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Quest. 11. ‘What causes will excuse us from confessing wrongs to others ?” ...Answ. 1. When full recompence may be made without it, and no forgiveness of the wrong is necessary from the injured, nor any of the aforesaid causes require it. 2. When the wrong is secret and not known to the injured party, and the confessing of it would but trouble his mind, and do him more harm than good. 3. When the injured party is so implacable and inhuman that he would make use of the confession to the ruin of the penitent, or to bring upon him greater penalty than he deserveth. 4. When it would injure a third person who is interested in the business, or bring them under oppression and undeserved misery. 5. When it tendeth to the dishonour of religion, and to make it scorned because of the fault of the penitent confessor. 6. When it tendeth to set people together by the ears, and breed dissention, or otherwise injure the commonwealth or government. 7. In general, it is no duty to confess our sin to him that we have wronged, when, all things considered, it is like in the judgment of the truly wise, to do more hurt than good : for it is appointed as a means to good, and not to do evil. Quest. 111. ‘If I have had a secret thought or purpose to wrong another, am I bound to confess it, when it was never executed?” Answ. l. You are not bound to confess it to the party whom you intended to wrong, as any act of justice to make them reparation ; nor to procure his forgiveness to yourself: because it was no wrong to him indeed, nor do thoughts and things secret come under his judgment, and therefore need not his pardon. 2. But it is a sin against God, and to him you must confess it. 3. And by accident, “finis gratia,” you must confess it to men, in case it be necessary to be a warning to others, or to the increase of their hatred of sin, or their watchfulness, or to exercise your own humiliation, or prevent a relapse, or to quiet your conscience, or in a word, when it is like to do more good than hurt. Quest. 1 v. ‘To whom, and in what cases must I confess to men my sins against God, and when not?' Answ. The cases about that confession which belongeth to church-discipline, belongeth to the second Part; and
therefore shall here be passed by. But briefly and in general, I may answer the question thus: 1. There are conveniences and inconveniences to be compared together, and you must make your choice accordingly. The reasons which may move you to confess your sins to another are these, 1. When another hath sinned with you, or persuaded or drawn you to it, and must be brought to repentance with you. 2. When your conscience hath in vain tried all other fit means for peace or comfort, and cannot obtain it, and there is any probability of such advice from others as may procure it. 3. When you have need of advice to resolve your conscience, whether it be sin or not, or of what degree, or what you are obliged to in order to forgiveness. 4. When you have need of counsel to prevent the sin for the time to come, and mortify the habit of it.
The inconveniences which may attend it, are such as these : 1. You are not certain of another's secresy: his mind may change, or his understanding fail, or he may fall out with you, or some great necessity may befal him to drive him to open what you told him. 2. Then whether your shame or loss will not make you repent it, should be foreseen. 3. And how far others may suffer in it. 4. And how far it will reflect dishonour on religion. All things being considered on both sides, the preponderating reasons must prevail.
Tit. 2. Directions about Confessing Sin to others.
Direct. 1. “Do nothing which you are not willing to confess, or which may trouble you much, if your confession should be opened.” Prevention is the easiest way: and foresight of the consequents should make a wise man still take heed.
Direct. 11. “When you have sinned or wronged any, weigh well the consequents on both sides before you make your confession: ' that you may neither do that which you may wish undone again, nor causelessly refuse your duty : and that inconveniences foreseen may be the better undergone when they cannot be avoided.
Direct. 111. “When a well-informed conscience telleth you that confession is your duty, let not self-respects detain you from it, but do it whatever it may cost you.” Be true to conscience, and do not wilfully put off your duty. To live in the neglect of a known duty, is to live in a known sin; which will give you cause to question your sincerity, and cause more terrible effects in your souls, than the inconveniences of confession could ever have been. Direct. Iv. ‘Look to your repentance that it be deep and absolute, and free from hypocritical exceptions and reserves.” For half and hollow repentance will not carry you through hard and costly duties; but that which is sincere, will break over all : it will make you so angry with yourselves and sins, that you will be as inclined to take shame to yourselves in an honest revenge, as an angry man is to bring shame upon his adversary. We are seldom over-tender of a man's reputation whom we fall out with ; and repentance is a falling out with ourselves. We can bear sharp remedies, when we feel the pain, and perceive the mortal nature of the disease: and repentance is such a perception of our pain and danger. We will not tenderly hide a mortal enemy, but bring him to the most open shame: and repentance causeth us to hate sin as our mortal enemy. It is want of repentance that maketh men so unwilling to make a just confession. Direct. v. ‘Take heed of pride,” which maketh men so tender of their reputation, that they will venture their souls to save their honour: men call it bashfulness, and say they cannot confess for shame : but it is pride that maketh them so much ashamed to be known by men, to be offenders, while they less fear the eye and judgment of the Almighty. Impudence is a mark of a profligate sinner; but he that pretendeth shame against his duty, is foolishly proud; and should be more ashamed to neglect his duty, and continue impenitent in his sin. A humble person can perform a selfabasing, humbling duty. Direct. v 1. ‘Know the true uses of confession of sin, and use it accordingly.” Do it with an hatred of sin, to express yourselves implacable enemies to it: do it to repair the . wrong which you have done to others; and the dishonour you have done to the Christian religion, and to warn the hearers to take heed of sin and temptation by your fall: it is worth all your shame, if you save one sinner by it from
his sin: do it to lay the greater obligation upon yourselves for the future, to avoid the sin and live more carefully; for it is a double shame to sin after such humbling confessions.
Cases and Directions about Satisfaction and Restitution.
Tit. 1. Cases of Conscience about Satisfaction and Restitution.
Quest. 1. ‘WHEN is it that proper restitution must be made, and when satisfaction : and what is it?’ Answ. Restitution properly is ‘ejusdem,’ ‘of the same thing,’ which was detained or taken away. Satisfaction is ‘solutio aequivalentis, vel tantidem, alias indebiti:' ' that which is for compensation or reparation of loss, damage or injury;' being something of equal value or use to the receiver. Primarily “res ipsa debetur,” “restitution is first due,” where it is possible; but when that is unavoidably hindered or forbidden by some effectual restraint, satisfaction is due. Whilst restitution of the same may be made, we cannot put off the creditor or owner with that which is equivalent without his own consent; but by his consent we may at any time. And to the question, What is due satisfaction? I answer, that when restitution may be made, and he that should restore, doth rather desire the owner to accept some other thing in compensation, there that proportion is due satisfaction which both parties agreed upon. For if it be above the value it was yet voluntarily given, and the payer might have chosen: and if it be under the value, it was yet volun tarily accepted, and the receiver might have chosen. But if restitution cannot be made, or not without some greater hurt to the payer than the value of the thing, there due satisfaction is that which is of equal value and use to the receiver; and if he will not be satisfied with it, he is unjust, and it is “quoad valorem rei et debitum solventis,’ full satisfaction, and he is not (unless by some other accident) bound to give any more ; because it is not another unrighteous will that he is obliged to fulfil, but a debt which is to be discharged. But here you must distinguish betwixt satisfaction in commutative justice, for a debt or injury and satisfaction in distributive governing justice, for a fault or crime: the measure of the former satisfaction, is so much as may compensate the owner's loss; not only so much as the thing was worth to another, but what it was worth to him : but the measure of the latter satisfaction is, so much as may serve the ends of government instead of actual obedience; or so much as will suffice to the ends of government, to repair the hurts which the crime hath done, or avoid what it would do. And here you may see the answer to that question, Why a thief was commanded to restore fourfold, by the law of Moses; for in that restitution there was a conjunction of both these sorts of satisfaction, both in point of commutative and distributive justice: so much as repaired the owner's loss was satisfaction to the owner for the injury: the rest was all satisfaction to God and the commonwealth for the public injury that came by the crime or violation of the law. Other answers are given by some, but this is the plain and certain truth. Quest. II. How far is restitution or satisfaction necessary 2’ Answ. As far as acts of obedience to God, and justice to man are necessary : that is, 1. As a man that repenteth truly of sin against God, may be saved without external obedience, if you suppose him cut off by death immediately upon his repenting, before he hath any opportunity to obey; so that the ‘animus obediendi’ is absolutely necessary; and the “actus obediendi' if there be opportunity: so is it here, the ‘animus restituendi,” or true resolution or willingness to restore, is ever necessary to the sincerity of justice and repentance in the person, as well as necessary ‘necessitate precepti:' and the act of restitution primarily, and of satisfaction secondarily is necessary, if there be time and power: I say necessary always as a duty, ‘necessitate precepti;’ and necessary ‘necessitate medii,’ as a condition of pardon and salvation, so far as they are necessary acts of true repentance and obedience, as other duties are: that is, as a true penitent may in a temptation omit prayer or church-communion, but yet hath always such an habitual inclination to it, as will bring him to it, when he hath op