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I am fallen into the hands of God3 with David, and with David I see that his mercies are great. For by that mercy, I consider in my present state, not the haste and the despatch of the disease, in dissolving this body, so much as the much more haste and despatch which my God shall use in recollecting and reuniting this dust again at the resurrection. Then I shall hear his angels proclaim the Surgite mortui, Rise, ye dead. Though I be dead, I shall hear the voice; the sounding of the voice and the working of the voice shall be all one; and all shall rise there in a less minute than any one dies here.
MOST gracious God, who pursuest and perfectest thine own purposes, and dost not only remember me, by the first accesses of this sickness, that I must die, but inform me, by this further proceeding therein, that I may die now; who hast not only waked me with the first, but called me up, by casting me further down, and clothed me with thyself, by stripping me of myself; and by dulling my bodily senses to the meats and eases of this world, hast whet and sharpened my spiritual senses to the apprehension of thee; by what steps and degrees soever it shall please thee to go, in the dissolution of this body, hasten, O Lord, that pace, and multiply, O my God, those degrees, in the exaltation of my soul toward thee now, and to thee then. My taste is not gone away, but gone up to sit at David's table, To taste, and see, that the Lord is good'. My stomach is not gone, but gone up, so far upwards toward the Supper of the Lamb, with thy saints in heaven, as to the table, to the communion of thy saints here in earth: my knees are weak, but weak therefore that I
3 2 Sam. xxiv. 14. 4 Psalm xxxiv. 8.
should easily fall to, and fix myself long upon my devotions to thee. A sound heart is the life of the fiesh5; and a heart visited by thee, and directed to thee by that visitation, is a sound heart. There is no soundness in my Jiesh, because of thine anger6. Interpret thine own work, and call this sickness correction, and not anger, and there is soundness in my flesh. There is no rest in my bones, because of my sin1; transfer my sins, with which thou art so displeased, upon him with whom thou art so well pleased, Christ Jesus, and there will be rest in my bones. And, O my God, who madest thyself a light in a bush, in the midst of these brambles and thorns of a sharp sickness, appear unto me so that I may see thee, and know thee to be my God, applying thyself to me, even in these sharp and thorny passages. Do this, O Lord, for his sake, who was not the less the King of heaven for thy suffering him to be crowned with thorns in this world.
III. Decubitus Sequitur Tandem.
The Patient takes his Bed.
WE attribute but one privilege and advantage to man's body above other moving creatures, that he is not, as others, groveling, but of an erect, of an upright form, naturally built and disposed to the contemplation of heaven. Indeed it is a thankful form, and recompenses that soul, which gives it, with carrying that soul so many feet higher towards heaven. Other creatures look to the earth; and even that is no unfit object, no unfit contemplation for man; for thither he must come, but because man is not to stay there, as other creatures are; man in his natural form is carried to the contemplation of that place which is his home, heaven. This is man's prerogative; but what state hath he in this dignity? A fever can fillip him down, a fever can depose him; a fever can bring that head, which yesterday carried a crown of gold five feet towards a crown of glory, as low as his own foot to-day. When God came to breathe into man the breath of life, he found him flat upon the ground; when he comes to withdraw that breath from him again, he prepares him to it by laying him flat upon his bed. Scarce any prison so close that affords not the prisoner two or three steps. The anchorites, that barked themselves up in hollow trees, and immured themselves in hollow walls; that perverse man, that barrelled himself in a tub; all could stand or sit, and enjoy some change of posture. A sick bed is a grave, and all that the patient says there is but a varying of his own epitaph. Every night's bed is a type of the grave. At night we tell our servants at what hour we will rise; here we cannot tell ourselves at what day, what week, what month. Here the head lies as low as the foot; the head of the people as low as they whom those feet trod upon; and that hand that signed pardons is too weak to beg his own, if he might have it for lifting up that hand. Strange fetters to the feet, strange manacles to the hands, when the feet and hands are bound so much the faster, by how much the cords are slacker; so much the less able to do their offices, by how much more the sinews and ligaments are the looser. In the grave I may speak through the stones, in the voice of my friends, and in the accents of those words which their love may afford my memory; here I am mine own ghost, and rather affright my beholders than
5 Prov. xiv. 30. 6 Psalm xxxviii. 3.
7 Psalm xxxviii. 3.
instruct them; they conceive the worst of me now, and yet fear worse; they give me for dead now, and yet wonder how I do when they awake at midnight, and ask how I do to-morrow. Miserable, and (though common to all) inhuman posture, where I must practise my lying in the grave by lying still, and not practise my resurrection by rising any more.
MY God and my Jesus, my Lord and my Christ, my strength and my salvation, Iyhear thee, and I hearken to thee, when thou rebukest thy disciples, for rebuking them who brought children to thee; Suffer little children to come to mea, sayest thou. Is there a verier child than I am now? I cannot say, with thy servant Jeremy, Lord, I am a child, and cannot speak; but, O Lord, I am a sucking child, and cannot eat; a creeping child, and cannot go; how shall I come to thee? Whither shall I come to thee? To this bed? I have this weak and childish frowardness too, I cannot sit up, and yet am loath to go to bed; shall I find thee in bed? Oh, have I always done so? The bed is not ordinarily thy scene, thy climate: Lord, dost thou not accuse me, dost thou not reproach to me my former sins, when thou layest me upon this bed? Is not this to hang a man at his own door, to lay him sick in his own bed of wantonness? When thou chidest us by thy prophet for lying in beds of ivory9, is not thine anger vented; not till thou changest our beds of ivory into beds of ebony? David swears unto thee, that he will not go up into his bed, till he had built thee a house10. To go up into the bed denotes strength, and promises ease; but when thou sayest, that thou wilt cast Jezebel into a bed, thou makest thine own 8 Matt. xix. 13. 9 Amos, vi. 4. ,0 Psalm cxxxii. 3.
comment upon that; thou callest the bed tribulation, great tribulation". How shall they come to thee whom thou hast nailed to their bed? Thou art in the congregation, and I in a solitude: when the centurion's servant lay sick at home12, his master was fain to come to Christ; the sick man could not. Their friend lay sick of the palsy,3, and the four charitable men were fain to bring him to Christ; he could not come. Peter's wife's mother lay sick of a fever", and Christ came to her; she could not come to him. My friends may carry me home to thee, in their prayers in the congregation; thou must come home to me in the visitation of thy Spirit, and in the seal of thy sacrament. But when I am cast into this bed, my slack sinews are iron fetters, and those thin sheets iron doors upon me; and, Lord, I have loved the habitation of thine house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth15. I lie here, and say, Blessed are they that dwell in thy house16; but I cannot say, I will come into thy house; I may say, In thy fear will I worship towards thy holy temple ", but I cannot say in thy holy temple. And, Lord, the zeal of thy house eats me up,8, as fast as my fever; it is not a recusancy, for I would come, but it is an excommunication, I must not. But, Lord, thou art Lord of hosts, and lovest action; why callest thou me from my calling? In the grave no man shall praise thee; in the door of the grave, this sick bed, no man shall hear me praise thee: thou hast not opened my lips, that my mouth might show thee thy praise, but that my mouth might show forth thy praise. But thine apostle's fear takes hold of me, that when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast
11 Rev. ii. 22. 1• Matt. viii. 6. ,s Matt. viii. 4.
14 Matt. viii. 14. is Psalm xxvi. 8. I6 Psalm lxxxiv. 4. 17 Psalm v. 7. 18 Psalm lxix. 9.