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VISITING THE SICK.
I. RULES FOR VISITING THE SICK.
II. THE OFFICE FOR THE VISITATION OF THE SICK.
III. THE COMMUNION OF THE SICK.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED
THE OFFICES OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE BAPTISM.
WITH ADDITIONS AND ALTERATIONS,
THIS collection has been so much esteemed that it has passed through nine editions. Having now become exceedingly scarce, it was thought proper to reprint it.
The Rules for Visiting the Sick, in five sections, are extracted chiefly from the works of Bishop Taylor. The Occasional Prayers are taken from the devotional tracts of Bishop Patrick, Mr. Ket tlewell, and other pious and judicious divines. But in this Edition, the antiquated style of those writers is corrected and improved; at the same time, a spirit of rational piety, and unaffected simplicity, are carefully preserved.
A prayer by Dr. Stonehouse, and four by Mr. Merrick, the celebrated translator of the Psalms, are added to the old collection.
The offices of Public and Private Baptism, though no ways relating to the Visitation of the Sick, are retained; as, in the present form, they will be convenient for the Clergy in the course of their parochial duty.
VISITING THE SICK;
THE ASSISTANCE THAT IS TO BE GIVEN TO SICK
In all the days of our spiritual warfare, from our baptism to our burial, God has appointed his servants the ministers of the church, to supply the necessities of the people, by ecclesiastical duties; and prudently to guide, and carefully to judge concerning souls committed to their charge.
And, therefore, they who all their lifetime derive blessings from the Fountain of Grace, by the channels of ecclesiastical ministers, ought then more especially to do it in the time of their sickness, when their needs are more prevalent, according to that known apostolical injunction, Is any man sick among you, let him send for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him," &c.
The sum of the duties and offices, respectively implied in these words, may be collected from the following rules.
Rules for the manner of visiting the sick.
I. LET the minister be sent to, not when the sick is in the agonies of death, as it is usual to do, but before his sickness increases too much upon for when the soul is confused and disturbed by the violence of the distemper, and death begins to stare the man in the face, there is little reason to hone for any good effect from the spiritual man's visitation.. For how can any regular administration take place, when the man is all over in a disorder? how can
he be called upon to confess his sins, when his tongue falters, and his memory fails him? how can he receive any benefit by the prayers which are of fered up for him, when he is not able to give attention to them? or how can he be comforted upon any sure grounds of reason or religion, when his reason is just expiring, and all his notions of religion together with it? or when the man, perhaps, had never any real sentiments of religion before?
It is, therefore, a matter of sad consideration, that the generality of the world look upon the minister, in the time of their sickness, as the sure forerun ner of death: and think his office so much relates to another world, that he is not to be treated with, as long as there is any hope of living in this. Whereas it is highly requisite the minister be sent for, when the sick person is able to be conversed with and instructed; and can understand, or be taught to understand, the case of his soul, and the rules of his conscience, and all the several bearings of religion, with respect to God, his neighbour, and himself. For, to prepare a soul for its change is a work of great difficulty; and the intercourses of the minister with the sick have so much variety in them, that they are not to be transacted at once. Some times there is need of special remedies against impatience, and the fear of death; not only to animate, but to make the person desirous and willing to die. Sometimes it is requisite to awaken the conscience by "the terrors of the Lord;" to open by degrees all the labyrinths of sin (those innumerable windings and turnings which insensibly lead men into destruction,) which the habitual sensualist can never be able to discover, unless directed by the particular grace of God, and the assistance of a faithful and judicious guide. Sometimes there is need of the balm of comfort, to pour in "oil and wine" (with the good Samaritan) into the bleeding wound, by representing the tender mercies of God, and the love of his Son Jesus Christ, to mankind; and at other times it will be necessary to reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine :" so that a clergyman's duty, in the visitation of the sick, is not over at once; but at one time De must pray; at another he must assist, advise,
and direct; at another, he must open to him the nature of repentance, and exhort him to a confession of his sins, both to God and man, in all those cases which require it; and, at another time, he must give him absolution, and the sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord.
And, indeed, he that ought to watch all the periods of his life, in the days of his health, lest he should be surprised and overcome, had need, when he is sick, be assisted and called upon, and reminded of the several parts of his duty in every instant of his temptation.
The want of this makes the visitations of the clergy fruitless, because they are not suffered to imprint those proper effects upon the sick, which are needful in so important a ministration.
2. When the minister is come, let him discourse concerning the causes of sickness, and by a general argument move him to a consideration of his condition. Let him call upon him first, in general terms, "to set his house in order," "to trim and adorn his lamp," and "to prepare himself for another world ;" and then let him perform the customary duties of prayer, and afterward descend to all other particulars, as occasion shall offer, and circumstances require.
3. According to the condition of the man, and the nature of his sickness, every act of the visitation is to be proportioned. If his condition be full of pain and infirmity, the exhortation ought to be shortened, and the minister more "instant in prayer;" and the little service the sick man can do for himself should be supplied by the charitable care of his guide, who is in such a case to speak more to God for him than to talk to him: "prayer of the righteous," when it is " fervent," hath a promise to
prevail much in behalf of the sick" person: but exhortations must prevail by their own proper weight, and not by the passion of the speaker; and therefore, should be offered when the sick is able to receive them. And even in this assistance of prayer if the sick man joins with the minister, the prayers should be short, fervent, and ejaculatory, apt rather to comply with his weak condition, than wearisome to his spirits, in tedious and long offices.