Page images


Of the Order for the VISITATION of the SICK.


Chap. XI. IN a world so full of casualties as this we live in, in Why this which Sickness and even Death sometimes interrupts office is the Marriage-folemnities, it should be no matter of furplaced next prise that this melancholy office is placed immediately afto that

ter that of Matrimony. The Eastern Emperors thought of Matrimony. it not unsuitable to choose the stone for their fepulchre on

the day of their coronation 39. And it would not a little tend to temper and moderate the exuberant joys which sometimes attend the festivities of Marriage, if, by casting an eye on the following form, we should call to mind,

that the next and longer scene may be calamitous, Visiting the §. 2. It is certain that no age, nor sex, no state nor conSick a duty dition can fecure us from Sickness; and therefore, as no upon all. man should forget that it will, one day or other, come to

be his own lot; so should all men take care to comfort those who at present lie under this calamity. So that this is a duty which all Christians are obliged to, and to which great promises are annexed 40, and which was therefore always esteemed, by the ancient fathers of the church, to

be one of the most folemn exercises of religion 41, Especially $. 3. The Clergy more especially are expressly required Clergy.

to perform this duty by a divine command. For though private friends may pray for us, and with us, yet we can by no means place such confidence in their prayers, as we may in those that are sent to heaven in our behalf, by such as are peculiarly commissioned to offer them. For this rea

fon it is enjoined by Saint James 43, that if any be fick, Whom the they call for the Elders of the Church. From whence we Sick are to may observe that the care of sending for the Minister is id for. left to the Sick. For the Priest himself, it is very proba

ble, may never have heard of his Sickness; or, if he has,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

r Sick.

may not be so good a judge when his visit will be season- Intro able, or when the party is best able to join with him.

§.4. For this reason it is ordered by the rubric, that when At the beany person is pck, notice shall be given thereof to the Minister ginning of of the parish : i. e. not when the person is just expiring, (as there

ness. is too often the case,) but when the distemper or disease first discovers its approach. To put it off to the last scene of life, is to defer the office till it can do no good. For when the distemper is grown past recovery, to pray for his reítoration is only to mock the Almighty: and what spiritual advantage can be proposed or expected from the Minister's assistance, to one who is unable to do any thing for himself? For this reason it is the advice of the wise man, that in the time of our Sickness we take care of our Souls in the first place, and then afterwards give place to the Physician 43. And, among the ancient constitutions of this church, a strict charge is laid upon the bodily Phypcians, that, when they are at any time called to the Sick, they do before all things persuade them to fend for the Phyhcian of Souls, that, when care is taken for the fick man's Spirit, they may more successfully proceed to the remedies of external medicines 44.

§. 5. It is the fick person's duty therefore to give the Who are to Minister notice, and the Minister's to go when notice is go without given: for by the fixty-seventh canon of the church, it is delay. ordered, that when any person is dangerously fck in any parish, the Minister or Cảrate (having knowledge thereof)shall refort unto him or her (if the disease be not known, or probably suspected to be infečtious) to insirućt and comfort them in their distress, according to the order of the Communion-Book, if he be no Preacher ; or if he be a Preacher, then as he shall think most needful and convenient. Which last words evi- Whether dently allow a preaching Minister (that is, a Minister who the is licensed to preach) the liberty of using either this or- fined to the der, or any other, as he shall see convenient. And it is present or. certain that the order prescribed by the Common Prayer- der. Book is very deficient in several cafes. For which reason Bishop Andrews and others have drawn up offices to supply the defect ; though it may be questioned, whether, by the Act for the Uniforinity of public prayers, we be not restrained from private forms. At least it were to be wished that some more copious office was provided by authority, which might take in the various conditions of the Sick,

bly The unto him onom Cåratelon is dangerot the

e Minir.


--43 Ecclus. xxxvii. 9, 10, 11, 12. A. D. 1217. apud Spelm. Concil.
44 Conftit. Richard. Episc, Sarum. tom. ii.


hoult: which his Apoftlen nd (w

Chap. XI. for which they that confine themselves to the present order are often at a loss.

Sect. I. Of the Salutation. The Salu- THE Minister of the parish coming into the fick man's tation. house, is to say, Peace be to this house, and to all that dwell

in it: which is the same Salutation that our Saviour commanded his Apostles to use to every house into which they should enter As. And (which is particularly to our purpose) one main part of the Apostles' errand was to heal the Sick 46. We know indeed the Apostles worked miraculous cures : however, when the gift was ceased, the Salutation remained ; which therefore we use to this very day in visiting the Sick, since we still go on the same charitable account, though not endued with the same power. And the sense of the words is very suitable: for Peace signifies all outward blessings, though, when used in Salutations, it generally imports Health. For which reason, in Joseph's inquiry 47 after the health of his father, though the Hebrew text expresses it, Is there Peace to your Father? our translation renders it, Is your Father well ? to which the Septuagint reading also exactly corresponds, viz. Is your Father in Health? When therefore a family is visited with fickness or distress, what better Salutation can we use than this, viz. that they may all have Peace, i. e. Health and Prosperity? And as the apostolical Salutation was not a mere compliment, but * a real benediction to those that were worthy 48 ; fo shall this of ours prevail for what we ask to that house which is prepared to receive it. For which reason the family should receive it with thankfulness and faith, and welcome with joy the ambassador of heaven, who in the time of their calamity comes with health and salvation to their dwelling.

Sect. II. Of the Supplications and Prayers.

I.W HEN the Minister is come into the fick man's Pfal. cxli.

1. presence, he is to begin the Supplications. By the first used formerly.

book of King Edward, these were introduced with the hundred and forty-third Psalm; which, upon whatever occasion it was composed, is very proper and appli

45 Luke x. 5. 46 Verse 9.

47 Genesis xliii. 27.
48 Luke x. 6.


cable to any state of affliction. But at the next review Sect. II. this Psalm was left out, and the office has ever since begun with the sentence out of the Litany. For the Litany The senbeing designed for the averting of evil, and the proper office tence out of for a state of affliction, would have been very proper to

the Litany. be used here entirely, but that it is supposed the fick man cannot attend so long. For which reason there is only one sentence taken out of the whole, to deprecate both our own, and the Iniquities of our Forefathers, which so long as God remembers, his holiness and justice will oblige him to punish us more and more. And because all of us equally deserve to be afflicted, as well as the person for whom we are going to pray, therefore all that are present join to say both for themselves and him, Spare us, good Lord.

II. And as all that came to Jesus for help, used to Lord have cry, Lord have mercy upon us 49; so do we here, on the mercy like occasion, supplicate and beseech the whole Trinity for mercy, in that ancient form of which we have already spoken 50.

III. When we have thus prayed against evil, we pro- The Lord's ceed to petition for those good things which the fick inan's Prayer. condition makes him stand in need of. And that our prayers may be the more prevailing, they are introduced as usual with the Prayer of our Lord, which is more particularly proper here, as being very suitable to a state of trouble.

IV. This is followed by some short Responses, in which the Verfi. all that are present are to join with the Priest in behalf of cles and the Sick, who will doubtless be refreshed by the charity ker and devotion of so many supplicants, with united requests, petitioning the throne of grace for him *.

V. After this the Minister proceeds to collect the re- The firft quests of the people into a short prayer; wherein he begs, Collect. that whilst the Sickness remains, it may be made easy to

on us,

* The places of the Psalms, whence they are taken, have already been shewed upon the office of Matrimonyst: here is only one added for the preservation of the Sick from the malice of the Devil, which is taken from Psalm lxxxix. 23. according to the old Latin translation.

49 Matt. ix. 27. XV. 22. xvii. 15. 50 Page 152. XX. 30, 31.

51 Page 432. Ff4


Chap. XI. bear, by the comforts of divine grace continually bestowed.

upon the person that suffers. The second VI. And then, in another prayer, he proceeds farther Collect. to beg that the correction may be fanctified so, that, whe

ther it end in life or death, it may turn to his advan

[ocr errors]


How this Š. 2. This last prayer was shorter before the last reprayer was view: how it ran then may be seen in the margin*, where, worded formerly.

v. the instances borrowed from the Roman offices, being ex

amples of miraculous cures which are not now to be expected, were prudently left out, and supplied with some other more suitable petitions; which must be allowed to be a good improvement of the form.

Sect. III. Of the Exhortation.

The firft


IT is a part of a Minister's office to exhort, as well as to pray for their people, and that not only in time of health, but also in sickness 52: for then they stand in most need of directions, and are then most likely to follow wholesome advice. The church therefore, being unwilling to lose so likely an opportunity of doing good, when the sufferings of the patient make him tender and tractable, hath drawn up a proper and pious Exhortation, to improve that happy temper for his soul's salvation. The form here prescribed exactly agrees with the heads of Exhortation, which the Priest was ordered to use to the Sick by an ancient council above eight hundred years ago 53. It consists first of Instructions, concerning the author of afflictions, the ends for which they are sent, the manner

* After the words-Grieved with Sickness, it ran thus : Vifit bim, O Lord, as tbou didst visit Peter's wife's motber, and the captain's servant. [And as thou preservedf Tobie and Sarab by thy angel from danger;] fo visit and restore unto this fick perfon bis former bealtb, (if. it be thy will,) or else give bim grace fo to take tby Visitation, that after this painful life ended, be may dwell with tbee in life everlasting. Amen. But note, the clause within the crotchets [] concerning Tobie and Sarah, was only in the first book of King Edward, which also omitted the words Vist and, and instead of Visitation read Correction.

52 i Theff. v. 14. 2 Tim. iv, 2.
53 Concil. Nannetenf. c. 4. apud Binium, tom. iii. par. 2. pag. 131.


« PreviousContinue »