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THE NOBLE CHRISTIAN MATRON.
FROM A FUNERAL SERMON, ON LADY CARBERY.
If we examine how she demeaned herself towards God, there also you will find her not of a common, but of an exemplary, piety. She was a great reader of Scripture, confining herself to great portions every day; which she read, not to the purposes of vanity and impertinent curiosity, not to seem knowing or to become talking, not to expound and rule, but to teach her all her duty, to instruct her in the knowledge and love of God and of her neighbours, to make her more humble, and to teach her to despise the world and all its gilded vanities; and that she might entertain passions wholly in design and order to heaven.
In all her religion, and in all her actions of relation towards God, she had a singular evenness and un'troubled passage; sliding towards her ocean of God ‘and of infinity, with a certain and silent motion. So have I seen a river, deep and smooth, passing with a still foot and a sober face, and paying to the great exchequer of the sea, the prince of all the watery bodies, a tribute large and full; and hard by it a little brook, skipping and making a noise upon its unequal and neighbour bottom; and after all its talking and bragged motion, it' paid to its common audit no more than the revenues of a little cloud or a contemptible vessel : so have I sometimes compared the issues of her religion to the solemnities and famed outsides of another's piety. It dwelt upon her spirit, and was incorporated with the periodical work of every day: she did not believe that religion was intended to minister to fame and reputation; but, to pardon of sins, to the pleasure of God, and the salvation of souls.
The other appendage of her religion, which also was a great ornament to all the parts of her life, was a rare modesty and humility of spirit, a confident [resolute] despising and undervaluing of herself; for though she had the greatest judgment and the greatest experience of things and persons that I ever yet knew in a person of her youth, and sex, and circumstances, yet, as if she knew nothing of it, she had the meanest opinion of herself; and, like a fair taper, when she shined to all the room, yet round about her own station she had cast a shadow and a cloud, and she shined to every body but herself. But the perfection of her prudence and excellent parts could not be hid; and all her humility and arts of concealment made the virtues more amiable and illustrious.
But I must be forced to use summaries and arts of abbreviature, in the enumerating those things in which this rare personage was dear to God, and to all her relatives. If we consider her person, she was in the flower of her age; of a temperate, plain, and natural diet, without curiosity or an intemperate palate: she spent less time in dressing than many servants; her recreations were little and seldom ; her prayers often, her reading much. She was of a most noble and
charitable soul; a great lover of honourable actions, and as great a despiser of base things; especially loving to oblige others, and very unwilling to be in arrear to any upon the stock of courtesies and liberality: so free in all acts of favour, that she would not stay to hear herself thanked, as being unwilling that what good went from her to a needful or an obliged person
should ever return to her again. She was an excellent friend, and singularly dear to very many, especially to the best and most discerning persons, to all that conversed with her, and could understand her great worth and sweetness. She was of an honourable, a nice, and tender reputation; and of the pleasures of this world, which were laid before her in heaps, she took a very small and inconsiderable share, as not loving to glut herself with vanity, or to take her portion of good things here below. If we look on her as a wife, she was chaste and loving, discreet and humble. If we remember her as a mother, she was kind and severe, careful and prudent, very tender, and not at all fond; a greater lover of her children's souls than of their bodies, and one that would value them more by the strict rules of honour and proper worth than by their relation to herself. Her servants found her prudent and fit to govern, and yet openhanded and apt to reward; a just exacter of their duty, and a great rewarder of their diligence.
THE FAITHFUL MINISTER OF CHRIST. Christian proceeded on his journey, till he came at the house of the Interpreter, where he knocked over and over: at last, one came to the door, and asked who was there.
Chr. “Sir, here is a traveller, who was bid by an acquaintance of the good man of this house to call here for my profit: I would therefore speak with the master of the house.” So he called for the master of the house; who, after a little time, came to Christian, and asked him what he would have.
Chr. “Sir,” said Christian, “ I am a man that am come from the city of Destruction, and am going to the Mount Zion: and I was told, by the man that stands at the gate, at the head of this way, that if I called here, you would show me excellent things, such as would be a help to me in my journey."
Inter. Then said the Interpreter, “ Come in : I will show thee that which will be profitable to thee.” So he commanded' his man to light the candle, and bid Christian follow him: so he had him into a private room, and bid his man open the door; which, when he had done, Christian saw the picture of a very grave person hanging against the wall: and this was the fashion of it :-It had eyes lifted up to heaven; the best of books in his hand ; the law of truth was written upon his lips; the world was behind his back : it stood as if it pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hang over its head.
Chr.--Then said Christian,“ What meaneth this?"
Inter.—“The man whose picture this is, is one of a thousand. Whereas thou seest him with his eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, and the law of truth written on his lips: it is to show thee, that his work is to know and unfold dark things to sinners ; even as also thou seest him stand as if he pleaded with men. And whereas thou seest the world as cast behind him, and that a crown hangs over his head; that is to show thee, that, slighting and despising the things that are present, for the love that he hath for his Master's service, he is sure, in the world that comes next, to have glory for his reward. - Now," said the Interpreter, “I have showed thee this picture first; because the man, whose picture this is, is the only man whom the Lord of the place, whither thou art going, hath authorised to be thy guide in all difficult places thou mayest meet with in the way: wherefore take good heed to what I have showed thee; and bear well in mind what thou hast seen ; lest, in thy journey, thou meet with some that pretend to lead thee right, but their way goes down to death."