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remitting of sinsi. “ Theyk make request,” saith he ; "the Godhead bestoweth the gift: for the service is done by man, but the bounty is from the power above." The reason which he rendereth thereof is, because in their ministry it is the Holy Ghost that forgiveth the sin; and it is God only that can give the holy Ghost. " For this is not an human work,” saith he in another place, “neither is the Holy Ghost given by man ; but, being called upon by the priest, is bestowed by God: wherein the gift is God's, the ministry is the priest's. For if the apostle Paul did judge that he could not confer the Holy Ghost by his authority, but believed himself to be so far unable for this office, that he wished we might be filled with the Spirit from God: who is so great as dare arrogate unto himself the bestowing of this gift? Therefore the apostle did intimate his desire by prayer, he challenged no right by any authority: he wished to obtain it, he presumed not to command it." Thus far St. Ambrose ; of whom Paulinus writeth, that whensoever any penitents came unto him, “ them crimes which they confessed unto him, he spake of to none, but to God alone, unto whom he made intercession; leaving a good example to the priests of succeeding ages, that they be rather intercessors for them unto God, than accusers unto men,” The same also, and
i John, chap. 20. ver. 23.
* Isti rogant, Divinitas donat. Humanum enim obsequium, sed munificentia supernæ est potestatis. Ambros. de Spir. Sanct. lib. 3. cap. 18. op. tom. 2. pag. 694.
Non enim humanum hoc opus, neque ab homine datur: sed invocatus a sacerdote, a Deo traditur : in quo Dei munus, ministerium sacerdotis, est. Nam si Paulus apostolus judicavit, quod ipse donare Spiritum Sanctum sua authoritate non posset ; et in tantum se huic officio imparem credidit, ut a Deo nos Spiritu optaret impleri : quis tantus est, qui hujus traditionem muneris sibi audeat arrogare ? Itaque apostolus votum precatione detulit, non jus authoritate aliqua vindicavit : impetrare optavit, non imperare præsumpsit. Id. ibid. lib. 1. cap. 8. op. tom. 2. pag. 619.
m Causas autem criminum, quas illi confitebantur, nulli nisi Domino soli, apud quem intercedebat, loquebatur : bonum relinquens exemplum posteris sacerdotibus, ut intercessores apud Deum magis sint, quam accusatores apud homines. Paulinus, in vita S. Ambrosii.
in the self-same words, doth Jonas" write of Eustachius, the scholar of Columbanus our famous countryman.
Hitherto appertaineth that sentence cited by Thomas Waldeno out of St. Hierome's exposition upon the Psalms, that the voice of God “ cuttethP off daily in every one of us the flame of lust, by confession and the grace of the Holy Ghost, that is to say, by the prayer of the priest maketh it to cease in us;" and that which before hath been alleged out of Leo, of the confession offered first to God, and then to the priest, " who cometh as an entreater for the sins of the penitent;” which he more fully expresseth in another epistle, affirming it to be “very' profitable and necessary, that the guilt of sins (or sinners) be loosed by the supplication of the priest, before the last day.” See St. Gregory', in his moral exposition upon 1 Samuel, chapter 2. verse 25. Anastasius Sinaita or Nicænus, in his answer to the one hundred and forty-first question (of Gretser's edition); and Nicolaus Cabasilas, in the twentyninth chapter of his exposition of the liturgy: where he directly affirmeth, “ that remission of sins is given to the penitents by the prayer of the priests.” And therefore, by the order used of old in the Church of Rome, the priest, before he began his work, was required to use this prayer, “O' Lord God almighty, be merciful unto me a sinner, that I may worthily give thanks unto thee, who hast made me an unworthy one, for thy mercy's sake, a minister of the priestly office; and hast appointed me a poor and humble mediator, to pray and make intercession unto our Lord Jesus Christ, for sinners that return unto repentance. And therefore, O Lord the ruler, who wouldest have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; who dost not desire the death of a sinner, but that he may be reconciled and live; receive my prayer, which I pour forth before the face of thy mercy, for thy servants and handmaids, who have fled to repentance, and to thy mercy." Add hereunto the prayer of Damascene, which is still used in the Greek Church before the receiving of the communion. “O' Lord Jesus Christ, our God, who alone hast power to forgive sins, in thy goodness and loving kindness pass by all the offences of thy servant; whether done of knowledge or of ignorance, voluntary or involuntary, in deed, or word, or thought :" and that which is used after in the liturgy ascribed to St. James, wherewith the priest shutteth up the whole service ; "I" beseech thee, Lord God, hear my prayer in the behalf of thy servants, and as a forgetter of injuries pass over all their offences. Forgive them all their excess,
Jonas, in vita S. Eustachii Luxoviensis abbatis, cap. 1. apud Surium, tom. 2. Mart. 29.
o Tho. Waldens. tom. 2. de sacramentis, cap. 147.
P Quotidie in unoquoque nostrum flammam libidinis, per confessionem et gratiam Spiritus Sancti, intercidit, id est, per orationem sacerdotis facit cessare. Hieronym. in exposit. Psal. 28. op. tom. 2. app. pag. 190.
9 Qui pro delictis pænitentium precator accedit. Leo, in fin. epist. 80. ad episc. Campan.
? Multum enim utile ac necessarium est, ut peccatorum reatus ante ultimum diem sacerdotali supplicatione solvatur. Id. epist. 91. ad Theodor. episc.
* Gregor. in 1. Reg. lib. 2. cap. 3. ad illud: Si peccaverit vir in virum, &c. op. tom. 3. par. 2. pag. 84.
' Domine Deus omnipotens, propitius esto mihi peccatori, ut condigne possim tibi gratias agere ; qui me indignum propter tuam misericordiam ministrum fecisti sacerdotalis officii, et me exiguum humilemque mediatorem constituisti ad orandum et intercedendum ad Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, pro peccatoribus ad pænitentiam revertentibus. Ideoque dominator Domine, qui omnes homines vis salvos ficri, et ad agnitionem veritatis venire ; qui non vis
mortem peccatoris, sed ut convertatur et vivat ; suscipe orationem meam, quam fundo ante conspectum clementiæ tuæ, pro famulis et famulabus tuis, qui ad pænitentiam et misericordiam tuam confugerunt. Ordo Roman. antiqu. de officiis divinis, pag. 18. edit. Rom. ann. 1591. Baptizatorum et confitentium ceremoniæ antiquæ, edit. Colon. ann. 1530. Alcuin, de divin. offic. cap. 13. in capite Jejunii.
Η Δέσποτα κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ, ο θεός ημών, ο μόνος έχων εξουσίαν αφιέναι αμαρτίας, ως αγαθώς και φιλάνθρωπος, πάριδε πάντα τα εν γνώσει και αγνοία πλημμελήματα, τα εκούσια και τα ακούσια, τα έν έργο και λόγω και κατά διάνοιαν. Eucholog. Græc. fol. 217.
* Ναι δέσποτα Κύριε, εισάκουσον της δεήσεώς μου υπέρ των δούλων σου, και πάριδε ώς αμνησίκακος τα έπταισμένα αυτών άπαντα συγχώρησον αυτοίς πάν πλημμέλημα εκούσιόν τε και ακούσιον: απαλλαξον αυ τους της αιωνίου κολάσεως. σύ γάρ ει ο εντειλάμενος ημίν λέγων, ότι, όσα αν δήσητε επί της γης, έσται δεδεμένα εν τοις ουρανούς και όσα αν λύσητε επί της γης, έστειλελυμένα εν τοίς ουρανοίς· ότι συ ει ο θεός ημών, θεός του ελεειν και σώζειν και αφιέναι αμαρτίας δυνάμενος και πρέπει σοι ή δόξα συν τω ανάρχη πατρί, και τη ζωοποιό πνεύματι, νυν και αεί και εις τους αιώνας των αιώνων. Αμήν. Liturg. Jacoli, in fine.
both voluntary and involuntary : deliver them from everlasting punishment. For thou art he who didst command us, saying; Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven; forasmuch as thou art our God, a God who art able to shew mercy, and save, and forgive sins: and glory becometh thee, together with the Father who is without beginning, and the Spirit the author of life, now and ever, and world without end. Amen."
Yea, in the days of Thomas Aquinas there arose a learned man among the papists themselves, who found fault with that indicative form of absolution then used by the priest, “ I absolve thee from all thy sins,” and would have it delivered by way of deprecation: alleging, that this was not only the opinion of Guilielmus Altisiodorensis, Guilielmus Parisiensis, and Hugo Cardinalis; but also that thirty years were scarce passed, since all did use this form only, “ Absolutionem et remissionem tribuat tibi omnipotens Deus; Almighty God give unto thee absolution and forgiveness." What Thomas doth answer hereunto, may be seen in his little treatise of the form of absolution, which upon this occasion he wrote unto the general of his order. This only will I add, that, as well in the ancient rituals and in the new pontificals of the Church of Rome, as in the present practice of the Greek Church, I find the absolution expressed in the third person, as attributed wholly to God; and not in the first, as if it came from the priest himself. One ancient form of absolution used among the Latins, was this:“ Almighty God be merciful unto thee, and forgive thee all thy sins, past, present, and to come, visible and invisible, which thou hast committed before him and his saints, which thou hast confessed, or by some negligence or forgetfulness or evil will hast concealed: God deliver thee from all evil, here and hereafter, preserve and confirm thee always in every good work; and Christ, the son of the living God, bring thee unto the life which remaineth without end." And so among the Grecians: “ Whatsoevera sins the penitent for forgetfulness or shamefacedness doth leave unconfessed, we pray the merciful and most pitiful God, that those also may be pardoned unto him ; and we are persuaded that he shall receive pardon of them from God:" saith Jeremy the late patriarch of Constantinople. Where by the way you may observe no such necessity to be here held, of confessing every known sin unto a priest, that if either for shame, or for some other respect, the penitent do not make an entire confession, but conceal somewhat from the notice of his ghostly father, his confession should thereby be made void, and he excluded from all hope of forgiveness: which is that engine, whereby the priests of Rome have lift up themselves into that height of domineering and tyrannizing over men's consciences, wherewith we see they now hold the poor people in most miserable awe.
* Addit etiam objiciendo, quod vix 30. anni sunt, quod omnes hac sola forma utebantur ; Absolutionem et remissionem, &c. Thom. opusc. 22. cap. 5.
y Pontificale Roman. edit. Rom. ann. 1595. pag. 567, 569.
? Absolutio criminum. Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimittat tibi omnia peccata tua, præterita, præsentia et futura, quæ commisisti coram eo et sanctis ejus, quæ confessus es, vel per aliquam negligentiam, seu oblivionem vel malevolentian abscondisti : liberet te Deus ab omni malo, hic et in futuro, conservet et confirmet te semper in omni opere bono: et perducat te Christus filius Dei vivi ad vitam sine fine manentem. Confitentium ceremoniæ antiqu. edit. Colon. ann. 1530.
Alexander of Hales and Bonaventure, in the form of absolution used in their time, observe that “ prayer was premised in the optative, and absolution adjoined afterward in the indicative mood ;" whence they gather, that the
priest's prayer obtaineth grace, his absolution presupposeth it:" that by the former he ascendeth unto God,
και όσα δε διά λήθην η αιδώ ανεξομολόγητα εάσειεν, ευχόμεθα το έλεήμονα και πανοικτίρμονι θες και ταύτα συγχωρηθήναι αυτό και πεπεισμεθα την ovyxópnou TOÚTWV x Otoñ luteolat. Jerem. patriarch. C. P. respons. 1. ad Tubingenses, cap. U.
b Secundum quod ascendit, habet se per modum inferioris et supplicantis : secundum quod descendit, per modum superioris et judicantis. Secundum primum modum potest gratiam impetrare, et ad hoc est idoneus : secundum secundum modum potest Ecclesiæ reconciliare. Et ideo in signum hujus, in forma absolutionis præmittitur oratio per modum deprecativum, et subjungitur absolutio per modum indicativum : et deprecatio gratiam impetrat ; et absolutio gratiam supponit. Alexand. Halens. summ. part. 4. quæst. 21. membr. 1. et Bonaventur. in. 4. sentent. dist. 18. art. 2. quæst. 1.