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Jeremiah Whitaker

Jeremiah Whitaker, A. M.—This excellent person was born at Wakefield in Yorkshire, in the year 1599, and educated in Sidney college, Cambridge, where he was held in hia;h estimation. lie was religiously thoughtful from a child; and when a boy at school he used to travel, in company with others, eight or ten miles to hear the gospel, and unite with them in prayer and other religious exercises.

• BioK. Brilan. vol. v. p. 3199 Edit. 1747.

+ MS. Account. f Love's Vindication, p. 36. Edit. 1661.

^ Wood's Athene Oxon. vol. ii. p. 104.

He often said, in the clays of his youth, " I bad much rather be a minister of the gospel than an emperor." While at the university, he made considerable progress in the various branches of useful literature; and, upon his removal, he settled at Oakham in Rutlandshire, where, for some time, he taught school. Here he became intimate with Mr. William Peachy, an emineut scholar and preachei, whose daughter he afterwards married. Having been at Oakham about four years, he accepted the pastoral charge at Stretton in the same county. He naturally cared for the souls of the people, and the preaching of the gospel was his beloved work. His heart was so deeply engaged in the work, that, having received an invitation to become master of a college, he returned this reply: "My heart," said he, "doth more desire to be a constant preacher than to lie master of any college in the world."

Upon the publication of the Hook of Sports, this amiable divine, with multitudes of his brethren, was exposed to the persecution of the ruling prelates. Though, for refusing to read it, he was involved in some difficulties, he happdy escaped the malicious threatenings of his enemies. Being afterwards required to afford pecuniary assistance for the purpose of carrying on the war against the Scots, he refused, and openly told the bishop, or his chancellor, that he could not do it with a good conscience; for which, if one of his friends had not paid the money, he would have suffered suspension and deprivation.*

Mr. Whitaker, having preached at Stretton thirteen years, was chosen, in the year 1643, one of the assembly of divines. This called him up to London, when he accepted an invitation to the pastoral office of St. Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey, in Southwark; and he became one of the morning lecturers at the Abbey church, Westminster. In 1647 he was appointed a member of the first provincial assembly holden in London, and was once chosen to the office of moderator. During the same year, by an order from the house of lords, he was appointed, with Dr. Thomas Goodwin, to have the oversight and examination of the papers to be printed for the assembly of divines.* The

!rear following he was in danger of being deprived of his ecture at Westminster for refusing the engagement; but, on account of his universal esteem and great moderation, he continued unmolested.*

* Clark's Lives annexed to bis Martyrologie, p. 264, 265. t Dissenting Brethren's Propositions.

This worthy divine, during the latter part of his life, was afflicted with most racking pains, but was of a most humble, meek, and quiet spirit. Under these tormenting iigonies, he never murmured, but, in the exercise of faith and patience, was entirely resigned to the will of God. He manifested so excellent a spirit through the whole of his long and painful affliction, that many persons were of opinion that God designed him for a pattern of patience to posterity. When his friends asked him how he did, he usually replied, " The bush is always burning, but not consumed. And though my pains lie above the strength of nature, they are not above the supports of grace." About two months before his death, his pains became more extreme than ever, when he cried thus unto the Lord: "O thou Father of mercies, pity me. Do not contend for ever. Consider my frame, that I am but dust. My God, who hast made heaven and earth, help me. Oh! give me patience, and inflict what thou wilt. If my patience was more, my pain would be less. Dear Saviour, why dost thou cover thyself with a thick cloud? Blessed is the man that endureth temptation. Consider, Lord, that I am thy servant. Lord, drop some sweet comfort into these bitter waters. O that the blood of sprinkling may allay my pains I I am in a fiery furnace. Lord, be with me, and bring me out refined from sin. When I have sailed through the ocean of these pains, and look back, I see they are all needful. I fly unto thee, O God! Hide me under the shadow of thy wings, till the terrible storm be overpast. O, my God! break open the prison door, and set my poor captive soul at liberty. But enable me willingly to wait thy time. No man ever more desired life than I desire death. When will that day arrive that I shall neither sin nor sorrow any more? When shall this earthly tabernacle be dissolved, that I may be clothed upon with that house which is from heaven? Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord; for they rest from their labours."

Through the wholcofhisaffliction he exercised an unshaken confidence- in God, and enjoyed an uninterruped assurance of his favJur. He called him my Father and my God, and said, " Consider, and save me, for I am thine. How long,

• Clark's Lives, p. 266.

how long, shall I not be remembered? Yes, I am remembered: blessed be thy name. This is a fiery chariot, but it'will carry me to heaven. Blessed be God, who has hitherto supported me; who has delivered me, and will deliver me." As the agonizing fils oi pain wire coming upon him, he usually said, " Now, in the strength of the Lord God, I will undergo these pains. Oh! my God, put underneath thine everlasting arms, and strengihen me." Notwithstanding nil his pains and roarings, he often told his friends, that he would not, for a thousand worlds, exchange states with any man on earth whom he looked upon as living in a stale of sin. The grand adversary of souls could never shake his confidence. He often said, "Through mercy, I have not one repining thought against God." As he felt the fits coming on, he requested his friends to withdraw, that tbey might not be grieved by hearing his groan* ings; and he blessed God they were not obliged to hear his doleful lamentations. As the period of his dissolution approached, his agonizing fits became more frequent and more painful; but the Lord was, at length, pleased to deliver him out of them all. He died June 1, lo'54, aged fifty-five years, and his mortal remains were interred in Bermondscy church, when vast numbers of people honoured his funeral by their attendance.* His funeral sermon was preached by Mr. Simeon Ashe, and afterwards published, entitled, "Living Loves betwixt Christ and Dying Christians. A Sermon preached at M. Magdalene, Bermondsey in Southwark, near London, June 6', 1654, at the Funeral! of the faithful Servant of Christ, IVr. Jeremiah Whitaker, Minister of the Gospel, with a Narrative of his exemplary Lite and Death," 1654.

After Mr. Whitaker's death, his body was opened in the

Eresence of several physicians; when they tbun.l both hit iduies full of ulcers, and one of them swelled to an enormous size, and filled with purulent matter. In the neck of his bladder, they round a stone about an inch and half long, and an inch broad, weighing about two ounces, which is supposed to have occasioned his racking pains.t "He was a constant and an excellent preacher, an universal scholar, an eminent theologian, an able disputant, and much given to acts of charity and liberality ."$ Mr. Leigh says, " he was a pious and learned diviue, mighty in

• Clark's Li»-s, p. 567—872.

+ Ibid. p. «73.—Ashe's Fun. Ser. for Mr. Whitakrr.

t Clark's Lives, p. 266.

the scriptures, laborious in his ministerial function, zealouft , for God's glory, and of a humble, melting spirit, and a wonderful instance of patience during the whole of his heavy affliction."* Fuller includes him among the learned writers of Sidney college, Cambridge, + We have not been able to collect any long list of nis writings; only he published certain sermons preached before the parliament, and probably some others. Mr. William Whitaker, ejected in 1662, was his son.J

Mr. Whitaker, during his heavy affliction, wrote a letter to the Protector Cromwell, the sight of which will be highly gratifying to every inquisitive reader. It is transcribed from the original in Mr. Whitaker's own hand, and though there be no date, it was evidently written in the year J651. It is addressed " To his Highness the Lord Protector," of which the following is a copy :^

"May it please your highness to pardon this boldness in presenting this book, composed by some godly men, to appease the heat of the present controversies, wherein is proved—' That the office ot the ministry is not the intrusion of men, but the institution of Jesus Christ.—That the necessity of this office is perpetual.—That the ministry was so preserved under antichrist, that it is not antichristian.— That this office is peculiar to some, and not common to all.— And that they who assume this office must be called lawfully at present, and also hereafter.' Ordination in general is necessary, and how that is to be observed is justifiable.

"I cannot come to tender it, being confined to my chamber under extreme tormenting pains of the stone, which forceth me to cry and sorrow night and day. But blessed for ever be the Lord, who hath begotten us to a lively hope and joy by Jesus Christ; that the thoughts of eternity do sweeten the bitter things of time: that, when we are weary of the things of this life, we may greatly rejoice in hope of a better. In this dying condition, give me leave to tender many thanks to your highness for taking away the engagement, whereby you have greatly refreshed the consciences of many. The good Lord recompense this great act of mercy, and enlarge your heart to prevent the like snares in future, at which the worst of men frown, and the best of men mourn. And the same God who hath raised you above other men, still raise you to be higher than yourself, far

• Leigh's Religion and Learning, p. 364.
+ History of Cambridge, p. 154.
X Palmer's Noncnn. Mem. vol. i. p. 157.
§ Sluane's MS*. No. 4159.

above all these dominions, and thrones, and powers; that you may account all these things low and little, dregs and dust, dung and dross, in comparison of things eternal. Also, what poor things are Pompey, Caesar, Nimrod, and Nebuchadnezzar, to the Abels, whose thoughts are fixed on things everlasting!

*' May it please your highness to consider seriously, how religion is not only weakened by divisions, but almost wasted by the daily growing of alterations. The reins of government a long time have been let loose, and are now lost in the church totally: in families extremely so, that masters know not how to order their servants, nor parents their children. AH grow willing to command, but unwiHing to be commanded: sabbaths are generally profaned, ordinances despised, the youth playing whilst the minister is preaching, the consciences of many growing wanton, abusing liberty to all licentiousness. And there are none left in places to put offenders to shame for any of these abominations. The good Lord persuade your heart to appoint such justices whose principles and practice lead them to restrain ▼ice; who do account the sabbath their delight, that the inferior officers may be by them encouraged.

"I beseech you also, in the bowels of Jesus Christ, to remember the many poor prisoners in the land, who in uprightness of their heart lent the greatest part of their estate upon public faith. The Romans were forced in like straits to borrow of the people; but it is recorded to their glory, that their wars were no sooner ended than these public deb(s were discharged. Let not paganish Rome rise np in the day of judgment to condemn unfaithful England. The neglect of this will involve the land in national guilt. I am persuaded, if the Lord help you to defray these debts, that you shall win the hearts of very many, and stop the mouths of your greatest adversaries.

"And now that I have taken upon me to speak, let not your highness be angry with your poor servant, if he implore your pity and candour, and petition for the safe return of Mr. Cawton, a sincere servant of Christ; who, being involved in the business for which Mr. Love suffered death, half a year since suffered a voluntary banishment in great extremity and hardship. May not the blood of Love suffer for that offence? Have not others in other kinds done as much and more, and yet found favour? I beseech your honour's protection, that the beginning of your government may be with acts of grace; and oh that such a day of

release might come that your highness might see it, both for your honour and safety, to proclaim liberty to the •captives, and the opening of the prison to them who have been long bound. The God of glory help you to lay such foundations in common equity and righteousness, that you may leave the nation in a better condition when you die than you found it: that you may give up your account with joy; which is the hearty prayer of,

"Your highnesses humble servant,

"Jer. Whitaker."

His Works.—1. Christ the Settlement of Unsettled Times, a Sermon preached before the Honourable House of Commons, at their late public Fast, 25 Jan. 1642, printed 1642.—2. The Christian's Hope Triumphing, in a Sermon preached before the Right Honourable the House of Lords, in Abbey-church, Westminster, May 18, being the Day appointed for solemn and public Humiliation, 1645. —3. The Danger of Greatnesse; or, Uzziah, his Exaltation and Destruction, a Sermon before the Lords and Commons in Parliament, and the Assembly of Divines, in the Church of St. Martin's in the Fields, January 14, 1645, being a special Day of Humiliation set apart to seek God's Direction in the settling of Church Government, 1646.