The poor doubting Christian drawn to Christ. Wherein the main hindrances, which keep men from coming to Christ, are discovered. : With special helps to recover God's favour.
Hooker, Thomas, 1586-1647., Prince, Thomas, 1687-1758.
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MR. THOMAS HOOKER was one of the most esteemed Divines in England, Holland, and New-Eng∣land, in his Day; for great Abili∣ties, a piercing Judgment, solid Learning, ex∣traordinary Sanctity, deep Acquaintance with the Scriptures and experimental Divinity, and for awakening and successful Preach∣ing: And his Name and Writings were very dear to Multitudes of the most serious Chris∣tians in those distant Countries.

Dr. Cotton Mather tells us, —That

He was born at Marfield, in Licestershire in ENGLAND, about the Year 1586. His natural Temper was chearful and courteous; but accompanied with such a sensible Grandeur of Mind, as caus'd his Friends to prognosticate that he was born to be considerable: His Parents gave him a liberal Education, and sent him to Cambridge; where he was chose a Proctor of the University, [whose Office is to see good Orders and Exercises duely performed there.] where the Influ∣ence he had on the Reformation of some growing Abuses, signaliz'd him; and he became a Fellow of Emanuel Colledge: The Ability and Fidelity wherewith he acquitted himself in his Fellowship, was sensible to the Page  2 whole University; and while he was in this Employment, the more effectual Grace of GOD gave him the Experience of a true Regeneration. It pleased the SPIRIT of GOD very powerfully to break into the Soul of this Person, with such a Sense of his being exposed to the just Wrath of Heaven, as fill'd him with the most unusual Degrees of Horror and Anguish, as broke not only his Rest but his Heart also, and caus'd him to cry out, While I suffer thy Terrors, O LORD I am distracted: He long had a Soul har∣rassed with such Distresses. He after∣wards gave this Account of himself; That in the Time of his Agonies, he could reason him∣self to the RULE, and conclude there was no Way but Submission to GOD, and lying at the Foot of his Mercy in CHRIST JESUS, and waiting humbly there, 'till he should please to perswade the Soul of his Favour: Neverthe∣less, when he came to apply this RULE to him∣self, in his own Condition, his Reasoning would fail him, he was able to do nothing. Having been a considerable while thus troubled with such Impressions from the SPIRIT of Bondage, as were to fit him for the great Services and Employments which GOD intended him; at length he receiv'd the SPIRIT of Adoption, with well-ground∣ed Perswasions of his Interest in the New-Covenant. It became his Manner at his Page  3 laying down for Sleep in the Evening, to single out some certain Promise of GOD, which he wou'd repeat and ponder, and keep his Heart close to it, until he found that Satisfaction of Soul wherewith he could say, I will lay me down in Peace and sleep; for thou, O LORD makest me dwell in Assu∣rance. And he would afterwards counsel Others to take 〈◊〉 same Course; telling them, That the Promise was the Boat, which was to carry a perishing Sinner over unto the LORD JESUS CHRIST. Being well got thro' the Storm of Soul, which had helped him to a most experimental Acquaintance with the Truths of the Gospel, and the Way of employing and applying those Truths; he was willing to serve the Church of GOD in the Ministry.

Leaving the University, he now had no Supe∣riour, and scarce any Equal, for the Skill of treat∣ing a troubled Soul: He publickly and fre∣quently preach'd about London; and in a little Time grew famous for his ministerial Abili∣ties, but especially for his notable Faculty at the wise and fit Management of wounded Spirits. Mr. Rogers of Dedham,* so highly valued him for his multifarious Abilities, that he used many Endeavours to get him settled Page  4 at Colchester: But Chelmsford in Essex, a Town of great Concourse, hearing the Fame of Mr. Hooker's powerful Ministry, addressed him to become their Lecturer: And about the Year 1626, he accepted their Offer; becoming not only their Lecturer but also on the Lord's Days an Assistant to one Mr. Mitchel the Incumbent of the Place; who being a godly 〈◊〉, gladly encoura∣ged Mr. Hooker, and liv'd with him in a most comfortable Amity. Here his Lec∣ture was exceedingly frequented and suc∣ceeded; and the Light of his Ministry shone thro' the whole County of Essex: And his Hearers felt those penetrating Impressions of his Ministry upon their Souls, which caused them to reverence him as a Teacher sent from GOD. As his Person was adorned with Learning, so his Preaching was set off with a Liveliness extraordinary: Yet the Vigour in his Ministry being raised by a Coal from the Altar, it wou'd be a Wrong to the good SPIRIT of GOD, if HE should not be acknowledged the Author of it: That SPI∣RIT accordingly gave a wonderful and un∣usual Success to the Ministry, wherein he so remarkably breathed. Hereby was a great Reformation wrought, not only in the Town, but in the adjacent Country; from all Parts whereof they came to hear the Wis∣dom of the LORD JESUS CHRIST in the Page  5 Gospel, by this worthy Man dispensed:
And some of great Quality among the rest, would often resort from far to his Assembly.

'The Joy of the People in this Light, was but for a Season: The consciencious Non∣conformity of Mr. Hooker, to some Rites of the Church of England, then vigorously pres∣sed, especially on such able and useful Mi∣nisters as were most likely to be laid aside by their scrupling those Rites, made it ne∣cessary for him to lay down his Ministry at Chelmsford, when he had been about four Years employed there, in it. Hereupon, at the Request of several eminent Persons, he kept a School at his own hired House, hav∣ing our Mr. John Eliot for his Usher, at Little-Baddow, not far from Chelmsford: Where he managed his Charge with such Discretion, such Authority, and such Effica∣cy, that he did very great Service to the Church of GOD in the Education of such as afterwards themselves proved not a little serviceable. In a Manuscript written by our blessed Eliot, he gives a very great Ac∣count of the little Academy then maintained in the House of Mr. Hooker; and among other Things, he says,

To this Place I was called, thro' the infinite Riches of GOD'S Page  6Mercy in CHRIST to my poor Soul: For here the LORD said to my dead Soul, Live; and thro' the Grace of CHRIST, I do live, and I shall live for ever! When I came to this blessed Family, I then saw, and never be∣fore, the Power of Godliness in its lively Vi∣gour and Efficacy.
While he continued thus in the Heart of Essex, and in the Hearts of the People there; he signaliz'd his Use∣fulness in many other Instances: The godly Ministers round about the Country wou'd have Recourse to him, to be directed and resolved in their difficult Cases; and it was by his Means that those godly Ministers held their monthly Meetings, for Fasting, Prayer, and profitable Conferences. He was indeed a general Blessing to the Church of GOD. And that which made the silencing Mr. Hooker more unaccountable, was, that seven and forty conformable Ministers of the neighbouring Towns, understanding the Bishop of London pretended Mr. Hooker's Ministry to be injurious or offensive to them, subscribed a Petition to the Bishop for his Continuance in the Ministry at Chelmsford: Yet all would not avail. The spiritual Court sitting at Chelmsford about 1630, had not only silenc'd him, but also bound him in a Bond of Fifty Pounds, to appear before the High Commission. But his Friends advised him to forfeit his Bonds rather than throw himself Page  7 any further into the Hands of his Enemies; sent the Sum into Court; and having by the Earl of Warwick a private Recess for a Time, he fled from the Pursevants to take his Passage for the LOW COUNTRIES: At parting with some of his Friends, one of them said, Sir, what if the Wind shou'd not be fair when you come to the Vessel? Whereto he instantly replied, Brother, Let us leave that with Him who keep the Wind in the Hol∣low of his Hand: And it was observ'd, that tho' the Wind was cross 'till he came a∣board, yet it immediately then came about fair and fresh; and he was no sooner under sail, but the Officer arriv'd at the Sea-side, happily too late to come at him.

Arriving in HOLLAND, he was invited to a Settlement with Mr. Paget at Amster∣dam: But being secretly willing Mr. Hooker should not accept the Invitation, he went to Delft; where he was most kindly receiv'd by Mr. Forbs an aged and holy Scotch Mi∣nister, under whose Ministry many English Merchants were then settled. Mr. Forbs manifested a strong Desire to enjoy the Fel∣lowship of Mr. Hooker in the Work of the Gospel; which he did about two Years: In all which Time they lived like Brethren. At the End of two Years, he had a Call to Rotterdam; which he the more readily ac∣cepted, because it renewed his Acquaintance Page  8 with his invaluable Dr. Ames, who had newly left his Place, [viz. Professor of Divi∣nity] in the Frisian University. With him Mr. Hooker spent the Residue of his Time in Holland, and assisted him in composing some of his Discourses: For such was the Regard which Dr. Ames had for him, that notwith∣standing his vast Ability and Experience; yet when he came to the Narrow of any Question about the instituted Worship of GOD, he would still profess himself con∣quered by Mr. Hooker's Reason; declaring that tho' he had been acquainted with many Scholars of divers Nations, yet he never met with Mr. Hooker's Equal, either for Preach∣ing or for Disputing.

But having tarried in HOLLAND long enough to see the State of Religion in the Churches there; he became satisfied it was neither eligible for Him to tarry in that Coun∣try, nor convenient for his Friends to be in∣vited thither after him. Wherefore, about this Time, understanding that many of his Friends in Essex were upon the Wing for a Wilderness in AMERICA, where they hoped for an Opportunity to enjoy and practice the pure Worship of CHRIST, in Churches gathered according to his Direction; He readily answered their Invitation to accom∣pany them in this Undertaking. Returning to England, he was thickly scented by the Page  9 Pursevants, [and remarkably preserv'd] but conceal'd himself more carefully 'till he went on board the Ship at the Downs, which bro't him and Mr. Cotton, and Mr. Stone to NEW-ENGLAND in 1633. Mr. Hooker and Mr. Cotton were for their different Ge∣nius, the Luther and Melanchion of NEW-ENGLAND. At their Arrival Mr. Cotton settled with the Church of Boston; but Mr. Hooker with the Church of Newtown, having Mr. Stone for his Assistant. Inex∣pressible was now the Joy of Mr. Hooker to find himself surrounded with his Friends, who were come over the Year before to prepare for his Reception: With open Arms he embrac'd them, and uttered these Words, Now I live, if ye stand fast in the LORD. But such Multitudes flocked over after them, that Newtown became to strait for them: And it was Mr. Hooker's Advice, that they should not incur the Danger of a Sitna or an Esek, where they might have a Rehoboth.Page  10 Accordingly in June 1636, He, with about an hundred Persons in the first Company, re∣moved an hundred Miles to the Westward, to settle on the Banks of CONNECTICUT-RIVER: Who not being able to walk a∣bove ten Miles a Day [thro' the Woods,] took up near a Fortnight in their Journey; hav∣ing no Pillows to take their nightly Rest on, but such as their Father Jacob sound in the Way to Padan-aram. Here [viz. at Hart∣ford] Mr. Hooker was the chief Instrument of beginning ANOTHER COLONY: [viz. CONNECTICUT COLONY.]

He was a Man of Prayer, and wou'd say, That PRAYER was a principal Part of a Minister's Work; 'twas by this that he was to carry on the rest. Accordingly he devoted one Day in a Month to private Prayer with Fasting before the LORD, beside the publick Fasts, which often occurred. He wou'd say, That such extraordinary Favours as the Life of Religion, and the Power of Godliness, must be preserved by the frequent use of such extraordinary Means as Prayer with Fasting: And if Professors grow negligent of those Means, Iniquity will abound, and the Love of many wax cold. He did much abound in Acts of CHARITY. He had a singular A∣bility at giving Answers to Cases of Conscience; whereof happy was the Experience of some Thousands: And for this Work he usually Page  11 set apart the second Day of the Week; where∣in he admitted all sorts of Persons in their Discourses with him to reap the Benefit of the extraordinary Experience which himself had found of Satan's Devices. Tho' he had a notable Hand in discussing and adjusting controversial Points, yet he would hardly ever handle polemical Divinity in the Pulpit; but the Spirit of his Ministry lay in Points of the most practical Religion, and the grand Concerns of a Sinner's Preparation for, Implantation in, and Salvation by CHRIST. That reverend and excellent Man Mr. [Henry] Whitfield, having spent many Years in studying Books, did at length take two or three Years in stu∣dying Men: And in Pursuance of this De∣sign, having acquainted himself with the most considerable Divines in England, at last fell into the Acquaintance of Mr. Hooker: Concerning whom he gave this Testimony, That he had not tho't there had been such a Man on Earth; a Man in whom there shone so many Excellencies, as were in this incom∣parable Hooker; a Man in whom Learning and Wisdom were so tempered with Zeal, Ho∣liness, and Watchfulness. When one that stood weeping by the Bed-side, in the Time of his [last] Sickness, said to him, Sir, You are going to receive the Reward of all your La∣bours: He [raised up himself and] repli∣ed, Page  12Brother, I am going to receive MERCY. At last he clos'd his Eyes with his own Hands, and gently stroaking his Forehead, with a Smile in his Countenance gave a lit∣tle Groan, and expired, on July 7. 1647. In which last Hours the glorious Peace of Soul which he had enjoyed without any Inter∣ruption for near thirty Years together, so glori∣ously accompanied him, that a worthy Spec∣tator then writing to Mr. Cotton, a Relation thereof, made this Reflection; 〈…〉 the Sight of his Death will make me have more pleasant Tho'ts of Death than ever I yet had in my Life! Thus liv'd and died one of the first Three. He of whom his Pupil Mr. Ash* gives this Testimony; For his great Abilities and glorious Services, both in this and the other England, he deserves a Place in the first Rank of them whose Lives are of late recorded.

These are so many Passages recited from his Life, written by Dr. Cotton Mather; who also calls him, the Light of the Western Churches and Pillar of CONNECTICUT COLONY; and declares, that yet he has underdone in this Part of his Composure: And Dr. Increase Page  13 Mather, writing of Mr. Hooker, says; So good and so great a Man; than whom CONNECTICUT never did, and perhaps never will see a greater Person; and that Dr. Ames used to say. He never knew his Equal.

As to the following Treatise,—It evidently breaths his most pious Spirit, and shows his in∣timate Acquaintance with Heart-Religion. It is delivered in the plainest and most familiar Language, void of all Ornament, as if he were speaking privately to some distressed Soul; which was his usual Manner in his practical Discourses, as being more adapted to reach the Heart, than please the Imagination. And this admirable Condescention in a Man of such vast Abilities, is a clear Discovery of the real Greatness of his holy Soul.

It seems to be but Part of others on the same Text, delivered to a popular Auditory, taken in short Hand by one of his Hearers in England, and published there, after his coming over hither, without his Knowledge, as many if not most of his practical Discourses were; as also with divers Mistakes committed by Transcribers & Printers, which I have endeavoured to correct. And for the Reader's clearer Under∣standing the particular Purport of the several Parts; I have presumed to divide the Treatise into Chapters, and set the Heads in the former Margin for their Titles, in this, which I guess to be about the seventh Edition.

Page  14I would recommend it to those desirous of having the Impediments which hinder them from applying by Faith to CHRIST, removed; and by divine Help, would learn the happy Way of going first to the Promises of CHRIST, and then therewith to CHRIST himself; and in this Way daily living on him and deriving from him all their Strength and Blessedness.

And may the DIVINE SPIRIT attend it to the Soul of every one that reads it; and by promoting the Life of Faith, and other Parts of Sanctification, increase their present Com∣fort, and the Glory of the DIVINE RE∣DEEMER, as well as their mutual Joy with HIM and this blessed Instrument of his, when they shall meet together in the growing World above: AMEN.

Thomas Prince.

Boston,April 1. 1743.