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THOMAS JACOMB, D. D.-This excellent Divine was born in the year 1622, at Burton Lazars, near Melton Mowbray, in Leicestershire. After being trained up in grammar-learning, at the country schools, he was sent to Magdalen-Hall, Oxford, of which Dr. John Wilkinson, was then Principal. He was entered a commoner in Easter term, 1640, at eighteen years of age. Upon the breaking out of the civil wars, he removed to Emanuel College, Cambridge, and afterwards to Trinity College, where he was chosen Fellow, and took the degree of Master of Arts.* At the university, it has been observed, "he became a person of high repute for his good life, good learning, and excellent gravity, greatly beloved of the then Master, who loved an honest man, and a good scholar, with all his heart." +
Mr. Jacomb taking orders according to the Presbyterian way, retired to London in 1647, and was received into the family of that pious and excellent lady, the Countess Dowager of Exeter, daughter to the Earl of Bridgwater. He officiated as chaplain to this lady, and enjoyed her patronage for the space of forty years, their friendship being interrupted only by his own death. As he had an opportunity of preaching about the city, it was not long before he came into notice, and he became fixed in the parish of St. Martin's, Ludgate, where his ministry was both acceptable and useful." From this time to that of his silencing, (observes Mr. Wood,) he was a very zealous person for promoting the cause, and in very great esteem by those of his persuasion, for his piety, parts, prudence; sound, judicious, practical, spiritual, substantial preaching." About the same time, Mr. Jacomb became one of the assistants to the commissioners of London for the ejecting of scandalous, ignorant, and insufficient ministers and school
* Wood's Athenæ, vol. ii. p. 800.-Calamy's Account, p. 45,
SILVER-STREET -Presbyterian, Extinct,
masters.* By the thirty-seventh article in the instrument of government, it was enacted, "That all who professed faith in God by Jesus Christ, should be protected in their religion." This being interpreted to imply an agreement in fundamentals, a committee of Divines was appointed to draw up a catalogue of fundamentals, to be presented to the house. Mr. Jacomb was upon this committee, but does not appear to have taken any active part, the business being managed principally by Dr. Owen, and some other Independent Divines.† Our Divine was also one of the commissioners appointed by act of parliament, in 1659, to be approvers of ministers, according to the Presbyterian method, before they were admitted to church livings. But this, as well as many other transactions of the parliament, during the inter-regnum, was set aside at the Restoration.‡
Charles the Second being restored to the throne in the year 1660, the affairs of the church soon reverted to their former channel. The King, however, did not chuse to break with the Presbyterians at once; but endeavoured to lull them asleep by some specious acts in their favour. In the month of November, in the same year, a royal mandate was issued, directed to the Vice-chancellor and senate of the University of Cambridge, commanding them to confer the degree of Doctor of Divinity, upon Mr. Thomas Jacomb, and two other Presbyterian Divines. These were the celebrated Dr. William Bates, and Dr. Robert Wild. The royal letter speaks in terms of high commendation of their piety, learning, and loyalty.§ But these qualities were of little service to them afterwards, when the point of conformity came to be urged. Dr. Jacomb was one of the ministers who carried up the address of thanks to the throne, on the part of the Presbyterians, for his Majesty's declaration concerning ecclesiastical affairs, issued October 25, 1660.||
• Wood's Athenæ, ubi supra. ‡ Wood's Athenæ, ubi supra.
+ Neal's Puritans, vol. iv. p. 308. § Kennett's Chronicle, p. 30s. Ibid. p. 312.
He was also an assistant to the commissioners, on the side of the Presbyterians, at the Savoy conference, in March, 1661; and took a prominent part in drawing up the exceptions against the common-prayer.*
The court having sported a sufficient time with the Presbyterians, the bishops, who were determined to keep all the good things to themselves, at length prevailed with the King to remove the mask; and on the 19th of May, to the lasting infamy of the persons concerned in its enactment, the royal assent was given to the celebrated Act of Uniformity, to take place on the 24th of August following. By this act Dr. Jacomb was compelled to relinquish his living of St. Martin's, Ludgate, and to retire into privacy. Fortunately for him, his old friend and patron, the Countess of Exeter, was still living, and her house afforded him a safe and comfortable asylum. Her respect for the Doctor was peculiar, and the favours she conferred upon him extraordinary; for which he made the best return, by his constant care to promote religion in her family. But Dr. Jacomb did not consider this legal restraint to be a sufficient warrant for his laying aside the ministry. He, therefore, seized the opportunity afforded by the fire of London, when many churches were burnt, to resume his ministerial labours, for which he was several times brought into trouble. But the noble lady above-mentioned was a great protection to him from his enemies, as she was to many other faithful and excellent ministers, under their sufferings at this period. The King himself professing to be averse to persecution, intimated through his Secretary of State, Sir J. Barber, that it was his intention to give the Nonconformists some respite, by a declaration in their favour. An address was accordingly drawn up, and presented to his Majesty, at the Earl of Arlington's lodgings, by Dr. Jacomb, accompanied by Dr. Manton, and Dr. Bates. The King received them graci
* Kennett's Chronicle, p. 398, 505.
+ Dr. Bates's Sermon on the Death of Dr. Jacomb, p. 118.
ously; engaged to do his utmost for their liberty; but soon forgot his promises.* Upon the Indulgence, in 1672, Dr. Jacomb united himself in ministerial work with Dr. Lazarus Seaman, and they preached alternately to the congregation in Silver-street, till the death of the latter, when the learned Mr. John Howe, was chosen in his stead. Dr. Jacomb continued his pastoral connexion with this church till his death, which happened at the Countess of Exeter's house, in Little Britain, on the 27th of March, 1687, in the 66th year of his age.+
During his last sickness his pains were very severe, the cancerous humour having spread through his joints, and the tenderest membranes; but his patience was invincible, and a humble submission to the Divine pleasure, was the habitual frame of his soul. When an intimate friend first visited him, he said, "I am in the use of means, but I think my appointed time is come that I must die if my life might be serviceable to convert, or build up, one soul, I should be content to live; but if God hath no work for me to do, here I am, let him do with me as he pleaseth: but to be with Christ is best of all." At another time he told the same person, "That it was now visible it was a determined case; God would not hear the prayer, to bless the means of his recovery." He, therefore, desired his friend to be willing to resign him to God, saying, " It will not be long before we meet in heaven, never to part more, and then we shall be perfectly happy; then, neither your doubts and fears, nor my pains and sorrows shall follow us, nor our sins, which is best of all." After continuing long in a languishing condition, without any sensible alteration, he said to a person who inquired how he did, "I lie here, but get no ground for heaven or earth :" upon which one said, "Yes, in your preparations for heaven :"-" O yes," said he, "then 1 sen
Neal's Puritan's, vol. ii. p. 667.
+ Calamy's Account, p. 45. Contin. p. 85.
sibly get ground I bless God." Such was the divine mercy, he had no anxieties about his future state, but a comfortable assurance of the favour of God, and his title to the eternal inheritance. He had a substantial joy in the reflection upon his life spent in the faithful service of Christ, and the prospect of a blessed eternity ready to receive him. This made him long to be above. He said, with some regret, "Death flies from me, I make no haste to my father's house." But the wise and gracious God, having tried his faithful servant, at length, gave him the crown of life, which he hath promised to those that love him.* Dr. Jacomb was interred in the church of St. Anne, Aldersgate. The excellent Dr. Bates preached his funeral sermon from John xii. 26. This admirable discourse was afterwards printed, and contains some of the most striking specimens of solid eloquence, that is any where to be met with.
Dr. Jacomb's character is so well drawn by Dr. Bates, in the above discourse, that we shall present the reader with it in his own words. "He was a servant of Christ in the most peculiar and sacred relation: and he was true to his title, both in his doctrine and in his life. He was an excellent preacher of the gospel, and had a happy art of conveying saving truths into the minds of men. He did not entertain his hearers with curiosities, but with spiritual food: he dispensed the bread of life, whose vital sweetness and nourishing virtue is both productive and preservative of the life of souls. He preached Christ crucified, our only wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. His great design was to convince sinners of their absolute want of Christ, that with flaming affections they might come to him, and from his fullness receive divine grace. This is to water the tree at the root, whereby it becomes flourishing and fruitful; whereas the laying down of moral rules for the
*Dr. Bates's Sermon upon the Death of Dr. Jacomb, p. 123–126. VOL. III.