A Funeral Sermon FOR THE RIGHT HONOURABLE, THE Lady Frances Digby, Who Deceased At Coles-Hall in Warwickshire, on the 29th of September, 1684.

BY JOHN KETTLEWELL, Vicar of Coles-Hill in Warwickshire.

LONDON, Printed for Robert Kettlewell at the Hand and Scepter over against St. Dunstans Church in Fleetstreet. MDCLXXXIV.

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE, Simon Lord Digby, BARON DIGBY Of GEASHILL.

My Lord,

IN compliance with Your Lordships Desire, I here pre­sent You with this faint Portraicture of your Dear, and Excellent Lady. Those rare Virtues, that endow'd her Noble Soul, had mightily endear'd her Person, and will always embalm her Memory, among [Page] those that knew her. But as they rendred her a Bles­sing to this, so they prepared her for the Converse of Angels, and Blessed Spirits in a better Place: And to compleat all his other Mercies, God has Crown'd all his Graces in her, which were ripe for Glory, by taking her to be Happy with himself. Had he lent us the Bles­sing for a longer Time, her Life would have been most truly instructing, and had the daily use and benefit of a Sermon. But since it has pleased him to take away the Original, 'tis pity the World should want the Copy too, and lose the Benefit of her Example. Your Lord­ship has already reaped much Profit, and is still in hope to receive more, by reflecting on it Your self: And You trust it may bring a like Advantage, and serve to kindle and cherish like Inclinations, in the Hearts of many others also. I am sure it is very fit for Gene­ral use, and will do good to all that hear of it, if they are not wanting to themselves. For she was a very lively Draught of many excellent Virtues; and they must either be perfectly Good, (as none are in this World) or extremely bad Souls, who cannot improve by be­ing set in the Light of such Patterns.

One main Hindrance of this good Effect, my Lord, is the suspicion of Flattery and Insincerity in these Di­scourses, as if in them Men were not careful of strict Truth, and sought not so much what may be truly said, [Page] as what may set off their Subject. I cannot promise this Relation any Security from such Censures, since the truest, and most faithful Accounts in this kind, can­not always avoid them. But I have this Testimony in my self, That in the Description I have given of this excellent Person, I have spoken nothing to deserve them. I have represented her as most exemplary, and imita­ble, in Modesty, and Sincerity; and I am sure I have had a great Concern upon me, not to lose either in Discoursing of her. I know there is not only Sinceri­ty, but Care too required in every one, who will take upon him to be a Reporter: And this I have held my Eye upon, in all the Parts of her Character. I freely confess to Your Lordship, my Aim has been to speak too little, for fear of saying too much; and that I have designedly used wariness in several Expressions, lest ven­turing to the utmost Bounds of Truth, I might happen to step beyond them. And whatever Judgment they may pass, who knew little of her, I have this to satisfie my self, and the World too, that they who knew her best, and especially Your Lordship, will say this is not only a True, but a Modest Character.

I heartily wish, my Lord, this Draught of Your Dear Lady, were fitter than it is, to serve Your Lord­ships Ends, of rendring her Example useful to the World, and doing Honour to her Memory. I hope, thro' [Page] the Grace of God, and Your Piety and discreet Care, that the Representation of her Virtues will not renew Your Grief, which shews her to be set above it. For it would trouble me to think I have sent a Companion into Your Retirements, to minister to Sadness and dejected Thoughts, and render this Service, which is perform'd with willingness, uneasie in the Remembrance of it, to,

My Good Lord,
Your Lordships most Affectionate, Humble Servant,John Kettlewell.

A FUNERAL SERMON For the Right Honourable, The Lady FRANCES DIGBY, Preached Oct. 5. 1684. at Coles-Hill in Warwickshire,

On Prov. XIV. 32.‘—But the Righteous hath Hope in his Death.

THese words describe the different State of Good and bad men, and shew how happy the one, and how wretched the other are, when some great Affliction, especially when Death seizes them. In the Time of Health and Prosperity, the Wicked often seem the happiest Per­sons; they injoy so much of the Bounty of Provi­dence, as if God were pleased with them; which puffs them up with a conceit of their own Happiness, and makes others envy them. But when any great Di­stress, especially when Death comes, that always [Page 2] makes the Discrimination. Transgressors then are in a most deplorable State, and most destitute of Comforts when they most need them. But the Righ­teous have a good Support, and begin those Joys, which will never end, or be diminished. The faster they are flying from the World, the nearer they ap­proach to Almighty God: When their Condition seems at the worst, 'tis really almost at the best; for then they are upheld by a chearful Hope, and are presently to be instated in the joyful Possession of an everlasting Kingdom. The Wicked is driven away in his Wickedness: i. e. When great Distress, especially when Death comes, he can promise nothing to him­self, but is driven from all his Hopes by the Consci­ence of his own Wickedness, which bids him still ex­pect more, and greater Miseries: But the Righteous knows he shall be a Gainer by it, and has hope in his Death.

This difference is not always true in Point of Fact, as if good Men alwaies left the World with a quiet Mind and comfortable Hope, and ill men in Horror and Astonishment. Thus indeed it often is. For the Righteous ordinarily die in Peace, and that is enough to verifie the Text, which is a Proverbial Speech: For Proverbs do not express a Rule that never alters, but that doth not alter ordinarily, in the usual Observa­tion and Course of things. And the Wicked of­tentimes [Page 3] are full of Fears, especially when they have been guilty of Gross and Crying Sins, which are more apt to strike Terror upon the Conscience. But tho' in the Case of good men this do generally fall out, and in the Case of bad men very frequently, yet in neither of them is it constant▪ For some Righteous Souls are misled in judging of themselves by Scrupu­lous Principles; or are full of melancholly, which is a timorous Passion, and betrays them to unrreaso­nable Fears: And they, it may be, dye with troubled, and terrified Consciences. And many of the Wick­ed are possessed with a presumptuous belief of Gods Goodness; or are full of Pride and Self-Flattery, and, by mincing and hiding their own Faults, and unrea­sonably magnifying every little Performance and At­tainment, think too well of themselves: And they dye swoln big with hopes, and vain Confidences. So that in Fact, tho' it be ordinarily, yet sometimes it is not true, that good men have Hope in their Death, and ill men want it.

But tho' it be not always true in Point of Fact, yet it always is in the Ground and Reason of it. A wicked Liver has always Cause to be dismay'd, tho' he will not believe it till he feels it. And a Righteous man has always Cause of hope in Death, if he has but the understanding to discern it. And whether he see it or no, he shall be sure to find the Benefit, and [Page 4] be a Gainer by it. And in this Sense the Words ad­mit of no exception, that when the Wicked wants, the Righteous has hope in his Death, i. e. he has most just Reason so to do.

In discoursing upon these Words, I shall shew,

  • 1. Who the Righteous man is, to whom this Priviledge belongs.
  • 2. What are his hopes, that make Death a desirable thing to him, which to others is the King of Terrors.
  • 3. Apply this, to allay our Grief and Sorrow on the Death of Friends.

1. I shall shew who the Righteous man is, to whom this Priviledge belongs. And that is every man, who has lead a good Life, and has not allow'd himself in any known Sins, but had a regard to all Gods Command­ments.

He is one that has led a Godly Life. This is the true Test to descry who are Righteous, which we are to judge of, not from some Religious heats, or tran­sient Convictions, or good wishes; but from the Tenor of a Pious Practice. He that doth good, saith St. John, is of God, 3 Joh. 11. and again, let no man de­ceive you in this Point; for he that doth Righteousness is Righteous, even as he is Righteous. 1 Jo. 3. 7. And it is the only sure Ground of Hope for dying Persons. He must have lived Holily, who would dye happily, for it is nothing else but an holy Life that can make [Page 5] happy. That is the only sure Preparation for Death, since it is the main thing to be inquired of after Death; for then men shall all be judged according to their Works. Rev. 20. 13.

In one Case, 'tis true, good Purposes will make hap­py, tho' a man has never practised them. And that is in the Case of such dying Penitents, as God sees have both Sincerity and Strength enough of Godly purpo­pose, and by means thereof would certainly Practise well if they had but Time. But as for these, they are so very few, that they seem not to be of any great account in the Description of the Righteous. Con­version, in the ordinary course, goes on by steps; Gods Grace is infused, and our wicked Lusts are mortified by degrees; and without an unwonted, and extraordinary Grace, (which no man must ex­pect, and least of all they who have slighted all Gods Gracious offers to the very last,) it is not to be be­gun and finished in the last Moments. The Righte­ous ordinarily, are only such, as have done Righ­teousness in their Lives; and among all the nume­rous Attempters, 'tis hard to find those, who can succeed and become Righteous, by forming good Resolutions upon their Death-beds. And as for those who do then become such, it is more than they can know themselves. For no man that is only be­ginning to resolve well, can know the strength and [Page 6] efficacy of his own Resolutions, till he comes to try and Practise them: And till he knows that, tho' he may have the Safety, yet he can not have the Com­fort and the hopes of a Righteous man. Bare purpo­ses, rarely give Safety, but never Comfort to a dying Person; so that the Hopes of the Righteous must not rest on them alone, but have something else, viz. a well led Life, to bottom on.

And this Life must have been uniform in all Duties, when a man has not allow'd himself in any known Sins, but has had a Regard to all Gods Commandments.

Some parcel out the Law of God, and think to be Righteous for performing some particular things. This some of the Jewish Doctors made very easie, declaring that a man might be Righteous by obser­ving any one Commandment which he pleased. For these are some of their Rules. See Mr. Smiths learned discourse of a legal Righteous­ness among his Sel. Discours. c. 3. p. 290. &c. Qui dat operam Praecepto, liber est a Praecepto. He that exercises himself in any one Pre­cept, for that time is freed from minding any other. And again, whosoever shall perform any one of the 613. Precepts of the Law (for so many they are according to their reckoning) without any worldly re­spect, for Love of the Precept, shall inherit thereby E­verlasting Life. But when they would be more se­cure, and act more commendably, they would not content themselves with any of the Precepts indiffe­rently, [Page 7] but make a choice, according to the estima­tion which they thought God himself had of them. For they fancied, that he did not rate all his Laws equally, but esteem'd some more than others: As the Lawyer plainly shew'd, when he desired to be satis­fied which was the great Commandment of the Law, Mat. 22. 36. and the young man, when he ask'd what good thing he should do to have Eternal Life, i. e. of all the good things whereto Life is promised, whether was the Sabbath, or Sacrifices, or which other Precept best; what was that good thing, which would most secure it, Mat. 19. 16. And fancying there were some such darling Precepts, they thought he was most sure to be acceptably Righteous, who had the good luck to hit upon that Command, which God most accounted of. And the like Opinions, tho', God be thanked, not authorized by the common sayings of our Do­ctors, are most unhappily got into the Hopes, and Practice of too many among our selves; nay, alas! of the generality of Christians. For they too often think to pass for Righteous men, only on the score of some particular Observances, as being constant in Prayers, or Liberal in Alms, or zealous in Gods Cause, especially if that be in some notable instance, and perform'd with great hazards; without having an Eye all this while to their whole Duty, and whilst at the same time they allow themselves in some known [Page 8] Sins. But whilst after this rate they mangle the Law of God, and parcel out their Duty, their thoughts of Righteousness are but a Dream, and all their hopes a vain Presumption. No Duties will save us when they are singled out from the rest, and stand alone; but only when they are all in Conjunction. St. Paul instances in two, viz. Giving all he has to feed the Poor, and giving his Body to be burnt in Martyrdom, which will easily be allow'd to have preference before all others. But yet, says he, if these go by them­selves, and have not Charity, which, as he describes it, v. 4. 5. &c. besides Alms, contains in it many other instances, it profits me nothing, 1 Cor. 13. 3.

The Righteous man then, is one who has an eye to all Gods Laws, and whensoever he transgresses any, doth not allow himself in that breach, but rises again by Repentance. This is Righteousness in any Person. And without this, the Hopes in Death, which the Text mentions, will avail nothing. For many men are full of Hope, who have no just Cause for it; and, on the contrary, others are afraid to Dye, who may justly meet Death with comfort. The melancholly of some, and the Sanguine Complexion of others, fill them with hopes and fears, which are not owing to the Reason of things, but only to their natural Tempers: So that to shew any man a dying Saint, that has Cause to rejoice in Death, it is not enough [Page 9] that he have Peace of mind, but also that he have just ground for it too.

And thus having shewn who this righteous man is, to whom this Priviledge belongs: I proceed now,

2. To shew what are his Hopes, that make Death a desirable thing to him, which to others is the King of Terrors.

Now this Hope is of the favour and friendship of Almighty God, and of all those Blessings which may be expected from it. What those Blessings are, was not so well known in old times, when God led men on by more dark, and indefinite expectations of the Future Happiness. But when Christ came, he 2 Tim. 1▪ 10. brought Life and immortality to Light, and has told us plainly, that at their Deaths, all Righteous men shall be translated to the unspeakable and eternal Joys of Heaven. And these are so great, that no heart can wish for more. For the blessings of that Place are so large, as to fill all our Capacities; so pure, as not to have the least mixture of Sorrows; so constant, as to admit of no abatements, or inter­missions. We shall always desire, and always be satis­fied; and when we have injoy'd the most, we shall never be cloy'd, nor wearied with it. We shall live in Gods Presence, and share in his Likeness, and shine in his Glory, and have Fellowship with the Saviour of [Page 10] the World, and all the spotless Angels, and all the Glorified Saints and Godlike Persons, whose Society alone is enough to turn any Place into a Paradise. And all these we shall enjoy, without all fear of Misfor­tune, either theirs, or our own; without all danger of displeasing them, or fear of losing them; with­out seeing any thing, either to pity, or blame in them; or any damps of Friendship, and intermission of Affection. In sum, we shall never see any ill, nor suffer it; nor ever want any good thing, or, when we have it, fear to be deprived of it: But we shall be infinitely happy, and ever think our selves so, and continue in that State for evermore.

This is that Eternal Life, which God promises, and whereto Death now conveys all Righteous Persons. And since it is the way to our injoyment of all this Bliss, it is no longer a Spoyler of our Joys, but a Step to them, and a thing to be desired by all Godly Souls. It is, indeed, like churlish Physick, very un­grateful in it self, tho' it may be most desireable in the effect. It brings a Dissolution of Nature, which strikes Horror, and that into the best men, who would desire not to Dye, if they could come at the happiness of the other Life without dying. And this St. Paul testifies of himself, confessing, that as for the way of receiving the Heavenly house, i. e. the glo­rified Body, he had rather be found alive, and have it [Page 11] superinduced by a translation; than be stripp'd of this Body first by Death, and afterwards be cloath'd again. My wish, says he, is not to be uncloath'd, i. e. to put off this Body first, but to be cloathed upon by having the other superinduced, that mortality may not so truly be put off, as swallowed up of Life, 2 Cor. 5. 1. 4. But it is most incomparably advantageous in the Event. Tho' the way be hard and rugged, yet 'tis short, and the Prize at the end is wonderfully Rich and Pleasant: So that every considerate man, who looks beyond Death, hath the greatest Reason to de­sire it. To them, as St. Paul says, it has quite lost its 1 Cor. 15. 55. Sting, and is become the truest Gain. Phil. 1. 21. All sense of what it takes away, is drown'd in the boundless apprehension of what it gives, and Death is swallowed up in victory. 1 Cor. 15. 54. It confers on them all their hearts can desire, and therefore, if they rightly consider it, ought not to be a matter of their Fear: It takes them from a Dunghill to a Throne, and invests them in all the Glory and Riches of an everlasting Kingdom.

I come now

3. To apply this, to allay our Grief and Sorrow on the Death of Friends.

I do not seek to suppress all Grief for a dying Friend; for that is an impossible Task. Friendship is a close thing, and lies near to our Hearts; so near, [Page 12] indeed, that a Friend is said, and that very justly, to be a Second self. And therefore to be insensible when a dear Friend is torn from us, is as impossible, as to have no sense when a Finger is rent off from our Hand, or our Heart is plucked out of our Bodies. Some Course Nature will have in spite of all Argu­ments, and no man can restrain it. Yea, and what is more, it is not fit he should do it, if he could. For some sorrowful concern is necessary to shew we are sensible of our Loss, and to evidence our Affection for the Person that is gone: As the Jews, when Jesus wept for Lazarus, cryed out Behold how he loved him. Jo. 11. 35. 36. The unconcernedness of the Living, seems a reflection upon the Dead, and argues they were not beloved while they lived, but that the World was weary of their Company, and even their pretended Friends very willing, if not glad, to be quit of them. And therefore it is reckon'd as a Part of Gods Judgment upon the Jews, that when they died, there should be no wailing for them. Ezek. 7. 11. But with this Grief for our own Loss in the departure of our Friends, we must at the same time shew our selves sensible who it is that has taken them, and that too for their own Gain, and that he still continues to us a thousand Blessings when he only calls back one. And therefore with Sorrow for them, we must be sure to joyn Submission to God; to resign up our [Page 13] Wills to his, and be not only outwardly silent, but inwardly renconciled to what he has done; and to be heartiful thankful, both for all the Kindnessess he shew'd our departed Friends, and for that vast Num­ber of others he still continues to our selves. These things will not be perform'd as they ought, when Grief grows strong. Whilst it keeps within due bounds, such as suit with the Apprehensions and Hope of Christians, it is what Natural Affection will force from us, and what Religion allows: But when it becomes ungovernable and boisterous in Degrees, or obstinate in Continuance, it is in it self an ill thing, an irresistible Temptation. So that when we do grieve, we must be careful to keep back from all ex­cess, and to do it with moderation. And to temper our Grief, which needs a most watchful care to go­vern and allay it upon these occasions; among those many things that might be suggested, I shall only ob­serve these two; viz. That, when our Friends are truly Religious,

1. We have not the least pretence to be immoderate out of our Love to them, because it is incomparably their Gain. They are translated to a Place of Bliss, where they are infinitely joyful in their own minds, and from whence they would not be removed by any offers: So that we have no colour of Reason to be sad, but the highest Cause to congratulate upon their [Page 14] Accounts; as the Primitive Christians of old, and we still do, for the Death of Saints and Martyrs, the Memorials of whose Death we celebrate with Festi­vals, as the Day of their Birth to an immortal Life. If we have a true and wise Love for our Friends, we shall not only be willing, but glad above all that God should Love them too. And then we must needs be thankful when he shews his Love, and takes them to those Joys, which are the end of all their Hope, and beyond which they can never wish for any more.

2. Nor have we any Reason to be immoderate in bemoaning our own Loss, because we shall go to the same Place, and meet again in time. Our own Loss, indeed, is the only thing that can trouble us, and when we do Grieve and Mourn, it is only in love to our selves. But this is no cause at all to be intemperate, or obstinate in Grief; for it will all be made up again, if we will have a little Patience. They are gone to that Place, whither we all hope to come; so that if we can stay a while, we shall injoy our Friends again. Their departure from the World, is but like mens taking of a Journey, not an utter Loss of Friends▪ but only an absence from them for a small space. And when once that is past, the next meeting shall be in so great, and lasting Joy, as shall infinitely make amends for it. For then our Friends shall be stript of all Humane Frailties, and made absolute in all de­sirable [Page 15] Perfections, which will make them more de­serving of our Love, and dearer to us; and that Love shall never cause Grief and Torment, as it doth now, by a second absence. As we shall be most happy in them, so shall we ever be secure of them; for then there will not be the least Fear, because not the least danger or possibility of parting any more.

And thus I have done with the Explication of the Text, and shewn both who the Righteous are, and what great and comfortable things, when Death comes, they have to hope for.

But hitherto I have only laid down the Rule, and I have still another Work to do, which is, to set it off yet further, in a fair Pattern and Example of it: I mean the Excellent Noble Person now Deceased, the Character of whose Virtues will give Life to all that I have said, and be the best, and most useful thing in all my Ser­mon. She was a great Instance of many Virtues, nay, of some, which are almost lost in Practice, which seem to reign scarce any were but upon mens Tongues, as if they were impracticable Rules, that were never intended to be follow'd and perform'd, but only to be prais'd and talk'd of. And I cannot do more right to those neglected Graces, than to shew the remiss and slothful World they are more than Words, and are real live things, made visible to all in the excellency of her Practice.

[Page 16]God had endow'd her with an excellent Nature, which prevented many of the great Self-denials in Reli­gion, and made it to her a tolerably easie thing. This is an ivaluable Blessing God bestows on some speci­al Favourites, and it was eminent in her. To be uni­versally kind and pleasing, was one of the most Natu­ral things in her Complexion, which made a Religion of Love be imbraced without opposition. And toge­ther with this kindness of Nature, he had bless'd her with much humbleness of Mind, and with a just se­riousness and composure of Spirit, which made her apt for Devotion and wise Counsels, and easie to re­ceive, and retain any good Impressions, which should be stamped upon her.

Together with this Goodness of Nature, as ano­ther Testimony of his singular Grace and Favour, he had provided for her an excellently Virtuous, Wise, and careful Mother; who begun early to cultivate this rich Soyl, and plant the Seeds of Virtue in it, e're the Vices of the World could make their Attempts upon her. She taught her Goodness by plain Rules, and shew'd it to the Life in an admirable and a brave Exam­ple. And her Pattern this prepared Soul knew so well how to prize, that she had chosen it for her own imitation▪ resolving to govern her self by her Mothers Rules, and to fix her eye upon her Noble Virtues, and, as near as she could, to transcribe them in her own Pra­ctice. [Page 17] And this shews a generous liking of Goodness, and promises a great Progress in it, when any Persons aim, so far as they are able, to equal the most accom­plished Saints, and to live up to the Rules of the best Examples.

And to compleat all, when she was deprived of this Blessing, his watchful Care provided a Husband for her, who to the intimacy of his Relation to her as a Wife, the top of worldly Friendships, coveted to add a Nobler Friendship still, that bottom'd upon likeness of Souls and virtuous Grounds, and was de­sign'd to serve the most excellent Purposes of Religi­on, in making each other Better and Wiser, which is the Perfection of the Wisest, and most exalted Friend­ships, betwixt the most endear'd Persons.

Thus liberally had God endow'd this select Soul with Inclinations to Virtue and Goodness, and with Opportunities to ripen and improve them. And had he spared her a longer Life, wherein to imploy the Talents he had given, we may justly expect the Increase would have been in a greater Measure and Proportion. But tho her Race was quickly done (for she dyed in the twenty third year of her Age) yet she had run much in a little time: in her green Years she had attain'd a Maturity in Goodness, and was grown ripe in the true Ends and Art of Living; and the effect of these Advantages was visible in an [Page 18] exemplary, and truly Christian Conversation. To recount all her Virtues, is more than I can pretend to do; they were known only to God, who will reveal them at last to all the World; but for the imitation of those she has left behind her, I shall observe these following.

Her Piety was great towards Almighty God. She knew what Honour and Homage we all owe to him, and was careful to lay out her self upon it. She would converse with him duly in her Closet-retire­ments; and constantly make one to do him Service in the Publick Assemblies, not allowing her self to neglect the Service of God for little Reasons and In­conveniencies, which can keep none back, but those who have too little Zeal for God, and too much sloth­fulness or delicacy of Spirit. And, which shew'd how sincerely she resorted thither, not at all to set off her self, but purely for Pious Ends, at Church she did af­fect plainness of Dress, and would not seek there to re­commend her self to others, no not in the most pub­lick Places, by elaborate Attire and outward adorning; but only to God by the Devotion of her Mind, and the Ornament of an humble and a meek Spirit, (things wherein she is was hardly be equall'd), which in the sight of God, as St. 1 Pet 3. 34. Peter says, are of great Price. She was in a constant Preparation, as all good Souls are, for the Holy Sacrament, and care­ful [Page 19] to embrace all Opportunities of joyning in it: For since I had the Happiness to observe her, she never missed a Communion, but was always one in that highest Instance of Devotion, to offer up the Sacrifice of a Devout Heart, and thankfully acknowledge the Stupendious Love of God, and of our Dearest Saviour to Mankind. Such was the Devotion of this Fair Saint towards Almighty God, which did not come upon her by Fits, but was a settled Habit, that dwelt upon her Spirit. And in all this she shew'd an inward, and hearty Piety, as one that plainly sought to be Good be­tween her self, and him that sees in secret. For her Religion did not seek to shew it self in an affected Out-side, in studied Appearances, in Talk and Noise; but in all the Modesty, Silence, and Gravity, of an hearty and unaffected Godliness. She was Good after the best Fashion, in an inward Reli­gion: Which, tho' it shew'd it self in such Reve­rent and Composed Meen, as naturally flow'd from, and testified a Spirit greatly affected; yet did not appear in any thing, which could seem chosen for Shew or Ostentation.

And as she was thus careful to address to God, so, which is a more real Instance of a governing Piety, could she quietly resign her self to his Will in the hardest Providences, and trust him with any [Page 20] thing. The best Remedy in Afflictions, as she said, was Prayer to God: And when she was tried with them, she found the Effect of it, in an hum­ble, calm, and uncontesting Resignation. And to shew the firm and settled confidence she had fix'd in his Care; when she was surprized with Death, the Sweet Babe she was to leave behind her, she look'd on as so secure in the Custody of Almighty God, and the Care of her Dear Husband, that the Thoughts of it did not in the least trouble her.

As to the Government of her self, and those Vir­tues which were chiefly due to her own Person; she was endow'd with an even Temper, and the Command of her own Inclinations, and Contempt of the World, with Humility, Sincerity, and other Vir­tues, and was a very great Example in them.

She was singularly happy in an even Temper, not violently transported, but only duly affected whatever happened. No Prosperous Accidents could over-joy, nor cross Events unmeasurably di­sturb her. Yea, even in her Bodily Pains she would keep her evenness, and shew nothing of a disturb­ed Spirit, wherein Religion, and the constant Good­ness of her Inclination had lost the Reins; but was wont even then to be pleased with all that was done about her, and to be careful in what she did or said her self to please all.

[Page 21]She had a strange Government of her own Desires and Inclinations, and could command and restrain them almost in any thing. This is a notable In­stance of Religion, the greatest part and hardship whereof lies in denying of our selves, as Sin doth in Self-pleasing. And this the Wisest, and Best Men have still thought, as the most difficult, so the Bravest, and most Noble Undertaking. It is not so illustrious a Point of Mastery, and part of Va­lour in any man to conquer another, as to con­quer his own Passion; and he shews a greater height of Resolution and Bravery that overcomes him­self, than he who subdues a City. And she was a Noble Instance of this Mastery. Indeed, I think, she could deny her self what she pleas'd, and cross any Inclination for a good end, and not be troub­led at it. She was devested of her self, and was a­nothers Good, which is the Character of a Good Person; ready to do any thing for anothers, and to forgo any thing that made for her own satis­faction.

She had a Generous contempt of the World, and tho' she had ever been in the midst of all that could make her value, and be in Love with it, and was in the Spring of her Years, which is an Age most subject to admire it: Yet she kept it still without her, and liv'd above it. She sprung from an Illustrious, [Page 22] Noble Stock; but she was not forward to make known the Honour of her Blood, nor seem'd to prize her self upon it. She shew'd the true Spirit of Nobility; which is, when all others, to keep up Degrees and good Order in the World, do Re­spect and Honour Titles, that they who wear them overlook and despise them, and value themselves only upon what is their own, not what is derived from Ancestors. And as for all the Splendor, and Gratifications of the World; she seem'd generally so indifferent in the pursuit, and so unaffected in the use of them, as plainly shew'd she sat loose from them. Had she lived always in the Eye of worldly Vanities, I think in some measure they would have taken off the mind, either of her, or of any other, from God and better things. But besides this, as for any other Effects, I doubt 'tis hard to find a Person, that might be safelier trusted with them. For as for their being otherwise a Snare, she was so indif­ferent, they could not much have tempted her. And having this contempt of the World, she could easily part with any of the Riches of it for Good and Wise Ends, but not for any others, for she was so much above Shew, and so inclined to solid Good­ness, that her Generosity would not spend it self upon Vanity or Extravagance: But on any Charitable, or Good occasion, she had a Generous Soul, and [Page 23] would both readily, and Liberally contribute. That, indeed, was her hearts delight, and if she valued Money, whereof she shew'd a great Neglect, upon any account, it was for the opportunity and satisfaction of doing good with it.

Humility was her beloved Grace, which she sought of God with earnestness, and which she had at­tain'd to Admiration. She had a strange Modesty in her Nature, which made her conceit meanly of her self, and render'd her very backward to believe any thing in her could deserve Praise, and almost afraid to receive it. She saw too much of emptiness in all those things that puff us up, to be Proud of any of them. She might have been exalted in her own Mind, by reflecting up­on her High Birth, and her great advantages of Estate and Honour. But she had a just estimate of all, and did not think her self the bet­ter or more deserving because she had, nor o­thers the worse because they wanted them. Nay, her great Virtues, which were Solid Goods, did not exalt her in her own Opinion. I think she strove to conceal them from her self: And as for any Ostentation of them abroad; she was so (I had almost said) over-modest, and extreamly nice in that, that one shall not ordinarily see more care in others to shew forth their Goodness, than was in her to hide it.

[Page 24] Sincerity and an undissembling heart, were not only the Religion of her Choice, but the Virtue of her Nature. No Person need be more re­serv'd in any thing, that should be kept a Secret; and none more true, and plain-hearted in what she spoke. She knew not how to act double in any thing, and, indeed, she needed not, having no Thoughts or Ends to conceal and be asham'd of. For she was obliging, without all Designs, and used to harbor no Thoughts of any, but what were good; and pursue no Aims, but what were Honourable and Just: So that whenever she spoke, she might say the Truth, and had no great Temptation to disguise it.

These are some of those Excellencies, which did adorn her self, and were due unto her own Per­son.

And then as for her Carriage towards all the World besides, how truly Christian a Part did she act in that, in a constant kindness, candor, and in­tire easiness of Conversation. In all which, her Life was full of deserv'd Praise to her self, and very useful and instructive unto others, fit to direct the Lives, and excite the Imitation of all those, who had the opportunity to behold it.

She was truly kind, and full of Charity and good Nature to all that conversed with her. Her singular [Page 25] Modesty was a great Restraint to her in takeing Ac­quaintance, and this, perhaps, may be misconstru­ed by some, who have not either the Skill, or Care to discern betwixt distrust of ones self, and neglect of others. But in reality she had both an humble, and a kind heart, prepared to oblige and please all with whom she had to do. She thought no Person was too mean for her to know, and every one she knew, or indeed saw, she was Naturally Courteous and Respective to. Affable, and easie of Access she was to all; and particularly to those, who had any thing to ask of her. And when she was to dispense a Charity, she had, as a Liberal, so a tender Hand, careful not only to supply the Necessity, but, what is a doubling of any Gift, to save the Modesty of the Receiver. For her Favours came so easily and freely from her, and she appear'd to be so pleas'd with them her self, as would not only incourage, but invite a Beggar. She loved to see all Persons pleas'd, and so sparing was she of any thing that might trouble them, that tho' she would be com­passionate, and bear a part in their Sorrows, yet her own should be to her self, and if she could help it, they should seldom bear any in hers. Her Desire was to be easie and obliging unto all, and her Stu­dy, but, indeed, she needed not to study it, to of­fend none. And this Goodness was a settled Tem­per, [Page 26] so firmly rooted in her, that neither outward occurrences, nor bodily indispositions, (which are apt to prevail on others, and must needs tempt her,) made her fretful, and uneasie to those about her; and I think it may be as truly said of her, as it can well be of any, that she was alwaies in good Humour,

She was a Person of extraordinary Candor, in con­struing all that others did, or said. Here, indeed, she excell'd, and, I doubt, is rarely to he parallell'd. She had the Wit to make Interpretations of all sorts, but her Goodness still determined them on the kind side. So that the Good needed not to fear her Censure, and, if they must fall under any, the Faul­ty had much Reason to desire it. Nay, so Christi­anly nice was her Charity in this point, that as she would not make Reflections on others Weaknesses, or say a severe thing her self; so, as has been several times observ'd, she could give no Approbation to it, when others did it. If she did not become their Advocate, in suggesting something in their excuse; she used to rebuke their Accusers by her Silence, or her Countenance. For so truly did she make her Neighbours Concern her own, that she could not ordinarily lend so much as a Smile, to any Ridi­culous, or smart thing, which was said against them.

Thus candid was she in judging, or speaking of [Page 27] what was done, or said by others; and this she was, where one is tempted to be most suspicious, viz. in things which related to her self. For even in them, she could suspect no hurt, because she meant none. She had such a Native Simplicity, and Generous Goodness in her own Breast, that she could not without great Proof, and hardly then too, suspect otherwise of any other Person. Scarce any where shall one finde a Nature more slow to take things ill, and resent Unkindnesses; or that has so great a Memory as hers in other things, and yet is so ve­ry apt, as she was, to forget them.

She was a very easie Person in all Converse, not gi­ven, as I noted, to trouble any with her own Praise, or the Dispraise of others, and evidencing an esteem of every Person but her self. She was too Generous, and good Natured, to scorn any for their Mean­ness; or to deride them for their Folly, and Im­pertinence. Wheresoever she went, her custom was to take all things kindly, finding no faults, and much less speaking of them. She was a very desira­ble Person to be concern'd with, either in confer­ring, or receiving kindnesses: For when others did any thing for her, she thought it was too much; but what she could do for them, she overlooked as if she had done nothing. She expected so little to her self, that she was never apt to take exceptions; [Page 28] and was so humble, innocent, and obliging, that she was in little danger of doing any thing for o­thers to except against. Scarce any thing could anger her, that was done to her, and much less would any thing anger others, that passed from her. So that every one was sure to be at ease, and have nothing to provoke them, whil'st they kept her Company.

She spoke not much, but was of few words; a great Art of keeping Innocence, (especially in an Age that abounds in Censure) under all the Temptati­ons to Discourse, and of having little to Repent of. This, perhaps, some may think, whatever it be of their Virtue and Wisdom, is no Commendation of the Wit and Parts of any Person. But every Wise Man knows, that Understanding consists in Wise and Pertinent, and not in much talking. God had given her a solid Reason, and when she did speak, it was truly Pertinent, and worth the hearing. And during all the time I have had the Happiness to ob­serve her, I do not remember what frivolous, or fond thing I have heard come from her. She could not allow her self to say ill of any, nor could lend a Word, or spare, as I said, so much as a Smile in ap­probation when others did; and therefore when­soever the Faults and Blemishes of Persons was the Topick of Discourse, it was little she had to [Page 29] speak. But tho' her Discourse was the less upon that account, yet I am sure the Example is good, and it was the more innocent and profitable, which makes an abundant amends for it.

In a word, She was a truly excellent, and amiable Person; plentifully indow'd with those Qualities that may gain Love, and with those Virtues which deserve Imitation. And she had this Testimony of her Worth, which shews not only the reality, but the greatness of it; she was not, as too many others are, liked best at first, but still grew higher in esteem, as she was longer and better known. For she had such a Stock of true and solid Goodness, as could not be discovered (especially thro' the Vail her Mo­desty cast before it) till Time drew it out, and still administred matter to those that beheld her, for a new and growing Affection. She envied no Per­sons Condition, but was hugely pleas'd and con­tented in her own. She was a sincere Christian, an Ornament to her Husband, (by whom she was dearly Beloved, and in her Memory highly Ho­nour'd, as she most justly deserv'd it), and an ex­traordinary Blessing to this Family, who do resign­edly submit to it as to what God has order'd, but think the Loss of such a Treasure so great, that in this World they dare not hope to meet with any thing that can repair it.

[Page 30]And what is still the Crown and Glory of all these Perfections, amidst all this, she was, as I hin­ted, so free from Ostentation, and so opposite to any thing that looked like seeking Praise, as nothing in this World ordinarily can be more. She was a Per­son, as of a very great, so, what makes it greater still, of a very conceal'd Goodness. She used Arts to hide her Virtues, and would hardly be brought to acknowledge any thing to her just Praise, and did as truly take pains to avoid the Opinion of be­ing Exeellent in any Endowments, as others do to obtain it. So that she was like the Sun wrapt up in a Cloud, her Rays were cast all inward, and, so far as she could order it, shone only to herself, and to Almighty God. She would, it seems, as far as she was able, be good altogether for his Sake, and seek no worldly Advantage by it: But at the same time she aspried to be great in Goodness, she shunn'd the Reputation of being thought so.

Such were the Virtues, and so considerable were the Attainments of this Pious Soul in Righteousness. And being so well stored in Goodness, it may well be expected she should have her share in Comforts, and, as the Text says, have Hope in her Death. And so, indeed, it was. Her Death was very sudden, suspected by none, nor in all appearance by her self, till she awaked in the Jaws of it, and said she was a [Page 31] Dying. This was very short warning. But tho' it may be sudden, it is never too soon to a Good Christian. A well-spent Life is such a Preparation, that altho' it comes the most unexpected, it can ne­ver take them unprovided, but they may meet it upon any intimation. But this suddenness, tho' it could not indanger the safety, yet was it a mighty Tryal of the clear Conscience, and firm Hopes of this excellent Person. If any thing had stuck upon her, or she had been conscious of any thing to af­fright her; then, no doubt, had been the Time to fear, when the Judge had sent the Summons, and call'd her in to come before him. But, whether from the Applause of a clear Conscience, which, having been hitherto a Faithful Guide, proved now a Com­fort to her; or whether from the intimation of some good Angel, that was come to carry off his Charge (if Angels do then begin a Correspondence, and give kind intimations when a Soul is just leaving the Body, and going to Converse and be Fellow-Citizen with themselves): From which soever of these Causes, I say, it hapned, thus it was, this Happy Soul in that Suprize, had a clear, chearful Confidence, and a foretaste of that Joy and Peace God was preparing for her.

Tho' she knew she was going in haste, she could take time, and spend some of those few minutes [Page 32] she had still remaining, to declare her mind in some Things which she would have ordered. And ob­serving her Nurse that was attending her, to fall a weeping, with an even and undisturb'd Mind she rebuked her, and bid her not to weep for her, for she was going to be Happy, and to be an Angel in Heaven.

And thus I have endeavour'd to give some Ac­count of this Excellent Person, and to lay out some of those Virtues in her, which may bring Honour to God, and the greatest Benefit to our selves, by our Godly Imitation of them. This, tho' to some who knew her not, or who looked not near or long enough upon her to discover a Goodness so silent and secret, it may seem an ample; yet to those who knew her best, perhaps will appear an imper­fect Draught. But I pretend not to give a perfect Description of her. She was of such a modest Good­ness, and her Virtues so industriously conceal'd, that I believe a just account of them is only known to God, and must then only be laid out at large to all the World, when he comes to reward openly what was done in secret. I have only design'd to draw this Fair Saint in such Virtues, as I desire from her Copy to make live things, and to translate into o­thers Practice. For nothing is more instructing to the World, and more like to bring Virtue into Pra­ctise, [Page 33] than to draw it out in the Lives and Acts of Pious Persons. This shews men what they are to do in Religion, and withal that it is a feasible thing; and therein both directs, and excites to Imitation. I am sure there is much to be learn'd in such a Pattern as this is, and as the World has great need, so I hope it will reap some Profit by such Examples.

What further now remains for us, but to preserve the Memory of her Great Virtues always fresh in our Minds, and express the Copy of them in our Practice? For this is the best way of remembring the Dead, which brings in most Advantage to our selves, and most Honour to them, to imitate what was good in them; when the Piety, and Humili­ty, and Justice, and Charity, and other Virtues of the Dead, are kept alive, and shewn in the Con­versation of the living. It is only these Virtues which carried those who are gone, and which can carry us too in the end to a joyful Resurrection. Where­to in thy due Time, do thou, O! Blessed God, in thine abundant Goodness bring us all for Christ his sake. Amen.

FINIS.

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