On the Means we All Have to Become Saints
Consider first, that if our Lord calls upon us all to be saints, and even commands us all to be saints - he, that never commands impossibilities, furnishes us also with the means which, if we make good use of them, will make us saints. Witness those manifold graces and spiritual helps which he continually favours us with, by which if we duly correspond, we should all be saints. Witness that early knowledge he has given us of his heavenly truths, and those repeated invitations with which he sweetly presses us to turn from our sins and to come to him. O if we did but welcome these first divine calls, how quickly would they produce in our souls strong desires of dedicating ourselves in good earnest to divine love! Now, such strong desires as these are the beginning of true wisdom, and the very foundation of all sanctity. For since God desires we should be saints, if we also sincerely desire it, the work will be done. Strong desires will make us earnest in prayer; they will make us diligent and fervent in spiritual exercises. Strong desires will make us labour in earnest; we shall spare no pains in the acquisition of virtue, if our desires are strong indeed. Such desires as these are that 'hunger and thirst after justice' recommended by our Lord, which never fail of being filled, Matt. v. 6. Who can complain of wanting the means to become saints when strong desires may do the work?
Consider 2ndly, the many particular helps to sanctity which we meet with everywhere in the church of God, which, as they have already made many great saints in every state and condition of life, are capable of doing as much for us; and will not fail of doing it, if we are not wanting to God and to ourselves, by the abuse or neglect of them. Such are the sacraments, those conduits of divine grace, instituted by Jesus Christ on purpose to make us saints, Such, in particular, is that most holy sacrament and divine sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, which we have always amongst us, and may daily approach, to the very fountain of all sanctity. O my soul, one good and perfect Communion might suffice to make thee a saint! Such again is the Word of God, which is so often preached to us, or read by us; the truths of eternity so often set before us; the gospel of Jesus Christ; the lives of the saints; the great examples of the living servants of God; the mysteries relating to our redemption, which we so often celebrate in the public worship of the church, in such manner as to make them as it were present to the eyes of our souls; with abundance of other spiritual advantages, which are continually found in the communion of the true church of Christ. O Christians, let us never complain of our wanting the means to become saints, when we have so many powerful graces and helps always at hand! If we are not saints it musts be entirely our own fault. And what an account shall we have one day to give for all these graces and helps, if we do not make good use of them?
Consider 3rdly, that in order to be saints, nothing is required on our parts but what God on his part will make sweet and easy to us, 'for his yoke is sweet, and his burthen is light.' We may apply to his commandment of our being saints what is written, Deut. xxx.11, & c., 'This commandment that I command thee this day is not above thee, nor far off from thee, nor is it in heaven to bring it to us; nor is it beyond the sea, that thou mayest excuse thyself and say, which of us can cross the sea, and bring it unto us. But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.' Yes, Christians, our God is very near us; he is the very centre of our souls. With him are all the treasures of grace and sanctity; with him is the law of love; he is all love; he is a consuming fire, the property of which is to destroy all our vices, and to transform our souls into himself. He is the inexhaustible source of all our good. We have no need then to go far to find divine love, which makes saints, since we have the very source of it within us; 'tis but turning into our own interior, by the diligent practice of recollection and mental prayer, and there we shall quickly meet with our God, and with his love, which will make all duties and all labours sweet and easy to us. This is the shortest way to all good, and the most effectual means to make us saints.
Conclude to embrace and put in practice all these means of sanctity, which divine providence continually presents thee with. Open the door of thy heart to every grace with which God visits thee, and cooperate with it to the full extent of thy power. Nourish in thy soul a great desire, a perfect hunger and thirst after the love of God, and all Christian perfection. Meditate often; read good books; be fervent in prayer, and in frequenting the sacraments. but particularly aim at a spirit of recollection, and a continual attention to God in thy own interior, and frequent aspirations of love, and thou shalt quickly become a saint.