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An Exposition Upon the Epistle to the Colossians

An Exposition Upon the Epistle to the Colossians

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Excerpt from An Exposition Upon the Epistle to the Colossians: Being the Substance of Near Seven Years Week-Day Sermons

The author of this volume was a man of notes, and a member of a notable family. His father was minister of Stratford-on-Avon; but it appears that his incumbency there began several years after Shakespeare had left the town. As, however, Nicholas is said to have been born in Warwickshire seventeen years before his father's settlement in Stratford, it is not improbable that the father may have been curate there, or in some neighbouring village, in which case the poet may have been one of his hearers. The life of our author was comparatively short, so that even Anthony a Wood acknowledges with astonishment the amount of work that he did in so short a time. The facts of his life are given with sufficient detail in this author's account of him. We, therefore, content ourselves with merely subjoining it: -

"N. Byfield, son of Richard Byfield (who became minister of Stratford-upon-Avon in January 1596), was born in Warwickshire, became a batler or a servitor of Exeter College in Lent Term, anno 1596, aged seventeen at least; continued under a severe discipline more than four years, but never took a degree. Afterwards, entering into the sacred function, he left the University, and had intentions to go into Ireland to obtain preferment in the Church, but at Chester, in his way thither, he was, upon the delivery of a noted sermon at that place, invited to be pastor of St Peter's Church there; which invitation being esteemed by him as a great providence, he willingly accepted; so that, continuing there several years a constant preacher, was much followed and admired by the precise party, who esteemed his preaching profitable and his life pious. He was a strict observer of the Lord's-day at that place, and preached and wrote for the sincere observance of it, which caused some pens to be active against him, particularly that of Edward Breerwood, who, being a native of that city, was sometimes his auditor. At length, being called thence, he had the benefice of Isleworth, in Middlesex, conferred on him, where he remained to his dying day. He was a person, in the opinion of the zealots, of profound judgment, strong memory, sharp wit, quick invention, and of unwearied industry; also, that in his ministry he was powerful, and that unto all turns and upon all occasions, not only at Chester, but at Isleworth, where his preaching and expounding were very frequent. The books that he hath written are these: -

Assurance of God's Love and Man's Salvation.
Exposition of Colossians: Substance of near Seven Years' Week-day Sermons at Chester.
Directions for Private Reading of Scripture.
How a Godly Christian may Support his Heart with Comfort.

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