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CH A P I ER I I.

FRUCTUOSU 8;* OR, TIE LIFE OF MR. SAMUEL MATHER,

Hâc casti maneant in religione nepotes
Et nati nalorum, et qui nascentur ab illis.t

§ 1. It is a thing truly and justly thought among the churches of God, Fælix illa anima, quae aliis est forma sanctitatis:f thrice and four times happy that man, from whose example other men may learn to be holy and happy. Now, for this happiness, not only were many among the first fathers of New-England, with the history of whose exemplary lives the faithful have been entertained, considerable, but some among the sons of those fathers also have bin so exemplary for their holiness, that their lives also deserve to fill the pages of an ecclesiastical history. One of those is now going to be set before my reader; and one who, whether we consider his early sanctity or his fervent ministry, will appear so much of a John Baptist unto us, that I choose the confession of Josephus the Jewish historian (who, if he were admitted into the discipline of Banus, a disciple of John, as he says he was, he might well make such a confession) concerning that John, to express the character of this worthy man: "he was an excellent man, and one that stirred up the people to piety and virtue, holiness and purity." This was Mr. Samuel Mather.

$ 2. Mr. Samuel Mather was born May 13, A. D. 1626, at Much-Wootton Lancashire. But was the question of Saul concerning David, "Whose son is this youth?"--about the meaning of which question, there may be some wonder, because David had already been serviceable at the court of Saul some while before; and therefore some take the meaning of the question to be, “What manner of man's son is this?" It was observed that some of the notablest men in the land were of this family, and, among the rest, Joab was of it-Joab, who for his valour was made general of the field; Joab, who never once in his life miss'd of the victory; he was the son of Jesse's daughter. Now, Saul was inquisitive, “What manner of man this Jesse was," that all his children prov'd so eminent. If my reader, thereto excited by the figure, which this person, as well as divers of his brothers have made in the church of God, shall accordingly inquire, “Whose son was this youth?” it must be answered, that his father was the famous Mr. Richard Mather, whose life has been already a considerable part not only in our own church-history, but also in the last volume of Mr. Clark's colleotions. Brought up and brought over by this his father, our Samuel came to New-England in the year 1635, delivered with the rest of his family Fruitful.

+ In this religion firm, unswerving, pure, Happy the soul, which is a pattern of holiness to others. Be our descendants, while tho worlds endure.

from as eminent danger of death as ever was escaped by mortal men, in z fierce and sore hurricane on the New-English coast.

§ 3. Let the silly Romanist please himself with his Romance of St. Rumald, who, as soon as he drew his first breath, cryed, three times, "I'am a Christian!" and then, making a plain “confession of his faith,” desired that he might be baptized: it is most certainly true, that Samuel Mather did not suffer two times three years to pass him after his first breath, before he had, many times, manifested himself to be a Christian, under the regenerating impression of that Spirit into whose name and faith he had been baptized. The holy Spirit of God made early visits unto our Samuel, who from his childhood was devoted unto the tabernacle. He was in his early childhood an extraordinary instance of discretion, gravity, seriousness, prayerfulness, and watchfulness, which, accompanied with a certain generosity of temper, and an usual progress in learning, wherein

-Rerum prudentia veloz,
Ante pilos venit ;*.

render'd him the delight of all that part of mankind that know him; and as the name of Ilaiddproyɛpwrt was of old given to Macarius, thus this blessed young man was commonly called "the young old man,” by those that mentioned him. R. Eliezer, the son of R. Azariah, when made president of the Jewish Sanhedrin, at sixteen years of age, was not one of a more composed behaviour. A certain Arabian commentary upon the Alchoran reports, that when John Baptist was a child, other boys asked him to play with them; which he refused, saying, "I was not sent into the world for sport.” Such great thoughts inspired our Samuel Mather, while he was yet a child! To demonstrate and illustrate this part of his character, I shall only recite an extract of a letter, which he wrote from his lodging in Cambridge, to his father in Dorchester, when he was no more than twelve years of age:

-Though (said he) I am thus well in my body, yet I question whether my soul doth prosper as my body doth; for I perceive, yet to this very day, little growth in grace; and this makes me question, whether grace be in my heart or no. I feel also daily great unwillingness to good duties, and the great ruling of sin in my heart; and that God is angry with me, and gives me no answers to my prayers, but, many times, he even throws them down as dust in my face; and he does not grant my continual requests for the spirilual blessing of the softning of my hard heart. And in all this I could yet take some comfort, but that it makes me to wonder, what God's secret decree concerning me may be; for I doubt whether even God is wont to deny grace and mercy to his chosen (though uncalled) when they seek unto him, by prayer, for it; and therefore, seeing he doth thus deny it to me, I think that the reason of it is most like to be, because I belong not unto the election of grace. I desire

would let me have your prayers, as I doubt not but I have them; and rest
“Your Son,

SAMUEL MATHER."

that you

-Discernment, swis and keen,
Outfies the dart.

+ Young old man.

Behold the language of one, more able than the famous Cornelius Mus to have been a preacher (as they say he was) when twelve years of age! Now, albeit, such "early accomplishments” use to be threatned with Cicero's Non potest in eo succus esse diuturnus, quod nimis celeriter maturitatem est assecutus:* and with Quintilian's Ingeniorum praecox genius, non temerè unquam pervenit ad frugem;t and with Curtius's Nullus est et diuturnus et precox fructus ;£ which our proverb has Englished, “soon ripe, soon rotten;" there was no such observation to be made of our Samuel, who still continually grew in his accomplishment; and, instead of losing them, like the Hermogenes mentioned by C. Rodiginus, he kept advancing in all wisdom and goodness 'till he was found “ripe for eternal glory.”

$ 4. In the catalogue of the graduates proceeding from Harvard-Colledge, our Samuel Mather was the first who appears as a Fellow of that happy society; wherein his careful instruction, and exact government of the scholars under his tuition, caused as many of them as were so, to mention him afterwards with honour as long as they lived; and such was the love of all the scholars to him, that not only when he read his last philosophy-lectures, in the colledge-ball, they heard him with tears, because of it's being his last, but also, when he went away from the colledge, they put on the tokens of mourning in their very garments for it. But by this his living at Cam. bridge, under the ministry of Mr. Shepard, he had the advantage to conform himself, in his younger years, more than a little, unto the spirit and preaching of that renowned man; (of whose life he afterwards published certain memoirs unto the world, of which thing the famous Mr. Cotton, speaking to this our young Mather, did congratulate his happiness therein; adding, that in like manner one great reason why there came so many excellent preachers out of Cambridge, in England, more than out of Oxford, in some former days, was the ministry of Mr. Perkins in that university. Our Mather being not only by notable parts, both natural and acquired, and by an eminently gracious disposition of soul, but also by a certain florid and sparkling liveliness of expression, admirably fitted for the service of the gospel, several congregations in this wilderness applied themselves unto him for the enjoyment of his labours among them. In answer to their applications, he spent some time with the church of Rowly, as an assistant unto old Mr. Ezekiel Rogers; where the zeal of the people to have him settled, was the cause of his not settling there at all; but when the temptations arising from the zeal of the people caused him to choose a Temoval from thence, it went so near unto the hearts of some good men there, that it contributed, as 'twas thought, even unto shortning of their days in the world. Here, although in his rich furniture of learning from the schools, the lamps were lighted, before he did venture to bring his

That vital power of his cannot be lasting, because it reached maturity too soon,
+ A precocious genius hardly ever arrives at a fruitful maturity of talent.
* No fruit is at the same time premature and lasting.

ness.

incense unto the altar, yet his great learning did not make his preaching so obscure as to give the plain country-people occasion for the complaint which they sometimes made of another: "This man may be a great scholar, but he wants beetle and wedges to hew our knotty timber withal." Afterwards, a church being to be gathered in the north part of Boston, they had their eyes upon him to be their pastor, and accordingly he entertained a vast auditory of Christians with so incomparable a sermon upon the day when that people publickly embodied themselves into their ecclesiastical state, that old Mr. Cotton, with whom he then sojourned, said upon it, "Such a sermon from so young a man as this, is a matter of much more satisfaction than such an one from one of us elder men; for this young man is, SPES GREGIS."* And with this people he continued the winter following; among whom he was long after succeeded by one of his worthy brethren.

85. Having in him the true spirit of a witness for our Lord Jesus Christ, he did, even while he was a young man, in this country set himself, with a prudent, but yet fervent zeal, upon all occasions to bear a just witness against every thing which he judged contrary unto the interests of holi

But there was hardly any one thing against which he used more of thunderbolt, than that “unholy spirit of Antinomianism;" wherewith many people in those days were led aside. It was with a particular agony of dissatisfaction, that he would still speak of those “ungodly men, who turned the grace of God into wantonness." He would speak of them in such words as these [reader, they are of his own words, in a sermon upon " "hardness of heart:"] "The same word is used for blindness and hardness (Eph. iv. 18, and Rom. xi. 7, 8), when Abashuerus was offended with Haman, his face was covered; and amongst us when the cloath is pulled over the face, at an execution, the wretch is presently to be turn'd off. Thus, when the eyes of the soul are covered, and the 'God of this world blinds them, and they are 'given over to believe a lye,' this is the begin. ning of their utter hardness, and eternal perdition. There are now many principles of darkness, whereby men's hearts are hardened in sin; whereof one is, 'the obligation of the moral law, as a rule of life unto a Christian :' a conceit that came out of hell, and is directly against the clearest light of Scripture—Mat. v. 17, 18, 19; and blasphemously injurious to the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; who dyed for this end, to make his people zealous of good works,' and therefore it makes him to dye in vain. This principle works extream hardness of heart; for when a man hath drunk in this poison, he inay sin without sorrow-yea, and without any check of conscience for it. If he be not bound to keep to the rule, why should he be troubled for breaking of it? What are such errors but as Calvin speaks, exundantis in mundum furoris Dei flagella'the scourges of the overflowing fury of an angry God against this wicked world?' Hence, also, there comes to be such extreme blindness and blockishness, and blackness of hell, upon

• The hope of the fuck.

the spirits of some, as to deny the necessity of a broken heart, and sorrow Serenin these times. Ministers must preach old errors, and call them by the name of new lights. Why, because they are gospel times, as if it were the work of the gospel to harden mens hearts, and make them stocks it tones, or like the sturdy oaks of Bashan, before the words of the Gd of Israel."

Nor could he with easier terms, at any time, speak of the licentious disposition, engendered by the Antinomianism broached and rampant, at that time, among many professors of Christianity.

36. But he that “holds the stars in his right hand," intending that a #r of this magnitude, should move in an orb, where his influences might be more extended than they could have been by any opportunities to be eajored and improved in an American wilderness, he inspired our Mather with a strong desire to pass over into England, and by the wisdom of Heaten there fell out several temptations in this wilderness, which occasioned him to be yet more desirous of such a removal. To England then te went, in the year 1650, where the right honourable Thomas Andrews, Em, then lord mayor of the city of London, quickly took such notice of is abilities, as to make choice of him for his chaplain; and by the advansage of the post, where he was now placed in that chaplainship, he came Ito an acquaintance with the most eminent ministers in the kingdom; obo much honoured and valued him, and, though of different perswasions, bed, Christum habitantem in Mathero.* Here his inclination to do good, produced good and great effects; but yet one that had like to have proved tal unto himself: for being a man of excellent accomplishments, he was ourted so often to preach in the biggest assemblies, that, by overdoing toerein, he had like to have undone his friends, and lost his life. The famous Mr. Sydrach Sympson, observing this inconvenience, did with a brotherly-year with a fatherly care, obtain of him a promise, that he would not preach abroad at all

, except when he should give his consent; and accordingly, when any public sermons were asked of him, he would refer those that asked unto Mr. Sympson, who, with a wise and kind consideration of this his friend's health, would give his consent but when it should be convenient.

17. Mr. Mather was after this invited unto a settlement in several places; and in answer to those invitations, he did preach for a while at GravesEed, and after that at the cathedral in the city of Exeter. But having from his childhood a natural and vehement affection to a college-life, he retired unto Oxford, where he became a chaplain in Magdalen-College; ad he had therewithal an opportunity, sometimes at St. Maries, to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, which, for the sake of the Lord Peleemner

, whom he loved always to preach, he gladly took. And having before this , proceeded master of arts in the only Protestant college of

• Christ dwelling in Mather,

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