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THE COMMINATION. The former part of this Service-the “Commination" properly so called-was composed in 1549; the latter part is borrowed from the Benedictio Cinerum appointed in the old Manual for Ash Wednesday. In 1549 the Service was fixed for Ash Wednesday only; in 1552 for “divers times in the year;" in 1662 the present direction was substituted. The introduction of the Commination-which is (be it observed) not an invoking of God's curse on sin, but simply a warning that it must rest on sin, till penitence follows-was, no doubt, thought seasonable at the time when compulsory Auricular Confession was passing away, especially to meet a certain tendency to neglect God's Law, on pretence of the sufficiency of faith alone. Hence its austere severity, breathing perhaps the spirit of the old Testament (from which most of its language is drawn) more than the New
In the RUBRIC the word "reading pew was introduced in 1662, for the first time recognising its existence (traceable since 1569) in the Church. (A) THE COMMINATION ITSELF.
rule, and on Private Confession
and Absolution as the exception. The INTRODUCTION refers to the primitive discipline of public
Of the COMMINATION SENConfession and Penance inflicted
TENCES the first seven are selecton notorious offenders, especially
ed from Deut. xxvii. 15--26, the at the opening of Lent, with a
solemn roll of curses to be proriew to Absolution and restora
nounced from Mount Ebal. They tion to Communion at Easter.
condemn the breach of the vaThis gradually gave place, first, to
rous Commandments of the Seprivate Confession (beginning in
cond Table. The eighth is, from the case of sins of which it was
Jer. xvii. 5, against the ungodli. a scandal to speak) to a Priest
ness of a mere worldly life; and specially appointed as a "Peni.
the ninth is directed against an tentiary;” and then to system
agglomeration of the various sins atic Private Confession and
of the flesh, condemned everyAbsolution, made a regular part
where in Holy Scripture. The of Christian life, and a necessary
Amen at the end of eachpreparation for Holy Commu
since they are declarations and nion, and exalted to the dignity
not imprecations-must be taken of a Sacrament. When this was
to mean “So it is," not“ So be abolished as obligatory, the Re
it, “affirming the curse of God formers of the 16th century,
to be due." It will be observed being stern upholders of discip
that the denunciation is only of line, desired (as this Exhorta
impenitent sinners, and that, tion shows) to return to the
stern as it is, it is intended to substance of the primitive prac
lead up to the most gracious tice. Finding this impracticable,
promises of pardon to repent. they inserted this solemn Ser.
ance. vice of Warning; falling back, The EXHORTATION, although at the same time, on the General it is really a succession of quotaConfession and Absolution as a tions from Holy Scripture, yet
OR DENOUNCING OF GOD'S ANGER AND JUDGMENTS AGAINST
With certain Prayers, to be used on the first Day of Lent, and at other times,
as the Ordinary shall appoint.
[ After Morning Prayer, the Litany ended according to the accustomed man.
ner, the Priest shall, in the Reading-Pew or Pulpit, say, BRETHREN, in the Primitive Church Min. Cursed is he that taketh reward
there was a godly discipline, that, to slay the innocent. at the beginning of Lent, such persons Ans. Amen. as stood convicted of notorious sin were Min. Cursed is he that putteth his put to open penance, and punished in trust in man, and taketh man for his this world, that their souls might be defence, and in his heart goeth from the saved in the day of the Lord ; and that
Lord. others, admonished by their example, Ans. Amen. might be the more afraid to offend.
Min. Cursed are the unmerciful, forInstead whereof, (until the said dis- nicators, and adulterers, covetous percipline may be restored again, which sons, idolaters, slanderers, drunkards, is much to be wished,) it is thought and extortioners. good, that at this time in the presence
Ans. Amen. of you all) should be read the general sentences of God's cursing against im
Minister. penitent sinners, gathered out of the seven and twentieth Chapter of Deuter- | NOW seeing that all they are accurs
ed (as the prophet David beareth onomy, and other places of Scripture ;
witness) who do err and go astray from and that ye should answer to every
the commandments of God ; let us Sentence, Amen: To the intent that, be
(remembering the dreadful judgment ing admonished of the great indignation hanging over our heads, and always of God against sinners, ye may the ræ
ready to fall upon us) return unto our ther be moved to earnest and true re
Lord God, with all contrition and meekpentance; and may walk more warily
ness of heart ; bewailing and lamenting in these dangerous days; fleeing from
our sinful life, acknowledging and consuch vices, for which ye affirm with
fessing our offences, and seeking to your own mouths the curse of God to
bring forth worthy fruits of penance. be due.
For now is the ax put unto the root of
the trees, so that every tree that bringCURSED is the man that maketh any carved or molten image, to wor
eth not forth good fruit is hewn down, ship it.
and cast into the fire. It is a fearful
thing to fall into the hands of the livT And the people shall answer and say,
ing God : he shall pour down rain upon
the sinners, snares, fire and brimstone, Amen.
storm and tempest ; this shall be their Min. Cursed is he that curseth his portion to drink. For lo, the Lord is father or mother.
come out of his place to visit the wickAns. Amen.
edness of such as dwell upon the earth. Min. Cursed is he that removeth his But who may abide the day of his comneighbour's land-mark,
ing? Who shall be able to endure when Ans. Amen.
he appeareth ? His fan is in his hand, Min. Cursed is he that maketh the and he will purge his floor, and gather blind to go out of his way.
his wheat into the barn ; but he will Ans. Amen.
burn the chat with unquenchable fire. Min. Cursed is he that perverteth the The day of the Lord cometh as a thief judgment of the stranger, the father- in the night : and when men shall say, less, and widow.
Peace, and all things are safe, then shali Ans. Amen.
sudden destruction come upon them, as Min. Cursed is he that smiteth his sorrow cometh upon a woman travailneighbour secretly.
ing with child, and they shall not esAns. Amen.
cape. Then shall appear the wrath of Min. Cursed is he that lieth with his God in the day of vengeance, which neighbour's wife.
obstinate sinners, through the stubAns. Amen.
bornness of their heart, have heaped preserves a singular coherency the other six being now used as and force, and a no less remark. Proper Psalms for Ash Wednesable fervour and spirituality of day. It is the Psalm of David's tone. It is, first, (a) a declaration penitence after his great sin, and of the sure and searching cha- has been for centuries the deepracter of God's judgments, fall- est and most fervent expression ing suddenly on the wilfully blind of “the godly sorrow which and impenitent, and vainly de- worketh repentance unto salvaprecated in remorse, when the tion." For, while it is full of hour of repentance has passed profound humility, of sense of away. (See Mat. iii. 8, 10; Ps. xi. sin, and of the most intense 7; Mal. iii. 2; Mat. iii. 12; 1 Thes. supplication for the cleansing V.3; Prov. i. 28-30; Mat. xxv. and renewing grace of the Holy 10, 11, 31). (6) Next a call to Spirit, it still cherishes an timely penitence, while the day unshaken faith in God's unof salvation lasts, enforced by failing mercy, a sure hope of the most gracious promises of restoration through that mercy forgiveness from Old Testament to purity and gladness, and a prophecy (see 2 Cor. vi. 2; John confidence that He will accept ix. 4, 5; xii. 36; Is. i. 18; Ezek. the sacrifice of a broken and xviii. 30-32). (c) Lastly, the contrite heart. In these lies the Gospel call to faith in the Lord distinction between true repent. Jesus Christ, our Advocate, as ance and remorse, and to us ready to receive and willing to these convictions should be even pardon, calling us to take His more vivid than to David, beyoke upon us and find rest, cause we know the perfect Atonepromising us a place on His ment of the Lord Jesus Christ. right hand and His blessing at The SERVICE OF PRAYER then the Great Day (1 John ii. 1, 2;
opens, as usual, with the Kyrie Is. liii. 5, 6; Matt. xi. 29, 30; and the Lord's Prayer. xxv. 33, 34). Nothing can more fully express
The VERSICLES are again like the threefola
those of the other Occasional "conviction of Sin, Righteous. ness, and Judgment" given by
Services, with, however, the
insertion of the fifth and sixth, the Holy Spirit (John xvi. 7
which are especially penitential 11).
(from Ps. lxxix. 9). (B) THE SERVICE OF SUPPLI
Of the COLLECTS, the former
(a) is a simple prayer for God's CATION.
absolution to those who feel and The RUBRIC mentions the confess their sins; the latter (6) place “where they are accus- is a fuller and more fervent tomed to say the Litany.” This expression of the same prayer, is shown by the Injunctions of opening (like that of the Ash 1549 to be in "the midst of the
Wednesday and Good Friday Church," so as to mark the con- Collects) with a preamble of gregational character of the confidence in God's mercy to all Service; and it became custom- that He has made, and crying to ary to place there a “Litany- Him to forgive, to receive and desk"for the officiating Minister comfort, to spare our weakness or Ministers.
and misery even in chastisement, The PSALM (the 51st) is one of and to prepare us for comme the Seven Penitential Psalms nion with Him in the world to appointed in the old Manual- come.
diction of his Father, conımanding us to take possession of his glorious kinydom: Unto which he vouchsafe to bring us all, for his infinite mercy. Amen.
anto themselves; which despised the goodness, patience, and long-sufferance of God, when he calleth them continually to repentance. Then shall they call upon me, (saith the Lord,) but I will pot hear; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me ; and that, because they hated knowledge, and received not the fear of the Lord, but abhorred my counsel, and despised my correction. Then shall it be too late to knock when the door shall be shut; and
Then shall they all kneel upon their knees, and the Priests and Clerks kneeling (in the place where they are accustomed to say the Litany) shall say this Psalm.
Miserere mei, Deus. Psalm 51.
time of justice. O terrible voice of most thy great goodness : according to just judgment, which shall be pro- the multitude of thy mercies do away nounced upon them, when it shall be mine offences. said unto them, Go, ye cursed, into the Wash me throughly from my wickedfire everlasting, which is prepared for ness : and cleanse me from my sin. the devil and his angels. Therefore, For I acknowledge my faults : and brethren, take we heed betime, while my sin is ever before me. the day of salvation lasteth ; for the Against thee only have I sinned, and night cometh, when none can work. done this evil in thy sight : that thou But let us, while we have the light, be- mightest be justified in thy saying, and lieve in the light, and walk as chil- clear when thou art judged. dren of the light; that we be not cast Behold, I was shapen in wickedness : into utter darkness, where is weeping and in sin hath my mother conceived and gnashing of teeth. Let us not ne. abuse the goodness of God, who calleth But lo, thou requirest truth in the us mercifully to amendment, and of his inward parts: and shalt make me to endless pity promiseth us forgiveness of understand wisdom secretly. that which is past, if with a perfect and Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, true heart we return unto him. For and I shall be clean : thou shalt wash though our sins be as red as scarlet, me, and I shall be whiter than snow. they shall be made white as snow; and Thou shalt make me hear of joy and though they be like purple, yet they gladness : that the bones which thou shall be made white as wool. Turn ye hast broken may rejoice. (saith the Lord) from all your wicked- Turn thy face away from my sins : ness, and your sin shall not be your and put out all my misdeeds. destruction : Cast away from you all Make me a clean heart, O God : and your ungodliness that ye have done : renew a right spirit within me. Make you new hearts, and a new spirit: Cast me not away from thy preWherefore will ye die, O ye house of gence : and take not thy Holy Spirit Israel, seeing that I have no pleasure in from me. the death of him that dieth, saith the O give me the comfort of thy help Lord God ? Turn ye then, and ye shall again : and stablish me with thy free live. Although we have sinned, yet Spirit. have we an Advocate with the Father, Then shall I teach thy ways unto the Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is wicked : and sinners shall be converted the propitiation for our sins. For he unto thee. was wounded for our offences, and Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O smitten for our wickedness. Let us God, thou that art the God of my therefore return unto him, who is the health : and my tongue shall sing of merciful receiver of all true penitent thy righteousness. sinners ; assuring ourselves that he is Thou shalt open my lips, O Lord : ready to receive us, and most willing and my mouth shall shew thy praise. to pardon us, if we come unto him with For thou desirest no sacritice, else faithful repentance ; if we submit our- would I give it thee : but thou delightselves unto him, and from henceforth est not in burnt-offerings. walk in his ways; if we will take his The sacrifice of God is a troubled easy yoke, and light burden upon us, spirit : a broken and contrite heart, O to follow him in lowliness, patience, God, shalt thou not despise. and charity, and be ordered by the o be favourable and gracious unto governance of his Holy Spirit ; seeking Sion : build thou the walls of Jerusaalways his glory, and serving him duly lemn. in our vocation with thanksgiving : Then shalt thou be pleased with This if we do, Christ will deliver us the sacrifice of righteousness, with the from the curse of the law, and from the burnt-offerings andoblations: then shall extreme malediction which shall light they offer young bullocks upon thine upon them that shall be set on the left altar. hand ; and he will set us on his right Glory be to the Father, and to the hand, and give us the gracious bene- Sonand to the Holy Ghost
The CONFESSION, called comparison with those of the
Anthem” (or Antiphon) in Morning and Communion Ser1549, is drawn almost entirely vices, it is perhaps of even from the expressions of penis greater intensity, but of less tence in the Old Testament (see comprehensiveness of idea. Lam. v. 21 ; Joel ii. 12, 13, 17, &c.) The BLESSING, added in 1662, It is one of great fervour in con- is a shortened form of the old fession of sin, expression of sor- Jewish Blessing (Num. vi. 24– row, and cry for pardon. In 26).