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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.
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.
Considerations against presumption.
AND here let the bold and arrogant sinner farther know that a man cannot think too meanly of himself, but many very easily run into the contrary extreme that the growths in grace are long, difficult, uncertain, often interrupted, consisting of great variety, and almost innumerable parts and distinctions, which a careless person can never dis cover 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 in stances; 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 bor ders 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.
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 pas
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 cheer. ful confidence, with sense or without, like a lamb or like a lion, with convulsions and terrible agonies, or like the silent and well-spent flame of an expirngtaper. For these may happen severally, accordingly to the constitution of the persons, and the nature of the distemper that befalls them; or else according as God pleases to dispense the grace, or the punishment, for reasons only known to himself.
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.
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 for
Answer. Spare us, good Lord.
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 us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Minister. O Lord, save thy servant,
Answer. Which putteth his trust in thee.
Min. O Lord, hear our prayers:
O LORD, look down from heaven; behold, visit.
and relieve, this thy servant. Look upon him with the eyes of thy mercy; give him comfort and sure 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.
HEAR us, almighty and most merciful God and Saviour; extend thy accustomed goodness to this thy servant, who is grieved with sickness. Sanctify, we beseech thee, this thy fatherly correction to him; that the sense of his weakness may add strength to his faith, and seriousness to his repentance that, if it shall be thy good pleasure to restore him to his former health, he may lead the residue of his life in thy fear, and to thy glory; or else give him grace so to take thy visitation, that, after this painful life is ended, he may dwell with thee in life everlasting; 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; and that your faith may be found in the day of the Lord, laudable, glorious, and honourable, to the increase of glory and endless felicity; or else it be sent unto you, to correct and amend in you whatsoever doth offend the eyes of your heavenly Father: know you certainly that if you truly repent of your sins, and bear your sickness patiently, trusting in God's mercy for his dear Son Jesus Christ's sake, and render unto him humble thanks 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 ex hortation 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 receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for, what son is he whom 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." These words (good brother) are written in Holy Scriptures for our comfort and instruction, that we should patiently and with thanksgiving bear our heavenly Father's correction, whensoever by any manner of adversity it shall please his gracious goodness to visit us. And there should be no greater comfort to Christian persons, than to be made like unto Christ, by suffering patiently adversities, troubles, and sickness. For he himself went not up to joy, but first he suffered pain: he entered not into his glory before he was crucified. So truly, our way to eternal joy, is to suffer here with Christ; and our door to enter into eternal life, is gladly to die with Christ, that we may rise again from death, and dwell with him in everlasting life. Now therefore, taking your sickness, which is thus profitable for you, patiently; I exhort you, in the name of God, to remember the profession which you made unto God in your baptism. And forasmuch as, after this life, there is an account to be given unto the righteous Judge, by whom all must be judged without respect to persons; I require you to examine yourself, and your estate, both towards God and man; so that, accusing and condemning yourself, and your own faults, you may find mercy at your heavenly Father's hand for Christ's sake, and not be accused and condemned in that fearful judgment. Therefore I shall rehearse to you the Articles of our Faith, that you may know whether you believe as a Christian man should, or no.