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plary man retired to a house which he rented at Higham, near Norwich, where, even out of the little pittance which remained, he distributed a weekly charity to a certain number of poor, widows.
Here he died, September 8, 1656, and was buried in the church yard of St. Peter, Norwich, without any memorial, observing in his will : “I do not hold God's house a meet repository for the dead bodies of the greatest saints."*
* He expressed the same sentiment in an excellent sermon, preached by him at Exeter, on the consecration of a new burial ground in that city, August 24, 1637. On the practice of burying in churches, he observe:
“I must needs say, I cannot but hold it very unfit and incona venient, both, first in respect of the majesty of the place; it is the Lord's house, the palace of the King of Heaven; and what prince would have his court made a charnel house? How well soever we loved our deceased friends, yet when their life is dissolved, there is none of us but would be loath to have their corpses inmates with us in our houses : And why should we think fit to offer that to God's house, which we would be loth to endure in our own? The Jews and we are in extremes this way: they hold the place unclean where the dead lies, and will not abide to read any part of the law near to ought that is dead; we make choice to lay our dead in the place where we read and preach both Law and Gospel.
“ Secondly, in regard of the annoyance of the living; for the air (kept close within walls) arising from dead bodies, must needs be offensive, as we find by daily experience ; more offensive now than of old to God's people; they buried with
It is well observed of Bishop Hall, by the person who preached his funeral sermon, that “bis
odours, the fragrance whereof was a good antidote for this inconvenience; (she did this to bury me, saith our Saviour) not so with us; so as the air receives no other tincture than what arises from the evaporation of corrupted bodies.”
In this opinion the bishop was not singular. Many men of the greatest judgment and piety have thought that the practice of burying in churches, instead of answering any good purpose, is injurious to health, and a mark of unbecoming ostentation. The great Sir Matthew Hale used to say that “ Churches were for the living, and church-yards for the dead.”
There was no such thing as burying in churches for the first three hundred years, though it was a custom with the primitive christians to hold their assemblies frequently at the burying places of the martyrs. Even after the empire became christian, laws were enacted prohibiting and restraining men from burying, both in cities and churches. In the sixth century, church-yards were made burying places, and afterwards kings, bishops, and other eminent persons were, by some laws, allowed interment in churches; but the practice did not become general till popery was fully established.
The learned Rivetus speaking of this practice, says, “ hunc worem, quem invcrit Avaritia & Superstitio valde vellem apud nos cum aliis Superstitionis reliquiis esse abolitum, &c." "This custom, which covetousness and superstition first brought in, I wish it were abolished with other relicks of superstition among us. Grotius also makes the same complaint; and the learned Durantus, a Romanist, wishes the primitive practice were restored.
It is much to be lamented that, in all our great cities and, large manufacturing towns, any cemeteries should be permitted within the walls.
industry did not cease, or so much as abate, at any of his preferments ; he hath given,” says he, “ the world as good an account of his time as any man in it; as one that knew the value of time, and esteemed the loss of it more than a temporal loss, because it hath a necessary influence upon eternity. It is well known in this city, [of Norwich]” adds the preacher, “how forward he was to preach in any of our churches, till he was first, forbidden by men, and at last disabled by God.
“ And when he could not preach himself, as oft, and as long as he was able, ihis learned Gamaliel was (not contented only, but) very diligent to-sit at the feet of the youngest of his disciples; as diligent a hearer, as he had been a preacher; how oft have we seen him walking alone, like old Jacob, with his staff, to Bethel, the house of God ?*"
How meekly he bore his sufferings we are told by the same person, who was intimately acquainted with him :
“But Israel at last," says he, “wanted bread for himself and his family: I cannot say this man did so, but how near he came to it, and by what means, we all know; but must not complain, because he never did : He had not the kindness that
. * Whitefoot's Funeral Sermon for Bishop Hall, preached at St. Peter's, Norwich, 1656.
Israel had in Egypt, to have any allowance for his maintenance from the Lord of the country, yet he never wanted. He was indeed a rare mirrour of patience under all his crosses, which toward his latter end were multiplied upon him. The loss of his estate he seemed insensible of, as if he had parted with all, with as good content as Jacob did with a good part of his, to pacify his angry brother, having well learned, as well to want as to abound. I have heard him oft bewail the spoils of the church, but very rarely did he so much as mention his own losses, but took joyfully the spoiling of his goods.”
It is needless to enumerate his works, which are voluminous and various. His Contemplations on select parts of the Old and New Testament, are a rich mine of solid piety, both entertaining and instructive. But the most remarkable of his performances is that which he entitled “Virgidemiarum; or Satires, in Six Books,” published first in 1597, and reprinted at Oxford, in 1753, 8vo. In the prologue he calls himself the first satirist in the English language.
"I first adventure, follow me who list,
The work is divided into six books, the first three called toothless satires ; practical academical, moral. The three last biting satires.
Sir John Hawkins, in his life of Johnson, speaking of the qualifications of Pope, sa Editor of
Shakspeare, Shakspeare, relates the following anecdote. “So little was he used to that kind of reading [in old authors] that as himself confessed, he had never heard of the Virgidemiarum of Bishop Hall, a collection of the wittiest and best pointed satires in our language, till it was shewn to him, and that so late in life, that he could only express his approbation of it by a wish that he had seen it sooner."