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PRINTED BY J. MOIR, PATERSON'S COURT.
HE subject of this book, however melancholy it
may appear to some, yet it is necessary to all; seeing the word of God, and our own experience, do affure us, that “Man, who is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble ;" and that he “is born to troubles, as the sparks fly upwards." Nay, God's dearest children are not exempted from this common fate. We see what is the character God giveth of his church, Ifa. liv. 11, “ Othou afflicted, and toffed with tempefts, and not comforted.”
If in this world, then, we must look for tribulation, it is highly necessary for every man to seek direction how to provide for it, and behave under it, so as he may glorify God, edify others, and attain to eternal happiness at last. The tribulations we have to look for here are manifold; but, among those that are outward, I • know none about which men ought to be more thoughtful and concerned, than bodily lickness, that usual harbinger of death, and which ushers the way to judgment.
This is a subject not much handled in public sermons, which are delivered only to them that are in health, the fick being incapable to attend them. Wherefore, it seems the more necessary to handle it in writing, that so the afflicted may have a book in their houfes, and at their bed-lides, as a monitor to preach to them in private, when they are restrained from hearing sermons in public.
And though sometimes ministers sermons may be very suitable to the case of the fick and afflicted yet, alas! the most part are careless and forgetful hearers of these things, while they are in health and prosperity, as reckoning the evil day at fome distance from them. A book, then, such as the following Directory, being with them in time of sickness and affliction, may, by the divine blessing, be useful to bring to their remem
brance those counsels and admonitions which they very much neglected in the time of their health.
Again, ministers of the gospel, though never so much inclined to attend the lick, yet, by reason of disability and multiplicity of other work, cannot be always with them, to direct, resolve, and comfort them. But such a book as this, they may have still at hand to consult with.
And, in regard the afflicted for the most part are out of cafe to read for themselves, it would be a most charitable work for friends or neighbours that attend them, to lay hold on proper seasons for reading such a book as this in their hearing; and especially such chapters or directions as they judge most suitable for them. Thus you might be helped in some measure to exoner your consciences, and do your last offices of kindness to your fick and dying friends, when you can serve them no longer in this world.
I might have brought in and handled some controverlies (had I been fond of them) in the ensuing treatise, about the administration of the Lord's fupper to the sick, and about extreme unction, which fome also begin to plead for, and thence have taken occafion to touch at some other new usages, such as the middle ftate, prayers for the dead, and
other Popish errors, that some (called Protestants) would have revived and introduced among us. But I have industriously shunned what is controverlal
, and kept close to what is practical and owned by all true Chriftians.
For preventing the growth of these and other errors, (from which this nation hath been much longer free than others) I wish all ranks among us would closely observe the sacred rule of faith, God's word, and remember the folemn and national engagements we of this land are under, to maintain the pure truths of God therein contained, in opposition to all sorts of errors, whether Popish, Pelagian, Arian, Antinomian, &c. And, may we ever abhor the doctrine that would teach us to break these bands asunder!
Have we not ground this day to suspect that Satan is carrying on a deep and subtle plot for shaking our
covenanted Reformation, and weakening a Protestant interest? When, upon the one hand, some are beginning openly to advance and propagate the old abjured Popish doctrines which our reformers did throw out, and with axes and hammers would go at once to cut down all our carved work; and, at the same time, on the other hand, lone would be at breaking down the excellent fences of our Reformation, viz. our covenants, confessions, the magistrate's power, &c For this end, papers are spread, and positions advanced, impugning the warrantableness of our national covenants and confessions, and the obligation thereof; reflecting also upon our worthy Reformers and ancestors, as unenlightened, who framed and took them, or died adhering thereunto ; and also denying the magistrate's power, CIRCA SACRA (for the support of the truth, and suppresfing of heresies) acknowledged by the word of God and our confession of faith ; and all this, forsooth, to make way for a toleration of all errors and sects among us ; though they cannot but know, that tolerating of false religions is expressly ranked among the fins forbidden in the second commandment, according to the expofition of our larger catechism; and is also condemned by the twenty-third chapter of our confession : in both which, we may see the clear scripture-texts, cited by the Allembly, for refuting and condemning any such toleration. Ah! what joy may all this cause at Rome! therefore tell it not in Gath, &c.
As the Lord did signally countenance our Reformers pradice in entering into folemn and national covenants with God, and among themselves, for religion and reformation, by the pouring out of his Spirit from on high, for bringing in of many souls to himself, and for overturning idolatry and superstition, and advancing reformation to a great pitch, in spite of all the enemies and difficulties that were in the way; fo their practice of national covenanting, even under the New Testament dispensation, is suificiently warranted both by the light of nature, and by the word of God, and that in both Testaments. And this will appear if we consider the scripture-precedents, together with the promises