The Praise of a Godly Woman

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Honovrable Sir,

Although it bee true (which a worthy Diuine obÅ¿erueth) that formall Hypocrites are heartned and hardned in their lewd courÅ¿es & falÅ¿e conceits of happineÅ¿Å¿e, when they heare more infamous Sinners than themÅ¿elues, gloriouÅ¿ly and flatteringly commended at their Deaths; yet we need not feare any Å¿uch bad effect by the Funerall-commendation of Gods true Saints; becauÅ¿e the publike TeÅ¿timonie of their iuÅ¿t PraiÅ¿es doth not onely make the wicked more inexcuÅ¿able, and the Glory of Gods Graces Å¿hine farre brighter to PoÅ¿teritie; but alÅ¿o enkindleth in the hearts of the godly a greater fire of Zeale for imitation. TheÅ¿e are Å¿ome of the Ends, why it hath euer been and is Å¿till an vnreproueable CuÅ¿tome in Gods Church, that the Godly Å¿hould be Marked and Honoured at their Deaths, as Hezekiah was by all Iudah & IeruÅ¿alem: Valentinean, Satyrus and TheodoÅ¿ius by Saint AmbroÅ¿e: BaÅ¿il, Gregory and Gorgonia by Nazianzen: Nepotian, Paula and Marcella by S. Ierom. Had not their Holy Liues and Happie Deaths beene publiÅ¿hed by Å¿uch vnpartiall Pens, wee Å¿hould haue bin ignorant now of many excellent CourÅ¿es of Å¿anctified Men and Women, of many comfortable workings of the Holy GhoÅ¿t in them, and Å¿hould haue wanted many inflaming Motiues to follow their religious Å¿teps. Vpon this conÅ¿ideration I was bold to commend vnto Gods people the more than Ordinary paÅ¿Å¿ages of your Honourable Mothers Holy Life and Death: wherein I haue as a ChriÅ¿tian Å¿poken the truth of a ChriÅ¿tian, that is, (as Saint Ierom proteÅ¿teth in a like caÅ¿e) made a true Narration; not a Vain-glorious Panegyrick. Let Poets and Oratours praiÅ¿e thoÅ¿e women, which Poppæa-like, are graced with all other things Å¿auing a Gracious Heart: Let them commend their Wit, Wealth, Beautie, Nobilitie, and other Gifts of Fortune (as they call them) in Å¿tead of Vertues. Wee the MiniÅ¿ters of ChriÅ¿t, and Stewards of the MyÅ¿teries of God, muÅ¿t adorne none with the Honourable Attributes of Heauenly PraiÅ¿e; but Å¿uch as are truly beautified, enriched, and ennobled with the Purity and Power of Gods Feare in their Humble Soules. This praiÅ¿e the Lord will ProÅ¿per, which is vttered in that WiÅ¿dome, whereof the Feare of the Lord is the beginning. But for the Saints themÅ¿elues: I dare Å¿ay with Saint AuguÅ¿tine, that they deÅ¿ire more the Imitation, than the Commendation of their vertues: and therefore to tell you the truth (as the Å¿ame Father doth his friend) you Å¿hould neuer haue heard mee commend this deceaÅ¿ed Lady, but in hope, that Gods Graces in Her might by this meanes, Å¿uruiue in your religious Imitation, and not only in you and all them that are of Her bloud; but alÅ¿o in all them that haue heard or Å¿hall reade this Sermon. This is all the gaine I looke and pray for, that Gods word, which I haue faithfully alledged (not without Å¿ome IlluÅ¿trations (I confeÅ¿Å¿e) borrowed from the holy Fathers, whereof I need not to be aÅ¿hamed) may be conÅ¿tantly practiÅ¿ed by vs all....