Today's contemplation by Bishop Challoner

Admin

Administrator
3rd Feb
1694


On the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. St. Matt. XX

Consider first, that on this day we enter upon a time of devotion and penance in the way of preparation for the solemn fast of Lent, and therefore we are called upon by the church, both in the Epistle and in the Gospel of this Sunday, to begin, now at least, to be quite in earnest in the great concerns of our soul. In the Epistle, we are put in mind by St. Paul (1 Cor. ix. and x.) that we are all here running in a race, in which we must push forward, with all our power, or we shall lose the prize; that we are engaged in a conflict, for an incorruptible crown, which is not to be obtained without much labour and self-denial. That if we are not in earnest, notwithstanding all the distinguished favours we have received and daily receive from God, we shall be in great danger of being excluded, like the Israelites, from the true land of promise. In the parable of the Gospel we are put in mind that we have but one business in this world, which is here represented under the figure of labouring in the vineyard of our Lord; that in this labour we are to spend the short day of our mortal life, and by persevering till night in this labour, we are to secure to our souls the wages of a happy eternity. O let us attend well, that we may learn these great lessons!

Consider 2ndly, in the parable of this day's Gospel, the infinite goodness of God, manifested to us in that perpetual attention of his, in every age, since the beginning of the world, and in every part of the life of man, by which we are invited by his divine graces and calls, to go out and to hire and to send labourers into his vineyard. And after all, what need has he of our labour, or of what service can we be to him? or what can we give him, which he does not first give to us? Why then does he press us to labour in his vineyard? O! 'tis his pure goodness and love, that he may make us for ever happy by our serving him here, and enjoying him hereafter. But what then is the meaning of this vineyard of our Lord? and what is this labour that he calls for at our hands? 'The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts,' said the prophet Isaias, (v. 7) 'is the house of Israel,' that is, the people of God. Yes, our own souls are the vineyard we are commanded to cultivate - no one can be excused from his share in this labour; every one must at least take care of one. To labour here to the purpose, we must in the first place root out the poisonous weed of sinful habits, and cut up all the thorns and briars of our vices and passions, and then we must plant in their stead the good plant of Christian virtues, and bring them on, by proper care, till they are capable of bringing forth fruit that may answer the expectation of the great Lord and Master of the vineyard, and be agreeable to him. O how happy shall we be, if by our labours, and his blessing, we so cultivate this little part of the Lord's vineyard that falls to our share, as to engage him to come to us and recreate himself there with us!

Consider 3rdly, Christian souls, how early in the morning your good God invited you to work in his vineyard, by the early knowledge he gave you of himself, and of the end for which he brought you into the world, and how frequently he has pressed you ever since, by his repeated graces and calls, in every part of your life, to oblige you to set about this work in good earnest. But can you say you have yet begun? May he not justly reproach you, as he did those whom he found standing in the market-place, at the eleventh hour: 'why stand you here all the day idle?' Alas! are you not idle, when you are doing nothing to the purpose? And has not your whole life hitherto been spent in doing nothing to your purpose? Nothing to answer the great end, the only business, for which you were made? Have you not then been truly idle all the day, that is all the time of your life? O begin now at least to labour - perhaps this is your last hour, your day is far spent, the night is coming on 'when no man can work.' John ix. 4. Work therefore now, whilst you have time, lest being surprised by the night, you may have no more time to work in, and so starve for eternity.

Conclude to make good use of this fresh summons, by which you are called upon this day, by God and his Church, to go and labour in the vineyard of your souls; lest otherwise, by not corresponding with the call, and receiving the grace of God in vain, you verify in yourselves that sentence with which our Lord concludes the parable of this Sunday, 'Many are called, but few are chosen.'

..
 
Last edited:

Admin

Administrator
4th Feb
1699

On the multitude of our sins
Consider first, O my soul, how long it is since thou wast first so miserable as to fall from thy God by sin and how much thy sins have been multiplied since that unhappy hour. Alas! didst thou not, at thy first coming to the use of reason, forfeit thy baptismal innocence, and fall a prey to that hellish monster? It was thy indispensable duty, in consequence of thy creation, of thy redemption, and of thy baptismal engagements, to turn to God, as soon as thou wast capable of knowing him, as to thy first beginning and last end, and to dedicate thyself eternally to his love and service. And didst thou comply with this strict obligation? Lucifer and his companions were cast down headlong into hell, because immediately after they were created, instead of turning to God, as they were bound to do, and dedicating themselves wholly to him they turned away from him to take pride in themselves: and hast thou not imitated these rebels, at the first dawning of thy reason, by turning thy back upon God, and by preferring thy own irregular inclinations, and every senseless toy before him?

Consider 2ndly, how after so wretched a beginning, thou hast gone on for so many years, daily adding sin to sin against God, against thy neighbour, against thyself, by work, by word, or by desire; so that not one day, perhaps not even one hour, has yet passed without frequently offending God, either by commission, or omission, by ignorance, frailty, or malice. Alas! my poor soul, is it not true, that even from thy childhood, thou wast given to lies, passion, and impurity? Is it not true that even then thy thoughts went continually astray from God after lying fooleries and vanities; that thy prayers were without attention; thy confessions without sincerity, repentance, or amendment; and thy whole life and conversation without any true sense of God, or any solid good? And hast thou grown any better by growing older? Or hast thou not rather daily multiplied thy sins; and still more and more corrupted, and defiled all thy powers and faculties, and all thy senses and members, with repeated offences and treasons; and continually perverted and abused all the gifts of God against the giver? O pass over in thy mind, but let it be in the bitterness of thy soul, all thy years; and lament to find that thy sins have been indeed far more numerous than the hairs of thy head, besides an infinite multitude of hidden sins, or sins which thou hast occasioned in others, which keep out of sight at present, but will all one day appear against thee.

Consider 3rdly, to the end that thou mayest make a better judgment of the immense number of thy offenses and transgressions, how little thou hast complied in any part of thy life, with the great duty of loving God with thy whole heart; of dedicating thy whole self to his service, and of directing by a pure intention, all thy thoughts, words, and actions to him; how little restraint thou hast put upon thy natural inclinations, too strongly bent on evil from thy very childhood; how little guard thou hast kept upon thy roving thoughts and imaginations; how little attention thou hast had, not to offend in words nor to give occasion of offence to others, &c. Reflect also how much of thy precious time thou hast squandered away; how many graces thou hast received in vain; how little thou hast corresponded with the divine calls and inspirations; how little use thou hast made of the talents with which thou hast been intrusted; and how very ill thou hast discharged thyself of thy stewardship in every part of thy life. And then see what armies of sin will presently rise up before thy eyes, and stand staring thee in the face. And how wilt thou dare, after so much guilt, and so much ingratitude, which is a perpetual aggravation of every one of thy sins, to lift up thy eyes any more to heaven, or so much as to name the holy name of God which thou hast so often profaned.

Conclude to be always humble, by a true sense and daily remembrance of thy innumerable sins; to offer up daily for them the sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart; and to embrace henceforward a penitential life, as the best security after so much guilt.

..
 
Last edited:

Admin

Administrator
5th Feb
1703


On the goodness of God in waiting for sinners

Consider first, the wonders of God's goodness in his dealings with sinners. See with what patience he bears with them, and that very often for a long time, notwithstanding their repeated provocations, their continually abusing all his bounty and mercy, and that infinite hatred he always bears to mortal sin, wherever he sees it. O my soul, how much art thou indebted to this patience of thy God, in bearing with thee all these years past, ever since your first fall into sin! Alas! hast thou not all this time been playing upon the very brink of that dreadful precipice which conducts to the bottomless pit? Hast thou not been all this while within a hair's breadth of a miserable eternity? Is it not true, that every night thou hast gone to bed, thou didst not know but that before the morning thou mightest find thyself in hell? Millions have fallen into that dismal dungeon of endless woe, whilst thy God has spared thee; millions are now burning in those unquenchable flames for fewer sins than thou hast committed. O blessed for all eternity be the infinite goodness of my God, and may all his Angels and Saints praise and glorify him for ever, for having endured me so long, for having preserved me all this time, and continually watched over me, or else my soul had long since dwelt in hell!

Consider 2ndly, the many ways by which God seeks to reclaim sinners, and to call them home to him. Reflect on the remorse and inward reproaches of conscience, with which he visits them; the terror of his judgments, and the allurements of his mercies, which he sets before them. See how he is continually calling upon them, by his word, by his preachers, by good books, by good examples, and wholesome admonitions, and by a number of interior invitations and graces. Has he not dealt thus with thee, my soul, all this time thou hast been going astray from him? And what is the meaning of all this goodness of thy God to such an undeserving, ungrateful, and obstinate rebel? Why, it is nothing else but his own pure mercy and love in consideration of the precious blood of his Son. And shall not all this love of his for thee soften thy heart, and oblige thee, now at least, to resolve in good earnest to return to him, lest otherwise, mercy being long abused, should give place to justice, and the soil which has been so often watered with rain from heaven, and still continues to bring forth nothing but thorns and briars, should fall at length under a dreadful curse, and be condemned to the fire? Heb. vi

Consider 3rdly, what encouragement God gives to all sinners to return to him. 'As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of a sinner; but that he may be converted from his ways and may live. O why will you die, O house of Israel?' Ezech xxxiii. 11. 'Return to me and live,' ch. xviii. 32, 'Thou hast gone astray after many lovers, but return to me, and I will receive thee,' Jerem. iii. See with what love the good shepherd in the Gospel goes after the lost sheep, and with what joy he lays it upon his shoulders, and brings it home to the fold. See how the father runs out to meet the prodigal child when he returns home from the husks of the swine; see how he embraces him, clothes him with the best robe, and makes a feast for him. Luke xv. Reflect how the Son of God when here upon earth, treated the penitent Magdalene, the thief upon the cross, and all other sinners that had recourse to his mercy; and how he has declared, that there is more joy in heaven over one penitent sinner, than over ninety-nine just. And let all these instances and testimonies of his goodness to poor sinners, encourage and determine you to stay no longer away from him by sin, but to arise without delay, and return to so good, to so loving a Father, by a thorough conversion.

Conclude to abuse no longer the mercies of God by continuing in sin, but to return to him now at least with thy whole heart, and never to depart from him any more.

..
 

Admin

Administrator
6th Feb
1713

On turning from sin to God

Consider first, that every wilful sinner is guilty of two enormous evils, according to that of Jerem. ii. 12, 13. 'Be astonished, O ye heavens - For my people have done two evils. They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and have digged to themselves cisterns, (pits,) broken cisterns that can hold no water.' Yes, Christians, in every mortal sin, there are always these two exceeding great evils, viz., the turning away from a God infinitely good, and the very fountain of all goodness and life, and the embracing in his stead, that hellish monster, sin by the allurements of some deceitful appearance of an imaginary happiness, justly compared by the prophet to a broken cistern, that can hold no water, but only filth and mud. Wherefore, in the conversion of a sinner, there must also be always two principal ingredients, opposite to those two great evils, viz., the turning away from sin, with horror, detestation, and sorrow, for having offended a God, infinitely good in himself, and infinitely good to us: and the returning back to God, to embrace his holy law, and to dedicate the years that remain of life to his obedience, service, and love. Happy conversion, that thus brings the poor sinner back, from the very worst of evils, to his sovereign good!

Consider 2ndly, that this turning away of the soul from sin, which is a necessary ingredient of the sinner's conversion, must be effectual, that is, the soul must turn away from her sins in effect; she must not content herself with a slight sorrow for her sins; nor with faint purposes of amendment, nor with a half will, nor yet with making some weak efforts towards beginning a new life. But she must renounce her sins with her whole heart; she must detest them above all evils; she must hate them worse than hell; she must fly and abhor like a pestilence all such company, or other occasions, as may expose her to the danger of relapsing into them; she must be absolutely and resolutely determined never more to return to them, upon any consideration whatsoever. This is being penitent indeed, but to pretend to be true converts without leaving our sins is all mockery.

Consider 3rdly, that the principal ingredient of the conversion of a sinner is the turning to God with his whole heart, as the principal ingredient of sin is the turning away from God. Wherefore the true convert must not only leave the husks of the swine, which he has hitherto set his heart upon, but he must arise and return to the embraces of his Father, with a contrite and humble, but loving heart, resolved henceforward to be the eternal servant of his divine love. he must remember that 'many sins are forgiven to him that loveth much,' Luke vii, and that he that has been the greatest debtor is the most obliged to love with his whole heart that merciful creditor, who shows so much love to him in being so ready to discharge him of his great debts. In a word, a constant adhesion to God, by love and obedience, must be the perpetual business of a true convert. His whole life, for the time he has yet to come, must be dedicated and consecrated to divine love. This is his best security for the remission of all his past sins; this is the best preservative form all sin for the future.

Conclude to show thyself to be a true convert from sin to God, by renouncing all thy criminal affections, and sacrificing them all to the love of God, by hating what thou hast hitherto loved, and embracing with thy whole soul thy Lord and Saviour, crucified for the love of thee.

..
 

Admin

Administrator
7th Feb

1718


On the sentiments of a penitent sinner

Consider first, that according to the different steps that are usually taken in the sinner's conversion, different sentiments and affection gradually take possession of his soul. And first his faith, which was asleep before, awakened by serious consideration, or by hearing the word of God, or by reading good books, opens his eyes to discover, in part at least, how odious, how filthy a monster has hitherto had possession of his soul, and what dreadful dangers have surrounded him with the worst of judgments from God, both for time and eternity. This by the help of the Holy Ghost, produces in his soul a wholesome fear of the justice of God, and of that miserable death, judgment, and hell, which are daily overtaking unrepenting sinners. Now this fear is usually the beginning of the greatest conversions. How hard must that sinner be whom neither the sight of the sword of God hanging over his head, nor of a miserable death, following closely at his heels, nor of hell, open under his feet, and just ready to swallow him down, can move to repentance.

Consider 2ndly, that the sinner being alarmed by the terrors of divine justice, seeks to find how he may escape these dreadful evils, that continually threaten him on every side, and how he may rid himself of his sins, the true source of all these evils. And here the mercy and goodness of God, and the precious blood of the Son of God, shed for poor sinners, present themselves before the eyes of his soul, and encourage him to hope that the same God, whose mercy has endured him so long in his sins, whose goodness has watched over him all this while, preserving him from innumerable evils, and loading him with innumerable benefits, who has purchased this soul of his for himself at so dear a rate, and who has shed his own blood to wash him from these very sins, will certainly receive him, now he desires to return to him (according to his repeated promises made to repenting sinners), as he has received millions of others, that have returned to him after sin. And in this hope he firmly proposes to neglect no one thing required on his part, towards obtaining the absolution and full remission of all his sins, and a perfect reconciliation with his God.

Consider 3rdly, that the sinner being thus encouraged, and resolved to go and present himself before the throne of divine grace, and there to sue for the pardon of all his sins, through the precious blood of the Son of God, betakes himself to fervent prayer, in order to obtain the necessary disposition of a contrite and humble heart, without which there is no admittance to mercy and grace. This contrite and humble heart is an excellent composition of three great virtues, viz., penance, humility, and divine love. Penance fills the soul with a horror and deep sense of sorrow for sin committed, together with an ardent desire to abolish it; humility obliges the soul to condemn herself, by reason of her manifold crimes, as worthy of all manner of evil, and unworthy of the least good, and to sit down in the very lowest place, as the most wretched, the most ungrateful, and the most abominable of all creatures; and divine love teaches her to consider and detest in her sins, not so much the evil they bring upon her, as their infinite malice, from the infinite opposition they have to a God infinitely good in himself and infinitely good to her, and their enormous outrages against the Son of God, incarnate for the love of her. With these sentiments the true penitent endeavours to prepare and dispose himself for the confession of his sins, and absolution from them. And this is that 'contrite and humble heart which God never despises.' Ps. l.

Conclude, if thou would'st effectually turn from sin to God, to endeavour to walk in these steps, especially to meditate seriously upon the great truths that relate to eternity, and to labour with all thy power for the acquiring a contrite and humble heart.

..
 

Admin

Administrator
8th Feb
1719


On doing penance for our sins


Consider first, that sentence of our Lord, Luke xiii. 5, 'Except you do penance, you shall all perish.' The virtue of penance always was, is, and ever will be absolutely necessary for every soul that has at any time in life fallen from God by wilful sin. 'Tis the only plank that can save them after the shipwreck they have made of their innocence. 'Aut paenitendum aut ardendum,' says an ancient father, 'either penance, or hell-fire;' there is no medium for wilful sinners, they must choose one of the two. Sin must be punished either here or hereafter; either by the penitent sinner or by divine justice. Hence the preaching of penance to such as had fallen from God by sin was the great subject of the commission of the prophets, in the Old Testament, and of the Apostles and all apostolic preachers in the New. Hence it was by preaching of penance, and of the necessity of bringing forth worthy fruits of penance, that St. John the Baptist was to prepare the people for Christ, Matt. iii.; and our Lord himself opened his mission with the same theme, Matt. iv. Because there can be no other way of coming to God and a happy eternity but either the way of innocence; or, when we have strayed from this, the way of penance.

Consider 2ndly, that this virtue of penance does not only require of us that we should turn from sin to God by a change of heart and by a change of life; but also that we should labour to make satisfaction to the divine justice, by voluntary mortifications of the flesh, and other penitential exercises, for all the injuries and affronts we have offered him by our sins; and that, by this means, we should endeavour to discharge, according to our weak ability, the debt we owe to God for them. This is properly doing penance for our sins, this is what divine justice always expects, this is what the Church of God has always called for from penitent sinners. We cannot be true penitents without hating and detesting our sins above all evils, because they offend a God infinitely good; now this of necessity infers a hatred for this traitorous self-love of ours, and for all its irregular inclinations and passions, as enemies of God and the soul, and especially a hatred for this sinful flesh, that is so apt to betray us into this dreadful evil of sin. And hence again naturally flows, in all true penitents, a sincere and effectual desire of chastising this flesh by penitential exercises, and thereby doing their best to make satisfaction for their sins. This is, and ever was, one necessary ingredient of that virtue of penance without which the sinner could never be reconciled to an offended God.

Consider 3rdly, how much this way of doing penance for our sins is inculcated in Holy Writ, where we are so often put in mind of turning to God with fasting, weeping, and mourning, of doing penance in sackcloth and ashes, and the like, and where we meet with divers instances of the mercy and favour God is pleased to show to all such as exercise themselves in these voluntary mortifications and humiliations of the flesh, when they are accompanied, as they ought to be, by a penitential spirit. Here also we learn, that no assurance we can possibly have of the remission of our sins, is to exempt us from doing penance for them, when you see that King David, notwithstanding the prophet had assured him that 'the Lord had taken away his sin,' (2 Sam. xii. 13,) yet still continued to do penance for it, as we find by his penitential psalms, which inform us that his sin was always before him; that every night he washed his couch with his tears; that he laboured in his groans; that he mingled ashes with his bread, and tears with his drink, &c. O let us imitate this glorious penitent.

Conclude, if thou wouldest be a true friend to thy own soul, not to be afraid of hurting this sinful flesh, which is thy greatest enemy; but to keep it In subjection, by voluntary mortifications, and to chastise it for its past misdemeanours, by penitential austerities.

..
 

Admin

Administrator
9th Feb
1720


On the manner of doing penance for our sins

Consider first, that the true manner of doing penance for our sins, is not to be learnt from the maxims, or from the common practice of the children of this world, who fear nothing more than the hurting of themselves, or the contradicting of their own humours, appetites, and inclinations - and therefore this bringing forth fruits worthy of penance, is to them a hard saying, which they cannot endure to hear. But the true manner of doing penance for sin is to be learnt of the children of light, that is, from the doctrine and practice of the Saints, who as they had quite other ideas of the evil of sin, than worldlings have, so also they had a very different way of thinking, and of acting, in regard to penance - as they have demonstrated by the penitential austerities, to which they have condemned themselves all their lifetime, for expiation of the punishment due to their sins. And what are so many religious orders in the Church of God, in which so many thousands of both sexes, retiring from the world, dedicate themselves to daily mortifications and penances, but so many standing memorials, and living instances of that true manner of doing penance, with which the Spirit of God usually inspires those whom he convinces of sin, that is to say, whom he makes sensible of the heinousness of the evil of sin, and how much ought to be done for the expiation of it?

Consider 2ndly, how this same Spirit of God dictated to the ancient Church those rules and ordinances, commonly called the penitential canons, which were in force for many hundred years by which penitent sinners were subjected to divers fasts and other humiliations, for three, seven, ten, and sometimes for fifteen years, or more, for one mortal sin, and yet did not think they did too much. O how ought this to convince sinners that there is something more to be done for the remission of their sins than they have hitherto been aware of! For, though according to the modern discipline of the Church, those penitential canons are not enforced, yet as God is still the same, and sin is still as heinous in his eyes, as it was in former ages, so the sinner stands no less indebted at present to the divine justice than formerly, and therefore ought to think upon discharging this debt, in the best manner he is able, by frequent fasting and other corporal mortifications, as well as by alms-deeds and long continued prayer.

Consider 3rdly, that there are three particular practices of penance, which ought never to be forgotten by any such as have at any time in life, been guilty of mortal sin. The first and principal is, that they should go daily in spirit to the feet of Christ to wash them with penitential tears, flowing from a loving heart, and there earnestly beg pardon for all their past offences through his precious blood. The second, which will naturally flow from the first, is, that having their sins thus always before their eyes, they should daily offer up to God, in penance for them, some voluntary mortifications of their own will, honour, or appetite, at least in lesser things, if they have not the courage or strength to undertake greater; for instance, that they should in this spirit, rise early in the morning; retrench superfluities in eating, drinking, sleeping and diversions; and mortify, upon every occasion, their vanity, curiosity, and sensuality. The third is, that they should also offer up daily for their sins, in a penitential spirit, all the labours to which their state of life is exposed, with all their pains and sufferings of every kind, which they may have to endure in life or death, to be united to, and sanctified by the labours and sufferings of the Son of God, considering themselves all the while as under a course of penance laid on them by the Almighty for their sins, and going through it with humility, patience, and courage. Whosoever shall diligently persevere in the practice of these three things, will one day be received as true penitents, and receive the crown of true penitents, through their circumstances of life, strength, or health, may not have admitted of any other penitential austerities. But no condition of life, or other circumstances whatsoever, ought to dispense any sinner from these three most easy, and most wholesome exercises of penance.

Conclude upon doing penance for thy sins, in the best manner thou art able, now whilst thou hast time before thee, lest otherwise thou be surprised and overtaken by the night, and mayest then wish in vain to have done penance, when time shall be no more.

..
 

Admin

Administrator
10th Feb
1721


On against delay of repentance

Consider first, that of all the tricks of Satan, by which he deludes unhappy souls to their eternal ruin, there is none more common, or more dangerous, than this by which he persuades them to put off their repentance and conversion to God from time to time, and millions of poor souls have been thus betrayed into that bottomless pit of never-ending woe, where the worm never dies and the fire is never extinguished; who thought as little of damning themselves, or of dying in their sins, as any now living; but by putting off their conversion, they have gone on provoking the divine justice, till by a just judgment of God they have been cut off when they least expected it; and dying as they lived, have been justly sentenced to that second and everlasting death. Unhappy wretches, who would not believe the just judge who so often warned them to watch; and assured them that otherwise he should surprise them, like a thief in the night, when they least expect him. Ah! how dreadful and how common are these judgments!

Consider 2ndly, the insupportable affront that sinners offer to the divine Majesty, when being invited and pressed by his heavenly graces to a reconciliation with their offended God, they put him off till another time, shutting their ears to his sweet calls, and refusing him an entrance to their hearts where he stands and knocks. Alas! if he withdraws himself they are undone for ever; and how dare they treat him with so much contempt? Is it not an infinite goodness in him, to have already suffered them so long in their sins, to have restrained the sword of his justice from falling upon their guilty heads? to have kept them so long out of hell, hanging as they were all the while over this bottomless pit, and supported only by a slender thread of a brittle life, which he held in his hand! Is it not an inexpressible condescension of his divine Majesty, after their repeated treasons, to allow them any condition of peace and reconciliation at all? How much more to call after them, when they are running away from him, and to press them so earnestly to return to him, where he has no need at all of them, but only seeks their welfare? But what then ought they not to apprehend from his justice, if they still refuse his offers of mercy, and slight his graces and calls? Can any punishment be too great for so much insolence, for so much obstinacy, and for so much ingratitude? O! let them give ear to his treats by the mouth of the wise man, Prov. i. 24 &c.,'Because I have called, and you have refused to hear, I have stretched out my hand, and you would not regard me; you have despised all my counsels, and neglected my reprehensions, therefore will I also laugh at your destruction, and will mock, when that which you feared shall come upon you. Then shall they call upon me and I will not hear,' &c.

Consider 3rdly, the monstrous presumption the sinner is guilty of in wilfully persisting in sin, upon the confidence of a future conversion. Wretch that he is, how dares he pretend to dispose of the time to come, when he is not master of one moment of it? Or how has he the assurance to promise himself greater graces hereafter than those he abuses at present. Does he not know that God alone is the maker both of time and grace, and that he has neither promised the time or grace of a true conversion hereafter, to any of those who put off their repentance at the present; so far from it, that he has often signified to such presumptuous sinners, that they shall neither have the time nor the effectual grace which they promised themselves, but that they shall be surprised, and die in their sins. According to that of the wise man, Eccles. v. 8, 9. 'Delay not to be converted to the Lord, and defer it not from day to day, for his wrath shall come on a sudden, and in the time of vengeance he shall destroy thee.'

Conclude never to expose thy dear soul, by any delays, to the dreadful danger of dying in thy sins, but if at any time thou hast reason to apprehend thou hast lost the grace of God by sin, use thy best endeavours to be reconciled at once, 'Tis a dreadful thing to be an enemy to God, though it were only for one night: that night may be your last, therefore never venture to lie down to sleep, under the guilt of mortal sin.

..
 

Admin

Administrator
11th Feb
1730


On the folly of deferring our conversion to God

Consider first, how foolish it is for the sinner, when called, when invited and pressed by the best of Fathers to return to him, to choose rather to continue a slave to Satan, to feed his swine, and to prefer the husks of swine which can never satisfy him, before his Father's table, and the happy liberty of the children of God. Ah! poor wretch, open thy eyes and see how strangely thou art deluded! Thy God proffers thee this mercy, his grace, his favour, the honour of being his child, his spouse, his temple, a share in his heavenly treasures, his peace, his comforts, his table, his kingdom, his Holy Spirit, in a word, himself and all that is good; and thou art so blind, and so mad, as to desire him to keep all his favours for another time, and to make a choice for thyself at present of the extremity of all misery, by choosing to go on yet a while under the dreadful guilt of mortal sin - a wretched slave to Satan, sin, and hell. Can any madness be compared to this?

Consider 2ndly, how vain and foolish are those pretexts by which sinners suffer themselves to be imposed upon, when they defer their conversion to God, especially with regard to pretended difficulties in the undertaking, which would all presently be put to flight, and vanish away, if they would but once heartily set their hand to the work. But the common delusion is, that they vainly imagine they will do it more easily another time. A dreadful illusion indeed! since both reason and daily experience must make it evident, that the longer this work is deferred, the harder it is to bring it about. And how should it be otherwise, since by these delays, and by continuing to add sin to sin, their sinful habits grow daily stronger upon them, and consequently harder to be rooted out; the devils' power over them daily increases, and the Almighty, provoked by their repeated abuses of his graces and their obstinate impenitence, withdraws himself further and further from them, and suffers them by degrees to fall into that blindness and hardness of heart, which of all evils is the most difficult to be cured.

Consider 3rdly, the folly of all such as put off their conversion to God, through the apprehension of the confession of their sins, and choose to suffer for a long time the gnawing worm of a guilty conscience, with all the other evils that always attend on mortal sin, and to be continually exposed to the danger of death and hell, and to all the judgments of an offended God, rather than undergo a small confusion, that would last but one moment, and would immediately be followed with unspeakable comfort, and with a speedy pardon, reconciliation, peace, and grace. Would not all the world condemn that person of the greatest folly and madness who, labouring under a most painful and mortal distemper, should refuse an easy, safe, and sovereign remedy, only because it was disagreeable to the palate, just for the moment of the taking of it? But O how much more unaccountable of so small a humiliation as the confession of his sins to a minister of God ,bound by the laws, both of God and man, to an eternal secrecy, refuses all the medicines of heaven under a mortal disease which is hurrying him on towards an eternal death, and chooses rather to risk his all for eternity than to discover his illness to his physician?

Conclude not to suffer the enemy to impose upon thee by any of his deceitful wiles, so as to induce thee to continue playing upon the brink of a precipice, with the sword of God hanging over his head. No prudent person would refuse to be immediately reconciled to a man whom he had offended, who had the power and authority to condemn him to a cruel death for his offence; how much less should the sinner put off his reconciliation with an offended God, who can in an instant cast both his body and soul into hell, and who is highly provoked by his impenitence.

..
 

Admin

Administrator
12th Feb
1731


On death-bed performances
Consider first, that if it be so great an evil to defer, for any considerable time, one's conversion to God, and one's reconciliation with him, it must be an evil incomparably greater to form a premeditated design of putting it off to the end of our lives, upon the confidence of a death-bed repentance, because the risk, the presumption, the madness, the outrages offered to God in this case are incomparably greater; so that it is well, if one in a thousand of them that are guilty of such formal designs of putting a cheat upon the divine justice (by indulging themselves in sin all their lifetime, and then only thinking to make their peace with God when they can sin no longer), ever meet with even the poor chance of a death-bed confession, much less with the grace of an effectual conversion. Oh, no; such sinners will find to their loss that 'God is not to be mocked,' Gal. vi. 7. the general rule is, that 'what a man soweth the same shall he reap,' and that as a man lives so shall he die, A rule so general, that in the whole Scripture we have but one instance of a happy death after a wicked life, viz., that of the good thief; an example so singular in all its circumstances as to afford no kind of encouragement to such sinners as design beforehand to give the slip to God's justice by a death-bed conversion.

Consider 2ndly, how very little it is that the sinner is capable of doing on his death-bed towards his conversion; when either the dulness and stupidity caused by his sickness, or by the quality of the medicines or the pains and agonies which he endures in body or in mind, render him quite unfit for prayer, and incapable of attention to reading, or of any serious application of his thoughts to the great business of the soul. Alas! if a little headache, or any other slight indisposition, be enough to hinder us at any time from making any serious meditation, or praying with devotion, how much less shall we be able to attend to prayer, or to do any thing else to the purpose, when we shall be surprised with a mortal illness, and with the pangs of death? O Christians, let not yourselves, then, be imposed upon with vain imaginations of the fine arts of contrition and of the love of God, that you will make upon your death-bed; they will all fly away from you then; 'tis well if you shall then be capable even of one good thought. Thousands that have flattered themselves with the thoughts of doing fine things upon their death-bed have been prevented by sudden death; thousands have been deprived of their senses before they apprehended their danger; thousands have been flattered by those about them into a conceit that they were not dying, when they really were; and what is the most common of all, thousands, in punishment of their forgetting God in their lifetime, have been suffered to forget themselves in death; and thus, generally speaking, these fine projects of death-bed performances turn to smoke, and end in hell.

Consider 3rdly, that the conversion of an habitual sinner is at any time a very difficult task, and required a strong grace, such as may reach, and change the heart, and effectually turn it from the affection of sin to the love of God; so as to make it hate, above all evils, what has been for a long time turned into a second nature by the force of an evil habit; and to love and embrace with the whole soul what has hitherto been loathed or despised. But if this task be very difficult at all times, and seldom brought to effect without long and serious meditations and much prayer, what a poor chance must there be for such sinners as have on set purpose put off this work to the time in which they are neither capable of meditation nor prayer, and which is worst of all, when in punishment of their obstinate impenitence and insupportable presumption, God has withdrawn himself from them? Alas! poor sinner, thou flatteredst thyself in thy sins that it would be easy for thee at any time (how late soever,) to make thy peace with God, and to escape hell, because thou hadst heard, that in whatsoever hour the sinner shall turn to God he will show him mercy; but then the devil hid from thy eyes that this effectual turning to God, especially upon a death-bed, must be the fruit of an extraordinary grace of God, which he has promised to no man; yea, a very great miracle of grace, which he is seldom disposed to work in favour of such presumptuous wretches as have made a practice all their lifetime of mocking him.

Conclude to have no dependence upon the death-bed performance of habitual sinners, no, not even though, like Antiochus, they should shed tears plentifully; these are often influenced by the fear of death, more than the love of God. Take thou care of one at least, by living always for thy own part, as thou desirest to die; and exhort all that belong to thee, to secure their souls by this same method; 'tis the only safe way.

..
 

Admin

Administrator
13th Feb
1732


On the dispositions with which we are to enter upon the service of God.
From Ecclus.

Consider first, and diligently attend to these words of the wise man, Ecclus. ii. 1, 'Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice, and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation,' and learn from these prescriptions of the Holy Ghost, to enter upon the service of God with a strong resolution of not being discouraged with the opposition thou shalt meet with from the world, the flesh, and the devil; and with a determination to stand thy ground in this spiritual warfare, like a valiant soldier; putting on the armour of Christian justice, and of the fear of God: according to that of the Apostle, Eph. vi. 13, &c., 'Take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil days, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, (that is, with sincerity in your intention towards God,) and having on the breastplate of justice, (that is, of Christian virtue, with a full determination, at all events, to be true to your God,) in all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one, (by a lively sense of God and eternity and take unto you the helmet of salvation, (that is, an humble confidence in God,) and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God,' viz., by frequent hearing, reading, or meditating on divine truths. And being thus prepared for the fight, you will not fail of gaining the victory.

Consider 2ndly, what the wise man further prescribes to all that desire to succeed in this glorious enterprise which is to bring us to God, to eternal life. 'Humble thy heart,' says he, 'and endure (that is, suppress and keep under, all the irregular risings of thy pride and passion, that shall offer to oppose thy undertaking wait on God with patience, join thyself to God and endure, that thy life may be increased in the latter end. Take all that shall be brought upon thee, and in thy sorrow endure, and in thy humiliation keep patience. For gold and silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.' Excellent lessons, not only for beginners, but for all that are on their journey towards heaven; for crosses, sufferings, and humiliations are the portion of all the servants of God; and patience and courage in adversities, humbling ourselves under the hand of God, and a perfect resignation to his holy will, serve to qualify all our afflictions and to make them light and easy, as well as infinitely advantageous to our souls. O how happy are they who have learnt what it is to join themselves to God in all they have to suffer! O what a happiness is to be found in enduring in his company, and with an entire conformity to his blessed will. What an increase will this give to our life in the latter end, by adding it it a happy eternity!

Consider 3rdly, that one of the most excellent dispositions for attaining to all good, and the most effectual means to begin well, to advance daily, and to continue to the end of the happy service of God, is to conceive, and to nourish in the soul, a great esteem for a virtuous and devout life, an earnest desire of being good, a hunger and a thirst after Christian justice; in a word, an ardent love for true wisdom, which indeed is no other than the knowledge, love, and service of God. 'I wished,' says the wise man, Wisdom vii. 7, 'and understanding was given me, and I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came upon me, and I preferred her before kingdoms and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison with her; I loved her above health and beauty, and all good things came to me together with her, and innumerable riches through her hands. For she is an infinite treasure to men, which they that use become the friends of God.' O how glorious are the things that are said, both here, and in many other passages of the divine oracles, of this heavenly wisdom! O how lovely, how desirable, is this treasure, this precious pearl of virtue and devotion, which is the truest wisdom. Who would not give all things else to purchase such an inestimable jewel? But behold, the wisest of men, yea, the Spirit of God by him, assures us, that we need but desire it, seek it, and love it with all our hearts, and it shall be our own.

Conclude to observe all these heavenly lessons, and they will not fail to bring thee to God. He earnestly desires to make thee happy by making thee his true servant; if thou desirest the same, how canst thou miscarry provided thy desire be fervent and perseverant?

..
 

Admin

Administrator
14th Feb
1733


On true devotion

Consider first, that a devout life is indeed the most happy of lives, and the most secure way to an eternal life. For true devotion is the very perfection of charity and love; she is queen of virtues. But beware, O my soul, of the error of such false devotees as make all devotion consist in certain external exercises, destitute of the internal spirit; or in huddling over a number of prayers, or in frequent fastings, disciplines, or hair shirts; or in giving alms, or in frequenting the sacraments; or in following some other religious practices, which happed to be agreeable to their inclinations; though they remain all the while unmortified in their passions, full of self-love, and void of all true charity, either to God, or to their neighbours; whereas true devotion cannot be without keeping of all the commandments, but more especially these two, of loving God above all things, and our neighbours as ourselves.

Consider 2ndly, that to be truly devout, is to give one's self truly to God, according to the original meaning of the word devotion, which signifies a dedication and consecration of one's self to God. So that true devotion consists in always seeking God, and tending to him; in embracing in all things his holy will, and ever loving and obeying his holy law. He that does this, is truly devout; but he that does not love the will of God, better than his own humour is not devout, although he prays all day long, and sheds floods of tears. Consequently, he that is a slave to any of his passions; he that entertains a rancour to any one of his neighbours; he that sets his heart upon the world, and its toys, more than God, can never be truly devout, because he wants the very foundation of true devotion, which is loving God above all things. As to those other things mentioned above, they are often the attendants of true devotion, or its effects; but then devotion does not consist in any of them, and they may often be found in such as have no true devotion, no true charity, nor even true faith, 'without which no one can please God.' Heb. xi.

Consider 3rdly, that true devotion is not always sensible, nor does it consist in a certain sensible tenderness, which some people experience in prayer: whilst others, who perhaps in the sight of God are better Christians, meet with nothing for a long time but dryness and desolation. Some persons are of a more soft and tender nature and are easily affected even unto tears, and yet withal are very superficial in the love of God; quickly forget their good resolutions of serving him; easily yield in the time of temptation; shrink under every cross, and never arrive at solid virtue - and where is their devotion all this while, since it dries up, like their tears, in a moment, and brings forth no fruit? How much more devout is that Christian who continues constant in prayer, though he finds no sensible comfort therein; who goes not to prayer to seek his own pleasure, but to please his God, and to glorify him; who is willing to take up the cross, and to help his Saviour in the carriage of his cross, by bearing, for the love of him, the dryness and desolation that he endures, without leaving his accustomed exercise: in a word, whose prayer is conformity of his own will to the will of God. O this is devotion indeed; but sensible consolations, without this conformity, deserve not the name of devotion.

Conclude to make no account of any feeling of devotion, that is not accompanied with charity, humility, and conformity to the will of God; and thou wilt be sure not to be imposed upon, as great numbers have been by false appearances, and phantoms of devotion, to the danger of the loss of their precious souls.




..
 
Last edited:

Admin

Administrator
15th Feb
1740


On true devotion II

Consider first, that a devout life is indeed the most happy of lives, and the most secure way to an eternal life. For true devotion is the very perfection of charity and love; she is queen of virtues. But beware, O my soul, of the error of such false devotees as make all devotion consist in certain external exercises, destitute of the internal spirit; or in huddling over a number of prayers, or in frequent fastings, disciplines, or hair shirts; or in giving alms, or in frequenting the sacraments; or in following some other religious practices, which happed to be agreeable to their inclinations; though they remain all the while unmortified in their passions, full of self-love, and void of all true charity, either to God, or to their neighbours; whereas true devotion cannot be without keeping of all the commandments, but more especially these two, of loving God above all things, and our neighbours as ourselves.

Consider 2ndly, that to be truly devout, is to give one's self truly to God, according to the original meaning of the word devotion, which signifies a dedication and consecration of one's self to God. So that true devotion consists in always seeking God, and tending to him; in embracing in all things his holy will, and ever loving and obeying his holy law. He that does this, is truly devout; but he that does not love the will of God, better than his own humour is not devout, although he prays all day long, and sheds floods of tears. Consequently, he that is a slave to any of his passions; he that entertains a rancour to any one of his neighbours; he that sets his heart upon the world, and its toys, more than God, can never be truly devout, because he wants the very foundation of true devotion, which is loving God above all things. As to those other things mentioned above, they are often the attendants of true devotion, or its effects; but then devotion does not consist in any of them, and they may often be found in such as have no true devotion, no true charity, nor even true faith, 'without which no one can please God.' Heb. xi.

Consider 3rdly, that true devotion is not always sensible, nor does it consist in a certain sensible tenderness, which some people experience in prayer: whilst others, who perhaps in the sight of God are better Christians, meet with nothing for a long time but dryness and desolation. Some persons are of a more soft and tender nature and are easily affected even unto tears, and yet withal are very superficial in the love of God; quickly forget their good resolutions of serving him; easily yield in the time of temptation; shrink under every cross, and never arrive at solid virtue - and where is their devotion all this while, since it dries up, like their tears, in a moment, and brings forth no fruit? How much more devout is that Christian who continues constant in prayer, though he finds no sensible comfort therein; who goes not to prayer to seek his own pleasure, but to please his God, and to glorify him; who is willing to take up the cross, and to help his Saviour in the carriage of his cross, by bearing, for the love of him, the dryness and desolation that he endures, without leaving his accustomed exercise: in a word, whose prayer is conformity of his own will to the will of God. O this is devotion indeed; but sensible consolations, without this conformity, deserve not the name of devotion.

Conclude to make no account of any feeling of devotion, that is not accompanied with charity, humility, and conformity to the will of God; and thou wilt be sure not to be imposed upon, as great numbers have been by false appearances, and phantoms of devotion, to the danger of the loss of their precious souls.

..
 
Last edited:

Admin

Administrator
16th Feb

1741


On the opposition there is between the world and the Gospel
For Shrove-Tide

Consider first, that 'tis not for nothing that the Son of God, in the Gospel, so often declares against the world, as a capital enemy of him and his; because light and darkness are not more opposite than the world and the Gospel. The maxims and practices of the one are quite contradictory to the other. The world perpetually recommends what the Gospel condemns, and condemns what the Gospel recommends. The world is made up of pride, ambition, and vain-glory; the Gospel breathes nothing but humility, self-contempt, choosing the lowest place, and becoming as little children; assuring us that otherwise there is no heaven for us. The world inspires a covetous spirit, the love of Mammon and a fondness for worldly toys; the Gospel inculcates the necessity of despising all these things, and of quitting all things, at least in affection, to follow Christ. The world is a slave to sensual pleasures, and places its whole happiness in gratifying and indulging its own humours and inclinations; the Gospel requires, as the very first and most necessary condition to be a disciple of Christ that we should deny ourselves, hate our own humours and inclinations, and take up our cross, and follow him. The world imagines them blessed, that abound the most with worldly honours, riches, delicacies, pastimes, and other worldly enjoyments, and have no one to thwart or contradict them. The Gospel, on the contrary, pronounces those blessed that are poor in this world; that suffer injuries and affronts with meekness; that weep and mourn, and are reviled and persecuted by men. In a word, the life of worldlings is a perpetual contradiction of the Gospel of Christ; and the life of Christ, and of all the true children of the Gospel, is a perpetual censure of the world and its maxims. See, my soul, which thou wouldest rather follow, the world or the Gospel; the road way, or the narrow; the way of perdition, or the way of life.

Consider 2ndly, that Christianity never had a more dangerous enemy than the world; and never yet suffered half so much from all the persecutions of infidels, that have been from the beginning, as it continually suffers from those false brethren, who under the Christian name, are perpetually undermining the Gospel of Christ, and promoting the kingdom of Satan. The persecution of infidels made innumerable Saints, and served very much to purify, and to propagate the church and kingdom of Christ; whereas, this war that is continually carried on by wicked Christians against the morals and maxims of the Gospel, draws away innumerable souls from Christ, corrupts the innocence even of the best inclined, and enslaves them to Satan and sin, and condemns to hell. O let us beware of this mortal enemy of our salvation, this torrent of worldly custom, these pernicious maxims of a deluded and deluding world.

Consider 3rdly, with relation to this very time of Shrove-tide, how wide a distance there is between the true spirit of Christianity and the practice of the children of this World. The Church sets aside this time for a time of devotion and penance, that it may be a suitable preparation for the solemn fast of Lent; therefore she puts on, at this time, her penitential attire, she calls upon her children to enter into a penitential disposition, to renounce now their evil ways, and to confess their sins, that they may be properly prepared for melting with mercy and grace, at this approaching time of mercy and grace. The very name Shrove-tide, in the ancient English signifies the time of confession and sins, because our Catholic ancestors were taught to turn to God at this time with their whole hearts, by humble confession and penance. But how sadly has the spirit of the world perverted this pious institution, and turned this time of devotion and penance into a time of riot and sin, even of such excesses and extravagances, as would much better suit with the heathenish festivals of Bacchus, than with any Christian solemnity, much less with preparation for a penitential fast! Beware then, my soul, of conforming thyself to the world, in any of its extravagances at this time, lest by joining now with this enemy of God and of thy salvation, thou come to lose both thyself and thy God for all eternity.

Conclude to give ear to the divine oracles. 'Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.' 1 John ii. 15. 'The friendship of this world is the enemy of God; whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God,' James iv. 4. and since the word of God thus expressly declares that there can be no such thing as being a friend both to God and the world, keep off from the love of the world, and from its maxims and customs, lest thou make God thy enemy.

..
 
Top