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St. Matthew's Gospel. Our Lord here layš down several rules for the direction of the Church in the exercise of that authority with which it was to be armed; and declares,—“ Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.”—There can be no doubt but that the Church possesses an official, and an authoritative
pronouncing absolution from the penalty of sin ; and that God, for Jesus Christ's sake, will ratify, in the case of sincere penitents, the remission of the Church. The Church of England, derived by succession from the Apostles themselves, having, as they had, three orders of men in her ministry, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, claims for her Priests this
which she conveys to them, at the time of ordination, in the solemn manner which you have heard :
and, although this power has been abused, and converted into a means of extorting money, and an engine of abominable tyranny by the Church of Rome, yet those who know any thing of the principles of reasoning, know this,-namely, that no argument lies from the abuse of any thing against its proper, its legitimate, its authorized use.
The Church of Rome asserts, that to her alone the custody of the keys is confided, because the Popes are the successors of St. Peter, to whom our Lord gave the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and to whom he, moreover, said,—~ Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt lopse on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.” In the first place, it is notorious that St. Peter never was Bishop of Rome; consequently could have no metropolitical authority; he was not Bishop of Jerusalem, the proper Parent Church of all others; St. James was first Bishop of that See, to whom St. Peter himself was, for a time, subordinate :Peter was Bishop of Antioch, indeed, and he suffered martyrdom at Rome; but it never has been proved that he was Bishop of Rome. However, supposing he had been in possession of the chair of that bishoprick; this could not have given an exclusive right of pronouncing absolution to the Priests of the Roman Church alone; because St. Peter, although honoured by the peculiar notice of our Lord, had no power vested solely in himself of this kind; that which he enjoyed, was in common with the other apostles ; for, notwithstand; ing he himself was first possessed of it, as we read in the sixteenth chapter of St. Matthew, yet, in the eighteenth chapter of the same Evangelist, the self-same
authority, right, and power, was communicated to them all ; and, in them, to the whole Church, with which Christ said he should be as its head; that is, as its ruler and guide; as the source of all its power ; as its great High Priest and intercessor, unto the end of the world. So long as the Church continues to send forth a succession of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, ordained rightly, and after the form, manner, and model of the primitive Church; so long as the Church of England continues part and parcel of the universal Church, not deviating into heresy, nor falling off into schism; not admitting of lay-ordination; not professing to receive powers from them who have no powers to give, I mean from Deacons and from Priests alone;-so long the Church possesses, and will continue to possess, authority by the ministration of its Priests,
its Bishops, and Archbishops, (who are Priests also) to pronounce absolution and remission of sins to all sincere penitents.
I know there are some who would explain away this authority. But who are they? They who have lost succession from the apostles; they who take upon them to preach without having been sent; they who have altered the apostolical form of the Church, according to their own fancy; they who first leave the Church, then rail at it ; and then think that the best mark of excellence in their religious tenets and discipline, is, to be as unlike those of the Church as possible. Now, the Church, having ever set before it, and always anxiously studying and scrupulously following, primitive doctrines and primitive usages, -as far as those self-willed and self-conceited men have left the
prescribed opinions and established forms of