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p. 64It is clear at a glance, that there is no allusion in either of these passages to general or habitual confession; and that the case contemplated is that of a person troubled by some particular sin weighing on the conscience, and keeping the soul from peace. It is just in such a case that the ministry of the word is required for the help of the individual; and that something more is wanted than the general preaching of the truth. Such a person requires the Gospel to be applied to his own particular anxiety, in order that he may be assured of God鈥檚 forgiveness of that particular sin which keeps his soul in trouble. It is this assurance which is called in the Prayer-book 鈥渁bsolution.鈥 There is a vast difference between a judicial act of forgiveness, and a declaration or assurance of the forgiveness by God. Thus, to 鈥渁bsolve鈥 is not to 鈥渇orgive,鈥 but to assure the troubled heart of the full forgiveness, freely granted, by the Lord Himself. [64] Nothing can be clearer than this distinction in the absolution in the service for the Visitation of the Sick. 鈥淥ur Lord Jesus Christ, who hath left power to His Church to absolve all sinners who truly p. 65repent and believe in Him, of His great mercy forgive thee thine offences: and by His authority, committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.鈥.
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Now, such a doctrine seems to me so utterly contrary to all that we are taught in the Scriptures respecting the perfection and consequent oneness of the one offering of our Blessed Lord upon the Cross, that I am utterly unable to comprehend how any person who takes the Scriptures as their authority can, by any process of mind, be brought to believe it. As I have already said, these chapters seem to have been written with a prophetic reference to it; and I do not hesitate to express my firm and fixed conviction, that if we mean to abide by God鈥檚 word as our guide, we must protest against the whole movement. Nor must we allow ourselves to be led away by the religious feelings of pious and earnest men; or permit the holy reverence with which, as believing communicants, p. 30we regard the holy communion of the body and blood of Christ, to induce us to think lightly of a deadly error, even though men make use of it in order, apparently, to exalt the peculiar sanctity of the sacrament. We must stand firm to the great principle of Scripture; the principle for which our martyred Reformers did not hesitate to shed their life-blood, that the bread is bread, and the wine wine, after consecration, just as they were before it; that neither the one nor the other is changed into the Lord Jesus Christ; that the Lord Jesus Christ is not sacrificed in the sacrament; and that there never can be, so long as the world lasts, any further sacrifice for sin. When the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross, to use the language of our Church, He 鈥渕ade there (by His one oblation of Himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world:鈥 and, unless we are prepared to deny the sufficiency of the one complete atonement, we must set our face with a holy determination against all ideas of repetition, or perpetuation, of any propitiatory sacrifice for sin.!
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One thing is perfectly clear, that these sacrifices are not a supplement to the one great sacrifice for sin. They are not intended to supply any deficiency in the great work of our Blessed Lord. There is no deficiency there; and if there were, nothing that we could do would supply it. There is no deficiency, for by the 鈥渙ne offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.鈥 And if there were deficiency, how could man supply it? Is there not something dreadful in the thought of a patchwork atonement, partly by the Son of God and partly by man; partly perfect, and partly imperfect; partly pure in all the infinite purity of God, and partly defiled with all the defilements of a fallen and sinful manhood? No! the propitiation is perfect, unmixed, and undefiled for ever. It is the sacrifice of the Son of God, and it stands alone for all eternity..
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But our Lord鈥檚 words may have been addressed to the whole company; and if so, the laity, and even the women, had as great a share in them as any others. Now, no one supposes that every Christian has the power of forgiving sin; and the only way of understanding our Lord鈥檚 language is to regard His words as conveying to His Church the power of Christian discipline. It is clear that such a power is essential to the well-being of the body; for the Church would cease to be a Church if its most sacred privileges were open indiscriminately to all kinds of characters. There must be the right of excluding the wicked, of admitting converts, p. 61of excommunicating those who disgrace their profession, and of restoring such persons when the Church is satisfied respecting their repentance. But this authority, if it is not given here, is given nowhere. When our Lord said, as we read in Matt. xviii. 18, 鈥淲hatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven;鈥 He gave His disciples the power of regulating Church order; and it is reasonable to suppose that in these words He gives a similar authority with reference to persons, for in the one passage it says 鈥渨hatsoever,鈥 and in the other 鈥渨homsoever.鈥
21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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