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Now, this is the doctrine that persons are striving to reintroduce into our land and church. The real object of this modern movement is to re-establish the belief in transubstantiation and propitiatory sacrifice. Those vestments of which we have heard so much are not introduced simply from a love of ornament and decoration, but they are folds in which to wrap the doctrine of the Mass; and that doctrine, as I p. 29have just stated it, is, that the bread is first changed into a living Saviour, and then the living Saviour offered afresh as a propitiation for sin. [29].
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For the decision of this point, let us compare the 18th and 19th verses. In v. 18 we read,鈥斺淕od hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.鈥 But in v. 19 there is a slight variation; but one of great importance in the exposition of the passage; for we there find鈥斺淗ath committed to us the word of reconciliation.鈥 The word of reconciliation, therefore, is the substance of the ministry: the grand work is to make known the perfect reconciliation wrought out for us in Christ Jesus, to act on the example set us by St. Paul himself, when he burst out in the grand appeal which follows, and said,鈥斺淣ow, then, we are ambassadors for Christ. As though God did beseech you by us, we pray p. 63you in Christ鈥檚 stead, be ye reconciled unto God.鈥?
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They could never, therefore, satisfy the conscience; as you read, Heb; x. 1, 2:鈥斺淔or the law, having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged shall have had no more conscience of sins.鈥!
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Here, then, is our delightful assurance. We look back to the work of the cross, and there see the whole burden of all our sin borne by Him, and so put away for ever. We ask no further sacrifice, for we know that He made there upon the cross 鈥渁 full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world;鈥 and we now look to our Blessed Saviour as reigning and saving. Because He reigns we know that all is rightly ordered, and because He saves we believe that we ourselves shall be safe for eternity. We see many things in the world that are altogether opposed to what we think best; but we know that God has put all things under His feet, and given Him to be the Head over all things to His Church; and, therefore, that all is in His hand, and all will work together for good. We find deep sin in ourselves, and we know how hard a thing it is really to walk with God. We find defect in our prayers, defect in our faith, defect in our service, defect in our best efforts, p. 9defect everywhere; but we look up to yonder throne, and there we find a loving Saviour; one who knows our deep need,鈥攐ne who has died for us,鈥攐ne who loves us,鈥攐ne who can feel with us, and who vouchsafes to act as our Priest and Advocate, so that in the midst of all our shortcomings and deficiencies we may, in His Name, and through His most precious blood, 鈥渃ome boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.鈥.
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But this ministry of the word of reconciliation will vary according to circumstances.
Again: it is not the office of the minister to forgive sins. If our Lord, in His words of John xx. 23, had really connected such a power with the ministry of reconciliation, it is most extraordinary that in all the many portions of the New Testament which relate to the ministry there is no allusion to it. There are three whole Epistles directed exclusively to the chief pastors of the Church, besides several addresses to presbyters both in the Acts and Epistles; and is it not a most remarkable fact, that there is not a single allusion in any one of these passages or epistles to the forgiveness of sins, as forming a portion of the ministry of reconciliation? There are full directions respecting preaching, praying, reproving, instructing, and behaviour to all the different classes of the flock, but of forgiveness of sin by the minister, not one word can you find anywhere; and yet forgiveness itself is the great subject of the p. 58whole New Testament. But it is always traced at once, without any intermediate mediation, to the Lord Himself. It is always ascribed to His blood, His redemption, and His grace, and is never once connected in any way with any power of forgiveness bestowed by a priest. I am not now dwelling on any one particular passage, but rather on the omission of the whole subject from the word of God; and I cannot but think that that omission is a proof, beyond contradiction, that the Apostles, writing by inspiration, did not understand our Lord as teaching in these words that the forgiveness of sin by a priest formed any part of the ministry of reconciliation.
21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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21 August, 2019 - 13:08
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