« AnteriorContinua »
text of Scripture “ Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer."
He very frequently kept days of fasting and humiliation in secret, which he calls his days of atonement. Sometimes he observed these monthly, and sometimes only on particular occasions; but his diary, while at Worthenbury, shows what sweet communion he had with God, in these solemn duties.
His Marriage-Family_Family Religion, and the Edu
cation of his Children.
He removed from Emeral to the house in Worthenbury which the Judge had built for him in February 1658-9, and then had one of his sisters with him to keep his house. No sooner had he ą tent, but God had an altar in it, and that a smoking altar. There he set up repetition on Sabbath evenings, and welcomed his neighbours to it.
His Christian friends often, and sometimes his brethren in the ministry, kept days of fasting and prayer at his house. He used to
tell people when they had built new houses, they must dedicate them, (referring to Deut. xx. 5, and Psal. xxx. ult.) that is, they must invite God to their houses, and devote them to his service.
Providence having thus brought him into a house of his own, soon after provided him a help-meet for him. After long agitation, and some discouragement and opposition from the father, April 26th, 1660, he married Katharine, the only daughter and heir of Mr. Daniel Matthews, of Broad Oak, in the township of Iscoyd, in Flintshire, (but in the parish of Malpas, which is in Cheshire, and about two miles distant from Whitchurch, a considerable market town in Shropshire.) Mr. Matthews was a gentleman of a very competent estate; such a one as king James the First used to say was the happiest lot of all others, which set a man below the office of a justice of peace, and above that of a petty constable. This was his only child: very fair and honourable overtures had been made for her disposal; but it pleased God so to order events, and to over-rule the spirits of those concerned, that she was reserved to be a blessing to this good man,
in things pertaining “both to life and godli
His purpose of marriage was published in the church three Lord's days before; a laudable practice, which he greatly approved, and persuaded others to.
The day before his marriage, he kept as a day of secret prayer and fasting.
He used to say, those who would have comfort in that change of their condition, must see to it, that they bring none of the guilt of the sin of their single state with them into the married state. And the presence of Christ at a “wedding will turn the water into wine;" and he will come, if he be invited by prayer.
He took all occasions, while he lived, to express his thankfulness to God for the great comfort he had in this relation. A day of mercy (so he writes on his marriage day) never to be forgotten. God had given him one (as he writes afterwards) every way his helper, in whom he had much comfort, and for whom he thanked God with all his heart. He writes in his diary, April 26th, 1680, “ This day we have been married twenty years, in which time we have received of the Lord more than twenty thousand mercies; to God be glory.” Sometimes he writes, “We have been so long married, and never reconciled;" that is, there never was any occasion for it. His usual prayer for his friends in the married state was according to his own practice in that state; that they might be mutually serviceable to each other's faith and holiness, and jointly serviceable to God's honour and glory.
Her father, though he put some hardships upon him in the terms, and had been somewhat averse to the match, yet by Mr. Henry's great prudence, and God's good providence, he was influenced to give a free consent to it; and he himself, with his own hand, gave her in marriage. From this, as from other experiences, Mr. Henry had learned to say with assurance: “It is not in vain to wait upon God, and to keep his way:" Mr. Matthews settled part of his estate before marriage upon them and theirs; he lived about seven years after; and when he died, the remainder of it came to them. This competent estate, which the divine providence brought into his hand, was not only a comfortable support to him when he was turned out of his living, and when many faithful ministers of Christ were reduced to great poverty and straits; but it enabled him likewise, as he had opportunity, to preach the gospel freely, which he did to his dying day; and not only so, but to give for the relief of others that were in want, in which he sowed plentifully, to a very large proportion of his income; and often blessed God that he had wherewithal, remembering the words of the Lord, how he said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive."
Such was his house, and such the vine which God graciously planted by the side of his house. By her God gave him six children, all born within less than eight years; the two eldest sons, John and Matthew: the other four, daughters, Sarah, Katharine, Eleanor, and Ann. His eldest son John died of the measles in the sixth year of his age, and the rest were in mercy continued to him.
The Lord having built him up into a family, he was careful and faithful in making good his solemn vow at his ordination, that “ he and his house would serve the Lord.” He would often say, That we are really which we are relatively. It is not so much