Directory For The Publick Worship Of God
Concerning Visitation of the Sick.
Question 1.—Is it the duty of the minister not only to teach people committed to his charge publicly, but privately?
Answer.—Yes. Acts 20:20. All that labor in word and doctrine, are bound to preach the Gospel publicly, but this is a part, not the whole, of the ministry they have received of the Lord. Undoubtedly, some of the greatest labors wrought on behalf of the Gospel have been by means of private communications, Acts 8:26-29; 9:17.
Question 2.—Is he to admonish, exhort, reprove, and comfort the people, upon all seasonable occasions, so far as his time, strength, and personal safety will permit?
Answer.—Yes. Isa. 40:1, 2. It is the duty of the ministers of God to be instant in season and out, 2 Tim. 4:2. This requires due attention to the occasions found in the lives of those over whom he is placed.
Question 3.—Is he to admonish them, in time of health, to prepare for death; and, for that purpose, should they often confer with him about the estate of their souls?
Answer.—Yes. Mark 8:36. The Gospel is particularly addressed to those in the vigor of life and often it is found that the sick bed or death bed proves unfavorable for those yet unconverted, Eccl. 12:1.
Question 4.—Are times of sickness and affliction special opportunities put into his hand by God to minister a word in season to weary souls?
Answer.—Yes. Ps. 119:50. These times being such special opportunities, it is the apostolic command to call for the elders from a bed of sickness, James 5:14. Christ himself makes it a great part of true religion to visit the sick, Matt. 25:36, 39, 40. Jesus Himself gave example of that pastoral care of those afflicted, Isa. 63:9; Matt. 8:17. So, it has been the practice of those teachers sent by God to visit those in infirmity, Isa. 38:1.
Question 5.—May he, from the consideration of the present sickness, declare that diseases come by the wise and orderly guidance of the good hand of God to every particular person smitten?
Answer.—Yes. Ex. 15:26. Disease is simply another messenger sent by God to afflict people. It is wholly within His power and prerogative to inflict or remove disease, Deut. 7:15.
Question 6.—Should he exhort the sufferer to seek to make a sanctified use of God’s visitation?
Answer.—Yes. Eccl. 7:2. It is the duty of those afflicted to sanctify to themselves the rod of God even as did the Psalmist, Ps. 41:3, 4.
Question 7.—Should the minister, if he suspect him of ignorance, examine him in the principles of religion?
Answer.—Yes. 2 Tim. 2:25. It is the duty of ministers to deliver people from ignorance, especially in the great matters of vital religion, Tit. 1:9.
Question 8.—Should the minister exhort the sick person to self examination, and to make trial of estate before God?
Answer.—Yes. Rom. 8:16. Ministers ought to warn all men to such self examination, the presence of God’s afflicting hand ought to move the sufferer to diligence, 2 Cor. 13:5.
Question 9.—Should the minister seek to satisfy and settle the sufferer by way of instruction and resolution in declared scruples, doubts or temptations?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Tim. 1:5, 6, 19. Ministers are to see that scruples, doubts and temptations are removed from amongst the flock.
Question 10.—Ought the minister to endeavour to bring the sufferer to a due sense of his sins, if it appears lacking?
Answer.—Yes. 2 Cor. 7:10. The mercy of God is held forth to those that have a proper sense of their sinfulness, Ps. 31:9, 10, 19.
Question 11.—If the sufferer, having endeavoured to walk in the ways of holiness, although not without failings and infirmities, be cast down, should the minister seek to raise him up, by setting forth the free and full grace of God?
Answer.—Yes. 1 John 3:19. The pastor has an obligation to minister to those children of light walking in darkness the comfort of free and full Gospel grace in Christ, 1 Tim. 4:6.
Question 12.—Should the minister also give advice so that the sick person disclaim all merit in himself, and cast himself wholly upon God for mercy in Christ?
Answer.—Yes. Phil. 3:8. Outside of Christ all our best works are but filthy rags, Isa. 64:6. There is no hope for any but to be received by God for Christ’s sake, Eph. 2:4-6.
Question 13.—Afterward, should the minister pray confessing and bewailing of sin actual and original and seeking to the mercy of God in Christ to sanctify the present visitation?
Answer.—Yes. James 5:16. God has joined His promises to the prayers of the righteous.
Question 14.—Should the minister pray that, if God should be pleased to raise the sick person up again, that he would be renewed to walk worthy and in remembrance of those vows which are usually made upon sick beds to the glory of God?
Answer.—Yes. Isa. 38:1-5. Those recovered should so walk as to fulfil those vows taken whilst upon the sick bed, Ps. 76:11.
Question 15.—Should the minister, if God have determined to make an end of the course of the afflicted in the present sickness, so exhort him that he should face death without fear casting himself wholly upon Christ without doubting?
Answer.—Yes. Phil. 1:20, 21. For them that believe, death is the entrance into the glory of the Lord.
Question 16.—Should the minister exhort the afflicted to set his house in order, and be reconciled to those with whom he has been at variance, even as he expects to receive forgiveness at God’s hand?
Answer.—Yes. 2 Kings 20:1. The approach of death ought to cause each person to set in order domestic affairs and see that forgiveness is tendered where needed, Matt. 5:23, 24; Luke 11:4.
Question 17.—Should the sick person be called to consider his own mortality, to return and make peace with the Lord; in health to prepare for sickness, death and judgment; and to wait patiently for the time of his change to come?
Answer.—Yes. Isa. 55:7. This present life is the day of mercy; sickness being the messenger of death to call us out of this world, the afflicted ought to well consider that the day of mercy is well nigh spent, Heb. 3:8.