The true worshippers of Christ, wishing to obtain that power, ought to resist every assumed power which seeks to remove them from the imitation of Christ by force or craft, for, in thus resisting such power we do not resist the ordinance of God but the abuse of power. And such abuse, in respect to the power of the keys, the simoniacs exercise who allege that they can either damn the deserving or loose those who are bound, and they do this because the obedience they falsely demand is refused them or for the sake of the gain they derive.
Christ’s disciple ought to be on his guard against the fallacy of antichrist, when the following course of argument is pursued: Whatsoever Christ’s vicar shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven, but this faithful layman who does not wish to give money for his absolution, him he binds on earth. Therefore, this layman is bound in heaven. Likewise, whatsoever Christ’s vicar shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven, but him who is not contrite and yet is willing to give money, him he looses on earth.
My first design was, to offer a few plain thoughts to the Clergy of our own Church only. But upon farther reflection, I see no cause for being so “straitened in my own bowels.” I am a debtor to all; and therefore, though I primarily speak to them with whom I am more immediately connected, yet I would not be understood to exclude any, of whatsoever denomination, whom God has called to “watch over the souls of others, as they that must give account.”