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But, if not so much cruelty of disposition, as fear and suspicion of a strange nation shall arm them against us; our care must be, so to manage our own defence, as may be least offensive to them : and therefore we may not take this occasion of killing their persons, or sacking their towns, or depopulating their countries; for that, in this case, they are no other than innocent.

If after all gentle entreaties, courteous usages, and harmless selfdefence, they shall persist in a malicious hostility, and can by no means be reclaimed from their impetuous onsets; there is now just cause not to deal with them as innocents, but as enemies; and, therefore, to proceed against them accordingly.

Thirdly, But a higher and more warrantable title, that we may have to deal with these barbarous infidels, is, for the propagation of Christian Religion, and the promulgation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, amongst these miserable savages: for which we have good ground from the charge of our Saviour; Go, preach the Gospel to every creature; Mark xvi. 15: and, he, that was in bonds for the name of the Lord Jesus, tells us, The word of God is not bound; 2 Tim. ii. 9: not bound, either in fetters, or within limits.

Oh, that we could approve to God and our consciences, that this is our main motive and principal drift in our Western Plantations : but how little appearance there is of this holy care and endeavour, the plain dealer, upon knowledge, hath sufficiently informed us: although I now hear of one industrious spirit, that hath both learned the language of our new islanders, and printed some part of the Scripture in it, and trained up some of their children in the principles of Christianity; a service, highly acceptable to God, and no less meritorious of men.

The Gospel then may be, must be preached to those Heathens; otherwise they shall perpetually remain out of the state of salvation: and all possible means must be used for their conversion.

But, herein, I must have leave to depart from Victoria, that he holds it lawful, if the savages do not freely permit, but go about to hinder, the preaching of the Gospel, to raise war against them; as if he would have them cudgelled into Christianity.

Surely, this is not the way; It is for Mahometans to profess plauting religion by the sword: it is not for Christians. It is a just clause, therefore, that he puts in, that the slaughters hereupon raised

prove a hindrance to the conversion of the savages; as indeed it fell out: the poor Indians being, by these bloody courses, brought into such a detestation of their masters, the Castilians, that they professed they would not go to heaven if

any Spaniards were there.

The way, then, to plant the Gospel of Christ successfully among those barbarous souls, must be only gentle and plausible. First, by insinuating ourselves into them, by a discreet familiarity and winning deportment; by a holy and inoffensive living with them; by working upon them, with the notable examples of impartial justice, strict piety, tender mercy, compassion, chastity, temperance, and

may rather

all other Christian virtues : and, when they are thus won to a liking of our persons and carriage, they will be then well capable of our holy counsels: then, will the Christian Faith begin to relish with them; and they shall now grow ambitious of that happy condition, which they admire in us: then, shall they be glad to take us into their bosoms, and think themselves blessed in our society and cohabitation. Lo, this is the true way

of Christian conquests; wherein I know not whether shall be the greater gainer, the victor or the conquered : each of them shall bless other, and both shall be bless ed by the Almighty.

CASE IX. Whether I need, in case of some foul sin, committed by me, to have

recourse to God's Minister for absolution; and what effect I may expect therefrom. A MEAN would do well, betwixt two extremes: the careless neglect of our spiritual fathers, on the one side ; and too confident reliance upon

their power, on the other. Some there are, that do so overtrust their leaders' eyes, thac they care not to see with their own: others dare so trust their own judgment, that they think they may slight their spiritual guides : there can be no safety for the soul, but in a mid-way betwixt both these.

At whose girdle the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven do hang, methinks we should not need dispute, when we hear our Saviour so expressly deliver them to Peter, in the name of the rest of his fellows; and, afterwards, to all his Apostles, and their lawful successors in the dispensation of the Doctrine and Discipline of his Church : iu the dispensation of doctrine, to all his faithful ministers under the Gospel; in the dispensation of discipline, to those that are entrusted with the managing of Church-government.

With these latter we meddle not : neither need we, if we had occasion, after the so learned and elaborate discourse of the Power of the Keys, set forth by judicious Doctor Hammond, to which I suppose nothing can be added.

The former is that, which lies before us.

Doubtless, every true minister of Christ hath, by virtue of his first and everlasting commission, two keys delivered into his hand; the key of knowledge, and the key of spiritual power. The one, whereby he is enabled to enter and search into, not only the revealed mysteries of salvation; but also, in some sort, into the heart of the penitent: there discovering, upon an ingenuous revelation of the offender, both the nature, quality, and degree of the sin; and the truth, validity, and measure of his repentance. The other, wbereby he may, in some sort, either lock up the soul under sin, or free it from sin.

These keys were never given him, but with an intention that he should make use of them upon just occasion.

The use, that he may and must make of them, is both general and special.

General, in publishing the will and pleasure of God, signified in his word, concerning siuners ; pronouncing forgiveness of sins to the humble penitent, and denouncing judgment to the unbelieving and obdured sinner. In which regard, he is as the herald of the Almighty, proclaiming war and just indignation to the obstinate, and tendering terms of pardon and peace to the relenting and contrite soul: or rather, as the Apostle styles him, 2 Cor. v. 20. God's Ambassador, offering and suing for the reconciliation of men to God; and, if that be refused, menacing just vengeance to sinners.

Special, in particular application of this knowledge and power to the soul of that sinner, which makes his address unto him.

Wherein must be enquired, both what Necessity there is of this recourse, and what Aid and Comfort it may bring to the soul.

Two cases there are, wherein certainly there is a Necessity of applying ourselves to the judgment of our spiritual guides.

The first is, in our doubt of the nature and quality of the fact; whether it be a sin, or no sin : for, both many sins are so gilded over with fair pretences and colourable circumstances, that they are not to be descried but by judicious eyes; and some actions, which are of themselves indifferent, may, by a scrupulous conscience, be mistaken for heinous offences. Whither shall we go in these doubts, but to our counsel, learned in the laws of God; of whom God himself hath said, by his Prophet, The priest's lips should keep knowledge ; and they should scek the Law at his mouth : for he is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts ; Mal. ii. 7.

The second is, in the irresoluble condition of our souls, after a known sin committed: wherein the burdened conscience, not being able to give ease unto itself, seeks for aid to the sacred hand of God's penitentiary here on earth; and there may find it.

This is that, which Elihu, as upon experience, suggesteth unto Job, on his dunghill: The soul of the remorsed draweth near to the grave, and his life to the destroyer's. But, if there be a messenger, of God, with him, an interpreter, one of a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness, and the soundness of his repentance, Then is (God) gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom, &c. He shall pray unto God; and he will be favourable unto him; and he shall see his face with joy; Job xxxiii. 22-26.

In case of some dangerous sickness of the body, we trust not our own skill, nor some ignorant quack-salvers; but seek to a learned and experienced physician, for the prescription of some sure remedies: whereas, if it be but for a sore finger or a tooth-ach, we care only to make use of our own receipts. And so, in civil quarrels, if it be only some slight brabble, we think to compose it alone; but, if it be some main question importing our freehold, we are glad to wait on the stairs of some judicious lawyer, and to fee him for advice. How much more is it thus, in the perilous condition of our souls! which, as it is a part far more precious than its earthly tabernacle; so the diseases, whereto it is subject, are infinitely more dangerous and deadly. to all God's faithful ministers, in relation to the sins of men: a power, not sovereign and absolute, but limited and ministerial; for either quieting the conscience of the penitent, or further aggravating the conscience of sin and terror of judgment to the obstinato and rebellious.

Is your heart, therefore, embroiled within you, with the guilt of some heinous sin ? labour, what you may, to make your peace with heaven : humble yourself unto the dust, before the Majesty, whom you have offended: beat your guilty breast; water your cheeks with your tears; and cry mightily to the Father of Mercies, for a gracious remission : but if, after all these penitent endeavours, you find your soul still unquiet, and not sufficiently apprehensive of a free and full forgiveness, betake yourself to God's faithful agent, for peace: run to your ghostly physician : lay your bosom open before him: flatter not your own condition: let nei ther fear nor shame stay his hand, from probing and searching the wound to the bottom: and, that being done, make careful use of such spiritual applications, as shall be by him administered to you. This, this is the way, to a perfect recovery, and fulness of comfort.

But, you easily grant that there may be very wholesome use of the ghostly counsel of your minister, in the case of a troubled soul: but you doubt of the validity and power of his absolution: concerning which, it was a just question of the Scribes in the Gospel, Il'ho can forgive sins, but God only? Our Saviour therefore, to prove that he had this power, argues' it from his Divine Omnipotence: He only hath authority to forgive sins, that can say to the decrepid paralitic, Arise, take up thy

bed, and walk : none but a God can, by his command, effect this: he is, therefore, the true God, that may absolutely say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; Mark ii. 6–12.

Indeed, how can it be otherwise? Against God only, is our sin committed ; against man, only in the relation that man hath to God: he only can know the depth of the malignity of sin, who only knows the soul wherein it is forged: he only, who is Lord of the Soul, the God of Spirits, can punish the soul for sinning : he only, that is infinite, can doom the sinful soul to infinite torments: be only, therefore, it must be, that can release the guilty soul from sin and punishment. If, therefore, man or angel shall challenge to himself this absolute power to forgive sin, let him be accursed.

Yet, withal, it must be yielded, that the Blessed Son of God spake not those words of his last commission in rain : Il'hosesoccer sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained ; John xx. 23: neither were they spoken to the then present apostles only; but, in them, to all their faithful successors to the end of the world.

It cannot, therefore, but be granted, that there is some kind of power left in the hand of Christ's ministers, both to remit and retain sin.

Neither is this power given only to the governors of the Church, in respect of the censures to be inflicted or relaxed by them; but

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Neither is this only by way of a bare verbal declaration ; which might proceed from any other lips : but in the way of an operative and effectual application; by virtue of that delegate or commissionary authority, which is by Christ entrusted with them. For, certainly, our Saviour meant, in these words, to confer somewhat upon his ministers, more than the rest of the world should be capable to receive or perform.

The absolution, therefore, of an authorized person must needs be of greater force and efficacy, than of any private man, how learned or holy soever ; since it is grounded upon the institution and commission of the Son of God, from which all power and virtue is derived to all his ordinances : and, we may well say, that, whatsoever is in this case done by God's minister, (the Key not erring) is ratified in heaven.

It cannot, therefore, but be a great comfort and cordial assurance to the penitent soul, to hear the messenger of God, after a careful inquisition into his spiritual estate and true sight of his repentance, in the Name of the Lord Jesus pronouncing to him the full remission of all his sins. And, if'either the blessing or curse of a father go deeper with us, than of any other whosoever; although but proceeding from his own private affection, without any warrant from above; how forcibly shall we esteem the (not so much apprecatory, as declaratory) benedictions, of our spiritual fathers, selit to us out of heaven!

Although, therefore, you may, perliaps, through God's goodness, attain to such a measure of knowledge and resolution, as to be able to give yourself satisfaction concerning the state of your soul; yet, it cannot be amiss, out of an abundant caution to take God's minister along with you, and, making him of your spiritual counsel, to unbosom yourself to him freely, for his fatherly advice and concurrence: the neglect whereof, through a kind of either strangeness or mis-conceit, is certainly not a little disadvantageous to the souls of many good Christians. The Romish Laity makes either oracles or idols of their ghostly fathers: if we make cyphers of ours, I know not whether we be more injurious to them or ourselves. We go not about to rack your consciences to a forced and exquisite confession, under the pain of a no-remission; but we persuade you, for your own good, to be more intimate with, and 'less reserved from, those whom God hath set over you, for your direction, comfort, salvation.

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