THis Office the Church confesses not, to be ancient, but appointed instead of an ancient godly discipline of putting notorious sinners to open penance, which being lost with us, holy Church wishes might be restored again.
Though it be not ancient, yet is it a very useful penitential service, either in publick or private, consisting of holy sentences taken out of Gods word, fit for the work of repentance; Gods holy Commandments, the glass wherein we see our sins; Holy penitential prayers taken for the most part out of holy Scripture: so that, he which prayes this form, is sure to pray by the Spirit, both for words and matter.
Nothing in it seems to need exposition, but the AMEN, which is to be said after the Curses, which being commonly used after prayers, may perhaps here be accounted by some, a wish or prayer; and so the people be thought to curse themselves.
For the satisfying of which scrupulosity, it is enough to say, that God himself commanded these Amens to be said after these Curses. Deut. 27. and therefore good there may be in saying of them, but harm there can be none, if men when they say them understand them. Now that we may understand them when we use them, let us consider, that Amen is not always a wish or prayer. For, it signifies no more but verily or truly, or an assent to the truth of that to which it is added. If that to which it is added, be a prayer, then this must needs be a joyning in the prayer, and is as much as so be it; but if that to which it be added be a Creed, or any affirmative proposition, such as these curses are, then the Amen is only an affirmation, as that is, to which it is annexed. In this place therefore it is not a wishing that the Curses may fall upon our heads, but only an affirming with our own mouthes that the curse of God is indeed due to such sins, as the Church here propounds it. The use of it is to make us flee such vices for the future, and earnestly repent of them, if we be guilty: since, as we acknowledge, the curse and vengeance of God doth deservedly follow such sins and sinners.
Having gone through the several Offices in the Book of Com. Prayer, we will now speak of the Rubricks and other matters thereunto belonging.