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Tit. 4. Directions for doing good to others in our Sickness.
The whole life of a Christian should be a serving of his God; and though his body in sickness seem to be unserviceable, yet it is not the least or lowest of his services, which he is then at last to do : partly by his holy example, and partly by his speeches ; which are both more observed in dying men, than in any others. For now all suppose, that if there were before any mask of hypocrisy, it is laid aside, and the soul that is going to the bar of God will deal sincerely. And now it is supposed, that we are delivered much from all the befooling delusions of prosperity, and therefore fitter to be counsellors to others. Christian should be very desirous to do good to the last, and be found so doing.
Direct. I. 'Shew not a distempered, impatient mind.' Though pain will be pain, and flesh will be flesh, yet shew men that you have also reason and spirit : and that it calmeth your soul, though it ease not your body. Speak good of God, as beseemeth one that indeed believeth that it is good for us when we are afflicted by him, and that all shall work together for good to us. Speak not a repining word against him.
“ In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” And speak not too peevishly and impatiently to those about you ; though weakness incline you to it, yet let the power of grace appear. Direct. Ji.
Let those that are about you see, that you take the life to come for a reality, and that you verily expect to live with Christ in joys for ever. Let them see this in your holy joy and confidence, and your thankfulness to God for the grace and hopes which he hath given through Christ.' I know that a pained, languishing body, is undisposed to express the comforts of the soul : but yet as long as the soul is the commander, they may be expressed in some good measure, though not with such vivacity and alacrity as in health. Behave yourselves before all, as those that are going to dwell with Christ. If you shew them that you take heaven for a real felicity, it will do much to draw them to do so too ; shew them the difference between the death of the righteous, and of the wicked; and that may so draw them to desire to die the death of the righteous, that it may
e Job i. 22.
draw them also to resolve to live their lives. How many souls might it win to God, if they saw in his dying servants, such confidence and joy as beseemeth men that are entering into a world of joy, and peace, and blessedness! If we went out of the body, as from a prison into liberty; and from a tedious journey, to our desired home, it would invite sinners to seek after the same felicity, and be a powerful sermon to convert the inconsiderate.
Direct. 111. 'Now tell poor sinners of the vanity of the world, and of all its glory, wealth, and pleasure; and of the mischief and deceitfulness of sin.' Say to them, O sirs, you may see in me what the world is worth : if you had all the wealth and pleasure that you desire, thus it would turn you off, and forsake you in the end : it will ease no pain : it will bring no peace to a troubled soul : it will not lengthen your lives an hour: it will not save you from the wrath of God: it maketh your death the sadder, because you must be taken from it: your account will be the more dreadful. O love not such a vain, deceitful world ! sell not your souls for so poor a price! Forsake it before you are forsaken by it! O make not light of any sin! Though the wanton flesh would have you take it for a harmless thing, you cannot imagine, when the pleasure is gone, how sharp a sting is left behind. Sin will be then no jesting matter, when your souls are going hence, into the dreadful presence of the most Holy God.'
Direct. iv. Now tell those about you of the excellency and necessity of the love of God, of heaven, of Christ, and of a holy life. Though these may be made light of at a distance, yet a soul that is drawing near them, will be more awakened to understand their worth. Say to them, O friends, I find now more than ever I did before, that it is only God, that is the end and happiness of souls : nothing but his favour through Jesus Christ, can comfort and content a dying man; and none but Christ can reconcile us to God, and answer for our sins, and make us acceptable; and no way but that of faith and holiness will end in happiness. Opinions and customary forms in religion will not serve the turn; to be of this or that party, or church, or communion, will not save you. It is only the soul that is justified by Christ, and sanctified by his Spirit, and brought up to the love of God and holiness, that shall be saved. Whatever opinion, or church you are of, without holiness you shall never see God to your comfort, as without faith it is impossible to please him a. O now what a miserable case were I in, if I had all the wealth and honour in the world, and had not the favour of God, and a Christ to purchase it, and his Spirit to witness it, and prepare me for a better life. Now I see the difference between spending time in holiness, and in sin; between a godly, and a worldly, fleshly, careless life. Now I would not for a thousand worlds, that I had spent my life in sensuality and ungodliness, and continued a stranger to the life of faith. Now, if I had a world, I would give it to be more holy! O sirs, believe it, when you come to die, sin will be then sin indeed, and Christ, and grace, will be better than riches, and to die in an unregenerate, unsanctified state, will be a greater misery than any heart can now conceive.'
Direct. v. · Endeavour also to make men know the difference between the godly and the wicked.' Tell them, ' I now see who maketh the wisest choice. O happy men, that choose the joys which have no end, and “ lay up their treasure in heaven, where rust and moths do not corrupt, and thieves do not break through and steal, and labour for the food that never perisheth? O foolish sinners, that for an inch of fleshly, filthy pleasure, do lose everlasting rest and joy! “ What shall it profit them that win all the world, and lose their souls?" ; Direct. vi.
• Labour also to convince men of the preciousness of time, and the folly of putting off repentance, and a holy life, till the last.' Say to them, “O friends, it is' hard for you in the time of health and prosperity, to judge of time according to its worth : but when time is gone, or near an end, how precious doth it then appear! Now if I had all the time again, which ever I spent in unnecessary sleep, or sports, or curiosities, or idleness, or any needless thing, how highly should I value it, and spend it in another manner than I have done! Of all my life that is past and gone, I have no comfort now in the remembrance of one hour, but what was spent in obedience to God. .O take time to make sure of your salvation, before it is gone, and you are left under the tormenting feeling of your loss.'
d Heb. xii. 14. xi. 6. Rom. vüi. 6. 7. 9. e Matt. vi. 19, 20. John ri. 27.
Direct. vir. Labour also to make them understand the sinfulness of sloth, and of loitering in the matters of God, and their salvation; and stir them up to do it with all their might.' Say to them, ' I have often heard ungodly people, deride or blame the diligence, and zeal, and strictness of the godly: but if they saw and felt, what I see and feel, they could not do it. Can a man that is going into another world, imagine that any thing is so worthy of his greatest zeal and labour, as his God and his salvation? Or blame men for being loath to burn in hell ? Or for taking more pains for their souls, than for their bodies? O friends, let fools talk what they will, in their sleep and phrenzy, as you love your souls, do not think any care, or cost, or pains too great for your salvation! If they think not their labour too good for this world, do not you think yours too good for a better world. Let them now say what they will, when they come to die, there is none of them all, that is not quite forsaken of sense and reason, but will wish that they had loved God, and sought and served him, not formally, in hypocritical compliment, but with all their heart, and soul, and might.'
Direct. viii. · Labour also to fortify the minds of your friends, against all fears of suffering for Christ, and all impatience in any of their afflictions.' Say to them, “The sufferings as well as the pleasures of this life are so short, that they are not worthy once to be compared with the durable things of the life to come. If I have passed through a life of want and toil, if my body hath endured painful sickness, if I have suffered never so much from men, and been used cruelly for the sake of Christ, what the worse am I now, when all is past? Would an easy, honourable, plentiful life, have made my death either the safer or the sweeter? O no! it is the things eternal that are indeed significant and regardable. Neither pleasure nor pain, that is short, is of any great regard. Make sure of the everlasting pleasures, and you have done your work. O live by faith, and not by sense; look not at the temporal things which are seen. It is not your concernment, whether you are rich or poor, in
honour or dishonour, in health or sickness; but whether you be justified, and sanctified, and shall live with God in heaven for ever. Such serious counsels of dying men, may make their sickness more fruitful than their health.
Directions to the Friends of the Sick, that are about them.
Direct. 1. When you see the sickness or death of friends, take it as God's warning to you, to prepare for the same yourselves.' Remember that thus it must be with you: thus are you like to lie in pain ; and thus will all the world forsake you, and nothing of all your honour or wealth, will afford you any comfort. This will be the end of all your pleasures, of your greatness, and your houses, and lands, and attendance; and of all your delicious meats and drinks; and of all your mirth, and play and recreations. Thus must your carcases be forsaken of your souls, and laid in a grave, and there lie rotting in the dark; and your souls appear before your Judge, to be sentenced to their endless state. This certainly will be your case : and O how quickly will it come! Then, what will Christ and grace be worth? Then, nothing but the favour of God can comfort you. Then, whether will it be better to you, to look back on a boly, wellspent life, or upon a life of fleshly ease and pleasure ? Then had you rather be a saint, or a sensualist? Lay this to heart, and let the house of mourning make you better, and live as one that looks to die.
Direct. II. * Use the best means for the recovery of the sick, which the ablest physicians shall advise you to, as far as you are able.' Take heed of being guilty of the pride and folly of many self-conceited, ignorant persons, who are ready to thrust every medicine of their own, upon their friends in sickness, when they neither know the nature of the sickness, or the cure. Many thousands are brought to their death untimely, by the folly of their nearest friends, who will needs be medicining them, and ruling them, and despising the physician ; as if they were themselves much