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ANDREW RIVET, D. D. THE Rev. Andrew Rivet, D. D. was a very eminent and learned French protestant divine, who flourished in the United Netherlands, from near the beginning till the middle of the seventeenth century. After a long life of distinguished usefulness, both as a writer and a preacher of the gospel, he died at Breda, of one of the most painful and fearful maladies which can attack the human frame. It continued for twelve days, during which time this wonderful man exhibited a fortitude of mind, and superiority to distress and approaching dissolution, such as have seldom been witnessed. The following account of him is somewhat abridged from that given in Middleton's Biographia Evangelica.
It will be but necessary, before we enter upon the relation of other things, briefly to mention something concerning the temper and disposition of this holy person, and his circumstances before his last sickness, that the grace of God towards his servant may appear the more illustrious; when we see with what care and pro. vidence he disposed his affairs in the whole course of his life, but especially in this last act thereof.
Besides those excellent gifts, wherewith he was adorned (which cannot here be reckoned up particularly) through the goodness of God he had been favoured with the enjoyment of a sound mind in a sound and healthy body; he was of a cheerful and sedate spirit, holding on in an even course of life, neither lifted up with prosperity, nor cast down by adversity. So that by the habit of a comely and moderate deliberation, he was ever blessed with VOL. II.
I an inward joy, and possessed all things with delight and grati
tude, being ready to part with them without regret and trouble, pursuing his own profit and advantage in a serious contemplation of the vanity of all worldly things; often repeating that of the apostle: The things which are seen are temporal, but the thing which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor. iv. 18. He was never moved with sorrowful events that fell out suddenly, whether in public, or in his private concerns, as a man surprised by an unexpected evil; neither was the tranquillity of his mind shaken by them: he was wont to say; “ Nothing is imposible; I wonder at nothing." Neither, on the contrary, did he at any time break forth into a loose and immoderate joy; as being one set in a higher place, and looking down upon all things here below as uncertain and perishing. He never found himself, on any other account under such perturbation, nor showed the like, as upon the decease of the young prince of Orange, who from a child had been committed to his instruction and tuition; and whose death (as he often affirmed) he bewailed out of pure charity, and not for any private, loss that himself might sustain thereby: because the confidence he had of his excellent disposition, and expectation of his longer life, had raised him to the hope that he would prove a useful instrument for the good both of the state and the church. From that time he seemed to be more than ever drawn off from worlds things, and used to speak of them with a certain loathing and disdain. The frame of his mind was also discovered, by a frequent interrupting of his accustomed course of reading the scriptures in order in his family, and turning to some select chapters, such as Job xiv. Eccles. iii. and iv. Psalm xlix. and cxliv. From whence he took the occasion of such discourses, as showed what meditations lie was customarily taken up with.
In the last week wherein he lived in health, being in his garden accompanied by a friend, and walking up and down therein, as he was wont, with great pleasure, he gave order what he would have done in the dressing of some trees, and then added : “ If I live till the spring time, they will afford me a pleasant sight; but if not I shall be in a garden far more pleasant.” When bis friend interposed and said, “ There was no cause why he should presage such a thing to himself, seeing he was sound and lively;" he received a rebuke from Dr. Rivet to this purpose: “ The time is now come that I am to be treated after another manner; my age is so far declined and hasting to an end, as plainly to declare that death (which none can be exempted from) stands at my door: and truly death is the principal matter that I meditate on; God
is my witness, that I desire not its delay, but am ready, with a cheerful mind to embrace it, yea even this day, if the will of God were so."
. On the same day he was entreated by Mr. Hulsius, the pastor of the French church in Breda, that on the next day, being December 25, he would preach a thanksgiving sermon after the celebration of the Lord's supper; which he consenting to do, chose for his text Psalm cxliv. 3, 4. Lord, what is man, that thou cakest knowledge of him, or the son of man, that thou makest account of him? Man is like to vanity; his days are as a shadow that passeth away.
When the sermon was finished, he returned home as lively and well as he had been seen for some years past; nor did he the next day feel any decay of his former strength. But on Thursday, which was the twenty-seventh of December, 1650, he began to complain of a pain below his navel, which proved to be the commencement of a constipation of the bowels. There were no proper means unattempted, nor any kind of help by clysters, fomentations, or baths, but which were made trial of, until by the stubborn disease that resisted all remedy, he was brought unto death, the twelfth day of his sickness; the history of which we shall now prosecute more at large.'
, On the second day after his disease had seized him, he, well understanding the nature of it, declared what the event would be; “ Not (saith he) that I would neglect remedies; that I may please my friends I will do whatsoever is thought meet to be done, being secure as to the issue, which I commit to the providence of God:” Then he asked his niece, Mrs. Mary Moline, what she conceived of his disease, which he thought would prove mortal: she answered, that her opinion was the same; yet that he had no reason to fear any thing, having been long prepared to follow God when he should call; that the time of his life hitherto had been long, if it were crowned with a happy and glorious end.
“ Thou speakest right (saith he) and I pray thee always address thyself to me with like speeches; and while my sickness continues, depart not from me day nor night : Promise me now that thou wilt keep a cheerful countenance, and that thou wilt speak nothing to me but what may administer joy and support to me; although I fear not death, yet I fear the trial of those pains which I have always had a very sharp feeling of.”
Then suddenly turning his speech unto God, he said: 4 Great God! thou art my Father, thou hast given me both life, and a new life, thou hast taught me from my youth, and I have declared thy wonderful works, forsake me not now in my old age. Hitherto, through thy peculiar favour, thou has preserved me sound in my body; and my faculties and the functions of my mind have not been impaired; so that a little before I was oppressed by this disease, I found myself as apt and ready for the exercise of my vocation, as in my flourishing youth: O Lord God ! if it be thy will that I should longer attend upon thy service, thou canst assuage my disease in one moment: But if thou hast decreed otherwise, lo here is thy servant; thy will be done. This one thing I beg, with the most inward affection, that thou wilt make me conformable to thy good will: let not thy good spirit depart from me, that in this conflict thy strength may make me a conqueror. Accomplish this, O Lord, for thine own sake: and seeing thou hast employed me in thy work, grant that I may die an honourable death, and such as may be an example unto others: that I may stand fast in that sound doctrine which I have taught, and may make a good confession thereof before witnesses, that thereby thy church may be both instructed and edified. Let me apply to myself by a lively faith all the promises of the gospel, and let them put forth their efficacy in me, unto my joy and eternal consolation, that nothing in the world, neither afilic. tion nor distress, may separate me from thee, or cause me to doubt of thy love and favour. Thou knowest my weaknesses and infirmities; permit not the grievousness of my pain to cast me into impatience or murmuring: Either make my pains tolerable, or furnish me with fortitude and constancy sufficient to bear them: That I may not offend with my tongue, keep thou the door of my lips.”
The remainder of the day was taken up with pains, the use of remedies, and the visits of friends: When the night came on, he earnestly intreated Mrs. Rivet, his wife, that she would retire into the next chamber; not only because she was afflicted with a vehement cough, but also that he might remove her from the grievous sight of himself when tormented with his pains; and because he found his tender affections more moved at the sight of her, than any other person. So none remained with him but his niece, Mrs. Mary Moline, and two of the household servants. But who can particularly relate the speeches which he uttered, and in a manner poured forth that night and the day following; (which was Thursday, December 29th,) with an affection and ardour inexpressible, breathing from his heart nothing but repentance, faith, charity, and holy zeal! In a word, he im
plored the mercy of God, with the greatest self-denial, and abasement of soul, confessing himself to be a miserable sinner, and casting away all confidence in any good thing which he had done in his life; yea speaking of that with very great contempt, he accused his own defects, and ascribed unto God the glory of his good works; often repeating such expressions as these:
“ It is God that hath wrought the work for me: Shall I al. lege or plead my own righteousness before him? Far be that from me: If I should justify myself, my own mouth would condemn me; I will rather open my sin before him, in a most humble confession of it, and pray that he will increase in me the grace of true repentance; yea let him wear out this body with sorrow, it matters not; so he give to me a broken and a contrite heart, which is a sacrifice acceptable to himself; as for my part, I do most willingly offer up myself. Accept, O Lord, this imperfect sacrifice, and supply the defects thereof by the perfect righteousness of that great high priest, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unto God without spot. Let me be accepted as a living sacrifice, holy, and well-pleasing unto God, which is our reasonable service. Crucify, O Lord, this old man, that the body of sin may be utterly destroyed, and I may rise again unto a new life: The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. vi. ult.
Then repeating the word gift, he added : “ It is mere grace; not of works, but of him that calleth ; Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." Rom. viii. 33.
Then after a little interruption of his discourse, by a short sleep, he thus proceeded :
“ I am God's, and he will save me; he hath honoured me with a holy calling; and hath not suffered his gift to be altogether useless in me, as to the edification of his church. As to myself, I can most truly affirm, that I have not served him for filthy lucre, but with a sincere heart; and that I was myself first persuaded of the truth of the gospel, and experienced the efficacy thereof, before I preached it to others.
“ I tasted the good word of God, which by its power pierceth even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Thou hast known my heart; O eternal God! thou knowest that I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but have esteemed it my only honour to