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as the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. If he dies on a cross, it is to blot out the hand-writing of the decree which was against us.(a) If he sends his Apostles throughout the world, it is to preach every where the remission of sins.(6)
But this is not yet all, this power so divine, so peculiar to God, so consoling to the sinner he imparts to man, to sinful man, in order to fa. cilitate to him, that precious grace which had cost him his life and blood. He imparts it to his Apostles. He imparts it through his Apostles to their successors. He imparts it in their person to his church, to be exercised by his ministers, through all succeeding ages.
Go, said he to his Apostles, (c) As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. He has seut me to save the world, (d) you also shall become in some sort its saviours. He has sent me to destroy sin, to sanctify sinners, to reconcile man with him. Go and complete the great work. Preach every where the remission of sin. It is the fruit of my death; it shall be the end and effect of your ministry.
But in order that it should not be understood, that they had to aunounce or proclaim it only, or to promise it on his part, he associates them with him in this divine power. He wishes that they themselves should remit sin; that they should remit it in his name and op his part. In quality of sovereign judge, both of the living and of the dead,
constitutes them his subalterns; he imparts his authority to them, to raise even the dead to life, and to save sinnners. He engages himself, to ratify in heaven, the sentence they shall have pronounced on earth.
This is in effect what he promised to St. Peter and to all his apostles, and what he imparted to them all after his resurrection
Thou art Peter, said he to the prince of the apostles, (e) and upon this rock 1 will build my church,....And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth it shall be bound also in heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. He made afterwards the same promise, and in the same terms to his other apostles. (f) Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in
(a) Coloss. 2. 14. (6) Luke, 24. 47. (c) John, 20. 21.
heaven ; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. And in order that no doubt might be ever entertained eit ther of the sense of his promises, or of the nature of the power promised; he himself explained it when he gave it to them. Receive ye the Holy Ghost, said he to them breathing on them after his resurrection, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, (a) whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them; and whose you shall retain, they are retained.
It can therefore be no longer said, If one man shall sin against another, God may be appeased in his behalf: but if a man shall sin against the Lord who shall pray for him ? (b) This is no longer impossible from the time that the Son of God became man, and imparted his power to man. But is it to the person of the apostles he has limited and confined this power? No; he imparted it equally to the church in the person of the apostles. It passes from the apos. tles to their successors, they impart it to those whom they appoint to succeed or assist them in the functions of the priesthood, and whom they associate with them in the divine work with which they are charged. As the fruit of the death of Jesus Christ was to subsist always, so it was to be always applied and communicated. As the sacred ministry of the sanctification of man was to pass from the apostles to their successors, so this power of remitting sin was in like manner to be transmitted to them. They have sent others as they themselves were sent.
The power of remitting sin is like that of baptising, teaching and imparting the Holy Ghost, which the apostles have transmitted to their successors together with the episcopacy or priesthood. Jesus Christ, according to his promise, is with them, teaching, baptising, and remitting sin, to the consummation of the world (c). And consequently, to the consummation of the world, they teach, baptize, and remit sin, in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ, or rather it is Jesus Christ who remits it through their ministry. “ The priests, says St. Chrysostom, “ lend their tongues and hands to Jesus Christ; “ but it is God himself who does all in them and through them."
It is then to the church and for her benefit, that this power is given, and it is to last as long as she herself lasts. It is an irrevocable gift which Jesus Christ has conferred upon her, and his gifts are without
@) John 20, 22, & 23. (6) 1 Kings, 2. 25. (c) Matt. 28, 19.
repentance. (a) It is to the apostles, as heads of the church, and her representatives, this power is given. The church, at the death of the apostles, who are her fathers, has had and will always have children, heirs of their power, and whom God himself raised up in their room, to be the princes of the earth, of that true promised land which he has given to his people, in which he has established his worship, and in which he distributes his favours. “ It was the whole body of the church,” says St. Austin, (6) “that Peter represented, when Jesus « Christ promised him, that whatever he should loose on earth, should « be loosed in heaven.". Which made this Doctor also say:
That so it is the peace and unity of the church which remits sin; that who
soever is not in the unity of his body, can have no part in this remission. That it is the rock that binds, and the rock that looses; “ that it is the dove that retains sins, and the dove that remits them; " that it is the unity of the church which remits them and which reçtains them.” Thus St. Austin. It is by her ministers she exercises this power.
They alone have the power to bind or to loose sinners, and to do towards those who are dead, as to the soul, what the apostles did in regard to Lazarus whom Jesus Christ raised to life. To them alone, as spiritual physicians, it belongs to discern between leper and leper. To them alone it be longs to pronounce on earth sentences which are ratified in heaven.
It is in administering the sacraments they exercise this power. For it is to these sacred signs that Jesus Christ has been pleased to attach his grace. It is in baptism they efface original sin, since it is in this sacrament that we are washed, cleansed, justified, regenerated in Jesus Christ, and from children of wrath by our birth, (c) we become children of God by his grace. (d) It is by the sacrament of penance, that the sins committed after baptism are remitted to true penitents. It is in this sacrament that we find a second plank in our ship-wreck. It is this second penance, as Tertullian styles it, which God has established in his church to open it to those who knock at the door, and in order that after the first door of innocence, namely, baptism, is shut, as it can be received but once, the condition of sinners might not be without resource.
(a) Rom. 11, 29. (6) S. Aug. lib. 3 de Bapt. cont. Donat. c. 17. (c) Eph. 2 v. 3. (d) Rom. 8. 16.
Such has been the faith of the catholic church in every age. If the power which she possesses of remitting sin be founded upon the most divine titles, she has preserved the most authentic possession of it. All the fathers of the church bear testimony to it. All the councils, in regulating the discipline of penance, have furnished additional proofs of the power of the church to remit sin. What the apostle did iu regard to the incestuous Corinthian; (a) what the apostle St. John did in regard to the captain of the robbers, whom he brought over to repentance, and afterwards reconciled to the church, the same have the pastors of the church done and will continue to do in all succeeding ages. The church, in condemning the Montanists and Novatians, who wished to contest or limit her power, did but arm herself against them to preserve this precious deposit ; and when in these latter days the protestants arose to dispute this power, they had already received their judgment and condemnation from the tradition of all ages. By their separation they have deprived themselves of the consolation and resource enjoyed by the children of the church. Their opposition and sophistry will never take from the church what she has divinely received, and what she has always preserved. They themselves are the only sufferers by their secession.
(@) 2 Cor. 2. 10.
NOTES REFERRED TO IN THE TRIAL:
THE POPE'S SUPREMACY.
Catholics believe that the bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, to whom Christ gave the keys of the heavenly kingdom, Math. 10. 2. &c. &c. and whom he entrusted with the special care of his flock, John 21. 17. Math. 16. 18. 19. is the visible head upon earth, of the whole Catholic church. It is no article of Catholic faith that the Pope is in himself infallible, separated from the church, even in expounding the faith. Nor do Catholics, as Catholics, believe that the Pope has any direct or indirect authority over the temporal power and jurisdiction of foreiga princes, or States. Hence if the Pope should pretend to absolve or dispense with the subjects or citizens of any country from their allegiance, on account of heresy or schism, such dispensation would be null and void; and Catholic subjects or citizens, notwithstanding such dispensation or absolution, would be still bound in conscience to defend their prince and country, at the hazard of their lives and fortunes, (as far as Protestants would be bound) even against the Pope himself, should it be possible for him to attempt ar invasion.
The subjoined queries which were sent, at the request of Mr. Pitt, to six of the Catholic universities, with the answers to the same, will clearly evince this point, and at once do away every unfavourable impression on this head.
Extracts from the Declarations and Testimonies of six of the principal
Universities in Europe, on the three following Propositions, submitted to them at the request of Mr. Pitt, by the Catholics of London, in 1789.
Has the pope, or cardinals, or any body of men, or any individual of the church of Rome, any civil authority, power, jurisdiction, or preeminence whatsoever, within the realm of England ?