Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

with the persons concerned in it. Thus it is said Matt. xxm. that the Scribes, by prescribing many unprofitable4' observances, did bind heavy burdens on the people. Again likewise,

2. To interpret the sense of a law or doctrine is a kind of ligation or solution. It binds, by declaring what is commanded or prohibited, and consequently to what men are obliged; it looses, by shewing what is permitted or remains indifferent,

so leaving men to their freedom. Quam vero clavem in Marc. habebant legis doctores, nisi interpretationem legis? 2j'. saith Tertullian. To bind and loose thus, doth plainly belong to the pastors of the church, they by office being the interpreters and teachers of God's law.

3. The exercise of any jurisdiction doth astringe the offender to punishment or satisfaction, or doth absolve him from them; it consequently may be called ligation or solution respectively.

4. The bringing persons under any contract is a tying them to performance thereof. Thus do the pastors of the church bind those whom they receive into the church at baptism, upon undertaking the conditions of Christianity; and those whom after exclusion from Christian communion they absolve, upon engagement to lead a better life.

5. The detention of a person in any state, or under any power, is called ligation; and a deliverance out of such a state or power, solution. So he that (by withholding means or assurance of pardon) is detained under the guilt of sin, is thereby bound; but he that hath the means and overtures of pardon conferred on him is loosed; and thus do the pastors of the church bind and loose, by retaining and remitting

sin; the doing which is an instance of this power, Johuxx.23.eXpressly granted by our Lord; Whose soever sins, saith he, ye remit, they are remitted to them; whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

Now they may be understood to remit or retain sins divers ways.

1. They do remit sins dispositive, by working in persons fit dispositions, upon which remission of sins, by God's promise, is consequent; the dispositions of faith and repentance.

2. They remit (or retain sins) declarative, as the ambassadors of God, in his name pronouncing the word of reconciliation to the penitent, and denouncing wrath to the obstinate in sin.

3. They remit sins imperative, obtaining pardon for sinners by their prayers, according to that of St.

J«me»T.14,James; Is any man sick among you? let him call the elders of the church; and let them pray over him: and, The prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and f he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

4. They remit sins dispensative, by consigning pardon in administration of the sacraments, especially in conferring baptism, whereby, duly administered and undertaken, all sins are washed away; and in the absolving of penitents, wherein grace is exhibited and ratified by imposition of hands, the which St. Paul calls yapi^eaBcu, to bestow grace or favour upon the penitent.

By considering all these things we may competently understand wherein this power of the keys doth consist. We might further illustrate it by observing the exercise thereof by the apostles, and in the primitive church; by viewing the practice of a like power under the law, which might perhaps be the rise and pattern hereof; by considering the necessity and usefulness of such a power: but I cannot insist on those particulars, but proceed to the next article.

[ocr errors]

1 HE doctrine of the immortality of the soul (whereby men are capable of rewards or punishments, according to their doings in this life) hath, in all religions, been deemed a necessary principle, and for such (as Cicero and Seneca expressly tell us) hath been embraced by all nations; having indeed, probably from original tradition, been conveyed over all the worid. The same also divers philosophers (Socrates especially, and his followers) did by natural reason strive to evince true. But tradition being too slippery, and reason too feeble thoroughly to persuade it, Christianity, by a clear and full proof, (of miraculous works and sensible experiments,) doth assure us of it; the certainty thereof we owe to his 2Tim.i. instruction, who brought life and immortality to light by the gospel. It plainly shews, that when we die, we do not (like brute beasts, or other natural bodies, when they appear dissolved) wholly perish; that our souls do not vanish into nothing, nor are resolved into invisible principles; but do return into God's hand, or into the place by him appointed for them, there continuing in that life which is proper to a soul. Neither only thus much doth it teach us concerning our state after this life, but it further informs us, that our bodies themselves shall be raised again out of their dust and corruption, that our souls shall be reunited to them, and that our persons shall be restored into their perfect integrity of nature;

[ocr errors]

the bringing of which effects to pass, by divine power, is commonly called, the resurrection of the dead, or, from the dead, (ik vacpSiv,) and simply the resurrection; as also, being raised, being reduced from the dead: sometimes also it is called, the regeneration, (or iterated nativity,) and being born from the dead; which terms imply a respect to the body, and to the person of a man, as constituted of body and soul: for the mere permanency of our souls in being and life could not (with any propriety or truth) be called a resurrection: that which never had fallen could not be said to be raised again; that which did never die could not be restored from death; nor could men be said to rise again, but in respect to that part which had fallen, or that state which had ceased to be. And as to be born at first doth signify the production and union of the parts essential to a man; so to be born again implies the restitution and reunion of the same; a man thereby becoming entirely the same person that he was before. The same is also signified in terms more formal and directly expressive; the quickening of the dead,; the vivification of our mortal bodies; the redemption of our body; the corruptible (to <f>8apToy T&t/To, this very same corruptible body) putting on incorruption, and this mortal putting on immortality; those who are in the graves hearing Christ's voice, and proceeding forth to resurrection, either of life or judgment; the awaking of them which sleep in the dust of the earth; the sea, the death, the hell, (or universal grave,) resigning their dead; which expressions and the like occurring, do clearly and fully prove the reparation of our bodies, and their reunion to our souls, and our persons be

« AnteriorContinuar »