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An examination founded on the general confes
Remarks on the figurative expression in the prayer,
on the Scriptural meaning of the words
on the duty of thankfulness for the privilege of receiving the sacrament
on the words pronounced by the minister, when he administers the bread and wine to the communicants
on eating and drinking unworthily, and damnation to ourselves
on the declaration which every communicant makes in effect when he receives the consecrated bread and wine
on the prayer in the Post Communion, beginning "O Lord, and heavenly Father,"
Caution against receiving the sacrament in a careless and customary manner, and behaving inconsistently afterwards
The use and importance of spiritual communion The form (or manner) of receiving the sacrament spiritually
CONVERSATION WITH THE SICK,
N. B. The considerations here suggested have principally a reference to the sick, and are addressed to them under that circumstance; yet, allowing in particular passages for this necessary mode of expression, they may with equal propriety be applied to the use of the generality in their spiritual concerns.
GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE VISITATION
Preparatory Helps for one who visits the Sick, and converses spiritually with others.
SOME preparation before such an one visits the sick is very proper: he should therefore consider what kind of conversation is likely to be most necessary and suitable to the person he visits*.
It would be advisable to have in readiness a collection of Scripture expressions, adapted to the support and comfort of the afflicted, which may easily
* Monsieur Ostervald (a French Protestant Minister, and Professor of Divinity at Neufchatel, in Switzerland) has well observed, that it is something strange that Ministers should take so much care to prepare their discourses for the pulpit, and take so little care to prepare for what they should say to the sick, or how to conduct their visits to them, though it is one of the most difficult and most important offices in the ministry.
Ostervald du Gouvernement de l'Eglise, p. 307.
be collected from Bishop Gastrel's Christian Institutes, and Dr. Clark on the Promises of Scripture. From either of these he may choose such as are most applicable to the case of the person with whom he is to converse.
He should adapt himself to his or her understanding, as well as to the circumstances of the case, by making such observations, and using such expressions, as he knows are most familiar and agreeable. But he must take care to explain any phrases he has reason to think are not rightly understood.
Let his behaviour and conversation be very free, friendly, close, tender, and compassionate.
He should place himself in the condition of the person before him; and then consider in what manner he would wish a minister, or friend, to behave to him in these very circumstances.
Whilst he is tender he should be faithful, and have a respect to the approbation of his conscience afterwards. He, who is a minister of God, must not sacrifice the cause of truth and godliness to a false shame or tenderness.
When he prays with the sick, his prayer should be short, serious, and adapted as much as may be to the state of such an one, and to the danger of his disease. In the visitation of the sick, or in a friendly conversation with any others who want spiritual advice, there is great need of piety, fidelity, and wisdom, in order to sound their consciences, to give them the requisite advice, and to pray with them and for them.
"One of the chief parts of a Minister's duty," (says Bp. Burnet in his Pastoral Care, page 173,) "is visiting the sick: which is not to be done barely "when he is sent for; he is to go as soon as he "hears any of his parishioners are ill."
None who have the care of souls should shun this work of labour and love from a fear, that if
he should go voluntarily, his visit would be considered as an intrusion; and that so far from being acceptable, it might defeat the good intention of it to the sick person. Nay, that he may not seem to feign excuses, or seek pretences to avoid taking any notice of the sick, it may be prudent perhaps to pay one visit of his own accord: and, if he shall perceive that it is not well taken, and that he is not likely to do any good, he may then stay away without any mark of negligence or disgrace. However, in this respect every man's own conscience will direct him.
Remarks on the difficulty of acting in many circumstances relating to the Sick.
It is a most difficult and awful thing to act in many circumstances, which arise on an attendance on the sick. The sick person may deceive himself: a Minister may be deceived. It will therefore be proper to inquire
What are his hopes of salvation?
How they operate in languishing and dying circumstances?
Here leave him room to talk; only interpose proper questions. Take notice what marks there are of ignorance, or mistake, in what he says. Drop proper cautions concerning the deceitfulness of man's heart, and the danger of mistake in this
Reading the Office for the Visitation of the Sick is but a very small part of a Minister's duty. He must go further. It is of the utmost importance. When he visits any one who is sick, he should remember what is recorded in the book of Ezekiel, "His blood will I require at thy hand, &c." (See Ezek. iii. 18-21.)
He should direct the sick (1.) to examine the state of their souls as to faith and practice; (2.) and to