INSTRUCTION CONCERNING PENANCE AND HOLY COMMUNION; The Second Part OF THE Instruction of YOUTH, Containing the Means how we may re­turn to God by Penance, and remain in his Grace by the good and frequent use of the Sacraments.

By CHARLES GOBINET, Doctor of Divinity, of the House and Society of SOR­BON, Principal of the College of PLES­SIS-SORBON.

The Last Edition in French, now render'd into English.

LONDON, Printed by J. B. and are to be Sold by Mathew Turner, at the Lamb in High Holborn, and John Tootell, at Mr. Palmers the Bookbinder in Sil­verstreet in Bloomsbury: Together with the First Part of the Instruction of Youth in Chri­stian Piety, 1689.



MY Lord and my God, permit me also to consecrate this Second Instruction to thee, and lay it at the foot of thy Cross, to which I invite thy Children, and beg the favour of thy Benediction. That which thou hast been pleased to bestow upon the First I made, gives me hopes that thou hast yet reserv'd a blessing for this Second; and that in respect of the things therein contained, which are the Sacraments, thy own work, thou wilt not fail to bless it. Its whole design is to instruct thy Chil­dren, & to teach them to frequent and make good use of the Sacraments: Sacraments, which with so much Charity thou hast instituted, that there­by thou mightest conferr thy Grace upon us. We see to our great grief, that they have not that esteem, which is due to them; and that for want of the knowledge of their worth and gran­dure, and the advantage which from thence a­rises to us, many either neglect to approach un­to them, or at least do not always take care to provide themselves with convenient dispositions [Page]when they come. Thou presentest them with holy Penance, that thereby they may be freed from the Slavery of their Sins; but it often hap­pens, that like the Israelites in the Aegyptian Bon­dage, they choose rather to continue captives as before, then to accept thy offer. Thou bestowest upon them Celestial food for their nourishment, and to strengthen them, whom once thou hast received into thy Grace; but by reason they are ignorant of the excellence of the gift, they either refuse or neglect to take it, and permit themselves Spiritually to be starv'd in the De­sart of this Mortal Life. This Bread of Angels agrees not with their tast, so deprav'd it is, that they preferr the Onions of Aegypt before this Heavenly Manna. Divine Jesus, open their eyes, who live thus contented in their misery. Make them feel the weight of their Chains; make them sensible of the danger of that Servitude, wherein they are detained by Sin; make them ashamed so to affront thee, and debase themselves, as to serve the Devil, that Enemy of thy Glory, and their own Salvation. Grant them Grace to aspire to that liberty, which thy Children, the Children of God, enjoy: that to this end they may embrace Holy Penance, and thereby be entirely converted to thee; and that their actions may testify the sincerity of their hearts. That they may encrease and be strengthen'd in thy Grace by means of this Celestial Bread; and that by frequently feeding upon thy pretious Body and Blood, they may happily pass through the dangers of this Life to the Land of Promise, which is thy Hea­venly Kingdom, where thou livest and Reignest Eternally.


I Here present you, Dear Reader, with this Second Instruction, for the use of young People, and also of all such as are pleased to make use of it, that they may learn how they may rightly employ these two grand means, Penance and the Holy Eucharist, instituted by Christ for our Salvation. I have discoursed alrea­dy of these two Sacraments in the Second Part of the First Instruction: But I did it with that brevity, which is necessary to be observed in matters, which one treats of only in passant, or by the by, as accessories to the main point he designs to handle. Since that time I have often observed, that what I had said of them was not enough to give young People a full view or a per­fect understanding of these two Sacraments, and to fa­cilitate the use thereof. Therefore it seemed to me very convenient, that they should have a Book, wherein they might be solidly instructed in what concerns these two important Subjects, and benefit themselves thereby upon either of these two occasions; viz. 1. When they find themselves moved to return to God by a sincere Repentance, and to consecrate themselves wholly to his Service by a true change of their former course of life, and to this effect have need to make a general Con­fession of their life past, as we have said in the Second Part, the Sixth Chapter of the first Instruction, [Page] 2. When after this general Confession, they are willing to continue in the frequent use of these two Sacraments; that they may do it, as far as it may be needfull to conserve them in the grace of God, and to advance in Virtue. And this was the motive I had to undertake this Instruction, wherein I supply what was defective in the former, aend perform the two things, I have but even now spoken of. For in the four first parts of the In­struction concerning Penance I shew them the pro­per means, whereby they may return to God: The first of which is an exhortation to change our life and totally to addict our selves to Virtue. In the Se­cond I shew them the way to compass this design, by treating at large of Contrition; of the enormity of Sin, and the practice of this great Virtue. In the Third and Fourth I treat of Sacramental Confession, and Satisfaction, and whatsoever else is necessary for the worthy receiving of that Sacrament. Afterwards in the Fifth Part I speak of the means to conserve the Grace, which one hath received by the Sacrament; and to persever in a truly holy, and Christian life. And the Instruction which follows concerning Com­munion may also serve for the same end. For it is most certain, that this Divine Sacrament is one of the chiefest means, which God hath bestowed upon us to conserve us in his Grace. Hence it is easy to perceive that this Instruction is not so much a Second Book, as a continuation or conclusion of the first I made. I have taken an occasion to intermix some necessary points, which one is obliged to know; as the explication of the Principal Mysteries of our Faith, which I have plac'd in the first Part of the Instruction concerning Communion; and that of the three Theological Virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity, which you will find in the Second Part of the same Instruction: Virtues [Page]which are the ground-work of our Salvation, and upon which, as St. Augustin de Verb. Apost. hath it, the house of God, which is raised up by his Grace, is built. I have also taken occasion to explain the Com­mandments of God in the examen of Sins, which I have plac'd at the end of the Instruction concerning Penance: And this I have done, that one might have in this one Book the explication of the Principal points of Chri­stian Doctrine which every one is obliged to know, and that one may be inform'd of these important truths, which often through his negligence he is ignorant of, either because he conceives them not so necessary, or that he thinks he knows them sufficiently well already; which happens but too often, not only to young People, but to many others.

Thus you see, Dear Reader, what I have to tell you upon the Subject of this Instruction: After which I have no more to do, but to exhort you to benefit your self thereby. You will not fail herein, if you read it with this design, and with a desire ot improve your self. And as I have composed it with no other inten­tion except that of assisting you in your approach to God, and conserving you in his grace; I hope that if you also reade it with this intent, God will bless both yours and my design. This is what I demand with all my heart, beseeching him with all possible hu­mility that he will enlighten your Soul rightly to under­stand the truths, which he hath comprised in these great Sacraments, and that you may draw in abun­dance from these two Fountains of our Salvation the Celestial Waters of Divine Grace; which will pre­serve you in this life from the mortal heats of Sin, and rendering you fertil in Virtue and good works make you deserving of Everlasting Life, the fruit of pious endeavours, and our last end. Amen.

The Approbation.

WE Underwritten, Doctors of Divinity, of the Faculty of Paris, certify that we have read a Book Entitled, Instruction concerning Penance and the Holy Communion, &c. Composed by Charles Gobinet, also Doctor, Principal of the Colledge of Plessis-Sorbon, wherein we have found nothing but what is conformable to the Principles of Faith, and Christian Morality, which are there treated in a manner very clear for the Instructi­on of Youth, moving for the Conversion of Sinners, and extreme usefull for the Edification of the Just, if they will follow the light and means, which are therein suggested to them, that they may advance in Piety by the frequent and worthy use of the Sacraments of Penance, and the Eucharist.

  • I. Charmeluc.
  • B. Le Blond.
  • J. Jollain.

The Division of the Instruction con­cerning Penance. Pag. 1.

  • PART I. COntaining an Exhortation to a true Conversion and amendment of Life. Pag. 2.
  • PART II. Of Contrition, the first part of Penance. Pag. 21.
  • PART III. Of Confession. Pag. 97.
  • [Page]PART IV. Of Satisfaction. Pag. 151.
  • PART V. Of the preservation of Grace after Confession against relapse into Sin. Pag. 187.
  • An Examen of Conscience. Ʋpon the Commandments of God and the Church. and upon the Seven Capital Sins. Pag. 229.

A Table of the CHAPTERS.

Of Instruction concerning Penance, and the means to return to God by a true Conversion.


  • COntaining an Exhortation to a true Conver­sion and amendment of life. Pag. 2.
  • Chap. 1. An Exhortation, which God made to men and particularly to Young People to return to him by Penance. Pag. 3.
  • Chap. 2. Reflections upon the said Exhortation; and first upon the matter therein contain'd. Pag. 5.
  • Chap. 3. The Second Reflection, upon the Goodness of God, in Exhorting us himself to our Conver­sion. Pag. 6.
  • [Page]Chap. 4. The Third Reflection, upon the Injury which those do, who refuse to be Converted, or deferr their Conversion. Pag. 8.
  • Chap. 5. The Fourth Reflection, upon God's Anger against those, who refuse to yield to these Exhor­tations. Pag. 12.
  • Chap. 6. Of the great Punishment which God lays upon those, who refuse or deferr their Conversion. Pag. 15.
  • Chap. 7. The Conclusion of the Exhortation. Pag. 19.


  • OF Contrition. Pag. 21.
  • Chap. 1. What we are obliged to do in Virtue of the precedent Exhortation. Ibid.
  • Chap. 2. What Penance is. Pag. 23.
  • Chap. 3. What Contrition is. Pag. 26.
  • Chap. 4. Of the qualities or Conditions which true Contrition ought to have. Pag. 29.
  • Chap. 5. Of Perfect and imperfect Contrition. Pag. 34.
  • Chap. 6. Of the means to obtain Contrition. Pag. 38.
  • Chap. 7. Of the first means to obtain Contrition, which is threefold, Avoiding Sin, Works of Pe­nance, and Prayer. Pag. 40.
  • Chap. 8. Of the Motives of Contrition, and first of the grievousness of Sin. Pag. 43.
  • Chap. 9. Of the same Subject, of the grievousness of Sin. Pag. 46.
  • Chap. 10. A further illustration of the grievousness of Sin. Pag. 49.
  • Chap. 11. Of the deplorable effects of Mortal Sin, to discover better the grievousness thereof. Pag. 53.
  • Art. 1. Of the death of the Soul, or the sad effects which Sin produces in his Soul who commits it. Pag. 54.
  • [Page]Art. 2. Of the effects of Sin in Heaven and upon Earth. Pag. 60.
  • Art. 3. Of the effects of Sin in Hell. Pag. 64.
  • Art. 4. A continuation of the same Subject. Pag. 67.
  • The Conclusion of this Article of the pains of Hell. Pag. 75.
  • Art. 5. Of the effects which Sin produces in respect of God himself. Pag. 78.
  • Art. 6. Of the effects of Sin in the Person of Jesus Christ. Pag. 81.
  • Chap. 12. The practice of Contrition upon the prece­dent Motives. Pag. 87.
  • Chap. 13. Of Examples of Penance taken out of Holy Writ. Pag. 89.


  • OF the Treatise of Penance, which is Confes­sion. Pag. 97.
  • Chap. 1. Of the Institution and necessity of Con­fession. ibid.
  • Chap. 2. What Sacramental Confession is. Pag. 99.
  • Chap. 3. Of the Conditions necessary for a good Con­fession. Pag. 102.
  • Chap. 4. Of the defects in Confession. Pag. 104.
  • Chap. 5. Of the Conditions necessary to make the Con­fession entire. Pag. 107.
  • Chap. 6. An observable Advice concerning the Num­ber of Sins. Pag. 109.
  • Chap. 7, An observable Advice concerning the Cir­cumstances of Sins. Pag. 112.
  • Chap. 8. How great an evil it is to conceal a Mortal Sin in Confession. Pag. 115.
  • Chap. 9. Of the Preparation for Confession, or the Examen of Conscience. Pag. 123.
  • [Page]Chap. 10. Of the distinction which must be made be­twixt Mortal and Venial Sin. Pag. 126.
  • Chap. 11. Of the Confession of Venial Sins. Pag. 128.
  • Chap. 12. Of Interiour and Exteriour Sins, or of the Sins of Thought, and Action. Pag. 132.
  • Chap. 13. Of the Sins of Action and Omission. Pag. 134.
  • Chap. 14. Of the Sins of Ignorance, Passion, and Malice. Pag. 136.
  • Art. 1. Of the Sins of Ignorance. Pag. 137.
  • Art. 2. Of the Sins of Frailty or of Passion. Pag. 139.
  • Art. 3. Of the Sins of Malice. Pag. 141.
  • Art. 4. Of the Sins which spring from Vitious Ha­bits. Pag. 144.
  • Chap. 15. Of the Sins, that are committed by Error or by Doubt. Pag. 146.
  • Chap. 16. Of the Sins which we commit in others. Pag. 148.


  • OF the Treatise of Penance, which is of Satis­faction. Pag. 151.
  • Chap. 1. What Satisfaction is. ibid.
  • Chap. 2. That God pardoning the Sin obliges to a Temporal punishment. Pag. 152.
  • Chap. 3. Excellent Reasons out of the Council of Trent to shew why God, remitting the Sin by Penance, obliges the penitent Sinner to a Temporal punishment. Pag. 156.
  • Chap. 4. Wherein Satisfaction consists, and whether it be essential to the Sacrament of Penance. Pag. 159.
  • Chap. 5. Of the Conditions which Satisfaction ought to have on behalf of the Ghostly Father. Pag. 161.
  • Chap. 6. Of the Conditions of Satisfaction in respect of the Penitent. Pag. 167.
  • [Page]Chap. 7. Of the Works which may be enjoined for Pe­nance. Pag. 172.
  • Chap. 8. That the Penitent, who truly desires to work his Salvation, ought not to content himself with the Penance enjoined him in the Sacrament, but he ought to perform others, and how. Pag. 175.
  • Chap. 9. Of Sacramental Absolution; what it is, wherein it consists, and what are its effects. Pag. 178.
  • Chap. 10. Of the dispositions necessary to receive Absolution, and of the cases wherein it ought to be denied or deferr'd. Pag. 179.
  • Chap. 11. Of the Choice of a Confessor. Pag. 182.


  • OF the Preservation of Grace after Confession, against relapse into Sin. Pag. 187.
  • Chap. 1. Of the importance of this Subject. Ibid.
  • Chap. 2. How the relapse into Sin is a very great Evil. Pag. 190.
  • Chap. 3. Of three great indignities, which occur in the Sin of relapse, the Ingratitude, the Perfidiousness, and the Contempt of God. Pag. 192.
  • Chap. 4. That those, who relapse frequently into their Sins, have reason to dread their Salvation. Pag. 196.
  • Chap. 5. A further Confirmation of this truth from other proofs, and first from the uncertainty of their Confessions, who relapse frequently into their Sins. Pag. 201.
  • Chap. 6. An excellent Advertisement of St Gregory, concerning the false Repentance of those, who relapse into their former Sins. Pag. 205.
  • Chap. 7. That by relapsing into Sin we lose great part [Page]of the fruit of our precedent good Confessions. Pag. 207.
  • Chap. 8. That by frequent relapse into Sin, one always falls into a worse condition then before. Pag. 209.
  • Chap. 9. That frequent relapse into Sin leads to final Impenitence and to an Evil death, or to dye in mor­tal Sin. Pag. 212.
  • Chap. 10. Of the remedies against relapse into Sin. Pag. 216.
  • Chap. 11. Of the means which Penitents ought to observe to avoid any relapse into Sin. Pag. 224.

A Table of Sins, or an Examen of Conscience upon the Commandments of Gods Law, and of the Church, and upon the Seven Deadly Sins. Pag. 229.

  • The Examen upon the first Commandment. Pag. 230.
  • The Sins against Faith. Ibid.
  • The Sins against Hope. Pag. 234.
  • The Sins against Charity. Pag. 236.
  • The Sins against the Virtue of Religion. Pag. 238.
  • The Sins against the care we ought to have of our Salvation. Pag. 241.
  • The Examen upon the Second Command­ment. Pag. 244.
  • The Examen upon the Third Command­ment. Pag. 247.
  • The Examen upon the Fourth Command­ment. Pag. 249.
  • The Examen upon the Fifth Command­ment. Pag. 254.
  • The Examen upon the Sixth Command­ment. Pag. 255.
  • The Examen upon the Seventh Command­ment. Pag. 259.
  • The Examen upon the Eighth Command­ment. Pag. 261.
  • The Examen upon the 9. & 10. Command­ment. Pag. 264.
  • The Examen upon the precepts of the Church. Pag. 265.
  • The Examen concerning the Seven Deadly Sins. Pag. 266.
  • Of the Sin of Pride. Ibid.
  • Of Covetousness, Luxury and Sloth. Pag. 270.
  • Of Gluttony. Ibid.
  • Of Envy. Pag. 271.
  • [Page]Of the Sin of Anger. Pag. 272.
  • The Examen of the Sins which one commits by another. Pag. 274.
  • The Examen of the Sins of Students. Pag. 279.

A TABLE of the Parts and Chapters, contained in the Instruction concerning the Holy Communion.

  • THe Preface. Pag. 281.
  • Of the necessity of this Instruction, and the order observed therein. ibid.
  • The Division of the Treatise. Pag. 282.

The First Part. Pag. 283.

  • Of the Doctrine, that is to say, of the Truths it im­ports us to know concerning the Sacrament of the Eucharist. ibid.
  • Chap. 1. Of Faith. Pag. 284.
  • Quest. 1. What is it that we are obliged to know con­cerning Faith in general? Pag. 285.
  • Qu. 2. What is Faith? ibid.
  • Qu. 3. Who is the Author of Faith? ibid.
  • Qu. 4. What is the Action, Object, and Motive of Faith? Pag. 286.
  • Qu. 5. By what ways it hath pleas'd God to convey these Truths unto us? ibid.
  • Qu. 6. What is the Rule of Faith? Pag. 287.
  • Qu. 7. What Qualities or Conditions ought our Faith to have? Pag. 291.
  • Chap. 2. Of the things we are obliged to believe. Pag. 294.
  • Art. 1. What are we obliged to believe of God? Pag. 295.
  • Art. 2. What are we obliged to believe of Jesus Christ? Pag. 296.
  • Qu. 1. What is Jesus Christ? ibid.
  • Qu. 2. Why was he made man? Pag. 297.
  • [Page]Qu. 3. In what doth the Incarnation consist? ibid.
  • Qu. 4. How was this Divine Ʋnion accomplish'd? Pag. 298.
  • Qu. 5. What is it that the Son of God hath done for our Redemption? Pag. 299.
  • Art. 3. What are we obliged to believe concerning the Church? Pag. 300.
  • Art. 4. What are we obliged to believe concerning the Sacraments? Pag. 303.
  • Chap. 3. Of the Holy Eucharist. Pag. 306.
  • Art. 1. Of the real prefence of the Son of God in the Eucharist, and of what we are to believe concerning this Sacrament. Pag. 307.
  • Art. 2. Of the Wonders which occur in this Saera­ment. Pag. 309.
  • Art. 3. Of the Effects of the Holy Eucharist. Pag. 311.
  • Art. 4. Of the Dispositions required to Communicate well and as we ought. Pag. 314.
  • Art. 5. Of an unworthy Communion. Pag. 316.
  • Of the Damages which follow from an unworthy Com­munion. Pag. 320.
  • Art. 6. Of the end we ought to propose to our selves in the Holy Communion. Pag. 322.


  • OF the Practice of Communion, or what we must do to Communicate well, and as we ought. Pag. 325.
  • Chap. 1. Of Faith in as much as it serves for Com­munion. Pag. 326.
  • Art. 1. How necessary it is, and in what manner. Ib.
  • Art. 2. That to Communicate well it is not sufficient to have Faith, but we must practice the acts thereof, and how profitable they are in Communion. Pag. 327.
  • [Page]Art. 3. The Practice of the acts of Faith for Communion. Pag. 331.
  • An Act of Faith upon the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Pag. 332.
  • Ʋpon the wonders which occur in the Blessed Sacra­ment. Pag. 333.
  • Ʋpon the effects which the Holy Eucharist is capable to produce in the Soul. Pag. 335.
  • Chap. 2. Of Hope, the second disposition for Com­munion. Pag. 339.
  • Art. 1. What is Hope? ibid.
  • Art. 2. Of the good which we expect by Hope. Pag. 341.
  • Art. 3. That it is necessary to distinguish well betwixt True and False, Good and Bad Hope. Pag. 344.
  • Art. 4. Of the great Blessings which Hope derives upon us. Pag. 347.
  • Art. 5. That the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist is of great use to fortify and augment Hope, the Virtue, in us. Pag. 351.
  • Art. 6. That the Practice of Hope is a good and great disposition to the Holy Communion. Pag. 354.
  • Art. 7. The practice of the Acts of Hope for Com­munion. Pag. 355.
  • The practice of Hope before Communion. Ibid.
  • After Communion. Pag. 358.
  • Chap. 3. Of Charity the Third disposition for the worthy receiving the Blessed Sacrament. Pag. 361.
  • Art. 1. How necessary Charity is, and how much is requir'd to Communicate well, and as we ought. ibid
  • Art. 2. That we must have a speciall care to distin­guish false Charity from true. Pag. 364.
  • Art. 3. What is Charity? Pag. 366.
  • Art. 4. Of the motives of the love of God. Pag. 369.
  • Art. 4. Of other particular motives of the love of God drawn from the Blessed Sacrament. Pag. 371.
  • [Page]Art. 6. The practice of the Acts of Charity before Communion. Pag. 374.
  • After Communion. Pag. 376.
  • Acts of love towards Jesus Christ. Pag. 378.
  • An Offering to Jesus Christ. Pag. 379.
  • A Prayer to Jesus Christ. Pag. 380.
  • Art. 7. Advices concerning the precedent practices of Faith, Hope and Charity. Pag. 381.
  • Art. 8. Another advice of Prayer to the blessed Vir­gin before and after Communion. Pag. 382.
  • A Prayer to the Blessed Virgin before Communion. Pag. 383.
  • After Communion. Pag. 384.
  • A Prayer to the Blessed Virgin after Communion. Pag. 385.
  • Art. 9. How it is fit we should spend the day of our Communion. Pag. 386.
  • Art. 10. Of frequent Communion. Pag. 388.
  • Art. 11. When and how often we ought to Commu­nicate? Pag. 393.
  • An advice of great Importance, Pag. 395.

Proverb I.

SApientia foris praedicat, in plateis dat vocem suam: in capite tur­barum clamitat, in foribus portarum urbis profert verba sua dicens:

Ʋsquequo parvuli diligitis infanti­am? Et stulti, ea quae sunt noxia, cupient, & imprudentes odibunt scientiam?

Convertimini ad correptionem meam: en proferam vobis spiritum meum & ostendam vobis verba mea.

Instruction concerning Penance; And the means to return to God by a true Conversion.
I shall divide this Instruction into Five Parts.

THe First shall Contain an Exhortation to him, who is in Mortal Sin, to return to God by Penance, and by serious amendment of his Life.

The Second shall treat of Contrition, which is the first part of Penance: of the Motives which may raise it, and of the means to obtain it.

The Third shall be of Confession, and the Principal things that ought to be observed therein.

The Fourth shall give Instructions concerning Satisfaction, and the Works of Penance, which ought to be performed for Sins past.

In the Fifth, we shall speak against the relapse into Sin: Of its ill and dangerous consequen­ces: Of the means to avoid that dreadfull Rock, where the greatest part of the World are Shipwrackt, and unfortunately lost. We shall adjoyn at the End a General Examen of all Sins.


Containing an Exhortation to a true Conversion and Amendment of Life.

ALL that we have spoken in the first part of the Instruction of Youth, is a continual exhortation to young people to live virtu­ously during the time of their youth; and correct their lives by Penance, if they shall be alrea­dy engaged in Sin, as it happens but too frequently. This is the cause, why it is not at all necessary to stop here, to exhort them to think seriously of their Conversion, and Salvation: and that it will be suf­ficient to send them back to the reading of that first part.

This is the reason, dear Theotime, why, if you be touched with a desire to consider seriously of the Salvation of your Soul, I beseech and conjure you [Page 3]to read that part of your instruction, and to weigh attentively the reasons, and motives, which I have brought to perswade, and convince you of the great obligation you have to apply your self to virtue in your tender years: I am confident that if you poise them well, and with that serious attenti­on the matter doth deserve, you will be convinc'd, and conclude with your self thus; It is true, I ought to think of my Salvation, from the very mo­ment that I desire to return to God, to change my life, and labour earnestly for my conversion.

And to the end you may be more firmly fixed in this resolution, and may perform it with more constancy, and without any wavering, I shall pro­pose here an exhortation, which God himself hath made you, that so I may the better remove from you all resistance, and delay in a business so impor­tant and necessary for your good, to which you are exhorted by the voice of God himself.

CHAP. I. An Exhortation which God made to Men, and parti­cularly to Young People, to return to him by Penance.

IT is in the first Chapter of the book of Proverbs, which was dictated by the Holy Ghost chiefly for the instruction of young persons, where the divine wisdom speaks in this manner. Give ear, Theotime, to the voice of God, who addresses himself to you, and comprehend well, what he shall say unto you.

O Children, how long will you love infancy, and fools covet those things that are hurtfull, and unwise hate knowledge? Turn at my correction, behold I will utter my mind to you, and make you understand my words. Be­cause I called, and you refused; I have stretch'd out mine hand, and there was none that regarded. But you have despised all my Councells, and neglected my reprehensions. I will also Laugh at your destruction, and mock, when that shall come to you, which you fear'd; when sudden Calamity shall fall on you, and destruction, as a Tempest, shall be at hand, when tribulation and distress shall come upon you.

Then shall they call upon me, and I will not hear, they shall seek me early, and shall not find me: because they have hated knowledge, and not received the fear of our Lord, nor consented to my counsell, but despised all my correction. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own ways, and be filled with their own devices. The a­version of little ones shall kill them, and the Prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But he, who shall hear me, shall rest without terrour, and shall enjoy abundance, fear of evills being taken away.

Hitherto are the words of God, which call men to their Conversion, and which press men to think on their Salvation. But I beseech you Theotime, be not satisfied with once reading them, offer not such an affront to the Speech, which God himself has made you, as to pass it over so slightly; but read it often, till you have perfectly understood it, and deeply printed it in your mind, and heart. Desist not from reading, untill you are resolved to obey, and perform what it requires; and to the end it may make a greater impression, and produce more plentifull fruit in your mind, read also these fol­lowing reflections.

CHAP. II. Reflections upon the Precedent Exhortation, and First upon the things, which it contains.

IF you consider well this divine exhortation, you shall find, that it contains five parts.

In the first, Almighty God, that he might make you reflect upon your self, gives you an amorous re­proach of your blindness, which moves you to run after your own destruction, and shews you, that you act not like a man, but like a child, one unwise and in a frenzy.

2ly. He exhorts you with a fatherly, and admira­ble goodness to depart from your blindness, and return to him by a true conversion.

3ly. Because you have heretofore sometimes re­sisted his divine admonitions, and interiour motions of his grace, he threatens you with his anger, and severest indignation, if you continue to despise his bounty.

4ly. He foretells the sad misfortunes, which shall befall you in punishment of your obdurateness: The only reading whereof is sufficient to make you tremble, and quake, with horror, and apprehension. In fine, He opposes to these misfortunes the favours, and blessings, which he heaps upon those, who hear­ken to his voice, and follow his admonitions, & live according to his holy will.

Weigh well, dear Theotime, all these things one after another, they are of great importance to you, if you regard them as in themselves; but more, if you consider them as they are propos'd by All­mighty God, and in his own proper words.

CHAP. III. The Second Reflection upon the Goodness of God in Exhorting us himself to our Conversion.

COnsider first, and weigh attentively, that God who invites you to return unto him by repen­tance, and a holy life, is he himself, whom you have most greivously offended, by neglecting his friend­ship, loosing his grace, & incurring his indignation. To God you are become an Enemy by your Sin, and he might justly destroy you for evermore. Yet never­theless he is the first that invites you to be recon­cil'd unto him, and urges you to return into his favour. He himself seeks after you, he prevents and exhorts you to reconcile your self unto him; and this moves you not at all!

Seek amongst men an example like this, of one, who being offended, goes to meet his Enemy and in­vites him to a reconciliation, and you shall not find any: And this example of God himself, who does in­finitely greater things for your sake, does not move you, so as to make you return unto him. Is this pos­sible? can there be an obdurateness like this?

But consider in the second place, the quality and greatness of the Person, who Exhorts you to return unto him, and enter again into his favour; which is no less then that of God himself. God who is infinite in Greatness, Power, and Majesty, before whom all the Grandeurs of the World are but dust and ashes: who makes the powers of Heaven and Pillars of the Firmament to tremble. This God, so great, so powerfull, doth humble himself so far, as to go and meet a wretched creature, an ungratefull and re­bellious [Page 7]man; who hath forgotten the favours of his Creator, despised his commands, and lost his friendship: this God seeks for such a man even in the bottom of the abiss, the state of mortal Sin, wherein he is, to exhort him to come forth, and offers him his hand to withdraw him from that mis­fortune: yet this insensible creature hearkens not at all, choosing rather to continue in his misery, then give ear to the voice of God, that would deli­ver him. This is you your self, Theotime, who treat in this manner almighty God, when you refuse to obey his voice, who calls you to your Conversion. If a King should shew such bounty towards a criminal, and that miserable creature should refuse the favour of his Prince, would it not be, a thing without ex­ample, and would not men say, that he had lost both his sense and reason? what ought you not to say, and judge of your self, who perform the same in re­spect of God?

Thirdly, if God did receive any benefit by your Conversion, this might something (tho' but little) diminish the esteem, which we ought to have for that excessive bounty, which he manifests by seeking us first. But the truth is, he can receive no advantage, for all that he seeks is your good, and not his own: He will not be more happy, when you shall be sav'd; nor less blessed; if you shall be damn­ed; for he is glorify'd as well by the actions of his justice, as by those of his mercy, Quid prodest Deo si justus fueris aut quid ei confers si immaculata fuerit via tua? what profit, saith Job, doth God receive from thy justice, or what advantage doth thy holy life yield un­to him? Job 22. All the advantage is to your self, and not to him; it is your happiness, and not his. It is true, he takes a great pleasure in shewing his mer­cy, [Page 8]and exercising his bounty towards those, who make not themselves unworthy of his favours: but then it is also most certain, that he is glorify'd by the punishment of the wicked. This is that which he himself hath declared by his Prophet Moyses, to his people of Israel. As our Lord, saith he, hath be­fore rejoyced upon you, doing good to you, and multiply­ing you, so he shall rejoyce, destroying and subverting you. Deut. 28.63.

Is it not then a strange blindness to resist the voice of God, who seeks after us out of his pure bounty, and for our only good? What can we say of our selves, Theotime, if we are so obdurate and in­sensible in the concern of our Salvation? Doubtless there is great reason to cry out with St. Hierome, O clementia Dei! O nostra duritia! dum post tanta sce­dera nos hortatur ad poenitentiam, & nec sic quidem vo­lumus ad meliora converti. O the meekness of God! and the hardness of humane heart! since after so many offen­ces his mercy exhorts us to repentance, and yet our heart is so obdurate, that it refuses to submit to the word of God, and be converted.

CHAP. IV. The Third Reflection upon the Injury which those do who refuse to be Converted, or defer their Con­version.

AS the Bounty of God towards Sinners seems not to be able to advance farther then to court and seek after their friendship; so the wickedness of man cannot reach to an higher pitch, or do a greater injury to God, then by despising and neglecting the wonderfull goodness he manifests in this occasion.

That we may rightly apprehend the greatness of this injury we shall make a small reflection upon the actions of God towards man, and upon the actions of man towards God.

The Divine Bounty performs that to man, which man denies to his fellow-Servant. It may sometimes happen, that the offender begs pardon of the offen­ded, submissively request a reconciliation, and a restitution to his favour; but upon what extrinsick Motives, proceeds this chance-acknowledgment of a fault, will easily appear; as either he is an Infe­rior, and may justly expect the ill consequences of prejudiced Power; or that an after thought fears a revenge from the provoked; or that Interest con­sulted, he seeks how advantageous his friendship may be for the future; or some like reason brings him to this act of a specious humility: But that a person, by his Inferior, nay and even his Crea­ture, most heinously offended against the strictest tyes of humanity and gratitude, and from whom he can neither expect a favour, nor fear an In­jury; as for example a Master, Superior, King or Benefactor; That this Person seek his friendship, by whom he had been grie­vously offended; This is that, which one man never performs to another: Yet this is that which God performs towards man, viz. a Ma­ster towards his Servant, a King towards his Sub­ject, a Judge towards his Criminal; and, that I may comprize all in one word, God toward his Rebel­lious and Ungratefull Creature. And in this he ma­nifests unto the world a goodness and love which only appertains unto himself. In hoc est charitas quo­niam ipse prior dilexit nos. 1. Joh. 4. It was in this point, saith St. John, that God made appear his [Page 10]goodness in loving us first, and even then, saith St. Paul, when we were his Enemies he reconciled us unto his friendship. Rom. 5. Was there ever any Bounty like unto this? See here how God behaves himself towards man in this occasion. Let us now see how man comports himself towards God.

You understand, Theotime, very well, what his duty is; it is, without doubt, to yield himself conquer'd by this admirable Love; and to cast himself into the arms of this infinite goodness, which invites him so amorously to receive him in­to his favour: But stand astonished at both his and your own actions after so long entreaty.

This God, whom you have grievously offended, seeks after you first, and exhorts you to return unto him, offering you pardon for your Sins. This God so great and so powerfull, who hath no need of you in any thing, invites you, and en­treats you to return unto his favour. He who can raise as much Glory to himself from your Dam­nation, in punishing you by his justice, as he shall receive from your Salvation, by making you par­take of his mercy. Yet nevertheless out of the sole desire, which he hath of your happiness, he abaseth himself even to invite, and urge you to your Con­version, and you will not hearken to him at all; you refuse, or defer to follow the invitation of his love, and perform what he requires of you for your own good. Can there be an affront like unto this?

Job in his miseries complained that even his Servants themselves did not regard him, and that they insolently scoft at the requests which he made them. Servum meum vocavi & non respondit mihi: ore proprio deprecavi illum. Job. 10. Judge [Page 11]then how God may blame you, and what com­plaints he will make of you, when you continue in your wicked life, and defer to obey his admo­nitions: will not he have reason to make the same complaint as he did in times past of the Jews? I have stretched forth my hands, saith he, towards that incredulous, and always rebellious people, which re­sists my words. Isai. 65. Tota die expandi manus meas ad populum incredulum. That which a Master will not do in respect of his Servant, which is a man like himself, God performs in regard of you, and you take no notice of it: but to speak plainer, God performs that for your sake, which a Servant would scarce do for his Master; he seeks you, as if he had need of you; he sollicites you, as if he had a want of you. O divine Love, when I con­sider thee, I cannot but exclaim according to the expression of an Author of these latter days.

O amor, O pietas nostris bene provida rebus!
O bonitas servi facta ministra tui! Picus Mirand.

O Love, O piety of God, who hast so great a care of our Salvation! O goodness how great art thou, that makest thy self a Servant of thy Servants!

But converting our consideration to our own obdurateness and ingratitude, and to the contempt we have of thee, I deplore our misery with the words of the same Author.

O amor, O pietas nostris male cognita seclis!
O bonitas nostris nunc prope victa malis.

O Divine Love, O goodness, how little art thou reflected upon in our age! O bounty, it is true that thou art infinite, yet our Sins are become so great, that we have much reason to fear lest they should furmount thy goodness, and oblige thee to withdraw thy Mercy from us.

CHAP. V. The Fourth Reflection upon Gods anger, against those, who refuse to yield to these Exhortations.

THe injury of this refusal being such as I have said, or rather above all that we can think or imagine, it is certain that it highly moves Gods anger against those, who render themselves guilty: Quanta est haec injuria & quam graviter pu­nienda: cum vilissimus vermis clamantem ad se audire dedignatur creatorem? St. Bern. Sec. 23. de diversis. How great is this injury (saith St. Bernard) and what Chastizements ought it not to expect: when wretched man, who is less than a little worm of the Earth, is so impudent, as to refuse to hearken to the voice of his Cre­ator, who speaks to him for his Salvation.

Without doubt this refusal doth greatly pro­voke the anger of Almighty God, as it is a contempt of his divine words and admonitions: of all inju­ries, contempt is the most insupportable; and of all contempts there is none greater, then that by which one refuses a reconciliation with their So­vereign; principally when he offers himself, and expresses his desire: what will then the contempt be, which one shews on this occasion towards Al­mighty God himself?

He that would Seriously consider of it, would soon perceive how injurious and affrontive it is to Almighty God, and how much it provokes the in­dignation of God against those who render them­selves guilty: but that I may make you more clearly discern it, I shall give you here the judg­ment of God himself upon this subject, which he [Page 13]hath declared in many places of the Scripture; reade and consider well that which followeth.

In the 65. Chapter of Isaias God numbers up all the iniquities of his People, and after he had re­proached their enormous ingratitude, he saith, he will destroy them for all their crimes, and particu­larly, because they had contemned those mild ex­hortations, which he had so often made them for their conversion and Salvation. And you who have for­saken the Lord, who have forgotten my holy Mount, I will number you in the Sword, and you shall all fall by Slaughter, because I have called, and you have not an­swered, I spake, and you have not heard, and you did evil in mine eyes, and you have chosen the things that I would not, Isa. 65.’

In the following Chapter he repeats the same menaces, where he saith, that as the wicked take a delight in the things that displease him, so he will take a pleasure in bringing upon them all the evils that they feared; and then adds the reason, I have called and there was none that would answer, I have spoken and they heard not. Isai. 66.’

He speaks more effectually in the 7th Chapter of the Prophet Jeremy. ‘And now because you have done all these works, and I have spoken to you early rising, and speaking you have not heard: and I have called, and you have not answered: I will do to this house, wherein my name is invocated, and wherein you have confidence, and to the place, which I have given to you, and your Fathers, as I did to Silo: and I will cast you away from my face, as I have cast away all your Bre­thren, the whole seed of Ephraim. Jer. 7.’

And to shew how great his Indignation was a­gainst that people for contemning his sayings, and the exhortations which he had so often made them [Page 14]for their Conversion, he forbids his Prophet to pray for them, and to oppose himself by his pray­ers to the Design he had to punish them, and re­venge himself of them. Tu ergo noli Orare pro popu­lo hoc: nec assumas pro eis laudem & Orationem, neque obsistas mihi: quia non exaudiam te. Thou therefore pray not for this People, neither take unto thee Praise and prayer for them, and resist me not, because I will not hear thee.

Could God give a greater mark of his indigna­tion against them who refuse to be converted, then is express'd in those Words, since he refuses that o­thers should appease him by their prayers, by which they would endeavour to hinder the execution of his justice?

But if his anger were so high, against the Jews for this reason, how can we expect it should be less against Christians, & against us our selves, Theotime, who contemn no less his divine grace, and who continue in our disordered lives, and in our Sins after so many exhortations, and admonitions to leave them? This is the reflection which St. Hie­rome made upon this place, which we ought to con­sider and keep well in minde. Viz. that all that which God there spoke to the People of the Jews, ought to be understood of us, if we commit the same faults that the Jews did: Quidquid illi populo dicitur, intelli­gamus & de nobis si similia fecerimus. St. Hier. in c. 7. Jerem.’

CHAP. VI. Of the Great Punishment which God lays upon those, who refuse or defer their Conversion.

ALL the Passages which I have brought, do sufficiently shew, the heavy Chastisement which God sends to those, that contemn him in that manner: The Scripture contains a vast number of others. But we need not seek farther, then in this Exhortation of God, which we have spoken of above. Learn from God himself, what you ought to fear, and the misfortunes that will befall you, if you re­sist any longer the desire he hath of your Salvation.

The punishments are contained in these words. Ego vero in interitu tuo ridebo, & subsannabo vos. I will laugh at your Destruction, and mock at you: words full of terrour, which ought to make all those trem­ble, who are in mortal Sin. Dicat nunc qualiter fe­riat, quos ad se nullatenus revertentes tanta longanimi­tate sustentat. St. Greg. lib 18. moralium c. 7. It is for those, according to the advice of St. Gregory, to learn hence from the mouth of God himself, in what manner he will punish those, whose conversion he hath ex­pected a long time, without any effect on their part.

By these words God threatens to revenge him­self of those at the hour of their death, who conti­nue in their sins; to punish their wicked life with an unfortunate end, and treat them at that last hour, as they have dealt with him during their life. Is not this most just and reasonable? They abandon'd God during their Life, and God abandons them at the hour of their death. They refuse to hearken, when he speaks, and moves them to their Salvation; [Page 16]they contemn his admonitions, and will give ear to nothing, but their own Passions, and follow no­thing but their pleasures: They perform all their actions, as if they Mocked God; and God by a just but dreadfull punishment will act in respect of them as a provok'd Enemy, who Scoff's at his Conquer'd Foes, and Insults over their utmost miseries, with which he sees them overwhelmed.

He will behold them Surprized with some dread­full accident, or a mortal Agony which in a small time will carry them away: He will see them Searching all means to Escape, Overwhelmed with griefs; troubled with fear and trembling; tor­mented with the Remorse of their guilty Consci­ences; calling to him for their Succour and Deli­verance; but he will not hearken at all: He will become Deaf to their Prayers as they would not give ear to his admonitions: He will not hearken to their desires for their deliverance, as they would not hearken to his advices for their Salvation: He will not give them time for repentance, being they refused it when it was in their power, and when they were exhorted by God himself. Thus will they dye Miserably, seeing themselves constrained to abandon a mortal Life, with all the Pleasures which they lov'd more then either God, or their Salvation, to go and begin an Eternal Death; where for fleeting Pleasures they shall find immortal tor­ments, and an infinity of evils, which shall never end.

It is thus, Theotime, that God shall treat those who contemn his Favours, and refuse to hearken to his Voice, when he invites them to their Salvation; and thus will he punish them always; and that you may better comprehend this Chastizement of God, take notice of three great evils which compose it.

The First is an unprovided death, which he will send to those, that are impenitent, when they shall least expect it. Cum irruerit repentina calamitas, & interitus quasi tempestas, ingruerit.

The Second is an oppression of grief, and an­guishes in that dreadfull surprise, pains of Body and Senses, anguishes of Soul and Conscience: this is that, which is signified by those words of God, Cum irruerit super vos tribulatio & angustia.

The Third, which is the most dreadfull, is God's forsaking them in that last and deplorable extre­mity; a forsaking so great, that he will never more hearken to their prayers and crys, as he him­self saith in the following words, tunc invocabunt me & non exaudiam, &c.

And all these miseries will befall them in punish­ment of their obstinacy in their Sins, and refusal to be converted. Eo quod exosam habuerint discipli­nam, & sermonem Domini non receperint, &c.

I would to God, Theotime, this chastisement were as rare, as it is frightfull and terrible. But it happens too often by a deplorable misfor­tune, and is but a just effect of the divine justice, which frequently puts in Execution his threats against those, who so often contemn his holy in­spirations.

All the Christians, who are either dead, or dayly dye in Mortal Sin, (of whom the multitude is in­numerable) are witnesses of this truth; All those to wit, who are surprized by unexpected acci­dents, either of sickness, wherein they dye with­out Confession; or Confess, but in haste, without necessary dispositions: or having time to Confess, defer it to the last extremity of their sickness, be­ing more taken up with the grief and apprehen­sion [Page 18]of death, then moved with the thought of their Salvation and Conversion: Or else also those, who confess themselves in due time, yet have no true sorrow for their sins; but are sorry rather by reason of the Evils, that surround them, then upon any motive of the Fear, or Love of God; these also, altho' they have all the exteriour marks of true Penitents, as having duly performed all the exte­riour acts of Penance; (which makes us believe that they are truly Converted, and departed in the grace of God) Yet, in effect, they shall be damned for ever.

In fine, Theotime, it cannot be denied, but that there are a great number of Christians Damned: It is also most certain, that this doth not happen, but because they have not done true Penance for their Sins before their death: and why have they not done it? Except it were that death suprized them in the state of sin; and did not give them time, or means to do Penance, or at least perform it, as they ought. But how happened it, that they were so surprized? unless it were, that, by the just judgment of God, those menaces were executed a­gainst them, wherewith he so often threatned to punish their hard and obdurate hearts: by supri­sing them, when they thought the least of it, and abandoning them at the hour of their death.

O Theotime, they must be extremely deaf, and in a deep Lethargy, who are not awakened with these Thunder-claps: and they must be very in­fensible not to fear the dreadfull effects of these menaces of Almighty God; which happen dayly to many of the World. Be afraid then, and ap­prehend the severity of all misfortunes, that may attend you. That which happens unto many, may [Page 19]perhaps happen unto you; and if it should befall you, in what condition would you remain for all Eternity?

CHAP. VII. The Conclusion of this Exhortation.

AS this great Exhortation comes from God himself; it is proper also, that he himself should give us the Conclusion, and that we should learn from him, what we ought to conclude, and perform, after we have heard his voice, that calls us to our Salvation. We shall learn it from the Apostle St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews, 3. Chapter, where he exhorts the Christians, not to be rebellious to the voice of God, and not to imitate the obdurateness and rebellion of the Jews, which God punished so rigorously: Hearken then to his words, and his conclusion: Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith) to day if you shall hear my Voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, according to the day of the temptation in the Wilderness, where your fathers tempted me. Heb. 3.’

He pursues and urges strongly this advice, as well in this Chapter, as in the following; where he shews, that the Jews were not rejected of God, but for their incredulity, and resistance, that they made to his words. To whom did he swear, that they should not enter into his rest, but unto them that o­beyed not? so that we see, that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Heb. 3.18.’

He adds afterwards, how the Christians ought to fear the like Chastisement: Let us therefore fear, [Page 20](says the Apostle) lest at any time by forsaking the promise of entring into his rest, any of you should seem to be deprivedLet us therefore study to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of incredulity. Heb. 4.’

And about the End of this Epistle, in the 12 Chapter, he renews again this so important an Advertisement, by these words, which ought to be engraven in all the hearts of Christians. See that you despise not him that speaketh to you; for if they escaped not, who refused him, that spake on Earth; much more shall we not escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from Heaven. Heb. 12.’

See, Theotime, the Advertisements, which the Apostle gives to all those, whom God has fa­vour'd so as to speak to them for their Salvation, and call them by his voice to their Conversion. Consider them attentively, with the reasons he al­ledgeth, and think well upon it, what you are to do. Assure your self, that it is to you that God addresses himself, when you have understood the above-mention'd pressing Exhortation, which he hath made for your Conversion. Be afear'd to fall into the dreadfull chastisements with which God hath punished the obstinacy of the Jews, and use all your endeavours to avoid them; you can­not by any other means escape them, then by se­riously complying with the desire which God hath of your Salvation, and making now a firm reso­lution to return unto him by Penance, and a per­fect change of your former life, for effecting whereof I propose the following means.

PART II. Of Contrition.

CHAP. I. What we are obliged to do in Vertue of the precedent Exhortation.

WE read in the Acts of the Apostles, that the Jews and other Inhabitants of Hieru­salem, having understood the first Sermon, which St. Peter made them of the Death and Resurrection of the Son of God, upon the day of Pentecost, were so lively touched, that they immediately de­manded what they should do to be saved. Now when they heard (saith the Scripture) this, they were moved in their hearts, and said unto Peter and the other Apostles; Men and Brethren what shall we do? The St. answered them in these terms, Do Penance, and be Baptised every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of Sins, and you shall receive the Grace of the Holy Ghost. Acts. 2.

Dear Theotime, if the words, which you have read above, (which are Gods own words, whereby he Exhorts you to treat of your Salvation) have made that impression on your mind, which they ought to make; your heart will certainly be washed with sor­row and compunction; unless you be totally obdu­rate, & more obstinate then the Jews. Now I cannot [Page 22]believe this of you; wherefore, methinks, I hear you demand of me, what must I do, that I may obey the Voice of God, and become a good and real Convert, and a true Penitent?

To which I answer with the chief of the Apo­stles, do Penance for your Sins, and receive the Sacrament, not of Baptism, since you have once received it, and it cannot without Sacrilege be repeated; but of Penance, to obtain hereby the remission of your Sins, and the Grace of the Holy Ghost, which will assist you to lead a new Life. Let us betake our selves to Holy Penance, which is a Second Baptism, a Baptism of tears and sor­row to cleanse therewith all our Sins. Baptisemus lachrimis conscientiam, qui peccatis inquinavimus Vi­tam. St. Ambr. Let us wash our Consciences with tears, who have defiled our Lives mith a great number of offences. Let us weep before God our Creator, and cast our selves into the arms of our Coelestial father, whilst yet he hath them open to receive us, and so lovingly calls us to him. Let us not delay, lest he may shut them in punishment of our in­credulity: Let us prevent his anger by having recourse unto his Mercy: and let us perform that, which the Apostle St. Peter exhorts us to do, in Conclusion of the above-mention'd admonition. Let us therefore, saith that Divine Apostle, go boldly to the Throne of Grace, that we may receive Mercy, and find Grace to help in the time of need. Heb. 4.

CHAP. II. What Penance is.

SInce we cannot return to God after Sin by any other way, but that of Penance; it imports us very much to know, what it is; and to understand well this means, which is of such importance, as that without it we can never be saved, according to that weighty sentnece of our Saviour. If you do not do Penance, you will all perish. Nisi paenitentiam habueritis, omnes simul peribitis.

This Penance so necessary may be considered two ways. As it is a Virtue, and as it is a Sacra­ment, for it includes both these excellent qualities.

First, it is one of the Christian Virtues, which hath for its object, and end, the destruction of Sin in him, that hath committed it, and the satis­faction of the divine justice by sorrow and good works.

Secondly, it is also one of the Seaven Sacra­ments of the New Law, being raised to that dig­nity by Jesus Christ, when he gave to his Apo­stles, and their Successors power to remit Sins.

As a Virtue, Divines define it thus. A Virtue or gift of God which makes us deplore and hate the sins, which we have committed, with a purpose to amend, and not offend any more for the future.

Its principal acts are Confession, Contrition, and Satisfaction.

Confession, that is a declaration or acknowledg­ment, that they have sinned before God, by which they owe themselves before him guilty, and wor­thy of punishment: it being certain that the first [Page 24]degree necessary to obtain pardon for a fault, is to acknowledge it, and declare our selves culpable. It was for this reason that David said, that he had confessed his sins before God, and had ob­tained pardon. Psal. 31.

Contrition, that is to say, a regret or sorrow for having offended God; because the declaration of the crime is not sufficient to obtain pardon; except we also testify and declare a regret and displeasure from our heart; without which it is impossible to obtain it.

Satisfaction, is a punishment which one lays on himself, to repair the injury he hath done to God by Sin, that he may more easily obtain par­don, and bear the punishment which his justice should impose: It being certain, that it is in the liberty of him, that pardons an injury, to par­don it on what condition he pleases, and reserve what punishment he shall think convenient for it. Hence it is that St. Ambrose in Psal. 37. said, that he, who does Penance, ought to offer himself to endure, and be chastised by God in this life that he may avoid eternal punishment; and St. Augustin begged of God with so much earnestness, that he would be pleased to chastise him in this world, so that he would pardon him in the next. Hic ure, hic seca, modo in aeternum parcas.

As these three acts compose the Virtue of Pe­nance, they also make the parts of the Sacrament, which Jesus Christ hath instituted upon this same Virtue. The words of this institution are these, which he spoke to his Apostles on the day of his Resurrection. Receive the Holy Ghost, whose sins you remit are remitted, and whose sins you retain are re­tained. John. 20.

By these words he hath given to the Apostles and their Successours the Power to remit, and re­tain the Sins of the faithfull; and by a necessary con­sequence he obliged the faithfull, that should fall in­to Sin, to put themselves in a state fit to receive that remission, and to have the dispositions with­out which a Sin cannot be pardon'd, neither by God nor men, which are Confession, Contrition, and Satisfaction: Confession, by which the delin­quents declare their Sins to him, who hath Power to judge, to wit, the Priest; because a judge can­not give Sentence of a Crime, if he know it not, or it be not brought before him to judge; Contrition, because a Sin cannot be remitted to him, who doth not declare some sorrow before the Judge: and Sa­tisfaction, because to receive a remission, one must be disposed to receive it upon the Conditions, that shall please him who gives it, and with that reason­able Chastizement that he shall think proper to im­pose, as is already said. So these three acts, serving as dispositions for the remission of Sin, serve also for the matter of the judgment, which the Preist makes, of the same Sin, and of absolution, which he pro­nounces in virtue of the power, which Jesus Christ hath given him.

And these two things joyn'd together, to wit the acts of the Penitent, and the absolution of the Priest, compose the Sacrament, which we call Pen­nance; whereof these acts are the matter, and the Absolution is the form; which are two parts neces­sary for a Sacrament.

Behold Theotime, what Penance is, and it is ne­cessary, that you should conserve in your mind this Idea, and the distinction, which we now made, as the ground-work of all that, which we shall say on this [Page 26]Subject: Because to make a true conversion, of which we speak here, Penance is requisite in both those two manners, both as a Virtue, and as a Sacrament. The Sacrament is necessary, because it is by its vir­tue, that one receives the remission of Sin: and the acts of this same virtue are likewise necessary, both before and after the Sacrament: Before the Sa­crament, to dispose one to receive it; and after ha­ving receiv'd it, to Satisfy God, and conserve ones self in Grace, as we have said above.

CHAP. III. What Contrition is.

I Begin to explain the acts, or parts of Penance with Contrition; because it is the most necessary of all; for without it, the others are of no value, and it may supply the want of the other in case of necessity, on condition that it include the will to confess, and satisfy when we are able. Wherefore read attentively, what follows.

The Council of Trent gives us a perfect Idea of this great action, when it defines it in these terms, to be A grief of mind and a detestation of Sin commit­ted, accompanied with a resolution not to commit it any more. Counc. Tre. Sess. 14. c. 4.

It says, that it is a grief of mind, that is, a regret and interiour displeasure, which is conceiv'd in the heart for having offended God. And a detestation by which word is meant a Hatred and an Aversion, which one hath to Sin, in looking on it, as a wicked thing and mortal Enemy to our Salvation, and the Glory of God. With a resolution not to Sin any more. [Page 27]This is a necessary consequence of the grief and ha­tred of Sin. For he who hath a regret for an evil, and truly detests it, he also hath a will to avoid it; if he hath not this will, it is certain, he hath neither sorrow, nor aversion.

By this definition you see, that Contrition is com­posed of three interior acts, a Sorrow, a Detestation, and a good Purpose. Detestation is the first Act, which is the ground-work, on which are raised the other two. For he who hath conceiv'd in his heart an hatred against Sin, hath a Sorow for having com­mitted it, and a purpose not to commit it any more. So that we must chiefly apply our selves to this de­testation or hatred; and this is what we must care­fully take notice off.

That we may arrive at this, we must perfectly understand the malice, that is included in Sin.: for we only hate and detest those things, which we know to be wicked.

Now there are in Sin two sorts of evils, the evil of the fault, and the evil of the punishment. The first is the Injury, which by Sin is done to God. The other is the damage, which the same Sin draws up­on Us in punishment of that injury, which we did to God. The one regards God, the other our Sal­vation: and both of them render Sin infinitely de­testable. The evil of the fault, because it offends God, and the evil of the Pain, because it makes us loose God, and become punishable by eternall Damnation.

In fine, Theotime, there is nothing more detesta­ble, and which ought to breed in us a greater hor­ror, then the cause which produceth these two e­vils, which are the greatest and most terrible of all mischiefs. Sin offends God so highly, and is such [Page 28]an injury done unto him, that all men and all An­gells together are not able to comprehend, how hei­nous it is, so grievous is it. Is there any evil more heinous & detestable? The same Sin, by this injury, which it does to God, separates us from him, makes us loose his Grace, excludes us for ever from his Glory, and makes us subject to eternal Damnation: And can we speak, or think, of an evil more dread­full, and which deserves more our hatred and detestation.

Let us raise our thoughts higher, and consider Sin not only in general, and as it is others; but as it is within our selves; and say to our own hearts; By the Sins which I have committed, I have offended my Creator, my Redeemer, my Benefactour, my All, God infinite in greatness, in Bounty, in Ho­lyness; without cause, without reason; by my malice alone, and blindness: Good God! how happens it, that I have not a horrour of my self and of the evils, which I have done.

By the same Sins I have lost the Grace of God, I am become his Enemy, I am deprived of Heaven, I am fall'n into the Slavery of the Devil, and made a Victim of Hell. O Sin, how horrid art thou! O siin, why have I committed thee! O Sin, I hate and detest thee with all my heart, and above any thing that is detestable in the world. Iniquitatem odio habui: & abominatus sum. Psalm. 118.

CHAP. IV. Of the qualities, or conditions, which true Contrition ought to have.

WE speak not here of perfect Contrition, (whereof we shall treat in the following Chapter) but more generally of the Conditions, which grief, necessary for the obtaining the remis­sion of Sin, ought to have, whether it be perfect or imperfect; and I say this Contrition must have four Conditions, to wit, it must be Interiour, Su­pernatural, Ʋniversal, and Sovereign: Take notice of these Conditions, for they are of great impor­tance, and many are deceived in them.

First, Contrition, or sorrow for Sin ought to be Interiour, that is to say, from the Heart; and when it is only in words and outward appearance, it is not Contrition, but an Illusion: The Heart must sincerely produce the Sentiment and Sorrow, which the words express: For this reason the Coun­cil said above, that it was a Sorrow of Mind, and a detestation of Sin: Now this detestation is an Act of the Will. The Scripture saith, that it is a Conversion, that is, a return of the Heart to God: Convert your selves to God with all your hearts. We must seek for God by Penance, and in seeking we shall find, if we seek for him with all our hearts, and with the sorrow and tribulation of our Souls. Deut. 4. God reprehended the Penance of the Jews, who made great Exterior Demonstrations, even to tear their Cloaths, as a mark of their sorrow, but they were not touched in their Hearts. Convert your selves to me (saith God to them) with all your hearts, [Page 30]in Fasting, in Tears, and Lamentations, and tear your Hearts, and not your Garments. Joel. 2.

In fine, Theotime, there is nothing more mani­fest both by Scripture and Reason, then this truth, that Penance oght to be in the Heart, that is in the Will: that as the Will was the cause of Sin, so also it may be the cause of Sorrow, and produce Pe­nance. The Heart must revoke the evil, which it hath wilfully committed, and detest Sin, which for­merly it had affected.

Secondly, It is not sufficient to detest Sin in the Heart; it must also be detested upon a good Mo­tive, that is upon a Motive sufficient to obtain Par­don for the Sin. This Motive, that it may produce that effect, must be Supernatural, that is one of those which God hath revealed, and which we know by Faith: The reason is, because an Action purely Natural cannot procure sanctification for the Soul, which is wrought by Grace, and is a thing above Nature. Hence we assigned the Second Con­dition of Contrition to be Supernatural, that is conceived upon a Supernatural Motive, and conse­quently by a Motion inspired by God.

This Supernatural Motive hath relation to two Heads: Viz. to that which concerns our Super­natural good, which is Eternal Happiness; and to that which regards the Glory of God. I say our Supernatural good, because the Natural goods, as Life, Health, Honour, Riches, are not able to raise such a sorrow for Sin, as might serve to obtain the Pardon from God. This we must take good notice of: Such was the sorrow of Saul, who did not grieve for his Sin; but for the loss of his Kingdom, which he saw God would deprive him of. Such was the sorrow of Antiochus, who did not weep for his [Page 31]Crimes; but because of the great Misfortunes he found himself overwhelmed with. Such many times is the grief of Christians, who demand pardon for their Sins, when they are surrounded with Afflicti­ons, which they resent more livelily, then the evils, which they have committed by their Sins, which move them little, or nothing. It is very true, that Afflictions make us return to God, and he himself sends them us for that effect: but there is a great deal of difference between the occasion, which makes us do an action, and the motive for which it is performed. Afflictions serve for an occasion to return to God, because they a­wake us from the sleep of sin, make us reflect up­on our selves, be sorry for the crimes, that caused them, and have recourse to God for our deli­verance: but they ought not to serve, as a mo­tive to detest our sins; because that would be only a pure natural sorrow, which avails nothing to restore us unto the grace of God. We must have a higher motive, and returning to God by affli­ctions, detest our sins; by reason of the danger, to which they exposed our Eternal Salvation; or the honour of God, which they have infinitely of­fended. Whosoever hath not these motives in view, or one of them, hath not the Contrition which disposes to grace.

In the third place, we have said, that Contrition must not be only supernatural, but also Sovereign, that is, most powerfull. The meaning hereof, is, that it doth not suffice to detest sin upon a super­natural motive, but that this motive should over­rule, and keep above the other, which come into our mind: so that we should rather detest the sin by reason of the damage it brings to our Salvation, [Page 32]or the injury done to God, then for any natural evils it may produce; and be resolved to suffer them all, rather then commit one Mortal sin. This is what Divines call detesting sin, supra omne detesta­bile, that is, above all that which in the world may stir up our hatred and detestation.

And the reason is most clear, because sin is the Sovereign evil, and the greatest of all evils. For if we consider the offence, there is none more hei­nous, then that which it commits against God; and if we cast our eye upon the punishment, there is none more Dreadfull. This is the reason, why one cannot detest it sufficiently, but by detesting it a­bove all naturall misfortunes.

Herein yet we must mark well, that this greater detestation, doth not consist in being more sensible, more lively, or more vehement then the hate and detestation of other evils; because that is not neces­sary, nor always in our power: but this is to be un­derstood of the esteem, or judgment, which we make of Sin, accounting it really the greatest of all evils, as in effect it is; and detesting it in this quality a­bove all others, and purposing firmly not to com­mit it any more, upon any account whatsoever.

But we are yet to observe, that to have that de­testation of Sin above all evils in our heart, it is not at all necessary, that every evil in particular should be proposed, as Death, Torments, Infamy, and the like; but it suffices, that they should be pro­posed in general. Likewise, it is not convenient they should be propos'd severally; lest their re­presentation should make the mind to waver in its Resolution, or make resolutions lightly, and with presumption of its own forces; which would not be perform'd; when occasions were offered: as it [Page 33]happened to St. Peter. It is sufficient to esteem Sin the greatest of all evils, which can ever befall us; To hate and detest it as such, to make a new resolution not to commit it any more, but rather to undergo whatever misfortune may happen to us, trusting in the mercy of God, and hoping he will either free us from those mischiefs, or that he will give us strength to support them by his Grace, then offend him.

The 4th condition of Contrition is, that it must be Universal in respect of all Mortal Sins: that is, by it we must detest all, without excepting any, and have a resolution never more to commit any one mortal Sin. The Holy Ghost pointed at this Condition, when he said, that we must do Penance for all the Sins we have committed. If the Sinner shall do Penance for all his Sins, he shall Live. Ezech. 18. We must convert our selves to God with all our hearts; that is, the heart must totally be offered to God, and not divided, so as to give one part to God, and the other to Sin. Their hearts (says he elsewhere) are divided, therefore shall they dye. Hosea. 10. The reason is evident, because Mortal Sins cannot be re­mitted but altogether, not one without the rest. Man cannot reserve in his heart an affection to any one Mortal Sin, but he will of necessity incur the hatred and displeasure of God. The Contri­tion, which one may think he hath of other Sins, if yet he affect any, cannot justify him in the sight of God; for it is absolutely false and imaginary; because if he really hates any, he hates all Sins, there not being any one which doth not cause his damnation, and infinitely offend God.

Hence it is, that those deceive themselves, who pretend to do Penance, and yet refuse to par­don injuries, or to be reconciled to their Enemies; [Page 34]those also, who will not restore the goods they have unjustly gotten, and those who are careless in avoi­ding the immediate occasions of Sin, and such other like: In a word, all those, whosoever they be, that have any willfull tye upon them to any particular Sin, which yet they are not fully resolved to break asunder, are imaginary, but not true Penitents.

CHAP. V. Of perfect and imperfect Contrition.

THis distinction is grounded upon that, which we said even now, of the two sorts of evils, which are found in Sin, to wit, the one of the in­jury done to God, and the other of the damage, which thereby we bring to our own Souls.

When we hate Sin by reason of the Supernaturall goods which it deprives us of, as of the Grace of God, and Life eternal, or because of the Punish­ment it draws upon us from Almighty God, it is an act of Contrition, but an imperfect one, by rea­son we consider nothing in it so much as our own Interest; and this act is called Attrition.

But when above this motive we raise our thoughts higher, and hate Sin by reason it is an af­front to the supreme goodness of God, which de­serves to be beloved above all things, which we ought to affect more then our selves, and which we are obliged to love, altho' there were neither Pa­radice, nor Hell; it is an act of perfect Contrition, which proceeds from Charity, and the pure love of God.

The first Contrition is good, and profitable; it is supernatural by reason of its motive, and be­cause it is an effect of the inspiration of the Holy [Page 35]Ghost; but it doth not restore man unto Grace, except it be assisted by the Sacrament; because it is not of it self, without the assistance of the Sacrament, an act of Charity, which can justify, but only an act of the Virtue of Hope, which is not able to confer Grace.

The Second is excellent and perfect, and re­stores the Soul to the grace of God, even be­fore the receiving of the Sacrament; but not without respect to the Sacrament; because it in­cludes a will, or disposition of mind, to receive it, when occasion serves.

In either of them both, there is a fear and love of God, but differently. For in Attrition there is a servile fear, and an imperfect love, which makes us only regard our own advantage. In Contrition there is a filial fear, and a perfect love or Charity; which makes us consider the honour of God, more then our own concern.

By the one and the other we hate sin: but by the first we hate principally the punishment of sin, and we fear that more, then the fault, or offence of God. By the Second we detest prin­cipally the offence of God, and we fear that more, then the punishment.

But here we must take notice of a point of great concern: when we say, that in Attrition we fear more the pain, then the offence; this more, or this excess, is not to be understood of a Positive preference, or esteem, which one may have, whilst he compares the punishment with the offence. For he, who comparing these two together, should say, either expressly, or tacitly, that he fears more to be damn'd, then to offend God, would commit a Mortal Sin; but this is to [Page 36]be understood only of, as we may call it, a Ne­gative, or abstractive preference; which we un­derstand, when one thinks of the punishment of sin without reflecting on the offence of God, which because it occurrs not to his mind, he doth not think of; but stops as it were only at the punishment which occurrs, as being more sensible, and without advancing farther, conceives a horror of sin, and detests it upon that account, without rising higher, or thinking of the offence.

But if it chance that any one think expresly both of the punishment of sin, and the injury, which thereby is done to God, comparing the one with the other; such a person would be obliged to detest them both, according to their merits, that is, the offence more then the punishment. I say more, not as to the greatness, or vehemency of the fear and detestation, but as to the preference and esteem, which the will makes of the one above the other, that is, of the offence above the punishment.

In the practice, Theotime, consider, that it is fitting, we always endeavour to have them both; for to content our selves only with the imperfect Contrition is the part of a mean spirit, and a token of a servile and mercenary soul; besides, that this manner of treatment is apt to raise doubts of Conscience, and troubles of mind: on the other side, an act of perfect Contrition is an act of the highest perfection, and to perform it is a very difficult thing; it is not usual, nei­ther can we, ordinarily speaking, ascend at one step to the highest and most perfect acts of a Virtue: wherefore we must begin with those of the lower rank, and by them mount up to those [Page 37]of an higher classe; this we see, that nature her self teacheth us in all her productions. But which is very observable, it frequently happens, that we are deceived in this occasion; for many are persuaded that they have perfect Contrition, as soon as they have pronounc'd these words, I detest my sins, because God who is infinitely good, is offended by them. But there is a great difference between saying these words, and conceiving in our heart the true sense, which they import.

First then, we must begin with imperfect Contrition; after that we have considered the great and lamentable mischiefs, which by sin are heapt upon us; the privation of the grace of God; the loss of Paradise; Eternal Damna­tion; then we must proceed to hate and detest it with all our heart; as our most mortal Ene­my: Next considering that sin, must needs be a horrible evil in it self, and strangely offensive to the Divine bounty, since he punisheth it with so much rigour, we must go on to the hatred of sin it self, by reason of the injury it doth to God. An injury which derives its greatness from the Supreme, the infinite Bounty, Sanctity, and infinitely adorable Majesty of God, whom there­fore it infinitely offends, and consequently be­comes infinitely detestable, and which ought to be hated and detested with a supreme, and, if possible, infinite hatred, altho' there were nei­ther Paradise, it could deprive us of; nor Hell to punish it.

CHAP. VI. Of the means to obtain Contrition.

IF it were either the same thing to have Contrition, and to know it; or the knowledge of it were sufficient, to have it; there would be nothing more required, then what we have said, to per­form the Act. But it is far otherwise, Theotime, this great and important action is not so easy, as they imagine, who believe, they have power to produce it every moment. It is a fruit, which is not of our growth; it is a plant, which our Earth, now dry and barren by means of sin, cannot bring forth, except it be watered from above, and prevented by the blessing, or grace of God. God, (saith the Prophet) must give his benediction, and then our Earth, that is our Heart, will produce its fruit. Dominus dabit benig­nitatem, & terra nostra dabit fructum suum. Psal. 84.

It is not so facile to clear ones self of sin; as it is easy to fall into it. A man may quickly cast himself into a deep pit by his own fault; but he cannot get out without trouble, and the as­sistance of another. We sin by our own free will alone, but by this alone we cannot free our selves from the guilt of sin; it is necessary that the grace of God assist and withdraw us from it. Our ruine proceeds from our selves; but our Salvation comes from God; he alone can succour, or redeem us. Perditio tua ex te, tantummodo in me auxilium tuum. Host. 13. This is an Article of Faith, which hath always been believed in the Church, and which the Council of Trent [Page 39]hath defined of new. If any one says, that without the preventing inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and his suc­cour, a man can believe, hope, love, or be sorry for his sins, as it is necessary to receive justifying grace, let him be anathematized. Conc. Trid. Sess. 6. Canon. 3.

With what fear and trembling ought not those Souls to be seized, whose conscience tells them, that they are in the unfortunate state of Mortal Sin? What horror ought they not to conceive, when they seriously make this reflecti­on; that their Salvation depends upon God a­lone; and that they cannot of themselves be freed from the danger they are in, except by his only hand, whom they have so grievously offended, and who is their professed Enemy, as long as they shall continue in that State?

But that which yet ought still to augment their fears, is that there is nothing due to them from God, as long as they are, in that deplorable state, his enemies: that he is not obliged to relieve them, having never promised it to any person: but that he may most justly leave them in that condition; because as St. Augustin saith, God who hath promised pardon to him that shall do Penance, hath not promised Penance to any one. O God! Theotime, what considerable reasons of fear, and trembling are there, to see ones self, in such a lamentable state, wherein he may be justly aban­doned by Almighty God, and left as a prey to the sworn Enemies of his Salvation? What good things ought he not to do, who considers him­self in this danger? or rather, (I will not say what Evil, but even) what indifferent things ought he not to deny himself? that, by doing good, and avoiding evil, he may both prevent [Page 40]the misfortunes, which environ him at present; and avoid the eternal loss of his Soul, which threatens him for the future.

Without question you see clear enough what he should do; first that he should seek all means possible to appease the divine anger, & regain his favour; which cannot be otherwise effected, but by ceasing to offend him, by performing acts of condign Penance, and by pouring forth his Soul in hearty prayer, that he may obtain from God the grace of Holy Contrition.

In the Second place, that he should apply himself to consider the sins he hath committed, meditate upon the motives which are capable to imprint in his Soul an horror of them; then he should propose to himself the examples of true Penitents; imitate them in their Penances, and conquer Heaven by the force of tears and Contrition, as they have done.

We shall discourse of these two general means in the following Chapters.

CHAP. VII. Of the first means to obtain Contrition, which are three, avoiding sin, works of Penance, and Prayer.

I Put these three means togeher, because they are so inseparable, that they seem to make but one.

The first is to forsake sin, or cease from of­fending God; for how can you expect to gain the Spirit of Contrition, or the Holy Virtue of Penance, whilst you persist actually to offend [Page 41]him, and resist his grace? and how can you have in your heart a true sorrow, and detestation of sin, when you take pleasure to commit it? This is impossible. Sin is the destruction of divine grace; it roots out of the Soul all pious thoughts; it banisheth all holy inspirations, and disperses them at their first appearance, like a blasting North-wind, by its cold and dryness; it scatters the Clouds, disperses the Rain, or dew of Hea­ven, and parches up the Earth. This is what theWise man would signify by those mysteri­ous words of the Proverbs. Ventus Aquilo dissipat plavias: Auster congregat dissipatas. Prov. 25. It is sin, which locks up the Heavens, and hinders the rains of Grace from showring upon men, when they need it most; whilst they stand ob­noxious to his wrath. On the contrary, the fear of Gods Judgments, which seizeth upon Sin­ners, is like the favourable South-wind, which ga­thers the Clouds, dissolves them into Rain, and pours them upon the Earth: this fear is a gentle gale that breaths into the Soul the thoughts of Penance; it moves us to conceive true sorrow for our sins, and at last brings us to the so much to be desired Port, perfect Contrition.

The Second means is to abridge ones self of pleasures, and perform the works of Penance: next to sin, there is nothing more opposite to Contrition, (which is the fruit of sorrow) then pleasures. Contrition is not found but in afflicti­ons and miseries, of which the heart is incapable in the time of pleasure. Job, speaking of Wis­dom, says, it is not found in the houses of plea­sures and delights. Job 28. Non invenitur in terra suaviter viventium. Much less Contrition, which [Page 42]is the beginning of Wisdom. Contrition is the off-spring of an afflicted heart ruminating on all his sins in the bitterness of his Soul; and can this be found amongst divertisements and plea­sures? No, no, It is most certain, that he who resolves to be Penitent and contrite, ought to banish far from his thoughts divertisements and pleasures, and betake himself to the works of Penance, as Fasting, Alms-deeds, and the like.

The Third necessary means is Prayer, because Contrition being, as is above declared, a gift of God, a gift which is not due unto us, but proceeds from his pure bounty; it is certain, we have great need to demand, pray, or beg it of him very earnestly; need to acknowledge our own misery, and the absolute dependance we have upon his mercy. Upon this occasion it is, that we ought to re-enter perfectly into our selves, and humble our selves in the presence of God, in a profound acknowledgment of the mi­sery, to which we are reduced by this state of sin. It is upon this occasion we ought to employ those excellent Sentences of the Prophet Jeremy; Ego vir videns paupertatem meam in virgâ indig­nationis ejus. It is true, O my God! I acknow­ledge the extreme misery, whither thy anger hath justly reduced me. I am now in the dark­ness of sin, instead of the light of thy grace, which I formerly enjoyed. Thou hast turned thy hand against me; thou hast taken away all my forces, and environ'd me with bitterness and pain; my Life is fall'n into an abiss, out of which I cannot get out. Considering my self in this state, I said, I was lost: but I had recourse unto thee, O my God, I invoked thy Holy [Page 43]Name from the depth of my misery. Thou hast graciously hearkned unto me, do not turn away thine Ears from the lamentations which flow from my heart, from the clamours, which I make, to obtain thy mercy.

CHAP. VIII. Of the Motives of Contrition, and first of the grievousness of sin.

WHen you demand of God, Contrition by Prayer, and works of Penance, you must not be wanting to your self, but endeavour on your part to procure it. This endeavour consists in weighing attentively the motives, which are capable to raise this sorrow in your heart, and in meditating upon the grievousness of sin, and the reasons which may move you to an horror and detestation of it. This practice is absolutely necessary for him, who desires to be truly converted; But is not much in use; as God himself complains by his Prophet. There is none, says he, that repents himself of his sins, saying, what have I done? Jer. 8.

Do it then, as you ought, dear Theotime, and with all the attention of your heart, whilst you read what I shall here propose unto you; and beg of God, that he will make you comprehend, and understand this so important a concern; for it is impossible without grace to know it exactly right.

You must then suppose, that the grievousness of sin is so great, that it is incomprehensible, or [Page 44]unconceivable; and this truth alone, may make you judge of the greatness of it. To compre­hend this grievousness, you should have a full Idea, or true definition of sin, which might perfectly explain it's nature; But this is im­possible. The sovereign good, which is God, cannot be defined, because it is infinite; nei­ther also can sin, which is the supreme evil. That is infinite in goodness; this is infinite in malice: That possesses all perfections; this is the accom­plishment of all mischiefs. And as no created Spi­rit can comprehend the Greatness, Bounty, and Perfections of God; so none, but God, can under­stand the grievousness, malice, & miseries of Sin.

And the reason is very evident, because to understand well the grievousness of sin, and the injury it does to God, we must know how great, how holy, how good, how perfect God is; be­ing that sin takes it's grievousness from the op­position it hath with the Greatness, Bounty, and Holiness of God. To know the greatness of an offence, we must know, and well under­stand, the greatness and dignity of the person offended. For this reason to compehend the grie­vousness, and the injury it does to God; we must measure the greatness of God; but where is the measure of this accomplishment of goodness and perfections, so much raised above us? certainly we can never find it, nor by con­sequence the measure of that Abyss of malice and misery, of which we speak here. Altitudinem Coe­li & profundum abyssi quis dimensus est? who can ever measure, saith Ecclesiasticus, the height of Hea­ven, or the depth of the Sea? Eccles. 1. Much less can the greatness of God and the grievousness of [Page 45]sin be measured. If God be so high in dignity & Ma­jesty, that no created Spirit can reach him, it is true to say, that sin is so profound in malice and un­worthiness, that it is impossible to comprehend it.

Yet nevertheless we must not despair to have an act of Contrition; altho' we cannot conceive the grievousness of sin. For in that alone, which we said, that we cannot comprehend its grievousness, there is all the imaginable reason intirely to abhor and hate it; and lament, when we are so unfor­tunate, as to fall into it. Sin then is so great an evil, that no created Spirit can conceive its enor­mity; that to understand it, we must know God clearly face to face, which only God himself can fully comprehend. What horror? what de­testation ought not we to have for so great and horrible an evil? and what sorrow ought we to have, to see our selves, by our own ungra­cious will, become guilty of it?

Ponder this well, Theotime, and do not pass over lightly this consideration; for it is admi­rable. I say again once more, there is nothing that can make us hate sin, more then to know that we cannot comprehend it's grie­vousness; and it is easy to shew it by a contrary reason, but very evident: viz. That there is no­thing which is more capable to raise in us a love and respect towards God, then when we are fully persuaded, that he is so great, so perfect, and so amiable, that his greatness and perfections do infinitely surpass all that, which we can conceive of him. Let us apply the same to the grievous­ness of sin, and the evils, which it includes in it self; and we shall find, how detestable it is. O sin! is it true then that thou art so great, that I [Page 46]cannot at all comprehend the heinousness of the injury thou dost to God? and not only I but all the men and Angels together. Now if thy enor­mity be so prodigious, how can I but hate thee? is not this sufficient to move a horour of thee? O monster of wickedness! he must needs be blind that flys not from thee; O abiss of misfortunes! how ought I to fear, lest I should fall into such deep precipices.

CHAP. IX. Of the same Subject, of the grievousness of Sin.

LEt us however attempt to gather some know­ledge at least, of the grievousness of Mortal Sin; and although we cannot Comprehend it as it is in it self, let us learn, what the Holy Ghost has been pleased to let us know by the Sacred Scripture. Read, Theotime, and be attentive.

What is Sin? It is a rebellion of the creature against his Cre­ator; a resistance against his commandements, by which it refuses to obey him, and be subject to his holy will. This is what we learn from that wonderfull reproach, which God made to Sin­ners by Jeremy. From the beginning thou hast bro­ken my Yoke, thou hast burst my Bonds; Jer. 2. That is, all the considerations, which kept thee ty'd to my Service, and thou hast said I will not serve. Behold, what Sin is, and what you have committed, as often as you have Mortally offended God. Con­sider well this definition; but this is not all.

What is Sin? It is a horrible ingratitude committed against God, and a forgetfullness of all his favours. Who is it that says this? It is he himself by his Prophet. I have brought up Children, and exalted them: but they have despised me. The Oxe hath known his owner, and the Asse his masters Crib: but Jsrael hath not known me, and my People hath not understood. Isa. 1. and in another place, The beloved was made grosse, that is, he hath enjoyed abundantly the goods which I have sent him, and Spurned against me, he left God his maker, and departed from God his Salvation. Deut. 32.

What is Sin? It is a Contempt of God, and his Commande­ments, by which one declares, that he makes no account of his Greatness, nor power, of his Pro­mises, nor Threats. This is what he himself saith above. My Children have despised me. Jer. 3. And by another Prophet he complains. But as if a Wo­man should contemn her lover, so hath the house of Is­rael contemned me. Ezek. 5. And by another he says, She hath contemned my judgments, so that she was more impious, then the Gentiles, and my precepts more then the lands about her. For they have cast away my judgments, and in my precepts they have not walked. And yet by another Pro­phet he reproaches Sinners with their contempt. The Son honoureth the Father, and the Servant his Lord; if then I be Father, where is my Honour, and if I be the Lord; where is my fear? Mala. 1.

What is Sin? It is an injury done to God in his own person, and before his own face; knowing well that he beholds us; and without respect to his greatness, and Sanctity. What is it, saith he, that my beloved hath done in my house much wickedness? Jer. 11.15. and the Prophet Isaiah saith, For Jerusalem is gone to ruine and Juda is fall'n: because their tongue and their inventions were against our Lord, to provoke the Eyes of his Majesty. Isai. 3.8.

What is Sin? It is a revolting from God, and a renouncing of his friendship, and grace, to follow ones own will, passion, pleasure, interest, and the like. For this reason Divines, after a serious consi­deration of the nature of sin, have thought, that they could explicate it no better, then by saying it was a turning away from God, and a turning to, or embracing the creature. Aver­sio a Deo, & conversio ad creaturam. Behold, what is done by sin. Hearken to the judgment and complaint of God himself. Be astonished, (saith he) O Heavens upon this, and O Gates thereof be ye desolate exceedingly; for two Evils have my people done; Me they have forsaken, the fountain of living water, and have digged to them­selves Cisterns that are not able to hold water. Jer. 2. The meaning is, that he who sins, seeks his good and happiness in the creatures, where he shall never find it. What greater blindness then this? See what they do, who offend God mortally; and it is in this preference or esteem, which we make of the creature before God [Page 49]himself, wherein Mortal Sin and its greivousness doth consist. For as the love of God above all things consists in preferring him before all, that is before ones proper will, passions, pleasures, ho­nour, interest: So Mortal Sin, which is direct­ly opposite to Charity, consists in preferring all things, or any thing before God, and choosing ra­ther to lose the Friendship of God, then deprive ones self of those apparent goods, which in reality are true Miseries. And he who resolves to commit a Mortal Sin, performs this in effect: as if he should place on one side the greatness of God, all his favours, all his promises, and all his menaces; and on the other side his own Passion, his Plea­sure, his Honour, or his Riches: and having compared these two, so opposite objects together, says within himself; I make more account of these miserable things, then of the greatness of God, of his friendship, of his promises, and of his threats: and I renounce all that, so I may con­tent my Passions, my Pleasure, my Ambition, my Avarice, &c. Consider this well, Theotime, and you may Comprehend something of the grie­vousness of Sin, and the evil you have done to your self, when you have been so blind, as to fall into it.

CHAP. X. A Further illustration of the grievousness of sin.

ALL that which we have said, is more then enough to give a judgment of the heinous­ness of Mortal Sin; but because the more we sink [Page 50]into the matter, the more copious is the Subject; behold yet one more consideration to discover its enormity.

Sin is a resistance to the Divine will, or as St. Ambrose hath very well defin'd, it is a Swerving from the Law of God, and a disobedience to his Divine Commandements. Proevaricatio divinae le­gis, & coelestium inobedientia mandatorum. This disobedience offends God, and injures him so, as to violate the right, which God hath to be obey'd, and loved by his Creatures. It's also necessarily accompanied with all those indignities, which we have said above are found in Sin, viz. Rebellion against God, Ingratitude, Contempt of him, Vi­olence committed in his Adorable Presence, and Esteem and preference of the Creature before God, a Renouncing of his Friendship, and ma­ny other Indignities: And this it is, which makes the injury done to God by this Disobedience, most Heinous, and far surpass all that one can imagine.

And being that this vile and base injury is of­fered to a Person the most Eminent and of high­est Dignity, whose Authority is Boundless, and infinitely raised above all that is great. Hence it is, that this affront is so immence, that it infinitly surpasses all the abuses, and wrongs, that can be offered unto man: it being a certain Rule, that an offence takes its heinousness from the great­ness of the Person that is offended: And thus an affront offered to a Prince, doth far Surmount that done to one of base condition. Now being that God is infinite in Greatness and Majesty, it follows that an injury offered to him is also infinite.

Add all these things together, an Infinite of­fence committed against the Infinite Greatness of God, accompanied with all those Indignities we have spoken of, with Rebellion, with Ingra­titude, with Contempt of God, with Prefe­rence of a creature before his Friendship, with In­fidelity: and judge what we ought to say of the greatness of the Injury, which Sin offers to God. But above all consider the Sin, as committed by a Wretched creature, by a Miserable servant, by a worm of the Earth, which before God is less then nothing; Judge then I say, if you can, but you can never arrive at a perfect Judgment, al­though all the knowledge of both Men and An­gels were united in your understanding.

An affront so great, that it made St. Augustine, and other Divines after him to say, that it were far better the whole frame of the world should perish, that is Heaven, and Earth, and all contain'd therein, then that a man should commit any one mortal sin against God. Pecca­tum est inhonorare Deum, quod non debet facere homo, etiamsi totum pereat quod non est Deus. Sin, saith that Holy Doctor, is to dishonour God, which a man ought not to do, altho' all things, except God, be destroyed.

An injury so horrible that it made St. Anselm say, That if he should see on one side Hell open with all its flames; and on the other side, one sole Mortal Sin to be Committed; and that he were for­ced to make choice of the one, he would rather choose to cast himself into hell, then sin mortally. S. Anselm de similitudinibus. c. 190. And he adds the reason. Because, said he, I should rather desire, being innocent and without sin, to enter into Hell, then enjoy Para­dise, [Page 52]being defiled with sin; for it is most certain, that only the wicked are tormented in Hell, and only the just are blessed in Heaven. Altho' this necessity of choice can never happen; yet the supposition, which this great Saint makes, doth manifestly shew the grievousness of Mortal sin, & the injury which by it is done to God: and it is grounded upon this manifest truth in Divinity; that the evil of the fault is infinitely greater, and more to be feared, then the evil of the punishment.

A wrong so heinous, that Divines with one accord agree, that if all the men in the world, and all the Angels in Heaven, should unite their forces, to deplore the injury offered to God by any one mortal sin, to do Penance, and give Satisfaction to God for it; they could not all together in the least perform that which it deserves.

A damage so great, an abuse so detestable, that only God himself was able to repair it, only God himself could satisfy for it to the full; and to perform this, it was necessary, that God should put himself in a state to satisfy, that he should humble himself so as to become man, to offer himself in Sacrifice to the Divine justice: a Sacrifice, which equalled the price, and also far surpass'd the grievousness of Sin; and in which two things were admirably conjoyned, the Di­vinity, and Humanity, this to be offer'd, and that to give infinite value and merit to the offer­ing; as a Father of the Church said excellently well. De nostro obtulit Sacrificium, de suo contulit pretium. Euseb. Emis. hom. 6. de Pascha.

In fine, an injury so offensive and enormous, that the Flames of Hell, which it hath kindled, [Page 53]can neither purge it for all Eternity; nor ap­pease the Divine wrath, which it hath incens'd, against those, who neglective, whilst they lived, to apply to themselves the Satisfaction made by the Sacrifice offered by the Son of God upon the Cross, are dead in Mortal Sin.

Weigh well all these Considerations, Theotime, read them often, and endeavour by frequent Me­ditation, to imprint them in your mind.

CHAP. XI. Of the deplorable effects of Mortal Sin, to discover better the grievousness thereof.

SInce it is most certain, that the best way to know a cause, is to consider its effects; doubt­less the best means to discover the grievousness of Mortal Sin, is to reflect on the Sad effects which followed from it.

We have said before, that we could not per­fectly know Sin in it self, because it is the Su­preme evil, which is infinite: no more then we can understand in it self the Supreme and Sove­reign good, which is God. But as by the effects, which we see of his Power, of his Wisdom, of his Goodness, we arrive at some knowledge of God: So on the Contrary, we may find out in some sort the heinousness of Sin, if we do but consider attentively the Dreadful effects, it causes, and the horrible misfortunes which it carries with it. And all these effects are, as so many Pow­erfull motives of Contrition, to make us detest, and abhor Sin.

To discover it the better, we shall observe some order, and search for it in several places, viz. in our selves, in Heaven, in Hell, in God himself, and in his Son Jesus Christ.

ARTICLE. I. Of the death of the Soul, or the sad effects which Sin produceth in his Soul, who commits it.

I Begin with the Death of the Soul, because this is the first effect, which Sin produceth, as soon as ever is is committed. Peccatum cum consumma­tum fuerit generat mortem, Jac. 1. And I would to God, it were as sensible as it is real, and that those, who are so unfortunate, as to fall into Mor­tal Sin, might exactly know the greatness of the evil, which thereby they draw upon themselves, as really in it self it is; and resent it, as it deserves. It is for this reason, that I desire to explicate it unto you, and make you understand it.

Sin then, (saith the Scripture) is no sooner fi­nished, but immediately it causeth Death. It's certain, that it is not the death of the Body; for a man doth not dye in the moment, he hath com­mitted it. It is then the death of the Soul, a thousand times more dreadfull then that of the Body: for this doth but separate the Soul from the Body: but the Death which is caused by Sin, is a Separation of the Soul from God; who is a Supernatural Life, as St. Aug. saith. vita corporis anima est, vita animae Deus est. And as this life, which God gives the Soul, is infinitely more e­stimable then that, which the Soul confers upon [Page 55]the Body, which it animates: so the Death which causeth the loss of that Divine Life, is infinitely more dreadfull and Lamentable, then naturall Death.

To understand this well, you must know what God hath reveal'd, and we believe, concerning a Soul, which hath the Blessing to be in the State of the Grace of God: And it is this; when God receives a Soul into his Friendship, he Cloathes her with the Robe of Sanctifying Grace, a super­natural and Divine quality, which cleanseth the Soul from all the spots of Sin, and renders her agreeable to the eyes of God. And at the same moment he replenisheth her with Divine gifts, as Faith, Hope, Charity: and other Christian Vir­tues: Then by the means of that Grace, God dwells in that Soul after a particular manner, he makes her his Temple and Habitation, where he is pleased to be adored, and loved by the Souls, that possess him: Lastly, he interchangeably com­municates himself unto her, filling her with his holy Spirit, and Divine Inspirations.

All these truths are drawn from the express words of the Sacred Scripture. As from that where God promises, That he will pour upon us a clean water, which will cleanse us from all our stains: Ezek. 36. This water is Sanctifying Grace. From that where he saith, That the Charity of God is pour­ed into our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us, Rom. 5. That we are the Temples of the Li­ving God, and that the Spirit of God doth dwell in us. 1. Cor. 3. from those words where our Saviour saith; If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our Dwelling with him. Joh. 14. From those [Page 56]words of St. John. God is Charity, and he who re­mains in Charity, remains with God, and God with him. 1. Joh. 4. There are a great number of the like passages, which clearly represent unto us the state of a Soul Sanctifyed by Grace, and the great happiness she enjoys in that condition, wherein she possesses God himself, and is possessed by him.

Now all this felicity is constant and perma­nent, as to what relates to God, whose gifts are without repentance, as the Scripture saith: only the Soul can deprive her self of, and destroy in her self this happiness.

This misfortune befalls us, when forgetfull of the infinite blessing, we possess, and permit­ting our selves to be surprized by the allurements of Sin, we break that happy League, and Alli­ance, which God had made with us: And this we do by a criminal disobedience, whereby we incur the displeasure of God, and lose in a mo­ment all those inestimable goods, which before we happyly enjoyed.

O God, Theotime, who can worthily express the dreadfull misfortune, which happens to a Soul by one mortal sin? and paint to the life the deplorable state, to which it is reduced in the moment she offends? in which the Soul in that very instant is deprived of the grace of God, and of one beautifull, and as an Angel in his sight, becomes as hideous and hatefull as a Devil. Quomodo obscuratum est aurum, mutatus est color optimus. Thren. 4. Is there any subject, where we may more sitly apply those dolefull words of Jeremy? how comes it to pass, that this Soul should be so defaced? what is become of that grace, which made her more bright then gold? [Page 57]how is that divine beauty changed into so hide­ous a form?

It is an effect of the divine Anger, which hath justly fill'd that Soul with cloudy darkness; which before had unjustly banisht the light of Grace. But that which is most to be lamented is, that that Soul which formerly had the honour to be employ'd, as the Temple of God, now sees her self rejected by him with horrour and detestati­on; and the Holy Ghost retired from her, ha­ving abandoned her to be the dwelling-place of the Devil; according to that sentence of the same Prophet, repulit Dominus Altare suum, male­dixit sanctificationi suae. God hath rejected his Altar, and laid a curse upon the place, where he was adored and sanctified. Thren. 2. Is it possible, Theotime, that you can read these words without trembling, if you are in the state of Mortal Sin?

It is this forsaking of God, and this loss of his grace, which properly causes the death of the Soul, infinitely more to be feared then that of the Body; forasmuch as by the death of the body, we are only deprived of the presence of the Soul, death being only a separation of the Soul from the Body; whereas by the death of the Soul, we are deprived, or separated from Almighty God. Is there any misery to be compared to this of be­ing deprived of God? O my God! how is it possible that men should esteem thee so little? If a man lose a perishable good, as a Friend, or an Estate, this he laments most grievously; and we loose our selves, and are not at all concerned: can there be any thing either more unjust or more injurious? Is not that most exactly true, which St. Augustine saith upon this Subject? He seems [Page 58]not to have the bowels of Christian Charity, who la­ments a Body, from which the Soul is departed; and doth not at all weep for a Soul, from which God is separated.

That I may yet make you understand more sen­sibly the deplorable state of a Soul fallen into the displeasure of God; and your own condition, if you are under that misfortune: I shall propose here an admirable, and moving description, which a Holy Author made in these words, which he addresses to a Soul fallen into Mortal Sin; and to you your self, if you are in that unhappy state.

Aperi oculos anima misera, & vide quid eras, & quid nunc es? quo loco eras? & quo nunc es. Eras sponsa altissimi; eras templum Dei vivi; eras vas electionis, Thalamus regis aeterni, Thronus Salomonis, Sedes Sapientiae; eras soror Angelorum, Haeres cae­lorum: & quoties dico eras, eras; toties tibi lachri­mandum est; cum subitam tuam cogitas mutationem. Sponsa Dei facta est adultera diaboli: Templum Spi­ritus Sancti mutatum est in Speluncam latronum: vas Electionis in vas corruptionis: Thalamus Christi in Volutabrum porcorum; Sedes Sapientia in Cathedram pestilentiae: Soror Angelorum in Sociam Daemonum; & quae instar Columbae ante [...] in Caelum Volitabat, nunc, valut serpens, reptat in terra. Plange itaque su­per te, anima misera; plange, quia te plangunt caeli; te plangunt Sancti; te plangunt lacrymae Pauli, quia peccasti: & peccati, quod commisisti, paenitentiam non egisti.

Open thy eyes miserable Soul, saith this holy Do­ctor, speaking to a Soul, which is fall'n into Mor­tal Sin: and see what you were, and what you are, in what place you were, and where you now are at pre­sent. You were the Spouse of the most high: You were [Page 59]the Temple of the living God; you were a Vessel of election, the Couch of the eternal King, the Throne of the true Salomon, the seat of Wisdom; you were Si­ster to the Angels, and Heir of Heaven; and as of­ten as I say you were, you were; so often ought you to lament and weep, when you consider your sudden change. Your Soul, which was the Spouse of God, is become the Adulteress of Satan; the Temple of the Holy Ghost is changed into a Den of Thieves; the Vessel of Election into a Vessel of Corruption; the Bed of Solomon into a dunghill of unclean Beasts; the Seat of Wisdom into the Chair of Infection; the Sister of the Angels is be­come a Companion of the Devil; and she, who mounted like a Dove even unto Heaven, creeps now upon the Earth like a Serpent. Bewail then your self, O misera­ble Soul; bewail, and lament, since the Heavens weep for you; since all the Saints deplore your misery; the tears of St. Paul are shed for you; because you have sinned, and have not done Pennance for what you have committed.

These words, Theotime, are not to be read slightly; read them often, applying them to your self with attention; and without doubt, if you are not totally obdurate, they will make a great impression on your heart, when you consider at­tentively the unfortunate and deplorable state your Soul is brought into by Sin.

ARTICLE II. Of the effects of Sin in Heaven, and upon Earth.

IF you desire another reason of the hatred, and horrour you have conceived against Sin, The­otime, raise your thoughts to Heaven, and see the disorders it hath caused there. This Infernal Fu­ry hath spared nothing; it hath conveyed it's rage even unto the house of God, which it hath filled with War, and Confusion; it hath banished one part of the Angels thence, and shut the door to men, and to you your self: let us see these misfortunes one after another.

God in the beginning of the World created an innumerable multitude of Celestial Spirits of se­veral Orders, and different perfections; with which he filled Heaven, and composed his Hea­venly Court, for the performance of his will both in Heaven and on Eaath. His design was to re­plenish them all with the happiness of his sight, and the perfect possession of the Divinity: And for this effect, besides the natural perfections he endowed them with, he had created them in his grace, and adorned them with all supernatural virtues; thus to afford them a means to dispose themselves to Glory, which he had prepared for them, and to merit it by their actions, and the practice of those same virtues.

When they were in this state; behold, Theo­time, what Sin did; When they were, as I said, in this state, brim full of mighty hopes; upon the [Page 61]point of receiving the fruit of the grace and vir­tues which God had communicated unto them, and to enjoy the perfect vision of the Divinity, which would have secured their happiness for ever; behold Sin, by their inadvertency, steals into the mind of one part of them, overthrows their fair hopes, and makes a confusion in the house of God himself. This was a mischievous thought of Pride, begun in one of the chiefest Angels, who permitting himself to be surprized by the love of his own perfections, and the brightness of his excellent beauty, aspired to sur­pass all others, in that degree, that he would in some things be like unto God himself; demanding an Authority equal with his in the government of all Creatures, choosing rather, as St Bernard considers, to be separated from God, then be Subject unto him. Miser, qui sine Deo esse maluit, quàm sub Deo. Lucifer was follow'd in this extravagance by many of the other Angels, who, adhering to his pride, listed themselves, as it were, under his banner. They had not persisted long in this Re­bellion; when God, who cannot endure the guilt of Sin, be it in whom it will, gives us, upon oc­casion of this first disobedience, the manifest marks of the hatred he bears to that infernal Mon­ster. For by a Solemn Decree, the effect of his in­dignation, he banisheth from his Kingdom this Rebellious Angel with all his followers, and casts them down headlong from the height of Heaven to the most profound pit of Hell. Thus that Ce­lestial Spirit, who was, but the instant before he sinn'd, one of the most beautifull Creatures of God, and, as one may say, the Master-piece of all his works; initium viarum suarum, became by his [Page 62]sin an infernal Dragon; a sworn and unreconci­lable enemy both to God and Man.

What is it that hath caused this lamentable change? sin alone: it was sin alone that God could not endure in his most perfect Creatures. The Heavens, as Job saith, are not pure in his pre­sence, and he hath found disorder even in the Angells. Job. 15. He found sin in Heaven, and in the An­gells themselves; and he hath not pardoned them, as St. Peter saith, but hath chained them in Hell to be there Tormented, and thereby to manifest unto all creatures the hatred he bears to Sin. 2 Pet. 2.

If Sin was so dreadfull to the Angels in Hea­ven; it hath not been less Terrible to men upon earth: if it was able to banish them so quickly there; it hath not been less effectual, or less spee­dy in Shutting the Gates of Heaven against us here. It was, when the first man, who being cre­ated in the grace of God, after he had received all possible assurance of his Friendship both as to this world, and to the next, forgetfull of his du­ty and of himself, treacherously conspired with his Capital Enemy, and broke the Command­ments of God, in eating the forbidden fruit.

He had no sooner fall'n into this offence; but the Anger God appeared against him, and banished him with scorn out of the Earthly Paradise, that Garden of delight, where but a while before he had been placed with so much love; Both he and all his posterity were condemned to labour, death, and all the miseries we even now groan under, for that first transgression of the Law of God.

But that, which is yet more terrible, is, that [Page 63]the Gates of Heaven, which till then were open, were immediately shut, as well against himself, as against all his posterity, without the least hopes of his ever being able to re-enter those happy mansions, by any means he, either of himself, or any of his off-spring of themselves, could use. O sin, how dreadfull art thou, and what a train of misfortues dost thou bring after thee!

This misery and desolation continued four thousand years, and more; during which time no man ever entred into heaven, not even the just themselves and those who dyed in the Grace of God, untill the coming of the Son of God into the world, who by his Death opened the Gates of Heaven, so long shut. During that time, how many millions of souls were excluded for ever, and without recovery, from that celestiall inheri­tance. This happened to all those, who in that compass of time died in their Sins, and without doing penance for them. But after the way was open to heaven by the Merits of Jesus Christ, how many are there still, that enter not at all? Hell is filled dayly with millions, and Paradice continues in comparison like a desert. Why so? It is an effect of sin alone and impenitence. O, how well did the Wise man say, it is sin which makes men miserable. Miseros facit populos peccatum. Prov. 14. Is it possible, Theotime, that you should run so slightly over these fatal and horrible ef­fects of sin, that they should not move you in the least?

I might here recount the innumerable miseries, the continual and dayly effects of Sin: Death which it hath introduced from the beginning; barrenness of the Earth; Rebellion of living [Page 64]creatures; the deluge which drowned the world near two thousand years after the Creation; Plagues and Pestilence; war and famine; and all the Miseries, as well publick, as private, which we see and dayly feel, are so many unfortunate effects of Sin, whether of that of our first parent, or of those which men continually commit. For as the wise man saith, Fire, hail, famine, are made to revenge Sin. Eccl. 39. But I shall pass by all these evils, altho' most dreadfull and horrible, to come to others infinitely greater and more terrible, whereof those are but the fore runners, according to that infallible Testimony of the Son of God. Haec omnia initia sunt dolorum, Mar. 13. all these miseries, says he, are but the beginnings of others far greater.

ARTICLE III. Of the effects of Sin in Hell.

LEt us sink down into the Pit of Hell, that so we may conceive a more lively apprehension of the enormity of Mortal Sin: we shall there see the frightfull evills, which, this Monster hath produced; and by the vastness of so many dread­full effects, frame a judgment of the malice of that cause, which hath brought them forth; and we shall there learn two things, the first to de­test Sin, the author of so many evils: The Se­cond to conceive a wholesome fear of falling into that abiss of misery into which man is thrown by Sin. That which, St Bernard said, being most cer­tain. It is necessary we descend into Hell alive, that [Page 65]is, think seriously and often on it, That we may escape falling into it at the hour of death.

Consider then, Theotime, attentively, what Faith teacheth us concerning Hell; that it is an Eternal fire, which God hath prepared for the Devil and his Apostate Angels; and with which he hath also decreed to punish the Sins of men, who follow the rebellious example of those Ambitious Spirits.

This we learn from that terrible Sentence, which the Son of God shall pronounce at the day of judgment against the wicked. Go ye accursed into Everlasting Fire, prepared for the Devil and his Angels. Mat. 25. A dreadfull sentence, which contains no more then four words: but in those four words it comprehends Hell intirely, and all the evils, which compose it.

First it teacheth us, that the fame punishment, which is prepared for the Devils, is also appoint­ed for men; and that they shall be Companions of those wicked and damned Spirits, as they were their followers in their rebellion against God: and by this we may see what Mortall sin is, which renders us obnoxious to the same punishment and damnation with the Devils. Ponder this well, Theotime, and behold what it is to be damn­ed together with the Devils, and as the Devils are damned; and how great that offence must necessarily be, which deserves a punishment e­qual to that, with which the Devils are tor­mented.

But what will that punishment be? I confess we are not able to comprehend; but the Son of God by his infinite wisdom hath summ'd it up in four words, that we may more easily conceive it. Words which contain all the horror of Hell, Go [Page 66]says he, ye accursed into Everlasting fire. Mat. 25.

By these words are denoted the Separation from God, the curse of God, Fire, and Eternity. Behold in four words what Hell is, behold the punishment of Mortal Sin! To be separated from God, to be accursed of God, to be con­demned to fire, and that for ever. Who can think of these things, and not tremble with fear and horror? Stay some time here, Theotime, this is not a subject to be read in hast: revive these thoughts often, and pause a while upon each of these frightfull punishments.

To be separated from God, the Author and Fountain of all good, whose only aspect gives a blessing to all Creatures; and who no sooner turns away his face, but all things are in trouble and confusion; as the Prophet hath it, Ps. 103.

To be cursed of God, that is, of Goodness it self. To be cursed, that is, hated, rejected with Indignation, abandoned to all possible mischiefs, without relief, without comfort, without hope.

To be condemned to Fire, that is, to the most horrible of all torments.

And this for all Eternity, that is, without hope ever to be delivered from it; so that neither a hundred years, nor a hundred thousand years, nor a hundred thousand millions of years, make up the least part of that dreadfull duration. The unfortunate Damned shall be cursed of God for ever. They shall be damned to the Fire of Hell, and that for ever. From that very moment that this final decree shall be pronounced a­gainst them, there will be no further recourse, or hope of relief. This will be a dreadfull Thunder-bolt, which if once it falls upon their [Page 67]guilty heads, will never be withdrawn. It will incessantly torture them, without ever giving them the least repose. And during all eternity they shall never forget those four words of their Condemnation: Go ye accursed into everlasting Fire. O mighty God! how terrible art thou in thy Judgments? Is not he strangely blind, and wonderfully insensible, who fears not to fall into thy hands at the hour of Death? Who can live without an apprehension of that horrible Thun­der of thy final Judgment? It is not like the punishments and afflictions, which thou sendest to us during this life; and yet how fearfull are we of these, which last but for a time? whereas that shall never end. Sagittae thae transeunt: vox tonitrui tui in rotâ. Psal. 76. Thy Arrows, says the Prophet, that is, the afflictions of this life, are but passing; at least they end with life: But that terrible Judgment, which thou layest upon the wicked, is a Thunder that shall never cease. From the moment that it shall issue from thy hands, it continually rowls over their heads, and oppresses them without ceasing, and yet makes them not to dye.

ARTICLE IV. A continuation of the same Subject.

THis Subject is too vast, and too important, to content our selves with the little that we have said: Let us not leave it off so soon, Theotime, let us meditate again and again upon these four punishments of Mortal Sin, that we [Page 68]may comprehend them well, fear them, and conceive a Sacred horror of the cause, from whence they come.

First then, the Damned shall be separated from God, shall be cast out of his sight, never to see him more; and to be eternally deprived of the beatifical vision, and of all the felicities included in it. In a moment they shall see themselves fall'n from all those inestimable goods, which God hath prepared for his faithfull servants; which neither Eye hath seen, nor Ear hath heard, nor ever enter'd into the heart of man. 1 Cor. 2.9. Then they will perfectly know, what they have lost, they will be continually afflicted with rage and despair, to see that they have lost so rich treasures, without hopes of ever recovering them again. Then will the Prophecy of David be fully accomplished, which saith, the sinner shall see the blessings and favours, which God hath bestowed upon the just, and finding himself deprived, will rage with anger, gnash his teeth, and will pine away with grief, and all his desires will be frustrated, Psal. 112. and avail him nothing: for it is certain, that God will make the damned know the hap­piness, which they have lost; and this knowledge will be one of their greatest punishments, and the cause of all the rest; and that, which will highly increase this pain, will be the knowledge of the cause, viz. sin, which hath cast them into this final or never-ending misery. They will see that there was no other cursed cause of their utmost and irreparable desolation then that of sin; and the sorrow, which they shall conceive of this loss, shall be so much more encreas'd, as they shall more clearly understand, that it [Page 69]was by their own fault, that they are deprived of so great happiness; in that they have prefer­red fleeting and deceitfull pleasures, before real, and eternal blessings. From hence it is, that their sorrow and never-ending lamentations spring; from hence their tears and gnashing of teeth; whereof the Son of God speaks in the Gospel: but all to no purpose or effect. As long as God shall be God, they shall continually understand that Prophecy, Ʋs (que) in aeternum non videbit lumen, Psal. 48.20. They shall for ever be deprived of light: and those words of the Angel in the Apo­calips. c. 22.15. Foris canes, & impudici & homi­cidae, &c. From Heaven shall be cast Doggs and lascivious persons, Murderers and Idolaters, and Lyers. This is the miserable state to which those accur­sed of God, shall be reduced being separated from him for evermore; and that by a just judg­ment of God, who will forget them in the other, who forgot him in this present life, as a father of the Church says excellently well: Ʋltra nescientur a Deo, qui Deum scire noluerunt: morituri vitae, & morti sine fine victuri. Euseb. Emis. hom. 3. de Epiph. God will never acknowledge them for his servants, who would never acknowledge God for their Master. They shall dye to this mortal life, to live eternally to an everlasting death.

This is a most horrible punishment, but this shall not be all, for in the Second place, the Damned shall be accursed of God. What is it to be accursed? Do you understand well this word, Theotime, to be Cursed? and do you not tremble, when you know it? For to be cursed by God is not only to be out of his favour, to be loathed by him, which yet are dreadfull evils; [Page 70]But it is to be detested of God in that manner, so as to be rejected by him, and abandoned to all possible misfortunes. The Curse of Almighty God is not like that of men; for this is but a desire, or imprecation of some evil, which one man wishes to another: and this doth not all­ways take effect, because men desire evils, which they are not able to inflict. But the curse of God is efficacious; it causeth the evil, which it wisheth, puts it in execution, without any one being able to hinder, or resist it. Voluntati enim ejas quis resistit. Rom. 9. For if there be any re­sistance, it is that, which increaseth the curse, and the evil, which the cursed endure.

The opposition, which will augment the curse of the Damned, will consist in this. Their wic­ked and rebellious will shall eternally resist the will of God: and the will of God shall perpe­tually resist, and confound theirs. There never will be any agreement, saith St. Bernard, between those two wills; because the one is just, right, and equitable; the other is unjust, perverse, and wicked, nunquam recto pravo (que) conveniet: There will be an eternal opposition between these two wills; The one will incessantly desire, the other will perpetually hate the punishment of sin, from which however she shall never be delivered: she will indeed, continually employ her utmost endeavours to quit her self of her pain, but to no purpose. She will be incensed against her own torments, and against God himself. O what a torture is this, could we but understand it rightly? Quid iniquis voluntatibus tam contrarium, quam semper conari, impingere semper, & frustra. And is there any torment, (continues the same [Page 71]St. Bernard) greater then that of the depraved will of the damned? to be always carried on the one side with a continual desire, and to be met on the other with a continual resistance, and all this to no purpose, to no effect. Quid tam paenale, quam semper velle, quod nunquam erit, semper nolle, quod nunquam non erit? What affliction more painfull then always to desire that, which will never come to pass, and continually to wish to be freed from that, which they shall perpetually eudure. In aeternum non obtinebit quod vult, & quod non vult, nihilominus sustinebit. The Damned shall continue during all eter­nity, without obtaining what he desires, and yet shall everlastingly suffer the evils, which he would not suffer. Who, saith St. Bernard, will put all this in exe­cution? Rectus Dominus Deus noster qui & justitias dilexit. St. Bernard. l. 5. de Considerat. c. 12. It will be God, who is upright and just; and who for that reason can never agree with the unjust and depra­ved will of the Damned; but on the contrary will perpetually resist it, and eternally confound it. A misfortune, saith the same Saint, which shall certainly befall all those, who shall set them­selves against that streight rule, which knows not how to bend, or yield to the contrary, Vae univer­so, quod obvium fortasse offenderit cedere nescia rectitudo.

Such shall be the effect of the curse of God upon the Damned, from the first moment that it shall fall upon their heads. Doth it not hence appear how dreadfull Damnation is? But this is not all.

For in the third place, those wretched and ac­cursed Souls shall be cast into the torment of fire, even into the fire of Hell. This is the Minister and [Page 72]Instrument of the Divine Justice, the fruit and issue of Mortal Sin. Fire, saith the Prophet, shall go before, and consume his Enemies all about him. Psal. 96.3. And in another place, Our Lord in his anger shall surround them with trouble, and flames of fire shall devour them. Psal. 20.10. But what fire, Theotime? That fire which the divine fury, as the Scripture saith, hath enkindled against the wicked, and will burn even to the bottom of Hell. Deut. 32.22. That fire, in comparison whereof our Elementary fire is but a painted Figure. As St. Augustin saith; that fire, whose ardour is inconceivable, which burn, not only Bodies; but Souls also and Spirits by a wonderfull Vertue, which the divine justice grants unto it, raising it, above the power of Corporal nature, to be able to torment unbodied creatures: That fire, which by another quality, no less ad­mirable, burns all without either consuming any other, or ever spending its own substance. Our fire consumes the things, it burns; and when it hath wasted them, spends it self for want of fuel: but the fire of Hell is of a quite contrary nature. It conserves its proper matter, it burns without either consuming the matter, or ever diminishing it self. For this reason our saviour calls it, ignis inextinguibilis, an unextinguishable Fire, and a Father of the Church hath given the reason. Because the fire of Hell being created by God for the punish­ment of Sin, it chastiseth the sin as it is command­ed, without consuming the Author. Illa enim non casualis, sed rationalis exustio, quia culpam jubetur inquirere, substantiam nescit absumere. Euseb. Emis. hom. 1. ad. Manachos.

O Fire! is it possible that men should fear thee so little? is it not a wonderfull thing that so many [Page 73]words should be necessary to create in men a dread of that infernal fire? whereas we are so sensible of that, we see and feel amongst us. If a small spark fall but on our hands, it makes us cry out amain: if one were constrained to put his finger in the fire but for a quarter of an hour, he would not be able to endure it, and yet the fear of the fire of Hell moves us not at all. The Prophet crys out to all the world, Who of you can dwell with a devouring fire? or who can inhabit everlasting flames? Isai. 33.14. Yet in the mean time, there are but very few that concern themselves to avoid that horrible torment, or the object that deserves it, which is sin: or think seriously of the means to escape it at the hour of death, which are Penance, and a virtuous Life. Ponder this, Theotime, and do not follow the throng of those blind people, who run thus headlong to their ruine; and without either foresight, or prevention, precipitate themselves into this infernal fire.

Now, for the better prevention of this dread­full misfortune, let us consider its continuance; which will not be for a day, or a year, or a hun­dred years; but for all Eternity. Inignem Aeter­num, that is, this fire, and all the other torments of the Damned, shall never end, they shall en­dure as long as God shall be God. In this life we have this comfort in our greatest afflictions, that once they will have an end: Death the most fear­full of all evils puts an end to all the rest: in the worst of miseries one wishes that Death will come, and it comes at last. But in Hell we shall not have as much as this Satisfaction; Death there is inexorable: it is always present and allways [Page 74]absent. The Damned see it continually, it is al­ways before their eyes; and yet is always fly­ing from them; as it is said in the Apocalips; c. 9.6. Men shall then seek Death, and shall not find it, they shall wish to dye, and Death shall fly from them. What more frightfull State then that where one can have no other comfort then that, of Death, and yet Death will never come? there will be no other Life for those miserable Creatures then a perpetual Death; and no other Death then to live continually amidst those Tortures: as the learned St. Paulin in his Poetry said admirably well.

Vita erit sine fine mori: & mors Vivere poenis;
Et duranta suas pascere carne cruces.

Their Life shall be an endless Death, and their death shall consist in this, to live in Torments, and by means of their never-to-be-consumed bo­dy continually to maintain their Punishment. Their Torments, saith another Father, would in­cessantly destroy them; but the justice of God will not permit them to dye, and they will continue in that state for all eternity, without ever put­ting an end to their misfortunes, which will al­ways fly from them, and eternally avoid them. Occidente poenâ, & vivificante sententiâ, stabit saeculis materia reparabilis, & nunquam ad metam malorum termino fugiente perveniet. Eus. Emis. hom. 1 ad Manachos. From hence proceed those horrible Crys and Lamentations, from hence that Rage and everlasting Despair of the Damned, who shall clearly see, that they shall never be freed from their Miseries. Their minds shall always be full of this sad thought; Thou shalt never be [Page 75]freed from hence. What? not after a thousand years? not after Ten thousand years? not after a Hundred thousand years? nothing less. Not af­ter a Million of years? no, Never. Thou shalt be Eternally Tormented. in ignem aeternum, in ig­nem aeternum, in ignem aeternum. O Eternity! how Dreadfull art thou? O Theotime! is it possible you can read this without trembling? as for my part, I declare, I can never think of it without an Horrour. But it is to little purpose to have a dread of Hell, if we do not endeavour to avoid it: wherefore let us come to the Conclusion which follows.

The Conclusion of this ARTICLE. Of the pains of Hell.

IT is of infinite importance, not to read slight­ly and in passant, these frightfull pains, that shall never have an end; but into which we may dayly fall. For this reason, Theotime, I conjure you to read them often with great attention, and add three or four reflections, which here I shall set before you.

The first is, that all which we have said, or can be spoken of these Torments, is nothing, if com­pared to what they are in themselves. Humane discourses rather diminish then augment them. There can be no exaggeration on this Subject, for the Punishment doth far surpass all our expressions.

The Second is, that their pains are a just Pu­nishment of Mortal Sin. There is not any other, [Page 76]besides that cursed cause, which hath brought forth these so dreadfull effects of the Divine An­ger: And which hath set God and man at such a Frightfull and final distance. Iniquitates vestrae diviserunt inter vos, & Deum vestrum, Esai. 52.2. These so Vast and Eternal Pains, may make us understand three things. The greatness and enor­mity of Mortal Sin; the Hatred which God bears it, since he punisheth it so dreadfully: And the detestation we ought to have of it, as well for those Pains, as for the hatred God bears to Sin, Pon­der this well, Theotime, and reflect seriously upon it.

The 3d. is, That you have merited these pains of Hell, by the Sins you have committed; and al­ready deserved to be of the number of those un­happy damned, of whom we but just now spoke: To suffer the Tortures which they endure: to be from this instant out of hopes of ever seeing God, or ever being freed from Hell. Is not this consideration enough to make you weep and la­ment? and is not this an urgent motive to raise in you a detestation of Sin, which hath cast you into such eminent danger, the only thought whereof ought to make you tremble?

But in the fourth place, reflect upon the cause, which hath hitherto preserved you from that dreadfull danger; and you will find no other, then the sole goodness of Almighty God, which hath not treated you according to your deserts, permitting you to dye in that sinfull State, as most justly he might have done; and as he hath done to others that had committed no greater sins then yours: Where had you now been, had he treated you in that manner? You had been [Page 77]before now eternally lost, and damned for ever. And why hath he not done it, but only out of that infinite goodness he hath shewn you, ex­pecting daily your repentance? O, Theotime, how well may you say with the Prophet, Misericordia Domini quia non sumus consumpti: quià non defece­runt miserationes ejus. Thren. 3.22. Without que­stion it proceeds only from the sole mercy of God, that you have yet time to work your Sal­vation. How perfect then ought your love to be towards him, who hath shew'd himself so merci­full towards you? and what can you refuse to do, both for his sake and your own Salvation, who hath yet granted you time, wherein you may secure it.

The fifth and last Reflection is, that you can­not now work your Salvation, nor avoid for the future that Eternal Damnation, except you change your life, and do Penance, to which I exhort you in this Treatise: They are the ex­press words of the Son of God, repeated thrice in the fifteenth Chapter of St. Luke. Dico vobis, nisi poenitentiam habueritis, omnes simul peribitis. I say unto you, unless you do Penance, you shall all perish. Take notice, he saith All without exception, either of old or young, or what condition soever. Con­clude from hence, and make your resolution: And remember, that upon this resolution de­pends your Salvation and your Eternity. Where­fore do not make a slight one, but a constant and an effectual resolution; that is, a purpose followed by the effect of a real and serious Conversion.

ARTICLE V. Of the effects which Sin produces in respect of God himself.

THis Title is surprizing, and, I declare that if it be taken according to the rigour of the expression, it imports a thing equally incredi­ble, as impossible: For how can God, who is per­fectly unchangeable, receive any alteration in himself from external causes? This cannot be. That Sin should have filled Heaven with disor­ders, Earth with miseries, Hell with confusion and horrour, is but too true: But that God himself should be sensible of these effects, this is that which cannot be easily understood.

It is true, Theotime, that this is hard to be un­derstood; but the Sacred Scripture, that Oracle of Truth, represents unto us in so many places the different effects, which Sin seems to cause in respect of God, that we cannot doubt it. For of all the passions, which men conceive against evil, or against that which is offensive to them; as Grief, Sadness, Repentance, Hatred, Anger, In­dignation, Fury: There is none which the Scrip­ture doth not take notice of, as remarkable in God against Sin.

It saith in Genesis, c. 6. that, God seeing the Sins of men, was touched with an hearty sorrow, and repented himself that he had Created man, who had abus'd his liberty so heinously to offend him. Tactus dolore cordis intrinsecus, dixit, paenitet me foecisse hominem. It saith, that those, who Sin, [Page 79]contristate the Holy Ghost. Nolite contristare Spi­ritum Sanctum. Eph. 4.30. God hates the wicked and his wickedness. Wisd. 14.9. that he is angry against those, that offend him. That Sin enkindles his Fury and Indignation. Iratus est furore Dominus in populum tuum, & abominatus est haeriditatem suam. Psal. 105.40. The whole Scripture is full of these expressions, which give us plainly to un­derstand, that Sin which hath caused a disorder in all Gods creatures, hath not spared the Crea­tor; and that this Infernall Monster, as much as possible, attaques God himself, and were it pos­sible, would destroy him.

It is true, Theotime, (and this we ought to ob­serve well in this place) that these different af­fections, which the Scripture attributes to God, in respect of Sin, are not to be found in God in the same manner, as in men; for they cause in men a discomposure of the mind, from whence they are call'd Passions, or the sufferings of the Soul; but they make no such change in God, who being unchangeable cannot be moved, or suffer by different affections. When therefore in Scripture it is said, that God for example, is touched with Grief, Hatred, Anger, and the like, this is to be understood, as Divines express it, no further then as to what concerns the exteri­our effects, which appear to us, and are such, as are amongst us the usual effects of a sorrowfull & angry mind; and not as to any change of affecti­on, which in God is none. Quantum ad effectum, non quantum ad affectum.

But this is no hindrance, but that we may draw from these passages of Scripture, infallible con­sequences to prove the enormity of Mortal Sin. [Page 80]For it is reasonable to judge of the malice of a cause, by the evil effects, which of its own nature it is capable to produce; although it happen that the effect may not follow, by reason of some ex­trinsecal impediment. Sin therefore of it self be­ing capable to produce in God all those Passions, we have spoken of, tho' his Sovereign perfecti­on renders him uncapable to receive them; this doth not diminish in the least the malice of it; which is always such, that in as much as in it lies, it produceth in God all those passions, and ex­cites in him Grief, Sadness, Hatred, Anger, Fu­ry and Indignation.

O Sin, how wicked and cruel art thou! since thou hast no regard to God himself; but endea­vourest to attaque that Sovereign Majesty, even in his Throne of Glory. A Prophet once said; let Samaria be destroy'd, because it hath raised bitterness and sadness to his God. Pereat Samaria, quia ad amaritudinem concitavit Deum suum, Osea. 14. But with how much greater reason ought we to say, that Sin should for ever perish, seeing it at­taques even God himself, and in as much as in it lies, fills that infinite Ocean of Sweetness and Bounty with Gall and Bitterness.

Behold, Theotime, the reasons we have to detest and abhor Sin, from whence we may form to our selves a motive of true Contrition; Behold how we are to detest Sin, not only by reason of the evils which it heaps upon us, whereof we have spoken above; but for the evils with which it affects even God himself, for once it is capable to cause all those effects in God, (altho' it doth not effectually produce them, for the reason above mentioned) it follows of necessity, that the in­jury [Page 81]which it offers to God, is dreadfully beyond measure great.

Conclude then with a strong resolution, to hate this enemy of God, this, if possible, disturber of the Deity.

ARTICLE VI. Of the Effects of Sin in the Person of Jesus Christ.

THat which Sin could not effect in God, it hath brought about in his only Son our Lord Jesus Christ; and if the Divinity, by rea­son of it's infinite perfections, be raised above the attempts of the malice of this Infernal Mon­ster, the most sacred humanity of the Son of God hath suffer'd for all, beyond all that which we can either speak, or think. Consider this well, Theotime, and observe once more the enormity of Mortal Sin, by the number and greatness of those evils, which it made him to suffer, who un­dertook to satisfy for it, and destroy it.

Consider first, that it was Sin which made the Son of God descend from Heaven; that is, which obliged him to take our humanity upon him, and stoop to that wonderfull abasement of his Person, (which St. Paul called annihilation, or becoming nothing. Phil. 2.6.9.) as to make himself Man for us and our Salvation; to take the habit and form of a Servant, to put himself in a capacity to satisfy the Divine Justice for the in­finite injury done him by Mortal Sin: An injury never to be repaired, but by one who should be God and Man.

Secondly, this adorable Mystery of the Incar­nation was no sooner accomplished, but the first thought of the Son of God made Man was to offer himself to his Eternal Father, a Sacrifice to the Divine Justice in satisfaction for all the Sins of Men, as he himself said by the Prophet, Psal. 39.7. The Sacrifices, and all Holocausts which hitherto have been offered to appease thy wrath against sin, were not able to give thee satis­faction: wherefore I am come, and knowing that it was thy will that I should satisfy. I am content, O my God! and embrace with all my heart, this thy good pleasure, and decree.

From that first moment even untill the time of the Passion of the Son of God, his life was a continual Sacrifice which he offered to his Father; the divine love always burning, & never permit­ting him any repose, untill he had accomplished the work he came for; untill by his death he had conquer'd, and destroy'd, that cruel Enemy he came to fight with, which was sin. This is that, which he himself testified, when he said, I have a Baptism, wherewith I am to be Baptized, and how am I streightned interiourly untill it be dispatcht. Luk. 12.5.

He who could recount the pains and travels of the life of the Son of God, his fast, his preaching, his watchings, his prayers, and all that which he hath done and suffered, as well in Soul, as body, during the 33 years of his mortal Life, would easily perceive, how all that tended to the destruction of sin, for which he principally came into the world.

The time at length approaching, wherein he was to enter into that last Combat of that so [Page 83]great and signal War, which he was come to wage to free us all from sin, and the captivity of the Devil its first Author; what was he not ob­liged to do and suffer that he might conquer so potent an enemy? it is true that he gained a glorious victory, but it was with the loss of his precious life, and at the price of his own death. But what death, Theotime? A death full both of sorrows and reproaches, the death of the Cross: A death accompanied with all imaginable affronts, and executed by those that he had in the highest degree obliged; betrayed and delivered by one of his Disciples to his mortal enemies; abando­ned also and denied by his own Disciples; ar­rained before a Judge; accused as a Criminal; Sentenced and condemned as a Malefactor; ex­posed to the scoffs and derisions of the Multi­tude. Before his execution he was Scourged with no less cruelty, then shame and disgrace: deli­vered over to the insolence of Soldiers, who Crowned him with Thorns as a mock-King, in derision and scorn. In fine, led to execution, nailed to the Cross, exposed to the view of all the world between two Thieves, as if he had been an Impostor, a Cheat, and the worst of men. Amidst these excessive pains of his Body, and yet far greater anguishes of his Soul, over­whelmed with sorrow and confusion, he expires upon the Cross, and commends his Spirit into his hands, who sent him.

O Theotime, have you ever seriously thought of these sufferings of the Son of God, your Sa­viour? But perhaps you have not reflected upon that which caused them; wonder at his good­ness, but be not surprised, if I tell you, that it is [Page 84]nothing else but Sin: It was Sin alone that Cru­cified the Son of God. It is true they were the Jews, who persecuted him to death; it was Pi­late who condemned him, and the Executioners who nailed him on the Cross: It is also most true that he offer'd himself unto death, and un­derwent all these hardships, because he was so pleased; Oblatus est quia ipse voluit. Isa. 53. It is moreover most certain that his Eternal Father desired that of him, and obliged him to drink that bitter Chalice: But it is also without que­stion, that Sin was the first cause of the suffering of the Son of God; it was that which first pro­secuted him, this also was his most cruel Execu­tioner. If he offer'd himself to death, it was, be­cause he had willingly charged himself with our Sins. If the Eternal Father would also have him suffer, it was to receive from him the satisfacti­on which was due to his Divine Justice upon ac­count of Sin. God, saith Isaias, c. 53. had laid on him all our Iniquities. And the Eternal Father himself said, that he had strucken him for the Sins of his people. Propter scelus populi percussi eum.

Hearken here to the description, which the same Prophet makes, speaking of the torments of the Son of God, which he saw, as clearly in Spi­rit, as if he had beheld them in effect. There was no Beauty in him, nor comeliness, and we have seen him despised, and most abject of Men, a man of sor­rows, and knowing infirmities, and his look as it were hid and despised; whereupon neither have we esteem­ed him. He surely hath born our infirmities, and our sorrows he hath carryed, and we have thought him as it were a leper, and Stricken of God, and humbled. And he was wounded for our iniquities, he was broken for our [Page 85]sins. The discipline of our peace upon him, and with his Stripes we are healed.

Behold dear Theotime, how much our sins have made Jesus Christ to suffer. Behold to what con­dition that cruel enemy hath reduced the Son of God: Is not this sufficient to make us judge of the Greatness and enormity of Mortall Sin, see­ing it hath made him to suffer so great torments, who had undertaken to destroy it, seeing also the fault could not be expiated, nor the damage repaired, but by the death of God made man, whose sole life is infinitely more estimable and precious then those of all Men, Angels, and other possible creatures put together? Ought we not then to say that the wounds we have received by Sin, are truly dreadfull, since they could not be cured by any thing less then the blood of the Son of God? Agnosce homo, quam gravia sint nulnera, pro quibus necesse fuit unigenitum Dei filium vulnerari. Si non essent haec ad mortem, & ad mortem, sempiter­nam, nunquam prohis filius Dei moreretur. Bern. Serm. 3. de Nat. Dom. O man (saith St Bernard) acknowledge how great those gashes were, that obliged the only Son of God to be wounded to cure them. If those Sores had not been mortall, and the causes of an eter­nal death, the Son of God had never dyed for their recovery.

Can there be a more considerable motive to lament and abhorr our sins, then when we reflect that they were the cause why the Son of God our Saviour Suffered so much, and also why he died upon the Cross? The Jews once wept over, and bewail'd the destruction of the Royal City of Je­rusalem, because of the loss of their King; Cecidit corona capitis nostri: vae nobis, quia peccanimus! [Page 86]Thren. 5. How much more reason have we to lament our misfortune who by our sins are the only cause of the death of Jesus Christ, our King, our Redeemer, and our Glory?

Weigh well, Theotime, and meditate upon this motive of sorrow and contrition; it will pierce your heart, except it be harder, and more obdu­rate then the very Stones; and say with St Ber­nard, ubi supra. Pudet itaque, dilectissimi, propriam negligenter dissimulare passionem, cui tantam a maje­state tantâ video exhiberi compassionem. Compatitur filius Dei, & plorat; homo patitur, & ridebit.

It is a shamefull thing for Christians not to acknow­ledge the evils, which sin hath brought upon them, when they consider, what so supreme a Majesty, as that of the Son of God, hath been obliged to suffer for them. The Son of God takes compassion on the miseries of man, and weeps for sorrow; whilst insensible man, who is overwhelmed with his own Sins, is not concern'd at all. O Theotime, have a care, I will not say only, that you never become so blind and insensible, as to flight the grievousness and enormity of mortall Sin, but that you never permit a day to pass, in which with all the vigour of your heart, you do not conceive new hatred against that infernall Monster, which could not be destroyed, but by the passion and death of the Son of God our Sa­viour.

CHAP. XII. The practice of Contrition upon the Precedent Motives.

LEt us now resume all that, which we have said concerning the Motives of Contrition, since the Eighth Chapter, that we may come to the practice of this great Virtue, without which it is impossible to be justifyed in the sight of God.

We have said that to have Contrition, we must know the enormity or grievousness of Mortall Sin, and we have made that Enormity appear from several heads.

First, because it is incomprehensible in it self, as we shewed in the Eighth Chapter.

2dly, From the knowledge we have of it from the Sacred Scripture, which discovers unto us the several Signal and most enormous indignities of Sin; whilst it treats of it, as a Rebellion a­gainst God; a detestable ingratitude; a con­tempt of his Holy will, a postponing the Creator to the Creature, and a preferring of our own, be­fore the will of God; which we spoke of in the 9th, Chapter.

3dly. From the horrid offence or injury which by Sin is done to God; an injury really infinite, and so great, that no pure Creature, either Man, or Angel is capable by himself to make satisfaction for it; As we have seen in the 10th. Chapter.

4ly. From the dreadfull effects, which by sin are caused in all places and in all sorts of Sub­jects; in Heaven, in Earth, in Hell; in the An­gels, [Page 88]in Man, in God himself, and in his Son Jesus Christ; as we have shewed in the several Arti­cles of the 11th, Chapter.

After all these Motives thus treated, to give you an insight into the nature of that sorrow, which is called Contrition of your Sins, you must read over these same Motives with much attenti­on again and again, not once or twice, but many times; you must begg continually of God that he will vouchsafe to grant you his Grace to un­derstand them well, and that your Soul may be moved with them: in reading them you must pause some time upon those which touch you most; you must weigh them well, and imprint them in your heart: and having understood them, cast your self upon your knees, and deplore your Sins in the presence of God, upon those motives which you conceived best, and which affected you most; demand of him pardon, and beseech him to shew his mercy toward you, making use of this, or the like prayer.

O my God! have pitty on me, and let me partake of the effects of thy great mercy. I ac­knowledge now the evil, which I have done, and apprehend the grievousness of my Sins. Thou art he, O my God, whom I have offended; whom I have attacqued, rebellious, ungratefull, and perfi­dious Creature, as I am. Thee have I aban­doned to follow my pleasures and passions; I have lost thy grace; and I, who have been created to thy Image and likeness, by my Sins have made my foul like unto those monsters of ingratitude, the Devils. I have lost Heaven my blessed Coun­try; I have merited Hell and Eternal Damnati­on, which I shall never be able to avoid without [Page 89]the assistance of thy great mercy. But above all I have infinitely offended thy bounty. The injury which I have offered it, is so great, that it caused thy Son Jesus Christ my Saviour to suffer death. O my God! how can I worthily deplore so great an evil! who will give water to my head, and a fountain of Tears unto my eyes to deplore night and day my misery and malice, and to do Penance for my sins?

Make this or the like prayer; but make it from the bottom of your soul; make it with an hum­ble and contrite heart in the presence of God, in acknowledgment of your sins and misery. Run it not over briefly; take time to make it; make it long, and for many days: Put your self in the State of a true Penitent in the sight of God, and, that you may perform it better, make use of this means, which I shall give you.

CHAP. XIII. Of Examples of Penance taken out of Holy Writ.

ALltho' what we have said may be very effe­ctual to excite Contrition, and a true sorrow for our Sins; yet we will add in this place another means, which without question must needs be more efficacious. They are some Examples of true Peni­tents, which we find in the Holy Scripture, as well in the Old, as New Testament. These are the true models, by which we may frame ours, and learn what is true Penance, and how to pra­ctice it. Reade then, Theotime, and attend.

Consider David after his Sin, how full of interi­our trouble and concern he was for the evil he had done; bedewing, as he saith, his bed with his tears, and having always his Sins before his eyes, demanding mercy of God, and beseeching him to turn away his eyes from his Iniquities, not to take away from him his Holy Spirit; not to contemn the Sacrifice, which he offer'd him, of an afflicted mind, of an humble and con­trite heart. Behold a true Penitent, behold what true Contrition is. Vade & fac similiter. Imitate this Example, and you are a true Penitent. You will find these excellent dispositions of a penitent mind in the seven Penitential Psalms, if you reade them wth attention. Behold King Ezechias weeping and lamenting in the presence of God, and promising him to pass again over in his heart, and in the bitterness of his Soul all his mis­spent years, to bewail his Sins, and obtain re­mission of them. Reade his Canticle which begins Ego dixi in dimidio. Esai. 38. Cast your eyes upon the good Israelites, who were sent Captives into Babilon after the taking of Jerusalem, doing Pe­nance for their Sins, which had thrown them in­to that miserable state; crying out to God from the bottom of their hearts, Baruch. 2. We have sinned against the Lord our God in not obeying his word. To the Lord our God belongs justice and up­rightness; but to us nothing but shame and confusion, which our iniquities have deserved: We have sinned, we have done evil, we have dealt unjustly, O Lord our God, in all thy Commandments. Turn from us thy anger; hear, O Lord, our Prayers, and our Pe­titions; open thy eyes and consider that the dead praise thee not, but the Soul which is sensible and afflicted [Page 91]with the greatness of the evils she hath done, and per­forms due Penance for them.

Consider Manasses also in his Conversion groaning under the weight of his Sins, and la­menting his Iniquities with such a sorrow, that he acknowledged himself unworthy even to lift up his eyes towards Heaven; so great, he confest, were his offences! You will perceive these words to proceed from a truly penitent Soul, over­whelmed with sorrow for his Sins. Oratio Manasses. 'Tis true, O Lord, I have infinitely offended thee, and my Sins are more in number then the Sand of the Sea; I am unworthy to lift up my eyes towards Heaven to demand thy mer­cy, having provoked thy anger, as I have done, by my Iniquities: But now, O my God, I pro­strate my self from my heart before thee to beg thy mercy. I have sinned, O my God, I have sinned: I acknowledge all the evil I have done, pardon, O Lord, pardon. I beg of thee, and ear­nestly beseech thee, do not destroy me with my Iniquities; do not reserve me to the utmost ri­gour of thy Justice; do not condemn me for e­ver unto the fire of Hell: Remember that thou art my God; the God of Penitents, and thy im­mense bounty will best appear in me, whilst it makes thee to save a miserable Sinner unworthy of thy grace, and gives me occasion to praise thee eternally for thy infinite goodness.

Go to the Gospel, and there you will find more pressing examples of Penance and Con­trition.

There you may see a holy Penitent, moved to that degree with sorrow for her Sins, that she seeks the Son of God, and having found him, [Page 92]casts her self at his feet, washes them with her tears, (such was the compunction of her heart, and so abundantly did they flow) wipes them with her hair, and annoints them with precious Ointment: thus consecrating these Riches, that Hair, those Tears to pious uses, which till then she had employ'd in vanity. And thus that sorrow, she had so happily conceived, broke forth into all the Signs of the love of God, and spared nothing to serve him, from whom she expected the remission of her Sins. So that She deserved to hear from the mouth of our Saviour. Luc. 7.47. that her Sins were forgiven her, because she loved much.

There you shall find the head of the Apostles unfortunately fall'n, denying his divine Master three several times. But he had scarce ended his last denial, when our Saviour by a glance of his eye which penetrated Peters heart, makes him to remember himself, acknowledge his fault, and conceive so great a grief, that going out he wept bitterly for the Sin. Egressus foras flevit amare. Mat. 26.75. And the grief continued all his life.

You will find in the Gospel two other exam­ples of true penance, which the Son of God him­self proposed in two parables, which he set forth for that intent.

The first is in the person of the Prodigal Son, under which figure he sets before our eyes a per­fect pattern of a Sinner returning again to God by means of Penance. Luk. 15. This poor strayed young man after he had spent all his Estate, is forced by the sense of his miseries to reflect, or return to himself, and say; O how many hired Servants are there in my Fathers house, who abound with bread, and live at case, and I miserable wretch am ready to starve [Page 93]with hunger. I will arise, and go to my Father, and say, Father I have sinned against Heaven and a­gainst you, I am not now worthy to be called your Son, permit me only to be like one of your hired Servants. He had no sooner spoke these words, but pre­sently without delay he puts them in execution; Leaves the place of his misery, comes and casts himself at his Fathers feet, to beg pardon and mer­cy at his hands; and such and so great was this his repentance; that whereas he only demanded a place amongst his Servants, he was admitted unto that of his Son which he had lost.

Consider well this pattern, Theotime, imitate it in your Repentance, and return to God.

First, Practice well that, which is signified by these words, in se reversus; returning into himself; for one must return into ones self to return to God; that is to say, one must acknowledge the miserable condition, to which he is reduced by Sin; the distance from God, the loss of his grace, the lack of Spiritual favours, and parti­cularly of Divine Inspirations; and above all, the continual danger of Damnation, wherein one is.

Secondly, in this view of your misery, con­ceive a horrour of it, and form in your heart a prompt and firm resolution to return unto your Heavenly Father, in those words of the Prodigal Son, Surgam & ibo ad Patrem: I will rise from my misery, and I will go towards my Eternal Fa­ther; I will declare my fault, and ask him par­don, submitting my self in all things to his will.

Thirdly, do not deferr, no more then the Prodigal Son, the performance of your resoluti­on; begin immediately and in earnest to do Pe­nance for your Sins: Prostrate your self in the [Page 94]presence of God, and beg his pardon, prepare your self for a good Confession, using all the necessary means to make it well: and in this Confession, or even before, make use often of those words of the Prodigal. Pater! peccavi in Coelum & coram te, jam non sum dignus vocari filius tuns: fac me sicut unum de mercenariis tuis. But ponder well what they signify; for by those words you profess to God that you have grie­vously offended his Fatherly bounty; that, as a degenerate Child, you have abused all his graces; that you have not been ashamed to affront him even in his prefence, and in the sight of the whole Court of Heaven; that you acknowledge your self unworthy to appear before him, or from thence forward to be treated by him, as his Child; that you only implore his mercy and the pardon of your Sins, protesting to serve him faithfully from henceforward, to do Penance and accomplish all his Commands, as a good and faithfull Servant. O what an excellent pattern is this, Theotime, if you did but know how to imi­tate it well.

The other example is that of the Publican; in whose person the Son of God hath again repre­sented to the life, the dispositions, which he re­quires in a true Penitent: And that he might set it forth to the best advantage, behold over against him a false or feigned Penitent, who had nothing in him, besides an appearance or a de­ceitfull shew of Penance.

Two men (saith he, Luke 18.) went up into the Temple to pray, the one was a Pharisee, the other a Publican; the Pharisee standing prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks, that I am not [Page 95]like other men, Thieves, Adulterers, Ʋnjust, as also this Publican; I fast twice a week, I pay exactly the tenths of all my goods. Behold an example of a feign'd Penitent, who hath no sorrow for his own sins, but who looks more into the sins of others, then his own; who justifies himself by the sins he hath not committed, instead of con­demning himself for those he is guilty of: who esteems himself just before God, when he is ex­empt from some certain sins, altho' he commit others, and sometimes greater. Who thinks he sufficiently satisfies for his sins by some exterior good works, as fasting, and the like, neglecting in the mean time, Penance of heart, and amend­ment of life. Behold the Idea of a false Penitent, which is but too frequently found amongst Chri­stians. Look now upon the Picture of a true one.

On the contrary, saith our Saviour, the Publican standing afar off would not so much as lift up his Eyes to Heaven; but knockt his breast, saying, God have mercy upon me Miserable Sinner. In this Ex­ample are set forth all the dispositions of a true Penitent.

First, a profound humility, which made him stay below in the Temple at a distance, and se­parated from others, as if he apprehended him­self by reason of his sins unworthy to approach to God, or intermix himself amongst the just. But by how much he retired farther off in himself, by so much, saith St. Augustine, he approached nearer to God. Publicanus autem, de longinquo stabat, & Deo tamen ipse propinquabat; cordis conscientia re­movebat, pietas applicabat. Serm. 36. de vers. Dom.

Secondly, the shame and confusion he had to appear before God with a Conscience loaden [Page 96]with sins: a confusion so great, that it hindred him from raising his Eyes towards Heaven.

Thirdly, the sorrow he had in his heart for having grievously offended God, in token where­of he knocks his breast, denoting by that action, (saith St. Ciprian) the sins concealed within. Sed percutiebat pectus suum, ut peccata intus inclusa testaretur. De Orat. Dominica.

Fourthly, the pardon he emplored of God, as a true Penitent, having no other motive but his own unworthiness on the one side, and on the other the pure mercy of God, by which alone he hoped for pardon, and not by his own Merits.

Behold, Theotime, Examples and patterns of true Penance, by which we ought to form and model ours. They are proposed to us by the Holy Ghost for that end: and the two last were drawn, and formed by the Son of God, to teach us how to behave our selves in that great action. For this reason if you resolve upon Penance, and a serious Conversion; you must read them attentively; Consider exactly all and every one of their actions, so to conform your self to them, as near as you can. And as you have imitated those Penitents in their Sins and extra­vagances; so also imitate them in their Penance. As St. Ambrose said to a great Emperour: Qui secutus es errantem, sequere poenitentem.

The Third Part of this Treatise of Penance, which is Confession.

HAving spoken of Contrition and the prepara­tions necessary to obtain that Eminent Virtue; we now come to the Confession of Sins, which is the Second part of Pennance, as we have said above in the Second Chapter; which you would do well to read once more in this place, for it serves as a foundation to all, that we are a­bout to say of Confession; which we shall treat with all possible brevity, yet not without giving you all the knowledge, which is necessary to make it well. But I beseech you, Theotime, read with at­tention and Application of mind what we shall say.

CHAP. I. Of the Institution and Necessity of Confession.

THE first thing, which is necessary to be known in this place, is, who it was that in­stituted Confession, and of what necessity it is for the Salvation of Souls.

We cannot better learn these two truths then from the Holy Church, which hath clearly ex­plain'd them by the Council of Trent. Sess. 14. Chap. 1.

The Council saith, that Pennance was always necessary, before the law of Grace, for all those who had sinned Mortally, and that they could ne­ver [Page 98]receive the remission of their Sins, but by de­testation and hatred of Sin, and a holy sorrow of mind for the enormous offence they had commit­ed against God: Yet that this Virtue was not raised to the dignity of a Sacrament, before the coming of the Son of God, who instituted it on the day of his Resurrection, when being in the midst of the Apostles he breathed on them, as the Scripture saith, and said these words: Receive the Holy Ghost, whose sins you remit they are remitted, and whose sins you retain they are retained. Jo. 20.23.

By this so remarkable an action, saith the Council, and by those so distinct words, the Fathers with a com­mon consent have always understood, that the power to remit, or retain Sins, was given to the Apostles and their Lawfull Successors, to reconcile those unto God, who had fall'n into Sin after Baptism. Con. Tred. Sess. 14. c. 1.

And in the fifth Chapter, treating of the in­stitution, and necessity of the Confession of Sins, which is the Second part of this Sacrament, it speaks in these terms. Concerning the Institution of the Sacrament of Penance already explicated; The Ʋniversall Church hath always understood, that our Lord instituted the Entire Confession of Sins, and that it is necessary by divine right for all those who have fall'n into Mortall Sin after Baptism. Because our Lord Jesus Christ being ready to Ascend into Heaven hath left Priests in his place in Quality of Presidents and Judges, to whom all the Sins which the Faithfull had committed after Baptism, ought to be discovered, that they might give their Judgment, either of Absolution or Retention, by Vertue of that power, which was gi­ven them.

From all this Doctrine of the Holy Church we [Page 99]learn two truths: The first is, that Confession is is instituted by Jesus Christ. The second, that it is necessary by Divine right for the remission of Mortal Sins committed after Baptism, as Bap­tism is necessary for the remission of Original Sin.

We must notwithstanding take notice that in case of necessity, and where Confession is impos­sible, it may be supplied by Contrition, as Bap­tism is also supplied by the same action in those, who are capable to make it, supposing that in this Contrition be included a will to receive Baptism, or make a Confession: But in this case it is necessary that the Contrition be perfect, and proceed from the pure love of God.

CHAP. II. What is Sacramental Confession?

THis word Confession is understood two ways in Scripture, for sometimes it signi­fies the praise of God, sometimes the accusation of Sins; and the reason is, because that word signifies an avouching, and an acknowledgment; and to Confess signifies to avouch or acknow­ledge any thing. When we acknowledge the greatness of God or his benefits, this is called Confession, which signifies as much as praise or benediction which we give to God: When we acknowledge the Sins we have committed, it is a Confession by which we accuse our selyes. This made St. Augustin say that Confession belongs not only to Sinners, who accuse themselves, but also [Page 100]to him that praises God. Confiteri non solius pecca­toris, sed etiam laudatoris. Aug. Serm. 8. de verb. Dom. And St. Bernard adds, that these two Con­fessions are necessary, the one for Sinners, the o­ther for the Just. Cum mala tua confiteris Sacrifi­cium Deo Spiritus contribulatus; cum Dei beneficia, immolas Deo Sacrificium laudis: abs (que) confessione ju­stus judicatur ingratus, & peccator mortuus reputa­tur. Confessio igitur est peccatoris vita, justi gloria. Bern. Serm. 40. de diversis. Each one of these, says he, offers a Sacrifice to God, the one of Contri­tion, the other of praise. Without the first, Sinners continue in Death, and the Just without the second are accounted ungratefull to God; and thus Confession gives life to Sinners, and glory to the Just.

We speak here in this place only of the Con­fession of Sins, and of that only as it is a part of the Sacrament of Penance, which we define thus: An accusation of all the Sins one has committed which is made to the Priest as Vicar of Jesus Christ, to re­ceive Absolution thereof.

In this definition we must particularly take notice of the word Accusation, which signifies much, but ordinarily is but little understood: for it doth not signify a simple recital of their Sins, as it happens to the greatest part of Peni­tents, who Confess their Sins, as if they were recounting a Story: This word then betokens quite another thing, and means a declaration which the Penitent makes of his Sins to the Priest, as a Criminal to his Judge, that is, to denounce them, to acknowledge ones self guilty, and to blame ones self, to demand pardon for them, professing a regret or trouble of mind for having committed them, protesting not to offend any [Page 101]more; and submitting ones self to the Conditi­ons and Punishments the Judge shall please to im­pose.

Behold what, properly speaking, Sacramental Confession is; which is much different from that which is frequently practised by Penitents.

It is rightly called, (saith the learned Catechism of the Council of Trent. de Penitent. n. 51.) an Ac­cusation, because Sins are not to be so recounted as tho' we boasted of our wickedness; nor are they to be so told, as if for divertisement to some idle hearers we were telling a Story. But they are so to be declared by a mind accusing it self, as that we desire also to revenge them in our selves. That is, we must accuse our selves with the spirit, and disposition of a Cri­minal before his Judge.

And the reason is manifest, because the Coun­cil of Trent above-cited saith, that the Sacrament of Penance is instituted by the Son of God as a Tribunal and Judgment, where the Sins of the Faithfull must be discovered before the Priest; who ought to judge them, and where the Peni­tent by consequence ought to appear as culpable: Now he cannot appear as such, if he be not ac­cused, and he cannot be accused, but by himself: the declaration then of his Sins must be such an Accusation as we have spoken of, being it is made with this intent to obtain remission, and pardon.

CHAP. III. Of the Conditions necessary for a good Confession.

IT is easy to form a judgment of them from the precedent definition: For being it is an Ac­cusation, it follows, that it ought to have two Conditions amongst others: It must be entire, that is, of all the Sins they have committed, and it must be made with sorrow for having com­mitted them. He who accuses himself, that he may obtain pardon, must accuse himself of all the evils he hath done, and testify the sorrow he hath for his faults.

These two Conditions require or produce some others: for the Integrity requires it should be Clear and Short: the sorrow produceth a shame for having sinned, and a Submission to the will of the person offended, that he may obtain pardon upon what conditions he shall best think fit.

Thus one may put six conditions necessary for a good Confession. It ought to be Entire, Clear, Short, made with confusion and Shame of the Evil, with Sorrow for having committed them, and with Submission to the person offen­ded; this Latin Verse will make you remeber them.

Integra, Clara, Brevis, Verecunda, Dolens, Humilis (que)

It ought to be Entire, that is, of all the Sins they remember, after a diligent and sufficient [Page 103]Examen. This is to be understood of Mortal Sins; and without this condition the Confession is null. The reason is because Mortal Sins can­not be pardoned separately one without another, being they are all and every one opposite to Sanctifying Grace, and any one amongst them remaining in the Soul, it is an hindrance, not permitting Grace to enter there; whence it follows, that if one conceal but one only Mor­tal Sin in Confession, the Sacrament cannot pro­duce its effects, which is the Sanctification of the Soul, by the infusion of Grace.

It ought to be Clear, that is, in terms easy and intelligible, as much as the Penitent is able, who ought to have a sincere will to make him­self understood by his Confessor, and therefore he must as much as may be avoid obscurity; at least he is obliged not to affect, or desire to be obscure; for this would be an evident sign that he hath a mind to conceal some Sins.

It must be Short, not to say any more then what is necessary to make himself rightly un­derstood, and to avoid superfluous words, the repeating the same thing, and unprofitable Sto­ries, which are but too frequent amongst Peni­tents. He must simply tell his sins in this man­ner. I accuse my self that I have committed such a Sin: and adding only that which is neces­sary to make the Confessor understand the qua­lity of the sin, or answering to the question he shall ask to inform himself.

It must be Shamefaced, that is, expressed with civil and modest words, and with an interior sentiment of confusion for having offended God. A confusion which makes us blush to see our [Page 104]selves criminal in the sight of God; but with­out making us by any means, conceal our sins; but rather making us ingeniously and humbly to declare them to him who hath the place of God. For the Penitent, who acknowledges himself culpable in the sight of God, hath no trouble to discover them before men: Justus prior est accusator sui. Prov. 18. The Just man, that is, he who desires to become just, is the first ac­cuser of himself. And that other Sentence of Isaias, according to the Septuagint Version. Dic tu peccata sua ut justificeris. Isai. 43. Discover thy sins that thou mayst be justified.

It ought to be Sorrowfull, that is, with a senti­timent of grief and regret for the Sins he accu­seth himself of; otherwise it would not be an Accusation.

In fine, it must be Humble, that is, the Peni­tent ought to acknowledge himself culpable, de­clare that he deserves to be punished, and sub­mit himself unto the Conditions the Judge shall appoint for the remission of his Sins.

CHAP. IV. Of the Defects in Confession.

AS we have said, that there are six Conditi­ons required, so also it is manifest that there are six Defects. The want of Sorrow, Clear­ness, &c. It is notwithstanding true, that every one of them do not make the Confession null; but only the want of those Conditions absolutely ne­cessary, which are Integrity, and Contrition; [Page 105]which we told you above were the two general Conditions from whence the others spring.

The want of Integrity renders the Confession null, as also the want of true and necessary Sor­row: and this is a certain Maxime, which we must hold in this matter: that there are two things necessary in the Penitent; entire Confes­sion, and true Contrition. If one of these are wanting by the Penitents fault, the Sacrament is null, and the Confession Sacrilegious.

The want of the other Conditions render the Confession imperfect, but not invalid; except they be such as destroy one of those two Essential Con­ditions; Integrity or Sorrow. Thus the defect of clearness may be such, that it makes the Con­fessour not understand all the Mortal Sins: and in that case it renders the Confession null; and especially if that obscurity be affected and on pur­pose; the want of obedience may be so great, that it destroys Contrition; and so of others.

Now there are three Cases, where Integrity makes the Confession defective. The first, when willingly and knowingly one conceals a Mortal Sin for shame, fear, negligence, or otherwise.

The second, when one conceals it indirectly; as when one accuses himself in terms obscure, or ambiguous, with design that the Confessour should not understand all that he would say, or at least perceiving he did not understand every Mortal Sin; or when one accuses himself by halfs, leaving the rest to be guess'd at, or to be asked by the Confessour, which happens of­ten to young people.

The third, when one hath not made a sufficient Examen of his Conscience, but goes presently [Page 106]to Confession, knowing well enough he is not sufficiently prepared: For altho' there be diffe­rence between concealing and forgetting a Sin in Confession; and that forgetfulness doth not make the Confession invalid; yet this is to be under­stood only, when the forgetfulness is not volun­tary or caused by our negligence: for when we are the cause of such forgetfulness, it is certain it is a Sin, which renders the Confession null, by the rule that he who desires the cause, is judged also to desire the effect, which infallibly follows it.

As to the sorrow for Sins, there are many cases wherein the Penitent may want it to that de­gree, that the Sacrament is null thereby.

First, when one has made no act, neither be­fore nor during Confession, nor before he re­ceives Absolution: In this case the Confession is invalid, altho' it may proceed from a pure for­getfulness, that they did not perform that acti­on; because it is essential and absolutely necessa­ry for the Sacrament, and which cannot be sup­plied by any other action.

Secondly, when one makes those acts, but without due conditions: as without supernatu­ral motives, or with a reserve or exception of some Mortal Sin, for which one hath a complai­sance or affection; in a word, without the Con­ditions we have spoken of before in the second Part, fourth Chapter; which you must reade o­ver again in this place.

Thirdly, when one hath not a sincere resolu­tion of amendment, altho' he believes he hath; this is judged to happen, when the Penitent will not leave the occasion of Sin, practice the necessary remedies, obey his Confessour in reasonable things.

CHAP. V. Of the Conditions necessary to make the Confession entire.

ACcording to the Doctrine of the Church there are three: To declare the Species or Nature of the Sin, the Number, and the Cir­cumstances that change the Species or Nature of it.

First, we must confess the Species, Sort, or Nature of the Sin: It is not sufficient to say in general terms, I have sinned, I have very much offended God; but we must tell particularly in what: I have, for example, committed Theft, or Blasphemy, or Detraction.

The reason of this rule is given by the Holy Council of Trent; because, says it, the Priests are constituted Judges in this Sacrament, to give a judgement of the sins of men. Now it is manifest they cannot exercise that judgment without the knowledge of the Cause; nor observe the necessary equity in the enjoining of the Penance, except the Penitents declare their Sins in particular, and not only in general.

Secondly, they must discover the number, that is, how often they have fall'n into each sort of Sin. This is also absolutely necessary, that the Confessor may judge aright: because he, who hath committed a Sin often, is much more Culpable, then he who hath done it but seldom.

Thirdly, we must explain the circumstances which change the Species or Nature of Sin, as the [Page 108]same Council hath declared in express terms; and this is to be done for the same reason, that obligeth us to confess the Sins of different Spe­cies, or sorts. Thus in Theft one must express the circumstance of a Sacred place, in which he robbed, or a Sacred thing, which he hath taken: because this circumstance changes the Species, and makes it a Sacriledge.

In the sin of impurity, one must discover the quality of the person with whom he hath sinned: whether it be a Single or Married Person, or re­lation, for these circumstances make different sins, of Fornication, Adultery, or Incest.

In fine, Penitents, and particularly young peo­ple are often defective in these three rules. For first, as to the Species, or nature of the Sin, it happens frequently, that they do not declare it at all. For example, concerning the sin of Impurity, they say no more then that they have willingly entertain'd evil thoughts, without mentioning in the least, whether they were accompanyed with any immodest touches of themselves, or o­ther effects which follow; which are sins of ano­ther Species, and more grievous then the thoughts. They will confess they have touched others unci­villy, without discovering how, or what sort of persons. They will accuse themselves of Detra­ction of their Neighbour, but not offer to de­clare the thing they have said.

Secondly, as to the number it happens often, that telling the Species they are afraid to discover the number intirely, and therefore conceal some part, the number sometimes causing as much shame as the Species it self and quality of the sin. In which case the Confession is no less invalid [Page 109]and Sacrilegious, then if they had concealed the very Species of the sin.

Thirdly, they frequently commit the same fault by the notable circumstances, which they are afraid to discover. For example, if they have robbed, or done some notable injury to their Neighbours Goods, or cheated him at play, they are afraid to tell the quantity, lest they should be obliged to restitution.

In all these occurrences when one willingly and wittingly conceals these notable circumstan­ces, the Confession is null. Have a care, Theotime, to avoid these considerable faults, which often happen in Confession, for want of discovering the Species or kind of the sin, the number or no­table circumstances.

CHAP VI. An observable Advice concerning the number of Sins.

I Have here an advice of great concern to im­part unto you, dear Theotime, about the num­ber of sins. That is, to avoid in Confession two extremes equally Vitious: the one is a Supine negligence; the other is too much exactness and scrupulosity.

There are some, who that they may not trou­ble themselves with a just examen, discover no­thing of the number of Mortall Sins, or if they do, that which is very uncertain: I have done it for example, twenty times more or less, or else in declaring a greater number then they are guilty [Page 110]of, to comprehend therein the number they might have committed: this doth not satisfy the exactness which is necessary in Confession.

Others on the contrary are so much troubled in the search of their Sins, and the number of them, that they are never quiet, but vex them­selves with continual doubts and anxiety of mind, never believing they have sufficiently examined their Sins. This makes them that they think of nothing but this examen, and little or nothing of the principal concern, which is Contrition.

These two faults must necessarily be avoided. For the first may render the Confession invalid for want of integrity; the other for want of Contrition.

Those who sind themselves guilty of negli­gence, ought to remember what diligence is ne­cessary to dispose themselves for a thing of such high concern, as is the obtaining the remission of their Sins; and since without confessing them all, as far as they are able to remember, that can­not be acquired; it is necessary they should before­hand apply, as much as possible, their mind and attention thereunto, to the end they may re­member. This is the rule which the Council of Trent gives in this matter. Ses. 14. in the fifth Chapter of Confession. Ex his colligitur oportere a panitentibus, omnia peccata Mortalia quorum post diligentem sui discussionem conscientiam habent, in confessione recenseri, etiam si occultissima illa sint. It is necessary, saith the Council, that the Penitents must declare all their Sins they remember after a di­ligent examen, even those that are most hidden.

And as to the others who trouble and disquiet themselves with the Examen of their Sins, they [Page 111]are to be fully persuaded of this truth; that God requires no more of them in this, or any other occasion, but what they are able to perform; and that after they have done what morally speaking they are able to remember their Sins, they ought to satisfy themselves, to declare what they re­member, and rest in quiet; it being most certain that other sins which they have forgot are to be comprehended in that Confession; and that they are pardoned them in the absolution they receive.

This also is a rule of the Holy Church in the Council of Trent, which condemns those of im­piety, who say that the Confession of all their Sins, is an impossible thing, and a Torture or Hell of the Conscience: being it is certain, saith the Council, that the Church requires no more of the Penitents, but that every one after he hath made a carefull Examen and search into the bot­tom of his Conscience, should Confess those Sins which occurr to his memory: and that other Sins, which, notwithstanding such an Examen, they do not remember, are esteemed generally to be comprehended in the same Confession: and it is of these Sins we say to God with the Prophet: Cleanse me from my hidden Sins, O Lord. Psal. 18.13.

Those who embrace this maxime of the Church will easily find quiet of mind, and banish the dif­ficulties which arise from their Confessions. It is true, they are still in doubt, whether in their Examen they used that diligence which the Church requires: We shall tell you hereafter in the ninth Chapter wherein it consists; in the mean time I shall mind you of two things here for your comfort.

The first, that this great and obliging diligence [Page 112]reaches only to Mortal Sins. As for Venial Sins, as we are not in rigour obliged to Confess them, so likewise we are not to make such an exact exa­men of them: and as it is an excellent thing to make the best Confession we are able; so it is the part of a weak Soul to be troubled with scruples, and anxieties of mind.

The second Advertisement is, that when, after a serious examen of our Sins, we cannot call to mind the number of them; as it happens in sins of habit or custom, which are frequently committed, as ill Thoughts, dishonest Words, Oaths, and the like, it is sufficient to discover, as near as one can, the time since he was first subject to it: and in that time to take notice, as much as may be, how often he may have fallen, if he have fallen often, as every day, every week, or otherwise; and af­ter one hath declared what he can in this man­ner, he ought not to concern or trouble himself any further.

CHAP. VII. An observable Advice concerning the Circumstances of Sins.

THE particular accidents which intervene, and are not of the substance of a deed, but only accompany it, are called the circumstance of an action, as the quality of the person who sins, the place, the time, the design with which he acted, the end which was proposed, the means that were made use of, the consequence and evil ef­fects of an action, as Scandal or the like. All [Page 113]which are comprehended in this verse.

Quis? quid? ubi? quibus auxilij? cur? quomodo? quando?

Amongst the circumstances there are some which are light, which render not an action worse then it is of it self, and of these we do not speak. There are others that are notorious and which aggravate exceedingly an action, and make it more heinous, which are those of which we treat in this place. Now of these there are two sorts.

Some which aggravate a Sin to that degree that they change the Species or nature of it: thus the circumstance of a Sacred place, or a Sacred thing which is stol'n, changes the Sin of theft into Sa­crilege, which is a different Species or sort of Sin.

Others aggravate only the sin without chang­ing the Species, and are called simply aggravating Circumstances.

As to the former there is no question, but it is necessary to declare them in Confession, as we have said above in the fifth Chapter. And for the o­ther there are authors, who hold one is not in ri­gour obliged to confess them.

Altho' this opinion may be true in Speculation, yet in practice it is very difficult to make use of it, as one ought, by reason that it is very hard to discern well the Circumstances which fre­quently occur. And this is the reason why not sticking to this opinion, it is necessary that in practice we follow and observe these two Maxims.

The First, that it is always better and more se­cure to declare in Confession the circumstances [Page 114]which aggravate the Sin.

The Second, that it happens frequently that one is obliged to declare them, as in these follow­ing examples.

1. When one cannot discern whether a cir­cumstance, which one believes to be notorious, change the sin or no. And who is it except he be a very understanding person that knows this?

2. When it falls out that a circumstance makes a sin to be Mortall, which otherwise without it would be but Veniall. Thus to steal sixpence is but a Venial sin, but to steal sixpence from a poor man that had nothing else to live upon, is a Mortall Sin. He who strikes another and does him no hurt, commits but a venial sin; but if in striking him he had an intention to wound him notoriously, he commits a mortall Sin; and he ought to declare that intention, when he accuseth himself that he hath strook him.

3. One is also obliged to tell the aggravating circumstances, when it chanceth that a circum­stance aggravates a mortall sin, not only notably but extreamly and with excess. For example: A man who hath robbed five pounds hath sinned mortally; another who hath stoll'n twenty thou­sand pounds, hath also committed a Mortall sin, but imcomparably a greater. This excess ought to be expressed in Confession.

4. This declaration is ordinarily necessary, that the Confessor may understand the grievous­ness of the sin, and the state of the Penitent, without which he can neither impose a conve­nient Penance for the sins past, nor prescribe re­medies to avoid them for the future.

In fine, to declare ingeniously his sins with all [Page 115]their circumstances is a sign of a sincere and tru­ly penitent heart, desirous to cure his Maladies, and save his Soul.

For this reason, Theotime, when you accuse your self of a sin, explicate distinctly and clearly the circumstances, which seem to render it more grievous in the sight of God. For example, how you did it; whether by passion or malice, whe­ther with an intention to hurt another or dis­please him; whether any scandal, or any other ill effect followed from the sin; whether it was in a holy place, or the like: And answer always with much sincerity to the questions which your Ghostly Father shall ask you concerning your sins.

CHAP. VIII. How great an evil it is to conceal a Mortal Sin in Confession.

I Would to God this evil were as rare and un­heard of amongst Christians, as it is great in it self, and of most dreadfull consequence to those that commit it. But it happens by a strange mis­fortune, that it is but too common amongst Pe­nitents, and particularly amongst simple and young people, by reason they know not how grievous a sin it is, and the dreadfull consequen­ces it draws after it. This is the reason why I treat of it in this place.

First then, Theotime, you must know, and hold as most certain, that to conceal willingly in Confession any Mortal Sin, or what you believe [Page 116]is a Mortal Sin, is also a Mortal Sin: The reason is taken from the Command of our Saviour, who, as the Council of Trent above-cited says, giving to the Apostles and their Successors the power to remit or retain sins, hath also obliged the Faith­full to Confess all the sins which after a sufficient Examen they remember. Thus to conceal a Mor­tal Sin in Confession, is a formal disobedience to the Law of Jesus Christ in a matter of the highest concern.

Secondly, this Sin is a formal and positive un­truth in a matter of the highest consequence, viz. The justification, and eternal Salvation of the Soul; an untruth not told to Man but to God, whose place the Priest holds in Confession: Now to tell a lye to God is a strange Crime. Remem­ber the rigorous punishment which God by S. Peter laid upon Ananias and Saphira his wife, for having told an untruth in a thing of less importance, where they denied only part of the price of some goods they sold, which they concealed. You have not, said the Apostle, lyed to men, but to God. Act. 5.4. And at these words they fell down dead at his feet.

Thirdly, this Sin is not only a disobedience to the Law of God, and a base lye; but also a sin of Sacrilege, and that one of the greatest magni­tude. Sacrilege is one of the heinousest sins one can commit; for it is an abuse and a prophanati­on of a consecrated and holy thing, that is to say, of a thing dedicated to God, and which partakes of his sanctity. And as amongst holy things there are some more holy then others, so amongst Sacrileges there are some greater and more enormous then others, according to the [Page 117]proportion of the thing that is prophan'd. Now the abuse and prophanation of the Sacrament of Penance, by him who conceals a Mortal Sin, is not only an abuse of a holy thing, but of a thing most holy. Because the Sacraments are not only exteriourly holy, like Churches, Altars, and ho­ly Vessels, which are holy because they are Con­secrated to holy uses; but they contain holiness in themselves, because they cause and bestow it upon men. If then it be a horrible Sacrilege to prophane a Church, overthrow an Altar, abuse a Chalice, judge what we ought to say of the a­buse and prophanation of a Sacrament, and what a horrour we ought to have of such a Sacri­lege.

Fourthly, consider the evil you do in abusing this Sacrament in particular, for this Sacrament is instituted to appease and pacify our Lord, and to reconcile us unto him. Now in making a false Confession, you provoke God to anger, by those very means, which he hath appointed to appease him: you make him your enemy, at the same time that you go to make your atonement with him; and you change the Sacrament which is a Judgment or Sentence of Absolution, into a Judg­ment or Sentence of Condemnation. O how mi­serable are you! are you not in dread of that Curse of the Prophet? Woe be to you, saith he, that turn judgement into wormwood. Amos. 5.7.

Fifthly, consider the great injury you do to the adorable Blood of the Son of God: for by this Sacrament the merits of that blood are ap­plied to us for the remission of our Sins; and when the Priest pronounces the Sacred words of Absolution, he pours upon us that pretious [Page 118]blood, which washes us, as St. John saith, 1. Jo. 1.7. from the spots and stains which we had con­tracted by all our sins. But when you are so void of grace, as to make a false Confession, and having made it, to permit the Priest to give you Absolu­tion, you frustrate the effect of the blood of the Son of God, which falling upon a Criminal and unworthy Subject, as you then are, is more pro­phaned, contemned, and violated, then when the Jews shed it upon the Earth, and unworthily trampled it under their feet. Be afraid here of that menace of the Apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews, 10.28. where he saith: He that despi­seth Moyses his Law, dieth without mercy:—of how much more severe punishment, think ye, shall he deserve, who treadeth under foot the Son of God, and esteemeth the blood of the Testament, wherewith he was sanctified, as an unholy thing, and doth affront the Spirit of grace. Ponder well upon these three injuries: for all these you do by a false Con­fession.

Sixthly, consider how little reason you have to commit so great evils in thus concealing your sins in Confession; this cannot proceed but ei­ther out of fear or shame, which are the two in­separable Companions of Sin; as Tertullian saith, in Apologet. Omne malum aut timore, aut pudore natura suffudit. As for fear, what is it that you can appre­hend in this occasion? If you fear to be defamed, consider that you discover your sins but to one man alone, and so this cannot defame you; but besides, he is obliged to secrecy by all both Di­vine and Humane Laws; and he cannot violate that secret but he makes himself worthy of death both before God and Man. So that there is no [Page 119]danger of your honour. Are you afraid to be re­prehended by your Ghostly Father? this is what sometimes hinders simple people; who yet in reality are not simple, but blind and stupid, to commit so dreadfull a sin for fear of so small an evil; and to be more apprehensive of the repre­hension of a Ghostly Father, who doth not do it, but meerly out of Charity and for your good, then you are afraid of the offence of God, and to be reprehended and condemned by him, to be scoffed at by the Divels, and lost for evermore. Has not he lost his wit who makes such a choice? The same is to be said of those, who conceal their sins for fear of a great Penance, which is yet a more unsupportable stupidity and blindness; yet this happens sometimes, and chiefly amongst young and ignorant people. Let us now come to speak of shame, which is the second reason, why the Penitent conceals his sins in Confession, as vain as the former.

And first, I agree and acknowledge that Sin deserves we should be ashamed of it, and that he is not truly penitent that hath not this shame, and that he justly merits that reproch which God gave to a Sinner. Hierem. 33. Thou hast the fore­head of a dishonest woman, thou wilt not blush for thy crimes. But I maintain, that shame ought not to hinder any one from discovering all their sins in Confession; that which with-holds us from such a declaration is not shame, but a weakness of mind, or to say better, a folly.

For Theotime, can there be a greater folly then not to desire to cure a great evil by another which is much less? then to chuse rather to damn ones soul for ever, then to save it by a [Page 120]shame or confusion which lasts but for a moment? What would you say of a Criminall, who having deserved death should refuse the pardon offer'd him by the King upon this Condition; that he would discover his Crime in secret to a Judge, appointed by him? would not all cry out, that this man had lost his Wits? yet this is his case, who conceals any thing in Confession. Blind that you are, who chuse rather to dye and be lost E­ternally then confess your sins to the Judge, whom God hath appointed to take cognizance of them; who will rather hide the wound that will cause your death, then shew it to the Chirur­gion who will cure it without fail; who chuse rather to blush one day before God in the pre­sence of Angels, Men, and the whole Court of Hea­ven, then now to be ashamed, and blush but for one moment before your Ghostly Father. When you conceal your Sins from Men, do you think by that means to hide them from the sight of God? you fear the sight of Man, and appre­hend not at all that God should know them. Is not this to disesteem the Divinity, and scoff at God.

In reality this shame is not so great a punish­ment, if we do but make a true Judgment of it. But suppose it were a thousand times greater, consider that it is but a punishment for your sins, and that you have deserved it, yea, and a far greater confusion, and an eternal disgrace: why then will you not suffer it?

Behold the great advantages it will bring you, the remission of your Sins, the quiet of your Conscience, the friendship of God, and Eternal Salvation. O happy confusion! It is this of which [Page 121]the wise man speaks. Eccl. 4.25. There is a con­fusion that brings grace and Glory, as there is ano­ther which brings Sin, which is that mischievous shame of which we speak in this place.

But in fine, consider one thing to which there is no reply, viz. That it is impossible you should ever be saved without confessing that sin which you are troubled to declare. Perform all the good work you please of Prayers, Austerity, or Alms­deeds, as long as you retain any one mortal Sin in your heart without declaring it in Confession, there is no Salvation for you; and if you dye in that State you are lost for ever.

Do not tell me that you will confess it some day or other hereafter; but for the present that you cannot do it. Remember that the longer you defer it, the greater will your shame and confu­sion be, and you will have more trouble to de­clare it.

But in expectation of that day, I ask whether in the interim you will go to Confession or no? if you will, then you will commit so many sacri­leges, as will make you a thousand times more Criminal in the sight of God; and which will draw upon your head the divine anger and ven­geance. If you do not go to Confession; in what a disorder and confusion do you put your con­science? and to what danger do you expose your Salvation? who hath told you that that day, or time will come which you propose to your self, and that you shall not dye before; and without Confession, being you would not confess, when you had both time and means to do it.

For Conclusion, my dear Theotime, if you be in that miserable State, I conjure you to look to [Page 122]your self, open your eyes and awake from that Lethargy. Consider how it is the Devil that de­ceives you, and raises in you that wicked shame, or that foolish fear, by which he would work your eternall Damnation, as he hath done to ma­ny others of your age, and condition.

Call to mind that poor possessed person in the Gospell whom the Devil had render'd both deaf and dumb. His misery did in such a manner move the Son of God that he wept. Mark 7. Suspiciens in Caelum ingemuit, & ait Ephpheta quod est adaperire, & statim solutum est vinculum linguae ejus, & loquebatur recte. Raising up his eyes to Hea­ven, saith the Gospell, he wept, and said, be open, and presently his tongue was untyed, and he spake plain. The miseries, which we consider in the bo­dy of that possess'd man, are found dayly in the Soul, which the Devil hath possess'd by Sin; only with this difference, that the condition of this Se­cond is far more dangerous then the first. They were the spiritual miseries represented in the bo­dy of the deaf and dumb man, which drew tears and sighs from the Son of God. Take pitty on your self, and render not your self unworthy of the compassion he hath for you. Be no longer deaf to the commands he hath given you to de­clare your Sins in Confession, nor to all those reasons which oblige you to it. Courage, make a strong resolution, and execute it readily, and have a care you be not remiss. The Son of God will assist you in it with his grace, he will open your mouth freely to confess your Sins, you will receive a thousand Consolations from him, and praising his holy name you will sing forth, bene omnia fecit, & surdos fecit audire & mutos loqui. He [Page 123]hath done all things well, he hath made the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

CHAP. IX. Of the preparation for Confession, or, Examen of Conscience.

THere is no doubt but we ought to prepare our selves for Confession; and being our memory, ordinarily speaking, is not so tenaci­ous as to keep in mind things past, except we apply our selves to call them back; it follows that the same authority, which obligeth us to an entire Confession of our sins, doth oblige us also to make before-hand an examen of Conscience, that so we may remember the three things above-mentioned, viz. The Species, the Number, and the most notorious Circumstances. This made the Council of Trent say, that one is obliged to declare all their sins which they remember after a di­ligent examen.

It is certain that no general rule can be prescribed for this preparation, which doth not depend upon the circumstances of the Person, of his capacity, of time, of necessity, and such like: for there is more time required to prepare ones self for an Annual then for a Monthly Confessi­on: Those who have an ill memory, or who ob­serve not their daily actions, or seldom examen their Consciences, have need of a longer prepara­tion then others.

We must follow herein that most judicious method which the Catechism of the Council prescribes: In confessione summa illa eura & dili­gentia ad hibenda est, quam in rebus gravissimis po­nere [Page 122] [...] [Page 123] [...] [Page 124]solemus. Catechis. ad Parac. de Poenit. Sacram. n. 62. That is, to use the same diligence in this preparation we are wont to employ in affairs of greatest importance; wherefore as in those occasi­ons every one applies himself seriously, and with all his power, and useth all imaginable diligence, and endeavours that nothing may be wanting, which is necessary to compass his design; we must do the same in this of Confession, where we do not treat of any temporal concern, but of the se­curing our Eternal Salvation, by gaining the re­mission of our Sins; a remission which cannot be otherwise obtained, but by means of a good Confession.

To practice well this general rule, we must perform these three things.

First, we must pray to Almighty God, and beg of him he will vouchsafe his Divine Light, whereby we may see our sins: this is a means which we must never forget, and which we may say, is absolutely necessary. The heart of man is so secret, that he himself oftentimes doth not know himself, and none but God can search it to the bottom. Our Conscience is sometimes so darkened, and so obscured, that we are not able to see into it, either by means of our memory or knowledge; only God by his grace and inward light, which he communicates to the Soul, is a­ble to dissipate and disperse that darkness; which when he doth, we easily discover many spots, which before we did not see; as we see in the rays of the Sun many things, which, when we had only a lesser light, were hidden from our eyes. Wherefore, Theo­time, in this preparation you must never desist, [Page 125]but continually pray to God for this heavenly light. Psal. 17.29. Deus meus illumina tenebras meas: O my God clear the darkness of my Soul, that I may discover my sins: Come O Holy Ghost, & dart me from heaven a ray of thy divine light.

Secondly, you must observe some method in searching out your sins, that so you may not forget any: the best is to run over in order the Commandments, of God and of the Church, with the seven Deadly Sins: For being every sin is a transgression of the Law of God, we cannot more easily fall into the account of the sins we have committed, then by running over his Com­mandments, and examining upon every one by it self, whether we have transgressed against it, in what? and how? and being one may offend a­gainst them, not only one, but many ways, it is necessary that we know the divers Sins which may be committed against each, either to learn them by books which treat thereof, or by the in­struction of some understanding Person: We shall set down hereafter an exact Examen.

Thirdly, to make yet better this examen of your Conscience, you must retire into your self, there to take cognizance of your inclinations; your chief passions; the Sins which you most or­dinarily fall into; the occasions you have to offend God; the persons you converse with; the places you have frequented; the affairs you have been concern'd; in the particular obligations of your state; the omissions you are guilty of, and many other such like things.

If you practise well these three means Theotime, you comply with the diligence, which God re­quires at your hands in this preparation; but [Page 126]practice them with serenity and quietness of mind, without racking or torturing your Soul; for disquietness and anxiety of mind, are so far from being an help, that they are an hindrance to Confession.

Remember that God requires nothing from you but what you can perform; perform it then orderly and faithfully, and when you have done, concern not your self any more about your exa­men, but beg pardon of God for your Sins.

CHAP. X. Of the distinction which must be made between Mortal and Venial Sin.

IN this examen of Conscience we must not on­ly employ the memory to remember the Sin, but also the judgment to discern the quality and grievousness of them; it being certain, that all Sins are not equal, or alike.

The first, and the most signal difference, which ought to be observed, is that of Mortal and Venial: the knowledge of this distinction is ab­solutely necessary in this place; because Mortal Sin depriving us of the grace of God, cannot be remitted but by a penitential sorrow; it requires an entire Confession, a far greater sorrow and another kind of satisfaction then Venial, which doth not destroy the grace of God in a Soul, may be forgiven without the Sacrament, and doth not require necessarily to be Confessed, altho' it be always very good to do it.

That you may understand this difference right, you must know,

That every Sin is a trangression of the Law of God; but with this difference, that it is some­times heavy, or heinous, and sometimes light.

It is heavy, when it is acted in a matter of concern, with knowledge and consent.

It is light, when it wants either all or any of these three conditions: That is, either when the thing it self is light, or being heavy is without sufficient consent; or with consent, but without knowledge of the evil; so that it be not an af­fected, wilfull, or voluntary ignorance.

The first is called Mortal, taking it's name from it's effect; by reason of the death it causeth in the Soul, by depriving her of the grace of God, which is its Life.

The second is call'd Venial, because offending God but lightly, it is more pardonable.

The heavy Trangression offends God grie­vously, it makes one incurr his displeasure, robs the soul of Grace, makes it lose the right it had to Heaven, which is the inheritance of the Chil­dren of God, and renders it subject to Eternal Damnation.

The light Transgression offending God but slightly, doth not make the Soul incurr his abso­lute displeasure, but only it causes some small di­minution of the love, which God hath for her.

All that, which the Scripture says of the ill ef­fects of Sin, is to be understood of the first trans­gression, as Jac. 1.15. That it causeth death. Isa. 59.2. That it sets God and man at a distauce: And in a word, all that which we have said above in the Second part. Chap. 10.

And that which the Scripture says, that Prov. 24.16. The Just Man falls seven times a day, that [Page 128]Jac. 3.2. All of us offend God many ways, that 1. Jo. 18. If we say we have no Sin we deceive our selves, Is all to be understood of the Second.

As these two sorts of sins are much different as well in their weight or enormity, as effect; so also are they very unlike in their remission: for Mor­tall sin cannot be pardoned, but by the Sacrament of Penance, or perfect Contrition out of the Sacra­ment, but always with relation to the Sacrament, and an obligation to receive it: whereas veniall sin may be remitted by the only remorse for ha­ving committed it, accompanied with a resoluti­on of amendment.

For this reason in Confession we must take great notice of the Sins which are Mortal, or which we believe to be so, that we may Confess them exactly and entirely, without concealing any, deplore them in the sight of God, and do the Penance they shall deserve.

CHAP. XI. Of the Confession of Venial Sins.

AS for Venial Sins, the Council of Trent hath given us two rules to follow.

The first is, that to obtain the remission of them, it is not absolutely necessary to Confess them, and they may be forgiven by only Con­trition, and a sorrow for having committed them. The reason which the Council of Trent gives, is, because Venial Sins do not at all destroy Sanctifying grace: and so it is not necessary they should come under the Jurisdiction of the Sacra­ment [Page 129]of Pennance, which is Instituted to restore that Grace to those who have lost it.

The Second rule is, that although there be no necessity, yet it is very profitable and wholsome to Confess the Venial Sins, for many reasons. 1. Because by the Sacrament of Penance they are pardon'd both with more certainty, and more Grace. 2ly, By confessing them one learns bet­ter to know, and correct them. 3ly, It is a very profitable means to avoid Mortal Sin, as well by reason of the Grace which one receives by the Sacrament, as also because he that hath a care to cleanse his Soul from lesser Sins, will be more so­licitous and apprehensive how he falls into grea­ter, according to that sentence of our Lord, in modico fidelis in majore fidelis erit. Luc. 16.10.

Now there are two things which are to be ob­served in the Confession of Venial Sins.

The first is therein to avoid Scruples and disquiet or anxiety of mind; an errour which many commit, who examen themselves of their veniall Sins with the same trouble or concern, as if they were Mortal, and spend so much time in that examination, that they think little or no­thing of the means how to amend them.

The Second thing to be observed is, that when they confess veniall Sins, they always conceive a sorrow for having committed them, and make a Resolution to amend them. Without these two acts, it is to no purpose to confess them; they are not forgiven, although they receive Absoluti­on of their other Sins, whereof they had Con­trition.

Nay, and I tell you more, that if it happen that one have no other but Veniall Sins to Con­fess, [Page 130]and have not sorrow or remorse for any of them, the Absolution would be null; and such a person would commit a Sacrilege, by reason the Sacrament would want one of its essential parts, which is Contrition. This is a thing we must have a great care of, for it may happen very easily.

But when I say we must resolve, or have a will to amend our Venial Sins, I speak of a real and sincere will, which may be effectuall, and not of a perpetual relapse, as it frequently falls out.

You will say that this is very hard, and that it is impossible to be without Venial Sins. To this I Answer, and it imports you to observe it well, viz. That there are three sorts of venial Sins, some which proceed from weakness, others that are committed by inadvertency and surprize, o­thers which we call Sins of Malice, that is, which spring from our sole will with a perfect know­ledge. Such are those which are committed on set purpose, or by an affected negligence: which one will not at all amend, or which happen by some tye or irregular affection which he hath to any thing.

As to the Sins of weakness, or surprize, it is true, we can never be totally exempt from them; and for these it sufficeth to have a good will to amend as well as one can.

But as for Sins which proceed from our will, it is in our power to amend, and we are strictly obliged to it, because they very much displease God, and the consequences are extreamly dan­gerous.

These Sins, Theotime, although they seem light, produce very ill effects. They are light if they be [Page 131]considered each one by themselves, but being neglected and multiplyed, they become very dangerous. They do not destroy Sanctifying Grace; but they dispose us very much to lose it. All together they do not make a Mortal Sin; but they dispose the Soul to fall into it. They do not directly cause Death; but they cause weakness and maladies which bring Death along with them, that is, which make us fall into Mortal Sin. In a word, although these Sins do not break the league and amity betwixt God and the Soul, which is in Grace, yet by little and little, they diminish it, and by this diminution Charity is weakened in us, and God also by degrees with­draws the graces and assistances which he vouch­safes us in all our Spiritual necessities: And thus having less strength we more easily fall into Mor­tal Sin, when Temptation comes. Alas, Theotime, how many are there, who have, and dayly do lamentably fall, the first source whereof was their neglect in correcting venial Sins.

Take great care of this resolution to amend them; whether it be, that you are in the State of Grace, that you may conserve it, by avoiding these sorts of Sin; or you are not, lest you make your self more unworthy by your neglect of them.

CHAP. XII. Of Interiour and Exteriour Sins, or of the Sins of Thought and Action.

IT is also very necessary, and to be observed in Confession & examination of Sins, to know that there are Sins that may be committed interiour­ly, or by a voluntary or willing thought only, and others which proceed even to the exteriour action. Thus to take Pleasure in a thought of re­venge or to desire it, is an interiour Sin, or a Sin of thought; actually to put in execution the same revenge, is an exteriour Sin, or a Sin of action.

It happens frequently that Penitents who are not well instructed, confess exteriour Sins, when they have committed them, but say nothing of interiour Sins and those of thought, when they have not proceeded unto action or effect.

However it is most certain, that interiour Sins are the first Sins, and very Criminal in the sight of God; and even exteriour Sins are not Sins, but because they proceed from the heart, that is from the will, which is the source of the Good and Evil which we do. It is that which causeth all the Evil which is in our Actions; and they are not wicked, but in as much as they are order'd and consented to by the will.

This was the reason why our Saviour said, that the heart is the Fountain of all our Sins. Mat. 15.18. From the Heart (says he) come Adultery, Fornications, Evil Thoughts. And the wise man saith, Prov. 6.18. that God hath in Abomination the Heart [Page 133]that contrives evil thoughts. And in another place, Wisd. 1.3. that Wicked thoughts seperate us from God.

You must have a care then, Theotime, when you Confess, to accuse your self of the Sins of Thought, when you have committed them; altho' you have not put them in execution; nay even when afterward you have retracted them in your heart, for this retractation does not hinder the evil from having been consented to in thought; and altho' it would have been far greater if you had actually put it in Execution, yet however to have only desired it ceaseth not to be very heinous.

Now I would have you observe that there are three degrees in these Sins of thought: The first is Complacence, the second Desire, and the Third the Resolution.

Complacence in an evil thought is a Mortall Sin, if it be voluntary or or with a willing mind, and if the thing one thinks on be in it self a Mortall Sin; as an impure Action, a Notorious Revenge, or the like.

The Desire, which frequently follows the Complacence, is also a Mortal Sin in the two Circumstances above-mention'd, when it is car­ried away voluntarily to an evil thing; and we see it is forbidden by the two last Command­ments of the law of God. Now if you would know what is meant by a desire; Desire is a Con­ditional will, or a will to do the evil if it lay in our power, and if we had an occasion.

The Resolution to do the evil is also a Mortall Sin, and greater then the other two, and must be confessed altho' it were not put in Execution, [Page 134]and even altho' he have retracted and changed his resolution, as we said before.

CHAP. XIII. Of the Sin of Action, and of Omission.

THis difference of Sins is also very necessary to be known, as well for Confession, as for the Conduct of a Christian Life.

Sins that consist in Action are easily known, confess'd, and avoided; but Sins of Omission are hardly understood, seldom Confessed, and scarcely avoided; being it is hard to know when one is wanting to this obligation.

Yet this Sin is often as great as that of action: and a man shall be Damned for not doing that which he is obliged to do, as soon as he that com­mits the evil which is forbidden him.

For the Law of God, Theotime, whereof Sin is a transgression, doth not only forbid evil, but also commands good. There are some of these precepts which are negative, and forbid evil; as those, Thou shalt not Kill, Thou shalt not Steal; and others are conceived in positive terms, and com­mand some good; as those, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, Keep holy the Sabboth day.

Each Commandment in reality is both posi­tive and negative: for those which command a good, forbid the opposit evil, and those that prohibit an evil, command the contrary good. For example, the precept which commands us to love God, forbids us to do any thing that dis­pleases him: And the Commandment that pro­hibits [Page 135]us from robbing, obligeth us to make re­stitution of the goods, to him whom we had robbed: and thus of others. And there is never a Commandment against which one may not Sin both by Commission, and Omission.

This being so, it is of great concern when one is to go to Confession, that he examen himself of the Sins of Omission, as well as those of Action, and that he accuse himself not only of evil acti­ons which he hath done, but also of the good works he has not done, when he was obliged.

In the examen which we shall give you here­after, we shall put the Sins of Omission together with the others upon every one of the Command­ments of God.

But chiefly we must examen carefully these Sins of Omission, when we search into the Sins which belong particularly to our state: For each state and condition hath peculiar obligations a­gainst which one Sins very frequently, by noto­rious Omissions, which are very great Sins, and which are not always observed, as they should be, by those who often fall into them. From hence it is that we do not amend them, and that at the hour of Death we find our selves far more charged with Sins, then ever we imagined during our life.

CHAP. XIV. Of the Sins of Ignorance, Passion, and Malice.

I add here also this distinction, or these several branches of Sins, because they conduce very much toward the making us understand the qua­lity of them, and how to form a better judgment of their enormity.

This distinction springs from the Nature of Sin, which is a voluntary, and free action: As it is voluntary it must be perform'd knowingly: as it is free it must be done in such a manner, that the will might not have done it. Knowledge is hindred by Ignorance; the power not to do it, is hindred by Passions, which carry the will on to do evil, or withdraw it from good: I say hindred, that is, either diminished, or totally taken away. When Knowledge is wanting, it is a Sin of Ignorance; when the power not to do it is hindred by Passi­on, it is a Sin of Passion; but when we are free both from the one and the other, Passion as well as Ignorance, then it is a Sin which proceeds from the will alone, and is called a Sin of Malice, that is, of the will acting with full knowledge, and of her own accord, without being push'd on or re­tained by any Passion.

It imports you much that you should be well instructed in this Point, Theotime, because the greatest part of the world excuse their Sins ei­ther upon account of their ignorance, or weak­ness, which is but too ordinary amongst young people. It is true there is sometimes ignorance [Page 137]or passion found in their Sins: but they must not excuse themselves for that: for I shall make it out, that neither Ignorance nor Passion do all­ways diminish them; and that the greatest part of their Sins are Sins of Malice. And for the greater facility we shall divide this Chapter into Articles.

ARTICLE I. Of the Sins of Ignorance.

IT is call'd a Sin of ignorance, which one hath committed for want of sufficient knowledge either of the action that he hath done, or of the evil which there is in such an action.

Ignorance of the action is called ignorance of the Fact. Ignorance of the evil which is in the action, is called ignorance of the Law; of which we may be ignorant two ways, either totally, or in part: Totally, when we believe there is no ill in the action; in part, when we believe, indeed there is some, but not so much evil in it, as in effect there is. Either of these ignorances may happen two ways, either by our fault and our will, or without any fault or will on our side.

It happens by our fault, when we are willing to be ignorant of a thing, whether expressly and on set purpose, or implicitly by a certain affect­ed negligence, willfully neglecting to learn what we do not know.

It happens without any fault of ours, when there is neither an express will, nor any notori­ous negligence on our part, and it doth not be­long [Page 138]to us to know it, or to be instructed in it.

This being supposed, it is easy to tell when it is, that ignorance diminisheth the Sin; when that it takes it away totally; and when not at all.

First, when ignorance doth not proceed at all from our fault neither directly, nor indirectly, it is certain it takes away the Sin totally, and that the action which we do is not a Sin; the reason is because there is no Sin without a will, and there is no will where there is no knowledge. Thus when Noe by drinking Wine at first was over­seen, his excess in drink was not a Sin, because he knew not then the force of wine, nor could know it.

Secondly, when ignorance proceeds from our fault by an express will, or grosse and affected ignorance, it neither takes away, nor diminishes at all the Sin; on the contrary it rather augments it. The reason is, because he that desires the cause desires also the effect. If then I desire to be igno­rant of the evil that is in an action, and it hap­pen by that ignorance that I Sin more freely, and without remorse; I am the voluntary cause of the Sin whose enormity I would not know. Such was the ignorance of the unchast old men in the History of Susanna, of whom it is said, Dan. 13.9. That they cast down their Eyes, that they might not see Heaven, nor remember the Judgments of God. Such is the ignorance of those that will not be in­structed in what they ought to know, nor adver­tised of the evil they do, and who will not un­derstand to do well. As the Prophet saith, Psal. 35.4. This is what frequently happens to young People.

Thirdly, as the total ignorance of any evil in [Page 139]an action, taketh away all the Sin, when it doth not proceed from our fault; so the ignorance of the part of the evil in which is a Sin, takes away part, that is, diminisheth the Sin: This is to be understood of that ignorance which doth not proceed from our fault, nor is it in our power to be better instructed. Such is the ignorance of young People when they begin to fall into Sins of impurity, for they know well enough that there is ill in it, which appears by the doubts they have in their Conscience, and by the shame they have to Confess: But they do not under­stand that the ill is so great as in reality it is, un­till such time as they are instructed, and till then their Sins are not so great, altho' they be almost always Mortal Sins.

ARTICLE II. Of Sins of Frailty, or of Passion.

THe Sins of frailty are those which proceed from the will moved with some passion.

Passions are actions of the sensitive Appetite, which is an inferiour part of the Soul, and moves towards things forbidden by the law of God; such as are Love, Hatred, Sadness, Fear, Anger.

Some push on the Soul to do that which is for­bidden it, as Love, Hatred, Joy, Choler: others withdraw it from doing the good which is com­manded as Fear, Sadness, Despair: Those cause the Sins of Action, These the Sins of Omission.

Passions diminish the liberty of the will, because being push'd on, or withdrawn by other causes [Page 140]then by her self, she doth not act with all the li­berty she hath in that action, either to do, or not do what she will. Besides, these Passions dimi­nish also the judgment hindring the understand­ing, which guides the will, from judging of things so clearly, as otherwise it would.

They diminish by consequence the Sin, which is found in an action, or omission, and this dif­ferently: sometimes less, sometimes more, and sometimes totally, and othertimes they diminish them not at all, but rather augment them.

They diminish sometimes but little, when they are but light, and the will may easily overcome them.

They diminish the Sin much, when they are strong and violent; because for that time they notoriously diminish the judgment and liberty; however as long as they leave man with the knowledge of the evil which he does, the Sin con­tinues still.

They totally take away the Sin, when they are so violent, that they totally cloud the reason, so that one doth not perceive at all that there is a Sin; which never happens, but in the first mo­tions of passion; which being a little appeas'd, the mind returns to it self, and knows what it has done, and from thenceforward he Sins if he con­tinues in his Passion.

In fine, Passions do not at all diminish the Sin when they are voluntary; and this happens when they are willingly excited, or when one enter­tains them, and endeavours to augment them, as it happens too often; and in this case they are not Sins of Passion, but of malice.

ARTICE III. Of Sins of Malice.

BY Sins of Malice we do not understand here, Sins which are maliciously committed, whe­ther purely to displease God, or for the sole plea­sure which one takes in doing ill: These Sins are rather Sins of Devils, then men, and those who are so unfortunate, as to Sin thus, begin in this world to live the life of Devils, which God of­ten punisheth also with the punishment of Devils, which is Obstinacy and Impenitence. These are the Sins which our Saviour calls Mat. 12.32. Sins against the holy Ghost which are neither forgiven in this world nor the next.

Sins of Malice, whereof I speak in this place, are those, which are committed without Igno­rance and without Passion, that is with full know­ledg and entire liberty; and they are called Sins of Malice, because being commited neither out of ignorance nor passion, they proceed only from the ill inclination of the will, which scruples not to offend God, upon condition it may compass the enjoyment of its Pleasures or other sensible content, which it seeks by Sin.

These Sins are very great, and highly dis­pleasing in the sight of God, being they have no­thing to excuse them, as the two former had. These must be Confessed very exactly, declaring fully this circumstance, that they committed them knowing well what they did, and on set purpose; and it is necessary that they do great pennance for them.

As these Sins are great, so they ought to be rare and unheard of amongst Christians; but it happens by a sad misfortune that there is nothing more common. And if the lives of men were well examined, the greatest part of Sins would be found to be Sins of Malice.

For as concerning Ignorance, tho' much of it is found amongst the ordinary Sins of men, and for that reason it is said, that every man that Sins is ignorant: How often doth it happen that the ignorance with which they Sin is affected and voluntary? one searches after it expressly and with design; he will be ignorant of that which he is obliged too know; he will not be instructed; he fears to look too narrowly into his own acti­ons, and he obliged to the good by the know­ledge which he shall have of it. To do thus, is it not to desire the Sin upon set purpose and out of malice? for this reason they fly all those things that may instruct them, as reading of Books, Ser­mons, or amongst Preachers they care not for those that reprehend vice, or discover the ablest Ghostly Father; They seek the less understand­ing and most indulgent; They do not consult at all about the doubts of Conscience, or if they do, they discover not all, they seek after favourable re­solutions to indulge themselves in remiss & false opinions, they frame a Conscience to Sin with more liberty. What is this but wilfully to run into a precipice, and shut their eyes, that they may cast themselves headlong more freely, and without fear?

As for Passions, we must say the same of them, as of Ignorance: It is true they diminish Sin, when they are not voluntary; but when one [Page 143]seeks them on design, or is pleased to cherish or increase them, these are not Sins of Passion; but of Malice: Now how ordinary is this amongst men? He that has a desire of revenge, does he not endeavour to nourish his hatred and indig­nation against his enemy? He speaks against him on all occasions, and is ravished with delight to hear one speak against him.

He whose heart is possest with impure love does all he can to cherish it; he applies his care and thoughts that way; all his Senses are em­ploy'd therein, as his Eyes, Ears, Tongue, Touch; he loses no occasion, he searcheth af­ter them with much care and sollicitude; he fol­lows all the motions of his Passion without re­sistance, or any the least constraint upon himself. What is this but to Sin on set purpose and ma­lice? And thus running over the greatest part of the Sins of men, we shall find that they princi­pally spring from the will, and men are vicious because they will, or have a mind to be so.

For this reason, Theotime, do not use to flatter your self in your. Sins, because you are young; do not excuse your self with the ignorance of your youth, nor with the passions which push it on: remember that often and often again you make your ignorance and passion voluntary or wilfull; and that your Sins proceed from the inclination you have to ill, which you will not correct, and thus the greatest part of your Sins are Sins of Malice.

ARTICLE IV. Of Sins which spring from a Vicious Habit.

I Add here this fourth Article, forasmuch as next to ignorance and passion, there is ano­ther cause which draws the will to Sin, and seems to diminish it; viz. A vitious habit; that is, an inclination or facility to fall into a Sin, which facility is contracted by often repeated actions of the same Sin; for it is the property of actions to produce sutable habits.

When this habit is strong and inveterate, it causes one to fall into Sin without ignorance and without passion; witness those, who Swear up­on all occasions, who have their mind always full of evil thoughts, who have nothing in their mouth, but immodest words, and so of others.

This inclination is sometimes so great, that it draws after it a kind of necessity to fall into the evil: as St. Augustine says in his Confessions, de­ploring the unfortunate experience he had of it. Ex voluntate perversâ facta est libido, & dum ser­vitur libidini, facta est consuetùdo, & dum consuetu­dini non resistitur, facta est necessitas. S. Aug. l. 8. Confes. c. 5. The will, says he, that is once depra­ved, begets an inclination to ill: the inclination produ­ces a habit; a habit when not resisted brings a necessi­ty: Yet this necessity doth not take away the sin, because it doth not take away the liberty of the will, which is always Mistress of her habit; and which by means of grace may overcome it. If you ask, whether a vitious habit diminish the Sin?

I answer, that of it self it doth not diminish it at all, because it was freely contracted by the will, and it is in her power to overcome it.

Hence to judge whether a vicious habit dimi­nish the Sin, we must consider how the will be­haves her self in respect of the habit, that is, whe­ther she be displeas'd, whether she be afflicted, whether she make any endeavours to correct her self, and be delivered of it. For in this case the habit without doubt lessens the Sin, and when one falls therein, he is more excusable in the sight of God; and if the Sin be Mortal, it is less grie­vous then if it were committed without a habit.

But if he who hath contracted a vicious habit doth not strive to amend; his Sins are nothing less for being committed by a habit, and then they are no more sins of frailty, but become sins of malice; because he willingly nourisheth the cause that produceth them. And being he doth not ef­ficaciously desire to correct his vicious habit, he is rationally supposed to consent to all the Sins, that spring from thence.

Take good notice of this rule, Theotime, that you may be able to judge aright of the quality of the Sins which you commit by habit, and do not easily excuse your self upon this account; They frequently proceed from your own fault and will.

CHAP. XV. Of the Sins that are committed by Error, or by Doubt.

THese also are two other Fountains of Sin, which are necessary to be known and exam­ined by reason of the great number of Sins, that spring from them.

We call it error in this place, when one believes there is a Sin in the action or omission, when in reality there is none, or that it is a Mortal, when it is but a venial Sin.

I Enquire, whether an action or omission, per­formed in this errour is a Sin? without doubt it is, and ought to be confessed, and one ought to have a diligent care of himself for the future, in regard to the like occasions.

The reason is because Sin consists in the Will, and the will acts not but as it is guided by the judgment. When the judgment proposes a thing as ill, whether it be an action or omission, if the Will embraces it, she consents to it as bad, in as much as she knows no other quality; and Sins, as if the thing were evil in effect; because the sin doth not consist in the effect, but in the affection. And this is the reason why we say that an erro­neous Conscience obliges, that is, when one be­lieves that it is ill to do, or omit, an action, he is obliged to follow that belief, although false, till such time as he shall be informed of the truth.

You must mark this well, dear Theotime, for two reasons. First, that you may avoid sinning [Page 147]thus by errour, which happens but too often to young people, who believe frequently that acti­ons or omissions are sins, when they are not; yet nevertheless commit them; and you ought firm­ly to hold and follow this rule, never to perform an action, or omission, which you believe to be a Sin.

Secondly, that you may apply this truth to your Confession, in which you ought to examin the Sins you have committed in this errour, and to judg of the sins you have committed, whether action, or omission: do not only examin whe­ther it were a Mortal sin in it self or no? but whether you did not verily believe it was a mor­tal sin? for then it must be Confesied, as if it were a Mortal sin.

Perhaps you will draw from hence a conse­quence in your favour. If then, you will say, I judg either an action or omission to be lawfull and exempt from sin, altho' in effect it be not, it follows, that I shall not sin at all in committing it.

I answer, that this is sometimes true, when this erroneous judgment proceeds from an inno­cent ignorance, or where there was no sault at all of ours, or that it was not in our power to be instructed in the contrary: But if this errour a­rise from a culpable ignorance, and because we would not be better informed, as it often hap­pens; in this case it doth not at all excuse the sin; as 'tis above said.

As concerning doubt, this also is very often the cause of sin, and it concerns us to know it: We call that a doubt, when one is uncertain whether an action, or omission be a sin or no. This doubt is either very great, or small, or be­twixt [Page 148]both: it is very great, when it inclines the judgment to determine that it is a Sin: light, when it rather resolves that it is not: mean or be­twixt both, when it hangs in suspence, and we know not on which side to incline the ballance: Hence it is easy to tell when a doubt causes a Sin, and when not.

A very strong doubt makes an action, or o­mission a sin; because it is esteemed, as much as a judgment.

A light doubt doth not make a thing to be a sin, in as much as it doth not at all destroy the con­trary credence by which one believes there is no sin in it.

As for the doubt which is in the middle be­twixt these two, and which leaves the judgment in a totall uncertainty neither being able to affirm nor deny, it is so far from excusing from sin, that he, who in this doubt resolves to do an acti­on or omission, which he doubts whether it be a Mortall sin or no, sins Mortally: The reason is, because acting in that formall doubt he is suppo­sed to desire it such as it might be in it self, and as it might be evill, he was resolved to do it in case it were so. This deserves to be carefully remembered.

CHAP. XVI. Of the Sins which we Commit in others.

WE are not only guilty of those sins which we commit by our selves, but also of those which we commit by others, that is, of [Page 149]sins which others commit through our fault.

These Sins are often very heinous and of great consequence. These are those of which David speaks when he says Psal. 18.13. Cleanse me O Lord from my hidden Sins, and pardon thy Servant from those which I commit in others. Yet there is nothing more common amongst men, nor of which they take less care, for want of sufficient knowledge, or understanding of the different ways by which one may concur to anothers Sin. Wherefore I shall here treat of them breifly.

To sin by another, is to be the voluntary and culpable cause of the Sin, which another commits. I say voluntary and culpable; because if we are the cause of the sin of another, without our fault, we do not Sin,

Now we may be the cause of the sin of another two ways, positively, and negatively; by action or by omission. By action, when we do or say something, which induceth our neighbour to sin. By omission, when we are wanting to say or do something, that might hinder our neighbour from offending God.

I said when we do or say, to denote two ways, whereby we may cause sin in another positively. viz. by our actions, and by our words. By our actions, which give ill example to our neighbour, or an occasion to offend God. By words, which induce others to evil.

The first way is called the sin of scandall, the second inducement to evil. The first happens as often as we do any action, which is either wick­ed, or esteemed so, which we know or ought to know, that it will be the cause that our neighbour will offend God.

The second happens different ways, viz. by Teaching, Commanding, Concealing, and Soli­citing to Sin by Entreaties, Threats, &c.

The One and the Other of these ways are ve­ry common amongst men, and probably are the cause of the greatest part of those sins, which are dayly committed. The Son of God saith Mat. 18.7. Vae mundo a Scandalis; necesse est enim ut veniant Scan­dale; Veruntamen vae homini illi per quem Scandalum venit, &c. That it is a great misfortune, that the world should be so filled with scandalls, as it is, and that this cannot otherwise be then a most lamentable case for him who causeth the scandall, and that it were better for a man to have a Millstone tyed to his neck and cast into the bottom of the Sea then to give Scandall unto his neighbour, that is, then to make him fall into sin.

Besides this way of positively contributing to the sin of another by actions, or words, there is another, which we may call negative; which happens when any one refrains from doing or saying something, which might hinder our neigh­bour from offending God. For not to hinder one from sinning, when we may, is to be the cause of the Sin of another. This happens in many cases, of which we shall discourse hereafter at the end of the examen of Sins.

The Fourth Part of the Treatise of Penance, which is Satisfaction.

CHAP. I. What Satisfaction is.

IT is the third part of Penance, which consists in doing or suffering something to repair in some manner the offence or injury, which is done to God by Sin.

I say to repair in some manner, because the great reparation for Sin was performed by the Son of God; who by his Precious Blood and Death, hath exactly repaired the injury which Sin did to God, and merited a generall Pardon of all the punishment, which the Divine Justice could require.

This reparation hath opened and facilitated a way to a reconciliation with God after Sin. For as much as the merits of our Saviour being ap­plyed to us, as they are, by the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance, restore us again to the Grace of God, which we had lost, and make us re­ceive the remission of the eternall Punishment due to our Sins: All this through the merits of Jesus Christ, and by the vertue of the Satisfacti­on, which he hath given to God the Father for the same Sins. A satisfaction, without which we should always have remained uncapable of satis­fying God, and by consequence of ever return­ing [Page 152]again into his Grace and Favour.

But as it is in his power, who receives him a­gain into his favour, by whom he hath been of­fended, to admit him on such conditions as him­self shall think sit; and either to remit him all the punishment, or to oblige him to undergo on­ly part of it; it hath pleased the Divine wisdom in respect of us to make use of both the one and the other of these two ways of reconciliation; tho' more ordinarily of the second.

For in Baptism he receives us into his Grace, and remits us all the Punishment due to our Sins. But in Penance he remits us indeed the Eternall punishment, but still reserves some Temporall pains to be imposed upon the Penitent, to the end he, the Penitent, may satisfy on his part according to his power, and for other reasons, which we shall speak of.

In the undertaking of this Temporall punish­ment, consists the satisfaction whereof we speak in this place, which is the third part of Penance.

CHAP. II. That God pardoning the Sin obliges to a temporal Punishment.

THis is a fundamental truth in the matter of satisfaction, and it is very necessary to un­derstand it well, that we may know what satis­faction or a Penance, is, and how much it imports us to comply with it.

I said above that God ordinarily makes use of the second sort of reconciliation, which im­poseth [Page 153]an obligation at least to suffer some pu­nishment for sin: which is easy to be proved.

He hath always practiced this in the Old Testament; Nay even from the beginning of the World.

When he pardoned the first man his sin, it was upon condition to do Penance by labour, to which he condemned him; and in effect it was a very severe Penance, which continued all his Life.

When he pardoned David his sins of Adultery and Murther, he told him by his Prophet, that he should be chastised by the death of his Child; and he remitted him nothing of all the menaces with which he threatned him by the same Prophet; That he himself should see the dishonour of his house: the dissention amongst his Children, and other misfortunes which were foretold him, and all which came to pass.

For this reason the Penitents of the Old Testament, when they begged of God pardon of their sins, they never as much as ask'd to be exempt from all punishment, but only not to be chastised according to the rigour of the di­vine justice; they desired to avoid his fury, and the more fignal effects of his wrath, but they submitted themselves to the fatherly correction he should be pleased to impose upon them. Re­prehend me not O Lord said David Psal. 27. in thy Fury, nor punish me in thy Wrath. And a little af­ter he declares that he is ready to do Penance and to suffer for his Sins, ibid. v. 18. Ecce ego in flagella paratus Sum; I am prepared saith he for Scourges. Another begs of God that he will Chastise him, but not in his Fury. Corripe me Domine, veruntamen [Page 154]in judicio non in furore. Hierem, 10.24.

There are a vast number of the like examples in the old Testament, which shew evidently that God doth not pardon Sins, but with an obliga­tion to do Penance; and that the Penitents of that time never pretended, nor required to be exempt from suffering for their Sins.

Yea even there have been some of the most il­luminated amongst them, who have sounded in­to the depth of the punishment, which God hath reserved to himself in the other Life, and who knew that God punished after death the Sins of the just, which had not been sufficiently expia­ted during Life. So Judas Machabeus, not only a great Captain, but also high Priest of the Law, after a signal Victory sent orders to Jerusalem to offer Sacrifice for the sins of the faithfull, who had been slain in that fight. And the Scripture 2. Mach. 12.46. approves that action, as an holy and wholsome thought; assuring us that by prayers and Sacrifices the dead are released from their Sins. But this cannot be understood of Sin, as to the fault, or the eternall punishment, which can­not be remitted after Death, no more then the fault from whence it springs. It must then be un­derstood of the Temporall punishment which the dead ought to satisfy for in the other Life, and from which they may be released by the Prayers and Sacrifices of the Living.

As to the new Law, here also God hath still continued the same manner of receiving Christi­ans into his Grace, in obliging them to satisfa­ction by temporal punishment; and that with so much more reason, as the Law they profess is more holy and more perfect.

This is the Reason why our Saviour hath said Mat. 12.35. that at the day of Judgment we must give account of the least Sins, as idle words: This sentence shall be given after death: There we shall give an account of our sins, there to receive the punishment: This shall not at all be an eternall punishment, for they will not at all deserve it; it must then be a temporall punishment, which must be undergone, and by which we must satis­fy in the other Life, if we have not satisfyed during this.

Hence also it is that the same Son of God by giving to his Apostles power to remit and retain sins, hath also given that of binding and loosing Sinners. This power of binding reacheth to ma­ny things: but amongst others it contains the Power of obliging Penitents to make satisfacti­on for their sins; and in releasing them from the bonds of the guilt and eternall punishment, it imposes upon them a temporall pain, for the sa­tisfaction of the Divine Justice. Thus the Church hath always urderstood that power of binding, as the Council of Trent hath declared Ses 14. c. 8. adding Can. 15. an Anathema to those that hold the contrary.

This is the cause, why the same Church which is infallible in the interpretation of the senti­ments of her Spouse, hath always made use of this power from the Apostles even unto this present time, having always received Sinners unto the Sacrament of Penance, by imposing upon them wholsome penances for their sins. For which she her self hath made rules and Canons, prescribing different penances for different sorts of Sins.

CHAP. III. Excellent reasons out of the Council of Trent to shew why God, remitting the Sin by Penance, obligeth the Penitent Sinner to a Temporal Punishment.

THe holy Council of Trent treating of Pe­nance, brings so efficacious and moving rea­sons to evince this truth, that to omit them here, Theotime, would be to deprive you of a signal sa­tisfaction.

It draws the first from the great equity of the Divine Justice, which treats those in a different manner who are differently or unequally guilty; as those are who have sinned before Baptisme, and those, who have offended after they have received it. For as concerning the former, as they have sinned with more ignorance, and without ha­ving received so many graces as Christians have, God remits them by Baptisme not only all their Sins, but also all the punishment which he might justly exact in satisfaction for them; granting them an absolute and entire pardon or an act of oblivion and indemnity of all that is passed in fa­vour of their entrance into Christian Religion. But he treats otherwise with them who relapse into sin after Baptisme, whose faults are infinitly greater, because then they have a clearer know­lege of the sin, and offend after they have been delivered from the Slavery of Sin and the Devil: After they have received the grace of the Holy Ghost, by which there Soul became the dwelling place of God, so that by sinning they violate the [Page 157]Temple of God, and contristate the holy Spirit, which they banish from their Souls. These rea­sons, which so much aggravate the sins of Chri­stians, are also the cause why God doth not par­don them with so much indulgence, but obligeth the Penitent after the remission of the fault, to some satisfaction for the sin.

Certainly, saith the Council, Ses. 14. c. 8. the equity of the divine justice requires that he should deal otherwise with them, who before Baptism have sinned by ignorance, then with them who by Holy Baptism have been delivered from the servitude of sin and the Devil, and after they have received the gift of the Holy Ghost have not been afraid to violate the Temple of God and contristat his holy Spirit. Sanè & divinae justitiae ratio exigere videtur, ut aliter ab eo in gra­tiam-recipiantur, qui ante Baptismum per ignorantiam deliquerint; aliter verò qui semel a peccati servitute liberati, & accepto Spiritus sancti dono, scienter Tem­plum Dei violare, & Spiritum sanctum contristare non formidaverint.

From thence the Council descends to the se­cond reason, which they derive from the good­ness of God, which imposes these punishments for our advantage, as followeth. Et divinam cle­mentiam decet, ne ita nobis abs (que) ulla satictfactione peccata dimittantur, ut occasione acceptâ peccata leviora putantes, velut injurii & contumeliosi S. Sancto in graviora labamur, thesaurizantes nobis iram in die irae.

It is very agreeable to the divine bounty not to remit our sins without obliging us to some Satisfaction, lest by occasion of too much mildness we should think our sins less then they are; and from thence take oc­casion to fall into greater, and to become injurious and contumelious to the Holy Ghost; and draw upon us [Page 158]the divine wrath in the day of Anger.

Proculdubio enim magnopere a peccato revocant, & quasi fraeno quodam coercent hae satisfactoriae paenae, cautiores (que) & vigilantiores in futurum poenitentes effici­unt; medentur quo (que) peccatorum reliquiis, & vitiosos habitus male vivendo comparatos contrariis virtutum actionibus tollunt. For without doubt these satisfactory punishments have a wonderfull Vertue to divert Peni­tents from Sin, and serve as a Bridle to withdraw them, and teach them to have a greater Guard for the future: besides they cure those reliques and disorders which sin had left in the Soul, and root out the Vicious habits contracted by a disorderly way of living.

In these last words the Council comprehends a third reason, which they draw from the whole­some effects, which follow from Satisfaction, which are the correction of past faults, and a­mendment of Penitents for the future.

They add yet two more, viz. That the works of pennance duly performed are a powerfull means to avert the punishment, which the divine Justice hath prepar'd in readyness to throw up­on us. And that by these pains, which we suffer for our sins, we become more like and better re­semble our Saviour Jesus Christ who hath suffered for our Sins; and from whose merit our satis­factions derive all their force or merit; And we are assured, Rom. 8.17. that if we have a part in his sufferings, we shall also partake of his Glo­ry.

The words of the Council are, Ibid. Ne (que) vero in Ecclesia Dei unquam existimata fuit ad amo­vendam imminentem a Domino paenam, quam ut has paenitentiae opera homines cum vero animi dolore fre­quentent.

Accedit ad haec quod dum satisfaciendo patimur pro peccatis Christi Jesu, qui pro peccatis nostris satisfe­cit, ex quo omnis nostra sufficientia est, conformes ef­ficimur, certissimam quo (que) arrham inde habentes quod si compatimur, & conglorificabimur.

CHAP. IV. Wherein Satisfaction consists, and whether it be Essential to the Sacrament of Penance.

WE have already said that it consists in doing or suffering some painfull thing to recompence the Temporal punishment, which God hath reserved after the remission of sin.

This satisfaction may be performed two man­ner of ways, either in Vertue of the Sacrament by the impaition of the Priest, or out of the Sacra­ment by the sole Devotion of the Penitent.

That only which is imposed by the Priest is Sacramentall, and makes a part of the Sacrament of Pennance.

That which the Penitent performs upon his own free motion is an effect of the virtue of Pe­nance, with which his heart is fill'd; and altho' it do not make a part of the Sacrament, it is ne­vertheless very profitable and wholsome; yea often very necessary to supply the defects of the Penance imposed by Confessours, which ordinari­ly come very short of the punishment which their Sins deserve in the sight of God.

It may be ask'd whether Sacramental Satisfa­ction be essential to the Sacrament of Penance? that is to say, whether or no, it be so necessary, that without it the Sacrament would be in valid as [Page 160]to the remission of Sins?

To which it is necessary that we answer under a distinction betwixt Satisfaction effectual or actual, and affective only, which is a sincere will to satis­fy. For the first is not at all of the essence of the Sacrament, so as without it the Absolution should be null: for it is certain, that Absolution may be given to a Penitent before he hath actually made any Satisfaction imposed by the Priest; which is evident from the practice of the Church, which frequently gives Absolution before Satisfaction be actually perform'd.

But as to the will of fatisfying God, it is so necessary, that without it the Absolution would be of no effect: The reason is because that will is inseparable from true Contrition; and he who hath it not at all, cannot have the necessary sor­row for his Sins, nor be truly Penitent: because it is the proper effect of Penance to endeavour to destroy Sin, and repair the injury it doth to Al­mighty God, as St. Thomas saith, 3. p. q. 85. a. 2. In Poenitentia invenitur specialis ratio actus laudabilis: viz. operari ad destructionem peccati in quantum est offensa Dei.

Besides as it is not the intention of God to for­give the Sin, but by obliging the Sinner to a Tem­poral Punishment, so neither can it be, that he who will not, or doth not design to undergo that pain, receive the remission of his Sins, which is not given him but upon condition to endure it. Moreover by that resistance to the Divine Will he commits a Sin in his very Confession, and by consequence renders himself uncapable of Absolution. This Conclusion we shall see more clearly hereafter in the Chapter.

CHAP. V. Of the Conditions Satisfaction ought to have on behalf of the Ghostly Father.

PEnance depends upon two persons, the Priest that imposes it, and the Penitent who accept­eth and performs it. There are certain Conditi­ons which it ought to have on either side. I shall speak briefly of the one and the other, that not only the Penitent may know what he ought to do to acquit himself of it with advantage, but al­so what the Confessour on his side is obliged to do, that he the Penitent may receive with great­er submission and more obedience the Pe [...]ance which shall be enjoyn'd him.

The Penance then, which is enjoyned by the Confessor, must have three conditions: It must be Just, Charitable, and Prudent: that is, impos'd with justice, with charity, and with Prudence. with Justice, in regard to the Honour and Inte­rest of God; with Charity in respect of the Sal­vation of the Penitent; with Prudence in order to the forming a right judgment of the quality of the Penance, that the foresight of the effects may follow.

These three conditions correspond to the three Characters of a Confessour in the Sacra­ment of Confession, of a Judge, of a Father, of a Physician: he ought there to behave himself as a just Judge, as a charitable Father, and as a wise Phisician.

First it must be Just, that is proportion'd to the [Page 162]Sins, as well in respect of the enormity, as the number; for if the Penance be too rigorous, it is an injustice in respect of the Penitent: if it be too light or easy, it is an injustice done to God. The first happens very seldome, but the second frequently, and renders the Confessours very of­ten extreamly culpable in the sight of God: which are the reasons why God, as S. Ciprian saith, doth not receive from Penitents the Satisfaction which is due unto him. Laborant, ne Deo satisfiat lib 1. ep. 3.

This proportion of the Penance with the Sin is not to be understood of an exact and rigorous proportion; for that cannot possibly be observed by man, none but God knowing the Punishment which each Sin deserves. But it is to be under­stood of a Morall and prudent proportion; so that a greater proportion be assigned to greater or more numerous Sins; and a lesser, for less heinous and fewer Sins: All this must be enjoyn­ed according to the ability of the Penitent, which depends upon the strength of their bodys, the disposition of their minds, their age, their sex, their state, and the like.

And in this the Confessors ought to proceed with much circumspection, remembring that they are not the absolute Masters and Arbiters in the im­posing of Penances, as they please; but that they act as Ministers of Jesus Christ: and that it doth not appertain to the servant to dispose at his pleasure of what belongs to his Master.

For this reason the Council of Trent speaking of Satisfaction, gives this advertisment to Con­fessours, worthy to be observ'd, and which they ought always to have before their eyes: I shall [Page 163]cite it in this place not only for the Confessours, but also for the Penitents sake; that they may know in this point the obligations heir Confes­sours have; and that they may understand, that they are not absolute masters of the Penances they enjoyn,

The Preists of our Lord, saith the Council ses. 14. c. 8. ought, as far as the Holy Ghost and Pru­dence shall suggest unto them, to enjoyn convenient and wholsome penances, having regard to the quality of the Sins, and the ability of the Penitents: for fear lest if they should connive at their Sins, and use them too indulgently, enjoyning some light works for most hei­nous crimes, they may become partakers of others Sins: and afterwards they add, That they have a particular care that the Penances they impose be not only a means to conserve the Penitents in Grace and cure their infirmities, but also serve to punish their past offences. Debent ergo Sacerdotes Domini, quan­tum Spiritus & prudentia suggesserit, pro qualitate cri­minum & poenitentium facultate, salutares & conveni­entes satisfactiones injungere; ne si forte peccatis con­niveant, & indulgentiùs cum penitentibus agant, levis­sima quaedam opera pro gravissimis delictis injungendo, alienorum peccatorum participes efficiantur. Habeant autem prae oculis ut satisfactio quam imponunt, non sit tantùm ad novae vitae custodiam, & infirmitatis medi­camentum, sed etiam ad praeteritorum peccatorum vin­dictam, & castigationem.

If Penitents would but consider well this ad­vertisement, and the obligation which their Confessours have to weigh well the penances they enioyn them; they would not complain, as fre­quently they do, that their penances are too se­vere, whereas they are far inferiour to what they deserve.

Next to Justice, Charity is necessary in enjoyn­ing of Penance, where the Priest ought to be mindfull, that he is a Father of his Penitent, to communicate unto him the life of grace. Now this is to be understood of a true & reall Charity and according to the will of God, which is the Salvation of the Sinner, and which consequent­ly ought to make him only solicitous for the Sal­vation of the Penitent, using to that end both mild and severe remedies as he shall judg most proper and most convenient.

Thus Charity avoids two extreams, the one of too severe Confessours, who behave themselves in regard of their Penitents, as some Fathers do towards their Children; whom they treat always with so much rigour, that they rather ruin them, then amend them. The other is of too soft and indulgent Confessours, who either following their own facil and complaisant nature, or negli­gently performing that dreadfull Office, treat all their Penitents with an equall, but less discreet, sweetness, enjoyning ordinarily but slight pe­nances for Mortall Sins, how great or how nu­merous so ever they be.

These two extreams are vicious, and have fre­quently very ill consequences, for the former renders Confession troublesome and tedious, and discourageth Penitents. The other makes it un­profitable, or of little or no effect for their a­mendment. This indiscreet mildness fausters them in their vices, without putting them to the trou­ble to correct them; as we see by too frequent experience, and the acknowledgment of Peni­tents themselves, who frequently avouch that this excessive mildness hath been very prejudici­all [Page 165]to them; and indulged them in their Sins.

Those Ghostly fathers ought first to remember that by this their mildness, they become guilty of others Sins, according to the above ci­ted advertisement of the Council of Trent in the 3. ch. Secondly, they wrong their Penitents in an high degree whilst they think to favour them. They hinder them from doing Penance, and from satisfying God by their good works, and are the causes why they relapse into their Sins. This is the Doctrine which St. Cyprian de­livers in his 14. Epist. Haec qui subtrahit fratribus, decipit miserios, ut qui possunt agere poenitentiam ve­ram, & Deo patri & misericordi precibus & operibus suis satisfacere, seducantur ut magis peccent. And moreover they ought to consider that they are no less injurious to the Sacrament of Penance, and to other Confessours, who administer that Sa­crament, as they ought, with more exactness. For the Penitents accustomed to this great indul­gence cannot endure Confessours, who are more exact in their duty, altho' they treat them with all the prudence imaginable, & with much Charity. They complain of them, they condemn them, they fly from them, and seek out the most indul­gent, and most commonly the most negligent in the performance of their duty.

There is a mean to be observed betwixt seve­rity and sweetness; we must mingle and temper the one with the other; as well in the reprehen­sions, which are proper to be given them, as in the penances one ought to enjoyn: And all this conformable to the dispositions of the Penitent; for we must act with more sweetness, with an humble and contrite Spirit, and with more Se­verity [Page 166]with him, who is void of these good quali­ties: we must employ mildness towards time­rous Souls, and Severity towards those, who are hard and difficult to be moved; and so of others.

Thirdly, there remains Prudence, which is the third condition which Penance ought to have. This is that which governs and directs the two prece­dent Conditions, Justice & Charity, & which ap­plies them in their proper place, & as they ought to be. Now this is not meer humane Prudence only, but a Prudence inspired by God, and which we ought to beg of him. Wherefore the Council said above, As much as the Holy Spirit and Prudence shall suggest unto him.

This Prudence in the enjoyning of Penance consists in the observance of many things, but particularly three. viz. that the Penitent be able to comply with the penance; That it be advan­tageous to him; And that it be secret for secret Sins.

The Confessour must foresee whether or no the Penitent be able to perform the penance en­joyn'd him; he must enquire of him whether he can comply with it; and know whether he un­derstand the reasons he alledgeth; and he must either shew him the means how to perform it, or give him another penance.

He must, as much as possible, enjoyn such a pe­nance as may be for the Salvation and amend­ment of the Penitent, so that making satisfacti­on to the divine Justice, he may be confirmed in his grace and in the way of virtue. This is done excellently by the imposition of such satisfacto­ry pains, as serve also for a remedy against the Spirituall distempers of the Penitent. For ex­ample, [Page 167]Fasting against intemperance and Luxu­ry; Alms-deeds against Covetousness and Pro­digality, and so of the rest.

In fine, the Penance must be Secret; that is, such as may be secretly performed, and without being taken notice of by others; so that there be no rational fear, that by the Penance the Penitent may be judg'd to have committed some notorious Sin, from whence Scandal may arise to others, and infamy to the Penitent.

This is to be understood, when the Sin is Se­cret, and the Penitent is in good repute amongst those with whom he lives; for if the Sins are publick or known to others, or if he be not ac­counted a very good and virtuous man, it is not only no harm, that the Penance be known to o­thers; but it is often very proper and some­times necessary, that he may edify those by his Penance and Coversion, whom he had scanda­lized by his wicked way of living.

CHAP. VI. Of the Conditions of Satisfaction in respect of the Penitent.

THE Penitent contributes two things to the Sacrament of Penance, the acceptance of it; and the putting it in execution; which is the rea­son why the conditions which it requires of him are, that it be well accepted, and duly performed.

First, the Penance must be well accepted, and before the acceptance it is no part of the Sacra­ment; because, as the Council of Trent hath it, [Page 168]the Sacrament is composed of three actions of the Pentient, Contrition, Confession, and Satis­tisfaction. Now Satisfaction begins to be an acti­on of the Penitent by acceptance.

Secondly, it is not only necessary that the Pe­nance be accepted, that so it may be a part of the Sacrament; but the Penitent also is obliged to accept it, if he intend to receive the Sa­crament.

This Second follows out of the foregoing truth; for the non-acceptance of the Penance would render the Sacrament defective at least in the integrity of its parts; nay, more, it would signify that he hath no mind to satisfy the Divine justice, and yet this mind or will is essential to the Sacrament, and necessarily included in Con­trition; as is above declared.

Thirdly, the Penitent is not only obliged to receive such a Satisfaction as himself thinks fit, but such an one as the Priest shall judge reasona­ble. And the reason is, because the Priest is his Judge having power to oblige him to the pu­nishment at the same time he remits his sins; and by consequence the Penitent ought to follow, and submit himself to the judgment of the Priest: and if he refuse the Priest may deny to give him Absolution.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent, de Penit. Sacram. n. 29. declares this truth in terms very proper to be cited in this place, to convince the Penitents of this their obligation. See how it speaks.

Penitentia est veluti quaedam delictorum compensa­tio, ab ejus Voluntate profecta, qui delinquit, ac Dei arbitrio in quem peccatum commissum est, constituta. [Page 169]Quare & voluntas compensandi requiritur, in quo maxime contritio versatur, & Penitens sacerdotis judicio, qui Dei personam gerit, se subjiciat, necesse est; ut pro scelerum magnitudine paenam constituere in eum possit.

Penance is a certain Compensation or recompence for Sins, that is, a vertue or action by which one gives to God in some sort the honour which he had taken from him, proceeding from the will of him who hath offended; and appointed by the will of God against whom the Sin was committed: wherefore the will of making recompence is also required in Pe­nance, as being the cheif part of Contrition: and it is a necessity incumbent upon the Penitent, to submit him­self to the judgment of the Priest who represents in that place the person of God, that he may ordain a pu­nishment according to the greatness of the Sin.

By this Authority Penitents may see the obli­gation they have to submit themselves to their Confessours, and accept of the Penance they en­joyn, in which Confessours also ought to pro­ceed with much discretion, as we have said, re­garding always what is most expedient for the Salvation of the Penitent.

In fine, that this acceptance of the Penance may be well performed, it must be done with these three conditions, humbly, willingly, and sincerely.

Accept it then humbly Theotime, that is, with respect, submitting your self to the judgment of your Confessor, as your Judge, your Father, and your Physician, and of him that holds the place of God: if you find any difficulty in what he shall ordain, declare it modestly and follow his directions.

Accept it willingly, acknowledging that you [Page 170]deserve a greater punishment, and that this chastisement is far less than what you owe to the Divine justice.

Accept it sincerely, that is, with a good and steddy will fully to perform all he shall Com­mand you.

As to the performance of the Penance, it ought to be exact and faithfully complied with: there is an obligation to discharge ones self of this Duty. First, because it is a part and belongs to the perfection of the Sacrament: 2ly, because it is enjoyn'd by an authority, which hath power to oblige, since God hath declared, that to be bound in Heaven which the Priest binds upon Earth. 3ly, because it is in vertue of that accep­tance one receives absolution.

There is then an obligation of complying with that penance, which one hath accepted; and he who on set purpose, or by willfull negligence fails to perform it, commits a Sin and an of­fence against God: and this more or less grei­vously, according as the omission is more or less considerable; for if it be but a slight omission, it is but a venial Sin; but if it be a notorious omis­sion, as of the whole penance, or the greatest part of it, it may be a mortal Sin: which is to be un­derstood if the Penance was enjoyn'd in satisfa­ction for a Mortal Sin.

Acquit your self then faithfully, Theotime, of your Penance, as obeying God in the person of your Confessour; discharge your self of the pro­mise you have made him, and compleat the Sacrament.

But remember to perform it willingly, de­voutly, and secretly.

Willingly, to avoid the fault which those com­mit who never perform it but with pain and trouble, whereby they loose the greatest part of the merit they might otherwise have. It is a strange thing that men should run after Sin with so much earnestness and pleasure, and should have such an Aversion and Horrour against Penance which is a remedy against it: And this is the complaint which Tertullian makes of his time. Nauseabit ad antidotum qui hiavit ad venenum. We nauseate the Remedy, and love the Poyson.

Perform it also devoutly, but especially with a true Spirit of repentance, and an acknowledg­ment that it is a certain satisfaction you make to God for the injury you have done him by your Sins. Place them always before your eyes, de­plore them as David did, iniquicatem meam ego cog­nosco, & peccatum meum contra me est semper. Psal. 50.4.

In fine, perform your Penance secretly, if it be great, and if it be given you for great Sins, but which are altogether unknown to those amongst whom you live; that you may neither scandalise any one, nor defame your self: It was for these two reasons, we said in the precedent Chapter, that the Preist ought to enjoyn such a penance that may be secretly comply'd with when the Sins are wholly secret; and the Penitent also must keep his Penance secret, that he may avoid the same inconveniences.

And yet this is a thing wherein Penitents and particularly young people are frequently faulty, declaring indiscreetly their penances to others, which cannot but be of very ill consequence, when [Page 172]their penances are signall and notorious.

If the penance be enjoyn'd you for Sins that are known to others; as you ought not to affect to publish it, so neither ought you to avoid the making of it known; being it may serve for the edification of others, and satisfy for the scandal, which your Sins have caused.

CHAP. VII. Of the Works which may be enjoyn'd for Penance.

THe most ordinary works of Penance are prayer, fasting, almsdeeds, and whatsoever may have a relation to any of these three: such as in respect of Prayer, are reading pious books, Meditation, Confession, hearing Mass.

In respect of fasting, all the Mortifications of the body, Labour, retrenching our selves even of lawfull Pleasures, Abstinence from things either Hurtfull, or Dangerous.

In regard of Alms, all the Helps and Assi­stances one can give to their Neighbour.

These three sorts of works are very proper for Penance, and agree with it admirably well.

For first, by these three works we submit to God all the goods which we possess, the goods of the Mind, those of the Body, and of Fortune. The goods of the mind by Prayer, which sub­jects the Spirit to God; those of the Body by Fast­ing and other Mortifications; and those of For­tune by Almsdeeds.

Secondly, because almost all our Sins consist in [Page 173]the abuse of some of these three things. Pride proceeds from the abuse of the goods or advan­tages of the mind; Luxury, from those of the goods of the Body; and from the abuse of our Riches proceeds Covetousness: We repair that abuse by the three above-mentioned works. Prayer humbles the mind, Fasting tames the bo­dy, and Alms makes good use of Riches.

These three works are highly praised and com­mended in the Scripture, as having a wonderfull force to appease Gods anger after Sin, and ob­tain of him all manner of favours.

It is said of prayers, Judith. 9.16. That the Prayers of the humble and good have always been pleasing to God. Eccle. 35.21. That the Prayer of him that humbles himself penetrates the Clouds. Peir­cing, as I may say, the Heavens to mount to the Divine Throne and make it self be understood and graciously heard. This made St. Augustine say, that it is the same for Prayer to ascend unto Heaven, as for Mercy to descend from thence. Ascendit Oratio, & descendit miseratio. And he adds elsewhere, th [...]t to make Prayer mount more easi­ly up to Heaven, it is good to give it two wings, viz. Fasting and Alms.

As for Fasting, it is said, Tob. 12.8. That Pray­er is good with Fasting. That the Fasting and Pe­nance of the Ninevites appeased Gods wrath a­gainst them. When God exhorts his People to penance, he assignes fasting as one of the most efficacious means. Convert your selves to me in Fasting, Tears, and Lamentations. Joel. 2.13.

And as for Alms, it is said, Tob. 4.11. That it delivers from Sin and Death. And that it will not per­mit that the Soul which gives it should be lost. That [Page 174]Dan. 4.24. by it we must redeem our Sins. That Eccl. 29.15. we must hide our almes in the bosome of the poor, and it will Pray and obtain of God an ex­emption from all evil for him that does it.

There is a great number of other passages in the Holy Scripture to shew how powerfull these three works are to obtain the mercy of God, and remission of Sins.

These three works have each of them three singular qualities, which render them more ami­able, and commend them to our more frequent practise. For they are Satisfactory, Meritorious, and impetratorious.

They are Satisfactorious in respect of the tem­poral punishment, by reason of the trouble which they give of Sins past, either to the Body or Mind; and by these pains or trouble willingly undergone, one Satisfies for the punishments which are due to the Sins he hath committed.

They are meritorious in respect of grace and glory; which is common to all good works per­formed in the state of Sanctifying grace.

They are impetratorious, that is they have a particular vertue whereby to obtain of God the favours which we demand, and that according to the intention of those who do them: and by how much better, that is, with more Fervour, and with a more Humble & Contrite Spirit they are performed; by so much more easily they ob­tain what they demand.

In fine, with all these admirable qualities, they have yet another of no less note, which in all rea­son should make them more lovely & more desira­ble. And it is this, they are good against the ma­ladies of the Soul; and serve not only as a reme­dy [Page 175]to cure past Sins, but also as a preservative against them for the future.

CHAP. VIII. That the Penitent who truly desires to work his Sal­vation, ought not to satisfy himself with the Pen­nance enjoyned him in the Sacrament, but he ought to perform others, and how.

IT is a great errour and very common amongst Penitents to satisfy themselves if they comply with the Penance that is enjoyned them, and to believe that they have done enough, when they have performed the Penance such as it was, tho' frequently far inferiour to what it ought to be. This abuse is the cause of many evils, and par­ticularly above the rest of the small progress one makes in vertue, of loose living, and relapses in­to Sin; it being certain that if we did Penance as we ought, for our past offences, we should not so easily fall into other sins.

Mistake not then Theotime, but be perswaded that you ought to do other Penances besides those that are enjoyned you in your Confessions, and this for several Reasons.

First the better to satisfy the Divine Justice for your past Sins, and by little and little to diminish the punishment, which yet remains due from you to be payed. 2ly, to make you more gratefull and acceptable in the sight of God after your Sins, and to merit at his hands those graces, which by your former crimes you had justly lost. 3ly. To restrain you from offending God, and [Page 176]relapsing into those Sins, for which you see your self obliged to suffer. 4ly. To cure the vicious and wicked inclinations of your Soul, by exerci­sing the acts of contrary virtues.

All these are the reasons of the Council of Trent cited above in the 5th Chapter; to which I refer my self.

This is the cause why the same Council hath said, Ses. 6. c. 13. That the Life of a Christian ought to be a perpetual Penance: and that the just ought to work their Salvation with fear and trembling, by Labour, by Watchings, Almsdeeds, Prayers, Fast­ings, and by Chastity. And these maxims are drawn from the Gospell, & the Doctrine of Jesus Christ, and his Apostles so that there is not the least ground to doubt of the truth thereof.

Wherefore, dear Theotime, I exhort you to re­flect seriously upon this truth, and convince your self, that it is necessary for you to do Penance in whatsoever state you are, if you intend to live like a Christian. It is a great errour to beleive that Penance belongs only to Religious, it is the duty of all Christians, and of all those that hope to save their Souls. But you will ask me how it is to be done? Behold the most easy means can be imagined.

Penance consists in two things, in a detesta­tion of Sin, and in suffering in order to satisfy for the injury it hath done to God. One of these is in the heart, the other in action; Comply with them both, and you will perform a very profi­table Penance.

First, conserve always in your heart a true re­gret or sorowfull sense for having offended God. And to conserve it better accustome your self [Page 177]dayly to renew it, & elicit acts of sorrow in your prayers, as at Morning and Night, demanding of him pardon for your Sins, and detesting them from the bottom of your heart.

Secondly, suffer for your Sins, and that two ways: first, by imposing upon your self some action of Penance to perform every day. One while a recital of some prayers, otherwhile a di­stribution of almes, sometimes mortification, as abstinence, or retrenchment of some lawfull pleasures, as divertisements, or the like. But all this must be done upon the motive of making sa­tisfaction for injurys done to God, which is the Spirit of Penance. 2ly. accepting willingly and with the same spirit of Penance, and satisfacti­on all the pains and evils which dayly befall you; As the inconveniences of Life, the disorders of Body, the troubles of mind, disgusts, loss of goods, poverty, necessities, afflictions either private, or publick; and generally all the evills which occur, and whereof this life is so fertile, and abounding: But especially the particular pains and hardships, which you are forced to suf­fer in the state and vocation where God hath placed you, there not being any where one is not obliged to labour and take pains.

All these afflictions and troubles we may make use of to do penance and satisfy for our Sins, up­on condition we suffer them with patience, (as the Council of Trent hath declared, sess. 14. c. 8 &. 9.) and with sorrow for our offences. Whereas on the contrary when we undergo them without patience, and without offering them up to God, for the remission of our Sins, and for satisfaction of the punishment which we have deserved, our [Page 178]sufferings are not only not mitigated, but also render'd unprofitable, without bringing either any benefit for the future, or any Comfort for the present; which is a thing which we ought to ob­serve well in this place.

CHAP. IX. Of Sacramentall Absolution. What it is. Wherein it consists, and what are its Effects.

ALtho' Absolution be a part of the Priests of­fice, yet it is very fitting that the Penitents should be instructed in it, to the end they may receive it with respect and sutable dispositions.

First, he must know, that as in every Sacra­ment there are two parts, whereof one is called the matter, the other the form. Absolution is the form of the Sacrament of penance, and with­out it there is neither a Sacrament, nor remissi­on of Sins by vertue of it.

This Absolution is a juridicall sentence pro­nounced by the Priest upon the Penitent, by which, after that he hath taken cognisance of the Sins which the Penitent hath confessed, and of his good disposition to receive the remission of them; and after that he hath enjoyned him a con­venient Penance, he remits his Sins on the behalf of God and by the authority which he hath given him.

It consists but in these three words, which are essentiall to it. I absolve thee from thy Sins, all the other which the Priests says before and after [Page 179]them, are Prayers which the Holy Church hath instituted to implore the Grace and Mercy of God upon the Penitent; and which may be o­mitted in case of necessity.

The effects of the Absolution are to remit the Sin as far as concerns the fault or offence of God, and the Eternall punishment: and blot out the stains which Sin had caused in the Soul; and re­cover the favour and freindship of God by the means of sanctifying Grace, which it bestows upon him; and revive in him all the precedent merits, which were mortifyed and lost by sin.

It produceth all these effects in the moment that it is pronounced. And in that happy moment is wrought this wonderfull change of a Soul, which is translated from the state of Sin to that of Grace, and from the slavery of the Devil, to the Blessed liberty of the Children of God.

O Blessed moment! Theotime, O Fortunate change! If we knew how to conceive it right, how should we bless God, qui dedit talem potesta­tem hominibus: who hath given such power to men? and what high esteem should we have of this Divine Sacrament?

CHAP X. Of the dispositions necessary to receive Abso­lution, and of the cases where it ought to be denied or deferred.

THis is a point in which it is truly necessary that Penitents be well instructed. For the greatest part of them imagin, that when they [Page 180]have confessed their Sins, there remains nothing more then to receive absolution, and that the Confessor without further difficulty is obliged to give it them; which is a very great errour, because the Confessor ought to know the dispositions of the Penitent, and judge whether or no he be in a fit state to receive it: without which he would commit a Sacrilege, absolving one unworthy, in stead of conferring a Sacrament; of which he ought to be very carefull.

He must then know & judge whether the Pe­nitent be sufficiently disposed to receive the ab­solution. And being these dispositions consist in two things, to be well Confess'd, and to be tru­ly Contrite for his Sins, he must judg of them both, and if he know him to be deficient in ei­ther of these two, or justly doubt that he is, he ought to deny the Absolution, or defer it till a­nother time.

First as to the Confession, He must judg whe­ther it be entire and true, and made with requi­site preparation. If he perceive that the Peni­tent hath not examined his Conscience, he must oblige him to take more time to call to mind his sins. If he judg that he doth not declare all his sins and conceals any one, he ought discreetly to dismiss him, provided he have a just ground to form that judgment. For example, if he see that the Penitent confesses himself with trouble, and that he is very much ashamed to confess his Sins. If he know by some other way, that he hath committed some Sin, whereof he doth not accuse himself, provided that he know it not by anothers Confession, which is a knowledg where­of he can make no use.

As to Contrition. The Confessour ought to understand whether the Penitent have that which is sufficient; and if he judge that he hath not, he cannot absolve him.

This judgment may be made one of these two ways, certainly, or under a doubt only, but that well grounded. In the first case he ought to deny absolution, in the second it is his duty to defer it. The Confessour judgeth with certain­ty, that Contrition is wanting in these three following cases.

First, when the Penitent gives not the least ex­teriour sign of it, but is dull and insensible to all that the Confessor tells him. In that case, saith the Catechism of the Councill, the Confessour seeing that the Penitent is not at all moved with compunction of his Sins, must mildly and with sweetness dismiss him.

Secondly, when either the Penitent doth not seriously promise amendment, or when he doth promise it, but will not perform what is necessa­ry to effect it, such as are to quit the immediate occasion of Sin, the company of one who makes him offend God, naughty, depraved, or mis­chevious books, play or games that make him swear.

Thirdly, when he will not perform these things to which he is obliged, as to restore ill­gotten goods, pardon his enemies, and be re­conciled to them.

In these three cases the Confessour ought to deny absolution, because the Penitent is not at all in a state fit to receive it.

He must also deny it, when the Penitent is guilty of any sin, reserved to a Superiour. be­cause [Page 182]in this case, he hath not power to absolve him.

There are other cases where he cannot so cer­tainly judge of the want of true Contrition; but where however he may reasonably doubt it. And this frequently is the cause of much trouble to the Confessour, who considers on the one side that he is obliged in conscience to deny absolu­tion to him that is unworthy of it, as he hath reason to judge that such a Penitent is; on the other side findes himself press'd by the Penitent to give it, who judges always in his own favour, and ordinarily believes himself better disposed then in reality he is.

This difficulty and this doubt happens upon several occasions, which it would be hard and too long to recount here in particular, but one above the rest is very ordinary; that is, when the Penitent after his Confessions relapses fre­quently into his mortal Sins, without any a­mendment of his Life. For altho' every time he confesses, he testifies his sorrowfull sense for his sins, and promises to amend; yet neverthe­less having already failed so often in his promise, one may reasonably doubt, whether this last re­solution of amendment be reall and sincere, or no.

CHAP XI. Of the choice of a Confessor.

COuld I but see Penitents with the same care and Sollicitude, endeavouring to cure the present and obviate the future diseases of their [Page 183]Soul, that divine particle; as I see them curi­ous in repairing and occurring to the infirmities of the Body, that frail peice of Mortality; how unexcusable, O God, should I think any advice upon the Subject of the election of a Confessour.

But, alas, when the body is concern'd there is not any one, who is satisfyed with the Physi­tian who is next at hand; much less doth rely upon him whom he thinks unskillfull. None was ever heard to say in a greivous sickness; any one so he be a Physitian is good enough for me; It is not then the sole Character can satisfy the curi­osity of the Patient; it is not the bare profession (with let his arrogance be punished; if he know no better) which puts a stop to his inquisitive concern in point of health.

No no, Theotime, in the urgent necessity of a dangerous sickness, the Illiterate, Unskilfull, or unexperienc't Physitian is not sought for; nei­ther would he be thought less then mad, who should prefer the judgment of the unlearned, when his malady required the most knowing artist.

Whereas this is the preposterous method Pe­nitents ordinarily take in choosing a Confessour the Physitian of their Souls: when they ly lan­guishing in that fatal disease of Mortal Sin; when upon the recovery depends eternal health or mi­sery: that Doctor is thought to have skill enough, who dares profess his function, for if, say they, he did not know his duty, he would not expose himself. And then it is that the first may be per­haps most wellcome.

And thus it is with many, who seem fond to delude themselves with such specious pretenti­ons, [Page 184]and appear even to be convinc't with a gloss of reason in things of the greatest moment, whilst the best of arguments are all too little in matters of less concern; as in the sickness of the Soul they seek no furthet then barely the profession; but when the Body is afflicted you shall have nice distinctions betwixt Physitians and Physitians, Sickness and Sickness; all indeed may be Physi­tians, but they are not all equally endowed with natural parts, Learning, and Experience; and there are some Sicknesses more dangerous then others, that require the most eminent Doctors; many frequently dy in the hands of the unskill­full, and how do I know, what my infirmity may be? I grant they proceed upon good grounds; in this their care of the Body; and desire no more but that they will do the same in the distempers of the Soul, and the choice of a Confessor.

But there are some, which is lamentable to think on, so far from this and so blindly foolish, as to reject the better, and apply themselves to those whom they know less able either to discern their malidies or to correct the vitious humours, or to let them see the number, greatness, and e­normity of their past Sins, to create in their Souls an horror of them, or make them sensible of what the malignity may grow to, if not pre­vented by timely repentance. They choose those who are less prudent in their prescriptions, and less capable to give suitable admonitions, neces­sary advices, and other remedies against the ma­ladies of the Soul; the most indulgent in their Penances, the most facile in resolution of cases of conscience, those in fine who dive least into their consciences, who pass slieghtly over all [Page 185]things, are least troublesome in questions, give little or no advice, and that which they give on­ly in a generall without descending to particu­lars, who satisfy themselves with what is told them and from a slight Penance pass over to ab­solution. And these are the Confessors not on­ly most followed, but most sought after.

Now is not this a deplorable blindness? Is not this willingly to extinguish the light of reason, that they may more freely and without remorse of Conscience fall into the pit of Hell.

Are not Christians miserably unfortunate in verifying by their practises that greivous com­plaint which God once made against the Jews. Isay. 30.9. This people said he, continually provokes my Wrath, these are deceitfull Children that will not hearken to the Law of God, who say unto the Seers, see not, and to the wise, search not good things for us; but speak pleasing things unto us; entertain us with errours and falsities?

But what disorders accrue to poor penitents by the remissness of such Confessors. Their Con­fessions become purely customary, not prompt­ed by the spirit of Penance. The reiteration takes off the shame and confusion due to their Sins; want of reprehension continues them in their te­pidity, and by their frequent relapses at last they deserve to be thrown headlong down the eter­nall precipice of Damnation.

And whence all this? But from negligent, ignorant, loose, or obsequious Confessors; who resemble those Prophets of the Jewish people to whom Jeremy doth attribute the cause of the de­solation of Jerusalem, Thren. 2.14. Your Prophets have declared unto them Falsities and fooleries, nei­ther [Page 186]have they made you know your iniquities, to move you to do Penance.

But if by this plea such like Confessors are found guity of the damnation of Christians; by the same certainly such Penitents will be Con­demned, who please themselves in the choice of such Confessors.

Therefore O Theotime, be not so far guilty of your own eternal ruin, as blindly to seek a di­rector by whom you may be blindly led; sooth not your self into your own destruction: But as you aim by your Confession to set your self in the right way to Heaven; so also let the choice of your guide be such, that you may reasonably expect by his means to obtain what you design; to be withdrawn from Vice, encouraged in Vir­tue; and securely conducted in your way to e­verlasting life. We have told you in the Instructi­on of Youth, what you are to do in the choice of a Director in the Second Part, Chap. 5. which you will do well to reade attentively.

The Fifth Part. Of the preservation of Grace after Confession against relapse into Sin.

CHAP. I. Of the Importance of this Subject.

I Treat here of this Subject because I find it of great importance, and yet seldom expressly handled in other Treatises of Penance.

The Importance is sufficiently evinc't in that the very Fruit and end of the Sacrament depends upon it, the Conversion of Sinners, and the Sal­vation of Souls.

Is it not in reality an unexpressible benefit for a Sinner to be restored to the grace of God, to be rankt a-new in the number of the Elect, and resetled in the Inheritance of the Kingdom of Heaven, after he had wilfully prescrib'd his Ti­tle and Right, and justly deserv'd to be for e­ver rejected?

But if this happy restauration, that was gained with trouble, be not preserv'd with care, but easily lost for want of compliance with our du­ty, what will it avail us? or rather what dire effects may we not expect from thence, from the wounds on the one side of a guilty Conscience, and on the other from the vengeance of an offen­ded God.

Where is there a Malefactor to be found, who, having been once pardon'd of a Capital Crime purely by the Clemency of his Prince, dare by a repetition of his offence provoke the Justice of an injur'd bounty?

Or where a Person, but even now freed from a dangerous Sickness, that doth wilfully renew the declining Malady, or rather who doth not with all the Sollicitude imaginable prevent the fatality of a worse relapse?

But, alas! it is only where the greatest con­cern is, that there the least care is found. When Eternal Life in the next depends upon the good State of the Soul in this; 'tis then only that the danger of a relapse, which is always worse then the Original Disease, is not regarded; 'tis only in this case that the Patient stands obstinately deaf to the advice of his Physitian.

Christians attempt that against God the Crea­tor of Heaven and Earth, which either the fear of a Temporal Power would deter them from, or the Sacred name of Friend make them asham'd of. For who is there that after reconciliation is not afraid to repeat continually the injuries of his Friend? and who is there that would not reasonably judge that man a Cheat and Impostor, who should pretend to the name of Friendship, and yet by a repetition of new offences continue to urge the good nature of his Friend; and by frequent relapses make his patience the only Sub­ject of their mutual amity, and his Facility in pardoning matter of ridiculing him to all the world.

Yet thus it is that Sinners treat with God. They confess their Sins, ask pardon, and time [Page 189]after time make their reconciliation with him by the Sacrament of Penance; and for some few days they curb their evil inclinations; but alas! they count not many from the time they return'd unto his favour, before they return to the offences by which they lost it.

Thus they pass all their Life Confessing from time to time, and continually returning to Mor­tal Sin after Confession; So that their whole life seems to be but one, as it were, continued Series or Succession of Confession and Relapses into Mortal Sin: Now and then to Confess, to give their Conscience a little ease and free it from some heinous Crime, by this way of proceeding seems to be only a disposition to enslave it in some other yet more enormous Sin; As if the Sacrament were instituted only for the remission of past Sins, and not at all to give us strength to avoid them for the future,

Good God, Theotime, Is it possible that Chri­stians, believing Christians, should be guilty of this disorder? That men endued with the light of Faith should treat God after this unreasona­ble and unworthy manner? Is this to under­stand the nature of the Sacrament of Penance, what it is? Is this to believe that it is a Sacra­ment of reconciliation with God, not only by way of truce or for a time, but after the manner of a perpetual or eternal peace? is this to form a right judgment of his unlimited power, not to value his favour and Friendship? or do they (as indeed their repeated and customary offences speak it) believe him only infinite in his attribute of Mercy, but not of Justice, so easily to with­draw themselves from that Grace, to which [Page 190]by his only Mercy they have been admit­ted?

Did God only seldom and with much difficulty receive us again into his favour after we had of­fended him, every one would stand upon his guard; one would be afraid to fall again into his dis-favour, and to hazzard his Eternal Salva­tion by an unfortunate relapse. But being we think we shall be re-admitted into his favour when we please, and that there is no more to be done than to present our selves to him in the Sa­crament of Penance to receive remission of our Sins, we take the freedom to offend him on all occasions. Thus we treat our God; and thus we take a motive from his goodness to continue to offend him; and to neglect that Sacred tye of his Friendship to that degree, as every moment to break its bonds. An affront one would not offer to the most contemptible Person living.

See then, Theotime, and consider well of what great consequence this Subject is; and how it de­serves to be solidly treated, and requires also your serious reflection.

CHAP. II. How the relapse into Sin is a very great evil.

ALL what I have said doth sufficiently evince the greatness and enormity of this evil; yet that you may be the more fully persuaded of it, it is necessary that you learn it from the Ho­ly Ghost himself, and by those lights he hath vouchsafed to shew us in Holy Writ.

First, the Wise Man in the 26th Chapter, verse 25 of Ecclesiasticus considering the greatness of this evil, declares, that he cannot behold it without a just indignation. He saith then, that there are two things, which when they happen grieve him very much; the one to see a great Warriour, after he hath served a long time in the Campagne, reduc't to Poverty: the other to see a Wise Man despised, instead of being e­steemed, according to his merit: But he adds, that the third he is not able to endure; and that it causes in him a transport of the highest wrath; that is to see a man who falls from the State of Ju­stice and Sanctity, to that of Sin, and who aban­dons Virtue to follow Vice; and he assures us that God will make that Person feel one day the effects of his Justice.

In another place he exclaims against those who forsake the path of Virtue, and give them­selves over to Vice. Eccle. 2.16. Woe be to you who have forsaken the right; and have declined into perverse ways; what will you do when God shall exa­mine your ways and all the actions of your Life?

The Apostle St Peter, 2. Ep. 2.20. inveighs with much zeal against those who return to sin after they have renounc't it by the Profession of Christianity, and declares that they fall back into a far worse State or Condition than the former, from whence they were deliver'd by their Conversion, which was a State of darkness and Sin. That it had been better for them they had never known the Truth, than to have forsaken it, after they had known it. That their relapse into Sin makes them resemble the Dog, which returns to his vomit, and the Hog. which, after he hath been wash'd, wallows in the mire. [Page 192]What could be more emphatically said against the relapse into Sin? yet it is the Holy Ghost himself who speaks it.

Add also that which he hath spoken upon this Subject by the Council of Trent in those excel­lent words, which we cited above in the Fourth Part, the third Chapter, in which he describes with much energy the enormity of their fault, who relapse into Sin after Baptism. He remarks four notorious circumstances, which aggravate their first relapse. The first is that they sin after that they have been once delivered from the Sla­very of Sin and the Devil. Mark this word Once. 2. That they sin after they have received the Grace of the Holy Ghost. 3. That they sin with knowledge, or knowingly. 4. That in sinning they violate the Temple of God, and contristate his Holy Spirit.

CHAP. III. Of three great indignities which are found in the Sin of relapse; The Ingratitude; The Perfidious­ness, and the Contempt of God.

THis is to shew you yet more clearly the grie­vousness of the Sin of relapse from three circumstances which it includes, and which ren­der it most enormous.

The first is a prodigious Ingratitude which it discovers towards God in offending him over and over, after innumerable benefits received from his hand; and above the rest after he hath been by God's pure Mercy deliver'd not only once or [Page 193]twice, but many times, from Sin and eternal death.

Ponder well upon this ingratitude, Theotime, & judge what it is for a Slave to be ungratefull to his Lord, his Redeemer, to him to whom he owes all he hath, in fine to God himself: If the Councill of Trent exaggerate with such vigour the first sin, which one commits after Baptism, upon this only account that it offends God af­ter one hath been once deliver'd from the capti­vity of Sin and the Devil; Semel a peccati & Dae­monis Servitute liberate. What would they say of those, who fall back into sin after they have been delivered from it, not once, but many times, only by the Sacrament of Penance? Was there ever an ingratitude parallel to this? Deut. 32.6. Haeccine, reddis Domino Popule stulte, & insipiens? O Christian Souls! is it thus that you treat your God?

Must you not have lost all your judgment and understanding to be thus forgetfull of the infinite favours of your Creator; and who after you have been admitted into his grace and favour conti­nue to offend your maker?

But mark well, that he never accepted of that reconciliation but upon condition of a sorowfull sense, which you protested that you had to have offended him; and upon Promise, which you made to be faithfull to him not to offend him any more. So that you are not only ungratefull in offending anew, after he had pardon'd you; but also a perfidious man and a traytour, which is the second indignity, which aggravates the Sin of a Relapse. Perfidious, because you acted con­trary to your word, and contrary to the Solemne promise, which you made to God, that you [Page 194]would serve him for the future. A promise which you made not to a man, but to God himself So­lemnly in the hands of the Church, and in the presence of Angells. You would blush for shame, if you should fail in your word to a man; and you make a custome of it to be false to God, to whom nothing is more displeasing then a promise slightly made, and ill comply'd with. Eccles. 5.3. Displicet Deo infidelis, & Stulta promissio.

Moreover you are not only perfidious, but your perfidiousness is a certain treason which you commit against God; because you rebell and desert him to yield your self over to his Enemy the Devil, and serve him anew against God him­self. This is that Sin, which Tertullian exagge­rates so strongly in the Book of Penance; where he saith, that he who after he hath renounc'd the De­vil by Penance, returns again to Sin, gives occasion to the Enemy to rejoyce upon his return, and triumph against God, saying, I have regain'd the prey, which I had lost. He subjoyns, that this is manifestly to pre­fer the Devil before God himself, when it being in his choice whether he will be for the one, or for the other, he so easily deserts the Service of God, to deliver him­self up to that of his Enemy: and that by relapse into Sin, he who before had a design to appease God, by his Penance, as if he repented himself of that good action, becomes willing to make full satisfaction to the Devil by revoking his Penance, and doing Penance for that he hath done Penance for his Sins: rendring himself by this fatal change as hatefull in the sight of God, as he will be wellcome to his enemy the Devil.

Weigh well these reflections, Theotime, and you will find they are all absolutely true, not only for the ingratitude, and persidious treachery, which [Page 195]one is guilty of in regard of God, when after Penance he returns again to Sin; but also for the enormous contempt, which one shews, of his graces, and of God himself. For what greater affront can a person offer to God, to make less esteem of his friendship, then of all those trifling things for which one so easily relapses into Sin? Is not this to esteem and make great­er account of those things, then of the grace of God: or as Tertullian hath it, to prefer the Devil who presents them, before God who forbids them. Nonne diabolum Domino praeponit?

And that I may make you truly sensible of the greatness of this contempt; I ask whether there can be a greater affront offer'd to a person, then not only continually to neglect his correspon­dence, and all signes of amity, after he hath been honoured with his friendship; but dayly to of­fend him anew after his reconciliation; to be al­most constantly at distance with him, in hopes to be restored to his favour when one pleases? Would not every one say, that he who should deal thus with his friend, would take him for a stupid, and a senseless man, who had not the least sense to see himself so slighted; and his friendship set at nought; his favour, or dis­pleasure equally regarded? never was there seen an affront or contempt comparable to this. And yet this is that with which one treats Al­mighty God, when he repeats his relapses into Sin after confession; a contempt which ought to make those who are guilty of it tremble, at the just judgments of God. And this is what we are about to speak of.

CHAP. IV. That those, who relapse frequently into their Sins, ought to dread their Salvation.

THe generality of Christians, who live habi­tuated to Relapses into Sin, are wont to say, that God is good and mereifull, and to take oc­casion from this hope in his Mercy never to a­mend their lives. Which is so intollerable an er­rour, that it can never be sufficiently refelled.

And first, it is in this that the greatness and the excess of the contempt which is offer'd to God consists, that one takes occasion from his good­ness and Mercy more heinously to offend him; and never continue long in his favour, since he believes it so easy to regain his Grace.

But in the next place, those who make use of this pretext, reason and discourse very ill, and deceive themselves most shamefully; for though it be very true, that God is infinitely good and his mercies have no bounds; where did they ever find, that God is good to those who despise him, and who trust so much to his goodness, as not to apprehend, but slight his displeasure? Holy writ tells us, that God is good to those that are good: that he is good to those that hope in him, and seek after him; that he shews mercy to those who return unto him. But it is not any where said, that he is good to those that contemn and slight him: On the contrary he threatens them with dreadfull punishments. 1. Reg. 1.30. Qui contemnunt me erunt ignobiles: It is said indeed, [Page 197]that God shews mercy to Sinners who return un­to him by repentance; but it is no where said, that he hath promis'd mercy to all Sinners that they shall return. We are assured that God re­ceives all those, who truly converted from their Sins return unto him; but where is it ever said that he receives those who return not to him but with this restriction, for a time, upon occasion of some great Solemnity; and then after a little time willingly fall back into their Sins?

This is not found in any place of Holy writ: But on the contrary we find there dreadfull and terrible menaces against those, who treat God with such infidelity, and so great contempt. I shall produce two remarkable passages of this kind; the one out of the Old, the other from the New Testament.

The first is drawn from the People of Israel newly departed out of Egypt. This chosen peo­ple of God was fallen into Captivity, and under the Tyranny of the Egyptians; under which they had groan'd for a long time overwhelmed with labours, and miseries. God by a peculiar mercy withdraws them from it, working many prodi­gies and great miracles in their favour; and a­mongst the rest the death of the first-born of the Egyptians; the passage through the Red Sea, as up­on dry land, so to free them from the Persecu­tion of their Enemies, who pursued them with a Powerfull Army. He conducted them all that way by means of a Pillar of Fire, which marched before them: he fed them with Manna, which he shower'd from Heaven every morning. This dull and ungratefull people in the midst of all these favours and divine caresses revolt from God, [Page 198]repenting themselves, that ever they had forsa­ken Egypt (where they had lived so long op­press'd with so much misery) wishing every mo­ment to return back thither; murmuring against God upon every the least occasion, and distrust­ing in his Providence, and Almighty Power. God is often inconsed against them, and punisheth them so severely, that many times this people taught by afflictions, returned to the duty, and obedience due to their God, and their Redeemer. But this their Repentance lasted not long; for upon every first occasion they fell back to their wonted infidelity.

One there was, the height or chief of all the rest, which was the occasion of their utter ruine. It was when approaching to the land of Pro­mise they refused to enter there, giving more credit to the false reports raised by Male-con­tents, then to the word of God, and the assuran­ces he had so often given them of the goodness & Excellency of that agreeable abode: This pro­voked Gods wrath to that degree, that he swore that not any of all those, who had been incredu­lous to his word, should enter into the place of repose and rest, the Land of Promise, which he had prepared for them.

The words, in which he expresseth himself, are very remarkable upon this Subject. Num. 14.21. As I live, all the Earth shall be fill'd with the Majesty of the Lord: but all those who have seen my Glory, and the worders I have done in Egypt, and in the Desart, and who have already Tempted me T [...] Times, and have been Rebellious and Disobedient to my Voice, shall never see the Land, which I have Pro­mis'd their Fathers with an Oath; and not one of [Page 199]them, who have Murmur'd against my Promises shall ever Enter there.

This Menance was not like the former, with which he had threatned that People: For it was, accomplish'd to a Tittle, and not one of them that Murmur'd entred there. They all dyed in the Desert, where they continued near Forty years, and their Children had the Happiness to possess it in their place.

From this passage we discover two things; the first the Method which God used with those, who relapsed so often into their Former disobe­dience, and who by their Faithless promises wea­ried out his Patience: The Second how he com­ports himself towards Christians, who continu­ally do little else, but abuse his favours, by re­turning to their Former Sins. For that, which he did to the Jews, is a Figure and a lively repre­sentation of that, which Christians may expect.

This is the remark and Advertisement of Saint Paul upon this same Subject, and upon this pas­sage; whose words deserve to be related in this place, and ponder'd with Attention.

It is in the First Epistle to the Corinthians the 10th Chapter, where he delivers himself in this manner, I would not that you should be Ignorant Brethren, that all our Fathers, who are the Israelites, were under the Cloud, and all passed thro' the Red Sea, all in Moses were Baptized in the Cloud and in the Sea, and did all Eat the same Spiritual Meat, and did all drink the same Spiritual Drink; for they drank of the Spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. But all did not receive equal benefit from these Blessings, for with many of them God was not pleased; for they died in the Wilderness. Now [Page 200]all these things happen'd Literally to them, but by way of Figure in respect of us. This is, to re­present unto us, as far as may be, what will befall us, and admonish or forewarn us, that we do not lust after things, as they did. Nor Tempt our Savi­our Jesus Christ with our perfidious infidelity, as some of them did. And all these things happen'd to them in Figure and are Written for our Instruction. Wherefore concludes this Divine Apostle, Let him who seems to himself to stand, take heed that he do not fall. Which is as much as to say, that every one take great care to conserve himself in the Grace of God, when once he hath had the blessing to receive it.

All this is more then enough to demonstrate the truth, we have advanc'd, of the extream dan­ger to which our Salvation is expos'd by frequent relapses into mortal sin. But behold yet a more express text of the same Apostle St. Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews, ch. 6.7. who speaking to those who fall back into Sin after they have been once reconcil'd to God, describes what they may expect under the metaphor of an ungratefull Soil, which being carefully till'd however brings forth no fruit.

The Land (saith he) which is water'd with fre­quent rains, and which brings forth to the Husband­man its fruit in due season receiveth Blessing of God. But if it bring not forth but only thorns, and bryars, it is given over to be accurs'd, and at the end to be con­sumed by fire. Terra enim saepè venientem super se bibens imbrem, & generans her bam opportunam illis a qùibus colligitur, accipit benedictionem à Deo. Proferens au­tem spinas ac tribulos, reproba est, & meledicto proxi­ma, cujus consumatio in combustionem.

These words have no need at all of explication, Theotime, but only of reflection; putting in stead of the word ungratefull Soil, that of a Soul unfaith­full and perfidious to her God; who by returning to her usual Sins continually abuses the graces she receives in the Sacraments, without bringing forth any of the fruits of true repentance; And you will find that this is, what she ought to fear from the hand of God, and what you your self if you be such, ought to stand in dread of, viz. lest you be rejected by God, be cursed by him, and abandoned to eternal fire.

These three miseries, which are the greatest of all those which one can fear, are those which make up and accomplish the eternal damnation; and they are the very same express'd in the sen­tence, which God shall pronounce against the damned. Go ye Accursed into everlasting fire. See what we have said upon this subject in the second part, the 11th Chapter, and third Article.

CHAP. V. A further confirmation of this truth from other proofs, and first from the uncertainty of their Con­fessions, who relapse frequently into their Sins.

THere are other authorities we might bring, and a vast number of reasons that evidently make out the extreme danger to which this fre­quent relapse into sin after Confession exposeth the Salvation of those, who do not at all amend. I will alledge some few in this place.

The first is, that the Salvation of those who [Page 202]are in Mortal Sin depends upon true Penance, and a good Confession; Now it is very difficult for those, who live in this ordinary relapse, to be truly Penitent, when they come to Confes­sion, and by consequence it is very hard for them not to make frequently invalid and null Confes­sions, whereby they receive no Absolution of their Sins.

For first, it is certain that those, who live in this manner, do not ordinarily confess, but by course and custom upon occasion of some great Solemnity, or for some other reason of decency, and apparent piety: They seldom or never do it with a true Spirit of repentance, and a real desire to amend, and break themselves of their vi­cious habit. And by this means how many inva­lid Confessions do they make?

Secondly, how can it be thought, that those, who relapse ordinarily into the same Sins after their Confessions, should have true Contrition, when they make their Confessions? For true Contrition requires a great, and that sorrowfull, sense of what is past, with a firm and constant resolution for the time to come. Now who can believe, that they detest those Sins from the bot­tom of their hearts, which they resume again so easily and so soon? how can it be thought, that they have a firm resolution to do, what they wellnigh never go about to do; that is, to amend their Lives? How can it be, that in all their Confessions they have a firm resolution to leave the Sin, which yet they never forsake? or ne­ver leaving it at all, can it be believ'd, that they have always a true resolution to forsake it? This is what cannot be conceiv'd; and which never [Page 203]happens in Temporal concerns, where a firm re­solution never scarcely but takes effect, and is follow'd with performance.

Certainly there is not any more infallible sign of false Repentance. For as St. Augustin saith, se poenitens es, poeniteat te; si poenitet te, noli facere; se adhuc facis, poenitens non es. If you are Penitent, you ought to repent your self of your Sin; if you be sorry for it, do not commit it; if yet you commit it, you are not penitent at all. And St. Ambrose saith excellently well, that he, who is asham'd of the evil he hath done, will take great care to avoid, what may make him blush anew.

Some are wont to answer, that this relapse in­to Sin doth not proceed from any want of reso­lution, and repentance, but from humane frail­ty, which inclines to evil.

This excuse is as false and ill grounded, as it is common amongst men, who flatter themselves in their Sins, which they will not leave.

For first, can it be said, that this is an effect of Frailty, when one willfully returns to Sin, knowing full well the evil he doth, and when he hath all the means necessary to preserve himself from it? Is not this, what we call the Sin of Ma­lice, and not of Frailty? as we have shewn above in the Third Part, Chap. 14. And yet this is the case of the greatest part of all those, who relapse ordinarily into Sin after Confession.

Secondly, Can it be call'd an effect of Frailty, when one returns to Sin, because he will not take pains, or do any thing, which may withdraw him from it; he will not avoid the occasions; nor remove the causes of it; nor take counsel; nor use any means to that effect? Is not this [Page 204]clearly to deceive ones self, to treat in this man­ner; and yet to attribute his frequent relapse to Humane Frailty?

Thirdly, However were not this frailty assisted by divine grace, the excuse might pass: But being strengthened as it is, abundantly by the helps, which God bestows upon us in our necessities; we cannot lay the fault of our relapses into Sin upon our own frailty, but we shall accuse our selves, either of not demanding the grace of God in our prayert, or of not being faithfull in co­operating with his grace.

Wherefore to speak the truth, we ought not here to accuse humane frailty, but the weakness of our repentance & contrition; the faint regret or sorrow for Sins past, and the weak and very imperfect resolution we have to avoid them for the time to come.

I do not say, that the relapse into Sin is al­ways an effect of a false repentance: for that is not true; and it is certain it may happen, and happens dayly that one falls back into those Sins, of which he was truly penitent. But I speak of a frequent, and ordinary relapse; and I affirm, that morally speaking, it is impossible, that those who live in this manner, do not make very fre­quently invalid and null Confessions, for want of contrition; and that they often believe them­selves to be, when they are not, truly Penetent for the reasons above-mention'd; which evinces the truth of that excellent saying of St. Clement of Alexandria, to demand frequently pardon for faults which one frequently commits, this is not to be a Pe­nitent, but only to have a shadow and appearance of Penance. Ponder well these words.

CHAP. VI. An excellent Advertisement of St. Gregory upon the false repentance of those, who return to their Sins.

I Cannot omit in this place an advertisement of main concern, which St. Gregory the great in his Pastoral 3. p. c. 3. gives to those, who after they have performed their Penances do not a­mend their lives; which is, that they ought to take heed lest their repentance be not very of­ten false and only in outward shew: Of which he gives a considerable reason in these words. We must admonish those, who do Penance for their past Sins, and who nevertheless relapse into them, that they carefully consider one thing; which is, that many times it happens to Sinners, that they find within them­selves motions, which carry them on to Virtue, but unprofitably and without fruit; as it happens many times to the Just to be tempted and sollicited to Sin, but without effect. He adds, that as the Temptations, to which the Just do not at all consent, serve to confirm them more in Virtue; so these imperfect motions towards Virtue serve to detain the Sinners in their Sins, and to give them a pre­sumptuous considence of their Salvation in the midst of their Sins, which they commit so freely without remorse: And he observes, that this presumption is a punishment of their reitersted and repeated Sins.

He produces consequent to this discourse two opposit examples of Balaam and St. Paul. Ba­laam, [Page 206]saith St. Gregory, seeing from the top of a Mountain the people of God encamp'd in the Desart, conceived some pious and strong desires of his conver­sion, languishing away in wishes to dye the death of the Just, and to resemble that holy People in his death. But immediately after he gave pernicious Counsel to destroy those very People, whom he had so much wished to resemble in his death. St. Paul on the contrary feels within himself the motions, which sollicite him to Sin, and these Tomptations confirm him more in Virtue.

Whence comes this St. Gregory asks the que­stion? Balaam is touched with motions of repentance, and is not justified: St. Paul is incited to Sin, and the temptation doth not defile his Soul: But to convince us, that good works begun and not perfected, do not con­duce at all to the Salvation of the wicked, no more then the first motions to evil do render good and Virtuous Souls culpable in the sight of God.

This Animadversion deserves to be well con­sidered, and so much the more for that it re­marks a very particular reason of the false repen­tance which is customary to those, who do not at all amend then Lives; viz. that it often happens they have only a beginning of repentance by some good motions they seel in their heart, with­out proceeding further. They conceive indeed some disple sure against their Sins, but not a per­fect hatred and detestation of them; they feel some faint desires, but they have not at all an entire and true resolution to forsake them.

There is yet one thing more very remarkable in this Advertisement upon the example of Ba­laam and his false repentance: For this wicked Prophet in the motion he had of repentance, desi­red indeed to dye the death of the Just; but he [Page 207]saith not one word of living as they did; he de­mands the blessing to resemble them in his death; but not to be like unto them in his life. Let my Soul, saith he, Num. 23.10. dye the death of the Just, and let my end be like unto theirs. Thus his re­pentance was not true but false; because he did not desire to forsake his Sins, and amend his life; but only to be sav'd at the hour of death. Which is properly to desire to live ill, and yet dye well, and so not be punish'd for it. Now this kind of repentance is found but too often amongst Chri­stians, and peculiarly amongst those who live in this customary relapse, of which we speak. For there is not one single man of them, who desire not to dye in the grace of God, and save their Souls. And for this reason they go to Confession now and then to discharge themselves of their past Sins, that they may not be troubled with remorse of Conscience at the hour of death: But they seldom or never desire to live holily; or at least they have not an effectual and efficacious will to do it, as by their frequent relapses it doth but too evidently appear.

CHAP. VII. That by returning back to Sin we lose great part of the fruit of our precedent good Confessions.

THis is another efficacious reason to demon­strate the danger to which one exposeth his Salvation by returning back to Sin. That it doth not only render abundance of Confessions invalid and nall; but it also makes us lose the [Page 208]fruit of those good Confessions we have made.

Two fruits there are of the Sacrament of Pe­nance. The first is the Remission of Sins. The second the Recovery of the friendship of Almigh­ty God, and many other Graces and Assistances, which he grants by vertue of the Sacrament to those, who perform the Penance their Sins de­serve. Tho' these two effects be produced at the same time, and inseparably the one from the o­ther; yet one may be lost without the other. For by relapse into Mortal Sin one doth not at all lose the Remission, which he hath receiv'd of precedent Sins by good Confessions; it being most certain, that a Sin once pardon'd doth never revive again: Forasmuch as the Apostle hath it, Rom. 11.29. The gifts of God are without repen­tance. But as to the Friendship of God, and the special assistances of his Grace, which one me­rits by means of the Sacrament, it is certain they are entirely lost, when one relapses into Mortal Sin: and this mischievous fall causeth a deplora­ble ruine in his Soul, who yields himself over to it.

God himself threatens this by his Prophet. Ezech. 3.20. If the Just Man, saith he, with­draws himself from his Justice to return to his former iniquity, I will forget all the good, he hath done.

And the Wise Man saith upon this Subject, Eccl. 34.30. What doth it avail a man, who hath touched a dead body to have washed himself, if again he defile himself and touch it?

This is the reason, why God saith to Sinners by his Prophet; wash and be cleansed: he doth not only say that they wash themselves from their iniquities, but that they be also cleansed; foras­much [Page 209]as Saint Gregory observes, it is to no purpose to be washed, if one do not conserve himself clean. Without this one doth no more then those un­clean Animals, which wash themselves, and pre­sently return to wallow in the dirt.

This obliged St. Peter and others, when they spoke of Penance to advertise Penitents, that Pe­nance avails them nothing, who, after they have performed it, return to Sin; except it be for their greater ruine. 2. Pet. 2.

Those, saith St. Gregory above-cited, who do Penance, and do not amend their Lives, are to be ad­monished, that it is to no purpose to cleanse themselves from their Sins by tears; if afterwards by their e­vil actions they defile their Souls: And that they seem only to cleanse themselves, to the end that after they are washed they may return to their former filth.

CHAP. VIII. That by frequent relapse into Sin one allways falls into a worse condition, then before.

THis truth our Saviour himself hath taught us upon occasion of a possessed person, whom he had delivered from that miserable condition. It happens, saith he, that the wicked Spirit be­ing cast out of a man, useth all his endeavours to return to his former dwelling, and calling o­thers to his assistance at last he re-enters there, & this second possession is much more prejudicial then the former. Mat. 12.45. and the last of that man be made worse then the first.

By this example of a person whose body is [Page 210]possessed, we are instructed in what passes in the Soul, when one unfortunatly relapses into Sin; as the Apostle St. Peter hath explained it in these words, 2. Epistle cited in the second Chapter. If after they are retired from the disorders of the world they suffer themselves yet to be intangled and overcome: thereby they fall back into a worse condition then before.

Now if this be true of the first relpse, what will it be of the Second, of the Tenth, of the Twentieth, and of all those, which befall them, who do nothing else all their life time, but rise and fall, repent and then as often return to the Sins they had repented of? It is evident that they fall at last into a most deplorable State, e­ven almost into an impossibility ever to save their Souls.

This is certain, and if you doubt it; answer if you can, this proof and demonstration.

By this ordinary relapse, three things which put his Salvation in the utmost danger, befall the Sinner. First, ill habits encrease, and grow stronger and stronger. 2ly. The light and graces of God diminish in an high degree. 3ly. The De­vil comes with more strength, and power to de­stroy him, whom he sees so deeply engaged in wickedness.

Behold three things, which without doubt when they happen, endanger Salvation in an high degree: Now it is certain they befall all those, who frequently return to Sin.

For first as to vicious habits; it cannot be doubted but they are so fortifi'd by frequent re­lapse, that they become at length invincible. The reason is clear, and the experience but too certain; as was evidently shewn in the Instru­ction [Page 211]of Youth in the first part. Chap. 10.

As to the Graces, or special favours of God, there is not any thing more apt to diminish them then customary relapses accompanied with such and so many Ingratitudes, perfidious Infideli­ties, and contempts, as have been above declar'd. But that which most of all impairs them, is the abuse of the Sacraments, which one is guilty of during these frequent relapses. For of two, the one, either the Confessions which they make, and the Communions they frequent, are good or bad: if had; then they are so many Sacriledges; which provoke Gods wrath against us, which banish his grace from our Souls, and render us infinitely unworthy in his sight. If good; then they are so many benefits, and divine fa­vours, which by relapse into Sin, are render'd useless, nay most miserably trampled under our feet. What? are so many divine favours, so ma­ny illuminations, good thoughts, and pious mo­tions, which one had received in the Sacrament, slighted and lost by one relapse? No question but they are: How can it then be, but that those cast away and neglected favours should be the cause of the loss of many others, according to that Sentence of our Saviour. Mat. 13.12. He that hath, to him shall be given, and he shall abound: but he that hath not, from him shall be taken away, that also which he hath.

Now if the divine graces and favours be lost and diminished by these ordinary relapses, the third effect, which is the encrease of the strength of our Ghostly enemy, must follow of necessity. For as God is no sooner departed from the Soul, but the Devil presently takes possession of it; so [Page 212]also, according to the measure of his removal, the Devil becomes more powerfull to destroy us. This is a necessary and infallible consequence; and this is the reason, why God pronounced this Dreadfull Sentence, Osea. 9.12. Wo be to them, when I shall depart from them. Well knowing that nothing but miseries and misfortunes could at­tend them, whom he had forsaken. And the greatest of these misfortuues is, that the Devil becomes master of the Soul, and reduces her to such a slavery, as to oblige her to do his will, as St. Paul hath it 2. Tim. 2.26. by whom they are kept captives at his will or beck.

CHAP. IX. That frequent relapse into Sin leads to final Im­penitence, and an evil death, or to dye in Mor­tal Sin.

THis Proposition is the result of all the for­mer, and more immediately follows from the three last; for if this customary return to Sin be the cause of a great number of ill confessions, and deprive us of the fruit of those we had made well: if in the way of Salvation it make a man always fall from bad to worse; it evidently fol­lows, that it leads to the broad way of Impeni­tence; and that it may often come to pass, that those who live in this ordinary relapse, end their lives in mortal Sin.

And I would to God this Proposition were not so absolutely true, as indeed it is; but be­sides the former reasons, behold yet others, which put it out of doubt.

First, because those, who live in these customa­ry relapses intermingled with Confessions, be­lieve themselves to be in a good way, whereas in reality they are far from it. They rely much up­on the confessions, which they make from time to time, and never consider how faulty and de­ficient their relapses make them in the sight of God. Hence it befalls them, what S. Gregory above­cited, cap. 31. speaks of. That performing lamely some good works, which they begin, but do not perfect; they live in a proud presumption, that they shall be saved in the midst of the evils which they commit, and accom­plish, to the full; hence it is, that not at all mis­trusting their wicked state, they dye without re­pentance of their Sins.

Secondly, because being often subject to make false Confessions, they are in great danger lest the last they make be like the former: and that in this last important occasion, they should sup­pose themselves to have true Contrition, when they have but a false one, & what is apparent only, as they had in many precedent Confessions. This happens very easily, especially if at that last time they confess themselves to their accustomed Ghostly father, who hath entertain'd them in their ordinary relapses, and cherished them in their perpetuall impenitences.

Thirdly, by reason that those who live in these relapses, intermixed with admittance to the Sa­craments, become obdurate to all things which might move them, hardened against all the mo­tives which one can offer them, of Fear, of Hope, of the love of God. They are accustomed to hear all these things in their Confessions, and elswhere, This makes them, that they are not moved at all, [Page 214]when such motives are offer'd to them in the most pressing occasions: Because whatsoever is familiar to us, makes no impression upon us. Ab assuetis non fit passio.

In fine, the last reason is, that those who live in this manner have great grounds to fear, that God will forsake them at that last hour, in pu­nishment of their repeated Infidelities, of the A­buses which they have offered to the Sacraments, and divine graces which they have therein received; and also in chastisement of a tacit presumption they have had of themselves, that they were able to raise themselves from sin, whensoe're they pleased.

A presumption however common, yet highly offensive in the sight of God; and so much the more for that it is the cause of all the relapses one falls into after confession. Because they believe they shall always rise again well, as hitherto they have done, therefore they are so far from being affraid to offend again, that hence they take occasion to sin more freely; but it frequently falls out that they find themselves deceived; and that God by a just judgment pu­nisheth them at the hour of their death, by for­saking them and leaving them then to themselves in their greatest need, who before had continu­ally abused his graces; and yet were so rash and confident, as to account themselves secure.

the History of Sampson is very remarkable upon this Subject. God had endowed him with an extraordinary and miraculous strength of body: he employ'd it many times against the Philistines his Enemies, whom he had often overthrown and put to flight; and particularly upon some occa­sions, [Page 215]wherein his Wife, who was of that Nati­on, supposing she had got out of him the secret of his strength, had attempted to deliver him in­to their hands; He had dicomfited them with much ease: and upon this confidence he comes to tell her, that the secret of his Strength lay in his Hair, not believing perhaps that what he said was true. She called his Enemies to fall upon him, and after she had cut off his hair, whilst he was asleep, she delivered him over into their hands. He awakes with the noise, and the Scrip­ture remarks that awakening he said; Egrediar sicut ante feci & excutiam me, Jud. 16.20. I will go out, as I have done, and I will disengage my self as heretofore: but it adds that he was deceived in his hopes; nesciens quod recessisset ab eo Dominus, not knowing, saith the Scripture, that God had a­bandoned him. In consequence whereof, he falls in­to the hands of his Enemies, who pull out his eyes and send him into their Country, where he, who but a while before was a terrour to his Ene­mies, is now become their pastime and the ob­ject of their scorn.

Behold a figure and lively representation of what befalls Christian Souls, who abuse the gra­ces of God, and allways return unto their Sins, in hopes to clear themselves of them, as they have done heretofore; for God many times gives them over to an obdurate heart, and to final im­penitence; whether it be in denying them time to do Penance, or in depriving them of the means and grace to perform it well: since that, as St Au­gustin saith, Altho' he hath promised pardon to peni­tent Sinners, he hath not promised Penance to any one. Qui poenitenti veniam promisit, nulli promisit poeniten­tiam, [Page 216]a truth not to be doubted of, and which deserves to be well considered, to teach men not to presume or conside too much in the divine Mercies, and not render themselves unworthy of them at the hour of death; wherein as he him­self hath said, he will scorn those, who have despi­sed his Counsels, and neglected the admonitions he gave them to return unto him. Because, saith he, I call'd, and you refused, I stretched out my hand and there was none that regarded: You have despised all my Counsels, and slighted my reprehensions. I also will laugh at your destruction; and will scorn when that shall come unto you, which you feared. Prov. 1.24.

CHAP. X. Of the remedies against the relapse into Sin.

I Should not easily make an end, if I should write all which offers it self to be said upon this Subject. But it is time to speak of the re­medies, and after you have seen the greatness of the evil, to shew you the way to cure what's past, and for the future to avoid the like.

We cannot better find them out then by searching for them in the resemblance they bear to Corporal Infirmities, and from the proportion they have to those remedies, which are necessary to avoid relapses, which are oftentimes more dangerous then the first Disease.

And first, as in Corporal Distempers the Re­medies depend upon two Persons, the Physitian, who prescribes them, and the Patient who takes them for his Cure; the same is to be understood [Page 217]of the Infirmities of the Soul, which depend partly upon the Confessors, who are the Physi­tians, and partly upon the Penitent, who must labour to save his Soul. This is what obliges us to speak something here of what both the one and the other are bound to contribute on their part; and to treat in this Chapter of what de­pends upon the Confessors.

Now as in Corporal Sickness the relapses may spring from the Physitians fault; either because he hath not sufficient Skill to know the proper Remedies of that Distemper; or prudence e­nough to apply them in due season; or sufficient resolution and constancy, notwithstanding his resistance or impatience, to make them be put in execution by the Patient: So when Penitents ea­sily relapse into their Sins, one may often truly say, that it proceeds from the Confessor's fault, who is deficient in one of these three things; either not having sufficient knowledge of the na­ture of the disorder, or of the remedies it re­quires; or wanting Prudence to apply them right; or at least (which is most ordinary) not resolution enough to oblige the Penitents there­to when they appear, as but too often they do, un­willing: A resolution, which is an effect of Charity, which they ought to have, towards their Penitents, whose Salvation they should ra­ther seek after, then accommodate themselves to their inclinations, when they are contrary to their good.

It is most certain that were Confessors suffi­ciently endowed with these three qualities, and used them well, as they are obliged to do, they would prevent a vast number of relapses; and [Page 218]put their Penitents into the way of a truly Chri­stian Life.

For first, their Skill giving them a perfect in­sight into the obligation which Christians have to live in the grace of God, and of the danger to which by these relapses their Salvation is ex­posed, they would make a more strict enquiry in­to the most proper means to cure their Penitents of their Vices.

Secondly, their Prudence would make them in­quisitive to understand the present State of the Penitent; in which they ought especially to ob­serve two things. 1. Whether he be in a State ca­pable to receive Absolution; and, 2ly, Whe­ther there be any hopes of his amendment.

Thirdly, by their resolution they should ob­lige the Penitent to perform what they shall judge necessary for these two things, viz. To receive the Sacrament as he ought; and thereby to im­prove himself.

The Confessor then, as a good Physitian of Souls, is obliged to have these three qualities; and to employ them for the good of his Penitent, and the better discharge of his own Conscience.

This good of the Penitent consists in two things. First, that he be restored to health, that is, to the grace of God. Secondly, that he do not relapse into his former Sickness, Mortall Sin. For as St. Augustin observes well in Psal. 8. there are two parts in Physick; the one to cure the Disease; the other to conserve the health.

The Confessor is obliged to procure both these goods for the Penitent, and to employ for that end all what lies in his power, his knowledge, his prudence, and his charitable Resolution. He [Page 219]must not content himself to have restored his Penitent to health; but he must labour also to conserve it; if he design to comply with the du­ty of a worthy Minister of Jesus Christ, and a true Cooperatour with the Grace of God; which as the same St. Augustine adds, ibid. Si ergo Deus medicinam exhibet, quâ sanemur infirmi, quanto ma­gis eam, quâ custodiamur sani, doth not satisfy himself to remit our Sins by justification, but moreover grants the assistance of his Grace to conserve us in that happy state. That he may make him pertaker of the former good, he is ob­liged to examin strictly whether the Penitent be capable of Absolution, and to this end it is ne­cessary to examine two things. The one, whe­ther he have any of the impediments above-men­tioned in the 4th Part, Chap. 10. and the other whether it be usuall for him to return to his mor­tal Sins after confession. For in this case, there is no reason why you should easily believe the Penitent, tho' he tells you that he is truly sorry that he hath offended God, and promises to a­mend: He often indeed speaks these words, but they come not from his heart. Or if they proceed from a sense of his Sins, it is but lightly, and by way of habit, without having seriously thought of his amendment. He believes he hath contriti­on, but hath it not. This is what happens fre­quently, and then the Confessor cannot give ab­solution, without putting himself in danger to commit a Secrilege. He ought to defer it, and give time to his Penitent, to think as he ought, of his amendment, and render, himself a subject worthy of Absolution.

This procedure surprises the Penitents, when [Page 220]they find the Confessors treat them, as they are obliged to do; but these are in name only and not Penitents in effect; who believe that Con­fession consists only in a declaration of their Sins, and that when once they have declared them, they have a right to receive Absolution, and to oblige the Confessor to it. They will be believed upon their single word, when they say they are truly sorry for their Sins, and that they will not commit them any more for the future: although in their former Confessions they have always said the same, and without effect.

These Penitents most grossly deceive them­selves: For they will judge their judges, and teach their Physitians. It belongs to the Confes­sor to judg of the state of the Penitent, and see whether he be sufficiently disposed to receive ab­solution, and whether or no he can securely give it. This care is his duty, as being oliged to give an account of this his function in the pre­sence of Almighty God. It is the Bloud of the Son of God, which he applys in the Sacrament; and God will require an exact and rigourous account of him, if he did distribute it to those that are unworthy of it.

Now judge Theotime, whether the Penitent be not very unreasonable, who would oblige his Confessor to give him Absolution, when he the Confessor either doth not find him at all duly dis­posed, or hath good grounds to doubt whether he be worthy of it. Is not this to go about to damn himself and his Confessor too?

But if the Penitent be blamable in this occasi­on; the Confessor is much more in fault, when he yields so easily to the importunities of his Pe­nitent, [Page 221]as to give him a doubtfull absolution; and which may be rather hurtfull then profitable to him. He ought to remember, that there are some cruel mercies, hurtfull both to those to whom they are shewn, and to those, who shew them; and that the good Physitian doth not desist from applying his remedies, when he judges them necessary, notwithstanding all the opposi­tion his Patient makes. He lets him cry out and complain, being assured that what he does is ne­cessary for the Patient; who when he shall have recovered his health will not only be well con­tented to have suffered, but also acknowledge the kindness his Physitian did him.

Saint Augustin says excellently well upon this Subject, Epist. ad Vincent. He is not always a Friend, who spares or is favourable to us; nor he always an Enemy, who chastizeth; the Physitian, who com­mands a Lunatick to be bound, and awakes one in a Lethargy, is troublesome to them both; but it is be­cause he loves them, and by tormenting them he cures them. The one and the other, as long as they are sick, are angry with him; but as soon as they are cured, they hold themselves much obliged to him for that he did not spare them. Ambobus molestus, ambos amat, ambos sanat. Ambo quamdiu aegri sunt indignantur. sed ambo sani gratulantur.

It is true, that a Confessor ought so to employ his Resolution, as not to forget his sweet and ob­liging mildness, but, that he ought, as much as possible, to make the Penitent approve of what he ordains, sweetening all things by the testi­mony of his affection; and convincing him, that what he advises is to acquit himself of his obliga­tion, and for the Salvation of his Soul. This is [Page 222]the Oyle of the Gospel, Luc. 34. which he must employ with the Wine, when he dresses the wounds of others Consciences, endeavouring by Charity to sweeten the sharpest remedies which he is obliged to use therein.

Behold here the first good, which the Con­fessor ought to have in view, viz. to secure the Sacrament, and to restore the Penitent to the grace of God. But yet there is a second which he is obliged also, as far as he is able, to procure, viz. the amendment of the Penitent. The Cure is good for nothing, which is followed by a Re­lapse, and the Physitian who is not concerned to prevent it, complies but with half his duty; and becomes himself guilty of the harm into which the sick man falls again, and even of death it self if it befall him.

This is the reason why the Confessor is obli­ged not only to advertise the Penitent not to re­turn to his Sins; but also to shew him the means how to avoid them, and to engage him to put them in execution.

These means are Penance, Prayer, satisfacto­ry Works, as Fasting, Alms-deeds, Mortificati­on, and others which we have handled above in the Fourth Part, and whereof we shall yet speak in the following Chapter.

To which may be added certain conditional Penances, that is some painfull things to be per­formed, or suffered by the Penitent in case he return again unto his Sins; and as often, as he shall relapse therein: as to Fast, to give Alms, or some other painfull work for each relapse. The apprehensions of these sort of Punishments serve frequently, as a Bridle to with-hold the [Page 223]Penitents, when they are tempted to offend God. And lastly, the deferring of Absolution, when the Penitent doth not at all correct him­self, is frequently a very good remedy to make him amend his Life. This makes the Penitent think seriously of amendment, and labour to re­form his Vices, which make him unworthy of so great a good, and punctually to comply with all that he the Confessor shall ordain him, to the end he may be worthy.

This means ought to be applied with much Prudence; and especially it behoveth the Con­fessor to make a vast distinction between Peni­tents, who relapse into their Sins through frail­ty; and those who return through malice, that is to say, either on set purpose, or through an affected negligence.

He will know the former, when he shall find, that they are extreamly troubled to see them­selves subject to those relapses: that they use all their endeavours to abstain from Sin: that they practice what means their Confessor appoints them. And towards these he must use a far greater sweetness, support their weakness, Ab­solve them more easily, seeing they continue to labour on their part to amend their Lives.

The latter are those, who not only continue in their wickedness; but do either nothing at all, or very little to refrain from their Sins. And towards these one must use more severity: And as they allways promise to endeavour their a­mendment, without doing almost any thing, it is often not only profitable, but necessary to de­ser their Absolution, untill such time as they have given sufficient signs of their Conversion by ab­staining [Page 224]from their Sins, and practising faith­fully what is appointed them for that end.

CHAP. XI. Of the means which Penitents ought to observe to avoid the relapse into Sin.

COntinuing the comparison of a Penitent with a sick person, I affirm, that there are four things which the Penitent ought to observe that he may not relapse in mortal Sin.

The first is, that he understand perfectly the greatness of his evil, and the eminent danger to which he exposes his Salvation: For the Sick man who hath no apprehension of the ill consequences of his disease shall never be cured: and there­fore he must be fully convinc'd of two things: first, that to fall into mortal Sin, of all misfor­tunes is the greatest. Secondly, that the relapse into sin exposes the eternall salvation to an ex­tream hazard; and that one finds himself sur­priz'd, when he least thinks of it.

The next thing he ought to do in consequence to this knowlege, is to avoid all those things which have been the causes of this misfortune, or which may make it return. This is an indispensable obligation; this is also the first mark of a Peni­tent Soul and desirous to recover her former health. We laugh at a sick man, that will not abstain from such meats, or actions, as are ap­prehended prejudiciall to him: we say, that he loves his pleasures more then his health, and that he is his own murderer. The like is to be said [Page 225]of a Penitent, when he doth the same. Prov. 1.22. How long will Fools desire, what is hurtfull to them?

The third is, the choice of a good Physitian: that is, he must always address himself to the best Confessors, to those whom he believes en­dowed with the three above-mentioned quali­ties: and above all to those who are not in the least neglective of the recovery of their Peni­tents, but apply themselves seriously and with much care to that effect. The Penitent who de­sires his health, must seek out such Physitians. If he do not it is an infallible proof that he doth not desire to amend. He is afraid lest the Confessor should make him sensible of his misery, and put a stop to the disorders of his Conscience: a cer­tain sign that he is not willing to be cured. Do not you do thus Theotime, remember that excellent sentence of St. Augustin, Non timet reprehensorem, qui veritatem amat; He that loves truth, that is his Salvation, is not afraid of a monitor, or to have his defects laid open before his Eyes.

The 4th is, faithfully to apply the remedies, which are necessary to cure the Soul & preserve it from Sin: whether they be those, which the Physi­tian prescribes, or those which by other ways one comes to know. None doubts but that this way is absolutely necessary: yet few practise it so ea­sily, as they believe it. Many Penitents there are, who could wish to amend their lives, but would do it at their ease without pain or trouble. The sight of the remedies is a trouble to them; and when they should put them in execution, their heart fails them, and they will do nothing at all. Is not this to desire an impossible thing, to seek the end without the means to obtain it, the cure [Page 226]without the remedies, and Salvation without trouble? This is to act like the slothfull man who will and yet will not: Prov. 13.4. This is a faint and imperfect wish to be deliver'd from their e­vils, but in reality it is an effectual desire to con­tinue in them, and never to be cured.

You will do otherwise, Theotime, if you are truly Penitent, and desirous of your Salvation. You will with much care seek after the remedies against your Sins, and apply them with no less exactness. Behold here some few.

The First is, that you have a special care to conserve in your Soul the Spirit of Penance, which you were made partaker of in your Con­fession, viz. an Hatred of Sin, a Sorrow to have Committed it, and a Resolution to offend no more. Now to conserve this spirit it is necessary you renew these acts every day: which may easi­ly be done.

The Second is to perform with this Spirit the works of Penance, as well those that are en­joyned in the Sacrament, as others which you im­pose upon your self. These works as the Council of. Trent declares, conduce very much to divert and deter us from our Sins.

The Third remedy is Prayer, For as all our strength is from God, it is but just we make our addresses to him, that he will vouchsafe to assist us powerfully with his grace. This is a means absolutely necessary, without which it is impos­sible to cure the distempers of the Soul. Ask, saith our Lord, Luc. 11.9. and you shall receive, which is as much as to say, what you do not demand, you shall not receive at all. But as this means is necessary, so also it is most powerfull, and never [Page 227]fails of its effect: According to that Sentence of the wise man, Eccle. 2.11. No one hath ever hoped in God, who hath been Confounded, or fru­strated of his desires. But this Prayer must be frequent, and serverous, as we have need every day, so also we must always pray. Luc. 18. And as we beseech him to vouchsafe his mercies that we may be sav'd; so it is but just that we de­mand them with a great and ardent desire, to the end we may be worthy of them.

The Fourth remedy is frequent Confession. This also is a necessary means, without which it is morally impossible to be freed from a vicious ha­bit, when once one is engaged therein. It is a Sacrament which remits sins past; which gives grace to avoid them for the future: There one renews his sorrow for having offended God, and his resolution thence-forward to be faithfull to him; one there receives advices, and means to that effect; one is thereby reduced into the path, who had lost his way, encouraged when he is re­miss, and fortified against the difficulties which occur. They who neglect this means, will never be freed from their habitual Sins; but those who thirst after their Salvation will embrace it with much affection. It is very convenient we make them often, and ordinarily speaking to the same select Confessor, and who is endowed with the qualities above-mention'd.

The holy Communion is also a very efficaci­ous remedy against relapses. It gives strength a­gainst temptations: It weakens our ill habits: it makes us avoid many venial Sins, which lead and dispose to mortal. But this is to be understood, when the Communion is performed with all ne­cessary [Page 228]dispositions; and it produceth all these effects proportionably to the greater or less de­votion with which we approach that holy Ta­ble. Be very diligent and carefull, Theotime, in the use and application of this divine remedy; and to that end reade that which hereafter we shall say of it.

The reading also of good Books is a most pow­erfull means to conserve and keep us in the straight path of virtue. We treated of this in the Instruction of Youth. 2d. Part. Chap. 16. which I exhort you to read once more upon this occasion.

All these are general remedies and common to all sort of Sins. There are others more particu­lar against each Sin considered in its kind, which it would be too long to declare in this place; as also it would be useless, since we have treated of them elsewhere: as for example, the remedies a­gainst idleness in the 3d. Part. Chap. 7, and a­gainst impurity in the 8th and 9th Chap. and in all the 4th. Part. Where we have treated of Chri­stian virtues, and the means to resist contrary vices.

A Table of SINS, Or, An Examen of Conscience upon the Command­ments of God's Law, and of the Church; and upon the Seven Deadly Sins.

Sin being a transgression against the law of God, it follows, that to understand well in what one hath sinn'd, he must know first what it is that God Commands, & what that he forbids; and to examin his Conscience rightly, it is necessary he run over the Commandments of God, as they stand in order, and see whether and how many ways he hath transgress'd them; for we offend God diverse ways.

This is the reason why I shall digest here the ten Commandments of Gods Law, with all the sins that may be committed against each one of them, that thence you may take what may con­cern you. And for the greater facility, I have for my diversion drawn up into Latin verse the se­veral obligations, which each Commandment imports, with the transgressions opposed against them. I offer them to those, who understand, and like them; others may benefit themselves by the following explication.

The EXAMEN upon the First Commandment.

I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt have no other Gods before me.

Exod. 20.

THis Commandment includes the obligati­ons of many virtues. viz. of Faith, of Hope, of Charity, of Religion, and of the care of our Salvation. It obligeth us to believe in God, to hope in him, to love him above all things, give him the worship and honour due to him, and to seek after the Salvation of our Soul, which he hath created to his own image and likeness, to enjoy him for all eternity. All these things are comprized in these three verses.

Credere prima homines, sperare, & amare, Deum (que)
Condigno cultu venerari, orare, Animae (que)
Aeternam curare jubent mandata salutem.

Opposite to these are first, the Sins against Faith; whereof some totally destroy it; others offend against it in a high degree.

Ist a fidem sanctam laedunt, perimunt (que) nefanda.
1. Ignorare fidem: 2. dubiis aperire vagantem,
Incertum (que) animum. 3. graviter qui his fixus adhaeret,
Ille fidem violat. 4. gravius, qui mente superba
Eligit ipse sibi quod credat vel neget. 5. inde
Omnia blasphemo qui pernegat impius ore
[Page 231]
Sancta, nil credens nisi quod tangit (que) videt (que)
6. Qui favet his: vel facta probat: 7. consortia quaerit.
8. Dicta libros (que) legens avido bibit ore venena.
9. Alta Dei nimio scrutans temerarius ausu.
Quae penetrare nefas homini mysteria. 10. ridens
Sacratos ritus. 11. divina (que) verba retorquens
Ad pravos sensus, miscens & sacra profanis.
12. Qui (que) futurorum vult nosce recondita: servat
Quae Deus ipse sibi: vel facta obscura requirit
Artibus illicitis, observans somnia, vel quae
Caeca superstitio Cacodaemonis arte maligna
Reperit, ut noceat, prosit ve, aut clausa recludat.

1. The first sin against Faith is that of Igno­rance; when one is ignorant of what he is ob­liged to know.

To be ignorant of the four principall My­steries without the express belief whereof we cannot be saved. viz. the Unity of one God, the Trinity of Persons, the Incarnation of the Se­cond Person for the Redemption of mankind, and life everlasting.

To be ignorant of the Apostles Creed: or not to know the sense and meaning of it, as far as ones capacity, and the means he hath to be in­structed will permit.

To be ignorant of the Sacraments, and parti­cularly of those which one either hath, or ought to receive.

Not to know the Comandments of God, and the Church.

All these ignorances ordinarily speaking are mortal Sins: wherefore one ought carefully to examin himself, and reflect well whether he hath sought the means to be instructed, as Catechisms, [Page 232]Sermons, reading and the like.

2. The Second Sin against Faith is, a doubt of the truth of any of the points of Faith. It hap­pens sometimes against our will, and then it is either none, or at least not a Mortall Sin, but perhaps some venial negligence.

But if it be voluntary, it is a Mortall Sin, and this in two cases. 1st. When one either seeks it, or willingly gives some occasion of it; as by read­ing ill Books, by discoursing too freely concern­ing matters of faith: by examining them with too much curiosity: by giving himself too much liberty to judg of them according to humane rea­son. 2ly. This doubt is voluntary, when one willingly detains himself in it, and gives his con­sent unto it.

3. The Third is the Sin of Error, that is when from a doubt one proceeds to affirm, and posi­tively believe something contrary to the receiv'd Doctrine of the Church, altho' it be but in one single article: and such a belief is always a mor­tal Sin: and if one maintain it obstinately with­out submitting himself to the Church it is Here­sy, whereof we are going about to speak.

4. The Fourth Sin is Heresy. That is an error in any point of faith; maintain'd with obstina­cy; wherein one follows his own judgment in opposition to that of the Church; and chooseth in points of Religion the things, which he is wil­ling to believe or to deny, whence it is called He­resy, that is to say, a choice.

5. The Fifth is Impiety, which is different from heresy in this, that Heresy will believe some truths, but not all. But Impiety denys all, and believes nothing.

You ought, Theotime, to examin your self very strictly, whether you have fallen into any of these Sins; and if you have, perform yet some more strict and severer Penance. But above all commu­nicate your thoughts, with some learned and Pi­ous person; who may restore you to your self, and put you in the right way.

6. The sixth Sin against Faith, is to favour He­reticks, or Impious men, as in supporting and approving what they do.

7. The Seventh is to be pleased with their Company and discourse: to continue therein with danger of embracing their opinions.

8. The Eighth is to read their Books, whether with pleasure or danger.

9. The Ninth is the Sin of Curiosity, to exa­min the Misteries of Faith, or the Secrets of di­vine Providence, by pure humane reason, which leads ordinarily either to errour, or Impiety.

10. The Tenth is to scoff at holy things, the ceremonies of the Church; to contemn them in his heart, or by any action whatsoever.

11. The Eleventh to abuse the words of the holy Scripture, in applying them to wicked or prophane senses, making them serve for jests, or other ill uses.

12. The Twelfth is, to desire to know such things to come, as appertain to God alone, or those which are either past or present, but totally hidden from us: and for this end to employ un­lawfull means, as Soothsayers, Magicians, For­tune-tellers, observe Omens, cast Lotts, or make use of other Superstitious Inventions.

13. The thirteenth is, to give credit to Dreams and Superstitions, to employ Prayers [Page 234]or Sacred Names to ill uses; to use Charms, or other Inventions to the end to make ones self beloved, to cure Diseases, or to give a Spell whether to Men, or Beasts. All these are Mortal Sins; even when the means seem innocent, as Prayers, or Sacred words; if one believe they will certainly take effect: For then, as St. Augustin saith, De medi­cin. animae contra sortileg. These are not remedies gi­ven us by Jesus Christ, but rather Poyson, which the Devil hath spread amongst holy things. Non est in eis remedium Christi, sed venenum Diaboli.

Sins against Hope.
Anchora quae nostrae stat pes bene fida salutis
Motibus his quatitur, dum Desperatio mentem
Dejicit: aut falsas addit Praesumptio vires.
I. 1. Hinc & qui, scelerum furiis agitantibus, omnem
Desperat veniam: 2. vel ab his cessare, modum (que)
Ponere posse negans, vitiis dimittit habenas,
Divinae contemptor opis, spem laedit. Et ille
II. 1. Qui male confisus sperat placabile numen,
Dum nova praeteritis adjungens crimina, 2. mores
Mutare extremae differt in tempora vitae.
3. Qui (que) Deum tentans, levis imprudens (que) periclis
4. Corporis aut animae sese objicit: 5. auxilii (que)
Non poscit coelestis opem, praesentia cingunt
Dum mala: 6. praesidiis spernit melioribus uti,
Quae Deus ad nostram voluit conferre salutem.
7. Rebus in adversis qui frangitur; at (que) superbis
Vocibus impatiens, homines (que) Deumque fatigat.

Hope is a Theological Virtue, whereby we expect from the hand of God Eternal Salvation and the [Page 235]means, whereby we may obtain it.

Two Sins there are diametrically opposit, both contrary to this Virtue. The one is hoping too little; the other, confiding too much; the first is called Despair, the other Presumption.

I. One sins by Despair.

1. When one distrusts in the mercies of God, or despairs to be ever able to obtain of God the remission of his Sins, as it happened to Cain.

2. When one despairs of amending ones Life, and in this Despair abandons himself to all wic­kedness; which is a mistrust or contempt of the grace of God. This Sin is but too common.

II. One sins by Presumption.

1. When one hopes that God will allways for­give his Sins, whatsoever life he leads: and li­ving in this hope he doth not at all concern him­self to mend his Life.

2. When one defers his conversion 'till the end of his life, or puts off his Repentance 'till the honr of Death.

3. When one willingly exposes himself to any danger of offending God; as to Company, Reading, or any other thing by which he runs the hazard to offend. This is what we call to tempt God.

4. When without necessity one exposes him­self to some Corporal danger, as Sickness, Wounds, or Death.

5. When in these so remarkable dangers of Body or Soul, one neglects his application and recourse to God by Prayer to implore his assi­stance.

6. When in these same dangers one neglects the remedies, which God hath instituted and ap­pointed [Page 236]as those of Physick for the Body; and those of Prayer and Sacraments for the Soul.

One sins also against this Virtue in adversities, when he is discouraged to that degree that he puts not his trust in God; and more still, when one is impatient, or murmures against his Pro­vidence in Adversity, or is exalted in his own thoughts in time of Prosperity, attributing the good success or Honour to himself.

The Sins against Charity.

CHarity is a Theological Virtue, which makes us to love God above all things; whence it follows, that every Mortal Sin is directly oppo­site to it & totally destroys it; Because the Sinner, in every such Sin prefers the affection he bears to the thing wherein he offends before the love and bounden duty he owes to God, who forbids the Sin. However there are some Sins more particu­larly opposed to this great Virtue, whereof be­hold some examples.

Caelestem nullum non laedit crimen amorem,
Quod male divinum humano postponit amori.
Praecipuè tamen his virtutum maxima damnis
Impetitur 1. Summae si quis bonitatis amarum,
Infandumque furens, scelerata forte recepit
Mente odium: execrans, blasphemans sancta, Deique
Dextram indignatus ferientem, aut Judicis aequi
Iram exhorrescens, infensum quem timet, odit.
2. Praeterea ille nocens, sanctum qui numen amore
Diligit exiguo: bona nec super omnia summum
Prosequitur, redamatque bonum: peccare paratus
[Page 237]
Ʋt serventur opes, vel honos, aut vita: caducis
Postponens aeterna bonis. 3. Hominum quoque amorem
Posthabito quaesisse Deo, quem non piget: & qui
Esse suo gratus Domino nil curat: at omnem
Stultis ut placeat curam admovet, atque laborem.
4. Quem pudor, aut vani revocat formido pericli,
Ne cupiat bona, vel faciat, quae conscius ipse
Sancta jubere sibi novit mandata; malumque
Quod prohibent patrat, humano compulsus amore.
5. Inque Deum raro conversus, segnius illum
Cogitat, aut loquitur: tacito & sub corde monentem
Non andit. Benefacta sui nec mente revolvens
Auctoris, dignas contemnit reddere grates.

The greatest sin against Charity is the hatred of God. This is a Sin the very thought whereof causes an horrour in the Soul, and it is proper to the Devils and damned Souls. Yet however, sometimes it is found amongst men, when a wick­ed Conscience oppress'd with misfortunes gives it self over to complaints against God, as if he were the cause of them: to execrations, to Blas­phemys, and in fine to hate him whom he believes to be the cause of his miseries, or from whom he fears the punishment of his crimes.

2. The second is, not to bear God the love, which he requires at our hands, that is, the love above all things, as he is the greatest and most amiable of all goods. This happens when one is so disposed in mind, that he will rather choose willfully to offend God, then loose either some Honour, Riches, or life it self, if it were neces­sary. This Sin is but too common, and one does not take notice of it.

3. The third is, to prefer the love of men [Page 238]before the love of God, to be more fearfull of their displeasure; then of the offence of God; which he is, who offends God for fear of displea­sing men, or for fear lest he be jeer'd, or slight­ed, and yet more when one offends God to please men. Examin your Conscience well, whether you are free from all these things.

4. The fourth is, to abstain either for shame, or some other temporal respect, from doing the good, which is commanded us, or committing the evill, which is forbidden us.

5. The fifth is, to think seldom of God; to be ashamed to speak of him, as frequently it falls out: not to hearken to his Inspirations: to for­get his benefits; to neglect to give him thanks. Examin your self upon every one of these par­ticulars one after another; for you will find that you have sinned oftener, & more greivously, then you imagin.

The Sins against the Virtue of Religion.

IT is a virtue, which teaches us to render to God the Worship and Honour, which is his due, and which consists principally in three things. Adoration, Prayer, and Sacrifice.

By Adoration we acknowledge him for the first and Soveraign Author of all things, and of us our selves.

By Prayer we testify the necessity, we have of him.

And by Sacrifice we acknowledge this Sove­raign dominion, which he hath over all creatures, and our absolute dependence. Now there are [Page 239]many sins against these three actions, which we shall relate in order in the following verses.

Ʋna Deo dignos venerans quae reddit honores
Religio, variis temeratur sancta nefandis.
1 Ante Deum si quis, (caeli quem numina adorant,)
Rarus adorator prosternitur: 2. atque superbam
Corpore prostratus mentem non subiicit, 3. 4. orans,
5. Auxiliumque petens supremo a numine supplex.
6. Nec levius peccat, veritus qui nec loca sancta,
Actibus, alloquiis, aspectibus omnia complet
Illicitis. 7. Et dum peragit reverenda Sacerdos
Sancta, queis venerans adstat caelum omne tremensque
Pascit inanem animum nugis, quem pascere sacro
Caelestique epulo potuit miser: heu quibus ille
Fraudatur donis! Quae tandem accepta dolebit
Damna? 8. Sed ô immane nefas, nullisque piandum
Ignibus, oblectat sacro si tempore mentem
Flagitiis; & faeda Deo praesente volutat.
9. Aut sanctum immundo recipit si pectore panem.
10. Vel sacra commaculat, crimen quibus omne piatur.

1. The first, is not to adore God, or but sel­dome. This Sin is greater then one thinks, and deserves to be particularly examined.

2. The second is, not to adore him right, that is to worship him with the body, and not with the heart, which is indeed no adoration at all: for adoration is an acknowledgment which we make of the greatness of God, and of our depend­ance on him.

3. The third is, either not at all, or very sel­dom to pray. This omission, when frequent, may be a mortall Sin; because of the command we have to pray, and of the necessity we have of Prayer.

4. The fourth is, to pray without attention, praying with our lips, and almost nothing with the heart: which is as much as not to pray at all.

5. In praying tho' from ones heart; to beg rather temporall advantages, then the Salvati­on of his Soul: to be solicitous to pray for health, for the goods of the world; and almost never to emplore the graces necessary for our Salvation.

6. To be wanting in our respect to God; in the time of prayer; or to talk and discourse in holy places; and not behave ones self there with due modesty and gravity, either in looks, words, or other actions.

7. These are greater faults, when they are committed during the holy Sacrifice of the Masse, and where the Angells attend trembling, and with low respect: and that which makes them so, is the contempt which is shew to God by these irreverences; and the great loss we suffer of the severall graces we might there receive, did we but pray with the attention, and devotion, which is fit. This deserves to be well examined, for we often fall into these faults.

8. But 'tis a far greater sin, when during the holy Sacrifice one employs his mind in evil thoughts, either of impurity, or revenge, or of other crimes.

The 9th. is to Communicate in the state of mortal Sin.

The 10th. To make an ill Confession, either not having all the conditions which it requires, or concealing some mortall Sin.

One might reduce wicked Oaths, and the breaking of Vows to the Sin against the virtue of Religion; but this will come more properly [Page 241]the Second Commandment.

They who have Benefices may examen them­selves in this place in what concerns the obliga­tions of their State.

Whether they have omitted to say their Of­fice, and how often, having no lawfull impedi­ment.

Whether they have performed it with the at­tention or devotion which is necessary: or ra­ther with extreme negligence; as it very often happens.

Whether they have neglected or refused to wear the Eclesiasticall habit; whether they have cloathed themselves like Lay-men, in habit, colours, or dress.

Whether they have been immodest in their comportment, and negligent in giving good ex­ample.

Whether they have misapplyed the income of their Benefices; as in play, in good cheer, or other idle and unnecessary expences.

Whether thay have omitted to give the alms, they are obliged to give, out of what remains of their Ecclesiasticall revennes after they have al­lowed themselves a just and moderate main­tenance.

Whether they retain their benefice without any design of becoming Church-men.

The Sins against the care one ought to have of his Salvation.

THe same Commandment, which ordains that we shall love God above all things, ob­liges [Page 242]us also to love our selves for Gods sake; and to render our selves worthy of his grace, and of the end for which he hath created us; which is the enjoyment of himself.

The Sin contrary to this obligation, is that which we call idleness, indevotion, and the neg­lect of our Salvation, or in one word Sloth, which the Grecians, and after them the Latins more properly name acedia, that is a wretched negligence, or want of care. This Sin hath ma­ny degrees expressed in the following verses.

1. Otia lenta piger sequitur, refugitque laborem
Cui lex aequa Dei nunquam revocabilis omnes
Addixit, 2. foedae (que) petens solatia carni
Partis divinae spernit curare salutem.
3. Hinc pulchrae virtutis opus fastidit, & odit.
4. Hinc mores mutare malos procrastinat: aut si
Corrigere aggreditur, coeptum mox deserit. 5. Inde
Sacramenta Dei, quaeque ille salubria laesae
Esse animae voluit, lachrymas, pia vota, precesque
Abiicit: aut tepidis haec reddit inania coeptis.
6. Desperansque modum perversae imponere vitae,
Aut male praesumens veniam, ruit in mala praeceps:
Et nova praeteritis addens peccata, tremendam
Se super accumulat divini numinis iram.

The first Sin is the love of idleness, which makes one fly from labour, and chuse rather to continue doing nothing, then employ himself in any lawfull and commendable exercise, which is a Sin that never comes alone, but carries after it a large train of many others. And in this point it is necessary to examen ones self seriously and distinctly.

The 2d. is to be more carefull and Solicitous to labour in the concerns of our bodies or tem­porall advantages, then for the Salvation of our Souls. It is a very Common Sin, of which however one seldome or never examens himself. Consider then, whether you have not often totally neg­lected and abandoned the care of your Soul, be­ing so far from taking any care to labour in this great concern, as that you have not admitted even of a thought thereof. How long time have you past in this negligence?

The 3d. is to slight in his heart piety and good works, having a distast or an aversion for them; as it happens but too often to those, who con­tinue in the negligence we have just now spoke of.

The 4th. is to defer from day to day and from time to time the amendment of ones life; or im­mediately to desist after one has begun it.

The 5th. is to forsake those means, which God hath vouchsaf't us for our amendment: Such as are the Sacraments, Penance, Prayer, good works. Or else to perform indeed these duties, but so ill, and with so little devotion, that they do one no good. Thus you must here examen your self, whether, when you were conscious to your self that you were in danger to commit some mortall Sin, you have employed these means, to the end you might avoid it.

The 6th. is when either despairing ever to be able to amend, or presuming that God will par­don us at the last hour, we give our selves over totally to vice without ever concerning our selves at all to amend our lives. Which is pro­perly what St. Paul calls Rom. 2.5. to heap up a [Page 244]treasure of the Wrath of God, against our selves: All these Sins deserve to be well examined.

The EXAMEN upon the Second Commandment.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

THere are four sorts of Sins which are forbid­den in this Commandment, or which may have relation to it, viz. an unlawfull Oath, Blas­phemy, Cursing, the Sins against Vows, which the following verses will explain.

Terribile & sanctum nomen violare secunda
Lex prohibet, tantoque reum se crimine reddit
I. In vanum jurans, falsi testem, vel iniqui
Qui vocat ore Deum: nulla aut ratione coactus.
II. In caelum erectus numen blasphemat, eique
Nomina sancta adimens male sanus, veraque falsis
Commutans, Sanctum scelerata voce lacessit
III. Tum furiis ipsum se devovet, atque precatur
Dira sibi (horrendum dictu?) sociisque, Deoque.
IV. Stultaque vota vovens, 1. quae vel praestare nequibit,
2. Aut non sunt placitura Deo. 3. Qui vota, fidemque
Rite datam revocat levis, 4. aut dissolvere differt.

To form a right judgment of this Command­ment; You must observe, that we do not here take this word Oath as it is vulgarly understood: [Page 245]for so Blasphemy as well as Cursing is called an Oath; but we take it precisely and properly for the use which is made of the name of God, to af­firm or deny a thing: such an use of its own na­ture is not bad: but on the contrary it is an act of Religion, when it is accompanied with the three circumstances, which holy writ, Heirem. 4.2. requires an Oath should have Truth, Justice, and Necessity. Hence the Commandment doth not at all forbid to Swear; but to Swear in vain, that is without these three conditions.

Wherefore the first Sin against this Command­ment is the taking a wicked Oath, that is,

  • 1. When one Swears an untruth, which one knows to be so.
  • 2. When one Swears an unjust thing to the prejudice of our neighbour.
  • 3. When one Swears without any necessity, al­tho' the thing be both true and just.

Now there is no necessity of an oath, except the thing for which one swears be of great im­portance.

One Sins moreover by an evil Oath, when one either Swears to do what he never designs to do; or when one swears to do an evill thing; in which case, the Oath doth not at all oblige; but it was a mortall Sin to Swear, and it would be another to fulfill his Oath.

These kind of Oaths are Sworn, when one says that he takes God to witness of a thing; or that he Swears upon his Salvation, upon the damna­tion of his Soul, by the oath he owes to God, that he may perish in that instant, or such like. Where­in it is necessary that they examen themselves particularly well, who are accustomed to Swear, [Page 246]and declare the number of these sins, as near as they can.

The 2. Sin is that of Blasphemy, that is to re­vile and villify Almighty God; whether it be by denying him some perfection which is proper to him, as in saying that he is not Just, Good, Wise, &c. or in attributing to him, something unwor­thy of him; as to say that he is the author of e­vill, or the like. Renouncing him either by word, or thought,: Cursing him; which never hap­pens but to such Souls as are transported with rage and fury, as in losses, in Gaming, or upon occasion of such other Crosses.

It is also a kind of Blasphemy, to swear by the name of God, by his Death, by his Blood; as often as all or any of these things shall be spo­ken in anger, or thro' contempt, and reproach, and always in abusing Gods holy name, and the adorable Misteries of our Redemption.

Those who are subject to these Sins ought strictly to examen themselves in all these points.

The 3. Sin is Cursing, that is when to affirm a thing, either mov'd by anger against any one, or thro' impatience of his crosses and contradi­ctions, one flyes out into a passion so far as to wish harm to himself or others; as death or some misfortune: to wish at the Devil, or the like. Which choler but too often suggests to those, who do not curb their passions.

The 4. concerns the abuse of Vows; which are promises one makes to God. This abuse is of­fered many ways.

  • 1. In making a vow to do that which is im­possible for him to fulfill.
  • 2. In vowing to do that which is evill and [Page 247]displeasing to Almighty God.
  • 3. In breaking vows which one has made.
  • 4. In deferring too long to fulfill them, with­out any lawfull cause of that delay.

The EXAMEN upon the Third Commandment.
Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath Day.

THat we may rightly understand the obliga­tions of this Commandment, it is necessary that we know the intention with which it was given, which was that we might Honour God upon that day; which for this end he hath reser­ved to himself. Wherefore he forbids us servile works, which might divert or hinder us from applying our selves unto him. Whence it follows that this Commandment does not only oblige us to abstain from these sort of actions, but also to honour God by good and profitable works. We shall set them forth in the following verses.

Sanctificare diem post sex qui septimus orbes
Volvitur, & sanctam menti indulgere quietem;
Auctorem ut proprium agnoscat veneretur, ametque
Tertia lex jubet, a primis jam lata diebus.
1. Hinc procul esse jubet manuum, quo vita paratur,
Omne opus: 2. humanis animumque avertere curis,
3. Ʋt sancto vacet obsequio; propriaeque saluti.
4. Abstergatque dolens incauto quas sibi sordes
[Page 248]
Aspersit vesanus amor mundique suique:
Inde sacri quaerens caelestia pabula verbi
Mentem avidam pascat, sanctoque incendat amore.
5. Quam male, proh dolor! haec servat mandata, diebus
Qui sacris ludos, epulas & vana secutus
Gaudia, criminibus foedat pia tempora: festum
Non mentis sed carnis agens, male sanus Averno
Consecrat, omnipotens sibi quos sacravit honores.

1. The first Sin against this Commandment is to do on the Sunday any servile works, that is to say handy-works, which have some temporall gain for their end. Consider whether you have done any, or whether you were the cause that others did, either by making them labour in your service, or for your divertisement, without a con­siderable necessity.

2. It is also a sin against this Command­ment to be employed any considerable time upon holy-days in labouring about temporall affairs: as Merchants, Advocates, Solicitors, and other Officers of Justice do, who spend one part of the Sunday in business, and the other in recreation.

3. Is the Sin of omission, as not to employ ones selfon these holy-days in pious exercises; and especially not to hear Mass as the Church ex­pressly Commands, under pain of Mortall sin, or not to hear it well, but without attention or reverence. For altho' in this case one complys with the precepts of the Church, yet he doth not satisfy that of God, who commands us to per­form well and piously all holy duties.

4. Those cannot easily be exempt from Sin, who on these holy-days, neither think at all of God, nor their Salvation, who are neither pre­sent [Page 249]at divine service nor at Sermons; but espe­cially those who make a custome and an habit of it: for this is to neglect the Sanctification of the Sunday, and the end for which it was ordain­ed; which cannot be done without a great Sin.

5. The greatest and most greivous profanati­on of the Sunday and festivall-days is committed by those, who spend these holy-days in idleness, in gaming, in dances, in feasting, and other recreations, which instead of sanctifying the feasts, are a dishonour to them; and by this means God, who ought on those days to be more particularly honoured, is much offended. These profanations of Sundays and holy-days are very common and yet great Sins. And therefore eve­ry one is to examin himself strictly in this point.

The EXAMEN upon the Fourth Commandment.
Honour thy Father and thy Mother.

THis Commandment regulates the duty of Children towards their Father and Mother, and by consequence, or according to a necessary proportion, that of other inferiours towards their Superiours. viz.

Of Schollars towards those that teach them.

Of Servants towards their Masters.

Of Subjects towards their Princes and Magi­strates.

Of all the Faithfull towards their Ecclesiasti­cal Prelates.

And reciprocally of all sorts of Superiours to­wards those who are Subject to them; as you may see in the following Verses.

Quod Nati patribus debent, quod jure magistris
Discipuli, servi Dominis, quod subditus omnis
His quibus aut populis dare jura: aut pascere verbò
Coelesti dedit omnipotens coelo (que) parare;
I. Lex quarta edicit: statuit (que) reciproca cunctis
Officia. Hinc natos. 1. venerari & 2. amare parentes:
3. Jussa sequi docet: ac monitis parere, 5. vereri
Et dum corripiunt, poenis (que) salubribus instant:
6. Placare offensos, & verbis mollibus iras
Mulcere: aversis actu meliore placere:
II. 7. Confectos annis, aegros inopes (que) levare,
Qua licet, auxilio Patres: eadem (que) magistris
III. Reddere discipulos; servos parere, fidem (que)
IV. Praestare illaesam. Reges ut subditi honorent:
V. Pastores (que) suae quibus est data cura salutis
Auscultent, venerentur, ament & dicta sequantur.
VI. At patribus contra at (que) aliis lex aequa vicissim
Praecipit 1. ut recto chara amplectantur amore
Pignora: 2. provideant naturae commoda primum:
3. Praecipuam tamen aeternae, verae (que) salutis
Curam habeant; nec nata sibi, sed debita coelo
Dona Dei, natos reputent: 4. quos nosce supremum
Auctorem rerum doceant, pariter (que) vereri,
Coelestem redamare patrem. 5. tum mente sagaci
Explorent puerorum animos, & mollia fingant
Ingenia: & sanctum verae pietatis amorem
Alta mente bibant, seros quae crescat in annos.
6. Emendent peccata, ruat ne labilis aetas
In vitium, nullis posthac cohibenda catenis.
[Page 251]
7. Corripiant juste; stulta indulgentia natos
Ne perimat, paenas (que) timens adhibere salubres
Aeternae addicat paenae pueros (que) patres (que)
Ista docet lex sancta patres, eadem (que) magistris
Praescribit, dominis (que) & quos neglecta suorum
Reddere cura potest alieno crimine sontes.

The Sins which Children commit against their Fathers and Mothers, are:

1. To deny them their due respect, as when they despise them interiourly in their heart, or ex­teriourly by words, scornfull gestures, or actions.

2. To be deficient in the love they owe them; as when they hate them, or wish their death, or any other misfortune, or forsake them in their necessity.

3. To fail in their obedience, if it be in a matter of Consequence, it is a mortall Sin, or else to obey them, but not readily, as with repug­nance, impatience, or despight. Or what is worse, to obey them in things unlawfull.

4. To slight, to scoff at their reprehensions, to take no notice of them, or not to benefit them­selves by them.

5. To resist their corrections, and wish them harm.

6. To put them into passion, and take no care to pacify them again by submissive words, by o­beying and complying with their desires.

7. Not to assist them in their old age, in their sickness, and in what other necessities.

To these Sins may be added the not executing their last Will and Testament after their death, or not to procure Prayers for them.

II. Disciples and Schollars owe to their ma­sters [Page 252]and to all those who instruct them a great part of the same dutys; as respect, obedience, and the like, in which they should examen them­selves.

III. Servants ought to examen themselves con­cerning the obedience they owe to their Masters; whether they have fail'd either in their trust, or in the dilligence which is required at their hands; whether through their fault they have displeased them: whether they have neglected their reason­able and just interest; whether they have obey'd them in things unlawfull, in lying, Swearing, Stealing, beating, &c.

IV. The Subjects, whether they have fail'd to obey the King and the Magistrates, to observe their Laws and their Commands, and to bear a respect to their Persons.

V. Towards their Ecclesiastical Superiours, as Bishops, Curates, Confessors; whether one hath not fail'd to give ear to their Admonitions, to shew them respect, to love them, and obey them; whether on the contrary one hath con­temned them, spoken ill of them, or murmured against them.

Fathers and Mothers reciprocally ought to exa­men, whether they have performed their duty to­wards their Children; whether they love them as they ought; whether they have care to main­tain them, and to supply them in their other Corporal necessities; whether they have been carefull of their Salvation, and to provide them all things necessary for that end, viz. to teach them to know God and fear him; to love him as their Heavenly Father; to instill into them the Sentiments of true Piety; to redress their [Page 253]faults by opportune and convenient reprehen­sions; to correct them when they stand in need; not to flatter them in their vicious In­clinations; as also not to be too severe to­wards them; to give them good, but never any bad Example: Never to force them in the choice of their State of Life; nor to love one more then another without a very good reason: not to take from one to give to ano­ther, except it be according to the exact rules of Justice.

The Sins of other Superiours may be exa­mened upon all the Points here mentioned, proportionably to what may appertain to every one in his proper Post.

Masters should consider, how they have be­haved themselves towards their Servants: whether they have had a care of their Life and Conversation, and of their Salvation: whe­ther they have been watchfull over their Acti­ons, reprehended their faults, made them say their Prayers, go to Mass on Sundays, and Ho­ly-days, frequent the Sacraments. Whether they have not commanded them to do some evil thing, treated them too rudely either by words, injuries or stroaks; whether they have not paid their Wages, and so of others.

The EXAMEN upon the Fifth Commandment.
Thou shalt not Kill.

THis Commandment forbids Murther, and all that which comes near it or inclines that way; that is, either actually to hurt our Neigh­bour in his Body, or to desire it. This may hap­pen in many ways, which are ranked, as it were, in order in these following Verses.

Caedem hominis lex quinta vetat mentem (que) nocendi.
Hinc. 2. iram. 2. rixas. 3. convicia, probra. 4. minas (que)
5. Vindictam. 6. pugnas, & 7. verberae, vulnera, 8. mortes
9. Proditiones, insidias (que) venena, furores;
10. Invidiam (que) odium (que) & quodcun (que) improba menti
Suggerit iratae rabies, mitissima damnat
Lex, & ab humanis longe congressibus arcet.

One must then examen himself. 1. Whether he hath been enraged or angry against his Neigh­bour. 2. Or hath Quarrelled with him. 3. Whe­ther in the quarrel he used any injurious or vilifying Language, or reproachfull actions. 4. Whether he hath threatened any one, and how. 5. Whether the effect, that is the Revenge fol­lowed. 6. Whether he hath fought against him, or challenged him to the field, or beaten him in effect. 7. Or strucken, or provoked, or wounded [Page 255]him. 8. If he have been the cause of his death. 9. If he have made use of treachery to entrap him; of Ambushes to hurt him; of Poyson, or other inventions of humane wrath. 10. If one have kept a grudge, or born malice against him; how long it hath lasted; and what evil effects have proceeded from it.

The EXAMEN upon the Sixth Commandment.
Thou shalt not Commit Adultery.

THis Commandment forbidding Adultery, prohibits likewise all sorts of Sins of im­purity, and all whatsoever is opposite to Chasti­ty, as well of mind, as body; whereof these Verses will give an account.

Casta pudicitiam sexto Lex Ordine servat:
Et Vetat auditu, aspectu, sermone, pudorem
Laedere, vel sactu: tum nequis mente revolvat
Turpe aliquid. 2. Vel corde optet. 3. Statuatue pudenda
Perficere: heu miserum si fecerit! at (que) pudorem
Nec vitae aequandum turpi violaverit actu,
1. Ipse suum corpus male faedans: 2. aut alienae
Corruptor carnis: 3. stuprans: 4. incestus: 5. adulter.
5. Aut si naturae calcato jure peregit,
In quae caelestes arserunt crimina flammae.

There are three degrees in the sin of Impurity.

The First contains the sins of the exteriour Senses, which serve as an entrance and dispositi­ons to this Vice.

The Second comprehends the interiour sins, which are committed against purity in the mind.

The Third contains the different kinds of im­pure actions, by which one actually commits that sin.

I. It is convenient then in the first place, that we examen the acts of the exteriour senses.

1. Of Hearing, by which bad, as well as good enters into the mind. Whether one hath given Ear either to immodest words, discourses, or Songs; wherein one may sin four ways, 1. If one interiourly takes pleasure therein. 2. If one shews that he willingly gives Ear unto them. 3. If one does not hinder them when he may. 4. If one do not avoid the company of those, who speak them, when it is not in his power to divert the discourse.

2. Of the Sight, and that in divers manners. Whether one hath cast his eyes with pleasure, or design upon immodest objects, or such as are capable to raise ill thoughts: as nakedness, dishonest Pictures or Figures, Women, or Maids; either entertaining at the same time Lascivious thoughts, or being in danger to admit them; which ordinarily is a Mortal Sin.

Whether one hath read dishonest books trea­ting of Love, immodest Stories, or other un­chast things; Whether one hath taken pleasure in reading them: And altho' one took no de­light therein, yet the danger to which one ex­poses himself to admit it, is the reason why one can ever scarce reade such Books without a Mor­tal [Page 257]fin: Whether one has kept such books by him, for he is obliged to rid himself of them. Whether he hath imparted them to o­thers. Whether one hath neglected to suppress them, when he might, either by himself, or by another.

3. Of the Tongue, one must examine, whe­ther he hath uttered immodest words, or used expressions bearing a double sense, or apt to create in the Soul impure thoughts.

Whether he hath held discourse, or enter­tainments of this nature, recounted wanton Stories, reported his own or others wicked actions.

Whether one hath sollicited others to the sin of impurity. Sung unchast Songs, or recited immodest Verses.

4. Of the Touch, whether one hath touched himself immodestly, that is, having no ne­cessity, but only pleasure, or with danger of impurity; and yet more, whether one hath touched another with either of these two cir­cumstances, of pleasure, or danger.

II. The Second rank of immodest sins con­tains those which are committed in the mind: and under this head we must examine three things.

1. Whether one hath willingly taken plea­sure, in entertaining his mind in impure thoughts or imaginations; altho' one had not a desire to put them in execution. For these thoughts, when one willingly continues in them, are Mortal sins.

2. When one has a desire to Commit the sins he thinks on.

3. When one not only desires it, but resolves [Page 258]with himself to commit it, when he hath an oc­casion, and for that end, seeks the means to com­pass his design.

III. The third degree of this same sin com­prehends the different kinds of immodest actions.

Whereof the first is, when one provokes him­self to Lust, corrupting himself either by his touch or other means, which is a sin concerning which Penitents, and especially young people ought to examen themselves well; because they easily fall into it, and sometimes either do not confess it, or else declare but one half, having a shame to discover, what they were not asham'd to commit.

2. When one sollicites others to that sin: When one makes them fall into it, or when one teaches it to tho [...] that do not know it.

3. When one commits the sin of dishonesty, with persons of divers Sexes and Unmarried; in which case he must first tell, whether she were a Maid or Virgin, for that is a remarkable cir­cumstance, which aggravates the sin. 2. Whether he sollicited her, and how long. 3. Whether he seduced her by promises. Much more, whether he forced her; he ought also to declare here whether he hath been in evil houses; whether he hath led, or been willing to lead others thither.

4. Whether one hath committed this sin with a Married woman, which is Adultery: or with a relation, which is Incest, for these are different species, or kinds of Sin.

And lastly, whether one has been so unfortu­nate, as to fall into the Sins against nature, which God hath sometimes visibly punished with fire from Heaven, and with St. Paul calls ignomini­ous [Page 259]passions, all which nevertheless one must not be ashamed to confess.

The EXAMEN upon the Seventh Commandment.
Thou shalt not Steal.

THis Commandment forbids us to wrong our neighbour, in his Goods: which may hap­pen many ways.

1. Septima lex furtum prohibet, redditque nocentem
Qui raepit alterius bona: 2. cum crimine servat,
Quae forsan male non rapuit. 3. Qui debita justa
Denegat, aut sero solvit: 4. Qui foenore duro
Cogit opes: 5. pactisque aurum coacervat iniquis.
6. Qui damno illato nocuit, vel causa nocendi
Extitit: & propriis non sarcit damna periclis.
7. Fraternis inhians opibus, 8. propriasque recondens,
Omnibus immitis, nec se, nec pascit egentes.
9. Debita qui sacris non solvit jura ministris.
10. Aut simoniacae affectans exempla rapinae
Terrenis redimit coelestia munera donis.
Haec lex aequa vetat; quaecumque & crimina suadet
Nullius non causa mali vesana cupido.

One must examen himself in this place.

  • First, whether he hath taken anothers goods, with a design to keep them, and declare the quan­tity of the goods, and how often he did so.
  • [Page 260]2ly. Whether notwithstanding that he hath not taken them himself, yet he hath retained what he found in his hands, howsoever he came by them; which is call'd an unjust detaining of anothers goods: for one is oblig'd in Conscience to restore them.
  • 3ly. Whether one hath denyed his debts, with intention never to pay them; or else delayed too long the payment of them; that his neigh­bour suffered from thence some considerable dammage.
  • 4ly. Whether one hath lent out money or o­ther goods to use. That is drawing profit from the sole lending, without suffering any reall loss or damage from it.
  • 5ly. Whether one hath made any unjust bar­gains or contracts, whereby his neighbour hath been considerably prejudiced.
  • 6ly. Whether either himself he hath done, or by others caused to be done, any dammage to his neighbours goods. In which case he is obliged to repair the loss if he have wherewith. And except, supposing he is able, he make satisfaction, his Sins cannot be forgiven.
  • 7. Whether one hath a desire to get anothers goods, and seeks unjust ways to procure them.
  • 8. Whether the affection one has to his own goods hinders him from giving alms when occa­sion of necessity requires it.
  • 9. Whether he hath not pay'd the Tithes, due to the Church.
  • 10. Whether one hath committed Simony by buying some benefice or benefices.

The EXAMEN upon the Eighth Commandment.
Thou shalt not bear False Witness against thy Neighbour.

THis Commandment under the prohibition of false witness comprehends generally all lyes, and also whatsoever may prejudice our neighbour in his reputation.

Alterius famam levare & reddere raptam
Lex octava jubet, prohiberque offendere verbis
Factis-ve. Et simili reddit se crimine sontem
I. 1. Qui falso accusat. 2. test atur, 3. protegit, 4. & qui
Insontem damnat Judex, solvitque nocentem.
II. Alterius qui vitam animo scrutatus iniquo
1. Quod male conjectat, 2. temere asserit, 3. ambiguum (que)
Rumorem in vulgus spargens subvertit honorem,
Crimina mentitus falsa, aut occulta revelans,
III. Inde vetat falsis mendacia promere verbis
Lex veri rectique tenax, & fallere dictis,
Sit licet innocuum quidquid mentiris: at ullum
Si tibi vel socio sint allatura periclum
Corporis aut animi, vel famae & honoris, opumve,
Ipse reus graviter laesae damnabere legis.
IV. Nec melius proprium velabit hypocrita crimen,
Qui sanctum falsa mentitus imagine, multo:
Decipit, atque lupum sub ovina pelle recondit.

These Verses contain four sorts of Sin forbid­den by this Commandment.

I. Whereof the first is false witness, and all that relates unto it.

1. To accuse one falsly whether in judgment, or elsewhere.

2. To bear false witness against him, and the heinousness of this Sin is proportionable to the Crime, which is laid to his charge: and to the danger his neighbour incurs, whether in point of Estate, Honour, or Life. If the Testimony be confirmed with an oath the Sin becomes yet much more heinous.

3. To take upon him the defence of a false ac­cusation. Whether in law, which happens to Lawyers and Sollicitors, or elsewhere, in what manner soever it be.

4. To condemn the innocent, or absolve the guilty. A Sin incident to judges, and other Su­periours.

II. The Second Species, or kind, is detracti­on, wherein one Sins by these degrees.

1. By ill suspitions of his neighbour upon small grounds, sometimes out of lightness, some­times by reason of an aversion one hath conceiv'd against him.

2. By rash judgments, where one believes or affirms some evil which one hath suspected of him.

3. By detraction, spreading reports prejudi­cial to his honour: which is done two ways: ei­ther by laying crimes to his charge, which he hath not committed, which is called Calumny, or by revealing the evil, which he hath done, when it was yet secret, and few or none knew [Page 263]of it, which is properly called defamation.

This is ordinarily a mortall Sin; and [...] it obliges to a restitution of the honour [...] thereby he hath taken from his neighbour; and when one confesses himself of it, he ought to de­clare the quality of the crime, which he either impos'd upon him, or revealed: that also of the person whom he spoke ill of: whether it were in presence of many persons; and how often; the intention with which he spoke it, whether it were out of lightness and indiscretion: or out of aversion, or envy; in which case the Sin is much greater.

III. The 3. Species is Lying; which is (not to tell a thing that is false, as the vulgar think but) to speak a thing, which we judge to be other­wise then we say: It is always a Sin, either mortall, or veniall.

It is a veniall Sin, when it brings no consider­able damage neither to him that tells it, nor to others. Yet it is to be observed, that it is a ve­ry dangerous thing to accustome ones self unto it, and to get a habit of it, for the reasons we alledg'd in the Instruction of Youth. part 4. capt. 11. But we must have a care not to confess by cu­stome only, without a resolution to amend, as it often happens.

A Lye is a mortall Sin, when it is told in things of great moment, when it either prejudices our neighbour in an high degree or him that tells it. Whether in Soul or Body, whether in honour, or goods, is a point, which deserves a strict examen.

IV. The 4th Species is Hypocrisy, which is a continuall lye, and dissembling to the end to appear otherwise then one is. Concern­ing, [Page 264] [...] he must examen the actions he hath [...] the words he hath spoken with that intent. Whether one hath endeavoured to be e­steemed good and virtuous; whether one hath performed acts of piety with a design to appear so and be so esteemed; whether one hath discoursed upon matters of devotion, mov'd with that con­sideration, and such like things.

The EXAMEN upon the Nineth and Tenth Commandment.
Thou shalt not desire thy Neighbours Wife. Thou shalt not covet thy Neighbours Goods.

THese two Commandments prohibit us to covet any of those things, which are forbid­den by the 6. & 7. to teach us, that it is not suffi­cient to abstain from the evil action, but we must also put a curb on our desires to do it. One ought to examine ones self diligently in this point; But being we have already plac't such Sins as occur against these in the examen upon those two Com­mandments; we shall say no more of them in this place.

Fraternis inhiare bonis, thalamisque pudicis,
Bina vetant sacram claudentia jussa tabellam.

The EXAMEN upon the Precepts of the Church.

1. TO keep certain appointed days holy; which obligation chiefly consists in hearing of Mass, and resting from all servill work.

2. To observe the commanded days of Fast, and Abstinence.

3. To pay Tithes to your Pastor.

4. To confess your Sins to your Pastor at least once a year.

5. To receive the Blessed Sacrament; and that at Easter, or thereabout.

One is obliged to all these Commandments under the pain of mortall sin. Except necessity, or some great reason excuse it. It is easy to make an examen upon them: wherefore we shall pro­ceed.

Has quoque divinis placitis Ecclesia leges
Subjunxit. 1. Sancte ut celebrent pia festa Fideles.
Adsint & sacris dum mystica sistitur uris
Victima: praesentemque Deum venerentur, & orent.
2. Carnibus abstineant vetitis; 3. jejunia servent
Temporibus praescripta suis, sanctisque diebus
Quadraginta, quibus Mater bene provida culpas
Emendare, Deumque jubet placare precando.
4. Inde sacerdoti pandentes crimina, sordes
Abstergant mentis, fletu sanctoque labore.
5. Et cum mactandi Paschae veneranda recurrunt
Tempora, coelestis mundato pectore carnes
Excipiant agni, sacrasque epulentur ad aras:
[Page 266]
Dum mundis animo & mortali carne solutis
Aeternum dabitur caelesti accumbere mensae.

The EXAMEN upon the Seven Deadly Sins.

THey are called so, because they are the head or source from whence all other Sins do spring. They are seven in all; viz. Pride, Co­vetousness, Luxury, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth and Anger. We shall explain them in this order, as they lie.

Ambitione tumens: auri quem dira cupido
Exagitat: Veneri vel ventri deditus: Inde
Segnities quem frangit iners: vel livor adurit,
Iraque praecipitat. Septem capitalibus ille
Ʋrgetur vitiis, scelus hinc ruiturus in omne.

Of the Sin of Pride.

IT is a Sin which we little reflect on in our selves, yet very common. Many fall into it, and often, but few perceive it, and fewer yet Confess it. Behold them here in their different ranks, in vast numbers, and which deserve to be well examined.

Effigiem mentis veram dant ista superbae.
Sum vanus; jactans; tumidusque; mihi arrogo multa;
Ambio; praesumo; sperno; nec pareo jussis;
Errata agnosco nunquam; Dehinc corripientem
Contemnens, mores durata fronte recuso
[Page 267]
Emendare malos: Tumidus measensa tenaci
Mente sequor: semper discors; & hypocrita mendax
Noxia scire volo; nulli benefacta rependo.
Hanc gignit, viciis foecunda, superbia prolem.

Pride is an esteem which one hath of himself, and a desire to be esteemed by others.

The goods which one either hath, or believes he hath, are the ground-work and Foundation of this Esteem; as the goods of Fortune, Riches, Honours, Dignities: or the goods of the Body; as Strength, Beauty, a good Grace, good Cloaths: or the goods of the Mind, as Knowledge, Pru­dence, and Virtue.

This esteem together with proper love pro­duceth a vast number of ill effects, which are so many Sins of Pride.

The First is Vain Glory, which values it self and desires to be esteemed by others, for the goods one either hath not, or those he hath, but do not at all deserve to be esteemed; as Beauty, Cloaths, Riches: whence it derives its name vain or Vanity.

The Second is Boasting; when one seeks to publish, or as it were proclaim the goods he is endowed with, to the end he may be the more esteemed.

The Third is the Pride which is called the swelling, or puffing up of the Mind, when one prizes himself excessively for the goods, which he believes himself Possessor of, and wherein he thinks he considerably surpasses others.

The 4th is Arrogance: when one attributes to himself the goods he hath not; or those which he hath, but do not spring from us, but from [Page 268]God, or even from another, who hath bestowed them on us; when one requires the Honour and Respect which is not due to him; when one be­lieves himself to be the Author of a favour which one hath done him, or which one hath received from him, and doth not give the Glory of all to God.

The 5th is Presumption: when one hath too good a conceit of himself, and believes himself capable of the things which are beyond his reach, or which one is not able to perform without the grace of God. And in a word when one confides in his own strength in all the good things he un­dertakes, and not in the assistance of the Divine Grace.

The 6th is Ambition: when moved by the good conceit of himself, he seeks difficult Em­ployments; because they are honourable, or pro­fitable, presuming always upon himself that he is sufficiently capable.

The 7th is a contempt which one hath of o­thers: when by reason of the good opinion one hath of himself he sets a greater value on his own, than on anothers Goods, Nobility, Sci­ence, or Virtue: and when one shews this con­tempt by gestures, words, or actions. When one would be preferred before others, and always have the chiefest Honour: when one abuses his Inferiours, with affronts, and severity, exacting from them more Service than they owe; punish­ing their faults with too much rigour.

The 8th is want of Submission towards Supe­riours: when one refuses to obey them, and fol­low their Orders: when one blames their Con­duct, when one murmurs, or causes others to mur­mure against them.

The 9th is not to acknowledge his faults, which may happen four manner of ways. 1. When one totally denies it, & doth not at all believe he hath done amiss. 2. When acknowledging it in his heart, he will not however Confess it, but denies to have done it. 3. When Confessing the Fact one maintains he hath done well, or that he hath not done amiss. 4. When one alledges false excuses and unjust reasons.

The 10th is a contempt of Admonitions and Corrections; when one bears them imp [...]ntly; when one is never the better by being corrected for his faults.

The 11th is Obstinacy in his own opinions: when one resolves to follow his own judgment in things of importance against the advice of o­thers to whom he ows respect.

The 12th is Discord: when one is of a trouble­some humour towards others, not willing to yield in any thing; but to be above them in all things.

The 13th is Hypocrisy when one would ap­pear better then he is: or be esteemed Virtuous, and perform some good actions with that de­sign. We have already spoken of this in the Eighth Commandment.

The 14th is Curiosity, which inclines us to know things prejudicial to our Salvation: as to read such books, as contain dangerous Sciences, and hurtfull curiosities.

The 15th is Ingratitude, for the favours one has received from another, in which there are four degrees; 1. Not to return the acknow­ledgment one ought. 2. To forget. 3. To deny. 4. (Which is yet worse) to repay Good with Evil. These actions actions are the effects of a [Page 270]secret Pride, which would not seem to have re­ceived any favour from another.

Of Covetousness, Luxury, and Sloth.

THese three sins have been examined in the First, Sixth, and Seventh Commandments. Wherefore we shall say nothing of them in this place.

Septi [...] avaritiae fontes mandata recludunt;
Sexta (que) Luxuriae faetus & monstra revelant.
Pigritiam Lex prima tibi descripsit inertem.

Of Gluttony.

THe species or several kinds of this sin are contained in these Verses.

1. Qui nimium Comedit. 2. qui lautius. 3. at (que) frequenter.
4. Qui (que) avido vorat ore dapes: jejunia solvit:
5. Illicitisque cibis qui vescitur, aut nocituris:
6. Qui multo vires vino opprimit, aut rationem
Obruit, ille gulae reddit se labe nocentem;
Hunc gula interimit nullo non saevior ense.

One sins by Gluttony.

1. In Eating with excess, and if this excess be great, it becomes a Mortal sin. 2. In seeking good chear and delicious viands: the affection to these things are in an high degree prejudicial to ones Salvation. 3. In Eating often, and with­out order. 4. In Eating greedily and gorman­dising, and seeking rather pleasure then nourish­ment [Page 271]in his meat, breaking Fasts of Obligation. 5. In eating forbidden meats. In eating that which one knows will prejudice ones health, which is also frequently a Mortal sin.

Of the Sin of Envy.

THis is a Sin opposite to the love of our Neighbour, and consists in this, that as by Charity we rejoyce at our Neighbours good, and are sorry for his evil; so on the contrary by Envy one is troubled at the good, and re­joyces at the evil, which befalls him: a Sin but too common, and from whence spring great numbers of others; which here you may see.

1. Alterius gaudere malis. 2. moerere secundis
Invidus assuetus, mentem sibi daemonis esse
Ostendit, ne quicquam hominum quem prospera torquent
Aut mala solantur. 3. Cur as hinc volvit inanes
Ʋt noceat: si posse datur. 4. delusaque si spes
Eventu fuerit, sequitur delebile nunquam
Occultumque odium; 5. murmur, maledicta, susurri
Queis famam alterius, mores, dotes, bona cuncta
Elevat: ut proprium minuat laedendo dolorem:
Infoelix, quem non facient aliena beatum
Damna: sed unius super omnia numinis aequi.
Consimilisque sui, dilecto sancta beabit.

It is then the Sin of Envy.

1. When one is troubled within himself at the good Success of his Neighbour; as when he sees him honoured, or esteemed, prosper in his affairs, to advance himself in his fortunes, Science or Virtue.

2. When one rejoyces at his harm, when any thing happens to him contrary to one or more of the above-mention'd goods.

3. When by the sorrow one conceives at the prosperity of another, he seeks to do him a dis­kindness; and when in effect, he doth him a prejudice in any one of the above-mentioned goods.

4. When not being able to hurt him in reality, he hath at least a will to do it: in keeping ha­tred in his heart, and desiring to do him harm, when it lies in his power.

5. When through occasion of this Spirit of Hatred and envy one murmurs against his neigh­bour: speaks often against him, to diminish the esteem, which others may have, and instead of it Create an ill opinion, of him: in fine, when one goes about to please himself by anothers harm.

This Sin should be only proper to the Devil, who rejoyces at the loss of Men: And Christians ought to blush with shame to seek their happiness in the misfortune of their Brethren; A felicity which can no where be found, but in the love of their common Father, and the brotherly af­fection which they ought to have one for ano­ther.

Of the Sin of Anger.

ANger is an impatience to suffer any thing that is contrary to our inclinations; from whence also proceed a vast number of Sins; the most considerable are, which follow.

1. Adversum nil ferre valens ignescit ubique
Impatiens animus. 2. Rixae hinc, 3. convicia, probra,
4. Linguaque blasphemans, diraeque, minacia verba,
5. Ʋloascens manus, 6. aut intus mens dira volutans
Quae faciat, vel corde optet si inferre nequibit.
Haec sunt ira nocens in quae nos crimina pellit,
Ipsa sibi immitis, sociisque invisa, Deoque.

The Sins of Anger are:

1. Not to be able to endure any thing that troubles us, or is contrary to our Inclinations; or to be easily impatient upon this account.

2. To suffer ones solf to be carried away by the motions of Wrath and Indignation against those, who give us any disgust or trouble; to please ones self in these Passions and entertain them.

3. To proceed to Quarrels, injurious lan­guage, and reproches.

4. To break out into Oaths, Blasphemies, Curses, and grievous threats.

5. To execute our anger, and revenge our selves of the injury which we believe was offered us.

6. When one cannot effectually revenge him­self, to be willing to do it, by wishing him harm, and seeking the means to do it.

Not to pardon Injuries, nor be reconciled to his enemies.

Concerning this last Article, one ought to exa­men himself diligently; because, he who keeps Anger in his heart, or who refuses to be truly reconciled is not in a State capable of Absolu­tion.

The EXAMEN Of the Sins which one commits by another.

BEsides all the Sins, whereof we have spoken, there are yet others, which are very common, and of which one seldom or never examens ones self; which are the Sins which we commit by o­thers: That is, which others commit by our fault, whereof we have already treated in gene­ral in a Chapter above: we shall declare here the Species, or several kinds of them, in particular, which we shall describe in order in the following Verses.

At que suas ritinam lueret mens noxia culpas
Tantum; nec facerent aliena piacula sontem
Sed tam multiplici non sunt maculata colore
Corpora pardorum, quam mens humana frequentes
Contrahit in foelix alieno ex crimine sordes,
Dum factis dictisque nocet; dum voce silenti
Dat sceleri causas, aut nullis artibus arcet.
1. Facta nocent aliis, faciles ostensa sequuntur
Dum mala, sub ducibusque ruunt in crimina caecis,
Crimina perpetuo ducibus simul igne pianda.
Est pariterque reus sceleris. 2. qui provocat, 3. urget.
4. Qui juvat auxilio sontes, opibusque tuetur,
5. Excipit, occultat: 6. fautor, 7. sociasve malorum,
8. Qui mente aut nutu seeleri consentit: 9. cique
Cum prohibere valet, nullis conatibus obstat.
II. At quantis heu! lingua malis dat pessima [...]usas,
Inventrix scelerum, morum teterrima pestis:
[Page 275]
1. Dum scelus ipsa docet, 2. dum praecipit, atque nefanda
3. Consilio, 4. hortatu, promissis & prece suadet,
5. Extorquet-ve minis, 6. animumque accendit in iras:
7. Dum malefacta probans auctorem laudibus effert.
8. Vel sua deposito prodit peccata pudore,
9. Aut bene quod gestum est spernit, minuit (que) loquendo,
10. Irridens, & facta bonis veneranda, malorum
Obiicit insanis multurn ridenda cachinnis.
11. Vel fratres inter spargens inimica susurris
Jurgia, dissociat qv [...]os pax jungebat amica.
III. Verba ream faciunt, sed & ipsa silentia, linguam:
Dum sibi subject os spernit meliora docere;
Ʋtque bonum peragant jussis urgere; ruentes
In vitium nu llis satagit cohibere catenis.
At fratrem, si forte tibi quem nulla potestas
Subdidit, advertis peccantem, & vulnera siccis
Aspiciens oculis, molli & medicante recusas
Attrect are manu, monitisque salubribus illum
Negli gis emendare; reum auctoremque ruinae
Frat ernae te lingua silens, te muta loquetur.
Se [...]l quanto graviore oneras te crimine, si quae
Nec fanare vales, nec amica vulnera dextra
Tangere, saltem illis quorum est curare salutem
Fratris, non retegis certis sananda medelis:
Occultumque sinens penetrare in viscera virus
Et fratrem ipse perire vides, aliosque trahentem
Aeternae secum per certa pericula mortis.
Crudelis quem non fraternae cura salutis
Afficit, heu fu so meruit quam sanguine Christus!

One may contribute two manner of ways to anothers Sin, as we have already said in the Third Part, Last Chapter. 1. by doing an Action, or speaking any word which induces our Neighbour to evil. 2. in omitting to do, or say that which [Page 276]might hinder him from offending God. The first is positive, the other negative, yet however crimi­nal or offensive.

You must therefore examen your self here, 1. Whether you have contributed to anothers Sin by your actions in any of the following ways.

I. In doing an evil action in his presence, as an act of Impurity, or the like: Or also in doing any action, which tho' it be not ill in it self, yet is believed & esteemed to be so by those, who see it: for in this case one ought to abstain ac­cording to the rule of the Apostle, 1. Thes. 5.22. From all appearance of evil refrain your selves.

2. In performing any action with a design to stir up others to Sin.

3. By compelling them to it by some force, or violence.

4. In giving aid or assistance to another to do a wicked action, as Revenge, Thest, Imperity; contributing thereunto by money, or other wise.

5. In harbouring bad people, in concealing them, lest they should be discovered, or be punished.

6. In favouring evil any manner of way.

7. In sharing therein, whether in the action, or the profit arising from thence.

8. In approving the evil action of another, whether only in Will, or by some sign or exte­riour mark of approbation.

9. In not hindring evil when one may.

II. In the Second place you must examen, whether you have been the cause of the Sins of another by words any of these ways.

  • 1. By teaching him the evil which he did not know before.
  • [Page 277]2. By commanding those under your charge to do any evil thing.
  • 3. By counsel or advising them to it.
  • 4. By pressing them to it by Prayers, Promi­ses, or Presents.
  • 5. By threats, fear, and terrour.
  • 6. Endeavouring to provoke or sollicite him to the evil, one would have another do.
  • 7. By approving of evil actions, and praising those, who do them, or are the Authors of them.
  • 8. By recounting either the Sins he hath com­mitted, bragging and vaunting that he hath done such and such things, which are known Sins, or even of those he never committed.
  • 9. By slighting others good deeds either by word or otherwise.
  • 10. By scoffing at them, or exposing them to the scorn of others; which is a grievous Sin, and concerning which one ought to examen himself very strictly.
  • 11. By sowing discord and dissention amongst others either by false reports or otherwise; and endeavouring to keep them up, instead of procu­ring Peace and making them friends.

III. In the Third place examen the evils, which you have caused in others by your filence, when you were obliged to speak.

1. In respect of your Inferiours, as your Ser­vants, or others: whether you have been wanting to instruct, or cause them to be instructed in things, which they ought either to know, or do, for the Salvation of their Souls.

Whether you have omitted to forbid the ill, or command them the good, which they were obliged to do.

Whether you have failed to reprehend their evil actions, and to chastise them when necessity required.

Whether you have not neglected to concurr towards the amendment of their lives, by per­mitting them to live, as they pleased.

2. In regard of others, who are not subject to you: whether you have neglected fraternal cor­rection; that is, whether seeing them offend God, you have yet been careless to give them cha­ritable admonitions, when you might have done it, to hinder them, as much as in you lay, from falling back into the same faults. Or else, whe­ther when your could not, or durst not repre­hend your Neighbours fault, & foreseeing that he would yet fall therein, you neglected either to give notice, or cause notice to be given to those under whose charge he was, and who ought to have a care of his Salvation, according to the command of the Son of God, who requires that one should declare to the Church, that is, to the Superiours, the Sins of others, when one cannot restrain him ones self: We have given you an express Chap­ter of this Subject in the Instruction of Youth, Part 4. Chap. 18.

Moreover it is to be observed that every one ought to examen himself particularly concerning the Sins of his own State, and condition, which we shall not put here, because we write now par­ticularly for young people: one may find them in other Books.

The EXAMEN Of the Sins of Students.

I Shall inform you only that Students ought to examen themselves concerning the Sins, which they commit in their Studies, by Idleness and loss of time, which, ordinarily is a very great Sin in the sight of God, tho' they usually reflect not on it.

They must therefore examen themselves, whe­ther they have neglected to Employ their time in their Studies.

Whether they have spent Days, Weeks, Months, Years without Studying: or Studying but little wherein there may be a Mortall Sin.

Whether they have Studyed remisly and loose­ly, without application, and desire to learn.

Whether they have omitted frequently the duty of their Classe, or have gotten it made by o­thers.

Whether they have hindred others from Stu­dying: whether they dissuaded them: whether they mocked at those who apply'd themselves to Study, and were willing to learn.

Whether they have neglected to attend and hearken to that, which was taught them, and to make their advantage of it.

Whether they gave themselves too much to Play and Recreation, spent much time therein.

Whether upon that Account they have lost their School time, and other Hours appointed for Study.

Whether they have played away a great deal [Page 280]of Money; or spent in play, in good cheer, and in foolish Recreations the Monies, which their Parents allowed them for their Maintenance, or for other uses. Whether they have sold their Books, Stol'n, or Cheated at Play.

Whether they have contemned their Masters, Scoffed at them, or rendered them contemptible to their Companions.

Whether they have given them any disgust ei­ther in Private or Publick; resisted them; rebel­led against them; or stirred up others to disobe­dience or Rebellion.

Whether they have loved & Courted the Com­pany of naughty, Knavish, or Vicious Schollars.

Whether they have diverted others from Pie­ty; or Scoffed at those who are good and Virtu­ous; or caused them to be laughed at by others; which is a very great Sin: whether they have de­bauched others; or Sollicited them to Sin, or in­structed them in wickedness.

Whether they have read bad Authors, or bad places in those that are permitted, but are not cor­rected.

Whether in their Studies they have proposed to themselves any other end then the will of God; and to make themselves capable to serve him in the State he shall call them to.

Whether in Studying they have endeavoured rather to advance themselves in Science, then in Virtue, and the true knowledge of their Salvati­on: which is a sin very ordinary amongst Stu­dents, and which carries a large train of evils af­ter it.

INSTRUCTION Concerning the Holy Communion.

The Preface.
Of the Necessity of this Instruction, and the Order to be observed therein.

THis Instruction is no less necessary then that of of Penance; by reason that the Holy Commu­nion is the Complement, and perfection of what Pe­nance had begun; that is to say, it is a perfect re­stauration, and a certain confirmation of the Soul in the grace of God. It conserves, it augments, it for­tifies the Soul dayly more and more in his holy grace, and contributes very much towards finall Perseverance, supposing it be frequently made use of; and that the receiver approach unto it with those dispositions, which so holy and so adorable a Sacrament requires. Where­as on the contrary it heaps upon the head of the un­worthy receiver, dreadfull and almost irreparable ruins, changing the fountain of life into the cause of death; and that, which of it self, and by its first in­stitution, was a pledge of Salvation, a Sacrament of Love and Mercy, into a Sentence of Condemnation or Everlasting death.

If one Communicate, tho' not absolutely unworthy, that is, in the State of Mortal sin; but however with some irreverence, or considerable defect in De­votion, he is deprived of the better part of that fruit, which otherwise he might gather from this Tree of [Page 282]Life. And not only that; he doth not only lose the many favours he might by means of the Sacrament be partaker of: but also he thereby contracts a great num­ber of infirmities, as tepidity, or coldness in Charity, indevotion, insensibility in the concerns of our Soul, the diminution of our Spiritual strength and Divine Graces, frequent relapses into Venial, and sometimes into Mortal sin.

Thus you see, Theotime, of what importance it is to perform this great action well. No less then your Salvation depends upon the right performance of it, Now to do this worthily, as the thing deserves, it is necessary we be well informed; whence it is easy to per­ceive, 1. How usefull Instruction is upon this Subject, 2. The Obligation you have to apply your serious atten­tion in the reading of it, so to advantage your self the more thereby.

The Division.

I Shall divide this Treatise into two Parts; whereof the First shall treat of the Doctrin; The Second of the Practice of Holy Communion. In the First, I shall declare what it imports us to know concerning this sublime Mystery; and in the Second what we are to do, to receive it worthily and with fruit.

In the First Part I shall give some Generall Exposi­tions of Faith it self and of the Principal Mysteries of our Faith, for the greater Convenience of those, who are not already so fully instructed in these so necessary concerns; and Especially of young People, who very seldom have sufficient knowledge of them.

I hope that those, who shall peruse them with Care, and a Desire to Learn, will find therein such and so so­lid Instructions in all the Fundamentall Points of our [Page 283]Holy Religion, as by that means their Hearts will be­come more ample and Capacious of the singular advan­tages of Holy Communion; and Effectually be made Partakers of those Graces which God is ready to bestow by means of this Blessed Sacrament.

As for the Second Part it is to be perused and Pra­ctized, & for this effect it will be very proper to peruse it often and with Attention; but particularly upon the Eve and day of Communion.

PART I. Of the Doctrin, that is to say, of the Truths which it Imports us to know concerning the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

A Christian Communicant, that he may re­ceive worthily (if as yet he know them not distinctly) ought to be well instructed in three things; of which two are generall, the third is particular to this Sacrament.

First, he must be instructed in Faith in Gene­rall, without which it is impossible to attain to the knowledge of this great Mystery of the Eu­charist. He must understand perfectly well, what God hath reveal'd concerning this Virtue, which is the Basis and ground-work of Salvation. As Saint Paul saith, Heb. 11.1. The Substance of the things to be hoped for.

Secondly, He must have a true Notion of the Principal Mysteries of Faith in Particular; as of the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation, the Re­demption, [Page 284]the Catholick Chuch: for except he believe these Truths, it is impossible ever to come either to the knowledg or belief of that of the Holy Eucharist.

Thirdly, He must be throughly informed in what concerns this Sacrament in particular; viz. in the principal truths which appertain unto it: as the real presence of the Son of God in the Cou­secrated Host: The change of the substance of the Bread and Wine, into that of his Body and Blood: The great wonders, which meet in this Mystery: The effects, which it produces in the Soul of the worthy receiver. The dispositions, with which it ought to be received.

Following this order, I shall divide this First Part into three Chapters, whereof the First shall treat of Faith; the Second of the Principal My­steries of our Faith; the Third of what concerns this Sacrament in particular: And we shall divide the Chapters into Articles, or Questions, as ne­cessity shall require.

CHAP. I. Of Faith.

FOR your greater ease, we shall treat of this Subject by way of Question, and Answers immediately subjoyn'd.

Question I. What is it we are obliged to know concerning Faith in general?

SEven things; viz. What Faith is; who is the Author of it; what its action; its ob­ject; its motive; its rule; and what the condi­tions it requires, that it may be perfect.

Quest. II. What is Faith?

IT is a gift of God, or a light from above by which man being illuminated doth firmly believe all those things, which God hath revealed, and proposed to his Church to be believed; whe­ther written, or unwritten.

In this definition is comprised all whatsoever, as is abovesaid, we are obliged to know con­cerning Faith.

And first it teacheth us, that Faith is a Super­natural light proceeding not from us, but from God; and which makes us assent to those truths, the belief whereof is necessary for Salvation.

It teacheth us also, who is the Author of Faith, what its action, & the rest, as we shall see by the Replies to the following Questions.

Quest. III. Who is the Author of Faith?

I Answer, God alone. Faith is a gift of God, saith the Apostle, Ephes. 2.8. and there is none but he can give it. He bestows it upon us [Page 286]by enlightning our understanding in a superna­tural way, and inclining the will to follow by her consent the light which is proposed unto her. The will indeed concurrs, and doth well in ac­cepting and agreeing with the truth, which is proposed unto her: but it is God alone, who is the first and principal cause; wherefore it is very necessary that we beg and require it at his hands.

Quest. IV. What is the Action, Object, and Motive of Faith?

TO believe, that is to hold a truth for cer­tain and assured, without the least doubt thereof, is the proper act of Faith.

The object, that is, the things which we are oblig'd to believe, are all the truths which God hath revealed, and which are therefore proposed that we may assent unto them.

The motive or reason why we ought to be­lieve, is the divine revelation: For one believes a truth, because God, who neither can deceive us, nor be deceived in what he reveals unto us, hath revealed it. And this revelation for this reason is always infallible.

Quest. V. By what ways hath God revealed the Truth unto us?

BY two: By the Holy Scripture, and by Tra­dition. These are the two ways, whereby God hath been pleased to manifest his holy truths; and both of them are equally infallible, because both are equall, the one written, the other the unwritten word of God.

Quest. VI. Which is the Rule of Faith?

WE call that the Rule of Faith, whereby we discern the revelations which come, from those which do not come, from God; for it is certain that there are some false revelations, and which the Devil, the Author of Lies, pro­poses by his Ministers; and therefore, that we may not be be deceived, we have a certain rule.

This rule is the judgment, or the interpreta­tion of the Holy Church, to which God hath gi­ven that Power, and promised the assistance of his Holy Spirit, that it also may never be decei­ved.

The Proofs are manifest in the Scripture; Be­hold, Mat. 28.20. (saith he) I am with you even un­till the end of the World. He also said, Mat. 16.18. Ʋpon this Rock will I build my Church, and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. And the Apostle saith afterwards, 1. Tim. 3.15. that the Church is the House of God, and that it is the Pillar and Ground of Truth. The Son of God commands us to hear­ken to it even as to himself. Luc. 10.16. He, that heareth you heareth me, and he that despiseth you despiseth me. And he saith, Mat. 18.17. he who will not hear the Church, let him be accounted as a heathen or Publican.

Without this Rule we can have no Faith, be­cause without it we can neither be assured of the Divine Revelation, nor of the true Scriptures, nor of their true Sense; wherefore Hereticks, who refuse to follow the Judgment of the Church, have neither Faith, not even any cer­tainty [Page 288]of any thing they believe.

They say indeed that they follow the Scrip­ture, but they deceive themselves.

For first, How do they know, that there is such a thing as Scripture, but by the Testimony of the Catholick Church, which assures us of it, and hath conserved it from time to time, even untill their times. Did not St. Augustin, contra Epist. fundam. c. 5. say, and with good reason, that he would not believe the Gospel, except he were moved unto it by the authority of the Catholick Church: and that if we believe the Church, when it tells us that we must believe the Gospel, why should we not be­lieve it, when it forbids us to believe Manicheus or Hereticks.

Secondly, It is not enough to follow the Scrip­ture, except also they follow and be assured of the true Sense of Scripture; for as St. Augustin, in tract. 18. in Jo. saith, Heresy springs from no other source, but from good Scripture ill understood, and boldly maintained: And St. Hilary, l. 2. ad Con­stant. August. saith excellently well, That there is no Heretick but maintains his Blasphemies by the Scrip­ture.

If they fay that the Holy Ghost inspires them with the true Sense of the Scriptures, and the right understanding of the Mysteries therein contained.

The Answer is impertinent; for there was never any Heretick, who had not this same Plea.

Secondly, If it be so, why are there so many different Sentiments amongst them, and that in Points of Faith? Can the Holy Ghost be contra­ry to, or contradict himself? Is it possible that [Page 289]he should inspire both truth and falshood?

3ly. who is it that doth not perceive that this answer, were it good, would authorize as many religions, as there are men? for every one will easily say that he hath the Holy Ghost.

Lastly, why do they desire, that others should believe them, whilst they affirm that they have the H. Ghost, having nothing besides there own assertion to justify what they say; since they them­selves refuse to believe the Church, which requires their assent by so just a title, as is the promise made her by the Son of God of the continuall as­sistance of his H. Spirit, even to the end of the world.

We must then conclude, and hold for a cer­tain truth, that it is neither our private judgment, nor our interiour perswasion, however we may, believe it comes from the Holy Ghost, which is capable to serve us as a rule in points of Faith, or can make us see which is a true, and which a false revelation: but it is the sole Testimony of the Catholick Church, and the judgment which she forms of the divine truths, which is and ought to be the rule of our belief. For whilst we submit our selves to her judgment we cannot fall. As we cannot but mistake and err, when tho' never so little we depart from the doctrine of the Church.

We find in the Church four conditions requi­red for the rule of saith: To be a rule, it must at one and the same time be One, Certain, Mani­fest, and Visible.

The Church is One, for as there can be but one Faith, so there can be no more then one true Church, as it is said in the Nicene Creed, Et unam Sanctam Catholicam, & Apostolicam Ecclesiam.

The judgment of the Church is Certain in points of faith, since she can never fail being, as the Apostle saith, the Pillar and ground of truth.

It is Manifest, because clearly proposed, and by word of mouth explained upon occasion of any Emergent difficulty in matters of faith.

The Church for this reason was Established by the Son of God: his will is, that we have re­course unto her in these occasions, according as it was also practiced in the Old Testament, where it is said Mal. 2.7. that the lips of the Priest do con­serve knowledge, and one must seek the Law from his mouth.

And the Apostle assures us, that the same me­thod is to be observed in the New Testament, when he saith, Ephes. 4.11. that the Son of God hath established some Apostles, some Pastours, and other some Doctors for the administration of his word, & for the building up of the body of Jesus Christ, that is his Church. That we may not be like Children wavering in uncertainty, and carried away with every wind of Doctrine. And for this reason also St. Augustin affirms, that in all difficulties which occurr con­cerning any questions or matters of Faith, we must make our addresses to the Church. If any one, saith he, cont. Crescon. fear to be deceived in the obscurity of this question, let him consult the Church. Si quis falli metuit hujus obscuritate questionis, Eccle­siam. de illâ consulat.

Lastly, the Church is Visible, as consisting of Pastours, who have succeeded one another ever since the Apostles, even unto this present time; and as in all ages one might, so at this very time one may easily address himself unto them to be instructed in all what concerns our faith. This [Page 291]is the City, whereof the Son of God speaks Mat. 5.14. which is built upon a Mountain to which all the World may have access, as it was foretold by Isaias. Chap. 2.3. Come and ascend to the moun­tain of our Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob. It will teach us his ways, and we shall walk in his paths, for the Law will come forth of Sion, and the word of our Lord from Jerusalem. It was to this City that St. Augustin, de Ʋnitat. Eecles. c. 14. sent the Donatists, when he said to them, you have the City whereof he himself, who built it, said, that it was a City built upon a Mountain, and could not be hid­den.

I have staid and dilated my self on set purpose upon this Subject of the Rule of Faith, because it is of great concern in this affair, and upon which all the rest, as far as concerns us, depends; it is a Principle and Fundamental Maxim in mat­ters of Faith, That we must hearken to, and o­bey the Church; we must receive the Divine Revelations from her alone, and the Interpreta­tion she gives of the Holy Scripture and Traditi­on; which are the two ways by which as is a­bovesaid, God hath been pleased to convey his Divine Truths, the Mysteries of our Holy Faith, unto us.

Quest. VII. What Qualities or Conditions ought our Faith to have?

IT follows from what we have already said, that Faith to be perfect must have three qua­lities or Conditions; it must be Humble, Ʋni­versal, and Firm or fixed and steddy.

Humble, that is, in matters of Faith we are to submit our selves to the judgment of the Church, and not to be wedded to our proper sense, nor to our interiour persuasion, nor to the judgment of any particular Person, as we have shew'd a­bove. Thus God ordained it in the Old Testa­ment, Deut. 17.8. where he commanded, that in the difficulties which should occurr concerning the performance of the Law, every one should have recourse to the Priests, & follow exactly their decision: and that under pain of Death, in case one should be refractory or disobedient. And in the New Testament he hath decreed, that he who will not hear the Church, shall be accounted as an In­fidel.

Ʋniversal, that is, it ought to comprehend, and believe generally all the truths which are propo­sed by the Church to be believed without ex­cepting any; and the reason is evident; because the Church, which proposeth them, by reason of the assistance of the Holy Ghost, which is promi­sed her without restriction, is equally infallible in all her Judgments, and can be no more decei­ved in the least, then in the greatest Mystery of our Faith: and as St. Augustin, contra Epist. fun­dam. speaking of the Books of the Sacred Scrip­ture, saith excellently well, If I believe the Gospel, I must also necessarily believe the Acts of the Apostles, because the same Authority of the Catholick Church obliges to believe them both. We may say the same of all the other truths, which are proposed by the Church; for if we believe one, we ought al­so to believe the others; because it is the same Authority and the same Church, which propo­ses, and gives us assurance of them both. And the [Page 293]same St. Augustin l. 16. cont. Faust: c. 3. speak­ing of Hereticks, and those, who would give credit to nothing, but their own will. You (says he) who in the Gospell believe, what you please, and what you like not, reject. You rather give credit to your selves, then to the Gospell; because when led by your private Spirit you approve, what pleaseth, and disap­prove what displeases you in Scripture; you do not at all submit your selves to the authority of holy writ there to find out your faith; but rather you subject the Scrip­ture to your selves, to judge of it according to your will.

In fine, Faith ought to be firm, that is fixed, steddy and free from any at least voluntary doubt. And this also for the same reason; the infallible authority of the Church, which proposes unto us the divine truths the objects of our Faith, and cannot be deceived in what she proposes to us. So that there is no more reason to doubt of any one truth, then of all the rest. And there is not a better way to dispell with ease the doubts which arise against any one article of our faith, then to reflect upon the others which one believes with all the certainty imaginable; which yet are no o­therwise grounded then upon the same authority of the Church: for if we do not doubt of those, neither ought we to question these. In all the doubts, which may occur, concerning any point or points of faith, whether they arise from our own imaginations, or spring from occasion of Heresy, new doctrins, or scandall given in the Church, we ought to have recourse to this au­thority as to a secure refuge. A refuge where we shall find the divine Protection against the contradi­ction of evill tongues; as the Psalmist hath it and after him St. Augustin in those excellent words, [Page 294]which he delivers upon that passage of Psa. 30. ex­posi. 2. Serm. 3. Preteges eos in tabernaculo tuo a con­dictione linguarum. If you find tongues which contra­tradict you, heresies raised up against you, and divisions, which oppose you, have recourse to the Tabernacle of God; adhere and stick fast, to the Catholick Church: do not depart from this rule of Truth, and you shall be protected, and guarded from the contradiction of tongues in the Tabernacle of God.

Behold not only a wholsome but also a neces­sary advice, which ought to be practised upon oc­casion of any doubts in faith, and especially in the beginning of any heresy. And had the here­ticks of our time follow'd this good councell, they would never so unfortunately have continued ob­stinate in their errour, or drawn others into the same ruin, as they have done.

CHAP. II. Of the things we are obliged to believe.

WE shall reduce them to four heads. 1. The Divinity or what we are obliged to believe of God. 2. The Incarnation, or the Humanity of the Son of God, which shall com­prehend what we are to be believe of Jesus Christ. 3. The Church. 4. The Sacraments. These four things are all contained in the Apostles Creed.

ARTICLE. I. What are we oblig'd to believe of God?

FOur things.

The First, I believe in God, that God is: that is, that there is one only true God, who is an un­created Being, Eternall, Independent, Infinite in perfections, in Knowledge, in Power, in Wis­dom, in Goodness, in Justice, and in all other things.

Secondly, The Father Almighty, and in his only Son, I believe in the Holy Ghost, that in God there are three Persons, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. That all these three are but one true God, having the self same divine Essence, the self same Wisdom, the self same Goodness, the self same Power, and so of the other divine perfections. That the Son the Eternal Word proceeds from the understanding of the Father by a perfect Knowledge, which the Father con­ceives of himself; by which he expresses his I­mage in the Son. And the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son by a Mutuall love, which they bear one another. That these Pro­cessions do not cause any inequality, or depen­dence or priority amongst the Divine Persons, who are all Equall and Eternall; as being all but one only true God; One in Nature, and three in Persons.

Thirdly, Creator of Heaven and Earth. That God is the authour and creator of all things, that he hath made both Heaven and Earth and all the [Page 296]creatures therein, whether visible or invisible, of nothing by his only word. That he conserves them by his power, and governs them by his wisdom.

Fourthly, Life Everlasting. That as he is the be­ginning and first cause, so also he is the end of all things, and particularly of Men and Angels: whom he created to adore and serve him; and for whom he hath prepared eternall happiness, which will consist in this, that the blessed shall see him perfectly, and enjoy him as he is in himself, and this enjoyment shall endure for all eternity: it shall never, no never end.

ARTICLE II. What are we obliged to believe of Jesus Christ?

FOR the greater facility, and distinctions sake, we shall divide this Article into Que­stions.

Quest. I. What is Jesus Christ? And in Jesus Christ his only Son.

HE is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who was Incarnate, that is made Man for us men and for our Salva­tion. But

Quest. II. Why was he made Man?

TO redeem man from the Sentence of ever­lasting death, which we had all incurred by disobedience of the first man; and to give full sa­tisfaction to the Divine Justice, as well for that first, or Original Sin, as for all the rest, which have been committed ever since by other men.

Quest. III. This Incarnation in what doth it consist? Who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary.

IT consists in the strict and personal union of the Eternall word with human nature: that is, with a mortall body and an immortall Soul, such as we have; from which union there results a compound, whom we call Jesus Christ, true God, and at the same time true man.

Whence it plainly follows that in Jesus Christ there are two Natures, and one only Person, viz. the one divine, the other humane nature, both united in one & the same Person of the Son of God, or the eternal word: whereas on the contrary in the divinity there is but one Nature, & three Persons.

By this Union the Divinity was neither chan­ged into the Humanity, nor the Humanity into the Divinity of our Lord; for that is impossible: But both natures enjoying either of them their own perfections, were strictly united in the per­son of the Son of God. So that continuing what he was, that is God, he became what he was not, viz. [Page 298]Man, as St. Leo, Sermone, de Nativ. Dom. expresses himself, Manens quod erat, assumpserat quod non erat.

Quest. IV. How was this Divine Ʋnion accomplished?

WHen the fulness of time was come that God had decreed to send his Son for the redemption of Mankind, he dismis'd from Heaven an Angell Messenger to the Blessed Virgin (whom above all others he had chosen, and in whom he had ordain'd, this adorable mystery should be perform'd) to declare unto her it was his will, that she should be the temporall Mother of the Son of God.

She had no sooner yielded, and concurr'd with her consent to the accomplishing of the will of God thus manifested unto her, but the Almighty power frames in her Virginal womb an humane body out of her purest blood, creating in the same instant a rationall Soul to animate and in­form it; and in that same moment the Word, who from all eternity terminates the Divinity, began in time to terminate the Humanity of our Lord, Uniting in his Person the two, divine & humane, Natures. And thus was fulfill'd that divine truth recorded by St. John, Verbum caro factum est. The word was made Flesh.

The Blessed Virgin having thus conceived the Son of God, by the speciall work of the Holy Ghost, at the end of nine months she brings him forth into the world, nourishes, maintains and breeds him up as other mothers use to do their Children: and the Son of God lived with her thus unknown to the world untill the age of [Page 299]thirty years; thenceforward only he began to manifest himself, and to commence the work of our redemption for which he came.

Quest. V. What is it that the Son of God hath done for our Redemption.?

HE did four principall things, first he preach­ed publickly his Gospell during the space of three years and some months, confirming the truth of his Doctrine, his Mission, and his Divi­nity by an infinite number of miracles.

Secondly, he Suffer'd under Pontius Pilate a most bitter Passion and death upon the Cross; upon which he offer'd himself a Sacrifice in satisfaction to the divine Justice for the Sins of all mankind, and recompensation for the infinite injury, which thereby was done to the divine Majesty & Good­ness; and by this means to open the gates of E­verlasting life for man to enter, which till that time were shut against both Adam and all his Po­sterity: Having performed this duty, the third day he rose again from the dead; and after that by fre­quent apparitions he had proved the truth of his Resurrection for the space of forty days, he Ascend­ed glorious and triumphant into Heaven, from whence at the end of the World he shall come to judge both the quick and the dead, all men according to their merits; who for that end shall be raised from death to life and appear before him, never more to die, but receive either an Eternal Re­ward for their good, or everlasting Punishment for their evil works.

Thirdly, he establish'd and confirm'd his [Page 300]Church consisting of almost innumerable men, Pastors and their Flock, who should believe in him, and continue in an uninterrupted Succession to the end of the world; which Church, Act. 20.28. he purchased with his blood.

Fourthly, he instituted the Sacraments as the means to convey unto us the merits of his Passi­on; and as so many pretious Vessels, wherein is preserved the price of that adorable blood, which he hath so abundantly shed for us; to the end it might be applied unto us, according as the neces­sity of our Salvation should require.

And for as much as these two last heads require a larger Explication; we shall treat of them here in two distinct Articles.

ARTICLE III. What are we oblig'd to believe concerning the Church?

I Believe the Holy Catholique Church, the Commu­nion of Saints.

We must first believe that it is the Mysticall Body of which Jesus Christ is the Head; or a Congregation of the Faithfull holding the same Doctrin or Faith, which he taught, using the same Sacraments, which he instituted, living un­der the conduct of the Apostles and succeeding Pastours, and acknowledging the same visible Head, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the Chief Bishop and true Successor of St. Peter.

Secondly, that there is but one Church, as there is but one God, one Faith, one Baptism, as [Page 301]St. Paul, Ephes. 4.4. saith, unum corpus, & unus Spiritus, unus Dominus, una Fides, unum Baptisma, unus Deus & Pater omnium. He that doth not conserve this Ʋnion, saith St. Cyprian, de unitat. Eccles. how can he believe that he hath Faith? he who opposes and resists the Church; who abandons the Chair of St. Peter, upon which the Church is built, how can he hope that he is in the Church? since the blessed Apostle teacheth this same thing, and shewing the sacred tye of Ʋnity, affirming, that there is but one body, (that is the Church) as there is but one Spirit, who governs it.

Thirdly, that this is that only Church, which acknowledgeth the Pope for her visible head, whom Jesus Christ hath appointed to govern her, and to be the source and Center of her Unity here on Earth: which made St. Cyprian say, ibid. that Heresies and Schisms spring from hence, that some will not acknowledge in the Church one whom Jesus Christ constituted head over the rest in those words, which he spoke to St. Peter, Thou art Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church: and I will give to thee the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and in ano­ther place, feed my Sheep: Ʋpon one man, con­tinues St. Cyprian, Ibid. he builds his Church, and gives him charge to feed his Flock. And although he bestow'd an equal authority upon the Apostles as far as concerns the remission of Sins: Yet that the Ʋnity of the Church might more clearly appear, he hath ordain'd one Chair; and it was his will that the Ʋnity take its Original and beginning from one man: and a little after he saith, that the Primacy was given to St. Peter, to shew that the Church of Christ, and the Chair was one. St. Hierome L. 1. in Jovinian, says the same thing, viz. That St. Peter [Page 302]was preferred before the other Apostles, to be the head of the Church; to the end that the head being one, all occasion of division in the Church might be removed.

Fourthly, we are obliged to believe that there is no Salvation for any one out of this one true Church. It is an Article of Faith, which hath been held constantly in the Church; this having always been an unquestion'd and current Maxim; that he who will not have the Church for his Mother shall not have God for his Father. Which was the reason why St. Hierome finding himself in the East, where there was some division upon this Subject, the names of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, writ to Pope Damasus, Epi. 57. that he was resolved never to depart from him, but inseparably to unite himself unto him, as to one, who held the Chair of St. Peter, upon which says he, I know that the Church is built. Adding that the Church thus built is the only house, where it is lawfull to Eat the Paschal Lamb, the Ark of Noah out of which during the Flood none were saved, he, that doth not gather with the Pope, scattereth that is, he who is not united to Jesus Christ, doth associate himself with Anti-Christ.

Fifthly, we are also obliged to believe that this true Church is Infallible in her judgments in matters of Faith and Doctrine concerning man­ners: whether she be or be not assembled in the persons of her Pastours and Head: viz. the Pope, and Bishops, she holds universally one and the same Doctrine. This is also an Article of Faith grounded upon the word of the Son of God, who hath promised that the gates of Hell shall never prevail against her, his Church: from whence it [Page 303]follows that she never either fell, or ever shall fall into the least error in points of faith: she being as the Apostle affirms the Pillar and ground of truth. But we have already prov'd this truth above in the first Article.

Now from all what we have said, both in the first Article, and in the present question, it fol­lows that we must conclude and hold this for a certain and infallible truth, that all saithfull Christians, whosoever desire to be assured in points of faith, and sound Doctrine concerning Manners, and to avoid error in a matter of so great concern, must of necessity adhere and stick close solely & inseperably to the Holy Catholick, Apostolick, and Roman Church, and hear and follow her Judgment and Doctrine in all things.

ARTICLE IV. What are we obliged to believe concerning the Sacraments?

I Believe the Remission of Sins. We are obliged to believe what the Church hath always taught concerning the Sacraments, viz. First, that they are the means instituted by God, thereby either to confer his Grace upon us, or to augment, what we have already received, or to restore what we had lost, as it is expressed in the Coun­cill of Trent, Sess. 7. Proaem.

Secondly, that a Sacrament may be rightly de­fined in this manner; a Visible signe of invisible grace instituted by God for our sanctification.

3. That this Visible sign consists, and is, as it [Page 304]were composed of two parts, viz. the sensible thing, which is applyed in the Sacrament, as water in Baptism: and the words which are pronounced, as in the same Beptism these words. I baptize thee &c. according to that received doctrine delivered by St. Augustin, Accedit verbum ad Elementum & fit Sacramentum. By the joyning of the words with the Element, or Material thing, the Sacrament be­comes compleat. One of these two parts is called the matter, the other the form of the Sacrament.

4. That the Sacrament being applyed by a lawfull Minister, either gives or augments Sancti­fying Grace in the Soul of the worthy receiver.

5. That there are Seven Sacraments: viz. Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, Matrimony.

Baptism makes us the Children of Jesus Christ, Washing us from the Stains of Original sin, and enlivening our Soul with the Life of Grace, whence St. Paul calls Baptism, Tit. 3.5. the laver of regeneration, and the renovation of the Holy Ghost.

Confirmation strengthens us, and conserves, and confirms us in the faith we received in Baptism.

The Holy Eucharist is the nourishment of the Soul, for as by Meat and Drink our decayed Spirits are revived; so by the use of the Blessed Sacrament those damages, which Charity dayly suffers from humane frailty are repaired.

Penance restores us to the Grace of God, which we had lost by sin.

Extreme Unction gives us strength at the hour of death, that we may be the better able to fight against our Ghostly Enemy in that last Moment, upon which Eternily depends; it is a remedy a­gainst [Page 305]Spirituall weakness contracted by our for­mer Sins.

Order consecrates the Ministers of Christ, and gives them power to conferr the Sacraments.

Matrimony sanctifies the contract betwixt man and woman, and gives them grace to comply with the obligations which they draw upon themselves by that indissoluble Bond instituted by God for the propagation of Mankind; and raised to the dignity of a Sacrament by our Sa­viour Christ.

Altho' all or every one of the Sacraments do cause sanctifying grace, yet they do not every one produce it in the same manner; for there are two, viz. Baptism and Penance, in­stituted for the remission of Sins, which conferr it upon those, whom they find void of grace; from whence it is that they are called the Sacraments of the dead; that is to say of those, who are dead in the sight of God in the state of Mortal Sin, whom they raise up from that death to the life of grace; whereas all the rest are called the Sacraments of the living, in as much, as they en­crease the grace they find precedently in the Soul; and to receive any one of these worthily it is necessary that we be in the state of grace.

The Soul by each Sacrament is not only sancti­fied by habitual, but also endowed with actual grace, that is, with a vigour and strength to­wards the compassing of those particular effects, for which it was first instituted and ordained.

Moreover there are three, which imprint a character in the Soul; Baptism, Confirmation, and Order: this Character is a Spiritual Mark or Seal which God makes in his Soul, who receives [Page 306]any of these three Sacraments; which impressi­on, because it can never be rased out, none of these three Sacraments can be reiterated, or recei­ved the second time by the same Person without a Sacrilege.

CHAP. III. Of the Holy Eucharist.

ALL what we have said hitherto, whether of Faith in general, or in particular of the Divinity it self, of the Incarnation of the Son of God, of the Holy Church, and of the Sacraments, serve only as so many steps or dispositions to the belief of the Blessed Sacrament of the Al­tar, and to render the understanding of this a­dorable Mystery more easy to us; which there­fore we shall here endeavour to explain as brief and short, as possibly we may.

I shall reduce all whatsoever we are obliged to know concerning it into four heads. 1. The re­al prefence of the Son of God in the Sacrament. 2. The Wonders inseparably annext unto it. 3. The effects, which it is capable to produce. 4. The dispositions necessary to receive it.

ARTICLE I. Of the real presence of the Son of God in the Holy Eucharist, and of what we are to believe concerning this Sacrament.

WE are obliged to believe, that it is a Sa­crament instituted by Jesus Christ, wherein he gives us really and truly his Body and Blood under the species or exteriour appearance of Bread and Wine for our Spiritual nourish­ment and refection.

There is not any one particle of this general Assertion or Tenet of our Faith, which doth not require to be well and distinctly understood; and for this reason I shall explain every one of them in order, as they lie.

First then, we believe that it is a Sacrament; that is, a visible sign of invisible grace instituted by God for our sanctification.

Secondly, we believe that this Sacrament con­tains really Jesus Christ all whole and entire, that is, his Body and Blood, his Soul, and Divinity.

Thirdly, that under the Species, in the Sacra­ment, there remains nothing of the substance, but only the appearance of Bread and Wine; both substances being truly changed into the Body and Blood of the Son of God: so that what we see of Bread and Wine, as bigness, figure, co­lour, smell, taste, &c. are only the accidents and the outward and sensible appearance of Bread and Wine.

Fourthly, that it is He, God by his Almighty [Page 308]Power, who works this wonderfull change by vertue of the words of Consecration, This is my Body, this is my Blood, in that very moment, in which the Priest in the Person of Jesus Christ makes an end of the pronunciation of them.

Fifthly, That in vertue of these Divine words the Body of the Son of God becomes really pre­sent under the species of Bread, not by it self, or all alone, but together with his Blood, his Soul, and Divinity: and his Blood also under the spe­cies of Wine, not singly by it self, but accom­panied with his Body, his Soul, and his Divini­ty; with this difference that the Body becomes present there under the species of Bread precise­ly and directly by the vertue and signification of the words, and the rest, that is to say, the Blood, Soul, and Divinity, are there by concomitance only, and by a necessary consequence: because the Son of God being alive, and the Divinity al­ways inseparably united to his Humanity, where­soever his Body is, there also is his Blood, his Soul, and his Divinity.

The same is to be said of his Blood, which be­comes present under the species of Wine di­rectly by the signification of the words; and his Body, his Soul, and his Divinity are also there by a necessary sequel and concomitance.

Sixthly, That Jesus Christ continues whole and entire under the species of Bread and Wine, in a Spiritual manner, that is, without his Quantity and natural extension, after the manner of a Spi­rit, that is, whole in the whole Host, and whole in every part of the Host; so that he is there invisible, indivisible, and impassible.

And therefore when the Host is divided, the [Page 309]Son of God is not divided, nor broken; but he continues entire in each small particle of the Host, as he was before the division in the whole; and he who receives any tho' the least part of the Host, receives Jesus Christ whole and entire, as much as if he had received the whole.

ARTICLE II. Of the Wonders which occurr in this Sacrament.

MAny and almost innumerable are the Won­ders, and Miracles, which God works by his Almighty Power in this great Mystery, whereof seven are more remarkable.

The First is, that the Son of God in that very moment the words are pronounced becomes re­ally present in the Eucharist: and without de­parting from Heaven where he still remains, his Body becomes truly present in the Sacred Host, where before the Consecration it never was.

The Second which follows from the First, is, that the Body of the Son of God is at one and the same time truly in many places; and in as many, as there are Consecrated Hosts.

The Third is, this admirable change of the substance of Bread and Wine into the substance of the Body and Blood of the Son of God; so that at the moment of Consecration the Bread is no more Bread, and the Wine is no more Wine. Before Consecration, saith St. Ambrose, l. 4. de Sa­cram. c. 4. the Bread is Bread, after Consecration, of Bread it becomes the Body of Christ.

The Fourth Miracle is, that the accidents of [Page 310]Bread and Wine after the Consecration subsist separate from their proper substance, which 'till then sustained them, God by his Omnipotence preserving them thus in being.

The Fifth is, that the Body of the Son of God is all whole, entire and perfect in the Host, yet without taking up any place as other Bodies do, but after a Spiritual manner; so that it is whole and totally entire in the whole Host, and also whole and totally entire in each part of every Host, after the manner of Spiritual things; as for example, the Soul, which is all whole and en­tire in the whole, and all whole and entire in e­very part of the Body: from whence it follows of necessity that the body of the Son of God, is as entire under the least, as under the greatest part of the Host, and he, who receives but one part of the Host, receives as much, as he who re­ceives the whole.

The Sixth which follows from the former, that tho' the Host be divided or broken into ma­ny Parts, the Body of the Son of God is neither divided nor broken, because being Indivisible he continues in each part, as he was before.

The Seventh is, when the Host is consumma­ted, the Body of the Son of God is not consum­mated nor corrupted; that altogether divine Body being incapable of any alteration: what happens to it in that moment is only this; it leaves or ceaseth to be in the Sacrament, when the accidents of Bread or Wine are Corrupted and cease to be any longer the Accidents of Bread and Wine.

All these and innumerable other wonders with which this Sacrament abounds, and which it is [Page 311]impossible to relate, much more to comprehend, oblige us to look upon it, as an Abridgment of all the wonderfull effects of the Almighty Power, according to that of David. Psalm. 110.4. (where so long before by a Prophetick Spirit he foretold, that God, as a speciall token of his Mercy, had made an abridgment of his Marvells in giving Meat to them that fear him) and to behold it as the most endearing pledge, which our Redeemer, as the Council of Trent hath it, Sess. 13. c. 2. being ready to depart from this World to his Father, sum­ming up, as we may say, all the riches of his divine love to men, most liberally bestowed upon us.

ARTICLE III. Of the Effects of the Holy Eucharist.

FRom what hath been said, it is easy to judge of the great effects this Sacrament is capable and ordain'd to produce in the Soul of every re­ceiver. For as God hath wrought all these so im­mense, and so incomprehensible wonders for our sakes; it must needs be that they were de­sign'd to work in us most powerfull effects of his Grace.

The Son of God by his infinite wisdom hath comprised them all in one word, saying Jo. 6.56. that his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed, and that he who eateth his body and drinks his blood remains in him, and he, Jesus, interchange­ably remains in him who eats him.

From these divine words it follows that the flesh of the Son of God, as a Divine nourishment works in the Soul of the worthy receiver, the [Page 312]same effects Spiritually, which the best Cor­poral nourishment produceth corporally in the body of those, who take it. Now the ef­fects of corporal nourishment are four or five. 1. It conserves life. 2. It makes one grow or en­crease. 3. It fortifies us. 4. It preserves us against distempers. Infine, it gives us strength to be able to labour, and to comply with all our respective duties.

By these we may judge of the effects of the Holy Eucharist.

The first is to conserve Grace, which is the life of the Soul, and therefore it is called the Bread of Life, the Bread which gives Life unto the World.

The Second, is to augment the same grace, and encrease the Christian Virtues, Faith, Hope, and Charity. This effect however it be common to all the Sacraments; yet it is more peculiar to this, as being more particularly instituted for the nou­rishment of the Soul, and to make us increase and proceed from Virtue to Virtue till we come to the house of God.

The third, is to strengthen us against sin, and the temptations, which incline that way, hence the Councill of Trent affirm'd, Sess. 13. c. 2. that this Sacrament is a preservative against Mortal, and a remedy against Venial Sin.

The fourth effect is, that it heals the distem­pers, that is, the passions, and disorderly affecti­ons of the Soul. It weakens concupiscence, or gives new strength to overcome it. It diminishes Choler, Envy, Pride, and other Vices, as St. Ber­nard, Serm. de Coena Domini, excellently well ob­serves: If any one, says he, does not find so frequent, [Page 313]or so violent motions of Anger, Envy, Impurity, or of other like passions, let him give thanks to the body and blood of our Lord; for it is the vertue of the Sacra­ment, which produces in him these effects: and let him rejoyce, that the worst of Ʋlcers begin to heal.

Lastly, the Holy Eucharist gives perseverance in the grace of God, and in the way of Salvation, in the midst of the various & imminent dangers, which we encounter in this Life, and particularly when we draw near death; whence it was given sometimes to Martyrs when they were ready to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ: and the Church always takes care to Communicate the sick, when they are in danger of Death, that so they may be Strengthened in that dangerous passage, and happily arrive at the haven of Salvation by means of this divine nourishment, then called the Via­ticum, which is as much as to say, the Provision for that voiage.

All these admirable effects evidently prove the greatness and excellence of this divine Sa­crament, and ought effectually to move us fre­quently to approach unto it, and not neglect so many and so signal favours, as God there pre­sents unto us. Yet we are to take notice, that it doth not produce these Effects, except in such persons, as are rightly disposed to receive it, as it deserves.

Of these dispositions we will now discourse.

ARTICLE IV. Of the dispositions required to Communicate well and as we ought.

WE shall inferr the dispositions from the same principle, from which we gathered the effects, viz. from the nature of the nourish­ment and Spiritual food we receive in the Holy Euchrist: and as it produces the same effects in the Soul, that food doth into the Body, so also it requives proportionable dispositions in the Soul, that nourishment doth to be beneficial to the Body.

Now Corporall nourishment, we know re­quires three dispositions, Life, Health, & Action; for a dead body is uncapable to be nourished, an infirm Stomack can never make a good digestion, nor is it possible to convert the food into our sub­stance except that health be accompanied with our action; which is the reason, that the body to be nourished requires to be alive, to be sound and well, and to have an action of its own.

Thus the Eucharist, that Celestiall food re­quires three dispositions in the Soul, and without them it doth no good, but harm.

The first is Sanctifying Grace, which is the life of the Soul, as mortall Sin is the death incom­patible with it, depriving us of this Supernatu­ral life of the Soul: Without this life the Soul not only receives no benefit from Communion, but suffers also much detriment from this holy Table; inofmuch as she becomes guilty of a new [Page 315]mortall Sin, a Sacriledge, which she commits by inviting the Authour of Life into the habitation of Death, the author of Light into the place of Darkness; and Jesus Christ into the company of the Devil. This made St. Paul 1 Cor. 21.28. ad­vertise all Communicants to examen themselves well, when they approach to this holy table; be­cause, saith the Apostle, he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself.

The Second disposition is the interiour Health of the Soul, which requires 1st, that she be free from any affection to veniall Sin. 2ly. that she be not actually moved either with Passions or Af­fections, which may hinder her in her applica­tion, and address to Jesus Christ. And altho' these defects do not render the Communicant ab­solutely unworthy, or the Communion Sacrile­gious, yet they cause very ill effects and consider­ably diminish the fruits, which otherwise it would produce. They hinder the Soul from digesting this sacred food by good thoughts and holy affe­ctions. And as nutriment, which lies indigested upon the Stomack, begets crudities, and causes Sickness in the body; so this divine sustenance by means of these indispositions becomes preju­dicial to the Soul. Thereby we contract tepidity and coldness in devotion, Charity and other Vir­tues are considerably diminish'd, our good acti­ons weak and feeble, our selves by degrees insen­sible of all good things which conduce to Piety. And thus by degrees at last we are often brought into mortall Sin.

The Third disposition is Action, that is actual devotion. To receive the fruits of this Sacrament, it is not sufficient that we be not indisposed, or [Page 316]that we do not put any obstacle to its effects; it is necessary also that in this so religious an action, wherein we receive the Holy of Holys, and the Author of Holiness it self, we concur with dis­positions of our own; which consist in the pra­ctice of Christian Virtues. Of which we shall speak below in the Second Part of this Instruction.

ARTICLE V. Of an Ʋnworthy Communion.

AN ancient Lawgiver being ask'd why he had made no Laws against Paricides, made answer, because he esteemed that crime impossi­ble; that there could not be found Children, so degenerate and unnaturall, as to attempt the life of their own Parents.

I would to God we could say the same with truth in the point of Instruction concerning un­worthy Communion, or that we could truly say that it is not necessary to advertise Christians to avoid that so horrid Sacriledge, because it is im­possible for a man professing himself a Christian ever to be guilty of so enormous a crime against our Saviour Jesus Christ.

But Alas! the contrary is too true: and this crime tho' a thousand times greater, yet is much more common amongst Christians then that of Paricide: They have an horror (and with good reason) to deprive those of breath, from whom they receiv'd their life; yet they are not appre­hensive to Murder and Crucifie again, as much as in them lies, our Saviour Christ, by receiving [Page 317]him into an impure & perfidious Breast. Nature hath imprinted in them a profound and lasting respect for those from whom they have received only a Mortal and fading life; But they easily forget the Reverence they owe to Jesus Christ, notwithstanding he nourisheth them with his own substance, his pretious Blood, and offers them by his presence a Spiritual and immortal, and a pledge of everlasting life.

O God, Theotime, is it possible then that there should be found Souls capable of so black a deed, so horrible a Crime? Surely they are only those, who either have no Faith; or such as have never considered the enormity of the Sin, who can commit it; for he must surpass the very Devils in malice, who falls into such a Sin, if he have but the least knowledge, how grievous and great it is; and what dreadfull consequences do follow from it. Two points I therefore design to dis­course of in this place.

I will set forth the enormity of this Sin from three heads.

1. From that remarkable saying of our Lord himself, Mat. 7.6. Do not give that which is Holy unto Dogs. If it be a great Sacrilege to give to Dogs things consecrated to God; what Crime must it needs be to give the Holy of Holies unto a Soul an enemy of God, more impure and filthy then the very Dogs? and what Sin must it be in those to receive the Body of our Lord, who being no better then Dogs, as it is said in the A­pocalypse, and under this notion excluded from the Sanctuary: Foris canes & impudici, yet have the impudence to eat the Bread of Children, the Bread of the very Angels themselves. Ecce panis Angelorum, [Page 318]vere panis filioram non mittendus canibus.

2. From that so famed Doctrine and signal admonition of St. Paul, 1. Cor. 11.27. Whosoever ones the Bread, and drinks the Chalice of our Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of our Lord. This Sentence is a Thunder, which ought to terrify all those who are so miserably unfortumate as to Communicate in Mortal Sin: For he saith they are guilty of the Body and Blood of the Son of God: that is, they despise and treat in juriously this adorable Body and Blood, whilst they receive it in a profane place, in the Temple of Satan, in a Soul polluted with Mor­tal Sin.

It is particularly verified in this occasion what St. Paul relates elsewhere, Heb. 6.6. this is to Crucisy Jesus Christ again; to scoff at him, to trample him under ones feet, and contemn his Blood in that very action by which one ought to sanctify his holy name. Can we think of these things without trembling and horror? We ne­ver call to mind without a certain horror and eversion the inhumane methods the Jews and Sol­diets a sed against our Saviour Jesus Christ in the time of his bitter Passion; and can we be so in­sensible in our own case, as not to detest those affronts we offer him even worse then the Jews did whilst we unworthily receive him? For be­sides, that they Luo. 23.34. knew not what they did; we know and confess him to be the Son of God, whom we offend.

St. Chrisostome explaining these words of St. Paul. 1. Cor. 11. Whosoever shall eat the Bread or drink the Cup of our Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and Blood of our Lord. Why so? suith [Page 319]this Holy Father, hom. 27. and his answer is, be­cause he hath spilt the Blood, and by that action he hath not offered a Sacrifice, but committed a Mur­ther; for he who approaches unworthily to this Divine Table and receives no Fruit from thence, resembles them, who formerly pierced the Body of our Lord, not to drink but to shed his Blood. And, hom. 60. Consi­der, saith he, what just Indignation you conceive a­gainst him who betrayed Jesus Christ, and against those who Crucified him: therefore consider lest you also be equally culpable and guilty of the Body and Blood of the Son of God. It is true, they kill'd his most Sacred Body, but you after so many and so often re­peated benefits bestowed upon you, receive him into an unclean and polluted Soul.

St. Cyprian before him had said that unworthy Communicants offer Violence to the Body of Jesus Christ, and that this sin is a more grievous offence in the sight of God, then it is for a Chri­stian to abjure him in the presence of Infidels.

The Third from hence, which you ought ne­ver to forget, that the sin of an unworthy Com­munion is the sin of Judas. It was he who first committed it, and those who fall into it since imi­tate his Example and become his Disciples. They receive him, as he did, in a Criminall and guilty Soul: They betray him not indeed to the Jews, but which is worse to the Devil, who in­habits in them. What punishment ought they not to dread from such an Enormous Crime? Ought they not to remember how that perfidi­ous Apostle was immediately possessed by the De­vil in the moment, that be received Jesus Christ? for since they imitate him in his Sin, they cannot avoid being partaker of his punishment, as we are about to shew you.

The dammages which follow from an unworthy Communion.

SUch a mischievous cause cannot but produce most fatal effects.

The death of the Soul, which infallibly it brings with it, is the first evil which follows from it: Mors est malis, vita bonis. This death is an en­crease or extension of that other, wherein the Soul lay buried before by the Sin in which he re­ceiv'd the Sacrament: It is a further banishment from the grace of God, and a further disheart­ning and exposing her to the Power of Satan.

From this Death follow other most dismal & lamentable effects: as the fall into new Sins; the blindness of Spirit; the encrease of vices and passions, which makes a Soul to groan under the Yoke of her Captivity, and hinder her from re­turning again to God by true Repentance.

The Prophet hath comprised these effects in few words, Psalm. 68.23. when speaking a­gainst the enemies of Jesus Christ, he prays to God, that their Table may prove a snare to them, and an occasion of scandal: That they may become blind, so that they may not see their own good: That they may always stoop under the Yoke of a miserable Servitude.

If those, who persecuted Jesus Christ without knowing him, are punished so severely, what ought not Christians to expect, when they treat him so ill in his own Person whom they know?

Histories are full of examples of divers pu­nishments which God hath laid upon this so de­testabie a Sin.

Saint Paul the first of all 1. Cor. 11.30. attri­butes, as the effects of unworthy Communions, the great number of distempers, Sicknesses, and Deaths with which the Corinthians were afflicted.

Saint Cyprian delapsis, affirms that in his time there were many, whose bodies were delivered over to be possess'd by the Devil, for that they had Communicated unworthily; and also that many had lost their judgment, and become distracted and mad upon the same account.

And Saint Chrisostome also assures us that the same thing happen'd in his time.

The same St. Cyprian reports that a Christian woman having partaken in private of the Sacri­fices of the Idols, and coming not long after to Communicate with the Christians, she had no sooner received the Son of God, but she found her self tormented, as if she had taken poyson, and dyed in the presence of all there.

He speaks of another who being willing to re­ceive the precious body of the Son of God, her self being in an evil state, as she open'd the ves­sel in which it was enclosed, there issued out a flame of fire, which hindred her, so that she was not able to receive it. And another Christian go­ing about to do the same, instead of the Con­secrated host, which he expected to have found in the place, where he had reserved it, he found nothing else but ashes.

He himself also recounts this Passage, how that a little Child, to whom his Pagan nurse had caus'd a little wine consecrated to the Idols to be given, being afterwards carried by his mother unto the Church at the time of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, was not able to swallow one drop of the [Page 322]consecrated wine, which the Deacon had put in­to his mouth. The Sacred Eucharist, saith this ho­ly Father, ibid. could not endure to stay in a body and mouth defiled and profaned, by the only touch of a forbidden drink. But if it could not stay in this body, whose Soul was altogether innocent; what may we say of those, whose Souls are altogether guilty and polluted.

I could relate a vast number of other examples; but it would be too long & tedious, & these are sufficient to make every one reflect, as the same St. Cyprian considers, that if he have not as yet received the same punishment for his unworthy Communion (if he have been guilty of it) he hath nevertheless deserv'd it, as much as they. Let every one consider, saith this Holy Father, not so much the punishment, which another hath received, as what he himself hath deserved; and that he do not believe he hath avoided the chastisement, because as yet it is something delayed; since he ought rather to be much more afraid, to whom God in his just judg­ment hath deferred the punishment of his Sins to a longer time.

ARTICLE VI. Of the end we ought to propose to our selves in the Holy Communion.

BEsides the purity of Conscience, it is necessa­ry, that we have that of rectitude of Inten­tion to Communicate well: for it is most cer­tain that an action how good soever it may be in it self, looseth its worth and value by the default of a good Intention: and it becomes evil and vi­tious, [Page 323]if the Intention be such, and if it be done for an evil end.

This being true in all good actions, whatsoever, it is still much more in this of Communion; forasmuch as it is certain, that nothing, but what is pure and holy, ought to draw near and receive purity and holyness it self: and that it is a contempt of the greatness and sanctity of God, to approach unto him upon any other mo­tive, then that of pleasing him and meriting his grace and favour.

For this reason in the Old Testament it was his will that none should serve himself upon his Altar of any other then Holy Fire, which he had ordained for the use of the Sacrifices: And he punished with sudden death the two Sons of Aaron, who were so rash as there to make use of Prophane Fire; by this figure we learn, that for one to approach unto him, it is not sufficient to be holy, but it is also necessary that one bring with him an Intention altogether pure and holy, and that an evil and Prophane Intention doth grievously offend him upon this occasion.

We must then approach unto the Holy Com­munion with an Intention totally pure, and pro­pose to our selves an end altogether holy in this so great and so august an action: Now that we may perform this duty, two things are necessary.

The first is, that one propose to himself no evil thing, as the motive and cause of his Com­munion; as Hypocrisy, to dissemble and con­ceal some fault with an appearance of Piety; Va­nity, to be esteemed virtuous; Humane respect, lest he should displease any one, or to please men rather then God. These three motives are but [Page 324]too frequent amongst those, who are not suffi­ciently instructed concerning the Intention, which we ought to have in our Communion, and par­ticularly among young People. Wherefore they ought to have special care to avoid them. The first is the greatest fault, and ordinarily speaking renders the Communion Sacrilegious, the other two deprives one of the best part of the fruit, it otherwise would produce.

Secondly, This intention must be directed to the Service of God, and our Salvation. to God, to please him the more, and to unite our selves thereby more strictly to him; to our Salvation, to promote it by obtaining by means of the Holy Communion the Graces, which we stand most in need of, as to amend our faults, to resist temp­tations; to fix and confirm us more in the pra­ctice of Virtues.

The two ends we find in our Lords prayer; where the three first Petitions contain what we can wish, for the greater honour and glory of God; and the other four comprehend, what is necessary for our Salvation. And it is a very pro­fitable exercise to propose to our selves for the end of our Communion, the obtaining of the grace of God, for the accomplishment of the Seven demands, which make up, & compose it, or of which this divine Prayer consists.

It is also good to add to this general intention, some particular end, according to our present necessities; as to obtain some particular grace we stand in need of, to correct in our selves some fault, and to advance in some particular Virtue.

Lastly, The right and Religious intention, [Page 325]which we ought to have in Communion, is the very same, which Christ proposed to himself, when he first instituted this divine Sacrament. Now his intention was, as he himself declared, that he might remain in us, and we in him. He dwells in us by his Grace, and the assistance of his holy Inspirations; and we remain in him by love, and the obedience we render to him: pro­pose to your self this end, and you shall Commu­nicate according to the Intention and Will of Jesus Christ.

PART II. Of the Practice of Communion, Or, What we must do to Communicate well, and as we ought.

NExt to the purity of Conscience, and the sin­cerity of Intention, both which are ne­cessary to Communicate worthily, as we have al­ready said; there remains a third disposition, that we may Communicate with more Fruit, and get a larger portion of his grace; and it is actu­al Devotion, which we ought to have when we Communicate.

There are almost infinite ways to practice this devotion, which several Books teach in several manners: But I am persuaded, there is none more profitable, and at the same time more solid, then that which is reduced to the practice of the three Theological Virtues, Faith, Hope, & Charity.

These three comprehend the practice of all o­ther Christian Virtues: And as it is necessary that our Souls be possessors of them to be in a condition to Communicate worthily and as we ought, that is in the State of Grace: One can­not better receive Jesus Christ, nor afford him a more gratefull entertainment, then if, when he actually Communicates, he practice the acts of these three great and Divine Virtues, as we shall shew in the three following Chapters.

CHAP. I. Of Faith inasmuch as it serves for Communion.

ARTICLE I. How necessary it is, and in what manner.

WE have already declar'd in the first part, that Faith is a gift of God, by which we believe the truth, which he hath revealed unto us. And this makes us to remark a distinction, which we must observe, as well in this virtue, as in the other two, viz. betwixt Faith, as it is a Virtue, and the same as it is an Action.

The Virtue of faith is that interiour light, which is given us by God, that we may know and believe the truth.

The Action or act, is the actuall credit or be­lief, which we give to the truth revealed, when we say, I believe this truth.

The One and the Other are necessary for Com­munion, whosoever is not endowed with faith as it is a Virtue, is an unworthy Communicant, and he that approaches to the Communion with­out an Act of faith, shall not receive the fruits thereof.

The greatest difficulty we find in this place is not in having the Virtue of faith; for all those, who are baptized, have received this in Baptisme; and they conserve it still, except they have lost it either by misbelief or any willfull doubt. In which case it must be repaired by believing, and doing penance.

But as to what concerns the acts of faith, they require an application of the mind and heart, to practice them as we ought, that is to say, with necessary knowledge and the constancy, which is fit: Whereof we are about to treat.

ARTICLE II. That to Communicate well it is not sufficient to have Faith, but we must practice the Acts thereof, and how profitable they are in Communion.

WHosoever then is without Faith, is an un­worthy Communicant, since without faith it is impossible to please God, as the Apostle affirms Heb. 11.6. and he that doth not please God, cannot be worthy to receive.

It is also necessary to have faith not only of all the misteries of our Religion, but we must have it in particular of this here, and it is required that we have made acts of faith, which we have [Page 328]never revoked, nor changed.

But I say moreover that to receive the benefit of Communion, we must practice the Acts of this Faith before, at the time, and after Communion; and that the chiefest fruit of this grand and im­portant action depends upon the punctuall per­formance of the acts of these three virtues, of Faith, of Hope, and of Charity.

The reason is very obvious; for it is certain that the Sacraments work their effects proporti­onably to the measure of the disposition of the receiver; and that they give a far greater plen­ty of graces to those, who are interiourly bet­ter disposed, and render themselves more wor­thy of them: Now this perfecter preparation of the heart is made by the acts of Christian virtues, & particularly by those of Faith, Hope, & Chari­ty, which are the first in dignity, and contain all the rest. That which St. Cyprian Epist. ad Don. af­firms of the Sacrament of Baptism is verified in all the others, but more especially in that of the Holy Eucharist: That we draw from thence more grace according to the greatness and capacity of the Faith we bring with us to receive: One needs no more then ardently to desire it, and open his heart to God, and give him room to fill it. Quantum illic fidei capa­cis afferimus, tantum gratiae inundantis haurimus; nostrum tantum sitiat pectus & pateat.

Where it is to be observed, that this Holy Fa­ther in these excellent words points at the three Virtues, we have already spoke of. He saith, that with this strong Faith it is necessary that we de­sire the grace of God, and open our hearts to re­ceive it. Now we desire by Hope; and we o­pen our hearts by Charity and the love of God.

Moreover let us add as the proper and pecu­liar reason in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, that it is a Celestial Banquet wherein we receive the nourishment of our Souls. Now who is there, but he knows, that Meat, except it be eaten with a good appetite, and with a stomach well disposed to digest the food by its natural heat, and change it into its own substance, doth little good? This is yet more certain in Spiritual nu­triment, which requires not either less action or co-operation and concurrence of our Soul on our side, to benefit it as we ought. And without que­stion we need not seek for any other causes of the small advantage we draw from our Commu­nions, altho' otherwise we receive in the State of Grace, then the coldness and indevotion with which we perform this duty; which stops the hands of Jesus Christ, and hinders him from im­parting his favours to those, who receive him with so much indifference, and so unconcerned.

If this reason were not sufficiently efficacious, I should add also, (without leaving the compari­son of a Feast) that we ought indeed to come cloath'd with the Nuptial Garment (that is with Sanctifying Grace) to this Sacred Banquet of Holy Communion; but this ought not to satis­fie or be enough for those, who desire to Com­municate with the advantage, they are capable to receive from thence: for to let this suffice, would be, as if a man being invited to a Feast by a Per­son of Quality, should content himself to go thither well cloath'd, and in his best Apparel; but when he comes, should refuse to discourse with him, or speak one word.

What should we say of such an action as this? [Page 330]Had we not just cause to judge that this Person had but little regard or esteem for him whose in­vited Guest he was? and that he contemned or at least slighted his friendship, and the particu­lar favours, which he might receive at his hands? and yet this is what you your self are guilty of, Theotime, in respect of Jesus Christ, when you Communicate unconcerned, carelesly, with te­pidity and indevotion.

Remember, I beseech you, that it is not e­nough to please our Lord to receive him in this manner, and that you loose innumerable fa­vours by this your so signally cold reception of him.

Consider how ill this corresponds with that pressing and ardent love, with which he invites you to this Feast, and with that earnest desire he hath to receive you there, saying to you now, what formerly he did to his Disciples. Luc. 22.15. I have most earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you.

Thus when he invites a Soul unto him, he doth not only require, that she appear in his presence, but he expects, that she should make him to hear and understand her voice. Come, says he, Cant. 2.14. my dear and well beloved Soul, shew me thy face, let me hear thy voice; for thy voice is sweet and char­ming, as thy countenance is beautifull and comely. By the face, he gives us to understand the beauty of the Soul, which consists in Sanctifying grace, and the Ornaments of the Virtues; and by the Voice he points at the acts of these same Virtues, which make a confort and harmony most pleasing and agreeable in the sight of God.

ARTICLE III. The practice of the Act of Faith for the Communion.

LEt us now come to the practice of these ex­cellent Virtues, and see, how they must be employed in the Holy Communion.

To perform them right, we must be well in­structed, and fully convinced of the truths of this divine Mystery, which we have explain'd above.

Amongst these verities there are three, upon which one may practice with much benefit the acts of Faith, viz.

  • 1. The real presence of the Son of the God in the Eucharist.
  • 2. The Wonders which God works in this Holy Mystery.
  • 3. The effects which he produceth in his Soul who worthily receives.

Exercise your Faith upon these three points, when you communicate; but see that they be acts of a stedfast and fervent faith; and for the easier performance of them, ponder and detain your self upon the two first, before Communion; and entertain your thoughts upon the third, which are the effects after Communion, in the following manner.

An Act of Faith upon the real presence of Jesus Christ, in the Blessed Sacrament.

MY Saviour Jesus Christ, I firmly believe, and from the bottom of my heart I hold, that thou art truly present in the Sacred Host: I be­lieve that it contains thy Body and thy precious Blood, accompany'd with thy Soul, and thy Divinity.

I believe that by vertue of the words of Con­secration, and in the moment they are pronoun­ced, the Bread is changed into thy Body, and the Wine into thy Blood.

I believe this truth upon the assurance of thy holy words, and upon the authority of thy holy Church, which thus teaches me to believe.

I believe it firmly, and freely without any hesi­tation, renouncing with all my heart all doubts, which may ever come into my mind concerning this Subject. Mar. 9.23. Credo Domine, adjuva in­credulitatem meam. Yes my God I believe it: assist my incredulity by thy grace, and augment in my heart thy faith. Luc. 17.5. Domine ad­auge nobis fidem, believing thus, I adore thee in this blessed Sacrament, from the bottom of my Soul, & I acknowledge thee for my Lord, and for my God, as St. Thomas did, Jo. 20.28. Dominus meus, & Deus meus.

Ʋpon the Wonders which occur in the Blessed Sacrament.

MY Lord and my God, I acknowledge all the mighty things, which thou hast wrought in this Holy Mystery, grant me, I beseech thee, grace to understand them, for they far exceed the capacity of my Soul. Psal. 105.2. Quis lo­quitur potentias Domini, auditas fafiet omnes laudes ejus? Who is he, O my God, who can recount thy wonders, and duly proclaim thy praises?

I know by faith, and I acknowledge, that thou art really in the Sacred Host, without departing from Heaven, where thou art seated on the right hand of thy Eternal Father.

That thou art in innumerable places in the same instant, and in as many, as there are Con­secrated Hosts.

That the substance of Bread and Wine is changed into that of thy body and thy blood.

That of Bread and Wine there remains only the accidents, which subsist without their sub­stance, which supported them before; and that now thou dost miraculously conserve them, as before.

That thy Body is in that Host without taking up any place; and that it is whole in the whole Host, and whole in every part thereof.

That it is as whole and entire under the least part, as under the greatest Host.

That when the Host is broken, thy body is not divided, but that it remains entire in each part of the Consecrated Host.

That when the Host is consummated, thy Body is not consumed, but only ceases to be where it was before.

That the good and bad equally receive thee as to the reality; but unequally only as to the effect, the one finding life therein, the other death.

O my Saviour, I acknowledge all these great truths: I firmly believe all these wonders; I adore thy power, which hath wrought them: I praise thy infinite goodness, that was pleased to prepare them for me; and I say from the bottom of my heart with David. Psal. 9. Confitebor tibi Domini in toto Corde meo: Narrabo omnia mirabilia tua. Latabor & exultabo in te: psallam nomini tuo, altissime. My God I will praise thee with my whole Heart, and I will recount all thy admirable works: I will rejoyce in thee, and I will bless thy holy name.

I acknowledg that thou hast really fullfilled in this mystery the Prophecy of David, Psa. 110.4. wherein he said, that as an especiall effect of thy mercy, thou hast made an abridgment and me­moriall of thy wonders in bestowing food upon those, who fear thee.

In this faith, and with this acknowledgment, I make bold to approach at present to this adora­ble banquet, where thou bestowest upon me this divine food, of thy Body and Blood, that thou mayst fill me with thy self and thy divine Spirit. O Jesus! grant that I may approach unto thee with the sense of the respect and humility which is due to thy infinite Majesty: who am I, O my God, that thou shouldst work such great won­ders for my sake? vouchsafe at least that I be not unworthy of them; and that at present I may re­ceive thee with a pure heart, with a clear consci­ence, [Page 335]and with a sincere and true faith. Pardon me my Sins which have rendered me most un­worthy to approach unto thee. I detest them from the bottom of my heart, because, O my God, they are displeasing to thee: I here renounce them for the future, and I promise to be faith­full to thee. Proceed then, my soul, raise thy self up to go and receive thy God: and to receive at his hands all the favours, which he hath pre­pared for thee in this divine Sacrament.

Convertere anima mea Psa. 114.7. in requiem tuam, quia Dominus bene fecit tibi.

Ʋpon the Effects which the Holy Eucharist is capable to produce in the Soul.

IF you have yet time before Communion, ac­knowledge in the presence of God the admi­rable effects which it produceth: desire earnest­ly to be partaker of them; and say from the bottom of your heart as follows.

I acknowledge, O Saviour of Souls, the won­derfull effects which thou workest in those who worthyly receive thee. The many and singular tokens of thy love thou bestowest upon them, & the favours thou communicatest unto them.

I acknowledge that thou hast made thy self my meat to fill my Soul with so divine repast: thou conservest in us the life of thy grace; thou ma­kest us encrease more and more therein; thou strengthenest us in our weakness: thou curest our infirmities; thou preservest us from Sin; thou givest us strength to persevere in thy grace, and to walk so far and so secure amidst the dan­gers of this mortall, till we come to immortall [Page 336]and everlasting life. O my God! Blessed be thy holy name for these so many favours thou hast bestowed upon us. Make me worthy to par­take of all thy mercies in this holy Communion.

Approach to the Communion with this faith, saying with the infirm woman in the Gospell. Mat. 9.21. If I shall but touch the hem of his Gar­ment I shall be cured.

After Communion, withdrawing your self from the Holy Table into some convenient place, adore profoundly our Lord, who hath vouch­safed to come and dwell within you; and consi­dering attentively the great favours, which he hath bestowed upon you by his divine presence, pronounce from your heart those excellent words of S. David, Psal. 106.8.9. Confiteantur Domino mi­sericordiae ejus, & mirabilia ejus filiis hominum; quia satiavit animam inanem, & animam esurientem sa­tiavit bonis. Let the divine mercy proclaim and praise him every where, and let his wonders be made known to the whole world, because he hath fully satisfyed a dry, and fill'd an empty Soul, & hath replenished her with blessings of all sorts. O my God, be thou blessed for so many favours, which thou hast now bestowed upon me, and for all the blessings with which thou hast enrich'd me, after the great want and miseries which I en­dured, when by my pleasures and my passions I had departed from thee. Was not I most misera­ble and blind to seek in these vain pleasures, re­pose and happiness, which are not to be found but in thee alone. I removed my self a far distance from thee to ruin my self for ever; but thy good­ness was such, that it withdrew me from the pre­cipice whether I was running to throw my self [Page 337]headlong down; enlightning me with thy rays, and calling me back unto thee by thy grace. Thou hast pardoned me all my Sins, and for the ac­complishment of all these favours, thou gavest thy self present with me, to the end I may dwell with thee. O my God! be thou blessed for all these infinite mercies, and let all the Saints sup­ply my defects, and praise thee in my stead. Con­fiteantur tibi Domine omnia opera tua; & Sancti tui benedicant tibi. Ps. 144.10.

Stirr up your Soul, that is your self, to praise God for all the benefits which he hath at present conferred upon you, with those gratefull senti­ments of the same Prophet, Psal. 102. Benedic a­nima mea Domino. Considering them attentively one after another.

O my Soul bless our Lord, and let all that is within me praise and magnify his holy name.

Bless our Lord, and never be unmindfull of the favours, which he even now hath done thee.

Our Lord, I say, who hath pardoned all thy offences: and hath cured all thy Infirmities.

Who hath preserved thee from death, and who hath Crowned thee with the effects of his bounty.

He hath replenished thee with all the blessings which thou could'st wish: considering all these favours now thou shalt mend thy Life; and re­newing thy forces, grow young like an Eagle in the service of thy God.

After you have Ponder'd well upon these Sa­cred words, and have raised up in your self all the motions of gratitude and acknowledgment to God for the many and great favours he hath done you, you shall conclude with a strong re­solution [Page 338]to renew your self, that is to say, to­tally to change your life, to amend your faults, to dedicate your self from henceforth entirely to the Service of God.

You shall demand grace at his hands, and to this effect you shall beg of him, a steady and con­stant Faith, whose acts you have endeavoured to practice in this Communion: You shall beseech him that he will vouchsafe to augment it, not only in respect of this Holy Mystery, but also in regard of all the other Christian Verities, and Principles of Eternal Life: to the end that by this Faith you may surmount all the difficulties and impediments you shall meet with in your Journey thither: for it is most certain that those, who have this great Virtue strongly im­printed in their Soul overcome all, whatsoever difficulties occurr in the way of Salvation, as St. Paul hath clearly shewn in his Epistle to the Hebrews, Chap. 11.33. Per fidem vicerunt regna, operati sunt justitiam, adepti sunt repromissiones. By Faith they conquered Kingdoms, they have done Ju­stice, they have obtained promises. But all this is to be understood of an ardent faith, enlivened with the flames of Charity: as he himself elsewhere de­clares. Gal. 5.6. Faith that worketh by Charity.

Read, I entreat you, the advice, which here­after shall be given you in the Seventh Article of the Third Chapter.

CHAP. II. Of Hope, the second disposition for Communion.

HAving not as yet said any thing of this Vir­tue, farther then what concern'd the Exa­men upon the First Commandment, where I re­lated the Sins, which are opposite unto it, I shall treat of it in this place so far, as may be necessary to make it well known to all those, who are not yet sufficiently instructed in it.

ARTICLE I. What is Hope?

IT is the Second of the three Theological Vir­tues, so called, because they respect God not only as their motive and their end, (as all other Christian Virtues do) but also as their first and principal object.

To expect from the hand of God, the things he hath promised us, and which he hath prepar'd for his Servants, is the proper effect of this Vir­tue; wherefore it is defined a certain expecta­tion, of Eternal bliss, and of the means to attain unto it.

This expectation is the proper act of this Vir­tue, Hope; which is a certain judgment which we form, that God will be pleased to grant us Everlasting Life, if we correspond with his mer­cies and be Faithfull in the Dispensations he hath [Page 340]commended to us; for as St. Bernard observes very well; in Psal. 90. Serm. 10. Faith tells us that there are great rewards prepared for Gods Faith­full Servants: Hope says, that these are reserved for me. Charity is the third, and saith, I run that I may reach to them, and enjoy them.

It is of this expectation, which the Prophet speaks, Thren. 3.24. Our Lord is my portion, there­fore I will expect him. And St. Paul, Rom. 5.2. when he assures us, that he glories in the hope of the glory, or happiness of the Children of God; and when he exhorts all Christians to a good Life, Expecting, says he, Tit. 2.13. the blessed hope and coming of the glory of our great God, and Saviour Jesus Christ.

This hope is certain and secure, in as much as it is built upon Gods promise, who can never fail of his word, having both a will and a power to perform, whatsoever he is pleased to promise; This made the same Apostle affirm, 2. Tim. 1.12. that he knew very well in whom he had put his trust, and that he was altogether assur'd of the power he had in effect to fullfill his promise.

But whereas these divine promises are only conditional, and made only to such, who are his Faithfull Servants, our hope ought also always to suppose this condition of our Fidelity, and thus the certainty ought always to be accompa­nyed with a holy distrust or disconfidence in our selves, which makes us work our Salvation with fear and trembling, and as St. Peter hath it, 2. Pet. 1.10. Secure our Vocation and Election by good works.

ARTICLE. II. Of the good which we expect by Hope.

TWo goods there are we expect, Grace, and Glory; this is the end, which is prepared for us, and that is the means, whereby to obtain that end; God comporting himself, if I may say so, in this our great concern, like a good equally and a wise Father, whose goodness obliges him to prepare an Inheritance for his Children, and whose Wisdom finds out means, whereby they may come to the possession of it.

Glory shall be our supream and final happi­ness, wherein our Soul shall see God as he is in himself face to face, and thence conceive so en­tire and perfect a love of him, that every the least vacancy of the Soul shall be fill'd with an incom­prehensible joy; and an happiness, that shall not receive either the least alteration or any end.

Even our body shall have its share in this hap­piness and glory: For after the Resurrection the glorious splendors of the blessed Soul, united to the body, shall by the reflection of her rays ren­der it not only immortall, but discharge it also from all possibility of change, endowing it with the four qualities, which St. Paul, 1. Cor. 15. (in an­swer to that question v. 35. how do the dead rise again? and with what kind of body shall they come?) hath discovered to us, Impassibility v. 42. Clari­ty 43. Agility ibid. Subtility 44. The first is a blessed incorruption, which shall exempt us, and render us incapable of all either pain or grief; [Page 342]The second a Glory, whereby it shall become so bright, as not only to vye with, but to surpass the Sun; The third is an active Power or strength by which it shall pass in an Instant at the beck of her will, wheresoever she pleaseth, without the least trouble; and by the fourth, as a Spirit, it shall penetrate and pass thro' the most solid body without any impediment or let.

Behold what we expect after this life both for our Soul and bodies.

And as to what concerns this present life, we expect from the hands of God the means, where­by we may obtain this so happy end: forasmuch as of our selves, and by all our naturall endea­vours, though never so great, left to our selves, we are not able to arrive unto it.

This end inasmuch as it is a supernaturall good, requires in our Soul a disposition of the same nature with it; & this is Sanctifying Grace, the seed of Glory, and the precious pledge of that Eternall Inheritance, as the Apostle hath it, speaking thus to the Ephesians. c. 1.13. You are sign'd with the holy Spirit of promise, which is the pledge of our Inheritance.

This Grace is a Supernaturall quality infused by God into our Soul at the instant he admits us into his freindship; a quality which remits the Sin, Sanctifies the Soul, embellishes, and renders her acceptable to God, and gives her a certain right to eternall glory: That Justified by his grace we may be heirs according to hope of Everlast­ing Life. Tit. 3.7.

Now since this grace, this disposition to glory, is also Supernatural, it is necessary we have the assistance of some powerfull hand to obtain it, [Page 343]and this can be no other then the hand of God, as there is none but God alone, who can endow the Soul with Sanctifying Grace.

This assistance is also called grace, because it is graciously, and out of Gods pure mercy, bestow'd upon us; but it is called actuall, as the other is stil'd habituall grace, because it is transient on­ly, not permanent as Sanctifying grace, the ha­bit is; it is that action by which God moves the powers of our Soul, our understanding & will; disposing her to her justification; & this by clear­ing her understanding, and letting her see, what chiefly concerns her, by good thoughts, which he bestows upon her; & moving her will to em­brace that good she sees so much imports her, by the holy affections, which he vouchsafes to give her.

These helps have three effects in us. For first, they awake our Soul by interiour illuminations, and religious motions oblige her to look serious­ly after her Salvation.

2ly. Once she is thus moved, it assists her in the due performance of that good, which is pro­pos'd unto her, & gives her strength to raise her self up to God by acts of Faith, Hope, Contrition, and the love of God; all which dispose her to receive at the same time the remission of her Sins and justifying Grace.

3ly. As soon as she has received this grace, these helps afford her still more strength to stand fast and conserve her self amongst the throng of temptations, and to persever constant even to the end by her flight from evill, and the frequent ex­ercise of good and pious works.

Hence proceed the different names, by which we call this actuall grace: for the first we call [Page 344]Exciting, Operating or Preventing grace: the 2d. Assisting or Cooperating grace, the 3d the grace of Perseverance. God hath bestowed upon us all these graces for our Salvation: But we are to observe that they have not always their full and entire effect upon the will; for she being on­ly mov'd and press'd, and not necessitated by the graces, may either resist or not regard them, according as the Councill of Trent, sess. 6. c. 5. re­marks: nay very often doth resist; for we are advised in holy writ, Psal. 94.9. not to harden our hearts, & yet however we do harden them; for frequently we do not hearken to the voice of God, but resist his holy spirit, as St. Stephen com­plains, Act. 7.51. that the Jews did.

This advertisement may serve in this place to teach us an important truth, that it is not enough to expect from the hands of God the means, whereby we may compass our Salvation; but that we ought to take great care to be faithfull to his dispensations, and carefully cooperate with his grace, and also that we ought dayly to begg of him, that he will vouchsafe to continue & reple­nish our hearts therewith; lest by our Sins we render our selves unworthy of them.

ARTICLE III. That it is necessary to distinguish well betwixt True and False, Good and Bad Hope.

THis distinction is of the highest importance; for as much as the greatest part of the world deceive themselves therein, taking false for true, [Page 345]and embracing an evill and sinfull, instead of a good and virtuous Hope; and from this mistake proceeds the damnation of innumerable Christi­ans. There is no one but hopes to be saved, but because their hopes are ill grounded, & they hope other wise then they ought, they lull themselves asleep in this foolish hope, and approaching to their end, they find themselves upon the brink of a precipice, when they imagined they were ar­rived into the port, and stood upon firm land.

Such is their Hope, who expect Salvation, not­withstanding they do not use the means to ob­tain it; and who living ill hope to dy well: now how many are there of these? and what num­bers are herein deceived?

Such is their hope, who believe indeed that it is necessary for Salvation to live a good and virtuous life; but still defer their conversion, thinking that God will allways expect them, as hi­therto he hath done, with patience to repentance, notwithstanding their wicked course of life, and the perpetuall abuses, which they never cease to offer to his graces.

Such is their hope, who Sin upon account of the confidence they have of Pardon: and who are wont to say, when they have offended, that Gods mercy is great, and that he will forget their Sins.

Such is their hope, who imagine they shall be converted and return to God, whensoere they please: or that his grace will be allways in their power; or that, let them do what they will, it will never forsake them.

Such is their hope, who willfully and by some signall negligence of theirs expose themselves to the immediate occasions of Sin, in hopes that God will preserve them.

Such is the hope of many cold and negligent, tho' otherwise just people, who relying upon a certain confidence of working their Salvation without much trouble, suffer themselves to sleep, frequenting remissly or seldom the means, which God hath been pleased to grant us, as most proper to conserve & encrease in us his Grace; such as are Prayer, the Sacraments, and good Works.

All these hopes are false and deceitfull; and like false lights lead them into a precipice, in­stead of conducting them into the Port, their Salvation.

A man Endowed with Hope, which is good and true, expects, not only from the hand of God the performances of his promise, but him­self also expects that this shall be done in the manner God hath promised: He hopes to be partaker of the goods of Glory, but not except he serve him with fidelity, as he hath promised those, who shall serve him, who shall be faithfull in complying with the graces dispens'd unto him, and shall persevere therein, unto the end.

He expects in this life the goods of Grace, thereby to obtain that of glory; but endeavours at the same time not to put any obstacle or let on his side to the workings of it: He demands them with much fervour and humility, he hath a care to comply sincerely with them. If he be in sin, he doth Penance without delay; but never offends in hopes of doing Penance, and (as St. Gregory advises) he is fearfull to commit a sin, which he doth not know whether or no he shall ever be sufficiently able to deplore.

In a word a man who truly hopes, walks al­ways in the midst between confidence and fear: he [Page 347]trusts in God, and mistrusts himself. He hopes that God will not reject him, but he fears lest himself should forsake his God: he hopes that God will assist him; but fears lest himself prove unfaithfull or defective in his duty. And thus between this confidence and fear humbling him­self in the presence of God, he prays, he labours, endeavouring to secure his Salvation on the one side by flying from Sin, and all the occasions of it, and on the other by a due performance of good works.

In short, Hope consists in, or is at least at­tended with, these four acts.

1. A confidence to obtain from the divine goodness Everlasting life, with all the graces ne­cessary to acquire it.

2. A vehement desire of Salvation: for the expectation, which we have, of any great good, is apt to raise in us an ardent & great desire of it.

3. A fear to lose it by our fault, or any infi­delity of ours; a fear which ought not to pro­duce any disquiet in the Soul, but the hatred of sin, which only can make us lose it.

4. A firm, and that an efficacious resolution to labour for Salvation, a Resolution, which makes one act, and employ the means necessary to ob­tain that end, as is abovesaid.

ARTICLE IV. Of the great blessings which Hope derives upon us.

WHen this great Virtue is well imprinted in a Soul, it there produceth wonderfull Effects.

First, It makes her love and desire Heaven, her dear Country, her native Soil: it makes her sigh after her Eternal happyness; it makes her fear, lest she be frustrated of it by her fault, and lose her self among the dangers of this Mor­tall Life, so full of Rocks whereon Salvation so often suffers Shipwrack.

Secondly, It makes her love the divine good­ness, which hath prepared so great blessings for her, and hath put into her hands the means to acquire them.

Thirdly, It makes her contemn this present life: it disengageth her from the love of these goods, and pleasures, making her look upon them, as transitory things, which pass like a shaddow, and yet which are not obtained but with much trouble, nor possessed without solicitude, nor lost without great grief.

It is for this reason that the just Man accounts himself in this life no otherwise then as a Pil­grim or Traveller upon his way to his Native soil, knowing well, as St. Paul, Heb. 13.14. saith, that here we have no permanent City, or abode, but we seek that which is to come, after this life. And as it would be a folly in a Traveller to set his affections upon an however gallant or stately Inn, and desire to make it his abode; so he, whose soul is full of the hopes of Heaven, ac­counts it madness to apply his mind, to the goods of the earth, and in these trifles lose his precious time, and let slip the occasion of aiming at Heaven.

And St. Augustin observes excellently well, that God by his Wisdom hath mingled afflictions and bitterness with all the even most innocent [Page 349]goods of this life, so to disengage us from the affection to them, in Psal. 40. Docetur amare me­liora per amaritudinem inferiorum: ne viator tendens ad patriam, stabulum amet pro domo sua: Lest (says he) Man, who is a Traveller upon his way to Hea­ven, taking his pleasure in this Life, should love his Inn better then his own House.

4. This Hope makes the Just Man labour for his Salvation, and becoming daily better and bet­ter render himself worthy of his heavenly voca­tion, (as St. John saith, 1 Jo. 3.3.) Every one who hath this hope in God doth Sanctify himself, as God is holy. This hope gives him strength to conquer all difficulties; and wings to fly in the way of Gods commandments, as the Prophet Isay 40.31. speaks, They who hope in God (says he) shall change their strength, that is, receive a new force; they shall have wings as an Angel: they shall run with ease, they shall travel without failing by the way.

5ly. This same Hope encourageth us in tempta­tions; it gives us strength to encounter them. For what greater encouragement can there be in these occasions, then to know that God is with us: that he assists us in the fight, and gives us strength to overcome; and that he hath prepared an eternal reward for those that conquer. He whose heart is replenished with Hope, doth he not say with David whensoever he is tempted? Ps. 22.4. O my God I will not be afraid of any harm being thou art with me, Ps. 26.1. Our Lord is my light and my Salvation, whom should I fear? v. 3. If war shall be rais'd against me I will hope in him, Ps. 7.1. O Lord I hope in thee, save me, and deliver me from all my persecutors. For this reason St. Paul 1. Thes. 5.8. calls hope the Helmet of Christians. Take says [Page 350]he, for thy helmet the hope of Salvation: For as a head-peice, it preserves us from the blows of the enemy, and the mortall wounds which he endeavours to give us.

In fine Hope guards us excellently well, and is of infinite use in afflictions, of which this mortall life is full. Herein it is that we find our refuge, our comfort, and our strength: when we con­sider with attention that these miseries cannot last always, they will have an end, and will be followed with an eternall joy, if we suffer them with patience; as it is but fit and just we should. And when we ponder well upon those excellent words of St. Paul, 2. Cor 4.17. wherein he as­sures us, That the momentary and light afflictions, which we at present endure, work exceedingly above measure a weight of unconceivable glory and happiness which shall never end.

It is then, when after the example of this glo­rious Apostle, we shall rejoyce and esteem our selves happy in our afflictions, being assured of this truth wherein he affirms. Rom. 5.3. that Affliction causeth Patience, Patience trys our strength; this tryall confirms our Hopes, and Hope will never confound us, so as to permit our expectations to be frustrate. Wherefore the same Apostle says Heb. 6.19. That this holy hope is to Christians, that which the anchor is to a Ship, which keeps it secure and steady amidst the tempestuous waves, and preserves it against the violence of the winds.

O holy Virtue, what blessings by thy means accrue unto us, did we but fall into the account and know them! Endeavour, Theotime, to make thy self master in an happy hour of this great vir­tue, and to practise it with advantage to thy Soul; [Page 351]and to this effect peruse carefully and with atten­tion this little we shall say upon this Subject.

ARTICLE V. That the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist is of great use to fortify and augment Hope, the Virtue in us.

GOD endowed us with this Virtue, when first he justified us in Baptism, where we received Sanctifying Grace, with the gifts of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and other Christian Virtues.

It is encreased, I confess, together with the other Virtues, by the frequent acts which we elicite, and by good works, which we perform in the State of Grace: but it is also certain, that it receives much strength and wonderfull growth by the most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist; which may easily be evinced from the two things, which as is above said are the object of Hope, viz. Grace in this Life, and in the next the Glory, as well of Body as of Soul.

As for Glory, there is not any thing that con­firms us more in the Hope of it then this Divine Sacrament, wherein we receive the very Person himself, the possession of whom compleats all our glory and our happiness; for what greater secu­rity can we have, that we shall one day enjoy God himself, then by this bounty he hath shewed in communicating himself unto us in this life? Could he afford us a more secure pledge then he himself is? to which he hath also vouchsafed to [Page 352]add the assurance of his word, saying Jo. 6.58. that he who eateth this bread shall live for ever.

And for the glory of the body, it is no less con­firmed unto us by this Sacrament: being the Son of God hath told us, Ibid 56. that he who eateth his body, and drinketh his blood, shall have life Ever­lasting, and that he will raise him again at the last day. And in effect the Fathers of the Church have often proved the Resurrection from the holy Eu­charist: and they have held that the life-giving flesh of Jesus Christ, as they have frequently call­ed it, hath a particular vertue to raise from death to life those bodies it shall touch, and conserve them to immortality, much more efficaciously then the bones of Elizeus had vertue by their touch to raise a dead man to life.

This truth is no less certain in respect of grace. For if we consider habituall or Sanctifying grace, this divine Sacrament is a powerfull means to conserve it; as also to increase it in the Soul in an high degree, as often as we shall worthyly re­ceive it. And as for actuall graces, which are, as we said, so many helps, illuminations, good and pious motions, which the divine goodness hath bestowed upon us for the conservation of his grace, and with which he inspires us, that we may avoid evil and employ our selves totally in good; so many protections, which he affords us in the time, when our Salvation is in danger: it is questionless to this Sacrament that we owe the greatest part thereof; as we clearly made out, Part 1. Chap. 3. Art. 3.

The reason is evident; because this Sacrament containing, as it really and truly doth, Jesus Christ, who is the Author and source of all Bles­sings; [Page 353]it cannot be but that it must needs com­municate them in abundance to those, who wor­thily receive it. If by the other Sacraments we are enrich'd with so many Graces by the only vertue which the Son of God hath granted to them; how many more may we in reason expect from this, where the same Son of God is present not only by some communication of his vertue, but by himself in Person?

God once gave Manna to the Israelites, and he sustained them therewith for the full space of for­ty years, the time which their Pilgrimage to­wards the land of Promise endur'd in the Desert. This Manna fell every day early in the Morning together, as the Scripture remarks, Numb. 11.9. with the Dew from Heaven, which bedewed the whole Camp of Israel. And with how much more reason may we affirm, that none ever re­ceived this Celestial Manna, the Holy Eucharist, (of which that is only a Type or Figure) in the happy morning before the World hath seized his thoughts, but he sinds his Soul replenished with abundance of Graces, and Divine Blessings.

For certainly if this Heavenly bread is showred upon us for the nourishment of our needy and hungry Souls; without question it works the same in her, which wholsome food doth in a sound or healthy Body. Now Corporal nutri­ment hath these four effects: It conserves; it increases; it strengthens; and it repairs the Bo­dy. It is necessary therefore that this Spiritual food have the same Operations in our Souls, if well disposed; as we have already made out in the First part of this Treatise, Chap. 3. Art. 3.

It was a Simbole of this truth, that the Pro­phet [Page 354] Elias, 3. Reg. 19. flying the Persecution of Achab received from the hand of an Angel a Loaf of Bread, which maintained him through his whole Journey; and the Scripture affirms v. 8. that having eaten that bread, he received such strength, that without any further sustenance he travelled full forty days, even to the Mountain Horeb, which is interpreted the sight of God.

ARTICLE VI. That the practice of Hope is a good and great disposition to the Holy Communion.

FRom the precedent we inferr this truth: For if the Blessed Sacrament augment in us the Virtue of Hope, it follows of necessity that to Communicate well we must beforehand exercise the acts of, and have our hearts replenished with, the Virtue of Hope: as in the same manner, be­cause heat is natural to Fire, and Fire dispenseth not its effects but to the Subject which is already hot, it is necessary that the same heat should be introduced into that matter, where one would have the Fire to act: for it is most certain, that the natural qualities of any thing whatsoever, serve as dispositions to give both its being and its action. Since therefore the Holy Eucharist is a Sacrament, which so powerfully revives our Hope, as we have already proved, it follows of necessity that to receive this Sacrament with that advantage it is capable to afford, it is necessari­ly required that we be full of this Virtue, and stirr up our selves the most we can unto it, when [Page 355]we approach to this Holy Table.

And truly if we consider the particular acts of which this Virtue seems, as it were, to be com­posed, we shall find, that they are those, which make up the most usual dispositions to Commu­nion: we have mark'd them out above in the Third Article: An expectation of Eternal Life; a desire to obtain it; a fear to loose it by any Sin; a resolution effectually to labour for it. All these are the most usual acts in which we ought to employ our selves before and after Commu­nion; the practice whereof we are about to in­struct you in.

ARTICLE VII. The practice of the acts of Hope for Communion.

THese acts are the four of which we have alrea­dy spoken, to which it is but just that we sub­joyn sorrow for Sins, which have set us at so great a distance from the divine grace & from eternall glory: and Prayer by which we beg of God both the one and the other of these goods, one may reap much fruit from the practice of them before and after Communion either in the following, or some better manner.

The practice of Hope before Communion.

ADdressing your Thoughts and the whole in­tention of your heart to our Lord, who is present in the Sacred host, acknowledg that he [Page 356]is your only hope, and that it is from him alone you expect all the goods, both of Grace and Glory.

O Jesus my Saviour and my God, I adore thee in this Sacred host, where thou are present, to the end that thou mayst be to me a Jesus and a Savi­our. Thou art my only hope, it is from thee a­lone I expect all my happiness whether in this life or the next, saying with David, [...]s. 38.8. af­ter he had considered the vanities of the world, and what a nothing man himself is without thee; And now in what, or in whom, can I put my trust, but in thee O Lord? thou art my help and all I can rely on. & nunc quae est expectatio mea? nonne Dominus? & Substantia mea apud te est, or Ps. 70.5. O Lord in whom I have placed my confidence from my youth. Thou art my refuge in this, and my Salvation in the other Life. I hope that thou wilt by thy grace, conduct me safe in this, and replenish me with glory in the next. What blessings may not I ex­pect from thy hands in this blessed state; since thy bounty hath vouchsafed so liberally to bestow thy self upon me in this unhappy vale of miseries & tears? thou givest me hopes I shall possess thee one day unveil'd, & see thee face to face; since thou hast been so good, as ever now to give thy self unto me tho' veil'd in the blessed Sacrament.

O inestimable pledge of my future felicity; when shall that happy hour arrive that I shall see thee face to face, and enjoy thee as thou art in thy self, with all the blessings thou hast prepa­red for those that serve thee? O my God, how lovely are those Mansions where thou art clearly seen! my Soul longs to inhabit there, sighs after them, and even faints away in those desires. My heart and my very flesh leap for joy in the hopes I [Page 357]shall once possess the living God.

I am fixed and constant in my hope, and I know, that there is not any thing except my Sins, which can ever frustrate my desires. Wherefore I here detest them all from the bottom of my heart. Prostrate in thy presence, O my God, with a contrite and humble heart I beg pardon of them. And for the future I am fully resolved to fly Sin and the occasions of it, more then from the dan­ger of death, or death it self.

It is in this pious confidence and hope, that I approach at present to this holy table of Com­munion, there to receive thee hidden under the Sacramentall species, and to tast, as by advance, of these in finite goods, which thou hast prepared for me in everlasting life, where I shall be so happy as to see thee not only as now obscurely either in thy wonderfull effects, or in the cloud of faith, but clearly and distinctly, as thou art in thy self. O my God exclude me not from this holy table, which thou hast prepared for me in this mortall life, to the end I may deserve to be admitted to that other, which thou hast furnish'd in everlast­ing life to feast thy faithfull Servants.

It is true, I confess, my Sins have made me unworthy of either of them: yet I hope in thy Mercy, which hath been pleased to pardon them, and which will yet more confirm that pardon, confirming me in the resolution I have conceived to be faithfull to thee. Come then, O Divine Saviour, enter and take possession of me; speak to my Soul a word of comfort. Psa. 34.3. Dic animae meae salus tua ego sum, tell her that thou art her strength, her Salvation, and her Sove­reign good. Tell her, as once thou didst A­braham, [Page 358]Gen. 15.1. Fear not, I am thy Pro­tector, amidst the greatest dangers of this Life, I will secure thee: I am thy exceeding great Re­ward, an infinite and incomprehensible recom­pence in the next; grant I beseech thee, that I may rightly understand these high Mysteries, these important truths; and that this may be the fruit of the Communion, which I am about to receive.

When you have ponder'd well upon these ho­ly thoughts, approach to the Sacred Table, full with desire to take possession of and enjoy your God; and replenished with hope to receive in this Communion an abundant plenty of Graces to conserve him in you, and you in him.

After Communion.

AS soon as you are retired from the Holy Ta­ble, prostrate in heart before him, adore with all humility our Lord, whom you have re­ceived: return him innumerable thanks for the infinite favour he hath done in coming to you; and consequent to this you shall insist upon the practice of these three acts of the Virtue of Hope.

An earnest desire of Eternal Salvation.

A strong resolution to labour that you may attain unto it.

Prayer to demand at the hands of God grace, and the means to obtain it.

Adoration. First then addressing your thought to our Lord, whom you have received, repre­sent to your self how you possess him the very [Page 359]same, whose sight causeth all that bliss which ma­keth the Angels and Saints in Heaven blessed, and all the Celestial Spirits desire and esteem them­selves happy to behold him. 1. Pet. 1.12. In quem desiderant Angeli prospicere; in this belief speak to him, and let your heart pronounce as followeth.

I Adore thee O Infinite greatness, O Divine Majesty, who fillest both Heaven and Earth, and art adored in Heaven by all the Blessed Spirits, Angells, and Saints, who incessantly praise and cry out before thee, Esai. 6.3. Sanctus, Sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth: how is it possi­ble, O my God, that thou shouldst stoop so low, as to descend unto me, and to enclose thy self within me? 2. Par. 6.18. Is it credible, O All-mighty God, that thou wouldst vouchsafe to dwell amongst men upon the Earth? If the Heavens, and Heavens of Heavens do not contain thee; how much less this habitation, which I have prepared for thee? But thy goodness, O great God, knows full well how to humble it self, when it pleases thee. Thou knowest well how to conceal the amazing splendors of thy glory, and by condescending to our weak capacity to communicate thy self more freely to us. This thou didst begin to do in thy adorable Incarnation, in which thou mad'st thy self like unto us, to attract our love: And this method thou holdest on in this Mystery, where thou bestowest thy self upon us for our food and nourishment, that thou may'st more closely u­nite thy self unto us, and make us aspire to that Celestial Banquet, which thou hast made for all the Blessed in Heaven, who glut themselves with­out loathing, and are perpetually satiated with, and yet always desire thy Divine presence.

O my God, grant me grace, that I may dayly more and more aspire to, and long after this eter­nal banquet, that the desire to enjoy it, may make me slight all the goods and pleasures of this mor­tall life, and labour continually to render my self worthy of it, and happily at last to arrive unto it.

This is my resolution, which at present I make before thee; I resolve to renounce all whatsoe­ver my irregular affections, and may too much incline me to the vain and deceitfull goods or possessions of this life. I know they are apt to endanger and make me loose everlasting happy­ness; and for this reason I will discharge my heart of them, that I may love nothing but thee alone, and place my whole trust in thee, as David did Ps. 72.28. It is good for me to cleave to God, and to put my hope in our Lord.

I firmly resolve to watch over all my actions, and fly from Sin, and avoid whatsoever may dis­please thee. And as the same Psalmist expresseth himself, Ps. 17.24. I will be by his grace immacu­late in his sight, and will observe to keep my self from all iniquity. I will labour to work my Salvation by keeping thy holy commandments. And I protest before thee, O my God; and I hope I shall be faithfull to thee, Ps. 118.106. I have Sworn and determin'd with my self to keep the Judgments, which thou hast form'd, and manifested to me of thy justice.

But I am not able to perform this resolution without the assistance of thy grace, wherefore I most humbly demand it of thee: O Jesus save me, ibid. 35. Conduct me thro' all the ways of thy Command­ments, which I now enter upon and Embrace with all my heart, Incline my heart and make me love thy divine truths, which thou hast so abundantly at­tested, [Page 361]and not to covetousness or the immoderate de­sire of the goods of this world. Divert my Eyes that they may not see, that is, be fixed on Vanity, or the promising, but indeed vain and empty de­lights, of this present life: Enliven and strengthen me in thy way, that is, in the holy path of Virtue and good works. Grant that I may find nothing amiable, whereon to fix my affection, but thee alone: Assist my weakness that I may be able to advance towards thee. Cant. 1.4. Draw me to thee, O divine Jesus! that being so attracted I may run after the odours of thy perfumes, that is, of thy divine Virtues, by an holy imitation of them, and following thee by that way, even as far as Heaven, where thou livest and raignest for all Eternity.

CHAP. III. Of Charity the third disposition for the worthy receiving the blessed Sacrament.

ARTICLE I. How necessary Charity is, and how much is re­quir'd to Communicate well, and as we ought.

THis is the third disposition to a good Com­munion, and no less necessary then the for­mer two: yea, without it those two great Vir­tues would not at all conduce, or dispose the soul better for the worthy receiving of Jesus Christ. [Page 362]Altho' your Faith were as great as that of the A­postles, and your hope equalled that of the Pro­phets; if you have not Charity, you are not in a condition fit to entertain him, who is Charity himself, and who cannot dwell with him, who is without it.

Altho' I should have so strong a Faith, says St. Paul, 1. Cor. 13.1. so that I could move Mountains, without Charity it avails nothing, and proceeding he affirms, v. 3. Altho' I should distribute all my goods amongst the poor, and deliver my body to be burnt as the Martyrs have done, if I am void of Charity, all these great acts of Faith and Hope are of no use. If then these two Virtues without Cha­rity are useless in respect of Salvation; it is cer­tain that of themselves without Charity they are not sufficient dispositions to receive into our brest the author of Salvation.

The Son of God entring into us by the Holy Communion, would willingly find there a dwel­ling place prepared and worthy of him; which cannot be except Charity be there. For as S. Au­gustin says excellently well. Faith is the foundation of the house of God in our Soul, by Hope the Walls are raised; but Charity is the roof and perfection of the work. Domus Dei credendo fundatur, sperando eri­gitur, diligendo perficitur.

This is the reason why Salomon, as it is re­corded in Holy Writ, building a Temple to God, was not satisfied to lay the ground-work upon a Mountain, and build it with stones of great value; but over and above he caused, 3. Reg. 6.20. that part of the Temple, where the Ark of the Testament was to be placed, to be covered and seeled with the purest Gold. The Holy [Page 363]Ghost teaching us by this figure, that the house of God ought to be adorned with the most re­fined Gold of Charity, without which it cannot be an agreeable or pleasing habitation for him.

In this divine Sacrament we receive the Bread of Life, whereby, as by Celestial food, our Soul is nourished, and preserv'd in the Life of Grace: It is then required that it find the Soul alive, no dead thing, being capable of nourishment. Now the life of the Soul is Charity, and (as the beloved Disciple saith, 1. Jo. 3.14.) He that loveth not is already dead.

This Celestial bread is the bread of the Chil­dren of God; it is made for them, and it is an horrible Sacrilege for any one to receive it, who is not of that Number; as we have said above, Part. 1. Chap. 3. Art. 5. Vere panis filiorum non mittendus canibus. Now what is it that makes men the Children of God? and what is it by which they are distinguished from Children of the Devil? St. Augustin, Tract. 5. in Epist. 1. Jo. saith, that it is Charity and nothing else. Dilectio sola discernit inter filios Dei & filios Diaboli. The sign of the Cross, Baptism, frequenting the Church, and the other marks of Christianity do not suf­ficiently distinguish betwixt the one and the o­ther, Charity alone is the only distinctive sign betwixt them. He who loves God is the Child of God: he who loves him not is the Child of perdition or of the Devil.

In fine, it is a Heavenly banquet, where our Lord gives himself for our food, his body for meat, and his blood for drink, and to which he invites us with a love, great beyond all compa­rison; but he invites only his friends. Eat, says [Page 364]he, Cant. 5.2. my friends and drink. Now he is not a friend of Jesus Christ, who doth not love him, who doth not comply with his will in all things. If you love me, says he, Jo. 14.14. keep my Com­mandments. v. 21. He who knows my Commandments and observes them, he, and he alone, it is that loves me.

It is his will that every one should come to this Banquet with that preparation, which such a feast deserves: that we bring with us the Nup­tial garment: if he find here any one so rash and temerarious, as to present himself before him, without this Ornament, he rejects him as un­worthy. Now this robe is nothing else, but that of Charity, which renders our Soul acceptable to God, and worthy to approach unto him. Ps. 44.14. In vestitu deaurato circundata varietate. In a word it is most certain, that to communicate well and as we ought, we must be in the state of grace, which without Charity it is impossible to be; and this is the reason why we cannot communi­cate worthily without the Queen of Virtues.

ARTICLE II. That we must have a special care to distin­guish false Charity from true.

THere is not any one, who questions the pre­cedent truth, all agreeing, that to receive worthily, there must of necessity be the love of God in our heart, since he hath bestowed him­self upon us with such an admirable, so unex­pressible a love.

But all do not agree in the nature and quality [Page 365]of this love, forasmuch as there are many who judge of it rather according to their own incli­nations, then consequent to the rules of truth.

There is not any one except perhaps some fu­rious & desperate Person, who will not love God, whom he knows to be the Author of all good; and who does not at least think he loves him; but there are almost infinite numbers of People, who deceive themselves in this their belief, and have nothing but a false and imaginary hope of God, whereas they think, they truly love him.

Such is their Charity, who say they love God, and yet hate their Neighbour: or who will not pardon an injury, or deny to be reconciled to their Enemy; for as St. John says very well, 1. Jo. 4.20. If any one shall say he loves God and hates his brother, he is a Lyar.

Such is their Charity who say they love God, yet they have ill gotten goods, which they will not restore; who continue in an evil habit of Mortal Sin, without having a firm purpose to a­mend; and theirs, who neglect to acquit them­selves of the obligations of their State: In a word, all theirs, who fail in the observance of Gods Commandments in any thing whatsoever: This being an undoubted Maxim, that the true and only mark of the love of God is to keep his Commandments. If any one love me, saith our Lord, Jo. 14.23. he will keep my words, that is, my Commandments; he who doth not love me observes them not. And St. John after him, 1. Jo. 2.4. as­sures us, that he who says, that he knoweth him God, that is in the Scripture phrase, he who saith he loves God, and does not keep his Com­mandments, is a Lyar, and the truth is not in him.

All and every one of these sorts of Charity are false and deceitfull; those who love God in this manner, do not love him at all; and those who Communicate only with this kind of love, are unworthy Communicants, and eat and drink Damnation to themselves.

The true love of God is only that, which makes us observe his Commandments in all things, which makes us fearfull to incurr his displeasure by any Mortal Sin; and which makes us pre­ferr his friendship before all whatsoever is most dear unto us; as before our Pleasures, our E­state, our Honour, and our Life it self; being ready to loose all or any of these things, when o­therwise we might preserve them, rather then offend God.

Behold, Theotime, what it is, that is the love of God, without which it is impossible to be in the State of Grace, or Communicate worthily and as we ought; and that you may understand it better, read what follows.

ARTICLE III. What is Charity?

IT is a Virtue infused or given by God, which makes us love him above all things, and our Neighbour as our selves.

This definition is taken from the Command­ment, which God hath given us to love him, Luc. 10.27. Thou shalt love, says he, the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole Soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy Neigh­bour [Page 367]as thy self. These words, with thy whole heart, signify what we have already said, that we must love God above all things, and that our heart ought to be wholly his; loving nothing either equal with him, or more then him, but un­der and less then him, and only in order to his Service.

This greater love doth not consist in having a more ardent, a more tender, and a more af­fective love for God then for any other thing, altho' this were to be wished for: But it lies in this, that we esteem God more then all the things of this world, and that in our heart and effectually we preferr his friendship before all o­ther goods, and whatsoever it is, we love: So that we resolve to abandon and loose them all, rather then be deprived of the grace of God.

This preference and this resolution are so ne­cessarily required in the love of God, that they are the only distinctive signs it hath, and it cannot subsist without them: So that in the moment in which any one willingly and in effect breaketh this resolution, he looseth the love of God. However, to make this preference and resoluti­on, we need not represent in particular all the things before which we ought to preferr the love of God: This is neither necessary nor al­ways expedient. It sufficeth that we have a ge­neral, but an effectual resolution, never to loose the grace of God for any thing of the world, nor to do any thing whereby we may mortally of­fend him.

This resolution is the fruit and off-spring of the Virtue of Charity, which is that Divine qua­lity which God powers into our Souls, when he re­ceives [Page 368]us into his grace, by the holy Spirit which is given us, as the Apostle speaks, Rom. 5.5. It con­tinues with us as long as we conserve this reso­lution; but as soon as we come to loose it by a­ny either action or desire, which is contrary unto it, we are immediately deprived of this holy Charity, which is the Queen and Mother of the other Virtues, and without which all others are insignificant in order to Salvation.

I do not here examine the motives, which ought to induce us to the love of God; viz. whe­ther it be that of the reward we expect from him, or that of friendship and benevolence which we owe him: Charity easily unites these two together; & although it be not built or grounded upon the reward, yet it doth not exclude it: but the Soul which is endowed with Charity, lo­ving God for himself, expects at his hands the reward of that love, which is him himself. She loves God because of the recompence; but she takes care that she do not say, that she loves him by reason of the reward alone: for she would love him, although she looked for nothing from him; and (as St. Bernard de diligendo Deo says excellently well) We never love God without a re­ward; altho' we ought to love him without minding the reward: for tho' true Charity be never fruitless, yet it is not mercenary; she seeks not her own Interest. It is an affection of the Soul, not a contract. It is nei­ther it self obtain'd, nor doth it get any thing by bar­gain, as Merchants do. It is a voluntary affection and makes one give himself freely to his God. True love is satisfied with it self, its reward is our belo­ved.

We have already spoken of this Virtue ab­stractedly, [Page 369]and in it self in other places, as in the Instruction of Youth, Part. 4. Chap. 3. & 16. and in that of Penance, in the Examen upon the First Commandment: Wherefore I shall only add here, what concerns it in relation to the Sacra­ment of the Eucharist, and in as much as it serves for the Holy Communion.

ARTICLE IV. Of the Motives of the love of God.

IT was an admirable expression of St. Bernard, ibid. that the reason of loving God is God himself; and therefore when any one asks, why we ought to love God? One cannot answer bet­ter, then by saying, because he is God.

But being God contains in himself an infinity of perfections and qualities, which render him infinitely amiable; this general reason of loving God, because he is God, is divided into many particular Motives, which are so many several obligations to love that infinite goodness, which can never be sufficiently loved.

Thus when I consider, that God is great and perfect in himself, an that he circles within himself all possible perfections, all Power, Good­ness, Wisdom, Justice, I find reason to love him above all other things; because there is no­thing amongst Creatures, which is so amiable as he; and he deserves to be beloved, altho', suppo­sing a thing impossible, he should never have done us any good.

If I descend to the benefits, which he hath be­stowed upon us, and consider him as Creator of Heaven and Earth, and of all those excellent pie­ces, which he hath made for our sake, I find rea­son to love him above all things: for how can I but love so great a bounty, which hath wrought such wonders for us? Heaven and Earth, and all things in them, says St. Augustin, l. 10. Conf. c. 6. tell me on every side to love thee: they declare the same to all, that none may be excus'd, if they do not love thee.

If I reflect upon my self, I acknowledge I am the work of that immense goodness, which out of nothing hath made me what I am; and I can­not refrain from loving him, if I love my self, and own my self for what I am, viz. the work­manship of God. This made St. Bernard, ibid. say, that God deserves to be loved for his own sake e­ven by the very Infidel; who although he be ignorant of Jesus Christ, yet he knows himself; therefore even the Infidel is inexcusable, if he do not love his Lord with all his heart, with all his Soul, with all his strength: viz. A certain innate or natural equity, not unknown to Reason cries out aloud to him from within, that he ought to love him with all his power, from whom he cannot but know, that he hath received all whatsoe're he hath.

If I consider the Redemption, I there find a bottomless Abyss of love, an unexhaustible fountain, from whence motives to love that great and singular goodness, which hath delive­red me from an eternal ruine, continually flow. For, as St. Bernard, ibid. very well observes, If I owe my self totally to God for that I am Created by him, how much more do I owe him, for that he hath [Page 371]Redeemed me, and in such a manner: For I was not so easily Redeemed, as I was at first Created. At my Creation it was said of me, as well as of all other things. He said the word, and they were made. To Create me cost him but one word: But he who made me by speaking, and that only once, when he redeemed me, spoke much, he wrought wonders, and suffer'd much hardship and many indignities. In the first work he gave me my self, or what I am; in the second he gave himself, and giving himself for me, he restored me to my self. What return shall or can I make to God for himself? I owe my self entirely to him in ac­knowledgment for my Creation, and what re­mains for me to give for my Redemption? and although I could repay my self a thousand times, what am I in comparison to my Lord?

ARTICLE. V. Of the particular Motives of the love of God drawn from the Blessed Sacrament.

IT should seem that love should not be able to advance further then that of our Lord hath done, and that the highest pitch to which it could possibly arrive were to dye for us, according to those words of our Lord. Jo. 15.13. Greater love then this no man hath, that he give up his Life for his Friend. But the same wisdom which taught this truth, hath given this distinction to our hand, no pure man hath greater love, human love reacheth no further; but the love of God made man is an [Page 372]exception to this generall rule: the divine love knows no bounds; it passeth beyond the bounds of death; and as it is ingenious, inventive, and omnipotent, it finds out innumerable ways to make its grandure and its excess appear.

The Charity of Jesus Christ was not content to lay down his life for us men and our Salvati­on; to reconcile us to God by his death, even then when we were his enemies, according to the remark of St. Paul, Rom. 5.10. or as St. Bernard in the place above-cited notes, to love us first, tantus & tantum & gratis, tantillos & tales, He being so great, to love so much, & gratis, such, and so con­temptible Persons; That is, with such an excess of love, and such an abasement of his greatness to love to an extremity even such pitifull & wretch­ed creatures, replenished with Sins, & all sorts of miseries, and all this gratis, that is without any interest of his side, but meerly upon the conside­ration of our good.

This divine love hath found out means how he may always be with us, and never depart from those, whom he hath loved so far as to dy for them; he hath found out an invention to remain with us, and yet be absent from us: and having withdrawn from us his visible presence, he hath nevertheless found out a way how still we may en­joy him. He hath given us his flesh for meat, and his blood for drink; he hath shut them up under the figure of Bread & Wine, that we might more commodiously receive them: and by means of this divine invention he enters into and takes possession of us, he Sanctifies our Soul and Body; he enlivens us with his grace; he cures our inte­riour maladies; he strengthens our weakness; in [Page 373]a word, He dwells in us, and we in him, as he him self affirms Jo. 6.57.

O Skillfull and ingenious love! O admirable in­vention, proper to God alone! Here we may af­firm with truth, what the Prophet Isay, said, ch. 45.15. vere tu es Deus absconditus Deus Israel.

In this Sacrament of the Eucharist God is truly hidden, because he hath herein invented a way to conceal the grandure of his Majesty, that so we might more easily approach unto him. and it is in this holy Sacrament that we may say with Da­vid, Ps. 30.20. O my God! how great without number are the effects of thy goodness, which thou reservest for the benefit of those, who hear thee, and hast made them appear in the sight of the whole world towards all those, who place their hopes in thee.

What return can we make to God for so extra­ordinary and so incomprehensible a good? For if we do not know how sufficiently to acknowledg the benefit of our creation, much less are we able to make any retutn for that of our redemption; how then can we testify our gratitude for this third effect, and the utmost excess of the divine goodness, wherein he not only gives himself for us, but bestows himself upon us; that we may truly enjoy & take possession of him? Quid Deo retribuam pro se? nam etsi millies me de­dero, quid sum ego ad Dominum meum? What shall I return to God, saith St. Bernard in the place a­bove-cited, Art. 4. in exchange for himself? al­tho' I should give my self to him a thousand times, what am I, when put in ballance with my God?

True it is, Theotime, we cannot return to God any thing worthy of him in acknowledgment of the rich present, which he hath made us of him­self: [Page 374]Yet at least we may afford him our love and affection, as far as we are able, saying with St. Bernard, ibid. I will love thee, O my God, my helper, for the offering thou hast made me of thy self, and that to the utmost of my power. It is true it can never equal thy deserts: Yet it shall not be inferiour to the power, with which thy holy grace shall enable me.

Me Deus immenso postquam dilexit amore,
Quis modus, at (que) mei finis Amoris erit?

ARTICLE VI. The practice of the Acts of Charity before Communion.

WHen we expect a person whom we most dearly love, we do three things.

1. We earnestly desire his coming.

2. We take all possible care to have all things in readiness for his kind reception, as Lodging, Entertainment, Banquets, and Presents.

3. We set forth upon our way to meet him. And it is but just that you perform these things in respect of Jesus Christ, whom you expect.

1. Wish from your heart for his dear presence, making use of those words of David, Psal. 41. As the Hart, parched up with drought, longeth after the fountains of Waters, so doth my Soul after thee, O Lord. O my God, my Soul sighs after thee, and languisheth away with desires to enjoy thee.

Veni Domine & noli tardare relaxa facinora servo tuo. Come, O my Lord, make haste, release and [Page 375]pardon me once more my Sins, and make me worthy of the favour which thou art about to bestow upon me.

2. Make all things ready to receive him; and altho' your Soul be already disposed by Confes­sion, see however, and examen again whether there remain not yet something that may be dis­pleasing in the Eyes of Jesus Christ, some secret Sin, some irregular affections, as a lye, an aver­sion against your Neighbour, or any sinfull, or dangerous affection. Leave not the least of all these things in your heart, but root them out by Contrition, and by a fixt and steady resolu­tion to amend your life. Make ready the enter­tainments, which you intend to give him, as soon as you have received him. Those which are most gratefull to him, are the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity, these also are the most delicious viands you can possibly present him with.

Prepare your self to make him an offering of your heart, to love him, and of your self, with all fidelity to serve him.

3. Set forth upon your way to meet him, and to invite him into your house by good thoughts and Holy affections. Cant. 5. Veniat dilectus meus in hortum suum. O Jesus, come into my Soul, as into a Garden, which much delights thee. Make her, O make her fit and worthy to receive thee: cleanse her, and vouchsafe to take away from her whatsoever may be Offensive to thee; plant in her, and adorn her with the flowers which best please thee, that is with Purity and Humility. Veni Domine Jesu. Come, O Saviour of my Soul; Come and save me by thy Grace, and deliver me from those Enemies, who design my Eternal ruine.

After Communion.

PErform that towards Jesus Christ which we are wont to do, when a Person of Quality, whom we have long expected, is arrived. For after the first meeting and salutation, we con­duct him to the apartment prepared for him, and there, we perform these four things.

1. We give him some great or signal testi­monies of our respect, friendship, and acknow­ledgment for the Honour which we receive by his presence. 2. We offer him the best things we have, & such as may be most pleasing to him. 3. If we have need of his assistance we beg such things as we want, & willingly would have. And in fine, 4. When he returns we give him thanks, acknowledging the honour of the visit, we renew and repeat to him the protestations of fidelity, friendship, and service. Behold, as in a pattern, how you are to behave your self towards Jesus Christ, immediately after Communion.

As soon therefore as you have receiv'd the Sa­cred host with much Faith, and a profound Hu­mility, adore our Lord who is within you. Then departing modestly from the holy Table, with­draw your self into some convenient place; and employ your self in the following thoughts.

Conduct our Lord, not into your body, since he is there already, but into the place of your Soul, wherein he most delights, that is, into your heart, and your affection; That is to say, [Page 377]six your thoughts upon him, and comply with the following duties.

Make acts of Adoration, of Love, and of Acknowledgment in this manner, and first

Of Adoration.

O my God and my Saviour Jesus Christ, I a­dore thee from the bottom of my heart; I firm­ly believe, that I now possess thy Body, thy Blood, thy Soul, and thy Divinity. I acknowledge that thou art in me all and every one of these ways. O Greatness of God! is it possible that thou shouldest humble thy self so low? O goodness! how immense art thou, and yet art pleased thus to remain with us!

Thou dost not only come and inhabit with us, but thou bestowest thy self upon us for our food and nourishment: and to whom? to a poor and wretched servant as I am: A Lord to his Slave: God to his creature: Jesus Christ to a Sinner. O res mirabilis manducat Dominum pauper, servus & humilis.

Altho' there were nothing else but my mean, and base condition, it would make me unworthy to receive thee; but I am become more unde­serving by my sins, and yet thou hast the good­ness, not only to say to me as David did to Mi­phiboseth, that I shall Eat at thy Table. 2. Reg. 9.7. Et tu comedes panem in mensa mea semper. But also thou thy self offerest thy self unto me for my food and nourishment. O Divine Goodness! how have I deserved such and so great favours? Ibid. Quis sum ego quoniam respexisti super canem mortuum?

Ponder well upon these words, and consider what you were before by sin: less in the sight [Page 378]of God, then a dead Dog in respect of his Ma­ster: and that you are now by his grace and fa­vour restored to the number of the Children of God, and seated at his Table, nourished with his Body and Blood. Next pass on to the Acts of Love and Acknowledgment.

Acts of Love towards Jesus Christ.

O My God, what return shall I make for this so signal favour, and what shall I do to ac­knowledge it? Is it possible that I should not con­tinually love thee, after this excess of love which thou hast shew'd me? Thou hast loved me to that degree as to lay down thy Life for my sake, and shall I not make this return as only to live for thee? Thou at present hast communicated thy self wholly to me, and shall not I be from hence­forward wholly thine! O my God permit me not to be so ungratefull and so insensible of thy Love and my own Salvation: I protest here be­fore thee, that I will be faithfull to thee for the future, that I will never part from thee by any disobedience to thy Commandments. Ps. 118.93. In aeternum non obliviscar justificationes tuas, quia in ipsis vivificasti me. I will never forget thy boun­ty, nor the favour which thou hast done me in admitting me to thy mercy. I will love thee with all my heart, O my Saviour. Ps. 17. Diligam te Domine fortitudo mea firmamentum meum, refugium meum, & liberator meus. I will love thee, and I do love thee, O my God, my strength, my support, my refuge, and my deliverer. Thou art my God and [Page 379]my All. Deus meus & omnia. What is there either in Heaven or upon Earth, that I should love besides thee? Ps. 72.25. Quid mihi est in Coelo, & a te quid volui super terram? Deus cordis mei, & pars mea Deus in aeternum. O my God, I will not love either in Heaven or Earth any thing but thee; Thou art the God of my heart, the inheritance and only happyness I pretend to, I have made choice of thee, and I will never change.

An Offering to Jesus Christ.

WHat shall I give thee, O my Saviour, in acknowledgment of thy favours, and as an earnest of the love which now I promise thee? I have not any thing worthy of thee; and if I had, I have nothing but what is from thee, and what is thine, and due to thee upon all ac­counts; but thou art pleased to accept what is thy own upon several heads. Hence it is that I offer my self unto thee, that is, my Body and my Soul, which are now sanctified by the Honour of thy Divine presence: I consecrate them both unto thee, since at present thou hast vouchsafed they should serve thee as a Temple: My Body never more to be employ'd as an Instrument of Sin: My Soul to know thee, to love thee, and evermore to be faithfull to thee. O Lord, bless, I beseech thee, the Present, which I make thee: Sanctify them both, since they have served thee for a Temple. Benedic Domine domum istam. Per­mit [Page 380]not that my Body be any more defiled with impure delights, nor my Soul by a will to com­mit any Mortal Sin. This resolution I here make in thy presence to be faithfull to thee, and to be all thine: to serve thee with Body and Soul; to correct the evil inclinations of them both: to fight against my self, and deny my self my won­ted pleasures, my Delights, my Passions, my Concupiscence, my Anger, my Ambition, my own will; and lastly, all whatsoever may offend thee, O my God.

A Prayer to Jesus Christ.

DOmine Deus, 1. Par. 29.18. Custodi in aeter­num hanc voluntatem. O my Saviour con­serve in my Soul this holy resolution which thou hast given me, and grant me grace to put it faithfully in execution: I can do nothing of my self and without thy assistance: I beg it of thee with all my heart that I may conquer all, tho' almost innumerable difficulties, which occurr in the way of my Salvation. Regard me with the eyes of thy Mercy, strengthen me daily with thy Grace. Psal. 24.16. Respice in me, & miserere mei, quia unicus & pauper sum ego. Tribulationes cordis mei multiplicatae sunt: de necessitatibus meis erue me.

When you have finished all these acts, you may proceed and make use of the Prayers in your Ma­nuall after Communion, or other vooal Prayers, according as your Devotion shall dictate to you: And I say the same also of the Prayers which the [Page 381]same Manuals have as a preparation to Commu­nion. But all this is to be understood, provided still that you apply your chief endeavours to the practise of the acts of some one or more of the precedent Virtues.

ARTICLE VII. Advices concerning the precedent practices of Faith, Hope, and Charity.

THese are some prescriptions to be be obser­ved concerning the practice, which we have given you, of these three Virtues in order to Com­munion.

The First is, that it is not necessary to em­ploy them all equally every time we Communi­nicate: because they may be too long: But it is enough that we insist particularly upon the practice of some one of the three, and to direct the principall fruit of the Commmunion to that End. Thus you may choose for one Communion the practice of Faith, for the next that of Hope, and Charity for the third.

Secondly, That you may reap the benefit of any of these Virtues, you must prepare your self beforehand by reading the practices, which we have given thereof, you shall read then that which you intend to practice; and take notice of the acts, and endeavour to understand them well, and make them your own.

Thirdly, When the time of Communion [Page 382]shall be at hand, you shall practice these acts, as you reade them here. But remember that your heart go along with your words: that is to say, that you reade them with attention, and perform them with heart and mind. To this end you must read them softly, repeat, and ru­minate upon them within your self, insisting upon those, which move you most. They are for the most part words taken out of Holy writ: which I collected on purpose that you may learn them with more ease, and that they may more efficaciously move you, being the very words of the Holy Ghost.

In fine, to conclude and reap the benefit of the practice of these three Virtues, employ some part of the day of your Communion in ponde­ring upon what you have practiced in the morn­ing: to this end reade the whole Chapter, which concerns that Virtue: and let it be the Spirituall Lesson for the day of your Communion.

ARTICLE VIII. Another Advice of Prayer to the Blessed Vir­gin before and after Communion.

THis is what I recommend unto you most earnestly, Dear Theotime, that you do not forget the prayer to the Blessed Virgin before and after Communion.

Before Communion, that you may obtain by her intercession, the grace to Communicate wor­thyly, [Page 383]conceiving, as she did, the Son of God in your heart, before you receive him in your body, as St. Ambrose affirm'd of her: Prius concepit men­te quam corpore. And that you may be replenish'd with those holy dispositions, whereby she merit­ed to receive the Son of God himself into her womb and particularly with those of Purity and Humility, which were the two virtues, by which, according to St. Bernard, she attracted to her the Son of God, She pleased him by her Virginity, and conceived him by her Humility, Virginitate placuit, humilitate concepit. For this reason you shall ad­dress your self unto her in this, or some such like manner.

A Prayer to the Blessed Virgin be­fore Communion.

O Blessed Virgin, most worthy mother of God, behold me upon the point of receiving him the very same person, whom thou didst con­ceive in thy chast bowells, and ready to partake of the adorable body and blood which he received from thee. It concerns thee, that he be received with all the respect and honour he deserves, and that he be not unworthyly treated by those upon whom he bestows himself with so much love. This is the cause, why I address my self unto thee, that thou wouldest vouchsafe to obtain of him in my behalf, all the blessings which I stand in need of in this Communion: Obtain of him that he take possession of my heart by love, before he [Page 384]enter into my body by the Sacrament. And that loving him I may be worthy to receive him. Beg, and by thy powerfull intercession obtain of him these dispositions for me, these two important virtues; which assured him unto thee, and ren­der'd thee deservedly his worthy mother, I mean Purity and Humility. That he find nothing in me, which may tast either of Impurity or Pride. And for this reason it is, that I detest from my heart these two Sins which infinitely displease both him & thee. And I am fully resolv'd to use all my en­deavours that I may perfectly acquire these two excellent virtues, by which I heartily desire to please him and to imitate thee, begging for this end his grace by thy holy intercession, which I implore with all my heart.

After Communion.

YOu shall pray to her, that by her intercession you may obtain grace to conserve her Son Jesus Christ, whom you have corporally received, also Spiritually in your Soul, as she her self after she had conceived & brought him into the world, preserved him always in her heart by means of that love, which kept her Soul continually fixed upon her dearly beloved Son: a love whereby she enjoy'd a greater happiness, then she did by being chosen the Mother of God; according to the sentiment of a Father of the Church: It is true, says Venerable Bede, in Luc. the Mother of God was truly happy upon this account, that she became [Page 385]his Mother in the Incarnation and conceived him in her body, but questionless she was much more happy, for that she conserved him perpetually in her heart by love, as she always did.

Form in your understanding a right conceit of this happiness, and pray to the Blessed Virgin that she will obtain it for you for ever. To this end direct the following prayer to her.

A Prayer to the Blessed Virgin after Communion.

IT is just, O Blessed Virgin, that thou partake of the thanks, which I am obliged to render to thy Son, since he hath been pleas'd I should re­ceive him in this Communion. It was to thee that this living bread descended from heaven, and from thee he took the body and blood, which he gives us for our food. Luc. 1.42. Blessed be thou amongst women and blessed be the fruit of thy womb. Let the Angells praise thee for that thou hast given us this fruit of life, and prepared for us this divine food, which nourisheth us, and brings us to everlasting bliss. Help me to preserve this fruit, that I may never loose it more. And as thou hadst grace after thou hadst happily born him in thy womb, to conserve him also more fortunate­ly in thy heart; obtain of him for me the like favour, without which this Communion would not be usefull to me: O Holy mother of God as­sist me, that I may conceive in my Soul thy Son Jesus Christ, that he may be born in me, that he may dayly increase, that he may there live and [Page 386]reign as absolute Lord and Master of my Soul.

You may add here any of those prayers, which the Church is used to make to her, as the hymn Ave Maris Stella. her Litanies, or the like.

ARTICLE IX. How we ought to spend the day of our Communion.

IT is an advice of very great consequence to spend all that day in Piety and Devotion, wherein you have performed so holy, so religious and so august an action; and to honour that day by the exercise of good works, upon which God hath been pleas'd to Sanctify you by his presence.

To spend it otherwise is to fail in your respect to Jesus Christ, and it happens but too often, that by this neglect of our duty we loose the greater part of the fruit, which otherwise we might reap from the holy Table of Communion.

What then you are to do, Theotime, on that day, is frequently in the day time to call to mind, and seriously to reflect upon the honour you have re­ceived, and to acknowledg that it is beyond your capacity sufficiently to esteem it.

2ly, Not to distract your mind either with vain divertisements, or with unprofitable & frivolous discourses: but to be more serious, modest and reserved, in all the actions of that day, remem­bring what honour it is, & how they value them­selves, who are admitted to the presence of a [Page 387]King, and consequently what hath been done to you, whilest you were chosen to be the Temple of Jesus Christ.

3ly. Employ all that day in good works, as far as you are able: as the rest of the morning in Di­vine Service, or reading some good book. After dinner in hearing the word of God, assisting at Evensong; and the remainder of the day either in discourse with good and virtuous persons, or in reading.

At night in your prayers be not unmindfull to give God thanks for your Communion, and for all the favours, which he hath bestowed upon you. Beseech him most earnestly that he will give you grace to benefit your self there-by the next day, and all the remainder of your life, and to practise well all the resolutions you have made upon this occasion.

But for the better complyance with these holy resolutions, remember that you renew them eve­ry day in your morning prayers, even to the day of your following Communion; and at night in your examen of conscience see and consider well whether you have faithfully fullfill'd them, or whether you have failed therein, and broke your promise, and in what? that so you may rectify your self out of hand, and set your self again in­to the right way of the Service of God, and the path of your own Salvation.

ARTICLE X. Of frequent Communion.

NOthing remains, but that I exhort you to Communicate often, dear Theotime, and benefit your self of the great advantages, which God presents you with in this Divine Sacra­ment.

It is in reality a great benefit to have Commu­nicated well in the manner we have but just now declared; But if after this, one abstain a long time from it, he endangers himself to loose the fruit of the foregoing Communion by relapsing into Sin and the disorders of his former Life.

There is a certain proportion betwixt Spiri­tual and Corporal nourishment. This requires we should take it, as often as the necessity of our Body shall require: and we need it according as the natural heat consumes our substance, and whatsoever else serves for its subsistance.

The same we must affirm of Spiritual food, which serves to repair the forces of the Soul, which are continually diminished and weakened by Concupiscence, and all the passions with which it is assaulted. If these forces are not fre­quently recruited, the Life of Grace is by degrees much weakned, and totally lost at length. Now that which serves to repair them is the Sacred Eucharist, which renews our strength and re­stores our Soul to her former vigour, weakening [Page 389]Concupiscence, diminishing the Passions, pre­serving her from Mortal, nay even from Venial Sins, as we have already said and proved at large.

After this is there any necessity of other mo­tives to persuade either you, or any other Chri­stian to frequent Communion? Certainly those, who are willing to do what is pleasing in the sight of God, and to continue in his grace, have need of none.

And, I suppose, you are one of that number: I exhort you then by the Charity of Jesus Christ, and by the excess of love, which he shewed us, in bestowing himself upon us in this adorable Mystery, as the best means for our Salvation, that you will frequently approach unto him in this Divine Sacrament; to the end he may remain in you and you in him, according as he himself hath promised, and you surely cannot but desire.

Consider that your Soul is always sick, and that these Distempers, if neglected, may bring you to Eternal Death. Come then to this great Physitian, who only is able to cure you, and pre­serve you from death, by this Bread, which he hath given, as himself affirms, for the Life of the World. Joan. 6.52. Panis quem ego dabo caro mea est pro mundi vita.

Ponder, O ponder well upon the earnest de­sire he hath to relieve you, in all your wants, and the ardent love with which he calls and even compels you to come unto him, Mat 11.28. Come to me all you that labour, and are burthened and I will refresh you:— In me you shall find the repose which your Souls desire. They who are not won with these so moving and vehement expressions, do they not evidently shew, that they are altoge­ther [Page 390]insensible of the love, which Jesus Christ hath so plainly testified he hath for them, and that they are enemies to their own Salvation? Is it possible that you should be one of these? Look to it, for if you be, you are not of the number of the Children of God: for Children listen and attend to the voice of their Father; come to him willingly, and esteem themselves happy in his company; and above all they take it for a peculiar honour, that they are admitted to eat at his Table.

What shame is it then for Christians so to neglect so great a treasure, and so nigh at hand; to be just at the Spring-head of Divine Graces, and not esteem them; to remain in the death of Sin, when the Fountain of Life is at their dispo­sal, Ezech. 33.11. quare moriemini domus Israel? and why do you deliver your selves to death, O house of Israel? O Christians amongst whom God hath chose his habitation upon earth, why do you suf­fer your selves thus to dye, having the author of Life so near you; who invites you to come, and threatens you, if you do not accept his invitation. Crying out to you in a loud voice, John 6.54. un­less ye eat my Body and drink my Blood, you shall have no life in you. Adding that he who eateth me shall live for my sake. After such threats, if we do not come, and so great assurance if we do; what can we alledge before the divine Tribunall at the day of judgment, if still we are at a distance from him, from God the Fountain of life, and conti­nue still companions to the enemy of mankind in the state of death and Sin? and this because we are unwilling so to live, that frequently we may partake of this living and life-giving bread.

Call to mind the feast in the parable, Luc. 14. where the Master of the house shewed so much anger and indignation against those who refused to come, after they had been so solemnly invited. They excused themselves the best they could, some with their affairs, others with their plea­sures; one said he was obliged to go to his coun­try house, another that he went to try the Ox­en he had bought; and the third that he was taken up and employed about his marriage: but not any of these excuses were admitted, they were all rejected as frivolous pleas, and therefore themselves for framing them were all judged worthy to be, not only then but ever after, ex­cluded from that Banquet.

And this is the method which God shall use to­wards Christians, who refrain from the Sacra­ments, upon the vain pretences, which usually they form to themselves; for all their excuses shall be rejected and themselves punished, as in in the Parable we have seen.

To those who shall excuse themselves with the affairs and employments of the world, it shall be answer'd, that there is no concern of such im­portance, as that of their Salvation; which there­fore they ought to prefer before all other things. And they shall be reproached with this, that they have prefer'd their temporal concerns before their eternal happiness: and made more account of the possessions of this world, then of the grace of God.

To those, who shall excuse themselves, with the indispositions of their Soul, saying, that they have not that virtue which is required for fre­quent Communion. One may reply, that their excuse is but too true, yet it is a very bad one; [Page 392]for that it is their duty so to live, that they may Communicate dayly, and to use all imaginable industry to render themselves capable thereof.

Lastly, we shall find that there is no other cause why people communicate but seldom, besides their sloath, their indevotion, and fear, lest, if they should frequent the Sacraments, thereby they shou'd be obliged to live holily; and in a word, a will, or a tacit resolution not to amend their lives, but to remain in their Sins, their Pleasures, their Covetuousness, Ambition, and in all their irregular affections.

O Theotime, avoid this great misfortune; this fault so generall, and yet so common amongst Christians, who slight in this manner their Salva­tion, and the great advantages which by the good­ness & Mercy of God are presented to them. Learn in time to set a great value on them, & to advan­tage your self from thence, approaching frequent­ly to these divine mysteries instituted by God, the means for your Salvation.

Begin this exercise from your youth, and con­tinue it thence-forward all your life, that you may perform it dayly better and better, and of­tener approach to the Holy Table of Commu­nion, and receive our Lord.

ARTICLE XI. When and how often we ought to Communicate.

THe time, which you ought most commonly to observe in your communion, is that of e­very month; so that you should not exceed that time without giving your Soul the opportunity to partake of this divine nourishment of the holy Eucharist.

It is very hard for you to stay so long without having a considerable want of help to resist the temptations of your Ghostly enemy; or repress the passions which spring from your age and the heat of blood. You have need of strength, where­by you may be able to withstand the Devil, as al­so of a good preservative against your self: The one and the other you shall find in the holy com­munion, wherefore it is fit you have recourse unto it according to the proportion of the neces­sity you find that you have thereof.

Beside, it is necessary that you grow up and en­crease in the fear of God, and in all Christian virtues, Faith, Hope, Charity, Humility, Tem­perance, Modesty, and the rest; Which you can never do, if you Communicate but seldom.

Take this then for a general rule, that regu­larly speaking you Communicate once a month, and oftener upon either of these occasions.

1st. When there happens any Solemn feast, as of our Lord, or of the Blessed Virgin, which you should never let pass without receiving the Bles­sed Sacrament; both because you should honour the Feast by this Sacred action, as also make your self worthy to partake of the graces which God more liberally distributes, in respect of the uni­ted prayers of the faithfull, on those days.

The 2d is, when you perceive in your self a­ny considerable want thereof, as when you are assaulted with more violent, or more frequent temptations, for then you must have recourse to this remedy to strengthen you, least you fall into mortall Sin.

And if by misfortune it have so happen'd, that you are already faln therein, for want of due fore­sight of the fall (which easily happens not only to young people, but to many others, by reason they are not sensible of the evil before it be faln upon them) in this case, Theotime, take care to con­fess your self forthwith: And as for Communi­on take the advice of your Ghostly father, whe­ther it be to receive that day, if he find you suffi­ently disposed, or to defer it some days longer, during which time you may prepare your self for it by doing penance for your Sins, and deploring in the presence of God the misery which hath be­faln you.

Behold what you are to observe concerning the time of Communion, whilst yet you are young. When you shall be more advanc'd in age, in judgment, and in the love of God, you may Communicate more frequently still, according to the counsell you shall receive in that point, supposing you have a good guide, and according [Page 395]to the desire you shall find in your self to advance in virtue and in the service of God: A desire which however it ought to be always very vehe­ment and strong, yet should it dayly increase in you more and more.

An Advice of great Consequence.

BUt I advise you at all times, and especially in this, wherein actually you now are, carefully to avoid three faults, which are incident easily to them, who Communicate upon set days.

The 1st is, that they communicate by custome, and by course, without proposing to themselves an end or design in their communion.

The 2d is, that they Communicate with lit­tle or no preparation, and without devotion.

The 3d is, that they reap no fruit or very lit­tle, persisting still in the same vitious habits of in­numerable veniall, and many times mortall Sins.

These are three faults which prejudice fre­quent Communion in an high degree, and which makes one lose the greatest part of the fruit thereof, and renders it oftentimes rather worse, then better for us.

Let it be your chief care to avoid them, and to this end remember every time you come to com­municate, to comply with these three duties di­rectly opposite to the former faults.

First, to propose to your self always a good end; which you hope to compass by means of your Communion; such as is above-mentioned, [Page 396] viz. to please God, to advance in his grace, and to strengthen or to ground your self better in virtue.

2ly. Prepare your self always the best you can, and endeavour to stir your self up to some act of great devotion: and to this effect take care that you put in practise the directions we have for­merly given upon this Subject.

3ly. Endeavour to amend your evil habits, and to make good use of all the graces which you have received by means of this Blessed Sacra­ment. It is a matter of high concern, and of which you ought to have a speciall care.

Remember that there are two faults which you ought equally to eschew in the holy Commu­nion. The one is to Communicate too seldom: the other is to Communicate often, but to no effect. By the First, one neglects and looses the graces of God; by the Second, one abuses those, which one has received: both which leade di­rectly to damnation.

Fly these two rocks, upon either of which your Salvation may easily suffer shipwrack. Communi­cate often with the disposition above-mention'd; and advantage your self of the Holy Communi­on, in order to the amendment of your life, your advancement in virtue, and the love of God. If you do thus, Theotime, the blessing of God will fall upon your devotion; and he will dayly shower new graces upon your Soul, that you may better serve him all the remainder of your days in this, and enjoy him perfectly in the next life for evermore. Amen.



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