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VISITATION OF THE SICK, $c.
IVhen any person is sick, notice shall be given thereof to the Minister of the Parish.
As “ every good gift and every per" fect gift is from above," the Mini. ster cannot enter upon this office of visiting a Sick Person better than by privately addressing God beforehand, that he would grant him grace to enable him to discharge this most important duty to the advantage of the Person he is to visit, and to the satisfying of his own conscience ; for which purpose, if he be not provided with one, here follows
* A short * A short prayer for the blessing of God on the endeavours of a Minister to assist any Sick Person, which may be used just before he visits him.
MAKE me, O Lord, ever ready to do to others, whatever in like circumstances I should wish them to do for me; particularly to visit me in my sickness, and assist me under it by their spiritual advice. May I now be enabled so to speak to him with whom I am going to converse, as to excite in him “ repent“ ance towards God, and faith towards " our Lord Jesus Christ.”—Give me a considerate mind to weigh what is fit to be said, and make me wise and serious, pious and charitable in what I speak, that it may be edifying, and give no just cause of offence. How shall I so apply myself as to be useful to him? Lord, direct me! Assist and bless me in the means and endeavours I shall use to attain this desirable end. Open thou, O Lord, his eyes; soften his heart; strengthen his weakness; restore him to health, if it be
• From Dr. Stonhouse's " Sick Man's Friend." Page 176. Edit. 1788,
thy good pleasure * ; [or, grant him such ease and comfort as shall seem good unto thee in his present weak condition, from which thou seemest to deny all hopes of recovery, and leavest us little or no room to pray for it,] and give him growth in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
* The words, “ If it be thy good pleasure," are not in Dr. Stonhouse's prayer. I have added them to qualify the foregoing petition, “ restore him " to health," although indeed all our petitions are to be offered up in submission to the will of God. But as in some cases all hopes of recovery seein to be denied, and little or no ground seems left us to pray for it, I think the above petition is not suitable on all occasions. It is no uncommon thing for a Minister to visit a Sick Person labouring under a disorder of a very long continuance, of a recovery from which the least hope cannot be entertained from any human skill, and we have no warrant now to expect miracles to be wrought in favour of the sick. Instead, therefore, of praying absolutely for health to those who are under such circumstances, would it not be better to vary the expression, thus, “ Grant him such ease and 46 comfort as shall seem good unto thee in his “ present weak condition, from which thou seemest " to deny all hopes of recovery, and leavest us " little or no room to pray for it.”
THE FIRST VISIT.
On coming into the Sick Person's house 'the Minister shall say,
Peace be to this House, and to all that dwell in it.
Before the Minister proceeds to prayer, it may not be amiss for him to address the Sick Person in some such form as the following,
IN compliance with your request, for, having heard of your sickness,] I call on you, my christian brother, to assist you with my prayers and spiritual advice. I hope it will please God to support you under this illness, and in his good time to deliver you from it; or, if that should not be his will, that you will endeavour to prepare yourself for a happy departure out of this Life.
* Be assured that sicknesses and such sort of calamities are not sent upon men by God without cause; but for some good end, and such as may prove salutary to them : and that therefore it is
the duty of all to behave themselves patiently under the evils which are sent upon them. I wish you therefore seriously to consider with yourself for what cause this sickness is sent unto you: and that you would resolve so to regulate your behaviour, as that it may be agreeable and consonant to the word of God.
“And that you may be willing and able to do this, suffer me to inform you, that God sends diseases upon us sometimes to try our patience, and that then it is our duty to bear his inflictions patiently :sometimes to root out of our minds too great a fondness for worldly things; and that therefore it is highly incumbent upon us, when sickness falls upon us, to learn from it that worldly things do not deserve our love, and that the things which are above, are to be sought after with the whole strength of our minds.Sometimes also, if not always, to lead us to repentance; and that it behoves us, if at any time we are afflicted by sickness, to exercise a penitent mind for the sins which we have committed, to hate our former offences, and then at least to di. rect our minds to more wholesome counsels *.
* This is taken from Dr. Stearne's “ Tractatus de Visitatione infirmorum.” Page 7.