Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

NSTITUTES OF THE

ife, and she go from him, and become
shall he return unto her again? Shall not
reatly polluted? But thou hast played the
my lovers, and thou hast polluted the land
doms and with thy wickedness. Yet return
nou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord, and
e mine anger to fall upon you;

for I am
the Lord, and will not keep anger for

surely there cannot possibly be any other
him who affirms, that he hath no pleasure

the wicked, but that the wicked turn from
e." (w) Therefore when Solomon dedicated
e appointed it also for this purpose, that
i to obtain pardon of sins, might there be
wered. His words are, If they sin against

1

longer presume to supplicate for the pardon of their sins?
so that if they offend against the Lord, they can obtain
no mercy? What would this be but to affirm, that Christ
came for the destruction of his people, and not for their
salvation; if the loving-kindness of God in the pardon
of sins, which was continually ready to be exercised to
the saints under the Old Testament, be maintained to be
now entirely withdrawn? But if we give any credit to the
Scriptures, which proclaim, that in Christ the grace and
philanthropy of God have at length been fully manifested,
that his mercy has been abundantly diffused, and reconciliation
between God and man accomplished; (2) we ought not to
doubt that the clemency of our heavenly Father is displayed
to us in greater abundance, rather than restricted or diminish-
ed. Examples to prove this are not wanting. Peter, who had
been warned that he who would not confess the name of
Christ before men would be denied by him before angels,
denied him three times in one night, and accompanied
the denial with execrations; yet he was not refused par-
don. (a) Those of the Thessalonians who led disorderly
lives, are reprehended by the Apostle, in order to be in-
vited to repentance. (6) Nor does Peter drive Simon him-
self to despair, but rather directs him to cherish a favour-
able hope, when he persuades him to pray for forgive-
ness.)

XXVII. What are we to say of cases in which the
most enormous sins have sometimes seized whole Churches?
From this situation Paul rather mercifully reclaimed them,
than abandoned them to the curse. The defection of the
Galatians was no trivial offence. (d) The Corinthians were
still less excusable, their crimes being more numerous and
equally enormous. (e) Yet neither are

excluded from the mercy of the Lord: on the contrary, the very persons who had gone beyond all others in impurity, unchastity, and fornication, are expressly invited

repentance.

e is no man that sinneth not) and thou be
m and deliver them to the enemy, so that they
ray captives unto the land of the enemy, far
f they shall bethink themselves, and repent
hither they were carried captives, and repeat
plication unto thee in the land of those that
captives, saying, We have sinned, and have
y, we have committed wickedness; and pray
rard the land which thou gavest unto their
ty which thou hast chosen, and the house

built for thy name: then hear thou their
eir supplication in heaven, and forgive thy
we sinned against thee, and all their trans-
ein they have transgressed against thee."[x]
:hout cause, that in the law the Lord ordained

for sins; for unless he had foreseen that
uld be subject to the maladies of daily sins

,
· have appointed these remedies. (y)
v I ask whether by the advent of Christ,
ülness of grace was displayed, the faithful
prived of this benefit, so that they

to

[ocr errors]

(:) 2 Tim.i. 9, 10. Tit. ii. 11. iii. 47.
(1) Matt. x. 33. Mark viii. 38. Matt. xxvi. 69, &c. (6) 2 Thess. iii. 6, 11, 12.

(c) Acts viii. 22. (d) Gal. i. 6. iii. 1. iv. 9.
(-) 1 Cor. i. 11, 12. v. 1. 2 Cor. xii. 21.

(20) Ezek. xxxiii. 11. (v) Numb. xxviii. 3.

ii. 1, 2, 12. ings viii. 46mw,50

For the covenant of the Lord will ever remain eternal and inviolable which he hath made with Christ, the antitype of Solomon, and with all his members, in these words; "If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him.” (S) Finally, the order of the Creed teaches us that pardon of sins ever continues in the Church of Christ; because after having mentioned the Church, it immediately adds the forgiveness of sins.

XXVIII. Some persons who are a little more judicious, perceiving ihe notion of Novatus to be so explicitly contradicted by the Scripture, do not represent every sin as unpardonable, but only voluntary transgression, into which a person may have fallen with the full exercise of his knowledge and will. These persons admit of no pardon for any sins, but such as may have been the mere errors of ignorance. But as the Lord, in the law, commanded some sacrifices to be offered to expiate the voluntary sins of the faithful, and others to atone for sins of ignorance; what extreme presumption is it to deny that there is any pardon for voluntary transgression! I maintain, that there is nothing more evident, than that the one sacrifice of Christ is available for the remission of the voluntary sins of the saints, since the Lord hath testified the same by the legal victims, as by so many types. Besides, who can plead ignorance as an excuse for David, who was evidently so well acquainted with the law? Did not David know that adultery and murder were great crimes, which he daily punished in others? Did the patriarchs consider fratricide as lawful? Had the Corinthians learned so little that they could imagine impurity, incontinence, fornication, animosities, and contentions, to be pleasing to God? Could Peter, who had been so carefully warned, be ignorant how great a crime it was to abjure his Master? Let us not therefore, by our

[ocr errors]

(f) Psalm lxxxix. 30–33.

of the Lord will ever remain eternal and
he hath made with Christ, the antitype of
th all his members, in these words: “ If
ke my law, and walk not in my judgments;
statutes, and keep not my commandments;
their transgression with the rod, and their
pes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will
e from him." () Finally, the order of the
is that pardon of sins ever continues in the
; because after having mentioned the Church,
dds the forgiveness of sins.
ne persons who are a little more judicious,
notion of Novatus to be so explicitly con:

Scripture, do not represent every sin as
ut only voluntary transgression, into which
have fallen with the full exercise of his
will. These persons admit of no pardon

cruelty, shut the gate of mercy which God has so liberally opened.

XXIX. I am fully aware that the old writers have explained those sins, which are daily forgiven to the faithful, to be the smaller faults, which are inadvertently committed through the infirmity of the flesh; but solemn repentance, which was then required for greater offences, they thought, was no more to be repeated than baptism. This sentiment is not to be understood as indicating their design, either to drive into despair such persons as had relapsed after their first repentance, or to extenuate those errors as if they were small in the sight of God. For they knew that the saints frequently stagger through unbelief, that they sometimes utter unnecessary oaths, that they occasionally swell into anger, and even break out into open reproaches, and that they are likewise chargeable with other faults which the Lord holds in the greatest abomination. They expressed themselves in this manner, to distinguish between private offences and those public crimes which were attended with great scandal in the Church. But the difficulty, which they made, of forgiving those who had committed any thing deserving of ecclesiastical censure, did not arise from an opinion that it was difficult for them to obtain pardon from the Lord; they only intended by this severity to deter others from rashly running into crimes, which would justly be followed by their exclusion from the communion of the Church. The word of the Lord, however, which ought to be our only rule in this case, certainly prescribes greater moderation. For it teaches, that the rigour of discipline ought not to be carried to such an extent, as to overwhelm with sorrow the person whose benefit we are required to regard as its principal object; as we have before

such as may have been the mere errors of
as the Lord, in the law, commanded some
offered to expiate the voluntary sins of the
hers to atone for sins of ignorance; what
iption is it to deny that there is any pardon
ransgression! I maintain, that there is now
ent, than that the one sacrifice of Christ is
e remission of the voluntary sins of the

Lord hath testified the same by the legal
many types. Besides, who can plead igno-
cuse for David, who was evidently so well
the law? Did not David know that adultery
re great crimes, which he daily punished in
e patriarchs consider fratricide as lawful
bians learned so little that they could ima-
incontinence, fornication, animosities, and
- pleasing to God? Could Peter, who had
v warned, be ignorant how great a crime
his Master? Let us not therefore, by oor

shewn more at large.

c) Psalm 1sxxix. 30-43.

CHAPTER II.

The True and False Church compared. WE have already stated the importance which we ought to attach to the ministry of the word and sacraments, and the extent to which our reverence for it ought to be carried, so as to account it a perpetual mark and characteristic of the Church. That is to say, that wherever that exists entire and uncorrupted, no errors and irregularities of conduct form a sufficient reason for refusing the name of a Church. In the next place, that the ministry itself is not so far vitiated by smaller errors, as to be considered on that account less legitimate. It has farther been shewn, that the errors which are entitled to this forgiveness are those, by which the grand doctrine of religion is not injured, which do not suppress the points in which all the faithful ought to agree as articles of faith, and which, in regard to the sacraments, neither abolish nor subvert the legitimate institution of their Author. But as soon as falsehood has made a breach in the fundamentals of religion, and the system of necessary doctrine is subverted, and the use of the sacraments, fails, the certain consequence is the ruin of the Church, as there is an end of a man's life when his throat is cut, or his heart is mortally wounded. And this is evident from the language of Paul, when he declares the Church to be “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone." (h) If the foundation of the Church be the doctrine of the prophets, and apostles, which enjoins the faithful to place their salvation in Christ alone, how can the edifice stand any longer, when that doctrine is taken away? The Church therefore must of necessity fall, where that system of religion is subverted, which alone is able to sustain it. Besides, if the true Church be “the pillar and ground of truth," () that certainly can be no Church where delusion and falsehood have usurped the dominion.

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[graphic]

CHAPTER II.

ue and False Church compared.

y stated the importance which we ought
ninistry of the word and sacraments, and
ch our reverence for it ought to be car-
punt it a perpetual mark and characteristic
That is to say, that wherever that exists
upted, no errors and irregularities of con-
cient reason for refusing the name of a
next place, that the ministry itself is not

smaller errors, as to be considered on that
timate. It has farther been shewn, that
are entitled to this forgiveness are those

, rand doctrine of religion is not sajured,

ppress the points in which all the faithful as articles of faith, and which, in regard to neither abolish nor subvert the legitimate eir Author. But as soon as falsehood has in the fundamentals of religion, and the sary doctrine is subverted, and the used fails, the certain consequence is the rui as there is an end of a man's life whe t, or his heart is mortally wounded. All rom the language of Paul, when he declaro e "built upon the foundation of the apostla esus Christ himself being the chief corner he foundation of the Church be the doctrine

and apostles, which enjoins the faithful alvation in Christ alone, how can the edi longer, when that doctrine is taken away erefore must of necessity fall, where the

on is subverted, which alone is able to su

if the true Church be the pillar
(i) that certainly can be no Church wher:
ehood have usurped the dominion

(11 Tim. iij. 15

ii. 20.

« PredošláPokračovať »