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SO many and such excellent treatises on the duty and manner of Visiting the Sick, having come from the pens of some of the most eminent divines of our church, it is with no small degree of anxiety for the reception of the following pages, compiled chiefly from some of them, that I submit them to publick perusal. .
It is, I believe, generally allowed, that the Office for the Visitation of the Sick, is far from being so compleat and perfect as might be wished. “The few collects provided in our Liturgy for this service are indeed so excellent a pattern, that they are happiest who can best imitate them; but it is to be lamented, that there was not such a farther provision in that Office, as might have made the attempts of private
persons unnecessary.” This is the opinion of one * “ of those learned divines” alluded to above, and in the discharge of this important duty they who have been anxious to perform it, as they ought, have, by attempting to adhere to that form only, often experienced great difficulty. To me. it has frequently occurred, that some improvement might be made upon it by not performing the whole service at one Visit, even if the person visited be not very sick; for if he be, we are then directed by the rubric to end the exhortation at a certain part of it. But as a Sick Person is apt to grow weary, and to be incapable of giving so strict attention to the Minister, as it is to be wished he should, any length of time; I have thought that the Office might, very profitably be divided into three or four Visits, to be made at times so seasonable to the Sick Person, as to guard against that weariness which is
* Dr. Dodwell. See his excellent Preliminary Dissertation..
generally too apt to be occasioned, when he is required to attend to the whole at once, as it now stands. By adopting the aid with which we have been furnished by some of the best and wisest of our divines, (and to some laymen too are we very much indebted for similar assistance). I have ventured to make the attempt; and have accordingly divided “ the Order for the Visitation of the Sick” into four Visits, so contrived as in the first to take in the first prayers and part of the Exhor: tation ;- in the second, to proceed with the remainder of the Exhortation, and to examine the Sick Person's faith, as the church directs; proposing the use of the Creed in some short questions after it;- in the third after reading to him another serious exhortation, to inquire into the truth of his repentance by proposing some such questions as may be proper to call his sins to remembrance, and to lead him to a confession of them :-and in the fourth, to speak to him on the nature and benefit of
Absolution, after a sincere profession of his faith, repentance, and satisfaction of injuries ;-in each Visit making use of such prayers, exhortations and interrogatories, as seemed to me most likely to produce the effect -aimed at in the Visitation of Sick Persons, viz. such sincere repentance towards God, and true faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, as may, thro' the merits of our blessed Redeemer, be available towards obtaining the pardon of their sins, and the salvation of their souls.
I must further observe, that it is expected that these Visits should be paid, when the Sick Person is capable of admitting them to his advantage; which, un, fortunately for him, and much to the embarrassment of the Minister, is too frequently not the case ; for every one who has the care of a large, or even a small parish, knows that the Visits of the Clergyman are often not required, till those of the Physician are become needless : And then of what service can the Minister's be