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THE LIFE

OF

DR. HAMMOND,

1605–1660.

CHAPTER I.

HIS FARLY LIFE-MINISTRY AND TROUBLES.

Brighter than rainbow in the north,

More cheery than the matin lark,
Is the soft gleam of Christian worth,
Which on some holy house we mark.

Christian Year. Seasons of severe affliction have usually been the most productive of holiness in the church of Christ; and, if we estimate the goodness of God by the abundance of the harvest which he supplies, we cannot hesitate to pronounce that times of trial are times of especial mercy. The tender plant of true religion then grows healthy under the fertilizing dews of God's grace; the stem that bent beneath every wind becomes strong in the Lord and in the power of his might; the weeds, which in quiet times would have grown to maturity, are, under the same influence, blasted by the breath of sorrow; and the infirmities which so easily beset the best of fallible beings are thus restrained from swelling into crimes.

And such, during many years of the lives of Archbishop Usher and Dr. Hammond, was the condition of that branch of the church of Christ to which they were affectionately attached ; and as the body suffered, so all the members, and they amongst the rest, suffered with it. But the gold was purified by the fiery trial; and to the grace and providence of an all-wise God, who makes the most evil things work together for the good of those that love him, we may attribute the excellence of the christian man and minister, whom we are now about to propose as an example worthy of imitation ; and who was particularly estimable for his anxiety to prove all things by the test of truth according to the abilities which God had given him; his moderation in maintaining his opinions at a period of great provocation, his ardent piety, and his blameless life.

Henry Hammond was born in the village of Chertsey, in Surrey, on the 18th of August 1605. His father, Dr. John Hammond, had been professor of Greek at Cambridge, and was a physician of high repute.

At an early age Henry was sent to Eton, where he soon distinguished himself by his proficiency in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, the latter of which languages was very much neglected in those times. He was a peaceable and sweet-tempered boy, and so impressed with religion that he would often withdraw himself from the circle of his schoolfellows, and retire to places of privacy for the purpose of prayer

and reflection. In 1618, being thirteen years old, he was sufficiently advanced in learning for the university, and was accordingly sent to Magdalen college, Oxford, of which he was afterwards chosen a demy, in July 1622.

Here he enjoyed the society of many friends who were eminent for learning and piety; and amongst others, he was on terms of intimacy with a youth of great promise, refined taste, lively imagination, and extensive reading, in the person of Jeremy Taylor, whose recorded sentiments on the subject of friendship reflect a pleasing light upon the character of those to whom he extended his regard. He considered that such are to be chosen for our friends who are able to give us counsel, to restrain our wanderings, to comfort us in our sorrows; who are pleasant to us in private and useful in public, who will make our joys double, and alleviate by sharing our griefs.

In December 1622, Henry Hammond was made bachelor of arts. Not long afterwards, he was appointed reader of the natural philosophy lecture in his own college ; and was selected to deliver a funeral oration on the death of Dr. Langton, the president. In June 1625 he took the degree of master of arts ; and in the following month was advanced to a vacant fellowship.

About the same time he began to study the writings of the Fathers, thinking it best to resort to primitive sources of information, before he suffered himself to be prepossessed by the views of modern authors. The opinions which he thus formed may reasonably claim our respectful attention, when we consider that during the whole period of his residence in the university he usually devoted thirteen hours a-day to reflection and study.

In the year 1629, being then twenty-four years of age, he entered into holy orders; but probably still remained in Oxford till 1633, when an occurrence took place which led unexpectedly to his preferment. Dr. Frewen, the president of Magdalen college, being also chaplain to the king, appointed Mr. Hammond to supply one of his preaching turns at court; and the earl of Leicester, happening to be present, was so well pleased with his sermon, that he immediately offered to him the vacant rectory of Penshurst in Kent, which was in the earl's gift. This was a hasty mode of filling up so responsible an office, but the event proved that the preferment was well bestowed.

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Mr. Hammond was inducted into the living on the 22nd of August in the same year, and at once took up his abode in the midst of his fock, where he devoted himself to the discharge of those duties of the pastoral care which the providence of God had assigned to him, and for which he felt that he must give account. In public and private he was diligent and earnest in his vocation, at the same time endeavouring so to order his own steps that the sheep might follow him safely.

Here he thought that the interests of religion would be promoted by assembling the congregation for prayer more frequently than was commonly done, and therefore either he or his curate performed public worship once every day at Penshurst church, besides twice on Saturday and Sunday, and on every holiday. In those days few of the poorer people could read, and therefore it was important for them not only to have such assistance in their devotions, but to enjoy frequent opportunities of hearing the Holy Scriptures, that they might become wise unto salvation.

As he preached constantly on Sunday morning, so in the afternoon he catechised the younger part of the congregation, employing about an hour before the time of prayer in that exercise. On these occasions he explained in an easy and familiar way the doctrines and duties of the christian religion, taking as his guide the catechism of the Church of England; and he thought that the parents and aged people, who generally attended to hear him, reaped even more benefit from the instructions then delivered than from his sermons. He was always much interested about the spiritual welfare of the young, and, being convinced of the importance of early training in the right way, he availed himself of these opportunities of setting before them the happiness of a religious life,

and the good effects of remembering their Creator in the days of their youth. And, with a view to render his endeavours more effectual, he provided at his own cost an able schoolmaster, whom he maintained as long as he continued to be the minister of the parish. The

poor of Penshurst soon learned the advantage of having one placed amongst them who sympathized with their distresses, and was able to relieve them. He dedicated to charitable purposes a stated weekly sum, in addition to a tenth of his income. He often purchased corn, to sell again to the people below the market-price; and was ready to lend little sums to those who had fallen into unforeseen calamity, permitting them to repay him by instalments. These acts of beneficence were his pleasures; and he often declared them to be the sources of unmingled gratification, feeling the truth of the scriptural saying, that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

He saw fit to celebrate the communion once a month, thinking it right to approach nearer to the primitive frequency than was then usual in country places. And on these occasions his instructions and example recommended liberality so strongly, that the collections rendered it unnecessary to levy a poors’-rate ; nay, means were supplied for apprenticing the children of the indigent parishioners.

It is recorded of at least one poor family, that they partook of his kindness long after his removal from Penshurst, and even to the close of his life. He sent them his practical works; paid for the education of one of the children ; and wrote friendly letters to the father, saying, that he should receive any reply with pleasure.

He always watched for opportunities of exciting and increasing a sense of religion in the hearts of his people ;

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