Abbildungen der Seite

the schoolmen of the ensuing age to introduce this pernicious novelty into theology. These subtle divines espied in every proposition the materials for an animated discussion, and hence in turning over the Bible they found innumerable passages offering facilities for the agitation of intricate questions'. Among the scholars who addicted themselves to this mischievous kind of learning, were Hugh de St. Victor, and his disciple Richard TM : both of whom chose to argue upon the necessity of confessing to a priest before receiving the Communion. The master decided the question by boldly affirming, that unless a communicant had previously received sacerdotal absolution, he would eat and drink his own damnation, even although he might have earnestly repented of his sins. The disciple asserted the same thing ; and a body of divinity then in vogue teaches, that grief for the past was not sufficient to qualify a man for the holy table: he must come thither after a lawful confession, or he would commit a mortal sin". Peter Lombard arrives at length at the same conclusion'. He states at first, that many persons considered confession to God alone as sufficient, and that some authorities countenanced this opinion, while others invalidated it, or even maintained the con

vir mundus ubicunque sit requiratur." (Lanfranc. de Celanda Confessione. Op. 381.) Dacherius appears to have been rather embarrassed by this passage, which by admitting that confession might allowably be made to a respectable layman, cuts up by the roots the sacramental character attributed by modern Romanists to that act. Accordingly the learned editor has inserted the following note upon these remarkable words in his argument to the piece in which they occur. “ Non quod illa confessio, ut proferam hac in re theologorum sententiam, gratiam ex opere operato conferat, neque enim sacramentalis est, sed ex opere operantis.” Archbishop Lanfranc it should be added (p. 379.) makes the sacraments four in number, viz. Faith, Baptism, the Eucharist, and the Remission of Sins. This, however, will not serve the modern Romanists as to their sacrament of penance. From the insertion of Faith in this enumeration, it is evident, that the prelate meant by the word sacrament, any sacred thing which serves as the means of grace.

| " Les anciens peres dans leurs commentaires sur les livres sacrés expliquoient le texte ou literallement ou allegoriquement par rapport a l'instruction des fideles ; et les auteurs du buitieme et du neuvieme siecle qui avoient fait des commentaires sur la Bible, n'avoient fait que compiler et recüeillir divers commentaires des peres, dont ils avoient fait des chaînes ou des commentaires : quelques-uns avoient aussi introduit alors l'usage des gloses pour l'explication de la lettre; mais dans le douziéme siecle on commença à expliquer l'Ecriture sainte d'une maniere à peu prés semblable à celle dont on traitoit la theologie, c'est à dire par les principes de la dialectique, en agitant diverses questions subtiles touchant les dogmes, et en rapportant quantité de lieux communs.” Du Pin, III. 276. m Ibid.

“ Hugo in libro de Ecclesiastica potestate ligandi et solvendi sic scripsit: Audacter dico, si ante sacerdotis absolutionem, ad Communionem corporis et sanguinis Domini quis accesserit, pro certo sibi manducat et bibit judicium, etiamsi eum multum poeniteat et vehementer doleat et ingemiscat. Hæc certe Hugo audacter dixit, nisi falsum doceat nos Verbum Dei. Floruit autem circa annos Christi 1130. Idem etiam Richardus de S. Victore asseruit. Et summa angelica sic habet : Quantuncunque doleret aliquis de peccato commisso, non sufficeret ut digne sumat, sed oportet eum legitime confiteri, aliter peccat mortaliter." Hospinian, 366.

• Circa an. 1150. Ibid.

trary P. His own determination, however, is, that indubitably a man must first confess to God, then to a priest, and that, if any one, having an opportunity of thus confessing, shall neglect it, he will not be permitted to enter paradise. Again, the Master of the Sentences lays it down as certain, that confession to God alone is not sufficient, and that no man is truly humble and penitent who does not seek the judgment of a priest?. Gratian, the father of papal canonists', takes much the same ground as Lombard, but he avoids the rashness of that schoolman's decision. He states that wise and religious men differed as to the necessity of sacerdotal confession, and that therefore, he should leave the question to the judgment of his readers. This prudent reserve, however, is not maintained by the commentator

P Abp. Usher's Answ. to a Jesuit's Challenge. 108.

4 “Petrus Lombardus, lib. 4. Sentent. dis. 17. et 18. ex patribus primo indicat, sufficere confessionem peccatorum soli Deo factam. Deinde alia subjicit testimonia contrarium docentia. Postremo sua etiam interposita sententia sic concludit: Ex his indubitanter ostenditur, oportere Deo primum, et deinde sacerdoti offerre confessionem, nec aliter posse perveniri ad ingressum para. dysi, si adsit facultas. Rursus; Certificatum est, quod non sufficit confiteri Deo sine sacerdoti; nec est vere humilis et poenitens, si non desiderat et requirit sacerdote judicium." Hospinian, 366.

* A. D. 1150. Abp. Usher's Answ. to a Jesuit's Challenge. 109.

" Quibus authoritatibus vel rationibus utraque sententia confessionis et satisfactionis innitatur, in medium breviter exposuimus. Cui enim horum potius adhærendum sit, lectoris judicio reservatur. Utraque enim fautores habet sapientes et religiosos viros. Hæe Gratianus in fine dist. 1. de pænitentia." Hospinian, 366.

upon Gratian.

His gloss asserts that, sacerdotal confession, though not satisfactorily traceable to any scriptural authority, is obligatory upon Christians in the West, because imposed by a tradition of the Universal Church : in the East, it is admitted, this usage may be safely omitted, because the tradition did not reach thither. At length, in the year 1215, Innocent III. undertook to set all these questions at rest; and by one of the boldest strokes of his usurped authority, to impose the yoke of auricular confession upon all who were so unhappy, by the circumstances of their birth, the force of their prejudices, or the presumed interests of their rulers, as to be placed within the grasp of his despotic intolerance. At the famons fourth council of Lateran, in which the lordly Pontiff oracularly promulged his personal views to an immense assemblage of acquiescent auditors, it was proposed to compel every person, whether male or female, who had arrived to years of discretion, to make a faithful private confession of all his sins, to his own priest, at least once in every year; to receive the Eucharist at least every Easter, unless advised to abstain by his own priest; and to perform to the best of his power, such penance as that ecclesias

"" Verba hæc sunt; Melius dicitur eam institutam esse a quadam universalis Ecclesiæ traditione potius quam ex Novi vet Veteris Testamenti authoritate. Et traditio Ecclesiæ obligatoria est ut præceptum. Ergo necessaria est confessio in mortalibus apud nos ; apud Græcos non, quia non emanavit ad illos talis tra. ditio." Ibid.

tic should impose upon him. Such as refused to comply with these injunctions were to be excluded from the church in life, and to be denied Christian burial after death'. This canon was allowed to give the law to Occidental Europe, and thus no longer were men at liberty to content themselves with that confession to God, which is enjoined in Scripture, or when labouring under the burthen of iniquity to select as their confidant, some minister of religion who might appear best qualified for affording them the desired relief. Every person of all ages, after infancy, and of all conditions, was driven to the necessity of exposing privately and periodically, to a particular individual, however qualified for such a confidence, all the moral obliquities which might have disgraced his carriage, or polluted his imagination, since he last made a similar disclosure. A more palpable departure from the ancient penitential discipline of the Church can hardly be conceived. Instead of public confession and penance being exacted from gross and notorious offenders alone, and a course of public humiliation being prescribed to such considerable, though

* “ Omnis utriusque sexus fidelis, postquam ad annos discre. tionis pervenerit, omnia solus sua peccata confiteatur fideliter saltem semel in anno proprio sacerdoti, et injunctam sibi ponitentiam studeat pro viribus adimplere, suscipiens reverenter ad minus in Pascha Eucharistiæ Sacramentum, nisi forte de consilio proprii sacerdotis, ob aliquam rationabilem causam ad tempus ab ejus perceptione duxerit abstinendum: alioquin et vivens ab ingressu ecclesiæ arceatur, et moriens Christiana careat sepultura." Ibid. 367.

[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »