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ESSAY II.

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On the Exhortation that follows the Sentences, at the Opening of Morning and Evening Service. 10 the passages adduced from Holy Scrip

ture, with which the morning and evening service of our church begins, succeeds an exhortation, addressed by the minister to the people, on the proper frame of spirit which they ought to cultivate and maintain during the season of solemn worship.

Dearly beloved Brethren, the Scripture “ moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge « and confess our manifold sins and wickedness, « and that we should not dissemble nor cloak « them before the face of Almighty God our

heavenly Father, but confess them with an « humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart, “ to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of “ the same by His infinite goodness and mercy. “ And although we ought at all times humbly “ to acknowledge our sins before God, yet ought

we most chiefly so to do, when we assemble « and meet together, to render thanks for the “ great benefits which we have received at His

hands, to set forth His most worthy praise, to « hear His most holy word, and to ask those “ things which are requisite and necessary, as “ well for the body as the soul. Wherefore I “ pray and beseech you, as many as are here

present, to accompany me, with a pure “ heart and humble voice, to the throne of the

heavenly grace.”

Our church supposes her ministers to be influenced by an ardent affection for the souls of men. If this were not the case, the language we are directed to use would be the language of hypocrisy. With respect to numbers of persons who compose our congregations, we can have no personal attachment to them. Human friendship, therefore, cannot authorise us to call them our “ dearly beloved Brethren." But Divine charity comprehends, within the circumference of its wide embrace, all mankind. That they are redeemed by the blood of Christ, is sufficient to recommend them to the benevolence and beneficence of those who are partakers of their Master's spirit. Similar to this in our liturgy was the style of address adopted by the first ministers of Christ. St. Paul calls the Romans his “ dearly beloved.”*

He expresses himself to the Corinthians in the same endearing terms. The manner in which he writes to the Philippians, is still more remarkable, and deserves to be quoted at large: “ Therefore, my breth

ren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and

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crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly “ beloved.” I Our church could never intend, on an occasion so solemn, or in a place so sacred, to put the language of idle unmeaning compliment into the mouths of her ministers. No, she supposes all her sons to be partakers of the spirit of Him, who died to save sinners: and the conclusion, which she seems to draw, is just, that all who are “ moved by the Holy

* Chap. xii. 19.

+ 1 Epist. X. 14. Chap. iv. 1. See also 1 Pet. ii. 11.

our

“Ghost to take upon them an office and minis“ tration to serve God for the promoting of his “ glory, and the edifying of his people," * are by the same Holy Ghost endued with a hearty zeal for God's glory, and with an affectionate regard for the souls of men. Surely, therefore,

dearly beloved brethren,” who compose our congregations, should receive the word at our mouths with meekness. Do we reprove? Our reproof is the voice of a friend. Do we rebuke? It is in love. Do we exhort? It is because we are solicitous for the eternal welfare of those who are the objects of our exhortations. We try to conciliate their esteem that we may do them good. While flatterers and dissemblers “ daub with untempered mortar," because they are indifferent whether the important building stand or fall; we feel ourselves bound by the law of love to deal faithfully with the consciences of our hearers, and do not shun to “ declare to "them the whole counsel of God.

Our church directs us to put the congregation in mind of the authority under which we act. We come not in our own name, nor speak our own words, when we openly declare the necessity of making confession of our sins; but “the “ Scripture moveth us in sundry places” to the performance of this duty. To the law and to the testimony we appeal. To the book of God we direct the attention of our people. O that all the members of our church would imitate the example of the noble † Bereans, and search the Scriptures daily, that they might be enabled to determine for themselves whether the words

Common Prayer Book, Ordering of Deacons.
† Acts xvii. 11.

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which they hear be the “ words of truth and “ soberness," or not! If the minister speak the truth in love, let it be remembered, that “ he “ who despiseth, despiseth not man, but God.” *

The necessity of a full and ingenuous confession of our sins is pointed out to us by a reference to Scripture.“ The Scripture moveth us “ in sundry places to acknowledge and confess “our manifold sins and wickedness." On this subject the word of God is very clear and decisive: “ He that covereth his sins shall not “ prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh “ them shall have mercy.”† Were it necessary, a variety of other passages might be produced. The matter of confession is “ our manifold sins “ and wickedness;” those of the heart as well as those of the life, with all their respective aggravations. On this subject we shall speak more fully when we come to consider the excellent form of confession that follows. At present we shall only remark that ALL sin must be confessed, so far as we are brought to an acquaintance with it. Not that it is possible for us to make the catalogue complete, or recall to mind one of a thousand of our “manifold" transgressions. They are fully known to Him only, “ who telleth the number of the stars" and the grains of sand that cover the shores of the ocean. But we must become willing to see and acknowledge the utmost deformity of sin, and to feel our own defiled and degraded state in consequence of it.

“ It is a vain thing to think of being accepted of God while we spare one “ sin. One sin is sin, and the wages of all sin “ is death. What better then would you be,

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*

1 Thes, iv. 8.

+ Prov. xxviii. 13.

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“supposing that all others were confessed, if “ there is one still standing out against you to “ condemn you?

you? Though you are not an adulterer, a fornicator, or profane swearer; yet if

you are a drunkard, or an evil-speaker, or a “ sabbath-breaker, or so bent upon the gain of “ this world as to keep your heart from God;

you are an unrighteous person, and the sen“tence upon all such singly is, They shall not “ inherit the kingdom of God. The enemy of

your souls, the Devil himself, will suffer you, , or (if it be possible) help you, to confess all your sins but one, if he could be sure that

you would keep that one.” * It is not the multitude or enormity of our sins that prevents our participation of Divine mercy, but the impenitence of our hearts.

The motives with which our church enforces her exhortation, are drawn from the character of that God with whom we have to do. He is Almighty God, our heavenly Father.” He is

Almighty" to save the penitent, and to punish those who reject His mercy. Since then He is “ Able to save, even to the uttermost, through the “plenteous redemption that is in Christ Jesus, there is no reason to fear His displeasure, if the disposition of Nathanael † be found in us. If in our spirits | there be no guile; if “ in “ simplicity and Godly sincerity we confess our “ sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our os sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteouss6 ness.” § But He is also “ Almighty” to

” punish those who reject His counsel. " There " is no darkness nor shadow of death, where

* Adams's Posthumous Works, vol. i. p. 263.
t John i. 47. * Psalm xxxii. 2.

§ 1 John i. 9.

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