RECTOR OF CLEWER, BERKS.
JOSEPH MASTERS, ALDERSGATE STREET,
AND NEW BOND STREET.
Lecture I. Penitence Lifelong.
Lecture II. Forgiving Love the Motive of Penitence.
Lecture III. The Reproof of the Spirit the Power of Conversion.
Lecture IV. Confession.
Lecture V. Satisfaction.
Lecture VI. Amendment of Life.
THE subject of outward self-mortification is not attempted to be treated of in these Lectures, and this will appear to be an omission in what professes to be, at least practically, a general view of the main principles of a life of penitence. The omission, however, has not arisen from undervaluing the importance of self-mortification, as a penitential exercise, and an aid in striving against sin. It may even seem, in one passage, that it has been spoken of disparagingly. But this arises merely from its being there alluded to in contrast with godly sorrow, in special reference to the superior efficacy of this latter quality in the production of one particular grace.
The author felt that, for himself at least, more experience is needed before venturing to speak on such a subject with the authority that necessarily belongs to the preacher. Moreover, such a subject is more suited for private counsel than for public exhortation, needing cautions and adaptations to individual circumstances of health and susceptibility, which must ever render its full treatment, in any detail, matter requiring the wisest discretion.
It is plain that penitence cannot be conceived of without the accompaniment of some form of self-mortification. As sin is the indulgence of self, so the overcoming sin implies the forcible denial of self. The principle of fasting lies as deeply imbedded in the genius of Christianity, as that of prayer; and the various forms of self-affliction which are disclosed in the lives of the Saints, who thus sought to keep under the body and bring it into subjection, are but the expansion and development of this primary law of our LORD'S own enforcing. The countless pains of the Passion, which He bore, so far beyond the necessary pang of His atoning Death, ever live to sanctify all true acts of self-imposed penance, by which the followers of the Crucified seek to draw nearer to Him. But the examples of those who have gone before us with the truest signs of the spirit of mortification, teach us as strongly the need of lowliness and self-distrust, of carefulness and meek submission to authority, lest through presumption or indiscretion the good which is sought be marred or altogether hindered by the way of seeking it.