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pure offering : for my name shall be great his wickedness that he hath committed, and among the Heathen, saith the Lord of hosts. doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall Mal. i. 11.
save his soul alive. Ezek. xviii. 27. Let the words of my mouth, and the medi- I acknowledge my transgressions; and tation of my heart, be alwav acceptable in my sin is ever before me. Ps. li. 3. thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my Re Hide thy face from my sins; and blot out deemer. Ps. xix. 14.
all mine iniquities. Ps. li. 9. When the wicked man turneth away from The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; duty enjoined not less by the dictates of reason than very Being to whom we are about to address our the authority of Scripture.
T. C. B. prayers, and who may justly refuse to regard our (2.) Prayer is the elevation of the soul to a com pelitions if we neglect to observe his commandmunion with God; and is commanded by him as a ments.—“Before thou prayest, prepare thyself," duty, through the pious and faithful performance of says the son of Sirach: And the scripture sentenwhich we obtain all the especial blessings we enjoy. cez are admirably selected to prepare us for the It is a high honour to us that we are permitted and duty of devotion. They relate chiefly to repenassisted to hold this intercourse, and it is also a tance, and confession of sins. These should natusource of inestimable benefits to us. But it is a rally stand first in the devotion of guilty creatures : duty of difficult performance. Our attention should For, till we feel a genuine sorrow for having offendbe wholly engrossed in the solemn act we are en ed God, and come in earnest to seek bis pardon, gaged in. The worldly objects which commonly we cannot expect that he will accept our prayers. occupy our thoughts must be excluded. Our souls When the Minister begins to repeat the sentenmust be suitably humbled under a sense of our un ces, the congregation rises. This is a decent and worthiness, and brought to a proper state of sereni- proper custom. Its import is, to manifest our rev. ty by a contemplation of the paternal goodness of erence for the word of God, now addressed to us, God, and the atonement and mediation of the Sa. | viour. Hence it results that some preparation of During this part of the service, the Minister the mind is necessary before we enter upon the should bear in mind that he stands in the place of sacred duties of devotion. It is the custom of the an Embassador of Christ, as well as the solemn Jews, when they enter their synagogues for wor- | nature of the duties in which he is about to join ship, to stand silent for soine time, to meditate on with his congregation. He should read the senthe presence and perfections of God. And in the tences with suitable gravity, with a demeanor exearly ages of Christianity, it was the custom of the pressive of his inward devotion, with collected at Priest to prepare the people's hearts for worship, by teution, and with that serious and affectionate tone the use of a suitable preface. In imitation of this of voice, that is best calculated to influence the primitive usage, the Church has prescribed the sen minds and hearts of his people ;--to quicken their tence of Scripture, the reading of which are er zeal, and excite in them those heavenly affections joined by the foregoing Rubrick.
which are requisite in prayer. And if such are the In the first r formed Book composed in the reign duties of the Minister, there are also corresponding of King Edward, the offices of devotion began with obligations on the part of the hearer. During the the Lord's Prayer. The Romish Book began in reading of these sentences, no member of the conthe same way, and so does the Liturgy of the gregation may stand idle, listless, and inattentive, Greek Church. But when the next review of the as though he had nothing to do. Every one is in Liturgy was made, this commencement was thought duty bound to pay a reverent attention to the admo too abrupt. The sentences from scripture were nitions of God, thus declared by his embassador; then prefixed, together with the exhortation, con and in this way to prepare himself to make bis confession, and absolution; as a proper introduction, fessions to our “ Almighty and most merciful Faand to prepare the congregation for the following ther," in the form provided by the Church. devotions. And while the addition is calculated to From this view of the design of the prefatory senserve these salutary purposes, it brings back the tence, it will be perceived that every member of a Liturgy nearer to the primitive model
congregation ought to be in Church in due season, It should seem that nothing can have a stronger that he may be present at the very beginning of the tendency to produce in us a pious frame of soul service, and have time to prepare for the more than the voice of God speaking to us. The Church solemn offices of devotion. Many who appear in in prescribing these sentences, expects us to regard their seats previous to the commencement of pubthem as the words of God, addressed to us by the lic worship, are apt to spend the interval in gazing mouth of his embassador: and she hopes we will about the Church, to gratify an idle curiosity. But not dare to disobey them, since they come from the how much more profitably this time might be spent
a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou is gracious and mercitul, slow to anger, and wilt not despise. Ps. li. 17.
of great kindness, and repenteth him of the Rend your heart and not your garments, evil. Joel ii. 13. and turn unto the Lord your God; for he To the Lord our God belong mercies and in reading over the whole of the sentences, and an opportunity of employing his private meditations, such other scriptures as would tend to promote re before the service begins, upon such subjects as are ligious meditations: that they might thus bring
best suited to his present frame of mind and spirit. themselves to such a devout frame of mind before ual circumstances. For every serious person best the Minister begins, as to be able to follow him knows his own státe, and will naturally be led to through the successive offices, in such a manner as contemplate such subjects, as correspond with his the nature of the duty requires.
present disposition. And these, of course, will be In fine, let every one who hears these divine sen the best calculated to promote in him sincere repentences, be thankful to God for the instruction, the tance and true devotion. admonition, and the encouragement they afford; In this view the sentences may be considered as And may it be the earnest desire of all, so to use addressed to persons of five different descriptions. the ordinances of God's house, as not to abuse They afford, them: that they may derive from them that com 1. Instruction to the Ignorant and Erroneous. fort through life which they are calculated to af | 1 John i. 8. 9. Ezek. xviii. 2. ford, and find them as waters of consolation in the 2. Admonition to the negligent and inconsiderate. day of adversity.
T.C. B. Psal.li. 3. Mat. iii. 2. The two texts placed in front of the other initia 3. Models of Penitential Devotion to those who tory sentences, were designed to give solemnity to are apprehensive of God's Judgments. Psal. li. 9. the opening of the service; and yet I do not know Psal. cxliii. 2. Jer. x. 24. whether they may not have had an unfavourable 4. Encouragement and Consolation to the Difconsequence not foreseen. The compilers evident- | fident and Contrite. Psal. li. 17. Dan. ix. 9. Luke ly designed to begin with penitence and confession: | xv. 18, 19. bat we have lived to witness an increasing propen 5. And Caution to the Ceremonious and Forsity to begin with a psalm, without a special refer mal. Joel ii. 13. ence to those subjects. Such a thing never hap Sentences affording Instruction to the ignorant pened within my knowledge, before the said date:
and erroneous. but whether it was the result of introducing these Many persons attend the public worship, who are two texts, otherwise very proper, I will not deter-1 grossly ignorant of their real state. Insensible of mine. Perhaps it would have been better to have | their guilt, and inapprehensive of their danger, they placed them after the other texts. Bp. WHITE. either think that they have no sin; or suppose that
The first of these sentences makes a very impres | a slight confession of it will obtain them pardon. sive commencement of our service; the second is These surely stand in need of information, before peculiarly adapted to the season of the Epiphany, they join in the public service. And we are here furand the third is an appropriate prayer at the com nished with two striking passages from Holy Scripmencement of any act of worship, but it is certais ture, admirably adapted to instruct their ignorance, that neither of these are congruous with the order and rectify their errors. of our service. Perhaps it would be the best course, Thc one more immediately proceeds from the when the minister uses one of these sentences, that mouth of God, and is delivered by his prophet. he should join with it one or two of the others, which The other is addressed by St. John, the beloved are of a penitential character.
T. C. B. Apostle and Evangelist, to the Catholic Church, The full import of the sentences, it is to be feared, that is, to the whole Christian world. is not generally understood; neither is the recital of If any man be so ignorant, as to suppose, that a them, in all churches, always attended to, with the few slight petitions to heaven will obtain the pardon reference they deserve. Hence it is possible, that of his past offences, let him weigh the import of the the pious intentions of the composers of the Liturgy following words: may, at the very outset of the service, in some de When the wicked man, fc.—This passage is gree, be frustrated. On these grounds, it is pre taken out of the 18th chapter of Ezekiel ; a chapshrned, that a fuller illustration of the Introductory | ter, which I exhort every Christian, frequently to Sentences, than of some other parts of the service, read, and attentively to consider. God here · lainmay be required
ly declares, that if he, who had before led an abi. It may likewise be proper to arrange together tual good life, unfortunately fall into sinful courses, speh sentences as have a nearer affinity and relation he shall forfeit God's favour, and “his former rightto each other. This method will afford every maneousness shall not be mentioned.”—“In his trespass
forgivenesses, though we have rebelled Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is against him; neither have we obeyed the at hand. St. Matt. iii. 2. voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his | I will arise and go to my father, and will laws which he set before us. Dan. ix. 9, 10. say unto him; Father, I have sinned against
O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; heaven, and before thee, and am no more wor not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to no. thy to be called thy son. St. Luke xv. 18, 19. thing. Jer. x. 24. Ps. vi. 1.
Enter not into judgment with thy servant that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath ken from the 51st Psalm, in which the royal sinned; in them shall he die.” On the other hand, Psalmist, after the commission of a very grievous Almighty God solemnly avows, that whenever, the crime, makes confession of his sin before God: sinner, by unfeigned repentance, turns to him, he I acknowledge my transgresssions, fc.-Conwill restore him to his favour. However wicked scious that he has offended God, he does not, when and abominable his former life may have been, yet reproved by the mouth of the Prophet, attempt to if he see his errors, be heartily sorry for them, and conceal, or extenuate his offence. He confesses it forsake them ; if he endeavour to do "what is law with all its aggravations; he avows that his conful and right,” walking in the statutes of God, and science knows no rest, and that the sense of his observing his judgments. and if this new state of sin haunts him day and night. Now if holy David, life be sincere and permanent, then, he shall not when, in one deplorable instance, he had been surdie," he shall save his soul alive.”—He shall be de prised into sin, entertained such dreadful apprelivered from the misery denounced upon final im hensions of God's anger, let the thoughtless, inconpenitence, and shall obtain everlasting happiness | siderate sinner reflect, what impressions the sense and glory.
of his manifold offences should make upon bis mind. But some are not sensible of their guilt.— Igno- If he disregard the example of David, let him atrance, or vanity, prompts them to fancy that they tend to the summons from God, delivered by the have no sin, and consequently, no need of repentance. | Baptist, commanding all men, especially the To counteract the effects of so fatal a delusion, the thoughtless and inconsiderate, to repent: following passage from St. John is introduced, to | Repent ye, fc.—That is, by repentance and rewhich the self-righteous, the presumptuous self-de- formation make your peace with God, whilst the ceiver, will do well to attend :
day of life, and the kingdom of grace last. If you If we say, fc.- In this state of imperfection the live and die in your sins, you will, at the Day of Dest men are liable to many frailties, and all of us Judgment, which precedes Christ's kingdom o: offend God daily. The Apostle declares, that if glory, be excluded from heaven, and cast into hell. we say, or think in our hearts, that we live without sin, we deceive, not God, who sees and will punish
Models of penitential Devotion to those who are our guilt, but ourselves, by believing a most gross
apprehensive of God's Judgments. falsehood. He assures us, that the truth of God's
By the preceding sentences we have been taught word, which says, that " all have sinned,” is not in
that men universally deserve the wrath of God, and us. Whereas, if we examine our hearts, acknow
that all should “fear before him." But when we ledge our sins, and repent of them, God has pro
observe, in the person of the humble penitent, how mised, and Christ has purchased us, pardon. His
apt the excessive dread of God's righteous judgfaithfulness and justice will fulil his promise. He ment is to deject the heart, oppress the spirits, and will forgive us our past sins, and by his grace, and
prevent the exercise of devotion, we discover with the assistance of his holy spirit, he will, for the fu
what propriety, the compilers of our Common Pray. ture, preserve us from “all deadly sin,” and “con. er, have in the three succeeding sentences, supplied firm and stablish us in every good work.”
us with models of penitential supplication.
Hide thy face, fc.-Let us suppose a sinner, Admonilion to the negligent and inconsiderate. awakened to a true sense of his deplorable situation,
Others are not ignorant, but negligent. They and looking around him for help and deliverance. are ready to acknowledge their sin, and appear to Above, is an insulted, offended God, prepared to be aware of their danger. But though they are take vengeance: Below, the fiery gulph gapes convinced, that without repentance and amendment ready to receive him. In this season of distress of life, neither their prayers nor persons will be ac and dismay, the example of David will teach him cepted by God, yet they defer from day to day, from not to turn away through fear from the Almighty week to week, from month to month, from year to but to approach him more speedily; and to pray to year, the practice of these duties. To excite such him more humbly, and earnestly, for the pardon of persons to repent in earnest, the church furnishes his sins. The royal penitent here reiterates his forus with two striking passages. The former is ta- | mer requests, that God would cease to bebola bis
O Lord; for iu thy sight shall no man living be justified. Ps. cxliii. 2.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; but if We confess our sins, God is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John i. 8, 9.
Then the Minister shall say. (3.) DEARLY beloved brethren, the Scripture
iniquity, that he would blot it out, as a man blots sentence under this head, I will arise, foc., proves out wbat he has written, so that it can never be by the example of one, whose condition was as read again.
wretched, whose offences were as great, and whose Enter not into judgment, fc.—Here David urges forgiveness was as unlikely, as ours can possibly the fallen, sinful, wretched state of human nature. be, that every true penitent, who ventures to return Of all the sons of Adam, not one could be saved, to his heavenly Father, may have the fullest as. should God enter into judgment with him, and in surance of meeting with a kind reception; and that stead of pardoning his offences by an act of grace, those things, which the sense of our unworthiness infiict the punishment due to them by the rigor of the makes us ashamed to ask, his voluntary bounty is law. The thought of such a trial, appals the soul of ready to bestow. the best man living, makes his flesh to tremble. and
Caution to the Ceremonious and Formal. all his bones to shake. To God's grace and mercy, through the merits of Christ alone, the most innocent In the last place, should any, by the frequent use man living must owe his justification and acquittal.
of these public offices, grow cold and careless, or O Lord, correct, fc.-If the justice of Jehovah ceremonious and formal, should they begin to rest is determined to punish, and the peniteni offender
solely, on established rites, and customary observcannot be forgiven without some chastisement, the
ances, repeating the confession and the prayers humble supplication of the prophet instructs us to
without any corresponding affections of devotion, to pray, that it may be inflicted, not with the vindic
them the Church addresses that direction and re. tive fury of an adversary, but with the moderation proof, which God himself addressed to the hypocriti of a merciful judge. Should the Lord proceed with
cal Jews: rigor proportionale to the sioner's demerit, he
Rend your hearts, fc.-The Jews were forward would be totally consumed; reduced to a state
enough to exhibit the exterior formalities of sorrow worse than annihilation.
and repentance, whilst their principles remained un
altered, and their hearts were devoid of true con Consolation to the diffident and contrite. trition. To the outward signs of mourning, the That the heart of the penitent overwhelmed prophet exhorts them to add inward sorrow. God with grief may not despair of forgiveness, as is God regards the disposition of our minds more than the were utterly irreconcilable, and no more to be in- posture of our bodies. When you come to confess treated, and to prepare him to supplicate mercy your sins before God, rend your heart with grief for through faith and repentance, the church has pro your offences, and fear of his displeasure. Turn vided three sentences for the encouragement of your hearts unto the Lord, whom with your l'ps you those who are diffident of God's favour, and for the call your God. The gracious mercy, long sufferconsolation of the contrite :
ing, and benignity of God, are the greatest encourThe sacrifices of God, fc. The first shows, argements to expect his pardon. Though he has bow well qualified such persons are to pray for par determined to punish, he is more desirous to spare. don ; that with a penitent and a contrite heart God is He will repent, and will not inflict the evil he has well pleased; that a broken spirit, a soul pierced threatened, provided you repent of the evil you have with the many genuine sorrows, which always ac committed. And shall we approach with frigid company true repentance, is a sacrifice, which he formality, when we come to confess our sins, and will most graciously accept.
supplicate forgiveness of so good and gracious a To the Lord, our God, belong, fc.-In the for God? Let us not only bend the suppliant knee, mer sentence, we saw how well qualified the peni but bow down the “humble, lowly, penitent, and tent is to pray for forgiveness. This demonstrates obedient heart," whenever we asserable in the God's readiness to forgive. Though we have vio house of our God “to praise his holy canie, to give lated bis holy laws, taken up arms, and lived in a him thanks, to hear his word, and to ask those state of open rebellion against his divine majesty, things that are requisite and necessary both for our yet be is the God of mercies. If we repent, he will bodies and souls."
SHEPHERD. pardon. Let his pity in sparing, and his goodness Before the service of the church begins, it is likein restoring us, encourage us to draw pear him, and wise proper that Christians should address them. make confession of our sins before bim.
selves to God in private prayer. A form of prayer To enforce he former declarations, the third | like the following, has been recommended for this
moveth us, in sundry places, to acknowledge | hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to and confess our manifold sins and wicked | hear his most holy word, and to ask those ness, and that we should not dissemble uor things which are requisite and necessary, as cloak them before the face of Almighty God, well for the body as the soul. Wherefore, I our heavenly Father, but confess them with pray and beseech you, as many as are here an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient | present, to accompany me with a pure heart heart ; to the end that we may obtain forgive and humble voice, into the throne of the ness of the same, by his infinito goodness and heavenly grace, sayingmercy. And althongh we ought, at all times, humbly to acknowledge our sins before God;
| A general Confession (4.) to be said by yet ought we chiefly so to do, when we assem
the whole Congregation (5.) after the ble and meet together, to render thanks for
Minister, (6.) all kneeling. (7.) the great benefits that we have received at his ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; purpose by some respectable members of our com The Minister begins his address with the Aposmunity to be used at our entrance into the Church, tolic Salutation, “Dearly beloved Brethren.”—
O Lord, I am now in thine house. Assist, I These words are well adapted to express that tenpray thee, and accept my services. Enable me, der regard which tl:e Minister of God's word should and all that shall this day meet in thy name, to have for their people. And the congregation worship thee in spirit and in truth. Let thy should be careful to receive their exhortation with holy spirit help our infirmities, and dispose our a ready mind, since they thus “speak 10 them the hearts to seriousness, attention, and devotion. truth in love.” After this affectionate address, the And grant that we muy improve this opportuni Minister proceeds to call his people to confession, ty to the honour of thy holy name, and the benefit by the admonition that "the Scripture moveth us of our souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord. in sundry places to acknowledge and confess ont Amen.
manifold sins and wickedness." These words are The prayer is so plain that it requires little ex grounded on the introductory sentences, and parplication. It petitions for acceptance and abilities ticularly on that from the 1 John i. 3, 9. But many to worship God properly ; for seriousness, attention, other passages of Scripture might be cited to the and devotion, that by our solemn meeting we may same purpose; and to give weight to this admoni promote bis honour, and obtain his blessing. This | tion, the words import, that it is not merely the form may easily be prolonged, or diversified, as each Minister, but God himself who by his holy wora man's particular circumstances may require. moves us to repentance and confession ; so that he
The prayer subjoined may be used with advan who refuses to obey, refuses not man but God. tage when the service is ended.
We are further admonished not to “dissemble or Blessed be thy name, O Lord, for this oppor. cloke" our sins. For though we could conceal tunity of attending thee in thy house and service. them so closely as to deceive all the world, yet we Pardon, I beseech thee, my wanderings and im cannot bide them from that God, who "searcheth perfections. Mercifully accept my services, and the heart," and who will condemn us for our hypograni that I, and all Christians, may be doers crisy as well as for the transgression. We are of thy word and not hearers only, through our therefore admonished to “confess” our sins, with only mediator Jesus Christ. Amen.
an "humble and lowly” heart, sensible of our unThese two prayers are, with little variation, ex worthiness; with a “penitent" heart, filled with tracted from a Tract, entitled “Directions for a | sorrow for having offended so good a God; and devout and decent behaviour in the public worship with an "obedient heart," fully resolved upon reof God.”
SHEPHERD. formation and amendment of life. (3.) In the performance of the Service it is cus The object of this confession of our sins, is then omary to pronounce only two or three of the sen- | declared to be, "to the end that we may obtain tences, and then to proceed to the exhortation ; forgiveness of the same," by the “infinite goodwhich is grounded on them, and is little more than | ness and mercy" of God. “If we confess our a comment or paraphrase upon the several texts. sins," says St. John, “ God is faithful and just to
It is to be feared that there are many who regard forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unthis Exhortation as a mere matter of form, and give righteousness." Repentance and forgiveness are but little heed to it. But those who will attend to constantly connected, in the Scriptures; yet we the instruction which it contains, cannot fail to per must be careful to regard repentance rather as a ceive how admirably it is calculated to apply the condition, than as the meritorious cause, of our preceding sentences, and direct us how we should forgiveness; which is to be sought for only in the perforin the following confession.
atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ.