Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

“ as well of superior as inferior rank, in the ruins of their “ stately houses or meaner cottages, &c."

And what shall be thought of that which fell from his pen in his epistle dedicatory of his Attributes, written November 20, 1627, and printed 1628, in these words, or more? “ If any maintain, that all things were so decreed " by God before the creation, that nothing since could 6 have fallen out otherwise than it hath done; that no

thing can be amended that is amiss : I desire leave to oppugn his opinion, not only as an error, but as an ig

norance involving enmity to the sweet providence of “ God; as a forerunner of ruin to flourishing states and

kingdoms, where it grows common, or comes to full “ height.”

Was this a conjecture of prudence? or a censure of the physical influence, or of the meritorious effect of these tenets? or rather, a prediction of an event? Let the reader judge.

In these they did agree: the sequel will shew wherein they differed.

This author, Mr. G. Herbert, was extracted out of a generous, noble, and ancient family: his father was Richard Herbert of Blache-hall, in Montgomery, esq. descended from the great sir Richard Herbert in Edward the Fourth's time; and so his relation to the noble family of that name well known. His mother was daughter of sir Richard Newport of Arcoll, who doubtless was a pious daughter, she was so good and godly a mother. She had ten children, Job's number, and Job's distinction, seven sons; for whose education she went and dwelt in the university, to recompense the loss of their father by giving them two mothers. And this great care of hers, this good son of hers studied to improve and requite, as is seen in those many Latin and Greek verses, the obsequious Parentalia, he made and printed in her memory: which though they be good, very good, yet (to speak freely even of this man I so much honour) they be dull or dead in comparison of his Temple Poems. And no marvel; to write those, he made his ink with water of Helicon; but these inspirations prophetical were distilled from above : in those are weak motions of nature; in these, raptures of grace. In those he writ flesh and blood; a frail earthly woman, though a mother: but in these he praised his heavenly Father, the God of men and angels, and the Lord

Jesus Christ his master; for so (to quicken himself in duties, and to cut off all depending on man, whose breath is in his nostrils) he used ordinarily to call our Saviour.

I forget not where I left him : he did thrive so well there, that he was first chosen fellow of the college, and afterward orator of the university. The memorials of him left in the orator's book, shew how he discharged the place; and himself intimates, Church, p. 39. that whereas his birth and spirit prompted him to martial achievements,

the

way that takes the town, and not to sit simpering over a book; God did often melt his spirit, and entice him with academic honour, to be content to wear and wrap up himself in a gown so long, till he durst not put it off, nor retire to any other calling. However, probably he might, I have heard, (as other orators,) have had a secretary of state's place.

But the good man, like a genuine son of Levi, (I had like to have said Melchizedek,) balked all secular ways, saw neither father nor mother, child nor brother, birth nor friends, save in Christ Jesus; chose the Lord for his portion, and his service for employment. And he knew full well what he did when he received holy orders, as appears by every page in this book, and by the poems called Priesthood, and Aaron; and by his unparalleled vigilancy which he used over his parish, which made him (says that modest author of the epistle before his poems, N. F. who knew him well) “a peer to the primitive saints, and more “ than a pattern to his own age.

Besides his parsonage, he had also a prebend in the church of Lincoln ; which I think (because he lived far from, and so could not attend the duty of that place) he would fain have resigned to Mr. Farrer, and often earnestly sued to him to discharge him of it: but Mr. Farrer wholly refused, and diverted or directed his charity (as I take it) to the reedifying of the ruined church of Leighton, where the corpse of the prebend lay. So that the church of England owes to him (besides what good may come by this book, towards the repair of us churchmen in point of morals) the reparation of a church-material, and erection of that costly piece of Mosaic or Solomonic work, the temple; which flourishes and stands inviolate, when our other magnificences are desolate and despised.

These things I have said are high; but yet there is one thing which I admire above all the rest: the right managing of the fraternal duty of reproof is one of the most difficult offices of Christian prudence. O Lord! what is then the ministerial ? To do it as we should is likely to anger a whole world of wasps, to set fire on the earth. This, I have conjectured, was that which made many holy men leave the world, and live in wildernesses; which, by the way, was not counted by the ancients an act of perfection, but of cowardice and poor-spiritedness; of flight to shade and shelter, not of fight in dust and blood, and heat of the day. This author had not only got the courage to do this, but the art of doing this aright.

There came not a man in his way, be he of what rank he would, that spoke awry, (in order to God,) but he wiped. his mouth with a modest, grave, and Christian reproof: this was heroical; adequate to that royal law, Thou shalt in any case reprove thy brother, and not suffer sin upon him. And that he did this, I have heard from true reporters, and thou mayest see he had learned it himself, else he never had taught it us, as he does in divers passages of this book.

His singular dexterity in sweetening this art, thou mayest see in the garb and phrase of his writing. Like a wise master-builder, he has fetched about a form of speech, transferred it in a figure, as if he was all the while learning from another man's mouth or pen, and not teaching any. And whereas we all of us deserved the sharpness of reproof, (reyxe &potów,he saith," he does this, and he “ does that;" whereas, poor men, we did no such thing. This dart of his, thus dipped, pierces the soul.

There is another thing, (some will call it a paradox,) which I learned from him, and Mr. Farrer, in the managery of their most cordial and Christian friendship : That this may be maintained in vigour and height without the ceremonies of visits and compliments; yea, without any trade of secular courtesies, merely in order to spiritual edification of one another in love. I know they loved each other most entirely, and their very souls cleaved together most intimately, and drove a large stock of Christian intelligence together long before their deaths: yet saw they not each other in many years ; I think scarce ever, but as members of one university, in their whole lives.

There is one thing more may be learned from these two (I may say these three) also; namely, that Christian charity will keep unity of souls, amidst great differences of gifts and opinions. There was variation considerable in their endowments : doctor Jackson had in his youth (as if he then had understood God's calling) laid his grounds carefully in arithmetic, grammar, philology, geometry, rhetoric, logic, philosophy, oriental languages, histories, &c. (yea, he had insight in heraldry and hieroglyphics,) he made all these serve either as rubbish under the foundation, or as drudges and day-labourers to theology. He was copious and definitive in controversies of all sort Master Farrer was master of the western tongues; yet cared he not for criticisms and curiosities. He was also very modest in points of controversy, and would scarce venture to opine, even in the points wherein the world censured him possessed. Our author was of a middle temper betwixt, or a compound of both these; yet having rather more of master Farrer in him: and to what he had of him, he added the art of divine poesy, and other polite learning, which so commended him to persons most eminent in their time, that doctor Donne inscribed to him a paper of Latin verses in print; and the lord Bacon having translated some psalms into English metre, sent them, with a dedication prefixed, to his very good friend, master George Herbert, thinking that he had kept a true decorum in choosing one so fit for

the argument, in respect of divinity and poesy, (the one as the matter, the other as the style,) that a better choice he could not make.

In sum, to distinguish them by better resemblances out of the Old and New Testament, and antiquity: methinks doctor Jackson has somewhat like the spirit of Jeremy, saint James, and Salvian; master Herbert like David, and other psalm-men, saint John, and Prudentius; master Farrer like Esay, saint Luke, and saint Chrysostom: yet in this diversity had they such an harmony of souls as was admirable. For instance; in one who differed in some points from them all, yet in him they so agreed all, as that master Farrer, out of a great liking of the man, translated him into English; master Herbert commented on him, and commended him to use; and doctor Jackson allowed him for the press : it was Valdesso's 110 Considerations.

It would swell this preface too much to set down the several excellencies of our author: his conscientious expense of time, which he even measured by the pulse, that native watch God has set in every of us; his eminent temperance and frugality, (the two best purveyors for his liberality and beneficence, his private fastings, his mortification of the body, his extemporary exercises thereof, at the sight or visit of a charnel house, where every bone, before the day, rises up in judgment against fleshly lust and pride: at the stroke of a passing bell, when ancient charity used, said he, to run to church, and assist the dying Christian with prayers and tears, (for sure that was the ground of that custom ;) and at all occasions he could lay hold of possibly, which he sought with the same diligence that others shun and shift them: besides his careful (not scrupulous) observation of appointed fasts, lents, and embers. The neglect and defect of this last, he said, had such influx on the children which the fathers of the church did beget at such times, as malignant stars are said to have over natural productions; children of such parents as be fasting and prayers, being like Isaac, and Jacob, and Samuel; most likely to become children of the promise, wrestlers with God, and fittest to wear a linen ephod. And with this fasting he imped his prayers both private and public: his private must be left to God, who saw and heard them in secret; his public were the morning and evening sacrifice of the church liturgy, which he used with conscientious devotion, not of custom, but serious judgment; knowing, 1. That the sophism used to make people hate them, was a solid reason to make men of understanding love them; namely, because taken out of the mass book; taken out, but as gold from dross, the precious from the vile. The wise reformers knew Rome would cry, Schism, Schism, and therefore they kept all they could lawfully keep, being loath to give of fence; as our blessed Saviour, being loath to offend the Jews at the great reformation, kept divers old elements, and made them new sacraments and services, as their frequent washings he turned into one baptism; some service of the passover into the Lord's supper. 2. That the homeliness and coarseness, which also was objected, was a great commendation. The lambs, the poor of the flock, are forty for one grounded Christian: proportionable must be the care of the church to provide milk; that is, plain and easy

nourishment for them: and so had our church done, hoping that stronger Christians, as they abounded in gifts, so they had such store of the grace of charity, as for their weak brethren's sakes to be content therewith.

He thought also that a set liturgy was of great use in respect of those without, whether erring Christians, or unbelieving men: that when we had used our best arguments against their errors or unbelief, we might shew them a form wherein we did, and desired they would serve Almighty God with us: that we might be able to say, This is our church, here we would land you. Thus we believe, see the Creed. Thus we pray, baptize, catechise, celebrate the eucharist, marry, bury, entreat the sick, &c.

« ElőzőTovább »