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neighbour's arms; do justice and judgment; that is re pentance; restore the pledges; give again that you had robbed; ask pardon for thy injury; return to peace; put thy neighbour, if thou canst, into the same state of good, from whence, by thy sin, he was removed. That is a good repentance that bears fruit, and not that which produces leaves only. When the heathen gods were to choose what trees they would have sacred to them, and used in their festivals; Jupiter chose the oak, — Venus, the myrtle, — Apollo loved the laurel; but wise Minerva took the olive. The other trees gave no fruit; a useless apple from the oak, or little berries from the laurel and the myrtle; but besides the show, they were good but for very little, but the olive gives an excellent fruit, fit for food and physic: which when Jupiter observed, he kissed his daughter, and called her Wise for all pompousness is vain; and the solemn religion stands for nothing, unless that, which we do, be profitable and good for material uses. 'Cui bono?' To what purpose' is our repentance? Why do we say we are sorrowful? what is that? Nollem factum,' I wish I had never done it,' for I did amiss. If you say as you think, make that it shall be no more; do no new injury, and cut off the old: restore him to his fame, to his money, to his liberty, and to his lost advantages.
2. But this must suppose, that it is in thy power to do it. If it be in thy power to do it, and thou doest it not, thou canst not reasonably pretend, that thou art so much as sorrowful. For what repentance is it which enjoys the pleasure and the profit of the sin, that reaps the pleasant fruits of it, that eats the revenues, that gathers the grapes from our neighbour's vine, that dwells in the fields of the fatherless, and kneads his bread with the infusion of the widow's tears? The snake, in the apologue, crept into the holy phial of sacred oil, and licked it up, till she swelled so big, that she could not get forth from the narrow entrance;
y Ezek. xviii. 19. '
* Oliva nobis propter fructus gratior.-Phædrus.
* Si res aliena, propter quam peccatum est, cum reddi possit, non redditur,non agitur pænitentia, sed fingitur; si autem nou veraciter agitur, non remittitur peccatum, nisi restituatur oblatum; sed, ut dixi, quum restitui potest.-S. August, ad Macedon.
but she was forced to refund it every drop, or she had there remained a prisoner for ever. And, therefore, tell me no more thou art sorry for what thou hast done: if thou retainest the purchase of thy sin, thou lovest the fruit of it; and, therefore, canst not curse the tree. Thou didst never love the sin for itself without the profit; and, therefore, if thou didst love that, thou lovest the sin as much as ever; neither more nor less, but thou art still the same man.
But can it, in no case, be lawful to put off our restitution or reconciliation with our brother? Is it not sufficient to resolve to do it afterward; and, in the mean time, to receive the sacrament? For if the heart be peaceful, and the mind be just, the outward work may follow in its due time, and all be well enough.
I answer, that a man is not tied in that mathematical instant, in which he remembers his injustice, to go and make restitution. He is not tied to go out of the church, or to rise at midnight, or, to leave his meat, as Tobit did to go and bury the dead; unless there be danger, that if he do not do it then, it shall never be done at all: for in this case, he must do it, whether it be convenient or inconvenient, whether it be seasonable or not. But every man is bound to do it, as soon as he morally can; and he must go about it, as he does about other actions, in which he is mightily concerned. If a man did diligently examine himself, and yet thought not of the obligation, though that can hardly be supposed,—yet if it be so, and he did not think of it, till he were kneeling before the holy table, then it were sufficient to resolve to do it speedily after, because he cannot, without scandal, remove and go forth; but, without prejudice to his brother, he can stay till next day. If he inquired diligently, and had a mind ready to do every thing, which he could learn to be his duty, there was no unworthiness in him to hinder him from coming; and this cannot be prejudiced by a new and sudden discovery, if it be entertained with the same justice
Quod invenisti et non reddidisti, rapuisti; quantum potuisti, fecisti; qui alienum negat, si potuit, tollit. — St. Aug. de verb. Apost.
and readiness of mind. But else; what you can learn in these cases ought to be done at all, must be done before the communion, if we can: that is, there must be no let in the will, no imperfect resolution, no indifference of affections to it; if it can be done before, it must. For so said our blessed Saviour, "If at the altar thou rememberest, go and be reconciled:" That is, if thou art not reconciled, if thou art not in charity, or if thou beest in thy heart still injurious, and hast not a just and a righteous soul, go even from before the altar; but if thou hast a real charity, and hast done the duties of these graces by a moral diligence, you may come; and a sudden remembrance of an undiscovered obligation need not to expose thee to the reproach of sudden departure: provided, I say, always that thou wert indeed truly reconciled, and truly charitable. For, by our Lord's express command, you must, at no hand, offer till thou hast been in charity till thou hast forgiven, or till thou dost cease to hate, till thou beest 'reconciled,' that is our Saviour's word; for it is the inward grace which thou art tied to in all circumstances, and, therefore, in that; but, to the outward, something else may be necessary, and fit to be considered. Nothing can hinder thee from charity, in any circumstances whatsoever; from present or actual restitution, many things may, and yet thou be innocent: but if thou beest an angry person, or an unjust, or malice be upon thy heart, or injustice upon thy hand, let not thy hand be upon the altar, nor thy heart upon the sacrament. If thy brother hath ought against thee, I know not, why thou shouldest make haste to receive the sacrament, make haste to be reconciled: there is haste of this, there is no such haste of the other; but thou must yet stay, till thou hast done thy duty.
Only remember this, every deferring of it is some degree of unwillingness to do it; and, therefore, it is not good to trust thy own word, till thou hast served thy own end. After thou hast received, thou wilt think that there is less need than before; and, therefore, thou wilt make less haste. For what a religious man said in the case of a dying person, is also in proportion true of him who is to communicate; "He that will not restore presently, if he can,-is not to be absolved, is not to be communicated, although he promise restitution." Because it cannot be likely that he intends it
heartily, that puts it off longer than the day of its extreme, or the day of its positive, necessity. Let us not deceive ourselves of all the things in the world, the holy sacrament was never intended to give countenance to sinners, or palliation to a sin; warranty or colour, excuse, or perpetuity. There is a hard expression in the prophet", "They have filled the land with violence; and have returned to provoke me to anger, and lo, they put the branch to their nose, and behold they are as mockers;" so the Seventy read it; but make no mention of putting the branch to their nose. Theodotian puts them both together: " they hold out the branch like mockers;" — and to this Symmachus gives yet a little more light, "They lifted up the branch, making a noise like them that mock with their noses." But this interpretation is something hard; there is yet an easier, and that which makes these words pertinent to our present duty, and a severe reproof to them who come to this holy service of God, not with the love of sons, and the duty of servants, but with the disaffection of enemies. The carrying of branches, in the superstition of the Gentiles, and the custom of the Jews, was a sign of honour. Thus they carried the pine-tree' before the shepherds' god: they gave the cypress to Sylvanus, and the apricot-tree to Isis: and the branches of palms the Jews did carry before our blessed Saviour, and this is it that God complains of; They carried branches, as if they did him honour; but they held them to their noses like mockers: that is, they mocked him secretly when they worshipped him publicly; they came with fair pretences and foul' hearts; their ceremony was religious all over, but their lives were not answerable. The difficulty came from the homonymy of the Hebrew word ", which signified a branch,' and' a 'noise;' and it will be as difficult to distinguish a hypocrite from a communicant, unless we really purpose to live better, and do so; unless we leave the next occasions to sin, and do justice and judgment, and cease to do evil, and cause that my brother shall no longer feel the evils of my injustice,' and of my foolish crimes.
d. Ezek. viii, 17.. X
c Qui tarde vult, din noluit.
• Καὶ ἰδοὺ αὐτοὶ ὡς μυκτηρίζοντες.
* f Καὶ ἰδοὺ αὐτοὶ ἐκτείνουσι τὸ κλῆμα, ὡς μυκτηρίζοντες.
8. Καί εἰσιν ὡς ἀφιέντες ἦχον, ὡς ἀσθμα διὰ τῶν μυκτήρων ἑαυτῶν.
How far we must have proceeded in our general Repentance, and Emendation of our Lives, before we communicate?
To this I answer, that no man is fit to communicate, but he that is fit to die;' that is, he must be in the state of grace, and he must have trimmed his lamp; he must stand readily prepared by a state of repentance; and against a solemn time, he must make that state more actual, and his graces operative.
Now, in order to this, it is to be considered, that preparation to death hath great latitude: and not only he is fit to die, who hath attained to the fulness of the stature of Christ, to a perfect man in Christ Jesus; but every one who hath renounced his sin with heartiness and sincerity, and hath begun to mortify it. But, in these cases of beginning, or of infancy in Christ, though it be certain that every one who is a new creature, though but newly become so, is born of God, and hath life abiding in him, and, therefore, shall not pass into condemnation,-yet concerning such persons, the rulers of souls, and ministers of sacraments, have nothing but a judgment of charity, and the sentences of hope relating to the persons; the state is so little, and so allayed, and so near to the late state of death from which they are recovering, that God only knows how things are with them; yet, because we know that there is a beginning, in which new converts are truly reconciled, there is a first period of life; and as we cannot say in many cases that this is it,' so in many we cannot say, this is not;' therefore the church hopes well of persons, that die in their early progressions of piety; and, consequently, refuses not to give to them these divine mysteries. Whoever are reconciled to God, may be reconciled to the church, whose office it is only to declare the divine sentence, and to administer it, and to help towards the verification of it.
But because the church cannot be surer of any person that his sins are pardoned, that he is reconciled to God, that he is in the state of grace, that if he then dies he shall be saved, than a man himself can be of himself, and in his own