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fraid some may censure me for setting down these things so largely, which impious men may make an ill use of, and gather together to encourage and defend themselves in their vices. But if they will comparç them with the answers made to them, and the sense that so great and refined a wit had of then afterwards, I hope they may, through the blessing of God, be not altogether ineffectual.
The issue of all our discourse was this :He told me, he saw vice and impiety were contrary to human society, as wild beasts let loose would be ; and therefore he firmly resolVed to change the whole method of his life, to become strictly just and true, to be chaste and temperate, to forbear swearing and irreligious discourse, to worship and pray to his Maker. And that though he was not arrived at a full persuasion of Christianity, he would never employ his wit any more to run it down, or to corrupt others.
Of which I have since a further assurance from a person of quality, who conversed much with him, the last year of his life ; to whom he would often say, that he was 'happy if he did bclieve, and that he would never endeav. our to draw him from it.
To all this I answered, that a virtuous life would be very uncasy to him, unless vicious inclinations were removed. It would otherwise be a perpetual constraint. Nor could it be effected withoạt an inward principle to change
him, and that was only to be had by applying himself to God for it in frequent and earnest prayers. And I was sure, if his mind were once cleared of these disorders, and cured of those distempers, which vice brought on it, so great an understanding would soon see thro all those flights of wit, that do feed atheism and irreligiou ; which have a false glittcring in them, that dazzles some weak-sighted minds, who have not capacity enough to penctrate further than the surface of things; and so they stick in these toils, which the strength of his mind would soon break through, if it were once free from those things that depressed and darkened it.
At this pass he was, when he went from London, about the beginning of April. Ho had not been long in the country, when he 'thought he was so well, that being to go to his estate in Somersetshire, he rode thither post. This heat and violent motion did'so inflame an ulcer, that was in his bladder, that it raised a very great pain in those parts. Yet he with much difficulty came back by coach to the Lodge at Wood-stock-Park. then wounded both in body and mind." He understood physic and his own constitution and distemper, so well, that he concluded he could hardly recover; for the ulcer bruke, and vast
quantities of purulent matter passed with his urine. But now the hand of God touched him; and as he told me, it was not only a generfi
dark melancholy over his mind, such as he had
it me in charge, to tell it to one for whom he was much concerned, that though there were nothing to come after this life, yet all the pleasures he had ever known in sin, were not worth that torture he had felt in his mind. He considered he had not only neglected and dishonoured, but had openly defied his Maker, and had drawn many others in to the like impieties. So that he looked on himself as one that was in great danger of being damned. He then set himself wholly to turn to God unfeignedly, and to do all that was possible in that little renainder of his life which was before him, to redeem those great portions of it, that he had formerly so illy employed.
The minister that attended constantly on him, was that good and worthy man, Mr. Par. sons, his mother's chaplain, who hath since his death preached, according to the directions he received from him, his funeral sermon ; in which there are so many remarkable passages, that I shall refer my reader to them, and will repeat none of them here, that I may not thereby lessen his desire to edify himself by that excellent discourse, which has given so
great and so general satisfaction to all good and judicious readers. I shall speak cursorily of every thing, but that which I had immediately froin himself. He was visited every week of his sickness by his diocesan, that truly primitive prelate, the lord bishop of Oxford, Dr. Fell, who, though he lived six miles from him, yet looked on this as so important a piece of his pastoral care, that he went often to him; and treated him with that decent plainness and freedom which is so natural to him; and took care also that he might not, on terms more easy than safe, be at peace with himself. Dr. Marshall, the learnen and worthy rector of Lincoln College in Oxford, beingthe minister of the parish, was also frequent. ly with him; and by these helps he was so directed and supported, that he might not on the one hand satisfy himself with too superficial repentance, nor on the other hand be out of measure oppressed with a sorrow without hope,
As soon as I heard he was ill, but yet in sucha a condition that I might write to him, I wrote a letter to the best purpose I could. He or: dered one that was then with him, to assure me it was very welcome to him : but not sat. isfied with that, he sent me an answer, which, as the countess of Rochester his mother told me, he dictated every word, and then signed it.
I was once unwilling to have published it, because of a compliment in it to myself, far above my merit, and not very well suiting with his condition. But the sense he expresscs in it of the change then wrought on him hath upon second thoughts prevailed with me to publish it, leaving out what concerns myself.
WOODSTOCK PARK, OXFORDSHIRE,
JUNE 25, 1680. Most honoured Dr. Burnett, MY spirits and body decay so equally to. gether, that I shall write you a letter, weak as I am in person. I begin to value churchmen above all Qien in the world, &c. If God be yet pleased to spare me longer in this world, I hope in your conversation to be exalted to that degree of piety that the world may see how much I abhor what I so long loved, and how much I glory in repentance, and in God's service. Bestow your prayers upon me, that God would spare me (if it be his good will) to shew a true repentance and amendment of life for the time to come : or else, if the Lord pleaseth to put an end to my worldly being now, that he would mercifully accept of my death-bed repentance, and perform that promise that he hath been pleased to make, that at what time soever a sinner doth repent, he would receive him. Put up these prayers, most dear Doctor, to Almighty God for your most obedient and languishing servant,