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the danger of his person; and his cases of conscience may be so many and so intricate, that he is not quickly to be reduced to peace, and one time the holy man must pray, and another time he must exhort, a third time administer the holy sacrament; and he that ought to watch all the periods and little portions of his life, lest he should be surprised and overcome, had need be watched when he is sick, and assisted and called upon, and reminded of the several parts of his duty, in every instant of his temptation. This article was well provided for among the easterlings; for the priests in their visitations of a sick person did abide in their attendance and ministry for seven days together. The want of this makes the visitations fruitless, and the calling of the clergy contemptible, while it is not suffered to imprint its proper effects upon them, that need it in a lasting ministry.
3. St. James advises, that when a man is sick, he should send for the elders; one sick man for many presbyters, and so did the eastern churches, they sent for seven : and, like a college of physicians, they ministered spiritual remedies, and sent up prayers like a choir of singing clerks. In cities they might do so, while the Christians were few, and the priests many. But when they that dwelt in the pagi or villages ceased to be Pagans, and were baptized, it grew to be an impossible felicity, unless in few cases, and to some more eminent persons: but because they need it most, God hath taken care, that they may best have it; and they that can, are not very prudent, if they neglect it.
4. Whether they be many or few, that are sent to the sick person, let the curate of his parish, or his own confessor, be amongst them; that is, let him not be wholly advised by strangers, who know not his particular necessities; but he that is the ordinary judge cannot safely be passed by in his extraordinary necessity, which, in so great portions, depends upon his whole life past: and it is a matter of suspicion, when we decline his judgment, that knows us best, and with whom we formerly did converse, either by choice or by law, by private election or public constitution. It concerns us then to make severe and profitable judgments, and not to conspire against ourselves, or procure such assistances, which
* James, v. 14.
y Gabriel in 4. sent. dist. 23.
may handle us softly, or comply with our weaknesses more than relieve our necessities.
5. When the ministers of religion are come, first let them do their ordinary offices, that is, pray for grace to the sick man, for patience, for resignation, for health, (if it seems good to God in order to his great ends.) For that is one of the ends of the advice of the apostle. And therefore the minister is to be sent for, not while the case is desperate, but before the sickness is come to its crisis or period. Let him discourse concerning the causes of sickness, and by a general instrument move him to consider concerning his condition. Let him call upon him to set his soul in order; to trim his lamp; to dress his soul; to renew acts of grace by way of prayer; to make amends in all the evils he hath done; and to supply all the defects of duty, as much as his past condition requires, and his present can admit.
6. According as the condition of the sickness or the weakness of the man is observed, so the exhortation is to be less, and the prayers more, because the life of the man was his main preparatory; and therefore, if his condition be full of pain and infirmity, the shortness and small number of his own acts is to be supplied by the acts of the ministers and standers-by, who are, in such case, to speak more to God for him than to talk to him. For the prayer of the righte ous, when it is fervent, hath a promise to prevail much in behalf of the sick person. But exhortations must prevail with their own proper weight, not by the passion of the speaker. But yet this assistance by way of prayers is not to be done by long offices, but by frequent, and fervent, and holy in which offices if the sick man joins, let them be ́ short and apt to comply with his little strength and great infirmities: if they be said in his behalf without his conjunction, they that pray, may prudently use their own liberty, and take no measures, but their own devotions and opportunities, and the sick man's necessities.
When he hath made this general address and preparatory entrance to the work of many days and periods, he may descend to particulars by the following instruments and dis
2 James, v. 16.
Of ministering in the Sick Man's Confession of sins
THE first necessity, that is to be served, is that of repentance, in which the ministers can in no way serve him, but by first exhorting him to confession of his sins, and declaration of the state of his soul. For unless they know the manner of his life, and the degrees of his restitution, either they can do nothing at all, or nothing of advantage and certainty. His discourses, like Jonathan's arrows, may shoot short, or shoot over, but not wound where they should, nor open those humours, that need a lancet or a cautery. To this purpose the sick man may be reminded.
Arguments and Exhortations to move the Sick Man
1. That God hath made a special promise to confession of sins. "He that confesseth his sins, and forsaketh them, shall have mercya:" and, "If we confess our sins, God is righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 2. That confession of sins is a proper act and introduction to repentance. 3. That when the Jews, being warned by the sermons of the Baptist, repented of their sins, they confessed their sins to John, in the susception of baptism. 4. That the converts, in the days of the apostles, returning to Christianity, instantly declared their faith and their repentance, by confession and declaration of their deeds, which they then renounced, abjured, and confessed to the apostles. 5. That confession is an act of many virtues together. 6. It is the gate of repentance. 7. An in- ́ strument of shame and condemnation of our sins; 8. A glorification of God, so called by Joshua, particularly in the case of Achan; 9. An acknowledgment, that God is just in punishing; for, by confessing of our sins, we also confess his justice, and are assessors with God in this condemnation of ourselves. 10. That, by such an act of judging ourselves, we escape the more angry judgment of God: St. Paul ex
Prov. xxviii. 13. b John, i. 9. e Matt. iii. 6. d Acts, xix. 18.
pressly exhorting us to it, upon that very inducement. 11. That confession of sins is so necessary a duty, that, in all Scriptures, it is the immediate preface to pardon, and the certain consequent of godly sorrow, and an integral or constituent part of that grace, which, together with faith, makes up the whole duty of the gospel. 12. That in all ages of the gospel, it hath been taught and practised respectively, that all the penitents made confessions proportionable to their repentance, that is public or private, general or particular. 13. That God by testimonies from heaven, that is, by his word, and by a consequent rare peace of conscience, hath given approbation to this holy duty. 14. That by this instrument, those, whose office it is to apply remedies to every spiritual sickness, can best perform their offices. 15. That it is by all churches esteemed a duty, necessary to be done in cases of a troubled conscience. 16. That what is necessary to be done in one case, and convenient in all cases, is fit to be done by all persons. 17. That, without confession, it cannot easily be judged concerning the sick person, whether his conscience ought to be troubled or no, and therefore it cannot be certain, that it is not necessary. 18. That there can be no reason against it, but such as consults with flesh and blood, with infirmity and sin, to all which confession of sins is a direct enemy. 19. That now is that time, when all the imperfections of his repentance and all the breaches of his duty are to be made up, and that, if he omits this opportunity, he can never be admitted to a salutary and medicinal confession. 20. That St. James gives an express precept, that we Christians should confess our sins to each other, that is, Christian to Christian, brother to brother, the people to their minister; and then he makes a specification of that duty, which a sick man is to do, when he hath sent for the elders of the church. 21. That, in all this, there is no more lies upon him; but "if he hides his sins, he shall not be directed," so said the wise man; but ere long he must
e 1 Cor. xi. 31.
f Si tacuerit qui percussus est, et non egerit pœnitentiam, nec vulnus suum fratri et magistro voluerit confiteri, magister qui linguam habet ad curandum, facilè ei prodesse non poterit. Si enim erubescat ægrotus vulnus medico confiteri, quod ignorat medicina non curat. St. Hierom. ad caput. 10. Eccles. Si enim hoc fecerimus, et revelaverimus peccata nostra non solùm Deo, sed et his qui possunt mederi vulneribus nostris atque peccatis, delebuntur peccata nostra.--Orig. hom. 17. in Lucam.
the number of them, that are to be saved, is but a very few in respect of those, that are to descend into sorrow and everlasting darkness. That we have covenanted with God in baptism to live a holy life. That the measures of holiness in the Christian religion are not to be taken by the evil proportions of the multitude, and common fame of looser and less severe persons; because the multitude is that, which does not enter into heaven, but the few, the elect, the holy servants of Jesus. That every habitual sin does amount to a very great guilt in the whole, though it be but in a small instance. That if the righteous scarcely be saved, then there will be no place for the unrighteous and the sinner to appear in, but places of horror and amazement. That confidence hath destroyed many souls, and many have had a sad portion, who have reckoned themselves in the calendar of saints. That the promises of heaven are so great, that it is not reasonable to think that every man, and every life, and an easy religion, shall possess such infinite glories. That although heaven is a gift, yet there is a great severity and strict exacting of the conditions on our part to receive that gift. That some persons, who have lived strictly for forty years together, yet have miscarried by some one crime at last, or some secret hypocrisy, cr a latent pride, or a creeping ambition, or a fantastic spirit; and therefore much less can they hope to receive so great portions of felicities, when. their life hath been a continual declination from those severities, which might have created confidence of pardon and acceptation, through the mercies of God and the merits of Jesus. That every good man ought to be suspicious of himself, and in his judgment concerning his own condition to fear the worst, that he may provide for the better. That we are commanded to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. That this precept was given with great reason, considering the thousand thousand ways of miscarrying. That St. Paul himself, and St. Arsenius, and St. Elzearius, and divers other remarkable saints, had, at some times, great apprehensions of the dangers of failing of the mighty price of their high calling. That the stake that is to be secured, is of so great an interest, that all our industry and all
Apud Surium, die 27. Sept.