September. 12. 1648: Being as it were forsaken and neglected by the inhabitants of Earles Colne, and destitute of competent maintenance to live on, I set this morning apart to seek to god for direction in this matter; whether providence called me away, of whether I should continue with them still, now the good Lord who is the god of prayer answer my desires, and request, and make me to understand that which is most pleasing in thy sight.
first my case in reference to maintenance is this: first for tithes the general maintenance, the last year I received in from the town, at several times, with much calling upon: 25li.6s.9d. and perhaps this year may afford thus much, then Mr Jacob is to pay 4li. which perhaps he will continue to pay: Mr R. Harlakenden he its likely will perform his 20li. per annum: so there is about 49li. if the tithes be got in: for the other. 31: pound I have not received 4li. but suppose there should 8 or 9li. pound of it be paid, this amounts not to 60li. by the year, out of which I am to pay taxes, which will amount to 3li. per annum: tent(h)s to the Parliament, and reparations which will bring it down to a matter of 50li. a year, and for this I have myself wife, 3 children: maid: my wife a childing woman, so that this sum cannot at the great price all things now bear maintain us in a very low manner
but there are 2 things more incumbent on me, and that is to be hospitable and mindful of the poor. Titus: 1: 8: and our town is full of poor, and a roadway, and there are great occasions for a liberal relieving hand, which those that have not cannot perform, this then brings a scandal on the ministry, as if he had much but would not relieve them:
fa(r)ther a man is bound to provide for his family, and lay up for them, this Scripture allows: commands, requires: Gen: 30: 30: and now when shall I provide for my own house also: 2 Cor: 2: 14: 1 Timoth: 5: 8: and in a probably way when a mans children are young, and he is young is the fittest time to do this duty, but when the yearly income cannot maintain, what is there to lay up: again what a distraction it is for men to be entangled with thoughts of providing for their tables, when we should be attending our studies: under the law tithes were brought in to the priests now we must run out after them, its a great discomfort when a man is not maintained freely, and cheerfully though it be sparingly.
ob(jection): but god has increased your estate here at Colne.
Ans(wer): It is true, the secret treasures being his, he has done it, but those days are past, how to subsist with any freedom I know not now, and if I could I profess I would not remove, I have bought something while I lived at Colne, but half I have gained has not been from Colne but on other occasions: ob: but it may be Colne does for your maintenance what they are able:
Ans: 1: not, the town is able to maintain a minister, and his family with a 100li. per annum, if they were willing: but people are regardless and careless of the worship of god, as if they could well spare it:
2: that little, promised by contribution and tithes, is paid very unwillingly: the contribution not regarded to be gathered of them; a man or 2 is willing, but not any other are willing so much as to gather it up from others.
3. The parliament has added augmentations to other livings; our townsmen neglect ours, true an addition was granted, but it is ineffectual, neither do we take any course to make it effectual: Upon this and many other considerations: seeing my ministry thus barren, and slighted in Colne, I have cause to be humbled, and search my heart, and see whether it be rather a punishment on me for my sin, or a providence of god withal to remove me from them,
1: I cannot but acknowledge many iniquities in me, and neglects in my calling, and indeed great unfitness and inability for this weighty work, and this lord I lament from the bottom of my heart. and questionless when the lord makes people neglect their ministers, there is a respect to them in it, though perhaps not principally.
2. but in regard the state of things stand thus: I have continued to bear many wants, contented myself with small means, stirred them up to regard the condition of the town and so others have also, and yet nothing done by my condition is worse and meaner than before, I continued about 11 weeks at my Lady Honywoods , and it was known it was for want of means to keep house, yet in all that time, though I was plundered, did my people consider my condition, gather up any of the monies due to me, so that it seems clear to me, providence invites me away, my heart being also more inclined to lay down, having no offers of a place, but leaving it to gods providence to provide, than I ever was when I had offers of good places made to me,
and in this condition it seems to me clear that I may depart. I do not leave them until they have forsaken me, I desire no great means to live richly in the world, but convenient food and raiment, and the lord ordains that they which preach the gospel should live upon the gospel; and that in many places of Scripture, 1 Corinth: 9: 14: and surely then when any place does not afford him a subsistence he may observe his providence in going unto another, and when the priests had not their tithes brought in whereby they might wait in the Temple but were scattered into their several cities and fields for bread: here is the worship of god neglected, the priests leave the Temple: whose sin and fault was it: being they wanted their means of livelihood, it was the peoples, and the princes they are blamed for the same, Nehem. 13. 10. 11. and he gathers them together and sets them in their places, and provides for them: v.13. 14:
So then I lay it down as a conclusion that my town affords me not a competent maintenance; if they make it appear they have, then let the blame of it rest on me, and this is the reason I will insist on; and I will not be my own judge let any understanding men judge whether 80li. be not as little as a man can live on in these times, and this place, and seeing they do not, it is a just and a warrantable reason by scripture, and nature, to provide otherwise according as providence shall direct.
So then after looking into the word to be my counsellor and seeking unto god to direct me(,) my resolution, is acquaint Mr Harlakenden with my condition and what I must of necessity be enforced to do, and if by him and the townsmen, I be provided for in paying in my dues last year, and in securing the next years, if I live with them, if not, that then, I must though with loathness lay down at Michaelmas and leave the townsmen to take care of the same, to provide another minister, and for my particular to cast myself on gods providence to provide for me, as he sees best; and this resolution I intend to prosecute, and to observe god in the same, and whatsoever his providences are to take them with as much patience, and quietness of Spirit as may be, and with a thankfulness unto god, for whatsoever he appoints me to;
I shall also always acknowledge that there are some in this town, that to their power, and beyond their ability have been loving to me, and done their parts to continue the Ministry of the word among them, whom it grieves my soul to part with, but for what they have done they will have god and their own conscience bearing them witness, and affording them peace and comfort in whatsoever condition comes upon them;
I went down to Mr R. Harlakenden acquainted him with my purpose to leave Colne, he is sorry, wishes it were otherwise; but there is no proposal of remedy and indeed the fault is not particularly in him,