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true, I will tell you the whole order and pro-
gress of my making, disposing, and ordering of
this piece of work ; the several materials of it ;
the manner of the forming of every individual
part of it, and how long I was about it.' This
plain and evident discovery renders all these
excogitated hypotheses of those philosophical
enthusiasts vain and ridiculous, without any
great help of rhetorical flourishes, or logical



MFK oi' ?iiii iMA'i TJii;\v hall;. 71

confutations. And much of the same nature is
that disparity of the hypotheses of the learned
philosophers, in relation to the origination of the
world and man, after a great deal of dust raised,
and fanciful explications and unintelligible hy-
potheses. The plain but divine narrative by the
hand of Moses, full of sense and congruity, and
clearness, and reasonableness in itself, does at
the same moment give us a true and clear dis-
covery of this great mystery, and renders all the
essays of the generality of the heathen philoso-
phers to be vain, inevident, and indeed inexpli-
cable theories, the creatures of phantasy and
imagination, and nothing else."



CHAPTER V.

A8 for his virtues, ihey have appeared so con-
spicuous in all the several transactions and turns
of his life, that it may seem needless to add any
more of them than has been already related :
but there are many particular instances, which
I knew not how to lit to the several years of
his life, which will give us a clearer and better
view of him.

Ho was a devout Christian, a sincere Pro-
testant, and a true son of the Church of Eng-
land ; moderate toward dissenters, and just even
to those from whom he differed most ; which
appeared signally in the care he took of pre-
serving the Quakers from tliat mischief that was



72 LIFE OF SIR MATTHEW HALE.

likely to fall on them by declaring their mar-
riages void, and so bastarding their children :
but he considered marriage and succession as a
right of nature, from which none ought to be
barred, what mistake soever they might be un-
der in the points of revealed religion.

And therefore, in a trial that was before him,
when a Quaker was sued for some debts owing
by his wife before he married her, and the
Quaker's counsel pretended that it was no mar-
riage that had passed between them, since it
was not solemnized according to the rules of the
Church of England ; he declared, that he was
not willing on his own opinion to make their
chiklren bastards, and gave directions to the
jury to find it special. It was a reflection on
the whole party, that one of them to avoid an
inconvenience he had fallen in, thought to have
preserved himself by a defence, that, if it had
been allowed in law, must have made their
whole issue bastards, and incapable of succes-
sion. And for all their pretended friendship to
one another, if this judge had not been more
their friend than one of those they so called,
their posterity had been iitfle beholden to them.
But he governed himself indeed by the law of
the gospel, of doing to others what he would
have others do to him ; and therefore, because
he would have thought it a hardship not with-
out cruelty, if, among Papists all marriages
were nulled which had not been made with all
the ceremonies in the Roman ritual ; so he,
applying this to the case of the sectaries,



LIFE OF SIR MATTHEW HALE. 73

thoujTlit all marriages made according to the
several persuasions of men, ought to have their
effects in law.

He used constantly to worship God in his
family, performing it always himself, if there
was no clergyman present. But as to his pri-
vate exercises in devotion, he took that extraor-
dinary care to keep what he did in secret, that
this part of his character must be defective, ex-
cept it be acknowledged that his humility in
covering it commends him mucli more than the
liighest expressions of devotion could have done.

From the first titne that the impressions of
relioion settled deeply in his mind, he used
great caution to conceal it ; not only in obedi-
ence to what he believed to be the command of
our Saviour, of fasting, praying, and giving alms
in secret ; but from a particular distrust he had
of himself ; for he said, he was afraid he should
at some time or other do some enormous thing,
which, if he were looked on as a very religious
man, might cast a reproach on the profession
of it, and give great advantages to impious men
to blaspheme the name of God. But " a tree is
known by its fruits ;" and he lived not only free
from blemishes or scandal, but shone in all the
j)arts of his conversation. And perhaps the
distrust he was in of himself contributed not a
little to the purity of his life ; for he being
thereby obliged to be more watchful over him-
self, and to depend more on the aids of the Spi-
rit of God, no wonder if that humble temper
produced those excellent elVecls in him.



74 LIFE OF iilK MATTHEW HALE

He had a soul enlarged and raised above that
mean appetite of loving money, which is gene-
rally the root of all evil. He did not take the
prolits that he might have had by his practice ;
for in common cases, when those who came to
ask his counsel gave him a piece, he used to
give l)ack the half, and so made ten shillings
his fee, in ordinary matters that did not require
much time or study. If he saw a cause was
unjust, he for a great while would not meddle
farther in it, but to give his advice that it was
so. If the parties after that would go on, they
were to seek another counsellor, for he would
assist none in acts of injustice. If he found the
cause doubtful, or weak in point of law, he
always advised his clients to agree among
themselves. Yet afterward he abated much of
the scrupulosity he had about causes that ap-
peared at first view unjust, upon this occasion :
there were two causes brought to him, which,
by the. ignorance of the party, or their attorney,
were so ill represented to him, that they seemed
to be very bad ; but he inquiring more narrowly
into them, found they were really very good and
just : so after this he slackened much of his
former strictness of refusing to meddle in causes
upon the ill circumstances that appeared in
them at tirst.

In his pleading he abhorred those too com-
mon faults of misreciting evidences, quoting
precedents or books falsely, or asserting things
confidently ; by which ignorant juries, or weak
judges, are too often wrought upon. He



l.IFE OF SIK iMATlHKW HALE. 75

pleaded with the same sincerity that he used in
the other parts of his life ; and used to say, " It
was as great a dishonour as a man was capable
of, that for a little money he w^as to be hired to
say or do otherwise than as he thought." All this
he ascribed to the unmeasurable desire of heap-
ing up wealth, which corrupted the souls of
some that seemed to be otherwise born and
made for great things.

When he was a practitioner, differences
were often referred to him, which he settled ;
but would accept of no reward for his pains,
though offered by both parties together, after
the agreement was made ; for he said, in those
cases he was made a judge, and a judge ought
to take no money. Tf they told him he lost
much of his time in considering their business,
and so ought to be acknowledged for it ; his an-
swer was, (as one that heard it told me,)
" Can I spend my time better than to make peo-
ple friends ? Must I have no time allowed me to
do jjood in ?"

He was naturally a quick man ; yet, by much
practice on himself, he subdued that to such a
degree, that he would never run suddenly into
any conclusion concerning any matter of im-
portance. Fcstina lentil was his beloved motto,
which he ordered to be engraven on the head
of his staff ; and was often heard say, that he
had observed many witty men run into great
errors, because they did not give themselves
time to think; but the heat of imagination
making some notions appear in good colours to



76 LIFE OF SIR MATTHEW HALE.

them, they, v/ithoiit staying till that cooled,
were violently led by the impulses it made on
them : whereas calm and slow men who pass
for dull in the common estimation, could search
after truth, and find it out, as with more dehbe-
ration, so with greater certainty.

He laid aside the tenth penny of all he got
for the poor ; and took great care to be well in-
formed of proper objects for his charities. And
after he was a judge, many of the perquisites of
his place, as his dividend of the rule and box
money, w^ere sent by him to the jails, to dis-
charge poor prisoners, who never knew from
whose hands their relief came. It is also a
custom for the marshal of the king's bench to
present the judges of that court with a piece of
plate for a new-year's gift, that of the chief jus-
tice being larger than the rest. This he intend-
ed to have refused ; but the other judges told
him, it belonged to his office, and the refusing it
would be a prejudice to his successors ; so he
was persuaded to take it ; but he sent word to
the marshal, that, instead of the plate, he should
bring him the value of it in money; and when
he received it, he immediately sent it to the pri-
sons for the relief and discharge of the poor
there. He usually invited his poor neighbours
to dine with him, and made them sit at table
with himself : and ii^ any of them were sick, so
that they could not come, he would send meat
warm to them from his table. And he did not
only relieve the poor in his own parish, but sent
supplies to the neighbouring parishes, as there



LIFE OF SIR MATTHEW HALE. 77

was occasion for it ; and he treated them all
with toiulcrnoss and familiarity that became
one who considered they were of the same na-
tnre with himself, and were reduced to no other
necessities but such as he himself might be
brought to. But for common beggars, if any
of these came to him, as he was in his walks,
when he lived in tlie country, he would ask
such as were capable of working, why ihey
went about so idly. If they answered, it was
because they could find no work, he often sent
them to some field, to gather all the stones in it,
and lay them on a heap ; and then would pay
them liberally for their pains. This beingdone,
he used to send his carts, and caused them to
be carried to such places of the highway as
needed mending.

But when he was in town, he dealt his cha-
rities very liberally, even among the street beg-
gars ; and when some told him, that he thereby
encouraged idk-ness, and that most of these were
notorious cheats, he used to answer, that he
believed most of them were such ; but among
tliL-m there were some that were great objects
of charity, and pressed with grievous necessi-
ties ; and that he had rather give his alms to
tw


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Online LibraryThomas JacksonChristian biography .. → online text (page 5 of 18)