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sacrifices were true sacrifices, holy and propitiatory too, for sin : not indeed of themselves, but inasmuch as they respected that of the cross, and were types and figures of it then to come. So now we maintain, that the eucharistical sacrifice is by our Saviour instituted to represent his dying on the cross now past, and to renew in us continually the remembrance of it; a true sacrifice indeed we hold it to be, a most holy sacrifice, and propitiatory too for sin, though not independently of the sacrifice of the cross, but with respect to it, inasmuch as it is a lively representation and perpetual commemoration of it. So that in reality the eucharistical sacrifice is no sacrifice at all, but inasmuch as it has relation to the great sacrifice of the
And in this very thing the infinite perfection of that sacrifice of the cross consists, that whatever sacrifices went before it, as well as the eucharistical sacrifice that follows it, have all a respect to it, and are no otherwise propitiatory for sin, but forasmuch as they are the means instituted by God to apply to our souls the remission of sins, and other benefits of redemption, which the one redeeming sacrifice of the cross purchased. By all which we do most clearly profess. that remission of sins, and the whole benefit of our redemption, is to be ascribed to the death of the Son of God; only we maintain that, besides the death and passion of Christ, God has made other means necessary to apply the benefits of his death to us; and that the eucharistical sacrifice, as well as sacrament, is part of that means.
Now Protestants themselves must allow that Christ's sacrifice on the cross is not decreed to save all men, without other means which God has:
made necessary to apply the merits of his death to us; for if the sacrifice of the cross were to save all mankind, so that to use other means were injurious to it, then we may lay aside the sacraments, faith, repentance, and all the means of our justification; nay, our Saviour's intercession too at the right hand of God, as superfluous and unnecessary things, and derogating from the sufficiency of the sacrifice of the cross. But if they do admit of other means necessary to salvation, distinct from the passion of Christ, they ought not to have taken away the eucharistical sacrifice, till they had first proved that it is not part of those means instituted by our Saviour.
PROTESTANTS maintain, That neither the apostles, nor those who succeed to their office, power, and jurisdiction, the bishops and priests of the church, have any power given them from our Saviour Christ to remit sin: and that the power of forgiving sins is so far the proper and peculiar attribute of God, that it cannot be by him given and communicated to men.
Contrary to the express words of the Gospel:
“ But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins (then saith he to the sick of the palsy), Arise, take up thy bed and go
into thine house." Matt. ix. 6. The intent of our Saviour in working this miracle, was to convince the Jews that, although the power of forgiving sins belongs only to God by nature, yet that God does exercise this power upon earth by the ministry of men, and that he himself, as man, had this power. Now this truth of the Gospel, which we see here confirmed by a miracle, and which even the unbelieving Jews confessed, when they saw the miracle done to confirm it, glorifying God for that he had given such a power unto men (ver. 8), is nevertheless the
very point which Protestants still deny.
To this they reply, That this text only proves, that our Saviour Christ, who was both God and Man, had power to forgive sins, which no Protestant ever denied ; but they deny that such a power could be communicated to pure men, such as the apostles and their successors.
But this is no answer to the argument proposed, since it is plain in the Gospel, That our Saviour wrought this miracle to prove, not that he, in quality of God, in quality of the Son of God, had power to forgive sins: but also, in quality of man, of the Son of Man : But that ye may know that the SON OF Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, &c. Therefore the Gospel relates that all the people were astonished, and glorified God; and what were they astonished at ? Not because God himself had such a power of forgiving sins, which they already knew, and long before believed; but, because he had given such A POWER UNTO MEN. First, then, that Christ as man had from God the power of forgiving sins is not to be doubted; and, Secondly, that he did give and impart the same power to the apostles is now to be proved from the Gospel.
2. “Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: As my Father hath sent me, even so I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins
retain they are retained.” John xx. 21, &c.
Is it not perverting the plain sense of the Gospel to say,
that our Saviour in these words only gives the apostles a power of declaring people's sins to be remitted, not a power of remitting them ? It is plain in the Gospel, that our Saviour gave to the apostles the same power to forgive sins which He himself had received from the Father: therefore he
says to them : As my Father sent me, so I send you,
with like authority, like power: with this difference notwithstanding, that God forgives sins by his own power which by nature belongs to him ; the
apostles, not by any power they had of their own, but by a power imparted to them from Christ, who received the same from God. So that whosoever was absolved by an apostle, after our Saviour Christ had given the apostles this power, was as effectually absolved from his sins, in case he was penitent, as if our Saviour himself had said to him, thy sins are forgiven thee : in like manner, as he that was baptized by an apostle, was as truly baptized and purified from sin, as if Christ himself had baptized him; and the lame, the blind, and the sick, that were cured by the apostles, by the power they received from Christ to cure diseases, were as effectually cured, as if they had been healed by the touch of his own hands; because, in reality, when the apostles wrought miracles, it was God himself that wrought the miracles by their hands; and whenever the apostles baptized, it was Christ himself that baptized; and whenever they absolved, and whenever the priests of the Church now absolve, He it is, Christ himself, that absolves.
3. “ Verily, I say unto you, 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.
Can any but infidels, who hear this, doubt but Christ gave to the apostles the power of binding and absolving? And must not all confess, that the power of forgiving sins, which the apostles received from Christ, descends to their successors, as much as the power of preaching the gospel, the power of baptizing and administering the other sacraments, which although addressed to personally but the apostles, was however to continue with their successors, the pastors of the Church, for ever? Let us conclude then, that the bishops and priests of the Church have undoubtedly a power from Christ to absolve from their sins such as are truly contrite, confess, and seriously purpose to avoid sin for the future; and by such absolution they are effectually released from the guilt of eternal death.
POINT XIX. PROTESTANTS hold, That we are to confess our sins to none but God; and that it is needless to confess to men; nor are we under any obligation to confess to the priests.
Contrary to the express words of their Bible :
1. Confess your sins one to another.” James v. 16. It cannot be denied that St. James the Apostle in these words does either command, or at least advise us to confess our sins to men ; and whether
1 this be understood of sacramental confession to priests or not, it is a good proof against Protes