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Councils, and the more primitive learning. And this advice was occasioned by the indiscreet inferences made by very many Preachers out of Mr. Calvin's doctrine concerning Predestination, Universal Redemption, the Irresistibility of God's Grace, and of some other knotty points depending upon these; points which many think were not, but by interpreters forced to be, Mr. Calvin's meaning; of the truth or falsehood of which I pretend not to have an ability to judge; my meaning in this relation, being only to acquaint the Reader with the occasion of the King's Letter.
It may be observed, that the various accidents of this year did afford our Proctor large and laudable matter to dilate and discourse upon: and that though his office seemed, according to statute and custom, to require him to do so at his leaving it; yet he chose rather to pass them over with some very short observations, and present the governors, and his other hearers, with rules to keep up discipline and order in the University; which at that time was, either by defective Statutes, or want of the due execution of those that were good, grown to be extremely irregular. And in this year also, the magisterial part of the Proctor required more diligence, and was more difficult to be managed than formerly, by reason of a multiplicity of new Statutes, which begot much confusion; some of which Statutes were then and not till then, and others suddenly after, put into a useful execution. And though these Statutes were not then made so perfectly useful as they were designed, till Archbishop Laud's time—who assisted in the forming and promoting them ;-yet our present Proctor made them as effectual as discretion and diligence could do: of which one example may seem worthy the noting; namely, that if in his night-walk he met with irregular Scholars absent from their Colleges at University hours, or disordered by drink, or in scandalous company, he did not use his power of punishing to an extremity; but did usually take their names, and a promise to appear before him unsent for next morning; and when they did, convinced them, with such obligingness, and reason added to it, that they parted from him with such resolutions, as the man after God's own heart was possessed with, when he said to God, “There is mercy with thee, and therefore thou shalt be feared.' And by this and a like behaviour to all men, he was so happy as to lay down this dangerous employment, as but very few, if any, have done, even without an enemy.
After his Proctor's speech was ended, and he retired with a friend into a convenient privacy, he looked upon his friend with a more than common cheerfulness, and spake to him to this purpose: I look back upon my late employment with some content to myself, and a great thankfulness to Almighty God, that he hath made me of a temper not apt to provoke the meanest of mankind, but rather to pass by infirmities, if noted; and in this employment I have had—God knows—many occasions to do both. And when I consider, how many of a contrary temper are by sudden and small occasions transported and hurried by anger to commit such errors, as they in that passion could not foresee, and will in their more calm and deliberate thoughts upbraid, and require repentance: and consider, that though repentance secures us from the punishment of any sin, yet how much more comfortable it is to be innocent than need pardon: and consider, that errors against men, though pardoned both by God and them, do yet leave such anxious and upbraiding impressions in the memory, as abates of the offender's content:+when I consider all this, and that God hath of his goodness given me a temper that hath prevented me from running into such enormities, I remember my temper with joy and thankfulness. And though I cannot say with David—I wish I could,—that therefore “his praise shall always be in my mouth”; yet I hope, that by his grace, and that grace seconded by my endeavours, it shall never be blotted out of my memory; and I now beseech Almighty God that it never may.'
And here I must look back, and mention one passage more in his Proctorship, which is, that Gilbert Sheldon,
Psal. xxxiv, 1
1 Psal. cxxx. 4:
the late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, was this year sent to Trinity College in that University; and not long after his entrance there, a letter was sent after him from his godfather—the father of our Proctor—to let his son know it, and commend his godson to his acquaintance, and to a more than common care of his behaviour; which proved a pleasing injunction to our Proctor, who was so gladly obedient to his father's desire, that he some few days after sent his servitor to intreat Mr. Sheldon to his chamber next morning. But it seems Mr. Sheldon having -like a young man as he was-run into some such irregularity as made him conscious he had transgressed his statutes, did therefore apprehend the Proctor's invitation as an introduction to punishment; the fear of which made his bed restless that night: but, at their meeting the next morning, that fear vanished immediately by the Proctor's cheerful countenance, and the freedom of their discourse of friends. And let me tell my Reader, that this first meeting proved the beginning of as spiritual a friendship as human nature is capable of; of a friendship free from all self ends: and it continued to be so, till death forced a separation of it on earth; but 'tis now reunited in Heaven.
And now, having given this account of his behaviour, and the considerable accidents in his Proctorship, I proceed to tell my Reader, that, this busy employment being ended, he preached his sermon for his Degree of Bachelor in Divinity in as elegant Latin, and as remarkable for the method and matter, as hath been preached in that University since that day. And having well performed his other exercises for that Degree, he took it the nine and twentieth of May following, having been ordained Deacon and Priest in the year 1611, by John King, then Bishop of London, who had not long before been Dean of Christ Church, and then knew him so well, that he owned it at his Ordination and became his more affectionate friend. And in this year, being then about the twenty-ninth of his age, he took from the University a license to preach.
In the year 1618, he was by Sir Nicholas Sanderson, Lord Viscount Castleton, presented to the Rectory of Wibberton, not far from Boston, in the County of Lincoln, a living of very good value ; but it lay in so low and wet a part of that country as was inconsistent with his health. And health being-next to a good conscience—the greatest of God's blessings in this life, and requiring therefore of every man a care and diligence to preserve it, he, apprehending a danger of losing it, if he continued at Wibberton a second Winter, did therefore resign it back into the hands of his worthy kinsman and patron, about one year after his donation of it to him.
And about this time of his resignation he was presented to the Rectory of Boothby Pannell, in the same County of Lincoln ; a town which has been made famous, and must continue to be famous, because Dr. Sanderson, the humble and learned Dr. Sanderson, was more than forty years Parson of Boothby Pannell, and from thence dated all or most of his matchless writings.
To this living—which was of less value, but a purer air than Wibberton—he was presented by Thomas Harrington, of the same County, and Parish, Esq., who was a gentleman of a very ancient family, and of great use and esteem in his country during his whole life. And in this Boothby Pannell the meek and charitable Dr. Sanderson and his patron lived with an endearing, mutual, and comfortable friendship, till the death of the last put a period
About the time that he was made Parson of Boothby Pannell, he resigned his Fellowship of Lincoln College unto the then Rector and Fellows; and his resignation is recorded in these words :
Ego Robertus Sanderson perpetuus, etc. I Robert Sanderson, Fellow of the College of St. Mary's and All-Saints, commonly called Lincoln College, in the University of Oxford, do freely and willingly resign into the hands of the Rector and Fellows, all the right and title that I have in the said College, wishing to them and their successors all peace, and piety, and happiness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
ROBERT SANDERSON. May 6, 1619.
And not long after this resignation, he was by the then Bishop of York, or the King sede vacante, made Prebend of the Collegiate Church of Southwell in that Diocese ; and shortly after of Lincoln by the Bishop of that See.
And being now resolved to set down his rest in a quiet privacy at Boothby Pannell, and looking back with some sadness upon his removal from his general and cheerful acquaintance left in Oxford, and the peculiar pleasures of a University life; he could not but think the want of society would render this of a country Parson still more uncomfortable, by reason of that want of conversation ; and therefore he did put on some faint purposes to marry. For he had considered, that though marriage be cumbered with more worldly care than a single life; yet a complying and prudent wife changes those very cares into so mutual joys, as makes them become like the sufferings of St. Paul, which he would not have wanted because they occasioned his rejoicing in them. And he, having well considered this, and observed the secret unutterable joys that children beget in parents, and the mutual pleasures and contented trouble of their daily care and constant endeavours to bring up those little images of themselves, so as to make them as happy as all those cares and endeavours can make them : he, having considered all this, the hopes of such happiness turned his faint purpose into a positive resolution to marry. And he was so happy as to obtain Anne, the daughter of Henry Nelson, Bachelor in Divinity then Rector of Haugham, in the County of Lincoln, a man of noted worth and learning. And the Giver of all good things was so good to him, as to give him such a wife as was suitable to his own desires ; a wife, that made his life happy by being always content when he was cheerful; that was always cheerful when he was content;
1 Colos. i. 24.