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șins was requisite, so that it may, in reality, be said of the Catholic church in this regard, that it only practices what others have pronounced expedient ; that it only has enacted and exercised an institu. tion which others have confined to their books. But I would appeal, at the same time, to experience. We all know, that the number of Catholics is not small, even in this country; that it is infinitely greater than that of any other religion in Europe ; and even in these islands we may say, that those who profess the Catholic religion are more numerous than those of any other particular creed ; and if this were such a mischievous system, why does not the mischief come before the public? Has any one ever complained of any abuse of this holy institution ? Does the Catholic ever find it? And surely among the number each one must have the means of consulting some conscientious and upright person. Has any Catholic ever been found who says, that he feels there is a facility granted him for the commission of his sin ; that he finds it not that bitter thing that some tell him who practise another religion, or that the slightest undue advantage has ever been taken of the practice, for any purpose whatsoever, not ostensibly within the objects of the institution ? This assuredly would be the case if it had that tendency, in the innumerable instances in which it is practised. When we consider, how many thousands there are who frequent this sacrament every year in this metropolis, but that no one case of abuse should ever be quoted or be produced; that there should not be, even in an instance, I will say, of any Catholic being led to abandon the practice of confession, from finding that it was conducive to any thing but virtue; surely it is a strong argument against the representations which have, from time to time, been urged on the attention of mankind. I am sure, if not being accustomed to practise it yourselves, you inquire concerning it from others who do, they will tell you, that they find in it the greatest resources for preserving themselves from evil; that they receive the most faithful advice, and that by it, more than by any thing else, they are, with the grace of God, preserved in that proportion of virtue which they may respectively possess.
I said I would reserve the subject of satisfaction to another evening; the reason is this, not merely because I have detained you already so long, but also because it is intimately connected with the doctrine of purgatory and indulgences, and praying for the dead; and I am anxious, therefore, to unite all these together, and they will form the subject of a distinct lecture.
In conclusion, I would only exhort all those who have the happiness to believe in the blessed sacrament, which I have just endeavoured to explain; and those who are conscious, that in it they do find relief from their interior burdens, consolation in their trials, and, above all, forgiveness of their sins and the peace of their consciences; that they will reflect, that the time is now approaching, which the church bas specially pointed out for tbeir approach to this blessed institution; that it is particularly at Easter that the church exccts of all her children the making use of this means of salvation. Let them, therefore, make the small interval that yet remains, before the holy season commences, a time of more special recollection, of more particular preparation, by retiring more and more within themselves, by endeavouring gradually to prepare themselves for the work they have to do; by looking into themselves, not merely to discover their transgressions, but also the causes of their falls; to see by what means they may make that confession which they should make in approaching Easter more effectual, more serviceable to their spiritual improvement than those which have preceded. And I pray God that his blessing may rest on you all!
PENANCE-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 more difficult than to adapt our doctrines to the acceptance of those who differ from our creed; that on every side difficulties, necessarily of the most contradictory species, were found with regard to some portion of our doctrines; and, I may say, it is particularly so with regard to that dogma which I considered in our interview of Friday last, and of which I continue to treat this evening.
On the one hand we are told, that the practice which the catholic church enjoins, as necessary to obtain the remission of sins, is something so cruel, so much beyond the power of human endurance, that it cannot be supposed that the Almighty should have instituted such a means as obligatory for the reconciliation of the sinner. It has been called the rack, the torture, the butchery of the soul; and it has been excluded from among the institutions of christianity, on account of its being supposed so completely opposite and contradictory to the ideas of the persons by whom it has been so considered. But then, on the other hand, we are told that the Catholic system of forgiveness of sin, leads to the commission of crime, by the encouragement which it holds out through the facilities which it presents to the sinner, for obtaining forgiveness. We are told that the Catholic, knowing well that he has once offended, he has only to cast himself at the feet of Christ's
minister, and accuse himself of his offences, and in one moment, upon rising from the priest, he believes himself restored to the grace of God, and returns encouraged and strengthened to re-commence the career of offence. How can these two be well reconciled together? How can an institution be so exceedingly difficult, and yet at the same time hold out an encouragement to that whereof it is held to be the remedy.
If this be the case with regard to that portion of the institution of the sacrament of PENANCE, whereof I treated last Friday, you will see that the contradiction becomes still stronger, when we take also into consideration the third part which I have reserved, with its accessories, for the subject of this evening's discourse that is, THE DOCTRINE OF SATISFACTION.
But even here, once more, we are assailed by the same contradictory forms of reasoning: we are actually told, and told by some of the most acute and learned divines of the present day, that this very principle, that man can make satisfaction to God, is enough to reconcile mankind to a principle of crime, that it is a doctrine which, being grounded upon the principle or feeling self sufficiency, calling into its advocacy that sentiment of pride, which is always nearest to man, by telling him that he has the power to expiate his sins, or to make satisfaction to that justice wbich he has provoked, it thereby insinuates itself into his heart, and becomes more congenial to his spirit, than that process, that method, which other systems suppose to be the true course of justification. Assuredly, my brethren, they must know but little of the human heart, who can imagine that a system will be preferred which exacts from the sinner not merely all the sorrow, all the regret for sin which any other religion demands-not merely all the determination not to offend again, and a firm resolution not to return to those sins, which are abandoned before the minister of God, but in addition to this, a course of outward and painful humiliation, consisting, first, in the open declaration of hidden sins to another fellow-creature, and then the feeling that he must bumble, that he must mortify himself, must crucify his flesh, inust fast, must weep, must pray, must give alms according to his abilities.-a system involving all these difficulties, only because it gives him the idea that one small, infinitely small, portion of all this has some sort of connexion with a power, on his part, to please and to satisfy God.
But you perceive that the whole merit, as it is called, of Catholic satisfaction reduces itself to nothing more than this, and they must have taken but a very superficial measure of the understandings and of the passions, and of the feelings of cankind, who fancy that another system opposes a severer barrier to sin, and acts more effectually upon the offender, which does not demand from him the slightest outward act that can be disagreeable to him, but which has its sole difficulty in this, that he believes it is through the merits of another exclusively, and by the application of those merits to bimself, that he is to be justified. Balance the two together, weigh the systems one against the other; examine, first, the internal structure thereof, as I explained them to your consideration in the last lecture; view them afterwards in their outward circumstances, in the external and painful sacrifices which they demand, and tell me which is the system that the sinner would prefer, as being most easy for obtaining the pardon of his sin.
But what a pity, my brethren, that this doctrine did not appear much earlier in the church. What a pity that no one rose among the zealous pastors of the first ages, with this simple and easy principle, and, standing in the outward courts of some of the temples of the great city, cried out to the penitent, who had been laying in penitential sackcloth and ashes for twenty or thirty years, “ Ye miserably deluded men, what are you doing? you are merely, from the idea that you can, by this outward practice, do something towards satisfying divine justice, setting at naught the merits of the Son of God: you are undergoing all this affliction to no purpose : you are not acquiring the slightest favour or grace before God: you are, on the contrary, only outraging his merits and his power, and denying the efficacy of his all-prevailing blood! Why do you not arise, and shake off the garments of mourning at once, raising up your thoughts and your spirits to God, and go and merely lay hold upon the merits of your Redeemer; and, without all this outward practice, you would be in one moment justified ? The time which you have now lost, might have been devoted to other and more useful pursuits."
Such, my brethen, would doubtless have been the preaching of those who maintain a doctrine different from ours, had they lived in the days of old. And do you think that such would have been listened to then? Do you think those holy penitents who, upon the example of David and of the prophets, had renounced the pleasures of the world, to expiate, in sorrow, and affliction, and humiliation, before the footstool of God, their transgressions do you think that they were so far guided by a spirit of mere delusion, that, upon the preaching of such a doctrine as this, they would have instantly opened their eyes, and have discovered that the principle on which they had acted was erroneous; and that, in the first and second ages of Christianity, the vital principle of that religion had been totally lost ?
But, let us analyse a little more closely these two principles of justi. fication. It is said, that the Catholic destroys the efficacy of Christ's merits, because he believes that it is in his power to satisfy, in some regard, for sin-in other words, that the intervention of any human act, in the work of justification, by introducing human merits, is radically opposed to simple justification through the merits of Christ. There is