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Thomas Goodwin

Thomas Goodwin.—This excellent servant of Christ was some years minister at South Weald in Essex, where he was much beloved, and eminently useful. He was a divine of puritan principles, and deeply concerned for the purity and spirituality of christian worship. Though he died young, he was a person of great learning, exemplary piety, and universal reputation. Mr. Bownd, who pi cached his funeral sermon, gives the following account of him: "He was an eminent light and pillar in the church where he lived. He gave evident proof that he was one in Christ, and is now blessed. He was a good and precious man, and well know n to be a minister of great worth, every way qualified for the work to which he was called. It was his desire from a youth to be a minister of the gospel; and, according to that desire, the Lord in due time called him to his service. To his quali

• Wood's Athcnac Oxoo. vol. ii. p. 144.—Echard's Hist, of Eojt Tol. ii. i). 827.

fications for the sacred office, his brethren in the county, with many others in more distant places, could give ample testimony.

He was a learned and a godly person, and it is difficult to say which of the two had the pre-eminence: they seemed to keep pace, and he was eminent in both. He was a great proficient in the study of divinity and in a knowledge of the holy scriptures. Like Ezra, he was a ready scribe in the law of the Lord; and, like Apollos, mighty in the scriptures. Though he was young, his attainments were very great; God gave unto him abundantly of his spirit. In prayer he had much of the spirit of devotion, and was filled with the breathings of the Holy Ghost. In preaching, he was very powerful, and spoke directly to the hearts of his hearers. In his life, he was most exemplary, both as a christian and a minister. His preaching was admired by the godly and the learned, yet persons of the meanest capacity could understand him. He had such a winning method, that his sermons were never tedious, but the attention of his hearers seemed to be chained to his lips. He took great pains in his ministry, and was frequently engaged in preaching, in which he took great delight. The love of Christ, and die souls of the people, made frequent preaching his recreation and his pleasure.

This faithful minister of Christ was very zealous in promoting a further reformation of the church. The zeal of God's house did even eat him up. In the cause of God he manifested undaunted courage, and laboured vigorously to promote the Redeemer's kingdom and glory, whatever oppositions were in the way. One might stand upon his grave and say, " Here lies one who never feared the face of any man." He was never proudly puffed up with his rare endowments; but, in the whole of his conversation, he discovered a happy degree of humility and holiness. He lived free from worldly incumbrances, but full of cares for God's glory and the salvation of his people. He was deeply concerned for persons in sickness and death. He used to tell me, says our author, how sadly it affected his heart when any one was sick, or taken away by death, and he, the pastor, have no knowledge of his condition. He naturally cared for the souls of the people; and he sought not his own things, but the things of Jesus Christ. He was a minister of the gospel, and he endeavoured to fulfil his ministry. He made his work his business, and " studied to approve himself unto God a workman that needed not to be ashamed."

As this righteous man lived, so he died, and his end was happy. During the sickness of which he died, I visited him, says Mr, Bownd, and having recommended submission to the will of God under all his dispensations, he readily concurred, and added, " But my desire is to reach further, and not only to submit, which an ordinary christian may do, but to raise up myself to courage and cheerfulness under the rod. Blessed be God, that hitherto I can date his choicest mercies from some great affliction." Having exhorted him to the lively exercise of faith, that he might be able to quench the fiery darts of the devil, he replied, " 1 bless God, that Satan hath, as yet, got no ground by this affliction." Coming to him on another occasion, and finding him greatly reduced, he said, " Dear friend, two days smce I overheard the doctor speaking to my wife, as if he feared me; and I bless God who so ordered it that I should hear him. For, indeed, till then, I did not so seriously consider of death, as I have done since. I did all along in my sickness set my heart to labour for a sanctified use of the Lord's hand; but, overhearing that, I thought it needful to look most carefully into my heart as to evidences for eternity; and truly, upon a thorough search of my heart, I bless God, 1 find good old evidences, though I be but a young man, and they stick very close to me. But, friend," said he, "one thing I must tell you, which troubles and afflicts my spirit very much, that when I grew very serious, being exercised about serious work, the searching of my heart for eternity-evidences, I perceived this seriousness of mine was judged by some to be melancholy, for fear of death. Now this, indeed, troubles me very much, that any should take me to be such a one who am afraid to die."

I afterwards called upon him, says his pious biographer, and told him that his friends were about to meet together to offer up prayer to God for him; when, after pausing a little, he broke out in most affectionate expressions of the sense he had of his people's love to him, and how greatly he loved them, saying, " Oh my poor people! Oh the souls of my poor people! How dear, how precious are they to me! Oh, if God should spare me, how would I lay out myself for them!" He then wished me to commend him to his people, and tell them, that which he desired them to beg of God was a clearer sense of his love, saying, " Not that I altogether want it; for, I bless God, I have it ;"• but could say no more.

The next time I called upon him, continues Mr. Bownd, I heard from his mouth a most precious and powerful discourse concerning the sweetness and fulness of Christ. He spoke just as if he had been preaching from the pulpit. I could not help wondering to hear him deliver a discourse so clear and methodical, quoting the scriptures, and not failing in the sense, almost without faultering. He very impressively rehearsed .those words, " All tilings are yours, whether Paid or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things;" when he .could proceed no further, but afterwards added, " because ye are Christ's." He afterwards said, "Well, it is a sweet thing when he that speaks of Christ hath Christ dwelling in him, at the time when he speaks;" and then gave up the ghost. He died in the prime of life, and in the midst of bis usefulness, September 4, 1658 ;* but whe,tjier he was any relation to the celebrated Dr. Thomas Goodwin, or to Mr. John Goodwin, both of whom lived at the same time, we have not been able to learn.