Today's contemplation


9th Sept.



Consider first, the words of the seventh beatitude: 'blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.' God's own abode is in eternal peace; and the heavenly Jerusalem is the vision and enjoyment of an undisturbed everlasting peace. They therefore that truly love peace, and as much as lies in them both keep it in themselves and with all others, and contribute all they can to make peace among such as are at variance with one another, and to bring all their neighbours to be at peace with God, are entitled to this beatitude, and to the glorious character of children of God. O how amiable is this spirit of peace! How blessed are its fruits! It is a paradise of the soul: it makes a kind of a heaven upon earth. O may this 'peace of God which surpasseth all understanding, keep both our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord!' Philip. iv. 7.

Consider 2ndly, the different ways there are of being peace-makers, with relation to our neighbours, with relation to ourselves, and with relation to God. 'Tis a blessed thing to bring our neighbours to peace and mutual charity; as 'it is an abomination in the sight of God, to sow discord among brethren.' Prov. vi. 19. 'Tis a more blessed thing to make peace at home in our own souls, by suppressing the rebellious disorders of our passions, by bringing the flesh under subjection to the spirit, the inferior art of the soul to the superior, and the superior to God. 'Tis the most blessed thing of all to bring both ourselves and as many others as we can to a constant and perfect peace with God, that he may reign without control in all our souls; that his kingdom may be perfectly established within us; that his holy will, his holy law, his grace, and his peace may live in us and with us for ever. O happy peace indeed, that unites us here to God by grace, and hereafter in eternal glory!

Consider 3rdly, the reward promised in this beatitude to the peace-makers: 'they shall be called the children of God.' O reflect, my soul, what a dignity here is to be the children of so great a king, even the king that made heaven and earth. 'Behold, what manner of charity,' said St. John, (1 John iii. 1.) 'the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called and should be the sons of God' Sons of God, even now by his grace, bearing a resemblance with his true Son, (who is styled in Scripture the Prince of Peace,) and as such in a particular manner loved, cherished, and protected by him here as a parent; and hereafter to be admitted to a more perfect likeness, union, and as it were, transformation into him, according to that of the same apostle, v.2: 'Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God, and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like unto him; because we shall see him as he is.' O Christians, what blessings both for time and eternity are prepared for the lovers and promoters of peace!

Conclude, my soul, to endeavour to be always a friend and a child of peace, and the peace of God shall always rest upon thee, Luke x. 6, and never leave thee, till it bring thee to the region of everlasting peace.



10th Sept.


On the means of preserving and maintaining the peace of the soul

Consider first, that it is of great advantage to the soul, both in order to defend her from all evil, and to advance her in all good, to keep herself always in peace within her own interior: because this inward peace, when it is true, brings along with it courage, strength and grace, by the favours which God always shows to the truly peaceable. Now, the first and most necessary means of the acquiring or preserving of this peace in the soul, must be to banish all wilful sin from the soul; for there can be no true peace where wilful sin resides. For no one can be at war with God and have any peace within himself, except it be that false peace, which is sometimes formed by an erroneous conscience, that shuts its eyes against God's light, that it may not be obliged to embrace his truth. O dear Jesus, never let me be so miserable as to be deluded by any such false peace, or ever to be a rebel to thy light!

Consider 2ndly, that the true peace of the soul is not to be acquired without subduing the passions and keeping them in order. For what peace can there be in the midst of daily storms, tumults, and rebellions, such as are raised by headstrong and untamed passions? What peace can there be for the slaves of pride and ambition, of avarice and worldly solicitude, of wrath and envy, &c.? Alas, all these and the like passions disturb and distract the soul, they put her in a ferment, they suffer her not to find any solid rest or tranquillity, or any manner of share in that calmness and evenness of soul, which those enjoy that are perfectly masters of themselves by the victory they have acquired over all their passions. O! how true it is that our peace and happiness, even here, is not to be found by yielding to our disorderly inclinations but by mortifying and overcoming them.

Consider 3rdly, that the way to acquire true peace, and true liberty of soul, is thus marked out by a servant of God (Following of Christ, L. 3. c. 23): 'endeavour, my son, rather to do the will of another than thy own: ever choose rather to have less than more; always seek the lowest place, and to be inferior to every one; always wish and pray that the will of God may be entirely fulfilled in thee. Behold such a man as this enters upon the coasts of peace and rest.' Whosoever will but observe these rules shall not easily be disquieted, but rather shall meet with a paradise of delights in his soul. And we shall find upon examination, that whenever we are disturbed 'tis because we have transgressed some or other of these rules; either by being too much bent upon our own will; or by the desire of having more, or of being higher; or at least by not being entirely resigned to the will of God.

Conclude to set out in quest of this happy way that leads to true peace, by giving up thy own desires, and ever embracing the holy will of God.



11th Sept.

On suffering persecution for justice sake

Consider first, these words of the eighth beatitude; 'Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' and again, 'Blessed are ye when men shall revile against you untruly, for my sake; be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven.' O how opposite is this gospel doctrine to all the sentiments of flesh and blood! Alas! we have naturally so little relish for such sufferings as these, that we are apt to pity all those, and look upon them as unhappy and miserable, that are exposed to such kinds of evils; and so far from rejoicing, when it is our own case, we are too often dejected and sorrowful. But surely we are in the wrong, since truth itself, that cannot be deceived, not only assures us that these sufferings are the way to be blessed, that is to be happy hereafter; but that even now, whilst we are actually suffering, we are in very deed happy, and blessed; and therefore he calls upon us to be glad and rejoice under the experience of those reputed evils, as being indeed real good in our regard, by the manifold fruits they produce, both in time and eternity.

Consider 2ndly, what these fruits are that proceed from suffering for Christ's sake, and for his justice. They are fruits of grace here and of glory hereafter. These kinds of sufferings wean the soul from the love of this world, and of all its empty toys, and shortlived enjoyments, and give her a longing desire after her true home, the happy region of truth and of life, the sight and enjoyment of her sovereign good. These sufferings entitle the soul to the sweet consolations of the Holy Ghost, which are usually bestowed more abundantly in proportion to the greatness of the sufferings; according to that of the psalmist, (Ps. xciii. 19), 'According to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, thy comforts have given joy to my soul.' These sufferings give the soul a relish for the cross, and a new kind of love for her crucified Saviour. These sufferings teach her humility, meekness, patience, conformity to the will of God, with all the other lessons that are to be learned in the school of the cross; besides the happy opportunity they afford the soul of discharging the debt of punishment due for former sins, by offering up to God, and bearing in a Christian manner, these present afflictions.

Consider 3rdly, that the principal fruits of these sufferings are reserved to be gathered in another life - according to that of the apostle, Rom. viii. 17, 18: 'If we suffer with Christ, we shall be glorified with him. For the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us.' And again, 2 Cor. iv. 17., 'Our present tribulation which is momentary and light, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory.' O look forward, my soul, into this immense eternity, and contemplate the infinite rewards that are there laid up to recompense our little sufferings here; and learn to be glad and rejoice in the experience of these small temporal afflictions; because these put thee in the true way to joys that shall never end: and the grater thy sufferings are here, the grater shall be these joys hereafter.

Conclude not to pretend to a life without sufferings, if thou hopest to live for ever with God: but then take care not to draw down these suffering upon thy head, by any crime; for this would not be suffering for justice sake. Give ear to St. Peter, 1 Pet. iv. 15, 16: 'Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or a railer, or a coveter of other men's things. But if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this name.'



12th Sept.



Consider first, that patience is a virtue by which we bear up with courage and constancy under a variety of evils, to which we are continually exposed in this mortal life; such as afflictions, exterior or interior, sicknesses, pains of body or mind, losses, disappointments, want, affronts, injuries, and their crosses of divers kinds, which more or less are incident to men in every station of life, and in every part of life, from the king to the beggar, and from our childhood to our decrepit age. Now, under all these evils, the good Christian is supported by the virtue of patience, in such a manner as neither to be over-much dejected, or cast down by any cross, accidents, or sufferings: nor upon these occasions to be put out of the road of virtue, or hindered from the love and service of God; but so as still to go on with courage in his way to heaven, carrying his cross after his redeemer, without murmuring or repining. O my soul, how lovely is this Christian patience! It has even the admirable property of turning all the evils of life into so many great and solid goods, by making them all serviceable to eternity: and in the mean time it makes them both light and easy, and sweetens all that is bitter in them, by seasoning them with the consideration of the holy will of God.

Consider 2ndly, how much this virtue of patience is recommended to us by the great example of the Son of God; who, as he was never free from suffering in any part of his life, so he both lived and died in the exercise of patience; and by his patience redeemed the world. Then all the saints and martyrs, as they had their share in drinking of his cup of sufferings, so they have all 'run with patience to the fight set before them; looking on Jesus, the author and finished of faith, who having joy set before him endured the cross,' Heb. xii. 1, 2. 'They all in life possessed their souls in their patience,' Luke xxi. 19. They all in death saved their souls by patience. 'Patience hath a perfect work,' saith St. James i. 4, 'that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing.' 'He that is patient,' saith the wise man, Prov. xiv. 29, 'is governed with much wisdom.' and again, Prov. xvi. 32, 'the patient man is better than the valiant, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh cities.' Patience then is the virtue of the martyrs and of all the saints; patience made them martyrs and saints; patience made them truly wise; patience gave them the victory over all their enemies; in their patience they brought forth much fruit; patience made them perfect; patience brought them to that incorruptible crown, which is given to none but those who by patience have lawfully strove for it, and won it. O blessed patience! Let me be so happy as to find thee, and embrace thee; let me live and die in thy company.

Consider 3rdly, the absolute necessity of patience in order to our serving God here, and saving our souls hereafter. 'Patience is necessary for you.' saith the apostle, Heb. x. 36, 'that doing the will of God, you may receive the promise.' For our life is a warfare upon earth; and in every part of life we must expect to meet with trials, conflicts, and sufferings. Now patience turns all these to our good; but where patience is wanting, all goes wrong; we sin at every step; we cowardly give up the cause of God and our souls, upon every slight occasion; we withdraw ourselves from the service, which we were happily engaged in; we run from our colours, we fall a prey to the enemy. O 'tis true that as there is no going to heaven but 'through many tribulations,' Acts xiv. 21, so there is no securing to ourselves that blessed kingdom, but by much patience.

Conclude to give ear to the admonitions of the Spirit of God, Ecclus. ii., 'Son, when thou comest to the service of God, stand in justice and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation. Humble thy heart, and endure - wait on God with patience; join thyself to God, and endure - 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.' Happy they that practise these lessons!

“Patience makes us valuable and keeps us for God. Patience tempers anger, controls the tongue, governs thoughts,
keeps peace, regulates the norms of life, breaks the onrush of concupiscence, represses the violence of pride, puts
out the fire of hatred... It makes us humble in prosperity, strong in adversity, meek under insults and injury. It teaches
us to forgive immediately those who commit transgressions and to pray long and hard for the person who is at fault.
Patience conquers temptations; it bears tribulations and martyrdoms to their end. It gives our faith the firmest
foundation; it sees that our hope grows to maturity. It directs our actions so that we stay in the path of Christ as
we advance with his help. Finally, it is what makes us persevere as children of God.” St. Cyprian


13th Sept.



Consider first, that patience, like all other good things, is not to be acquired by desiring, by seeking, by praying for it; but by desiring it earnestly, by seeking it diligently, by praying for it fervently. 'If any one wants this true wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all abundantly and it shall be given him; but let him ask in faith, nothing wavering,' St. James i. 5, 6. But how shall we heartily desire, seek, or pray for that which we have little or no esteem for? Wherefore, the first step towards acquiring patience is to study to know its true value, and the great treasures it brings along with it to the soul which is so happy as to find it. Now this knowledge must come by consideration, and meditation on the manifold fruit it produces, both for this world and the next: here, a complete victory over all our enemies, peace of soul, true liberty, and dominion over our passions, with an abundance of other graces; and hereafter, all those sublime rewards that are promised to the conquerors, Apoc. ii. and iii., 'To him that overcometh I will give to eat of the tree of life, that is in the paradise of my God' Apoc. ii. 7, 'He that shall overcome I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go out no more, and I will write upon him the name of my God,' &c., Apoc. iii. 12, 'and to him that shall overcome I will give to sit with me in my throne,' & c., verse 21.

Consider 2ndly, that in order to acquire patience it will be of great service to us, in all our afflictions, pains, or other sufferings, to reflect on these three points: first, upon what we have deserved by our sins, and how very little what we suffer is in comparison with what we ought to suffer if we had our deserts; 2ndly, upon the suffering the Son of God endured for our sins out of pure love for us, and the patience with which he endured them; 3rdly, on the holy will of God, who sends us these sufferings, and sends them for our greater good; who knows what is best for us,, and orders all things for the best if we leave ourselves to him. Ah! how vain it is for us to resist his mighty hand! How foolish and sinful not to submit to the dispositions of him, that is infinitely wise and infinitely good! See, my soul, what a large field for meditations is here opened to us in these three points! What motives for patience under all our sufferings!

Consider 3rdly, in order to be more in earnest in seeking to acquire the virtue of patience the manifold evils we are exposed to by impatience; in a long train of sins against God, against our neighbours, and against ourselves, which proceed from this unhappy source; murmurings and rebellions against God; uncharitable censures and rash judgments, perpetual animosities, quarrels, and desires or revenge against our neighbours; desires of our own death, through infinitely unfit for it, continual uneasiness with ourselves, desponding thoughts, and a strange sluggishness as to taking any pains for the salvation of the soul. Such are usually the wretched fruits of impatience; and what can be worse? Faith is lulled asleep, it is quite dead; hope is forgotten; the love of God and of our neighbours is lost; prayer is neglected; the care of the soul is flung away; and in the mean time the evils under which we labour, instead of being redressed, become more grievous and more intolerable by our impatient resistance of the holy will of God; we lose the benefit of our sufferings, and we forfeit all the comforts which God usually affords to patient sufferers. Ah! my soul, how does this impatience of ours make our sufferings resemble those of the damned, who suffer without merit and without comfort, resisting in vain the will of the Almighty?

Conclude to pray and to labour in earnest for acquiring the virtue of patience: it will make all thy sufferings light and easy and entitle them to an eternal reward. Whenever thou art visited with any cross, of what kind soever, always consider it as coming from the hand of God; presently accept of it, and offer it up to Jesus Christ crucified, to be united to his sufferings, to be sanctified through him, and accepted of by his Father for his own greater glory, and the remission of thy sins. O how happy shalt thou be if, under all thy sufferings, thou make this thy practice!



14th Sept.




Consider first, that on this day, upon occasion of the recovery of the cross of Christ out of the hands of infidels, and the triumphant setting it up again in its place in the church of Mount Calvary, the church of God celebrates the exaltation of him that died for us upon the cross, and his glorious triumph over sin and death, and over all the powers of hell and in consequence thereof the establishment of his kingdom, by which he reigns by grace at present in the souls of all his servants throughout the world, and shall reign in them for all eternity hereafter in glory. according to that of St. John xii. 31, 32, spoken with relation to his victory on the cross, 'Now is the judgment' (that is, the condemnation,) 'of the world, now shall the prince of this world' (the devil) 'be cast out.' 'And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.' Rejoice, O my soul, in the triumph of thy crucified king, and beg that he would establish his reign in thee, and draw up thy heart from this wretched earth and unite it for ever to himself.

Consider 2ndly, that the dispositions of a Christian, in order to celebrate in a proper manner the feast of the exaltation of the cross, ought to be suitable to the maxims of the cross, and to the dispositions of Christ crucified. Dispositions of standing off from the pride, ambition, avarice, and vanity of the world, condemned by the poverty and humility of the cross; as also from the love of sensual and worldly pleasures, condemned by the mortification of the cross. Dispositions of taking up our crosses and following our crucified king, even to the death of the cross. Dispositions of waging a perpetual war against that triple concupiscence, which separates worldlings from the cross of Christ, viz., the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; till dying to the world and to ourselves, we be lifted up with Christ from the earth; crucified to the world, and the world to us; and thus being entitled to a share in his exaltation and triumphs. But, O my soul, how unfit are we to celebrate the victories of our crucified king over death, sin, and hell; whilst we by pride, self-love, and the love of the world wilfully remain slaves to those same enemies, whose usurpation he sought to abolish by his death!

Consider 3rdly, the sentiments of St. Paul with relation to the cross of Christ, Gal. ii. 19, 20, 'With Christ I am nailed to the cross.' 'And I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me; who loved me and delivered himself for me.' Chap. vi. 14: 'God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world!' He tells the Corinthians, 1 Cor. ii. 2, 'that he judged not himself to know anything among them but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.' and chap. i. 23, 24, that he preached nothing but 'Christ crucified a stumbling-block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles; but to the true believers the power of God, and the wisdom of God.' He proposes his own conduct as a model to the Philippians, Philip. iii. 17, 18, and warns them with tears, against all sensual and earthly-minded Christians, whom he calls enemies of the cross of Christ. Oh, how high was the cross of Christ exalted in the heart of the apostle! It reigned there without control. And as it was exalted in him by love and esteem, so it exalted him here to the glorious fellowship of the sufferings of Christ crucified; and hereafter to that eternal kingdom which our Lord has purchased by his cross, for all the true friends and followers of the cross. O how happy are all they, that, like the apostle, are sincere lovers of the cross of Christ!

Conclude for thy own practice to honour the triumphs of thy crucified king, by planting thyself at the foot of his cross, and there constantly attend to him, and study well the lessons he teaches thee from his cross, and enter into all his sentiments. He will teach thee to submit to thy crosses with patience, to undergo them with cheerfulness, yea, to embrace them with joy. He will undeceive thee, with regard to the false maxims of worldly pride, of the love of riches, and of sensual pleasures; and from his cross will preach to thee his truths, and discover to thee the lovely charms that are found in humility, poverty of spirit, contempt of the world, and mortification of the flesh. His cross is the school in which he will teach thee all good, and from which he will not cease to communicate to thee all grace, till at length he draws thee to himself, and makes thee his own for ever.



15th Sept.


Consider first, that 'tis a most certain truth, an article of faith which no Christian can be allowed to doubt that the great God who made us all, the eternal, incomprehensible, infinite majesty, in whose comparison the whole creation is a mere nothing, is everywhere present, is truly and really in every place, and in every being; so that wheresoever we are, and wheresoever we go, God is there, and is there with all his divine attributes the whole deity, the whole blessed trinity is there. 'Shall a man be hid in secret places, and I not see him saith the Lord' 'Do not I fill heaven and earth saith the Lord?' Jeremias xxiii. 24. And Ps. cxxxviii; 'whither shall I go from thy spirit?' 'Or whither shall I flee from thy face? If I ascend up into heaven thou art there: if I descend into hell thou are there,' & c. And do all Christians know this truth and yet dare to sin? Alas! they cannot here justly plead ignorance; because 'tis one of the first things they have been taught from their very childhood. But their misery is, they think so little of God or his divine presence, that they quite forget it: so that we may say to them, with regard to the presence of God, what St John Baptist said to the Jews, with regard to their Messiah, (St. John i. 26,) 'there hath stood one in the midst of you, whom you know not.' O how little indeed is this great God known, even by too many that call themselves Christians!

Consider 2ndly, that God being everywhere present is witness to all our thoughts, words, and actions; he sees and hears all that passes; nothing can be concealed from him; no not even the most secret motions and dispositions of the soul. 'He is the searcher of the reins and hearts,' Apoc. ii. 23, 'reaching to the division of the soul and of the spirit, and is a discerner of the thoughts, and of the intents of the hearts; neither is there any creature invisible in his sight, but all things are naked, and open to his eyes.' Heb. iv. 12, 13. 'Tis in vain then for the sinner to flatter himself, like the libertine, mentioned by the wise man, Ecclus. xxiii. 25, & c., that saith, 'who seeth me?' 'Darkness compasseth me about, and the walls cover me, and no man seeeth me.' 'Whom do I fear?' And in the mean time he considereth not that darkness and light are alike to the Lord, (Ps. cxxxviii. 12,) and that his 'eyes are far brighter than the sun beholding round about all the ways of men, and the bottom of the deep, and looking into their hearts, into the most secret parts.' O that men would always remember these great truths!

Consider 3rdly, that God is not only really present with us, in every place, and sees all that passes, but is really present within us, fills our whole soul, and is more truly, perfectly, and intimately in the very centre of the soul, giving, preserving, and maintaining its very life and being, than the soul is in the body which it animates, and to which it gives life and motion he is the life of all lives, and the being of all beings, and were he to withdraw his presence through it were but for a moment, from any being whatsoever, in that moment it would cease to be, and would return to its ancient nothing. 'In him we live, and move, and be,' saith the apostle, Acts xvii. 28. So that we are not only encompassed with the Deity on all sides, as the birds are with the air in which they fly, or the fishes with the waters of the ocean, but are in such manner penetrated by him, that he fills every part of our being with his whole self, so that it is strictly and literally true, that we are always in him and he in us. What an aggravation then must it be to the guilt of all our sins, that they not only are committed against God, and before his own eyes, but are committed in God himself, in whom we lie, move, and be?

Conclude by regretting thy having thought so little hitherto of the presence of God; by which he is both in all places and in all things, and more especially in the midst of thyself. Resolve to have this truth ever before thy eyes for the time thou hast yet to come. O let us strive, my soul, to be always with him, who is always with us.



16th Sept.


On the exercise of the presence of God

Consider first, that a lively sense of the presence of God is a sovereign means to banish sin from the world; to bring the worst of sinners back to God; to spur on the lukewarm, and to make them fervent, and to advance the just in all virtues, till it bring them to perfection - according to that which God spoke to his servant Abraham, Gen. xvii. 1, 'Walk before me, and be perfect,' as if he should have said, in all thy conversation and in every step thou shalt take in thy mortal pilgrimage, keep thyself in my presence, by the remembrance of me, and thou shalt be perfect in all virtue. This holy patriarch and all the ancient fathers observed this lesson, of whom it is written, that they 'walked in the sight of God,' Gen. xlviii. 15. The psalmist practised the same, Ps. xvi. 8, 'I set the Lord,' saith he, 'always in my sight;' and he calls upon all others to do the like, Ps. civ. 4, 'Seek ye the Lord, and be strengthened: seek his face' (that is his presence) 'always.' This same has ever been the practice of all the saints: yea, 'tis this has made them saints.

Consider 2ndly, that this exercise of the presence of God is to be performed, partly by the understanding, and partly by the will; for, as the blessed in heaven are eternally employed about God, partly by the contemplation and vision of him, which belong to the understanding, and partly by love and fruition, which belong to the will; and by this means they are eternally happy in the enjoyment of this sovereign and infinite good, and eternally united both by will and understanding, to the source of all happiness: so the souls of God's servants here upon earth ought, in both these ways, to apply themselves to God, and to be employed about him; and this is done by the exercise of his divine presence, which employs the understanding in the thought and remembrance of him, by means of a lively faith and sense of his being always with us, and within us; and entertains the will, that is the heart and the affection, with him by continually turning it towards him by aspirations of love, by oblations of our whole being to him, and by longing desires after the embraces of him, and an eternal union with him. O how happy is this exercise of the presence of God, which by a perpetual application of all the powers of the soul to God, in some measure anticipates the immortal joys of heaven.

Consider 3rdly, that in order to learn and practise this heavenly exercise of the presence of God, we must rid our souls of three mortal enemies to this devotion - which are a dissipation of mind; an anxious solicitude for the things of this world; and a disorderly affection to creatures. Where these three, or any one of the three reign in the soul, God is usually forgotten. A dissipation of thought carries the soul from home, to run after the multitude of vain amusements where she loses the remembrance both of herself and of her God. Worldly solicitude chokes all better thoughts, and suffers them not to take root in the soul. And the disorderly affections of the heart to any things out of God, turn away thy heart from God. In order then to practise this necessary attention to the presence of God, we must banish dissipation by recollection of thought, we must overcome worldly solicitude, by faith and confidence in God and by conformity in all things, with his blessed will; and we must correct the irregularity of our affections by turning them from the creature to God.

Conclude to guard against these enemies by setting a watch both upon the roving imagination, which is ever fond of running after butterflies, and thy unwary heart, that is so easily taken in the nets of wanton love or other idle, vain, and worldly affections, and to accustom all the powers of thy soul to be employed about thy God, who is to make thee happy for eternity.



17th Sept

Spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius

On the advantages of the exercise of the Presence of God

Consider first, that as the forgetting of God is the source of all sins, so the remembrance of his divine presence is the source of all our good - 'tis of infinite advantage both to sinners and to saints; it is a sovereign and universal remedy for overcoming all sorts of temptations, by its placing the soul near the source of all light and grace, and hiding her as it were under the divine wings; and it is putting at the same time a most powerful and effectual restraint upon her from daring to offend that tremendous majesty. For who shall dare by sin to commit high treason against God who sees God before him, and himself surrounded with God? Or who shall dare to affront the divine justice who has a lively sense of its being so very near him, and that it stands always turned against wilful sinners? O, 'tis true that the consideration of the eye of God being always upon us has obliged the most abandoned sinners to put a stop at once to their wicked ways, and to betake themselves to a life of penance. It was the case of the famous Thais, who, upon this consideration, suddenly determined to quit both her sins and the world, and to withdraw herself into the remotest parts of the desert, where, shut up in a lonesome cell, she spent the remainder of her days in weeping and doing penance for her sins.

Consider 2ndly, that a lively sense of the presence of God excites us also to perform all our works with due perfection, in order to please him, whose eye is always upon us; as the master's eye makes the servant more diligent. It helps to purity our intention in all things by drawing it to God. It cures our lukewarmness; it dissipates our distractions; it teaches us to pray; it makes us fervent in all our addresses to the divine majesty; it keeps us humble on all occasions, and perfectly annihilates the soul, seeing herself placed so near to so great a God. And as the soul that has a due sense of the presence of God knows that wheresoever he is he has all his attributes with him - his almighty power, his infinite wisdom, goodness, and mercy, his perpetual providence and loving kindness for his children, together with all the treasures of his divine grace: such a soul as this finds in the thoughts of God's presence a source of unspeakable comfort in all her tribulations, of counsel in all her doubts, of succour in all her necessities, and a continual attraction to the love of him. O how easy must it be to a saint with such helps as these. Now all these graces and more are laid up for thee, my soul, if thou wilt duly exercise thyself in the presence of God.

Consider 3rdly, the practical inferences we ought to make from our faith of the presence of God; that is, what we are bound to do in consequence of our believing that God is everywhere with us, and in us: 1. God's being everywhere requires of us that we should everywhere take notice of his presence. For can there be an object more worthy of our attention? And will he not then be justly offended if, while we amuse ourselves about every trifle that comes in our way, we let our God, the sovereign beauty and the sovereign good, pass unregarded? 2. God being everywhere present requires of us both a modest comportment on all occasions as to our exterior: 'Let your modesty,' says St. Paul, (Philip. iv. 5,) 'be known to all men, the Lord is nigh;' and a most profound respect as to our interior, considering that infinite majesty in whose sight we stand. 3. God being everywhere present, everywhere requires our love; for wherever we are we have him with us, who is infinitely lovely and infinitely loving; infinitely good in himself and infinitely good to us; and therefore, wherever we are he challenges our love. O turn thyself then, my soul, from all these earthly toys to this thy sovereign good, which is so near to thee; run to his embraces and dedicate thyself entirely to his divine love.

Conclude never to regret thy being alone since thou hast always in thy company that great God, the sight and enjoyment of whom is the eternal felicity of the angels. No company can be more honourable, none more advantageous, since thou hast here the inexhausted source of all good. His conversation is most delightful; the sweetest repose is to be found in him; all other recreations are vain if compared with this.



18th Sept.



Consider first, that obedience is a virtue which teaches us readily to embrace and diligently to put in execution whatever is commanded us, either immediately by God himself, or by our lawful superiors, who have their authority from God, and whom he wills and commands us to submit to as to himself, and to obey for his sake, 1 Peter ii. 13. This virtue, like humility, her mother, is the special favourite of heaven, as God has abundantly declared, by preferring on many occasions our obedience before all other sacrifices we can offer him. 'Doth the Lord desire holocausts and victims,' said Samuel to Saul, 1 Sam. xv. 22, 23, 'and not rather that his voice should be obeyed? For obedience is better than sacrifice, and to hearken rather than to offer the fat of rams; because it is like the sin of witchcraft to rebel, and like the crime of idolatry to refuse to obey,' viz., inasmuch as disobedience gives away from God and makes over to his enemy the best offering our poor stock can afford - that is, our will: now, our will he chiefly calls for, and whatsoever else we give him it is all nothing as long as we refuse to give him our will by obedience. The sacrifice of our hearts he calls for, and not for that of our flocks, or of any other things we can give him, without obedience.

Consider 2ndly, how precious in the sight of God this virtue of obedience must be, since he singled it out amongst all virtues, to be the proper exercise of our first parents, immediately upon their creation in the earthly paradise; that by the acts of it they might acknowledge their dependence on their creator, show their inviolable fidelity to him, and merit, by their perseverance in obedience, an eternal union with him. The happiness or misery, both of them and of all their posterity, that is of all mankind, both for time and eternity, was to be determined by their obedience or disobedience. But O the dismal train of evils they have entailed upon us all, by withdrawing their necks from the sweet yoke of obedience! - evils that must have been without remedy for eternity, had not the obedience of the second Adam stept in to cancel the disobedience of the first Adam: according to that of the apostle, Rom. v. 19, 'As by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many shall be made just.' The disobedience of the first parents of our flesh involved us all in sin; the obedience of the true parent of our spirit has purchased all mercy, grace, and salvation for our souls. But all this good purchased for us by the obedience to him, who because 'the cause of eternal salvation to all that obey him,' Heb. v. 9.

Consider 3rdly, that all such as have pleased God from the beginning, have all been eminent in the virtue of obedience. This joined with faith made Abraham the favourite of God, and procured for him that all generations should be blessed in his seed. This was the virtue of all the patriarchs and prophets, and of all the saints of God. 'Rather to die than not to obey,' was the general maxim of all the saints. But the great pattern of obedience was the Saint of saints, whose whole life, from the first instant of his conception till his expiring upon the cross, was one continued exercise of the most consummate obedience. All the thoughts, words, and actions of his mortal life were the fruits of obedience: they were all levelled at doing his Father's will and obeying his commandments. 'I came down from heaven,' says he, John vi. 38, 'not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, that I may perfect his work,' John iv. 34. 'I seek not my own will, but the will of him that sent me,' John v. 30. 'I lay down my life of myself, and I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father,' John x. 18. 'I have not spoken of myself, but the Father who sent me, he gave me commandment what I should say, and what I should speak,' & c., John xii. 49. 'He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,' Philip. ii. 8, that we might enter into the like sentiments of perpetual obedience and humility, (verse 5). and shall not this great example of the Son of God himself, inspire us with an ardent desire of living and dying in the arms of obedience?

Conclude if thou desirest to please God, to offer him continually the sacrifice of thy heart, will, and liberty, by perfect obedience to God himself, for his own sake, 'and to every human creature for God's sake,' 1 Pet. ii. 13, that is, to all that have authority from God over thee, whether in church or in state. In obeying them, thou obeyest God, Luke x. 16; in resisting them, thou 'resistest the ordinance of God to thy own damnation,' Rom. xiii. 2.



19th Sept.

St. Joseph Calasanz


Consider first, that one of the deepest wounds sin has left in the soul of man is a love of independence; a desire of being his own master; and of living, and acting, according to his own inclinations, without being controlled by rule, or law, or by the will of any other. Ah! here is the seat of pride, the throne of self-love, and the source of all the worst of our passions. Now the virtue that heals this wound is holy obedience, which strikes at the root of all these evils; inasmuch as it cast down that pride which always affects liberty and independence; drives self-love out of all its intrenchments; keeps all the passions under, by obliging them all to submit to the will and law of God, and to the command of every vicegerent of his; and ceases not till it has bound up that tyrant self-will, and laid him as a holocaust, to burn and evaporate on the altar of God. And are not these, my soul, most admirable fruits, which this blessed obedience produces, by a resolute subjection of our own will to the will of God, and to every lawful superior for God's sake?

Consider 2ndly, what mischief is continually produced in the soul by self-will wherever it reigns, to the end thou mayest set a greater value upon the virtue of obedience, which gets the victory over this hellish monster, the source of all our vices. Give ear to St. Bernard (Serm. 3 de Resurrect.), 'Self-will,' says he, 'is a perpetual enemy to God; it wages a most cruel war against him. What does God hate? What does he punish at any time but self-will: take away self-will, and there shall be no hell: for what is there that raging fire can take hold on but self-will? This fury attacks the Lord of majesty; it withdraws itself from his command, making itself its own master; and as much as lies in it, it robs him of all that is his.' He adds, that it sets no bounds to its pretensions, that 'the whole creation cannot satisfy its demands, that it sets itself up in opposition to the creator himself.' Yes, Christians, but this is not all: where this monster reigns it does not only fill the soul with all kinds of evils; it even blasts and corrupts the very best of her actions: inasmuch that where a man does not strive to overcome himself, and to subdue self-will, his virtue will be found to be false and counterfeit, and all his labours in the service of God or his neighbours useless and fruitless, as being only the productions of his own humour, his pride, and self-love; and not done for God. See then, my soul, how much it imports thee to get rid of this self-will, this mother of all mischief; and to acquire a perfect victory over it by the virtue of obedience.

Consider 3rdly, the other manifold blessings that attend the true children of obedience, as fruits of this excellent tree. A life of perpetual obedience is a perpetual victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil: according to that of the wise man, Prov. xxi. 28, 'an obedient man shall speak of victory: whereas the disobedient man is a slave to these enemies.' Obedience is a perpetual sacrifice, like a whole burnt-offering, by which a man offers his will and all its offspring to God. 'Tis a daily growing store of virtue and merit; it gives a double value to all our good actions, and consecrates the most indifferent, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, & c., and makes them highly acceptable in the sight of God. It leads us directly to God, and clearly points out to us, in everything, his holy will, the unerring rule of all our good. In fine, it brings the soul to a secure and sweet peace of mind, and to a certain paradise of contentment and joy in the Lord, and in the accomplishment of his blessed will: because the more the soul seeks and loves, follows and embraces by means of holy obedience, this divine will of her God, the more she relishes his sweetness; the more confidently she flings herself into his arms - and the more securely she leaves herself and all things else to his disposal, and commits all her pretensions and interest to him. O how truly wise then are all they that embrace with their whole souls this sweet yoke of obedience! They are walking in the royal highway that leads to peace here, and to heavenly bliss hereafter.

Conclude to set a great value upon this virtue of obedience, as the eldest daughter of humility, and the nursing mother of all other virtues. In every station of life obey them to whom God has given any authority over you, as God himself: 'tis his will you should do so, and he has never shown more remarkable judgments than upon those who have refused to obey the authority established by him. The Son of God, during his whole life, was not only obedient to his Father, but also to his own creatures, to the blessed Virgin, to St. Joseph, to every one in authority, and even to his very executioners. O let us learn to imitate him.


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20th Sept.


Consider first, that there is no salvation for us, without keeping the ten commandments. They are a short abstract of that natural and eternal law, which was imprinted in the heart of man from the beginning, before the written law was delivered to the people of God. They were published by the Almighty, in a most solemn manner, from Mount Sinai, in the Old Testament; and confirmed by the Son of God in the New Testament; declaring the observance of them to be a necessary condition to everlasting life. 'If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,' Matt. xix. 17. The keeping of these he will have to be the test and proof of our love of him 'if you love me, keep my commandments,' John xiv. 15. and his beloved disciple assures us (1 John ii. 4,) that 'he that saith he knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But he that keepeth his commandments abideth in him, and he in him,' chap. iii. 24. See then, my soul, that the most necessary of all devotions is to dedicate thyself to the love and observance of the commandments of God: no devotion can bring thee to God without this. This is that instrument with ten strings, so often recommended by the psalmist, which makes a most agreeable harmony in the ears of his divine majesty.

Consider 2ndly, the happiness, of every kind, that always accompanies the keeping of God's holy law and commandments; as the same royal prophet witnesses in many places, particularly in Ps. cxviii., which is full of testimonies to this effect. And in Ps. xviii, 'The law of the Lord,' saith he, 'is unspotted, converting souls: the testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones; the justices of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts; the commandment of the Lord is lightsome, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is holy, enduring for ever and ever: the judgments of the Lord are true, justified in themselves: more to be desired than gold and many precious stones, and sweeter than honey and the honey-comb. For thy servant keepeth them, and in keeping them there is great reward.' What encomiums are here heaped one upon another, of the law and commandments of God, under different denominations, and of the excellent fruits that grow from the observance of them! 1. The law of God is beautiful and pure, without spot, or blemish; and it has a wonderful efficacy to turn the soul from sin to God. 2. It is faithful to what it proposes and promises, and imparts the truest of all wisdom to little ones, that is to the humble, who willingly submit their necks to its sweet yoke. 3. It is right in every tittle, agreeable to the sovereign reason, and carries with it joy to the hearts that embrace it. 4. It is full of spiritual light, to enlighten the inward eyes of the soul with divine truths. 5. It is most holy in itself, and comes from the fountain of all holiness, and makes all them holy that observe it; and endures with them for ever and ever. 6. It is true and just, as being given by the eternal truth and justice, and justifies itself by its own evidence. 7. It is more amiable and desirable than all the treasures of the universe; and more sweet and delightful than anything this world can afford by reason of the spiritual riches of virtue, grace, and merit; and the manifold consolations and inward pleasures the observance of it brings to the soul; besides the reward hereafter, which is incomprehensible and eternal.

Consider 3rdly, that the observance of the commandments of God is not only essentially necessary to salvation and every way admirable in the fruits it produces, both for this world and the next, but is indeed very sweet, and easy to men of good will. Our Lord assures us, St. Matt. xi. 30, 'that his yoke is sweet, and his burthen light:' and that instead of oppressing us with its weight, it brings refreshment and rest to our soul. and St. John (1 John x. 3) tells us, 'that this is indeed the charity, or love of God, that we keep his commandments, and that his commandments are not heavy.' Love makes all things easy that are done for the sake of the beloved; and therefore the true lover of God finds no labour in the keeping his commandments: the grace of God makes them all sweet and agreeable to him. O teach us, dear Lord, to love thee, and command what thou pleasest: thy grace will make all things easy and pleasant that are to be done or suffered for the love of thee.

Conclude t
o seek thy happiness, both for time and eternity, in the observance of the law and commandments of God. Nothing else can ever make thee happy. Give ear to the apostle, Rom. ii. 9, 10: 'Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil - but glory, honour, and peace to every one that worketh good.'



21st Sept.


Consider first, the wonders of divine grace on the call and conversion of St. Matthew - changed on a sudden, from a worldling, a publican, and a sinner, to be an individual companion and disciple of Christ; and not long after advanced to be an apostle, a pillar in Christ's church, a preacher, powerful in word and work: a worker of wonderful miracles, a father and converter of nations: an evangelist, or writer of the gospel; and, in a word, a most eminent saint. O! glorify God, who has wrought all these wonders, to manifest to all generations his infinite power, mercy, and goodness; and learn from this example never to despair of the conversion of any one, how remote soever he may seem to be at present from following Christ. The arm of God is not shortened: his power, mercy, and goodness are as infinite now as ever; he is equally both able and willing to call poor sinners, and to convert them to himself. But, alas! our misfortune is, we are not so ready as Matthew was, to attend to his heavenly calls, and to correspond with his inspirations and graces; we prefer the sitting still in the custom-house of the world, entangled in many vain and sinful affections to empty earthly toys; before the rising up without delay to follow Christ who calls us to him. O how pernicious are all those affections, which keep us from Christ?

Consider 2ndly, the lessons St. Matthew gives us in his conversion. 1. By his immediately rising up at the first call, to correspond with his whole heart with the grace of God. How often have we been called to be disciples of Christ? And have we ever yet followed the call in good earnest? This 'follow thou me,' with which our Lord called Matthew, is indeed addressed by him to all Christians; inasmuch as we are all called to be his followers: for the very name of Christian implies as much as followers of Christ: and yet how few are there of those that call themselves Christians who truly follow in their lives either the doctrine, or the example of Christ! Our Lord was passing by when he called Matthew, and very probably, had that call been neglected, he might not have favoured him with the like grace another time. What obligations then have we to his bounty and mercy, for his repeated calls to us! But what have we not to apprehend, if we continue to abuse his graces by refusing to correspond with his calls! 2. St. Mathew left all to follow Christ; quitting his worldly business, upon which his livelihood depended, and whatsoever else he seemed to possess in this world. Christ does not call to us to quit the business of our lawful callings, nor to give up at once all our worldly goods, but he insists upon our taking off our hearts from all these things, and our parting with every affection that would keep us from him. He expects we should follow him, not so much by our bodily steps, as by giving him the chief place in our affections, which are as it were the seat of the soul.

Consider 3rdly, that St. Matthew, immediately upon his conversion, made a feast for our Saviour in his house, at which many publicans and sinners were present, who also followed our Lord, St. Mark ii. 15. See the force of good example, and how one perfect conversion draws many others after it. This conversion of souls was a more agreeable feast to the divine charity of our redeemer than any other entertainment St. Matthew could make for him. Christians, reflect that the Son of God expects also to feast himself with you, and to be entertained by you. 'Behold,' says he, Apocalypse iii. 20, 'I stand at the gate and knock; if any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.' We entertain Christ by inviting him into our inward house, and keeping ourselves at home with him by recollection and mental prayer; we feast him by giving him our hearts, by love, by frequent and fervent oblations of all the powers of our souls and of our whole being to him; and he feast us in return, by giving himself to us. O happy feast indeed, which is in some measure a foretaste of the eternal banquet of heaven!

Conclude to imitate St. Matthew by a ready compliance with all the divine calls and inspirations; and by not suffering thyself to be kept from following Christ with thy whole soul, either by the world, or by any of its painted toys and cobwebs. Let thy example serve to draw others to him; and let the door of thy inward house be ever opened to him to entertain him, but kept close shut to all his enemies, thy vicious and irregular affections.



22nd Sept.


On the worship of God enjoined by the First Commandment

Consider first, that preface to the ten commandments, delivered Exodus xx. 2, 'I am the Lord thy God,' who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.' and learn from thence who it is that enjoins these commandments; by what authority; and what urgent motives we have to oblige us to obey his law. It is the Lord himself, who is our lawgiver, the eternal, immense, infinite deity; the great creator of heaven and earth; who made us and all things, our God, our first beginning and our last end. And who shall dare refuse his commandments, or question his authority, or any of the manifold titles he has to our obedience? In these words he particularly inculcated the obligation the people of Israel had to keep his commandments, because he had delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt; how much more pressing motives have we Christians to oblige us to a strict observance of all his divine laws, because we have been redeemed by him from a slavery infinitely worse than that of Egypt, viz., the slavery of Satan, sin, and hell, and that by the precious blood of his only Son?

Consider 2ndly, that those words, 'I am the Lord thy God,' though not expressed in the form of a command, insinuate nevertheless the whole duty of man with regard to his God; by which he is bound to worship him, 1st, by faith, which bows down and adores God's truth; brings into captivity every understanding to the obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. x. 5, and cast down every proud thought or imagination that raiseth itself up against his divine word. 2ndly, by hope, which worships the almighty power, the infinite goodness and mercy of God, through Jesus Christ, and the veracity of all his divine promises, by a firm and constant reliance upon him, by building entirely on this rock, and fastening the anchor of the soul in him. 3rdly, by divine charity, by which we offer to God the sacrifice of our heart, which he chiefly calls for, by loving him in all things, and above all things. 4thly, by the virtue of religion, which considering God as our first beginning and our last end, daily worships him in spirit and truth, by adoration, praise, and thanksgiving; by an oblation of ourselves to his holy will, and of all things else to his glory; by joining in the offering of the great sacrifice of the death and passion of his Son; and by frequent and fervent prayer. See, my soul, thou never neglect any part of this Christian worship which thy God expects at thy hand.

Consider 3rdly, that by this commandment, 'Thou shalt not have strange gods before me,' we are not only called upon to turn away from all false gods to the true and living God, and to renounce all that kind of ungodliness, which may any way corrupt his worship with superstition or error, but also to make it the great business of our lives to be truly godly, by a serious application of our whole souls to the love and service of our maker. For what will it avail to know God, if we do not glorify him as God, nor serve him? Will not this be detaining the truth of God in injustice? Rom. i. 6. The great end of our creation was to glorify God, and to dedicate our whole lives to his service - we have, properly speaking, no other business upon earth; if we discharge ourselves well of this great duty, we are truly godly, and fulfil the first commandment. But alas! how many thousands are there that call themselves Christians, who live and die in a notorious breach of this great commandment, by neglecting and forgetting their God, and giving to everything else the preference before him and his service!

Conclude to have always before thy eyes the worship thou owest to thy God by this first commandment; and in consequence of it, to consecrate the days of thy pilgrimage to his divine love and service. This is the whole duty of man.



23rd Sept.


On the prohibition of Idol Worship

Consider first, that the making or worshipping of any idol is also forbidden by this divine commandment, by which name is understood any image or other thing that is set up to be served or honoured as God, or with any part of divine honour. Because our God is a jealous God, and will not allow his honour to be given to any other. As to that kind of idolatry which consists in the setting up of stocks and stones, there is no great danger of Christians incurring any such guilt as this: because, as it was long ago foretold by the prophets, (Isaia ii. 18, & c.,) that kind of idol worship has for many ages been abolished in all nations where Christianity has been preached by the apostles and their successors, the pastors and teachers of the Catholic church. The idols that are more to be apprehended in these our days are of another kind, viz., those of wicked imaginations, errors, and heresies; framed not by the hands, but by the heads of proud, self-conceited men, deluded themselves, and seeking to delude as many others as they can, with the inventions of their own brain or the suggestions of Satan, which they set up and worship for divine truths, and father upon the word of God, in spite of the church of God and its authority, so strongly established and recommended by that divine word. Ah! Christians, beware of ever making to yourselves or bowing down yourselves to any such idols as these. But let the truth of God, promised you by the church of God, be ever the object and rule of your faith and worship.

Consider 2ndly, the danger of another kind of idols, formed not by the brain, but by the disorderly affections of the heart, which too many, who call themselves Christians, daily prefer before the living God, and set up in opposition to him in his very sanctuary, that is in the temple of their own souls, which at their baptism was consecrated to God. 'Tis the case of all the proud and ambitions, who make idols of their worldly honours: 'tis the case of all the worshippers of Mammon, the great god of worldlings, and of all the lovers of pleasure more than of God. All these in the language of St. Paul are idolaters, because they all 'worship and serve the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed for ever,' Rom. i. 25. And thou, my soul, hast thou no share in this kind of idolatry? Are there no idols of this sort set up in thy inward house, to confront the living God? Is there no predominant passion or affection there which takes the place of God, by drawing thee to offend him? Alas, how often have the very meanest of worldly toys and vanities been preferred by thee before him! And as to that idol self, the continual object of the worship of self-love and self-will, art thou not daily sacrificing thy God and all things else to this insatiable monster? 'Tis well if thou art not.

Consider 3rdly, that not only direct idolatry, but also all superstition, is forbidden by the first commandment. of this crime all those, in the first place, are highly guilty who seek any knowledge or cure, help or assistance, from the enemy of God and man, by making use of any such instruments or means as can have no effect of their own nature, or any otherwise than by his interposition. For in all these cases, there is a correspondence kept up, and a secret compact made with Satan or his agents, and consequently a high treason committed against the divine majesty. 2ndly, the guilt of superstition is likewise incurred by the observance of lucky and unlucky days, omens, dreams, & c. For all these are relics of paganism, and serve for nothing but to delude the soul, and lay her open to Satan; to take off her dependence from her God and his divine providence, and to transfer her faith to lying vanities and inventions of the devil. 3rdly, the guilt of superstition is also incurred by corrupting the truth of God's worship, by placing religion in certain empty things that have no tendency to his divine service, or to his greater glory, or by flattering one's self or others with an assurance of obtaining miraculous favours or salvation by the use or practice of any such things without any manner of warrant either of the word of God, or of the church of God. O beware, my soul of any such errors!

Conclude to renounce in practice every branch of idol worship and superstition. Cast out of the house of God which is within thee, every idol of the head and of the heart, and let the Lord Jesus reign without any rival in all the powers of thy soul. Have nothing to do with his enemy, nor with any of his inventions, nor suffer his worship to be vitiated with any mixture of falsehood and lies.

Professor Salleron



Sept. 24th



Consider first, those words of the divine commandment, Exod. x 7, 'Thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that shall take his name in vain.' This commandment obliges us to show all respect to the holy name of the Lord our God, and not profane it by the heinous crime of blasphemy, (which flies in the face of God's infinite majesty,) or of perjury, (which insults his truth, and makes him witness to a lie.) O let no such dreadful evils as these be ever found in the inheritance of Christ, or amongst the professors of the Christian name! it would be wonderful if any nation were suffered to continue upon earth that should encourage, or even tolerate such monstrous guilt. Moreover this commandment forbids also all profane swearing and cursing, and all other irreverent use of the sacred name of God. Ah! how common is this guilt amongst Christians! and how dismal are the consequences of it, in the manifold judgments of God inflicted in punishment of those sins, both in this world and in the next. O true it is, 'The Lord will not hold him guiltless, that shall take the name of the Lord his God in vain.' Hence the wise man tells us, Ecclus. xiii. 12, 'A man that sweareth much shall be filled with iniquity, and a scourge shall not depart from his house.'

Consider 2ndly, the different ways by which unhappy mortals daily violate and profane God's most sacred name. How they swear by it at every turn; often falsely, often unjustly, generally rashly; and thereby continually expose themselves to the evident danger of that most enormous sin of calling on their God to be witness to their lies. Ah, how often do they with equal rashness and profaneness, by their curses and imprecations, presume to cite his divine majesty to serve them in quality of executioner, to execute the damnation which every humour or passion of theirs pronounces against some or other of his creatures! How often in their madness do they pronounce the like sentence, and call for the like vengeance, even upon their own souls! How often is the sacred name of God brought in, even by the better sort, without rhyme or reason, to express every passion or emotion of their souls! Alas! what liberty is here taken by these worms of the earth with the tremendous majesty of the God of heaven! And shall all this pass unpunished? Oh! to what a low ebb is Christianity come, when so many thousands of those that call themselves Christians are more guilty by far of profaning the holy name of God, than either Turks or pagans; and even glory in their guilt! And thou, my soul, hast thou never gone into their council; or hast thy glory never been in their assembly? O, see thou detest all such wickedness; and reclaim as many as thou canst from these ways of death. And if at any time thou hearest God's holy name thus profaned, lift up thy heart to heaven, and join with all the choirs of blessed spirits there, in adoration, praise, and love of the divine majesty, to make what amends thou canst for all these outrages offered to the king of heaven.

Consider 3rdly, that the great business of a Christian is to glorify the name of God both by his tongue and by his life. We glorify his holy name by the tongue whenever we praise him and extol his mercies, when our words and conversation are always directed to promote God's glory and the edification of our neighbours. We glorify his holy name by our lives when we live as becomes his children and his people, when our light so shines before men, that they have occasion from hence to glorify our Father who is in heaven. For as it is written concerning wicked livers, that through them the name of God is blasphemed amongst the nations, so the lives of God's true servants are the sweet odour of Christ in every place, and not only give continual glory to God themselves, by the exercise of all virtues, but also bring many others to glorify him by the efficacy of their example.

Conclude to keep a great guard upon thyself, that for the future thou mayest never use the holy name of God but with respect and devotion. And as for whatsoever profanation thou hast hitherto been guilty of, repair that guilt, to the best of thy power, with penitential tears, and by dedicating the whole remainder of thy life to procure the great glory of God's name.


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Sept. 25th



Consider first, that divine precept, 'Remember thou keep holy the sabbath day,' Exod. xx. 8; and reflect how just it is, that next to the capital duties of acknowledging one only true and living God, and paying due respect to his name, we should also set aside one day at least in the week to be sanctified to him, and to be spent in his divine worship. The particular appointment of the seventh day, as the day of God's rest, and the figure of our eternal rest, after the six days' labours of this transitory life, was but a part of the ceremonial law, which is no longer obligatory under the new covenant of Jesus Christ; and therefore the day has been changed into the first day of the week, to honour the resurrection of the Son of God, by which he put, as it were, the finishing stroke to the great work of our redemption, and the glorious promulgation of his law, by the coming down of the Holy Ghost. But the precept itself, as to its substance, and as to the obligation of dedicating, in a more particular manner, a competent portion of our days to the worship of him who in all reason might justly claim them all, is unchangeable, indispensable, and eternal, and is here enforced with that word, Remember, not found in any of the other commandments, to inculcate the utmost importance of our strict observance of it . O! 'tis true, that the religious keeping of these days, agreeable to the ordinance of God and his church, is the sovereign means to bring Christians, after their short labours here, to their true and everlasting Sabbath.

Consider 2ndly, that on these days, (which we are commanded to keep holy,) all servile works and profane employments are forbidden to Christians, lest their attention should be taken off from the worship of God, or their application to religious duties interrupted by their worldly occupations. But then if these kinds of works, which are otherwise commendable in themselves, and even obligatory at other times, are strictly forbidden in these days, as hindrance to God's worship, how much more so are all such criminal diversions as are lawful at no time, and all those works of darkness and sin, which are servile in the very worst of senses, because by them men serve the devil, and are far more taken off by them from their application to God than by any other labours whatsoever! But O, how common are those sinful profanations of our Lord's day! How many seem to have no other intention, in resting on this day from their usual employments, than to dedicate this holy time to vanity, sloth luxury, or some other criminal passion, without giving any part of it to God! See, my soul, this be never thy practice; but if thou givest the other days of the week to the world, to the business of thy calling, to working for thy temporal livelihood, give God his day, to be employed in his service, in the business of eternity, and in working for thy eternal salvation.

Consider 3rdly, that all Christians are obliged on these days to attend to the public worship of God in his church, and in particular to assist at the divine sacrifice, in which we solemnly celebrate the death and passion of the Son of God. Here we are to join with him and with his whole family in paying adoration praise, and thanksgiving to the divine majesty. Here we are to bewail our sins in his sight, and crave mercy for them through Christ's precious blood, here offered to God. Here we are to present through him our prayers and supplications, both for ourselves and for the whole world, before the throne of grace. We are also on these days to dispose our soul to receive, either sacramentally or at least spiritually, the body and blood of Christ; to attend to the word of God; to read devout books, to meditate on divine truths, and to employ a good part of our time in these spiritual exercises. Alas! how very little are these important duties thought of by too many Christians! How many will neither sanctify these days in a proper manner themselves, not suffer their servants or others that are about them to sanctify them? And what a strict account shall they one day give for all these abuses!

Conclude to make it thy business that thou at least and thy house may give to God what belongs to God, by duly serving him on his own day. This diligence will entitle thee and thine to his blessing; and thy sanctifying his day will be a powerful means to sanctify thee.





On honour thy father and thy mother, &c.

Consider first, that next to the precepts that enforce those most essential duties which we owe to God himself, follows the commandment of honouring our parents, as well corporal as spiritual, under God, and all such as have from God a power over us, whether in church or state. This, says the apostle, (Eph. vi. 2,) is the first commandment with a promise that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest be long-lived upon earth. Nothing could be more agreeable to nature, to reason, and to religion, than this divine precept. And we find by many instances how much God takes to heart our strict observance of it, and how severely he punishes, even in this life, the transgressors, as well by ordering in the law such as are notoriously guilty in this kind to be put to death without mercy, as by the many dreadful judgments he often inflicts upon them. Christians, what is your comportment to your parents, & c.? Is it dutiful or undutiful? O never flatter yourselves with the expectation of God's blessing either in this world or the next if you are undutiful.

Consider 2ndly, what this honour means which the law of God requires from children to their parents For it does not merely consist in cringing and ceremony, but it implies a sincere love, joined with respect and reverence; a ready obedience to their orders, where they no ways clash with the holy will and law of God; and a perpetual disposition to afford them or procure for them all proper assistance, as well in their corporal as in their spiritual necessities: insomuch that our Lord will not allow of any gifts made to himself or to his temple to the prejudice of that honour and support which we owe to our parents, Matt. xv. 3, 4, 5, 6. Christians, give ear to the admonitions of the Holy Ghost by the wise man, Ecclus. iii., and learn from him what your duty is to your parents, and what the reward of your compliance with that duty. 'Honour thy father in word and work, and in all patience that a blessing may come upon thee from him, and his blessing may remain in the latter end. The father's blessing establisheth the houses of the children, but the mother's curse rooteth up the foundation. Son, support the old age of thy father, and grieve him not in his life; and if his understanding fail have patience with him, and despise him not, when thou art in thy strength - and in justice thou shalt be built up, and in the day of affliction thou shalt be remembered, and thy sins shall melt away as the ice in the fair warm weather.' And again, 'He that honoureth his father shall have joy in his own children, and in the day of his prayer he shall be heard. He that honoureth his father shall enjoy a long life,' & c. He that feareth the Lord honoureth his parents, and will serve them as his masters, that brought him into the world.

Consider 3rdly, what the duty is, on the other hand, of parents with regard to their children; and so in proportion of other superiors with regard to them that are committed to their charge. For their obligation is greater than many apprehend, and their own eternal welfare, as well as that of their children or subjects, absolutely depends upon their discharge of it. It is true, they are not to neglect the care of their temporal well-being as far as is consistent with the safety of their souls; but they must take much more to heart their everlasting salvation: and therefore, from their very childhood they must give them an early knowledge of their Christian duty, and instill into their tender minds the fear and love of God; they must accustom them to prayer, and must teach them how to pray; they must make them sensible of the necessity of their breaking their own will, of their curbing their passions, and denying themselves, if they would be happy either here or hereafter. In a word, they must remove far from them all the occasions of sin, and procure them all the helps they can to establish them in Christian piety. O how easy it would be for parents to bring up saints for heaven if they would be diligent in putting all this in practice! But alas! how many rather train up their children for hell by abandoning them from their childhood to their own corrupt inclinations, and inspiring them with the maxims of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Conclude to discharge thyself diligently of thy respective duty, whether of a child or of a parent, of a subject or of a superior, according to the station in which God has placed thee. Pass not over this matter too slightly in the examination of thy conscience, as too many do, who flatter themselves with a false security, whilst they live and die in the neglect of these great relative duties.



27th day of Sept.



Consider first, that this commandment does not only forbid all wilful murder, unjust shedding of blood, beating, or doing anything else that may hasten one's own or any other person's death, but also all thoughts that have any tendency that way, all wishes or desires of the death of any one, whether through malice or envy, or for some temporal convenience or interest; as also all manner of hatred and rancour of heart to any one living. For it is written, 1 John iii. 15, 'whoseoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.' Christians, look well to yourselves, and carefully examine into the true state of your interior in this respect. You have perhaps hitherto flattened yourselves that you have nothing to reproach your conscience with on the score of the horrible sin of murder; but have you never wilfully entertained any hatred, envy, or malice to your neighbours? If you have, know that all this is like murder in the eyes of God. O take heed of living in any such malicious dispositions to any one person upon earth, lest you should be excluded thereby from any share in eternal life, to which murderers have no title.

Consider 2ndly, how the Son of God himself has explained to us the extent of the obligations of this commandment, Matt. v. 21. & c., 'You have heard,' saith he, 'that it was said to them of old, Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, (a word expressing indignation and contempt,) shall be in danger of the council, (a higher and more severe tribunal,) and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire.' By which our Lord would have all Christians to understand that this divine law was not only designed to restrain the hand from killing, but also the heart from wilfully entertaining the passion of anger or the desire of revenge; and much more from suffering out wrath to break out into words on indignation or contempt, much less into downright affronts or injuries, which might either rob our neighbour of his honour or of the peace of his mind, or, as it too commonly happens, of the grace of God, by provoking him also to passion and sin.

Consider 3rdly, how the Holy Ghost also declares himself in like manner against the murdering crime of passion and revenge, Ecclus. xxviii. 'He that seeketh to revenge himself,' saith he, 'shall find vengeance from the Lord, and he will surely keep his sins in remembrance. One man keepeth anger against another, and doth he seek to be healed by God? He hath no mercy on a man like himself, and doth he entreat for his own sins? He that is but flesh nourished anger, and with what face doth he ask forgiveness of God? Who shall obtain pardon of his sins? Forgive thy neighbour if he have hurt thee, and then shall thy sins be forgiven to thee when thou prayest. Remember thy last things and let enmity cease. Remember the fear of God, and be not angry with thy neighbour. Remember the covenant of the most high, and overlook the ignorance of thy neighbour. Refrain from strife, and thou shalt diminish thy sins,' & c. O let us imprint these divine lessons deep in our souls, and we shall fulfil this great commandment.

Conclude, if thou desirest to keep thyself far from the guilt of murder, to banish far from thy soul every thought that has any tendency to malice or revenge. O learn from the doctrine and practice of thy Saviour rather to suffer in thy person, in thy honour, or in thy worldly goods, than, by seeking revenge, to endanger the loss of thy soul by losing thy God and his grace.



28th Sept.



Consider first, that there is another kind of murder besides that which destroys the body, viz., the murdering of the soul, by bringing upon it the death of sin - a crime most heinous in the eyes of God, and most pernicious to the souls of men, and yet most common amongst Christians. Of this kind of murder the devil was the first author; 'by whose envy death came into the world,' Wisd. ii. 24; and 'who was a murderer from the beginning.' John viii. 44, by drawing men into deadly sin. And all they follow him, and are on his side, and even take him for their father, who seek to fulfil his desires, by involving their neighbours in the guilt of sin, 'which when completed begetteth death,' James i. 15. Ah! how common are these kinds of murders! and how many ways are they daily committed by alluring or enticing others to evil, by word or work, dress or carriage; or by provoking them to it; or by engaging them in dangerous diversions and conversations; or, which is the most common of all, by authorizing sin, and encouraging and inviting men to the committing of it, by bad example. and what is all this, but murdering as many souls as there are persons to whom one has voluntarily given occasion of mortal sin.

Consider 2ndly, how grievous a crime this murdering of souls must be in the sight of God; since it defeats as much as lies in man the great business for which God sent his own Son upon earth, viz., the salvation of souls, which he takes so much to heart. It daringly promotes the interest of Satan, that arch-rebel and sets up his standard against that of Christ. It encourages deluded mortals to follow that enemy of God and man, rather than their creator and redeemer. It debauches as many of God's subjects from their allegiance as it draws souls into sin. It even treads under foot the precious blood of Christ, and makes void his passion and death, by causing those souls to perish eternally for whom Christ died. What a complication is here of high treasons against the divine majesty! How manifold, and how enormous a guilt! And what can such traitors and murderers as these expect from God but the most dreadful of all judgments, if they do not prevent them by a speedy and serious conversion, and by endeavouring to make the best reparation they are able; especially by reclaiming as many souls as they can from Satan and sin, and reconciling them to God.

Consider 3rdly, the grievousness of this evil of spiritual murder, from another point of view, that is from the mischief it does to man, and the dismal consequences it brings after it, both for time and eternity. The murder of the body is certainly a most heinous sin, and one of the greatest that can be committed between man and man; it even cries to heaven for vengeance: and yet it only reaches the body, which is the meaner part of man, and which by its condition must otherwise speedily perish; it does not touch the immortal soul; it does not extend to eternity. but spiritual murder kills the soul, by robbing it of the grace of God, which is its true life; it separates the soul from God, and condemns it to an eternal separation from him; it brings upon it a second and everlasting death; it plunges both soul and body into the flames of hell. O how loudly then must the blood of so many unhappy souls, which are daily sent to hell by these spiritual murders, cry to heaven for vengeance against their murderers!

Conclude to look well to thyself, that thou never have any share in this enormous guilt of spiritual murder, by giving occasion to another's sin. For why shouldst thou thus declare war against heaven, thrust thy neighbour's soul into hell, and bring upon thy own head a multiplied damnation, even as many hells as thou hast drawn souls into sin?