Today's contemplation


20th Aug.

On the mortification of the passions

Consider first, the necessity we lie under, ever since the corruption of our nature by sin, of keeping our passions also in order by a continual mortification of them. Before man was corrupted by original sin his whole soul was regular and orderly, and all his passions were under proper command. But as soon as the superior part of the soul had withdrawn herself from her allegiance to God, the inferior part began to rebel against the superior; and all its appetites and passions were let loose to run into all manners of disorders; because the bridle of original justice was now flung off with which they were kept in and restrained before. Hence arises an indispensable necessity of our ever mortifying our passions if we would secure our souls. For as our nature is now corrupted, our love and our hatred, our desires and our fears, our joy and our grief, our anger, &c., all share in this corruption, and are all apt to be disorderly, if not curbed and corrected by daily mortification.

Consider 2ndly, that this most necessary branch of mortification which relates to our passions, chiefly consists in the duly regulating all their motions – by directing them in a proper manner to their proper objects, and restraining all their excesses – so that they may all be brought under subjection to reason and religion, and made even serviceable to the true welfare of our souls. Thus we are to regulate our love, our desires, and our joy, by turning them away from all disorderly affection to perishable creatures to the living God; from running after vanity and lying fooleries to the pursuit of virtue and truth; and by keeping them always within their proper bounds, that they may not disturb the peace of the soul or distract its application to God. In like manner we must mortify our fear, our anger, and all our other passions by watching over all their motions, and restraining all their disorders and excesses. O how happy are they who by the daily practice of this mortification are arrived at that command of their passions, which is the blessed parent of true peace and certain image of heaven upon earth. Happy they who turn their fear and all their love to God, and to what God would have them fear and love; who hate nothing but the offence of God; desire nothing but the will of God; rejoice in nothing but God; grieve at nothing but what is contrary to his honour and the good of souls; and are angry at nothing but sin!

Consider 3rdly, that as love is the strongest of all the passions, and that which principally influences all the rest, so the regulating of love and mortifying its disorders ought to be at all times the great object of the Christian’s attention. “My love is my weight,’ says St. Augustine, ‘thither am I carried wheresoever I am carried.’ Now our love is regular and orderly when we love all things according to the great rule of the will of God; when we love our friends in God, and our enemies for God’s sake; when we weigh all things in the scales of the sanctuary, and prize them according to the weight they have there, and allow them no other love than what will stand this test. But then, on the other hand, whatever love, whether of any person, or any creature, or anything else, offers to captivate our affections, or to divide or take off any part of our heart from God, or to carry us any way out of the bounds of moderation, reason, or religion, is disorderly and must be restrained, corrected, and mortified. All such love as this strikes al the very root of the welfare and salvation of the soul, by violating the very first and chiefest of all God’s commandments, which is to love the Lord our God with all our heart.

Conclude to watch over all thy passions, that thou mayest keep them all in subjection; but principally to take care to restrain thy love and thy desires from all unlawful, dangerous, or vain objects; and from all excess or immoderation, in being too strongly bent, or too eagerly carried, even to lawful ones. For whatsoever the object be, ‘tis a criminal love to affect anything more than God.



21st Aug.


On the mortification of the predominant passion

Consider first, that the passions of love and desire, when they are unmortified, branch out into all manner of vices and vicious inclinations commonly ranged under the seven heads, which are usually called the seven capital sins – though St. John brings them into a narrower compass, when he reduces them all into these three, ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,’ 1 John ii. 16. Now, amongst these vicious inclinations which wage war against the soul there is usually some one or other that is stronger and more violent than the rest, or that occasions more or greater sins, and this is named by divines the predominant passion, the mortification of which is one of the chief businesses of a spiritual life. For this predominant passion being, as it were, the captain and commander of the rest, when this is overthrown, the rest will more easily be subdued and brought under, as when their champion Goliath was slain the Philistines were all immediately put to flight.

Consider 2ndly, that as this predominant passion, this reigning love, this strongest desire or affection whatever the object of it may be, has already unhappily gained the heart, it is but too apt to impose upon the poor soul with specious pretexts, in order to keep its hold, and to maintain its ground against the remonstrances of conscience and all the calls and graces of heaven. It is the Agag, which the deluded soul, by a false compassion, would willingly spare, through with the risk of being cast off by God, as Saul was for so doing, 1 Sam. xv. Ah! Christians, deceive not then yourselves; this predominant passion, this favourite affection, which has taken possession of your heart, is indeed the capital enemy of God and your souls; it must be slain, it must be sacrificed to the living God. Beware of the traitor which you carry about with you; suffer him not to impose upon you; it is very easy, if you have not a mind to be wilfully blind, to discover what he would be at; because upon the least examination of your hearts you will find him always busy in undermining the reign of the love of God, thrusting himself upon his throne, and setting up an idol in his temple, by challenging the chiefest place in your heart to the prejudice of divine love.

Consider 3rdly, what you must do in order to get rid of this worst of all your enemies. O! you must make yourself thoroughly acquainted with the depth of his malice and all his stratagems, that you may not be surprised or imposed upon by him; you must observe all his motions to resist them at the very beginning; you must study all the secret springs by which he acts upon the heart, and sets the other passions on work to fulfil his irregular inclinations. Ah! Christians, ‘tis of infinite importance in this spiritual warfare to know the true state of your interior, and to watch all the motions and secret ambushes of your enemies! You must also single out this enemy in such a manner as not to allow any one of your passions or vices to remain unresisted in your soul, yet you are in a more especial manner to turn all your forces against this predominant passion by directing your daily and most fervent prayers, your confessions and Communions, your particular examination every night, and the rest of your spiritual exercises, towards the total subduing of this evil, and acquiring the contrary virtue.

Conclude, if you hope to succeed in the great work of the mortification of your passions, to begin by declaring an eternal war against their chief, and never cease to attack him upon all occasions till you have brought him down. All the rest will yield themselves up when he is subdued, and you will begin to relish the sweets of peace and true liberty, which you shall never enjoy till you have broken the chains with which he enslaves you.


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22nd Aug.

On mortification of the sensual appetite

Consider first, that our sensual appetite, that is, the strong inclination we have to gratify our senses, and to indulge them in their pleasures, is one of the most dangerous enemies the soul has, and stands most in need of being restrained and corrected by mortification. The flesh, with its senses, was designed to be the servant of the soul, and to be subservient to its true welfare and happiness. But if the sensual appetite be not kept under subjection by mortification, the servant will quickly become mistress, and the poor soul will be made her slave, and will be dragged along by her irregular inclinations into all kinds of evils. Our sensuality therefore must be mortified; we must absolutely deny ourselves all unlawful, sensual, and carnal pleasures; we must fly them more than death; we must retrench all excess and immoderation in the use even of lawful pleasures and diversions; we must never suffer ourselves to affect them much less to have a passion for them; we must accustom ourselves to curb and thwart the inclinations of our senses in things lawful or indifferent, that so we may acquire a greater facility in overcoming our sensual appetite when it inclines to things unlawful, and may at the same time punish our having formerly indulged ourselves in them. In fine, we must never do anything merely for our pleasure.

Consider 2ndly, the opposition there is between a sensual life or a life of pleasure and a truly Christian life, which is agreeable to the maxims of the gospel and the practice of Christ and of all his saints, who have taken up their crosses to follow him, and have always borne in their bodies the mortification of Jesus, and have been, as it were, crucified with him. This opposition is so great that the apostle cannot speak without weeping for those half Christians who give themselves up to their pleasures; of whom he says, Philip. iii. 18, 19, 'that they are enemies of the cross of Christ; that their end is destruction; that their god is their belly; that they glory in their shame, and mind only earthly things.' Christ did not study his own pleasure. 'He did not please himself,' Rom. xv.3. His whole life was a cross, which he voluntarily chose for the glory of his Father, and for the love of us. The apostle 'chastised his body, and brought it into subjection,' by voluntary mortifications, 1 Cor. ix. 27; all the saints have walked in the same footsteps, they have all crucified their own flesh Gal.v. 24. 'The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and none but they that use violence upon themselves beareth it away,' Matt. xi. 12. And shall Christians think that a sensual life will ever bring them thither? No; true 'wisdom is not found in the land of them that live in delights,' Job xxviii. 13. And we are not to imagine we may give ourselves up to our pleasure here, and yet promise ourselves 'the good things of the Lord in the land of he living' hereafter.

Consider 3rdly, that there is no one but what may and ought to practice the mortification of the flesh and of its sensual appetites; and that too by restraining it often from things otherwise lawful. The guilty must do it to punish themselves for their past sins; the innocent must do it, in order to keep themselves from falling into sin, which will be the unavoidable consequence of their not mortifying and keeping under so dangerous an enemy. None must excuse themselves here on account of their want of strength or health; 'tis easy for a Christian of a good will to contrive and to put in execution a variety of self-denials that neither require any bodily strength nor prejudice the health. If we are not able to wear the hair shirt or use the discipline; if we cannot fast or lie upon the hard floor, we may at least retrench many superfluities and affected niceties in our eating, drinking, clothing, & c.; we may shorten the time we give to unnecessary lying in bed; we may upon many occasions withdraw ourselves from such things as we are inclined to, and which perhaps are less wholesome for us, and choose such things as are less agreeable to our own inclinations; in fine, we may daily and hourly mortify, in many things, our eyes, our ears, our tongue, &c.

Conclude to make it thy daily business to mortify on every occasion thy sensual appetite, lest otherwise flesh and blood prevail on thy soul and she fall an everlasting prey to her mortal enemies.

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23rd Aug.

On the mortification of curiosity

Consider first, that besides the evil of sensuality, which must be mortified in order to subdue the concupiscence of the flesh, there is another dangerous evil that must also be mortified in order to subdue the concupiscence of the eyes; and that is, the vice of curiosity, which St. Augustine (Confessions L. x., c. 35,) supposes to be understood by this name. A dangerous evil indeed, and the mother of many evils; which makes men busy themselves about things either hurtful, or at least nothing at all to their purpose, whilst they neglect things profitable and necessary, yea the only thing necessary. Alas! how many things are there that men take much pains to inquire into, which are dangerous to their souls? How many which are absolutely useless and unprofitable, and which answer no manner of end, either of the glory of God or of their own or neighbour's good? And how much loss is here of their precious time! What dissipation of thought! What distractions in prayer! What forgetfulness of God and eternity! What an enslaving of the soul to meet toys and vanities! And what account shall they be able to give at the last day, of a life spent so unprofitably, so unworthily of the great end for which they came hither; and so perversely, because so contrary to the holy will and law of their maker? Ah, the dismal consequence of indulging this unhappy curiosity!

Consider 2ndly, the particulars in which we must mortify the lust of the eyes, if we hope to keep the soul pure, and to prevent death from coming in at those windows. We must turn our eyes away from vanity; and much more from such objects as allure the soul to impure love: an unguarded glance of an eye has a thousand and a thousand times been the death of the soul. unhappy they who are ever indulging their curiosity in looking after such dangerous objects! And much more unhappy they, who affect by their light carriage and indecent dress to draw the eyes and hearts of others to lust; as also with relation to the reading of all such books, as being either lewd, or profane, or irreligious, tend to debauch the soul, and to draw her into sin. In which number romances, play-books, and such like, are certainly to be comprised; because they only serve to heighten the passions, to soften the soul, and to dispose her to carnal love, and to shut out from her the spirit of devotion and of the love of God.

Consider 3rdly, the necessity of mortifying in like manner the ears; since those also are an avenue through which, if not well guarded, death oftentimes makes its way into the soul. This branch of curiosity must be corrected, first by stopping the ears to all loose narrations, jests, or songs - all which are apt to convey a mortal poison into the soul - secondly, by restraining them from hearkening to scandal and detraction, with danger of either taking pleasure in it, or countenancing and encouraging so great an evil; thirdly, by keeping a guard upon them, to prevent their taking in a still greater infection, by hearkening to irreligious and impious discourses, which strike at the deity and his revealed truths, or tend to the discouraging of virtue or promoting of vice. In a word, the Christian that would save his soul must ever have a guard upon himself in all company and conversation, lest the curiosity of his ears induce him to hearken with pleasure to any such speeches or words as may let in the corruption of sin into his heart.

Conclude ever to watch and pray against the evil of curiosity, which has so many ways of poisoning the soul. But it thou wouldst indulge the desire of knowledge, (which is so natural to man,) let it be by inquiring into useful truths, and such as may serve to bring thee to the sovereign truth. 'But woe to them that inquire of men after many curious things, and at the same time are but little curious of knowing the way to serve God!' - Kempis.



24th Aug.


On the Gospel for St. Bartholomew, Luke vi. 2, &c.

Consider first, how our Lord, designing to make choice of his twelve apostles, by way of preparation for this great work, went out into a mountain to pray, and there passed the whole night in the most earnest and fervent prayer. Learn from hence, my soul, in all thou takest in hand, to begin with prayer, in order to draw down the blessings of heaven upon thy undertakings; learn also of thy Saviour to be fervent and earnest in thy prayers: learn to retire with him as often as thou canst, for thy private devotion, from the noise and distractions of the world. Recollection, solitude, and the silence of the night are great helps to devotion. O! what oughtest thou not to do, to secure the salvation of thy own soul, when the Son of God has passed even whole nights in prayer for the love of thee? He stood not in need of prayer for himself; but has given us an example, to teach us how much we ought to take to heart upon all occasions this execise of fervent prayer.

Consider 2ndly, the fruits of this night's prayer, in the great things our Lord performed the next morning; which we may reduce under three heads. 1. His choice of his twelve apostles. 2. His divine sermon on the mount. 3. The many miracles he wrought when as the gospel informs us, 'a very great multitude of people came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; and a virtue went out from him, and healed them all,' v. 17, 18, 19. Contemplate, my soul, all these wonders of divine grace, wrought in consequence of the prayer of that night. See a company of poor, weak, illiterate fishermen, wonderfully advanced on a sudden to be the great pillars and founders of the church of God, and prime ministers of his kingdom upon earth. Bow thyself down, and embrace the heavenly law, published on this occasion by the Redeemer, in that admirable sermon in which with a most amiable simplicity, joined with a wonderful authority, he has laid down all the fundamentals of Christian morality; and do thou also learn to approach in spirit to his feet with his disciples, to receive of his doctrine, and to be healed by him of all thy diseases. O! ever remember, that the true way of all good, and the source of all light, grace, and benediction, is to go up with him to the mountain and to converse with God by recollection and prayer.

Consider 3rdly, what we read herein the gospel 'that all the multitude sought all to touch our Lord: for virtue went out from him and healed all,' verse 19. If virtue went out from our Lord to heal the corporal diseases of all them that touched him, whilst he was here visibly present, during his mortal life, can we suppose he has either less power or less goodness, to heal the spiritual maladies of such as properly apply to him, now he has entered into his glory, after shedding his precious blood for us? No certainly; but as 'all power is given him in heaven and earth,' so virtue never ceases to go out from him, in favour of all that spiritually approach to him, and that seek to keep him company in their own interior; and how much more in favour of them that verily and indeed touch him, and receive him within their house, by means of their holy Communion. O let us always endeavour to keep close to him, and his virtue will always be with us.

Conclude to go up with Christ, upon all occasions to the mountain, by retirement and prayer. In all dangers let this be thy refuge. Run thither to be delivered from all thy evils. Here thou shalt meet with thy sovereign good.



25th Aug



Consider first, that the most necessary of all mortifications is that which teaches us to mortify our pride, by the virtue of humility. Humility is the favourite virtue of heaven: all other virtues are nothing without it; they even degenerate into vices when they are tainted with pride. Humility makes us become as little ones; low, mean, and despicable in our own eyes, and willing to be such in the eyes of others. Humility makes us quite sensible of our own demerit, of our misery and sinfulness; teaches us to divest ourselves of all conceit of our own performances or abilities, and to ascribe all good to God alone. Humility sits down in the lowest place; makes us sincerely prefer all others before ourselves, and pretend to no esteem or praise, or honour, or glory, as due to us, or to any excellence of our own; but to be fully and feelingly convinced, not only that we are good for nothing of ourselves, fit for nothing but to do mischief, and deserve nothing but punishment, but also that 'tis owning to God's pure goodness that we are suffered to live upon earth, and that any one at all shows us the least regard, or does us the least service; and that all God's creatures have not a general licence to rise up against us, and to punish us in all manner of ways, for our offences against their creator: in fine, that we were not long since in hell.

Consider 2ndly, that what makes this virtue of humility so acceptable to God is because God is the Truth, and cannot help loving the truth. Now all pride is made up of errors and lies, in taking ourselves to be something, in pretending to what is not our due, or ascribing to ourselves what belongs not to us; or in fine, in being puffed up with the gifts of God, as if they were our own property, or of our own growth. And what is all this but lies? Sacrilegious lies, that offer to rob God of his glory, to challenge to ourselves what belongs to him, and Satan-like to pretend to set ourselves on his throne! But humility goes always hand-in-hand with truth, and ever grounds herself upon the truth, by giving always to God what belongs to God, and to man what belongs to man; by acknowledging, with all simplicity, conviction, and affection, God to be all, and man to be nothing; and by ever ascribing to God whatsoever there is of good in one's self or in anything created; and reserving to one's self nothing but one's own defects. This is true humility, this is the truth that shall stand for ever. This was found, in the greatest perfection, in the most eminent saints upon earth; this shall reign with them in heaven for all eternity, where God shall be all in all for ever.

Consider 3rdly, that humility is not only a virtue absolutely necessary for arriving at Christian perfection, but that there is even no salvation at all for us without it. There is no going to heaven without God's grace; now, 'God resists the proud, and gives his grace to the humble,' St. James iv. 6. And our Lord expressly assures us that 'except we become as little children,' (by humility,) 'we shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,' Matt. xviii. 3. No, my soul, let us not deceive ourselves, there is no room in heaven for pride. Satan and his companions were cast down from thence by their pride; and their places are not to be filled up but by the humble. Only they that humble themselves upon earth shall be exalted in heaven. The most high and the most holy, who inhabiteth eternity, will only 'dwell with a contrite and humble spirit,' Isaia lvii. 15, and will have respect to none, to bring them to his heavenly kingdom, but such as in their mortal life, by the virtue of humility, are 'poor and little, and of contrite spirit, and tremble at his words,' Isaia lxvi. 2.

Conclude, if thou wouldst have any part with God in his eternal kingdom, to be ever little and humble here upon earth The more thou stoopest down, and castest thyself under the feet of all, by humility, the more God will lift thee up and exalt thee; for he alone is truly great and high, and ever looks down with a favourable eye upon them that are low and humble, to exalt them here by his grace, and hereafter in his glory. But as for such as lift up their heads by pride, and take themselves to be great and high, he keeps them off at a distance and regards them with horror, 'For the proud and arrogant are an abomination to the Lord,' Prov. xvi. 5.


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26th August



Consider first, that the school in which we are to learn true humility is the serious consideration and true knowledge of God and of ourselves. To know God and to know ourselves is the true science of the saints. These two branches of Christian knowledge usually go hand-in-hand, and mutually promote and assist one another. The more we know our God, and the infinity of all his perfections, the more sensible we are of our own demerit, and of our total dependence on him; and the more we know ourselves and all our miseries and sins, the more clearly we perceive that God alone is good, and that he is infinitely good in bearing with us. Here we learn true humility, because here we learn to annihilate ourselves in the sight of that infinite majesty in whose presence the whole universe dwindles away to a mere nothing, and both heaven and earth quite disappear. here we learn to ascribe all good to this sovereign good, and nothing of good to ourselves. Here we learn to descend even beneath ourselves, by the consideration of our sins, and of the hell we have deserved by them. Here, in fine, we learn to have so great a sense of our manifold miseries and sins, as to keep our eyes only open to our own defects, and shut to those of others: and by that means we learn to despise no one but ourselves, and to prefer all others before ourselves.

Consider 2ndly, O my soul, and in order to acquire a more perfect knowledge of thyself, that so thou mayest always be little and humble, take a more particular review of thy whole self, and seriously reflect on what thou art, both as a mortal and as a sinner: that thy extraction is from nothing; that thou wast conceived and born in sin; that thou art perpetually liable to innumerable miseries, both of soul and body; that all thy powers and faculties are strangely impaired and disordered by sin; that thou art ever prone to evil, and hard to be brought to good; that thy passions are headstrong and rebellious; thy affections ever bent upon vain toys and lying fooleries; and thy thoughts, words, and actions full of corruption. In the meanwhile thy time is hastening on without intermission to its last period; death is following close at thy heels, and shall quickly overtake thee, and send away this body of thine, which thou art so fond of, to the food of maggots and worms, and thy poor soul to another world, to be tried there at an unerring tribunal, under a dreadful uncertainty, whether she shall not be delivered up an eternal prey to merciless devils. And is it possible that we should be sensible of all these humbling truths, and should seriously reflect on them, and yet be proud?

Consider 3rdly, that amongst all these humbling considerations that which ought most effectually to abate, or rather quite to beat down our pride, is the remembrance of our sins, and what we have deserved for them. Ah! wretched creature that I am, I have been guilty of mortal sin, of high treason against my God, and that perhaps a thousand times; and consequently I have deserved a thousand hells; and what can I have to be proud of? Ah! what a wretched figure did my soul then make in the sight of God and his angels! How odious, how filthy, how abominable was she all that time! And is she not so still? She stood then condemned to hell; and has that sentence ever been reversed? What pretensions then can I have to any honour, esteem, or regard from any one? What title to any favour from God or man? What just reason to complain, if even all God's creatures should combine against me, to revenge upon me the wrong done to their creator; and should tread me under their feet, to punish the pride by which I have lifted up my head against the Almighty? What would all this be in comparison with my deserts? How then shall I dare to entertain any proud thought, either of conceit of myself, or of seeking to be esteemed by others, or of resenting affront, contradiction, or contempt from any man; since I have no title to any thing else but hell! And what room can there be for glorifying thee?

daily to frequent this school of humility, by studying well to know thy God and to know thyself: this kind o science is infinitely more to thy purpose than all other arts and sciences put together; all which, indeed, would only serve to puff thee up and to betray thee to thy mortal enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, if not accompanied with the knowledge of God and of thyself.



27th Aug


On the Master of Whom we are to learn humility

Consider first, that in order to teach us humility God has sent us down a master from heaven, even his own eternal Son, who is no less God that his Father. Of what importance, then, must it be for us, my soul, to study well this great lesson, which the Son of God himself has come down from heaven to teach? O, who could have thought that we, who are of ourselves so very little, so very wretched and contemptible, so near the brink of nothing, and by our sins beneath nothing, should be so strangely conceited of ourselves, and so monstrously corrupted with pride and self-love, that nothing less should suffice to teach us to be little and humble than the great example of the Son of God himself coming down from heaven and becoming a little one amongst us - 'yea, as a worm and no man, the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people,' Ps. xxi. And yet, even so, how few are there of us that are content to be little and contemptible with him! How few are willing to be scholars of this heavenly master, or even to submit to the least humiliations for the love of him!

Consider 2ndly, the sweet invitation of our Lord, St. Matt. xi. 28, 29, calling us to 'come to him, and to take up his yoke upon us, and to learn of him because he is meek and humble of heart,' and promising us 'refreshment and rest for our souls' upon our compliance with this invitation. O what encouragements are here, my soul, to engage us to spare no pains in learning in this heavenly school of humility, opened by the Son of God, and to make us quite in love with the study of truth! a most excellent master! The Son of God himself, the sovereign truth! Blessed schoolfellows, all the saints of God and favourites of heaven! A most excellent science, which brings the soul through the gate of her own unworthiness to the contemplation of her God, the pure truth! Excellent fruits, the peace of the soul, refreshment and rest from her labours and burdens, a victory over all her passions, and a happy acquisition of all other virtues! O let us frequent this heavenly school of Christ!

Consider 3rdly, the great example of humility given us by the Son of God, 'who being in the form of God,' (true God no less than his Father,) and therefore 'thought it no robbery to be equal with God, yet debased himself, taking the form of a servant, viz., the servile nature of man, and humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the most disgraceful death of the Cross,' Philip. ii. 6, 7, 8. His whole life was full of lessons of humility. He chose to be born in a stable; to be circumcised as a sinner; to flee into Egypt, as if he were unable to resist a petty mortal; to be brought up in poverty and labour; to work at a laborious mechanical trade; to be obedient to his creatures; to be baptized amongst sinners; to suffer himself to be tempted by the devil; to make choice of the poorer and meaner sort of men for his companions and disciples; to make himself as their servant, even to the washing of their feet; to fly from honours and applause, to conceal his glory; to enjoin secrecy with regard to his wonderful works; and to embrace on all occasions, both in life and death, whatsoever was most humbling and most despicable in the eyes of men. O divine Jesus, teach us to follow the blessed example! O teach us to be meek and humble of heart like thee, that so we may be thy disciples indeed!

Conclude to set always before your eyes the life and doctrine of Jesus Christ, in order to conform yourself to his divine maxims and examples, and to learn of him to be truly humble. No other master but he can effectually teach you this divine lesson.



28th Aug.

St. Bernardine of Siena


Consider first, that humility is the ground on which other virtues must be built: they have all of them a necessary dependence on this foundation, and are all of them more or less perfect in proportion to the degree in which we possess humility. Faith itself, which is commonly looked upon as the foundation of all our good, absolutely depends upon humility - even that humility which obliges the soul to adore what she cannot understand, to submit to the most humbling truths, and to 'cast down every height that exalted itself against the knowledge of God, and to bring into captivity every understanding to the obedience of Christ,' 2 Cor. x. 4, 5, Because, as all heresies proceed from pride, self-conceit, and refusing to give up or submit one's own judgment divine authority, so nothing else but humility can secure the soul from this danger and keep her firm to her faith. In like manner divine hope depends also upon humility, which alone can keep the soul in the golden mean, between the two extremes of diffidence and presumption; whilst it teaches her to have no opinion or confidence in herself, nor any way to build on her own sandy bottom, but wholly upon the rock which can never fail us, of the power, goodness, and mercy of God. For the less we trust in ourselves the more we trust in God. and thus we shall always find that they who are the most humble have also the strongest faith and hope, and are usually instruments in the hand of God of his greatest works.

Consider 2ndly, that divine charity, the queen of all virtues, as to both her branches, viz., both the love of God and the love of our neighbours, has also a close connexion with humility, and can never maintain her ground in our souls without being supported by humility. Because humility furnishes the soul with the most pressing motives to assist her to love her God; humility sets his goodness in its proper light; makes the soul admire that he, being what he is, should have any regard to her, or even bear with such a sinful wretch as she is: humility teaches her that she is nothing, and that God is the great all, infinitely good in himself, and infinitely good to her: and indeed, this infinite goodness of God, which is the proper object of divine love, is never rightly comprehended, but by the humble. and as to that other branch of charity that relates to our neighbours, 'tis very evident it can never be obtained but by humility: for all the vices that oppose and destroy fraternal charity, such as hatred, envy, contention, rash judgment, detraction, anger, &c., all spring from pride, and are not to be vanquished but by true humility; which teaches us to prefer all others before ourselves, and to be angry with no one but ourselves.

Consider 3rdly, that prayer, which is the general means of all our good, must also be presented before the throne of God, and recommended by humility; or else it will never be effectual with God: but when it is accompanied with humility, it can do all things. 'The prayer of him that humbleth himself,' saith the wise man, Eccles. xxxv. 21, 'shall pierce the clouds;' and he will not depart till the most high beholds him with a favourable eye, to grant his petition. For as the psalmist assures us, Ps. ci. 18, 'God hath regard to the prayer of the humble, and despiseth not their petitions.' 'And from the beginning the proud have never been acceptable to him; but the prayer of the humble and of the meek have always pleased him,' Judith ix 16. Even the prayer of the greatest sinners, when it is presented with a contrite and humble heart, is not despised by him, Ps. 1., as evidently appears in the case of the publican, Luke xviii., who by this one short prayer, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner,' accompanied with a profound humility and a perfect contrition, was immediately justified. O blessed humility, what canst thou not effect! O dear Lord, teach us to be humble.

Conclude if thou desirest to raise in thy soul the fabric of virtue, to lay in the first place the foundation of humility; and the higher thou hopest to erect this fabric, the lower must thou sink the foundation, by a more profound humility. Virtue without this foundation will prove no better than a house built upon sand, which at the first storm or inundation will fall to ruin.



29th Aug.

On the other fruits of humility

Consider first, that the moral virtues, as well as the theological, have all of them a necessary dependence on humility. That prudence will come to nothing, which is self-conceited and builds upon the devices of man, rather than upon the light and grace of God, procured by humble prayer. Justice will be deficient in many of its branches, if corrupted by pride, which always makes men partial to themselves, and so full of themselves, as to be ever ready to judge, censure, despise, and condemn their neighbours; and unwilling to regulate their thoughts, words, and deeds, by that golden rule of doing in all things as they would be done by. That fortitude will fail, when it comes to the trial, which for want of humility is built upon sand, and not upon the rock. And that temperance can never be perfect which only withholds the sensual appetite from excess, and does not withal restrain the irregularities of the other passions, and qualify the fumes of pride, that they may not turn the head with self-conceit: now this is the proper business of humility, and can never be effected without humility.

Consider 2ndly, that not only the four cardinal virtues but all the others depend in like manner on the foundation of humility. Meekness, which restrains anger and bears with equality of soul all affronts and provocations, goes always hand-in-hand with humility, and is recommended to us jointly with humility, by the great example of our Lord: 'learn of me,' said he, 'for I am meek and humble of heart.' Poverty of spirit (which disengages the soul from the love of the world) is either humility itself, or the offspring of humility. Purity and chastity can never be maintained but by humility: the most shameful falls into the worst of impurities are often the punishment of pride, Rom. i. 24. Modesty, when it only regulates the exterior, and is not accompanied with humility of heart, is but hypocritical and Pharisaical, and deserves not the name of virtue. Obedience is the favourite daughter of humility, as disobedience is the first-born of pride. Patience under crosses and sufferings springs also from humility, which reaches us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God in all his appointments, even to kiss the rod, and to be convinced that what we suffer is nothing to what we deserve. In a word, a perpetual conformity with the blessed will of God in all things, is ever the inseparable companion of true humility; and brings along with it to the soul the happy fruits of tranquillity and peace, which are the joint offspring of these two virtues.

Consider 3rdly, that humility is also the parent of these two necessary virtues of penitence and self-denial: because the more humble we are, the more we know ourselves, and the greater sense we have of our sins; and consequently the greater horror and hatred for them, and the greater desire of punishing them by penance,and of making satisfaction for them by a penitential life. And in like manner, the more humble we are, the more we are also sensible of our own weakness, and of all the dangers that surround us on all sides from the devil and the world, and most of all from our own passions, and that unhappy self-love which is the root of all evils; and thus the humble knowledge of ourselves puts us upon keeping a greater guard upon ourselves, and a closer rein upon our passions and disorderly inclinations, in order to restrain all their irregularities and bring them all under perfect subjection. Now this is self-denial; the business of which is to subdue self-love, and to force it to submit to the love of God. Thus all virtues depend upon humility. O lovely humility! O how blessed it is to be thus little in our own eyes! There is no other way to any degree of true greatness.

Conclude, if thou aspirest to perfection, to enter upon the path of humility; no other way can bring thee thither. If thou aimest at arriving thither by any other road, thou wilt be sure to fall down some dreadful precipice.



30th Aug.



Consider first, that true humility does not consist in speaking ill of ourselves, by saying we are great sinners, or the like; nor yet in wearing plain apparel, or employing ourselves in mean offices; nor in looking down upon the ground, &c. - we may do all this, and yet be far from being humble; because all this may be done out of pride, either to acquire the esteem of others by this outward show of humility, or to please and applaud ourselves with the conceit of our being humble. True humility consists not in words, nor in the outside; but in the inward sentiments of the heart. 'Humility,' says St. Bernard, 'is a virtue by which a man, out of a most true knowledge of himself, becomes mean and contemptible in his own eye; so that for a man to be truly humble is to have a low opinion of himself, through the deep sense he has of his own unworthiness and of his sins; and therefore to despise himself and to be willing to be despised by all the world' See, my soul, if these be thy dispositions: if not thou art not truly humble.

Consider 2ndly, that the first degree of true humility is that which is expressed in the definition given by St. Bernard, viz., that we should have that knowledge of ourselves, and of all our miseries and sins; such a conviction of our having nothing at all to be proud of, and very many things that make us wretchedly mean and contemptible, as sincerely to despise ourselves: seeing there is nothing in us of good that is our own, and that whatsoever is in us of our own proper growth, or of our own stock, is all good for nothing, yea filthy and abominable. What room then can there be in us for any self-conceit, or self-esteem? How many and how pressing inducements have we to oblige us to think meanly of ourselves, and to despise ourselves? And yet how much does this unhappy pride prevail, in spite of all these humiliations which we carry about with us? Oh! let this misery of ours at least be a motive to despise ourselves the more!

Consider 3rdly, that the second degree of true humility advances us still farther, and makes us not only to despise ourselves, but to be willing and even desirous to be despised by all others; and that all others should have the same mean opinion of us as we pretend to have of ourselves. And indeed since in all things we are even willing to have others to be of the same opinion with ourselves, did we sincerely despise ourselves, we should certainly be glad that all others should have the same way of thinking as we have, and should in like manner despise us also. Alas! how far am I from these dispositions! The third and most sublime degree of humility is that of the saints, who in the midst of the greatest favours and highest elevations and all the supernatural gifts of divine grace are so established in God's truth as to ascribe nothing at all to themselves, but all to God: and by how much the more they are exalted by him, are so much the more mean in their own eyes, by descending so much the deeper into the abyss of their own nothingness. Happy they that in all things know how to distinguish what belongs to God, from that which belongs to themselves, and to reserve to themselves only which is their own, and to give all the rest to God!

Conclude to aim at ascending from step to step, by the help of the knowledge of thyself; and not to rest till thou arrivest at the perfection of humility. She will bring to thee all good things along with her, and conduct thee safe to the kingdom of God.



31st Aug.



Consider first, that in order to acquire this most necessary virtue of humility we must have a great esteem for it; we must greatly desire it, and seek after it; we must earnestly pray for it every day of our lives, and must neglect no opportunity of learning it or improving ourselves in it by the practice of it - that is, by daily exercising ourselves in the acts of it. Now, as the humiliations which come to us either from the hand of God or man give us the best opportunity of practising or exercising humility, we must learn to welcome these humiliations, and to embrace them in such manner as to take occasion from them to humble ourselves daily both to God and man. For as we never shall learn patience without sufferings and crosses so we shall never learn humility without humiliations. But as in the sufferings and crosses which come to us through the hands of wicked men we must ever distinguish that which is the work and will of God from that which is the malice of men, so that we embrace the one whilst we detest the other; so likewise in our humiliations, if they be attended with the evil of sin, either of our own or of others, we must in such manner humble ourselves under them as to embrace the abjection or humiliation, whilst we abhor the sin.

Consider 2ndly, that in learning humility by practice it will be proper to proceed gradually by setting ourselves certain lessons, beginning with those that are more easy, and when these are learnt proceeding to such as are more difficult. Thus, for instance, let us begin by learning - 1. Not to seek in anything that we do the praise, esteem, or applause of man; nor to say one word tending directly or indirectly to our own praise or honour; but rather to mortify that inclination we have to be ever speaking of ourselves and of our own performances. 2. Never to excuse or palliate our own faults or defects, nor to fling the blame upon others. 3. Not to take pleasure in hearing ourselves praised nor in our being honoured or applauded by men; nor to be displeased at others being extolled or preferred before us. 4. Carefully to shun all occasions of honour and praise as far as we can, without being wanting to the duties of our calling. See, my soul, how much work is here cut out for thee, and yet these are but the beginnings of the virtue of humility.

Consider 3rdly, that to proceed in the practice of humility we must not content ourselves with the not seeking, nor affecting, nor taking any complacency in the praise, honour, and esteem of others, but rather shunning and flying from it; but, moreover, we must put off all self-esteem, and learn to despise ourselves from our hearts; and not to leave off till, according to the gospel lesson, we can, with all simplicity and sincerity, sit down in the lowest place, by giving the preference in our own esteem to all others before ourselves, and thinking ourselves the worst of all. Then as to the sentiments of others in our regard and their treatment of us, we are to proceed in the study and practice of humility by these three steps: 1. We are to learn to suffer with meekness and patience our being despised, reproached, or affronted by others. 2. We are to learn to receive this kind of treatment with a willingness and readiness of mind, and to be pleased with our being slighted and contemned. 3. We must even learn to embrace all these kinds of humiliations with joy, and not to stop till, with the apostle, we not only are dead to the world and to all it can say, either for us or against us; but we are even glad that we should be crucified to the world and the world to us.

Conclude to continue by a diligent application of both the study and practice of these great lessons till thou become perfect in them all, and go through the whole course of this heavenly science, the science of the saints.



1st Sept.


On the eight Beatitudes, St. Matt. V

Consider first, how the Son of God, the eternal wisdom of the father, being come down from heaven to be our father, our light, and our guide, in order to reclaim us from all our errors, to dispel our darkness, to redress all our evils, and to conduct us into the way of truth and everlasting happiness, opened his heavenly school for these purposes by his divine sermon upon the mount; in the beginning of which he has laid down in a few words the principal maxims of true wisdom and all the fundamentals of Christian morality comprised in what we commonly call the eight beatitudes. Christians, we all desire to be happy for ever; and behold here the wisdom of God, which can neither deceive nor be deceived, declares to us in clear and distinct terms what it is that is to make us happy here and to conduct us safe to a happiness that shall never end. O let us embrace, then, these blessed lessons! Who would not study them well since the learning of them is to make us wise indeed, and to bring us infallibly to the very source of all wisdom and happiness - even to an eternal union with God himself? O heavenly master, who would not frequent thy divine school since, in the very first entrance into it, thou thus directest us into a plain and easy way to eternal bliss?

Consider 2ndly, that the ancient philosophers, with all their pretensions to wisdom, were strangely in the dark with regard to man's true happiness, his last end, and his sovereign good, about which they ran into many errors; and not one of them all ever came near the truth. And, as they knew not the end, so were they also strangers to the true means that were to bring us to this end. They never once imagined that to be poor in spirit, to be meek, to morn, to suffer persecution, & c., was the way to happiness, much less did they suspect that such as these alone were actually happy. This was a doctrine never heard of in their schools. This was a lesson that was to be taught by the Son of God. This truth he brought down with him from heaven, and delivered to his disciples in his first divine sermon. O my soul, let us embrace with all our affections these divine truths, taught us by so great a master; let us be practically convinced of them, and conform ourselves to them in the whole conduct of our lives.

Consider 3rdly, how miserable are all the children of Babylon, that is, all poor deluded worldlings, who under the name of Christians, whilst they profess themselves followers and disciples of this divine master, take no notice of these lessons which he came from heaven to teach, but live on in an affected ignorance of them; so as to apprehend all those to be miserable whom he pronounces blessed, and those alone to be happy, who wallow in riches and sensual pleasures, whom he declares to be miserable, and against whom he pronounces his woe. And do such people as these believe the gospel indeed? whilst they pretend to seek for happiness in the very way which (if the gospel be true) must needs betray them into many errors, labours, and sorrows here, and shortly conduct them into endless misery. O let us at least be more wise! Let us open our eyes to this great light, which is come down from heaven, to shine upon them that before sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. Let us believe and adhere to this great teacher, who has the words of eternal life. Let us follow him and we shall not fail, under his conduct, to find the true way to solid happiness and eternal life.

Conclude to be ever thankful to the Son of God for all these great gospel truths which he has brought us down from heaven, in order to set loose our souls from the earth, and so to carry us up to heaven. O! if we desire to fly up to this happy region of pure and immortal joys, it must be with the wings of these virtues that are recommended to us in these eight beatitudes.



2nd Sept.



Consider first, that the first of the eight beatitudes is expressed in these words: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,' Matt. v. 2. This beatitude or happiness, which brings with it a title to the kingdom of heaven, belongs in the first place to them that are poor by condition and in effect, Luke vi. 20, provided they be contented with their poverty, and cordially embrace it as the beloved companion and favourite of Christ and his saints. The Son of God came down from heaven to seek poverty upon earth: he was born in poverty, he lived in poverty, and he died in poverty, and shall we, my soul, disdain, shall we fly and abhor what the wisdom of God made choice of for him and his? especially since he has declared, that to be poor here is the true way to be rich hereafter, and that the men of riches, who have their consolation here, after they have slept out their short sleep, shall find their hands empty; whilst the poor, after their short sufferings, shall be admitted to the immense treasures of a happy eternity.

Consider 2ndly, that this beatitude belongs in the second place to them that are poor in affection; that is, who set not their heart on their worldly wealth, but are in readiness of mind to part with their riches, whenever God shall call for all, or any part of them; and in effect, willingly resign them up, when he by any occasion is pleased to take them away: as also to all such as are poor by choice, for the love of Christ, who, when they understand such to be the will of God, actually relinquish all they have to follow him. In fine, to all such as have their affections disengaged from all perishable things; from all worldly honours, possessions and pleasures; from all that is earthly and temporal; in a word, form all that is not God; for such as these, and only such as these, are in a proper disposition to fly up to the kingdom of heaven. There is no flying thither as long as we are tied down by affection to any thing upon earth. O who will give me the wings of a dove, that is, of simplicity and purity in all my intentions and affections, that being let loose from this wretched earth by this true poverty of spirit, I may fly up freely to my God, and eternally repose in him!

Consider 3rdly, that this beatitude belongs in a particular manner to the humble; for such as they are truly poor in spirit; for such as they have not their spirit puffed up with windy pride, nor with any conceit of any ability of their own; like him to whom it is said, Apoc. iii. 17. 'Thou sayest, I am rich and made wealthy, and I have need of nothing, and thou knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked:' nor are they high-spirited or high-minded - which is being rich in spirit - but are poor, mean, little in their own eyes, and therefore exalted by God: who to such little ones as these gives his grace in this world, and his heavenly kingdom in the next. O teach us, dear Lord, to be thus poor in spirit; teach us to be little and humble.

Conclude to begin thy study of true wisdom by applying thyself to learn well this first lesson of poverty of spirit; especially since thy great master expects, and requires of all his disciples that they should enter into his school with a disengagement of their heart and affection at least from every thing else - that they should leave all to follow him.



3rd Sept.



Consider first, that after poverty of spirit, in the next place meekness is recommended to us, as the true road to everlasting happiness: 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.' These two virtues of poverty of spirit and meekness are nearly allied to each other, they go hand-in-hand. Our Lord joins them both together, and expects we should learn them both from him, Matt. xi., when he calls upon us all 'to take his yoke upon us, and to learn of him, because he is meek and humble of heart.' But what will he give us, do you think, if we learn to imitate his meekness? O! he assures us, that we shall find in the exercise of this virtue refreshment, rest, and peace for our souls here, and shall inherit the land of the living hereafter. Happy portion of meek souls, even the possession of the Lord of life himself, in the land of the living! Christians, who would not embrace this lovely virtue, which brings with it a calm serenity and tranquillity of soul even during our pilgrimage through the region of the dying, and secures to us, in our true country, the eternal repose and life of the saints?

Consider 2ndly, what this meekness is which is entitled to this beatitude. Meekness is a virtue which restrains all anger and passion; which suppresses the swellings of the heart, under real or imaginary provocations or injuries; which stills and tumults of the soul on all these occasions; keeps in all heat or violence of words; and allows no thoughts to the soul of any other than that truly Christian revenge of overcoming evil with good. Such was the practice of the Lamb of God, both in life and death; of whom it was written, Isaia xlii. and Matt. xii., 'He shall not contend nor cry out, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets: the bruised reed he shall not break, and smoking flax he shall not extinguish,' &c. 'He shall not be sad nor troublesome.' and 1 Pet. ii. 23, 'When he was reviled, he did not revile; when he suffered, he threatened not; but delivered himself to him that judged him unjustly.' Now 'tis this meekness, this sweet, mild, gentle behaviour, this evenness of soul, joined with courtesy in words, and affability to the little and to the poor, as much as to the great and to the rich, when joined with true humility of heart, makes up the proper and distinctive livery of the true servants and followers of Jesus Christ; which if we do not all endeavour to put on, he will not own us for his. It was this made up the amiable character of the primitive Christians. The sweet odour of these truly Christian virtues attracted thousands in those days to the faith of Jesus Christ; and will be found at all times more effectual, in order to the conversion of souls, that the strongest arguments or even miracles, if not recommended by meekness and humility. O let us embrace these lovely virtues! 'My son,' (says the spirit of God,) 'do thy works in meekness, and thou shalt be beloved above the glory of men,' Ecclus. iii. 19.

Consider 3rdly, what we must do that we may effectually learn to be meek, and may obtain a complete victory over anger and passion, and all that train of evils, which are the usual attendants, or consequences, of anger and passion. First, We must watch. 2ndly, We must pray. 3rdly, We must fight. We must watch over our own hearts, that we may not be surprised by the sudden motions of anger, and hurried away before we are aware; we must forecast the occasions, in which we may meet with temptations or provocations, that we may be prepared for them and armed against them. We must upon all occasions pray, with all the fervour of our souls, for the divine assistance against so dangerous an evil as passion, as being a capital enemy of charity, the queen of virtues; we must often lament our misery in this kind, at the feet of the Lamb of God, and sue for redress, by the intercession of the blessed virgin, and of all the saints; we must for this purpose frequent the sacraments, the sources of heavenly grace. We must fight, by diligently suppressing the first motions of wrath: we must be convinced that no man upon earth, nor all the men upon earth, no nor all the devils in hell, with all their malice, can do us half so much harm as we do ourselves by venting our passions, and seeking revenge; and therefore we must resolve to fight till death, with the best arms we are able, against this wicked passion, as an enemy which is continually seeking to betray our souls to Satan.

Conclude to spare no pains that thou mayest effectually learn of Jesus Christ to be meek and humble of heart. There is no other way to peace here, nor to heaven hereafter.



4th Sept


Consider first, those words of our Lord, in the third beatitude; 'Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.' And reflect how widely distant are all the maxims and notions of worldlings with relation to a happy life, from the doctrine of this beatitude, which is the doctrine of truth. The children of this world imagine that mirth, and jollity, and pastimes, and worldly pleasures, are the chief ingredients of a happy life; and that such as laugh now are much more happy, than such as weep and mourn. But they are certainly deceived: for he that cannot err, has pronounced a woe, (implying the worst of miseries,) against them that laugh now, 'for they shall mourn,' (saith he, 'and weep,' Luke vi. 25; whilst on the other hand he has declared them happy, that now weep and mourn. And the holy Spirit long before has told us, by the wisest of men, Eccl. ii. 2. 'Laughter I have counted error, and to mirth I have said, why art thou vainly deceived?' and again, Eccl. vii. 5: 'The heart of the wise is where there is mourning, and the heart of fools where there is mirth.' O let us then mourn now with the wise and with the saints, that we may rejoice with them for ever.

Consider 2ndly, what kind of mourning is here recommended in this beatitude. Not worldly sadness of which it is written, Eccles. xxx. 25, 'Sadness hath killed many, and there is no profit in it;' and 2 Cor vii. 10, 'The sorrow of this world worketh death.' Not a sullen melancholy, or any such mourning as is turbulent, or accompanied with the impatient wishes for death, or anxious solicitudes or despondency; but a more calm and peaceful mourning, viz., of compunction for our sins, daily bewailing them in the sight of God, and doing penance for them; of compassion for our neighbours, lamenting their miseries and the dismal havoc that sin is continually making amongst souls; of condolence with Jesus Christ for the outrages he daily receives from impenitent sinners, who are continually crucifying him by their wicked lives; in fine, of devotion in consideration of our long and wretched banishment, our great distance from our true country in the midst of wars and dangers, and no security but in continual watching, praying, and labouring to work out our salvation with fear and trembling; of our absence from God our sovereign good, who alone can satisfy our souls; and therefore daily mourning for the length of our sojourning in this Babylon, with longing desires after our heavenly Zion. Happy they that are always mourning in this manner!

Consider 3rdly, what the reward is that is here promised to them that mourn, 'They shall be comforted,' saith the Lord. Yea, they shall be comforted, even in this life, with the sweet visitations and grace of the Spirit of God, the true comforter of souls - with the satisfaction and peace of a good conscience, and with the experience of the inconceivable sweetness that is found in the love of God - one hour of which is capable of affording more solid pleasure and delight to the soul than many years of worldly enjoyment. And in the life to come they shall be comforted without measure or end, where 'they shall be eternally inebriated with the plenty of God's house, and shall be made to drink of the torrent of his pleasure,' at the very head 'of the fountain of life,' Ps xxxv. 9, 10, the streams of which afford immortal joys to the whole city of God above. O when shall we, my soul, be so happy as to drink at this fountain!

Conclude to make it thy choice to mourn now that thou mayest rejoice for ever. Remember, that 'they that sow in tears shall reap in joy,' Ps. cxxv. 5. As on the other side, the children of the Babylon of this world, who seek their delight and comfort here, must expect hereafter to fall under that sentence of Babylon, pronounced Apoc. xviii. 7, 'As much as she hath glorified herself, and hath been in delicacies, so much sorrow give ye to her.'



5th Sept.


On hungering and thirsting after justice

Consider first, the words of the fourth beatitude: 'Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall have their fill.' O happy hunger and thirst, which brings the soul to the possession of all true justice, virtue, and perfection, and to a blessed union with the very fountain of justice, which is God himself! Reflect, my soul, how the desire to be good is indeed the beginning of all good; the desire of wisdom, according to the Scripture, is the beginning of wisdom; the desire of the love of God, is the beginning of the love of God; and so of all other virtues. But then this desire must not be a half desire, like that of the sluggard, or whom the wise man says, that 'he willeth and he willeth not,' Prov. xiii. 4; but a full and earnest desire. And when this desire is strong and perseverant, when it grows to vehement hunger and thirst after divine love and after all true justice and Christian perfection, it then sets the soul upon seeking diligently, praying heartily, knocking earnestly, at the gate of divine mercy, and employing all possible means to procure the satisfying of this hunger and thirst; and thus it easily overcomes all obstacles, and never leaves off its pursuit till it has obtained what it so earnestly seeks and desires. O happy souls that hunger and thirst in this manner!

Consider 2ndly, more in particular, what it is we are to hunger and thirst after, in order to be entitled to this beatitude. The justice of God in ourselves; the justice of God in our neighbours; the justice of God in himself. We hunger and thirst after the justice of God in ourselves when we earnestly seek and desire that we may, by the grace of God, fulfil all justice; that we may acquit ourselves of every branch of our duty; and that the love of God may take full possession of our souls, both for time and eternity. We hunger and thirst after the justice of God in our neighbours when we earnestly desire, and, as much as lies in us, seek and procure that all others may know, love, and serve God, and be eternally his. We hunger and thirst after the justice of God, in himself, when we are in love with his own infinite goodness, as it is in itself; with the beauty of his divine attributes, with his greater glory in all things; and with the perfect accomplishment of his holy will. Such was the hunger and thirst after justice that our Lord himself had here upon earth, who says of himself, St. John iv. 34, 'My meat is to do the will of him that sent me.' My soul, have we any share in this blessed hunger and thirst? Or do we not rather loathe this heavenly food, and only hunger after the fleshpots of Egypt, and thirst for muddy waters, drawn out of broken cisterns. which can never satisfy us?

Consider 3rdly, the reward here promised to them that hunger and thirst after justice: 'they shall have their fill,' saith the Lord; their fill here of divine grace, of true devotion, of heavenly charity, of all Christian virtues, of a store of good works, and the fruits of the Holy Ghost; in a word, of that justice which they hunger and thirst after: and hereafter they shall be still more happily filled with the beatific vision and the eternal enjoyment of God himself, the only true and sovereign good, which alone can satisfy the heart of man - according to that of the psalmist, Ps. xvi. 15, 'I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear.'Here they shall be filled with the grace of God, raining down upon them from the great ocean above: hereafter they shall be drowned in that immense ocean of the deity, where they shall be brimful of God for all eternity.

Conclude to direct thy appetite towards 'the good things of the Lord, in the land of the living;' and in the mean time towards the fulfilling of all his justice. But O! take care not to be depraved with the false sweet of worldly, sensual, and carnal pleasures! These will take away from thee all relish for the things of God; they will never fill thee or satisfy thee themselves; nor suffer thee to taste, either in time or eternity, how sweet is the Lord.



6th Sept.


Corporal Works of Mercy


Consider first, the words of the fifth beatitude: 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy;' and reflect on the necessity we continually lie under of the mercy of God, and how easy a means our Lord has here furnished us with for obtaining this mercy. All our good must come from God; and, as we have rendered ourselves absolutely unworthy of any good at all by our sins we can allege nothing for ourselves, but can only appeal to the divine mercy, that he may give us the graces we have not deserved, and forgive us the punishments we have deserved and the sins by which we have deserved them. So that the finding mercy with God is all in all; and the means of finding this mercy is to show mercy to one another. 'Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. Give, and it shall be given to you,' Luke vi. 37, 38. O how lovely, how beautiful, how beneficial, both for time and eternity, is this virtue of mercy! How sweet are all her fruits! She is the favourite of heaven; and makes all her lovers favourites of heaven; she is the eldest daughter of the great king, (whose mercy distinguishes itself, and shines most brightly over all his works;) she shows herself to all them that seek her; she carries them home with her to her father's house, even to the sacred mansions of a happy eternity.

Consider 2ndly, the divers ways of showing mercy that are recommended to us by the word of God. Such are, first, the works of mercy corporal, by almsdeeds; by feeding and clothing any of the poor members of Jesus Christ; by visiting and relieving the sick or imprisoned, &c. Such works as these, according to the scripture, Tob. xii. 9, 'deliver from death; they purge away sins, and make us find mercy and life everlasting.' 'Such works as these entitle us to an eternal kingdom,' Matt. xxv. 34, 35. 2ndly, The works of mercy spiritual, by assisting or relieving our neighbours in their spiritual necessities, by giving them good counsel or instruction; by comforting them under their afflictions; by encouraging them in temptations; but especially by reclaiming them from their errors and vices, and by that means delivering their souls from the second and everlasting death; and putting them in the right way of coming to live for ever with the ever-living God. O how acceptable to God - how precious in his sight are these spiritual works of mercy! The Son of God came down from heaven to exercise these kinds of works upon earth; in these he employed the days of his mortal life. O let us be glad to follow this great example as far as our weakness will allow us!

Consider 3rdly, the reward that is here promised to the merciful, viz., that they shall obtain mercy; and that both here, as well temporally as spiritually, by having their own wants redressed and their sins forgiven them, and hereafter by their being received into everlasting dwellings by those to whom they had here shown mercy, and finding there the fruit of all the seed of the works of mercy they had here sown multiplied a hundredfold. Alas! how wretched shall the best of us be if God does not show us mercy! For who can stand the judgment of God if his mercy be set aside? How happy, then, are they who, by being merciful to one another, ensure to themselves the mercy of God, to stand by them in the time of need. But, on the other hand, how unhappy are they who refuse to show mercy to their neighbours! For 'judgment without mercy to them that have not done mercy,' saith St. James ii. 13.

Conclude to be ever merciful to thy neighbours, that thou mayest find mercy with God. For 'with the same measure you shall mete withal it shall be measured to you again,' Luke vi. 38; yea, with infinite advantage, according to that of the same gospel: 'good measure, and pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall they give into your bosom' ibid.




7th Sept.



Consider first, the words of the sixth beatitude, 'Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.' God is not to be seen by the eyes of the body, but only by the eyes of the heart, that is, by the interior eyes of the soul. Now, as the bodily eyes, in order to contemplate their proper objects must be clean, (for if any speck interpose itself and cover the sight, the object cannot be seen,) so the interior eye of the soul, in order to see God, must be clean; the sight must not be covered with any speck of earthly dirt, that is, with any disorderly affection to any thing in this world. This cleanness of the inward eye requires two things, viz., simplicity in the intention, purity in the affection: with these two wings, a man is lifted up above the things of the earth: simplicity aims at God alone; purity takes hold of him, embraces him and adheres to him. 'Seek God,' says the wise man, 'in simplicity of heart,' Wisd. i. 1: that is in the uprightness and sincerity of a single heart, of a heart free from all double-dealing, and all the guile of an artful selfseeking, instead of seeking God. Let the eye of the intention be simple, that is single and sincere, and truly directed to God; and then the whole body of the actions shall be lightsome, - Matt. vi. 22. Let God be the great object of thy love, so as to admit of no affection that takes off thy heart from him: and thy heart will be truly pure and clean, and qualified to contemplate and embrace God.

Consider 2ndly, the degrees by which we are to ascend to this perfect purity and cleanness of heart. The first, and most necessary purgation, is from all mortal sin, and from the affections to it. For the heart that voluntarily admits of the affection to mortal sin, (whether it be the sin of impurity or any other vice,) is absolutely unclean, and is possessed by an unclean spirit, and therefore can have no share in God. The second purgation goes farther, and not only settles the soul in a fixed determination never to consent upon any account, not even in thought, to any one mortal sin, but also cleanses the heart from all wilful affections to venial sin, and fixes her in a resolution, never with a full deliberation to commit a known venial sin; much less, to indulge any habit or custom of any such sin. All these sins, when fully deliberate, are so many spots and stains, which strangely disfigure the beauty of the soul, make her unworthy of the embraces of her heavenly spouse, and darken the eye of the heart, so as to disqualify it for the seeing of God. And therefore such spots and stains as these must be purged away if we would be truly clean of heart.

Consider 3rdly, that in order to be perfectly clean of heart, the heart must also be purged from all affection to worldly honours, riches, and pleasures; from all disorderly love of the creature, to the prejudice of the love of the creator; and from every affection that takes off any part of the heart from God: which indeed is always the case when we love any person or thing which we don't love for God's sake, or with a due subordination to the love of God. Whatsoever love cannot stand this test is more or less an unclean love; it divides the heart; it makes the heart unclean; it sullies its purity; and disqualifies it for the seeing of God. O see then, my soul what an evil it is to suffer any irregular affection to possess thy heart; since it hinders thee from so great a good, even the sight of God, the only true and sovereign good!

Conclude to be ever jealous of the purity of thy heart; labour daily to purge it more and more, not only from all wilful sin, but also from every earthly affection that can any way sully it, or overcloud its inward sight, with the exhalations that are aways arising from sensual and worldly love.



8th Sept.


On the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin

Consider first, that on this day the church devoutly celebrates the birth-day of the great queen that brought forth to us the king of heaven, our Lord, and Saviour Jesus Christ, the source of all our good. This birth of hers was like the first dawning of that happy day, which the Son of God the true Son of Justice, brought us from heaven, in the light of which if we duly walk, during our mortal pilgrimage, we shall come securely to that blessed day which knows no night. On this festival of the blessed Virgin, mother of God, we ought, in the first place to praise and bless God, and to give him thanks for all his graces bestowed upon her; by which he prepared her soul and body, from her very conception, to be a worthy dwelling for his Son, holy and without spot or blemish: 2ndly, to honour him in this blessed virgin, and to rejoice in all the wonders of his power, goodness, and mercy, by which he paved the way for our redemption: 3rdly, to show a true and solid devotion to our blessed Lady, by an earnest application to her for her prayers and intercession, and a zealous imitation of her virtues.

Consider 2ndly, the grounds which all good Christians have, and always had, to be devout to the blessed Virgin: as we find in every age the more eminent any persons have been in the love of Jesus Christ, the more devoted they have also been to his blessed mother; verifying by their practice, in this regard, that prophecy of hers, St. Luke i., 'that all generations should call her blessed.' These grounds may be reduced to three heads - her dignity, her sanctity, and her elevation of glory: - 1. Her supereminent dignity of mother of God; the nearest alliance which any pure creature can have with him. and how can we love him, and not love his mother? 2. Her supereminent sanctity: 'for she was full of divine grace, even before she conceived,' St. Luke i. 26; how much more after carrying in her womb for nine months the source of all grace and sanctity? And what shall we say of the thirty years she had him always before her eyes, and still more in her heart; and of all the remaining space of her life, during which she was continually growing in grace; God on his part never ceasing to bestow, with a most bountiful hand, and she on her part never receiving his grace in vain, but ever corresponding and co-operating with it; and by this means continually drawing down new blessings? 3. Her supereminent elevation in the eternal glory of heaven, in proportion to the supereminent grace and sanctity to which she arrived here upon earth, (as the one is always the measure of the other,) and the interest she has with her divine Son, in consequence thereof. See, my soul, how many and how pressing motives thou hast to be devout to this blessed Lady.

Consider 3rdly, that as God is the sole author, and the original source of all the dignity, sanctity, and glory which we honour in the blessed Virgin; so all the veneration, which the catholic church pays to this blessed lady, has God both for its beginning and its end. Our devotion to her proceeds from the love we bear her son: we honour in her his gifts and graces: we love and honour her for his sake, and all the extraordinary respect we at any time show to her, we refer to his greater glory. So far then from robbing God of any part of his honour, by the veneration we give her, we honour him indeed so much the more, because all this our devotion finally tends to him, and terminates in him. and thus we always find, that such as are truly devout to the blessed virgin, fail not to be also true lovers of God, and pursuers of all good works.

Conclude to embrace this devotion to our blessed Lady as an excellent means to advance thee in all good; but do not imagine thyself to be truly devout to her, if thou art no ways solicitous to imitate her virtues. True devotion loves, esteems, and honours in her that which God loves, esteems, and honours, viz., her virtues and sanctity. And how can we better show our love, esteem,and honour for virtue and sanctity than by labouring to imitate them?