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could wish in an instructor and friend for his son: great sweetness of temper, joined with a sound and penetrating judgment; a sedate gravity to command respect, mixed with an easy cheerfulness to gain love; a happy way of explaining the difficulties of learning, having clear notions himself of what he undertook to make intelligible to his pupil; a noble genius, and lively fancy, tempered with discretion and prudence ; and what was more valuable than all these, great strictness of life, and an excellent talent at recommending piety to young persons, which is a peculiar art; few knowing how to clothe religion in its true dress, most making it rather a burthen than a pleasure to beginners, so as rather to frighten them from it, than engage them to love it.
This gentleman, Mr. Bonnell very happily instructed, making the most difficult parts of learning plain and easy to him; but his principal aim was, to give young Mr. Freeman right notions of religion and virtue ; which he not only endeavoured in his constant conversation with him, but for his use composed many pious meditations, with short reflections and advices upon the daily occurrences of life.
He continued in Mr. Freeman's family till Goes into the year 1678, and then went with his pupil with Mr. into Holland, and staid near a year in Sir Freeman. Leoline Jenkins's family at Nimeguen, very much to his satisfaction. From Nimeguen, he went in the ambassador's company through Flanders and Holland, and so returned for England. From that time he continued with his pupil till the year 1683, when Mr. Freeman was sent into France
and Italy. In 1684, Mr. Bonnell went into France, and met Mr. Freeman at Lyons; and in his company visited several parts of France: and so great was his tenderness and concern for Mr. Freeman, that he being taken dangerously ill of the small-pox at Tours, Mr. Bonnell constantly exposed himself to that distemper, though it was what he never had ; and upon his being able to use them, supplied him with many excellent meditations, and often joined with him in prayers and thanksgivings for his recovery.
By his prudent behaviour and ingenious conversation at Nimeguen, he procured Sir Leoline Jenkins's esteem and friendship, who, in his letters to Mr. Freeman's father, highly applauded Mr. Bonnell's conduct, and was ever ready to serve him with his interest at court, when his affairs required it. And, with respect to his pupil Mr. Freeman, as never man took truer pains to instruct and accomplish him, to improve him with knowledge, and adorn him with piety; so he continually reaped new satisfactions from the success of his labours : but chiefly the most delightful part of them, his endeavours to give Mr. Freeman a right sense of his duty to God, and fix the impressions of religion in his mind. They frequently joined together in prayer, and every day their devotions led the way to their studies; the Te Deum and some other Psalms being the first business of it. And though he kept Mr. Freeman close to these exercises, yet he managed them so, as that they might not prove uneasy to a youthful mind.
And to this day Mr. Freeman retains a most grateful sense of Mr. Bonnell's care of
him, and has owned in the kindest manner since his death : " That it was his prudent management and good instructions, which kept him from following many ill examples of great looseness and immorality; and hindered him from running into many mischiefs, he should hardly otherwise have avoided : that when he was absent from him, he constantly reminded him by letter, of his former good instructions; which had the greater impressions on him, as knowing they were meant in great kindness."
And, no doubt, Mr. Freeman always reflected with pleasure, on the advantages he enjoyed by Mr. Bonnell's conversation and example so many years ; and considered how invaluable a blessing that was, and what reason he had to praise God for it; since such an instructor, and so faithful a friend, might have preserved many men (had they been so happy as he was) from those fatal miscarriages which have ended in their ruin: and that, therefore, he lay under particular obligations to God, for so distinguishing a mark of his favour and goodness.
Were the generality of our gentry blessed with instructors of Mr. Bonnell's temper and piety; his gravity, prudence, and holy life; with those who are acquainted (as he was) with the methods of gentle conversation; who can dive into a young gentleman's
; genius, and rightly form his mind; we should soon see a happy change in their principles and lives : religion would have their first and principal regard ; ar it would be no part of their character, to be vicious or profane. Such ought to be enquired after for this noble trust, who are not narrow in their fortunes, nor servile in their natures, and have had a generous education themselves; such whose presence carries awe along with it, and whose lives are fit to be made patterns to their pupils. And when such excellent persons are found, they are to be treated in such a manner, as may bring both their persons and employments into esteem and credit; as may plainly shew, that they and their labours are highly prized and valued. By this means, the greatest trust in the commonwealth, and upon which most depends, would not be put (as it too often happens) into the worst hands; who, for want of right qualities, are neglected by those, whose business it is to secure them from contempt, and whose example influences others, till they lose all authority, even with those who are under their care, and consequently all capacity of doing them good. But with Mr. Bonnell, it was entirely otherwise ; he was every way qualified to gain esteem; his learning and prudence, his behaviour and manner of life, commanded just respect; his fortune secured him from all temptations to mean compliances, (for on that alone he could have subsisted) and the great severity of his life, exacted reverence from all he conversed with.
During Mr. Bonnell's stay in Mr. Freeman's family, he had frequent returns of sickness and pain; his constitution was tender, and easily injured : and I find, by the meditations he then composed, that his body was an uncomfortable companion to his mind; and that he was frequently disturbed in his religious course by bodily disorders. He complains with great passion of himself, for being sometimes uneasy under
a load of sickness, and wishing its removal with too much eagerness. One or two of these meditations, written in the year 1680, in the twenty-seventh year of his age, will give the reader a view of his happy progress in piety; and how bravely he encountered the difficulties he met with, from the world and himself; from a distempered body, and those other infirmities which all mankind feel, and are not to be entirely conquered while we are in this world.
Thus in one place he confesses his weakness to God, and prays for his help. “O my God! what shall I think of myself! What shall I say to thee ! What am I but a sinful discontented creature, whose obedience has at best been very imperfect! Thou hast long afflicted me with a lingering sickness, in the flower of my life; and hast added (because I have not duly improved by this) other chastisements besides, and which I hope have not wanted their effect upon my soul. Thou, Lord, art wise, and thy wisdom is deeply to be adored by us, which I humbly desire to do. But ah! Lord, had my wisdom been to choose my chastisement, I would have had less of a painful sickness, and more of such other afflictions as thou layest upon men; and this, not to please my flesh, but for the good of my soul; having found by so much experience, that this is not so proper to kill our sins, and turn our hearts to thee; not so mortifying to the pride or discontent of our minds; not so quickening to repentance, and other Christian graces, as the loss of estate, and displeasure of men; the falseness of friends, and injuries from others. True indeed, when once thou didst raise my sickness