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BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER
CHURCH OF ENGLAND:
Being the Substance of every Thing Liturgical in Bishop SPARROW,
Mr. L'Estrange, Dr. COMBER, Dr. Nichols, and all former
CHARLES WHEATLY, M. A.YEY
VICAR OF BRENT AND FURNEUX PELHAM IN
Oftendas Populo Ceremonias et Ritum colendi.
. Exod. xviii. 20. Vulg.
PRE F A C E.
THE following Edition being printed from one of those
which had received the Author's last corrections, it is thought unnecessary to repeat here the former part of his Preface relating chiefly to the alterations which he had made in his former Editions, as they followed each other. The latter part, containing a studied defence of his Opinion on an important Subject, is in justice to the Author here preserved in his own words, as follows: .
And this I take to be the proper place to explain myself in relation to one passage particularly, which I know has been thought to need the greatest amend. ment, though I have let it stand without making any. And indeed an Explanation of it is so much the more needful, as it is not only judged to be indefensible in itself, but also to be inconsistent with what I have said in another part of the book. The passage I mean, is concerning the Abfolution in the daily Morning and Evening Service, which I have asserted to be " an “ actual Conveyance of Pardon, at the very instant of 6 pronouncing it, to all that come within the terms “ proposeda.” And again, “ that it is more than DE“ CLARATIVE, that it is truly EFFECTIVE, insuring
and conveying to the proper subjects thereof the very " Absolution or Remission itself b." This has been thought by fome, from whose judgment I should be very unwilling to differ or recede, not only to carry the point higher than can be maintained; but also to be irreconcileable with my own notions of Absolution, as I have described them upon the office for the Vic fitation of the Sick, where they are thought to be more consistent with Scripture and Antiquity. I have there endeavoured to Thew that 6 there is no standing au“ thority in the Ministers of the Gospel to pardon and “ forgive Sins immediately and directly in relation to • Page 115. Page 120.
“ God, and as to which the censure of the Church s had been in no wise concerned." And again, that - no Absolution pronounced by the Church can cleanse 6 or do away our inward Guilt, or remit the eternal “ Penalties of Sin, which are declared to be due to “ it by the Sentence of God; any farther than by 6 the Prayers which are appointed to accompany it, " and by the use of those Ordinances to which it “ restores us, it may be a means, in the end, of ob«taining our pardon from God himself, and the For6 giveness of Sin as it relates to him d.” These pafsages, I acknowledge, as they are separated from their contexts, and opposed to one another, seem a little inconsistent and confusedly expressed: but if each of them are read in their proper places, and with that distinction of ideas which I had framed to myself when I writ them, I humbly presume they may be easily reconciled, and both of them asserted with equal truth. I desire it may be remembered that in the latter place I am speaking of a judicial and unconditional Absolution, pronounced by the Minister in an Indicative Form, as of certain advantage to the person that receives it. By this I have supposed the Church never intends to cleanse or do away our inward Guilt, but only to exercise an external authority, founded upon the power of the Keys ; which, though it may be absolute, as to the inflicting and remitting the censures of the Church, I could not understand peremptorily to determine the state of the Sinner in relation to God. And thus far I have the happiness to have the concurrence of good judges on my fide ; so that it is only in what I affert on the Daily Abfolution, that I have the misfortune not to be accounted so clear. But, with humble submission, I can fee nothing there inconsistent with what I have said on the other. The Absolution I am speaking of is conditional, pronounced by the Priest in a Declarative Form, and limited to such as truly repent, and unfeign-, edly believe God's holy Gospel. This indeed I have - Page 451. d Page 452.
asserted to be effective, and that it insures and conveys, to the proper subjects thereof, the very Abfolution or Remiffion itself: but then I desire it may be remembered that I attribute the effect of it not to a judicial, but to a ministerial act in the person who pronounces it : but to such an act however as is founded upon the general tenor of the Gospel, which supposes, if I mistake not, that God always accompanies the Ministrations of the Priest, if there be no impediment on the part of the People. And therefore when the Priest, in the Name of God, so solemnly declares to a Congregation that has been humbly confefsing their Sins, and importuning the Remission of them, that God does actually pardon all that truly repent and unfeignedly believe ; why may not such of them as do repent and believe, humbly presume that their Pardon is fealed as well as made known by such a declaration ?
I am sure this notion gives no encouragement either of Presumption to the Penitent, or of Arrogance to the Priest: I have supposed that, to receive any benefit from the form, the person must come within the terms required : and such a one, though the form should have no effect, is allowed notwithstanding to be pardoned and absolved. And the Priest I have asserted to act only ministerially, as the instrument of Providence; that he can neither withhold, nor apply, the Absolution as he pleases, nor so much as know upon whom or upon how many it shall take effect, but that he only pronounces what God commands, whilft God himself ratifies the declaration, and seals the Pardon which he proclaims.
It is true indeed, it does not appear by the ancient Liturgies, that the Primitive Christians had any such Abfolution to be pronounced, as this is, to the Congregation in general. But yet, if they had Absolutions upon any occasion, and those Abfolutions were supposed to procure a Reconcilement with God; (neither of which, I presume, will be thought to want a proof;) I see no reason why they may not be usefully admitted (as they are with us) into the Daily and Ordinary Service of the Church. For allowing that the persons they were
whiceafon why this to the Daily ane persons they werly