Today's contemplation


21st June


Friday within the octave of Corpus Christi
On the mysteries contained in the Blessed Eucharist

Consider first, that all the sacraments are sacred and mysterious signs of divine graces and of heavenly truths, which are concealed under these outward appearances, and through them are conveyed to our souls; but that the blessed Eucharist in particular, as it is the greatest of all the sacraments, contains more and greater mysteries than any of the rest. Here our Lord gives himself to us in quality of our food; that as sin and death, and all our miseries, came to us originally by eating of the forbidden fruit, so grace and life, and all our good, should come to us by eating here of the fruit of the tree of life, which he has left us under the form of bread, a form as being the most expressive to us both of his real and his mystical body. ‘He is the living bread that came down from heaven for the life of the world,’ John vi. 51,52. And his body has all the qualities of bread in regard to our souls, inasmuch as it is the true food and nourishment of our souls unto life everlasting. Therefore this form of bread is the most proper to express to us the true living bread which it contains, namely, the true and real body of Christ, and its qualities and effects in being the food, nourishment, strength, and life of our souls; and at the same time is also most proper to express to us the mystical body of Christ, which is his church; and the union of concord and charity by which all its members, like so many grains of corn, are so closely united, as if it were one bread, by means of the holy Communion, according to that of St. Paul, i Cor. x. 17, ‘We being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread.’

Consider 2ndly, that in this most holy sacrament and sacrifice, the death and passion of the Son of God is also in a lively manner represented to us, and all the mysteries of our redemption are solemnly celebrated; inasmuch as, by the separate consecration of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, the true Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, presents himself to his Father upon our altars, under the figure of death, that is under the sacramental veils, which represent his body as delivered up, broken, and slain for us, and his blood as shed for us. So that here the whole passion and death of Christ is solemnly acted as a most sacred tragedy, by himself in person; here that death which is the fountain of all our good, is shown forth in such a manner as not only to be kept up in our remembrance, but also to live in us, and bring forth always in us the fruit of life; here the blood of Christ most powerfully pleads and intercedes for us. Here, in fine, not only the passion and death but also the victorious resurrection and triumphant ascension of our crucified King are solemnly commemorated. O my soul, admire and adore these divine mysteries.

Consider 3rdly, that the participation of the body and blood of Christ, under the sacramental veils, is no less mysterious in the mass - benefits it ensures to us with relation to our redemption and salvation. For here we receive an assurance of the share we have in our Redeemer, and in the sacrifice of his cross. Here we are mystically incorporated in him, and are made partakers of his spirit. Here we are admitted to that blood which is the seal of the new covenant; importing the remission of our sins, and our reconciliation with God, through the death of his Son together with an admittance to all graces and blessings through him. Here, in fine, we have a most certain pledge of a happy resurrection and everlasting life, and of an eternal enjoyment in our blessed country of him who thus lovingly gives himself to us in this place of banishment.

Conclude ever to approach with all reverence and love these mysteries so full of majesty and love. The high priest, in the Old Testament, was but once a year to enter into the inner sanctuary, called the Holy of Holies, and then not without divers purifications and sacrifices, and a solemn fast of all Israel. See then how pure, how holy, thou oughtest to be, who art so often admitted, by the means of this heavenly sacrament, into the sanctuary of the New Testament, that is, to these divine mysteries sanctified by the presence of Jesus Christ himself, the true Holy of Holies, of which that Jewish sanctuary was but a shadow.


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22nd June

Saturday within the Octave of Corpus Christi
On the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Eucharist

Consider first, that what, above all things, renders these divine mysteries venerable to a Christian, and that which principally calls for his faith and devotion, is the real presence of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, and of all that he contains both as God and as man, in the blessed Eucharist. This real presence we learn from the express words of truth itself so often repeated in the Holy Scripture, and from the express declaration of the church of God, against which the gates of hell can never prevail. Upon these two pillars of truth, the word of God, and the church of God, the humble and faithful Christian securely rests. Bow thyself down then, my soul, to adore this sacred truth. Let no proud thought of opposition arise in thee against this great mystery. Captivate thy understanding to the obedience of faith. Remember that the glory and merit of faith is to believe what thou canst not see; that the Almighty can do infinitely more than thou canst comprehend; and that no effort of mercy, bounty, and love can be too great for him who died for love.

Consider 2ndly, how many ways this Lord of ours, who is both our creator and our redeemer, communicates himself to us. He came down from heaven, and took our flesh and blood, in order to make us partakers of his divinity, and to carry us up to heaven. He offered up that flesh and blood upon the cross, as a sacrifice for us, to deliver us from sin and hell, and to purchase mercy, grace, and salvation for us. And he gives us here verily and indeed the same flesh and blood, to be our food, comfort, and support in our pilgrimage, till he brings us, by virtue of that food, to our true country, where he will give himself to us for all eternity. Thus in his incarnation and birth, he made himself our companion; in his passion and death, the price of our ransom; in the banquet of his last supper, our food amid nourishment; and in his heavenly kingdom, our eternal reward. O my soul, what return shall we be able to make him for giving himself so many ways to us? Alas! dear Lord, we have nothing to give but what is thine already - we have nothing to give that is worthy of thee. But be pleased to accept of all that our poverty can afford; and let this whole being of ours be for ever dedicated to thy love as a whole burnt offering, to lie always upon thy altar, there burning and consuming with that divine fire which thou camest to cast upon the earth, and which thou so much desirest should be enkindled.

Consider 3rdly, what ought to be our sentiments in coming to these divine mysteries, in consequence of our faith of the real presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, in this blessed sacrament. O! what reverential awe ought we to bring with us, when we draw near so tremendous a majesty; in whose sight the whole creation is a mere nothing? What fear and dread when we enter into his sanctuary, who is infinitely pure and holy, who sees all our guilt, and cannot endure iniquity? What sentiments of humility, when we reflect what he is, and what we are? What sorrow and contrition for all our past treasons and offences against this infinite goodness? What sentiments of gratitude for his giving us here his own self; in this wonderful manner? What desires of returning him love for love? O! how would a Christian be affected, if he visibly and evidently saw his God before him in his approaching to this blessed sacrament! A lively faith, which apprehends things invisible, as if they were visible, would produce the like affections. O! give us, sweet Jesus, this lively faith.

Conclude ever to admire and adore the incomprehensible ways by which God is pleased to communicate himself to us. Resolve to correspond in the best manner you are able with the riches of his bounty and goodness, by approaching to these divine mysteries with faith, with fear, and with love.



23rd June


Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi
On Christ's inviting us to His Heavenly Banquet

Consider first, those words of the parable of this day’s gospel, 'A certain man made a great supper and invited many,’ Luke xiv. 16, and reflect how our Lord has indeed prepared a great banquet for us in the institution of the blessed sacrament, and has invited us all to it. ‘O sacred banquet,’ says the church, in the anthem used during this octave, 'in which Christ is received, the memory of his passion is kept up, the soul is filled with grace, and a pledge is given us of the glory to come!’ A happy banquet, in which we feed upon the bread of heaven, and drink at the very source of the fountain of life! To this heavenly banquet the Son of God invites all the faithful in the most loving manner. ‘Come to me,’ says he, all you that labour, and are burthened, and I will refresh you,' St. Matt. xi. 28. Ah! Christians, we all labour and lie under many and very heavy burthens from the sins and miseries to which we are exposed during our mortal pilgrimage; and in this heavenly banquet we come to Christ to be refreshed, nourished, and strengthened by him. O sweet invitation! O happy call to the source of grace here, and of endless glory hereafter.

Consider 2ndly, how much our Lord is offended by all such as refuse to correspond to his loving invitation, and to come to his banquet. He has prepared this banquet out of pure love, that we may feast with him and he with us. He desires, out of pure love, to impart himself and all his goods to us; and therefore justly resents his love being slighted by us, and our preferring the farm, the oxen, the wife, in a word, the world and the things of the world, before him and his banquet. Christians, if you have any love for Christ, surely you must be desirous of going to him, and entertaining yourselves with him in this great banquet of love. Love tends to union, and here it is that you are to be in so perfect a manner united to him as to abide in him and live by him. If you have any love for yourselves and for your own souls, you must gladly go to this banquet, in which you will find all your good, and all that can make you truly happy both here and hereafter.

Consider 3rdly, that in staying away from Christ in the blessed sacrament, we do not only neglect his invitation and slight his love, but also break through his ordinance and violate his commandment. The very institution of these heavenly mysteries to be the support of our spiritual life for the time of our mortality, implies a commandment for us to approach to them, and to make use of them. We should be guilty of self-murder if we suffered the body to perish, by refusing to take that food which God has appointed for its sustenance, and are we not equally guilty of murdering our souls if we suffer them to starve for want of the food and sustenance which our Lord has allotted them in this life-giving banquet? Truth itself assures us, St. John vi. 54, that without this heavenly food ‘we have no life in us;' as then we are most strictly bound to maintain the life of our souls, we are most strictly bound to use this food of life; and it is no less certain death to stay away from this blessed sacrament, than it is to come to it unworthily.

Conclude, my soul, to correspond henceforward with the loving invitation of thy dear Redeemer, by a frequent and worthy communion. Remember that the blessed sacrament is named our daily bread in that prayer which out: Lord himself has taught us. O! how happy should we be if we lived in such purity and holiness as to be worthy to be daily admitted, like the primitive Christians, to this bread of heaven! O let us do our best so to live, so to be have in every respect, that we may at least very often approach to this heavenly table, and there feast ourselves with Jesus Christ!

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24th June


Monday within the Octave of Corpus Christi
On the excellent fruits of this Divine Banquet

Consider first, that in all the sacraments the worthy receiver is made partaker of divine grace, which is conveyed into the soul through those heavenly channels; but the sacrament of the Eucharist has this advantage above all the rest, that it imparts to the soul the very source itself from which all graces flow, by giving us Jesus Christ himself; the author of all graces, his own body, his blood, his soul and divinity; and therefore it is the most excellent of all the sacraments, and the most plentiful in its fruits. Among those fruits that which is most peculiar to this divine sacrament is, that it has the like qualities and properties with regard to the soul as our corporal food has with regard to the body, according to that of our Saviour, John vi., 'the bread that I shall give, is my flesh for the life of the world;' and again, 'my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed;' inasmuch as this bread supports our spiritual life by the abundance of graces which it furnishes for the food and nourishment of our souls; it repairs the daily decays we are liable to from our natural infirmity and corruption, and adds new strength and vigour to carry us on happily in our journey towards heaven. This is that 'bread that strengthens the heart of man,’ Ps. ciii. 15; that gives us force against all temptations; that weakens our passions and concupiscences; that enables us to grow daily in virtue, and to run forward in the way of all the divine commandments, till we arrive at the mountain of God, that is, at the very top of the perfection of a Christian life.

Consider 2ndly, that this heavenly sacrament not only feeds, nourishes, and strengthens the soul, in order to the maintaining in us the life of grace here, and the bringing us to the life of glory hereafter; but also tends in a particular manner to unite us by a union of love with our sovereign good, and to transform us into Christ himself. 'He that eateth my flesh,’ saith our Lord, John vi. 57 'and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent one, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.’ The corporal food which we take, by the means of our natural heat and digestion, is changed into our corporal substance; but this spiritual food is not changed into us, but by its heavenly heat changes us into itself. 'Christ is the food of them that are grown up,’ saith St. Augustine, 'grow thou up, and thou shalt feed on him; yet thou shalt not change him into thyself, but thou shalt be changed into him.’ 'Our God is a consuming fire,’ says the apostle, Heb. xii. 29. Fire has a power of transforming all things into itself; by communicating its nature and properties to all such things as it lays hold on; how much more shall this bright flame, which communicates itself to us by the sacred mysteries set our souls on fire with divine love, and change us into our beloved.

Consider 3rdly, that the best disposition for this happy transformation and blessed union of love is to approach to this divine sacrament with an entire resignation of ourselves and of our whole being into the hands of him whom we are going to receive. 'As I willingly offered myself to God my Father for thy sins,’ saith the Beloved, (1. iv. c. 8, of the Following of Christ,) 'with my hands stretched out upon the cross, and my body naked, so that nothing remained in me which was not turned into a sacrifice, to appease the divine wrath; even so must thou willingly offer thyself daily to me in the Mass (and Communion) together with all thy powers and affections, as heartily as thou art able, for a pure and holy oblation. What do I require more of thee than that thou endeavour to resign thyself entirely to me? Whatsoever thou givest besides thyself, I shall not regard, for I seek not thy gift, but thyself. As it would not suffice thee if thou hast all things but me, so neither can it please me whatever thou givest, as long as thou offerest not thyself. Offer thyself to me, and give thy whole self for God, and thy offering will be accepted. Behold, I offer my whole self to the Father for thee, and have given my whole body and blood for thy food that I might be all thine, and thou mightest be always mine but if thou wilt stand upon thyself, and wilt not offer thyself freely to my will, thy offering is not perfect, nor will there be an entire union between us. My sentence stands firm - "except a man give up all, he cannot be my disciple.” If therefore, thou desirest to be my disciple, give thyself up to me with all thy affections.’

Conclude to give all for all, if thou hopest to relish the fruits of this heavenly sacrament, that is, to give thy whole self without reserve to him that gives his whole self to thee. Let this oblation of thyself to God, ever go before, accompany, and follow thy Communion; there can be no better devotion.



25th June


Tuesday within the Octave of Corpus Christi
On the dispositions we ought to bring to the Holy Communion

Consider first, these words of St. Paul, 1 Cor. xi. 28, 'Let a man prove himself,’ that is, let him try and examine himself; by looking well into the state of his conscience, and setting all right in his interior, ‘and so eat of that bread, &c., lest otherwise approaching to it unworthily, he makes himself guilty of the body and of the blood of our Lord,’ v. 27, 'and receive his own judgment and condemnation, not discerning the body of the Lord,’ v. 29; so that the first and most essential disposition to a worthy Communion is purity of conscience, at least from all mortal sin. Whosoever presumes to approach to purity itself in these sacred mysteries, must be clean and pure - Sancta sanctis, holy things of them that are holy. 'God will be sanctified in them that approach to him,’ Levit. x. 3, and will execute justice and judgment on them that defile and profane his sanctuary by entering in thither and receiving the Holy of Holies with a soul polluted by wilful sin. Good God, keep me from being ever so miserable!

Consider 2ndly, how great is the guilt of a Communion made without this disposition of purity of conscience. ‘Tis a most grievous sacrilege, by profaning the most holy of all the sacraments. ‘Tis a most heinous injury and affront offered to our Lord himself in person, by bringing him into a polluted habitation. A soul under the guilt of mortal sin is possessed by devils; the unworthy communicant therefore introduces the Lord of glory into a den of unclean spirits. He imitates the treason of Judas, by betraying him, as much as lies in him, to his enemies. He lays violent hands on our Lord, like the Jews; and, like them, is guilty of the body and blood of Christ. We should have a feeling of horror for the wretch who by wilful murder, had been guilty of innocent blood, though it were but of the meanest person living; what then ought we to think of ourselves if by an unworthy Communion, we should be guilty of the blood of the Son of God himself? Would not such a crime as this cry to heaven for vengeance? Would it not very much darken the understanding, and harden the heart? Would it not put the soul even in the broad road of final impenitence? It would be, according to the apostle, receiving judgment, that is, damnation to ourselves. Ah, what penance, what floods of tears, would be required to expiate so great a guilt!

Consider 3rdly, that a soul which approaches to the Holy of Holies in the sacred mysteries, ought not to content herself with only aiming at being pure from mortal sin, and for that end preparing herself by contrition and confession; but ought also, as much as possible, to purify herself from all affections to venial sins, and all habits of any such sins, which, when fully deliberated, do a deal of mischief to the soul, and in particular hinder her very much from being sensible of the heavenly sweetness and excellent fruits of this divine sacrament. Ah! Christians, could we but see those spots, those stains, those filthy scabs; that scurf; that leprosy, which these habits of lies, of excuse, of anger, and impatience, of vanity, of curiosity, of indulging our sensuality in eating, drinking, &c., bring upon the soul; we should be sensible, how unfit they make us for the embraces of this our heavenly spouse, 'Beautiful above the sons of men,’ Psalm xliv. 3.

Conclude ever to look to the state of thy conscience, and to purify it from all known and deliberate sins, whenever thou art preparing thy soul for Jesus Christ. Let thy intentions also be pure, by having no other view in thy Communion but his glory and thy salvation, and thy affections pure from all inordinate love of creatures, and thou shalt not fail to be a welcome guest.



26th June


Wednesday within the Octave of Corpus Christi
On devotion before Communion

Consider first, that the soul which desires to prepare a fit lodging for Jesus Christ, whom she is to receive in the blessed sacrament, must not only drive out Satan from her, and rid her inward house of the dirt and filth of sin; but must also procure the proper ornaments and furniture of virtue and devotion to deck out herself and her lodging, that it may be agreeable to the great king that comes to visit her. 'The work is great,’ said David, 1 Paralip. xxix. 1, 'For a house is preparing not for man but for God;’ yea rather, in our case, for him that is both God and man. The groundwork of this preparation must be a lively faith and a serious consideration of the work we are about; who it is that we are to receive, how great and glorious, how pure and holy, &c. And also who we are that are going to receive him - how wretched and unworthy! This consideration must be accompanied or followed by earnest prayer; to beg of his infinite majesty, that since he knows our great poverty and inability to prepare him a fit lodging, he himself would prepare one for himself; by sending beforehand those graces and virtues, and that fervour of devotion, which may fit our souls for him.

Consider 2ndly, that the devotion which we ought to bring with us to this blessed sacrament, consists in the first place in a most profound humility and awful reverence for these tremendous mysteries, sanctified by the real presence of Jesus Christ himself; the Lord of glory, and the fountain of all sanctity. O! how ought we to annihilate ourselves in the sight of this great Lord and maker of heaven and earth! How ought we to fear and tremble, in consideration of our manifold treasons against him, and our base unworthiness! With what profound reverence ought we to approach to the Holy of Holies, who lies here concealed under these sacramental veils! But then, lest this fear and reverence shall go so far as to drive us away from this fountain of life, it must be qualified with an humble confidence in the infinite goodness and mercy of him who invites us to come, and who is ever ready to receive with open arms his prodigal children, when they leave the husks of the swine, and return to him with a true sense of their unworthiness. O! blessed be his holy name for evermore!

Consider 3rdly, that as nothing but pure love brings our Lord to us in this divine sacrament, so the devotion he principally expects of us, when we approach to him, is a return of love. Whichever way we consider these sacred mysteries we shall find that all things here call for our love, and indispensably oblige us to consecrate our whole heart with all its affections to this most lovely and most loving Lord. His death and passion, endured for the love of us, which we here commemorate, an incomprehensible mystery of love, which will astonish men and angels to all eternity; the wonders he has wrought in this heavenly sacrament, that he might make himself our food, and unite us to himself; the inestimable treasure he here imparts to us; the pledge he here gives us of our redemption and of our everlasting salvation: all concur to show forth his love for us, and to claim a return of our whole heart. O my soul, can we see so much love on his part and not be inflamed with a desire of loving him with all our power? Can we remain cold when we approach to so great a fire? Remember thou art going to thy sovereign good, to the source of all grace, to the fountain of life; go then with a hunger and thirst, with an ardent desire to this great banquet of love, where thou art to feed upon thy lover himself; and he will not fail to fill thee with all that is good.

Conclude to exercise thyself always before communion in acts of faith, reverence, and humility; in acts of hope and confidence in thy Saviour; in acts of divine love, and in ardent desires after him, accompanied with a grateful remembrance of the love he has shown thee in dying for thee, and in here giving himself to thee; and the more thou bringest with thee of this preparation and devotion, which enlarges as it were the vessels of thy heart, the more plentifully wilt thou draw of the waters of divine grace from this fountain of life.



27th June

Thursday - within the Octave of Corpus Christi
On devotion after Communion

Consider first, that as the soul must prepare herself to go to receive Jesus Christ by proper devotion before Communion, so she must also take care to entertain him in a proper manner after she has received him; and to make good use of that favourable time (most happy to her above all times, if well employed) during which she has him really present with her, both in his divine and human nature; that is, both as God and man. It would be a gross affront after being favoured with a visit from the king of heaven, desiring to feast himself with us, and bringing all his treasures with him to enrich our souls, if we should turn our back immediately upon him, and take no further notice of him. The meanest of our friends would have reason to resent so contemptuous a usage; how much more so great a Lord! See, my soul, if the little care thou hast taken to manage to the best advantage those happy minutes in which thou hast Jesus Christ with thee, by a proper devotion after Communion, be not the true cause why thou hast reaped so little fruit from thy repeated Communions, which otherwise might long since have made thee a saint. O repent and amend.

Consider 2ndly, what this devotion is with which we are to entertain our Lord after receiving him. First, we are to welcome him by faith, hope, and love;- by a lively faith in all his mysteries, but in particular, that we have really with us, in this blessed sacrament, him who is our maker and our redeemer, infinite in majesty, and infinite in mercy, and who brings with him all the treasures of heaven to enrich us - by a firm hope that he will now, by this blood of the covenant, take full possession of our souls, and make them his, both for time and eternity - by an ardent love, aspiring with all our power and affection to an eternal union with our beloved whom we here receive- 'I have found him whom my soul loveth, I will hold him fast, and will never let him go.’ In the next place, we ought to cast ourselves down at his feet, and to pay him the best homage and adoration we are capable of, bringing all the powers of our soul before him, and obliging them all to bow down to him and worship him. But as all this ought to be accompanied with a lively sense of our unworthiness and sins, we must also take this opportunity of making an humble confession, like Magdalene, of all our treasons, at his feet, craving his mercy for what is past, and the grace of a change of heart and life for the time to come.

Consider 3rdly, that, after these first homages, the soul must, for some time following her Communion, keep close to our Lord, and give space for his grace to penetrate more and more into her interior, and to bring forth there its proper fruit. For this end she must entertain him with praise and thanksgiving; inviting all heaven and earth, all angels and saints, together with the whole creation, to join with her in his praises, and wishing she had the hearts and tongues of all his creatures that she might employ them all in loving and glorifying him, in return for all the wonders of his love and goodness to her. She must also offer herself and all that she has, without reserve, into his hands, that she may be for ever his, and that her whole being may be made as a holocaust or whole burnt-offering, to evaporate to his glory. In fine, she must remember that she is now before the throne of grace, and that the Lord, whom she has with her, carries about with him all the treasures of divine grace, and therefore, she must lay before him all her wants and spiritual necessities, and beg of him, by this opportunity, plentiful supplies of grace both for herself and for the whole church.

Conclude, O my soul, to entertain thy Saviour in this manner, as often as thou shalt receive him in the divine mysteries. Take care also to be more than ordinarily recollected on the whole day following thy Communion, and to keep a great guard upon thyself; lest the enemy - who knows what a treasure thou hast received, and is therefore most busy about thee on this occasion, in hopes of robbing thee of it - should fling some stumbling-block in thy way, to make thee fall into sin, either by passion or concupiscence; that so by this means he may drive Christ away from thee and get possession of thy soul.

N.B. That as often as the Octave of Corpus Christi shall fall before the thirteenth day of the month of June, the meditations that shall then be wanting in this place are to be taken on: of the number of those that are marked for the month of February; which were omitted at that time, to give place to the meditations appointed for Lent.

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28th June

On the motives of Repentance

Consider first, the motives we have to repent for our sins, from the consideration of the filthiness of that ugly monster sin, and of its heinous enormity in the sight of God. Mortal sin is infinitely odious to him, because infinitely opposed to his sovereign goodness, and to all his divine attributes. It is infinitely pernicious to our souls - it makes them like very devils in the eyes of God. It robs us of divine grace, which is the true life of the soul, and of all our good; it is a poison which, in a moment, brings present death, and condemns us to a second and eternal death. It is an evil so black, so odious, so hideous, that hell itself has nothing worse. It leaves behind it a cursed stain, the perpetual fuel of the merciless flames of hell, which endless ages will never be able to efface. Alas! my poor soul, how wretched then has thy case been all this while thou hast been in sin! How ugly and abominable hast thou been in the sight of God and his angels! for the foulest creature upon earth is a beauty in comparison with a soul in sin. Ah! couldst thou but see thyself as thou art in this wretched state, the very sight would strike thee dead! O detest then this abominable monster, and spare no pains to get rid of it.

Consider 2ndly, the woes that are pronounced in scripture against unrepenting sinners, and the judgments of God that are perpetually hanging over their heads, and threatening them on all sides both with temporal and eternal evils. Ah! what good can they expect who have made God their enemy, and are fighting against him! he holds the thread of their life in his hands, which they are provoking him to break; and if he breaks it, in that moment they drop into hell. They have made themselves slaves of the devil; they are possessed by him, and are at his mercy, who knows not what mercy is. Death is always following them at the heels, and a sudden, or at least an unprovided death, is commonly the reward of their presumption. Hell below opens wide her jaws, and is gaping to swallow them up, and thousands of them are daily going down into that bottomless pit, 'where the worm never dies, and the fire is never extinguished,' Mark ix. 43. Ah! who can bear everlasting fire? Who can endure to burn for ever? Fly then, my soul, from sin. Detest that evil which can, and will without repentance, condemn thee to hell.

Consider 3rdly, that sin makes a dreadful separation between the soul and God, which is begun here and extends to all eternity hereafter. 'You are not my people,' says he, Osee i. 9, 'and I will not be yours.' Alas! the loss of God which begins from mortal sin, is the very worst of all the ingredients of hell. Sin is a rebellion against this sovereign good, a blasphemous preference of Satan before him, a sacrilegious attempt to rob him of his glory, and to divest him of his kingdom. It is murdering both the Son of God and our own souls. The folly and madness of it, as well as the monstrous presumption and treason, is infinite. O! how much then does that evil deserve to be detested which robs us of an infinite good, which otherwise should have been ours for all eternity, and brings us nothing in exchange but endless and infinite evils?

Conclude to labour with all thy power to drive away sin from thy soul by penance, and God will return to thee and be thine for ever.

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29th June

June 29th
On St. Peter and St. Paul
Consider first, the wonders of God in these two glorious saints; reflect what they were before their being called by Jesus Christ, how admirable they were afterwards exalted by divine grace, and how perfectly they corresponded with divine grace, by their zeal and by their labours, by their lives and by their deaths. The wisdom of God came down from heaven to build a house, to found a city, to establish a kingdom here upon earth, which should ever be victorious over all the powers of hell, and should subsist till time itself should end. And see what choice he has made of men to be his principal instruments in this great work. See in the person of St. Peter, a poor, weak, illiterate fisherman, made the master-builder, under Christ, of this house and temple, and at the same time the strong rock and foundation of it; see him raised to be the first governor of this city, the prime minister of this kingdom of God upon earth, St. Matt. xvi. 18, 19, and St. John xxi. 15, &c. Oh! how true it is, that 'God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, that he may confound the wise, and the weak things of the world that he may confound the strong: and the things that are contemptible, and things that are not, -that no flesh should glory in his sight,' 1 Cor. I. 27, &c. O divine wisdom, how incomprehensible are thy ways, and how much exalted above the ways of men! O how do these thy dealings with us confound the proud and comfort the humble!

Consider 2ndly, in the person of St. Paul, another still more admirable instance of the power of divine grace and of the incomprehensible wisdom of the ways of God. An ignorant fisherman as St. Peter was, seems indeed nowise qualified to be a preacher and teacher of Jews and Gentiles, a founder of churches, an apostle, and prince of the apostles; but then he was humble and simple, and such God usually chooses for the greatest things. But as for St. Paul, he was not only not qualified to be preacher of the gospel, but positively disqualified by dispositions directly contrary to the humility and simplicity of the gospel. He was a blasphemous Pharisee, a fiery zealot, a bloody persecutor, a ravenous wolf, scattering and destroying the sheep of Christ. And yet he is made, in a moment, by a miracle of grace, a vessel of election, to carry the name of Christ before nations and kings and the children of Israel; he is changed in an instant from a wolf into a lamb; he puts off at once the Pharisee, the blasphemer, the persecutor; he lays down his own will at the feet of Christ, and has now no other passion but that of employing his whole life in propagating the name, the will and the kingdom of his God. O! here is a change of the right hand of the Most High! Here the wonders of God's power, wisdom, and goodness, shine forth much more brightly than even in the raising of the dead to life.

Consider 3rdly, the lives of these two great saints after their call and election; their ardent zeal for the glory of their Lord; their unwearied labours in preaching and propagating his kingdom; their constancy in a long course of sufferings, dying, in a manner daily, for the cause of God; and above all things, that divine love and charity which continually burnt in their breast, which animated all their words and actions, supported them in all their labours and sufferings, kept them always in their interior united to their God, and was daily growing stronger and stronger in them, till it made them victorious over death, and brought them to true life, in the eternal enjoyment of the great object of their love.

Conclude to give praise and glory to God for all the graces and glory bestowed upon these two princes and pillars of his church. Study to learn the great lessons they taught both by word and work. But especially learn of them the practice of divine love - nothing else can make us saints.



30th June


June 30th
On Sincerity in Confession

Consider first, the necessity of being sincere in the confession of our sins, if we hope for the forgiveness of them. All hypocrisy and double-dealing, in matters of this consequence, is abominable in the sight of God. The prophet pronounces a curse against them 'that do the work of the Lord deceitfully,' Jer. xlviii. 10. And surely they must be guilty, in the highest degree, of doing the work of God deceitfully, that go to confession with fraud and deceit, and while they outwardly profess humility and sincerity, conceal though the pride of their heart, and disguise by lies the guilt of their consciences. Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead by a visible judgment of God, for telling 'a lie to the Holy Ghost,' Acts v. And are not all such as are insincere in the confession of their sins, guilty in like manner of telling a lie to the Holy Ghost, whilst they seek to impose upon the minister of God, in this most solemn and sacred function? They are guilty also of a grievous sacrilege, as often as they receive absolution in this case, by their profaning the sacrament of penance, which sacrilege is commonly followed by another still greater, by their making themselves also guilty of the body and blood of Christ by an unworthy Communion, and thereby receiving damnation to themselves. Good God, preserve us from so heinous and so dreadful an evil!

Consider 2ndly, the dismal consequences of suffering one's self to be imposed upon in such a manner by the father of lies, as to conceal any matter of moment in confession, either through shame, or fear, or pride of heart. Alas! to avoid a little present confusion, which would be immediately followed by the recovery of God's favour, with peace of conscience, comfort, and joy, what a bottomless pit of dreadful and endless evils does the soul cast herself headlong into! What inextricable difficulties, pains, and perplexities! For she has no sooner yielded herself up to the old serpent by this criminal concealment but this dumb devil takes such possession of her as to make her apprehend the confession of her guilt more than either death or hell. Hence she goes on adding sin to sin, sacrilege to sacrilege, burthened all the while by her own conscience, gnawed with a remorse which she seeks in vain to stifle, and carrying about with her a painful imposthume in her heart which never suffers her to be easy. She deludes herself indeed with vain purposes of confessing some time or other hereafter; but in the meantime her difficulties increase, the devil daily acquires more and more power over her, till at length mercy abused gives place to justice, and when she least expects it she is cut off in her sins, and carries down with he the guilt of them all, to be confessed too late in hell.

Consider 3rdly, how little reason there is for a penitent to be so much ashamed of the confession of his sins. Sin, indeed, is shameful, but the confession of one's sin is not so. No, the humble confession of a sinner gives glory to God, is honourable to the penitent himself, and affords joy to the whole court of heaven. And as to the confessor, besides that he is bound by all laws to an eternal secrecy, and can make no manner of use of the knowledge he receives by confession that can anywise be disagreeable to the penitent, he is so far even in his own mind from despising or thinking worse of the prodigal child, returning home by confession, or having less regard or affection for his penitent on that occasion that, on the contrary, as he more clearly sees the hand of God in the humility and sincerity of the confession, he rejoices in this happy change, he likes the penitent better than before, and conceives greater hopes of him for the future, and thinking no more of what is past, he has a more tender regard than ever for a soul that has thus unbosomed herself to him. In the meantime, the penitent finds himself in a manner in paradise, by the comfort and joy that he feels in having discharged his conscience of its load, and let out the imposthume that would not suffer him to be easy.

Conclude to beware of the tricks of the father of lies, who hates nothing so much as an humble confession, and therefore makes use of innumerable artifices to induce Christians to pass over, or disguise at least, their sins in the sacrament of penance. Ah, how many thousands of souls has he deluded by these artifices, and drawn down into the bottomless pit? Alas! how easy it is for persons to be deceived on these occasions, who in effect have a mind to be deceived, and are willing, at any rate, to form to themselves a false conscience, by some pretext or other, to spare themselves the shame of confessing their sins. See, my soul, this never be thy case, and therefore whensoever thou findest a repugnance to confess any part of thy guilt, and a willingness to find some reason to dispense either thyself, be sure to confess the sooner that which thou findest this repugnance to declare , for fear of thy being imposed upon by pride or self love.



1st July


On Time and Eternity

Consider first, how precious a thing time is which we are so apt to squander away, as if it were of no value. Time is the measure of our lives; therefore as much as we lose of our time, so much of our lives is absolutely lost. All our time is given us, in order to our employing it in the service of our Maker, and by that means securing to our souls a happy eternity; and there is not one moment of it in which we may not store up for ourselves a treasure for eternity; so that, as many as we lose of these precious moments, they are so many lost eternities. Our time is a talent with which God has entrusted us, and of which he will one day demand of us a strict account how we have spent every hour of it. Our salvation or damnation for eternity will depend upon the good or bad use of our time. Ah! how little do we think of this? How little do we think of the sins we are daily guilty of, in squandering away so much of this precious time?

Consider 2ndly, how short is the whole time of this mortal life; a mere nothing compared with eternity, and how very quickly it passes away. When past 'tis gone - it is no more; it leaves no footsteps behind it. The time to come is not ours: we cannot promise ourselves one moment of it. The present time is all we can call our own, and God only knows how long it will be so. It fies away in an instant, and when once it is gone it cannot be called back. Our hours, one after another, all post away with precipitate haste into the vast gulf of eternity, and are swallowed up there, and then appear no more. The very moment in which we are reading this line is just passing, never, never more to return. And as many of these hours, as many of these moments as are once lost are lost for ever: the loss is irreparable. Learn hence, O my soul, to set a just value upon thy present time - learn to husband it well, and employ it all to the best advantage.

Consider 3rdly, that as all time is short and passes quickly away, so all the temporal enjoyments of the honours, riches, and pleasures of this world are of the like condition: they all pass away with time - they are all transitory, uncertain, and inconstant. Only eternity and the goods or evils which it comprises, are truly great, as being without end, without change, without comparison; admitting of no mixture of evil in its goods, nor any alloy of comfort in its evils. O how quickly does the glory of this world pass away! How very soon will all temporal grandeur, all worldly pride and state, all the riches and pleasures of worldlings, be buried in the coffin! A few short years are more than any one can promise himself. and after that, poor sinner, what will become of thee? Alas! the worms will prey upon thy body, and merciless devils on thy unrepenting soul! Thy worldly friends will all forget thee. The very stone on which thou hast got thy name engraved will not long outlive thee. O how true is that sentence: 'vanity of vanities, and all is vanity but to love God, and to serve him alone!' - Kempis.

Conclude to make such use of this present time and of all temporary things as to make them serviceable to thy soul in her journey towards eternity. But take care not to let thy heart cleave to them by any disorderly affection, lest thou be entangled in them and perish with them.



2nd July

On the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin

Consider first, how the blessed Virgin having now conceived In her womb the Son of God, and having learned from the angel Gabriel that her kinswoman St. Elizabeth had also, by a miracle, conceived a son in her old age, makes haste to visit her, and being now full of God herself, carries her treasure with her to the house of Zachary to impart, out of the abundance of it, grace and sanctity both to the mother and to the son. See, my soul, how the Son of God, incarnate for us, whilst he is yet in his mother's womb, begins to communicate his graces, not only to his blessed mother herself, by elevating her soul daily more and more to a greater fullness of grace, but also to John Baptist, his forerunner, (by sanctifying him before he was born,) and to holy St. Elizabeth, by filling her with the Holy Ghost and making his blessed mother the instrument of these wonders. Give ear to the gospel, Luke i. 39, &c. 'Mary rising up in those days went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary the infant leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and she cried with a loud voice and said: Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord,' &c. This visitation, so full of mysteries, and the source of so many extraordinary graces, is honoured by the church in the festival of this day.

Consider 2ndly, more in particular the wonders of this day's visit. See how at the first voice of the mother of God, by the all-powerful grace of him whom she bears in her womb, the Baptist is immediately cleansed from original sin. See how he is justified and sanctified in his mother's womb; see how the use of reason is advanced in him, and how in that darksome prison he is made sensible of the presence of the 'true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world;' see with what ardour of devotion and love he is carried towards his Lord and his sovereign good, and leaps for joy at his presence - longing as it were to break forth from his confinement, and to go before him and publish aloud to all the world, 'Behold the Lamb of God! Behold him that taketh away the sin of the world!' John i. 29. But see also the wonderful lights and extraordinary graces that are communicated to St. Elizabeth by this visitation; see how she is filled with the Holy Ghost; see in how clear a manner the great mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God, with all its consequences and fruits, is revealed to her. What a sense she has of the high dignity of the virgin mother of God, and with what ardour of devotion she publishes aloud the sentiments of her soul, and glorifies both the Son and the mother, acknowledging herself infinitely unworthy of so great a favour as that of a visit from them. Bless the Lord, my soul, for all these wonders of his grace, and learn with what sentiments of devotion, with what faith, with what hope, with what love, with what humility thou oughtest to draw near to the same Lord on our altars, lying hid in the sacred mysteries. Learn also what extraordinary graces may be drawn form this inexhaustible source of all grace, as also how great the benefit is of his visiting mankind, by his 'being made flesh and dwelling amongst us;' and how powerful and effectual is the intercession of his blessed mother for the procuring from him the greatest blessings for Christian souls.

Consider 3rdly, how the soul of the virgin mother was affected upon this occasion. She has expressed the sentiments of her heart in that admirable canticle she then pronounced. 'My soul,' saith she, 'doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is his name,' &c. See, my soul, in these words, as well as in all the rest of that divine canticle, the wonderful sense this blessed virgin had of the infinite goodness and mercy of God in the great work of the incarnation of his Son; her exceeding great joy in God, joined with love and praise on that occasion; her gratitude for her having been freely chosen by the divine bounty to be the happy instrument of God in effecting that admirable work, and her most profound humility in ascribing nothing at all to herself, but giving all the glory to God; and for admiring his wonderful ways, in choosing for so great a work so weak, so mean, so lowly an instrument as she esteemed herself. Learn, O my soul, to imitate these her sentiments.

Conclude to give thanks to our Lord for all his wonders wrought at this visitation, and for the many visits with which he so frequently favours thee. Beware lest any want of correspondence on thy part deprive thee of thy share in the great blessings and graces which he usually imparts to such souls as give proper entertainment to his divine visits.


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3rd July

On the good employment of time

Consider first, how great a treasure time is when well employed. Every hour of it is of far greater value than all the kingdoms of the earth; because in every hour of it, if well employed, we may purchase an eternal kingdom in heaven; but all the kingdoms of the earth put together are not able to purchase for the dying sinner one hour of time in his greatest want of it. Ah! 'tis then that sinners will begin to be convinced of the value of time and of the infinite importance of employing it well when they shall see themselves upon the brink of eternity, and when there shall be no more time for them. But O! what would not the damned in hell give for one of these hours? And how well would they employ it if it could be allowed them? But alas! they would not work whilst the time was, whilst they had the daylight before them; and now the dismal and eternal night has overtaken them in which there is no time to work, and in which they shall, with bitter but fruitless repentance, eternally condemn their past folly and madness in misemploying and squandering away during life so much precious time. O Christians, let us learn to be wise at their expense!

Consider 2ndly, the strict obligation incumbent upon us all of employing our whole time to the best advantage. Our time is not our own; it belongs to our maker, it is lent us by our Lord and master. The servant is strictly bound to employ his time in the service of his master; he is both an idle and a wicked servant if, being hired to work, he spends his time in play. What must we, than, think of ourselves if, being made and sent into this world by our great master for nothing else but to spend the short time of our mortal life in serving him and doing his will, we squander it all away in empty amusements, worldly diversions and vanities, or in doing our own will rather than his? Ah! Christians, deceive not yourselves; such a crying injustice as this calls to heaven for vengeance; the wasting and destroying so much of your master's precious time (more precious by far than all the goods of the world) will never pass unpunished. If you are to be accountable for every idle word, how much more for every idle hour? O! reflect how much it cost your dear redeemer to purchase for you this time. By sin you had forfeited your life, and consequently your time, and incurred the guilt of a double death; and whatsoever time God has allowed you since your sin has been purchase for you by the blood of Christ, in order to your repentance and a new life. It has cost him an infinite price, it belongs to him, the alienating it from him is a robbery; it is a sacrilege, it is perverting to your greater damnation what he purchased for your salvation.

Consider 3rdly, the immense treasures of grace, and the everlasting glory, that may be continually stored up by a good employment of time. There is not one moment of all the time of this mortal life in which if well employed, we may not purchase a new degree of eternal bliss. Now, every degree of eternal bliss is something infinitely more precious and more desirable than all the riches and all the kingdoms of the earth. What a loss is it then to lose any of these happy moments! it is losing so many immense and eternal treasures. A loss so great that if the happy state of the blessed in heaven could admit of any such thing as grief, they would certainly regret, to all eternity, all those moments of the time of their mortal pilgrimage which they had not employed to the best advantage; when they shall clearly see, in the light of God, what an immense increase of eternal glory and happiness they might have acquired by the due employment of all those precious moments.

Conclude to have ever before thy eyes the infinite advantages that are to be found in employing well thy time, and the strict obligation thou hast of spending it all in the service of thy maker; and his according to his ordinance, and agreeable to the end for which he sent thee hither, and for which he gives thee all thy time. And ever remember that in his account all that time will be considered as idly spent, and quite squandered away, that has not been dedicated to the doing his will.

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4th July


On remembering the Four Last Things

Consider first, those words of the wise man, (Eccles. vii. 40,) ‘In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin;’ and reflect how true it is that the memory of the four last things has a wonderful efficacy to restrain the soul from sin, and to take off the heart from the affections to it. The remembrance of death, the view of the grave, of the coffin, of the shroud, of the worms, and the maggots, and of the speedy corruption of that carcass of ours; the serious and frequent consideration of the necessity of our quickly parting with all that we love in this world, and of our being forsaken and presently forgotten by all, must needs humble our pride and vain-glory, abate our fondness for this world and its deluding toys, check our sensual and carnal inclinations, and keep all our passions under. ‘O! the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,’ can never endure the sight of the grave. But then when we look beyond the grave, and meditate on leisure on the strict account we must one day give to an all-wise, all-powerful, and most just Judge, who cannot endure iniquity; when we consider that his eye is ever upon all our thoughts, words, and works, and that they are all to be weighed in the sales of his divine justice, and according as they are there found we are to be rewarded or punished for endless ages, and to be either infinitely happy, or infinitely miserable – how is it possible that in the midst of such considerations as these we should dare to sin!

Consider 2ndly that the remembrance of the four last things wonderfully serves to correct the errors of worldlings, to open their eyes to truth, and to shut them to vanity. The transitory things of this world, its goods, and its evils, as we call them, are apt to make a great impression upon our poor souls, shut up as they are in this earthly prison. We take them for something; we are fond of honour, riches, and pleasures, as if they were solid goods; and we are afraid of contempt, poverty, and pain, as if they were real evils. but the meditating on our last end undeceives us; it quickly convinces us that all is nothing that passes with time; that nothing is truly great but what is eternal; that those things deserve not the name of goods that contribute nothing to make us either good here or happy hereafter; and that those are no evils which help to bring us to an infinite good. In fine, as to all the false maxims of the world, and the prevailing opinions and practices of its unhappy slaves and their abettors, this kind of consideration on the last things exposes the folly and madness of them all, and sets them in such a light as to determine the soul to adhere no longer to such perverse and erroneous notions as will certainly be changed at death, condemned at the last judgment, and if not recalled in time, punished in hell for all eternity.

Consider 3rdly, the manifold fruits which have been heretofore and are daily produced by the serious consideration of the four last things. Even the most hardened sinners have often been converted from their wicked ways to a penitential life by the terror of these thundering truths, death, judgment, hell, eternity. The preaching, the reading, and meditating on these truths has sent numbers into deserts or religious houses, there to secure their eternal salvation by a saintly life; and such considerations as these have generally laid the first foundations even of the most eminent sanctity. O what lessons may we not learn among the silent monuments of the dead, who made some noise heretofore in the world, but now are thought of no more! What lectures, what instructions, what exhortations, may we not daily receive, by attending in spirit to the trials at the great bar; by going down while we are alive into the darksome dungeons below, and viewing at leisure what is doing there, and by ascending up into heaven and contemplating those happy mansions of eternal bliss, prepared for the reward of the momentary labours and sufferings of the servants of God? O let us daily frequent these schools.

Conclude to make it thy practice to think often on these important subjects, which so nearly concern thy everlasting welfare. It will be a sovereign means to prevent an unprovided death; it will teach thee to be always in readiness for judgment; it will keep thee out of hell, and bring thee to heaven



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5th July


On the certainty of death

Consider first, that there is nothing more certain than death, ‘It is appointed for all men once to die, and after that judgment,’ Heb. ix. 27. The sentence is general – it is pronounced upon all the children of Adam, Eccles. xli. 5. Neither riches, nor dignity, nor strength, nor wisdom, nor all the power of the world, can exempt any one from this common doom. From the first moment of our birth we are hastening towards our death; every moment brings us nearer to it. The day will come when we shall never see the night; or the night will come when the sun will rise no more to us. The day will most certainly come when thou, my soul, who art reading these lines, must bid a long farewell to this cheating world and to all thou hast admired therein, and even to thy own body, the individual companion of thy life, and take thy journey to another country, a strange and unknown land to thee, where all thou settest a value on here will appear like smoke. O learn then to despise all these perishable things, and to set thy heart on nothing, since all must be taken away by death.

Consider 2ndly, that death is not only certain, but generally speaking much nigher than we imagine. If ever we look upon death, ‘tis generally with the wrong end of the perspective glass, that removes the object to a greater distance, when indeed it is very near. We are apt to flatter ourselves, with the worldling in the gospel, Luke xii., with the expectation of many years’ enjoyment of our worldly goods and pleasures, and when we least of all expect it, we are called away; we must suddenly be gone. ‘Thou fool,’ saith our Lord, ‘this night do they require thy soul of thee, and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?’ Thousands are dying this very hour thoughout the world, and perhaps not one of them all but expected to have lived many more years. We daily hear of sudden deaths; we daily hear of young and strong people carried off by short sicknesses in the very flower of their age, and why will we deceive ourselves? why will we vainly imagine ourselves out of the reach of these arrows of death, that are falling so thick on all sides of us? ‘Ah! fool, why dost thou think to live long, when thou are not sure of one day?’ – Kempis.

Consider 3rdly, the wretched blindness and stupidity of mortals, that think so little of death, and live as if they were always to be here; and by this means expose themselves every day to the dreadful danger of dying in their sins. And yet, alas! all this while they cannot be ignorant that death is continually following them at their heels; they even carry it about with them in the frail composition of their mortal frame. All the things about them, by their continual fading, remind them of their mortality. They daily see or hear of deaths or burials, or meet with the monuments of the dead, who from their silent tombs cease not to admonish them, in the words of the wise man, Eccles. xxxviii., ‘Remember my judgment: for thine also shall be so; yesterday for me, and to-day for thee.’ O my soul, do thou at least give ear to this admonition; keep death always before thy eyes, and when it comes thou shalt have nothing to fear.

Conclude, since thou must quickly be gone from hence, to set thy house now in order, and to make all necessary provisions for that long journey which thou must shortly take; and ever strive to be such in life as thou desirest to be found in death.



6th July

On the uncertainty of the time and manner of our death

Consider first, that death is the passage from time to eternity. If we die well, it will be well with us for all eternity; but if we die ill, it will be ill with us for endless ages; so that upon this one moment of death depends a long eternity. But when shall this moment come? When shall we die? shall it be this night or to-morrow? Shall it be a week, a month, a year hence, &c.? Oh! of all this we know nothing at all, only that it will be when we least look for it. For our Lord has assured us, that he will come like a thief in the night; that is when we least think on it, Luke xii. And therefore he tells us we must always watch, and always be ready, for if we are surprised and die in our sins we are lost for ever.

Consider 2ndly, that we are not only wholly ignorant of the time of our death, but also of all other circumstances relating to it. We neither know the place where we shall die, nor the manner how we shall die; nor whether our death will be violent or natural, by fever or consumption, gentle or sharp, of quick despatch, or more lingering, at home or abroad, whether our last illness will deprive us of our senses or no; whether we shall have the assistance of our ghostly father, and the helps of the sacraments; what dispositions or souls will then be in; or what ability we shall then have to make proper use of those last moment upon which our all depends for eternity. Alas! all these things are quite hidden from us; no wit, no learning, no wisdom upon earth can help any man to the knowledge of any one of these things. O let this dreadful uncertainty of all the particulars that relate to our death determine us to live always in the expectation and preparation for death; that we may not have that great work to do at a time when we shall have no convenience or ability to do it.

Consider 3rdly, that death being so certain, and the time and manner of it uncertain, it would be no small satisfaction to a poor sinner if he could die more than once; that so, If he had the misfortune once to do ill, he might repair the fault, by taking more care a second time. But, alas! we can die but once, and when once we have set our foot within the gates of eternity, there is no coming back, and if it be a miserable eternity into which we have stept, there is no redemption; we pass from death to a second death, to the very extremity of misery, without end or remedy. O once; and can never try or practice beforehand! O my soul, see then thou take care to study well this important lesson by a continual preparation for death.

Conclude to make it the great business of thy life to learn to die well. Remember there is no security against an evil death but a good life; everything else leaves thee exposed to dreadful uncertainties.




7th July


On preparing for death

Consider first, that the preparing for death is a business of the utmost importance; it is the great business of life. We came into this world as pilgrims and travellers, to make the best of our way towards our true and everlasting home, a happy eternity. The great business of our whole life is to secure this happy eternity, and nothing else can secure it but a good death. This is the necessary gate, through which we must pass to eternal life – if we think of arriving at it by any other way, we shall miss the road. A good death then must be the study and business of our whole life; our whole life ought to be a preparation for it. Happy they who are continually preparing for it by a good life! Unhappy they who defer their preparation for their death-bed; and thereby put the issue of an eternity upon the poor chance of a death-bed performance!

Consider 2ndly, the great but general error of men, who promise themselves to do great things in point of devotion and contrition, when they are sick and like to die; and upon the confidence of this are often careless in preparing for death, during the time of their health. Alas! how strangely will they one day find themselves deceived! For if a small pain or indisposition be at any time enough to spoil all our devotion, what must a mortal illness be, when either the dullness and stupidity caused by the distemper, or the anguish of body and mind, scarce allow of any application at all of our thoughts to the greatest of all our concerns? O my soul, see thou suffer not thyself to be thus imposed upon. Do now all thou art able; prepare thyself now for thy last end, by daily and fervent acts of devotion and contrition; every night strive to put thyself in the condition in which thou desirest to be found at thy death; but never tempt God by designing to live in sin and then to die in grace, or by expecting, at thy death so extraordinary a miracle of grace, as to pass from being a slave all thy lifetime to sin and Satan, to thy loving God. No, God is not to be mocked in this manner.

Consider 3rdly, that the best manner of preparing for death is to die daily to our sinful inclinations and passions; to the love of the world, and of the flesh, and to our own unhappy self-love, the root of all other evils; and this by the means of a general mortification and self-denial. This is that great lesson, perpetually inculcated by the Son of God in the gospel, of leaving all to follow him, of disengaging our hearts from all things else, of renouncing our dearest affections for his sake, of denying and hating ourselves in this world, that so we may save our souls, and possess our God for ever in the world to come. O how sweet, how happy, how secure, shall our death be, if it finds us thus untied from the earth, and all earthly clogs! O how shall we then long for the wings of the dove, to fly away from this land of misery and sin, and to repose eternally in God!

Conclude to be ever preparing thyself for death, by refraining from all that thou wouldst then wish not to have done; and by living every day, and doing every work, as if it were to be the last of thy life, and thou shalt not fail to die happily.


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8th July

On the sentiments we shall have at the hour of our death

Consider first, how different judgment the soul will make of all things at the approach of death, from that which she is apt to make in life. O how shall the world then turn upside down before her eyes! Ah! my soul, how wilt thou then despise all worldly honours ad preferments, when thou shalt see thyself at the brink of the grave, where the worms shall make no distinction between the king and the beggar! How little account wilt thou then make of the praise, esteem, or love of men, who will now think no more of thee! How wilt thou then undervalue thy riches, when thou shalt see them slipping away from thee, and leave thee nothing but a coffin and a shroud! How contemptible will all worldly pleasures then appear in thy eyes, which at the best could never afford thee any true satisfaction, and now will show what they really are, and dissolve into smoke! O let us make the same judgment now concerning all these things as we shall do then! Let us weigh them all in these scales, and we shall not be cheated. For why should we set our affections upon such short-lived slippery toys? Why should we admit of a love that cannot stand the test of death?

Consider 2ndly, O my soul, what shall then be thy sentiments with regard to thy sins, of which perhaps thou hast hitherto made but small account? O how hideous, how odious will they begin to appear to thee, how numerous, how enormous – when the curtain shall begin to be withdrawn, with which thy busy self-love has industriously hidden them, or disguised the deformity and malice of them, and they shall be set before thy eyes in their true light – when that false conscience which thou hast framed to thyself, and under the cover of which thou hast passed over many things in thy confessions as slight and inconsiderable, which thou wast ashamed to declare or unwilling to forsake, shall no longer be able to maintain its ground, at the approach of death? O what anguish, what remorse, what dread, what confusion, what despair, will invade a poor dying sinner at the sight of this dreadful scene, of this army of his sins drawn up in battle-array against him! Ah! Christians, let us be wise in time, and prevent so great an evil by taking all such precautions now, with regard to our sins, as we shall certainly wish to have taken then.

Consider 3rdly, my soul, what thy sentiments will be at the time of thy death, with relation to the service of God, to virtue and devotion? O how lovely then shall the way of virtue appear to thee! O how wilt thou then wish to have always followed that charming path! But what shall thy sentiments be with regard to the value of grace? How bitterly shalt thou then regret the neglect of so many calls and invitations of thy gracious God; the loss of so many favourable opportunities of storing up eternal treasures, the squandering away so much of thy precious time, the misemploying of so many of God’s gifts and talents, the abuse of the sacraments, &c. Ah! how many great but disregarded truths shall then be unveiled to the sinner, against which he had shut his eyes before! How shall the false reasonings of the world, the delusions of his passions, and the subtilties of his self-love, together with the affected ignorance of such things as he had no mind to know, all forsake him at the approach of death and leave him in despondence at the time of his greatest distress?

Conclude to enter into those sentiments now, with regard to all these things, that shall stand by thee at the hour of thy death. For why shouldst thou any longer suffer thyself to be the dupe of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and give in to their impostures, with evident danger of the loss of thy immortal soul?




9th July


On the death of the just man

Consider first, these words of the royal prophet, Ps. cxv., ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.’ And reflect how true it is that the death of such as have served God in good earnest, is indeed both precious in the sight of God and edifying in the eyes of men, because of those happy dispositions with which they meet death, especially that faith and confidence which they have in the goodness and mercies of their heavenly father, and in the infinite merits of Jesus Christ their redeemer, and that perfect conformity to the divine will, accompanied with a profound humility, a deep sense of sorrow for sin, and an ardent love of God, with which they close their eyes and yield up their souls into their creator’s hands. O what a happiness it is for a dying man to be in these dispositions! With what willingness does such a Christian as this leave the world! What peace and tranquillity does he find in his soul from the testimony of a good conscience! How joyfully does he fling himself into the arms of his tender father, who, he is well assured, will never reject his loving children, that cast their whole care upon him! O ‘let my soul die the death of the just, and let my last end be like to theirs!’ Numb. xxiii. 10

Consider 2ndly, what a comfort it is to a good man, at the approach of death, to see himself now so near to the end of all his labours, of all the miseries of this wretched life, and of all those dangerous conflicts and temptations to which he has hitherto been exposed from those mortal enemies of his soul, the world, the flesh, and the devil; and to find himself just upon the point of being delivered from his long prison, from the body of this death, from the servitude of corruption, and from sin that surroundeth him on all sides in this vale of tears, and of being called home from his banishment to his true country, which he has always longed for. O what a satisfaction it is to a lover of God to see himself now at the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem, where he is to see, love,and enjoy his God for ever! What a pleasure to look forward into that blessed eternity into which he is just now entering; and to sing with the psalmist, Ps. cxxi. ‘I rejoice at the things that are said to me, we shall go into the house of the Lord,’ ‘O blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord, they shall praise thee for ever and ever.’ Ps. lxxxiii. To such souls as these, when they are near their death, those words of our divine Saviour are directed, Luke xxi. 28. ‘Look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand.’

Consider 3rdly, the particular providence of God in favour of his servants at their death, expressed by the prophet, Ps. xl. 4, in these words: ‘The Lord helps them upon the bed of their sorrow, he turns all their couch from them in their sickness.’ He restrains their enemy at that time, he mitigates their fears and apprehensions, he supports them under their pains and agonies, he encourages them against the terrors of death and judgment, he protects them in that critical hour under the shadow of his wings, that they may be able to say with the psalmist, Ps. xxii., ‘Though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils for thou are with me.’ In fine, he never forsakes them in death, who in their life have been faithful to him; but more particularly helps them then, when they stand most in need of his assistance, and when all the world besides forsakes them. O blessed be his goodness for ever!

Conclude, if thou desirest to die the death of the just, to live the life of the just, and to do the works of the just; for such as thy works are during life, such will thy death also be. ‘Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, they may rest from their labours, for their works follow them.’ Rev. xiv. 13. See then that thy works be such as may make thy life holy, and thy death will not fail to be happy.



10th July

On the death of the wicked

Consider first, that as nothing is more desirable than the death of the just man, by which he puts a happy conclusion to all the labours and miseries of that life which we are leading here below, and enters into the never-ending joys of the Lord; so on the other hand, nothing can be conceived more wretched, more dismal and deplorable than the death of the wicked. ‘The death of the wicked is very evil,’ saith the Holy Ghost, Ps xxxiii. 22. It is very evil indeed, as often as they are unexpectedly hurried away in their sins, and go down in a moment into hell; it is very evil also, as often as they die hard, and with little or no sense of God or eternity. But supposing neither the one nor the other to be the case, the death of the wicked is still every evil, from the torture of their conscience, from the sense of present misery, and the dreadful apprehensions of a miserable eternity; and whatever way they look, all things seem to conspire against them; to denounce the judgments of God to them, and to set before their eyes a dismal scene of woe. Ah, how feelingly do they now experience that of the Psalm (cxiv.) ‘The sorrow of death have compassed me, and the perils of death have found me!’

Consider 2ndly, more in particular, the principal ingredients of his bitter cup, which the wicked, who will not think of it during life, are so often constrained to drink of in death. And first the remembrance of their past sins, appearing now in quite other colours than they had represented them to themselves before; all staring them now in the face, in their most ugly shapes, and with their united forces making a vehement assault upon them, to push them down headlong into the bottomless pit of despair. O how gladly would the dying sinner rid himself now of this odious company! What would he not give to shake off from his breast this viper’s brood of his own offspring? But all in vain, they will not be shaken off. O how sensibly do they make him feel the gripes of their gnawing; not unlike those of that never-dying worm, which is one of the worst of the torments of hell! Then the remembrance of the races they have so long resisted; of the opportunities of good they have so often neglected; of the talents they have buried; of the time they have squandered way, (one hour of which they cannot now recall, though they would give ten thousand words for it); of their past abuses of the sacraments, of the Word of God, and of prayer these great means of salvation; and the little good they can find in their whole lives to put in the scales against so much evil, must add very much to their unspeakable anguish and distress, coming in upon them at this sad time, when they have so little presence of mind, so little leisure, opportunity or ability of doing anything themselves, and have too much reason to apprehend that God has forsaken them.

Consider 3rdly, what anguish it is also to the dying sinner to see himself violently torn away from all those things he had set his heart upon in this world. ‘O cruel death,’ shall he then say ‘dost thou make so bitter a separation?’ (I Sam. xv. 32.) What sad farewells will he be then constrained to bid to his honours, riches, pleasures, and all other worldly enjoyments; to his friends, kindred, house, and family, together with the whole world; and his own body too; in order to depart into an unknown country, and to take nothing with him thither but his works, which he would gladly leave behind him. O how does the sight of all about him, his wife, his children, and his worldly goods, which he has loved more than his God, now serve for nothing but to increase his misery? And if, to change the melancholy scene, he endeavours to divert his thoughts from the remembrance of his past extravagances and present miseries, and to look forward, he meets there with still more frightful objects, from the just apprehension of what will follow after death; what hands he shall fall into then, what a severe trial he must immediately go through; and what the sad consequence must be, if he be there cast. Alas! he sees himself just now launching forth with all his evil into eternity, an immense ocean, to whose further shore the poor sailor can never reach, and which he has too much reason to fear will be to him an eternity of woe.

Conclude to lead a virtuous life, and thou shalt have no share in this dismal scene of evils which attend the death of the wicked.