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perfect happiness and that eternal life which God, that “ cannot lie,” hath promised ? Nature, I know, is fond of life, and apt to be still lingering after a long continuance here. And yet a long life, with the usual burthens and infirmities of it, is seldom desirable. It is but the same thing over again, or worse; so many more nights and days, summers and winters, a repetition of the same pleasures, but with less pleasure and relish every day; a return of the same or greater pain and trouble, but with less strength and patience to bear them.
These and the like considerations I use to entertain myself withal, not only with contentment but comfort, though with great inequality of tem. per at several times, and with much mixture of human frailties, which will always stick to us while we are in this world. However, by these kinds of thoughts death will become more fami. liar to us, and we shall be able by degrees to bring our minds close to it without starting at it. The greatest tenderness I find in myself is with regard to some near relations, especially the dear and constant companion of my life, which, I must confess, doth very sensibly touch me. But then I consider, and so I hope will they also, that this separation will be but a very little while; and that though I shall leave them in a bad world, yet under the care and protection of a good God, who can be more and better to them than all other relations, and will certainly be so to those that love him and hope in his mercy.
I shall not advise you what to do, and what use to make of this time of your visitation. I
have reason to believe, that you have been careful in the time of your health to prepare for the evil day, and have been conversant in those books which give the best directions to this purpose; and have not, as too many do, put off the great work of your life to the end of it. And then you have nothing to do but, as well as you can under your present weakness and pains, to renew your repentance for all the errors and miscarriages of your life, and earnestly to beg God's pardon and forgiveness of them for his sake, who is the propitiation for our sins: to comfort yourself in the goodness and promises of God, and the hope of that happiness you are ready to enter into ; and, in the meantime, to exercise faith and patience for a little while. And be of good courage, since you see land. The storm which you are in will soon be over; and then it will be as if it had never been, or rather the remembrance of it will be pleasant.
I do not use to write such long letters; but I do heartily compassionate your case, and I should be glad if I could suggest any thing that might help to mitigate your trouble, and make that sharp and rugged way, through which you are to pass into a better world, a little more smooth and easy. I pray God to fit us both for that great change, which we must once undergo; and, if we be but in any good measure fit for it, sooner or later makes no great difference. I commend you to the “ Father of all mercies, and the God of all consolation,” beseeching him to increase your faith and patience, and to stand by you in your last and great conflict : that, “ when you walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, you may fear no evil;” and when your heart fails, and your strength fails, you may find him “ the strength of your heart and your portion for ever.” : Farewell, my good friend; and whilst we are here let us pray for one another, that we may have a joyful meeting in another world. I rest, sir, your truly affectionate friend and servant,
ARCHBISHOP TILLOTSON TO BISHOP BURNET. MY LORD,
Lambeth House, Oct. 23, 1694. I HAVE with great pleasure and satisfaction read over the great volume * you sent me, and am astonished to see so vast a work begun and finished in so short a time. In the article of the Trinity you have said all that, I think, can be said upon so obscure and difficult an argument. The Socinians have just now published an answer to us all; but I have not had a sight of it. The negative articles against the church of Rome you have very fully explained, and with great learning and judgment. Concerning these you will meet with no opposition among ourselves. The greatest danger was to be apprehended from the points in difference between the Calvinists and Remonstrants, in which you have shown not only great skill and moderation, but great prudence in contenting yourself to represent both sides impartially, without any positive declaration of your
* The Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England.
own judgment. The account given of Athanasius's creed seems to me nowise satisfactory. I wish we were well rid of it. I pray God long to preserve your lordship to do more such services to the church. I am, my lord, yours most affec
JOHN DRYDEN TO HIS COUSIN. To the fair hands of Madam Honor Dryden these crave
Camb. May 23, 1655. If you have received the lines I sent by the reverend Levite, I doubt not but they have exceedingly wrought upon you; for being so long in a clergyman's pocket, assuredly they have acquired more sanctity than their author meant them. Alas, madam ! for aught I know, they may become a sernion ere they could arrive at you ; and believe it, having you for the text, it could scarcely prove bad, if it light upon one that could handle it indifferently. But I am so miserable a preacher, that though I have so sweet and copious a subject, I still fall short in my expressions ; and instead of an use of thanksgiving, I am always making one of comfort, that I may one day again have the happiness to kiss your fair hand; but that is a message I would not so willingly do by letter, as by word of mouth.
This is a point, I must confess, I could willingly dwell longer on; and in this case whatever I say you may confidently take for gospel. But I must hasten. And indeed, madam (beloved I had almost said), he had need hasten who treats of you; for to speak fully to every part of your excellencies, requires a longer hour than most parsons have allotted them. But, in a word, yourself hath been the best expositor upon the text of your own worth, in that admirable comment you wrote upon it; I mean your incomparable letter. By all that's good (and you, madam, are a great part of my oath), it hath put me so far besides myself, that I have scarce patience to write prose, and my pen is stealing into verse every time I kiss your letter. I am sure the poor paper smarts for my idolatry; which, by wearing it continually near my breast, will at last be burnt and martyred in those flames of adoration which it hath kindled in me. But I forget, madam, what rarities your letter came fraught with, besides words. You are such a deity that commands worship by providing the sacrifice. You are pleased, madam, to force me to write, by sending me materials, and compel me to my greatest happiness. Yet, though I highly value your magnificent present, pardon me, if I must tell the world they are imperfect emblems of your beauty; for the white and red of wax and paper are but shadows of the vermilion and snow in your lips and forehead; and the silver of the inkhorn, if it presume to vie whiteness with your purer skin, must confess itself blacker than the liquor it contains. What do I then more than retrieve your own gifts, and present you with that paper, adulterated with blots, which you gave spotless ?