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To this period belongs some notice of a remarkable instrument of penitential discipline.

The Libri Pænitentiales, or Penitentials, were a collection of orders or directions in accordance with which certain spiritual punishments were inflicted upon notorious sinners. Some such orders are to be found in the early Councils of Elvira (310 A.D.) and Ancyra (314 A.D.) They are also to be found in the answers of Bishops to questions put to them in letters, afterwards collected in a separate volume. Many were furnished by Fathers and divines of the Greek Church. In the Latin Church S. Cyprian was the author of a treatise or collection on the subject, which has been lost. But the great work on the subject, and practically the model upon which subsequent works of this kind were framed, was the Panitentiale of Theodorus, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was consecrated 668 A.D., and died 692 A.D. It was adopted by Egbert, and was promulgated by repeated copies as late as the end of the eleventh century. It was freely used by later Bishops, who are, however, accused of burying the original under the variations which they introduced. This extraordinary work, if it ever attained its end of penitential discipline, had ceased to do so before the end of the eleventh century.

The minute specification of various degrees of sin, the severity of the punishments, the attempt to graduate the penance, led perhaps irresistibly by their own nature, but aided by the analogy of the Saxon civil law, to the substitution for the spiritual penance of commutations in money payments or assignments of lands; men became accustomed to rest upon this substitution as a complete satisfaction for their sins. It is, moreover, scarcely possible that the enumeration of almost every imaginable grade of sin, in thought or deed, should not tend to defile the consciences of the administrators

of the system. It may be true that the coarseness and simplicity of the natures which Theodorus had to deal with might require a mode of treatment which, as civilisation advanced, became useless or mischievous. It is true that the tendency to gloss over vice, to soften its evil, adorn or render less repulsive its natural features, is the plague-spot of later times, and perhaps essentially of the present; it is true that modern modes of obtaining the end which the Pænitentiale had in view may be open to grave objections: nevertheless experience seems to fortify reason in condemning the system upon which this great work was built.

The injunction of the 20th Canon of the fourth Council

of Lateran (A.D. 1215), 'omnis utriusque sexûs,' which appears to have been speedily received in England, and to have been commented upon by John Athon in his gloss upon the Constitutions of Otho about A.D. 1290, was stringently enforced in England by a synod holden at Lambeth A.D. 1378, and there is no doubt that, for a long time before the reign of Henry VIII., the general teaching of the Church in England had been that Confession was a necessary part of the Penitential Sacrament, obedience to and observance of which were necessary for salvation. The same inference is to be deduced from the language of John de Burgh's Pupilla Oculi, written about A.D. 1385, and from the Commentary of the celebrated Lyndwood, dating about A.D. 1446. The statute 31 H. VIII. c. 14, declared that ' auricular confession was expedient and necessary to be retained, continued, and used in the Church of God.' The Ten Articles of A.D. 1536, the Institution of a Christian Man, and the later revised form of it, The Erudition for any Christian Man, do not substantially vary the mediaval doctrine on this subject.

The Western Church had, therefore, made forgiveness of sins dependent on private confession to a priest. For this restriction of Divine grace in Absolution there was no warrant in Scripture, or in the Primitive Church, as evidenced by her practice, her rituals, or her penitential books.

The Eastern Church, as has been shown, did not fall into this error. We now approach the third division, or that era when the Catholic branch of the Church in England purged herself from this as from other Roman innovations, and returned to the true Catholic usage and teaching on this subject.

The Order of the Communion, the Exhortation, A.D. 1548, contains these words :

'And if there be any of you, whose conscience is troubled and grieved in anything, lacking comfort or counsel, let him come to me, or to some other discreet and learned Priest, taught in the Law of God, and confess and open his sin and grief secretly, that he may receive such ghostly counsel, advice, and comfort, that his conscience may be relieved, and that of us, as a minister of God and of the Church, he may receive comfort and absolution, to the satisfaction of his mind, and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness: requiring such as shall be satisfied with a general confession, not to be offended with them that do use, and their further satisfying, the auricular and secret confession to the Priest; nor those also, which think it needful or convenient, for the quietness of their own consciences, particularly to open their sins to the Priest, to be offended with them which are satisfied with their humble confession to God, and the general con

fession to the Church, but in all these things to follow and keep the rule of Charity; and every man to be satisfied with his own conscience, not judging other men's minds or acts, whereas he hath no warrant of God's word for the same.'-(Liturgical Services of Edward VI., Ed. 1844.)

In the first Book of Common Prayer, A.D. I 549, the Exhortation to the Communion contains, with a very trifling exception, this same passage.

In the Order for the Visitation of the Sick in the same book, the Rubric says:

'Here shall the sick person make a special confession, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter. After which confession the Priest shall absolve him after this form: and the same form of absolution shall be used in all private confessions. Then follows this prayer :-

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Our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to His Church to absolve all sinners, which truly repent and believe in him, of His great mercy forgive thee thine offences; and by His authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.—Amen.'

In 'The Form of Ordering Priests' in the same book:

'The Bishop with the Priests present shall lay their hands upon the head of every one that receive Orders, the receivers humbly kneeling on their knees, and the Bishop saying

"Receive the Holy Ghost, whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain they are retained; and be thou a faithful dispenser of the Word of God and His Holy Sacraments,""&c.

In the second Prayer-Book, A.D. 1552, the language is the same on this matter. In the last and present PrayerBook, A.D. 1661, the Office for the Visitation of the Sick, it is said :

'Here shall the sick person be moved (this word here inserted first time is not unimportant) to make a special confession of his sins if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter. After which confession, the Priest shall absolve him, if he humbly and heartily desire it.'

In the Homily, A.D. 1562, which has the Sermon on Common Prayer and Sacraments (Part i.), it is said:

'Absolution is no such Sacrament as the Baptism and the Communion are . . . but in a general acceptation the name of a Sacrament may be attributed to anything whereby an holy thing is signified.'

This is consistent with the twenty-fifth of the Thirty

nine Articles, which affirms that Penance is not to be counted for a Sacrament. In the Sermon in the Homilies of Repentance (Part ii.), Confession and Absolution are said to be not generally essential for the pardon of sin.

The 113th Canon (A.D. 1603), which is binding on the Clergy, is as follows:

'113. Ministers may present.

'Because it often cometh to pass, that the churchwardens, sidemen, questmen, and such other persons of the laity as are to take care for the suppression of sin and wickedness in their several parishes, as much as in them lieth, by admonition, reprehension, and denunciation to their Ordinaries, do forbear to discharge their duties therein, either through fear of their superiors, or through negligence, more than were fit, the licentiousness of these times considered; we ordain, that hereafter every Parson and Vicar, or, in the lawful absence of any Parson or Vicar, then their curates and substitutes, may join in every presentment with the said churchwardens, sidemen, and the rest above mentioned, at the times hereafter limited, if they, the said churchwardens and the rest, will present such enormities as are apparent in the parish; or if they will not, then every such Parson and Vicar, or in their absence, as aforesaid, their curates, may themselves present to their Ordinaries at such times, and when else they think it meet, all such crimes as they have in charge or otherwise, as by them (being the persons that should have the chief care for the suppressing of sin and impiety in their parishes) shall be thought to require due reformation. Provided always, that if any man confess his secret and hidden sins to the Minister, for the unburdening of his conscience, and to receive spiritual consolation and ease of mind from him; we do not any way bind the said Minister by this our Constitution, but do straitly charge and admonish him, that he do not at any time reveal and make known to any person whatsoever any crime or offence so committed to his trust and secrecy (except they be such crimes as by the laws of this realm his own life may be called into question for concealing the same), under pain of irregularity.'

The Irish Convocation of A.D. 1634, when Ussher was Primate and Bramhall Bishop of Derry, by their nineteenth Canon ordered that :

'The Minister of every parish shall the afternoon before the said administration (of the Lord's Supper) give warning by the tolling of the bell, or otherwise, to the intent, that if any have any scruple of conscience, or desire the special ministry of reconciliation, he may afford it to those that need it. And to this end the people are often to be exhorted to enter into a special examination of the state of their own souls; and finding themselves either extremely dull, or much troubled in mind, they do resort to God's Ministers to receive from them as well advice and counsel for the quickening of their dead

hearts and the subduing of those corruptions whereunto they have been subject as the benefit of absolution, likewise for the quieting of their conscience by the power of the keys, which Christ hath committed to his Ministers for that purpose.'

The sixty-fourth Canon charged all Ministers not to reveal offences communicated to them in private confession.

A very important and interesting incident to the subject of Confession is adverted to in the foregoing references, namely, the sacredness of the disclosure made to the Priest, sub sigillo confessionis, and its inviolability even in a court of justice. There is no doubt that in England, before the reign of Henry VIII., this inviolability was a recognised privilege of Confession. No court of justice would have compelled the confessor to reveal the communication of his penitent.

By a statute of New York it is enacted that—

'No Minister of the Gospel, or Priest of any denomination whatsoever, shall be allowed to disclose any confessions made to him in his professional character in the course of discipline enjoined by the rules or practice of such denomination '—(Phillimore's Ecc. Law, v. i. 704.)

And Bonnier, in his Traité des Preuves, § 179, speaking of the recognition of the principle by the French law, says most truly :

'Le système contraire détruirait la confiance qui seule peut amener le repentir, en donnant au prêtre les apparences d'un délateur, d'autant plus odieux qu'il serait revêtu d'un caractère sacré. Nevertheless, the judicial, or, perhaps, rather the extrajudicial opinion in England, has been adverse to the claim of inviolability; but the reasoning of Mr. Best, in his work On the Principles of Evidence (p. 690), and the very careful and learned treatise of Mr. Badeley (A.D. 1865), may not improbably, should the question ever be raised, lead the English courts of justice to decide in favour of the inviolability, and bring the English law on this point into harmony with that of other Christian States-(Walter's Kirchenrecht, § 286, citing 'The Catholic Question in America.' New York, A.D. 1813).

That Hooker confessed to Saravia is well known; as, it would seem, Evelyn did to Jeremy Taylor. The following extract is from Evelyn's Diary:

'March 18, 1655. Went to London on purpose to hear that excellent preacher, Dr. Jeremy Taylor, on Matt. xiv. 17, showing VOL. V.-NO. IX.


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