Today's contemplation


28th Nov.



Consider first, how when our Lord was walking through the city of Jericho, 'there was a man there named Zacheus, who was the chief of the publicans, and he was rich; and he sought to see Jesus, who he was, and he could not for the crowd, because he was of low stature. and he ran before and climbed up into a sycamore tree, hat he might see him, for he was to pass that way.' See here, Christians, the first step towards this wonderful conversion of a rich worldling; that is, one of that sort of men which is usually the most remote from the kingdom of God. 1. He desired to see Jesus who he was. Good desires are the first beginning of all our good; these incline us to seek to see Jesus and to come to him by true wisdom, which consists in truly knowing him - what he is in himself, and what he is in regard to us. Now the beginning of this true wisdom, as we learn from the Spirit of God in the scriptures, is an earnest desire after it; and that is seeking, like Zacheus, to see who Jesus is. 2. He was of low stature and could not see Jesus for the crowd, and therefore he ran before and climbed up into a sycamore tree, that he might see him, for he was to pass that way. Alas! poor sinners, we are also low of stature, through our unhappy weakness and manifold miseries; we are hindered from seeing Jesus by the crowd, that is by the distractions, worldly solicitudes, disorderly affections of our heart, and dissipation of thought in which we live, and by the tumult of our passions; and therefore in order to see and know him, we must get out of the crowd by retirement and recollection of thought; we must run before, by a disengagement of our heart from worldly wisdom and human respect, and embracing the maxims of the gospel, which the world calls foolishness. We must get above the heads of the worldly crowd, by climbing up the tree of the cross, which the world despises and abhors: and then we shall be able to know Jesus, and to contemplate him: for that is the way by which he passes.

Consider 2ndly, that 'when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said to him: Zacheus make haste and come down, for to-day I must abide in thy house. And he made haste and came down, and received him with joy. And when they all saw it, they murmured, saying, that he was gone to be a guest with a man who was a sinner. See here, Christians, how true that is of the wise man, Wisdom vi. 13, &c., that 'wisdom is easily seen by them that love her, and is found by them that seek her, and preventeth them that covet her, so that the first showeth herself unto them.' Our Lord does not only suffer himself to be seen by this publican, but he looks up at him; he calls to him to make haste and to come down to him; he even invites himself into his house to be his guest, and brings along with him salvation into that house. O the happy consequences of seeking to see and to know Jesus, and of getting out of the crowd, into the sycamore tree, to contemplate him! but then we must also learn from the example of Zacheus a ready correspondence with the grace of our Lord, when he looks up and calls; we must not let him go away on this occasion; we must make haste and come down to him without delay; we must accept of the favour of the visit he offers us with thankfulness; we must conduct him with joy into our inward house; we must make him welcome there, by a proper entertainment of devotion and love: thus he will bring salvation with him to our house.

Consider 3rdly, what entertainment Zacheus offered to our Lord, when he had received him into his house. 'Behold, Lord,' saith he, 'the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have wronged any man of anything, I restore him fourfold.' He made a sacrifice to him upon the spot of his predominant passion, even of that love of the mammon of iniquity, which before had been his idol. He gave up at once all his worldly riches, which were so near his heart, to be employed either in alms or in making restitution fourfold, for all ill-gotten goods. He laid down all his sins at the feet of his Saviour, with a sincere detestation and repentance of them all, and a firm resolution to return to them no more, but to make the best satisfaction he could for them. Now this was the most agreeable feast he could make for our Lord, who was pleased immediately to declare: 'this day is salvation come to this house; because he also is a son of Abraham; for the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.' O what comfort was here for Zacheus! O what encouragement for us poor sinners, to imitate the readiness and sincerity of his conversion, that we ma also with him be acknowledged for true sons of Abraham, by following the example of his faith, obedience, and sacrifice; and that the like salvation may come also to our house from him, who ever delights in seeking and saving that which was lost!

Conclude to consider the conversion of Zacheus as a model of a perfect conversion, and to strive to imitate it in every part. Often invite Christ into thy house, and entertain him there in spirit; but see that thou make him a proper feast, even as Zacheus did, by sacrificing to him the dearest affections of thy heart; and never let him go, without giving his blessing to thy house.



29th Nov.



Consider first, how our Lord, coming for the last time to visit Jerusalem, a few days before his passion; 'when he drew near, seeing the city, he wept over it, saying: If thou also hadst known and that in this thy day, the things that are for thy peace! but now they are hidden from thy eyes. For the days shall come upon thee; and thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and straiten thee on every side, and beat thee flat to the ground, and thy children who are in thee; and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone; because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.'

Our Lord in this his last coming to Jerusalem is accompanied by crowds of people, bearing branches of palms in their hands, and welcoming him with hosannas of joy; but his attention is engaged by the melancholy object he has before his eyes of that unhappy city, and of all the evils that were coming upon it, which he bewails in this pathetic manner. Not that the beating down of stone walls, or the destroying of houses, was a matter worthy of the tears of the Son of God; nor yet that men, who are all doomed to die, should die a little before their time; but the miseries which he lamented were of another kind, viz., the blindness and the hardness of heart of the inhabitants of this city so highly favoured by his visits; their extreme ingratitude and their obstinacy in sin; and that final reprobation and eternal damnation, which they were quickly drawing down upon their own heads, by their repeated abuses and wilful resistance of those extra-ordinary graces which he offered them at this time of their visitation. Christians, beware lest the like abuses of divine grace should draw down the like judgment on you also.

Consider 2ndly, that you have at present your day as Jerusalem had then. This is your day; a time of mercy and grace, in which the son of God daily visits you by many gracious calls and inspirations. His sacrament and sacrifice, the fountains of your Saviour, are now continually open for you, together with all manner of helps for your salvation. But what use do you make of this your day? For it is short and will be quickly at an end, and then the day of the Lord must take place. Have you a right sense and knowledge in this your day of the things that are for your peace and for your true welfare? Do the things of God and eternity make a true impression on your souls? Is the conduct of your life regulated by them? Or are not these great truths, through your own fault, hidden at present from your eyes? O take care lest you pass by unregarded this time of your visitation, as Jerusalem did. The days shall suddenly come upon you also, when your spiritual enemies shall cast a trench about you, and straiten you on every side, and beat you flat to the ground; when the sorrows of death shall encompass you, and the perils of hell shall find you, and the grace of God, which you have so long abused, shall leave you in the hands of your enemies.

Consider 3rdly, how our Saviour, after weeping over Jerusalem and denouncing to it its final desolation, entering into the temple, began to cast them out that sold therein, and them that bought, saying to them: 'It is written, my house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves,' Luke xix. 45:- giving us to understand by this proceeding, that the profanation of the house of God, and of sacred things, the love of gain more than of holiness, and a gross neglect of prayer and other religious duties, is the high road of blindness of spirit, and hardness of heart, and consequently to a dreadful and eternal reprobation. Christians, take care, lest imitating in these particulars the guilt of the Jews, you draw upon your heads the like punishments. The soul of every Christian ought to be the temple of the living God, 2 Cor. vi. 16, and in that quality the house of prayer. O take care you never be so unhappy as to turn this house of prayer into a den of thieves, by shutting out from hence the fear and love of God, and letting in sin and Satan.

Conclude to attend in this your day to the things that appertain to your peace, and not to neglect the time of your visitation; lest by a want of corresponding with grace, you be so unhappy as to fill up the measure of your sins, and suddenly to fall, when you least expect it, into the hands of the living God.



30th Nov.



Consider first, the lessons we are to learn from the example of this great saint. St. Andrew, before he came to Christ, was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, (John I. 35, 40,) trained up to devotion and penance in that excellent school of the great forerunner of our Lord. See, my soul, the great advantages of early piety and of a saint-like education! 'It is good for man,' saith the prophet, 'when he hath borne the yoke from his youth,' Lament. iii. 27. And it is a proverb, saith Solomon, Prov. xxi. 6, 'train a young man according to his way; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.' St John, the true friend of the bridegroom, who sought not his own honour and glory, but the spiritual advantage of his disciples, directed them to Jesus. St. Andrew and another heard him saying of our Lord, 'Behold the Lamb of God!' and they presently followed him, and accompanied him to the place of his abode, and there they stayed with him that day. O! what entertainment did he give them! O! what heavenly conversation did they there enjoy! Christians, see you take care to fit up a lodging for Christ in your own interior, and invite him in thither, and entertain him there by the exercise of recollection and of mental prayer, and you may also be so happy as to relish the admirable sweetness of his divine conversation.

Consider 2ndly, that St. Andrew had no sooner found Christ himself, but he endeavourer immediately to impart the same happiness to his brother Simon, and forthwith brought him to our Lord! Happy they who having found Jesus, and relished his sweetness, endeavour, like St. Andrew, to bring their brethren also to him, according to that of the Scripture, (Apoc. xiii. 17,) 'let him that heareth, say, Come; i.e., let him that heareth the sweet voice and invitation of the Spirit of God in his own soul, calling him to Christ, invite as many others as he can, and bring them along with him. But though these two brothers began now to be acquainted with our Lord, and to believe in him, they had not as yet left all to follow him. This grace was reserved for another time; when, as we read, (Matt. iv. 18,) 'Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, (for they were fisherman,) and he saith to them: Come after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men; and they, immediately leaving their nets, followed him.' Learn, Christians, from this example a ready correspondence with the calls and graces of God, even though he should call upon you to leave all you possess, and to follow him--how much more when he calls for a much easier sacrifice, such as the giving up for the love of him some petty toy or worldly bauble which has taken possession of your heart. Alas! the affections to these fooleries are like nets, from which you must be disengaged, before you can truly follow Christ.

Consider 3rdly, that from this time St. Andrew kept close to our Lord as his individual companion and disciple; and after his ascension into heaven, employed his whole life in propagating by his labours, by his preaching, and by his miracles, the glory of his master's name and his blessed kingdom, and in procuring salvation for innumerable souls. Neither did he cease till, after many sufferings and tribulations, (the usual portion of the disciples of Christ,) he laid down his life for the love of his Lord, following him faithfully and constantly unto death, even the death of the cross. But oh! with what affection did he salute the cross prepared for him, when according to the acts of his martyrdom, coming within sight of that happy instrument, which was to send him to his God, he cried out: 'O good Cross, which has received beauty and glory from bearing the body of my Lord! O Cross which I have long desired, tenderly loved, and continually sought after, and which now at length art here prepared to satisfy my longing soul: receive me now into thy embraces; take me away from amongst mortals, and conduct me to my master; that through thee he may receive me, who redeemed me by dying on thee.' Christians, what are your dispositions in regard to the cross prepared for you? There is no going to heaven for you by any other way than that of the cross. Are you sensible of this? Do you, like St. Andrew, lovingly embrace this blessed instrument which is to bring you to your God and to a happy eternity? Two considerations in particular recommended the cross to St. Andrew as the object of his affections and love: viz., the example of his master, who had sanctified the cross by his own sufferings and death; and the cross being the sovereign means of divine appointment to bring him to his master, and to unite him eternally to him. O! let the like considerations recommend the cross also to your love and affection.

Conclude to labour to imitate the virtues of St. Andrew, more especially his early piety, his attention to all the divine calls, his ready correspondence with the grace of God, his constant adhesion to Christ, and his dedicating his whole life to his love and service, and the pious dispositions of his soul with relation to the cross. There is no better way of honouring the saints than by endeavoring to be saints by an imitation of their lives.



1st Dec.


Consider first, that the time of Advent, (so called from being set aside by the church for worthily celebrating the advent, that is, the coming of Christ,) is a penitential time, and a time of devotion, in which we are every day called upon by the church of God to prepare the way of the Lord, to make straight his paths; to enter into the like dispositions of those which St. John the Baptist required of the people when he was sent to preach to them conversion and penance, in order to prepare them for their Messias; that so we also, by turning away from our sins, by sorrow and repentance, and turning ourselves to the Lord our God with our whole heart, by love and affection, may dispose our souls to welcome our Saviour whose birth we are about to celebrate, and to embrace in such manner the mercy and grace which he brings with him at his first coming as to escape hereafter those dreadful judgments which his justice shall execute upon impenitent sinners at his second coming. See then, my soul that thou dedicate this holy time to suitable exercise of devotion and penance, that thou mayest answer the end of this institution.

Consider 2ndly, in what manner we are all summoned by the church, at the beginning of this holy time, (in the words of St. Paul, Rom xiii. 11, read in the epistle of the First Sunday in Advent,) to dispose ourselves now for Christ. 'Knowing the time,' says the apostle, 'that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is passed, (or far spent,) the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light; let us walk decently, as in the day,' &c. O! my soul, let us consider these words as particularly addressed to us, in order to awaken us, and to stir us up to begin now a new life. Alas! have we not hitherto been quite asleep as to the greatest of all our concerns? Are not far the greatest part of Christians quite asleep by their unaccountable indolence in the great business of the salvation of their souls and of a happy eternity? Are they not sleeping too, which is worse, in the very midst of dangers and of mortal enemies, who are continually plotting their destruction, an even upon the very brink of a precipice, which if they fall down will let them in a moment into hell? O let us then all hearken seriously to this summons, and rouse ourselves now, whilst we have time, out of this unhappy lethargy, and from this hour begin to apply ourselves in good earnest to that only business for which we came into this world. O let us cast off now and for ever the works of darkness, and put on Jesus Christ.

Consider 3rdly, that on the First Sunday of Advent, the terrors also of God's justice are set before our eyes, in the description given in the gospel of the great accounting day; to the end, that they that will not correspond with the sweet invitations of God's mercy, and awake from sleep at the summons addressed to them in the epistle, may be roused at least by the thunder of his justice, denounced in the gospel; and be induced by the wholesome fear of the dreadful judgments that are continually hanging over the heads of impenitent sinners, to make good use of this present time of mercy, lest hereafter there should be neither time nor mercy for them. Ah! sinners, if this day you hear the voice of the Lord, either sweetly inviting you with the allurements of his mercy, or terrifying you with the threats of his judgments, see you harden not your hearts. For now is your time. Sleep on no longer, lest you come to sleep in death, as it happened to them of old, who by refusing to hearken to God's voice, provoked him so far, that he swore to them in his wrath, that they should never enter into his rest. O remember that 'the day of the Lord and his judgments shall come as a snare upon all them that will not watch,' Luke xxi. 55.

Conclude to enter now into the true spirit of this holy time - which is a penitential spirit - and to prepare the way of the Lord, by putting away all thy sins, and purifying thy soul for him; thus shalt thou welcome him at his coming, and shalt be welcome to him.



2nd Dec.


On wat we must do to prepare the way of the Lord

Consider first, that the church, in the office appointed for this holy time, frequently puts us in mind of the mission and preaching of St. John the Baptist, and of the manner in which he endeavoured to prepare the people for Christ; to the end that we may learn, from the doctrine of this great forerunner of our Lord, in what dispositions we ought also to be if we would duly prepare the way for him. Now what the Baptist continually preached to the people was; that they should turn from their evil ways, and do penance, because the kingdom of heaven was at hand; that they should bring forth fruits worthy of penance, if they would escape the wrath to come - and this without delay - for that now the axe was laid at the root of the tree, and that every tree that did not bring forth good fruit should be cut up and cast into the fire. That they should not flatter themselves with the expectation of impunity or security, because they had Abraham for their father; for that God was able to raise up from the very stones children to Abraham; and therefore without a thorough conversion from their sins, they were to expect that the kingdom of God, and the grace and dignity of being children of Abraham, (the father of all the faithful,) should be taken away from them and given to the Gentiles. He added, that he baptized them indeed with water unto penance; but that another should come after him that should 'baptize them with the Holy Ghost and with fire; that his fan was in his hand, and that he should thoroughly cleanse his floor, and gather his wheat into the barn; but the chaff he would burn with unquenchable fire,' Matt. iii. This was the way St. John prepared the people for Christ; and it is by conforming ourselves in practice to these his lessons, at this holy time, that we must also prepare the way of the Lord, and be prepared for him.

Consider 2ndly, that the great theme of the preaching of St. John, in order to prepare the way of the Lord, was the virtue of penance; inasmuch as this was the only means by which sinners could ever effectually be reconciled to God, after actual mortal sin; and therefore this theme was at all times perpetually inculcated by all that were ever sent with commission from God to reclaim unhappy souls that had gone astray from him. It is then by this virtue of penance we also are to prepare the way of the Lord, at this holy time; this is the proper devotion for the time of Advent. Now this virtue of penance, (which always was, always is, and always will be, absolutely and indispensably necessary for the bringing back sinners to God,) implies three things: first, the renouncing and destroying of all our sins, by which we have offended so good a God; secondly, a turning of ourselves to God with our whole heart, and a dedicating ourselves henceforward to him both for time and eternity; and thirdly, an offering of ourselves to him, to make him what satisfaction we can for our past offences, by a penitential life. Christians, this is our great business at this holy time, if we hope to prepare ourselves for Christ; this is the proper exercise for it - to pass over in our mind, in the bitterness of our soul, all our years that have been spent in sin; to bewail and lament every day of this holy season, all our past treasons against the divine majesty; to turn now to God with our whole heart; to offer our whole souls to him; to exercise ourselves in his love, and to enter into new articles with him of an eternal allegiance, with a full determination of rather dying than being any more disloyal to him; and letting not one day pass without offering him some penitential satisfaction for our past guilt, to be united to, and sanctified by the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. O! how happy are they that employ the time of Advent in this manner! O! how willingly will our Lord, at the approaching Christmas, communicate himself to such souls as these.

Consider 3rdly, that at the approaching solemnity of Christmas, the church, by thrice celebrating the sacred mysteries on the same day, commemorates three different births of Christ: his eternal birth from his father; his temporal birth from his mother; and his spiritual birth by which he is born by grace in our souls. Hence the best devotion for the time of Christmas, is that which conduces the most to bring Christ into our souls by this spiritual birth; and consequently the best devotion for the time of Advent is to cleanse and to purify our souls, that he may find nothing in them that may disqualify them for his visits, or hinder him from coming to be spiritually born in us. For he will never come into an unclean soul, nor be born in a mansion where Satan resides. See then, my soul, what measures thou art to take, at this holy time, to prepare thy Inward house for the spiritual birth of this king of glory: 1. Thou must cleanse and purify it from sin and Satan; 2. Thou must adorn it with virtue and piety; and 3. Thou must daily invite thy Lord thither by fervent prayer; thus shalt thou prepare the way of the Lord in the manner that is best pleasing to him.

Conclude to put in practice all these lessons to the best of thy power, at this holy time: an Advent spent in this manner, in devotion and penance, cannot fail of bringing thee a happy Christmas.



3rd Dec.



Consider first, that Christ our Lord did not only teach us his heavenly truths by his preaching, by his parables, and by his maxims laid down in the gospel, but his whole life, and all his actions were designed to be an instruction to us; and that his miracles in particular were not only wrought to confirm our faith and our hope in him, and to be so many evidences of his goodness and charity to poor mortals; but to give us also great lessons for our practice, if we would take care to look well into them, and to learn the mysterious meaning of them. Especially, we must ever remember, that as the diseases and corporal infirmities we are liable so in this life, mystically represent the spiritual maladies of our vices and passions, so we are to learn from the miracles wrought by our redeemer, in healing all manner of diseases of the body, to apply continually to him for the cure of the like diseases in the soul, which are indeed the far more grievous evils of the two, and if not healed, are attended with far more dreadful consequences. But alas! how seldom do the children of this world take to heart the seeking of the cure of these spiritual diseases; or apply in a proper manner to this great physician for his aid; who when he was here upon earth, never cast off any that applied to him? So much more are worldlings concerned for the body than for the soul; for time than for eternity. O my soul, let us at least be more wise.

Consider 2ndly, what were the miracles which our Saviour more frequently wrought, from the time of his first beginning to preach his gospel. 'He went about all Galilee,' says St. Matthew, 'healing all manner of sickness, and all manner of disease among the people; and his fame went throughout all Syria, and they brought to him all sick people, &c., and such as were possessed by devils, and lunatics, and paralytics, and he healed them,' Matt. iv. 23. And there 'came to him great multitudes, having with them he dumb, the blind, and the lame, the maimed, and many others; and they cast them down at his feet, and he healed them,' Matt. xv. 30. 'And whithersoever he entered into towns, or into villages or cities, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might but touch the hem of his garment, and as many as touched him were made whole,' Mark vi. 56. 'and all the multitude sought to touch him, for virtue went out from him and healed all,' Luke vi. 19. See, Christians, how ready your Lord was, during his mortal life, to cure all kinds of bodily diseases, and how wholesome it was to come near to him, or to touch either him or his garments, by reason of the virtue that went out from him to heal all. O assure yourselves, he is no less ready or willing now to heal your souls; for his power, his mercy, his goodness, his charity and love for you know no bounds! It is no ways diminished since he shed his blood for the love of you, and carried it with him into the sanctuary of heaven, there to present it to his father in your behalf. Examine then, and see what our diseases are, and run with confidence to him for your cure. You need not go far to seek him: for though he is gone to heaven, he still will be with you even to the end of the world. You may find him in the Eucharist; where a virtue continually goes out from him, for the healing of all; you may find him at any time, and in any place, in this divine person; especially in his temple, in the centre of your souls; for there is no place in which he either more willingly resides, or more frequently works his wonders, than in the interior of such Christians, as duly seek him by a spirit of recollection and an internal life.

Consider 3rdly, that 'Christ our Lord continually went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed by the devil,' Acts x. 38. As he came to deliver men from the tyranny and slavery of the devil, so his miracles were most frequently wrought in casting out devils; in destroying the works of the devil, and in forcing Satan out of his usurped dominions. See, Christians, what occasion your souls may have for this fort of miracles. Are they not spiritually possessed, or besieged by this wicked spirit; by the means of some or other of the capital sins; for where any of these are predominant, there Satan reigns. Does not this wicked one render you spiritually deaf and dumb, with regard to the voice of God, and the confession of your sins? Does he not bend you down to the earth by worldly affections, like the crooked woman in the gospel, Luke xiii. 16. Does he not make you blind, by obstructing your interior sight, with regard to the light of truth, &c.? In all these cases you must run to Christ our Lord to be dispossessed, or to be delivered from this mortal enemy of your souls. Christ's hand is not shortened; he will cast out this wicked one, at your humble request; but O take care not to be of the number of those who, by wholly giving themselves up to their carnal passions, are rather swine than Christians; for of such as these the devil has so great a hold, that he will not easily be cast out. Our Lord himself gave a licence to a whole legion of devils to enter into swine, and whither did they hurry them, but down a precipice into a deep, where they all perished; Take care this never be your case!

Conclude to consider henceforward the miracles of our Lord, not only as confirmations of the truth of the Christian faith, and evidences of the power, mercy, and goodness of the author of it, and consequently as strong inducements to believe in him, hope in him, and love him above all things - but also to study well the practical lessons which are to be learnt from these miracles; inasmuch as they point out to us the sovereign means of ridding ourselves of all our evils, by having recourse, with a lively faith and humble prayer, to the great source of all our good.



4th Dec.



Consider first, that the cleansing the leprosy is one of those miracles of our Lord which is more particularly instructive, because the leprosy was an emblem or figure of sin. Hence we find so many prescriptions in the Levitical law, (Lev. xiii. and xiv.,) with regard to such as had contracted the leprosy; and the judgment that was to be made of them by the priest, to whose inspection they were committed by the law; and the rites and sacrifices by which they were to be cleansed; which were all figurative and expressive of what was to be done by, or for them, who had contracted the spiritual leprosy of sin. The first mentioned to have been cleansed by our Lord of his leprosy, was he that came (after our Saviour's coming down from the mountain, Matt. viii. 2, 3) And worshipped him, saying: 'Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying: I will: be thou made clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.' See Christians, by this example, in what manner you are to apply to your Lord, if you desire to be cleansed of your spiritual leprosy. See with what a strong and lively faith, accompanied with a profound humility, this leper presents himself before our Saviour; and learn to imitate him. Faith and humility are very efficacious with your heavenly physician. It was appointed, Levit. xiii. 44, &c., that whosoever was defiled with the leprosy, and separated by the judgment of the priest, should keep a respectful distance, with regard to the rest of the faithful; and should both by his outward habit, and by the cry of his voice, declare aloud, that he was defiled and unclean, to signify the humble dispositions which are necessary in the case of the spiritual leprosy before we can expect to meet with a cure.

Consider 2ndly, how our Lord having cleansed the leper, to teach us to avoid all ostentation and vain glory in doing good, said to him: 'See thou tell no man: but go show thyself to the priest and offer the gift which Moses commanded, for a testimony to him.' Our Lord sent those whom he cleansed from the leprosy to the priest, to conform to the prescription of the law of Moses; and at the same time, to give us to understand that even when, by the grace of a perfect contrition, he cleanses souls from the leprosy of sin, he still expects that they should show themselves to his priest, by a sincere confession of their sins; in consequence of his divine law, by which he has given to his priest the inspection and judgment of the leprosy of the soul; with the power of binding and loosing forgiving and retaining sins; and the dispensation of all the mysteries and sacraments. The person that was cleansed from the leprosy, and sent to the priest, was ordered to offer the the gift which Moses commanded, and consequently to observe the other prescriptions of the law (Levit. xii.). He was, in order to his purification, to be sprinkled seven times with the blood of a bird, immolated over living waters; he was to wash all his clothes; he was to shave all his hair; and to be washed himself all over with water; and then after seven days he was to offer a burnt offering, and a sin offering; and to be fully cleansed and expiated by the blood of the lamb, offered for sin, and by the oil of the sacrifice, that had been sprinkled seven times before the Lord; to signify to us, by these mysterious ceremonies, that such as desire to be thoroughly cleansed from the spiritual leprosy of sin, must by repeated washings of their consciences with the waters of compunction, by frequently sprinkling their souls with the blood of the Lamb of God, and by the applying to the the unction of their sevenfold grace of the Holy Ghost, attain to this perfect purification.

Consider 3rdly, what we read, Luke xvii., of ten other lepers, who applied to our Lord for their cure: 'they stood afar off, and lifted up their voices, saying: Jesus, O master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said, Go show yourselves to the priest. And it came to pass, that as they went, they were cleansed.' See, my soul, how quickly thy Lord is moved to show mercy to them that with a loud cry call for mercy; that is with a loud cry of fervent prayer, joined with a profound humility, and a true sense of their own misery and unworthiness; expressed in the case of these men by their standing afar off, as not daring to come nearer to our Lord, by reason of their uncleanness. O let us learn to apply to our Saviour for the cure of our spiritual leprosy, with the like fervour and humility! But then mark also what follows: 'And one of them, when he saw that he was cleansed, went back, and with a loud voice glorified God: and he fell on his face before his feet, giving thanks, and this man was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering, said, Were there not ten made clean? And where are the nine? There is no one found to return, and to give glory to God, but this stranger.' O Christians, let us learn by this example the sentiments of love and gratitude, devotion and humility with which we ought to praise and glorify God, after being cleansed by his mercy from the unhappy leprosy of sin; the great value also we ought to set upon the grace of our purification and reconciliation to his divine majesty; and the care we ought to take never more to incur this worst of all uncleanness and of evils. alas! where these sentiments are wanting in penitents, it is much to be apprehended, that they are not far off from relapsing again into their former leprosy, and that in a worse degree than before.

Conclude to dread and to fly from the spiritual leprosy of sin more than from any other evil; but if at any time you have reason to apprehend that you have incurred this dreadful uncleanness, learn from the foregoing considerations to whom, and in what manner, you are to apply for your cure, and how you are to behave after having found this mercy.



5th Dec.


On Our Lord's stilling the storm at sea and feeding the multitude

Consider first, the lessons we are to learn from the miracle of Christ's stilling the storm at sea by his word, Matt. viii. 23, &c., 'He entered into a ship, and his disciples followed him. And behold a great storm arose at sea, so that the ship was covered with the waves; but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awakened him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And Jesus said to them: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up, he commanded the winds and the sea, and there came a great calm.' Christians, we are all embarked as it were in a ship during our mortal life, in order to sail towards the haven of a blessed eternity. And for our comfort we have on board with us not only the disciples of Christ, that is, the pastors of the church, the successors of the apostles but also our Lord himself, according to his promise, Matt xxviii. 20, 'Lo, I am with you all days, even to the end of the world.' In this voyage we are often exposed to storms, which threaten sometimes the whole church - as in cases of grievous persecutions, heresies, or other more general evils; at other times we are in danger from temptations and tribulations, from which, more or less, no one can expect to be exempted in the midst of the winds and waves of the boisterous ocean of this world. But we have Christ on board with us, and therefore we have nothing to fear if we will but have proper recourse to him, with a lively faith and confidence in him. And though he oftentimes seems to sleep, and defers his aid, for a trial of our faith, and to make us more sensible of the necessity we have of him, and more earnest in praying to him, he will not fail in his good time, (if we continue, like his disciples, calling out to him, 'Lord, save us: we perish,') to rise up, and to command the winds and the sea, and restore a calm.

Consider 2ndly, the lessons we are also to learn from the miracles of our Saviour's feeding at one time five thousand men with five loaves, and at another time four thousand with seven loaves. Our Lord himself has taught us, upon occasion of the former of these miracles, John vi. 26, 27, that we are not to seek or to follow him for the sake of the loaves - that is, for procuring a corporal livelihood or any temporal advantage - for this would be but catching at the shadow and losing the substance - that 'we are not to labour for the meat that perisheth, but for that,' said he, 'which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man will give you.' So that the great lesson he would have us to learn from his feeding the multitude is, that we should have recourse to him for the food and nourishment of our souls unto everlasting life; for that he himself is the living and life-giving bread, which, without any consumption or diminution, he distributes to all those that come to him, seeking from him the refreshment of their souls, either by communicating himself to them really in the holy sacrament, or spiritually by a communion of faith and love.

Consider 3rdly, in the miracles of our Lord's feeding the multitude, what other lessons may be learnt from the circumstances in which he wrought these wonders. 'I have compassion,' said he, 'on the multitude; for behold, they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat; and if I sent them away fasting to their own houses they will faint on the way, for some of them came from afar off,' Mark viii. 2, 3. The people whom he favoured with these miracles had followed him into the desert; they had preferred the attending upon him, and the hearing of his divine word, before all other occupations or recreations; they had continued with him for three whole days, without taking any thought for their bodily nourishment; and therefore our Lord, after feeding their souls with the word of life, and healing all that stood in need of cure, was pleased to provide also for their corporal sustenance, according to what he promised, Matt vi. 33, 'Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things (that is, meat, drink, and clothes,) shall be added unto you.' Learn from hence, Christians, what wonders your Saviour is disposed to work In favour of those that follow him into the wilderness by a spiritual retreat - that is, by retiring from the noise and hurry of the world to attend upon him; that are not quickly wearied with his company, but continue diligently with him, (notwithstanding the difficulties and oppositions they meet with from the world, the flesh, and the devil,) and that gladly hearken to his divine word. O! such as these will not fail of being refreshed by him.

Conclude to follow Christ into the wilderness by making at least a little wilderness for him in thy own soul, and there frequently attending upon him by recollection and mental prayer, assure thyself that he will never send thee away fasting, but will have compassion of thee, and frequently feed thee with his hidden manna, lest thou faint in the way; for thou hast as yet a great way to go before thou canst reach thy eternal home.

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6th Dec.

On the lessons that are to be learnt from other miracles of Our Lord

Consider first, that the miracles of our Lord were generally wrought in favour of such as applied to him with a lively faith and profound humility, or by the means of earnest prayer; to teach us the great efficacy of faith, of humility, and of fervent prayer, and to encourage us to seek the cure of our souls with the like dispositions. Thus the woman that had laboured for twelve years under the issue of blood, humbly coming behind our Lord, in the crowd, and touching the hem of his garment, was instantly healed in reward of her faith, as our Lord himself assured her, Luke viii 48. Thus the centurion, by his faith and humility, obtained of our Lord the immediate cure of his servant by those words: 'Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof: speak only the word, and my servant shall be healed,' Matt. viii 8. Thus the woman of Canaan, by her pious importunity, accompanied with the like faith and humility, obtained the cure of her daughter, Matt. xv. 28. And so in many other cases. Whilst at other times those that have only presented themselves before our Saviour, without presuming either to touch him or his garments, or even so much as to speak to him - by the silent eloquence of their humility have obtained their cure, as in the case of the man that had the dropsy, Luke xiv. O let us learn this kind of eloquence!

Consider 2ndly, the particular lessons we may learn from the miraculous cure of the paralytic, (Matt. ix. and Luke v.) Our Lord was teaching in a house, surrounded by a great crowd of people, so that there was no coming in through the door, when behold, men brought in a bed a man that had the palsy, desiring to present him before him, but not finding by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went up upon the roof of the house, which was flat, and uncovering it let him down through the tiles, with his bed, by ropes, into the midst before Jesus. See here what pains were taken by these men to come to the heavenly physician, from whom they expected the cure of their friend. Who would have thought of men going up to the roof of another person's house, and uncovering it, and letting down a sick man in a bed, over the heads of a crowd? Nothing but a strong faith on the one hand, and an earnest desire of a cure on the other, could ever have suggested such an extraordinary proceeding, which loudly condemns the indolence or indifference of so many Christians nowadays, who lying ill of palsy, which disables them in all their limbs, and threatens them with the approaches of an everlasting death, suffer themselves to be kept off from Christ by every trifling obstacle or apprehension of difficulty. O Christians, where is your faith? Where is your concern for eternity? Why will you not be much more solicitous about the health and welfare of your immortal souls than about those worldly toys, or those carcasses of yours, that must quickly be the food of worms?

Consider 3rdly, how our Lord upon this occasion was pleased to begin the cure of the sick man by first healing his soul from sin: 'Son', said he, 'thy sins are forgiven thee;' to give us to understand that our corporal maladies are oftentimes sent in punishment of our sins, and that the first thing we have to do when visited with sickness is to apply for the remission of our sins by repentance and confession; and then we may expect that the scourge may be removed when the cause is removed. The Scribes and Pharisees took occasion from those words of our Saviour to charge him with blasphemy in their minds; but he, that knew their secret thoughts, publicly confuted them by working so great and evident a miracle, in proof of his power of forgiving sins, as to restore upon the spot both health and strength to the man sick of the palsy, with only these words: 'Arise, take up thy bed, and go into thy house;' upon which the paralytic 'immediately rising up before him, took up the bed on which he lay, and went away to his own house, glorifying God.' See here, my soul, that thou hast a physician in the person of thy redeemer, who is both able and willing to heal all thy infirmities; but see also that he expects of all such as apply to him for their cure that they should lie no longer in their beds, by continuing on in the habits or immediate occasions of their sins, but that they should arise without delay, and take up their beds, by bearing with courage the labour and conflicts of a penitential life, and should make the best of their way, by the exercises of solid virtue, to their true home, glorifying all the way they go, both by their words and by their lives, their great deliverer.

Conclude to spare no means to come to Christ, in order to be healed by him of all thy spiritual diseases; but remember to carry along with thee a lively faith and a profound humility: these will not fail of introducing thee to him, and obtaining of him all thou desirest.




7th Dec.


On Our Lord's giving sight to the blind, and raising the dead to life

Consider first, that our Lord, during his mortal life, often restored the sight of the light of this world to them that were corporally blind; but oftener by far, both then and ever since, has by his great mercy opened the eyes of them that were spiritually blind, to see the light of God, and his eternal truths. He gave sight to him that was born blind, (John ix.,) by spreading clay upon his eyes, and ordering him to wash in the pool of Siloe; (which is interpreted 'sent' to instruct us that we who, according to the soul, are all born blind, by original sin, must have our eyes opened to the light of truth by the application of this mystical clay, of self-knowledge, to our inward eyes; and by being washed in him, who was sent from God, to be the true light of the world. In the supplication we make to him, for the obtaining the sight of this divine light, we must, like the blind men of Jericho, show ourselves quite in earnest, by the fervour and importunity of our prayer; and not be discouraged by the opposition we meet with from the crowd of distractions, &c., that rebukes us, as it were, and seeks to stop our mouths; but cry out so much the more for mercy, even as they did, Matt. xx. 31, and our Lord will not fail to show us the mercy we call for, and to enlighten the eyes of our souls.

Consider 2ndly, that in the gospel we read of three whom our Saviour raised from death to life: one was the daughter of Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, a girl of twelve years old; another was a young man, the son of a widow of the city of Nain; the third was Lazarus of Bethania, the brother of Martha and Mary. The first was but just then dead, and was raised to life by our Lord with two words: 'Talitha cumi;' that is, Girl, arise. The second was carried out in order to be buried; and for the raising of him to life, something more was done; for our Lord came near, and touched the bier, and stopped them that carried it; and then said to the deceased, 'Young man, I say to thee, arise; and he that was dead sat up and began to speak,' &c. But Lazarus had been dead and buried four days; and before our Lord restored him to life we read, John xi., that 'he groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself,' verse 33; that he went to the sepulchre, and wept, verses 34, 35; that he 'groaned again in himself,' and ordered the stone to be taken away, verses 38, 39; that 'He lifted up his eyes to heaven, and prayed to his Father, and then cried, with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth,' verses 41, 42, 43. The first of these represents such souls as have but just now fallen into sin; who by a timely and fervent application to our Lord, who alone can raise the dead to life, may more easily be recovered out of the jaws of death and hell, and brought back to the life of grace. The second represents such souls as are not only fallen into the death of sin, but are already laid upon the bier and carried towards the sepulchre of a sinful habit, by repeated acts of sin. For the raising of these to life, stronger graces are required; signified by our Lord's touching the bier and causing the bearers of it, that is the criminal passions, which are hurrying the poor sinner to his grave, to stop and stand still. But Lazarus represents the more dismal condition of such as are already buried in inveterate habits of mortal sin; whose case requires still more extraordinary graces, signified by tears. groans, prayers, and the loud cry of the Son of God. O! Christians, let us dread the death of sin above all other evils; but much more the being buried in the grave of sinful habits; from which we shall not be raised again, without a greater miracle than even that by which Lazarus was called out of his monument. And who shall dare to be so presumptuous as to go on in his sins, flattering himself with the expectation of such a miracle being wrought in his favour?

Consider 3rdly, that in these miracles wrought by our Lord, in raising the dead to life, we find he was pleased to let himself be moved by the tears of the living, as in the case of the widow's son, and of Lazarus: to encourage us to present to him our prayers and tears, for poor sinners dead and buried in sin; with an humble confidence, that in his great mercy he will have pity on them, (who, alas! have no pity on themselves,) and restore them to life. O what a happiness will it be for a Christian to be instrumental in this manner of bringing back any one from death to life! How agreeable will such prayers and tears be to our good Lord, which deliver a soul from sin and hell; and how beneficial to ourselves in covering a multitude of sins! But mark well the care our Lord took, for the future well-being of those men whom he raised to life. He ordered that they should give to eat to he daughter of Jairus, as soon as her soul was returned into her body, Luke viii. 56; to signify, that the sovereign means to keep her soul in life, and to recover her strength and health, is a frequent and worthy participation of the blessed sacrament. He had no sooner given life to the widow's son, in consideration of her tears, but he delivered him to his mother, Luke vii. 15; to signify the special care he expects from the church, the common mother of all the faithful, of all these her children, whom by his grace he brings back from the death of sin, at the intercession of her prayers and tears. And with regard to Lazarus, whom he called out of his monument, bound feet and hands with winding bands, &c., he immediately ordered that they should 'loose him, an let him go,' John xi. 44; to signify the necessity of discharging the bands of the affections and occasions of sin, in order to maintain a new life in such as were buried a little while before in bad habits; and to the end they may be qualified henceforward to go; that is, to begin and to continue the great journey they are to make to the mountain of eternity.

Conclude, from the consideration of these miracles of our Saviour, to have recourse to him on all occasions, with a humble confidence in his mercy and goodness, for obtaining of light, life and all other good, both for thyself and thy neighbours. Thou canst not do him a greater pleasure, nor thyself a greater service.



8th Dec.


Tota pulchra es, Maria, es macula originalis non est in te.

Consider first, how man who was originally created in justice and sanctity - to be happy here in grace and innocence, and eternally happy hereafter in the enjoyment of his creator - having wretchedly fallen from God by sin, and forfeited his original justice with all the advantages annexed to it; and incurred at the same time all kinds of miseries, both for time and eternity; out of which it was not in his power to extricate himself, by anything that he could do of himself - the infinite goodness of God, out of pure pity and compassion, was pleased to decree that his own eternal Son should come down from heaven to be our Saviour; to redeem us from all our sins with his most precious blood; to bring along with him mercy, grace, and salvation to us, and by his death to open to us the gates of everlasting life. O Christians, it is this infinite goodness of our God that we must never forget. It calls aloud for all the return we are able to make of love and gratitude, of adoration, praise, and glory; and a total dedication of our whole being to the service of our great deliverer, for all our time, and for all eternity. O may all heaven and earth, with all the angels and saints, bless and glorify his mercy, bounty, and love for us!

Consider 2ndly, that God, having thus decreed to give us his only Son for our Saviour, was pleased to reveal this great mystery from the very beginning to our first parents; and afterwards from time to time to the patriarchs and prophets, and others his servants; to the end that this might be in all ages the capital object of the faith of all true believers; and that as non could ever attain to eternal salvation but through the merits of the Son of God made man for us, so all might approach to God, for mercy and grace, through faith in him. In the meantime the divine wisdom, which had created the world in six days, was pleased to employ full four thousand years in preparing the world for this great redeemer. All the most remarkable passages of sacred history, recorded in holy writ, have all some relation to him or his church; all the most eminent servants of God and deliverers of his people, were so many figures and forerunners of him: the whole law, with all its sacrifices and ceremonies, alluded to him, and to the great sacrifice he was to offer. The writings of the prophets and the psalms are full of him. Now, when the time of his coming drew near, God, who had done great things long before for the whole people of the Hebrews in general and for that family in particular of which he would have his Son to be born into the world, was pleased to do still greater things in favour of her whom he had chosen, in his eternal decrees, to bring forth this Lord of glory and Saviour of the world. These great things wrought for her, even in her very conception, we celebrate in the festival of this day; to glorify him that wrought them; and to honour her for whom they were wrought. Our Lord, in taking her for his mother, and us for his brethren, has authorized us to consider her as our mother also; to have recourse to her as such; and to rejoice in all her advantages. We cannot love the Son of God, and be indifferent in what relates to the honour of his mother.

Consider 3rdly, that the Son of God, making choice of this blessed Virgin to be his mother, was pleased to prepare her for this near alliance with him, by that extraordinary grace of keeping her ever pure from sin, either original or actual, mortal or venial; for so it was becoming that she who was to bear in her womb, and to bring forth to the world purity itself, should never be defiled with any spot or stain of sin. Learn from hence, Christian souls, the care you ought to take to keep yourselves pure, if you hope to be agreeable to the eyes of this same Lord. Learn to purify yourselves from all sin, as often as you approach to him, to receive him in the sacred mysteries: an as the particular devotion of this holy time of Advent should be to prepare yourselves in such manner for worthily celebrating the birth of Christ, as that you also be partakers in this great mystery by his coming to you, and being spiritually born in you - see you make it your business now to dispose yourselves for so great a happiness, by purifying yourselves from all defilement either of the flesh or of the spirit, and thus preparing a proper place within you for the Lord of glory to be born in.

Conclude to honour the immaculate conception of the blessed Virgin, by a perpetual love of purity in all its branches; and an imitation of her purity, as far as thy frailty and corruption will admit of: thus mayest thou hope that the fountain of all purity will come also to thee, and be spiritually born in thee.



9th Dec.

On the purity with which we ought to prepare our souls for Christ

Consider first, that he who prepared the blessed Virgin to be the mother of his Son, by this early care to keep her pure in the very conception, would thereby give us to understand what dispositions he expects in us, in order to our being also qualified for the spiritual conception and birth of the same Lord in our souls. For as we could never have been happy if the Son of God had not been born into this world for us, so we never can be happy if he be not also spiritually received and born in us. No, my soul, we must put off the old man, and put on the new, which is Jesus Christ, before we can come to God; and this putting on the new man must be effected by his being spiritually conceived in our souls. Now he can never come to any soul, to be spiritually conceived or born there, if that soul be not clean; for though he humbled himself so far as to be born in a poor stable, yet he will not be born in an unclean soul, because such a soul is the habitation of unclean spirits, and therefore cannot be a proper place for his spiritual birth. It is then by cleanness of conscience and purity we must prepare the way of the Lord, if we hope to have a share in the happiness he offers us by his incarnation and birth; without this his coming will be to our condemnation.

Consider 2ndly, that this cleanness and purity, which is indispensably necessary for the spiritual conception and birth of Christ in our souls, must be, at least, exemption from all wilful and deadly sin. For wherever wilful and deadly sin resides, there is the seat of Satan; there he resides and reigns, and consequently there can be no room for the birth of Christ in such a soul. so that the first and most essential branch of Christian purity, without which God has no part in us, (Job xxxi. 2,) and we have no part in him, is a purity of conscience at least from mortal sin; joined with a fixed determination of the soul, for no consideration whatsoever; for no honour, interest, or pleasure; for no fear, or love, or human respect; for no promises or allurements on the one hand, or terrors and threats on the other; in fine, for nothing that the world can either give or take away, ever to consent, so much as in thought, to any such sin. Christians, what are your dispositions in this respect? Are your consciences either pure or clear from all deadly sin by innocence, or cleansed by penitence? Are your souls in a proper condition to welcome Christ? Are you in a settled resolution to give up the dominion of your souls to this great king, who desires to be born there and to live there? Are you willing to sacrifice to his will and pleasure all other loves that offer to oppose his reign, so as to be ready to part even with life itself, rather that with your allegiance to him? This is the purity of conscience he absolutely insists upon, and nothing less will satisfy him. If you are not in this disposition, you are none of his, and he will not be born in you.

Consider 3rdly, that to welcome Christ in a suitable manner, you must not content yourselves with having your consciences only cleansed from all mortal sin, or your souls only settled in a resolution of never more being guilty, upon any consideration, of such sins as may eternally separate you from your God, and cast you into hell; this is but a low degree of Christian purity, and those that aim no higher are in great danger of not even arriving so far. To make light of smaller sins; to be indifferent about Christian perfection; to pretend to no more than the avoiding hell; to indulge one's self in a negligent, lukewarm way of living, and in a variety of evil habits and known sins which one is willing to suppose are only venial, with little or no concern about the offence we commit against God, or any serious thought of amendment - so far from being a proper disposition to prepare the soul for the spiritual birth of Christ, is indeed the broad road to mortal sin, and too often ends in hell. A generous Christian, and one that is a true lover of his God, does not stand to inquire, whether the doing this or that will send his soul to hell or not. It is enough to determine him to avoid it with all his power, to know that it offends his God, whom he loves with his whole heart; and therefore he dreads more the doing anything that is displeasing in his eyes, than either death or hell itself. My soul, are these thy dispositions?

Conclude to make it thy business, now at least, to labour for this perfect purity of conscience, not only from all deadly sin, but also from all known deliberate venial sins; and much more from indulging thyself in the habit of any such sin. For how canst thou expect that infinite purity should be willing to take up his abode in thy soul, if thou art not careful to keep it clean, at least from all wilful and affected stains?



10th Dec.


On the purifying interior powers of the soul

Consider first, that as this spiritual conception and birth of Christ is to be perfected in our interior, so in order to dispose ourselves effectually for so great a happiness, and that it may continue with us into life everlasting, by our abiding always in Christ, and Christ's abiding always in us, we must be ever jealous of the purity of the interior powers of the soul. 'All the glory of the king's daughter (the Christian soul) is within,' Ps. xliv.; there is to be the residence of the Lord of glory; the beauty of the interior is to attract him thither; and this beauty depends upon keeping these inward powers of the soul in a proper state of purity. See then, Christians, if you desire to have Christ with you, that you take proper care: - 1. To purify your understanding from all its errors, false opinions, and affected ignorances, by obliging it to open its eyes to the light of divine truths, in the exercise of meditation and mental prayer; 2. To purify your memory from all its impertinent amusements, distractions, and evagations, by accustoming it to the remembrance of God, and a recollection of thought; 3. To purify your will from all its disorderly affections, by fixing your heart upon solid and eternal goods, but especially upon your sovereign good, which is God himself. Thus shall your whole souls be agreeable to him.

Consider 2ndly, that one of the greatest enemies to this interior purity, (which is so necessary to bring Christ into our souls, and to fix him there,) is that unhappy dissipation of mind, in which many Christians pass their days, always thinking, but very seldom thinking on anything to the purpose. Alas! 'tis too true that the minds of the generality of men are a constant thoroughfare of vain amusements, of empty, idle, impertinent thoughts, succeeding one another all the day long, and leaving little or no room for God, or the things of God and the soul, to come in, or to make any lasting impression. Thus the inward castle is left quite unguarded, and the enemy has free access to come and rifle, and even murder the soul at pleasure, by suggesting a variety of criminal thoughts, which are admitted without resistance, through the supine carelessness and licentiousness of the mind; whilst on the other hand, the divine grace is shut out from such souls, by their whole attention being engaged by these toys and trifles; so that when God would come, and would visit them, they are not at home for him, but are going gadding abroad after other impertinences. See, my soul, if this be not thy case; and if it be, seek a remedy without delay, or there will be no room for Christ in thee. Now, the only remedy is a recollection of spirit, and an attention to God in all thy ordinary actions and employments.

Consider 3rdly, that if it be so necessary, in order to conceive and to bring forth Christ in thy interior, to maintain the purity of thy mind, by recollection of thought, it must be no less necessary to maintain also the purity of thy heart, by banishing from thence all disorderly affections; for these are no less apt to disqualify the soul for this spiritual conception and birth of Christ in her; they are no less unclean and disagreeable in his eyes, and no less opposite to his reign. Neither can the purity of the mind and of the thought be maintained without the purity of the affection and of the heart, for the mind and the thought are generally bent upon such objects as the heart affects - we think most upon what we love most; and therefore if the affections of our heart are impure, our thoughts will also be impure; for where our treasure is, there both our hearts and our thoughts will be. Now that love alone is pure, which makes God its treasure; and all such affections are impure as take off the heart from God, and make it seek its treasure in something that is not God, or which at least divides the heart between God and the creature. And these are the disorderly affections that must be banished in order to dispose the soul for Christ.

Conclude to examine well, and to set thy interior in order, particularly with regard to these two branches of purity, viz.: the purity of the mind and the purity of the heart. For Christ will not come to be spiritually born in any soul, or to make his abode in any soul where he is not allowed to be sole master both of the mind and of the heart. Therefore the mind must be set free from the servitude of useless thoughts and impertinent amusements, and the heart from the servitude of misplaced affections, and every fond, sensual, worldly, or distracting love, to make place for the birth of Christ, and his reign in the soul. The soul that desires to have Christ with her, must endeavour to be like the spouse in the canticles, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up. Dissipation of thought, and all disorderly affections, bring such company into the soul as the Son of God will not endure.



11th Dec.



Consider first, that this Christian purity, which is to prepare the way for Christ in us, and to dispose us to give him a proper entertainment, must not be confined to the interior powers of the soul, but ought to extend itself also to the whole body of our actions. As the tree ought to be pure, so ought the fruits also, for the tree is known by its fruits. Now, our fruits are our actions; so that these must be pure, or else we shall not be pure, not duly qualified for that happy union with Christ, which we are to aspire to at this approaching solemnity: for that which is impure cannot be in proper condition to be united with the sovereign purity. Now for our actions to be pure it is not enough that what we do be good in itself; it must also be good in all its circumstances, for any one vicious circumstance is enough to corrupt the whole. But that on which the purity of our actions principally depends is the purity of our intention, according to that of the gospel, Matt. vi. 22, 23, 'If thy eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome; but if thy eye be evil, thy whole body shall be darksome.' For the eye of the soul is the intention, which is then single when the view of the soul is carried towards God in all that she does; but when the intention is turned off from God and looks at something else, the eye is evil and the work is darksome.

Consider 2ndly, that all Christian virtue depends upon this purity of intention: the meanest of our actions are ennobled by it, and the highest and the most esteemed by men are good for nothing in the sight of God without it. Now the perfection of this purity of intention is to act in all things from the motive of the love of God; for the greater glory of God, and in conformity to the will of God. This carries the soul up to God, and brings down God to the soul: this produces a happy union of the soul with her God. Christians, see here the shortest way to all good, and the sovereign means of arriving at the height of perfection. The practice of this requires - 1. That you should begin all your days and all your works with God, by offering them all up to him and to his service. 2. That you should consult his divine will in all things, and make it the rule of all you do. 3. That you should watch over yourselves, both in the beginning and in the progress of every work you take in hand, that you may exclude all by-motives, suggested by your self-love, human respect, interest, pleasure, or passion. 4. That you should often renew the directing of your attention to God, and should endeavour to season all your ordinary actions and employments with frequent aspirations or breathings of the soul towards him.

Consider 3rdly, that the two capital enemies of purity of intention, those which spiritual persons in particular have most occasion to guard against, are vainglory and pride. The difference between the two is, that vainglory consist in loving and desiring to be esteemed by others, whereas pride consist in a vain esteem of one's self; vainglory makes persons ever turn their eyes upon what others may say or think of their words or actions; it makes them perfect idolaters of a point of honour, of the esteem, reputation, and approbation of the world: but pride makes them full of themselves, measuring as it were themselves on every occasion, and their performances with those of others, and still giving themselves the preference before others, ever turning their eye upon their own excellence, building on their own lights, resolutions, strength, or capacity, and taking a secret complacency in themselves and in all the good they do. Both the one and the other are infinitely pernicious to the soul, by turning off her eyes from God, and consequently robbing her of all the fruit of her good works, and make them all rotten at heart, and good for nothing in the sight of God; they even pervert the best of her performances to her eternal condemnation, by shutting out God from them, and giving the preference to these devils of pride and vainglory before him. As long as these have possession of the soul there will be nothing but corruption there, and no room for the spiritual birth of Christ.

Conclude to aim at all times at a purity in all thy actions, by purifying thy intention from all pride and vainglory, and from every other thing that may turn off thy eye from God. Let God be the beginning and end of all thou doest; and take care to give to every action its full perfection, by doing all for God's greater glory, and our of the pure motive of his divine love, and the very meanest of thy daily actions will suffice to make thee a saint. Whereas, neither long prayers, nor large alms, nor converting millions of souls, nor working of miracles, nor giving thy body to the flames, will avail thee anything if thy intention be vitiated by pride or vainglory.



12th Dec.


Consider first, that after the blessed Virgin had been prepared by the purity of her conception and by the purity of her life, by the purity of her soul and of her body, of her heart and of her mind, and of all her actions and intentions, to conceive in her sacred womb the Son of God, whom she had long before conceived in her soul - the time appointed by our Lord being now come, the Archangel Gabriel was sent to her from heaven, upon the most solemn embassage that ever was: viz., to treat with this most humble maid, concerning the great work of the incarnation of the Eternal Word, by his taking flesh of her, in order to the redemption of mankind from Satan, sin, and hell, and reconciliation with God; and in order to establishment of a new law, a new and everlasting covenant, a kingdom of heaven upon earth by grace, in favour of all that should embrace this grace, and an eternal kingdom for them hereafter in glory. But give ear now, my soul, to the angel's address, and mark every work of it. The angel being come in, said to her: 'Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women,' Luke I. 28. He greeted her with the word Ave or Hail, a word of salutation or congratulation with her, for all that God had done and was about to do in her favour, and for his choosing her to be the happy instrument that should give birth to the source of all our good. O let heaven and earth join in this Ave of salutation and congratulation! as all heaven and earth are highly interested in the issue of this most sacred negotiation, which is to bring us innumerable benefits, both for time and eternity, by the incarnation of the Son of God! and see, my soul, thou never forget to testify thy grateful sense of the share designed for thee in these graces and benedictions, by daily joining with suitable devotion in this holy salutation and congratulation, as often as thou repeatest the Ave Maria

Consider 2ndly, how the angel, in his salutation, styles the blessed Virgin 'full of grace,' signify the supereminent degree of divine grace to which God elevated her soul, to prepare her to be the mother of his Son. For she was full of all that habitual grace which justifies and sanctifies the soul; full of faith and hope; full of divine charity, in both its branches; ever loving God with her whole heart, with her whole soul, with all her mind, and with all her strength, and loving her neighbour as herself; she was full of humility, meekness, patience, obedience, and all other moral virtues; she was full of wisdom, godliness, the fear of the Lord, and all other gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit; her memory was full of holy thoughts; words, and works; her works were all full, by the purity of intention, of the fervour and love with which she performed them all. Many saints have been full of grace; but none like this queen and mother of all the saints, whose grace was proportioned to the great designs that God had upon her, and to the supereminent dignity to which she was chosen, of being mother of God. O congratulate, my soul, with the blessed Virgin, for this her fullness of grace, which went on continually increasing for the whole time of her life, by the good use she continually made of all God's gifts; and beg through her intercession, that thou mayest, like her, faithfully correspond and diligently co-operate with every divine grace.

Consider 3rdly, how the angel adds in his salutation, 'the Lord is with thee;' to signify the source from which all her fullness of grace flowed, and the extraordinary manner of God's communicating himself and all his graces to this most highly favoured of all his creatures. For our Lord was not only with the blessed Virgin by his essence, his presence, and his power, as he is with all men; not only by his sanctifying grace, as he is with all the just; but in a most extraordinary manner, by a far more eminent grace, a closer union, and a higher sanctification. And therefore the angel adds, 'blessed art thou amongst women;' to express the super eminence of those graces and benedictions with which she was blessed from heaven, and should still be blessed more and more, as well as the innumerable blessings that should be communicated to all mankind, through the fruit of her womb, and the blessings and praise that should on that account be given her by all generations. For as one woman by disobedience, in hearkening to the suggestions of the infernal serpent, was the beginning of all the maledictions that fell upon all mankind, so one woman, by her humble obedience to the proposals brought her by an angel from heaven, was the beginning of all the benedictions that were to come upon all mankind, from the blessed fruit of her womb, by whom also she crushed that serpent's head who first brought sin and death amongst us. O see, thy soul, with what sentiments of devotion thou oughtest to join with the angel, and with the blessed St. Elizabeth and with the whole church of God, in this solemn address to the virgin lady: 'Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,' Luke I. 24.

Conclude ever to keep up in thy soul a grateful remembrance of all the great things that God has done for the blessed Virgin and for us all, in the incarnation of his Son, by a frequent and devout repetition of the angelical salutation, always concluding it with that pious address of the church: 'Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen'. O how just it is that we should particularly crave the assistance of her prayers for that critical time when we can do the least for ourselves, and when all is at stake for eternity.



13th Dec.


On the wonders of God in the Incarnation of His Son

Consider first, how after the blessed Virgin's consent, and offering herself with a profound humility, with an entire obedience and a perfect conformity to the sacred will of God, by those words: 'Behold the handmaid of the lord, be it done to me according to thy word,' Luke i. 38, the greatest of all the wonders of God, and of all his works, was immediately effected: even a Man-God, the miracle of miracles. For a human body perfect in all its parts, was formed in an instant by the Holy Ghost, out of the purest blood of the blessed Virgin, and a most excellent rational soul was at the same time created; and this body and soul were joined with and assumed by the eternal Word, the second person of the most adorable Trinity. Thus God was made man, and man was made God; and the blessed Virgin was made mother of God. Thus in her womb was celebrated that sacred wedding of our human nature with the divine person of the Son of God, to the feast of which we are invited, Matt. xxii. Thus was our humanity exalted to the very highest elevation, by being united with, and subsisting by the person of, the eternal Word, and we all in consequence of this elevation of our human nature, have also been wonderfully dignified and exalted, by being raised up to a kindred with the most high God, who by taking to himself our nature, has made us all his brothers and sisters; and by assuming our humanity has made us in some measure partakers of his divinity. O my soul, stand thou astonished at these wonders, which will be a subject of the greatest astonishment both to men and angels for all eternity! O admire and adore, praise and love, with all thy power, and with all thy affections, that infinite goodness that has wrought all these wonders out of love to thee!

Consider 2ndly, the wonders of God in all those graces and excellences which he conferred on the soul of Christ and on his sacred humanity, in the first instance of his conception, in consequence of its being united with the divine person - graces and excellences which are all immense and incomprehensible, and which exceed, without any comparison, all the rest of the wondrous works of God, and all whatsoever he has done at any time in favour of any of his saints, or of all of them put together. For God did not give to this his Son his spirit by measure, (John iii. 34,) as to the rest of his saints, but gave all things into his hands, 'and of his fullness we all receive,' John i. 16, even all grace and truth, according to the measure of his giving it to us, Eph. iv. 7. Now these graces and excellences we may reduce under the following heads: 1. An immense purity from all manner of sin or imperfection whatsoever - not as by privilege but in his own right, as being the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world. 2. The grace of sanctity, incomparable exceeding that of all the angels and saints put together; from whence he is called the holy of holies, Dan. ix., that is, the saint of all saints - the Spirit of God resting on him with all his gifts, with an incomprehensible plenitude, Isaias ii. 3. The grace of the beatific vision of the divine essence, and that in the most consummate degree, with proportionable love of the deity and job in God. 4. All the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God. 5. The power of working all kinds of miracle and of raising the dead to life by his own will, with a general command over all the elements and over all nature. 6. The power of excellency in forgiving sins, converting sinners, changing their hearts, ordaining sacraments and sacrifices, and distributing amongst men graces and super-natural gifts. 7. The grace of being the perpetual head of all the church, both of heaven and earth, and the source of all blessings, gifts, and graces that either have been, are at present, or shall at any time be bestowed upon this his mystical body, or any of its members. O what subject have we here, my soul, to bless and praise the eternal Father for all these excellent gifts and graces with which he has enriched his Son, the man Christ Jesus! How ought we also to rejoice and congratulate with the sacred humanity of our Saviour on this occasion, and to give thanks without ceasing for all that share or portion of divine grace we continually derive from this overflowing fountain!

Consider 3rdly, in all these graces and excellences conferred on the humanity of Christ in his incarnation, how that of the prophet was verified, Isaias ix. 6, 'A child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God, the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.' Yes, Christians, these great titles here bestowed on your Saviour by the Spirit of God abundantly declare both the wonders that God wrought for him and those which, through his incarnation, he has wrought also for you in giving him to you; that he might be not only your Saviour, your redeemer, and your deliverer, but also your king, your lawgiver, your teacher, your model, your advocate, your physician, your friend, your high priest, and your victim, your father, and your head - in a word, the source of all your good; the way, the truth and the life, in your regard, by whom alone you can go to God. And do not all these great things, effected by the incarnation of the Son of God, show forth the power, the wisdom, the mercy, and goodness of God, with all the other divine attributes, infinitely more than any of the rest of the works of the Almighty!

Conclude to honour by a lively faith, by a serious and frequent meditation, and a sincere devotion, all those wonders of God, wrought, in the incarnation of his Son, both in favour of him and of us, and to lead henceforward such lives as become those who, by this mystery, have been so highly exalted, and brought so near to the very source of all grace and sanctity.



14th Dec.


On the glory of God in the Incarnation of His Son

Consider first, how the angels, upon occasion of the birth of Christ, sung forth that blessed hymn, recorded Luke ii. 4, 'Glory to God on high, and on earth peace to men of goodwill;' to give us to understand that the incarnation and birth of the Son of God was designed to produce those two principal fruits, the greater glory of God and the peace and reconciliation of man with God. The glory of God shines forth most brightly in the incarnation of his Son by the manifestation of his power, of his wisdom, of his goodness, of his justice, and of his mercy, and by setting all these his divine attributes in their most beautiful light. The almighty power of God is here manifested in all these wonders he wrought in this mystery, and especially in that greatest and most glorious of all his wonderful productions, viz., a God-man - a greater work, without comparison, than the creation of ten thousand worlds. The infinite wisdom of God is here manifested in the contrivance of this wonderful way of uniting God and man, the creator and the creature, which were at an infinite distance from each other, so closely together as to be but one and the same person, and of reconciling by this means man, who was fallen from God by sin, in such manner as that, without his divine majesty departing in the least tittle from what was due to the reparation of his glory, he should continually receive from this one man, for every moment of time and eternity, a homage of adoration, praise, thanksgiving, and love, infinitely more glorious to the deity than all the homages of ten thousand worlds could be, though they were all full of angels and men eternally employed in nothing else but in glorifying God.

Consider 2ndly, with relation to the other attributes of God, viz., his goodness, his mercy, and his justice, how brightly they also shine forth in the incarnation of his Son, in which, according to the psalmist, (Ps. lxxxiv.,) 'Mercy and truth met each other; justice and peace have kissed.' The infinite mercy of God is set in no less clear a light by this mystery, in his here furnishing us, out of pure compassion, without any regard at all to our merits, with such and so great a redeemer, to be both out priest and our sacrifice, for a propitiation for all our sins. And as to the infinite justice of God, so far from its being set aside in this mystery, or forgetting its right, it never exerted or manifested itself more than when it insisted upon such a satisfaction for sin as could not be paid by any lesser or meaner person than a God made man. So that the justice of God has been in effect more evidently demonstrated by the incarnation of the Son of God, coming down here amongst us to be made a bleeding victim for our sins, than by any other judgments or punishments whatsoever that either have been or ever could be inflicted by the divine majesty, either in time or eternity, for the sins of men.

Consider 3rdly, that the infinite dignity of the person of this God-man, as it gives an infinite dignity and worth to all his performances - even to every thought, word, or action, and every suffering of his - so it is an inexhaustible source from which continually and eternally flows an infinite glory to God from every thought, word, or action, or suffering of his Son, even from the moment of his conception till his expiring upon the cross, as well to all that adoration, praise, glory, thanksgiving, &c., which, as man he shall present to his Father for all eternity. See then, my soul, how very much the incarnation of the Son of God has advanced the glory of his Father; since every motion of the heart of this God made man gives in effect infinitely more glory to the Father, both in time and eternity, than all the adorations and praises of millions of angels and millions of worlds could ever have done, though eternally employed in nothing else but in glorifying God. Besides all that glory which the Son of God incarnate has procured for his Father by his gospel; by his worship which he has established here upon earth; by that great sacrifice of his body and blood, offered up daily on a million of altars, &c., and that kingdom of souls which he has here purchased, to be delivered up hereafter to his Father, to glorify him for all eternity.

Conclude to rejoice in this great glory which the Son of God has procured both for his Father and for himself by his incarnation, and sing to him with the angels hymns of perpetual praise for his having so well associated together in this mystery his own glory with thy peace and salvation.



15th Dec.


On the glory the Son of God gave His Father in His Mother's Womb

Consider first, that as the soul of Christ from the first instant of his conception, by being assumed to the divine person of the Word, was full of all light and knowledge, and consequently enjoyed from the beginning the perfect use of reason and understanding, so the inward powers and faculties of his soul from the first instant of his conception were always employed - they were never idle. Now as the great design of God in the incarnation of his Son was his own glory and the redemption of man, so the continual occupation of the Son of God-made-man was the procuring of his Father's glory and man's salvation: from the very first moment that his soul received a being by creation this was his perpetual employment. It was from the beginning the indispensable duty both of angels and men in their first creation to turn themselves immediately to God by adoration, oblation, and love, and to dedicate themselves eternally to him and to his glory. The omission of this at first was the cause of the condemnation of Lucifer and his companions; and the like omission is to this day the cause of the condemnation of millions of men, who unhappily turn themselves away from God for the sake of the creature. But the soul of Christ, our great deliverer and our most perfect model and pattern, has taught us better things by his nine months' occupation in the Virgin's womb; where, silent as he is, he preaches to us admirable lessons with regard to the glory we ought at all times to give to God.

Consider 2ndly, that these lessons which the Son of God teaches us by his great example in his mother's womb are contained in the different acts of virtue in which he there spent his time. He began, as we learn from the psalmist, (Ps. xxxix. 7,8,9,) by offering himself to the father without reserve to do all his will; he embraced this will in the midst of his heart; he substituted himself in the place of all the ancient sacrifices, to be the great burnt-offering and sin-offering that should be immolated for God's glory and for the expiation of the sins of the world; he presented his body, just then formed by the Holy Ghost, with his ears pierced, (as it was prescribed by the law with relation to such as yield themselves up to be servants for ever,) Deut. xv. 17, to be entirely at the disposal of his Father, a perpetual servant, obedient unto death, even unto the death of the cross. O let us hear from himself these dispositions!'Sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire, but thou hast pierced ears for me. Burnt-offerings and sin-offerings thou didst not require: then, said I, Behold, I come. In the head of the book it is written of me that I should do thy will. O my God, I have desired it;, and thy law in the midst of my heart.' O my soul, how happy shall we be if we labour in good earnest to imitate these dispositions of our dear Jesus, by embracing, like him, the will of God and his holy law in the midst of our hearts, and offering ourselves without reserve to be at all times his devoted servants.

Consider 3rdly, that the infinite glory which our Lord gave to his Father all the time he was in his mother's womb: First by the acts of adoration and homage which, a man, he continually paid to God; perfectly annihilating himself to his sight, and continually bowing down all the powers of his soul to offer him a most acceptable worship, worthy of his divine majesty; 2ndly, by acts of praise and thanksgiving which he offered up both for himself and for the whole creation; 3rdly, by acts of oblation and eternal dedication of himself to his Father; to be ever his, both in life and death; both in time and eternity; with a total consecration of his whole soul and body; of his whole will, memory, and understanding, of all his senses and faculties, and of all his thoughts, words, and deeds, to his divine sacrifice; 4thly, by acts of a most pure and most perfect love, zeal, and desire of ever promoting, in all things, and above all things, the sanctification of the name of God, the propagation of his kingdom, and the doing of his will upon earth as it is in heaven. Such acts as these, joined with acts of charity and prayer, for us poor sinners, were the perpetual occupation of Christ our Lord, in his mother's womb. A happy employment indeed, and most worthy of our imitation at all times!

Conclude to embrace, and to follow in the practice of thy life, these heavenly lessons which the Son of God teaches thee by his divine example from his mothers womb: no other exercises can be either more agreeable to him, or to his Father; or more advantageous to thyself.



16th Dec.


On the charity of the Son of God for us in His Mother's womb

Consider first, that as the soul of the Son of God from the first instant of his conception in his mother's womb, was ever employed in the love of his heavenly Father, and in a perpetual adoration and oblation of himself to his most holy will; so for the love of his Father, and in consequence of his holy will, he was also employed from the beginning in the love of us, and in the perpetual exercises of an unbounded charity in our regard. His soul in the instant it received a being, was assumed to the divine person of the word; and in the light of this eternal work clearly saw, readily submitted to, lovingly embraced, with an Ecce venio, Behold, I come that most sacred and adorable decree of the whole blessed Trinity, by which it was ordained that the Son of God should become man for the reparation of the honour and glory of God, infinitely injured and outraged by an and that he should be the Saviour and redeemer of all mankind; that he should take upon him all their sins, to be cancelled with his blood; that by his death he should rescue them form the tyranny of Satan and sin, and a second and everlasting death; and should open in their favour the gates of mercy, grace, and salvation; in a word, that he should be the great mediator of God and man - their high priest and victim. In consequence of, and in obedience to, this heavenly decree, he immediately began, from the first instant of his conception, to exercise himself in all such acts of charity for us, as were agreeable to this his office of our Saviour and mediator, which he ever joined with a perpetual attention to his Father's glory. This was his continual employment in his mother's womb, this was his continual employment in all the time of his life. O let all heaven and earth eternally acknowledge, praise, and bless this his infinite charity!

Consider 2ndly, what these acts of charity were, which the Son of God continually exercised in our regard, from the first instant of his conception. 1. He had us always before his eyes, and in the midst of his heart - he was not one moment without thinking of us. 2. He was perpetually praying for us, that we might be delivered from all our evils, and brought through him to all good. 3. He had a most tender compassion for all our miseries, considering us all as his brethren; and he continually bewailed our sins. 4. He offered himself, without ceasing, to the justice of his Father, to suffer all that he pleased for the expiation of our sins: he had even a longing desire (such was the excess of his love) for the accomplishment of the baptism with which he was to be one day baptized in his blood; because thereby he was to redeem us from our sins. See, my soul, how very early our dear Jesus began to show himself a Jesus, that is a Saviour to us. See how affectionately and effectually too he has loved us, even from his first conception in his mother's womb. And have we hitherto been sensible of these wonders of his love for us? Have we ever yet given to him a proper place in our heart, who has been so much beforehand with us, as to admit us, from the beginning, into the centre of him? O let us detest our past ingratitude in this regard; and henceforward at least, yield ourselves up without reserve captives to his love!

Consider 3rdly, in particular, the sentiments which the soul of our blessed Saviour had, with regard to our sins, and in what manner he was affected by them, even from his conception. He had even then a clear sight, and a most lively sense of all the sins of the whole world, from the first to the last. He saw them all, in the light of God, with all their aggravations, and all their deformity, and infinite malice, from their opposition to the infinite goodness of God. He saw the outrages they all offered to the divine majesty, and how odious they were all in his eyes. And he saw at the same time all the havoc they made in the souls of men, made after God's own image and likeness, and all their dreadful consequences, both for time and eternity. But O what tongue can express, or heart conceive, how strangely his soul was affected with this sight! His love for his heavenly Father, on the one hand, and his zeal for his glory, gave him an inexpressible hatred and horror of all these enemies of God, these high treasons against the divine majesty. and again, his love for us, and concern for our salvation, on the other hand, filled him with more than mortal grief and anguish, for the general corruption with which he saw the whole world infected. and the loss of so many millions of souls. His horror and hatred for our sins was equal to the love he bore to his Father: and the grief and anguish which he continually endured for them, was equal to his love for us; even that love which made him give himself up to the worst of deaths to cancel our sins with his own blood. Thus between the love of his Father, and the love of us, the Son of God lived in a state of continual suffering, even in his mother's womb; and of such bitter sufferings, as nothing but his love could have endured. O Christians, learn here from your dear redeemer, in what manner you ought to be affected with the thoughts of your sins. Learn to hate and detest them above all things, as enemies of your God; learn to hate and detest them as your mortal enemies, and to bewail them all your lifetime.

Conclude to embrace the divine charity of the Son of God, with all the affections of your soul, which has thus exerted itself, even from his mother's womb, in favour of you. But remember that he expects of you a continual return of love, and this, with your whole heart; and that nothing less will content him.



17th Dec.


On the benefits which th Son of God brings to us by His Incarnation

Consider, first, that man in his first creation was highly favoured by his maker, and elevated by him to a supernatural end; he was enriched with the treasures of original grace, justice, and sanctity; and destined to an eternal life with the living God. In the meantime he was placed in the earthly paradise, as in a shadow of that happy life, where if he had kept the law of his great creator, he might have fed upon the tree of life, and so have passed to a better paradise of a true and everlasting life, without going through the gate of death. But alas! by falling from his God by sin, he forfeited all these treasures, and all these advantages: he was stript at once of all the goods of grace; he was strangely wounded in all the powers and faculties of his soul; his understanding was overclouded with ignorance, and deluded with a variety of errors; his memory and imagination was distracted with empty toys and vanities, and hurried away from the remembrance of his God; his will was perverted with malice; his inferior appetite disordered with rebellious passions; and his whole soul became weak beyond expression to everything of good, and strongly bent upon all evil. Thus had unhappy man, by his apostasy from God, lost both his God, and all his good; and had incurred all kind of evils, both of soul and body, for time and for eternity: thus in losing his God he had fallen into the hands of four merciless enemies, sin and Satan, death and hell. Now the Son of God, by his incarnation, came down amongst us in order to deliver us from all these evils which we had incurred by sin; to reconcile us to our God, and to restore us, with infinite advantage, to all that good for which we were first created. What reasons then have we, my soul to rejoice in this incarnation of the Son of God, the sovereign means of all our good, and the source of all mercy, grace, and salvation to us! O what praise and thanksgiving, what perpetual love and service do we owe to this our great deliverer!

Consider 2ndly, how the Son of God coming amongst us, by his incarnation, has brought us from heaven most sovereign and effectual remedies for all our evils. He brought light to us, who were sitting before in darkness, and in the shadow of death; coming in quality of our teacher, (both by word and example) of the great prophet sent to us from God; of our lawgiver, and our apostle; and declaring to us the whole will of God. He brought with him also our ransom, to redeem us from our slavery to Satan and sin, and to make us free indeed: 'He was sent to preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, and to preach the acceptable year of our Lord,' even the great jubilee, of a general remission of all our debts, and a general loosing of all our bands, Luke iv. 19. He came as our physician, to heal our maladies with medicines, made up with his own most sacred blood. 'We were wandering in a wilderness, in a place without water,' Ps.cvi. 'We could find no way to a city for our habitation (our true and everlasting home); we were hungry, and thirsty, (destitute of all proper food for our souls,) and were bound in want, and in irons: we were brought low with labours, and weakened; and there was none to help us.' And he came to deliver us in all these our distresses; to lead us to the right way, to conduct us to our true country; to feed our hungry souls with good things; to break our bonds asunder; to bring us refreshment, comfort, and rest from our labours; to satisfy all our wants; to redress all our miseries; to cure our weakness with his strength; and to raise us up form death to life. All this and much more has the Son of God effected in our favour, by coming down from heaven to be our Emmanuel, that is, to be 'God with us'. And shall we not then, my soul, join with the palmist, in frequently repeating, in admiration at all the wonders of the divine goodness, that sacred hymn: 'Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him: and his wonderful work to the children of men. Let them exalt him in the church of the people, and praise him in the hair of the ancients: Let them sacrifice to him a sacrifice of praise, and declare his works with joy. O give glory to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever. Let them say so that have been redeemed by the Lord; whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of all countries.' (Ps. cvi.) Yea, let them say so, and sing forth the mercies of the Lord for all eternity! Amen. Amen.

Consider 3rdly, that however great and inexpressible all these graces and benefits are which the Son of God has brought with him by his incarnation, in order to deliver us from all our evils, and to communicate to us all his goods; yet none of them all, nor all of them together, will effectually save us, without our consent and concurrence, and a due correspondence on our part with his mercy and grace, by our yielding ourselves up entirely to him by faith and obedience. For what will it avail us to have the light come down from heaven to shine upon us if we shut our eyes against it, and love the darkness more than light? Or what shall we be the better for the ransom which our redeemer brings with him, and lays down for us, if we prefer our slavery and our chains before the liberty of the children of God, and rather choose to stay with our old master, Satan and sin, amongst the husks of swine, than to go along with our deliverer, who desires to carry us home with him to his Father's house? Alas! so far from being the better for all these graces and benefits brought us by our redeemer, we should indeed be much the worse if we received them all in vain, and, by our ingratitude an obstinacy in sin, pervert them to our greater condemnation. For what greater perversity can there be than that we should know that the way, the truth, and the life is come down from heaven in our favour, and should still choose to go astray from the way, and to follow the father of lies into the regions of death.

Conclude to embrace in such manner your great deliverer, who comes by his incarnation to be your Emmanuel, (God with us,) by a faithful and diligent correspondence with all his mercies and graces, as that he may be always with you, and you may be always with him, and that nothing in life or death may ever separate you from him any more.