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OF THE VISITATION OF THE SICK,
1. WHEN persons are sick, it is their duty, befure their strength and understanding fail them, to send for their minister, and to make known to him, with prudence, their spiritual state; or to consult him on the concerns of their precious souls. And it is his duty to visit them, at their request, and to apply himself, with all tenderness and love, to administer spiritual good to their immortal souls.
II. He shall instruct the sick out of the Scriptures, that diseases arise not out of the ground, nor do they come by chance; but that they are directed and sent by a wise and holy God, either for correction of sin, for the trial of grace, for improvement in religion, or for other important ends : and that they shall work together for good to all those who make a ise improvement of God's visitation, neither despising his chastening hand, nor fainting under his rebukes.
III. If the minister finds the sick person to be grossly ignorant, he shall instruct him in the nature of repentance and faith, and the way of acceptance with God, through the mediation and atonement of Jesus Christ.
IV. He shall exhort the sick to examine himself; to search his heart, and try his former ways, by the word of God; and shall assist him, by mentioning some of the obvious marks and evidences of sincere piety.
V. If the sick shall signify any scruple, doubt, or temp. tation, under which he labors, the minister must endeavor to resolve his doubts, and administer instruction and direction, as the case may seem to require.
VI. If the sick appear to be a stupid, thoughtless and hardened sinner, he shall endeavor to awaken his mind; to arouse his conscience; to convince him of the evil and danger of sin; of the curse of the law, and the wrath of God due to sinners; to bring him to an humble and penitential sense of his iniquities; and to state before him the fullness of the grace and mercy of God, in and through the
glorious Redeemer; the absolute necessity of faith and repentance, in order to his being interested in the favor of God, or his obtaining everlasting happiness
VII. If the sick person shall appear to have knowledge, to be of a tender conscience, and to have been endeavor. ing to serve God in uprightness, though not without many failings and sinful infirmities; or if his spirit be broken with a sense of sin, or through apprehensions of the want of the divine favor; then it will be proper to adininister consolation and encouragement to him, by setting before him the freeness and riches of the grace of God, the allsufficiency of the righteousness of Christ, and the supporting promises of the gospel.
VIII. The minister must endeavor to guard the sick person against ill-grounded persuasions of the mercy of God, without a vital union to Christ; and against unreasonable fears of death, and desponding discouragements; against presumption upon his own goodness and merit, apon the one hand, and against despair of the mercy and grace of God in Jesus Christ, on the other.
IX. In one word, it is the minister's duty to administer to the sick person instruction, conviction, support, consolation, or encouragement, as his case may seem to require.
At a proper time, when he is most composed, the minister shall pray with and for him.
X. Lastly, the minister may improve the present occasion to exhort those about the sick, to consider their mor. tality; to turn to the Lord and make their peace with him; in health to prepare for sickness, death, and judginent.
OF THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD.
I. WHEN any person departs this life, let the corpse be taken care of in a decent manner; and be kept a proper and sufficient time before interment.
II. When the season for the funeral comes, let the dead body be decently attended to the grave, anıl interred. Dur. ing such solemn occasions, let all who attend conduct themselves with becoming gravity; and apply themselves to serious meditation or discourse: and the minister, if present, may exhort them to consider the frailty of life, and the importance of being prepared for death and eternity.
OF FASTING, AND OF THE OBSERVATION OF THE DAYS
I. THERE is no day under the gospel commanded to be kept holy, except the Lord's Day, which is the Christian Sabbath,
II. Nevertheless, to observe days of fasting and thanks. giving, as the extraordinary dispensations of divine providence may direct, we judge both scriptural and rational.
III. Fasts and thanksgivings may be observed by individual Christians; or families, in private; by particular congregations; by a number of congregations contiguous to each other; by the congregations under the care of a presbytery, or of a synod; or by all the congregations of our Church.
IV. It must be left to the judgment and discretion of every Christian and family to determine when it is proper to observe a private fast or thanksgiving; and to the churchsessions to determine for particular congregations; and to the presbyteries or synods to determine for larger districts. When it is deemed expedient that a fast or thanksgiving should be general, the call for them must be judged of by the synod or General Assembly. And if at any time the civil power should think it proper to appoint a fast or thanksgiving, it is the duty of the ministers and people of our communion, as we live under a Christian government, to pay all due respect to the same.
V. Public notice is to be given a convenient time beo fore the day of fasting or thanksgiving comes, that per: bong may so order their temporal affairs, that they may properly attend to the duties thereof.
VI. There shall be public worship upon all such days; and let the prayers, psalms, portions of Scripture tc be read, and sermons, be all in a special manner adapted to the occasion.
VII. On fast days, let the minister point out the authority and providences calling to the observation thereof; and let him spend a more than usual portion of time in solemn prayer, particular confession of sin, especially of the sing of the day and place, with their aggravations, which have brought down the judgments of heaven. And let the whole day be spent in deep humiliation and mourning before God.
VIII. On days of thanksgiving, he is to give the like information respecting the authority and providences which call to the observance of them; and to spend a more than usual part of the time in the giving of thanks, agreeably to the occasion, and in singing psalms or hymns of praise.
It is the duty of people on these days to rejoice with holy gladness of heart; but let trembling be so joined with our mirth, that no excess or unbecoming levity be indulged.
THE DIRECTORY FOR SECRET AND FAMILY WORSHIP.
I. BESIDES the public worship in congregations, it is che indispensable duty of each person, alone, in secret; And of every family, by itself, in private, to pray to, and worship God.
II. Secret worship is most plainly enjoined by our Lord. In this duty every one, apart by himself, is to spend some time in prayer, reading the Scriptures, holy meditation, and serious self-examination. The many advantages arising from a conscientious discharge of these duties, are best known to those who are found in the faithful discharge of them.
III. Family worship, which ought to be performed by every family, ordinarily morning and evening, consists in prayer, reading the Scriptures, and singing praises.
IV. The head of the family, who is to lead in this service, ought to be careful that all the members of his household duly attend; and that none withdraw themselves unnecessarily from any part of family worship; and that all refrain from their common business while the Scriptures are read, and gravely attend to the same, no less than when prayer or praise is offered up.
V. Let the heads of families be careful to instruct their children and servants in the principles of religion. Every proper opportunity ought to be embraced for such instruction. But we are of opinion, that the Sabbath evenings, after public worship, should be sacredly preserved for this purpose. Therefore we highly disapprove of paying unnecessary private visits on the Lord's Day; admitting strangers into the families, except when necessity or charity requires it; or any other practices, whatever plausible pretences may be offered in their favor, if they interfere with the above important and necessary duty.