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JOHN CHILDS AND SON, BUNGAY.
AUG 2! 0:7
MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR.
The Rev. William Jenkyn, M. A., author of the following Exposition, and descended from a wealthy family at Folkstone, was born at Sudbury, in the year 1612. His father dying while he was very young, his wealthy grandfather took him under his charge till he was nine years of age, when his mother, fearing the absence of a religious education, brought him home, and with his father-in-law carefully trained him in godliness. At fourteen he was sent to Cambridge, and placed under the tuition of the Rev. Anthony Burgess, where his eminent piety, progress in learning, and sprightly genius gained him many admirers. Some time after taking his degree of M. A, he was chosen lecturer of St. Nicholas Acons, London ; and from thence he became the minister of Hythe, near Colchester. Here he married; but the dampness of the situation, and the solicitations of his friends, induced him to return to London. In the year 1641 he was chosen vicar of Christ Church, Newgate Street, and some months after lecturer of St. Ann's, Blackfriars, which offices he continued to fill with great diligence and acceptance till the destruction of the monarchy, when upon refusing to observe the public thanksgivings appointed by parliament, he was sequestered from his benefices, suspended from his ministry, and banished twenty miles from London.
“About six months after his retirement to Billericay,” says Bishop Kennet," he returned to London, and was sent to the Tower, from “Love's plot.?” It appears from the same authority, and Oldmixon, that he was prevailed upon, by the advice of friends, to petition (the Rump) parliament for his release. “Dr. Arthur, minister of Clapham, drew up the petition for him, and with great difficulty he, Dr. Lazarus Seaman, and others, prevailed on him to sign it.” It is entitled, “ The humble and penitent Petition of William Jenkyn, presented to parliament in the year 1651 : Most humbly showeth,
“ That your petitioner is unfeignedly sorrowful for his late miscarriages, whether testified against him, or acknowledged by him, and for the great unsuitableness of them to his calling and condition,” &c.
On which parliament resolved, “ That Mr. William Jenkyn be pardoned both for life and estate, for and in respect of treasons and crimes whereof he is accused,” &c.
Mr. Feak, who had embraced the strange notion of the fifth monarchy, having been presented to the living of Christ Church by the government, Jenkyn would not eject him, though upon his discharge from sequestration he had a right to do so. His parishioners, however, anxious to enjoy his ministry, established a lecture for him at seven o'clock on Lord’s-day mornings, and remunerated him for his disinterestedness by raising a large subscription on his behalf. He continued this lecture, and that of Blackfriars, from which he had not been ejected, till the death of Dr. Gouge, when he was chosen rector of that parish.
The government after a short time removed Mr. Feak from the living of Christ Church, to which the governors of Bartholomew's Hospital, from their high estimation of his character, immediately presented Mr. Jenkyn. Here he exercised his ministry on the sabbath morning and afternoon to a crowded auditory with eminent success among his parishioners, but especially to occasional hearers, who came from all parts to hear him. He seemed to have adopted the apostle's motto with a lively assurance of its importance, “ I am determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified ;” for during several years he preached from the names given to Christ in the Scripture. He had a peculiar manner of gaining a powerful hold of the conscience, and not allowing the sinner to escape by any ancient or modern subterfuge; so that if his hearers were not converted, they were convicted and self-condemned-an eminent and greatly to be desired ministerial talent. Baxter styles him “that elegant and sententious preacher.”
Upon the restoration of Charles II. his loyalty was suspected, and he was ordered to appear before the council, respecting which we find the following minute : “Tuesday, Jan. 2, 1661-2. Council Chamber in Whitehall. Mr. W. Jenkyn, the minister of Christ Church Hospital, being sent for this day, made his appearance at the board, and was reproved for not praying for the king,” &c.
When the Act of Uniformity and the Oxford Act passed, not being able to subscribe to the required oaths, he retired to his own house at Langley, in Hertfordshire, where he preached in private to his neighbours. When the indulgence was granted in 1671, he returned to London, and his friends erected him a chapel in Jewin Street, where he soon raised a numerous congregation. He was also chosen lecturer at Pinner's Hall. Upon the revocation of the indulgence he was specially favoured by the authorities, who permitted him to continue his services on the Lord's day without interruption until Bartholomew's Day, 1682. After this he preached in private, as opportunity and secrecy permitted, till Sept. 2, 1684, on which day he, and Mr. (afterwards Bishop) Reynolds, Mr. John Flavel, and Mr. Keeling had met a numerous body of their friends, in a place which they thought sufficiently secluded from danger, for the purpose of prayer and communion, when a company of soldiers rushed into the congregation while in the act of worship. All the ministers made their escape except Mr. Jenkyn, who (says Mr. Flavel) might have escaped as well as the rest, had it not been for a piece of vanity in a lady, whom Mr. Jenkyn out of too great politeness had allowed to pass before him, and her long train hindered his going down-stairs. Knowing that it would be acceptable at court, the officers who apprehended him, and the magistrates, Sir James Edwards and Sir James Smith, before whom he was brought, treated him rudely and severely. They rejected his offer of £40, which the law empowered them to take, and committed him to Newgate, though they were assured by medical authority that at his advanced age of seventy-one the confinement of Newgate would cost him his life. He presented a petition to the king, by pleading for whose restoration to the throne he had suffered imprisonment before, entreating him to grant his release. The petition was accompanied by certificates from his physicians, that his life was in imminent danger from his close imprisonment; yet all the answer which could be obtained from the ungrateful monarch was, " Jenkyn shall be a prisoner as long as he lives." Chambers says, “ The inveteracy of Charles II. against him seems unaccountable. He had been a great sufferer for loyalty to Charles I., and was one of those who not only resisted the decrees of parliament, but was even implicated in Love's plot,' the object of which was the restoration of the king.”
The restrictions to which he was subjected in Newgate were exceedingly severe. The keepers were prohibited from allowing him to pray with any visitors—even his own daughter; nor was he permitted to leave the prison to baptize his grandchild, though a considerable sum, and security for his return, were offered for that liberty. Soon after his confinement his health began to decline, but his soul was filled with unspeakable joy and
comfort. To one of his friends he remarked, “What a vast difference is there between this and my first imprisonment! Then I was full of doubts and fears, of grief and anguish; and well I might, for going out of God's way and my own calling to meddle with things that did not belong to me. But now, being found in the way of my duty, in my Master's business, though I suffer even to bonds, yet I am comforted beyond measure. The Lord sheds abroad his love in my heart; I feel it ; I have the assurance of it.” Then, turning to some who were weeping by him, he said, “ Why weep ye for me? Christ lives : he is my Friend ; a Friend born for adversity; a Friend that never dies. Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children."
After four months' confinement and suffering, he died in Newgate, Jan. 19, 1685, in the seventy-second year of his age, and fifty-second of his ministry. The news of his death soon reached the court. A nobleman in waiting had the courage to say to the king, "May it please your majesty, Jenkyn has got his liberty.” Upon which he asked with surprise, " Aye, who gave it to him?” The nobleman replied, “A greater than your majesty, the King of kings !” with which the king seemed struck, and remained silent.
On Jan. 24th he was buried at “ Tyndall's burial-place," since called Bunhill Fields, by his friends with great honour, “his corpse being attended, says L'Estrange, by at least one hundred and fifty coaches."
Jenkyn has been accused, and not without cause, of being a changeable man—not in his theology, but in his politics. Some passages in his history are difficult to reconcile with stedfastness of purpose and stern integrity ; but unless we had all the circumstances before us, it would be equally wrong at this distance of time to justify or condemn. Political partisans write of him in derision if he was opposed to their views, and in eulogy if his sentiments accorded with their own. It is, however, quite certain, from friends and foes, that he was an eminent minister of Christ—that crowds attended his sermons—that his parishioners were devotedly attached to his person and labours—that other parishes beside his own were anxious to obtain his services—that he preferred to suffer rather than to act contrary to his conscience--that he died in the triumphs and enjoyments of the gospel, and was buried with remarkable honour, not less than six hundred mourners following his body to the grave!
The following Exposition is the most considerable of his works, and exhibits his piety, diligence, and learning. It was delivered at Christ Church, Newgate Street, in the ordinary course of his ministry, and met with great acceptance; two editions having been published during the life of the author, both of which have been carefully collated for the present publication. The editor believes that, from the great pains taken to render the work perfect, few errors have escaped detection. He now commits it to the favour of God, who, judging from the testimonies received from many ministers, has crowned the Expositions previously published with a large share of his blessing. May the desire of the author for his work be eminently realized by this edition, “ that the souls of its readers may reap the benefit of the whole, and that it may advance the spiritual progress of the church ;" and in every work which we undertake and accomplish for God, may we review it with the same feelings and sentiments as this Exposition was concluded by its author : “ For myself, all good that I can do, or in this or any other service have done, I humbly desire may be returned only to the honour and praise of my most dear and blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, whose grace was the principle of all that is rightly done in it, whose Spirit was my guide in doing it, whose word was my rule, whose glory was my end, whose merit can alone procure acceptance for me and all my services, and the everlasting enjoyment of whose presence is my soul's desire and longing. Amen."