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which our principal dependance must be upon God, without whose light and help we can neither see. our sins, nor be truly sorry for them; wherefore, when we set about preparing for our confession, we must, (1.) Begin by prayer, earnestly begging Almighty God to enlighten our souls with his holy grace, that we may not be blinded by our passions, nor deluded by our self-love, but that we may call to mind, in their true colours, all the sins we have been guilty of, whether in thought, word, or deed, since our last confession. (2.) We must · then examine our conscience; that is, call our.“ selves to a strict account of all the evil we,
have done against God's holy law, according to the methods laid down in books of devotion, for help. ing to make that examination. When, by this means, we have called to mind all the sins we have been guilty of, we must then use our best endeavours to stir ourselves up to a sincero contrition or repentence for them. Now, this is done. (1.) By fervent and earnest prayer, begging the grace of a true repentance from Almighty God, who alone can bestow it upon us, (2.) By serious meditation on some of the great evils of sin, in order to excite in our souls a just borror against it. (3.) By making frequent and serious acts of sorrow and repentance for having offended God, with firm resolution, through his grace, never to offend him more.
OF SATISFACTION, AS PART OF THE SACRAMENT OF
A. It is the faithful performance of the penance imposed on the penitent by the priest in the sacrament of penance.
Q. 32. Why is the priest obliged to impose this penance on the penitent?
A. For these reasons, (1.) Because in administering the sacrament of penance, the priest acts as judge, commissioned by Almighty God, so to reconcile sinners with him, that while he dispenses to the penitent sinner the fruits of the divine mercy, he do not neglect the interests of his divine justice. Now, the order of justice requires, that the guilty criminal be punished in a just proportion to his guilt, and that this punishment be inflicted by the judge. (2.) Because as the pardon granted in the sacrament of penance, delivers the sinner not only from the guilt of his crimes, but also from the eternal punishment due to them, which, through the mercy of God, and merits of Christ, is changed into a temporal punishment, that the divine justice may be in some measure satisfied; therefore, it belongs to the priest, by whose ministry this change is made, to inflict some temporal punishment on the penitent, to serve, at least, in part for what the divine justice requires. (3.) Because Jesus Christ, when he gave the pastors of his Church, power of loosing the sinner from his sins, with the same breath, gave him power to bind him with his penance;
“whatsoever ye shall bird on earth shall be bound in heaven; which also shews, that the penitent'is obliged, in the sight of God, to peform the penance so laid upon him.
Q. 33. Is satisfaction an essential part of the sacrament of pevance?
A. We must distinguish between the desire of doing penance in satisfaction to the divine justice for our sins, and the actual performance of that satisfaction. The desire of satisfying the divine justice for our sins, and repairing, as far as we can, the injury done to God by sin, is an essential part of true repentance, and therefore an essential disposition required for receiving the grace of the sacrament of penance, as we have seen above at large in the chapter on repentance. But the actual performance of our penance is not an essential part of the sacrament, nor necessary for receiving the grace of the sacrament, but only for its integrity; it is, therefore, a part of the sacrament, which would be incomplete without it, but not required for the validity of it. Hence, in administering this sacrament, the penance is enjoined by the priest, and accepted by the penitent, before absolution is given him, but the actual performance of the penance is deferred till afterwards. And hence, also, in a dying person, absolution may be given without enjoining any penance at all ; because, when a penitent is incapable of actually performing the penance, God accepts of his sincere desire of accomplishing it, and looks upon that as done, which we sincerely desire to do, but have not the power of doing. Finally from the same grounds it follows, that the actual performance of our penance is not required for obtaining the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, for this is remitted along with the sin itself, by the grace of the sacrament; but only for discharging the debt of temporal punisbment, into which the eternal punishment is changed by the grace of the sacrament, and which remains due to the divine justice, after the guilt and eternal punishment are forgiven.
Q. 34. How does it appear, that wben Almighty God forgives the sin, and the eternal punishment due to it, bis justice still demands from the sinner a proportionable debt of temporal punishment !
A. This is manifest from several very strong proofs of Scripture.
(1.) We have seen above, Chap. xvii. Q. 15, from the repeated declarations of holy Scripture, that it is a fixed rule of God's justice never to let sin go unpunished, but that he will render unto every one according to his works. Justice itself demands, that whoever injures or offends his neighbour, should make full reparation to him as far as he is able. How much more, when we iojure and offend God by sin, must justice demand that we should repair his honour to the utmost of our power by penance? Seeing, then, that God has decreed to render to every one according to his works, as justice demands, and that, when the eterpal punishment of sin is forgiven, the sinner can, not only without hurt to himself, but with great utility, make some proportionable reparation of God's honour, and give some satisfaction to his justice by temporal punishments; therefore, God most justly demands this of him.
(2.) All the proofs from Scripture which we have seen above, Chap. xvii. Q. 19, of the necessity of doing penance for our sins, sbew how strictly Almighty God demands this debt of temporal punishment from us.
(3.) All the examples in Scripture of the holy servants who bad been sinners, and after their repentance and reconciliation with him, did most severe penance for their former sins, shew, beyond reply, the same truth : since nothing but the full conviction that God required this satisfaction from them, could engage them to a course of life so
contrary to all the inclinations and desires of human nature.-See above, Chap. xvii. Q. 20.
(4.) Moses and Aaron had offended God by their diffidence, in striking the rock twice, for which they certainly were forgiven, as to the sin, and continued afterwards to be the great friends of God; yet they were both punished by death for this sin, and deprived of entering into the holy land, which they so earnestly desired. “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, because ye bave not believed me, to sanctify me before the children of Israel, ye shall not bring these people into the land, which I shall give them,” Numb. xx. 12. “And Aaron shall go to his people; for he shall not go into the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because he was incredulous to my words at the waters of Contradiction," ibid. verse 24. ; and he died accordingly in the wilderness. " And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Go up into this mountain, and see the land; and when thou art gone up, thou shalt be gathered unto thy people; because you trespassed against me at the waters of Contradiction, and did not sanctify me before the children of Israel.' Thou shalt see the land, but thou shalt not enter it,” Deut. xxxii. 49.; and he went up and died also in the wilderness.
(5.) When the children of Israel fell into that grievous sin of worshipping the golden calf, the Lord said to Moses, “Let me alone, that my wrath may be kindled against them, and that I may destroy them," Exod. xxxii. 10. But, at the earnest prayer of Moses, “the Lord was appeased from doing the evil wbich he had spoken against his people,” verse 14. ; yet, notwithstanding, “ there were slain that day about three and twenty thousand men,” verse 28, in punishment of this sin. After this, Moses again had recourse to prayer, that God might forgive them this trespass,"