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Of ministering to the sick Person by the spiritual Man, as he is
the Physician of Souls. 1. In all cases of receiving confessions of sick men, and the assisting to the advancement of repentance, the minister is to apportion to every kind of sin such spiritual remedies which are apt to mortify and cure the sin; such as abstinence from their occasions and opportunities, to avoid temptations, to resist their beginnings, to punish the crime by acts of indignation against the person, fastings and prayer, alms and all the instances of charity, asking forgiveness, restitution of wrongs, satisfaction of injuries, acts of virtue contrary to the crimes. And although, in great and dangerous sicknesses, they are not directly to be imposed, unless they are direct matters of duty; yet where they are medicinal, they are to be insinuated, and in general signification remarked to him, and undertaken accordingly: concerning which, when he returns to health, he is to receive particular advices. And this advice was inserted into the penitential of England, in the time of Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury, and afterwards adopted into the canon of the western churches 8.
2. The proper temptations of sick men, for which a remedy is not yet provided, are unreasonable fears, and unreasonable confidences, which the minister is to cure by the following considerations. " Considerations against unreasonable Fears of not having
our Sins pardoned. Many good men, especially such, who have tender consciences, impatient of the least sin, to which they are arrived by a long grace, and a continual observation of their actions, and the parts of a lasting repentance, many times overact their tenderness, and turn their caution into scruple, and care of their duty into inquiries after the event, and askings after the counsels of God, and the sentences of doomsday: .; He that asks of the standers-by, or of the minister, whether they think he shall be saved or damned, is to be answered with the words of pity and reproof. Seek not after
& Caus. 26. Q. 7. ab infirmis.
new light for the searching into the private records of God : look as much as you list into the pages of revelation, for they concern your duty: but the event is registered in heaven, and we can expect no other certain notices of it, but that it shall be given to them, for whom it is prepared by the Father of mercies. We have light enough to tell our duty; and if we do that, we need not fear, what the issue will be; and if we do not, let us never look for more light, or inquire after God's pleasure concerning our souls, since we so little serve his ends in those things, where he hath given us light. But yet this I add, that as pardon of sins, in the Old Testament", was nothing but removing the punishment, which then was temporal, and therefore many times they could tell, if their sins were pardoned ; and concerning pardon of sins they then had no fears of conscience, but while the punishment was on them, for so long indeed it was unpardoned, and how long it would so remain, it was matter of fear, and of present sorrow : besides this, in the gospel, pardon of sins is another thing; pardon of sins is a sanctification ; Christ came to take away our sins, by turning every one of us from our iniquities ; and there is not in the nature of the thing any expectation of pardon, or sign or signification of it, but so far as the thing itself discovers itself. As we hate sin, and grow in grace, and arrive at the state of holiness, which is also a state of repentance and imperfection, but yet of sincerity of heart and diligent endeavour; in the same degree we are to judge concerning the forgiveness of sins : for indeed that is the evangelical forgiveness, and it signifies our pardon, because it effects it, or rather it is in the nature of the thing ; so that we are to inquire into no hidden records : forgiveness of sins is not a secret sentence, a word or a record; but it is a state of change, and effected upon us; and upon ourselves we are to look for it, to read it, and understand it. We are only to be curious of our duty, and confident of the article of remission of sinsk; and the conclusion of these premises will be, that we shall be full of hopes of a prosperous resurrection; and our fear and trembling are no instances of our calamity, but parts of
h Matt. ix. 6.
i Acts, iii. 26. . Est modus gloriandi in conscientia, ut noveris fidem spem tuam esse certam.--August. Psal. cxlix.
duty; we shall sure enough be wafted to the shore, although we be tossed with the winds of our sighs, and the unevenness of our fears, and the ebbings and flowings of our passions, if we sail in a right channel, and steer by a perfect compass, and look up to God, and call for his help, and do our own endeavour. There are very many reasons, why men ought not to despair; and there are not very many men, that ever go beyond a hope, till they pass into possession. If our fears have any mixture of hope, that is enough to enable and to excite our duty; and if we have a strong hope, when we cast about, we shall find reason enough to have many fears. Let not this fear weaken our hands?; and if it allay our gaieties and our confidences, it is no harm. In this uncertainty we must abide, if we have committed sins after baptism : and those confidences, which some men glory in, are not real supports or good foundations. The fearing man is the safest; and if he fears on his death-bed, it is but what happens to most considering men, and what was to be looked for all his life-time : he talked of the terrors of death, and death is the king of terrors; and therefore it is no strange thing, if then he be hugely afraid : if he be not, it is either a great felicity, or a great presumption. But if he wants some degree of comfort, or a greater degree of hope, let him be refreshed by considering,
1. That Christ came into the world to save sinners m. 2. That God delights not in the confusion and death of sinners". 3. That in heaven there is great joy at the conversion of a sinner°. 4. That Christ is a perpetual advocate, daily interceding with his Father for our pardon P. 5. That God uses infinite arts, instruments, and devices, to reconcile us to himself. 6. That he prays us to be in charity with him, and to be forgiven 7. That he sends angels to keep us from violence and evil company, from temptations and surprises, and his Holy Spirit to guide us in holy ways, and his servants to warn us and remind us perpetually : and therefore since certainly he is so desirous to save us, as appears by his word, by his oaths, by his very nature, and his daily
'Una est nobilitas, argumentúmque coloris
Ingenui, timidas non habuisse manus. m 1 Tim. i. 15. – Ezek. xxxiii. 11. • Luke, xv. 7. P I John, ii. 1.
. . 9 2 Cor. v. 20.
artifices of mercy; it is not likely that he will condemn us without great provocations of his majesty, and perseverance in them. 8. That the covenant of the Gospel is a covenant of grace and of repentance, and being established with so many great solemnities and miracles from heaven, must signify a huge favour and a mighty.change of things, and therefore that repentance, which is the great condition of it, is a grace, that does not expire in little accents and minutes, but hath a great latitude of signification and large extension of parts, under the protection of all which persons are safe, even when they fear exceedingly. 9. That there are great degrees and differences of glory in heaven ; and therefore, if we estimate our piety by proportions to the more eminent persons and devouter people, we are not to conclude, we shall not enter into the same state of glory, but that we shall not go into the same degrees. 10. That although forgiveness of sins is consigned to us in baptism, and that this baptism is but once, and cannot be repeated; yet forgiveness of sins is the grace of the gospel, which is perpetually remanent upon us, and secured unto us so long as we have not renounced our baptism: for then we enter into the condition of repentance; and repentance is not an indivisible grace, or a thing performed at once, but it is working all our lives ; and therefore so is our pardon, which ebbs and flows, according as we discompose or renew the decency of our baptismal promises, and therefore it ought to be certain, that no man despair of pardon, but he that hath voluntarily renounced his baptism, or willingly estranged himself from that covenant. He that sticks to it, and still professes the religion, and approves the faith, and endeavours to obey and to do his duty, this man hath all the veracity of God to assure him and give him confidence, that he is not in an ins possible state of salvation, unless God cuts him off, before he' can work, or that he begins to work when he can no longer choose. 11. And then let him consider, the more he fears, the more he hates his sin, that is the cause of it, and the less he can be tempted to it, and the more desirous he is of heaven; and therefore such fears are good instruments of grace, and good signs of a future pardon. 12. That God in the old law, although he made a covenant of perfect obedience, and did not promise pardon at all after great sins, yet he did give pardon, and declared it so to them for their own and for our sakes too. So he did to David, to Manasses, to the whole nation of the Israelites, ten times in the wilderness, even after their apostacies and idolatries. And in the prophets", the mercies of God and his remissions of sin were largely preached, though, in the law, God put on the robes of an angry judge, and a severe lord. But therefore in the gospel, where he hath established the whole sum of affairs upon faith and repentance, if God. should not pardon great: sinners, that repent after baptism with a free dispensation, the gospel were far harder than the intolerable covenant of the law. 13. That if a proselyte went into the Jewish communion, and were circumcised and baptized, he entered into all the hopes of good things, which God had promised, or would give, to his people ; and yet that was but the covenant of works. If then the gentile proselytes, by their circumcision and legal baptism, were admitted to a state of pardon, to last so long as they were in the covenant, even after their admission, for sins committed against Moses's law, which they then undertook to observe exactly; in the gospel, which is the covenant of faith, it must needs: be certain, that there is a greater grace given, and an easier condition entered into, than was that of the Jewish law.. and that is nothing else, but that abatement is made for our infirmities, and our single evils, and our timely repented and forsaken habits of sin, and our violent passions, when they are contested withal, and fought with, and under discipline, and in the beginnings and progresses of mortification. 14. That God hath erected in his church a whole order of men, the main part and dignity of whose work it is to remit and retain sins by a perpetual and daily ministry: and this they do, not only in baptism, but in all their offices to be administered afterwards ; in the holy sactament of the eucharist, which exhibits the symbols of that blood which was shed for pardon of our sins, and therefore by its continued mystery and repetition declares, that all that while we are within the ordinary powers and usual dispensations of pardon, even so long as we are in any probable dispositions to receive that holy sacrament. And the