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Direct. III. When any fit of Sickness attacks you,
think seriously upon Death, and make diligent prea parations for it.
I DO not mean that any man may delay the work of preparation for death, till sickness cometh: No, no ; this should be the great and uptaking business of every man in the time of his health and strength. But sickness and difeafés being the harbingers of death; and meffengers sent from God to warn us of its coming ; every man is thereby called to renew the work of preparing for death with all earnestness and application. God's voice by every fit of fickness is that in Deut. xxxii. 29. “ O that they were wise, that they under. stood this, that they would consider their latter end !" God knows our folly, and readiness to forget this great work in the day of health s and therefore in his mercy he sends fickness and affliction, to teach us fo to num. ber our days, that we may apply our hearts to this piece of heavenly wisdom, of making preparation for death.
And here I shall drop, t. Some anotives to press it. 2. Advices for the doing it right. - 1. For motives, confider these things :
i. Consider God's merey and patience towards you, in giving you so many warnings, and so many years to prepare for death; and in sending his messengers and warnings so gently and gradually, to excite you to this work; when many younger and stronger than you are hurried into eternity, and little or no time given them to think where they are going. Have you not been spared many years in the midst of dangers, when you have seen that-bold archer, Death, shooting his arrows, and killing thoufands of your neighbours and friends round about you? Sometimes the arrow hath glanced over your head, and llain some great man your fuperior ; sometimes it hath lighted at your feet, and cut off a child or servant, your inferiors; sometimes it hath gone by on your left hand, and killed your enemy; at other times it hath pafled on your right hand, and killed your near relations. So that you have seen friends
and foes, fuperiors and inferiors, relations and stran. gers, dropping down dead round about you; and all this for a long tract of time, to give you warning to prepare for death. O let the goodness and forbearance of God towards yoù lead you to repentance, and perfuade you to fly speedily to Chrift for refuge and protection froin wrath !!
adly, Confider how terrible death will be, if it meets you in an unprepared state, in a Christless and impenitent condition. What a fearful change will it bring upon you? A change from earth to hell, from hope to defpair, from pleasure to pain, from comforts to tertors; a change from the offers of grace to the revelation of wrath ; a change from probabilities to utter impossibilities of falvation. Death will cut off all your hopes and expectations of mercy for ever, Job xxvïi. 3. There is no coming back to amend what hath been done amiss here; and there is no work nor device in the gtave whither you go. As the tree falls, so it will lie through all eternity.
II. I come to give some advices, in order to the right preparation for death. ift, Set about self-examination work. Enquire if you be in Christ or not; if you be yet far off from God, or if you be brought near by the blood of Christ. And fee that you be impartial in this search, and willing to find out the truth in this impor. tant question. Be not foolishly tender of yourself, and apt to believe that you are safe, when it is not so ; for this way thousands do rúin themselves. But be content to know the worst of your case, and thoroughly to una derstand your fouľs danger, that you may be moved to take the right way to escape it. Wherefore take, a view of the mark of Chriftless and unconverted persons set down in God's word, and judge yourself by them: and Consider also the designs of true grace there recorded, and see if they be applicable to you or not.
adly, If, after enquiry, you find your state is bad, that you have been a lover of the world more than of God, you have minded your body more than your foul, you have lived in the neglect of precious Christ; allowed yourself in known fan; then be convinced
of your inability to help yourself, and of your need Chrift to help you. And labour to be deeply hun bled before God under a sense of your Gin and foll; " Ah, how foolishly, how rebelliously, how unthank fully have I carried! I have abused God's mercies and left undone the work for which I was made, pre. served, and enjoyed the gospel. Oh! I had all my by past time given me to make preparation for endless eternity, and I have never minded it, till now that fickness, the harbinger of death, is come upon me. And now what shall I do to be saved ?" Well, then, in order to convince and humble you the more, cast back your eyes upon the sins of your nature, and of your by-past life; view them in their nature, number, aggravations, and deserts. O, do not so many years fins need a very deep humiliation ? O, do you not stand greatly in need of such a person as Christ, to be your Saviour and Ransomer from such a vast number of Gos? O but their weight will press you eternally down to the lowest hell, if left to yourself, and laid upon your back.
3. O finner, art thou deeply humbled, and desirous of mercy upon any terms ? Believe, then, that thy, case is not remediless, but that there is a sacrifice pro vided for your ans, and an able and all sufficient Savi. our in your offer. Believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and become flesh to be a surety for you, that he is both able and willing to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him. Though your lins, your dangers, and your fears, were never so great, yet he is able and willing to save. O flee presently to this refuge-city, whose gates are open to receive you. Trust your souls upon Christ's facrifice and meritorious blood for mercy and salvation. Apply humbly to him, that he may teach you the will of God, reconcile you to his Father, pardon your fins, renew you by his Spi, rit, and save you from eternal wrath.
4. Give up yourselves to God in Christ, by way of covenant and folemn resignation. Every man doth this facramentally in baptism; but you must also renew it personally and explicitly, and thereby give a cordial
and voluntary consent to the covenant of grace. Acquiesce cheerfully in the gospel way of salvation through Christ and his righteousness; and accept of God, in Chrift, as thy portion. Make choice of God the Father, as thy reconciled Father in Christ; and God the Son as thy Redeemer and Saviour; and God the Holy Ghost for thy sanctifier, guide, and comforter. And likewise give up thyself, foul and body, and all thou haft, to be the Lord's; engaging in Christ's strength to Jive for God, and walk with him in newness of life. And study to do all this deliberately, unfeignedly, and cheerfully. Though, perhaps, you have done this hypocritically at former times, you have profaned God's covenant, and behaved unstedfastly and perfidiously therein ; yet now endeavour to be fincere with God for once.
5. Be living daily in the exercise of faith and repentance; renew the acts thereof frequently, in proportion to your renewed fins and guiltiness, cleave close to glorious Christ your high-priest and surety, and be ever washing in his blood. As long as you are in the world, you have need to wash your feet, John xii. 10. Come
looking to and making use of Jesus Christ. You have great need of Christ every day of your life, more efpecially in sickness; but most of all at a dying hour. O what need will you have of Christ then as an advocate with God, when the question is to be determined, where your mansion is to be assigned through all eternity, Whether in heaven or hell? O then be looking always to Christ with the eye of faith. Live, in the constant thoughts of this blessed Mediator. Let him be first in, your thoughts in the morning, and last in your thoughts at night.
6. Be striving to mortify every sin and lust, both outward and inward. By dying to fin daily, that so you may not die for Gin eternally. Othat fin may be daily losing its Arength, and dying in you! so that it may be certainly dead before you. Pray earnestly, that all your fins may die before you die : for if they die
not before you, but outlive the dying body, they w live eternally to sting and torment the never-dying for
Direct. IV. Be not anxiou; for recovery to health
but leave the issue of the present Gckness to the will and pleasure of the infinitely wise God.
REMEMBER, O man, that thou art the clay, and God is the Potter ; he is absolute Lord of thy life and times, therefore learn to adore his fovereignty over thee and all thy enjoyments. David doth so, when he says, “ Lord, my times are in thy hand,” Pf. xxxi. 15. And indeed they are only beft in his hand, for he bedt knows how to dispose of them. The prophet faith, Isa. xxx. 18. “ The Lord is a God of judgment, blessed are all they that wait for him." Judgment there signifies wisdom; the Lord is a God of wisdom, and will order and time all things well, and therefore it becomes us quietly to wait for his pleasure, saying, "che will of the Lord be done :" It is taken notice of, as a great sin in the Israelites, that they waited not for his counsel, but limited the Holy One of Israel, Psal. lxxviii. 14. What unaccountable folly and presumption is it for worms of the earth to seek to fiint and limit the Sovereign of heaven to their measures ! It becomes us at all times, and espeeially in fickness and affli&tion, to have low submissive thoughts of ourselves, and high exalted thoughts of God's lovereignty, such as Nebuchadnezzar had, Dan. iv.,35. « And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, what doft tbou." We should therefore refer all to his wise determination, and be willing to die or live, as he shall be pleafed to appoint. I remember I have read of a godly woman, who in her fickness being asked by one, Whether the was most desirous to die or live? She answered, I have no choice in that matter, but refer myself unto che will of God. But, said the other, suppose God should refer it unto you, whether to die or live, which of them