« AnteriorContinuar »
the persecution of the Protestant Dissenters in King Charles II.'s reign. The uncommon genius of this their son appeared betimes, for he began to learn Latin at four years old, in the knowledge of which as well as of the Greek language he made a swift progress under the care of the Rev. Mr. Pinhorne, a clergyman of the established church, to whom the Doctor has inscribed an ingenious Latin ode in his Hore Lyrica. He was early taken notice of for the sprightliness and vivacity of his wit, talents which too often prove fatal snares to young persons; but he through the distinguishing grace of God was not only preserved from criminal follies, but had a deep sense of religion upon his heart betimes. In the year 1690 he was sent up to London for academical education, where he was placed under the tuition of the Rev. Mr. Thomas Rowe, to whom also he has inscribed an ode in his Hore Lyricæ. I have been credibly informed that while he resided in this college of learning his behaviour was not only so inoffensive that his tutor declared he never once gave him any occasion for reproof, but so exemplary that he often proposed him as a pattern to his other pupils for their imitation. In the year 1693 he joined in communion with the church of which his worthy tutor was pastor. When he had finished his course of studies at the academy he returned to his father's house, where he spent two years more in reading, meditation, and prayer, in order to
DR. ISAAC WATTS. *
IT hath been so usual to prefix some account of an au. thor's life to his works, that many persons would no doubt be disappointed of their expectation, and would look upon the book as imperfect, without something of that sort. It is not because there is no surviving friend of the Doctor's who would willingly pay that respect to his memory as to write the history of his life that the reader is not gratified in this respect with so large a narrative as he would probably desire, but it is because the Doctor himself while living disapproved it; for when he has been desired to leave some memoirs that might furnish out such a history he absolutely declined it, and desired that his character might stand in the world merely as it would appear in his Works Besides, as the Doctor's feeble state of health through the greater part of his life obliged him to pass the most of his time in retirement from the world, not so many incidents and changes occurred in his life (which was for the most part led on in one even track) as generally furnish out a good part of such histories, (and that by the way makes it truly wonderful how he acquired such a knowledge of the
* Taken from the Account of Dr. Watts's Life and Characier prefixed to the quarto edition of his Works in six vols, printed in 1753. Bulwine 1.
his being further qualified and fitted for that great work to which he was determined to devote his life, and of the awful importance of wiich he had a deep sense upon his mind. From hence he was invited in the year 1676, by that eminently pious and learned gentleman Sir John Hartopp, Bari. deceased, to reside in his family at Stoke-Newington, as tutor to his scn, the present Sir John, where he continued four years, and where his behaviour won him such esteem and respect as laid the foundation of that intimate friendship which subsisted between his worthy pupil and him to the day of his death.
But wbile he assisted Sir John's studies he did not neglect his own; for not only did he further improve himself in those branches of learning in which more especially he assisted his pupil, but applied himself to the reading of the Scriptures in the original tongues, and the best commentators both critical and practical.
He began to preach on his birth-day 1698, and was the same year chosen Assistant to the Rev. Dr. Isaac Chauncy, then pastor of his church: but his public labours, which met with general acceptance, were soon after interrupted by a threatening illness for five monihs, which was thought to be occasioned by the fervour of his zeal in preaching the glorious gospel of Christ However that did not discourage him from returning to his delightful woik as soon as God was pleased to restore his healih.
In January 1701 he received a call from this church to succeed Dr. Chauncy in the pastoral office, which he fignified his acceptance of the very day that King William died, notwithstanding the discouraging prospect which that event gave to men of his profession, and the fears with which it filled the hearts of Protestant Dissenters at that time. But he had “ set his “ hand to the plough, and would not look back:' accordingly he was solemnly ordained to the pastoral office 18th March following.
But the joy of the church in their happy settlement was soon after damped by his being seized with a painful and threatening illness, which laid him by for some time, and from which he recovered by slow degrees; upon which they saw it needful to provide him with a slated Assistant; accordingly the Rev. Mr. Samuel Price, your present worthy pastor, was chosen to that service in July 1763.
But notwithstanding his public labours were by this means eased his health remained very fluctuating and tender for some years. However as it increased he renewed his diligence in fulfilling his ministry; and how were you delighted and edified with his sermons in public, and with his entertaining and profit• . able conversation in the visits which he made to your families! It was in this season of his more confirmed health that he formed a society of the younger members of his church for prayer and religious conference, to whom he delivered the substance of that excellent