« VorigeDoorgaan »
known and unknown, repented and unrepented, of ignorancé or infirmity, which thou knowest, or which others have accused thee of; thy clamorous and thy whispering sins, the sins of scandal and the sins of a secret conscience, of the flesh and of the spirit: for it would be but a sad arrest to thy soul wandering in strange and unusual regions, to see a scroll of uncancelled sins represented and charged upon thee for want of care and notices, and that thy repentance shall become invalid, because of its imperfections.
4. To this purpose it is usually advised by spiritual persons, that the sick man make an universal confession, or a renovation and repetition of all the particular confessions and accusations of his whole life; that now, at the foot of his account, he may represent the sum total to God and his conscience, and make provisions for their remedy and pardon, according to his present possibilities.
5. Now is the time to make reflex acts of repentance: that as by a general repentance, we supply the want of the just extension of parts; so, by this, we may supply the proper measures of the intension of degrees. In our health, we can consider concerning our own acts, whether they be real or bypocritical, essential or imaginary, sincere or upon interest, integral or imperfect, commensurate or defective, And although it is a good caution of securities, after all our care and diligence still to suspect ourselves and our own deceptions, and for ever to beg of God pardon and acceptance in the union of Christ's passion and intercession; yet, in proper speaking, reflex acts of repentance, being a suppletory after the imperfection of the direct, are then most fit to be used, when we cannot proceed in and prosecute the direct actions. To repent because we cannot repent, and to grieve because we cannot grieve, was a device invented to serve the turn of the mother of Peter Gratian; but it was used by her, and so advised to be, in her sickness, and last actions of repentance for in our perfect health and understanding if we do not understand our first act, we cannot discern our second; and if we be not sorry for our sins, we cannot be sorry for want of sorrows: it is a contradiction to say we can; because want of sorrow, to which we are obliged, is certainly a great sin; and if we can grieve for that, then also for the rest; if not for all, then not for this. But in the days of
weakness the case is otherwise; for then our actions are im perfect, our discourse weak, our internal actions not discernible, our fears great, our work to be abbreviated, and our defects to be supplied by spiritual arts: and therefore it is proper and proportionate to our state, and to our necessity, to beg of God pardon for the imperfections of our repentance, acceptance of our weaker sorrows, supplies out of the treasures of grace and mercy. And thus repenting of the evil and unhandsome adherences of our repentance, in the whole integrity of the duty it will become a repentance not to be repented of.
6. Now is the time, beyond which the sick man must, at no hand, defer to make restitution of all his unjust possessions, or other men's rights, and satisfactions for all injuries and violences, according to his obligation, and possibilities: for although many circumstances might impede the acting it in our life-time, and it was permitted to be deferred in many cases, because by it justice was not hindered, and oftentimes piety and equity were provided for; yet because this is the last scene of our life, he that does not act it, so far as he can, or put it into certain conditions and order of effecting, can never do it again, and therefore then to defer it is to omit, and leaves the repentance defective in an integral and constituent part.
7. Let the sick man be diligent and watchful, that the principle of his repentance be contrition, or sorrow for sins, commenced upon the love of God. For although sorrow for sins upon any motive may lead us to God by many intermedial passages, and is the threshold of returning sinners; yet it is not good nor effective upon our death-bed; because repentance is not then to begin, but must then be finished and completed; and it is to be a supply and preparation of all the imperfections of that duty, and therefore it must by that time be arrived to contrition; that is, it must have grown from fear to love, from the passions of a servant to the affections of a son. The reason of which (besides the precedent) is this, Because, when our repentance is in this state, it supposes the man also in a state of grace, a well-grown Christian; for to hate sin out of the love of God is not the felicity of a
bou pendre, ou rendre, on les peines d'enfers attendre.
new convert, or an infant grace, (or if it be, that love also is in its infancy;) but it supposes a good progress, and the man habitually virtuous, and tending to perfection: and therefore contrition, or repentance so qualified, is useful to great degrees of pardon, because the man is a gracious person, and that virtue is of good degree, and consequently a fit employment for him, that shall work no more, but is to appear before his Judge to receive the hire of his day. And if his repentance be contrition even before this state of sickness, let it be increased by spiritual arts, and the proper exercises of charity.
Means of exciting Contrition, or repentance of Sins, proceeding from the Love of God.
To which purpose the sick man may consider, and is to be reminded (if he does not) that there are in God all the motives and causes of amiability in the world: that God is so infinitely good, that there are some of the greatest and most excellent spirits of heaven, whose work, and whose fe licity, and whose perfections, and whose nature it is, to flame and burn in the brightest and most excellent love; that to love God is the greatest glory of heaven: that in him there are such excellences, that the smallest rays of them, communicated to our weaker understandings, are yet sufficient to cause ravishments, and transportations, and satisfactions, and joys unspeakable and full of glory: that all the wise Christians of the world know and feel such causes to love God, that they all profess themselves ready to die for the love of God, and the apostles and millions of the martyrs did die for him: and although it be harder to live in his love than to die for it, yet all the good people, that ever gave their names to Christ, did, for his love, endure the crucifying their lusts, the mortification of their appetites, the contradictions and death of their most passionate, natural desires: that kings and queens have quitted their diadems, and many married saints have turned their mutual vows into the love of Jesus, and married him only, keeping a virgin chastity in a married life, that they may more tenderly express their love to God: that all the good we have, derives from God's love to us, and all the good we can hope for, is
the effect of his love, and can descend only upon them, that love him that by his love it is, that we receive the holy Jesus, and by his love we receive the Holy Spirit, and by his love we feel peace and joy within our spirits, and by his love we receive the mysterious sacrament. And what can be greater, than that from the goodness and love of God we receive Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, and adoption, and the inheritance of sons, and to be coheirs with Jesus, and to have pardon of our sins, and a Divine nature, and restraining grace, and the grace of sanctification, and rest and peace within us, and a certain expectation of glory? Who can choose but love him, who, when we had provoked him exceedingly, sent his Son to die for us, that we might live with him; who does so desire to pardon us and save us, that he hath appointed his holy Son continually to intercede for us? that his love is so great, that he offers us great kindness, and entreats us to be happy, and makes many decrees in heaven concerning the interest of our soul, and the very provision and support of our persons, that he sends an angel to attend upon every of his servants, and to be their guard and their guide in all their dangers and hostilities: that for our sakes he restrains the devil, and put his mightiness in fetters and restraints, and chastises his malice with decrees of grace and safety that he it is, who makes all the creatures serve us, and takes care of our sleeps, and preserves all plants and elements, all minerals and vegetables, all beasts and birds, all fishes and insects, for food to us and for ornament, for physic and instruction, for variety and wonder, for delight and for religion that as God is all good in himself, and all good to us, so sin is directly contrary to God, to reason, to religion, to safety and pleasure, and felicity: that it is a great dishonour to a man's spirit to have been made a fool by a weak temptation and an empty lust; and to have rejected God, who is so rich, so wise, so good, and so excellent, so delicious, and so profitable to us: that all the repentance in the world of excellent men does end in contrition, or a sorrow for sins proceeding from the love of God; because they that are in the state of grace, do not fear hell violently, and so long as they remain in God's favour, although they suffer the infirmities of men, yet they are God's portion; and therefore all the repentance of just and holy men, which is cer
tainly the best, is a repentance not for lower ends, but because they are the friends of God, and they are full of indignation, that they have done an act against the honour of their patron, and their dearest Lord and Father: that it is a huge imperfection and a state of weakness to need to be moved with fear or temporal respects; and they that are so, as yet are either immerged in the affections of the world or of themselves; and those men that bear such a character, are not yet esteemed laudable persons, or men of good natures, or the sons of virtue: that no repentance can be lasting, that relies upon any thing but the love of God; for temporal motives may cease, and contrary contingencies may arise, and fear of hell may be expelled by natural or acquired hardnesses, and is always the least, when we have most need of it, and most cause for it; for the more habitual our sins are, the more cauterized our conscience is, the less is the fear of hell, and yet our danger is much the greater: that although fear of hell or other temporal motives may be the first inlet to a repentance, yet repentance, in that constitution and under those circumstances, cannot obtain pardon, because there is in that no union with God, no adhesion to Christ, no endearment of passion or of spirit, no similitude or conformity to the great instrument of our peace, our glorious Mediator: for as yet a man is turned from his sin, but not converted to God; the first and last of our returns to God being love, and nothing but love: for obedience is the first part of love, and fruition is the last; and because he that does not love God, cannot obey him, therefore he that does not love him, cannot enjoy him.
Now that this may be reduced to practice, the sick man may be advertised, that in the actions of repentance, he separate low, temporal, sensual and self-ends from his thoughts, and so do his repentance, that he may still reflect honour upon God, that he confess his justice in punishing, that he acknowledge himself to have deserved the worst of evils; that he heartily believe and profess, that if he perish finally, yet that God ought to be glorified by that sad event, and that he hath truly merited so intolerable a calamity: that he also be put to make acts of election and preference, professing that he would willingly endure all temporal evils, rather than be in the disfavour of God or in the state of sin; for,