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misery, if he shall so profane the body and blood of Christ, as to take it into so unholy a breast, where Satan reigns, and sin is principal, and the Spirit is extinguished, and Christ loves not to enter, because he is not suffered to inhabit. But when he professes repentance, and does such acts of it, as his present condition permits, he is to be presumed to intend heartily, what he professes solemnly; and the minister is only the judge of outward act, and by that only he is to take information concerning the inward. But whether he be so or no, or if he be, whether that be timely, and effectual and sufficient toward the pardon of sins before God, is another consideration, of which we may conjecture here, but we shall know it at doomsday. The spiritual man is to do his ministry by the rules of Christ, and as the customs of the church appoint him, and after the manner of men: the event is in the hands of God, and is to be expected, not directly and wholly according to his ministry, but to the former life, or the timely internal repentance and amendment, of which I have already given accounts. These ministries are acts of order and great assistances, but the sum of affairs does not rely upon them. And if any man puts his whole repentance upon this time, or all his hopes upon these ministries, he will find them and himself to fail.
10. It is the minister's office to invite sick and dying persons to the holy sacrament; such, whose lives were fair and laudable, and yet their sickness sad and violent, making them listless and of slow desires, and slower apprehensions: that such persons, who are in the state of grace, may lose no accidental advantages of spiritual improvement, but may receive into their dying bodies the symbols and great consignations of the resurrection, and into their souls the pledges of immortality; and may appear before God their father in the union and with the impresses and likeness of their elder brother. But if the persons be of ill report, and have lived wickedly, they are not to be invited; because their case is hugely suspicious, though they then repent and call for
Sævi quoque et implacabiles domini crudelitatem suam impediunt, si, quando pœnitentia fugitivos reduxit, dedititiis hostibus parcimus.
Quæcunque ergò de pœnitentia jubendo dicta sunt, non ad exteriorem, sed ad interiorem referenda sunt, sine qua nullus unquam Deo reconciliari poterit.-Gratian. de pœnit. d. 1. Quis aliquando.
mercy: but if they demand it, they are not to be denied: only let the minister, in general, represent the evil.consequence of an unworthy participation; and if the penitent will judge himself unworthy, let him stand candidate for pardon at the hands of God, and stand or fall by that unerring and merciful sentence; to which his severity of condemning himself before men will make the easier and more hopeful address. And the strictest among the Christians, who denied to reconcile lapsed persons after baptism, yet acknowledged, that there were hopes reserved in the court of heaven for them, though not here: since we, who are easily deceived by the pretences of a real return, are tied to dispense God's graces, as he hath given us commission, with fear and trembling, and without too forward confidences; and God hath mercies, which we know not of; and therefore, because we know them not, such persons were referred to God's tribunal, where he would find them, if they were to be had at all.
11. When the holy sacrament is to be administered, let the exhortation be made proper to the mystery, but fitted to the man; that is, that it be used for the advantages of faith, or love, or contrition: let all the circumstances and parts of the Divine love be represented, all the mysterious advantages of the blessed sacrament be declared; that it is the bread which came from heaven; that it is the representation of Christ's death to all the purposes and capacities of faith, and the real exhibition of Christ's body and blood to all the purposes of the Spirit; that it is the earnest of the resurrection, and the seed of a glorious immortality; that as, by our cognation to the body of the first Adam, we took in death, so, by our union with the body of the second Adam, we shall have the inheritance of life (for as by Adam came death, so by Christ cometh the resurrection of the dead"); that if we, being worthy communicants of these sacred pledges, be presented to God with Christ within us, our being accepted of God is certain, even for the sake of his well-beloved, that dwells within us; that this is the sacrament of that body, which was broken for our sins, of that blood, which purifies our souls, by which we are presented to God pure and holy in the beloved; that now we may ascertain our hopes, and make our faith confident; "for he that hath given us his Son,
c 1 Cor. ii. 3.
d 1 Cor. xv. 22.
how should not he, with him, give us all things else?" Upon these, or the like considerations, the sick man may be assisted in his address, and his faith strengthened, and his hope confirmed, and his charity be enlarged.
12. The manner of the sick man's reception of the holy sacrament, hath in it nothing differing from the ordinary solemnities of the sacrament, save only that abatement is to be made of such accidental circumstances, as by the laws and customs of the church, healthful persons are obliged to; such as fasting, kneeling, &c. Though I remember, that it was noted for great devotion in the legate that died at Trent, that he caused himself to be sustained upon his knees, when he received the viaticum or the holy sacrament before his death; and it was greater in Huniades, that he caused himself to be carried to the church, that there he might receive his Lord, in his Lord's house; and it was recorded for honour, that William, the pious archbishop of Bourges, a small time before his last agony, sprang out of his bed at the presence of the holy sacrament, and, upon his knees and his face, recommended his soul to his Saviour. But in these things, no man is to be prejudiced or censured.
13. Let not the holy sacrament be administered to dying persons, when they have no use of reason to make that duty acceptable, and the mysteries effective to the purposes of the soul. For the sacraments and ceremonies of the gospel operate not without the concurrent actions and moral influences of the suscipient. To infuse the chalice into the cold lips of the clinic may disturb his agony; but cannot relieve the soul, which only receives improvement by acts of grace and choice, to which the external rites are apt and appointed to minister in a capable person. All other persons, as fools, children, distracted persons, lethargical, apoplectical, or any ways senseless and incapable of human and reasonable acts, are to be assisted only by prayers: for they may prevail even for the absent, and for enemies, and for all those who join not in the office.
e Rom. viii. 32.
Vide Rule of Holy Living, chap. 4. sect. 10. and Hist. of the Life of Jesus, part 3. Disc. 18.
Of ministering to the sick person by the spiritual man, as he is the Physician of Souls.
1. In all cases of receiving confessions of sick men, and the assisting to the advancement of repentance, the minister is to apportion to every kind of sin such spiritual remedies, which are apt to mortify and cure the sin; such as abstinence from their occasions and opportunities, to avoid temptations, to resist their beginnings, to punish the crime by acts of indignation against the person, fastings and prayer, alms and all the instances of charity, asking forgiveness, restitution of wrongs, satisfaction of injuries, acts of virtue contrary to the crimes. And although, in great and dangerous sicknesses, they are not directly to be imposed, unless they are direct matters of duty; yet where they are medicinal, they are to be insinuated, and in general signification remarked to him, and undertaken accordingly: concerning which, when he returns to health, he is to receive particular advices. And this advice was inserted into the penitential of England, in the time of Theodore, archbishop of Canterbury, and afterwards adopted into the canon of the western churches.
2. The proper temptations of sick men, for which a remedy is not yet provided, are unreasonable fears, and unreasonable confidences, which the minister is to cure by the following considerations.
Considerations against unreasonable Fears of not having
Many good men, especially such, who have tender consciences, impatient of the least sin, to which they are arrived by a long grace, and a continual observation of their actions, and the parts of a lasting repentance, many times overact their tenderness, and turn their caution into scruple, and care of their duty into inquiries after the event, and askings after the counsels of God, and the sentences of doomsday.
He that asks of the standers-by, or of the minister, whether they think he shall be saved or damned, is to be answered with the words of pity and reproof. Seek not after 8 Caus. 26. Q. 7. ab infirmis.
new light for the searching into the private records of God: look as much as you list into the pages of revelation, for they concern your duty: but the event is registered in heaven, and we can expect no other certain notices of it, but that it shall be given to them, for whom it is prepared by the Father of mercies. We have light enough to tell our duty; and if we do that, we need not fear, what the issue will be; and if we do not, let us never look for more light, or inquire after God's pleasure concerning our souls, since we so little serve his ends in those things, where he hath given us light. But yet this I add, that as pardon of sins, in the Old Testament", was nothing but removing the punishment, which then was temporal, and therefore many times they could tell, if their sins were pardoned; and concerning pardon of sins they then had no fears of conscience, but while the punishment was on them, for so long indeed it was unpardoned, and how long it would so remain, it was matter of fear, and of present sorrow: besides this, in the gospel, pardon of sins is another thing; pardon of sins is a sanctification; Christ came to take away our sins, by turning every one of us from our iniquities; and there is not in the nature of the thing any expectation of pardon, or sign or signification of it, but so far as the thing itself discovers itself. As we hate sin, and grow in grace, and arrive at the state of holiness, which is also a state of repentance and imperfection, but yet of sincerity of heart and diligent endeavour; in the same degree we are to judge concerning the forgiveness of sins for indeed that is the evangelical forgiveness, and it signifies our pardon, because it effects it, or rather it is in the nature of the thing; so that we are to inquire into no hidden records: forgiveness of sins is not a secret sentence, a word or a record; but it is a state of change, and effected upon us; and upon ourselves we are to look for it, to read it, and understand it. We are only to be curious of our duty, and confident of the article of remission of sins*; and the conclusion of these premises will be, that we shall be full of hopes of a prosperous resurrection; and our fear and trembling are no instances of our calamity, but parts of
h Matt. ix. 6.
Acts, iii. 26.
Est modus gloriandi in conscientia, ut noveris fidem tuam esse sinceram, spem tuam esse certam.-August. Psal. cxlix.