New Rules? New Creature!

Taken and adapted from, “The whole Works of the Rev. Oliver Heywood,”
Vol. 5, Chapter 2, The Nature of a New Creature.
Written by, Oliver Heywood.
Edited for thought and sense.

week8-large-1Here is the rule of this new creature, which is expressed, by turning the heart and life to the rule of the word…

…this either refers to the manner of framing the new creature, or the rule by which the new creature acts and moves being once formed. As to the former, the new creature receives the stamp, signature, and impression of the word; Rom 6:17, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin; but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you;” or as it is more properly in the Greek, εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχῆς, into which you were delivered; that is, the soul is the metal, the word is the mould, into which the sinner is cast, thereby receives a new stamp, is formed into a new shape, which naturally terminates in a new course of life, according to scripture rule. This immediately after my text, ver. 16, is called the canon, or rule of the new creature; for it is added, “As many as walk according to this rule, or canon, τῷ κανόνι τούτῳ, peace be on them.”

This is that guidance or direction that architects have in their operations for levelling the stones and timber suitably, that all the parts of the edifice may agree in a just proportion; thus must, thus will the Christian do, his desire and design is to lie square to the word of God, to “have respect to all God’s commandments,” Psalm 119:6; “To walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless,” Luke 1:6.

Every child of God is taught by God to walk by rule.

All callings have their proper rule; the physician studies Galen; the lawyer his Littleton; the philospher his Aristole and Plato ; yet in all professions men may vary in their methods, in the same calling, because no rule is so perfect, to which another may not add something; but the standing rule of God’s word is perfect, Psalm 19:7; “able to make the man of God perfect,” 2 Tim. 3:17.

Nothing must be added to it, or taken from it. The Christian is both drawn and determined by its authority, more than by a whole team of human arguments.

And lastly, here is the end of this new creature, which is twofold, first, the glory of God; and secondly, the soul’s present and everlasting communion with him. Both these are wrapped up together, and are very consistent; yes, they cannot be separated. Now God’s glory is promoted by the new creature, in this world, and in the other,

In this world the new creature only is capable of glorifying God; such a soul is planted in Christ the true vine, and “glorifies God by bringing forth much fruit,”John 15:8. ” Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God,” Phil. 1:11. The chief design of the true Christian and the new creature, is to promote the glory of God, actively and passively; this is the first petition in the Lord’s prayer; and the first right step the converted soul takes heavenward; he is content to be villified, so that God may be glorified; and if God be glorified by others, whatever become of him, he rejoices, as Paul, in the preaching of Christ by others, to preach down his credit, Phil. 1:18.

In the next world also, this new creature will form an illustrious monument to the glory of Jehovah, “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe,” 2 Thess. 1:10. The existence of this new creation will reflect more glory to the author than that of the old one. O what a glorious sight will it be to see so many bright stars in the firmament of glory, borrowing their light from, and reflecting light to the Sun of righteousness!

Besides, the new creature is the only person on earth that is qualified for communion with God; he only can say, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ,” 1 John 1:3. It is this new creation that raises this clod of clay above the earth, and engages the heart to approach to God, while others “worship afar off,” Jer. 30:21. Exodus 24:1. These holy souls are they that worship in the “temple of God, and at the altar,” Rev. 9:1. Psalm 148:14. God admits them into his presence, as a people near to him.

The Christian is the man who sanctifies God’s name in his worship, and is satisfied with the fatness of God’s house. Here is the blessed merchant that trades in rich pearls, that goes from port to port, from ordinance to ordinance ; not to see places, but to take in his lading of communications, graces, privileges, assurance, and comfort from God.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Oliver Heywood, third son of Richard Heywood, yeoman, by his first wife, Alice Critchlaw, was born at Little Lever, near Bolton, Lancashire, in March 1630.

In religious matters he was much influenced by the preaching of Samuel Hammond and joined with other students in a kind of religious club which met in the “garret-chamber” of Thomas Jollie. In 1650 he graduated Bachelor of Arts and soon began to preach; his first sermon was delivered at a village in the neighbourhood of Preston, Lancashire. By his uncle, Francis Critchlaw, he was recommended as preacher at Coley Chapel, near the village of Northowram, in the parish of Halifax, West Riding. He accepted this post, with a stipend of £30, on 26 November 1650, and refused an offer of Houghton Chapel, Lancashire. Though under the regular age, he was ordained on 4 August 1652 at Bury, Lancashire, by the second presbyterian classis of that county. His younger brother, Nathaniel, was minister at Illingworth Chapel, in the same parish of Halifax, and the two lived together in 1654 at Godley House.

Heywood removed to Northowram on his marriage in 1655. For many years before his settlement there had been no administration of Communion at Coley; he restored a monthly celebration in 1655, connecting it in 1657 with the introduction of church discipline in the presbyterian way. Hitherto his parishioners had been united in attachment to his ministry; the discipline divided them, and ‘sincere Christians’ became his ‘greatest trouble;’ his communion list reached seventy-three names. He persevered against opposition, declining calls to one of the two churches of St. Martin, York, and to the vicarage of Preston.

Heywood was a royalist presbyterian, and though he took no part in the insurrection under George Booth, 1st Baron Delamer, he disobeyed the order requiring a public thanksgiving for its suppression, and was accordingly apprehended and threatened with sequestration in August 1659. On the news that Monck had declared for the king, he breaks out in his diary into a psalm of praise. With the Restoration, however, his serious troubles began. Richard Hooke, the new vicar of Halifax, prohibited baptism in the outlying chapelries. Heywood continued to baptise, making his peace by sending the customary perquisites to the vicar. On 23 January 1661 his ‘private fast’ was stopped by authority. Among his parishioners an influential party, headed by Stephen Ellis of Hipperholme, the man of most substance in the chapelry, was in favour of the resumption of the prayer-book. A copy was accordingly laid on the pulpit cushion on 25 August 1661. Heywood quietly set it aside. At the instigation of Ellis, Heywood was cited to York on 13 September, After several hearings his suspension from ministering in the diocese of York was published on 29 June 1662 in Halifax Church. For two or three Sundays he persisted in preaching; within a month of the taking effect of the Uniformity Act (24 August 1662) he was excommunicated, the sentence of excommunication being publicly read in Halifax Church on 2 November, in the parish church of Bolton, Lancashire, on 4 January 1663, and again at Halifax on 3 December 1663. Hence attempts were made to exclude him from churches, even as a hearer; while, on the other hand, Ellis, as churchwarden, claimed fines for his non-attendance at Coley Chapel, under the statute of Elizabeth. John Angier, his father-in-law, admitted him to the communion at Denton Chapel, Lancashire; on 5 June 1664 he preached, by the vicar’s invitation, in the parish church of Mottram-in-Longen Dale, Cheshire; and on 13 August 1665 he preached at Shadwell Chapel, near Leeds, Hardcastle, the minister, being then in prison for nonconformity.

The last ten years of Heywood’s life were somewhat troubled by symptoms of declining orthodoxy in some of his coadjutors. He maintained his own evangelistic work with unimpaired vigour till the close of 1699. In 1700 his health broke; asthma confined him to Northowram. From 5 December 1701 he was carried to his meeting-house in a chair. He died at Northowram on Monday, 4 May 1702, and was buried in a side chapel of Halifax Church, known as ‘ Holdsworth’s works,’ in his mother’s grave.