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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 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
while he is evil. Strabo P tells of some nations dwelling about Caucasus, that never put their greatest malefactors to death : — and Diodorus 9 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
See Rule of Conscience, book iii. chap. 2. pag. 114. • Nemo dubitavit, quin, si nocentes mutari in bonam mentem aliquo modo possint, sicut posse interdum conceditur, salvos 'eos esse magis è republicâ sit, quam puviri.--Quintil.
P Mηδένα αποκτείνειν τών εξαμαρτανόντων τα μέγιστα.
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.
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 criminal, 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.
* See Rule of Conscience, book i, chap. 5. rule 8.-Concil. Eliber,
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 forgive ness 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. Austiny 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.”
i Vitium uxoris ant tollendum aut ferendum est :
Varro ap. Aul. Gell. lib. i. c. 17. Oiselii, pag. 80. i See 'Rule of Conscience, book iv.
u Quo modo scalpellum et abstinentia, et alia quæ profutura torquent; sie ingentia vitia pravaque dolore corporis animique corrigimus. - Seneca.
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
* Memor non de quo censeret, sed cui in consilio esset.
* Dno ista nomina cum dicinsus, homo et peccator, non utique frustra dicuntur; quia peccator est, corrige; quia homo, miserere.-S. August. apud Gratian. VOL. XV.
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 so 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. Bernardo; “O blessed Jesus, we have heard strange things of thee. All the world tells us such things of thee, that must need make us
- josta ite precari
Silius Ital. 4. 795. Ruperti, vol. i. p. 397. c In Cantica.