Page images

wiser than he, when they are merely ignorant of what they do. As ignorant sectaries despise divines, and set up themselves as better preachers, so many silly women despise physicians; and when they have got a few medicines, which: they know not the nature of, nor how to use, they take themselves for the better physicians, and the lives of their poor friends must pay for their pride and folly. No means must be trusted to instead of God, but the best must be used in subservience unto God. And one would think that a small measure of wit and hymility might serve to make silly, women understand, that they that never bestowed one year in the study of physic, are not so likely to understand it, as those that have studied and practised it a great part of their lives. It is sad to see people kill their dearest friends in kindness; even by that ignorance and proud selfconceitedness, which also maketh them the destroyers of their own souls.

Quest. I. ' But seeing God hath appointed all men's time, what good can physic do? If God hath appointed them to live, they shall live; and if he have appointed them to die, it is not physic that can save them.'

Answ. This is the foolish reasoning of wicked people about their salvation. If God have appointed me to salvation, I shall be saved ; if he have not, all my diligence will do no good. But such people know not what they talk of. God hath made your duty more open and known to you, than his own decrees : and you separate those things which he hath joined together: as God hath appointed no man to salvation simply, without respect to the means of salvation; so God hath appointed no man to live, but by the means of life. His decree is not, ‘Such a man shall be saved,' or, Such a man shall live so long,' only; but this is his decree, Such a man shall be saved, in the way of faith and holiness, and in the diligent use of means,' and, 'Such a man shall live so long, by the use of those means which I have fitted for the preservation of his life.' So that as he that liveth a holy life, may be sure he is chosen to salvation, (if he persevere) and he that is ungodly, may be sure that he is in the way to hell; so he that neglecteth the means of his health and life, doth shew that it is unlike that God hath appointed him to live: and he that useth the best means is more likely to recover, (though the best will not cure incurable diseases, nor make a man immortal.) The reasoning is the same, as if you should say, 'If God have appointed me to live so long, I shall live though I neither eat or drink : but if he have not, eating and drinking will not prolong, my life.' But you must know, that God doth not only appoint you to live, that is but half his decree, but he decreeth, “That you shall live by eating and drinking.'

Direct. 111. ' Mind your friends betimes to make their wills, and prudently by good advice to settle their estates, that they may leave no occasion of contending about it, when they are dead.' This should be done in health, because of the uncertainty of life: but if it be undone till sickness, it should then be done betimes. The neglect of it, oft causeth much sinful contending about worldly things, even among those near relations, who should live in the greatest amity and peace.

Direct. iv. Keep away vain company from them, as far as you can conveniently' (except it be such as must needs be admitted, or such as are like to receive any good by the holy counsel of the sick). It is a great annoyance to one that is near death, to hear people talk to little purpose, about the world, or some impertinencies ; when they are going speedily to their endless state, and have need of no more impediments in their way ; but of the best assistance that their friends can afford them. Procure some able, faithful minister to be with them, to counsel them about the state of their souls: and get some holy, able Christians to be much about them, who are fit to pray with them, and instruct them.

Direct. v. Bear with their impatience, and grudge not at any trouble that they put you to.' Remember that weakness is froward, and as you bear with the crying of children, so must you with the peevishness of the sick; and remember, that shortly it is like to be your own case, and you must be a trouble to others, and they must bear with

you. Be not weary of your friends in sickness; but loving, and tender, and compassionate, and patient.

Direct. vi. * Deal faithfully and prudently with them about the state of their souls. Your faithfulness must be shewed in these two points. I. That you do not flatter them with vain hopes of life, when they are more likely to die. 2. That you do not flatter them with false persuasions that their state is safe, when they are yet unsanctified, nor put them in hopes of being saved without regeneration.

Your prudence must be manifested, 1. In suiting your counsel, and speeches, and prayers to their state ; and not using the same words to the ungodly, as you would to the godly. 2. In so contracting your counsel for the conversion of the ungodly, as not to overwhelm them with more than they can bear; and yet not to leave out any point of absolute necessity to salvation. Alas, how much skill doth such a work require ? And how few Christians, (that I say not, pastors) are fit for it.

Quest. 1. ' But is it a duty when the sick are like to die, to make it known to them ?'

Answ. Sometimes it is, and sometimes not. 1. Some sicknesses are such, as will be so increased with fear, that the patient that before was in hope of a recovery, will be put almost past hope. And some sicknesses are much different, and are not like to be so increased by it. And some are past all hope already. 2. Some are so prepared to die, that they have the less need to be acquainted with their danger : and some are unconverted, and in so dangerous a case, that the absolute necessity of their souls may require it. When the soul is in so sad a case, and yet the body may be endangered by the fear of the sentence of death, it is the safest course to tell them, “That though God may recover them, yet their disease is so dangerous, as calleth for their speedy and serious preparation for death; which will not be lost, if God restore them.' So that they may have so much hope, as to keep their fear from killing them, and so much acquaintance with their danger, as may put them upon their duty. But in case there be already little or no hope, or in case the disease will be but little increased by the fear (which is the case of the most) the danger should not at all be hid.

Quest. 11. "Am I always bound to tell a wicked man of his sin and misery, when it may exasperate his disease, and offend his mind ?'

Answ. If it were a sickness that is void of danger, in case his mind be quiet, and be like to kill him if his mind be disturbed, then it were the most prudent course to call him so far to repentance and faith, as you can do it without any dangerous disturbance of him; because it is most charity to his soul to help him to a longer time of repentance, rather than to lay all the hopes of his salvation upon the present time. But this is not an ordinary case; therefore ordinarily it is a duty to acquaint the sick person, that is yet in his sin, and unregenerate state, with the truth of his danger, and the necessity of renovation. Alas! it is a lamentable kind of friendship, to flatter a poor soul into damnation, or to hide his danger till he is past recovery. When he is in a state of inexpressible misery, and hath but a few days or weeks time left, to do all that ever must be done for his salvation. What horrid cruelty is it then, to let him to go to hell for fear of displeasing or disquieting him !

Object. But I am afraid I shall cast him into despair, if I tell him plainly that he is in a state of damnation.'

Answ. If you let him alone a little longer, he will be in remediless despair. There is no despair remediless, but that in hell. But now you may help to save him, both from present and endless desperation. He must needs despair of ever being saved without a Christ, or without the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, or without true faith and repentance, and love to God, and holiness. But need he despair of attaining all these, while Christ is offered him so freely, and a full remedy is at hand? He must know his sin and misery, or else he is never like to escape it: but he must also be acquainted with the true remedy; and that is your way to keep him from despair, and not by flattering him into hell.

Quest. 111. But what should one do in so short a time, and with dead-hearted sinners ? Alas! what hope is there? If it were nothing but their ignorance, it cannot be cured in a moment. And is there then any hope in so short a space, to bring them to knowledge, and repentance, and a changed heart, to love God and holiness; and that when pain and weakness do disable them?'

Answ. The case indeed is very sad ; but yet while there is life, there is some hope: and while there is any hope, we should do our best, when it is for the saving of a soul; and the difficulty should but stir us up to use our utmost skill and diligence. But as it is the misery of such to delay con


version till so unfit a time, so is it too frequently the sin of believers, that they delay their serious endeavours to convert men, till such a time as they almost despair of the


Quest. IV. But what shall we do in a doubtful case, when we know not whether the person be renewed and truly penitent, or not; which is the case of most that we have to deal with ?'

Answ. You can tell whether the grounds of your hope, or of your fear concerning them, be the greater; and accordingly your speech must be mixed and tempered, and your counsels or comforts given with the conditions and suppositions expressed.

Quest. v. ' But what order would you have us observe in speaking to the ignorant and ungodly, when the time is so short ?'

Answ. 1. Labour to awaken them to a lively sense of the change which is at hand, that they may understand the necessity of looking after the state of their souls. 2. Then shew them what are the terms of salvation, and who they are that the Gospel doth judge to salvation or damnation. - 3. Next advise them to try which of these is their condition, and to deal faithfully, seeing self-flattery may undo them, but can do them no good. 4. Then help them in the trial q. d. “Ifit have been so or so with you, then that this is your case.' 5. Then tell them the reasons of your fears, if you fear they are unconverted, or of your hopes,

you hope indeed that it is better with them. 6. Then exhort them conditionally (if they are yet in a carnal, unsanctified state,) to lament it, and be humbled, and penitent for their sinful and ungodly life. 7. And then tell them the remedy, in Christ and the Holy Ghost, and the promise or covenant of grace. 8. And lastly, tell them their present duty, that this remedy may prove effectual to their salvation. And if you have so much interest or authority as maketh it fit for you, excite them by convenient questions so far to

case, as may


and as by their answers may shew whether they truly resolve for a holy life, if God restore them, and whether their hearts indeed be changed, or not. Direct. VII.

If you are not able to instruct them as you


you may know

« EelmineJätka »