Let us all labour so to live, that when we come to die, we may Page 26 be sure to sleep in Iesus. For all the ten forementioned Foun∣tains of consolation, against the fear of Death, belong only to those who sleep in Jesus.
Quest. What must we do that we may be made partakers of so great a happiness.
Answ. We must do two things.
1. We must labour to get into Christ while we live, and we shall be sure to die in Christ when we die, and sleep in him when in the grave. We must make it not our 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but our 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, not our ultimum, but our primum quaerite. Not our last, but our first and chief work to get out of the Old Adam into the New Adam, out of the root of abomination, into the root of acceptation by a Christ-appropriating Faith. For it is the great office of justi∣fying Faith 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (as Chrys. saith) to bring us into the possession of Jesus Christ. We must be willing to part with all our goodly Pearles to buy this Pearle of price. We must account all things but dung and dross (all creature excellen∣cies, all Church-priviledges, and all civil righteousness) and suffer the loss of all things that we may gain Christ.
2. We must labour to get a Death-enduring assurance of our in∣terest in Christ. The reason why many of Gods children are so unwilling to die, is, because they do not know their title to Christ, and the happiness of those that die in him.
Before Old Iacob knew his Son Ioseph to be alive, he received no comfort by his being alive. Before Mary Magdalene knew the person with whom she discoursed to be Christ, she was not revived by discoursing with him. Before a child of God knows that Christ is his, and hath purchased Death for his great advan∣tage, it is impossible for him to embrace it with comfort. This then is the second work of every good Christian, and the work of his whole life to get a Tribunal proof assurance of his being in Christ.
Quest. How may a man know that he hath an interest in Christ?
Answ. By three Texts of Scripture.
1. By 2 Cor. 5.17. If any man be in Christ he is a new Creature. He that is inwardly and outwardly renewed (renewed in every part though imperfectly in every part) may assure himself of his interest in Christ.
2. By Rom. 8.1. There is no condemnation to them that are in Page 27 Christ Iesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. A man may have flesh in him, and yet be in Christ, but he that walks after the flesh and makes provision for it, to fulfill the lusts of it hath no share in him. But he that walks after the Spirit, and is led by the Spirit, and is spiritually minded, may be assured of his interest in Christ.
3. By Gal. 5.24. They that are Christs, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts. They that make it their work to crucifie not only the flesh, but the affections and lusts of it, and are alwayes crucifying and mortifying it, are in a Gospel-account esteemed as c•ucifiers of the flesh, and do crucifie it (desiderio & conatu, though not actu) in their desires and indea∣vours, though they cannot while in the body perfectly subdue it; and may be confident that Christ is theirs, and they are Christs, and that Christ Jesus shall be to them in life and death advantage.
THat you may be the better encouraged to make it the work of your whole Life, to gain Christ, and an Assurance that you have gained him; let me set before you the example of this ex∣cellent Lady (the Lady Anne Waller) for whose funeral we are here met this night. Of whom I may truly say as Nazianzene* of his Sister Gorgonia, That we need not fear lest we should exceed in praising her too much, but rather lest we should be de∣ficient in praising her too little. It is not my custom to speak much in commendation of the Dead; But something I must crave leave to speak at this time, not so much for her commen∣dation (for she hath no need now of our Eulogies) but for our imitation.
I shall not at all mention her birth and noble extraction, nor meddle with any thing that concerns her in her natural and ci∣vil capacities; but only speak something about her Piety and Godliness; which indeed is the truest Nobility. She was (as Saint Iohn stiles the Lady to whom he wrote his second Epistle) an Elect Lady; whether you take Elect, for a choise and preti∣ous Lady, or for one who was elected by God from all eternity unto Page 28 life everlasting: She was one who made Religion her business, nor (as some Ladies do) her Idle hour, but her daily labour: One who sought first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, making it Her care to walk before God in truth and uprightness of heart, and to keep a Conscience void of offence both towards God, and towards man. She was early conversed to Iesus Christ, and that she con∣tinued stedfast in Faith and Holinesse to her lives end, appears by these following Demonstrations.
- SHE WAS
1. A diligent attender upon Gospel Ordinances, delighting much in the House of God, and preferring the Word of God above her ap∣pointed food. A constant Writer of Sermons, and wrote them in her Heart as well as in her Book, and her life was an exact Commen∣tary upon the Sermons she heard. She hath a large Book in Fo∣lio written with her own hand, wherein under several Heads of Divi∣nity, she hath registred the Observations of her reading both out of the Scriptures (which were her delight) and out of the Writings of our best Divines, and out of her own experiences.
2. Very conscientious in observing the Lords Day. Her custom was after Sermon both in the Morning, and Afternoon to retire into her Chamber, and to call before her her maid-servants, and such boyes as served in the House, to give account what they had heard; helping their memories wherein they failed, clearing up the sense of what was delivered, wherein it might seem ob∣scure unto them, exhorting and pressing them to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, concluding all in Prayer with them.
3. Very careful in receiving the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ every Moneth, if she were not hindred by indispen∣sable necessity. And in her preparation thereunto she was most diligent. For help herein she had made a Collection of the best Rules and Directions she could get about that Subject.
4. Taught of God not onely notionally, but experimentally to live by Faith. For she met with many trials in her outward estate, both when a Wife, and when a Widdow. But by Faith in Jesus Christ, she was more than Conquerour over them all.
Page 295. Frequent and constant in her private Devotions, both in pray∣ing, reading and meditating at set hours.
6. A fixed Star in the Firmament of Gods Church, not like a little Child tossed to and fro with every Wind of doctrine, but rooted, built up, and stablished in the Faith, and in the Ortho∣dox Truths of Christian Religion.
7. Abundantly charitable to all in want and necessity, especially to such who feared God, and had his Image upon them. Yea she was ready (as the Apostle saith) even above her ability, to distribute to the Necessities of the Saints. For being advised by a Friend, (who well approved of her Gracious temper and frame of Spirit) to take care of her self, and to remember her debts, and other oc∣casions she had to discharge, she did with much Affection and •ears s•y, That she could not eat her Bread with comfort, while the Ser∣vants of God were in hunger and nakedness.
8. A Lover and Honourer of pious and painful Ministers. Upon the Close of the Late unhappy Wars, so soon as she had a Liber∣ty to return to her Estate and place of Adobe near Oxford, and when her Estate (through the Calamity of those times) was at a low ebbe, the first thing she did, was more then she could well do, her poverty abounding unto the Riches of her Liberality) to provide and maintain at her own cost (in effect) a preaching Mi∣nister there (the poor old Incumbent being superannuated, and unfit to serve the Cure, though he received the Profits of the Place.) Upon her remove from thence to her Husbands Habi∣tation, immediately after she was setled there, she fell to worka∣gain, and set up a Lecture in the Parish, which was continued by the ablest Ministers thereabouts, until it received Interruption by the Troubles which befel her Husband. This good Affection to the advancement of the Gospel, and Gospel-Ministry, she sealed up in her last Will, by a Legacy of a considerable sum to be distribu∣ted to poor Ministers.
9. Of a publick spirit, not to be numerated amongst the sinners, but mourners in Sion, for the sins of Sion. She was one that sought the welfare of the Israel of God, and was as solicitous and thought∣ful about the Concernments of Christ and his Gospel, as about her own, if not more then her own.
10. A very prudent Dady, a Credit to her Profession, of very good Understanding and Iudgment in the things of God, able by her Page 30 wise and Christian Counsel, to comfort, and build up others; which she frequently did, insomuch that many have blessed God for the Advice they received from her.
11. Eminent in the Discharge of all Relative Duties (in the con∣scientious performance of which, the power and Beauty of God∣liness doth especially consist.)
She was careful to keep up the observation of Family-duties twice a day, and of catechising the Children and Servants once a week, commending those who were forward, admonishing and repro∣ving those that were tardy and averse, and imposing little Penal∣ties upon them, payable to the poor, and by all the waies she could, endeavouring to win them to the Service of God.
As a Daughter, she was very obedient to her Parents, insomuch that her Mother did once publickly say, a little before her death, That she was the Child who did never disobey or displease her in all her Life.
She was an excellent Mother, bringing up her Children in the Nurture and Fear of the Lord, and walking before them as an Example of Piety and Humility.
As a Mistress, she was wonderful diligent in training up her Servants in the waies of God; insomuch, as that she was a means of the Conversion of two of them; one of them acknowledged it upon her Death-bed; the other yet living (a sober Christian) will confess the same.
She was excellent and transcendently eminent in her Relation as a Wife, insomuch that her Husband saith of her, as the Wise man of the Virtuous woman, That her Price was far above Rubies, that his heart did safely trust in her, that she did him good and not evil all the daies of her life, that she stretched out her hand to the poor, yea she reached forth her hands to the needy. That she opened her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue was the Law of kindness; that her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband also, and he praiseth her, and saith, many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Let her own works praise her in the gates. The Truth is, she was a Lady of ten thousand, and they that knew her intimately, will confess that I do not hyperbolize, and they that knew her not, will I hope, believe that I dare not (standing in this place, as Gods Ambassador) give flattering titles, for in so doing, my Maker would soon take me away.*
Page 3112. And lastly, as she lived, so she died, she lived holily, and died happily. Her last sickness was long and violent, wherein, though she was never heard to let fall one word unbeseeming the mouth of a blessed Christian, yet she would often charge her self for complaining, though inforced thereunto by the extremity of her p•ins. But yet in the midst of all her Anguish, she ceased not to testifie her Faith in God through Christ, as her only Anchor-hold and supportation, exhort∣ing with a powerful sweetness those about her, and her relations when they came to her, to make sure of that Interest, and to apply them∣selves to the Service of God with all faithfulness and diligence, which was that that would bring them peace at last.
Towards the end of her Sickness, she took occasion to speak to some Friends that were about her Bed, touching an unhappy difference between her Husband, and one of his Sons (wherein she had been most injuriously defamed, as a person that had done ill Offices be∣tween them, and contributed Fuel to that Flame) professing in the presence of that God before whom she was to make her Account, that she was innocent from the thought of such an Offence, and that no car∣riage of his, had ever so far transported her, as to make her to desire, much less to endeavour any thing that might be to his prejudice. And that she desired his good and welfare, with the same heart, as if both he, and the rest of the Children had been all her own. (I give you her own words.) The day before her death, she challenged her Husband to speak, whether she had ever instigated him against his Son, or done any thing to keep up that difference. And he did then (as in the presence of God) clear her, and avow this Truth, That she had many times made his peace, and brought him to a reconciliation with him (once with Tears) but never had done him any ill Office.
One thing I must add of mine own knowledge; That this Excel∣cellent Lady was much troubled in her life time with the slavish fear of death. I told her then out of mine own frequent experience, that they that were so much afraid of death, while living, and thereupon, were careful to prepare for it, would be free from the fear of it when they came to die. And it happened accordingly: For though she had not those ravishing Ioyes which some somtimes have, yet she had such a Calmness and quietness of mind, and peace of Conscience, that she could chearfully and most willingly surrender up her s•ul into the hands of her Redeemer.
In the l•st day of her sickness, it pleased God in some measure to Page 32 allay the extremity of her Pains, and to afflict her only with short∣ness of Breath (which increased upon her to her last) but her under∣standing was clear, and her Speech free a few moments before her Departu•e. She continued throughout the day in an admirable compo∣sed, quiet and serene frame of Spirit, and wholly gave her self to glorifie God, and to exhort all others to do the like, and to give up them∣selves to his Service.
A Reverend Minister coming to visit her, she entertained him with a chearful Aspect, and desired him, to search and examine her heart, what way of wickedness he could find in it, and pressed him to deal freely and plainly with her, and not to spare her. (I deliver her own expressions) His discourse was comfortable to her. She complain∣ed of the sinfulness of her Nature, and the wickedness of her heart, but still with a Confidence in the Merits of her Saviour, upon whom alone she rolled her self. After that, she desired him to pray by her; which he did, and she heard him with an unmoveable stilness and Attention, giving him thanks when he had done. She continued in the same Heavenly Temper with many Gracious Expressions, until about eight of the Clock that night, and then finding (as we had reason since to suppose, though she made no shew of it) that her death was ap∣proaching, she requested the minister to pray by her again; he hap∣pened to be somthing long (though contrary to his Intention) when towards the latter end, she made a sign unto him, which he taking notice of, and thereupon concluding, she said, I thank you Sir, and forthwith bowing down her head, within a few Minutes delivered her bles∣sed Soul into the hands of her heavenly Father.
Thus she lived, and thus she died, and thus being dead, she yet speaketh; and now is gone to that place where she hath no more need of Prayers, but all her Prayers are turned into Hallelujahs. The Lord give us Grace so to imitate her holy Life, that when we come to die, we may die in Christ, and when layed in the Grave, may sleep in Iesus, and in the Great Resurrection, may both in Body and Soul be taken up into Heaven, to be for ever with the Lord in per∣fect Happiness, Amen.