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acknowledged as a destroyer of good life : and though I
know no artifices of escape from this, that are made use of,
yet if there were, we are not to consider what is talked
amongst schoolmen, to excuse the objection, and to main-
tain the faction, but what is really and materially the event
of it, as it is every day observed in the manners of men.

14. The other thing which I was to say is this, that this
doctrine of the Roman schools, which is the common sen-
tence of them all, cannot be directly confuted, unless we
fall upon this proposition, ' That a man is positively and
directly bound to repent of his sin, as soon as ever he hath
committed it.'

15. For if there be not something in the nature of sin,
that must not be retained at all ; if there be not much in the
anger of God, that must not be endured at all; if there be
not obligations to the service of God, that must not be put
off at all ; if there be not great regards concerning the love
of God, without which we must not live at all ; and lastly,
if there be not infinite dangers in our life, and that every
putting our repentance off exposes it to the inexcusable dan-
ger of never having it done at all ; then it must follow, that
repentance obliges no otherwise than alms, or saying our
prayers, it is to be done in its own proper season ; and the
consequent of that will be, that so it be done at all, we are



180 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

safe enough if it be done at any time ; and if you can defer
it till to-morrow, you may also put it off till the next day,
and so until you die. And there is no avoiding it, as is evi-
dent to all rational and considering persons : for to-morrow
and to-day are both alike as to the affirmative command ;
and by God's law we are not bound to it till the day of our
death, if we be not bound to it every day. We must there-
fore choose our proposition. Does God give us leave, if we
have sinned, to dwell in it, to forget our danger, to neglect
the wound that putrefies? Is he pleased that we, for whom
he hath given his Son, we, whom he hath adopted into his
family and made members of Christ, we, to whom he per-
petually gives his grace, whom he invites by his promises,
and calls by his preachers every day, and affrights by his
threatenings every hour, and incites by his Spirit, and makes
restless by the daily emotions of an unquiet conscience ;
that we, whom he every day obliges, and no day neglects, to
do something towards our amendment and salvation ; is he,
I say, pleased, that we should, in despite or contempt of all
this, abide in his displeasure, and dwell in that state of evil
things, that if, on any hour of so many days, and Aveeks, and
months, and years, we chance to die, we die again and die for
ever? Is this likely? Does God so little value the services
of our life, the vigour of our youth, the wisdom of our age,
the activity of our health, the employment of our faculties,
the excellence of our dwelling with him ? Does he so little
estimate the growth in grace, and the repetition of holy acts,
the strength of our habits, and the firmness of our love, that
he will be satisfied with an accidental repentance, a repent-
ance that comes by chance, and is certain in nothing but that
it certainly comes too late? But if we may not defer our re-
pentance to the last, then we must not defer it at all, we must
not put it off one day : for if one, than twenty, if twenty,
then twenty thousand ; there is no reason against one, but
what is against all: but if we may not stay a thousand
days, then not one hour ; and that is the thing I shall now
contend for.

16. (1.) I remember an odd argument used by Reginaldus/
to prove that a man is not bound to be contrite for his sins
as soon as he remembers them ; " because (says he) if he

f Ubi supra, sect. iii.



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 181

were, then it were but ill provided by God and the Church,
that preachers should call upon men to confess their sins, to
be sorrowful for them, and utterly to leave them : for there is
no question but such discourses will often remind us of our
sins ; and if we were then tied to repent, and did sin by not
repenting, then such preachings would be the occasion of
many sins, and the law would be an intolerable command-
ment, and Christ's yoke not to be endured ; because men do
not find it so easy to repent upon every notice:" so he.
But this consideration, turned with the right end forwards,
is an excellent argument to enforce the duty, which I am now
pressing of, a present actual repentance. For does God send
preachers who every day call upon us to repent, and does
not God intend we should repent on that day he calls to do
it? Do the prophets and preachers of righteousness bid us
repent next year ? Have they commission to say, ' It were well
and convenient if you would repent to-day; but you do not
sin if you stay till next year, or till you are old, or till you
die?' To what purpose then do they preach? Does not God
require our obedience ? Do we not sin if the preachers say
well and right, and we do it not? Is there any one minute,
any one day, in which we may innocently stay from the ser-
vice of God ? Let us think of that. Every day on which a
sinner defers his repentance, on that day he refuses to be
God's servant : and if God does command his service every
day, then he every day sins on which he refuses. For unless
God gives him leave to stay away, his very staying away is
as much a sin as his going away, that is, his not repenting is
a new sin.

17. And if by way of objection it be inquired, ' By what
measures or rules of multiplication shall such sins be num-
bered ? whether by every day, and why not by every night,
or why not by every hour, or every half-hour?' I answer,
that the question is captious and of no real use, but to serve
instead of a temptation. But the answer is this; 1. That the
sin of not repenting increases by intension of degrees, as the
perpetuity of an act of hatred against God. He that con-
tinues a whole day in such actual hostility and defiance, in-
creases his sin perpetually, not by the measures of wine and
oil, or the strokes of the clock, but by spiritual and inten-
tional measures; he still more and more provokes God, and



182 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

in the eternal scrutiny God will fit him with numbers and
measures of a proportionable judgment. 2. The sin of not
repenting is also multiplied by extension ; for every time a
man does positively refuse to repent, every time a man is
called upon or thinks of his duty and will not do it, every
such negative is a new sin, and a multiplication of his scores :
and it may happen that, every day, that may become twenty
sins, and in a short time rise to an intolerable height.

18. (2.) He that remembers he hath committed a sin,
either remembers it with joy or with displeasure. If with
displeasure, it is an act of repentance; if with joy, it is a
new sin ; or if it be with neither, the man does not consider
at all. But if it abides there, the sin will be apt to repeat its
own pleasures to the memory, to act them in the fancy, and
so endear them to the heart : and it is certain that all active
considerations declare on one side or other, either for the
sin or against it; and the devil is not so backward at tempt-
ing, and the pleasure of sin is not so inactive, but if ever it
be thought upon without sorrow, it cannot easily be thought
upon without some actual or potential delight: and there-
fore he that repents not, does sin anew. He that hath stolen
is bound presently to restore if he can, and when it is in our
hand it must also be in our heart to restore, and the evil
must not be suffered so much as for an hour to dwell upon
the injured person: so it is in the restitution of our hearts
and our affections to God; there is an injustice done to God
all the way by our detaining of his rights, the injury is upon
him, he complains that we will not come in, and is delighted
if we come speedily. Restitution therefore must be made
presently; and for the satisfaction and amends for the wrong
besides, God may longer expect, even till the day of its pro-
per period.

19. (3.) Does not God, every day, send something of his
grace upon us? Does he not always knock at the door of
our hearts, as long as the day of salvation lasts ? Does not
he send his Spirit to invite, his arguments to persuade, and
his mercies to endear us? Would he have anything of this
lost? Is it not a sin once to resist the Holy Spirit? And he
that remembers his sin, and knows it is an offence against
God, and yet does not repent at that thought and that know-
ledge, does not he resist the Holy Spirit of God, so moving,



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 183

so acting, so insinuating? Is not every good sermon a part
of the grace of God? "Qui monet, quasi adjuvat," says the
comedy; 8 " He that counsels you, helps you :" and can it be
imagined that he that resists the grace of God twenty years,
is not a greater villain than he that stood against it but
twenty months, and so on to twenty days, and twenty hours?
" Peccatorem tanto sequitur districtior sententia, quanto
peccanti ei rnagna est patientia prorqgata: et Divina seve-
ritas eo iniquum acrius punit, quo diutius pertulit," saith St.
Gregory: "The longer God hath expected our repentance,
the more angry he is if we do not repent;" now God's
anger would not increase if our sin did not. But I consider,
must not a man repent of his resisting God's grace, of his
refusing to hear, of his not attending, of his neglecting, the
means of salvation ? And why all this, but that every delay
is a quenching of the light of God's Spirit, and every such
quenching cannot be innocent? And what can be expounded
to be a contempt of God, if this be not; that when God, by
his preventing, his exciting, his encouraging, his assisting
grace, invites us to repentance, we nevertheless refuse to
mourn for our sins and to repent? This is the very argu-
ment which the Spirit of God himself' 1 uses, and therefore is
not capable of reproof or confutation. " Because I have
called and ye refused, 1 have stretched out my hand and no
man regarded: but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and
would none of my reproof; I will also laugh at your cala-
mity, and mock when your fear cometh." Is not, therefore,
every call to be regarded? and consequently is not every
refusing criminal ? and does not God call every day ? Put
these things together, and the natural consequent of them is
this, that he who sins and does not repent speedily, does at
least sin twice, and every day of delay is a further provo-
cation of the wrath of God. To this purpose are those ex-
cellent words of St. Paul, 1 " Despisest thou the riches of his
goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing
that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance ? " That
is, 'every action of God's loving-kindness and forbearance
of thee is an argument for, and an exhortation to, repent-
ance:' and the not making use of it is called by the apostle

e Plautus, Curculio. act. iii. 89. Scbmieder, p. 207.
h Prov. i. 24. ' Rom. ii. 4.



184 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

" a despising of his goodness;" and the not repenting is, on
every day of delay, " a treasuring up of wrath."

Ai$a yag In xttKornn /Sfarai Ka.rayr,ocifKavffi,

" Men wax old and grow gray in their iniquity," while they
think every day too short for their sin, and too soon for their
repentance. But (if I may have leave to complain) it is a sad
thing to see a man who is well instructed in religion, able to
give counsel to others, wise enough to conduct the affairs of
his family, sober in his resolution concerning the things of
this world, to see such a person come to church every fes-
tival, and hear the perpetual sermons of the Gospel, the
clamours of God's Holy Spirit, the continual noise of Aaron's
bells ringing in his ears ; a man that knows the danger of a
sinner if he dies without pardon, that the wrath of God cannot
be endured, and yet that without a timely and sufficient re-
pentance it cannot be avoided ; to see such a man day after
day sin against God, enter into all temptations, and fall under
every one, and never think of his repentance, but unalterably
resolve to venture for it, and for the acceptance of it at last:
for it is a venture whether he shall repent ; and if he does, it
is yet a greater venture whether that repentance shall be
accepted, because without all peradventure in that case it can
never be perfected. But the evil of this will further appear
in the next argument.

20. (4.) He that does not repent presently, as soon as he
remembers and considers that he hath sinned, does certainly
sin in that very procrastination, because he certainly exposes
himself to a certain and unavoidable danger of committing
other and new sins. And therefore I cannot but wonder at
the assertors of the opposite doctrine, who observe this dan-
ger, and signify it publicly, and yet condemn such persons
of imprudence only, but not of sin. The words of Reginal-
dus, b and according to the sense of Navarre, are these; "Ad
quod tamen tempos pcenitentiam differre esse salutem animae
in magnum discrimen adducere patet per illud quod ex D.
Augustino refertur in cap. Siquis: et cap. finali de Preniten.
dist. 7. dubiam esse salutem illorum quos non ante sed post
aegritudinem pcenitet. Ratio vero esse potest quod in eo cer-
natur interpretativus contemptus Dei, qui saepius per gratias

b Lib. iv. Prax. Fori Pceuit. c. 2, sect. 4, n. 23.



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 185

praevenientes illos excitat ac movet ad resipiscentiam, agen-
damque poenitentiam, conterendumve de suis peccatis : ni-
hilominus non curant atque negligunt ; He that defers his
repentance brings his soul into manifest and great danger,
according to the doctrine of St. Austin ; for it is an interpret-
ative contempt of God, who often excites them by his pre-
venting graces, to repent and do penance, and to be contrite
for their sins, but they neglect it and care not." Now since
thus much is observed and acknowledged, it is a strange vio-
lence to reason and to religion, that it should not also be con-
fessed to be the design and intention of God, his will and
pleasure, the purpose of his grace, and the economy of hea-
ven, the work of his Spirit, and the meaning and interpret-
ation of his commandment, that we should repent presently.
For when the question is concerning the sense and limit o
an indefinite commandment, what can be a better comment-
ary to the law than the-actions of God himself? for he under-
stands his own meaning best ; and certainly by these things
he hath very competently and sufficiently declared it.

21 . If it be objected that these actions of the Divine grace
are not sufficient to declare it to be a sin not to do it, when-
ever the grace of God prompts us to repent, because we find
that the Spirit of God does use rare arts to invite us forward
to such degrees of perfection and excellence, to which who-
ever arrives shall be greatly rewarded, but if a man falls short,
he does not sin ; I reply, that the case is not the same in the
matter of counsel, and in the matter of a commandment :
for when the question is concerning the sense and significa-
tion, the definition and limit, of that which is acknowledged
to be a commandment, the actions of the Divine grace signi-
fying God's pleasure and meaning, do wholly relate to the
commandment : when the thing is only matter of counsel,
then the actions of the Divine grace relate to that, and are to
be expounded accordingly. But thus they are alike ; that as
God, by his arguments and inducements, his assistances and
aids, declares, that to do the thing he counsels would be
very pleasing to him ; so they declare that what he commands
is to be done, that he intends the commandment then to bind,
that whenever the one is good, the other is necessary. But
his pleasure which he signifies concerning a counsel, does
not mean like his pleasure concerning a commandment ; but



186 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

every thing according to the nature of the subject-matter: for
God having left the one under choice, and bound the other
by a law, whatever signification of the mind of God comes
after this, must be relative to what he hath before established,
and does nol now alter, but only expound now what his mean-
ing was before. Since, therefore, the question here is, to
what precise time we are obliged in the precept of repent-
ance, nothing is more reasonable than to conclude, that then
God intended we should keep the precept, when he enables
us, and exhorts and calls upon us, to do it, which because he
by his grace and Holy Spirit does every day, this declara-
tion of God is the best commentary upon his commandment.

22. But to return to the first purpose of this argument.
He that knows he hath sinned, and will not kill it by repent-
ance, leaves the affections to sin remaining ; an aptness to be
tempted, a relation to the devil, a captivity to lust, and an
impotence under his passion. For if sin be a cursed serpent,
if it leaves any venom upon the spirit of the man, if by com-
mitting sin we are more apt to commit it still, he that hath
sinned, and when he remembers it does not repent, keeps
himself in the dispositions to sin, he dwells in the temptation
and the neighbourhood : and because every thing that invites
and directly tends to sin is symbolical and of the same nature,
the retaining of that very aptness by not repenting the old,
must needs be a progression and going on in sin, and there-
fore a new sin by interpretation.

23. And if we consider but the sad circumstances of those
persons who wax old in carelessness and contempt of duty,
how dead their spirit is, how every day they grow more un-
willing to repent, how habitual their persuasions are in the
behalf of sin, how accidentally hard they grow, and by per-
ceiving so long an impunity, and that things remain as they
were twenty years ago, and that though they sinned then, yet
they are well still, and all the affrightments of the preachers'
sermons are but loud noises and harmless thunder, they grow
confident and still more careless ; we shall find that their
spirit is in delusion, and is continually, and still further, dis-
tant from the friendship of God. So sometimes we see a
healthful body, by the disorders of one intemperate meeting,
fallen into the beginnings of a sickness. The man, it may be,
does so no more; but feeling his sickness tolerable, and under



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 187

the command of reason, he refuses to take physic, and to
throw out the evil principle which begins to ferment in the
disordered body : but nature being disturbed and lessened in
her proper vigour, goes on in her usual methods as well as
she can ; she goes forward, but she carries a load, which in
a long progression grows intolerable, not by its own weight,
but by the diminution of nature's strengths. But when the
evil is grown great, the physician is called for : who, espying
the evil state of things, is forced to reply, 'It is now very late,
for nature is weak and the disease is strong. I shall do what
art can minister, but I fear that nature is incapable of relief/
So it is in the soul ; the very deferring of taking physic is
an increasing of the disease. For every sin is ' ulcus,'
tXxos aci roS tXxuv, it is an * ulcer/ and * draws' all the
humours thither for its increase and nourishment ; and that
which is sore, will swell, and all the waters will run to the
hole in the bank, and every finger to the wound that smarts,
and every eye to the thing we fear ; and therefore it hath
been observed by the wise guides of souls, that those persons
who defer their repentance to their old age, their repentance
comes off the harder, their penitential actions are the worse,
their zeal colder, their care more indifferent, their religion
less, their fears are trifling, their love stark and cold, their
confessions formal and imperfect, every thing amiss, nothing
right : but no repentance can be that which God intends,
unless it begins betimes.

Vidi ego, quod fuerat primo sanabile, vulnus
Dilatum longs damna tulisse morae. c

Any one disease if let alone, though there be no new sickness
supervening, grows mortal by mere delay, and incurable for
want of timely remedy.

24. (5.) Let us consider upon what account any man can
defer his repentance and yet be innocent. It must either be
because he loves his sin, or because he loves not God : be-
cause he either despises the Divine justice, or presumes upon
his mercy ; because he hath evil principles, or because he
will not obey those which are good. It is positive impeni-
tence, or it is privative ; it is hardness of heart, or it is effemi-
nacy of life ; it is want of fear, or want of love : and whatso-

c Ovid. Rem. Amor. 101. Jlitscherl. vol. i. p. 284.



188 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

ever can come from any of these causes or beginnings, can
never be innocent. And therefore St. Ambrose's question
was a good caution and a severe reproof: " Quid enim est
quod differas ? an ut plura peccata committas? Why do
you defer your repentance? is it because you would commit
more sins ?" That is more likely.

Sed, quia delectat Veneris decerpere flores,
Dicimus assidue, ' Cras quoque fiet idem.'

Interea tacitae serpunt in viscera flamrnae ;
Et mala radices altius arbor agit. d

He that says he will not repent of his lust to-day, says, in
effect, that he means to act it again to-morrow ; for why
else should he put his repentance further off?

Quid juvat in longum causas producere morbi ?
Cur dubium ezpectat eras hodierna salus 1

If you really intend your cure, it is better to begin to-day
than to-morrow : and why should any man desire to be sick
one day longer ? Whatever can be in it, it is a disease and a
very sickness of itself. There can be no good excuse pre-
tended for it. For if carelessness, if the neglect of holy things,
can ruin us, as certainly a man may die with hunger as surely
as by gluttony, by not eating at all as well as by eating too
much, by omission as well as by commission, it will follow that
the not repenting is fatal and damnable, because every delay
is a not-repenting till that delay be gone.

25. (G.) The Scripture does every where call upon us for
speedy repentance. For God that commands us to pray every
day, consequently commands us to repent every day. This
argument ought to prevail even upon the adversaries' ac-
count: for Navarre confesses, 6 " Extra tempus articuli mor-
tis, dantur casus, in quibus peccator conteri tenetur per aliud,
sive ex vi alicujus pnecepti quod peccator ipse transgreditur,
aliquid agens non contritus." When there is any distinct
precept obliging a duty which cannot be done by him that
is not penitent, he that directly obliges to that other duty,
does indirectly and consequently at that very time oblige to
repentance. Thus when the Church obliges a priest to con-
secrate and to communicate, because he who does so without

d Lib. i. de Remed. Amoris. 103. Apud Reginal. ubi supra.



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 189

repentance commits a deadly sin, the Church accidentally
ties him at that time to repent. From these premises I as-
sume, that since God obliges us every day to pray, he also
obliges us to do that without which we cannot pray as God
intends we should ; that is, to throw away all our affection
to sin, to repent of it and to forsake it. For " the prayer
of a wicked man is an abomination to the Lord," said Solo-
mon ; and, " We know that God heareth not sinners," said
he in the Gospel ; that is, those who having sinned have not
yet repented,

Infelix infelicior ut sit,

being unhappy in their hasty sin, but more unhappy in their
slow repentance : but it is the prayer of the repenting man
which God will hear; and therefore our blessed Saviour
commanding us to pray, and teaching us ho\v, enjoins us,
that we, every day, pray for the forgiveness of our tres-
passes ; as for our daily bread, so for our daily pardon :
" Panern nostrum da nobis hodie, Give us this day our
proportion of bread ;" and therefore also * This day give us
pardon ;' for we must return ' to-day :' ' hodie' for ' bread/
and ' hodie,' for ' forgiveness' and amendment. So the
psalmist, and so the apostle in his words, " To-day hear his
voice, and harden not your hearts ;" not only expressly com-
manding us not to defer our repentance one day, but plainly
enough affirming, that every such delay is an act of hardness



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