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inspiring false hopes. To gratify a sufferer who clings to life, he must not overstate his anticipations of recovery, and thus blunt the edge of providential warnings. It is a false friendship, it is a real cruelty, to soothe solicitude and lull into security, by speaking of renewed health and pleasure, when thought is pointing to aggravated illness and approaching dissolution. But, on the other hand, an elder should remember that there is an opposite extreme. In order to be faithful, it is not necessary to give expression to every foreboding. If he have no right to promise life, be is just as little entitled to predict death, There is One who is Lord both of death and life, who often removes when removal is least expected, and often restores when restoration is despaired of; and, knowing these facts, we do well not to infringe his prerogative. Among the working-classes especially, relatives themselves often give utterance to excessive fears with unrestrained freedom. In this manner they may induce the catastrophe which they foretell; and therefore they should be restrained rather than encouraged in this practice, and calmly reminded that we know not, and that it is not for us to know, the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power. Unless in extreme cases, it is enough to remember and to remark, that every disease is evidence of our mortality, and premonitory of our decease—that any disease may terminate fatally, and should therefore be improved as if this were its near and inevitable issue that whether we are to die or live, it is the same grace which qualifies for both

alternatives; and, therefore, on either supposition, we should apply instantly and earnestly for its needed


A large proportion of scripture has respect to alliction, and an elder can do nothing better, in addressing the afllicted, than cite revelation in its own language. Though he should simply repeat a number of appropriate passages of the divine word, he will find this rehearsal of heavenly..counsels far more impressive and persuasive than the wisest of human maxims, or the most connected and eloquent of uninspired orations.

For all that needs to be further said upon this point, it

may suffice to add, that next to a true and deep piety, a kind-hearted sympathy with sufferers is the best guide in accosting them with propriety. A heart melted by the sight of woes readily adapts itself to their special exigencies. Let us recall the loss of dear departed friends, and remember the time when we hung in anguish over their pallid cheek and quivering lip-let us verify in prospect our own certain and impending decease, and bethink ourselves what sort of comforters we shall desire in these solemn moments-then shall we remember those that are in bonds as bound with them, and those who suffer adversity as being ourselves also in the body. Placing our own souls in their souls' stead, we shall feel for them; and this fellow-feeling will prompt appropriate sentiment, and seek for itself acceptable words, and breathe into our very tone and manner a considerate and healing tenderness. I have spoken as if picty

and sympathy were distinguishable-and in a certain measure they are so; for we find some distinguished for commiseration, of whom a decided godliness can. not be affirmed. But, in another view, they are inseparable; for piety comprises love to man, and that love, in a case of suffering, must assume a sympathetic character. Indeed, the hard and stony heart is never thoroughly softened, till it is subjected to the influence of the blood of sprinkling; and then it ceases to be stone, and becomes flesh. Let us come much to Christ on our own behalf, and learn from his condescension and compassion, in composing our griefs, how it becomes us to comfort them which are in any trouble. We shall never speak words more seasonable in them. selves, or more blessed from on high, than when we comfort others by those consolations wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

I shall conclude these reniarks on the visitation of the sick, by answering one or two objections.

(1.) I have been told of elders who objected to visit the sick, on the ground that this is a species of teaching, and that they are not teaching, but ruling elders. The objection is so foolish, that I can hardly suppose

it put forward in good earnest by any person who has been appointed to an important office. Yet as several friends have requested me to notice it, I give it these replies :-First: When the apostle of the Gentiles speaks, 1 Tim. v. 17, of only some elders as labouring in word and doctrine, he alludes, as all expositors agree, to public instructions, and cannot be understood as exempting any class of elders from

doing good otherwise, as they have opportunity. See condly: Scripture is sufficiently express in assigning this duty to all elders without distinction : “Is any sick among you ? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him.'* Paul, in addressing the Ephesian elders collectively, exhorts them to feed the church of God;'† that is, to discharge the functions of shepherds to the church-for so the language in the original signifies. And what would be thought of a shepherd who allowed the sheep committed to his care to languish and die, and gave them no attentions ? Thirdly: All christians are bound to visit the sick: Pure religion, and undefiled, before God and the Father, is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.'I Can it be supposed, then, that presbyters alone are exempted from this obligation, or that a social duty binding on all is not peculiarly incumbent on elders of the church, to whom a guardianship of others has been specially and solemnly committed ? Fourthly: A minister cannot give all the attentions needed by the sick. In case his charge be of any magnitude, this one department of labour would require his whole time and more to do it justice. If, then, ruling elders are not appointed to aid ministers of the word in this important province, we are shut up to the conclusion, that no adequate provision has been made for the discharge of its duties. Fifthly, and finally: The members of a church could have no sympathy with an

* James v. 14. of Acts xx. 28. # James i. 27.

elder in fulfilling any of his functions, who had no sympathy with them in the day of their calamity, who knew that they were sick, and yet visited them not, that they were in the prison of affliction, and yet came not unto them; and, therefore, if any invested with this office are so heartless as to neglect the distressed on such a miserable pretext, I know not what other official obligation they can discharge with advantage.

(2.) Some elders scruple to visit the sick, on the ground that they are not qualified for the service. This objection wears a very different complexion from the former. But, after all, it may be better only in appearance, as it is no uncommon thing for indolence, and even pride, to fly from duty and detection in the guise of humility. Where timidity is unfeigned, I would remark, in alleviating its fears, that the simplest manner of performing this duty is the best. If you have nothing of your own to say to the sick, may you not rehearse some of God's sayings to them ? May you not repeat to them some of his promises, and kindly appeal to the sorrowing sợul, whether it do not find them great and precious ? If a sense of personal insufficiency be discoverable in your manner, that will promote your object, while you point attention away from man, and direct it for supplies to the fulness which is in Christ. Some elders who have little timidity in visiting the abodes of poor persons in the time of affliction, can hardly command courage enough to visit more affluent families in similar circumstances. Indeed, the richer

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