Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

engaged against Mr. Travers, Mr. Cartwright, and others of their judgment in a controversy too like Dr. Saravia's; so that in this year of 1595, and in this place of Bishop's-Borne, these two excellent persons began a holy friendship, increasing daily to so high and mutual affections, that their two wills seemed to be but one and the same; and designs both for the glory of God, and peace of the church ; still assisting and improving each other's virtues, and the desired comforts of a peaceable piety; which I have willingly mentioned, because it gives a foundation to some things that follow.

This parsonage of Borne is from Canterbury three miles, and near to the common road that leads from that city to Dover ; in which parsonage Mr. Hooker had not been twelve months, but his books, and the innocency and fanctity of his life became so remarkable, that many turned out of the road, and others (scholars especially) went purposely to see the man, whose life and learning were so much admired; and alas ! as our Saviour faid of St. John Baptist, “ What went they out to see a man clothed in purple and “ fine linen ?" No, indeed; but an obscure harmless man ; a man in poor clothes, his loins usually girt in a coarse gown, or canonical coat; of a mean stature, and stooping, and yet more lowly in the thoughts of his soul: his body worn out, not with age, but study and holy mortifications ; his face full of heat-pimples, begot by his inactivity and sedentary life". And to this true character of his person, let me add this of his disposition and behaviour ; God and nature blessed him with so blessed a bashfulness, that as in his younger days his pupils might easily look him out of countenance; so neither then, nor in his age, did he ever willingly look any man in the face ; and was of so mild and humble a nature, that his poor parishclerk and he did never talk but with both their hats on, or both off, at the same time'; and to this may be added, that though he was not purblind;

yet

When Justus Lipsius had acquired great literary reputation, not by his elegant Latinity, for his style is full of affectation, novelty, and conceit, but by his vast and extensive erudition, several foreigriers came from distant countries to visit him. They were much disappointed at feeing him a plain man, mean in his behaviour, dress, and conversation. (Bayle's Dictionary.)

i The strongest adamant that draws our reverence and love to this excellent man is his humility. He banished from his bosom every appearance of that pride which is invariably inconsistent with the virtuous character.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

yet he was short or weak-fighted; and where he fixed his eyes at the beginning of his sermon, there they continued till, it was ended; and the reader has a liberty to believe that his modesty and dim-sight were some of the reasons why he trusted Mrs. Churchman to choose a wife for him.

This parish-clerk lived till the third or fourth year of the late Long Parliament; betwixt which time and Mr. Hooker's death, there had come many to see the place of his burial, and the monument dedicated to his memory by Sir William Cooper (who still lives); and the poor clerk had many rewards for Thewing Mr. Hooker's grave-place and his said monument, and did always hear Mr. Hooker mentioned with commendations and reverence; to all which he added his own knowledge and observations of his humility and holiness : in all which discourses the poor man was ftill more confirmed in his opinion of Mr. Hooker's virtues and learning ; but it so fell out, that about the said third or fourth year of the Long Parliament", the present parfon of Borne was sequestered (you may guess why), and a Genevian minister put into his good living. This, and other like fequestrations, made the clerk express himself in a wonder, and say, “ They “ had sequestered so many good men, that he doubted if his good master, * Mr. Hooker, had lived till now, they would have sequestered him too."

It was not long before this intruding minister had made a party in and about the said parish, that were desirous to receive the facrament as in Geneva; to which end the day was appointed for a select company, and forms and stools set about the altar or communion-table for them to fit and eat and drink; but when they went about this work, there was a want of some joint-stools, which the minister sent the clerk to fetch, and then to fetch cushions. When the clerk saw them begin to sit down, he began to wonder ; but the minister bade him “cease wondering and lock the church“ door:” To whom he replied, “ Pray, take you the keys and lock me out, Rr

“ I will

* « Of those great and wise men who composed this Parliament of 1641, and greater and wiser, or more of them at one time, England never saw.” (Preface to the first edition of the Confessional, p. xxviii.)

Thus has the author of “ The Confesional" characterised that Parliament, which involved three enslaved kingdoms in confusion and ruin; which, under the vain pretence of reformation, destroyed one of the best of our kings, and laid waste the church of England ; that church, which under God hath been long the ornament and support of the Protestant religion.

“ I will never come more into this church; for all men will say my Master “ Hooker was a good man and a good scholar, and I am sure it was not “ used to be thus in his days:” And report says, the old man went prefently home and died; I do not say died immediately, but within a few. days after'.

But let us leave this grateful clerk in his quiet grave, and return to Mr: Hooker himself, continuing our observations of his Christian behaviour in this place, where he gave a holy valediction to all the pleasures and allurements of earth; possessing his soul in a virtuous quietness, which he maintained by constant study, prayers, and meditations : his use was to preach once every Sunday, and he or his curate to catechise after the second lesson in the evening prayer. His sermons were neither long nor earnest, but uttered with a grave zeal and a humble voice: his eyes always fixed on one place", to prevent his imagination from wandering; insomuch that he seemed to study as he spake. The design of his sermons (as indeed of all his discourses) was to shew reasons for what he spake ; and with these reasons such a kind of rhetoric, as did rather convince and persuade, than frighten men into piety : studying not so much for matter (which he never wanted), as for apt illustrations to inform and teach his unlearned hearers by familiar examples, and then make them better by convincing applications ; never labouring by hard words, and then by needless distinctions and sub-distinctions to amuse his hearers and get glory to himself, but glory.

only

i Our biographer has lamented that it was not in his power to recover the name of Mr. Hooker's worthy schoolmaster. That of his grateful parish-clerk was Sampson Horton. It appears from the parish-register of Bishop's-Borne, that “ Sampson Horton was buried the “ gth of May 1648, an aged man, who had bin clarke to this pith, by his own relation, " threescore yeares."

m-« He was,” says Dr. Gauden,“ so confident of the sacred power and efficacy of the matter he delivered, that he thought it needed no great setting off: This made him so far from any life in his looks, gestures, or pronunciations, that he preached like a living but scarce moving ftatue, his eyes steadfastly fixed on the same place from the beginning to the end of his sermons, his body unmoved, his tone much to an unison, and very unemphatic; so variously doth God. distribute his gifts.(Life of Hooker, p. 30.).

[ocr errors]

cnly to God. Which intention, he would often fay," was as discernible “in a preacher, as an artificial from a natural beauty.”

He never failed the Sunday before every Ember-week to give notice of it to his parishioners, persuading them both to fast, and then to double their devotions for a learned and pious clergy, but especially for the last; faying often, “that the life of a pious clergyman was visible rhetoric, and “ so convincing that the most godless men (though they would not deny " themselves the enjoyment of their present lufts) did yet secretly wish “ themselves like those of the strictest lives.” And to what he persuaded others, he added his own example of fasting and prayer; and did usually, every Ember-week, take from the parish-clerk the key of the church-door, into which place he retired every day, and locked himself up for many hours; and did the like most Fridays, and other days of fasting. Rr2

He

In the printed Termons of Mr. Hooker there are, indeed, many instances of just and ani-, mated application. In his discourse on “ the Certainty and Perpetuity of Faith in the Elect,” there are few who will not admire the following paffage : “ It was not the meaning of our ** Lord and Saviour in saying, Father, keep them in thy name, that we should be careless to s keep ourselves. To our own safety our own fedulity is required. And then blessed for " ever and ever be that mother's child whose faith hath made him the child of God. The “ earth may shake, the pillars of the world may tremble under us; the countenance of heaven “ may be appalled, the sun may lose his light, the moon her beauty, the stars their glory; “ but concerning the man that trusted in God, if the fire have proclaimed itself unable as “ much as to finge a hair of his head ; if lions, beasts ravenous by nature and keen with hun“ ger, being set to devour, have, as it were, religiously adored the very flesh of the faithful “ man; what is there in the world that shall change his heart, overthrow his faith, alter his « affection towards God or the affection of God to him ? If I be of this note, who shall make 6 a separation between me and my God? Shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, " or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? No: I am persuaded, that neither tribulation, nor anguish, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor (word, nor death, nor life, nor angels, nor a principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, rror depth, nor any other creature, small ever prevail so far over me : I know in whom I have believed; I am not ignorant “ whose precious blood hath been shed for me; I have a shepherd full of kindness, full of care, « and full of power; unto him I commit myself; his own finger hath engraven this sentence « on the tables of my heart. Satan hath desired to winnow thee as wheat, but I have prayed that us thy faith fail not: therefore the assurance of my hope I will labour to keep as a jewel, u unto the end ; and by labour, through the gracious mediation of his prayer, I shall keep it."

He would by no means omit the customary time of procession, perfuading all, both rich and poor, if they desired the preservation of love, and their parish-rights and liberties, to accompany him in his perambulation; and most did fo: in which perambulation, he would usually express more pleasant discourse than at other times, and would then always drop some loving and facetious observations to be remembered against the next year, especially by the boys and young people; still inclining them, and all his present parishioners, to meekness and mutual kindnesses and love; because “Love thinks not evil, but covers a multitude of infirmities.”

He was diligent to inquire who of his parishi were sick, or any way distressed, and would often visit them unsent for ; supposing that the fittest time to discover those errors, to which health and prosperity had blinded them. And having, by pious reasons and prayers, moulded them into holy resolutions for the time to come, he would incline them to confeffion, and bewailing their fins, with purpose to forsake them, and then to receive the communion, both as a strengthening of those holy resolutions; and as a seal betwixt God and them of his mercies to their souls, in case that present: sickness did put a period to their lives.

And as he was thus watchful and charitable to the sick, so he was dili-. gent to prevent law-suits, still urging his parishioners and neighbours to:

ear with each other's infirmities, and live in love, because (as St. John says) “ he that lives in love lives in God; for God is love." And to maintain this holy fire of love, constantly burning on the altar of a pure heart, his, advice was to watch and pray, and always keep themselves fit to receive : the communion, and then to receive it often : for it was both a confirming: and a strengthening of their graces. This was his advice, and at his en-. trance or departure out of any house, he would usually speak to the whole :

family,

• It was among the injunctions given by Queen Elizabeth in 1559, on the abolition of those ceremonies, which attended the Popish processions, “that the parishioners shall once in the “ year, at the time accustomed, with the curate and the substantial men of the parish, walke, about the parishes as they were accustomed, and at their returne to the church make their com-. “mon prayers.” Many reasons concur to evince the necessity of reviving the custom of holding these perambulations frequently and regularly. See in “ The Book of Homilies,” p. 314 (Oxford edit. 1683), an exhortation to be spoken to such parishes where they use their perambulation in Rogation-week for the overlight of the bounds and limits of their town.

« AnteriorContinuar »