« 上一頁繼續 »
who reads them by virtue of his office, agreeably to the intention of the authors and compilers of the Prayer-Book.—Thus, the Introductory Sentences should be listened to; the Exhortation to a confession of sins should be listened to; the Confession itself should be repeated; whilst again, the Absolution, which follows it, should be heard with reverence, and when concluded, received with an hearty Amen.
But now, if these inattentions prevail amongst the uninformed; if these mistakes occur amongst the unlearned, but still devout, even with the Book of Common Prayer, with all its apparatus of rules and directions under their very eyes; what must be the case where there is no Liturgy at all?—where the inexplicable confusion of extemporary prayer is found?—where improper petitions are preferred in obscure language ? --where the minister himself is lost in endless perplexities ?-Where sentence rises within the heart of sentence, and parenthesis is hooked within parenthesis ? - Where nouns and verbs, cases and moods, numbers and persons, mock at and defy one another?—And where, to use the language of one of their own poets
“ The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
The General Confession is ordered to be repeated — “all kneeling.” When creatures stained with sin are in the act of acknowledging their iniquities to God, they cannot do it in a posture too expressive of humiliation. Kneeling has been for ages
the posture of penitents, and also of supplicants. Prostration, or falling on the face and bowing down the head to the earth,
has prevailed in the East; but so has kneeling too, and as it is more consonant to our ideas, and more decorous, compared with our customs, it has been enjoined by the Church in many of the acts of public worship. The Scripture gives us high authority for kneeling, when we address God in prayer, or in the ardour of adoration. Our Saviour kneeled down and prayed in the garden of Gethsemane; and the apostle St. Paul, when he embarked at Tyre for Ptolemais, together with a number of disciples, attended by their wives and children, kneeled down, with one accord, and prayed on the sea shore. Peter kneeled down and prayed when he raised Tabitha from the dead : and Stephen, the first Martyr, when he prayed for his murderers, after the example of his Lord and Master, “kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge."
Never was there å form more wisely adapted to general use, than that of the General Confession. To specify too many particulars in a composition of this kind had been unwise ; for thus, without reaching the precise cases of all, many could not with truth have joined in it;. but, as it stands, any person who has the smallest knowledge of himself, who is aware of his own peculiar failings and trànsgressions, can easily apply the general terms of this admirable formulary to his own specific case. ---Who is there of the sons of men that hath not erred and strayed from the ways of his almighty and most merciful Father; that hath not wandered like a sheep that is lost from the fold of his heavenly. Pastor?--Who is there of the descendants of fallen Adam that, through the inborn depravity of his nature, hath not followed too much the vain devices and the wicked desires of his own heart ?-What sins can there possibly be which range not under the classes of sins of omission or commission,—things left undone which ought to have been performed, and things perpetrated which ought to have been left unattempted ? —What Christian is there who is not ready to confess, that he cannot be his own saviour; that it is God only who worketh in him both the grace to will, and the power to do, that which is good; and that in himself is no spiritual health, no holiness, no principle of salvation, which may rescue him from eternal death; but that all his sufficiency is of God; and that all his hopes are fixed upon him, who is full of mercy when offenders turn to and call upon him; whose delight is to spare those who confess their faults, and to restore to comfort and his favour them that are