Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

Here Cheynell kindly and sedulously attended his patient, anxious to restore his body, but still more his soul to health.

“ I entreated him to pluck up his spirits, and not to yield to the disease ; but I perceived, that though reason be stout when it encounters with faith, yet reason is not so valiant when it is to encounter with affliction: and I cannot but observe, that many a parliamentsoldier hath been more chearful in a prison, than this discoursing engineer, and learned captive was in a palace. Believe it, reader, believe it, that neither gifts, nor parts, nor profession, nor any thing else but faith, will sustain the spirit of a man in spiritual straights and worldly encumbrances, when without there are fightings, and within there are fears."

[ocr errors]

If we may rely upon the testimony of our author, Chillingworth's disease was aggravated by the situation in which he felt himself with regard to the great officers who were taken prisoners in Arundell Castle. “ They looked upon him," says Cheynell, “ as an intruder into their Councils of War, and (as one of them whispered) the Queen's intelligencer, who was set as a spie over them and all their proceedings.

And, hereupon, he gives us an elaborate defence of the • Grand Engineer,' as he called him, from the unjust prejudices of the cavalier-officers, in which he freely and not unsuccessfully indulges his disposition and his talents for satirical exaggeration. And having achieved a triumphant victory in this subordinate contest, he thus conducts us into that field whence we are to view bim gathering laurels, in his own opinion at least, more glorious and more lasting.

“Let not, then, Master Chillingworth be charged with more faults than he was guilty of; I cannot but vindicate his reputation from all false aspersions, which are cast upon him by some who know not how to excuse themselves : I took all the care I could of his body whilst he was sick, and will (as far as he was innocent) take care of his fame and reputation now he is dead. Nay, whilst he was alive, I took care of something more precious than his health or reputation, to wit, his precious and beloved soul ; for, in compassion to his soul, I dealt freely and plainly with him, and told him that he had been very active in fermenting these bloody wars against the Parliament and Commonwealth of England, his natural country, and by consequent, against the very light of nature.”

This is the commencement of a series of teasing attacks which our champion made upon poor Chillingworth during this his last sickness. It must be confessed, that in some of them the advantage appears to be on the side of Cheynell, but we recollect the Lion and the Sculptor, and the wonder ceases. But, even if we regard the relation of Cheynell, as in all respects

strictly true, it is impossible for a moment to allow our faith in the adherence of Chillingworth to all that he had previously maintained, to be staggered. We doubt not, that many of our readers have experienced, and therefore can recall to their imagination, what it is to have a mind which, for days and weeks, and 'months and years, baffles, by its feverish intenseness of thought, all the ordinary tendencies of the body to seek repose in sleep. It was so with Chillingworth. “ His only unhappiness,” says Lord Clarendon,“ proceeded from his sleeping too little, and thinking too much.” And, with such an unhappy frame of mind, with spirits depressed by sickness, by the unkindness of present rivals, and the inattention of absent friends, who can wonder if he made a feeble defence against the galling impertinencies of his bigotted though well-meaning adversary?

As it is not our intention to occupy the attention of our readers with questions in politics, which they must look for elsewhere, we shall pass on to that which is more peculiar to the tract before us, the personal history of Chillingworth. We cannot, however, omit the following passage, which expresses in few words the low estate to which, in his adversary's view of the matter, the great champion of reason had fallen.

Truely, I was ashamed to dispute with him any longer, when he had given me so much advantage: for first, he clearly condemned himself for being confederate with them, whose intentions were destructive; because, no man must promote an ill design by any means whatsoever, be they never so lawful. Secondly, he confessed himself clean out of his way when he was in arms; for war, saith he, (and he learnt to say so of the Anabaptists and Socinians) is not the way of Jesus Christ; all that he could say for himself was, that he had no command in the army; and yet, their greatest officers told me, that in a true construction, there was no man else that had a command to any purpose, but Master Chillingworth."

Finding that all his anxious efforts to produce a change in the principles of his patient were but labour in vain, Cheynell “ desired him, that he would now take off his thoughts from all matters of speculation, and fix upon some practical point which might make for his edification.” The return that Chillingworth made for this advice is remarkable, and pointed.

“ He thanked me, (as I hope) very heartily, and told me that in all points of religion he was settled, and had fully expressed himself for the satisfaction of others in his book, which was approved and licensed by very learned and judicious divines.”

We are not informed by our author, of the particulars of the death of Chillingworth. He only relates, that he rode himself to Arundell, “ to move the Doctor to come over again to see Mr. C.," but the Doctor was absent; that he prayed for him in private, and in public, and paid him every attention. He goes on:

From my first visitation (C. might well call it so) of Mr.. Chillingworth, to the last, I did not find him in a condition which might any way move me, (had I been his deadly enemy,) either to flatter or envy him, but rather, to pity and pray for him, as you see I did.”

But the point in which Cheynell seems to be most anxious to acquit himself of all uncharitableness, is “ the business of his farewell.”

“ Let us,” he says, (if you please) “ take a view of all our proceedings, and of Master Chillingworth’s opinions, and then, (I am afraid) some will say, there was a little foolish pity showed on my part, and the uncharitableness will be found in them only, who censure me for want of charity.

“ First, there were all things which may any way appertain to the civility of a farewell, though there was nothing which belongs to the superstition of a farewell. His body was decently laid in a convenient coffin, covered with a mourning hearse-cloth, more seemly (as I conceive) than the usual covering, patched up out of the mouldy reliques of some moth-eaten copes. His friends were entertained (according to their own desire,) with wine and cakes; though that is, in my conceit, a turning of the house of mourning into a house of banqueting. All that offered themselves to carry his

corpse

of
pure

devotion, because they were of his persuasion, had every one of them (according to the custom of the country,) a branch of rosemary, a mourning ribband, and a pair of gloves. But, (as it doth become an impartial historian,) I confess there were three opinions concerning his burial.

The first opinion was negative and peremptory, that he ought not to be buried like a Christian. 1. Who refused to make a full and free confession of the Christian religion. 2. Nay, if there had been nothing else against him, but his taking up of arms against his country, that they conceived a sufficient reason to deny the burial of his corpse.

The truth is, we looked upon Master Chillingworth as a kind of non-conformist; nay, (to speak strictly,) a recusant rather than a non-conformist;

and, though he did make scruple of subscribing the truth of one or two propositions, yet, he thought himself fit enough to maintain, that those who do subscribe them are in a saveable condition. You see, Master Chillingworth did refuse to subscribe. What think ye, (gentlemen,) are not Chichester men pretty good disputants ? Can you confute these reasons ? If you can, do your best; if you cannot, I have no reason to prompt you; scratch your heads, beat your desks, bite your nails, and I will go sleep, and will not hear what they said of Master Chillingworth's Argument on Fielding's case.

“ The second opinion, was your opinion, and the opinion of such as you are, my good friends at Athens; the men of a cathedral spirit thought fit that Master Chillingworth, being a member of a cathedral, should be buried in the cathedral, &c.

“ The third opinion (which prevailed) was this, that it would be fittest to permit the men of his own persuasion, out of mere humanity, to bury their dead out of our sight; and to bury him in the cloisters, amongst the old Shavelings, Monks, and Priests, of whom he had so good an opinion all his life.”

After having pursued the subject through several pages, discussing with surprising gravity and profound learning several knotty points connected with funerals,-proving, that he was unjustly charged with a want of charity towards the deceased ; and that the balance was entirely on the other side; he thus draws to a conclusion:

“ Finally, it was favour enough to permit Master Chillingworth's disciples or followers, the men of his persuasion, to perform this last office to their friend and master. Now, there was free liberty granted to all the malignants in the city to attend the hearse, and inter his corpse. Sure I am, that if Mr. Chillingworth had been as orthodox and zealous a preacher as John the Baptist was, he might have had as honourable a burial as John the Baptist had; for all the honour that John had, was to be buried by his own disciples, Matt. xiv. 12. If the doctrine of this eminent scholar was heretical, and his disciples were malignants, I am not guilty of that difference. As devout Stephen was carried to his burial by devout men, so is it just and equal that malignants should carry malignants to their grave. By malignants, I mean such kind of men who join with the enemy, or are willing upon any occasion offered to join with him, to promote the antichristian design now on foot; those, and only those, I call malignants.”

We now come to the last strange act of this divine, Cheynell's speech at the grave of Chillingworth, which we should betray our duty by not giving entire.

“ When the malignants brought the hearse to the burial, I met them at the grave with Master Chillingworth’s book in my band; at the burial of which book, I conceived it fit to make this little speech following.

A Speech made at the Funeral of Mr. Chillingworth's mortal Book.

“ Brethren,-it was the earnest desire of that eminent scholar, whose body lies here before you, that his corpse might be interred according to the rites and customs approved in the English Liturgy, and in most places of the kingdom heretofore received: but his second request in case that were denied him) was, that he might be buried in

this city, after such a manner as might be obtained, in these times of unhappy difference and bloody wars. His first request is denied for many reasons, of which you may be ignorant. It is too well known, that he was once a professed Papist, and a grand seducer; he perverted divers persons of considerable rank and quality; and I have good cause to believe, that his return to England, commonly called his conversion, was but a false and pretended conversion. And for my own part, I am fully convinced, that he did not live or die a genuine son of the church of England ; I retain the usual phrase, that you may know what I mean; I mean, he was not of that faith or religion, which is established by law in England. He hath left that phantasie, which he called his religion, upon record in this subtile book. He was not ashamed to print and publish this destructive tenet, ‘that there is no necessity of Church or Scripture to make men faithful men,' in the hundredth page of this unhappy book, and therefore, I refuse to bury him myself; yet, let his friends and followers, who have attended his hearse to this Golgotha, know, that they are permitted, out of mere humanity, to bury their dead out of our sight. If they please to undertake the burial of his corpse, I shall undertake to bury his errors, which are published in this so much admired, yet unworthy book; and happy would it be for this kingdom, if this book and all its fellows could be so buried, that they might never rise more, unless it were for a confutation; and happy would it have been for the author, if he had repented of those errors, that they might never rise for his condemnation. Happy, thrice happy will he be, if his works do not follow him, if they do never rise with him, nor against him.

Get thee gone then, thou cursed book, which hast seduced so many precious souls ; get thee gone, thou corrupt rotten book, earth to earth, and dust to dust ; get thee gone into the place of rottenness, that thou may'st rot with thy author, and see corruption. So much for the burial of his errors.

Touching the burial of his corpse, I need say no more than this : it will be most proper for the men of his persuasion to commit the body of their deceased friend, brother, master, to the dust; and, it will be most proper for me to hearken to that counsel of my Saviour, Luke ix. 60. • Let the dead bury their dead, but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.' And so I went from the grave to the pulpit, and preached on that text to the congregation.”

We fear we must acknowledge, that this extraordinary speech, and the action that accompanied it, breathe a spirit of bigotry, which will go hard against our author, in the minds of our readers. Yet, we are prepared to believe in the sincerity with which he a little farther on declares.

“I dare boldly say, that I have been more sorrowful for Master Chillingworth, and merciful to him, than his friends at Oxford: his sickness and obstinacy cost me many a prayer, and many a tear.”

Cheynell proceeds to pay a parting compliment to the

« FöregåendeFortsätt »