Lancashire’s Valley of Achor

John Angier, the godly puritan minister of Denton, Lancashire, wrote the following book, the lengthy title of which is rather splendid:

Lancashires valley of Achor, is Englands doore of hope: set wide open, in a brief history, of the wise, good, and powerfull hand of divine providence, ordering and managing the militia of Lancashire; not onely to the preservation, but exaltation of a poor, and praying people, in two hundreds; against, and above a considerable armie, of popish, and ill-affected persons in foure hundreds: Wherein the strift [sic] of piety and providence, with impiety and humane strength, in the weaknesse of means, unto graduall, and compleate victory, is laid out; to advance gods praise, and advantage Englands faith. By a well-wisher to the peace of the land, and piety of the church.

Suffice to say, it is usually shortened to Lancashire’s Valley of Achor, which is almost a pity, seeing as the title is itself a good sermon. Achor was the valley in Joshua 7 in which Achan was slain. Good Master Angier was reflecting on our county’s sufferings in the civil wars, and his opening lines I share (with punctuation added and spellings updated when the original intrudes upon the meaning):

LANCASHIRES Houre of sad Temptation, AND Joyfull Issue.

God’s eternall Counsells about his Church, are in time turned into Promises, Promises into Prayers, Prayers into Providences, and Providences into Praises. Providence is the glasse of God’s Attributes, and Promises, of the Saints’ grace, Graces and Prayers: It is the wealth and wages of time present, the treasure and encouragement of time future. The recording of providences is not the least portion of God’s praise, of our duty, of posterities patrimony.

The free, and full, and joint trading of spirituall Merchants, in the precious commodity of Prayers in these last yeers, (wherein sin in the enemies, and grace in the Saints strove for victory) was sure to bring in with returns. Is it not even so? Let Scotland speak, England, the City, the Parliament. And can Lancashire say nothing? I am charged to bring in this Testimony, which I shall do (God shining upon my way) orderly and clearly, according to best information.

The wise God (resolved to raise a double-glorious work in this forlorne Countie, of ruine to the evil, and of rest to the good) forelaid a double-foundation, of sin in the enemy, and humiliation in his people. That was a Series of injustice, with the effects and attendants: This a course of repentance in publike Fasting and Prayer; both held paralell from first to last.

Well this county is again forlorn and in need of a doubly glorious work of grace. The enemies of gospel truth are much multiplied, and the saints weak and worldly. May the good God of heaven work again in our land and shire.