Obrazy na stronie

loves nobody, but abides without charity. But our blessed Saviour hath drawn this caution into a direct precept; " Agree with thine adversary raxù quickly:""" The hope of eternity which now is in thy hand, may else be lost for ever, and drop through thy fingers before to-morrow morning. "Quanto, miser, in periculo versaberis, quamque inopinati rerum casus te abripient!" "Miserable man, thou art in extreme danger, and unlooked-for accidents may end thy talkings of repentance, and make it impossible for ever.”—A man is subject to infinite numbers of chances; and therefore, that we may not rely upon the future or make delays, let us make use of this argument, Whatsoever comes by chance, comes upon

the sudden.'—

26. But because this discourse is upon the grounds of Scripture, it is of great force what was by the Spirit of God' threatened to the angel of the church of Ephesus; "Repent, for I will come unto thee quickly, and remove the candlestick out of its place unless thou dost repent:" that is, ' Unless thou repent quickly, I will come quickly.'-Who knows how soon that may be to any man of us all? and therefore it is great prudence and duty and charity to take care, that his coming to us do not prevent our return to him; which thing can never be secured but by a present repentance. And if it be considered that many persons as good as we, as wise, as confident, as full of health, and as likely to live, have been snatched away when they least did think of it, with a death so sudden, that the deferring their repentance one day hath been their undoing for ever: that if they had repented heartily, and chosen a good life clearly and resolvedly upon the day before their sudden arrest, it would have looked like a design of grace and of election, and have rendered their condition hopeful;—we shall find it very necessary that we do not at all defer our return, for this reason, because one hour's stay may, not only by interpretation but also in the real event of things, prove to be that which St. Austin called-" the sin against the Holy Ghost,"—that is, final impenitence. For as he that dies young, dies as much as he that dies after a life of fourscore years;--so is that impenitence final, under which a man is arrested under the infancy of his crime, as much as if, after twenty years' grace and expectation, the man be

S. Greg. Naz. in Sanct. Bapt.

I Rev. ii. 5.

snatched from hence to die eternally. The evil is not so great, and the judgment is not so heavy, but as fatal and as irreversible as the decree of damnation upon the falling angels.

27. (7.) When we see a man do amiss, we reprove him presently, we call him off from it at the very time, and every. good man would fain have his unhappy friend or relative leave in the midst of his sin, and be sorry that he went so far; and if he have finished his sin, we require of him instantly to hate it, and ask pardon. This is upon the same account that God does it, because to continue in it, can be for no good; to return instantly hath great advantages; to abide there is danger, and a state of evil; to choose to abide there is an act of love to that evil state, and consequently a direct sin; and not to repent when we are admonished, is a choos ing to abide there and whenever we remember and know and consider we have sinned, we are admonished by God's Spirit and the principles of grace and of a holy religion. So that from first to last it follows certainly, that without a new. sin, we cannot remember that we have sinned, unless then also we do repent: and our aptness to call upon others to do so, is a great conviction that every man is obliged in his own particular to do so.

"Απαντές ἐσμεν εἰς τὸ νουθετεῖν σοφοί
Αὐτοὶ δ ̓ ἁμαρτάνοντες οὐ γιγνώσκομεν n.

Since we are all wise enough to give good counsel, it will reproach us if we are not conducted by the consequences of our own wise advices. It was long first, but at last St. Austin fell upon this way; nothing could end his questions, or give rest unto his conscience, or life to his resolutions, or satisfaction to his reason, or definition to his uncertain thoughts, or a conclusion to his sin, but to understand the precept of repentance to oblige in the very present and at no time else. "Differens dicebam, modo ecce modo, sine paululum :' sed 'modo et modo' non habebat modum:" he would anon, and he would next week, and he would against the next communion; but there was no end of this: and when he saw it, "Sub fico stravi me flens, quamdiu, quamdiu cras, et cras? quare

m Menand. Bp. Taylor refers to Menander as the author of these two lines :they belong to Euripides; the latter line should be read thus,-avroì d'örav opáλwjaev, où givácnoμev.—Fragin, xxxiii. ex incert. trag. (J. R. P.)


non modo? quare non hac hora finis turpitudinis meæ ?" "I wept and said, How long shall I say, 'To-morrow?' Why shall I not now, by present repentance, put an end to my crimes?" If not now, if not till to-morrow, still there is the same reason for every time of your health, in which you can say to-morrow. There is enough to determine us 'to-day,' but nothing can determine us to-morrow.'-If it be not necessary now, it is not necessary then, and never can be ne cessary till it be likely there will be no morrow-morning to our life. I conclude this argument in the words of the Latin anthology,


Converti ad rectos mores et vivere sancte
In Christo meditans, quod cupit acceleret.

He that would live well and be Christ's servant, must make haste, and instantly act what he knows he ought always to purpose, and more. To which purpose St. Eucherius gives this advice, which at first will seem strange; "Propound to yourself the example of the thief upon the cross: do as he did." -Yes, we are too ready to do so, that is, to defer our repentance to the last, being encouraged by his example and success. No: we do not as he did; that is a great mistake. It is much to be wished, that we would do as he did in his repentance. How so? St. Eucherius thus resolves the riddle; "Ad consequendam fidem non fuit extrema illa hora, sed prima." He did not defer his repentance and his faith unto the last; but in the very first hour in which he knew Christ, in that very instant he did believe and was really converted: he confessed Christ gloriously, and repented of his sins without hypocrisy and if we do so too, this question is at an end, and our repentance shall never be reproved.

28. (8.) He that hath sinned, and remembers that he hath sinned, and does not repent,-does, all that while, abide in, the wrath of God. God hates him in every minute of his delay. And can it consist with any Christian grace, with faith, or hope, or charity, with prudence or piety, with the love of God, or the love of ourselves, to outstand the shock of thun-. der, to outface the cannon, to dare the divine anger, and to be careless and indifferent, though he be hated by the fountain of love and goodness, to stand excommunicate from heaven? All this is beside the sin which he committed; all this is the evil of his not repenting presently. Can a man consider that

God hates him, and care not though he does, and yet be innocent? And if he does care, and yet will not remedy it, does not he then plainly despair, or despise it presumptuously? and can he that does so, be innocent? When the little boy of Xylander saw a company of thieves robbing his father's house, and carry away the rich vessels, and ten Attic talents, he smiled and whipped his top. But when a child who was in their company stole his top from him, he cried out and raised the neighbourhood.

Sic sunt qui rident, nec cessant ladere, sævus
Cum Satanas illis non peritura rapit.

'So is he that plays on and is merry, when his soul is in the possession of the devil :'-for so is every soul that hath sinned and hath not repented: he would not be so patient in the loss of his money, he would not trust his gold one hour in the possession of thieves, nor venture himself two minutes in a lion's power; but for his soul he cares not though it stay months and years in danger so great, as would distract all the wits of mankind, if they could understand it perfectly as it is.

29. (9.) If there were nothing else, but that so long as his sin is unrepented of, the man is in an unthriving condition, he cannot entertain God's grace, he cannot hope for pardon, he cannot give God thanks for any spiritual blessing, he cannot love his word, he must not come to the holy sacrament; if, I say, there were nothing else in it but the mere wanting of those excellences which were provided for him, it were an intolerable evil, for a man to be so long in the dark without fire and food, without health or holiness: but when he is all that while the object of the divine anger, and the right-aiming thunderbolts are directed against his heart from the bow in the clouds, what madness and what impiety must it needs be to abide in this state of evil without fear and without love!

30. (10.) The advice of St. Paul in the instance of anger hath something in it very pertinent to this article; "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath;" that is, do not sleep till you have laid aside your evil thoughts: for many have quietly slept in sin, who with horror and amazement have awaked in hell. But St. Paul's instance of anger is very material, and hath in it this consideration,-that there are some prin

cipiant and mother-sins, pregnant with mischief, of a progressive nature; such sins which if they be let alone, will of themselves do mischief; if they be not killed, they will strike,-like as quicksilver, unless it be allayed with fasting, spittle, or some other excellent art, can never fix; now of these sins there is no question, but a man is bound instantly to repent; and there is no season for these, but all times are alike, and the first is duty. Now how many are thus, is not easily told; but it is easily told, that all are so of their own nature, or may be so by the divine judgment; and therefore none of them are to be let alone at all.

31. (11.) The words of St. Austin, which he intended for exhortation, are also argumentative in this question; "Hodiernum habes, in quo corrigaris,”—“ You have this day for your repentance."-To-morrow you have not. For God did not command him that lived in the time of Samuel, to repent in the days of Moses; that was long before him, and therefore was not his time: neither did he command, that Manasses should repent in the days of the Asmonæi; they lived long after him, and therefore that could not be his time, or day of repentance. Every one hath a day of his own. But when we consider that God hath commanded us to repent, and yet hath given us no time but the present, we shall perceive evidently, that there is no time but the present, in which he intended we should obey him. Against this there can be no objection; for it is so in all our precepts whatsoever, unless there be something in the nature of the action, that is determinable by circumstances and particularities: but in this there is nothing of relation to time and place; it may be done at any time, and is of an absolute, irrespective nature, of universal influence, and of absolute necessity: and God could no more intend to-morrow to be the proper season of repentance, than he could intend the five-andtwentieth olympiad to be your day for it; for the commandment is present, and to-morrow is not present; and therefore unless we can suppose a commandment, and no time given us with the commandment for the performing it, we must suppose the present only to be it. If to-morrow does come, then when it is present, it is also the time of your repentance. By which it is infallibly certain, and must be confessed so by all wise and rational persons that know the consequences of

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