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work together for his good, if he sincerely labour to make a sanctified use of God's visitation, neither despising his chastening, nor waxing weary of his correction.
If he suspect him of ignorance, he shall examine him in the principles of religion, especially touching repentance and faith ; and, as he seeth cause, instruct him in the nature, "use, excellency, and necessity of those graces ; as also touching the covenant of grace ; and Christ the Son of God, the Mediator of it; and concerning remission of sins by faith in him.
He shall exhort the sick person to examine himself, to search and try his former ways, and his estate towards God.
And if the sick person shall declare any scruple, doubt, or temptation, that are upon him, instructions and resolutions shall be given to satisfy and settle him.
If it appear that he hath not a due sense of his sins, endea'vours ought to be used to convince him of his sins, of the guilt and desert of them; of the filth and pollution which the soul contracts by them; and of the curse of the law, and wrath of God, due to them; that he may be truly affect. od with and humbled for them : and withal make known the danger of deferring repentance, and of neglecting salvation at any time offered; to awaken his conscience, and rouse him up out of a stupid and secure condition, to apprehend she justice and wrath of God, before whom none can stand, but he that, lost in himself, layeth hold upon Christ by faith.
If he hath endeavoured to walk in the ways of holiness, and to serve God in uprightness, although not without many failings and infirmities; or, if his spirit be broken with the sense of sin, or cast down through want of the sense of God's favour; then it will be fit to raise him up, by setting before him the freeness and fulness of God's grace, the sufficiency of righteousness in Christ, the gracious offers in the gospel, that all who repent, and believe with all their heart in God's mercy through Christ, renouncing their own righteousness, shall have life and salvation in him. It may be also useful to shew him, that death hath in it no spiritual evil to be feared by those that are in Christ, because sin, the sting of death, is taken away by Christ, who hath delivered all that are his from the bondage of the fear of death, triumphed over the grave, given us victory, is himself, entered into glory to prepare a place for his people : so that neither life nor death shall be
able to separate them from God's love in Christ, in whom such are sure, though now they must be laid in the dust, to obtain a joyful and glorious resurrection to eternal life.
Advice also may be given, as to beware of an ill-grounded persuasion on mercy, or on the goodness of his condition for heaven, so to disclaim all merit in himself, and to cast himself wholly upon God for mercy, in the sole merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, who hath engaged himself never to cast off them, who in truth and sincerity come unto him. Care also must be taken that the sick person be not cast down into despair, by such a severe representation of the wrath of God due to him for his sins, as is not mollified by a sensible propounding of Christ and his merit for a door of hope to every penitent believer.:
When the sick person is best composed, may be least disturbed, and other necessary offices about him least hindered, the minister, if desired, shall pray with him, and for him, to this effect:
Confessing and bewailing of sin original and actual; &6
the miserable condition of all by nature, as being children " of wrath, and under the curse ; acknowledging that all "diseases, sicknesses, death, aod hell itself, are the proper ** issues and effects thereof: imploring God's mercy for the * sick person, through the blood of Christ; beseeching that “ God would open his eyes, discover unto him his sins,
cause him to see himself, lost in himself, make known to * him the cause why God smiteth him, reveal Jesus Christ “ to his soul for righteousness and life, give unto him his "Holy Spirit, to create and strengthen faith to lay hold upon “ Christ, to work in him comfortable evidences of bis love, " to arm him against temptations, io take off his heart from " the world, to sanctify his present visitation, to furnish him
with patience and strength to bear it, and to give him perseverance in faith to the end.
"That, if God shall please to add to his days, he would “ vouchsafe to bless and sanctify all means of his recovery ; "to remove the disease, renew his strength, and enable him " to walk worthy of God, by a faithful remembrance, and “ diligent observing of such vows and promises of holiness “ and obedience, as men are apt to make in times of sick
ness, that he may glorify. God in the remaining part of * his life.
“ And, if God have determined to finish his days by the “ present visitation, he may find such evidence of the pardon 6 of all his sins, of his interest in Christ, and eternal life by “ Christ, as may cause his inward man to be renewed, while “ his outward man decayeth ; that he may behold death “ without fear, cast himself wholly upon Christ without “ doubting, desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, and « so receive the end of his faith, the salvation of his soul, " through the only merits and intercession of the Lord Jesus * Christ, our alone Saviour and all-sufficient Redeemer.”,
The minister shall admonish him also (as there shall be cause) to set his house in order, thereby to prevent inconveniences ; to take care for payment of his debts, and to make restitution or satisfaction where he hath done any wrong; to be reconciled to those with whom he hath been at variance, and fully to forgive all men their trespasses against him, as he expects forgiveness at the hand of God.
Lastly, The minister may improve the present occasion, to exhort those about the sick person to consider their own mortality, to return to the Lord, and make peace with him; in health to prepare for sickness, death, and judgment; and all the days of their appointed time so to wait until their change come, that when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, they may appear with him in glory.
Concerning Burial of the Dead.
dy, upon the day of burial, be decently attended from the house to the place appointed for publick burial, and there immediately interred without any ceremony.
And because the customs of kneeling down, and praying by or towards the dead corpse, and other such usages, in the place where it lies, before it be carried to burial, are supersticious; and for that praying, readiog, and singing, both in going to, and at the grave, have been grossly abused, are no way beneficial to the dead, and have proved many ways hurtful to the living ; therefore let all such things be laid aside.
Howbeit, we judge it very convenient that the Christian friends, which accompany the dead body to the place appointed for publick burial, do apply themselves to meditations apd conferences suitable to the occasion; and that the
minister, as upon other occasions, so at this time, if he be present, may put them in remembrance of their duty.
That this shall not extend to deny any civil respects or deferences at the burial, suitable to the rank and condition of the party deceased, whiles he was living.
Concerning Publick solemn Fasting.
W , ,
THEN some great and notable judgments are either some extraordinary provocations notoriously deserved ; as also when some special blessing is to be sought and obtained, publick solemn fasting (which is to continue the whole day) is a duty that God expecteth from that nation or people.
A A religious fast requires total abstinence, not only from all food, (unless bodily weakness do manifestly disable from holding out till the fast be ended, in which case somewhat may be taken, yet very sparingly, to support nature, when ready to faint,) but also from all worldly labour, discourses, and thoughts, and from all bodily delights, and such like, (although at other times lawful,) rich apparel, ornaments, and such like, during the fast; and much more from whatever is in the nature or use scandalous and offensive, as gaudish attire, lascivious habits and gestures, and other vanities of either sex ; which we recommend to all ministers, in their places, diligently and zealously to reprove, as at other times, so especially at a fast, without respect of persons, as there shall be occasion.
Before the publick meeting, each family and person apart are privately to use all religious care to prepare their hearts to such a solemn work, and to be early at the congregation.
So large a portion of the day, as conveniently may be, is to be spent in publick reading and preaching of the word, with singing of psalms, fit to quicken affections suitable to such a duty : but especially in prayer, to this or the like effect:
“ Giving glory to the great Majesty of God, the Creator, * Preserver, and supreme Ruler, of all the world, the better
to affect us thereby with an holy reverence and awe of him; “ acknowledging his manifold, great, and tender mercies, “ especially to the church and nation, the more effectually
to soften and abase our hearts before him ; humbly con"fessing of sins of all sorts, with their several aggravations; “ justifying God's righteous judgments, as being far less than " our sins do deserve; yet humbly and earnestly imploring “ his mercy and grace for ourselves, the church and nation, " for our king, and all in authority, and for all others for “ whom we are bound to pray, (according as the present exi
gent requireth,) with more special importunity and en“ largement than at other times; applying by faith the promi"ses and goodness of God for pardon, help, and deliverance " from the evils felt, feared, or deserved ; and for obtaining " the blessings which we need and expect; together with a “ giving up of ourselves wholly and for ever unto the Lord."
Io all these, the ministers, who are the mouths of the people unto God, ought so to speak from their hearts, upon serious and thorough premeditation of them, that both them, selves and their people may be much affected, and even melt; ed thereby, especially with sorrow for their sins; that it may be indeed a day of deep humiliation and afflicting of the soul.
Special choice is to be made of such scriptures to be read, and of such texts for preaching, as may best work the hearts of the hearers to the special business of the day, and most dispose them to humiliation and repentance : insisting most on those particulars which each minister's observation and experience tells him are most conducing to the edification and reformation of that congregation to which he preacheth.
Before the close of the publick duties, the minister is, in his own and the people's names, to engage his and their hearts to be the Lord's, with professed purpose and resolution to reform whatever is amiss among them, and more particularly such sins as they have been more remarkably guilty of; and tu draw near unto God, and to walk more closely and faithfully with him in new obedience, than ever before.
He is also to admonish the people, with all importunity, that the work of that day doth not end with the publick duties of it, but that they are so to improve the remainder of the day, and of their whole life, in reinforcing upon themselves and their families in private all those godly affections and resolutions which they professed in publick, as that they may be settled in their hearts for ever, and themselves may more sensibly find that God hath smelt a sweet savour in Christ from their performances, and is pacified towards them, by answers of grace, in pardoning of sin, in removing of
dgments, in averting or preventing of plagues, and in con