1632 By George Herbert

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 fashionable-
ness 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 dili-
gently 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 con-
demnation 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 Testament
Elisha 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 im-
precation 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 Commina-
. 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 them-
selves, 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?

Editor's Note: Herbert mentions the importance of the blessing in "The Church Porch" Stz. 73.

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