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I would do for myself,) that to me to live may
be Christ, and to die, gain. Yesterday for
some hours I was in extreme torment, but am
much easier, I bless God, to-day ; but my pain
is not in the same manner as formerly, but hke
an ulcer in the bladder, which makes my disease
more dangerous as well as painful. It is the
Lord's mercy that I am not utterly consumed, that
I can sit thus long to write to you, which many
times I cannot ; but I am now weary with it."

The last letter (so far as I can find) was by
him dated October 23d, 1677, which I shall
mostly transcribe : —


** My dear Brother, — This evening I re-
ceived yours, for which I thank you. It breathes
nothing but love and comfort to me. O how
sweet ! how seasonable ! iove in you, O how
tender ! Especially I thank you for your pray-
ers, and the prayers of others by your means.
I account them a precious treasure, and the
surest and speediest remedy in ail troubles.
pray again ! Who knows but that may prevail
when nothing else can. [ have been sensibly
better since that day of your tears and groans.
But who am I that any should be concerned for
me 1 a poor, weak, useless wretch, nothing, and
loss than nothing. I have been long, in regard
of work, in God's vineyard, a withered branch,
a dry stick ; and now my body is withered like
the grass, my skin parched, my moisture dried
up through extremity of pain, which hath con-
tinued nine or ten weeks, day and night.
About a month ago, friends seeing death in my
face and looks, they prevailed with me to send
for Dr. Grundy, who found me in a languishing
condition, yet not without some hope. He told
me, my distemper was not the stone, nor ulcer
in the bladder, (which I feared because of my
sharp pains and soreness,) but a dysury ; my
blood was vitiated ; my moisture sour ; and
there wanted due separation of the serum from
the blood ; that it would require much time and
patience to bring the body to a good state, &c.
For since I have been taking one sort or other
of physic : and am now taking a diet-drink for
the scurvy, which I think hath done me most


good ; but still my pain continues, though not
altogether so acute as at the first. But I have
very weary, restless nights : many times I am
constrained to get up, and walk two or three
hours. But God supp)orts; his word comforts
in all, and over all ; his ways are mercy and
truth ; it is his mercy that I am not consumed ;
yea, it is mercy and faithfulness that I am
afflicted. I have reason to say, I could not
have been without it ; nay, I would not have
been without this trial for an earthly kingdom.
If God please to spare my life, and restore
strength, I hope others will find that I have
gained considerably by this seasonable adven-

" I am your indebted and endeared brother,
N. He V WOOD."

His distempers, growing thus upon him gra-
dually, wore away and weakened his bodv, and
took out the pins and plucked down the stakes
of his frail tabernacle. He wore away insen-
sibly : his friends, seeinor he had strength to
walk, did not apprehend his end so near as in-
deed it proved. On Thursday, December 1 3th,
1677, they perceived him to alter, and grow
something w^orse than he had been, not so
much in the violence of pain as in the decay
of spirits, and fallinof into drowsiness and slum-
berinir. That very day he said, with tears run-
ning down his face, that he could \Aillinorly die
if it Avere the next hour, but for the good of the
church and his poor wife and children ; and


with them he could be content to live, were it
in prison. That night, being ready to go to
bed, he sat down in his chair, and looking up
toward heaven, moved his eyes very much.
His wife asked him, how^ he did : he could not
answer, as she supposed; but soon after he
said he would go to bed. Being got to bed,
he fell into the like trance, and lay for a while
speechless. Being better, he looked about him,
and saw them weeping, and said, " If you
knew Christ better, this carnal affection would
cease, and natural would be sanctified, and run
in a spiritual channel. O learn to know Christ
more ! For my own part I have preached Christ
all my life, and, I bless God, with good success.
It is common with many now-a-days to have
base and low thoughts of Christ ; but if I had
twenty lives to live, I would spend them all in
his work."

On Friday a kinsman that was come from
London visited him, but he was so weak and
listless that he was very unfit for converse ;
and indeed at the best he was sparing in dis-
course. He used to speak little ; but what he
spake was very pithy, pertinent, and senten-

On Saturday night, Mr. Starky, a reverend
and godly minister, visited him. He asked him
whether it was any trouble to him that he did
not conform. He answered, " No ; it is a great
comfort to me." This he spoke with much
cheerfulness, adding some more words to evi-
dence his satisfaction in what he had done and


suffered. Mr. Starky asked him what promises
he could now rely upon, or what Scripture pas-
sages supported him. He answered, " For me
to live is Christ, and to die is gain," Phil, i, 21.
" Christ hath loved me, and given himself for
me," Gal. ii, 20. He was frequently repeat-
ing those words, " Come, Lord Jesus, come

About four hours before he died, being asked
how he did, he answered, " Very well." His
last words that he was heard to utter were,
" Come away, Lord, come, come !" and so he
breathed out his soul on the Lord's day morning,
December 16th, 1677, about nine o'clock; so
God made the day of his hard and sore labour
the day of his entrance into his eternal rest.


It is worthy of observation, that God hath
drawn off many eminent ministers and choice
Christians from the stage of this world, near or
upon that day. This holy day of heavenly rest
halh commenced upon them the everlasting day
of rest in heaven. They parted with this jarring
music on earth, to be joined to that celestial
choir above. This our brother often made
melody in his heart, thou^li he was not very
tunable in his voice below : now the high praises
of God are sounded l)y him, and at the great day,


soul and body shall make a melodious concert
in that blessed harmony.

And now this holy, learned, industrious man
of God is advanced above guilt, corruption,
temptation, and persecution, pains of body, fears
of spirit, disturbances in God's worship, impri-
sonments, confiscations, banishments. O what
a blessed state have they above taken posses-
sion of! Happy souls, that are safely lodged in
the arms of their Redeemer!

As for the interment, it was judged meet that
this solemnity should be put off till Wednesday,
December 19th, 1677, that distant friends might
have seasonable notice ; and on that day Mr.
Starky, a nonconformist minister, preached an
excellent sermon in the parish church at Orms-
kirk (no man forbidding him ; nay, all that were
any way concerned consenting) upon Golossians
iii, 4 : " When Ghrist, who is our life, shall
appear, then shall ye also appear with him in
glory." There was a vast confluence of all sorts
of people at his funeral, great lamentation, and
there were many signal demonstrations of uni-
versal love and respect, which he had from all
the country. His body was laid in the chancel,
and burying place which belongs to the ancient
i^imily of Stanleys, of Bickerstaff, knights and
baronets, with their free consent and desire.
The reverend minister that preached, after he
had acutely, learnedly, and profitably handled
his text, gave a short but full account of him,
in his several capacities, as minister, husband,
father, friend, and especially as a Christian.


And as the echoes of the hearers gave testi-
mony to the truth of what was spoken, so to
their sad resentment of their irreparable loss ;
all the town, in their several capacities, doing
him honour in their peculiar way. Mr. Con-
stable (the chief officer in the town, of consider-
able authority) carried the staff (like a mace)
before the corpse ; and the rest walked in their
due and decent order.

Now although this was insignificant to the
dead, and not edifying much to the living, yet
decent burials have always, among civilized
nations, been accounted the duty of the living,
and an honour to the dead. This good man
honoured God while living, and God honoured
him at his death, and advanced his soul to bet-
ter and eternal honour.

Mr. Heywood went to his grave in peace,
after all his tumnhuous tossings upon the tem-
pestuous sea of this world. He died in the
forty-fourth year of his age, having lived long in
a little time. 1 find several choice men taken
out of the world about that age. The famous
Dr. Whitaker died in his forty-seventh year ;
and our famous Mr. William Perkins lived but
forty-four years, being cut off by a violent fit of
the stone.

And indeed we have frequently observed, that
laborious ministers are short-lived. Some are
of weak constitutions, and spend their lungs
with speaking ; or by a sedentary life contract
diseases, or are fretted Avith the uniowardness
of their people ; or God in judgment takes them


away as a punishment to a wicked world. How-
ever, like a candle, they spend themselves to
give light to others. Many young men are very
zealous, and make haste with their work, and
get it quickly despatched, and go to rest be-
times. O, how^ many promising plants have
been plucked up of late years, that were laden
with choice fruit ; while some withered trees,
barren and fruitless, still stand cumbering the
ground ! But the sovereign Lord knows what
is fittest, and doeth all things well.

A little while before Mr. Hey wood died, he
said to a friend, '' 1 think this turning out of our
licensed places will cost Mr. Yates and me our
lives. O this goes heavily ! Our casting out of
our great places was not so much as casting us
out of our little places." And, indeed, Mr. Yates,
of Warrington, died shortly after


Having thus given a brief account of Mr.
Heywood's birth, life, employment, and death,
I shall select some few characters of him,
imitable by his surviving brethren, friends, and
hearers; for the memory of the just is blessed;
and possibly generations yet to come may reap
benefit from what thoy find recorded of him.
I dare appeal to the God of truth, that searcheth
hearts, that the description I shall give of him


is true, which I have by personal knowledge or
credible testimony.

1. As to his proportion, physiognomy, and
constitution, these were comely enough: no
part was lacking, crooked, or deformed. He
was tall and straight; had blackish curled hair;
not fat, nor very lean, yet fatter in his body than
he seemed by his face ; of a healthful constitu-
tion mostly after he was past his childhood ;
which might have continued long, had not the
vessel been cracked by impetuous dashings.
His over driving took off the chariot-wheels ;
for all agreed that his excessive pains laid the
foundation of those diseases that at last wasted
his spirits. He was an excellent footman, and
could walk both fast and far ; and in his last
distemper walked much, and found most ease
therein. In his best health he was an extraor-
dinary sweater, especially in his preaching; his
sweat hath dropped at his hair-ends, and wet
his band all over. Letters were wet in his
pocket through the linings, as if put in water.
It may be that sweating was some advantage to
him ; and that when he could not take that pains
to sweat, and thereby evaporate those humours,
they might settle, and gather into acute diseases.
Yet want of leisurely cooling might prejudice
him. Once old Mr. Woods and he preached
an exercise in a chapel in a hot summer-day.
The number of people v%"as too many to come
within hearing. .Mr. Heywood having preached
iirst, Mr. Woods Vvilhdrew the assembly into a
large field, where that excellent, solid, laborious


man of God preached under a shady tree ; Mr.
Heywood, sitting in a chair, got an extreme cold,
which cost him dear afterward.

2. As to his disposition, he was naturally
choleric, being of a sanguine complexion ; but
such was the predominance of grace that it did
very little appear in him, being regulated and
rectified with that corrective of God's fear, which
turned his natural constitution into a spiritual
channel, and put a due bias into it. He was
much transported in the affection of love, where
reason dictated a discovery of the loveliness of
the object, both in spiritual and natural things.
In his younger days he was judged to be in-
clined to melancholy, sitting sometimes silent,
and poring upon something ; and so he Avas in
his last distemper. Yet at times he was very
cheerful and facetious ; and this (with recre-
ating himself with his children) was all the re-
creation that he used for many years. He was
indeed wonderfully witty and ingenious when
he slacked the strings a little, and applied him-
self that way, which was very rarely; his mind
being ordinarily intent upon more necessary
business in his study, or soul concerns.

3. As to his entrance into the ministry, and
his judgment in ecclesiasiical points, he was
(according to his education) a strict presbyte-
rian, avoiding prelatical authority on the one
hand, . and congregational democracy on the
other. Upon his first settling at Ormskirk, he
presently applied himself to the ministers of
that class in that division where God had cast


his lot ; and after trial and approbation of his
ministerial abilities, learning, and fitness for
that place, consent of the people expressed, he
was solemnly set apart by fasting and prayer,
and imposition of hands, to the work of the
ministry, in a public congregation, to the great
satisfaction of all that were concerned. The
reverend ministers that laid hands on him were
Mr. Thomas Johnson, of Halsall ; Mr. Thomp-
son, of Sefton; Mr. Edward Gee, of Eccleston;
Mr. Bell, of Highton; all worthy, eminent men,
and some others.

4. As to his ministerial labours, I shall add
little to what hath been said. He willingly was
spent in the service oi' his Lord and Master.
He prayed and wept, preached and sweated, in
public and private, in season and out of season ;
he constantly preached twice a day, catechised,
exhorting, admonishing with all long-suffering.
He was much in spending days in solemn fast-
ing and prayer with Christian friends in his
parish and elsewhere. He loved and delighted
in the communion of saints; so that those few
Christians in those parts lamentably bewail the
loss of him as their pastor and leader, their
prompter to, and helper in, those spiritual exer-
cises. His heart was set to do good to all, but
his delight was in God's children. He refused
not to come and visit the poorest and wickedest,
that either sent for him, or that he judged would
make him welcome, or where he had any hopes
of doing good. He was diligent in visiting the
sick, and took great pains with the ignorant.


procuring catechisms for them that were willing
to learn, instructing them, and using ingenious
artifices to bring them into a love of religion,
and engaging young people to learn.

5. He was exceedingly meek and patient, not
only in bearing his bodily pains with an invin-
cible spirit; but enduring the aifronts, reproaches,
and various indignities that Vv'cre offered him,
with a heroic cheerfulness ; yea, he gloried in
them as the afflictions of Christ; his spirit was
so sweetly calmed that none ever heard him
revile or speak evil of the instruments, but many
have heard him pity and pray for them. It is
true, his spirit was sometimes so disturbed that
he would dream of them, and mention them in
his sleep ; but still he bore a compassionate
heart toward them, and would often bewail their
condition : though some of the townsmen, and
others, thought some prosecutions were mali-
cious and unreasonable, not fit to be named,
yet he freely forgave all, as an offence against
himself, and affectionately prayed for their re-
pentance, and the pardon of their sin against
God ; often saying, " If this be the worst they
can do, we shall shift well enough." He had
in some considerable degree learned that hard
lesson our Lord teacheth, Matthew v, 44 : " But
I say unto you. Love your enemies, bless them
that curse you, do good to them that hate you,
and pray for them which despitefully use you,
and persecute you." This is a great height of
true Christianity, to do good, and bear evil, bear
our cross, and follow Christ with patience and


6. He was very faithful to his friends, and
looked upon the bond of friendship as sacred
and not to be violated, whether in the business
of counselling, and keeping secrets, or preserv-
ing and performing the trust reposed in him ;
and this was not small, nor from persons incon-
siderable, and this upon several accounts ; put-
ting himself to much cost, many troubles, and
some inconveniences, rather than seem by negli-
gence to falsify his word, or in any respect to
fail of his duty. It was conscience of his duty
ioward God that awed his spirit in those cases
wherein no mortal could detect or punish him
for neglect. He was marvellously obliging in
his deportment ; very taking in his discourse,
with such as he could be free with, instructing
the ignorant, indulging the impotent ; by words
or carriage manifesting his dislike of sin, but
encouraging those that discovered any sparks
of true piety, however they might differ from
him in some things ; for he was of a catholic

7. He was very humble and self-denying,
which was the ornament of all his other graces
and eminent qualifications : this indeed was his
master-piece. He had always very mean thoughts
of himself, and of his own undertakings, dis-
liking others' commendations of him ; which
indeed were to him like a thunderbolt, as the
German divine said of men's praises ; yea, he
would even cover his face with shame, and
modestly blush when any spoke well of him.
His maxim was rather to be, than seem, good ;


not affecting triumphs, but approving his heart
to God; being more pleased with God's gracious
acceptance, and the consciousness of his own
integrity, than affecting the favour of great ones
or the applause of the vulgar : though there was
scarcely any minister that had such general ap-
probation, or flocking after him ; yet his spirit
was not lifted up therewith. In him was verified
the observation, that honour is like a shadow,
which, being pursued, flies away; and the more
a man flies from it, the more it follows him.
He could never be persuaded to print any of his
labours, though he was often solicited thereto;
for he judged nothing that he did worth exposing
to public view; he so far disliked the humour
of ostentation that he abstained from doing that
which might have been profitable to the church.
Though his sermons were elaborate and accu-
rate, yet very pathetic al, which he desired to
be conveyed only to the ears and hearts of his
hearers. His modesty locked up his lips in
company, unless he had a just call to speak ;
and he spoke with great judgment, and as much
humility and submission to better judgments,
but always with great advantage to his hearers.
He w^as mild in his censures, and spoke well
of others' well-meaning undertakings. He com-
mended all that in any thing were praiseworthy,
and envied them not that honour which was due
to them.

8. He was much and mighty in prayer. He
had an excellent gift in confessing sin, peti-
tioning for mercy, and thankfulness to God for


mercies received. He did with apt and pro-
per Scripture expressions wrestle with God in
prayer. how frequently and fervently did
he pour out his soul to the Lord with sighs
and groans, strong cries and tears ! He had
a large measure oi' the Spirit of adoption, and
was usually large, and much enlarged in that
duty, especially upon extraordinary occasions.
Though he had long used to go to God alone,
yet in his last sickness he was more abundant
in closet prayer. His wife and children, coming
to him, have often found him upon his knees.
And the Lord gave many signal impressions
upon his spirit, and remarkable returns of his
prayers. Many years ago, when his wife was
dangerously sick at Godley, in Yorkshire, nigh
to death, he told her she must not die at that
time. She demanded of him why he thought
so. He answered, " Because my heart is much
enlarged in prayer to beg for thy life ;" accord-
ingly God raised her up at that tim.e. And he
hath often taken notice of the frame of his spirit
in prayer for several sick persons ; and hath
taken his measures from his straitness or his
enlargedness, and it hath often proved suitable
to his presages.

9. He had a great measure of faith, both as to
spiritual concerns and temporal affairs. As to
the former, grace had helped him in soul-troubles
to trust God in the way of a promise, and at last
buoyed up his faith into a full assurance. As to
the latter, he was trained up in the life of faith
many years ; a wife and nine small children,


ht i\g turned out of all, having nothing before-
hand, and knowing not in an ordinary rational
way where his subsistence must arise : this put
his faith hard to it ; yet committing his all into
God's hands, he was strangely supplied, as if
he had been fed by ravens, or as Israel in the
wilderness. ** man, great was thy faith !"
O Lord, great was thy bounty I It is true, he
was often afraid of discontent and murmuring,
but plucked up his spirit, saying to his wife,
" Let us pray, and wait on God ; he never
failed us yet ; come, let us trust him." This
he spoke with great alacrity; and he often took
notice, that, at a pinch, God sent a seasonable
supply by unexpected means. Help came in
so strangely that he resolved to set down punc-
tually what he had received, and of whom. He
said once to a friend, " I cannot but wonder
how God sends in money just as I need it. He
drops it into my hand by sixpences and shillings
most seasonably: and the review of these ex-
periments much strengthens my faith, and en-
gages me to thankfulness." This course he
had taken for above twelve years, and advised
his friend to the same course. From his mul-
liplied experiments, he gathered great encou-
ragements. He often wondered at the unac-
countable provision which Gt^d made for liim
and his,


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Online LibraryThomas JacksonChristian biography .. → online text (page 17 of 18)