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by this last instance, he will be quitted from the suspicion of leaving sin for temporal respects, because he, by an act of imagination or feigned presence of the object to him, entertains the temporal evil, that he may leave the sin; and therefore, unless he be a hypocrite, does not leave the sin to be quit of the temporal evil. And as for the other motive of leaving sin out of the fear of hell, because that is an evangelical motive conveyed to us by the Spirit of God, and is immediate to the love of God; if the schoolmen had pleased, they might have reckoned it as the handmaid, and of the retinue of contrition: but the more the considerations are sublimed above this, of the greater effect and the more immediate to pardon will be the repentance.
5. Let the sick persons do frequent actions of repentance, by way of prayer for all those sins, which are spiritual, and in which no restitution or satisfaction material can be made, and whose contrary acts cannot in kind be exercised. For penitential prayers, in some cases, are the only instances of repentance that can be. An envious man, if he gives God' hearty thanks for the advancement of his brother, hath done an act of mortification of his envy, as directly as corporal austerities are an act of chastity, and an enemy to uncleanness: and if I have seduced a person, that is dead or absent, if I cannot restore him to sober counsels by my discourse and undeceiving him, I can only repent of that, by way of prayer: and intemperance is no way to be rescinded or punished by a dying man but by hearty prayers. Prayers are a great help in all cases; in some they are proper acts of virtue, and direct enemies to sin: but although alone and in long continuance they alone can cure some one or some few little habits, yet they can never alone change the state of the man; and therefore are intended to be a suppletory to the imperfections of other acts: and, by that reason, are the proper and most pertinent employment of a clinic or deathbed penitent.
9. In those sins, whose proper cure is mortification corporal, the sick man is to supply that part of his repentance by a patient submission to the rod of sickness: for sickness does the work of penances, or sharp afflictions and dry diet, perfectly well: to which if we also put our wills, and make it our act by an after-election, by confessing the justice of
God, by bearing it sweetly, by begging it may be medicinal, there is nothing wanting to the perfection of this part, but that God confirm our patience, and hear our prayers. When the guilty man runs to punishment, the injured person is prevented, and hath no whither to go but to forgiveness.
10. I have learned but of one suppletory more for the perfection and proper exercise of a sick man's repentance; but it is such an one, as will go a great way in the abolition of our past sins, and making our peace with God, even after a less severe life; and that is, that the sick man do some heroical actions in the matter of charity, or religion, of justice, or severity. There is a story of an infamous thief, who, having begged his pardon of the emperor Mauricius, was yet put into the hospital of St. Sampson, where he so plentifully bewailed his sins in the last agonies of his death, that the physician who attended, found him unexpectedly dead, and over his face a handkerchief bathed in tears; and soon after somebody or other pretended to a revelation of this man's beatitude. It was a rare grief, that was noted in this man, which begot in that age a confidence of his being saved; and that confidence (as things then went) was quickly called a revelation. But it was a stranger severity, which is related by Thomas Cantipratanus concerning a young gentleman condemned for robbery and violence, who had so deep a sense of his sin, that he was not content with a single death, but begged to be tormented, and cut in pieces joint by joint, with intermedial senses, that he might, by such a smart, signify a greater sorrow. Some have given great estates to the poor and to religion; some have built colleges for holy persons; many have suffered martyrdom: and though those that died under the conduct of the Maccabees, in defence of their country and religion, had pendants on their breasts consecrated to the idols of the Jamnenses; yet that they gave their lives in such a cause with so great a duty (the biggest things they could do or give), it was esteemed to prevail hugely towards the pardon and acceptation of their persons. An heroic action of virtue is a huge compendium of religion: for if it be attained to by the usual measures and progress of a Christian, from inclination to
e Quid debent læsi facere, ubi rei ad pœnam confugiunt? VOL. IV. 21
act, from act to habit, from habit to abode, from abode to reigning, from reigning to perfect possession, from possession to extraordinary emanations, that is, to heroic actions, then it must needs do the work of man, by being so great towards the work of God: but if a man comes thither per saltum, or on a sudden (which is seldom seen), then it supposes the man always well inclined, but abused by accident or hope, by confidence or ignorance; then it supposes the man for the present in a great fear of evil, and a passionate desire of pardon: it supposes his apprehensions great, and his time little; and what the event of that will be, no man can tell; but it is certain, that to some purposes God will account for our religion on our death-bed, not by the measures of our time, but the eminency of affection (as said Celestine the First); that is, supposing the man in the state of grace, or in the revealed possibility of salvation, then an heroical act hath the reward of a longer series of good actions, in an even and ordinary course of virtue.
11. In what can remain for the perfecting of a sick man's repentance, he is to be helped by the ministries of a spiritual guide.
Acts of Repentance, by way of Prayer and Ejaculation, to be used especially by Old Men in their Age, and by all Men in their Sickness.
LET us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts with our hands unto God in the heavens. We have transgressed and rebelled; and thou hast not pardoned. Thou hast covered with anger and persecuted us thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. O cover not thyself with a cloud; but let our prayer pass through. Lam. iii. 40-44.
I have sinned: what shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men? Why hast thou set me as a mark against thee,
d Vera ad Deum conversio in ultimis positorum mente potiùs est æstimanda quàm tempore. Col. P. ep. ii. c. 9. Vera conversio scil. ab infidelitate ad fidem Christi per Baptismum.
so that I am a burthen to myself? And why dost not thou pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust, and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be. Job, vii. 20, 21.
The Lord is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandments. Hear, I pray, all ye people, behold my sorrow. Behold, O Lord, I am in distress: my bowels are troubled: my heart is turned within me; for I have grievously rebelled. Lam. i. 18. 40.
Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; thy throne from generation to generation. Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time? Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and so shall we be turned: renew our days as of old. O reject me not utterly, and be not exceeding wroth against thy servant. Lam. v. 19-22.
O remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; but according to thy mercies remember thou me, for thy goodness' sake, O Lord. Psal. xxv. 7. Do thou for me, O God the Lord, for thy name's sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. I am gone like the shadow that declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust. Psal. cix. 21-23.
Then Zaccheus stood forth, and said, Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man, I restore him fourfold. Luke, xix. 8.
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and consider my desire. Psal. cxliii. 1. Let my prayer be set forth in thy sight as the incense, and let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice. Psal. cxli. 3. And enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. Teach me to do the thing that pleaseth thee, for thou art my God let thy loving Spirit lead me forth into the land of righteousness. Psal. cxliii. 2. 10.
I will speak of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O Lord, will I make my prayer. I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk in my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside: it shall not cleave to me. Psal. ci. 1-3.
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniqui
ties. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, from malice, envy, the follies of lust and violences, of passion, &c. thou God of my salvation; and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. Psal. li. 9, 10. 14.
The sacrifice of God is a broken heart: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. ver. 17.
Lord, I have done amiss; I have been deceived: let so great a wrong as this be removed, and let it be so no more.
The Prayer for the Grace and perfection of Repentance.
O almighty God, thou art the great judge of all the world, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies, the father of men and angels; thou lovest not, that a sinner should perish, but delightest in our conversion and salvation, and hast, in our Lord Jesus Christ, established the covenant of repentance, and promised pardon to all them, that confess their sins and forsake them: O my God, be thou pleased to work in me, what thou hast commanded should be in me. Lord, I am a dry tree, who neither have brought forth fruit unto thee and unto holiness, nor have wept out salutary tears, the instrument of life and restitution, but have behaved myself like an unconcerned person in the ruins and breaches of my soul: but, O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee in a barren and thirsty land, where no water is. Lord, give me the grace of tears and pungent sorrow: let my heart be as a land of rivers of waters, and my head a fountain of tears: turn my sin into repentance, and let my repentance proceed to pardon and refreshment.
Support me with thy graces, strengthen me with thy Spirit, soften my heart with the fire of thy love, and the dew of heaven, with penitential showers: make my care prudent, and the remaining portion of my days like the perpetual watches of the night, full of caution and observance, strong and resolute, patient and severe. I remember, O Lord, that
e Psal. lxiii. 1.