Obrázky na stránke



Tre holy council teaches moreover, that so great is the bounty and liberality of God, that we can satisfy God the Father through Jesús Christ not only by the punishments we voluntarily embrace, as a chastisement for our sins, or which are enjoined us by our confessor according to the measure of our fault; but also as the last pledge of his love, by suffering with patience the temporal afflictions, he is pleased to send us in this world.


Having for the information of the public, fully shown what the real tenets of the Catholic church are, concerning the sacrament of penance, as they are explicitly laid down in the above mentioned session of the council of Trent, and held throughout the whole Catholic world, I shall Dow proceed, for a further elucidation of this interesting matter, to exhibit the principal grounds upon which the doctrine of sacramental confession is founded, and the testimonies by which it is supported. I shall first produce the passages of the Gospel proving it to be divinely instituted; secondly, shew how the holy Fathers, who certainly ought to be acknowledged the best interpretors of the sense of the scripture, have understood these passages; thirdly, how the councils, as well general, as particular, have always understood them; fourthly, what the universal practice of the church is, and has been in all ages, from the times of the Apostles down to our present time; and, finally, the opinions and belief of many of the Reformers themselves touching this all important matter.




The holy council of Trent in the fifth chapter of the 14th session, declares the confession of all mortal sins to the Priests of the church, the lawful successors of the Apostles, to be* necessary, by the divine law, to all who fall after Baptism.

To proceed with method, I shall condense the whole force of the divine testimonies in favour of the above doctrine into the following syllogistic form:

MAJOR. All who have fallen into mortal sin, are bound by the divine ļaw to do penance, and to seek a réconciliation with God:

MINOR. But the necessary means to a reconciliation with God after Baptism is the confession of all mortal sins to a Priest :

CONCLUSION. Therefore, all who have fallen into mortal sin after Baptism, are bound by the divinc lan, to confess all mortal sins to a Priest.

Proof. The Major proposition viz: All who have fallen into mortal sin are bound by the divine lan to do penance, and to seek a reconciliation with God; is proved from these and inuumerable other texts of the divine Scripture: Do penance, Mat. 3. 2. Unless you do penance, you shall all likewise perish, Luke 13. 3. Be converted and do

penance for all your iniquities ; and iniquity shall not be your ruin, Ezek. 18. 30. As this proposition is denied by no one; I shall proceed immediately to the proof of the Minor, couched in these words: But the necessary means to a reconciliation after Baptism, is the confession of all mortal sins to a Priest. This is the great point in question; to prove which, I shall again reduce my argument into a syllogistic form, viz:

MAJOR. Christ has instituted the Apostles and their lawful successors, the Priests of his church, to be judges upon earth, invested with a


* The sense of the council is : that confession is necessary to all generally; for where confession is impossible, as for example, where a Priest cannot be had, contrition with a desire of confession, suffices to-salvation, as the council expressly says in the fourth chap. of the same session.

you, would

power, that, without their sentence, no sinner fallen after Baptism can be reconciled:

MINOR. But the Priests of his church cannot form a right judg. ment, unless they know the sins:

CONCLUSION. Therefore all who have fallen after Baptism are bound by the divine law to reveal their sins to the Priests of his church :And herce the confession of sins is a necessary means to effect the reconciliation of those who have fallen after Baptism.

The Major proposition alone in the above syllogism is to be proved, viz: that Christ has instituted the Apostles and their lawful successors the Priests of his church, to be judges upon earth, that, without their sentence no sinner fallen after Baptism can be reconciled; for the Minor is so evident in itself, that no one, I believe, will ever pretend to deny it: fór, without a cognizance of the cause, it is impossible for any judgment to be formed, even in thought. Let it be supposed for example, that a private individual should present himself before a civil court, requesting a decision of his case and desiring to be informed of the penalty, if any, attached to his transgression. What answer think the judge naturally make him? He would tell him: “My good friend, I should be glad to know first what your case is; what law have you infringed? What has been your transgression? How often, &c. Otherwise how shall I be able to determine any thing about you?”—The whole difficulty therefore rests in the major proposition, which having proved from the Gospel, viz. that the Apostles and their Jawful successors, the Priests of the church, have been constituted judges by Jesus Christ in the causes of Penitents, I shall at once have proved, that the confession of sins made according to their respective species to a Priest, is indispensably necessary by the divine law.

There are three priucipal passages in the gospel from which this judicial power is most clearly demonstrated.

I. First, where Christ thus addresses St. Peter, Math. 16. 18. Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I 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.

II. Secondly, where he makes the same promise and in the same terms afterwards to his other ApostlesMath. 18. 18. Amen I say to you, whatsoever

you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you skall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven.

IIJ. Thirdly, where he finally accomplishes his promise and explaius to them in the clearest manner, the sense of his former promise, and the nature of the power he had promised, John 20. 21.

As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost : Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them : and whose you shall retain, they are retained.

The first passage cited above contains a promise made to Peter alone : But oeither Catholics por Protestants doubt of St. Peter's having received the keys, not only to use them himself, but also to communicate the same to other Priests.

The second passage contains a promise made to all the Apostles or a certain prediction of that power which the Apostles and their lawful successors were afterwards to receive. And as the eternal truth capnot deceive, nor utter a falsehood, although we should not read any where this promise realized, we could never entertain the least doubt of their having received this power. .

The third passage contains the final accomplishment of the promise, the very concession of the power itself, and the complete establishment of the whole sacrament.

But as the adversaries, of the Catholic Church do not deny this power of loosing and of binding; or of forgiving and retaining sin, to have been indeed promised and given to the church in these passages; but attempt to interpret this power as applying only to the ministry of preaching and announcing to penitents the remission of their sins, and to impenitents the anger of God and eternal damnation, it is incumbent on us to shew that the true power of absolving and of retaining sin with authority, is derived most evidently from these texts, and that by virtue of this power, are in reality constituted judges in the causes of sinners, in the room of Christ,

1. This is first manifest from the very metaphor of the keys, of which mention is made in the above text: I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, &o. For in the first place, it is not customary for keys to be given to signify merely, that, the door is shut or open; but to open and to shut it in reality.--Again, do we not see, even among men, keys given to magistrates as a mark of their power? and in the ordination of the porter or door-keeper, one of the minor orders of the clergy, the keys of the material church are given him, not that the door-keeper should declare whether the door of the church be

shut or open, but to shut and to open it in reality. Lastly, when it is said in the Apocalypse, (chap. 3.) of Christ: Who hath the key of David: he that openeth, and no man shutteth ; shutleth and no man openeth; all agree that the word key implies a true and real power, by which Christ can both absolve and biod with judicial authority, and not merely intimate and declare who is bound and who loosed.. .

Wherefore, when Christ gave the keys to his apostles and their lawful successors, he imparted to them a true power, to bind and to loose, with judicial authority. And as no one can enter a house when shut, unless he who is charged with the keys open the door, so also Deither can any one enter heaven, shut agaiost him by reason of his crimes, unless it be opened through the ministry of the priests, the lawful successors of the apostles, who alone have the keys. For if there should be any other way to it, the apostles would have received the keys, evidently, to po purpose.' For what necessity would there be for keys, when, without keys, and even in spite of the doorkeeper, access could be had? Let no one say, says St. Austin in his 49th Homily, I do penance privately with God who knows my sins : for then in vain was it said: whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them. Were then the keys given in vain to the church of God? We frustrate the gospel, we frustrate the words of Christ.

Nor does it in the least weaken the force of the above argument to say, that in baptism even they who have not the keys can open to map a way into heaven, as in the case of infants baptized by laymen in a case of necessity, and who'die shortly after. For the power of the keys is a judicial power, and therefore is properly exercised towards those only, who are already in the church by baptism. For what have I to do to judge them that are without, says St. Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians, 5th chap. Therefore, by baptism men are admitted into the church, and are subject to the power and judgment of the priests: but, if afterwards they fall into mortal siu, they can in no manner be reconciled (the case of impossibility, as mentioned above in a note, being excepted) without the benefit of the keys. .. . ."

II. It is proved in the second place from the metaphor of binding and of loosing: for to bind and to loose, certainly does not signify to announce or to declare, but actually lo confine with bonds and to liberate from them, and especially in the above texts of St. Matthew, chap. 16 and 18, otherwise our divine Saviour would not have said : whatsoever thou shalt loose, shall be loosed, or, whatsoever you shall

« PredošláPokračovať »