Today's contemplation

Admin

Administrator
28th Sept.

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ON SPIRITUAL MURDER



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?

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Admin

Administrator
29th Sept.
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ON MICHAELMAS DAY


Consider first, that on this day the church of God celebrates the festival of St. Michael, and all the heavenly host of angels and Archangels, cherubim and seraphim, and the rest of the orders of blessed spirits. Wherefore the devotion of this day is, first to join with all these heavenly choirs in giving praise, glory, and thanksgiving to God, who created these angelic spirits, to glorify him and who has inspired them all with an unspeakable love for us, and has sent them to minister for us, in order to our receiving the inheritance of salvation, Heb. i. 14. 2ndly, we ought on this day to congratulate with these heavenly citizens and their great leader, St. Michael; these friends of God and of ours; and to rejoice in their eternal happiness. 3rdly, we ought to associate ourselves with them, in order jointly to promote the common cause of our common master; that is, the greater glory of God, and the advancement of his divine service and love; and with them to fight his battles against the devil and his rebel angels. O Christians, how happy, how glorious is this cause, in which both we and they are engaged! And how advantageous is it for us to have such auxiliaries in this great warfare.

Consider 2ndly, what lessons we have to learn, from the behaviour of these blessed spirits, from the first moment of their creation, and what we are to imitate in them. They no sooner received their being, but they turned to their creator, by adoration and love, and dedicated themselves eternally to him. We are made for the same end as they were; that is, to glorify God, and like them we are strictly obliged to turn to our creator as soon as we are capable of knowing him, and to dedicate our whole being to his love and service. But have we done so? Have we not rather, like Lucifer and his associates, turned away from God at our first coming to the use of reason, and preferred every empty toy before him? The good angels are perpetually attentive to God - wheresoever they are, or whatever they are about, their eye and their heart is always upon him; they are perpetually jealous of his honour, and ever labouring to procure, not their own glory, but the glory of their great king. Do we imitate them? Is the eye of our soul turned towards God in all our employments? Are we always seeking his greater glory? If so, like the angels, wheresoever we are and whatsoever we are doing, we shall in some measure have heaven with us, even here upon earth.

Consider 3rdly, form the gospel of this day, St. Matt. xvii., what kind of exercises of virtue are to bring us effectually to the eternal society of the angels. We must be converted from the corruption of pride, which cast the devil out of heaven, and become as little children, by innocence and humility, or we shall have no share with the good angels in the kingdom of heaven. There is no room for pride in that blessed society - 'the devil is the king over all the children of pride,' Job xli. 25. There is no room there for any that wilfully associate themselves with the rebels, that have been cast out from thence, by corrupting others, or suffering themselves to be corrupted and drawn away from their allegiance, by giving or taking scandal against their own souls. The true way to arrive at the happy company of the angels is by humility, innocence, and purity. If we would come amongst them, we must 'cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh, and of the spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,' 2 Cor. vii. 1. 'For nothing that is defiled shall enter into that blessed city, where they dwell for ever,' Rev. xxi. 27.

Conclude so to honour St. Michael and all the good angels as to imitate their fidelity to their God, their constant attention to promote his glory, and their constant opposition to all the enterprises of his enemy. The name of Michael signifies, who is like God. Let this be your motto in all your spiritual warfare - at all times keep close to God, and he will keep close to you; prefer his honour before all other considerations, and he will speedily crush Satan under your feet; yea, he will enable you to 'walk upon the asp, and upon the basilisk, and to tread upon the lion and the dragon,' Ps. xc., and nothing shall have power to hurt you.

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Admin

Administrator
30th Sept.

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THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY


Consider first, that by this commandment is forbidden, in the first place, the heinous crime of adultery, as not only directly contrary to chastity, but to justice also in the highest degree; as carrying with it one of the greatest injuries that can be done to one's neighbour, and violating an indefeasible right, confirmed to him by the law of God and of nature, and withal profaning the sanctity of the matrimonial contract, and breaking through the solemn vows of mutual fidelity annexed to it. But though adultery be the only crime here named, it not being necessary to reckon up in particular all the shameful sins of lust, yet it is not the only evil forbidden by this commandment, which moreover condemns and prohibits all manner of uncleanness, whether committed by or with married persons or single, and much more all other unnatural sins of lust, committed upon one's self, or with any other; as also all abuses of the marriage bed, by any liberties contrary to the sanctity of it, or disagreeable to the end of that holy institution. O how odious are all these impurities in the sight of God and his holy angels, before whose eyes they are committed! What dreadful judgments have they often drawn down from heaven! What black and filthy flames are prepared for the punishment of them in hell! O my soul, let us ever fly and abhor all these abominations!

Consider 2ndly, that by this commandment (as explained by our Lord himself, St. Matt. v. 27, 28, & c.,) are not only forbidden all those grosser sins of uncleanness, but also all other kinds of immodesties which have any manner of tendency towards those greater crimes, even to every wanton glance of the eye, and every impure inclination of the heart. 'You have heard,' said the Lord, 'that it was said to them of old, thou shalt not commit adultery: but i say to you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.' If then we would be truly chaste, as the divine law commands us, we must, with holy Job, put a constraint both upon our eyes, and upon our thoughts and imaginations, lest death enter into our souls by those windows. 'I made a covenant,' saith he, 'with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin,' Job xxxi. 4, lest, he adds, 'God above should have no part in him.' How much more does this commandment forbid all loose discourse, unchaste words and songs, which not only demonstrate a corrupt heart in them that take delight in talking of such matter, (which St. Paul would not have so much as one named amongst Christians, Eph. v. 3, for 'out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,' Matt. xii. 34,) but also spread the infection amongst their neighbours, to corrupt them also by filing their minds and hearts with foul imaginations and impure affections? O how common and how dreadful is this evil, and how many souls owe their damnation to it! Ah! it is too true that 'evil communication corrupts good manners;' and that thousands of Christians lose their innocence, and are made a sacrifice to Satan, by means of such lewd discourses and corrupt conversations.

Consider 3rdly, that if this commandment is designed to lay a restraint upon our eyes, upon our thoughts and imaginations, upon our wishes and desires, and upon our words and conversations; how much more upon our actions, by condemning and prohibiting all carnal liberties, all wanton play, all indecent touches, all immodest embraces, & c.: all which violently tend to defile both soul and body with lust. O Christians, deceive not yourselves; all these liberties are criminal, and such as are loudly condemned in the word of God, Gal. v. 19, and Eph. v. 3, 4, as absolutely excluding all that are guilty of them from any inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Conclude, if you desire to have any share in Christ and in his eternal inheritance, to keep your souls and bodies pure from the defilements of lust. In order thereunto, be exact in observing the rule our Lord has given you, Matt. v. 29, 30, viz., of avoiding all occasions that may expose you to the danger of lust, however agreeable or dear they may be to your natural inclinations, or however necessary they may seem to you. For what can be more dear or necessary than a hand or an eye, and yet we must part with these rather than lose our souls. Apply this rule to all such company or conversation, to all such books or entertainments, to all such plays or diversions, to all such shows or comedies, as are apt to fill your mind with impure thoughts, or otherwise to endanger your chastity; and let neither the example, nor the invitations and persuasions, nor the authority of any one living prevail upon you to transgress this divine rule, or to fling yourselves into the jaws of this infernal dragon of lust, which in all such places and occasions lies in wait to devour your souls.

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Admin

Administrator
1st Oct.
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ON THOU SHALT NOT STEAL


Consider first, that by this commandment God forbids all manner of wrong to our neighbour, in his goods, rights, or worldly possessions; whether by open violence or by fraud; by stealing or by overreaching; by cheating in buying or in selling, or in any other bargain; by keeping from him what is his, or not giving him his dues, or not paying just debts; or by any extortion whatsoever, or any usury in the loan of money, or other things; or by putting him to any unjust charges; or by spoiling or damaging what belongs to him. In all these cases there is an injustice committed, which is not only condemned in this divine precept, but by the natural and eternal law, written from the beginning in the heart of man, and by that great principle of morality which forbids us to do to any other what we would not have done to us. And yet how many ways are poor mortals daily guilty of breaking through this divine and eternal law, for the sake of this wretched mammon of worldly interest, the great god of this world; and that in spite both of law and gospel, honour and honesty, conscience and religion. And how often do they affect to deceive themselves herein with vain pleas and pretexts, intended on purpose to cloak their guilt, and to hide it, if possible, not only from others, but also from their own consciences; that so they may go on without disturbance in the way that leads to death, by persuading themselves that all is right. But God is not to be deceived, who has declared that 'the unjust shall never possess his kingdom,' 1 Cor. vi.9. O! examine yourselves, Christians, impartially upon this head of justice in your dealing with your neighbours; for there is nothing more easy than for you to deceive yourselves herein; the consequences of which would be most dreadful to your souls.

Consider 2ndly, that every breach of this commandment, by any one of these ways of wronging one's neighbour, is always followed by the strict obligation of making restitution or reparation the crime will never be forgiven. And how few think of this! Alas! how many of these restitutions will be yet to be made when time shall be no more, and when that which has been neglected on earth shall be exacted in hell. Ah! sinners, what a load then have you charged upon your own shoulders by your injustices! And how is it possible you should think so little of discharging it! O do not be too easy in persuading yourselves you have it not in your power to make this restitution; you cannot deceive the all-seeing eye of him who clearly discerns how much you might do, if you would but retrench all superfluities in your expenses, would truly take to heart this necessary duty of satisfying justice in the first place, and would use all possible industry and labour for that end.

Consider 3rdly, that though all injustice in general be hateful in the sight of God, there are some branches of it in particular which more loudly cry to heaven for vengeance; and more especially such as tend to oppress the poor by usury or extortion, or by making a handle of their necessity, to raise to them the price of the things they want, or by defrauding them of their wages or hire; or otherwise taking or keeping from them that which belongs to them. O how heinous are all these sins in the eyes of him who is the Father of the poor! They are like murder in his sight. There is a curse entailed upon all such substance as is gathered together by oppressing his children. And so there is upon all sacrilegious rapines, by which the church or temple of God, or his ministers, are defrauded of what is their due; or by which pious foundations or donations are diverted from the purposes of religion to profane uses. In all such cases God looks upon the wrong as done to himself, and will certainly revenge it both here and hereafter. All that gold which is brought into the coffers by robbing either the poor or the church, shall not only moulder away itself, but shall consume all the rest it shall find there, together with the master of it.

Conclude to beware of all manner of injustice, and to keep off at the greatest distance possible from it, as a mortal enemy, both to thy temporal and eternal welfare. Take heed lest the love of that idol mammon should at any time impose upon thee in this regard - thou are never secure from danger, as long as that idol is not cast out of thy heart. For as the wise man assures us, Ecclus. x. 10. 'there is not a more wicked thing than to love money, for such a one setteth even his own soul to sale.'

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Admin

Administrator
2nd Oct.


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ON OUR GUARDIAN ANGELS

Consider first, that this day is set aside by the church to glorify God, and to give him thanks, through Jesus Christ his Son, for that inestimable benefit of his divine goodness, by which he has appointed his heavenly spirits to attend on us and to guard us during this pilgrimage of our mortality, till they bring us home to himself and to a happy eternity. Give ear to the word of God himself on this subject, Ps. xc., 'There shall no evil come to thee: nor shall the scourge come near thy dwelling. For he hath given his angels charge over thee to keep thee in all thy ways: in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.' St. Matt. xviii., 'Take heed that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.' Heb. i., 'Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them who shall receive the inheritance of salvation.' Ex. xxiii., 'Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into that place that I have prepared. Take notice of him and hear his voice,' &c. Yes, Christians, let us attend to these our heavenly guardians, who are ever inviting us to the love and service of our God, and inspiring us with pious thoughts to this effect; and with their assistance we shall defeat all our enemies, and make our way safely to our eternal country, in spite of all the opposition of hell, according to that of Exod. xxiii. 22, 'If thou wilt hear his voice, and do all that I speak, I will be an enemy to thine enemies, and i will afflict them that afflict thee; and the angel shall go before thee, and shall bring thee into the promised land, the figure of the heavenly Chanaan.'

Consider 2ndly, with St. Bernard, (writing on those words, 'he hath given his angels charge over thee,') the wonders of God's bounty and love for us, expressed in this commission given to his angels. 'For who is it that has given this charge? To whom? Of whom? And what is the charge he has given? O let us think well of this grand commission, let us lay it up diligently in our memory. Who has given this charge? Whose angels are they? Whose will do they obey? He has given his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways, and to bear thee up in their hands. 'Tis then the sovereign majesty has given a charge to angels, yea, to his own angels he has given a charge; to these sublime spirits, so happy, so nearly adhering to himself, and to his own domestics he has given a charge of thee. And who art thou? What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou makest any account of him? As if man were not rottenness, and the son of man a worm. And what is this commission he has given his angels concerning thee? Even to be thy guardians. O wonderful condescension! O truly great affection of charity!'

Consider 3rdly, with the same saint, 'what reverence, what devotion, what confidence, this saying that God has given his angels a charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways, ought to inspire thee with - a reverence for their presence, a devotion for their benevolence, a confidence for their guardianship. Walk cautiously, as having the angels always in thy company; who according to their commission are with thee in all thy ways. In every place, in every corner, have respect to thy angel. Never dare do that in his presence which thou wouldst not dare to do before me. In God then, my brethren, let us affectionately love his angels, that are to be one day joint-heirs with us, but in the mean time are appointed by our Father, and set over us as tutors and governors. What have we to fear under such guardians as these; they can neither be overcome nor deceived who keep us in all our ways; much less can they deceive us. They are faithful, they are wise, they are powerful; what are we afraid of? Let us Only follow them, let us keep close to them, and we shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven.'

Conclude to follow in practice these prescriptions of this great saint; and as he adds in the same discourse, when at any time we perceive a temptation arising, or we are threatened with any grievous tribulation, let us call upon these our heavenly keepers, our guides, our helpers, in due time in distress; and we shall experience a powerful assistance from them, superior to all the powers of earth and hell.


Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place
that I have prepared. Take notice of him, and hear his voice, and do not think him one to be contemned: for he will
not forgive when thou hast sinned, and my name is in him. But if thou wilt hear his voice, and do all that I speak,
I will be an enemy to thy enemies, and will afflict them that afflict thee. And my angel shall go before thee..
(Exodus 23:20-23)


Receive, O Lord, the gift which we offer in veneration of Thy holy angels: and in thy great mercy, grant that under their unceasing guardianship, we may escape the present dangers, and attain that life which is everlasting. Through our Lord. (Secret from today's Mass)

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Admin

Administrator
3rd Oct.

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On thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour


Consider first, that by this commandment is not only forbidden all false testimony given in open court, or before a magistrate, against any one, which is usually accompanied with another greater crime, viz., that of perjury or false swearing, if not with that of robbery or murder also, when false witness is the occasion of the loss of any one's goods or life - but also all manner of private slanders and lies, and all other ways of injuring one's neighbour by words, either in his character and good name, by backbiting and detraction, or in his honour, by reproaches and affronts, or by taking away the peace of his mind by scoffs and derision, or by robbing him of his friends, by whispering and tale-bearing, or by promoting misunderstanding and quarrels between him and his neighbours: an evil so odious in the sight of God, that the wise man assures us, Prov. vi. 16, that his soul detest it. All these crimes are condemned by this commandment, and by the eternal and natural law written in the heart of man - all of them are directly opposite both to charity and to justice, and to the great rule of life, not to do by others what we would not have them to do by us. They all bring with them a strict obligation, even under pain of damnation, (if the injuries have been considerable,) of making restitution or satisfaction, and yet how seldom is this put in practice? Ah, how common are these injustices of the tongue, and how dreadful are the consequences of them both in time and eternity!

Consider 2ndly, more in particular the heinousness of the sin of detraction, which is so common in the world, and which makes up so great a part of this conversation of worldlings. And yet at every blow, says St. Francis de Sales, it gives three mortal wounds, first to the soul of the detractor, then to the reputation of the person detracted and thirdly, to the consciences of the hearers, by drawing as many of them into sin as are delighted with hearing the detraction, and much more if they encourage it, and contribute to propagate it, by publishing it to others. The detractor himself is like a thief or a robber who takes away his neighbour's character or good name; yes, he is so much worse than a thief or a robber, as a person's character or good name is more valuable to him than his worldly substance, which he is in danger of losing, when he loses his character. Now, in matters of theft or robbery, 'tis commonly said the receiver is as bad as the thief, so in matters of detraction, he that hears the detractor, whilst he is robbing his neighbour of his reputation, is like the receiver, and partakes in the guilt of the robbery. And are Christians aware of this? Do they examine their conscience upon this head? And yet their souls are here at stake. O how few detractors or tale-bearers would there be if men were once made sensible that their unjust and uncharitable discourses were disagreeable to their hearers!

Consider 3rdly, that the sin of detraction may be committed, and consequently the obligation of repairing one's neighbour's good name may be incurred, not only by publishing downright slanders and lies against his reputation, but also by charging him upon hearsay, or upon one's own suspicious or rash judgments with things, if not false, at least doubtful and uncertain, or by magnifying the guilt, and imputing to malice what might be no more than frailty or surprise, or by censuring his intentions in his good works, or even by publishing, without necessity, his real crimes or defects in such circumstances, when his character is hereby grievously hurt. Because in all these cases, one does not only sin against charity, which obliges us to love our neighbours as ourselves, but also against justice, by violating the right our neighbour has, that his good name should be preserved as long as he has not forfeited it by any public crime. O Christians, do but guide yourselves by that golden rule of doing as you would be done by, and you will avoid these sins which send so many souls to hell.

Conclude to examine yourselves well upon the subject of the sins against this commandment, that you may not be imposed upon by the too common practice of those who live and die, with little or no remorse, under the guilt of the daily breach of this divine law. O remember that custom and example will be no excuse for you, if you walk along with the crowd in the broad road that leads to destruction.

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Admin

Administrator
4th Oct.

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ON RASH JUDGMENT


Consider first, that this commandment is also violated by the sin of rash judgment, which robs one's neighbour of his esteem and reputation; if not with regard to others, by publishing the suspicions we have conceived of him, or the judgment we make to his disadvantage, at least within our own breast, by despising and condemning him there. O how much is this crime (when voluntary and deliberate) condemned by the word of God! O how contrary it is to all Christian charity! 'Judge not,' saith our Lord, Luke vi. 37, 'and you shall not be judged: condemn not and you shall not be condemned.' 'Why dost thou judge thy brother,' saith St. Paul, Rom. xiv. 10, 'or why dost thou despise thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, and every one of us shall render account to God for himself. Let us not therefore judge one another any more.' and again, 1 Cor. iv. 4, 5: 'He that judgeth is the Lord: therefore judge not before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the heart.' And again, Rom. xiv. 4, 'Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? It is to his own master he must stand or fall.' 'He that detracteth his brother,' saith St.James, chap. iv. 11, & c., 'or he that judgeth his brother, detracteth the law, and judgeth the law. There is one lawgiver and judge that is able to destroy and to deliver, but who art thou that judgest thy neighbour?' O let us always attend to these divine admonitions, and fly rash judgment like death.

Consider 2ndly, the injury done by rash judgment, first to God himself, to whom all judgment belongs; by usurping his authority, in judging and condemning others without his licence; and even presuming to claim his prerogative of diving into the intentions and secrets of hearts. Then the wrong that is done to one's neighbour, by passing sentence upon him unheard, and without sufficient knowledge of his guilt; (which way of proceeding would be highly unjust in any judge or court whatsoever,) and this without any sufficient authority over him, or observing any order or justice in this regard. Moreover, rash judgment, when voluntary, is also highly criminal upon account of its opposition to those two most essential virtues of a Christian, charity and humility. For the rashly censuring and condemning one's neighbour must needs destroy charity; since the property of charity is 'to think no evil,' 1 Cor. xiii. 5. and how can it be otherwise, for charity is love; and love, so far from rashly imputing imaginary crimes to the beloved, is ever willing to overlook even real defects when duty does not oblige us to correct them. And as to humility, nothing can be more opposite to it than the despising and undervaluing one's neighbour, and secretly preferring one's self before him, in one's own breast: now this is commonly one of the chief ingredients in rash judgment.

Consider 3rdly, that in order to overcome the vicious habit of judging rashly of one's neighbour, one must search out the root of this evil, and then lay the axe to the root, in order to cut it up. Rash judgment in many persons, springs from pride, and from their having too good an opinion of themselves; which makes them ever ready to believe the worst of others, and to censure them, in order to exalt themselves. In others the root of their rash judgment is the ill will, hatred, or envy, they bear to their neighbours which inclines them to put always the worst construction on what they say or do, and to condemn their intentions, even in their best actions. Others again, because they are evil themselves, judge ill of their neighbours, by themselves. Others, in fine, from the presumption they have of their own wit, great talents, and experience, arrogate to themselves privilege of passing their judgment upon every one,and yet proudly imagine they are out of the danger of rashness or injustice in so doing; such is the confidence they have in their own clear-sightedness, though alas! it often pretends to discover the mote in another's eye, and see not the beam in its own. The general remedy for all rash judgments, from whatsoever source they proceed, is to have our eye always upon ourselves, and upon our own faults, and to turn it away form our neighbour's; to endeavour also to be sensible how great an evil it is to judge and condemn our neighbours, and how pernicious it is to our own souls; to make frequent acts of detestation of it; and to pray continually to our Lord to be delivered from it.

Conclude to guard against all manner of rash judgments, as being hateful to God, injurious to your neighbours, and destructive of the salvation of your own soul. The study and practice of charity and humility is the sovereign means by which to obtain the victory over this pernicious evil.

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Admin

Administrator
5th Oct.

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ON AVOIDING ALL MANNER OF LIES


Consider first, in what manner the vice of lying is everywhere condemned in the word of God. Our Saviour tells us, John viii. 44, that 'the devil is a liar, and the father of lies;' and Apoc. xxi. 6, that 'all liars shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.' and the Holy Ghost assures us by the mouth of the wise man, Prov. vi. 16, 17, that 'the Lord hateth the lying tongue;' and ch. xiv. 22, that 'lying lips are a great abomination to the Lord;' and ch. xiii. 5, that 'the just shall hate a lying word;' and Wisd. i. 11, that 'the mouth that lieth killeth the soul;' and Ecclus. xx. 27, that even 'a thief is better than a man that is always lying; but that both of them shall inherit destruction;' and xx. 26, that 'a lie is a foul blot on a man,' and xx. 28, that 'the manners of lying men are without honour,' and that 'their confusion is with them without ceasing;' besides many other texts against lies and liars. O let us fly and detest this evil, which is thus frequently condemned by the Spirit of God, as hateful to him, and pernicious to our souls!

Consider 2ndly, that the reason why lies are so hateful to God is, because God is essentially truth, and therefore as all lies are opposite to truth, they are all opposite to God, and cannot but offend him. Every known untruth, by reason of this opposition to the God of truth, is essentially evil, and ought not to be committed for any consideration whatever. God himself cannot dispense with any one, or give him a licence to tell a lie, no more than he himself can lie. Some lies indeed are more heinous than others; either because they more directly strike at revealed truths, or tend to degrade God and religion; or because of the injury they do to our neighbours, either in soul or body, goods or good name; and all these are mortal sins; but there are no lies whatsoever, not even such as are told in jest, or such as are officious, or for excuse, but what are essentially sinful, and therefore ought not to be committed, not even for saving the whole world; because evil is not to be committed that good may come of it. Besides, what good can be expected from turning one's back upon truth, and sheltering one's self in a lie? O! let us rather die than thus offend the God of truth.

Consider 3rdly, that it is a dangerous thing for any Christian to make slight of telling a lie, though it were only a lie of vanity or for an excuse, and without any design to prejudice one's neighbour. But it is still more dangerous to indulge one's self in a habit or custom of telling this kind of lies. For it is no small evil wilfully to dishonour the sovereign truth at any time, and to lead one's neighbour into error, by obtruding falsehood upon him for truth; but it is a very great evil to make nothing of entertaining a habit of wilfully offending God by such lies, and this upon a notion that if one can but escape hell, it matters not how much one otherwise offends him. For how can such a habit as this be consistent with loving God above all things? Or how can there be any security for a soul that treats her God in this slighting manner? Oh, no! let us not deceive ourselves; God is not to be mocked. Those that make slight of a habit of lies, can never be friends of the God of truth, nor reasonable expect to be eternally with him.

Conclude never to tell a known lie upon any account whatsoever, much less, for avoiding a little anger, or any other slight occasion. Nothing can justify a lie, not even the saving one's life by it, because it is an offence to God, who ought not to be offended, even to save the world.

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Admin

Administrator
6th Oct.
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ON THOU SHALT NOT COVET, &c.



Consider first, that after forbidding the sins and injuries committed by words or actions, God forbids also, in these two last commandments, the sins of thought and desire; particularly with relation to avarice and lust: 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife:' ' Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods.' These two kinds of irregular desires and inclinations, suggested by the lust of the flesh and by the love of the mammon of this world, are like a raging pestilence, which has infected the greatest part of mankind from the beginning - like another deluge they even overflow the earth. Money and carnal pleasures are the two great idols set up by Satan to confront the living God; to these men sacrifice their hearts and affections; the young by the concupiscence of the flesh, the old by the concupiscence of the eyes; and thus both old and young are for the most part debauched from the love and service of God, and made slaves to sin and victims to hell. Ah! Christians, never think yourselves innocent, though you keep your hands from stealing, and your bodies from fornication or adultery, if you do not at the same time keep your eyes and your hearts from coveting. Such you are in the sight of God, as your affections and desires are; if these are criminal you cannot be innocent.

Consider 2ndly, that by this precept, 'thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife,' we are recommended to set a guard upon our thoughts, upon our hearts, upon our eyes, and upon all other senses, that the fire of concupiscence may not make its way through any of those avenues into our souls, to burn them here with lust, and with the dark flames of hell hereafter. Ah! what have we not to apprehend from the depraved inclinations of our corrupt nature, if we do not turn away both our senses, and our imaginations, from all alluring objects, and shut those gates against the first suggestions of evil? How much more are all Christians bound to fly all such occasions as expose them to a more imminent and immediate danger of lewd thoughts and desires, as a great part of modern comedies, balls, masquerades, &c., are known to do, more especially with relation to the younger sort. And yet, alas! how few are there that are not too fond of these dangerous diversions, which are so near akin to the pomps of Satan, which we renounced at our baptism.

Consider 3rdly, the necessity of restraining also the corrupt inclinations of that other branch of concupiscence which relates to our neighbour's goods In order to this, we must in the first place renounce and detest all unjust desires, and such as any way tend to withhold from our neighbour, or deprive him of what, in justice, belongs to him: as also all wishes of his death, that we may come at his possessions; all desires of public or private calamities, for one's own particular advantage, & c. But then we must not stop here, we must lay the axe to the root of all these evils, which is the love of this mammon of iniquity; this unhappy vice of covetousness, which if it be not cut up, and cast out of the heart, will not suffer either justice or grace long to reside there, according to that of the apostle, 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10: 'They that want to become rich, fall into the temptation, and into the snare of the devil, and into many unprofitable and hurtful desires which drown men in destruction and perdition, for covetousness is the root of all evils.'

Conclude to fight, till death, against both these branches of concupiscence as capital enemies of the soul, which if not guarded against and overcome, are capable of doing us infinitely more harm than all the devils in hell.

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Admin

Administrator
7th Oct.

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ON THE PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH


Consider first, that all Christians are under a strict obligation of keeping also the precepts, that is the commandments, of the church; because the law of God commands us so to do. 'Honour thy father and thy mother' is a commandment which not only obliges us to obey them that are our parents according to the flesh, but also our spiritual parents, at least in matter spiritual, viz., the pastors of the church of Christ. To these Christ our Lord has said, Luke x. 16. 'He that heareth you, heareth me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth me.' To these he has given 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven,' with the power of 'binding and loosing,' St. Matt. xvi. 19, xviii. 18. These 'he has sent as his Father sent him,'' St. John xx. 21. With these he has promised to abide till the end of the world, St. Matt. xxviii. 20. These he has made his ministers, the stewards and dispensers of his mysteries and sacraments, 1 Cor. iv. 1, and his ambassadors, 2 Cor. v. 20. These he has given us for pastors and teachers, Eph. iv. 11, 12, & c. To these he has given the charge of our souls; and therefore the apostle calls upon us, Heb. xiii., not only 'to follow their faith,' v. 7, but also to obey them, and submit ourselves to them, v. 17. O blessed obedience! 'Tis in vain to pretend to obey our Father in heaven if we refuse to obey our mother the church.

Consider 2ndly, the excellency of these precepts of the church, and their admirable tendency to bring us to God, by obliging us to set aside so many of our days for prayer and other religious duties; to humble ourselves so often, and to do penance for our sins, by fasting and abstinence; to frequent the sacraments and sacrifices of the church, & c. O, these precepts are not mere human inventions or injunctions, they have been dictated by the Spirit of God, which always resides and presides in the church; they are enacted by divine commission and authority; they are, generally speaking, so many determinations of the divine law. The law of God and of nature requires that we should dedicate a considerable part of our time to the divine worship - the precepts of the church point out the particular days we are to set aside for this end. The divine law calls upon us to pay to our God the homage of adoration, praise and sacrifice; the precepts of the church prescribe for this end the frequenting the great sacrifice of the death of Christ, offered up to God in the holy mysteries. The law of God obliges us to do penance for our sins; to restrain our passions and lusts; to offer up pure and humble prayer to God, and consequently to fast and abstain, as far as shall be necessary for us to answer these ends; the church, by her precepts, orders the times for this penitential exercise, lest, if we were left to ourselves, we might neglect it. The law of Christ ordains the confession of our sins, and the worthily receiving the sacred Communion; the precepts of the church require, under pain of excommunication, that this divine law should be complied with in such a manner as not to defer the confession of our sins beyond the year, nor neglect receiving the holy Communion, at least at Easter. See then, my soul, how necessary it is for thee to observe all the precepts of the church, in order to comply with the law and commandments of God.

Consider 3rdly, the unhappy case of all such Christians as despise these precepts of the church of Christ. Alas! they despise in effect both Christ and his Father, Luke x 16, and will be treated accordingly at his tribunal. The wilful transgression of any one of these ordinances of God's church is certainly criminal in the sight of God; how much more the contempt of them? And what then must we think of the wretched state of so many souls that make a practice of transgressing these laws of the church, by breaking through the rules prescribed by her decrees and constitutions with regard to festivals, fasts, and abstinences; or with regard to the frequentation of the sacrament at the times appointed? Ah! such undutiful children as these, that live in an habitual disobedience to God and his church, deserve not the name of children, or of catholic Christians; and without a sincere conversion from these their evil ways, must expect undoubtedly to be reckoned another day amongst heathens and unbelievers.

Conclude to observe religiously the law and ordinances of the church of God, and see that they be religiously observed by all under our care. If there be a necessity at any time of your being dispensed with in any of these church laws, go to your pastors for this dispensation; but presume not to dispense yourselves. Only the pastor of the church can dispense in the precepts of the church.

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Admin

Administrator
8th Oct.

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ON THE VICE OF PRIDE


Consider first, that pride is an inordinate love, conceit, or desire of self-excellence; or a delight and complacency in one's own self by occasion of some real or imaginary excellency which we have, or pretend to have, either in virtue, or grace, or knowledge, or in any other goods, or qualities, whether eternal or internal, considered merely as the means to make us excel, and as such puffing us up with self-esteem, and causing us to prefer ourselves before others, and to despise others. This pride is the mother of all vices, but more especially of ambition, presumption, and vain-glory; from which it differs only in this, that ambition aims at excelling in the way of honour and dignity, and in being set above others; presumption seeks to excel in the way of great achievements, attempted upon confidence of one's own strength; vain-glory pretends to excellence in the way of glory that is, in the way of being known, praised, and esteemed by others; but pride looks chiefly at herself, and sets up her own proper self-excellence for her idol, which she worships, loves, esteems, and desires above all things, and to which she sacrifices all things else. O deliver us, dear Lord, from this enormous evil, the first-born of Satan, and the original parent both of death and hell.

Consider 2ndly, that Gregory (L. 22, Mor. c.4,) distinguishes in pride four different kinds, or four ways of being guilty of this worst of vices. First, by attributing to one's self, and not to God, the good things we have from him, either of nature or of grace. 2ndly, by ascribing at least to one's own merits what we have received from God, and not giving him the whole glory. 3rdly, by conceiting ourselves to have graces, talents, or perfections which indeed we have not, and being puffed up in ourselves with this imaginary excellence. 4thly, by highly esteeming and valuing ourselves for the graces or good qualities we really have, and applauding ourselves in such a manner with them as to affect to have them of ourselves alone, and to despise others or envy them the like accomplishments. All these, in their nature, are mortal sins when fully consented to, and are of the worst kind of mortal sins; because of all the seven capital vices pride is acknowledged by divines to be the worst, by reason of its extreme opposition to God, in setting itself up as it were in his place, and, Satan-like, lifting up its head against him, and affecting a self-excellence which belongs to God alone. Hence we learn from the apostle, (Rom. i.,) the proud have often been delivered up, and abandoned by God to a reprobate sense, and suffered to fall even into the most shameful and unnatural lusts, in punishment of their self-conceit. O how enormous, then, must the vice of pride be in the eyes of God when the falling into such abominations as these is the punishment of it?

Consider 3rdly, that pride is a mortal sin, not only when one directly incurs the guilt of any of those four kinds or ways mentioned by St. Gregory, by one's own deliberate judgment and will, (at least as often as the matter is of moment,) but also when one incurs the guilt of any of them indirectly or equivalently, by taking such complacency in one's self, or carrying one's self in such a manner to others as if one judged one's self to have, or desired that others should judge one to have, any excellency or perfection of one's self, and not from God. As also when our affection or inclination to our own excellence, or the conceit we have of it, is joined with a great irreverence or injury to God, or a considerable contempt of our neighbour, or detriment to him; or again, when, through love or conceit we have of our own excellence, we withdraw ourselves from the subjection we owe to God and his holy law, or to the authority of superiors established by him. Ah! how common are all these sins? How many ways are poor unhappy mortals daily guilty of this highest of treasons against the divine majesty? And how dreadful are the consequences of this guilt, both in time and eternity.

Conclude to examine well thy conscience upon this head of pride; for it is a subtile evil which often imposes upon poor mortals, insomuch that they who are the most guilty of it oftentimes will not believe themselves to be proud. O take care not to be deceived by this noonday devil! Watch and pray continually against it; spare no pains to cast it out of thy soul. If thou thinkest it has no share in thee thou deceivest thyself; there cannot be a more evident proof of thy being proud than to imagine thyself to be out of the reach of this vice.

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Admin

Administrator
9th Oct.
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ON THE MALIGNITY OF PRIDE


Consider first, the malignity of pride, inasmuch as it corrupts the very vitals of the soul, and leaves nothing sound in it. 'Tis a rottenness at the heart that spoils the fairest plants that grow on this infected soil. The fruits of the good works of the proud are like those that are said to grow on the banks of the Lake of Sodom, fair to the eye but rotten within. Their virtues are blasted, and have nothing but an outward appearance, because the root of them is corrupted. God is not with them, truth is not with them, grace is not with them: they have no foundation within them for any solid good, because they want humility; for God resists the proud and gives his grace to the humble.

Consider 2ndly, the malignity of pride from another point, viz., from its filling the soul with all other evils For this dreadful vice, not content with shutting the gate against grace and against all good, and even changing those that should be the most virtuous actions into crimes, opens wide the door to all manner of sin and iniquity, by setting all the other passions at work, to serve, by all kinds of extravagances, its unbridled appetite after self-excellence. To gratify this predominant passion covetousness is employed to procure, right or wrong, those riches that may furnish the means of excelling, and prodigality in the expending of them. Anger, hatred, and vengeance are let loose against all that thwart or stand in the way of its lawless pretensions. Inferiors are oppressed: they are treated with contempt and scorn; equals are envied as rivals in honour: they are judged, condemned, and slandered; superiors are slighted and disobeyed, & c. not to speak of innumerable other mortal evils, quarrels, murders, rebellious, heresies, blasphemies, and what not, which are frequently the productions of pride, besides all the abominations of lust and all its fatal offspring, to which the proud are so often delivered up in punishment of their arrogance. Sweet Jesus, deliver us from all these evils by teaching us to be meek and humble of heart.

Consider 3rdly, that the malignity of pride is chiefly owing to its opposition to the glory of God and to his divine truth. God is the Being of all beings, all things else without him are nothing; all excellence and all glory is his; we have nothing, excepting sin, but what we can have from him; we know nothing but through him, we can do nothing without hum. To pretend therefore to any excellence, as to our own property, or to any glory as due to us, or to appropriate to ourselves the gifts and graces of God, and to be puffed up with them, and to glory in them as our own, is a sacrilegious robbery of that which belongs to God alone; 'tis attempting to seat ourselves in his throne; 'tis claiming a share in his self-excellence, which is no less essential to him than his self-existence, independence, and infinity. For as none but God can be of himself, so none but God can excel of himself. For this reason 'every proud man is an abomination to the Lord,' Prov. xvi. 4, because he pretends to rival him in his glory, and like the arch-rebel Lucifer, to dispute his prerogative of being alone self-excellent. His pride is a lie, and of the very worst sort of lies, even that which was first framed by the father of lies, in pretending to be like the most high, and therefore it is most hateful to the eternal truth.

Conclude to detest and abhor, and to fly with all thy power from this abominable vice, which is so hateful to God, and so pernicious to all that suffer their souls to be corrupted with it. 'Give ear to the scripture,' Tob. iv. 13, never suffer pride to reign in thy mind, nor in thy words, for from it all perdition took its beginning.

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Admin

Administrator
10th Oct.
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REMEDIES AGAINST PRIDE



Consider first, that in order to overcome thy pride, thou must not only be thoroughly sensible of the malignity of this evil in itself, and of the dreadful consequences of its being suffered to reign in the soul, but must also be convinced that thou thyself art continually in danger from it; that it is an evil deeply rooted in thy own corrupt nature; an obstinate and subtile enemy that will never cease to wage war against thee all thy life long, and that is so much the more dangerous to thee, by how much the less it is apprehended by thee; so that the first and most necessary prescription against pride is to study well, that we may know our corruption in this kind, by the help of a frequent review of our own interior, and of the secret springs that rule and set all our passions to work; that so having rightly discovered the monster that affects to hide itself in the inmost recesses of the soul, we may declare an eternal war against it, by perpetual watching, praying, and fighting, and by frequent repeated acts, both exterior and interior, of the virtue of humility.

Consider 2ndly, that the true knowledge of God and of ourselves, acquired by the daily exercise of meditation and mental prayer, is the sovereign remedy against all manner of pride. For all our pretensions to excellence, all our groundless imaginations, by which we take ourselves for something, all these fumes of self-conceit which are so apt to fly up and to turn our heads upon occasion of any advantages, real or imaginary, which we ascribe to ourselves, are all put to flight when the light of the knowledge of God comes in and takes place in the soul, and shows her that all that is not God is a mere nothing. All human greatness, all power, all height, and depth, and everything that is created, dwindles away and quite vanishes when God appears: 'heaven and earth flee away from before his face, and no place is found for them,' Apoc. xx. 11; how much less can a poor man glory in his sight? O how can earth and ashes be proud in the presence of the immense, eternal, infinite Deity?

Consider 3rdly, that the light of God, which by a diligence in the exercise of mental prayer flows more and more into the soul not only serves to humble us in his sight, and to quell our pride by the sense it gives us of his infinite greatness and majesty, before who we are but wretched worms, and less than nothing; but also helps us to that true knowledge of ourselves which obliges us to vilify and despise ourselves. For here we are made sensible what poor creatures indeed we are, how mean is our extraction: as to the body, from dirt and corruption; as to the soul, from nothing - how early we are infected with sin, how full we are now of all kind of miseries, both corporal and spiritual; what a perpetual repugnance we have to good, and what a violent propensity to evil from our very childhood, how much we are encompassed with darkness, ignorance, and error; exposed daily to innumerable dangers; capable of all that is wicked, and incapable of ourselves of any good; certain of death, (though we know not when, where, nor how,) which will make over these bodies of ours to worms and corruption, and transmit these souls to judgment; and dreadfully uncertain as to the issue of that great trial and our eternal lot. And shall not all this suffice to cure our pride?

Conclude to spare no pains to acquire these two most necessary branches of Christian science, viz., the true knowledge of God, and the true knowledge of yourselves; they are the foundation of true humility and of all good, and to be learnt by meditation and prayer.

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Admin

Administrator
11th Oct.

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Other prescriptions against pride



Consider first, that in order to overcome your pride, it will also be of good service frequently to reflect how vain and empty, fading and perishable those things generally are which men are apt to be proud of, such as worldly honours, riches, beauty, fine clothes, & c. which give no real intrinsic value or worth to the possessors nor serve to make them one whit the better in the sight of God, but on the contrary, if they are proud of them, make them by much the worse, yea, odious and contemptible both to God and man. For every one hates and despises himself, and such as proudly seek to exalt themselves, are generally humbled, both by God and man. And as to the gifts of grace or other talents received from God, it is still more criminal to be proud of them, because the more valuable they are in themselves the greater is the sacrilege in robbing God of the glory of them, by taking pride in them, as if they were our own and not his. O! 'tis humility alone, that is both the guardian and the best ornament of all other virtues; they quickly degenerate and turn into vices when we begin to be proud of them.

Consider 2ndly, that we may also extract an excellent antidote against the poison of pride from the very consideration of the deformity of our pride. For surely, nothing can be more humbling to the soul than to be made rightly sensible of the extravagant folly and madness, as well as the sacrilegious impiety and diabolical presumption she stands guilty of, by lifting up her head against her God, by arrogance and self-conceit. The consequence of which is that she is given up by him, to be possessed at present by the worst of devils, and becomes herself a very devil in his eyes, black, ugly, and odious,, like the devil, and condemned to be a victim of hell with him. And can a soul that seriously considers all this suffer herself to be any longer possessed by pride? Can such an odious monster, when brought out of its dark lurking hole, and set before the eyes of the soul, with all the train of woes that attend and follow it, find any more room in her? O 'tis most true, with regard to mortal sin in general, and to pride in particular, that the deformity and malignity of the guilt of it in the soul, and the eternal punishment of it hereafter, are most humbling considerations. For surely a soul that is turned away from God by mortal sin, and a soul that is eternally banished from him, and given up to the worm that never dies, and to the fire that is never extinguished in the dungeons of hell, can neither of them have anything to be proud of! Mortal sin and hell, those two most dreadful of all evils, leave no room for pride.

Consider 3rdly, who it is that is the king over all the children of pride? Whose standard do they all join in opposition to the God that made heaven and earth? Alas! they all join with Satan their mortal enemy, they follow him against their God, their maker, their redeemer, and their sovereign good. And what expectations can they have for following him for their king who is already himself condemned to hell? Ah! no other than endless confusion, perpetual discontent and uneasiness here, and everlasting damnation hereafter. Oh! it was this joining with the king of pride that has entailed all kinds of miseries upon the sons of Adam. To remedy these the Son of God came down from heaven by the mystery of his incarnation, and humbled himself even to the death of the cross, to oppose the standard of his humanity to the standard of the devil. He calls all men to join his royal standard, by learning of him to be meek and humble of heart, promising to rescue them that follow him from the tyranny and slavery of the wicked one, to give peace and rest to their souls here,and eternal joys hereafter. And shall we balance for one moment which of the two we shall join, the king of pride, or the king of humility, the tyrant of hell or the God of heaven? See here, my soul, most urgent motives to renounce thy pride, and to embrace humility. The one is suggested by Satan, who is damned for it; the other is taught by word and example by the Son of God, who by it has opened heaven for us; the one is the road to hell, the other to heaven.

Conclude to renounce the king of pride with all his pomps, and to shake off this heavy yoke, which never suffers the soul to rest; and instead of it, to take up the sweet yoke of Jesus Christ by meekness and humility, and thou shalt find refreshment here, and heaven hereafter.

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Admin

Administrator
12th Oct.
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ON VAINGLORY


Consider first, that the vice of vainglory is nearly allied to that of pride, and has for its object an imaginary excellence in the way of glory that is in the way of being known and talked of, praised and esteemed by others. See here, my soul, a dangerous vice, not only with regard to the children of the world, whose thoughts, words, and actions are generally influenced by the love of praise, honour, and esteem, or by the fear of what the world will say or think of them; but even with regard to the children of God, who are daily and hourly exposed to its temptations in the very best of their actions, and of their being quite vitiated and corrupted by this plague. This was the vice of the Scribes and Pharisees, who did all their works that they might be honoured and esteemed by men, and therefore their alms, their fasting, their prayers, and other good works availed them nothing in the sight of God, because vainglory corrupted them all, and at the very time that they were esteemed as saints by the world, made them like devils in the eyes of God. Christians, beware of this pernicious evil; watch and pray continually against it.

Consider 2ndly, that vainglory, which is always dangerous, amounts to the guilt of a mortal sin whenever the affection of the heart is so far set upon human applause, praise, or esteem, as to love it as much. or more than God: or, as St. Thomas of Aquin expresses it, when a person directs his attention in such manner to the glory of man as to make it his last end, to which he refers even the works of virtue, and for the sake of which he does not hesitate to offend his God. In like manner, it is a mortal sin when a person seeks vainglory by committing mortal sin; for example, by swearing, quarrelling, taking revenge, & c., to show his courage or to gain the esteem of being a man of honour, or for fear of being blamed or despised by the world. As also when any person, for the sake of maintaining his esteem, or for fear of being thought less skillful or less knowing, refuses to seek or admit of the assistance or counsel of others; and thus exposes himself to the danger of occasioning some considerable detriment, corporal or spiritual, to himself or to others. In fine, vainglory is a mortal sin whenever a man glories in the gifts and graces of God as if they were his own, and as if he had not received them from God. See, my soul, how many ways this love of worldly honour, glory, and praise which modern worldlings, like the ancient pagans, take for a virtue, is condemned by sound Christian morality as a capital vice, which sends innumerable souls to hell.

Consider 3rdly, the malignity of this vice of vainglory from its being the fruitful parent of a numerous offspring of other pernicious evils, oftentimes worse that itself. St. Gregory reckons up seven daughters of this unhappy mother. 1. Disobedience, which despises the ordinances of lawful superiors for the love of one's own worldly honour and esteem. 2. Boasting, that is vaunting or glorifying of one's self, of one's own talent or performances, and ever loving to be talking of one's self, a vice as odious and ridiculous as it is common in the conversation of the proud and vainglorious. 3. Hypocrisy, or making a show of godliness or sanctity to gain the esteem of men. 4. Contention or strife, that is, wrangling, brawling, and quarrelling in words, to maintain one's own opinion, right or wrong, or to defend what one has said or done. 5. Obstinacy in adhering to error rather than to acknowledge one's self to have been deceived, or to seem to yield or to be overcome. 6. Discord, or disagreement of wills and hearts, by occasion of different pretensions and contest for honour and esteem. 7. Invention of novelties in the way of new opinions, new fashions, or rather innovations, brought in to make one's self a name or to procure esteem or applause. See, Christians, what a train of evils are daily produced by vainglory. And what are all heresies and schisms but a compound of these same evils, and consequently the productions also of vainglory?

Conclude to keep a strict guard against this dangerous enemy of the soul as it will rob thee of all good and fill thee with all evil. Daily pray with the royal prophet, 'Turn away my eyes, O Lord, that they look not upon vanity;' and as often as in thy words or actions thou findest thyself attacked with the suggestions of this vice say with the same prophet, 'not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy name give glory.'

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Admin

Administrator
13th Oct.

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On the prescriptions against vainglory


Consider first, in order to cure this unhappy vice of vainglory - which is so deeply rooted in our corrupt nature - how little title we have to pretend to any honour, praise, or esteem from any one - we, who have so often and so grievously offended the creator of all, and who, if we were to be treated according to our deserts, ought rather to be despised and trampled under foot by all men, yea, to be detested and abhorred by all God's creatures. For there is something so black, so odious, so filthy and abominable in wilful sin that even toads and snakes, were they capable of knowing it, would hate and fly from the unhappy wretches that are stained with it. What pretensions, then, can such wretched sinners as we have to any honour, praise, and esteem, whilst we are conscious to ourselves of mortal sin? No other surely than the damned in hell. And can there be any room for vainglory there?

Consider 2ndly, how truly vain, how empty, how short how inconstant is all human glory and all the praise and esteem of men: 'tis like a puff of wind, which passes in a moment, and makes us not one jot the better in ourselves; it adds nothing to us in the sight of God, the just and true, and eternal judge of all merit. O give ear to the devout a' Kempis, 1. iii c. 50, 'The sentiments of men are often wrong in their judgments - what is a man the better for being reputed greater by man? One deceitful man deceives another: one vain man deceives another; the blind deceive the blind; the weak the weak whilst he extols him; and, in truth, doth rather confound him, whist he vainly praises him: for how much each one is in thy eyes, O Lord, so much he is, and no more, saith the humble St. Francis.' and again, chap. xiv., 'What is all flesh in thy sight O Lord? How can he be puffed up with the vain talk of men whose heart in truth is subjected to God? He will never suffer himself to be moved with the tongues of them that praise him who hath established his whole confidence in God. for behold, all they that talk of him are all nothing; for they shall pass away with the sound of their word, but ''the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.'' ' Ps. cxvi.

Consider 3rdly, that this passion for glory, honor, praise, and esteem, is not only highly unreasonable, foolish, and vain: but 'tis unjust too, 'tis impious, 'tis pernicious. 'Tis unjust and impious - because it tends to rob God of his glory, and to usurp what belongs to him alone; inasmuch as it pretends to appropriate to itself the glory of God's gifts, which he has reserved for himself. 'What hast thou,' said the apostle, 'that thou hast not received? and if thou hast received, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?' 1 Cor. iv. 7. 'Tis also pernicious, inasmuch as it robs man of the reward of his good works, and even poisons the best of his actions, and exposes the actor to the danger of being eternally published for those very works for which he expected an eternal crown. 'O take heed,' saith our Lord, 'that you do not do your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven,' Matt. vi. 1. No: no other reward, but that of the Scribes and Pharisees, against whom he pronounces his woes, because 'they did all their works to be seen by men, and loved the uppermost seats, and salutations and titles,' Matt. xxiii., 'and justify themselves before men;' but, said he, 'God knoweth your hearts; for that which is high to men is an abomination before God,' Luke xvi. 14. Ah! it was this love of human glory that stood chiefly in their way, and hindered them from submitting to the faith and simplicity of the gospel; for 'how can you believe,' saith our Lord to them, John v. 44, who 'receive glory one from another; and the glory, which is from God alone, you do not seek.' so pernicious it is to the soul to be a slave to vainglory.

Conclude, O my soul, for thy part, ever to seek the glory of God, by a purity of intention, in all thy words and actions; and God will reward thee exceeding great. If what thou art saying or doing be right in his eyes, it matters not what the world thinks or says of thee, or of thy performances; but if he disapproves of thy conduct, it will be of no service to thee to be esteemed and applauded by the whole world. 'for he that has a mind to be praised by men, whilst he is dispraised by God, shall not be justified by men, when he shall be judged by God, nor rescued by men, when he shall be condemned by God.' St. Augustine, Confess. 1. x. - c. 36.

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Admin

Administrator
14th Oct.
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ON THE VICE OF COVETOUSNESS


Consider first, that the vice of covetousness consists in having too great a love, desire, or concern for money, or other worldly goods and possession; so as to set one's heart upon them; to be uneasy and solicitous about them; to cover them eagerly when absent, to take too great a complacency in them when present, and to make them the darling of one's affections. The malignity of this vice may easily be discovered from its opposition to God and to his worship, and to every branch of divine charity: which is so great, that in the language of the scripture, covetousness is named the serving of idols, and the covetous man is declared to be an idolater, Eph. v. 5, Coloss. iii. 5, because he worships and loves his money more than God; and what is idolatry, but 'worshipping and serving the creature rather than the creator'? Rom. i. 25. Yes, the covetous man serves mammon, the god of this world, more than the living God of heaven; for the love of mammon he turns his back upon his maker, neglects his love and service, and is ever ready to break through his heavenly law and commandments, rather than forego his worldly interests, to which he sacrifices his soul and all; and for the sake of which he hardens his heart against the necessities of his neighbours, and the cries of the poor. O, how evidently is here verified that of the wise man, Ecclus. x. 10, 'There is not a more wicked thing than to love money, for such a one setteth even his own soul to sale.'

Consider 2ndly, the malignity of this vice of loving money, from its unhappy offspring, that is from the innumerable evils which it daily produces. It is the mother of theft and robbery, of fraud and deceit, of oppression of the poor, of usury and extortion, and of all manner of injustice; it employs innumerable lies and perjuries to support its darling idol. It is the parent of bribery and corruption, and of all the sad consequences this evil produces in the world. It even creeps into the sanctuary, and too often profanes it with manifold abuses and sacrileges. It has often brought forth heresies and schisms too, 1 Tim. vi. 10; and with them a deluge of other crimes; it has pillaged and destroyed churches, hospitals, and monasteries, and invaded and carried off the patrimony of the poor. It has even betrayed and sold the Son of God himself. O cursed love of money! How long shalt thou thus, like a second deluge,drown the whole world? When shall thy tyranny have an end? Wilt thou never cease to fill the world with all sorts of crimes, and hell with souls?

Consider 3rdly, that this vice of covetousness, besides all this brood of evils, which it daily brings forth, produces many other sad effects in the soul of man, even when it does not hurry him into those more scandalous excesses specified above; and when, in the eyes of the world, it appears more innocent. For where a person, though he covets not perhaps the goods of his neighbour, yet sets his affection too much upon riches or worldly possessions, and eagerly pursues after money, he quickly loses all relish for heavenly things, and all true sense of devotion: his heart is filled with the love of the world, and with many cares and anxious solicitudes about the things of the world, which, like thorns, choke up the seed of the word and the grace of God, and hinder it from bringing forth the fruits of faith, hope, and charity, in their due time. The love of riches overpowers his love of God and of his neighbour; the care of his eternal salvation is no longer his principal concern; he loses that confidence he ought to have in divine providence; he neglects religious duties; he does not give alms according to his circumstances; in a word he is continually in danger of breaking through the law of God, by commission, or omission, for the love of money: so dreadful are the consequences of covetousness, even when it pretends to keep itself within the bounds of justice!

Conclude to beware of this vice of covetousness, as of one of the worst of the enemies of thy soul; so much the more dangerous to thee, as it is too apt to impose upon persons, with specious pretexts of worldly prudence, and of necessity; insomuch that oftentimes they who are the most covetous, and whose heart is quite set upon this worldly mammon, are scarce sensible of their disease, however grievous and mortal. O take care, my soul, not to deceive thyself, nor to suffer thyself to be deceived. Examine well the bent of thy thoughts, and of the affections of thy heart, and thou wilt easily discover where thy treasure is.

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Admin

Administrator
15th Oct.

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On prescriptions against covetousness out of Holy Writ


Consider first, in what manner the word of God, in innumerable places, declares itself against this vice of covetousness. The wise man tells us, Prov. i. 19. that 'the ways of every covetous man destroy the soul of the possessor.' and Ecclesiasticus, 9, that 'nothing is more wicked than a covetous man.' Isaias, chap. v. 9, pronounces a woe against the covetous; and chap. xxxiii. 15, promises eternal blessings to them that cast away covetousness. Jeremias threatens the Jews with the worst of evils, chap. vi. and viii., because from the least to the greatest they all were given to covetousness. Amos also, ix. 1, and Habacuc ii. 6, 9, denounce the like judgments and woes from God against the covetous. Our Lord himself, Mark viii. 22, reckons covetousness amongst those crimes of the heart that defile a man. And St. Paul, Rom. i. 29, gives it a place in that black list of sins, of which he pronounces, v. 32, 'that they who do such things are worthy of death,' even the second death of a miserable eternity. And again, 1 Cor. vi. 10, he declares that the covetous shall never possess the kingdom of God. And Eph. v. 5, that 'they have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ.' And shall not the thunder of so many terrible sentences, pronounced by the Spirit of God against covetousness, deter Christians from this unhappy love of money?

Consider 2ndly, from the word of God, that these riches, which men so earnestly covet, are not capable of making them happy, or of satisfying the heart. 'A covetous man,' saith Solomon, Eccles. v. 9, 'shall not be satisfied with money, and he that loveth riches shall reap no fruit from them.' Daily experience confirms to us the truth, which this wisest of men had learned by his own experience, that the wealth of this world, instead of bringing along with it true content and peace to the soul, is generally attended with nothing but 'vanity and vexation of mind,' Eccles. ii. 11. Riches are deceitful, St. Matt. xiii., because they promise a happiness which they cannot give; they are thorns that wound and gore the soul, and they expose the possessors to many dreadful dangers of losing their souls for ever; because it is hard to possess them and not to abuse them, or put confidence in them, or at least set the heart too much upon them; witness that terrible sentence, Matt. xix. 24, 'It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.' Hence our Lord pronounces a woe to the rich, Luke vi. 24, 'because they have their consolation here.' and the apostle, 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10, warns us against the love of riches, as of all things the most dangerous and pernicious to our souls. O that men would be wise, and lay up in their heart these scripture truths! O that they would learn to despise these false riches, and only seek for such as are true, which men can never give nor take away! O that they would always seek to be rich in good works, and so to 'lay up to themselves treasures in heaven, where neither rust nor moth can consume, nor thieves break through and steal'! Matt. vi. 20.

Consider 3rdly, that the word of God recommend the remembrance of death, and the shortness and uncertainty of human life, as a powerful remedy against covetousness. Alas! how quickly will death be with us! And where shall our riches be then! 'I will say to my soul,' saith the rich man, Luke xii. 19, 20, 'thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thy rest, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said to him: Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be called for, and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?' O how true it is, with regard to the worldly rich, that the satisfaction which they take, or promise to themselves in their wealth, is at the best but a dream, and that when they have slept out their short sleep, 'they find nothing in their hands,' Ps. lxxv. No: 'we brought nothing with us into the world and certainly we can carry nothing out,' 1 Tim. vi. 7. 'wherefore having food and wherewith to be covered, let us be content.' Now these necessaries will never be wanting to such as seek in the first place 'the kingdom of God and his justice' - we have Christ's own word for it, Matt. vi. 33. Give ear again to the apostle, Heb xiii. 5, 'Let your manners be without covetousness, contented with such things as you have;' for he hath said: 'I will not leave thee, neither will I forsake thee.'

Conclude to oppose these divine lessons against all the temptations of covetousness and worldly solicitude. If you are poor by condition, be content with your condition; you are more like Jesus Christ and his saints. Take care not to lose by your murmuring or impatience, the opportunity he gives you of merit. If you are rich, take occasion of humbling yourselves, to see the wide distance between your way of living and that of your Saviour. Dread the dangers you are exposed to by your riches, and arm yourselves against them, by poverty of spirit and humility - you have no other security for your souls.

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Admin

Administrator
16th Oct.

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ON THE VICE OF IMPURITY


Consider first, that the lust of the flesh, or the inordinate love of the unclean pleasures of the flesh, is another raging plague that has spread itself over the whole earth, and as it once brought down from heaven the waters of the deluge which drowned all the world, and another time fire and brimstone, which consumed whole cities, with all their inhabitants, so it daily calls down the vengeance of heaven, executed by visible and invisible judgments upon thousands, who are cut off before their time in the midst of their sins, and cast down headlong into the bottomless pit. The scripture has abundantly declared how detestable this vice is in the sight of God, by positively assuring us in many places, that such as are guilty of it in any of its kinds, shall never enter the kingdom of heaven, (Rom. i., I Cor. vi., Gal. v., Eph. v., Apoc. xxi., and xxii.,) and in particular, in the account it gives of the causes of the deluge, Gen. vi., by informing us that the general wickedness of men in this line was so odious in the sight of their maker, that he was grieved with it to the heart, and even 'repented him that he made them,' ver. 5, 6, 7. By which strong figures of speech, the Holy Spirit would have us to understand, how enormous this vice of impurity is in the eyes of God, seeing that he who by nature is incapable of grief, or repentance, or any other passion, was determined by the hatred he bore to it, to destroy all these his creatures, whom before he had so much favoured and loved.

Consider 2ndly, that what makes the vice of the lust of the flesh so odious in the sight of God, is its particular opposition to his purity and sanctity, by it defiling in a most shameful and beastly manner that temple which he has sanctified for himself, and this more especially with regard to Christians, whose bodies and souls have both of them been dedicated and consecrated to him in their baptism, both of which, by yielding to impurity, are shamefully violated and profaned, are brought down to the resemblance of brute beasts, and given up to be the hold of unclean devils. 'Know you not that you are the temple of God,' saith St. Paul, speaking to all Christians, 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17, 'and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him will God destroy.' And again, chap. vi. 15, 'Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ,' & c. and (v. 19,) 'the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God. And you are not your own, for you are bought with a great price; glorify and carry God in your body.' O Christians, attend to this heavenly doctrine, and see you never more presume to be guilty of so crying sacrilege, as to profane and defile the temple of the living God; to drive him out of his temple, and to set up filthy idols in his place; see you never bring in the devil thither, and sacrifice your soul to him, for the sake of a base, filthy, carnal satisfaction, that can last but for a moment.

Consider 3rdly, the dreadful consequences of yielding to the vice of impurity, and the dismal slavery to which it reduces the soul. One act presently begets a habit or violent inclination; this drags the poor soul on to new crimes, and by indulging these a custom is formed, which turns into a second nature, infinitely hard to be overcome, and which, without ceasing, exercises a most cruel tyranny upon the soul. Hence follow all those worst of evils, which St. Gregory (l. xxvi. Morl. c. 31) calls the daughters of luxury, or lust, as being the usual effects of a habit of impurity, viz., a blindness and hardness of heart; a running headlong into the worst of dangers; a thoughtlessness and insensibility with regard to the judgments of God and the truths of eternity; an inconstancy with regard to everything that is good; an aversion to God and to his service, and a perpetual love and seeking of one's self; a strong attachment to this world, and a horror or despair with regard to the world to come. Such is the unhappy offspring of lust - a train of evils not to be matched on this side of hell. Sweet Jesus, deliver us from this detestable vice.

Conclude to fly from all impurity more than death, and from all the dangerous company or other occasions that may expose thee to temptations in this kind more than from a house infected with the plague. The pestilence can only take away the temporal life of the body, but impurity will kill the soul for eternity.

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Admin

Administrator
17th Oct.

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ON PRESCRIPTIONS AGAINST IMPURITY


Consider first, that the most necessary of all prescriptions and precautions against impurity is to keep at a distance from the danger and to fly all the immediate occasions of it, more especially the company and conversation of all such persons as are a temptation to us; as also the reading of loose or idle books, such as romances, plays, & c., the frequenting of masquerades and comedies; the indulging too much the sensual appetite in eating and drinking; the giving too great a liberty to the eyes, (which are the windows through which the death of lust usually enters into the soul,) or to roving imaginations and dangerous amusements, and the leading of an idle and dissipated life. The indulging of one's self in all or any of these ways opens the gates of the soul to lust, and 'he that loves the danger shall perish in it,' Ecclus. iii. 27. This enemy is ever lying in wait for us to shoot his fiery darts at our heart; we must, then, be always upon our guard, and keep ourselves as much as possible out of his reach; we must take approach of danger; we must not play nor daily with him by taking or admitting of any freedoms or liberties, even of a lesser degree: he that will venture to play with a wild beast must expect a mortal gripe. If our Lord has assured us, (Matt. v. 28,) that a wanton glance of the eye is capable of bringing death to the soul, how much more a wanton touch or embrace?

Consider 2ndly, that our corrupt nature is so prone to this evil of impurity, and the allurements and temptations to it are so common, and withal so violent, especially in youth, that the flight of the occasions alone will not suffice to gain the victory over this vice without frequent conflicts; (for whither shall we fly where the flesh and the devil will not follow us?) and therefore it will be also necessary for us to fight, and consequently to provide ourselves with proper arms for this warfare; and as we are not strong enough of ourselves to overcome such formidable enemies, we must engage heaven on our side, in order to secure the victory. This infers the necessity, if we would get the better of lust, of a diligence in all spiritual exercises; of frequent and fervent prayer; of frequenting the sacraments; of daily reading and meditating on divine truths; of having frequent recourse to the precious blood of Christ, the source of all grace, by a constant devotion to his sacred passion and death, and of earnestly craving the prayers and intercession of the blessed Virgin and of all the holy angels and saints. More especially, when we find ourselves assaulted with these temptations, we must resolutely resist the first motions of the enemy by turning ourselves immediately to Jesus Christ crucified; calling upon him with all our power, "Lord, save me, or I perish;' hiding ourselves in his wounds, and not ceasing to implore his mercy and grace till the temptation ceases.

Consider 3rdly, what kind of arms we must provide for this warfare, viz., a lively faith and a strong confidence in Jesus Christ, joined with an humble diffidence in our own strength, (for if we have any dependence on the strength of our own resolutions we shall certainly fall,) a sense also of the presence of God, and above all things the fear and love of God. The fear of his divine judgments that always hand over the heads of wilful sinners; the remembrance of the approaches of death; the consideration of the worm that shall never die, and of the fire that shall never be quenched, prepared for the punishment of lust, are certainly powerful restraints to keep the soul from consenting to a crime which she has reason to apprehend may be followed the next moment by death, judgment, and hell. but the love of God is a still more powerful restraint; because it discovers such charms in his infinite beauty and infinite goodness as make all the allurements of lust appear not only most wretched and contemptible, but also most odious and abominable.

Conclude to make use of all these prescriptions against this mortal enemy of thy soul. Fly whenever thou art able, for this is a war in which thou art not allowed to seek the occasions of meeting the enemy or of facing him. When thou canst not fly, fight; but with thy eye turned away from the enemy, and fixed on Christ crucified. Make a good provision for thyself by the help of daily meditations on the fear and love of God, and he will give thee the victory.

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