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to be the Author of our Being, and the God of our Health ; that it is he alone, who boldeth our Life from Deftru&tion, and givetb Medicine to beal our Sickness.
Considering therefore, that Health and Sickness depend upon the Will and Pleasure of God
that he over-rules the Powers of Nature, co-operates with fecond Causes, bleffeth to us the Methods and Prescriptions of Art, and Checks the raging and malignity of a Disease, there is the same Reason to pray unto him, that he would raise up the Sick, by blessing the ordinary Means, as there was, when it was done by a supernatural Gift. But then
4tbly, This ought to be done early and be times, whilst the Patient is capable of the Ministries and Instructions of Religion: Not de ferr'd (as the common custom is) till the Violence of the Distemper hath got Head; till like a mighty Flood, it bears down all before it 3
defies the Power of Druggs, and is become incurable : When indeed, nothing but a Miracle can save the Sick.
However, as the World goes, at last the Minister is fent for. And (God knows) he has a difficult Task, and a very uncomfortable Work to go about: He is to teach a Man how to live, when he is going to die, to make him sensible of his Errors, and penitent for his Sins, who has obstinately persisted in the one, and long delighted in the other. But what must be done in this Cafe? Must we
leave them to themselves; to be worry'd by the Guilts, and under all the Horrors of Difpair ? Must we dismiss them into their eternal State, without any Advice or Hope? Truly no; the Compassions of Human Nature, the Charity of Christian Religion will not admit of that : Something must be done, and all that can be done by us, is, to put them upon shewing all the Fruits of Faith, and Charity, and true Repentance, their present Conditions is capable of : And then, with the greatest Humility of Mind, with the most ardent Supplications, to implore the Mercy of God to their Souls.
This is the great Fault of the Christian World ; to remit the Care of their Souls to the last part of their Lives; tho' it is certain, their Religion, of all others, gives the least Encouragement to it: The whole Tenor of the Gospel is wholly against it : It hath been reproved a Thousand times: The Folly of it expos’d, and the Danger of it evinc'd by invincible Reasons and Demonstrations. And I cannot hope to be more successful in this Argument than others, who have done it much better before. Only may I be allowed to be a plain and well-meaning Monitor, to advise all those, who intend to live and die Well, to take those Books into their Hands ; to read those incomparable Discourses, which (especially of late) have been preached and writ apon this Subject, with such Plainness and Strength ; such"Clearnefs and Demonstration, that if they have not a very good Effeet, they will certainly have a very bad One, i. e. they will leave this Generation without Excuse.
But I would gladly bope better Things, and Things which accompany Salvation, That as God in his good Providence) hath blessed this Church and Nation with excellent Men and excellent Labours ; fo (that as the Fruits of them are in some good measure seen, by the thriving of sincere Devotion, and an early Piety amongst us) in the next Generation they will come to their full Accomplishment and Perfection.
7 This may
be sufficient for the Second Thing propos'd, viz. to Thew what useful Iuftructions may be yet gathered from this Text of Scripture : How necessary and beneficial it is to call for the Elders of the Church, to pray over the Sick. Tho' we neither advance the Practice into a Sacrament; having no Warrant from Scripture so to do; nor anoint with Oil as the Apostles did, having not the Gift of miraculous Healing, which prevailid in those blessed Days. I proceed now in the 3d and last Place.
III. To subjoin an Inference or two from what hath been discoursed, and so conclude. And,
1. Hence I infer, That the great Power of Religion, and the Hopes of Salvation are to be laid upon a Christian and Pious Course of Y
Life. For tho' I readily grant, and do verify believe, that tliere is a real Benefit, a secret and ineffable Comfort in all the Holy Infticutions of Christ's Church: In Prayers and Sacraments : In Sacerdotal Benediction and Absolution : In Ghostly Advice and Asistance froin the Ministers of Religion ; especially, in the Moments of Death: Yet the Efficacy of these does not depend upon the meer opus operåtum ; but upon the Capableness of the Subjest ; and the Qualifications of the Person they are applied unto : If there be not a Principle of Grace and Religion in the Heart If there be not a Thread of San&tity and Holinefs in the Life' ; vain are our Hopes from these external Ministracicns !
God does not save Men' by tlaked Forms and Mysteries ; but by the plain and substantial Daties of Religion ; such are unfeigned Faith; daily Devotion ' a good Conscience ; and an approved Repentance.
Believe it, my Brethren, the best Preparaa tion for Death' is to live every Day well under a devout and awful Senre in the Faith, and Fear, and Worship of God. This when: ever it shall please him to viGt us with Sick- i nels, or to call us out of this World, will be our strongest Hold' and our safest Retreat.
Ah! we shall then feel the ravishing Consolations of our former Piety: Our Prayers, our Alms, and our just Dealing will return into our Bosom, big with the Messages and Reports of Joy. We all reflect with
infinite Satisfaction how often we liave devoutli ta .
thankfully commemorated the Death of our Saviour in the holy Supper : We shall then have little more to do, but to make a decent Recess, and "bid a Christian Adieu to this World : To call for the Elders of the Church; to send for the Minister of God to také an Account of our Lives and Consciences, and to let us depart under his folemn Prayers and Benedictions.
2dly, Hence I infer, The great Wisdom and Safety of then calling in the Assistance of God's Servânts and Ministers.' · Our Christian State in this World, 'in strictness of Speech, and without a Metaphor, is a Warfare : And there fore always stands in need of Help and ReTief
. But then especially, when we are strugling with those two potent Enemies, Death and the Devil. In this Conflict, if there bé Messenger with us ; an Interpreter
; one emonga Thousand, then (as it is in fob) we have found a Ransom, be will deliver us from going down to the Pit.
First, He will deliver us from the Scruples and Despondencies we may then labour under. For generally, our natural Fears (augmented doubtless
' by the Vigilance and Malice of the Tempter) I fay, our natural Fears are then apt to suggeft Doubts and Scruples to our Minds, and to drive us into Difpair :