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ble. If a child offends his father, does he confess the offence to some third person, when his father is near at hand too; and above all, does he select for that third person, an equally offending brother? Was ever such a thing heard of as this? Yet this is the Catholic doctrine. It sends us to a brother as deep in the offence as we, to confess to him, that we have sinned against our father, when that father is near by, and when, moreover, he says “Come to me!" I think both the brothers, the penitent and the priest, had much better go directly to the father. I find that this is what they used to do in old times. I have been looking into the Bible to discover how it was then, and I perceive that they all went to God to make their confessions. They did not stop at the priest. There was David, and Daniel, and Ezra, and Nehemiah, and I know not how many more. They all went with their sin directly to God. Read that precious Psalm, the 51st. There is David before God. He confesses to the one he had offended. “ Against thee,” he says. And may we not use that Psalm ? May we not go and say “against thee?” Must we turn aside to the priest? The publican did not. He went straight on to God. And the prodigal did not stop short of his father. Why should we? Why should Catholics ?
I think the sinner should go on to God--and I do not like that Catholic doctrine, because it stops him as he is going to God. The sinner is on his way to confess his sin to his maker, and to implore of him pardoning mercy, and it says to him "you need not go so far—the priest will hear you confess-he can forgive you.” I like better the Protestant doctrine, which speeds and cheers the penitent on his way to God.
Nor can I see why we want more than one mediator between us and God. Why is not Christ enough? How admirably qualified he is for his work? With one nature that reaches up to God, and another that reaches down to man, how excellently fitted is he to mediate for us! Do we want another between us and Christ? O no. Let the priest please not put himself in the way. Jesus says,
66 Come unto me;" we want no human priest between us and our “great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens for us." I
very dull, but really I cannot see for my part what is the use of the priest; for surely he cannot forgive a sinner, unless he repents; and if he does repent, God forgives him, and then who cares whether the priest forgives him or not. If confession to the priest is intended to supersede confession to God, it is certainly a great mischief. If not so intended, it is useless, for our being forgiven depends on the nature of our confession to God, as penitent or otherwise.
But they allege in support of their doctrine, a verse of Scripture, “confess your faults one to another.” I suppose the reason they allege this is, that it is the best they can find for their purpose. They must be hard pushed for authority, when they resort to that passage.
your faults one to another." This implies something mutual. If I confess to the priest, he must confess to me, for it says one to another. This puts priests and all on a level. There is nothing auricular in this. Certainly we ought to confess our faults one to another, and to "pray one for another,” as the same apostle exhorts. But this is by no means the Catholic doctrine of confession. That is quite a different thing.
On the whole, it is my opinion that the world can dispense with this doctrine, and with the practice founded on it as well as with any thing which it has in use.
41. A Mistake Corrected.
In an article entitled “ Auricular Confession,” the writer stated, that in looking into the Bible he discovered that all the penitents mentioned therein went directly to God to make their confessions of sin, and not to the priests; and he spoke of David, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, as examples in point. He finds, however, that he was mistaken in saying that they all confessed to God instead of the priests. There is one exception, and he is willing that the Catholics should have the advantage of it. It is the case of Judas Iscariot, recorded in Matthew, 27: 3, 4. He did not go to God with his confession. He went to the chief priests, and it was to them he said, “I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood." Here, we must confess, is an example of confession to a priest. But it is the only one, I believe, in the Bible. Judas also brought money (thirty pieces of silver) to the priests; so that the Catholics have authority (such as it is) for that part of their practice. I am determined I will do the Catholics justice. They shall have the advantage of every particle of Scripture which really makes in their favor. It is well known that they need it.
But, poor man! He got nothing by going to the priests. It was their cruel and contemptuous treatment of him, as much as any thing else, that determined him to go and hang himself. How differently even Judas would have been treated, if he had gone with a broken heart to our great High Priest, Jesus ! Ah, he had better gone to him whom he betrayed, than to them to whom he betrayed him. I think I shall always go to Him, notwithstanding the example of Judas.
There are no worse reasoners than the Catholics; and I suppose the cause of this is that they are so little accustomed to reason. Men rarely do well what they are not used to do. The mind needs to be disciplined to thinking and reasoning, else it performs these operations but very indifferently. Hence, you hear so many persons say therefore, when nothing follows, or, at any rate, that does not follow which they suppose. Of this, the Catholics, not being in the habit of thinking and reasoning, their very religion prohibiting these operations, afford us some wonderful specimens. Between their premises and conclusion there is often so great a gulf, so deep and wide both, that I have wondered how they manage to get over it. Let us hear them on the subject of purgatory. They feel as if they would like to have a little Scripture for this dogma of theirsma text or two;
not for the satisfaction of the faithful, (for to them it is sufficient that the church believes the doctrine,) but to meet the heretics. But where shall they find in the Bible any thing favorable to purgatory. The Bible speaks plainly enough of two places beyond the grave, but it says nothing about a third place. It tells us of a heaven and a hell, but of an intermediate purgatory never a word. It is true that some hundreds of years afterwards certain writers speak of it as a Christian doctrine, but I want to know why the older, the inspired writers, say nothing about it. We read frequently in the Bible of being purged from sins, but most unfortunately for the Catholic doctrine, the purging is done in this life, not after death ; and it is done, not by fire, as that doctrine asserts, but by blood. So that those passages in which purging occurs, do not help the Catholic cause. Then they look in the Bible for the word fire; and they read of the fire that is not quenched, and of everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. But this will not answer their purpose. This fire is everlasting, and for devils as well as wicked men. They never imagined a purgatory for devils. The fire of their purgatory is to be quenched.
But there is a passage having fire in it, which they adduce as to the point. It is 1 Cor. 3 : 15:“yet so as by fire.” These are the premises in the grand argument; and the conclusion is purgatory, a place of temporary punishment by fire after this life. Q. E. D. Those letters were never more out of place. If there existed independent and irrefragible proof from another quarter of the doctrine of purgatory, in that case it might be innocently imagined that the apostle had