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art now become my deliverer; and as long as I live I will hold up my hands in this manner, and magnify thy mercies, who didst not give me over as a prey to mine enemies the net is broken, and they are taken in it. Oh! blessed are they that put their trust in thee! and no prosperity shall make me forget those days of sorrow, or to perform those vows that I have made to thee in the days of my affliction; for with such sacrifices, thou, O God, art well pleased; and I will pay them.'
Thus did the joy and gratitude of this good man's heart break forth; and it is observable, that as the invitation to this slander was his meek behaviour and dove-like simplicity, for which he was remarkable; so his Christian charity ought to be imitated. For though the spirit of revenge is so pleasing to mankind, that it is never conquered but by a supernatural grace, revenge being indeed so deeply rooted in human nature, that, to prevent the excesses of it, for men would not know moderation,Almighty God allows not any degree of it to any man, but says vengeance is mine': and though this be said positively by God himself, yet this revenge is so pleasing, that man is hardly persuaded to submit the manage of it to the time, and justice, and wisdom of his Creator, but would hasten to be his own executioner of it. And yet nevertheless, if any man ever did wholly decline, and leave this pleasing passion to the time and measure of God alone, it was this Richard Hooker, of whom I write for when his slanderers were to suffer, he laboured to procure their pardon; and when that was denied him, his reply was, That however he would fast and pray that God would give them repentance, and patience to undergo their punishment.' And his prayers were so far returned into his own bosom, that the first was granted, if we may believe a penitent behaviour, and an open confession. And 'tis observable, that after this time he would often say to Dr. Saravia, 'Oh! with what quietness did I enjoy my soul, after I was free from the fears of my slander! And how much more after a conflict and victory over my desires of revenge!'
About the year 1600, and of his age forty-six, he fell into a long and sharp sickness, occasioned by a cold taken in his passage by water betwixt London and Gravesend, from the malignity of which he was never recovered; for after that time, till his death, he was not free from thoughtful days and restless nights: but a submission to His will that makes the sick man's bed easy, by giving rest to his soul, made his very languishment comfortable: and yet all this time he was solicitous in his study, and said often to Dr. Saravia, --who saw him daily, and was the chief comfort of his life,-"That he did not beg a long life of God for any other reason, but to live to finish his three remaining books of Polity; and then, "Lord, let thy servant depart in peace"; which was his usual expression. And God heard his prayers, though he denied the Church the benefit of them, as completed by himself; and 'tis thought he hastened his own death, by hastening to give life to his books. But this is certain, that the nearer he was to his death, the more he grew in humility, in holy thoughts, and resolutions.
About a month before his death, this good man, that never knew, or at least never considered, the pleasures of the palate, became first to lose his appetite, and then to have an averseness to all food, insomuch that he seemed to live some intermitted weeks by the smell of meat only, and yet still studied and writ. And now his guardian angel seemed to foretell him that the day of his dissolution drew near; for which his vigorous soul appeared to thirst.
In this time of his sickness and not many days before his death, his house was robbed; of which he having notice, his question was, 'Are my books and written papers safe? And being answered that they were; his reply was, 'Then it matters not; for no other loss can trouble me.'
About one day before his death, Dr. Saravia, who knew the very secrets of his soul,-for they were supposed to be confessors to each other, came to him, and, after a conference of the benefit, the necessity, and safety of the Church's absolution, it was resolved the Doctor should give him both that and the Sacrament the following day.
To which end the Doctor came, and, after a short retirement and privacy, they two returned to the company; and then the Doctor gave him and some of those friends which were with him, the blessed Sacrament of the body and blood of our Jesus. Which being performed, the Doctor thought he saw a reverend gaiety and joy in his face; but it lasted not long; for his bodily infirmities did return suddenly, and became more visible, insomuch that the Doctor apprehended death ready to seize him; yet, after some amendment, left him at night, with a promise to return early the day following; which he did, and then found him better in appearance, deep in contemplation, and not inclinable to discourse; which gave the Doctor occasion to require his present thoughts. To which he replied, That he was meditating the number and nature of Angels, and their blessed obedience and order, without which, peace could not be in Heaven: and Oh! that it might be so on Earth!' After which words, he said, ‘I have lived to see this world is made up of perturbations; and I have been long preparing to leave it, and gathering comfort for the dreadful hour of making my account with God, which I now apprehend to be near and though I have by his grace loved him in my youth, and feared him in mine age, and laboured to have a conscience void of offence to him, and to all men; yet if thou, O Lord! be extreme to mark what I have done amiss, who can abide it? And therefore, where I have failed, Lord, shew mercy to me; for I plead not my righteousness, but the forgiveness of my unrighteousness, for His merits, who died to purchase pardon for penitent sinners. And since I owe thee a death, Lord, let it not be terrible, and then take thine own time: I submit to it: let not mine, O Lord! but let thy will be done.' With which expression he fell into a dangerous slumber; dangerous as to his recovery, yet recover he did, but it was to speak only these few words: Good Doctor, God hath heard my daily petitions, for I am at peace with all men, and he is at peace with me; and from that blessed assurance I feel that inward joy, which this world can neither give nor
take from me: my conscience beareth me this witness, and this witness makes the thoughts of death joyful. I could wish to live to do the Church more service; but cannot hope it, for my days are past as a shadow that returns not.' More he would have spoken, but his spirits failed him; and, after a short conflict betwixt Nature and Death, a quiet sigh put a period to his last breath, and so he fell asleep. And now he seems to rest like Lazarus in Abraham's bosom. Let me here draw his curtain, till with the most glorious company of the Patriarchs and Apostles, the most Noble Army of Martyrs and Confessors, this most learned, most humble, holy man shall also awake to receive an eternal tranquillity, and with it a greater degree of glory than common Christians shall be made partakers of.
In the mean time, Bless, O Lord! Lord, bless his brethren, the Clergy of this nation, with effectual endeavours to attain, if not to his great learning, yet to his remarkable meekness, his godly simplicity, and his Christian moderation; for these will bring peace at the last. And, Lord, let his most excellent writings be blest with what he designed, when he undertook them which was, glory to thee, O God! on high, peace in thy Church, and goodwill to mankind. Amen, Amen.
This following Epitaph was long since presented to the world, in memory of Mr. HOOKER, by SIR WILLIAM COOPER, who also built him a fair Monument in Bourne Church, and acknowledges him to have been his spiritual father.
Though nothing can be spoke worthy his fame,
Or that perhaps this only glorious one
And God in me this lesson did inspire,
To bid this humble man, Friend, sit up higher.'