Gouge, Thomas

, son of the preceding, was born at Bow, Sept. 19, 1605, and was educated at Eton school, whence he was chosen to King’s college, Cambridge, in 1626. Here, after taking his degrees, he was chosen fellow of his college, and afterwards presented with a living at Colsden near Croydon, in Surrey, where he continued about three years. In 1638, he was removed to the living of St. Sepulchre’s, London, and the year after married one of the daughters of sir Robert Darcy. During a period of twenty-four years he discharged the duties of his profession with the most exemplary zeal. Besides preaching twice every Sunday, and often on week-days, he visited his flock, catechised their children, inquired into and relieved the wants of the poor, and devised plans for their employment. Such of the poor as were able to work, he employed in spinning flax and hemp, which he bought for the purpose, and paying them for their work, got it worked into cloth, which he sold, as well as he could, chiefly among his friends, bearing himself whatever loss was sustained. By this wise and humane scheme he diverted many from begging, and demonstrated to them, that by industry they might soon become independent of charity; and he thus is said to have given the hint which produced the humane and benevolent institutions of Mr. Firmin, which have been referred to in the memoir of that excellent citizen. When the act of uniformity took place, he quitted his living of St. Sepulchre’s, being dissatisfied respecting the terms of conformity; but after this he forbore preaching, saying there was no need of him in London, where there were so many worthy ministers, and that he thought he might do as much or more good another way, which could give no offence. Accordingly his time was now zealously devoted to acts of beneficence and charity. He employed his own fortune, which was considerable, in relieving the wants of his poorer brethren, who, on account of their nonconformity, were deprived of their means of subsistence; and he was a successful applicant to the rich, from whom he received large sums, which were applied to that humane purpose. In 1671, he set about a plan for | introducing knowledge and religion mto the different parts of Wales, which at that period were in the most deplorable darkness. He established schools in different towns where the poor were willing that their children should be taught the elements of learning, and he undertook to pay all the expences which were incurred in the outset of the business. By degrees these schools amounted to between three and four hundred, and they were all annually visited by Mr. Gouge, when he carefully inquired into the progress made by the young people, before whom he occasionally preached in a style adapted to their age and circumstances in life, for, being in his latter days better satisfied with the terms of conformity, he had a licence from some of the bishops to preach in Wales. With the assistance of his friends, whose purses were ever open at his command, he printed eight thousand copies of the Bible in the Welsh language; a thousand of these were distributed freely among those who could not afford to purchase them, and the rest were sent to the cities and chief towns in the principality, to be sold at reasonable rates. He procured likewise the English liturgy, the “Practice of Piety,” the “Whole Duty of Man,” the Church Catechism, and other practical pieces, to be printed in the Welsh language, and distributed among the poor. During the exercise of this benevolent disposition, he meddled nothing with the controversies of the times, and partook in no shape of the rancour of many of his ejected brethren against the church of England, with which he maintained communion to the last, and, as he told archbishop Tillotson, “thought himself obliged in conscience so to do.” He was accustomed to say with pleasure, “that he had two livings which he would not exchange for two of the greatest in England.” These were Wales, where he travelled every year to diffuse the principles of knowledge, piety, and charity: and Christ’s Hospital, where he catechised and instructed the children in the fundamental principles of religion. He died suddenly Oct. 29, 1681, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. His death was regarded as a public loss. A funeral sermon was preached on the occasion by Dr. Tillotson, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury; who, at the conclusion of an animated eulogium on his piety and virtue, observes, that “all things considered, there have not, since the primitive times of Christianity, been many among the sons of men, to whom that glorious character of the Son of | God might be better applied, that” he went about doing good.“And Mr. Baxter, in his Narrative of his own Life and Times, says of Mr. Gouge,I never heard any one person, of whatever rank, sort, or sect soever, speak one word to his dishonour, or name any fault that they charged on his life or doctrine; no, not the prelatists themselves, save only that he conformed not to their impositions; and that he did so much good with so much industry.“This eminent divine published a few practical pieces, of which the following may be mentioned” The Principles of Religion explained“A Word to Sinners“Christian Directions to walk with God“” The surest and safest Way of Thriving, viz. by Charity to the Poor;“”The Young Man’s Guide through the Wilderness of this World." These were collected in an 8vo volume in 1706, and published at London, with a fine portrait by Van der Gucht, and archbishop Tillotson’s Funeral Sermon and Life of him prefixed. 1

1 Life by Tillotson, ubi supra, —Calamy. Clarke’s Lives of Sundry Eminent Persons, 1783, folio.