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communion of the Church of England, and declared that he believed it was the best-constituted Church this day in the world; for that its doctrine, government, and way of worship were in the main the same with those of the primitive Church. He then put up some prayers for its peace and prosperity, and declaring again that he was resolved to die in its communion, he desired absolution, and received it.
The evening before he departed, his son-in-law, Mr. Archdeacon Stephens, arrived from a great journey, upon the news he received of his dangerous illness. The good bishop embraced him with great satisfaction, when he raised himself up in his bed to give him his blessing. When Mr. Stephens expressed his great sorrow and concern to find him in so great misery by the complaint he had ; he told him “he had endured a great deal, that he did not think that he had so much strength of nature, but that it was now near being spent; and that in God's good time, he should be delivered.” And when Mr. Stephens, in order to support him, urged that his reward would be great in Heaven, the good Bishop replied, My trust is in God, through the merits of Christ:" and being prevented from enlarging by the exquisiteness of his pains, he desired Mfr. Stephens to retire, and refresh himself after his journey. Some little time after this, he told those that were about him, that he perceived that he had some symptoms of the near approach of death ; and ordered them to call the doctor to him : and when he came, he told him he
thought himself a dying; to which the doctor answered, that he could not say that he would live many hours. Upon this, he sent for his wife and children, and the rest of his family, and desired them to pray with him, and for him. And when prayers were over, he took his solemn leave of every one in particular; giving each of them some serious exhortation and advice. And this being done, he gave them his benediction, and dismissed them.
· He was, moreover, very careful, that none might do themselves an injury by their zealous attendance upon him, while they were not capable of doing him any farther good. Wherefore, he charged his wife, as he did also his son-in-law, Mr. Stephens, to retire to their rest; and when the doctor offered to continue with him in his last hours, after their dismission, he told him “ he would not have him impair his health, by sitting up with him, since he could not be farther serviceable to him any other way, than by praying for him; and that he might do in his chamber.” Nevertheless, he desired his son and daughter, and his chaplain, with some others of the family, who were not in so much danger of being hurt by it, to stay with him till he died; that they might assist him with their prayers, especially in his last agonies, when he should not be able to pray for himself.
He thought now, and, indeed, so did all about him, that he could not last above an hour or two longer, and that by the great weakness he was reduced to when his last sickness left him, and the pain he had endured
since the beginning of his late distemper, the whole fabric in a person of his age, was now so shattered, that the separation of the soul from the body, could not be tedious or uneasy. But, contrary to all expectation, he held out many hours under his last agonies.
He had his understanding and memory to the very last, and that in as great strength and vigour as ever he had them, in the remembrance of those who perfectly knew him. As an instance of which, the reader may take this remarkable passage. The night but one before he died, he sent for his son, Mr. Robert Bull, and after having given him his leave and order to publish his sermons, which are now printed, he commanded him to stike out the Preface of his Visitation Sermon, which he said was too juyenile, and to make two or three alterations in another of his sermons, which alterations were taken from his mouth, and since performed. But what was surprising in this matter, was, that he had delivered these sermons to his son, at least six years before, and they were never so much as seen by his lordship afterward. During the time of his last conflict, he scarce troubled himself, or those that waited upon him, with taking any thing. But he passed it all entirely in acts of piety and devotion. Sometimes he joined with those that were present in the prayers of the office of the visitation of the sick: the latter part whereof was by his direction frequently repeated in this interval, but the greater part of it he spent in pious meditations,
and private ejaculations ; upon what subjects can be no farther guessed at, than by observing his eyes and hands frequently lifted up towards heaven, and sometimes tears and smiles, interchangeably succeeding each other in his countenance, one might think that as the former were the attendants of his repentance and confessions, so the latter were the result of that joy and comfort which he felt in his mind, from the sense of the pardon of his sins, and of the peace
and favour of a reconciled God; which might also receive no small addition at this juncture from the near prospect he had of his deliverance from this mortal and painful life, and of his entrance into a state of everlasting happiness.
When he found that he continued thus to live several hours longer than he expected, he sent again for his wife and children to his bed-side, to take his leave once more of them, and the rest of the family that were up; and he was even fuller now in his exhortations to them than before, and they were very well suited, and particularly applied to the circumstances and conditions of the several persons to whom they were given. He recommended his wife and child to the divine providence and protection, but in so moving and affectionate a manner as is difficult to express; and he thanked all his servants for the pains they had taken with him in his sickness. And as for the rest, his exhortations ran chiefly upon the great importance of religion, the vanity of the world, the deceitful nature of riches and honours,
and what miserable comforters they would prove at the last, the inefficacy, or at least, the great hazard and uncomfortable state of a death-bed repentance, and the absolute necessity of a holy life, in order to a happy death ; a life spent in the service of God, in doing good in the world, especially works of mercy and charity. These are the subjects which he endeavoured to impress upon the minds of those he left behind him, and then once more he gave them his solemn benediction. After this, he recommended his soul into the hands of his Creator, in several short, but most excellent prayers ; repeated most part of the seventy-first psalm, so far as it suited his circumstances, than which, nothing could be more proper, to express his trust and dependence upon the power and goodness of God, and the continual want he had of his grace and assistance: moreover he ordered his chaplain to use the commendatory prayer, when he should perceive him to be at the point of expiring, which was accordingly done several times.
About nine in the morning, his spirits began to sink and his speech to falter, and a few minutes after, without any visible sign of pain or difficulty, with two gentle sighs he resigned his soul to God. The last word he spoke was “Amen” to the commendatory prayer, which he repeated twice distinctly and audibly after his usual manner, a very little while before he died *.
Life by Mr, Robert Nelson, October, 1713.