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IN RETIREMENT HIS DEATH.
And he whose mild persuasive voice
Why comes he not to bear his part,
A band that cannot spare
And Heaven accepts his prayer.
"I Hope we have learned," said Dr. Hammond, " to want, as well as to abound, and to trust God, that can feed the young ravens when the old have exposed them, for the feeding of us and of our families, though all our present means of doing it were taken from us." These were his words at an early period of those troubles, and now he found that his expectation was not in vain. A small patrimony, which the hand of oppression had not reached, gave him something to expend in charity, and sir John and "the good lady" Pakington ministered to his comfort at Westwood with the greatest kindness.
His disposition and attainments were such as to make him an acceptable inmate of that mansion; his temper was remarkably placid; his tongue free from guile; his mind was active, sensible, and well informed; he had a pleasant and easy way of expressing himself in conversation; and he had a good voice and a taste for music, and could sing a little.
It was not long after his arrival at Westwood that the fatal battle of Worcester took place; and before the engagement he waited on Charles the second, and received from that prince a letter expressive of his attachment to the Church of England, in whose faith his royal father had lived, suffered, and died.
When the king escaped after that unhappy defeat, Dr. Hammond gratefully acknowledged the mercy of God, and prayed that the Lord, who had thus powerfully rescued the king out of Egypt, would not suffer him to perish in the wilderness; but though his passage be through the Red Sea, He would at last bring him into Canaan, and that he might come out of his tribulations, as gold out of the fire, purified but not consumed."
Dr. Hammond's studies now proceeded without many interruptions; he rose from his bed at four or five o'clock, rarely so late as six, and did not retire to rest till midnight ; for he was both fond of learned research, and so sensible of the snares which lay in the path of idleness, that he had acquired a deep aversion to it, and always besought others to shun its dangers. Even while he dressed, his servant read to him, and in this way he became acquainted with the contents of several volumes; and as he took his walk through the shady avenues which surrounded the mansion of Westwood, a book was his constant companion. To the end of his days he husbanded his time, acting upon the maxim, that we should take care of our minutes, and "thinking it a great folly to spend that time in gazing upon business which should have served for the doing of it."
He principally devoted himself to the study of theology and church-history; and some of the most pious, learned, and moderate works of the day were the fruits of his reading and reflection. If he erred, it was not designedly, or for want of due meditation and prayer; and when his opinions excited angry feelings or occasioned intemperate language in others, he who had been careful to "draw the teeth" as he termed(jt, (that is, to avoid giving just provocation to any person in his writings,) rendered neither evil for evil, nor railing for railing. So greatly had he gained the mastery over his temper, that some persons who were his companions during the ten latter years of his life never heard him utter an intemperate expression; and Dr. Fell observes that several of his antagonists were led by the mild spirit in which he wrote to regret the violence which disfigured their own productions.
To be peaceable, gentle, and full of good fruits, was his idea of a christian's duty, and he endeavoured to shut out the temptations to neglect these things by frequent communion with God. Considering that at Westwood his time was at his own disposal, he devoted the more of it to the Father which seeth in secret, and his seasons of prayer exceeded David's seven times a day; these he so religiously observed, that if any necessary business or charity had encroached upon the time, he repaired the loss by absenting himself from the family repast. Nor were these devotions cold and wearisome in consequence of their frequency ; he was truly fervent in spirit; and in the ordinary services of the church, which so many reproached with being tame and lifeless, tears often ran down his face.
In his private prayers he not only made known his own wants, but likewise interceded for the whole race of mankind. He could not approve of "that thrift and narrowness of mind to which we are so prone, confining our care either to ourselves and relatives, or at most, to those little angles of the world that most immediately concern us." He therefore pleaded in behalf of those who were in any manner of adversity; for the sick and needy; for the clergy and suffering royalists; for the persecutors of his brethren; and for those who had done him any injury; and he was never satisfied that he had really forgiven such persons until he had asked pardon for them from God.
The family at Westwood assembled twice a-day for prayer, using the services of the church of England; and Dr. Hammond, by his own desire, conducted their devotions. In addition to this, he preached a sermon on the Sunday mornings, and persisted in this work of the ministry even when illness rendered it scarcely possible. In the afternoon he catechised the children, inviting the servants to be present, and adapting his instructions to the capacities of both. And so strongly did he feel the importance of what he expressed on those occasions, that he was grieved if the seed appeared to be sown by the way-side; and often under these disappointments retired to his closet, to inquire whether they might not be attributed to some defect in himself, which by due care he might remedy.
He also invited any of the household to private interviews for conversation upon religious subjects; and when they came, encouraged them in a most condescending and kind manner to speak their minds; and then, having patiently listened to their difficulties, he proceeded to use his best efforts to remove them. And when he heard that any were sick, he soon found out their chamber, and endeavoured to stablish, strengthen, and settle them in the faith and fear of God.
The same desire to promote personal religion was manifested by his efforts in the neighbourhood. He knew that the soul was beyond all other possessions in value
and wished that men were wise enough to ponder this truth and to live accordingly. He deeply lamented that so many were betrayed in that age into careless and irreligious courses; and, in his endeavours to lead any into the way of peace, he would exclaim —" O, what a glorious thing—how rich a prize for the expense of a man's whole life were it—to be the instrument of rescuing any one soulI" He therefore went about as one who watched for souls, because he believed that " spiritual conference, which is at all times very profitable, yea, and pleasant to every diligent humble student," is highly conducive to the " countermining and eradicating of sin, mortifying this or that passion, rage, or other sensual desire, and contending for the highest exaltation and improvement of our natures, all growth in grace, and the practical knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
The young were now, as they ever had been, particularly interesting to him; he thought that they should be led early into the paths of righteousness, and that this would be the most likely way of bringing about a national reformation. At one time he had proposed that every pastor should pursue a regular course of instruction in the doctrines and duties of the Gospel "with all the youth of his parish which had not yet come to the Lord's Supper :" and although these endeavours might be thrown away upon many, yet he considered that, through the blessing of God, an abundant harvest would repay the toil of this spiritual husbandry, thus pursued towards the young and tender plants in the vineyard. Being thrust out of his parochial charge, he was precluded from acting on such a plan; but the mind which proposed it was not less intent upon promoting the spiritual welfare of the young by such means as yet remained within his power.