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being not probable that he who made so great
a haste to despatch his heavenly work should
be long without his desired recompense.



He was a person with whom for many years
I was well acquainted ; and the more I knew
him, the more I loved and admired the rich and
exceeding grace of God in him. I looked on
him as one of the most elevated, refined, choice
saints that I ever knew, or expect, while I live,
to know ; and that because, among others, I ob-
served these things of him : —


1. A most sincere, pure, and absolute conse-
cration of himself to God in Christ Jesus. His
soul had first practised the covenant-dedication
which his hand afterward prescribed as a pat-
tern to others in his father-in-law's book.

There seemed no sinister end, or false aflec-
tion, to move or sway him in his way; but the
good pleasure of the Lord, the edification of his
church, and the salvation of souls, were the only
marks his eye seemed at all to regard in his
designs and acts. I know no other man's heart;
but thus he appeared to my most attentive ob-
servation ; and so I fully believe concerning him,
as much as of any person I ever saw.

2. In this his dedication to God, he was car-
ried with the highest and purest flame of divine
love that ever I observed in any; and that love
arising from a clear vision of the beauty of divine
perfection, especially his gospel love; the sight
of which beauty and excellence seemed per-
petually to possess and ravish his soul. This
love seemed wholly separated from all that car-
nal heat that would carry him into fantastic or
indecent expressions ; but his mind seemed to
be always ascending with its might in the great-
est calmness and satisfaction. Thus have I oft
observed him in frequent and silent elevation
of heart, manifested by the most genuine and
private lifting up of his eyes, and joined with
the sweetest smile of his countenance, when, I
am confident, he little thought of being seen by
any. Thus have I oft heard him flovv' in prayer
and discaurse, with the clearest conviction, and


dearest taste of divine excellence and good-
ness ; and the fullest, highest, and most pleased
expression of his being overcome by it, and
giving up his all in esteem to it. But this love,
in the greatest demonstration, appeared by his
perpetual and insatiable spending of his whole
self for the glory of God, the good of the church,
and the salvation of souls. His head was ever
contriving, his tongue pressing, and his whole
man actinsr, some design for these. So he lived,
and so he died. He laboured and suffered him-
self into the maladies which ended him : and
when he was at Bath, like a perfiect skeleton,
and could move neither hand nor foot, when his
physicians had forbidden him all preaching, and
dissuaded him from vocal praying, (as being
above his strength,) yet then would he almost
daily be carried in his bath-chair to the alms-
houses, and little children's schools, and there
give them catechisms, teach them the meaning
of them, and call them to an account, how they
remembered and understood. And he died de-
signing a way how every poor child in Somer-
setshire might have, learn, and be instructed in,
the Assembly's Catechism ; yea, and at the ex-
pression of his affection, I cannot but mention
the frequentest ecstasies or raptures of spirit,
wherein he lay on his bed, (when his body was
even deprived of all power of its own motion,
but with no great pain,) in consideration of di-
vine love to him in general, and in particular
that he felt no great pain. Never heard I God
so loved and thanked in the highest confluences


of pleasing providences by others, as he was
by him in his affliction, for not inflicting great
pain upon him ; though he v»'as otherwise so
sad a spectacle of weakness, and looked so hke
death, that some great ladies often hindered his
comingf into the bath, the ohastliness of his look
did so affright them.

3. His pure and sacred love wrought in him
a great spirit of charity and meekness to men
of other judgments and persuasions, and great
affection tov/ard all such in whom he found any
spiritual good. His zeal was all of a building,
and not destroying, nature. He had too much
wisdom to esteem Lis own thoughts to be the
standard of all other men's. His clear light and
pure heat made him of a more discerning, sub-
stantial, and divine temper, than to reject any
(in whom charity could see any thing of a new
nature) for differing from him in the modes or
forms of discipline or worship, or disputable

4. Suitably to his high degree of holiness and
divine communion, he enjoyed the richest assu-
rance of divine love to himself in particular, and
of his saving interest in Christ. I believe few
men were ever born that attained to so clear,
satisfied, and powerful evidence that his sins
were pardoned, and his person accepted in Jesus
unto eternal life, and had more glorious fore-
tastes of heaven. I remember once coming in
when he was kneeling down to family prayer,
his heart was in that duty carried forth into such
expressions of love and praise for the sealings


of everlasting life as I never heard before or
since ; and such as, I am fully satisfied, none
could express but who had received the white
stone with the new name in it.

But this was not accidental to him, or un-
usual ; for (whatever clouds he might possibly
have, though I know of none,) I am sure, for a
good time l3efore his death, he lived in the very
dawning to glory, both in the full assurance of
it as his portion, and a spirit of sanctity, love,
and praise, like unto it.

And though in the very hour of his dying, his
disease had heated his head ; and in his rap-
tures he had expressions which at another time
his grace and reason would not have used ; yet
all the copies which I have seen of those trans-
ports, in the substance of them, speak only fuller
assurance of God^s love to him, and his highest
returns of love to Christ again.

And I do not at all wonder, that a person
shining so much with the divine image, and
living so uninterruptedly in the nearest divine
communion, shonld enjoy such assurance of
God's love, and be filled so with joy therein,
and making such returns of love and praise








Mr. Nathanael Heywood was born in
Little-Leaver, in the parish of Bolton-le- Moors,
in Lancashire, He was descended from godly
parents, Richard and Alice Heywood ; and was
baptized in the parish church; September 16th,
1633. During- his infancy he was exceedingly
weak and sickly, much afflicted with fits, and
was frequently under the sentence of death, in
the apprehension of all spectators. His tender-
hearted parents often gave him up : but God,
w^ho quickeneth the dead, raised him from the
gates of the grave, that by him he might raise
sinners from death to spiritual life. Those
violent fits so weakened his spirits, that in his
younger days he was not judged tit to be trained
up for the ministry; and therefore his parents
frequently took him from school, and set him to
learn to write and cast accounts, intending to
send him (o London for* an apprentice. But he
recruiting as to natural strength, they, being
encouraged by his extraordinary capacity for


learning, kept him still at school, having the
advantage of a learned and diligent master near
at hand, who encouraged ihem much to breed
him a scholar, especially observing his inclina-
tions that way. At last they resolved upon it ;
and when he had passed those juvenile studies
at school, making good proficiency, notwith-
standing his frequent interruptions, he was
judged ready for the university at fourteen
years of age : whither he went, and was ad-
mitted. May 4ih, 1648, in Trinity College, Cam-
bridge- He was well approved of for learning,
and fell close to his studies, performing the usual
exercises with applause. He was of a quick ap-
prehension, solid judgment^ tenacious memory;
which seldom meet in one pereon ; and was
therefore fit to matiage what he undertook with
great facilitj' : so that he profited in academical
learning beyond his equals.

As yet his heart was not seasoned with grace.
Though he was religiously educated, complying
with holy exercises, loved God's people, and
was not tainted with grass scandals ; yet he
had not discerned the evil of sin, the necessity
of Christ, till he was providentially brought un-
der the ministry of Mr. Hammond, Fellow of
Magdalen College, preacher at St. Giles's ; by
whose plain and powerful preaching his heart
was smitten with a sound conviction, which cost
him many sad thoughts of heart, as well as tears,
but ended in a sound conversion, and sincere
covenanting with God, and centring his soul by
faith on Jesus Christ. Then he associated with


serious Christians, and walked exemplarily;
howbeit, he complained of his backshdincs,
which he repented of, and his soul was healed.
AVhen he had taken his decree, he went to
London, and there heard Mr. Peter Sterry; and
was much taken with his parts, and manner of

When he came, down into the country, his
father judged it convenient to dispose of him
under the tuition of some reverend minister, by
whose care and example he might be prepared
for farther service. And it pleased God in his
providence to fix him in the faiuily of that judi-
cious divine, Mr. Edward Gee, of Eccleston ;
where he continued about two years, studied
hard, behaved himself orderly, and profited
much : so that he often blessed God for the
good he met with in that family ; and indeed
he was moulded into the method and practices
of that holy and eminent man of God ; whose
excellent treatises of prayer and government
speak his worth : a man of great learning, or-
thodoxy, and exact holiness ; a most substan-
tial Scriptural preacher.

While Mr. Heywood lived in Mr. Gee's
family, God directed his thoughts to a young
gentlewoman in the neighbourhood, Elizabeth
Parre, nearly related to Dr. Parre, bishop of
the Isle of Man ; whom, in convenient time,
he married, and she became a pious, prudent,
provident wife for him ; by whom he had
several children. His elder son succeeded in
his father's place, as pastor to that people, in


their newly erected meeting-place ; a young
man of parts, and of exemplary piety.

When Mr. Heywood was married, it pleased
God to give him a call to a people in York-
shire ; for he had a great des-ire to be employ-
ed in his Lord's work : and that very day that
an invitation came to him, he told the messen-
ger that he had been spending most of it in fast-
ing and prayer ; wherein he found his heart
much enlarged, and looked upon that call as an
answer to prayer ; and thereupon freely em-
braced it, and in convenient season took a

The place to w^hich he was called was 111-
ingworth chapel, in the vicarage of Halifax.
When he had preached a day or two with them,
the people engaged him to settle with them,
which he did ; and continued three or four
years, and was an instrument of much good,
having a full auditory, and some seals of his
ministry. But the devil, envying the success
of the gospel, raised up some potent adversaries
against him, who maligned and opposed him
for his faithfulness in admonitions. Some
meetings there were about his continuance ;
one said to him, " Mr. Heywood, you have
raised differences and disturbances since you
came." He answered, '* I have not sought the
peace of the place, but the good of it," This
the man ruminated upon, and could not tell
what to make of that expression ; not remem-
bering that the principal design of the gospel
and its publishers is the good of souls ; but the


accidental fruit of it is dissension, through the
corruption of men's hearts, according to what
our blessed Lord expressed, Matt, x, 34 :
" Think not that I am come to send peace on
earth ; I came not to send peace, but a sword."
In this controversy about his stay, an earnest
request was sent to him by the peopie o{ Orms-
kirk, to come to them. He hearkened to them,
having several discouragements at Illingworth,
not 'here fit to be named : notwithstanding,
some cordial friends in that congregation stuck
close to him, and challenged an interest in him ;
both sides using more than ordinary arguments
and importunity, exceedingly puzzled him, and
set him upon the rack of suspense. He ear-
nestly sought to God about it, he begged the
advice and prayers of his friends, and at last
was counselled to refe'i' the business to several
ministers indifferently chosen by lx5th sides, to
hear w^hat could be said, understand circum-
stances, and give their judgment in this weighty
case, to which of these places his way was
most clear. Indeed, a tliird place put in vigor-
ously for him, namely, Thornton, in Bradford
parish ; but the controversy was chiefly between
Ormskirk and Illingworth. The ministers met
about this concern at Wigan, in Lanca-shire, in
January, 1656, with two or three of the inha-
bitants of those three places. Much debate
there was, and some hard words passed ; the
business was difficult, and cost many hours'
discourse, both in the day and in the evening :
and, upon a serious view o( the reasons on ail


hands, at last ministers concluded that his way-
was clear to leave Yorkshire, and betake him-
self to Ormskirk ; which, being a great parish,
and a considerable market-town, and the people
vacant, and very importunate, they judged that
he might do God and his church more service
in that great place. And, indeed, his own in-
clinations carried him most that way, upon
some peculiar reasons. He removed with his
family thither in the spring, 1657, where he
was entertained with much respect and great
solemnity : and there he laboured faithfully and
diligently in the course of his public ministry,
private instruction, visiting the sick, till August
24th, 1662, that black day, wherein so many
were sentenced and struck dead in law as to
any public service.

The annual income of this vicarage was very
small, not amounting to above £30 a year ; yet
there was an augmentation added of £50 a
year by Queen Elizabeth, upon an itinerant
preacher, which had been long fixed upon the
minister of that place. There were four of
them in Lancashire; this was one ; and jG200
per annum was paid out of the revenues to
those four : this v/as paid by several trustees at
the audit.

At the return of King Charles IL, one Mr.
Stanninghaugh, parson of Augham, worth jC140
a year, about two miles from Ormskirk, rode
up to London, and, by the help of friends, sur-
reptitiously obtained this .£50 a year to be set-
tled upon himself; which gave occasion to


some persons to reflect upon a sermon -which
Mr. Hey wood preached at Orniskirk, upon a
day of thanksgiving for the king's restoration,
upon 2 Sam. xix, 30," And Mephibosheth said
unto the king, Yea, let him take all, forasmuch
as my lord the king is come again in peace into
his own house :" which was indeed an excel-
lent discourse, greatly approved, and highly
applauded by all, especially the gentry, who
earnestly solicited him to print it ; but he re-
fused, not out of disloyalty, but modesty ; not
because he durst not own his sovereign, but he
was not willing to be much taken notice of in
the world.

Mr. Hey wood digested this disingenuous act
of his neighbour and pretended friend with great
equanimity and calmness ; and it proved a worm
to the one, and a blessing to the other : for,
though this Mr. Stanninghaugh's parsonage
was jC140 a year, and his tenement wms £30 a
year, and this £oO yearly, and he had no child ;
yet he left nothing at his death but debt, and
ins wife in a poor condition.

But it pleased God from that time to bless
Mr. Heywood's small income incredibly : and
it is next to a miracle to consider what great
things he did, when, shortly after, he was turn-
ed out of all, and yet he paid some debts, and
maintained his numerous family in a good de-
corum ; for he had nine children. He took a
lease for three lives of a house and land, paid
jC60, built a good part of it ; paid jC30 for buy-
ino- out a lease elsewhere ; maintained his two


sons at school at Holland, which cost him jC14
a year ; sent one to be educated in university
learning ; besides many sore sicknesses in his
family. Yet such was the blessing of God,
that he waded through all, without contracting
any debt^ but rather increasing his estate out
of his small income. This holy man was very
sensible of this strange providence, and often
expressed it with admiring thankfulness.


In the year 1662, August 24th, the Act of
Uniformity struck Mr. Heywood civilly dead,
with the rest of his brethren ; howbeit he con-
tinued his public preaching in the church after
that day, without disturbance, till the place was
filled up with a new vicar, one Mr. Ashworth,
a schoolmaster, who lived six or eight miles
from thence, taught his school, rode thither on
Saturday, and back on ^Monday morning ; and
was absent all the week for several years : so
that Mr. Heywood still seemed to have the
sole charge of that town, visiting the sick, in-
structing them, praying with them, preaching
privately to them, as occasion was offered. He
was abundant in the work of the Lord, not only
in his own parish, but at Wigan, Warrington,
Liverpool, Preston, Eccleston, and, upon a call,
in more remote places.


But in his own parish, and among his old
hearers, he was in labours more abundant : he
usually preached twice on a Lord's day, some-
times several times in week-days, ordering his
labours in several parts of the parish, both in
the day and night. Yea, in times of great
danger he has preached at one house in the
beginning of the night, and then gone two miles
on foot over mosses, and preached toward
morning to another company at another house.

Nor was he scant)- and short in his sermons,
but usually very long, two hours at least, often
three ; yea, somelimcs he would have continued
four or iive hours praying and preaching. His
heart was so fully set upon his ^Master's work
that he forgot his own strength, and his hear-
ers' patience. Nor did he tediously dream over
his work, but was full of zeal, vigour, tender-
ness, and affection, often straining his voice be-
yond what his natural strength could well bear,
wliicli occasioned torturing and mortal diseases.
Like a candle, he spent himself to give others

Neither was he a mere voice, and no more,
as some preachers that, like thunder, give a
loud crack, without a distinct sound or signifi-
cancy. His sermons were stuffed witli solid
divinity, Scripture arguments, alluring similes,
hearl-melling passages. He was an excellent
text-man, producing solid interpretations ; an
experienced casuist, resolving cases of consci-
ence with great satisfaction ; a clear disputant,
stating controversies solidly and substantially


answering objections learnedly and distinctly
and proving the truth demonstratively. He was
a pathetical preacher, driving the nail home, in
close convictions of conscience ; warm exhor-
tations to conversion, or to particular duties ;
plain and undeniable directions ; still laying
open and obviating Satan's wiles, the deceits
of a bad heart, and the ensnaring insinuations
of a wicked world ; rifling the conscience by a
thorough examination ; comforting God's chil-
dren with gospel promises.

This indeed was his masterpiece and main
scope in his preaching, to lay open the excel-
lences of the blessed Jesus, and sinners' great
necessity of him : displaying, in lively colours,
the love of God in sending his Son ; the love
of Christ in the unparalleled work of redemption ;
the offices, purchases, and undertakings of the
Son of God ; unfolding the covenant of grace,
the operations of the Spirit, and in applying the
merits of Christ. The truth of this appears in
two excellent discourses, printed since his
death, transcribed out of his own notes, as he
preached them the same year in which he died.
The one is called, " Christ the best Gift," and
is grounded on John iv, 10 ; the other entitled,
" Christ the best Master," grounded upon John
xiii, 13. These two excellent treatises are
bound up together, printed after his death ; for
he would never be persuaded to publish any
thing; though, doubtless, they would have been
more accurate, if he had imagined they would
have seen the light. But such as they are,


they have proved very acceptable and profitable
to the church of God. Many have read them
with pleasure, and some good divines have
quoted passages out of them.

His labours in the ministry were so exceed-
ingly welcome that the loss of him in public
work was greatly bewailed by the whole town
and parish : he was beloved of all, good and
bad. A poor ignorant man came to him when
he was turned out, saying, " Ah, Mr. Heywood,
we would gladly have you preach again in the
church." " Yes," said he, " I would as gladly
preach as you desire it, if I could do it with a
safe conscience in conforming." The man
replied, " O sir, many a man now-a-days makes
a great gash in his conscience : cannot you
make a little nick in yours ?"

That was a remarkable passage which fell
out at Ormskirk,on July 30th, 1662, which Mr.
Iley wood thus describes in a letter to a friend :
" About four o'clock that day in the afternoon
was dreadful thunder and lightning for a long
time together ; and in the town of Ormskirk,
and about it, fell a great shower of hail in a ter-
rible tempest. Hailstones were as big as ordi-
nary apples ; some say nine inches in compass.
One stone that I took up was above four in-
ches, after it had thawed in my hand. The
hail broke all our glass windows westward ; we
have not one pane whole on that side. So it is
with most of the houses in and about the town.
It hath cut off all the ears of our standing corn ;
so that most fields that were full of excellent


barley, and other grain, are not worth reaping.
It hath shaken the apple trees, and, in some
places, bruised the apples in pieces. The hail
cut boughs from trees ; and some say there are
strange apparitions in the air, of which I shall
give you a farther account. All, especially the
ignorant, were much terrified, thinking it had
been the day of judgment. Certainly it was a
sad sign of God's displeasure with ns ; and I wish
it be not a presage of more abiding judgments.
They tell me that my small share of loss will
amount to ten pounds at least. In half an hour
all this hurt was done. The Lord sanctify this
sudden stroke to me and my poor people !"

Mr. Clark, in his e>;amples, hath this story,
and mentions Mr. Hey wood's attestation of it;
which yet I thought fit to relate here ; partly
because this is fuller than he relates it ; partly
to show how observant this holy man was of
the remarkable providences of God. It was
his observation, that this natural storm was a
sad presage of a mortil storm on ministers and
churches, Avhich fell the very month after, that
rooted up so many useful fruit-bearing trees,
marred so much good fruit, and shattered the
glass by which the light of saving truth is con-
veyed into the house of God.

This good man was so endeared to this
people that he was resolved never to part from
them till death made the divorce. Of them
thus he writes : — " I have a loving though poor,
docile though ignorant, people. They flock in
very great rjumbers to the ordinances ; and 1


have hopes of doing some good (it may be al-
ready begun) among them. I had some notion
to conform ; but I will not change on any ac-
coimt whatsoever. Let me have your prayers ;
help me for this poor people, whom 1 love as
my own children, and long after in the bowels
of Christ."

He had frequent distempers upon his body,
which much promoted God's work upon his
heart. In the year 1667 he had a violent dis-

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Online LibraryThomas JacksonChristian biography .. → online text (page 15 of 18)