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SUMMARY of the Life and CHARACTER
JOHN COLET, D. D. Dean of St. Paul's,
The Reigns of K. HENRY VII. and HENRY VIII.
And Founder of St. Paul's SCHOOL, LONDON.
PSA L M CXII. 6.
THE RIGHTEOUS SHALL BE HAD IN EVERLASTING REMEM
S the principal and most laudable design of this Anniversary
brotherly love, and the social duties of life, from the confideration of some: particular connections, by which, exclusive of what belongs to us in common with all men and christians, we are more nearly united and linked one to another ; I conceived I could not enter upon any subject more acceptable and pertinent to our present purpose, than the subject of Benevolence, and especially that species of it which intends the good of pofterity: such a subject will: naturally possess our thoughts with a lively warmth of gratitude towards that eminently great man, who established that seat of learn
ing, where a great part of this auditory have received their first cducation, and which consequently claims their highest regard.
The duty of BENEVOLENCE is so obvious and self-evident, the reafons for it so strong, and the virtue itself fo amiable and praiseworthy, that to expatiate on so copious a subject, is like entering into a large and well cultivated garden, where the prospects around us are so numerous and beautiful, that the senses are in a manner bewildered, with a variety of the most alluring objects. In whatever light we view this heavenly virtue, it fills the mind with the most agreeable ideas.- The Almighty has implanted in the heart of - man a tender and compassionate regard for all his fellow-creatures : -how else should we be able to account for that pleasing sensation, which we receive from the bare recital of a truly benevolent action? 1 appeal to the experience of every one here present, Whether he can resist the joy that arises in his mind on such an occasion ? And if a description can create such an exalted pleafure, what reat satisfaction must accrue to that person, whose conscious heart, in a kind of transport, shall say to him, --THOU ART THE
As we have received benefit by those who went before us ; have borrowed light from their light, and lived upon the effects of their benevolence ; fo should the rising generation feel the warmth of ours. In how miserable a state should we have come into the world, and how wretchedly should we have lived in it, had nothing been done for us, had we laid under no obligations to our predecessors ? Ifall arts and sciences, all the helps and conveniences of human life, were to be invented and begun with every age, how rude and unpolished, how mean and abject would the condition of it be? How heavily would it be pressed with the burthen of necessity? How much more painful and laborious would this render the pilgrimage of man, which as it is, with all its advantages, has still its fufficient Thare of trouble and incumbrance ? In whạt darkness had we
sat, in reference to the means of our most glorious redemption, had it not pleased the God of wisdom, through the hands of the christians of former centuries, to have delivered down to us those inestimable treasures, the sacred scriptures ?
It well becomes us, therefore, to have a due sense of the benefits we have received from those who died long before we came into being, but who still live through their extensive benefactions, and gratefully to transmit their memories to latest posterity, particularly those who have founded public schools, and other nurseries of sound and substantial learning; for it is by learning that the powers and capacities of our souls are enlarged, and turned from little and low things, upon their greatest and noblest object, the divine nature; and employed in the discovery and admiration of those various perfections that adorn it. We see what difference there is between man and man ; such, in reality, as there is hardly greater between man and brute ; and this proceeds principally from the different sphere which they act in, and the different objects they converse with; the mind is essentially the faine in the peasant and the prince; the forces of it are naturally equal in the most illiterate man, and the wisest philosopher ; but the time of the former is wholly taken
in the transaction of mean and groveling affairs, and contracted within a very narrow compass; whereas the latter is daily and hourly perhaps engaged in matters of the highest importance: and this it is, and this alone, that occasions the wide distance that : appears between them. Noble objects are to the mind what funbeams are to a bud or flower: they open and unfold its leaves, put it upon exerting and spreading itself every way; and call forth all those powers of nature that lie hid and locked up in the dark recesses of the soul. The benefits of learning are so well known and felt, that there is scarcely a person now to be met with, that has not, through the benevolence of those who lived before him, received, what in former times would have deemed a liberal educa
tion. There is as little necessity, therefore, comparatively speaking, for reminding mankind of the importance of learning, as there is of those two coipmon blessings light and heat, which we all enjoy, and all of us, I hope, with hearts overflowing with gratitude.
Both reason and Scripture loudly tell us, that good men, notwithstanding they are assured of an ample recompence for all their acts of benevolence hereafter, may have an eye to an honest fame in this world, and the praises of generations yet to come ; and I think it is highly probable, that the souls of good men, long since departed this life, may still have intelligence of what is now transatting here below.-Why then may we not indulge ourselves in the pleasing imagination, that our righteous founder is at this very inftant looking down with pleasure and approbation on this our folemn allembly? I own I am pleased with the thought, and if you are animated with the same conjecture, you will with pleasure attend whilst I take a brief furvey of the life of THAT RIGHTEOUS MAN, whose name both we and thousands yet unborn, fhall have ample reason to have in EVERLASTING REMEMBRÁNCE.
Mr. John COLET, was born of very worshipful parents, his much honoured father having been twice Lord-mayor of this city, and his mother a descendant of a very rich and worthy family.They had no less than two and twenty children ; all of whom, John the eldest, survived, and thereby a very ample patrimony devolved upon him. Notwithstanding he had a careful and liberal education at home; yet this laudably ambitious man went to France and Italy for farther improvement. He made all his studies, however, subservient to his principal design ; namely, that of qualifying himself for holy orders ; and on his return from Italy to his native country, his abilities were so conspicuous, that king Henry VII. who took a pleasure in conferring unexpected and unsolicited favours, called him to the Deanery of St. Paul's ; when by his accurate and laboured sermons, he arrived to the character of a most ex