Thomas Jackson.

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nisters to them. He resolved also to go and
spend some time among them himself; and by
all the dissuasions of his friends, from his great
weakness and unfitness for travel, he was hardlv
withheld from his purpose.



Mr. Joseph Alleixe came to my assistance
in the year 1655, being then in the one and
twentieth year of his age ; and we continued
together with much mutual satisfaction.

1 soon observed him to be a young man of
singular accomplishments, natural and acquired :
his intellectuals solid, his memory strong, his
affections lively, his learning much beyond the
ordinary size ; and above all, his holiness emi-
ii»*nt. his conversation exemplary: in brief, he
iiad a good head, and a belter heart.

He spent a considerable part of his time in
private converse with God and his own soul :
lie delighted very much to perform his secret
devotions in the view of heaven, and the open


air, when he could find advantages fit for his
purpose. He used to keep many days alone ;
and then a private room would not content him,
but if he could he would withdraw himself to a
solitary house that had no inhabitant in it : and
herein he was gratified often by some private
friends of his, to whom he did not impart his
design. Perhaps it was that he might freely
use his A'oice as his affections led him, without
such prudential considerations and restraints as
would have been necessary in another place ;
and that he might converse with God without
any avocation or distraction.

His conversation with others was always
mingled with heavenly and holy discourses.
He was ready to instruct, to exhort, and to re-
prove, which he never failed to do, when he
thought it necessary, \vhatever the event might
be. But he performed this usually with such
respect, humility, tenderness, self-condemna-
tion, and compassion, that a reproof from him
seldom miscarried.

In the houses where he sojourned, their hands
fed one, but his lips fed many. God freely
poured grace into his lips ; and he freely poured
it out. None could live quietly in any visible
and open sin under his inspection. When he
came to any house to take up his abode there,
he brought salvation with him ; when he de-
parted, he left salvation behind him. His
manner was, when he v/as ready to depart,
and to transplant himself into some other
family, (as that the exigence of his condition


and the time did more than once constrain him
to,) to call the people one by one into his cham-
ber ; from whence it was observed that scarcely
any one returned with dry eyes.

In matters of religion and the first table, his
strictness was so exemplary (which was near
to rigour) that I have scarcely known any of his
years keep pace with him. Surely he did more
than others. His righteousness exceeded, not
the publican only, but the Pharisees too. He
was much taken with Monsieur de Renty,
(whose life he read often,) and imitated some
of his severities upon better grounds. How
often have I heard him to admire (among many
other things) especially his self-annihilation,
striving continually to be nothing, that God
might be all !

But here he stayetli not ; he was a second-
table man, a man of morals : I never knew him
spotted in the least degree with any unjust or
uncharitable act. And I am sure the many
failings of professors in this kind touched him
to the very quick, and brought him low, drew
prayers, tears, complaints, and lamentations,
both by word and letter, from him ; though the
Lord would not permit him to behold and reap
the fruit before he died.

He had an eminently free and bountiful heart
according to his power ; and I may truly say,
beyond his power : yea, much beyond it, he
was willing of himself. It is but seldom that
the best need restraint in these matters ; and
yet we read of some who brought more than


enough, yea, much more than enough, (Exod.
xxxvi, 5,) so that there was a proclamation is-
sued, to put a stop upon their bounty ; and it is
added presently, " So the people were restrain-
ed." Men universally almost need a spur ; but
he did rather need a bridle. When other men
gave little out of much, he gave much out of
little ; and while they heaped and gathered up,
he dispersed and scattered abroad. He did not
hide himself from his own flesh, but was help-
ful to his relations, as some of them have great
reason to acknov/ledge. His charity began at
home, but it did not end there ; for he did good
to all, (according to his opportunities,) though
especially to the household of faith. He con-
sidered the poor ; he studied their condition ;
he devised liberal things ; he was full of holy
projects for the advancement of the good of
others, both spiritual and temporal ; which he
pursued with such irresistible vigour, and zeal,
and activity, that they seldom proved abortive.
He was a man of extraordinary condescen-
sion to the infirmities of weaker brethren; as
they that are most holy, and best acquainted
with themselves, are wont to be: "instructing
those that were contrary-minded in meekness ;
if God peradventure would give them repent-
ance to the acknowledging of the truth : restor-
ing those who were overtaken with a fault, in
the spirit of meekness :" so dealing with them
in such a loving, sweet, and humble way, as
considering himself, lest he also might be
tempted. In their confessed failings, he was


no way supercilious, captious, and censorious ;
he would maintain a j^ood opinion of another,
upon a narrower footing than many others, who
(to say no more) were nothing stricter, holier,
humbler, than himself would be. His charity
believed all things that were to be believed,
and hoped all things that were to be hoped.
And when he deeply condemned the action, he
would not judge of the estate. Indeed he had
more charity for others than himself ; and
though he was sufficiently mild in his judgment
of others, he was severe enough in his judgment
of himself.

He was not peremptory in matters that be-
long to doubtful disputations. He laid no more
weight and stress on notions and opinions in
religion, that wholly depend upon topical argu-
ments, than belongs to them. He was not like
many, who are so over-confident in their deter-
minations that they will hardly hold communion,
nay, scarcely so much as a pleading conversa-
tion, with any man (how gracious soever) who
cannot think, and say, and act in every thing as
they do. He would allow his fellow-members
the latitude that the apostle doth ; and so would
freely and familiarly converse with those who
are sound in the faith, as to the fundamentals
of religion, and who were strict and holy in
their lives, of all persuasions.

His ministerial studies were more than usu-
ally easy to him, being of a quick conceit, a
ready, strong, and faithful memory, a free ex-
pression, (which was rather nervous and sub-


stantial than soft and delicate,) and, which was
best of all, a holy heart that boiled up with
good matter. This furnished him on all occa-
sions, not with warm affections only, but with
holy notions too. For his heart v/as an epistle,
written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the
living God : and out of this epistle, he drew
many excellent things. In the course of his
ministry he was a good man, and in his heart
a good treasure ; whence he was wont continu-
ally to bring forth good things, both in public
and private.

He was apt to preach and pray ; most read)'- on
all occasions to lay out himself upon such work;
yea, spending himself in it. When my sudden
distemper seizing upon me, put him at any time
(as many times it did) upon very short and sudden
preparations, he never refused ; no, nor so much
as fluctuated in the undertaking. But, being
called, he confidently cast himself upon the
Lord, and trusted perfectly to his assistance,
who had never failed him ; and so he readily
and freely went about his work without distrac-

He began upon a very considerable stock of
learning, and gifts ministerial and personal, much
beyond the proportion of his years ; and grew ex-
ceedingly in his abilities and graces, in a little
time : so that his profiting appeared to all men.
He waxed very rich in heavenly treasure, by the
blessing of God on a diligent hand ; so that he
was behind in no good gift. He found that pre-
cious promise sensibly made good : " To liira


that hath" (for use and good employment) " shall
be given, and he shall have abundance." He
had no talent for the napkin, but all for traffic ;
which he laid out so freely for his master's use,
(hat in a little time they multiplied so fast, that
the napkin could not hold them. I heard a
worthy minister say of him once, (not without
nmcli admiration,) " Whence hath this man
these things ?" He understood whence he
had them well enough, and so did I ; even from
above, whence every good and perfect gift pro-
ceedeth. God blessed him in all spiritual
blessings in heavenly things ; and he returned
all to heaven again. He served God with all
his might, and all his strength ; he was abun-
dant in the work of the Lord ; he did not go, but
run, the ways of his commandments. He made
haste and lingered not ; he did run, and was
not weary ; he did walk, and was not faint.
He pressed hard toward the mark, till he attain-
ed it. His race was short and swift, and his
end glorious.

He was infinitely and insatiably greedy of the
conversion of souls, wherein he had no small
success in the time of his ministry. To this
end, he poured out his very heart in prayer
and in preaching. He imparted not the gospel
only, but his own soul. His supplications and
his exhortations many times were so affection-
ate, so full of holy zeal, life, and vigour, that
they quite overcame his hearers. He melted
over them, so that he thawed and mollified, and
sometimes dissolved, the hardest hearts. But


while he melted thus he wasted, and at last
consumed himself.

He was not satisfied to spend himself in pub-
lic, but used constantly to go from house to
house, and there to deal, particularly where he
had a free reception, both with the governors,
the children, and the servants of the household ;
instructing them especially in the great funda-
mental necessary truths of the law and of the
gospel, where he observed them to be ignorant;
gently reproA^ng them where he found any
thing amiss among them ; exhorting them to
diligence, both in their general and particular
callings ; entreating them who were defective,
by any means to set up the worship of God in
their houses, and to make them little churches,
by constant reading of the Scripture, that so the
word of Christ might dwell among and in them
richly ; by careful catechising of the children
and the servants, if the governors were able ;
by frequent meditations, conferences, repetitions
of that which they had heard in public ; espe-
cially by daily prayer, morning and evening;
that so they might avoid that dreadful indigna-
tion which hangs over, and is ready to be pour-
ed out upon, the families that call not upon God.
He made the best inspection that he could into
the state of every particular person, and so ac-
cordingly applied himself to check, to comfort,
to encourage, as he found occasion. All which
he did with so much tenderness, humility, and
self-denial, that they gained very much on the
affections and respects of all that received him,


and wrought them at least to outward con-
formity ; so that they who were not visited in
the beginning, at length came forth, and called
upon him to come to their families and help

Thus did he wear himself away, and gave
light and heat to others. He usually allowed
himself too little sleep to recruit and to repair
the spirits which he wasted with waking. His
manner was to rise at four o'clock at the utmost,
many times before, and that on cold winter
mornings, that he might be with God betimes,
and so get room for other studies and employ-
ments. His extraordinary watchings, constant
cares, excessive labours in the work of the
ministry, public and private, were generally ap-
prehended to be the cause of those distempers
and decays, and at last that ill habit of body,
whereof he died.

He was the gravest, strictest, most serious,
and composed young man that I had ever yet
the happiness to be acquainted with : and yet
he was not rigid in his principles ; his modera-
tion was known to all men that knew him.


Wmf.n he catechised the greater sort in pub-
lic, before he was silenced, his manner was to
begin with prayer for a blessing upon that
exercise : and having proposed some questions


out of the Assembly's Catechism to them, he was
careful not only to make them perfect in rehears-
ing the answers there set down, but also to
bring them to a clear understanding of the
meaning of the said answers, and of all the terms
and phrases in which they are expressed ; and
to draw some practical, useful inferences from
those heads of divinity contained in them.
Moreover, when any distinction was necessary
for the clearing up of the matter in hand, he
would be also instructing his catechumens
therein. Now this he would do by proposing
several other collateral questions, besides those
in the catechism ; which questions, together
with the answers to them, himself had before
drawn up and sent to them in writing.

In the evening of the Lord's day, his course
was to repeat his sermon again, in the public
place of worship, w^here abundance of people
constantly resorted to hear him ; which when
he had done, several youths were called forth,
who gave him an account of the heads of all his
sermon by memory.

As for his method in going from house to
house, for the instructing of private families, it
was this : —

He would give them notice of his coming
the day before, desiring that he might have
admittance to their houses, to converse with
them about their soul-concerns, and that they
would have their whole family together against
he came. When he came, and the family were
called together, he would instruct the younger


sort in the principles of religion, by asking
several qnestions in the catechism ; the an-
swers to which he would open and explain to
them. Also he would inquire of them about
their spiritual estate and condition, labouring to
make them sensible of the evil and danger of
sin, the corruption and wickedness of our na-
tures, the misery of an unconverted state ;
stirring them up to look after the true remedy
proposed in the gospel, to turn from all their
sins unto God, to close with Christ upon his
own terms, to follow after holiness, to watch
over their hearts and lives, to mortify their
lusts, to redeem their time, to prepare for eter-
nity. These things, as he would explain to
their understandings, that they might have clear
apprehensions about them, so he would press
tlie practice of them upon their consciences,
with the most cogent arguments and considera-
tions, minding them of the great privileges they
enjoyed, the many gospel sermons that they did
or might hear, the many talents they were in-
trusted withal, and the great account they had
to give to the God of heaven : telling them how
sad it would be with them another day, if after
all this they should come short of salvation.
Besides, he would leave with them several
counsels and directions to be carefully remem-
bered and practised for the good of their souls.
Those that were serious and religious, he would
labour to help forward in holiness, by answer-
ing their doubts, resolving their cases, encou-
raging them under their dilllculties. And before


he went from any family, lie would deal with
the heads of that family, and such others as
were grown to years of discretion, singly and
apart ; that so he might (as much as possibly
he could) come to know the condition of each
particular person in his flock, and address
himself in his discourse as might be suitable to
every one of them. If he perceived that they
lived in the neglect of family duties, he would
exhort and press them to set up the worship of
God in their families, as reading, prayer, and
directing them how to set about it, and to take
time for secret duties too. Such as were mas-
ters of families, he would earnestly persuade
and desire, as they did tender the honour of
Christ and the welfare of their children's and
servants' souls, to let them have some time
every day for such private duties, and to en-
courage them in the performance of them ; nei-
ther would he leave them before he had a pro-
mise of them so to do. Sometimes also he
would himself go to prayer before his departure.
This was his method in the general ; although
with such necessary variation in his particular
visits, as the various state and condition of the
several families required. If the family where
he came were ignorant, he would insist the
longer instructing and catechising ; if loose, in
reproving and convincing ; if godly, in encou-
raging and directing.

He used to spend five afternoons every week
in such exercises, from one or two of the clock,
until seven in the evening : in which space of


time he would visit sometimes three or four
families in an afternoon, and sometimes more,
accordinor as they were greater or less. This
course he would take throughout the town ; and
when he had gone through he would presently
begin again, that he might visit every family as
often as he could. He often blessed God for the
great success that he had in these exercises,
saying that God had made him as instrumental
of good to souls in this way as by his public
preaching, if not more. When the ministers of
this county of Somerset, at one of their associa-
tions which heretofore they held, were debating
whether and how far it was incumbent upon
them to set up private family instruction in their
|)articular charges, Mr. AUeine was the man
iliat they pitched upon to draw up his reasons
for that practice, together with a method for the
more profitable management of it.


It being the unquestionable duty of all the
ministers of the church of Christ " to take heed
to all the flock over whom the Holy Ghost hath
made them overseers;" and to teach and preach,
not only publicly, but from house to house ; not
only taking a general care of the whole, or calling
out the chiefest of the sheep for our particular
care and inspection, as the manner of some is,
and leaving the rest to sink or swim ; but as
good shepherds in inquiring into their estates,
observing the particular marks, diseases, stray-
ings of our sheep, aiid applying ourselves suita-


bly to their cases ; in a word, warning every
man, that we may present every man perfect in
Christ Jesus : therefore it behooveth us to study
to do this great duty in such a manner as may
be acceptable to God, and profitable to our
flocks. The directions for performing this duty
are either more general, or more special ; for
the more general directions, they are either
such as concern the entrance on this duty, or
the performance of it. For those that concern
the entrance : —

I. It will be necessary, that we convince the
people of the necessity of this duty.

II. That we study to manage this great work
to our people's best advantage.

III. That we set apart such set times for this
great work as, upon consideration, we shall find
most convenient for them and us, resolving to
be constant in observing them.

IV. That we pray for wisdom from above,
what and how to speak.

V. That we send word to the people when
we intend to visit them, that they may dispose
of their business to receive us.

For those that concern us in the managing
of the duty : —

I. The family being called together, we may,
if time and conveniency permit, begin with

II. The family consisting of superiors and
inferiors, it would not be amiss to begin with
the inferiors ; for many can hear their children
and servants examined contentedly, that cannot


bear it themselves : for that they will not dis-
dain to give an account of themselves before
their superiors, though their superiors would
disdain to give account before them : and here
it will be necessary to inquire into their know-
ledge, practice, states.

1. Their knowledge. Here, (1.) We may
examine what progress they have made in the
principles of the doctrine of Christ, and try them
in the catechism.

(2.) What they gain by the public ministry,
what they remember of the sermon last heard.

2. Into their practice.

(1.) In their duty toward God ; where it may
be useful to inquire if they make conscience of
secret prayer. The necessity of it may be ex-
pressed, the nature of it opened, and some heads
of prayer explained ; and if they be such as
need it, it would be useful to commend to them
some form, for the present help.

(2.) In the duties of their relation toward men,
and if they be pressed to faithfulness, diligence,
and uprightness, the duties they owe to those
that were over them, it would be very conve-

3. Into their states. And here we may take
an account of them, what they think of the state
of their souls, showing the paucity of them that
are saved, the desperate deceitfulncss of the
heart, the infinite danger of being deceived,
the wiles and devices of Satan to beguile them ;
from whence, and such like arguments, we
may press them to be diligent in inquiring what


the case of their souls is, to be jealous of them-
selves : where we may take occasion to show
them —

(1.) That every man by nature is in a dam-
nable estate.

(2.) The absolute necessity of conversion.

(3.) By what signs they may know whether
they remain in, or are delivered from, this es-
tate : which signs should be few, plain, certain,
and infallible, founded upon the clear evidence
of the w-ord : and because the searching work
is so displeasing to the flesh, that it might dis-
engage them to come too close at first, it may
not be amiss to defer this, till we had got some
interest in their hearts, by a loving, tender con-

III. The inferiors being thus dealt with, may
be dismissed to their several employments ; and
then we may take occasion to discourse with
the heads of the families, proceeding as pru-
dence shall direct upon some of the foremen-
tioned particulars.

1. We may inquire whether they perform
this great duty of prayer in the family ; offering
them helps if they need.

2. We may press them to instruct and cate-
chise their families.

3. We may exhort them to the strict sancti-
fying of the Lord's day.

4. If they are poor, we may draw forth the
hand of our bounty toward them.

5. If we know any evil by them, we may
take them aside privately, showing them the sin-


fulness of their practice, and engaging them to
promise reformation,

6. We should leave with them some few par-
ticulars of greatest weight, often repeating them
till they remember them ; engaging them to mind
them till we shall converse with them again.

7. Our dealing with them must be in that
manner that may most prevail and win upon
their hearts.

(1.) With compassion; being kindly affec-
tioned to them ; charging, exhorting, comfort-
ing every one of them, as a father his children.

(2.) With prudence ; warning and teaching
them in all wisdom, applying ourselves to the
several cases and capacities.

(i.) To the rich in this world, showing more
respect as their places require, charging upon
them those duties that are required of ihem in

(ii.) To the poor you may be more plain and
free, pressing upon them those duties that are
most proper to their condition.

(iii.) To the aged we must be more reverent,
labouring to root out of them the love of the
world, sliowing them the dangerousness of co-
vetousness, and the necessity of making speedy
preparation for eternity.

(iv.) The men are to be exhorted to tempe-
rance and sobriety, diligence in their call-
ings, &c.

(v.) Women to nieekness, humility, subjec-
tion to their husbands, and constant infusing

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Online LibraryThomas JacksonChristian biography .. → online text (page 8 of 18)