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O Lord, show thy mercy upon us;
For thine indignation lieth hard upon us.
O Lord, hear our prayer;
And let the sighing of the prisoners come before thee. Then shall the Minister exhort the Prisoner or Prisoners after this form, or other like.
EARLY beloved, know this, that Almighty God,
both in heaven and earth, hath so wisely and mercifully ordered the course of this world, that his judgments are often sent as fatherly corrections to us; and if with due submission and resignation to his holy will we receive the same, they will work together for our good.
It is your part and duty, therefore, to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, to acknowledge the righteousness of his judgments, and to endeavour that, by his grace, this present visitation may lead you to a sincere and hearty repentance.
The way and means thereto is, to examine your life and conversation by the rule of God's commandments; and whereinsoever you shall perceive yourself to have offended, either by will, word, or deed, there to bewail your own sinfulness, and to confess yourself to Almighty God, with full purpose of amendment of life. And if you shall perceive your offences to be such as are not only against God, but also against your neighbours; then to reconcile yourself to them, being ready to make restitution and satisfaction, according to the uttermost of your power, for all injuries and wrongs done by you to any other; and being likewise ready to forgive others who have offended you, as you would have forgiveness of your offences at God's hand. And to this true repentance and change of mind you must add a lively and stedfast faith, and dependence upon the merits of the death of Christ, with an entire resignation of yourself to the will of God. Except you repent, and believe, we can give you no hope of salvation. But if you do sincerely repent and believe, God hath declared, though your sins be as red as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; though your wickednesses have gone over your head, yet shall they not be your destruction.
We exhort you therefore in the Name of God, and of his dear Son Jesus Christ our Saviour, and as you tender your own salvation, to take good heed of these things in time, while the day of salvation lasteth; for the night cometh, when no man can work. While you have the
light, believe in the light, and walk as children of the light, that you be not cast into outer darkness; that you may not knock, when the door shall be shut; and cry for mercy, when it is the time of justice. Now, you are the object of God's mercy, if by repentance and true faith you turn unto him; but if you neglect these things, you will be the object of his justice and vengeance. Now, you may claim the merits of Christ; but if you die in your sins, his sufferings will tend to your greater condemnation. O beloved, consider in this your day, how fearful a thing it will be to fall into the hands of the living God, when you can neither fly to his mercy to protect you, nor to the merits of Christ to cover you in that terrible day.
¶ Here the Minister shall examine him concerning his faith, and rehearse the Articles of the CREED, Dost thou believe in God, etc. And the Prisoner shall answer,
All this I stedfastly believe.
¶ Then shall the Minister examine whether he repent him truly of his sins, and be in charity with all the world, and further admonish him particularly concerning the crimes wherewith he is charged; and exhort him, if he have any scruples, that he would declare the same, and prepare himself for the Holy Com munion, against the time that it may be proper to administer it to him.
Then, all kneeling, the Minister shall say the fifty-first Psalm of the Psalter, Miserere mei, Deus.
THere the Minister, as he shall see convenient, may read certain or all of these Prayers following, the Prayer for all Conditions of Men, or any other Prayer which he shall judge proper.
GOD, whose nature and property is ever to have mercy and to forgive; Receive our humble petitions; and though we be tied and bound with the chain of our sins, yet let the pitifulness of thy great mercy loose us; for the honour of Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen.
GOD, who sparest when we deserve punishment, and in thy wrath rememberest mercy; We humbly beseech thee, of thy goodness, to comfort and succour all those who are under reproach and misery in the house of bondage; correct them not in thine anger, neither chasten them in thy sore displeasure. Give them a right understanding of themselves, and of thy threats and promises; that they may neither cast away their confidence in thee, nor place it any where but in thee. Relieve the distressed, protect the innocent, and awaken the guilty and forasmuch as thou alone bringest light out of darkness, and good out of evil, grant that the pains and punishments which these thy servants endure, through their bodily confinement, may tend to setting free their souls from the chains of sin; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
LORD, we beseech thee, mercifully hear our prayers,
that they, whose consciences by sin are accused, by thy merciful pardon may be absolved; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
GOD, whose mercy is everlasting, and power infinite; Look down with pity and compassion upon the sufferings of this thy servant; and whether thou visitest for trial of his patience, or punishment of his offences, enable him by thy grace cheerfully to submit himself to thy holy will and pleasure. Go not far from those, O Lord, whom thou hast laid in a place of darkness, and in the deep; and forasmuch as thou hast not cut him off suddenly, but chastenest him as a father, grant that he, duly considering thy great mercies, may be unfeignedly thankful, and turn unto thee with true repentance and sincerity of heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Form of Prayer for Persons under sentence of death. When a Criminal is under sentence of death, the Minister shall proceed to exhort him after this form, or other like.
EARLY beloved, it hath pleased Almighty God, in demnation of the law. You are shortly to suffer death in such a manner, that others, warned by your example, may be the more afraid to offend; and we pray God, that you may make such use of your punishments in this world, that your soul may be saved in the world to come.
Wherefore we come to you in the bowels of compassion; and, being desirous that you should avoid presumption on the one hand, and despair on the other, shall plainly lay before you the wretchedness of your condition, and declare how far you ought to depend on the mercies of God and the merits of our Saviour. Consider then seriously with yourself, in all appearance the time of your dissolution draweth near; your sins have laid fast hold upon you; you are soon to be removed from among men by a violent death; and you shall fade away suddenly like the grass, which in the morning is green and groweth up, but in the evening is cut down, dried up, and withered. After you have thus finished the course of a sinful and miserable life, you shall appear before the Judge of all flesh; who, as he pronounces blessings on the righteous, shall likewise say, with a terrible voice of most just judgment, to the wicked, Go, ye accursed, into the fire everlasting, prepared for the devil and his angels. Your sins have brought you too near this dreadful sentence it is therefore your part and duty, my brother,
humbly to confess and bewail your great and manifold offences, and to repent you truly of your sins, as you tender the eternal salvation of your soul.
Be not deceived with a vain and presumptuous expectation of God's favour, nor say within yourself, Peace, peace, where there is no peace; for there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. God is not mocked; he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; and without holiness no man shall see the Lord. On the other hand, despair not of God's mercy, though trouble is on every side; for God shutteth not up his mercies for ever in displeasure; but if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Do not either way abuse the goodness of God, who calleth us mercifully to amendment, and of his endless pity promiseth us forgiveness of that which is past, if with a perfect and a true heart we return unto him.
Since therefore you are soon to pass into an endless and unchangeable state, and your future happiness or misery depends upon the few moments which are left you, I require you strictly to examine yourself, and your estate both towards God and towards man; and let no worldly consideration hinder you from making a true and full confession of your sins, and giving all the satisfaction which is in your power to every one whom you have wronged or injured; that you may find mercy at your heavenly Father's hand, for Christ's sake, and not be condemned in the dreadful day of judgment.
Lastly, beloved, submit yourself with Christian resignation to the just judgment of God, which your own crimes have brought upon you, and be in charity with all men; being ready sincerely to forgive all such as have offended you, not excepting those who have prosecuted you even unto death: and, though this may seem a hard saying, yet know assuredly, that without it your charity is not yet perfect. And fail not earnestly to endeavour and pray for this blessed temper and composure of mind. So may you cast yourself with an entire dependence upon the mercies of God, through the merits of our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ.
THere the Minister shall examine him concerning his faith, and rehearse the Articles of the CREED, Dost thou believe in God, etc. And the Criminal shall answer,
All this I stedfastly believe.
Then shall the Minister examine whether he repent him truly of his sins, exhorting him to a particular confession of the sin for which he is condemned; and upon confession, he shall instruct him what satisfaction ought to be made to those whom he has offended thereby; and if he knoweth any combinations in wickedness, or any evil practices designed against others, let him be admonished to the utmost of his power to discover and prevent them.
After his confession, the Priest shall declare to him the pardoning mercy of God, in the form which is used in the Communion Service. After which shall be said the Collect following.
HOLY Jesus, who, of thine infinite goodness, didst of a sinner on
thine eye of mercy upon this thy servant, who desireth pardon and forgiveness, though in his latest hour he turneth unto thee. Renew in him whatsoever hath been decayed by the fraud and malice of the devil, or by his own carnal will and frailness. Consider his contrition; accept his repentance; and forasmuch as he putteth his full trust only in thy mercy, impute not unto him his former sins, but strengthen him with thy blessed Spirit; and when thou art pleased to take him hence, take him unto thy favour. This we beg through thy merits, O Lord, our Saviour and our Redeemer. Amen.
Then shall the Minister say,
FATHER mercies, and of all comfort;
unto thee for succour in behalf of this thy servant, who is now under the sentence of condemnation. The day of his calamity is at hand, and he is accounted as one of those who go down into the pit. Blessed Lord, remember thy mercies; look upon his infirmities; hear the voice of his complaint; give him, we beseech thee, patience in this his time of adversity, and support under the terrors which encompass him; set before his eyes the things he hath done in the body, which have justly provoked thee to anger; and forasmuch as his continuance appeareth to be short amongst us, quicken him so much the more by thy grace and Holy Spirit; that he, being converted and reconciled unto thee, before thy judgments have cut him off from the earth, may at the hour of his death depart in peace, and be received into thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
SAVIOUR of the world, who by thy Cross and precious Blood hast redeemed us; Save us, and help us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord.
T Then the Minister, standing, shall say, the midst of life we are in death; of whom may we
art justly displeased?
Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.
Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears to our prayer; but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and merciful Saviour, thou most worthy Judge eternal, suffer us not, at our last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from thee.