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those excellent examples, which the Spirit of God hath consigned to us in Holy Scripture. “ If Peter, after so great a fall, did arrive to such an eminence of sanctity, hereafter who shall despair, provided that he will depart from his sins m?” For that God is ready to forgive the greatest criminals if they repent, appears in the instances of Ahab and Manasses, of Mary Magdalen and St. Paul, of the thief on the cross and the deprehended adulteress, and of the Jews themselves, who, after they had crucified the Lord of life, were by messengers of his own invited, passionately invited to repent, and be purified with that blood, which they had sacrilegiously and impiously spilt. But, concerning this, who please may read St. Austin discoursing upon those words; ' Mittet crystallum suum sicut buccellas; which, saith he, mystically represent the readiness of God to break and make contrite even the hearts of them, that have been hardened in iinpiety. “Quo loco consistent pænitentiam agentes, ibi justi non poterunt stare," said the doctors of the Jews : “The just and innocent persons shall not be able to stand in the same place, where the penitent shall be"."-"Pacem, pacem remoto et propinquo, ait Dominus, ut sanem eum:" “ Peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord, that I may heal him.”—Præponit remotum ;' that is their observation; He that is afar off is set before the other; that is, he that is at great distance from God, as if God did use the greater earnestness to reduce him. Upon which place their gloss adds; “ Magna est virtus eorum qui pænitentiam agunt, ita ut nulla creatura in septo illorum consistere queat :" “ So great is the virtue of them that are true penitents, that no creature can stand within their enclosure.” And all this is far better expressed by those excellent words of our blessed Saviour; “There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety-nine just persons, that need no repentance.”
6. I have been the longer in establishing and declaring the proper foundation of this article, upon which every one can declaim, but every one cannot believe it in the day of temptation ; because I guess what an intolerable evil it is to despair of pardon, by having felt the trouble of some very m In solempi Petri et Pauli, ser. 3. r Gemara de Synedrio, c. 11.
• Luke, xv.7.
great fears. And this were the less necessary, but that it is too commonly true, that they who repent least are most confident of their pardon, or rather, least consider any reasons against their security : but when a man truly apprehends the vileness of his sin, he ought also to consider the state of his danger, which is wholly upon the stock of what is past; that is, his danger is this, that he knows not when, or whether, or upon what terms, God will pardon him in particular. But of this I shall have a more apt occasion to speak in the following periods. For the present, the article in general is established upon the testimonies of the greatest certainty.
Of Pardon of Sins committed after Baptism. 7. But, it may be, our easiness of life, and want of disci. pline, and our desires to reconcile our pleasures and temporal satisfactions with the hopes of heaven, hath made us apt to swallow all that seems to favour our hopes. But it is certain, that some Christian doctors have taught the doctrine of repentance with greater severity, than is intimated in the premises. For all the examples of pardon, consigned to us in the Old Testament, are nothing to us, who live under the New, and are to be judged by other measures. And as for those instances which are recorded in the New Testa, ment, and all the promises and affirmations of pardon,--they are sufficiently verified in that pardon of sins, which is first given to us in baptism, and at our first conversion to Christianity. Thus when St. Stephen prayed for his persecutors,and our blessed Lord himself, on his uneasy death-bed of the cross, prayed for them that crucified him,-it can only prove, that these great sins are pardonable in our first access to Christ, because they, for whom Christ and his martyr St. Stephen prayed, were not yet converted,----and so were to be saved by baptismal repentance. Then the power of the keys is exercised, and the gates of the kingdom are opened ; then we enter into the covenant of mercy and pardon, and promise faith and perpetual obedience to the laws of Jesus ;
and upon that condition, forgiveness is promised and exhi-bited, offered and consigned, but never after : for it is in Christianity for all great sins, as in the civil law for theft. “Qui eâ mente alienum quid contrectavit ut lucrifaceret, tametsi, mutato consilio, id Domino postea reddidit, fur est : nemo enim, tali peccato, pænitentiâ suâ nocens esse desinit," said Ulpian and Gaius P. Repentance does not here take off the punishment, nor the stain. And so it seems to be in Christianity, in which every baptized person, having stipulated for obedience, is upon those terms admitted to pardon, and consequently, if he fails of his duty, he shall fail of the grace.
8. But that this objection may proceed no further, it is certain that it is an infinite lessening of the mercy of God in Jesus Christ, to confine pardon of sins only to the font. For that even lapsed Christians may be restored by repentance, and be pardoned, appears in the story of the 'incestuous Corinthian,' and the precept of St. Paul to the spiritual man, or the curate of souls. “If any man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a man in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted 9.” The Christian might fall, and the Corinthian did so,-and the minister himself, he who had the ministry of restitution and reconciliation, was also in danger: and yet they all might be restored. To the same sense is that of St. James; • Is any man sick among you? Let him send for the presbyters of the church, and let them pray over him. Kậv duaprias IV TETOLNKWC, “Although he was a doer of sins,' they shall be forgiven him".” For there is an ådıkia, a sin' that is not unto death. And therefore when St. Austin, in his first book .de Sermone Dei,' had said that there is some sin so great that it cannot be remitted, he retracts his words with this clause; “ addendum fuit,” &c. “ I should have added, if in so great perverseness of mind he ends his life. must not despair of the worst sinner, we may not despair of any, since we ought to pray for all.”
9. For it is beyond exception or doubt, that it was the great work of the apostles, and of the whole New Testament, to engage men in a perpetual repentance. For since all men
p L. 65. D. de furtis, et 1. 1. D. de Ædilitio edicto.
r James, v. 15.
do sin, all men must repent, or all men must perish. And very many periods of Scripture are directed to lapsed Christjans, baptized persons falling into grievous crimes, calling them to repentance. So Simon Peter to Simon Magus: MeTavóncov atò kaklas, Repent of thy wickedness";' and to the Corinthian Christians St. Paul urges the purpose of his legation; 'We pray in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.' The Spirit of God reproved some of the Asian churches for foul-misdemeanours, and even some of the angels, the Asian bishops,' calling upon them to 'return to their first love,' and to repent and to do their first works;' and to the very Gnostics, and filthiest heretics he gave 'space to repent,' and threatened extermination to them, if they did not do it ‘speedily. For,
10. Baptism is eis perávolav, the admission of us to the covenant of faith and repentance ; or as Mark the Anchoret called it, apópasiç łoti tñs metavolas, the introduction to repentance, or that state of life that is full of labour and care, and amendment of our faults;' for that is the best life that any man can live ; and therefore repentance hath its progress after baptism, as it hath its beginning before : for first repentance is unto baptism, and then baptism unto repentance.' And if it were otherwise, the church had but ill provided for the state of her sons and daughters by commanding the baptism of infants. For if repentance were not allowed after, then their early baptism would take from them all hopes of repentance, and destroy the mercies of the Gospel, and make it now to all Christendom a law of works in the greater instances; because since in our infancy we neither need, nor can perform, repentance,-if to them that sin after baptism, repentance be denied, it is in the whole denied to them for ever to repent".
But “ God hath provided better things for us, and such which accompany salvation.”
11. For besides those many things which have been already considered, our admission to the holy sacrament of the Lord's supper, is a perpetual entertainment of our hopes : because then and there is really exhibited to us the body that was broken, and the blood that was shed for remission of
* Acts, viii. 22.
t Apocal. ii. 16. 5. 21. u Vide Great Exemplar, part 1. disc. of Baptism, p. 175, &c.
sins :' still it is applied, and that application could not be necessary to be done anew, if there were not new necessities; and still we are invited to do actions of repentance, 'to examine ourselves, and so to eat:' all which, as things are ordered, would be infinitely useless to mankind, if it did not mean pardon to Christians falling into foul sins even after baptism.
12. I shall add no more but the words of St. Paul to the Corinthians; “ Lest when I come again, my God will hurnble me among you, and that I shall bewail
who have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness, and fornication, and lasciviousness, which they have committed." Here is a fierce accusation of some of them, for the foulest and the basest crimes; and a reproof of their not repenting, and a threatening them with censures ecclesiastical I suppose this article to be sufficiently concluded from the premises. The necessity of which proof they only will best believe, who are severely penitent, and full of apprehension and fear of the divine anger, because they have highly deserved it. However, I have served my own needs in it, and the need of those whose consciences have been, or shall be, so timorous as mine hath deserved to be. But against the universality of this doctrine there are two grand objections; the one is the severer practice and doctrine of the primitive church, denying repentance to some kind of sinners after baptism :-the other, the usual discourses and opinions concerning the sin against the Holy Ghost. Of these I shall give account in the two following sections.
Of the Difficulty of obtaining Pardon: the Doctrine and
Practice of the Primitive Church in this Article. 13. NOVATIANUS and Novatus said, that the church had not power to minister pardon of sins, except only in baptism; which proposition, when they had well digested and considered, they did thus explicate. That there are some capital
x 2 Cor. xii. 21.