‘Sermons of the Great Ejection’ – A Review by David Campbell
A review by David Campbell of Sermons of the Great Ejection.1
This collection is a revised and reset edition of the 1962 publication which marked the tercentenary of the Great Ejection in August l662. It consists of sermons, memorials, and brief biographies of seven English non-conformists first published in 1662 as An Exact Collection of Farewell Sermons preached by late London Ministers and in 1663 as England’s Remembrancer. The seven ministers include the well-known names of Edmund Calamy (senior), Thomas Brooks, and Thomas Watson. The other four names will not be so well known – John Collins, Thomas Lye, John Oldfield and John Whitlock.
The sermons are fairly short and have the added and special interest of being the last preached by these worthy divines before their ejection from their pulpits. The ejection was on account of the Act of Uniformity passed by the English Parliament in 1661. This Act demanded unfeigned consent to the Prayer Book, abjured and condemned Presbyterianism, replacing it with a semi-popish system of Episcopacy and demanded renunciation of the Solemn League and Covenant. A similar Act rescinding the second Reformation Acts was passed the same year in Scotland by what became known as ‘Middleton’s Drunken Parliament’. In England, as in Scotland, a date was set – 24 August 1662 – for conformity to the Act, and the result was that about 2000 faithful ministers refused conformity and were ejected.
The sermons are of a very high standard, such as readers of the Puritans will be acquainted with. The application to our own day of much that is written will not be missed by discerning readers. Of particular note are those by Edmund Calamy on ‘Eli trembling for the Ark of God’, (1 Sam. 4:13), John Oldfield on ‘Stumbling at the Sufferings of the Godly’ from Psalm 69:6 and a very useful and searching discourse by Thomas Lye entitled ‘Stand Fast in the Lord’, from Philippians 4:1. Each sermon is introduced by a short biographical note about the preacher, and several include the prayer offered at the time of the sermon’s delivery. There are powerful passages when application is made, such as this warning against worldliness and the danger of temptation:
You that are husbands and parents know it. The world is a great temptation, but if we are overcome by the world, and the world is not overcome by us, we shall never be able to overcome any one temptation that is offered to us . . . Do not go and run and venture yourself into temptations. You have heard of a superstitious or idolatrous worship; you are curious to see this. What if, when you are found in Satan’s way, Satan should lay a paw on you and claim you? What do you there in Satan’s ground? Would you be found, when you come to die, in a playhouse? Or in a place where the true God is idolatrously worshipped? (pp. 118, 120).
One significant fault which we must identify in this book is the inclusion of false teaching in the Catechism appended to the sermons. The Non-conformist’s Catechism by Samuel Palmer was first published in 1772 and the present edition of it is the result of several revisions. While much of the material is useful as a critique of the Church of England, this Catechism contains teaching at variance with The Westminster Confession concerning both the nature of the church and the Establishment Principle. The importance of these doctrines (erroneously handled in Questions 7 and 8) means that we must sound this note of caution to readers.
A review by David Campbell of Sermons of the Great Ejection.1 This collection is a revised and reset edition of the 1962 publication which marked the tercentenary of the Great Ejection in August l662. It consists of sermons, memorials, and brief biographies of seven English non-conformists first published in 1662 as An Exact Collection of […]
Taken with permission from the Free Presbyterian Magazine, August 2015.
Living in the World 6 November 2020
This article is the contents of an address first given in February 2020 at the Westminster Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Newcastle, UK. * * * LIVING in the world. How are Christians to live in the world? The question can be answered in many ways. The topic is potentially vast in scope — that becomes more […]
When coming to consider plagues throughout history and some Christian responses, it is appropriate to begin with this extract from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer: O Almighty God, who in thy wrath did send a plague upon thine own people in the wilderness, for their obstinate rebellion against Moses and Aaron; and also, in […]