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desires, when they have left us. Death is a certain mortifier; but that mortification is deadly, not useful to the purposes of a spiritual life. When we are compelled to depart from our evil customs", and leave to live, that we may begin to live, then we die to die; that life is the prologue to death, and thenceforth we die eternally.
St. Cyril speaks of certain people, that chose to worship the sun, because he was a day-god: for, believing that he was quenched every night in the sea, or that he had no influence upon them, that light up candles, and lived by the light of fire, they were confident they might be Atheists all night, and live as they list. Men, who divide their little portion of time between religion and pleasures, between God and God's enemy, think, that God is to rule but in his certain period of time, and that our life is the stage for passion and folly, and the day of death for the work of our life. But as to God both the day and night are alike, so are the first and last of our days: all are his due, and he will account severely with us for the follies of the first, and the evil of the last. The evils and the pains are great, which are reserved for those, who defer their restitution to God's favour till their deathx. And therefore Antisthenes said well, " It is not the happy death, but the happy life, that makes man happy." It is in piety, as in fame and reputation: he secures a good name but looselyy, that trusts his fame and celebrity only to his ashes; and it is more a civility than the basis of a firm reputation, that men speak honour of their departed relatives; but if their life be virtuous, it forces honour from contempt, and snatches it from the hand of envy, and it shines through the crevices of detraction; and as it anointed the head of the living, so it embalms the body of the dead2. From these premises it follows, that when we discourse of a sick man's repentance, it is intended to be, not a beginning,
* Cogimur a suetis animum suspendere rebus,
1 Gnossius haec Rhadamanthus habet durissima regna,
Qute quia apud superos furto Uetatus inani
Distulit in seram commissa piacula mortem JEneid. 6.
J Cineri gloria sera venit.
2 Tu mihi, quod rarum est, vivo sublime dedisti
Nomen, ab exsequiis quod dare fama solet.
but the prosecution and consummation of the covenant of repentance, which Christ stipulated with us in baptism, and which we needed all our life, and which we began long before this last arrest, and in which we are now to make farther progress, that we may arrive to that integrity and fulness of duty, " that our sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord *."
Rules for the Practice of Repentance in Sickness.
1. Let the sick man consider, at what gate this sickness entered: and if he can discover the particular, let him instantly, passionately, and with great contrition dash the crime in pieces, lest he descend into his grave in the midst of a sin, and thence remove into an ocean of eternal sorrow. But if he only suffers the common fate of man, and knows not the particular inlet, he is to be governed by the following measures.
2. Inquire into the repentance of thy former life particularly; whether it Were of a great and perfect grief, and productive of fixed resolutions of holy living, and reductive of these to act; how many days and nights we have spent in sorrow or care, in habitual and actual pursuances of virtue; what instrument we have chosen and used for the eradication of sin; how we have judged ourselves, and how punished; and, in sum, whether we have, by the grace of repentance, changed our life from criminal to virtuous, from one habit to another; and whether we have paid for the pleasure of our sin by smart or sorrow, by the effusion of alms, or pefnoctations or abodes in prayers, so as the spirit hath been served in our repentance as earnestly and as greatly, as our appetites have been provided for, in the days of our shame and folly.
3. Supply the imperfections of thy repentance by a general or universal sorrow for the sins, not only since the last communion or absolution, but of thy whole life; for all sins,
» Acts, iii. 19.
known and unknown, repented and unrepented, of ignorance or infirmity, which thou knowest, or which others have accused thee of; thy clamorous and thy whispering sins, the sins of scandal and the sins of a secret conscience, of the flesh and of the spirit: for it would be but a sad arrest to thy soul wandering in strange and unusual regions, to see a scroll of uncancelled sins represented and charged upon thee for want of care and notices, and that thy repentance shall become invalid, because of its imperfections.
4. To this purpose it is usually advised by spiritual persons, that the sick man make an universal confession, or a renovation and repetition of all the particular confessions and accusations of his whole life; that now, at the foot of his account he may represent the sum total to God and his conscience, and make provisions for their remedy and pardon, according to his present possibilities.
5. Now is the time to make reflex acts of repentance: that as, by a general repentance, we supply the want of the just extension of parts; so, by this, we may supply the proper measures of the intention of degrees. In our health, we can consider concerning our own acts, whether they be real or hypocritical, essential or imaginary, sincere or upon interest, integral or imperfect, commensurate or defective. And although it is a good caution of securities, after all our care and diligence still to suspect ourselves and our own deceptions, and for ever to beg of God pardon and acceptance in the union of Christ's passion and intercession: yet, in proper speaking, reflex acts of repentance, being a suppletory after the imperfection of the direct, are then most fit to be used, when we cannot proceed in and prosecute the direct actions. To repent because we cannot repent, and to grieve because we cannot grieve, was a device invented to serve the turn of the mother of Peter Gratian: but it was used by her, and so advised to be, in her sickness, and last actions of repentance: for in our perfect health and understanding if we do not understand our first act, we cannot discern our second; and if we be not sorry for our sins, we cannot be sorry for want of sorrows: it is a contradiction to say we can; because want of sorrow, to which we are obliged, is certainly a great sin; and if we can grieve for that, then also for the rest; if not for all, then not for this. But in the days of weakness the case is otherwise; for then our actions are imperfect, our discourse weak, our internal actions not discernible, our fears great, our work to be abbreviated, and our defects to be supplied by spiritual arts: and therefore it is proper and proportionate to our state, and to our necessity, to beg of God pardon for the imperfections of our repentance, acceptance of our weaker sorrows, supplies out of the treasures of grace and mercy. And thus repenting of the evil and unhandsome adherences of our repentance, in the whole integrity of the duty it will become a repentance not to be repented of.
6. Now is the time, beyond which the sick man must, at no hand, defer to make restitution of all his unjust possessionsb, or other men's rights, and satisfactions for all injuries and violences, according to his obligation, and possibilities: for although many circumstances might impede the acting it in our life-time, and it was permitted to be deferred in many cases, because by it justice was not hindered, and oftentimes piety and equity were provided for; yet because this is the last scene of our life, he that does not act it, so far as he can, or put it into certain conditions and order of effecting, can never do it again, and therefore then to defer it is to omit, and leaves the repentance defective in an integral and constituent part.
7. Let the sick man be diligent and watchful, that the principle of his repentance be contrition, or sorrow for sins, commenced upon the love of God. For although sorrow for sins upon any motive may lead us to God by many intermedial passages, and is the threshold of returning sinners; yet it is not good nor effective upon our death-bed; because repentance is not then to begin, but must then be finished and completed; and it is to be a supply and preparation of all the imperfections of that duty, and therefore it must by that time be arrived to contrition; that is, it must have grown from fear to love, from the passions of a servant to the affections of a son. The reason of which (besides the precedent) is this, Because, when our repentance is in this state, it supposes the man also in a state of grace, a well-grown Christian; for to hate sin out of the love of God is not the felicity of a new convert, or an infant grace (or if it be, that love also is in its infancy); but it supposes a good progress, and the man habitually virtuous, and tending to perfection: and therefore contrition, or repentance so qualified, is useful to great degrees of pardon, because the man is a gracious person, and that virtue is of good degree, and consequently a fit employment for him, that shall work no more, but is to appear before his Judge to receive the hire of his day. And if his repentance be contrition even before this state of sickness, let it be increased by spiritual arts, and the proper exercises of charity.
b On pendre, ou rendre, ou les peines d'enfers attendre.
Means of exciting Contrition, or Repentance of Sins, proceeding from the Love of God.
To which purpose the sick man may consider, and is to be reminded (if he does not), that there are in God all the motives and causes of amiability in the world: that God is so infinitely good, that there are some of the greatest and most excellent spirits of heaven, whose work, and whose felicity, and whose perfections, and whose nature it is, to flame and burn in the brightest and most excellent love: that to love God is the greatest glory of heaven: that in him there are such excellences, that the smallest rays of them, communicated to our weaker understandings, are yet sufficient to cause ravishments, and transportations, and satisfactions, and joys unspeakable and full of glory: that all the wise Christians of the world know and feel such causes to love God, that they all profess themselves ready to die for the love of God, and the apostles and millions of the martyrs did die for him: and although it be harder to live in his love than to die for it, yet all the good people, that ever gave their names to Christ, did, for his love, endure the crucifying their lusts, the mortification of their appetites, the contradictions and death of their most passionate, natural desires: that kings and queens have quitted their diadems, and many married saints have turned their mutual vows into the love of Jesus, and married him only, keeping a virgin chastity in a married life, that they may more tenderly express their love to God: that all the good we have, derives from God's love to us, and all the good we can hope for, is