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for their Doctrine of Auricular Confefsion.
ration of what is fit to be practifed in the Church of God and what not, which is here fpoken of, and not barely a Power and Authority, with refpect to thofe particular Sins which any Perfon makes Confeffion of. To countenance which Explication, it may be fit to take notice, that it is not faid, Whomfoever ye shall bind in Earth, &c. but What foever ye shall bind, &c. and Lightfost Hor. that those who are skilful in the Jewish Learning do Heb. in loc. give us feveral Inftances where the words to bind and to loofe are taken in this Senfe, adding withal, That fince our Saviour made use of words that were usual and common, it cannot but be fuppofed that his Auditors understood him according to the vulgar meaning of them.
In the 20th of St. John it is indeed faid, Whofefoever Sins ye remit, they are remitted, &c. and therefore regard is there had to Perfons; but here no regard is had to Perfons, but only to Things, Whatfoever shall ye fhall bind, &c. and therefore it is not neceffary that thefe places in St. Matthew fhould be parallel to that in St. John, fince they may be interpreted with refpect to that general Commiffion given by our Saviour to his Apoftles of determining, as they were taught by the holy Spirit concerning matters of Religion, he at the fame time affuring them that whatever they, according to his Word, and that holy Spirit which directed them, did fo determine, fhould certainly be ratified in Hea
But let us fuppofe them to be parallel, and that by binding and loofing is meant the fame with remitting Sins and retaining them, yet is there here nothing which can at all favour the Doctrine of Confeffion in the Church of Rome, because I observe,
Thirdly, That Remillion of Sins may be otherwise which interpreted than with relation to that formal Abfolution
which is given by the Prieft to fuch as come to Confeffion. For,
ift, By remiffion of Sins, may be understood the declaration of God's Will concerning remiffion of Sins. The Apostles and their Succeffors are God's Ambaffadors, and do acquaint us what his Will is concerning Remiffion of Sins; and that,
1. By preaching the Word of Reconciliation unto And in this fenfe the Apology of the Church of England acknowledgeth the Power of binding and loofing, of opening and fhutting to have been given by Chrift unto the Minifters, and the Power of loofing to confift herein; when the Minister by the preaching of the Gospel fball tender the Merits of Christ, and Abfolution to dejected Minds and truly penitent, and fball denounce unto them an affured Pardon of their Sins, and hopes of eternal Salvation Which is agreeable to what St. Ambrofe Amb. de Cain afferts, viz. That Sins are remitted by the Word of God; & Abel lib. 2. whereof the Levite is an Interpreter and a kind of Execu
Ifa. c. 14.
tor; To the Author of the imperfect work upon St. Matthew his calling the Priefts Key-bearers, because to them is committed the word of teaching and expounding the Scriptures; and to St. Hierom's declaring the Apofiles to Loofe Men by the Word of God, and by the Teftimony of the Scriptures, and by an Exhortation to Vertue. The Key of knowledg is committed to the Priests and they do understand beft the Mysteries of the Gospel, and what are the terms of our being reconciled unto God, and therefore may be then faid to remit Sins, when they confcientioufly explain to us what God on the one hand has promised us with reference to forgivenefs of Sins, and what on the other hand he requires of us in order to our being made partakers of fuch a Bromife.
They who out of Prejudice or Interest explain the Word of God deceitfully, and give fuch Interpretations thereof as do tend to promote Sin and Wickedness, thefe, like thofe Lawyers whom our Saviour juftly blames,do take away the Key of Knowledg, and may be faid to retain Sin, because they fhut up the Kingdom of Heaven against fuch as would otherwise enter therein, whereas they who faithfully expound the Will of God to their Hearers, and do thereby help to further their departure from every thing that is finful, do thereby exert that Power of remiffion of Sins, which is here by our Saviour bestowed upon them.
2. The Declaration of God's Will concerning remiffion of Sins, is made manifeft by the Priefts obtaining Pardon for Sinners by Prayer unto God for them. The Priefts and Minifters of the Gofpel are by God appointed to offer up Petitions on behalf of the People committed to their charge, and the great fubject of fuch their Petitions maft be the forgiveness of Sins. God is willing to be merciful to true Penitents, but he will be applied unto for it, and therefore remiffion of Sins may upon this account be attributed unto the Prieft in that he does daily deprecate God's Anger against Sinners, and through the Merits of a Crucified Saviour, intercedes at the Throne of Grace for them; Hence St. Chryfoftom informs us, That Priests do not Chryfoft. mei only exercife this Power of forgiveness of Sins when they cięwour BIBA. beget us again in Baptifm, but after the adminiftration 7.com. 6. thereof, that Power of remitting Sins continueth in them, and for proof thereof, makes mention of that Paffage in St. James; [And the Prayer of Faith fhall fave the Ja. 5. 15, 5. fick, and the Lord shall raife him up, and if he have committed Sins they shall be forgiven him] and from thence deduceth this inference that Priests forgive Sins,·
not by teaching and admonishing only, but by helping us
3. The declaration of God's Will concerning Re-
And therefore as to Baptifm, St. Peter's Advice to his Hearers was, Acts 2. 38. Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jefus Chrift, for the remillion of Sins. And it is very obfervable what a Learned Man hath lately taken notice of, that whereas Mat. 28. 19. St. Matthew fpeaks of the Power of baptizing granted by our Saviour to the Apostles when he was about to leave
them; St. John instead of that mentions this Power of Dr.Stillingfleet emitting or retaining Sins; and St. Mark and St. Luke the Council of Speak of Baptifm, to which the one joyns Salvation, and Trent exami- the other Remiffion of Sins; which Obfervation does ned, p. 124. very much countenance their Opinion, who determine the Power of the Keys to the Authority given by our Saviour to his Difciples of admitting Profelytes into the Church by Baptifm, and that this Power being mentioned to have been given to St. Peter, had peculiar respect to his being conftituted the Apoftle of the
Gentiles, to whom he first opened the Kingdom of Heaven, as we read, Acts 10.& 15. And as to the Eucharift, our Saviour himself, when he gave the Cup to his Difciples, Mat. 26. 28. faid, This is my Blood of the New Teftament which was fbed for many for the remiffion of Sins.
When therefore the Minifters of the Gospel do rightly and duly adminifter the Sacraments according to our Saviour's Inftitution, they may then likewife be faid to declare God's Will concerning the Remiffion of Sins.
2dly, Remiffion of Sins may not only be interpreted with respect to that Declaration of God's Will concerning Remiffion of Sins made manifeft to us by the Minifters of the Gofpel in the preaching of God's Word, in Prayer, in the due adminiftration of the Sacraments, but likewife with refpect to thofe good Effects which are hereby actually produced in Mens Minds. When by a right application of the forementioned means, they beget within Sinners a fober fense of their wicked ways: So that they are become heartily forry for what they have done amifs and refolve to do fo no more, when they have ftirred up in them fuch an Averfation towards what is finful, and have fettled fuch excellent difpofitions of Soul as do render them the proper Object of God's Love; fo that he now looks upon them with a pitiful and compaffionate Eye, is ready to forgive all their former Tranfgreffions, and to receive them into favour. When, I fay, the Minifters of the Gofpel have thus difpofed Sinners for God's Mercy, and rightly prepared them for the forgivencfs of Sins, then may they be rightly faid to re
But fuppofe Remiffion of Sins, fpoken of by St. John, has refpect to the formal Abfolution pronounced by the