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bind at all (in this sense) till the crime was public, though the man had bound himself in secret; so neither can she set him free, till the repentance be as public as the sin, or so as she can note it and approve it. Though the man be free, as to God, by his internal act; yet, as the publication of the sin was accidental to it, and the church-censure consequent to it, so is the publication of repentance and consequent absolution extrinsical to the pardon, but accidentally and in the present circumstances necessary. This was the same, that the Jews did (though in other instances and expressions), and do to this day to their prevaricating people; and the Essenes in their assemblies, and private colleges of scholars, and public universities. For all these being assemblies of voluntary persons, and such as seek for advantage, are bound to make an artificial authority in their superiors, and so to secure order and government by their own obedience and voluntary subordination, which is not essential and of proper jurisdiction in the superior; and the band of it, is not any coercitive power, but the denying to communicate such benefits, which they seek in that communion and fellowship.
4. These, I say, were introduced in the special manners and instances by positive authority, and have not a Divine authority commanding them; but there is a Divine power, that verifies them, and makes these separations effectual and formidable for because they are declarative and ministerial in the spiritual man, and suppose a delinquency and demerit in the other, and a sin against God, our blessed Saviour hath declared, that "what they bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven;" that is, in plain signification, the same sins and sinners, which the clergy condemn in the face of their assemblies, the same are condemned in heaven before the face of God, and for the same reason too. God's law hath sentenced it, and these are the preachers and publishers of his law, by which they stand condemned; and these laws are they, that condemn the sin, or acquit the penitent, there and here; whatsoever they bind here, shall be bound there, that is, the sentence of God at the day of judgment shall sentence the same men', whom the church does rightly sentence
* Summum futuri judicii præjudicium est, si quis ità deliquerit ut à communicatione orationis et conventûs et omnis sancti commercii relegetar.-Tertul. Apol. cap. 39.
Atque hoc idem innuitur per summam Apostoli censuram in reos maximi cri
here. It is spoken in the future, it shall be bound in heaven; not but that the sinner is first bound there, or first absolved there; but because all binding and loosing in the interval is imperfect and relative to the day of judgment, the day of the great sentence, therefore it is set down in the time to come, and says this only, the clergy are tied by the word and laws of God to condemn such sins and sinners; and that you may not think it ineffective, because after such sentence the man lives, and grows rich, or remains in health and power, therefore be sure, it shall be verified in the day of judgment. This is hugely agreeable with the words of our Lord, and certain in reason: for that the minister does nothing to the final alteration of the state of the man's soul by way of sentence, is demonstratively certain, because he cannot bind a man, but such as hath bound himself, and who is bound in heaven by his sin before his sentence in the church: as also because the binding of the church is merely accidental, and upon publication only; and when the man repents, he is absolved before God, before the sentence of the church, upon his contrition and dereliction only; and if he were not, the church could not absolve him. The consequent of which evident truth is this, that whatsoever impositions the churchofficers impose upon the criminal, they are to avoid scandal, to testify repentance, and to exercise it, to instruct the people, to make them fear, to represent the act of God, and the secret and the true state of the sinner: and although they are not essentially necessary to our pardon, yet they are become necessary, when the church hath seized upon the sinner, by public notice of the crime; necessary (I say) for the removing the scandal, and giving testimony of our contrition, and for the receiving all that comfort, which he needs, and can derive from the promises of pardon as they are published by him, that is commanded to preach them to all them, that repent. And therefore although it cannot be necessary as to the obtaining pardon, that the priest should, in private, absolve a sick man from his private sins, and there is no loosing, where there was no precedent binding, and he,
minis: sit avádeμa magaváda, id est, excommunicatus majori Excommunicatione; Dominus veniet, scil. ad judicandum eum: ad quod judicium hæc censura Ecclesiæ est relativa et in ordine. Tum demum pœnas dabit: ad quas, nisi resipiscat, hic consignatur.
that was only bound before God, can, before him only, be loosed yet as to confess sins to any Christian in private may have many good ends, and to confess them to a clergyman may have many more; so to hear God's sentence at the mouth of the minister, pardon pronounced by God's ambassador, is of huge comfort to them, that cannot otherwise be comforted, and whose infirmity needs it; and therefore it were very fit, it were not neglected in the days of our fear and danger, of our infirmities and sorrow.
5. The execution of this ministry being an act of prudence and charity, and therefore relative to changing circumstances, it hath been, and in many cases may, and in some must be, rescinded and altered. The time of separation may be lengthened and shortened, the condition made lighter or heavier, and for the same offence the clergyman is deposed, but yet admitted to the communion, for which one of the people, who hath no office to lose, is denied the benefit of communicating; and this sometimes, when he might lawfully receive it and a private man is separate, when a multitude or a prince is not, cannot, ought not: and, at last, when the case of sickness and danger of death did occur, they admitted all men that desired it; sometimes without scruple or difficulty, sometimes with some little restraint in great or insolent cases (as in the case of apostacy, in which the council of Arles denied absolution", unless they received and gave public satisfaction by acts of repentance; and some other councils denied, at any time, to do it to such persons) according as seemed fitting to the present necessities of the church. All which particulars declare it to be no part of a Divine commandment, that any man should be denied to receive the communion, if he desires it, and if he be in any probable capacity of receiving it.
6. Since the separation was an act of liberty and a direct negative, it follows that the restitution was a mere doing that, which they refused formerly, and to give the holy communion was the formality of absolution, and all the instrument and the whole matter of reconcilement; the taking off the punishment is the pardoning of the sin: for this without the other is but a word; and if this be done, I care not, whether any thing he said or no. Vinum Dominicum ministratoris
u Arelat. cap. 3.
▾ Vide 2 Cor. ii. 10. et S. Cyprian. ep. 73.
gratia est, is also true in this sense; to give the chalice and cup is the grace and indulgence of the minister: and when that is done, the man hath obtained the peace of the church; and to do that is all the absolution, the church can give. And they were vain disputes, which were commenced, some few ages since, concerning the forms of absolution, whether they were indicative or optative, by way of declaration or by way of sentence: for, at first, they had no forms at all, but they said a prayer, and, after the manner of the Jews, laid hands upon the penitent, when they prayed over him, and so admitted him to the holy communion: for since the church had no power over her children, but of excommunicating and denying them to attend upon holy offices and ministries respectively, neither could they have any absolution, but to admit them thither, from whence formerly they were forbidden: whatsoever ceremony or forms did signify, this was superinduced and arbitrary, alterable and accidental; it had variety, but no necessity.
7. The practice, consequent to this, is, that if the penitent be bound by the positive censures of the church, he is to be reconciled upon those conditions, which the laws of the church tie him to, in case he can perform them: if he cannot, he can no longer be prejudiced by the censure of the church ", which had no relation but to the people, with whom the dying man is no longer to converse: for whatsoever relates to God, is to be transacted in spiritual ways, by contrition, and internal graces; and the mercy of the church is such, as to give him her peace and her blessing upon his undertaking to obey her injunctions, if he shall be able: which injunctions, if they be declared by public sentence, the minister hath nothing to do in the affairs, but to remind him of his obligation, and reconcile him, that is, give him the holy sacrament.
8. If the penitent be not bound by public sentence, the minister is to make his repentance as great, and his heart as contrite, as he can; to dispose him by the repetition of acts of grace in the way of prayer, and in real and exterior instances, where he can; and then to give him the holy communion in all the same cases, in which he ought not to have denied it to him in his health; that is, even in the beginnings
w Caus. 26. Q. 6. et q. 7.
of such a repentance, which, by human signs, he believes to be real and holy; and after this, the event must be left to God. The reason of the rule depends upon this; because there is no Divine commandment directly forbidding the rulers of the church to give the communion to any Christian that desires it, and professes repentance of his sins. And all church-discipline in every instance, and to every single person, was imposed upon him by men, who did it according to the necessities of this state and constitution of our affairs below: but we, who are but ministers and delegates of pardon and condemnation, must resign and give up our judgment, when the man is no more to be judged by the sentences of man, and by the proportions of this world, but of the other: to which if our reconciliation doe advantage, we ought in charity to send him forth with all the advantages he can receive; for he will need them all. And therefore the Nicene council commands, that no man be deprived of this necessary passport in the article of his death, and calls this the ancient and canonical law of the church; and to minister it, only supposes the man in the communion of the church, not always in the state, but ever in the possibilities of sanctification. They who in the article and danger of death, were admitted to the communion, and tied to penance if they recovered (which was ever the custom of the ancient church, unless in very few cases), were but in the threshold of repentance, in the commencement and first introductions to a devout life: and indeed then it is a fit ministry, that it be given in all the periods of time, in which the pardon of sins is working, since it is the sacrament of that great mystery, and the exhibition of that blood, which is shed for the remission of sins.
9. The minister of religion ought not to give the communion to a sick person, if he retains the affection to any sin, and refuses to disavow it, or profess repentance of all sins whatsoever, if he be required to do it. The reason is, because it is a certain death to him, and an increase of his
Can. 13. Vide etiam Con. Ancyr. cap. 6. Aurel. 2. cap. 12.
y O sacrum convivium in quo Christus sumitur, recolitur memoria Passionis ejus, mens impletur gratiâ, et futuræ gloriæ nobis pignus datur!
2 Ita vide, ut prosit, illis ignosci, quos ad poenam ipse Deus deduxit: quod ad me attinet, non sum crudelis, sed vereor, ne, quod remisero, patiar. Tryphæna dixit apud Petronium. 106. 3.