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your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ.” Ver. 10.
The Apostle here speaks of a man amongst the Christians of Corinth who was guilty of incest with his mother-in-law. This person the Apostle excommunicated, as appeared by his first Epistle (1 Cor. v. 3); and here he takes upon him to release the same man in the person of Christ, that is, by authority from Christ, from doing any farther penance on account of that sin; the Apostle judging such a seasonable indulgence to be most for his spiritual good, lest he should, says he, be swallowed up with over much sorrow. 2 Cor. ii. 7. Now this is what in the Church of Rome is understood by an indulgence. For as St. Paul here takes upon himself by authority from Christ, or as he expresses it, in the person of Christ; first, to enjoin a proper penance to this person for his sin, and afterwards to remit part of the which he had before enjoined and to shorten the time of it, according as he judged it most for the spiritual good of the offender. In like manner,
the pastors of the Church, who succeed in the places of the apostles, and inherit that power which Christ gave to the apostles when he said to them, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Matt. xviii. 18. In particular, the Supreme Pastor, the Bishop of Rome, who being the undoubted successor of St. Peter, inherits from him the keys of the kingdom of heaven; these pastors of the Church, I say, have in all ages since the apostles claimed and exercised a power of granting the like indulgences ! that is, a power of dealing with sinners more or less rigorously, of enjoining
to them penances of a longer or shorter date, as they judge most for their spiritual and eternal good. For the end and intent, as well of penances as indulgences, being the salvation of the party's soul (that his soul may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Cor. v. 5.), which sometimes may be best procured by rigour, sometimes by mildness and indulgence. Hence, the Church proceeds sometimes by one method, sometimes by the other. In former ages the Church exacted more rigorous penances and granted fewer indulgences; in latter ages the Church has granted more indulgences and enjoined less rigorous penances, lest the devil might drive great sinners, who are commonly very weak, into despair, in case they were to be dealt with too severely, and tempt them to forsake Christ and his Church and all hopes of salvation. This is a true and fair account of the doctrine of indulgences defended by the Church of Rome, which has moreover declared in the Council of Trent, that these indulgences are highly beneficial to Christian people. (Decre de Indul. Šess. 20.)
To this Protestants reply, That such indulgences, as they conceive, are rather prejudicial to Christian people than beneficial; for, say they, will not people be apt to take greater liberties in transgressing when they find they can be so easily acquitted; First, of the eternal punishment by absolution; and, Secondly, of the temporal punishment by a plenary indulgence ?
Answer,-By no means : for all the members of the Church of Rome are constantly taught from their childhood that no benefit can possibly be reaped from indulgences without a true and cordial repentance. This may be seen by the bulls
of indulgence which come from Rome, wherein you will ever find either this or some other clause equivalent to it; Vere contritis et confessis; vere pænitentibus et confessis : that is, that the indulgence is only granted to true penitents ; to such as are truly contrite and confess their sins. This doctrine, therefore, being current with all Catholics, that there is no hope of receiving the favour of an indulgence without a cordial repentance and a sincere resolution of leading a new life ; consequently, indulgences so taught, instead of being an encouragement to sin, cannot but be a great discouragement from it, and a great attraction to repentance; and we find this verified every day by experience in the Church of Rome, where sinners, upon occasion of these indulgences, are very frequently converted to God from a sinful life, make general confessions, and become new men. I believe I may venture to affirm that the indulgent doctrine of the Reformation, which has acquitted all people of the obligation of confessing their sins, and of making any kind of satisfaction to God for them, by the punishment of their own persons, under pretence that Christ has fully satisfied for all, and therefore all works of penance done by us are superfluous ; I say, these plenary indulgences, which the Reformation grants to all sinners of the whole earth, have not yet produced the like good fruits : and we are content the world should judge whether their indulgences or ours are more beneficial to Christian people.
PROTESTANTS hold, That confirmation is not, pro
perly speaking, any sacrament of the new law, ordained by Christ to give grace.
Contrary to the written word : 1. “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost. (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them, only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost." Acts viü. 14.
2. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied." Acts xix. 5.
3. "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptism, and of laying on of hands," &c. Heb. vi. 1, 2.
If a Sacrament of the New Law be an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as whereby we receive the same (Shorter Catechism of the Church of England, confirmation as given in the Apostolical Church by the apostles themselves, has the outward and visible sign, which is the laying on of hands of the apostles ; the inward and spiritual grace, which was the Holy Ghost received by this means by the newly-baptized; and that this sacred ceremony was ordained by Christ as a means to impart this grace is very plain, because the
apostles could not of themselves institute a sacrament to give grace : for which reason, this doctrine of the laying on of hands (or confirmation), is by the Apostle in the text last cited, numbered together with baptism, among the principles of the doctrine of Christ : is not this a good proof from the written word that it is one of the sacraments of the new law ordained by Christ to give grace ?
POINT XXIII. PROTESTANTS hold, That extreme unction is not one of the sacraments of the new law ordained by Christ to give grace, nor to be administered to the sick.
Contrary to the express words of St. James the apostle, “ Is any
among you ? let him call for the elders (priests) of the Church, and let them pray over him ; anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord : and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up, and if he have committed sins they shall be forgiven him.” James v. 14.
It cannot be disputed that this sacred ceremony of anointing the sick with oil, was instituted by our Saviour, since it is here taught us by one of the apostles, and it is utterly incredible that one of the twelve apostles should err in a matter of such moment, or take upon himself to promise grace and remission of sins, as St. James does, to those who make a pious use of this rite in the Church, unless he knew, that it was of divine institution.
To this Protestants reply, that this anointing of the sick mentioned by St. James, is the same with that mentioned in the Gospel of St. Mark : And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many