April 2: The First to Suffer in the Three Kingdoms
"Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy"
The day is lost to history, even church history. No one, no book has it listed down. But we know the month and the year. It was April in 1661 in Ulster, or Northern Ireland.
On some day of that month of April then, in the year of 1661, faithful and godly Presbyterian ministers in what we know as Northern Ireland, or Ulster, were ejected from their pulpits, their manses, and their salaries by the Church of England. They were the first Presbyterian ministers to suffer this ejection in the three kingdoms of Northern Ireland, England, and Scotland. Why were they thrown out first? Some have answered that the old form of church government to say nothing of worship were still the norm in Ulster. It was just a matter of time before the Anglican church would lay down the law, so to speak, and eject Presbyterian ministers from its pulpits. In both England and Scotland, that church form and worship had been abolished by the parliament, with even the Common book of prayer replaced, at least for a time.
But on one day in April, 1661, close to seventy Presbyterian ministers were ordered to obey the crown of England, or leave their pulpits. There was no gratitude for what they had accomplished for the Savior in previous years. In many cases, they and their Scottish followers had come into the area, rework the barren fields into plots of industry and farming, repair the churches which had fallen into disrepair from years of neglect, and even revive the people of the land to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. But with all this spiritual success, the thought of Presbyterian doctrine and government being preached and lived in Ulster didn't set right with the Anglican folks. So these faithful ministers were banned from five separate Presbyteries and their local churches, and their parishes. Only seven Presbyterian ministers conformed to prelacy and kept their pulpits and their parishes, including their incomes.
It was a sad day for the Presbyterian church in Ireland.
Words to Live By:
The names of those who were ejected from Ulster's churches and presbyteries are still recorded in the record books of the Presbyterian Church. It is also recorded in the history books the names of these few ministers who decided to accept the temporary favors of the Church of England. Of far more importance of course is that fact that our names are recorded in heaven for faithfulness to God's truth. Let us ever seek to please Him first and foremost.