The forgiveness of sins on earth by the Son of Man through His agents, the Bishops and Priests of the Church. Their commission is embodied in the words of the Ordination Office, "Receive the Holy Ghost for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands. Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained." This commission contains our {6} Lord's own words to be found in St. John 20:22 and 23, and they are His commission to His Ministers. Attempts have been made to explain away these words; but it is unquestionably the office of the Holy Ghost to invest those ordained with the power of dispensing God's Word and Sacraments, and of performing what is necessary "for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the Body of Christ."
   See Keys, Power of.

American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. — New York, Thomas Whittaker. . 1901.

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