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his neighbour's wife.
Jer.v. 7, 8. Jer. xxiii.
10, 14. & al. freq.
See Ezek. xxii. 9,
10, 11. Hosea iv. 14.
Shall I not vifit for
thefe things, faith the
LORD, fhall not my
foul be avenged of fuch
a nation as this?
Jer. v. 9.

not the least of which, is forfaking the LAW which He hath fet before us, with refpect to the commerce of the fexes, and following a fyftem which, in the nature of things, must lead us into the very state in which the Jews were, when the prophets were fent to call them

to repentance, or to foretell their deftruction.


See P. 262, Note.


T may not be amifs to lay before the reader the doctrine of penance and commutation as to their original, and then it will be seen how difgraceful fuch notions are to an enlightened Proteftant church. Theodore of Tarfus, a Grecian monk, restored among the Latins the difcipline of penance, as it is commonly termed, which had been for a long VOL. II. T time

time almost totally neglected, and enforced it by a body of fevere laws borrowed from the Grecian canons. This zealous prelate, who was raised to the fee of Canterbury, A. D. 668, reduced to a regular science that branch of ecclefiaftical law, which is known by the name of penitential difcipline. He published a Penitential, which was entirely new to the Latin world, by which the clergy were taught to distinguish fins into various claffes, according as they were more or less heinous, private or public. This new Penitential alfo contained the methods of proceeding with refpect to offenders, and pointed out the various penalties that were suitable to the different claffes of tranfgreffions. This new discipline, though of Grecian origin, was eagerly adopted by the Latin churches. Its duration however was but tranfitory, for in the eighth century it began to decline, and was at length entirely fupplanted by, what was called, the new canon of indulgences, in which the bishops and clergy began to trade in the twelfth century, when the univerfal reign of ignorance and fuperftition was dexterously, but bafely, improved to fill their coffers, and to drain the purses of the deluded multitude. All the various ranks and orders of the clergy had each their peculiar method of fleecing the people.

The bishops, when they wanted money for their private pleasures, or for the exigencies of the church, granted to their flock the power of purchafing the remiffion of the pe


nalties impofed upon tranfgreffors, by a fum of money; which was to be applied to certain religious purposes; or, in other words, they published indulgences: which became an inexhauftible fource of wealth to the Epifcopal orders, and enabled them, as is well known, -to form and execute the most difficult schemes for the enlargement of their authority, and of -the external pomp and splendor of the church.

When the Roman Pontiffs caft an eye on the immenfe treasures, which the fale of thefe indulgences brought in to the inferior rulers of the church, they limited the power of bishops in remitting the penalties impofed on tranfgreffors, and affumed, almost entirely, this profitable traffic to themselves. In confequence of which, Rome became the general magazine of indulgences; and the Pontiff's in order to fupply their coffers, published, not only an univerfal, but also a complete, or, what they called a plenary remiflion of all the temporal pains and penalties which the church had annexed to certain transgreffions.

Afterwards they proceeded farther, and not only remitted penalties which the civil and ecclefiaftical laws had enacted against tranfgreffors, but audaciously ufurped the divine prerogative, and impioufly pretended to abolish even the punishments of the next world; a step this, which the bishops, with all their pride and prefumption, had never once ventured to take.

Such proceedings ftood in need of a plaufible

T 2


fible defence, but this was impoffible. To justify, therefore, these fcandalous measures of the Pontiffs, a most monftrous and abfurd doctrine was invented" that there actually "exifted an immenfe treasure of merit, com"pofed of the pious deeds and virtuous ac"tions which the Saints had performed beyond what was necessary for their own falvation, and which were therefore appli"cable to the benefit of others-that the guardian and difpofer of this precious trea"fure was the Pope, and therefore he was empowered to align to fuch as he thought proper, a portion of this inexhaustible "fource of merit, fuitable to their respective guilt, and fufficient to deliver them from "the punishment * due to their crimes." This horrible fuperftition is retained and defended in the church of Rome to this day! it was happily banished from England at the reformation; pity but the former fort of indulgences had followed it out of our church! but they are still retained, under the more plaufible, but more explicit term of commutation, which fignifies changing one thing for another, as the punishment of fin for money. Though therefore indulgences and commuta



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* Bellarmine fays of these indulgences, that they extend as well to the high forum, or tribunal of our Saviour CHRIST, as to the internal forum, or court of holy church; that they even profit the dead, and avail them by way of fatisfaction or application. See Abf. of Hift. of Popery, vol. i. p. 173. quarto, 1735. and Bellarm. de Indulg. Lib. i. c. v. p. 28, 31.

tions differ in name, they entirely agree in their nature. Their being given, or pretended to be given, to pious uses, no more falves the offence of taking * fuch money, than a certain lady's giving, or pretending to give, her winnings to the poor, atoned for her playing at cards on a Sunday.

Whatsoever these things may be called, they are certainly judicial abfolutions, and fuch as never were heard of in the Christian church till Popery introduced them. See Mofheim, vol. i. 327, 595. edit. Maclaine.

That there were cenfures on offenders against religion and good manners in the apoftolical times-fuch as private admonition, 2 Theff. iii. 15.—public rebuke, and even of a fharp kind, Tit. i. 13.-rejection for obstinate herefy, Tit. iii. 1o.-and even excommunication itself for grievous and fcandalous. offences, (1 Cor. v. 1-5.) is most evident; but I should imagine, that if à fum of money had been offered to buy off the cenfures

*To make laws for the punishment of offences, and then to waive or fufpend their execution, for a fum of money paid by the offender, and especially where fuch laws are made on no better principle than with a view to fuch extortion-which I take to have been chiefly the cafe with respect to the laws of penance may bring to one's mind Virgil's account of one of the tormented in Tartarus; concerning whom he faith-Æn. vi. 1. 622.

-Hic fixit leges pretio atque refixit.
He made, and unmade, laws for gold.

Which fufficiently fhews even an heathen's fentiments of fuch a practice.

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