« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
thou findest fault with the court; or the palace; but that thou desirest longer to serve the commonwealth, to serve thy country, to serve God. He that set thee on work knows until what day, and what hour, thou shouldst be at it; he well knows how to direct his work. Should he leave thee there longer, perhaps, thoa wouldst spoil all. But, if he will pay thee liberally for thy labour, 'as much for half a day's work as for a whole; as much for having wrought till noon, as for having borne all the heat of the day; oughtest thou not so much the more to thank and praise him? But, if thou examine thine own conscience, thou lamentest not the cause of the widow and the orphan, which thou hast left depending in judgment; not the duty of a son, of a father, or of a friend, which thou pretendest thou wouldst perform; not the ambassage for the commonwealth, which thou wert ever ready to undertake; not the service thou desirest to do unto God, who knows much better how to serve himself of thee, than thou of thyself. It is thy houses and gardens thou lamentest, thy imperfect plots and purposes, and thy imperfect life; which, yet, no days, nor years, nor ages can make perfect, altbough thyself mightest do it in a moment, couldst thou but think in earnest, that where, or when it ends, it matters not, provided that it ends but well.
Now the only way to end this life well is to end it willingly, devoting ourselves, with an intire resignation, to the will of God, and not suffering ourselves to be constrained and drawn by the force of unavoidable destiny.
And, then, to end this life willingly, we must hope for death, not fear it.
To hope for death, we must certainly look, after this life, for a better.
To look for a better life, we must fear God; and he, that truly fears God, has nothing else, he ought to fear, in this world, and has reason to hope for all things in the world to come.
To one well resolved in these points death must needs be sweet and agreeable, knowing that, through it, he is to enter into the fulness of joy.
The bitterness we may find, by the straitness of the passage, will be allayed by the sweetness we shall find, when we are entered in ; our suffering of ill shall be swallowed up in the enjoyment of good ; and the sting of death itself, which is nothing but fear, shall be dead.
Nay, I will say more; he shall not only triumph over all those evils supposed to be in death, but he shall also scorn all those evils men fear to meet with in this life, and look upon them as uncon. cerned.
For what can he fear, whose death is his hope ? If you think to banish him from his country, he knows be bas à country, from whence you cannot banish him; and that all these countries are but inns, from which he must part in a little time. If to put him in a prison, he can have none more strait than his own body; nor any more filthy or dark, or more replete of racks and torments:
Or, if you think to kill him, you only then compleat his hopes; for death is what he desires. And, for the manner of it, be it by fire, by sword, by halter, or by ax; within three years, within three days, within three hours, it is all one to him; he matters not the time, nor minds the way, by which he passes from this niiserable life ; for his work is ended, his affairs dispatched, and by the selfsame way that he goes out, he hopes to enter into a most happy and everlasting life. Men can but threaten him with death, and death is all he promiseth himself ; the worst that they do, is but to make him die ; and death is the best thing, in his account, that he can hope for.
The threatenings of a tyrant, to him, are promises; the swords of his greatest enemies, against him, he reckons drawn in his favour; forasmuch as he knows, that, threatening him death, they threaten him life; and the most mortal wounds can make him but immortal.
The sum of all is, he, that fears God, fears not death; and he, that fears not death, fears not the worst of this life.
By this reckoning, perhaps, some men may say, death is a thing to be wished for: And to pass from so much evil, to so much good, a man would be ready to cast away his life, and make away himself.
In answer to this, we may take notice, first, that, though the spirit aspires towards heaven, the body draws towards the earth, and the soul is too often drawn by the body. But, in the second place; we must, indeed, seek to mortify our flesh in us, and to cast the world out of us; but to cast ourselves out of this world is, in no case, lawful.
The Christian ought willingly to depart out of this life, but not cowardly to run away. His work is to fight against the world, and he cannot leave his post, without reproach and infamy. But, if his great captain be pleased to call him, let him willingly obey: For he is not born for himself, but for God, of whom he holds his life at farm, as tenant at will, to yield him the profits. It is in the landlord to take it from him, not in him to surrender it, when a conceit takes him.
Diest thou young ? Praise God; as the mariner that hath a good wind, soon to bring
him to the port. Diest thou old ? Praise God likewise : For, if thou hast had less wind, it may be thou hast had less waves.
But think not, at thy pleasure, to go faster or slower, for the wind is not in thy power; and, instead of taking the shortest way to the haven, thou mayest suffer shipwreck.
Let us, then, neither fly from death, when we are called to die, whether it be in a more natural way, as by old age, or sickness; or, by a more violent way, as by the sword in battle, or by the hand of an executioner; nor fly to it, not being called: Which both argues the greatest baseness and pusillanimity of spirit, and will also bring the guilt of our own blood upon our own heads. But let us meet death, whenever, or however, it comes, with that magna
nimity and greatness of mind, that becomes both a man and a Christian.
And now having beguiled my solitary hours in contemplating the miseries of life, and happiness of death, to me so much the more necessary, by how much it is nearer approaching; I will conclude with a valediction to the world, and all its vain delights, written by a very great man, and prime minister of state, in the reign of Charles the First, whilst under my unhappy circumstances, and but a little before his execution.
Go empty joys, with all your noise,
And leave me here alone,
Your vain and fond delight,
Whilst too much sunshine blinds his sight:
Some other easy wight,
And cheat him with your flattering light :
Then snatch it from him in an hour:
Let him not fear all curbing laws,
And, climbing tow'rds it, tumble down.
Tower-hill, on Thursday, January the 28th, 1696-7. By Sir John FENWICK, Baronet.
SPEAKING nor writing was never my talent; I shall therefore give a short, but faithful account, first, of my religion; and next, what I suffer most innocently for, to avoid the calumnies I may reasonably expect my enemies will cast upon me, when dead, since they have most falsly and maliciously aspersed me, whilst under my misfortunes.
As for my religion, I was brought up in the church of England, as it is established by law, and have ever professed it; though, I confess, I have been an unworthy member of it, in not living up to the strict and excellent rules thereof, for which I take shame to myself
, and humbly ask forgiveness of God. I come now to die in that communion, trusting, as an humble and hearty penitent, to be received by the mercy of God, through the merits of Jesus Christ my saviour.
My religion taught me my loyalty, which, I bless God, is untainted: And I have ever endeavoured, in the station wherein I have been placed, to the utmost of my power, to support the crown of England, in the true and lineal course of descent, without intere ruption,
As for what I am now to die; I call Gud to witness, I went not to that meeting in Leadenball-street, with any such intention, as to invite king James by force to invade this nation; nor was l, myself, provided with either horse or arms, or engaged for any number of men, or gave particular consent for any such invasion, as is most falsly sworn against me.
I do also declare, in the presence of God, that I knew nothing of king James's coming to Calais, nor of any invasion intended from thence, till it was publickly known: And the only notion I had, that something might be attempted, was from the Thoulon fleet coming to Brest.
I also call God to witness, that I received the knowledge of what is contained in those papers that I gave to a great man that came to me in the Tower, both from letters and messages that came from France; and he told me, when I read them to him, “That the prince of Orange had been acquainted with most of those things before.'
I might have expected mercy from that prince, because I was instrumental in saving his life. For when, about April 1695, an attempt formed against him came to my knowledge, I did, partly by dissuasions, and partly by delays, prevent that design; which, I suppose, was the reason that the last villainous project was concealed from me.
If there be any persons whom I have injured in word or deed, I heartily pray their pardon, and beg of God to pardon those who have injured me, particularly those, who, with great zeal, have sought my life, and brought the guilt of my innocent blood upon this nation, no treason being proved upon me.
I return my most hearty thanks to those noble and worthy persons who gave me their assistance, by opposing this bill of attainder, without which it had been impossible I could have fallen under the sentence of death : God bless them and their posterity, though ! am fully satisfied they pleaded their own cause, while they defended mine.
I pray God to bless my true and lawful sovereign king Jantes, the queen, and the prince of Wales, and restore him and his posterity to this throne again, for the peace and prosperity of this nation, which is impossible to prosper, till the government is settled upon a right foot.
And now, O GOD, I do, with all humble devotion, commend my soul into thy hands, the great Maker and Preserver of men, and lover of souls, beseeching thee, that it may be always dear and precious in thy sight, through the merits of my Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF TRADE.
BY A RELATION OF THE DECEASED.
London ; printed in the Year 1698. Quarto, coutaining thirteen Pagęs.
A WORTHY old dame,
Mother Trade was her name, That had long lain in desperate state,
Perceiving at last
That all hopes were past, Contentedly bends to her fate.
And, since she is gone,
For the good deeds sh’has done, As 'tis common in such like cases,
We can sure do no less,
Than attend to her hearse,
There's her grand-daughter, Art,
Hath almost broke her heart, For the loss of so faithful a friend:
She sits in her cbair,
In the depth ot despair,
Industry, her sister,
When she left her, she kiss'd her, And bid her for ever adieu;
I must seek out a place,
Where to alter the case,
Her cousin, Invention,
Seems too, in declension,
Oh! What shall I do?
I have nought to pursue, Except it be forging of lyes.
But what is still worse,
'Twould make a man curse, Her landlord has seiz'd all she had;
He hath not allow'd
Her a coffin and shroud, Good people, i'nt this very sad?