Sidor som bilder

13. II.

their abominable Covetousness and Dishonesty, in keeping back part of the Price of the Polo session which was sold to be laid at the Apostle's Feet. And St. Paul fmote Elymas the Sorcerer with Blindness, for his open and malicious Opposition of the Gospel. And in the Church at Corinth, those who had prophaned the Holy Supper, by their rude and irreverent Behaviour, making it an ungodly Ri

ot, were visited by God's immediate Hand, Cor.ll. for that Impiety and Scandal. For this Cause, 30

many among you are weak, and fickly, and many fleep, i.e. many are dead.

This, I suppose, may be sufficient to clear the Sense of these Words : That the Reason of this Practice of anointing the Sick with Oil, was particular and Temporary ; peculiar to the Apostolical Ages, or to those adjoining next unto them : That the Effects produced by it were extraordinary and miraculous ; and by consequence, far from establishing a standing Çuftom, much less a perpetual Sacrament in the Church.

Well, but if this be the Sense of the Place, of what use is this Text of Scripture to us? If it must be understood of Bodily Distempers, and the Gift of Supernatural Healing, the Church, in its present State, will receive no Benefit by it. For faith Estius, The Person bere Spoken of was a Believer ; but Miracles were chiefly for the Conversion of Infidels and Unbelievers. And faith Bellarmine, According to that. Interpretation, the Text belongs "not at all to us.


Fair and softly! Doubtless all those Things belong to us, and to our Posterity for ever, which are for the Advantage and Confirmation of the Christian Faith. The Gift of Healing in the early Times of Christianity, is one of those noble Testimonies which God hath left upon Record, for the Conviction of Jews, Infidels, and Atheists, to the End of the World. But left this Answer should seem too general and Evasive, I proceed to what I proposed in the ad place, viz,

II. To shew how far the Reafon and Usefulness of the Practice, do yet continue in the Christian Church : What it is therein, that is beneficial and available to the dying Penitent. This I shall do as plainly as I can, in the Particulars which follow.

1. The Text speaks full and plain to all fick Persons; and calls upon them to seek to God, then especially. Sickness and Diseases are that to private Men, which Plagues and Judgments are to Kingdoms and Nations : They are sent to awaken thein out of their Şecurity ; to teach them Righteousness; and to call them to Repentance. For as certain as it is, that the issues of Life and Death are in the Hands of God; so certain it is, that every Sickness which befals any of us, is from him; and comes with some Commission or other ; whether it bę to remove us out of the World ; or to exercise our Faith and Pa

tience ;

[ocr errors]

tience; or to mortify our Sin, or to put us upon amendment of Life.

For this Reason, our Church directs her

Ministers thus to admonish the Sick Person. filit. of Dearly Beloved! Know this, that Almighty he Sick. God is the Lord of Life and Death; where

fore, what foever your Sickness is, Know you certainly, that it is God's Visitation, either for the Trial of your Patience and the Example of others : Or that your Faith may be found in the Day of the Lord Laudable" and Glorious ; or to correct and amend in you, whatsoever dotb offend the Eyes of your Heavenly Father.

So that Men ought to look upon Sickness as one of the folemn Messages and Calls of God; and therefore, it should put them upon a serious Examination and Review of their Lives; whether it be not for some remarkable Neglect or Transgression of the Duty ; for fome latent Corruption, cherished and delighted in; for some old Sin, not sufficiently mortify'd ; and make their Sickness the Occasion of a very searching Repentance.

Now because they may not be so able, nor so fit to judge of themselves; to understand the Nature, and to discern the Danger of their Guilt ; they should call for the Elders of the Church, to state their Accompts, to give them Comfort and Settlement ; and therefore,

2dly, The Sick Person should send for the Elders and Ministers of the Church to receive the Benefit of their Ghostly Councels and

Advice :

[ocr errors]

Advice : For truly it is a Season which stands

need of these: In our Health we
are apt to forget ; nay, we can hardly. con-
ceive the Horrors, and the Deftitution of the

Then it is, that God writes bitter Things against us, and make us to possess the Iniquities of our Youth. Then it is, that the Errors, and Omissions, and Guilts of our former Lives return upon us, look us full in the Face, and lie as a dead-weight upon our Consciences. Then it is, that we begin the dreadful Conflict with our last Enemy; that we feel the sensible Decays and Consumptions of Nature, the Indispositions of our Bodies, and Disorders of our Thoughts, the Faintings, and Languishments of our Spirits. In a Word, Then it is, that the Tempter is moft busy with us, to perplex or to ensnare us; to cart us into Doubts and Scruples, and to remove us from our Stedfastness and trust in God.

Here then, if ever, we have need of some Able and Wife Assistant, to stand by us, and to deal faithfully with us. If ever the Offices of Religion be comfortable ; if ever the Services of Christ's Ministers be necessary ; certainly they are so in thisExtremity. In the Words of Elibu to Job, Wben bis Soul draweth nigh Job 33. Bentó the Grave, and bis Life to the Destroyers. 22. &c. If there be a Messenger with bim, an Interpreter, one among a Thousand, to fhew unto Man his Uprightness: He fall pray unto God, and be will be favourable unto him, and he hall see bis Face with posto


And that these Christian Ministries may be the more successful, we must be careful to act therein sincerely and impartially; to confess our Sins without Concealment or Defalcation; to open the Grief of our Soul with much Freedom and Ingenuity. For by this Means, the Minister will be better able to pass a right Judgment upon our State, and to make fuitable Application to our Case. By this Means also, we our felves shall be delivered from the Danger of Self-flattery, and false Hopes on the one Hand ; and of being swallowed up of too much Dispair and Sorrow on the other.

3dly, The Sick Person should send for the Elders of the Church, in order to the Recovery of Bodily Health. I do not say for this solely, nor principally ; nor that the present Pastors of the Church may pretend to the Prayer of Faith, mentioned in the next Verse; which, as I believe, was founded on the miraculous Gift of Healing ; and was a certain Persuasion, that by virtue of it, the fick Person should be raised up.

But the ceasing of Miracles has not superfeded the ordinary Means of Grace, nor render'd the Institutions of Religion unnecessary, Still we ought to pray in this Faith, that God heareth his Servants, when they cry unto him in their Adversity: That he is pleas?d with those Prayers which expresses our fole Dependance upon him; which acknowledge him


« FöregåendeFortsätt »