Зображення сторінки

versation and example in private life; and when he heard that any of his acquaintance, who were mutually attached and congenial in tastes and studies, had it in their power to live near together, he pointed to those as the happiest persons that he knew.

In his own lot, he found abundant cause to be grateful that a merciful Providence had blesssed him with so many constant friends, and afforded him so many opportunities of seeing them. Besides his kind benefactors, sir John and "the good lady Pakington," many others of the eminent clergy, besides himself, were inmates of the mansion at Westwood. Fell, his biographer, Dr. Morley, and Gunning, found an asylum there. He occasionally visited his " dear and most intimate friend" Dr. Sanderson. He calls Jeremy Taylor " my very worthy friend;" and, being associated with him in collecting the contributions for the loyalists abroad, must have had much communication with him. Isaac Walton was another of his friends; and, as he sometimes went to London, he had opportunities of conversing with archbishop Usher and many others.

He accounted love, rather than reverence, to be the tie of a permanent and valuable friendship; and amongst its proper fruits he reckoned a concern for the spiritual welfare of each other. "It is every christian's part," he would say, " at least to choose out somebody as a monitor, that may keep a daily watch over him, be it the friend, the son of his love, the wife of his bosom, or any that is not too ignorant, too blindly fond, or too pusillanimous to discharge it." He wished this care to extend to the most minute particulars :—" Should we only endeavour to keep our friends from scandalous offences, we should be like a physician who only guards his patients against the plague." If a long interval elapsed without his receiving any seasonable reproof, he began to fear that he had lost his friend; and, when told what part of his character was open to improvement, or what failing he ought to shun, he was grateful for the admonition, and immediately made a practical use of it. And in turn he candidly, but tenderly, noticed to his friends in private the faults which he observed in their tempers or conduct. He would remark, that " he that is overtaken in a fault, if there be not some good Samaritan near to have pity on him, to pour soft but healing oil into his wounds, and so to bind up and restore him again, may unhappily lie so long in his sin that there be no more life left in him; the repulsed grace of Christ in this case constantly withdrawing itself, and not ordinarily returning again to those noisome dwellings which have once so grieved and banished Him out of their coasts. By which you will discern the advantage of a seasonable friend, the benefit of a timely cure."

Thus choosing his friends on the highest grounds, there was one consequence which, besides their usefulness in spiritual things, deserves a perpetual memorial. "Whom I trusted to be my friend," he said, "all I had was in his power; and by God's blessing I was never deceived in my trust."

In the sorrows of the land Dr. Hammond recognised the judgments of God; and he believed, that if a " sincere change and thorough reformation" were manifest in the "poor calamitous kingdom," peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, would again flourish and abound. He lamented the prevailing bitterness and animosities, the contentions about trifles, the calumnies and misrepresentations; he wished that men professing themselves christians, would be more studious of entering the way of peace, and more industrious in persuading others to pursue the same path. He reminded them that "it was anciently resolved, that Christianity, wherever it entered in its purity, did plant all manner of exact and strict conscientious walking; all humility, meekness, purity, peaceableness, justice, charity, sobriety, imaginable; that wickedness and dissolution of manners was to be looked on as the only heresy, and good life revered as the only orthodox profession." He desired them to pray Almighty God to restore "that heavenly grace and incomparable blessing of christian peace and holy communion among all that have received the honour of being called by his name, that we may all mind the same things, fix the same common designs, love, and aid, and promote one another's good, unanimously glorify Him here with one tongue and heart, that we may all be glorified with him, and sing joint hosannahs and hallelujahs to him to all eternity."

Such were the petitions of his own prayers, and such the tendency of his example. He prayed for the wider diffusion of pure religion, with all its excellent and beneficent fruits; and openly declared his desire " to be an example of peaceableness and of a resolution to make no more quarrels than are necessary," and therefore to contribute his best endeavours to heal the wounds under which religion was then suffering. And as he knew that heartfelt prayers are precious in the sight of God, so he did not doubt that some acceptable offering would be cast into the sacred treasury " by the poor widow church of England, with her few mites."

The principles of that church, and the form of her government, he had examined conscientiously, and believed that her doctrine was truly scriptural, and her episcopacy conformable to apostolical usage; he " loved and admired the beauty of her fabric, even when she lay polluted in her blood, and wished no greater blessing to her dearest friends, or (for whom he daily prayed) most implacable enemies, than that of old Bartimeus for himself, " Lord, that they may receive their sight; that the scales may fall off from all our eyes, that we may see and value what is so illustriously conspicuous, and estimable in itself, and not so blear our sight with the observation of the miscarriages in this kind, as not to discern or value the designation [purpose, or intention,] which, if the abuses, and excesses, and mistakes that have crept in in that matter were timely discerned and removed, and that which is christian and apostolical revived, and restored in prudence and sobriety, might yet again show the world the use of that prelacy, which is now so zealously contemned, and recover at once the order and estimation of it; set more saints on their knees in petitions for the restoring, than ever employed their hands towards the suppressing of it." And pondering, as he says, "the tempers of men, and the so mutable habits of their minds," he felt confident that in a few years, when the pleasure of the change should cease with its novelty, "reason would come back in the cool of the day, and the nation would again build up the prostrate church."

Meanwhile he employed all his energies to comfort and sustain her in her low estate. He liberally contributed towards the support of the indigent clergy as well as collected subscriptions in their behalf; he sought places for them as tutors and chaplains, and obtained help for their widows and orphans.

When the fatal interdict of January 1655 • was enforced, disabling the episcopal clergy from doing any ministerial act, Dr. Hammond published a tract, entitled A

* More fully noticed in the Life of Archbishop Usher, Chap. iv.

Partenesis, or Seasonable Exhortatory to all true Sons of the Church of England, which he wrote "first in tears and then in ink." He was led by that "sad conjuncture of affairs, when those whose office it was to speak to the people from God, and to God from the people, were solemnly forbidden all public discharge of these and all other branches of their sacred function," to endeavour to comfort and strengthen the souls of his brethren. "I shall now," he says, "though the unworthiest of all my many brethren, assume this venerable office of being a remembrancer to the people of God, even to all those who have been brought forth unto Christ by our precious dear persecuted mother, the church of England, and remain still constant to that faith which from her breasts they have sucked, and are not yet scandalised in her."

On the same occasion he humbled himself before God with fasting, for he thought that this dispensation which "cast him out as straw to the dung-hill," was a reproach to him for his unprofitableness. Confessing that the provocations were great, he prayed that God would not leave nor forsake "this poor Church;"—" But though Thou feed us with the bread of adversity and water of affliction, yet let not our teachers be removed into a corner, but let our eyes still see our teachers; let not Sion complain that she hath none to lead her by the hand among all the sons that she hath brought up, but provide her such supports in this her declining condition, that she may still have a seed and a remnant left!"

He then reflected by what means the ruinous tendency of this tyrannical edict might be frustrated; and as he saw that the ancient clergy were hastening to the grave, and that in the present state of things they must all in a few years waste away, he formed the plan of training up

« НазадПродовжити »