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to be no sins; such as mispending of their time, whole days or months of useless or impertinent employment, long gaming, winning men's money in great portions, censuring men's actions, curiosity, equivocating in the prices of buying and selling, rudeness in speech or behaviour, speaking uncharitable truths, and the like.
There are some of those artificial veils and coverings, under the dark shadow of which the enemy of mankind makes very many to lie hid from themselves, blinding them with false notions of honour, and the mistaken opinions and practices of the world, with public permission and impunity, or (it may be) a temporal penalty: or else with prejudice, or ignorance and infirmity, and direct error in judgment.
Now, in all these cases, the ministers are to be inquisitive and strictly careful, that such kind of fal. lacies prevail not over the sick ; but that those things, whi:h passed without observation before, may now be brought forth, and pass under the severity of a strict and impartial censure, religious sorrow and condemnation.
4. To this may be added a general display of the neglect and omission of our duty; for in them lies the bigger half of our failings: and yet, in many in stances, they are undiscerned; because our consciences have not been made tender and perceptible of them. But whoever will cast up his accounts, even with a superficial eye, will quickly find that he hath left undone, for the generality, as many things which he ought to have done, as he hath committed those he ought not to have done : such as the neglect of public or private prayer, of reading the Scriptures, and instructing his family, or those that are under him, in the principles of religion: the not discountenancing sin to the utmost of his power, especially in the personages of great men : the not“ redeeming the time,” and “grow. ing in grace," and doing aïl the good he can in his generation : the frequent omissions of the great du. ty of charity, in visiting the sick, relieving the needy, and comforting the afflicted: the want of obedience, duty, and respect, to parents : the doing the work of God negligently, or not discharging
himself with that fidelity, care, and exactness, .. which is incumbent upon him, in the station wherein the providence of God hath placed him, &c.
5. With respect to those sins which are commitagainst man, let the minister represent to the sick man that he can have no assurance of his pardon, unless he is willing to make all suitable amends and satisfaction to his offended and injured brethren; as for instance, if he hath lived in enmity with any, that he should labour to be reconciled to them; if he is in debt, that he should do his utmost to discharge it; or if he hath injured any one in his substance or credit, that he should endeavour to make restitution in kind for the one, and all possible satisfaction for the other, by humbling himself to the offended person, and beseeching him to forgive him.
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 temptation, 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 Apostles' Creed.
8. With respect to his temporal concerns, the sick is to be advised to set every thing in order, and (if he hath not already) to make his will as soon as he can. For if he recovers, this cannot be detrimental; but, if he dies, it will be of great comfort and satisfaction to him. And here it must be remembered, that he distribute every thing according to the exact rules of justice, and with such a due care, as to prevent all lawsuits and contentions for the future : and, if he be able, he is to be admonished to do something likewise out of charity, 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 his 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, mav 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.
10. When the spiritual man hath thus discharged his duty, and the sick hath made himself capable of it, by a religious and holy conformity to all the forementioned particulars respecting his condition and circumstances, he may then give him the sacrament of the Lord's supper. And it is the ininister's office to invite sick and dying persons to this holy sacrament, provided they discover a right sense of their duty. And, .
Note, That the holy sacrament is not to be administered to dying persons, when they have no use of their reason to join with the minister in his cele. bration of it. For the sacraments operate not of themselves, but as they are made efficacious by the joint consent and will, and religious acts and devotion, of the party that receives them. And therefore all fools, and distracted persons, and children, and lethargical and apoplectical people, or that are any ways senseless and incapable of human and reasonable acts, are to be assisted only by prayers.
Note also, That in cases of necessity, where the $ącrament 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, ani 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.
SECT IV. of applying spiritual remedies to the unreasonable
fears and dejections of the sick. IT sometimes happens that good men, especially such as have tender consciences, impatient of the least sin, to which they are arrived by a long habit of grace, and a continual observation of their ways, overact their part, and turn their tenderness into scruples, and are too much dejected and doubt
ful concerning their future salvation. In such a ( case, the minister is to represent to them, that the
man who is jealous of himself, is always in the safest condition; that, if he fears on his death-bed, it is but what happens to most considering men ;
and that therefore to fear nothing then, is either a 1 singular felicity, or a dangerous presumption. in But to restrain the extravagance of fear, let him
be reminded of the terms of the gospel :--that it is ť a covenant of grace and mercy to all: that “ Christ ; Jesus came into the world to save sinners :" that the continues " our advocate in heaven," and daily
"intercedes” with his Father for us : that the whole
heavenly host rejoices at the conversion of a sini ner: 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 muy 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 in the titles of mercy and forgiveness : that therefore we do injustice io 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 “ a 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 phy. sician of souls will meet with in visiting his neighbours, especially such as are of melancholy dispositions, it may not be improper to mark the princi. pal 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 of fered, 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