Images de page

eth glory and grace," Ecclus. iv. 25. To be ashamed to do an evil action, is a shame that bringeth glory and grace; but to be ashamed to confess the sin we have done, is a shame that bringeth a new sin upon the soul.

Q. 27. Is it a great evil knowingly to conceal any mortal sin in confession?

A. It is a very great evil; for, (1.) To reconcile our souls with God, is, of all other things, the work of God, the end to which all that Christ did, said, and suffered, tended; this is done in the Sacrament of Penance, and the confession of our sins is the part of that work which belongs to us: now, the Scripture says, "Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully,” Jer. xlviii. 10. (2.) It is telling a lie to the Holy Ghost, the dreadful guilt of which we see both in Cain, and in the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts ix.

(3.) It is a grievous sacrilege, by profaning the sacrament, a mockery of God, a profanation of the blood of Christ, and opens the door to a still greater sacrilege, by making an unworthy communion. (4.) It renders the whole confession of no avail, prevents the sinner's getting pardon of bis sins; nay, sullies his soul with another more grievous sin than those he had before. (5.) It puts him in danger of never making a good confession, and consequently of dying in his sins, as it shuts the door to all possibility of a cure from man, and renders him totally unworthy of any extraordinary help from God. (6.) It makes the sinner most miserable in his own conscience, and raises a hell upon earth in his soul, as experience itself teaches.

Q. 28. When one has unhappily fallen into disgrace with God by mortalsin, is he obliged to return immediately to God by a speedy repentance, and get his sins washed away by the Sacramenta of Confession:?

A. There is not a more dangerous delusion than to defer repentance after sin, and live on from day to day in disgrace with God; as will manifestly appear by the following considerations:

(1) It is the highest folly, and contrary to all that wisdom and prudence by which we regulate ourselves in temporal affairs; for, if we fall into the mire, we immediately endeavour to get out of t, and clean ourselves; if we perceive a spot upon our clothes, we immediately endeavour to take it out; if we be seized with any bodily disease, we make no delay in applying to the proper remedies; if we lose a piece of money, we speedily seek to find it. Now, a soul in mortal sin, is in a mest dismal mire, sullied in the most detestable manner, sick to death itself, and deprived of the greatest of all treasures, the grace of God; what folly then to choose to continue in such a state!

[ocr errors]

(2.) It is a grievous injury done to God, to live in disgrace with him, because it involves, (1.) A contempt of his commands and earnest invitations to return to his friendship, and a preferring the slavery of Satan to the favour of the Most High. (2.) A contempt of his threats, by which he endeavours to frighten sinners out of their evil ways, and make them to return to him. (3.) An undervaluing of all his gracious promises of pardon and favour; by preferring the husks of swine to the happiness of our father's house, and all the good things he has there prepared for us.

(3.) The great danger of contracting the habit of sin, and of going on from bad to worse; for this is the fatal prerogative of sin, that if not speedily; remedied by repentance, it gives the devil such power over us, that he easily hurries us on to greater. sins, till at last they become habitual to us; being deprived of the grace of God, there is no defence against the allurements of sin, the violence of


sion, the corruption of our own heart, and the repeated temptations we are daily exposed to: witness Cain, David, St. Peter, and Judas.

(4.) The great danger of a bad habit when contracted, and the great difficulty of ever overcoming it. Of this the Scripture says, "his bones shall be filled with the vices of his youth, and they shall sleep with him in the dust," Job xx. 11. “A young man according to his way, even when he is old he will not depart from it," Prov. xvii. 6. “If the Ethiopian can change his skin, or the leopard his spots, ye also may do well when ye have learned evil," Jer. xiii. 23. A new planted tree is easily pulled up; a tender twig is easily bended; a beginning disease is easily cured; but by delay the case is very different.

(5.) The declarations of Scripture," Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and put not off from day to day; for his wrath will come on a sudden, and in the day of vengeance he will destroy thee," Ecclus. v. 8. "Dost thou despise the riches of his goodness and patience, and long suffering? knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance? but according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the just judgment of God," Rom. ii. 4. "To-day if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, according to the day of temptation in the wilderness, where your fathers tempted me, they proved me, and saw my works.... so I swear in my wrath, that they shall not enter into my rest," Psal. xciv. 8. "Because I called, and ye refused; I stretched out my hand, and there was none that regarded; ye have despised all my counsels, and have neglected my reprehensions, I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock when that shall come on

you which ye feared; when sudden calamity shall fall on you, and destruction, as a tempest, shall be at hand; when tribulation and distress shall come upon you, then shall they call upon me, and I will not hear, they shall rise in the morning and shall not find me," Prov. i. 54. See also Is. lxv. 12.. lxvi. 4. Jer. vii. 12.

(6.) The danger of dying in that state; which appears, (1.) From all these threats from Scripture just mentioned. (2.) From the state the sinner is in; for, the moment one commits a mortal sin, the sentence is passed against him; the flames of hell are already kindled to receive him: "a fire is kindled in my rage, it shall burn upon you," Jer. xv. 14.; the executioners are all ready, only waiting the command, and nothing is wanting to plunge him into the bottomless pit, but the cutting the slender thread of life, by which he is hanging over the mouth of hell. (3.) From the uncertainty of the time, place, and manner when that thread shall be broken: our Saviour assures us, that death will come like a thief in the night, when we least expect it, and, therefore, commands us to be always ready. Remember the foolish virgins. (4.) Sin hastens on death, and cuts off the sinner before his time. "Do not commit iniquity, lest thou die in a time not thy own," Ecclus. vii. 18. "The wicked man shall perish before his days be completed," Job. xv. 32. "The wicked are taken away before their time," Job. xxii. 16. years of the wicked shall be shortened," Prov.x.27. "Men of blood and deceitful men shall not live out half their days," Psal. liv. 24. "How are they brought to desolation? they have suddenly ceased to be; they have perished by reason of their iniquity," Psal. lxxii. 19. "They lead their lives in good things, and in a moment drop down into hell," Job xxi. 13.


Q. 29. What shall we say of those who defer their repentance till the approaches of death itself? A. All the above reasons militate with double force against those who put off their conversion till their death-bed; for such, without all doubt, expose themselves to the utmost danger, if not to a moral certainty of being lost for ever; which will easily appear if we consider, (1.) The difficulty of a real and sincere repentance and change of heart, even in health. (2.) The violence and force of bad habits, now come to their height by long indulgence. (3.) The opposition the devil will certainly make to hinder those who have been always his during their life, from escaping out of his hands at their last moments. (4.) The state, both of body and mind, of a dying person, and how little able he is then to apply to any serious thought. (5.) The being justly deprived of the more abundant graces of God, to enable him to overcome all those obstacles, in just punishment for his past abuses of mercy. (6.) Experience of those who having recovered after being in a dangerous way, and having given the strongest signs of sincere repentance, yet immediately on their recovery, become the same as before; which clearly shews how false their repentance was, and consequently how little it would have been regarded by God, had they then died. (7.) The common sentiments of all the saints of God, who have ever paid very little regard to death-bed conversions.

Q. 30. In what manner must one prepare himself for going to the sacrament of confession?

A. There are chiefly two things to be done; first, We must come to the full knowledge of our sins, and call them all to mind; for if we do not know them, we can neither repent of them, nor confess them. Secondly, we must stir ourselves up to a true and sincere repentance for them. In both

« PrécédentContinuer »