The Act of Uniformity stripped the English Church of many of its best and brightest. George Hammond’s life is a testimony to the intellectual talent of which the Church was deprived. Wouldn’t this be a great epitaph for any Gospel minister?
George Hammond, M. A. Of Exeter Col. Oxford. Born in 1620. He studied some time at Trinity College Dublin, where he was once met by Archbishop Usher, who condescended to enter into conversation with him, and was so well pleased with him that the next time he came to the college, though it was a good while afterwards, he enquired very particularly after Mr. Hammond, and expressed his apprehension that he would prove a considerable man. It was while he was at Oxford that he first became seriously attentive to the concerns of his soul; but whether he began his studies there or at Dublin is uncertain. He was sometime minister Totness, in Devon, where, just after he had been preaching with great seriousness, about patience and resignation to the will of God, he had occasion for the exercise of these graces himself, by the loss of a child, which was killed by falling out of the window of an upper chamber. It appears from Hutchins’s History, that he was not admitted to this living till 1660, and his successor, June 30, 1663. About the year 1677, he became minister to a large congregation of Dissenters, in Taunton, in conjunction with Mr. George Newton, His excellent qualifications induced some persons of rank, (particularly the Ladies Courtney and Constantine) to send their sons to board with him.
He was faithful and diligent in his work. His sermons were plain, solid and judicious; but for want of life in delivering them, they were not valued, by the common sort of hearers, according to their merit. He had an excellent faculty at clearing difficulties, and resolving cases of conscience. His discourses on private days of prayer and conference, on various texts of scripture, with little or no previous meditation, found general acceptance, and convinced the more understanding part of his auditors, of his solid judgment and great abilities. When the fears of Popery increased, after the Popish plot was stifled, and a sham Presbyterian plot was trumped up, he endeavored to arm his people against the attempts of seducers, and to prepare them for a day of trial. To this end, he went every Monday night to their houses, and read some part of Mr. Poole’s Dialogues against Popery; after which he farther explained the Popish tenets, and confuted them with great strength of argument, in a very plain and familiar style; frequently citing the very words of the most celebrated champions of the church of Rome by memory, to the admiration, satisfaction and advantage of those who frequented this exercise.
The persecution which preceded and the barbarous cruelties which followed Monmouth’s rebellion, drove him from Taunton to London; where he joined with Mr. Richard Steel, and succeeded him, after his death, as pastor of a congregation. He died October, 1705. He was an excellent scholar, a good critic, and mighty in the scriptures; of a clear head, a faithful memory, of eminent humility and meekness, of a very even temper, and a most peaceable healing spirit.
WORKS. A Discourse of family Worship; drawn up at the request of the London ministers.—And a Preface to Mr. Richard Saunders’s Discourse of Angels.—A Sermon in the last vol. of the Morning Exercise, on this question: How may private christians be most helpful to promote the entertainment of the Gospel? He also published an excellent sermon on the death of Mr. Richard Steel; entitled, A good minister of Jesus Christ. Mr. Charles Bulkley, in his Christian Minister, p. 113, speaks of it in these high terms: “It is a book written with the greatest plainness imaginable, of style and language, but yet with so much power of truth, and force of conviction, as have rendered it extremely entertaining, acceptable, and I hope useful to myself. And I venture to recommend it, not only to the perusal, but intimate familiarity of every minister. It would be worth his while to get it by heart.”