The Sin of Irreligion
The Sin of Irreligion
The sin of “irreligion” means a want of due reverence for God and holy things. The sin of irreligion, therefore, consists in showing disrespect to God and holy things. Now, this may be done, (1,) by tempting God; (2) by committing sacrilege; and (3,) by simony.
1. To tempt any one, means to sound him and try to find out what his power and sentiments are in our regard. To tempt God, then, means to call upon him and expect that he will show his power, or wisdom or mercy, at our pleasure, and in ways that he has not promised. There is a man who, without special divine inspiration, abstains from food for forty days, trusting that God, by his power, will preserve his health and life.
There is another. He is very sick. He prays for the recovery of his health, but despises the natural means for recovering it.
There is another. He prays for success in a matter of great importance, but neglects to use the natural means for success. There is another. He exposes himself, without just cause, to the proximate occasion of sin, hoping that God, in his mercy, will preserve him from falling into sin. There is another. He borrows a large sum of money, hoping, that God, in his goodness, will send him the means to return it.
There is another. He exposes himself, without a grave cause, to the danger of life, believing that, by the power of God, he will escape all danger.
There is another. He enters upon a state of life, without having all that is necessary to be able to comply with the obligations of that state of life, hoping that God, in his goodness, will supply what is wanting to him.
There is another. He goes to pray, and expects to pray with fervor and confidence without due previous preparation for prayer, hoping that God will supply such preparation.
Now, all such persons show a want of due reverence for God; for the Lord, who is the giver of all natural and supernatural blessings, has given us natural and supernatural means to obtain those blessing; and to neglect the use of those means, and yet expect from God his blessings, is to expect them in ways that he has not appointed. This is to tempt the Lord, and such a tempting of god is a mortal sin. We read in the Gospel of St. Matthew, that the devil tempted our Saviour when standing on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him: “Cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge of thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps, thou hurt thy foot against a stone.” Our Saviour answered: “It is written again, thou shalt not tempt the Lord, thy God.” (chapt. iv.)