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fruitful at the last.' Though sickness call you not to all the same duties, which were incumbent on you in your health; yet think not therefore, that there is no duty at all expected from the sick. Every season and state hath its peculiar duties (and its peculiar mercies) which it much concerneth us to know. I shall anon tell you more particularly what they
Direct. vii. 'Be specially fortified and vigilant against the most dangerous temptations of satan, by which he useth to assault the sick. Pray now especially, that God would not lead you into temptation, but deliver you from the evil one: for in your weakness you may be less fit to wrestle with them, than at another time. O beg of God, that as he hath upheld you, and preserved you till now, he would not forsake you at last in your extremity. Particularly,
Tempt. 1. One of the most dangerous temptations of the enemy, is, ' To take the advantage of a Christian's bodily weakness, to shake his faith, and question his foundations, and call him to dispute over his principles again, Whether the soul be immortal ? and there be a heaven, and a hell? And whether Christ be the Son of God, and the Scriptures be God's word ?' &c. As if this had never been questioned, and scanned, and resolved before! It is a great deal of advantage that satan expecteth by this malicious course. If he could, he would draw you from Christ to infidelity; but Christ prayeth for you, that your faith may not fail : if he cannot do this, he would at least weaken your faith, and hereby weaken every grace: and he would hereby divert you from the more needful thoughts, which are suitable to your present state; and he would hereby distraet you, and destroy your comforts, and draw you in your perplexities, to dishonour God. Away therefore with these blasphemous and unseasonable motions ; cast them from you, with abhorrence and disdain: it is no time now to be questioning your foundations ; you have done this more seasonably, when you were in a fitter case. A pained, languishing body, and a disturbed, discomposed mind, is unfit upon a surprise, to go back and dispute over all our principles. Tell satan, you owe him not so much service, nor will you so cast away those few hours and thoughts, for which you have so much better work. You have the witness in yourselves, even the Spirit, and image, and seal of God. You have been converted and renewed by the power of that Word, which he would have you question; and you have found it to be owned by the Spirit of grace, who hath made it mighty to pull down the strongest holds of sin. Tell satan you will not gratify him so much, as to turn your holy, heavenly desires, into a wrangling with him about those truths which you have so often proved. You will not question now, the being of that God who hath maintained you so long, and witnessed his being and goodness to you by a life of mercies; nor will you now question the being or truth of him that hath redeemed you, or of the Spirit or Word that hath sanctified, guided, comforted and confirmed you. If he tell you, that you must prove all things, tell him, that this is not now to do; you have long proved the truth and goodness of your God, the mercy of your Saviour, and the power of his holy Spirit and Word. It is now your work to live upon that Word, and fetch your hopes and comforts from it, and not to question it.
a Hic labor extremus, longarum hæc meta xiarum. Vir. Æn. ii. 714.
Tempt. 11. Another dangerous temptation of satan is, * When he would persuade you to despair, by causing you to misunderstand the tenor of the gospel, or by thinking too parrowly and unworthily of God's mercy, or of the satisfaction of Christ. But because this temptation doth usually tend more to discomfort the soul, than to damn it, I shall speak more to it under Tit. 3.
Tempt. III. Another dangerous temptation is, 'When satan would draw you to overlook your sins, and overvalue your graces, and be proud of your good works, and so lay too much of your comfort upon yourselves, and lose the sense of your need of Christ, or usurp any part of his office or his honour. I shall afterward shew you how far you must look at any thing in yourselves : but certainly, that which lifteth you up in pride, or encroacheth on Christ's office, or would draw you to undervalue him, is not of God. Therefore keep humble, in the sense of your sinfulness and unworthiness, and cast away every motion which would carry you away from Christ, and make yourselves, and your works, and righteousness, as a Saviour to yourselves.
Tempt. iy. Another perilous temptation is, ' By causing
the thoughts of death and the grave, and your doubts and fears about the world to come, to overcome the love of God, and (not only the comforts, but also the desires and willingness of your hearts, to be with Christ.' It will abate your love to God and heaven, to think on them with too much estrangedness and terror. The Directions under Tit. 3. will help you against this temptation.
Tempt. v. “Another dangerous temptation is fetched from the remnants of your worldlymindedness; when your dignity, or honour, your house, or lands, your relations and friends, or your pleasures and contentments, are so sweet to you, that you are loath to leave them; and the thoughts of death are grievous to you, because it taketh you from that which you over-love; and God and heaven are the less desired, because you are loath to leave the world. Watch carefully against this great temptation : observe how it seeketh the very destruction of your grace and souls; and how it fighteth against your love to God and heaven, and would undo all that Christ and his Spirit have been doing so long. Observe what a root of matter it findeth in yourselves; and therefore be the more humbled under it.
Learn now what the world is, and how little the accommodations of the flesh are worth; when you perceive what the end of all must be. Would you never die? would you enjoy your worldly things for ever? Had you rather have them, than to live with Christ in the heavenly glory of the New Jerusalem? If you had, it is your grievous sin and folly ; and yet you know that it is a desire that you can never hope to attain. Die you must, whether you will or not! What is it then, that you would stay for? Is it till the world be grown less pleasant to you, and your love and minds be weaned from it? When should that rather be than now ? And what should more effectually do it, than this dying condition that you are in? It is time for you to spit out these unwholesome pleasures; and now to look up to the true, the holy, the unmeasurable, everlasting pleasures.
Tit. 2. Directions how to Profit by our Sickness.
Whether it shall please God to recover you or not, it is no small benefit which you may get by his visitation, if you
do your part, and faithfully improve it, according to these Directions following.
Direct. 1. If you hear God's call to a closer trial of your hearts, concerning the sincerity of your conversion; and thereby are brought to a more exact examination, and come to a truer acquaintance with your state (be it good or bad) the benefit may be exceeding great. For if it be good, you may be much comforted, and confirmed, and fitted to give thanks and praise to God : and if it be bad, you may be awakened speedily to look about you, and seek for a recovery
Direct. 11. 'If in the review of your lives, you find out those sins which before you overlooked, or perceive the greatness of those sins which you before accounted small, the benefit may be very great:' for it will help to a more deep and sound repentance, and to a stronger resolution against all sins, if you recover. And affliction is a very great help to us in this: many a man hath been ashamed and deeply humbled for that same sin, when sickness did awake him, which he could make his play-fellow before, as if there had been neither hurt nor danger in it.
Direct. 111. There is many a deep corruption in the heart, which affliction openeth and discovereth, which deceitfulness hid in the time of prosperity :' and the detecting of these is no small benefit to the soul. When you come to part with wealth and honour, you shall better know how much you loved them, than you could before. Mark therefore what corruptions appear in your affliction, and how the heart discloseth its deceits, that you may know what to repent of, and reform.
Direct. iv. When affliction calleth you to the use and exercise of your graces, you have a great help to be better acquainted with the strength or weakness of them. When you are called so loudly to the use of faith, and love, and patience, and heavenlymindedness, you may better know what measure of every one of these you have, than you could when you had no such help. Mark therefore what your hearts prove in the trial, and what each grace doth shew itself to be, in the exercise.
Direct. v. . You have a very great help now to be thoroughly acquainted with the vanity of the world, and so
to mortify all affections unto the things below.' Now judge of the value of wealth, and honour, of plenty, and high places. Are they a comfort to a dying man that is parting with them? Or is it any grief to a poor man when he is dying, that he did not enjoy them? Is it not easy now to rectify your errors, if ever you thought highly of these transitory things ? O settle it now in your lution, that if God should restore you, you would value this world at a lower rate, and set by it, and seek it, but as deserveth.
Direct. vi. ‘Also you have now a special help to raise your estimation of the happiness of the saints in heaven, and of the necessity and excellency of a holy life, and of the wisdom of the saints on earth; and to know who maketh the wisest choice.' Now you may see that it is nothing but heaven, that is worth our seeking, and that is finally to be trusted to, and will not fail us in the hour of our distress : now you may discern between the righteous and the wicked; between those that serve God and those that serve him notb. Now.judge whether a loose and worldly life, or a holy, heavenly life be better? And resolve accordingly.
Direct. vii. 'You have also now a very great help to discern the folly of a voluptuous life, and to mortify the deeds and desires of the flesh: when God is mortifying its natural desires, it may help you in mortifying its sinful desires.' Now judge what lust, and plays, and gaming, and feasting, and drunkenness, and swaggering, are worth? You see now the end of all such pleasures. Do you think them better than the joys of heaven, and worthy the loss of a man's salvation to attain them? Or better than the pleasures of a holy life?
Direct. viii. ‘Also now you have a great advantage, for the quickening of your hearts that have lost their zeal, and are cold in prayer, and dull in meditation, and regardless of holy conference. If ever you will pray earnestly, sure it will be now; if ever you will talk seriously of the matters of salvation, sure it will be now. Now you do better understand the reason of fervent prayer, and serious religion, and circumspect walking than you did before: and you can easily now confute the scorns, or railings of the loose, un
b Mal. iii. 17, 18.