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all mankind, he has committed the ministry of reconciliation to us;- that having brought men to repentance, we may in Christ's name, and in the person of Christ, pronounce their pardon.
For as under the law of Moses, God made his priests the judges of leprosy, and gave them rules by which they were to determine who were clean, and fit to enter into the congregation, which was a type of heaven,) and who were not clean: even so, under the gospel, he has given his priests authority to judge sin, which is the leprosy of the soul. He has given them rules to judge by, with authority to pronounce their pardon, if they find them qualified; for this is their commission from Christ's own mouth, Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them.
Now although it is my duty to encou rage penitents earnestly to desire absolution, and to exhort them to receive the Lord's supper, as a pledge to assure them of pardon, yet I must again and again admonish you, not to hope for any benefits either from the one or the other, but on condition of your sincere repentance.
I therefore think it proper for my greater satisfaction, before I pronounce the absolution, to ask you a few more questions, that I may receive by your answers to them such signs of a sincere faith and true repentance, as may lead me charitably to believe, that amendment of your life will follow, if God shall think fit to grant you longer time in this world.
Have you considered the sins which you have been most subject to ?
Are you convinced that it is an evil thing and bitter to forsake the Lord ?
Are you resolved to avoid all temptations, and occasions of the sins you have now repented of?
Do you verily believe that you shall not fall into any of these sins again?
If you should do so, will you immediately beg God's pardon, and be more watchful over yourself?
Will you strive with all your might to overcome the corruptions of your nature by prayer and self-denial ?
Do you purpose, if God should prolong your days, to bring forth fruits meet for repentance?
Are you in perfect charity with all the 'world **
And now having declared your repentance to be sincere, (otherwise, as I have said before, my ministry can avail you
* Bp. Wilson's Parochialia..
nothing,) and having given me satisfactory answers to the questions I have put to you, I desire you to attend most earnestly to the absolution which I am about to pronounce, and, as before, to make it your own, not by repeating it after me, but by heartily saying Amen, when I have finished it.
- Here'the Priest shall absolve the Sick
Person (if he humbly and heartily desire it) after this sort :
Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to his church to absolve all sinners, who truly repent and believe in bim, of his great mercy forgive thee thine offences: and by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
And then the Priest shall say the collect following :
Let us pray, "O most merciful God, who according to the multitude of thy mercies, dost
50 put away the sins of those who truly repent, that thou rememberest them ho more; open thine eye of mercy upon this thy servant, who most earnestly desireth pardon and forgiveness. Renew in him, most loving Father, whatsoever hath been decayed by the fraud and malice of the devil, or by his own carnal will and frailness; preserve and continue this sick member in the unity of the church; consider his contrition *, accept his tears, as. suage his pains, as shall seem to thee most expedient for him. And forasmuch as he putteth his full trust only in thy mercy, impute not unto him his former sins; but strengthen him with thy blessed spirit : and when thou art pleased to take him hence, take him unto thy favour, through the merits of thy most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord.'' Amen.
After this collect the Minister may speak to the Sick Person in some such manner as the following, and then say the se venty-first psalm.
* “ The Minister who visits the sick, must be the best judge when this can be applied without any alteration to the case of the Person, whom he may aitend," says Dr. Stonbouse in his “ Sick Man's Friend.” Note in Page 146.
Having now, dearly beloved, given you assurance, that your sins are forgiven, if your faith and repentance be so true and sincere (which God alone, and not man can know) that amendment of life will follow, if God shall think fit to grant you longer time in this world ; and having recommended you to the pardon and grace of God, I am “ directed by our church to say in your behalf part of the seventy-first psalm, which is very apt and proper to express a sick man's desires and wants, and at the same time to exercise his faith, to inflame his love, to uphold his patience, and to revive his hopes
1. In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust, let me never be put to confusion, but rid me and deliver me in thy righteousness; incline thine ear unto me, and -save me.
2. Be thou a strong hold, whereunto I may alway resort: thou hast promised to help me, for thou art my house of defence and my castle.
3. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the ungodly: out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.
4. For thou, O Lord, art the thing
* Wheatley. Page 418.