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The Right Honourable and
Noblest Lord,

RICHARD, Earl of Carbery,


My Lord,

AM treating your Lordfhip as a Roman
Gentleman did Saint Augujline and his
Mother ; I fhall entertain you in a Char-
nel-houfe, and carry your Meditations
awhile into the chambers of Death, where you fhall
find the rooms drelTed up with melancholic arts, and
fit to converfe with your moft retired thoughts, which
begin with a figh, and proceed in deep confideration,
and end in a holy refolution. The fight that '^i. Au-
gujline mofl noted in that houfe of forrow was the
body QiiCcefar clothed with all the difhonours of cor-
ruption that you can fuppofe in a fix months' burial.
But I know that, without pointing, your firft thoughts
will remember the change of a greater beauty, which
is now drefling for the brightefi: immortality, and
H. D. b


from her bed of darknefs calls to you to drefs your
Soul for that change which fhall mingle your bones
with that beloved duft, and carry your Soul to the
fame Quire, where you may both fit and fing for
ever. My Lord, it is your dear Lady's Anniverfaryy
and file deferved the biggeji honouVy and the longejl
memory, and tht fairejl monument, and the n\o{i fo-
lemn mourning: and in order to it, give me leave
(My Lord) to cover her Hearfe with thefe following
fheets. This Book was intended firfl to minifter to
her Piety; and fhe defired all good people fhould
partake of the advantages which are here recorded :
fhe knew how to live rarely well, and fhe defired to
know how to die ; and God taught her by an expe-
riment. But fince her work is done, and God fup-
plied her with provifions of his own, before I could
minifter to her, and perfe(5l what fhe defired, it is
neceffary to prefent to your Lordfhip thofe bundles
of Cyprefs which were intended to drefs her Clofet,
but come now to drefs her Hearfe. My Lord, both
your Lordfhip and myfelf have lately feen and felt
fuch forrows of Death, and fuch fad departure of
dearefl friends, that it is more than high time we
fhould think ourfelves nearly concerned in the acci-
dents. Death hath come fo near to you as to fetch
a portion from your very heart ; and now you cannot
choofe but dig your own grave, and place your coffin
in your eye, when the Angel hath dreffed your fcene

of forrow and meditation with fo particular and fo
near an objed: : and therefore, as it is my duty, I am
come to minifler to your pious thoughts, and to di-
redl your forrows, that they may turn into virtues and

And Unce I know your Lordfhip to be fo conftant
and regular in your Devotions, and fo tender in the
matter of Juftice, fo ready in the expreffions of Cha-
rity, and fo apprehenfive of Religion, and that you
are a perfon whofe work of Grace is apt, and muft
every day grow toward thofe degrees, where when
you arrive you fhall triumph over imperfecflion, and
choofe nothing but what may pleafe God ; I could
not by any compendium condudt and affift your pious
purpofes fo well, as by that which is the great argu-
ment and the great inllrument of Holy Living, the
Confideration and Exercifes of Death.

My Lord, it is a great art to die well, and to be
learnt by men in health, by them that can difcourfe
and conlider, by thofe whofe underftanding and adls
of reafon are not abated with fear or pains : and as
the greateft part of Death is pafled by the preceding
years of our Life, fo alfo in thofe years are the greateft
preparations to it ; and he that prepares not for Death
before his laft ficknefs, is like him that begins to
ftudy Philofophy when he is going to difpute pub-
licly in the Faculty. All that a fick and dying man
can do is but to exercife thofe virtues which he be-


fore acquired, and to perfed: that repentance which
was begun more early. And of this (My Lord) my
Book, I think, is a good teftimony; not only be-
caufe it reprefents the vanity of a late and fick-bed
repentance, but becaufe it contains in it fo many
precepts and meditations, fo many proportions and
various duties, fuch forms of Exercife, and the de-
grees and difficulties of fo many Graces which are
necelTary preparatives to a holy Death, that the very
learning the duties requires ftudy and fkill, time and
underftanding in the ways of godlinefs : and it were
very vain to fay fo much is neceffary, and not to fup-
pofe more time to learn them, more fkill to prad:ife
them, more opportunities to defire them, more abi-
lities both of body and mind than can be fuppofed
in a lick, amazed, timorous, and weak perfon ; whofe
natural adts are difabled, whofe fenfes are weak,
whofe difcerning faculties are lelTened, whofe prin-
ciples are made intricate and entangled, upon whofe
eye fits a cloud, and the heart is broken with fick-
nefs, and the liver pierced through with forrows, and
the flrokes of Death. And therefore (My Lord) it is
intended by the neceffity of affairs, that the pre-
cepts of dyifig well be part of the ftudies of them
that live in health, and the days of difcourfe and un-
derflanding, which in this cafe hath another degree
of neceffity fuperadded ; becaufe in other notices,
an imperfedt fludy may be fupplied by a frequent


exercife and a renewed experience ; here if we
pradtife imperfedly once, we fhall never recover the
error : for we die but once ; and therefore it will be
necelTary that our fkill be more exadl, fince it is not
to be mended by trial, but the adions muft be for
ever left imperfedl, unlefs the habit be contracted
with ftudy and contemplation beforehand.

And indeed I were vain, if I fhould intend this
Book to be read and ftudied by Dying perfons : And
they were vainer that fhould need to be inftrud:ed
in thofe graces which they are then to exercife and
to finifh. For a fick-bed is only a fchool of fevere
exercife, in which the fpirit of a man is tried, and
his graces are rehearfed : and the affiftances which
I have in the following pages given to thofe virtues
which are proper to the ftate of Sicknefs, are fuch
as fuppofe a man in the ftate of grace ; or they con-
firm a good man, or they fupport the weak, or add
degrees, or minifter comfort, or prevent an evil,
or cure the little mifchiefs which are incident to
tempted perfons in their weaknefs. That is the fum
of the prefent defign as it relates to Dying perfons.
And therefore I have not inferted any advices proper
to Old age, but fuch as are common to it and the ftate
of ficknefs ; for I fuppofe very old age to be a longer
Jicknefs; it is labour and forrow when it goes beyond
the common period of nature : but if it be on this
fide that period, and be healthful ; in the fame de-


gree it is fo, I reckon it in the accounts of life ; and
therefore it can have no diftindt confideration. But
I do not think it is a ftation of advantage to begin
the change of an evil life in : It is a middle Aate
between life and death-bed; and therefore although
it hath more of hopes than this, and lefs than that;
yet as it partakes of either ftate, fo it is to be regu-
lated by the advices of that ftate, and judged by its

Only this : I defire that all old perfons would
fadly confider that their advantages in that ftate are
very few, but their inconveniences are not few;
their bodies are without ftrength, their prejudices
long and mighty, their vices (if they have lived
wicked) are habitual, the occalions of the virtues
not many, the poffibilities of fome (in the matter of
which they ftand very guilty) are paft, and fhall
never return again, (fuch are, chaftity, and many
parts of felf-denial ;) that they have fome tempta-
tions proper to their age, as peevifhnefs and pride,
covetoufnefs and talking, wilfulnefs and unwilling-
•vei quia nil reaum,mf. Hcfs to * Icam ; aud thcy think

quod placuit fibi, du- , n i i r

cunt; they are protected by age from

Vel quia turpe putant pa- , .

rere minoribus, et, quas Icammg a new, or rcpcntiug thc

Imbeibes didicere, fenes

perdenda fateri. old I and do UOt i* IcaVC, but

Hor.Ep. ^ ^ '

change their vices : And after all

\ Tenellis adhuc in- ^

fantiae fuae perfuafionibus j-j^jg efthcr the day of their rc Dent-
in lenectute pueralcunt, ' -' ^^


very many; or it is expiring and towards the Sun-
fet, as it is in all : and therefore although in thefe
to recover is very poffible, yet we may alfo remem-
ber that, in the matter of virtue and repentance pof-
fibility is a great way off from performance; and how
few do repent, of whom it is only pojjible that they
may ? and that many things more are required to
reduce their pojjibility to a(5l ; a great grace, an affi-
duous miniftry, an eifedlive calling, mighty affifl-
ances, excellent counfel, great induftry, a watchful
diligence, a well-difpofed mind, paffionate delires,
deep apprehenlions of danger, quick perceptions of
duty, and time, and God's good bleffing, and effed:ual
impreffion and feconding all this, that to will and to
do may by him be wrought to great purpofes, and
with great fpeed.

And therefore it will not be amifs, but it is hugely
necelTary, that thefe perfons who have loft their time
and their blelTed opportunities fhould have the dili-
gence of youth, and the zeal of new converts, and
take account of every hour that is left them, and pray
perpetually, and be advifed prudently, and ftudy the
interefl of their fouls carefully with diligence, and
with fear ; and their old age, which in effed: is no-
thing but a continual death-bed, drefled with fome
more order and advantages, may be a ftate of hope
and labour> and acceptance ; through the infinite
mercies of God in Jefus Chrift.


But concerning finners really under the arreft of
death, God hath made no death-bed covenant, the
Scripture hath recorded no promifes, given no in-
fl:rud:ions, and therefore I had none to give, but only
the fame w^hich are to be given to all men that are
alive, becaufe they are fo, and becaufe it is uncertain
when they fhall be otherwife. But then this advice
I alfo am to infert. That they are the fmalleft num-
ber of Chriftian men, who can be divided by the
characters of <^ certain holinefs, or an open villany: and
between thefe there are many degrees of latitude, and
moft are of a middle fort, concerning which we are
tied to make the judgments of charity, and poffibly
God may do fo too. But however, all they are fuch
to whom the Rules of Holy Dying are ufeful and appli-
cable, and therefore no feparation is to be made in
this world. But where the cafe is not evident, men
are to be permitted to the unerring judgment of God;
where it is evident, we can rejoice or mourn for them
that die.

In the Church of Rome they reckon otherwife
concerning lick and Dying Chriflians than I have
done. For they make profeffion, that from death
to life, from iin to grace, a man may very certainly
be changed, though the operation begin not before
his laft hour : and half this they do upon his death-
bed, and the other half when he is in his grave ; and
they take away the eternal punijliment in an inftant.


by a fchool-diftlndion or the hand of the Prieft ; and
the temporal puniJJiment fliall flick longer, even then
when the man is no more meafured with tifne, having
nothing to do with anything of ov under the Sun; but
that they pretend to take away too when the man
is dead ; and, God knows, the poor man for all this
pays them both in hell. The diftin^lion oi temporal
and eternal is a juft meafure of pain, when it refers
to this life and another: but to dream of a punifh-
ment temporal when all his time is done, and to think
of repentance when the time of grace is part, are
great errors, the one in Philofophy, and both in Di-
vinity, and are a huge folly in their pretence, and
infinite danger if they are believed ; being a certain
deftrudiion of the neceflity of holy living, when men
dare truft them, and live at the rate of fuch dodrines.
The fecret of thefe is foon difcovered : for by fuch
means though a holy life be not neceffary, yet a Prieft
is ; as if God did not appoint the Prieft to minifter
to holy living, but to excufe it ; fo making the holy
calling not only to live upon the fins of the people,
but upon their ruin, and the advantages of their
fun(5lion to fpring from their eternal dangers. It is
ian evil craft to ferve a temporal end upon the Death
of Souls : that is an intereft not to be handled but
with noblenefs and ingenuity, fear and caution, dili-
gence and prudence, with great fkill and great ho-
nefty, with reverence, and trembling, and feverity :


a Soul is worth all that, and the need we have re-
quires all that: and therefore thofe dodlrines that
go lefs than all this are not friendly, becaufe they
are not fafe.

I know no other difference in the vifitation and
treating of fick perfons, than what depends upon the
article of late Repentance : for all Churches agree
in the fame effential propofitions, and affift the fick
by the fame internal miniftries. As for externaly I
mean UnBion, ufed in the Church of Kome, fince it
is ufed when the man is above half dead, when he
can exercife no adt of underftanding, it muft needs
be nothing : for no rational man can think that any
Ceremony can make a fpiritual change, without a
fpiritual adt of him that is to be changed ; nor work
by way of nature, or by charm, but morally, and
after the manner of reafonable creatures : and there-
fore I do not think that miniftry at all fit to be
reckoned among the advantages of fick perfons.
The Fathers of the Council of Trent firfl difputed,
and after this manner at laft agreed, that extreme
JJnBion was injlituted by Chriji. But afterwards,
being admonifhed by one of their Theologues, that
the Apoftles miniflered Und:ion to infirm people be-
fore they were Priefls, (the Prieflly order, according
to their dodrine, being collated in the inflitution of
the lafl Supper) for fear that it fhould be thought
that this Undion might be adminiflered by him that


was no Prieft, they blotted out the word [injlituted^
and put in in its ftead [injinuated~\ this Sacrament,
and that it was publijlied by S. James. So it is in
their DoBrine : and yet in their anathematifms they
curfe all them that fhall deny it to have been [/«/?/-
tuted] by Chriji. I fhall lay no more prejudice
againft it, or the weak arts of them that maintain
it, but add this only, that there being but two places
of Scripture pretended for this ceremony, fome chief
men of their own fide have proclaimed thofe two
invalid as to the inftitution of it : for Suarez fays
that the Un^lion ufed by the Apoftles in S. Mark
6. 13. is not the fame with what is ufed in the
Church of Rome ; and that it cannot be plainly ga-
thered from the Epiftle of Saint JameSy Cajetan af-
firms, and that it did belong to the miraculous gift
of healing, not to a Sacrament. The fick man's
exercife of grace formerly acquired, his perfediing
repentance begun in the days of health, the prayers
and counfels of the holy man that minifiers, the
giving the holy Sacrament, the miniftry and afiift-
ance of Angels, and the mercies of God, the peace
of confcience, and the peace of the Church, are all
the affiftances and preparatives that can help to drefs
his lamp. But if a man fhall go to buy oil when
the Bridegroom comes, if his lamp be not firfi: fur-
nifhed and then trimmed, that in this life, this upon
his death-bed, his flation fhall be without-doors, his


portion with unbelievers, and the Undtion of the
dying man fhall no more ftrengthen his Soul than it
cures his body, and the prayers for him after his
death fhall be of the fame force as if they fhould
pray that he fhould return to life again the next
day, and live as long as Lazarus in his return. But
I confider, that it is not well that men fhould pre-
tend anything will do a man good when he dies ;
and yet the fame miniftries and ten times more af-
fiftances are found for forty or fifty years together to
be ineffedlual. Can extreme Und:ion at lafl cure
what the holy Sacrament of the Eucharift all his
life-time could not do ? Can prayers for a dead
man do him more good than when he was alive ?
\i all his days the man belonged to death and the do-
minion of fin, and from thence could not be reco-
vered by Sermons, and counfels, and perpetual pre-
cepts, and frequent Sacraments, by confeffions and
abfolutions, by prayers and advocations, by external
miniftries and internal ad:s, it is but too certain that
his lamp cannot then be furnifhed : his extreme
Undion is only then of ufe when it is made by the
oil that burned in his lamp in all the days of his ex-
ped:ation and waiting for the coming of the Bride-

Neither can any fupply be made in this cafe by
their prad:ice of praying for the dead : though they
pretend for this the fairefl: precedents of the Church

and of the whole world. The Heathens they fay
did it, and the Jews did it, and the Chriftians did it:
fome were baptized for the dead in the days of the
Apoflles, and very many were communicated for the
dead for fo many ages after. 'Tis true, they were fo,
and did fo : the Heathens Sprayed xertui. de Monog. s.
for an eafy grave, and a perpetual Athan""q!^3 3.' s!'cyrn.'

/. . . n rr ii 'r r Hieref.

Jpring, that bajfron would rije irom 75. Aug. de H^ref. ca.53.

^rU T Concil. Caith. 3.C.29.

their beds or grals. Ihe ews ..^..

o J *JJii, majorumunibris te-

prayed that the Souls of their dead 3^;^ ''"^ p""'*^^^

•_i, 1 • .1 1 r T7J Spirantefquecrocos, et in

might be in the garden of Eden, uma perpetuum Ver.

11 -11 1 • • Jwven. Sat. 7.

that they might have their part in
Paradife, and in the world to come ; and that they
might hear the peace of the fathers of their ge-
neration, fleeping in Hebron. And the Chriftians
prayed for 2i joyful refurreBion, for mercy at the day
of judgment, for hafiening of the coining of Chrijl, and
the kingdom of God ; and they named all forts of per-
fons in their prayers, all I mean but wicked perfons,
all but them that lived evil lives ; they named Apo-
ftles. Saints and Martyrs. And all this is fo nothing
to their purpofe, or fo much againft it, that the
prayers for the dead ufed in the Church of Rome are
moft plainly condemned, becaufe they are againft
the dodlrine and practices of all the world, in other
forms, to other purpofes, relying upon diftind: doc-
trines, until new opinions began to arife about S.
Augufiine's time, and changed the face of the pro-


pofition. Concerning prayers of the Dead, the Church
hath received no commandment from the Lord : and
therefore concerning it we can have no rules nor pro-
portions, but from thofe imperfecft revelations of the
flate of departed Souls, and the meafures of Charity,
which can relate only to the imperfed:ion of their
prefent condition, and the terrors of the day of Judg-
ment : but to think that any Suppletory to an evil
life can be taken from fuch devotions after the fin-
ners are dead, may encourage a bad man to fin, but
cannot relieve him when he hath.

But of all things in the world methinks men fhould
be mofl careful not to abufe Dying people ; not
only becaufe their condition is pitiable, but becaufe
they fhall foon be difcovered, and in the fecret re-
gions of Souls there fhall be an evil report concern-
ing thofe men who have deceived them : and if we
believe we fhall go to that place where fuch reports
are made, we may fear the fhame and the amaze-
ment of being accounted impoflors in the prefence
of Angels, and all the wife holy men of the world.
To be erring and innocent is hugely pitiable, and
incident to mortality ; that we cannot help : but to
deceive or to deflroy fo great an intereft as is that of
a Soul, or to leflen its advantages, by giving it tri-
fling and falfe confidences, is injurious and intoler-
able. And therefore it were very well if all the
Churches of the world would be extremely curious


concerning their offices and miniftries of the Vijita-
tton of the Jick : that their Minifters they fend be
holy and prudent ; that their inftrudlions be fevere
and fafe ; that their fentences be merciful and rea-
fonable ; that their offices be fufficient and devout,
that their attendances be frequent and long ; that
their deputations be fpecial and peculiar ; that the
dod:rines upon which they ground their offices be
true, material and holy ; that their ceremonies be
few, and their advices wary ; that their feparation be
full of caution, their judgments not remifs, their re-
miffions not loofe and diffolute ; and that all the
whole miniftration be made by perfons of experience
and charity. For it is a fad thing to fee our dead
go out of our heads : they live incurioufly and die
without regard ; and the lafl: fcene of their life,
which fhould be drelTed with all fpiritual advan-
tages, is abufed by flattery and eafy propofitions, and
let go with careleffiiefs and folly.

My Lord, I have endeavoured to cure fome part
of the evil as well as I could, being willing to re-
lieve the needs of indigent people in fuch ways as I
can; and therefore have defcribed the Duties which
every fick man may do alone, and fuch in which he
can be affifted by the Minifter : and am the more
confident that thefe my endeavours will be the bet-
ter entertained, becaufe they are the firfl: entire Body
of diredions for fick and Dying people that I re-


member to have been publiflied in the Church of
England. In the Church of Ro?7ie there have been
many ; but they are drefTed with fuch doctrines
which are sometimes ufelefs, fometimes hurtful, and
their whole defign of afliflance which they com-
monly yield is at the beft imperfed:, and the repre-
fentment is too carelefs and loofe for fo fevere an
employment. So that in this affair I was almoft
forced to walk alone ; only that I drew the rules
and advices from the fountains of Scripture, and the
pureft channels of the Primitive Church, and was
helped by fome experience in the cure of Souls.
I fhall meafure the fuccefs of my labours, not by
popular noifes or the fentences of curious perfons,
but by the advantage which good people may re-
ceive. My work here is not to pleafe the fpecula-
tive part of men, but to minifter to pradiice, to
preach to the weary, to comfort the fick, to affiil:
the penitent, to reprove the confident, to ftrengthen
weak hands and feeble knees, having fcarce any other
pofhbilities left me of doing Alms, or exercifing that
Charity by which we fhall be judged at Doomfday.
It is enough for me to be an underbuilder in the
houfe of God, and I glory in the employment, I
labour in the foundations ; and therefore the work
needs no Apology for being plain, fo it be flrong and
well laid. But (My Lord) as mean as it is, I muft
give God thanks for the defires and the ftrength ;


and, next to him, to you, for that opportunity and
little portion of leifure which I had to do it in : for
I mufl acknowledge it publicly, (and befides my
prayers, it is all the recompenfe I can make you)
my being quiet I owe to your Interefl, much of my
fupport to your bounty, and many other collateral
comforts I derive from your favour and noblenefs.
My Lord, becaufe I much honour you, and becaufe
I would do honour to myfelf, I have written your
name in the entrance of my Book : I am fure you
will entertain it, becaufe the defign related to your
dear Lady, and becaufe it may minifter to your
fpirit in the day of vifitation, when God fhall call
for you to receive your reward for your charity and
your noble piety, by which you have not only en-
deared very many perfons, but in great degrees have
obliged me to be,

My Nobleft Lord,
Tour Lordjloifs moji thankful

and moJi humble Servant,


H, D.



A General Preparation towards a holy and blejfed Death ;
by way of Confideration.

Sect. I. Confideration of the Vanity and Shortnefs of Man's

Online LibraryJeremy TaylorThe rule and exercises of holy dying → online text (page 1 of 24)