NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES
3 3433 07954794 3
THE NEW YORK
ASTOR. LEiNfOX AND
DSA\Aâ‚¬ \yyATJTrs, Â©.
CHOICE! "^ O R K S
ISAAC WATTS, D.D.
BY D. A. HARSHA,
AUTHOR OF "eminent ORATORS AND STATE8ME N," ETC., ETC.
â€¢ â€¢ . Â« â€¢
â€¢ â€¢ â€¢ â€¢
â€¢ ^ â€¢ Â»
DERBY & JACKSOISr, 119 KASSAU STREET.
'^ M0Â« 1876 ;
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1857, by
DERBY & JACKSON,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District
of New York.
IIOMAB U. BMITU
82 & 84 Beekman St.
In preparing a series of volumes to be styled the Standard Library
OF Sacred Classics, containing, in a form adapted for popular use, the
best works of eminent divines, with memoirs of their lives, notices of
their writings, and estimates of their genius, we beheve that we render
an acceptable service to the Christian public. For what person, whose
heart glows with love and gratitude to the Author of the Christian
revelation, does not feel a deep interest in the lives and writings of such
venerated divines as Taylor, Howe, Baxter, Owen, Watts, Doddridge,
Fuller, Hall, Chalmers, Edwards, Dwight, and others of kindred spirit?
Their praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches ; and their lofty
genius and fervent piety will excite the admiration of tlie Christian
world in all future ages. It is certainly delightful, as well as profitable,
for the Christian in his pilgrimage, frequently to review the hves and
study the practical and devotional works of these zealous ambassadors
of Christ, who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises.
In addition to the biographical sketches, our selection will comprise
many valuable treatises not readily accessible. The principal object, in
the present series, will be the collection of such matter only as shall be
highly conducive to the mental, moral, and religious improvement and
elevation of readers of all evangehcal denominations.
This volume, which is the first in the series, contains the Hfe and
choice works of Isaac Watts.
In the biographical memoir, we have endeavored to present, in a clear,
succinct, and chronological order, the leading incidents in his long and
useful life. Solicitous to render the memoir as interesting as possible to
the Christian reader, we have carefully consulted the best authorities on
the subject, such as Milner's Life, Times, and Correspondence of Watts ;
the Memoirs of Watts by Gibbons, Burder, Johnson, and Southey ; and
Wilmott's Lives of the English Sacred Poets.
The '' choice works" which have been selected, are the Discourses on
Death and Heavenâ€” Discourses on the Love of God, etc.â€” An Exhort-
ation to Ministers â€” Select Sermons â€” Miscellaneous Thoughts â€” and
In the opinion of the excellent Dr. Doddridge, these are the most ad-
mirable works of their author. "I most admire," says he, "the first
volume of his sermons â€” Death and Heaven â€” the Love of God â€” and
Humble Attempt â€” not to mention his incomparable Lyric Poems,
Psalms and Hymns." In a letter to a friend, the saintly James Hervey
thus highly commends the small volume of Dr. Watts on The Love of
God, and its Influence on the Passions : '' This is indeed a most excel-
lent book, happily calculated for usefulness. If you have never seen it,
you have a pleasure yet to come, and I would by all means advise you
to get it." And the late venerated William Jay, of Bath, once re-
marked, in relation to the sermons of Watts, which he always highly
valued : " They are truly beautiful sermons. His ' Inward Witness to
Christianity,' his 'Hidden Life of a Christian,' his 'Peace in Death,' his
'No Night in Heaven,' and 'No Pain among the Blessed,' his 'Joy at
the Eesurrection,' are among the sweetest and most profitable sermons
in our language." Every intelligent, pious, and discriminating person,
who is well acquainted with the sermons of our most celebrated divines
and those of Dr. Watts, will, we tMnk, readily coincide in this opinion
of Mr. Jay,
It is particularly interesting to know that the book on " Death and
Heaven " was a favorite with Doddridge while suffering under his fatal
disease, in a foreign land ; and that it soothed and cheered his spirit
within a short period of his death. This single statement of its useful-
ness to one of the most distinguished and pious servants of Christ should
commend it to the careful attention of every Christian pilgrim, steadily
approaching the river of death, and expecting an eternity of glory
beyond the shores of time.
The behever will find, in the present selection, much to sustain and
soothe liim while journeying through the sorrows and conflicts of the
Christian course, and to enhven his pathway to that better land where
there is no night, no pain, no tears, no death, â€” luhere the wicked cease
from troubling, and where the weary are at rest.
In tlie hope that it may prove acceptable to clergymen, instructive
to Christian families, and interesting to all readers, the first volume of
the Standard Library of Sacred Classics is now offered to the pubhc.
Argyle, N. T., June, 1857.
LIFE OF ISAAC WATTS, D. D 11
DEATH AND HEAVEN.
, DISCOURSE I.
The Conquest over Death, 1 Cor., xv. 26 53
The Happiness of Separate Spirits, Heb,, xii. 23 t5
DISCOURSES ON THE LOVE OF GOD, AND ITS IN-
FLUENCE ON THE PASSIONS.
The Affectionate anÂ® Supreme Love of God, Mark, xii. 30 153
Divine Love is the Commanding Passion 164
The Use of the Passions in Religion 183
Inferences from the Usefulness of the Passions 199
The Abuse of the Passions in Religion 211
The Affectionate Christian Vindicated, and the Sincere Soul
Comforted under his Complaints op Deadness, etc 230
Means of Exciting the Devout Affections 241
AN EXHORTATION TO MINISTERS.
Sec. I. â€” Op a Minister's Personal Religion 262
" II. â€” Op a Minister's Private Studies 265
" III. â€” Of Public Ministrations 294
" IV. â€” Of the Conversation of a Minister 298
" V. â€” A Solemn Enforcement of these Exhortations on
THE Conscience 304
The End of Time, Rev., x. 5, 6 315
No Pain among the Blessed, Eev., xxi. 4 333
No Night in Heaven, Rev., xxi. 25 363
Safety in the Grave, and Joy at the Resurrection, Job, xiii. 14, 15. . 317
The Death of Kindred Improved, 1 Cor., iii. 22 397
Death a Blessing to the Saints, 1 Cor., iii. 22 407
The Hikden Life of a Christian â€” The First Part, Col., iii. 3 425
The Hidden Life of a Christian â€” The Second Part, Col., iii. 3 443
A Meditation for the First of May 4G5
Divine Goodness in the Creation 467
Distant Thunder 469
Yanity Inscribed on all Things 470
The Rake Reformed in the House of Mourning 473
Thou hast Received Gifts for Men, Ps , Ixviii. 18 480
Bills of Exchange 482
Praise Waitetii for Thee, God, in Zion, Ps., Ixv. 1 484
THAT I Knew Where I might Find Him, Job, xxiii. 3 487
Divine Judgments 493
The Day op Judgment 495
Breathing toward the Heavenly Country 496
LIFE OF ISAAC WATTS, D. D,
Isaac Watts was born on tlie iVth of July, 1674, at South-
ampton, England. He was the eldest of nine children. His father
was a man of piety, intelligence, and respectability. He presided
over a flourishing boarding-school at Southampton. In his religious
sentiments he was warmly attached to the Dissenters, and durino-
the persecution in the reign of Charles the Second, was imprisoned
for his non-conformity. While thus suffering on account of his
religious opinions, his wife is said to have often sat on a stone near
the prison-door, with the poet, then an infant, at her breast. He
lived to a good old age, and had the high gratification of witnessing
not only the literary celebrity of his son, but also the triumph of
religious liberty. It is worthy of mention here that he possessed
some poetical talents, and at the age of eighty-five, composed several
verses on sacred subjects, which are simply and piously expressed.
In noticing the leading events in the life of Dr. Isaac Watts, it
will be interesting to advert to his early mental culture. Like many
other persons of uncommon genius, he was distinguished for his in-
tellectual precocity, and early thirst for knowledge. Before he
could speak plain, we were told that he would say, when money
was given to him, â€” "A book ! a book ! â€” buy a book !" When only
four years of age, he commenced the study of Latin, which he pro-
secuted with success under the direction of his father. He was soon
afterwards placed under the care of the Rev. John Pinhorne, prin-
cipal of a grammar-school at Southampton, where he received the
rudiments of his classical education. While at this school he de-
voted the most of his time to the study of Latin, Greek, Hebrew,
and French, in which he made commendable proficiency.
12 LIFEOF WATTS.
The poetical genius of Watts was developed at an early age.
With Milton, Cowley, and Pope, he may be said to have " lisp'd in
numbers." When only seven or eight years of age he composed
devotional verses which did honor to his poetical talents. The un-
common vigor of intellect which he so early evinced, attracted the
notice of several benevolent persons, who generously offered to de-
fray the expenses of his education in one of the English univer-
sities ; but Watts respectfully decHned the offer, stating that he was
determined to take his lot with the dissenters.
In 1690, in his sixteenth year, he was sent to London, and placed
under the care of the Rev. Thomas Howe, pastor of a dissenting
congregation in that city, and principal of an institution, the object
of which was to prepare students for the ministry. Here he applied
himself with unremitting industry to study, and obtained a thorough
Among his fellow-students at this academy, were Hughes, the
poet, author of the Siege of Damascus^ and several papers in the
Spectator, Tatler, and Guardian ; Say, whose poems and essays
were published after his death ; and Hort, afterwards Archbishop
Fully aware of the importance of early forming an easy and cor-
rect style, the attention of Watts was now particularly turned to
the art of composition : and, as an evidence of his industry and
ability, we have several Latin essays on philosophical, moral, and
theological subjects, which he composed while residing in the aca-
demy of Mr. Rowe. These academic efforts, in the opinion of Dr.
Johnson, show a degree of knowledge, both philosophical and
theological, such as very few attain by a much longer course of
As a specimen of his style of composition and of thought, at
this early period of his. literary career, we select a passage from the
first Essay, â€” Whether the doctrine of justification hy faith alone
tends to licentiousness. Speaking of that divine principle which
purifies the heart of man, and draws him near to God, he justly and
forcibly remarks â€” "The love of Christ, manifested in free justifica-
tion without works, more effectually and sweetly binds the soul to
obedience, than any rigid measures which the fear of punishment
LIFE OF WATTS. 13
can use. The natures of believers are, as it were, refined; they are
lieaven-born, ingenuous, and easily wrought upon by love. It is a
common truth, that nothing is done by hatred and fear, which
might not etfectually and pleasantly be performed by love. The
effects of pure love are exceedingly great. We seldom, if ever,
read of any who, out of mere fear of hell, would endm-e the greatest
miseries of life. But how many thousands, being fortified with
love to their Redeemer, have joyfully undergone severe torments
rather than part with their obedience and holiness, notwithstanding
they hoped not to be saved by them ! Now the greater the love
which is expressed towards us, the stronger are our engagements to
love again. Consider, then, how incomparably greater is that love
which appears in Christ's giving us himself and his righteousness
freely, and completing by himself the work of our redemption, than
if he had only entreated the Father to relax the first covenant, and
put us into a possibility of acquiring heaven by our own obedience.
2. Cor. V, 14: 'The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus
judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.' That love is a
far more efficacious principle than fear, appears also from the first
epistle of John. The whole letter of that beloved disciple breathes
nothing but love and holiness. The first is the principle of the
latter. He had learned and felt the power of love in the bosom of
his Jesus, and recommended that sovereign antidote against sin,
that cordial to revive dying holiness, to all the followers of his
loving Saviour. Heaven is a state of most perfect holiness, and
the immediate created principle of it is perfect love, as seems to be
implied in 1. John iv. 18, and 1. Cor. xiii. 8 â€” 13."
In his early school-boy days Watts adopted those useful methods
of study which contributed so largely to his mental improvement,
and which we cannot too strongly commend to those who would
aspire to the higher walks of literature. His plan was to abridge or
enlarge the most valuable works he read, in order that their con-
tents might be more deeply impressed upon his memory. He
epitomized several works which were highly popular and useful in
his day, such as GaWs Court of the Gentiles ; a treatise of Lewis
de la Forge on the human mind, &c. He also enlarged and im-
proved the Westminster Greek Grammar by additions from the
14 LIFE OF WATTS.
works of Dr. Busby and Mr. Leeds. The plan wliich lie adopted
of interleaving books, and writing down the opinions of other
writers on the same topics, he found to be eminently useful as af-
fording a more comprehensive view of any subject. But those who
wish to learn the process by which Dr. Watts attained his literary
fame will do well to study with care his admirable treatise on the
Improvement of the miiid.
It was during his academic course that Watts cultivated with
great care his poetical talents. In his Miscellanies, he modestly
alludes to his being a " maker of verses" from the age of fifteen to
that of fifty. At the age of seventeen, he wrote verses of consider-
able excellence, several of which were included in his Horoe
Lyricce. The Latin ode in honor of the Rev. John Pinhorne, his
early teacher, of whom he always " retained a grateful and affec-
tionate remembrance," is a meritorious performance for a youth of
twenty. It discovers a true, poetical genius, as well as an intimate
acquaintance with the most distinguished poets of Greece and
Rome. The lines, addressed to his brother, written about this
time, are also graceful and elegant in their construction.
But the unwearied perseverance and intemperate ardor with
which "Watts pursued his studies during his academic course, and
his neglect of necessary exercise and repose, greatly impaired his
constitution, and probably gave rise to those severe sufferings which
he subsequently endured. In after life, he deeply regretted the
course which he had pursued in youth, of contracting his needful
sleep in order to devote more time to study. Alluding to the
irreparable injury which his constitution received by the intem-
perate mental exertions of his early life, he has the following
remarks in one of his sermons : â€” " Midnight studies are preju-
dicial to nature. A painful experience calls me to repent of the
faults of my younger years ; and there are many before me have
had the same call to repentance." The venerable Dr. Owen was
accustomed to say, that he would gladly part with all the learning
he had acquired by sitting up late at study in younger life, if he
could but regain the health he had lost by it.
In his nineteenth year. Watts united himself to the church
of which his instructor, Mr. Rowe, was pastor. His piety, like
LIFEOF WATTS. 15
his genius, was early manifested. With regard to the commence-
ment of his religious impressions, he might have adopted the
beautiful language of Mrs. Rowe : â€” " My infant hands were early
lifted up to Thee, and I soon learned to know and acknowledge
the God of my fathers,"
Having completed his academic course in 1694, at the age of
twenty, he returned to his father's house at Southampton, where
he remained two years, prosecuting those studies more intimately
connected with the sacred olSice for which he was qualifying himself.
During this period, he composed the greater part of his hymns,
and probably several pieces in his Miscellanies. A great portion
of his time was now devoted to reading, meditation, and prayer.
After again leaving the parental home in 1696, he resided the
five succeeding years in the family of Sir John Hartopp, at Stoke
Newington, as tutor to his son.
This distinguished family deserves a notice in this sketch. Sir
John Hartopp, one of the brightest ornaments in the Church, was
a decided Non-conformist, steadily adhering to the dissentiug
interest when " the throne, the church, and the nobility were most
hostile to it." It is said that the fines unposed upon him and a few
others on account of religious principles, amounted at one time to
six or seven thousand pounds.* This eminently pious man was a
warm, personal friend and correspondent of the great Dr. Owen ;
a regular attendant upon his ministry, and a member of his church.
To him the Christian public are indebted for the preservation of
many of Owen's sermons which he wrote down in short hand
when delivered. He also furnished many materials for a Life of
this prince of English divines. He had a taste for literary pursuits,
and was versed in many of the sciences ; but the Bible was his
" chief study and divinest delight." That he might better under-
stand the text of the Scriptures, he commenced the study of He-
brew, when past the age of fifty, and retained a knowledge of the
Greek language to the latest period of life. In the reign of
Charles the Second, he was three times returned to Parliament.
He lived to the great age of eighty-five, and died in the Christian's
hope of a happy immortality.
* N'oble's Mem., ii. 833â€”348,
16 LIFEOF WATTS.
Lady Hartopp possessed the character of a truly amiable aud
pious person. The funeral sermons of these excellent individuals,
which Dr. Watts preached, form his invaluable work on Death
and Heaven â€” a favorite book with many pious readers.
The residence of Watts in the Hartopp family was always re-
membered by him with peculiar affection. Long afterwards he
remarked â€” "I can not but reckon it among the blessings of
Heaven, when I review those five years of pleasure and improve-
ment, which I spent in his ftimily in my younger part of life.
And I found much instruction myself where I was called to be an
In that pious and intelligent family he enjoyed rare opportunities
for mental, moral, and spiritual improvement. Besides attending
faithfully to his duties as teacher, he applied himself to the study
of the Scriptures in the original languages, and the best Biblical
commentaries. In the early discipline of his mind, it seems that
the one grand object of his life was ever kept in view â€” ^that of
preaching the glorious gospel of Christ â€” and that all his studies
were made subservient to his noble purpose.
On ^ the 17th of July, 1698, at the age of twenty-four, he
preached his first sermon, while residing in the family of Sir John
Hartopp ; and in the same year, was chosen assistant to Dr. Isaac
Chauncy, pastor of the Independent Church in Mark Lane, Lon-
don. Soon after his connection with Dr. Chauncy, in this capacity,
his public labors were interrupted by a dangerous illness that con-
tinued five months ; during which painful season, he learned that
" patience in suffering was a part of christian duty no less impor-
tant than activity in labor." On his recovery he immediately re-
sumed his ministerial labors ; and when Dr. Chauncy resigned his
pastoral charge in 1702, he was chosen to succeed him. After
serious deliberation he accepted the call, and addressed a letter to
the congregation, from which the following is an extract :
" You know the constant aversion I have had to any proposal
of a pastoral office, for these three years. You know, also, that
since you have given me a unanimous call thereto, I have proposed
LIFE OF W ATTS. l7
several metliods for your settlement without me ; but your choice
and your aflfections seemed to be still unmoved. I have objected
my own indisposition of body ; and I have pointed to three divines,
members of this church, whose gifts might render them more
proper for instructors, and their age for government. These things
I have urged till I have provoked you to sorrow and tears, and till
I myself have been almost ashamed. But your perseverance in
your choice, your constant profession of edification by my ministry,
the great probability you show me of building up this famous and
decayed church of Christ, and your prevailing fears of its dissolu-
tion if I refuse, have given me ground to believe that the voice of
this church is the voice of Christ. And to answer this call I have
not consulted with flesh and blood ; I have laid aside the thoughts
of myself to serve the interest of our Lord. I have given up my
own ease for your spiritual profit and your increase. I submit my
inclination to my duty ; and in hopes of being made an instrument
to build up this ancient church, I return this solemn answer to
your call, â€” that, with a great sense of my own inability in mind
and body to discharge the duties of so sacred an office, I do, in
the strength of Christ, venture upon it ; and in His name I accept
your call, promising in the presence of God and his saints, my ut-
most diligence in all the duties of a pastor, so far as God shall en-
lighten and strengthen me. And I leave that promise in the
hands of Christ, our Mediator, to see it performed by me unto you,
through the assistance of his grace and spirit."
It will be remembered that the church, to which Mr. Watts
was now called, was the same of which the celebrated Dr. John
Owen had formerly been pastor.
Shortly after his entrance upon his duties as sole pastor of this
church, Mr. Watts was seized with a dangerous illness fi*ora which,
after a long confinement, he but slowly recovered. So feeble was
his health, at this period, that the congregation thought it necessary
to provide an assistant ; and appointed the Rev. Samuel Price to
that work, in 1703. The connection thus formed between Dr.
Watts and Mr. Price continued more than forty years, and was re-
18 LIFE OF WATTS.
garded by eacL as a "jDeculiarly liappy event." The sincerest
friendship existed between tliem througli life.
While gradually recovering his strength, he addressed the follow-
ing letter to his sisters, Sarah and Mary Watts, which expresses, in
simple and affectionate terms, the language of his heart.*
*'JuNE 15, 1704."
" Dear Sisters,
Read the love of my heart in the first line of my letter and
believe it. I am much concerned to hear of my mother's continued
weakness. We take our share in these painful disorders of nature,
which afflict her whom we honor and love. I know also that your
hurries of business must be more than doubled thereby ; but we
are daily leaving care and sin behind us. The past temptations
shall vex us no more : the months which are gone return not, and
the sorrows which we hourly feel lessen the decreed number. Every
pulse beats a moment of pain away, and thus by degrees we arrive
nearer to the sweet period of life and bliss.
Bear up, my dear ones, though the ruflfiing storms
Of a vain vexing world, tread down the cares,
Those ragged thorns which lie across the road,
"Nor spend a tear upon them, Trust me. Sisters,
The dew of eyes will make the briers grow ;
Nor let the distant phantom of delight
Too long allure your gaze or swell your hope
To dangerous size. If it approach your feet,
And court your hand, forbid th' intruding joy
To sit too near your heart. Still may our souls
Claim kindred with the skies, nor mix with dust
Our better-born affections, leave the globe