Obrazy na stronie

r. p. 321.

H. F.

I sholl now a little farther they the Absurdity of the Latios pretended Ab. 1. 4. din. 18 folution. All their Schoolinen, after their great Master, tell us that both bind

ing and loosing, Clave errante (as they call it ) if either be made by mi. stake, that is, when the supposed Sinner or Penitent doch deserve neither, they signify nothing, and do the Persons really neither Good nor Harm. Now I must ask this Question, how can a Priest certainly know the real qualification or the true Condition of his Penitcut? If he cannot be certain of this, he must

Absolve him, or rather declare him Absolved, only upon Supposition or ConT. p. 322. jecture; I have a good Opinion that your Repentance is fincere, and hope

that you will persevere to your lives end, and according to the Truth of
this, in the All-seeing Eyes of God, so be it unto you; Or upon this Con-
dition I do af
you in the Name an

upon the Word of God, you shall be Absolved in the last dreadfull day. Yet still this Opinion of the Priest is in it self at best fallible and uncertain; all that he can do herein, is to declare to him the Condition and the Promise of the Gospel. Will any Latin Confessor be so bold as to say to his Penitent, I Absolve thee at a venture, right or wrong? I suppose not; then he must in his own heart fill Abfolve him only by conjecture and guess; but this uncertain Absolution can have no real effect, for if he guesses right, the true Absolution of the Sinner is reserved fill to only God himself till the last day; if he mistakes and guesses amiss, his Abfolution is both Wicked and Vain; both ways he arrogantly invades God's fole Prerogative; whereas, (what I call Chrysostom's Method,) Counseling, Directing, Comforting, encouraging the Penitent, strengthening his Faith, and supporting his Hopes, by setting before him God's infallible Promises of Forgiveness or real Absolution to every Sinner who sincerely Repent; this, i tay, is the only Duty, Tõ ÉTipedoje évo tās fuxñs, of a true and carefull Confesor. We are very truly told by Lombard, that many Priests have not, Clavem Discretionis, the Key of Discretion, that is they want Knowledge and that peircing Spirit of Wisdom to Judge rightly of Mens spiritual Conditions; and by consequence if they venture to Absolve they must often mistake or be deceived; How then can these Men take upon them to say positively, I Abfolve thee. And therefore here again I cannot but take notice that the weighty Office of a Ghostly Father requires such Men only as are truly Pious, Judicious and Dilcreet; Men able to examine Mens Lives, and wisely penetrate into their prefent Spiritual State; Thus by the Latips own account few of their Priests are

able to take Confessions; but all arc uncapable positively to Absolve from what Refp. 1. p. 130. I have said. The Greek Patriarch Jeremiah was plainly of this Opinion; First

the Penitent must thoroughly examine and sincerely reveal the secrets of his Heart, not to every one, but only to such as are able, Seget évav, to work, or direct him in, his Cure; then concerning his Absolution, he quotes these words from Bail; 'Εξεσία το αφιέναι εκ απολύτως δέδοται, αλλ' εν υπακοή τε μετανούντα και συμφωνία προς τον επιμελόμενον αυτά της ψυχής, και αληθή μετάνοιαν ένδειξάjeevov, metávoie de ési to un Tà autá 7:0:ữv

. The Power of remitting of Sins is not given Absolutely, but upon the obedience of the Penitent, and upouz his observance of his Ghostly Father's Counsel, and his Mewing his own true Repentance; but his Repentance is to do those Sins no more. Here is Ab solution declared, not to be Positive, but only Conditional; if the Penitent obeys and firictly follows his Confessor's advice and directions; if he truly Repents, and Sin no more to his lives end; But how can any ConfefTor poffibly know all this, so assuredly and fully to be performed, as that he (even upon that account) might absolve him, a Tonútus, Absolutely and without reserve? This knowledge (as the fame Patriarch elsewhere faith,) eis yocóle'l xâton å jagthout, is lodged in the Sinner's own Breast, but is thoroughly Ma

nifest to pone but God himself. Therefore here I cannot but take notice of De Paris.. that Passage in Bellarmine, ex evangelio Fides illa, that Faith whereby any

one may certainly believe to himself that his Sins are forgiven him, can110t be conceived, or gathered, from the Gospel; because he cannot learn from



Pl. 101. 4:


thence, whether he hath true Repentance or no, we may, faith he, and we T. p. 323. ought to hope that God will be Mercifull to us, but certainly to believe it, as we certainly believe the Articles of our Faith, is meer folly. But if the Penitent himself cannot certainly tell whether he truly Repents or no, how shall the Confessor know it?! All that he can know must come from the Penitent, but how shall he believe the Penitent, in what the Penitent do not know himself. In this Point I find St. Bafil much different from the Cardidinal, (though I have quoted the words before to another purpose, yet I must p. 305. beg leave to repeat them again as very proper here,) for he in at least two or three several places thews us how we may to our selves be certain or assured of God's Pardon and Forgivenels. He propounds this Question, tās Tangopogroño

. inter και ψυχή όπ αφήκεν αυτη ο θεός αμαρτήματα, and again, ότι τών αμαρτημάτων κα- 1 Τ. 10. dageúen; How a Soul may be fully assured that God hath Remitted or For-528. D. cġ ingiven her Sins; and again, that she is Cleansed from her Sins; to which he : 296. p. answers, If a Man finds himself disposed like David, who said, I hate and Pt. 119. 163. abhor, a dixíay, Iniquity, or Falseness, but thy Law do I love; If he hath with St. Paul mortified his Members which are upon the Earth. If he can say, Col. 3. 5. a Froward Heart shall depart from me, I will not know a Wicked Perfon. Tvwgiten dè ris, and any one knows that he is thus well disposed, if towards Sinners he is with David and Paul touched with the like Pity mixt Ps. 119. 158. with Horror and Uneasiness, orav gv, whenfoever therefore, faith he, any one 2 Cor. 11. 29. perceives or finds his own Soul thus affected either as to his own Sins or to the Sins of other Men, Tóta 7 Ang pogrohta, then let him be full assured, or confident, that his Sins are remitted, or that he is purified from them. And in his Answer to the next loterrogation, he prescribes the sixth Plalm for our Direction in our return from our Sins, which in a manner includes the very fame notes of a Sinner's assurance of Pardon, as are here above mention'd; Constant Prayer for Mercy; Sorrow, Trouble, and Mourning for his own verf. 1.Sins; Avoiding all sinfull Company and Conversation, or not partaking of verf. 3; 6; 7. other Mens Sins

. St. Basil's assurance from David and St. Paul is also fully ve Job. 3. 2z. confirm’d by that of St. John, If our Heart condemn us not, we have, mapönoiav, fiduciam, confidence towards God. If in any thing a Man strictly examines himself and find his Conscience clear, he may boldly conclude that his way is right before God; and if a Man can certainly believe that Article of Faith, the Forgiveness of Sins in general, I see no reason but that upon a clear Testimony of his Conscience, he may as well and as certainly believe his own Forgiveness in particular; for it is only Conviction of Conscience that begets Belief in both alike. But after all if any one will Cavil, and say, no Man can be certainly assured of any moral Article in his Mind, for Man's Heart is deceitfull above all things; however thus much I think is clear, that the Pe- Jer. 17.9. nitent in this point can be more certainly and fully asured, then the Confeffor; The Testimony of his own Conscience, that he sincerely Repents and forfakes all his Sins, shall not only Comfort him more, but do him more good without the Priest's Absolution, then the Priest's Absolution can do without that. Moreover it is very plain that the Confessor can by no means be certain, how then (as I have before pored) can his Absolution be certain or effectual, when he knows not whether the Penitent bath truly Confest or not. God bimself promiseth no Pardon, but upon Condition ; how then can an Ignorant Confessor, give it Absolutely ? Suppose the Penitent faith, I have done this, and that, and other grievous Sins; my Confessor will seriously tell him, that even God himself without his true Repentance will pot Pardon him; nay, by the Terms of the Gospel he cannot forgive a Rebellious impenitent Sinner; He

T. p. 324) tells my Confessor, I do heartily Repent and perfe&tly Hate and for ever will forsake my Sins, and do so no more; the reply can be no more then this, my Son, be it unto thee according to the Truth of what thou sayesi, and I do assure tbee it will be so at the last day.

[ocr errors][merged small]

T. p. 324

F. p. 251.

Mat. 16. 19.


Pet. Lombard, as I have noted before, was very clear and very positive to l. 4. dift. 18.

our purpose in this point; and though in a manner the whole herd of Schoolmen have since left him, and though his Opinion is taxed in the Margin of his Books in Print, by some later buly Scribler, as, Gravis Lapsus, a grievous Mistake, yet it is plaio that in Lombard's days it was counted ( by himself at lealt) current and Orthodox Doctrine. Therefore I will here more fully set it down and more narrowly consider it. Ita operatur facerdos Evangclicus, the

business of a Priest under the Gospel, faith he, in loofing and retaining of Lev. 13. & 14

Sins, is like that of the Priest under the Law; they only judged and pronounced a Leper, who was brought unto them, clean or unclean as they found him ; fo he considers the Condition of his Penitent and shew him how his Cafe is Hopeful or Desperate. And this, I fancy, was the first aim or use of the Canons, to express what Sins were of a high Nature, and what were of a lower Degree; and accordingly thence arose the Priest's Counsel to him and Pray

ers for him. Next the Master there shews that St. Jerom expounded Christ's Tom. 6. p. m. words of binding and loosing to the very fame Sense. Only that good Father

feems as it were by a Prophetick Spirit to foresee and condemn the Roman Arrogavce and Pride which followed; For some Men, faith he, (St. Jerom's words are, Episcopi & Presbyteri, Bishops and Presbyters, ) not understanding this place, aliquid fumunt de Supercilio Phariseorum, take upon them something of the Pharisees Haughtiness, and think that they can condoma the Innocent and acquit the Guilty, when with God not the Sentence of

the Priests but the Life of the Guilty is fought for. In Leviticus the Le14. 1. esco

pers are Commanded to thew themselves to the Priests, whom they neither make Lepers nor Clean, but discern, or distinguish who are Clean or Vnclean. The Master goes on, so bere also it is plainly shewn, that God doth not al. ways follow the Judgment of the Church, which sometimes Judge by Stealth and Ignorance, but God judges always according to Truth. And in remite ting and retaining of Sins the Priests of the Gospel have the same Right and Office, which they of old had under the Law in curing Lepers. In the first part of these words the Master truly notes the uncertainty, or the gross Mistakes which may, and indeed are in a manner always made by a positive Absolution; God knows the Life of the Penitent, which the Covfessor neither doth nor can know. In the latter part the Master gives the Scnle of St. Jerom's Words, by him there left out, and are these, quomodo crgo ibi Leprolum, as therefore there (under the Law) the Priest makes the Leper Clean or Vnclean, so also here the Bishop and Presbyter Binds and Looses; not those who are Innocent or Guilty, but by his Office when he hath heard the Varieties of Sins, he knows who is to be Bound, and who to be Loos ed. This was the Primitive and is now commonly the Modern way of the Greeks, which I contend for; Those, whom the Confessor finds by the Canon to be bound, he admonish and acquaints them with their Horrid and Dangerous Condition; The others, who he finds more hopefull; He encourages, directs and pray for them. As the Pricsts under the Law only gave their Judgments and made an outward Atonement for the Leper, so a Christian Prict gives his Judgment also of his Penitent's Condition, and as he finds him he directs him, and makes a Spiritual Attonement by Prayer to God for him.

It is wonderfull to see what Shuffling and Turning and Criticizing there is made by these late Writers, (which I have mention’d, ) to make the Greek and Latio Forms for Absolution agree; but any one of cominon Sense may easily see their Fallacies and Weakness. These expressions, may you be Pardon'd, may you be Remitted, God forgive you, may Christ Forgive you or Abfolve you, may you be Abfolved, O God Abfolve or Pardon this thy Ser. vant, are these the same with, I Absolve you; Those relate to God to whom alone that matter belongs; and they justly give him the Glory of it; in this, the Priest takes the Authority and Honour to himself

. Those respect what is Future, or what is still to be done, this Expresseth this present moment, and


T. P. 325


only Gifc.

the Deed to be now Actually done. So, be thon Absolved, if it be any thing more T. p. 325. then, may you be Absolved, is still plainly not the same with, I Abfolve thee; Those seemn to own Absolution as in another's Hand, this as if it was in my own. So, (as I have noted before,) receive the Holy Ghost is not I give thee the Holy Gholl; as these, thy will be done on Earth, Forgive us our.Trespasses, are Prayers not commands. Neither are those Forms of Speech, I Baptize you, and I Ābfolve you, of like Importance or of equal Intent. The first is an outward Corporeal Action which is purely iy my Power, and I now Actually do it; but the latter is a spiritual Thing, and not in my Power, but is reserved wholly to God himself to the Day of Judgment. The Greeks Form of Baptism, N. N. is Baptized, and our Form, N. N. I Baptize thee, are in Intent and Meaning the very fame; in both, the outward Action is expressed as now done ; whereas that, may N. N. be Baptized, Thew's the Action still depending. Neither are those Forms in Goar, Receive, (or I give thee, Power to say Mass, or our, to Preach, of like Intent and Nature with this, I Absolve; For those are Commislions for an outward Office and Action, and no Pricst either Greek or Latin or our own, can Act without a special Order in writing, which is far enough from Absolute Absolution, Again in the Greek and our Form of Baptism, the outward Acti. on, the Baptism of Water, only is exprest, yer the inward Baptism of the Spirit is imply d alike in both, bur Pray'd for from Heaven by both, as God's

The Greeks modesty herein I have already pored out of Goar, the ut sopr. Priest say, N. N. is Baptized, nor I Baptize, least (faith he) he should seem to Arrogate any thing to himself thereby.

That also is but an impertinent suggestion of them (in this business of Ab. folving Penitents from their Sins ;) That Christ hath often given his Commands or Inftitutions to the Church in General, and left the Particular Execution of them wholly to her Determination and Disposal. He faith only, whose Sins ye Remit, whose Sins you Retain; But the particular Manner and Form of this Remision and Retaining is left to the Church to establish. But I have above proved that all the Authority which the Church hath by those words of Christ, is only to Excommunicate Notorious and Publick Offenders, (and that of old was its only Censure) and upon their Amendment to restore them again to the Communion, so as they may then recover themselves by true and continued Repentance, and thus in Company with other good Christians they may work out their own Salvation with Fear and Trembling ; And this Authority and Power I have proved to be lodged in the Bishops or Prelares

T. p. 326. alone; they have Power at their Discretion to take off these Cenlures, as they bave Power to lay them on. But I neither see any Authority nor Power which they, much less any ordinary Priest, have, so positively to Absolve them from those past Sins which occasion’d their Excommunication, as to let them quite free in the Eyes of God, or to render them never more accountable to him for them; the Church, that is, the Bishops, may Remit, upon Amendment, the publick Scandal given to it, or to them; but they must leave the Offence given to God, to his own Mercies only. Repentance is enjoin'd to every Christian; it is the particular and proper Duty or Work, of every Penitent; it is left to the Prelates and Pastors in General to Preach it, and by good Council and Prayers and other such helps to promote it; but the Absolution of this Penitent from his Sins, is, till he hath finished his Work, reserved to God alone. If the Pepitent after the Roman Absolution, like a Dog, returns to his Vomit, that Abfolution will aggravate his Faults rather then do him Good; He must persevere in bringing forth daily, Fruits meet for Repentance, and then with steadfast Faith and lively Hope let him wait for his Absolution till the day of Judgment. The Church of kome hath been more modest, shall I say, or more Mijtrustfull and Doubtfull of the Efficacy of their Absolutions. After the taking of Constantinople by the Turks, many poor Greeks came into the West to seek for Relief; fome were sent into England by the Pope to sell Indulgences, and by that counterfeit way to spare the Pope's pocket and to fill their


[ocr errors]

P. 678.

T. p. 326. own. I have taken notice that in several of them, (which still are preserved

and which I have seen) after the august Preface of the Power of the Keys, and the Authority of the whole Court of Heaven, come in with, the Anfolvo, this or some fuch like prety turn, quantum in me eft, (1 Absolve ) as much as in me lies; and we have just such another Jeft recorded in Goar, Ablolvo Te in quantum possum & Valeo, I Absolve thee as far as I can and am able. Give me leave to let down one Indulgence much of thar famne parure, which was given to Sr.Will. Berkswell by Pope Paul che fecond; the Original I have seen at Warwick, Dos. Nr. Jesus Christ qui dedit Discipulis suis potestatem ligandi & folvendi iple te absolvat ; & Ego authoritate Apoftolorum ejus Petri & Pauli & cotius Sancte matris Ecclesiæ atque virture hujus Bulle & Papalis Indulgencie absolvo te ab omnibus peccatis tuis & etiam in Apoftolicæ fedi reservatis Calibus mihi verè confeffis & contritis, & de quibus confiteri vellis si tue occurrerent memorie & in Arriculo mortis. Concedo etiam tibi plenam remisliopum omnium peccatorum tuorum & absolutionem in quantum claves Ecclesiæ fe extendunt in hac parte, & quantum mihi permittitur. Reftituo te uc sis absolutus ante tribunal Dui nri Jelu Api ut vivas in Xpo & habeas vitam eternam. Amen. Our Lord Jefus Christ, who hath given to his Disciples Power of tying and loosing, may he Absolve thee; and I, by the Authority of his Apostles Peter and Paul and of the whole holy Mother Church, and by Virtue of this Bull and Papal Indulgence, do Absolve thee from all thy Sins, and even in the Cases reserved to the Apostolical See, being truly Coilfelled to me and Contrited, and of which thou wouldeft confess if they Jould occur to thy Memory and in the Article of Death. I also grant to thee full remission of all thy Sins and Absolution, as far as the Keys of the Church extend themselves in this part, and as much as is permited to me. I restore thee that thou mayest be Abfolved before the Tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou mayst live in Christ and may'st have the Life Eternal, Amen. The first part is plainly deprecacory. Theo poor Sr. William is only conditionally Absolved, upon supposition that he had truly confeled his Sins and was Contrite for them. Next the Absolution is limited and goes no farther then the Keys extend; and supposing still that they are in the right Key-bole (that there is no mistake) and lastly that all this hath no farther Virtue, then what is permitted, which oo Earth is unknown or uncertain ; so that when all is done, his real Absolution is Nill fuspended and reserved to the great Judge himself at the Day of Doom, to whom alone it ought to be refer'd. Any Man may lay aod do as much as this and to as good purpose; it would be a more tolerable cheat if all their pretended Absolutions from Sin were varnished over with the fame Compliment.

Goar tells us that there were very great Troubles ready to arise in his time about these Forms of Absolution. Some Greeks questioning the validity of their own Priests 'Deprecatory way, went to be Confest and Absolved again by a Latin Priest. This Practice would have quite Condemned the Greeks, and looke as if they did not own or rightly hold this Sacrament as well as thc Larins, and this would have spoiled Göar's design, (which he all along carries on with fuch pains) that is, to make both Forms or Methods agree. Whether he hath clearly made it out or no, and whether the most Reverend Dofitheus and his Synod are in this point right, the understanding Reader, I hope, may in some measure be enabled to Judge by this Account which I have largely given of the whole pretended Sacrament and of all ics Parts.

Arcudits acknowledges that the Greeks have no fixed certain Form of Abfo

lution, and intimates that every Confessor, ad libitum, doth use what words p. 344. bo and Prayers be pleaseth, (this indeed is their present Practice) and he chere

fore as I have said, advise them there to set up some one constant, settled, Form for all Confeffors to use. Accordingly he hath tranflated the Latin Form into Greek and would fain perlwade the Greeks to use it, and truly he is not ashamed barefaced to discover his design of putting this Holy cheat upon

P: 678. b.


« PoprzedniaDalej »