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but it is impossible not, more or less, to connect the idea of suffering inflicted, with that of sin committed.
This principle is to be found through the whole of the Christian religion; because the very first principles of moral conduct, whether in the Old or in the New Law, seem connected with the necessity of purifications, and of works painful or disagreeable, or with sufferings sent by Divine Providence, as inflictions justly deserved. Thus, we remark constantly in the Old Law, not only visible demonstrations of repentance and sorrow, after sin has been forgiven, but clear indications of an approval of such conduct by God himself. When, for instance, He forgives the sin of David by the prophet Nathan, the man of God does not say, “ The Lord hath pardoned you; arise, you have no further cause of sorrow; you are fully justified before God.” But he tells him, that he still must atone for his crime; and that, therefore, his child, the fruit of his iniquity, shall be taken from him.* In like manner did God punish his later sin, of num bering the people of Israel, with a severity which extended over the whole nation. Indeed, in every case recorded in the Old Testament, God, after forgiving the sins of His servants, fails not to reserve some temporal and expiatory chastisement to be inflicted on them, though they were His chosen and faithful friends. We see Moses and Aaron, having slightly transgressed His commands, still more severely punished by Him after He had given assurance that their trifling sin was forgiven. For, although He continued His favour and countenance to them, He deprived them of the sight of that promised land, after which they so earnestly did sigh. We see Job, after he had transgressed in words, or rather exceeded in speech, therefore humbling himself, and declaring that he did penance, in dust and ashes. When the men of Ninive had their destruction proclaimed to them by the prophet, the most obvious and natural expiation of their sins, appeared to them the observance of a general fast; and all, from the king on his throne to the very animals in their stalls, were commanded to * 2 Kings xii. 14.
# Ib. xxiv. 11. I Num. xx. 12, 24. Deut. ssxiv. 4.
Job xlii. 6.
fast for three days, saying, “who can teil if God will turn and forgive, and will turn away from His fierce anger, and we shall not perish."*
But, my brethren, some will perhaps say, “all this happened under the older dispensation, before the law of grace and complete freedom had been introduced.” But, in the first place, allow me to observe, that this order observed by God's servants, belongs essentially to the natural manifestation of His attributes. It is nowhere instituted in the old law, it begins in the very first instance in Paradise, when our first parents' sin was forgiven, and yet the most bitter consequences were entailed on them and their posterity on its account. We never observe this practice inculcated in the form of a covenant in the old law, that they who so repent and afflict themselves shall be pardoned; but we see it followed by all, whether in the patriarchal times, or under the law, from a natural feeling that God required it for the forgiveness of sin. This being the case, we have every reason to conclude, that, like other institutions, which rest upon a similar basis, this is continued in the law of grace. For, even had not God said, in the New Testament, that the sinner must repent and abandon sin, to obtain forgiveness, we never should have supposed, that because all this was prescribed in the old law, it was not to be continued in the new; for the very reason which I have stated, that it does not belong to legal institutions, but essentially springs from the knowledge of God's attributes, and from an instinctive conviction on the part of man.
In like manner, therefore, if we find God, from the beginning, forgiving sin with the reservation of some smaller punishment, and, at the same time, His chosen servants, instructed by Him, acting under the conviction, that, by penitential acts, that punishment could be averted or mitigated, we have equal reason to maintain, so long as there is nothing positively defined to the contrary, that the punishment, and its expiation, are continued in the new law. But in the second place, is it not really and positively con
* Jonas iii, 3.
tinued there? Consider the economy of the two Testaments, and compare them together. Will
you discover in the New such words, as that the outward practice of penance, for the satisfaction of sin, is thenceforth abolished?
The objection to human satisfaction, arises from its being considered essentially derogatory to Christ's infinite merits. For St Paul tells us, that we are justified freely by God's grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. And to such free redemption, all work of man is pronounced vitally opposed. But permit me to ask, were not they who lived under the law, justified as freely through the same redemption? Was not Christ's passion and purchase the source of all grace, and the only root of righteousness, to them as much as it is to us? If, then, no injury was done to their infinite worth, by the repentance of the sinner being followed by expiatory deeds of penance, considered available towards averting God's anger, even upon sin committed; how can a similar practice now be pronounced essentially at variance with the very same merits? It is manifest that this parallel excludes the idea of
any essential inherent opposition between Christ's merits and man's cooperation, between the freedom and completeness of the purchase, and its application by human acts. We require, therefore, positive testimony to demonstrate such an opposition; and it must be such, as not merely excludes the dead works of the law, abolished by the new, but as positively declares all work of man destructive of our Saviour's redemption.
It is often said, that the works of penance performed by the Saints of old, as well as the punishments directly inflicted on them by God's hand, after their transgressions had been pardoned, were intended only as corrections, to prevent future falls, and not as expiatory of past transgressions. But surely, my brethren, we find no traces of such a distinction in Scripture. When Nathan addresses David, he says not to him“ That thou mayest not in future cause my name to be blas
* Rom. jii. 24,
phemed among the nations, the child that is born to thee shall surely die;" but, “ Because thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, for this thing the child that is born to thee shall surely die.” Nor does the royal prophet himself hint, that, when he eat ashes like bread, and mingled his drink with weeping, and watered his couch with tears, and had his sin ever before him, and held himself ready for
scourges, all this was as a preventive against future failings, and not rather an expiation for his double sin. In fact, examine every instance of penitential conduct, and you
will find that sin committed, and not sin possible and future, is its manifest cause and motive.
But, in the third place, so far from our discovering a single passage in the New Testament, which can prove the abolition of penitential works, we shall see, that whatever was believed on this head in the former dispensation, is confirmed in the later. Does our Saviour ever tell us, that fasting, one of the most usual methods for afflicting the soul for sin committed, shall cease under His law? Does he not, on the contrary, assure us, that the moment He, the bridegroom, should be taken away, His children should fast?* Does He reprove those who had believed that penance in sackcloth and ashes was efficacious for the forgiveness of sin; and not rather
propose them as an example, and say that the men of Ninive shall arise in judgment against that generation, because, at the preaching of Jonas, they did penance in that way?t And does He, on any single occasion, limit the efficacy of these practices, and tell His disciples, that if hitherto they have been considered of value towards the remission of sin, they have, from that moment, lost that worth, and were to be employed in future upon different principles, and for different motives? And if not, when he merely corrects the Pharisaic abuses in the performance of them, and gives instructions for their better observance in privacy and humility, and yet touches not once upon their intrinsic value, but leaves all * Mat. ix. 15.
| Ib. xii. 41.
as He found it, * must not they have concluded, and must not we conclude, that he tacitly approved of the doctrine then held regarding them?
But what shall we say of the language of St Paul, when he declares, writing to the Colossians, “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things which are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for His body which is the Church."| What is wanting of Christ's sufferings! And this to be supplied by man, and in his flesh! What sort of doctrine call we this? Is it in favour of the completeness of Christ's sufferings, as to their application? Or rather does it not suppose
that much is to be done by man, towards possessing himself of the treasures laid
in our Saviour's redemption? And that suffering is the means whereby this application is made ?
The doctrine which is thus collected from the word of God, is reducible to these heads:-1. That God, after the remission of sin, retains a lesser chastisement in His power, to be inflicted on the sinner. 2. That penitential works, fasting, alms-deeds, contrite weeping, and fervent prayer, have the power of averting that punishment. 3. That this scheme of God's justice was not a part of the imperfect law, but the unvarying ordinance of his dispensation, anterior to the Mosaic ritual, and amply confirmed by Christ in the gospel. 4. That it consequently becomes a part of all true repentance to try to satisfy this divine justice, by the voluntary assumption of such penitential works, as His revealed truth assures us have efficacy before Him.
These propositions contain the Catholic doctrine concerning satisfaction. And I think I may safely ask you, whether, independently of their clear manifestation in Scripture, they are not in themselves reasonable, and consonant to justice, such as we can best conceive it. An offence may seem to require a heavy reparation; but if friends interpose, a recon. ciliation is procured, on the condition that the offender make a respectful apology. The law would inflict the severest * Mat. vi, 16.
+ Coloss. i. 24.