Page images

Sydserfe was removed to be bishop of Orkney, 1661. one of the best revenues of any of the bishoprics in Scotland: but it had been almost in all times a sinecure. He lived little more than a year after his translation. He had died in more esteem, if he had died a year before it. But Sharp was ordered to find out proper men for filling up the other sees. That care was left entirely to him. The choice was generally very bad.

Two men were brought up to be consecrated in England, Fairfoul, designed for the see of Glasgow, and Hamilton, brother to the lord Belhaven, for Galloway. The former of these was a pleasant and facetious man, insinuating and crafty: but he was a better physician than a divine. His life was scarce free from scandal: and he was eminent in nothing that belonged to his own function. He had not only sworn the covenant, but had persuaded others 134 to do it. And when one objected to him, that it went against his conscience, he answered, there were some very good medicines that could not be chewed, but [these] were to be swallowed down, [like a pill or a bolus;] and since it was plain that a man could not live in Scotland unless he sware it, therefore it must be swallowed down without any farther examination. Whatever the matter was, soon after the consecration his parts sunk so fast, that in a few months he, who had passed his whole life long for one of the cunningest men in Scotland, became almost a changeling; upon which it may be easily collected what commentaries the presbyterians would make. Sharp lamented this to me, as one of their great misfortunes. He said, it began to appear in less than a month after he came to London. Ha

1661. milton was a good natured man, but weak. He was always believed episcopal. Yet he had so far complied in the time of the covenant, that he affected a peculiar expression of his counterfeit zeal for their cause, to secure himself from suspicion: when he gave the sacrament, he excommunicated all that were not true to the covenant, using a form in the Old Testament of shaking out the lap of his gown; saying, so did he cast out of the church and communion all that dealt falsely in the covenant. Bishop With these there was a fourth man found out, cbararten'wh0 was then at London at his return from the Bath, where he had been for his health: and on him I will enlarge more copiously. He was the son of doctor Leightoun, who had in archbishop Laud's time writ Ziori's Plea against the Prelates; for which he was condemned in the star-chamber to have his ears cut and his nose slit. He was a man of a violent and ungovemed heatc. He sent his eldest son Robert to be bred in Scotland, who was accounted a saint from his youth up. He had great quickness of parts, a lively apprehension, with a charming vivacity of thought and expression. He had the greatest command of the purest Latin that ever I knew in any man. He was a master both of Greek and Hebrew, and of the whole compass of theological learning, chiefly in the study of the scriptures. But that which excelled all the rest was, he was possessed with the highest and noblest sense of divine things that I ever saw in any man. He had no regard to his person, unless it was to

c (In his book, which was all the bishops, and to smite dedicated to the parliament, he them under the fifth rib.) incited the members of it to kill

mortify it by a constant low diet, that was like a 1661. perpetual fast. He had a contempt both of wealth and reputation. He seemed to have the lowest thoughts of himself possible, and to desire that all other persons should think as meanly of him as he did himself: he bore all sorts of ill usage and reproach, like a man that took pleasure in it. He had so subdued the natural heat of his temper, that in a great variety of accidents, and in a course of twenty-135 two years' intimate conversation with him, I never observed the least sign of passion, but upon one single occasion. He brought himself into so composed a gravity, that I never saw him laugh, and but seldom smile. And he kept himself in such a constant recollection, that I do not remember that ever I heard him say one idle word. There was a visible tendency in all he said to raise his own mind, and those he conversed with, to serious reflections. He seemed to be in a perpetual meditation. And, though the whole course of his life was strict and ascetical, yet he had nothing of the sourness of temper that generally possesses men of that sort. He was the freest from superstition, of censuring others, or of imposing his own methods on them, possible. So that he did not so much as recommend them to others. He said there was a diversity of tempers; and every man was to watch over his own, and to turn it in the best manner he could. [When he spoke of divine matters, which he did almost perpetually, it was in such an elevating manner, that I have often reflected on these words, and felt somewhat like them within myself while I was with him. Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way ?] His thoughts were lively,

1661. oft out of the way, and surprising, yet just and genuine. And he had laid together in his memory the greatest treasure of the best and wisest of all the ancient sayings of the heathens as well as christians, that I have ever known any man master of: and he used them in the aptest manner possible. He had been bred up with the greatest aversion imaginable to the whole frame of the church of England. From Scotland his father sent him to travel. He spent some years in France, and spoke that language like one born there. He came afterwards and settled in Scotland, and had presbyterian ordination. But he quickly broke through the prejudices of his education. His preaching had a sublimity both of thought and expression in it. The grace and gravity of his pronunciation was such, that few heard him without a very sensible emotion: I am sure I never did. [It was so different from all others, and indeed from every thing that one could hope to rise up to, that it gave a man an indignation at himself, and all others. It was a very sensible humiliation to me, and for some time after I heard him, I could not bear the thought of my own performances, and was out of countenance when I was forced to think of preaching.] His style was rather too fined: but there was a majesty and beauty in it that left so deep an impression, that I cannot yet forget the sermons I heard him preach thirty years ago. And yet with this he seemed to look on himself as so ordinary a preacher, that while he had a cure he was ready to employ all others: and when he was a bishop he chose to preach to small auditories, and would never give notice beforehand: he had indeed d Burnet is not guilty of that. S.

a very low voice, and so could not be heard by a 1661. great crowd. He soon came to see into the follies of the presbyterians, and to dislike their covenant; particularly the imposing it, and their fury against all who differed from them. He found they were not capable of large thoughts: theirs were narrow, as their tempers were sour. So he grew weary of mixing with them. He scarce ever went to their meetings, and lived in great retirement, minding only the care of his own parish at Newbottle near Edenburgh. Yet all the opposition that he made to 136 them was, that he preached up a more exact rule of life than seemed to them consistent with human nature: but his own practice did even outshine his doctrine.

In the year 1648 he declared himself for the engagement for the king. But the earl of Lothian, who lived in his parish, had so high an esteem for him, that he persuaded the violent men not to meddle with him: though he gave occasion to great exception; for when some of his parish, who had been in the engagement, were ordered to make public profession of their repentance for it, he told them, they had been in an expedition, in which, he believed, they had neglected their duty to God, and had been guilty of injustice and violence, of drunkenness and other immoralities, and he charged them to repent of these very seriously, without meddling with the quarrel, or the grounds of that war. He entered into a great correspondence with many of the episcopal party, and with my own father in particular; and did wholly separate himself from the presbyterians. At last he left them, and withdrew from his cure: for he could not do the things im

« PreviousContinue »