Concerning the comfortlesse grounds that Poperie layeth down for the comforting of poor afflicted Consciences.
IF we might take a view of such grounds as Popery layeth down for the quieting of an exercised Conscience, what a labyrinth would it be found? For, 1. They deny all not imputation of sin or imputation of righteousnesse, and place remission of sins only in the infusing of a gracious quality in the soul, which they call gratia gratum faciens; so that if the sin be mortall, this is lost (although the person were formerly just) and must again be recovered. If it be veniall, he must satisfie for it. 2. To this kind of remission, they require attrition and contrition. The first is a legall sorrow for fear of wrath, the second is an intense sorrow for the sin committed; the first proceedeth from servile fear, this from filiall: both these they lay down as necessary for attaining of the former remission, or in∣fusion of Grace. 3. To this contrition they give a fourfold influence in the attaining thereof, 1. Dispositively, or a disposing influence, as the materiall cause (as they call it) of this grace, that is, by this contrition as it is a vertue, the soul is disposed for receiving of that grace; or, that that grace may be wrought in the soul, out of that contrition, as the pre-existent matter thereof. 2. If concurreth instrumentally, as it is a part of the Sacra∣ment of Pennance, by which, the Priests absolution doth ex opere operato beget such grace in the heart of one that is contrite. These two are laid down by Thom. supplement. Quest. 5. Art. 1. corp. 3. It concurreth by way of satisfaction for the sin committed, and so this inward contrition, in the sensitive part, is mans recompensing for his fault inwardly, as he doth outwardly inflict punishment on the body; ad recompensandam offensam quae in Deum committitur, as Aquinas speaketh, Quaest. 1. Art. 2. 4. It concurreth meritoriously as an act of vertue, even as other works do for procuring meritoriously something from God, supp. Quaest. 1. Art. 2. even the first entrance into glory.
All which wayes will be unsatisfying to a conscience; for neither of them looketh on Repentance as that which the Lord of His grace hath promised and knit pardon freely unto: therefore, that it may be meritorious, there ariseth a new dispute; wherein this con∣trition consisteth. 1. Some old Schoolmen say it must be in summa gradu, otherwise par∣don is not to be expected. 2. Others, of whom Scotus is the head, say that it is such a sorrow as is only known to God, and so by it the conscience can have no quiet. 3. The later Jesuits, as Bellar. do p••niten. lib. 2. cap. 11. and Gregor. de Valent. tom. 4. disp. 7. Quaest. 8. de contritione, do reject both these as false and dangerous: and because that con∣trition in such a degree is most rare, therefore they have a twofold cure, le•t there be no ground to quiet one at all. 1. Bellarmine distinguisheth contrition in that which is inten∣sive summa and appretiative summa, and saith, that though the first be not, the second will be sufficient, providing the sinner be still pursuing after the first to the uttermost, so that if any thing be left undone which might be done for attaining thereof, this ground will fail; and the conscience can have no peace in this, because in it there is a new sin, and what shall satisfie for that? This is also rare, and considering that a wakened conscience will no• easily acquiesce in its own appretiative contrition, as being equivalent for satis∣faction, that being only such as desireth to be intensively in the heighest degree, as they ex∣pound it. Therefore, 2. the weight is laid on the power of the keyes, and the Priests ab∣solution in the Sacrament of Pennance (which Greg. de Vall•ntiâ•aith is communis Scholasticorum sententia) that is, that though contrition of it self be not suffici∣ent, yet by vertue of the foresaid absolution, one that is attritus, doth become contritus, and so have the forementioned remission of sins bestowed on him. Therefore they make Baptism simply necessary to the pardon of Original sin, and pennance to actuall, except when it is impossible; and in this case the vow thereof doth supply. To this sacramentall abso∣lution they require particular confession of mortall sins, d• necessitate •almis, to be made necessarily to the Priest, before he absolve them, which can be no little torture; and so still this leaveth the soul to dispute the Priests Commission, and the nature of that Sacrament, Page 446 which will not easily quiet it, and also leaveth it under Aquinas his unanswerable Argument, suppl. Quaest. 1. Art. 3. Where (saith he) the principles are diverse, the one can never passe unto, or become the other; But the principles of attrition, to wit, servile fear, and of contrition, to wit, filiall fear, are diverse. Ergo, &c. When this is done, there is still a stick (even by their principles) in the uncertainty of this, whether their contrition be true or not, or whether that remission hath followed freely or not; for, this, they say, cannot be known but by particular revelation) Therefore do they conclude, that to supply all, it is necessary to enjoyn satisfaction in work, by pennances, peregrinations, dotations or such like, whereby they make up equipollently the defects of their contrition, and make all sure: and if the person cannot satisfie himself, because his sins are great, here they have their indulgences, and the application of the satisfactions of others for quieting the mind, whereby the Pope, out of his Treasury and plenitude of Authority, doth apply the satisfaction of some others, who did satisfie and pay more than their own guilt did amount unto, as Bellar. speaketh de indul. lib. 1. cap. 4. The conscience is recommended to this for quietnesse; whence it is, that so much money is given for these indulgences. These wayes indeed oppresse the persons and empty the purses of their patients, but can produce no solide cure. This great difficulty followeth ever that way, when externall bodily pennances do not the turn, then so many years have they to endure in Purgatory notwithstanding of ordinary indulgences, and this, (as Bellar. saith, lib. 1. de Indulg. cap. 9. pag. 1174) may amount to 20000. years: which is the great courtesie allowed by this way unto a tortured conscience.
The question is, what may become of that person at the day of Judgement when his years will not be expired? By the intensenesse (saith he) of the degree that is to be made up in three or four hundred year. This is the path way of their casuall divinity: and after all, they leave the patient at an uncertaintie, when they have bestowed all on them, and indured that twenty thousand years in Purgatory, if for all that they may be afterward relieved and brought through; So it is still at a venture, and what peace can be here in this way, where necessarily these four are controvertible? 1. Whether these means, being applied, can work the effect, when no such way is holden forth in Scripture, and is but grounded in many steps on traditions and canons, and disputable principles at the best. 2. Whether a proportionablness can be between its satisfactions or sorrow, and the sin committed, so as they may quiet the conscience, as having appeased God by them, seing His Justice is infinit, and the deserving of sin is great. 3. Whether its sorrow can be without sin in its self, and so being defective cannot be satisfactory, but must need a satisfaction. 4. Whether its own act of sor∣row be sincere or gracious, that is still uncertain, and so cannot but mar peace still as they ac∣knowledge. And to close, it must be a poor peace which is sought-for in Purgatory, by so many years continuance there, and yet not to be sure of it when these shall end. There is nothing liker the anxiety mentioned here than this, which is but an hint of that which is followed in many inextricable disputes concerning these three parts of Repentance, to wit, contritio cordis, confessio oris, and satisfactio operis, which would sooner distract a wea∣ried sinner than give quietnesse unto him.