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tation : give her the ornament of a meek Psal. xxiii. 3,
4, 6. and quiet spirit, which in thy sight is of great price. Let her not love the world, nor mind earthly things, but use the world as not abusing (of) it; seeing the time is short, and the fashion of this world passeth away. Restore her soul, and lead her in the paths of righteousness: though she must walk through the valley of the shadow of death, let her fear no evil. Let thy goodness and mercy follow her all the days of her life, and let her dwell for ever in thy glorious presence, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
If the child be dead, those passages which imply its living must be omitted; and if the woman be such as the Church hath cause to judge ungodly, the thanksgiving must be in words more agreeable to her condition, if any be used.
Of Pastoral Discipline, Public Confession, Absolution, and Exclusion from the Holy Communion
of the Church.
The recital of the curses are said, in the Book of Common Prayer, to be instead of the godly discipline of the primitive Church, (till it can be restored again, which is much to be wished ;) which is the putting of notorious sinners to open penitence. His Majesty's Declaration concerning Ecclesiastical Affairs determineth that all public diligence be used for the instruction and reformation of scandalous offenders ; whom the minister shall not suffer to partake of the Lord's Table until they have openly declared themselves to have truly repented and amended their former naughty lives, provided there be place for due appeals to superior powers.
And the law of Christ commandeth, If thy Matt. xviii. 15, brother trespass against thee, go and 16, 17.
tell him his faults between him and thee alone : if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother ; but if he will not hear thee, then take to thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established : and if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church : but if he shall neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man, or as a publican. And it is the office of the pastors of the several congregations, not only to teach the people in general, and guide them in the celebration of the public worship, but also to oversee them, and watch over each member of their flock particularly ; to preserve them from errors, heresies, divisions, and other sins ; defending the truth, confuting gainsayers and seducers, instructing the ignorant, exciting the negligent, encouraging the despondent, comforting the afflicted, confirming the weak, rebuking and admonishing the disorderly and scandalous, and directing all according to their needs in the matters of their salvation. And the people in such needs should have ordinary recourse to them, as the officers of Christ, for guidance, and resolution of their doubts, and for assistance in making their salvation sure, and in proving, maintaining, or restoring the peace of their consciences, and spiritual comfort.
If, therefore, any member of the church be a scandalous sinner, and the crime be either notorious or fully proved ; let the pastor admonish him, and set before him the particular command of God which he transgresseth, the supreme authority of God which he despiseth, the promises and mercies which he treadeth under foot, and the curse and dreadful condemnation which he draweth upon himself. Let this be done with great compassion and tender love to the offender's soul, and with gravity, reverent and serious importunity, as beseemeth men employed on the behalf of God, for the saving of a soul: and yet with judgment, and cautelous prudence, not taking that for sin which is no sin, nor that for a gross and scandalous sin which is but an ordinary human frailty ; not dealing as unreverently with a superior as with an inferior; not making that public which should be concealed, nor reproving before others when it should be done more secretly, nor speaking unseasonably to those who through drink or passion are incapable of the benefit; nor yet offending by bashfulness, or the fear of man, or lukewarmness, negligence, or slighting over great offences, on the other extreme.
Prudence also requireth them to be cautelous of overmeddling where the magistrate's honour or concernment, or the church's unity or peace, or the reputation of others, or the interest of their ministry, requireth them to forbear.
These cautions observed, if the scandalous offender continue impenitent, or unreformed, after due admonitions and patience, let the pastor in the congregation, when he is present, rebuke him before all, that the church may sufficiently disown the crime, and others may see the odiousness and danger of the sin. But let this also be with the love, and seriousness, and prudence before mentioned.
If the offender in obstinacy will not be there, the pastor may open the crime before the congregation : and present or absent, (in case he remain impenitent, if the case will bear so long a delay,) it is convenient that the pastor publicly pray for his conviction and repentance, that he may be saved.
And this he may do one, or two, or three, or more days, as the nature of the case and prudence shall direct him.
If, during these means for his recovery, (after the proof of the crime,) there be a communion of the church in the Lord's Supper, let the pastor require him to forbear, and not suffer him to partake of the Lord's Table.
If yet the offender remain impenitent, let the pastor openly declare him unmeet for the communion of the church, and require him to abstain from it, and require the church to avoid communion with him. And let him bind him by the denunciations of the threatenings of God against the impenitent.
But before this is done, let no necessary con