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He gained their affection and confidence; he then represented to them the beauty, pleasure, and advantage, of a pious life, and the deformity and misery of sinful courses. Such were the sentiments which he mingled with his other instructions to sir John Pakington's children, (for he devoted the interval between morning prayer and dinner to their education); and such he endeavoured to instil into the minds of all whom he met. He also strenuously warned them against being ashamed of their religion. "You ought to be as open," he would say, "in your regard for the Gospel, and as bold in leading others to God, as wicked men are in serving the cause of Satan. Instead of always acting on the defensive part, you should be forward to attack the enemy, and this you will find not only a great service to your neighbours but the best security for yourselves." Nothing was in his estimation more dangerous in the christian's warfare than a truce and the cessation of hostilities; and he considered a parley with sin of any degree to be no less than treason against God and our own souls. Hence he went on to say—" While we fight with sin we shall be safe, even in the fiercest shock of opposition, for no attempts can hurt us till we treat with the assailants; temptations of all sorts having that good quality of the devil in them, to fly when they are resisted." Such remarks he would make to persons of all ages, but he found that young and unestablished christians particularly required these cautions and encouragements. And when he wished to give to any young person a few memorable words of advice, he would say —" Withstand the first overtures of sin; be intent and serious in what is good; and make choice of a wise and virtuous friend."
Dr. Hammond was a frequent visitor of the sick in the neighbourhood. "The time of sickness," he observes,
"or any other affliction, is like the cool of the day to Adam, a season of peculiar propriety for the voice of God to be heard in the mouth of his messengers, and so may, by the assistance of united prayers for God's blessing on his own instruments, be improved into a very advantageous opportunity of begetting or increasing spiritual life in the soul; and cannot, without great guilt of unkindness and treachery to that most precious part, be neglected or omitted by us." In performing this office he often encountered the danger of infection without fear, for he felt that "he should be as much in God's hands in the sick man's chamber as in his own."
His mode of dealing with those who, after spending their lives in sin, professed to repent at the last, is worthy of particular attention. "The course I would prescribe to others or observe myself," he says, "is .... not presently to make haste to apply comfort to that man, (meaning by comfort, words of pardon, or promise or assurance that his sins in this state shall certainly be forgiven); but to dispense my comfort discreetly, and so that I may lay a foundation on which he may more safely build, and I more infallibly ascertain comfort to him; I mean by preparing him to a right capacity of it, by increasing yet farther in his heart, and rooting as deep as I can, the mourning which, if sincere, hath the promise of comfort (Matt . v. 4.), the sorrow for sin, the humiliation and indignation at himself, the vehement desire, the zeal, the revenge, the all manner of effects of godly sorrow, and indeed by doing my utmost in perfecting this so necessary work in him; which if by the help of God it be done, and those graces deeply rooted—through a consideration not only of the instant danger, but detestable ugliness of sin, the provocation offered to a most gracious Father, and most merciful Redeemer, and sanetifying Spirit, together with all the other humbling matter from the particular sins and aggravating circumstances of them — it will then be that godly sorrow which the apostle speaks of, and that will, if God afford space, bring forth that repentance which consists in a sincere change and reformation, a change or amendment which will not be retracted; and then there is no doubt that to him which is in this estate mercy infallibly belongs, and to him I shall then hasten to ascertain it [declare it]. And yet of this mercy, if I, through some error or neglect of mine, should not give him—nor he himself, through the greatness of his sorrow, the flood of tears in his eyes, otherwise find—any comfortable assurance, yet is he by God's immoveable promise sure to be partaker; and all that he loses by not being assured of it here by me, or by his own spirit, is the present comfort and joy of some few minutes, which will soon be repaired and made up to him at death by God's wiping off all tears from his eyes .... with a Come thou blessed of my Father, thou hast cordially mourned and [been] converted, and thou shalt be comforted. Whereas, if I should go about too hastily and preposterously to grant him any such comfortable assurance that he were already accepted — I mean not now that he should be accepted if his change be sincere or his sorrow such as would bring forth that change, for that conditional comfort I have all this while allowed him, but positive assurance for the present upon a view of such his sorrow — I might then possibly raise him up too soon, before the work were done, the plant rooted deep enough; and that were utter ruin to him by giving him his good things, his comfort, here, to deprive him of it eternally; or at the best, refresh him here a little beforehand, but not at all advantage him toward another life And so the best way must be to humble him unto the dust, if so be there may be hope; to set him this only task of working out his salvation with fear and trembling, laying hold on God's mercy in Christ, his general but conditional mercy for all penitent purifying sinners, for confessors and forsakers, and none else, and so labouring for that sorrow, that purity, that confession, contrition, and forsaking."
Feelingly alive to the danger and uncertainty of what is called a death-bed repentance, Dr. Hammond made his visits in such cases with a heavy heart. His conduct on one occasion may serve to illustrate the preceding remarks. A gentleman who had spent an evil life, apprehending that death was near at hand, desired to have an interview with Dr. Hammond. The friends of the sick man neglected his wishes, and did not send for the minister until the patient was in the last agonies of death. When Dr. Hammond arrived, he saw that nothing could then be done except to pray for the departing spirit, and to warn the living by the example of the dying; he therefore fervently besought God to pardon the poor object before him; lamented that so little account should be taken of an immortal soul; and entreated that others, and in particular the companions of that unhappy person's vice, might learn by this example " how improper a season the time of sickness, and how unfit a place the death-bed is, for that one great important work of penitence, which was intended by Almighty God to be the one commensurate work of the whole life."
Although Dr. Hammond's income was now very small, he still reserved a portion of it for the poor; he always "came down with exceeding alacrity when it was told him that a poor body would speak with him ;" and listened with kind attention to the tale of woe. Others he found out in the course of his walks; and some were made known to him by persons whom he requested to recommend proper objects. One anecdote will illustrate this part of his character better than the longest description of it.
The piety of a poor and sickly weaver, named Houseman, who lived near Westwood, had attracted the attention of Dr. Hammond, who afterwards took great pleasure in visiting him, lending him books, and conversing with him about their contents. Knowing that the poor man's weakness prevented him from earning a livelihood by his trade, he " invited him, nay, importuned him, still to come to him for whatever he needed; and at his death left him ten pounds as a legacy. A little before which fatal time, he and the lady Pakington being walking, Houseman happened to come by, to whom, after the Doctor had talked awhile in his usual friendly manner, he let him pass; yet soon after called him, with these words ;—Houseman, if it should please God that I should be taken from this place, let me make a bargain between my lady and you, that you be sure to come to her with the same freedom you would to me for anything you want;—and so, with a most tender kindness gave his benediction. Then turning to the lady, he said, Will you not think it strange that I should be more affected at parting from Houseman than from you?
Dr. Hammond considered that life loses half its charms if we have no friend to partake of our joys and to sympathise with our sorrows; and declared, that for his part he " had no such way of enjoying anything as by reflection from the person whom he loved, so that his friend's being happy was the surest way to make him so." Influenced by these feelings, he endeavoured to promote the formation of friendships, recommending them both by his writings for the public, and by his con