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A. The exercise of trust in God upon a sick-bed consists in allaying the apprehension of future evil, by the consideration that we are in the hands of an infinitely good and gracious God, who will lay no more upon us than we are able so bear; and who will, in his good time, either remove what afflicts us, or give us grace to improve it to our spiritual welfare and happiness. Trust in God during sickness, should also allay our anxiety concerning our families; for, should we be taken from them, we leave them under the protection of the providence of God, whose blessing is the richest portion, and without which the best human provision is no security for prosperity or happiness.
Q. How should we exercise thankfulness on a sick-bed?
A. A thankful disposition will lead us to acknowledge that we suffer less than we deserve, and that our sufferings are the merciful visitations of God, who designs by them to awaken and cherish our spiritual graces and virtues: it will lead us to acknowledge the goodness of God, in all the part ticular comforts and attentions which we may enjoy in our sickness.
Q. What are the exercises of devotion proper for a sick-bed?
A. When visited with sickness, we should endeavour to maintain a pious and devout frame of mind; sending up secret ejaculations to God, adoring his goodness, imploring his blessing on the means used for our recovery, and humbly beseeching him to inspire us with submission, and to strengthen and console us by the secret but powerful influences of his
Above all, we should seek the assistance of a minister of the Church, to offer up our prayers, and to administer to us the most comfortable sacrament of the body and blood of Christ; that, enlivened and strengthened by this divine Viaticum, we may be supported under all the pains of sickness, and joyfully pass, when God calls us, through the dark valley of the shadow of death.
Q. Wherein consists the happiness of the death of the righteous ?
A. The happiness of the death of the righteous does not consist in their exemption from pain and sorrow, which assail them as well as the wicked. Lazarus, for whom was prepared a retreat in Abraham's bosom, ended his life in extreme poverty and wretchedness; while the rich man, whose luxury had kindled for him inextinguishable flames, dies in the midst of
every worldly convenience and comfort. Blessed martyrs expired in flames, and upon the rack; while their crue, persecutors often died a natural and common death. The happiness of a good man in death, therefore, must arise from a well-grounded expectation of a blessed immortality, through the merits of that Saviour whom he has sincerely, though imperfectly, served. This exalted hope makes him willing to leave the world, in which he has sojourned as a stranger and a foreigner, and with joy to look forward to that eternal home on which he is entering.
Q. What method should we take during the time of health, to prepare ourselves for the pious exercises proper at the approach of death?
A. During the time of health, we should set apart some stated seasons for the exercise of those pious dispositions which will be more particularly necessary and proper at the approach of death. Our minds being thus stored with devout and holy thoughts, we shall be able, at the approach of death, to engage in those pious and holy exercises, which will prove an effectual consolation and support at this awful period.
Q. WHAT event does the Church this day commemorate ?
A. The Church this day commemorates the glorious event of our Saviour's resurrection. This festival, for antiquity and excellence, takes the precedence of all other festivals. It was observed from the very first ages; the only dispute being, not about the propriety of the festival itself, but about the proper day on which it was to be observed. The observation of Easter was at length fixed to one and the same day, by the great general Council of Nice. *
Q. What provision has the Church made for celebrating this day with proper solemnity and devotion ?
A. The Church, supposing us eager to celebrate the joy. ful erent of the Saviour's resurrection, begins her office of praise, as soon as the absolution is pronounced, with antherns proper to the day ; exciting her members to call upon one another “ to keep the feast; for that Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, and is also risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept." The psalms, the lessons, the collect, epistle, and gospel, are all appropriate to the day.
* A. D. 325.
Q. What have you to observe concerning the psalms for the morning service ?
A. The psalms for the morning service, are the 20, 57th, and 111th. The 2d psalm was composed by David, on his triumphant settlement in his kingdom, after the opposition made by his enemies; and is a prophetical representation of the inauguration of the Messiah, in his regal and sacerdotal office, after he had been persecuted and crucified. The 57th psalm was drawn up on occasion of David's delivery from the hands of Saul; and, in a mystical sense, celebrates Christ's triumph over death and the grave. 'The 11lth psalm is a thanksgiving for the marvellotis works of redemption, of which the resurrection of Christ is the chief.
Q. What have you to observe concerning the psalms for the evening service ?
A. The psalms for the evening service, are the 113th, 114th, 118th. The first was designed to set forth the admirable providence of God, which was never more discernible than in the great work of our redemption. The second is a thanksgiving for the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt; an event typical of our deliverance from death and hell. The last was composed when David was in the undisturbed pose session of his kingdom, after the ark was brought to Jerusalem ; but it was secondarily intended to prefigure our Saviour's resurrection, to which it is applied both by St. Matthew and St. Luke.
Q. What have you to observe concerning the lessons, epistle, and gospel for the day?
A. The first lessons for the morning and evening service, contain an account of the passover, and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt; the one prefiguring Christ, who is our passover; the other, our deliverance from the dominion of death and hell. The gospel, and the second lesson for the evening, give us full evidence of Christ's resurrection; and the epistle, and second lesson for the morning, teach us what use we should make of it.
v Matt. XXI. 49; Acts iv. 11
Q. How do you prove the fact of the Saviour's resurrection ?
A. The resurrection of Christ was attested by a sufficient number of witnesses; these witnesses were competent judges of the fact; their character and situation rendered them worthy of credit; they maintained their testimony to this fact, with the sacrifice of worldly interest, through suffering, persecution, and, finally, death itself; and they proved the reality of the resurrection of Christ, by the supernatural and miraculous powers which they exercised in attestation of it, and by which they established the religion of Jesus throughout the world.
Q. Prove that the resurrection of Christ was altested by a sufficient number of witnesses.
A. The fact of the Saviour's resurrection, clearly and forcibly predicted by the prophecies and types of the Old Testament, was attested by a sufficient number of witnesses. Christ, after his resurrection, appeared to his disciples at various times and places; he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; and afterwards, from the midst of his apostles, he was taken up into heaven.“
Q. Prove that the witnesses of Christ's resurrection were proper judges of the fact.
A. The witnesses of Christ's resurrection had been his chosen companions; they were intimately acquainted with him, and therefore could not be deceived in regard to his person, when he appeared to them again. So far were they from being predisposed to believe in the doctrine of the resurrection of their Master, that they, in the first instance, repeatedly discovered the greatest incredulity in regard to it. This incredulity certainly gives the greatest weight to their testimony; for it excited suspicion ; it led to examination; it could not be vanquished, but by repeated, strong, and irresistible proofs.
Q. Do not the character and situation of the apostles render them worthy of credit ?
A. It is in the highest degree improbable, that simple, ignorant fishermen, would forge the strange, unnatural story, of their Master's resurrection: it is in the highest degree improbable, that these despised refuse of the people would conceive the bold and hazardous plan of attacking the religion of their forefathers, and the religion of the whole world,
# Matt. xxviii. 9: Luke xxiv. 31, 34 :' John xxi. 2: XX. 19, 26: Acts. i- 3,9.
by forging the story, that their Master, who had been crucified as a malefactor, had risen from the dead. His body, which was guarded in the sepulchre by his implacable enemies, would have been produced, and confounded their plans. They were ignorant and despised, incapable of contriving this forgery, destitute of the means of supporting it; and the simplicity, sincerity, modesty, and candour which are apparent in their writings, are wholly inconsistent with the character of impostors.
Q. Did not the apostles maintain their testimony with the sacrifice of worldly interest, through suffering, persecution, and even death itself?
A. The apostles maintained their testimony to the resur. rection of Christ, with the sacrifice of worldly interest, through suffering, persecution, and even death itself. Fanatics and enthusiasts have encountered the most severe suffer. ings in defence of the errors of a heated imagination; but there never was an instance of men encountering persecu. tion and death in defence of any fact which they knew to be false, and which they could have no interest in maintaining. It is absolutely contrary to reason and common sense to suppose, that the timid and doubting apostles would have asserted the fact of their Master's resurrection when they knew it to be false, and would have maintained their testimony through suffering, persecution, and even death itself; when, by renouncing the false assertion, they would have secured wealth, prosperity, and honour.
Q. Did not the apostles seal their testimony to the truth of the resurrection, by the exercise of miraculous powers ?
A. The apostles, as witnesses of the resurrection, sealed their testimony by the exercise of miraculous powers, by which they established the Gospel throughout the earth, in opposition to the pride, the prejudices, and the passions of mankind. The unanimous voice of history attests the fact, that, in the short space of thirty years, the apostles had converted all the world to the belief of the fact, that Jesus, who, had been crucified, had risen from the dead; and it is cer, tainly absolutely impossible that the disciples, simple, igno. rant, despised fishermen, without learning, power, or respect, could have thus established, by the mere force of ingenuity and cunning, a Gospel that combated the inveterate preju. dices of the Jews, the pride and vain learning of philosophers, the idolatry, superstition, and lust of the heathen