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3. In all cafes whatsoever. Although in doubtful and difficult cafes Confeffion of Sins to others is most neceffary, yet even when the matter is plain before us, and we clearly difcern in what our Offences against God do confift, it may then likewise be of great ufe to discover our Faults to them; and that

1. Because the advice of others, even in the most manifest cases may be helpful towards a right management of our felves, and we fhall be better inftructed to conquer and fubdue our wicked Lufts and Affections, when to our own thoughts concerning them we add the Directions of others.

2. That we may have the Prayers of good Men to God for us; That he would be pleased to fend his Spirit into our Hearts to enable us to overcome those Temptations which do daily befet us, and to break off thofe Sins to which we find our felves fo much addicted.

Fourthly, We agree that Confeffion of Sin ought more especially to be made to the Priest, and that in all cafes whatsoever.

1. Because he muft needs be fuppofed to be best provided to give proper Advice and Direction in all cafes whatsoever. It is his business and employment to ftudy Cafes of Confcience, and to prepare Anfwers to fuch Doubts and Scruples as are wont to arise in Mens Minds.

He must be prefumed to understand better than others do the Nature of God's Laws, and in what the breach thereof doth confift, and confequently muft needs be better able to direct the Sinner what to do, whenever he is tempted to act contrary to any of them. So that as in the cafe of Law-fuits, Men go to


fome able Lawyer for Advice and Counsel; in the cafe of Sickness, to fome experienced Phyfician; fo likewife in the cafe of any fpiritual Diftemper, they ought to advise with fome of the Clergy, who must be prefumed to be moft skilful in fuch matters.

2. Confeffion to the Prieft is most useful, because God has conftituted him his Minifter here on Earth, to declare the terms of Reconciliation to Penitents. And therefore for fuch to make Application to him for Counfel and Advice in all difficult Cafes, and to receive the benefit of Abfolution, muft neceffarily afford them great Comfort and Satisfaction.

From the Confideration of God's Goodness, and of our Saviour's undertaking for them, they may be encouraged to hope for Pardon and Forgiveness; but when he, who is appointed in God's ftead to fpeak Peace to their Souls, recommends them unto God in Prayer, and upon impartial Examination of their Condition, pronounceth them to be the proper Objects of God's Love, and affures them that he is willing, for the fake of Chrift, to be reconciled unto them, this will certainly afford great Comfort to their Minds, and make them more at ease within themselves than otherwise they would be.

Thus far we and the Church of Rome agree: but we difagree in the two following Particulars.

1. That Secret Confeffion is of Divine Inftitution. 2. That in Confeffion it is neceffary to enumerate all our Sins, together with their Circumftances, of what kind foever.

These things the Council of Trent has pofitively de- Seff. 14. can, termined, and denounced an Anathema against a fuch 6, 7. who affert the contrary.


My defign at present is, to examine the Authority which that Council, and the Defenders of it, have produced from Scripture for the defence of the fore-mentioned Articles.

Now the chief place of Scripture infifted on, both by the Council and others, is that of St. John, ch. 20. 23. Wholefoever Sins ye remit,they are remitted unto them; and whofefoever Sins ye retain, they are retained.

Unto which Bellarmine annexeth these two as parallel, Mat. 16. 19. And I will give unto Thee the Keys the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatfoever thou shalt bind in Earth, fhall be bound in Heaven and what foever thou shalt loofe on Earth, shall be loofed in Heaven.

Mat. 18. 18. Whatsoever je shall bind on Earth, fball be bound in Heaven and what foever ye fball loofe on Earth, fball be loofed in Heaven. From which places it is thus argued;

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That fince here is a Power plainly given by Christ to his Apoftles, and confequently to their Succeffors, of remiffion of Sins; and that it is impoffible that this Power fhould be exerted unless they come to the knowledg of them, and they cannot come to the knowledg of them, but by the Confeffion of those who are guilty of them; therefore it is abfolutely neceffary, that they who are defirous to have their Sins forgiven, should make a particular Confeffion of them.

In answer to which Argument I observe,

Firft, That as to that of St. Matthew 18. 18. it is by fome made to have respect not only to the Priest, but to every particular Chriftian. For in the foregoing Verfes, Directions are given to every one, of what Condition foever, how to behave himself towards his


Ver. 15.

Ver. 16.

Ver. 17.

Ver. 18.

offending Brother. He muft firft admonish him alone, then in the prefence of two or three Witneffes, then tell it to the Church, and if he continue ftill incorrigible, account him no better than as a Heathen Man and a Publican. And then immediately follows, Verily Ifay unto you, what foever ye shall bind on Earth, fhall be bound in Heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loofe on Earth, shall be loofed in Heaven. By which words, upon the account of what went before, they understand a Power to be given to every good Christian of judging concerning any Offence committed againft him, together with an affurance of having any fuch Judgment which he fhall here make upon Earth (provided that it be juft and impartial) ratified by God in Heaven. Hence St. Auguftine faith, Aug. de verb. Thou hast begun to account thy Brother no better than a Domini in EPublican, thos bindeft him in Earth, but take care that vang. Mat. thou bindeft him justly, for Divine Justice breaks in funder the Bonds that are unjust: When thou hast corrected and agreed with thy Brother thou hast loofed him in Earth, when thou haft loofed him in Earth he is loofed in Heaven. But fuppofe these words of St. Matthew were directed only to the Apostles and their Succeffors. I then obferve,

Secondly, That both this place and that of St. Mat. 16. 19. may be interpreted with refpe to that general Power and Authority which was given by our Saviour to the Apoftles of determining in all matters concerning the Chriftian Religion, and of declaring what was right and fit to be done, and what was other- wife.

All are agreed that by the Kingdom of Heaven, is to be understood the State and Condition of God's Church under the Gospel, wherein he is worshipped after a fpiritual manner as refiding in Heaven, as giving his Difciples and Followers the hopes thereof, and as pre



Ser. 16.

fcribing means for the obtaining it; whereas under the Law he was worshipped after a terreftrial manner, as dwelling more particularly here on Earth amongst his felect People the Jews, requiring external Performances, and promifing Earthly Benefits to fuch-Performances.

By the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, is likewife generally understood that Power and Authority in his Church which was given by Chrift to his Apostles, our Saviour therein alluding either to the Custom among the Jews of inaugurating or creating Doctors by the delivery of a Key, that being the Symbol of that Authority which was then given them, or to that place in Ifa. 22. 22. where God, to declare his Refolution of putting Eliakim into the place of Shebna (whom he defigned to remove from being Steward of the Royal Family) faith, And the Key of the House of David will I lay upon his Shoulder.

But as to thofe Expreffions of binding and loofing there is fome difpute about the Interpretation of them. For by to bind fome understand to prohibit, and by to loofe to permit; and confequently that the Authority here given to the Apostles is, as I faid, general, of determining in matters of Religion, what was fit to be done and what not, according to which meaning of the words the Scribes and Pharifees are faid, Mat. 23. 4. to bind heavy Burdens, i. c. to impofe fome unprofitable Obfervances upon their Followers, by injoyning as neceffary what was not fo, and by forbidding as finful, what might have been lawfully performed by them.

Now if the words be thus interpreted, here will be no countenance given to the Doctrine of Confeffton, as taught in the Romish Church, because the Power of binding and loofing will not then have refpect to Perfons, but to 'Things. It will be a general Decla

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