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FAMILIES AND PERSONS
Directions to the Sick,
BOTH UNDER AND AFTER THEIR AFFLICTION;
AND OTHERS WHO VISIT THEM :
SICKNESS AND DEATH,
AND HOW TO BE EXERCISED AT THE TIME OF DYING.
WITH A COLLECTION OF THE DYING WORDS OF MANY CHOICE AND
NECESSARY FOR FAMILIES.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED,
THE DYING WORDS OF THE AUTHOR,
Written by Himself, and found among his Papers after his Death.
BY THE REv. MR. JOHN WILLISON,
LATE MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL AT DU XDEE.
Jos xiii. 15.-Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.
THE subject of this book, however melancholy it
may appear to some, yet it is necessary unto ail; seeing the word of God, and our own experience du assure us, that “ Man who is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble;" and that he " is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.”
Nay, God's dearest children are not exempted from this common fate. We see what is the character God giveth his church, Isa. liv. 11. “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, 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 these that are outward, I know none about which men ought to be more thoughtful and concerned, than bodily sickness, 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 sick 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 houses, and at their bedsides, 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 sick 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 some distance from them. A book ihen, 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 re: membrance these counsels and admonitions which they very much neglected in the time of their health.
Again, ministers of the gospel, though ever so much inclined to attend the sick, yet by reason of disability and multiplicity of other work, cannot be al ways with them, to direct, resolve, and comfort thema 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 case 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 ju<lge most suitable for them. Thus you might be helped in some measure to exoner your consciences, and do
your Jast offices of kindness to your sick and dying friends, when you can serve them no longer in the world.
I might have brought in, and handled some controversies (had I been fond of them) in the ensuing treatise, about the administration of the Lord's supper to the sick, and about extreme unction, which some also begin to plead for, and thence have taken occasion to touch at some other new usages, sueh as the middle state, prayers for the dead, and other Popish errors, that some (called Protestants) would have revived
and introduced among us. But I have industriously shunned wbat is controversial, and kept close to what is practical, and owned by all true Christians.
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 solemn 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 teachi 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 lo cut down all the carved work; and at the same time, on the other hand, some would be at breaking down the excellent fences of our Reformation, viz. our Covepants, Confessions, the Magistrate's power, &c. For this end, papers are spread and positions advanced, impugning the warraatableness 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 suppressing of heresies,) acknowledged by the word of God, and our Confession of Faith; and all this, forsooth, lo 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 ainong, the sins forbidden in the second commandment, according to the exposition of our Larger Catechism; and is also condemned by the lwenty third