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4: ibe beginning of Evening Prayer, the Minifter shall read with a loud voice Jeme one or more of these Sentences of the Scriptures that follow: and iben be fball say that which is written after the said sentences.
'HEN the wicked man turneth away from his
wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth
that which is lawful and right, he shall save his foul alive. Ezek. xviii.
27: 2. I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Pfal. li. 3.
3. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Ver. 9.
PARA P H R AS E. " W ,
Henever the finner, by a sincere repentance shall return to God, fons of his past life, for, ( as it appears from the whole tenour of that chapter of Ezekiel from whence this verle is taken) as those who have persevered in the habitual practice of virtue, fall forfeit the favour of the Almighty, if they deviate into the paths of fin and destroy their souls, notwith Landing their former righteousness; fo Mall a wicked man, if he reforms and returns to God, be restored to the divine favour, and rescue his soul from those miseries which are the consequences of unrepented guilt.
2. I do not deny or attempt to palliate my offences, but, with grief and confusion, acknowledge them ; letting them make so deep an impression upon me, as to be contantly present to my mind, and ever before my eyes.
j. O Lord, out of thy readiness to pardon fin, do thou, as it were, oreilook my offence: and upon my sincere repentance, in which I im
4. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit : a brokeri and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Ver. 17.
5. Rent your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God : for he is gracious and merciful, Now to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Foel ii. 13.
6. To the Lord our God belong mercies, and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him: neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws which he fet before us. Dan. ix. 9, 10.
7. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment ; not in thine anger, left thou bring me to nothing. Jer. x. 24. Pf. vi. 1.
8. Repent ye; for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. St Mait, iii. 2.
PA RA PHRASE. plore the aftitance of thy grace, blot cut mine iniquities from the book wherein they ítand recorded again't me.
4. God is better pleased with a contrite heart which is truly affected, on account of pait fins, and well disposed to forsake them, than with the most pom pous facrifices which could be offered according to the legal infti. tutions. For a broken heart, i. l. a heart dejected by extreme grief, (!la. Ixi. 1.) which always attends a fincere repentance, is a sacrifice whicla God will not reject or delprse, as he does the formal facrifices of wicked and hypocritical men.
5. You muit be hearcily, and unfeignedly forry for your fins, and not content yourselves with a theatrical expression of sorrow, by external sign's and geitures such-as the renting of garments were, of which custom many examples occur in scripture ; for the graciousness, the tender mercy, the long luffering, and benignity of God, give finners the strongest grounds no hope for pardon, upon their return to him: he does likewise, as it lere, repent hiin of the evil which he inflicts on men, where he is resolved to withdraw it in confequence of their repentance.
6. God is a being of so merciful and forgiving a nature, that he is well dispored to pardon us, tho' we have erer fo grievously offended him ; and tho' we have, as it were, revolted from our allegiance to him, by a notosious violation of his laws, which we were bound to observe, yet he is Aill willing to forgive us.
7. O Lord, I beleech thee, do not chaftise me with the anger of an enemy, but with the clemency of a merciful judge, for I hould be totally confumed, if thou should it proceed with me according to rigid justice, and as my offences have deserved.
8. Repent of your fins, and endeavour to reconcile yourselves to God before Christ's glorious kingdom begins; it will be preceded by the uni
9. I will arise, and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and before thre, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. St Luke XV. 18, 19.
10. Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord ; for in thy fight shall no man living be justified. Ps. cxliii. 2.
11. If we say that we have no lin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us : but if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 St John i. 8, 9.
Early beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us in
fundry places to acknowledge and confefs our manitold fins and wickedness: and that we should not dirsemble, nor cloke them before the face of Almighty God
PA RA PHRASE. versal judgment, and should you be fummoned thither, without having firft repented of your fins, you can expect nothing but perdition.
9. I will follow the example of the prodigal fon, and prefied down with the guilt and misery which my fins have brought upon me, return to thy heavenly Father, and acknowledge the heinous offences whereby I have justly forfeited the relation which he bore unto me.
10. O Lord, do not call me ftri&tly to an account for my actions, or, according to the Hebrew phrase, do not go to law with me, or carry me before thy tribunal ; for fouldê thou view all things thro' the rigour of chy juftice, the most virtuous man's life cannot stand the test, nay, every man living must be indebted to thy mercy for being acquitted.
11. This life being a state fo very imperfect, that we are all subject to great failure ; to allere that we are in a itate of perfection and entirely free from fio, is a notorious falfhood, and a thing unbecoming the truth and implicity of our religion : but if we acknowledge our sins before God, aed sincerely repent of them, God, out of his faithfulness and jultice, will, opon our complying with those conditions, perform the promise he made us on that behalf, by pardoning them: and will prelerve us, for the future, from any grofs
' sin, by granting us the afli fange of his Holy Spirit, which will confirm and establish us in every good work.
1. My dear fellow christians, the holy scriptures, for whose authority oard ail true believers profess the higheft veneration, not only in the Several paffages which I have just read to you but in feveral other places, exhurt as to confess unto God the innumerable violations of his sacred laws, whereof we are guilty: add to this, that it is the heighth of folly for us In hope to difle mble, or extenuate them, so as to deceive the all-searching
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. 2. And although we ought at all times humbly to acknowledge our fins before God, yet ought we moit chiefly so to do, when we afsemble and meet together, to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received at
PA RA PHRASE. eye of God, who sees the real nature of every thing. Nor should we be guilty of so vile an act of hypocrisy, as, notwithstanding our manifold fins, publicly in the church, in the presence of God and his holy angels, to stand upon our justification : but if we discharge the duty of sincere christians, we must perform these three parts of true repentance : first, with an humble and lowly heart make confession of our fins to God, with a dejection of spirit, and a confusion equal to that of the publican, who stood afar off, and would not lift up his eyes to heaven : secondly, to this we should add a true penitent sorrow of mind, for having offended so good a Being, and brought ourselves into such great danger : finally, all these confiderations Tould give us such a disguit against our fins, as to make us form a resolution to pay an uniform obedience to the laws of God for the time to come, If in this manner we repent of our fins, we shall have just grounds to hope, that God will pardon them. But ftill we fould not infagine that even a repentance, fo circumftantiated, will give us any elaim to merit, whereby we may be intitled to impunity of our fins : for that we must be indebted to the infinite goodness and mercy of God, reached out to us in the mystery of our redemption, and by the sufferings of our blefied Saviour Jesus Christ.
2. And tho' we ought at all times, or in those more frequent courses of private devotion, which are enjoined us by our religion, to discharge this duty of religion, as it is one of the most important parts of prayer; it cannot be denied, that there is a more particular reason for making use of it in the solemn asemblies of chwistians in the church, where they meet together to perform the four great parts of religious worship; first, thankrgiving for favours and mercies already received : secondly, praises and adorations of the perfections and goodness of the Almighty : thirdly, hearing the word of God read and preached : fourthly, petition or de firing of God both spiritual and temporal blessings. But we cannot rightly discharge any of these public duties. without the confeftion of our lins, and the other neceffary parts of true repentance. As long as we continue to abuse the mercies of God, we cannot thank him as we ought : we cannot praise and admire his excellencies, of which, in an veregene. rate state, we can have but a faint idea ; whild we retain all our carnal affections, we cannot devoutly listen to the word of God: nor can we hope that our prayers will prove acceptable, when by the wickedness of our Hves, they ałe rendered an abeininatio. unto Godo
3. I there
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. fore I pray and beseech you, as many as are here present, to accompany me with a pure heart and humble voice, unto the throne of the heavenly grace, saying after me.
A general Confeson, to be said of the whole Congregation,
after the Minister, all kneeling. LMIGHTY, and most merciful Father.
have erred and strayed from thy ways like loft sheep. 3. We have followed too much the devices and de
PA RA PHRASE. 3. I therefore earnesty desire of every one of you, (whether laymen or ciergvmen) to address yourselves with me to God, in fervent prayer ; which I, as God's minister, offer up to the throne of his grace,
both for myfelf and you ; this I do not do alone, as the priests were wont to do under the Jewish dispensation, in which circumstance they have been imitated by the papists, but I desire you who are possessed of higher priviledges, by virtue of Christ's covenant, to accompany me thither ; repeating after De the words prescribed by the church on this occasion : intreating you, at the same time, to manifelt in your devotion, sincerity, attention, and gravity, the genuine effects of a pure heart, and to behave in every respect in a manner worthy the devout worship of God; taking particular care in your responses as well to avoid a loud, clamorous voice, as an inarticulate motion of the lips ; and that you use a low and humble tone of voice pro-, perly adapted to this folemnity.
1. O Lord, we address ourselves unto thee on account of those attrikutes of thine, which incline thee to pardon Inners, thy Omnipotence, by which thou art endowed with sufficient power to help us ; and thy mercy, whereby thou art always ready to do it: having likewise a confia debe expectation of forgiveness from that relation of father-hood, which thou dost bear to us, as thou art plealed thyself to acknowledge.
2. We must, to our shame, acknowledge that we have, by our fins of furprise and infirmity, erred and deviated from the path of our daty, and at other times ftray'd and made larger excursions from shofe way's
which the holy religion, by thee revealed, has chalked out to us to walk in; and this, to use the comparifon of our Saviour, after the manner of loft heep that ftraggle from their thepherd, and are thereby exposed to innumerable dangers.
3. We acknowledge that we have too frequently yielded to those un. lawful desires, to which we have been prompted by our corrupt nature and L'iginal deprasity