2

Source: p 174, The Catholic Christian Instructed in the Sacraments ..., by Richard Challoner, 1786

A. Continency is not required of all, but such as have by vow engaged to keep it: and therefore, before a person engages himself by vow, he ought certainly to examine whether he has a call from God, and whether he can go through with what he thinks of undertaking : but after he has once engaged himself by vow, he is not now at liberty to go back: but may assure himself, that the gift of continence will not be denied him, so that he uses proper means to obtain and preserve it, particularly prayer and mortification, which, ♦ because Luther laid aside, by quitting his canonical hours of prayer and other religious exercises, to which he had been accustomed in his convent, no wonder if he had lost the gift of continency, which he owns he enjoyed whilst he was a popish friar.

I guess the bolded which as a relative pronoun, but despite numerous rereads, I'm lost and can't anatomise/parse the phrases after the lozenge (♦ )? Please show the steps and thought processes? This quote exemplifies my persistent scourge; I can't even determine which is the right syntax here:

1. {Relative Pronoun or Adverb} + Subject + Verb   or   2. {Relative Pronoun as Subject} + Verb

  • 1
    Published in the US a century later, I see. Retaining the archaic syntax of the original. – John Lawler Feb 15 '15 at 4:04
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I'd scan it so:

particularly prayer and mortification, which, because Luther laid aside (, by quitting his canonical hours of prayer and other religious exercises [, to which he had been accustomed in his convent]), no wonder if he had lost the gift of continency (, which he owns he enjoyed whilst he was a popish friar).

So dropping the clauses:

particularly prayer and mortification, which, because Luther laid (them) aside, (it'd be) no wonder if he had lost the gift of continency.

  • 1
    Exactly. Note that this means (as is not uncommon in older texts) that which stands as a kind of dangling relative pronoun without an actual clause. In a modern text, there would almost certainly be a period instead and the next part would be turned into an actual sentence separate from the first (“Since Luther laid these aside… it is no wonder…”). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 15 '15 at 9:40
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My guess is that the referent of "which" is "prayer and mortification", and that "which" is the logical object of "laid aside". So

prayer and mortification, which, ♦ because Luther laid aside,

means:

prayer and mortification. Because Luther laid aside prayer and mortification, ...

-1

The referent here of which is the proper means of obtaining and preserving the gift under discussion.

It’s saying that because Luther laid aside the means of preserving his gift, it’s no great surprise that he should have lost it.

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