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A46795 The blind obedience of an humble penitent the best cure for scruples Jenks, Sylvester, 1656?-1714. 1698 (1698) Wing J629; ESTC R26825 57,722 231

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THE BLIND OBEDIENCE OF AN HUMBLE PENITENT THE Best Cure for Scruples AN. DOM. M.DC.XCVIII Imprimatur D. A. 19. A. 1698. A. H. L. C. TO THE READER SCrupulosity is a Disease of the Mind which many people have more or less of although few believe it fewer are willing to own it The greatest part the wisest are commonly ashamed of it But yet there are some the fewer the better who think it a fine thing to be longer than ordinary in consulting in preparing confessing The more they out-do their neighbours in these matters the more they are taken notice of for being singular so much more they admire themselves for being skillfull carefull exact They seem to affect these tedious tormenting Scrupulosities as if they thought them to be the Modish Distemper of the Saints And if one may judge by appearances they are like a certain Lady who having entertain'd the company with a long history of her Vapours could not endure to hear a Gentlewoman inferiour to her self begin to complain of the same indisposition Marry come up says her Ladyship we shall have every body one of these days take upon them to be troubled with Vapours if such as you pretend to it T is hard to determine which is greater the Folly or the Mischief of Scrupulosity Take it one way there is no subject more serious take it the other there is nothing more ridiculous My chief design is to prevent the Mischief of it without sparing the Folly when it happens to lie in my way And truly when people are so fond of their Scruples I am apt to think it is not amiss to let them see how silly the humour is There is always a secret Pride lies lurking in the bottom when they are so stiff in their opinion and a little sense of shame is in some measure a remedy for it If one always treat these follies with respect gravity it will onely serve to confirm them in a vain belief that their mistakes are wise ones And this being wise in their own conceits is the chief part of their Disease In fine well or ill I have now done Scribling And upon second thoughts am in some admiration how I ever prevail'd with my self to begin But being once enter'd and having already publish'd * A Contrite Humble Heart Three Sermons upon the Sacrament A Letter concerning the Council of Trent c. some small Pieces I was not willing to leave off till I had made a present of this little Treatise to my Friends to whom if it prove acceptable usefull I shall not think my labour lost And for the rest the care is taken Mean time I keep my name to my self And my reason is because I love a quiet life I ever lookt upon it as the greatest blessing which a bad World can afford and am perswaded that being Private is the easiest securest way of being Quiet Besides I see no good there is in being talkt of either well or ill The one is good for nothing but to make a man Vain the other is as apt to make him Vext and All to no purpose ERRATA Page 40. line 23. dele we page 84. line 20. dele the page 90. line 21. read get page 92. line 1. read harmony page 135. line 15. read they page 167. line 1. dele they These such other over-sights of the Press the Reader I hope will easily pardon THE CONTENTS CHAP. I. THe Character of Blind Obedience of Scrupulosity which is humble and submissive pag. 1. CHAP. II. The true Causes of proud willfull Scrupulosity 7 CHAP. III. The extravagant Effects of Scrupulosity when it is proud willfull 10 § 1. The extravagancy of their Curiosity 12 § 2. The extravagancy of their Examens 20 § 3. The extravagancy of their Fears 25 CHAP. IV. The pernicious Consequences of the same Scrupulosity 28 § 1. The difference betwixt Servile Fear Loving Confidence 31 § 2. The mischief of long Examens 36 § 3. Blind Obedience the best Remedy 44 CHAP. V. Nothing more unreasonable than a boundless Liberty of reasoning 47 CHAP. VI. The difference betwixt a Philosopher a Christian concerning the Submission of Humane Reason 56 CHAP. VII The different Sentiments of a Proud an Humble Penitent concerning Blind Obedience 60 CHAP. VIII A Scripture-Objection answer'd 69 CHAP. IX Pretences of Reason answer'd 75 CHAP. X. Pretences of Conscience consider'd 96 § 1. The two sorts of Practical Certainty explain'd 101 § 2. When we rely upon our Confessor's Authority our Certainty is Absolute 103 § 3. When we depend upon the Probability of our own Reason our Certainty is onely Conditional 118 § 4. Objections of pretended Conscience answer'd 138 CHAP. XI The Security of Blind Obedience proved by Scripture 153 CHAP. XII Maxims of S. BERNARD concerning Blind Obedience 169 MAX. I. We ought to look upon our Confessor as a Vicegerent of God without considering his faults 171 MAX. II. We ought to look upon him as our Judge without examining his reasons 184 APPROBATION I Have read this learned Treatise concerning Blind Obedience which I judge very usefull observed nothing in it but solid orthodox Dat. Lovanij 17. Aprilis 1698. FRANCIS MARTIN Doctor Royal Professor of Divinity in the University of Lovain THE BLIND OBEDIENCE OF AN HUMBLE PENITENT CHAP. I. The Character of Blind Obedience and of Scrupulosity which is humble submissive BLind Obedience is an ill name which the World has given to one of the best things in it I do not call it so because I think it is so but because the custom of speaking will have it so and many people will not understand me if I use another term for it However I shall endeavour to do it so much justice as to shew plainly in a familiar example that so good a thing does not deserve so bad a name Let us suppose two Travellers in the same way to the same home that their lives fortunes depend upon their coming timely thither The one goes slowly on oftentimes stands still to satisfie his curiosity either in looking back to take a prospect of the Country which he leaves behind him or else in studying whether the foot-way on the right hand or the left be better than the way he 's in Whilest he is thus amused with idle fancies time runs on the day is spent he is benighted before he is aware begins to repent when 't is too late His fellow-traveller considers that all these vain amusements are nothing to his purpose he is full of concern for the great affair he has in hand therefore he marches diligently on minds carefully the way before him never stops to look behind or gaze about him Will any body say this man is blind because he does not see backward or because he does not stare about him on the one side or the other All his business is to go forward he
sees the way before him as well as any man living he sees all that he has need to see and therefore whosoever says this man is blind must excuse me if I cannot believe it The Case of these two Travellers is dayly verified in scrupulous persons of which there are two sorts the one proud willfull the other humble submissive Those rely upon themselves these upon their Guide Those always are disturb'd with idle doubts fears which are not worth a serious thought These never trouble their heads with any thing but their chief business which is to march diligently on for fear of coming late they never stop to look backward for fear of having dropt something behind them they never stand still to observe the different paths on either side of the road they carefully observe the sure direction of their Guide and without disputing the matter with him are contented to follow wheresoêre he leads This is the true character of the Obedience I speak of It is always ready to march at first word of command it never pauses to gaze behind it or on either side it clearly sees the way which it is bid to take never perplexes it self with any doubts about it because it is self-evident there can be no other way for true Obedience What a spitefull thing it is to say that this Obedience is blind when it sees its way so clearly is so certain of it This humble submissive Scrupulosity is rather to be envied than be pitied To these there is no need of preaching Blind Obedience They are very well acquainted with it 't is their dayly practice perpetual comfort 't is by this they overcome their doubts fears and though they are not quite so easy as they would be yet they are contented resign'd Their Scrupulosity though sometimes painfull is always advantagious to them the experience of their weakness humbles them fortifies them in the practice of Obedience it not onely puts them in the way to Heaven but it helps to keep them in it and therefore I have no more to say to them at present but onely to wish them a good journey The proud willfull Sinners are the persons I have now to deal with Those Sinners who are not contented to be Saints according to God's heart but must will be Saints according to their own CHAP. II. The true Causes of proud willfull Scrupulosity OUr Doctors Divines who treat of Scruples observe several causes of them 1. Melancholy which is sometimes cured by physick 2. Suggestion of the Devil against whom the best defence is prayer 3. Conversation of Scrupulous persons whose needless discourses of their inward troubles ought to be shunn'd as infectious 4. Reading of casuistical books which are to be avoided as remedies unfit for the disease 5. Excess of servile fear which dayly diminishes as the Love of God encreases These are the Causes which they commonly take notice of but they are nothing to my present purpose because a complication of them all together may consist with being humble submissive The true proper Causes of our being proud willfull in our Scruples are the Esteem of our Judgment the Love of our Liberty which we derive originally from the Sin of our first Parents We are curious of knowing good evil we are ambitious of being like the Highest we are desirous of being absolute and independent in all our thoughts actions we would willingly be uncontrollable in both we would fain do what we think think what we please in a word we would gladly chuse our own way and be our own Judges whether we have chosen right or wrong T is obvious to every body 's natural reason that Scrupulous persons would never be proud if they had not an esteem of their judgment neither would they be willfull in their Scruples if they did not love the liberty of their humour They esteem their judgment are therefore so proud they cannot endure to submit it they love their humour therefore are so willfull they cannot abide to cross it To abate this love to correct this vain esteem I know nothing more proper than to expose the folly the mifcheif which attend them and therefore shall endeavour in the two following chapters to shew the extravagant effects the pernicious consequences of them CHAP. III. The extravagant Effects of Scrupulosity when it is proud willfull T Is no wonder that humane Reason is extravagant when Scrupulosity on the one side obstinacy on the other conspire together to confound the notions of it The one frights it out of the way the other hinders it from coming in again The one warps it the other makes it stand bent And how is' t possible for any body to square their actions by such a crooked Rule All that I wonder at is this that when people find feel by sad experience the folly extravagancy of their following such a Rule they are yet so proud willfull as not to make use of a better which God himself has recommended to them There are such a vast variety of follies excesses which their pride willfullness betray them to that I should never make an end if I pretended to take notice of them all therefore to bring my matters into as little compass as may be to make them as plain self-evident as I can I shall reduce them to three general heads by considering the principal duties of Temperance by comparing that of the Body with the other of the Mind which has most need of it suffers most for want of it SECT I. The extravagancy of their Curiosity THe first least degree of Temperance obliges us to abstain from all those things which in the common opinion of the world are poyson to us will certainly destroy us A man must needs be very intemperate indeed who longs for a belly-full of Arsenick as much as a child does for a lump of sugar Would you not think a man strangely willfull who will not believe 't is poyson till he has tried it Such is the folly of many scrupulous penitents who long to know some secret truths which if they knew for certain the very certainty would be enough to ruine them They fright themselves almost out of their wits with thinking that their Confessions never are exact that they never love God above all things that they never do sufficient pennance for their sins that they are not in the state of Grace that they are not in the number of God's Elect. How happy should they be in case they did but know assuredly the truth of these important matters If they knew onely these two things 1. that they are at present in God's favour 2. that they always shall be so How cheerfully unconcerndly would they then march forward in the way to Heaven I confess they have all the reason