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THIS Collection has been so much esteemed that it has passed through nine editions. Having now become exceedingly scarce, it was thought proper to reprint it.
The Rules for Visiting the Sick, in five sections, are extracted chiefly from the works of Bishop Taylor. The occasional prayers are taken from the devotional tracts of Bishop Patrick, Mr. Kettlewell, and other pious and judicious divines. But in this edition, the antiquated style of those writers is corrected and improved; at the same time, a spirit of rational piety and unaffected simplicity are carefully preserved.
A prayer by Dr. Stonehouse, and four by Mr. Merrick, the celebrated translator of the Psalms, are added to the old collection.
The offices of Public and Private Baptism, though no ways relating to the Visitation of the Sick, are retained; as, in the present form, they will be convenient for the Clergy in the course of their parochial duty.
MINISTERS TO VISIT THE SICK.
WHEN any person is dangerously sick in any parish, the nister or curate, having knowledge thereof, shall resort unto him or her (if the disease be not known, or probably suspected, to be infectious), to instruct and comfort them in their distress, according to the order of Communion, if he be no preacher; or, if he be a preacher, then as he shall think most needful and convenient.
It is recommended to the Clergy to write out the prayers which are to be used by the sick themselves, or by the persons whose devotions they wish to assist, and to leave the copies with them.
THE ASSISTANCE THAT IS TO BE GIVEN TO SICK AND DYING PERSONS BY THE MINISTRY OF THE CLERGY.
In all the days of our spiritual warfare, from our baptism to our burial, God has appointed his servants the ministers of the church, to supply the necessities of the people, by ecclesiastical duties; and prudently to guide, and carefully to judge concerning, souls committed to their charge.
And, therefore, they who all their lifetime derive blessings from the Fountain of Grace, by the channels of ecclesiastical ministers, ought then more especially to do it in the time of their sickness, when their needs are more prevalent, according to that known apostolical injunction, "Is any man sick among you, let him send for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him," &c.
The sum of the duties and offices respectively implied in these words, may be collected from the following rules.
Rules for the Manner of Visiting the Sick.
1. LET the minister be sent to, not when the sick is in the agonies of death, as it is usual to do, but before his sickness increases too much upon him; for when the soul is confused and disturbed by the violence of the distemper, and death begins to stare the man in the face, there is little reason to hope for any good effect from the spiritual man's visitation. For how can any regular administration take place when the man is all over in a disorder? how can he be called upon to confess his sins when his tongue falters and his memory fails him? how can he receive any benefit by the prayers which are offered up for him when he is not able to give attention to them? or how can he be comforted upon any sure grounds of reason or religion when his reason is just expiring, and all his notions of religion together with it? or when the man, perhaps, had never any real sentiments of religion before?
It is, therefore, a matter of sad consideration, that the generality of the world look upon the minister, in the time of their sickness, as the sure forerunner of death; and think his office so much relates to another world that he is not to be treated with as long as there is any hope of living in this. Whereas it is highly requisite the minister be sent for when the sick person is able to be conversed with and instructed; and can understand, or be taught to understand, the case of his soul, and the rules of his conscience, and all the several bearings of religion, with respect to
God, his neighbour, and himself. For to prepare a soul for its change is a work of great difficulty; and the intercourses of the minister with the sick have so much variety in them, that they are not to be transacted at once. Sometimes there is need of special remedies against impatience, and the fear of death; not only to animate, but to make the person desirous and willing to die. Sometimes it is requisite to awaken the conscience by "the terrors of the Lord;" to open by degrees all the labyrinths of sin (those innumerable windings and turnings which insensibly lead men into destruction), which the habitual sensualist can never be able to discover, unless directed by the particular grace of God, and the assistance of a faithful and judicious guide. Sometimes there is need of the balm of comfort, to pour in "oil and wine" (with the good Samaritan) into the bleeding wound, by representing the tender mercies of God, and the love of his Son Jesus Christ, to mankind; and at other times it will be necessary to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine;" so that a clergyman's duty, in the visitation of the sick, is not over at once: but at one time he must pray; at another, he must assist, advise, and direct; at another, he must open to him the nature of repentance, and exhort him to a confession of his sins, both to God and man, in all those cases which require it; and, at another time, he must give him absolution, and the sacrament of the body and blood of our Lord.
And, indeed, he that ought to watch all the periods of his life, in the days of his health, lest he should be surprised and overcome, had need, when he is sick, be assisted and called upon, and reminded of the