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is taken, signifies properly, to pronounce, to give sentence. And, therefore, the word pronounced, here used, must signify, that this is a sentence of Absolution or Remission of Sins, to be authoritatively uttered by one who has received commission from God.
The Reverend Author, in the “ Beauty of Holiness in the Common Prayer," Serm. II. observes, likewise, “ That all the three forms of Absolution, namely this now before us, and that in the Communion, and the other in the Visitation of the Sick, though differing in expression, are, by the best expositors of our Liturgy, judged to be of equal signification.” “ All these forms, (saith Bishop Sparrow) are but several expressions of the same thing; in sense and virtue are the same, and are effectual to the penitent by virtue of that commission mentioned, John xx. 23—Whose sins ye remit they are remitted.”
If they are, in sense and virtue, the same in all these forms, and are effectual to the penitent, by virtue of that commission, our Church has yet undoubtedly kept closer to it, in the latter end of its Absolution, in the Visitation of the Sick: and by his authority committed to me, i. e. by the authority of the Bishop, with imposition of hands, I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
The form and manner of ordering of Priests :- Receive the Holy Ghost, for the office and work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands : Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven, &c.
Though several have declared themselves to think differently upon this Rubrick, from these authors, and are of opinion that the words of it were never intended as a prohibition to the Deacon's pronouncing this declaratory form; and that there seems to be as much a form of Absolution, in the prayer that may be said after any of the former, before the general Thanksgiving, or in the Collect for the first day of Lent, or for the twenty-fourth Sunday after Trinity, as here ; yet all must agree, that a Deacon has not the least authority for taking a Collect out of the office for Ash Wednesday, and reading that instead of it.
The People shall answer here, and at the end of all other Payers, Amen ; which is an Hebrew word, of affirming, and ordinarily used by the people by way of assent to the requests that are put up for them. There is not the same meaning of it in Exhortations, Absolutions, and Creeds, as there is in our collects and Prayers. In the latter it is addressed to God, as, This is our desire; or So be it: but in the former it is addressed to the Priest, as, This is our sense and meaning, or, We entirely assent to and approve of what has been said. · In like manner do we find it in the Book of Deuteronomy; where, to all the benedictions which were given for keeping of the law, and all the curses which were threatened for the violation of it, the people, in token of their agreeing with those terms, cried out Amen.
In some places the Minister is not to stop, and leave it for the people, but to say it as well as the congregation; as, at the end of the first general Confession, the Creeds, and the Lord's Prayer, except in the Confirmation and Commination Offices; there they are printed in a different claracter, and there the Minister is not to go so far, but to leave it as an answer to be made by the people.
By such solemn acclamations, every one is expected, not to suffer his thoughts to be wandering, but to be godlily attentive to any part of that to which he so readily subjoins an Amen. Then the Minister shall kneel and say the Lord's Prayer with an
audible voice; the People also kneeling, and repeating it with him, both here, and wheresoever else it is used in Divine Service.
The sentences are read with a loud voice, the Confession is made with an humble one, and this is said with an audible one. It seems therefore that the Absolution was designed to be read in a different one from any of them.
Repeating it with him, both here, and wheresoever else it is used in Divine Service, is such a general order, that it might be imagined that there would be no occasion for any further direction; but yet we find that there is, in several places; as after the Apostles' Creed: Then the Minister, Clerks, and People shall say the Lord's Prayer with a loud voice: after the Absolution in the Evening Service; after the Creed ; again in the Litany; and in the Communion Service.
But it will be most proper to observe how it is expressed there in the beginning of the service itself. In Public Baptism, after the reception of the child into the Church, it is only thus: Ther shall the Pricst say; and after that, then shall be said-all kneeling; likewise in Confirmation, and (all kneeling down) the Bishop shall add the Lord's Prayer, with the prayers after it. The same may be observed in the form of Solemnization of Matrimony; in the order for the Visitation of the Sick; in the order for the Burial of the Dead; and in the Thanksgiving of Women aster Child-birth.
But in the Commination, the Priests and Clerks are to say the Psalm; and the Lord's Prayer having no direction before it, the same order serves for that too.
Wherever the people then are ordered to repeat it with, or after the Minister, there it should by no means be neglected by a careless silence. But in those places where it is not so appointed, the minister should not be joined by them any more than he should be when he says it before a homily or sermon.
Tben likewise he shall say what are called the responsals, from the people's being obliged to answer. And here, all standing up, the Priest shall say, Glory be, foc.
Here should be likewise some time allowed before it is said. Then shall be said or sung the Psalm following, except on Easter-day,
upon which another Anthom is appointed; and on the nineteenth day of every month it is not to be read here, but in the ordinary course of the Psalms.
This Anthem or Hymn, from the matter of it, is very proper to stir up the affections of the whole congregation, and is called the invitatory one, it being a cheerful invitation to the devout, setting forth the praises of God.
This Hymn, with the Psalms, are divided between the Minister and the People, who are made to bear a share in so many places, that their thoughts might be more quickened, and their intentions more fully engaged in them.
This method is as ancient as the time of Moses, in Exodus, who composed a hymn of praise, upon the deliverance of the Children of Israel from the Egyptians, and had it sung alternately, by himself and the men, first; afterwards by Miriam and the women. We read also in the Book of Ezra, that when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, they set the Priests, in their apparel, with trumpets; and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise the Lord, after the ordinance of David, king of Israel. And they sung together by course, in praising and giving thanks to the Lord; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever towards Israel. Then shall follow the Psalms in order as they are appointed, and at the end of every Psalm, throughout the year, and likewise at the end of . BenedicITE, BENEDICTUS, MAGNIFICAT, and NUNC DIMITTIS, shall be repeated, Glory be to the Father, &c.
These hymns, with the Te Deum and Creed, are so called, because, in Latin, they begin with those words.
There is no mention made of the day of the months, or the Psalms being to be named. And though it may be as well required that the Sundays after the Epiphany, or in Lent, or after the Trinity should be so; yet, since it has been customary for the Minister to do so, his not doing it has been reckoned to be omitting part of his duty: few considering that when the VENITE comes to be read, in the ordinary course of the Psalms, that the congregation very readily go on with the ninety-sixth.
As it is so primitive and useful an order, to have the Psalms thus read; and as this Psalter is an entire body of devotion, having different forms to exercise several graces, by way of internal act and spiritual intention, containing in it Confessions, Thanksgivings, Prayers, Praises, and Intercessions ; let every one be sure to do it standing : sitting being only allowed whilst the Lessons or the Epistle is reading.
But now (as well as when they are sung) every member is actually employed; which makes it very indecent to sit down, and stand up at the Gloria Patri, as the manner of some is. We are not so much to wonder at the generality of people's sitting down at the singing of Psalms, when Ministers themselves, for the most part, can be seen to set them no better examples. Then shall be read distinctly, with an audible voice, the first Lesson,
taken out of the Old Testament, as appointed in the Calendar, (except there be proper Lessons assigned for that day,) he that readeth, so standing, and turning himself, as he may best be heard of all such as are present.
Having been thus intent about prayers and praises, hereupon has the Church interposed Lessons to be read; that by such an instructing relief, we may become more fitly disposed to go on with the rest of our duty. Thus we find in the Acts of the Apostles, chap. xiii. 18, that when Paul and his companions “ departed from Perga, they came to Antioch, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath-day, and sat down, and after reading the Law and the Prophets " lbid. ver. 27. * For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the Prophets, which are read every VOL. XI, NO. XII.
When he was appealed to for decision, in a controversy which came properly beneath the cognizance of the civil magistrate, he peremptorily rejected the appeal : “ Man," said he, “who made me a judge or a divider over you ?" And at that most memorable period, when he was dragged away by unjust men to the cross of Calvary, and resistance, one might imagine, would be not only justifiable but incumbent, he declared expressly, “ My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews ; but now is my kingdom not from hence." Consequently, from his own explicit declaration, as well as from the language in which he is spoken of by the prophets, as one meek and lowly, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," we are fully warranted in maintaining, that no temporal authority was in the contemplation of the prophet, when he called him Ruler in Israel. On the other hand, the kingdom of the Messiah, as a spiritual kingdom, is not only referred to by the prophets, but explained by our Lord himself: “ Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion," said the prophet Zechariah, “ shout, o daughter of Jerusalem ; behold, thy King cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation.” To the same purport is the declaration of our Lord, to those who looked for temporal honours and dignities, in consequence of their connexion with him: “ The kingdom of God cometh not with observation" (i.e. with outward pomp and magnificence), “neither shall they say, Lo, here, or lo, there ; for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." As a Ruler, therefore, the authority of the Messiah extends over the conscience and the heart. Nor can any human governor exercise over us that authority which belongs exclusively to Him. He will rule in our understandings, constraining us to search the Scriptures, and to behold him there reflected in the mirror of his word; he will rule in our affections, excluding from the heart all evil passions and inordinate desires, and replenishing it with the love of God, and the love of man ; he will rule in our actions, at once requiring and enabling us to render due obedience to his royal law, and to walk in all holiness and righteousness of life; he will be our Master, our Teacher, our Guide, inclining us to follow him in the paths of holiness and peace ; to take upon us his yoke, which is easy, and his burden, which is light.
There appears, however, if we interpret the passage literally, to be a limitation of the Messiah's authority, he is to be Ruler in Israel; and, certainly, all the promises belong, in a primary sense, to the chosen people of God, “to whom,” said St. Paul, "pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law and the promises," and respecting whom it was declared, by a greater than St. Paul, “ Salvation is of the Jews." Taking the passage, however, in its spiritual sense, we may suppose Israel to signify here the faithful people of God, of whatever denomination or description ; for as they are not all Israel who are of Israel, neither is he a Jew who is one outwardly; so he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and all true servants of Christ are comprehended under the general designation of the ISRAEL OF God.
Besides, the free admission of the Gentiles into all the privileges of the Gospel covenant, is asserted in various passages of Scripture, in
terms that preclude all question. In the writings of the prophet Isaiah, who was contemporary with Micah, we find the Almighty thus defining and extending the commission of his anointed servant: “ It is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel ; I will also give thee for a light unto the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." And in that exquisitely beautiful portion of holy writ (Isaiah, ch. liv.), the prosperity and even the preeminence of the Gentile church are described in the most vivid colours : “ Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear ; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child : for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations : spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes; for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and cause the desolate cities to be inhabited." But it needs not to multiply quotations in proof of that which cannot be doubted or denied ; suffice it to observe, that the Saviour of mankind, though himself a Jew, and directing the Gospel to be first proclaimed in the cities of Judah, is not less “ the light to lighten the Gentiles," than “the glory of his people Israel;" and that there shall be eventually no limit to his empire, either on the right hand or on the left, for the “ God of the whole earth shall he be called.” • It only remains to consider,
III. The dignity of the Messiah's person : “ His goings forth have been of old, even from everlasting." · It is scarcely possible to imagine language more plainly and unequivocally indicative of the essential and eternal divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ than this. Had the prophet confined himself to the former part of this clause, “bis goings forth have been from of old," room might have been left, so far as this passage is concerned, for the errors of those who assert our Lord's preeminence over all created beings, but represent him as still inferior to the Father. It might have been maintained, with some degree of plausibility, that there was some remote period in the succession of time, at which he had no existence. But such a supposition is altogether precluded by the subsequent words of the prophet, “ from everlasting," or, as it is in the Hebrew
from the days of eternity; and hence we fully understand that corresponding declaration of the prophet Isaiah, “ Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." And the testimony to our Lord's eternal existence is equally clear and convincing in the New Testament, where it is said by St. John, “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; the same was in the beginning with God; in Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” And again, by St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Colossians, “He is before all things, and by Him all things subsist." With such direct proof as to the eternity of our Lord, it is unnecessary to go into the collateral evidence; and it will be more for our edification, after having taken a brief view of the