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 profit 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 us, 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 person 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 hast 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 he 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 more? 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 a being; 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 grace 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

own work in him; that he will guide him with his counsel, and and at length save and receive him to his rest. The same prayers I make for my nephew his son Stephen, that he may be a useful instrument for the promoting of God's glory, a diligent workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. O Lord my God, I pray not only for my brother, but for all those in France, to whom thou hast committed the conduct and rule of the churches: bless their persons; pardon their defects: sanctify their gifts: grant unto them, that they may seriously return unto the simplicity which is in Christ; and that they detract not from the glory of God, to ascribe unto man what belongs to his salvation; he is strong and jealous.

"If in my writings, I have seemed to deal a little warmly with some of my brethren about their new notions, I protest before God, I was never moved by envy or wrath against any one in particular, but on the contrary always accounted the men that favoured those novelties, among my friends; and the more I loved both their persons and gifts, the more it grieved me that I could not reconcile their maxims with the word of God. I do most earnestly beseech God, that he will give them the spirit of peace, that they may be of the same judgment, and speak the same things; and that the love of God may constrain them, and gather them into one in Christ; till we all come unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that following the truth in love, we may grow up into him, in all things, who is the head, even Christ.

"I would have thee without delay write unto thy father; he is my brother in a double bond, I have always esteemed, and loved him; he hath been a useful instrument for the glory of God, and I doubt not but he will thoroughly accomplish his work in him, to the glory of his own name, and his eternal salvation. go before him, in a little time he will follow after me: he is almost come to the end of his course, and there remains but a little time, before God will crown his labours with an eternal reward."


And here again in an extraordinary transport he brake out into these expressions: "O great and immense mercy! who can but be rapt into admiration! he gives both being, and wellbeing; he bestows his gifts, he supporteth, he pardoneth, he worketh in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure: and when himself hath given and wrought all this, yet he gives to us an eternal reward! amen, amen. Be it unto me ac

cording to thy word, even according to the faithfulness and stability of thy promises.

Then turning his discourse to his niece again; "Write also (said he) to thy, brethren, that I love them, and that I pray for their salvation. And thou, my dear niece! I love thee, not because of that near affinity which thou hast to me, but rather because we both have one God, and one hope. Thou knowest the love and affection which I have had for thee, which hath been a paternal love indeed, for a token of which, take thou the Bible which thou shalt find in my study. In special, I recommend to thee my wife, thy very good aunt: to thy power comfort and assist her: be unto her instead of a daughter, and help her to digest the sorrow she will have for my absence."

On Monday morning, January 2, he desired to arise out of his bed, that he might write those letters which he had made mention of in the night: and also that he might add something to the codicil, which was annexed to his will the evening before.

His strength was sufficient to admit the putting on of his clothes, and also his walking into his study; where he took the Bible designed for his neice, and gave it to her himself: and to Mr. Dauber, who was then with him, he gave an Arabic NewTestament, and laid by another book for Mr. Hulsius, and one for his brother Rivet, to be immediately sent unto him to Champuernon in France; unto whom (being returned into his chamber) he wrote this letter.

"My dear Brother!

"I now write my last to you, with a trembling and dying hand. After the preaching of a sermon on Christmas day in perfect health: it is now eight days since I have been afflicted with a stubborn constipation; and the expulsive faculty is wholly extinct in me. Wherefore I am determined by the grace of God to die with courage and constancy: by the obstinate continuance, and pains of my distemper, I am quite worn out; and the day of my dissolution draws near. My niece Mary Moulin shall write unto you an account of my last hours, and of that tranquillity of mind which God affords to me. I expect the coming of my son, to whom I may commit my nephews and affairs; he shall give you an account of all. Farewel my dearest brother! but keep me in remembrance the residue of thy life, who have loved thee and thine with a great charity; love mine again, as thou doest: I pray God to bless thee, and all thine. Once again farewel!” "Dated at Breda, Jan. 2, 1651."

« VorigeDoorgaan »