A SINGULAR SERMON.
The following singular sermon, which has recently been
reprinted in a tract at Diss,
in Norfolk, is said to be authentic. This title is “A Sermon occasioned
by the Death of Mr. Proctor, Minister of Gissing, by the Rev, Mr. Moore,
of Burston, in Norfolk.” It is surmised to have been preached about
one hundred and forty years ago, in the parish church of Burston, a small
village near Diss. Most of the names mentioned in this curious –
but considering the times and manners of the locality, rather characteristic
– discourse, are now standing in the register books of the said
parish, thus so far supporting the reality of the sermon. In 1750 it was
printed in the British Magazine for November, and a manuscript copy of
it was found in an old wall, pulled down at Wisbeach, in 1823. We thus
introduce it, and we give the discourse entire, which we are able to do
without trespassing much on our own space, as it has, at least, the merit
of brevity: -
“Fight the Good Fight.” – 1
Tim. Vi. 12.
Beloved, we are met together to solemnise the funeral
of Mr. Proctor: his father’s name was Mr. Thomas Proctor, of the
second family; his brother’s name was also Mr. Thomas Proctor; he
lived some time as Burston Hall, in Norfolk, and was high constable of
Diss hundred; this man’s name was Mr. Robert Proctor, and his wife’s
was Mrs. Buxton; late wife of Mr. Matthew Buxton; she came from Helsdon-hall,
He was a good husband and she a good house-wife, and
they two got money: she bought a thousand pounds with her for her portion.
But now, beloved, I shall make it clear, by demonstrative arguments. First,
he was a good man, and that in several respects: he was a loving man to
his neighbours, a charitable man to the poor, a favourable man in his
tithes, and a good landlord to his tenants; there sits one. Mr. Spurgeon,
can tell that a great sum of money he forgave him upon his death bed,
it was four score pounds; now, beloved, was not this a good man, a man
of God, beyond Norwich. This is the first argument.
Secondly, to prove this man to be a good man, and a man
of God: in the time of his sickness, which was long and tedious, he sent
for Mr. Cole, minister of Shimpling, to pray for him. He was not a self-ended
man, to be prayed for himself only; no, beloved, he desired him to pray
for all his relations and acquaintances, for Mr. Buxton’s worship,
and for all Mr Buxton’s children, against it should please God to
send him any; and to Mr. Cole’s prayers he devoutly said Amen, Amen,
Amen; was not this a good man, and a man of God. think you, and his wife
a good woman! And she came from Helsdon-hall, beyond Norwich.
Then he sent for Mr. Gibbs to pray for him; when he came
he prayed for him, for all his friends, relations, and acquaintances;
for Mr. Buxton’s worship, for Mrs. Buxton’s worship, and for
all Mr. Buxton’s children, against it should please God to send
him any; and to Mr Gibb’s prayers be devoutly said Amen, Amen, Amen;
was not this a good man, and a man of God. think you, and his wife a good
woman! And she came from Helsdon-hall, beyond Norwich.
Then he sent for me, and I came and prayed for this good
man, Mr. Proctor, for all his friends, relations, and acquaintances ;
for Mr. Buxton’s worship, for Mrs. Buxton’s worship, and for
Mr. Buxton’s children, against it should please God to send him
any: and to my prayers he devoutly said Amen, Amen, Amen: was not this
a good man, and a man of God, think you, and his wife a good woman? and
she came from Helsdon-hall, beyond Norwich.
Thirdly and lastly, beloved, I came to a clear demonstrative
argument to probe this man to be a good man, and a man of God, and that
is this: there was one Thomas Proctor, a very poor beggar-boy, he came
into this country upon the back of a dun cow, it was not a black cow,
nor a brindled cow, nor a brown cow; no, beloved, it was a dun* cow; well,
beloved, this poor boy came a begging to this good man’s door, he
did not do as some would have done, give him a small alms and send him away, or chide him and make him a pass, and send him into
his own country; no, beloved, he took him into his own house and bound
him an apprentice to a gunsmith in Norwich; after his time was out he
took him home again, and married him to a kinswoman of his wife’s,
one Mrs. Christian Robertson, here present, there she sits; she was a
very good fortune, and to her this good man gave a considerable jointure;
by her this man had three daughters; this good man took home the eldest,
brought her up to a woman’s estate, married her to a very honourable
gentleman, Mr. Buxton, here present, there he sits: who gave him a vast
portion with her, and the remainder of his estate he gave his tow daughters.
Now, was not this a good man, and a man of God. think you, and his wife
a good woman? and she came from Helsdon-hall, beyond Norwich.
Beloved, you may remember, some time since, I preached
at the funeral of Mrs. Proctor, all which time I troubled you with many
of her transcendent virtues; but your memories perhaps may fail you, and
therefore I shall now remind you of one or two of them.
The first is she was a good knitter, as any in the county
of Norfolk: when her husband and family were in bed and asleep, she would
get a cushion, clap herself down by the fire, and sit and knit; but beloved,
be assured she was no prodigal woman, but a sparing woman; for to spare
candle, she would stir up the coals with her knitting-pins; and by that
light she would sit and knit, and make as good work as many other women
by day-light. Beloved, I have a pair of stocking on my legs that were
knit in the same manner; and they are the best stocking that ever I wore
in my life.
Secondly, she was the best maker of toast in drink that
ever I eat in my life; and they were brown toasts too: for when I used
to go in a morning she would ask me to eat a toast, which I was very willing
to do, because she had such an artificial way of toasting it, no ways
slack or burning it; besides she had such a pretty way of grating nutmeg
and dipping it in the beer, and such a piece of rare cheese, that I must
needs say they were the best toasts that ever I eat in my life.
Well, beloved, the days are short, and many of you have
a great way to your habitations, and therefore I hasten to a conclusion.
I think I have sufficiently probed this man to be a good
man, and his wife a good woman; but fearing your memories should fail
you, I shall repeat the particulars, viz:
1. His love to his neighbour.
2. His charity to the poor.
3. His favourableness in his tithes.
4. His goodness to his tenants.
5. His devotions in his prayers, in saying Amen! Amen!! Amen!!! To the
prayers of Mr. Cole, Mr. Gibbs, and myself.
*Dun - An almost neutral brownish gray to dull grayish brown. Middle English,
from Old English dunn.