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were, necessarily required it, has judged, nevertheless, that it will be of no small utility to the public, in the great multiplicity and diversity of errors which appear at this time touching this matter, to give a more ample definition and explanation of it, in which, after having de tected and destroyed all these errors, by the assistance of the Holy Ghost, the Catholic truth may appear in all its evidence and Instre, such as the holy council here exhibits it to all Christians, to be per: petually held and observed.




If all who are regenerated by baptism were so to testify their gratitude to God, as to persevere constantly in the justice they received therein through his grace and bounty; it would not have been necessary to have instituted any other sacrameet than Baptism, for the remission of sin. But because God who is rich in mercy, Eph. 2. knew the frailty of our weak nature, he has been pleased also to provide a remedy, whereby those, who after Baptism should be brought again under the bondage of sin and into the power of satan, may recover life, namely, the sacrament of Penance, through which, the merits of the death of Jesus Christ are applied to such, as have fallen after Baptism.

Penance has been, in all times, necessary to all men who had sullied their consciences by mortal sin, to obtain grace and justice, even to those who desired to be cleansed by the sacrament of Baptism, whereby renouncing and correcting their evil ways they detest the offence

five Popes, viz. Paul III. Julius III. Marcellus II. Paul IV, Pius V. and under the reigns of Charles V. and Ferdinand, Emperor's of Germany, of Francis I. Henry II. and Charles IX. kings of France. There were present at it five cardinals, legates of the holy see, three patriarchs; thirty-three arch-bishops ; Iwo hundred and thirty-five bishops; seven abbots; seven generals of religious orders; and one hundred and sixty doctors of theology. It was assembled for the purpose of shewing what the true doctrine of the Catholic church was. This council contains twenty-five sessione, and has been received and approved by the whole church.


they had committed against God, joining thereto a hatred of sin and a grief of the heart. Whence the Prophet says: Ezek, chap. 18. Be converted and do Penance for all your iniquities : and iniquity shall not be your ruin. And our Lord says likewise : Luke 13. Unless you do Penance you shall all likewise perish. And St. Peter the prince of the Apostles, recommending Penance to the sinners who were to be baptized, said to them, Acts, c. 2. Do Penance and be baptized every one of you. But yet Penance was not a sacrament before the coming of Jesus Christ; neither is it after his coming, for any one who has not been baptized.

Now, our Lord Jesus Christ, principally instituted the sacrament of Penance, when after his resurrection he breathed upon his disciples, saying to them : Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them: and whose you shall retain, they are retained, John 20. By which remarkable action and not less expressive words, the Holy Fathers, have always unanimously understood tha: the power of remitting and retaining sin, had been imparted to the Apostles and to their lawful successors for the reconciliation of the faithful, fallen after baptism. Hence the Catholic Church with very great reason formerly condemned and rejected as heretics, the *Novatians, who obstinately denied this power of remitting sin. Wherefore the holy council approving and receiving this sense of these words of our Lord as the true one, condemns the imaginary interpretations of those who, in opposition to the institution of this sacrament, wrest and falsely apply these words to the power of preaching the word of God and announcing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

* The Novatians, were the disciples of Novatien, a Priest of the city of Rome, who lived in the third century, with whom Novatus, a Priest of Africa joined in opposition to St. Cornelius, Popė. This opposition occassioned a temporary schism in the church. They maintained, that the church had no power to remit sin committed af. ter baptism. St. Cyprian, St. Pacien, Bishop of Barcelona, St. Ambrose, St. Basil, were the Principal Fathers who wrote against this heresy. It was condemned in several councils held both in Italy and Africa; and finally by the general council of Nice. It was in consequence of this schism that St. Cyprian wrote his admirable work, on the Unity of the Church.




MOREOVER it is evident that this sacrament differs in many respects from baptism. For besides its being very dissimilar both in the matter and form, which constitute thé essence of a sacrament; it is mani: fest also, that it does not appertain to the minister of baptism, to act in the capacity of a judge; the church exercising no jurisdiction over a person before his entry into her bosom through baptism. For what have I to do, says the Apostle, to judge them that are without ? 1 Cor. 5. It is not so with the servants of faith whom our Lord Jesus Christ has once made members of his body, by the laver of baptism : for, with regard to these, he has been pleased, should they be afterwards contaminated with any crime, pot that they should be purified a second time by a repetition of baptism, as this is in no manner allowed in the Catholic church; but that they should appear as criminals before this tribunal of Penance, in order that by the seatence of the Priests they may be delivered, not once only, but as often as repenting of their sins, they should have recourse to it.

Besides, very different are the effects of baptism from those of Penance, for having put on Jesus Christ in baptism, Gal. c. 3. we become entirely a new creature in him, obtaining a full and complete remission of all our sins; but by the sacrament of Penance, we cannot arrive at this total and entire renewal but by many sighs and great labours, which the justice of God exacts from us : insomuch that it is with great reason that Penance has been styled by the holy Fathers a painful and laborious baptism. Now, this sacrament of Penance is as necessary for salvation to those fallen after baptism, as baptism is to those who have not yet been regenerated.




The holy council of Trent moreover declares, that the form of this sacrament of Penance, in which its virtue and efficacy, principally consist, is contained in these words, which the minister pronounces. Ego te absolvo, &c. I absolve thee, &c. to which indeed, by a laudable custom of the holy church, are joined some other prayers; but they in no manner regard the essence of the form of the sacrament, and are not necessary to its administration.

The acts of the Penitent himself, oamely: Coptrition, Confession and Satisfaction are, as it were, the matter of this sacrament; and these same acts, which being of divine institution, are required in the Penitent for the integrity of the sacrament, and for a full and perfect remis sion of the sins, are also called in this sense, the parts of Perance. But as to the ground and effect of the sacrament, in what regards its virtue and efficacy, it consists in the reconciliation with God; which is often, in pious persons, who devoutly receive this sacrament, followed by a great peace and composure of conscience, and with great consolation of the spirit.

The holy council, explaining after this manner the parts and effect of this sacrament, condemns at the same time the sentiments of those, who maintain that faith and the terrors of an affrighted conscience are the parts of Penance.



CONTRITION which holds the first rank among the acts of the peni. ent, of which mention has been just made, is an interior grief, and a detestation of the sin committed, with a resolution of never sinning more. This notion of contrition has been at all times necessary for the remission of sin ; and to a man fallen after baptism, it serves as a preparation for the remission of sin, when joined to a confidence

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in the mercy of God, and to a desire of doing whatever is requisite, for the worthy receiving of this sacrament.

The holy council declares therefore, that this contrition comprises not only a cessation from sin, and a resolution and a commencement of a new life, but also a hatred of the past, according to that of Ezekiel, chap. 18. Cast away from you all your transgressions, by which you have transgressed ; and make to yourselves a new heart, and a new spirit. And certainly whoever will consider these transports of the saints: To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee; Psal. 50. I have laboured in my groanings, every night I will wash my bed, Psal. 6. I will recount to thee all my years in the bitterness of my soul, Isaias 38. and others of this nature; be will easily perceive that they flowed from a vehement hatred of the past life, and a great detestation of sin.

The holy council declares moreover, that although it may sometimes happen that this contrition may be perfect from charity, and reconcile man with God, before he actually receives this sacrament, this reconciliation however must not be attributed to contrition alone, independently of the desire of receiving the sacrament of Penance, which is included in it.

And with regard to that imperfect Contrition, which is called Attrition, because it springs commonly either from a sense of the turpitude of sin, or from the fear of punishment and of hell, if with the hope of pardon, it exclude the desire of sinning, the holy council declares, that not only it does not render man a hypocrite, and a greater sinner, but it is even a gift of God; and an impulse of the Holy Ghost; who indeed is not yet abiding in the penitent man, but only excites and assists him in such a manner as to prepare him for justification. And although it cannot of itself without the sacrament of Penance lead sinner to justification, yet it disposes him to receive the grace of God in the sacrament of Penance.

For it was with a similar fear, a fear filled with terror that the Ninnivites were so usefully struck by the preaching of Jonas, when they did penance, and obtained the mercy of God. Thus, it is falsely and without foundation, that some calumpiate Catholic Authors, as if they had written, that the sacrament of Penance confers grace

without any good motion from the part of those receiving it, which the church of God has never believed nor taught; and they advance also another falsity, when they teach that Contrition is a constrained and violent act, and not a free and voluntary one.


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