Obrazy na stronie

Luk. 10. 16.

of Heaven which Christ did. He that heareth you faith Christ, beareth me; T. p. 244. and be that dispiseth you, despiseth me, (who sent you,) and be that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.

In the next place let us see the manner or method, how Christ did remit and retain Sins in the Execution of his Mission, and we lhall fiod the Apostles exactly follow the very fame Manner or Method, according to his Example and his Command. Christ remitted Sins by giving his folemn Promise so to do to every one that should Repent and Believe his Gospel; and his Promises are the highest and the most infallible Securities that God's Veracity and Everlasting Truth can make to the Children of Men; They are, Tea, and Amen; the performance of the Condition first, and then the performance of the Promises are inseparable. Repent, faith Christ, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Mat: 4. 17. Come unto me all ye that Labour and are heavy Laden and I will give you c. 11. 28. reft

. He that believeth on (me) the Son, Shall have everlasting Life, and Joh. 6. 40. 47. 1 will raise him up at the last day; nay, he that believeth on me hath, even now, everlasting Life. I am the Resurrection and the Life, he that Joh. 11. 25, 26. believeth in me ihough he were Dead yet shall he Live, and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, hall not die forever, He that heareth my Joh. 5. 24. word and believeth on him that sent me, bath everlasting Life and Mall not come into Condemnation. Next Christ after his threatning eternal Death to the Unbelievers and Disobedient, retained Sins, by leaving the Impenitent and refractory as he found them, or rather worse, that is, under a much greater Guilt then what they had before they heard his Gospel. Wo unto thee Chorazin, wo Mat.11. 21, 22. unto thee Bethsaida, for if the mighty Works which were done in you had T. p.245. been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have Repented long ago; Wherefore it shall be more tolerable for them at the day of Judgment then for you. So, Thou Capernaum which art exalted to Heaven shall be thrust down Luk. 10. 15. to Hell. So to the proud unbelieving Pharasees, because ye say, we see, (yet

Joh. 9. 41. Night my Doctrine) therefore your Sin remaineth. Ye Mall seek me and c. 8. 21. Shall die in your Sins. If ye believe not that I am he, ye mall die in your Sins. 0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered tby Mat. 23. 373 Children together, as a Hen gathereth ber Chickens and ye would not.38. Bebold your House is left unto you defolate. If thou had/t known, at least Luk. 19. 42. in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy Peace! But now they are hid from thine Eyes. The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you. Wo Mat. 21. 43. be unto you Scribes and Pharisees, fill you up the Measure of your Fathers; ye Serpents, ye generation of Vipers, how can you escape the Damnation of Hell . He that hear my words and keep them not, my words Mall judge him

Joh. 12. 47, at the last day. Sometimes in the same place he forgave the Sios of the Pe- 48. nitent Believers, and retains the Sins of the Obdurate and the Contumacious. He that believeth on him (Christ) is not condemned, but he that believeth Joh. 3. 18. 36. not is.condemn'd already; The first, hath everlasting Life, and the latter, Jall not see Life, but the Wrath of God abideth on him. All that are in Joh. 5.28, 29. their Graves shall come forth; they that have done Good unto the Refurrection of Life, and they that have done Evil unto the Resurrection of Damnation. He that beareth my sayings, and doth them, is like a House built upon a Rock, Immoveable; He that doth them not, is built upon Sand, and must expect nothing but ruin. And where Christ remitted Sins to particular Perfons, it was all along upon these Conditions or Terms of the Gospel, Faith and Repentance. He knew their thoughts, he knew their Faith; So that his Key could not err, but the Judgment of any private · Priest, at least in these days, is at best but conjectural and uncertain, and therefore may be mistaken, especially if it be positive and not conditional. Thus Christ said to the Man fick of the Pally, Son be of good chear thy Sins be forgiven thee; He saw their Faith, and knew their Thoughts. To Mary Magdalen, or the sinfull Woman, Her Sins Mat. 9. 2. 4. which are many are forgiven, for she loved much; Thy Sins are forgiven, Luk. 7-47, 48, thy Faith bath saved thee, go in Peace. Christ seemed to make his curing H h


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T. p. 245. of Diseases and his forgiveness of Sins, the Consequences or Fruits of Faith

and Repentance alike. To the Man Sick of the Pally, Son thy Sins be for. given thee; Arise take up thy Bed and Walk; he saw and knew the Faith both of the Sick Man and of them that brought him, and in the fame mo

ment he was actually loosed from his Sins and from his Infirmity. To the Joh. 5. 14. Man who lay by the pool of Bethesda, Behold thou art made whole, Sin no

more; his former Sins and Jofirmity were remitted together. So to the AJoh. 8. 11. dulteress, neither do I condemn thee, Sin no more. To the Woman with the Mar.:34. T. p246

Issue of Blood, Daughter thy Faith hath made thee whole, go in Peace; he Mark. s. 36. gave her Peace both of Body and Mind. To the Ruler of the Synagogue, be

not afraid, only believe. This was not a bare belief that Christ could do the Cure, but a belief of his Gospel, and therefore he took only thole who were thus faithfull into the room with him where the Damsel lay, Peter, James, and John, and her Father and Mother. So to the Canaanitiih Woman, O

Woman great is thy Faith. That is very remarkable which we read of his Math: 13.58. doing Miracles; He did not, (or could not do ) any mighty work in his own Mark. 6. 5, 6. Country because of their unbelief; as if Cures and forgiveness of Sins de

pended upon their Faith and Repentance. Behold thou art made whole, Sin no more, least a worse thing come unto thee; Relapses in Sin, may well produce Relapses in the Body, both are dangerous.

Thus far we have Christ's own Example in remitting and retaining Sins, Joh. 20. 21. let us view his Command to his Apostles, as my Father sent me to send I

you. To do what? To proclaim Pardon and Forgiveness of Sins to the Penitent Believers of the Gospel, and to denounce eternal Deab to the Obstinare and Refractory despisers of ir. For thus runs Christ's last commandment given to them upon Earth; Go ye into all the World and Preach the Gospel to every Creature; and immediately he gives then the summ of that Golpel in these words, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that

believeth not shall be damned. He gave the very fame Commission and Coun. Mat. 10. 5. 7, sel more particularly when he first fent forth the Twelve, go Preach, saying,

the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand; whatsoever City or Town ye shall Acts 13. 48. enter, enquire who in it is worthy (who are, ti ta yngedévoi els {wir, disposed to

life by an honest Heart, and do desire to be reform d, Queellavor Tòv Oedy, they vers. 26. that feared God; as it is their explaind, and there abide when you come into

an House Salute it, say Peace be to this House ( which is a common SaluLuk. 10. 5,6. tation in the East to this very day, ) and if the House be Worthy (if the

Son of Peace be there), your Peace Mall rest upon it. Let your Peace come upon it; ( what was this but the Peace with God, the Peace of Conscience, by their admission into the Covenant of Grace ? Thus they were in their Preaching, to remit Sins to the Hearers (upon their Faith and Repentance ;) and

whosoever Mall not receive you, nor Hear your words, when ye depart out Mar. 6. 11. of that House or City, Jake of the dust of your Feet (for a Teltimony against

them) verily I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the Land of Sodom, and Gomorrah in the day of Judgment then for that City. Thus they were to retain the Sins of the disobedient; they were to leave them faster

Bound in their Infidelity. The very fame Command and Instruction Christ Luk. 10. 16. gave to the Seventy, adding this Seal to their Commission, be that heareth

you, heareth me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth me, and be that deSpiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.

Now we shall see that the Practice of the Apostles (in doing that for which they were sent ) in Preaching the Gospel, and thereby in remitting and retaining Sins, which was exactly conformable to Christ's Example, Direction, and

Command. In the very first Sermon that ever was made, we read, that, the Act. 2.37, 38, hearers were pricked in their Hearts, and said to the Apostles, Men and

Brethren what shall we do? Peter gave them for Antwer, this weighT. p. 247

ty Summary both of the Gospel and of their Preaching; Repent and be Baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the Remision of Sins.


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And immediately, they that gladly received his word, (that inwardly and T. : 2473 faithfully renounced their former Sinfull ways) were Baptized, and the fane day were added about 3000 Souls. It is not likely that so many in one day could each of them come to a Peculiar, Private, Auricular, Confession; but every one of them examin'd himself, and found his own Heart pricked and struck with fincere Repentance, and accordingly they did Unanimously and Cheerfully testify it, by receiving the outward sign of that inward Grace, which is Baptism. So St. Peter Preaching in Solomon's Porch to the People concerning the cure of the lame Map which he and John had Healed, in persuance of the very fame end for which he was sent, assures them that upon their firm Faith in Christ, and their fincere Repentance, their Sins are remitted; His name, through Aa. 3.16,19. Faith in his name, hath made this Man strong, whom you see and know; 26. yea, the Faith which is by him, hath given him this present foundness in the presence of you all; Repent ye therefore and be Converted, that your

Sins may be blotted out; God having raised up his Son Jefus, fent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his Iniquities. In the same manner Paul remitted Sins to the mixed Mulcitude at Antioch; Be it known A&.13.38,39 unto you, Men and Brethren, that through this Man (Christ) is Preached 43. tinto you the Forgiveness of Sins; and by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the Law of Moses. And immediately, Many of the Jews and Religious Proselites follow'd Paul ; verf. 48. verf. and as many of the Gentiles as were disposed (that is, feared God,) believed. 26. Paul at Lystra, steadfastly beholding a lame Man, and perceiving that he had

Act. 13.9, 10. Faith to be Healed, said with a loud Voice, stand up right on thy Feet; and he remitted his Sins and his Infirmity together; for stand upright, and thy Sins be forgiven thee, are of the fame import. Lydia's Heart was so Maik. 2. 9. open'd, that she attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul, and Act 16. 14. 15. she was baptized and her whole Houshold; thus their Sins were remitted. So he and Silas laid to the keeper of the Prison, believe in Jesus Christ and thou Malt be saved, and thy House; and straightway they were all Baptized. Thus the Apostles, by their Prcaching, remitted Sins, ipio facto, to their faithfull hearers; The summ of which was, Repent, Believe, and be Baptized, and all is done.

Now let us see how they retain’d Sins. We have a notable Instance in ELymas the Sorcerer, who withstood Paul and Barnabas, seeking to turn the A&. 13, 8, 9; Deputy, Sergius Paulus, from the Faith. Paul fixing his Eyes upon him said , joh. 8: 44. (after Christ's Example ) O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the Devil, thou Enemy of all Righteousness; wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? Behold the Hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind; and immediately fo he was. Paul thus left T. p. 248. him bound under a Curse he retained his Sin, which without Repentance should never be blotted out. So in the same place, after, he had proclaimed vers: 39, 40,

41,45,46,50, Justification to all those that believed, he gives this peremptory Admonition to unbelievers, be ware therefore least that come upon you, which is spoken of in the Prophets, behold you Despisers, and Worder, and Perish, for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe; though a Man declare it unto you. That is, your Sins shall be retain'd, and, as Christ himself before declared, ye Mall die in your Sins. And so the Jews Joh. §. 24. were in this place ferved, They were filled with envy and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming; Then Paul

and Barnabas boldly told them, it was necesary that the word of God Should first have been spoken to you; but seeing ye put it from you and judge your felves unworthy of everlasting Life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. And when the Jews still persisted in their Obstinacy, stirring up the devout and honourable Women, and the chief Men of the City, and raised Persecution against them and expelled them out of their Coafts, they (as Christ commanded, ) hook off the Dust of their Feet against them; and left their Mat. 10. 14.

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T: p. 248. Sins retained unto this day. So again when the Jews at Corinth, opposed them. A&. 18. 6. selves and blafphemed, Paul shook his Raiment and said unto them, your

blood be upon your own Heads, I am clean; and so once more he left their Sins retained. It is to this day, amongst many in the East, a token of the greatest Abhorrence and Detestation to shake the fore part of their Veft (in

stead of the old way of reading it) and cry, Slufre Allóh, God forgive. And Neh. 5. 13. fo Nehemiah of old pronouncing a curse against Ulurers and Ulury, shook his

lap, and said, so God Make out every Man from his House, that will not refore to every one, what hath been exalted and wrested from him, even thus be he shaken out and emptied. And Paul meant, by making his Raiment, the

very fame desolation to the heardhearted Jews, which Christ himself foretold; Mat. 23. 38.

their Sins are retain’d, and they are for their Unbelief Maken out of their

House and Country, and become Vagabonds all over the face of the Earth. AA&. 19, 8, 9. gain, when Paul had Preached three Months at Ephesus, and divers were

hardenid and believed not, but Spoke evil of that way, he departed from

them, and separated the Disciples likewise from them; that they should not Rev. 18. 4.

be partakers of their Sins which were retained, as their own were remitted. Having thus far seen the Practice of the Apostles as to this Matter, take now

St. Paul's own account of his Mission, and its end, in the very words of our SaAQ. 36.17,18. viour to him in the Heavenly Vision; I now send thee (to Jew and Gentile)

to open their Eyes, and to turn them from Darkness and the Power of Satan, and thereby to assure them of forgiveness of their Sins and Inheritance

among them which are fančtified by Faith that is in me. Here is most plainT. p. 249. ly declared what Christ meant when he gave the Apostles Authority and PowJoh. 20. 23. er to remit Sins ; That is, to give Christ's Words and Faithful Promise of it

to all the World; and by Preaching this infallible Truth to turn Men from

Darkness to Light, and from the Power of Satan to see them free from Sin. AA. 28. 26, So what was meant by retaining Sin, the fame Paul declares to the disagree

ing Jews at Rome, by Preaching to them who will not believe and repent, that they are quite deliver'd over to the power of Satan and the Slavery of Sin; He said it in that one Word, well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the Prophet unto our Fore-fathers, saying, go unto this People and say, Hearing ye shall Hear and shall not understand, and Seeing ye shall See and not perceive, for the Heart of this People is waxed fat, and their Ears are dull of Hearing, and their Eyes have they closed, least they should see with their Eyes, and be converted and I should heal them. What is all this but

that their Sins are retain'd? And that most justly, according to the fame ARom. 1. 28. postle's Doctrine elsewhere, as they did not like to retain God in their know

ledge, God gave them over to a reprobate Mind; their Sins is retained, and made part of its own Punishment, as it was of old with Ephraim, becaufe Ephraim hath made many Altars to Sin, Altars shall be to him to Sin.

From all this, I humbly conceive, that a plain and solid Answer may, now be given to that Question foregoing, Quorsum Claves, to what purpose was the Power of the Keys given, if Men are not brought to Auricular Confeffion. The Power of Binding and Loosing remain still as valid and secure in the Church as ever it did. The Prelates and Governors of it can and ought to cenfure, and, if need be, to Excommunicate all publick, scandalous Sinners; To give them fome publick mark of Disgrace and Reproof, or upon occafion to turn them quite out of the Christian Congregation, and upon their humble Submission and Solemn Renuntiation of their Extravagancies, or upon their publick Expressions and Sigos of their hearty and sincere Repentance, to restore them to their former State; Or to readmit them again into the Christian Commuoion.

This, for my part, I muft call, the first Power of the Keys, of Binding and Loofing, lodged in the Governors of the Church, a private Priest bath nothing to do with it. Next the Apostles as sent by Christ, the primitive Bishops


Hof. 8. 11.

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i Tim. 3. 10. Act. 14. 23•

as sent by them, and the fucceeding Bishops by them, and every Priest (in all T. p. 242. succeeding Ages) duly ordain'd and sent by them, have had, and they that live still have, Authority to Preach the word of God, that is, Power to give (and as I may so with Reverence fay) to pawn Christ's Infallible Word to every Sinner, that if he truly repent and unfeignedly believes bis Holy Gof pel, his Sins shall most surely be remitted; But if he will not Repent and Believe, that is, (if I may so have leave to speak) he will not take Christ's Word or trust his Promise, but will still go on in his obstinate and wicked Course, he t. p. 250. shall as furely die in his Sins, they thall be retained. This I take to be the Joh. 20. 21, second Power of the Keys, the Remitting and Retaining of Şin. In. Popish Authors we meet with a Common objection or two about this point;. It is said that any ordinary Christian can tell his Brother thus much, if you Believe and Repent you shall be saved, if not you are dama'd; Right. But I must fill think, that every Ordinary Christian (purely as fuch) hath no Authority or Warrant Positively as a Minister to give Christ's Word for this, except be be first sent to Rom. 10. 15. declare and pronounce it, that is, before he hath received this Authority from those to whom Christ hath left it, and entailed it; He that any other way en. Tit. 1. 5. treth into Christ's Sheepfold, as a Shepherd, is an arrogant Thief and a Robber. Job. 10. 1.

Again it is said, if this be all that is meant by remitting and retaining of Sins, it is the Singer himself that remits his owo Sins by his Repentance, or retains them by his disobedience; The Priest does neither the one nor the other to him, but leaves him purely to only God and himself. Right again. It is so in all Cures both of Body and Mind, the Power and Effect of it, is only God's; but if a Skilfull Physician coming into a Country, over-run with fome Epidemical Disease, should tell them, take this Medicine I will assure you that it shall infallibly cure you, but if you neglect it you will as surely dic; Now if those who take it recover, and those who neglect it Perish, though God is the Principal Cause by his Providence of both these Events, and the Patients concurred by willingly taking the Medicine, yet the Physician is rightly said to have cured all which recovered, and to have been exactly right in his Prognosticks towards those that died. The case is perfectly the same; the Preacher faith, believe and Repent, and your Sins are infallibly. Remitted, I give you Christ's Word, and this his Prescription, for your Spiritual Cure; but if you dispise and neglect it, your Sins are still Retain'd, and you can expect no. thing but eternal Death. God is the Principal Cause alike in both cafes, and the Patient and the Sinner concur in like manner in using or refusing the mcans ; Is not the Preacher thea as truly faid to Remit or Retain the Sins, as the Physician is to work the Cure or foretell the Patient's Death?

That this is the true and plain meaning of this second Power of the Keys, besides what hath been said, appears, from that of St. Paul, To us (the Apostles , Cor. 5. 18, faith he,) was given diaxivía tñs xatamcgñs, the Ministry, or Administration, 19, 20. of Reconciliation; which there he thus explains, God was in Christ Reconciling the World unto himself, that is, not imputing their Trespasses unto them; and hath committed to us, or put or placed in us, Jéuer ou év szero tór róyou tñs xa ta Morñs, the Word of Reconciliation, or the Tranfacting, Reasoning, or Preaching the Terms of Reconciliation, we are then Christ's Ambassadors, or Plenepotentiaries, as if God himself did intreat or exhort by us, we beseech you in Christ's stead, be ye Reconciled to God. As God fent Christ, so he sent the Apostles, and they sene the Bishops with the fame Authority to fend others, as Ambassadors to offer conditions of Reconciliation, or Peace, between God and the World, and to declare an absolute Amnesty or Pardon of what Offences were past, if received and performed with the conditions proposed; or to pronounce them for ever Encmies, Rebels, if they re- T. p. 251. fused them. So that all the Authority which Bishops themselves, and every Priest fent, or Lawfully ordain'd by them, hath by this second Power of the Keys is no more, but to Preach the Gospel of Christ, that is, In his name and upon his Word, to propound and to warrant the Conditions of Reconcili- Johko 29. 23


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