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Thomas Peacock

Thomas Peacock, B. D.—This learned and pious divine was born in Cheshire, and educated most probably in Brazen-nose college, Oxford, where he was chosen fellow. He was the learned tutor, the familiar friend, and the spiritual father to the famous Mr. Robert Bolton, of Broughton in Northamptonshire, who, at his death, left an account of him in manuscript, which was intended for the use of the public, and afterwards published by his friend Mr. Edward Bagshawc. Thence the following singular narrative of Mr. Peacock is collected; and it contains a pretty copious abstract of the whole. As the piece is written throughout nearly in the form of a dialogue, the same method is observed in the abstract, with as little alteration as possible.

* Clark's Lives annexed to Martyr, p. 318,319.

Mr. Peacock was a very godly minister of Christ, and a rare example of humility and holiness in the religious education of his scholars, and in his extraordinary concern for both the bodies and souls of poor distressed christians. Notwithstanding his eminent grace and excellent piety, he endured, in his last sickness, the most remarkable spiritual conflict. He was brought even to the suburbs of hell, and thence plucked as a brand from the fire. The enemy of his peace was permitted to come upon him as an armed man; but God restored comfort to his dejected soul, bound up his broken spirit, and poured the precious balm of Gilead into his wounded and bleeding conscience. For nearly three weeks after the commencement of his affliction, bis time was almost wholly employed in serious devotion and holy converse with God, and he was full of most heavenly consolations. He said his hope was firmly fixed on the rock Christ Jesus. He hoped the Lord would give him a place among his saints, though it were in the lowest room. He thanked God, that he had no trouble of conscience; and that the Lord did not suffer Satan to vex him. But afterwards calling to some of his friends, he addressed them as follows:

Peacock. I thought I had been in a good state, but I see it now far otherwise. My conscience lays these things against me. I brought up my scholars in gluttony, letting them cat their fill of meat when they lived with me. While I was talking, they did undo themselves. I did unadvisedly expound places of scripture at the tabic; and for these things I now feel a hell in my conscience. I have procured my own death, by often eating like a beast.

Friend. How do you do?

P. Sin, sin, sin!

F. What doth any lie on your conscience ?

P. Yea, my inconsiderateness: I did cut too much meat to breakfast. But God be thanked there is no greater. As we must not extenuate, so neither must we too much aggravate our sin. Let drunkards and gluttons have those terrible horrors. I thank God, I never continued in any known sin against my conscience.—(He afterwards with bitterness exclaimed,) A damnable wretch. Oh, how woeful and miserable is my state, that I must converse with hellhounds. The Lord hath cursed me: the event sheweth it. I have no grace. I was a foolish, vain-glorious hypocrite, ft is against the course of God's proceeding to save me. He hath otherwise decreed: he cannot.

. F.~ Put your trust in God.

P. I cannot; no more than a horse. ' •

F. Do you desire to believe ?

P. No more than a post, or an horse-shoe. I have no more sense of grace than these curtains; than a goose; than a block.

F. Let the testimony of your life past comfort you, especially in the calling of a tutor.

P. I did the business thereof negligently. When I handled hard authors, I came often unprepared, and read shamefully.

F. Be of good courage, and the Lord will comfort your heart.

P. It is ended: there is no such matter. F. Why do you think so? You shall see the event.. God will yet bring it to pass. P. Tush, tush, trifles.

F. What do you think of your former doctrine ?

P. Very good.

F. Let it now comfort you.

P. It cannot.

F. You desire it could. There is nothing impossible with God, which stands with his decree.

P. Oh! Ob! miserable and woeful. The burden of my sin lieth heavy upon me. I doubt it will break my heart.

F. Behold your comforts.

P. That is nothing to me. I pray you hold your peace. You vex me. Your words are as daggers in my heart. F. Remember, sir, the good counsels you have given us. P. Those were ordinary.

F. You may sec many others in the like estate. See David.

P. Not such as mine. Why do you speak to me of David?

F. Good sir, endeavour to settle your mind.
P. Yes, to play with hell-hounds.
F. Will you pray.
P. I cannot.

F. You were wont heretofore.

P. Yes, by a custom and vain-glory. .

F. Suffer us to pray for you.

P. Take not the name of God in vain, by praying for a reprobate. F. Suffer us to pray for ourselves.

P. Look to it; you would now shew your faculty in praying.—(After prayer was ended, he said, do not trouble yourselves in vain.)

F. Let not the devil delude you, abusing your mind and tongue. I know you speak not these words.

P. I wonder that intelligent scholars should speak thus.

F. We are persuaded you are in as good a state as ourselves.

P. Look how it is with yourselves, in truth.

F. How can you discern this change by the absence of God, if you never enjoyed his presence?

P. I thought I had it once; but now I see it is far otherwise. On, me! Wretch that I am!

F. Be of good comfort.

P. I cannot. I have no more grace than a back-stock.

F. Do you desire grace ?

P. I cannot. I can as well leap over the church.
F. Would you not be in heaven ?
P. I would not.

F. The devil himself would if he rnuld. Yon hare
the testimony of faith: you love the brethren.
P. I do not.
F. Do you not love us ?
P. No.

F. What is it that most troubles you ?

P. I took too much upon me foolishly. I had got a little logic and Greek; and, meanly instructed in the rules, I set myself to read to scholars; and afterwards undertook other business which drew my attention. from them. I. have destroyed a thousand souls.

F. You may see the falsehood of him that suggesteth 'this unto you. You never had a thousand. The good effect of your pains appears in many of your scholars. x

P.' They were of themselves capable.

F. Name one in whom they do not appear.

P. There is one, (pointing at a master of arts.).

F. I thank God, that I ever came to you.

P. It is not so. I did foolishly. : F. You confess you did foolishly; therefore, not of malice. Consider what would have become of them, if you had not taken them. • P. Better, far tetter.

F. All the college know the contrary.

P. But I feel it.

F. It is false: believe not the devil.

P. It is loo true.

F. When will you make amends ? God will give you your desire. P. Never.

F. Are you sorry that he will not ?

P. No. There is no grace in my heart: it is dead.

F. Whom God lovetn once, he loveth to the end.

P. But he never did love me. I deceived myself by a certain vain-glory.

F. You could say the Lord's prayer, and, therefore) call him Father.

P. That I did hypocritically.

F. You must trust in the Lord.

P. I cannot: I cannot. He will not have me saved. His sentence is passed.

F. Do you desire to be saved?

P. No.

F. Do you desire to desire ?
P. No.

F. Would you be damned ?
P. No.

F. Look at the sins of other men, as great as yours; and yet they are saved.

P. They are good and godly. They have found grace: here is the difference. My sins are horrible.

F. I see now how it is. You strictly look back to your own actions for your justification, and will have none of God's mercy; and now he hath justly met with you. Your judgment is just. Do you hope to be justified by your own merits ?

P. I fear to be damned for my sins. Oh! if you did but feel my grief only one hour, you would have compassion.

F. If you were in the fire, you would wish to get out.

P. I had rather be in the fire than here. I took many things upon me too proudly, and, being negligent, performed nothing. Cursed be the day when I took scholars. If I had not taken them, I had been happy. I was an hypocrite, and now there is no hope of comfort for me in G;d's presence.

F. What would you counsel me to do ?

P. Abide within the bounds of your calling. Take not too much upon you, and the Lord will bless you.

F. Will it avail me to hear sermons ?

P. Yes, if you mean to be saved.

F. What good shall I reap thence ?
P. Nothing from bare hearing.
F. You know the poor in spirit arc blessed,
P. I am not such.

F. You see you are empty of all good: you feel your burden.

P. I pray you, go your way. (He turned his head aside, ana stopped his ears.)

F. What though you have done but little good; yet, if you have only given a cup of cold water, in the name of a disciple, it will Dc accepted.

P. Oh! if God—

F. He will give yougracc.

P. I doubt it. Oh God, give me a spark of grace, and enlarge my heart to apprehend it.

P. Oh, Mr. Dod! I have no grace.

Dod. I will not believe every one who saith he hath grace, nor every one who saith he hath none. A man must not always be led by sense. You forgive your enemies and love them, and would do them no hurt, if you could.

P. Yes.

D. Then your sins are forgiven: an hypocrite may give alms and fast, but this he cannot do. P. That is a small matter.

D. I think it to be a great one; yea, such a one as I had need to pray for. That is put for a reason in the Lord's

Erayer; and if Christ had thought of any more forcible, e would have given it.

P. Sir, that is true, in those who are elected.

D. Do not you put an exception where God hath put none. I came hither to cherish you; and you love your friends.

P. I cannot.

D. Would you rather have bad or good men to be with you? P. Good.

D. Yet you say you do not love them. There is no fellowship between light and darkness. Doth your sickness or your sin most trouble you ? And would you have grace, rather than health ?

P. Grace: but it cannot be.

D. Do you desire to be saved ?

P. Infinitely! Oh! if God would give me a drop. But I feel horror. D. Do not you search into the secrets of God ?

P. It is too true and manifest.

D. Sir, do not always be d igging at your sins. A wound continually rubbed cannot be cured. Suffer the plaster of the word of God to rest upon it, that it may be healed.

P. Oh, if I had! Oh, if it would please God! I had rather than any thing in this or three thousand worlds. D. Who now giveth this desire unto you ? Of ourselves

and the deed. A desire is a sure token.

P. But I cannot truly desire. Oh, if he would enlarge, my heart. D. Cast your burden upon the Lord. P. He hath rejected me.

D. Who made you his counsellor ? Secret things belong to God, but things revealed to us. Will you make almanacs ?

P. He doth manifest it. Oh, mine abominable bringing np of youth!—(He groaned most bitterly.)

D. Behold we make your state our own—we have part in your sorrow. Who hath thus disposed our hearts i

P. God.

D. And do you think that he who causeth us to loveyou doth not love you himself?

P. I fear I did too much glory in matters of private service of God.

D. The devil hath now winnowed you, and you think all is gone out; but. God holdeth what is his. When an earthly father setteth his son on work, he must do it in his' own strength: but the Lord setteth on work, and giveth strength.

P. Oh, my heart is miserable.

D. What then ? A father loveth his son as well when' he is sleeping as when he is waking. Sir, I have known you heretofore, and although, if I were in your case, I might do as you do; yet I should remain the servant of God, as you certainly do. If Jacob-could say of Esau, I have seen thy face as though I had seen the face of God; how much more should you think so of the children of God who come to you.

P. I think God hath begun to give me ease.
D. He will in his good time.
P. God grant it.

•D. Although we depart from our friends in the way, we shall meet at the end. i After Mr. Dod was departed, he received a letter from ids

God giveth both the will

affectionate friend Mr. Bolton,' in which he thus addressed him:—" I heard, I know not how, that my dear christian friend Mr. Peacock is in great distress, which hath much grieved and afflicted my heart, and wrung from me many bitter tears. If his extremities be such, his temptations are likely to be very sore. Tell him from me, as from one who did ever with dearest intimacy know and converse with him, that I can assure him in the word of life and truth, from a most' holy and just God, whose minister I am, that he is undoubtedly one of his saints, designed for immortality, and the endless joys of another world."

Upon the reading of Mr. Bolton's letter, at those words, "I can assure him," he said, " Oh, take heed, take heed. I did deceive myself: now God hath revealed more. My heart is broken." " Then," observed one of his friends, " the promise is yours." " Oh," said he, " I love your company, for the grace that is in you." He then cried to the Lord, saying, " Oh God, reconcile me unto thee, that I may taste one dram of thy grace, by which my miserable soul may receive comfort. Satan hath borne me in hand, and hath deluded me." A person afterwards coming to him, and asking him how he did, he replied, " My mind was grievously puzzled with sundry distractions in the night; but now, I thank God, I feel my burden more light. Lord, grant me the comfort of thy deliverance, and forgive me my foolishness, that I may praise thy name." An intimate friend taking his final leave of him, and asking his counsel, he said, " Look to your calling, that it be as well inward as outward;" and he urged others to be diligent in promoting God's glory. Being asked how he did? he said, "•Oh! if it would please God that I might live with him:" then added, " I have been thinking of arguments by which I might plead my cause with God, and I have found them. But what if dying thus 1 should be found ah apostate! Truly," said he, " my heart and soul have been far led, and deeply troubled with temptations and strifes of conscience ; but, I thank God, they are in a good measure eased: wherefore I desire that I may not be branded as a reprobate."

Afterwards, when he was asked what he thought of his former doctrine, he said, " It is most true. In it I have lived, and in it I will die: I have not dealt hypocritically in it." Being asked whether he was willing to die, he said, «4 I truly submit to the will of God." When it was inquired whether he forgave all offences, he replied, " Yes,

VoL. II. p

and desire that mine may be forgiven. I heartily and humbly ask forgiveness." When it was intimated that his conversation had been unblameable, he said, " No; I dare not affirm it . I trust in nothing but in the name of Jesus Christ; yet I would not be pressed to a particular assurance in this grievous agony. Indeed," said he, " I have been bold to argue thus with God: if he hath shewed mercy to such and such, why should not I likewise have hope. The Lord is merciful to me, and I have cause of rejoicing."

Dr. Airay coming to see him, be complained of his sin and misery; and when the doctor signified that he looked not for any thing in himself to recommend him to God, he said, " No, nothing." To a number of young gentlemen who came to see him, he said, " Live in the fear of God, that you may die in his favour. Otherwise the ox and the ass will condemn you. I spent my time foolishly and prodigally." When it was observed that he had remembered this sufficiently, and was advised to remember Christ also, he said, " That is true. Christ is to be remembered, and our sins are to be remembered also."

About two hours before his death he expressed himself to those about him as follows:—" You all expect that I should declare what I think of my own salvation. Truly God is for ever so endearingly tender, and so inconceivably merciful to all those whom he hath once loved, that he doth never finally forsake them. Therefore I am assured that I shall go to heaven. Happy, thrice happy are those fetters of affliction in which my gracious God hath tied and bound me." A friend having said to him, " You have fought a good fight," he answered, " It is requisite, it is requisite that I should contend for heaven. Lift me up; help me out; carry me hence that I may go to heaven. God doth favourably accept the endeavours of his saints." Being reminded of God's great mercy to him, he said, " Oh, the sea is not so full of water, nor the sun of light, as God is of goodness. His mercy is ten thousand times more. I do, God be praised, feel such comfort in this, that if I had five thousand worlds, I could not make recompense for such an issue. How shall I extol the munificence of God, which is unspeakable, and more than any heart can conceive f Let us, with humble reverence, acknowledge his great mercy. What great cause have I to magnify the goodness of God, who hath humbled, nay, rather hath exalted so wretched a miscreant, and of so base a condition, to an estate so glorious and stately! The Lord," said he, u hatb honoured me

With his goodness. I am sure he hath provided a glorious kingdom for me. The joy that I feel in my soul is incredible. Blessed be God, blessed be God! lama thousand times happy to have such felicity thrown upon me, a poor wretched miscreant." After panting a little for breath, he said, " Lord Jesus, into thy hands I commit my spirit . Lord, receive my soul. Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me, and be merciful unto me;" and then fell asleep in the Lord, December 4, 1611. His remains were interred in St. Mary's church, Oxford.*

Mr. Peacock was greatly beloved by many persons of real worth, on account of his great learning, piety, and usefulness. Sir Robert Harley,+ his constant friend and worthy patron, was particularly kind to him during his heavy affliction, and promised, if the Lord should restore him, to do great things for him. The learned divines who attended Mr. Peacock in his sickness, as Mr. Dod, Dr. Airay, and others, were all decided puritans. The author and publisher of his life were persons of the same stamp. The latter employed his printer to procure a license for the work, during the severe persecution of the puritans, in 1635, but in this he was absolutely refused; because " it was too precise (meaning too puritanical) for those times." It was afterwards licensed by Mr. Edmund Calamy, the celebrated nonconformist, and published in 1646. From all these circumstances, we conclude that Mr. Peacock was a divine of puritanical principles, and ought in justice to be classed among the puritan worthies^