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thy good pleasure; [or, grant him such ease and comfort as shall seem good unto thee in his present weak condition, from which thou seemest to deny all hopes of recovery, and leavest us little or no room to pray for it,] and give him growth in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
The words, "If it be thy good pleasure," are not in Dr. Stonhouse's prayer. I have added them to qualify the foregoing petition," restore him "to health," although indeed all our petitions are to be offered up in submission to the will of God. But as in some cases all hopes of recovery seem to be denied, and little or no ground seems left us to pray for it, I think the above petition is not suitable on all occasions. It is no uncommon thing for a Minister to visit a Sick Person labouring under a disorder of a very long continuance, of a recovery from which the least hope cannot be entertained from any human skill, and we have no warrant now to expect miracles to be wrought in favour of the sick. Instead, therefore, of praying absolutely for health to those who are under such circumstances, would it not be better to vary the expression, thus, "Grant him such ease and "comfort as shall seem good unto thee in his
present weak condition, from which thou seemest "to deny all hopes of recovery, and leavest us "little or no room to pray for it."
THE FIRST VISIT.
On coming into the Sick Person's house the Minister shall say,
Peace be to this House, and to all that dwell in it.
Before the Minister proceeds to prayer, it may not be amiss for him to address the Sick Person in some such form as the following,
In compliance with your request, [or, having heard of your sickness,] call on you, my christian brother, to assist you with my prayers and spiritual advice. I hope it will please God to support you under this illness, and in his good time to deliver you from it; or, if that should not be his will, that you will endeavour to prepare yourself for a happy departure out of this Life.
"Be assured that sicknesses and such sort of calamities are not sent upon men by God without cause; but for some good end, and such as may prove salutary to them and that therefore it is
the duty of all to behave themselves patiently under the evils which are sent upon them. I wish you therefore seriously to consider with yourself for what cause this sickness is sent unto you: and that you would resolve so to regulate your behaviour, as that it may be agreeable and consonant to the word of God.
"And that you may be willing and able to do this, suffer me to inform you, that God sends diseases upon us sometimes to try our patience, and that then it is our duty to bear his inflictions patiently sometimes to root out of our minds too great a fondness for worldly things; and that therefore it is highly incumbent upon us, when sickness falls upon us, to learn from it that worldly things do not deserve our love, and that the things which are above, are to be sought after with the whole strength of our minds.Sometimes also, if not always, to lead us to repentance; and that it behoves us, if at any time we are afflicted by sickness, to exercise a penitent mind for the sins which we have committed, to hate our former offences, and then at least to direct our minds to more wholesome counsels *.
*This is taken from Dr. Stearne's "Tractatus de Visitatione infirmorum." Page 7.
And now that I am come to you, to assist you in your repentance and devotions on your bed of sickness, I hope that you are both desirous and ready to join with me in Prayer.
If the Sick Person be willing to join in prayer, the Minister may begin according to the order of the visitation of the sick, "Remember not, Lord," &c.; having first of all put to him the following Questions, touching his due reception of his sickness.
BUT before I proceed to pray with you, allow me to ask you a few ques
Or when other calamity or affliction;
"1. Are you persuaded that your sickness is sent unto you by Al
2. Do you believe and acknowledge, not only his justice, but also his kindness therein, as in a father's visitation?
And that all which you do now suffer, is far less than you have deserved to suf fer?
3. Do you therefore submit to it quietly, and without murmuring, because he sent it?
4. And do you look up to him for assistance and deliverance, and depend upon him to take it off again?
5. And are you willing that he should do this when he pleases, and contented to wait his good time for it?
6. And do you resign yourself up to his disposal, either to continue under your sickness, or to recover out of the same; to live or die, as he sees fittest for you?
7. Do you study to be as easy as you can to those who attend or minister about you; and to receive their well-meant care and services, kindly and thankfully?
8. Do you now plainly see the vanity of this world, and of all the possessions, pleasures, pomp and splendour thereof, which seemed the most tempting and desirable to you in time of your health? And are you fully sensible and convinced now, how little there is in them, and how soon you may be, or are like to be, taken from them?
9. Do you desire therefore to keep your heart loose, and taken off from the same? And to fix your hopes and desires upon God and heavenly things, which you will always find an help at hand, and a solid comfort in your need?