Henry Pendlebury (1626-1695)One of the most popular puritans of his day, though his works are rare.
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“I look only to be justified by Christ’s righteousness received by faith.”
The Works of Henry Pendlebury available in old English (Puritan Publications is working to publish all of Pendlebury’s works):
Most of his works were originally published posthumously. They are:
1. A Plain Representation of Transubstantiation, (1687).
2. Invisible Realities: the real Christian’s Greatest Concernment, in six sermons on 2 Cor. 4:18, (1696).
3. The Books Opened. Being [the Substance] of several discourses on Rev. 20:14, (1696).
4. The barren fig-tree: or, a practical exposition of the parable Luke 13:6- 9, (1700).
5. Sacrificiummissaticum, mysterium iniquitatis: or a treatise concerning the sacrifice of the Mass never before printed, (1768).
6. Christ Ascending
Biography of Henry Pendlebury (1626-1695):
Though Henry Pendlebury (1626-1695) is not as generally known as many republished puritans, he was a very useful and laborious minister, greatly beloved in the neighborhood in which he lived, and esteemed a man with great ministerial abilities.
Pendlbury was one of the most learned nonconformist Puritans of his day. He was a dissenting divine, born at Jowkin, Lancashire, on May 6, 1626, the son of Henry Pendlebury, (the Pendleburys being a long established family in West Houghton, Deane parish, Lancashire). From Bury Grammar School he went to Christ’s College, Cambridge in May, 1645, and graduated April 26, 1648. After, he earned his M.A. and then returned to Bury and under the authority of the Bury Presbyterian Presbytery.
In October, 1650 Pendlebury became minister of Horwich chapel, Deane parish. He was removed two years later through the Five Mile Act and took up residence for a while with Rev. William Tong’s father in Bolton. He spent the rest of his life ministering to nonconformist communities in and around Bury and the Irwell valley who loved to hear him preach about Christ and the world to come. His farewell sermon was preached from Rev. 3:11, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” In this sermon he avoided making any particular remarks on the overbearing measures of Government, and earnestly exhorted his people to hold fast, “their profession and practice of religion;—the gospel and gospel truths, their Christian graces, which are the effects of the Father’s special distinguishing and separating mercy, the fruits of the Son’s blood, and the works of the Holy Spirit, and so to hold fast their duties of religion, in the heart, in the house, and in the life; their detestation of sin; their love to and esteem of the word of God; their affection to God and Christ, and the things of God; their communion with him and their own hearts; their fellowship with the saints; their serious care for eternity; and whatsoever is in itself good.” He concluded with these words, “As for you poor Christians, who are making it your care and study to hold as fast that you have, I have this word of comfort to leave with you. Christ is keeping grace, life, and glory, for you, and is keeping you by his power unto salvation, and you shall never perish. Only watch and hold fast; let no man take thy crown, and behold, “he comes quickly.””
He constantly preached every Lord’s Day at Holcombe among his people, and to other Congregations, both far and near, in the country. He was licensed as a Presbyterian preacher on July 25, 1672. He was a spiritual mentor to many in the Protestant Dissenting ministry and despite inducements to more lucrative ministries he remained to minister in the remote semi-moorland townships of his youth. He participated in the founding of the Lancashire Provincial Assembly, which was an assembly of Presbyterians and Congregationalists established in the period from 1691-93.
He became ill and resigned his duties. He had little pain in the beginning of his sickness, and was employed in blessing God for dealing so gently with him, and carrying on his long visitation with so much ease to him. He said, “I have had more time to work for my own and others’ souls than I made account of when I was young; and so, if God has no more work for me to do, I am free to go to my rest. I have had enough of living, and am filled and satisfied with this life upon earth.”
Several friends from places where he had preached before came to visit him, to whom he always gave them some suitable counsel from the word of God. He advised those who told him they were brought to the knowledge of the truth by his ministry, “to give God the glory, and to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they were called.” Those, who were profited by his labors and built up in grace; he exhorted to, “go on their way rejoicing,” though they would not see his face again. He warned rich businessmen to take heed that they would not lose their souls to earthly business, and charged them to remember the saying of Sir Thomas Moore, which contains a great deal of truth, “There is a devil termed business, that carrieth more souls with him to hell, than all the devils beside.” He continued, “O! beware of this devil; when you come to be in any condition, your full bags, your full shops, and full houses, will stand you in no stead.”
Some of his ministerial brothers visited him, with whom he freely conversed; and whom he always desired to pray with him, as he did all his other Christian friends. Among the rest, Mr. Oliver Heywood called on him about a month before his death.
“What are your thoughts,” said Mr. Heywood, “as to justification by Christ’s righteousness?”
Mr. Pendlebury replied, “I look only to be justified by Christ’s righteousness received by faith.”
“What evidence do you have for heaven?”
“I had good grounds of hope,” said he, “many years ago, concerning my state of grace: though I am full of defects, yet the merits of Christ are all-sufficient on which I trust.”
“Are you satisfied that you have delivered in your sermons nothing but such gospel truths as you can own at the tribunal of Christ?”
“Excepting human frailty, so far as I can remember, I have never delivered anything to my bearers but what I dare die with, and go with to judgment.”
“Have you any comfortable seals to your ministry?”
“I bless God I have, and have had more fruits appear since my lying down, than I knew of before, especially many young persons have appeared hopeful.”
“What are your thoughts now, as to your nonconformity? Do you repent of it?”
“I bless God I am abundantly satisfied with it; and if I were to make my choice over again, and if it were possible for me to see all the sufferings I have undergone for it, (which are nothing to what many of the precious servants of God have suffered), and if they were all laid together, I would make the same choice, and take my nonconformity with them. And I bless God I never so much as tampered with them.”
“What legacies have you to leave?”
“I am unfit to give counsel to you my brother, but the words of the Apostle I leave with you, “be not weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.””
In the latter part of his sickness, it pleased God to afflict him with complications. In this, though, he glorified God with great patience, and expressed his hope of future blessedness saying, “I am not sick unto death, but to eternal life.” As to his minister he said, “I can now look back upon my way and work in the ministry, and say I have been faithful; and I can look within and say I have peace. But after all, I would fix on is Christ and his righteousness, I would make him all in all.” When he became exceedingly depressed due to his illness or circumstance, he would sometimes be left alone in the day in order to enjoy communion with God in secret prayer and meditation.
He died June 18th, 1695, about eight o’clock in the morning, in the seventieth year of his age. One writer records, “His pious soul, which, through the whole course of his life, had been bent towards God, showed its readiness for the full and eternal fruition, by its sweet and ardent breathings after him during the night; and morning before its departure, and which were often expressed in these words, “Father, come, and take me home to thyself.””
His remains were buried in Bury churchyard, being the parish in which he lived, near the chancel wall on the south side, June 20, 1695. A multitude of people attended his funeral who greatly lamented over him. Rev. Robert Seddon of Bolton preached the funeral sermon from Daniel 12:13, “But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.” His remains were removed to a common receptacle on the occasion of the building of the new parish church in 1865.
For more information consult: Fishwick’s Lanc. Library, pp. 411–12; Scholes’s Bolton Bibliogr. p. 201; Halley’s Lanc. Nonconformity, p. 372; J. E. Bailey in Manchester Guardian, ‘Local Notes and Queries,’ 4 Jan. and 29 April 1874; notice by W. Hewitson in the Bury Times, June and July 1895; Lanc. and Chesh. Record Soc. Publ. i. 26, 37, xii. 66, xviii. 194; Manchester Minutes (Chetham Soc.); Heywood’s whole Works, i. 130, 441; Oliver Heywood’s Diaries; Northowram Register; Calamy’s Continuation and Account of Nonc. Mem.; Thoresby’s Ducatus Leodiensis, App. p. 122; Raines MSS. i.291 (Chetham Libr.); Newcome’s Autobiogr. (Chetham Soc.); Thorburn’s Valedictory Address, Bury, 1874; Minutes of the Bury Classis (MS. in the writer’s possession); information kindly sent by J. Peile, master of Christ’s College; The Surey Demoniac, pp. 36, 73; Jolly’s Vindication of the Surey Demoniac, pp. 40, 62; Long’s Life of Matthew Henry, p. 57; Thoresby’s Corresp. i. 339, 404; Zachary Grey’s Examin. of Neal, iv. 429; Jones’s Popish Tracts, pp. 367, 463; Notitia Cestriensis, ii. 26, 41–2, 103 (Chetham Soc.).