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Judge's funeral sermon from Nehemiah xiii. 4. “ Wipe not out the good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and the offices thereof." This sermon was not intended as a eulogy on the Judge, there is not a word in the sermon to that purpose; but the object was to show, that deeds done for the house of God, are good deeds and to press upon the people according to their opportunity, to do such deeds. . There is one fact mentioned in that discourse, which deserves to be preserved. That it had been for several years the practice of a worthy gentleman, in a neighbouring county, in renewing his leases, instead of making it a condition that his tenants should keep a hawk or a dog for him, to require them to keep a Bible in their houses, and to bring up their children to learn to read, and be catechized.
The personal affronts which he received from some members of that family, at that time need not be mentioned; but with what exemplary meekness he bore them, ought not to be forgotten.
He was very much solicited in 1659, to leave Worthenbury and accept the vicarage of Wrexham, a place where the people were greatly attached to him, and for whom he felt a special kindness; but he could not see his way clear to leave Worthenbury; and so he declined the invitation.
As to his method of preaching, it was not his practice to dwell long on a single text; a thing.common in his time and before. « Better,” said he,“ one sermon on many texts, than many sermons on one text.” He used to preach systematically, that is, he pursued a regular method, and linked his subjects in à sort of chain. He adapted his method and style to the capacity of his hearers, fetching his similitudes or illustrations, from those things which were familiar to them. He did not shoot the arrow of the word over their heads, in high notions, or the flourishes of affected rhetoric; nor under their feet, by blunt and homely expressions, as many do, under pretence of plainness, but to their hearts, in close and lively applications. His delivery, was very graceful and agreeable, far from being noisy and precipitate, on the one hand, or dull and slow on the other. His doctrine did drop as the dew and distill as the rain, and came with a charming pleasing power, such as many bore witness to, who
wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. He wrote the notes of his sermons pretty large, for the most part, and always very legible; but even when he had put his last hand to them, he left many imperfect hints, which gave room for enlargement in preaching, in which he had great felicity. And he would often advise ministers, not to confine themselves too closeIy to their notes, but having well digested the matter before, to allow themselves a liberty of expression, such as a man's feelings, if they be excited, will be apt to furnish him with. But for this no certain rule can be given, there are diversities of gifts, and each to profit withal.
He kept his sermon notes in very neat and exact order; so that he could readily turn to any of them; yet he seldom preached again any of his old sermons, but to the last studied new sermons, and wrote them as elaborately as ever, for he thought a sermon best preached, when it was newly meditated. Even when he preached again on the same text, he was accustomed to write a new sermon. He never offered to God that which cost him nothing.
When he went to Oxford, and preached before the university in Christ's church, as he did several times, his labours were not only very acceptable, but successful, too; particularly, a sermon on Proverbs xiv. 9. “ Fools make a mock at sin,” which made such an impression on a young master of arts, that he afterwards came to his chamber to return him his thanks, for the good received from his preaching.
In his diary, during this period, he notes carefully the frame of his mind while composing as well as preaching his sermons. And he appears to have had, at times, not only humbling views of his own imperfections, but some doubts respecting the goodness of his state. In one entry, he says, “I think, never did any poor creature pass through such a mixture of hope and fear, joy and sadness, assurance and doubtingdown and up, as I have, these years past.” It may be encouraging to drooping Christians to hear from such an eminent saint, such complaints as the following: “No life at all in the duty-many wanderings. If my prayers were written down and my vain thoughts interlined, what incoherent nonsense would there be! I am ashamed, Lord, I am ashamed, O pity and pardon me.” “When a fire is first kindled,” saith he, “there is a deal of smoke and smother, that afterwards wears away; so in young converts, much peevishness, forwardness, and darkness; so it hath been with my soul, and so it is yet in a great measure. Lord, pity, and do not quench the smoking flax; though as yet it do but smoke, let these sparks be blown up into a flame.” And though few excelled him in profitable conversation; yet he often bewails his barrenness, and unprofitableness. “Little good done, or gotten, such a day, for want of a heart. 'Tis my sin and shame. O that I had wings like a dove." Yet he often expresses in his diary, a firm reliance on God. “Such a day,” saith he, a full resignation was made of all my concernments, into the hands of my heavenly. Father, let him deal with me as seemeth good in his eyes. I am learning and labouring to live by faith. Lord, help my unbelief.” a time when perplexed and almost overwhelmed with fears, he found complete deliverance, by the suggestions of a precious