[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


[Concluded from page 504.] That Saturday, December 31, he was mightily enfeebled, and sometimes very drowsy: he spake but little that forenoon. After noon when divers friends visited him, and were discoursing among themselves of the nature of his disease, he heard all that passed between them in the chamber (for he was very quick of hearing) and gathered both from their discourses, and also from his own knowledge of the disease he laboured under, that his distemper was that which physicians call miserere mei, which he was not likely to pass through without very grievous symptoms: such as, a burning fever, delirium, and vomiting of his excrements: and thereupon he began to be afflicted with much solicitude, while his mind was intent upon the thoughts of the grievousness of these symptoms: and in frequent ejaculations he sent up short and ardent prayers to God about it.

“ My God (said he) have mercy upon me; deliver me from the opprobrium which I fear; for thou art gracious: but thanks be to my God, that he hath afflicted me in this more ignoble part; my heart in the mean time remaining strong, and my brain free and clear, so that I might have liberty to meditate upon thy power and goodness. This favour, O Lord God, (which is invaluable) reserve for me, that my mouth may utter nothing but what breathes forth charity, praises, and thanksgivings: O that it may not be defiled with this filthiness: (namely, the casting up of excrements.) Let this building be brought down where its ruin VOL. II.

3 X

began, which let me behold as one set on high with a constant and peaceful mind, even a mind elevated to spiritual things, which with all earnestness I follow after; knowing that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither can corruption inherit incorruption.”

And in the ensuing night he did often inculcate, “ who is mortal man, that thou shouldst so magnify him, and think upon him! he is like to vanity: flesh, and a wind that passeth away. With how small a thing are the strongest among men cast down? by vile excrement, by a little obstruction, which no remedies can open! Thou hast done this, O thou eternal One; thus it pleaseth thee; and I would have it so too: let it be done to me according to thy word: I am in thy fatherly and gracious hands, I fear nothing; thou art my safeguard, and my exceeding great reward. Then he repeated in the Hebrew tongue that sentence out of Lament. iii. 24. Thou art my portion, saith my soul.

And seeing those, that stood by him, were always speaking to him of good things, “ Well done, (said he) cease not to strengthen me; unto that end God will supply you with matter for discourse, for he is not only present with the sick himself for his aid, but also with them that are called to succour him; for he is nigh unto all that call upon him in truth."

Then he again poured forth his prayers for the church of God, saying, “ O Lord, it is thy possession, which thou hast purchased with thine own blood: forsake not thine own work; let a holy jealousy be kindled in thee, lift up on high the arm of thy power, and bring down the audacious ones, which tyrannize over thy flock; rebuke thou the negligent, that heal her wounds slightly: reduce into the way those that wander; and strengthen that which is ready to fall, through division. Gather both the one and the other to thyself into one body, building them upon the foundation of the prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord.” And then making a little pause, he added, “ I have been one of those builders; I have brought what I received from the Lord, that I might put to my helping hand with others towards the building of this temple; and I myself shall be a living stone in this spiritual house."

On the next day, which was the first of the year 1651, and the Lord's-day, when he first beheld the light, he said, “ O Lord, thou hast granted unto me to see the beginning of the year: thon hast measured out my time unto the middle of this age :" then he asked what hour of the day it was, and what weather? when it

was answered, that the weather was very sharp and severe, he was afraid it might hinder his son's journey to him : whereupon he addressed himself to God after this manner.

“O my God, bring my son unto me, that I may see him, embrace him, and bless him before I die.” Then turning to his wife, he said; “ Dost thou think this earnest desire to see him proceeds from some carnal affection? nothing less! truly I love no man any more according to the flesh: I earnestly desire his eternal salvation; and I hope to have those discourses with him, which may increase his zeal in adorning his spiritual vocation (his son was a minister): I have yet spirit, and utterance sufficient for that work. Let none be hindered from coming to me: it is usual for a man in my station, by admonishing others, publicly to make confession of his own faith. Not for the sake of a little vain glory, O Lord, thou knowest : for it little concerns me to be approved unto men, provided I may approve myself unto God: but I desire the salvation of many, and to give testimony to the truth of those things which I have publicly taught.”

This day also was taken up with the visits of friends; and amongst others that came, there was colonel Verneuil, and some more. officers in the garrison, of which two or three were of Poictou; unto whom he said, “ I rejoice that I have opportunity to make a confession of my faith before you that are my countrymen; and I pray you to keep it in memory, and give testimony of it where it shall be necessary: for you see before your eyes a man (weak indeed, but) without guile, who solemnly protesteth, that he hath never published in his writings, nor taught with his lips, any thing that did not agree with the sense of his heart, and the doctrine which hath been delivered to us by the prophets and apostles; which is the same with that which is found in the confession of faith of our churches, in which I have lived, and in which I purpose to die. The Lord God Almighty confirm you in that faith, so that nothing move you from it: for what will it firofit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? seek ye first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, and then all other things shall be added to you. Learn to number your days: and get a wise heart. Look upon me, and let me be an example unto you: it is but eight days since I preached to you of man's frailty, being myself in health, and lively at that time, and now you see the truth of what I said, in myself: certainly what is visible to liș, and set before our eyes, hath a more persuasive power, than words which only beat the ears." And then taking his leave of them, he added, “ The Lord deliver you from the allurements of the world, and give you an increase of his fear,

and of all spiritual and temporal gifts." Awhile after there came to him the worthy Snellen, burgomaster of Breda, unto whom he cheerfully gave an account of the nature of his disease, with the causes and consequence thereof; and then said, “ Praise be to God who hath given me to know the end of my life: I should be the most ungrateful of all men, if I were not contented with that measure and term of life, which he hath afforded me; and if I should not acknowledge his great goodness, and provident care of me in the whole course of my life. Especially I give him thanks for laying out this place for me to pass my old age in, amongst good men, with whose kindness I have been refreshed, and to whom, for their multiplied favours towards me, I can never make a sufficient return of thanks. Of your sincere affection (most worthy sir) in a special manner I have had experience, for which I give you my hearty thanks, and in your persoa to your whole corporation, which I beseech you to signify to them; and to intreat for me, that they will give me a place of burial large enough for me, and my wife who will quickly follow me.” When he had thus expressed himself, he dismissed him with prayers for the welfare of him and his family.

Afterwards as one in a rapture, he said, “ My God! thou liast drawn me, and I was drawn! thou hast known me from my mother's womb, with a merciful and efficacious knowledge: thou hast called me by name : thou hast bored mine ears, and I was attentive : I have declared thy message in the congregation, and thy word was sweeter than honey in my mouth. Who am I! O God, but dust and ashes, an earthen and a frail vessel, into which notwithstanding thou hast been pleased to pour a holy liquor, and seed of immortality. Thou livest, and thou makest me to live; I shall not die, but live for ever, with that life which is hid with Christ in God. Blessed and holy is ke which hath a part in the first resurrection: over him the second death shall have no power. Behold I am dead; and also raised from the dead: I live not in myself, but in the life of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. What should I mention inore? I can make no return of thy faithfulness to me, or of the benefits thou hast bestowed on me. Thou hadst chosen me, before thou gavest me apeing; and it pleased thee that I should be born of believing parents, and especially of a mother eminent in holiness, who dedicated me to thy service from my tender years. With how many prayers did she stir me up to that holy purpose with what care and affection did she instil the seeds of piety into me! and the almighty God, who worketh all in all, gave his blessing to this diligent nurture, and heard her ardent prayers; and my ministry

hath been accepted of him. I am thy servant, O my God, thou hast taught me from my youth; and I have taught thy wonderful works, and thy gracé unto this day; for thy gifts have not been without fruit in me. Thou usest weak instruments for the accomplishing of thy work: thou hast pardoned, thou hast helped me; thou hast accepted the truth and sincerity of my heart: and now, O my God, seeing it is evident thou wilt have me retire from this valley of miseries, do not thou forsake me in this last and important act. If it be thy will, that I die; that is also my will: I am ready, my heart is prepared: I give thee my heart, for that is it which thou requirest; let this gift be approved by thee; receive this gift, which is thine own, from him to whom thou hast, given all things, who gives himself to thee. O Lord, I give thee thanks; thou instructest me, thou enlightenest me, thou talkest with my soul: O Lord, thou embracest me in the arms of thy mercy! grant also that I may embrace thee by a lively faith, and that I may apply unto myself the promises of the gospel, which I have proposed unto others. Let them be effectual in me, that by them I may be supported against all pains, yea death itself.” Then turning his speech to his niece, he said: “ That I

may not tire thee with long discourses, admire thou the grace of God towards me, and bless him who fortifies me with patience. Observe my' words unto my last breath, and commit them to writing as fully as thou canst, that thereby my dearest brother, with others of my near kindred and affinity, as also of my friends, may be comforted and refreshed:” to which when she returned answer; that she was unable to retain, and commit to writing, such an abundance of holy speeches as flowed from him, he replied; “ Fear not; only do thine endeavour, and God will help thee. If God give me strength; I will write a short epistle, which shall be for a testimony that credit is to be given to thy relation." (And he was always wont upon the mention of any thing of this nature, to add,)“ Not that I would hereby procure praise to myself; but I would have it known unto all, that the religion which I have professed, and taught in the name of God, is the true religion, and that alone which leads men unto salvation: and particularly, I would have my brother informed of that inestimable grace which I have received of God, that he may be abundantly comforted and strengthened in his expectation of a better life, which I already enjoy. O with how great love have I loved him, and esteemed him! yea I have loved the gifts of God in him, and shall love them to the last. I pray God who is the giver of every good gift, that he will fulfil, strengthen, and make perfect his

« VorigeDoorgaan »