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A SKETCIL OF THE LIFE OF THE REV. JOSEPH BEAN, THE THIRD
PASTOR OF THE CHURCH IN WRENTHAM.
MR. BEAN was born in Bos. became seriously disposed, and ton, February 24th, 1718, old invited him to join with them in style. His pious Parents devo. holding a private religious meet. ted him to God according to his ing on Sabbath evenings, with own institution, and brought which he complied. In consehim up in the nature and admo. quence of what he heard and nition of the Lord. But not. saw in these meetings, and of withstanding these religious ad. what he read concerning some vantages, the native corruption young persons, who lived a pi. of his heart led him to spend his ous life and died a triumphant childhood in vanity. No seri. death, he became convinced of ous impressions appear to have the reality and importance of re. been made upon his mind until ligion, and began a constant he was twelve or thirteen years course of religious duties. A. old. About that time, the Spir. greeably to his father's will, he it of God strove with him, and now went to Boston to learn a turned his attention in some trade, being fully resolved to measure to religious objects, and keep out of the way of tempta. to religious exercises. He soon, tions, and attend to the concerns however, stifled his convictions, of his soul. He prayed to God and fell into great stupidity and morning and evening, and read hardness of heart. While he the holy scriptures, or some de. was in this state of mind, he re- votional book, almost every moved with his Parents from night. He meditated upon Boston to Cambridge, where he spiritual things, while pursu. was sent to school ; but he was ing his daily employment, and. so idle and inattentive to learn. kept a kind of Diary of his life, ipg, that his father found it and really thought he had come proper to take him from school, munion with God. Very soon and under his own instruction, he became acquainted with some When he was about fifteen years young mea in Boston, who for. of age, some of his companions med a high idea of his religious
Vol. II. New Series.
character, and spoke of him as at that time he became the subject an eminent christian ; which he of pungent convictions, which says he found excited in his heart never left him till they issued in a a pharisaical pride. But after sound conversion. For a numa while, becoming acquainted ber of months, he was extremely with other young people and as. distressed. He read, he prayed, sociating with them, he thought he attended religious meetings of that this precise way of living, all kinds, followed the most zeal. as they called it, would not do, ous and powerful preachers, and and he gradually neglected to conversed with his own minis. go to private meetings, and to ter, but only perceived more and keep a Diary, and became negli. more the corruption and obsti. gent as well as formal in all se, nacy of his heart. Sometimes he cret duties, though he still was upon the very point of des. ponctually attended the public pair, and ready to give up bim. worship of God in his house. As self for lost. But at length, he thus gradually lost a sense of God was pleased to shed abroad God and divine things, the world his love in his heart, remove his and things of the world gained hcavy burden, and put a new his supreme regard and attention; song of praisc into his mouth. so that when he came out of his The love of God now constrain. apprenticeship, and set up for ed him to give up himself to his himself in Cambridge, he was service, without reserve. Ac. greedily engaged to accumulate cordingly he says in his Diaproperty, and felt greatly cha. ry for June 26th, 1741. “This grined, whenever his business did day I do most seriously and sol. not prosper according to his de. emnly set apart for the service sires and expectations. But of God and of my own soul, by though he resolved to get the reading, and praying, and giving world, and neglect religion, up myself to God, to be ruled as yet he was soon awakened out well as saved by him ; and would of his carnal security. Towards now, upon my knees, humbly the fall of the year 1741, he beg that he would be with and heard Mr. WHITEFIELD preach direct me, in this most solemn several times, who alarmed his transaction, and give me to con. conseience, and drew tears from sider, that I am not covenanting his eyes. About the same time he with man, but with the great was sensibly affected by several and holy God, who canoot be solemn and searching discourses deceived, and will not be mockof Mr. TENNENT. But a sermon, ed." The form of the covenant which Mr. APPLETON preached which he used on this occasion, upon these words, "6 They that he transcribed from a book of be whole need not a physician, Mr. Allen's. The next impor. but they that are sick,” made the tant duty, which he felt himself deepest and most abiding im. under peculiar obligation to per. pressions upon his mind. By form, was that of making a pub. means of such discourses, in con. fic profession of religion before nexion with the great and general the world. But he did not pre. attention to religion, which pre. sume to do this, without much vailed among both young and old, serious considera tion, and critical examination of his own heart. grace, praying that God would “ After many prayers and tears, make what he had said a mean of and after a great deal of time his and of their spiritual benefit. spent in consulting the word of But while he felt and expressed God and other books about his so much concern for the salvation duty to come up to the sacra. of others, he did not neglect the ment of the Lord's supper,” he care of his own soul. He watch. went to his minister and desired ed over and kept his heart with to be propounded to join the all diligence, with a peculiar church, and accordingly, he was tenderness of conscience, being propounded the next Sabbath, afraid of the least deviation from and the Sabbath after, July 12, the law of love, either in thought, 1741, he was admitted to full word, or deed. He used to communion. Though he went spend a great deal of time in to the house of God that day reading the Bible and other with a trembling heart, yet when books, in order to try the sin. he was called to present himself cerity of his heart; and he would for admission, and the covenant often, after reading the Bible, or was read to him, he enjoyed pc. any pious book, hold it in his culiar light, and felt his heart hand, and fall upon his knees, correspond with every word as praying that God would search it was pronounced. He returned his heart, and enable him to comhome in a happy frame of mind, pare it with the works of grace, and confirmed in private, his sol. and draw a just conclusion, emn obligations which he had whether he was a true christian, made in public, by entering into or a deluded hypocrite. a covenant, which he wrote and Mr. Bean had a slender consti. signed with his own hand, in the tution, which subjected him to a presence of the great Searcher variety of bodily infirmities, and of hearts.
especially to a frequent pain in Haring bound himself by such his head, which disabled him for solemn ties to serve the Lord, every duty, and often threw he set himself to do every thing him into a gloomy and melan. in his power, to promote relig. choly state of mind. Hence jon and the spritual good of him. he was much engaged in a spir. self and others. He united with itual warfare with the enemy of a religious Society of young men, souls, and the remaining corrupwho met once a week for social tions of his own heart. prayer and mutual edification. Though he had seasons of great He seized every proper opportu. light, and ravishing joys; yet he nity of conversing with people, was more frequently tried with and especially with young per darkness, despondency, and the sons, about their spiritual con. fiery darts of the wicked one. cerns. And he made it his com. But he renewed his strength mon practice, after he had con. from time to time, and increased versed with any concerning the in zeal and activity to promote state of their souls, to retire the cause of religion and the good immediately, or as soon as pos. of souls. It was his long and sible, and carry his conduct serious inquiry, whether he and their state to the throne of ought to relinquish his secular
calling, and prepare himself for and received the honors of Cam. the work of the ministry. Har bridge College. He was then ing come to a fixed resolution at no loss about his profession, to qualify himself for the service and very soon obtained approba. of God in the sanctuary, he de. tion to preach the gospel, which voutly implored the divine pres. he had so long and so ardent. ence and assistance in the great ly desired. After he had preach, undertaking. In his Diary for, ed about two years as a candi. December 6th, 1742, he writes date in various places, the thus : 66 This day I arose from church of Christ in Wrentham my bed before day light, and I invited him to settle with them in hope earnestly and sincerely the work of the ministry, which wrestled with God upon the invitation he thought it his duty bended knees of my soul, for his to accept, and was solemoly set presence with me, and more par. apart to the service of the Lord, ticularly because I was going to on the 24th day of November, change my condition as a 1750. tradesman for that of a scholar; As Mr. Bean had been so in order, if it please God, to be long in the school of Christ, and a minister of the everlasting gos. taken so much pains to qualify pel, which is a business my heart himself for the service of the and soul is more set upon, than sanctuary, it is natural to ex. any thing else in the world.” pect, that he would prove an em. He wrote again in a similar man. inently pious and faithful minis. per upon the same subject. ter. And it appears from the “Lord, thou knowest what is in whole tenor of his life, as record. my heart; yea, thou perfectly ed day by day with his own knowest what views, ends, and hand, that he did magnify aims I have in learning. Lord, his office, and adorn his min. is it not for thy glory? Is it isterial character, and exhibit an not that I may be a minister of example, which is worthy of uni. the gospel? Is it not that I may versal imitation. be an instrument in thy hands of Though he was subject to ma. bringing home poor, lost, stray. ny bodily pains and nervous jog souls to Christ? Therefore, complaints ; yet he performed O my God, be pleased to aid and much more ministerial labor, assist me in my studies." Though than many who enjoy perfect he found, as he says, the languag. health, and constant vigor of es to be a dry and unpleasant mind. He never used any other study at his period of life, yet than beaten oil in the sanctuary. he resolved to persevere in pre. He thought it his duty to pay paring himself for the work, great attention to his prepara. which he viewed as the most im. tions for the Sabbath, and would portant, that he could perform not allow himself to deliver any for the honor of God, and the wupremeditated and unwritten good of mankind. In answer discourses. This, however, was but to his prayers, God graciously a small part of his weekly labor, preserved his natural, and sup- for he often spent five days out ported his spiritual life, until he of six, in preaching private lec. had finished his public education, tures, catechising children, visit: ing the sick, and attending fune. to improve his private conversa. rals. But notwithstanding such tion to their spiritual benefit, numerous calls to parochial du. and pever omitted any proper ties in his large and extensive opportunity to inquire into the parish, he found time to improve state of their minds, and to comhis mind, by reading upon all fort,counsel, or admonish them, as subjects proper to his profession. their cases seemed to demand. And He did not neglect to read the if no opportunity for religious various systems of theology and discourse occurred, or if the time the best ecclesiastical histories, was spent in unprofitable conver. though he had a greater taste for sation, he returned home with a practical and devotional writ. heavy heart, and spread the case ings. These he esteemed next before God in secret. In preto the holy Scriptures, which he paring as well as in delivering devoutly and constantly perused. his discourses, he sought to please Besides reading the Bible every God, rather than man. He not day in his family, and besides only asked for divine direction reading particular chapters and in the choice of his subjects, but parts of chapters, every wrote his sermons in a praying morning and night in his secret frame, lifting up his heart to devotions, he labored to become God for continual assistance. mighty in the Scriptures, by And as soon as he had finished a reading the whole sacred volume discourse, he made a constant through, in a connected and crit. practice to take it in his hand, ical manner : and he found so fall down upon his knees, and much pleasure and profit in read. devoutly pray, that God would ing the word of God in this man prepare his heart to deliver it, ner, that he pursued it with yo. and the hearts of his people to common constancy and diligence; receive the truth in love. Ile so that, in one instance, he read was strictly Calvinistic in his all the Old and New Testament, sentiments, and preached the pe. in the short space of four culiar doctrines of the gospel in months.
a plain, practical, and experimen. He was no less faithful, than tal manner. Ile studiously avoid. industrious, in his sacred office. ed all affectation, in the mode of He gave himself wholly to his his writing and of his speaking, work, and never suffered any of and delivered divine truths, with his personal or domestic con. that tenderness and solemnity, cerns to divert him from a punc. which was suited to gain the tual discharge of his ministerial conscience, rather than the ap. duties. The good of souls secm. plause of his hearers. ed to absorb his whole attention, Mr. Bean lived as seeing Him and to have a governing influ. who is invisible, and kept his ence upon all his conduct. He mind habitually fixed upon God carried his people upon his heart, and divine things, at home and and took a deep interest in their abroad, in the house and by the peace and prosperity, as well as way. Whenever he rode out to in their trials and aflictions. As visit the sick, or to attend fune. he often visited them at their prin rals, or to preach lectures, or to vate houses, so he was solicitous catechise children, he rode in a