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granted me, but my business was put off till the next term. Which gave me no trouble at all; for I find that all along my mind was in a most happy temper, full of good thoughts and earnest desires that God would assist me to manage it with a meek charitable spirit, without the least hatred to any man whatsoever.
After this followed the great turn of things at Bartholomew Day 1662, before which all that had benefices were to conform to the new Book of Common Prayer, which I procured and read, and expressed my assent and consent to the use of it.
On the 4th of September I was very much surprised at a message I received by a gentleman belonging to the Earl of Bedford, who told me he came from the Earl, to offer the benefice of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, now void by Dr. Manton's refusal to conform. I had never seen the Earl, nor any of his family, and therefore was the more amazed at the offer of such a kindness, which I thankfully acknowledged, and desired a little time to consider of it, which being allowed, I was in great doubt what to do, but at last resolved to accept it, because I had not sought it, nor thought of it, but it seemed to come to me from God. On the 22nd of October I was summoned to appear before some commissioners, whom the King appointed to hear our (the Cambridge) business. I was advised by some hot persons not to go. But both I and the Fellows who chose me appeared before the Lord Chancellor, the Bishops of London, Winchester, Ely, and others, whose names I have forgot, where I was thought to speak very pertinently in my own behalf. The Chancellor said, “Well then, he is legally chosen ; but will he yield nothing to the King ?" I humbly told him I had nothing to yield, but if they pleased to put me in possession of that to which they acknowledged I had a right, they should see what I would do. Upon which he was angry, and bade all our names be taken and set down in writing, that we might be noted as a company of factious fellows ; and then bid us withdraw ; and we heard no more of this commission, by which we were heard, and nothing determined.
On the 10th I was told that my counsel was taken off ; and when I went to him to know the truth, he freely confessed he had received instructions to meddle no more in my business, which was moved again by another person on the 27th of November, in Westminster Hall. But after a long attendance there, for two years, or more, I found it was to no purpose ; for the judges were divided ; two being of opinion that the mandamus did lie, and I ought to be admitted, the other two were against it ; so that it was to be an Exchequer case before the judges, who it is likely would have been equally divided. Therefore I let it fall, being settled in a better place, wherein I hope I did more good than I should have done there. I had much business indeed, but found time to follow my studies, and in the year 1663 wrote a book called “The Parable of the Pilgrim,” which was published the next year, at the end of which was a very hard frost, which lasted from Christmas till near the middle of April in the year 1665, when the plague began to break out, a little after the breaking of the frost.
After a short visit which I paid to my father and mother, I returned to London in July, where I found the plague already broke out in my parish, notwithstanding which, 1 resolved to commit myself to the care of God in the discharge of my duty, and accordingly preached July the 23rd, when I had many heavenly meditations in my mind, and found the pleasure wherewith they filled the soul was far beyond all the pleasures of the flesh. Nor could I fancy anything that would last so long, nor give me such joy and delight, as those thoughts which I had of the other world, and the taste which God vouchsafed me of it. Which made me pray, “Lord, evermore indulge to thy poor servant these favours!”. And accordingly, blessed be God, I found myself mightily supported and assisted in doing my duty cheerfully.
On the 9th I set myself to consider the great goodness of God to me since this plague, and how many dangers I had been in, by people coming to speak to me out of infected houses, and by my going to those houses to give them money, which was sent me by charitable persons to distribute to those in need. Particularly Sir William Jones sent me fifty pounds, and many other things. My poor clerk, a very honest man, found his house infected, and acquainted me with it. I was so pitiful as to bid him come out of the house himself, and attend his business, and I should not be afraid of him. He did so, and his wife and child died of the plague ; but he was preserved, and had a thankful remembrance of my kindness to his dying day, many years after.
I studied very hard all the time of the plague, and read many good authors; for I had seldom any company ; only my brother came to see me, and I went to see him once a week, which was a great refreshment to me.
Towards Christmas my parish began to fill again,which had been a long time very empty. For none but the ordinary sort of people continued there, all the ginen and better sort of tradesmen being gone. Insomuch that a collection of m
could not be made, which sometimes brought me to want money. But I observed that whatsoever I gave to the poor, was shortly after repaid me by more bestowed on me ; and when I have been in want of money, I have found some in some corner or other, where I could not remember that ever I had laid up any.
When my parishioners returned, they were wonderful kind to me ; and I found myself much endeared to them by my stay among those that remained. And one gentleman would have carried me to the King, and acquainted him with my care of my flock. But I did not think fit to accept of his kindness ; having happiness enough in being preserved and assisted in the performance of my duty. Many such observations I made in that time ; and it fills my heart with joy to read the loving kindness of the Lord, and the holy resolutions He wrought in me to be wholly His.
In the next year I resolved to take my degree of Doctor of Divinity, and for that end sent to Cambridge for a certificate of my commencing Bachelor of Divinity long ago. Which having obtained, I went to Oxford, June 25th, and by the advice of my worthy friend Dr. Willis, was admitted into Christ Church, where I was most kindly received by the Dean, the Bishop of Oxford, who ever after expressed a great affection for me.
The following year was made memorable by that dreadful fire which consumed the city of London; burning with great fury for above three days together. This disordered my studies very much ; for a friend came to my house, and asked what I meant, not to remove my goods. I told him that the fire was so far off, that I hoped it would be stopped before it came to us. He made no answer, but fell to pulling down my hangings in the dining-room himself, and never left me till I had taken down all my books, and sent them to Battersea ; from whence I could not have them brought back so soon as I desired, and cost me a great deal of time to set up my books again in their place. And a little after composed as moving a sermon as I could make, concerning the late calamity ; and in the afternoon inquired into the causes why men do not repent and turn to God after such fearful judgments.
I do not find that I attempted to compose any thing the next year, but only sermons, with a paraphrase upon the ninth of Romans, for the satisfaction of a friend, who feared he was under the sentence of reprobation. What effect it had upon him I am not able to say, for he was a silent man, and very melancholy all his days, but I hope it was beneficial to others who got copies of it.
In the latter end of the year 1668, the insolence of many of the Dissenters grew so great, that it provoked me to write a little book, which I called A Friendly Debate between a Conformist and a Nonconformist.” My intention in it was sincere, to persuade them in a kind manner to join with us ; at least not to have us in contempt, as if they were the only godly people, and we at the best but moral men, (as they called us,) who had not the grace of God in us. This book proved very acceptable, and had many editions; but was only guessed to be mine; for I told nobody of it but my brother, and one that carried it to the press. At last, one of my Lord of Canterbury’s chaplains wheedled Mr. Royston the bookseller to confess he had it from me. Wherenpon his Grace, who had long been angry with me upon the account of Queen's college business, ordered one to bring me over to him, assuring me of a very kind welcome. Which indeed I had from him ever after upon many occasions.
On the 12th of November, 1666, the Bishop of Lincoln (Dr. Fuller) sent for me, and most kindly offered me the Archdeaconry of Huntingdon, then void, and in his gift. That morning I had read prayers in my church, and that advice of the son of Sirach, xxxvii. Ecclus. 27, 28, which I read in the first lesson, much affected me, and run in my mind a long time after: “ Prove thy soul in thy life, - for all things are not profitable for all men.” So that having consulted my own inclinations, after three or four days' deliberation, I most humbly and thankfully declined to accept of it, thinking myself unfit for that government.
Not long after, I went to visit a sick person, who told me he stayed there all the plague year, as I had done, and that he had never missed one day since to thank God for his visitation then, which put me to the blush, who had often forgot to thank God, particularly for my preservation in that time.
Toward the latter end of this year several divines in London met and dined together, intending to consult how they might most efficaciously promote true religion by their ministry. And it was agreed that each of them (who were in number, as I remember, sixteen) should write a little plain book, of a shilling or eighteenpence price, on such subjects as were much misunderstood, as about the knowledge of Christ, Faith, Justification, Repentance, Mysteries, Temptations, Desertions, &c. and every one chose his subject, but said they would excuse me,
if I would undertake to make a prayer-book to fit most occasions, and they gave me the heads, to which I consented. And in the end of that year resolved to try what I could do in that kind, by making prayers and meditations at the holy communion of Christ's Body and Blood. Which I began to compose January the 2nd, 1670, under the name of the “Christian Sacrifice;" and, blessed be God, I brought it to a conclusion on May the first.
This year, 1671, I was made the King's Chaplain, whether I would or no, by that good man Bishop Blandford, Dean of the King's chapel. I earnestly begged of him to be excused from that service, finding it very difficult to get a sermon without book. But without my knowledge he put me into the list, and forced me to accept it.
On the first of January I began to think of performing my promise, to make a prayer-book. My former book, the “ Christian Sacrifice," found such good acceptance that it began to be reprinted this month, and I added several prayers at the end of it. I went on successfully every month till the month of July, 1672, when I broke off for awhile, going to see my mother at Yeldham in Essex. Where on the 13th of that month I received a letter that the King had been pleased to bestow a prebend of Westminster upon me, wishing me to come with all speed, and kiss his hand. Thus God bestowed another preferment upon me, which I never sought, no more than I did Covent-garden or Battersea. But the Archbishop of Canterbury had oft expressed a great kindness for me, and desire I should be preferred.
On the last day of August I finished the book of prayers which I undertook to compose, and in the beginning of September, calling to mind it was my birth-day, I gave God thanks for prolonging my life another year, and enabling me to write a new book of devotions, blessed be His goodness, making a comfortable addition to my maintenance, and that without my seeking. Some other things I find I then acknowledged; resolving to depend upon the same goodness for ever, and trust in the Lord at all times, &c.
In the month of February, 1673, I began to compose a little book, which I called “ Advice to a Friend;” and having at leisure hours finished it in the month of June, sent to a young lady to whom I had a great affection, and had long called my sister. The occasion of which was this. When I was at Astrop waters in the beginning of the plague year, there I met a young gentlewoman, grandchild to the lady Durham of Borstall; who indeed was every way very amiable, and attracted the esteem of all that were acquainted with her, insomuch that a lady who wished me well, told me that she would make me an excellent wife. To which I answered, she was much above me, and I must think of dying and not marrying, intending to go and stay with my parish in London.
Accordingly I did, and had no thoughts of this young gentlewoman. But about a year after I was strangely surprised to see her come to my house in Covent Garden, in so melancholy a manner that she could not speak, but only weep, and put a paper into my hand, which she prayed me to read. I presently found it contained a case about which she came to consult me. For having read my “Parable of the Pilgrim," she fancied I would have compassion on her; and resolving to consult a stranger, and not any of the divines she knew, her thoughts pitched upon me, as her guide in the difficulties wherein she was. For her grandmother, being a person of quality, a great housekeeper, and very religious, there was a great resort thither from Oxford to the place where she lived, six miles from thence.
Among others, a grave divine came often thither, who undertook the direction of all the lady's grandchildren in religion; but had a very particular regard to this, whose name was Penelope Jephson. He gave her many rules for her life, and many prayers, and tied her up very strictly in some things, beyond the common practice of other good Christians. To all which she devoutly submitted, and gave up herself so absolutely to his conduct, that at last he persuaded her never to marry; to which she found no difficulty to give her consent. At last he drew up a paper in this form ; “I promise and vow that I will never marry any man except yourself;" naming him who thus guided her. The last words something startled her, and made her ask what made him put them in, he being an ancient man, and having a wife and many children. To which he answered, " That it was no more than to say she would not marry at all, because there was no likelihood of his marrying her.' The great opinion which she had of him made her sign the paper, which he kept. But afterward, she reflecting upon it, was extremely troubled, and acquainted only one friend with it. She encouraged her to come to me and ask my opinion about it. I took a great deal of pains to satisfy her that she was not obliged by this promise to him, and vow (as I took it) to God; which was rashly made, and not acceptable to Him. Whereupon she never ceased her importunities till
he delivered up the paper to her, which she tore and burnt, and then broke quite off all intercourse with him, and consulted me about all things that concerned religion. This brought me into such an acquaintance with her, that I found her to be a person of such extraordinary understanding, piety, good nature, &c., that I fell in love with her, which I never had been with any one before. I concealed it all I could, because I had not an estate to maintain her, suitable to her fortune and breeding. But I delighted to be much in her company, which I had often, after her grandmother was dead, and she lodged sometimes in Covent Garden, and then in Lincoln's Inn Fields.
After I was advanced to be a Prebendary of Westminster, I adventured to declare myself more plainly to her, which she received with great civility; telling me she really intended never to marry, not out of any obligation to her vow, but out of inclination to a single life. But she prayed me to be assured that she wanted not true affection to me, whom she esteemed above all men, and loved me as a brother, but could not as a husband. Ever after she gave me leave to call her sister. And she styled me in her letters by the name of brother. My affection prompted me to say many passionate things to her, but nothing moved her from her steadfast resolution; only at last she declared and prayed me to be satisfied with it, that if she ever married any man, it should be me ; which gave me abundant contentment.
On the 21st of October, 1674, I had a letter which informed me she was ill of a fever, and though a second letter told me awhile after that she was better, yet on the twenty-fifth a messenger was sent on purpose to tell me that she was in a dangerous condition, and wished often to see me, whereupon I hired a coach and went towards her the next morning early, but could not reach thither the next day. When I came betimes the third day, I found her alive, but in an extreme weak condition, the physicians not knowing what to make of her disease; though there were two of them constantly attending her. A little after I came she fell into such a drowsiness, that she slept for five days together, seldom waking; and when she was awake, spake imperfectly, and presently fell asleep again. Blessed be God, she had got so much strength by the seventeenth, that then I took my leave of her, after I had attended her three weeks, and watched with her several nights.
Her strength increased slowly in the winter time, (and she had a fit of an ague in December,) but her affection to me increased daily; so that she sent me word by her cousin that I had overcome her by my tender kindness to her in her sickness; and she resolved, if God restored her former health, she would no longer delay my suit, but give herself wholly to me, to whom, under God, she owed her life. And it pleased God, by the middle of summer, to restore her to such good health, that she consented I should come into the country to marry her. All this time I did not neglect my studies, and I find I had my thoughts much fixed upon God, to whom I committed all my concerns. I cannot but admire at the goodness of God, who enabled me to write so much when I was so full of business, by preaching constantly, visiting the sick, writing letters, and abundance of other hindrances by multitudes of visitants, &c. But He carried me in health through all with cheerfulness. And upon Wednesday, May the 24th, I went towards Misenden, in Gloucestershire, with my brother, who I intended should join us together. Which he did on the 1st of June.
In July, 1679, I had notice that the Dean of Peterborough was dead, and I was earnestly pressed by a neighbouring gentleman to endeavour to be his
I had never sought anything hitherto, and therefore was unwilling. But was persuaded the next morning to go to Lambeth, and acquaint my Lord of Canterbury with his death, who advised me to go to Windsor, (where the King was); which I did, with his letter of recommendation, and had a grant of the Deanery immediately, in which I was installed August the 1st.
This year also I had another great blessing bestowed upon me, by the kindness of the Earl of Bedford, and my parishioners, to whom I represented the great burden that was upon me, of preaching twice every Sunday in that great Church, which I had now continued sixteen years without any complaint. But finding it grow heavy, I desired they would find me a Lecturer for the afternoon, as most parishes had in London and Westminster. To which proposal they all readily consented ; and after they heard some preach their approbation sermon, as they called it,) they unanimously agreed to refer the choice of a person to me, who could judge, they said, better than themselves. Accordingly they did, and I nominated a Lecturer, whom they paid very liberally; which I took to be the greatest respect they could have paid unto me, and a happy fruit of my labour among them.
In October following I finished the Book of Psalms, and was so thankful to God, that I concluded, as one of the Commentators doth, with the last words: Allelujah! Allelujah! again and again praising the Lord, who hath so graciously assisted me, and will, I hope, enable me to transcribe it for the press.
This summer I perfected the second part of the Book of Psalms, which I dedicated to the Lord Chancellor Finch, in gratitude to him for his most kind offer to bestow upon me the Vicarage of St. Martin's in the Fields, then void; which was thought of such value, that he told a friend of mine he offered me a Bishopric. I had some notice of his intention when I was at Peterborough, and resolving not to accept of it, I wrote to Dr. Thorp, chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to move bis Grace to employ his interest for Dr. Tenison, if I should decline it; which he did very earnestly, and when I came to town, the Lord Chancellor sent for me, and made me that noble offer: which I told him I could never tharkfully enough acknowledge, but my parish had lately been so extraordinary kind to me, that I could not with decency remove from them to another. Besides, I told him I doubted whether I should be able to perform the duties of so great a parish; but if he would not think me too bold, I would recommend one to him that had strength of body and mind to undergo so great a charge; and named Dr. Tenison; whom I perceived he had heard of, and afterward told me he would bestow it upon him. Of which I wrote word to the Doctor, and blessed God for placing so good a man in that great station, who now is deservedly advanced to the highest dignity in the Church.
Having very often great Communions, and sometimes large offerings (more than once near twenty pound, and on an Easter Day five-and-twenty,) I was very solicitous how to dispose of so much money, and at last resolved to inquire after all that were sick, and in great need, and gave a liberal relief to them; and then ordered the remainder to be put into the chest in the vestry, of which I had one key, and the churchwardens each of them another. And the clerk kept a register of what was thus laid up of the Communion money. I am not able to say in what year it was; but about this time I took an account from the clerk, out of his register, what the sum was to which the money we had laid up amounted, and found it four hundred pound. Whereupon I called the churchwardens to consider how we should dispose of it to some charitable or pious use, as the Rubric in the Communionbook directed. They desired it might be laid out for the relief of the poor, who I told them had already had their share, on those Sundays when the offerings were made, and that they were not intended to lessen their rates for the poor, which would be to give to the rich, and not to the needy. And therefore I insisted this money should be employed for some pious use, and propounded the purchase of twenty pound per annum, to be settled on the curate who should read prayers morning and evening, for ever. To this they would by no means consent, till I told them I would appeal to the Bishop how this money should be employed, as the Rubric directs, when the minister and churchwardens cannot agree. Upon which they yielded to me; and a piece of land being found out in Essex of the forenamed value, a purchase was made of it.
In the next year, 1681, I composed a paraphrase, with some notes, upon the Book of Proverbs, and finished it before the end of that year. When I find, upon March the 24th, I had the most pleasant day that I had of a long time enjoyed. For I was so highly delighted in the thoughts of God, and found my spirit so free, so clear, (for I had fasted that day) so pleased, that to be always in that blessed temper, I thought I could be contented to be poor, nay, to lie under any misery. So much satisfaction I found in the sense of God, and of his love, and of our blessed Saviour, that I could have been contented to eat and drink no more, if I could have continued in that sweet disposition of mind, which I wished my little one might inherit, rather than all the riches of the world.
(To be concluded in the Appendix.)
FAMILY READINGS :-DEUTERONOMY XXXII. 29.
For the Christian Observer. “O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end !” (Deut. xxxii. 29.)—Whatever may be the application of these words in their immediate contexts, they serve, like many other passages of Scripture, as a kind of master-key. They meet every circumstance under which erring mortals can be found, and fit every lock by which man can be shut up in the dark enclosures of sin