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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
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 you may know that this is your case.' 5. Then tell them the reasons of your fears, if you fear they are unconverted, or of your hopes, if 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 open their case, as may direct you, 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
should, read some good book to them, which is most suitable to their case:' such as “ Mr. Perkins's Right Art of Dying Well;"_“ The Practice of Piety in the Directions for the Sick ;”—“ Mr. Edward Lawrence's Treatise of Sickness;" or what else is most suitable to them. And because most are themselves unable for counselling the sick aright, and you may not have a fit book at hand, I shall here subjoin a brief form or two for such to read to the sick that can endure no long discourse. And other books will help you to forms of prayer with them, if you cannot pray without such help.
Direct. viii. Judge not of the state of men's souls, by 'those carriages in their sickness, which proceed from their diseases or bodily distemper.' Many ignorant people judge of a man by the manner of his dying: if one die in calmness and clearness of understanding, and a few good words, they think that this is to die like a saint. Whereas in consumptions, and oft in dropsies, and other such chronical diseases, this is ordinary with good and bad : and in a fever that is violent, or a frenzy or distraction, the best man that is, may die without the use of reason: some diseases will make one blockish, and heavy, and unapt to speak : and some consist with as much freedom of speech, as in time of health. The state of men's souls must not be judged of by such accidental, unavoidable things as these.
Direct. ix. 'Be neither unnaturally senseless at the death of friends, nor excessively dejected or afflicted.' To make light of the death of relations and friends, be they good or bad, is a sign of a very vicious nature; that is so much selfish, as not much to regard the lives of others : and he that regardeth not the lives of his friends is little to be trusted in his lower concernments. I speak not' this of those persons whose temper alloweth them not to weep: for there may be as deep a regard and sorrow in some that have no tears, as in others that abound with them. But I speak of a naughty, selfish nature, that is little affected with any one's concernments but its own.
Yet your grief for the death of friends, must be very different both in degree and kind. l. For ungodly friends you must grieve for their own sakes, because if they died such, they are lost for ever. 2. For your godly friends, you must
mourn for the sake of yourselves and others, because God hath removed such as were blessings to those about them. 3. For choice magistrates, and ministers, and other instruments of public good, your sorrow must be greater, because of the common loss, and the judgment thereby inflicted on the world. 4. For old, tried Christians, that have overcome the world, and lived so long till age and weakness make them almost unserviceable to the church, and who
to be unburdened and to be with Christ, your sorrow should be least, and your joy and thanks for their happiness should be greatest. But especially abhor that nature that secretly is glad of the death of parents, (or little sorrowful) because that their estates are fallen to you, or you are enriched, or set at liberty by their death. God seldom leaveth this sin unrevenged, by some heavy judgments even in this life.
Direct. x. “To overcome your inordinate grief for the death of your relations, consider these things following.' 1. That excess of sorrow is your sin: and sinning is an ill use to be made of your affliction. 2. That it tendeth to a great deal more: it unfitteth
you are bound to, as to rejoice in God, and to be thankful for mercies, and cheerful in his love, and praise, and service: and is it a small sin to unfit yourselves for the greatest duties? If you are so troubled at God's disposal of his own, what doth your will but rise up against the will of God; as if
you grudged at the exercise of his dominion and government, that is, that he is God! Who is wisest, and best, and fittest to dispose of all men's lives? Is it God or you? Would
not have God to be the Lord of all, and to dispose
of heaven and earth, and of the lives and crowns of the greatest princes? If you would not, you would not have him to be God. If you would, is it not unreasonable that you or your friends only should be excepted from his disposal ? 4. If your friends are in heaven, how unsuitable is it for you to be overmuch mourning for them, when they are rapt into the highest joys with Christ; and love should teach you to rejoice with them that rejoice, and not to mourn as those that have no hope. 5. You know not what mercy God shewed to your friends, in taking them away from the evil to come, you know not what suffering the land or church is falling into, or at least, might have fallen
upon themselves ; nor what sins they might have been tempted to a But you are sure that heaven is better than earth, and that it is far better for them to be with Christ. 6. You always knew that your friends must die; to grieve that they were mortal, is but to grieve that they were but men. 7. If their mortality or death be grievous to you, you should rejoice that they are arrived at the state of immortality, where they must live indeed and die no more. 8. Remember how quickly you must be with them again. The expectation of living long yourselves, is the cause of your excessive grief for the death of friends. If you looked yourselves to die to-morrow, or within a few weeks, you would less grieve that your friends are gone before you. 9. Remember that the world is not for one generation only ; others must have our places when we are gone; God will be served by successive generations, and not only by one. 10. If you are Christians indeed, it is the highest of all your
desires and hopes to be in heaven ; and will you so grieve that your friends are gone thither, where you most desire and hope to be.
Object. ‘All this is reason, if my friend were gone to heaven; but he died impenitently, and how should I be comforted for a soul that I have cause to think is damned ?'
Answ. Their misery must be your grief; but not such a grief as shall deprive you of your greater joys, or disable you for your greater duties. 1. God is fitter than you to judge of the measures of his mercy and his judgments, and you must neither pretend to be more merciful than he, nor to reprehend his justice. 2. All the works of God are good; and all that is good is amiable; though the misery of the creature be bad to it, yet the works of justice declare the wisdom and holiness of God; and the more perfect we are, the more they will be amiable to us. For 3. God himself, and Christ, who is the merciful Saviour of the world, approve of the damnation of the finally ungodly. 4. And the saints and angels in heaven do know more of the misery of the souls in hell, than we do; and yet it abateth not their joys. And the more perfect any is, the more he is like-minded unto God. 5. How glad and thankful should you be to think that God hath delivered yourselves from those eternal
a Isa. Ivii. 1, 2. Phil. i. 21. 23.
Aames ? The misery of others should excite your thankfulness. 6. And should not the joys of all the saints and angels be your joy, as well as the sufferings of the wicked be your sorrows ? But above all, the thoughts of the blessed ness and glory of God himself, should overtop all the concernments of the creature with you. If you will mourn more for the thieves and murderers that are hanged, than you will rejoice in the justice, prosperity, and honour of the king, and the welfare of all his faithful subjects, you behave not yourselves as faithful subjects. 7. Shortly you hope to come to heaven : mourn now for the damned, as you shall do then ; or at least, let not the difference be too great, when that, and not this, is your perfect state.
A Form of Exhortation to the Ungodly in their Sickness, (or
those that we feur are such.)
Dear Friend : The God that must dispose of us and all things, doth threaten by this sickness, to call away your soul, and put an end to the time of your pilgrimage ; and therefore your friends that love and pity you, must not now be silent, if they can speak any thing for your preparation and salvation, because it must be now or never : when a few days are past, they must never have any such opportunity more: if now we prevail not with you, you are likely to be quickly out of hearing, and past our advice and help for ever.
And because I know your weakness bids me be but short, and your memory is not to be burdened with too much, and yet your necessity must not be neglected, I shall -reduce all that I have to say to you, to these four heads : 1. Of the change
change which you seem near to, and the wo which you are going to. 2. Of the preparation that must be made by all that will be saved, and who they be that the gospel doth justify or condemn. 3. I would fain help you to understand which of these conditions you are in, and what will become of your soul, if it thus goeth hence : and 4. If your case be bad, I would direct you how you may come out of at, and what is yet to be done while there remaineth any time and hope. And I pray you set your heart to what I say ; for I will speak nothing but the certain truth of God, revealed to the world by his Son and Spirit, expressed in the Scripture, and believed by all the church of Christ.