Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

very

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

conciled to thy brother:' that is the great instrument of our being accepted. No man can love God, and hate his brother: that is the rule of our examination in this particular. This is a new commandment, that ye love one another' there is the great precept of the Gospel.—‹ This is an old commandment, that ye love one another: there is the law of nature. And to sum up all, Love is the fulfilling of the law:' that is the excellency and perfection of a man ;—and there is the expectation of all reward, and the doing all our duty, and the sanctification of every action, and the spirit of life: it is the heart, and the fire, and the salt of every sacrifice; it is the crown of every communion. And all this mysterious excellency is perfectly represented by that divine exhortation made by St. Pauli, " Purge out, therefore, the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Now, concerning this grace, if we will inquire after it, in order to a worthy receiving the holy communion, we must inquire after the effects and offices of charity; and, by the good we do, or are ready to do, take an account of ourselves in this particular. The offices and general duties are three : 1. Doing good; 2. Speaking good; and, 3. Forgiving evil.

SECTION II.

Of doing Good to our Neighbours.

He that loves me, does me good; for until love be beneficial, it is not my good, but his fancy and pleasure that delights in me. I do not examine this duty by our alms alone; for although they are an excellent instrument of life, [" for alms deliver from death," said the angela to old Tobit,] yet there are some who are bountiful to the poor, and yet not charitable

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

under ground indeed, and the anger is hid, but it tends certainly to mischief; and though it be sometimes less deadly for want of opportunity, yet it is never less dangerous.

4. He that would communicate worthily, must so pardon his enemy, that though he be certain the man is in the wrong, and sinned against God in the cause, yet he must not, under pretence of righting God and religion, and the laws, pursue his own anger and revenge, and bring him to evile. Every man is concerned, that evil be to him that loves it; but we cozen ourselves by thinking that we have nothing to do to pardon God's enemies, and vile persons. It is true, we have not, but neither hath any private man any thing to do to punish them; but he that cannot pardon God's enemy, can pray to God that he would: and it were better to let it all. alone, than to destroy charity upon pretence of justice or religion. For if this wicked man were thy friend, it may very well be supposed that thou wouldst be very kind to him, though he were God's enemy: and we are easy enough to think well of him that pleases us, let him displease whom he list besides.

5. He may worthily communicate, that so pardons his enemy, as that he endeavour to make him to be his friend. Are you ready to do him good? Can you relieve your enemy, if he were in want? Yes, it may be, you can, and you wish it were to come to that. And some men will pursue their enemy with implacable prosecutions, till they have got them under their feet: and then they delight to lift them up, and to speak kindly to the man, and forgive him with all the nobleness and bravery in the world. But let us take heed, lest, instead of showing mercy, we make a triumph. Relieve his need, and be troubled that he needs it. Rescue him from the calamity which he hath brought upon himself, or is fallen into by misadventure; but never thrust him down, that thou mayest be honoured and glorious, by raising him from that calamity, in which thou art secretly delighted

e Quæ vindicta prior, quam cuni formido superbos
Flectit, et assuetam spoliis affligit egestas ?

Claudian. de Bello Getico, 93. Gesner, vol. ii. p. 409.
f Nostrapte culpa facimus, ut malis expediat esse,
Dum nimium dici nos bonos studemus et benignos.

Terent. Phorm. act. v. sc. 1. Mattaire, p. 283..

did consecrate the beauty of her head to the ornaments of religion,-Conon, the astronomer, told her, that the gods had placed her hair among the stars:' and to this day they call one knot of stars by the name of Berenice's hair.' For every such worthiness like this, will have an immortal name in some record, and it shall be written above the stars, and set by the names of the sons of God, who, by doing worthy things, have endeared communions and societies of mankind b.

In all the sacrifices of the ancients, they were hugely kind to one another: they invited their friends to partake the sacrifice, and called them to a portion of pardon, that they might eat of that mercy and that forgiveness, which they expected from their god. Then they sent portions to the absent; then they renewed leagues, and re-established peace, and made marriages, and joined families, and united hearts, and knitted interests by a thread and chain of mutual acts of kindness and endearment.-And so should we, when we come to this holy sacrifice; we must keep our hearts entire to God, and divide them amongst our brethren, and heartily love all them who feed upon the same Christ, who live by the same faith, who are entertained by the same hope, and are confederate by the laws, and the events and the causes, by the acts and emanation of the same charity. But this thing is plain, no discourse here is useful but an exhortation: all that can be said is this; that it is decent, and it is useful, and it is necessary, that we be very kind, and very charitable to all the members of Christ, with whom we are joined by the ligatures of the same body, and supported by the strength of the same nourishment, and blessed by influences from the same divine Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.

[blocks in formation]

SECTION III.

Of Speaking good of our Neighbours.

IF it be not in our hands to do well, it must be in our hearts; and the contrary must never be upon our tongues: we are sure we can speak well, or we can abstain from speaking ill. If it be otherwise with us, we cannot be welcome here, we shall not worthily communicate. God opens his mouth, and his heart, and his bowels, his bosom, and his treasures to us in this holy sacrament, and calls to us to draw water as from a rivera; and can we come to drink of the pleasant streams, that we may have only moisture enough, to talk much and long against the honour of our brother or our sister? Can it be imagined that Christ, who never spake an ill word, should take thee into his arms, and feast thee at his table, and dwell in thy heart, and lodge thee in his bosom, who makest thyself all one with the devil? whose office and work it is to be an accuser of the brethren? No: Christ never will feast serpents at his table b; persons who have stings, instead of tongues, and venom in all the moisture of their mouth, and reproach is all their language.

We should easily consent, that he that killed a man yesterday, and is like to kill another to-morrow, were not this day worthy to communicate: now some persons had rather lose their lives than lose their honour: what then think we of their preparation to the holy communion, that make nothing of murdering their brother's or their sister's fame? that either invent evil stories falsely and maliciously,or believing them easily, report them quickly, and aggravate them spitefully, and scatter them diligently? He that delights to report evil things of me, that will not endure so much as

a ̓Αρύετε ὡς ἐκ Νείλου.

b Inter epulas ubi bene precari mos erat.-Livius, lib. xxxix. 43.
Gravior terras infestat Echidna,

Cum sua vipereæ jaculantur toxica linguæ,

Atque homini cit homo serpens. O prodiga culpæ

Germina, naturæque utero fatalia monstra !

Queis nimis innocuo volupe est in sanguine rictus

Tingere, fraternasque fibras cognataque pasci

Viscera, et arrosæ deglubere funera famæ !
Quæ morum ista lues?

3. What indications and signs of repentance are we to require and accept as sufficient?

4. Whether, after every relapse, must the conditions of his pardon be harder than before?

5. Whether the injured person be bound to offer peace, and seek for reconcilement? or whether may he let it alone, if the offending party does not seek it?

6. Whether the precept of charity and forgiveness obliges us not to go to law?

7. What charity or forgiveness the offended husband or wife is to give the other, in case of adultery repented of?

QUESTION I.

Whether we are to forgive him, that does not repent;-and how far, if he does; and how far, if he does not?

If he have done me no wrong, there is nothing to be forgiven; and if he offers to give me satisfaction, he is out of my debt. But if he hath been injurious, and does not repair me, then I have something to pardon. But what reason is there in that religion, that requires me to reward a sinner with a gift, to take my enemy into my bosom, to invite new injuries m by suffering and kindly rewarding the old? For, by this means, we may have injury enough, and sin shall live at the charge of the good man's piety, and charity shall be the fuel of malice: what, therefore, is our duty in this case?

I answer, that there is a double sort of pardon or forgiveness: the first and least is that, which neither exacts revenge ourselves, nor requires it of God, nor delights in it if it happens: and this is due to all; those very enemies that do not repent, that cease not still to persecute you with evil, must thus be pardoned, whether they care for it or no, whether they ask it or ask it not. For these we must also pray; we must bless them; we must speak as much good of them, as occasion and justice do require; and we must love them, that is, do them justice, and do them kindness: and this is expressly required of us by our blessed Saviour".

But there is also another forgiveness, that is, a restitu

In Veterem ferendo injuriam invitas novam.

"Matth. v. 44.

« AnteriorContinua »