Page images
PDF
EPUB

coheirs with Christ in the glorious inheritance. (Rom. viii. 17; Rev. i. 6, and v. 10, and xx. 6.) They shall judge the world, and angels. (1 Cor. vi. 2, 3.) They shall see God, (Matt. V.,) and be called his children, and all together the spouse and body of Christ. (Eph. V.; Rev. xxi. and xxii., &c.) They shall at Christ's appearing (who is their life) appear with him in glory. (Col. iii. 4.) When he cometh to be admired in his saints, and glorified in all them that believe. (2 Thess. i. 10, &c.) We shall see face to face, and shall see him as he is. (1 John iii. 2.) We shall behold the glory that God hath given him. (John xvii. 24.) The righteous shall have dominion in that morning, and shall shine us stars, (Dan. xii. 3,) yea, as the sun in the firmanent of the Father. (Matt. xiii. 34.) God will put his name upon them, and they shall be pillars in his temple, and go out no more. (Rev. ii. and iii.) Yea, they shall be equal with the angels. (Luke xx. 36.) Thus shall it be done to them whom God delighteth to honour, even to all in their several degrees who faithfully serve and follow Christ.

And yet, Christians, are we afraid of dying? I even hate my own heart for the remnant of its unbelief, which no inore rejoiceth, and no more longeth to be with Christ, while I read and speak of all this to you. I know that clear and full apprehensions are proper to possessors, and therefore not to be here expected, but, Lord, give us such a light of faith as may let in some such tastes of glory, as are needful to us in our hoping state! How can we cheerfully labour, and suffer, and overcome without them? How shall we go through a tempting and troubling world? And entertain with joy the sentence of death, and lay down the body in the dust without the joy of the Lord, which is our strength ? Had our hearts this one promise deeply written in them, we should live in holiness and

die in joy.

I have spoken of my text to myself and you. I have now a copy of it to describe. Let none think that the praise of the dead is a needless or inconvenient work, Christ himself praiseth them, and will praise them whom he justifieth before all the world. “ Well done, good and faithful servant, &c." (Matt. xxv.) “ He will be admired and glorified in them.” (2 Thess, i. 2.) The Ilth of the Hebrews is the praise of many of them, of whom the world was not worthy; (this wicked world which know neither how to value them, or to use them). Christ will have the tears and costly love of a poor penitent woman who anointed him, to be spoken of wherever the gospel is read. The orations of excellent Gregory Nazianzen, (greater than Gregory the Great,) with many such, show us that the ancients thought this a needful work. Many live in times and places where few such men are known, and they have need to know from others that there are, and have been such. Had not I known such, I had wanted one of the greatest arguments for my faith. I should the hardlier have believed that Christ is a Saviour, if I had not known such as he hath begun to save, nor that there is a heaven for souls, if I had not known some disposed and prepared for it, by a holy mind and life. I thank God, I have known many, many, many such, of several ranks, some high, more low. Oh! how many such (though not all of the same degree of holiness) have I lived with, who are gone before me; holy gentlemen, holy ministers of Christ, and holy poor men! I love heaven much the better when I think that they are there. And while I am so near them, and daily wait for my remove, though I here yet breathe and speak in flesh, why may I not think that I am nearlier related to that congregation than to this. The saying is, ' a friend is half our soul.' If so, sure the greater half of mine is gone thither long ago. It is but a little of me that is yet in painful, weary flesh. And now one part of me more is gone, the holy and excellent Henry Ashhurst, and God will have me live so long after him, as to tell you what he was, to his Father's and Redeemer's praise, and to provoke you to imitation.

God saith, “ The memory of the just shall be blessed, while the wicked's name shall rot.Methinks even the natural pride of princes, who'would not be the scorn of future ages, but the praise, should accidentally incline them to do good, and seem good at the least; while the common experience of all the world tells us, that God doth wonderfully show himself the Governor of the world, by ruling fame, to the perpetual honour of good, and the shame and scorn of evil.

Even among heathens, what a name is left of Titus, Trajani, Adrian, and above all the Roman emperors, of Antonine the philosopher, and Alexander Severus. And who nameth a Nero, Domitian, Commodus, Heliogabalus, &c., without reproach? Yea, I have observed that though malefactors hate that prince that punisheth them, and ungodly men hate piety and the persons that condemu and trouble them in their sins, yet such a

testimony for goodness is left in common nature, that even the generality of the profane and vicious world speak well of a wise, just, godly prince, even living, and much more when he is dead. And so they do of other public persons, magistrates and ministers of the gospel; and they will praise goodness in others that will not practise it, especially that which brings sensible good to men's bodies or to the commonwealth.

And therefore great men should hate that counsel which crieth down popularity, as a trick to make them contemn the sense of those below them. For usually it is the best rulers that are most praised by the vulgar, by reason of the self-glorifying light by which true goodness shineth in the world, and by reason of the experience of mankind, that good men will do good to others. How commonly will even drunkards, whoremongers, and unjust men, reproach a magistrate or teacher that is a drunkard, whoremonger, or unjust, and praise the contrary? Much more will the wise and good do it, who indeed are as the soul of kingdoms and other societies, and the chief in propagating fame. It is true that the bellua multorum capitum is liable to disorders, and unfit for secrets or uniting government, and it is hypocrisy to affect popular applause as our felicity or reward, or to be moved by it against God and duty. But many men see more and hear more than one, and single men are apter to be perverted and judge falsely by personal interest and prejudice, than the multitude are. Vox populi is ofttimes vox Dei. I have read Dr. Heylin, vilifying a Bishop Abbot, and saying, the church had no greater a plague than a popular prelate (or to that sense). And I have heard some reproach the late Judge Hale as a popular man; but as my intimacy with the last assured me that he set very little by the opinion of high or low, in comparison of justice and conscience, so, while God keeps up a testimony for goodness in human nature, men will not think ill of a man because his goodness hath constrained even the most to praise him. Nor will it

prove

the please God or profit themselves or others, to make themselves odious by cruelty or wickedness, and then to despise their judgments that dispraise them, and to cry down popularity. “Wo to you when men speak well of you,” meaneth when either you do the evil that the wicked praise, or forsake truth and duty lest they dispraise you; or, as hypocrites, make men's praise your end.

It is not so low a matter as great birth or riches, or any other worldly honour, which I am to remember of our deceased friend.

way to

[merged small][ocr errors]

Multitudes that are now in misery, did once excel him in all these. But yet, as a touch of the history of his life is fit to go before his exemplary character (which is my work), and because it is a great honour and blessing to the seed of the faithful, I shall premise a little first of his parentage, and then of that part of his life which I knew not, but give you on the unquestionable credit of others.

He was the third son of Henry Ashhurst, of Ashhurst, in Lancashire, Esq., by Cassandra, his wife, daughter of John Bradshaw, of Bradshaw, of the same county, Esq. His father was a gentleman of great wisdom and piety, and zealous for the true reformed religion in a country where papists much abounded. And when king James (the more to win them) was prevailed with to sign the book for dancing and other such sports on the Lord's-day, he being then a justice of peace, (as his ancestors had been,) and the papists, thus emboldened, sent a piper not far from the chapel to draw the people from the public worship, he sent him to the house of correction; and being for this misrepresented to the king and council, he was put to justify the legality of what he did, at the assizes; which he so well performed, that the judge was forced to acquit him; (though he was much contrary to him ;) and an occasion being offered to put the oath of allegiance on his prosecutors, their refusal showed them papists, as was before suspected.

God blessed this gentleman in his three sons. The eldest was - man eminent for his wisdom, integrity, and courage, a member of the long parliament called 1640; though all such by interested, partial men are accounted and called what their prejudice and enmity doth suggest, and though, with many more such, he was by the conquering army abused and cast out. The second son was a colonel ; and Henry, the youngest, about fifteen years old, was sent to London, and bound apprentice to a master somewhat severe. And whereas such severity tempteth many proud and graceless young men to be impatient and weary of their masters, and to break out to seek forbidden pleasures, at play-houses, taverns, and perhaps with harlots, and to rob their masters to maintain these lusts, till they are hardened in sin, and break their own hopes, and their parents' hearts, (alas ! how many such wretches hath this city!) God's grace in our friend did teach him to make a clean contrary use of it. This affection did help to drive him to hear good preachers for his comfort, and to betake himself to God in prayer, and to search the Scripture for direction, in which way he found the teaching and blessing of his heavenly Master, which helped him to bear all harshness and hardness in his place.

And having no place of retirement but a cold hole in the cellar, in the coldest nights, he spent much time in prayer and ineditation; and his.good father'allowing him a yearly pension for his expenses, he spent it mostly in furnishing his poor closet with good books-not play-books or romances and idle tales, but such as taught him how to please God and to live

for ever.

From his childhood he had a humble meekness, and sweetness of temper, which made his life easy to himself and others, and made him so acceptable to godly ininisters and people, that their acquaintance and converse and love became to him a great confirmation and help to his growth in grace, especially good Mr. Simeon Ash, a man of his plainness, and of the primitive strain of Christianity.

His master, I need not tell how, so wasted his estate, that he shut up shop when Mr. Ashhurst was gone from him, whose great fidelity had helped to keep him up, and he took care of his indigent children afterwards.

His portion was but five hundred pounds and a small annuity, and one Mr. Hyet, a minister, lent him three hundred pounds more; with which stock he set up in partnership with one Mr. Row, a draper, and so continued three years. Mr. Row took up his stock, and was a major in the Earl of Essex's armyg and left Mr. Ashhurst to the whole trade. Narrowly escaping the misery of an unsuitable match, he married, on Mr. Ash's motion, the daughter of one Mr. Risby, who is now his sorrowful widow, having with her about fifteen hundred pounds. He began his trade at the beginning of the wars, when others left off theirs. He dedicated yearly a good part of his gain to God, in works of charity; and it increased greatly : and as his trustiness made men desirous to deal with him, so God strangely kept those men that he trusted from breaking, when the most noted tradesmen in the same towns broke, to the undoing of those that trusted them. And though his trading was great about thirty years, he managed it with ease and calmness of mind, and was not by it diverted from duties of religion. He usually was at one word in his trading

His body being healthful, he rose about four o'clock, or five, and in secret usually spent about two hours in reading, medita

« PreviousContinue »