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been a good deal of a favourite all over the world perhaps from the period occupied by the creation, from its frequent recurrence under the Jewish dispensation, from its prominence in the Apocalypse, and from the hebdomadal division of time; but it appears not to have been generally suspected among English priests in the early part of the thirteenth century, that the sacraments amounted exactly to this mystical number. It being, however, intended to communicate the decision lately made among the continental schoolmen as to this matter, to the whole of our insular population, Otho ordered, that clergymen should be examined as to the number of the sacraments upon institution to a benefice, and that archdeacons should take especial care at their visitations, to instruct the assembled divines in this newly-modelled branch of theology: But since after all, it
things. (Hey's Lectures in Divinity, Camb. 1798. IV. 198.) It is thought that the number seven was assigned by the schoolmen to the sacraments, because we read among the mysterious language of St. John (Revel. iii. 1.) of the seven spirits of God. From this it was imagined, that the operations of the Spirit are sevenfold. The first writer who reckons seven sacraments is Peter Lombard, but his contemporary Hugh de St. Victor is considered to have made the same enumeration before him. Eugenius IV. proposed this doctrine of the sacraments to the Oriental Christians in 1439, with the approbation of the council of Florence, and at the council of Trent it was finally determined that the Florentine enumeration was correct. The Trentine fathers, in debating this question Jaid great stress upon the unanimity of the schoolmen, from Peter Lombard downwards, as to the septenary division of the sacraments. F. Paul, 234,
might be found that the elder ecclesiastics would not readily assent to such an innovation, the Car-, dinal enjoined that candidates for orders should be examined upon the seven sacraments with eminent strictness. Penance being thus elevated to the dignity of a sacrament, a form of absolution more authoritative than any known in ancient times was introduced into general use. It had been the practice of the primitive Church to absolve penitents by solemnly restoring them to the privilege of Communion, by laying hands upon them, and by praying over them that God would pardon their sins d. Probably this precatory form of absolution was used in all cases of those private confessions which were commonly, but voluntarily made before scholastic divinity was established in the West. It is at least certain that this form of absolution is the only one to be found in the most ancient service books of the Latin Church In the twelfth or thirteenth century, however, the indicative form of absolution' prescribed by the modern Roman Church, and retained with an important qualification for particular cases in the English office for the visitation of the sick, came
• " Statuimus ut in susceptione curæ animarum et ordinis sacerdotii examinentur de his, præcipue ordinandi.” Const. Othon. ut supra. Bingham, II. 245.
e Ibid. 247. f “Morinus has fully proved that there was no use of it till the twelfth or thirteenth century, not long before the time of Thomas Aquinas, who was one of the first that wrote in defence of it.” Ibid.
This was considered as the proper form for sacramental absolution, and Cardinal Othobon, at the legatine council holden under him in London, in 1268, enjoined the English clergy to adopt it". But notwithstanding these repeated endeavours to force the Romish doctrine as to penance upon England, our national ecclesiastics appear to have admitted it slowly and with reluctance. The canon for the appointment of confessors to pry into the frailties or vices of the country clergy was neglected, being found generally distasteful to that body', and in consequence clerical duties were usually performed under such circumstances, indeed, as were familiar to Englishmen, but such as the Pope's creatures pronounced an abomination. In order to overcome this national pertinacity in maintaining ancient religious opinions, John Peckham, the Franciscan friar, intruded by papal boldness into the see of Canterbury, re-enacted at a provincial council convened at Lambeth, in 1281, the regulations formerly made as to confessors for the rural clergy".
I“ Hæc est sacramentalis absolutio." Annot. in Const. Otho. bon. 64.
& “ Confitentes absolvant, verba subscripta specialiter exprimentes : Ego te a peccatis tuis auctoritate qua fungor absolvo." Const. Othobon. Ibid.
1 « Hoc tum hactenus non cleri fuit moribus approbatum : non sine multis Dei injuriis in sacramentorum ministrationibus ac missarum celebrationibus, quæ execrationes potius dicerentur." Const. Prov. Joh. Cant. Archiep. 127.
* Ibid. The canon next in order to this is deserving of notice because it affords an insight into the religious opinions of
At length all opposition to the tyrannical yoke of confession was overcome. Death gradually re
the age. It directs, that the clergy shall plainly instruct their parishioners in the main principles of Christianity once in every quarter. These instructions were to embrace the fourteen articles of faith, the ten commandments, the two evangelical precepts of charity, the seven works of mercy, the seven mortal sins with such iniquities as proceed from them, the seven principal virtues, and the seven sacraments of grace. Of the fourteen articles of faith, seven are referred to the Trinity, the remainder to Christ's humanity. The first septenary is thus distributed. 1. The unity of the Godhead. 2. That the Father is unbegotten. 3. That the Son is God, and the only begotten of God. 4. That the Holy Ghost is God, but neither begotten nor unbegotten, though proceeding equally from the Father and the Son. 5. That the whole creation, visible and invisible, is the work of the whole and undivided Trinity. 6. The sanctification of the Church by the Holy Ghost, and that without the Church there is no salvation. 7. The consummation of the Church at the general resurrection. The second septenary contains the following articles. 1. The incarnation of Christ by the operation of the Holy Ghost. 2. That Christ was truly born of the immaculate Virgin. 3. The passion of Christ under the tyranny of Pilate. 4. The descent of Christ's spirit into hell in order to complete his victory over the infernal powers. (" Ad spoliationem tartari.") 5. His resurrection. 6. His ascension.
6. His ascension. 7. His coming to judgment. After these two septenaries follows the Decalogue; which is thus explained. 1. All idolatry, or worship of strange gods is forbidden, and by implication, all fortune-telling, charms, and superstitions. 2. It is forbidden to take God's name in vain, and this includes a prohibition of heresy, blasphemy, and perjury. 3. Sundays and holidays are to be duly kept, not however according to the Jewish system, but according to the canonical institutions. 4. Parents are to be honoured, and by implication, spiritual fathers, as Bishops. 5. Murder is forbidden, and by implication, whatever injures others. 6. Forbids
moved the race of clergymen who had resisted the disgusting innovation, and there can be no doubt that care was taken to supply their places
adultery, and at the same time all sins of a similar description. 7. Forbids all stealing, and at the same time all modes of acquiring property by fraud, violence, or usury, 8. Forbids all false witness, and herein all falsehood, especially with any sinister intent. 9. Forbids the coveting of another man's goods; which may be chiefly understood as prohibiting the desire of any Catholic's real estate. (" In quo mandato implicite inhibetur cupiditas possessionis immobilis Catholici cujuscunque præcipue." Innocent III. it may be recollected, had, in his famous fourth Lateran council, devoted to spoliation the properties of such as were pronounced heretics at Rome.) 10. Forbids the coveting of another man's wife, or of any personal property belonging to him. The two Evangelical precepts of charity are the love of God, and that of our neighbour. Under the latter head it is taught, that we are bound to care for our neighbour's salvation more than for our own temporal life. The seven works of mercy are : 1. Feed the hungry. 2. Give drink to the thirsty. 3. Entertain the stranger. 4. Clothe the naked. 5. Visit the sick. 6. Comfort the prisoners. 7. Bury the dead. Of these, the first six are mentioned in St. Matthew, this last in Tobit. The seven mortal sins, are Pride, Envy, Anger, Hatred, Irreligion, (" Accidia : est lædium boni spiritualis, ex qua homo nec in Deo, nec in divinis laudibus delectatur; ex qua sequuntur ignorantia, pusillanimilas, desperatio, et similia.") Avarice, and Intemperance. The seven cardinal virtues are Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence, Temperance, Justice, Fortitude. The seven sacraments have been already mentioned. Of these, it is ordered, that Extreme Unction shall be used to persons no longer possessed of reason, provided that they discovered any care of their salvation while yet in a state of consciousness : it having been found that even one labouring under phrensy, being a son of predestination, (“si tum sit prædestinationis filius") has either obtained a lucid interval, or some spiritual benefit, from that unction.