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is to be hoped for him in the last account, yet because he does that which is materially evil, and cannot discern what is spiritually good, he must not be admitted so much as to the symbols of the divine mysteries.
But concerning madmen the case is otherwise; and, therefore, I am to answer with a distinction. If, from a state of sin and debauchery, they entered into their madness, their case is sad, and infinitely to be deplored; but their debtbooks are sealed up; - they are like dead men; until they be restored to reason, they cannot be restored to grace, and, therefore, not admitted to the sacrament. But if they were men of a good life, they may, in their intervals, that is, when they can desire it, and when they will not use the sacrament irreverently, be communicated. For the seed of God abides within them, and no accident of nature can destroy the work of God and the impresses of the Spirit; nothing but their own wills can do that.
For, in these cases, it is a good rule, and of great use in the practice of the sacrament: “Whoever can communicate spiritually, may be admitted to communicate sacramentally;'
that is, they who are in a state of grace, and can desire it, must not be rejected: and, therefore, good men falling into this calamity,- when they have any ease from their sadness, and that they can return to words of order, and composed thoughts, though but for awhile, though but in order to that ministry, - are not to be rejected.
But, on the other side, whoever can hinder the effect of the sacrament, they are not to be admitted to it, unless they do not only not hinder it, but actually dispose themselves to it. For if they can do evil, they can and ought to do good; and, therefore, vicious madmen having been, and still remaining, in a state of evil, cannot be admitted till they do good; and, therefore, never, while their madness remains. The godly man that is so afflicted, may; but yet not till the fire that was hidden, makes some actual and bright emissions.
But then, lastly; For others who are of a probable life, concerning whom no man can tell whether they be in the state of grace or no; because no man can tell whether he tbat comes with that sadness, be capable or no, no man can tell, whether he does well or ill: and, therefore, he must determine himself by accidents, and circumstances, and prudential considerations, having one eye upon the designs and compliances of charity, and the other upon the reverence of the sacrament. And the case is in all things alike with dying persons, past the use of speech and reason.
Of actual Faith, as it is a necessary Disposition to the
Sacramerit. Besides the faith that is previous to baptism, or is wrapped up in the offices of that sacrament, the church of God admitted only such persons to the sacrament, whom she called . fideles, or ' faithful,' by a propriety or singularity and eminency of appellation. They accounted it not enough barely to believe, or to be professors; for the penitents, and the lapsed, and the catechumens, were so: but they meant such persons, whose faith was operative, and alive, and justifying ; such men whose faith had overcome the world, and overcome their lusts, and conquered their spiritual enemy; such, who by faith, were real servants of Christ, disciples of his doctrine, subjects of his kingdom, and obedient to his institution. Such a faith as this, is, indeed, necessary to every worthy communicant; because, without such a faith, a Christian is no more but a name; but the man is dead; and dead men eat not. Of this, therefore, we are to take strict and severe accounts; which we shall best do by the following measures.
1. Every true Christian believer must consent to the articles of his belief, by an assent firmer than can be naturally produced from the ordinary arguments of his persuasion. Men believe the resurrection; but it is because they are taught it in their childhood, and they inquire no further in their age: their parents and their priests, the laws of the church and the religion of the country, make up the demonstration; but because their faith is no stronger than to be the daughter of such arguments, we find they commonly live at such a rate, as if they did neither believe, nor care whether it were so or no. The confidence of the article makes them not to leave off violently to pursue the interests
of this world, and to love and labour for the other. Before this faith can enable them to resist a temptation, they must derive their assent from principles of another nature; and, therefore, because few men can dispute it with arguments invincible and demonstrative, and such as are naturally apt to produce the more perfect assent, it is necessary that these men, of all other, should believe, because it is said to come from God,- and rely upon it, because it brings to God, trust it, because it is good, -- acknowledge it certain, because it is excellent; that there may be an act of the will in it, as well as of the understanding, and as much love in it as discourse.
For he that only consents to an article because it is evident, is, indeed, convinced, - but hath no excellency in his faith, but what is natural,- nothing that is gracious and moral: true Christian faith must have in it something of obscurity, something that must be made up by duty and by obedience; but it is nothing but this, we must trust the evidence of God in the obscurity of the thing. God's testimony must be clear to him, and the thing, in all other senses, not clear; and then to trust the article, because God hath said it, it must have in it an excellency which God loves, and that he will reward. In order to this, it is highly considerable, that the greatest argument to prove our religion is the goodness and the holiness of it; it is that which makes peace and friendships, content and comfort; which unites all relations, and endears the relatives; it relieves the needy, and defends the widow; it ends strife, and makes love endless. All other arguments can be opposed and tempted by wit and malice; but against the goodness of the religion no man can speak: by which it appears, that the greatest argument is that which moves love, intending, by love, to convince the understanding.
But then for others who can inquire better :- their inquiries also must be modest and humble, according to the nature of the things, and to the designs of God. They must not disbelieve an article in Christianity, which is not proved like a conclusion in geometry; they must not be witty to object, and curious to inquire beyond their limit. For some are so ingeniously miserable, that they will never believe a proposition in divinity, if any thing can be said against it:
they will be credulous enough in all the affairs of their life, but impenetrable by a sermon of the Gospel : they will believe the word of a man, and the promise of their neighbour; but a promise of Scripture signifies nothing, unless it can be proved like a proposition in the metaphysics. If Sempronius tells them a story, it is sufficient if he be a just man, and the narrative be probable: but though religion be taught by many excellent men, who gave their lives for a testimony; this shall not pass for truth, till there is no objection left to stand against it. The reason of these things is plain : they do not love the thing; their interest is against it: they have no joy in religion: they are not willing and desirous that the things shall appear true. When love is the principle, the thing is easy to the understanding; the objections are nothing, the arguments are good, and the preachers are in the right. Faith assents to the revelations of the Gospel, not only because they are well proved, but because they are excellent things; not only because my reason is convinced, but my reason yields upon the fairer terms, because my affections are gained. For if faith were an assent to an article but just so far as it is demonstrated, then faith were no virtue, and infidelity were no sin : because in this there is no choice, and no refusal. But where that which is probable, is also naturally indemonstrable, and yet the conclusion is that in which we must rejoice, and that for which we must earnestly contend, and that in the belief of which we serve God, and that for which we must be ready to die:- it is certain, that the understanding observing the credibility, and the will being pleased with the excellency, they produce a zeal of belief, because they together make up the demonstration. For a reason can be opposed by a reason, and an argument by an argument: but if I love my religion, nothing can take me from it, unless it can pretend to be more useful and more amiable, more perfective and more excellent, than heaven and immortality, and a kingdom and a crown of peace, and all the things, and all the glories of the eternal God.
2. That faith which disposes to the holy communion, must have in it a fulness of confidence and relying upon God, a trusting in, and a real expectation of, the event of all the promises of the Gospel. God hath promised sufficient
for the things of this life to them, that serve him. They who have great revenues and full bags, can easily trust this promise : but if thou hast neither money nor friends, if the labour of thy hands, and the success of thy labour fails thee, how is it then? Can you then rely upon the promise ? What means your melancholy and your fear, your frequent sighs, and your calling yourself miserable and undone? Can God only help with means? or cannot he also make the means, or help without them? or see them when you see them not? or is it that you fear whether he will or no? He that hath promised,—if he be just, is always willing, whether he be able or no; and, therefore, if you do not doubt of his power, why should you at all doubt of his willingness ? For, if he were not able, he were not almighty: if he were not willing to perform his promise, then he were not just; and he that suspects that, hath neither faith nor love for God : of all things in the world, faith never distrusts the good-will of God, in which he most glories to communicate himself to mankind. If yet your fear objects and says, that all is well on God's part; but you have provoked him by your sins, and have lost all title to the promise :' I can say nothing against that,- but that you must speedily repent and amend your fault; and then all will be quickly well on your part also ; and your faith will have no objection, and your fears will have no excuse. When the glutton Apicius had spent a vast revenue in his prodigious feastings, he killed himself for fear of starving: but if Cæsar had promised to give him all Sicily, or the revenues of Egypt, the beast would have lived and eaten. But the promises of God give to many of us no security, not so much as the promise of our rich friend, who yet may be disabled, or may break his word or die. But let us try again.
God hath promised, that “all things should work together for good to them that fear him." Do we believe, that our present affliction will do so? Will the loss of our goods, the diminution of our revenue, the amission of our honour, the death of our eldest son, the unkindness of a husband, the frown of our prince, the defeating of our secular hopes, the unprosperous event of our employment ? Do we find, that our faith is right enough really to be satisfied in these things so much as to be pleased with God's order and method