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The Bishop of Clogher writes thus to Mr. Hamilton. Clogher, December, 1702.
Have with great Satisfaction perus'd your Ac66 count of Mr. Bonnell's Life and Character, and "his Meditations that are interfperfed, thro' which "there fhines a true Spirit of Chriftian Piety: And ec as I had the Happiness to be well acquainted with "him, and was confequently a juft Admirer of his
truly valuable good Qualities and Chriftian Virtues; of his exáraordinary Piety, his unaffected Hutr mility, and his unwearied Zeal for the promoting "Religion and Virtue; fo I do hope, and with Affu"rance promife my felf, that a faithful Account of "all these may do abundance of Good in the World, "holy Examples being undoubtedly the beft Arguments for Piety, and convincing Men much fooner "than any Sermons and Difcourfe.
"I do therefore heartily approve your Defign in "Publishing what you have communicated to me; and "that his good Example may influence many to an "Imitation of his holy Life and Converfation, is the "earnest Prayer of,
Your very Affectionate Brother,
And Humble Servant,
The Bishop of Downe and Connor gives the like Recommendation of Mr. Bonnell's Life, and " befeeches "God it may have the Effect which is propofed by "publishing it, to recover the true Spirit and Power "of Religion in this Age.
The Bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh in the Advertisement before the Sermon he preach'd at Mr. Bonnell's Funeral speaks thus of him.
"I can scarce think there is any serious unpreju"dic'd Perfon, that but in a tolerable degree knew "Mr. Bonnell, who muft not fay, if he be true to his "own Senfe of Things, that his Converfation was in "Heaven, in every (even the ftri&teft) Sense of the "Phrafe; he was truly a Citizen of the New Jerufa"lem; his Temper, his Difcourt fe, his whole Life, " and all his Actions, his way of converfing in the "World, and in a fort his very Meen bespoke him "fuch; a fweet and unaffected Contempt of this "World appear'd in all his Behaviour; as far as I "have been able to fee or learn, in all the Opportuni"ties he had to enrich himself, (which were not a
few) Money neither ftuck to his Fingers nor his "Heart; he lived in the midst of much Bufinefs with "a Mind full of Compofedness, with Affections free "from being intangled by Earthly Concernments, or "the fecret Witchcraft of feen and fublunary Goods.
"His Soul was above the Frowns of Great Ones, as "well as the Careffes of the common fort, faithful to "all in what was their true Intereft; his fingular Pru"dence and Dexterity in managing that great and ne
ceffary (tho' most difficult, and commonly unwel"come) Office of Reproof has been touch'd by ano"ther Hand, I will add thereto the mention of only "one other holy Art, which he was as great a Master "of as any I have known; let the Company wherein
he was be talking of what foever they happened to "fall on, he would, without Affectation, very natu ❝rally, and not ftraining any thing faid for a ConnexiF 3
on, bring about the Difcourfe to religious and profitable Subjects; I have admir'd his Facility and godly Simplicity herein, and I cannot forbear << recommending the Study of fuch edifying Conver"fation to all ferious Chriftians, especially in their "Lord's-Day-Table-Talk, and ordinary Vifits on "that Day, if they make any.
This excellent Perfon, of whom fo extraordinary a Character has been given by fo many pious and learned Bishops, was born the 14th of November 1653, being Son (by Rebecca, Daughter of Thomas Sayer, near Norwich, Efq;) to Samuel Bonnell, Merchant, who applied himself to the Italian Trade at Leghorn with fuch Succefs, that he was worth at leaft Ten Thousand Pounds; but his Estate was foon impair'd, partly by Loffes at Sea, and partly by his Zeal for the Royal Family, whom he privately fupplied in the Time of their Sufferings with confiderable Sums of Money; after their Restoration these Services, and his known Abilities, procur'd him a Patent to be Accomptant-General of the Revenue of Ireland, his Son's Life being included in the Patent with his own; but this he was not long poffefs'd of, for he dy'd while his Son, the foremention'd James Bonnell, was very young, leaving him to the Care of his Mother for his religious and virtuous Education, which was fo blefs'd by the Grace of God, that he fet out betimes in the Way to Heaven, profecuted his Journey with indefatigable Diligence, and perfever'd in it to the laft, not fuffering any earthly Riches, fenfual Pleafures, or fecular Honours, to divert him from it. The Hiftory of his Life may be read at large, as it has been written by Mr. Hamilton, with an impartial and uncommon Exactnefs. I fhall only give the Reader a fhort Tranfcript of fome of thofe remarkable Paffages in it which are most ferviceable to my prefent Purpose.
He remember'd his Creator in the Days of his Childhood. At Ten Years old he read Books of Devotion with great Delight. At Eleven he us'd to get up from his Bedfellows on Sunday Morning to fay the Prayers for that Day out of the Prattice of Piety. At Twelve he found it difficult to begin with God as that Book directs, and therefore he writ out the Words which are there propos'd to be faid and put them under his Pillow, to have them ready at waking. At length, by the intense reading of that, and other Books of Devotion, his Thoughts were fo taken up with the Things of another World, that he grew cool to all the Delights of this. At Fourteen Years of Age, being fit for the University, his Friends, thro' an over nice Solicitoufnefs about his Education, fent him to a private Philofophy-School in Oxfordshire, thinking that he would there be more out of the way of Temptations than in either of our famous Seats of Learning. But how much they were mistaken appears from Mr. Bonnell's Account of that private Seminary, where his Tutor (as he faith in one of his Papers) was too remifs in Matters of Morality and Religion, and his Affociates fuch, from whom he could not learn any part of Godliness, but on the contrary all Debauchery, fo that his Friends Care would have been herein deluded, had not the good Principles he before imbib'd kept him from the Contagion of thofe Examples, and made him abhor the confuming any part of his liberal Allowance in Luxury and Voluptuoufnefs. From this Place therefore (in which he found, as he himself us'd to say, all the Dangers and Vices of the Univerfity, without the Advantages) he remov'd to Catherine-Hall in Cambridge, where his Tutor was the learned Dr. Calamy, who, upon feveral Occafions, exprefs'd the Efteem he had for his Pupil, commending him to divers of his Friends for his Learning, Gravity, and Manliness, both in Difcourfe and Behaviour, but chiefly for his
Conftancy at religious Duties, being hardly ever known to mifs Prayers all the Time he continu'd at Cambridge. Here he purfu'd thofe Methods of Devotion he begun before, and for his better Progress in them he refolv'd upon keeping Weekly Fafting Days, which all his Life after he religiously observ'd, finding great Benefit by being fequeftred from the World, inur'd to Devotion, and accuftom'd to Acts of Mortification and Self-denial; and when fometimes his eager Pursuit of Learning would occafion a Thought to arife in his Mind, that a whole Day every Week was what he could not fpare from his Studies, with Indignation he would reject that Suggestion, as coming from his Spiritual Enemy.
My defign'd Brevity will not fuffer me to go thro' the feveral Stages of his Life after he left the Univerfity, either in the Family of Ralph Freeman of AfpedenHall in Hertfordshire, Efq; or in his Travels with his Eldest Son into Holland, Flanders, and France, or in the Discharge of his Office of Accomptant-General in Ireland, which Employment he took into his own Hands in the Year 1684, it having been fince his Father's Death until that Time manag'd by others for his Ufe. In this Place of much Bufinefs and great Truft he was fo remarkably diligent and faithful, fo dextrous in Difpatch, and fo ready to oblige, that he foon equally gain'd the Efteem of the Government, and the Love of all who were concern'd with him. But as Religion ever had the principal Sway in his Affections, fo a mighty Zeal for that, a Contempt of this World, and a Mind rais'd above its perishing Concerns, gave him ftrong Defires of quitting all fecular Employments, and dedicating himself entirely to the Service of God. Neither was it any worldly Confideration which fuggefted that Thought to him, for the Temporal Advantages of his Office were greater than what he could have expected in a long Time from any Ecclefiaftical Preferment, and his Sta