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“ I acknowledge this change to come from him with whom “ is no shadow of change, from the mighty hand of God, “ and I will by no means withstand it.” And it is reported that the Scottish presbyters, sensible of God's hand upon them, are at this time making their addresses to God, by confession of their sins respectively: God grant that both we and they may do it right. Though I shall still strive with them about the justice of the First Cause; yet about the justness of our persons will I not strive with them, nor about any other matter, save only who shall confess themselves greater_sinners to God. I have omitted David, Psal. li. and Ezra, and Nehemiah, and Daniel in their ninth chapters, and cited only these to confirm myself, and thee, brother, in this duty of giving glory to God in this manner, Et confiteantur tibi omnes populi : even so, true and righteous are thy judgments in all the world, O Lord God Almighty; yea, merciful are they, and far below our deservings.
I hope no man will think, though I speak thus, that I give him leave to construe my words mathematically, as if there was not an atom or hair of a good man, or man of God, in our church. There were divers primitive, (and are at this day, blessed be God; the Lord make them a thousand times more than they are,) holy, and heavenly souls, vessels chosen and fitted for the service of the sanctuary. I shall be bold to instance in three who died in peace; few considering (some did) that they were taken away from the evil to come, lest their eyes should see (what their spirits foresaw) what is come on us, on whom the days, not of visitation only, but of vengeance, even the ends of the world are come.
The first of these was Thomas Jackson, D. D. late president of Corpus Christi college in Oxford, and sometime vicar of St. Nicholas church in Newcastle upon Tyne; two places that must give account to God for the good they had, or might have had, by that man; as all scholars must for his neglected works.
The second was Mr. Nicholas Farrer, of Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire, sometimes fellow-commoner and fellow of Clare-hall in Cambridge.
The third was the author of this book, Mr. George Herbert, fellow of Trinity college, orator of the university of Cambridge, and rector of Bemerton in Wiltshire. All three holy in their lives, eminent in their gifts, signal protestants for their religion, painful in their several stations, precious in their deaths, and sweet in their memories.
First, I will give thee a brief of some confrontments common to them all, and then some of their, at least this author's, proper excellencies apart.
1. They all had that inseparable lot and sign of Christ and Christians, (Isa. viii. 18. Heb. ii. 13. Luke ii. 34.) to be signs of contradiction, (or spoken against,) men wondered at, and rated by the world. Doctor Jackson in two particulars suffered much. 1. He had like to have been sore shent by the parliament in the year 1628, for tenets in divinity, I cannot say, so far driven by him, as by some men now they are with great applause. His approach to unity was very near. “ Grant me,” saith he, ar but these two things, that God has a true freedom in “ doing good, and man a true freedom in doing evil :” there needs be no other controversy betwixt the opposites in point of providence and predestination. See his Epist. dedicat. to his sixth book. 2. He had an adversary in England who writ a book against him, with a title not so kindly as might have been devised. It was this ; A Discovery of Dr. Jackson's Follies : which he bound as an ornament upon him, (as Job says,) that is, never answered but in the language of the lamb dumb before the shearer, silence and sufferance. And he had one in Scotland who also girded at him, without cause or answer.
And for Mr. Farrer, he was so exercised with contradictions, as no man, that lived so private as he desired to do, could possibly be more. I have heard him say, valuing (not resenting his own) sufferings in this kind, that “to
fry a fagot was not more martyrdom than continual ob“ loquy." He was torn asunder as with mad horses, or crushed betwixt the upper and under millstone of contrary reports; that he was a papist, and that he was a puritan. What is, if this be not, to be sawn asunder as Esay, stoned as Jeremy, made a drum, or tympanized, as other saints of God were ? And after his death, when, by injunction, which he laid upon his friends when he lay on his deathbed, a great company of comedies, tragedies, love hymns, heroical
poems, &c. were burnt upon his grave, as utter enemies to Christian principles and practices, (that was his brand, some poor people said, he was a conjurer.
And for our author, (the sweet singer of the temple,) though he was one of the most prudent and accomplished men of his time, I have heard sober men censure him as a man that did not manage his brave parts to his best advantage and preferment, but lost himself in an humble way ; that was the phrase, I well remember it.
The second thing wherein all three agreed, was a singular sincerity in embracing, and transcendent dexterity in defending, the protestant religion established in the church of England. I speak it in the presence of God, I have not read so hearty, vigorous a champion against Rome, (amongst our writers of his rank,) so convincing and demonstrative as Dr. Jackson is. I bless God for the confirmation which he hath given me in the Christian religion against the atheist, Jew, and Socinian, and in the protestant against Rome : as also, by what I have seen in manuscript of Mr. Farrer's, and heard by relation of his travels over the western parts of Christendom; in which, his exquisite carriage, his rare parts and abilities of understanding and languages, his morals more perfect than the best, did tempt the adversaries to tempt him, and mark him for a prize, if they could compass him. And opportunity they had to do this, in a sickness that seized on him at Padua, where mighty care was had by physicians and others to recover his bodily health, with design to infect his soul. But neither did their physic nor poison work any change in his religion, but rather inflamed him with an holy zeal, to revenge their charity, by transplanting their waste and misplaced zeal, (as they were all three admirable in separating from the vile, what was precious in every sect or person under heaven,) to adorn our protestant religion, by a right renouncing the world with all its profits and honours, in a true crucifying the flesh, with all its pleasures, by continued temperance, fasting, and watching unto prayers. In all which exercises, as he far outwent the choicest of their retired men, so did he far undervalue these deeds, rating them much below such prices as they set upon them. Upon this design he helped to put out Lessius, and to stir up us ministers to be painful in that excellent labour of the Lord, catechising, feeding the lambs of Christ: he translated a piece of Lud. Carbo; wherein Carbo confesseth, that the heretics (i. e. protestants) had got much advantage by catechising: but the authority at Cambridge suffered not that Egyptian jewel to be published.
And he that reads Mr. Herbert's poems attendingly, shall find not only the excellencies of scripture divinity, and choice passages of the fathers bound up in metre; but the doctrine of Rome also finely and strongly confuted; as in the poems, To saints and angels, p. 69. The British church, p. 102. Church militant, &c.
Thus stood they in aspect to Rome and her children on the left hand. As for our brethren that erred on the right hand, Dr. Jackson speaks for himself; and Mr. Farrer, though he ever honoured their persons, that were pious and learned, and always spoke of them with much Christian respect, yet would he bewail their mistakes, which, like mists, led them in some points back again to those errors of Rome which they had forsaken. To instance in one: He that says, preaching in the pulpit is absolutely necessary to salvation, falls into two Romish errors: i. That the scripture is too dark: 2. That it is unsufficient to save a man. And perhaps a third, advancing the man of Rome more than they intend him, I am sure. But the chief aim of Mr. Farrer and this author was, to win those that disliked our liturgy, catechism, &c. by the constant, reverent, and holy use of them: which surely had we ali imitated, having first imprinted the virtue of these prayers in our own hearts, and then studied with passionate and affectionate celebration, (for voice, gesture, &c.) as in God's presence, to imprint them in the minds of the people, (as this book teaches, our prayers had been generally as well beloved as they were scorned. And for my part, I am apt to think, that our prayers stood so long, was a favour by God granted us at the prayers of these men, (who prayed for these prayers as well as in them ;) and that they fell so soon, was a punishment of our negligence, (and other sins,) who had not taught even those that liked them well, to use them aright; but that the good old woman would absolve, though not so loud, yet as confidently as the minister himself.
Lastly, the blessed Three in One did make these three men agree in one point more. That one Spirit, which divides to every man gifts as he pleases, seems to me to have dropped upon these three elect vessels all of them some unction or tincture of the spirit of prophecy. Shall I say, I hope, or fear Mr. Herbert's lines, p. 190, should be verified ?
Religion stands on tiptoe in our land,
Whereby one may foretel, what sins next year
I pray God he may prove a true prophet for poor America, not against poor England. Ride on, most mighty Jesu, because of the word of truth. Thy gospel is a light big enough for them and us: but leave us not. The people of thine holiness have possessed it but a little while; Isaiah lxiii. 15, &c.
When some farmers near the place where Mr. Farrer lived, somewhat before these times, desired longer leases to be made them, he intimated, that seven years would be long enough; troublous times were coming; they might thank God if they enjoyed them so long in peace.
But considering the accustomed modesty of Dr. Jackson in speaking of things not certain, I much admire that strange appendix to his sermons, (partly delivered before the king, about the signs of the times, printed in the year 1637.) touching the great tempest of wind which fell out upon the eve of the fifth of November, 1636. He was much astonished at it; and what apprehension he had of it appears by these words of his : “This mighty wind was
more than a sign of the time, tempus ipsum admonebat, “ the very time itself was a sign, and interprets this mes“ senger's voice better than a linguist, as well as the pro
phets (were any now) could do. Both wind and time " teach us that truth often mentioned in these meditations. “ Thus much the reader may understand, that though we “ of this kingdom were in firm league with all the nations “ of the earth, yet it is still in God's power, we may fear “ in his purpose, to plague this kingdom by his own im“ mediate hand, by this messenger, or by like tempests, “ more grievously than he hath done at any time, by the “ famine, sword, or pestilence, to bury many living souls,