Today's contemplation


19th Oct.



Consider first, that anger, in the sense in which it is numbered amongst the capital sins, is an inordinate love or desire of revenge, and is a mortal sin, as often as the evil it wishes, or the vengeance or punishment it pretends to take, is considerably contrary either to justice or to Christian charity; that is, to that love we owe to every neighbour, by the law of Christ, even to our greatest enemies. Our anger, or desire of revenge, is contrary to justice whenever the person we are angry with has not deserved the punishment we desire to inflict; or, though he has deserved it, if we do not observe the order of justice; but make ourselves both judges and executioners too, by taking revenge for ourselves, by our own private authority, which is never allowable. Our anger and desire of revenge is contrary to fraternal charity; when, let the cause be ever so just, we prosecute or punish the offender, not out of the love of justice, but out of hatred or ill-will to the person; or merely to gratify a disorderly passion - in such cases as these our anger and revenge are criminal, because it strikes at one or both of those principal virtues of justice and charity; and where either of these is grievously wounded, there is no soundness in the soul.

Consider 2ndly, that anger, passion, and desire of revenge, when deliberately consented to, are also infinitely opposite to those other favourite virtues of Jesus Christ, meekness, humility, mercy, peace, patience, long-suffering, renouncing our own will, bearing the cross, and the like; which are all of them strongly recommended in his gospel, and jointly make up the amiable character of his disciples. These are the livery of his servants, by which he expects they should be known and distinguished. These we are to learn of him, Matt. xi. 20. If we do not endeavour seriously to study and practise these lessons, he will not own us for his disciples; if we do not wear his livery, he will not acknowledge us for his servants. But O! how irreconcilable is this passion of anger, when it reigns in the soul, with every one of these Christian virtues! It directly destroys all meekness, and consequently humility, its individual companion; for anger generally springs from pride and self-love; it is a stranger to mercy, according to that of Solomon, Prov. xxvii. 4. Anger hath no mercy; it is even a short madness, that is capable, for the time it lasts, of inflicting the worst of evils, or desiring the worst of judgments: it breaks peace both with God and our neighbour, and banishes it from our own souls; it is the mortal enemy of patience and long-suffering, for it will endure to suffer nothing; much less will it admit of the renouncing of our own will, or of our submitting to take up the cross: because these are virtues that strike at its very root, and destroy it wherever they meet with it, and therefore it cannot endure them. And shalt thou, my soul, any longer indulge a passion that robs thee at once of all these lovely virtues; and instead of a servant and a disciple, makes thee an enemy of Jesus Christ?

Consider 3rdly, what a train of other evils and sins usually accompany or follow this passion of anger; what oaths, curses, and blasphemies; what affronts, reproaches, and injuries; what quarrels, strife, and brawls; yea, sometimes bloodshed and murder too; what malice hatred, and revenge; besides the scandal that is given those we are angry with; the robbing them not only of their peace, but also of the grace of God, by provoking them to sin, as one fire is apt to enkindle or nourish another; not to speak of many other sad effects of this vice, which is frequently pernicious to the health of the body as well as that of the soul, and makes them that are slaves to it insupportable both to themselves and to all that have any dealings with them. O my soul, let us ever detest this infernal fury which daily produces so much mischief in the world, to the eternal damnation of innumerable souls.

Conclude to give ear to the heavenly lessons against anger and revenge, so often inculcated in Holy Writ - to learn them well, and to follow them in practice, Rom. xii. 17, &c., 'Render to no man evil for evil; if it be possible, as much as in you, have peace with all men. Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved, but give place of wrath; for it is written, revenge is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat,' &c. 'Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good,' Eph. iv. 24, 26, &c. 'Put on the new man,' &c. 'Let not the sun set upon your anger; let all bitterness, and anger, and indignation, and clamour, and blasphemy, be put away from you, with all malice; and be ye kind to one another,' &c. Gal. v. 19. 'The works of the flesh are manifest; enmities, contentions, emulations, wrath, quarrels, dissensions,' &c. 'Of which I foretell you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness,' &c. O how happy are those souls in whom the Spirit of God produces these fruits! But how miserable are they in whom the opposite spirit brings forth those other dead works of the flesh, the end of which is the second death!




20th Oct.


On remedies againt the vice of anger

Consider first, that in order to subdue the passion of anger, and to keep it within the bounds fixed by the divine law, we must watch, we must pray, and we must fight against it. But to the end we may be quite in earnest in this warfare, we must, in the first place, be thoroughly convinced how dangerous an enemy we have to deal with; that our all is here at stake; and that, if we suffer this tyrant to hold the dominion in our souls, neither the gift of tongues, nor prophecy, nor knowledge, nor faith, though strong enough to move mountains or to raise the dead to life, nor giving our whole substance to the poor, nor our bodies to the flames, will ever bring us to Jesus Christ. Because, as long as we refuse to take up his yoke upon us, by denying ourselves, and learning of him to be meek and humble of heart, we are none of his, for we have not his spirit. And therefore he will declare to us, 'depart from me, ye workers of iniquity.' O ye slaves to anger and revenge, have you ever well considered this? O, how is it possible that so many thousands that pretend to believe the gospel, and that expect to be saved by it, should be so indifferent about the subduing this mortal enemy to the spirit of the gospel and to the salvation of their souls?

Consider 2ndly, more in particular, those three prescriptions against this passion, viz., watching, praying, and fighting. First, we must watch the motions of this enemy, whose attacks are the most dangerous when they are sudden and unforeseen: and therefore we must forecast, for example, in the morning the occasions in which we may be likely to meet with provocations or temptations; that so we may either decline them, or at least prepare and arm ourselves against them. Secondly, we must pray, with all the fervour and earnestness of our soul, for the victory which God alone can give; and we must pray with an humble distrust in ourselves, and an entire confidence in God, through the merits of the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the great pattern of meekness, patience, and humility. Thirdly, we must fight - by resisting without delay the first assault of the enemy; by calling in all the powers of the soul to still the storm that begins to arise; by running to the embraces of the cross; by turning away from the temptation, and going out of the company, or at least by keeping silence till the commotion is over, or answering nothing but with sweetness and meekness.

Consider 3rdly, that in order to overcome this passion, we must also learn to despise and humble ourselves: for anger usually proceeds from an unhappy pride, which makes us ever unwilling to be thwarted, or contradicted, or opposed by any one; and therefore makes us swell with indignation, and fly at them that oppose us, and seek to revenge every little slight we receive, either in word or deed. Alas! if we did but know ourselves, and what poor wretches indeed we are, and what we have deserved by our sins, there would be no room left for our being angry with any person for either slighting or offending us; who, by our having so often, and so grievously offended our creator, have justly deserved that all his creatures should rise up against us, and revenge his cause upon us, and that they should both despise us and abhor us.

Conclude to make use of all these remedies against this unhappy passion and never to make any truce with it till thou hast brought it under; otherwise it will fill thee with sin, and will never suffer either peace or grace to abide in thy soul.

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21st Oct.



Consider first, that another capital enemy of the soul is the vice of intemperance; that is, of immoderation or excess in eating or drinking, which is a mortal sin, as often as it exposes a person to the danger of a considerable prejudice, either in his soul or body, health or reason; or when it shortens his days, as it frequently happens, like a slow poison, though the effects of it are not immediately perceived: and in general, when, for the sake of the pleasure in eating or drinking, a person does not scruple to transgress the commandments of God or the church: or otherwise set his affections so much upon gratifying his sensual appetite, as to make this the study and business of his life; like those of whom the apostle says, Phil. iii., 'that they make a god of their belly;' and of whom he pronounces with tears, that ''they are enemies of the cross of Christ, and that their end is destruction.' O how true it is that the vice of intemperance is absolutely irreconcilable with the spirit of Christianity, and with that penitential and mortified life which is enjoined by the gospel as the narrow way that leads to everlasting life. O, it is an enemy indeed to the cross of Christ.

Consider 2ndly, the innumerable evils of every kind that are the daily consequences of sins of intemperance. How they change men into brutes; rob them of their reason;; destroy their health; bring upon them a variety of diseases; shorten their lives; consume their substance; disturb the peace of their families; withdraw from their wives and children their necessary subsistence; give scandal and bad example to their neighbours; foment their passions and lusts; enslave them to their sensual inclinations; make them unfit for prayer and other spiritual exercises, and quite dull and insensible to the things of God: in a word, how they shut the gate against the grace of God and all that is good, and open it to all that is evil. The consequence of which is, that these sins, when indulged and once come to a habit, are most difficult of all to be cured; and too often, not to say generally, follow men to their graves, and plunge their impenitent souls into those flames, where, with the rich glutton, (Luke xvi.,) they shall hunger and thirst for all eternity, and never obtain the least refreshment.

Consider 3rdly, in what manner the Holy Ghost declares himself against the vice of intemperance in the word of God. 'Who hath woe?' saith Solomon, Prov. xxiii. 29, 30, 'Whose father hath woe? Who hath contentions? Who falls into pits? Who hath wounds without cause, & c. Surely they that pass their time in wine, and study to drink off their cups.' Ecclus. xix. 2, 'Wine and women make wise men fall away, & c.' Isaias v. 22, 'Woe to you that are mighty to drink wine and stout men at drunkenness'. St. Luke xxi. 34, 'Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and that day come upon you suddenly.' Rom. xiii. 12, 13, 'Let us cast off the works of darkness,' & c. 'Walk honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness', & c. I Cor. vi. 9, 10, 'Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor drunkards, & c., shall possess the kingdom of God.' Gal. v. 19 & c., 'The words of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God.' O see, ye gluttons and drunkards, enemies of the cross of Christ, where your portion is like to be, since you have no share in the kingdom of God.

Conclude to meditate well upon these scripture truths, and these dreadful woes pronounced against intemperance; and never be so foolish and mad as to see thy birthright in God's eternal kingdom, with all the ravishing joys of his heavenly banquet, for so mean, so unworthy, so hasty a thing as the gratifying for a moment thy sensual appetite.




22nd Oct.

St. Ephraem

On prescriptions against intemperance

Consider first, that in order to overcome the vice of intemperance, one of the first and most necessary prescriptions is to fly the occasions of it, and to keep as much as possible at a distance from the danger which is always at hand, in the revellings or drinking hours of worldlings, and ought always to be apprehended in such places and companies where excess is promoted and encouraged by common practice and example. Let not him that has already experienced his own weakness, by falling into sin on such occasions, venture himself any more there. The burnt child ought to dread the fire. Much less should he that has unhappily contracted a habit of intemperance expose himself to such places or companies, whatever the consequence of his refusal may be; he will never get the better of that pernicious habit as long as he frequents such places and such company. Let no man here deceive himself with pretexts of civility or necessity - his soul is at stake, eternity is at stake. O let him not risk his all for fear of displeasing drunken companions. The plague is amongst them; let him fly far away from the infection. The devil is amongst them; there is death in their cups, a mortal poison that reaches even to the soul. Hell is following them close at the heels; let him keep off from them, lest he be also involved in their destruction.

Consider 2ndly, that the arms which are to be employed against the vice of intemperance are particularly prayer and mortification. Fervent prayer, frequently repeated, draws down the powerful assistance of God's grace, without which this evil, which is too natural to our corruption, is not to be overcome. And mortification disarms the enemy, by restraining the sensual appetite and bringing it into due order and subjection. Every Christian as such, ought to aim at leading a mortified life, in quality of a disciple of a crucified God; he must endeavour to walk in the narrow way by a general self-denial, if he expects to arrive at true life, and would be acknowledged by his Lord and master for one of his. How much more is every sinner - if he hopes to secure to himself the remission of his sins, by being a penitent indeed, - obliged to expiate them by fasting and other mortifications, and penitential exercises? Now the putting in practice this mortification and penance, which is so general a duty, will effectually deliver us from the tyranny of intemperance, and even cut off all the approaches of this enemy. O let us embrace then this happy means of gaining a complete victory over this mortal evil and all its wretched train of sins.

Consider 3rdly, that the most sovereign means of all for subduing intemperance, and indeed all other vices, is a daily application of the soul to the study of true wisdom, by the exercise of recollection and mental prayer, and the contemplation of heavenly truths. This helps the soul to another kind of appetite, which will grow daily upon her for the things of God, and give her a loathing and disgust for all sensual and carnal satisfactions. The relish of truth, the sweet savour of the heavenly manna, found in the conversation with God in our interior; the consideration and meditation on his eternal feast, where he shall inebriate his guests with the never-failing plenty of his house, and make them drink of the torrent of his pleasure, at the very head of the fountain of life, which is with him is sufficiently abundant to wean the soul that accustoms herself to this kind of diet from all sensual affections, and to give her an effectual and eternal abhorrence for all those husks of swine that keep earthly-minded Christians both from the table and from the kingdom of their heavenly Father.

Conclude to follow these prescriptions, if thou wouldst effectually be preserved from, or cured of, this mortal disease of intemperance. Even in thy ordinary meals and necessary refreshments let not sensuality hurry thee away to indulge thyself in eating and drinking, merely for the pleasure of it, but take that necessary support of nature with a pure intention, in obedience to the will of God, as a medicine for the preserving of thy health, and season it with the remembrance of the gall and vinegar of thy Saviour.



23rd Oct.


Consider first, that envy is a repining or an uneasiness of mind at another's good; which the envious man conceives to be an evil to himself, as lessening or obscuring his glory, or the esteem and excellence which he aims at. So that envy, though commonly reckoned among the capital sins, because of the many other crimes that spring from it, is indeed a daughter of pride and, generally speaking, bears her company, and keeps close to this her unhappy mother. 'The proud,' as St. Augustine takes notice 'through the love they have of their own excelling, envy them that are their equals, because they come up to them; their inferiors, from an apprehension they should become their equals; and them that are superior to them, because they cannot equal them' This envy, like her mother, is a mortal sin of the spiritual kind, which makes a dreadful havoc in the soul; and yet, too often, is scarce taken notice of by the unthinking children of the world. Christians, look well into yourselves that this devouring serpent may have no lurking hole in your interior, there to prey upon the vitals of your soul. Watch and pray continually against it.

Consider 2ndly, that the malignity of envy proceeds from its direct opposition to charity, the queen of all virtues. For charity is a joy in the glory of God, and in the good of our neighbours; whereas envy grieves at both the one and the other. God ought to be glorified for all his gifts and graces, which with a bountiful hand he so plentifully bestows upon his creatures. Now the envious man, instead of giving glory to God on those occasions, is grieved at his goodness, and would willingly, if he could, stop the channel of his divine bounties; and can there be a greater perversity? Again, the love that we owe to our neighbours, by Christian charity, requires that we should consider their good as our own, since we are to love them as ourselves; and thus the good Christian meets with daily occasions of satisfaction and joy in every good thing that befalls any one of his neighbours, because the charity he has for them makes him consider them all as his dear friends and brethren in Christ. But envy grieves where charity rejoices, and makes its slaves every day more and more miserable by giving them fresh sadness and pain, as often as they see or hear of any advantage of their neighbours. And is not this again a strange perversity, to prefer sadness before joy, and all the gnawings and gripings of envy before the sweets of charity? But how true it is that sin can never escape unpunished, since every vice, (but more particularly envy,) carries with it, even here, its own torment, besides the judgment of hell it will meet with hereafter. Oh! thou art just, O Lord, and thy judgment is right!

Consider 3rdly, the malignity of this vice of envy, from its hideous offspring, that is, from the innumerable crimes it gives birth to. Envy is the parent of hatred and malice. The envious are always prone to judge, censure, and condemn their neighbours; to put the worst construction on all they say or do; and daily to backbite and slander them. They are generally whisperers and tale-bearers, seeking upon every occasion to set all others against them whom they envy; they ever oppose, both by word and action, whatsoever tends to their good, and take a malicious satisfaction in all the evil that happens to them. And what mischief is there that such a disposition as this is not capable of? Oh! 'tis true that even the greatest of all crimes have often proceeded from envy. It was envy made Cain murder his brother Abel; it was envy made the brethren of Joseph sell him into Egypt; it was envy made Saul so often seek the life of David; in fine, it was through envy the Jews crucified the Son of God.

Conclude to detest this monster with all its imps, and to resist with all thy power even the first motions of it. It is a child of the devil, by which envy, death, and all other evils first came into the world, and who is continually seeking our ruin, through pure envy, without any manner of advantage to himself. O let us hate and abhor it!



24th Oct.



Consider first, that in order to subdue effectually the passion of envy, we must lay the axe to the root by a serious application of our souls to extirpate pride and vainglory, and all that unhappy self-love which gives birth to this passion, and which continually nourishes it; and to plant in its place the true knowledge of ourselves and humility. These two blessed virtues always bring along with them light and truth, and easily dispel the darkness and errors which serve for a covert for envy. Because the true knowledge of ourselves and humility clearly show how little reason we have to be either conceited of ourselves or of our own excellence; and how groundless and unjust all our pretensions are, either in the favour or esteem of others, or to any preference before others. Now this conviction makes us willing to be overlooked and despised by every one, and to sit down in the lowest place, as most suitable to our deserts, and consequently leaves no room for us to repine at any one's being esteemed or preferred before us, or having any other advantage whatsoever. And thus the light of truth, which humility communicates to the soul, effectually banishes from her this vice of envy, which delights in darkness and cannot endure the light. If then, my soul, thou wouldst be out of the reach of this hellish monster, learn to be truly humble, for an humble soul can never be envious.

Consider 2ndly, that the most sovereign remedy against envy is to labour to settle the soul in that perfect union and universal charity which the Son of God requires of us all, as absolutely necessary to our salvation and as the true test of our being his disciples. This charity directly attacks the monster wheresoever it finds it, and gives no quarter to any of its offspring. Wheresoever charity reigns, envy, hatred, malice, backbiting, and all the rest of that cursed train, immediately fly away. O blessed charity, which bringest along with thee all other virtues, and which drivest away all vices! Come thou then and take up thy eternal abode in my soul; I know that without thee I am nothing; and that whatsoever other advantages I may possess, if thou art wanting, they will avail me nothing. But all good things will come with thee. Oh! I will seek thee then without ceasing; I will prefer thee before all the treasures of the universe; I will spare no pains to find thee, nor cost to purchase thee; I will live and die in thy embraces; and thou shalt deliver me from my vices and passions, and bring me to my God. For my God is charity.

Consider 3rdly, that envy, like all other vices, is to be overcome by fervent prayer imploring the divine assistance, without which we can do nothing, and by serious considerations and meditations upon the great Christian truths, more especially such as may effectually open the eyes of the soul to see the emptiness and vanity of all these worldly toys, and of all earthly and temporal things which so suddenly vanish away, and the greatness of things eternal; that so the soul may despise and loathe these lying follies - the love of which nourishes both envy and pride - and set her heart only upon the eternal honours, riches, and pleasures of the kingdom of heaven, where envy has no access, and where the perfect charity reigns, which makes the blessed take an inexpressible delight in each other's happiness, to the great increase of their own. O thus it ought to be with all Christians, since they all aspire to this same heavenly country, the place of everlasting peace and love, and have all manner of ties to oblige them to the strictest unions and love; as they have all the same Father and mother, God and his church, are all brethren in Christ, are all redeemed by his blood, and sanctified by his spirit in baptism, and all partake of his body and blood, the sacrament of unity and love and therefore ought all to have but one heart and one soul. O what a heaven we should have upon earth, if it were so with all Christians! There would be no occasions for prescriptions against envy.

Conclude to have recourse upon all occasions to these three excellent antidotes, humility, charity, and prayer, and the subtile poison of envy will not have any force upon thee. Oh! how blind, how unhappy are they who, through envy, become evil themselves, by occasion of another's good, and are so perverse in their choice, as to prefer the bitterness and racking pains of this ice, before the pleasure and satisfaction of charity.



25th Oct.


Consider first, that spiritual sloth is a most pernicious evil, whether we consider it in a more general acceptation as a laziness of spirit, or a backwardness, negligence, and carelessness, with regard to all the things of God and Christian virtues, with a loathing and repugnance to the taking of any pains for the acquisition of them; or, as it is taken by divines, when they number it amongst the seven capital sins - a particular indisposition of the soul with regard to the love of God, opposite to the virtues of godliness, devotion, and prayer, and a loathing, as it were, of divine love in the soul. The former is a more extensive evil, an enemy to all virtues in general, by opposing them all, and a mother or nurse of all other vices, by letting them all in, and nourishing them all in the soul. The latter is particularly opposite to the divine virtue of charity, the queen of all virtues, and to the glory of God's name and his kingdom in our souls. And therefore when it is considerable in its kind, it is a great mortal sin, by reason of its direct opposition to divine love, which it banishes from the soul. And no wonder, for if it be a great crime to oppose the spiritual good of our neighbour, by envying or resisting the reign of the love of God in his soul, it must be no less criminal to withstand and oppose the coming of the kingdom of God's grace and his love into our own souls.

Consider 2ndly, the numberless evils that flow from the vice of spiritual sloth, when once it possess the soul; more especially in the way of sins of omission, such as the neglect of prayer and of all other religious exercise, the keeping away from the sacraments, and consequently the stopping up, or turning off from the soul all the channels of divine grace, and laying her open, unguarded, and defenceless to all her enemies. And thus the slothful soul is made a daily prey to Satan and to sin, and lives, in a manner, without God. Hence the daughters of this spiritual sloth, according to St. Gregory, are, 1. Despair, or giving up the cause of God and of the soul, so as to have neither hope nor concern for one's eternal salvation; 2. Pusillanimity or cowardice, dreading or flying from the least pains or labour in the service of God; 3. A numbness of soul with regard to all the divine precepts; 4. Malice, or an aversion to all sanctity, and to the professors of it; 5. A rancour, or an indignation against all such as seek to bring us to God. and lastly, a dissipation of mind turned away from the things of God, and always running after creatures. From these unhappy fruits you may judge of the worthlessness of the tree which produces them, and learn to dread so pernicious a vice.

Consider 3rdly, that this vice of sloth is the more dangerous, because like the rest of the spiritual sins it lies deeper in the soul, and is easier overlooked, by such as will not take the pains to think, and to examine well the state of their interior. Carnal sins are more easily discovered, because their guilt carries with it greater shame in the eyes of men, which makes it fly in the face of the sinner, and he cannot disguise it, but spiritual sins are more heinous in the eyes of God, though not much considered by men, and often not regarded at all. And thus, as thousands live and die under the mortal guilt of the spiritual vices of pride, envy, hatred, or covetousness, unregarded and unrepented of, so 'tis to be feared thousand live and die under the mortal guilt of spiritual sloth, unregarded and unrepented of. For what other judgment can we make of those slothful servants whom the gospel so loudly condemns? Or what can be said in favour of them, who being sent into this world upon no other business but to learn to love and to serve their God, through this unhappy sloth live and die, without so much as once seriously thinking upon this great business, much less putting it into execution?

Conclude to look well to thyself, and to examine thyself well, how thy heart stands affected with regard to the glory of God's name, the advancement of his kingdom within thee, and the reign of his love. If this be what thou seekest in the first place, all is well; but if thou admittest of a loathing or repugnance to this, and givest the preference in thy heart to anything else, assure thyself that the demon of spiritual sloth possesses thy soul, and that God has no share in thee.



26t Oct.


On the remedies against spiritual sloth

Consider first, that the sovereign remedy against spiritual sloth is the daily practice of consideration, particularly by meditating on those moving truths which either represent to us the infinite goodness of our God, his love for us, the passion of his Son, and those innumerable motives we have to love him and to be fervent in his service, or else denounce to us his many judgments, both in time and eternity, upon the obstinate opposers of his grace, and the rebels of his love. O what heart can be so far hardened by sloth as to stand out against such meditations as these, when frequently repeated? We have a God to serve, and a soul to save. This God is infinitely good, and good to us. He is all goodness, beauty, truth, and all perfection; he is infinitely lovely, and he is our ancient and eternal lover; his Son came down from heaven for the love of us; he employed his whole life in seeking out salvation; he even died for love of us; we have received and daily do receive many great benefits from him; his thought is always upon us. And shall not the consideration of all this goodness and love of his for us, oblige us to be fervent in the love of him, and diligent in his service? If we love him, and serve him as we ought, he will be our protector here, and our reward exceeding great hereafter. If we neglect his love and service, he threatens us with eternal evils, and death, judgment, and hell are always following us at our heels. And shall not the remembrance of all his promises on the one hand, and of all his threats and judgments on the other, effectually rouse us up out of our slothful indolence, and spur us on to labour in earnest for the securing our eternity?

Consider 2ndly, that another remedy against sloth is to reflect often, that the short time of this life is given us by our maker for nothing else but to labour therein, and to labour for eternity; that we can have no other stock to live on for eternity but what we provide and send before us, by working well during the twelve hours of this short day of our mortal life; that every moment of this time is precious, it is even worth an eternity, because by the good employment of every moment we may add to our eternal stock, and consequently to our eternal glory; that what we lose of it by sloth is lost for ever, and that the loss is irreparable; that the night will be quickly with us, in which no man can work, and therefore that we must husband well this short, this precious time,and spend it to the best advantage, labouring by good works to make our calling and election sure, 2 Pet. i. 10. Oh! what a strict account shall one day be demanded of us, of the employment of this whole time! And where shall the slothful hide their heads at that day?

Consider 3rdly, and set often before your eyes, in order to overcome all spiritual sloth, the life and death of the Son of God, the great pattern of a Christian, who was never idle, but always employed in doing the will of his Father. O how happy is the Christian that endeavours to be always employed in this manner! Read also, and meditate often on the lives of the saints, and excite yourself to fervour in the service of God, by their example and by the consideration of their eternal glory. O what pains do the children of this world daily take, what danger do they expose themselves to for the sake of a little dirt, which they must leave behind them to-morrow? And is it not a shame that Christians should not do as much for a happy eternity? Remember also on all occasions that the eye of your great master is always upon you; therefore take care to please him, not only by ever doing something - because such is his will and appointment - but also by labouring to perform all your actions with that perfection which becomes works done for so great a king.

Conclude to arm thyself, by these and such like considerations, against all the mischiefs that are otherwise to be apprehended from this pernicious vice of spiritual sloth; and that thou mayest keep thyself farther off from its approaches, beware of all tepidity or lukewarmness in the service of God. Often reflect upon the sentence that was past upon the barren fig-tree, Luke xiii., and fear lest, if thou also content thyself with a show of leaves, without bearing good fruit, the Lord of the vineyard may order thee also to be cut up and cast into the fire.



27th Oct.


Consider first, that the life of a Christian is a perpetual warfare, according to that of holy Job, 'The life of man upon earth is a warfare,' Job vii. 1. His time of a true, settled, and solid peace, is not to come till after many a conflict, and many a victory. He must fight his way to heaven against a set of cruel, deceitful, and obstinate enemies, who will never let him alone, either in life or death. These are they of whom the apostle writes, Eph. vi. 11, 12, 'Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in high places,'- that is against all the legions of demons who dwell in this air that surrounds us. These wicked spirits mortally hate us, because we are created to fill up the places they have forfeited by sin, and therefore they never cease to employ a thousand tricks and artifices, a thousand snares and allurements, to draw us away from God, into the pit of sin and damnation. But for our comfort their power is greatly restrained; they can employ no force against us, nor do us any real hurt at all, except it be by our own free consent, by our unhappily yielding ourselves to them. And on the other hand, we have a far greater strength engaged to fight on our side, not only of all the host of heaven, ever ready to guard and defend us, but even of the king of heaven himself, whose battles we are fighting, and who never forsakes his soldiers in the war, if they do not first desert from him. And what can the soldiers of Christ desire more? God is for us, what matter is it than who is against us? We are sure of victory if we do not fling down our arms and desert to the enemy.

Consider 2ndly, that he devil and all his wicked ones, knowing how little they can do against us of themselves, have unhappily engaged the world and the flesh to side with them as auxiliaries in this warfare. Upon these they depend more than upon all their own troops; and these, in effect, annoy us more, and commonly do much more mischief to our souls, than all those spirits of darkness. By the world we mean the whole collection of poor mortals who have been already deluded by Satan into the broad road of sin and perdition, and who have embraced, both in principles and practice, the wicked laws, maxims, and customs which he has introduced, and continually propagate them both by word and example. This is that world, the slave of Satan and the mortal enemy of the gospel of Christ, against which he so often pronounces his woes; this is that Babylon, the city of the devil, that is waging war against the people of God, and seeking to carry them away captives and to subject them to its wicked laws. This wicked world is made up of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, 1 John ii. 19. This wicked world and all its pomps we have renounced at our baptism. Against this capital enemy of our souls we must fight till death.

Consider 3rdly, that if the world be a dangerous enemy to a Christian soul - because it requires a great courage and strength to go against the current of all its maxims and practices, and to despise both its allurements and its censures - the flesh, on the other hand, is still more difficult to overcome; because it is a domestic enemy that is always at hand, even within this very castle of ours, which is continually besieged by the devil and the world; 'tis a traitor that holds a perpetual correspondence with these enemies, and is ever ready to open the gates of the soul to them. For by the flesh we mean our own evil inclinations, passions, and lusts, which never cease to wage war against the Spirit, and which violently incline us to take part with the devil and the world against our God. Hence our Lord, in his gospel, not only requires that we should renounce all other things in the world, how near or dear soever they may be to us, to follow him; but more especially inculcates that we must renounce also ourselves, and hate ourselves in this life, if we desire to be his disciples and to save our souls. This, then, is the very chief part of the Christian's warfare - to fight continually against ourselves, and to spare no pains to subdue our own flesh - that is, all our corrupt inclinations and passions.

Conclude to declare an eternal war against all these three enemies, and to fight manfully against them till death, and thou shalt not fail to receive the crown of life.



28th Oct.



Consider first, the wonders of God in these and in all the rest of the apostles, whom he raised up as it were from the earth and from the dunghill, and made princes of his people. 'The foolish things of the world hath God chosen,' saith St. Paul, 1 Cor. 1. 27, 28, 29, 'that he may confound the wise: and the weak things of the world hath God chosen that he may confound the strong; and the base things of the world and the things that are contemptible hath God chosen, that no flesh should glory in his sight.' The Apostles, when they were chosen by Christ, were poor and contemptible in the eyes of the world; they were ignorant and illiterate; they had no power, credit, or interest to recommend them; nor any one of those qualities which the world is fond of to make them shine in the eyes of men; and yet they are preferred by the wisdom of God before all the wise, rich, eloquent, learned, noble, or great ones of this world, as most fit to be his instruments in this great work of the conversion of the world, and best qualified, by their simplicity and humility, to show forth his glory. Adore here, my soul, the wonderful ways of God, and learn to prefer with him the things that this world despises, before all its false grandeur, deceitful appearances, and ostentation of wisdom.

Consider 2ndly, the eminent dignity to which the apostles were raised by our Lord: they were made his disciples, his individual companions, his familiar friends and confidants - yea, his brethren too, John xx. 17; they were made under him the chief priests of the New Testament, the first bishops and pastors of his church, the prime ministers of his kingdom, the stewards and dispensers of all his mysteries; his ambassadors to men; his vicegerents upon earth; the doctors and teachers of the whole world; and next after him, who is the chief corner-stone, the twelve foundations of his church, Eph. ii. 20 - yea, the twelve foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem, Apoc. xxi. 14. Reflect also on the distinguishing graces, and the excellency of power which our Lord conferred upon them, suitable to their great office and callings; such as the power of consecrating and of offering in sacrifice his sacred body and blood; of remitting sins; and of opening or shutting heaven's gates to men; the commission of feeding his flock, and of ruling and directing his church, with the promise of the Holy Ghost to assist them therein; the authority of publishing throughout the whole world his new law, the law of grace; and the covenant of salvation through him, & c.: besides the gifts of tongues, and prophecy, and other eminent graces of the Holy Ghost; and a power of working all kind of miracles, yea, even greater than those of Christ himself, St. John xiv. 12. Christians, bless your Saviour on the festivals of the apostles, for all these great things he has done for them, and through them for his church in general, and in some degree for every one of you in particular. For as they were, under Christ, the fathers and founders of the Christian religion, so from them, and through their ministry, the faith, the word, the sacraments, the graces of Christ, and all spiritual goods and treasures are derived down to your souls by the channel of their successors in the church of Christ.

Consider 3rdly, the eminent sanctity of the apostles; on account of which they have been so highly honoured by all succeeding generations in the Christian church. They received great graces, and they faithfully cooperated with these graces. At the first call they left all things else to follow Christ, and as he bears them witness, Luke xx. 28, they remained with him in his temptations. They were indefatigable in their labours for the propagation of his kingdom, and for the salvation of souls; their zeal and courage were invincible; their love for him was stronger than death; they were ready to meet death in every shape for his glory; they even rejoiced that they were esteemed worthy to suffer for his name. In a word, they were perfect in an eminent degree in all virtues. By their preaching and labours, by their doctrine and miracles, by their sufferings and death, they planted the faith and church of Christ throughout the world; but nothing contributed more to this great work than the sanctity of their lives: by the help of which, as well as by the fervour and efficacy of their prayers, they effectually established virtue religion, and Christian perfection in every place where they came, upon the ruins of infidelity and vice; and left behind them a succession of saints, as the fruits of their labours, which have been kept up ever since in the true church of Christ, according to that of their divine master, John xv. 16, 'I have appointed you that you should go, and should bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain.'

Conclude to celebrate with a particular devotion the festivals of the apostles, as the most eminent amongst the favourites of God, and the fathers of the other saints. Glorify God, who is wonderful in all his saints, for the extraordinary wonders he has wrought in them and through them, and to that eternal glory to which he has raised them. But study also to learn the great lessons they perpetually taught, both by word and work, and to aim with all your power at an imitation of their virtues and sanctity.



29th Oct.



Consider first, that the life of a Christian here upon earth being a perpetual warfare, he is under a necessity of providing himself with proper armour, if he hopes to come off with victory. What this armour should be we may learn from the apostle, Eph. vi. 13, & c. 'Take unto you,' saith he, 'the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, in all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, (which is the word of God,) by all prayer and supplication, praying at all times in the spirit, and in the same watching with all instance,' & c. O how completely shall that Christian be armed against all his enemies that makes such a provision for himself as is here recommended by the apostle, of arms, both defensive and offensive. Let us descend to each particular.

Consider therefore, 2ndly, that the soldier of Christ, in order to be fit to put on his armour, and to stand in the battle, without being hindered by his earthly garments hanging loosely about him, must first gird up his loins; that is, he must set out with a firm resolution of restraining his passions and lusts, and all irregular affections to these earthly things which very much encumber and hinder the Christian in his spiritual conflicts, and give the enemy a great hold of him. Now the girdle or belt he must make use of for this end is truth, 'for he must be girt about with truth,' says the apostle; that is with sincerity, uprightness, Christian simplicity, and purity of intention in his undertaking; having purely in view God and his soul, and being resolved at all events to fight till death, and to sacrifice on all occasions his dearest inclinations to the love of God and the salvation of his soul. Thus must he begin, and then proceed to put on the breastplate or coat of mail of Christian justice; by which is here understood not one particular virtue, but the collection of them all, which the soldier of Christ must labour to furnish himself with against the temptations of all their opposite vices. He must also have 'his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.' But what is meant by this? The feet of the soul are his affections, by which she moves towards the things she loves. These, in the Christian soldier, must be properly shod with the preparation, that is, with the readiness and promptitude, of the soul to direct all her steps, not towards the lying vanities and fooleries of the world, in which there is no peace; but to walk in the ways of the gospel, which alone can insure to us any true peace, either for time or eternity.

Consider 3rdly, that after these previous dispositions and general preparations for the spiritual warfare, the apostle recommends as the chief pieces of the Christian's armour, the shield of faith, which has a particular efficacy in extinguishing all the fiery darts levelled at us by the wicked one; and the helmet of salvation, that is, divine hope, which protects the head of the soul from being wounded by any of his weapons. Yes, Christians, if you would keep your souls from being pierced with the hellish darts of Satan, you must take care to carry about with you the shield of faith, that is, a strong and lively belief of the great truths of the gospel, with a sense of the presence of God, and a remembrance of death, judgment, heaven, and hell, and you shall be out of their reach. But then you must also provide yourselves with the helmet of hope, by joining an absolute distrust in yourselves with an entire confidence in God; lest otherwise your head be left naked and exposed on all sides to the wounds of the enemy, and there be no soundness in it, which is the case of all those who in this kind of warfare build upon themselves and not upon our Lord.

Conclude to spare no pains to procure every part of this heavenly armour; that you may be able to fight the battles of your Lord in such manner as to overcome his and your enemies, and to triumph eternally with him. Especially take care to secure to yourselves the shield of a lively faith by the means of daily meditations on the truths of eternity.



30th Oct.



Consider first, that in this spiritual warfare the Christian soldier must not only be furnished with arms of defence, such as breastplate, shield, and helmet, but he must also provide himself with a proper sword, with which he may be able to attack and to beat down the enemy. Now this sword of the spirit, or spiritual sword, to be employed in the Christian's conflict is, according to the apostle, the Word of God. The truths of God's heavenly word, heard from his ministers, or read in good books, and received as the seed of life, and laid up in the heart when embraced with a lively faith, and pondered at leisure by deep meditation, serve in a double capacity, both to defend us and to annoy the enemy; they are both a shield and a sword. They are a shield, because the continual remembrance of these great truths baffles and defeats all the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; none of them have any force against a soul that daily meditates on God's holy Word and enters into the true spirit of it. And they are a sword too, which none of them all can withstand, when drawn against them by a lively faith; it attacks them whenever it meets them, and never fails of victory; it beats down all their fortifications, and forces them out of all their entrenchments. Such is the efficacy of daily meditation on divine truths: it roots out all vices, and establishes all virtues.

Consider 2ndly, that in the Christians' conflict this sword of the spirit is to be used, according to the apostle, in such manner as to be accompanied with all prayer and supplication, praying at all times in the spirit, and in the same watching with instance. From which words we gather the great importance, yea, the absolute necessity, of fervent prayer in this our spiritual warfare; and that, not only in the time of more dangerous and obstinate temptations, but as he says, at all times, and with instance. Oh! 'tis the want of observing this prescription makes so many shamefully yield in the time of temptation. And indeed we may say with absolute truth, that no one is ever overcome but for want of prayer; and that a neglect of prayer is the original cause of the fall of all them that fall from God by sin. For his infinite goodness never forsakes them that do not first forsake him; he never withdraws his grace from them that do not first withdraw themselves from his grace; he is faithful, and will not suffer us to be tempted above our strength, but will assuredly give us the victory if we always cast ourselves upon him by fervent and humble prayer.

Consider 3rdly, that the apostle prescribes to the Christian soldier, in order to overcome the enemy, to join watching with his prayer, agreeable to the doctrine of our redeemer; who on many occasions enjoins to all his followers a perpetual watchfulness; and in particular the night before his passions bid his disciples 'watch and pray, lest they should enter into temptation,' Matt. xxvi. 41, clearly intimating by these words, that our best and only security against being overcome by temptation, is to join watching with prayer, and to oppose these two against all our spiritual enemies; ever remembering, that though our spirit be willing the flesh is frail. And what makes this watching still more necessary, is the nature of this warfare in which we are engaged against these wicked spirits, who are continually laying ambushes for us, and use a thousand deceits to ensnare us, and oftener prevail by tricks and stratagems, or by coming upon us unawares, than by open assault.

Conclude to make proper use of these weapons prescribed by the apostle and by our Lord himself, by filing thy mind with the word and the truths of God, and by diligence in watching and praying, and all thy conflicts shall be crowned with victory.



31st Oct.



Consider first, that there are four moral virtues which are called cardinal; because they are, as it were, hinges upon which the whole life of a Christian must constantly move, if he would be good for anything. These are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, which the wise man tells us, (Wisdom viii. 7,) are all taught by divine wisdom, and are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in life. All other moral virtues have a necessary dependence on these four; they all fall to the ground without them. Every virtue must be prudent and discreet in all it takes in hand, otherwise it degenerates into vice. Every virtue must be stout and valiant, firm and constant, in adhering to what is right, and opposing what is wrong. And every virtue must be sober and temperate, lest it exceeds the bounds of due moderation prescribed by right reason and religion. But, oh! what treasures of virtues do they possess that have acquired these four principal ones! These will effectually arm them against all vices.

Consider 2ndly, that Christian prudence is a virtue which teaches us in all things what is good and what is evil; what is right and what is wrong; and what ought to be done, and what ought to be left undone, in all the occurrences of life. 'Tis a virtue that directs all our words and actions in such a manner as that we neither decline out of the way, or offend ourselves, nor give occasion to others to offend; but ever setting before our eyes our great business and last end, makes always a proper choice of the means that are to bring us to this great end, and apply them accordingly. 'Tis a virtue that directs all other virtues; combining them all by the royal middle way of our great king, that they may not go aside by excess or defect, either to the right hand or to the left. The offices of this great virtue are to design and consult well, to judge right, and to direct well the execution, of what has been rightly concerted and judged to be proper. In all which it is helped, indeed, by the remembrance of things past, by the understanding of things present, by the forecasting of things to come, by reasoning, attention, caution, and circumspection; but all this with dependence on divine grace, and not on one's own industry, and with a continual application to our Lord, by frequent and fervent prayer for his light and assistance, without which our prudence will avail us nothing.

Consider 3rdly, the offices of the other three cardinal virtues and the excellence of them. Justice tenders to every one his due, and wrongs no one. It renders to every one his due, and wrongs no one. It teaches how to restrain every thought, every desire, every act of the will, every judgment, every word, every action, and every omission too, that any ways tend to injure one's neighbour, or that do not rightly square with that great principle of morality, 'Do as thou wouldst be done by.' And with regard to God, (who has the most undoubted right, by all manner of titles, to our whole being, and to all our service,) it obliges us, before all things, to dedicate our whole hearts and souls to him by worship and love. Then fortitude arms the soul with invincible courage in her warfare against her spiritual enemies, and gives her strength and constancy to enable her to overcome all fear or dread of any of those evils which she may be exposed to in her mortal pilgrimage for doing her duty, and resolution to suffer everything rather than to sin. Lastly, temperance restrains all immoderation in eating or drinking, with all other excesses of our passions or lusts, and all that any ways carry us out of the due bounds prescribed either by right reason and the law of nature, or by the precepts of God, or by them that have their authority from him, in the employment or functions of any of our senses, whether the exterior or interior. See, my soul, how admirable are all these virtues! Oh! there is not a day, there is scarce an hour of thy mortal life, in which thou dost not stand in need of them all.

Conclude to esteem and desire, love and seek, all these blessed virtues. O spare no pains to acquire them - they are richly worth all thy labour. But ever remember whose gifts they are, and that they must come to thee by fervent prayer. All thy labour, without this, will be labour in vain.



1st Nov.


Vidi turbam magnam quam dinumerare nemo poterat, ex omnibus
gentibus, stantes ante thronum.

Consider first, that on this day the church of God honours with a solemn festival the virtues, the triumphs and the eternal glory of all the saints and citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem. First, in order to give glory, praise and thanksgiving, on their account, to the God of all the saints, and to his Son Jesus Christ, the author of all their virtues, of all their triumphs, and of all their glory, and to honour the Lord in his saints. Secondly, to encourage all her children to follow the glorious examples of the saints, and to walk in their blessed footsteps, in hopes of arriving one day at their happy company. Thirdly, to teach them to associate themselves in the mean time to the saints, by a holy communion with them, and to procure the assistance of their prayers and intercession. O how just, how pious, how wholesome it is to glorify God in his saints, who are the most excellent of all his works; to honour in them the bright trophies of the blood of Christ; to learn of them the practice of all Christian virtues, and especially of divine love; and to be admitted to share in their powerful prayers, and to a happy communion with them in all that is good! 'You are come,' says the apostle, Heb. xii. 22, & c., speaking to the children of the church, 'to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the company of many thousands of angels, and to the church of the first-born, who are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the just made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the New Testament,' & c. O happy communion indeed! O joyful festivity, in which the church militant solemnly associates herself with the whole church triumphant, in the worship, praise, and love of their common Lord, through him that is the mediator of them both, and through the great sacrifice of his blood! See then, my soul, what ought to be thy devotion on this day.

Consider 2ndly, on occasion of this festival, what encouragements we here meet with to dedicate ourselves, in good earnest, to the holy service of our God, when we reflect on the eternal weight of glory in heaven, with which he rewards the light and momentary labours and sufferings of his servants here upon earth. All these holy ones, whose feast we celebrate this day, have entered into the never-ending joys of their Lord at a very cheap and easy rate. The yoke of his divine servitude, which they bore for the short time of their pilgrimage, was very sweet to them, and their burden was very light. Grace and love made all things easy that they either did or suffered for their beloved. He himself supported them in such manner as to carry, as it were, both them and their crosses too upon his own shoulders. He never left them in life or death, till he took them to himself to his heavenly kingdom, where they shall live and reign for ever with him. My soul, hast not thou the same God as they had? Hast not thou the same Saviour, Jesus Christ, who has purchased the same kingdom for thee also, with his own most precious blood? Hast not thou the same sacraments and sacrifice, and all the same helps and means of grace as they had? Is the arm of God shortened? Or is the source of his infinite goodness and mercy dried up or diminished? Why then mayest not thou also aspire to the same glory and happiness? The saints carried about with them heretofore the like flesh and blood as thou now dost; but their correspondence with the mercy and grace of God raised them up from the dunghill of their corrupt nature, and made them saints; the like correspondence with the divine mercy and grace can do as much for thee also. O why then shouldst not thou also endeavour to be a saint?

Consider 3rdly, that as it is the love of God which makes saints, so it is the divine love which we particularly honour in all the saints. 'Tis this heavenly love which ought to be the great object of our attention, of our devotion, and of our imitation, on all the festivals of these generous lovers, and beloved of God, and more especially on this day, when we celebrate the virtues of them all under one solemnity. O what strong invitations, what great encouragements have we here, what pressing calls to labour to sanctify our souls with divine love, when we have here set before our eyes all these millions of heavenly lovers whom we honour in this festivity? The blessed virgin the queen and mother of beautiful love; they innumerable legions of angelic spirits, Cherubim and Seraphim, all on fire with love; these patriarchs and prophets, constant and faithful lovers of their God; these apostles of the Lamb, sent by him to spread through all the earth the bright flames of love, which he sent down upon them from heaven; these armies of martyrs, all victims of love, who all laid down their lives for love; these millions of holy confessors, and all these spirits of the just made perfect by love, who both in life and death have been always true friends and servants of divine love - and now, for all eternity, shall shine and burn in its beautiful flames; all these virgins, in fine, the spouses of love, whose love for the Lamb was stronger than death, and who now follow him singing hymns of eternal love, wheresoever he goes. O let us draw near to this great fire, to this heavenly company of seraphic lovers, that our frozen hearts may receive some small heart at least from all their flames.

Conclude ever to love, honour, and imitate the saints of God; but more especially to love in them what God loves in them; that is the gifts of his divine grace; amongst which the most excellent is love. Then shall thou be best entitled both to the intercession of the saints at present, and to their happy society hereafter.



2nd Nov.


On the Commemoration of All Souls
Tuba mirum spargens sonnum per sepulcra regionum coget omnes ante thronum.

Consider first, that on this day the Church of God, attending to the necessities of great numbers of her children, who are departed out of this life in her faith or communion, but not without some blemish of sin in their souls - some lesser stains at least, of idle words, or other venial offences; some wood, hay, or stubble in their building, which cannot stand the fire, or some debt to divine justice on account of former sins not sufficiently expiated by penance - turns all her prayers and sacrifices towards the procuring for them from the mercy of God, through the merits of the precious blood of Jesus Christ her spouse, their remission of all their sins, and their speedy admittance into the happy regions of eternal rest, light, and peace, in the company of the saints. O my soul, how holy and wholesome is the institution of this day of expiation! Oh, how full of piety and charity is this apostolical tradition, this religious practice of the church of God in all ages, 'to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins'? 2 Mac. xxii. 46. alas, how few depart this life so pure as to be immediately admitted to that blessed city above, where 'nothing defiled can enter in'! Rev. xvii. 2. How few are fit to fly up to the embraces of the God of all purity, without some purgation after death! 'Tis then a duty of Christian charity, incumbent on all the children of the church of Christ, to assist by their prayers their brethren that are gone before them, that they may be discharged from their sins, and may rest in peace.

Consider 2ndly, that this kind of charity is highly pleasing to God, is very beneficial to the souls of the faithful departed, and is very wholesome to our own souls. The spiritual works of mercy are of all the most acceptable to God, the lover of souls. Now this is one of the spiritual works of mercy: it far exceeds all the corporal works of mercy. It tends to feed those souls that are hungry with the plenty of God's house, to bring them to quench their thirst at the fountain of life, to clothe them with immortal glory, to comfort and refresh them under their pains and sufferings, to loose their bonds, to deliver them out of their prison, and to help them forward to their eternal home which they so ardently long for. Now all this is most agreeable to the Father of mercies, who has a most tender love for these his children. 'Tis doing these souls of our brethren the greatest charity imaginable, by contributing all that is in our power to deliver them from all their evils, and to bring them to their sovereign good. And 'tis at the same time a most excellent means of obtaining mercy for ourselves also, whilst we show this mercy to them: 'for the merciful shall obtain mercy,' Matt. xi. 7. `'tis making to ourselves friends, who when we fail, may receive us into everlasting habitations,' Luke xvi. 9.

Consider 3rdly, that this charity which we owe to the souls of the faithful departed, is not only exercised by praying for them, but also by fasting or other penitential austerities, offered up to God in their behalf for the remission of their sins, as likewise by alms-deeds, performed with the like intention, according to the religious customs of former ages, and the practice of our pious ancestors, in their doles at the funerals of the dead. But the most effectual means of all to purge them from their sins, and to bring them to their God, is the offering up for them the great sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, and presenting to God in their favour that most sacred victim, by which was cancelled the hand-writing which was against us, and a general atonement was made for all our sins. In the old law, the high priests once a-year, viz., on the solemn feast of expiation, (Lev. xvi.,) carried the blood of victims into the sanctuary, to make atonement for the sins of the people; but this was but a figure of what was done by our high priest, who is gone out for all into the sanctuary of heaven, not with the blood of goats or calves, but with his own most sacred blood, shed here upon earth for our sins; and now ceasing not to exhibit the same to his Father, both by himself in heaven, where he makes continual intercession for us, and here by his ministers in the sacred mysteries. This blood pleads strongly for the remission of our sins; this is the source of all mercy and grace; this is plentifully applied to the souls, both of the living and the dead, by the great sacrifice of the altar.

Conclude to assist, to the best of thy power, the souls of the faithful departed, both by prayers, alms, and this holy oblation of the blood of Christ. Thy charity for them may stand thee in great stead, when their case shall come to be thy own. But remember withal, that the best thing thou canst do is to work now all thou canst for thyself, whilst thou hast time, and to do full penance for thy sins in this life, that thy soul may not stand in need of these helps hereafter.



3rd Nov.


On the obligation of Cristians to be saints

Consider first, how often God has declared in his word, that all his people ought to be saints. 'Be ye holy, because I the Lord your God am holy,' was what he perpetually inculcated in the Old Testament; and in the New, the Son of God calls upon us all, Matt. v. 48: 'Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.' All Christians are 'called to be saints,' Rom. i. 7; 'to be holy and without blemish in the sight of God in charity,' Eph. i. 4; 'a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people,' 1 Pet. ii. 9. Hence the name of saints is appropriated by St. Paul to all Christians, as if it were the same thing to be a Christian and to be a saint; which shows that, according to the doctrine of the apostle, all Christians, as such, are at least obliged to endeavour to be saints. This obligation is grounded upon the sanctity of the God whom we serve, of the gospel law under which we live, of the holy institute which we profess, of the great master whom we follow, of the divine sacraments and sacrifice which we frequent; and of that sacred dedication and consecration by which God has sanctified our souls for himself. O let us never forget the many motives we have to be saints!

Consider 2ndly, that our being saints is not merely a matter of counsel, or of greater perfection - 'tis a strict commandment; 'tis implied in the very first and chiefest of all God's commandments. For though all are not commanded to work miracles, nor to exercise extraordinary austerities; nor to retire into deserts, to spend the whole time there in prayer; nor to sell all they have, and give it to the poor, & c., (for there have been many very great saints that have done none of these things): yet all are commanded to love God with their whole heart, and with their whole soul, and with their whole mind, and with their whole strength. Now this it is that makes saints, and this is of strict obligation to all. Do this, my soul, keep this commandment, and thou also shalt be a saint; but without this, none of those other things, nor all of them together, can make any one a saint. Christians, reflect on the perfection and sanctity which is required of you all by this great commandment of divine love. To love the Lord our God with our whole heart, and all its affections; with our whole soul, and all its powers; with our whole mind, by directing all our thoughts to him; and with our whole strength, by dedicating to him all our actions. O this is to be saints indeed! Now, this our God calls for; and nothing less will satisfy him; it is the very first of his commandments.

Consider 3rdly, upon how many titles this great God challenges our whole hearts and souls, by love and service; and consequently that we should be truly saints; that is, a people sanctified, and consecrated to him. 1. We are his children; and therefore ought to bear some resemblance to our Father, by an imitation of his sanctity. 2. Our souls are espoused to him, and aspire to an eternal union with him: now, whatsoever is disagreeable to true sanctity defiles the soul and disqualifies her for that happy union. 3. We are his temples - the temples of God must be every holy. 4. We are the members of Jesus Christ, we are ingrafted in him, we are to live by his spirit, which is the spirit of sanctity. 5. We absolutely belong to God by our creation; he gave us our being, and gave it to us for no other end but that we should be saints. 6. The Son of God delivered himself up for us, by his passion and death, that he might wash us from all our sins in his own blood, and make us a kingdom of priest, (that is, saints,) to God and his Father, Apoc. 1. 5,6. In fine, by our baptismal vows, by our dedication to God at that time, by our frequent participation of the body and blood of Christ in the divine sacrament, in consequence of which we ought to abide in Christ, the God of all sanctity, and live by him; and by innumerable other titles, we belong to God; and are strictly obliged to give our whole holiness and justice all the days of our lives. And labouring in earnest to be saints; and that it is both the will and the commandment of God?

Conclude to begin, from this very hour, a new and saintly life, by yielding thyself up a perpetual servant to divine love, and striving henceforward to make a daily progress in this heavenly virtue. This is the shortest and surest way to all sanctity and perfection.

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4th Nov.

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.

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5th Nov.


On the perfection of our ordinary actions

Consider first, the error of a great many Christians, in placing sanctity in such things as indeed are no part of it. Thus some suppose that in order to be a saint one must work miracles: now, St. John the Baptist was one of the greatest of saints, and yet wrought no miracles, St. John x. 41. And indeed, one single act of humility, or self-denial, or of the love of God, goes farther towards the making a saint than even the raising the dead to life. Others again vainly imagine that sanctity consists in having visions, revelations and ecstasies, or in the gifts of prophecy, of tongues, of an eminent knowledge of the most sublime and divine truths; because they often meet with such things as these in the lives of saints. But none of these things made them saints; and they have been even found in such as were not saints: whilst, on the other hand, many eminent saints have had none of them; neither ought any humble Christian to desire, or to seek for such things as these; though every Christian ought to desire and endeavour to be a saint. Nor does sanctity consist in much fasting, or in wearing hair shirts, or in taking disciplines, or in giving large alms, or in reciting long prayers, or in any other extraordinary practices or observances; all which, however good in themselves, have been found in hypocrites, or in such as have been all the while slaves to pride, self-love, and passion. But true sanctity consists in unfeigned charity in both its branches, that is, as it regards both the love of God, and of our neighbours. It consists in conformity with the will of God in all things, and adhering close to him; it consists in being humble of heart, and sincerely despising ourselves; it consists in denying ourselves, and taking up our cross and following Christ. Such as do these things are saints; where any of these are wanting there is no sanctity.

Consider 2ndly, that sanctity does not so much depend upon doing extraordinary actions, as upon doing our ordinary actions extraordinary well. Our life passes away in the daily ordinary actions, which take up our time from morning till night; such as our rising, our morning exercise, our daily labours, or the business of our calling, our regular devotions, and spiritual lectures, our meals, our conversation, the employment of our thoughts when our hands are at work, our examination of conscience at night, and our evening exercise, & c. Now, if all these daily performances are done extraordinary well, our whole time will be spent extraordinary well; and nothing more will be required to make us saints. Neither will it cost us more to do them well than to do them ill; on the contrary, the better we perform them, and the more diligent and fervent we are in them, the more easy and delightful they will be to us: and the grace of God and his blessing will go along with all we do. O! how inexcusable then are we, my soul, if we do not strive to be saints, when we may attain to this happiness, even by our daily ordinary actions, provided we perform them with due perfection!

Consider 3rdly, that the perfection of our ordinary actions depends upon the purity of intention with which we perform them; on our attention to God, in all that we do; and our seasoning all our labours and employments with frequent aspirations and ejaculations of divine love; and frequent aspirations and ejaculations of divine love; and frequent oblations of our selves and of all that we do to God. 'By thy ordinance the day goeth on,' saith the royal prophet, Ps. cxviii. 91, 'for all things serve thee.' Yes, my soul, all things continually serve the Lord but the rebel angels and the rebellious will of man. Now this rebellious will of ours we bring to serve him by beginning the day with an oblation of our whole selves to him; by directing all our thoughts, words, and actions by a pure intention to his glory; by making his holy will the rule of all we do; by beginning every work with an offering of what we are going to do, together with an offering of our heart to him; and by often renewing this offering in the midst of our works; by doing all our actions as much as we can in his presence; and by intermingling acts of divine love with all we do. Thus shall our days be found to be full days; thus shall they all go on by God's ordinance; thus shall they all serve him.

Conclude to take great care to give all thy ordinary actions their due perfection, by following these rules. And as to thy daily employments, and all the business and labours of thy lawful calling, ever consider them as appointed thee by the holy will of God; and ever perform them in compliance with and in obedience to his heavenly will; thus thou mayest make them all acts of virtue, and even acts of divine love. And if these thy daily employments be laborious or otherwise mortifying, or disagreeable to thy self-love, thou mayest also make them acts of penance, by accepting of them as imposed upon thee by God, for thy sins; and offering them up to God, in union with the labour and sufferings of Jesus Christ, for thy sins.



6th Nov.

On the sanctity of the Christians Institute

Consider first, that the Christian religion is in the nature of a religious order or institute, founded by Jesus Christ our Lord, and taking its name from him. The Son of God himself came down from heaven to be the founder of the Christian order. Its origin is heavenly; its rule is heavenly; being God's own word and the gospel of his Son. Its tendency is heavenly: it tends to deliver us from all those evils, both with regard to time and eternity, in which we are unhappily involved by our first parents' transgression, particularly from the death of sin, and from the second death of hell - and to bring us to our sovereign good, to all perfection and sanctity here, and to our true and eternal life hereafter. The means it furnishes us with for this end are also heavenly: such as the communications of divine grace; the sacred mysteries and sacraments, of divine institution: the daily conversation of God by prayer, and the communion of the saints, or a happy association with all holy persons in all holy things. The Christian makes his solemn religious profession at the foot of the altar, at his baptism; there he engages himself by vows to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil, and to lead an innocent and saintly life; there he receives for his habit the white robe, denoting cleanness of heart and innocence, with a charge to keep it all his lifetime without spot or stain; there he puts on Jesus Christ, by a new birth, in order to a new and spiritual life, that he may know no death. O! can anything then be more holy than the sacred institute of the Christian order; where the founder, the rule, the exercises, the vows, the habit, and the whole manner of life that it requires are all most heavenly and divine!

Consider 2ndly, the blindness and misery of the greatest part of Christians, who live in a strange insensibility of the excellence of the Christian religion, of the obligations of it, and the sanctity it requires of them, in consequence of the alliance it gives them with the whole blessed Trinity. The dignity of a Christian is indeed very great. He has the honour to be enrolled in the service of the great king. He is made his domestic, his friend, his favourite. But this is not all; he is even adopted, through Jesus Christ, to be a child of God, and an heir of his eternal kingdom: he is ingrafted and incorporated with Christ, and made a member of that mystical body, of which the Son of God is the head; he is made a partaker of his spirit; of his kingdom and priestly unction, and in some measure of his divine nature. The grace of Christianity is so great that the apostle, writing to the Ephesians, seem to want words to express it. He calls it 'the unsearchable riches of Christ, and the mystery hidden from eternity in God,' Eph. iv. 8, 9, with a great deal more to the like purpose, as well with relation to the exceeding great goodness of God, manifested in his calling us, without any desert of ours, to so great a grace as this of the Christian religion, as also with regard to the incomprehensible advantage which this grace entitles us to. But oh! may we not too justly apply to the greatest part of those who are called to all these advantages that of the royal prophet, Ps. xlviii. 21, 'Man when he was in honour did not understand; he hath been compared to senseless beasts, and made like to them.' Alas! this seems to be the case of millions of Christians.

Consider 3rdly, that our eternal welfare absolutely depends upon our living up to the character of a Christian, and to the duties and obligations of the Christian religion, in particular those we have taken upon us by our baptismal vows, and which are insisted upon as essential, by our holy rule and founder. These are all reduced into a small compass, in those words of the psalmist: 'Turn away from evil, and do good.' This is a short abstract of the whole duty of a Christian. The first part requires a settled determination of the soul never to commit a wilful sin for any consideration whatsoever, no not even if life itself were at stake. The second part requires a constant attention to do the will of God in all things, and to advance every day in the love of God. Do this, my soul, and thou shalt be a Christian indeed; persevere in this until death, and thou shalt receive the crown of eternal life.

Conclude henceforward to have always before thy eyes both the dignity and the sanctity of the character of a Christian, and to show it forth in thy life, lest otherwise it rise in judgment against thee, and prove thy greater condemnation on that day when thou shalt be called upon to give an account of thy stewardship.



7th Nov.



Consider first, those words of the Son of God, John viii. 12, 'i am the light of the world: he that followeth me, walketh not in darkness, but shall have the light of life.' Poor man by sin had forfeited the true light, he was fallen from the light of truth and life, when he fell from his God; he was fallen into the darkness of ignorance, error, and vice, and was sitting in the shadow of death. God sent the true light from heaven, 'which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world, when he sent his Son from heaven, in the bowels of his mercy, as the orient (or dayspring) from on high to visit us, to enlighten them that sat in darkness, and in the shadow of death, and to direct our feet in the way of peace,' Luke i. 78, 79. Jesus Christ then came from heaven to be our light; to enlighten our souls with the light of his heavenly truth; to bring us forth from the darkness of our errors and vices, to impart to us the light of faith as a lamp to shine unto us, in this dark place of this wretched world, till the true day dawn, and the day-star arise in our hearts, 2 Pet. i. 19; to give us here the light of his divine grace, for the time of our mortal pilgrimage, and to bring us hereafter to the light of glory, where, in the light of God, we shall see God the light for all eternity. Embrace, my soul, this light that comes down from heaven to visit thee, and see thou follow it in the whole conduct of thy life. O take care lest thou incur the judgment of condemnation by the light's coming into the world, and thy loving darkness rather than the light, John iii. 19.

Consider 2ndly, that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to enlighten the world, both with his heavenly doctrine and with his heavenly life. he came from God to be our teacher, and to open in our favour his school of heavenly truths, truths to which the world was quite a stranger at that time, and which the children of this world, who being blinded with their passions, love darkness more than light, will not understand even to this day, because they will not come to this great light, lest their works should be reproved by it, 'for their works are evil,' John iii. 19, 20. This light of Christ reproves our self-love and all its unhappy offspring, with all our darling inclinations and affections; it confute's all the maxims of flesh and blood, and all the errors we are so apt to entertain, with relation to worldly honour, interest, and pleasure. It discovers to us the emptiness and vanity, the mere nothing of all that passes away with time, and shows us that nothing is truly great, or deserves our esteem or affection, but what is eternal. This light of Christ teaches us to know both God and ourselves; it teaches us all virtues, poverty of spirit, humility, self-denial, meekness, patience, penance, conformity to the will of God and divine charity: it shows us the way to all perfection, and to a happy eternity; it conducts to our God himself, and to the light of life that is with him.

Consider 3rdly, that in order to come at the light of life, we must follow Christ, not only by believing his doctrine, but by walking in his footsteps, and by an imitation of his virtues. 'We must imitate his life and manners,' says a holy man, 'if we would be truly enlightened and delivered from all blindness of heart; let it then be our chiefest study to meditate on the life of Jesus Christ.' A Kempis, L. i. c. i. Yes, Christians, by often meditating on the life of Christ, we shall learn how we ought to behave on all occasions; the bright light of his virtues will show us what we are to avoid, and from what we are to fly, as well as what we are to embrace, and what we are to follow on every occasion. 'He is the way, the truth, and the life,' St. John xiv. 6. The light of his life shining on us, by the means of daily meditation, will conduct us into this way, will guide us to this truth, and will bring us safe to this life, even to the very fountain's head of eternal life.

Conclude to follow henceforward in the practice of thy life, the heavenly light both of the doctrine and of the example of Jesus Christ. Walk after him and his light, and thou shalt neither walk in darkness here, nor go into darkness hereafter. This following the light of Christ, will bring thee to the happy society of the children of light, in the region of light everlasting.