« السابقةمتابعة »
PRINTED BY J. MOIR, PATERSON'S COURT.
For J. DICKSON, J. Ogle, J. FairbaIRN, J. GUTHRIE, and S. CHEYNE,
TO THE READER.
HE fubject of this book, however melancholy it may appear to fome, yet it is neceffary to all; feeing the word of God, and our own experience, do affure us, that "Man, who is born of a woman, is of few days, and full of trouble;" and that he "is born to troubles, as the sparks fly upwards." Nay, God's dearest children are not exempted from this common fate. We fee what is the character God giveth of his church, Ifa. liv. 11. "O thou afflicted, and toffed with tempefts, and not comforted."
If in this world, then, we must look for tribulation, it is highly neceffary for every man to feek direction how to provide for it, and behave under it, fo as he may glorify God, edify others, and attain to eternal happinefs at lafl. The tribulations we have to look for here -are manifold; but, among thofe that are outward, I ⚫ know none about which men ought to be more thoughtful and concerned, than bodily fickness, that ufual harbinger of death, and which ufhers the way to judgment.
This is a fubject not much handled in public fermons, which are delivered only to them that are in health, the fick being incapable to attend them. Wherefore, it feems the more neceffary to handle it in writing, that fo the afflicted may have a book in their hou fes, and at their bed-fides, as a monitor to preach to them in private, when they are restrained from hearing fermons in public.
And though fometimes minifters fermons may be very fuitable to the cafe of the fick and afflicted; yet, alas! the most part are careless and forgetful hearers of thefe things, while they are in health and profperity, as reckoning the evil day at fome distance from them. A book, then, fuch as the following Directory, being with them in time of fickness and affliction, may, by the divine bleffing, be useful to bring to their rememA 2 brance
brance thofe counfels and admonitions which they very much neglected in the time of their health.
Again, minifters of the gofpel, though never much inclined to attend the lick, yet, by reafon of difability and multiplicity of other work, cannot be always with them, to direct, refolve, and comfort them. But fuch a book as this, they may have still at hand to confult with.
And, in regard the afflicted for the most part are out of cafe to read for themselves, it would be a most charitable work for friends or neighbours that attend them, to lay hold on proper feafons for reading fuch a book as this in their hearing; and efpecially fuch chapters or directions as they judge most suitable for them. Thus you might be helped in fome measure to exoner your confciences, and do your laft offices of kindness to your fick and dying friends, when you can serve them no longer in this world.
I might have brought in and handled fome controverfies (had I been fond of them) in the enfuing treatife, about the administration of the Lord's fupper to the fick, and about extreme unction, which fome alfo begin to plead for, and thence have taken occafion to touch at some other new ufages, fuch as the middle ftate, prayers for the dead, and other Popish errors, that fome (called Proteftants) would have revived and introduced among us. But I have induftriously shunned what is controverfial, and kept clofe to what is practical and owned by all true Chriftians.
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 obferve the facred rule of faith, God's word, and remember the folemn and national engagements we of this land are under, to maintain the pure truths of God therein contained, in oppofition to all forts of errors, whether Popish, Pelagian, Arian, Antinomian, &c. And, may we ever abhor the doctrine that would teach us to break these bands afunder!
Have we not ground this day to suspect that Satan is carrying on a deep and fubtle plot for fhaking our
covenanted Reformation, and weakening a Proteftant intereft? When, upon the one hand, fome 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 to cut down all our carved work; and, at the fame time, on the other hand, fome would be at breaking down the excellent fences of our Reformation, viz. our covenants, confeffions, the magiftrate's power, &c For this end, papers are spread, and pofitions advanced, impugning the warrantablenefs of our national covenants and confeffions, and the obligation thereof; reflecting alfo upon our worthy Reformers and ancestors, as unenlightened, who framed and took them, or died adhering thereunto; and alfo denying the magiftrate's power, CIRCA SACRA (for the fupport of the truth, and fuppreffing of herefies) acknowledged by the word of God and our confeffion of faith; and all this, forfooth, to make way for a toleration of all errors and fects among us; though they cannot but know, that tolerating of falfe religions is exprefsly ranked among the fins forbidden in the fecond commandment, according to the expofition of our larger catechifm; and is alfo condemned by the twenty-third chapter of our confeffion: in both which, we may fee the clear fcripture-texts, cited by the Affembly, for refuting and condemning any fuch toleration. Ah! what joy may all this cause at Rome! therefore tell it not in Gath, &c.
As the Lord did fignally countenance our Reformers practice in entering into folemn and national covenants with God, and among themselves, for religion and reformation, by the pouring out of his Spirit from on high, for bringing in of many fouls to himself, and for overturning idolatry and fuperftition, and advancing reformation to a great pitch, in fpite of all the enemies and difficulties that were in the way; fo their practice of national covenanting, even under the New Teftament difpenfation, is fufficiently warranted both by the light of nature, and by the word of God, and that in both Teftaments. And this will appear if we confider the fcripture-precedents, together with the promifes