'All have need of penitence': A Keble sermon for Lent I

From a Keble sermon for First Sunday in Lent (in his Sermons for the Christian Year: Lent to Passiontide), an extract demonstrating a quite conventional Old High Lenten piety, shaped by the Commination and the general Confession at the Holy Communion. Again, there is no sense - as in his Ash Wednesday sermon - that the Commination is in any way lacking because of the absence of older, abandoned ceremonies. Likewise, the general Confession is presented as the appropriate confession, with no mention being made of a necessity for another form of confession. These Prayer rites, in other words, can provide a sufficient liturgical and pastoral context for a response to Keble's call - "all have need of penitence".

Once more the time of Lent is come; in one year more the Holy Church has cried aloud in our ears and spared not. She has lifted up her voice like a trumpet, declaring as you heard last Wednesday, the sentences of God's wrath against impenitent sinners, who are such, how accursed they are in this world, and what their end must be in the next, if they do not betake themselves in time to their only Saviour. All this has sounded in our ears, every one of us, for indeed we are all concerned in it: it is a serious time for us all. Not for a few notorious sinners only, such as are called reprobates, and pointed at in all the neighbourhood; not for such only is this time of Lent appointed, but for all and every one of us. For Lent is a time of penitence, and all have need of penitence, or as the Commination Service calls it, of Penance ...

But most alas, or at least very many, must make a worse confession than this, if they speak the truth to God and to themselves, they must own themselves guilty of grievous deadly sin; for every thought indulged, word spoken, and deed done, against the known and remembered will of God, is indeed deadly sin: it makes a wound such as will kill the soul for ever, unless the proper remedy be applied. And the proper remedy is penitence, or penance ...

See how the Church teaches us all to confess our own condition to God: "We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we from time to time most grievously have committed, by thought, word, and deed against Thy Divine Majesty, provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable."


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