« PreviousContinue »
ON THE DUTIES OF THE SICK.
ISAIAH XXXVIII. LATTER PART OF V. 1.
Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die,
and not live.
I t is appointed to all men once to die; SERM.
XIX. death is the only passage from this world to the next. This awful event is usually preceded by a course of sickness, of longer or shorter continuance; and during this sickness we are called on to the practice of some particular duties, the principal of U 3
SERM, which I shall endeavour to point out in this XIX.
discourse. These duties are partly temporal, partly spiritual; some of them relate to our concerns in this world, and have for their object our fellow-creature ; some relate to the state to which we are going, and have for their object God, and the salvation of our souls.
I shall treat, in the first place, of those temporal duties which it is necessary that the sick man should fulfill.
Now many of these to a certain degree, and some altogether, should be performed during health; but as the generality of mankind are too apt to neglect them at that season, it becomes the more highly requisite that they should make all the amends in their power, when they perceive their end approaching. The first of these duties is justice; under which is comprehended the payment of our debts, the disposal of the remainder of our fortune, and the intreating pardon, and
making all the atonement which we are SERM.
XIX. able to those whom we are conscious that we have injured.
No debts should be contracted at any time, which there is the slightest chance that we may not be able to pay. It is not allowable for us to reckon with certainty upon living to such a period, and going in debt on the strength of that expectation, when we are conscious, that if we die before, our creditors will lose by having trusted us.
I will suppose, therefore, that when a person comes to be attacked with a dangerous disease, he is, as he ought to be, fully able to answer all demands upon him. -One of the first things, then, which he should do, is to discharge these demands, and where this is impossible to be done on the instant, to take all proper measures to secure their being discharged with expedition. If there are any debts, which are only known to himself and the party to whom U 4
SERM. they are due, he ought to take instant care XIX.
to acknowledge them before impartial and respectable witnesses. To restore to his neighbour what he has wronged him of, is another duty of the sick man. This, indeed, ought to have been done in health, and how far it will avail at the close of life, it would be great presumption to determine; however, if it has been neglected before, it is the more highly necessary to have recourse to it then ; it is all that is left for us, and there can be no hope of God's favour without it, it may possibly be attended with great difficulty ; but if men will do amiss, they must take the consequences of their wickedness ; the difficulty of making amends must not deter them from trying to do it, and if they are at a loss to know how themselves, they must take the advice of sensible and honest friends.
In some cases, perhaps, this restitution may greatly diminish what we might leave