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James iii, 18.



292 LIFE OF NATHANAEL HEYWOOD.

11. But though he was of a peaceable spirit
to condescend to any thing lawful for peace'
sake, yet not so flexible as to recede a hair's
breadth from truth, or well-fixed principles. He
was an attractive loadstone, yet an inflexible
adamant in the cause of God. He well under-
stood his own latitude ; and as he would not
groundlessly withdraw by wanton curiosity, so
he would not be led aside into sin to please a
friend, or prostitute his conscience to men's
fancy. Others might perhaps judge it a need-
less preciseness, or obstinacy ; but he could
not turn his sails to their wind, or dance after
their pipes, though he had manifold temptations
on all hands from great and small : but he was
of Paul's mind and practice : " To w^hom we
gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour;
that the truth of the gospel might continue with
you," Gal. ii, 5.

12. He made great proficiency daily, both in
learning, grace, and holiness. Having laid a
low foundation, he built a stately, visible super-
structure. It might be said of him, as of the
apostle of the Thessalonians, " That his faith
did grow exceedingly, and his love to Chris-
tians abounded," 2 Thess. i, 3. The pearl grew
too big for the shell ; his head soared above
the clouds, and his heart mounted heavenward.
And as he grew in faith, love, meekness, zeal
for God, love to souls ; so above all, in humility,
self-denial, and contempt of the world. As he
travelled up and down to do good, so he tra-
vailed in birth over poor sinners. Possibly



LIFE OF NATHAXAEL HEYWOOD. 293

some may think Mr. Heywood took too much
upon him, and was too sedulous in his pains,
both in the face of danger, and to the hazard
of his health ; but, as to the one, Calvin's
apology was his : " Would you have me found
idle when my Lord cometh ?" As to the former,
his answer and actings were justifiable by a
like instance in the life of Olevian, who asked
them whether he must suspend his preaching
at that time for fear of danger; or whether they
desired to hear him as formerly. The people
all with hands lifted up, and loud voices, cried
out, " We beseech thee to preach." Thus the
necessities and importunity of the people ex-
torted work from this poor man. His heart
was upon it ; and, being engaged, he regarded
not any carnal arguments from flesh and blood,
or self-preservation. The last sermon he
preached at a friend's house in the parish was
as a swan-like song, pithy and sententious,
ardent and affectionate. As before he exceeded
others, so then he exceeded himself ; as if he
knew beforehand that it was the last. Thus
his last was more than his first; and the nearer
the centre, the quicker was his motion. He
was full of matter ; as if he were at a loss for
time to do the remainder of his work in, that he
might despatch it all, and be at rest.

13. He was very charitable to the poor, and
such as were in necessity. And though his
small revenue and constant charge somewhat
bound his hands, yet they could not restrain his
spirit. He drew out his soul to the hungry.



294 LIFE OF NATHANAEL HEYWOOD.

And, indeed, true charity is seated rather in a
large heart than liberal hand. The imprimis
of a willing mind finds acceptance Avhen the
items of alms run but shallow. To his power,
many will bear him record, yea, beyond his
power, he was willing ; freely welcoming
objects of pity, stirring up his hearers to free
contributions, especially in behalf of the godly
poor, whereby the bowels of many were refresh-
ed by this brother. Hence it was that he that
sowed bountifully did then (and much more
now) reap bountifully. For " the liberal soul
shall be made fat ; and he that watereth shall
be watered also himself," Proverbs xi, 25.

14. He was a gTeat admirer, and a profound
preacher, of the glorious gospel, especially in
the giving of Christ ; and, indeed, this he made
the main scope of all his preaching. It is true,
he oft preached law and terror, to awaken men's
consciences, and drive them out of themselves
to Christ. He often pressed duty in a circum-
spect, exact, and holy walking ; and urged a
spiritual and diligent worshipping of God : but
still demonstrating, that " Christ is the end of
the law for righteousness to every one that be-
lieveth." It v/as his proper genius, and most
suitable to his evangelical spirit, to know and
preach nothing but a crucified and glorified
Redeemer. He much enlarged upon the gos-
pel way of the justification of a sinner. His
thoughts ran upon this theme, sleeping and
waking ; so that once he was heard in his
dream to say, " There are vast heaps of free



LIFE OF NATHANAEL HEYWOOD. 295

grace." His heart was greatly enamoured with
the love of God in sending Christ. This was
the proper element in which he moved : and
few dived into that unfathomable ocean of love
so deep as he did.

15. He was a zealous defender of truth, and
impugner of error. He did strenuously contend
for the faith once delivered to the saints. He
much delighted in the form of wholesome
words, and loved not new-coined phrases,
which are apt to amuse men's minds, and instill
into them poisonous principles. He loved and
used sound speech that cannot be condemned,
as well as sound and orthodox truth ; standing
at an equal distance from legalists on one
hand, and Antinomians on the other. He had
a strange sagacity in discerning persons, things,
and doctrines that swerved from, or suited not,
the Scripture dialect. He kept close to the
analogy of faith ; yet was not against profi-
ciency, or a modest improvement of know-
ledge. He had the advantage of many years'
intimate converse with that ancient and learned
divine, Mr. Thomas Johnson, of Halsall, a man
of vast parts and unwearied studies. He told
Mr. Heywood, (his intimate friend,) that it
much repented him that he had spent so much
time in reading books, and studying controver-
sies, that might have been more profitably im-
proved in conversing with and instructing his
ignorant and carnal neighbours. Let ministers
think of this ; for one .soul won to God by per-
sonal conference will tend more to God's glory.



296 LIFE OF NATHANAEL HEYWOOD.

and a minister's comfort, than a thousand
notions got by reading. Howbeit, a due mix-
ture of a contemplative and active life must
needs be the best.

16. He was good in his relative condition.
He was an obedient child, an exceedingly kind
husband, a tender-hearted father, an affection-
ate master, a faithful friend. He maintained a
paternal law, authority, gravity, mixed with
fatherly gentleness and lenity, and both with
incredible prudence, that his children had not
occasion either to slight him, or be discouraged
by him. He instructed them with faithfulness;
admonished them with tenderness ; prayed for
them with faith and fervency ; and walked be-
fore them with a holy exemplariness and sin-
cerity. As God had made him a Nathanael
toward God, so a Joshua, resolving that he and
his house should serve the Lord. It is a true
maxim, that he who is not relatively good, is
not really good. But he stood square for every
duty in every relation. He kept his children
much at home, being very jealous lest they
should meet with temptations abroad ; which
occasioned many cares and prayers about their
disposal.

17. He had attained to a considerable mea-
sure of assurance. Though he had walked in
darkness, and seen no light in his first convic-
tions; yet staying himself on the Lord, his God
shone upon his soul with the light of his coun-
tenance, and he walked many days with the
candle of God shininsf upon his head. How



LIFE OF NATHAXAEL IIEYWOOD. 297

frequently in prayer did he express his joy and
gratitude for the everlasting consolation and
good hope through grace of his own salvation !
About two months before he died, one Lord's
day, as he and his family sat together, he told
his wife with tears in his eyes, that he had
great troubles concerning his spiritual state, and
some doubts about his condition, desiring her
to pray for him. Yet the Lord dispelled those
dark clouds, and in due time sweetly shone
into his soul with the sense of his love.

18, He had a strong persuasion of God's
care of his numerous family, both in point of
education and provision. As God had gra-
ciously looked after them in his lifetime, so he
had conceived great hopes of their supply after
his decease. It is true, he had some tempta-
tions and sad thoughts concerning them ; but
at last faith got the victory over unbelief, and
having left his sad widow with her better Hus-
band, and his fatherless children with their
heavenly Father, he was quiet ; and these
thoughts did not hinder his hearty welcome of
his Lord when he summoned him by death.
And therefore after he had by faith and prayer
devolved the care of them upon the Lord, he
freely acquiesced in his good providence about
himself and them. On Tuesday before he
died, getting into his bed, his breath being very
short, his wife broke out into sore weeping ; to
whom he said, " Be not troubled ; God will pro-
vide necessaries for thee and thy posterity for
ever:" which brings to mind the passage of



298 LIFE OF NATHANAEL HEYWOOD.

Bucer, who, dying, stretched out three fingers,
with his eyes lift up to heaven, saying, " He,
he alone rules and governs all things." The
event hath abundantly answered this good man's
prediction and expectation.

19. It is very considerable that he had his
desire in a leisurely lingering death. He had
often expressed his willingness (if that were
God's will) that death might come on gradually,
and not surprise him ; yea, he prayed that he
might be long in his sickness, and also that he
might be sensible to the last : the Lord did
condescend to him in both these requests. He
had been long habitually prepared, but he de-
sired to be actually ready ; for it is an import-
ant concern to die, and go into a world of spi-
rits. This good man had frequent warnings,
and continued strong in his intellect all the lime
of his illness. Upon Friday night his brother-
in-law coming to him, asked him if he had
made his will: he answered, No; he desired
to have his son Nathanael at home when he did
that. But perceiving that he was weakening
apace, and that his time would not be long, be-
ing urged again, he consented, and sent for a
clerk, and despatched that worldly concern that
night ; then he was in perfect composedness
of mind, being but one night besides that till
his death.

20. As he was highly qualified with personal
disposition. Christian graces, and ministerial
abilities, so God gave him favour in the sight
of all with whom he conversed. It is true, ho



LIFE OF NATHAXAEL HEYWOOD. 299

had adversaries ; but it was for the matters of
his God, wherein his principles carried him
to practices different from them : yet even
those commended him for his parts and preach-
ing. Yea, at death, some that had been bitter
enemies were well reconciled to him. One
instance was very remarkable : there was one
Mr. Brownlow, an old gentleman that lived in
the town, who had conceived a bitter grudge
against Mr. Heywood, after King Charles's re-
turn, because he would not read the Common
Prayer ; but upon his death-bed he sent for Mr.
Heywood, and entreated him to go to prayer
with him.

Thus I have given a brief narrative of what
was memorable in this holy man of God, and
imitable by us. I may say to every one, " Go
thou and do likewise.^* Let Christians pray
that God would send forth many such labour-
ers into his harvest, succeed their labours, and
learn to improve such spiritual helps, that
they may give a good account of these rich
talents at last.



300 LIFE OF NATHANAEL HEYWOOD.



Extract of a letter sent by Mr. Nathanael Hey wood to a
Christian friend, May 1st, 1675.

Dear Friend, — I give you hearty thanks
for your loving and godly letter ; whereby I
was much refreshed in those my late troubles,
which indeed were many and heavy ; yet in
such a cause, and for such a Master, did I
suffer, that I must needs say they were light
and easy. O that God may have the glory, and
others be encouraged! As sufferings for Christ
did abound, so consolations abounded by Christ.
Let the world know that suffering for Christ is
the very element wherein Christ's love liveth
and exerciseth itself, and his choicest cordials
are reserved for such a time. I was, in a great
measure, a stranger to the comforts and sweet-
ness of Christianity, till 1 was singled out to
bear the cross. He was pleased to seal my
sufferings with the sweet sense and experience
of unspeakable joy and peace. Had not some
great persons interposed by their interest and
authority, I had certainly gone to prison at that
time, when I was taken by soldiers ; and at
the session shortly after, had not God raised up
other friends (some of them justices) to frustrate
the purpose and design of my enemies, who
would have sent me six months to prison before
the sessions, for living within five miles of this
town ; yea, would have convicted me among
recusants for not coming to this church ; but
it pleased God, by a .special providence, to



LIFE OF XATHA.NAEL HEYWOOD. 301

prevent that also. But, alas ! all these troubles
are nothing to that I am now mourning under,
the loss of public liberty ; a closed mouth, dumb
and silent Sabbaths : to be cast out of the vine-
yard as a dry and withered branch, and to be
laid aside as a broken vessel, in whom there is
no pleasure, is a sore burden which I know not
how to bear ; my heart bleeds under it, as a
sting and edge added to my other troubles and
afflictions. This exercise of my ministry, next
to Christ, is dearer to me than any thing in the
world. It was my heaven, till I come home,
even to spend this life in gathering souls to
Christ. But I must lay even that down at
Christ's feet, and be dumb and silent before the
Lord, because he has done it, who can do no
wrong, and whose judgments are past finding
out. I am sure I have reason to conclude with
the prophet, " I will bear the indignation of the
Lord, because I have sinned against him."



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