24th June 1559. Sin and Guilt.
For Christians down the centuries obsessed with sin the consequence for the human condition can only be described as negative-guilt- reducing it to a servility which a powerful authority such as the Church could, and did, exploit down, in an attentuated form, to the present.
Sin could only be expiated by Atonement and Repentance which came at a cost as Absolution could only be attained through priest-craft to be granted or withheld at whim.
From the Old Testament and the subsequent Doctrine of Original Sin; from Psalm 51- Miserere- (Have Mercy), to the Gospel of Matthew, ‘drawing after him a great crowd of sinners’ and the Pharisees ‘condemning Jesus for eating and drinking with sinners’, the common litany is sin.
It was an obsession taken up by the early Church Fathers–Augustine et al-to become a central issue in the age of the first Queen Elizabeth in 1559 when The Act for Uniformity of Common Prayer and Services in church and sacraments was passed.
The first effect was the repeal of the Act of Mary as and from Today 24th June 1559 and the restoration of The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) from that date.
Now all people had to attend church or face a fine and thus with the BCP in their hands they were again reminded of their sinfulness as it described:
‘The Ordre for the Administracion of the Lordes Supper or Holy Communion…And if any of those be open and notorious evil liver…or have done any wrong to hys neighbours by word or dede ye curate having knowledge thereof, shal cal hym, and advertyse hym…not to presume to the Lordes table, until he have openly declared himself to have truly repented and amended his former naughty lyfe that the congregacion be therby satisfied’(sic).
The Book of Common Prayer of 1559 would have been used by the priest and poet George Herbert reflected in his poems ‘The Church Porch’.
Herbert is classed as one of the metaphysical poets along with Marvel and Donne, and as so many parsons of the time obsessed with his sin.
This is seen in his Love (III), ‘Lord Bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back, /Guilty of Dust and Sin’.