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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.
VICAR OF BRENT AND FURNEUX PELHAM IN
Oftendas Populo Ceremonias et Ritum colendi.
Exod. xvii. 20. Vulg.
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 paffage particularly, which I know has been thought to need the greatest amendment, 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 Absolution in the daily Morning and Evening Service, which I have asserted to be “ an “ actual Conveyance of Pardon, at the very instant of
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 66 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 Vifitation of the Sick, where they are thought to be more consistent with Scripture and Antiquity. I have there endeavoured to thew that “ 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.
“ God, and as to which the cenfure of the Church
giveness of Sin as it relates to him d.
asserted to be effective, and that it insures and conveys, to the proper subjects thereof, the very Absolution or Remiffion itself: but then I defire 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 ĠOD, so solemnly declares to a Congregation that has been humbly confessing their Sins, and importuning the Remiffion 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 prefume 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 Absolution to be pronounced, as this is, to the Congregation in general. But yet, if they had Absolutions upon any occasion, and those Absolutions 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