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for the guidance and preservation of youth, that they may be thus directed in the paths of virtue.* Doubtless too, the practice of confession is enjoined in the Established Church, in the same terms as by us; for we find that among the instructions laid down in the order for the visitation of the sick, it is thus prescribed; “ Here shall the sick person be moved to make a special confession of his sins; if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter. After which confession, the priest shall absolve him (if he humbly and heartily desire it) after this sort.” Then follows, word for word, the absolution pronounced by the Catholic priest in confession. I do not quote this, to reproach the Church of England with inconsistency, nor to show how its practice and its commands are at variance, nor to charge those with injustice, who impute to us as a gross perversion and corruption of the doctrines of Christianity, that which even their own Church enjoins and accuses us of usurping a power which is assumed and meant to be exercised, in the same words, by the ministers of their own persuasion. It is not for such purposes that I mention this rite; but only to prove that those who caused its abolition were convinced of its utility; and that, so far from considering it an instrument of evil, they believed it the best method of relieving the conscience, and, at the same time, of guiding men in virtue. They believed or affected to believe, that God had left a power to his ministers to absolve from sin, and that a special confession of sins was therefore necessary: so that the difference between us is, that we practise what the others have pronounced expedient; that the Catholic Church exacts that duty which they keep confined to their books.
But I appeal to you, who know that the number of Catholics is not small; and that even in these islands, those who profess the Catholic religion, are more numerous than the followers of any other particular creed. I appeal to you, if our practice were mischievous and led to evil, would not some circumstan. ses connected with that mischievous operation, have, ere this,
* See Möhler, ubi sup.
come before the public? Has any one ever complained on it? Has any Catholic—and assuredly every one can consult some conscientious and upright member of our Church,– has
any Catholic ever found that it gave him a facility for the commission of sin? that it was easier to him than the practice of other religions in this regard? or that any advantage has been taken of it, which is not strictly within the objects of the institution? Or has any Catholic father of a family, having himself, by experience, knowledge of the tendencies and uses of confession, been ever known to restrain the most delicate or timid portion of his family from its practice, or discouraged it in his servants or his children? This is surely an obvious test, when we consider the thousands that, even in this metropolis, practise it within the year; that not one case of abuse has ever been quoted, not one instance has been brought forward, of a Catholic's being led to abandon the practice of confession, by finding it conducive to any thing but good. On the contrary, if you inquire, you will find, that the Catholic considers it the greatest corrective and preservative from evil, that in his confessor he finds the most faithful, and sincere and useful adviser, who, with the assistance of divine
grace best preserves him in that path of virtue to which he has been trained. On the other hand, one of the first symptoms of a Catholic's declining from virtue and piety is his neglecting this salutary practice: and those who have given themselves up to vice take care to avoid it. I have said that I reserve the subject of Satisfaction for the next evening; not only because I have already detained you so long, but because it is connected with the doctrine of Purgatory, and Praying for the Dead, which will form, in conjunction with it, the subject of my lecture on Wednesday evening. In conclusion, I have only to exhort those who have the happiness to believe in the efficacy of the holy sacrament which I have just endeavoured to explain—and those who are conscious that in it they find relief from their burthens, and forgiveness of their sins, to reflect that the time is now approaching which the Church has
especially appointed for their partaking ofits benefits. It is particularly at Easter that this holy Mother exhorts you to make use of this means of salvation. Employ therefore diligently the short interval that still remains before that holy season as a time of more especial recollection and more peculiar fervour; retiring within yourselves, and preparing gradually for the solemn work which you have to do, not merely by looking into your transgressions, but also by studying the causes of your falls, by stirring up in your hearts a true and lively sorrow; and thus study to make your coming confession more effectual and more serviceable to your spiritual improvement than any which have preceded it.
LECTURE THE ELEVENTH.
ON SATISFACTION AND PURGATORY.
JOHN xx. 23.
“ Receive ye the Holy Ghost ; whose sins ye shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins ye shall retain, they are retained." I OBSERVED, my brethren, in my opening discourse, that nothing was less easy than to render our doctrines acceptable to those who differ from our creed; because difficulties of the most contradictory character are ever found on some point of each doctrine. I may safely say that this remark is particularly true with regard to that dogma which I considered in our interview of Friday last, and which I shall continue to treat of this evening. On the one hand, as I then observed, we are told that the practice enjoined by the Catholic Church, as necessary to obtain remission, of sin, is so cruel, so much beyond the
power of human endurance, that it cannot be considered a means appointed by the Almighty, as indispensable for the sinner's forgiveness. I remarked that it has been called the rack, the torture, the butchery of the soul ;* and it has been thought a sufficient reason for excluding it from the institutions of Christianity, that it was apparently so opposite and contradictory to its mildness.
But then, on the other hand, we are told that the Catholic theory of the forgiveness of sins leads to the commission of crime, by the enco
couragement held out, in the facilities which it presents of obtaining pardon. We are told that the Catholic, who has offended God, believes that he has only to cast himself at the feet of Christ's minister, and accuse himself of his offences, and that in one moment, on the raising of the priest's hand, he is perfectly restored to grace; and returns, prepared and encouraged to reconimence his career of crime.
* “ Carnificina animæ."