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hy our adversaries. In the second place, the scripture unquestion bly speaks here of the confession of sins according to their different species, as appears from these words : confessing and declaring their deeds: And lastly, of a confession made not to God alone, but also to men : for they came to St. Paul, in order to confess their acts. And because there was at that time no law or constitution of the church commanding the confession of sins, it necessarily follows, that this confession must have been ordained and instituted by Christ.
Luther in his version declares, that the word deeds in the above passage signifies miracles, and is joined in this opinion by John Brentius in his commentary on this passage.
But this exposition is not only rejected by the unanimous consent of all catholics, and especially by venerable Bede, in chap. 1. of Mark; but by far the greater part of the Reformers themselves, as Melancthon, Calvin, Beza, Bullinger, Sarcer, upon the Acts of the Apostles, Illyricus Centur. 1. Book 2. c. 4. col. 347, and Kemnitius in the 2d part of his Exam. page 987. See also the Polyglott of Walton. Besides it is unheard of, that miracles should be termed our deeds, when they are certainly works purely divine; and still more absurb to prçtend, that the words confessing their deeds, signify proclaiming, or boasting of the miracles which they had wrought. We may also add, that the occasion of this confession, as St. Luke testifies in the same chapter, was a great fear which had fallen upon them, in consequence of the signal punishment which God had inflicted upon those, who had abused of the name of Jesus. Now the terrors of divine justice do not generally incite persons to proclaim their own praises, but rather to acknowledge and to confess their sins. In short, the Syriac edition, instead of deeds, has the word offences, which certainly does not imply miracles.
Kemnitius in his book cited above, attempts to give two solutions to our argument; viz. 1st. That the scripture in this place speaks only of general confession, wherein the Ephesians acknowledged that their deeds were not according to the law of God. 2d. That they might have confessed some sins in particular, by way of example, but not all.—But this solution is most easily refuted. For, in the first place, the words their deeds evidently indicate, that the confession was here made of all sins, according to their different species: for no one can be properly said, to confess his deeds, who simply avows himself in general terms, to be a sinner. Besides, the word declare, or the Greek
word evacyy lane, which St. Luke here makes use of, signifies, to relate something distinctly, and in the Syriac edition, we find a word, which signifies the same as the Hebrew, Saphar; and may be properly translated, numbering their sins, which certainly imports a detailed confession. In a word, how else did St. Paul know that they had followed curious things, so as to order their books to be burnt, unless they had previously confessed their sins in detail ?
The other solution, which is the same as that given by Calvin, in his Comm. Act. and Magdeburgensium Centur. 1. lib. 2. chap. 4. col.-360, is manifestly repugnant to the whole scripture. For whenever the scripture speaks of sin in general, it is, and must be understood of all sins; and should it be understood of some only, and not of all, the most absurd and ridiculous sentences might be found in holy writ. Thus for example: Daniel iv. 24. Redeem thou thy sins with alms. Math. 1. He shall save his people from their sins. Math. 9. Son, be of good heart; thy sins are forgiven thee. Luke 11. Forgive us our sins. John 1. Behold who taketh away the sins of the world. Acts 24. That they way receive forgiveness of sins, &c. In these and innumerable other places, the scripture speaks of sins in general terms only, yet it is manifest, that it intends and includes all sios; and although each one in particular be not expressed, they are nevertheless evidently understood; and no one will ever doubt, but that Redeem thy sins with alms ; He shall save his people from their sins; Son be of good heart, thy sins are forgiven thee, &c. &c. means one and the same thing with, Redeem all thy sins with alms ; He shall save his people from all their sins; Son be of good heart; all thy sins without exception, are forgiven thee, and so of the rest. Wherefore, according to the manner of speaking of the scripture, to confess and to declare their deeds, or sins, can mean nothing else, than to discover and to reveal all their sips.
Besides this solution, which we have briefly refuted, Calvin has thought proper to propose a few antitheses in bis commentary upon the Acts, between the confession of these Ephesians, and the confession, as it is now in use, of the catholics, in order to make it appear, that the above cited text, does not in the least favour us: We read, says he, that these confessed but once ; but the Papal law commands us to confess at least once every year. These went forward of their own accord: but the Pope imposes it as a duty upon all. Luke says, that many camè, not all ; but under the Papal law there is no exception. These humbled themselves before the assembly of the faithful : but the Pope has issued a very different cormand, vis, that by secret whisperings,
the sinner shall auricularly reveal his sins to his Priest. See how dexterously they accommodate the scriptures to prove their fallacies, Thus Calvin,
But such light and puerile calumnies scarcely deserve refutation, Por, although we read but once of the Ephesians having confessed, it does not however follow, that they did not do it oftener: otherwise it might be concluded these same Ephesians, because we read no where of their having received either baptism or the Eucharist, according to Calvin's logic, had never received eįther baptism or the Eucharist.
As to their having gone, of their own accord, to make their confession, this ought not in the least to surprize us, as well because there was no law at that time compelling any one to confess within a given time, as because, even in our days, many go spontaneously to confession, notonly at Easter, when alone they are obliged by the eccle: siastical law to go, but also repeatedly through the year. Wherefore, although there had been, even at that time, a law compelling all to confess yearly, the Ephesians could still have gone freely and spontaneously to confession
But many came to confession, not all. What opposition has this to that law, which obliges all to confess their sins, at least once a year Neither does this law absolutely include all, but those only, whose consciences are defiled by mortal sin; nor does it even oblige these at all times, but only once a year. Wherefore supposing this ecclesiastical law to be in force at the time of St. Paul, still some of the Ephesians could have made their confession, when all did not make it.
Finally, as to what regards their having humbled themselves in the assembly of the faithful, I do not know whence Calvin has taken this, unless from his own brain; for St. Luke makes no mention of it: many says he, of those who believed came confessing and declaring their deeds. But whether they came before the assembly of the faithful, or in a private manner, to St. Paul, or to any one else, St. Luke does not say. Besides, do not Catholics even in our days humble themselves before the assembly of the faithful, when in our confessionals ranged in the middle of our temples, the whole congregation looking on, they cast themselves at the feet of the Priest, and secretly make their confession to him ? See how dexterously Calvin accommodates his Antitheses to to weave in his calumnies.
II. The second passage I shall adduce in confirmation of this truth, is taken from the second epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, chap. 5, which is expressed in these words: He hath given to us the
And this agrees
ministry of reconciliation.......and hath placed in us the word of recona ciliation. We are therefore ambasssdørs for Christ, &c. Calvin himself, acknowledges in the fourth book of his Instit. c. 1. §. 22. that these words refer to the power of the keys, and frankly confesses, that this power is to be exercised, as well publicly, as privately, towards the faithful who have been baptised. Now certainly those who are sent as ambassadors, invested with a power to reconcile the enemies of a king, with the king himself, cannot properly discharge their ministry, unless they know from the guilty, what they have done, what the nature of the offence is, which they have committed, what satisfaction they are disposed to make, &c. &c. Wherefore this ministerial power necessarily carries with it, the power of hearing the causes of the guilty, and consequently of exacting and receiving their confessions : : nor is it lawful for the ministers to reconcile at pleasure any, without having previously heard them.
III. The third passage, is taken from the Epist. of St. James chap. 5. wherein St. James, exhorts the faithful to confess their sins. His words are these: Confess your sins one to another : which exhortation manifestly shows confession to have been already instituted, and that it was to be made not only to God, but also to man. manifestly with the above words, according to the explanation which the Fathers give them. For, a little above, the Apostle St. James, had admonished the sick to bring in the priests of the church, in order to pray over them, anointing them with oil, and likewise added: that the effect of that sacred unction and of the prayers would be, to save the sick and raise them up, and if they should be in sins, to remit and deliver them from them. But in order that the reader might not conclude from these words, that those deadly or mortal sins, of which a person might be guilty, would be remitted by the sacred unction, he subjoined: Confess, therefore, your sins, one to another : for the sacred unction does not remit those mortal sins of which a man may have a kpowledge, since these are to be cleansed by the sacrament of Confession; but such as are venial, or even mortal, which we have no knowledge of, and which are commonly called the remnants of sin.
But our adversaries object, and particularly Melancthon in his apolog. confess. art de confess. and satisfac, and John Calvin lib. 3. Istitut cos. 4 § 12, the words one to another, for, say they, these words compel us to say, that St. James does not speak of sacramental confession, which is made to the Priest only, but of the confession of an injury done to an offended brother, in order to be reconciled wtih him, and to obtain his pardon or, of the confession of sins, which is made to a pious and holy man, in order that he, knowing our spiritual infirmity, may instruct us, and offer up prayers to God for us. Thus Melancthon and Calvin.
But this objection is easily removed. For Origen in his second homil. in Levit. St. Chrysostom, book 3d de sacerdot. St. Augustin homil. 12, ex lib. 50 hom. and St. Bernard in his book of meditations, chap. 9, all maintain that this place is simply to be understood of confession which is made to a priest ; and as venerable Bede in his commentary upon this passage, and Hugue de S. Victor, book 2, on the sacraments, correctly expound, these words one to another are to be taken, as the agreement of the words of the scripture require; consequently confess your sins one to another implies the same, as, you being men, confess to men; you who stand in need of absolution, to those who have the power to absolve from these words: whose sing you shall forgive, they are forgiven them. As in the first epist. of Peter chap. 4, when the Apostle says: Using hospitality towards one another without murmuring, as every man hath received
grace, ministering the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the words of God: if any man minister, let it be as from the power which God administereth, &c. he certainly does not wish to give to understand by the words uniting hospitality towards one another, that all without diserimination are to receive the rights of hospitality from all, or that all are to be taught, or all to be cured, &c. but that those who have no house, or are in need should be hospitably received by those who have, or. who are in easy circumstances; that the ignorant, should be instructed by the learned; the sick should be cured by physicians; the poor supported by the rich; and not, that the rich should be supported by the poor, or the physicians should be cured by the sick, or the learned, instructed by the ignorant, or finally, those who abound in houses should receive the rights of hospitality from those who have none: So also, ought those therefore, who are bound by the chains of sin, to recur to those to whom it has been said: Whatsoever you shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven,
The succeeding words also of the same Epist. viz. Pray for one another, that you may be saved, signify, that the Priests should pray for the sick and not the sick for the Priests : for St. James manifestly alludes to what he had said before: Is any man sick among yon ?