William Gouge (1575-1653)A puritan, English Presbyterian minister and member of the Westminster Assembly.
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“Ministers are herein to imitate God, and, to their best endeavour, to instruct people in the mysteries of godliness, and to teach them what to believe and practice, and then to stir them up in act and deed, to do what they are instructed to do. Their labor otherwise is likely to be in vain. Neglect of this course is a main cause that men fall into as many errors as they do in these days.”
A Commentary on the whole Epistle to the Hebrews, Volume 1. (408 pages) PDF Internet Archive
This volume covers Hebrews 1-5.
A Commentary on the whole Epistle to the Hebrews, Volume 2. (388 pages) PDF Internet Archive
This volume covers Hebrews 6-10.
A Commentary on the whole Epistle to the Hebrews, Volume 3. (404 pages) PDF Internet Archive
This volume covers Hebrews 11-13. Gouge died before he could complete this volume; his eldest son Thomas completed the commentary on Hebrews 13.
The Complete Armour of God. (766 pages) PDF Puritan Downloads
Together with “Domestical Duties”.
Of Domestical Duties. (339 pages)
A series of eight treatises:
1. The Scriptural Basis for Domestical Duties
2. Of Husband and Wife, mutual duties betwixt man and wife
3. Of Wives’ Particular Duties
4. Of Husbands’ Particular Duties
5. Duties of Children
6. Duties of Parents
7. Duties of Servants
8. Duties of Master
An Exposition on the Whole Fifth Chapter of St. John’s Gospel. (388 pages) PDF Puritan Downloads
Also includes notes on John 3:29-36; certain verses from Mark 1-2; Luke 3:19-20; James 4:7; Genesis 2:9; Genesis 7:23; Exodus 12:8,11,14-16; Psalm 30:2; parts of Ephesians 5-6.
God’s Three Arrows: Plague, Famine, Sword. (494 pages) PDF Puritan Downloads
Three treatises based on Ezekiel 6:11
1. A Plaister for the Plague
2. Dearth’s Death
3. The Church’s Conquest over the Sword.
L’Armure Complete de Dieu. (616 pages) PDF Google Books
The Whole Armour of God in French. Ephesians 6:10-20.
Mercy’s Memorial. (31 pages) PDF Puritan Downloads
A sermon preached November 17, 1644, celebrating deliverance from Queen Elizabeth’s persecution. Exodus 13:43.
A Recovery from Apostacy. (97 pages) PDF Puritan Downloads
The Right Way, or, A Direction for Obtaining Good Success in a Weighty Enterprise. (43 pages) PDF Puritan Downloads
Preached before Parliament on September 12, 1648. Ezra 8:21.
The Sabbath’s Sanctification. (46 pages) PDF Puritan Downloads
The Works of William Gouge. (766 pages) PDF Puritan Downloads
Contains both “Domestical Duties” and “The Complete Armour of God”.
Not available online:
1. The Saint’s Support. A sermon preached to Parliament in 1642.
2. A Short Catechism.
3. The Dignitie of Chiualrie. A sermon to the artillery company of London, preached in 1626.
4. The Progress of Divine Providence.
Biography of William Gouge (1575-1653):
William Gouge was an excellent divine was born in Stratford, Bow, in the county of Middlesex, Nov. 1, 1575. His father was Mr. Thomas Gouge, a pious gentleman. His mother was the religious daughter of one Mr. Nicholas Culverel, a merchant in London; and sister of those two famous preachers, Mr. Samuel and Mr. Ezekiel Culverel Her two sisters were married to those two famous divines, Dr. Chadderton, master of Emanuel college, and Dr. Whitaker, the learned and devout professor of divinity in Cambridge. In his younger years he was. first trained up in St. Paul’s school, London, and afterwards was sent to the free school at Felstead, in Essex, where he was led on for three years Under the public ministry of his uncle, Mr. Ezekiel Culverel, and thereby much wrought upon, and if not first begotten, yet much built up in his holy faith, as himself often expressed. From thence he was sent to Eton, where he was instructed for six years, during which time he was more than ordinarily studious and industrious; for, when other scholars upon play-days took their liberty for their sports and pastimes, he would be at his study, in which he took more delight than they could do at their recreations. At this time, when he was a scholar of Eton, he was possessed with an holy fear of God, conscionable in secret prayer and sanctifying the Sabbath, and much grieved at the ordinary profanation thereof by public sports and recreations, then too much allowed; as often in his life-time, with much thankfulness unto God, he took occasion to express.
From Eton he was chosen to King’s college, in Cambridge, whither he went, Anno 1595; where he first addicted himself to Ramus’s logic, and therein grew so expert, as in the schools he publicly maintained him; insomuch as once upon a time, when several sophisters set themselves to vilify Ramus, to which end the respondent put up this question, Nunquam erit magnus, cui Ramus est magnus; and knowing our William Gouge to be an acute disputant and a stiff defender of Ramus, they came to the divinity schools, where he was hearing an act, and told him how they were abusing Ramus. He thereupon went into the sophisters’ schools, and upon the moderator’s calling for another opponent, he stepped up, and brought such an argument as stumbled the respondent; whereupon the moderator took upon him to answer, but could not satisfy the doubt. A sophister standing by, said with a loud voice, ‘ Do ye come to vilify Ramus, and cannot answer a Ramist’s argument?’ Whereupon the moderator rose up and gave him a box on the ear; then the school was all in an uproar, but our Author was safely conveyed out from among them. In the time of his scholarship, he was moderator of the sophisters’ acts in the public schools, and began every act with a solemn speech of his own in Latin, whereby much grace was added to the act, which was not usual in those days.
He took his degrees in order, performing for every one of them all the acts publicly in the public schools, which the statute required. He continued for three years together so close in the college, as not to lye one night out of the walls thereof. At three years’ end he was made fellow, and then went to visit his friends. He was a very close student, for he was a lover of learning, very laborious in his studies, sitting up late at night, and rising up early in the morning. He lived in the college nine years, and in all that time (except when he went out of town to his friends) he was never absent from morning prayers in the chapel, which used to be half an hour before six. He used to rise so long before he went to the chapel, as to gain time for his secret devotions, and for reading his morning task of Scripture; for he tied himself to read every day fifteen chapters in English of the Scriptures, five in the morning, five after dinner, before he fell upon his ordinary studies, and five before he went to bed. He hath been often heard to say, that when he could not sleep in the night time, he would in his mind run through distinct chapters of Scripture in their order, as if he had heard them read, so deceiving the tediousness of his waking, and depriving himself also sometimes of the sweetness of his sleeping hours, though by a better and greater sweetness; for he found the meditation of the word to be sweeter to him than sleep.[This also he would do in the day time when he was alone, either within doors or without doors. For this end he wrote in a little book, which he always carried about him, the distinct heads of every particular passage in every chapter of the Bible; that when, in any place, he meditated on the Scripture, and stuck, he presently helped himself by that little book. Whereby he made himself so expert in the text, that if he heard but a phrase of Scripture, he could tell the place where it was. Besides, he had his particular times to study the difficult places of Scripture, that he might find out the true meaning of them; and, by this means, through the divine blessing, he attained to a great exactness in the knowledge of them. He was not only close to his own studies, but would also send for others, whom he observed to be ingenuous and willing, in order to instruct them in scholastical exercises, whereby he was a great help to many, and brought them to be better students.]
While he was a scholar in King’s college, there was a Jew in Cambridge, who was entertained in several colleges to teach the Hebrew tongue, and, among others, in King’s college. William Gouge took the opportunity to be instructed by him, which many others of that college likewise did: But many of them soon grew weary, and left him; only Mr. Gouge held close to him, as long as he tarried. But when he was gone, they that had left him, discerning their folly, came to Mr. Gouge, and entreated him to instruct them in the grounds of Hebrew; which accordingly he did, whereby he became himself very expert therein. His mind was so addicted to the university, that he was resolved to have spent many more years than he did there, if not his whole future time. But his father, after he had been two or three years master of arts, much against his mind, took him from the university, upon a marriage which he had prepared for him. God, by his providence, turned this to the good of his church; for by this means, though it was late before he entered upon his ministry, it is very probable that he entered upon and exercised that function many years sooner than otherwise he would. He was in the thirty-second year of his age, when he commenced public preacher, and had received both knowledge and experience for himself, before he ventured to treat of them for others.
His wife was the daughter of Mr. Henry Caulton, a citizen and mercer of London, but an orphan when he married her. To her care he committed the providing for his family; himself only minding his studies, and the weighty affairs of his heavenly calling. He lived with her twenty-two years, in much love and peace, and had by her thirteen children, seven sons and six daughters, whereof eight lived to men’s and women’s estate, and were all well trained up, and sufficiently provided for. It was his earnest desire and daily prayer to God, that his six sons, that lived to men’s estates, might have been all preachers of the gospel; for he himself found such comfort and content in that calling, that he thought there could be no greater found in any other; having often professed, that the greatest pleasure he took in the world, was in the employment of his calling; insomuch as he was Wont to say to many honorable persons, and particularly to Lord Coventry, then Keeper of the Great Seal, that he envied neither his place nor employment.
The government of his family was exemplary, another Bethel, for he not only made conscience of morning and evening prayer, and reading the word in hi» family, but also of catechizing his children and
servants; servants; wherein God gave him a singular gift, for he did not teach them by any set form, but so as to bring those that were instructed to express the principles taught them in their own words. His children (as Gregory Nazianzen saith of his father) found him as well a spiritual as a bodily father. Yea, never any servant came to his house, but gained a great deal of knowledge. So likewise did many others, whose parents desired the benefit of his instructing them. He was in a special manner conscionable of the Lord’s day, and that not only in the observation of the public duties, but also in continuing the sanctification thereof by private duties of piety in his family, and secretin his closet. As he forbore providing suppers on the eve before the Sabbath, that servants might not be kept up too late, so he would never suffer any servant to tarry at home for dressing any meat on the Lord’s day for any friends, were they mean or great, few or many.
After his public sermons were ended, several neighbours (not having means in their own families) assembled in his house, where after such a familiar manner he repeated the public sermons, that some have professed, they were much more benefited by them in that repetition. than in the first hearing; for he did not use, word by word, to read out of notes what was preached, but would by questions and answers draw from those that were under his charge such points as were delivered. After which, his constant course was to visit such of his parish as were sick, or by pain and weakness disabled to go to the public ordinances. With each of these he would discourse of some heavenly and spiritual subject, suitable to their condition, and after that pray by them; wherein he had a more than ordinary gift, being able in apt words and expressions to commend their several cases to God, and to put up petitions suitable to their several needs. His usual course was to pray eight times in the public congregation on a Lord’s day; for, as he prayed before and after each sermon, so before and after his reading and expounding the Scripture, which he performed both in the forenoon and afternoon. And in his family his constant course was to pray thrice every Lord’s day, and that in a solemn manner, viz. in the morning and evening, and after his repetition of the sermons.
In the thirty-second year of his age (as we have observed) he was ordained minister, and, about a-year after, which was June, 1608, he was admitted minister .of the church of Blackfriars, London, where he continued to his dying day, which was forty-five years and six months, never having any other ministerial employment, though he was offered many great ones. His manner of coming to Blackfriars was thus: The parish being destitute of a preaching minister, one Mr. Hildersham, (possibly the excellent Mr. Arthur Hildersham, whose life we have already given) a pious and powerful preacher, being in company with some of the better sort of, Blackfriars’ parish, told them, that there was one who lived in Stratford, Bow, and had no charge, that might be fit for them: Hereupon some of them went to Stratford upon the Lord’s day, where he frequently preached gratis, to help the minister that was there at that time; and they liked him so well, that upon their report, with an unanimous consent, he was chosen their minister. He succeeded a truly excellent pastor, Mr. Stephen Egerton.
He here manifested a great respect to the inhabitants of that place. Before his coming thither, they had not so much as a church of their own to hear the word of God in, nor any place to bury their dead; but by means that he used, the church, the church porch, the minister’s house and church-yard, (all which they had before upon courtesy) were purchased; so that now, they all, as a proper inheritance, belong to the parish of Blackfriars. Five years after his coming thither, the old church being found too little for the multitudes that thronged from all parts of the city to hear him, he was a means of purchasing certain rooms, whereby the church was enlarged almost as big again as it was before. The sum of purchasing, new building, and finishing the said church, amounted to above fifteen hundred pounds, which was procured partly at his lectures, partly by his letters written to his friends, and by the contribution of the parishioners, without any brief for public collections in other places. We might say much upon this subject at the present time, respecting this highly favoured church and parish, did not the delicacy of speaking what truth would enjoin of the living forbid our saying more, than that the goodness of Goo and his particular providence have been as remarkably extended to this spot now as ever. May the same mercies be received with equal thankfulness and gratitude by the numerous people who enjoy them!
After this, there being several rooms under the said church belonging to other landlords, he used means to purchase them also to the benefit of the parish; the rather, to prevent all dangers, that by evil minded persons might have befallen God’s people in that church, by any contrivances in the rooms under the church. Thus they, who had nothing of their own at his coming, had now the whole church, the church-porch, the church-yard, a vault to bury their dead, a very fair vestry house, and other rooms adjacent, the house wherein he himself dwelt as long as he lived. All these they held as a perpetual inheritance. They had also a considerable lease of certain tenements for three hundred years; all which were procured by his means. All these buildings, with the church itself, fell in the great conflagration of 1666.
Such was his respect to his parish, that though he was often offered places of far greater profit, he refused them all; often saying, “That the height of “his ambition was to go from Blackfriars to heaven.” At his first coming to Blackfriars, being in the thirty-third year of his age, he constantly preached twice on the Lord’s day, and once weekly, on Wednesday forenoon, which was for about thirty-five years very much frequented, and that by many city ministers, and by sundry pious and judicious gentlemen of the inns of court, besides many citizens from other parishes, who in multitudes flocked to his church. Yea, such was the fame of Dr. Gouge’s ministry, that, when tbe godly Christians of those times came out of the country to London, they thought not their business done, unless they had been at Blackfriars’ lecture. In this particular, we are happy to say, that the present time may be mentioned with the past.
And such was the fruit of his ministry, that very many of his auditors, though living in other parishes, have confessed, that the first seed of grace was sown in their souls by his ministry. And herein Goo wonderfully honoured his ministry, in making him an aged father in Christ, and to beget many sons and daughters unto righteousness; for thousands have been converted and built up by his ministry. He used also monthly to preach a preparation sermon before the communion, on the eve before every monthly communion.
He was indeed eminently faithful and laborious in the work of the ministry to his dying day, preaching as long as he was able to get up into the pulpit. As a tree planted in the house of the Lord, he was fruitful even in old age. He was often wont to say in his latter days, that he could preach with more ease than he could get into the pulpit; the reason of which was doubtless from the increase of his asthma, which disenabled him to go, and from the increase of his intellectuals, which enabled him to preach with more ease than in his younger days. His preaching was always very distinct, first opening the true literal sense of the text, then giving the logical analysis thereof, then gathering such proper observations as thence arose, and lastly, profitably and pertinently applying the same; so that his ministry proved very . profitable to his hearers. Many have acknowledged, that, in a logical resolution of his text, he went beyond all that ever they heard, as also in clearing of difficult and doubtful places, as they came in his way. As his method was clear, so his expressions were plain; always delivering the solid points of divinity in a familiar style, equal to the capacity of the meanest.
With respect to his life and conversation, it was most exemplary, practicing what he preached unto others, and living over his sermons: His doctrine and his practice concurred, and went hand in hand, For his age and abilities he was esteemed the father of the London ministers, and as such honoured and beloved by them. Before the times of examination for admission to the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, he used to go to the houses of the better sort, and appoint a time for them and their whole families to meet together, when he might make trial of their fitness to the Holy Sacrament. He also appointed other small families to meet together on a certain day, then to make trial of them also. In the former time of his ministry, he never admitted any of the younger sort to the Sacrament, till he found them in his judgment fit for it. Ordinarily in the summer vacation he was with his family in the country, but not for his own ease, but rather for the good of God’s church: For, besides his preaching every Lord’s day where he was, he got time to publish those treatises which are now in print, namely, “The Whole Armour of God; Domestical Duties; An Explanation of the Lord’s Prayer; God’s Three Arrows, viz. Plague, Famine, and Sword,” on occasion of the judgments then raging; “ The Saint’s Sacrifice of thanksgiving,” upon his recovery from a dangerous sickness. To which may be added, his “ Commentary upon the whole Epistle to the Hebrews,” which was the subject of his Wednesday lectures for many years.
While he was settled at Blackfriars, he took his bachelor of divinity’s degree in the year 1611, which was the eighth year of his master of arts’ degree. And in the year 1628 he took his doctor of divinity’s degree. In which year eight ministers of London proceeded doctors; which was the occasion that Dr. Collins, the then regius professor, put up his degree, and procured it to pass in the regent-house before he had any notice thereof, or consent of his; whereby he did in a manner force him to take his degree, yet so as, when he heard that it was passed, he readily went to Cambridge, and there kept all is acts, which the statute requireth, as he had done in all his former degrees.
In the year 1643, he was by authority of parliament called to be a member of the assembly of divines, wherein his attendance was assiduous, not being observed during the whole time of that session to be one day absent, unless it were in case of more than ordinary weakness, ever preferring that public employment before all private business whatsoever. When he could not go, through infirmity of body, he would be carried to his duty. “I can study my sermon, I can preach my sermon, (said he) and shall I forbear preaching because I am too weak to go? I will rather be carried.”
He sat as one of the assessors, and very frequently filled the chair in the moderator’s absence. And such was his constant care and conscience of spending his time, and improving it to the best advantage, that he would fill up the void spaces of his assembly affairs with his own private studies. To which end it was his constant practice to bring his Bible and some other books in his pocket, which upon every occasion he would be reading, as was observed by many. He was likewise chosen by a committee of parliament, among others, to make annotations upon the Bible, being well known to be a judicious interpreter of Scripture. How well he hath performed this trust, is evident to all that read the annotations from the beginning of the first book of Kings to Job, which was his part. In which the intelligent reader will observe such skill in the original, such acquaintance with the sacred story, such judgment in giving the sense of the text, and such quickness and pertinence in raising observations, that, without the help of any other comment, a man may accommodate himself with the sense, doctrines, and uses of most of those Scriptures which came under his hand in those cursory annotations.
When the book of sports and recreations on the Lord’s day was appointed by public authority to be read in several churches throughout the nation, with several other faithful ministers, he utterly refused to read the same, resolving to suffer the utmost, rather than manifest the least approbation of such a wicked and ungodly thing, so contrary to the express letter of the Scripture. By reason of his ability and dexterity in resolving cases of conscience, he was much sought to for resolving many doubts and scruples of conscience; and that not only by ordinary Christians, but also by several ministers in city and country, and that by word of mouth and writing, being accounted (as was before said) the father of London divines, and spiritual oracle of his time. He was likewise a great comforter of troubled consciences, wherein he was exceeding skillful and dexterous, as many hundreds in the city have found time after time, being sought unto far and nearby such as groaned under afflictions and temptations; many of whom, through God’s blessing on his labours, were restored to joy and comfort, out of unspeakable terrors and torments of conscience.
He was of a most sweet and meek disposition; yea, such was his meekness of spirit, that it seemed unparalleled; for though he had lived with his wife above twenty years together, yet neither child nor servant could ever say, that they observed an angry countenance, or heard an angry word proceed from him towards her, all her life. Some have observed, that in his visage, towards his latter end, he did much resemble the picture which usually passeth for Moses’s effigy. Certainly he was the exact effigy of Moses’s spirit; and in this resembled him to the life, that he was one of the meekest men which his generation knew.
He was a great peace-keeper, and a great peace-maker, having an excellent dexterity in composing differences; far he was from doing others wrong, and far from revenging wrong done by others. He suffered much both by the speeches, and also by the actions of evil and envious persons; yet he would pray for them, rather than in any harsh way requite them. He accounted revilers and wrong doers to do more hurt to themselves than to him.
He was ever charitable, especially to the godly poor, according to the direction of the apostle Paul, in Gal. 4:10. where he exhorteth us, “To do good unto all, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” He maintained some poor scholars at the university wholly at his own charge, and contributed liberally towards the maintenance of others. He was of such a charitable and bountiful disposition, that though his father left him a competent estate, yet such were his disbursements yearly for his kindred and others who stood in need of relief, that from the death of his father, till his children came to be of years, and to call for their portions, he laid up nothing of all his comings in, so that they who out of envy cried up his estate to be greater than it was, could not but cry up his bounty and charity: because whatsoever his estate was, it was wholly laid out for the relief of such as stood in need, (necessary expenses for his family only excepted) which, as it appeared from his own papers, so in his life-time he expressed as much to some of his children. And truly, as in other things he excelled others, so in this even himself. He did not grow rich by the church, nor seek to do so, as many have done; but lived content with his own patrimonial inheritance, and the stipend of his own benefice, which he never would exchange for a greater.
He was very conscionable in spending his time, from his youth to his very death. He used to rise very early, both winter and summer. In the winter he constantly rose so long before day, that he performed all the exercises of his private devotions before day-light; and in the summer-time about four o’clock in the morning, by which means he had done half a day’s work before others had begun their studies. If he heard any at their work before he had got to hi3 study, he would say, (as Demosthenes did concerning the smith,) “That he was much troubled that any should be at their calling before he was at his.”
He was a man of much temperance and sobriety, as well in his eating and drinking, as in his apparel. As for recreations, howsoever many pious persons have allowed time therein, he spent none. He hath been often heard to say, “That he took not any journey merely for pleasure in all his life-time;” study and pains having been always, both in youth and age, his chiefest pleasure and delight: Yea, it was his meat and his drink to be doing the will of his heavenly Father, wherein he took as much pleasure and delight, as natural men do in their eating and in their drinking, or in their sports and pastimes. Such was his carriage and conversation, that there was scarce a Lord or Lady, or citizen of eminence, in or about the metropolis, that were piously affected, but they sought his acquaintance, and were ambitious of his company, wherein they took much content, and found much benefit to their souls’ welfare. And whereas many persons of quality came out of their good respect to visit him, he would endeavour so to order their conference, as that it might be profitable to edification; for if their visits were merely compliments], he accounted it a great burden to him. He was always of a very friendly and courteous-disposition, whom the meanest, not only of his parish, but of the city, found easy of access, and easy to be entreated, yea, ready to do what he could to all. He had what he used to call a Sacred Stock for the poor, which he set apart in an exact proportion to his income.
Among other graces humility was eminent in him, for he was not observed to be puffed up either with the flocks of multitudes unto his ministry, (which were .many and great) nor with any applauses of men, but would still say, “He knew more of himself to abase him, than any “could know to extol him.” What was said of Gregory Nazianzen, might with equal truth be said of him, ‘That he was high in employments and abilities, but low and lowly in his own opinion of himself.’ He used often to say, “When I look upon myself, I see nothing “but emptiness and weakness; but when I look upon “Christ, I see nothing but fullness and sufficiency.” He was much in communion with God, and did not content himself only with daily, constant, ordinary holy exercises, but was also frequent in extraordinary duties. In the bishop’s time, when it might not be permitted to keep a fast openly in the church, he was one of those ministers who frequently helped pious Christians in their private fasts. In times of fear and danger, he and others ad sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly fasts, whereof many were in his own house and vestry; which he was eminently observed to perform with extraordinary reverence and awfulness of spirit. His confessions were accompanied with much sense of sin, brokenness of heart, self-abhorrency, judging of the creature, and justifying of God. In petition very pertinent, judicious, spiritual, seasonable, accompanied with faith and fervour, like a true true son of Jacob, wrestling with tears and supplications, as resolving not to let God go without a blessing.
But none like him in thanksgiving! after a man would think he had spent the last drop of his spirit in confession and prayer, O! how he would revive and gather up his spirit, when he came to the work of thanksgiving; wherein he would be so large, particular, warm, and vigorous, that, in the end of the day, he would quicken the auditory, as if then the work had been but newly to begin, and that only had been the work of the day. Wherein he may be a pattern to all his surviving brethren in the ministry.
He was very inquisitive after the good and welfare of the church of God both at home and abroad, that accordingly he might order his prayers in their behalf, being ever mindful of them in his prayers. And when he heard it went ill with the church of God in any place, like another Nehemiah he sat him down and wept, and mourned, and fasted, and prayed unto the God of heaven in their behalf. He was not like some, of whom it has been said, That they preach so well, that it is a pity they should ever be out of the pulpit, but live so ill, that it is a pity they should ever come into it. Though he was not a Justice of Peace, he was a Minister of Peace; and if he could not (says Mr. Jenkyns, who preached his funeral sermon) hinder dissensions from being born in his parish, he usually hindered them from being long-lived.
Great was his patience under the visiting hand of God, especially in his old age, when God visited him with painful maladies. Though by reason of the bitterness of is pains by the stone, and sharpness of urine, and that lethalis arundo, (as he often called it) that deadly arrow in his side, (which he knew could never be plucked out of it but by death) I mean his asthma, which he got by an excessive cold in attending upon public employment; notwithstanding I say, by reason of these, he hath been often heard to groan, yet was he never heard once to grumble. He was never heard to call himself Great Sufferer! but Great Sinner! and he would not stop there, but would always add, Great Saviour! for his comfort. He would often say, “ Soul, be silent; soul, be patient; “it is thy Gob and father that thus ordereth thy estate; “thou art his clay, he may tread and trample on thee as “it pleaseth him; thou hast deserved much more, it is “enough that thou art kept out of hell; though thy pain *( be grievous, yet it is tolerable; thy God affords some intermissions: he will turn it to thy good, and at length “put an end to all; none of these can be expected in “hell.” In the greatest agonies, he would say, “Well, yet in all these there is nothing of hell, or God’s wrath.” He would often make mention of the extent of obedience, which, he said, “Was not only to endeavour to do what “God requireth, but also patiently to bear what God’s “will is to lay upon his creature; as Christ himself, “though he were the Son, yet learned obedience by the things “which he suffered.” In his greatest pangs he often used this speech of Job, “ Shall we receive good from the hands of God, and not evil?” He often commended his soul unto Christ, and would say, “I am persuaded that he is “able to keep that which I have committed to him against “that day.” When any of his friends went about to comfort him in those gifts which God had bestowed on him, and those works which he had wrought by him, he would answer, “ I dare not think of any such thing for comfort; *’ Jesus Christ, and what he hath done and endured, is “the only ground of my sure comfort.” Many that came to visit him in his weakness, professed that they went away better than they came, by reason of those savoury and gracious expressions that proceeded from him. Though, towards his latter end, his fits of the stone were frequent and sharp, having sometimes four or five in an hour, yet such was his desire to finish that so much desired commentary of his upon the Epistle to the Hebrews, that, so soon as the bitterness of the pain of a fit was over he returned to his work, and made some progress therein: And thus he continued labouring at his work, through much pain, till Tuesday the sixth of December 1653: About which time, as his natural strength was exceedingly decayed, so his intellectuals began to fail; and for the three following days drowsiness seized upon him, insomuch that he could not hold up his head to look into a book, but slumbered away his time in his chair; and, upon the Friday, being the third day after he had given, over his studies, inquiring what day it was, he cried out, “Alas! I have lost three days.” The day following, being Saturday, he had no desire to arise out of his bed, neither indeed could, in regard of his weakness, which was such, as he said, “Now I have not long to live in “this world, the time of my departure is at hand; I am “going to my desired haven:” the apprehension whereof was no little joy unto him; for he had often said to such of his friends as came to visit him in his sickness, “ I am most willing to die, having, I bless God, nothing to do but to die.” Indeed, he seemed sometimes to be in St. Paul’s state, between life and death, having a desire to depart, that he might be with Christ, which was far better; but yet very desirous to finish his commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, which he knew would be useful to the church of God, and in that respect was willing to live; and God So far answered his desire in that particular, that he lived to finish it within half a chapter. But when he perceived that his time in this -world would not be long, O! how sweet and joyful was the apprehension of death unto him, which he often termed, his best friend, next unto Jesus Christ. And that Saturday, though he kept his bed through weakness, yet was he more wakeful, and his spirit more lively and cheerful, than for several days before; which no doubt was from his joyful apprehension of his approaching departure. His speeches that day were more than ordinarily heavenly, speaking much in admiration of the freeness of God’s grace, and riches of his mercy in Jesus Christ.
As while he lived, he led an heavenly life, so, about the time of his death, by those comforts and joys that he found in his soul, he seemed to be in heaven while he was upon earth; and thus continued full of sweet comfort and heavenly expressions to the last of his understanding and speech, which continued till Monday morning, when both failed him; from which time he lay breathing, but shorter and shorter, till eight o’clock that night; about which time, in the presence of all his children and friends, he quietly slept in the Lord, making an happy change from earth to heaven, December 12, 1653, being seventy-nine years old, having served God faithfully and painfully in his generation.
In the laborious life of this faithful minister, ‘ Who (as Mr. Jenkyns said of him) was not worn out with rust, but with whetting,’ we see the love and care of Jesus, the Bishop of souls, to his church, in fulfilling his own promise, ** I will give you pastors according to mine heart, “who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.” O! how ought we to love and praise our heavenly shepherd for this! May the parish of Blackfriars see their present mercy, in having the sound of the gospel continued among them! May they love and pray for him who is set over them in the Lord! and while they praise the Lord for this distinguishing mercy, may they be deeply concerned to receive the truth as it is in Jesus, in the love of it, and to walk worthy of it in their lives and conversations!
As a specimen of his style and spirit, we will subjoin the Epistle Dedicatory of his book, entitled, “The Whole Armour of God.”
“To the right honorable S. Sebastian Harvey, Knt. Lord Mayor of the honourable City of London, and to the right worshipful Aldermen and Sheriffs, his brethren, and to the right worshipful Mr. Recorder, together with the whole estate of the said City, all true happiness.
“Right Honourable, Right Worshipful,
“Your honour and worships being, (by the good guiding providence of God) the general, captains, and lieutenants of this metropolis, this chief city and castle of the kingdom, wherein (by the same providence) I am, though one of the meanest, yet one of the watchmen: To whom ought I rather to present these fruits of my watchman’s function, than unto your honour and worships? As duty, in regard of your places, so gratitude also in regard of your kindnesses, require as much. My father, grandfather, and other predecessors, have of old, from time to time, been beholden to this honorable city: The kindness which they formerly received is still continued to me: Which, as I do, with all humble thankfulness, acknowledge, so from my heart I desire the Almighty to remember your honour and worships, together with the whole estate of this honorable city, in goodness; and not to wipe out the kindness which is shewed to the ministers of his word, and to poor distressed people.
“Long hath the gospel been purely, powerfully, plentifully preached in this honorable city, and great countenance and maintenance hath, by many therein, been given thereunto. Good orders have, in these later years, been taken for the better sanctifying of the Lord’s Sabbath. Much relief is from time to time given to the poor. These, and such like works of piety and charity, are the beauty, honour, strength, and wealth of this city.
“I deny not, but that in the outward politic government of this great corporation, and the many different companies therein, London may be accounted the glory of the earth. But the things which make it exceed in glory, are, the fair houses of prayer and preaching the word; the great assemblies of God’s people frequenting the same to worship God; the spacious hospitals and places of charity, together with the liberal provision therein made for relief of poor children and orphans, of aged and impotent men and women, of lame and maimed soldiers, and of many other like succourless persons; and the thrones of justice and judgment, with the like, wherein London may be compared to Zion, the city of God, of which great and excellent things are spoken. Right honorable and right worshipful, go on this way, which is the only right way, to procure the peace and prosperity of your city. Let the ministry of God’s word be more and more promoted: Let the Lord’s Sabbaths be duly observed: Let the poor be relieved, and the oppressed be succored: Let profane persons, and all evil doers (the enemies of Christian policies) be punished: In a word, let God’s ordinances be advanced, and right judgment executed, and so shall London be accounted the “city of the great King,” where he will delight to dwell, and bestow his blessing. For in these things is God highly honoured. Now God, who can and will perform it, hath said it, Them that honour me -will I honour.
“It lieth much in the power of magistrates to procure or hinder the blessing of God, in those cities and places over which they preside. For they being public persons, their good deeds are by the wise God publicly rewarded, and their evil deeds publicly revenged.
“Right honorable and right worshipful, accept, I pray you, the duty, and pardon the boldness of your watchman. And, O Lord of lords, do good to this city of thine; con,, tinue the peace and prosperity thereof: So prayeth
“Your honours’, and worships’,”
From Blackfriars, London,
December 31st, 1618.
Mr. Leigh calls him a learned and pious divine, and says he was a good textuary, and often honorably mentioned by Voetius, and other eminent foreign divines. He also adds, That he would begin his prayer very audibly and distinctly, which was the more commendable, because of his great congregation at Blackfriars. See his “Treatise of Religion and Learning,” p. 211.