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and sorrow for sin that shall be fully equal to the demerit, ut cum scelerum magnitudine æquari conferrique possit, which is impossible for mortal man ; and therefore all must be danned without this sacrament of penance. And they say,
And they say, it was necessary that God should institute this sacrament, as an easier way for men to get to heaven. Quare necesse fuit ut clementissimus Dominus faciliori ratione communi hominum saluti consuleret. An easy way indeed! Confess to a priest and get absolution, and this makes up the defects of your repentance, and you are saved, ex opere operato, by the work wrought, by the bare performance of this sacrament. And the Council of Trent anathematizes all those who say that the very sacraments of the gospel do not confer grace in the same manner, by the bare performance. Si quis dixerit per ipsa novæ legis sacramenta ex opere operato non conferri gratiam—anathema sit. Sess. 7. can. 8. It is true that God did institute his sacraments as means of
grace, (for which we bless his name daily in our General Thanksgiving) but this turns them into charms, when the very sacraments themselves, ipsa sacramenta, confer the grace, ex opere operato, by the bare performance of the work.
Let us exemplify this to ourselves by the like use made of the institutions of God under the law. The Jews had got this notion of the opus operatum, that the bare performance of the letter of the law, in their sacrifices, feasts, fasts, and other observances, was all that was required of them. Whence the voices of all the prophets were against these institutions, they call them iniquity, abomination, and hateful to God. Nay, God denies that he did require them, or ever did institute them. * That is, as a dead carcase without a soul, and working like charms by the bare opus operatum. God did never institute such, nor does require them at our hands. And may we not say, no more under the gospel than the law? For the gospel introduced a more pure and spiritual worship, but the Council of Trent by naming only the sacraments of the new law, applics the opus operatum to them also, if not chiefly.
What else is the meaning of tying men to the repetition of such a precise number of Ave-s and Pafer-s and Credo-s, at such particular times, whether the mind goes along with them, or not? For you will see people in the markets, buying and selling, or discoursing of common business, and dropping their beads all the while, to keep count if they have rightly performed their task of the opus operatum.
But if prayers and sacraments, which are means of grace of God's own institution, may be thus abused, and rendered hateful to God: what shall we say of those means of grace which are of man's mere invention ? None can appoint the means but he who has the bestowing of the end to be obtained by those means: as if I have a thousand pounds to bestow, I may put what conditions I think fit, and appoint the means for the obtaining it; and none else can appoint the means. Now
grace is the gift of the Holy Ghost, and none can appoint the means of obtaining it, but
* Isa.i, 11, 12, 13, 14. Jer, vii. 22.
wlio has the bestowing of the Holy Ghost; which it is the highest blasphemy for any creature to assume to himself; hence Christ's sending the Holy Ghost is a sure proof of his divinity : but the church of Rome takes upon her to appoint means of grace, many, and various ; the whole pontifical is made up of the forms of consecration of every thing almost one can think of into means of grace, as bells, books, candles, water, salt, oil, , ashes, palms, swords, banners, and vestments of divers sorts, even to children's clouts, besides crosses, pictures, images, Agnus Dei-s, &c. By the use of which, in the manner prescribed, several graces, both ghostly and bodily, are said to be obtained, as besides the favour of God, and the remission of sins, the saving from fire, from diseases, from storms at sea, thunder, lightoing, and tempest at land, at which times they ring their consecrated bells, to allay the winds, and chase away the dæmons of the air, who seeing the sign of the cross upon such bells, and hearing their sound, shall be frighted and fly away, as it is expressed in the form of consecration of bells in the pontifical. Nay there is nothing in the world so insignificant, a rose, or a feather, which the Pope may not consecrate into a means of grace, and is in use every day. And at Rome they are counted atheists who have not faith in these things. So much they place their religion in them!
L. The Dissenters object all this to you, as to your rites, ceremonies, habits, &c.
G. But without any ground, for we consecrate none of these things, nor do we attribute any virtue, ghostly or bodily, to the use of them, as to the wearing a surplice, hearing a bell. or an organ, &c. they are purely for decency and order, and we may change them, or take them quite away every day, as our governors think fit. Can they shew any outward action or thing appointed in our church, by the use of which evil spirits may be chased away, women helped in labour, or storms at sea quelled ? all which and many more virtues are attributed in your church to the use of what you call holy water, and many other such like institutions of mechanical means of grace.
But that which makes up the bulk of the Romish devotions is, the worship and invocation of saints and angels, the adoration of their images, and of the reliques of saints departed, pieces of their bodies or of their vestments, &c. to which great miracles are attributed, and therefore they arė made, strictly and properly, means of grace. ,
L. We desire the prayers of one another upon earth, why not much rather of the saints and angels in heaven?
G. Because the one is commanded, the other not, nay forbidden, as I will shew you.
L. It seems to be giving greater glory to God, and more humility in us, not to approach his presence directly and immediately ourselves, as we do not to an earthly king, but by the introduction and recommendation of some eminent courtier whom we know to be in his favour.
G. Your simile will halt on all four, for God is nearer to us than any saint or angel ;
6 in God we
live and move and have our being;” but the angels and saints departed are at distance from us, and we know not where to find them, or that they hear our prayers, for they are not every where, that is an attribute of God alone.
L. Therefore our schoolmen say, they see our prayers in speculo Trinitatis, in the looking-glass of God.
G. Do they see everything in that looking-glass? Then they know as much as God! But if not, then how do we know they see our prayers there? And how will this sort with your simile of an earthly king, that the courtier must go to the king to know what I desired the courtier to ask of him?
“ Abraham is the father of us all,"* " and he was called the friend of God." Therefore it is likely that he saw as far into that looking-glass as another. Yet it is said, Isa. Ixiii. 16, “ that Abraham is ignorant of us.” And are not we as ignorant of their state, and what knowledge they have of us below? We are told that they have no knowledge of it. sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.”
L. It is said, that the angels of heaven rejoice over a sinner that repenteth.
G. That is when it pleaseth God to let them know it, or that the sinner comes thither. But that they know of every penitent upon earth, is no where said, nor do I know it asserted by any.
* Rom. iv. 16.
+ Jam. ii. 23.
Job. xiv. 21.