Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Day in the Life of Oliver Heywood While Imprisoned for the Faith

Oliver Heywood, English Puritan (1630-1702), was a remarkable man by any measure. Through his diaries we know that he "preached 3,027 sermons, kept 1,256 fasts, observed 314 thanksgiving days, and traveled 31,345 miles during the course of his [50-year] ministry" (Joel R. Beeke & Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans, p. 343). I will come back to the fact that he, like other Puritans, kept a diary, and what significance Puritans placed on this exercise, but for now I want to highlight an extract from his diary written in 1685 which describes a typical day spent while he served time in prison for nonconformity (his wife was jailed with him part of the time):

(1) After our rising, we kneeled down; I went to prayer with my wife; (2) she in her closet, I in my chamber, went to secret prayer alone; (3) then I read a chapter in the Greek Testament, while I took a pipe; (4) then read a chapter in the Old Testament with Poole's Annotations; (5) then writ a little, here [diary], or elsewhere; (6) at ten o'clock I read a chapter in Proverbs; went to prayer with my wife, as family prayer; (7) then writ in some book or treatise I composed, till dinner; (8) after dinner, Mr. Whitaker and I read our turns for an hour in Fox's Acts and Monuments, last edition; (9) then went to my chamber; if my wife was absent I spent an hour in secret prayer; God helped usually; (10) after supper we read in Book of Martyrs; study, go to prayer; we read in Baxter's Paraphrase on the New Testament.

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