« AnteriorContinuar »
Efteem and the Affections of thofe with whom he Converfed. In his laft Sickness, being well prepared for his Diffolution, he often faid, He feared not Death in what foever Shape it came. And when it fenfibly approached, he profeffed that he ftill felt the most affured Comforts and Joys, at the nearness of his Salvation by Jefus Chrift. His laft Breath expired with thofe longing and rapturous Expreffions, O that Joy! O my God, when fhall I be with thee! Thus in the midst of thefe Heavenly Defires and Bleffed Exercises of that Faith and Hope, which were fo fuddenly to be turned into a perfect Fruition, he sweetly and moft Willingly refigned up his Spirit to the Father of Spirits; Anno Dom. 1613. and of his Age 22.
Another bright Example of fevere Vertue in the Vigour of Youth, and great Piety, in the midst of Earthly Grandeur, was the Right Honourable Simon, Lord Digby, who died at Coles-bill in Warwickshire, Jan. 19. 1685. As no part of his Eftate was made to ferve either Pride or Luxury; fo every part of his fhort Life, fo far as it has been tranfmitted to our Knowledge, will be Jafting Credit to an holy Religion; for the Intereft, and Support whereof, all the Power he had by his Rank and Quality in the World, was very early and most fincerely employed. I fhall extract fome memorable Remarks from the larger Defcription given of him by Mr. Kettlewell in the Sermon he preached on Occafion of the Death of this truly Noble Lord.
The clearness of his Apprehenfion, and the ftrength of his Reason, joyned with a Temper fedate and calm, free to hear, and patient to confider what was offered to him, together with a quick Sagacity to direct his Thoughts to the very Mark, where the ftress lay in any Point, and a well poiz'd Judgment to discern the value and weight of every Thing, were great Advantages, not only for his difcovery of Truth and Right, and the general Conduct of his Sentiments and Acti
ons, but alfo for the particular managing those two often abused Talents of Wealth and Honour, in fuch a manner as might bring most Honour to God, most Comfort to himself, and moft Good to other Men. Religion was the height of all his Aims, wherein he earnestly endeavoured to make the greatest Proficiency at Home, and which he zealously fought to propagate Abroad. His Confcience was tenderly impreffive, and foon touch'd with any thing that had true Goodness in it; but yet happily freed from perplexing Doubts and Scruples, by the ftudious Care he took to get clear and diftin&t Notions in matters of Duty, and all Cafes that concerned him. It was indeed the Sum of all his Prayers, Studies, and Labours to have an entire regard to every one of the Divine Commandments. And that he might keep up a conftant Senfe of his Weakness and Failings, for the future preventing and avoiding them, he took daily Accounts of his daily Practife, befides what he did with more Solemnity and Exactness, at certain fet times. In which Examinations of himself he had particular refpect, not only to the generally confeffed, and moft weighty Duties, but alfo to fuch others, as tho' they be equally injoyned, yet in the Practice, and too often in the Opinion of the World, are very little valued. He Judged himself even for his vain Thoughts. and unwary Speeches, and for every Omiffion, to difcourage an ill thing, and embrace a good one. Such Errors or Neglects, as well as greater Sins, being obferved in himself, he not only confeffed to God, but made it his ferious care to amend them, and to prevent the like again. This was his daily Employment, and this holy Art he affiduously ftudied, as one who greatly defired to be expert in it. For this end he drew up a Scheme of all particular Duties in a fhort compafs, that by the frequent perufal thereof, they might the more easily be inured to his Thoughts, and not flip out of his Memory, when they fhould be put in Practice. He likewise
had all the Sins he needed to confefs, and the Graces he was to beg of God, fet down as particularly as might be in his daily Devotions; that his Prayers to God might be Inftructions to himself; that his Confeffions of Sin might fhew him what he was to fhun, and his Petitions for Grace be Monitors of what he was to perform.
Having taken this Method to maintain in himself a prefent lively Senfe of all Duties, his next Care was to ftudy, what were the most expedite and useful Rules of practising them; which after he had wifely chofen, he was no lefs careful to obferve. These Rules, with the Sins, which by Nature, or Custom, or the Temptations incident to his high Station, he was most expos'd to, and which they were defign'd to cure, he fet down in Writing. And that both his Dangers, and his Remedies, might be kept fresh upon his Mind, he had two fixt Days in every Week to perufe and confider them, that if he found he had forgot himself, he might return to his former Guard and Circumfpection. Such were his fagacious Forethoughts, and well-advis'd Contrivances, how to caTry on good Motions; how to prevent Surprizes; or, when at any time he fell, how to recover himself by an immediate Repentance; how to prepare for the Temptations of any Day, or Bufinefs; how to maintain a confant Liveliness of Heavenly Affections, by fending up Divine Breathings and Ejaculations, not only every Day, but almost every Hour, more or less. So that Self-Reflection and Self-Government was as truly his daily Business, as fome Mens Trades, others Vices, and the Vanities and Diverfions of a third fort are theirs.
Such was his Care of Good Living in general, but his Example is highly worthy to be further prefented to the Reader's View and pious Imitation, in fome Particulars.
He had a profound Veneration for Almighty God, and a fingular Love for Religion,which without the Extremes either of Fear or Affectation, he would openly profefs and own, in a licentious and profane Age, that thought fuch Pretences to Godliness did bewray either Hypocrify, or Pufillanimity, or want of Politeness. He was deeply affected with a compaffiona te Senfe of the Difficulties and Temptations which attend Men of Quality, thro' the World's adopting many wicked Practices into Rules of Good Breeding; and fixing fuch things into Laws of Honour, as are not only an open Breach of the plaineft and moft important Precepts of Religion, but the groffeft Abfurdities to any fober Reafon and common Discretion. Against thefe having wifely prepar'd his own Mind, where he could, he was glad to convince and ftrengthen others; and where he could not, he pity'd and lamented their unhappy Errors. To bring his Friends to the fincere Love of Piety and Virtue, he would follow them with good Counfels, no lefs difcretely than earnestly, at fuch proper Times when he thought they would make the beft Impreffion. While he was in Health, he endeavour'd to prevail with them, from the cogent Reafon of things, and from the more affecting Argument of his own Experience. And in his laft Sickness he ftill urg'd them by his repeated Advice and Importunities, and by the most affectionate Mellages and Dying Intreaties. Where he had Hopes of inducing Men to a ferious and powerful Senfe of Religion, he would ftoop to any thing, and fometimes make himfelf a Companion of mean Perfons, not only fending Books or Inftructors to them, but becoming a Preacher to them himself in his own Perfonal Addreffes. And as for his Servants and Dependants, over whom he knew he had a particular Influence, he was more especially careful, that they should both underftand and practife their Duty in all the Parts of God's Worship, both in private
and in publick, being refolv'd, fo far as either his Perfuafions, Example, or Authority would prevail with them, That they who ferv'd him, fhould fear and ferve his Lord and Mafter too.
His Prayers and Devotions, as well at Church as in his Clofet, were efleem'd by him as the very vital Breath of his Soul, without which all Divine Life would be extinguifh'd. He was a conftant Frequenter of the House of God, and fo defirous to bring others to it, that when for the Convenience of his Family he has on any Festival had the Prayers read at home, to induce others by his Example, he has feveral times gone prefently after to Church, to hear them there again; and he was always careful to come to the Beginning of the Service, that he might lofe no Part thereof. To prepare himself for the Holy Communion, he was laborious in Recollection, and much in Devotion; but yet fo far from thinking the Returns thereof to be a Burden, that he feveral times defir'd they might be more often. All the while he was at Church, and in all the facred Offices there perform'd, his Behaviour was moft Compos'd, Reverent and Grave, fuch as testify'd a Mind duly fenfible that there he was, in the more efpecial Prefence of God, adoring his Maker, and negotiating Affairs of greateft Moment. And for the decent Signification of the Submiffion of his Spirit, and his awful Apprehenfions of the Divine Majefty, he us'd the most humble and refpectful Poftures, Praying always upon his Knees.
Such was his religious Behaviour towards God. And as for his Carriage among Men, it was fuch as became a Heart fo piously affected. The Temperance of this Noble Lord was very remarkable. His Quality and Fortune could have abundantly fupply'd him with all forts of Provifions to gratify and carefs every Senfe, and every Appetite; but in the midst of all thefe he chofe rather to deny himself, and triumph over them. The Power of abftaining from what