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Visitation of Most merciful God, who according to the
the Sick. Multitude of thy Mercies, doft so put away the Sins of those who truly repent that thou remembrest them no more; Grant me, I beseech thee, true Repentance and thy holy Spirit ; and then open thine Eye of Mercy upon my languishing Condition, and give me the Comfort of "Pardon and Forgiveness. Renew in me, most loving Father, whatsoever
hath been decayed by the Fraud and Malice of the Devil, or by my own carnal Will and Frailness. Preserve and continue me in the Unity of thy Church ; guard me by thy Power from all the Assaults of the Tempter, and suffer him not to take Advantage of my Weakness. Consider, I beseech thee,my Contrition, accept my Tears, hear my own and others Prayers on my Behalf, and alwage my Pains, as shall seem to thee most expedient for me. In thy Mercy, O Lord, I put my full Trust in thy Mercy alone, and in the Merits and Sufferings of my crucified Saviour ; Impute not, O Lord, unto me my former Sins, but strengthen me with thy Blessed Spirit ; and whenever thou art pleased to take me hence, take me unto thy Favour, through the Merits of thy dearly beloved Son, Fesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Of the Wisdom and Goodness of God.
1. Ere there no other Consideration to compose
the Mind, but that alone of our Sufferings being Just, should in Reason perswade Meekness, and Patience, and Contentedness under them. For as the Lam, iii.
Prophet urges very well ; Wherefore doth a mortal Man complain, even a Man for
the Punishment of his Sțn? And the Thief
the Cross, notwithstanding all the Hardening of his former profligate Life,yet
pacified himself under his Pains, and reproved his reviling Companion, with this Reflection, That they were under that Condemnation justly, and received but the due Reward
Luke xxiii.41. of their Evil Deeds. But we have yet abundantly more to quiet our Repining Thoughts, and filence all Complaints ; when the sharpness of an Affliction, or the Sufferings of a Sick Bed would provoke us to Impatience. Our Sins have been many and great enough to make God our Enemy; and do cry but too loud for the utmost Rigors of his Vengeance; yet are not these Adversities the Wounds and Bruises of an Enemy, but the Chastisements of a Father; One that smites us indeed, but it is in Righteousness and Friendship; and only with a Design to reprove and reform
Observe what Heavenly Comforts the Apostle hath left behind, and how God himself hath explained the Nature and Intent of his own Dispen- Hebr. xii. sations. My Son, despise not thou the Chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. For, whom the Lord loveth be chasteneth, and scourgeth every Son whom he receiveth. If ye endure Chastening, God dealeth with you, as with Sons, for what Son is he, whom the Father chasteneth not? Furthermore, we have bad Fathers of our Flesla which corrected us, and we gave them Reverence ; Mall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of Spirits, and Live? For
they veril; for a few Days chaftened us after their own Pleasure, but He for our Profit, that we might be Partakers of his Holiness. Now no Chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous ; nevertheless afterwards it yieldeth the peaceable Fruit of Righteousness, unto them that are exercised thereby.
II. What now can more illustrate the Wisdom of Providence, than the converting our bitterest Calamities into Occasions of our Virtue and Happiness? And which of all our Calamities is more likely to contribute to our Reformation than those of Sickness and Pain:For these, by touching our own Persons are most sensible and grievous to be born; and by punishing the Body, for the fake and service of which, most if not all our Wickednesses are committed, they meet with the very Cause, and go to the Root of the Disease, and so are best fitted to perfect the Cure. Our Physician of Souls is both skilful and kind; he will not give us over out of a cruel Indulgence to our own Ease. Our Father answers his Character, and gives seasonable Correction to prevent our utter Undoing. But in all this there is the Prudence of the Physician mixt with the Tenderness of the Parent. The one would not prescribe the bitter Cup, unless he knew it necessary and best for us; and if our Circumstances call for Correction, it is with Gentleness and Reluctancy, with Pain and Yearning of Bowels, that the other scourges.
III. Do thou therefore, O my Soul, consider who chuses for thee, and learn to resign thy self to his Disposals; for they are the Appointments of one who is wiser than thou, and who loves thee better than the tenderest Mother could. Do thou likewise consider, why he chuses thus, and learn to improve under the seeming harshness of such Dispensations. Take gladly the wholesome Physick, and secure a good Operation to thy self; Have no Desires or Wishes of thy own, but, with a constant Reserve to the good Pleasure of God, think and be assured that what he does is best ; Best in it self, and best for thee too, if thy own Fault obstruct it not. Alas! we know not what to pray for as we ought, and should therefore beg nothing positively, but that God would do what he sees most expedient. Ask therefore, my Soul, that he would
make thee an Instrument of his own Glory ; that he would support thee in these Tryals, and not suffer thee to be tempted above that thou art able ; that he would command all things to work together for thy Good
; and for the rest, take thy Saviour for thy Pattern, and as oft as thou prayest that the Cup may pass from thee, be sure forget not to add, from the very Bottom of thy Soul, Nevertheless, O Father, not my Will, but Thine be done.
IV. And, to render the Cup thou art now drinking as little unpalatable as may be, forget not also to suftain thy self with the Comforts even of thy weakest Condition; and seriously to observe how gracious the Lord is; how he hath not only spared when thou hast deserved Punishment, but in the very midst of his Wrath hath thought upon Mercy. If thy Pains be not perpetual, thank him forthy Intervals of Ease and Refreshment: If they be not acute and extreme, thank him for the Abatement and Moderation of them. If thou canst recruit thy feeble Spirits with Sleep, thank him for closing up thy Eyes, in gentle reviving Slumbers ; If he hold thy Eyes waking, thank him for the Opportunities of Meditating and Praying to him in the Night-season. Yea, thank him especially for continuing to thee thy Understanding and thy Senses; and that he hath given thee che Power and the Grace to make a good and holy Use of these; that the length of thy Sickness hath been so much a larger Opportunity of Preparing for that important Change, which, not this languishing Body of thine only, but also all those thou leavest behind in full Health, and Beauty, and Vigor, must shortly undergo. If thou endurest much; consider this is a good Method of weaning thy Affections from the World, and making Thee thirst and Pant more earnestly after the lasting Joys of a better place. If the tedious lingring Distemper assault, and almost weary out thy Patience, think how much
. rather This is to be chosen, than the raging Phrenfies of a Fever, or the sudden Stroke of an Appoplexy. Reflect upon the Condition of those Wretches, who are snatched out of the World, it may be in an act of damning Sin; but however in an Instant; without so much as the Power, or the Leisure, to seek Pardon or Peace, to commit their Souls to God, or so much as once implore his Mercy at the last Gasp. Oh! what would they have given! how much more would they gladly have endured, to purchase this long warning, the flow and solemn Approaches of Death, the happy Advantages thou now enjoyest, of trimming thy Lamp, and putting thy Soul 'in readiness to meet the Bridegroom at his coming! For tho'we ought indeed to expect him every Hour, even in our most confirmed Health; yet well is it for that Servant, who receives express notice of his Master's approach, and takes care so to provide for it, as in zealous Prayers and eager Wishes to go out to meet him; and having on the Wedding Garment, waits only for his last Call to enter with him to the Marriage.
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EJACULATIONS, Pfal. xliii.
Hy art thou so beavy, O my
art thou so disquieted within me? Still put thy Trust in God, for i will yet give him thanks,
who is the help of my Countenance, and my God. xviii. 18.
The Lord bath chaftened and corrected me, but he hath not given me over unto Destruction.
I know, O Lord, that my Judgments are right, and that Thou of very Faithfulness haft caused me to be troubled.
It is of the Lord's Mercies, that I am not long ago consumed, because his Compassions fail not.
The Lord is my Portion, Jaith my Soul, therefore will I hope in him.
Lam, iii. 22.