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Ezekial Rogers

Ezekiel Rogers, A. M.—This pious minister of Christ was born at Wethersfield in Essex, in the year 1590; at the age of thirteen he was sent to the university, and, at twenty, took his degrees in arts. He was sou to the venerable Mr. Richard Rogers, and brother to Mr. Daniel Rogers, both famous for their ministry and nonconformity at the above place. Having finished his academical pursuits, he became domestic chaplain to Sir Francis Barrington, whose family was celebrated for religion and hospitality. Here he was conversant with persons of the first rank, and was greatly admired for his devout prayers, his judicious sermons, and his excellent strains of oratory. After he had remained about six years in this worthy family, Sir Francis presented him to the benefice of Rowley in* Yorkshire. This he did, in hopes that his evangelical and zealous preaching would awaken the people in that part of the country to a serious concern for their souls. His church was situated in the centre of many villages, whence a numerous assembly attended on his ministry.

Though great numbers at this place were enlightened and comforted by his preaching, he enjoyed but little comfort himself. He laboured under many fears and great distress, lest he did not experience the influence of those truths on his own heart which he zealously enforced upon others. He trembled lo think of his own heart remaining unimpressed with those important doctrines and pathetic expressions, by which others were moved and affected. It very much increased his affliction, that he hud not one serious friend in that part of the kingdom, to whom he could communicate the troubles of his mind. His wounded spirit was so deeply afflicted, that he resolved to take a journey into Essex to obtain the advice of his brother at Wethersfield, or his cousin, Mr. John Rogers of Dedham. Upon his arrival at the latter place, it was the lecture day; and, instead of consulting his kinsman, as he intended, he went to hear him preach, entering the assembly just before the sermon. To his great surprise, the subject was perfectly suited to the state of his afflicted spirit; and, before the close of the sermon, all his perplexing doubts and fears were fully resolved. Having obtained the desired peace and comfort, he returned to his stated ministerial exercise with fresh courage, and a remarkable success attended his future labours.* Being naturally of a lively spirit, and having <a feeble body, his animated discourses often exhausted his strength. This induced him to study physic, in which he obtained considerable skill.

* Examioalion of Neal, vol. i. p. 231.

By the encouragement or connivance of Archbishop Matthews of York, the lectures or prophesyings, put down in the days of Queen Elizabeth, wore again revived. These lectures were the means of diffusing the light of the gospel into many dark corners of the land, particularly in Yorkshire. The ministers within a certain district held their monthly assemblies, when one or two of them preached, and others prayed, before a numerous and attentive congregation.+ Mr. Rogers took an active part in these exercises as long as the archbishop lived. From one of these public lectur-s, a vile accuser waited upon the archbishop, and charged one of the ministers with having prayed, " that God would shut the archbishop out of heaven." The worthy pre] ite, instead of being oftended, as the slanderer expected, only smiled and said, " Those good men know well enough

• Mather's Hist, of New Ens;, b. iii. p. 101, 102.

+ There are monthly lectures, when two ministers usually preach, (till held by the independent ministers in the West-Riding of Yorkshire. These periodical associations, which are often very numerously attended, tnoit probably originated in the above exercises.

that if I were gone to heaven, their exercises would soon be put down."* The words of" the good archbishop were, indeed, found true; for his head was no sooner laid in the dust than they were put down. Mr. Rogers, having preached at Rowley about thirty years, was silenced for nonconformity; but, as some kind of recompence, he was allowed the profits of his living tor two years, and permitted to put another in his place. He made choice of one Mr. Bishop for his successor; who, for refusing to read publicly the censure passed upon Mr. Rogers, was himself presently silenced.t

In the year 1638, our pious divine, not allowed to open his mouth for the good of souls, in his own country, retired from the cruel oppression with many of his Yorkshire friends, and went to New England. They took shipping at Hull, and on their arrival procured lam!, and formed a new plantation, which they called Rowley. Here he dwelt near his kinsman, the worthy Mr. Nathaniel Rogers of Ipswich; and continued about the same period that he had done at Rowley in Yorkshire. Some time after his settlement in the new colony, he was appointed to preach the sermon at a public election, which is said to have reudered his name famous throughout the commonwealth. While he was praised abroad, he was venerated at home. His ministry was highly esteemed and extensively useful among the people of his chargf. The principal topics on which he insisted were, regeneration and union to Christ by faith; and when addressing his people on these subjects, he had the remarkable talent of penetrating their feelings, and unvailing the secrets of their hearts. His sermons and his prayers expressed the very feelings and exercises of their souls. They often stood amazed to hear their minister so exactly describe their thoughts, their desires, their motives, and their whole characters. They were sometimes ready to exclaim, " Who hath told him all this?" His conversation among his people was serious and instructive. He took great pains in the religious instruction of the youth, especially those who had been recommended to him by their dying parents. He was a tree of knowledge richly laden with truit, from which even children could pluck and eat. He was remarkable for healing breaches, and making peace among contending parties; and so great was his ability and influence, that, when any contentions arose among his people, he sent for the parties, examined the grounds of their complaints, and commonly quenched the sparks of discord betorc they burst into an open flame. His labours proving eminently useful, it was thought improper, after some years, that a minister of his splendid tylents should confine his efforts to one small congregation. He was, therefore, induced to commence public lectures, particularly for the benefit of (he adjacent towns, upon which the people attended with great satisfaction. Oo. account of the increase of his labours, an excellent young man was obtained as his assistant. This, however, proved the means of exciting an unhappy jealousy among the people, that Mr. Rogers was not sufficiently zealous for his settlement; and, at length, produced that alienation of affection which was never entirely healed.*

* This excellent prelate, who bad been an ornament to tbe university of Oxford, was no less an ornament to his high station in the church. He was noted for his ready wit; and was equal, if not superior to Bishop Andrews, i* (he faculty of punning. He had an admirable talent for preaching, which he never suffered to lie idle; but used l» go from one town to another to preach to crowded congregations. He kept an exact account of the number of sermons which he preached after his preferment; by which it appears, that he preached, when Dean of Durham, 121 ; when Bishop of that diocese, 650; and when Archbishop of York, 721; in all, 1992. He died March 29, 1028; when bit wife, a person of most exemplary wisdom, gravity, and piety, generously gave his library, consisting of 3000 volumes, to the library of the cathedral of York.—f.c Ntut's Livts, vol. i. part ii. p. 114.—Granger's Biog. Hist. vol. i. p. 343.

t Mather's Hist, of New England, b. iii. p. 102.

The latter part of this worthy man's life was a dreary winter of trials and sufferings. It was during this period that he buried his wife and all his children. A second wife, together with her little one, was soon snatched from his arms. The very night of his third marriage, his house was burnt down, with all his furniture, and his excellent library which Uc took with him from England. After having rebuilt his house, he had a fall from his horse, which so bruised his right arm that it became entirely useless, and he afterwards wrote with his lelt. Under these painful trials, he was cheerfully resigned to the will of God, and enabled to rejoice amidst all his tribulations. Writing to a minister at Charlestown, a short time before his death, he very much lamented that the younger part of his people were so little affected with the things of God, and (hat many of them strengthened each other in the ways of sin. In this letter he says, "I tremble to think what will become of this glorious work which we have begun, when the ancients

• Mather's New England, b. iii. p. 103.

shall be gathered to their fathers. I fear grace and blessings Will die with them. All is hurry for the world: every one is far himself, and not for the public good. It hath been. God's way not to send sweeping judgments, when the chief magistrates are godly. I beseech all the Bay minUtere to call earnestly upon the magistrates, and tell them their godliness is our protection. I am hastening home. Oh! that I might see some signs of good in the generation following, to send me away rejoicing. I thank God I am near home; and you, too, are not far off. Oh! the weight of glory that is ready waiting for us, God's poor exiles. We shall sit next to the martyrs and confessors. Cheer up your spirits with these thoughts; and let us be zealous for God and for Christ, and mate a good conclusion."*

Mr. Rogers closed his labours and his life, January 23, 1660, aged seventy years. He gave his new library to Harvard college, and his house and lands to the town of Rowley for the support of the gospel. A part of the land is said to have been bequeathed on consideration of the people's supporting a pastor and teacher, according to the principles of the original settlers in the country; but this having been long since neglected, the corporation of Harvard college, to whom the land was forfeited, made their rightful claim and obtained it; so that Mr. Rogers is numbered among the distinguished benefactors of that university. But still, in the first parish of Rowley, the rent of the lands left them by Mr. Rogers amounts to more than the salary of their minister, t