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of death; yet then God devises other means that his banished be not expelled from him. For,
2. God will restore the soul to the body, and raise the body to such a perfection, that it shall be an organ fit to praise him upon; it shall be made spiritual to minister to the soul, when the soul is turned into a spirit; then the soul shall be brought forth by angels from her incomparable and easy bed, from her rest in Christ's holy bosom, and be made perfect in her being, and in all her operations: and this shall first appear by that perfection, which the soul shall receive, as instrumental to the last judgment; for then she shall see clearly all the records of this world, all the register of her own memory: for all that we did in this life is laid up in our memories; and though dust and forgetfulness be drawn upon them, yet when God shall lift us from our dust, then shall appear clearly all that we have done, written in the tables of our conscience, which is the soul's memory. We see many times, and in many instances, that a great memory is hindered and put out, and we, thirty years after, come to think of something that lay so long under a curtain; we think of it suddenly, and without a line of deduction, or proper consequence and all those famous memories of Simonides and Theedactes, of Hortensius and Seneca, of Sceptius, Metrodorus, and Carneades, of Cyneas the ambassador of Pyrrhus, are only the records better kept, and less disturbed by accident and disease: for even the memory of Herod's son of Athens, of Bathyllus, and the dullest person now alive, is so great, and by God made so sure a record of all that ever he did, that as soon as ever God shall but tune our instrument, and draw the curtains, and but light up the candle of immortality, there we shall find it all, there we shall see all, and the whole world shall see all; then we shall be made fit to converse with God after the manner of spirits, we shall be like to angels.
In the mean time, although upon the persuasion of the former discourse, it be highly probable that the souls of God's servants do live in a state of present blessedness, and in the exceeding joys of a certain expectation of the revelation of the day of the Lord, and the coming of Jesus; yet it will concern us only to secure our state by holy living, and leave the event to God, that (as St. Paul said) "whether
present or absent, whether sleeping or waking," whether perceiving or perceiving not, "we may be accepted of him;" that when we are banished this world, and from the light of the sun, we may not be expelled from God, and from the light of his countenance, but that, from our beds of sorrows, our souls may pass into the bosom of Christ, and from thence to his right hand in the day of sentence: "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ;" and then if we have done well in the body, we shall never be expelled from the beatifical presence of God, but be domestics of his family, and heirs of his kingdom, and partakers of his glory. Amen.
I HAVE now done with my text, but yet am to make you another sermon. I have told you the necessity and the state of death, it may be too largely for such a sad story; I shall, therefore, now with a better compendium teach you how to live, by telling you a plain narrative of a life, which if you imitate, and write after the copy, it will make that death shall not be an evil, but a thing to be desired, and to be reckoned among the purchases and advantages of your fortune. When Martha and Mary went to weep over the grave of their brother, Christ met them there, and preached a funeral sermon, discoursing of the resurrection, and applying to the purposes of faith, and confession of Christ, and glorification of God. We have no other, we can have no better precedent to follow: and now that we are come to weep over the grave of our dear sister, this rare personage, we cannot choose but have many virtues to learn, many to imitate, and some to exercise.
I choose not to declare her extraction and genealogy; it was indeed fair and honourable; but having the blessing to be descended from worthy and honoured ancestors, and herself to be adopted and ingrafted into a more noble family; yet she felt such outward appendages to be none of her's, because not of her choice; but the purchase of the virtues of others, which although they did engage her to do noble things, yet they would upbraid all degenerate and less honourable lives than were those, which began and increased the honour of the families. She did not love her fortune for making her noble; but thought it would be a dishonour to
her, if she did not continue a nobleness and excellency of virtue fit to be owned by persons relating to such ancestors. It is fit for us all to honour the nobleness of a family; but it is also fit for them that are noble, to despise it, and to establish their honour upon the foundation of doing excellent things, and suffering in good causes, and despising dishonourable actions, and in communicating good things to others for this is the rule in nature; those creatures are most honourable, which have the greatest power and do the greatest good: and accordingly myself have been a witness of it, how this excellent lady would, by an act of humility and Christian abstraction, strip herself of all that fair appendage and exterior honour, which decked her person and her fortune, and desired to be owned by nothing but what was her own, that she might only be esteemed honourable, according to that which is the honour of a Christian, and a wise person.
2. She had a strict and severe education, and it was one of God's graces and favours to her: for being the heiress of a great fortune, and living amongst the throng of persons, in the sight of vanities and empty temptations, that is, in that part of the kingdom where greatness is too often expressed in great follies and great vices, God had provided a severe and angry education to chastise the forwardnesses of a young spirit and a fair fortune, that she might for ever be so far distant from a vice, that she might only see it and loath it, but never taste of it, so much as to be put to her choice whether she would be virtuous or no. God intending to secure this soul to himself, would not suffer the follies of the world to seize upon her, by way of too near a trial, or busy temptation.
3. She was married young; and besides her businesses of religion, seemed to be ordained in the Providence of God to bring to this honourable family a part of a fair fortune, and to leave behind her a fairer issue, worth ten thousand times her portion: and as if this had been all the public business of her life, when she had so far served God's ends, God in mercy would also serve her's, and take her to an early blessedness.
4. In passing through which line of Providence, she had the art to secure her eternal interest, by turning her con
dition into duty, and expressing her duty in the greatest eminency of a virtuous, prudent, and rare affection, that hath been known in any example. I will not give her so low a testimony, as to say only that she was chaste; she was a person of that severity, modesty, and close religion as to that particular, that she was not capable of uncivil temptation; and you might as well have suspected the sun to smell of the poppy that he looks on, as that she could have been a person apt to be sullied by the breath of a foul question.
5. But that which I shall note in her, is that which I would have exemplar to all ladies, and to all women: she had a love so great for her Lord, so entirely given up to a dear affection, that she thought the same things, and loved the same loves, and hated according to the same enmities, and breathed in his soul, and lived in his presence, and languished in his absence; and all that she was or did, was only for, and to, her dearest Lord:
Si gaudet, si flet, si tacet, hunc loquitur ;
And although this was a great enamel to the beauty of her soul, yet it might in some degrees be also a reward to the virtue of her Lord: for she would often discourse it to them that conversed with her, that he would improve that interest which he had in her affection, to the advantages of God and of religion; and she would delight to say, that he called her to her devotions, he encouraged her good inclinations, he directed her piety, he invited her with good books; and then she loved religion, which she saw was not only pleasing to God, and an act or state of duty, but pleasing to her Lord, and an act also of affection and conjugal obedience; and what at first she loved the more forwardly for his sake, in the using of religion, left such relishes upon her spirit, that she found in it amability enough to make her love it for its own. So God usually brings us to him by instruments of nature and affections, and then incorporates us into his inheritance by the more immediate relishes of heaven, and the secret things of the Spirit. He only was (under God) the light of her eyes, and the cordial of her spirits, and
1 Martial, i. 69.
the guide of her actions, and the measure of her affections, till her affections swelled up into a religion, and then it could go no higher, but was confederate with those other duties which made her dear to God: which rare combination of duty and religion, I choose to express in the words of Solomon; "She forsook not the guide of her youth, nor brake the covenant of her God'."
6. As she was a rare wife, so she was an excellent mother: for in so tender a constitution of spirit as hers was, and in so great a kindness towards her children, there hath seldom been seen a stricter and more curious care of their persons, their deportment, their nature, their disposition, their learning, and their customs: and if ever kindness and care did contest, and make parties in her, yet her care and her severity was ever victorious; and she knew not how to do an ill turn to their severer part, by her more tender and forward kindness. And as her custom was, she turned this also into love to her Lord: for she was not only diligent to have them bred nobly and religiously, but also was careful and solicitous, that they should be taught to observe all the circumstances and inclinations, the desires and wishes of their Father; as thinking that virtue to have no good circumstances, which was not dressed by his copy, and ruled by his lines, and his affections: and her prudence, in the managing her children, was so singular and rare, that when ever you mean to bless this family, and pray a hearty and a profitable prayer for it, beg of God, that the children may have those excellent things which she designed to them, and provided for them in her heart and wishes; that they may live by her purposes, and may grow thither, whither she would fain have brought them. All these were great parts of an excellent religion, as they concerned her greatest temporal relations.
7. But if we examine how she demeaned herself towards God, there also you will find her not of a common, but of an exemplar piety: she was a great reader of Scripture, confining herself to great portions every day; which she read, not to the purposes of vanity, and impertinent curiosities, not to seem knowing, or to become talking, not to expound and
m Prov. ii. 17.