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The custom, at Westminster school, was, that all the king's scholars who stood candidates for an election to the university, were to receive the Lord's supper, the Easter before, which he did with the rest, in St. Margaret's church, in 1647. And he would often speak of the great pains which Dr. Busby took to prepare his scholars for that ordinance; and with what skill and seriousness of application, and manifest concern for their souls, he opened to them the nature of the duty. The reflexions of young Henry, on this occasion, show, that these pains were not lost upon him. The following we have from his own hand: “ There had been treaties before between my soul and Jesus Christ, with some weak overtures towards him; but then, then, I think it was that the match was made, the knot tied. Then, I set myself in the strength of Divine grace, about the great work of self-examination, in order to repent
And then I repented, that is solemnly and seriously, with some meltings of soul, I confessed my sins before God, original and actual, judging and condemuing myself for them, and casting away from me all my transgressions, receiving Christ Jesus the
Lord, as the Lord my righteousness, and devoting and dedicating my whole self absolutely and unreservedly to his fear and service. After which coming to the ordinance, there, there, I received Him, indeed, and he became mine—I say, MINE. Bless the Lord, O my soul !”
Of Dr. Busby's agency in this blessed work, he makes frequent mention, in divers of his papers: “The Lord recompense it,” says he, "a thousand fold into his bosom." Encouraged by the good effects of it in his own experience, he was himself accustomed when he became a minister to take like pains with others, at their first admission to the Lord's table; and, through grace, saw the comfortable fruits of it, both in his own children, and others.
MR. HENRY was admitted student of Christ Church, March 24th, 1647-8. Soon after this, the university, which had now fallen into the hands of the Parliament, was visited by their commissioners. Almost the sole question proposed to the students was, “Will you submit to the power of the Parliament, in this present visitation ?” to which all were to give their answer in writing; according to which they were displaced, or continued. Some, cheerfully complied, while others, absolutely refused.
Others plead ignorance. Mr. Henry's answer was, “I submit to the power of the Parliament in the present visitation, as far as I may with a safe conscience, and without perjury.” The reason of the last clause was, that he had shortly before taken the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, at his admission into the university. It is a characteristic of a conscientious man, that he fears an oath, and Mr. Henry possessed in a high degree, this reverence for the name of God, which he would by no means take in vain.
His first tutor was Mr. Underwood, who was a good scholar, and one that attended to the improvement of his pupils: but in the changes which now took place in the university, he was removed, which Mr. Henry greatly regretted. For although Mr. Finmore, who succeded him, was able enough; yet he was not willing to exercise his talents for the interest of those committed to his charge, towards whom he had little more than the name of a tutor. This he lamented as an unhappiness in his first setting out; but it pleased God to give him an interest in the affections of a young man, an under graduate, but two or three years his senior, from Westminster, a Mr. Richard Bryan, who took him to be his chamber-fellow, while he continued at Oxford. He read to him, looked over his studies, and directed him in them. Similar acts of kind condescension he received from some others, in the university.
He duly performed the prescribed college exercises. He disputed, every day, in term time, wrote themes and verses, once a week, and declaimed when it came to his turn. But, in his private papers, he bewails his want of diligence, and often accuses himself of a neglect of opportunities of getting, and doing good. He appears to have had a very quick and deep sense of his own failings and infirmities; and expresses much shame, sorrow, and self-abhorrence, for the evils which he observed in himself; and cries out ear
nestly for pardon and forgiveness, in the blood of Jesus, as if he had been the greatest of sinners. For though he was a man who walked very closely with God; yet withal he walked very humbly with him, and lived a life of repentance and self-denial. One thing to which he ascribes the loss of much time at the university, was his being sent thither so young. And he accordingly advised his friends, however their sons might be prepared, as to scholarship, not to send them too early from the school to the university; till they have discretion to govern themselves, "for," says he," while they are children, what can be expected, but that they mind childish things?”
Another thing which rendered him less industrious than he ought to have been was, that coming from Westminster school, his attainments in classical learning were far superior to those of most of the students, and he did not feel himself pressed by the necessity of keeping pace with his class. Among the students, he tells us, there were, at that time, two classes, such as had lately come and were friends to the Parliament, who were commonly serious, but of poor scholar