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war too long. This country has been barassed and divided by differences of opinion far too long; and it is almost impossible to suppose, that divine Providence has not instituted some means whereby all well. meaning, and all well-thinking, and well-intentioned men, shall be brought to unity of opinion upon such essential doctrines.
Another, and I will say, a still more important admonition which I beg to give is, that all who may not be already members of that religion which I have been endeavouring to uphold, that they will proceed to to inquiry and inquiry without reserve, and that they do not think that there is a single point upon which we shrink from individual and close investigation ; that they must not fancy, if they have hitherto done so, that we shroud ourselves behind the authority of our church, and overlook every objection and every consideration, and say to the faithful, Be silent; this is taught you ; believe and subject your understanding, your reason, to our teacbing; and investigate no more. This is not our principle. There is no point on which we do not court inquiry; and notbing can give us greater delight, than when those who are at all moved by what they have heard, are thereby induced still farther to apply their minds, and even to seek from us wbatever assistance it may be in our power to give, and so endeavour to discover the whole truth of Christ.
My brethren, again, another still more important reflection; and that is, if that inquiry is once made, and if that inquiry prove satisfactory to the mind, that the system that has been till then believed and embraced, is not correct, and that the truth of Christ is to be found with us, that there shall not be one moment's hesitation, one moment's balance between that discovery, and the next step that is taken. It is fortunate, I may say, that in this country, there is nothing which can make a return to that religion odious or dishonourable to any man. It is not abandoning the religion of your country; it is returning to the true religion of your ancestors. To that religion you owe all that is most splendid in its monuments ; all that is most beautiful and holy in its institutions. When the learned and holy-minded Count Stolberg became, after mature deliberation, and after he bad filled the whole of Germany with the reputation of his writings, a member of the Catholic church, that being at a time when such things were rarer among men than they are at present in that country—the event having excited a considerable sensation—the first time he appeared at court after that cir. cumstance, he was thus addressed by his sovereign, in the hearing of all around : “ Stolberg, I cannot respect the man who can abandon the religion of his fathers.” “ Nor I, Sire,” replied the Count, “because, if mine had not abandoned theirs, they would not have put me to the trouble of returning to it.” Such was the feeling that animated him, and made him brave that severe rebuke. It will always be found, whatever
difficulties there is in the first step, however earth may appear to rise against you, however friends and earthly prospects may seem to assume a more shaded colour in all that is necessary to your happiness, depend upon it that this mass of difficulty will not equal the anxiety, the uneasi. ness, the racking pain which such a mind must for ever endure in this life; and depend upon it, the moment the resolution is once taken, every distrust is immediately removed; the hand of Providence is instantly stretched, to make that easy which before appeared difficult and heavy.
And, in conclusion, let me pray, that the grace of God, the love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the church of God may be with you all! Amen.
JOHN XX. 23.
" Whose sins ye shall forgive, they are forgiven them : and whose sins ye shall retain, they are retained.”
I SHALL endeavour to-night to explain to you, in the simplest manner possible, the doctrine of the Catholic church regarding the confession or forgiveness of sins, and the grounds whereupon it maintains the practice to be an institution of our Lord. It would, however, be necessarily unjust to the subject, to enter into it singly and separately from all those important institutions or prescriptions, which are considered as an essential part of the remedy established by Christ, for the forgiveness of sins. It will, therefore, be necessary that I enter, at some length, into other considerations connected with this subject, and endeavour rather to lay before you, the entire form and substance of that sacrament, which the Catholic church maintains and believes to be one of the most valuable institutions, left by our Saviour, to the administration of his church- the sacrament, that is, of penance - of which, indeed, confession is but considered a part.
Nothing, I own, is more common than to separate our belief from our practice, and laying the latter portion before the consideration of mankind, as a something which stands upon independent grounds, and has connexion with nought else; and to represent it, necessarily, as a thing of buman invention, and having no ground-work in the word of God. In order to remove any impression, which may have been made of this nature, it will be necessary that I show this institution as it really is practised in the church of Christ, in connexion with other and still important doctrines.
I shall, therefore, endeavour to go through all the parts of this sacra. ment, comparing the institution believed by us, to bave been left and preserved in the church of God, with the method supposed to have been instituted in the opinion of others for the attainment of the same purpose.
I have again and again inculcated, that in the works of God, or in those institutions which he left to mankind, there must be always found a certain consistency or harmony of the parts, so that wbatever has been demonstrated regarding one portion of the system, which he left on earth, must be allowed to be of considerable weight towards influencing our belief, at least, as to the probability of other similar institutions having been appointed.
For example: with regard to the present case, all agree that, among the most important objects of our Saviour's coming amongst mankind I may say, indeed, the most important of all-was that of redeeming fallen man from sin : we must, consequently, suppose that he did not leave his work imperfect; and, while we all consent in the common belief, that the work of redemption was quite complete, so far as giving a full equivalent to divine justice, we all must, likewise, agree that means were provided by him, whereby this full redemption was, some way or other, to be applied to each individual case. No one will, for a moment, suppose that Christ having once died for sin, we are all absolved from all co-operation on our parts; that, without a single act, I do not say, external, but at least internal, of our minds, we have the full benefit of that redemption; that there is nothing to be done on our parts, whereby that general redemption, which was more than sufficient to cancel the sins of ten thousand worlds, was to be made accepted by God in our own particular case. Consequently, so far, I believe, all will admit that the redemption was perfected by Christ's death; and all must agree so far, that some instrument or other, whether of an outward act or an inward movement, is necessary for the purpose of making that redemption applicable to ourselves,
But if we look into the institutions of Christ, we see that in every other case at least, he was pleased to make use of external agency. Is not the blood of Christ applied to the sanctification of man in the waters of regeneration? Is not baptism a sacrament instituted by him, for the purpose of cleansing the soul from the original stain? Is not sin, therefore, forgiven through the only forgiving power; that is, through the cancelling blood of our Redeemer, and yet is it not applied by means of the outward act, and through the ministration of man? Is not the redemption of Christ complete in itself, so far as it was intended also for our greater sanctification? Were not his sufferings