« PreviousContinue »
ousness and life, give unto him his Holy Spirit to create and strengthen faith, to lay hold upon Christ, to work in him comfortable evidences of his love, to arm him against temp• tations, to take off his heart from the world, to sanctify his
present visitation, to furnish him with patience and strength ' to bear it, and to give him perseverance in faith to the end.
" That, if God shall please to add to his days, he would « vouchsafe to bless and fanctify all means of his recovery, to
remove the disease, renew his strength, and enable him to ' walk worthy of God, by a faithful remembrance, and dili
gent observing of such vows and promises of holiness and
obedience, as men are apt to make in times of fickness, that ' he may glorify God in the remaining part of his life.
• And, if God have determined to finish his days by the present visitation, he may find such evidence of the pardon
of all his fins, of his interest in Christ, and eternal life by . Christ, as may cause his inward man to be renewed, while his outward man decayeth; that he may behold death with
out fear, cast himself wholly upon Christ without doubting, • desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, and so receive "the end of his faith, the salvation of his soul, through the
only merits and intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ, our alone Saviour and all-sufficient Redeemer.'
The minister shall admonish him also, (as there shall be cause) to set his house in order, thereby to prevent inconveniencies; to take care for payment of his debts, and to make reftitution or satisfaction where he hath done any wrong; to be reconciled to those with whom he hath been at variance, and fully to forgive all men their trespasses against him, as he expects forgiveness at the hand of God.
Lastly, The minister may improve the present occafion to exhort those about the sick person, to consider their own mortality, to return to the Lord, and make peace with him; in health to prepare for sickness, death, and judgment; and all the days of their appointed time so to wait until their change
come, that when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, they may appear with him in glory.
Concerning Burial of the Dead.
WHEN any person departeth this life, let the dead bo
dy, upon the day of burial, be decently attended from the house to the place appointed for publick burial, and there immediately interred, without any ceremony.
And because the customs of kneeling down, and praying by, or towards the dead corps, and other such usages, in the place where it lies before it be carried to burial, are superstitious; and for that, praying, reading, and singing both in going to, and at the grave, have been grossly abused, are no way beneficial to the dead, and have proved many ways hurtful to the living; therefore let all such things be laid aside.
Howbeit, we judge it very convenient, that the Christian friends, which accompany the dead body to the place appointed for publick burial, do apply themselves to meditations and conferences suitable to the occasion; and that the minister, as upon other occasions, so at this time, if he be present, may put them in remembrance of their duty.
That this shall not extend to deny any civil respects or deferences at the burial, suitable to the rank and condition of the party deceased, while he was living.
Concerning Publick solemn Fasting.
flicted upon a people, or apparently imminent, or by some extraordinary provocations notoriously deserved; as also when some special blessing is to be fought and obtained, publick solemn fasting (which is to continue the whole day) is a duty that God expectech from that nation, or people.
A religious fast requires total abstinence, not only from all food (unless bodily weakness do manifestly disable from holding out till the fast be ended, in which case somewhat M in 2
may be taken, yet very sparingly, to support nature, when ready to faint) but also from all worldly labour, discourses and thoughts, and from all bodily delights and such like, (altho' at other times lawful) rich apparel, ornaments and such like, during the fast; and much more from whatever is in the nature, or use, scandalous and offensive, as gaudith attire, lascivious habits and gestures, and other vanities of either sex; which we recommend to all ministers, in their places, diligently and zealously to reprove, as at other times, so especially at a fast, without respect of persons, as there lball be occasion.
Before the publick meeting, each family and person apart are privately to use all religious care to prepare their hearts to such a folemn work, and to be early at the congregation.
So large a portion of the day, as conveniently may be, is to be spent in public reading and preaching of the word, with finging of psalms, fit to quicken affections suitable to such a duty: but especially in prayer, to this or the like effe&t;
• Giving glory to the great majesty of God, the Creator, • preferver and supreme ruler of all the world, the better to • affect us thereby with an holy reverence and awe of him,
Acknowledging his manifold, great and tender mercies, efpecially to the church and nation, the more effectually to
foften and abase our hearts before him. Humbly confefling • of fins of all sorts, with their several aggravations; justify
ing God's righteous judgments, as being far less than our
fins do deserve; yet humbly and earnestly, imptoring his • mercy and grace for ourselves, the church and nation, for
our king and all in authority, and for all others for whom • we are bound to pray (according, as the present exigent re
quireth) with more fpecial importunity and enlargement • than at other times; applying, by faith, the promises and
goodness of God, for pardon, help, and deliverance from • the evils felt, feared, or deferved; and for obtaining the bleffings which we need and expect, together with a giv
ing up of ourselves wholly and for ever unto the Lord.'
In all these, the ministers, who are the mouths of the people unto God, ought so to speak from their hearts, upon serious and thorough premeditation of them, that both them
selves and their people, may be much affected, and even melt: ed thereby, especially with sorrow for their fins, that it may be indeed a day of deep humiliation and afflicting of the soul.
Special choice is to be made of such scriptures to be read, and of such texts for preaching, as may best work the hearts of the hearers to the special business of the day, and most dispose them to humiliation and repentance: inlifting most
on those particulars, which each minister's observation and : experience tells him are most conducing to the edification and reformation of that congregation to which he preacheth.
Before the close of the publick duties, the minister is, in his own and the people's names, to engage his and their hearts, to be the Lord's, with professed purpose and resolution to reform whatever is amiss among them, and more particularly such fins as they have been more remarkably guilty of; and to draw near unto God, and to walk more closely and faithfully with him in new obedience, than ever before.
He is also to admonish the people with all importunity, that the work of that day doth not end with the publick ducies of it, but that they are so to improve the remainder of the day, and of their whole life, in reinforcing upon themselves and their families in private, all those godly affections
and resolutions which they professed in publick, as that they I may be settled in their hearts for ever, and themselves may
more sensibly find that God hath smelt a sweet savour in Christ from their performances, and is pacified towards them, by answers of grace, in pardoning of fin, iq removing of judgments, in averting or preventing of plagues, and in conferring of blessings, suitable to the conditions and prayers of his people, by Jesus Christ. Besides folemn and general fasts injoined by authority, we
judge that, at other times, congregations may keep days of fasting, as divine providence fhall administer unto them special occasion; and also that families may do the same, so it be not on days wherein the congregation to which they do belong is to meet for fasting, or other publick duties of worship.
Concerning the Observation of Days of public Thanksgiving.
THEN any such day is to be kept, let notice be given
of it, and of the occasion thereof, some convenient time before, that the people may the better prepare themfelves thereunto.
The day being come, and the congregation (after private preparations) being assembled, the minister is to begin with a word of exhortation, to stir up the people to the duty for which they are met, and with a short prayer for God's affistance and blessing, (as at other conventions for publick worship) according to the particular occasion of their meeting.
Let him then make some pichy narration of the deliverance obtained, or mercy received, or of whatever hath occasioned that assembling of the congregation, that all may better understand it, or be minded of it, and more affected with it.
And, because singing of psalms is of all other the most proper ordinance for expreiling of joy and thanksgiving, let fome pertinent psalm or psalms.be sung for that purpose, before or after the reading of some portion of the word suitable to the present business.
Then let the minister, who is to preach, proceed to further exhortation and prayer before his sermon, with special reference to the present work: after which, let him preach upon some text of scripture pertinent to the occalion.
The fermon ended, let himn not only pray, as at other times after preaching is directed, with remembrance of the necessities of the church, king, and state (if before the sermon they were omitted) but enlarge himself in due and solemn thanksgiving for former mercies and deliverances, but more espe.