.

The Historical Development of the PCA Book of Church Order

Chapter 60 : The Visitation of the Sick

Paragraph 1 :

60-1. The power of the prayer of faith is great, and Christians therefore should make entreaty for the sick at the throne of heavenly grace, and should also seek God's blessing upon all proper means which are being employed for their recovery. Moreover, when persons are sick, their minister, or some officer of the church, should be notified, that the minister, officers and members may unite their prayers in behalf of the sick. It is the privilege and duty of the pastor to visit the sick and to minister to their physical, mental, and spiritual welfare. In view of the varying circumstances of the sick, the minister should use discretion in the performance of this duty.

[DIGEST: The current PCA text has remained unchanged from that of PCUS 1933.]

ANTECEDENT TEXTS:
PCA 1973, Adopted text, 14-1 [M1GA, Appendix, p. ]
Continuing Presbyterian Church 1973, Proposed text, XIV-1
AND
PCUS 1933, XIV [§370]
The power of the prayer of faith is great, and Christians therefore should make entreaty for the sick at the throne of heavenly grace, and should also seek God's blessing upon all proper means which are being employed for their recovery. Moreover, when persons are sick, their minister, or some officer of the church, should be notified, that the minister, officers and members may unite their prayers in behalf of the sick. It is the privilege and duty of the pastor to visit the sick and to minister to their physical, mental, and spiritual welfare. In view of the varying circumstances of the sick, the minister should use discretion in the performance of this duty.

PCUS 1925, XIII [§363] -
[identical to PCUS 1894 except for the capitalization of "Minister" and "Elder"]
The miraculous gifts of healing which the Spirit gave to many in the apostles' days are no longer bestowed upon the church; but now, as of old, we are to ask the blessing of God upon all proper means which are employed for the relief of the sick, remembering that the power of the prayer of faith is as great as ever. Hence, when persons are sick, it is their duty, before their strength and understanding fail them, to send for their Minister, or some Elder of the church, and to make known to him, with prudence, their spiritual state; or to consult him on the concerns of their immortal souls. And it is his duty to visit them and to apply himself, with all tenderness and love, to minister to their spiritual good. But, in view of the varying circumstances of the sick, the ordering of the whole service must be left to the discretion of the person who performs it.

PCUS 1894, XIII.

The miraculous gifts of healing which the Spirit gave to many in the apostles' days are no longer bestowed upon the church; but now, as of old, we are to ask the blessing of God upon all proper means which are employed for the relief of the sick, remembering that the power of the prayer of faith is as great as ever. Hence, when persons are sick, it is their duty, before their strength and understanding fail them, to send for their minister, or some elder of the church, and to make known to him, with prudence, their spiritual state; or to consult him on the concerns of their immortal souls. And it is his duty to visit them and to apply himself, with all tenderness and love, to minister to their spiritual good. But, in view of the varying circumstances of the sick, the ordering of the whole service must be left to the discretion of the person who performs it.


PCUS 1885, Third Revision, Chapter VI
I. The Lord Jesus, who when on earth dispensed healing to the diseased bodies of men, and who from the Judgment throne will say, “ I was sick and ye visited me,” has laid upon all his people the obligation to minister to such as are afflicted with bodily maladies. Yet this office he has made eminently incumbent upon ministers of the word and ruling elders.
Hence, it is a duty, before the strength and understanding of sick persons fail them, that they or their friends should send for the minister or some other elder of the Church, and make known to him, with prudence, the spiritual state of the sick, in order that the instructions and consolations of the gospel may be judiciously and tenderly administered to their immortal souls.
II. It is proper, when the condition of the sick person will allow of it, that a suitable portion of Scripture be read, and that prayer be offered with and for him.
The ministrations should be carefully adapted to his spiritual state. If he be ignorant or careless or hardened, let the instructions and warnings of the divine word be applied to the end that, being convinced of his guilt, danger, and need of salvation, he may, by the blessing of God, be led to believe in Christ and repent of his sins.
If he be troubled by doubts, temptations, or fears, let such instructions be afforded as are suited to remove his difficulties.
If he appear to be a child of God, mourning under the hidings of his face, misapprehending the purpose of his fatherly chastisement, or laboring under bondage to the fear of death, let him be directed to the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel, the freeness and unchangeableness of God’s love, and the compassionate sympathy of a merciful and faithful High Priest.
And even if he seem to have passed beyond the reach of all human communications, still let the invitations and promises of the gospel be uttered in his dying ear.
In fine, let instruction, warning, or consolation be administered as the case of each sick person may require; and these occasions may be profitably used for the speaking of a word in season to attending relatives and friends.

PCUSA 1789, XII - Of the Visitation of the Sick

I. When persons are sick, it is their duty, before their strength and understanding fail them, to send for their minister, and to make known to him, with prudence, their spiritual state ; or to consult him on the concerns of their precious souls : And it is his duty to visit them, at their request, and to apply himself, with all tenderness and love, to administer spiritual good to their immortal souls.
II. He shall instruct the sick out of the Scriptures, that diseases arise not out of the ground, nor do they come by chance, but that they are directed and sent by a wise and holy God, either for correction of sin, for the trial of grace, for improvement in religion, or for other important ends : and that they shall work together for good to all those who make a wise improvement of God's visitation, neither despising his chastening hand, nor fainting under his rebukes.
III. If the minister finds the sick person to be grossly ignorant, he shall instruct him in the nature of repentance and faith, and the way of acceptance with God, through the mediation and atonement of Jesus Christ.
IV. He shall exhort the sick to examine himself; to search his heart, and try his former ways, by the word of God; and shall assist him, by mentioning some of the obvious marks and evidences of sincere piety.
V. If the sick shall signify any scruple, doubt or temptation, under which he labours, the minister must endeavour to resolve his doubts, and administer instruction and direction, as the case may seem to require.
VI. If the sick appears to be a stupid, thoughtless and hardened sinner, he shall endeavour to awaken his mind; to arouse his conscience; to convince him of the evil and danger of sin; of the curse of the law, and the wrath of God due to sinners; to bring him to a humble and penitential sense of his iniquities; and to state before him the fullness of the grace and mercy of God, in and through the glorious Redeemer; the absolute necessity of faith and repentance, in order to his being interested in the favour of God, or his obtaining everlasting happiness.
VII. If the sick person shall appear to have knowledge, to be of a tender conscience, and to have been endeavouring to serve God in uprightness, though not without many failings and sinful infirmities; or if his spirit be broken with a sense of sin, or through apprehensions or the want of the divine favour; then it will be proper to administer consolation and encouragement to him, by setting before him the freeness and riches of the grace of God, the all-sufficiency of the righteousness of Christ, and the supporting promises of the gospel.
VIII. The minister must endeavour to guard the sick person against ill-grounded persuasions of the mercy of God, without a vital union with Christ; and against unreasonable fears of death and desponding discouragements; against presumption upon his own goodness and merit, upon the one hand, and against despair of the mercy and grace of God in Christ Jesus, on the other.
IX. In one word, it is the minister's duty to administer to the sick person instruction, conviction, support, consolation or encouragement, as his case may seem to require.
X. Lastly, the minister may improve the present occasion to exhort those about the sick, to consider their mortality; to turn to the Lord and make their peace with him; in health to prepare for sickness, death and judgment.

OTHER COMPARISONS:
RPCES, XV, Of Visitation
1. It is the duty of the minister with the elders not only to teach the people committed to their charge in public, but also privately; and particularly to admonish, exhort, reprove and comfort them, upon all seasonable occasions, so far as their time and strength will permit. Times of sickness and affliction are special opportunities put into their hands by God to minister a word in season to needy souls.
2. Especially, when the people of the church are critically sick, it is their duty, before their strength and understanding fail them, to send for their minister, and with prudence make known to him their spiritual state, or to consult him on the concerns of their precious souls. And it is his duty to visit them, at their request, and to apply himself, with all tenderness and love, to administer spiritual good to their souls. He shall pray for the sick, instructing them out of the Scriptures, administering to them consolation, conviction, support, or encouragement, as each case may seem to require.
3. In addition to visitation of the sick, it is the responsibility of the minister, and the elders of the church, to visit the congregation and others and minister spiritually to them through reading of the Scriptures, prayer, and spiritual counseling.

UPCNA 1912-1951, XXI
[§399-402]
399. Duty.--Attention to the sick is an important part of pastoral service, and should be faithfully discharged by Ministers and Elders.
400. Manner.--All the tender and delicate proprieties of the sick room should be discretely observed, and the conversation and devotional services of the occasion should be so conducted as to instruct, comfort, and inspire faith and hope in Jesus Christ, and resignation to God's will.
401. Private Conversation.--As the presence of friends and strangers may prevent a full statement of feelings and views, conversations with the sick should, when practicable, be in private.
402. Information.--When sickness occurs of such a nature as to call for the services of a Minister or an Elder, information thereof should be immediately given by the family or friends of the sick.



©PCA Historical Center, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO, 2007. All Rights Reserved.

Chapter Index [links to Par. 1 of each chapter]:
FoG..
1
2
3.
4
5.
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
I. King & Head of Church
.§1.
§4
§5
RoD
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
II. Preliminary Principles
§1
§2
§3
§4
§5
§6
§7
§8
DfW
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
[FoG = Form of Government ; RoD = Rules of Discipline ; DfW = Directory for Worship]