Page images


acquisitions, as might naturally Nor was he more eminent in have been expected froin un- gifts than in grace. All his talcommon genius and diligence, ents, all his acquisitions in sanctified by prayer. He was science, were piously devoted familiar with the most abgtruse to the glory of God, and the best parts of theology. In these he interests of man. All the pure, principally excelled. He was humble--and lovely virtues of mighty in the scriptures, as ap- Christianity dwelt in his bosom, peared from his common dis- and shone sorth in his life. His courses; and especially from sere soul was evidently moulded into eral commentaries which he left, the temper of the gospel. unpublished, on the Psalms, and

was a temple, consecrated to the on the Epistles to the Romans, worship of the living God, and Corinthians and Galatians. His to the residence of the Holy acquaintance with systematic din Spirit. vinity was generally known and Under the influence of this celebrated. Of the treasures of divine Spirit, he was early this kind, which he had amassed brought to the knowledge of with so much care, he was gen- himself, as an apostate creature ; erously communicative, especial- depraved, guilty and helpless. ly to the people of his charge. In He was likewise led into believhis attempts to maintain the doc- ing views of the glory and grace trines of the gospel in their gen- of Emmanuel, as the only hope uine purity, he was zealous and of a sinner ; the Author and indefatigable. These doctrines Finisher of salvation.

Hencehe not only stated with great forward, sin was his great burplainness and precision, and con- den and grief. Nor did he ever firmed by incontestible argu- cease to lament his inward corments, but enforced, with great ruption, nor to sigh after deliverenergy, on the conscience and ance from it, to the latest hour heart.

of life. Meditation on divine Uniting to a dispassionate mind, things was his habitual employa warm heart ; and to a clear ment and delight. What fervour discernment of truth, an inflexi- and enlargement he attained in ble adherence to its distinguish- this holy and instructive exering principles, Mr. Willard cise, may be learned from those shone as a controversial writer. exceilent sacramental meditations As became one set for the defence which were published after his of the gospied, he vigorously op- death, and which are thought to posed the errors of the time, have been written for his own however imposing and triumph- particular use. His daily walk ant the attitude they assumed. was that of one who felt a lively With equal energy and skill, he impression of invisible and eterwielded the sword of the Spirit, nal realities. When speaking or to the confusion of gainsayers, hearing of the wonders of divine and sometimes to their convic- grace in redemption, he was not tion, as well as to the establish- unfrequently transported with ment and comfort of the friends admiration, gratitude and love. of truth.

In contemplation of the glorious sovereignty of Jehovah, in the all wise Being, who, from the kingdoms of grace and provi- first, designed him for extensive dence, his soul was filled with usefulness, and richly furnished profoundest humility and rever- him for it, prepared him a suitaence.

In defending the cause of ble sphere. The aspects of Prove Christ and his truth, he exhibit idence seemed plainly to indicate ed a zeal truly primitive and bis removal ; and being fixed in apostolic ; a zeal enlightened, the South Church in Boston, he meek and affectionate ; a zeal became a great blessing, not only directed and restrained by Chris- to his own congregation, and to tian prudence. Courageous and the town, but to all New Enginflexible in discharging his du- land, . ties as a Christian, and a minis- His public, discourses were ter, he neither forgot the rights, uniformly elaborate, judicious nor intruded into the province and instructive. It is said that of others. He was a man of a his common sermons were such genuinely quiet spirit. Such as might have been pronounced was his value for peace, that he with applause before an assembly could sacrifice every thing but of divines. The subjects which truth and duty, for its preserva- he discussed were various, well tion. He was a bright example selected, and with much care and of self denial, of abstraction from judgment adapted to the state the world, of patience under the and circumstances of his fiock. reproaches of men, and of resig. He inculcated, not a system of nation to the correcting rod of mere natural religion, not the his heavenly Father, In the refinements of metaphysics, but darkest seasons of distress, he the plain, peculiar, unadulterat meekly bowed to the righteous ed doctrines of the gospel. On sovereignty of the unerring Dis- this foundation, he erected the poser. Nor did he think it whole fabric of practical religion. enough, amid scenes like these, He made it appear that the docnot to complain. He maintained trines of grace were not mere a cheerful spirit. Perceiving by speculations, but so many powerthe eye of faith, the excellence, ful persuasives to love, to gratiglory, and grace of Jehovah's tude, to devotion, to all holiness government, beaming through of heart and life. And with the the darkness which surrounded utmost vigilance and assiduity his throne, he rejoiced in the did he labour to guard them Lord, and triumphed in the God against that licentiousness to of his salvation.

wbich they were sometimes perThe qualifications which con- verted. His addresses were per stitute a faithful, indefatigable and culiarly pungent and powerful ; useful pastor, were remarkably calculated at once to solemnize, combined in Mr. Willard. His to humble, and win the hearer. eminence in this character was His style was such as became acknowledged and celebrated the pulpit; simple, with dignity; throughout the churches. In and masculine, with ease. In his his earlier years indeed, his sta- manner of delivery, there was tion was fixed in an obscure part always a seriousness and gravity of the vineyard. But the same which commanded attention;


and sometimes a tenderness and He died suddenly, Sept. 12, ardour almost irresistible. -1707, at the age of 68. His

To the insensible and secure, removal was deeply lámented by he was a son of thunder; and a the church and congregation un: son of consolation to the humble der his care, and by the Universimourner in Zion. In his treat- ty, which had for several years ment of those under mental dis- enjoyed the benefit of his able tress, he acted the part of a faith- and faithful superintendence. In: ful and tender physician. He deed, it was considered as a seneither slightly healed the wound, vere judgment of Heaven upon ñor willingly suffered it to rankle; the whole community. An afbut pointed the patient to the fectionate tribute was paid to bis precious Balm in Gilead.

distinguisherl worth, by his His public prayers were perti- vencrable colleague, Mr. Pem; nent, pathetic, devout, and en. BERTON, in a funeral sermon, riched with an unusual variety of which has furnished the princithought.

spal materials of the present He bore his flock with the ut- memoir. most affection his heart. Mr. WILLARD was one of the

Their joys, their sorrow's, their most voluminous writers of his perplexities he made his own. time. He published, during his When any applied to him for life, a variety of sermons and oth, information or advice in the con- er religious treatiscs, which were cerns of religion, they were sure highly esteemed. His Exposi. to be treated tenderly and faith- tion of the A88ernbly;'s Shorter fully, and to have the result of his Catechism may, however, be conmaturest thoughts.

sidered as his most important It ought to be recorded to the work. It is said to have been the honour of Mr. WiLLARD, that in first folio volume on Divinity, one of the darkest seasons which printed in New England. His New England ever experienced, exposition was originally deliverhe maintained a vigorous, though 'ed to the anthor's congregation prudent opposition to the general in the form of monthly lectures ; infatuation. No man was more excepting that his sickness and indefatigable, or more successful death having

death having prevented the than he, in detecting and expos- completion of his design, several ing those strange and lanieniable lectures are inserted which he delusions, which, for a time, 'not had merely prepared for the desk, only affixed a foul stain on the and a few of the last are supplied character of the community, but from a shorter exposition which threatened to deluze it with blood. he had delivered many years be

In a word, such was his devo. 'fore, to the children of his flock. tion to his ministerial work, such The work was published at the his anxiety to redeem time, such pressing solicitation of many of his diligence in season and out of the most intelligent persons in season, and sach his exemplary Boston and its vicinity. And fidelity, that with propriety he though it appears under some might have appealed to his of the disadvantages usually people at his departure, that he attending posthumous publicawas pure from the blood of all men. tions, it must be allowed to pose

sess great merit. Few systems him respect from the learned of theoretic and practical divinity Bishop Walton. Sir J. Burare to be found, even at the pres- goyne was his great friend and ent day, exhibiting such variety patron, and first assisted him in of matter, such a compass and undertaking the work of the min, depth of thought, and such an istry, which he began at Wroxal intimate acquaintance with the in Warwickshire ; whence, by adword of God. It displays the vice of the London ministers, he great doctrines of Christianity in removed into Leicestershire. their evidence, their harmony, He was there ejected for refusand practical use ; it refutes the ing the engagement, and afterprincipal errors by which they ward settled in Chester, where have been opposed ; it solves he was a useful minister, till he many of the Christian's perplexi- was ousted by the act of uniformties; and all in a way calculated ity. He was a zealous royalist, to impress the conscience, and and thought it his duty to join interest the heart.* Even the with Sir G. Booth, when he style, though not polished accord- made an attempt to restore the ing to modern rules, partakes of king in 1639, and persuaded the the richness and energy of the citizens of Chester to deliver up author's mind. In a word, what- their city to him. For this lie ever minor inaccuracies, either was brought up a prisoner to of the logical op philosophical London, and long confined in kind, may sometimes meet the Lambeth house ; and, had not critic's eye, these lectures will the times turned, he would be perused by the serious Chris- have been tried for his life. But tian with equal profit and delight. all this could not afterward pro

2. cure him liberty to preach the

gospel of Christ, without strict

conformity. Nay, quickly aftet SKETCH OF REV. WILLIAM his being silenced, he was confin, COOK

ed by the Mayor to the common

jail of Chester for preaching in Mr. William Cook, of St. his own house. But he strictly Michael's Church in Chester, adhered to his principles in all was educated under the famous the changes of the times ; 'sufMr. John Ball. In his family fering with great patience and there was a remarkable succes

meekness, and continued to 'his sion of piety from parents to death in a pastoral relation to a children for several generations. Society of many eminent ChrisHe had great natural powers, a tians in that city ; though during quick apprehension, and a strong the heat of the five mile act, he memory. He was studious to a

was forced to withdraw to Pudprodigy ; and his proficiency, dington, where he constantly atin whatever be applied bis mind tended the public ministry of the to, was astonishing. His skill in parish, and preached in the inthe oriental languages procured iervals.

He was a Christian of the Ön the subject of the decrees Mr. Willard's ideas were carried fur- primitive stamp; a man of a ther than those of many Calvinists. most godly, mortified life, and




unwearied labour; who could go all his benefits. . On all occasions in mean clothing, live on little, he was importunate for the and travel on foot, trampling on church of God, and for the en. .this world as dirt. He was very largement of the kingdom of indefatigable in his ministerial Christ. His regard to justice labours, in which he

uncommonly exact; and sought any one's assistance, but bis charity, considering his conwould preach and pray almost tracted circumstances, was stuthe whole week, as lie had op- pendous. llaving no child of portunity, in season and out of his own, he freely took into his

While he had liberty, family, three or four poor chilhe constantly kept a public fast in dren, whom he boarded and his congregation every month; ciothed at his own expense, and as also a private one in his own instructed in literature and relicloset and family every week. gion. These and his servants He usually set apart one-after- he catechised twice a week, exnoon every week to visit the plaining every thing to them in families of his congregation, to the easiest manner. catechise their children and ser- When he could no longer exvants, and to discourse with them ercise his ministry in the church, personally about spiritual affairs he performed most parts of it His visits were short, but edify- in his family, with the same care ing. He managed them like and diligence he was accustomed one, who was a good busband of to use in public, though no othhis time, and seldoin parted with- er person was present. He was out prayer. He governed his a strict observer of the Lord's family with great strictness and day. His family constantly had prudence. Every morning, in their work done by 4 or 5 o'clock

. his family worship, after he bad on Saturday afternoon. He then briefly implored the divine assis- spent an hour and a half in extance, a psalm was sung, then a plaining scripture, and in praychapter in the Old Testament After this,, all retired to (and in the evening one in the their apartments, to learn the catnew) was read, which he ex- echism, and for devotion. At pounded ; pointing out the sev- eight they supped, and then he

, eral parts, of which it consisted; dismissed his family as usual ev. then giving an account of the ery other day.

He always rose substance of it in as few words as early on the Lord's day. Every possible ; then explaining the one in luis house read a chapter chief difficulties in it ; conclude in the morning, and he spent an ing with useful instructions. hour and a half in expounding He then spent a quarter of an and prayer. Then he and his hour in prayer and praise, usual- family went to public worship, ly improving much of the chap- and upon their return, (after his ter read, as matter for both. Fie being silenced) he prayed and rewas eminent in all the parts of peated the sermon), and then prayer; but commonly abound prayed and preached, as he was ed most in the confession of sin, wont to do in public. After dinin admiring all the divine excel- ner he went to church, and at his lencies, and in praising God for return performed the same, as


« PreviousContinue »