« AnteriorContinuar »
sion, we shall happen to have either deserved, or, it may be, to have fallen under the censures of the church, and so confession to the church be necessary to restore us to the peace of it. Or, 3, If we shall have any private reason that may move us to acquaint any person with our sins; for advice, for prayer, for absolution, or for any other the like spiritual advantage, which cannot be had without it.
Proofs SUBJOINED.—Matt. v. 23. If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 1 Cor. v. It is reported commonly that there is fornication
among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
1 Tim. v. 20. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. James, v. 16. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
14. Q. What think you of that confession (commonly called auricular confession) which the church of Rome requires as necessary to forgiveness ?
A. I look upon it as a great and dangerous imposition, that has no warrant from the Holy Scriptures, but is a rack and share to the consciences of good men; and may be apt to encourage those who are evil-ioclined to commit sin : whilst by the absolution which is so readily given them thereupon, (and the efficacy of which is so highly magnified in that church, they are taught to entertain a much less
opinion both of the heinousness and danger of their evil doings, and of the easiness of obtaining the forgiveness of them, than either the scripture warrants, or their own interest should prompt them to admit of.
15. Q. Is there not somewhat yet required beyond this, in order to our forgiveness?
A. Yes, there is; for to all this there must be superadded, an actual forsaking of those sins which we confess, and that absolute, and without reserve: so that we must firmly resolve, and as much as in us lies, heartily endeavour not to return any more to the commission of them.
PROOFS SUBJOINED.-Prov. xxvii. 13. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper : but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Isaiah, Iv. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the urighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Ezek. xxxiii. 11. Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel.
16. Q. But ought there not, beyond all this, some satisfaction to be made to God for the sins which we have committed ?
A. Yes, certainly; and such there has been made by our Saviour Christ for us; who has fully satisfied the justice of God for our sins, and left nothing more for us to do in that behalf.
PROOFS SUBJOINED.—Heb. ix. 25, 26, 28. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into hea
ven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with the blood of others; for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin unto salvation. X. 12, 14. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God; for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 1 Pet. ii. 24. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins should live unto righteousness : by whose stripes. we are healed. iii. 18. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit. 1 John, i. 7. If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
17. Q. What do you then say to those satisfactions which the church of Rome teaches we ourselves may, and ought to make, for our sins ?
A. That they are built upon a false foundation; are contrary to the goodness of God; and beyond the capacity of man.
18. Q. What is the foundation upon which they are built?
A. It is this: that when God forgives us our sins, whether upon our own repentance, or by virtue of
the priest's absolution, he remits, indeed, the fault, and purges our guilt; and by this acquits us from the everlasting punishment that would otherwise have been due to them: but yet still retains us under an obligation to some temporal sufferings, either by satisfactory works to be done for them in this life, or by undergoing a certain proportion of pain for them after death, in a place which they call purgatory.
19. Q. How does it appear that this foundation is false and erroneous ?
A. Because, in the first place, it is absurd to suppose that God should forgive the whole guilt of our sins, and yet having done so, should afterwards punish us for them: and, secondly, it is injurious to the sufferings and merits of Christ, whose death was a sufficient satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, and has left no room either for God to require, or for us to pay any thing more.
20. Q. Does repentance then, if it be sincere, without any thing more, restore us again to our state of grace, and reconcile us to God Almighty?
A. If it be sincere, it does, through faith in Jesus Christ.
21. Q. Does God allow repentance to all sids?
A. There is no sin but what true repentance washes away: but there may be some cases in which God may deny us his grace, so that we shall not be able truly to repent.
ProOFS SUBJOINED.-Acts, ï. 37, 38. Now, when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. xiii. 38, 39. Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. xvi. 30, 31. And he brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved ? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
22. Q. What are those cases ?
A. They may all be reduced to this one general: namely, a wilful abuse, and resistance of the Divine Grace: whether it be by a long habit of sinning, or by frequently acting against the dictates of our own consciences, and the motions of God's Holy Spirit: to say nothing of some sins, which are in an eminent manner destructive of the Divine Grace, such as pride, covetousness, sensuality; but especially that sin which is expressly called in Scripture, the sin against the Holy Ghost.
PROOFS SUBJOINED.-Prov. i. 28, &c. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh. xxviii. 14. Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief. Isaiah, lxvi. 4. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer ; when I spake, they did not hear; but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not. Jer. vii. 13. And
have done all these works, saith the