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parents: the doing the work of God negligently,
capable of it, by a religious and holy conformity to
5. With respect to those sins which are com-
6. If the sick person be of evil report, the minister should take care, some way or other, to make him sensible of it, so as to show an effectual sorrow and repentance. This will be best done by prudent hints, and insinuations, of recalling those things to his mind whereof he is accused by the voice of fame, or to which the temptations, perhaps, of his calling, more immediately subject him. Or if he will not understand, when he is secretly prompted, he must be asked in plain terms concerning these matters. He must be told of the evil things which are spoken of him in public, and of the usual temptations of his calling.
And it concerns the minister to follow this advice, without partiality, or fear, or interest, or respect of persons, in much simplicity and prudence, having no other consideration before him, but the conscientious discharge of his duty, and the salvation of the person under his care.
7. The sick person is likewise to be instructed concerning his faith, whether he has a reasonable notion of the articles of the Christian religion, as they are excellently summed up in the Apostle's Creed.
Note also, That in cases of necessity, where the sacrament cannot be so conveniently administered, the sick may be admonished to receive it spiritually, i. e. by representing the symbols of the body and blood of our Lord to his mind, and applying them to himself by faith, with the same preparations of faith and repentance, as if they were really present. For no doubt but God, in such a case, who considers all things with exact justice, and chiefly respects the sincerity of our hearts and intentions, will excuse the absence of the outward and visible sign, when necessity, and not contempt or neglect, was the occasion of it.
Of applying spiritual Remedies to the unreason-
IT sometimes happens that good men, especially such as have tender consciences, impatient of the 8. With respect to his temporal concerns, the sick least sin, to which they are arrived by a long habit is to be advised to set every thing in order, and (if of grace, and a continual observation of their ways, he hath not already) to make his will as soon as he overact their part, and turn their tenderness into can. For if he recovers, this cannot be detri- scruples, and are too much dejected and doubtful mental; but, if he dies, it will be of great comfort concerning their future salvation. In such a case, and satisfaction to him. And here it must be re-the minister is to represent to them, that the man membered that he distribute every thing according who is jealous of himself, is always in the safest to the exact rules of justice, and with such a due condition: that if he fears on his death-bed, it is care, as to prevent all law-suits and contentions but what happens to most considering men; and for the future: and, if he be able, he is to be ad- that therefore to fear nothing then, is either a sinmonished to do something likewise out of charity,gular felicity, or a dangerous presumption. and for the sake of his poor brethren.
9. In all the course of his visitation, the minister should frequently be exhorting the sick man to patience and a blessed resignation to the will of God; and not to look upon his sickness as barely the effect of second causes, but as inflicted on him by Divine Providence for several wise and good ends: As, for the trial of his faith; the exercise of patience; the punishment of his sins; the amendment of his life; or for the example of others, who, seeing his good behaviour in such a day of calamity, may glorify their Father which is in heaven: or else, that it is for the increase of his future welfare, in order to raise him the higher in glory hereafter, by how much the lower he hath been depressed here.
But to restrain the extravagance of fear, let him be reminded of the terms of the Gospel:--that it is a covenant of grace and mercy to all: that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners:" that he continues our " Advocate in heaven," and daily "intercedes" with his Father for us: that the whole heavenly host rejoices at the conversion of a sinner: that the angels are deputed by God, to be our guardians against violent surprises and temptations: that there are different degrees of glory in heaven; so that, if we arrive not at the greatest, we may yet hope, by divine mercy, that we should not be excluded the less: that God hath promised to hear the "prayers of the righteous" for his servants: that he labours with us by his Spirit, and as it were "beseeches us, in Christ's stead, to be reconciled to him," 2 Cor. v. 20: that, of all his attributes, he glories in none so much as
10. When the spiritual man hath thus discharged his duty, and the sick hath made himself
in the titles of mercy and forgiveness: that therefore we do injustice to the Father of mercies, if we retain such hard thoughts and suspicions of him: that God calls upon us to forgive our brother "seventy times seven;" and yet all that is but like the forgiving "an hundred pence," for his sake, who forgives us "ten thousand talents:" and therefore if we are ordered to show such an unrestrained temper of forgiveness, it is only to animate us to trust in God's much more unbounded mercy.
By these and the like arguments, the spiritual man may raise the drooping spirits of good men, in their causeless dejections. But because there are many other cases of the like nature, which the physician of souls will meet with in visiting his neighbours, especially such as are of melancholy dispositions, it may not be improper to mark the principal of them here, and to prescribe the remedies.
Considerations to be offered to Persons under Religious Melancholy.
1. Some truly religious persons are under sad apprehensions of not being in the favour of God, because they find their devotions to be very often cold, their prayers distracted, and their delight in spiritual matters not to be so great and permanent as their pleasure and satisfaction are in the things of the world.
Now to such as have made religion the great business of their lives, who have endeavoured to cure those distracted thoughts they complain of, and to inflame their souls with divine love, it may be offered, that the different degrees of affection with which men serve God, do very often depend upon the difference of their tempers and constitutions; since some are naturally so dull and heavy, as to be little affected with any thing; whilst others are of such a tender make, as to be affected almost with every thing, so as to be soon exalted with joy, or depressed with sorrow: that sickness, losses, and all afflictions, and even religion itself, in its long and continual exercise of self-denial and thoughtfulness, do naturally produce such a tenderness of spirit, that the best of men have never been able at all times to keep their affections at an equal height: that the zeal and warmth with which some are affected, is not always an argument of their goodness: that a sensible pleasure in religious exercises, wherein the passions are affected, is not so acceptable to God as a reasonable service: that distraction of thought in the service of God is owing, for the most part, to bodily weakness; and therefore, if we do not give way to it, but do all we can to suppress those wandering thoughts, we may be assured we shall never be blamed for being subject to that which, by reason of the weakness of our nature, we cannot help: that the first motions of our mind, as it is impossible to hinder them, are reckoned by all divines not to be sinful, provided we do not encourage them.
And to this sad purpose, some have interpreted Rev. xxi. 8, to belong to them, where the fearful are joined together with the most abominable, who shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.
2. Some are extremely dejected, because, upon strict examination of themselves, they find, as they think, all their religion to be owing to their fears; and fear being a slavish and sordid passion, they are apt to conclude, that all those services which are not the result of a more noble principle, will be rejected by God, since, as he is all love, and goodness, and perfection, he will not be pleased, they think, with any sacrifice, but what is offered by love.
To cure the depraved and unhappy notions of such as these, it may be argued that it is plain from Scripture, that the first beginnings of, or movements towards, an holy life, are usually owing to the passion of fear: that to this, both our Saviour and his apostles do all along address themselves in their earnest entreaties of mankind to turn from the ways of sin to God.-"Fear him," saith our Saviour, "who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell," Matth. x. 28; so chap. vi. 15; Mark xvi. 16. And to this purpose the apostle says, "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling," Phil. ii. 12, and 2 Cor. v. 11, "Knowing the terrors of the Lord," saith he, "we persuade men." And in most of the Scripture proofs, we shall find the chief argument of religion to be urged from a fear of punishment for the neglect thereof: so that to be dejected, and render our lives comfortless on this account, were the most unreasonable extravagance; since this were to suppose, that God hath implanted the passion of fear in us in vain; or, what is worse, only to vex and torment us; and that our Saviour and his apostles, persuading us to be religious from the terrors of the Lord, had deceived and misled us.
And as for that text, Rev. xxi. 8" The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone," &c. it is plain, that by the fearful in this place is meant, either such as refuse to embrace the Christian religion, or who, having embraced it, are afraid to continue steadfast to the end, on account of the cross; and therefore cannot be supposed to have any reference to those who are "working out their salvation with fear and trembling," according to the direction of the Gospel. Not but that we are to intermix with this fear an entire love and affection to God, to the utmost of our powers.
3. Some very pious but unhappy persons, are grievously tormented with wicked and blasphemous thoughts, so as to fall under the greatest agonies of mind; and often to be so near distraction, as to choose death rather than life.
For the relief and comfort of these, the minister should suggest to them, that such horrid and frightful thoughts are either occasioned through melancholy prevailing over their spirits, and disordering the frame of their minds; or else from the malice of the devil, and the spirits of darkness, who do all they can to shake our faith, and to embitter the Christian life.
by the gates of hell: that the "same afflictions are accomplished in their brethren which are in the world," who in various kinds are tempted of the tempter; 1 Peter v. 9: that Satan "desired to have St. Peter to sift him as wheat;" Luke xxii. 31: that our Saviour himself was tempted by him, and the best of men have always been most obnoxious to his malice; and that to live in carnal security, without any molestations from him, is the most dangerous state: that the being so much concerned and afflicted at such evil thoughts, is a certain argument of a good disposition, since the wicked and profane are rather pleased than tormented with them.
instruction, that "if any man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a man in the spirit of meekness, considering lest ye also be tempted." The Corinthian Christian committed incest, and was pardoned: and Simon Magus, after he was baptized, offered to commit the sin we call simony, and yet Peter bade him pray for pardon; and Saint James tells us, that "if the sick man send for the elders of the church, and they pray over him, and he confess his sins, they shall be forgiven him;" chap. v. 14.
Arguments of this kind are the most proper to be offered to such unhappy persons: but in case their faith and hope be totally overcome by the devil, and they fall into direct despair, it will be necessary then to endeavour the cure of so great an evil and temptation, by the addition of the following exercise:
That even in the case of very great sins, and great judgments inflicted upon sinners, wise and good men have declared their sense to be, that God vindicated his justice in that temporal punishment; and so it was supposed to have been done in the case of Ananias, &c.: that nothing can be more absurd than to think that so great and good a God, who is só desirous of saving all, as appears by his word, by his sending his Son, by his oaths and promises, by his very nature and daily overtures of mercy, should condemn any, without the greatest provocations of his majesty, and perseverance in them.
An Exercise against Despair.
Upon the strength of these arguments, the despairing person may be further taught argue thus with himself:
Let the minister suggest to them, that God is not willing that any should perish, but desirous that all should come to his glory: that for this end we were created: that he is so far from being "extreme to mark what is done amiss," that he will not refuse the returning prodigal, nor reject the worst of criminals, upon their sincere repentance: that the thief upon the cross is a demonstrable proof of this, and a standing example to prevent the greatest sinner from despair: that if God is so merciful and condescending to the vilest transgressors, much rather may we hope to be pardoned for our weakness and infirmities: for he "knoweth whereof we are made, he remembereth that we are but dust:" nay, he hath assured us, that he "will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax :" that all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, except one, which is the sin against the Holy Ghost; "the sin unto death," as Saint John calls it. But that no man commits a sin against the Holy Ghost, if he be afraid he hath, or desires that he may not; for such penitential passions are against the very nature and definition of that sin: that although forgiveness of sins is consigned to us in baptism, and baptism is but once; yet, forgiveness of sins being the special grace of the Gospel, it is secured to us for our life, and ebbs and flows ac-him our nature, and live and die in the most igcording as we discompose or renew the perform-nominious state of it, than that a sinful man, ance of our baptismal vow; therefore it is certain, washed by the blood of Christ, and his own tears that no man ought to despair of pardon, but he who and humiliation, should be admitted to pardon, and hath voluntarily renounced his baptism, or wil- made "partaker of the kingdom of heaven:" and lingly estranged himself from that covenant: that it were stranger yet, that he should do so much if it were not so, then all preaching and prayers for man, and that a man that desires, that labours were in vain, and all the conditions of the Gospel after it to the utmost of his power, that sends up invalid, and there could be no such thing as repent- strong cries and prayers, and is still within the ance, nor indeed scarce a possibility of any one's covenant of grace, should inevitably miss that end being saved, if all were to be concluded in a state for which our Saviour did and suffered so much. of damnation, who had committed sin after baptism.
I consider that the ground of my trouble is my sin; and were it not for that, I should have no reason to be troubled; but since the "whole world lieth in wickedness," and since there cannot be a greater demonstration of a man's abhorrence of sin, than to be so deeply affected with sorrow for it; I therefore will erect my head with a holy hope, and think that God will also be merciful to me a sinner, as he is to the rest of mankind. I know that the mercies of God are infinite; that he sent his Son into the world on purpose to redeem such as myself; and that he hath repeatedly promised "to give to them that ask, and to be found of them that seek him ;" and therefore I will not distrust his goodness, nor look upon the great God of heaven and earth to be worse than his word. Indeed, if from myself I were to derive my title to heaven, then my sins were a just argument of despair: but now that they bring me to Christ, that they drive me to an appeal to God's mercy, they cannot infer a just cause of despair. I am sure it is a stranger thing, that the Son of God should come down from heaven, and take upon
To have any fears, therefore, on this account, were the most extravagant madness: for Christ "died for sinners," and "God hath comprehended all under sin, that" through him "he might have mercy upon all;" Rom, xi. 32. And it was concerning baptized Christians, that Saint John said, "If any man sin we have have an Advocate with the Father, and He is the propitiation for our sins;" and concerning lapsed Christians, Saint Paul gave
It is certain, that of all the attributes that belong to God, there is none more essential to his nature, and which he takes more delight in, than his mercy; and it is as certain also, there must be proper objects for this boundless and immense attribute of God; and the most proper, if not only, objects of mercy in the creation, are the children of men; and of men, surely those who are most grieved and wearied with the burthen of their sins. I, therefore, who am as pitiful an object of mercy as any, will cheerfully hope, that Ğod
will both forgive me here, and give me the bless him. And the minister must be infinitely careful, ing of eternal life hereafter: for I know that that he does not attempt to comfort vicious pereternal life is purely the gift of God, and there-sons with the comfort of God's elect, lest he prosfore have less reason still to despair. For if my titute holy things, and encourage vice, and render sins were fewer, and my unworthiness of such a his discourses deceitful; and the man unhappily glory were less, yet still I could not receive it but find them to be so when he descends into the reas a free gift and donation of God, and so I may gions of darkness. now; and it is not expectation beyond the hopes of possibility, to look and wait for such a gift at the hands of the God of mercy. The best of men deserve it not; and I, who am the worst, may have it given me. I know that I have sinned grievously and frequently against my heavenly Father: but I have repented, I have begged pardon, I have confessed and forsaken my sins, and have done all that is possible for me to make atonement. I cannot undo what is done; and I perish, if there be no such thing as a remedy, or remission of sins. But then I know my religion must perish together with my hope, and the word of God itself must fail as well as I. But I cannot, I dare not entertain such a thought. I firmly believe that most encouraging article of faith, the remission of sins; and since I do that which all good men call repentance, I will also humbly hope for a remission of mine, and a joyful resur
I know that the devil is continually lying in wait to seduce and destroy the souls of men; wherefore I will fortify my spirits, and redouble my guard, and call upon God to enable me to sist all the fiery darts of this malicious adver
But because very few are tempted with too great fears of miscarrying, but the generality even of the most profligate sort, are rather inclined to unwarrantable assurances of their future salvation, it will highly concern the ministers to prevent in time so great and reigning an imposition of the devil.
Considerations against Presumption.
AND here, let the bold and arrogant sinner further know, that a man cannot think too meanly of himself, but may very easily run into the contrary extreme: that the growths in grace are long, re-difficult, uncertain, often interrupted, consisting of great variety, and almost innumerable parts and distinctions, which a careless person can never discover; that the more a man presumes, the greater reason he hath to fear; because the confidence of such men is generally like that of children and young people, who have no other reason, but that they understand not the dangers and follies of their self-conceits: that "the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;" deceiving itself, and deceiving others, in innumerable instances; and being often "in the gall of bitterness," when the man appears with the fairest outside to the world: that it is certain, all "have sinned and come short of the glory of God;" but not so certain, that any one's repentance is real, and effective to salvation: that virtue and vice are oftentimes so near neighbours, that we pass into each other's borders without observation, and think we do justice, when we are cruel; or call ourselves liberal, when we are loose and foolish in our expenses, &c.
That the self-accusing publican was justified, rather than the self-confident Pharisee: that if Adam in Paradise, David in his house, Solomon in the temple, Peter in the family of Christ, Judas among the twelve apostles, and Nicholas among the deacons, and if the angels in heaven itself, did fall so atrociously, then we have all the reason in the world "not to be high minded, but to fear;" and when we are most confident of ourselves, "to take heed lest we fall;" there being nothing so likely to occasion it, as pride and a great opinion of ourselves, which ruined the angels, which God resists, which all men despise, and which betray us into carelessness, and a wretched, undiscerning, and unwary spirit.
Or perhaps this exceeding dejection, or malady of mind, may arise from the distemper and weakness of my body; or at most, I hope, it is only a disease of judgment, not an intolerable condition, I am fallen into: and since I have heard of a great many others who have been in the same condition with myself, and yet recovered, I will also take courage to hope that God will relieve me in his good time, and not leave my soul for ever in this hell of depraved fancy and wicked imagination. In fine, I will raise up my dejected spirits, and cast all my care upon God, and depend upon him for the event, which I am sure will be just; and I cannot but think, from the same reason, full of mercy. However, now I will use all the spiritual arts of reason and religion, to make me more and more desirous of loving God: that if I miscarry, charity also shall fail, and something that loves God shall perish, and be damned: which if it be impossible (as I am sure it is,) then I may have just reason to hope I shall do well.
These considerations may be of service to "bind up the broken hearted," and to strengthen the "bruised reed," of a good man's spirit, in so great and terrible a dejection. But as cases of this nature are very rare, so the arguments here made use of are rarely to be insisted upon; and never, but to well-disposed persons, or reformed penitents, or to such as in the general course of their life, have lived pretty strictly, and conformably to the rules of religion. For if the man be a vicious person, and hath gone on in a continual course of sin, to the time of his sickness, these considerations are not proper. Let him inquire, in the words of the first disciples after Pentecost, "Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?" And if we can but entertain so much hope, as to enable him to do as much of his duty as he can for the present, it is all that can be provided for
Wherefore, to the former considerations to awaken the careless sinner and a stupid conscience, the following may be added, upon occasion, to check the overweening thoughts of the presumptuous.
These are the main parts of ecclesiastical duties and offices in the visitation of the sick; which being severally performed, as occasion requires, it remains only that the minister pray over the sick, and remind him to do all the good actions he is
capable of; to call upon God for pardon; to put his whole trust in him; to be patient and resigned; and even to renounce every ill-thought or word, or indecent action, which the violence of his sickness may have caused in him; to beg of God to give him his Holy Spirit to guide him in his agony, and to send his holy angels to guard him in his passage.
Let us lay our hand upon our mouth, and adore the mysteries of the divine wisdom and providence, and pray to God to give the dying man rest and pardon; and to ourselves grace to live well, and the blessings of a holy and happy death.
Whatsoever is besides this, concerns the standers-by, that they do all in their respective offices diligently and temperately; that they join in prayer with the minister, with much charity and devotion; that they make no outcries or exclamations on the departure of the soul, nor any positive judgment concerning the dying man, by his dying quietly or violently, with great fears or a cheerful confidence, with sense or without, like a lamb or like a lion, with convulsions and terriblerection to him; that the sense of his weakness agonies, or like the silent and well-spent flame of may add strength to his faith, and seriousness to an expiring taper. For these may happen seve his repentance: that, if it shall be thy good plearally, according to the constitution of the persons, sure to restore him to his former health, he may and the nature of the distemper that befalls them; lead the residue of his life in thy fear, and to thy or else according as God pleases to dispense the glory: or else give him grace so to take thy visitagrace, or the punishment, for reasons only known tion, that, after this painful life is ended, he may to himself. Christ our Lord. Amen. dwell with thee in life everlasting; through Jesus
and Saviour; extend thy accustomed goodness to HEAR ús, Almighty and Most Merciful God this thy servant, who is grieved with sickness. Sanctify, we beseech thee, this thy fatherly cor
VISITATION OF THE SICK.
When any person is sick, notice shall be given thereof to the Minister of the parish, who coming into the sick Person's house, shall say,
PEACE be to this house, and to all that dwell in it. When he cometh into the sick man's presence, he shall say, kneeling down;
REMEMBER not, Lord, our iniquities, nor the iniquities of our forefathers. Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, and be not angry with us
Then the Minister shall say,
Lord, have mercy upon us.
OUR Father, which art in heaven; Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Minister. O Lord, save thy servant,
Min. Be unto him, O Lord, a strong tower,
O LORD, look down from heaven; behold, visit, the eyes of thy mercy; give him comfort and sure and relieve this thy servant. Look upon him with confidence in thee; defend him from the danger of the enemy, and keep him in perpetual peace and safety, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then shall the Minister exhort the sick Person after
this form, or other like.
DEARLY beloved, know this, that Almighty God is the Lord of life and death, and of all things to them pertaining; as youth, strength, health, age, weakness, and sickness. Wherefore, whatsoever your sickness is, know you certainly, that it is God's visitation. And for what cause soever this sickness is sent unto you; whether it be to try your patience; for the example of others; increase of glory, and endless felicity; or else it be and that your faith may be found in the day of the Lord, laudable, glorious, and honourable, to the ther: know you certainly, that if you truly resent unto you, to correct and amend in you whatsoever doth offend the eyes of your heavenly Fapent of your sins, and bear your sickness patiently, Christ's sake, and render unto him humble thanks trusting in God's mercy for his dear Son Jesus for his fatherly visitation, submitting yourself wholly unto his will, it shall turn to your profit, and help you forward in the right way that leadeth unto everlasting life.
If the Person visited be very sick, then the Curate may end his exhortation in this place, or else proceed.
TAKE, therefore, in good part, the chastisement of the Lord; for (as St. Paul saith, in the twelfth chapter to the Hebrews,) "whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth; and scourgeth every son whom he with you as with sons; for, what son is he whom receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh, which corrected us, and we gave them reverence; shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily, for a few days, chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." Scriptures for our comfort and instruction, that These words (good brother) are written in holy we should patiently and with thanksgiving bear our Heavenly Father's correction, whensoever, by