen at large, and especially the people to whose service they had dedicated themselves, and from the charge of whom they had been forcibly driven with unrelenting severity, the compositions which they prepared for the press were in their native language, and were chiefly intended either to promote the spiritual welfare of those who had believed through grace and possessed genuine piety, or to arrest the attention of such as were in danger of perishing for lack of knowledge, and lead them to a consideration of their eternal interests. Accordingly the age of our forefathers witnessed the publications of Owen and Baxter, Goodwin and Flavel, Howe and Charnock, Manton and Bates, and many others, whose names only would fill several pages of this Preface.
To ascertain what degree of moral influence, their productions had on the minds of those among whom they were first circulated, or on the generation that succeeded, would be difficult or rather it may be said impossible. There can, however, be no doubt but that they operated imperceptibly, and that the impressions they made were favourable to the interests of truth and morality. It is true that not many years after the Revolution, when the civil and religious liberties of Britain had been secured, religion could no longer boast of the pious zeal which distinguished her confessors of a former age: her stated ministers, generally speaking, began to have less and still less concern, for the spiritual and eternal interests of men; a frigid indifference at length seized possession of their minds, and then an awful stillness both within and without the pale of the established church, seems to have reigned over the population of the country. In these circumstances, however, a new description of Nonconformists appeared within the walls of the EstablishmentWhitfield and Wesley and others, broke loose from the prescribed routine of ecclesiastical office, and went out into the streets and lanes of our towns and cities, and into the high ways and hedges of our country, to publish the glad tidings of salvation to the people, who almost in every place crowded to attend on their extra-parochial ministry. But is there not reason to believe, that their hearers in numerous instances had experienced some peculiar excitement, which prompted them to listen to the doctrines advanced, and that their minds were in some measure prepared to receive cordially the message of the gospel ? When in the year 1755, Mr. Whitfield preached at Birstall to an assembly of fifteen thousand hearers, and at other places in the same district to similar multitudes, the fields may be said to have been white unto harvest-but had there been previously no tranquil cultivation ? had not the thorns and briars in many instances been eradicated ? had not the soil been insensibly imbibing the dews of heavenly truth? were not the seeds of religion sown here and there, according to our Lord's expression, in “honest and good hearts ?”* The circulation of our Author's works was probably local rather than general. As Bernard Gilpin was esteemed and justly designated the Apostle of the North, so Oliver Heywood may be denominated the Apostle of Yorkshire, on account of his unwearied labours in this populous and important division of the kingdom; for annually he travelled in every direction many hundreds of miles, and dispensed the word of life to a population but partially favoured with the means of grace. And whilst he was thus employed under the guidance of Providence, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord, t wherever he travelled he was welcomed, and hailed as a messenger of God. In such circumstances, * Luke vili. 15.
no wonder that his publications bearing the impress of his piety and zeal, were esteemed and read with pleasure ; and as a great book has been reckoned a great evil, the smallness of their size too would ensure for them a preference to the ponderous folio, among the generality of readers.
The Treatises of our Author published at different intervals during the course of forty years, are sixteen in number, and they no doubt had a considerable circulation ; for unless their publication had been sanctioned by the constant patronage of the friends of religion, it can scarcely be supposed that he would have continued to publish through such an extended period of his life. If we should suppose then, that each copy of his circulated Treatises found a few readers in a family, that they were read through the space of 50 or 100 years, and that only a portion of the many thousands of his readers experienced improvement of character from their perusal ; and if we should suppose also that every individual who had experienced some excitement of feeling from their moral influence, and had in consequence become in any respect a better man-should either directly or indirectly meliorate in some slight degree the moral circumstances of those with whom he was brought into contact in the common intercourse of society ; who on summing up these considerations could calculate the mighty effects of such publications as our Author's in a religious point of view ? and if from these premises an inference may be drawn that their circulation has already had an