Chapter IV. Of Charity, Preparatory to the Blessed Sacrament.
THIS duty is expressed, not only as obligatory to us, but as relative to the holy sacrament, in the words of our blessed Saviour; "When thou bringest thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift; and go, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer." This precept was indeed instanced in the Levitical sacrifices, and Jewish altars; but because, as St. Irenaeus observes; "the precepts of Christ, however expressed, relate to Moses' law but less principally, and chiefly design an evangelical duty;" and, therefore, he refers these words to the celebration of the Christian eucharistical sacrifice and oblation; concerning which he hath these excellent words: "From the beginning God respected Abel's offering, because he offered in righteousness and singleness of heart. But God regarded not the sacrifice of Cain, because he had a heart divided from his brother, full of zeal and malice: and, therefore, God, who knoweth all secrets, thus reproves him; 'If thou dost rightly offer, bvit not rightly divide, be quiet; God will not be appeased with thy sacrifice.' For if any one, in outward appearance, offers a clean, a right, and a pure sacrifice: but, in his soul, does not truly apportion his communion to his neighbour, he hath, sin within, and by his external sacrifice does not bring God unto him: neither will the oblation profit him at all, unless the malice that he hath conceived within, does cease; but that sin will make him every day more and more a murderer."--In pursuance of this, St. Cyril tells, that the ancient Christians were wont, before the communion, to kiss each other, as a symbol of reconciled minds and forgotten injuries; and, in confirmation of this practice, brings the preceptive words of our Lord now recited.
And our blessed Saviour himself adds a parallel to the first precept, which gives light and explication to it: "When you stand praying, if you have any thing against any man, forgive him, that your Father which is in heaven, may forgive you your trespasses."--And so Christ taught us to pray, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us." Let us consider what we do, and consider what we say: do we desire to be forgiven no otherwise? Do not we exact every little ignorance, and grow warm at every mistake? And are not we angry at an unavoidable chance? Would we have God to do so to us, and forgive us in no other manner, than as we do,--that is, turn his anger into every shape, and smite us in every part? Or would we have God pardon us only for little things, for a rash word, or an idle hour spent less severely? If we do so to our brother, it is a great matter: but if he reviles us to our head, if he blasphemes, and dishonours us, if he robs us, if he smites us on the face, what then? We rob God of his honour,--his priests, of their reverence,--his houses, of their beauty,--his churches, of their maintenance: we talk vile things of his holy name, we despise religion, we oppose his honour, and care not for his service. It is certain we do not usually forgive things of this nature to our brother; what then will become of our prayer? And what will be the effect of our communion? and yet it is certain, there is nothing in the world easier than to forgive an injury. It costs us nothing, after it is once suffered: and if our passions and foolish principles would give us leave to understand it, the precise duty of forgiveness is a perfect negative; it is a letting thing's alone as they are, and making no more evils in the world, in which already there was one too many, even that which thou didst suffer. And, indeed, that forgiveness is the best, which is the most perfect negative: that is, "in malice, be children;" whose petty quarrels, though they be fierce as a sudden spark, yet they are as innocent us the softest part of their own flesh,--and as soon out as that sudden spark, and forgotten perfectly as their first dream: and that is true forgiveness: and without this, we can never pray with just and perfect confidence and expectations.
St. Peter gives this precept in a considerable instance; "Give honour unto the wife as unto the weaker vessel, that your prayers be not hindered;" that is, consider that they are weak and tender, easily moved, and soon disordered; their understanding is less, and their passions more; and if it happens to be so, bear their burdens, comply with their innocent passions, pity their infirmities, supply the breaches made by their indiscretions, take no notice of little inconveniences: counsel sweetly, reprove tenderly, strike no fires, and enkindle no flames; that is, do all that you can for peace, without peevish quarrels, and little commencements of a domestic war: for if you give way to any thing of this nature, it will hinder your prayers; for how shall the husband and wife pray together, if they be angry at each other? For, without love, and without peace, it is to no purpose to pray. The devotion of a man, that is not in actual peace and kindness with his wife, is like a hot dead coal, it will burn his fingers that touches it, but it is wholly useless; but he that lives in peace with her, in love and prudent conduct, his devotion is a flaming fire; it kindles all that is round about it; it warms and shines; it is beauteous in itself, and it is useful to others; it is fit for the house, and fit for the altar; it will set the incense on smoking, and put the sacrifice on fire. And so it is in every instance of society and conversation; but I instanced in this the rather, because charity at home, and a peaceable society in a family, is the first of all public unions. When Philip of Macedon persuaded the Greek ambassadors, that they should invite their cities to peace and concord, Demaratus, of Corinth, began to laugh at him for his counsel, and thought it a thing ridiculous for him to speak of peace among the Greek republics, who was always wrangling at home with his wife Olympias. But as to the present matter.
The fourth council of Carthage refused to accept the oblations of quarrelling and angry persons; it is like that of the high priests, in the case of Judas's restitution of the money,--they would not put it into the treasury, because it was the price of blood. Now, because our blessed Master in his law hath handled all great augers and uncharitableness under the title of murder, the church thought it reasonable not to receive the offerings, that is, to reject from the communion all those persons that were in mutual feuds, enmities, and fierce angers. "I wonder," saith St. Cyprian, "what peace they can look for, that are at war with their brethren?"--"These men may be compelled, by their injunction of severe fastings, to be reconciled;" said Fabianus, the martyr. And, in the decree of P. Victor, it was expressly commanded, "That they should be driven from the communion of all faithful people, who are not in peace, and have no charity to all their brethren." This decree was renewed, and earnestly pressed in the council of Agatho; "They that will not, by the grace of God working within them, lay aside the hatred, and long suits, and dissensions, first let them be reproved by the priests of the city: but if they will not, at their reproof, lay aside their enmity, let them, by a most just excommunication, be driven from the congregations of the church." Which decree the church of England hath inserted into the second rubric, before her office of communion, of which I shall afterwards give account. But, for the present, we may consider, that it is infinitely reasonable, that he that needs, and comes for a great pardon, should not stick at the giving a little; and he that desires to be like p God, and conies to be united to him, should do like him; that is, rejoice in remitting offences, rather than in punishing them. In this, as in all other things, we must follow God's example; for in this alone he else will follow ours. In imitating him, it is certain, we are innocent; and if in this he follows us, though we be wicked, yet he is holy; because revenge is his, and he alone is to pay it. If, therefore, we will forgive, he will; if we will not, neither will he: for he makes his spear as long, and his angers as lasting, as we do ours. But this duty, and the great reasonableness and necessity, I shall represent in the excellent words of the Talmudists, recorded also by the famous Bensirach; "He that revengeth, shall find vengeance of the Lord, and he will surely keep his sins in remembrance. Forgive thy neighbour the hurt, that he hath done unto thee; so shall thy sins also be forgiven, when thou prayest. One man keepeth anger against another; and doth he seek healing from the Lord? He showeth no mercy to any man that is like himself; and doth he ask forgiveness for his own sins? If he that is but flesh, nourish hatred, who will entreat for pardon of his sins?" The duty is plain, and the reason urgent, and the commandment express, and the threatening terrible, and the promise excellent. There is in this no more to be said, but that we consider concerning the manner of reducing it to practice, in order to our preparation to a worthy communion: and consider the special cases of conscience relating to this great duty.
1. Therefore we are bound to forgive every man that offends us. For concerning every one of our brethren it is equally true, that he is an excellent creation, that he is thy brother, that he is heir of the same hopes, born to the same inheritance, descended of the same father, nursed by the church, which is his mother and thine; that there is in him God's image, drawn by the same hand, described in the same lines; that there are in him many good things for which he can be loved, and many reasons in him for which he ought to be pardoned; God hath made many decrees for him, and the angels minister to him, and Christ died for him, and his soul is very precious in the eyes of God, and in heaven itself; the man whom thou hatest, is very considerable; and there, there are great desires for his temporal and eternal happiness: and why shonldest thou despise, and why shouldest thou stand out against all this?
2. Not only every man, but every offence, must be forgiven. The wise man s says, "That for some things there will be no returning again:" a blow, indeed, or an evil word, may be pardoned; but for "upbraiding and pride, and disclosing secrets, and a treacherous wound, every friend will depart, and never return again." But he only tells how it will be, not what ought to be; what it is likely to be in matter of fact, not how it should be in case of conscience: and he means this of societies and civil friendships; but in religion we go higher, and even these also, and greater than these, must be pardoned, unless we would prescribe a limit to God's mercy, in the remission of our own sins. He will pardon every sin of ours, for the pardon of which we can rightly pray; but yet we must pray for it, and hope it upon no measures, but those of our forgiveness. "O Jupiter," said the distressed prince, "hear our prayers; according to our piety look upon us; and as we do, so give us help." And there is no instance that can be considerable to the lessening or excusing of this duty. We must forgive, not only injuries 'in the matter of money; but in all errors and crimes whatsoever, in which any man can sin, and thou canst be offended u.
3. Although, in these things, there is no difficulty, yet, in the intention and expressions of this duty, there is some. For, if it be inquired what is meant by forgiving,--many men suppose it is nothing but saying, 'I forgive him with all my heart; and I pray God forgive him:' but this is but words, and we must have more material significations of it than so; because nothing can commute for the omission of the necessary parts of this duty. It is, therefore, necessary that we observe these measures.
1. Every man that hath received injuries, be they ever so great, must have a mind perfectly free from all intentions of revenge, in any instance whatsoever. For when the question is concerning forgiving him that did the wrong, every man can best answer his question, by placing himself in the seat of him that did the offence,--and considering to what purposes, and by what significations, and in what degrees, and to what event of things himself would fain be pardoned, if he were in his case, and did repent the injury, and did desire pardon. That is the measure and the rule; and we learn it from Chrysologus, "Thou art a sinful map, and thou wouldest that God and man should always forgive thee. Do thou forgive always: so much, so often, so entirely, as thou wouldest be pardoned thyself,--so much, so often, and so entirely give pardon to thine enemy." And this, together with the reason of it, is well expressed in the Gospel of the Nazarenes; "If thy brother sins against thee in words, and offers thee satisfaction seven times in a day, receive him. Simon, Ins disciple, saith unto him, 'Seven times in a day?' The Lord answers, 'Yea, I say unto you, seventy times seven times. For even amongst the prophets also, after they were anointed with the Holy Ghost, there was found the word of sin, that is, they also offended in their tongues.' "
Against this there is no objection, but what is made by the foolish discourses of young men, fighters and malicious, who, by the evil manners of the world, are taught to call revenge gallantry, and the pardoning of injuries to be pusillanimity and cowardice. For this devil that dwells in tombs, and cannot be bound with chains, prevails infinitely upon this account, amongst the more glorious part of mankind; but (as all other things are, which oppose the wisdom of God) is infinitely unreasonable, there being nothing in the world a greater testimony of impotency and effeminacy of spirit, than a desire of revenge. Who are so cruel as cowards? and who so revengeful as the weakest and the most passionate women? Wise Chrysippus, and gentle Thales, and the good old man, who, being to drink his poison, refused to give any of it to his persecutor; these men did not think revenge a pleasure, or a worthy satisfaction. For what man is so barbarous, as to recover his leprosy by sucking the life-blood from dying infants? A good man would rather endure ten leprosies, than one such remedy. Such a thing is revenge, it pretends to cure a wound, but does it with an intolerable remedy. It was the song of Cyclops a to his sheep, "Feed you upon the tender herbs,--I mean to feed upon the flesh, and drink the blood of the Greeks:" this is a violence, not only to the laws and manners, but even to the very nature of men. Lions, indeed, and tigers, do, with a strange curiosity, eye and observe him that struck them, and they fight with him above all the hunters; to strike again is the return of beasts; but to pardon him that smote, is the bravest amends, and the noblest way of doing right unto ourselves; whilst in the ways of a man, and the methods of God, we have conquered our enemy into a friend. But revenge is the disease of honour, and is as contrary to the wisdom and bravery of men, as dwelling in rivers, and wallowing in fires, is to their natural manner of living. And he who, out of pretence of valour, pursues revenge, is like to him, who, because fire is a glorious thing, is willing to have a St. Anthony's fire in his face.
2. He that is injured, must so pardon, as that he must not pray to God to take revenge of his enemy. It was noted as a pitiful thing of Brutus, that when his army was broken, and himself exposed to the insolencies of his enemies, and that he could not revenge himself, he cried out most passionately, in the words of the Greek tragedy, to Jupiter, to 'take revenge of young Octavius.' But nothing is more against the nobleness of a Christian spirit, and the interest of a holy communion, than, when all meet together to pray for all, and all for every one, that any man should except his enemy,--that he who prays for blessings to the whole mystical body of Christ, should secretly desire that one member should perish. If one prays for thee, and another prays against thee, who knows whether thou shalt be blessed or accursed?
3. He that means to communicate worthily, must so forgive his enemy, as never to upbraid his crime any more. For we must so forgive, as that we forget it; not in the sense of nature, but perfectly in the sense of charity. For to what good purpose can any man keep a record of a shrewd turn, but to become a spy upon the actions of his enemy, watchful to do him shame, or by that to aggravate every new offence? It was a malicious part of Darius, when the Athenians had plundered Sardis, he resolving to remember the evil turn, till he had done them a mischief, commanded one of his servants, that every time he waited at supper, he should thrice call upon him, "Sir, remember the Athenians." The devil is apt enough to do this office for any man; and he that keeps in mind an injury, needs no other tempter to uncharitableness but his own memory. He that resolves to remember it, never does forgive it perfectly, but is the under-officer of his own malice. For as rivers that run under ground, do infallibly fall into the sea, and mingle with the salt waters,--so is the injury that is remembered; it runs under ground indeed, and the anger is hid, but it tends certainly to mischief; and though it be sometimes less deadly for want of opportunity, yet it is never less dangerous.
4. He that would communicate worthily, must so pardon his enemy, that though he be certain the man is in the wrong, and sinned against God in the cause, yet he must not, under pretence of righting God and religion, and the laws, pursue his own anger and revenge, and bring him to evil. Every man is concerned, that evil be to him that loves it; but we cozen ourselves by thinking that we have nothing to do to pardon God's enemies, and vile persons. It is true, we have not, but neither hath any private man any thing to do to punish them; but he that cannot pardon God's enemy, can pray to God that he would: and it were better to let it all alone, than to destroy charity upon pretence of justice or religion. For if this wicked man were thy friend, it may very well be supposed that thou wouldst be very kind to him, though he were God's enemy: and we are easy enough to think well of him that pleases us, let him displease whom he list besides.
5. He may worthily communicate, that so pardons his enemy, as that he endeavour to make him to be his friend. Are you ready to do him good? Can you relieve your enemy, if he were in want? Yes, it may be, you can, and you wish it were to come to that. And some men will pursue their enemy with implacable prosecutions, till they have got them under their feet: and then they delight to lift them up, and to speak kindly to the man, and forgive him with all the nobleness and bravery in the world. But let us take heed, lest, instead of showing mercy, we make a triumph. Relieve his need, and be troubled that he needs it. Rescue him from the calamity which he hath brought upon himself, or is fallen into by misadventure; but never thrust him down, that thou mayest be honoured and glorious, by raising him from that calamity, in which thou art secretly delighted that he is entangled. Lycurgus of Sparta, in a tumult made against him by some citizens, lost an eye: which fact, the wiser part of the people infinitely detesting, gave the villain s that did it, into the prince's power; and he used it worthily: he kept him in his house a year; he taught him virtue, and brought him forth to the people a worthy citizen. To pardon thy enemy, as David pardoned Absalom, that is true charity: and he that does so pardon, needs no further inquiry into the case of conscience. It was an excellent saying of Seneca, "When thou dost forgive thy enemy, rather seem to acquit him than to pardon him; rather excuse the fault, than only forbear the punishment: for no punishment is greater, than so to order thy pardon, that it shall glorify thy kindness, and upbraid and reproach his sin."
6. He that would be truly charitable in his forgiveness, and with just measures would communicate, must so pardon his enemy, that he restore him to the same state of love and friendship as before. This is urged by St. Bernard', as the great imitation of the divine mercy. God hath so freely, so entirely pardoned our sins, that he neither condemns by revenging, nor confounds by upbraiding, nor loves less by imputing. He revenges not at all; he never upbraids; and when he hath once pardoned, he never imputes it to any evil purposes any more. And just so must our reconciliation be; we must love Mm as we loved him before; for if we love him less, we punish him, if our love was valuable; then he is forgiven indeed, when he hath lost nothing. I should be thought severe if I should say, that 'the true forgiveness and reconciliation does imply a greater kindness after than before;' but such is the effect of repentance, and so is the nature of love. "There is more joy over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance:" and a brokenk love, is like a broken bone,--set it well, and it is the stronger for the fracture. When Nicanor railed upon Philip of Macedon, he slighted him, and he railed still: he then reproved him but withal forgave him; and still he railed: but when he forgave him, and gave him a donative, he sealed Nicanor's pardon, he confuted his calumny, and taught him virtue.
But this depends not upon the injured person alone, but upon the return and repentance of him that did it. For no man is the better with God for having sinned against him; and no man, for having injured his brother, can be the better beloved by him. But if the sinner double his care in his repentance, and if the offending man increase his kindness, justice, and endearments in his return to friendship,--then it is the duty of charity so to pardon, so to restore as the man deserves; that is, the sin must not be remembered in anger, to lessen the worthiness of his amends. And this is that which our blessed Saviour says; "If he shall return, and say, 'I repent,'--thou shalt forgive him."
But the understanding of this great duty will require a little more exactness; let us, therefore, inquire more particularly into the practical questions, or cases of conscience relating to this duty.
1. How far we are bound to forgive our enemy, that does repent; and how far him, that does not?
2. How long, and how often, must we proceed in our pardon to the penitent?
3. What indications and signs of repentance are we to require and accept as sufficient?
4. Whether, after every relapse, must the conditions of his pardon be harder than before?
5. Whether the injured person be bound to offer peace, and seek for reconcilement? or whether may he let it alone, if the offending party does not seek it?
6. Whether the precept of charity and forgiveness obliges us not to go to law?
7. What charity or forgiveness the offended husband or wife is to give the other, in case of adultery repented of?
QUESTION I. Whether we are to forgive him, that does not repent;--and how far, if he does; and how far, if he does not?
If he have done me no wrong, there is nothing to be forgiven; and if he offers to give me satisfaction, he is out of my debt. But if he hath been injurious, and does not repair me, then I have something to pardon. But what reason is there in that religion, that requires me to reward a sinner with a gift, to take my enemy into my bosom, to invite new injuries by suffering and kindly rewarding the old? For, by this means, we may have injury enough, and sin shall live at the charge of the good man's piety, and charity shall be the fuel of malice: what, therefore, is our duty in this case?
I answer, that there is a double sort of pardon or forgiveness: the first and least is that, which neither exacts revenge ourselves, nor requires it of God, nor delights in it if it happens: and this is due to all; those very enemies that do not repent, that cease not still to persecute you with evil, must thus be pardoned, whether they care for it or no, whether they ask it or ask it not. For these we must also pray; we must bless them; we must speak as much good of them, as occasion and justice do require; and we must love them, that is, do them justice, and do them kindness: and this is expressly required of us by our blessed Saviour.
But there is also another forgiveness; that is, a restitution to the first state of friendship; to love him as well, to think as well of him. And this is only due to them that repent, and ask pardon, and make amends as they can: for then the proper office of thy charity is to pity thy brother's infirmity, to accept his sorrow, to entertain his friendship and his amends, and to put a period to his repentance for having troubled thee. For his satisfaction and restitution hath taken away the material part of the injury, and thou art as well as thou wert before, or at least he would fain have thee so; and then there can be nothing else done, but what is done by thy charity; and by this thou must bear a share in his sorrow, believe his affirmation, accept his repentance, cancel his guilt, take off the remanent obligations, remove suspicion from him, entertain no jealousies of him, but, in all things, trust him where charity is not imprudent.
For it is not always safe to employ a person that hath deceived my trust, and done me wrong. But if you perceive, that he may wisely be trusted and employed, charity must take off the objection of his former failing. If, by repentance, he hath cut off the evil that he did thee, and that evil by which he did it,--then, if you refuse to employ him, because he once did you wrong', it is revenge and not prudence. If he offended thee by pride, by anger, by covetousness; it is not enough that he say, 'Sir, forgive me; I will make you amends:' it is enough to make you pardon him, and perfectly to be reconciled to him: but, unless his repentance hath destroyed his covetousness, his anger, or his pride,--the evil principle remains, and he will injure thee again. Which thing if wisely and without pretences thou canst really perceive,--to trust or to employ him in such instances, in which he formerly did injure thee, is not prudent nor safe; and no charity ties thee to be a fool, and to suffer thyself to be tempted. Only be careful, that you do not mistake jealousy for prudence, and so lose the rewards of charity; lest, when we think ourselves wise, we become fools.
QUESTION II. How long; and how often, must we proceed in our Forgiveness, and accept of the Repentance of injurious Persons?
To this we need no answer, but the words of our blessed Saviour: "If thy brother trespass against thee seven times in a day, and, seven times in a day, turn again to thee, saying, 'I repent,' thou shalt forgive him." Now this 'seven times in a day,' and 'seventy times seven times,' is not a determined number, but signifies infinitely. "Seven times in a day do I praise thee," said David. From this definite number some ages of the church took their pattern for their canonical hours. It was well enough, though in the truth of the thing he meant, 'I will praise thee continually:' and so must our pardoning be. "For if Christ hath forgiven thee but seventy times seven times," saith St. Austin, "then do thou also stop there; let his measure be thine. If he denied to spare thee for the next fault, do thou so to thy brother." But St. Jerome' observes concerning this number, that 'Christ requires us to forgive our brother seventy times seven times in a day, that is, four hundred and ninety times; meaning, that we must be ready to forgive him oftener than he can need it.' Now, though he that sins frequently, and repents frequently, gives great reason to believe that his repentances are but pretended, and that such repentances before God signify nothing;--yet that is nothing to us; it may be, they are rendered ineffectual by the relapse, and that they were good for the present, as Ahab's was: but whether they be or be not, yet if he be not ashamed to repent so often, we must think it no shame and no imprudence to forgive him; and to forgive him so, that he be restored entirely to his former state of good things; that is, there must be no let in thy charity; if there be in prudence, that is another consideration: but his second repentance must be accepted as well as his first, and his tenth as well as his fifth. And if any man think it hard so often to be tied to accept his repentance, let him understand, that it is, because himself hath not yet been called to judgment: he hath not heard the voice of the exactor, he hath not yet been delivered to the tormentors, nor summed up his own accounts, nor beheld with amazement the vast number of his sins. He that hath, in deepest apprehension, placed himself before the dreadful tribunal of God, or felt the smart of conscience, or hath been affrighted with the fears of hell, or remembers how often he hath been spared from a horrible damnation,--will not be ready to strangle his brother, and afflict him for a trifle, because he considers his own dangers of perishing for a sum which can never be paid, if it never be forgiven.
QUESTION III. What indications and Signs of Repentance are we to require and to accept as sufficient?
I answer, that for this circumstance there is a proper use and exercise of our charity, as in the direct forgiveness. We are not to exact securities and demonstrations mathematical, nor to demand the extremity of things. If the enemy be willing to make an amends, accept of his very willingness for some part, and his amends for the other. Let every good act be forwardly entertained, and persuade you heartily, that all is well within. If you can reasonably think so, you are bound to think so; for after all the signs of repentance in the world, he may deceive you; and whether his heart be right or not, you can never know but by the judgment of charity; and that you may better use betimes. For whenever your returning enemy says, 'he does repent,' that is, gives human and probable indications of his repentance, you cannot tell but that he says true; and, therefore, you must forgive. The words of Christ are plain: 'If he returns, saying, I do repent:' then it is a duty, and we can stay no longer; for he that confesses his sin, and prays for pardon, hath done great violence and mortification to himself; he hath punished his fault: and then there is nothing left to be done by the offended party, but to return to mercy and charity. But in this affair it is remarkable, what we are commanded by our blessed Lord: "Agree with thine adversary quickly," &c. "lest thou be constrained to pay the utmost farthing:" plainly intimating, that, in reconcilements and returns of friendship, there is supposed always something to be abated, something clearly forgiven: for if he pay thee to the utmost farthing, thou hast forgiven nothing. It is merchandise, and not forgiveness, to restore him that does as much as you can require. "Be not over righteous," saith Solomon; that is, let charity do something of thy work, allow to her place, and powers and opportunity. It was an excellent saying of St. Bernard's: "God is never called 'the God of revenges,' but 'the Father of mercies;' because the original of his revenges he takes from us and our sins; but the original and the causes of his forgiveness, he takes from himself." And so should we, that we restore him that did us wrong, to our love again; let it not be wholly, because he hath done all that can be required, but something upon our own account; let our mercy have a share in it; that is, let us accept him readily, receive him quickly, believe him easily, expound all things to the better sense, take his word, and receive his repentance, and forgive him at the beginning of it; not to interrupt his repentance, but to encourage it: and that is the proper work of charity in the present article.
QUESTION IV. Whether, after every Relapse, must the Conditions of his Pardon be harder than before?
I answer, that I find no difference in the expression of our blessed Saviour. It is all one after seven times; and after seventy times, and after seventy times seven times; if he shall return, saying, 'I repent,'---that is all is here required. But then, because by saying 'I repent,' is not meant only the speaking it, but also doing it, it must at least be probable that he does so, as well as say so: therefore, although as soon as he does so, so soon you must forgive him, yet
1. After the first forgiveness, and at the second and third offence, we are not obliged so readily to believe his saying, as after the first offence; at which time, although he did violence to justice and charity, yet he had not broken his faith, as now he hath: and, therefore, the oftener he hath relapsed, the more significations he ought to give of the truth of his repentance. "He that is pardoned, and sins again, cannot expect so easily to be acquitted the third time, as at the first," saith St. Basil. At the first fault we must believe his saying, because we know nothing to the contrary: but when he hath often said so, and it is seen so often that he did not say true, he that is forgiven, and then relapses, is obliged to do more the next time he pretends repentance.
2. Although we are bound to forgive him entirely, even after a thousand injuries, if he does truly repent; yet this person cannot expect to be employed, or to be returned to all his former capacities of good; because it is plain, he hath not cured the evil principle, the malicious heart, or the evil eye,--the slanderous tongue, or the unjust hand,--his covetous desire, and his peevish anger: and then, though we must be ready in heart to receive him to all the degrees of his former condition, when he shall be capable, and is the same man that ought to be employed: yet till he be so, or appears so in prudent and reasonable indications, he must be pardoned heartily, and prayed for charitably, but he must be handled cautiously. It must not be harder for thee to pardon him after ten thousand relapses and returns: but after so much variety of folly and weak instances, it will be much harder for him to say and prove he docs repent. But in this, our charity must neither be credulous nor morose; too easy, nor too difficult; but it is secure, if it pardons him, and prays for him, whether he repents or no.
3. There are some significations of repentance, which charity never can refuse; but must accept the offending person as a convert and a penitent.
1. Such is open and plain confession of the fault, with the circumstances of shame and dishonour; for he that does so much rudeness to himself as to endure the shame of his sin, rather than not to return to duty, gives great testimony that he returns in earnest. And this can no ways be abated, unless he have done so before and that his confession is but formal, and his shame is passed into shamelessness. In this case we may expect some more real argument.
2. Whatsoever are the great usual signs and expresses of repentance before God, those also are to be accepted by us, when they are done before men: and though we may be deceived in these things, and God cannot, yet they are the best we can get, and something we must rely upon. And because, like God, we cannot discern the hearts of men, yet we rightly follow his example, when we do that which is the next best, and expound the action to the best and most favourable sense of charity.
3. An oath, if it be not taken lightly, is a great presumption of an innocent, a sincere, and a repenting soul: "Quisquis juranti nihil credit, illemet facile pejerare scit:" "It is the sign of an ill mind not to trust him that swears seldom, and always solemnly, and, for aught we know, justly," said Amphis. "Apposito juramento cautior et diligentior animus fit; a duobus enim sibi tum cavet, et ne laedat amicos, et ne peccet in Deos." For a solemn sacred oath is a double hedge, and it is guarded by a double fear; lest I abuse my friend, and lest I provoke my God: and the blessed apostle saith, "that an oath is the end of all strife;" meaning, amongst persons, who can cease to strive, and can cease to be injurious. It is so among them who have religion, and who can be fit for society. For there is no man whose oath it can be fit to take, but it is also fit, that, having sworn, he should be trusted. But it is seldom that our charity can be put to such extremities: and, in no conversation can it happen, that a man shall do an injury, and repent, and do it again twenty times, and an hundred times, in the revolution of a few days. If such things could be, those men are intolerable upon other accounts; and, though charity must refuse no man, and forgiveness must always stand at your door ready to let in all that knock,--yet the accidents of the world, caution and prudence, and innocent fears, will dispose of our affairs in other channels of security, and cut off the occasions of such disputes: so certain is that observation of St. Jerome which I mentioned before, that 'we are tied to forgive oftener than our brother can sin;' but then also so safe are we, whose charity must be bigger than the greatest temptation: and yet no temptation is like to happen, but what is less than an ordinary charity.
QUESTION V. Whether the injured Person be bound, to offer Peace? Or may he let it alone, and worthily communicate, if the offending Party does not seek it?
To the question, 'Whether of the parties must begin the peace?' I answer, that both are bound:--for although he that did the injury, is bound, in conscience and justice, to go to him whom he hath injured, and he is not a true penitent if he does not; and he must not for his part be accepted to the communion, of which I am to give account in the chapter of repentance;--yet because we are now upon the title of charity, I am to add, that, if the criminal does not come, the offended person must offer peace: he must go, or send to him. "If others begin the quarrel, do thou begin the peace," said Seneca. For sometimes the offender desires pardon, but dares not ask it; he begs it by interpretation and tacit desire: consult, therefore, with his modesty, his infirmity, and his shame. He is more bound to do it than thou art; yet thou canst better do it than he can. It is not always safe for him; it is never unsafe for thee. It may be an extreme shame to him; it is ever honourable to thee. It may be sometimes to his loss; it is always thy gain. For this was the resolution of Hesiod's riddle, "Half is more than the whole.' "A dinner of herbs with peace, is better than a stalled ox with contention;" and therefore, upon all accounts, it is for thy advantage to make the offer.
I add also, it is thy duty. I do not say, that in justice thou art bound; but in charity thou art, and in obedience to thy Lord. "If thy brother offend thee, go and tell him:"--"Go thou," says Christ. For, by so doing, we imitate God, whom, though we have so often, so infinitely offended, yet he thought thoughts of peace, and sent to us ambassadors of peace and ministers of reconciliation. When Pompey and Marcus Crassus were to quit their consulships, Cneius Aurelius, I know not upon what account, ran into the forum, and cried out, that Jupiter, appearing to him in his dream, commanded that they should be reconciled before they were discharged by the people; which when the people also required, Pompey stirred not, but Crassus did; he reached out his hand to his colleague, saying, 'I do nothing unworthy of myself, O Romans, if I first offer peace to Pompey, whom you honoured with the title of 'great,' before he was a man,--and with a triumph, before he was a senator.' We cannot want better arguments of peacefulness: it is no shame to thee to offer peace to thy offending brother, when thy God did so to thee, who was greatly provoked by thee, and could as greatly have been revenged; and it is no disparagement that thou shouldst desire the reconcilement with him for whom Christ became a sacrifice, and to whom he offers, as he does to thee, the communion of his body and blood. Thou art, I say, bound in charity to thy brother's soul, whose repentance thou canst easily invite by thy kind offer; and thou makest his return easy; thou takest away his objection and temptation: thou securest thy own right better, and art invested in the greatest glory of mankind; thou dost the work of God, and the work of thy own soul; thou carriest pardon, and ease and mercy with thee: and who would not run and strive to be first in carrying a pardon, and bringing messages of peace and joyfulness?
Consider, therefore, that death divides with you every minute; you quarrel in the morning, and it may be, you shall die at night: run quickly, and be reconciled, for fear your anger last longer than your life. It was a pretty victory, which Euclid got of his angry brother, who being highly displeased, cried out, 'Let me perish if I be not revenged;' but he answered, 'Dispeream, si non persuasero;' 'And let me perish, if I do not make you kind, and quickly to forget your anger.' That gentle answer did it, and they were friends presently, and for ever after.--It is a shame if we be outdone by heathens; and especially in that grace, which is the ornament and jewel of our religion, that is, in forgiving our enemies, in appeasing anger, in doing good for evil, in returning prayers for cursings, and gentle usages for rude treatments; this is the glory of Christianity c, as Christianity is the glory of the world. I end this with the advice of St. Bernard, "Let every man, who desires to come worthily to the sacrament of peace, the communion of Christ's body,--for the wrong that he does, be ready to ask pardon; and for the wrong that he receives, be ready to give pardon: and so Christ's members will be in peace."
QUESTION VI. Whether the Precept of Forgiveness, and the charity of the Communion, must, of Necessity, put a Period to all Lawsuits.
To this I answer, that suits at law, in matters criminal, relating to injuries done or suffered, are so often mingled with interests of anger and revenge, they are so often conducted violently and passionately, that he who forbids anger and revenge, does also in effect forbid suits of law upon the account of injuries received. But this is to be understood only of such repetitions of right, or vindications of wrong, as cannot, or will not, be separated from revenge. Thus if the law which God gave to Moses in the matter of injuries, were the measure of our judicatories, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," it were not lawful to go to law to get his eye put out, that had extinguished mine: for this does not repair me, but only afflicts him. A wolf is, in nature, less hateful than a viper; he wounds, that he may drink the blood, and kills, that he may eat: but the viper smites that he may kill, and gets nothing by it. So is every lawsuit that vexes one, and repairs no man. But the rules and measures of conscience in this particular are briefly these:--
1. If the injury be transient, and passes away in the act, it is not lawful for a Christian to go to law; because he cannot rescind the act, and he cannot repair himself: and that which remains, is nothing but revenge, which can never consist with charity.
2. The case is the same, if the injury be permanent, but irremediable: for if nothing can be rescinded, if no amends can be made, it is but a fantastic pleasure to delight in the affliction of him that injured me. If cutting off his arm would make mine grow; if striking him upon the face would bring me a new tooth, instead of that which he struck out of mine; then there might be a just cause of going to law; but when the evil remains after all that the law can do, it is enough that I lost a limb,--I will not lose my charity, which is left me to make amends to me, and to procure a blessing to make me reparation. If by my arm I got my living, it is fit that he that cut my arm off, should give me maintenance; because he can repair my loss of livelihood, though he can never restore my arm: and to cause him to be barely afflicted for my affliction, when I am not relieved by his affliction, is barbarism, and a rude uncharitableness. To revenge, is but the more excusable way of doing injury. Nay, Maximus Tyrius says, it is worse; "the revenging man is worse than the injurious:" and, therefore, to prosecute him in law who did me wrong, and cannot now amend me, is but uncharitableness acted under the visor of authority. So Mithridates affirmed, that 'usually men carry arms against a thief, for revenge as much as for their security:'--it is, in many cases, nothing else but revenge.
3. He that hath received an injury, must not revenge himself by going to law, though with a purpose to prevent another injury, that is tolerable and inconsiderable. The reason is, because if he fears an evil that is but little,--the smallness of the evil, and the uncertainty of its event, are not considerable, if compared to the evil of revenge that is included, to the trouble of the suit, to the evil of our brother's punishment, to his shame and to his smart, to his expense and his disorder: and the charity of forgiveness shall never hare a proper season for his exercise, or an opportunity to get a reward, if every excuse and every degree of temptation, or seeming warranty, can legitimate that action which is more like a revenge, than it can be to prudence, and a reasonable caution.
All quarrellings and contentions at law for little matters, are arguments of impatience, of a peevish spirit, and an uncharitable mind. He is a very miserable man that is unquiet when a mouse runs over his shoe, or a fly does kiss his cheek. "Whatsoever is little and tolerable, must be let alone," said Aristides; and Apollonius answered, "That wars must not be undertaken for great causes,--nor suits at law for little ones." There is in such persons who run to courts, and complain for every small offence, such a stock of anger and peevishness, and such a spirit of fire within them,--that every breath and every motion from without can put it into a flame; and the devil will never be wanting to minister occasions to such prepared materials. It is told in the annals of France, that when the kings of England and France, in a deadly war, had their armies ready to join battle, the French officers, having felt the force of the English valour, were not willing to venture the hazard of a battle, and persuaded their king to offer conditions of peace. The treaty was accepted, and the two kings withdrew into an old chapel in the field; where, when they had discoursed themselves into kindness, they resolved to part friends, and to appoint commissioners to finish the treaty. But as they were going out, a great serpent issued out of the ruinous wall, and made towards the kings; who, being affrighted with the danger, drew their swords, and in that manner ran out of the chapel. Their guards, who in equal numbers attended at the door, seeing their princes in a fright, and with their swords drawn, supposed they were fighting,--and, without any sign, instantly drew upon each other; which alarm the two armies taking instantly, engaged in a bloody fight, and could not, for all the power of their kings, be totally disengaged, till the night parted them. Just such is the danger of an angry and quarrelsome spirit: he hath his sword by his side, and his army in the field; his hand is up, and his heart is ready; and he wants nothing but an occasion, a serpent, to set him on: and that will never be wanting, as long as the old serpent, the devil, hath any malice or any power. But let us riot deceive ourselves: we are bound very far by the laws of charity to the soul of our brother; and we are very much concerned that he be saved; and, therefore, our blessed Saviour commanded us, "if our brother have sinned against us, to reprove him;" not presently to hale him to the judge, or deliver him up to the law, but to use means and charitable instruments, not for his vexation, but his conversion. And he little regards his brother's soul, who, by suits of law, and arts of affliction, provokes him to more anger, or hardens him in his sin, or hinders his repentance, or vexes him into impatience.
But to return to the particular case. The preventing of every evil is not a sufficient pretence, though it were true, to commence a suit at law. For when our blessed Saviour commands us to reprove our offending brother, he speaks of such a one as is still in wrong, and the state of injustice, a person from whom we are not sure but we may receive another injury; and yet even to this person we are commanded to be charitable in our reproof and private admonition, but are not permitted to be quick and fierce in our complaints at law. For it is not dishonourable, if a wise man be railed at, be smitten, be cheated, be derided by fools and evil persons: but to do any thing of this again, that is inhuman and inglorious. But this case is fully determined even by a heathen: "You must not return evil to your enemy, although we be in danger to suffer a greater mischief; and, therefore, not vex him at law. For that is the defence of beasts, who cannot keep themselves harmless, but by doing a greater mischief: a tooth or a claw, a horn or a heel, these defend the beast, who, that he may not receive a wound, defends himself so, that he will kill his enemy. And yet this, amongst evil men, is called 'prudent.' It is not by this discourse intended, that we may not take securities of him against future mischiefs, if we can do it without doing him a mischief; but under the colour of securing ourselves for the future, we must not be revenged for what is past: neither must our revenge in small matters be used at all as an instrument of our security. If we can be secured without his affliction, we must take that way to be secured; but if, by revenges, and direct inflictions of evil, or procurations of punishment, we attempt it, we are not charitable. And this is the perfect meaning of our blessed Saviour: "If thine enemy take thy cloak, let him take thy coat also: and if he strike thee on thy right cheek, turn thy left to him:" and let him strike thee again. These words are not to be understood literally and precisely; not so as to' forbid all securities or avoiding of future evils; for Christ himself did not so, when an evil servant smote him; and St. Paul did not so, when the high priest commanded him to be smitten on the face; they neither of them received it silently, nor turned the other cheek. And what, if he that smote one cheek, will smite no more? or will smite the same? How if we are not able to bear a second blow? Or how if the offering the other cheek provoke thy enemy to scorn thee, and tempt or provoke him to strike thee,---who intended no such second blow? And were it not evidently better to withdraw from him that smites, or to sweeten him with gentle language? It is, therefore, certain, these words are to be understood in the sense of prudence, equity, and charity; that is, when you are injured, you may use all that is for your innocent defence, and unmingled guards; you may, without all peradventure, pray him to be quiet; you may give him reasons and arguments to let you alone; you may give good words, you may give blessing for cursing, that is certainly permitted; or you may run away, you may flee from city to city; or you may complain to him; you may reprove him, and expostulate the injury with him, as Christ did, and as did St. Paul. But what is then meant by 'turning the other cheek?' Our blessed Saviour, using an idiotism of his own language, and a phrase used by the prophet in the prediction of Christ's meekness and passion, 'he turned his cheeks to the nippers,' means, that 'we must not resist with doing violence or affliction to him that smites;' any innocent guard, but nothing violent; any thing that is harmless, but nothing vexatious; but rather than do another evil, suffer another: and this evidently demonstrates, that the preventing of every injury is no sufficient warrant to legitimate the bringing of our enemy to be punished at law for what is past. The sum is this:
No man is forbidden to lock his doors, to bar his windows, or to run from evil, or to divert it, or to reprove it. But, 1. In this question we speak of evil already done, and against revenges, not against defences; for that which is done, cannot be undone: and, therefore, revenge is foolish and malicious: but that which is not done, may be prevented by all arts of gentleness and innocence; and, therefore, defences are prudent, and they are lawful. 2. We speak here of little dangers and tolerable evils; and a man must not go to law, because the musician m keeps false time with his foot: it is not for a small matter that a man must disquiet his brother; he must rather suffer two, than do one evil.
4. But if the evil we fear, be intolerable, and yet certain, or very probable to happen,--we may appeal to the law for sanctuary or defence, though this appeal do procure affliction to our enemy: always provided, that this evil be not directly intended, nor desired secretly, nor delighted in when it happens, and be made as little as it can, prosecuted with as easy circumstances, without vexatious measures, but not without necessity.
For in all intercourses with our enemy, there are but two things to be considered by us; how we may do him good, how we may keep ourselves from evil. The latter, the law of charity, and collateral duties, do permit or enjoin respectively; but of the former our blessed Saviour hath made special provision. For when our blessed Lord commanded us first to reprove secretly our offending brother, and then before witness, if there be need; the reason he gives, is only that we may bring him to repentance; that you may gain him, by rescuing his soul from guiltiness, and his actions from injuriousness. If this course will not prevail, then tell it to the church; complain of him publicly, bring him before the Christian judicatories: but still that he may repent; for if he repents, he must be thy brother still, loved as dearly, treated as friendly, caressed as sweetly, handled as tenderly, conversed with as obligingly. But if none of all this will prevail for his good, then look you only to the other part of the permission; that is, that you be secured from his evil; you have done all that you are tied to do for his repentance in this method, but you have not yet done all that you are tied to do in charity: for still you must afford him all those kindnesses, which Christ requires of thee for thy enemy; that is, to pray for him, and to love him. But you may secure yourself by all means, which his violence and your case hath made necessary.
But this, I say, is in case the evil be intolerable, or that to avoid it be a matter of duty, or charity to those to whom you are obliged. Though my old friend, and my new enemy, Carbo, do me little spites, and kill my deer, or shoot pigeons, or trespass upon my grass, I must not be avenged on him at the law, or right myself by afflicting him, but strive for the rewards of patience, and labour for the fruits of my charity,--and, for the rest, use all the guards of prudence that I can: yet if he takes away my children's portions, or fires my houses, or exposes me or mine to beggary or destitution, I must do that duty which my charity to my children, and my justice does oblige me: I may defend my children's right, though that defence exposes him to evil that does the evil. I may not let Carbo alone, and suffer my children to be undone. I must provide for my own according to their condition and states of life; if this provision be but necessary or competent, according to prudent, modest, and wise accounts, and be not a contention for excesses and extravagancies of wealth. He that goes to law for another, hath greater warrant than he that does it for himself; for it is more likely to be charity in that case, and revenge in my own; and, certainly, in the disputes of charity, our children are to be preferred before our enemies.
In short, if the vexation that is brought by the suit of law upon an injurious person, be not revenge, and if the defence be necessary, or greatly charitable, and if the injury be intolerable or greatly afflictive,--in all these cases, Christ hath left us to the liberties of nature, and reason, and the laws.
5. No man must, in his own case, prosecute his enemy to death or capital punishment. The reasons are, because no man's temporal evil, his injury, his disgrace, his money, and his wound, are not the competent value for the life of a man; and when, beyond this, there is no evil that we can do, it can, in no sense, consist with charity that goes so far. He that prosecutes his enemy to death, forgives nothing, forbears nothing of that injury; he means no good to his enemy, desires not his amendment, is not careful of his repentance, is not ambitious to gain a brother, to secure the interest of a soul for God, to get himself the rewards of charity; and it is a sad thing to make thy adversary pay the utmost farthing, even whilst he is in the way; and to send him, to make his accounts to God, reeking in his sins, and his crimes broad blown about his ears. There are not many cases, in which it can consist with the spirit of Christianity, for the laws themselves to put a criminal hastily to death n. Whatsoever is necessary, that is lawful; and of the necessities of the public, public persons are to judge: only they are to judge according to the analogy and gentleness of the Christian laws, by a Christian spirit, and to take care of souls, as well as of bodies and estates. If the criminal can be amended, as oftentimes he can; it is much better for a commonwealth, that a good citizen be made, than that he be taken away while he is evil. Strabo tells of some nations dwelling about Caucasus, that never put their greatest malefactors to death:--and Diodorus says that "Sabacon, a pious and good king of Egypt, changed capital punishment into a slavery, and profitable works, and that with excellent success; because it brought more profit to the public, and brought the criminal to repentance and a good mind." Balsamo says, 'Greek emperors did so;' and St. Austin advises it as most fitting to be done.
But if this, in some case, be better in the public itself, it is necessary in the private, and it is necessary in our present inquiry, in order to charity preparatory to the holy communion: and, in the council of Eliberis, there is a canon, "If any Christian accuse another at the law, and prosecute him to banishment or death, let him not be admitted to the communion, no, not so much as in the article of death." For he whose malice passed unto the death of his brother, must not, in his death, receive the communion of the faithful, and the seal of the charities of God. But this was severe: and it is to be understood only to be so, unless when we are commanded to prosecute a criminal, by the interest of necessary justice, and public charity, and the command of the laws; but, in other cases, he that hath done so, let him repent greatly, and long, and at last communicate: that is the best expedient.
QUESTION VII. Whether the Laws of Forgiveness, and the Charities of the Communion, oblige the injured Person to forgive the adulterous Husband or Wife, if they do repent?
There are two cases, in which it is so far from being necessary, that it is not lawful to do some things of kindness, which, in all other cases, are indeed true charity, and highly significative of a soul truly merciful, and worthy to communicate.
1. When to retain the adulterous person is scandalous;--as in the primitive church it was esteemed so in clergymen:--then such persons, though they be penitent, must not be suffered to cohabit; they must be pardoned to all purposes, which are not made unlawful by accident, and to all purposes which may minister unto their repentance and salvation: but charity must not be done to a single person, with offence to the church; and a criminal must not receive advantage by the prejudice of the holy and the innocent.
Against this I have nothing to oppose, but that those churches, which did forbid this forgiveness, upon pretence of scandal, should also have considered, whether or no that the forgiveness of the criminals, and the charitable toleration of the injury, and the patient labours of love, and the endeavours of repentance, be not only more profitable to them both, but also more exemplar to others.
2. The other is the case of direct danger: if the sin of the offending party be promoted by the charity of the injured man or woman, it is made unlawful so far to forgive, as to cohabit; if this charity will let her loose to repent of her repentance, it turns to uncharitableness, and can never be a duty.
But except it be in these cases, it is not only lawful, but infinitely agreeable to the duty of charity, to restore the repenting person to his first condition of love and society. But this is such a charity, as although it be a counsel of perfection, and a nobleness of forgiveness, yet that the forgiveness shall extend to society, and mutual endearments of cohabitation, is under no commandment; because the union of marriage being broken by the adultery, that which only remains of obligation, is the charities of a Christian to a Christian, without the relation of husband and wife. The first must be kept in the height of Christian dearness and communion; but if the second can minister to the good of souls, it is an heroic charity to do it: but in this there ought to be no snare; for there is no commandment.
To the answers given to these cases of conscience, I am to add this caution;--that although these cases are only the inquiries and concerns of private persons, and do not oblige princes, parents, judges, lords of servants, in their public capacity, and they may justly punish the offender, though the injury be done against themselves, yet in these cases, the punishment must be no other than as the lancet, or the cupping-glass, as fasting, or ill-tasting drugs; they are painful, but are also wholly given as ministries of health. For so sometimes we put crooked sticks into the fire; we bow, and beat, and twist them, not to break, but to make them straight and useful. So we correct the evil inclinations of our children, and the intolerable manners of our servants by afflictions of the body, and griefs of the mind: all is well, so long as it is necessary, and so long as it is charitable. I remember, that when Augustus was to give sentence upon a son that would have killed his father, he did not, according to the severity of the laws, command him to be tied in a sack, with a cock, a serpent, and an ape, and thrown into Tyber; but only to be banished whither his father pleased: remembering, that although the son deserved the worst, yet fathers loved to inflict the least. And although, in nature, none ought to drink but the hungry and the thirsty, yet, in judicatories, none ought to punish but they that neither hunger nor thirst; because they that do it against their wills, exceed not the measures of charity and necessity. But both fathers and princes, judges and masters, have their limits and measures before they smite, and other measures to be observed when they do smite. "O Christian judge, do the office of a pious father," said St. Austin to Count Marcellinus. "A man should not use a man prodigally, but be as sparing of another man's blood as of his own. Punish the sinner, pity the man."
But to conclude these inquiries fully. It is very considerable, that, in many cases, even when it is lawful to bring a criminal to punishment, or to go to law, and that it is just so to do,--yet, this whole dispute being a question of charity, we are to go by other measures than in the other; and when, in these cases, we do nothing but what is just, we must remember that we are Christians; and must never expect to go to heaven, unless we do also what is charitable.
Therefore inquire no more into how much is just and lawful in these cases; but what is charitable, and what is best, and what is safest; for then the cases of conscience are best determined, when our reward shall also greatly be secured. For it is in these inquiries of charity in order to the holy communion, as it is in the communion itself. Not every one shall perish, that does not receive the holy communion; but yet to receive it, is of great advantage to our souls, in order to our obtaining the joys of heaven: so is every expression of charity;--every action, which, in some cases, may be safely omitted, may, in all cases, where there is not a contradicting duty, be done with great advantages. For he that thinks to have the reward, and the heaven of a Christian, by the actions of justice, and the omissions of charity,--is like him who worships the image of the sun, while, at the same time, he turns his back upon the sun himself. This is go essentially reasonable, that even the heathens knew it, and urged it as a duty to be observed in all their sacrifices and solemnities. "When you pray to God," said one of their own prophets, "and offer a holy cloud of frankincense, come not to the gentle Deity with ungentle hearts and hands: for God is of the same cognation or kindred with a good man; gentle as a man, apt to pity, apt to do good; just, as we ought to be, but infinitely more than we are: and, therefore, he that is not good, cannot partake with him, who is essentially and unalterably so."
Peter Comestor tells of an old opinion and tradition of the ancients, that, "forty years before the day of judgment, the bow which God placed in the clouds shall not be seen at all:"--meaning, that since the rainbow was placed there, as a sign of mercy and reconcilement,--when the sacrament of mercy and peace shall disappear, then God will come to judge the world in fire, and an intolerable tempest, in which all the uncharitable, unforgiving, persons, shall for ever be confounded.
Remember always what the holy Jesus hath done for thee: I shall represent it in the words of St. Bernard; "O blessed Jesus, we have heard strange things of thee. All the world tells us such things of thee, that must need make us to run after thee. They say, that thou despisest not the poor, nor refusest the returning sinner. We are told, that thou didst pardon the thief, when he confessed his sin, and confessed thee: and Mary Magdalen, when she wept; and didst accept the Syrophosnician when she prayed; and wouldst not give sentence of condemnation upon the woman taken in adultery, even because she looked sadly, and was truly ashamed: thou didst not reject him, that sat at the receipt of custom, nor the humble publican, nor the disciple that denied thee, nor them that persecuted thy disciples, no, nor them that crucified thee. These are thy precious ointments, apt, with their sweetness, to allure all the world after thee, and with their virtue to heal them. After thee and thy sweet odours, O blessed Jesu, we will run."--Happy is he that says so, and does so "enkindling his charity in the blood of Christ," as St. Ignatius's' expression is, transcribing his example into our conversation, for we can no way please him but by being like him: and in the blessings of Christ, and in the communion of his body and blood, the uncharitable and revenging man shall never have a portion.