K:JNWTS 29/2 (September 2014):11

Simeon Ashe on God’s Mercy[1]

Whatever we have is not merit, but bounty; the least bit of bread is more than God owes us; we can bring fagots to our own burning, but not one flower to the garland of our salvation: he that hath the least mercy will die in God’s debt.[2]

[1] Simeon Ashe (†1662) was appointed a member of the Westminster Assembly in 1643, replacing Josiah Shute (1588-1643) who died before the Assembly convened (July 1, 1643). For his Puritan and Reformed convictions, Ashe had been ejected from his living because he refused to read King Charles I’s declaration for Sunday sports from his pulpit in 1633 (a republication of the infamous 1618 Book of Sports of his father, James I). As this declaration was royal authorization of the desecration of the Lord’s day Sabbath, many Puritans refused to obey the king and suffered for it. What became enshrined in the Westminster Standards anent the Christian Sabbath was anathema to the royal party (a position which, in part, contributed to the outbreak of the English Civil War). Ashe was present at the first battle of that war—Edgehill, October 1642. Here he was Chaplain to Edward Montagu, Earl of Manchester (1602-1671), who was commander of a Parliamentary regiment of foot soldiers. Ashe subsequently became rector of St. Austin’s (i.e., Augustine of England, †ca. 604) in London from 1655 until his death. While supportive of the Parliamentary cause, he refused the Cromwellian Protectorate and welcomed Charles II back to England (at Breda) in 1660. Ashe was responsible for preserving and publishing John Ball’s very important work on the Covenant of Grace. See the sketch of his career in James Reid, Memoirs of the Lives and Writings of those Eminent Divines, who Convened at the Famous Assembly at Westminster, in the Seventeenth Century; cf. also DNB.

[2] A Treatise on Divine Contentment (1841) 215. The work bears the signature of Ashe in “The Epistle to the Reader” and “To the Christian Reader” and is dated May 3, 1653 (pp. viii and xiv respectively).