« VorigeDoorgaan »
excepting the lasting and successive portions"; but, with our own present care, let us exercise the charity, and secure the stewardship. It was a custom amongst the old Greeks, to bury horses, clothes, arms, and whatsoever was dear to the deceased person, supposing they might need them, and that, without clothes, they should be found naked by their judges; and all the friends did use to bring gifts, by such liberality thinking to promote the interest of their dead. But we may offer our vrápia ourselves best of all; our doles and funeral meals, if they be our own early provisions, will then spend the better: and it is good so to carry our passing penny in our hand, and by reaching that hand to the poor, make a friend in the everlasting habitations. He that gives with his own hand, shall be sure to find it, and the poor shall find it'; but he that trusts executors with his charity, and the economy and issues of his virtue, by which he must enter into his hopes of heaven and pardon, shall find but an ill account, when his executors complain he died poor. Think on this. To this purpose, wise and pious was the counsel of Salvian": "Let a dying man, who hath nothing else, of which he may make an effective oblation, offer up to God of his substance: let him offer it with compunction and tears, with grief and mourning, as knowing that all our oblations have their value, not by the price, but by the affection; and it is our faith that commendeth the money, since God receives the money by the hands of the poor, but
n Lucian. de luctu.
o Vide reg. 6. paulo infr. Herodot. Musa 5. Plin. lib. iv. cap. 11. Xiphilin." in Severo.
p ̓Αλλὰ, κόραι, τῷ παιδὶ λεχώϊα δῶρα φέρουσαι,
4 Fallax sæpe fides, testátaque vota peribunt:
* Man, thee behoveth oft to have this in mind,
So God me help and Halidam, he died a poor man.
Think on this.
at the same time gives, and does not take the blessing; because he receives nothing but his own, and man gives that which is none of his own, that of which he is only a steward, and shall be accountable for every shilling. Let it therefore be offered humbly, as a creditor pays his debts; not magnifically, as a prince gives a donative: and let him remember, that such doles do not pay for the sin, but they ease the punishment: they are not proper instruments of redemption, but instances of supplication, and advantages of prayer; and when we have done well, remember that we have not paid our debt, but shewn our willingness to give a little of the vast sum we owe: and he that gives plentifully according to the measure of his estate, is still behind-hand according to the measure of his sins. Let him pray to God, that this late oblation may be accepted; and so it will, if it sails to him in a sea of penitential tears or sorrows that it is so little, and that it is so late."
6. Let the sick man's charity be so ordered, that it may not come only to deck the funeral and make up the pomp; charity waiting like one of the solemn mourners; but let it be continued, that, besides the alms of health and sickness, there may be a rejoicing in God for his charity long after his funerals, so as to become more beneficial and less public; that the poor may pray in private, and give God thanks many days together. This is matter of prudence, and yet in this we are to observe the same regards, which we had in the charity and alms of our lives; with this only difference, that, in the funeral alms also of rich and able persons, the public customs of the church are to be observed, and decency and solemnity, and the expectations of the poor, and matter of public opinion, and the reputation of religion; in all other cases, let thy charity consult with humility and prudence, that it never minister at all to vanity, but be as full of advantage and usefulness as it may.
7. Every man will forgive a dying person; and therefore let the sick man be ready and sure, if he can, to send to such persons, whom he hath injured, and beg their pardon, and do them right: for, in this case, he cannot stay for an opportunity of convenient and advantageous reconcilement:
Πρὸς τὸν τελευτήσανθ ̓ ἕκαστος, κἂν σφόδρα “Αν ἐχθρὸς ᾗ τις, γίγνεται φίλος τότε.
he cannot then spin out a treaty, nor beat down the price of composition, nor lay a snare to be quit from the obligation and coercion of laws; but he must ask forgiveness downright, and make him amends as he can, being greedy of making use of this opportunity of doing a duty, that must be done, but cannot any more, if not now, until time returns again, and tells the minutes backwards, so that yesterday shall be reckoned in the portions of the future.
8. In the intervals of sharper pains, when the sick man amasses together all the arguments of comfort and testimonies of God's love to him, and care of him, he must needs find infinite matter of thanksgiving and glorification of God: and it is a proper act of charity and love to God, and justice too, that he do honour to God on his death-bed for all the blessings of his life, not only in general communications, but those by which he hath been separate and discerned from others, or supported and blessed in his own person; such as are, "In all my life-time I never broke a bone; I never fell into the hands of robbers, never into public shame, or into noisome diseases: I have not begged my bread, nor been tempted by great and unequal fortunes: God gave me a good understanding, good friends, or delivered me in such a danger; and heard my prayers in such particular pressures of my spirit." This or the like enumeration and consequent acts of thanksgiving are apt to produce love to God, and confidence in the day of trial; for he that gave me blessings in proportion to the state and capacities of my life, I hope also will do so in proportion to the needs of my sickness and my death-bed. This we find practised, as a most reasonable piece of piety, by the wisest of the heathens. So Antipater Tarsensis gave God thanks for his prosperous voyage into Greece; and Cyrus made a handsome prayer upon the tops of the mountains, when by a fantasm he was warned of his approaching death. "Receive, O God my father, these holy rites, by which I put an end to many and great affairs; and I give thee thanks for thy celestial signs and prophetic notices, whereby thou hast signified to me what I ought to do, and what I ought not. I present also very great thanks, that I have perceived and acknowledged your care of me, and have never exalted myself above my condition for any prosperous accident. And I pray that you will grant felicity
to my wife, my children, and friends, and to me a death such as my life hath been." But that of Philagrius in Gregory Nazianzen is eucharistical, but it relates more especially to the blessings and advantages, which are accidentally consequent to sickness. "I thank thee, O Father, and maker of all thy children, that thou art pleased to bless and to sanctify us even against our wills, and by the outward man purgest the inward, and leadest us through cross-ways to a blessed ending, for reasons best known unto thee." However, when we go from our hospital and place of little intermedial rest in our journey to heaven, it is fit, that we give thanks to the Major-domo for our entertainment. When these parts of religion are finished, according to each man's necessity, there is nothing remaining of personal duty to be done alone, but that the sick man act over these virtues by the renewings of devotion, and in the way of prayer; and that is to be continued as long as life, and voice, and reason dwell with us.
Acts of Charity, by way of Prayer and Ejaculation; which may also be used for Thanksgiving, in case of recovery.
O MY Soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord my goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the saints, that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight. The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. Psal. xvi. 2, 3. 5.
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those, that trust in him. For who is God, except the Lord? or who is a rock, save our God? It is God, that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. Psal. xviii. 30-32.
Be not thou far from me, O Lord: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Psal. xxii. 19.
Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion's mouth: and thou hast heard me also from among the horns of the unicorns. ver. 20, 21.
I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. ver. 22.
Ye that fear the Lord, praise the Lord: ye sons of God, glorify him, and fear before him, all ye sons of men. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. ver. 23, 24.
As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so longeth my soul after thee, O God. Psal. xlii. 1.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before the Lord? ver. 2.
O my God, my soul is cast down within me. All thy waves and billows are gone over me. As with a sword in my bones I am reproached. Yet the Lord will command his loving-kindness in the day-time; and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. ver. 6-8. 10,
Bless ye the Lord in the congregations; even the Lord from the fountains of Israel. Psal. lxviii. 26.
My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. Psal. lxxi. 15.
I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth; and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. ver. 16, 17. 14.
Thy righteousness, O God, is very high, who hast done great things. O God, who is like unto thee? Thou which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. ver. 19, 20.
Thou shalt increase thy goodness towards me, and comfort me on every side. ver. 21.
My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever; and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen, Amen. ver. 23. Psal. lxxii. 18, 19.
I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my