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ject so to pass through things temporal, as 'finally not to lose the things which are eternal.'
A true penitent is cordially desirous of living a godly, righteous, and sober life.' He is conscious that his own strength is perfect weakness; and therefore applies earnestly to Him for grace, who has promised to bestow it. • Having much forgiven, he loves much ;" and therefore is solicitous to spend his time, and employ his talents ་ to the glory of God's most holy name.' O that every member of our communion may thus manifest the sincerity of the confessions he makes!
The use, which our Church makes of Jesus Christ, must not be omitted. To Him she continually leads the attention of her children. When she teaches us to pray for sanctifying grace, we are put in mind that it is for His sake' only, that we can expect a favorable answer to our prayers. His death is represented as the only ground of hope to a guilty sinner; to whom an offended God can shew mercy only thro' Jesus Christ our Lord. Every humble soul will say, • Amen.'
ON THE ABSOLUTION.
THE act of ministerial absolution has been the subject of much warm, and contentious disputation. On the one hand, it has been asserted that the power of forgiving sins, conferred by our Lord on His Apostles, was personal with respect to them, and with them expired; their successors in the ministry being destitute of the proper qualifications for so high and important an office. On the other hand, it has been argued that, the wants of the church being the same, there is no more reason to confine this part of the sacred function, to persons acting under immediate inspiration than any other. Controversy is not the business of these essays. There is happily neutral ground, on which we may stand in safety, without engaging with either of the contending, parties. Surely on such a subject, if it be possible, all disputation should be silenced: and if any sound be heard, it should not be the din of war
like debate, but the groan of penitence or the murmur of joy, occasioned by the gracious sentence of acquittal from the guilt of those sins, which, without a pardon, would have changed the unhappy noise of religious controversy into weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. There is nothing in the absolution of our church, that needs defence. It makes no pretensions, that border on the arrogant claims of the chair of St. Peter. It is merely declaratory and conditional. As Ambassadors for God, His ministers therein proclaim His readiness to receive all those, 'who with hearty repentance and true faith turn 'unto Him.'
Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desireth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wicked*ness and live; and hath given power and commandment to His ministers to declare and pronounce to His people, being penitent, the abso⚫lution and remission of their sins: He pardoneth
and absolveth all them that truly repent, and • unfeignedly believe His holy Gospel. Wherefore let us beseech Him to grant us true repentance, and His Holy Spirit; that those things may please Him, which we do at this present, and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy; so that at the last we may come to His eternal joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. • Amen.'
While the consciences of sinners remain in a state of torpid insensibility, they are easily satisfied with respect to the pardon of their sins, of which they have never seen the evil, nor felt the burden. A stupified devotee to papal infallibility acquiesces without difficulty, in the supposititious right of the holy see, to remit by its own authority sins that are past, present, and yet to come. Lulled by this syren song, he suffers his days to glide on in careless security, without any serious inquiries, whether the great Judge of all will confirm the sentence of his pretended vicar. A protestant formalist, from the same cause and with the same facility, quiets the clamors of conscience, if at intervals conscience become clamorous, with proposed intentions of making atonement for past miscarriages by future amendment. The generality of nominal Christians pacify them. selves with undefined notions of God's mercy, without any warrant whatever from the word of God. But it is not so with those, who know that the wages of sin is death; who feel the value of their souls to be so great, that the loss of them could not be compensated by gaining the whole world; and who realized that tremendous day, when the dead small and great shall stand before · God, when the books shall be opened, and the • dead be judged out of those things which are
written in the books according to their works ;* when every work shall be brought into judgment, • with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.'t Vague and indeterminate ideas of the mercy of God will not satisfy those, whose consciences are quickened by the Spirit of God to a perception of the holiness and righteousness of the Divine nature, the spirituality of the Divine law, and the truth of the Divine threatenings. The sinner, who has described the corrupt state of his own heart, the iniquities of his life, and his apprehensions of God's displeasure in the terms of our confession, without duplicity or mental reservation, must have some decisive views of the scripture-doctrine of absolution, before he can abandon himself to repose. Our reformers have therefore judiciously indicated, at the commencement of the form of absolution, the source from which the minister derives his authority for the declaration that follows.
Who can forgive sins but God only ?" But if almighty God had specified, in His own oracles, the way, in which He communicates pardon; and the persons, who may safely take the comfort of it; the conscience may well rest therein, and every feeling of the soul be tranquillized, like the sea of Tiberias, when Jesus had commanded, "peace, be still." If God be "AL
* Rev. xx. 12. + Eccles. xii. 14.