Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small]

either apostatize from the true Religion into Paganifm and Idolatrous Worship, or elfe they muft lofe all their Temporal Advantages, Offices and Preferments, and fuffer a moft cruel and painful Death. This was a perplexing Cafe. But their Religion is dearer to them than their Lives, and all their richelt Earthly Enjoyments. No Honours or Plea fures can allure them; no Difgrace or Torment can affright them into the obeying the King's Command, in a Matter fo manifeftly contrary to the Commands of God. They knew their Duty, and refolv'd to adhere to it, whatever they fuffer'd, tho' they were forc'd to exchange the prefent Accommodations the King'sBounty had given them, for the devouring Flames to which his Wrath condemn'd them.

1

[ocr errors]

"

The like noble Contempt of Earthly Grandeur, and of Life itself, appear'd in Daniel, who being afterwards Prime Minister of State, in the Reign of Darius, regarded not the fevere and irrevocable Decree of the King, when it, forbad his Devotion to God under the most difmal Penalty. For notwithstanding that impious and cruel Edit was fealed according to the Law of the Medes and Perfians, he went into bis Houfe, and his Windows being open in his Chamber to mards Jerufalem, he kneeled upon his Knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as be did afore-time. Neither the Allurements of the Court, nor the Malice of his Euemies, nor the irrefiftible Sanction of the bloody Edict, nor the inevitable Terrors of the hungry Lions, were of fufficient Force to divert Daniel from the publick and folemn Performance of what he thought his necessary Duty.

T

I might likewife give Inftances, out of the New Teftament of divers eminent Perfons, in whom Wealth and Honour were accompanied with true Piety and fincere Religion. Such was the Nobleman mention' in John 4. 46. fuppos'd to be an Officer in

&

the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the Court of Herod the Tetrarch, who believ'd in Chrift, together with his whole House, ver. 53. Such was that noble and generous Lady, Joanna the Wife of Chufa, King Herod's Steward,, who was one of thofe pious Women that miniftred unto Chrift of their' Subftance, Luk. 8. 3. Such alfo, as 'tis credibly fuppos'd, was Chuza himfelf; whofe Wife could hardly have been fo Liberal to our Saviour, if he had not confented to it. Neither was he an ordinary Stew ard, but rather Procurator, or Deputy-Governor, under Herod of the whole Tetrarchy; as the Word

iTeros in the Opinion of good Commentators feems to import. Such were Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews; Jofeph of Arimathea, a rich and honourable Counsellor the most excellent Theophilus, to whom St. Luke dedicated his Gofpel, and the Acts of the Apoftles; the Ethiopian Eunuch, who was LordTreafurer to Queen Candace, and inftructed and Baptiz'd by Philip, Acts 8. 27. Sergius Paulus, Proconful, or Pro-pretor of the Ifland Cyprus, and converted by Barnabas and Saul, Acts 13. 12. the Grecian Ladies converted at Berea by Paul and Silas, A&s 17.12. Dionyfius the Areopagite, A&s 17. 34. Such alfo were divers noble Chriftians in the very Family of the Emperor Nero, who were Saints as well as Courtiers, Philip. 4. 22.

Fil

But left it fhould be objected, that most of thefe Examples, collected out of the facred Records, were fuch extraordinary Perfons as had more than common Affiftance from God, I will, in the next place, fet before my Readers, the excellent Patterns of di vers young Princes, Noblemen,. Gentlemen and Ladies, in thefe laft Ages, who (notwithstanding the Temptations to which thofe of their Rank are liable) have been truly and fincerely, and moft of 'em eminently Religious. Not to ranfack foreign Hifto ries, I will content myfelf to give fome choice Instances of this fort, which our own Nation hath pro

duc'd

duc'd. And most of them fhall be fuch, as not only fhew the Poffibility of overcoming thofe Obstacles of Piety, which Wealth and Honour generally create, but are also not a little inftructive in the manner of doing it, and highly worthy of Imitation.

To begin with King Edward the Sixth. During the Life of his Father, in the midst of all the Pomp and Splendor, Riches and Pleafures, with which the Heir of fo great a Crown must be unavoidably furrounded, he gave (as our* Hiftorians tell us) many early Indications, not only of a good Difpofition to Learning, but also of a wonderful Probity of Mind, and above all, of great Refpect to Religion, and every thing relating to it: So that when he was once in one of his childish Diverfions, fomewhat being to be reach'd at, that he and his Companions were too low for, one of them laid on the Floar a great Bible that was in the Room to step on, which he beholding with Indignation, took up the Bible himself, and gave over his Play for that time.

He began his Reign in the Ninth Year of his Age, almost as early as the pious Jofiah, whofe Example he exactly imitated in his earnest Endeavours for the Advancement of the true Worship and Service of God, and the Suppreffion and Extirpation of all Idolatry, Superftition, Profanenefs, and other Abuses; infomuch that when the Emperor of Germany demanded by his Ambaffador, that he would permit the Lady Mary, his Sifter, to have Mafs faid in her Houfe; he refus'd to allow thereof, looking upon it to be Impious and Idolatrous. And when the Council fent Arch-bishop Cranmer, and Bishop Ridley, to intreat him upon fome politick Confiderations, and for the preventing of greater Mifchief, to grant the fame, tho' he was at length overcome by their Perfuafions, yet he could not refrain from Tears, ex

treamly

*See Bp.Burnet's Hiftory of the Reformation, Part 2.

[ocr errors]

treamly lamenting his Sifter's Obftinacy in her grofs Errors and Superftition. During all his feven Years Reign he had a great Regard to Juftice, and was tender and compaffionate in a high measure; fo that he was much against the taking away the Lives of Hereticks. His Care of the Suits of poor Persons was extraordinary, and he gave Dr. Cox fpecial Charge to fee their Petitions fpeedily answer'd, But above all things, he fhew'd his Zeal for true Piety, being very conftant in religious Duties, moft devout at Prayers, most attentive at Sermons, and taking Notes of fuch things as more fpecially concern'd himself.

In the whole Courfe of his Sickness, which lafted feveral Months before it carry'd him off, he exprefs'd great Submiffion to the Will of God. And when Bishop Ridley preach'd before him, and took occafion to difcourfe on the Works of Charity, and the Obligation that lay on Men of high Condition to be eminent in fuch good Works. This touch'd the King to the Quick; fo that presently after Sermon he fent for the Bishop. And after he had commanded him to fit down by him, he refum'd most of the Heads of the Sermon, looking on himself as chiefly concern'd therein, and defiring him, as he had already given him the Exhortation in general, fo to direct him how to do his Duty in particular. The Bishop, aftonish'd to fee fuch Tenderness in fo young a Prince, burft forth in Tears of Joy, and with the King's Confent, confulting with the Lord-Mayor, and Court of Aldermen, how the Poor fhould be reliev'd; his Majefty thereupon order'd the Gray-Friars Church near Newgate, with the Revenues belonging to it, to be a House for Orphans; St. Bartholomews near Smithfield to be an Hofpital; and gave his own House of Bridewell to be a Place of Correction and Work for fuch as were Idle. He alfo confirm'd and enlarg'd the Grant for the Hofpital of St. Thomas in Southwark,

Southwark, which he had before Erected and Endow'd.

1

He feem'd glad at the Approaches of his Diffolution; only the Confideration of Religion and the Church affected him much, and upon that account he faid he was defirous of Life. And when his Spirits and Body were fo funk that he found Death very hear, being moft willing to exchange his Earthly Crown for the Glory and Happinefs of Heaven, he moft folemnly and devoutly compos'd himself for his Departure. His whole Exercife was in fhort Prayers, and Ejaculations moft fincerely and fervently offer'd up to God, hardly intermitting them under the Pangs of Death, until he breath'd out his innocent Soul.

3

x

$

1. My fecond Example of the happy Union of Goodnefs and Greatnefs, Princely Dignity, and Eminent, as well as Early Piety, fhall be that of Queen Eliza beth, the Sifter of Edward the Sixth. In her very Childhood, being three Years older than her Brother the Prince, and admitted to keep company with him, fhe us'd in her pretty Language to teach and direct him in the Principles of Religion, and Rules of Morality. By which Converfe together, and the Agreeableness of their ingenious and pregnant Difpofitions, there grew an intire and cordial Affection between this Royal Brother and Sifter. They had both of them the fame Preceptors, and were both equally defirous to look into Books as foon as they knew any thing, and equally admir'd for their forward Proficiency. Their firft Hours were spent in Prayers, and other religious Exercifes, either reading fome Hiftorical Pallages in the facred Volumes, or hearing fome Expofition of the Chriftian Doctrin. The rest of the Morhing they were inftructed in fome Language or Science, or Moral Precepts. They began with God, who blefs'd the Inftitution of their tender Years with fuch Improvements, as were be

2

yond

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »