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Puritan Memoirs - Mr. Peter Saxton

Puritan Memoirs - The Life and Death of Some Reformed Ministers

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The life and death of Mr. Peter Saxton.

THIS venerable divine was born at Bramley, in the parish of Leeds, in Yorkshire, and had his education at Cambridge, where he took his degrees in arts. He was presented, both by the king and Sir Edward Stanhope, to the rectory of Edlington in his native county. He was at first a conformist, but afterwards found reasons for altering his opinion with respect to the forms of the established church; from which he became so much alienated, that he called the surplice the whore’s smock. But having espoused the sentiments of the puritans, and not being ashamed publicly to avow them, he could find no rest in his native country. A cruel persecution having overspread the land, Mr. Saxton retired from the storm, and sought a place of liberty and security in New England, where he arrived in the year 1640. There we find his name, as minister of Scituate, classed amongst the first of those persecuted puritans, who, by their godly ministry, illuminated the dark regions of North America. In this situation Mr. Saxton continued for some time; but the unsettled condition of the colony, together with some unpleasant contentions in the plantation where he lived, were the causes of his removal, first to Boston, and afterwards, when advanced in years, to England. On his return from Boston, the ship was overtaken with a storm, so dreadful, that even the mariners gave all over for lost; and those whom nothing could induce to call on the name of the Lord before, came trembling to Mr. Saxton, in all the agony of despair, whom they found with his arms stretched out to heaven, calling out, “Who are now ready to start for heaven? Who are bound for the haven of eternal rest’?” But when at their wits end, the storm was changed into a calm, and they arrived safely at the desired port. On his arrival in England, he had the offer of a considerable living in Kent; which he rejected, choosing rather to accept the vicarage of Leeds in his own county; where he was inducted in 1646, and held till his death, in April 1651. He was a venerable, pious, and learned divine; but ‘was in the habit of using many homely expressions, which often created a smile, and, on one occasion, a downright burst of laughter in a country church. His text’was, Job 11, 12. “For vain man would be wise, though born like a wild ass’ colt.” Observing the irreverence of the people, he told them he would make them cry before he had done; and was as good as his word; for when he came to the application of his sermon, the aged minister, for whom he was preaching, speaking of this circumstance, says, “That he had never seen the like before in that church, for the greater part of the congregation were bathed in tears.” He also gives Mr. Saxton the character of a very studious and learned man, and a great Hebrician, who constantly carried his Hebrew bible into the pulpit with him. There is a book under his name, entitled, Christmas Cheer, or Profitable Notes of two Sermons, preached on the 25th December, being commonly (how rightly let others judge) called christmas day, and on the day following, commonly called St. Stephen’s day.

Bible Verse:

“I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless,” (Gen. 17:1).

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