« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
of it you have in the printed relation hereunto prefixed. To reject all narratives of this kind as fictitious, argues, in my judgment, as great an error, weakness, and prejudice, as to be. lieve all that is reported of apparitions. This comes to us clothed with all the appearance and circumstances of truth, that may reasonably be expected in this case.
So that none but an unbelieving Sadducee, or a profane Atheist, will offer to question the reality. To confirm the possibility and truth of some apparitions, none can deny, that by this means our good God hath conveyed and confirmed to us several of the mysteries of our holy religion ; as, the conception, birth, incarnation, re. surrection, and glorious ascension, of our great Messiah, by the apparition of angels. And how often those heavenly spirits were formerly visible in human shapes for the advantage, information, and safeguard, of the pious, the word of God sufficiently declares. Now, as we live in such an incredulous age, that will not believe God and his divine oracles, though attested by the working of miracles, concerning the future state of the righteous and wicked, but requires a new testimony and evi. dence, as the return of souls from the dead, to witness the happiness of heaven, the torments of hell, and the immortality of the soul; who knows, but to render men more inexcusable, God may condescend that a departed soul, or its good angel in its stead, may appear to declare these infallible and undoubted truths to an unbelieving world? But we find by experience, as in this case, that this kind of evidence is far more liable to exceptions, to be contradicted and rejected, as uncertain and fabulous, and sooner than the sacred methods that our wise God hath taken to persuade men to the divine doctrines of our salvation : as Abraham declares in the parable of the rich glutton condemned to the flames of hell, if they will not believe Moses and the prophets ;' we may with more reason add, if they will not be lieve Christ and his apostles, and so many wonderful miracles attesting God's omnipotency and revelations from above, neither will they be persuaded though one rose
from the dead. I must here acquaint my reader, that whereas in the former impressions of this book some errata have escaped, whereby the author's sense and meaning may not be so clearly expressed as in the original; and whereas also, upon some subjects, our reverend author distates the reader by too frequent repetitions in his prayers, containing matters and arguments of the foregoing chapters; these and such trivial objections have caused several persons to find fault, not only with the translation, but even with the book itself. To remedy, therefore, any thing of this nature, and to prevent all complaints of this kind, and that so excellent and useful a Treatise may appear in our own proper and natural language, not differing in any thing material from the French copy; but suited, as much as conveniently it may be, to the nicer palates of our present age; I have in this edition taken the pains to compare this Translation with a book printed at Berlin, the court of the King of Prussia, 1698. I have been in this more exact, and have altered some words and phrases, expressing more plainly the author's meaning, and in terms more agreeable with our present familiar way of speaking. Besides, in this edition of Berlin, I have met with two or three passages which are not in the former French impressions, and which I judged not convenient to be omitted. Some of the prayers that seemed too prolix, I have abbreviated, comprehending only the principal matters. And that nothing may be wanted in this edition, that might more contribute to the reader's satisfaction, I have here rendered in English the last remarkable passages of this pious and excellent minister of Curist, never before printed in our own tongue, as we find them at the end of the forementioned book; that ye may here at once, as in a mirror, see the behaviour, religious speeches, faith, patience, and resignation to the will of God, of our reverend divine at his decease, reduced into practice, accord. ing to the excellent advices and consolations that he récom. mends to us, to arm ourselves against the apprehensions and approaches of death.
I have no more to add : But I beseech our merciful and heavenly Father to grant us all the grace, the like faith, and christian resolution, that we may not fear death, nor its consequerces, but may be always ready prepared and provided to embrace it with joy and submission to the pleasure of God, and the decrees of heaven, whenever our almighty Creator and Redeemer shall think fit to summon us, and to take us to himself.
THE NEXT DAY AFTER HER DEATH,
CANTERBURY, the Sth SEPT. 1705;
Which Apparition recommends the Perusal of Drelincourt's
Book of Consolations against the
Fears of Death.
A RELATION, &c.
THIS Relation is matter of fact, and attended with such
circumstances, as may induce any reasonable man to, believe it. It was sent by a gentleman, a justice of peace, at Maidstone in Kent, and a very intelligent person, to his friend in London, as it is here worded: Which discourse is attested by a very sober and understanding gentlewoman, a kinswoman of the said gentleman's, who lives in Canterbury, within a few doors of the house in which the withinnamed Mrs. Bargrave lived; who believes his kinswoman to be of so discerning a spirit, as not to be put upon by any fallacy; and who positively assured him, that the whole matter, as it is related and laid down, is really true; and what she herself had in the sanie words (as near as may be), from Mrs. Bargrave's own mouth, who, she knows, had no reason to invent and publish such a story, or any design to forge and tell a lie, being a woman of much honesty and virtue, and her whole life a course, as it were, of piery. The use which we ought to make of it, is to consider, That there is a life to come after this, and a just God, who will retribute to every one according to the deeds done in the body; and therefore to reflect upon our past course of life we have led in the world, that our time is short and uncertain ; and that if we would escape the punishment of the ungodly, and receive the reward of the righteous, which is the laying hold of eternal life, we ought, for the time to come, to return to God by a speedy repentance, ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well ; to seek after Gud early, if haply he may be found of us, and lead such lives for the future, as may be well-pleasing in his sight.