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mind for which our church teaches us to pray as rioting and drunkenness. It would be an act of insobriety for a pauper, supported by the parish, to consider himself and act as a person of independent fortune. It is equally so for a poor bankrupt sinner to justify himself before God. We then "think soberly of ourselves as
we ought to think," when, renouncing our own righteousness, we adopt the language used in the confession of our church, as expressing the genuine feelings of our own hearts.-Sobriety also signifies a sober, recollected mind, as opposed to intemperance or sensuality. It consists in a denial of worldly lusts. It is opposed not only to drunkenness, gluttony, and lewdness, but to all intemperate use of present things. Very awful are our Lord's words, "Take heed "to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be "overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, "and cares of this life, and so that day come.
upon you unawares." A man may be intoxicated with the pleasures, profits, and honours of this world, who is otherwise sober, temperate, and chaste. A man of true sobriety has his affections set upon things above, not "on things on the earth."† "His treasure is "in heaven, and there is his heart also." He is instructed to make it his main object 66 so to "pass through things temporal as finally not to "lose the things which are eternal."
A true penitent is cordially desirous of living "a Godly, righteous, and sober life." He is conscious that his own strength is perfect weakness, and therefore applies earnestly to Him for grace who has promised to bestow it. "Having
• Luke xxi. 34. + Col. iii. 2.
Matth. vi. 21.
"much forgiven, he loves much;" and there, fore is solicitous to spend his time, and employ his talents," to the glory of God's most holy "name." O that every member of our communion may thus manifest the sincerity of the confessions which he makes!
The use which our church makes of Jesus Christ must not be omitted. To Him she continually leads the attention of her children. When she teaches us to pray for sanctifying grace, we are reminded that it is " for His sake' only that we can expect a favourable answer to our prayers. His death is represented as the exclusive ground of hope to a guilty sinner, to whom an offended God can shew mercy only "through Jesus Christ our Lord." Every humble soul will say "Amen."
On the Absolution.
HE act of ministerial absolution has been
the subject of much warm and contentious disputation. On the one hand it has been asserted, that the power of forgiving sins, conferred by our Lord on His Apostles, was personal with respect to them, and with them expired; their successors in the ministry being destitute of the proper qualifications for so high and important an office. On the other hand it has been argued, that the wants of the church being the same, there is no more reason to confine this part of the sacred function to persons acting under immediate inspiration than any other. Controversy is not the business of these essays. There is happily neutral ground, on which we may stand in safety without engaging with either of the contending parties. And surely on such a subject, if it be possible, all disputation should be silenced; and if any sound be heard, it should not be the din of warlike debate, but the groan of penitence, or the murmur of joy, occasioned by the gracious sentence of acquittal from the guilt of those sins which, without a pardon, would have changed the unhappy noise of religious controversy into weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. There is nothing in the absolution of our church that needs defence. It makes no pretensions,
that border on the arrogant claims of the chair of St. Peter. It is merely declaratory and conditional. As ambassadors for God, His ministers therein proclaim. His readiness to receive all those who with hearty repentance and true "faith turn unto Him."
Almighty God, the Father of our Lord "Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from "his wickedness and live; and hath given power "and commandment to His ministers to declare "and pronounce to His people, being penitent, "the absolution and remission of their sins: He "pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly "repent, and unfeignedly believe His holy Gospel. Wherefore let us beseech Him to grant us true repentance, and His holy Spirit, "that those things may please Him which we "do at this present, and that the rest of our "life hereafter may be pure and holy; so that "at the last we may come to His eternal joy, "through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
While the consciences of sinners remain in a state of torpid insensibility, they are easily satisfied with respect to the pardon of their sins, of which they have never seen the evil, nor felt the burden. A stupified devotee to papal infallibility acquiesces, without difficulty, in the supposititious right of the holy see to remit, by its own authority, sins that are past, present, and yet to come. Lulled by this syren song, he suffers his days to glide on in careless security, without any serious inquiries whether the great Judge of all will confirm the sentence of his pretended vicar. A Protestant formalist, from
the same cause, and with the same facility, quiets the clamours of conscience, if at intervals conscience become clamorous, with proposed intentions of making atonement for past miscarriages by future amendment. The generality of nominal Christians pacify themselves with undefined notions of God's mercy, without any warrant whatever from the word of God, But it is not so with those who know that “ the
wages of sin is death;" who feel the value of their souls to be so great, that the loss of them could not be compensated by gaining the whole world; and who realize that tremendous day, when “ the dead, small and great, shall stand “ before God, when the books shall be opened, " and the dead be judged out of those things “ which are written in the books, according to “ their works ; * when every work shall be
brought into judgment, with every secret
thing, whether it be good, or whether it be “ evil.” † Vague and indeterminate ideas of the mercy of God will not satisfy those, whose consciences are quickened by the Spirit of God to a perception of the holiness and righteousness of the Divine nature, the spirituality of the Divine law, and the truth of the Divine threatenings. The sinner who has described the corrupt state of his own heart, the iniquities of his life, and his apprehensions of God's displeasure, in the terms of our confession, without duplicity'or mental reservation, must have some decisive views of the scripture-doctrine of absolution, before he can abandon himself to repose. Our reformers have therefore judiciously indicated, at the commencement of the form of
* Rev. xx. 12.
✓ Eccles. xii. 14.