Page images

own work in him; that he will guide him with his counsel, and and at length save and receive him to his rest. The same prayers I make for my nephew his son Stephen, that he may be a useful instrument for the promoting of God's glory, a diligent workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. O Lord my God, I pray not only for my brother, but for all those in France, to whom thou hast committed the conduct and rule of the churches: bless their persons; pardon their defects: sanctify their gifts: grant unto them, that they may seriously return unto the simplicity which is in Christ; and that they detract not from the glory of God, to ascribe unto man what belongs to his salvation; he is strong and jealous.

“ If in my writings, I have seemed to deal a little warmly with some of my brethren about their new notions, I protest before God, I was never moved by envy or wrath against any one in particular, but on the contrary always accounted the men that favoured those novelties, among my friends; and the more I loved both their persons and gifts, the more it grieved me that I could not reconcile their maxims with the word of God. I do most earnestly beseech God, that he will give them the spirit of peace, that they may be of the same judgment, and speak the same things; and that the love of God may constrain them, and gather them into one in Christ; till we all come unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ ; that following the truth in love, we may grow up into him, in all things, who is the head, even Christ.

“ I would have thee without delay write unto thy father; he is my brother in a double bond, I have always esteemed, and loved him ; he hath been a useful instrument for the glory of God, and I doubt not but he will thoroughly accomplish his work in him, to the glory of his own name, and his eternal salvation. I go before him, in a little time he will follow after me: he is almost come to the end of his course, and there remains but a little time, before God will crown his labours with an eternal reward.”

And here again in an extraordinary transport he brake out into these expressions: “ () great and immense mercy! who can but be rapt into admiration! he gives both being, and wellbeing; he bestows his gifts, he supporteth, he pardoneth, he worketh in us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure: and when himself hath given and wrought all this, yet he gives to us an eternal reward! amen, amen. Be it unto me ac

cording to thy word, even according to the faithfulness and stabi. lity of thy promises.

Then turning his discourse to his niece again; “ Write also (said he) to thy , brethren, that I love them, and that I pray for their salvation. And thou, my dear niece! I love thee, not because of that near affinity which thou hast to me, but rather because we both have one Gods and one hope. Thou knowest the love and affection which I have had for thee, which hath been a paternal love indeed, for a token of which, take thou the Bible which thou shalt find in my study. In special, I recommend to thee my wife, thy very good aunt: to thy power comfort and assist her: be unto her instead of a daughter, and help her to digest the sorrow she will have for my absence."

On Monday morning, January 2, he desired to arise out of his bed, that he might write those letters which he had made mention of in the night: and also that he might add something to the codicil, which was annexed to his will the evening before.

His strength was sufficient to admit the putting on of his clothes, and also his walking into his study; where he took the Bible designed for his neice, and gave it to her himself: and to Mr. Dauber, who was then with him, he gave an Arabic NewTestament, and laid by another book for Mr. Hulsius, and one for his brother Rivet, to be immediately sent unto him to Champuernon in France; unto whom (being returned into his chamber) he wrote this letter.

“ My dear Brother! “ I now write my last to you, with a trembling and dying hand. After the preaching of a sermon on Christmas day in perfect health: it is now eight days since I have been afflicted with a stubborn constipation; and the expulsive faculty is wholly extinct in me. Wherefore I am determined by the grace of God to die with courage and constancy: by the obstinate continuance, and pains of my distemper, I am quite worn out; and the day of my dissolution draws near. My niece Mary Moulin shall write unto you an account of my last hours, and of that tranquillity of mind which God affords to me. I expect the coming of my son, to whom I may commit my nephews and affairs; he shall give you an account of all. Farewel my dearest brother! but keep me in remembrance the residue of thy life, who have loved thee and thine with a great charity; love mine again, as thou doest : I pray God to bless thee, and all thine. Once again farewel!".

“ Dated at Breda, Jan. 2, 1651."

He wrote also to Mr. Moulin, his brother by affinity, in these words:

“ My dearest Brother, “ It so pleaseth God, that you should remain alive after me: I now write, being upon the borders between life and death, after a sermon preached on Christmas day, which was followed with a pertinacious retention facium in alvo induratarum, and of the retaining of that load, the dissolution of the body with grievous pains is the necessary consequent. Your daughter, which ministereth to me in this agony, hath undertaken to write to you of my constancy, and the grace which God affordeth to me. Live unto the glory of his name, remembering me, and mine, who die,

“ Your most affectionate, &c."

When he had written these letters, he found himself exceed. ingly wearied, and desired to be had to bed again. All this day was spent in receiving his friends, especially the pastors who were of divers nations; unto whom he discoursed largely of surrendering up himself into the hands of God, and recited to them a confession of his faith, and exhorted them to proceed cheerfully in that work which the Lord had committed to them. He gladly received those consolations whereby they endeavoured to assuage his pains, and heard their prayers for him with like joy, always adding, that he was much refreshed by them. All this day the time seemed very long to him, while he expected the coming of his son.

“ How afraid am I (said he) that I shall not see my son! it is the only thing I desire in this life.”

When he was wholly given up by the physicians, and now for many days had neither received nor voided any thing, a little after noon, a good man, that was touched with our affliction, said unto us, that it seemed a very wonderful and strange thing to him, that we would suffer a man of so great merit, who was yet strong and hearty, to go out of the world without trying of any remedies : adding, that he knew a person that was held with the same disease, that was helped by baths prescribed by a surgeon in the city, who was indeed very skilful in his art. This person therefore was immediately sent for, who when he came, finding the sick man strong enough to abide the use of that remedy, without delay prepared a bath, by which he found himself much eased, and his pains assuaged; and that Monday night, he had a better night of it than ordinary

[ocr errors]

The next day in the morning they repeated the bath, after which a clyster was injected, which seemed to have begun its work: all that were about the sick man rejoiced, and bade him be of good courage, promising his recovery from his distemper; and, to say the truth, himself began, if not to hope, yet at least to think, it might be so. In the following evening the bath was repeated again, after which being had to bed, he began to sleep sweetly: but had scarcely rested half an hour, before he was awakened by the pain of his side, and a greater tension of his belly than before, and the access of a fever. Nothing was left unattempted for his relief, by fomentations and unctions; but all was to no purpose: the complaint of the sick man was increased, and he was tired out and afflicted with extraordinary restlessness. And then his niece perceived that there was something else troubled him more than the pain of his body; for he, remaining silent, groaned forth most bitter sighs, whereas before, the more he was tormented with pain, the more ardently did he use to pour out his prayers to God. It was supper time when she was left with him alone, and then with a mournful voice he asked, “ Who is there, is any stranger present?” and when his niece had told him, no: she asked him, “Whence doth this unusual disquietude proceed? you seem to me to suffer something extraordinary; what is become of that cheerfulness through which you were wont to pass through your pains with the greatest joy?'

“ Alas! (said he) he is departed from me that made glad my heart: I have grieved that holy Spirit the Comforter, who had filled my soul with peace and joy; I have been so wretched and unhappy as to give ear to those who spake unto me of my returning into this world: I have been tickled with the desire of living: and how could such a thing possibly be, after the fruits of the heavenly Canaan had been tasted by me, and I had by faith taken hold of supernatural good things? what is now necessary to be done? whither shall I go? if I speak, he answers not; yea he hath taken from me the power of speaking: ah, sad change. An holy fire had kindled my meditation, but now vain thoughts hurry me: I cannot get out of my mind an old satire, and such like trifles. Thus while I am at death's door, I go backwards."

And here casting his arms about her neck, he thus proceeded: “My dear niece, help me, continue to discourse of good things with me: call upon the Comforter to return, and renew that excellent work which he had advanced in me. () return! return! confirm me with thy strength, before I go hence, and be seen no more."

Vol. II.

Then she suggested to him those places of scripture, which by the divine aid were brought to her mind; in answer to which, every moment he interposed such words, as made it evident that his soul which before was sinking under its burden, began to gather strength and comfort again. He had scarce been a quarter of an hour in that conflict, before he fell into a swoon, which occasioned the hasty calling in of his son, who was come to him but that morning; and when this sinking fit was over, there appeared in him again the same tranquillity and cheerfulness of countenance as formerly: and seeing those of his own household, with some friends that used to assist him, and watch with him by turns, in the next room, he attentively fixed his eyes upon each of them; and first addressing himself to his wife:

« Farewel (said he) my dearest yoke-fellow! we have lived together in peace for thirty years; and I thank thee for thy help, which hath been a great comfort unto me; for I did cast all domestic cares unto thee: continue I beseech thee to love me my children with that pious affection, which hitherto thou hast had for them.”

Then turning his speech to his son, he said, “ And thou my son! love and honour this dearest companion of my life, the partner of all my joys and sorrows, which hath done the duty of a mother towards thee; this I desire of thee, and this I command thee, as thou expectest a blessing from God upon what I have gotten by my labour; divide it between you without quarrelling or contention, according to what is just and right; manage all thy affairs with all lenity and christian prudence; especially pursue peace, O Frederick! (for that was his son's name, to which he alluded) be rich in peace.”

Then taking hold of both their 'hands, and joining them together: “ Promise me, (said he) that you will maintain a holy and mutual friendship with each other.” Which when they had both most solemnly promised to do, “I believe you (said he) for I have not cause to doubt of your sincerity; I know that you fear God, and that my last commands will be of great weight with you ; even as I pray God that he will make my blessing effectual upon you."

Then turning to his wife, he said: “ The Lord bless thee, my dear love, and strengthen thee; he is a husband to the widow, and a father of the fatherless."

And to his son, “ The Almighty Father bless thee, my son, guide thee in all thy ways, enrich thee with all christian virtues,

They were his children by a former wife, for he had none by her

« PreviousContinue »