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IN SICKNESS, we should consider that it is sent to IMPROVE US IN VIRTUE, and to coRRECT OUR SINs; when we bring it on ourselves, it shews us the folly and danger of doing so. Sin thus produces its own punihment, and is mercifully designed to work repentance to salvation (a). When men live dissolutely, and unrighteously, they are tormented with their own abominations (b). Despise not therefore the chastening of the Lord; for whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth (c). So that if we improve it as we ought, grow grace (d), and have reason to say
it was good for us that we were afflicted (e). We must bear it with patience and try to improve it to God's glory and our own salvation, by calling to mind our sins, repenting of them, and begging God's mercy and forgiveness through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, resolving by his grace
to avoid them for the time to come. In thy sickness be not negligent, but pray unto the Lord: leave off from sin, and order thy hands (that is, thy ways) aright, and cleanse thy heart from all wickedness, by repentance. This will be a sweet savour to God, and an offering that he will accept through his son (f). We should send to the clergyman of our parish and desire his advice and direction, as he is appointed to watch over our souls, as one that must give account(g). This should be done at the beginning of the illness, that we may have the more time to profit by it, and that the encrease of the illness itself may not prevent our receiving all the advantage of his ghostly counsel and advice (h) by making us insensible, or unable to attend to him, from pain or any other cause. A death-bed repentance has no certainty, because it has no foundation. The fear of death has made many persons promise and vow, what they never performed afterwards, when they recovered, God would not accept of what he saw was not sincere. There is no proof of sincerity but reformation, Faith and repentance produ'ce GOOD WORKS (i). Health is the time to shew these fruits, and not a death-bed. Besides, we may be taken off by sudden death, and those who neglect God in health, haye the least reason to expect his mercies at the time, or in the manner of their death. So that while (2) ? Cor. vii
, 10. (b) Wisdom, xii. 23. (c) Heb. xii. 5, 6. Job. v. 17. Prov, iii. 11, (d) ? Peter, iii. 18, (e) Psalm, cxix. 71, (f) Ecclus. xxxviii
. 9, 10, 11. (g) Heb. xii. 17. (h) Comununion office in the Common Prayer-book. (0) James, ii, 18, 20.
our excellent church teaches us to pray, from sudden death, good Lord deliver us (k), that we may not be cut off in our wickedness (1), it is our duty to be always ready
. Remember the parable of the virgins: the foolish ones were shut out (0.) We
must the recovery of our health, be thapkful for them, pray for a blessing upon them, and leave the event to God,
The Lord hath created MEDICINES Qụt of the earıb, and he that is wise will not abhor, but make a proper use and application of them. And he hath given men skill that HE might be honored in his marvellous works: of these works there is no end, and from such the Lord granteth peace over all the earth by the renewal of health and strength. Therefore give place to the physician for the Lord hath created him; let him not go from thee, for thou hast need of him, THERE IS A TIME when in their hands THERE IS GOOD SUCCESS: For THEY also shall PRAY unto the Lord, that he would prosper that which
They give for EASE AND REMEDY TO PROLONG LIFE (p). Therefore as they who sin, are punished with sickness, and fall into the hands of the physician (q), so the Lord hạth created him, that he may lift up thy head, heal thee, and take away thy pains (r); and as God graạts him honor from men, so is le commanded to honor and pray to God, for good success, and to be THANKFUL for it, for of the Most High alone cometh healing (s). Desire the prayers of the church and shew a good example to those about you: be kind to them, and thankful for their assistance. Read in the office for the visitation of the sick (t), and in that for the burial of the dead (t): or have them read to you: and use such of the prayers as may be suitable to your state : remembering that the grave may be ready for you (u), for every sickness may be unto death (v). If it pleases God that you should recover remember it is THE LORD who healeth thee (w); God is the Lord by whom you escape death (x), be thankful to him for it,
(k) The litany. (1) Psalm, xcix, 23, Bible Translation. Prov, . 88. m) Watt. xxiv. 44. and Luke, xii. 40. () Numb. xxiii, 10, (o) Matta XXV. verse 1 to 13. (p) Ecclus. xxxviii
. 4, 6, 8, 12, 13, 14, (9) Ecclus. xxxviii. 15. (10) Ecelus. xxxvii. 1, 3,7, (s) Ecelus. xxxviii, 1, 14, 2. (t) Common Prayer-book, see also Stanhope's Meditations and Prayers for Sick Persons, sold by Messrs. Rivingtons, St. Paul's Church-yard, price Su, (u) Job, xvii
. 1. (v) Isa, xxxyļi. 1. Tahn, xi, 4. (W) Exod. xv. 26, (x) Psalm, lxviii. 20.
congregations is always very irregular and confused some, they will tell us, are breaking in upon the service of the minister, others are sitting when they should stand, repeating when they should be silent, reading when they should hear, and altogether inconsistent with the Rubric, which is pretended to be so very decent and exact, and for which, at other times, they seem to express the highest veneration and regård. From hence these good-natured sophisters infer, that our Liturgy is abundantly too ceremonious, and is understood to be so by the greatest part of the people, who make use of what method and posture they please in their devotion, and most commonly in opposition to the rules so plainly laid down before them.
If there be any in our communion who give a just occasion for this censure, it is for the sake of such that I entertain the public upon this subject; and I am confident I exactly follow the design of this undertaking, when I attempt to regulate any failings or neglects that may happen in our religious assemblies, and endeavour that every thing might be done with decency and in order: I am ashamed that our comely and pious establishment of worship should degenerate into slovenliness, superstition, or profaneness, or that a stranger, by the rude and licentious deportment of the congregation, should be apt to conclude he was in a conventicle rather than in an English church.
What has occurred to me upon this occasion shall be offered with great plainness of expression, because I would be universally understood in a matter of that importance, upon which the acceptance of our prayers so entirely depends, and that prevents our offering before God the sacrifice of fools.
And in the first place, I fear it has been observed, that when the minister is reading the Exhortation in the beginning of the Common Prayer, some persons, with a very pious design, think themselves obliged to repeat the words after him, which is a very ignorant mistake, and introduces a confusion in our worship; for the busiņess of the people, at this time, is to listen with respect and reverence, that they may be prepared to join universally in the solemn Confession that follows: but it is a bold usurpation of the priest's office, for any one to repeat the Absolution after the minister, which a Deacon is not commissioned to do, much less any other member of the congregation : the direction in the Rubric is very plaid,
which enjoins it to be said by the Priest alone, and the people being penitent, are to receive it upon their knees, in a posture of submission and repentance.
Our custom of the people's joining in the reading of the Psalms, is perfectly divine, and corresponds with the primitive practice of the Catholic Church; and it is therefore a very false notion, though very common, to imagine that the clerk represents the whole congregation, and that he alone is to repeat in his turn with the minister: it is the duty of every member of the assembly to bear in part their answer as the clerk does, only it is proper that they do it with an humble, and he with a more audible voice, The posture, when the Psalms are rehearsed or sung, should be always standing, and herein we not only follow the example of the Jews, but the original direction of nature itself; for there is a very strong sympathy between our inward affections and the gestures of our bodies, and we express a joyful elevation of the soul, when we offer our tribute of thanksgiving and praise standing in the courts of the Lord.
The Lessons should always be heard with a devout attention; and though it be a matter of religion with some to read the lesson silently with the minister, yet in my opinion it is a degree of zeal without knowledge, because it is renerally no more than a lip-labour; it hinders those pious meditations and remarks which the subject of the lesson may suggest, and makes it, become no more than a dead letter.
The Confession of Faith in the Apostles' Creed is to be made by the whole congregation, the people, every one in bis own person, repeating it after the minister. And for this reason, let no one imagine that if the minister recites : the Creed, and he says Amen at the close, he has done his duty; because it is not sufficient for a Christian to believe with his heart, unless he confesses with his lips, and calls upon others to be public witnesses and professors of his faith. At the rehearsal of all the Creeds, our bodies should be standing, to intimate our resolution to stand by and defend that faith we are professing; and our faces looking towards the altar, as the most honourable place in the church, the chair of state, and the throne of God. And here I must not forget the primitive custom among Chrise tians of bowing at the name of Jesus, which though it be not commanded by the Rubric, yet is positively enjoined by the 18th canon of our church. "When in the time