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I would open
down into despair, by such a severe representation of the wrath of God due to him for his fins, as is not mollified by a fensible propounding of Christ and his merit by a door of hope to every penitent believer.
When the fick perion is best composed, may be least disturbed, and other necessary offices about him lealt hindered, the minister, if de fired shall pray with him, and for him, to this effect.
• Confessing and bewailing of fin original and actual, the miserable coo. dition of all by nature, as being children of wrath, and under the curke ; • acknowledging that all diseases, sicknesses, death, and hell itself, ar:
the proper issues and effects thereof; imploring God's mercy fa ' the lick perfon, through the blood of Christ; beleeching that God
his eyes, discover unto him his fins, caufe him to see him. ' self lost in himself, makc known to him the cause why God (mitech
him, reveal Jelas Christ to his foul for righteousness and lise, give ti• to him his holy Spirit to create and strengthen faith, to lay hold upon • Christ, to work in him comfortable evidences of his love, to arm hic
against temptations, to take off his heart from the world, to fanctify his present visitation, to furnish him with patience and strength to bez it, and to give him perseverance in faith to the end. " That, it God shall please to add to his days, he would vouchfase
to bless and fanctify all means of his recovery, to remove the diseak . renew his strength, and enable him to walk worthy of God, by a faith' ful remembrance, and diligent observing of such vows and promises of 6 holiness and obedience, as men are apt to make in times of sickness, that he may glorify God in the remaining part of his life.
• And, if God have determined to finish his days by the present visita« ,
tion, he may find such evidence of the pardon of all his Gos, of his interest in Christ, and eternal life by Chriil, as may cause his inward
man to be renewed, while his outward man decayeth ; that he may • behold death without fear, cast himself wholly upon Christ without . doubting, desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ, and so receive " the end of his faith, the salvation of his soul, through the only merits ' and intercession of the Lord Jesus Chrift, our slone Saviour and all« fufficient Redeemer.
The minister shall admonith him also, (as there shall be cause) to set his house in order, thereby to prevent inconveniences; to take care for payment of his debts, and to make reftitution or fatisfaction where he hath done any wrong: to be reconciled to those with whom he hath beco at variance, and fully to forgive all meo their trespasses against him, as he expects forgiveness at the hand of God.
Lastly, the minister may improve the present occasion to exhort those about the lick person, to consider their own mortality, to return to the Lord, and make peace with him ; in health to prepare for sickness, death, and judgmeat; and all the days of their appointed time fo to wait votil their change come, that when Christ, who is our life, fall appear, they may appear with him in glory.
Concerning Burial of the Dead.
THEN any person departeth this life, let the dead body, upon the
day of burial, be decently attended from the house to the place appointed for public burial, and there immediately interred, without any ceremony.
And because the customs of kneeling down, and praying by, or towards the dead corps, and other such usages, in the place where it lies before it be carried to burial, are superstitious ; and for that, praying, reading, and singing both is going to, and at the grave, have been grolly absurd, are no way beneficial to the dead, and have proved maay ways huitful to the living; therefore let all such things be laid aside.
Howbeit, we judge it very convenient, that the christian friends, which accompany the dead body to the place appointed for public burial, do apply themselves to meditations and conferences suitable to the occafion; and that the minister, as upon other occasions, so at this time, if he be preseot, may put in remembrance of their duty.
That this shall not extend to deny any civil respects or deferences at the burial, suitable to the rank and condition of the party deceased whiles he was living
Concerning Public Solemn Fasting. WO
MEN some great and notable judgments are either inflicted up
on a people, or apparently imminent, or by some extraordinary provocations notoriously deserved; as also when some special blessing is to be fought and obtained, public folemo fasting (which is to conti. nae the whole day) is a duty that God expecteth from that nation, or people.
A religious fast requires total abstinence, not only from all food (unless body weakness do manifefly disable from holding out till the fast be ended, in which case fomewhat may be taken, yet very sparingly, to lupport nature, when ready to faint) but also from all worldly labour, discourses and thoughts, and from all bodily delights, and such Jike, (although at other times lawful) rich apparel, ornaments and such Jike, during the faft; and much more from whatever is in the nature, or use, fcandalous and offensive, as gaudifh attire, lascivious habits and gestures, and other vapities of either fex; which we recommend to all ministers, in their places, diligently and zealously to reprove, as at other times, so especially at a fast, without respect of persoas, as there shall be occasion.
Before the public meeting, each family and person apart are privately to use all religious care to prepare their hearts to such a folema work, and to be carly at the congregation.
So large a portion of the day, as conveniently may be, is to be spent in public reading and preaching of the word, with singing of psalms, fit to quicken affections fuitable to such a duty: but especially in prayer, to this or the like effect;
Giving glory to the great majesty of God, the Creator, Preserver, 6 and fupreme Ruler of all the world, the better to affect us thereby
with an holy reverence and awe of him. Acknowledging his mani! fold, great and tender mercics, especially to the church and nation, • the more effectually to foften and abale our hearts betore bim. Hum.
bly confessing of lios of all sorts, with their several aggravations ; · justifying God's righteous judgments, as being far less than our fins
do delerve; yet humbly and earnestly imploring his mercy and grace • for ourselves, the church and nation, for our king and all in autho
rity, and for all others for whom we are bound to pray (according as the present exigent requireth) with more special importunity and enJargement then at other times; applying, by faith ; the promics and
goodness of God, for pardon, help, and deliverance from the evils • telt, feared, or deserved; and for obtaining the blessings which we *peed and expect, together with a giving up of ourselves wholly and • for ever unto the Lord.'
In all these, the ministers, who are the mouths of the people unto God, ought fo to speak from their hearts, upon ferious and thorough premeditation of them, that both themselves and their people may be much affected, and even melted thereby, especially with forrow for their fins, that it may be indeed a day of deep humiliation and afflicting of the foul.
Special choice is to be made of such scriptures to be read, and of fuch texts for preaching, as may best work the hearts of the hearers to the special business of the day, and most dilpole them to humiliatica and repentance: in fifting most on those particula s, which each minifter's observation and experience tells him are most conducing to the e dification and reformation of that congregation to which he preacherh.
Before the close of the public duties, the minister is, in his own and the people's names, to engage his and their hearts to be the Lord's, with professed pui pole and relolution to reform whatever is amiss among them, and more particularly such fins as they have been more remarkably guilty of; and to draw dear unto God, and to walk more closely and faithfully with him in new obedience, than ever before.
He is allo to admonish the people with all importunity, that the wyork of that day doch not end with the public duties of it, but that they are fo to iinprove the remainder of the day, and of their whole life, jo reinforcing upon themselves and their families in private, all those godly affections and re'olutions which they professed in public, as that they may be fettled in their hearts for ever, and themselves may more sensibly find that God hath (melt a sweet savour in Christ from their pe: formances, and is pacified towards them, by answers of grace,
o pardoning of sin, in removing of judgments, in averting or preventing of plagues, and in conferring of blessings, fuitable to the condition and prayers of his people, by Jelus Chrift.
Besides folemo and general fasts injoined by authority, we judge that, at other times, congregations may keep days of fafting, as divine providence shall administer unto them special occafion; and also that families may do the fame, to it be not on days wherein the congregation to which they do belong is to meet for fasting, or other public duties of worship
Concerning the Observation of Days of public Thanksgiving. WHEN 7 HEN any such day is to be kept, let notice be given of it, and
the occasion thereof, some convenient time before, that the people may the better prepare themselves thereunto.
The day being come, and the congregation (after private preparations) being assembled, the minister is to begin with a word of exhortation, to itir up the people to the duty for which they are met, and with a short prayer for God's aftance and blessing, (as at other conventions for public worship) according to the particular occasion of their meeting.
Let him then make fome pithy narration of the deliverance obtained or mercy received, or of whatever hath occafioned that afsembling of the congregation, that all may better understand it, or be minded of it, and more affected with it.
And, because singing of psalms is of all other the most proper ordioance for expressing of joy and thansgiving, let fome pertinent psalm or palms be fuog for that purpose, before or after the reading of some portion of the word suitable to the present business.
Then let the minister, who is to preach, proceed to further exhor tation and prayer before his fermon, with special reference to the present work: after which, let him preach upon fome text of fcripture pertinent to the occasion.
The sermon ended, let him not only pray, as at other times after preaching is directed, with remembrance of the necessities of the church, kiug, and state (if before the sermon they were omitted) but inlarge himlelf in due and folemn thanfgiving for former mercies and deliverances, but more especially for that which at the preleat calls them together to give thanks : with humble petition for the continuance ord renewing of God's wonted mercies, as need shall be, and for fanctifying grace to make a right use thereof. And so, having fung ancther plalm suitable to the mercy, let him difiniss the congregation with a bleffing, that they may have iome convenicat time for their repast and
But the minister (b.fore their dismifi vn) is folemaly to admonish them, to beware of ali excess apd riot, tending to giustony or drunk
ënness, and much more of these lins themselves, in their eating, and refreshing, and to take care that their mirth and rejoicing be not carnal
, but spiritual, which may make God's praise to be glorious, and themfelves humble and tober; and that both their feeding and rejoiciog may render them more chearful and enlarged, further to celebrate his prailes in the midst of the congregation, when they return uoto it, in the remaining part of that day.
When the congregation shall be again afsembled, the like course in praying, reading, preaching, sioging of psalnıs, and offering up of more praise and thanksgiving that is before directed for the morning, is to be renewed and continued so far as the time will give leave.
At one or both of the public meetings that day, a collection is to be made for the poor (and in the like manner upon the day of public bomiliation) that their loins may bless us, and rejoice the more with us. And the people are to be exhorted, at the end of the latter meeting, to spend the residue of that day in holy duties, and testifications of christian love and charity one towards another, and of rejoicing more and more in the Lord; as becometh thofe who make the joy of the Lord their strength.
Of Singing of Psalms. T is the duty of christians to praise God publickly, by singing of
In singing of psalms, the voice is to be tuneable and gravely ordered; but the chief care must be, to sing with understanding, and with grace in the heart, making melody unto the Lord.
That the whole congregation may join herein, every one that can read is to have a psalm book; and all others, not disabled by age or o therwise, are to be exhorted to learn to read. But for the present, where many in the congregation cannot read, it is convenient that the minister, or some other fit person appointed by him and the other ruling officers, do read the psalm, lioe by line, before the singing thereof. An Appendix touching Days and Places for public Worship. THERE is no day commanded in Scripture to be kept holy under the gospel
, but the Lord's day, which is the Christian Subbath.
Festival-days, vulgarly called holy-days, having no warrant in the word of God, are not to be continued.
Nevertheless, it is lawful and necesary, upon special emergent sccasions to separate a day or days for public fafting or thanksgiving, as the several eminent and extraordinary dispensations of God's providence shall adminifter cause and opportunity to his people.
As 'no place is capable of any holiness, under pretence of whatssever dedication or confecration ; fo neither is it subjec7 10 such pollution by any Superstition formerly used and now laid aside, as may render it unlawful or inconvenient for Christians to meet together therein for the public worship of God. And therefore we hold it rcquifite, that the places of public affenbling for worship among us, sculd be continued and imployed to that use.
F I N S.