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Ecclesiastical history of England : from the opening of the long parliament to the death of Oliver Cromwell (Volume 2) online

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provision for the payment of his debts, to render satis-
faction for any wrong he has done, to be reconciled to
his enemies, and to forgive all men their trespasses.
The minister also would, in addition to this, according
to the instructions given in the Directory, improve the
occasion for the spiritual benefit of relatives, friends, or
servants present ; but no mention is made, in any way,
of the administration of the Lord's supper, which,
being then regarded exclusively as a Church ordinance,
both by Presbyterians and Independents, would not be
deemed a proper solemnity for a few persons around a
sick bed. But in numerous cases, beyond all doubt, the
sacrament would be administered secretly by Anglican
clergymen to persons of their own communion in the last
hours of life.

The Episcopal burial service could not be used —
a hardship which can be appreciated by those, who,
in the present day, occasionally find enactments and

406 The Church of the Commonwealth. [imo-igss.

prejudices interfering with their sentiments of natural
piety.^ The custom of kneeling down by the side of the
corpse was pronomiced by the Presbyterians to be super-
stitious ; and all pra3ing, reading, and singing at funerals
was forbidden. The minister was du-ected simply to
put people in mind of their duty of applying " themselves
to meditation and conferences suitable to the occasion."
Funeral sermons incurred from certain Divines strong
objections. The Puritans, CartwTight and Hildersam, had
scrupled to allow them, and some Reformed Churches
abroad had abandoned their use. The Westminster
Assembly debated the question, and Baillie reports, that
the difference upon this point between the Scotch and some
of the English brethren appeared irreconcilable. Funeral
sermons, he adds, Vv-ere an abuse of preaching, intended
to humom' the rich for reward, and employed in order to
augment the minister's livelihood; and, on these
accounts, he says, that they could not easily be got rid
of. Yet, notwithstanding this strong feeling against
religious ceremonies at funerals, many public ones are
recorded in those times as having been conducted on a
scale of splendour surpassing anything we are familiar
with now-a-days. Pym's was very imposing; but in
magnificence it was eclipsed by the processions and
formalities at the interment of the Earl of Essex, Ireton,
Blake, and Oliver Cromwell. Indeed, sometimes there
seems to have been an unusual love of display manifested
at the tomb of a Puritan grandee. In the British Museum
is a curious deposition by a herald, relative to the funeral
of John St. John ; that functionary declares it to have

' Mr. John Nelson, father of " the quested to be " privately buried by

pious Robert Nelson," dj-ing in 1 657, an orthodox minister in the evening."

having "a distaste" "for the in- — Nelson's Life, by Secrctan, -p. z.
truding ministry of the time," re-

Chap. XIV.] The End of Life. 407

been in violation of all heraldic laws, insomuch that the
escutcheons went beyond those pertaining to a duke, and
that he never saw so many pennons, except at the funeral
of one of the blood royal.-^

Far different, and far more touching, were the obsequies
of the Master of St. Paul's School: as he died a single man,
the boys walked before the corpse with w4iite gloves, verses
being hung upon the pall instead of escutcheons.^

' Had. MSS., 5176, 15, quoted in Lyson's Environs, i. 42.
* Brook, iii. 290.


SOMETIMES, by the shore of a lake, the eje catches
prismatic effects upon the ripples, as if chains and
rings of gold, and green, and crimson, were thickly scat-
tered in fragments over the surface, whilst weeds lie plain
enough beneath, covering the bottom of the mountain-
girdled waters. Little creations and images of the
glorious light above are those ripples ; and no unapt
illustration do they afford of the varieties of spiritual life
in this lower world ; for all these varieties are really reflec-
tions of the Sun of Righteousness — reflections manifold,
always imperfect and sometimes confused, and ever found
with the weeds of fallen humanity growing underneath

The religious history of the Commonwealth abounds
in specimens of such varieties : we proceed to furnish
further instances of these, not only from Anglo- Catholic
and Puritan biographies, but from others in which there
is the absence of either peculiarity, or a blending of the

Amidst the Civil Wars, and under the ascendancy of
Presbyterianism, there could no longer be the same kind
of pastoral care as that which threw such an air of saint-

Chap, xr.] George Herhert. 409

liness over Bemerton rectory. The " country parson "
could no more use the Prayer Book and keep Church
festivals. Daily worship had ceased, such as George
Herbert loved to attend, at the canonical hours of ten
and four, when " he lifted up pure and charitable hands
to God in the midst of the congregation." There could no
longer assemble in public twice a day, an Anglican con-
gregation, composed of parishioners and gentlemen of the
neighbourhood. An end had also come to the usage
described by Isaac Walton : ' ' Some of the meaner sort
of his parish did so love and reverence Mr. Herbert, that
they would let their plough rest, when Mr. Herbert's
saint's-bell rung to prayers, that they might also offer
their devotions to God with him, and would then return
back to their plough." Yet throughout the Common-
wealth era the lofty devotion of the poet-priest — albeit
touched with asceticism and other weaknesses — continued
to beat in many hearts, and to inspire the concealed use
of ancient formularies.

Never was anything more beautiful than Herbert's
dying confession : " I now look back upon the pleasures
of my life past, and see the content I have taken in
beauty, in wit, in music, and pleasant conversation, are
now all past by me like a dream, or as a shadow that
returns not, and are now all become dead to me, or I to
them ; and I see, that as my father and generation hath
done before me, so I also shall now suddenly (with Job)
make my bed also in the dark ; and I praise God I
am prepared for it ; and I praise Him that I am not to
learn patience now I stand in such need of it ; and that
I have practised mortification, and endeavoured to die
daily, that I might not die eternally ! and my hope is
that I shall shortly leave this valley of tears, and be free
from all fevers and pain; and, which will be a more

410 The Church of the Commonivcalth. [leia-iesa.

happy condition, I shall be free from sin, and all the
temptations and anxieties that attend it ; and this being
past, I shall dwell in the New Jerusalem ; dwell there
with men made perfect ; dwell wiiere these eyes shall
see my Master and Saviour Jesus ; and with Him see my
dear mother and all my relations and friends. But I
must die, or not come to that happy place. And this is
my content, that I am going daily towards it ; and that
eveiy day which I have lived hath taken a part of my
appointed time from me, and that I shall live the less
time for having lived this and the day past."

Such words were not theatrically uttered ; they simply
expressed the life which the good man had really hved —
a life which was in truth a continued Sunday, answering
to what he played and sung in those last hours.

** The Sundays of man's life

Threaded together on time's string,
Make bracelets to adorn the wife

Of the eternal, glorious King.
On Sundays, heaven's door stands ope,

Blessings are plentiful and rife —
More plentiful than hope."

Punctilious about forms, yet no formalist — tliinking
much of Lent, Ember weeks, and Church rites, yet not to
the neglect of spiritual religion — and loving his parish as
he loved his relatives, Herbert of course deemed Noncon-
foimists to be interlopers. Yet, what Nonconformist w411
not forgive him the harshnessof his judgment, considering
the purity of his spirit, and the elevation of his soul, and
how he did all things for the Master's honour ? This cast
of sentiment repeated itself in many devout Anglicans,
who in a measure conformed to ecclesiastical changes, or
resolutely suffered loss for conscience' sake. Nor was
sympathy with the tone of Herbert's hymns wanting even

Chap. XV.] Hammond. 411

amongst contemporary Puritans. Baxter said: " I must
confess after all, that next to the Scripture poems, there
are none so savoury to me as Mr. George Herbert's. I
know that Cowley and others far excel Herbert in wit and
accurate composure ; but, as Seneca takes with me above
all his contemporaries, because he speaketh things by
words, feelingly and seriously, like a man that is past
jest, so Herbert speaks to God, like a man that really
believeth in God, and whose business in the world is most
with God — heart-work and heaven-work make up his
books." ^ Thus it was that under diverse forms of polity
and worship holy chords in those two hearts vibrated in
unison with each other.

Dr. Hammond's piety, elsewhere illustrated in this work,
is largely extolled by his biographer.^ His devotional
habits, which were characteristic of the age, are particularly
recorded. " As soon as he was ready (which was usually
early), he prayed in his chamber with his servant, in a pe-
culiar form composed for that purpose ; after this he retired
to his own more secret devotions in his closet. Betwixt
ten and eleven in the morning, he had a solemn interces-
sion in reference to the national calamities ; to this, after
a little distance, succeeded the morning office of the
Church, which he particularly desired to perform in his
o^n person, and would by no means accept the ease of
having it read by any other. In the afternoon he had
another hour of private prayer, which on Sundays he
enlarged, and so religiously observed, that if any neces-
sary business or charity had diverted him at the usual
time, he repaired his soul at the cost of his body ; and,
notwithstanding the injunctions of his physicians, which
in other cases he was careful to obey, spent the supper-

' Baxter's Poetical Fragments. * Fell, p. 230.

412 The Church of the Commomvealth. [i649-i658.

time therein. About five o'clock the solemn private
pra^^ers for the nation, and the evening service of the
Church returned. At bed-time his private prayers closed
the day ; and, after all, even the night was not without
its office, the 5 1 st Psalm being his designed midnight

Thomas Fuller, already so often noticed, had nothing
of the poetical pensiveness of Herbert, nothing of that
unearthly tone of thought which was so real in the Salis-
bury canon, nothing either of the High Churchmanship
of Dr. Hammond, yet he cordially loved the Church of
England. Moderate, orthodox, and Catholic, he allowed
to others the liberty which he claimed for himself, whilst
he bewailed the divisions of the times in which he lived,
not as many did, because he wanted all to think like
him, but because he saw that men would not peaceably
allow one another to exercise the right of private judgment.
The piety of Fuller was that of thorough conscien-
tiousness, so well expressed by himself when he told the
Triers " he could appeal to the Searcher of Hearts that
he made a conscience of his very thoughts." With his
conscientiousness — which really seemed to cover the whole
field of evangelical and practical religion — there was
associated the faculty of ivit, which gave even to his
religion a character of humour. In his book on the
Holy State, he says of the " Faithful minister," "he will
not use a light comparison to make thereof a grave applica-
tion, for fear lest his poison go further than his antidote";
but, he himself adds, " that fork must have strong tines
wherewith one would thrust out nature." In that very
chapter, animadverting on afiected gravity, he remarks :
*' when one shall use the preface of a mile to bring in a fur-
long of matter, set his face and speech in a frame — and to
make men beheve it is some precious liquor, their words

Chap. XV.] Dalston, 413

come out drop by drop — such men's vizards do sometimes
fall from tliem not without the laughter of the beholders.
One was called ^gravity,' for his affected solemnness, who,
afterwards, being catched in a light prank, was ever after,
to the day of his death, called ' gravity -levity.' " Fuller
could not help being humorous. He could not tell the
most mournful story without enlivening it with some sort
of sally ; but religion so influenced him that he never
indulged in ill-natured satire — never raised a blister on
the skin by the touch of a scorching sarcasm. With such
a temperament, added to unfeigned piety and unfeigned
benevolence, "it w^as as natural that he should be full of
good-tempered mirth as it is for the grasshopper to chirp,
or the bee to hum, or the birds to warble in the spring
breeze and the bright sunshine. His very physiognomy
was an index to his natural character. As described by
his contemporaries, he had light flaxen hair, bright blue
and laughing eyes, a frank and open visage."^ And if
any one will take the trouble to compare the portraits of
Herbert and Fuller, he must confess that Herbert's
gravity would look as foolish in the face of Fuller, as
Fuller's archness w^ould be most unseemly, if it could be
forced on Herbert's sedate countenance.

The character of Sir George Dalston, as given by
Jeremy Taylor in richly coloured w^ords, deserves to be
included in any portrait gallery of his contemporaries.
' ' He was indeed a great lover of, and had a great regard
for, God's ministers, ever remembering the words of
God : ' Keep my rest, and reverence my priests' ; he
honoured the calling in all, but he loved and revered
the persons of such who were conscientious keepers
of their ' depositum — that trust ' which was com-

' Essays, by Henry Rogers, 17.

414 The Church of the Commonwealth. nG49-i658.

mitted to them ; such which did not for interest quit their
conscience, and did not, to preserve some parts of their
revenue, quit some portions of their rehgion. He knew
that what was true in 1639 "^'^^ ^^^^ true in 1644, and
so to '57, and shall continue true to eternal ages; and
they that change their persuasions, bj force or interest,
did neither behave well nor ill, upon competent and just
grounds ; they are not just, though they happen on the
right side. Hope of gain did by chance teach them well,
and fear of loss abuses them directly. He pitied the
persecuted ; and never would take part with persecutors ;
he prayed for his prince, and served liim in what he
could ; he loved Grod, and loved the Church ; he was a
lover of his country's liberties, and yet an observer of the
laws of his king. ***=;:* *

"And now, having divested himself of all objections, and
his conversation with the world, quitting his affections to
it, he wholly gave himself to religion and devotion ; he
awakened early, and would presently be entertained with
reading ; when he rose, still he would be read to, and
hear some of the Psalms of David ; and, excepting only
what time he took for the necessities of his life and health,
all the rest he gave to prayer, reading, and meditation,
save only that he did not neglect, nor rudely entertain,
the visits and kind offices of his neighbours. But in
this great vacation from the world he espied his ad-
vantages ; he knew vfell, according to that saying of the
Emperor Charles V. — ' Oportct inter vitce negotia et diem
mortis spatiiim aliquod intercedere ; ' there ought to be a
valley between two such mountains, the businesses of our
life and the troubles of our death ; and he stayed not till
the noise of the bridegroom's coming did awaken and
affright him ; but, by daily prayers twice a day, constantly
with his family, besides the piety and devotion of his own

Chap. XV.] Qiiarles. 415

retirements, by a monthly commmiion, by weekly sermons,
and by the religion of every day, he stood in precincts,
ready with oil in his lamp, watching till his Lord should

The poet Quarles — whose quaint emblems symbolize
not only the quaintness of his piety, but the quaintness of
much besides belonging to his age — suffered as a Royalist
and an Episcopalian ; and indeed his death appears to have
been hastened by the persecution which he suffered. The
hues of his religious experience are best conveyed by preser-
ving the phraseology of his devoted widow. ^ ' ' He expressed
great sorrow for his sins, and when it was told him that
his friends conceived he did thereby much harm to him-
self, he answered : ' They icere not his friends that would
not give him leave to he penitent.' His exhortations to his
friends that came to visit him were most divine ; wishing
them to have a care of the expense of their time, and every
day to call themselves to an account, that so ivhen they came
to their bed of sicJcness, they might lie upon it ivith a rejoicing
heart. And, doubtless, such an one was his, insomuch
that he thanked God that whereas he might justly have
expected that his conscience shoidd looh him in the face like
a lion, it rather looked upon him like a lamb ; and
that God had forgiven him his sins, and that night
sealed him his pardon ; and many other heavenly
expressions to the like effect. I might here add what
blessed advice he gave to me in particular, still to trust
in God, whose promise is to provide for the widow and
the fatherless, &c. But this is already imprinted on
my heart, and therefore I shall not need here again to
insert it."

Taylors Works, \i. 564 — 566.

Life of Quarles, in Sacred Poets, by Willmott.

416 The Church of the Commonwealth. 1649-1658.

Lord Montague may be cited as a specimen of old
English piety, apart from strong ecclesiastical opinions
on either side. "Many 'characters' have been drawn
of this stout cavalier. The sum of them all amounts
to this, namely that he was an honest, truthful, and
pious man, an example to his fellow-parishioners by
constant attendance at sermons on Sundays, and at
lectures on week-days. So long as the truth was preached
old Montague cared not who preached it ; and his own
chaplain had no sinecure of it in his house, where that
reverend official, on Sunday afternoons, assembled the
servants, and put them through their catechism. The
household was a godly one, though a certain depictor of
it says, rather equivocally, that ' the rudest of his
servants feared to be known to him to be a drunkard, a
swearer, or any such lewd liver, for he cast such out of his
service. This would imply that there was an assumption
of virtue, by which the good lord may have been deceived;
but his serving men and maids are emphatically chroni-
cled as being a credit and a comfort to him. " ^

In the heart of the Royalist camp, and amidst bloodshed
on the battle field, there had been — notwithstanding the
prevalent profanity and licentiousness of the Cavaliers —
some strong stirrings of spiritual life in the hearts of
English gentlemen, worthy of that name, of which a
memorial exists in a letter written by John Trelawne, to
the Lady Grace, announcing the death of her honoured
lord. Sir Bevill Grenville.

' ' Honourable Lady, — How can I contain myself or longer
conceal my sorrow for the death of that excellent man, your
most dear husband and my noble friend. Be pleased with
your wisdom to consider of the events of the war, which

' JJuun's Life of the Earl of Manchester.

Chap. XV.] Sir B. Grcnville. ill

is seldom or never constant, but as full of mutability as
hazard. And seeing it hath pleased God to take him
from your ladysliip, yet this may sometliing appease your
great flux of tears, that he died an honourable death,
which all his enemies will envy, fighting with invincible
valour and loyalty the battle of his God, his King, and
country. A greater honour than this no man living can
enjoy. But God hath called him unto Himself to crown
him (I doubt not) with immortal glory for his noble con-
stancy in this blessed cause. It is too true (most noble
lady) that God hath made you drink of a bitter cup, yet,
if you please to submit unto his Divine will and pleasure
by kissing His rod patiently, God (no doubt) hath a staff
of consolation for to comfort you in this great affliction
and trial. He will wipe your eyes, dry up the flowing
spring of your tears, and make your bed easy, and by
your patience overcome God's justice by His returning
mercy. Madam, he is gone his journey but a little before
us. We must march after when it shall please God, for
your ladyship knows that none fall without His provi-
dence, which is as great in the thickest shower of bullets
as in the bed. I beseech you (dear lady) to pardon this
my trouble and boldness, and the God of heaven bless
you and comfort you, and all my noble cousins in this
your great visitation, which shall be the unfeigned
prayers of him that is, most noble Lady,

" Your Ladyship's hon. and humble servant,

" John Trelawne.^
*' Trelawne, 20th July, 1643."

And when the wars were over, and peace had been
established, and the usurper whom they feared was sitting

' Memorials of John Hampden, by Lord Nugent, 336.
^^, T, E E

418 The Church of the Commonwealth. iiGw-iess.

upon the throne, many a Royalist lady and gentleman
would think of their past sorrow and cherish their hopes
of a celestial future in the tone and spirit of this beautiful

A touching instance of early piety occurred in the family
of John Eveljn, described by the bereaved father in the
following terms: " Illuminations, far exceeding his age
and experience, considering the prettiness of his address
and behaviour, cannot but leave impressions in me at the
memory of him. When one told him how many days a
Quaker had fasted, he replied that was no wonder, for
Christ had said that man should not live by bread
alone, but by the Word of God. He would of himself
select the most pathetic psalms, and chapters out of Job
to read to his maid during his sickness, telling her, when
she pitied him, that all God's children must suffer
affliction. He declaimed against the vanities of the
world before he had seen any. Often he would desire
those who came to see him to pray by him, and a year
before he fell sick, to kneel and pray with him alone in
some corner. How thankfully would he receive admo-
nition ! how soon be reconciled ! how indifferent, yet
continually cheerful ! He would give grave advice to
his brother John, bear with his impertinences, and say he
was but a child. If he heard of or saw any new thing
he was unquiet till he was told how it was made ; he
brought to us all such difficulties as he found in books,
to be expounded. He had learned by heart divers sen-
tences in Latin and Greek, which, on occasion, he would
produce even to wonder. He was all life, all prettiness,
far from morose, sullen, or childish, in anything he said
or did. The last time he had been at church (which
was at Greenwich), I asked him, according to custom,
what he remembered of the sermon ; '■ Two good things.

Chap. XV.] John Evelyn's Son. 419

father,' said he, 'honum gratice, and homim gloricef ^ath a
just account of what the preacher said. The day before
he died he called to me, and in a more serious manner
than usual told me that for all I loved him so dearly, I
should give my house, land, and all my fine things to his
brother Jack, he should have none of them ; and, the
next morning, when he found himself ill, and that I per-
suaded him to keep his hands in bed, he demanded
whether he might pray to God with his hands unjoined ;
and a little after, whilst in great agony, whether he
should not offend God by using His holy name so often
calling for ease. What shall I say of his frequent
pathetical ejaculations uttered of himself : ' Sweet Jesus,
save me, deliver me, pardon my sins, let Thine angels
receive me ! ' So early knowledge, so much piety and
perfection ! But thus God, having dressed up a saint fit
for Himself, would not longer permit him with us, un-
worthy of the future fruits of this incomparable hopeful
blossom. Such a child I never saw ; for such a child I
bless God, in whose bosom he is ! May I and mine
become as this little child, who now follows the child
Jesus, that Lamb of God, in a white robe, whither-
soever He goes ; even so. Lord Jesus, fiat voluntas
tiia I Thou gavest him to us. Thou hast taken him
from us, blessed be the name of the Lord ! That I
had anything acceptable to Thee was from Thy grace
alone, seeing from me he had nothing but sin, but

Online LibraryJohn StoughtonEcclesiastical history of England : from the opening of the long parliament to the death of Oliver Cromwell (Volume 2) → online text (page 33 of 46)