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Ezechias Morley

Ezechias Morley was minister at Walsham in the Willows in Suffolk, and afterwards at several other places. He was a zealous and laborious preacher, but suffered numerous oppressions on account of his nonconformity. Mr. Morley has left a circumstantial account of the troubles he underwent, which it may not be improper to lay before the reader.

" For three years," says he, " I have been so molested by the commissary, that I could not remain to do the work of God, for any long time in any one place. They first arrested me by a warrant from the bishop, when they said, I must be bound to appear before him at Norwich by ten o'clock next morning, or go to prison. The time appointed being so very short, I yielded my body to the prison. This was in the year 1582.

" Having obtained my liberty, I became minister of Denton; then the commissary caused an act of excommunication to be entered against me, of which I had no knowledge till about a week after. I then resorted to Dr. Day, and desired he would not proceed against me, seeing he had already done me so much injury. Therefore, after much entreaty, he promised that he would not hinder me in my ministry, and so gave me his word to stay the excommunication . Notwithstanding this, in six weeks after my removal to Denton, he published an excommunication against me, and fixed it upon the door of the church at Walsham, being unknown to me, and fifteen miles from the place of my abode. Afterwards, I was arrested on the Lord's day in the church-yard, when the Lord's supper was about to have been administered. When the warrant was read, I told the officer, that I would remain in a bond of twenty pounds to appear the next day, which he utterly refused. When a friend offered his bond of twenty pounds, he refused this also. And when my friends proposed to enter a bond of three hundred pounds for my appearance the next day, this in like manner was refused. As I prepared to go with him, he would have taken bond; but I, being ignorant of the law, refused his offer, and, therefore, went with him to the high sheriff to Bury. Here nothing was objected against me, only I was bound over to the assizes.

" At the assizes, I was indicted for having deviated from the order of baptism, in baptizing a child a long time toefore I left Walsham. In this indictment, I was charged with, having said, ' do you forsake the devil Y instead of saying, • dost thou forsake the devil ?'—and 4 will you kave this child baptized in this faith ?' for 4 wilt thou be baptized in this faith ?' Upon the reading of the indictment, the judge asked me what I had to say why sentence should not be executed against me. I answered, that I had endured punishment already from the commissary. And when the judge inquired whether I had been so punished, the commissary said I had; hut he did not know whether it was for this offence or some other. I was, therefore, committed to prison."*

In the year 1584, Mr. Morlcy made the following record:—" The first day of June was two years, I was committed to the Clink, by the Archbishop and the Bishop of London. I was there confined seven weeks, and to this hour, I know not for what cause. I was fetched by the pursuivant upwards of forty miles, which was attended with great expense, as well as hinderancc of my usefulness. I have never received any rccompence for false and unjust imprisonment; neither can I obtain liberty to use my ministry with a good conscience. So that I am now ready to go a begging; yet, if allowed, I might, through the blessing of God, do some good to myself and the afflicted church of Christ, of which I am a poor member.

" EZECHIAS M0RLEr."+

It appears from the above, that Mr. Morley was for a long time suspended from the exercise of his ministry. Afterwards, being driven out of Norfolk, he preached at Ridgwell in Essex. And during the above year, warrants were issued by Archbishop Whitgift, the Bishop of London, and other ecclesiastical commissioners, requiring certain laymen to appear before them at St. Paul's, to prove several charges against Mr. Morley. Upon their appearance before their lordships, they were required to answer the following articles of inquiry:

1. "Do you, and all of you, know Ezechias Morley, preacher; and how long have you known him ?

2. " It is objected against you, that you have been at divers preachings and lectures of the said Morley, in the church of Ridgwell in Essex, since Easter.

3. " That you have often, or some times, been, within these two years, at the said Morley's lectures, preachings

and expositions, in some house or other place, out of any church or place appointed for public prayers. Where are those places? Who were present? And how often have you been ?

4. " That you did hear or know, that the churchwardens of Ridgwell in Essex, or some other who had authority so to do, did give admonition and warning to the said Morley, that he should not preach in the said church until he had shewed sufficient license, and brought authority from the ordinary so to do."*

Mr. Morley was convened, at the same time, and, for refusing to subscribe, was obliged to enter into a bond of one hundred pounds not to preach any more in the diocese of London.+ But it does not appear what other hardships he endured.

He became rector of Roding-AIta in Essex, July 23, 1601; but resigned it by death, previous to February 18, JG07, when the next incumbent entered upon the benefice. ♦