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not wash, may lift up pure hands in prayer; but if his soul be unclean, no water, no ceremony will wash him pure without repentance:
O nimium faciles qui tristia crimina cædis
Tolli fluminea posse putatis aqua. It had been well if in all ages this had been considered, and particularly in the matter of marriage: for when single life was preferred before the married for the accidental advantages to piety (especially in times of persecution), which might be enjoyed there rather than here, some from thence extended their declamation further, and drawing in all the auxiliaries from the old law, began to prefer single life before marriage, as being a state of greater purity; and then, by little, they went on thinking marriage to be less pure, till
, at last they believed it to be a state of carnality; and with the persuasions of men, effected by such discourses, were also mingled the discourses of heretics, who directly condemned marriage, and that which descended from this mixture of doctrines, some false, and the others not true, was a less honourable opinion of that holy institution on which God founded the first blessing of mankind ; and which Christ hath consecrated into a mystery, and the Holy Spirit hath sanctified by the word of God and prayer, and which is the seminary of the Church, and that nursery from whence the kingdom of heaven is peopled. But if marriage be lawful, then he that lives in that state as he should, contracts no impurities, but is capable of any holy ministry, and receptive of any sacrament, and fit for any employment, and capable of any office, and worthy of any dignity. Let them who have reason and experience to verify their affirmative, speak all the great things of single life that can be said of it, and they may say much; for the advantages are many which are in a single life, and in a private state, and an unactive condition, and a small fortune, and retirement; but then, although every one of these hath some, yet a public state, and an active life, and a full fortune, and public offices, and a married life, have also advantages of their own, and blessings and virtues appropriate; and in all God may
be equally served, according as the men are, and the advantages neglected or improved. But that which I insist upon is,
that to be rich is no sin, and to be a public person is no crime, and to be married is no impurity : and, therefore, to suspect a disproportion between this state and spiritual actions or offices, is a jealousy whose parent is heresy, and pride and interest are its nurses. Fornication is uncleanness, and concubinate and voluntary pollutions, and unnatural lusts, are uncleanness, and make us unworthy to approach either to the altar or to the rails; but marriage, that fills heaven, makes no man unfit for churches or holy offices.
7. Upon this account I am also to take away those scruples which have been thrown into men's consciences by some indiscreet persons, concerning involuntary pollutions; concerning which we find many absurd stories of friars, and of pretended temptations and spites of the devil to hinder them from receiving the holy sacrament, by procuring such accidents to them before the solemnity: which persuasion was wholly upon this account, that the spirit could be polluted by something that is without; and that the accidents of the body could defile the soul, and this and the like were the accidents that could do it. In which cases it is without all peradventure true, that if the soul consented not before or after, neither nature nor nature's enemy are to be taken into the accounts of just dispositions or indispositions to spiritual ministries; if we serve God with our whole mind and with all our heart, and do what we can that is good, and avoid all evil that we can avoid, we cannot be prejudiced by what we cannot avoid.
8. (4.) Although the spirituality of the Gospel excludes all shadows of ceremonies, and all bodily rites, from being of the substance of religion; yet this spirituality does not exclude the ministry and service of the body; for the worship of the body may also be spiritual : to worship God with our bodies is royong rárgeia, a reasonable," and therefore a ' spiritual worship.' Thus when the eyes are lift up in prayer, when the bowels yearn with pity, when the hands are extended to fill the poor man's basket, the body serves the spirit, and the spirit serves God, and all is a spiritual religion. But because a bodily religion, such as was that of the ws, cannot be a spiritual religion, such as must be that of the
h Rom. xii, 1.
Christians, and yet the service of the body is also a part of the ministry of the Spirit; the rule which can determine our conscience in the instances of this article, is this:
Whatsoever is an elicit or imperate Act of Virtue, whether it
be acted by the Soul or by the Body, is un Act of Spiritual Religion.
For in virtues, there is a body and a soul; and all transient actions, or ad extra,' have something of materiality in them, which must be ministered to by the body. For therefore our blessed Lord hath commanded mortification of our bodies, that our bodies may become spiritual; and as acts of understanding are ministered to by material phantasms, so are the most spiritual acts of virtue, the love and the fear of God, by sad spectacles, and gracious accidents, by feeling good and suffering evil; and as the actions of discerning sensitive objects are direct products of the soul, but yet have for every one of the faculties a proper organ in the body, so have the virtues of a Christian ; they are acts and habits of a sanctified soul, but to some the hand does co-operate, to some the eyes, and to some all the body, that as the graces of the soul are commencements and dispositions to glory, so these spiritual ministries of the body may nourish it, and dispose the body to its perfect spirituality in the resurrection of the just.
8. But, then, these ministries of the body are then only to be adjudged a spiritual service, when the soul and the body make but one entire agent, just as when the soul sees by the eye, we say the eye sees; because that seeing is the action or passion of the soul, which uses that organ in her operation: so when the act of the body and soul is but one and the same product of religion, it is the soul and the spirit which is the principal agent, and from thence the action must be denominated to be spiritual. But as when the
eye is made to twinkle and look sprightfully, or amorously, or is proposed as a piece of beauty, and does something of its own, but no natural and proper ministry of the soul, it is the instrument of vice or vanity, and not of the soul: so it is in the services of the body; if the body of our services be not the product of the soul, and the imperate act of some virtue, or the proper specific act of some grace, it can never be a
part of the religion. St. Pauli hath given us perfect measures in this inquiry, “ To give our body to be burned, to give all our goods to the poor, to have all faith,” are but the bodies and outsides or material parts of our religion, and are good for nothing : but when all these proceed from charity, that is, from a willing, a loving spirit, from a heart that is right to God, that is desirous to please him,—then faith justifies, and giving gifts to the poor is true alms, and giving our bodies to the fire is a holy martyrdom : and, in this sense, dressing bodies to their burial is an act of a spiritual grace; to adorn places of prayer, to build them and fit them for the service of God, is an act of spiritual religion,-to minister to the poor, to dress children, to make them clean, to teach them their catechisms, though bodily ministries, are yet actions of the spiritual religion of a Christian. But from this, those things only are excluded, which either are not the direct productions of a sanctified soul, or proper and prudent ministries to some virtue.
9. (5.) The spirituality of the laws of Jesus Christ have yet one effect more: in all contracts or interfering of laws, or senses of the laws, the spiritual sense is to be preferred, the spiritual action is to be chosen. By which it is not meant, that ever there can be a dispute between the act of the mind and an act of the body: because as no man, and no thing, can hinder the soul from willing or understanding, from loving or hating, from fearing or slighting, from valuing or neglecting, its proper object : so the act of the body which is to minister to the soul, cannot stand in contradiction to that to which, in the very nature of the thing, it is subordinate. . But the meaning is, when laws are to be expounded, that sense is to be chosen which more relates to an act of grace than that which is nothing but an external ministry. Thus, if the question be between the beautifying of a chapel, or the rescuing of the poor from famine, although that might be an act of spiritual religion, when religion requires that specification of an act; yet because that hath less of the spirit in it than the other, and is not required in the presence of the other, this is to be adjudged the more spiritual, because it is the more holy. If the question be
i 1 Cor. xiii.
between keeping of a holyday, or doing charitable reliefs to necessitous people, Christ, in the instance of the Sabbath hath taught us to prefer charity before external ministries, obedience before sacrifice, mercy before oblations; and did not only make way for the taking off all mere bodily rites, but also for the expounding his own laws to the more spiritual sense, that is, to the compliance with the most excellent and useful grace. So also for the exposition of laws expressed by material significations : as cutting off the hand, plucking out the right eye, eating the flesh of Christ, drinking his blood,—the flesh, that is, carnal commentaries, profit nothing: but these words are spirit and life; that is, they are neither to be understood nor practised in the material, but spiritual sense.
10. But as to the general conduct of the conscience in all these inquiries, the rule is this :- All acts of virtue are to be preferred before the instruments of it; and that which exercises it before that which signifies it; and the inward acts before the outward. Thus when fasting is appointed in order to prayer, and yet both cannot be together (for that by fasting we are disabled to pray), there it is, that prayer must be preferred and fasting let alone. If corporal austerities be undertaken for mortification of a rebellious body ; if they hinder the body in the direct ministries to the soul in other cases, and become uncharitable, charity is to take place, and the austerities may be supplied by something else. Now this rule hath in it no exception nor variety but this: that it is to be understood in instances of corporal and spiritual acts, that are of a disparate nature, and but only accidentally subordinate, as fasting to prayer, keeping holydays for the special ministries of religion, lyings upon the ground to chastity, and the like: but in the actions internal, which are proper exercises of a virtue,—the external, which is directly, naturally, or by institution, subordinate to the internal, must never be omitted upon pretence of preferring the internal, because they never can contradict one another ; as it never can be disputed whether the soul or the
shall see ; for the soul sees by the eye, and cannot see without it; and it may so happen in the external acts of virtue ministering to the internal; as, in some cases, a man is not charitable, unless he extends his hand to the poor, or lifts him out of a