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Christ Absolve thee, (and by consequence all those other Prayers of the Greeks T. p. 315. above mention'd) non valent, fignify nothing. Arcudius (who sets up for 1.4. de Concord. another Reconciler of the two Churches ) makes a wonderfull puzzling about Occid. ec Orien: this Matter. He owns that the Greeks have a Form of Absolution, but reckon
1.4. p.434. b. ing up many, he kpows not well which to fix upon. He confesseth that they have no set common Form, and therefore he exhorts them to pitch upon one, and insert it into their Euchologion or Common Prayer-Book. At last he propounds this, as in his Judgment most certain or probable, I hold thee p. 428. b. Pardon'd, or Absolved, which with him is all one with, I Pardon, or I Abfolve. First how thall we Reconcile these Reconcilers ? Can Dofitheus and his Synod say that the Greeks and Latins hold or observe this pretended Sacrament alike; when (as Arcudius rightly observe) the deprecatory Absolution ( which I have fhewo above to be in general use amongst the Greeks, and is alone own'd to be right by those great Men Cabafilas and Marcus Eugenicus, as Arcudius himself confefseth, ) quite destroys the judiciary Sentence of the p. 407. b. Latin Priest? Therefore Arcudius allows their Form only in the Indicative, I hold thee Abfolved, to make it agree with the Latin, I Abfolve thee; Buc for one such example which he shall produce, there are deprecatory oncs enough, as I have shewn above. He iostances in two Forms for the Phrase, éxw de ouyrexwenyérov, I hold thee Pardon'd, or éxw oe å puglomérov, I hold thee Excommuni. cated. The first is an Excommunication of Pachomius out of Crusius. But
Turco-Gr. po that was plainly, Meta' tñs iegās auto owóds, not from himself alone, but by the 149. Authority of a Synod with him, and therefore it speaks, stws év áriw & ToDa- T. p. 316. yópeba tevéuman, We, in the Plural,) thus decree in the Holy Ghost; and 8 zomer, we hold them Pardon'd, as it is the Sentence of the whole Synod. Then as for the Phrase, (notwithstanding all his long Criticisms there ) exw and excolero may very properly there be rendred, our meanness declare or pronounce him ; we declare him Excommunicated, that is, by the Authority of the Synod, or I in their name declare him so; not that I, by my self or my own Power and Authority, do this or that ; or it may be only, I take him I look upon him or count him to be such; as in his own example, éxw o á xovebintov, I look upon you as a dangerous Man, or not fit for company. As for his second example out of Crusius, our meanness, éxer
, declares Zygomata Pardon'd, can sigoify p. 431. no more then the expected Fruits of his Prayer for him, for it is called in the p. 103. Title, qurxagurix'n eux", an Absolutory Prayer, in which the Prelate begs for Tà owt'ngia, those things which belongs to the Penitents Salvation, and, veteTei, admonish him, or direct him, after the old Primitive way. And therefore that in Crufius ends thus, code ry dà aáble, whatever things (that is, Sins) he hath left unconfessed by forgetfulness, or through shame, xexava our xaghoc autớ ó émeux car geds, may the Mercifull God forgive even those also. This, which is the Praying part, Arcudius hath craftily left out; that the Prelate might alone have the Glory of it. Now either in this Prayer (as it truly stands in Crusius) Abfolation is begʻd and to be received from God alone, or else the Prelate may pretend to claim fome part of it, and beg the other of God; but peither
way will consist with the Latin judiciary Sentence of the Priest; unIcfs a Man will be fo blasphemously bold, as with Arcudius to say, that a Priest
p. 424. a. in this casc hath such a transcendent Judiciary Authority, as, Deo oprimo imperat be commands the good God himself to obey him. But it is plain that this way of Praying for God's Absolution was in Common use, from the account of it wbich Patriarch Jeremiah gave to the German Divines about Confession Refp. 1. p. 871 and Absolution. First the Contessors were to press the Penitent, and Itrictly enquire into his true Contrition and Repentance; and then, faith he, (almost in the very words of Crufius,) coa de dià rhow, what foever things he may
have left unconfesed through forgetfulness or shame, euxóueba tm érenteon xj ma:ontieLeon Demo aj tãuta aurxwgnowoces autą, we pray to the Mercifull and All-compa fionate God, that these also may be forgiven him; which is as if he had faid, as we pray for the forgiveness of what he Confesseth, so we pray for the forgiveness of these also. Goar seems not to have thought either of these Рp3
p. 42 1.' a.
T. P. 316. Forms or that, (which Arcudius quotes out of Gobr. Philodelph.) fit for his
purpose; else he, who had read Arcudius, would have certainly inserted them all in his notes upon the Euchologion. Arcudius mentions leveral objections out of the Fathers, which directly justify the Greeks Deprecatory Absolution; which he could not answer, and therefore after his tedious way he only shuffles them off. It is plain by what he quotes out of Dionysius Areopag. that in thote days, they pray'd for the Abfolution of Penitents, and of Persons who died Excommunicated; and Prelates (as Arcudius is to far in the right, ) are in a double Capacity, first of Ministring from God to the People, next from the People to God; In the first, they Baptize, Conmunicate, Preach, Rebuke, Comfort their Flock and the like; In the second they offer up the Peoples Prayers and Thankfgivings to God, and both publickly and Privately Pray to him for them, particularly as their several occasions require; and thus this Praying for their Forgiveness is not only their Capacity, but their Duty. Thus far the Office also of every Priest is extended; but a Prelate's Authority reaches
yet farther, to Ordain, Confirm, to Excommunicare notorious Offenders, to T. p. 317. restore the Penitent to the Church again; and all this and the like belong pro
perly only to the Living; but if any one pretends to Abfolve or Restore the Dead, it must be done by “Prayer alone ; and yet for that, I fee neither Authority from Scripture nor truly primitive Practice.
Next he cites St. Ambrose; Men contribute their Ministry towards the Remission of Sins, but they do not exercise a Right of any Power, for Sins are forgiven not in their Name, but in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Men pray, or ask; Divinity, or God, grants. Instead of answering this, he plainly owns it to be St. Ambrose his mcaning, Men ask and pray, God grants; that is, faith he, Sacerdotes de fuo nihil aliud interponere posse quam Preces, Priests can interpose nothing of their own, but Prayers; but, 1 Absolve thee, surely is not a Prayer, but all their own.
Then he plainly shows that in St. Augustin's time the Priest pray'd for the Absolution of the Penitent laying their hand upon him, and that, I Abfolve thee, could not then be used. To answer this he quotes another place of the fame Father, which really is more fully against him. Augustin rebukes a forc of haughty Hereticks for taking the Power of Absolution upon themselves, fay. ing, Ego Dirnitto, Ego Mundo, Ego Sanctifico, I Forgive, I Cleanse, I San. Etify; he tells them it is not they or their Merits but only the Holy Ghost which forgive Sins. The good Father seems to me by a Propherick Spirit to have foreseen the present Pride and Arrogance of Rome, and here to have condem'd it; for is it not the same Spiritual Pride for a Latin Priest to fay, I Abfolve thee, as it was for one of thote Hcrcticks to lay, I Forgive, 1 Cleanse, I Sanétify.
Lastly, out of Leo the Great, God ordain'd his Will, or Tcstament, ut non nisi Supplicationibus facerdotum Indulgentia peccatore obtineri potest, that Pardon of Sins should not any ways be obtained, but by the Supplications of the Priests. ' He shuffles this off with a Scholaftism of Bonaventure, these Suppli
cations contain a true judicial Form; which to me seems a plain Contradicti... on, that the Priest Tould at the fame time, and in the fame case, give his
own Abfolution as a Judge, and yet beg the same Absolution from a Superior as his Supplicanr.
Give me leave here to advance a Notion of my own, which I hope may clear up many Questions and feeming Difficultics, if not quite derermine the whole
Point of Absolution in Controverly between us. Absolution from Sin, truly Lomb. l. 4. din and properly so called (as is own'd by all) can be had from pone but God alone. 18. $. E. in fin. I say then that such true rcal Absolution is to be expected and obrained but SF. Goar. P. osice; and that will only be at the general day of Judgment. I do not here
speak of Abfolving of those who offend against the Doctrine or Discipline of the Church, that is, taking off any of its Cenfires laid upon living Persons ; But I speak of Absolution only from the Guile avd Punishment of Sins in gene
T. p. 316.
sal committed by us in this Life, against God, our Neighbour, or our Selves; T. P. 317. from these I say there is no real or final Absolution to be expected untill the general Day of Judgment. That saying of a wise Heathen, no Man is Happy before his Death, is cvery good Christian's case. Our Life to its very end is but one probation State; we must not serve God by firs, but we must be always Praying with all Prayer and Supplication, and we must be watching Eph. 6. 18. thereunto with all Perseverance, to che day of our Death; and from thence we are still in the hands of God alone, and, (as I may so speak,) as it were Suspended, and waiting for the last Sentence of the Supreme Judge, who will then Abfolve and Acquit 15, or else Condemn 115. See the great Apostle St. Paul makes it not only his own but every good Christian's State and Condition. I have Fought a good Fight, faith be, I have finished my Course, I have 2 Tim. 4. 7,8. kept the Faith, (here is the cheerfull Testimony of a good Conscience, which every true Christian must furely know to himself better then the wisest Confeflor can tell him) Henceforth there is laid up for me a Crown of Righteousness, (there is his Faith) which the Lord the righteous Judge Mall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing; Here is his and our firm hope of our Absolution by the last judicial Sentence of God, which will not be pronounced till that day; And therefore certainly the Apostle did not in this World desire, or would accept of any
Priest's formal and insignificant Abfolution, no not of the great St. Peter himself, but Patiently and Chearfully (as we all ought to do by his Example) waited for that Day, of his and our last Account.
Now I must ask this Question here, if a Priest or Confessor is so hardy as to fay boldly and without condition or reserve, I Absolve thee from all thy Sins; ( let it be at the hour of Death or when it will ) whether he doth not plainly Anticipate the work of the day of Judgment, and take the judicial Sentence, (from the Mouth of the true and only Judge) and arrogate it to himself? If thc Priest really and thoroughly Abfolve him, God hath no more to do with him at that great day; but if he be still fufpended, or obliged to appear before the Judgment-Seat of Christ to receive Sentence for what he hath done in 2 Cor. 5. 10. his Body, he is yet in his guilty Sinfull Siate, and the Priest's Abfolution, if it signifies any thing, can be but Conditional; If all at the last day proves right in the Eyes of that great searcher of Hearts; char is, if your Contrition, Confession, Repentance, appear sincere; Or as Christ in his Cures said, according to your Faith, so the Priest can say no more really than this, according to your sincere Repentance, so be it unto you. Our Absolution in the Vidi-ation of the Sick is no otherwise then thus Hypothetically or Conditionally made; The Minister fuppofing (as the Sick Person humbly and heart ily desires it) that he truly Repents and believes in Christ (they are the very words in the Form as Christ's Commission) by his Authority upon this Condition Abfolves him, or pronounces him Abfolved; and upon the very fame fupposal, of his true Repentance, his Cortrition, his Faith, or full trust in God's Mer.
prays for God's Eye of Mercy upon him, and that his former Sins might not be imputed to him (therefore he was not by the Form judicially and positively Absolved) and that at the hour of Death he might be taken into God's Favour. All this therefore plainly thew that our Church of Englaod do not think that her Pricsts do judicially and definitively Abfolve her Penitents,
T. p. 318. but only Conditionally declare them so, upon their true Contrition and Repentance, which is only Preaching to them still as hath been said.
Consonant to this notion of mine are all the absolutory Prayers in the Greek Church. First for the state of the Dead; though the Greeks absolutely renounce and laugh at the Latins Purgatory, yet they do own a middle State; that when a Man dies he is in some measure happy or miserable, but shall not receive his Doom or final Sentence, or be compleated in either Condition till that last day of Judgment; and therefore they pray for the Dead, not that God would Absolve them now, but that he would have Mercy upon them then ; as
'T. P. 319. we Pray and Willi for a Criminal in Prison, that he may find Mercy at his Try
al before the Judge, but in the mean time we cannot help him. Hence we have in their Eucholog. again and again in their Prayers for the Dead, that God would have Mercy on them, er spuégą râs xgiorews, in the day of Judgment, év tñ deutégą nagyoí«, in Christ's second coming, and most remarkable is that Prayer to the Virgin Mary at the Funeral of a Priest, that she would never ceafe to pray for him, όπως έυρη άφεσιν των πταισμάτων εν ημέρα της κρίσεως, that he may find Absolution, in the day of Judgment, of his Offences. The fame cultom of Absolutory Prayers is all over the East. The Armeni. ans use it at their Graves; so do the Jews; so the Turks not only pray for their deceased Friends, but for Hazaret Ifah, the Prophet Jefus, and amongst others for Mahomet himself, that God would Consummate them all in Glory; as only attending for that to be done at the last day.
And this my notion of Absolution is still more clear from the very Nature of
Repentance, which must go before it. True Repentance is not a Momentary Lomb. ex Au- fit or two, but from the first stroke or beginning must be one continued Act guft. 4. dift. thoroughout a Man's whole Life. From the first Conviction of Conscience, or 14. 9. A. p.m.
Remorle, for the committing of any Sin, our true Sorrow for it with our Amendment must be renewed every day, and our Hatred of it must every hour encrease and constantly teod to perfection; The Beginning and Progress and
Perseverance in this new State of Life to the very hour of Death, is all but one Regg: fusous entire Ait of Repentance; See Basil's direction for our addresses to God in all disp. interrog. the hours of Prayer. As the Life of a wicked Man from his first committing 37.p. 47 9:480.
of some grievous Sin, till he hath enslaved himself to it, and made it habitual to him, and at last it is become in a manper his very Nature, as all this is counted as one continued Course of defiance to God and his Commands; So if his Heart by the wonderfull Power of God should be then prickt with true Contrition, and he becomes by degrees at last a perfect Convert (suppose a Preaching Paul, from a Perfecuting Saul,) all this last part of his Life, from the first stroke upon his awaken'd Conscience, to the finishing of his whole Course, is but
one continued Fight, one continued Act of Repentance and new Obedience. Bufenb. Medul. 1.5.C. 1. d. 3. And all this is allowed by Goar when it seems to make for his purpose. This art . 2. p. m. was the Practice of David, I acknowledge my Transgressions and my Sin is
ever before me; And this is the Instruction and Direction of Theodulphus in Pr. 51. 3. his Capitular, we must be often in Prayer, and in it we must daily Con. Ut supr. c. 21.
fess our past Sins to God with Tears and Groans; we must be always a
mending our lives. And again, we ought every day in our Prayer to Con* 7? p. 320. fefs our Sins to God either once or twice, or as much oftner as we can.
If now our Repentance is, Res de ambulatoria, a thing that must be always
receive his constant Directions and Prayers to Almighty God, not only for his Assistance to him in this great Work of Repentance, but also for his Pardon and Absolution at the last Day. This sort of treating a Penitent is plainly prescribed by the Primitive Fathers and by Christ himself, and is very
368. p. 438. b.
4. dift. 17.
intelligible and obvious to every Pious and well considering Man; But for the T. p., 320. Priest, time after time, to Absolve him, that is, Pardon him and Forgive him all his then past Sins and Trespasses against God; and that only upon his own Narration or Confession (for the Priest knows nothing of the matter more then this,) I say this seems to me as absurd as if a Steward should in the name of his Master give Acquittances and full Discharges to the Tepants meerly upon their own word, when he knows nothing either of the real Rents which they are to pay; or of the Repairs which are done or ought to have been done; or of what Deductions and Allowances are to be made; the Landlord having the Lease lockt up and secretly kept and known only to himself; will not a wise Master or Landlord in such a case strictly examine the whole Account himself, and never allow whát his ignorant Steward hath carelesily done.
It is the Doctrine and Custom of the Latins, that a Penitent having confest a Sio and been once Absolved from it, need not any more repcat that Confeffion to his Confessor. It was the Opinion of their grand Master of the Senten ces, Sufficit ubi crimen occultum eft Soli Deo per Sacerdotem dicere, & femel. §. F. When a Sin is hidden, or secret, it is enough to tell it to God alone by a Priest, and that once; and it is also in their Catechism as I have mention'd it before. I I pray God many Thousands do not split upon this blind Rock; and when they are once Absolved by the Priest, with the Adulterous Woman they do not Eat and Drink securely and wipe their Mouth and say, we have done no Wickedness. I am fure most are perswaded that theo all is well, and they never think of it more. I remember at Rome on an Easter
T. p. 321 day several of us Protestants were met together, and one of our Countrymen, (a Papist but a very honourable Gentleman ) came in and in a very odd kind of droling yet seemingly serious way he said, Well, good People, I am grieved at my very heart to think that so many Sweet, good natured, worthy Persons, should die in their Sins and go to the Devil as Heriticks; I bless God I have been Confest and done my Penance in Lent, and have been Abfolved, and have this day eaten the Lord's Body, and am now as free from all my Sins, as I was at the day of my Birth. A pleasant Friend of his more intimate acquaintance, said, well, well, honest Lad, it is ten to one but you will begin a new score in a day or two; Quoth he, it may be Jo, but in our Church we have a Remedy for that, for want of which you are all loft. It is plain that he had not set Penitent David's example before him, Repeating the acknowledgment of his Sins, dià narròs, again and again continually; I much question whether his Absolution and his Eating the Pasover that day had quite Purg'd out the old Leaven of Sin. Chryfofiom's method of Confession plainly tends to the main end, the Purging Heb. 9: 14. of Mens Consciences from dead works to serve the living God; But the way of the Latins is a mcer Opiate to lull them allcep; Their easing of them only for the present must certainly either harden them, or make them careless, and seemingly secure, crying to themselves Peace, Peace, when, God koows, there is no Peace. Besides all this, their Confessions and Absolutions are too too often made a meer Jest or piece of Mockery; I am very loath too much to discover the blots of an Enemy, (as a great Man hath Phrased it ) Sandy's Survey: yet I must take leave to relare one passage more amongst many others which i could add of my owo knowledge. Some Priests of my Acquaintance, in the Carnival, had been all night, Fratres in Malo, Companions in Lewdness and Debauchery; but notwithstanding this, next Morning they all went, and, as usual, said every one their Mass very Devoutly; An hour after a Gentleman in our Company Nlightly but merrily told them of it; Oh! said one of them (by way of Excuse, ) but we first Confest and Abfolved our felves, before we went to the Altar; and there it ended. I suppose they meant the formal and mutual Confefion and Absolution of the Priests, which they have prefcribed, In the Order of the Mafs, before they go to say it.
Edit. Ans, 1635. I
Cor. 5. 7