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CHAP. XXXVI. The Parson Blessing.

THe Countrey Parson wonders, that Blessing the people is in so little use with his brethren: whereas he thinks it not onely a grave, and reverend thing, but a beneficial also. Those who use it not, do so either out of niceness, because they like the salutations, and complements, and formes of worldly language better; which conformity and fashionableness is so exceeding unbefitting a Minister, that it deserves reproof, not refutation: Or else, because they think it empty and superfluous. But that which the Apostles used so diligently in their writings, nay, which our Saviour himselfe used, Marke IO. 16, cannot bee vain and superfluous. But this was not proper to Christ, or the Apostles only, no more then to be a spirituall Father was appropriated to them. And if temporall Fathers bless their children, how much more may, and ought Spirituall Fathers? Besides, the Priests of the Old Testament were commanded to Blesse the people, and the forme thereof is prescribed, Numb. 6.[22-27.] Now as the Apostle argues in another case; if the Ministration of condemnation did bless, how shall not the ministration of the spirit exceed in blessing? The fruit of this blessing good Hannah found, and received with great joy, I Sam. I. 18. though it came from a man disallowed by God: for it was not the person, but Priesthood, that blessed; so that even ill Priests may blesse. Neither have the Ministers power of Blessing only, but also of cursing. So in the Old TestamentElisha cursed the children, 2 Kin. 2. 24. which though our Saviour reproved as unfitting for his particular, who was to shew all humility before his Passion, yet he allows in his Apostles. And therfore St. Peter used that fearfull imprecation to Simon Magus, Act. 8. [18-25]. Thy mony perish with thee: and the event confirmed it. So did St. Paul, 2 Tim. 4.14. and I Tim. I. 20. Speaking of Alexander the Coppersmith, who had withstood his preaching, The Lord (saith he) reward him according to his works. And again, of Hymeneus and Alexander, he saith, he had delivered them to Satan, that they might learn not to Blaspheme. The formes both of Blessing, & cursing are expounded in the Common-Prayer-book: the one in, The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c. and: The Peace of God, &c. The other in generall, in the Commination. Now blessing differs from prayer, in assurance, because it is not performed by way of request, but of confidence, and power, effectually applying Gods favour to the blessed, by the interesting of that dignity wherewith God hath invested the Priest, and ingaging of Gods own power and institution for a blessing. The neglect of this duty in Ministers themselves, hath made the people also neglect it; so that they are so far from craving this benefit from their ghostly Father, that they oftentimes goe out of church, before he hath blessed them. In the time of Popery, the Priests Benedicite, and his holy water were over highly valued; and now we are fallen to the clean contrary, even from superstition to coldnes, and Atheism. But the Parson first values the gift in himself, and then teacheth his parish to value it. And it is observable, that if a Minister talke with a great man in the ordinary course of complementing language, he shall be esteemed as ordinary complementers; but if he often interpose a Blessing, when the other gives him just opportunity, by speaking any good, this unusuall form begets a reverence, and makes him esteemed according to his Profession. The same is to be observed in writing Letters also. To conclude, if all men are to blesse upon occasion, as appears Rom. 12. 14. how much more those, who are spiritual Fathers?

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