A True and Christian Confession: John Jewel

From A Treatise of the Sacraments, 1583

We are taught to lay open and acknowledge our sins, not to hide them, but to make confession of them. This is done in two ways; either in the secret thought of thy heart before God, or else in the hearing and presence of men. David made confession of his sins before God. “I acknowledge my sin before you, neither do I hide my iniquity…. (Psalm 22)… And again, “I know my iniquity and my sin is ever before me; against you, against you only have I sinned, and done evil in your sight (Psalm 51). Daniel made such a confession (Daniel 9): “We have sinned, and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly; truly, we have rebelled, and have departed from your precepts, and from your judgments.  For we would not obey your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, and to all the people of the land.’  Even so, the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 64): “Behold you are angry, for we have sinned… We have all been as an unclean things, and all our righteousness is as filthy clouts; and we do fade like a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away… But now, O Lord, you are our father: we are the clay, you are the potter, and we all are the work of your hands.”  This is a true and Christian confession.  We are required after this sort to examine ourselves and confess our sins before God; whoever does not do this will not find mercy and forgiveness of his sins. 

John Jewel (1522-1571) was Bishop of Salisbury and one of the most influential Anglican theologians of the Elizabethan period, the author of many polemical works, including the first major defenses of the English Reformation and the liturgy and polity of the Church of England. A Treatise of the Sacraments is a posthumous work, a collection of sermons he preached in Salisbury Cathedral.


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