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faithful and zealous servant of God would not omit any of his ordinary labours and employments; insomuch that the next day after the accident of which we have been speaking, he went to preach at Charenton; and three days afterwards wrote in the morning eight hours together in his study; in which employ he took so much pleasure, that he often used to wish he might die with his pen in his hand. He was equally indefatigable in all the other duties of his function, so far as his strength would give him leave.
But, above all, he would never dispense with visiting the sick; which was a duty he had particularly at heart, and for which he was in an especial manner qualified, by the excellent and admirable gifts of prayer and consolation, wherewith God had enriched him; not to mention that happy discernment, which a long and daily experience had taught him, to suit his exhortations according to the necessity of the sick person, and the apparent issue of the disease. We may add, that in these visits he religiously practised what he himself sets forth, to be the duty of a faithful pastor, in the sixtieth of his Charitable Visits; wbich is to have a particular respect to the consolation of the poor, seeing they have the most immediate need of it. So we may justly apply to him, what Job said of himself, “That the loins of the poor and afflicted blessed him.” Job xxxi. 20.
To the pressing remonstrances continually made him by his family, that he would favour himself upon account of his infirmities and great age, he would commonly answer, “That he could willingly take such a resolution, but that he should never be able to put it in practice, because of his great desire to please all the world, and his known readiness to serve whoever applied to him." Even a few months before his death, the weather being very rough, he went at nine o'clock at night to visit one of his friends, who was dying, and did not return until midnight. This he called a young man's exploit,” but thought himself happy in being able to perform it.
In the midst of so many fatigues, he rightly judged, considering his age and infirmities, that there was no probability of his continuing long in the world; as he declared to his flock some months before his death. To the same purpose he expressed himself to others, both by word of mouth and by writing, particularly after he was entered into his seventy-fourth year.
With this persuasion, he made a Christian preparation for death; or rather, as he himself expresses it, “ being justly amazed at baving passed such a number of years in the midst of so many fatigues and labours, I have fixed all my hopes upon a life which is neither reckoned by years nor ages.” To this devout meditation upon death, or rather upon immortality, after which he earnestly aspired, was owing, that in the latter part of his life, he took up a custom, when he was alone, to pray to God every time he heard the clock strike, as if every hour warned him of his departure, and every stroke of the hammer summoned him to appear before God. This he discovers in one of his letters to his eldest son, in the confidence of paternal affection. To the same cause must also be attributed the extreme pleasure which he took in reading over his book of Consolations against the Fears of Death the year before he died; often declaring to those about him, “That he praised God for having inspired him with such a work, for the edification of his church, and his own comfort."
It is true, had it pleased God to prolong bis days, the earnest desire he had to finish some works of piety, which heaven permitting, he had promised to the public, would have made him willingly cry out with the Psalmist, “Let my soul live, that it may praise thee!" Nevertheless, he submitted himself entirely to the adorable wisdom of God; as he himself tells us, in this excellent prayer, which you may
find at the end of his Charitable Visits; “I have both lived and preached a long time. O Lord, I wait for thy salvation and deliverance. I am not weary of serving so good a master, so bountiful a Lord; nevertheless, my Lord, and my God, when it shall please thee to put an end to my labour, I shall go with fulness of joy into the rest of thy glory. Lo, I come to do thy will, O my
God!" He wrote this in the year 1668, and God delayed not long receiving him into his rest. The year following was the last of his life and labour: and this, in respect to him, was a year variously divided between sickness and health, life and death.
During this fatal year, he had two considerable calms, one in the spring, and the other in autumn. But these were soon followed by two terrible storins; in the last of which the vessel of the man of God, that is to say, his body, suffered shipwreck, while his blessed 'soul gained the port of salvation, the haven of glory.
In the month of March, he writes this account concerning the state of his health: “Though it is the time of the equinox, thank God I am very well; better than I have been a long while."
But this sudden gleam, the certain forerunner of a tempest, was but of short continuance; for on the 6th of April following, he makes this complaint in one of his letters: “I am often struggling between life and death. I was so well a little while ago, that I thought my health was going to be entirely re-established. But this last cold weather has affected it in such a manner, that, on the night between the 4th and 5th of this month, my cough was so violent, and my defluxion oppressed me so cruelly, that I was upon the point of being strangled no less than three times; where. fore I recommended myself unto God, not knowing whether it was his good plea-ure to take me to his rest.
Nevertheless, as ill as he was, he would not dispense with himself from preaching on the 7th day of the same month, which put him to a great deal of pain, and increased his illness so much,
that his physician plainly told him, that such another attempt would be enough to cause an inflammation on his lungs, and to bring on a continual fever. This blessed person himself was forced likewise to acknowledge, that in the excess of his zeal, “he had rather tempted God than relied upon his providence.”
This accident deprived him of almost all his courage, and the hopes of ever mounting the pulpit again. Nevertheless, he comforted himself with the thought, that he should not be entirely useless to the church, so long as it should please God to continue him in the world. For besides visiting the sick, and looking after the affairs of the church, “ If my tongue fail me,
" saith he, “I hope my pen will continue to labour for the glory of God, and the edification of his church."
But not long after, on the 21st of the month, being Easter Day, God having presented his servant with an extraordinary occasion of speaking a word of exhortation to such of his flock as could pot that day get into the church at Charenton, he recommended himself to the Lord's mercy, and preached in the church porch with a good deal of facility. After which his health growing better, he began to take heart, and to entertain fresh hopes that he should soon be able to attend, as usual, the ordinary duties of his function.
On the 6th of May, he opened the synod at Charenton, where, after the conclusion of his sermon, he received the united thanks of all his brethren, which was matter of great comfort to him; insomuch, that he praised God with his whole heart, "for having given him that new strength to glorify him in the presence of his servants.”
This was the second calm which he experienced this year, and the last of his life. It lasted all summer, and during the first month of autumn. And this new and final health of this zealous servant of Jesus Christ, put him upon undertaking to preach twice in the church porch at Charenton on the fast day, being the 12th of September, 1669; in which pious design, inspired no doubt by God, the blessing of God manifestly attended him, strengthening bim in so wonderful a manner, that the last discourse seemed to come from hiin with more power and ease than the former.
This pleasing, but short and treacherous serenity, even increased till the eve, if I may so express myself, of that fatal storm which robbed us of this holy person. The light of bis life, like that of a candle or torch, being just expiring, cast forth new Aames, and appeared with greater brightness. To this purpose he writes to his eldest son on the 21st of September:“I have yet, thank God, some vigour left.” On the 28th, “ Thank God, I am in good health. I preached on Sunday morning; and I find no inconvenience from having preached twice on the fast day. I have a better appetite, and eat more than I have done at any time this twelve months." On the 5th of October, “ I apply my
self to my ordinary labours, and am, thank God, in good health.”' On the 19th, “Thank God I have been very well all this week, and have rested on nights without coughing, spitting, or any of my old complaints. But God knows how long this will last. His will be done." And on the 26th, which was his last letter to bis son, “I have great reason to praise God for the health which be is pleased to indulge me; for thank God, I have been very well all this week, and have rested well on nights. I have also a good appetite." This whole letter is full of marks of the vigour
both of his body and mind; and towards the latter end, he observes with joy, that “Thank God, he had just finished writing over bis sermon for the morrow, and that he was going to read it at the candle."
Accordingly, on the morrow, being Sunday the 27th of October, he preached in the morning, beginning with this holy exercise the week. Those who heard him, affirm that he showed a great deal of strength, both of body and mind, and preached his last sermon (as has been mentioned) from Psalm li. 7, 8.
This last sermon was looked upon afterwards as a presage he had of his death, and a preparation for it, by desiring the pardon of bis sins, and a cleansing from all the pollutions of his flesh and spirit, through the infinite mercy of God, and the blood of his Saviour. The whole audience were very well satisfied with his last performance, which they judged to be excellent, and worthy to crown all his former religious exercises. At his return to the city, he spent the rest of the Sabbath in acts of piety and charity; and, at his return home, being desirous to enjoy the company of all his family then at Paris, he supped with them, and seemed very pleasant in his discourse: he continued well on Monday, and the next day, till the 29th of October, the fatal day in which his mortal distemper began to attack him; from that morning he felt an indisposition, and had no appetite at dinner; yet could not forbear visiting sick persons in his district. This good man came home very feeble, and out of order, with a ferer
bim: Some time after, his speech failed him; and when Mr. Malnoe (advocate in parliament, bis son-in-law) was come to visit him, he was scarce able to speak; he was persuaded to take his rest, he suddeoly fell upon his knees and made such an excellent prayer, that his family never heard from him one more fervent: He discoursed of the frailty of human life, of the condition he was in, of the church of God, and insisted earnestly upon her deliverance; he prayed for all the members of his family, and in this last religious exercise performed amongst his domesticks, he omitted nothing material, prayed with zeal and vigour, with a clear voice, and without hesitation, to their comfort, and his own satisfaction, being then only a little feverish. In this hopeful condition he went to bed, but about midnight he relapsed again into his former difficulty of speech: the fever increasing upon him by
degrees, a physician by his prescriptions gave him relief; and he remembered ihe Psalms which he was wont to repeat, namely, xxxi, xxxii, xxxiv, xli, li, Ixili, and cxxx. He had always a great veneration for the Book of Psalms, which made him like the reading of John de Lere; who writes how some savages of Brazil were wonderfully affected and ravished at the hearing of one of those divine hymns sung. A certain person that came to visit him, prayed that God would change his bed of sickness to a bed of health; he answered, “ My bed of health and rest will be in Paradise.” A noble lady, then a close prisoner, for whom the sick person had a high esteem, having sent to inquire of his health, he told the messenger he was very sorry for her confinement, ordered him to present bis service to the good lady, and to tell her, that he should see her no more but in heaven.
During this short interval, his mind was free to discourse about his domestick affairs; but in a little time after his cough and fever increasing violently upon him, his physician watched with him till morning. Our patient perceiving his dangerous condition, spake in this manner to him, “Sir, though all good Christians ought continually to be prepared to die, and though God hath granted me the grace to be ready when he shall please to call me, yet if you find I am drawing to my end, pray give me notice of it; for I am willing to put my affairs in order." About two or three hours after, the physician finding that he could not live much longer, it was judged convenient by his son-in-law to acquaint him with it; to whom he spake to this purpose: “I find the time of my deliverance is drawing near, and that God will take me to his rest. I shall be glad to discourse with you privately: I have not only looked upon you as my son-in-law, but as my child, whom I have loved and tenderly love; I recommend my family to your care, and desire you all to live in perfect union." And having given his lesson to all bis children, as well absent as present, he ordered the private affairs of his family, and the rewards to be given to those who had been serviceable to him in bis sickness; and ordered his son-in-law to entreat Mr. Girard, the elder of his church, to carry this message to the Consistory of Charenton, “That he died their faithful servant, and prayed God with all his heart to preserve the church.”
After this he spent most part of his time in prayers to God, repeating several texts of scripture, but with such a weak voice, they could only guess by some syllables what he said. He was of ten heard to repeat the words of Job, “ I know that my Redeemer liveth,” and those of the Psalms, “I have put my trust in thee, &c. I recommend my soul into thy hands." Thus he continued in his pious meditations. Then his son-in-law offered to read to him out of his Book of Consolations against the 'ears of Death, which he attended to, and seemed to be well pleased with the Consolation for a dying Minister, and with the prayer appointed