Page images
PDF
EPUB

absurd to look to them for a borrowed satisfaction for those punishments which we deserve from the justice of God. They had no superabundant merits, because no man ever yet hath perfectly satisfied the Divine law. “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord,” said the Psalmist (cxliii. 2), “for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.” Again (Ps. cxxx. 3), “ If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ?" And Bernard, in his comment on Ps. xci. 14, observes with equal nobleness of sentiment and piety of heart, “ The sum total of man's merit is this, to fix all his hopes on Him by whom salvation is complete” (tom. 1). To this you may add, that the merits of even a holy man are in no way equal to the purchase of eternal happiness; and therefore, most foolishly do the Papists look for a superabundance in those in whom it is impossible to find an equivalent. Nor, indeed, did any of the godly at any time suffer punishment more extensive than their sins. For God always inflicts punishment short of what the schoolmen call condignity ; because infinite punishment is due, as the Papists themselves admit, for a single mortal sin, even of the least degree. The second opinion, therefore, of the Papists, which ascribes penal sufferings to the saints, severer than the demerits of their own sins, falls to the ground.

3. The merits and sufferings of the saints cannot be commu. nicated to others in such a manner, either by imputation or application of them, as to free them from the punishment of their offences : in vain, therefore, do the Papists attempt to establish a treasure upon these grounds. And this we prove

(1.) Because, by the general consent of theologians, no man's merits, save those of Christ alone, extend beyond the man himself. To this the Papists readily answer, that the works of the saints, as to their merits, do not extend beyond the individual himself, nor are transferable to other men ; but that in respect of their satisfactory virtue, they may be both imputed and imparted to others. But we shall easily get rid of this distinction. For whatever has been already most highly rewarded in the saints themselves, cannot still remain to be rewarded, or in any way to be imputed to others for their remission; but both the sufferings and all the good works of the saints, as well meritori. ous as satisfactory, are most abundantly rewarded by that single gift of bliss eternal. For these works are (as they maintain)

VOL. IX.

meritorious as far as they originate in love; and satisfactory as far as they have penalty attached to them. But whether we consider love, or penalty, or anything else as the condition of works, that single prize suffices for a most ample remuneration; nay, further, “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed” (Rom. viii. 18).

(2.) Secondly, No man can make satisfaction for another in respect of an injury done to a third person, unless by permission of the person to whom the injury is done. Wherefore Aquinas, in commenting upon those words in Rom. iii. “Ye are justified through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God has set forth as a propitiation," has thus expressed himself; “According to this, the satisfaction made by Christ was effectual both for justification and redemption; because God had ordained him to this according to his purpose.” But God never ordained, according to his purpose, that any of the saints should make satisfaction for us ; therefore no satisfaction of theirs delivers us from punishment. “No man can deliver his brother” (Ps. xlix. 8). “ Was Paul crucified for you ?” (1 Cor. i. 13). “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous ; and he is the propitiation for our sins ” (1 John ii. 1, 2), viz. he himself alone, and no other than he. Leo, writing on the sufferings of the martyrs, and all the saints, well observes, “They have received crowns, they have not bestowed them; and their fortitude has afforded example of patience, not rewards of righteousness."

(3.) Lastly, the intention of the person making satisfaction is required, where the sufficiency or satisfaction of one is to be applied to the remission of another : but it can never be shown, that either Peter, or Paul, or any other saint suffered with the intention of our receiving remission of our sins (as to punishment) by their sufferings. Therefore the third proposition, which supposes a store of satisfactions of the saints transferable to us, falls to the ground.

4. If there were a store of merits and sufferings in the Church (which, as to the merits and sufferings of Christ, is most true, for in Christ there are all treasures), yet it is no privilege of the Pope to distribute and dispense this treasure, by his bulls, to individuals expressly named : and that for the following reasons :

(1.) The blood, and the passion of Christ, and the store of his merits, is applied to particular persons by the sole operation of the Holy Spirit producing faith, and by the internal operation of faith laying hold on Christ; but no papal bulls produce faith, nor stir up a man to apprehend its object; therefore they apply neither the blood nor the merits of Christ to men, nor are of any service in the remission of sins. The Pope, then, can do no more for the remission of sins than any other priest; but what is the duty of ministers Paul teaches in 2 Cor. v. 19, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, and hath commit. ted unto us the word of reconciliation." He did not grant the power of remitting the punishment of men by bulls, even to the Apostles themselves; but he commanded them, by the word and preaching the Gospel, to encourage men to seek for reconci. liation and remission in Christ. Indulgences can be of no use to unbelievers, and to believers they are unnecessary ; because their faith applies the merits and sufferings of Christ to their souls.

(2.) The dispensing of Christ's blood, and the actual application of his saving merits to a particular person, is entrusted to no man who does not know the person to whom those spiritual benefits are to be imparted; but neither the Pope, nor indeed any other mortal, knows this; for God alone knows who are his : therefore God alone bestows indulgences by the application and acceptance of the sufferings of Christ.

(3.) Real repentance and true contrition of heart, in conjunction with true faith, is more effectual with God in obtaining perfect remission, than any papal indulgence can be; for God himself is far more bountiful than any Roman Pontiff: but if we believe the Papists themselves, neither the ordinary penitence of the faithful can obtain, nor is the benevolence of God wont to grant, any other forgiveness than from guilt only: it is not, therefore, very likely, that the Pope by virtue of his indulgences should be able to absolve a man forthwith from the penalty.

(4.) Whatever a limited agent does, if he exceeds the bounds of his commission, goes for nothing: but the Pope, in pretending to remit by his bulls those temporal punishments which Divine justice requires them to endure, exceeds the bounds of his commission; for God never delegated such authority to him. Punishments of his own imposing for discipline’s sake, he may

relax; but those which the divine justice has determined to exact, he cannot.

(5.) The Pope cannot de facto absolve any man from those penal chastisements which God is pleased not uncommonly to inflict, after true repentance; again, therefore, he boasts falsely of his power by bulls to free men from the temporal punishment of their sins. For when God has determined to chasten any man by disease of body, death of children, or loss of property, no plenary indulgence of the Pope can deliver him at all from these temporal afflictions.

(6.) The remission of sins is fully set forth in Holy Scripture; but this remission by means of indulgences is (as the Papists confess) authorized neither by the Scriptures or the ancient Fathers, but has been brought into repute merely by the act of the Roman Pontiffs.

[graphic]

CHAPTER I. 14.

REDEMPTION.

THE Blood of Christ is the Scripture phrase for the sufferings and death of the Son of God. Life through death-joy through sorrow-a crown by the way of a cross—is the distinctive feature of the gospel.

Why were such sufferings necessary ? why such sorrow? what was the great object which God contemplated and achieved by them ? what is their true nature ? what better are we now, and what benefit shall we obtain for ever? The answer is, “Redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

Let us show, first of all, that the sufferings of Jesus were necessary, viewed in the light of God's holy law; secondly, viewed in connexion with conscience; and thirdly, in relation to sin ; and lastly, that the unprecedented and unparalleled dignity of the Saviour attaches to his sufferings, not only grandeur, but an

cacy that secures through them “forgiveness of sins.” It us view the sufferings of Jesus in relation to his

y law-a law which we read in the twentieth of Exodus. That law, given on Mount Sinai, Is the creature to love God with all his heart, nis strength; it does not command us (and here secret of our responsibility) to love God more than

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »