Today's contemplation

Admin

Administrator
8th Nov.
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ONE THING IS NECESSARY. LUKE X. 42


Consider first, O my soul, and open thy eyes to the great light of this divine sentence of thy Saviour: 'One thing is necessary.' It will be of infinite service to thee to dispel the darkness and mists that encompass thee on all sides, and to direct all thy steps to the sovereign truth, to the sovereign good. Alas! what a multiplicity of cares and concerns about empty vanities and worldly toys, is apt to take up our whole mind and heart. What a variety of amusements distract our thoughts! In what a dissipation do we generally live! How little is there of God in our daily conversation! How few of our words or actions are referred to him! Oh! 'tis too true that we let everything else take the place of that only business for which we came into this world! And yet all this other variety and multiplicity which employs all our thoughts, words, and actions, is just nothing at all to our purpose, whereas upon that one business our all depends for all eternity.

Consider 2ndly, what this one thing necessary is, that is here recommended by our Lord. Doubtless, 'tis nothing else but the dedicating ourselves to the love and service of our God, in order to the securing the eternal salvation of our souls. O! 'vanity of vanities, and all is vanity, but the loving of God, and the serving him alone.' - Kempis. Yes, my soul this is our only business, this is the business for which alone we came into this world; nothing else deserves to be called our business; whatever our employment or calling be in the world, it must be ever subordinate to this great business; all our thoughts, words, and deeds, should ever tend to God, and to our eternal salvation. Whatever takes us off from attending to this great business is hurtful, it is pernicious to us; whatever has no tendency to this one thing necessary, is all quite idle and vain. O, 'what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' Matt. xvi. 26.

Consider 3rdly, those words of our saviour, Matt. vi. 33, 'seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.' This kingdom of God, which we are here commanded to seek in the first place, is the kingdom of grace in our souls, 'tis the kingdom of divine love this kingdom of God is within us, Luke xvii. 21. It must be established in our own interior. This justice of God is that by which he makes us just indeed, through the merits of the blood of his Son Jesus Christ the just; `'tis the charity of God which is poured forth into our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us,' Rom. v. 5. This kingdom of divine love, this justice and charity of God in our souls, we must continually aspire to; this must be the first and greatest object of our longing desires; this we must seek with all our power, for this we must always pray with all the fervour of our hearts. And as to all things else, as far as they are proper and necessary for us, our heavenly Father will not fail to furnish us with them. We have his divine word engaged for it.

Conclude to follow, in the practice of thy life, these divine lessons of light and truth, by considering henceforward the love and service of thy God, and the salvation of thy soul, as thy only business, and all other concerns, compared with this, as nothing to thee. O take care of this one thing necessary and all shall be will with thee, both for time and eternity.

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Admin

Administrator
9th Nov.

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Strive to enter by the arrow gate, Luke xiii.24


Consider first, how the light of Christ in the gospel represents to us the broad road of the world as infinitely dangerous to our souls, and as directly leading to the wide gate of eternal damnation. 'Enter ye in at the narrow gate,' saith he, Matt. vii. 13, 14, 'for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. Oh, how narrow is the gate, and how strait is the way that leadeth to life, and few there are that find it!' Here we see there are two ways in which men walk in this life, and two gates out of this life into eternity. One of these ways is broad and spacious, agreeable to the world and to the flesh, and crowded with great multitudes of slaves to the world and to the flesh, whom it conducts down the hill to a wide gate, by which they no sooner enter than they suddenly slip down a precipice into the bottomless pit of a miserable eternity. The other way is strait and narrow, rough and craggy, by reason of the restraints it puts upon the liberties and passions of worldlings, and its disagreeableness to the corrupt inclinations of flesh and blood; and therefore few, in comparison, care to walk in it, but these few, by the favour of heaven, walk on cheerfully towards the gate of life, assisted and comforted by Jesus Christ;, whom they follow, and with him and through him are happily introduced by this narrow gate into the most spacious and most beautiful regions of never-ending bliss. See, my soul, which of these two ways thou art disposed to choose, and make that choice now which thou shalt be glad to have made for all eternity.

Consider 2ndly, what it is that engages such numbers of Christians to walk on with so little concern, in the broad road that leads to destruction, in spite of this solemn declaration of the gospel, and of the light of our faith. Oh! 'tis their want of thinking; 'tis their wilfully shutting their eyes against the light, and so running blindfold to the precipice; 'tis in the language of the wise man (Wisdom vi. 12), their being quite bewitched with worldly toys, and cheating vanities; 'tis a downright folly and madness, which they shall loudly condemn in hell, for all eternity. Alas, how unhappy are they! How wretchedly blind indeed, to profess themselves Christians - that is followers of Christ - and yet to believe and follow the maxims of the world, rather than the maxims of the gospel of Jesus Christ: to obey the laws of the world, of the flesh, and of the devil, their mortal enemies, rather than the ordinances of their Saviour; to prefer lies, deceit, and empty vanity before truth; darkness before light; slavery before liberty; misery before happiness; hell before heaven; and Satan before God! My soul, see thou never make so wretched a choice. Let not the world, the flesh, and the devil, drag thee along with them in the broad road of perdition; it would be a sad thing to go to hell for company's sake. O choose the narrow way of self-denial and true devotion, in the company of Christ and his saints, and thou shalt live with them for ever.

Consider 3rdly, the frightful sentence, repeated more than once by our Lord, in the gospel: 'many are called but few are chosen': for it has a very close connexion with what he has said above of the broad road that leads to eternal woe, and the narrow way that leads to everlasting life. Yes, Christians, many are called, but few are chosen: because the far greater part of mortals are fond of the broad road which gratifies their passions and corrupt inclinations; and prefer the highway of the world; the way of self-love; the way of lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and of the pride of life - before the narrow way of self-denial and of the love of God, which is less agreeable to flesh and blood. God, on his part, is infinitely good and merciful; he desires that all should be saved and should come to the knowledge of the truth; and his Son Christ Jesus gave himself a redemption for all, 1 Tim. ii. 4, 6. If then but few are chosen, it cannot be for want of good-will in God; but for want of a correspondence on the part of man. It is for want of compliance with the necessary conditions of salvation, the chiefest of which is the keeping of the divine commandments. In a word, 'tis because men choose rather to walk in the broad road than in the narrow; which, in fact, is choosing hell before heaven. So that the reason why they are not chosen, is because they have no real mind to be chosen.

Conclude to keep off, in the practice of thy life, from the broad road of the children of this world, and to walk in the narrow way of the children of light, by living always in the fear of God and keeping his commandments; and thou shalt not fail of being of the number of the chosen.


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Admin

Administrator
10th Nov.

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No man can serve two masters, Mat. vi. 24


Consider first, this great principle of Christian morality, laid down by our Lord in the gospel, no man can serve two masters; by which he gives us to understand, that there is no such thing as serving him and saving our souls, if at the same time we are serving the world, the flesh, or the devil. For these are enemies to God, and claim a service of us which our great master absolutely disallows; so that we cannot please them, without displeasing him; nor be friends to them, without being enemies to him. Christians, we have all manner of obligations to serve our God. He is our only true master; he is our first beginning, and our last end; he is our creator, and our redeemer; infinitely good in himself and infinitely good to us. He is the source of our very being, and of all our good: we came into the world for nothing else but to serve him: to his service we were solemnly dedicated, when we were first made Christians: the serving him is to make us happy both in time and eternity. But what pretensions can the world, the flesh, or the devil, have to our service? Or what obligations have we to them? They are all of them mortal enemies to our true welfare, and to the eternal salvation of our souls; if we serve them, they will make us miserable for ever. O let us then never be so wretched, so mad, so wicked, as to put them in competition with God, or to withdraw any part of our service from our God, (to whom it is all due,) to bestow it upon these traitors and rebels, who are enemies to all that is good.

Consider 2ndly, the particular application which our Lord makes of this principle, to warn us against the love and service of mammon, that is of worldly riches, of filthy lucre, of money, and of all the other perishable goods, as we call them, of this deluded and deluding world: you cannot serve, said he, both God and mammon. No man has any inclination to serve the devil, for his own sake, or out of any love that he can have for this filthy monster; but this wicked enemy makes use of the mammon of the world, and of the allurements of the flesh, as baits, to draw poor unthinking souls to him, and to engage them in his slavery for the sake of these perishable toys, which he points out to them as if they were solid goods, so as to fix their affections upon them, to the prejudice of the love and service of their maker. Therefore both here and in many other places of Holy Writ, we are warned against these baits of Satan, and especially against the love and service of this mammon of iniquity, as inconsistent with the love and service of God, and destructive of the salvation of our souls; because 'tis setting up an idol in opposition to the living God; and loving and serving the creature, instead of the creator, who is blessed for evermore. Dear Lord, preserve us from being ever guilty of any such treason.

Consider 3rdly, that as we cannot serve both God and mammon, so we cannot serve both God and pleasure; we cannot serve both God and pride; we cannot serve both God and our impure affections, or our unhappy self-love, which is the source of all our evils. And so in general, with regard to everything else - the love of which takes us off from the love and service of the living God - it always holds good, that we cannot serve both the creator and the creature. Our God is a jealous lover; he will allow of no love but what is quite regular and orderly, and kept in subjection to the love of him. He declares against a divided heart; Osea x. 2, 'Their heart is divided,' said he, 'now they shall perish.' He claims the whole heart as his own due. He will allow of no rival there. He expects to reign there without a partner. See, my soul, upon what conditions God will accept of thee. Thou must be wholly his without reserve, or he will not receive thee. In the offering thou makest of thyself to his divine service, thou must take care not to keep back, by fraud, any part, like Ananias and Saphira, Acts v., lest thou fall under the like judgment that they did.

Conclude to admit of no other master of thy heart and affection but the God that made thy heart for himself, and all things else for thee. None but he can fill thy heart: all other things are just nothing at all when compared with him. Fear him alone: love him alone: give thy whole self to him alone: thus shalt thou be wholly his and he holly thine, for all eternity.

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Admin

Administrator
11th Nov.

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He went away sad.....



He that doth not renounce all tat he possesseth,
cannot be my disciple, Luke xiv. 33


Consider first, that every Christian, as such, ought to be a disciple of Jesus Christ - the very name of Christian implies as much - and the first Christians were originally known and distinguished by no other name than that of disciples, that is of scholars, and followers of this heavenly master. See then, my soul, what the character of a Christian obliges thee to, by the declaration of the Son of God himself. If thou wilt be a disciple of Christ, if thou wilt be a Christian indeed, and to the purpose of securing to thyself that happy eternity with the living God that is prepared for Christ's true disciples, thou must renounce all things else, how near or dear soever they may be to thee, to follow him. Thou must renounce them, if not in effect, at least in affection, by taking off thy heart from them, and transferring it to thy only sovereign good; and thou must renounce them in effect too, as often, and as far, as they stand in thy way, so as to hinder thee from following Christ. This is the great and fundamental lesson of practical Christianity; this is the abridgement of the gospel; to give up all, that thou mayest find all: to be disengaged from the creature, that thou mayest be united to the creator.

Consider 2ndly, that our Lord explains this obligation of our renouncing all things else, in order to be his disciples, by two comparisons: the one of a man who purposes to build a tower, but first sits down to reckon up the charges, to see if he has wherewithal to finish the work; the other of a king who is going to wage war against another king, but first considers whether he has sufficient forces to encounter his adversary. Every Christian is highly concerned in these two comparisons: inasmuch as every Christian, if he desires to be happy for ever, must raise a spiritual building here, upon the foundation which is Christ; a building that may be proof against all storms and inundations; a tower that may stand for ever; and every Christian is engaged in a warfare against the prince of darkness, and all his allies; wherein if he does not come off with victory, he must be miserable for all eternity. Therefore the Christian must sit down, and must reckon up the necessary charges of this building, to see that he may be able to finish it: and he must take care to secure to himself sufficient forces, to enable him to carry on this war, and to subdue the enemy. Now 'tis by renouncing all things else to follow Christ, that we are associated to him and made partakers of all his treasures; and we are enabled both to elevate our building even to heaven, and to overthrow all the powers of hell.

Consider 3rdly, how true it is that our affections to the things of this world are indeed the chiefest hindrance to us; as well in carrying on our spiritual building, as in our conflicts with our spiritual enemies. The builder will make no progress in his building, if instead of applying himself seriously to the work he has undertaken, he loses his time in amusing himself about other things nothing to his purpose; or if he has taken little or no care to procure the necessary materials; or even suffers his hands and feet to be shackled, when he should be at work. 'Tis the case of all such Christians as have not yet mortified their affections to the things of the world. These, alas! take up their thoughts; these employ their time; what should be expended in carrying on the great building, is all wasted upon these; and the builder lies grovelling upon the earth, tied down with the chains of his misplaced affections. And as for the wrestling in which we are engaged with the spirit of wickedness, it is no less certain that nothing gives them a greater hold on us than our unmortified affections to these worldly toys. It is like carrying a load of clothes about us, when we are to wrestle with one that is stript; who will be sure by that occasion to have the advantage of us. Therefore we who are to wrestle with the devil, who is naked, must fling off our garments, with St. Gregory, (Homil. 32,) by renouncing our worldly affections, or we shall be sure to be brought down by him.

Conclude to make it thy perpetual study to take off thy affections from all things of the earth, and to disregard the creature, that thou mayest find the creator. And seeing that a great grace is required for this, which may untie the soul from all that is not God, and carry her up upon the wings of the dove to rest eternally in him, continually pray for his grace.

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Admin

Administrator
12th Nov.

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If any man will come after me, let him deny himself. Matt. xvi. 24


Consider first, that the disciple of Jesus Christ, by the rule of the gospel, is not only obliged to renounce, (at least in affection,) all things else for the sake of his master, but what is the hardest of all, he must also renounce and deny himself. And this his renouncing of himself is absolutely insisted upon by our Lord, as the first, the most essential, and the most indispensable condition for every one that would come after him, and belong to him. Yes, Christians, there is that irreconcilable opposition between this self, strangely corrupted by sin, surrounded with darkness, and bent upon evil, and the purity and sanctity of Jesus Christ, and the bright light of his truth, that there is no coming, in a proper manner, at the one without renouncing the other; there is no coming at divine charity, which teaches us to love our God with our whole heart, (the principal of all Christian duties,) without declaring an eternal war with self-love, the capital enemy to the love of God, and the parent of all vices. And therefore we are not only commanded in the gospel to renounce and to deny ourselves, in order to follow Christ, but also to hate ourselves, or as it is expressed in the original, (Luke xiv. 26, and John xii. 25,) to hate our souls in this world in order to save them in the next. See, my soul, upon what conditions thou art to be a disciple of the Son of God; thou must not only renounce all things else, thou must also renounce and hate thyself too.

Consider 2ndly, the grounds upon which is founded this strict obligation of denying and of renouncing ourselves in this world: namely, that we may be in a proper condition to give ourselves up entirely to God; and thus leaving ourselves, may find him, and be eternally his. So that in effect, this denying and renouncing ourselves is the best way we can have of loving ourselves, because it procures us the greatest good, and brings us to our sovereign good. As on the other hand, that unhappy self-seeking and loving to gratify ourselves brings misfortunes upon us, both for time and eternity. If then we are to renounce the affections to all things else, in order to follow Christ, lest the love of them should divide our heart, and take it off from him - how much more are we to renounce self-love for the love of him, as being much stronger than all our other affections; and far more apt to captivate our heart and shut out the love of God? Yes, my soul, thy self-love is indeed the greatest enemy both of thy God, and of thy own true and everlasting welfare, and therefore thou must not only renounce it, but abhor it too, with almost perfect hatred, and turn all thy forces against it in order to abolish and destroy it.

Consider 3rdly, and attend to the sentiments of a great servant of God upon this subject. 'My son, thou must give all for all, and be nothing of thy own. Know that the love of thyself is more hurtful to thee than anything in the world... Thou canst not possess perfect liberty unless thou wholly deny thyself. All self-seekers and self-lovers are bound in fetters, full of desires, full of cares, unsettled and seeking always their own ease, and not the things of Jesus Christ, but oftentimes devising and framing that which shall not stand; for all shall come to nothing that proceeds not from God. Take this short and perfect word: "Forsake all, and thou shalt find all; leave thy desires, and thou shalt find rest." Consider this well, and when thou shalt have put it in practice, thou shalt understand all things.' - Following of Christ, 1. iii., c. 27 and 32. And again: "Son, as much as thou canst go out of thyself, so much shall thou be able to enter into me. As the desiring of nothing abroad brings peace at home, so the relinquishing thyself interiorly joins thee to God. I will have thee learn the perfect renouncing of thyself in my will, without contradiction or complaint. Follow me, I am the way, the truth, and the life. If thou wilt be my disciple, deny thyself,' c. 56. My soul, let these be thy sentiments also, and strive to conform thy practice to them.

Conclude to give up both thyself and all things else to follow Christ, and by following him to come at thy sovereign good, and to enjoy him for all eternity. If thou wert to give ten thousand worlds to purchase such a treasure, all that thou wouldst give would fall infinitely short of the value of it.

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Admin

Administrator
13th Nov.

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Except your justice exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not
enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Matt. v. 20


Consider first, how much it concerns us all to know what we must do to save our souls; and what kind of justice that is, what degree of virtue is necessary to bring us to heaven, lest we deceive ourselves, or let ourselves be imposed upon by the enemy with false appearances and outward show, and catching at the shadow of virtue, lose the substance of it, and our souls into the bargain. The Scribes and Pharisees were the most precise among the Jews, and professed the greatest zeal for the law of God and the true religion; they prayed much,, they gave large alms, and they fasted frequently; so that they passed for saints amongst the people; and yet we are here assured by the mouth of truth itself, that except our virtue exceeds theirs, we shall have no share in his heavenly kingdom. See then, my soul, and examine well in what their justice was defective; that so thou mayest avoid their defects, lest thou perish with them; for why shouldst thou suffer thyself to be deluded, to the loss both of thy God and of thyself, for all eternity?

Consider 2ndly, that the justice of the Scribes and of the Pharisees was many ways deficient; but more especially in this, that it contented itself with reforming and regulating the outside, whilst it neglected the interior, which is the true seat of Christian justice. They 'made clean the outside of the cup, and of the platter, whilst their inside was full of iniquity,' Luke xi. 39. Their good works were not done with a pure intention they sought not God, but themselves, in all they did; their prayers, their alms, their fastings, were directed to the gaining of the applause of the world; to the end they might be honoured and esteemed by men. And whilst they avoided the more scandalous excesses of the grosser carnal sins of drunkenness and impurity, which might have rendered them infamous in the eyes of the world, they made no scruple of the spiritual sins, (much more odious to God,) of envy, hatred, detraction, covetousness, and an extravagant pride and conceit of themselves, joined with a contempt of all others. Thus all the good they seemed to do was quite vitiated and corrupted; all their virtues were but in appearance and before the eyes of men; but their vices were real and abominable in the sight of God. Christians, take heed of this leaven of the Pharisees, as your Lord admonishes you; take heed of hypocrisy, of ostentation, and an outward show of devotion, destitute of the real substance of it. All the glory of the true spouse, the daughter of the king is within; it lies hidden in the interior of the soul. Take heed lest pride or vainglory vitiate your good actions by vitiating your intention. Keep yourselves clean, not only from all the defilements of the flesh, but of the spirit also; for these are the more heinous sins of the two. O! see that nothing of the Pharisee corrupt the Christian in you.

Consider 3rdly, what the justice is which Jesus Christ insists upon as necessary to the eternal salvation of our souls. It consists not in mere outward professions; for 'not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven,' Matt. vii. 12. Nor will faith alone suffice to Christian justice, James ii. 17, 24. Nor will alms, prayers, or fastings alone make any one just, (as we see in the very case of the Pharisee,) nor any outward form of worship;, without the inward spirit, nor anything else that can be separated from obedience to the commandments, from true Christian humility and divine charity. No, my soul, the justice that is to bring thee to heaven is to keep the commandments, Matt. xix. 17; it is to 'do the will of thy Father who is in heaven,' Matt. vii. 21; it is to be 'poor in spirit,' Matt. v. 3; it is to be 'humble like a little child,' Matt. xviii. 3,4; it is to 'love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength, and to love thy neighbour as thyself.' This is Christian justice indeed! Do this, and thou shalt live. But where any part of this is wanting, nothing else can make any man just.

Conclude to be quite in earnest in seeking and following after this Christian justice in all its branches, by purity of intention in all thy works; by sincerity and simplicity, or uprightness of soul; by attending to thy interior, to keep that regular and orderly; by true humility of heart; and above all things by fleeing sins and loving God; and thus shalt be just indeed before the Lord, and entitled to his heavenly kingdom.

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Admin

Administrator
14th Nov.

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The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a treasure, &c. Matt. xiii. 44


Consider first, that by the kingdom of heaven, in this and many other places of the gospel, we are to understand that heavenly kingdom by which God reigns by his grace in our souls. A heavenly kingdom indeed which we are commanded to seek in the first place, Matt. i. 33, and which we are taught daily to pray for in the second petition of the Lord's prayer. Now this kingdom of grace in our souls is here likened to a treasure, because of its inestimable value; it is worth more than all the kingdoms of the earth; it brings God himself into our souls, to live and reign there for ever. But then it is a hidden treasure, because the children of this world are strangers to the true value of it; and though they have heard of the field, (of virtue and devotion,) where it is to be found by seeking and by digging for it, they are far more fond of the childish toys, which amuse them at present, than of a treasure unseen; and therefore they are unwilling either to incur the charges of purchasing this field, or the pains of digging for this treasure. Not so the man in the gospel, who having discovered this treasure, sets his whole heart upon it, hides it diligently, and for the joy thereof goes and sells all he has, and buys that field. See, my soul, if this be thy disposition. Dost thou consider this kingdom of divine grace as a treasure indeed, and the richest of all treasures? Is thy heart set upon it? For where thy treasure is, there thy heart will be. Art thou willing to purchase at any rate that blessed field where this treasure lies?

Consider 2ndly, the lessons we are taught by our Lord in this parable, particularly with regard to the value we ought to set upon divine grace; the great esteem and affection we ought to have for our spiritual advancement; and for all such things as may help our souls forward, and bring them nearer to our God. We are here also taught that the Christian who desires to secure to himself this heavenly treasure, which he has begun to discover, must not make a show of it by ostentation or vainglory - which would be the direct way to lose it - but must hide it by humility, like a traveller who, carrying a treasure about him, endeavours to conceal it for fear of robbers. Moreover, we are taught that, to make this treasure our own, we must purchase the field where it lies, and that this purchase will stand us in all we are worth. This field, in which this spiritual treasure is concealed is true wisdom: 'tis a devout and virtuous life; 'tis the following of Christ in good earnest, and being his true disciples. Now, to purchase a field of so great a value as this is, we must part with all things else - that is we must give up all other affections to embrace and follow Christ; but then, in exchange, he, on his part, will make over to us all his treasures, and himself into he bargain.

Consider 3rdly, Christian soul, if you desire to have a share in so great a happiness, by what steps you are to advance towards it, and to come to the possession of it. And first, you must be convinced by the word of God and by the light of faith that there is a treasure of inestimable value designed by your heavenly Father for you, to enrich you both for time and eternity, if you will but make use of the proper means to find it out and to make it your own. The next step must be to conceive a great esteem for this heavenly treasure - an ardent desire to acquire it, and a strong resolution to spare neither pains nor costs in the acquisition of it. The desire and resolution must be followed by a diligent inquiry after the field of wisdom and virtue, where this treasure is hidden, and then digging here till it is found. Now, all this is to be effected by the exercise of consideration and mental prayer. Yes, my soul, it is by daily opening thy eyes to the light of God and to his divine truths in meditation that thou shalt both learn what a treasure there is in virtue, and how thou art to be put in possession of it. Here thou wilt discover the beauty of holiness; how sweet it is to love God, and how happy to serve him in good earnest: here thou shalt be inflames with a fervent desire of procuring for thyself so great a happiness, and with a holy hunger and thirst after it. The pondering well, by deep consideration, eternal truths, is like digging for the treasure of the kingdom of heaven; and the affections and resolutions of the soul, by which she is determined at all events to consecrate the remainder of her life to divine love, is like selling all to purchase this field where this treasure is deposited.

Conclude to use thy best endeavours to seek without ceasing for this treasure of the kingdom of heaven in the field of virtue and devotion. and to dig daily for it by the daily exercise of meditation and mental prayer, and thou shalt not fail to find it.

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Admin

Administrator
15th Nov.

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ON THE PARABLE OF THE MARRIAGE FEAST. MATT. xxii.


Consider first, how our Lord here likens the kingdom of heaven, (that is his spiritual kingdom, which he came from heaven to establish, and which is to bring our souls to heaven,) to a marriage feast which a great king makes for the wedding of his son. To this feast many are invited who refuse to come; many take no notice of the invitation, but go their ways -- one to his farm, another to his traffic; many afflict and persecute even to death the messengers that are sent to call them to the wedding. All these, then, are rejected and condemned; and in their place the poor, the blind, and the lame are gathered together from the highways and from the hedges, and are brought in to be guests at the royal feast. But the man that presumed to come without having a wedding garment is ordered to be bound hand and foot, and to be cast out into the exterior darkness, here there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. So far the parable; now let us see how it is to be applied, and what sacred truths we are to learn from it. The Son of God came down from heaven to wed himself to our human nature by the mystery of his incarnation, and to every one of our souls in particular, by a happy union of grace and love. This is the wedding which the great king of heaven and earth makes for his only Son. The marriage feast with which this wedding is celebrated is begun here upon earth by grace, in the souls of as many as sincerely come to Christ with faith and love, and shall be perpetual hereafter by the eternal enjoyment of him in his heavenly paradise. To this marriage feast both Jews and Gentiles were long ago invited by the apostles and other messengers of God; and all nations are still invited to the same, as well by apostolic preachers sent amongst them for their conversion, as by many other ways by which God daily calls souls to his love and service, in order to their salvation. Happy they that duly correspond with these heavenly calls and readily come to this feast, to which they are so lovingly invited by so great a king! But then they must take care to come with the proper dispositions, signified by the wedding garment; without which they must not expect any part with the bridegroom in his everlasting banquet.

Consider 2ndly, the infinite goodness of God, manifested to us in this parable, by his inviting us all to this heavenly feast - considering what this feast is, what kind of entertainment he has here prepared for us - and how very wretched and undeserving we are of any such favour. But O, the strange stupidity of so many poor thoughtless mortals who daily slight and neglect this divine invitation! O how blind, how miserable, how wicked are they to prefer these worldly toys, this farm, this traffic, these empty, airy bubbles before this divine banquet, where God desires to feast their souls with himself by the sweet blessings and communications of his graces here, and by the inebriating them hereafter for all eternity with the plenty of his house, and making them drink of the torrent of his pleasures at the very head of the fountain of life.

Consider 3rdly, the dreadful consequences of neglecting or rejecting these heavenly invitations, by which we are called to the marriage feast of the Lamb. Alas! our all is here at stake: our whole happiness for time and eternity absolutely depends upon our coming to his feast. We shall be perpetually miserable if we are excluded from it. And shall we be so wretched as wilfully to exclude ourselves by refusing to come when we are so pressingly invited by the king of heaven? Will he not highly resent this contemptuous treatment; this slighting of his gracious calls; this preferring the vanities and lying fooleries of the world before him and his banquet? O, there is nothing moves him more to indignation! 'Tis this crying sin is the principal cause of the reprobation of all that are lost. And therefore our Lord concludes this parable with that terrible sentence, that many are called, but few are chosen, to excite us to a diligence and fervour in corresponding with grace, and to convince us that if we are not of the number of the elect the fault is entirely ours, in not answering the calls of heaven, but preferring mere baubles, even the idols of our passions, before that marriage feast to which he so graciously invites us.

Conclude, O my soul, to secure at least thy own eternal welfare by a ready compliance with all the gracious calls of heaven, and by being quite serious and in earnest in hastening to this feast of grace, to which thou are invited. But remember to take along with thee the wedding garment of divine love, with a happy and holy resolution and determination of dedicating and consecrating what remains of thy life to thy God; of flying all known and wilful sin more than any other evil whatsoever; of being faithful until death; and of labouring to advance every day more than before in the way of God and true life. With this wedding garment thou shalt be both a welcome and an eternal guest; without it, thou shalt be sentenced to be cast out into the exterior darkness.

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16th Nov.

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On the parable of the Barren Fig Tree. Luke. xiii.


Consider first, that all Christians are like trees planted in the vineyard of Christ, and that he expects of them all that they should bring forth fruit, each one in his kind. He will not be content with their making a fair show with beautiful leaves, nor yet with the bringing forth a meaner sort of fruit, unworthy of his vineyard; but he requires that they should bring forth good fruit, and declares, (Matt. vii. 19.) 'that every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire.' This sentence, than, stands against all such trees as are barren in our Lord's vineyard; yes, the axe is already laid at the root of them all, (Matt. iii. 10.) However, as we see in the parable of the fig-tree, God, in his great patience and mercy, bears with them for a while, and suspends the execution of the sentence, in hopes of their coming in time to bring forth good fruit, till, after repeated disappointments, he lets the sentence take place; and suddenly cuts them down to be the fuel of a fire that shall never be extinguished. See here, my soul, and dread the sad consequences of continuing to be a barren tree in the vineyard of our Lord, and despising the riches of his goodness, and his patience and long suffering, with which he waits so long, in hopes of good fruit.

Consider 2ndly, as to thy own particular, how much thou owest to God for having planted thee in his vineyard, and for all that he has done for thee, that thou mightest be fruitful. O, how often has he visited thee during all these past years, with the dew of heaven and with the wholesome showers of his divine graces? What dressing and attention has he not daily bestowed upon thee? How early a knowledge has he given thee of himself? How often hast thou been favoured with his heavenly word, by which his divine will has been notified to thee? How often hast thou been admitted to his sacraments, the fountains of grace and life? These are great advantages indeed: these have made many trees very fruitful; these have made many great saints. But what fruits have they produced in thee? How hast thou corresponded with all these visits and favours of heaven? Hast thou not, at the best, contented thyself with the leaves of some outward performances like those of the Scribes and Pharisees, that might please the eyes of the world, without bearing any real fruits of solid Christian virtue? If so, remember what a sentence stands at present against thee, and prevent the execution of it by a speedy and hearty repentance and conversion to God, and by beginning at least to bring forth the good fruit of a new life before the time of thy reprieve expire, the term of which is unknown to thee, and may be very near at hand.

Consider 3rdly, that the fruit which God expects from thee, is not merely that thou shouldst refrain from scandalous excesses; or that thou shouldst lead a moral, honest life, as many pagans have done; or that thou shouldst frequent the public worship of the church; or any other external duties, which may be liable to be ill performed for want of a pure intention, or corrupted with pride or self-love; but the fruits which God calls for, and insists upon, are such as are solid and sound at heart; such as are never to be found in hypocrites or impostors, or any others but truly good Christians. Such are an unfeigned humility and contempt of ourselves; the mortification of our own will, of our passions and corrupt inclinations, by the virtues of obedience and self-denial; a conformity in all things with the holy will of God; sincere piety and devotion, and above all things true and perfect charity, by loving God with our whole hearts, and every neighbour, whether friend or enemy, in him and for him. These are good fruits indeed; and the trees that bring forth such fruits as these are good trees. But where these fruits are wanting, and either pride, or passion, or self-love still prevails, neither alms nor fastings, nor long prayers, nor daily frequenting the sacraments, nor speaking with the tongues of men and angels, nor prophesying, nor working of miracles, nor even raising the dead to life, will secure any tree from the dreadful judgment of being cut down, and cast into the fire.

Conclude to look well to thyself, and examine what kind of fruits thine are; and whether good and sound, and fit to be presented to the Lord of the vineyard; or at the best but wild, and sour, or rotten at heart, by the corruption of thy pride and self-conceit; and take care to purge away, whilst thou hast time, whatever either hinders the fruit from ripening, or rots and corrupts it. Thy eternal welfare absolutely depends upon thy bringing forth a store of good fruit upon which thou mayest live for ever.

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17th Nov.

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ON THE PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON, LUKE XV.


Consider first, in the prodigal son, a lively image of the misery of every poor sinner, who by wilful sin goes away from his father's house, into a far country, even the region of death, and there wastes all his substance, by living riotously; that is, loses and squanders away all the graces he had received from God, and abuses all his gifts and talents, by making them all subservient to his criminal passions and lusts. Alas! how soon does he experience the famine that reigns in the country! A mighty famine indeed! A dismal want of the bread of life, and of all true nourishment; a perpetual emptiness of the soul; a hunger and thirst that is never to be satisfied. For all that is brought to market there, though sold at a very dear rate, is but mere wind, froth, and bubbles, that can never fill the belly. In vain does that poor wretch, under this famine, sell himself for a slave to one of the citizens of that region, even to Satan, the ruler of that land of darkness, who sets him to feed his swine, viz, his own brutal passions and carnal inclinations: for he finds himself still perishing for hunger and want; he is not allowed to fill himself, even with the husks which the swine eat; they leave him still empty. Ah! sinners, see the dismal state you reduce yourselves to, when you turn your backs upon your Father and choose rather to be slaves of the devil than children of God. O never expect any solid satisfaction or so much as one happy hour till you return home again to your Father's house!

Consider 2ndly, the steps by which the prodigal child was reclaimed, and brought home to his father; and thou shalt find that the beginning of his conversion was his return to himself, and being made sensible of his great misery. Alas! the poor deluded soul, at the same time that she leaves her Father's house, by forgetting her God, leaves also and forgets herself; and is so strangely blinded and bewitched by the world, the flesh, and the devil as to imagine herself free, under the worst of slaveries; rich under the extremity of want; and honourable and happy in the very midst of disgrace, confusion, and perpetual uneasiness. But when she begins to open her inward eyes to the light of God by serious consideration, and to return into herself, she is greatly alarmed at the sight of her present wretched condition and the dreadful dangers that surround her on all sides, and threaten her continually with nothing less than a miserable eternity. No, it is a ready correspondence with this heavenly light and grace, by a desire to return to the best of Fathers, that is the first step to the prodigal's conversion. But then see, my soul, how he rises up immediately, without the least delay, to follow the call. See with what dispositions of a most profound humility, with what a sense of his own unworthiness, with what a deep sorrow and contrition for his sins, he makes the best of his way home. O give ear to his sentiments on this occasion: 'I will arise,' saith he, 'and I will go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee: I am not now worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.' O that all sinners, who have imitated the prodigal in his extravagances, would imitate him also by returning to themselves, as he did, and by rising without delay, to go and to seek the true Father of their souls, with the like dispositions of a contrite and humble heart!

Consider 3rdly, the infinite goodness and mercy of God, expressed to us in the manner in which this heavenly Father received the prodigal child returning to him. He did not stay till he came to his house; but 'when he was a great way off, he saw him, and was moved with compassion; and running to him, he fell upon his neck, and kissed him.' He scarce gave him time to confess his guilt, before he ordered 'his servants to bring forth quickly the first robe and to put it on him, and to put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, and to bring the fatted calf, and kill it: and let us eat,' said he 'and make merry: because this my son was dead, and is come to life; he was lost, and is found.' O blessed be this infinite goodness and mercy for ever, which daily exerts itself in this manner, and works the like wonder in favour of penitent sinners! He first excites them to desire to come home to him; he has pity on them, when as yet they are a great way off; he runs out to meet them; he lovingly receives them into his embraces; he clothes them again with the sacred robe of his divine grace; he restores them to the honour and dignity of his children, and to all the ornaments of virtue and grace, which they had forfeited by sin; he admits them to the divine banquet of the body and blood of his only Son; and curses all his heavenly court to celebrate a feast of joy upon their conversion. And shall not all this loving kindness, this tender mercy, these extraordinary favours shown to penitent sinners, encourage thee, my soul, and effectually determine thee to quit for good and all the husks of swine, and to run to the embraces of this Father of mercies?

Conclude, if thy case be like that of the prodigal, in being in a far country, away from thy Father's house - that is, at great distance from thy God, by mortal sin, perishing for hunger and want, among the husks of swine - to determine to imitate the prodigal, in his ready correspondence with grace, in the resolution with which he presently rises and returns to his Father, in the dispositions of humility and contrition, and this great Father will undoubtedly receive thee as he did him; and all his heavenly family shall feast and rejoice at thy conversion.

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18th Nov.


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ON THE PARABLE OF THE UNJUST STEWARD. LUKE. XVI


Consider first, that this steward being accused to his Lord of having wasted his substance, as called upon by him, 'to give an account of his stewardship, for that he could now be steward no longer;' and friends among his master's debtors, by discounting a considerable part of what they stood charged in their bills to his master, that so they might be willing to receive him into their houses, and to entertain him. In which, though he acted iniquitously with regard to his master, he did wisely according to what the world calls wisdom, with regard to the providing for himself against the evil day: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light. 'And I say to you,' saith our Lord, 'make to yourselves friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when you shall fail they may receive you into everlasting dwellings.' See here, Christians, the great lesson designed for you in this parable. Your having so often wasted the goods of your great master, ought to give you a just apprehension of your being quickly called by him to an account, and deprived of your stewardship. What then must you do in order to your future support, and everlasting livelihood? O, you must make yourselves friends, by the good use of the mammon of this world; that is, by liberal alms to God's poor servants; you must diligently exercise charity in all its branches; you must use your best endeavours to reclaim sinners from the error of their way, and by that means procure for them a discharge from their debts; and your Lord will commend you for having done wisely for yourselves; and these friends you have thus made for yourselves will, through his mercy, be qualified to receive you hereafter into his eternal mansions.

Consider 2ndly, in how many respects we are all stewards to this great Lord. All that we have is his; our very being is his; our whole soul and body; all our powers, faculties and senses; all our gifts and talents; all that we possess corporally, or spiritually, our whole time, and all our worldly substance. In regard to all these things, we are stewards of God, and accountable to him. All these are goods that have been entrusted to us, but belong to this great master. We are unjust stewards if we waste any part of these goods; and the employing of any of them otherwise than according to his holy will and his divine ordinances, will be accounted wasting of them in the eyes of him before whom we shall one day most certainly appear to give an account of our whole stewardship, and of all the years we have had his goods in our hands. O, who shall be able to stand this examination of accounts, upon the issue of which an eternity depends! O, who shall be able to answer for one article in a thousand!

Consider 3rdly, O my soul, those words in the parable, as addressed to thee this day: Give an account of thy stewardship, and see what thou couldst say for thyself, if this day were to be thy last, and thy accounts were to be immediately inspected. Thou knowest not the day nor the hour - see then what account thou couldst give, if this were to be the day. For why shouldst thou expose thyself any longer to the dreadful dangers of being called upon when unprepared, to thy eternal condemnation? Alas! has there been hitherto any part of thy life, in which thou hast acted the part of an honest and faithful steward, with relation to the goods of thy master? How little share has he had in thy thoughts, words, and actions? How little of thy time has been employed in his service? How often have all thy powers and faculties, and all thy senses, both exterior and interior, been alienated from him, and made instruments of offence? How often have his choicest gifts and talents been abused and perverted? What is become of all the graces purchased for thee by the blood of Christ? Where are all the inspirations, calls, and reproaches of conscience with which he has visited thee? Where the sacraments thou hast received? The word of God, and so many other spiritual advantages, or temporal blessings, thou hast been favoured with? How few are there of all these goods of thy master which thou hast not wasted or perverted? He has even made over in a manner to thee the passion and death of his only Son, and deposited all his merits with thee in the sacred mysteries; and what little use or advantage hast thou hitherto made of them? Ah! my poor soul, in how wretched a state indeed are all our accounts! And what have we not to apprehend from the justice of our Lord for having been such wicked stewards all our lifetime?

Conclude now at least to set thy accounts in order, to rectify all that has hitherto been amiss, and henceforward to begin anew by dedicating thy whole self and all thou hast to the love and service of him, to whom all belongs upon all manner of titles. It is a most crying injustice to waste his goods - how much more to employ them against himself by wilful sin?

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Administrator
19th Nov.

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ON THE RICH MAN AND THE POOR BEGGAR


Consider first, the words of our Lord in the gospel: - 'There was a certain rich man,' saith he, 'who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and feasted sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores: desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table: and no one did give him: moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. And the rich man also died, and he was buried in hell. And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom; and he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me; and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. And Abraham said to him, Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime; and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is fixed a great chaos: so that they who would pass from hence to you cannot; nor from thence come hither,' & c. See here, my soul, a great difference in life - between the rich man abounding in all that this world could give, and living in pleasures and delights, and the poor beggar wanting even the necessaries of life, and languishing under a multitude of sores and ulcers; but look, and observe how quickly the scene is changed, and what a great and eternal difference immediately succeeds after death, when the one is comforted with everlasting joy and happiness, and the other plunged into the extremity of endless misery, where he cannot be allowed even one drop of water to cool his tongue.

Consider 2ndly, what it was that brought the rich man to this place of eternal woe, since there is no mention in the gospel of any scandalous excesses that he was guilty of; no blasphemies, or perjuries, or profane swearing; no murders, no adulteries, or other impurities; no thefts, no rapines, or extortions; no slanders, or detractions, or lies: it is only said that he was clothed in purple and fine linen, and feasted sumptuously every day - things in which, considering his state and condition, the world apprehends no sin. What, then, can we suppose to have been the occasion of his damnation? O! Christians, his sins were chiefly sins of omission of the service of God. He led an idle life; he loved his pleasures more than God; he made a god of his belly; he had no concern for the poor; so that he lived in a continual breach of the two great commandments of loving God with his whole heart, and of loving his neighbour as himself: and certainly there need no other sins to send any man to hell. See then, my soul, thou never flatter thyself with the imagination of thy being innocent, or promise thyself any security because thou art not guilty perhaps of the grosser sorts of sins, whilst thou leadest an idle, unprofitable life, following the ways and maxims of worldlings, and loving the honours, riches, or pleasures of the world better than God: for such a life as this can never bring any one to heaven - 'tis too remote from the narrow way that leads to life.

Consider 3rdly, in the case of the poor beggar, the happy fruits of patient suffering, of a true conformity in all things to the will of God, and of always keeping one's self close to him, by recollection and divine love, in every place, occupation, or condition of life. For it was thus the poverty and the pains of Lazarus where sanctified and made the seeds of his eternal happiness. O that all such Christians as share in any part of his sufferings were so wise and happy in their comportment under them, as to reap the like fruits for eternity, from their temporal evils! But O, it is the want of a lively faith in the great truths of God delivered to us in the scripture; it is the want of a true sense of the goods and evils of eternity; it is the want of seriously thinking and considering that it is too often the bane both of the rich and of the poor: for otherwise, as our Lord here informs us, these scripture truths ought to influence us more powerfully, towards the total change of our lives, than even if any person were to come from the dead to preach unto us.

Conclude to labour and pray for heavenly wisdom to conduct thee in such a manner, in the midst of the goods and evils of this transitory life, that both the one and the other may be made subservient to thy eternal happiness.

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Admin

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20th Nov.


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ON THE CHARITABLE SAMARITAN. LUKE X.


Consider first, that our Lord, to teach us that general charity which we owe to the whole world, without exception or distinction of nation or opinion, proposes himself to us in this parable, as the perfect pattern of this charity, in the person of a Samaritan, a people differing both in nation and religion from the Jews. 'A certain man,' saith he, 'went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him, and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead. And it chanced that a certain priest went down the same way, and seeing him, he passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place, and saw him, passed by. But a certain Samaritan, being on his journey, came near him; and seeing him, was moved with compassion; and going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine; and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said: take care of him: and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I at my return, will repay thee.' See here, my soul, in this charitable Samaritan, an image of what thy Lord has done for thee, and go thou, as he tells thee in the application of the parable, and do in like manner; that is, show thou the like mercy and charity to thy neighbours, as Christ has shown to thee. This will be indeed a charity both to them and to thyself; since it will bring thee to possess eternal life, v. 25. Yes, my soul, 'this do, and thou shalt live,' v. 28.

Consider 2ndly, in this parable the wretched condition into which man has fallen by sin. Going down from Jerusalem, which is interpreted the vision of peace, to Jericho, which signifies the moon (that is, turning his back to his God, and to all true peace, to seek a false happiness in the forbidden fruit of worldly enjoyments, which are continually changing like the moon.) he fell among robbers, that is he fell into the hands of wicked spirits, and became their prey. He was stripped by them of all the gifts of grace, with which he had been adorned by his creator, and was grievously wounded in all his powers and faculties. His understanding was darkened with ignorance and error in his notions of good and evil, and his will perverted with malice in the preferring evil before good: all his passions were let loose upon him, having lost their bridle of original justice, and his whole soul was in a strange disorder - weak beyond expression to everything that is good, and violently bent upon evil. thus he lay half dead; his better part, viz., the soul, being dead indeed by the loss of its true life, the grace of God; and both the soul and body being condemned by divine justice to a second and eternal death; and in this state he was like to remain, being utterly incapable of himself of making one step towards his deliverance, and so must have inevitably perished to eternity, had not this charitable Samaritan come down from heaven to his relief. O the dismal consequences of sin! O the infinite goodness of God! And shalt not thou, my soul - who hast had the experience both of the one and of the other - from henceforth at least, dread, detest, and fly with all thy power from that worst of evils, sin, and embrace henceforward, with all thy affections, this sovereign goodness of thy God?

Consider 3rdly, by descending to particulars, what his infinite goodness has done for lost man, in sending down his only Son to be our pious Samaritan, to deliver us from all our evils, and to impart all good to ours souls. Alas! the priest and the Levite passed us by, and left us languishing under our wounds and miseries. For the law and its ministers were not able to heal or to relieve us. but our good Samaritan had compassion on us; his tender mercies brought him down form his throne of glory to our assistance. He has bound up our wounds, by suffering himself to be wounded for our iniquities; that by his stripes we might be healed. He has applied to our wounded souls the heavenly medicines of his sacraments, signified by the wine and oil. He has set us upon his own beast, by bearing our sins himself in his own body upon the tree of the cross. He has brought us to the blessed inn of his holy church, where all graces and means of salvation are abundantly furnished to all that ask and seek for them. He has given the charge of our souls to the keepers of this inn, that is to his apostles and their successors, the pastors of this his holy church, divinely commissioned and assisted by him; and he has promised them a most ample reward for all eternity, to repay them for the care they shall take of us. O what return shall we make to our Lord for all this mercy, and all this love he has thus shown to us! O, he desires no other return, but that we should love him, and show mercy to one another.

Conclude to make him this return of love; but see it be with thy whole heart; for he will not accept of a love that allows of any creature to stand in competition with him. See also thou never forget that there is no loving him without a sincere disposition of showing mercy to thy neighbours for his sake, and by his great example.

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21st Nov.

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On the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin
Quae est ista quare processit sicut sol, et formosa tamquam Jerusalem?

Consider first, that the church celebrates on this day the early dedication which the blessed Virgin made of herself to God, and to his eternal love and service; when, as we learn by pious tradition, she was presented by her holy parents, St. Joachim and St. Ann, in the temple of the Lord, and remained there in the company of other virgins, in an apartment allotted for that purpose in one of the courts of the temple. Learn, my soul, from this presentation of the blessed Virgin, the great advantages of early piety, and the happiness of dedicating one's self from one's childhood to divine love; as also the duty incumbent on all parents to present their children to God; to keep them at a distance from the contagion of bad company, and from all the false maxims and corrupt ways of a wicked world; and to train them up in the love and fear of God. The blessed Virgin was brought by divine inspiration to the house of God, where she lived remote from the noise and distractions of the world, because she was to be the house where the Son of God himself would be incarnate, and the living temple in which he would live. Christians, do you desire that your souls should be also the house of God, and the living temples of his glory? It is by withdrawing yourselves as much as possible from the tumult and confusion of the world: it is by continually presenting yourselves to God in his inward temple, by a spirit of recollection and mental prayer, that you are to attain to this happiness.

Consider 2ndly, in this presentation of the blessed Virgin - on the one hand, the voice of God calling her to his house, (in order to the disposing of her soul for the great things he was to work in her,) in the words of Psalm xliv., 'Hear, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear, and forget thy people and thy father's house; and the king shall greatly desire thy beauty; for he is the Lord thy God, and him they shall adore;' - and, on the other hand, the devotion and fervour with which she corresponds with the call; the resolution with which she ascends the fifteen degrees or steps that lead to that temple, resolving to ascend in like manner by all the degrees of virtue, to the very top of perfection; the profound adoration with which, prostrating herself upon the ground, she adored his divine majesty at her first coming into the house, and the oblation she there makes of her whole self to his perpetual service. Learn, Christian souls, the like correspondence with divine grace, when it calls you to God; the like devotion, fervour, and resolution in his service; the like adoration and oblation of yourselves to him. In this sacred retreat the blessed Virgin gave the first example of a consecration of herself to God, by a vow of perpetual virginity, (as she was inspired to do by the Spirit of God,) desiring in all things to choose the better part, and to render the sacrifice she made of her soul and body more perfect, more firm, and secure, by the means of her vow. Learn of her a love of purity and chastity, and a resolution of preserving it with all the perfection that thy condition of life shall allow of, and for this end daily beg the assistance of her prayers.

Consider 3rdly, the exercise which the blessed Virgin followed in the temple, for she certainly was not idle there. As the Holy Ghost continually visited and solicited her with his heavenly inspirations and graces, so she, who never received the grace of God in vain, continually opened the door of her heart to these visits, and co-operated with these graces with all her strength, and by these means every day of her life, as she increased in age, so she grew in virtue, grace, charity, and sanctity. And as to the employment of her time whilst she was in the temple, her whole life there was spent in ascending or descending by the mystical ladder of Jacob, Gen. xxviii. 12, which reacheth from the earth to heaven, and has God at the top of it. She ascended this ladder by employing a great part of her days in spiritual reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation, which are named by St. Bernard for the steps or degrees of this heavenly ladder. And she descended again by the humble exercises of working with her hands for the service of the temple, for the use of her companions, or for the benefit of the poor. Yet so, that even whilst her hands were employed at work, her heart was still with God by prayer and love. O how holy, O how happy, is this kind of ascending and descending by Jacob's ladder! Lord, give us grace to follow this great example, and to be always upon this ladder which conducts to heaven.

Conclude, O my soul, to imitate this presentation of the blessed Virgin by frequent oblations, at least, of thyself to God every day of thy life. Be cautious indeed how thou engagest thyself by vow, without taking good counsel, and mature deliberation, because of thy frailty; but as to making an offering of thy whole heart and soul to thy God, with all thy thoughts, words, and actions, it is what thou canst not do too often.

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22nd Nov.
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On the Phrisee an the Publican, Luke xviii.


Consider first, how our Lord spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves as just, and despised others. 'Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one was a Pharisee and the other a publican. This Pharisee standing prayed thus with himself: O God, I give thee thanks, that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes towards heaven, but struck his breast, saying: O God, be merciful to me a sinner! I say to you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.' O my soul, beware of this unhappy disposition; dread these two most pernicious evils of trusting in thyself as just, and of despising others. Those that are truly just, are far from thinking themselves so. They are far from glorying in themselves, far from attributing anything of good to themselves, or preferring themselves before any one living. In the judgment they make of themselves, they always sit down, according to the rule of their great master, in the lowest place of all. Their eyes are ever open to their own defects, and shut to those of others; at least where their duty does not require their inspection or correction of them. They are convinced that they have nothing in themselves that they can trust to; and that it is only owing to God's great mercy that they have not been guilty of the most enormous crimes that any poor wretch has ever committed; and therefore they never presume to despise anyone, not even the most scandalous sinner, lest they should be found worse than him in the sight of God, through their pride and self-conceit; crimes which they know to be always an abomination to the Lord. See, my soul, if these be thy sentiments.

Consider 2ndly, that it was this pride and self-conceit that is here condemned in the Pharisee, and which was the cause of his condemnation. He was of the number of those that trusted in themselves as just, and despised all others. He was full of himself. In his prayer he neither craved mercy nor grace of God; he asked for nothing, because he took himself to be rich and wealthy, and not to stand in need of anything; whereas, indeed, through his pride he was 'wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked,' Apoc. iii. 17. His whole prayer was only an enumeration of his own good works, with a censure upon the rest of men, and condemnation of the poor publican. And as he asked for nothing, so he obtained nothing, but only carried home with him his own condemnation. See, my soul, the sad consequences of pride, and its particular opposition to the spirit of prayer; and learn to detest with all thy power, and to drive far from thee, an evil that is so detestable in the sight of God - whom it sacrilegiously robs of his glory - and so pernicious to the souls of men, whom it transforms into devils, and condemns to hell.

Consider 3rdly, the lessons we are to learn from the example of the publican set before us by our Lord in this parable for our imitation. he had a true sense of his sins, and of what he had deserved for his sins; and therefore he condemned himself as unworthy to lift up his eyes to heaven, or to come near to the altar of God; but standing afar off, with his countenance humbly cast down upon the ground, he struck his breast, saying, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner' Now this profound humility, this great sense of sorrow and contrition for his sins which accompanied his prayer, was that which procured him a favourable audience and a ready discharge from all his sins. His prayer was heard because it was presented and recommended by a contrite and humbled heart, and by the efficacy of it he went home justified; whilst the proud Pharisee, who was so full of the conceit of his own good works, met with nothing but his condemnation. O let us learn these great lessons of humility and of perfect contrition for our sins; let us, as often as we go up to the temple of God to pray, carry with us this sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart, and we shall not fail of meeting with the like mercy as the publican did.

Conclude to study well these lessons, so much recommended and so frequently inculcated by our Lord in the gospel. Oh! ever remember that humility and contrition of heart bring us to God; but pride and self-conceit carry us far away from him. For 'He resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble,' St. James iv. 16.

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23rd Nov.

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On the parable of the Grain of Mustard Seed. Matt. XII


Consider first, that under this humble similitude of so small a thing as a grain of mustard see, great and divine truths are delivered to us by truth itself, when he tells us that the kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed. The kingdom of heaven, in the gospel, is taken in three different ways; sometimes for God's eternal kingdom, to which the just are invited, Matt. xxv. 34, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you,' & c., of which also it is said, Matt. xiii. 43, 'The just shall shine, as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father.' At other times the kingdom of heaven is taken for the church of Christ, in which he reigns for ever, as in his kingdom; and the institution and intention of which is to bring men to heaven: and thus the kingdom of heaven is likened to 'a net cast into the sea, and gathering together of all kinds of fishes,' & c., Matt xiii. 47; 'and to ten virgins who went out with their lamps to meet the bridegroom,' Matt. xxv. & c.: and of this kingdom it is said, that our Lord shall send his angels, (at the end of the world,) and 'they shall gather out of his kingdom all scandals, and them that work iniquity; and shall cast them into the furnace of fire,' & c. At other times again the kingdom of heaven is taken for the kingdom by which God reigns, by faith, grace, and love in the soul of good Christians: and thus 'the kingdom of heaven is likened to a treasure hidden in a field;' and to 'a pearl of great price,' Matt. xiii. 44, 46; and of this kingdom it is said, Luke xvii. 21, 'Lo, the kingdom of God is within you.' Now, the kingdom of heaven, according to all these three acceptations, is likened to a little grain of mustard seed; because all our good, faith itself, grace, and all our happiness, both for time and eternity, is grounded on humility. We must be little and humble upon earth; and we must become 'as little children, or we shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven,' Matt. xviii. 3.

Consider 2ndly, how well this similitude agrees to this spiritual kingdom of Christ in his church. Take a view of the beginning of this kingdom of heaven in a few poor fishermen, utterly destitute of any one of those advantages that might recommend them according to the world; see its very founder himself, a poor man, rejected, condemned, and put to a most disgraceful death, by public authority, at the unanimous desire of both the senate and the people of his own nation: then observe the most fundamental principles and practices upon which this kingdom was first founded and established: its doctrines most shocking to human pride; its maxims and precepts most insupportable to the natural inclinations of flesh and blood: and you shall find in all this the resemblance of the mustard seed; small, mean, inconsiderable, and contemptible in the eyes of the world. But then observe how quickly this little grain, after it had been buried, as it were, in the earth, sprung up, and even grew up into a large tree, which spread it branches far and near, by the wonderful progress of the church and kingdom of Christ made in short time over all the earth; see the many thousands of martyrs and other saints, of all states and conditions, it quickly produces; with innumerable examples of the most heroic virtues, such as none of the schools or sects of the philosophers, or any of the ancient or modern sages of the world, with all their learning and eloquence, and all their pretensions to wisdom, could ever come up to. And in all this admire and adore the wonderful ways of God, who ever delights in showing forth his greatness in things that are little; and in choosing the foolish things of the world and such as are weak, mean, and contemptible in the eyes of the world, to be the instruments of his greatest works.

Consider 3rdly, that this grain of mustard seed is also very expressive of the kingdom of God, by which he reigns by grace in our souls. The beginnings of this kingdom are small, like the mustard seed; the very first foundation of it must be laid by humility, of which the mustard seed is the emblem: for a contrite and humble heart is the most essential ingredient of the conversion of the soul to God, without which the kingdom of divine grace can never be established in the soul. Then this divine grace, like the grain of mustard seed, before it can spring up and produce the tree of Christian perfection, must first be sown, and as it were buried in the earth, by letting it sink deep into the soul and by harbouring it there, by the means of serious and frequent meditations, and the practice of mental prayer. For it is thus only that the soul can be qualified to grow up in all Christian virtues, till she become herself the kingdom of God, and a kind of heaven upon earth; the very temple in which God chooses to dwell; the house of God and the house of prayer. And thus the little grain of seed will grow into a great tree.

Conclude with a serious resolution to seek henceforward in good earnest this kingdom of heaven, represented by the mustard seed; which, as thou here seest, is not out of thy reach, since it may be found here upon earth, and that too without going any farther to seek it than into thy own interior; where, if thou properly seek it, by recollection and mental prayer, thou shalt quickly come at it, and be put in the possession of it. And all good things shall come to thee together with it.

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24th Nov.
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ON THE PARABLE OF THE TEN VIRGINS, MATT. XXV


Consider first, that these ten virgins, in this parable, represent to us the state of Christians in this mortal pilgrimage. We are all, by our vocation or calling to the Christian faith, appointed to go forth, with our lamps, to meet the bridegroom: because the business of a Christian in this life is to make the best of his way, by the help of the light of faith, towards his God and a happy eternity; and to be always in readiness for the coming of Christ, the great bridegroom of our souls. The lamps with which we are to go forth to meet Christ are the light of faith and all the divine truths of the Christian religion; the oil with which these lamps are to be kept burning are the works of faith, that is, the good works prescribed by the gospel, and particularly the works of mercy and charity, and the love of God above all things. Where this oil is wanting the lamps are extinguished, because faith without good works is dead. And thrice unhappy they who at the approaches of that uncertain hour of their departure hence, when they shall be called upon as in the middle of the night, to go forth to meet the bridegroom, shall find no oil in their lamps! Alas, where shall they then go to buy it? In all appearance, before they shall be in a condition to procure any, the bridegroom will come, and take along with him those whom he finds ready to his wedding feast; and shut the door against the rest, never, never to be opened, to all eternity!

Consider 2ndly, that all Christians belong to one or other of those two companies represented in this parable under the denomination of wise and foolish virgins. The good are truly wise, because they are wise according to God; and they are wise in order to eternity; inasmuch as they wisely provide for eternity. But O, how truly foolish are the wicked and all the children of Babylon, who continually forget both God and eternity! For what greater folly or what greater madness can there be, than to believe as Christians, and to live as infidels; to expect to go to heaven by the road that leads to hell; to be daily preferring darkness before light, slavery before liberty, misery before happiness, Satan before God; by preferring the state of sin before the state of grace? In a word, what can be more foolish than blindly to exchange all that is really good, both in time and eternity, for the very worst of evils, and such as will never have an end? And yet, alas! as we daily see, the number of such fools as these is infinite. But the folly that is here particularly censured in this parable, is that of Christians who make no provision of the oil of good works for the nourishment of their lamps, but go out to meet their Lord with expectation of being admitted by him to his eternal feast with Christian faith, without Christian charity; with believing in God without loving God, and keeping his commandments. Ah! my soul, take good care thou never be so foolish.

Consider 3rdly, that the great lesson designed for us in this parable is expressed in those words with which our Lord concludes, 'Watch ye, therefore, because ye know not the day nor the hour.' The bridegroom in the parable came in the middle of the night, that is at a time when he was least expected; according to what he has often signified, that he will come 'like a thief in the night,' and that we shall not know the hour of his coming. Nor that he desires to surprise us, for if he did he would not so often warn us; but that he desires we would always watch, and be always ready, that so we may never be surprised. 'What I say to you,' said he to his disciples, 'I say to all: Watch,' and again: 'Blessed are those servants whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching. Amen, I say to you that he will gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and passing he will minister to them.' Luke xii. 37. O! who can express or conceive the greatness of these heavenly rewards, of these highest honours, of these never-ending joys, signified here by our Lord's ministering in this manner himself to the servants whom he shall find watching? But O, the dismal case, on the other hand, of all them that instead of watching, and being always ready, are quite asleep as to all that relates to God and their souls; and are not awakened, either with the love or fear of God, till death opens their eyes, when 'tis too late; and then, like the foolish virgins, they find the door shut against them, and are sent away, with 'I know you not,' into the exterior darkness.

Conclude to bear always in mind this indispensable duty of watching, so frequently inculcated by the Son of God; that so thou mayest never be surprised and sleep in death; carrying always with thee the lamp of faith to enlighten thee; but never forgetting that this light must be kept in with the oil of good works.

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25th Nov.

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ON THE PARABLE OF THE TALENTS, MATT. XXV.


Consider first, how our Lord in this parable likens himself to a man going into a far country, who called his servants, and delivered to them his goods. And to one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one - to every one according to his proper ability - and immediately he took his journey. Our Lord, by his ascension, is gone into heaven - a far country indeed from this wretched earth, on which we dwell. But. 'ascending on high, he led captivity captive: he gave gifts to men,' Eph. iv. 1. He has plentifully distributed his goods and talents amongst his servants; to the end that they might trade with them, and improve the stock, during the time of his absence, till he shall come again and take an account of their good or evil management of their trust. He is the universal Lord of all; he distributes his talents amongst us all, according to his good pleasure. All whatsoever we have, as to soul or body, nature or grace, all belongs to him. we have nothing but what we have received from him; nor anything but what we are accountable for to him. and those that have received more than their neighbours, have nothing to be proud of: for 'what hast thou' says the apostle, 1 Cor. iv. 7, 'that thou hast not received? And if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory?' On the contrary, those that have received more ought to be so much the more humble, and to fear so much the more; because they are accountable for so much the more: for where more is given, more will be required. Christians, have you been rightly sensible of these truths? Have you considered your wit, your advantages of soul and body, your fortune, as you call it, your very time, and all other gifts, either of nature or of grace, as talents deposited in your hands? Have you ever seriously thought of the strict account you must one day give of them all?

Consider 2ndly, the difference use that these servants made of their master's money. for 'he that had received the five talents, went his way, and traded with the same, and gained other five: and in like manner, he that had received the two, gained other two. But he that had received the one, going his way, digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.' The two former are proposed for our imitation; that by the like industry, in corresponding with divine grace, and employing in a proper manner all the gifts of God, and laying hold on every opportunity of good, we may continually advance in virtue; and, like these good and faithful servants, improve and double our stock. O, how happy shall we be if we shall trade in this manner with the talents committed to our charge! And though one of these servants gained five talents, and the other but two, yet as the latter who had received but two, was no less industrious than the former - gaining as much in proportion as he; so as to double his stock as well as he - we find him rewarded in like manner; and the same eulogium given to him by his master; 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant; because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of the lord,' verse 23. O what encouragement is here for those who have received fewer talents; since we see, if they make proper use of what they have received, they shall be rewarded equally with them that have received more. But O, the sublime reward that is here set before us in these words: 'enter thou into the joy of thy lord!' for what is this joy of our Lord? O, nothing less than the everlasting possession of himself; an universal, incomprehensible, eternal good.

Consider 3rdly, how he that buried his master's money is here condemned, both as a slothful and a wicked servant; as a warning to all such Christians as, having received talents, that is, gifts, graces, or advantages of any kind from God, do not employ them to his greater honour and glory, or to their own or their neighbour's improvement or advancement in good; but through sloth and indolence let them be unregarded, and as it were hidden and buried in the earth; even in this unhappy earth, the world and the flesh, which engage all their thoughts, and affections more than the honour and glory of their Lord, or the eternal welfare of their own dear souls. but see where all this is like soon to end, by the sentence pronounced against this naughty servant: 'Take ye away the talent from him, and give it to him that hath the ten talents. for to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound; but from him that hath not, that also which he seemeth to have, shall be taken away. And the unprofitable servant cast ye out into exterior darkness, there, shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' But if the unprofitable servant come off so ill, who only buried his master's money, what will become of so many thousands, who do not content themselves with making no good use of the talents they are intrusted with, but squander them away, and even pervert and turn them all against their master, by making them the instruments of sin? O, my soul, hast thou never been so unhappy?

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Admin

Administrator
26th Nov.
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On the parable of the Vineyard let out to Husbandmen. Matt. XXI33


Consider first, what our Lord here tells us: that 'there was a certain householder, who planted a vineyard, and made a hedge round about it; and dug in it a wine-press, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a strange country.' This householder represents to us God himself; and this vineyard which he has planted is his universal church. But see my soul, what care he has bestowed upon this vineyard; fencing it in with his excellent laws, and his perpetual protection, as with a hedge; digging in it a wine-press, by the institution of his divine sacraments, the sources of his heavenly grace, pressed out for us from the sacred wounds of our crucified Saviour; and building in its favour a tower, in which he might watch over it by his extraordinary province, as well to keep evils away from it as to provide it with all good. This vineyard he lets out to husbandmen; that is to all men, inasmuch a he has given to all men a part, or share, in which each one is to labour; to wit, his own soul at least, and the souls of as many others as he has committed to his charge. And having done this, he withdraws himself, as it were, into a strange country, by keeping himself out of our sight, during the time of our mortal life, and patiently waiting for the fruit of this his vineyard, which we are to furnish in due season. O what lessons have we here, as well with regard to the goodness of our God on the one hand, in all that he has done for his vineyard, and for every part of it, and consequently for every Christian soul, as with regard to our indispensable duty, on the other hand, of corresponding with this his goodness by our labours, in producing and furnishing the fruit he expected.

Consider 2ndly, with regard to thyself, what this great Lord has done for the vineyard of thy soul in particular, by innumerable favours and graces of every kind which he has bestowed upon thee all thy life long, till this very hour; and by many happy opportunities of doing good, which he has afforded thee, (which if duly embraced by thee, might have made thee a saint,) beyond what he has granted to thousands of others. Then see if he may not say of thee, what he said heretofore of this vineyard of Jerusalem, Isaias v. 4, 'What is there that I ought to do more for my vineyard, that I have not done to it?' But after all this care on his part, what fruit hast thou hitherto produced for him? alas! may he not justly complain of thee, as he did of that Jewish vineyard, that instead of the good grapes, which he looked for from thee, thou hast only brought forth wild grapes? O dread then what he threatens, in the same place, in consequence of his being thus disappointed, in the words that immediately follow - 'I will show you,' said he, 'what I will do to my vineyard. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be wasted; I will break down the wall thereof, and it shall not be pruned, and it shall not be digged; but briars and thorn shall come up! and I will command the clouds to rain no rain upon it.' Can anything be more terrible than these threats of the soul's being thus abandoned and given up to a reprobate sense, in punishment of her still bringing forth no good fruit, after so many repeated favours and graces?

Consider 3rdly, in this parable, how the Lord of the vineyard sent, at different times, his servants to the husbandmen, to receive the fruits of it; but they persecuted them to death; till at length he sent his only son, whom they used in like manner. In punishment of which he brought these evil men to an evil end, and let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, that should render him the fruit in due season. This was literally verified in the Jews, to whom the parable was addressed by our Lord a few days before his passion. God sent to them, at divers times, his servants, the prophets, to call for the fruits of his vineyard; but they returned him no fruits; they even persecuted his messengers, and put several of them to death. At length, he sent them his only Son; and him they cast off, condemned to death, and crucified. And therefore, as our Lord here foretells, the kingdom of God (that is the vineyard of his church) has been long ago taken away from them, to be given to a nation (that is to the Gentiles) that should bring forth the fruits thereof. But all this is applicable, more or less, to the particular vineyard of the soul of each Christian. Wherefore, as to thy own part, O my soul, reflect how far thou hast imitated those unhappy husbandmen, in refusing to render to the Lord of the vineyard, in due season, the fruits which he has so often called for at thy hands by his messengers; that is, by his preachers, by his word, by his inspirations, by reproaches of conscience, &c.; and in persecuting those who he sent to thee, by wilfully resisting his graces, stifling his inspirations, and setting at nought all them who sought to bring thee to good. Alas! hast thou not, by thy obstinacy in sin, as much as lay in thee, even crucified again the Son of God? O take heed, lest if thou go on in this perversity, thou fall under the like sentence as the Jews did, of being brought to an evil end, and the kingdom of God be taken away from thee and given to another.

Conclude to look well to the vineyard of thy soul, that it may, be due correspondence with divine grace, bring forth its fruit in due season: even such good grapes as may be acceptable to the great Lord, who has let out his vineyard to thee, and who ceases not to furnish thee with all proper helps to make it fruitful.

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Administrator
27th Nov.

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On the merciful dealings of Christ Our Lord with sinners


Consider first, how Christ our Lord, whilst he was here visible upon earth, was pleased in a particular manner to show favour and mercy to poor sinners, and to express on all occasions his loving kindness to them; insomuch that the Scribes and Pharisees, (who being full of a conceit of their own justice, despised sinners, and kept them at a distance, saying, 'Depart from me, come not near me, because thou art unclean,' Isaias lxv. 5,) were ever objecting to this merciful Lord, that he suffered sinners to draw near unto him; that he received sinners, and did eat with them; that he was a friend to publicans and sinners, &c. Unhappy men, who did not understand that his infinite mercy and charity had bought him down from heaven on purpose to seek and to save sinners! And still more unhappy, in proudly thinking themselves to be just, and not sinners; and therefore rejecting him who came 'not to call the just, but sinners,' Matt. ix. 13, vainly imagining they had no need of him. Christians, see here and admire, embrace and love, the great mercy of your redeemer, and how much soever you may be involved in sin, assure yourselves that he is eve ready to receive you, if you will repent in a proper manner and return to him. But O, beware of the blindness of the Pharisees, and of a vain conceit of your own justice! For the first step towards your obtaining mercy must be an humble sense of your sins, and of the great need you have of mercy.

Consider 2ndly, the many instances recorded in the gospel of this merciful disposition of Christ our Lord in favour of sinners. As in his calling them to him, Matt. xi. 28, and even making them his disciples - as in the case of Matthew, &c. - and his frequently conversing most familiarly with them. To which add those remarkable examples of Magdalene, Luke vii.; of the Samaritan woman, John iv.; of the woman taken in adultery, John viii.; of the woman of Canaan, Matt. xv.; of Zacheus, Luke xix.; and of the thief upon the cross, Luke xxiii. And as both in his life and at his death, so after his resurrection also, he gave the like proofs of his loving kindness and his tender mercies to sinners, in the favour he showed both to Magdalene and to Peter, (who had so lately denied him,) by making to them his first visits after his rising from the dead. O! what encouragements are here, O my soul, for us to look for the like mercy from this same Lord, who is still as rich in mercy as ever. But then we must remember to go to him with the like dispositions of faith and repentance, love and humility, as these happy penitents did; and to take care, like them, to return no more to our sins.

Consider 3rdly, the parables by which our Lord has shown forth to us, in a most lively manner, his infinite goodness and mercy to poor sinners; as for instance, that of the good shepherd, Luke xv., who having lost one of his sheep, leaves the rest of his flock, and goes in quest of that which is lost, and ceases not to seek it till he has found it; and when he has found it, lays it upon his shoulders with joy, and coming hoe, calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying: 'Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.' In like manner, that of the charitable Samaritan, who showed such tender mercy to the man that had fallen among thieves; and that of the father of the prodigal child, who received so kindly and lovingly his ungracious son, returning home to him. In all which, my soul, thou mayest see a lively and a lovely image of that tender mercy, compassion, and goodness which thy redeemer has so often exercised and continues daily to exercise in favour of sinners. But what can he think too much, that he does for them for whom he has even shed the last drop of his blood? O blessed be his mercy for poor sinners! Ah, my soul were it not for these wonders of his mercy, we should long since have dwelt in hell!

Conclude to lay hold of this mercy of thy Saviour whilst thou hast time, by turning thyself away from all thy sins, from this very hour, and running to this Father of mercies, and dedicating thyself eternally to his service. For why shouldst thou any longer abuse his goodness and love by obstinacy in sin; or run the risk of provoking his justice to revenge upon thee the contempt of his mercy.

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