Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1911.
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[15 February, 1642/3.]
That flourishing Kingdomes have been ruin'd by impenitent going on in a course of sinning, the sacred story doth plainely tell us; and how neere to such a Ruine our sinfull Nation now is, the present lamentable Face of it doth too apparently show. And though wee should feele the heavy Stroakes of God, yet seven times more, it is our duty to accept the punishment of our Iniquity and to say, 'Righteous art thou O Lord, and just are thy judgements.'
Yet because the Lord who is just, is also mercifull, and in his infinite Mercy hath left the excellent and successfull remedy of Repentance to Nations brought neere to the Gates of Destruction and dispaire; O let not England be negligent in the application of it. Humble addresses of a penitent People to a Mercifull God have prevailed with Him. They prevailed for Nineveh, when the sentence seemed to be gon out against her, and may also prevaile for England.
Repentance for personal and national sins enjoined.
It is therefore thought most necessary by the Lords and Commons in Parliament, that all his Majesties Subjects in this Kingdome of England, be excited and stirred up, speedily to lay hold upon this onely and unfailing Remedy of Repentance; freely acknowledging, and heartily bewailing even with deepest humiliation, godly sorrow, and detestation, secretly and in families, but especially publikely in Congregations, both their own personall sins, and chiefely those sins that are and have bin the sins of this Nation. A confession of Nationall Sins being most agreeable to the Nationall Judgements, under which the Land groanes, and most likely to be effectuall for the removing of them.
National Sins enumerated.
Neither ought this confession to be sleight or light, when there is so heavy a weight of Sins, infinite in number, and hainous in nature, that lyes upon this nation. Such are the high Contempt of Gods holy Ordinances, and of Holinesse itselfe: Gross and affected ignorance, under the glorious light of the Gospel cleerly shineing among us; unfruitfulnesse under the precious meanes of Grace, Ingratitude for Mercies, Incorrigiblenesse under Judgements, multitudes of Oathes, and blasphemies, wicked prophanations of the Lords Day, by Sports and Gamings, formerly encouraged even by Authoritie. All sortes of uncleannesse, Luxury, of Excesse in Eating and Drinking. Vanity, pride, and prodigiality in Apparell; Envy, Contention, and unnaturall Divisions; Oppression, Fraud, and Violence; From diverse of which Sins and many other, not one person throughout the whole Nation can say that he is whollly free; but all must confesse that they have contributed toward the Great Stock of Nationall Sins. And so have increased the Treasure of Wrath, against these dayes of Wrath; and therefore since, according to the language of the Holy Ghost, we are a sinfull Nation, a people laden with Iniquity, and that from the sole of the Foot to the Head, there is no Soundnesse in us, we may justly expect the desolations that are denounced against so great and generall Corruption.
And as it is our duty to humble ourselves, and to give glory to God, the Searcher of all hearts, by confessing all sinnes; So ought we to be affected and humbled with deepest sense of sorrow for those most crying Sins, which now we find by too sad experience, to have a more immediate Influence upon the Distruction of a Kingdome; some of which are Idolatry and Bloodshed.
That of Idolatry, as it was the Sin of our Ancestors, so it is the Spreading sin of these latter times, while by a generall connivence, and almost Toleration, it hath beene severall wayes fomented and encouraged: The grievous effects whereof this Kingdome of England now begins to feele, from Multitudes of armed Papists, and their Abettors; and the Kingdome of Ireland far more heavily hath felt, being brought almost to utter Ruine, by the Intestine Warres of Romish Idolaters.
Murder and Bloodshed.
And for that other crying and cruell Sin of Bloodshed, that calls aloud for Vengeance (besides many Murders not expiated, and the blood-guilty pardoned) did it not goe hand in hand with hat abominable Idoll of the Masse, in the dayes of Queen Mary, and some of her Predecessors, when many hundreds of the deare Martyrs and Saints of God lost their precious Lives in Flames and prisons. And though severall Acts by which that Innocent blood was shed, have been repealed by Parliament: yet to this very day, was never ordeined such a solenme Publique and Nationall acknowledgement of this Sin, as might appease the wrath of that Jealous God, against whom, and against whose People, with so high a hand it was Committed.
Ministers to inculcate publicly Confession and Humiliation for Sins.
Now that all the Sin and Misery of this Polluted and Afflicted Nation may be bitterly sorrowed for, With such griefe of heart, and preparednesse for a thorow Reformation, as God may be pleased graciously to accept: It is required and Ordeined by the Lords and Commons in Parliament, That every Minister and Preacher of Gods word, in the Kingdome of England, and Dominion of Wales, in their severall Auditories and Congregations, especially upon the Fast-dayes, shall most earnestly perswade and Inculcate the constant practice of this publique acknowledgement and deepe humiliation for these, and all our Nationall and crying Sins, and likewise the necessity of a Personall and Nationall Reformation, and shall publish this Ordinance concerning the same: That so, at length we may obtaine a Firme and happy Peace both with God and Man, That Glory may dwell in our Land, and the prosperity of the Gospell with all the Priviledges accompanying it, may Crowne this Nation unto all succeeding Ages.