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ILLUSTRATED AND EXPLAINED.
At the beginning of Morning Prayer, the Minifter fhall read with a loud voice fome one or more of thefe Sentences of the Scriptures that follow: and then he shall say that which is written after the faid fentences.
HEN the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he fhall fave his foul alive. Ezek. xviii. 27. 2. I acknowledge my tranfgreffions, and my fin is ever before me. Pfal. li. 3.
3. Hide thy face from my fins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Ver. 9.
ET the wickedness of a finner be ever fo great, God will re
favour whenever he quits his evil courfes, and
returns to him by a fincere repentance. For in the fame manner that those who have formerly led a virtuous life, fhall, if they deviate into fin, forfeit the favour of the Almighty, and destroy their fouls, notwithstanding their former goodness: in like manner a wicked man, if he reforms his life and turns to God, will become acceptable to him and partake of his mercy, whereby his foul will be redeemed from eternal damnation.
2. I don't attempt to palliate my guilt by excufes, much lefs do I deny it; but acknowledge it with forrow and contrition, never lofing fight of it, but retaining always a fevere sense of it in my mind.
3. O Lord,
4. The facrifices of God are a broken fpirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not defpife. Ver. 17.
5. Rent your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, flow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Joel ii. 13.
6. To the Lord our God belong mercies, and forgiveneffes, though we have rebelled against him: neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws which he fet before us. Dan. ix. 9, 10.
7. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, left thou bring me to nothing. Jer. x. 24. Pf. vi. . 8. Repent ye; for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. St Matt. iii. 2.
3. O Lord, in the fulness of thy mercy, overlook my tranfgreffions: and from my unfeigned repentance, in which I implore thy afliftance, biot my iniquities from the book wherein they stand recorded against me.
4. God is better pleased with a fincere repentance, than with the most pompous oblations which could be made (according to the legal inftitutions for a broken heart) by a broken heart labouring under that dejcction and grief which always accompany a fincere repentance. This is a facrifice which will never be rejected by the Almighty like the facrifices offer'd by wicked men meerly in compliance with form.
5. You must feel a real and deep regret for having offended God, and not think to appeafe him by external expreffions of forrow, fuch as the renting of garments, of which the fcripture affords us many inftances: for God's gracioufnefs, mercy, tenderness for mankind, and flowness to panish, are high encouragements to finners to hope for pardon upon their return to God he may likewife be faid to repent him of the evil or punishment which he inflicts upon men, in withdrawing it as foon as they delift to offend.
6. So unbounded is the mercy of Almighty God that he is difpos'd to pardon us, tho' we have never fo grievously offended him, and tho' we have, as it were, renounced our allegiance to the Divine Being, and declared open rebeliion against him, by notorioufly violating his laws, yet fill he is ready to pardon us, and offers us the means of reconciliation.
7. O Lord. I beseech thee not to view my faults and imperfections with the fevere eye of a judge, but with the indulgence of a merciful father, for I could expect nothing but deftruction fhouldst thou proceed with me according to rigid juftice. 8 Repent of your fins, and endeavour to be reconciled to God before Chrift's glorious kingdom begins, which is to
9. I will arife, and go to my father, and will fay unto him, Father, I have finned against Heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy fon. St Luke XV. 18, 19.
10. Enter not into judgment with thy fervant, O Lord; for in thy fight fhall no man living be juftified. Pf. cxliii. 2.
11. If we fay that we have no fin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us: but if we confefs our fins, he is faithful and juft to forgive us our fins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 St John i. 8, 9.
Early beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us in
fundry places to acknowledge and confefs our ma
nifold fins and wickednefs: and that we fhould not dif femble, nor cloke them before the face of Almighty God
be preceded by the general judgment; and if you fhould appear at the tribunal of God unprepared, and without having repented of your fins, you muft expect to perish everlaftingly.
9. I will, after the example of the prodigal fon, lying under the oppreffion of the guilt and mifery which my fins have brought upon me, return to my heavenly Father, and acknowledge the heinousness of them, whereby I have defervedly forfeited his favour and protection.
10 O Lord, do not too feverely mark what I have done amifs;-the word in the original Hebrew fignifies, do not enter into judgment with me, or carry me before thy awful tribunal;-for shouldft thou exact perfect righteousnefs, the most upright man cannot stand the trial; no man living can expect falvation for his own righteoufnefs, the very best of men cannot expect to be faved by his good works, but muft depend upon thy
1. This life being a state which can never attain to perfection, and the very best men being obnoxious to great failings, to fay that we are entirely free from the dominion of fin, is altogether falfe and abfurd, it is utterly inconfiftent with the truth and fimplicity of our religion: but if we acknowledge our fins before God, and fincerely repent of them, his mercy being equal to his juftice, he will pardon us upon our fulfilling thofe conditions, and will, for the time to come, preferve us from any mortal fin, by affording us the affiftance of his holy spirit, which will confirm and establish us in every good work. Rom. xvi. 20.
1. My beloved brethren and fellow chriftians, the holy fcriptures, hole authority is acknowledg'd by you, and by all true believers, not C 2
our heavenly Father; but confefs them with an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the fame, by his infinite goodness and mercy. 2. And although we ought at all times humbly to acknowledge our fins before God, yet ought we most chiefly fo to do, when we affemble and meet together, to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received at his hands, to fet forth his moft worthy praise, to hear his most holy word, and to ask those things which are requifite
only in the parts which I have juft read to you but in their whole tenour, do exhort us to confefs unto God our numerous tranfgreffions of his facred laws befides, it is the height of folly for us to hope to conceal them from the fearcher of hearts, from whofe piercing fight no fecrets can escape. Our guilt would be greatly inhanced by hypocrify, fhould we, notwithftanding our many fins, attempt to justify ourselves in the awful prefence of the Almighty. It is our duty, as chriftians, to perform these three parts of true repentance: first, we fhould, with an humble and contrite heart, confefs our fins before God, like the publican who addreffed the Almighty in thefe pathetic terms-God be merciful to me a finner: fecondly, to this we fhould add a real and unfeign'd forrow, for having offended the Almighty, and for having juftly incurr'd his difpleafure: And laftly, we fhould, above all, take such a disgust against our fins, as to refolve to forfake them for ever, and to regulate the remainder of our lives according to God's holy law. We need never defpair of God's forgivenefs, if we repent of our fins in this manner; but we should not prefúme that even fuch a repentance will entitle us to claim impunity of our fins from God; for this we must rely wholly upon that infinite goodness and mercy which is offer'd to us by his fon our Saviour Jefus Chrift. It is the mystery of redemption alone that can fave us; we cannot hope to have our fins wafh'd away, but by the blood of our bleffed Lord who fuffer'd for us upon the cross.
2. And altho' we ought at all times, or in thofe frequent private devotions which are enjoined us by our religion, to perform this duty of confeffion, which is fo important a part of prayer, it is in a particular mannor incumbent upon us to have recourfe to it in the public affemblies of chriftians, who meet together to acquit themfelves of the four great duties enjoined them by religious worthip: first, to return thanks for favours already conferr'd upon them: fecondly, to praife and adore the Almighty for his tranfcendent goodness: thirdly, to hear God's word read and preached fourthly, to intreat God to beftow fpiritual and temporal bleflings upon them. But without a confeffion of our fins, and the other effential parts of true repentance, we cannot discharge any of these public duties. As long as we remain in our fins we cannot render an acceptable
and neceffary, as well for the body as the foul, 3. Wherefore I pray and befeech you, as many as are here prefent, to accompany me with a pure heart and humble voice, unto the throne of the heavenly grace, faying after me.
A general Confeffion, to be faid of the whole Congregation, after the Minifter, all kneeling.
LMIGHTY, and most merciful Father. 2. We have erred and ftrayed from thy ways like lost fheep. 3. We have followed too much the devices and de
thanksgiving unto the Lord; we cannot praise and admire his divinc perfections, till we have forfaken our evil courses; whilft we are enslaved to worldly lufts, we cannot be devout hearers of his holy word; nor can we hope that our prayers will be accepted, whilft the wickedness of our lives render us abominable in the fight of our creator.
3. I therefore, in the moft earnest manner, request all of you, who aft upon this folemn occafion, to proftrate yourfelves before God and addrefs him with fervent prayer, which I, as the minifter of God, offer up to the throne of his grace both for you and myself; I do not perform this duty alone, as the prieft did under the Jewish difpenfation, and as the papifts, who have imitated them, do at prefent, but I defire you, who enjoy higher privileges by virtue of Chrift's covenant, to accompany me thither with purity of heart; repeating after me the form of words prefcrib'd by the church upon this occafion; intreating you, that you would endeavour to animate your hearts with that warmth, fincerity, and devotion, and be attentive and ferious as the worship of God requires; taking care, in all your refponfes, equally to avoid a loud and clamorous voice, as well as one low and inarticulate, and that you make ufe only of an humble voice fuited to the folemnity of the occafion,
1. O Lord, we make application to thee on account of those attributes of thine, which muft difpofe thee to pardon finners; thy Omnipotence, from which we may hope for conftant affiftance, and thy mercy, which makes thee always ready to afford it to us: being filled with hopes of forgiveness by that relation of fatherhood, which thou haft been pleafed to own that thou beareft towards us.
2. We, with the utmoft confufion, confefs the many fins and errors which we have been furprised into; we have wander'd from the paths of our duty, and ftray'd from the ways which we were directed to walk in by the holy religion which thou haft revealed: and this, according to the comparison of our Saviour, after the manner of thofe loft fheep that ftray from their fhepherds, and are thereby expofed to a variety of dangers.