On Sickness

“‘Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.’  When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is…  for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.'”

Jn. 11:3-4

“The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.”

Ps. 41:3

“But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting…  I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother: I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.”

Ps. 35:13-14

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Order of Contents

Articles
Books
Prayers
After Being Sick
On Visiting the Sick, Especially Pastors
Historical
On Spiritual Sickness

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Articles

1500’s

Smith, Henry – ‘A Letter Written to one’s Friend in his Sickness’  in Three Prayers one for the Morning, another for the Evening: the Third for a Sick-man. Whereunto is annexed, a godly letter to a sick friend: and a comfortable speech of a preacher upon his death bed  (London, 1591)

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1600’s

Playfere, Thomas – The Sick-Man’s Couch: A Sermon preached…  1604  (Cambridge, 1605)  on Ps. 6:6, “I water my couch with my tears.”

Playfere (c.1562-1609) was a reformed, professor of divinity at Cambridge.

Burroughs, Jeremiah – ‘The Second Sermon’  (1645)  in The Difference Between the Spots of the Godly and of the Wicked  (London, 1668)  on Dt. 32:5

Baxter, Richard – ‘Short Instructions for the Sick: Especially who by contagion, or otherwise, are deprived of the presence of a faithful pastor’  (London: 1665)

Taylor, Jeremy – Ch. 3, ‘Of the Temptations Incident to the State of Sickness, with their Proper Remedies’ & Ch. 4, ‘Of the Practice of the Graces Proper to the State of Sickness, which a Sick Man May Practice Alone’  in The Rules and Exercises of Holy Dying: together with prayers and acts of virtue to be used by sick and dying persons, or by others standing in their attendance; to which are added rules for the visitation of the sick, and offices proper for that ministry  new ed.  (Oxford: 1857), pp. 73-229

Taylor (1613-1667) was a cleric in the Church of England who achieved fame as an author during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell.  He is sometimes known as the “Shakespeare of Divines” for his poetic style of expression, and he is frequently cited as one of the greatest prose writers in the English language.

Tillotson, John – ‘Dr. Tillotson’s Letter to Mr. Nicholas Hunt of Canterbury, who had a Cancer, of which he died, 1687’  appended to Josiah Woodward et al., Fair Warnings to a Careless World…  (London, 1712), pp. 204-10

Tillotson (1630-1694) was an Arminian, latitudinarian Anglican.

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1700’s

Howe, John – ‘Satan’s Malice in Afflicting, and Christ’s Compassion in Curing, Diseases: a Funeral Sermon for Mrs. Esther Sampson [wife of Dr. Henry Sampson]’  in Works, vol. 3 (of 3), pp. 290-314

Wadsworth, Benjamin – ‘Christian Advice to the Sick and Well.  In Answer to these Questions:  I. What should Christians do, when under bodily sickness?  II. How should Christians in health, improve the sickness of others; and how should they carry it towards the sick?  III. How should Christians behave themselves, when recovered from sickness?  And, None but the righteous saved: a Sermon on 1 Cor. 6:9’  Ref  (Boston, 1714)

Boston, Thomas – ‘The Right Improvement of a Time of Sickness and Mortality’, 2 Sermons  in Works, vol. 2

Mather, Cotton – Wholesome Words. A Visit of Advice, given unto Families that are visited with Sickness; by a pastoral letter, briefly declaring the duties incumbent on all persons in the families, that have any sick persons in them  (Boston, 1713)

Pearsall, Richard – Letters 10 & 11, ‘On Sickness’  in Contemplations on the ocean, harvest, sickness, and the last judgment  2nd ed.  (London, 1755), p. 180 ff.

Pearsall (1698–1762) was an English Congregationalist minister and friend of Philip Doddridge.

Hooker, Nathaniel – ‘The Invalid Instructed: Or, God’s Design in Sending Sickness upon Men, and their Duty under it, Being a course of Thoughts, suggested in a declining, dangerous state, and delivered by way of sermon’  Ref  (Hartford, 1769)

Davies, Samuel – ‘A Time of Unusual Sickness and Mortality Improved’  on Jer. 5:3

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1800’s

Jay, William – ‘The Paralytic, or Sickness Improved’  on Mt. 9:1-7  in Standard Works of William Jay, vol. 2, p. 230

Spurgeon, Charles – ‘For the Sick and Afflicted’  a sermon on Job. 34:31-32

Ryle, J.C. – ‘Sickness’  on Jn. 11:3  in Practical Religion, pp. 233-48

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2000’s

Vogan, Matthew – ‘What if the Coronavirus Comes to your Home?’  2020  15 paragraphs  This article adapts material from Jeremiah Burroughs.

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Books

1600’s

Perkins, William – A Salve for a Sick Man, or a Treatise Containing the Nature, Differences and Kinds of Death, as Also the Right Manner of Dying Well  on Eccl. 7:3  in Works, vol. 1 (of 3)

Draxe, Thomas – The Sick Man’s Catechism, or Pathway to Felicity, wherein is contained great variety of sound directions and most sweet consolations collected and contrived into questions and answers  (London, 1609)

Draxe (-1618) was an English, reformed puritan.

Bruce, Robert – Sermons 6-11  of The Way to True Peace and Rest: Delivered at Edinburgh in 16 sermons: on the Lord’s Supper, Hezechiah’s sickness: and other select Scriptures  (London: 1617)

Reading, John – A Fair Warning. Declaring the Comfortable use Both of Sickness and Health. Delivered in Several Sermons (London, 1621)

Reading (c.1587-1667) was a reformed Anglican.

Donne, John – Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, and Several Steps in My Sickness: Digested Into I. Meditations Upon Our Human Condition. 2. Expostulations, and Debatements with God. 3. Prayers, Upon the Several Occasions, to Him  (London: 1624)

Donne (1572-1631) was a famous poet and English cleric in the Church of England.  PRDL lists him as reformed.  This work is composed of 23 devotions.  Each one is followed by a section of ‘Expostulations’ and then a prayer.

Norden, John – A Pathway to Patience in all manner of Crosses, Trials, Troubles, and Afflictions: Inwardly for Sin, or Outwardly by Sickness, Poverty, Enemies, imprisonment, banishment, slanders, disobedience of children, household-crosses between man and wife, etc.  With necessary prayers for every of them; as also for diverse other necessary purposes  (London: 1626)

Norden (c. 1547 – 1625) was an Anglican and a cartographer, chorographer and antiquary.  He was also a prolific writer of devotional works.

Lawrence, Edward – Christ’s Power over Bodily Diseases Preached in Several Sermons on Mt. 8:5-13, And published for the instruction especially of the more ignorant people in the great duty of preparation for sickness and death  2nd ed.  (London, 1672)

Rogers, Timothy – Practical Discourses on Sickness & Recovery in several Sermons, as they were lately preached in a congregation in London…  after his recovery from a sickness of near two years continuance  (London, 1691)

Rogers (1658–1728) was an English, presbyterian, non-conformist minister,  known as an author on depression, as a sufferer.

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1700’s

Assheton, William – A Method of Devotion for Sick and Dying Persons: With Particular Directions, from the Beginning of Sickness to the Hour of Death  (London, 1706)

Assheton (1641–1711) was an Anglican cleric, a prolific writer and life insurance pioneer.  Assheton’s scheme for providing annuities for the ‘widows of the clergy and others’ was the earliest attempt in England on a large scale in the direction of modern life insurance.

Mather, Cotton – The Angel of Bethesda: An Essay upon the Common Maladies of Mankind  Buy  (1724; rep. American Antiquarian Society, 1972)  384 pp.

Stanhope, George – Meditations and Prayers for Sick Persons  new ed. (London, 1783)

Stanhope (1660-1728) was an Anglican clergyman, rising to be Dean of Canterbury and a Royal Chaplain.  He was a leading figure in church politics of the early 18th century.

Spinckes, Nathaniel – The Sick Man Visited: and Furnished with Instructions, Meditations, and Prayers, for putting him in mind of his change; for supporting him under his distemper; and for preparing him for, and carrying him through his last conflict with death  (London, 1775)

Spinckes (1653-1727) was an Anglican, linguist and a leading, non-juror divine.

Willison, John – The Afflicted Man’s Companion; or, A Directory for Persons and Families afflicted with Sickness or any other Distress  (New York: American Tract Society, 1851)  345 pp.

Willison (1680-1750) was an evangelical and reformed Church of Scotland minister.

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1800’s

Winchester, Samuel G.

A Companion for the Sick, altered from [John] Willison’s ‘Afflicted Man’s Companion’, with additions: and a Selection of Appropriate Poetry  (Philadelphia: 1833)

Winchester (1805-1841) was a presbyterian minister in Philadelphia who had attended Old Princeton.

Christian Counsel to the Sick…  (Philadelphia, 1833)  This copy at GB has Samuel Miller’s autograph on it.

Power, P.B. – The Sick Man’s Comfort Book  (1876)  125 pp.  This has been reprinted by the Banner of Truth.

“A short but powerful little book that does exactly what it claims—it offers comfort to those who are sick and suffering… I…  relished every page.” – Tim Challies

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Prayers with Regard to the Sick

Smith, Henry – ‘A Prayer for a Sick-Man’  in Three Prayers one for the Morning, another for the Evening: the Third for a Sick-man. Whereunto is annexed, a godly letter to a sick friend: and a comfortable speech of a preacher upon his death bed  (London, 1591)

Draxe, Thomas

The Sick-Man’s Catechism, or pathway to Felicity…  (London, 1618)

‘A Prayer to be Used of a Sick-man’
‘A Thanksgiving to be Used of a Sick-man if he Recover’

Draxe (-1618) was an English, reformed puritan.

Bolton, Robert – ‘In Visitation of the Sick’  in Certain Devout Prayers of Mr. Bolton upon Solemn Occasions  (London, 1638), p. 170 ff.  For praying with the sick.

Stanhope, George – Meditations and Prayers for Sick Persons  new ed. (London, 1783)

Stanhope (1660-1728) was an Anglican clergyman, rising to be Dean of Canterbury and a Royal Chaplain.  He was a leading figure in church politics of the early 18th century.

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After Being Sick

1500’s

Calvin, John – Sermons of John Calvin, upon the song that Hezekiah made after he had been sick and afflicted by the hand of God, contained in the 38th chapter of Isaiah  (London, 1560)

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1600’s

Owen, John – Practical Exposition on Ps. 130  (1669)  566 pp.

“Mr [Richard] Davis, being under religious impressions, had sought a conference with Owen.  In the course of the conversation, Dr Owen put the question, “Young man, pray in what manner do you think to go to God?” “Through the Mediator, sir,” answered Mr Davis. “That is easily said,” replied the Doctor, “but I assure you it is another thing to go to God through the Mediator than many who make use of the expression are aware of.  I myself preached Christ,” he continued,

“some years, when I had but very little, if any, experimental acquaintance with access to God through Christ; until the Lord was pleased to visit me with sore affliction, whereby I was brought to the mouth of the grave, and under which my soul was oppressed with horror and darkness; but God graciously relieved my spirit by a powerful application of Psalm 130:4, ‘But there is forgiveness with thee, that Thou mayest be feared;’ from whence I received special instruction, peace, and comfort, in drawing near to God through the Mediator, and preached thereupon immediately after my recovery.”

The incident to which he refers had occurred at an early period in his public life; and it is probable this Exposition is the substance of the discourses which he preached on his recovery from affliction, under the influence of enlivened faith in the mediation of Christ…  The exposition of it [v. 4] constitutes nearly three-fourths of the whole treatise…  It is hardly a specimen of pure commentary, so much as a series of discourses…” – Editor

“One of the best known and most esteemed of John Owen’s works.  It is unnecessary to say that he is the prince of divines.  to master his works is to be a profound theologian.  Owen is said to be prolix, but it would be truer to say that he is condensed.  His style is heavy because he gives notes of what he might have said, and passes on without fully developing the great thoughts of his capacious mind.  He requires hard study, and none of us ought to grudge it.” – Spurgeon

Allen, James – Serious Advice to delivered ones from sickness or any other dangers threatening death, how they ought to carry it that their mercies may be continued, and other misery prevented, or, The healed ones prophulacticon, or healthful diet, delivered in several sermons on John 5:14  (Boston, 1679)

Allen (1632-1710) appears to have been a faithful, New England minister.  Here are about 15 or so other works of his.

Sibbes, Richard – ‘A Rescue from Death, with a Return of Praise’  Works, 6.133-57  on Ps. 107:17 ff.

Mather, Cotton – Mens Sana in Corpore Sano.  A Discourse upon Recovery from Sickness. Directing how Natural Health, may be improved into spiritual: especially by them that have lately recovered it’  (Boston, 1698)

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1700’s

Wadsworth, Benjamin – ‘Christian Advice to the Sick and Well.  In Answer to these Questions:  I. What should Christians do, when under bodily sickness?  II. How should Christians in health, improve the sickness of others; and how should they carry it towards the sick?  III. How should Christians behave themselves, when recovered from sickness?  And, None but the Righteous Saved: a Sermon on 1 Cor. 6:9’  Ref  (Boston, 1714)

Newton, John – Letter 36, ‘To a Gay [Merry] Friend, on his Recovery from Illness’  Works  (London, 1808), vol. 1 (of 6), pp. 353-7

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On Visiting the Sick, especially Pastors

1500’s

Calvin, John – ‘Visitation of the Sick’  in Calvin’s Tracts: Containing Treatises on the Sacraments…  vol. 2, trans. Beveridge (Edinburgh, 1849), pp. 127-8

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1600’s

Taylor, Jeremy – Ch. 5, ‘Of Visitation of the Sick’  in The Rules and Exercises of Holy Dying: together with prayers and acts of virtue to be used by sick and dying persons, or by others standing in their attendance; to which are added rules for the visitation of the sick, and offices proper for that ministry  new ed.  (Oxford: 1857), pp. 73-229

Taylor (1613-1667) was a cleric in the Church of England who achieved fame as an author during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell.  He is sometimes known as the “Shakespeare of Divines” for his poetic style of expression, and he is frequently cited as one of the greatest prose writers in the English language. 

Swinnock, George – ‘A Good Wish about the Visitation of the Sick’  in Works, 3:24-37  (d. 1673)

This is a prayer that we, pastors specifically, may be more dutiful in visiting the sick, etc.

Poole, Matthew – ‘How Ministers or Christian Friends may and ought to apply themselves to Sick Persons, for their Good, and the Discharge of their Own Conscience’  in Puritan Sermons, vol. 1  on Job 23:23-24

Stearne, John – The Curate’s Manual, with reference to the sick and dying, from the Latin of John Stearne, vicar of Trim in the 17th Century, with Additions, Original and Selected by the Rev. Kirby Trimmer…  (1697; London, 1840)  ToC

Stearne (1660-1745) was an Anglican bishop.  His original work was Tractatus de Visitatione Infirmorum (Dublin, 1697; London, 1700, several editions).

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1800’s

Ely, Ezra Stiles – Visits of Mercy, being the Journal of the Stated Preacher to the Hospital and Alms House in the City of New York, 1811, vols. 1, 2  (New York, 1813)

Ely (1786-1861) was an American presbyterian minister during the Second Great Awakening.

Wells, John D. – The Pastor in the Sick-Room, Three Lectures delivered at Princeton Theological Seminary, March, 1892  (Philadelphia: Pres. Board of Publication, 1893)  130 pp.

Wells (1815-1903) was a graduate of Old Princeton in 1844 and learned “at the feet of Dr. Archibald Alexander, Dr. Samuel Miller, Dr. Charles Hodge and Dr. Joseph Addison Alexander, all of blessed memory.”

For more background, see Andrew Myers, ‘The Pastor in the Sick-Room by John D. Wells’.

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On Spiritual Sickness

Articles

1600’s

Boys, John – ‘Salve for a Sick Soul’  on 1 Tim. 1:15  in Works, pp. 979-988

Adams, Thomas – Works, vol. 1

‘The Sinner’s Passing Bell, or a Complaint from Heaven for Man’s Sins
Physic from Heaven’

‘England’s Sickness’

‘England’s Sickness (Continued)’

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1700’s

Davies, Samuel – ‘The Characters of the Healthy and Sick’  on Mt. 9:12

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1800’s

Brown, Charles – ‘The Sickness, The Physician’  on Mt. 9:10-12  in The Word of Life  (1874), p. 181 ff.

Philpot, J.C.

‘The Sick Man’s Prayer and the Sinner’s Cry’  on Jer. 17:14

Sin Sick Soul and the Great Physician  on Mt. 9:12

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Books

1500’s

Norden, John – A Sinful Man’s Solace, most sweet and comfortable, for the sick and sorrowful soul: contrived, into seven several days conference, between Christ and a careless sinner. Wherein, every man, from the highest, to the lowest: from the richest, to the poorest: and above all, the sorrowful sinner: may take such sweet repast of resolution, to amendment of life, and confirmation of faith: that (in respect of the heavenly solace, therein faithfully remembered) all the pomps and pleasures of this wicked world, shall be plainly perceived to be mere misery  (London: 1585)

Norden (c. 1547 – 1625) was an Anglican and a cartographer, chorographer and antiquary.  He was also a prolific writer of devotional works.

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1600’s

Perkins, William – Death’s Knell: or, The Sick Man’s Passing-Bell, summoning all sick consciences to prepare themselves for the coming of the great day of doom, lest mercy’s gate be shut against them…  (London, 1628)  London previously had a plague outbreak in 1625.

Edwards, John – The Plague of the Heart, its nature and quality, original and causes, signs and symptoms, prevention and cure: with directions for our behaviour under the present judgement and plague of the Almighty (Cambridge: 1665)  Published during the Great Bubonic Plague of London in 1665.

Edwards (1637-1716) was a reformed Anglican.

Venning, Ralph – Sin, the Plague of Plagues, or the Just Vindication of the Law of God, and no less just accusation and condemnation of the sin of man  (London, 1669)  This has also been entitled, The Sinfulness of Sin.  It was written 4 years after the great London plague of 1665.

Venning (1621-1674) was an English puritan and one of those ejected the Great Ejection of 1662.  He then continued his public ministry as co-pastor of an Independent congregation.  He was buried at Bunhill Fields with many other nonconformists.

“As to the sinfulness of sin, I have indeed handled it most fully, as it is against man’s good and happiness.” – Venning

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Historical

Primary Source

Coleman, Benjamin – Some Observations on the New Method of Receiving the Small-Pox by ingrafting or inoculating…  Containing also the reasons, which first induced him to, and have since confirmed him in, his favorable opinion of it  (Boston, 1721)

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Secondary Sources

Articles

Gevitz, Norman – ‘Practical Divinity and Medical Ethics: Lawful versus Unlawful Medicine in the Writings of William Perkins (1558–1602)’  Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 2013 Apr; 68(2): 198–226

Jeske, Jeffrey – ‘Cotton Mather: Physico-Theologian’  Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 47, No. 4 (Oct.-Dec., 1986), pp. 583-594

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Books

Beall, Otho T. & Richard H. Shryock – Cotton Mather: First Significant Figure in American Medicine  (American Antiquarian Society, 1954)

Watson, Patricia – The Angelical Conjunction: The Preacher-Physicians of Colonial New England  Buy  (Univ. of Tennessee, 1991)

Viets, Henry R. – A Brief History of Medicine in Massachusetts  (Boston, 1930)

Webster, Charles – The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine and Reform, 1626-1660  Buy  (Duckworth, 1975)

 

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