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A DISCOURSE OF CONFIRMATION.
DISSUASIVE FROM POPERY,
SECTION X.-Of the Seal of Confession.
1. I FIRST instance in their seal of confession; and the question is not, whether a priest is to take care of his penitent's fame, or whether he be not, in all prudent and pious ways, to be careful, lest he make that intercourse odious; for certainly he is but whether the seal of confession be so sacred and impregnable, that it is not to be opened in the imminent danger of a king, or kingdom; or for the doing the greatest good, or avoiding the greatest evil, in the world: that is now the question, and such a broad seal as this, is no part of the Christian religion,—was never spoken of by the prophets or apostles, in the Old or the New Testament,-never was so much as mentioned in the books of the ancient fathers and doctors, not so much as named in the ancient councils of the church; and was not heard of, until after the time of Pope Gregory the Seventh. Now how this is determined and practised in the church of Rome, we may quickly see. The first direct rule in the western church we find in this affair, is the canon of the Lateran council; "cap. Omnis Utriusque*;" in which to confess at Easter was made an ecclesiastical law; and, as an appendix to it, this caution; "Caveat autem omninò, ne verbo, aut signo, aut alio quovis modo, aliquatenus prodat peccatorem: sed, si prudentiore consilio indiguerit, illud, absque ullâ expressione personæ, requirat." This law
a Decretal. de Pœnitentiis et Remissionibus.
concerning them that do confess their secret sins to a priest,
b In 3. dist. 21.
d Prov. xi. 13.
1 Τὰς μοιχευθείσας γυναῖκας καὶ ἐξαγορευσάσας δι ̓ εὐλάβειαν δημοσιεύειν οὐκ ἐκέλευσαν οἱ πατέρες ἡμων· Α. D. 1603.