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one in philosophy, and both in divinity, and are a huge folly in their pretence, and infinite danger if they are believed; being a certain destruction of the necessity of holy living when men dare trust them, and live at the rate of such doctrine. The secret of these is soon disco vered: for by such means, though a holy life be not necessary, yet a priest is; as if God did not appoint the priest to minister to holy living, but to excuse it, so making the holy calling not only to live upon the sins of the people, but upon their ruin, and the advantages of their function to spring from their eternal dangers. It is an evil craft to serve a temporal end upon the death of souls, that is an interest not to be handled but with nobleness and ingenuity, fair and caution, dili fear gence and prudence, with great skill and great honesty, with reverence, with trembling, and severity: a soul is worth all that: and the need we have requires all that: and therefore those doctrines that go less than all this are not friendly because they are not safe.
I know no other difference in the visitation and treating of sick persons, than what depends upon the article of late repentance: for all churches agree in the same essential propositions, and assist the sick by the same internal ministeries. As for external, I mean unction, used in the church of Rome, since it is used when the man is above half dead, when he can exercise no act of understanding, it must needs be nothing: for no raional man can think that any ceremony can make a spiritual change, without a spiritual act of him that is to be changed; nor work by way of nature, or by charm, but morally, and after the manner of reasonable creatures: and therefore I do not think that ministry at all
fit to be reckoned among the advantages of sick persons. The fathers of the council of Trent first disputed, and after this manner at last agreed, that extreme unction was instituted by Christ. But afterwards, being admonished by one of their theologues, that the apostles ministered unction to infirm people before they were priests, (the priestly order according to their doctrine, being collated in the institution of the last supper) for fear that it should be thought that this unction might be administered by him that was no priest, they blotted out the word [instituted] and put in its stead [insinuated] this sacrament, and that it was published by St. James. So it is in their doctrine; and yet, in their anathematisms, they eurse all them that shall deny it to have been [instituted] by Christ. I shall lay no more prejudice against it, or the weak arts of them that maintain it, but add this only, that there being but two places of scripture pretended for this ceremony, some chief men of their own side have proclaimed these two invalid as to the institution of it: for Suarez says, that the unction used by the apostles in St. Mark vi. 13. is not the same with what is used in the church of Rome, and that it cannot be plainly gathered from the epistle of St. James, Cajetan affirms, and that it did belong to the miraculous gift of healing-not to a sacrament. The sick man's exercise of grace formerly acquired, his perfecting repentance begun in the days of health, the prayers and counsels of the holy man that ministers, the giving the holy sacrament, the ministry and assistance of angels, and the mercies of God, the peace of conscience, and the peace of the church, are all the assistances and preparatives that can help to dress his lamp. But if a man
shall go to buy oil when the bridegroom comes, if his lamp be not first furnished, and then trimmed, that in this life, this upon the death-bed, his station shall be without-doors, his portion with unbelievers, and the unction of the dying man shall no more strengthen his soul than it cures his body, and the prayers for him after his death shall be of the same force as if they should pray that he should return to life the next day, and live as long as Lazarus in his return. But I consider, that it is not well that men should pretend any thing will do a man good when he dies; and yet the same ministeries and ten times more assistances are found for forty or fifty years together to be ineffectual. Can extreme unction at last cure what the holy sacrament of the Eucharist all his life-time could not do? Can prayers for a dead man do him more good than when he was alive? If all his days the man belonged to death and the dominion of sin, and from thence could not be recovered by sermons, and counsels, and perpetual precepts, and frequent sacraments, by confessions and absolutions, by prayers and advocations, by external ministeries and internal acts, it is but too certain that his lamp cannot then be furnished: his extreme unction is only then of use when it is made of the oil that burned in his lamp all the days of his expectation and waiting for the coming of the bridegroom.
Neither can any supply be made in this case by their practice of praying for the dead; though they pretend for this the fairest precedents of the church and of the whole world. The Heathens say they did it, and the Jews did it, and the Christians did it: some were baptized for the dead in the days of the apostles, and
very many were communicated for the dead for so many ages after. Tis true they were so, and did so: the Heathens prayed for an easy grave and a perpetual spring, that saffron would rise from their beds of grass. The Jews prayed that the souls of their dead might be in the garden of Eden, that they might have their part in Paradise, and in the world to come; and that they might hear the peace of the fathers of their generation, sleeping in Hebron. And the Christians prayed for a joyful resurrection, for mercy at the day of judgment, for hastening of the coming of Christ, and the kingdom of God: and they named all sorts of persons in their prayers-all, I mean, but wicked persons-all but them that lived evil lives; they named apostles, saints, and martyrs. And all this is so nothing to their purpose, or so much against it, that the prayers for the dead used in the church of Rome are most plainly condemned, because they are against the doctrines and practices of all the world, in other forms, to other purposes, relying upon distinct doctrine, until new opinions began to rise about St. Augustin's time, and changed the face of the proposition. Concerning prayer for the dead, the church hath received no.commandment from the Lord; and therefore concerning it we can have no rules nor proportions, but from those imperfect revelations of the state of departed souls, and the measures of charity, which can relate only to the imperfect of their present condition, and the terrors of the day of judgment: but to think that any suppletory to an evil life can be taken from such devotions after the sinners are dead, may encourage a bad man to sin, but cannot relieve him when he hath.
But of all things in the world, methinks men should be most careful not to abuse dying people; not only because their condition is pitiable, but because they shall soon be discovered, and in the secret regions of souls there shall be an evil report concerning those men who have deceived them: and if we believe we shall go to that place where such reports are made, we may fear the shame and the amazement of being ac counted impostors in the presence of angels, and all the wise and holy men of the world. To be erring and ins nocent is hugely pitiable, and incident to mortality; that we cannot help: but to deceive or to destroy so great an interest as is that of a soul, or to lessen its advantages, by giving it trifling and false confidences, is injurious and intolerable. And therefore it were very well if all the churches of the world would be extremely curious concerning their offices and ministries of the visitation of the sick: that their ministers they send be holy and prudent; that their instructions be severe and safe; that their sentences be merciful and reasonable; that their offices be sufficient and devout; that their attendances be frequent and long; that their deputations be special and peculiar; that the doctrines upon which they ground their offices be true, material, and holy: that their ceremonies be few, and their advices wary; that their separation be full of caution, their judgments not remiss, their remissions not loose and dissolute, and that the whole ministration be made by persons of experience and charity. For it is a sad thing to see our dead go out of our hands: they live incuriously, and die without regard; and the last scene of their life, which should be dressed with all