« VorigeDoorgaan »
He wrote also to Mr. Moulin, his brother by affinity, in these words:
"My dearest Brother,
"It so pleaseth God, that you should remain alive after me: I now write, being upon the borders between life and death, after a sermon preached on Christmas day, which was followed with a pertinacious retention facium in alvo induratarum, and of the retaining of that load, the dissolution of the body with grievous pains is the necessary consequent. Your daughter, which ministereth to me in this agony, hath undertaken to write to you of my constancy, and the grace which God affordeth to me. Live unto the glory of his name, remembering me, and mine, who die, "Your most affectionate, &c."
When he had written these letters, he found himself exceedingly wearied, and desired to be had to bed again. All this day was spent in receiving his friends, especially the pastors who were of divers nations; unto whom he discoursed largely of surrendering up himself into the hands of God, and recited to them a confession of his faith, and exhorted them to proceed cheerfully in that work which the Lord had committed to them. He gladly received those consolations whereby they endeavoured to assuage his pains, and heard their prayers for him with like joy, always adding, that he was much refreshed by them. All this day the time seemed very long to him, while he expected the coming of his son.
"How afraid am I (said he) that I shall not see my son! it is the only thing I desire in this life."
When he was wholly given up by the physicians, and now for many days had neither received nor voided any thing, a little after noon, a good man, that was touched with our affliction, said unto us, that it seemed a very wonderful and strange thing to him, that we would suffer a man of so great merit, who was yet strong and hearty, to go out of the world without trying of any remedies: adding, that he knew a person that was held with the same disease, that was helped by baths prescribed by a surgeon in the city, who was indeed very skilful in his art. This person therefore was immediately sent for, who when he came, finding the sick man strong enough to abide the use of that remedy, without delay prepared a bath, by which he found himself much eased, and his pains assuaged; and that Monday night, he had a better night of it than ordinary.
The next day in the morning they repeated the bath, after which a clyster was injected, which seemed to have begun its work: all that were about the sick man rejoiced, and bade him be of good courage, promising his recovery from his distemper; and, to say the truth, himself began, if not to hope, yet at least to think, it might be so. In the following evening the bath was repeated again, after which being had to bed, he began to sleep sweetly: but had scarcely rested half an hour, before he was awakened by the pain of his side, and a greater tension of his belly than before, and the access of a fever. Nothing was left unattempted for his relief, by fomentations and unctions; but all was to no purpose: the complaint of the sick man was increased, and he was tired out and afflicted with extraordinary restlessness. And then his niece perceived that there was something else troubled him more than the pain of his body; for he, remaining silent, groaned forth most bitter sighs, whereas before, the more he was tormented with pain, the more ardently did he use to pour out his prayers to God. It was supper time when she was left with him alone, and then with a mournful voice he asked, "Who is there, is any stranger present?" and when his niece had told him, no: she asked him, 'Whence doth this unusual disquietude proceed? you seem to me to suffer something extraordinary; what is become of that cheerfulness through which you were wont to pass through your pains with the greatest joy?'
"Alas! (said he) he is departed from me that made glad my heart: I have grieved that holy Spirit the Comforter, who had filled my soul with peace and joy; I have been so wretched and unhappy as to give ear to those who spake unto me of my returning into this world: I have been tickled with the desire of living: and how could such a thing possibly be, after the fruits of the heavenly Canaan had been tasted by me, and I had by faith taken hold of supernatural good things? what is now necessary to be done? whither shall I go? if I speak, he answers not; yea he hath taken from me the power of speaking: ah, sad change. An holy fire had kindled my meditation, but now vain thoughts hurry me: I cannot get out of my mind an old satire, and such like trifles. Thus while I am at death's door, I go backwards."
And here casting his arms about her neck, he thus proceeded: "My dear niece, help me, continue to discourse of good things with me: call upon the Comforter to return, and renew that excellent work which he had advanced in me. O return! return! confirm me with thy strength, before I go hence, and be seen no more."
Then she suggested to him those places of scripture, which by the divine aid were brought to her mind; in answer to which, every moment he interposed such words, as made it evident that his soul which before was sinking under its burden, began to gather strength and comfort again. He had scarce been a quarter of an hour in that conflict, before he fell into a swoon, which occasioned the hasty calling in of his son, who was come to him but that morning; and when this sinking fit was over, there appeared in him again the same tranquillity and cheerfulness of countenance as formerly: and seeing those of his own household, with some friends that used to assist him, and watch with him by turns, in the next room, he attentively fixed his eyes upon each of them; and first addressing himself to his wife:
"Farewel (said he) my dearest yoke-fellow! we have lived together in peace for thirty years; and I thank thee for thy help, which hath been a great comfort unto me; for I did cast all domestic cares unto thee: continue I beseech thee to* love me my children with that pious affection, which hitherto thou hast had for them."
Then turning his speech to his son, he said, " And thou my son! love and honour this dearest companion of my life, the partner of all my joys and sorrows, which hath done the duty of a mother towards thee; this I desire of thee, and this I command thee, as thou expectest a blessing from God upon what I have gotten by my labour; divide it between you without quarrelling or contention, according to what is just and right; manage all thy affairs with all lenity and christian prudence; especially pursue peace, O Frederick! (for that was his son's name, to which he alluded) be rich in peace."
Then taking hold of both their hands, and joining them together: "Promise me, (said he) that you will maintain a holy and mutual friendship with each other." Which when they had both most solemnly promised to do, "I believe you (said he) for I have not cause to doubt of your sincerity; I know that you fear God, and that my last commands will be of great weight with you; even as I pray God that he will make my blessing effectual upon you."
Then turning to his wife, he said: "The Lord bless thee, my dear love, and strengthen thee; he is a husband to the widow, and a father of the fatherless."
And to his son, "The Almighty Father bless thee, my son, guide thee in all thy ways, enrich thee with all christian virtues,
They were his children by a former wife, for he had none by her
and plentifully make thee to abound in all spiritual and temporal blessings; regard not the world nor its deceitful hopes; for the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; place all thy felicity in the blessing of God: be strong in faith, and prepared unto every good work. Let the peace of God dwell in thee, and make thee peaceable and kind. Those infants, which I commend unto thee, and commit to thy trust, will be proper subjects for thee to exercise thy charity upon. I appoint and set thee over not only that little portion which I leave them, but especially their persons, that thou mayest take care of their instruction and education in piety and virtue; that they may be fitted for that service of God, which their nature and genius renders them capable of, and especially may apply themselves to the worship of God."
And then taking hold of the hand of the eldest of the children, he said, "Farewel dear child, the Lord make thee a good and a pious man, that thou mayest fill up the place of thy father and grandfather: and bless thee abundantly, and make thy studies prosperous unto his glory; which he will do if thou diligently call upon him, and if thou study to be diligent, sober, modest, and humbly obedient unto God and thy superiors, thy uncle in particular, who will be instead of a father to thee. Give dae obedience and honour unto thy mother; love thy brother and sister, and withdraw thyself from the company of young persons who would entice thee unto vice."
And unto his niece he thus spake: "Farewel my dear niece, the Lord bless thee! we have a kindred in the heavens which will endure for ever."
[This eminently holy man survived several days after the period to which the preceding account extends; and during the whole time his spiritual comfort and support remained without abatement. The narrative, however, which is given of his exercises is so similar to what has already been exhibited that we shall not insert it, except so far as relates to the close of the whole, which is as follows.]
About three o'clock in the morning of Saturday, January 7, his wife came near to him, and beholding in his countenance the image of death, she cheerfully said: Farewell, my dear! go rejoicing into eternal life.'
About half an hour after eight the colour of his face was wholly changed, and convulsive motions came on: then his niece asked him, if he yet had his understanding. "Alas (said he) speak:" (as complaining of their silence:) then said she, I pray you do
you still feel the sense of inward joy?' to which he replied intelligibly enough, "Yea: my confidence is firm in me." Then making a sign, that he would be raised a little; his son and his niece on each side enfolding their arms about him, lifted him higher: then fixing his eyes awhile upon them, he said, "Help me; I am going." Accordingly, the Lord bringing to their mind many choice scriptures apt for the occasion, they by turns proposed them to him; and he received them with great joy; adding "So it is:" and "Amen." Often also he would pronounce himself the last words of that portion of scripture, which they were rehearsing to him; as in Psalm xxxvi. “How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! therefore do the sons of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings: thou wilt abundantly satiof them with the fatness of thy house, and make them to drink of the rivers of thy pleasures;" which last sentence he rehearsed himself in the French metre. And the same he did from Psalm lxv. 4. "Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be abundantly satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple."
Then his son said, I am sorry that we are alone." "I am not alone (said he) God is with me." Be you then an evangelist to yourself, (said his son) forasmuch as you have received the ministry of reconciliation, deliver the tidings of peace to your
"That I do (saith he) my soul believes." Then fear nothing; He that believes in Jesus Christ shall never perish:' he added, "But shall have eternal life." While prayers were making for him in this last combat with the pains of death, at the end of almost every sentence he would interpose some word or words, expressing the sense of his mind with respect to those petitions. As thus, O great God, send thy spirit of consolation; "He is already come:" and give unto thy servant the sense of thy love, "That he hath done;" give unto him the garment of salvation, "He hath given it;" all is well, enter therefore thou good servant into the joy of thy Lord, he calleth thee. (At which words he raised up himself and stretched forth his arms:) also O Lord strengthen more and more the faith of thy servant in this last agony, let him see, let him hear thy voice, let him raise up himself, and take hold on eternal life, " Yea! I am of good comfort." Let us go to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, "It is done:" leave therefore with a joyful mind this body to the earth, and yield up thy spirit into the hands of God, “Who hath