Thomas Jackson.

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be employed for his Lord and Master. His
chairmen that used to carry him to the bath, he
appointed to fetch him about three o'clock, who
carried him to visit all the schools and alms-
houses, and the godly poor, especially the wi-
dows ; to whom he would give money, and with
whom he would pray, and converse with them
concerning their spiritual state, according as
their necessities required ; engaging those that
were teachers and governors to leach the As-
sembly's Catechism, buying many dozens, and
giving them to distribute to their scholars ; and
many other small books which he thought might
be useful for them ; and then would come and
see, in a week or fortnight, what progress they
had made. He also engaged several to send
their children once a week to him to be cate-
chised ; and we had about sixty or seventy chil-
dren every Lord's day at our lodging ; and they
profited much by his instructions, till some look


such offence at it that he was forced to desist.
The schoobnaster was threatened to be cited to
Wells, before the bishop ; and many others af-
frighted from it.

He also sent for ail the godly poor he could
find in that place, entertained them at his cham-
ber, and gave to every one of them as he was
able, as a thank-offering to the Lord for his
mercy to him ; and desired them, with several
others, to keep a day of thanksgiving for him ;
Mr. Fairciough, Mr. Howe, and himself per-
forming the duties of the day.

Thus though his sickness had been long, and
his expenses great, he thought he could never
spend enough for Him from whom he had re-
ceived all. He constantly gave money or apples
to all the children that came to be catechised
by him, to engage them ; besides all that he
gave to the teachers, and poor, which indeed
was beyond his ability, considering his estate.
But I am persuaded, that he foresaw that his
time would be short ; and having made a com-
petent provision for me, he resolved to lay up
the rest in heaven. He often said to me, that
if he lived never so long, he would not in-
crease his estate, now that I was provided for ;
he having no children, God's children should
have it.

But he was again designing what he should
do before he took his leave of the world : and
his next work was, to send letters to all his re-
lations and intimate friends, in most of which
he urged them to observe his counsels, for they


were likely to be his last to them. I always
wrote for him ; for he could not, by reason of
his weakness, write a line.

At this time he had a great desire to go to
Mr. Joseph Barnard's, which was about five
miles from Bath, there to finish his last work
for God that ever he did on earth ; which was
to promote the exercise of catechising in Somer-
setshire and Wiltshire. Mr. Barnard having
had a great deliverance as well as himself, he
proposed this to him as their thank-ofi'ering to
God, which they would jointly tender to him.
They had engaged one to another, to give so
much for the printing of six thousand of the As-
sembly's Catechisms, and among other friends
to raise some money to send to every minister
that would engage in the work, and to give to
the children for their encouragement in learn-
ing. This work was finished by Mr. Barnard,
after my husband was gone to his rest.

Finding himself to decline again, he appre-
hended that it was for want of using the bath ;
he therefore desired to return ; and I being fear-
ful lest he should ride home, seeing some symp-
toms of his fits, sent for the horse-litter, and so
carried him again to Bath : where, by the doc-
tor's advice, after he had taken some things to
prepare his body, he made use of the hot bath,
(the cross-bath being then too cold,) and so he
did for four days, and seemed to be refreshed.
The strength that he had in his limbs appeared
to recover, rather than abate ; and two of his
Taunton friends coming to see him, he was


cheerful with them. But on the 3d of Novem-
ber I discerned a great change in his counte-
nance; and he found a great alteration in him-
self, but concealed it from me, as I heard after.
For some friends coming to visit him, he desired
them to pray for him, for his time was very
short ; but desired them not to tell me of it.
All that day he would not permit me to move
out of the chamber from him, except once while
those friends were with him. After we had
dined, he was in a more than ordinary manner
transported with affection toward me ; which
he expressed, by returning me thanks for all
my pains and care for him and with him, and
offering up many most affectionate requests for
me to God, before he would suffer me to rise as
we sat together. At night again, at supper,
before I could rise from him, he spake thus to
me : — " Well now, my dear heart, my compa-
nion in all my tribulations and afflictions, I thank
thee for all thy pains and labours for me, at
home and abroad, in prison and liberty, in health
and sickness ;" reckoning up many places we
had been in, in the days of our affliction. With
several other most endearing and affectionate
expressions, he concluded with many holy
breathings to God for me, that he would requite
me, and never forget me, and fill me with all
manner of grace and consolations ; that his face
might still shine upon me, and that I might be
supported and carried through all difficulties.

After this he desired me to see for a " Prac-
tice of Piety ;•' and I procuring one for him, he


turned his chair from me, that I might not see,
and read the meditations about death in the lat-
ter end of tlial book; which 1 discernin^r, asked
of him, whether he apprehended that his end
was near: to which he replied, he knew not;
in a few days I would see ; and so fell into dis-
course, to divert me; desiring me to read two
chapters to him, as I used to do every night;
and so he hasted to bed, not being able to go
to prayer. With his own hands he did very
hastily undo his coat and doublet, which he had
not done in many months before. As soon as
he was in bed he told me that he felt some
more than ordinary stoppage in his head; and I
brought him something to prevent the fits, which
I feared. But in a quarter of an hour after he
fell into a very strong convulsion ; which I being
much affrighted at, called for help, and sent for
the doctors. We used all former and other
means, but no success the Lord w^as pleased to
give then to any. The convulsions continued
for two days and nights, not ceasing one hour.

It was most grievous to me, that I saw him
so likely to depart, and that I should hear him
speak no more to me; fearing that it would
liardcn the wicked to see him removed by such
a stroke : for his fits were most terrible to be-
hold. I earnestly besought the Lord, that, if it
were his pleasure, he would so far mitigate the
heavy stroke which I saw was connng upon me,
by causing him to utter something of his heart
before he took him from me ; which he gracious-
ly answered me in ; for he that had not spoken


from Tuesday night, did, on Friday morning,
about three o'clock, call for me to come to him,
speaking very correctly at times all that day.
On that night, about nine o'clock, he broke out
with an audible A'oice, speaking for sixteen
hours together, those and such like words as I
formerly gave account of; and ceased but a very
little space, now and then, all the afternoon, till
about six on Saturday in the evening, when he

About three in the afternoon he had, as we
perceived, some conflict with Satan ; for he ut-
tered these words : —

" Away, thou foul fiend, thou enemy of all
mankind, thou subtle sophister ; art thou come
now to molest me ? now I am just going ! now
I am so weak, and death upon me ! Trouble me
not ; for I am none of thine ! I am the Lord's.
Christ is mine, and I am his : his by covenant ;
I have sworn myself to be the Lord's, and his I
will be. Therefore begone."

These last words he repeated often, which I
took much notice of, that his covep.anting with
God v/as the means which he used to expel the
devil and all his temptations.

During the time that we were in Bath I had
very few hours alone with him, by reason of his
constant using the bath, and the visits of friends
from all parts thereabouts, and sometimes from
Taunton ; and when they were gone he would
be either retiring to God, or to his rest. But
what time I had with him, he always spent in
^heavenly and profitable discourse, speaking


much of the place he was going to, and his
desires to be gone. One morning as I was
dressing him, he looked up to heaven and
smiled ; and I urging him to know why, he
answered me thus : — " Ah, my love, I was
thinking of my marriage-day: it will be shortly.
what a joyful day will that be ! Will it not,
thinkest thou, my dear heart?"

Another time, bringing him some broth, he
said, " Blessed be the Lord for these refresh-
ments in the way home ; but O how sweet will
heaven be !''

Another time, "• I hope to be shortly where I
shall need no meat, nor drink, nor clothes."

When he looked on his weak consumed
hands, he would say, "These shall be changed.
This vile body shall be made like to Christ's
glorious body.

" O what a glorious day will the day of the
resurrection be ! Methinks I see it by faith.
How will the saints lift up their heads and
rejoice ; and how sadly will the wicked world
look then!

" O come let us make haste ; our Lord will
come .shortly ; let us prepare.

•' If we long to be in heaven, let us hasten
with our work ; for when that is done, away we
shall be fetched.

" O this vain foolish world, I wonder how
reasonable creatures can so dole upon it! AVhat
is in it worth the looking after? I care not to
be in it longer than while my Master hath cither
doing or suffering work for me: were that done,
farewell to earth." •


He was much in commending' the love of
Christ, and from that exciting himself and me
to obedience to him, often speaking of his suf-
ferings and of his glory.

With his love-letters, as he called the holy
history of our Lord's life, death, resurrection,
ascension, and his second coming, he seemed
always to be much ravished.

He would be frequently reckoning the choice
tokens which Christ had sent him, and which
I remember he M'ould frequently reckon up ;
1. The pardon of sin ; 2. A patent for heaven :
3. The gift of the Spirit ; 4. The robe of his
righteousness ; 5. The spoils of enemies ;

6. The charter of all liberties and privileges ;

7. The guard of his angels. The consideration
of this last he frequently solaced himself in,
saying to me often, when we lived alone in the
prison, and divers other places, " Well, my dear,
though we have not our attendants and servants,
as the great ones and rich of the world have,
we have the blessed angels of God still to wait
upon us, to minister to us, and to watch over us
while we are sleeping, to be with us when
journeying, and still to preserve us from the
rage of men and devils."

He was exceedingly affected with the three
last chapters of St. John's gospel, especially
Christ's parting words, and prayer for his dis-

But it is time for me to set a stop to my pen.
God poured into him, and he poured out so
much, that it was scarcely possible to retain


the converse of one day, without a constant
register. His heart, his Hps, his life were filled
whh grace ; in which he shone, both in heahh
and sickness, prosperity and adversity, in prison
and at hberty, in his own house and in the
churches of Christ, wherever he came : I never
heard any that conversed with him, but would
acknowledge it was to their advantage.

At my husband's first coming to Taunton, he
was entertained by Mr. Newton as a sojourner;
and after he was ordained in Taunton, in a pub-
lic association-meeting, he administered all or-
dinances jointly with him. Though he were
but an assistant, Mr. Newton would have it so,
who dearly loved him, and highly esteemed
him ; and seeing him restless in his spirit, and
putting himself to many tedious journeys to visit
me, (as he did once a fortnight twenty-five
miles,) he persuaded him to marry, contrary to
our purpose, we resolving to have lived much
longer single. The 4th of October, 1655, after
a year and two months' acquaintance, our mar-
riage was celebrated.

We lived together with Mr. Newton nearly
two years, where we were most courteously
entertained : then hoping to be more useful in
our station, we took a house; and 1 having been
always bred to work, undertook to teach a
school, and had many boarders and scholars,
our family being seldom less than twenty, and
many times thirty; my school usually consisting
of fifty or sixty children of the town and other
places. The Lord was pleased to bless us ex-


ceedingly in our endeavours ; so that many were
converted in a few years, that were before
strangers to God, All our scholars called him
" father :" and indeed he had far more care of
them than most of their natural parents, and was
most tenderly affectionate to them, especially to
their souls.

His course in his family was prayer, and
reading the Scriptures, and singing, twice a day,
except when he catechised, which was con-
stantly once, if not twice, a week. Of every
chapter that was read he expected an account,
and of every sermon, either to himself or me.
He dealt with them and his servants frequently
together, and apart, about their spiritual states,
pressing them to all iheir duties, both of the
first and second table, and calling them strictly
to account, whether they did not omit them.
He also gave them books suitable to their capa-
cities and condition, which they gave a weekly
account of to him or me; but too often by public
work was he diverted, as I am apt to think, who
knew not so well what was to be preferred.

His Lord's-days' work was great ; for though
he preached but once in his own place, yet he
was either desired by some of his brethren to
supply theirs on any exigency, or would go
where there was no minister; and so was forced
often to leave his family to me, to my great grief
and loss. In his repetitions in public, as well
as catechising, his own family came all in their
turns, to answer in the congregation, both scho-
lars and servants.


When I have pleaded with him for more of
his lime with myself and family, he would an-
swer me, that his ministerial work would not
permit him to be so constant as he wouhl ; for
if he had ten bodies and souls, he could employ
them all, in and about Taunton : and would say,
" Ah, my dear ! I know thy soul is safe. But
how many that are perishing have I to look
after ! O that I could do more for them !"

He was a holy, heavenly, tenderly affection-
ate husband; and I know of nothing that I could
complain of, but that he was so taken up that I
could have but very little converse with him.

His love was expressed to me, in his great
care for me, both sick and well ; in his provi-
sion for me; in his delight in my company;
saying often that he could not bear to be from
me, but when he was with God, or employed
for him ; and that often it was hard for him to
deny himself to be so long absent. It was irk-
some to him to make a meal without me ; nor
would he scarcely manage any affair without
conversing with me ; concealing nothing from
me that was fit for me to know: being far from
the temper of those husbands who hide all their
concerns from their wives; which he could not
endure to hear of, especially in good men.

He wa.s a faithful reprover of any thing he
saw amiss iw me, which I took as a great evi-
dence of his good will to my soul ; and if in any
thing he gave me offence, which was but seldom,
so far would he deny himself as to acknowledge
it, and desire me to pass it by, professing to me


he could never rest till he had done so; and the
like I was ready to do to him, as there was far
more reason ; by which course, if any difference
did arise, it was soon over with us.

He was a very tender master to his servants,
every way expressing it to their souls and bodies,
giving them that encouragement in their places
which they could desire ; expecting from his
whole family that respect and obedience to his
commands which their rule required; reproving
ihem that were careless and negligent in ob-
serving them.

He was frequent in keeping solemn days of
humiliation, especially against a sacrament.

He was a very strict observer of the Sabbath,
ihe duties of which he performed with such joy
and alacrity of spirit that it was most pleasant to
join with him, both in pubhc and in the family,
when we could enjoy him. And this he much
pressed ujyon Christians, to spend their Sabbaths
more in praises and thanksgivings, as days of
holy rejoicing in cur Redeemer.

All the time of his health, he rose constantly
at or before four o'clock ; and on the Sabbaths
sooner, if he awoke. He would be much troubled
if he heard any smiths or shoemakers, or such
tradesmeii, at work at their trades, before he
was in his duties with God ; saying to me often,
" O how this noise shames me ! Doth not my
Master deserve more than theirs?" From four
till eight, he spent in prayer, holy contempla-
tion, and singing o( psalms, which he much de-
hghted in, and daily practised alone, as well as


in his family. Having refreshed himself about
half an hour, he would call to family duties, and
after that to his studies, till eleven or twelve
o'clock, arranging his work for every hour in
the day. Having refreshed himself a while
after dinner, he used to retire to his study to
prayer, and so go abroad among the families he
was to visit, to whom he always sent the day
before ; going out about two o'clock, and seldom
returning till seven in the evening, sometimes
later. He would often say, *' Give me a Chris-
tian that counts his time more precious than
gold." His work in his public ministry in
Taunton being to preach but once on a Sab-
bath, and catechise, he devoted himself much
to private work, and also catechised once a
week in public besides, and repeated the ser-
mon he preached on the Sabbath day on Tues-
day in the evening.

He found much difficulty in going from house
to house, because it had not been practised a
long time by any minister in Taunton, nor by
any others of his brethren ; and he being but a
young man, to be looked upon as singular, was
that which called for much self-denial, which
the Lord enabled him to exercise. For after
he had preached in public the ministers' duty
to their people, and theirs to receive them, when
they came to them for their spiritual advantage,
he set speedily upon the work.

In this work his course was, to draw a cata-
logue of the names of the families in each street,
and to send a day or two before he intended to


visit them, that they might not be absent, and
that he might understand who was willing to
receive him. Those that sent slight excuses,
or obstinately refused his message, he would
notwithstanding visit ; and if (as some would)
they shut their doors against him, he would
speak some few affectionate words to them ; or,
if he saw cause, denounce the threatenings of
God against them that despise his ministers,
and so departed. Afterward he would send
affectionate letters to them, so full of love, and
expressions of his great desires to do their souls
good, as overcame their hearts ; and many of
them afterward readily received him into their
houses. Herein was his compassion showed
to all sorts, both poor and rich, not disdaining
to go into such houses among the poor as
were often very offensive to him to sit in, he
being of an exact and curious temper: yet would
he with joy and freedom deny himself for the
good of their souls, and that he might fulfil his
ministry among those of whom the Lord had
given him the oversight.

I perceiving this work, with what he did
otherwise, to be too hard for him, fearing often
that he would bring himself to distempers and
diseases, as he did soon after, besought him not
to go so frequently; his answer would be,
" What have I strength for, but to spend for
God ? What is a candle for, but to be burned ?"
And he w^ould say that I was like Peter, still
crying, O spare thyself! '^ But I must not
hearken to thee, no more than my Master did to


him." Though his labours were so abundant,
I never knew him, for nine years together,
under the least illness one quarter of an hour.

He was exceedingly (emperate in his diet.
Though he had a very sharp appetite, yet did he
at every meal deny himself, being persuaded
that it did much conduce to his health. His
conversation at his table was very profitable, and
yet pleasant, never rising either at home or
abroad without saying something of God, accord-
ing to the rule he laid down to others. He was
very much in commending and admiring the
mercies of God in every meal, and was still so
pleased with his provision that he would often
say he fared deliciously ever)' day, and lived far
better than the great ones of the world, who
had their tables far better furnished ; for he en-
joyed God in all, and saw his love and bounty
in what he received at every meal : so that he
would say, " O wife ! I live a voluptuous life ;
but, blessed be God, it is upon spiritual dainties,
such as the world know not and taste not of."

He was much in minding the poor that were
in want of all things ; often wondering that God
should make such a ditlereace between him and
them, both for this world and that lo come ; and
his charity was ever beyond his estate, as my-
self and many other friends conceived ; but he
would not be dissuaded, always saying that if
he were prodigal, it was for God, and not for
himself nor sin.

There were but few, if any, poor families,
especially of the godly in Taunton, but ho knew


their necessities, and did by himself, or friends,
relieve them : so that our homes were seldom
free from such as came to make complaints to
him. After the times grew dead for trade,
many of our godly men decaying, he would
give much beyond his ability to recover them.
He would buy pease and flitches of bacon, and
distribute twice a year in the cold and hard
seasons. He kept several children at school at
his own cost ; bought many lx)oks and catechisms,
and had many thousands of prayers printed and
distributed among them. And after his brethren
were turned out he gave four pounds a year him-
self to a public stock for them ; by which he
excited many others to do the same, and much
more, who else would never have done it.
And on any other occasions as did frequently
fall in, he would give even to the offence of his
friends ; so that many would grudge in the
town to give what they had agreed for ; be-
cause he would give so much. Besides all
this, the necessities of his own father and many
other relations were still calling upon him, and
he was open-handed to them all ; so that it
hath been sometimes even incredible to our-
selves to consider how much he did out of a
little estate, and therefore may seem strange to
others. Moreover, when he had received any
more than ordinary mercy at the hand of God,
his manner was to set apart some considerable
portion out of his estate, and dedicate it to the
Lord, as a thank-offering, to be laid out for his
glory in pious and charitable uses.


When I have beo^ged him to consider himself
and me, he would answer me that he was lay-
ing np, and God would repay him ; that by
liberal things he should stand, when others
might fall that censured him ; that if he sowed
sparingly, he should reap so ; if bountifully, he
should reap bountifully.

And I must confess I did often see so much
of God in his dealings with us, according to his
promises, that I have been convinced and
silenced ; God having often so strangely and
unexpectedly provided for us. Notwithstanding
all that he had done, he had at last somewhat to
dispose of to his relations and to his brethren,
besides a comfortable provision for me.

'I'hus his whole life was a continual sermon,
holding forth evidently the doctrines he preach-
ed ; humility, self-denial, patience, meekness,

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Online LibraryThomas JacksonChristian biography .. → online text (page 12 of 18)