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S E R M ON
1 Per. v. 12.
-Exhorting and testifying that this is the true
Grace of God wherein ye stand.
FTER fixing the Rule of Christian Faith and Practice, I proceeded to compare
with this Rule the chief Things which distinguish the Church of Rome from ours. Great Numbers of these I have already considered, and shall now, for your fuller Satisfaction, go on to some others.
Several of their Notions concerning the Pardon of Sin I have mentioned and confuted; but there still remains one more to be spoker of: their Custom, when a sick Person is near Death, of anointing his Eyes, and Ears, and Nostrils, and Mouth, and Hands, sometimes also his Feet, and Reins, with Oil consecrated by the
Bishop, and praying, that in Virtue of that anointing, the Sins which he hath committed, by the several Organs of his Body, may be forgiven him. This they call extreme Unetion, or the Sacrament of dying Persons; and teach, that, besides Forgiveness of Sins, it gives Composure and Strength of Mind to go through the Agonies of Death. All this they build wholly on the following Passage of St. James. Is any fick among you ? Let him call for the Elders of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with Oil in the Name of the Lord. And the Prayer of Faith mall save the fick, and the Lord frall raise him up; and if be have committed Sins, they shall be forgiven him. But a little Confideration will show that what St. James appoints is very different from what the Church of Rome does. In those Days miracu. lous Gifts were common; that of heaiing Difeases in particular : and the Persons who had these Gifts were usually the Elders of the Churches, whom the Apostle here directs to be sent for. And as Miracles, in Condescenfion to the Genius of the Jewish People, to whoin thiş Epistle is directed, were accompanied, for the most Part, with some outward A&
? James v. 14, ':
of Ceremony, by the Performer of them; (a Practice which our Saviour himself often complied with ;) so the Ceremony used in healing the sick by Miracle, viz. anointing them with Oil, was one to which the Jews had been accustomed; Oil being a Thing of which much Use was made in the Eastern Countries, on many Occasions b. Accordingly we read, that, when our Saviour sent out his Disciples with a Power from Heaven to cure. Diseases, though he prescribed to them no particular Form for that Purpose, yet they adopted this; they anointed with Oil many that were sick, and healed them. Now what the Evangelist tells us they did, is evidently the very Thing which St. James directs the Elders of the Church to do. And therefore, since the anointing mentioned in the Gospel was only a mere Circumstance used in miraculous Cures; that also mentioned in the Epistles can be nothing more. Accordingly we find St. James neither appoints any Consecration
See Wheatley on the Office for the Sick. And Grotius on Mark vi. 13. says the Jew's used it when they prayed for the Sick, to express their Hope of obtaining from God in their Behalf that Joy and Gladness which Oil signifies. Preservative against Popery, Tit. vii. c. ii. iv. p. 62.
c Mark vi. 13. The Council of Trent had at first said, that extreme Unction was instituted in this Place, but afterwards changed that Word for infinuated. F. Paul in Preferv. p. 61.
of the Oil, nor ascribes any Efficacy to it, as the Papists do: but says, the Prayer of Faith shall save the Sick. Now if this means only Prayer offered
in a general Faith of God's Providence, we use it for the Sick as well as they, and may hope for the same good Effect from it. But Faith, in many Places of Scripture, signifies that supernatural Persuasion and Feeling of a Power to work Miracles, which in those Days was frequent. Thus St. Paul says, though I bad all Faith, so that I could remove Mountains , &c. And therefore the Prayer of Faith, since it is so absolutely promised here that it fall save the Sick, probably means, a Prayer proceeding from this extraordinary Persuasion and Impulse : such a one as, in the next Verse, we translate an effettual fervent Prayer, but should translate an inwrought or inspired Prayer. And therefore unless, in the Church of Rome, the Priest, as often as he administers extreme Unction, acts and prays by immediate Inspiration, his Prayers are not of the Sort St. James speaks of; nor are they directed to the fame End. The Benefit, which he promises from the Prayers that he appoints, is the Recovery of Health : The Prayer of Faith Niall di Cor. xiii. 2. See also Matt. xvii. 20. John xiv. 12, 13.
fave the Sick, and the Lord skall raise him up: whereas they of the Church of Rome never use this Ceremony with any Hope of Recovery, nor indeed, unless they happen to mistake, till the Person is quite past Recovery. And, for this Reason again, His anointing and theirs are quite different Things. For though St. James does add; And, if he have committed Sins, they shall be forgiven bim; yet the very Doubt,'implied in the Word if, shews, he is not speaking of a Sacrament instituted purposely for the Remission of Sins, as the Church of Rome make their Unction to be. And indeed this relates to the very fame Thing with his former Words. For, as bodily Sickness and Infirmity was frequently a Punishment for Sin ; (whence, to mention no other Proofs, St. Paul tells the Corinthians, For this Cause many are weak and
fickly among you, and many sleep;) so, the very Form of miraculously healing a Person of these Infirmities, used by our Saviour is, Son, thy Sins be forgiven theef : that is, the Illness inflicted on thee for thy Sins is removed. Since therefore St. James promises Forgiveness of Sins in just a like Case, we are certainly to understand him in just the like Sense; viz. that, if the Sickness of any Person prayed for were ci Cor. xi. 30.
See also John v. 14.
f Matt. ix. 2.