Page images

and the good success he had in it was a continual feast to him, and gave him a perpetual serenity both of mind and countenance. His great love and zeal for this work made all the pains and difficulties of it seem nothing to him: he would rise early and sit up late, and continued the same diligence and industry to the last, though he was in the threescore and seventeenth year of his age. And that he might manage the distribution of this great charity with his own hands, and see the good effect of it with his own eyes, he always once, but usually twice a-year, at his own charge, travelled over a great part of Wales, none of the best countries to travel in: but for the love of God and men he endured all that, together with the extremity of heat and cold (which in their several seasons are both very great there) not only with patience but with pleasure. So that all things considered there have not, since the primitive times of Christianity, been many among the sons of men to whom that glorious character of the Son of God might be better applied, that he went about doing good; and Wales may as worthily boast of this truly apostolical man as of their famous St David; who was also, very probably, a good man, as those times of ignorance and superstition went, but his goodness is so disguised by their fabulous legends and stories which give us the account of him, that it is not easy to discover it. Indeed, ridiculous miracles in abundance are reported of him: as, that upon occasion of a great number of people resorting from all parts to hear him preach, for the greater advantage of his being heard, a mountain all on a sudden rose up miraculously under his feet, and his voice was extended to that degree that he might be distinctly heard for two or three miles round about. Such fantastical miracles as these make up a great part of his history; and, admitting all these to be true (which a wise man would be loth to do), our departed friend had that which is much greater and more excellent than all these, a fervent charity to God and men, which is more than to speak (as they

[blocks in formation]

would make us believe St David did) with the tongue of men and angels, more than to raise or remove mountains.

I will add but one thing more concerning our deceased brother, that though he meddled not at all in our present heats and differences as a party, having much better things to mind; yet, as a looker-on, he did very sadly lament them, and for several of the last years of his life he continued in the communion of our Church, and, as he himself told me, thought himself obliged in conscience so to do.

He died in the seventy-seventh year of his age, Oct. 29, 1681. It so pleased God that his death was very sudden— and so sudden, that in all probability he himself hardly perceived it when it happened, for he died in his sleep; so that we may say of him as it is said of David, "after he had served his generation according to the will of God, he fell asleep."

I confess that a sudden death is generally undesirable, and therefore with reason we pray against it, because so very few are sufficiently prepared for it: but to him the constant employment of whose life was the best preparation for death that was possible, no death could be sudden; nay, it was rather a favour and blessing to him, because by how much the more sudden so much the more easy: as if God had designed to begin the reward of the great pains of his life in an easy death. And indeed it was rather a translation than a death; and, saving that his body was left behind, what was said of Enoch may not unfitly be applied to this pious and good man with respect to the suddenness of his change-he "walked with God, and was not, for God took him."

The Gunpowder Plot.

[One or two expressions in this sermon shew stronger feeling-almost amounting to excitement-than is characteristic of Tillotson. He was not only roused by the subject, but by the threatening aspect of the times.]

I will not trouble you with the particular narrative of this dark conspiracy, nor the obscure manner of its discovery, which Bellarmine himself acknowledges not to have been "without a miracle." Let us thank God that it was so happily discovered and disappointed, as I hope their present design will be by the same wonderful and merciful providence of God towards a most unworthy people. And may the lameness and halting of Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, never depart from that order, but be a fate continually attending all their villanous plots and contrivances.

I shall only observe to you, that after the discovery of this plot the authors of it were not convinced of the evil, but sorry for the miscarriage of it. Sir Everard Digby, whose very original papers and letters are now in my hands, after he was in prison, and knew he must suffer, calls it "the best cause;" and was extremely troubled to hear it "censured by Catholics and priests, contrary to his expectation, for a great sin. Let me tell you," says he, "what a grief it is, to hear that so much condemned, which I did believe would have been otherwise thought of by Catholics." And yet he concludes that letter with these words, "In how full joy should I die, if I could do any thing for the cause which I love more than my life." And in another letter he says, he could have said something to have mitigated the odium of this business, as to that point of involving those of his own religion in the common ruin : "I dare not," says he, "take that course that I could to make appear less odious, for divers were to have been brought out of danger, who now would rather hurt them than otherwise. I do not think there would have been three worth the saving that should have been lost." And as to the rest that were to have been swallowed up in that destruction, he seems not to have the least relenting in his mind about them. doubts he seems to have looked upon as temptations, and entreats his friends "to pray for the pardoning of his not





sufficient striving against temptations since this business was undertook."

Good God! that anything that is called religion should so perfectly strip men of all humanity, and transform the mild and gentle race of mankind into such wolves and tigers; that ever a pretended zeal for Thy glory should instigate men to dishonour Thee at such a rate. It is believed by many, and not without cause, that the Pope and his faction are the Antichrist. I will say no more than I know in this matter; I am not so sure that it is he that is particularly designed in Scripture by that name, as I am of the main articles of the Christian faith; but however that be, I challenge Antichrist himself, whoever he be, and whenever he comes, to do worse and wickeder things than these.

But I must remember my text, and take heed of imitating that spirit which is there condemned, whilst I am inveighing against it. And in truth it almost looks uncharitably to speak the truth in these matters, and barely to relate what these men have not blushed to do. I need not, nay I cannot, aggravate these things-they are too horrible in themselves, even when they are expressed in the softest and gentlest words.

I would not be understood to charge every particular person who is, or hath been in the Roman communion, with the guilt of these or the like practices; but I must charge their doctrines and principles with them: I must charge the heads of their Church, and the prevalent teaching and governing part of it, who are usually the contrivers and abettors, the executioners and applauders of these cursed designs.


I do willingly acknowledge the great piety and charity of several persons who have lived and died in that communion, as Erasmus, Father Paul, Thuanus, and many others; who had in truth more goodness than the principles of that religion do either incline men to, or allow of. And yet he that considers how universally almost the Papists in Ireland were engaged in

that massacre, which is still fresh in our memories, will find it very hard to determine how many degrees of innocency and good nature, or of coldness and indifferency in religion, are necessary to overbalance the fury of a blind zeal and a misguided conscience.

I doubt not but Papists are made like other men. Nature hath not generally given them such savage and cruel dispositions, but their religion hath made them so. Whereas true Christianity is not only the best, but the best-natured institution in the world; and so far as any Church is departed from good nature, and become cruel and barbarous, so far is it degenerated from Christianity. I am loth to say it, and yet I am confident it is very true, that many Papists would have been excellent persons, and very good men, if their religion had not hindered them; if the doctrines and principles of their Church had not perverted and spoiled their natural dispositions.

I speak not this to exasperate you, worthy patriots and the great bulwark of our religion, to any unreasonable or unnecessary, much less unchristian severities against them: no, let us not do like them; let us never do anything for religion that is contrary to it. But I speak it to awaken your care thus far, that if their priests will always be putting these pernicious principles into the minds of the people, effectual provision may be made that it may never be in their power again to put them in practice. We have found by experience, that ever since the Reformation they have been continually pecking at the foundations of our peace and religion; when, God knows, we have been so far from thirsting after their blood, that we did not so much as desire their disquiet, but in order to our own necessary safety, and indeed to theirs.

« PreviousContinue »