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"Domeftick Servants of the King of Heaven fhould "be of the nobleft Families on Earth; and tho' the "Iniquity of the Times has made Clergy-men mean"ly valu'd, and the facred Name of Prieft contemp"tible; yet I will labour to make it honourable, by "confecrating all my Learning, and all my poor "Abilities to the Advancement of the Glory of that "God that gave them, &c.
This Refolution he continu'd in: For he was shortly after made Deacon, and alfo Prebendary of Layton Ecclefia, in the Diocefs of Lincoln, by the Bishop of that See; where he fhew'd his great Piety and Bounty in Rebuilding the Church there, partly with large Sums of his own, and partly by the Contribution of his Kindred, and other noble Friends. He was restlefs till he had finifh'd this Church, which he made a beautiful and coftly Mofaick Fabrick, in the Form of a Crofs. The Reading-Pew and Pulpit were order'd by him, to be a little diftant from each other, and both of the fame Height, because he thought Prayer and Preaching equally useful, and equally worthy of Honour and Eftimation.
A fuitable Match having been propos'd for him, and for foine time tranfacted, as well as much defir'd, by Friends to both Parties, before they had feen each other; he was very fuddenly Married, after an Interview of three Days, to Mrs. Jane Danvers, one of the Daughters of Charles Danvers of Bainton, in Wilts, Efq; a near Kinfman of the Earl of Danby. She prov'd a most excellent and agreeable Wife; and the Prudence, Piety and fweet Temper of them both, made them fo happy in their mutual Affections, that there never was any Oppofition betwixt them, unless it were a Conteft, which fhould most incline to a Compliance with the other's Defires.
About three Months after his Marriage, a Prefentation to the Rectory of Bemerton, near Sarum, was procur'd for him by the Earl of Pembroke, from King
Charles the First, who had the Difpofal of it for that Turn. But tho' Mr. Herbert had formerly taken up a Refolution for the Clergy, yet at receiving this Presentation, the Apprehenfion of the laft great Account he was to give for the Cure of fo many Souls, made him Fast and Pray often, and confider much for the space of a Month, not without fome Intentions of declining both the Priesthood, and that Living. And tho' he went to Wilton to thank the Earl for his Presentation, he was ftill unrefolv'd to accept it; but Dr. Land, then Bishop of London, being there, did at length convince him of the Evil of refufing fo fair an Opportunity of doing Service to God and his Church; and he was thereupon inducted into the Parfonage of Remerton, about the 35th Year of his Age.
It is not confiftent with my designed Brevity, to relate here the many Inftances of the great Sanctity of the short Remainder of his Life: "A Life! (fays "Mr. Walton) fo full of Charity, Humility, and all "Christian Virtues, that it deferves the Eloquence "of St. Chryfoftom to commend and declare it. A "Life! that if it were related by a Pen like his, "there would be no need to look back to Times past "for the Examples of Primitive Piety; for they "might be all found in Mr. George Herbert.
When at his Induction he was fhut into Bemerton Church, being left there alone to take Poffeffion by Tolling the Bell (as the Cuftom is) he ftaid in it fo much longer than ordinary before he return'd, that his Friend Mr. Woodnot look'd in at the Church-Win dow, and faw him lie proftrate on the Ground be fore the Altar: At which Time and Place (as he af ter told his Friend) he fet fome Rules to himself for the future Manage of his Life; and made a Vow to labour to keep them. The fame Day he said to Mr. Woodnot, "I now look back upon my afpiring "Thoughts, and reckon my felf more happy, than
"if I had attain'd what I fo ambitiously thirfted for. "I can now behold the Court with an impartial Eye, "and fee plainly that it is made up of Fraud, and "Titles, and Flattery, and many empty imaginary "Pleafures: Pleafures fo empty, as not to fatisfy "when they are enjoy'd; but in God and his Ser"vice is a Fulnefs of all Joy and Pleafure, and no "Satiety I will now use all my Endeavours to bring CL my Relations and Dependents to a Love and Reli66 ance on him, who never fails thofe that truft him. "But above all, I will be fure to live well, because
the virtuous Life of a Clergy-man is the most "powerful Eloquence to perfuade all that fee it, to c reverence and love, and at least to defire to live "like him. And I befeech that God, who hath ho"nour'd me fo much, as to call me to ferve him at "his Altar; that as by his fpecial Grace he hath put "into my Heart these good Defires and Refolutions, "fo he will by his aflifting Grace give me ghoftly "Strength to bring the fame to good Effect, that my
humble and charitable Life may fo win upon others, СС as to bring Glory to my JESUS, whom I have this Day taken to be my Mafter and Governor."And I will contemn my Birth, or any Title or "Dignity that can be conferr'd upon me, when I "fhall compare them with my Title of being a Priest, "and the ferving of Jefus my Master.
That these were his real Sentiments and Purposes, may appear in many Parts of his Book of Sacred Poems, efpecially in thofe which he calls the Odour, and the Pearl. And that he might the better keep in mind those holy Rules, which fuch a Priest as he intended to be, ought to obferve, he fet them down in that Order as the World now fees them printed in a little Book, call'd the Country Parfon which was wrote for his own private Ufe, but was publish'd after his Death by Mr. Barnabas Oly."
Many other remarkable Paffages of his moft plous Life may be met with in the large Account given of them by Mr. Walton, unto which I refer my Readers.
In his laft Sickness he was with much Refpect and Affection often vifited by the Bishop and Prebendaries of Sarum, and by all the Clergy that liv'd near him. His Wife, and three Neeces, and his Friend Mr. Woodnot, were, with Grief and Sadness, the continual Witneffes of his daily Decay ; to whom he would often fpeak to this purpose:
"I now look back upon the Plea fures of my Life, "and fee the Content I have taken in Beauty, in Wit, "in Mufick, and pleafant Converfation, are now all "paft by me, like a Dream, or as a Shadow that reLC turns not; and are all now become Dead to me, or "I to them. I fee, that as my Father and Generati(c on hath done before me, so I also shall now fudden
ly (with Job) make my Bed in the dark. I praise "God I am prepar'd for it; I praise him that I am 66 not to learn Patience now I ftand in fuch need of "L it, and that I have practis'd Mortification, and en"deavour'd to die daily, that I might not die eter"nally. My Hope is, that I fhall fhortly leave this Valley of Tears, and be free from all Fevers and "Pain; and which will be a more happy Condition, "I fhall be free from Sin, and all the Temptations "and Anxieties that attend it; and this being paft,
I fhall dwell in the New Jerufalem, dwell there "with Men made perfect; dwell where thefe Eyes "fhall fee my Mafter and Saviour Jefus, and with "him fee my dear Mother, and my Relations and "FriendsBut I muft die, or not come to that
happy Place.Thefe, and the like Expreffions, which he utter'd often, may be said to be his Enjoy-* ment of Heaven, before he enjoy'd it....
On the Day of his Death he spoke thus to Mr. Woodnot," My dear Friend, I am forry I have no"thing to prefent to my merciful God but Sin and "Mifery; but the first is pardon'd, and a few Hours "will now put a Period to the latter; for I fhall fud"denly go hence and be no more feen. Upon which Expreffion Mr. Woodnot took occafion to remember him of the Re-edifying Layton Church, and his many A&ts of Mercy; to which he made Answer, faying, They be good Works, if they be fprinkled with the Blood of Chrift, and not otherwife. After this Difcourse he became more restlefs, and his Soul feem'd to be weary of her Earthly Tabernacle. He breath'd faintly with much Trouble, and was observ'd to fall into a fudden Agony, which made his Wife, in a fad Surprize, paffionately ask him, How he did? To which his AnIwer was, That he had past a Conflict with his last Enemy, and had overcome him by the Merits of his Master Fefus.
His laft Words were thefe: I am now ready to Die. Lord forfake me not now my Strength faileth me; but grant me Mercy for the Merits of my fefus: And now Lord, Lord now receive my Soul.
My next Example of a Gentleman, whofe Religion and Morals were not corrupted, but improved and advanced by his Wealth and Greatnefs, fhall be Sir Nathaniel Barnardifton, who lived in the Reigns of King James the First, and King Charles the Firft; and was five times chofen Knight of the Shire for Suffolk, and once Burgefs for Sudbury. The Antiquity of his Family, and the Honour of his Birth, were raised higher by his fecond Birth, and his early Converfion, the immortal Seed of Regeneration fpringing up in his pious and virtuous Actions, when he was at School, the very Time when too many of his Rank give up themselves to vain Pleafures.