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religion. For there are certain compendiums or abbreviatures and shortenings of religion, fitted to several states. They, that first gave up their names to Christ, and that turned from Paganism to Christianity, had an abbreviature fitted for them; they were to renounce their false worshippings, and give up their belief, and vow their obedience unto Christ; and in the very profession of this they were forgiven in baptism. For God hastens to snatch them from the power of the devil, and therefore shortens the passage, and secures the estate. In the case of poverty, God hath reduced this duty of man to an abbreviature of those few graces, which they can exercise; such as are patience, contentedness, truth, and diligence; and the rest he accepts in good will, and the charities of the soul, in prayers, and the actions of a cheap religion. And to most men charity is also an abbreviature. And as the love of God shortens the way to the purchase of all virtues; so the expression of this to the poor goes a huge way in the requisites and towards the consummation of an excellent religion. And martyrdom is another abbreviature; and so is every act of an excellent and heroical virtue. But when we are fallen into the state of sickness, and that our understanding is weak and troubled, our bodies sick and useless, our passions turned into fear, and the whole state into suffering, God, in compliance with man's infirmity, hath also turned our religion into such a duty, which a sick man can do most passionately, and a sad man and a timorous can perform effectually, and a dying man can do to many purposes of pardon and mercy; and that is, prayer. For although a sick man is bound to do many acts of virtue of several kinds, yet the most of them are to be done in the way of prayer. Prayer is not only the religion that is proper to a sick man's condition, but it is the manner of doing other graces, which is then left, and in his power. For thus the sick man is to do his repentance and his mortifications, his temperance and his chastity, by a fiction of imagination bringing the offers of the virtue to the spirit, and making an action of election: and so our prayers are a direct act of chastity, when they are made in the matter of that grace; just as repentance for our cruelty is an act of the grace of mercy; and repentance for uncleanness is an act of chastity, is a means of its purchase, an act in order to the habit. And though such acts of virtue, which are only in the way of prayer, are ineffective to the entire purchase, and of themselves cannot change the vice into virtue; yet they are good renewings of the grace, and proper exercise of a habit already gotten.
The purpose of this discourse is, to represent the excellency of prayer, and its proper advantages, which it hath in the time of sickness. For besides that it moves God to pity, piercing the clouds, and making the heavens, like a pricked eye, to weep over us, and refresh us with showers of pity; it also doth the work of the soul, and expresses the virtue of his whole life in effigy, in pictures and lively representments, so preparing it for a never-ceasing crown, by renewing the actions in the continuation of a never-ceasing a never-hindered affection. Prayer speaks to God, when the tongue is stiffened with the approachings of death : prayer can dwell in the heart, and be signified by the hand or eye, by a thought or a groan: prayer of all the actions of religion is the last alive, and it serves God without circumstances, and exercises material graces by abstraction from matter, and separation, and makes them to be spiritual; and therefore best dresses our bodies for funeral or recovery, for the mercies of restitution or the mercies of the grave.
6. In every sickness, whether it will, or will not, be so in nature.and in the event, yet in thy spirit and preparations resolve upon it, and treat thyself accordingly, as if it were a sickness unto death. For many men support their unequal courages by flattery and false hopes; and because sicker men have recovered, believe, that they shall do so; but therefore they neglect to adorn their souls, or set their house in order: besides the temporal inconveniences, that often happen by such persuasions, and putting off the evil day, such as are, dying intestate, leaving estates entangled, and some relatives unprovided for; they suffer infinitely in the interest and affairs of their soul, they die carelessly and surprised, their burdens on, and their scruples unremoved, and their cases of conscience not determined, and, like a sheep, without any care taken concerning their precious souls. Some men will never believe, that a villain will betray them, though they receive often. advices from suspicious persons and likely accidents, till they are entered into.the snare; and then they believe it, when they feel it, and when they cannot return: but so the treason entered, and the man.was betrayed by his own folly, placing the snare in the regions and advantages of opportunity. This evil looks like boldness and a confident spirit, but it is the greatest timorousness and cowardice in the world. They are so fearful to die, that they dare not look upon it as possible; and think that the making of a will is a mortal sign, and sending for a spiritual man an irrecoverable disease; and they are so afraid, lest they should think and believe now they must die, that they will not take care, that it may not be evil, in case they should. So did the eastern slaves drink wine, and wrapped their heads in a veil, that they might die without sense or sorrow, and wink hard, that they might sleep the easier. In pursuance of this rule» let a man consider, that whatsoever must be done in sickness, ought to be done in health; only let him observe, that his sickness as a good monitor chastises his neglect of duty, and forces him to live as he always should; and then all these solemnities and dressings for death are nothing else but the part of a religious life; which he ought to have exercised all his days; and if those circumstances can affright him, let him please his fancy by this truth, that then he does' but begin to live. But it will be a huge folly, if he shall think that confession of his sins will kill him; or receiving the holy sacrament will hasten his agony, or the priest shall undo all the hopeful language and promises of his physician. Assure thyself, thou canst not die the sooner; but, by such addresses, thou mayest die much the better.
6. Let the sick person be infinitely careful, that he do not fall into a state of death upon a new account: that is, at no hand commit a deliberate sin, or retain any affection to the old; for, in both cases, he falls into the evils of a surprise, and the horrors of a sudden death; for a sudden death is but a sudden joy, if it takes a man in the state and exercises of virtue: and it is only then an evil, when it finds a man unready. They were sad departures, when Tigillinus, Cornelius Gallus the pretor, Lewis the son of Gonzaga duke of Mantua, Ladislaus king of Naples, Speusippus, Giachetius of Geneva, and one of the popes, died in the forbidden embraces of abused women; or if Job had cursed God, and so died; or when a man sits down in despair, and in the accusation and calumny of the divine mercy: they make theif night sad, and stormy, and eternal. When Herod began to sink with the shameful torment of his bowels, and felt the grave open under him, he imprisoned the nobles of his kingdom, and commanded his sister, that they should be a sacrifice to his departing ghost. This was an egress fit only for such persons, who meant to dwell with devils to eternal ages: and that man is hugely in love with sin, who cannot forbear in the week of the assizes, and when himself stood at the bar of scrutiny, and prepared for his final, never-to-be-reversed sentence. He dies suddenly to the worse sense and event of sudden death, who so manages his sickness, that even that state shall not be innocent, but that he is surprised in the guilt of a new account. It is a sign of a reprobate spirit, and an habitual, prevailing, ruling sin, which exacts obedience, when the judgment looks him in the face. At least go to God with the innocence and fair deportment of thy person in the last scene of thy life, that when thy soul breaks into the state of separation, it may carry the relishes of religion and sobriety to the places of its abode and sentence1*.
7. When these things are taken care for, let the sick man so order his affairs, that he have but very little conversation with the world, but wholly (as he can) attend to religion, and antedate his conversation in heaven, always having intercourse with God, and still conversing with the holy Jesus, kissing his wounds, admiring his goodness, begging his mercy, feeding on him with faith, and drinking his blood: to which purpose it were very fit (if all circumstances be answerable) that the narrative of the passion of Christ be read or discoursed to him at length, or in brief, according to the style of the four gospels. But, in all things, let his care and society be as little secular as is possible.
* ffiaijoso ijim bctfjoft JintoatBln antj oft 1|oto fiart) it tare to flit .from bel) unto trje pit, JFrom pit unto pain Slljat ncrc sljall cease again, Trie tsoultf not Do one sin %ll tlje tnorIB to totn. Inscript. marmori in Eccles. paroch. de Fevertham in agro CantianoCHAPTER IV.
OF THE PRACTICE OF THE GRACES PROPER TO THE STATE OF SICKNESS, WHICH A SICK MAN MAY PRACTISE ALONE.
Of the Practice of Patience.
Now we suppose the man entering upon his scene of sorrows, and passive graces. It may be, he went yesterday to a wedding, merry and brisk, and there he felt his sentence, that he must return home and die (for men very commonly enter into the snare singing, and consider not, whither their fate leads them): nor feared, that then the angel was to strike his stroke, till his knees kissed the earth, and his head trembled with the weight of the rod, which God put into the hand of an exterminating angel. Bnt whatsoever the ingress was, when the man feels his blood boil, or his bones weary, or his flesh diseased with a load of a dispersed and disordered humour, or his head to ache, or his faculties discomposed, then he must consider, that all those discourses, he hath heard concerning patience and resignation, and conformity to Christ's sufferings, and the melancholy lectures of the cross, must, all of them, now be reduced to practice, and pass from an ineffective contemplation to such an exercise, as will really try, whether we were true disciples of the cross, or only believed the doctrines of religion, when we were at ease, and that they never passed through the ear to the heart, and dwelt not in our spirits. But every man should consider, God does nothing in vain; that he would not, to no purpose, send us preachers, and give us rules, and furnish us with discourse, and lend us books, and provide sermons, and make examples, and promise his Spirit, and describe the blessedness of holy sufferings, and prepare us with daily alarms, if he did not really purpose to order our affairs, so that we should need all this, and use it all. There were no such thing as the grace of patience, if we were not to feel