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watch. These circumstances tend to establish the reality of our Saviour's death, as well as the certainty of his resurrection, by refuting the story of the Jews, that the body of the Saviour was stolen from the sepulchre.
Q. Since we must all pass through the gate of death, to a state of never-ending happiness or misery, ought it not to be our principal concern to prepare for death?
A. It should be our supreme concern to prepare for death, that we may avoid the everlasting torments, and secure the eternal joys of that unchanging state of existence on which we then enter. The prospect of death must excite terror in all but those faithful servants of God, who can view it as the gate to a joyful resurrection, to never-ending glory and felicity.
Q. What is our only security against the fears of death? A. The constant exercise of piety and virtue can alone authorize us to place that reliance on the mercy and grace of the Redeemer, which will be our only security against the fears of death. He who has made his peace with God by sincere repentance and faith, and through divine grace endeavours to "keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man," may look forward to the approach of death, not only with composure, but with lively hope.
Q. Is not repentance a necessary preparation for death? A. In order to make our death safe and happy, we must reconcile ourselves to God by a sincere and hearty repentance. "The sting of death is sin;" and a soul loaded with guilt is not only incapable of the happiness of heaven, but is excluded from it by the absolute decree of God. To the work of repentance, therefore, we should immediately apply, lest sickness and death overtake us before we have made our peace with God. For though the approach of death may be a proper season to renew our repentance, it is the most unfit time to begin it; and there can be but little hope that it will then be sincere and effectual.
Q. Is not a degree of indifference to worldly enjoyments, as well as moderation in the pursuit of them, necessary to prepare us for a safe and happy death?
A. To wean our affections from the world is necessary to prepare us to meet death with composure and with hope. Our sorrow and concern at parting with the things of the world, will be in proportion to the love and esteem wherewith we
t Matt. xxvii. 57, &c.
have cherished them; and to be separated from objects on which we have fixed our hearts, must be attended with great pain and uneasiness. We should, therefore, accustom ourselves to resign freely to God those worldly objects from which death will inevitably snatch us, and gently to loose the ties which bind us to the world, that we may have less pain when they are entirely broken. We should habitually endeavour to moderate our desires for the enjoyments of this world; and suppressing all ambitious and covetous desires, and retrenching at times our innocent pleasures, we should hold ourselves in readiness to part with what we love most; and committing all our concerns to the disposal of God, we should bear without murmuring, all the losses and afflictions that assail us. In this manner we may be said, in the language of the apostle," to die daily;" since we shall feel daily less fondness for life, less desire for its glories, less eagerness for its emoluments, less concern for its highest pleasures. Death will thus find us prepared to leave the world, and to enter on the joys of our eternal rest.
Q. Is not circumspection in spending our time also a necessary preparation for death?
A. Time is the invaluable talent intrusted to us by God, on the right use of which will depend our eternal destiny. To abuse it, or squander it away in dissipation, in idleness, or sensual indulgences, will be to prepare for ourselves misery and anguish at the hour of death, when we come to review our past lives. By diligence and faithfulness in the discharge of the duties of our respective stations, and by making our everlasting salvation the supreme concern of life, we shall so employ the time allotted us, that, at the hour of death, we may be able to look back upon it with humble satisfaction and pleasure.
Q. Is not the proper regulation and settlement of our worldly affairs also a necessary preparation for death?
A. The prudent and proper regulation and settlement of our worldly affairs should be attended to while we enjoy health and spirits for the work. The disposal of our estate requires time and consideration, so as to distribute it justly among our own families, friends, and dependents, and to appropriate a proper proportion of it to pious and charitable purposes. This important business, therefore, should not be left to our last moments, when the mind is disordered, and
1 Cor. xv. 31.
the body harassed by pain and sickness. The Church accordingly, in her office for the visitation of the sick, directs that 66 men should often be put in remembrance to take order for the settling of their temporal estates while they are in health."
Q. What will give us particular comfort, upon a deathbed?
A. Works of mercy and charity, performed in the name of Christ, are the best proofs of the sincerity of our love to him, and will be the standard by which our future rewards will be determined: they, therefore, will afford us the most exalted consolation on a death-bed, inspiring us with confidence in the mercy of that Saviour, who hath promised to reward every act of beneficence done from love to him, as done unto himself.
Q. What are those holy dispositions with which we should bear the attacks of sickness?
A. We should bear the attacks of sickness with patience and resignation, with firm trust and dependence upon God, with thankfulness for his mercies. We should also, as far as possible, exercise devotion on a sick-bed, imploring the grace of God to succour and console us.
Q. Wherein consists the exercise of patience upon a sickbed?
A. The exercise of patience on a sick-bed, consists in carefully restraining all murmuring or discontent on account of our sickness; in watching against all temptations to anger, arising from the mistakes of our attendants, the unreasonable kindness of our friends, the disagreeableness of our medicines, and the preparation of our food; and in curbing all anxious fears and unreasonable solicitude.
Q. Wherein consists the exercise of resignation on a sickbed?
4. The exercise of resignation on a sick-bed, consists in. resting fully assured, that what God chooses for us is much better than what we could choose for ourselves; in considering our sickness and our pains as correctives of our past follies, and as proper aids to our growth in grace; and in being willing to refer the continuance and event of our sickness to the good pleasure of God, who, as he first placed us in the world, is the fittest judge when we should go out of it.
Q. Wherein consists the exercise of trust in God on a sick-bed?
praise, as soon as the absolution is pronounced, with anthems proper to the day; exciting her members to call upon one another "to keep the feast; for that Christ our passover is sacrificed for us, and is also risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept." The psalms, the lessons, the collect, epistle, and gospel, are all appropriate to the day. Q. What have you to observe concerning the psalms for the morning service?
A. The psalms for the morning service, are the 2d, 57th, and 111th. The 2d psalm was composed by David, on his triumphant settlement in his kingdom, after the opposition made by his enemies; and is a prophetical representation of the inauguration of the Messiah, in his regal and sacerdotal office, after he had been persecuted and crucified. The 57th psalm was drawn up on occasion of David's delivery from the hands of Saul; and, in a mystical sense, celebrates Christ's triumph over death and the grave. The 111th psalm is a thanksgiving for the marvellous works of redemption, of which the resurrection of Christ is the chief.
Q. What have you to observe concerning the psalms for the evening service?
A. The psalms for the evening service, are the 113th, 114th, 118th. The first was designed to set forth the admirable providence of God, which was never more discernable than in the great work of our redemption. The second is a thanksgiving for the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt; an event typical of our deliverance from death and hell. The last was composed when David was in the undisturbed possession of his kingdom, after the ark was brought to Jerusalem; but it was secondarily intended to prefigure our Saviour's resurrection, to which it is applied both by St. Matthew and St. Luke."
Q. What have you to observe concerning the lessons, epistle, and gospel for the day?
A. The first lessons for the morning and evening service, contain an account of the passover, and the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt; the one prefiguring Christ, who is our passover; the other, our deliverance from the dominion of death and hell. The gospel, and the second lesson for the evening, give us full evidence of Christ's resurrection; and the epistle, and second lesson for the morning, teach us what use we should make of it.
v Matt. xxi 42; Acts iv. 11.
Q. How do you prove the fact of the Saviour's resurrection?
A. The resurrection of Christ was attested by a sufficient number of witnesses; these witnesses were competent judges of the fact; their character and situation rendered them worthy of credit; they maintained their testimony to this fact, with the sacrifice of worldly interest, through suffering, persecution, and, finally, death itself; and they proved the reality of the resurrection of Christ, by the supernatural and miraculous powers which they exercised in attestation of it, and by which they established the religion of Jesus throughout the world.
Q. Prove that the resurrection of Christ was attested by a sufficient number of witnesses.
A. The fact of the Saviour's resurrection, clearly and forcibly predicted by the prophecies and types of the Old Testament, was attested by a sufficient number of witnesses. Christ, after his resurrection, appeared to his disciples at various times and places; he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; and afterwards, from the midst of his apostles, he was taken up into heaven."
Q. Prove that the witnesses of Christ's resurrection were proper judges of the fact.
A. The witnesses of Christ's resurrection had been his chosen companions; they were intimately acquainted with him, and therefore could not be deceived in regard to his person, when he appeared to them again. So far were they from being predisposed to believe in the doctrine of the resurrection of their Master, that they, in the first instance, repeatedly discovered the greatest incredulity in regard to it. This incredulity certainly gives the greatest weight to their testimony; for it excited suspicion; it led to examination; it could not be vanquished, but by repeated, strong, and irresistible proofs.
Q. Do not the character and situation of the apostles render them worthy of credit?
A. It is in the highest degree improbable, that simple, ignorant fishermen, would forge the strange, unnatural story, of their Master's resurrection: it is in the highest degree improbable, that these despised refuse of the people would conceive the bold and hazardous plan of attacking the religion of their forefathers, and the religion of the whole world,
w Matt. xxviii. 9: Luke xxiv. 31, 34: John xxi. 2; xx. 19, 26 : Acts i. 3, 9,