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Oilbert Burnet, bishop of Salisbury 
in the latter end of the seventeenth century, 
was born at Edinburgh, ia 1643, of an 
ancient family in the shire of Aberdeen. 
His father, being bred to the law, was, at 
the restoration of king Charles II., appoint- 
ed one of the lords of session, with the ti- 
tle of lord Crimond, in reward for his 
constant attachment to the royal party 
during the troubles of Great-Britain. Our 
author, the youngest son of his father,. 


was instructed by him in the Latin tongue. 
At ten years of age, he was sent to con- 
tinue his studies at Aberdeen, and Was 
admitted M. A, before he was, fourteen. 
His own inclination led him to the study 
of the civil and feudal law ; and he used to 
say, that it was from this study he had re- 
ceived more just notions concerning the 
foundations of civil society and govern- 
ment, than those, which some divines at- 
tain. About a year after, he changed his 
mind, and began to apply to divinity, to 
the great satisfaction, of his father. He 
was admitted preacher, before he was eigh- 
teen ; and Sir Alexander Burnet, his 
cousin-german, offered him a benefice ; 
but he refused to accept it. 

In 1663, about two years after the death 
of his father, he came into England ; and 
after six months' stay at Oxford and Cam- 
bridge, returned to Scotland ; which he 

soott left again to make a tour for some 
months, in 1664, in Holland and France. 
At Amsterdam, by the help of a Jewish 
Rabbi, he perfected himself in the Hebrew 
language \ and likewise became acquaint- 
ed with the leading men of the different 
persuasions, tolerated in that country \ as 
Cabvinists, Arminians, Lutherans, Anabap- 
tists, Brownists, Papists,. and Unitarians;; 
amongst each of which, he used frequently 
to declare, he met with men of such un- 
feigned piety and virtue, that he became 
fixed in a strong principle of universal 
charity, and an invincible abhorrence of 
all severities on account of religious dis- 

Upon his return from his travels, he 
was admitted minister of Salton ; • m which 
station he served five years in the* most 
exemplary manner. He drew up a ' me- 
morial, in which he took notice of the grin* 


cipal errou r$ in the conduct of the Scots 
bishops, which he observed qot to be 
conformable to the primitive institution ; 
and sent a copy of it to several of them. 
This exposed him to their resentment : 
but, to show, that he was not actuated with 
a spirit of -ambition, he led a retired course 
of life for two years, which so endanger- 
ed his health, that he was obliged to abate 
his excessive application to study. In 
1669, he published his " Modest and free 
Conference between a Conformist and a 
Non-conformist." He became acquaint- 
ed with the duchess of Hamilton, who 
communicated to him all the papers be- 
longing to her father and uncle ; upon 
which he drew up the 4< Memoirs of the 
dukes of Hamilton. " The duke of 
Lauderdale, hearing he was about this 
work, invited him to London, and introdu- 
ced him to king Charles II. 

He returned to Scotland, and married the 
lady Margaret Kennedy, daughter of the 
earl of Cassils, a lady of great piety and 
knowledge, highly esteemed by the Pres- 
byterians, to whose sentiments she was 
strongly inclined. As there was some dis- 
parity in their ages, that it might remain 
past dispute, that this match was wholly 
owing to inclination, and not to avarice or 
ambition, the day before their marriage our 
author delivered tfyb lady a deed, whereby 
lie renounced all pretensions to her fortune, 
which was very considerable, and must 
otherwise have fallen into his hands, she 
herself having no intention to secure it 

The same year he published his " Vin- 
dication of the Authority, Constitution, 
and Laws of the Church and State of Scot- 
land ;" which, at that juncture, was look- 
ed upon as so great a service, that he was 
again offertd a bishoprick, and a promise 


of the next vacant archbishoptick ; b«t lie 
did not accept H, because he co^kl not ap» 
prove of the measures of the court, th$ 
grand view of which he saw to be the ad- 
vancement of popery. 

Mr. Burnet's intimacy with the duke 
of Hamilton and Lauderdale, occasioned 
him to be frequently sent for by the king 
and the duke of York, who had convert 
sations with him in private* But Lauder- 
dale r conceiving a resentment against him, 
on account of the freedom, with which he 
spoke to him, represented at last to the 
king, that Dr. Burnet was engaged in an 
opposition to his measures* Upon his re- 
turn to London, he perceived, that these 
suggestions had entirely thrown him out of 
die king's favour, though the duke of 
York treated him with greater civility, than 
ever, and dissuaded him from going to 
Scotland. Upon this, he resigned his pro- 

fessorship : at€tfa$gow, and staid at London. 
About this time, the living at Cripple- 
Gate being vacant, the dean and chapter of 

_ * 

St. Paul's, (in whose gift it was,) hearing of 
his circumstances/and the hardships he had? 
tindergone,,. sent him an offer of the bene- 
fice ; but, as he had been informed of their 
first intention on Dr. Fowl- 
er, he generously declined it. In 1675,. at 
the recommendation of lord Hollis^whom' 
he had known m France, ambassadour at 
that court,- he was, by sir Herbottle Grim- 
stone, master of the rolls, appointed preach- 
er of the chapel there, notwithstanding the 
opposition of the court. He was, soon aft 
ter, chosen a lecturer of St. Clement's, and 
became one of the preachers that were, 
most followed in town. In 1679, he pub- 
lished his " History of the Reformation," 
for which he had the thanks of both houses 
d? parliament. The first part of it was 


published in 1679, and the setpnd in 168 lw 
The next year, he published an abridg- 
ment of these two parts* 

Mr. Burnet, about this time, happened 
to be sent for to a woman in sickness, who 
had been engaged in an amour with the 
earl of Rochester. The manner in whichF 
he treated her during her Alness, gave thaC 
lord a great curiosity for being acquainted 
with him ;, whereupon, for a whole winter, 
he spent one evening in a week with Dr. 
Burnet, who discoursed with him upon all 
those topicks»upon which akepticks and 
men of loose morals attack the Christian 
religion. The happy effect of these con- 
ferences occasioned the publication of the life 
and death of that earL In 1682, when the 
administration was changed in favour of 
the duke of York, being much resorted 
to by persons of all ranks and parties, in 
order to avoid returning visits, he built a 



Jafeoratory, aMwent, far above a 
through a -course of chemical experiments; 
Nat long after, he refused a Kving of 300£ 
* year,.*affcred him by the «ar! of Essex, 
on die terms 6f his ftot reading there, but 
m Lcodoiu When the iaquiry concern, 
lug the popish plot was on foot, he was 
frequently seat for and consulted by king 
Charies, with relation to the state of the 
nation. His majesty oflered him the bish- 
oprick of Cbkesfcer, then vacant, if he would 
4&gRge » tore interests ;, but he refused to 
accept k en* these terms. He preached at 
the mils, till 1684, when he wad dismissed 
by aider of the court About this time, 
he published several pieces. 

On king James's accession to die 
tfcrone, having obtained leave to go opt of 
the kingdom* be first went to Paris* and 
lfred thw in. great jpetiretnent, till, con* 
ttacting ***' acquaintance with Itfigadier 



Stouppe, a protestant gentleman in the 
French service, he made a tour-with him 
into Italy. He met with an agreeable re r 
eeption at Rome. Pope Innocent II. , hear- 
ing of our author's arrival, sent the captain 
of the Swiss guards to acquaint him, he 
would give him a private audience in bed, 
to avoid the ceremony of kissing Mis Ho- 
liness' slipper. But Dr. Burnet excused 
himself as well as "he could. Some dis- 
putes, which our author had here* concern- 
ing religion, beginning to be taken notice 
of, made it proper for him to quit the city ; 
which, upon an intimation given him by 
the prince Borghese, he accordingly did. 

He pursued has travels through Swit- 
zerland and Germany. In 1688, he came 
to Utrecht with an intention to settle in 
some one of the Seven Provinces. There 
he received an invitation from the prince 
and princess of Orange (to* whom their 

- / 


party in England had recommended him) 
to come to the Hague, which he accepted. 
He was soon made acquainted with the se- 
cret of their counsels, and advised the fit* 
ting out of a fleet in Holland, sufficient to 
support their designs and encourage their 
friends. This, and the " Account of his 
Travels," in which he endeavoured to 
blend tyranny and popery together, and 
represent them as inseparable, with some 
papers reflecting on the proceedings of 
England, that came out in single sheets, 
and were dispersed in several parts of Eng- 
land, most of which Mr. Burnet owned 
himself the author of, alarmed king James ; 
and were the pccasion of his writing twice 
against him to the princess of Orange, and 
insisting, by his ambassadour, on his being 
forbid the court ; which, after much im- 
portunity, was done, though he continued 

to be trusted and employed as before, the 

Dutch mmister consulting hhn dABy. To 
put an end to' these frequent conferenc es 
with the ministers, a pro sec utio n for high 
treason was set on foot agutist hhn, both in 
England and Scotland. But Burnet re- 
ceiving the news thereof before it arrived 
at the States, he avoided the storm, by peti- 
tioning for and obtaining, without any dif- 
ficulty, a bill of naturalization, in order to 
his intended marriage with Mary Scot, a 
Dutch lady of considerable fortune, who, 
with the advantages of birth, had those of a 
fine person and understanding. 

After his marriage with this lady, being 
legally under the protection of Holland, 
when Mr. Burnet found king James plain- 
ly subverting the constitution, he omitted 
no method to support and promote the de- 
sign the prince of Orange had formed of 
delivering Great-Britain, and came over 
with him in quality of chaplain. He was 

soon aditticcd to ■ die see of SaKsbwyi 
He declared for moderate measures with 
regard to the clergy, who scrupled to take 
the oaths, and many were displeased * with 
him for declaring for the toleration of non- 
conformists. His pastoral letter concern- 
ing the oaths of allegiance and supremacy 
to king William and queen Mary, 1689, 
happening to touch upon the right of con- 
quest, gave such ©flenee to both houses of 
parliament, that it was ordered to be burnt 
by die hands of the common executioner. 
In 1698, he lost His wife, by the small- 
pox ; and as he was almost immediately 
after appointed preceptor to the dtrke of 
Gloucester, in whose education he took 
great care ; this employment, and the ten- 
der ,age of his children, induced him the 
sauae year to supply her loss by a marriage 
with Mrs. Berkely, eldest daughter of sir 
Richard Blake, knight. In 1699, he pub- 


listed his " Exposition of the Thirty-Nine 
Articles ;" which occasioned a representa- 
tion against him in the lower house of 
convocation, in the year 1701 ; but he 
was vindicated by the upper house. His 
speech, in the house of lords, hi "1704, 
against the bill to prevent occasional con- 
formity, was severely, attacked. He died 
in 1715, and was interred in the church of 
St. James, Clerkenwell, where he has a 
monument erected to him. He formed a 
scheme for augmenting the poor livings ; 
which he pressed forward with such suc- 
cess, that it ended in an act of parliament, 
passed in the second year of queen Anne, 
" for the augmentation of thelivings of the 
poor clergy." 



oi thx 





THE celebrating of the praises of the dead, is 
an argument so worn out by long and frequent 
use, and now become so nauseous, by the flattery 
' that usually attends it, that it is no wonder if funeral 
orations, or panegyricks, are more considered for the 
elegancy of style, and fineness of wit, than for the 
authority they carry with them, as to the truth of 
matters of fact. And yet I am not hereby deterred 
from meddling . with this kind of argument, nor 
from handling it with air the plainness I can : deliv- 
ering only what I myself heard and ;saw, without 
any borrowed ornament/ . ' < 

I do easily foresee how^ many will be engaged 
for the support of their impious maxims and impg- 
ral practices* to disparage what I am to write. Otji- 
ers wffll censure it, because it comes from^ ope of 
my profession, too many supposing us to be indu- 

cod to frame such discourses for carrying on what 
they are pleased to call oijr trade. Some will think 
I dress it up too artificially* and others, that I pre- 
sent it too plain and naked. 

But, being resolved to govern myself by the ex- 
act rules of trutb> I shall be less concerned in the 
censures I may fall under. It may seem liable to 
great exception, that I should disclose so many 
thing* that were-diseweredtome, iFwrt under the 
atafr o£ cewftaaion , yet under the c onfidence, of 
ftiefubhip^ butthirnoWe lord himself noronlyw* 
leased * me fmv*att obligations of this- feiud, whenr 1 
waited onitttmi m hi^hwfr ac haean a- few days beffifre 
hej died*, hut, gave»k « meiwehafge* net to spaieJma 
in aagrtthiag, wfcioh 1 thought might-be^uee-totte 
ttwtng^ ap«i «w»s* MtfUft ptea6c4 to be- laid open* «s 
well i»*hfew«8tt«s4n-th» best and Jaetpartrf his 
life;* bong «»<sinoif*ii»Jii*Tepentanae» that he* waa 
anfenmrUtiag to> take sbamo to Aimarif, by sniB t ing 
his faults to be exposed for the- benefit of others. 

K wrke with one great disadvantage— that Tcan* 
Wt reach his chief design, without mentioning 
some ofJ&r&nlts : but I have touched them as ten* 
^et4y a»occas»ir would bear ; and lam sure 'with 


, k 


r f 

much more softness than he desired, or Would have 
consented to, had I told him how I intended to matt* 
age this part. I hare' related nothing whh personal 
reflections on any others concerned with him $ wish- 
ing rather they themselves, reflecting on the sense 
he had of his former ; disorders, may he thereby led 
to forsake their own, than that they should be any 
ways reproached by what I write $ and therefore, 
though he used very few reserves with me, as to 
his course of life, yet, since others had a share m 
most parts of it, I shall relate nothing but what more 
Immediately concerned himself ; and shall say no 
more of his faults, than is necessary to illustrate his 

The occasion, that led me into so particular a 
knowledge of him, was an intimation, given me by a 
gentleman of his* acquaintance, of his desire to see 
me. This was sometime m October, 1679, when 
lie was sldwly recovering out of a great disease. 
He had understood, that I had often attended on one 
well known to him, tip* died the summer before ; 
he was also then entertaining himself, in that low 
state of health, with the first part of the HiHwy of 
the JRefprmattfr) then newly come out, with which 


be. seemed not itt pleased ; and we had accidentally 
juet in two or three places some time before. 

Those were the orativeMhat led him to call far 
my company. After I had wailed on him once or 
twicer he grew into that freedom with me, as to open 
to me all his thoughts, both of religion and morali- 
ty, and tagive me a full view of his past life,: and 
seemed not uneagy at my frequent visits* So, till he 
went from London, which was in the beginning of 
April, I waited on him often. 

As soon as I heard how ill he was, and how 
much he was torched with the sense of his farmer 

life, I wrote to him, and received from him an an- 


swer, that, without my knowledge, was printed since 
his death, from a copy, which one of his servants 
conveyed to the press* In it there is so undeserved 
a value put on me, that it had been very indecent for 
me to have published it : yet that must be attributed 
to bis; civility and way of breeding : and indeed be 
was particularly known to so &w of the clergy, that 
the good opinion he had of me> is to be imputed on- 
ly to his ^acquaintance with others. 

My end in writing, is so to discharge the last 
commands this lord left on me, as tbtft it may be ofr 
fectuai to awaken those, who run on to dl the s&ces- 

aeaofriot ; aadthat in the mid* c* Arose heats, 
which their foists and: passions raise ift them, they 
may be a tittle wrought on &y so great an-ftistance 
of one, wb© bad tud round the whole eircleof ltixu* 
ty-l and, as Sotokon says of himself, *taw*ee*#r Am 
eye* dcared, he toefit it not from them ; and withheld 
hU heart from no joy , Bat Wfceit he looked bat k, ott 
aH tbat, on which Ire had waited his time and 
sotttgthy he esteemed k vanity and vexation of spi- 
rit : though he had both as much natural wit* and 
as much acquired learning, and fas as much im- 
proved by thinking and study, as perhaps any lib- 
ertine of the age. Yet, when he reflected on all his 
former courses* even before his mind was illumina- 
ted with better thoughts, he counted them madness 
and folly. 

But when the power pf religion came to operate 
on him, he added a detestation to the contempt he 
formerly had of them, suitable to what became a 
sincere penitent, and expressed himself in so clear 
and so calm a manner; so sensible of his failings to* 
wards his Maker and his Redeemer, that, as it 
wrought not a little on those, that were about him, 
so, I hope, the making it publick may have a more 
general influence, chiefly on those on whom his for- 
mer conversation might have had ill effects. 



I have endeavoured to gire his character as fully 
as I could take it ; hut as I saw him only in one 
light, hi a sedate and quiet temper, when he was un- 
der a great decay of strength and loss of spirits ; J 
cannot give his picture with that life and advantage 
that others may, who knew hkn when his parts 'were 
more lively : yet the composure he was then in may 
perhaps be supposed to balance any abatement of 
his usual vigour, which the decline of his health 
brought him under. 

I have written this discourse with as much care, 
and have considered it as narrowly as I could. I 
am sure, I have said nothing but truth. I have done 

it slowly, and often used my second thoughts in it ; 
not being so much concerned in the censures which 
might fall on myself, as cautious that nothing should 
pass, that might obstruct my only design of writing, 
which is the doing what I can towards reforming a 
loose and lewd age. 

And if such a signal instance, concurring with 
all the evidence we have for our most ho y faith has 
no effect on those who are running the sume course, 
it is much to be feared they are given up to a repro- 
bate sense. 


or THE 


JOHN WILMOT, earl of Rochester, 
was born in April, Anno Domini, 1648. 
His father was Henry, earl of Rochester, 
but best known by the title of lord WU- 
mot, who bore so conspicuous a part in all 
the late wars, that mention is often made of 
him in the history. He had the chief share 
in the honour of the preservation of Charles 
IL after Worcester fight, and the convey, 
ing him from place to place, till he happily 


escaped into France ; but, dying before the 
king's return, he left his son little other in- 
heritance, than the honour and title derived 
to him, % with the pretensions such eminent 
services gave him to the king's favour. 
These were carefully»managed by the great 
prudence and discretion of his mother, a 
daughter of that noble and ancient family of 
the St. Johns of Wiltshire, so that his ed- 
ucation was carried on in all things accord- 
ing to his quality. 

When he was at school, he was an ex- 
traordinary proficient at his book ; and 
those shining parts, which have since ap- 
peared vpith so much lustre, began then to 
shew themselves. He acquired the Latin 
to such perfection, that, to' his dying day, 
he retained a great relish for the fineness 
and beauty of that tongue ; and was exact- 
ly versed in the incomparable authors, that 
wrote about Augustus's time, whom he 
read often with that peculiar delight, which 
the greatest wits have ever found in those 

-When he went to the university, the 



general joy, that over-ran the whole nation 
upon his majesty r s restoration, but was not 
: regulated with that sobriety and tempe- 
rance, that became a serious gratitude tor 
God for so great a blessing, produced some 
of its ill effects on him : He began to love 
these disorders too much. 

His tutor was that eminent and pious 
divine, Dr. Blandford, afterwards promo- 
ted to the sees of Oxford and Worcester, 
And under his inspection, he was commit- 
ted to the more immediate care of Mr. 
Phinehas Berry, a fellow of Wadham col- 
lege, a very learned and good-natured man, 
whom he afterwards used with much re- 
spect, and rewarded as became a great 
man. But the humour of that time 
wrought so much on him, that he broke 
off the course of his studies, to which no 
means could ever effectually recal him ; 
till, when he was in Italy, his governour, 
Dr. Balfour, (a worthy and learned man, 
now a celebrated physician in Scotland, his 
native country) drew him to read such 
books, as were most likely to bring him 


back to love learning and study : and he 
often acknowledged to me, in particular 
three days before his death, how much he 
was obliged to love and honour this govern- 
Our, to whom he thought he owed more, 
than to all the world, next to his parents, 
for his care and fidelity of him, while he 
was under his trust* 

But no part of it affected him more sen- 
sibly, than that he engaged him by many 
tricks (so he expressed it) to delight in 
books and reading ; so that, ever after, he 
took occasion, in the intervals of those wo- 
ful extravagances, that consumed most of 
his time, to read much : and though the 

• * 

time was generally but indifferently em- 
ployed, (for the choice of the subjects of 
his studies was not always good) yet the 
habitual love of knowledge,, together with * 
these fits of study, had much awakened his 
uhderstanding, and prepared him for better 
things, when his mind should be so far 
changed as to relish them. 

He came from his travels in the 18th 
year of his age, and appeared at court with 


m 9 -■■■*■*■ q>vH'"<f 


as great advantages as most ever had. He 
was a graceful and well- shaped person, tall, 
and well made, if not a little too slender. 
He was well bred ; and what, by a modes J 
behaviour natural to him, and what, by a 
civility become almost as natural, his con- 
versation was easy and obliging. He had 
a strange vivacity of thought, and vigour 
of expression. His wit had a subtilty and 
sublimity that were scarcely imitablc His 
style was clear and strong. When he used 
figures, they were very lively, and yet far 
enough out of the common road. He had 
made himself master of the ancient and 
modern wits, and of the modern French and 
Italian, as well as the English. He loved 
to talk and write of speculative matters, 
and did it with so fine a thread, that even 
those, that hated the subjects that his fan- 
cy run upon, could not but be charmed 
with his way of treating them. Boileau 
among the French, and Cowley among 
the English wits, were those he admired 
n^ost. Sometimes other men's thoughts 


mixed with his composures ; but that flow- 
ed rather from the impressions they made 
on him, when he read them, by which they 
came to return upon him as his own 
thoughts, than that he servilely copied 
them from any. For few men ever had a 
bolder flight of fancy, more steadily gov- 
erned by judgment, than he had. No 
wonder a young man, so made and so im- 
proved, was very acceptable in a court. 

Soon after his coming thither, he laid 
hold on the first occasion that offered, to 
shew his readiness to hazard his life in the 
defence and service of his country. 

In the winter of 1605, he went with 
the earl of Sandwich to sea, when he was 
sent to lie in wait for the Dutch East- India 
fleet ; and was in the Revenge, commanded 
by sir Thomas Tiddiman, when the attack 
was made on the port of Bergen in Nor* 
way, the Dutch ships having got into that 
port. It was as desperate aji attempt as 
ever was made : during the whole action, 
the earl of Rochester shewed as brave and 
as resolute courage, as was possible. A 


pefson of honour told me* He heard the lorA 
Clifford, who was in the same ship, often 
magnify his courage at that time very high- 
ly. Nor did the rigours of the season, the 
hardness of the voyage, and the extreme 
dangers he had been- in, deter him from 
running the like on the very next occasion : 
for, in the summer following, he went to 
sea again, without communicating bis de- 
sign to his nearest relations. He went on 
board the ship commanded by sir Edward 
Sprague, the day before the great sea-fight 
of that year. Almost all the volunteers, 
that were in the same ship, were killed* 
Mr, Middleton, (brother to sir Hugh Mjd- 
dleton) was shot in his arm. During the 
action, sir Edward Sprague, not being sat- 
isfied with the behaviour of one of the cap- 
' tains, could not easily find a person, who 
would cheerfully venture through so much 
danger, to carry his commands to that cap- 
taifc. This lord offered himself to the ser- 
- vice ; and went in a little boat through all 
the shot, and delivered his message, and 
returned back to sir Edward : which was 


much commended by all that saw it. He 
thought it necessary to begin his life with 
these demonstrations of his courage, in an 
element and way of fighting, which is ac- 
knowledged to be the greatest trial of clear 
and undaunted valour. 

He had so entirely laid down the in- 
temperance, that was growing on him be- 
fore his travels, that, at his return, he hated 
nothing more. But, falling into company 
that loved these excesses, he was, though 
not without difficulty, and by many steps, 
brought back to it again ; and the natural 
heat of his fancy, being inflamed by wine, 
made him so extravagantly pleasant, that 
many, to be more diverted by that humour, 
studied to engage him in deeper and deep- 
er intemperance ; which at length did so 
entirely subdue him, that, as he told me, 
for five years" together, he was continually 
drunk : not all the while under the visible 
effect of it, but his blood was so inflamed, 
that he was not in all that time cool enough 
to be perfectly master of himself. This 



led him to say and do many wild ancl u«U 
accountable things. By this, he said, he 
had broken the firm constitution of bis 
health, which seemed so strong, that noth* 
ing was too hard for it ; and he had suffer- 
ed so much in his reputation, that he almost 
despaired to recover in 

There were principles in his natural 
temper, that,, being heightened by that 
heat, carried him to great excesses — a vio- 
lent love of pleasure, and a disposition to 
extravagant mitftru The one involved him 
in great sensuality ; the other led him to 
many odd adventures and frolicfcs, in 
which he was often in hazard of his life. 
The one being the same irregulat; appetite 
in mind, that the other was in his body, 
which made him think nothing diverting, 
that was not extravagant. And though in 
cold blood he was a generous and good* 
natured man, yet he would go -too far in 
his heats, after any thing that might turn to 
a jest or matter of diversion. 

He said to me, that he never improved 
his interest at court to <k> a premeditated 1 


mischief toother persons. Yet he laid out 
his wit very fredly in libels and satires, in 
which he had a peculiar talent of mixing 1 
his wit with his. malice, ^nd fitting both 
with such apt words, that men were tempt- 
ed to be pleased with them ; from thence 
his composures came to be easily known, 
for few had such a way of tempering these 
together 4s he had. So that, when any 
thing extraordinary that way came out, as a 
child is sometimes fathered by its resem- 
blance; so it was laid at his door as its pa- 
rent and author. 

These exercises in the course of his 
life were not always equally pleasant to 
him ; he had often sad intervals and severe 
reflections on them* And though then he 
had not these awakened in him from atiy 
principle of religion, yet the horror, that na- 
ture raised in him, especially in some sick- 
nesses, made him too easy to receive some 
ill principles, which others endeavoured to 
possess him with ; so that he was soon 
brought to set himself to secure and fortify 
bis mind against that, by dispossessing it. 


.all he could, of the belief or apprehension 
of religion. 

The licentiousness of his temper, with 
the briskness of his wit, disposed him to 
love the conversation of those, who divided 
their time between lewd actions and irregu- 
lar mirth ; and so came to bend his wit 
and direct his studies and endeavours to 
strengthen and support these ill principles 
both in himself and others. 

An accident fell out after this, which 
confirmed him more in these courses. 
When he went to sea, in the year 1665, 
there happened to be in the same ship with 
him, Mr. Montague, and another gentleman 
of quality ; these two, the former especial- 
ly, seemed persuaded, that they should 
never return to England. Mr. Montague 
said, he was sure of it ; the other was not 
so positive. The earl of Rochester, and 
the last of these, entered into a formal en- 
gagement, not without ceremonies of reli- 
gion, that, if either of them died, he should 
appear and give the other notice of the fu- 
ture state, if there was any. Mr. Mon- 


tague would not enter into the boni. 
When the day came, that they thought to 
have taken the Dutch -Beet in the port of 
•Bergen, Mr. Montague, though he had 
such a strong presage in his mind of his 
approaching death, yet generally staid afl 
the while in a place of the greatest danger. 
The other gentleman signalised his* cour- 
age in a most undaunted manner, till near 
the end of the action, when the fell on a 
sudden into a trembling, so that he could 
scarcely stand : and, Mr. Montague going 
up to him to hold him up, as they were in 
each other's arms, a cannon-ball kilted him 
outright, and carried away Mr. Montague's 
belly, so that he died within an hour after. 
The earl of Rochester told me, that 
these presages, they had in their minds, 
made some impression on him, that there 
were separate beings ; and that the sold, 
either by a natural sagacity, or some secret 
notice communicated to it, had a sort of 
divination. But that gentleman's never 
appearing was a great snare to him during 
the rest of his life. Though, when he told 

Hie this, he could not but acknowledge, 
that it was an unreasonable thing to think, 
that beings in another state were net under 
such laws and limits, that they could not 
command their own motions, but as the 
Supreme Power should order them ; and 
that one, who had so corrupted the natural 
principles of truth, as he had, had no reason 
to expect, that such an extraordinary thing 
should be done for his conviction. 

He also told me of another odd presage, 
that one had of his approaching death,in his 
mother-in-law's (the lady Warre) house. 
The chaplain dreamed, that, such a day, he 
should die, but, being by all the family put 
put of the belief of it, he had almost forgot- 
ten it ; till, the evening before, at supper, 
there being thirteen at table, according to 
foftd conceit, that one of these must soon 
die, one of the young ladies pointed to him, 
that he was to die. He N remembering his 
dream, feH into some disorder, and the la- 
dy Warre reproving him for his supersti- - 
tion, he said, he was conident he was to 



die before morning ; but, he being in per- 
feet health, it was not much minded. It 
"was Saturday night, and he was to preach 
the next day. He went to bis chamber, 
and sat up late, as appeared by the burning 
of his candle, and had been preparing his 
notes for his sermon, but was found dead 
in his bed the next morning. These 
things,, he said, led him to believe, the 
soul was a substance distinct from matter ; 
and this often returned into his thoughts. 
But that, which perfected his persuasion 
' about it, was, that in the sickness, which 
brought him so near his death before I first 
fcnew him, when his spirits were so low 
and spent, that he could <not move nor stir, 
and did not expect to live an hour ; he said, 
his reason and judgment were so clear and 
-strong, that from thence he was fully per- 
suaded, that death was not the spending or 
dissolution o? the soul, but only the sepa- 
ration of it from matter* He had in that 
•sickness great remorses for his past life ; 
but he afterwards told me, they were rath- 
er general and dark horrors, than any con- 

• 39 

vktions of sinning against God. He was 
sorry he lived so as to waste- his strength so 
soon, or that he had brought such an ill 
name upon himself ; and had an agony in 
his mind about it, " which he knew hot 
well how to express. But at such times, 
though he complied with his friends in suf- 
fering divines to be sent for, he said he had 
no great mind to it ; and that it was but a' 
piece of his breeding, to desire them to 
pray by him, in which he joined but little 
himself. «- 

As to the Supreme Being, he had al* 
ways some impression of one ; and profes- 
sed often to me, that he had never known 
an entire atheist, who fully believed there 
was no God. Yet, when he explained his 
notion of that being, it amounted to no 
more than a vast power, that had none of 
the attributes of goodness and justice we 
ascribe to the Deity. Th^le were his 
thoughts about religion, as he himself told 
me. . 

For morality, he freely owned to me, 
that, though he talked of it as a fine thing, 


yet this was only because he thought it a 
decent way of speaking ; and that, as they 
went always in clothes, though in their 
frolicks they would have chosen sometimes 
to have gone naked, if they had not feared, 
the people ; so, though some of diem 
found it necessary for human life to talk of 
morality, yet he confessed thfey cared not 
for it, further than the reputation of it was 
necessary for their credit and aflairs ; of 
which he gave me many instances, as their 
professing and swearing friendship, where 
they hated morality ; their oaths and im- 
precations in their addresses to women, 
which they intended neyer to make good ; 
the pleasure they took in defaming inno- 
cent persons, and spreading false reports of 
some, perhaps in tevenge, because they 
could not engage them to comply witlv 
their ill designs ; the delight they had in 
making people quarrel ; . their unjust usage 
of their creditors, and putting them off by 
any deceitful promise they could invent, 
that might deliver them from present im- 
portunity. So that, in detestation of these 


courses, he would often break forth into 
such hard expressions concerning himself, 
as would be indecent for another to re- 
peat. ' 

Such had been his principles and prac- 
tices in a course of many years, which had 
almost quite extinguished the natural pro- 
pensities in him to justice and virtue. He 
would often go into the country, and be for 
some months wholly employed in study, or 
the salHes of his wiV; - which he directed 
chiefly to satire. And this he often defen- 
ded to me, by saying, there were some peo* 
pie, who could not be kept in order or ad- 
monished but in thi&,way. I replied, that it 
might be granted, that a grave way of satire 
was sometimes no unprofitable way of re- 
proof ; yet they, who used it only out of 
spite, and mixed lies with truth, sparing 
fcpthirig, that might «adorn their poems, or 
gratify their revenge, could not excuse that 
way of reproach, by which the innocent 
often suffer ; since the most malicious 
things, if wittily expressed, might stick to 


and btemi&h the best character in the 
world ; and the malice of a libel could 
hardly consist with the charity of an admo^ 
nition. To this he answered, that a man 
could not write with life, unless he was 
heated by revenge : for, to make a satire, 
without resentment, on the cold notions of 
philosophy y was as if a man would in cold 
blood cut men's throats, who had never of- 
fended him. And he said, the lies in these 
libels came often in as ornaments, that 
could not be spared, without spoiling the 
beauty of the poem. 

For his other studies, they were divid- 
ed between the comical and witty writings 
of the ancients and moderns, the Roman 
authors, and books of physick, which the ill 
state of health he was fallen into made 
more necessary to himself; and which 
qualified him for an od<i adventure, which I 
shall but jyst mention. Being under an 
unlucky accident, which obliged him to 
keep out of the waVj he disguised himself 
so that his nearest friends could not have 

' 43 

known him, and set up in Tower-street for 
an Italian mountebank, where he practised 
physick for some weeks, not without suc- 
cess. In his latter years he read books of 
history more. He took pleasure to , dis- 
guise himself as a porter, or as a beggar J 
sometimes to follow some mean amours, 
which, for the variety of them, he affected. 
At other times, merely for diversion, he 
would go about in odd shapes, in which 
he acted his part so naturally, that even 
those that were in the secret, and saw him 
in these shapes, could perceive nothing by 
which he'tnight be discovered. 

I have now made the description of his 
former lite and principles, as fully as I 
thought necessary to answer my end in 
writing ; and yet with those reserves, that, 
I hope, I have given no just cause of of- 
fence to any. I have said nothing, but 
what I had from his own mouth ; and have 
avoided the mentioning of the more partic- 
ular passages of his life, of which he told 
me not a few. But since others were con- 
cerned in them, whose good only I design, 


I will say nothing that may provoke or 
blemish them. It is their reformation, and. 
not their disgrace, I desire. This tender 
consideration of others, has made me sup- 
press many remarkable and useful things 
he told me. But finding, that though I 
should name none, yet I must relate such 
circumstances as would give great occa- 
sion for the reader to conjecture, concern- 
ing the persons intended, right or wrong, 
either of which were inconvenient enough, 
I have chosen to pass them quite over. 
But I hope those, that know how much 
they were engaged with him in his ill 
courses, will be somewhat touched with 
this tenderness I express towards them ; 
and be thereby rather induced to reflect on 
their ways, and to consider, without preju- 
dice or passion, what a sense this noble 
lord had of their case, when he came at 
last seriously to reflect upon his own. 

I now tqrn to those parts of this narra- 
tive, wherein I myself bore some share ; and 
which" I am to deliver, upon the observa- 
tions I made, after a long and free conver- 

. 45' 

sation with him for some months. I was 
not long in his company, before he told 
me, he should treat me with more freedom, 
than he had ever used to men of my pro- 
fession. He would conceal none of his 
principles from me, but lay his thoughts. 
open without any disguise ; nor would he 
do it to maintain debate or shew his wit, 
but plainly tell me what stuck with him. 
And he protested to me, that he was not so 
engaged to his old maxims, as to resolve' 
not to change ; but, if he could be con- 
vinced* he would choose rather to be of * 
another mind. He said, he would impar- 
tially weigh, what I should lay before him ; 
and tell me freely, when it did convince 
him, and when it did not. He expressed 
this disposition of mind to me in a manner 
so frank, that I could not but believe him, 
and be much taken with his way of dis- 
course. So we entered into almost all the 
parts of natural and of revealed religion, and 
of morality. He seemed pleased, and in a 
great measure satisfied, with what I said on 
many df these heads. And though our 



freest conversation was when we wens' 
alone, yet, upon several occasions, other 
persons were witnesses to it. I understood 
from many hands, that my company was 
not distasteful to him, and that the sub- 
jects, about which we talked most, were 
not linacceptable. And he expressed him- 
self often not ill pleased with many things I 
said ,to him, and particularly when I visited 
him' in his last sickness : so that, I hope, it 
may not be altogether unprofitable to pub- 
lish the substance of those matters, about 
which we argued so freely, with our reas- 
oning upon them. And perhaps what had 
some effect on him may not be altogether 
ineffectual upon others, 

I followed him with such arguments, as 
I found were most likely to prevail with 
him. And my not urging other reasons, 
proceeded not from any distrust I had of 
their force, but from the necessity of using 
those that were most proper for him. He 
was then in a low state of health, and 
seemed to be slowly recovering from a 
great disease. He was in. the mUk diet, 


a&d apt to fall into hectick fits : any accident 
weakened him, so that he thought he could 
not live long* And when he went from 
London, he said he believed he never 
should come Jo town more. Yet, during 
his being in town, he was so well, that he 
went often abroad, and had great vivacity of 
spirits. So that he was under no such de- 
cay, as either darkened or weakened his un- 
derstanding ; nor was he any way troub- 
led wkh the spleen or vapours* or under the 
power of melancholy. 

What he was then, compared to what 
he had been formerly, I could not so well 
judge, who had seen him but twice before. 
Others have told. me, they perceived no 
difference in his parts. This I mention 
more particularly, - that it may not be 
thought, that melancholy, or want of spir- 
its, made him more inclined to receive any 
impressions ; for indeed L never discovered 
any such thing in him. 

Having thus opened my way to die 
heads of our discourse, I shall next mention 
ihem. The three chief things we talked 


about were, morality, natural rejigitm* a&9 
Revealed religion, Christianity in particular. 
Tor morality, he confessed he saw the ne- 
cessity of it, both for the government of 
the world, and the preservation of health* 
life, and friendship ; and was very much 
ashamed of his former practices, rather be- 
cause he had made himself a beast, and 
brought pain and sickness upon his body, and 
had suffered much in his reputation, than 
from any deep sense of a Supreme Being, 
or another state. But so far this went with 
him, that he firmly resolved to change 
the course of his life, which he thought he 
should effect by the study of philosophy, 
and had not a few solid and pleasant no- 
tionk Concerning the folly and madness of 

vice. But he confessed, he had no remorse 


fot* his past actions or offences against God, 
but only as injuries to himself and to man- 

Upon this subject I shewed him the ef- 
fects of philosophy for reforming the 
world ; that it was a matter of speculation, 
which but few either had {he leisure or the 

49 . 

capacity to inquire into. But the principle, 
that must reform mankind, must be obvi- 
ous to every man's understanding. That 
philosophy, in matters of morality, beyond 
<he great lines of our duty, had no very 
certain, fixed rule ; but the lesser offices 
and instances of our duty went much by 
the fancies of men, and customs of nations ; 
and consequently could not have authority 
enough to bear down the propensities of na- 
ture, appetite, or passion. For which I in- 
stanced'in these two points* 

The one was about that maxim of the 
Stoicks, to extirpate all sorts of passion and 
concern for any thing. That, take it on 
one hand, seemed desirable ; because if it 
could be accomplished, it would make all 
the accidents of life easy ; but I think it 
cannot, because nature, after all our striv- 
ing against it, will still return to itself. Yet, 
on the other Jiand, it dissolved the bond of 
nature and friendship, and slackened indus- 
try, which will move but dully without an 
inward heat ; and if it delivered a man of 


many troubles, it deprived him df the chief 
pleasures of life, which arise from friend* 

The other was concerning the restraint 
of pleasure, how far that wafc to go. Upon 
this, he told me, the two maxims of his 
morality then were, that he should do noth- 
ing to the hurt of any other, or that might 
prejudice his own health. And he thought, 
that all pleasure, when it did not interfere 
with these, was to be indulged, as the grati- 
fication of our natural appetites. It seem* 
ed unreasonable to imagine these were put 
into a man only to be restrained, or curbed 
to such a narrowness. This he applied to 
the free use of wine and women. 

To this I answered, that if appetites 
being natural was an argument for indulg- 
ing them, then die revengeful might as well 
allege it for murder,, and the covetous for 
Stealing, whose appetites are no less keen 
on those objects ; and yet it is acknowl- 
edged, that these appetites ought to be 
curbed. If the difference is urged from the 
injury another person receives, the injury is 


as great, if a man's wife is defiled, or hjb 
daughter corrupted : and it is impossible 
for a man to let loose his appetites to va- 
grant lusts, and not transgress in these 
particulars. So there was no curing 
the disorders, that must rise from thence, 
but by regulating these appetites. And 
why should we not as well think) that God 
intended our brutish and sensual appetites 
should be governed by our reason, as that 
the fierceness of beasts should be managed 
and tamed by the wisdom, and for the use, 
i>f man ? So that k is no real absurdity 
to grant, that these appetites were put into 
men on purpose to exercise their reason in 
the restraint and government of them; 
which, to be able to do, ministers a higher 
and more, festing pleasure to a man, than to 
give them their full scope and range* And 
if other rules in philosophy be observed, 
such as the avoiding of those objects that 
stir passions, nothing raises higher passions, 
than ungovcrned lust ; nothing darkens the 
understanding, and depresses a man's 
toind more, nor is any thing managed with 


/wore frequent returns, of other immorali- 
ties, than such oaths and, iipprecatiw* as 
sire only intended lo compaps what i$ desir- 
ed. The expense, that is necessary to 
maintain these irregularities, m^k^s a man 
false in his other dealings. 

All this he freely confessed was true s 
upon which I urged, that if it was. reasona- 
ble for a man to regulate his appetite in 
things which he knew to be hurtful to 

# ■ 

him, was it not reasonable for God to pre- 
scribe a regulation ef these appetites* 
whose unrestrained courses did produce 
such mischievous effects ? That it could 
not be denied, but doing to others what we 
would have others do unto us, was a just 
tfule. Those men then, that knew how 
extremely sensible they themselves would 
be of the disgrace of their families? in case 
of the dishonour, of their wives or daugh- 
ters, must needs condemn themselves fyr 
doing that which they could not bear from 
another. And if 'the peace of mankind, 
and the entire satisfaction of our whole life, 
ought to be ©rte of the chief measures of 



tfiit actions, then let all the world judge, 
whether a man that confines his appetite, 
and lives contented at home, is not much 
happier ,than those who let their desires run 
after forbidden objects. 

The thing being granted to be better in 
kself, then the question falls between the 
restraint of appetite in some instances, and 
the freedom of a man's thoughts, the sound- 
ness of his health, his application to affairs, 
with the easiness of his whole life. Wheth- 
er the one is not to be done before the oth- 
er ? As to the difficulty of such a re- 
straint, tho' it is not easy to be done when a 
man allows himself many liberties, in which 
it is not possible to stop ; yet those, who 
avoid the occasions, that may kindle these 
impure flames, and keep themselves well 
employed, find the victory and dominion 
over them no such impossible or hard mat- 
ter as may seem at first view. 

So that, though the philosophy and mo- 
rality of this, point were plain, yet there is 

5* ' * 


not strength enough in that principle to 
subdue nature and appetite. 

Upon this I urged, that morality could 
not be a strong thing, unless a* man was 
determined by a law within ■ himself : for 
if he only measured himself by decency, 
or the laws <sf the landj this would teach 
him only to use such caution in his ill practi- 
ces, that they should not break out too vis* 
Sbly ; hut would never carry him- to an up- 
ward and universal probity. That vktue 
was of so complicated a nature, that unlesp 
man became entirely within* its discipline, 
he could hot adhere steadfastly to any one 
precept ; for vicea are often made necessa- 
ry supports to one another* That this can- 
not be done cither steadily, or with any 
satisfaction, unless the mind does inwardly 
comply with, and delight in, the dictates 
of virtue ; and that could not be effected, 
except a man's nature was internally regen- 
erated and changed by & higher principle* 
TiU that came about, corrupt nature would 
be strong, and philosophy but feeble ; e$- 

- 5$ 

peck&y when it tftuggfcd with such appe- 
tites or passions a* were much kindled, or 
deeply rooted in- the constitution of one's 

This, he said, sounded to him like en- 
thusiasm qr canting. He had no notion of 
it> and so could not understand it. He 
comprehended the dictates of reason and 
philosophy, in which, as die mind became 
much conversant, there would soon, follow, 
as he believed, a greater eaamess in obeying 
its precepts. 

I told him, on the other hand, that all 
his speculations of philosophy would not 
serve him in afty stead, to the reforming of 
his nature and life, till he applied himself to 
God for inward assistance. It was ccrtaih, 
that the impressions made in his reasdn 
governed him, as they were livelily pit- 
sented. to him* But these are so apt to 
slip out of our memory, and we too apt to 
turn our thoughts from them ; and some- 
- times the contrary impressions are so 
strong, that, let a man set up a reasoning in 


Ms mind against them, he finds that cele- 
brated saying of the po*t, 

> * 

» ■ 

Video meitora probwpe / dtteriora tcquor. 

I see what is better, and approve it $ but fellow what is 
worse ; 

to be all that philosophy will amount to. 
Whereas those, who updJi such occasions 
apply themselves to God by earnest pray- 
er, feel a disengagement from such impres- 
sions, and themselves endued with a power 
to resist them ; so that the bonds, which 
formerly held them, fall off/ 

This, he said, must, be the effect of a 
heat in nature. It was only tie strong di- 
version of the thoughts, that gave the seem- 
ing victory ; and did not doubt but, if one 
could turn to a problem in Euclid, or to 
Write a copy of verses, it would h^ve the 
same effect. 

: # To this, I answered, that if such meth- 
ods did only divert the thoughts, thercj 
' might be some force in what he said ; but 
|f they not only drove out such inclina- 
tions, but begat impressions contrary to 

them j ^nd brought men into 3 new disposi- 
tion and habit o£ mind, then, he must con* 
fess, there was somewhat more tfcan a di- 
version in these changes, which were 
brought on our minds by true devotion. 
I added, that reason and experience wert 
the things that determined our persuasions ; 
that, as experience without reason may be 
thought the delusion of our fancy, so rea- 
son without experience had not so convin- 
cing an operation ; but these two, meeting 
together, must needs give a man all the sat- 
isfaction he can.desire. 

He could not say it was unreasonable 
to believe, that the Supreme Being could 
make some thoughts stir in our minds 
with more or less force, as it pleased him ; 
especially die force of these motions being, 
for the most part, according to the impres- 
sion ' that was made on our brains, which 
that power, which directed the whole frame 
of nature, could make grow deeper as it 
pleased; It was also reasonable to suppose 
God a being of such goodness, that he 
would give bis assistance to such as desired 


it. For though he might, upo*> some 
greater occasions, in an extraordinary man- 
ner, tuifl some people's minds ; yet, since 
he had endued man with a faculty of rea- 
son, it is fit that men should employ that as 
far as they could, and beg his assistance, 
which certainly they can do. 

All this seemed reasonable, $nd at least 
probable. Now good men, — who felt, upon 
their frequent applications to God in pray, 
er, a freedom from those ill frnpressions, 
that formerly subdued them, an inward 
love to virtue and true' goodness, and ea- 
siness and delight in all the parts of ho- 
liness, which was fed and cherished m 
them by a seriousness in prayer,* and did 
languish as that went off,— had as real a 
perception of inward strength in their 
minds, that did rise and fall with true de- 
votion, as they perceived the strength of 
their bodies increased or abated, according 
as they had or wanted good nourishment. 

After many discourses upon this sub- 
ject, he stilTcontinued to think all was the 
effect of fancy. He said, that he under- 



stood nothing of it ; but acknowledged, that 
he thought they were very happy, whose 
ftncies were tinder the power of such im- 
pressions, since they had somewhat on 
which their thoughts rested and centered. 
But when I saw him in his last sickness, 
he then told me, he had another sense of 
what he had talked concerning prayer and 
inward assistances. 

This subject led us to discourse of 
God, and of the notion of religion in gen- 
eral. He believed, there was a Supreme 
Being. He could not think, the world was 
made by chance ; and the regular course of 
nature seemed to demonstrate the eternal 
J>ower of its author. ' This, he said, he 
could never shake off; but when he came 
to explain his notion of the Deity, he said, 
he looked upon it as a vast power, that 
wrought every thing by the necessity of 
its nature ; and thought that God had none 
of those affections of love or hatred, which 
breed perturbation in us ; and consequent-, 
ly, could not see there was to be either re- 
ward' or punishment. He thought our 


conceptions of God were so low, that we 
had better not think much of him. And to 
love God seemed to him a presumptuous 
thing, and the heat of fanciful men. 

Therefore he believed there should be 
no other religious worship, but a general 
celebration of that Being, in some short 
hymn. All the other parts of worship he 
esteemed the invention of priests, to make 
the world believe they had a secret of in- 
censing .and appeasing God as they pleased. 
In a word, he was neither persuaded, that 
there was a special providence about hu- 
man affairs, nor that prayers were of much 
use, since that was to look on God as a 
weak being, that would be overcome with 
importunities. And for the state after 
death, he thought the soul did not dissolve 
at death, yet he doubted much of rewards 
or punishments ; the one he thought too 
high for us to attain by our slight services, 
and the other was too extreme to be inflict- 
ed for sin. This was the .substance of his 
speculations about God and religion. 

, I told him his notion, of God was so 
low, that the Supreme Being seemed to be 
nothing but pature. For if that being had 
no freedom or choice of its own actions, 
nor operated by wisdom and goodness, all 
those reasons, which led him to acknowl- 
edge a God, were contrary to this conceit. 
For if the order of the universe persuaded 
him to think there was a God, he must at 
the same time conceive him to be both 
wise and good, as well as powerful, since 
these all appeared' equally in the creation : 
though his wisdom and goodness had ways 
of exerting themselves, that were far be- 
yond our notions or measures. 

If God was wise and good, he would 
naturally love and be pleased with those, 
that resembled him in these perfections, 
and dislike those, that were opposite to 
him. Every rational being naturally loves 
itself, and is delighted in others like itself, 
and averse from what is not so. Truth is 
a rational nature, acting in conformity to 
' itself in all things, and goodness is an incli- 


nation to promote the happiness of other 
beings. So truth and goodness were the 
essential perfections of every reasonable be*. 
ing, and certainly most eminently in the 
Deity. Nor does his mercy of love raise 
passion or perturbation in him ; for we fee! 
that to be a Weakness in ourselves, . which 
indeed only flows from pur want of power 
or skill to do what we wish or desire. 

It is also reasonable to believe, that God 
would assist the endeavours of the good 
with some helps suitable to their nature. 
And it could not be imagined, that those, 
who imitated him, should not b£ especially 
favoured by him ; and therefore since this 
did not fully appear in this state, it was most 
reasonable to think it should in another, 
where the reward shall be* an admission in- 
to a more perfect state of conformity to 
God, with the felicity that follows it ; and 
the punishment shall be, a total exclusion 
from him, with all the horror and darkness 
that must follow. * 

These seemed to be the natural results 
t of such several courses of life, as well as 


tbs effects 'of divine justice, rewarding or 
punishing. For since he believed the sou) 
had a distinct substance,, separated from the 
bod>% upon its dissolution, there was no 
reason to think it passed into a state of ut- 
ter oblivion of what it had been in former- 
ly. -But that, as the reflections on the good 
os.evU it had done, must* raise joy or hor- 
ror in it ; so those good or ill dispositions 
accompanying the departed souls, they 
must either rise up to a higher perfection, 
or sink to a more depraved and miserable 

In this life, variety of affairs and ob- 
jects do much cool and divert our minds ; 
and are, on the one hand, often great temp- 
tations to the good, and give the bad some 
ease in their trouble ; but in a state where- 
in the soul shall be separated from sen- 
sible things, and employed in a more quick 
and sublime way of operation, this must 
very much exalt the jbys and improve- 
% ments of the good, and as much heighten 
the horror and rage of the wicked. v 


So that it seemed a vain thing to pre- 
tend to believe in a Supreme Being, that is 
wise and good as well as great, and not 
'think a discrimination will be made be- 
tween the good and the bad, which it is 
manifest is not fully done in this life. 

As for the government of the world, if 
we believe the Supreme Power made it, 
there is no reason to think he does not 
govern it ; for alHhat we can fancy against 
it is the distraction which that infinite vari- 
ety of second causes, and the care of their 
concernments, must give to the first, if it 
inspects them all. But as, among men, 
those of weaker capacities are wholly taken 
up with some one thing, whereas those of 
more enlarged powers can, without distrac- 
tion, have many things within their care ; 
as the eye can at one view receive a grea£ 
variety of objects, ih that narrow compass, 
without confusion ; so, if we conceive the 


divine understanding to be as far above 
ours, as his power of creating and framing 
the whole universe is above our limited ac« 



tjy fry, we will no morethipk the govern- 
ment of the world a distraction to him. 
And if we have once overcoitoe this preju- 
dice, we shall be ready to acknowledge a 
providence directing all affairs ; a care welt 
becoming the great Creator. 

As for worshipping him, if we can im- 
agine our worship is a thing that adds to 
his happiness, or gives him such a fond 
pleasure as weak people have to hear them- 
selves commended ; or that our repeated 
addresses do overcome him, through our 
mere importunity, we have certainly very 
unworthy thoughts of hinn The true end 
of Worship comes wjthin another consider 
ration, which is this : a man is never en- 
tirely reformed, till anew principle governs 
his thoughts : nothing makes a principle so 
strong, as deep and frequent meditations of 
God, whose nature, though it be far above 
our comprehension, yet whose goodness and 
wisdom are such perfections as fall within 
our imagination. And he, that thinks often 


of God, and considers him as governing 
the world, and as ever observing all his ac- 
tions, will feel a very sensible effect of such 
meditations, as they grow more lively and 
frequent with him ; so the end of religious 
worship, either publick or private, is to 
make the apprehensions of God have deep- 
er root and a stronger influence cm us. The 
frequent returns of these are necessary, 
lost, if we allow of too long intervals be- 
tween them, these impressions may grow 
feebler, and other suggestions may come 
in their room. And the returns of prayer 
are not to be considered as favours extort- 
ed by mere importunity, but as rewards 
conferred on men so well disposed and 
prepared for them, according to the prom* 
ises that God had made for answering our 
prayers, thereby to engage and nourish a •, 
devout temper in us, which is the chief 
root of all true holiness and virtue. 

It is true, we cannot have suitable no- 
tions of the divine essence ; for indeed we 
have no just idea of any essence whatsoev- 


er. Since We commonly consider ah 
things either by their outward figure or 
effects, and from thence make inferences 
what their nature must be ; so, though we 
cannot frame any perfect ifhage in our 
minds of the Divinity, yet we may, from 
the discoveries God has made of himself, 
form .such conceptions of him as may pos- 
sess our minds with great reverence for 
him , and beget in us such a love of those 
perfections as to engage us to imitate them. 
For when we say we love, the meaning is* 
we love that being, God, who is holy, just, 
good, wise, and infinitely perfect. And 
% loving these attributes in that object, will 
certainly carry us to desire them in our- 
selves. For whatever we love in another, 
we naturally, according to the degree of our 
love, endeavour to resemble. In sum, the 
losing and Worshipping of God, though 
they are just and reasonable returns and 
expressions of the sense we have of hi? 
goodness to us, yet they are exacted of us , 
not only as a tribute, to God, but as a 
means to beget in us a conformity to his 


-» t*ture # whie h is the chief eral of pure and 
wdefited religion. 

If some men have at several times found 
out inventions to corrupt this, and pheat 
the world, it Is nothing but what occurs m 
every sort of employment to which mes 
betake themselves* Mountebanks cor* 
rupt physick ; petifoggers have entangled 
the matters of property ; and all profes* 
sions have been vitiated by the knaveries of 
a number of their calling. 

, * With all these discourses he was not 
equally satisfied. He seemed convinced, 
* that the impressions of God being much 
in men's minds, would be a powerful 
means to reform the world ; and did not 
seem determined against Providence. But 
for the ne#t state, .he thought it more like* 
ly, that the soul began anew, and that her 
sense of what she had done in this body, 
lying in the figures that are made in the 
brain, as soon as she dislodged, all these 

• perished ; and that the sou? went into some 
other state t# begin a new course. 


But I said upon this head, that this was 
at best a conjecture raised in him by his 
fency, for he could give no reason to prove 
it was true. Nor was all the remembrance 
our souls had of past things, seated in 
some material figures lodged in the brain ; 
though it could not be denied but that a 
great deal of it lay in the brain. That 
we have many abstracted notions and 
ideas of immaterial things, which depend 
not on bodily figures. Some sins, such 
as falsehood and ill-nature, were seated ia 
the mind, as lust and appetite were in 
the body ; and as the whole body was ' 
the receptacle of the soul, and the eyes 
and the ears were the organs of seeing 
and hearing, so was the brain the seat 
of memory* Yet the power and faculty 
of memory, as well as of seeing and hear- 
ing, lay in the mind ; and so it was 
no inconceivable thing that either the 
soul, by its own strength, or by the mean* 
of some subtiler organs, which might be fit- 


m ted for it in another state, should stilt re- 
member as well as think. 

But indeed we know so little of the 
nature of our souls, that it is a vain thing 
for us to raise an hypothesis out of the cod? 
jectures we have about it, or to reject one, 
because of some difficulties that occur to 
. us ; since it is ag hard to understand how 

- we remember things now, as how we shall 
do it in another state ; only we are Bi}re we, 
do it now, and so we shall be then when we 
do it. 

When I -pressed him with the secret 
joys a good man felt, particularly as he 
drew near death, and the horrors of ill men, - 
especially at that time ; he was willing to 
ascribe these to the impressions they hsd 
received from their education. But he of- 
ten confessed that, whether the business of 
religion was true or not, he thought those, 
who bad the persuasions of it, and lived so 
that they had quiet in their consciences! 
and believed God governed the world, and < 

• acquiesced in his providence, and had the - 
hope of an endless blessedness in another 

• -» 


state, were the happiest men in the world : 
and said, he would give all he was master 
of, to be under those persuasions, and to 
have the supports and joys that must needs 
flow from them. 

I told him, the main root of all corrupt 
tions in men's principles was their ill life ; 
which, as \i darkened their niinds, and dis- 
abled them ftom discerning better things, 
so it made it necessary for them to seek 
out such opinions as might give them ease 
from those clamours, that would otherwise 
have been raised in them. He did not de- 
ny, but that after the doing of some things, 
he felt great and severe challenges within 
himself : but he said, he felt not these after 
some others, which I should perhaps call 
far greater sins, than those that affected him 
more sensibly. This, I said, might flow 
from the disorders he had cast himself into, 
which had corrupted his judgment and vi- 
tiated his taste of things ; and by his long 
continuance in, and frequent repeating of, 
some immoralities, he had made them so 
familiar to him, that they had become, as it 


#ere, natural : and then it was no wonder, 
if he had not so exact a sense of what was 
good or evil ; as a feverish man cannot 
judge of tastes. 

He did acknowledge the whole system 
of religion, if believed) was a greater foun- 
dation of quiet, than any other thing 1 what- 
soever : for all the quiet he had in his 
mind, was, that he could not think so good 
a being as the Deity would make: him mis- 
erable. I asked him, if, by the ill course of 
his life, he had brought so many diseases 
on his body, he could blame God for it ? 
or expect, that he should deliver him from 
them by a miracle. He confessed, there 
was no reason for that. I then urged, that 
if sin should cast the mind, by a natural ef- 
fect, into, endless horrors and agonies, 
which, being seated in a being not subject 
to death, it must last forever, unless some 
miraculous power interposed, could he ac- 
cuse God for that, which was the effect of 
his own choice and ill life ? • 

He said, they were happy that believed, 
for it was not in every man's power. 




And upon this we discoursed long 
about revealed religion. He said, be did 
xiot understand the business of inspiration ; 
he believed, the writers of the Scriptures had, 
hearts, and honesty, and so wrote; but 
could not comprehend how God should re- 
veal his, Secrets to mankind* Why was. not 
man nfade a creature more disposed for re» 
Ugion, and better illuminated ? He cou$ 
not apprehend how there should be any 
corruption in the nature of man, or a lapse 
derived from Adam. God's communica* 
ting. his mind to one man, was the putting 
it in his power to <eheat the world. For 
prophecies aad miracles, the world had al- 
ways been full of strange stories ; . for the 
boldness and cunning of the contrivers 
meeting with the simplicity and credulity 
gf the people, things were easily received ; 
and being once received, passed dawn with* 
out contradiction. The incoherences of 
style in the Scriptures, the odd transitions, 
the seeming contradictions, chiefly about 
tfee order of time, the cruelties enjoined on 


. die Israelite* in destroying the Canaanites, 
cmuumsatonj and many other rites of the 
Jewish worship, seemed to him unsuitably 
•to the divine nature ;. and the first thraq 
-chapters of Genesis, he thought, could no$ 
he true, unless they were parables. . Thiq 
was the substance *>f what he excepted tq 
revealed religion in general, and to the .QfaJ 
Testament in particular. 

' I answered to all tins, that believing $ 
thing upon the testimony of another 13 
other matters, where there was no reason 
to suspect the testimony, chiefly where it 
was confirmed by other Circumstances, was 
not only a reasonable thing, bet wa6 that>on 
which all government and justice in the 
world depended ; since, all courts of justice 
proceed from evidence, given by witnesses? 
for the use of writings is but a thing 41109 
lately brought into the world. 

45o then r if ihe credibility of die thing,- 
the innocenoe and disinterestedness of the 
witnesses, the number of them, and the 
tuost pubtick confirmations that could poo* 
<*bly be given, dp concur to perfeuade us 


of any matter T b£fect, it Is a vain thing to . 
say, because it is possible for so many mei* 
to agree in a lie, that therefore these have 
done it. In all other things a man gives 
his assent when the credibility is strong or* 
the one side; and there appears nothing 
on the other side to balance it. So such 
numbers agreeing in the testimony of tfaesje 
miracles ; for instance, our Saviour's call- 
fog Lazarus out of the grave the fourth 
fiay after he was buried, and his own risieg* 
again after he was certainly dead ; if there 
had been ever so many impostures in thtf 
"World, no man can, with reasonable colour, 
f pfetend this was one. ... 

- We find, both by the Jewish and So- 
cman winters, that lived in that time, that our 
Saviour was' crucified ; and that all his 
disciples and followers believed, cdttaialy 
that he rose again-. They believed this up- 
on the- testimony of the apostles and of 
taftaity hundreds who saw it, and died con- 
firming it. They weal about to persuade 
*&e world of if, with great seal^ though they 
knew they .wir* togetnolhmgby it but re- 


pfoaek and mifierings * and by many VK&&- 
ders, which they wrought, they confifnred 
their testimony. Now to avoid all this, by- 
say mg it is possible this might be a coatri- 
Vance, and to give no presumption to make 
it so much as probable that it was so, is, ia 
plain English, to say, We are resolved, let 

1 the evidence- be what it will) we will not be n 
Heve it. 

He said, if a man says he cannot be- 
lieve, what heipi is there ? for he was not 
master of his own belief, and believing was 
at highest bat a probable opinion. 

To this I answered, that if a man wtti 
let a wanton conceit possess hfe fancy 
against these things, and neve/ consider the 
evidence for religion on the other hand; 
but reject it upon a slight view of it,* hfe 
ought not to say he cannot, bat will not 
believe, i And while a man fives atv ill 
Course of life, he is not fitly qualified to 
examine the matter aright Let him grow . 
calm and virtuous, and upon 'due applica- 

^ tibn examine things fairly ; and the* let him 
pronounce, according to his conscience,, if, 


to take it at its lowest, the reason* on th* 
one hand are not much stronger, than they 
are on the other. For I found he was so 
possessed with )he general conceit, that a 
mixture of knaves and fools had made aU 
extraordinary things easily believed, that it 
carried him away to determine the matter, 
without so much as looking on* the histori- 
cal evidence for the truth of Christianity j 
which he had not inquired into, but had 
bent all his wit and study to the support of 
the other side. 

As for that, that believing is at best but 
an opinion ; if the evidence be but proba- 
ble, it is so r. but if it be such that, it cam- 
not be questioned, it grows as certain as 
knowledge. For we are no less certain? 
that there, is a gireat town called Constanti- 
nople, the seat of the Ottoman empire, thai* 
that there is another called JLondon. W« 
have as little doubt, that queen Elizabeth 
once reigned, N as that king Charles now 
reigns in England. So that believing may 

• -7* 


to -take it at its lowest, the reasttMt on the 
one hand are not much stronger, than they 
are on the other. For I found he was so 
possessed with the general conceit, that a 
mixture of knaves and fools had made all 
extraordinary things easily believed, that it 
carried him away to determine the matter, 
without so much as looking on the histori- 
cal evidence for the truth of Christianity; 
which he had not inquired into, but had 
bent all his wit and study to the support of 
the other side. 

As for that, that believing is^at best but 


be as certain, and as little subject to doubt* 
ing, as seeing or knowing. 

There are two sorts of believing divine 
matters ; the one is wrought in lis by our 
comparing all the evidences of matter of fact, 
for the confirmation of revealed religion, 
with the prophecies in the Scripture, where 
things were punctually predicted, some 
ages before their completion ; not in dark 
and doubtful words, uttered like oracles, 
that could bend to any event ; but in plain 
terms, as the foretelling that Cyrus by name 
should send the Jews back from the captiv- 
ity, after the fixed period of seventy years ; 
the history of the Syrian and Egyptian 
kings so punctually foretold by Daniel ; 
and the prediction of the destruction of Je- 
rusalem, with many circumstances relating 
to it, made by our Saviour ; joining these 
to the .excellent rule and design of the 
Scripture in matters of morality ; it is at 
least as reasonable to believe" this, as any 
fhin&else in the world. Yet such a believ* 
ing as this is only a general persuasion in 


the mind, which has not that effect, tiS 
a man applies himself to the . directions se$ 
down in the Scriptures ; which, upon such - 
evidence, cannot be denied to be as reas- 
onable, as for a man to follow the prescrip- 
tions of a learned physician, and when these 
t ules are both good and easy, to submit 
to them for the recovery of his health ; and 
by following these, finds a power entering 
within him, that frees him from the slavery 
of his appetites and passions ; that exalts his 
mind above the accidents of life, and 
spreads an inward purity of heart, from 
which a serene and calm joy arises within 
Ihim. And good men, by the efficacy these 
methods have upon them, and from the -re- 
turns of their prayers, and other endeavours, 
grow assured that these things are true, and 
answerable to the promises they find regis- 
tered in Scripture. 

All this, he said, might be fancy.— 
But to thifr I answered, that as it would 
be unreasonable to tell a man that .is 
abroad, and knows he is awake, that per- 


haps he is in a dream, and m his bed, and 
only thinks he is abroad, or that as some go 
about in their sleep, that he may be asleep 
still ; so good and religious men know, 
though others may be abused by their fan- 
-cies, that they are under no such deception ; 
and find they are neither hot nor enthusiast 
tical, but under the power of calm and pure 
principles. All this, he said, he did not 
understand, and that it was to assert or 
beg the thing in question, which he could 
Hot comprehend. 

As for the v possibility of revelation, it 
was a vain thing to deny it : For as God 
gives us the sense of seeing material objects 
with our eyes, and' opened in some a capac- 
ity of apprehending high and sublime 
things, of which other men seemed utterly 
incapable ; so it was a weak assertion, that 
God cannot awaken a power in some men's 
minds, to apprehend and know some things 
in such a manner that others are not capable 
of. This is not half so incredible to us as 
sight is to a blind man, who yet may be 

/ ' 

^ow viijced thtfje it a strange power of see^ 
ing, that governs men, of which he finds 
himself deprived. 

As for the capacity put into such men's 
Hands to deceive the world, we are at the 
same time to consider, that besides the 
probity of their tempers, it cannot be 
thought but God can so forcibly bind up a 
man in some thjngs, that it should not be in 
his power to deliver them otherwise than 
as he gives him in commissions Besides, 
the (ionfirmation of miracles is a divine cre- 
dential, to warrant such persons in what 
they deliver to the world ; which t&nnot 
be imagined can be joined to a lie; since 
this were to put the omnipotence of Go<| 
to attest that, which no honest man- 
will do, 

For the business o£ the fall of man, and 
other things, of which we cannot perhaps 
give ourselves a perfect account, we* who 
cannot fathom the secrets of the counsel of 
Cpd, act very unreasonably to take on us to 
rejeQt m excellent system of good and holy 
. rules, because, we cannot satisfy ourselves 


dbout some difficulties in them* Common- 
experience teUs us there is a great disorder 
Hi our natures, which is not easily rectified* 
All philosophers were sensible of it, and 
every man that designs to govern himself 
by reason, feels the struggle between it; 
wA nature. So that it is plain, there is a 
iipse of the high powers of the souK .; .. 

But why, said he, could not this be 
rectified by some plain rules given ; but 
men must come and shew a trick to per- 
suade the world they speak to them in the 
name of God ? I answered, that religion 
beinj* a design to recover and save man* 
kind, was to be so opened as to awaken 
and work upon alt' sorts* of people r and 
generally men of a simplicity of mind, were 
those, that were the fittest objects for God to 
die w his favour to* Therefore it was neces- 
sary, that messengers sent from heaven 
should appear with such alarming evidences 
*s might awaken the world, and prepare 
them, by some astonishing signs, to listen to 
the* doctrine they were to deliver^ ,1 


MiHoSophy, that was only a, matter ot 
ftne speculation, had few votaries* And a* 
there was no authority in it to bind the 
World to believe its dictates, so they wei* 
only received by some of nobler and refined 
natures, who could Apply themselves to and 1 
delight in such notions. But true religion* 
was to be built upon a foundation, that 
should cany more weight on it ; . and to 
have such convictions, as might not only 
reach those who were already disposed 
to receive them, but rouse up such as, 
without great and sensible excitation, 
would have otherwise slept on in their ill , 

• r 

Upon this ari3 some other occasions, I 
told him I saw the ill use he made of his wit, 
by which he slurred ihe gravest things with 
a slight dash of his fancy ; and the pleasure 
he found in such wanton expressions, a* 
calling the doing of miracles, t he shewing 6f/ 
utrick.did really keep him from examining 
them with that care, which such things re- 


For the Old Testament, we are so re- 
mote from that time ; we have so little 
knowledge * of the language, in which it 
was written ; have so * imperfect an ac- 
count of the history of those ages ; know 
nothing of their customs, forms of speech, 
and the several periods they might have, 
by which they reckoned their time ; that 
it is rather a wonder we should understand 
so much of it, than that many passages in 
it should be so dark to us. The chief use 
it has to us Christians is, {hat, from wri- 
Jjngs which the Jews acknowledge to be 
been divinely inspired, it * is manifest the 
Messiah was promised, before the destruc- 
tion of their temple ; M&ich being done 
long ago, and these prophecies agreeing to 

\ our Saviour, and none other; here is a 
great confirmation given to the gospel. 

^ But though many things in these books 
,could not be understood by us, Who lived 
above three thousand years after the chief 
of them were written, it is no such extra- 
ordinary matter.. , ' ' 



For that of the destruction of the Cana- 
anites by the Israelites, it is. to be consider- 
ed, that if God had sent a plague among them 
all, that could not have been found fault with/ 
If then God had a right to take away their 
lives, without injustice or cruelty, he had a 
right to appoint others to do it, as well as to 
execute it by a more immediate way^ And 
the taking away people by the sword is a 
much gentler way of dying, than to be smit- 
ten with a plague or a famine. And for the 
children, that were innocent of their fathers' J 
faults, God could in another state make that 
up to them. So all the difficulty is, why 
were the Israelites commanded to execute a 
thing of such barbarity ? But this will not 
seem so hard, if we consider that this was 
to be no precedent for future times ; since 
they did not do it but upon special warngit 
and command from Heaven, evidenced to 
to all the world by such mighty miracles, as 
did plainly shew, thaj they were particularly 

designed by God for the executioners of his 





justice. And God, by employing them in 
so severe a service, intended to possess them, 
with great horror of idolatry, which wa& 
punished in so extreme a manner. 

For the ii£s of their religion, we caa- 
31 judge of them, except we perfectly un- 
derstood the idolatries round about them^ 
to which we find they were much inclined*. 
So they were to be bent by other rites to an 
extreme aversion from them ; and yet, by 
the pomp of many of their ceremonies and 
sacrifices, great indulgences were given tq 
a people naturally fond of a visible splen- 
dour in religious worship. 

In all which, if we cannot descend to 
such satisfactory answers, in every partic- 
ular, as a curious man could desire, it is no 
wonder. The long interval of time, and 
other accidents, have worn out those things, 
which were, necessary to give us a clear 
light into the meaning of them. 

And for the story of the creation, how 
far some things in it may be parabolical, 
and how far historical, has been much dis- 
puted ; there is nothing in it that may not 

bfc historically true. For if it be ackhowl- 
edged, that spirits can form voices in -the air* 
ft>r which we have as good authority as for 
any thing in history, then it is no wonder 
that Eve, being so lately created r might be 
deceived, and think a serpent spake to her, 
When the evil spirit framed the voice. 
* But in all these things I told him he 

was in the wrong way, when he examined 
the business of religidn by some dark parts 
of Scripture. Then I desired him to con- 
sider the whole contexture of the Christian 
religion, the rules it gives, and the methods 
it prescribes. Nothing can conduce friore 
to the peace, order, and happiness Of the 
world, than to be governed by its rules. 
Nothing is more for the interests of every 
toan in particular. The rules of sobriety, 
temperance, and moderation, were the best 
preservers of life, and, which was perhaps 
more, of health. Humility, contempt of th6 
vanities of the world, and being Well em- 
ployed, raises a man*s ttiind to a freedom 
from the follies and temptations, that haun- 
ted the gtfettelr part. Nothing was so gen- 


erous and great as to supply the necessities 
of the poor, and to forgive injuries. Noth- 
ing raised and maintained a man's reputa- 
tion so much, as, to be exactly just and 
merciful, kind, charitable, and compassion- 
ate. Nothing opened the powers of a 
man's soul so much as a calm temper ; a 
serene mind, free of passion and disorder. 
Nothing made societies, families, and neigh- 
bourhoods so happy, as when these rules 
which the Gospel prescribes took place, of 
doing as we would have others do to us, and 
loving our neighbour as ourselves* 

The Christian worship was. also plain 
and simple ; suitable to so pure a doctrine, 
■the ceremonies of it were few and signifi- 
cant ; as the admission to it by washing 
with water, and a memorial of our Saviour's 
death, in bread and wine ; the motives in 
it to persuade to this purity were strong — 
that God sees us, and will judge us for all 
our actions — that we shall be ever happy, or 
miserable, as we pass our lives here — the 
example of our Saviour's life, &nd the great 
expressions of his love in dying for us, are 


mighty engagements to obey and imitate* 
him-*-the plain way of expression used by 
our Saviour and his apostles, shews there 
was no artifice, where there was so much 
simplicity used-*-there were no secrets kept 
only among the priests, but every thing tvas 
open to all Christians — the rewards of holi- 
ness are not entirely put over to another 
state, but good men are specially blest with 
peace in their consciences, great joy in the 
confidence they have of the love of God, 
and of seeing him forever : And often a 
single course of blessings follows them in 
their whole lives. But if, at other times, 
calamities fell on them, these were so much- 
mitigated by the patience they were taught,, 
and by the inward assistances with which 
they were furnished, that even those crosses 
were converted into blessings*. 

I desired he Would ldy all these thinga 
together, and see what he could except to 
them, to make him think this was a contri- 



vance. Interest appears in all bfcman co»- 
trivances. Our Saviour plainly bad none ; 
be avoided applause, withdrew himself from 
the offers of a crown ; he submitted to 
poverty and reproach, much contradiction 
. in his life, and to a most ignominious and 
painful death. 

His apostles had none neither ; they did 
not pretend either to power or wealth, but 
delivered a doctrine that must needs con-* 
demn them, if they ever made use of it. 
They declared their commission fully with- 
out reserve till other times ; they record- 
ed their own weakness ; some of them 
wrought with their own hands ; and when 
they received the charities of their converts* 
it was not so much to supply their own ne- 
cessities, as to distribute to others. They 
knew they wefe to suffer much for giving 
their testimonies to what they had seen and 
heard ; in which so many, in a thing so 
visible as Christ's resurrection and ascen- 
sion, and the effusion of the Holy Ghost 
which fee had promised, could not be de- 


ceived. And they gave such publick con- 
firmations of it, by the wonders they them* 
selves wrought, that great multitudes were 
converted to a doctrine, which, besides the 
opposition it gave to lust and passion, was 
borne down and persecuted for three hun- 
dred years ; and yet its force was such, 
that it not only weathered out all those 
storms, but even grew, and spread vastly 
under them. 

Pliny, about threescore years after, found 
their numbers great and their lives inno- 
cent. And even Lucian, amidst all his 
raillery, gives a high testimony to their 
charity and contempt of life, and the other 
virtues of the christians ; which is likewise 
more than once done by malice itself, Julian 
the apostate. 

If a man will lay all this in one balance, 
and compare it with the few exceptions, it 
brought to it, he will soon find how strong 
the one, and how slight the other are. 
Therefore it was an improper way, to be- 
gin at some cavils about some passages in ^ 

the New Testament, or the Old, and frt>m 
thence to prepossess one's mind against thfc 
whole. The right method had been, first 
to consider the whole matter, and from so 
general a view to descend to more partic- 
ular inquiries : Whereas they suffered their 
minds to be forestalled with prejudices, so 
that they never examined the matter im- 

To the greatest part of this he seemed 
to assent, only he excepted to the belief of 
Mysteries in the christian religion ; which 
he thought no man could do, since it is not 
in a man's power to believe that which he 
cannot comprehend, and of which he can 
have no notion. 

The believing of mysteries, he said, 
made way for all the jugglings of priests ; 
for they, getting the people under them in 
that point, set out to them what they pleas- 
ed ; and giving it a hard name, and calling 
it a mystery, the people were tamed, and 
easily believed it. 

The restraining a man from the use of 


women, except one in the way of marriage, 
and denying the remedy of divorce, h* 
thought unreasonable impositions on the 
freedom of mankind. And the business of 
the clergy, and their maintenance, with the 
belief of some authority and power con- 
veyed in their orders, looked, as he thought, 
like a piece of contrivance. And why, said 
he, itiust a man tell me, I cannot be saved, 
unless I believe things against my reason, 
and then that I must pay him for telling 
me of them ? These were all the excep- 
tions, which at any time I heard from him 
to Christianity. To which I made these 

For mysteries, it is plain, there is in 
every thing somewhat unaccountable. — 
How animals or men are formed in their 
mothers' wombs ; how seeds grow in the 
earth ; .how the soul, dwells in the body, 
and acts and moves it ; how we retain the 
figures of so many words or things in our 
memories, and how we draw them out so 
easily and orderly in our thoughts or dis- . 

courses; how sight and hearing are a* 1 



•0» \ 

4010k end distinct ; how we move, anfi 
feew bodies were compounded and u- 

These things, if we follow them into aH 
the difficulties that we may raise about 
them, will appear every whit as unaccount- 
able as any mystery of religion. And a 
blind or deaf man would judge sight or. 
hearing as incredible, as any mystery may 
be judged by us ; for our reason is not 
equal to them. In the same rank, different 
degrees of age or capacity raise some far 
above others ; so that children cannot fath- 
om the learning, nor weak persons the coun- 
sels of more illuminated minds. Therefore 
it was no wonder if we could not under- 
stand the divine essence. We cannot imag- 
ine how two such different natures us soul 
and body should so unite together, and be 
mutually affected with one another's con- 
cerns ; and how the soul has one principle of 
reason, by which it acts intellectually, and 
toother of life, by which it joins to the 
body and acts vitally ; two principles so 
widely ^differing t>oth in their nature and 


operation^ aftd yet united in one and the 
same person* There might be as many* 
hard arguments brought against the possi- 
bility of these things, which yet every one 1 
knows to be true* from speculative notions, 
as against the mysteries mentioned in the 

As that of . the trinity ; that in one es- 
sence there are three different principles of 
operation, which, for want of terms fit to 
express them by, are called persons, and -' 
are called in the Scripture, Father, Son, 
and Holy Ghost ; and that, the second of. 
these did unite himself in a most intimate 
manner with the human nature of Jesus 
Christ ; and that the sufferings he under- 
went were accepted of God as a sacrifice 
fipr our sins; who thereupon conferred on 
him a power, of granting eternal life to all 
that submit to the terms on which he offers 
it; and that the matter of which our bodies 
onee consisted, which may be as justly call* 
ed the bodies we laid down at our deaths, 
aft these can be said to be die bodies we 
formerly lived in, being refined and made 


more spiritual, shall be reunited to <hi* ' 
souls, and become a fit instrument far 
them in a more perfect state: and that 
God inwardly bends and moves our wills, 
by such impressions as he opn mak^ on 
our bodies and minds. 

These, which are the chief mysteries 
of our religion, are neither so unreasonable* 
that any other objection lies against them,- 
but this, that they agree not with our com-N 
mon notions ; nor so unaccountable, that 
somewhat like them cannot be assigned in 
other things, which are believed really to 
be, though the manneF of them cannot be 

So this ought not to be any just ; obj€c- 
tion to the submission of our reason to 
what we cannot so well conceive, provided 
our belief of it be well grounded. There 
have been too many niceties brought in- 
deed rather to darken than explain these ;' 
they have been defended by weak argu*/ 
ments, and illustrated by similes not al- 
ways so very apt and pertinent. And 
new stjtbtilties h^ve been added, which 


kave rather perplexed than cleared them* 
All this bannot be denied. The opposition 
of hereticks anciendy occasioned too much 
-cariosity amo3g the fathers ; which the 
school-men have wonderfully advanced of ' 
kte times. 

^But if mysteries were received rather 
in the simplicity in which they are deliver- 
ed in the Scriptures, than according to the 
defecantings of fanciful men upon them, 
they would not appear much more incred- 
ible, than some of the common objects of 
sense and perception. And it-is a needless 
fear, that, if some mysteries are acknowl- 
edged, that are plainly mentioned! in the 
New Testament, it will then be ih the 
power tof the priests to add more at their 
pleasure* For it is an absurd inference, 
from our being bound to assent to pome 
truths about the divine essence, of which 
die manner is not understood, to argue, 
that, therefore, in an object presented duly 
to our senses, such as bread and wine, we 
should be bound to believe against their 
testimony, that it is not what our sense*? 






perceived it to be, but the whole ifesh and 
blood of Christ ; an entire body being ill 
every crumb and drop of it. It is not ib- 
deed ' in a man's power to believe tint* 
against bis sense and reason, whene the ob» 
ject is proportioned to them, and fitly ap* 
plied, and the organs are under no indkpo- 
rition or disorder. 

It is certain, that no m yste r y ifi to be 
admitted, but upon wry dear and express 
authorities from Scripture, which could 
not reasonably be understood in any other 
sense. And though a man can form no 
explicit notion of mystery, (for then k 
would be no longer a mystery) yet in gen* 
eral he may believe a thing to be, though 
he cannot give himself a particular account 
of the way of it $ or rather, though ht can- 
not answer some objections that lie against 
it- We know, we believe many such in 
human matters, which are more within our 
reach ; and it is very unreasonable to say 
we may not do it .in divine things, which 
are much more above our apprehensions. ? 
* For the severe restraint of tbciiseof 
women, it is hafrd to deny that privilege to 



Jew* Cftrkt, e» & lawgiver,. to. lay such re~ 
sfeaints as ail inferior legislators do ; who, 
when, they find the liberties their subjects 
take prove hurtfyl to them, set such limits, 
and make such regulations, as they Judge 
necessary and expedient* It cannot be said 
but the restraint of appetite is necessary in 
some instances ; and if it is necessary in 
these, perhaps other restraints are no les* 
necessary to fortify and secure them. For 
if k be acknowledged, that men have a prop- 
erty in their wives and daughters, so that 
to defile the one, or corrupt the other, is an 
unjust and injurious thing ; it is certain, 
that except a man carefully govern his ap- 
petites, J$e will, break through these re- 
straints; and therefore our Saviour, know- 
ing that nothing could so effectually deliver 
the world frqm mischief and unrestrained 
appetite, as such a confinement, . might 
very reasonably enjoin it. And in all such 
ease* we are to balance the inconveniences 
©n both hands, and where we find they are 
heatfest; we are to acknowledge the equity 
of the few* O0 the one hand, there is no 
prtjqdfce but tfee restraint .of appetite ; on 



the other, are the mischiefs of bring given 
*up to pleasure, of running inordinately into 
it, of breaking the quiet of dbr own family 
at home, and of others abroad ; the en- 
gaging into much passionj the doing 
many false and impious things -to compass 
what is desired, the waste of men's es- 
tates, time, and health. Now let any man 
judge, whether the prejudices of this side 
are not greater, than that single one>on the : 
other side, of being denied some pleasure ? 
' For polygamy , it is but reasonable, since < 
women are concerned in the tews of mar-, 
riage, that they should %e considered a» 
well as' mfen. But in a state of polygamy . 
they are under great misery and jealouisy; 
and are indeed barbarously used. Man 
beiog also of a sociable nature, friendship 
and converse were among the primitive in- 
tendments of marriage, in which, as far as ( 
man may excel the wife in greatness of 
mind, and height of knowledge, the wife in 
some way makes that up with her affection 
and twder care ; so that froAi both happily 
mixed, there arisen a harmony which, is t 
virtuous minds one of the greatest Jtya of 



lift. —But all this i$ gone in a gtafe of pol- 
.ygjimy, which pccft^k)^ perpetual janriqg? 
- 4$d jealousies. And the variety doe; but 
eftgtjp* men to, a fr^er range pf pfeaaufe, 
Which is uo^o be putin.t^e balance with 
the far greater mischiefs, that must follow 
the other course. 

So that it is plain, our Saviour consid- 
ered the nature of ropn, what it could bear, 
4od what was fit for it, when he restrained 
us in these pur liberties. 

And»for divorce, a power to break that 
l^ond would too much encourage niarrkd 
.persons in the little quarrelling*, that may 
Itrise between tjtiem, if it were in their pow- 
er to depart one from another » For whqn 
they know that cannot be, and that they 
joatust live and die together, it does naturally 
ii$Uoe then> to lay down their resentments, 
#nd to endeavour to live as well together ap 
$ey wn- .. 

. So the law of the gospel being a law of 
Jlpve, designed. to engage Christians to iou- 
*ual love^ it wis fit that all such proems- 
^hppld be mad$» as might advance and 


i«.A. ..» 


atoray, as ate apt to* enkindle and foment - , 
slptfe. TI& might, in ^ome iflstjaices, jh^cv 
dlice sita&atiaBS which would be uneas^and 
hard enough ; but laws consider wha{ fells 
tiat most commonly, Wl cannot, provide 
for all pftiticM^r cas&s. The best laws ar^ 
in some instances very great grievances* ^ 
JJtrt the advantages being balanced .with the 
inconveniences, measures are ta be taken 
accordingly. ' 

Vpon this whole matter I said, that plea* 
sure stood in opposition to other consider- - 
ations of greater weight, and so the decision 
was easy. And since our Saviour offers us 
so great rewards, it is but reasonable that 
he has a privilege of loading these promises 
with such conditions, as are not in them- 
- selves grateful to our natural inclinations : 
for all, that .proposo high rewards, have 
thereby a right to exact difficult performan- * 
ces. " _ 

Tb this he said, We are sure the terms * 
are difficult, but are not so sure of .there- ^ 
wards* Upon this I told him, that we have 
Hie same assurance of the rewards, that we 

» * 


have of the other parte of the Christian «*•» 
ligton. We have the promises- of God, 
made \o us by Christ, confirmed by many 
ituraetes. We have the earnests of these 
in the quiet and peace which follow a good 
conscience; and in the resurrection o£ 
Jesus Christ from the dead, w|io hath prom- 
ised to raise us up. . So that the reward is 
sufficiently assured to us : and there is ncK 
reason it. should be given to us, before the 
conditions are performed, on whicK the 
promises are made. It is but reasonable 
#e should trust God, and do our duty, in 
hopes' of that eternal life, which God, who 
cannot lie, hath promised. 

The difficulties are* not so great* as 
those which sometimes the most common 
concerns of life bring upon us. The learn- 
ing of some trades or sciences, the govern- 
ing of our health or affairs, bring us often 
under as great straits. So that it ought to 
he no just prejudice, that there are some 
things in religion that are uneasy, since this 
is gather the effect of piir corrupt natures, 
which are farther depraved by vicious hab- 

* i 

i& aqd can hardly turn to wy-qcw xowsc 
Of life, without soyas pain* tba$ of the dtc r 
totes of Christianity 9 wljdch are ip theipselve^ 
ju&t and re^&onable, and will be easy tQ, 119 
when renewed, and in a good measure re T 
stored to our primitive integrity. 

As for the exceptions he had to the 
maintenance of the clergy, and the authority 
to which they pretended ; if they stretched 
their designs too far, the gospel did plainly 
reprove them for it ; so. that it was very 
Suitable to that church, which was sq gross- 
ly faulty this way, as to take the Scripting 
out of the hands of the people, since the 
Scriptures so manifestly disclaim all such 
practices* The priests of the trie Christian 
religion have no secrets among them, whjcfy 
the world must not know, but are only an 
order of men dedicated to God, to attend op 
sacred things, who ought to be holy in a 
^aore peculiar *aanner, since they are to 
handle the things of God. It was ngcessfc 
ry that such- persons, should have a due tjf* 
teem paid them,. and a fit mainteoance ag^ 
pointed for them, that so they might b£ 
preserved fro© . the coitf^eapt that jbljp9$ 

105 * 

* * 

poverty, and tfie distractions which the pro- 
triding against ft might otherwise in volte 
them in. And as in the order of the world J 
it was necessary for the support of magis* 
tracyland gbvernipent, and for preserving 
its esteem, that some state' be used (though 
it is a happiness when great men have phi- 
losophical minds, to despise the pageantry 
of it j) so the plentiful Supply of the clergy, 
H well used and applied by them, will cer- 
tainly turn to the advantage of religion.' 
And if some men, either through ambition 
of- covetousness, used indirect means or 
Servile compliances to aspire to such digni- 
ties, and being possessed of them, applied 
their wealth either to luxury or vain pomp^ 
or made great fortunes out of it for thfcitf 
families ; these were personal failings, m 
which the doctrine of Christ was not con* 

He upon that told me plainly, these was 
nothing that gave htm, and many others, * 
more secret encouragement in their ill tvay^ 
than that those, who pretended to believe, 
lived so, that they . could not bo thought t* 
be in earnest, when they said it. For hi 


was sure, religion was either a mere con- 
trivance, or the most important thing that 
fjould be ; so that if he once believed, be 
Would set himself in great earnest to five 
suitably to it. The aspirings, that he had 
observed at court, of some of the ckrgy, 
with the servile ways they took to attain to 
preferment ; and the animosities, among 
those of several parties, about trifles, made 
htm often think they suspected the things 
were not true, which in their sermons and 
discourses they so earnestly recommended. 
Of this he had gathered many instances^ 
I knew some of them were mistakes and 
fcalumnies ; yet I could not deny but some- 
thing of them might be true. And I pub- 
lish this the more freely, to put all that pre* 
tend to religion, chiefly those that tore ded- 
icated to holy functions, in mind of the great 
Obligation that lies on them to live suitably 
10 their profession ; since, other wise, a great 
deal of the irre&gion and 1 atheism, that is 
among us, may too justly he charged on 
them : for Wicked men are delighted outaf 
fl&easure, when they discover ill things hi 
t&em, and conclude from thence, not only 


that they are hypocrites, but that ireligio** 
Itself is a cheat. _ ~ 

But I said to him on this head, that 
though no good man could continue in the 
practice of any known sin, yet such might, 
\yy the violence or surprise of temptation,- 
|o which they we liable as much as others, 
be of a sudden overcome to do an ill thing, 
to their great grief all their life after. And 
the* f it was a very unjust inference, upon 
^ome few failings, to conclude that such 
men do not believe themselves. But how, 
bad soever many are, it cannot be denied 
but that there are also many, both of the 
clergy and laity, who give great and real 
demonstrations of the power which religion* 
has over diem ; in their contempt of the 
world, the strictness of their lives, their 
readiness to $org*\g injuries, to relieve the 
poor, and to do good on all occasions. And 
yet even these may have their failings* 
either in such things wherein their consti- 
tutions are weak, or their temptations strong 
and sudden. And in all such cases we 
$& to judge of men, rather by die course 
of their jiws, than by die errors that they, 

through infrn&ky or surprise, may hav<fc 
dipt into. 

These were the chief heads wediscoura- 
ed on ; and as far as I can remember, I 
have faithfully repeated the substance of 
our arguments. I have not concealed the 
strongest things he said to me ; but though 7 
I have not enlarged on all the excursion* 
of his wit in setting them off, yet I have 
given them their full strength, as he ex- 
pressed them ;» and, as far as I could recol- 
lect, have used his Own words. So that I 
sun afraid soipe may censure n^e for set* 
ting down*, these things so largely , which: 
impious men may make fin ill use of, and 
gather together to encourage and defend 
themselves in their vices. But if they ^ will 
compare them with the answers made to 
them, and the sense tha^so . great and re-, 
fined a wit had .of them aftenvards, 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 aftd impiety 
were as contrary, to humto society, as wM 
beasts let loose would be ; and therefore he 


f _ 

^^^vfCBDlvdi to change the whole method 
of his life/ to become strictly just and tru,e, 
to be chaste and temperate, to forbear 
1 swearing and irreligioirS discourse, to wor- 
ship and pray to his Maker. And that 
though he was not arrived at a full persua- 
tfion of Christianity, he would never employ 
his wit any niore toroti it down, or to cot- 

aiftoifam. - ' 

Of which, I have since a further assurance 
.from a |>ecsorr of quality, who conversed 
ljiuch with him, the last year of his life ; to 
whom he would often say, that he was hap- 
py if he did believe, and that he would 
^vcrendeuvour ,o draw him from it. ~ 

.. To all tfiis I answered, that a virtuous; 
life would be very uneasy to him, unless 
•vicioiks inclinations - were removed. It 
would otherwise be, a perpetual constraint. 
* iNwr could it be effected without an inward 
prtBQipk to change him ; and that was oriljr, 
to be had by applying himself to God for it 
•ill frequent and earnest prayers. t And I 
was sure if his mind wete once cleaned of 
these disorders, and cured of thoag distenj- 


<pers, which, vice brought on it, so great an 
understanding would soon see through all 
all those flights of wit, that do feed atheisn* 
and irreligion ; which have a false glittering 
in them, that dazzles some weak-sighted 
minds, who have not capacity enough to 
penetrate further than the surfaces Qf 
things ; and so they stick in these toils, 
which the strength of his mind would soon 
break through, if it were once freed from 
those things that depressed and dark- 
ened it 

At this pass he was, when he went from 
London, about the beginning <rf April. He 
had not been long in the country, when he 
thought he was s© well, that, being. to go 
tp his estate in Somersetshire, he rode thi- 
ther post. This heat and vidtent 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, He was then wounded both 
in body and mind. He understood phys* 
ick and his own constitution and distemper 
so well, that he concluded he cotld hardly 

Ill . 

" + '',.' * *■ 

recover ; for the ulcer broke, and ,vast 
quantities of purulent taatter passed with 
his urine* Bin noto the hand of God 
touched him ; and as he told me, it was 
not only a dark melancholy over his mind, 
such as he had formerly felt, but a most 
-penetrating and cuttiiig sorrow: So that 
though in his body he suffered extreme 
pain for some weeks, yet the agonies of his 
mind sometimes swallowed up the felt in 
sense of what he the body. 

He told me and gave it me in charge, 
to tell it t6 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 y were not worth 
that torture he had felt in hi$ mind. He 
considered he had not only neglected and 
dishonoured, but had openly defied his 
Maker, and had drawn many many others 
into 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 remain- 
der of MS life \yhich was before him, to re- 



deem those great portions of it, that he for- 
merly so illy employed. 

The minister, that attended constantly on 
him, was that good and worthy man, Mr. 
Parsons, his mother's chaplain, who hath - 
since bis death preached, according to the* 
directions he received from him^ his fu- 
neral 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 giyen so great and so 
general satisfaction to all good and judi- 
cious readers* I shall speak cursorily of 
every thing, but that which I had immedi- 
ately from 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 ia so natural to him ; and took care 
also that he might not, on terms more easy 
than sate, be at peace- with himself. Dr. 
Marshall, the learned and worthy rector of 
Lincoln College in Oxford, being the min- 
ister of the parish, was also frequently with 
him ; and by these helps he was so direc- , 
ted and supported, that he might not on the 
one hand satisfy himself with too superfi- 
cial a repentance, nor on the other hand be 
out of measure oppressed with a sorrow 
WithoS hope. 

As soon as I heard he was ill, but yet 
in such a condition that I might write to 
him, I wrote a letter to the best purpose L % 
could. . He ordered one that was then with 
him, to assure me it was very welcome to 
him : but not satisfied with that, he sent me 
an answer, which, as the countess of Roch- 
ester, his mother, told me, he dictate devery 
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 nof very well sui*- 

10*- '. . . ■ 


log with bis condition^ But f th* sens* he 

- expresses m it of the change then- wroyght 

on him hath, upon second thoughts, prevail* 

ed with me to ptibtish 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 church- 
men above all men in the world, |^. If 
God be yet pleased to spare me longer in 
this world, I hope in your conversation to, 
be exalted to that degree gf piety, that the 
* world may see how much*! abhor *lhat I 
so long loved, and how- much I glory in re- 
' pentance, and in God's service. Bestow 
your prayers upon n\g, that God would 
spare me (if it be his good tvill) to shew a 
true repentance and amendment of life for 
the time to come : ©r else, if the Lord 
pleaseth to put an end to my -worldly being 
now, that he wopld mercifully accept of my 
death-bed repentance, and perform . that . 
promise that he hath been pleased to make, 

USL ■ 

tAdt mi what time,, satmr* a st&tier dstk 
repfnti ke rvoidd raflfenw: him, Pst up 
these prayers* m©s£ dear Doctor, to At* 
iriignty God fc» your most obedient and 
languishing servant, ROCHESTER. 

He told me when I saw him, that he 
hoped I would come to him upon that gen* 
eral insinuation of the desire he had of my 
Company ; - and he was loth to write more 
plainly ; not knowing whether I could easi- > 
\y sp^re so much time, I told him, that 
on the other hand, I looked on it as a pre- 
sumption to come so fiuy when h$ was m 
such excellent hands ; a$d though perhaps 
the freedom formerly between. us, might 
have excused it with those to whom it wad 
.known, yet it might ha*e the appearance of 
much vanity, to such as were strangers to 
it; so that till I received his letter, I did 
, not think it convenient to come to him ; 
and* then not hearing that there was any" 
danger of a sudden change, I delayed going 
to him till the twentieth §>f July. 

At my coming to his house, an accident 
fell out Jvot Worth mentioning, but that som^ 

have made a story of it. His servant, be- 
ing a Frenchman, carried up my name' 
wrong, so that he had mistook it for an- 
other, who had sent to him that he would 
undertake his cure, and he being resolved 
not to meddle with him; did not care to see 
him. This mistake lasted some hours, 
with which I was the better contented, be- * 
cause he was not then in such a condition, 
that my being about him could have been of 
any use to him ; for that night was like to 
have been his last. He had a convulsion fit, 
and raved; but opiates being given him, after 
some hours' rest, his raving left him so en- 
tirely, that it never again returned to him. 
I cannot easily express the transport he 
* was in, when he awoke and saw me by him. 
He broke out in the tenderest expressions 
concerning my kindness in coming so far 
to see such an one, using terms of great ab- 
horrence concerning himself, which I for- 
bear to relate. He told me, as his strength 
served him at several short seasons, for he 
was then so low, that he could not Hold up 
discourse long at once, what sense he had 
of his past life ; 'what sad apprehensions for 



having ,so { offended his* Maker, and dSshoa* 
•Ured hi& Redeemer ;. what horrors he. had 
gq>ne through, much his mind wa* 
turqed to call op God, and on his /crucified 
Saviour* So that he hoped he should ob- 
tain mercy, for he believe^ he had sincerely r 
repented ; and had now a calm in his mind, 
after that ^torm that he had been in for 
some weeks. 

He . had strong apprehensions and per. . 
suasions of his admittance to heaven; o£ 
which he jspake once not without some ex- 
traordinary emotion. It , was indeed the. 
©ply time he spake with any great warmth 
to me ; for his spirits were then low, and 
so far, spent, that though those about him 
told me he had Expressed formerly great 
fervour in his devotions, yet nature was so 
* much sunk, that these were in a great mea- 
sure fallen off, 

But he made me pray often with him : 
and spoke of his conversion to God as a 
thing now grown up in him to a settled and 
calm .serenity. He was very > anxioys to 
know my opinion of a death-bed repentance. 
I told him, that before I gave any resoiu* 

* 118 

tion in that, it would be convenient that I 
should be acquainted more particularly with 
the circumstances and progress of his re- 

Upon this he satisfied me in many par- 
ticulars. He said, he was now persuaded 
both of the truth of Christianity, and Of the 
power of inward grace, of which he gave 
me this strange account. He said, Mjv 
Parsons, in order to his conviction, read to 
bim the 53d chapter of the prophecy of 
Isaiah, and compared that with the history 
of our Saviour's passion, that he might . 
there see a prophecy concerning it, written 
many ages before it was done ; which the 
Jews that blasphemed Jesus Christ still kept 
in their hands, as a book divinely inspired. 
He said to me, that as he heard it read, he 
felt an inward 'force upon him, which did 
so enlighten his mind and convince him, * 
that he could resist it no longer : for tbe 
words had an authority, which did shoot 
like rays or beams in his mind ; so that he 
was iy>t only convinced by the reasonings 
he had about if, which satisfied his under- 
standing, but by a power which did. so e£~ 



fectually constrain him, that he did ever af- 
ter as firmly believe in his Saviour, as if he 
had seen him in the clouds. * 

He had it read so often to him, that he 
had got it by heart : and went through a 
great part of it in discourse with me, with 
a sort of heavenly pleasure, giving me his 
reflections on it. — Some few I remember : 
Who hath believed our report? verse 1. 
Here ? he said, was foretold the opposition 
the* gospel has to meet with from such 
wretches as he was. He hath no Jbrm nor 
comeliness ; and when we shall see him, 
there is no beauty that we should desire him, 
verse fL On this he said, the meanness of 
his appearance and person has made vain 
and foolish people disparage him, because - 
he came not in such a fool's coat as they 
delight in. 

What he said on the other parts I do 
not well remember ; and indeed I was so 
affected with what he said then to m£, that 
the general transport I was under during 
the whole discourse, made me less capable 
to remember these particulars, as I wish I 
had done. 


He told me, that he had thereupon re- 
ceived the sacrament with great satisfaction, 
and that was increased bg the pleasure he 
had in his lady's receiving it with him ; who 
had been for some years misled into the 
communion of the church of Rome, and he 
himself had been not a little instrumental in 
procuring it, as he freely acknowledged. 
So that it Was one of the most joyful things 
that befel him in his sickness, that he had 
aeeit that mischief removed, in whick he 
had so great a hand. . 


And during his whole sickness, he ex- 
pressed so much tenderness and true kind- 
ness to his lady, that, as it easily defaced 
the remembrance of every thing wherein 
he had been in fault formerly, so it drew 
from her the most passionate care and con- 
cern for him that was possible; which in- 
deed deserves a higher character, than is 
decent to give off a person yet alive.— But 
I shaft eonfine myself to the dead. 

He-told me, he had overcome all his re- 
sentment to aU the worlii ; so that he bqit? 
ill wUl to no person, "nor hated any upon 
personal accounts. He had given a state 



ef hjs debts, and had ordered to pay them 
all, as far as his estate that was not settled 
could go 4 and was confident^ that if all 
that was owing to hifti were paid to his ex- 
ecutors, his creditors would be all satisfied. 

He said, he found his mind now pos- 
sessed with another sense of things, than 
ever he had formerly. He did *iot repine 
tinder all his pain, And in one of the sharpest 
fits he was under while I was with him, he 
said, he did willingly submit ; and, looking 
tip to heaven, said,God's holy will be done, 
I bless him for all he does for me.. He 
knew he could never be so well, that life 
could be comfortable to him* He was*con- 
fident he should be happy, if he died; but 
he feared, if he lived, he might relapse. And 
then, said he to me, in what a condition 
shall 1 he, if I relapse after all this ! But, he 
said, Jie trusted in the grace and goodness 
of God, and was resolved to avoid all those 
temptations, that course of life and compa-' 
ny, that was likely to ensnare him : and he 
desired to live on no other" account, but 
that he might by the change of his manners 

11 V / 



some' way take off the high scandal his For- 
mer behaviour had given. All these things 
at ' several titftes I had from him. besides 
some messages, whidh very' well became a 
dying penitent to some of ^his' former 
friends, and a charge to publish any thing 
concerning him, that might tend to reclaim 
others. Praying God, that as his life had 
done much hurt, so his death might do 
soipe good. , 

Having understood all these things from 
him, and being pressed to give him my 
opinion plainly about his eternal state ; 
I told him, that though tne promises of Ae 
gospel- did all depend if pon a real change of 
the heart and life, as the indispensable con- 
dition upon which they were- made ; and 
that it was scarce possible to know certain- 
ly whether our hearts are changed, unless it 
appeared in our lives ; and the repeptanc£ 
of most dying men, being like the howlings 
of condemned prisoners for pardon, which 
flowed froiti no sense of their crimes, but. 
from the hof ror of approaching death ; 
there was 1 little reason to encourage any to . 
' hope much from such sorrowing ; yet c$r- 


tainly, if the mind of a sinner even on a 
death-bed be truly renewed and turned to 
G©d, so great is his. mercy that he will re-, 
ceiye him, even in ttat^xtremityl , 

JieVas^Bure his mind was entirely turn- 
cd, and though horror had given him his 
first awakening, yet that was now. grown 
up into a settled faith and conversion* 

. There is but one prejudice lies against 
all this, to defeat the good ends of Divine 
Providence by it upon ^others, as well as 
upon himself, ; and that is, it was a part of 
bis . disease,' and that the lowness of his 
spirits made such *ati alteration in him, that 
he was not what he had formerly been : 
and this some have carried so far as to say, 
that he died mad. These reports are rais* ' 
ed by those, who are unwilling that the last 
thoughts or words of a persdh, every way 
s<x.extraordinary, should have any effect 
either on themselves or others* .And it is 
to be feared, that some may have so seared 
their consciences, and ejcceede4 the com- 
mon measures of sin and infidelity, that nei*. 
ther this testimony, nor one coming from 


th6 dead, would signify much towards 

That this lord was either mad or stupid, 
is a thing so notoriously untrue, that it is* 
; the greatest impudence for any. that were 
about him, to report it ; and a very unrca- 
sonabje . eredulity in others to believe it r 
All the while I was with him, after* he had 
slept out the disorders of the fit, he was not 
only without ravings, but had. a clearness in 
his thoughts, in his memory, in his reflec- 
tions on things and persons, far -beyond 
x what I ever saw in a person so lqjv in his 

strength. He was not able to hold out in 
discourse, for his spirits failed ; but once 

for half an hour, and often for a quarter of 
" .an hois:, after he awaked, he had a vivacity 

in his discourse tl tat was extraordinary, and 

in all things like himself. 

He called often for his children, his son, 

the., now earl of Rochester y and his three 

daughters, and spake to them with a sense 

and feeling that cannot be expressed in 

1 He called me once to look on them all, 

and said, See how good God has been to 


me, in giving me so mmy blessings, and I 
have carried myself to jhim like an un* 
gracious and an unthankful dog. 

He once talked a great deal to me of 
ptiblick affairs, and of many persons arid v 
things, wjth the same clearness of thought 
and expression, that he had ever done be- 
fore. So that by no sign but his weakness 
of body, and giving over discourse so soon, 
could I perceivevi difference between what 
his parts . formerly were, and what they 
were then. 

And that wherein the presence of his 
mind appeared most, was in the total 
ehange of an ill habit grown sp much upon 
him, that he could hardly govern fcimself 
(when he was any way heated) three min- 
utes without falling into it ; I mean shear- 
ing- * 

He had acknowledged to me the for- 
mer winter, that he abhorred it as a base 
and indecent thing, and had set himself 
much to break it off : but he confessed 
that he was so much overpowered by that 

ill custom, that he could not speak with 

' * 1 


any warmth withou* repeated oaths, which, 
upon any sort of provocation, came almost 
natural from him. But in4iis last remorse 
this did so sensibly affect him, that by a 
resolute and constant watchfulness, the hab~ 
it of it was perfectly mastered ; so that up- 
on the return^ of pain, which were very se- 
vere and frequent upon him, the last dap 
I was with him, or upon such displeasures 
as people sick or in pain are apt to take of 
a sudden at those about them ; on all these 
occasions, he never swore an oath all the " 
while I was there. 

Once he was offended with the delay 
of one that he thought made not haste 
enough, with somewhat he called for, and 
said in a little heat, that d—djeilaw. Soon 
after, I told him,T*. was glad to find his style 
so reformed* and that he had so entirely 
overcome that ill habit of swearing ; only „ 
that word of calling- any d—d, which had 
returned upon him, was not decent. 

His answer was, Oh, that language of 
fiends, which was so familiar to me, hangs 
yet about me : sure none has deserved 
ntore to be damned, than I Jkave done,-^ 


And after he had humbly asked God par- 
don for it 9 he desired me to call the person x 
to him, that he might ask his forgiveness ; 
but I told him that was needless ; for he 
had said it of one that did not Jiear it, and 
so could not be offended by it. 

In this disposition of minft did he con- 
tinue all the while I was with him, four 
days together ; ha was then - brought so' 
low that all hope of recovery was gone* 
Much purulent matter came from him with, 
bis urine, which he passed always with 
some pain ; but one day with inexpressi- 
ble torment. Yet he bore it decently, 
withbut breaking out into repinings or im- 
patient complaints. He imagined he had a 
stone in his passage, but it being searched 
none was found. 

The whole substance of his body was 
drained by the ulcer, and nothing was left 
but skin and bone ; and by. lying much on, 
his back, the parts there began to mortify. 
But he had been formerly so Jow* that he- 
seemed as much past all hopes of life as 
now ; which made him one morning, after 
a full and sweet aaight^ rest, procured by 


laudanum given him without his knowl- 
edge, to fancy it was an effort of nature, 
and to begin to entertain some hopes of 
recovery-: for he said, he felt himself per- 
fectly Well, and that he had rfbthing ailing' 
him but an extreme weakness, which might 
go off in time ; and then he entertained mc 
with a scheme he had laid down for the rest 
of his life, how retired, how strict and how 
studious he intended to be. But this was 
soon over, for he .quickly felt that it was ' 
only the effect of a good sleep, and that he 
was still in a very desperate state. 

I thought to have left him on-Friday ; 
hiit, not without some passion, he desired 
me to stay that day. . There appeared no 
symptom of present death ; and a worthy 
physician then with him told me, ~ that - 
though he was so low that an accident 
might carry him away on a sudden ; yet 
x without that, he thought he might live yet 
some weeks. 

. So on Saturday, at four o'clock* in the 
morning, I left him, being the 24th of July. 
But I durst not take leave of him ; for he 
had expressed so great an unwillingness to 

f ' 



part with me the fey before, that if I had 
not presently yielded to one day's stay, it 
was like to h^ve given him some trouble ; 
therefore I thought it better to leave him 
without any formality. 

Some hours after he asked for me ; 
and when it was told him I was gone, he 
seemed to be troubled* and said, Has my 
friend left me ? then 1 shall die shordy. . 

After that, he spake but orice or twice -till 


he died. He lay much silent. Once they 

d~. ■ * 

evoutly. And on 

Monday, about two o'clock in the morri- 

&ig, he died without any convulsion, or so 

much as a groan. \ - 


~ 9 

THUS he lived, and thus he died, in the 
three and thirtieth year of his age. Nature 
had fitted him for great things, and his 
knowledge and observation qualified him 
to have been one of the most extraordinary 
men not only of his nation, but' of the age 
he lived in ; and I do verily believe, that if ' 
God had though? fit to hpye continued hin>.„ 

' 136 

longer is the world, he had Jbecfi the won- 
der and delight of all that knew him. 

But the infinitely wise God' knew bet- 
ter what was fit for him, and what the age 
deserved. 'For men who have so cast off 
all sense of G6d and religion, deserve not 
so signal a blessing, as th$ example and 
conviction which the rest of his. life might, 
have given them. 

And I am apt to think that life divine 
goodness took pity on him, and seeing the 
sincerity of his repentance, would try and 
venture him no more in circumstances of 

temptation, perhaps too hard for human 

Now he is at rest, and I am very confix 
dent enjoys the fruit of his late, but sinqerc 
repentance. But such as live, and still go 
on in their sins and impieties, and will not 
be awakened neither by this, nor the other 
alarms that, are about their ears, are, it 
seems, given up by God to a judicial hard^ 
ness and impenitency. 

Here is a publick instance of one who 
lived on their side, but could not die on it : 
tod though none of all our libertines under- 


stood better than he, the secret mysteries of 
sin, had more Studied every thing that could 
support^ man m it, and had mort resisted 
411 external hieans of conviction than he 
had done ; yet, when the hand of God in- 
wardly touched -him, he could no longer 
kick against (hose pricks, but humbled 
himself under that s mighty hand ; and, as 
he used often to say in his prayers, he who 
had so often denied him, found then no oth» 
^r shaker, but hiq mercies and compassions* 
I have written this account with all the 
tenderness and caution I could use ; and 
v in whatsoever I may h&ve failed, I have 
been strict in the truth of wliat I have rela- 
ted, remembering that of Job, Will ye lie 

Religion has strength and evidence 
« enough in itself, and needs no support from 
1ms and made stories. I do not protend to 
have given die formal words that he said, 
thbugh I hare done that; where I cotrld re- 
member them. But I have written this 
with the same sincerity, that I would have 
done, had I known I had been td die im* 
mediately after I had finished it. < 



I did not take notes of our discourses 
last winter after we parted ; so I may per- 
haps, in the setting out of my answers to 
him, have enlarged on several things both 
more fully and more regularly, than I could 
say them in such free discourses as we had. 
I am not so sure of all I set down as said 
by me, as I am of all said by him to me. 
But yet the substance of the greatest part, 
even of that, is the same. 
- It remains that I humbly and -earnestly 
beseech all tharf shall take this book in their 
hands, that they will consider it entirely, 
and not wrest some parts to an ill intention* 
God, the searcher of hearts, knows with 
what fidelity I have written it But if any 
will drink up only the poison that may be 
in it, without taking also the antidote here J 
given to those ill principles, or considering 
the sense that this great person had of them 
, when he reflected seriously on them ; and 
will father confirm themselves in their iB 
ways, by the scruples ai\d objections which 
I set down,, than be edified by the other 
.parts of it ; as I will look on it as a great 
infelicity, that 1 should have said any thing 


that mjjr strengthen, them in their impie- 
ties, so the sincerity of my intentions will, 
I doubt not, excuse me at his hands to 
whom I offer this small service/ 

1 have now performed, in the best man- 
ner I could, what was left on me by this 
rxioble lord, and have done with the part of 
' an historian. I shall in the negrt place say 
somewhat as a divine. So extraordinary a 
text does almost force a sermon, though it 
is plain enough itself; and speaks with so 
loud a voice, that those who are not awak- 
ened by it, will perhaps consider nothing 
iiiat I can say* 

If our libertines will become so far so- 
ber as to examine their former course 6f 
life, with that disengagement and impartial- 
ity, which they must acknowledge a wise 
man ought to use in things of greatest con- 
sequence, and balance the ; account of what 
they liave got by their debaucheries, witk 
the mischiefs they haver brought on^them- 
Belves and others by them, they will soon 
see what a mad bargain they have made. 

■ IS ' ' • ' " 


Some diversion, tpiith, and pleasure & 
all they can promise themselves ; but to 
obtain this, how many evils are they to suf- 
fer! How many have wasted their strepgth, 
brought many diseases on their bodies, and 
precipitated their age in the pursuit of 
those things ? And as they bring old age 
early on themselves, so it becomes a mise» 
rable state of life to the greatest part of 
them ; gouts, stranguries, and other infir- 
mities, being severe reckonings for their 
past follies ; not to mention the more loath- 
some diseases, with their no less trouble- 
some cures,- which they must often go 
through, who deliver themselves up to for- 
bidden pleasure. v ' 

Many are disfigured beside, with die 
marks of their intemperance and lewdness ; 
and, which is yet sadder, an infection is die- 
rived oftentimes on their innocent, but un- 
happy issue, who being descended from so 
vitiated an original, suffer for their excesses. 

Their fortunes are profusely wasted 
both by their neglect of their affairs, (they 
being so far buried in vice, that they cannot 
employ either their time or % spirits* ,so 


milch exhausted by intemperance, to con- 
sider them) and by that prodigal expense 
which their lusts put them upon. 

They suffer no less in their credit, the 
chief mean to recover an entangled estate ; 
for that irregular expense forceth them to 
* so- many mean shifts, makes them «o often 
false to -all promises and resolutions, that 
they must needs feel how much they have 
Iostj that which a gentleman and men of in- 
genuous tempers do sometimes prefer even 
to life itself, their honour and reputation* 

Nor do they suffer less in the nobler 
powers of their minds, which, by a long 
course of such dissolute practices, come to 
sink and degenerate so far, that not a fe\^, 
whose first blossoms gave the most promis- 
ing hopes, have so withered as to become 
incapable of great and generous undertak- 
ings, and to be disabled to every thing but 
to wallow like swine in the filth of sensual- 
ity, their spirits being dissipated, and their 
minds so numbed, as to be wholly unfit for 
business, and even indisposed to think. 

That this dear price should be* paid for 
a little wild mirth, or gross and corporeal 


pleasure, is a thing of such unparalleled 
ly, that if there were not too many such in- 
stances before us, it mighrseem incredible. 

To all this we must add the horrors 
that their ill actions raise in them, and -the 
hard shifts they are put to, to stave off 
these, either by being perpetually drunk or 
mad, or by an habitual disuse of thinking 
and reflecting on their actions, and (if these 
arte will not perfectly quiet them) by taking 
sanctuary m such atheistical principles as 
may at least mitigate the sourness of their 
thoughts, though they cannot* absolutely 
settle their minds. 

If the state of mankind and human so- 
cieties are considered, what mischiefs can 
be equal to those which follow these courses! 

Such persons are a .plague wherever 


they come ; they can neither be trusted nor 
loved, having cast off both truth, and good- 
ness, which procure confidence and attract 
love. They .corrupt some by their ill prac- 
tices, and do irreparable injuries to the resU 
They run great hazards, and put them- 
selves to much trouble, and all this to do 
what is in their power to make damnation as 


sure to themselves as they possibly can. 
What influence this has on the whole na- 
tion is but too visible ; how the bonds of 
nature, wedlock, and all other relations are 
quite broken. Virtue is thought an an- 
tique piece of formality, and religion the 
effect of cowardice or knavery. These 
are the men that would reform the world, 
by bringing it under a new system of intel- 
lectual and moral principles ; but, bate. 
" them a. few bold and lewd jests," what have 
they ever done, or designed to do, to make 
theirfbe remembered, except Jt be with 
detestation ? They are the scorn of the 
present age, and their names must rot in 
the next. 

Here they have before them an instance 
of one who was deeply corrupted with the 
contagion which he first-derived from oth- 
ers, but unhappily heightened it' much 
himself. He was a master indeed, and not 
a bare trifler with wit,, as some of those are 
who repeat, and that but scurvily , wl^t they 
may have heard from him or some others, 

- and with impudence and laughter will face 


the worid down, as if they were to teach it 
wisdom : who, God knows, cannot follow 
one thought a step further than they have 
conned it ; and take from them their bor- 
rowed wit and their mimical humour, and 
they will presently appear, what they indeed 
are, the least and lowest 'erf men. 

If they will, or if they can think a little, 
I wish they would consider, that by their 
<Own principles they cannot be sure that re- 
ligion is only a contrivance ; all that they 
pretend to is, only to weaken some argu- 
ments that are brought , for it ; but they 
have not brow enough to say, they can 
prove that their own principles are true. 

So that at most they bring their cause 
no higher, than that it is possible religion 
may not be true. But still it is possible it 
may be true, and .they have no shame left 
that will deny that it is also probable it may 
be true ; and if so, then what madmen are 
they who run so great a hazard for nothing ! 

By their own confessipn, it may be 
there is a G,od, a judgment, and a life to 
come ; and if so, then he. that % believes 
these things, and lives according to them, 

as he Enjoys a long^ course of health, and 
quiet of mind, an innocent relish of many 
true pleasures, and the serenities which vir- 
tue raises in him, with the good will and 
friendship which it procures him from, oth- 
ers ; so when he dies, if these things prove 
mistakes, he does not outlive his error, 
nor shall it afterwards raise trouble pr dis- 
quiet in him if he then ceases to be. . But 
if these things be true, ,he shall bk infinitely 
happy in that state, where his present small 
services shall be so excessively rewarded* 

The libertines, on the other side, as they 
know they must die, so the thoughts of 
death must be. always melancholy to them ; 
they . can have no pleasant- view of that, 
which yet they know csftinot be very far 
from them. The lea6t painful idea they 
can have of it is, that it is an extinction and 
ceasing to be ; but they arte not sure even, 
of that. Some secret" whispers within 
make tbem, whether they will or not, trem- 
ble at the apprehensions of another state ; 
neither their tinsel wit, nor superficial 
learning,. nor their impotent assaults upon 
the weak side, as they think, of religion, 



nor the boldest notions of impiety, will 
n hold them up then ; of all which I now 
present so lively an instance, as perhips 
history can scarcely parallel. 

Here were parts so exalted by nature, 
and improved by study, and yet so corrup- 
ted and debased by irreligion and vice, 
that he who was made to be one of the glo- 
ries of his age was become a proverb ; and 
if his repentance had not interposed, would 
have been one of the greatest reproaches 
of it. He knew well the small strength of 
that weak cause, and at first despised, but 
afterwards abhorred it. He' felt the mis- 
chiefs, and saw the madness of it ; and 
therefore, though he lived to the scandal of 
many, he died as much to the edification of 
all those who saw him ; and because they 
were but a small number, he desired that . 
he might, even when dead, yet speak. He 
was willing nothing should be concealed 
-that might cast reproach on himself, and 
on sin, and offer up glory to God and reli- 
' gion. So that though he lived a heinous 
sinner, he died a most exemplary penitent. 


It wouWtbe a faitt and ridiculous m- 
ference, for any from hence to draw argu*. 
inetft& about the abstruse sectets of predes- 
tination ; and to conclude^ that if they are 
of the number of the elect,- they may live 
as they wiB, and that divine grace will, at 


some time or other violently constrain 
them, and irresistibly work upon thejn. 
But as St. Paul was called to that eminent 
service for which he was appointed in so 
stupendous a manner, as is no warrant for 
others to expect a similar vocation ; so,, if 
'upon some signal occasions such conver- 
sions fail out (vthich how hi they are short 
of miracles, I shall not determine) it is not 
only a vain but a pernicious imaginatidn for 
any to go on in their ill ways, upon a fond 
conceit and expectation that the like will 
befal them. For whatsoever God's extra- 
ordinary" dealings with some may be, „we 
are sure his common way of working is by 
offering those things to our rational facul- 
ties, which, by the assistance of h& grace, 
if s \ye improve them all we can, shall be 
certainly effectual for our reformation ; and 
if we neglect or abuse these, we put our- . 

» i 

< . 



selves beyond the common methods of 
God's mercy, and have no reason to expect 
that wonders should be wrought for f^r 
conviction ; which, though they some- 
times happen, that they may give an. effec- 
tual alarm for the awakening of others, 
yet it would destroy the whole design of 
religion, if men should depend, upon, or 
look for, such an extraordinary and forcible 
operation of God's grace. 

And I hope that those, -who have had 
some sharp reflections on their past life, so 
as to be resolved to forsake their ill courses, 
will not tpke th* least encouragement to 
themselves in that desperate and unreasona- 
ble resolution of putting off their repent- 
ance till they can sin no longer, from the 
hopes I have expressed of this lord's ob- 
taining mercy at the last ; and from thence 
presume that they also shall be received, 
when they turn to God on their death- beds. 
- For what mercy soever God may show to 
jsuch as really were never inwardly touched 
before that time ; yet there is no reason to 
think that those, who have de4t so disin- 
genuously with God and their own souls, 


as designedly to put off their turning to 
him upon such considerations, should be 
than accepted with him. ^ 

They may die suddenly, or by ^a dis- 
ease that may so disorder their understand- 
ings, that they shall not be in any capacity 
of reflecting on their past lives. The in- 
ward conversion of our minds is not so in 
our power, that it can be effected without 
divine grace assisting. And there is no 
Reason for those, who have neglected 
these assistances all their lives, to expect 
them in so extraordinary * manner at their 
death. Nor can one, especially in a sick- 
ness that is quick and critical, be able to do 
those things that are often indispensably 
necessary to make his repentance com- 
plete ; and even in a longer disease, in 
which there are larger opportunities for 
these things. Yet there is great reason to 
doubt of a repentance begun and kept up 
merely by terror, and not from any ingenu- 
ous principle. In which, though I will not 
take it on me to limit the mercies of God, 
which are boundless, yet this must be con- 
fessed, that to delay repentance with such 



a design, is to put the greatest concern- 
ment that we have, upon the most danger- 
ous and desperate issue that is possible. 

But if they will still gq on in their sins, 
and b>e so partial to them as to use all en- 
deavours to strengthen themselves in their 
evfl course, even by those very things 
which the providence of God . sets before 
* them for the casting clown of these strong 
holds of sin ; what is to be said to such ? 
It is to be feared, that if they obstinately 
persist, they will by degrees come within 
that cur$e, " £{p that is unjust, let him be 
unjust still : and he that is filthy^ let him 
be filthy still." But if our gospel is hid, it 
is hid to them that are lost, in whom the 
god of this world hath blinded the minds 
of them which believe not, lest the light of 
the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the 
image of God, should shine unto them. 






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