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try embraced him, and so did others of the Church who were next him, and then a psalm of thanksgiving was sung.'

In 1570 the General Assembly ordained that those excommunicated persons who had not been members of the Church before, but were now anxious to submit themselves and be received into the society of the faithful, should be “receavit be the minister in low and humble habite, with sackcloth, observing the order prescryvit in the book of excommunicatioune in all uther poynts. The General Assembly in 1573 enacted that: -“Greit men offending in sic crymes as deserves sackcloath; they should receave the samen as well as the puire.” And further that :-"No Superintendent nor Commissioner, with advyce of any particular kirk of their jurisdictione, may dispense with the extreamitie of sackcloath prescryvit be the acts of generall discipline, for any pecuniall soume ad pios usus.3

Those who had been excommunicated for capital crimes were not suddenly admitted to public repentance, albeit that pardon had been purchased of the magistrate. If a murderer,-inquiry was made if he had satisfied the kindred of the slain man, which if he had not done, and was unwilling to do, then the Church would not hear him. And as in no case could the excommunicated be received by the Church at his first request, so if guilty of a capital crime, forty days at the least after his first offer were appointed to try his repentance. During which time the Church might comfort him by wholesome admonitions, assuring him of God's mercy if he was verily penitent; and admitting him to the hearing of the word, but in nowise to participation of prayers either before or after sermon. After these forty days were expired, upon his new suit, the superintendent or session might enjoin such pains as would test bis penitence. In 1568 the General Assembly ordained that “nane that hes committit slaughter, adulterie, or incest, or hereafter shall committ the same, shall be receavit to repentance be any particular kirk, till that first they present themselffss before the Generall Assemblie, thair to receave their injunctions; and thereafter they shall keep the same order that was prescryved to Paull Methven in his repentance ; this being addeit, that he or they shall beir in their hand at all the tymes of their publick repentance the same or lyke weapon wherewith the murther was committit.” 5 The said Paul Methven was enjoined to appear at the kirk-door of Edinburgh, when the second bell rang for public worship, “clad in sackcloth, bareheaded and barefooted, and there remaine whill he be brought into the sermone, and planted in the publick spectacle above the people, in tyme of every sermone," on three several preaching days, the last being a Sabbath, he was at the close of the sermon to profess bis sorrow before the congregation, and to request their forgiveness; upon which he was again to be “clad in his own apparell, and received in the societie of the kirk, as ane lyvely member thereof."? When they presented themselves before the General Assembly the second time to receive further instructions, they had to do so in linen clothes, bareheaded and barefooted. In 1570 [71] it was ordained that, as diverse of the said offenders are far distant from the places of General Assemblies and others for poverty or deadly feuds could not or dared not travel so far through the country, they should therefore appear before the half-yearly Synods. And in 1588 when Presbyteries had been established through the country, they were to make satisfaction before them. ? In March 1569 [70] it was concluded that bomicides, incestuous persons, and adulterers, not fugitive from the law, but “continually suteing to be receavit be the Kirk to publick repentance," should be received, “ to give the signes of their repentance in their awne kirks, according to the order appoyntit before, at qwhilk tyme the minister shall publickly notifie their crymes, that thereby the civill magistrates may know the crymes, and pretend no ignorance thereof.” The same Assembly ordained that those who had not suffered the sentence of excommunication for their offences should make their public repentance in sackcloth, bareheaded and barefooted, three several preaching days, while those who had been excommunicated were to present themselves six preaching days. Those wbo had not been excommunicated, “shall be placit in the publick place where they may be knowne from the rest of the people, bareheaded the tyme of the sermones, the minister remembering them in his prayer in the tyme after preaching;” while those who had been excommunicated were to stand at the kirk-door,

1 In Cyprian's time, it seems that no one, who had been excommunicated, was received into church-communion again, without imposition of hands. SMECTYMNVVS, p. 40.

2 Booke of the Universall Kirk, p. 127.
3 lbid, p. 139.
* Order of Excommunication and Public Repentance.
5 Booke of the Universall Kirk, p. 100.

“ secluded from prayers before and after sermone, and then enter in the kirk, and sit in the publick place bareheaded, all the tyme of the sermons, and depart before the latter prayer.'

As it was then customary in the Church of Scotland for the people to keep their hats on during the sermon, the uncovering of the penitents distinguished them in another way

" 3

i Booke of the Universall Kirk, p. 45. 2 Ibid, pp. 120, 125, 326. 3 Ibid, p. 118.

from the congregation.' According to the order of Excommunication, the murderer, wbile standing at the church door, with the bloody weapon in his hand was to confess his crime and its enormity ; express his desire to be reconciled again to the Church ; and crave the people entering to pray with him to God that his grevious sin might be pardoned, and that they would with him supplicate the Church, that he might not abide thus excommunicated to the end. After his satisfaction was completed, he was received back into the Church in the manner already described.



CHAPTER XIII. Elihu most gravely speaketh (Job xxxiii. 13). “Why dost thou strive with Him, for He gives not an account of any of His matters ?” And it is strange that any dare chide or scold with the Sovereign Lord.

But 1. Jacob's striving and wrestling in a holy wilful peremptoriness in praying, the Lord being on Jacob, the wrestler's side, really to bear him up by His grace, is a lawful striving.

2. There is a difference betwixt a mere temptation and a threatening. The woman of Canaan strives not against Christ's not answering her one word (Matt. xv.) What ! He is Master of His own answers ! When Christ says: “I came not but for the lost sheep of the house of Israel," she strives not. He is Master of His own journey from heaven to earth-yet that answer weakens her not in the duty of praying and worshipping. But when she is reproached as to her interest in Christ: “It is not meet to take the children's bread and cast it to dogs," she mildly, yet in the boldness of faith, contradicts Christ.

3. It is a gracious behaviour in the Man Christ that He is affected with grief for the Lord's forsaking, and expresseth it with tears and strong cries (Heb. v. 7). Should not the child weep when the Father is angry? The privation of the greatest good, such as the overclouding of the Lord's favour, is a due cause of sadness.

“Woman, why weepest thou?" saith the angel to Magdalene. “Why weep I? They have taken away my Lord.” “ It wants not reason I weep, for my father is dead : there is my mother's grave: she is very new buried,—therefore I weep: all my goods are taken away,

1 “A man coming into one of our churches in time of public worship, if he see the hearers covered, he knows by this customable sign that sermon is begun.” English Popish ceremonies. Part 3, chap. 5, sect. 6.


and therefore I weep : yet the Lord hath forsaken me, and I weep not: that is dreadful." So Job, Jeremiah, David, and Hezekiah, are sadly afflicted when the Lord seems angry.

4. There is a sovereignty in hearing or not hearing of prayer, against which we must not strive. Sometimes the unwritten bill is answered (Isa. Ixv. 24), and the Lord yields to our blank papers and subscribes them. Sometimes he hears the dumb man's signs, and his breathing instead of his praying (Isa. xxxviii. 14, 20; Lam. iii. 56; Psalm vi. 8). Sometimes the Lord hears, and sends the message of deliverance, but we hear not, nor do we know or feel that He hears (Psalm xviii. 4, 5, 6, compared with verse 16).

One crying for comfort, may be heard and not comforted. But, saith God, " As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you, and ye shall be comforted. And when ye see this, your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall nourish like a green herb.”

5. The clay's “No," and the great potter's “ Aye,” and vain man's “I will,” and the Almighty's “I will not ?-are most unsuitable. Isa. xxix. 16.—“Shall the work say of Him that made it—He made me not? or shall the thing framed, say of Him that framed it: He hath no understanding ?” Rom. ix. 20,-—" Who art thou, 0 man, that repliest against God ?” (Isa. xlv. 9.; Jer. xviii. 6,)-Humble speaking to God doth well become us. Abraham excuses his contrary pleading with God (Gen. xviii. 27).

Beware then of murmuring and angry and fretting words against God. “Were there no graves in Egypt ?" (Ex. xiv. 11; and much more). It is dreadful to contend with the Almighty: and for so small a thing as a drink of water, and for a piece of flesh, should we fall a pleading with the Sovereign Lord ?

Especially we should not counter-work the uncontrollable providence of God : for that is to give the Lord battle, and to lead an army against Him : as Isa. ix. 10.

There be diverse kinds of striving with the Almighty. Such are they who blasphemously oppose the shining and convincing power of the Spirit in Christ casting out devils. Such are they who gnash with the teeth and spit · upon the shining beauty of godliness in Stephen.

6. Despairing stoutly of mercy and the power of grace, is of this sort; when Cain, Judas, and others defy Omnipotence and infinite mercy to save them, and spitefully hate the influences of saving grace, and say, “Mercy cannot save me; the complete ransom of the blood of God cannot buy me from the second death.” To this we may reduce a lazy despairing. “What if I be never saved—I can, I will do no more !” The people are bidden return. “Nay, there

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is no hope,” say they ; (Jer xviii. 12), “but we will walk after our own devices."

7. There is here the fainter reproaching of Omnipotence as if God were weary, and not able to bring back the captive people (Isa. xi. 27, 28). Hence the Lord must prove His Omnipotence by that rare piece the curtain of heaven stretched out, and a measuring line drawn over the earth (Isa. li. 13, 15).

8. There is a proud disputing with God, when we dare give in a bill against God. “Ah, He takes me for His enemy.' “ He hath left off to be gracious." An ungracious God is no God. Othe pride of a tempted mind that dare oppose the very existence of God!

Some say God hath need to be instructed to govern the world better. Otherwise, what needed that be said by Isaiah (xl. 13). Or what needs that (Job xxi. 22), “Shall any teach God knowledge ? seeing He judgeth things that are high." What a God is an unknowing God, who needs a lesson from the creature? What a carnal mind is this, that chaseth the Almighty God out of the world !

What do they who curse the day, the stars, the twilight, the birth? (as Job iii.) A gracious heart saith, “Let the Lord be the Lord;" and closes with all the attributes of God, and with all the influences of Omnipotence-wisdom, goodness, and justice on men, and of love, mercy, grace, bounty, forbearance to the saints, and to their own soul. This is to sing mercy and to sing judgment; whereas it is a note of atheism to wish and vote God out of the world with His attributes and all the acting and influences of mercy, justice, truth, grace, sovereignty, and to say : “ It is not the Lord : the Lord can neither do good, neither can He do evil” (Zeph. 1).

9. So should we beware to fight with the Lord's dispensations of grace. He is Lord and sovereign Disposer of His own comforts.

The Lord's saving influences go along with His free decree of Election. And look, as the Lord of nature preserves the species of roses, of vine-trees, though this or that individual rose or vine-tree may wither and be blasted, so He holds on the work of believing, praying, of hoping and persevering to the end, though there may be a miscarrying in this or that particular act of faith, and some deadness in praying for the time. And as in a great work of a watermill, some one of the wheels may be broken, and yet the mill is kept agoing, and the ship still under sail, though some instrument or other be wanting and laid aside for a while ; so when there is a withdrawing of feeling of a presence in praying (as Cant. v. 6—" I called Him, but He answered me not”-yet influences flow in another duty of praising ; (v. 10)“My beloved is white and ruddy, and the chief among ten thousand.”

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