Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1607–1764
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. I–II: Colonial Literature, 1607–1764
 
The Life of Master Cotton
By John Norton (1606–1663)
 
[Born in Hertfordshire, England, 1606. Died in Boston, Mass., 1663. Abel being Dead yet speaketh, or, Life of Mr. John Cotton. 1658.]

IT is the privilege of the blessed who lived in Heaven whilst they lived on earth, that they may live on earth whilst they live in Heaven. And ’tis a part of the portion of the Saints that, together with the benefit of the living, they may enjoy both the life and death of those, who both lived and died in the Faith. “Life and Death are yours.” By Faith Abel, being dead many thousand years since, yet speaketh, and will speak whilst time shall be no more. That the living speak is no wonder; but that the dead speak is more than miraculous. This, though it be enough to draw forth attention from the sons of men (who is not affected with miracles?), yet being influenced with a Divine and special Benediction, for the memorial of the Just is blessed. To suppress an Instrument of so much good with silence were not only unthankfulness to the dead, but an injury to the generation present and to many an one that is to come. To preserve the memory of the blessed, with the Spices and sweet Odors of their Excellencies and Well-doing, recorded to posterity, is a super-Egyptian embalming, and a service which many reasons persuade unto.
  1
  This do we as men, glad to rescue and solicitous to preserve any excellency in the sons of mortality, that may outlive Death. Desire of continuance in being is in itself inseparable from being. Dumb pictures of deserving men answer not ingenuous minds, capable to retain the memorial of virtue, the real effigies of their spirits. Besides, unhappy Emulation happily expiring with the life of the emulated, we greedily own and enjoy such Worthies, when they are not, whom envy in a great degree bereaved us of, whilst they were….  2
  The Mystery of God, concerning all the transactions of his eternal purpose upon the Theatre of this World, throughout the whole time of time, being fully accomplished and revealed (that of Jesus Christ himself excepted), in none of all the work, which He hath gloriously done, will be admired so much in that day, as in what He hath wrought in the lives and deaths of Believers, as Believers. The same object is as admirable now as then; that it is not so much admired, is, because it is not seen now so much as it shall be then. The greatest object out of Heaven is the life and death of such upon Earth, who are now in Heaven. You may believe it: what God hath done for the soul of the least Saint of some few years continuance, were it digested into order, would make a volume full of temptations, signs and wonders. A wonderful history, because a history of such experiences, each one whereof is more than a wonder. No greater acts than their obedience, both active and passive, unto the death. The sufferings of the Apostles may well be reckoned among the Acts of the Apostles. No greater monuments than their register: To live and die in the Faith of Jesus. To do things worthy to be written, and to write things worthy to be done,—both is good and doth good. ’Tis better with William Hunter than with William the Conqueror. ’Tis better to have a name in the Book of Martyrs than in the Book of Chronicles. Martial conquerors conquer Bodies by destroying. Confessors conquer Souls by saving. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of his Testimony, and loved not their lives unto death.  3
  Amongst these, as the age that now is (through Grace) hath abounded with many worthies, so this Eminent Servant of God, the subject of our present meditation, may without wrong unto any be placed amongst the first Three. Had it pleased the only wise God to have put it into his heart to have imitated Junius in leaving behind him the history of his own life, how many would have gladly received it, as Elisha did the mantle which fell from Elijah, when he was caught up and carried from him into Heaven! But Divine Providence otherwise disposing, it remains that they who have known his doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, love, patience, persecutions, and affliction, do not suffer such a Light to be hid under a bushel, but put it on a candlestick, that it may give light to them that are in the House.  4
  His birthplace, Derby, we shall not detain the Reader at, though a situation in respect of the purity and frequent agitation of the air, attempered (in the judgment of the orator) for the breeding of better wits. Creatures are in their kind subservient; but ’tis God (not the air) who puts wisdom into the inward parts and giveth understanding to the heart. As the wise man and the fool die, so are they both ordinarily born in the same place. The glory of every good and perfect gift is reserved for the Father of Lights.  5
  Let it be sufficient to acknowledge both the place an honor to the person, and the person an honor to the place. What Basil sometime commended in the Martyrs, the same is to be looked at in our Confessor (or Martyr, which you please), namely, that his praise is not to be derived from his country here below, wherein he was born; but from his Relation unto that Jerusalem which is above, where he was instrumentally born again, according unto Grace. The mercy of a good descent, which the joint-consent of all generations hath always voted not to be the least part of outward happiness, God blessed him with from the womb; his parents being persons of considerable quality and of good reputation. Their condition, as to the things of this life, competent; neither unable to defray the expense of his education in literature, nor so abounding as to be a temptation on the other hand unto the neglect thereof. Crates the philosopher would needs go unto the highest place of the city and cry in the audience of all the people: “O men! whither go ye? Why take ye so much pains to gather riches for your children, and have no care to train them up who should enjoy them?” And Plutarch was wont to say, that he would add but this one thing thereunto: That such men as these were are very like to them who are very careful for the shoe, and take no care for the foot. But God, who had predetermined this then tender plant to be a Tree of Life for the feeding of many thousands, to be a chosen Vessel to bear his name before the Nations, in way thereunto inspired his parents with an effectual solicitude concerning the ordering of the child in his minority….  6
  This care in the parents was quickly above expectation encouraged in the first-fruits of their young son’s proficiency, more and more increasing great hopes concerning him throughout the whole time of his minority, wherein he was trained up in the grammar-school of Derby. Three ingredients Aristotle requires to complete a man: An innate excellency of Wit, Instruction and Government. The two last we have by nature; in them man is instrumental; the first we have by nature more immediately from God. This native aptitude of mind, which is indeed a peculiar gift of God, the naturalist calls the sparklings and seeds of virtue, and looked at them as the principles and foundation of better education. These, the Godly-wise advise such to whom the inspection of youth is committed, to attend unto, as Spring-masters were wont to take a trial of the virtue latent in waters, by the morning-vapors that ascend from them. The husbandman perceiving the nature of the soil fits it with suitable seed. A towardly disposition is worse than lost without education. The first impression sinks deep and abides long. The manners and learning of the scholar depend not a little upon the manners and teaching of the master. Physicians tell us that the fault of the first concoction is not corrigible by the second; and experience showeth that errors committed in youth through defect in education are difficultly cured in age…. The best soil needs both tilling and sowing; there must be culture as well as seed, or you can expect no harvest. What son is he that the father chasteneth not? And that our daughters may be as Cornerstones, Palace-stones, and (albeit the weaker vessels) yet vessels of precious treasure, they must be carved, that is, suffer the cutting, engraving, and polishing hand of the artificer. Since the being of Sin, Doctrine and Example alone are insufficient, discipline is an essential part of the nurture of the Lord. The learned and famous Melancthon’s words are remarkable, speaking of his school-master: “I,” saith he, “had a master who was an excellent grammarian. He imposed upon me such and such exercises, not permitting any omission thereof. As often as I erred, I was punished, but with such moderation as was convenient. So he made me a grammarian. He was an excellent man; he loved me as a son, and I loved him as a father; and I hope we shall both shortly meet together in Heaven. His severity was not severity, but paternal discipline.”  7
  Man’s Belial-heart, because such, though it cannot want, yet it will not bear the yoke of education. Children love not to take physic, though they die without it. The non-acknowledgment hereof is the denying of our original disease; the repetition of it is to choose transgression rather than correction. If you ask why the famous Lacedemonian State lived and flourished, when their sister-cities of Greece fell to dissoluteness, and from thence to confusion: Xenophon tells us the reason thereof was because the Lacedemonians established the education of their youth by a law, which the other Grecians neglected. Sure we are that it is a Statute in Israel, and a Law of the God of Jacob, “Fathers, bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” And unto the training up of a child in the way he should go, faithful is He which hath promised that when he is old, he will not depart from it.  8
  About thirteen years of age he was admitted into Trinity College in Cambridge, much about the time whereat the famous Juel was sometime sent unto Oxford; at the hearing of whose lectures afterwards, his sometime tutor Parkhurst saluted him with this distich:
 Olim discipulus mihi chare Juelle fuisti
Nunc ero discipulus, te renuente, tuus.
“Great Juel, thou a scholar wast to me:
Though thou refuse, thy scholar now I ’ll be.”
  9
  ’Tis not youth, but licentiousness in youth, that unfits for the Academical state; such as Philostratus long since complained of, who stain an Athenian life with wicked manners. The Prince of the Peripatetics, describing his hearers, distinguisheth between youths in years, and youths in manners. Such as are old in days, yet youths in disposition, he rejects. Such who are youths in age, but seniors in spirit and behavior, he admits into his auditory. Junius telleth us that his grandfather was wont to write to his father Dionysius, when a student in the Universities of France, with this salt superscription: Dionysio dilecto filio, misso ad studendum: “To Dionysius, my beloved son, sent to study.” Idleness in youth is scarcely healed without a scar in age. Life is but short; and our lesson is longer than admits the loss of so great an opportunity without a sensible defect afterward showing itself. Bees gather in the Spring that which they are to live upon in the Winter. Therefore Fox, Bishop of Winchester, willed the students of that College whereof he was a benefactor, to be as so many bees. Seneca admonisheth his Lucilius that those things are to be gotten whilst we are young, which we must make use of when we are old. Accordingly God, who had set apart our student to be a Junius, not a Dionysius, inclined his heart unto such attractive diligence and effectual improving of opportunities; whence his profiting in the Arts and Languages above his equals so far commended him to the Master and Fellows as that he had undoubtedly been chosen Fellow of that College, had not the extraordinary expense about the building of their great Hall at that time put by, or at least deferred their election until some longer time.  10
  From Trinity he was removed to Emmanuel, that happy Seminary both of Piety and Learning. The occasion I cannot now learn; howsoever it may call to mind that maxim of the herbalists, Plantæ translatio est plantæ perfectio: “The transplantation of a plant, is the perfection of a plant.” In that Society the Lord gave him favor, as that in due time he was honored with a Fellowship amongst them, after a diligent and strict Examen according to the statutes of that House. Wherein this is not unworthy the taking notice of: That when the Poser came to examine him in the Hebrew tongue, the place that he took trial of him by was that Isaiah iii., against the excessive bravery of the haughty daughters of Sion; which hath more hard words in it than any place in the Bible within so short a compass, and therefore, though a present construction and resolution thereof might have put a good Hebrician to a stand, yet such was his dexterity as made those difficult words facile, and rendered him a prompt Respondent. This providence is here remarkable concerning him: That whereas his father (whose calling was towards the law) had not many clients that made use of his advice in law-matters before, it pleased God after his son’s going to Cambridge to bless him with great practice, so that he was very able to keep him there, and to allow him liberal maintenance; insomuch that this blessed man hath been heard to say: “God kept me in the University.”…  11
  As he was a lover of labor, so he was communicative, a diligent Tutor, and full of students committed to his care. He was a didactical man, both able and apt to teach. Ability to instruct youth argueth a Wise-man. To guide man, Nazianzen accounted the Art of Arts. To be willing to teach argueth a good man; good is communicative. Such was his Academical dexterity, that he could impart (as Scalliger speaks) the felicities of wit to his hearers, so accommodating and insinuating the matter in hand, as his pupils might both perceive their profiting, and taste the sweetness of that wherein they profited. Thus by school-stratagems he won the hearts of his scholars both to himself and to a desire of learning. They were as Socrates and Alcibiades, or rather as the Prophets and the sons of the Prophets; his pupils were honorers and lovers of him; he was a tutor, friend and father unto them.  12
  The manner of his Conversion take in his own words (as near as can be remembered) thus: During his residence in the University, God began to work upon him under the ministry of Mr. Perkins of blessed memory. But the motions and stirrings of his heart which then were, he suppressed, thinking that if he should trouble himself with matters of Religion, according to the light he had received, it would be an hinderance to him in his studies, which then he had addicted himself unto. Therefore he was willing to silence those suggestions and callings he had from the Spirit inwardly, and did wittingly defer the prosecution of that work until afterwards. At length, walking in the field, and hearing the bell toll for Mr. Perkins, who then lay dying, he was secretly glad in his heart that he should now be rid of him, who had (as he said) laid siege to and beleaguered his heart. This became a cause of much affliction to him, God keeping it upon his spirit, with the aggravation of it, and making it an effectual means of convincing and humbling him in the sight and sense of the natural enmity that is in man’s nature against God. Afterwards hearing Doctor Sibbs, then Mr. Sibbs, preaching a sermon about Regeneration, where he first showed what Regeneration was not when opening the state of a civil man, he saw his own condition fully discovered; which through mercy did drive him to a stand, as plainly seeing himself to have no true grace, all his false hopes and grounds now failing him. And so he lay a long time in an uncomfortable, despairing way; and of all things, this was his heaviest burthen, that he had wittingly withstood the means and offers of grace and mercy which he found had been tendered to him; till it pleased God to let in some word of Faith into his heart, to cause him to look unto Christ for healing, which word (if memory faileth not) was dispensed unto him by Doctor Sibbs, which begot in him a singular and constant love of Doctor Sibbs, of whom he was also answerably beloved.  13
  That which first made him famous in Cambridge was his funeral oration for Doctor Some, Master of Peter-house, so accurately performed, in respect of invention, elegancy, purity of style, ornaments of rhetoric, elocution, and oratorious beauty of the whole, as that he was thenceforth looked at as another Xenophon or Musa Attica throughout the University. Some space of time intervening, he was called to preach at St. Mary’s, where he preached an University-sermon, with high applause of Academical Wits, so that the fame of his learning grew greater and greater. Afterwards being called to preach in the same place, as one oration of Pericles left the hearer with an appetite of another, so the memory of his former accurate exercises, filled the Colleges, especially the young students, with a fresh expectation of such elegancies of learning, that the Curious and Corinthian Wits, who prefer the Muses before Moses, who taste Plato more than Paul, and relish the Orator of Athens far above the Preacher of the Cross, like Quintilian’s numerous auditory, sufficient to tempt the abilities of the speaker, flock to the sermon with an Athenian Itch after some new thing, as the ornaments of rhetoric and abstruser notions of philosophy. But his spirit now savoring of the Cross of Christ more than of human literature, and being taught of God to distinguish between the word of wisdom and the wisdom of words, his speech and preaching was not with the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.  14
  The disappointed expectation of the auditory soon appeared in their countenances, and the discouragement of their non-acceptance returned him unto his chamber not without some sadder thoughts of heart; where he had not been long alone, but lo, Doctor Preston, then Master Preston, knocks at his door, and coming in, acquaints him with his spiritual condition, and how it had pleased God to speak effectually unto his heart by that sermon. After which Doctor Preston ever highly prized him and both fully and strongly closed with him. Which real seal of God unto his ministry comforted his soul far above what the present less-acceptance of the auditory had dejected him, or their former acceptance encouraged him. This brings to mind that celebrated story of the conversion of the Heathen Philosopher at Nice, which God wrought by the means of an ancient and pious Confessor plainly declaring unto him the doctrine of Faith, after that many Christian Philosophers had by philosophical disputations labored in vain. Christ evidently held forth, is Divine Eloquence, the Eloquence of Eloquence. God will not have it said of Christ, as Alexander said of Achilles, that he was beholden to the pen of him that published his acts. ’T is Christ that is preached, not the tongue of the Preacher, to whom is due all praise. Such instances conclude that Paul is more learned than Plato. We must distinguish between ineptness of speech, carnal rhetoric, and eloquent Gospel-simplicity; between ignorance, ostentation, and learning. “The preacher sought to find out acceptable words, and words of truth.”  15
  This Concio ad Clerum, when he proceeded Bachelor of Divinity (after he had been at Boston about half a year) was very much admired and commended. This text was Matt. v. 15. Vos estis sal terre: quod si sal infatuarus fuerit quo salietur? “Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted?” In handling of which, both the weight of the matter, elegancy of phrase, rhetorical strains, grave, sweet and spiritual pronunciation, rendered him yet more famous. The like did his answering of the Divinity-Act in the Schools, having a very acute opponent, Mr. William Chappell, to dispute with him. So that in Cambridge the name of Mr. Cotton was much set by.  16
  Unto this earthen vessel, thus filled with heavenly treasure, Boston in Lincolnshire made their address, saying: “Come and help us!” And in that candlestick the Father of spirits placeth this burning and shining Light. To whom he removed from Cambridge about the twenty-eighth year of his age. At first he met with some obstructions from the Diocesan, then Bishop Barloe, who told him that he was a young man, and unfit to be set over such a divided people. Mr. Cotton being ingenuous, and undervaluing himself, thought so too, and purposed to return to the College again; but some of his Boston friends understanding that one Simon Biby was to be spoken with, who was near to the Bishop, they presently charmed him, and so the business proceeded without further trouble, and Mr. Cotton was admitted into the place after their manner in those days.  17
  Two things are here not unworthy of observation (which he would sometimes speak of to his friends): First, that in the beginning of his ministry, he was exercised with some inward troubles which much dejected him. No sooner had Christ received his mission into his public ministry, but he is led into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. Wise Heman suffered the horrors of God and was laid in the lowest pit. The Doctor of the Gentiles stood in need of being buffeted by Satan. The Tempter is in Christ’s hand, and the instrumental winnower of the Disciples. His fiery darts, through the influence of him who succors those that are tempted, cleanse as well as smart; and this cleansing efficacy remains when the smart is over. From the experience of this Archer, are the choice Shepherds in Israel. Good spirits are much bettered by their conflicts with the worst of spirits. Spiritual Preachers are often trained up in the school of temptation; so true is that theological maxim: Meditation, Prayer, and Temptation make a Divine. This dispensation of the all-wise God he afterwards found not only to be beneficial to him in preparing his heart for his work, but also that it became an effectual means of his more peaceable and comfortable settlement in that place, where the people were divided amongst themselves by reason of a potent man in the town, who adhered to another Cambridge man, whom he desired to bring in. But when they saw Mr. Cotton wholly taken up with his own exercises of spirit, they were free from all suspicion of his being pragmatical, or addicted to siding with this or that party, and so began to close more fully with him.  18
  And secondly: Whereas there was an Arminian party in that town, some of whom were witty, and troubled others with disputes about those points, by God’s blessing upon his labors in holding forth positively such Truths as undermined the foundations of Arminianism, those disputes ceased, and in time Arminianism was no more pleaded for. So God disposeth of the hearts of hearers, as that generally they are all open and loving to their Preachers in their first times. Trials are often reserved until afterwards….  19
  For three or four years he lived and preached among them without opposition; they accounted themselves happy (as well they might) in the enjoyment of him, both the town and country thereabout being much bettered and reformed by his labors. After, not being able to bear the ceremonies imposed, his non-conformity occasioned his trouble in the Court of Lincoln, from whence he was advised to appeal to a higher Court. And employing Mr. Leveret (who afterwards was one of the Ruling Elders of the Church of Boston in New England) to deal in that business, and he being a plain man as Jacob was, yet piously subtile to get such a spiritual blessing, so far insinuated himself into one of the Proctors of that high-Court, that Mr. Cotton was treated by them as if he were a conformable man, and so was restored unto Boston. (Likewise by the same means it was that a gentleman of Boston, called Mr. Benner, used occasionally afterwards to bring him in again.) After this time he was blessed with a successful Ministry unto the end of twenty years. In which space he, on the Lord’s-day, in the afternoons, went over the whole body of Divinity in a Catechistical way thrice, and gave the heads of his discourse to those that were young scholars, and others in the town, to answer his questions in public in that great Congregation; and after their answers he opened those heads of Divinity, and finally applied all to the edification of his people, and to such strangers as came to hear him. In the morning on the Lord’s day, he preached over the first six Chapters of the Gospel of John, the whole book of Ecclesiastes, the Prophecy of Zechariah, and many other Scriptures; and when the Lord’s Supper was administered (which was usually every month) he preached upon I. Cor. xi. and II. Chron. xxx. per totum, and some other Scriptures concerning that subject. On his Lecture days, he preached through the whole First and Second Epistles of John, the whole book of Solomon’s Song, the Parables of our Saviour set forth in Matthew’s Gospel to the end of Chapter xvi., comparing them with Mark and Luke. He took much pains in private, and read to sundry young scholars, that were in his house, and some that came out of Germany, and had his house full of auditors. Afterwards, seeing some inconvenience in the people’s flocking to his house, besides his ordinary Lecture on the fifth day of the week, he preached thrice more in public on the week days: on the fourth and fifth days early in the morning, and on the last day at three of the clock in the afternoon. Only these three last Lectures were performed by him but some few years before he had another famous Colleague.  20
  He was frequent in duties of Humiliation and Thanksgiving. Sometimes five or six hours in Prayer and opening of the Word, so undefatigable in the Lord’s work, so willing to spend and to be spent. He answered many letters that were sent far and near, wherein were handled many difficult cases of conscience, and many doubts cleared to great satisfaction.  21
  He was a man exceedingly loved and admired of the best, and reverenced of the worst of his hearers. He was in great favor with Doctor Williams, the then Bishop of Lincoln, who much esteemed him for his learning, and (according to report) when he was Lord keeper of the great Seal went to King James, and speaking of Mr. Cotton’s great learning and worth, the King was willing, notwithstanding his nonconformity, to give way that he should have his liberty without interruption in his ministry; which was the more notable considering how that King’s spirit was carried out against such men. Also the Earl of Dorcester, being at Old-Boston and hearing Mr. Cotton preaching concerning (if memory fail not) Civil Government, he was so affected with the wisdom of his words and spirit, that he did ever after highly account of him and put himself forth what he could in the time of Mr. Cotton’s troubles to deliver him out of them, that his Boston might enjoy him as formerly; but he found spiritual wickednesses in high places too strongly opposite to his desires.  22
  About this time he married his second wife, Mistress Sarah Story, then a widow. He was blessed above many in his marriages, both his wives being pious matrons, grave, sober, faithful, like Euodius and Syntyche, fellow-laborers with him in the Gospel. By the first he had no children; the last God made a fruitful vine unto him. His first-born she brought forth far off upon the sea. He that left Europe childless, arrived a joyful father in America; God who promiseth to be with his servants when they pass through the waters having caused him to embrace a son by the way, in memorial whereof he called his name Seaborn,—”to keep alive,” said he, “in me, and to teach him if he live, a remembrance of sea-mercies from the hand of a gracious God.” He is yet living, and now entered into the work of the Ministry. A son of many prayers and of great expectation.  23
  The time being now come wherein God purposed to superadd, unto what had formerly been, a practical and more notable Testimony against the intermixing of human inventions with Institutions Divine, and to the Gospel Church-worship and Polity in their purity, He in his all-wise providence transplants many of his faithful servants into this vast wilderness, as a place in respect of its remoteness so much the fitter for the fuller inquiry after, and free exercise of all his holy ordinances; and together therewith, for the holding forth a pregnant demonstration of the consistency of Civil Government with a Congregational-way, God giveth Moses the pattern of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Ezekiel seeth the forms of the House in exile. John receiveth his Revelation in Patmos. Jotham upon Mount Gerizim is bold to utter his Apology; and David can more safely expostulate with Saul, when he is gotten to the top of the hill afar off, a great space between them. The Parthians, having learned the art of shooting backwards, made their retreat more terrible than their onset to their adversaries. The event soon showed the wisdom of God herein, the people in a short time clearly understanding that truth in the practice, which by dispute they could not in a long time attain unto. In order hereunto, the God of the spirits of all flesh, stirreth up many of his faithful ones to leave that pleasant land, their estates, their kindred, their fathers’ houses, and sail over the Atlantic Ocean unto this vast Jeshimon. Amongst whom this choice Servant of God, with many others graciously fitted for such a work, are sent over to set up the worship of Christ in this desert. A service, of which the apologetical brethren (may we be permitted to transcribe their apprehension thereof) speak thus: “Last of all we had the recent and later example of the ways and practices (and those improved to a better edition and greater refinement by all the forementioned helps) of those multitudes of Godly men of our own Nation, almost to the number of another Nation, and among them some as holy and judicious Divines as this Kingdom hath bred, whose sincerity in their way hath been testified before all the world, and will be to all generations to come, by the greatest undertaking, but that of our Father Abraham out of his own country and his seed after him. A transplanting themselves many thousand miles distance, and that by sea, into a wilderness, merely to worship God more purely, whither to allure them there could be no other invitement.”…  24
  The cause of his departure was this: The corruption of the times being such as would not endure his officiating any longer in his station without sin; and the envy of his maligners having procured letters missive to convent him before the High-Commission, which a debauched inhabitant of that town (who not long after died of the plague) undertook to deliver to him, according as he had already done to some others; Mr. Cotton having intelligence thereof, and well knowing that nothing but scorns and imprisonment were to be expected, conformably to the advice of many able heads and upright hearts (amongst whom that holy man Mr. Dod of blessed memory had a singular influence) he kept himself close for a time in and about London, as Luther sometime at Wittenberg, and Parœus afterwards at Anvilla. Neither was that season of his recess unprofitable; but as Jerome retired to his den at Bethlehem was an oracle unto many in his time, so addresses during that interim were made unto him privately by divers persons of worth and piety, who received from him satisfaction unto their consciences in cases of greatest concernment. His flight was not like that of Pliny’s Mice, that forsake a house, foreseeing the ruin of it; or of mercenaries, who fly from duty in time of danger; but Providence Divine shutting up the door of service in England, and on the other hand opening it in New England, he was guided both by the word and eye of the Lord. And as David yielded upon the persuasion of his men to absent himself from danger, so he suffered himself to be persuaded by his friends to withdraw from the lust of his Persecutors, for the preservation of so precious a Light in Israel; after the example of Jacob, Moses, the Prophets which Obadiah hid in the caves, Polycarp, Athanasius, yea, and Christ himself: “When they persecute you in one city, fly unto another.”…  25
  Thus this infant and small Commonwealth being now capacitated, both in respect of Civil and Church-estate, to walk with God according to the prescript of his word; it was the good hand of the Lord unto his servants, who had afflicted their souls to seek of him a right way for themselves, their little ones, and their substance, to send unto them (amongst many others) this man of understanding, that might be unto them as eyes in this wilderness. His manner of entrance unto them was with much blessing. For at his first coming he found them not without some troubles about settling the matters of the Church and Commonwealth.  26
  When Mr. Cotton (being requested) preaching before the General Court out of Haggai ii. 4: “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord, be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedek the High-Priest, and be strong all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work; for I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts;” as Menenius Agrippa sometime by his oration healed that then threatening breach between the Fathers and the People of Rome; so through the Lord’s working mightily by this sermon, all obstructions were presently removed and the spirits of all sorts, as one man, were excited unanimously and vigorously in the work of the Lord from that day.  27
  In order whereunto the Court considering, That that people of God, all the members of which Republic were Church-members, were to be governed conformably to the law of God; desired Mr. Cotton to draw an Abstract of the Judicial Laws delivered from God by Moses, so far forth as they were of moral (i.e., of perpetual and universal) equity. Which he did, advising them to persist in their purpose of establishing a Theocracy (i.e., God’s Government) over God’s people. It was an usual thing henceforth for the Magistrate to consult with the Ministers in hard cases, especially in matters of the Lord; yet so as notwithstanding occasional conjunction religious care was had of avoiding confusion of Counsels: Moses and Aaron rejoiced and kissed one another in the Mount of God. After which time, how useful he was to England, to New England, to Magistrates, to Ministers, to People, in public and private, by preaching, counsel, and resolving difficult questions, all know that knew him, and consequently saw the grace of God so evidently manifested in him. In the course of his Ministry in New-Boston, by way of exposition, he went through the Old Testament unto Isa. xxx.; the whole New Testament once through, and the second time unto the middle of Heb. xi.  28
  Upon Lord’s days and Lecture days, he preached through the Acts of the Apostles, Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, the Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, the Second and Third Epistles of John, the Epistle of Titus, both the Epistles of Timothy, the Epistle to the Romans, with other Scriptures; the presence of the Lord being mighty with him, and crowning his labors to the conversion of many souls, and the edification of thousands. Besides these labors forementioned he hath many pieces in print, which being well known, need the less to be here enumerated.  29
  His youth was unstained, whence he was so much the more capable of being an excellent Instrument in the Church in his after-age. Many do that evil whilst they are young, which makes them unable (at least comparatively) to do so much good when they are old. He must have a good report of them that are without, lest he fall into the reproach and snare of the Devil. Satan catcheth at the scandals of such who are in the Ministry, as fittest materials to make snares unto the prejudice both of the Gospel, and of souls. Augustine, to whom God in this respect showed peculiar mercy upon his (ordinarily) unparalleled repentance, telleth us, “A good life is requisite in respect of ourselves, but a good name is requisite in respect of others.” The gratefulness of the most excellent liquor unto the stomach depends in part upon the quality of the vessel. We may be good men, if we have a good conscience; but we are not like to do much good if we have not a good name. Our Religion, our Report, and our Eye must not be played withal….  30
  To live long and to lead a godly life all along without offence, is not a little wonder, and a special favor both to ourselves and others. He was a general scholar, studious to know all things, the want whereof might in one of his profession be denominated ignorance, and piously ignorant of those things the nescience whereof made him more learned. One man is not born to all things. No calling (besides Divine requisites) calleth for more abilities or a larger measure of human knowledge than the Ministry. Deservedly therefore is his praise great in all the Churches, that he not only gave himself thereunto, but exceeded many that had done virtuously therein. The greater part of the Encuclopaideia he excelled in. Those Arts which the University requireth such a proficiency from her graduates in, he both digested and refined by his more accurate knowledge of them. He was a good Hebrician, in Greek a Critic, and could with great facility both speak and write Latin in a pure and elegant Ciceronian style; a good historian, no stranger to the Fathers, Councils, or School-men; abundantly exercised in Commentators of all sorts. His library was great, his reading and learning answerable, himself a living and better library. Though he was a constant student, yet he had all his learning out of his books. He was a man of much communion with God and acquaintance with his own heart, observing the daily passages of his life. He had a deep sight into the Mystery of God’s grace and man’s corruption, and large apprehensions of these things.  31
  It was wont to be said: Bonus textuarius est bonus Theologus: “A good Text-man is a good Divine.” If you look upon him in that notion, he was an expositor (without offence be it spoken) not inferior to any of this more sublimated age. That great motto so much wondered at: Lahore et Constantiâ, “Labor and Constancy,” containing nothing more than the duty which God hath laid upon every man. Learning, saith Jerome, is not to be purchased with silver; it is the companion of sweat and painfulness; of abstemiousness, not of fulness; of continency, not of wantonness. The earth continueth barren or worse, except industry be its midwife. The hen, which brings not forth without uncessant sitting night and day, is an apt emblem of students. The wiser Naturalists who have been serious in improving, and Christians that have been conscientious to improve or redeem their time, for the more effectual obtaining of their end, have distributed the day into certain proportions, setting each apart to his predesigned use. Hence the ancient Grecians appointed the first six hours unto their respective contemplative functions, the rest (say they) call upon us to take care of our health and life….  32
  Melancthon sometime commended this distribution of the day unto a great man: that the four and twenty hours being divided into three parts, eight be spent in study, eight in our bed, the rest as our bodily welfare calls upon us. Others give ten hours in the day unto our studies, if strength permits, approving of more according to this division. His diligence was in the third degree most intense, and most exact. His measure was a glass of four hours, three of which he would sometimes say, was a scholar’s day, and after that rate he spent not a few of his days. He was always an early riser, and in his latter years, not eating any supper, he made up the avocations of that day by retiring that time and the rest of the evening to his study.  33
  With Solon, as he grew old, so was he continually a learner; and with Quintilian he terminated his life and his reading both together. The constant work of his Ministry was great, if not too great for one man. A candle may spend too fast, and the improvement of the light whilst it is yet burning admits of degrees; besides his preaching in season and out of season, he was daily pressed, if not oppressed, with the care and service of the Churches, attendance to personal cases, and manifold other employments inevitably put upon him, both from abroad and at home; whence the time remaining (which is not a little to be lamented) was insufficient to attend doctrinal and especial Polemical Scripts, such as the cause of the truth, occurrents of Providence and his peculiar engagements called for. He was free to give his judgment when desired, but declined arbitration and umpirage in civil differences between man and man as heterogeneous both to his office and spirit. His course, like that of Celestial bodies, was always in motion, but still careful to keep within his proper sphere. Calvin was not more solicitous not to be found idle; no man more vigilant to contain himself within his measure. It was Religion to him both to run and to run lawfully within the white lines and boundaries of his Agonistical race. He was doing, and so doing.  34
  Pliny accounted those happy men, who either did things worthy to be written, or wrote things worthy to be read. Christians account those Teachers blessed and blessings, who teach both by their light and life, in sincerity. Those which best knew his goings out and comings in, cannot but give a large testimony to his piety. A Saint (above many of the Saints) manifestly declared in the consciences of the godly amongst whom he walked, to be the “Epistle of Christ known and read of all men.” In his house he walked with a perfect heart. He was an example to the flock, clothed with love and humility amongst his brethren. One of a thousand in respect of his worth, but (as is reported of Dr. Whitaker) as one of the multitude in respect of his facile and companion-like behavior. Both ability and modesty in such a degree are not ordinarily to be found in the same man. Others with much affection beheld the beauty of his face, whilst himself was as one who knew not that his face shined. He was a Father, Friend, and Brother to his Fellow-Elders, and a shining Light before men.  35
  As the being of man, so the well-being of human affairs depends not a little upon domestic government, whence are the seminaries and first societies of mankind. He well knew a Bishop ought not to be defective in so momentous a duty, incumbent upon all heads of families. He must be one that ruleth well his own house. In conscience whereof, he himself rising betimes in the morning, as soon as he was ready, called his family together (which was also his practice in the evening) to the solemn worship of God; reading and expounding, and occasionally applying the Scripture unto them, always beginning and ending with prayer. In case of sin committed by child or servant, he would call them aside privately (the matter so requiring), lay the Scripture before them, causing them to read that which bears witness against such offence; seldom or never correcting in anger, that the dispensation of godly discipline might not be impured, or become less effectual, through the intermixing of human passion.  36
  He began the Sabbath at evening; therefore then performed family duty after supper, being larger than ordinary in Exposition. After which he catechised his children and servants, and then returned into his study. The morning following, family-worship being ended, he retired into his study until the bell called him away. Upon his return from meeting he returned again into his study (the place of his labor and prayer), unto his private devotion; where, having a small repast carried him up for his dinner, he continued till the tolling of the bell. The public service being over, he withdrew for a space to his prementioned oratory for his sacred addresses unto God, as in the forenoon, then came down, repeated the sermon in the family, prayed, after supper sung a Psalm, and towards bed-time betaking himself again to his study, he closed the day with prayer. Thus he spent the Sabbath continually.  37
  In his study he neither sat down unto, nor arose from his meditations without prayer; whilst his eyes were upon his book, his expectation was from God. He had learned to study because he had learned to pray; an able student, a Gospel student, because unable to study without Jesus Christ. The barrenness of his meditation at some times, yea, though his endeavor were most intense upon a good matter, convinced him whence it was that his heart musing upon the same subject at another time, his tongue became as the pen of a ready writer. As he was not (comparatively) wanting in parts, learning, or industry, so was he more careful not to trust in them, but to fix his dependence totally upon God. Herein not unlike unto Bradford, of whom we read, that he studied, kneeling. Another Synesius, who was wont to divide his life between prayer and his book. Like unto Paul, not sufficient of himself to think any thing as of himself, and professing all his sufficiency to be of God: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word. Men of labor and men of prayer.”  38
  As any weighty cause presented itself either in the Church, Commonwealth, or Family, he would set days apart to seek the face of God in secret; such were the bowels of this spiritual Father, the horsemen and chariots of this Israel. He might say with Paul, “he was in fastings often.” His conversation upon Earth was a trading in Heaven; a demonstration of the praises of him who had called him; a practical and exemplary ministry of grace unto the hearer and beholder; a temperature of that holiness, sweetness, and love, which continually gained upon the hearts of many spectators. The habitual gracious scope of his heart in his whole Ministry is not illegible in that usual subscription of his at the end of all his sermons: Tibi Domine: “Unto thy honor, O Lord!”…  39
  As disputation is well called the sieve of truth, so in his polemical labors he was a seeker thereof in love; his scope was the glory of God, unity of the Churches, and the edification of men, not the ostentation of wit. It was his holy ambition not to seem to be learned, but indeed to be bettered; a sincere seeker of light, not of victory…. Mr. Cotton in his disputations sought not his glory but God’s truth. So able an opponent was rare; so candid an opponent more rare. He that fell into his hands, was likely to fall soft enough ordinarily (except through his own default), not likely to lose any thing besides his error.  40
  A man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine. He had a happy, a quick, comprehensive, and benign understanding as having received the manifestation of the Spirit for the service and profit of others. To discover the mind of God and therewith the sentence of Judgment in matters too hard for inferior Judges, was no small part both of the worth and usefulness of him that was to minister before the Lord. The Queen of Sheba proved Solomon with hard questions. There is scarce any gift that more approximates the receiver unto that which the learned call a divine, than an ability in some measure to send away religious casuists, as the Wise-man did that renowned questionist, which communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions; there was not any thing hid from the king that he told her not. It seemed good unto the Father of lights to this happy Instrument, not only to excel his brethren, but in many respects upon this account to excel himself; a grace so far acknowledged in him, as that all sorts, both the magistrate and private persons, learned and unlearned, exercised with their respective cases of conscience, waited under God in special manner upon his lips for knowledge, and sought the law at his mouth….  41
  So equal a contention between learning and meekness is seldom visible in any one person. Of Moses we thus read: “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth.” The consciences of those that knew him appealed to, he will be acknowledged amongst the meekest of the earth in his days.  42
  I am forced here to make a pause. So conspicuous was this grace in him, that multitudes beheld it, not without making extraordinary mention thereof. ’T is true he had an advantage above many in his natural constitution, and its influence from his education, heightened intellectuals, and moralities, was not inconsiderable; but that which gave the being of meekness, which sanctified and perfected all, was the grace of Christ. He was of an acute apprehension, therefore easily sensible of, but so little in his own spirit, that he was not easily provoked by an injury. Sensibleness of dishonor done to God by sin, or of what the offender had done unto himself by sinning, left such impressions upon him, as that his taking notice of any injury done unto himself was not usually taken notice of. He had well learned that lesson of Gregory: “It is better oftentimes to fly from an injury by silence, than to overcome it by replying.” It was Grynæus’ manner, to revenge wrongs with Christian taciturnity. Melancthon overcomes Luther’s anger and his own grief with mildness, patience and prayer. The nonresistance and softness of the wool breaks the force of the cannon, and so saveth both the bullet and itself. If inferiors expostulated unnecessarily with him, he would patiently hear them and give them a brotherly account, pacifying their minds with a gentle, grave, and respective answer. Take one instance of that kind instead of many, unto one of his hearers then sick of singularities and less able to bear sound doctrine; following him home after his public labors in the assembly, and instead of better encouragement telling him that his ministry was become either dark or flat: He gently answered, “Both, Brother!” without further opening his mouth in his defence; choosing rather to own the imputation, than to expostulate with the imputer.  43
  Disputations are great trials of the spirits of intelligent men. Hooper and Ridley were patient martyrs, yet somewhat impatient disputers. The Synod held at Cambridge, as matters were then circumstanced, was unto this good man an hour of temptation above what ordinarily had befallen him in his pilgrimage; yet such was his eminent behavior throughout, as argued in the conscience of the spectators singular patience, and left him a mirror for the temperament, mildness and government of his spirit….  44
  Though his forbearance was both observable and very imitable in the things that concerned himself, yet he could not forbear them whom he knew to be evil. An experience whereof we saw concerning some Heterodox spirits, who by their specious discourses of Free-grace and subdolous concealings of their principles, so far deceived him into a better opinion of them than there was cause, as that notwithstanding they fathered their errors upon him in general, and abused his doctrine to the countenancing of their denial of inherent grace in particular, yet he was slow to believe these things of them, and slower to bear witness against them. But so soon as the truth herein appeared to him, hear his own words taken out of his letter written to Mr. Davenport: “The truth is,” saith he, “the body of the island is bent to backsliding into error and delusions. The Lord pity and pardon them, and me also, who have been so slow to see their windings, and subtile contrivances and insinuations in all their transactions, whilst they propagated their opinions under my expressions, diverted to their constructions.” Yea, such was his ingenuity and piety, as that his soul was not satisfied without often breaking forth into affectionate bewailing of his infirmity herein in the public assembly, sometimes in his prayer, sometimes in his sermon, and that with tears.  45
  He was a man of an ingenuous and pious candor, rejoicing (as opportunity served) to take notice of, and testify unto the gifts of God in his brethren; thereby drawing the hearts of them to him, and of others to them; both to their encouragement and the edification of many. He did not think himself a loser by putting honor upon his fellow-elders, but was willing they should communicate with him in the esteem and love of the people. He was not only a son of peace, enjoying the continual feast of a good conscience with serenity and tranquillity of affections at home, but also a peace-maker, qualified by the graces forementioned to be a choice instrument in the hand of the Prince of Peace, amongst the churches. Where, if any differences arose, he was ready (being called thereunto) to afford his help for the composing of them, and had a singular faculty and ability therein, by that excellent wisdom and moderation of spirit which God in Christ had given him, whose blessing also did ordinarily crown his endeavors with good success.  46
  He was one, the reality of whose profession gave cause unto many to bless the Author of Christian religion for the kindness of the Lord, showed unto all sorts by him. His portion in the things of this life exempted him from being an object of envy in that behalf. But yet, behold quantum ex quantillo, so much communicated out of so little, we may not here be altogether silent concerning the Grace of God bestowed upon him, whereby to his power, yea, above his power, he was beneficent unto others, but especially to those of the household of faith. The Gospel opened his heart, his lips, and the doors of his house. A bishop then must be given to hospitality, apt to teach; as we have seen him didactical, so you shall find him hospital. He well remembered there is that scattereth, and yet increaseth, and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty: “The liberal soul shall be made fat.” Among others, his fellow-laborers in the ministry were entertained with peculiar contentment. To remind all instances would take up time; by some of many take his spirit in the rest. So it was: A minister (to spare his name) which had gotten into the fellowship of that eminent man, Mr. Arthur Hildersham, and many other godly preachers, being acquainted with their secrets betrayed him into the Prelate’s hands; who coming to Boston and meeting with Mr. Cotton, this Gaius had not the heart to speak to him nor to invite him into his house; which, he said, he never did to his knowledge unto any stranger before—much less to any of his own order. It was the modesty of others, not from any deficiency in him, why the proverb occasioned by that Corinthian was not applicable also unto his dwelling: “There is always somebody at Cydon’s house”: Semper aliquis in Cydonis domo. Some years since there was brought unto Boston a report of the necessity of the poor saints at Sigatæa, a little church (whereof the reverend Mr. White then was, and yet is their faithful pastor) which suffered much extremity by reason of the persecution of their then prevailing adversaries, forcing them from Barmudas into the Desert-continent. The sound of whose distress was no sooner heard of, but you might have heard the sounding of his bowels, with many others, applying themselves unto a speedy collection, and transporting it to them on purpose, for their seasonable relief; when, after the example of the churches in Galatia, Macedonia, Corinth, and Rome, sending their liberalities unto Jerusalem in the days of the famine foretold by Agabus, the same grace abounding in the churches of these parts, they supplied them to the value of about seven hundred pounds, two hundred pounds whereof were gathered in the church of Boston, no man in the contribution exceeding, and but one equalling the bounty of their then teacher. It is here remarkable that this collection arrived there the very day (or thereabouts) after those poor people were brought to a personal division of that little meal then remaining in the barrel, and not seeing, according to man, but that after the eating thereof they must die a lingering death for want of food. And the same day that their pastor preached to them (it being the Lord’s day) out of Psal. xxiii. 1, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want;” at such a time the good hand of the Lord brought this succor to them from afar. To give quickly doubleth, but to give to the saints in a time of need trebleth the gift.  47
  Whilst he was in England, his eminent piety, success of his labors, interest in the hearts of both superiors, inferiors and equals, drew much envy upon him; and his non-conformity added thereunto, delivered him in a great degree unto the will of his adversaries, whose hour, and the power of darkness being come, spared not to shoot at him and grieve him, not giving over until they had bereaved him of much of his livelihood, his liberty, country, and therewith of the sweet society of lovers, friends, and many ways endeared acquaintance, much more precious to him than life itself.  48
  Yet the measure of the afflictions of Christ in this kind, appointed to be suffered by him in the flesh, was not fulfilled. But lo, in the time of his exile, some brethren (we do not say they were not of us, being willing to hope better things) provoked by the censure of authority, though justly and not without tears inflicted upon them, single out him as a chief object of their displeasure, who though above other men declining irregular and unnecessary interesting of himself in the actions of the magistrate, and (while opportunity lasted) endeavoring their healing, yet must now be requited evil for good; and that by some of them, who were formerly companions with him in the tribulations of this Patmos, respecters of him, had taken sweet counsel together and walked in the house of God as friends. Hence is he with pen and tongue blasphemed by them, for whom he formerly entreated, and for whom he both then and afterwards wept and put on sackcloth. Such bufferings of Satan, though sharp, are medicinal at times to the excellent upon earth, who by reason of the body of death indwelling must be kept weak, that they may be made strong….  49
  These are the times that passed over him. We are now approaching to his novissima verba, his last words; which the ancients, out of an opinion that the soul became more divine towards its dissolution, looked at as oraculous. The motions of nature are more intense as they draw near towards the centre. Xenophon personates Cyrus as inspired, whilst he bequeaths his fatherly and farewell counsels to his people, friends and sons. David’s last words have their emphasis because his last. Now these are the last words of David:  50
  Being called to preach at a neighbor church, he took wet in his passage over the ferry, and not many hours after he felt the effect, being seized upon with an extreme illness in the sermon. This providence, when others bewailing the sad event which according to second causes seemed so easily evitable, spake variously of, he comforted himself from, In that he was found so doing. Decet imperatorem stantem cadere: “It is the honor of a commander to fall standing.” It was Austin’s usual wish, that Christ when he came might find him aut precantem, aut prædicantem, “either praying or preaching.” Calvin returns this answer unto his friends, dissuading him from his labor of dictating and writing when his sickness prevailed upon him: “What,” saith he, “would you that the Lord should find me idle?” After a short time he complained of an inflammation of the lungs, and thereupon found himself asthmatical, afterwards scorbutical (which both meeting in a complicated disease ended his days) insomuch that he was forced to give over those comforting drinks which his stomach could not want. If he still used them, the inflammation grew insufferable and threatened a more sharp and speedy death. If he left them, his stomach forthwith ceased to perform its office, leaving him without hope of life.  51
  By these messengers he received the sentence of death, yet in the use of means attending the pleasure of him in whose hands our times are, his labors continued whilst his strength failed. November 18th he took in course for his text the four last verses of the II. Epistle to Timothy: “Salute Prisca and Aquila,” etc. Giving the reason of speaking to so many verses together, because otherwise, he said he should not live to make an end of that Epistle. He chiefly insisted upon those words, “Grace be with you all,” so ending that Epistle and his lectures together. For upon the Lord’s Day following, he preached his last sermon upon John i. 14: “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his Glory, as of the only begotten Son of the Father,) full of grace and Peace.”  52
  Now he gave himself wholly to prepare for his dissolution, making his will and setting his house in order. When he could no more be seen abroad, all sorts, magistrates, ministers, neighbors, and friends far off, and those near at hand, especially his own people, resorted unto him daily as to a public father. When the neighbor ministers visited him (in which duty they were frequent) he thanked them affectionately for their love, exhorting them also, as an elder and a witness of the suffering of Christ, to feed the flock; encouraging them, that when the chief Shepherd shall appear they should receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.  53
  Finding himself to grow weak, according to that of James, he sent for the elders of the Church of Boston to pray over him, which last solemn duty being performed not without much affection and many tears, then (as Polycarp a little before his death said, he had served Christ fourscore and six years, neither had he ever offended him in any thing) so he told them, Through grace he had now served God forty years, it being so long since his conversion; throughout which time he had ever found him faithful to him. Thereupon taking occasion to exhort them unto like effect that Paul sometimes did the elders of Ephesus, a little before they were to see his face no more: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Lord hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Particularly he lamented the love of many, yea, and some of their own congregation growing cold to the ordinances; calling upon them so much the more for their watchfulness in that respect. Which done, he thanked them for their brotherly and loving assistance to him in their holy fellowship, and commended them to the blessing of God.  54
  It remains that we now behold his pious consort with those olive-plants that sate lately about his table, gathered together about the bed of a departing husband and dying father….  55
  What family more happy than his, whilst the father liveth in the children as the children live in their father? That reverend and godly man, Mr. Wilson (who excelleth in love as Mr. Cotton did in light), the faithful pastor of the church, taking his last leave of him, and most ardently praying unto God that He would lift up the light of his countenance upon him and shed his love into his soul, he presently answered him in these words:  56
  “He hath done it already, brother.”  57
  His work now finished with all men, perceiving his departure to be at hand and having nothing to do, only that great work of dying in the Lord, he totally composed and set himself for his dissolution, desiring that he might be permitted to improve the little remnant of his life without any considerable impediment to his private devotions and divine soliloquies between God and his soul. For that end he caused the curtains to be drawn, and a gentleman and brother of the congregation, that was much with him and ministered unto him in his sickness, to promise him that the chamber should be kept private. But a while after, hearing the whispering of some brethren in the room, he called for that gentleman, saying: “Why do you break your word with me?” An expression so circumstanced as that the impression thereof abideth unto this day in the heart of that godly man whose omission gave him occasion so to speak. Not long after (mindful no doubt of that great helpfulness which he received from that forementioned brother throughout his visitation) he left him with this farewell: “The God that made you, and bought you with a great price, redeem your body and soul unto himself.” These words were his [Greek], his “last words,” after which he was not heard to speak, but lying some hours speechless, quietly breathed out his spirit into the hands of him that gave it, December 23, 1652, between eleven and twelve (after the bell had called to the lecture, thus preventing the assembly in going to see what they were but going to hear), being entered into the sixty and eighth year of his age.  58
  So ceased this silver-trumpet, waiting for the sound of the last trump. The eyes of his dead body were soon closed; but before that, the eye of his ever-living soul beholds the face of Jesus Christ.  59
  Upon the 29th day the body was interred within a tomb of brick, a numerous confluence of all degrees, from all parts, as the season would permit, orderly accompanying the corpse, borne upon the shoulders of his fellow-ministers, unto the chambers of death—not only with sighs and tears, and funeral-poems, all in abundance, but with the solemnity of sorrow of heart itself, alas! too manifest in the carriage and countenance of those, whose visage was as the visage of them which are bereaved of the breath of their nostrils. The inhabitants of the land might have said, “This was a great mourning.” Such were New England’s tears for the man of their desires; of whom they (and especially his own congregation) cannot speak without lamentation unto this day.  60
 
 
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