Imatges de pÓgina
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to know whether this sentence has been cancelled? Is not this sufficient to oblige us to a penitential life? Can: we otherwise pretend to be secure ?Even those (and God best knows how few they are) who are not conscious to themselves of having committed such a sin in their whole life time, must not therefore think themselves exempt from the obligation of doing penance; as well because of their bidden sins as of those which they may have occasioned in others; for no man knows whether he be worthy of love or hatred, Eccl. viii. 9. as also, because a peni. tential life is the best security against sin, which will sensibly prevail over us, if not curbed by self-denial, mortification, and penance.

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Consider, secondly, that in the inet hod of penance, different rules must be prescribed to different persons. 'Those who have the misfortune to be actually in the state of mortal sin, or what is still more deplorable, are plunged in the depth of a habit of one or more kinds of mortal sins, as soon as their eyes are opened to discover the hellish monster which they carry about

with them, must, like the prodigal child, arise without delay, to return to their Father. A sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart is what God above all things requires at their hands; this ought to be the foundation of all their penance: without this, corporal austerities will be of small account.Such sinners ought to give themselves no rest, till they have made, their peace with God their sins ought to be always before their eyes. Their first thoughts in the morning ought to be upon their misfortune, in being at so great a distance from God, enslaved to the devil, and liable to be his companions in eter nal misery the like ought to be their last thoughts at night; when, like the penitent David, they ought to wash their beds with their tears. As often as they appear, before their God in prayer, it ought to be in the spirit of the humble publican, looking upon themselves as unworthy to lift up their eyes to heaven, or towards the altar of God; and wich him, striking their breasts, with a Lord be merciful to me a sinner. Thus will they certainly ob tain mercy from him, who is the father of mercy. G vi Con

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Consider, thirdly, that after the sinner has done his best endeavours to seek a reconciliation with his offended God, by a sincere repentance and confession of his sins, he must not think himself exempt from any further penas if he had now no just debt to discharge to the justice of God, no obligation of making satisfaction for his sins by penitential works, and of bringing forth fruits worthy of penance. This would be a great and dangerous error. Nor must he content himself with barely quitting himself of the penance enjoined by his confessor, which is to be feared seldom is suffi cient to satisfy the justice of God Alas! if sinners were truly sensible of the Enormous injury done to God by mortal sin, as true penitents must be, they would certainly do penance in another manner, than too many do; they would be more in earnest in chastising their sinful flesh by penitential works, and thus making a more proportiona ble satisfaction for their past treasons.

Consider, fourthly, that the true manner of doing penance for our sins, is better learnt from the holy fathers

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and doctrines of the church, from the loose maxims of worldlings or the practice of too many penitents in this degenerate age. Let us give ear then to those lights of the church, and follow their directions on this im portant subject. "God himself has taught us says St. Cyprian, (L. de Lapsis)" in what manner we are to 66 crave mercy of him. He himself says, "Return to me with your whole heart “in fasting, and weeping, and mourn ་ ing, Joel ii. Let us then return to "the Lord with our whole heart

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let us appease his wrath by fasting weeping and mourning, as he admon"ishes us-Let the greatness of our

grief equal the heinousness of our "sins.-We must pray earnestly, we ec must pass the day in mourning and the night in watching and weeping, spending all our time in penitential tears. Our lodging should be on the floor strewed with ashes; our covering hair cloth, &c. After having cast off the garment of Christ, we should not now seek any (worldly) cloathing.-We must em ploy ourselves now in good works,

"by which our sins may be purged away. We must give frequent alms by which our souls may be delivered "from death. So far St. Cyprian. With whom agrees St. Pacian, in his exhortation to penance; "If any one "call you to the bagnio, you must 66 renounce all such delights. If any one invite you to a banquet, you 66 must say, such invitations are for

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those that have not had the misfor"tune to lose their God I have sin"ned against the Lord, and am in "danger of perishing eternally. What "have I to do with feasts, that have "offended my God? You must make "your court to the poor; you must 64 beg the prayers of widows; you "C must cast yourself at the feet of the ་་ priests; you must implore the in*tercession of the church; you must "try all means, which may prevent

your perishing everlastingly." And St.Ambrose, in his second book of penance, chap. x. Can any one imagine "that he is doing penance, whilst he

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is indulging his ambition in the pur"suit of honours, whilst he is fol66 lowing wine, &c. The true pent

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