On the Romanist doctrine of Penance, Thornwell (Collected Writings, 1:423) remarks: ?The culpa may be remitted, they say, while the puna is to some extent retained.? The priest absolves, not declaratively, but judicially. Denying the greatness of the sin, it makes man able to become his own Savior. Christ?s satisfaction, for sins after baptism, is not sufficient and our satisfaction is sufficient. But performance of one duty, we object, cannot make satisfaction for the violation of another.
We are required to confess one to another, and specially to those whom we have wronged: <590516>James 5:16 ? ?Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may he healed.? This puts the hardest stress upon our natural pride. There are a hundred who will confess to a priest or to God, where there is one who will make frank and full confession to the aggrieved party. Confession to an official religious superior is not penitence or a test of penitence. In the Confessional women expose inmost desires to priests who are forbidden to marry. These priests are sometimes, though gradually, corrupted to the core and at the same time they are taught in the Confessional precisely to what women to apply. In France many noble families will not permit their children to confess, and their women are not permitted to incur the danger. Lord Salisbury in the House of Lords said of auricular confession: ?It has been injurious to the moral independence and virility of the nation to an extent to which probably it has been given to no other institution to affect the character of mankind.? See Walsh, Secret History of the Oxford Movement; A. J. Gordon, Ministry of the Spirit, III ? ?Asceticism is an absolute inversion of the divine order, since it seeks life through death, instead of finding death through life. No degree of mortification can ever bring us to sanctification.? Penance can never effect true repentance or can it be anything other than a hindrance to the soul?s abandonment of sin. Penance is something external to be done and it diverts attention from the real inward need of the soul. The monk does penance by sleeping on an iron bed and by wearing a hair shirt. When Anselm of Canterbury died, his under garments were found alive with vermin, which the saint had cultivated in order to mortify the flesh. Dr. Pusey always sat on a hard chair, traveled as uncomfortably as possible, looked down when he walked and whenever he saw a coal fire thought of hell. Thieves do penance by giving a part of their ill-gotten wealth to charity. In all these things there is no transformation of the inner life.
In further explanation of the Scripture representations, we remark:
(a) That repentance, in each and all of its aspects, is wholly an inward act, not to be confounded with the change of life, which proceeds from it.
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