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best account by his excellent judgment and good taste, they rendered him the most eloquent writer and the most popular preacher amongst his contemporaries.* At the Restoration he was appointed chaplain to Charles II., but, for conscience sake, he soon afterwards forfeited this preferment, along with the rectory of St Dunstan's in the West. In his secession from the Church of England, however, there was nothing of sectarianism. Like Baxter, he frequently attended its ministrations, and he even went so far as to take the oath required by the Oxford or Five-Mile Act—an oath to attempt no alteration in the government, whether in church or state. No trimmer or temporiser, he was at the same time of a temper too calm, and a spirit too catholic, to find pleasure in ecclesiastical strife and contention ; and whilst the sacrifices he had made secured the confidence of his ejected brethren, the elevation of his character, and the charms of his society, secured for him the friendship of men like the Lord Keeper Bridgman, the Lord Chancellor Finch, and Archbishop Tillotson.
Dr Bates was born November 1625, and died July 1699.
Trust in God.
Trust and reliance on God is our duty and privilege. Every being has a necessary dependence on Him for its subsistence;
* One of Dr Bates's best known works is “ The Four Last Things : namely, Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell.” Our copy of this is the second edition, 1691. Its title-page is surrounded by a black border, and it is “ recommended as proper to be given at funerals.” In an advertisement, the publisher, Brabazon Aylmer, suggests that such books be given “ at funerals as a funeral legacy, when, according to the observation of the wise preacher, “The living lay to heart their own frailty,' and are more recep. tive of holy counsels to prepare for their great change from time to eternity, and would affect their minds with the present instance of mortality much better than wine, sweetmeats, gloves, or rings, or unprofitable talk, as is too usual at such solemnities.” He adds, that “ some memorables of the life of the deceased, if desired, may be printed on a leaf or more, and bound with it.” For some time it seems to have been a frequent practice to give away such books.
but man, of all the visible creatures, is only capable of affiance in Him, by reflecting upon his own impotence, and by considering the perfections of the Creator, that render Him the proper object of trust. It is the incommunicable honour of the Deity to be acknowledged and regarded as the supporter of all things. To put confidence in ourselves, in the advantages of body, or mind, or estate, as if we were the architects of our own felicity, is a sacrilegious usurpation. Yet vain man foments a secret pride and high opinion of himself, as if by his own prudence and conduct he might acquire an happiness, till experience confutes his pleasing but pernicious error. The truth is, were there no God, whose powerful providence governs all things, and has a special care and respect of man, he were of all creatures the most miserable. So that, besides the wickedness, we may clearly discover the folly, of atheism, that deprives man of his chiefest comfort at all times, and his only comfort in the greatest exigencies. For in this mutable state he is liable to so many disasters and wretched accidents, that none can have an assurance of prosperity one day. How frail and uncertain is life, the foundation of all temporal enjoyments! It depends upon so many things, that it is admirable it subsists for a little time. The least vessel in the body that breaks or is stopped, interrupting the course of the blood and humours, ruins its economy. Sometimes in its vigorous consistence, when most distant from sickness, it is nearest to death. A little eruption of blood in the brain is sufficient to stop the passages of the spirits, and deprive it of motion and life. And the changes of things without us are so various and frequent, so great and sudden, that it is an excess of folly, a dangerous rest, to be secure in the enjoyment of them. The same person sometimes affords an example of the greatest prosperity, and of greater misery, in the space of a few hours. Henry the Fourth of France, in the midst of the triumphs of peace, was, by a blow from a sacrilegious hand, despatched in his coach, and his bloody corpse forsaken by his servants, exposed to the view of all ; so that, as the historian observes, there was but a moment between the adorations and oblivion of that great prince. “ All flesh is grass, and the glory of it as the flower of the grass." Whatever disguises its imperfections, and gives it lustre, is but superficial, like the colour and ornament of a flower, whose matter is only a little dust and water, and is as weak and fading. Who, then, can possess these things without a just jealousy, lest they should slip away, or be ravished from him by violence ? And in this respect man is most unhappy; for besides the affliction of present evils, reason, that separates him from other creatures, and exalts him above them, is the fatal instrument of his trouble by the prevision of future evils. Ignorance of future miseries is a privilege, when knowledge is ineffectual to prevent them. Unseen evils are swallowed whole, but by an apprehensive imagination are tasted in all their bitterness. By forethoughts we run to meet them before they are come, and feel them before they are truly sensible. This was the reason of that complaint in the poet, seeing the prognostics of misery many years before it arrived
Sit subitum quodcunque paras, sit cæca futuri
Let the evils thou preparest surprise us; let us not be tormented by an unhappy expectation of them ; let the success of future things be concealed from our sight; let it be permitted to us to hope in the midst of our fears.
Indeed, God has mercifully hid the most of future events from human curiosity. For as on the one side, by the view of great prosperity, man would be tempted to an excess of pride and joy, so on the other (as we are more sensibly touched with pain than pleasure), if, when he begins to use his reason and apprehensive faculty, by a secret of optics he should have in one sight presented all the afflictions that should befall him in
the world, how languishing would his life be! This would keep him on a perpetual rack, and make him suffer together and at all times, what shall be endured separately and but once. But though the most of future things lie in obscurity, yet often we have sad intimations of approaching evils that awaken our fears. Nay, how many tempests and shipwrecks do men suffer in terra firma, from the suspicion of calamities that shall never be ? Imaginary evils operate as if real, and produce substantial griefs. Now, how can such an infirm and jealous creature, in the midst of things that are every minute subject to the laws of mutability, be without inward trouble? What can give him repose and tranquillity in his best condition, but an assurance that nothing can befall him but according to the wise counsel and gracious will of God? And in extreme afflictions, in the last agonies, when no human things can afford relief, when our dearest friends are not able to comfort us, but are miserable in our miseries, what can bear up our fainting hope but the Divine power—a foundation that never fails? what can allay our sorrows but the Divine goodness tenderly inclined to succour us ? “Our help is in the Lord who made heaven and earth.” The creation is a visible monument of His perfections. Lord is a sun, and a shield.” He is all-sufficient to supply our wants, and satisfy our desires. As the sun gives life and joy to all the world, and if there were millions of more kinds of beings and of individuals in it, his light and heat are sufficient for them all ; so the Divine goodness can supply us with all good things, and ten thousand worlds more.
And His power can secure to us His favours, and prevent troubles; or, which is more admirable, make them beneficial and subservient to our felicity. He is a sure refuge, an inviolable sanctuary to which we may retire in all our straits. His omnipotence is directed by unerring wisdom, and excited by infinite love, for the good of those who faithfully obey Him. An humble confidence in Him, frees us from anxieties, preserves a firm, peace
ful temper in the midst of storms. This gives a superiority of spirits, a true empire of mind over all outward things.
Rex est qui posuit metus,
Fato, nec queritur mori. What was the vain boast of philosophers—that by the power of reason they could make all accidents to contribute to their happiness-is the real privilege we obtain by a regular trust in God, who directs and orders all events that happen for the everlasting good of His servants. In the worst circumstances we may rejoice in hope, in a certain and quiet expectation of a blessed issue. In death itself we are more than conquerors. “O Lord God of hosts, blessed is the man that trusts in thee."
Love to God.
The gospel propounds to us the most proper and powerful motives of love to God. In the visible world there is a representation so conspicuous and full of His divine majesty, power, and wisdom, that formed and regulates all things, that 'tis not possible but the attentive regarding of it will make impressions of reverence and fear, will raise our esteem and admiration. But those are dead sentiments without love, And that in the guilty creature fearful of God's wrath, must be first excited by the hopes of His pardoning mercy. Now, the love and kindness of God our Saviour appeared to man in his redemption, in the most eminent manner. Though in that blessed work the Divine perfections are relucent in various effects—wisdom designed it, power accomplished it, holiness and righteousness was gloriously declared in it-yet, as 'tis applied to the benefit of man, 'tis the sole effect of wise, almighty, holy, tender love. Mercy moved God's compassion, opened heaven, sent down His Son to be one with us in nature, that He might exchange His merits and blessedness for our guilt and misery.