Mr. Boltons Last and Learned Worke of the Foure Last Things

of the
Foure last Things,
and Notes on Justice
Nicolls his Funerall.
Together with the Life and
Death of the Authour.

Published by E. B.
dwelling in the Black-Friers.



[Page 74]
About DEATH, Consider:
  1. That all the pleasures, treasures, and comforts of this life, wife, children, goods, gold, great friends, lands, livings, possessions, offices, honours, high roomes, brave situations, faire prospects, sumptuous buildings, pleasant walkes, and even the world it selfe, upon which thou hast lost so much labour, time, care, thoughtfulnesse, and doted so long, holding a divorce, as death it selfe, must all, upon the stroke of death, which not heaven and earth, or any created power, can any wayes possibly prevent, divert, or adjourne, be [Page 75] suddenly, utterly, and for ever left, never more to be minded, medl'd with, or enjoyed in this world or the world to come. When our breath goeth forth, and we returne to our earth, all our thoughts perish: Even the thoughts of the greatest Princes, and mightiest Monarchs upon earth, who happily may have in their heads whole commonwealths, and the affaires of many kingdomes. Put not your trust in Princes (saith King David)Psal. 146. 3,4. nor in the sonne of man, in whom there is no helpe. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish. And therefore let it be thy wisdome, to rent and weane thine affections from the world with an holy resolute violence in the meane time: Disdaine and scorne to set thine heart upon those things here, which thou canst not, thou must not have in the second life. And there is good reason for it. For they are all (as I said before) at the best, and in the height:

    1. But vanity.

    2. And Vexation of spirit.

    3. They cannot satisfie the soule.

    4. They will not profit in the day of revenge.

    5. They reach not to eternity.

    6. There is no man so assured of his honour, wealth or any worldly thing, but he may be deprived of them, the very next moment.

    7. Thou needs to feare no want: Mar. 10. 29. 30.There is no man (saith CHRIST) that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my sake and the Gospels; but he shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, houses and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternall life.

    Of eternall [Page 76] life, the point is cleare: But how shall they be so manifoldly remunerated in this life?

    1. In the same kind, sometimes, and [...] , as they say. Abraham, at GODS command, left his countrey, kindred, and fathers house: and he was afterwards (as you know) crowned with riches and honour abundantly, and became a great and mighty Prince: Job for the glorifying of GOD, and confounding of Satan, bore patiently, and blessed GOD for the losse of all: and how richly was he after repayed with a large and singular addition, and excellency of goods and children. Valentinian the Emperour was put from his place of command in the army, by Julian, and banished for [Page 77] the profession of CHRIST: but afterward was called backe from banishment, and with much honour and applause advanced to the height of the Imperiall dignity. The Apostles forsaking all for CHRISTS sake, had afterwards for one poore cottage, the houses of all the faithfull Christians in the world, to which they were farre more welcome, than ever any Haman was to his proudest palace: and so all godly Ministers in all ages ever find heartier entertainment, amongst the Houshold of Faith, (truly so called) than ever any naturall father, mother, sister or brother could possibly affoord; because, as yet they can see no beauty in the image of CHRIST in others, or in their feet who bring glad tidings, nor love spiritually.

    2. Or in equivalence, by contentment, which doth incomparably both in sweetnesse and worth surpasse and overweigh all worldly wealth. Witnes that worthy reply of the most famous Italian Marquesse, Galeacius Caracciolus (having [Page 78] left the rich and pleasant Marquesdome of Vico, all Imperiall, Popish, Princely, Courtly favours, and other proportionable felicities attending upon such humane greatnesse for the Gospels sake) to a wicked Jesuite tempting him with a great summe of gold, to returne out of Zion to Sodom; from Geneva into Italy; Let their money perish with them, who esteeme all the gold in the world, worth one daies society with JESUS CHRIST, and His HOLY SPIRIT. I make no doubt but to any of our learned and holy men, exiles for CHRIST in Queene Maries time, of whom many after returned, and received an hundred fold according to the letter of the Text, browne bread and the Gospell in Germany, during that bloudy five yeares, were infinitely more sweet and deare, than all the Bishopricks of ENGLAND with Subscription to the six Articles.

    3. 3. Even in an overflowing and transcendent manner, in a pressed and heaped, and even over-inlarged measure by spirituall joy, peace of conscience, contentment of soule, more familiarity with GOD, nearer communion with JESUS [Page 79] CHRIST, fuller assurance of His love, and our portion in Him, more sensible experience of His all sufficiency, extraordinary exercise of faith, sweeter taste in the Promises, closer cleaving to the Word, clearer sight of divine excellencies, heartier longing for heavenly joyes, &c. One drop of which spirituall refreshing deawes distilling upon the soule even in greatest outward distresse; one glimpse of such glorious inward joyes shining from the face of the Sun of salvation into the saddest heart in the darkest dungeon, doth incredibly surpasse all the comfort which wife, children, wealth, or (in a word) any worldly good, or mortall greatnesse can possibly yeeld.

    4. Or in posterity; by a very remarkable, if not miraculous providence and care for them. Consider for this purpose, that GOD-fearing Prophet, 2 Kings 4. who upon the matter, and in the true meaning, denied himselfe, and forsooke all for GODS sake. ( For he doth so also, who preferres the glory of GOD, the Gospell, the cause of CHRIST, and keeping of a good conscience, before any, or all earthly things; holding fast unfainedly a resolution, if he be put to it, and times require really and actually to leave all for CHRIST.) This good man might have applied himselfe to the present, served the times, sought the Court, and sate at Jezabels Table with her other temporizing trencher-chaplaines. But it is said in the Text, that he feared the LORD, and so disdained, and abhor'd to gaine by humouring greatnesse, to grow rich and rise by basenesse and [Page 80] flattery. And therefore did chuse rather to die a begger, to leave his wife in debt, and expose his children to the bondage of cruell creditours, than any waies to make ship-wracke of a good conscience, or consent and concurre to the adulterating of GODS sincere and purer worship. But mark what followes: rather than the wife and children of such a man, who preferred GODS glory before his owne preferment, shall suffer want; they must be relieved by a miraculous supply, as appeares in the story.

    5. Or in good name; which is rather to be chosen than great riches, saith Salomon. For instance, compare together Bradford and Bonner. The name of that blessed man shall be of most deare and glorious memory to all that love our LORD JESUS CHRIST in sincerity, untill His second comming: and it is like we shall looke upon him, and the rest of that royall Army of Martyrs in Queene Maries time, with thoughts of extraordinary sweetnesse and love in the next world thorow all eternity. But now the remembrance of that other fellow, who (like a bloud-thirsty Tyger) made such horrible havocke of the Lambs of CHRIST, shalbe had in a most abhorred, execrable, and everlasting detestation. The name of the fore-named noble Marquesse, who left and [Page 81] lost all with a witnesse for the Gospels sake, shall be infinitely more honoured of all honest men, so long as any one heavenly beame of GODS eternal truth shall shine upon earth, than his uncles Paul the fourth, or all that Rope of Popes from the first rising to the finall ruine of that Man of sinne. Nay, theirs shall rot everlastingly; but his shall re-flourish with sweetnesse, and fresh admiration to the worlds end.

  2. 2. That, to die, is but to be once done; and if we erre in that one action, we are undone everlastingly. And therefore have thine end ever in thine eye. Let all our abilities, businesses, and whole being in this life; let all our thoughts, words, actions, referre to this one thing, which (as it shall be well or ill ended) is attended either with endlesse plagues, or pleasures; with eternity of flames or felicity.

  3. That thou maist looke upon thy last bed, tobe full sorely terribly assaulted by the king of feare, accompanied with all his abhorred horrours, and stinging dread; by the fearefull sight of all thy former sinnes, arrayed and armed in their grisliest formes, and with their fieriest stings; [Page 82] with the utmost craft and cruelty of all the powers of darknesse, and the very powderplot of the prince of hell, that roaring Lion, who hath industriously laboured to devoure thy soule all thy life long; with the terrour of that just and last Tribunall which thou ready to passe to reckon precisely with Almighty GOD for all things done in the flesh. What manner of man ought thou to be then in the meane time; in all holy care, fore-cast and casting about to give up thine account comfort at that dreadfull houre? Be so farre from deserring repentance in this Day of visitation, and patting off till that time; (For how canst thou possibly attend so great a busines, when thou art beset with such a world of wofull worke, and hellish rage?). That hou hould est in this thy day, like a sonne of wisdome, constantly ply and improove all opportunities, occasions, offers, every moment, Ministry, mercy, motions of the Spirit, checks of conscience, corrections, temptations, &c. To store thy selfe richly with spirituall strength against that last encounter, and of highest consequence, either for eternall happinesse, or unconceiveable horrour.

  4. That thy body, when the soule is gone, wilbe an horrour to all that behold it; a most loathsome and abhorred spectacle. Those that loved it most, cannot now find in their hearts to looke on , by reason of the griesly deformednesse which death will put upon it. Downe it must into a pit of carions and confusion, covered with [Page 83] wormes, not able to wagg so much as a little finger, to remoove the vermine that feed and gnaw upon its flesh; and so moulder away into rottennesse and dust. And therefore let us never for the temporary, transitory ease, pleasure, and pampering of a ruinous, and rotten carkasse, bring everlasting misery upon our immortall soules. Let us never, for a little sensuall, short and vanishing delight flowing from the three filthy puddles of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, drowne both our bodies and soules in a dungeon, shall I say, nay in a boyling sea of fire and brimstone, where we can see no banks, nor feele no bottome.

  5. That when the soule departs this life, it carries nothing away with it, but grace, GODS favour, and a good conscience. The Sun of all worldly greatnesse, prosperity, and joy then sets for ever: Even Crownes, Kingdomes, Lands, Livings, and all earthly Possessions are everlastingly left. And what will an immortall soule, destitute of divine grace, do then? Then will that now newly-separated soule, finding no spirituall store or provision laid up in this life against the evill day, with an irksome and furious [Page 84] reflexion, looke backe upon all its time spent in the flesh; and beholding there, nothing but abominations, guiltinesse and sinne: Presently awakes the never-dying worme which having formerly had its mouth stopt with carnall delights, and mus 'd up with outward mirth, will now feed upon it with horrour, anguish, and desperare rage, world without end. O then, let these precious, deare, everlasting things breath'd into our Bodies for a short abode in this Vale of teares, by the All-powerfull GOD, scorne with infinite disdaine, to feed upon Earth, or any earthly things; which are no proportionable object, either for divinenesse, or duration, for so noble a nature to nestle upon. But let them ply and fat themselves all the dayes of their appointed time, with their proper, native, and celestiall food: At that great Supper made by a King at the mariage of a Kings sonne, Luke 14. 16. Mat. 22. 2. And therefore must needs be most magnificent and admirable: At that Feast of fat things, that Feast of wines on the lees; of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined, Isa. 25. 6. The founder and furnisher whereof is the LORD of Hosts. He that made Heaven and Earth, makes it; and therefore it must needs be matchlesse and incomparable: At the Well-head of Wisdomes richest Bounty; who hath killed her beasts, mingled her wine, and furnished her table, Prov. 9. 2. In and by these and the royallest east that can be imagined, are shadowed, but infinitely short, and represented unto us, but nothing to the life, all those inexplicable [Page 85] divine dainties, delicates, sweetnesses; those gracious quicknings, rejoycings and ravishments of spirit; which GOD in mercy is wont to communicate and convey thorow all the ordinances and meanes of grace to truly humbled soules, for a mighty increase of spirituall strength and invincible comfort. O how deliciously may a heavenly hungry heart feed and fill it selfe;

    1. In the powerfull Ministry unfolding all the sacred sense and rich mines of GODS owne meaning in His blessed booke.

    2. In the precious promises of life, by the applications and exercise of Faith.

    3. In the LORDS Supper, by making the LORD JESUS surer to our soules every time; and every time by feasting afresh upon His body and bloud spiritually, with exultations of dearest joy, and sweetest glimpses (as it were) of eternall glory.

    4. In fruitfull conferences and mutuall communications of gifts, graces, prayers, duties with GODS people, which the LORD doth usually and graciously water with the deawes of many sweet and glorious refreshings and quickning, much increase of Christian courage, and an holy contentation in the good way.

    5. In meditations upon the mystery of CHRIST, the miracles of mercy upon us for our good all our life long, and the eternity of joyes and blisse above.

    6. Upon the LORDS Day, when showers of spirituall blessings are accustomed to fall from the Throne of grace all the day long, upon those who sincerely endeavour to consecrate it as glorious unto Him.

    7. Upon [Page 86] those soule-fatting daies of humiliation; which, who ever tried either secretly, privately, or publikely; either by himselfe alone, with his yokefellow, in his family or congregation, and found not GOD extraordinary, according to the extraordinarinesse of the exercise?

This is a selection from the original text


comfort, death, gold, land, pleasure, treasure, wealth

Source text

Title: Mr. Boltons Last and Learned Worke of the Foure Last Things

Author: Robert Bolton

Publisher: E. B.

Publication date: 1632

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 3242 Physical description: [56], 264, p. : Copy from: British Library Reel position: STC / 1128:05

Digital edition

Original author(s): Robert Bolton

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) tp, pp. 74-86


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > non-fiction prose > religion: sermons

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.