Oliver Heywood: Deliverance, 1669

Rev. Oliver Heywood continued to preach in houses, chapels and his own home even though the laws against nonconformist preachers in the 1660s were severe. Here are two diary accounts from 1669, in which the Lord mercifully delivered him from the power of constables and magistrates. I have kept his original grammar and spellings, except where they prove instrusive:

The day after May 22 1669 my wife and I went…to Will Thomsons near Headingley, where I was to preach, and there we had a remarkable providence, one Mathew Morrice, [the] constable observing many people goe [to hear me preach] went to Mr Wade a justice of peace, who refused to goe with him, but he prevailed with Mr Foxcroft another justice, and alderman of Leeds, who came and they brought other two men along with them they knockt at the doore as we were concluding which being perceived they conveyed me a private way into the barn, those four men went in, and the multitude of people rusht out and went away those that stayed were pressed to give in their names, which was refused, and after they had stayd about an houre, the men went away, they made a slight search, but I was gone out to the backside and went that night to Samuel Ellisons house near Bramley, where we stayed till the wednes- day and there I preacht on thuesday night, tho there was but few: yet I was much assisted having had that deliverance the night before, which was may 25 1668: the circumstances about it are remarkeable; on wednesday I went to Leeds, and preacht there on thursday morning, walked up and down towne, visited Mr Hardcastle a prisoner, apprehended there for a conventicle: that day we went to Hunslet to visit a friend, and back to Mr Spencers where we lodged, and the day after being friday may 29 we visited several friends, and returned home blessed be god.

The following month, this happened at Bramley:

Another day I stay at home on Saturday jun 26 I went to Mr Smiths at Gildersam, and preacht at Morley the day after, upon a solemne call, when I was in the pulpit singing a psalme comes up Mr Broadhead vicar of Batley passing among the croud up the alley [aisle], and got with much adoe to the clark, bade him tell Mr Heywood to come down and let him haue his owne pulpit, and then hasted away he left his goune at an house, took horse and went to Batley, told Justice Copley what a mul-titude of people ther was at Morley hearing a Non-conformist, he tooke no notice of it, bad[e] let us alone, and so through gods mercy we injoyed the day quietly, and it was a good day blessed be god,

Twice the Lord delivered His servant, the first by means of a back door, the second by means of a sympathetic, or indifferent, magistrate. The state may be powerful, but the Great God of Heaven can overrule all lower powers and courts to defend His folk. And when He does permit their suffering, it is so He may embrace them all the more on their arrival home, for to share in His sufferings is a wonderful, privileged fellowship. 

That Word above all earthly powers
no thanks to them abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours
through him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill:
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever!

-Dr Luther (Hedge Translation)