« PreviousContinue »
this spiritual authority be backed with the secular, it must be used according to the measures of its establishment, and for the good of the church in general, and of the sinner in particular ; that is, although the person be not as a heathen, and excommunicate by the church's sentence, yet he must be rejected for a time, and thrust into repentance, and measures of satisfaction; and as he must not refuse, so must not the minister of the sacrament otherwise admit him; and in this sense it was, that St. Chrysostom' said, “ He would rather lose his life, than admit unworthy men to the Lord's table.”
7. But because piety hath suffered shipwreck, and al discipline hath been lost in the storm, and good manners have been thrown overboard; the best remedy in the world that yet remains, and is in use amongst the most pious sons and daughters of the church, is that they would conduct their repentance by the continual advices and ministry of a spiritual guide ; for by this alone, or principally, was the pris mitive piety and repentances advanced to the excellency, which we often admire, but seldom imitate. And the event will be, that besides we shall be guided in the ways of holi, ness in general, we shall be at peace, as to the times and manner of receiving the holy sacrament, our penitential abs stentions, and seasonable returns: and we shall not so frequently feel the effects of the divine anger upon our persons, as a reproach of our folly, and the punishment of our un. worthy receiving the divine mysteries. And this was earnestly advised and pressed upon the people by the holy fathers, who had as great experience in their conduct, as they had zeal for the good of souls. “ Let no man say, I repent in private, I repent before God in secret. God, who alone does pardon, does know that I am contrite in heart. For was it in vain? was it said to no purpose, whatsoever ye shall loose in earth, shall be loosed in heaven?' We evacuate the Gospel of God, we frustrate the words of Christ:" so St. Austin_ “ And, therefore, when a man hath spoken the sentence of the most severe medicine, let him come to the presidents of the church, who are to minister in the power of the keys to him; and beginning now to be a good son, keeping the order of his mother, let him receive the measure and manner of his
Homil. 83. in Matth.
u Homil. 49.
repentance from the presidents of the sacraments?". Con cerning this thing, I shall never think it fit to dispute, for there is nothing to enforce it, but enough to persuade it; but he that tries, will find the benefit of it himself, and will be best able to tell it to all the world.
Penitential Soliloquies, Ejaculations, Exercises, and prepara
tory Prayers, to be used in all the Days of Preparation to the Holy Sacrament.
I. ALMIGHTY and eternal God, the Fountain of all virtue, the Support of all holy hopes, the Author of pardon, of life, and of salvation; thou art the Comforter of all that call upon thee: thou hast concluded all under sin, that thou mightest have mercy upon all. Look upon me, O God, and have pity on me, lying in my blood and misery, in my shame, and in my sins, in the fear and guilt of thy wrath, in the shadow of death, and in the gates of hell. I confess to thee, O God, what thou knowest already; but I confess it to manifest thy justice, and to glorify thy mercy, who hast spared me so long ;-that I am guilty of the vilest and basest follies, which usually dishonour the fools, and the worst of the sons of men.
II. I have been proud and covetous, envious and lustful, angry and greedy, indevout and irreligious; restless in my passions, sensual and secular, but hating wise counsels, and soon weary of the offices of a holy religion. I cannot give án account of my time, and I cannot reckon the sins of my tongue. My crimes are intolerable, and my imperfection shameful, and my omissions innumerable: and what shall I do, O thou Preserver of men? I am so vile, that I cannot express it; so sinful, that I am hateful to myself,—and much more abominable must I needs be in thy eyes. I have sinned against thee without necessity, sometimes without tempta
s Homil. 49.
tion, only because I would sin, and would not delight in the ways of peace. I have been so ungrateful, so foolish, so unreasonable, that I have put my own eyes ont, that I might, with confidence and without fear, sin against so good a God, so gracious a Father, so infinite a Power, so glorious a Majesty, so bountiful a Patron, and so mighty a Redeemer, that my sin is grown shameful, and aggravated even to amazement. I can say no more, I am ashamed, O God; I am amazed; I am confounded in thy presence.
III. But yet, O God, thou art the healer of our breaches, and the lifter up of our head, and I must not despair : and I am sure thy goodness is infinite, and thou dost not delight in the death of a sinner; and my sins, though very great, are infinitely less than thy mercies, which thou hast revealed to all penitent and returning sinners in Jesus Christ. I am not worthy to look up to heaven; but be thou pleased to look down into the dust, and lift up a sinner from the dunghill; let me not perish in my folly, or be consumed in thy heavy displeasure. Give me time and space to repent ; and give me powers of grace, and aids of thy Spirit; that as, by thy gifts and mercy, I intend to amend whatsoever is amiss, so I may indeed have grace and power faithfully to: fulfil the same. Inspire me with the spirit of repentance and mortification, that I may always fight against my sins, till I be more than conqueror. Support me with a holy hope; confirm me with an excellent, operative, and unreprovable faith ; and enkindle a bright and a burning charity in my soul. Give me patience in suffering, severity in judging and condemning my sin, and in punishing the sinner; that judging myself, I may not be condemned by thee : that mourning for my sins, I may rejoice in thy pardon; that killing my sin, I may live in righteousness; that denying my. own will, I may always perform thine; and by the methods of thy Spirit, I may overcome all carnal and spiritual wickednesses, and walk in tliy light, and delight in thy service, and perfect my obedience, and be wholly delivered from my sin, and for ever preserved from thy wrath -- and at last pass on from a certain expectation, to an actual fruition of the glories.
of thy kingdom, through Jesus Christ oor Lord. Amen, Amen, Amen.
1. I am in thy sight, O Lord, a polluted person; sin, like a crust of leprosy, hath overspread me: I am a scandal to others, a shame to myself, a reproach to my relations, a burden to the earth, a spot in the church, and deserve to be rejected and scorned by thee.
2. But this, O God, I cannot bear: it is just in thee to destroy me; but thou delightest not in that: I am guilty of death, but thou lovest rather that I should live.
3. O let the cry of thy Son's blood, who offers an eternal sacrifice to thee, speak on my behalf, and speak better things than the blood of Abel.
4. My conscience does accuse me, the devils rejoice in my fall, and aggravate my crimes, already too great; and thy Holy Spirit is grieved by me. But my Saviour Jesus died for me; and thou pitiest me; and thy Holy Spirit still calls upon me, and I am willing to come; but I cannot come, unless thou drawest me with the cords of love.
5. O draw me unto thee by the arguments of charity, by the endearments of thy mercies, by the order of thy providence, by the hope of thy promises, by the sense of thy comforts, by the conviction of my understanding, by the zeal and passion of holy affections, by an unreprovable faith, and an humble hope, by a religious fear, and an increasing love, by the obedience of precepts, and efficacy of holy example, by thy power and thy wisdom, by the love of thy Son, and the grace of thy Spirit. Draw me, O God; and I will run after thee, and the sweetnesses of thy precious ointments.
6. I am not worthy, O Lord, I am not worthy to come into thy presence, much less to eat the flesh: of the sacrificed Lamb, For my sins, O blessed Saviour Jesus, went along in confederation with the high priests, in treachery with Judas, in injustice with Pilate, in malice with the people.
7. My sins and the Jews crucified thee; my hypocrisy was the kiss that betrayed thee; my covetous and ambitious desires were the thorns that pricked thy sacred head; my vanity was the knee that mocked thee; my lasts disrobed thee, and made thee naked to shame and cruel scourgings; my anger and malice, my peevishness and revenge, were the
bitter gall which thou didst taste; my bitter words and cursed speaking, were the vinegar which thou didst drink; and my scarlet sins made for thee a purple robe of mockery and derision: and where shall I, vile wretch, appear, who have put my Lord to death, and exposed him to an open shame, and crucified the Lord of life?
8. Where should I appear, but before my Saviour, who died for them that have murdered him, who hath loved them that hated him, who is the Saviour of his enemies, and the ļife of the dead, and the redemption of captives, and the advocate for sinners, and all that we do need, and all that we can desire ?
9. Grant, that in thy wounds I may find my safety, --in thy stripes, my cure,- in thy pain, my peace, - in thy cross, my victory, -in thy resurrection, my triumph, — and a crown of righteousness in the glories of thy eternal kingdom. Amen, Amen.' :
St. Austin's penitential Prayer. · Before thy eyes, O gracious Lord, we bring our crimes; before thee we expose the wounds of our bleeding souls, That which we suffer, is but little; but that which we de. serve, is intolerable. We fear the punishment of our sins, but cease not pertinaciously to proceed in sinning. Our weakness is sometimes smitten with thy rod, but our iniquity is not changed ; our grieved mind is troubled, but our stiff neck is not bended with the flexures of a holy obedience; our life spends in vanity and trouble, but amends itself in nothing. When thou smitest us, then we confess our sin; but when thy visitation is past, then we forget that we have wept. When thou stretchest forth thy hand, then we promise to do our duty; but when thou takest off thy hand, we perform no promises. If thou strikest, we cry to thee to spare us; but when thou sparest, we again provoke thee to
• Thus, O God, the guilty confess before thee; and unless thou givest us pardon, it is but just that we perish. But, O Almighty God our Father, grant to us what we ask, even though we deserve it not; for thou madest us out of nothing, else we had not any power to ask:'- Pardon us, O gracious Father, and take away all our sin, and destroy the work of