« ÖncekiDevam »
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 firm resolution, that if God should restore you, you would value this world at a lower rate, and set by it, and seek it, but as it 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 not b. Now judge whether a loose and worldly life, or a holy, heavenly life be better? And resolve accordingly.
Direct. vir. “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.
godly enemies of holiness; even as you confute the dotage of a fool, or the ravings of a man beside himself.
Direct. ix. You have a great advantage more sensibly to perceive your dependance upon God alone: and what reason you have to please him before all the world, and to regard his favour or displeasure more, than all the things or persons upon earth.: Now you see how vain a thing is man! And how little the favour of all the world, can stand you in stead in your greatest necessity: now you see that it is God, and God alone, that is to be trusted to at last; and therefore it is God that is to be obeyed and pleased, whatever become of all things in the world. .
Direct. x. 'You have now a great advantage to discern the preciousness of time, and to see how carefully it should be redeemed, and to perceive the distractedness of those men, that can waste it in pastimes, and curiosity of dressings, and needless compliments and visits, and a multitude of such vanities as rob the world, of that which.is móre precious than gold or treasure. Now what think you of idling and playing away your time? Now do you not think that it is wiser to spend it in a holy preparation for the life to come, than to cast it away upon childish fooleries, or any unnecessary worldly things?
Direct. XI. Also you have now a special help to be more serious than ever in your preparations for death, and in your thoughts of heaven; and so to be readier than you were before: and if sickness help you to be readier to die, and more to set ġour hearts above, whether you live or dié, it will be a profitable sickness to you.' 2.1. Direct. x11. Let your friends about you: bé the witnesses of your open confessions and resolutions, and engage them, if God should restore you to your health, to remem ber you of all the promises which you have made, and to watch over you, and tell you of them whenever there is need.' By these means sickness may be improved, and be a mercy to you.
I might next have given some special Directions to them that are recovered from sickness; but because I would not be needlessly tedious, I refer such to what is here said already. 1. Let them but look over these twelve Directions, and see whether these benefits remain
their hearts. 2. Let them call to their lively remembrance, the sense which
they had, and the frame they were in, when they made these resolutions. 3. Let them remember that sickness will come again, even a sickness which will have no cure. And 4. Let them bethink themselves, how terribly conscience will be wounded, and their souls dismayed, when the next sickness cometh, to remember that they were unthankful for their last recovery, and how falsely they dealt with God in the breaking of their promises. Foresee this, that you may prevent it.
Tit. 3. Directions for a Comfortable or Peaceable Death.
Comfort is not desirable only as it pleaseth us, but also as it strengtheneth us, and helpeth us in our greatest duties. And when is it more needful than in sickness, and the approach of death? I shall therefore add such Directions as are necessary to make our departure comfortable or peaceful at the least, as well as safe.
Direct. 1. Because I would make this treatise no longer than I needs must; in order to overcome the fears of death, and get a cheerful willingness to die, I desire the sick to read over those twenty considerations, and the following Directions which I have laid down in my book of “Selfdenial.” And when the fears of death are overcome, the great impediment of their comfort is removed.
Direct. 11. Misunderstand not sickness, as if it were a greater evil than it is; but observe how great a mercy it is, that death hath so suitable a harbinger or forerunner.' That God should do so much before he taketh us hence, to wean us from the world, and make us willing to be gone; that the unwilling flesh hath the help of pain; and that the senses and appetite languish and decay, which did draw the mind to earthly things, and that we have so loud a call, and so great a help to true repentance, and serious preparation ? I know to those that have walked very close with God, and are always ready, a sudden death may be a mercy; as we have lately known divers holy ministers and others, that have died either after sacrament, or in the evening of the Lord's day, or in the midst of some holy exercise with so little pain, that none about them perceived when they died. But
© Mr. Vines, Mr. Capel, Mr. Hollingworth, Mr. Ashurst, Mr. Ainbrose, Mn. Burnel, &c.
ordinarily it is a mercy to have the flesh brought down and weakened by painful sickness, to help to conquer our natural unwillingness to die.
Direct. ul. Remember whose messenger sickness is, and who it is that calleth you to die.' It is he, that is the Lord of all the world, and gave us the lives which he taketh from us : and it is he, that must dispose of angels and men, of princes and kingdoms, of heaven and earth; and therefore there is no reason that such worms as we, should desire to be excepted. You cannot deny him to be the disposer of all things, without denying him to be God: it is he that loveth us, and never meant us harm in any thing that he hath done to us; that gave the life of his Son to redeem us; and therefore thinketh not life too good for
our sickness and death are sent by the same love, that sent us a Saviour, and sent us the powerful preachers of his Word, and sent us his Spirit, and secretly and sweetly changed our hearts, and knit them to himself in love; which gave us a life of precious mercies for our souls and bodies, and hath promised to give us life eternal: and shall we think, that he now intendeth us any harm?. Cannot he turn this also to our good, as he hath done many an affliction which we have repined at?
Direct. iv. Look by faith to your dying, buried, risen, ascended, glorified Lord.' Nothing will more powerfully overcome both the poison, and the fears of death, than the believing thoughts of him that hath triumphed over it. Is it terrible as it separateth the soul from the body? So it did by our Lord, who yet overcame it. .Is it terrible as it layeth the body in the grave? So it did by our Saviour; though he saw not corruption, but quickly rose by the power of his Godhead. He died to teach us believingly and boldly to submit to death. He was buried, to teach us not overmuch to fear a grave. He rose again to conquer
death for us, and to assure those that rise to newness of life, that they shall be raised at last by his power unto glory; and being made partakers of the first resurrection, the second death shall have no power over them. He liveth as our head, that we might live by him; and that he might assure all those that are here risen with him, and seek first the things that are above, that though in themselves
they are dead, " yet their life is hid with Christ in God; and when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory d.” What a comfortable word is that, “Because I live, ye shall live also e.” Death could not hold the Lord of life; nor can it hold us against his will, who hath the “keys of death and hell f.” He loveth every one of his sanctified ones much better, than you love an eye, or a hand, or any other member of your body, which you will not lose, if you are able to save it. When he ascended, he left us that message full of comfort for his followers. “Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God.” Which, with these two following, I would have written before me on my sick bed. “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my servant þeh.” And " Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise i.” O what a joyful thought should it be to a believer, to think when he is a dying, that he is going to his Saviour, and that our Lord is risen and gone before us, to prepare a place for us,
and take us in season to himself. “As you believe in God, believe thus in Christ; and then your hearts will be less troubled !.” It is not a stranger that we talk of to you; but your Head and Saviour that loveth you better than you love yourselves, whose office it is there to appear continually for you before God, and at last to receive your departing souls; and into his hand it is, that you must then commend them, as Stephen did m.
Direct. v. Choose out some promises most suitable to your condition, and roll them over and over in your mind, and feed and live on them by faith. A sick man is not - (usually) fit to think of very many things; and therefore two or three comfortable promises, to be still before his eyes, may be the most profitable matter of his thoughts ; such as those three which I named before. If he be most troubled with the greatness of his sin, let it be such as these. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not
a Col. iii. 1, 2. 4, 5.
e John xiv. 19.
| Rev, i. 18.