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never had it will be hard to make them understand their ignorance it requires knowledge to perceive it; and therefore he, that can perceive it, hath it not. But by this pressing the conscience with omissions, I do not mean recessions, or distances from states of eminency or perfection: for although they may be used by the ministers as an instrument of humility, and a chastiser of too big a confidence; yet that, which is to be confessed and repented of, is omission of duty in direct instances and matters of commandment, or collateral and personal obligations, and is especially to be considered by kings and prelates, by governors and rich persons, by guides of souls and presidents of learning in public charge, and by all other in their proportions.
10. The ministers of religion must take care, that the sick man's confession be as minute and particular as it can, and that as few sins, as may be, be entrusted to the general prayer of pardon for all sins; for by being particular and enumerative of the variety of evils, which have disordered his life, his repentance is disposed to be more pungent and afflictive, and therefore more salutary and medicinal: it hath in it more sincerity, and makes a better judgment of the final condition of the man; and from thence it is certain, the hopes of the sick man can be more confident and reasonable.
11. The spiritual man, that assists at the repentance of the sick, must not be inquisitive into all the circumstances of the particular sins, but be content with those, that are direct parts of the crime, and aggravations of the sorrow; such as frequency, long abode, and earnest choice in acting them; violent desires, great expense, scandal of others; dishonour to the religion, days of devotion, religious solemnities, and holy places; and the degrees of boldness and impudence, perfect resolution and the habit. If the sick person be reminded or inquired into concerning these, it may prove a good instrument to increase his contrition, and perfect his penitential sorrows, and facilitate his absolution, and the means of his amendment. But the other circumstances, as of the relative person in the participation of the crime, the measures or circumstances of the impure action, the name of the injured man or woman, the quality or accidental condition: these and all the like are but questions
springing from curiosity, and producing scruple, and apt to turn into many inconveniences.
12. The minister in this duty of repentance, must be diligent to observe concerning the person, that repents, that he be not imposed upon by some one excellent thing, that was remarkable in the sick man's former life. For there are some people of one good thing. Some are charitable to the poor out of kind-heartedness, and the same good nature makes them easy and compliant with drinking persons, and they die with drink, but cannot live with charity: and their alms, it may be, shall deck their monument, or give them the reward of loving persons, and the poor man's thanks for alms, and procure many temporal blessings; but it is very sad, that the reward should be soon spent in this world. Some are rarely just persons, and punctual observers of their word with men, but break their promises with God, and make no scruple of that. In these and all the like cases, the spiritual man must be careful to remark, that good proceeds from an entire and integral cause, and evil from every part: that one sickness can make a man die; but he cannot live and be called a sound man without an entire health; and therefore, if any confidence arises upon that stock, so as that it hinders the strictness of the repentance, it must be allayed with the representment of this sad truth, "that he who reserves one evil in his choice, hath chosen an evil portion," and Coloquintida and death is in the pot: and he that worships the God of Israel with a frequent sacrifice, and yet upon the anniversary will bow in the house of Venus, and loves to see the follies and the nakedness of Rimmon, may eat part of the flesh of the sacrifice, and fill his belly, but shall not be refreshed by the holy cloud arising from the altar, or the dew of heaven descending upon the mysteries.
13. And yet the minister is to estimate, that one, or more good things, is to be an ingredient into his judgment concerning the state of his soul, and the capacities of his restitution, and admission to the peace of the church: and according as the excellency and usefulness of the grace hath been, and according to the degrees and the reasons of its
• Nunc si depositum non inficiatur amicus,
Si reddat veterem cum tota ærugine follem,
Prodigiosa fides et Thuscis digna libellis.-Juven. Sạt. xiii. 62.
prosecution, so abatements are to be made in the injunctions and impositions upon the penitent. For every virtue is one degree of approach to God; and though, in respect of the acceptation, it is equally none at all, that is, it is as certain a death if a man dies with one mortal wound, as if he had twenty; yet in such persons, who have some one or more excellences, though not an entire piety, there is naturally a nearer approach to the estate of grace, than in persons, who have done evils, and are eminent for nothing that is good. But in making judgment of such persons, it is to be inquired into, and noted accordingly, why the sick person was so eminent in that one good thing; whether by choice and apprehension of his duty, or whether it was a virtue from which his state of life ministered nothing to dehort or discourage him, or whether it was only a consequent of his natural temper and constitution. If the first, then it supposes him in the neighbourhood of the state of grace, and that in other things he was strongly tempted. The second is a felicity of his education, and an effect of Providence. The third is a felicity of his nature, and a gift of God in order to spiritual purposes. But yet of every one of these, advantage is to be made. If the conscience of his duty was the principle, then he is ready formed to entertain all other graces upon the same reason, and his repentance must be made more sharp and penal; because he is convinced to have done against his conscience in all the other parts of his life; but the judgment concerning his final state ought to be more gentle, because it was a huge temptation, that hindered the man and abused his infirmity. But if either his calling or his nature were the parents of the grace, he is in the state of a moral man (in the just and proper meaning of the word), and to be handled accordingly: that virtue disposed him rarely well to many other good things, but was no part of the grace of sanctification; and therefore the man's repentance is to begin anew, for all that, and is to be finished in the returns of health, if God gratis it; but if he denies it, it is much, very much the worse for all that sweet-natured virtue.
14. When the confession is made, the spiritual man is to execute the office of a restorer and a judge, in the following particulars and manner.
Of the ministering to the Restitution and Pardon, or Reconciliation of the sick Person, by administering the holy Sacra
"If any man be overtaken in a fault, ye, which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness P;" that is the commission: and, "Let the elders of the church pray over the sick man; and, if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him ";" that is the effect of his power and his ministry. But concerning this, some few things are to be considered.
1. It is the office of the presbyters and ministers of religion to declare public criminals and scandalous persons to be such, that, when the leprosy is declared, the flock may avoid the infection; and then the man is excommunicate, when the people are warned to avoid the danger of the man, or the reproach of the crime, to withdraw from his society, and not to bid him God speed, not to eat and celebrate sy-naxes and church-meetings with such, who are declared criminal and dangerous. And therefore excommunication is, in a very great part, the act of the congregation and communities of the faithful: and St. Paul said to the church of the Corinthians', that they had inflicted the evil upon the incestuous person, that is, by excommunicating him: all the acts' of which are, as they are subjected in the people, acts of caution and liberty; but no more acts of direct, proper power or jurisdiction, than it was, when the scholars of Simon Magus left his chair, and went to hear St. Peter: but as they are actions of the rulers of the church, so they are declarative, ministerial, and effective too by moral causality, that is, by persuasion and discourse, by argument and prayer, by homily and material representment, by reasonableness of order and the superinduced necessities of men; though not by any real change of state as to the person, nor by diminu-> tion of his right, or violence to his condition.
2. He that baptizes, and he that ministers the holy sacra
ment, and he that prays, does holy offices of great advantage; but in these also, just as in the former, he exercises no jurisdiction or pre-eminence after the manner of secular authority; and the same is also true, if he should deny them. He that refuseth to baptize an indisposed person, hath, by the consent of all men, no power or jurisdiction over the unbaptized man: and he, that, for the like reason, refuseth to give him the communion, preserves the sacredness of the mysteries, and does charity to the undisposed man, to deny that to him, which will do him mischief: and this is an act of separation, just as it is for a friend or physician to deny water to an hydropic person, or Italian wines to a hectic fever, or as if Cato should deny to salute Bibulus, or the censor of manners to do countenance to a wanton and a vicious person. And though this thing was expressed by words of power, such as separation, abstention, excommunication, deposition; yet these words we understand by the thing itself, which was notorious and evident to be matter of prudence, security, and a free, unconstrained discipline: and they passed into power by consent and voluntary submission; having the same effect of constraint, fear and authority, which we see in secular jurisdiction; not because ecclesiastical discipline hath a natural proper coercion as lay-tribunals have, but because men have submitted to it, and are bound to do so upon the interest of two or three Christian graces.
In pursuance of this caution and provision, the church superinduced times and manners of abstention, and expressions of sorrow, and canonical punishments, which they tied the delinquent people to suffer, before they would admit them to the holy table of the Lord. For the criminal having obliged himself by his sin, and the church having declared it, when she should take notice of it, he is bound to repent, to make him capable of pardon with God; and to prove that he is penitent, he is to do such actions, which the church, in the virtue and pursuance of repentance, shall accept as a testimony of it, sufficient to inform her: for as she could not
• Homines in remissione peccatorum ministerium suum exbibent, uon jus alicujus potestatis exercent: Neque enim in suo, sed in nomine Patris, Filii, et Spiritûs Sancti, peccata dimittuntur: Isti rogant, Divinitas donat.—St.Amb. de Spir. S. 1. iii.