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punishment, mercy steps in and pardons, but some slight and passing chastisement is imposed, as a satisfaction to public justice. Even so, when God remits a weight of eternal punishment, it seems but fair that the outrage done to His divine Majesty should be repaired by outward acts, expressive of sorrow, and directed to appease His wrath, and avert those scourges which he still reserves in His hand. Hence in the sacrament of
penance, that third part, which we call satisfaction; and in confession, the injunction of some penitential work as a portion of this satisfaction, and an earnest on the part of the sinner, of his willingness to make full reparation to God. Besides this species of satisfaction, I must not omit another very important one, and of the greatest practical benefit in the sacrament of penance. The satisfaction which I have described, may be called prospective, inasmuch as it seeks to avert that temporal punishment which God has reserved for the sinner. But there is another and still more essential retrospective satisfaction, without which we cannot receive the forgiveness of our sins in this sacrament, and without which the absolution of the priest has not the slightest power; and that is, reparation to men for any injury inflicted on them by our transgression of the law, human or divine. The theft is not remitted until what has been stolen is restored, or where this is not possible, an equivalent reparation promised, so far as possible, or even so secured, as to make us sure of its being made. Reparation must be made to any whose character may have been injured, by unjust defamation, or by any exposure of secret faults; or by any expression leading to dishonour or to discredit them, where they had before lived with honour, and been considered honest and respectable. Satisfaction must be made to the wounded feel. ings of those who have been injured;—wherever offences have been committed against charity, all must be done once more to build
up the breach, and restore harmony and good feeling between the conflicting parties.
Now, my brethren, if what I have stated be the doctrine of the gospel, we must naturally expect to find some institution
in the Church, from its earliest times, for the faithful practice of so essential a part of God's dispensations. And accordingly from the beginning, we find nothing so prominently inculcated, either in the writings of the early fathers, or in the discipline of the universal Church, as this necessity of doing penance and making satisfaction to God. It is the basis of the system, known by the name of the penitential canons, in which those who had transgressed were condemned to different punishments, according to the measure of their offences,—some being obliged to lay prostrate for a certain term of months or years before the doors of the Church, after which they were admitted to different portions of the divine service; while others were often excluded through their whole lives from the liturgical exercises of the faithful, and were not admitted to absolution until they were at the point of death. This system surely must have had its root in the strong conviction of the early Church, that such practices were meritorious in the sight of God; that they brought down his mercy on the sinner and propitiated his wrath. And what is all this but the belief of the doctrine of satisfaction? The belief in the power of man to make some reparation or atonement to God, by his own voluntary sufferings? The existence of this system is so certain and beyond dispute, that no one has affected to call it in question. There may be differences of opinion regarding its exact application, or the principle under which it may have been sometimes modified; but all must agree that there was an intimate persuasion or conviction in the Church, that such practices were pleasing and meritorious in the sight of God. And accordingly, we find that some modern writers, who have treated of the practice of the Catholic Church upon this point, as learnt from the fathers, fairly gave it up, and assert, that, as the doctrine of Satisfaction is not to be found in Scripture, and, yet existed in the Church in the first, second and third centuries, we may thence deduce how completely Christianity had been already corrupted. By this concession, however, the testimony of the early Church is freely given up to us : and I will, therefore, content myself with reading one or two
out of innumerable passages, to show how its feelings accorded with ours on this head.
St Cyprian writes thus in one of his later works, to those who had fallen from the faith. “Do entire penance; evince the contrition of a sorrowing and grieving mind. That penance, which may satisfy, remains alone to be done; but they shut the door to satisfaction, who deny the necessity of penance.” He is alluding to the discipline which allowed the faithful that had denied the faith in the time of persecution, to be received again to pardon and the communion, of the Church, without going through a full course of penance; and from his words it is plain, that he considers the doctrine of satisfaction so certain, as to condemn those who reject public penance. He continues; “ Whoso shall thus have made satisfaction to God and, by penance for his sin, have acquired more courage and confidence from the very circumstance of his fall, he, whom the Lord has heard and aided, shall give joy to the Church; he shall deserve not pardon only, but a crown.' Whoever, then, does this penance, can merit, not only pardon, but a crown of eternal reward.
In the following and in succeeding centuries we have innumerable passages
from the fathers who wrote regarding the penitential canons; we have them laying it down as the principle of those laws, that satisfaction was necessary to expiate offences committed. I will read you one or two from St Augustine, and we cannot have a more illustrious witness to the doctrines of the Church. “ It is not enough that the sinner change his ways, and depart from his evil works, unless by penitential sorrow, by humble tears, by the sacrifice of a contrite heart, and by alms-deeds, he make satisfaction to God for what he has committed.”+ In the following words we have our doctrine clearly expressed, that God, after He has pardoned sin, still punishes it in His justice.
666 Wash me from
my sin,' said David, (Psal. l.)- Implore mercy, but lose not sight of justice. In his mercy God pardons sin: he punishes it in his justice. · But what? dost thou seek for mercy, and shall sin * De Lapsis, p. 192, 193.
+ Homil. I. T. x. p. 208.
remain unpunished? Let David, let other sinners answer; let them answer with David, that with him they may find
mercy, and say: 'Lord, my sin shall not remain unpunished: I know His justice, whose mercy I seek. It shall not remain unpunished: but that Thou mayest not punish it, I myself will.""* Is not that precisely, word for word, the Catholic doctrine at this time?—that sin is forgiven, but punishment still inflicted; that God will chastise in His justice, but that the sinner may, by punishing himself, by performing certain works propitiatory before God, avert His anger, and obtain a remission of even this lesser chastisement?
I will content myself with these two or three passages, and conclude this portion of my subject, by reading to you the decree of the Council of Trent regarding Satisfaction, to show you how far the council was from excluding the merits of Christ, or inspiring the sinner with any self-sufficiency on this head. 6. But the satisfaction which we make for sin, is not so ours, as if it were not through Jesus Christ: for we, who can do nothing of ourselves, as of ourselves, (2 Cor. iij. 5,) can do all things in Him that strengthens us. Man then has nothing wherein to glory: but all our glory is in Christ; in whom we live-in whom we merit-in whom we make satisfaction, bringing forth fruits worthy of penance. (Luke iii. 8.) These fruits have efficacy from Him; by Him they are offered to the Father; and through Him they are accepted by the Father. It is, therefore, the duty of the ministers of the Church, as far as prudence shall suggest, weighing the character of sins and the dispositions of the sinner, to enjoin salutary and proper penitential satisfactions; lest, by conniving at sins, and, by a criminal indulgence, imposing the performance of the slightest penances for great crimes, they be made partakers of others' sins. Let them ever consider, that what they enjoin, must tend, not only to the maintenance of better conduct, and the cure of past infirmity, but also to the punishment of the sins that have been confessed."
* Enarrat. in Psal. I. T. viii. p. 197. | Sess. xiv. c. viii.
From this subject of satisfaction, I naturally proceed to the consideration of another topic, intimately connected with it, the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. I have often had occasion to remark how every portion of the Catholic doctrine is in accordance with the rest, and what complete harmony reigns beween one dogma and another; and this position seenis here well illustrated. On the other hand no doctrine has been so often held up to public dislike-although it is difficult to say why,—than the doctrine of Purgatory, which follows, as a consequence or corollary from that of which I have just treated; so much so that the Catholic doctrine of satisfaction would be incomplete without it. The idea that God requires satisfaction, and will punish sin, would not go to its furthest and necessary consequence, if we did not believe that the sinner may be so punished in another world, as not to be wholly and eternally cast away from God.
I have said that I know not why this doctrine is so often held up to public odium, for it is difficult to see what there is in it to make it so apt and popular a handle for abuse against the Catholic religion. I am at a loss to conceive what can be considered in it repugnant to the justice of God, or to the ordinary ways of Providence; what can be found therein opposed to the moral law, in the remotest degree. The idea that God, besides condemning some to eternal punishment, and receiving others into eternal glory, should have been pleased to appoint a middle and temporary state, in which those who are not sufficiently guilty for the severer condemnation, nor sufficiently pure to enjoy the vision of his face, are for a time punished and purged, so as to be qualified for this blessing, assuredly contains nothing but what is most accordant with all we can conceive of his justice. No one will venture to assert that all sins are equal before God—that there is no difference between those cold-blooded and deliberate acts of crime which the hardened villain perpetrates, and those smaller and daily transgressions into which we habitually, and almost inadvertently, fall. At the same time, we know that God cannot