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Harmony for Twenty-one Years, bringing Serm.' forth valuable Things out of the good, XV. Treasures of his Head and Heart; communicative of any Thing that was good, he would have engrossed nothing to himselfbut his Sufferings,which yet he could not engross; for every good-natured Person that saw him, could not but suffer with a Man, by and from whom they were to suffer nothing. The same sound Principles, from which he never swerved, and of which he never expressed the least Diffidence, which he had unanswerably defended in his Health, supported and invigorated his Spirits during his Sickness; and he died a little before his Entrance on his Fifty-eighth Year, with the same Composure with which he lived; and is now gone to offer up to God a whole Life laid out, or rather worn out in his Service. For.he was like a Light in the Sanctuary, that wastes and consumes itself in mining out before Men, that they may glorify their Father which is in Heaven. with well-doing; he knew not what it was to be idle, the Time never lay upon his Hands, and therefore he was a Stranger to the Spleen, Melancholy, and imaginary Uneasinesses, which are often as vexatious as real ones. He was a remarkable Instance, that hard Study does not always four a Man's Temper, though Idleness most certainly does, •the Parent of Fretfulness,
B b 2 Peevishness,
SERM. Peevishness, and an Acrimony of Spirít.
In Health he was always easy, because never idle ; always employed in, but never encumbered with Business. He resolved Cases of Conscience, he removed Doubts and Scruples; his Assistance was often asked, and never, I believe, refused, when any useful Work of Learning was on Foot.
What chiefly endeared him was, not that he had gained a compleat Victory over Arians and Socinians : It was, that he had gained (a much nobler Conquest) a Conquest over himself. For his Reason feemed to have got the better as much over his. Passions in Matters of Practice, as it had over his Imagination in Matters of Belief.
I have now paid the Debt of Gratitude, which I owed to a great and good Man of the clearest Head I ever conversed with, and, what is still more valuable, of an honest Heart; who never, through Weakness, mistook, nor through Fear, deferted, nor through Interest, betrayed the Cause of Religion. I shall always reckon it my greatest Honour, that I am, in a particular Manner, obliged to him ; to whom the Christian World in general is obliged for his excellent Works; whom I reverenced as a Father, to whom I had Recourse as my Guide, and who received mealways with that genuine Flow of Good-nature, and Openness of Soul, which distinguishes the Friend.
It is a melancholy Reflection, that who-S er m. ever dares vigorously assert, and stedfastly adhere to the Doctrines of the Church of England, must expect to be branded with opprobrious Terms, and decried as a Bigot. It will be of little Avail to him, that his Abilities are uncommon; his Notions must be fo too, to recommend them to the Vogue of the Age. As if some Men were not as liable to a fond Attachment, or (what is the same Thing) Bigotry to their own singular Notions, sometimes the Result of Pride and Vanity; as others are to the received fundamental Doctrines of a Protestant Church, which have stood the Test of Ages, ever attacked, and ever triumphant. Our own particular darling Tenets, by which we stand distinguished from the Bulk of Christians, we look upon, as our private Enclosures, our private Walks, in which we have a Property exclusive of others, and which we take Care to cultivate, beautify, and fence in against all Invaders: The received Notions, however important, we are more indifferent to, as the common Field, or public Walks, which lie open to every Body.
At such a Juncture it cannot be improper, however unfashionable it may be, to bear my Testimony to the Merit of a Man who dared to think deeply and thoroughly for himself; though he did not think by himself.
B b 3
Ser m. And give me Leave to conclude his Character
by observing: That a Man must have had an exceeding good, or an exceeding bad Head and Heart, who could converse oft and long with him, without becoming wiser as to the former, and better as to the latter *
* Having so often mentioned his Clearness of Reasoning, it may not be improper to give the following Instance of it. In the Year 1714, at the Commencement, he kept a Divinity Act for his Batchelor of Divinity's Degree. His first Question was, Whether Arian Subscription was lawful? A Question worthy of him, who had the Integrity to abhor, with a generous Scorn, all Prevarication ; and the Capacity to see through and detect those evasive Arts, by which fome would palliate their Disingenuity. When Dr. James, the Professor, had endeavoured to answer his Thesis, and embarrass the Question with the Dexterity of a Person long practised in all the Arts of a subtle Disputant; he immediately replied in an extempore Discourse of above Half an Hour long, with such an easy Flow of proper and fignificant Words, and such an undisturbed Presence of Mind, as if he had been reading, what he has since printed, The Case of the Arian Subscription considered, and the Supplement to it ; he unravelled the Profeffor's Fallacies, reinforced his own Reasonings, and shewed himself so perfect a Master of the Language, the Subject, and himfelf; that all agreed, No one ever appeared to greater Advantage. There were several Members of the University of Oxford there, who remember the great Applauses he received, and the uncommon Satisfaction which he gave.
He was happy in a first Opponent, one of the brightest Ornaments of the Church, and fineft Writers of the Age, who gave full Play to his Abilities, and called forth all that Strength of Reason, of which he was Mafter,
He He is now far above, as indeed he was S ER M. in his Life, the Reach of the inveterate XV. Malice of little Writers; and he needs not our Praises : He has received that Praise which is infinitely more valuable than the united Commendations of all created Beings, the invaluable Praise of his great Creator ; Well done, thou good and faithful Servant : Enter thou into the Joy of thy Lord. It is not in our Power to defend Christianity, as he did, by unanswerable Writings : But it is in our Power, and should be in our Inclination, to adorn it, as he did likewise, by our Lives and Conversation.
Then in the Article of Death, when the Soul reflects that the next important Moment may be decisive of her eternal Happiness or Misery, that he may, in the Twinkling of an Eye, appear unveiled at the dread Tribunal of Justice ; when, on these Considerations, without a great Share of supernatural Affistance, a certain Fearfulness is apt to come upon the best, and an horrid Dread to overwhelm the worst; then may we depart in Peace, as he did, out of this World, with Hopes full of a blessed Immortality in the next, through the Merits of our Saviour.
Then may we, with a vital Sense of the Divine Goodness, bid Adieu to all sublunary Things : Welcome Death, to the Wicked the King of Terrors, but to the