New Directory for Public Worship (7)
CONFESSION OF SINS
Editor’s comment: The New Directory is very full in detailing public confession. It does so by giving both seed thoughts and examples of prayers under three headings: our sins against God, against our fellow men, and against the Gospel and the Holy Spirit.
Following these examples (given in a previous posting) the following appendices are included.
I will modernise as far as possible and conform scriptural quotations to the ESV.
It is sad that this rich liturgical tradition is now all but lost in evangelical presbyterian worship, which owes more to the historical influence of radical Cromwellian influences than to the Scottish Reformation.
The Reformation Confession of Sins, 1525.
Heavenly Father, merciful and everlasting God, we acknowledge and confess before your Divine Majesty that we are poor miserable [pitiable] sinners, conceived and brought forth in sin and corruption. We are prone to all evil. We cannot, without you, do anything that is good. And we daily, and in many ways, transgress your holy commandments. In doing so we provoke your anger against us, and draw down upon ourselves, by your just judgment, death and destruction.
But, O Lord, we repent and are sorry from our hearts that we have so displeased you. We condemn ourselves and our misbehaviour, and pray that your grace may bring help to our distress and misery.
Be pleased, therefore, to have mercy upon us, O most gracious God and Father. Forgive us all our sins, through the holy sufferings of your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive us our sins; and grant us now the gifts of your Holy Spirit. Increase these in us from day to day ; so that we, acknowledging with our whole hearts our own unrighteousness, may truly repent of such; that sin may be destroyed in us ; and that we may bring forth the fruits of righteousness and a pure life which are well pleasing to you, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
This Confession of Sins — "die offne Schuld," as itis called in German-speaking Reformed Churches — is ascribed to Oecolampadius, the friend of Zwingli, and the Reformer of Basel. It appears in the liturgy of the Protestant Church of Zurich, in 1525. It occurs in the French liturgy which was published by Calvin at Geneva, in 1541, but which had been drawn up by him previously, and had been used by Protestant pastors of Geneva for several years before it was printed.
It is the second " Confession of Sins " in the " Book of Geneva," used in that city in the English Congregation of which John Knox was minister. It is first in the Scottish Book of Common Order.
Calvin's Service- book, republished in Latin in 1545, was the chief source from which this Confession passed rapidly into use in the Reformed Church catholic, and even in several of the Lutheran Churches. It stands, for example, in the present Liturgy of the National Church of Würtemberg as the first Confession of Sins for Days of Fasting, being taken from the Service-book of the Church of the Palatinate.
It appears in English, among other prayers, at the end of an edition of Sternhold and Hopkins' Psalms, in 1566, under the title of "A Confession for all Estates and Times." Some writers have erroneously ascribed it to Beza, who used it in a striking scene at the Colloquy of Poissy, in 1561.
This ancient Confession of Sins is used in the Waldensian Church, both in the Valleys and in Italy. It is repeated in all the various branches of the Church of Holland and of the Church of the Huguenots, both in the Old World and in the New. It stands in all the Swiss, all the French, all the Rhineland Liturgies to this day. For almost four hundred years this Confession has been on the lips and in the heart of the Reformed Church all over the world.
The " General Confession " in the Anglican Communion Service, which appears in the first Prayerbook of Edward VI. (1549), is closely akin to the Reformation Confession of Sins, especially in the form given below, in which it appears in the document known as “Hermann's Consultation." The General Confession in the Morning and Evening Services of the Church of England is drawn, like much else in the Prayer-book, from Presbyterian sources. It comes from Calvin's Service-book of 1545 through the liturgies of Pollanus and Alasco. Comp. (Bannerman, Worship of the Presbyterian Churchy pp. 79, 80, and 1 1 3- 1 1 9, with the references there given. )
II. The Confession of Sins in "Hermann's Consultation," ed. 1545.
" How the Lord's Supper is to be celebrated.''
"When the people are gathered together for this action as it is in accordance with true piety that, as often as we appear before God in his Church, we should before all things acknowledge and confess our sins, and pray for forgiveness ; let the minister who is to dispense the Lord's Supper, when he comes to the altar, make confession in the name of the whole Church, and that in the German tongue, so that all may understand, after this manner :
Almighty, Everlasting God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men, we acknowledge and lament that we were conceived and born in sins, and so are prone to all evil and averse to all that is truly good. We have transgressed your holy commandments without measure and without end,through contempt of you and of your Word, through distrust of your help and trust in ourselves and in worldly things, through evil impulses and actions, whereby we have most grievously offended against your Divine Majesty and against our fellows. We have thus more and more buried ourselves and lost ourselves even unto death eternal. This grieves us to the very heart ; and we pray that you would forgive us for all the things in which we have sinned against you. We plead for your help against the sin that dwells in us, and against Satan who ever stirs it up. Save us from sinning further against you. Cover all our iniquities with the righteousness of your Son. Subdue them in us by your Spirit, and cleanse us thoroughly from them in the end.
Have mercy upon us, O most good and merciful Father, for yourSon our Lord Jesus Christ's sake.
Grant unto us, and increase in us, your Holy Spirit, that he may teach us inwardly and truly to acknowledge our sins, to mourn over them with lively [active] repentance, and to receive and hold fast, with a true faith, the forgiveness of them in Christ our Lord, so that, dying daily more and more to sin, we may serve and please you in newness of life, to the glory of your name, and the profit of your Church.
These things we acknowledge that you justly require of us, therefore we desire to do them. Be pleased, O you our Heavenly Father, who has given us this desire, to grant also that we be diligent to do with our whole heart those things which pertain to our salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."