John Ley, A. M.—This laborious divine was born at Warwick, February 4, J583, and educated at Christ's Church, Oxford. Having finished his studies at the university, he was presented to the vicarage of Great Budworth in Cheshire, where he continued a constant preacher for several years. Afterwards, he was made prebendary and sub-dean of Chester, where he had a weekly lecture at St. Peter's church, and was once or twice elected member of the convocation. But having always been puritanically inclined, he, upon the commencement of the civil war, espoused the cause of the parliament, took the covenant, was chosen one of the assembly of divines, and appointed Latin examiner to the assembly.
A certain writer has placed Mr. Ley at the head of those divines who, he says, "encouraged tumults," and whom, in derision, he styles "able, holy, faithful, laborious, and truly peaceable preachers of the gospel." The proof of his accusation is contained in Mr. Ley's own words, which are as follows: —" It is not unknown, nor unobserved by the wise, that the ministers have been very serviceable to the civil state, and to the military too; not only by their supplications to God for good success in all their undertakings, and their happy proceedings in all their warlike marches and motions, as at the removal of the ark, Num. x. 35., -Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered: Let them that hate thee,jiee before thee; but by their informations and solicitations of the people to engage both their estates and persons in the cause of God and their country." The author, having produced these, with some other similar citations, triumphantly adds: "After these proofs and declarations of the ministers' zeal and industry for promoting, supporting, and carrying on the late bloody, impious, and unnatural war; let any man take upon him any longer to acquit the nonconformist divines of the guilt and consequence of that execrable rebellion."* These are certainly
•* I.'Estrangcs'i Dissent?rs' Savin js, part ii. p. 51,55.
very heavy charges, and ought to be supported by very substantial evidence. Though some of the nonconformist divines were zealous in the cause of the parliament, will any unprejudiced person affirm, that they "encouraged tumults," any more than those who were conformable? No man who is conversant with the history of those distracted times, and is. uninfluenced by a bigoted party spirit, I am persuaded will affirm any such thing. With respect to the "execrable rebellion," as it is called, it is well known to all parties to have originated in the arbitrary and cruel proceedings of the king and his tyrannical courtiers, which, after many years, led to all the horrors of a civil war. If, therefore, there was any rebellion, it is easy to see who was guilty.
Mr. Ley became rector of Ashfield in Cheshire, and for a short time, rector of Astbury in the same county, chairman of the committee for the examination and approbation of ministers, one of the committee of printing, and one of the committee for the ordination of ministers; About the year 1645 he was chosen president of Sion.college, and about the same time, inducted into the rich living of Brightwell in Berkshire. In 1653 he was appointed one of the tryers of ministers, and, the year following, assistant to the commissioners of Berkshire for ejecting ignorant and scandalous ministers and schoolmasters. After some time he resigned the living of Brightwell, and was presented to that of Solihull in Warwickshire. But by too much exertion and constant preaching, he broke a blood vessel; and being disabled from attending to the duties of his office, he resigned Solihull, and retired to Sutton Colfield in the same county, where he lived privately the rest of his days. He died May 16, 1662, aged seventy-nine years, and his remains were interred in the church at Sutton Colfield. He was accounted " an excellent preacher, a person of great learning, deeply read in the fathers and councils, and one of the chief pillars of presbyte rianism."*
His Works.—1. An Apology ill Defence of the Geneva Notes on the Bible, which were, in St. Mary's in Oxford, publicly mid severely reflected on by Dr. John I low-son. Written about 1612, and examined and approved by Bishop Usher.—2. A Pattern of Piety; or, the religious Life and Death of Mrs. Jane Batcliff of Che icr, 1640—3. Several occasional Sermons, 1640, &c, one of which is entitled, " The Fury of Warre, and Folly of Suinc, a Sermon before the Commons, April 26, 1643."—4. Sunday a Sabbath: or, a
» Wood'i Athenae Oxon. vol. ii. p. 190—194.
preparative Discourse for discussion of Sabbatarian doubts, 1641.— He u as assisted in this work, by the MSS. and advice of Archbishop Usher.—5. The Christian Sabbath maintained, in Answer to a book of Dr. Pocklington, styled, 'Sunday no Sabbath,' 1641.—6. Defensive doubts, hopes, and reasons, tor refusal of the Oath, imposed by the sixth Canon of the Synod, 1641.—7. A Letter against the Erectioa of an Altar, written June 29, 1635, to John, Bishop of Chester, 1641.—8. Case of Conscience concerning the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, 1641.—9. A Comparison of the Parliamentary Protestation with the late canonical Oath, and the Difl'crenre between them, 1641.—10. A further Discussion of the Case of Conscience touching the receiving the Sacrament, 1641.—11. Examination of John Saltmarsh's New Query, 1646.—12. A Censure of what Mr. Saltmarsh hath produced, 1646.—13. Apologetical Narrative of the late Petition of the Common Council and Ministers of London to the Honourable Houses of Parliament, 1646.—14. Light for Smoak; or, a clear and distinct Reply to a dark and confused Answer, in a book made and entitled,' The Smoak of the Temple, by John Saltmarsh,' 1646.—15. An After-reckoning with Mr. Saltmarsh; or, an Appeal to the impartial and conscientious Reader, 1646—16. A learned Defence of Tithes, 1651.—17. General Reasons grounded on Equity, Piety, Charity, and Justice, against the payment of a fifth part to sequestered Ministers, their \\ ives, and Children, 1654.—18. An Acquittance or Discharge from Dr. E. H. (Edward Hyde) his demand of the fifth part of the Rectory of Br. fBrightwell) in Berks, pleaded as in the Court of Equity and Conscience, 1654.—19. A Letter to Dr. Edward Hyde, in Answer to one of his, occasioned by the late Insurrection at Salisbury, 1655.—20. A Debate concerning the English Liturgy, between Edward Hyde, D. D and John Ley, 1656.—21. A Discourse of Disputations chiefly concerning Matters of Religion, 1658.—22. Animadversions on John Onely, 1658.—23. A Consolatory Letter to Dr. Bryan, upon the Death of his worthily well-beloved and much bewailed Son, Mr. Nathaniel Bryan, 1658.—24. Equitable and necessary Considerations for the Association of Arms throughout England and Wales.— 25. A Petition to the Lord Protector by divers, for the establishment of themselves, and other their brethren, in the places to which they are admitted to officiate as Ministers of the Gospel, without institution and induction by Bishops.—26. A Comparison of the Oath of the sixth Canon of the last Syuod of Bishops, and the Protestation set forth by Parliament, in Answer to a Letter of Pedael Harlow, Gent —27. Attestation of the Ministers of Cheshire, to the Testimony of the Ministers of London, against errors, heresies, and blasphemies. —28. Exceptions many and just.—29. Annotations on the Pentateuch, and the four Evangelists, in the Assembly's Annotations.