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man brains others so long, till at length lie be brained himself: the usurer, he serves his gold: the adulterer, lie serves his lust: but all serve one chief Lord, one master, the devil, and shall all receive the same wages, which it the wtt/ret vf all tin, death: Why should God pay them for their pains, that go cot of his errands I ~
The second portion of meditations, from which we proceed to make some farther selections, is introduced with the following dedication :—
To the Right Reverend Father in God, and Right Honourable William, Lord Bishop of London, one of His Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council.
Right Reverend and my Honoured Lord,
The world is full of books, he knows nothing, that doth not know in print; complain, but add to the number, yet I am persuaded, if men would but know their last, there would be less done, or less ado; I censure no man's endeavours. I cannot but condemn those nltracrepitasta, that with Fesins will teach St. Paul divinity: I desire to keep my pen to my plough, only something duty enjoins me; great things my own immaturity forbids me, snch as I bave, I have provided: ingratitude, of all is the worst looked sin, verbal thankfulness little differs from ingratitude, snch is mine rain to he : books are but words, but many times that is accepted, where we like, which from others would be counted cheap. Your Lordship's favour makes me thus bold to put these trifle-hours to that view which is not used to trifles: I bave been late, and long sick, some of my lick thoughts (being now well) I am bold to present; that they are worse than is wished, or looked for, is not want of respect, but skill. The matter is almost as divers as the pages, nuga> miscellanea, of directions, instructions, resolutions; what we should do, what we should be; in all which I desire only to shew myself to your Lordship, not to the world; a testate of Oiy duty, not of my proficiency; what I do owe, Dot what I could do; my pen, as my knowledge, may lag behind with the last, my prayers shall vie with the formost for your Lordship's fruition of all happiness here, and of eternal happiness hereafter. Your Lordship's in all humble
duty to be commanded,
Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven: bow are they poor
Remembrancer, No. 64.
that have a kingdom ? or what kingdom is wealthy, if not that of heaven? or why complainest thou of that poverty, that saints thee? that is a happy soul that makes even with God every night, and every morn begins the world anew.
When I at first look out into the world, and see many men, (and those none of the best) in better case, I think myself forgotten, aud wish for more: but when I remember my account, I fear I have too much, and forget those wishes; it may be if I had more wealth, I should be more riotous: outward losses are sometimes gainful, and it is good for us that we are afflicted, it wonld be worse with us, if it were not sometimes thus bad j many, if they were no.t kept short of these, would come short of heaven. He knows us that keeps us, and if lie will bring us to heaven rather one Way than another, His will be done; let Him give my goods to the poor, and my body to be burned, and bring me to heaven, though in a fiery chariot; I cannot complain of the foulness of that way that carries me to God.
Pride and nncbaritableness are sins in fashion, and the one the cause, of the other; many think they should want for their pride, if they should but be charitable, I have often wondered, and grieved, to see a rich porch, and a poor Christian's walls clothed, and meu go naked. Say what thou wilt, but I am sure with the Apostle, That he cannot love God whom he hath not teen, that lovet not hit brethren whom he hath teen, and can endure to tee miserable.
We owe more to God for redeeming us, than for making us; His word made us: but when he came to redeem us, that word must be made flesh, and that flesh must suffer; iii onr creation He gave us ourselves; but in our redemption he gave us himself: and by giving himself for us, gave us ourselves again that were lost; so that we owe ourselves, and all that we have, twice told: and now what shall we give uuto thee, O thou preserver of men, .for ourselves thus given and restored? If we could give ourselves a thousand times over, yet what are we to God r and yet if we do give ourselves to Him and His service, snch as we arc, and snch as we can, He accepts it, and will reward it. I will never grudge God his own. I have nothing that is not His; and if I give it to Him, he will restore it again with interest, never any man was a loser by God.
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
The Power of the Key$; or, Considerations upon the Absolving Power of the Church, and upon some of the Privileges of the Christian Covenant. By the Rev. Edward Burton, MA. Student of Christ Church.
The usurped power and corrupt doctrines of the Pope have not yet ceased to afflict and injure the Church of England. Every new debate upon our ecclesiastical constitution furnishes fresh proofs of the injuries inflicted by the court of Rome upon the once simple fabric of the Christian commonwealth. The favourite accusation in the mouth of her enemies is, that our Church still retains the errors of Popish times. She was charged not long since in the House of Lords, by Lord Grey, with professing the Popish doctrine of the Mass, and teaching it in the Catechism to her children. Mr. Brougham, and his co-partners in the Edinburgh Review, say that she claims the power of forgiving sins, as distinctly and unequivocally, as the Priest in his confessional.
The effect of such calumnies upon those who hate both the Church and Christianity, is too notorious to require pointing out. Neither are they altogether harmless in other quarters. The defenders of the Church exhibit zeal without knowledge, or caution without courage —and while a few perhaps will assert with Mr. Prebendary Dennis, that the Priest has power to forgive sin; other few, among whom we lament to find Mr. Burton, virtually explain away the absolving power of the Church.
The Dissertation now before us is the work of a sensible man, a sound theologian, and a good scholar—and there are many parts of the work, which bear evidence of the combined powers and qualities of >ts author. But he seems to have
been infected with the too common desire of saying 'some new thing' —and not contented with saying it to himself and his friends, the secret must needs be communicated to the world at large. We have no objection to assist in giving circulation to his theory—upon condition that we may be permitted to say a few words respecting its validity. He opens his argument in the following terms.
"The power of the keys, or the power of binding and loosing, or the power of remitting and retaining sins, (for these three expressions have the same meaning,) rests upon the following passages of the New Testament.
"Matt. xvi. 19. And I will ijive onto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be honnd in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
"Matt, xviii. 18. Verily I say onto yon, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
"John xx. 23. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
"It is allowed on all sides, that by these words Christ conveyed some power to his apostles; and it will he attempted to be proved, that the original grant alio conveyed the same power to all the successors of the apostles for ever.
"Various interpretations have been given to these words. They have been supposed to mean, that the apostles might admit, or refuse to admit, any persons to the Christian covenant; that they might inflict and withdraw the censures of the Church: that they might of themselves absolve, or refuse to absolve, any persons from their sins.
"Advocates have been found for each of these interpretations. Some would give all these powers to the Church; while others think that she is only entitled to some of them; that she has power to inflict censures, or to enact laws, hut not to forgive sins. Among those, who see in these words the grant of an absolving power, opinions are also divided, - Some think, that tUe priest may give absolution, not merely as declaratory or promissory, but authoritative ami immediate; that lie may actually pronounce the penitent to be from that very time absolved, and that this absolution will be ratified in heaven. Others again will not allow this: they think, that the priest merely promises pardon from God hereafter; or that he declares in the name of God, that if the man truly repent him of his sins, (of which God only can be a judge,) be may then be absolved.
"The Church of England would be quoted in support of all these several interpretations. She undoubtedly claims the right of inflicting and withdrawing censures, however obsolete such a custom may have become: she also claims the power of bhuling her members to the observation of certain laws, and of touting them from others. With respect to absolution, or the forgiveness of sins, her authority would be quoted by those, who assert this doctrine in its highest sense, and by those, who allow it merely in the lowest degree. The latter would say, that in her form of absolution, which is read in the Morning Service, the priest evidently does nothing more than execute a command of God, in declaring and pronouncing, that lie pardonetli and absolveth all them that trulyrepent. The former would quote the office for the visitation of the sick, where the priest is authorized to .say 'by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins.'
"It will be the object of the following pages to consider these several interpretations: and it may perhaps be well to state here the conclusion, which it is intended to draw, viz. that the power of the keys, or the power which is expressed in Matt. xvi. 19. xviii. Ik. and John xx. 23. gave to the apostles and to their successors for ever the privilege of admitting any persons by baptism to the Christian covenant; that is, of loosing the faithful and peuitent from the disabling curse, under which they were born, and of putting them iuto a new condition, which made them capable of working out their salvation." P. I.
Mr. Burton (lien observes, that the words in Matt. xvi. and xviii. contain only a promise of what shall be done; while the words in John xx. intimate an actual gift. He contends therefore that the Power of the Key* was bestowed by our Lord upon his apostles, in the interval
between the Resurrection and Ascension—several pages are employed in proving against the Romanists that Ihe gift was not confined to St. Peter. The argument is put with great neatness and force, and may be advantageously consulted by such as entertain any doubts upon the subject.
The next point is to distinguish between the power of remitting and retaining sin, which was conferred in the interval between the Resurrection and Ascension, and the power of working miracles and speaking with tongues, which was not bestowed till the day of Pentecost. Here again Mr. Burton proceeds in a workmanlike manner— shortly and satisfactorily establishes his point, and shews that the History of the two Inspirations does not give the slightest grounds for concluding that the Apostles could not transmit the one power without transmitting all the others likewise. Our Lord's last charge to his Apostles is then examined—and the different accounts of it harmonized. We extract Mr. Burton's paraphrase of this most important portion of Scripture—and wish that the inference which he draws from it, were less unworthy of the foundation on which it rests.
"We might paraphrase this charge in the following manner. The atonement is now made: God has accepted the sacrifice, which I offered for sin, and allows all men to be benefited by it. Power is henceforth given to me to put all the inhabitants of the earth into a way of coming to heaven: they may have their sins forgiven, if they will believe in me: this is the condition, which I appoint for their being put into the way of salvation. It was to make this atonement, and to invite all men to partake of it on this condition, that my Father sent me into the world: and as I am now going away, in the same manner I send yon in my name, and authorize you to appoint successors after you, who shall continue till the end of the world to publish these glad tidings to all mankind. Go therefore, and make them known to all nations. Moreover it is my will, that wherever you make them known, every person, who wishes to profit by them, and to accept the terms offered, shall first be baptiied. He mnst believe in me: he must repent of his past sins: and then being baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost •, he shall be fully admitted into the new covenant, which we have established through my blood. Till now it was impossible for men to please God, or to make any atonement for their sins, so as to escape punishment: if they died without committing sin themselves, yet the sin of their first parents, under the corse of which they were born, was enough to subject them to the wrath of God. But now they may have this curse effectually removed, if they will believe in me: and they may have their own personal sins forgiven, if they will add repentance to their belief. Go therefore; and by baptizing those who believe in me,and admitting them into my covenant, loose them from that curse, and from that inability to pleaso God, by which they were before bound. Whosoever are thus loosed by you in my name, are really and effectually loosed: my Father, who is in heaven, will look upon them as beginning a new life, and will judge them merely for the works which they do after baptism. The sins, which you then remitted to them, will not be imputed to them, so as to affect their admission into heaven. But, on the other hand, whosoever refuses to believe in me, is in the same state of condemnation, as if I had never died: he is still bound by the enrse passed upon Adam, and subject to the wrath of God. You cannot loose him: you cannot admit him into the new covenant, or hold out to him any hope of forgiveness, unless he believe in me. In sin.li cases you have no authority: you must leave such persons bound: yon must denounce to them, that their sins are still retained; and at the last day they will find, that they are really and effectually retained, so as to keep them from heaven.
"It will be seen, that in the latter part of this paraphrase I have intended to give the meaning of John xx. S3. 'Whose soever sins ye. remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained;' coupling that passage with Matt, xviii. IB. ' Whatsoever ye bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven;
* It has been said, that the apostles do not appear to have observed this form of words, but to have baptized in the name ofjesns only. (Acts ii. 38. viii. 16.) Yet we have perhaps a proof to the contrary in 1 Cor. vi. 11. where all the three Persons ia the Trinity are mentioned. ,
and whatsoever ye loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.' And that this is the full meaning of the promise given in Matt. xvi. 19. xviii. 18. and of the power actually conferred in John xx. 23. is the conclusion which I have been endeavouring to establish. I conceive, that the apostles loosed sinners, or remitted their sins, when upon their professing their belief in Christ, they admitted them to the sacrament of baptism: and so they hound them, or rather left them bound, and declared their sins to be retained, when they refused to believe in Christ.
"If this interpretation be correct, the absolving power of the church, in the usual sense of the expression, finds no support from Matt. xvi. 19. xviii. 18. or John xx. 23. and the successors of the apostles ran never give actual and immediate remission of sins, except when they first admit a man into the covenant, and baptize him upon his professing faith and repentance. If snch a man again commit sin, the minister of Christ cannot again say to him, all thy past sins (including the sins committed since baptism) are forgiven thee;—he cannot even say this, though the sinner again profess to believe in Christ, and to repent. The minister may indeed and ought to remind htm of the pardon, which he once received; that all his sins, whether actual or imputed, were once blotted out: and be ought also to remind him, that his sins subsequently committed may likewise be blotted out, if he will repent and leave them off. But this forgiveness of Bins committed after admission into the covenant will never be declared, till the judgment of the last day. The priest may exhort and encourage the sinner to look for it: but he can never say with his own authority, at this very moment all thy sins are forgiven thee. If he could, the same man may be absolved several times in the course of his life : there is no reason, why he may not be absolved every day. There is no doubt, that be may require absolution every day by committing fresh sins: and as he may also believe and repent every day, the priest might give him absolution every time tbathe professed this faith and repentance *. "But this conclusion is too absurd to
* The eleventh Canon of the third Council of Toledo complains, that in certain churches of Spain, men do not follow the Canons, but unworthily repent them of their sins, and as often as they please to sin, so often they desire the priest to absolve them.
be entertained. It could never have been the intention of our Saviour to give such an unavailing power of absolution as this, when be so solemnly ordained his apostles to remit sins. This alternation of guilt and parity, of condemnation and absolution, can never be the effect of that power, which the Holy Ghost conveys to the miBistere of Christ. It is surely therefore more reasonable to say, that the same person receives a positive and valid remission of sins from the minister of Christ only once, that is, when he is first admitted into the covenant by baptism. It is then that be is loosed from his inability to please God, and that the sin of his first parents, and bis own personal sins, are remitted to him. Bishop Taylor is express in asserting thi-) doctrine: 'then (at Baptism) the power of the keys is exercised, and the gates of the kingdom are opened: then we enter into the covenant of mercy and pardon, and promise faith and perpetual obedience to the laws of Jesus, and upon that couditioo forgiveness is promised and exhibited, offered and consigned, but never after *.'" P. 2?.
We shall proceed as speedily as possible to examine the contents of the three latter paragraphs. But, in the first instance, we must again return our thanks to Mr. Burton for his exposition of the doctrines of the Christian Covenant, Justification by Faiib, and Infant Baptism. His observations on each of these subjects are sound and perspicuous: and if there be no striking novelty in the author's views or expressions, still less is there any statement which our Church, or its more esteemed members, would disown.
We cannot make the same remark upon his theory respecting the power of the keys. The strict limitation which he has placed upon that power is new, and therefore, of course, suspicious. It is not authorized; on the contrary, it is most unequivocally renounced by the Scriptures, to which he appeals in its support. His inquiries into the practice of the primitive Church npon the subject are meagre, superficial, and unsatisfactory. His no
* Doctrine and Practice of Repentance, c ix. sect. 3. vol. ix. p. 184.
tions are irrecoucileable with the formularies of the Church of England; and, what is last and worst, they make so formidable an inroad upon the doctrine of forgiveness of sins, that few persons who agree with Mr. Burton ought to be, or can be, at peace. These are serious accusations; but, believing that we can substantiate every one of them, it is our duty to speak out. The difficulty of the subject is unquestionable; and that difficulty may be pleaded and admitted as an excuse for declining it altogether, or discussing it with hesitation and fear. But when at) author undertakes to explain the hard places of Holy Writ he exposes himself to the censure of those by whom his error is perceived, even if they are not prepared to substitute interpretations of their own. Without presuming, therefore, to define the precise sense iu which the power of the keys is to be understood, we shall animadvert freely upon Mr. Burton's limitation of it, and endeavour to show that such limitation is entirely of his own making.
The first point to which we request attention is the interpretation put by Mr. Burton on Matt, xviii. 18. He considers it a promise of the power which was conferred in John xx. 23. and restricts them both to baptism. It is true, he does admit (p. 70.) that
"Our Saviour himself Menu to interpret the words binding and loosing with reference to the censures of the Church, when he says, in Matt, xviii. 18.' Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in Iteaven.' &c. In the preceding verse he gives a power to the Church of arbitrating in private disputes, and of expressing her displeasure against the party which refused to abide by her decision: he was to be treated as ' an heathen man and a publican.' It may be disputed what degree of censure was intended by these words; but some sort of punishment, some exclusion from advantages enjoyed by the body at large, mnst certainly be implied by tbem: and, in the following verse, our Saviour seems to call this power of exclusion a power of binding and loosing."