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The following Treatise was approved of at Rome by Fryer Pater Damian, a Discalceate Carmelite, Visitor General and Reader of Theology in the Convent of S. Mary della Scala, in the Year 1675, when the foregoing Book was so highly applauded and set out with so many Formallities: And after him, Nicholas Martinez, a Jesuite, Chief Reader of Theology in the Roman Colledg, (which is one of the eminentest Offices in one of the most eminent Houses of Education in the whole City) comes to set his Approbation to it: And then, after these two, our old Friend, that we were beholden to before, Fryer Dominick of the most Holy Trinity, Qualifier of the Holy Office in Rome, &c. he tells us, that forasmuch as he found nothing in it contrary to Faith or good Manners, or repugnant to the Reverence due to the Sacrament, &c. he takes it to be worthy to be Printed for divers and sundry reasons. So that though it met not with those Acclamations which the former Book did, (the reason whereof you will presently smell out, when you read it) yet these three Testimonies (besides the pains that the devout Priest (as he calls himself) took to get it out of Spanish into Italian) were enough to give it Credit and Authority in the World: And as it came tack’t to t’other Book so ‘twas pity to make it part Company.
But whilst these Reverend Gentlemen have been so kind to help it into the World, and speak such good things of it, ‘tis plain that they either wink’t at, or did not know one gross Contradiction that it makes to the foregoing Book; and that is this: That this, Mich. Molinos does lay it down as a Principle, in his Spiritual Guide, That the Penitent ought to resign up his Will, his Judgment, his Knowledge, his Choice to the determination of his Spiritual Director. And produces Examples for it, and tells him, that he must be led blindfold by his Confessor, though he should put him upon never so useless and nonsensical Penance and Mortification, as planting Lettice with the Roots upwards, &c. (a specimen of which sort of asinine and undisputing Obedience is to be seen pressed by the Founder of the Jesuitical Order, in his Epistle to the Brethren of his Society, Reg. Soc. Jesu, Cap. 18. wherein he instances in Abbot John, that watered a withered Tree for a whole Year together; (Which did him as much good as if he had tied a Whiting to his Girdle.) And, at his Superiour’s command, tried to move a vast Stone which was beyond the strength of many men together to do; which he had no more reason to do, than to knock his Head against it). And the reason that is given for this sort of affected and foolish Humility, forsooth, must be because the Father Confessor is in God’s place, and whatever he enjoyns his Penitent, must be done by an absolute and unlimited Obedience, without asking, why or wherefore, or entring into any thoughts of the reasonableness or unreasonableness, convenience or inconvenience, good or hurt of such a ranting sort of Discipline: And what fine work may there be sometimes done, when a silly Priest meets with a Penitent that is as wise as himself? But if the business be really, thus, then what’s the reason that this Author doth so often in this Treatise, flie in the face of the Ministers, (who in his sense, are these Confessors) and tax them with I know not what, and make most lamentable out-cries against ‘em for hindring their Penitents from Daily Communion? This is going backward and forward, saying and unsaying again: For if the Confessor have a power of disposing of his Penitent’s (I was going to say Client’s) Will, &c. as he pleases, and an unaccountable Empire and Government over him; I would fain see how he can advise him amiss? And why should all this noise be made against these Ministers who are made Judges of the disposition of their People, whom they Shrine, and therefore are presumed to do no more than what there is reason for, in hindring ‘em from Daily Communion?
If the foregoing Book were first Penn’d by the Author, then he either retracted his judgment, in this Treatise, or else forgot himself, (which he presses often as a Duty of Religion.) If this Treatise was Penn’d first, then the Author was willing to give Confessors more scope and power in [his Spiritual Guide] than he though fit to allow ‘em in his [Daily Communion.] However the matter was, there is a filthy Mistake some where or other; to press blind Obedience to Confessors in one Book, and yet bawl at ‘em for requiring it in another. The least that can be said of it, is, that ‘tis an argument of an inconstant or forgetful Head, And I leave it to him to make it out, or to any body else that has a mind to clear the point. The Treatise it self is like other Popish Treatises upon that Subject; only ‘tis a question, whether the Author be so far Annihilated yet (as his word is) as to believe Transubstantiation so stoutly as others of that Communion would make us believer they do. He hath been mightily conversant in ModernCasuists and Schoolmen, and that makes him so ill a Divine, as to tell us of receiving good by the Sacrament ex opere operato; i.e. Never minding what is done, but only the doing the bare action of it. I could not forbear shewing a mark of dislike, when I found him quoting two such bouncing Authorities out of St. Austine and St. Jerome for delivering Souls out of Purgatory by the efficacy of Mass. I confess they are very pregnant for his purpose, if he can but shew us those Words in the true Writings of those two Fathers: but to send us to the Man in the Moon to know further, this is not fair nor Scholar-like. If any man else will undertake to shew us those Words in the undoubted and unforg’d Works of St. Austine and St. Jerome, he will make me (for my part) in that point.
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