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effect of sin, and that
cern between is to be accounted sinful, and that abandonwhich is the ment of hope which may more correctly be termed wretchedness; the one which confines from wretch- the infinite mercy of God within bounds, and thinks that there are some offences which He cannot pardon, does not less impiously than erroneously limit it, and, therefore, it is not surprising that it should be accounted by any one, cherishing it in extreme sickness, among those sins which will never be forgiven: but the other, since it consists in a real and willing acknowledgment of the infinite mercy of God, they who labour under it do not suppose that God cannot, but that He will not pardon their weightier sins; and when they persuade themselves of this, not because they imagine the mercy of God insufficient for pardoning any offences of men, but because they believe that they have rendered themselves, through their wickedness which they have committed, incapable of obtaining that pardon,—their condition is rather to be pitied than to be blamed: What should and as the infinite mercy of God should be be said to the largely set forth to those who are afflicted
in either case
with the former description of despair, so to those who labour under the latter kind should be declared that love which God entertains for men, by which He persuades them to repent of their sins, and heartily desires their eternal salvation: the Curate should, moreover, remind them of those great backslidings of the saints, as related in the Scriptures, and should urge them not to doubt, but that if they vigorously perform their work of repentance, they will hereafter attain to that salvation of which they now appear so greatly to despair.
With regard to those special cases of conscience which are wont to disturb the minds of sick people, they must necessarily be left to the skilful direction of the Curate; for since they are innumerable, no sensible person will presume to recite them, nor yet to teach what may be convenient to be said in every case: concerning two cases, however, Curates may, A general with very good reason, be advised, namely, with referwhat method they ought to follow in doubtful of rarer cases, as safest and to be urged with least disadvantage; and what books, approved after
ence to cases
First Rule. Those who are recover
scrupulous and accurate examination, or what persons having a skilful knowledge of casual theology, they ought to consult, before they venture to resolve any knotty point of conscience; nor should they be ashamed to defer for a short time the solution of difficulties of the above description; for if a Curate should err in deciding the point, the judgment he arrives at tends to the hurt of the person who consults him, as well as to his own discredit.
Bules to be included in the Sixth Division.
The Curate should not lay aside all care for
ness should the sick person, as soon as he begins to recover, but since the vows he entered upon
still be visited.
What it behoves the Curate to
while dangerously ill may be more firmly imsay to them. pressed upon his mind, it will be the duty of the faithful Curate to refresh his memory with respect to these, and sedulously to instruct him how unbecoming and how full of danger to himself it will be to violate his plighted vows to God, and how ungrateful it
would be, after receiving so many and so great benefits from Him, to return again to those sins, so hateful in His sight; upon this occasion he may tell him that God can, whenever He thinks fit, again lay on him far greater ills than those now removed, and that when His patience is offended, it is very frequently turned into wrath; and therefore it is justly to be feared, that some heavier judgment may severely chasten him, should he venture to depart from his promises, and abuse the lenity of the Almighty.
ought to ad
He should advise him, therefore, to be Second Rule. mindful of his vows, and daily to meditate What he concerning them, frequently to renew them, vise them. and continually implore the Divine favour, to the end that he may perform the same.
Nor should the Curate depart before ob- Third Rule. taining permission to recal to his memory The Curate those vows, if at any time he should observe permission to him unmindful thereof, and shamefully return- of his vows. ing to the sins against which he had previously resolved for this permission being obtained, he will be able, when there is occasion, with
He should exhort him to observe a certain method of
serve such a
out any offence, to have recourse to brotherly
He should also exhort the person recovering from sickness, to prescribe for himself a certain method of living, and to pre-arrange stated times for each of his duties; for the living. Why he should ob- return of fixed times will in their order admethod. monish him of returning duties, and incite in no small degree to a performance of the same: that person may be considered rather to trifle away life than prudently to discharge his affairs, who by reason of the uncertain movements of a wavering disposition, is directed at random to the pursuits of his calling; so in like manner, in that discipline of a good life, concerning which I am now treating, he who by the hasty impulse of a light and most inconstant mind discharges now this and now that duty, is uncertain as to what is done at any time,