Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of life, are to be rejected, because they are against the whole economy and design of the Gospel, of the life and death of Christ. But a proverb, being used by every man, is supposed to contain the opinion and belief, or experience, of mankind: and then that evil sense that we are pleased to put to them, will be thought to be of the same authority. I have heard of divers persons, who have been strangely enticed on to finish their revellings, and drunken conventicles, by a catch, or a piece of a song, by a humour, and a word, by a bold say: ing, or a common proverb: and whoever take any measures of good or evil, but the severest discourses of reason and religion, will be like a ship turned every way by a little piece of wood; by chance, and by half a sentence, because they dwell upon the water, and a wave of the sea is their foundation.

81. XVI. Let every man take heed of a servile will, and a commanding lust: for he that is so miserable, is in a state of infirmity and death ; and will have a perpetual need of something to hide his folly, or to excuse it, but shall find nothing. He shall be forced to break his resolution, to sin against his conscience, to do after the manner of fools, who promise and pay not, who resolve and do not, who speak and remember not, who are fierce in their pretences and designs, but act them as dead men do their own wills. They make their will, but die and do nothing themselves.

82. XVII. Endeavour to do what can never be done: that is, to cure all thy infirmities. For this is thy victory, for ever to contend : and although God will leave a remnant of Canaanites in the land to be thy daily exercise, and endearment of care and of devotion; yet you must not let them alone, or entertain a treaty of peace with them. But when you have done something, go on to finish it: it is infinite pity that any good thing should be spent or thrown away upon a lust: but if we sincerely endeavour to be masters of every action, we shall be of most of them; and for the rest, they shall trouble thee, but do thee no other mischief. We must keep the banks, that the sea break not in upon us ;

but no man can be secure against the drops of rain, that fall upon the heads of all mankind: but yet every man must get as good shelter as he can.

man, and

The Prayer.

I. O ALMIGHTY God, the Father of mercy and holiness, thou art the fountain of grace and strength, and thou blessest the sons of men by turning them from their iniquities; shew the mightiness of thy power and the glories of thy grace, by giving me strength against all my enemies, and victory in all temptations, and watchfulness against all dangers, and caution in all difficulties, and hope in all my fears, and recollection of mind in all distractions of spirit and fancy; that I may not be a servant of chance or violence, of interest or passion, of fear or desire, but that my will may rule the lower

my understanding may guide my will, and thy Holy Spirit may conduct my understanding; that in all contentions thy Spirit may prevail, and in all doubts I may choose the better part, and in the midst of all contradictions, and temptations, and infelicities, I may be thy servant infallibly and unalterably. Amen.

II. Blessed Jesu, thou art our high-priest, and encompassed with infirmities, but always without sin ; relieve and pity me, O my gracious Lord, who am encompassed with infirmities, but seldom or never without sin. O my God, my ignorances are many, my passions violent, my temptations ensnaring and deceitful, my observation little, my inadvertencies innumerable, my resolutions weak, my dangers round about me, my duty and obligations full of variety, and the instances very numerous ; O be thou unto me wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Thou hast promised thy Holy Spirit to them that ask him; let thy Spirit help my infirmities, give to me his strengths, instruct me with his notices, encourage me with his promises, affright me with his terrors, confirm me with his courage, that I, being readily prepared and furnished for every good work, may grow

with the increase of God to the full measure of the stature and fulness of thee my Saviour ; that though my outward man decay and decrease, yet my inner man may be renewed day by day;' that my infirmities may be weaker, and thy grace stronger, and at last may triumph over the de

cays

of the old man. O be thou pleased to pity my infirmities, and pardon all those actions which proceed from weak principles ; that when I do what I can, I may be accepted; and when I fail of that, I may be pitied and pardoned ; and in all my fights and necessities may be defended and secured, prospered and conducted to the regions of victory and triumph, of strength and glory, through the mercies of God, and the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the blessed communication of the Spirit of God and our Lord Jesus. Amen.

CHAP. IX.

OF THE EFFECT OF REPENTANCE, V12. REMISSION

OF SINS.

[ocr errors][merged small]

1. The law written in the heart of man is a law of obedience; which because we prevaricated, we are taught another, which, St. Austin says, is written in the heart of angels :' “Ut nulla sit iniquitas impunita, nisi quam sanguis Mediatoris expiaverit d.” For God the Father spares no sinner, but while he looks upon the face of his Son: but that in him our sins should be pardoned, and our persons spared, is as necessary a consideration as any.

“ Nemo enim potest benè agere penitentiam, nisi qui speraverit indulgentiam." To what purpose does God call us to repentance, if, at the same time, he does not invite us to pardon? It is the state and misery of the damned, to repent without hope; and if this also could be the state of the penitent in this life, the sermons of repentance were useless and comfortless, God's mercies were none at all to sinners, the institution and office of preaching and reconciling penitents were impertinent, and man should die by the laws of angels, who never were enabled to live by their strength and measures; and consequently, all mankind were infinitely and eternally miserable, lost irrecoverably, perishing without a Saviour, tied to a law

d Lib. 6. contr. Julian. c. 9.

© S. Ambr. de Poenit, lib. 1. c. 2..

too hard for him, and condemned by unequal and intolerable sentences.

2. Tertullian, considering that God threatens all impenitent sinners, argues demonstratively: “Neque enim comminaretur non pænitenti, si non ignosceret delinquenti f.” If men repent not, God will be severely angry; it will be infinitely the worse for us if we do not; and shall it be so too if we do repent ? God forbid. “Frustra mortuus est Christus, si aliquos vivificare non potest. Mentitur Johannes Baptista, et digito Christum et voce demonstrans, ' Ecce agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi,' si sunt adhuc in sæculo quorum Christus peccata non tulerit.”—“In vain did Christ die, if he cannot give life to all. And the Baptist deceived us when he pointed out Christ unto us, saying, · Behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, if there were any in the world, whose sins Christ hath not borne 8.”

3. But God by the old prophets called upon them, who were under the covenant of works in open appearance, that they also should repent, and by antedating the mercies of the Gospel, promised pardon to the penitent; he promised mercy by Moses and the prophets; he proclaimed his name to be mercy and forgiveness; he did solemnly swear he did ‘not desire the death of a sinner, but that he should repent and live ;' and the Holy Spirit of God hath respersed every book of Holy Scripture with great and legible lines of mercy, and sermons of repentance. In short, it was the sum of all the sermons, which were made by those whom God sent with his word in their mouths, that they should live innocently, or, when they had sinned, they should repent and be saved from their calamity b.

4. But when Christ came into the world, he opened the fountains of mercy, and broke down all the banks of restraint; he preached repentance, offered health, gave life, called all wearied and burdened persons to come to him for ease and remedy, he glorified his Father's mercies, and himself became the great instrument and channel of its emanation. He preached and commanded mercy by the example of God; f Lib. 2. de Pænit.

& S. Hierom. Epist. ad Ocoan., ; b Exod. xxxiv. 6.' Psal. ciji. per totum cxxviij. Isa. lv. 7, 8. Jer. xviii. 7, 8. Ezek. xviii. 21, 22. xxxiii. 11. Dan. iv. 27. Mal. iii, 7. Joel, ii, 13. Jonah, iv. 2. iii. 9.

[ocr errors]

he made his religion that he taught, to be wholly made up of doing and receiving good; this by faith, that by charity. He commanded an indefinite and unlimited forgiveness of our brother, repenting after injuries done to us seventy times seven times : and though there could be little question of that, yet he was pleased to signify to us, that as we needed more, so we should have, and find, more mercy at the hands of God. And therefore, he hath appointed a whole order of men, whom he maintains at his own charges, and furnishes with especial commissions', and endues with a lasting power, and employs on his own errand, and instructs with his own Spirit; whose business is 'to remit and retain,' to 'exhort and to restore,' sinners by the means of repentance, and the word of their proper ministry? Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted ;' that is their authority : and their office is, 'to pray all men, in Christ's stead, to be reconciled to God.' And, after all this, Christ himself labours to bring it to effect; not only assisting his ministers with the gifts of an excellent Spirit, and exacting of them the account of souls ;' but, that it may be prosperous and effectual, himself intercedes in heaven before the throne of grace, doing for sinners the office of an advocate and a reconciler. man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father; and he is the propitiation for all our sins, and for the sins of the whole world k." and therefore it is not only the matter of our hopes, but an article of our creed, that we may have forgiveness of our sins by the blood of Jesus. " Qui nullum excepit, in Christo donavit omnia :” “God hath excepted none, and therefore in Christ pardons all.”

5. For there is not in Scripture any catalogue of sins set down, for which Christ died, and others excluded from that state of mercy. All that believe and repent shall be pardoned, if they go and sin no more.'-"Deus distinctionem non facit, qui misericordiam suam promisit omnibus, et relaxandi licentiam sacerdotibus suis sine ullâ exceptione concessit,” said St. Ambrose: “God excepts none, but hath given power to his ministers to release all, absolutely all!.”And St. Bernard argues this article upon the account of

“ If any

* Matt. xviii. 15, 16. John, xx. 23. 2 Cor. vii. 10, Gal. vi. 1. Jam. i. 15, 16. 19, 20. 1 John, ii. i. 9. 11. Rev. ii. 5. ii. 1–3. 19, 20. k 1 John, ii. 2, 3.

| Lib, 1. de Pænit. c. 2.

« AnteriorContinuar »