On this day, August 17, 1662, over 2000 godly men preached their final message. August 24 of that year marked the beginning of the enforcement of the Acts of Uniformity which resulted in the great ejection. Following is an excerpt from The Diary of Samuel Pepys which records the event.
Up very early, this being the last Sunday that thePresbyterians are to preach, unless they read the new Common Prayer and renounce the Covenant,1 and so I had a mind to hear Dr. Bates’s farewell sermon, and walked thither, calling first at my brother’s, where I found that he is come home after being a week abroad with Dr. Pepys, nobody knows where, nor I but by chance, that he was gone, which troubles me. So I called only at the door, but did not ask for him, but went to Madam Turner’s to know whether she went to church, and to tell her that I would dine with her; and so walked to St. Dunstan’s, where, it not being seven o’clock yet, the doors were not open; and so I went and walked an hour in the Temple- garden, reading my vows, which it is a great content to me to see how I am a changed man in all respects for the better, since I took them, which the God of Heaven continue to me, and make me thankful for. At eight o’clock I went, and crowded in at a back door among others, the church being half-full almost before any doors were open publicly; which is the first time that I have done so these many years since I used to go with my father and mother, and so got into the gallery, beside the pulpit, and heard very well. His text was, “Now the God of Peace—;” the last Hebrews, and the 20th verse: he making a very good sermon, and very little reflections in it to any thing of the times. Besides the sermon, I was very well pleased with the sight of a fine lady that I have often seen walk inGraye’s Inn Walks, and it was my chance to meet her again at the door going out, and very pretty and sprightly she is, and I believe the same thatmy wife and I some years since did meet at Temple Bar gate and have sometimes spoke of. So to Madam Turner’s, and dined with her. She had heard Parson Herring take his leave; tho’ he, by reading so much of the Common Prayer as he did, hath cast himself out of the good opinion of both sides. After dinner to St. Dunstan’s again; and the church quite crowded before I came, which was just at one o’clock; but I got into the gallery again, but stood in a crowd and did exceedingly sweat all the time. He pursued his text again very well; and only at the conclusion told us, after this manner: “I do believe that many of you do expect that I should say something to you in reference to the time, this being the last time that possibly I may appear here. You know it is not my manner to speak any thing in the pulpit that is extraneous to my text and business; yet this I shall say, that it is not my opinion, fashion, or humour that keeps me from complying with what is required of us; but something which, after much prayer, discourse, and study yet remains unsatisfied, and commands me herein. Wherefore, if it is my unhappiness not to receive such an illumination as should direct me to do otherwise, I know no reason why men should not pardon me in this world, and am confident that God will pardon me for it in the next.” And so he concluded. Parson Herring read a psalm and chapters before sermon; and one was the chapter in the Acts, where the story of Ananias and Sapphira is. And after he had done, says he, “This is just the case of England at present. God he bids us to preach, and men bid us not to preach; and if we do, we are to be imprisoned and further punished. All that I can say to it is, that I beg your prayers, and the prayers of all good Christians, for us.” This was all the exposition he made of the chapter in these very words, and no more. I was much pleased with Dr. Bates’s manner of bringing in the Lord’s Prayer after his own; thus, “In whose comprehensive words we sum up all our imperfect desires; saying, ‘Our Father,’” &c. Church being done and it raining I took a hackney coach and so home, being all in a sweat and fearful of getting cold. To my study atmy office, and thither came Mr. Moore to me and walked till it was quite dark. Then I wrote a letter to my Lord Privy Seale as from my Lord for Mr.———- to be sworn directly by deputy to my Lord, he denying to swear him as deputy together with me. So that I am now clear of it, and the profit is now come to be so little that I am not displeased at my getting off so well. He being gone I to my study and read, and so to eat a bit of bread andcheese and so to bed. I hear most of the Presbyters took their leaves to-day, and that the City is much dissatisfied with it. I pray God keep peace among us, and make the Bishops careful of bringing in good men in their rooms, or else all will fly a-pieces; for bad ones will not [go] down with the City.