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ON THE EXHORTATION THAT FOLLOWS THE
SENTENCES, AT THE OPENING OF MORNING AND EVENING SERVICE.
To the passages adduced from Holy Scripture, 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 becomes them to cultivate and maintain during the season of solemn worship.
• Dearly beloved Brethren, the scripture mov“eth 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, low
ly, penitent, and obedient heart, to the end that • we may obtain forgiveness of the same by His • infinite goodness and mercy. And altho' 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 requi. • site 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 to 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 authorize 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.t The manner in which he writes to the Philippians, is still more remarkable, and deserves to be quoted at Jarge : • Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved
* Chap. xii. 19. + 1 Epist. x. 14.
and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.'t 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 6 moved • by the Holy Ghost to take upon them an office • and ministration to serve God for the promot• ing of his glory, and the edifying of his peo
ple,'' are by the same Holy Ghost endued with an hearty zeal for God's glory, and an affectionate regard for the souls of men. Surely therefore, our dearly beloved brethren,' that 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
$ Chap. iv. 1. See also 1 Pet. ii. 11.
Common prayer book, ordering of Deacons.
or fall; we feel ourselves bound by the law of love to deal faithfully with the consciences of our hearers, and 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 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 they hear are the words of truth and of soberness ! If the Minister speak the truth in love, let it be remembered, that • he who despiseth, despiseth not man, but God.'t · 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 sun• dry places to acknowledge and confess our o 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 6 whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have
* Acts xvii. 11.
+ 1 Thes. iv. 8.
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 mani. • fold' transgressions. They are only fully known to Him, 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 its utmost deformity, 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, sup. posing that all others were confessed, if there is one still standing out against you to condemn
you ? Though you are not an adulterer, a foro nicator, 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
* Prov. xxviii, 13,