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THE

RULE OF CONSCIENCE.

BOOK II. CHAP. III.-Continued

OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST.

RULE VI.

The imperate Acts or outward Expressions of the Virtue of one Commandment, must not contradict the elicit Acts of another.

1. By imperate acts' I mean such, which are commanded to be done by the interest of any virtue whatsoever, not proper to the virtue, but such as may minister to it, or signify it. Thus to deny the impure solicitations of an unchaste person, is a proper, an elicit act of the virtue of chastity; but to lie upon the ground,-to wear a hairen shirt,-to use disciplines, to roll our naked body upon thorns,-to sleep in snows, are imperate acts; that is, such, which the virtue may choose and exercise for its own advantage and interest; but ́such, which are not necessary to any man in particular, nor to most men in the general useful, indeed, in some cases, but not necessary in any. To eat and drink sparingly, and so as may minister to health and religion, is directly, that is, a proper and elicit act of temperance; but if a man spares to eat, that he may have wherewithal to pay his debts, it is an imperate act of justice; if to make himself healthful and strong to war, it is an act of fortitude. The terms being so explicated, the measures of the rule are these following particulars :

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2. (1.) The elicit acts of several virtues can never be contrary to each other: as an act of religion is never against an act of

VOL. XII.

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charity; chastity is never against justice; temperance is never against piety. The effect of which proposition is this, that one ought not to be pretended against another; and no piety to parents can engage us to be drunk for their sakes ; no pretence of religion can make it lawful to neglect the care of our children and to this purpose was that excellent precept of the son of Sirach; "Let not the reverence of any man cause thee to sin;" it is no good manners to comply with our superiors against our supreme, and there is a time and a place for every virtue but no time nor place, no cause or opportunity of doing against any. It may so happen, that the external actions of several virtues cannot consist: as sometimes I cannot pay the gabel to the prince, and the offering to the priest; I cannot feed my child and the poor that begs; I cannot, at some times, tell truth, and yet preserve the life of my brother. Now when the two external elicit acts of virtue are inconsistent, the one must, of necessity, give place the rules of which are to be given more properly in another place: but that which, for the present, I am to say, is this, that although the outward act cannot, at all times, be exercised, and so must, in certain cases, be omitted, -yet, in no case, can it be lawful for the interest of one virtue to do against another.

3. (2.) The imperate acts of one virtue may contradict the imperate or instrumental and ministering acts of another:

as fasting, when it is commanded by religion, may be against the advice of our physician, whom to observe it is sometimes a precept of prudence, sometimes of charity. Religion commands us sometimes to feast; and, at the same time, our charity bids us save our expense, 'that the poor may be fed the more plentifully. The reason of this is,because all the imperate acts of virtue are external, and must depend upon something from without: which because it can unavoidably be hindered, it must needs also be, that it may inculpably be omitted. But then the rule is this; Because all imperate acts of virtue are nothing in themselves, but wholly in relation to the virtue,-that imperate act, which ministers to that virtue which is then to be preferred, must also be preferred. The reason is plain: the accessory must follow the nature of the principal: and therefore, if we must

Lib. 3.

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