Knox: A Confession and Prayer

O dreadful and most mighty God,

You that from the beginning have declared Yourself a consuming fire against despisers of Your most holy precepts and yet to the penitent sinners has always shown Yourself a favorable Father and a God full of mercy:

We, Your creatures and workmanship of Your own hands, confess ourselves most unworthy to open our eyes unto the heavens, but far less to appear in Your presence, For our consciences accuse us, and our manifest iniquities have borne witness against us that we have declined from You, We have been polluted with idolatry; we have given Your glory to creatures; we have sought support where it was not to be found and have taken lightly Your most wholesome admonitions. The manifest corruption of our lives in all areas evidently proves that we have not rightly regarded Your statutes, laws, and holy ordinances; and this was done, O Lord, not only in the time of our blindness, but even now, when of Your mercy You hast opened unto us an entrance to Your heavenly kingdom by the preaching of Your holy gospel, the whole body of this miserable nation still continueth in their former impiety. For the most part—alas!—following the footsteps of the blind and obstinate leaders, utterly despise the light of Your gospel and delight in ignorance and idolatry; others live as a people without God and without all fear of Your terrible judgments. And some, O Lord, that in mouth profess Your blessed gospel, by their slanderous life blaspheme the same.

We are not ignorant, O Lord, that You are a righteous Judge that cannot suffer iniquity long to be unpunished in the obstinate transgressors, especially, O Lord, when that after such long blindness and horrible defection from You, so lovingly You call us again to Your favor and fellowship, and yet we do obstinately rebel. We have, O Lord, in our extreme misery, called unto You; yes, even when we appeared utterly to have been consumed in the fury of our enemies, then did You mercifully incline Your ears unto us. You fought for us even by Your own power, when in us there was neither wisdom nor force. You alone break the yoke from our necks and set us at liberty, when we by our foolishness had made ourselves slaves unto strangers; mercifully unto this day have You continued with us the light of Your gospel and so cease not to heap on us benefits both spiritual and temporal.

But yet—alas!—O Lord, we clearly see that our great ingratitude craves further punishment at Your hands, the signs of which are evident before our eyes. For the whispering of sedition, the contempt of Your graces offered, and the maintenance of idolatry are assured signs of Your further plagues to fall on us in particular for our grievous offenses. And this immeasurable intemperance of the air does also threaten Your accustomed plague of famine that commonly followeth riotous excess and contempt of the poor, where with, alas, the whole earth is replenished. We have nothing, O Lord, that we may lay between us and Your judgment but Your only mercy freely offered to us in Your dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, purchased to us by His death and passion. For if You will enter into judgment with Your creatures and keep in mind our grievous sins and offenses, then can there no flesh escape condemnation.

Therefore, we most humbly beseech You, O Father of mercies, for Christ Jesus Your Son’s sake, to take from us these stony hearts, which so long have heard as well Your mercies as severe judgments and yet have not been effectually moved with the same, and give unto us hearts mollified by Your Spirit that may both conceive and keep in mind the reverence that is due unto Your majesty.

Look, O Lord, unto Your chosen children laboring under the imperfections of the flesh and grant unto us that victory which You have promised unto us by Jesus Christ Your Son, our only Savior, Mediator, and Lawgiver, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and praise, now and ever. Amen.

-John Knox, Taken from Laing, Works of John Knox, 6:294-96. [language modernized]

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