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tress; and when you rejoice as one that is entering upon his happiness, when all the happiness of the ungodly is at an end; this will do more than many sermons, to persuade a sinner to a holy life. I know that this is not easily attained; but a thing so sweet and profitable to yourselves, and so useful to the good of others, and so much tending to the honour of God, should be laboured after with all your diligence and then you may expect God's blessing on your labours. Read to this use the fourth part of my "Saints' Rest."
Directions for the Sick.
THOUGH the chief part of our preparation for death be in the time of health, and it is a work for which the longest life is not too long; yet because the folly of unconverted sinners is so great, as to forget what they were born for till they see death at hand, and because there is a special preparation necessary for the best, I shall here lay down some Directions for the Sick. And I shall reduce them to these four heads. 1. What must be done to make death safe to us, that it may be our passage to heaven and not to hell. 2. What must be done to make sickness profitable to us? 3. What must be done to make death comfortable to us, that we may die in peace and joy. 4. What must be done to make our sickness profitable to others about us."
Tit. 1. Directions for a Safe Death, to secure our Salvation.
The Directions of this sort are especially necessary to the unconverted, impenitent sinner; yet needful also to the godly themselves; and therefore I shall distinctly speak to both.
I. Directions for an Unconverted Sinner in his Sickness.
It is a very dreadful case to be found by sickness in an unconverted state. There is so great a work to be done, and so little time to do it in, and soul and body so unfit and undisposed for it, and the misery so great (even everlasting torment) that will follow so certainly and so quickly if it be undone, that one would think it should overwhelm the
understanding and heart of any man with astonishment and horror, to foresee such a condition in the time of his health; much more to find himself in it in his sickness. And though one would think that the near approach of death, and the nearness of another world, should be irresistibly powerful to convert a sinner, so that few or none should die unconverted, however they lived; yet Scripture and sad experience declare the contrary, that most men die as well as live, in an unsanctified and miserable state. For 1. A life of sin doth usually settle a man in ignorance or unbelief, or both: so that sickness findeth him in such a dungeon of darkness, that he is but lost and confounded in his fears, and knoweth not whither he is going, nor what he hath to do. 2. And also sin woefully hardeneth the heart, and the long-resisted Spirit of God forsaketh them, and giveth them over to themselves in sickness, who would not be ruled and sanctified by him in their health and such remain like blocks or beasts even to the last. 3. And the nature of sickness and approaching death doth tend more to affright than to renew the soul; and rather to breed fear and trouble than love. And though grief and fear be good preparatives and helps, yet it is the love of God and holiness in which the soul's regeneration and renovation doth consist; and there is no more holiness than there is love and willingness. And many a one that is affrighted into strong repentings, and cries, and prayers, and promises, and seem to themselves and others to be converted, do yet either die in their sins and misery, or return to their unholy lives when they recover, being utter strangers to that true repentance which reneweth the heart, as sad experience doth too often testify. 4. And many poor sinners finding that they have so short a time, do end it in mere amazement and terror, not knowing how to compose their thoughts, to examine their hearts and lives, nor to exercise faith in Christ, nor to follow any Directions that are given them; but lie in trembling and astonishment, wholly taken up with the fears of death, much worse than a beast that is going to be butchered. 5. And the very pains of the body do so divert or hinder the thoughts of many, that they can scarce mind any spiritual things, with such a composedness as is necessary to so great a work. 6. And the greatest number being partly confounded in ignorance, and partly withheld by backwardness and undis
posedness, and partly disheartened by thinking it impossible to become new creatures, and get a regenerate, heavenly heart on such a sudden, do force themselves to hope that they shall be saved without it, and that though they are sinners, yet that kind of repentance which they have, will serve the turn and be accepted, and God will be more merciful than to damn them. And this false hope they think they are necessitated to take up. For there is but two other ways to be taken: the one is, utterly to despair; and both Scripture, and reason, and nature itself are against that: the other way is to be truly converted and won to the love of God and heaven by a lively faith in Jesus Christ: and they have no such faith: and to this they are strange and undisposed, and think it impossible to be done. And if they must have no hopes but upon such terms as these, they think they shall have none at all. Or else if they hear that there is no other hope, and that none but the holy can be saved, they will force themselves to hope that they have all this, and that they are truly converted, and become new creatures, and do love God and holiness above all: not because indeed it is so, but because they would have it so, for fear of being damned. And instead of finding that they are void of faith, and love, and holiness, and labouring to get a renewed soul, they think it a nearer way to make themselves believe that it is so already: and thus in their presumption, self-deceiving, and false hopes, they linger out that little time that is left them to be converted in, till death open their eyes, and hell do undeceive them. 7. And the same devil, and wicked men his instruments, that kept them in health from true repentance, will be as diligent to keep them from it in their sickness; and will be loath to lose all at the last cast, which they had been winning all the time before. And if the devil can but keep them in his power, till sickness come and take them up with pain and fear, he will hope to keep them a few days longer, till he have finished that which he had begun and carried on so far. And if there be here and there one, that will be held no longer by false hopes and presumption, he will at last think to take them off by desperation, and make them believe that there is no remedy.
And, indeed, it is a thing so difficult and unlikely, to convert a sinner in all his pain and weakness at the last,
that even the godly friends of such, do many times even let them alone, as thinking that there is little or no hope. But this is a very sinful course: as long as there is life, there is some hope. And as long as there is hope, we must use the means. A physician will try the best remedies he hath, in the most dangerous disease, which is not desperate: for when it is certain that there is no hope without them, if they do no good, they do no harm. So must we try the saving of a poor soul, while there is life and any hope: for if once death end their time and hopes, it will be then too late; and they will be out of our reach and help for ever. To those that sickness findeth in so sad a case, I shall give here but a few brief Directions, because I have done it more at large in the first Part and first Chapter, whither I refer them.
Direct. 1. Set speedily and seriously the judging of your selves, as those that are going to be judged of God.' And do it in the manner following. 1. Do it willingly and resolvedly, as knowing that it is now no time to remain uncertain of your everlasting state, if you can possibly get acquainted with it. Is it not time for a man to know himself, whether he be a sanctified believer or not, when he is just going to appear before his Maker, and there be judged as he is found? 2. Do it impartially; as one that is not willing to find himself deceived, as soon as death hath acquainted him with the truth. O take heed, as you love your souls, of being foolishly tender of yourselves, and resolving for fear of being troubled at your misery, to believe that you are safe, whether it be true or false. This is the way that thousands are undone by. Thinking that you are sanctified, will neither prove you so, nor make you so: no more than thinking you are well, will prove or make you well. And what good will it do you to think you are pardoned and shall be saved, for a few days longer, and then to find too late in hell that you were mistaken? Is the ease of so short a deceit worth all the pain and loss that it will cost you? Alas, poor soul! God knoweth it is not needlessly to affright thee, that we desire to convince thee of thy misery! We do not cruelly insult over thee or desire to torment thee. But we pity thee in so sad a case. To see an unsanctified person ready to pass into another world, and to be doomed unto endless misery, and will not know it till he is there!
Our principal reason of opening your danger is because it is necessary to your escaping it. If soul diseases were like bodily diseases, which may sometimes be cured without the patient's knowing them and the danger of them, we would never trouble you at such a time as this. But it will not be so done: you must understand your danger, if you will be saved from it: therefore be impartial with yourself if you are wise, and be truly willing to know the worst. 3. In judging yourselves proceed by the same rule or law that God will judge you by; that is, by the Word of God revealed in the Gospel. For your work now is not to steal a little short-lived quiet to your consciences, but to know how God will judge your souls, and whether he will doom you to endless joy or misery: and how can you know this, but by that law or rule that God will judge you by? And certainly God will judge you, by the same law or rule by which he governed you, or which he gave you to live by in the world. It will go never the better or worse there with any man, for his good or bad conceits of himself, if they were his mistakes; but just what God hath said in his Word that he will do with any man, that will he do with him in the day of judgment. All shall be justified whom the Gospel justifieth; and all shall be condemned that it condemneth; and therefore judge yourself by it. By what signs you may know an unsanctified man, I have told you before, Part i. Chap. 1. Direct. 8. And by what signs true grace may be known, I told you before, in the Preparation for the Sacrament. 4. If you cannot satisfy yourself about your own condition, advise with some godly, able minister, or other Christian, that is best acquainted with you; that knoweth how you have lived towards God and man: or at least open all your heart and life to him that he may know it; and if he tell you that he feareth you are yet unsanctified, you have the more reason to fear the worst. But then be sure that he be not a carnal, ungodly, worldly man himself: for they that flatter and deceive themselves, are not unlike to do so by others. Such blind deceivers will daub over all, and bid you never trouble yourself; but even comfort you as they comfort themselves, and bid you believe that all is well, and it will be well; or will make you believe that some forced confession and unsound repentance, will serve in