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mediately granted upon the hearing of men's confessions, is that which we charge the Romish priests to have learned from the Audian heretics. “ Some require penance to this end, that they might presently have the communion restored unto them: these men desire not so much to loose themselves, as to bind the priest ;" saith St Ambrose. If this be true, that the priest doth bind himself by his hasty and unadvised loosing of others; the case is like to go hard with our popish priests, who ordinarily, in bestowing their absolutions, use to make more haste than good speed. Wherein, with how little judgment they proceed, who thus take upon them the place of judges in men's consciences, may sufficiently appear by this; that whereas the main ground, whereupon they would build the necessity of auricular confession, and the particular enumeration of all known sins, is pretended to be this, that the ghostly father having taken notice of the cause may judge righteous judgment, and discern who should be bound and who should be loosed; the matter yet is so carried in this court of theirs, that every man commonly goeth away with his absolution, and all sorts of people usually receive one and the selfsame judgment. “ Ifu thou separate the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth,” saith the Lord. Whose mouth then may we hold them to be, who seldom put any difference between these ; and make it their ordinary practice to pronounce the same sentence of absolution, as well
the other? If we would know how late it was, before this trade of pardoning men's sins after this manner was established in the Church of Rome ; we cannot discover this better, than by tracing out the doctrine publicly taught in that Church touching this matter, from the time of Satan's loosing, until his binding again by the restoring of the purity of the gospel in our days. And here Radulphus Ardens doth in the first place offer himself, who toward the be
· Nonnulli ideo poscunt pænitentiam, ut statim sibi reddi communionem velint: hi non tam se solvere cupiunt, quam sacerdotem ligare. Suam enim conscientiam non exuunt, sacerdotis induunt. Amb. de pænit. lib. 2. cap. 9.
u Jeremiah, chap. 15. ver. 19.
ginning of that time preached this for sound divinity: “ The power of releasing sins belongeth to God alone. But the ministry, which improperly also is called a power, he hath granted unto his substitutes, who after their manner do bind and absolve; that is to say, do declare that men are bound or absolved. For God doth first inwardly absolve the sinner by compunction: and then the priest outwardly, by giving the sentence, doth declare that he is absolved. Which is well signified by that of Lazarus: who first in the grave was raised up by the Lord; and afterward, by the ministry of the disciples, was loosed from the bands wherewith he was tied." Then follow both the Anselms, ours of Canterbury, and the other of Laon in France : who in their expositions upon the ninth of St. Matthew, clearly teach, that none but God alone can forgive sins. Ivo bishop of Chartres writeth, that " by inward contrition the inward Judge is satisfied, and therefore without delay forgiveness of the sin is granted by him, unto whom the inward conversion is manifest ; but the Church, because it knoweth not the hidden things of the heart, doth not loose him that is bound, although he be raised up, until he be brought out of the tomb; that is to say, purged by public satisfaction:" and if presently upon the inward conversion God be pleased to forgive the sin, the absolution of the priest, which followeth, cannot in any sort properly be accounted a remission of that sin; but a further manifestation only of the remission formerly granted by God himself.
# Potestas peccata relaxandi solius Dei est. Ministerium vero, quod improprie etiam potestas vocatur, vicariis suis concessit ; qui modo suo ligant vel absolvunt, id est, ligatos vel absolutos esse ostendunt. Prius enim Deus interius peccatorem per compunctionem absolvit; sacerdos vero exterius, sententiam proferendo, eum esse absolutum ostendit: Quod bene significatur per Lazarum ; qui prius in tumulo a Domino suscitatur, et post, ministerio discipulorum, a vitiis (fort. vittis) quibus ligatus fuerat, absolvitur. Rad. Ardens, homil. Dominic. 1. post Pascha.
* Per internum gemitum satisfit interno judici, et idcirco indilata datur ab eo peccati remissio, cui manifesta est interna conversio. Ecclesia vero, quia occulta cordis ignorat, non solvit ligatum, licet suscitatum, nisi de monumento elatum; id est, publica satisfactione purgatum. Ivo Carnotens. epist. 228.
The master of the sentences after him, having propounded the divers opinions of the doctors touching this point, demandeth at last, “ In' this so great variety what is to be held ?" and returneth for answer, “ Surely this we may say and think : that God alone doth forgive and retain sins, and yet hath given power of binding and loosing unto the Church : but He bindeth and looseth one way, and the Church another. For he only by himself forgiveth sin, who both cleanseth the soul from inward blot, and looseth it from the debt of everlasting death. But this hath he not granted unto priests : to whom notwithstanding he hath given the power of binding and loosing, that is to say, of declaring men to be bound or loosed. Whereupon the Lord did first by himself restore health to the leper; and then sent him unto the priests, by whose judgment he might be declared to be cleansed : so also he offered Lazarus to his disciples to be loosed, having first quickened him." In like manner Hugo cardinalis sheweth, that it is onlyGod that forgiveth sins; and that “the priest cannot bind or loose the sinner with or from the bond of the fault, and the punishment due thereunto; but only declare him to be bound or loosed : as the Levitical priest did not make nor cleanse the leper, but only declared him to be infected or clean.” And a great number of the schoolmen afterward shewed themselves to be of the same judgment, that to pardon the fault, and the eternal punishment due unto the same, was the proper work of God; that the priest's absolution hath no real operation that way, but presupposeth the party to be first justified and absolved by God. Of this mind were, Gulielmusb Altissiodorensis, Alexander of Hales, Bonaventured, Ockam®, Thomas de Argentina, Michaels de Bononia, Gabriel" Biel, Henricusi de Huecta, Johannesk Major, and others.
y In hac tanta varietate quid tenendum ? Hoc sane dicere ac sentire possumus; quod solus Deus dimittit peccata et retinet, et tamen Ecclesiæ contulit potestatem ligandi et solvendi : sed aliter Ipse solvit vel ligat, aliter Ecclesia. Ipse enim per se tantum dimittit peccatum, qui et animam mundat ab interiori macula, et a debito æternæ mortis solvit. Non autem hoc sacerdotibus concessit: quibus tamen tribuit potestatem solvendi et ligandi ; id est, ostendendi homines ligatos vel solutos. Unde Dominus leprosum sanitati prius per se restituit ; deinde ad sacerdotes misit, quorum judicio ostenderetur mundatûs. Ita etiam Lazarum, jam vivificatum, obtulit discipulis solvendum. Petr. Lombard. lib. 4. sentent. distinct. 18. e. f.
z Solius Dei est dimittere peccata. Hugo card. in Luc. cap. 5.
a Vinculo culpæ, et pænæ debitæ, non potest eum sacerdos ligare vel solvere ; sed tantum ligatum vel absolutum ostendere. Sicut sacerdos Leviticus non faciebat vel mundabat leprosum ; sed tantum infectum vel mundum ostendebat. Id. in Matt. cap. 16.
To lay down all these words at large would be too tedious. In general, Hadrian the sixth, one of their own popes, acknowledgeth, that “the most approved divines were of this mind, that the keys of the priesthood do not extend themselves to the remission of the fault;" and Major" affirmeth, that this " is the common tenet of the doctors." So likewise is it avouched by Gabriel Biel, that “the old doctors commonly follow the opinion of the master of the sentences,” that priests do forgive or retain sins, while they judge and declare that they are forgiven by God or retained. But all this notwithstanding, Suarez is bold to tell us, that “this' opinion of the master is false, and now at this time erroneous." It was not held so the other day, when Ferus preached at Mentz, that mandid
6 Altissiodorens. summ. lib. 4. cap. de generali usu clavium.
Argentin. in 4. sent. dist. 18. art. 3.
Henr. de Oyta (al. lota), in propositionib. apud Illyricum, in catal. test. veritat.
k Major, in 4. sent. dist. 18. quæst 1.
Et illam opinionem communiter sequuntur doctores antiqui. Biel. in 4. dist. 14. quæst. 2. d.
• Veruntamen hæc sententia magistri falsa est, et jam hoc tempore erronea. Fr. Suarez. in Thom. tom. 4. disp. 19. sec. 2. num. 4.
p Non quod homo proprie remittat peccatum; sed quod ostendat ac certificet a Deo remissum. Neque enim aliud est absolutio, quam ab homine accipis, quam si dicat: En fili, certifico te tibi remissa esse peccata, annuncio tibi te habere propitium Deum ; et quæcunque Christus in baptismo et evangelio nobis promisisted upon.
not properly remit sin, but did declare and certify that it was remitted by God; so that the absolution, received from man, is nothing else than if he should say, Behold, my son, I certify thee that thy sins are forgiven thee, I pronounce unto thee that thou hast God favourable unto thee; and whatsoever Christ in baptism and in his gospel hath promised unto us, he doth now declare and promise unto thee by me. Of this shalt thou have me to be a witness : go in peace, and in quiet of conscience.” But jam hoc tempore the case is altered : these things must be purged out of Ferus? as erroneous; the opinion of the old doctors must give place to the sentence of the new fathers of Trent. And so we are come at length to the end of this long question ; in the handling whereof I have spent the more time, by reason our priests do make this faculty of pardoning men's sins to be one of the most principal parts of their occupation, and the particular discovery thereof is not ordinarily by the writers of our side so much in
sit, tibi nunc per me annunciat et promittit. Jo. Ferus, lib. 2. comment, in Matt. cap. 9. edit. Mogunt. ann. 1559.
4 Fer. in Matt. edit. Antverp. ann. 1559, 1570, &c.