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penitent? The natural progress of the mind, in making confession of sin unto God, must be first to acknowledge that sin, and then to sue for pardon; and next to ask for assistance from above, never to fall into it again. This very turn the General Confession takes. No sooner are our con- ̈ sciences eased of the load of guilt which oppresses them, than we prefer, “in faith nothing wavering," a claim on the mercy of God" according to his promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord:" And after this, we ask of him, for the sake of the same Advocate and Mediator, that we may live soberly, righteously, and godly for the future, to the glory of his holy name. What can be more passionately expressed, more humbly urged, more scripturally conceived, than this confessional form, this primary supplication of our Church ?-May God enable us ever to join
in it with sincerity, and not after the manner of dissemblers with him.—May he cleanse us from our sins, wash us from our wickedness, blot out our misdeeds, make us pure hearts, renew a right spirit within us ;-and, when we add Amen to the whole --so be it—yea, verily" thus we unanimously set our offences before thee, O God; thus, with one mouth and one mind, do we ask forgiveness for past crimes, and the aid of thy grace in future." May he hear our prayers, fulfil our desires, and finally fit us to receive becomingly, and to our everlasting benefit, the Absolution which follows upon it. That part of the service will next occupy our attention, if God will:-in the mean season, beloved, I demand your prayers unto God, that he will give me the power, as I trust I have the will, to proceed in my plan, to your edification and his glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
JOHN XX. 23.
Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
HAVING, in my last Sermon on the Liturgy of our Church, proceeded to the end of the General Confession, the Absolution, or Remission of Sins, which next follows in the Common Prayer-Book, calls for our attention on the present occasion. The Rubric immediately prefixed to it, says, that it is "to be pronounced by the Priest alone, standing; the people all kneeling." The Priest is ordered to stand, inasmuch as he is performing an act of
authority; to him " is committed the ministry, and word of reconciliation," and he is an "ambassador for Christ." The people kneel, in token of that humility and reverence with which they ought to receive the glad tidings of pardon and forgiveness from God. The Priest, alone, saith the Rubric, is to pronounce the Absolution :-the word Priest is here used in contradistinction to the name and office of Deacon. The Church gives no authority to the Deacon to recite the Absolution. If you refer to the Ordination Office, you will find that the office of a Deacon is to "assist the Priest in divine service," and he is authorised "to read the gospel in the Church of God, and to preach the same if duly licensed by the Bishop himself." But when a Priest is ordained, the Bishop says to him, with solemn laying on of hands, both by the
Bishop and the Priests who are present,"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; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained."
The Church uses here nearly the same words which Christ employed in the text; when, after having said unto them," As the Father hath sent me, even so send I you;" after having breathed on the disciples and said," Receive ye the Holy Ghost;" he added, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained."
The parallel passage referred to in the margin of our Bibles, is the eightteenth verse of the eighteenth chapter of