|Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916.|
Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
|A Virtuous Woman|
|By Richard Hooker (15541600)|
From a Funeral Sermon
THE DEATH of the saints of God is precious in His sight. And shall it seem unto us superfluous at such times as these are to hear in what manner they have ended their lives? The Lord Himself hath not disdained so exactly to register in the book of life after what sort His servants have closed up their days on earth, that He descendeth even to their very meanest actions, what meat they have longed for in their sickness, what they have spoken unto their children, kinsfolk, and friends, where they have willed their dead carcasses to be laid, how they have framed their wills and testaments, yea the very turning of their faces to this side or that, the setting of their eyes, the degrees whereby their natural heat hath departed from them, their cries, their groans, their pantings, breathings, and last gaspings, He hath most solemnly commended unto the memory of all generations. The care of the living both to live and to die well must needs be somewhat increased, when they know that their departure shall not be folded up in silence, but the ears of many be made acquainted with it. Again when they hear how mercifully God hath dealt with others in the hour of their last need, besides the praise which they give to God, and the joy which they have or should have by reason of. their fellowship and communion of saints, is not their hope also much confirmed against the day of their own dissolution? Finally, the sound of these things doth not so pass the ears of them that are most loose and dissolute of life, but it causeth them some time or other to wish in their hearts, Oh that we might die the death of the righteous, and that our end may be like his! Howbeit because to spend herein many words would be to strike even as many wounds into their minds whom I rather wish to comfort: therefore concerning this virtuous gentlewoman only this little I speak, and that of knowledge, She lived a dove, and died a lamb. And if amongst so many virtues, hearty devotion towards God, towards poverty tender compassion, motherly affection towards servants, towards friends even serviceable kindness, mild behaviour and harmless meaning towards all; if, where so many virtues were eminent, any be worthy of special mention, I wish her dearest friends of that sex to be her nearest followers in two things: Silence, saving only where duty did exact speech; and Patience, even then when extremity of pains did enforce grief. Blessed are they which die in the Lord. And concerning the dead which are blessed, let not the hearts of any living be overcharged, with grief overtroubled.