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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Bosom Confession

Andrewes restored Auricular Confession to its rightful place in the sacramental life of the English Church. Although sacramental confession was disliked by Puritans, yet confession of sin was not, as their diaries acted as their confessional, evident in these words of the Puritan Richard Rogers. It was "to know mine own heart better, where I know that much is to be gotten in understaunding of it, and to be acquainted with the divers corners of it and what sin I am most in daunger of and what dilig[ence] and means I use against sin and how I go under any affliction." This is what Andrewes sarcastically referred to as "bosom confession".

It would seem from the emphasis that Andrewes gave to sacramental confession in his sermons, lectures and Prayer Book notes that he regarded it as an essential part in the life of a Christian. The importance he attached to it was also evident in his insistence that Hooker's teaching on Auricular Confession be included in the publication of Book Six of Ecclesiastical Polity. Like Andrewes, Hooker was both a penitent and a confessor, evident in those words "such wounds must be searched to the very bottom" in man and revealed to God before his priest. "We labour to instruct men in such sort, that every soul which is wounded with sin may learn the way how to cure itself." However Hooker never insisted that Auricular Confession was absolutely necessary for every one, but it was available for all who needed it. Andrewes did not insist either, but yet there was always a pleading that men should, which is not there in Hooker. This was the reason for his reviving the office of confessor to the prebend stall of St. Pancras at St. Paul's Cathedral in the 1590's. It was also the motive in an Ash Wednesday sermon when he suggested to his contemporaries that they follow the "discipline of repentance" of the early Christians who during Lent were "open penitents in public" but now "in private". The true penitent will "confess humbly his sins before Thee, and ... crave pardon for them" and be thankful that God opened his eyes to sin. He always maintained that "it is a perfect signe of an humble and a good mind, when one can say from his heart, let me bear the shame and punishment of my sinne."

Dr. Marianne Dorman. Read the rest of it Here.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Antonio said...

Very interesting!!!!
(And specially useful to quote while talking with some "Reformed Christians" who insist that Sacramental Confession is Roman garbage)
Anyway, please keep quoting Andrewes.

3:44 pm  
Anonymous J. Gordon Anderson said...

It is interesting how auricular confession mostly died out until the Oxford Movement and the Ritualists came along. The Caroline Divines just couldn't get it into the mainstream of the life of the Church, probably because the BCP never had a specific rite for sacramental confession (except that little blurb in the Office for the Visitation of the Sick).

9:23 pm  

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