THE office of the Church, which comes this day under our notice, is that appointed for the Visitation of the Sick. It is an office which brings the Church into our chambers, to mingle with our domestic concerns, and to weep with them that weep. And though not a public office, yet it is one in which we, all of us, either have been or shall be interested. Some among us there doubtless are, who have already been benefited by sickness and sorrow; who look back to the time when, in obedience to the Divine direction in our text, they sent for the Presbyters of the Church to pray over them: there are some, perhaps, who can date their conversion from that affliction which was to them a blessing in disguise. Who is there that expects to escape the ills to which all flesh is heir? Who but must feel that the time may come, and come soon, when he shall lie on the bed of languishing; when his limbs, however strong, will be feeble; his body racked with pain, and his proud spirit humbled by the prospect before him, of an eternity of misery or of bliss?
Now, the formulary which is provided in our Prayer Book for the Visitation of the Sick, is one which has been used from a remote antiquity: all the directions and prayers are to be found in the most ancient manuals, while some of them may be traced to the primitive ages. And, assuredly, this adds to their affecting solemnity. It is an affecting thing to the imaginative mind, when stretched upon the bed of sickness, to feel that we are receiving consolation through the self-same formulary, by which so many departed spirits, now in the triumphant Church, have been comforted and consoled; and colder natures cannot reprove the sentiment in our case, since the service, though ancient, was, at the Reformation of our Church, revised, and whatever was not authorized by "Holy Scripture and ancient authors" abscinded. How powerful this service has been in kindling a holy fervour of feeling, in enabling those who have been tortured with bodily suffering to forget their agonies for a while, and to catch even a foretaste of the joys of heaven, those among us can tell, who having been reduced by disease to the gate of death, have availed themselves of the office;--yes, they can tell, that in speaking as I do, I speak the words of soberness and truth. Although, therefore, this office is performed in private, it is one in which we all are interested.
It is sometimes asked whether a Clergyman is tied to this service. And the question is to be answered by inquiring, under what character the Clergyman is sent for. A Clergyman may visit us as a private friend; and a private friend may join his prayers with ours, and pray with us, and pray for us. But if you send to him as a Presbyter, if you call upon him to visit you as a ministerial act, then, of course, he is bound to use this service, and this service only,--the service by which he, as a Clergyman, is to officiate. The practice of the Clergy frequently is, to use this service, when the illness is protracted, once a week or oftener; paying, in the mean time, friendly visits, in which, not acting officially, they are at liberty to act as they see fit. But so far as any one expects any species of sacramental benefit from the prayers of the Church, he will seek for them under this form, and require its use from his Pastor.
The office commences with a Salutation and the shorter Litany, which are followed by the Lord's Prayer and two collects, the one for support under the affliction, and the other for the sanctification thereof. Then follows an Exhortation, the most perfect model of a sermon that we possess: but, since the same sermon often repeated would be wearisome, latitude is given, and the Minister may use "any like form."
The articles of the Apostles' Creed are rehearsed to the sick man, that he may know whether he doth believe as a Christian man should, or not;--the Apostles' Creed containing, not every thing that we ought to know and believe to our soul's health, but the very least that we can believe, and be called a Christian. It is that Creed, without believing the articles of which a heathen cannot be baptized. Then the Minister is directed to examine the sick man, whether he repent him truly of his sins, exhorting him to forgive, from the bottom of his heart, all persons that have offended him; and if he hath offended any other, to ask them forgiveness; and where he hath done injury or wrong to any man, that he make amends to the uttermost of his power. And if he hath not before disposed of his goods, let him be admonished to make his will, and to declare his debts,--what he oweth, and what is owing to him; for the better discharging of his conscience, and the quietness of his executors. But men should often be put in remembrance, to take order for the settling of their temporal estates while they are in health. These words before rehearsed, continues the Rubric, may be said before the Minister begin his prayer, as he shall see cause. The Minister should not omit earnestly to move such sick persons as are of ability, to be liberal to the poor. Here, the Church proceeds, shall the sick person be moved to make a special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter. After which confession, the Priest shall absolve him (if he humbly and heartily desire it) after this sort: "Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to His Church to absolve all sinners, who truly repent and believe in Him, of His great mercy forgive thee thine offences; and by His authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
Then follow a Prayer, the seventy-first Psalm, and the Benedictions.
It is observable here, that the Church makes a twofold provision for the sick. If the Priest or Elder of the Church is sent for to a person who has been under grace, and who has led a godly life, the service, without reference to Confession or Absolution, is to be employed,--a calm, a soothing, a quieting service. But if there is reason to suppose that the sick man's conscience is troubled with any weighty matter, he is to be moved to confess; and in so moving him, the Minister is left to his own discretion, to use what words and to refer to the topics he may consider best adapted to the case; and after Confession, the sick person may have, if he desires it, Absolution.
The fact that, both here and in the exhortation to the Holy Communion the duty of Confession is recognized, the fact that Absolution is directed to be given in the most direct form,--these facts are seized upon by the Protestant opponents of the Church of England, and made grounds of cavil. But from the facts, observe, we cannot escape. There they are, Confession and Absolution, just as they were before the Reformation, in our office for the Visitation of the Sick; there they are, Absolution in the very terms used by the Roman Catholic Priesthood, as well as by our own: there they were left when our Prayer Book was revised, by the Reformers of Edward the Sixth; there they were still left by the Reformers of Elizabeth's reign; still were they left by those who revised the Prayer Book in the reigns of James the First and Charles the Second. There is no ground, therefore, for what is sometimes said, that they were left there at the time of the Reformation to conciliate the Romanists; for they have been continued there at all subsequent reviews or reformations. However they may be designated, there they are, forming part of that Sacred Book, to all and every thing "contained and prescribed in and by which," the Bishops and beneficed Clergy of the Church of England declare "their unfeigned assent and consent." No man, except the most ungodly of all men, can indulge in those idle declamations, with which some of our so-called religious publications abound, against Confession and Absolution, who has given his unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing contained in and prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer.
We cannot alter the facts. The Church, in the Homily on Common Prayer and Sacraments, remarks, that "Absolution is no such Sacrament as Baptism and the Communion are." This we must maintain; but as to any condemnation of Confession and Absolution, from this, as consistent Churchmen, we must abstain: to the principle, the Clergy give their unfeigned assent and consent. Nay, upon this principle the Church has legislated; for in the 119th canon it is provided, that "if any man confess his secret and hidden sins to the Minister," that Minister shall not be bound to present the delinquent to the ecclesiastical court; but "is strictly charged and admonished, that he do not at any time reveal and make known to any person whatsoever, any crime or offence so committed to his trust and secrecy, except they be such crimes as by the laws of this realm his own life may be called in question for concealing the same, under pain of irregularity."
It would be very wicked on our part were we to conceal from you these facts, assuming, as is popularly done, your ignorance of the Prayer Book: it is, indeed, a misfortune, that some of those who dogmatize upon the Church, are most ignorant of what the Church really teaches; but we, who are Churchmen indeed and in truth, neither sympathizing with Rome nor symbolizing with Geneva, must never shrink from expounding and abiding by the principles of the Prayer Book, however unpopular they may be to either party.
The question with us is simply what does the Church of England teach: not what, in our private judgment, she ought to teach.
The Church of England, at the Reformation, did not abolish the practice of Confession. How, indeed, could she, when Scripture is so plain upon the subject? "If we confess our sins," according to St. John, "God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." "He that covereth his sins," saith the Holy Ghost in another place, "shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have mercy." In the Acts of the Apostles we read, "Many that believed came and confessed, and shewed their deeds." "Confess your faults one to another; and pray one for another, that ye may be healed."
But what, at the Reformation, the Church of England did was this,--while insisting upon the duty of Confession, she contended also that Confession to God only was sufficient; that there is no necessity to confess to the Priest. Confession to the Priest she recommends, in the Exhortation to the Holy Communion, if any of you cannot quiet his conscience, but requireth further counsel and advice; and she moves the sick man to make a special confession of his sins, "if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter." But she refuses to consider it necessary to salvation. Expedient it is for some; necessary to none: it may be a help to edification; it is not a point bearing upon salvation: it is a comfort to many, and in their sickness and sorrow they may be moved to it; but it will not affect the salvation of any.
This is what was asserted at the Reformation of our Church, and is its doctrine still. And this is the point of difference, with respect to this doctrine, between the Church of England and the Church of Rome: the Church of Rome, in the assembly of Trent, has adjudged it "necessary by the Divine law, to confess all and single mortal sins which any one does remember, or can recollect by due and diligent self-examination." (Sess. xiv. c. 5.)
The difference between the Church of England and the modern Church of Rome is this, that while in the 16th century both Churches admitted the necessity of a reformation, the Church of Rome, in the assembly of Trent, conducted her reformation on the principles of the medieval Church, which she represents, and the Church of England reformed herself on the principles of the primitive Church. Thus, with respect to the practice of Confession, the Church of Rome, representing the medieval Church, has declared it to be necessary to salvation,--making it a Sacrament, such as Baptism and the Lord's Supper: the Church of England, as I have shown, regards it only as in some cases expedient. Nothing, indeed, can be more clear than the fact, that the principle of the primitive Church, with respect to Confession, was accordant with our own. St. Chrysostom, in the fourth century, exhorting men to repentance, says, "I bid thee not bring thyself upon the stage, or to accuse thyself to others; but I advise thee to observe the Prophet's direction, Reveal thy way unto the Lord,--confess thy sins before God,--confess them before the Judge, praying, if not with thy tongue, yet at least with thy memory; and so look to obtain mercy. It is better to be tormented with the memory of thy sins now, than with the torment that shall be hereafter. If you remember them now, and continually offer them to God, and pray for them, you shall quickly blot them out; but if you forget them now, you will remember them against your will when they shall be brought forth before the whole world, and be publicly exposed upon the stage before all--friends, enemies, and angels."
You will observe here, how St. Chrysostom, while insisting upon the duty of Confession, without which self-examination cannot be properly performed, contends also that Confession to God is sufficient. In another place he says more plainly still, "It is not necessary that thou shouldest confess in the presence of witnesses, after thy sins be made known in thine own thoughts; let this judgment be without any witness; let God only see thee confessing." Again he says, "I beseech you, make your Confession continually to God. For I do not bring thee into the theatre of thy fellow-servants, neither do I constrain thee by any necessity to discover thy sins unto men: unfold thy conscience before God, and show Him thy wounds, and ask thy cure of Him. Show them to Him who will not reproach thee, but only heal thee. For although thou confess not, He knows all. Confess, therefore, that thou mayest be a gainer. Confess, that thou mayest put off thy sins in this world, and go pure into the next, and avoid that intolerable publication that will otherwise be made hereafter." [See Bingham, book xviii. chap, iii., for the quotations here made.]
These quotations will servo to show that the primitive Church, like the Church of England at the present time, while holding Confession to be a duty absolutely necessary, considered Confession before God alone sufficient, when by such Confession the conscience could be satisfied.
It is with deference to this principle that we must understand an ancient writer, who says that "throughout Scripture we are taught to confess our sins, continually and humbly, not only to God, but to holy men, and those that fear God;" not of necessity, but as an act expedient to be performed. [Bingham quotes this passage, as if it might be St. Augustine's: but it is now ascertained to be from a Homily of Cesarius of Aries, a writer of a century later. Caesar. Serm. lvi.] Thus another writer, under the name of Clemens Romanus, bids every one, into whose heart cither envy or infidelity has slily crept, "not to be ashamed, if he has any care upon his soul, to confess his sin to the Bishop or Minister presiding over him, that by the word of God and his saving counsel he may be healed." [Rufini Vers. Epist. ad Jacob, c. xi. Coteler. Patr. Apost. i. 618.]
When the discipline of the Church was strict, it was expected that any one who had committed any glaring offence, before joining in the general Confession, should make a special declaration of his fault, that the congregation might decide whether he were in a fit state to receive the Holy Communion; of which, at that time, every one who named the name of Christ partook, unless ho were positively forbidden. As the world began to mingle with the Church, some very dreadful sins were thus exposed, and scandal brought upon the Church. It was then determined, that if a person had any doubt upon his mind as to the propriety of his receiving the Holy Sacrament, instead of confessing his sin to the whole congregation, he should make his Confession privately to the Priest; and it was left to the Priest to decide as to the fitness of his state to receive or not. In process of time it became very usual thus to consult the Priest; and in the end the Church of Rome made that compulsory, which at first was optional. And the Church of England, at the Reformation, restored her children to their primitive liberty; and while her Priests are, or ought to be, ready to give ghostly counsel and advice to those who confess to them, it is left optional both to them and to the laity, whether they will confess their sins to man or not. The system of the middle ages, adhered to by the Church of Rome, had been found to lead to gross hypocrisy: when all were compelled to confess, many, pretending to do so, concealed some sins, and various abuses were the result: the system of the primitive Church, which afforded a model to us, while compelling no one to this discipline, provides, nevertheless, for those whose over-fraught hearts would break, if there were no one at hand to whom they might open their grief.
In the quotations I have given from St. Chrysostom, he alludes evidently to what appears to have been a prevalent opinion, that when, at the day of judgment, Satan will stand, the accuser of the brethren, to expose our sins, he will not be permitted to lay to our charge those that we have confessed in this world; our confession of them now rendering the exposure of them at the great day unnecessary. Whether the direction, that we are to move the sick person to a special confession of his sins, have reference to this opinion, I know not; to those who hold it, the comfort will be great to open their grief here, to avoid that shame which must be theirs, when standing at the judgment seat, --there every thought, as well as word and work, will be revealed.
And such a person, whether clerk or layman, may humbly and heartily desire to receive Absolution, which, on his Confession and contrition, no Clergyman has a right to refuse. He will rejoice to hear from the mouth of God's ambassador, that God has pardoned him for all the sins he has acknowledged and confessed,--that He will blot them out of his remembrance, and remember them no more. He knows full well that there are unconfessed and unremembered sins, sins of his youth and sins of his riper years, sins of his soul and sins of his body, negligences and ignorances, evil things done to please others, and evil things done to please himself, all sufficient to condemn him, unless he had "an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sins;" he therefore joins, with a thankful heart, in that prayer for pardon which follows the Absolution, and which has been used in the Western Churches in this place for thirteen hundred years.
Against this Absolution, to which we give our unfeigned assent and consent, the very form still used in the Roman Catholic Church, no reasonable objection can be urged by those who, on the principle of the Prayer Book, have regard to Sacramental Religion. They who deny that Regeneration is conveyed to the soul by the Holy Ghost through the waters of Baptism sanctified to the mystical washing away of sin; those who deny that, through the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful, can consistently repudiate this Absolution: but are they consistent in affirming their unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing contained in and prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer? If you do give assent and consent to the Book of Common Prayer, you believe that by the affusion of water, remission of sins is given: you also believe that remission of sins is conveyed through the elements of bread and wine duly consecrated: and to suppose that a similar effect may be wrought by the word of a person commissioned by God, as His ambassador, to speak to you in His name, is only following out the same principle; and will be readily received when the Minister informs you, that when he was ordained, the Bishop, in Christ's name, conferred this authority upon him, in these words:--"Receive the Holy Ghost, for the office of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the imposition of our hands. Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained:"--the words of our blessed Saviour, as found in the twentieth chapter of St. John's Gospel.
But why does there lurk in some minds, even when admitting that the Church has the power to remit or retain sins through the administration of the Sacraments, a jealousy of this Absolution, conveyed; not through water or the consecrated elements, but by word of mouth? It is because people imagine, though it is a vain imagination, that the efficacy of the ordinance is supposed to depend upon the will or caprice of an individual. But this is not more the case than in the instances of Baptism and the Eucharist, and is not the case at all. In every case it is God who remits the sin. But as God can delegate to man a power to work wonders above the course of nature, so can He delegate that power which belongs absolutely to Him, the power of remitting to whom He will: but when He delegates this power to man, He does so conditionally, and man only acts ministerially. When St. Paul had power to work miracles, he could not work a miracle how or when he pleased. It was not for his own sake, but for that of others, that the power was given to him, and he could only act as God was pleased to direct. So, though the Bishops of the Church of England impart to the Clergy authority to remit or to retain sins, and although in so doing they act by commission from God, yet God does not limit His own powers. He has ordained that man should be brought into union with Him, through Christ the only Mediator; that man should be brought into union with Christ the head, by union with His mystical body the Church; that union with the mystical body should be effected by Baptism, preserved by the Eucharist, and in subordination to this, by the other ordinances of the Gospel. Hence He has commissioned persons to administer these ordinances; but He is not tied to the means, and may save those who from these ordinances are excluded. While at the same time, though our Lord, as the general rule, has promised that He will bind in heaven what is bound on earth, it does not follow that, because the outward and visible sign is administered, the promised grace will be conferred upon unworthy receivers; we know, on the contrary, that "the wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth, as St. Augustine saith, the Sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, yet in nowise are they partakers of Christ; but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the Sacrament of so great a thing." [Article XXIX.] This principle is applicable to every ordinance. If it be received unworthily, God, who knoweth the heart, will not ratify in heaven, what His Minister, administering His ordinance, hath done on earth. He gives us the rule, without debarring Himself from making an exception to it. Precisely so, it is only on the contrite that the words of Absolution take effect.
We know that God will pardon the contrite heart. "A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise." If you believe this, why take offence because God's Minister, by the authority which God gives him, declares this to have taken place? If you deceive Him, and are not contrite, you receive no benefit from the absolution; if you are contrite, you have the liberty given you of asking the declaration of your forgiveness from God's Minister. He cannot give you the blessed Eucharist every time he visits you, but in the intervals he can give you this blessing, which is part of the blessing of the Eucharist, by word of mouth.
Will any one say, if this be so, if it is our contrition which is accepted by God for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, the absolution is a work of supererogation? Let us see. Suppose you had been a traitor to your country, and that you wore dwelling in a foreign land; suppose also, that you had repented of your sin, and that proof of your repentance had been conveyed to your sovereign; suppose, moreover, that from the general expressions used by your injured sovereign, you felt sure that he would receive you again into favour; would you not, nevertheless, feel it satisfactory, before returning to your country, to have some formal writ made out and duly signed by the ambassador of your sovereign residing in the strange country in which you had taken up your abode? However certain you might feel of the favour of your sovereign, still you would think it expedient to have your pardon, signed and sealed with the customary forms: you would not feel grateful to the ambassador, your gratitude would flow entirely to the sovereign his master; the act of the ambassador would be merely ministerial, but of his ministerial services you would avail yourself. If the ambassador were to refuse to act, he would be punished, and his evil deed would not damage you; but you would feel, if he were prepared to act, that your reception by your sovereign would not be what you would desire it to be, were you to despise the regulations He has made; and you would seek from his ambassador a certificate, or such document as might be legally necessary.
Thus, at all events, thinks the Church of England. Before the Reformation, as in the present Church of Rome, auricular Confession was required ere Absolution was given; and Absolution was necessary to qualify a Christian to receive the Holy Communion. At the Reformation, as I have pointed out, though Confession was retained, it was not considered necessary to make any special Confession to a priest, although such Confession was allowed. Confession to God only, or to a private friend, any kind of Confession being admitted, care was taken to insert a form of Absolution in the Office for the Holy Communion:--a general Confession, and then the Absolution, the declaration in God's name by God's ambassador, of forgiveness to the contrite. But not only this. On the same principle, a general Confession, not intended to supersede your private Confession either to God only, or to man also, was introduced into the daily service of the Church; and daily, every parish priest is directed to pronounce the Absolution. The pardon is thus, as it were, handed over to you by God's ambassador day by day, if day by day you draw nigh with a humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart.
In the Visitation of the Sick, where the pastor is brought into contact with the soul of the individual, the offices both of Confession and of Absolution are more special; but still it is left to the discretion of the sick person whether he will or will not avail himself of the help here offered. You are not compelled to accept this service. Let every one be fully persuaded in his own mind. But let not those who do not avail themselves of what is offered as a privilege, malign those who do; for to this Confession and Absolution the Bishops and Clergy of the Church of England still give their unfeigned assent and consent.
I pass now to the consideration of an objection made from another quarter: the Romanist censures us for neglecting in this ordinance to anoint the sick with oil. If the anointing of the sick with oil were an ordinance of our Church, we should observe it, and at the commencement of the Reformation it was retained. But the Church has power to loose as well as to bind, and to this ordinance we are bound no longer. We vindicate for the Church of England the right to regulate the ordinances by which the Catholics of England are to be bound. But if it be said that St. James, while exhorting us when sick to call for the Presbyters of the Church, that they may pray over us, adds, that they should anoint us with oil; we have, in defence of our Reformation, to say, that as we reformed our Church, not on medieval but on primitive principles, we are justified in concluding that this injunction of St. James had no reference to a permanent ordinance, for in the primitive Church no such ordinance existed. The original object of the anointing was to "save," or to procure miraculous recovery to the infirm; and therefore the Church of England, in reforming her offices, was at liberty to loose us from this observance, which she apparently has done, to avoid that error of the middle ages which the Church of Rome has retained, by which a temporary ceremony has been converted into a Sacrament.
And here, my brethren, having brought to a conclusion my observations upon these two objections to that office, from two opposite extremes, it may not, perhaps, be irrelevant, if I remind you, that the only safe course on our part, in these days, is to abide humbly by the teaching of the Church of England. We have men taking the foreign Reformers for their guide, and they seek to undermine our Church on the one side, and we have also men who take the schoolmen rather than the Fathers, or rather the scholastic divinity diluted through Romish publications for their guide; and these, though opposed to the foreign Reformers and Puritans, unite with them in the damage they do to our Church: the one class explain away our Baptismal Office to reject regeneration; the other explain away our Office for the Holy Communion, to bring in the Sacrifice of the Mass; while latitudinarians, half infidels, still remain in our Church availing themselves of these disputes to explain away almost every doctrine of Christianity. You see the sin of all these persons: it is pride, presumption, setting themselves up as judges. Be it ours, my brethren, to act more humbly and more wisely. Lot us seek to ascertain what the Church of England really teaches, and let us humbly suppose that the Church of England may be wiser than ourselves, how wise soever we may imagine ourselves to be. Our lot has been cast in the Church of England; she is our guide, given to us by our God; we know that she does not lead us into any immoral act, any infringement of God's revealed law; let us yield to her guidance. Even if we do not see at once her wisdom on the one hand in rejecting Extreme Unction, or on the other in retaining the Confession and Absolution, let us have the modesty to suppose that her decision may be more correct than our own; and if we do not now, we shall perhaps hereafter see that she was right, even where, in our presumption, we once may have thought her to be wrong. Be not followers of men; heed not what is said by Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, if they follow not the Prayer Book; study your Prayer Book; be the Church your guide, and so will you come to a right understanding of Scripture. Do not set yourself up as judges of the Church, where she differs from other Churches, for it can only encourage pride to the peril of your soul.
Guided by this principle, we cannot, at all events, go far out of the right course; it is a safe course for our souls to pursue, though a humble one. If the time shall come when the proper authorities shall see fit to organize some fresh reform in our Zion, then we may listen to what is said by our opponents on either side; but as this is not now the case, let us seek to act conscientiously as members of the English Church; and if we act up to her precepts, if we follow the example of her saints, if we duly avail ourselves of the privileges she offers, and of the means of grace which God provides in her for the renovation and sanctification of our souls, we shall be prepared when the hour of sickness comes, or as the day of death approaches, for that office which has this day come under our consideration. The Church will then send peace to our house, and by her Minister speak comfort to our souls: not only will she remind us that there should be no greater comfort to Christian persons than to be made like unto Christ, by suffering patiently adversities, troubles, and sicknesses; for He Himself went not up to joy, but first He suffered pain; He entered not into glory before He was crucified; not only will she remind us that our way to eternal joy is to suffer here with Christ, and our door to enter into eternal life is gladly to die with Christ, that we may rise again from death, and dwell with Him in everlasting life; but she will also enable us to eat His flesh, and to drink His blood, so that our bodies may be made clean by His body, and our souls washed through His most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us.
Yes, for the Church of England, when compelled to forego that primitive practice of carrying the Holy Sacrament from the church to the sick man's house, because persons were forced to worship the bread and wine, still acting according to what was also a primitive practice, has permitted the Minister, who has the cure of souls in each parish, reverently to minister the Holy Communion in any convenient place in the sick man's house.
I address those now in health, who may, ere long, fall sick, and will, ere very long, die; and I would invite them to study the Office to which I have called their attention this day, that they may be able to realize, in their time of need, the consolation it provides.