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Bible--in their hands for nearly two hundred years,

and even if only partially understood, the Bible regenerates all who read it, teaching them something of their heritage as the blessed children of God. The Socialist peasants of Richard the Third's reign had developed into the sturdy independent yeomen farmers and self-supporting tradesmen of ever increasing towns and boroughs. They were thinking men; men who were ready to shake free from the shackles of autocracy and ecclesiasticism, and Conscience sounded through the length and breadth of the land with the voice of a trumpet.

We learn from an old journal the names of those men who joined Cromwell's Ironsides at the siege of Lynn in Norfolk. It is well worth while quoting a few typical ones (the list is long) in order to learn what manner of men they were. We read of Caleb Cornish, Zachary Elsegood, Saul Fyncham, Aaron Fenn, Isaiah Hunt, Aminadab Kett, Hezekiah Mayhew, Ahimelech Price, Selah Rose, Manna Reeve, Israel Toll, Gabriel Willemons, Cornelius Ypres, Shem Quarles, and so on. There is hardly a name that is not taken from the Bible, and most of them from the Old Testament. Surely such an army of God's Covenant men had never gathered with so stern a purpose since the far-off days when the Reubenites, Gadites and Mananites revolted against Temember in Media, and in this age, they could no longer be the conquered ones, for what material weapons could stand against such a force! It was bound to create a physical and moral revolution and to fight with unflinching, unyielding resolve until freedom was a fully accomplished fact. The pronouncements of the prophet Jeremiah were being woven into the tapestry of history:

"Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the Lord of Hosts is His name.

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“Thou art my battle ax and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms."

Oliver Cromwell writes to the Speaker of the House of Commons after the victory of Naseby:

... Honest men served you faithfully in this action. Sir, they are trusty; I beseech you, in the name of God, not to discourage them. I wish this action may beget thankfulness and humility in all that are concerned in it. He that ventures his life for the liberty of his country, I wish he trust God for the liberty of his conscience, and you for the liberty he fights for."

Even in those early days there were signs of each new Protestant sect disapproving of all and sundry who did not exactly agree with their own particular doctrine. The great General alone seemed to match his mighty zeal with an equally mighty tolerance.

“Never were the spirits of men more embittered than now” he writes to General Fairfax in March 1646. “Surely the Devil hath but a short time. Sir, it's good the heart be fixed against all this. The naked simplicity of Christ with that wisdom He is pleased to give, and patience, will overcome all this.”

It may not be generally known that Cromwell, through his mother Elizabeth Steward, was descended from the Royal Stuart family of Scotland, and therefore from the Royal house of David. There is some analogy between those first days of Civil war in England and David's early military campaigns, such as the occasion when he gathered together his first army in the cave Adullam. The 22nd Chapter of I Samuel tells us that "every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and


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he became a Captain over them.” Cromwell's men were more discontented with the regimen of Charles I than ever David's troop was with Saul. Carlyle writes of them in this wise:

“Fact answers, if you see into Fact. Cromwell's Ironsides were the embodiment of this insight of his; men fearing God, and without any other fear. No more conclusively genuine set of fighters ever trod the soil of England, or of any other land.”

Yet through the rattle and sting of musketry and the lumbering boom of cannon, sounds ever the murmurous hum of the spinning-wheel. Woman does not lose her place in the national pageant. Elizabeth Claypole (Cromwell's daughter) spreads out the ample dimensions of her quilt and plies her needle in the intricate art of its embroidery; Lady Alice Egerton delights an audience at Ludlow Castle with her dramatic display in Comus; Lady Margaret Ley (“honoured Margaret”) is able to converse with scholars and poets, and be regarded as “a woman of excellent wit and understanding;” while Mistress Mary Milton rises above feminine fears and timidity to the point of voluntarily escaping from a marriage which ill-assortment of choice had rendered miserable.

Woman had been born again; she had become a thinking, reasoning creature, a political power in the home, a religious rebellion in the nation. To be sure she did not dare assert her authority in too flagrant terms. Her lords and masters were doubtless blind to the full extent of her influence, but her presence is felt in the religious struggle of the Commonwealth as thyme is scented in a field, however much the grasses may conceal it from view. Whether bleaching linen in the orchard or brewing a posset in the buttery we feel her mind was as full of the legality of Ship

Money and of the Habeas Corpus Act as it was of her herbs, and that she could as well have retailed the contents of Master Baxter's sermon as she could of her storecupboard.

From this time onward religion acquires a new aspect, a substantiality and fulness, a rounded intensity that can only be accounted for by the recognition of woman's growing share in the experiences and experiments of the religious life. And, since Master Richard Baxter's name has already entered upon these pages we cannot do better than make him our earliest study, because in the first place he was born as far back in the reign of James I as 1615 and lived right on through the reign of Charles I and through the Commonwealth. He saw the restoration of the Monarchy and the reign of Charles II. He lived to see James II on the throne and also his ignominious flight from the country, and he saw William and Mary crowned in James' stead. A long pilgrimage this, stretching little short of twenty-three years between the reigns of two Queens as wide apart from one another as Elizabeth and Anne. A long pilgrimage, we repeat, for a keen sensitive soul like Richard Baxter, whose chief longing was to pass beyond the boundary of this world altogether and find his heavenly rest. We could not chose a Puritan writer of more varied experience, or one who more sincerely expounded the doctrine of Puritanism in its best essentials, free from the petty narrowness and blighting acrimony which alas! in so many instances dimmed the flame of Evangelical light with the soot of egotistic personal opinions.

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